IN WHICH Ross Rheingans-Yoo, a sometimes-poet and erstwhile student of Computer Science and Math, oc­cas­ion­al­ly writes on things of int­erest.

Reading Feed (last update: June 21)

A collection of things that I was happy I read. Views expressed by linked authors are chosen because I think they're interesting, not because I think they're correct, unless indicated otherwise.

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Blog: Marginal Revolution | Which technological advances have improved the working of autocracy? — The big innovation in authoritarian governance has been this: subsequent autocratic leaders, most of all in China, have found ways of both liberalizing and staying in power.

Blog: Schneier on Security | Free Societies are at a Disadvantage in National Cybersecurity — "I do worry that these disadvantages will someday become intolerable. Dan Geer often said that "the price of freedom is the probability of crime." We are willing to pay this price because it isn't that high. As technology makes individual and small-group actors more powerful, this price will

April 17 Links: The Ecuadorian Tourism Agency, and Other Air Travel Pranks

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Ecuador, attempting to prove that it's indistinguishable from Costa Rica, tricks a tour group thinking they've gone to Costa Rica into believing that they were going to Costa Rica when in fact, they were taken to a part of Ecuador that was, apparently, indistinguishable from Costa Rica.

I'm really not kidding:

As Ecuador residents arrived, not in Costa Rica but another Ecuador airport, Tena, where they were given fake stamps in their passports as they went through a staged passport control. No attention to detail was spared as huge posters were placed over the welcome billboards at the airport. Adverts depicting Imperial beer and 'Esencial Costa Rica,' Costa Rica's national brand, were displayed in the airport to throw the group off the scent.

Even fictitious immigration documents and car licence plates were created to make the group think they were in Golfito, a port town in Costa Rica. On top of all that organisers used mobile phone and GPS blockers to keep passengers from using technology to discover

[China] Departure, Arrival

For the next ten days, I'll be in Beijing, China (specifically "The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China", I kid you not...) as a part of HSYLC, the (Harvard Association for US-China Relations) Summit for Young Leaders in China. Yeah, it's a mouthful.

More specifically, I'm here to teach math. I'll be teaching 3day*1.5hour seminars to four groups of 10-15 gifted students from high schools around China. In addition to that, I'll be expected to hold office hours, run a workshop on applying to college in the US, and lead extracurricular activities. (Mine will very likely be something dance-related.)

If you're curious about my actual curriculum, then rest assured that I'll write about it...later. Today's post is just a series of travel-journal snapshots from the past day-and-a-half-long day. Tomorrow, we begin checking in students, and on Thursday, we'll actually start classes. Until then, I'm adapting to life in a country where I literally can't communicate with most of the population... (On the bright side, they

Modest Proposals

edit: Long after the fact, this is probably the post that makes me cringe the most. I was young and callous and foolish then; please don't judge too harshly.

Rarely in my life do I get as violently angry as when forced to coexist with a crying child. (Context: some shortsighted sap brought his child onto this airplane, and now the small one feels a need to prove to the entire cabin that yes, his lungs are still operational.) I provide three modest proposals for addressing this inconvenience, on behalf of everyone involved. (That is, in the general case. The enjoyment of this plane ride may already be a lost cause.)

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A thousand-dollar fine for the parent of any baby who begins crying on a flight.

Unreasonable? Not at all. I, for one, would pay $10 for this noise to stop right now; I'd probably pay more for it never to have happened in the first place. But let's take the conservative estimate of$10/person (judging by the