My Faults My Own

…willing to sacrifice something we don't have

for something we won't have, so somebody will someday.

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

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On the AAU Survey and the Crimson

I've got an op-ed in the Harvard Crimson today, expressing my concern that an important narrative is missing from the discussions of the AAU sexual assault climate survey. Excerpt:

When male survivors are invisible, they face stigma against seeking help. Though male and female survivors of sexual assault seek out institutional resources at roughly the same (low) rates, male survivors are 60 percent more likely than female survivors to speak to no one—not even a friend—after an assault. (31.2% versus 19.3% for assault by force; 38.1% versus 23.3% for assault by incapacitation.) And so male students make up more than a quarter of silent survivors, in large part because we so rarely acknowledge that they exist at all. (...)

Those numbers, by the way, come from tables 3.1a,c and 3.5a,b in the full report. Below, I've got few thoughts that didn't make it into the published version.

disclosure: I am, at least on paper, still a Crimson editor on the Design

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Lower Tuitions at Stanford


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Stanford's in the news today for: Stanford just made tuition free for families earning less than $125,000 per year. The news is usually accompanied by pictures of smiling students and balloons:

A smiling student and some balloons.

...and it usually takes the article in question a few paragraphs to get around to noting that:

The announcement is an expansion of Stanford's old financial aid policy, which previously applied to students from families making less than $100,000 per year. (...)

...which raises the question: Just how many students at Stanford come from families with incomes greater than $100k and less than $125k? ...and just how desperately did those families need to have their tuition costs reduced from \(\leq\)$13.5k[1] to $5k[2]? (EDIT | A bird in my ear mentions that $100k/yr puts you in the 80%tile of American families, which seems at least approximately-correct.)


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About a year ago, Ken Griffin donated $125 million in support of Harvard's financial aid program, funding 539 full scholarships to Harvard. Kim Soffen, writing in

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January 9 Links: Futures and Pasts of Things

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The Upshot, when they're not putting out awesome data features, apparently publishes things like Obama's Community-College Plan: A Reading List, which is a useful read on (1) what is actually being proposed (2) how it compares to other similar proposals and programs (3) why any of this matters.

The odds of a Republican Congress passing an Obama proposal on any issue aren't very high... [But i]f nothing else, the Obama proposal seems likely to increase the profile of the universal-college movement. That movement echoes the universal-high-school movement of the early 20th century, as I mentioned in an article Thursday. (...)

And a short bit of opinion on the necessity of "universal college":

Yet we never stop to ask why 13 years of universal education has become the magic number -- and why it should permanently be so, given how much more complex our society and economy have become in the ensuing century. If nine years of free education was the sensible norm for the masses in the 19th century

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October 31 Bucket o' Links: "Links, Explosions, and People Talking" Edition

Welp, Friday post goes out on Sunday NO shut up it's still saturday is that how this daylight savings thing works HRMPH. (It's not.)

Anyway, I'm in the middle of writing some stuff about a topic that's almost certainly going to end up being controversial, and I've decided to publish some of it, and I'll get around to doing the part where I actually say things later. Anyway, that's a work in progress; here's a finished linkwrap!

First, meta of metas, if you like my takes on (some subset of) the week, maybe also check out other people's linkwraps that have come out in the last day or so:

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Sex: Statistics and Student Opinions

This week, MIT released Survey Results: 2014 Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault, making them one of the first schools to release such broad survey data on sex crimes. These are the results of a survey emailed to MIT undergraduate and graduate students last April, which had a response rate of 35% from 10,831--3,844 total responses.

I wish to be clear: Without good reason to believe otherwise, I'm taking these statistics as probably representative of MIT's peer institutions as well, and in no case do I mean to critique MIT specifically by citing them. If anything, the school deserves praise for its dedication to transparency by publishing such detailed statistics.

Now, MIT is clear that the document they've published should be taken as initial, not final, results:

"This document is a summary of the most pertinent results corresponding to questions asked in the survey; it is intended to be an initial summary of survey results. Throughout the upcoming academic year we will work with the community to use the

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Dear Brother: These are the Friends I Met

This is part 4 of a 4-part series addressed to the author's brother, discussing the author's perspective on "elite education".

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First, to wrap up our interlude of other people's insights, a zinger from one of my favorite professors ever, Dr. Margo Seltzer:

If I had as much disdain for my students as Deresiewicz appears to have for his, I'd get a new job. Seriously -- I view my students so differently from the way he does that it's hard to imagine we teach at similar institutions, and yet we do.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled...


Dear brother,

I haven't said much about my actual experience here, have I? Most of it's been the sort of broad descriptions you could have gleaned by just looking in from the outside; what's it like to actually live there, you ask? I'm glad you did.

Let's start with the people. Here are a few snapshots of my friends, in no particular order:

  • One helped me run a FIRST Lego League team at
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Interlude: More Links on the Ivies

This is part 3 of a 4-part series addressed to the author's brother, discussing the author's perspective on "elite education".

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Sorry, friends; my jet lag (from returning from Hong Kong on Saturday), seems to have finally caught up with me. Part 3 proper is probably going to have to wait a day, since I went to sleep last night instead of writing it. To tide you over, here are a few excerpts from around the internet:

I'm a Laborer's Son. I Went to Yale. I Am Not "Trapped in a Bubble of Privilege." by Andrew Giambrone, Yale grad now writing for The Atlantic, on the New Republic:

First, his argument effaces important economic, social, and personal differences among students, conveniently neglecting the fact that elite colleges allow athletes and engineers to sit around the same seminar tables as sons of farmers and daughters of CEOs. Second, his turgid derision of elite schools risks dissuading lower- and middle-class kids like myself from applying to those very same institutions.

The Ivy League

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