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: July 28)

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 | How well is Germany dealing with the migration crisis? — "Whatever respite Germany may have gained this week is offset, and then some, by the arrival of a new and frightening political dynamic. Mr. Seehofer succeeded by going nuclear; chances are, he won’t be the last. The politics of fear and menace may be here to stay, undermining the foundations of democracy. In sound democracies, policies are the results of compromise between parties representing a majority of the voters. Through the politics of artificial crisis, minorities take the system hostage. They create policies redeeming fictional problems for fictional

# If I Ran the Zoo

content warning: Brief anecdote about inadvertent and nonmalicious -- but repeated -- misgendering. Discussion of moral-obligation-heavy social justice messaging.

While we were on finals-induced break...
(if you wish, skip over this news review)

College-Distributed Advice on Race Discussions Divides Students

At the close of a semester that saw a surge in racial tensions on college campuses nationwide, Harvard outfitted a number of dining halls with laminated guides printed with what purports to be advice for students discussing issues related to race and diversity with family members, but that some undergraduates decried as telling them what to think politically.

Adapted from a similar guide [link mine] published by an activist group called Showing Up for Racial Justice, the placemats address controversial topics including student activism about race at Yale and other colleges, the debate over whether the U.S. should welcome Syrian refugees, and Harvard’s recent decision to change the title of its "House master" position. (...)

Says Jasmine M. Waddell, resident dean for Elm Yard, as reported in the

# As Allies

content warning: political call to action.

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Say you are deeply, morally opposed to capitalism on principle, but nevertheless some inconsiderate person walks up to you, presses a dollar bill into your hand, and walks away. You already have more dollars than you need, and you certainly don't want to take part in the system you despise by spending it.

But then what do you do? Hide it away in order to level down inequity? Burn it in protest of the capitalist system that distributes luxuries to the rich instead of welfare to the starving?

Writes Scott Alexander:

If, as I’ve postulated, the reason we can’t solve world poverty and disease and so on is...the capture of our financial resources by the undirected dance of incentives, then what better way to fight back than by saying "Thanks but no thanks, I'm taking this abstract representation of my resources and using it exactly how I think it

# False Flag Flyers

content warning: defense of satire of certain critiques of racism; critique of censorship of satire of certain critiques of racism; critique of certain critiques of racism

content note: As should go without saying, zero defense of racism intended.

socioepistemic status: white male ally

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This post comes with a preface -- read it here before going further, at risk of missing the intended point.

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The Harvard Crimson | Posters Parodying Advocacy Magazine Prompt Controversy

Posters that parodied a new campus arts and advocacy magazine that focuses on issues of race and diversity prompted criticism from students and administrators in Pforzheimer House this past weekend.

...

Official Renegade posters in Pfoho had white backgrounds with black text containing phrases about race and diversity, such as "because Mather owned slaves"... The apparent parody posters, however, were black with white text and included the messages "because all straight white men are racist" and "because anyone that disagrees with me is racist." The posters included the url of the magazine’s website and its launch

# A Liberal Critique

content warning: discussion of discussion of rape; discussion of critique of an instance of opposition to racism

"Charity over absurdity", 5 of $\infty$.

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A friend pointed out on Facebook (I'm not going to hyperlink.) that they were seriously troubled that the first time I chose to write about race[1], it was against the idea that we should be doing more to fight racism:

The fact that the first thing that you have ever said about [race] is in defense of structural protections of racism -- even if I, personally, in this case... agree with you -- is highly suspicious, and it is important... to consider carefully how we choose the things about which to be passionate, [especially] publicly passionate, and how those choices influence those around us.

I'm actually pretty sympathetic to this view, though I was heartened by another friend's comment:

I'm not sure if I agree with you that people should make statements that have already been said in order to communicate we are as

# A Place and a Role for Allies

This is part 3 of ? of a recurring series on approaching debates with a mind toward actually changing minds and the world.

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I've got some things to say in upcoming posts about how to fight the good fight re: identity politics, but first, I think it'd be useful for all of us to get a huge disclaimer out of the way. (This post had a bit of scope creep, too, and I ended up saying lots of standalone-important things.)

I'll get to it obliquely, by way of background first:

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Connor Harris: It is easy for progressive students at politically homogeneous colleges to forget that there exist self-consistent arguments against same-sex marriage, transgender rights, and any other progressive policy you should care to name.

Thomism, for example, is nothing if not self-consistent. One can reject the premises of these arguments (I do), or think that they're logically weak (I think they mostly are), but they do exist and some people find them compelling.

Nevertheless, left-wing

# Anti-vaxxers

This is part 2 of ? of a recurring series on approaching debates with a mind toward actually changing minds and the world.

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If you personally believe that it is the correct moral choice to elect[1] not to have the people you are responsible for vaccinated, this post will not make you very happy. I'm being a lot more charitable to you than most are, but I still end up being condescending and rude. I'm sorry -- I'd like to have a civil conversation sometime to try and change your mind without resorting to condescension -- but this article wasn't written for you; it was written about you, for people who already agree with me.

If you personally believe that electing to have the people you are responsible for (including yourself) vaccinated is the right thing to do, welcome! We agree on this point! If you think I'm writing an apologia excusing the anti-vax movement, I promise you that that's not my intention.

Ross Douthat (no relation) has a great

# Re-Thinking Prejudices

I've decided that this post is retroactively part 1 of ? of a recurring series on approaching debates with a mind toward actually changing minds and the world.

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There's a statue visible from the window of my office, a poem inscribed near its base:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”