My Faults My Own

One's ponens is another's tollens.

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

Reading Feed (last update: April 2)

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: Don't Worry About the Vase | On Automoderation -- Zvi concretizes much the the vague disease I was feeling around Automoderation, despite it being an eminently plausible approach to its design specification.


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Blog: JeffTK | Slack tool: predict -- Note that Jeff's implementation is of a market mechanism that's not budget-balanced, and rewards marginal improvements of the "last price", rather than marginal improvements of the "current best price". I suspect that these design decisions have the net effect of denoising the signal of predicter quality.

Blog: Schneier on Security | New Gmail Phishing Scam -- "The article is right; this is frighteningly good."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Baffling Politics

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I'm Registered to (trade my) Vote

I'm glad to share that I've registered to vote in New York. I'm glad not just because I'm a West-Wing-watching sap who believes that voting is a civic responsibility as well as a personal privilege, but also because we live in terrifying times and face an election of terrifying stakes.

"But Ross," you might object, "isn't New York, like, 99% likely to go for Clinton anyway?"

To this I reply:

  1. It's still a closer race here than in Maryland, which FiveThirtyEight claims is 99.8% likely to go Clinton.
  2. I'm a West-Wing-watching sap who believes that voting is a civic responsibility as well as a personal privilege.
  3. I'm going to be trading my vote with a third-party voter in a swing state.

"I'm sorry, what?"


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Scott Aaronson laid out the case for vote-swapping exceedingly well in a recent blog post, so I won't re-hash the matter here. Suffice

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Karim Pirbay is an Email Scammer


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If you haven't heard, the Harvard Class of 2016 elected Program Marshals for commencement (graduation) exercises this week. Basically, it's a popularity contest to determine who gets to sit on stage with Natalie Portman or John Oliver or whoever it is this year. At some point, I guess we'll hear the results.

Of course, in the post-Clark–Mayopoulos era, exactly zero of the campaigns were serious. I think the most serious policy proposal that made it through my spam filter was, verbatim, "P.S. Jon Stewart/John Oliver for Class Day??". But, of course, posters, facebook groups, and an infuriating flood of mass emails have made an appearance nonetheless. One in particular stands out, because I think it represents a lapse in judgment so egregious, the party in question should be lowered in public status.

Karim Pirbay sent two mass emails to the senior class. The first

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PredictIt Arbitrage

note: Significantly after I posted this, PredictIt changed their policies on margin requirements in "linked markets", a small step towards market efficiency. Nevertheless, they left in place their 5% tax on withdrawals and 10% tax on gross profits, so the central argument that inefficiencies can stop even the most commonsense arbitrages from correcting out-of-line markets, remains largely true.


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Political betting site PredictIt offers everyone the ability to (legally) bet (real money) on the outcome of political events. For example:

The market in "Who will win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination?", displaying thirteen leading candidates.

You can pay 39¢ for a Yes share in BUSH.RNOM16, which will be worth $1 if Jeb Bush wins the Republican nomination, and $0 if he does not. Similarly, you can pay 63¢ for a No share in BUSH.RNOM16, which will be worth $0 if he wins and $1 otherwise. (Another way to think about this is that you can sell a Yes share for 37&

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Ted Cruz is Having a Bad Second Day

or, "Ted Cruz's Campaign Logo is an Upside-Down, Burning American Flag"


First, a short lesson about why you should buy www.yourname.com before announcing your presidential campaign:

www.tedcruz.com, showing the notice "Support President Obama. / Immigration Reform Now!"

The site is, apparently, registered to Ted Cruz.

Just a different Ted Cruz.


Meanwhile, on Twitter...

and on Gawker...

Gawker: Ted Cruz' Campaign Logo Is an Upside-Down Burning American Flag

...and the Washington Post, who "could go on all day".


I guess, if you're a serious person, you might appreciate the Christian Science Monitor's serious article asking "Isn't this a bit early to be announcing a candidacy?" -- with a resounding (and data-supported answer of "no") -- and "Hasn't there been a lot of campaign coverage already this cycle?" -- with a similarly-supported answer of "yes".

"Relative Presidential Campaign Coverage", showing 2015 a record high

Here we go again.

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Democracy! (Part 2: The Democratizing)


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Vote! Today! Before 8pm!

Yesterday, I linked a polling-place guide from the IOP, which was two years out of date. The HPR has a good guide to candidates and their issues, but their polling-place list for Harvard students is also incorrect.[1] As far as I can tell, the list goes:

  • Harvard Yard (inc. Union; exc. Apley), Adams: Gund Hall (48 Quincy Street)
  • Dunster, Leverett: Putnam Apartments (2 Mt. Auburn Street)
  • Apley, Lowell, Mather, Quincy: Quincy House (58 Plympton Street)
  • Quad: Graham and Parks School (44 Linnaean Street)
  • Eliot: Friends Meeting House (5 Longfellow Park)

It's unclear to me where the Winthrop and Kirkland vote; whether they're also with Eliot, or if they vote in Quincy with the rest.

The Crimson also has a bit on early polling results, especially regarding the four ballot initiatives (indexing the state gasoline tax to consumer prices, expansion of $0.05 bottle-recycling rebates

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Democracy!


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Reminder: What may be your best chance this year to shape the future of your city/state/nation is tomorrow. So go out there and do the thing! If you're at Harvard and forgot where the heck you were supposed to go to do the thing, tomorrow's post has the rundown.


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Michael Landry '16 and Connor Harris '16 have declared their candidacy for the Harvard Undergraduate Council (vice-)presidency. You may know Michael because the Crimson wrote a piece about him last week, and you may know Connor because he keeps saying smart things about transportation policy, urban planning, and liberal arts education to everyone in earshot.

Cutting to the quick, I'm going to go right out and declare my support for these two right now. I will inevitably write more later, but for now, you should sign the petition to put them on the ballot if you

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