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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On “’till the stock of the Puritans die”

attention-conservation notice: Taking poetry seriously. Wholehearted, uncynical, unapologetic Harvardiana.

Today's the first time that many of Harvard's graduands will hear the little-known final verse of "Fair Harvard". So it seems as good a time as any to muse on the administration's decision to change that verse's final lyric.

It would be pretty natural to be outraged at the prospect, but after trying to start that blog post and failing for a while, I realized that I'm actually in favor of the change.


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"Fair Harvard", as far as almae matres go, is actually quite good. Here are a few others for comparison:

Notre Dame, our Mother  
tender, strong, and true,  
proudly in the heavens,  
gleams thy gold and blue.  
Glory’s mantle cloaks thee;  
golden is thy fame  
and our hearts forever  
praise thee Notre Dame.
MSU, we love thy shadows  
When twilight silence falls,  
glushing deep and softly
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Happy Housing Day!

(In which the author, through timely blogging, attempts to rekindle a fading feeling of connection to his alma mater.)


On a Thursday morning four years ago, upperclassmen pounded on the door of my friends' suite where I had slept over (again), and when we let them in, they popped a (well-shaken) bottle of champagne to welcome us to Eliot House. Over the next three years, I'd spend some of the best afternoons (and the most miserable all-nighters) in Eliot, and though I'd be stretching the truth to say that I became close with everyone in the house, I had a place that was home to come bck to, year after year. Of course, I had the best friends I could possibly have asked for, but for that I owe more thanks to the Freshman Dean's Office for throwing us all into Canaday than the housing lottery for giving us

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Thou then wert our parent, the nurse of our soul... (A thank-you post)


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To my parents, in whose footsteps I couldn't be prouder to follow.

To my grandmother and late grandfather, who have been working for this moment for the past fifty years.

To my grandmother, who sewed my dance costumes.

To Lucian, the first friend I met here, without whom I would not have found the path I did. I'm so glad we're doing this next thing together.

To Christina, without whom I would not have survived with sense of humor intact. Thank you, friend.

To Ava, who was always there to lend an ear and set my heart true. You're still a klutz and a derp.

To Julia, who could be counted on to be in the audience whenever her blockmates were sweating under the lights. I can't say in words how much I appreciated it.

To Miriam, the stalwart rock of our blocking group.

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At What Price ‘Progress’?

Some people are ecstatic at the news. Some people are furious. It'll hit the national news cycle in about twelve hours.

Basically, it's another Friday at Harvard.

Every lunchtime conversation is about the same topic, in hushed tones. Friends measure their words, not quite sure whether what they're about to say will cause offense to their closest friends. One can't sit in the dining hall without overhearing tense, but hushed, conversations about it. "How about that President Faust?" is acceptable as a casual greeting between friends.

It's not just another Friday at all.


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Today President Faust announced by email that she's accepting Dean Khurana's recommendations that:

  1. For students matriculating in the fall of 2017 and thereafter: any such students who become members of unrecognized single-gender social organization will not be eligible to hold leadership positions in recognized student organizations or athletic teams. Currently enrolled students and those who are

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In the Crimson Again

We've had, what, two posts in the past six weeks? Sorry, guys, I had a senior thesis (pdf) to write. And we're only kind-of back, since I'm luxuriating a bit in the calm after the storm.


But an article I read in the Crimson on Monday got me mad enough to jolt me out of my stupor (this is usually how I get un-slumped from blog hiatus), and I've got an op-ed in today's paper:

Harvard’s a funny place. In the span of a single day, I can attend a lecture about securing the University’s computer systems from foreign hackers by Jim Waldo, Harvard’s former Chief Technical Officer and, just a few hours later, read an article in The Crimson​ about the Undergraduate Council’s uninformed request that Harvard postpone its plans to upgrade the same outdated password system that makes it difficult to defend the school’

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They're Not All Saints


Abbott Lawrence Lowell, as President of Harvard, attempted to impose quotas on Jewish students and ban black students outright.

Chester Greenough, with Lowell's ample support, presided over the Secret Court of 1920, which expelled eight students on allegations of homosexuality.

Benjamin Wadsworth was one of the first anti-abortion writers in America.

The Cabot family owned slaves.


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These are not pieces of our University's history that we should be proud of, but they are pieces of our history whether we acknowledge them or not. And it is disingenuous to object

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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

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