My Faults My Own

…beleaguered by the same

negation and despair,

show an affirming flame.

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: October 15)

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 | Is the World Bank lending too much to China? — "As I understand it, the World Bank makes money on these loans and there is a cross-subsidy of other Bank activities, most of all aid. A World Bank that stopped such loans would be poorer and less skilled, and over time could devolve into one of the poorer, less effective poverty-fighting parts of the United Nations, without much of a political power base at that."


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Blog: Marginal Revolution | Blade Runner 2049 (some Straussian spoilers) — "It hardly makes any concessions to the Hollywood vices of this millennium and indeed much of the Tysons Corner

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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The Crimson​ about the Undergraduate Council’s uninformed request that Harvard postpone its plans to upgrade the same outdated password system that makes it difficult to defend the school’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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Greenlaw and Morris for the UC

Bar "Issues of Varsity Athletics" on the varsity athletes' platform, the only difference between the three tickets' platforms this year is that the Rather/Banks ticket collapses sexual assault and mental health into the single issue "Open Dialogue", while adding the plank "Open the Yard", read "Freshman Life".

I'd be inclined to write this off as a matter of branding and rhetoric rather than ideology, except that at the Crimson-hosted UC Crossfire debate, Danny Banks tried to make hay out of it -- claiming proudly that "We are the only platform with a third of our platform dedicated to freshmen."

I don't think you can believe that those words mean anything if you don't also believe that they mean other planks holding less importance. The time, energy, and political capital of the UC presidency is limited, and if you believe that freshman social life deserves attention at the expense of

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Notes from the UC Crossfire Debate

This is not a faithful transcript of the questions or answers, since I can't actually type that fast. Instead, it's mostly loose paraphrase throughout. Again, I did not grab all of the rhetoric or issues that candidates nodded to, and most of this is not direct quotation. Nevertheless, it'll give you a bit more of a sense of what candidates' talked about than will the Crimson article you can expect tomorrow.


Opening Statements

Nick / Jeff

We were both disenchanted with Harvard as a whole...but then we realized how lucky we are, and how many things are wrong at Harvard. We can do better as a community, and we can do better as a whole.

Our platform stands on:

  • Mental Health
  • Sexual Assault
  • Social Spaces
  • Issues surrounding Varsity Athletics

Shaiba / Danny

Opening Harvard includes making truly inclusive social spaces, putting students in high-level administrative decisions, and re-imagining the first-year experience.

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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

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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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