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.


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.


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


November 14 Bucket o' Links: "Science, B****es!" Edition

If you find yourself enjoying these weekly linkwraps, seek help from your doctor you might be interested in the so-called "Reading Feed" I've been updating for two weeks now. Basically, instead of spamming Facebook with everything I read, like, and see fit to re-link, I keep one running list of the things I think it's worth the time to have read.

I don't quite manage to update every day, but it's been running for 12.35 milliSpirits[?] so far, so maybe I'll be able to keep it up into the future. Maybe not. Anyway, it's more of a reject pile for Bucket o' Links than anything else, but if you want more of stuff like this, check it out?

NB: I'll roll the URL to always point to the current month, with previous months separated off into their own pages, e.g.


A Comet Landing, and a Misplaced Media Firestorm

We landed on a comet!

'Philae? Is Everything OK?' / 'I landed! I'm on a comet! I'm OK and I'm on a comet.'

XKCD live-comic'd the event, and if you missed that, you can view the unofficial replay compiled at Current status, xkcd's depiction notwithstanding: ESA: "Our Lander's Asleep" (ESA blog).

We, the interested public, now turn to one of the most crucial questions surrounding the historic landing: What was astrophysicist Matt Taylor wearing when Philae landed?

No, wait. That's nowhere on the list of crucial questions. Those are things like:

Maybe it's too early to say how the data are comparing to those from the Rosetta orbiter, but could you give us an overview with how the [Philae] lander data are going to compare with those we've been able to collect from the orbiter?

(If you didn't watch the video, Taylor's


Who's Swinging the Sword?

On the recommendation of a friend, I recently purchased the game Child of Light.

This is the sort of game that I like to point out when people say that video games aren't art. The visuals are beautiful, the soundtrack is gorgeous, the entire thing is told as a tongue-in-cheek nursery rhyme (that's not above poking fun at itself at times), and the story is as compelling as any good fairytale. If indie-style sword-and-sorcery turn-based combat is your thing, you definitely won't regret dropping $15 on this game.

But that's not what I really wanted to talk about today. There's something really great about this game that I didn't really notice until a few hours in: (okay, there's a lot of neat things that reveal themselves only later, but...) The sword-swinging, spell-slinging protagonist is a girl.

Okay, let's back up and talk about female heroes in the fantasy and sci-fi.


Headlines, News, Events

Monday, Harvard saw an unfounded bomb threat from a student who tried to postpone an exam in American Government. Four buildings in Harvard Yard were evacuated and that day's morning exams were, indeed, postponed. Students were given options to take them later that afternoon, in February, or not at all, either electing to be graded on the remainder of the course's assigned work, or on a Pass/Fail scale. But Eldo Kim '16 confessed to sending the emails, and will appear in US District Court tomorrow.


content warning: domestic terrorism, this section only.

A headline like "Harvard Student, 20, Arrested in Connection with Campus Bomb Scare" (from a local paper) feels strangely alien. Of course, I've seen several "XYZ College senior charged with ABC" headlines, and it always felt distant, not like it was real life. In the Harvard Crimson, I'm used to seeing headlines like "Early Action Acceptance


Bad Graphs

In the wake of the announcement of Harvard's first wave of '18 admits, the Harvard Crimson is reports on the high-school demographics of Harvard's student body. The investigative article sheds some sunlight on just how much inequity exists between privileged "Harvard feeder schools" and the rest of the downtrodden teenaged proletariat.

Graph featured on The Crimson

That is, surprisingly little.

Oh, sure; the graph is concave. That means that...some schools sent more kids than other schools. Huh. How many more? Well, just reading the graph, something like 45% of Harvard students were the only admit from their school, and something like 78% are one of three or fewer kids from their high school. By contrast, the top schools send...15. A whopping five times more. Um. Right.

For contrast, this is what real inequity looks like:

Things on the right are people with obscene amounts of money. For reference, poverty-line America is ~95%tile.

Bad Advice, Quantum Mechanics, Normalcy

(The title of this blog post brought to you by "potential romantic comedy plots in five words or less")


A few months ago, Harvard's George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Mathematics recommended a movie to his freshman Real Analysis class -- on some tangent in class, he noted that "it's a fantastic movie; you should all watch it."

The movie, of course, was Spring Breakers. So, the other day, a few friends and I borrowed the Jefferson 250 lecture hall (where we had once-upon-a-time taken RA with GVL Prof. Gross) and threw the movie up on the giant projector screen.

We turned it off after thirty minutes of nauseating dialogue, uncomfortable soft-core pornography, and implausible montages of "college kids" drinking "beer". It was bad. Really bad. I'm really not sure how Prof. Gross managed to sit through the movie himself.

But really, the problem here is that I still don't


Tired, Dreams, Sunrise, BSG


After today's core, I feel tired. Not sluggish or droopy (yet), just a vague sense that I might rather be asleep than awake. It probably doesn't help that my naps yesterday were mixed up and haphazard, or that I went to bed with too much on my mind (which likely increased the amount of time it took to fall asleep. Of course, it's entirely possible that the higher-order bit is that I'm tired because I'm still not getting enough SWS.

Though, it's suspicious that I often feel very much better after my 8am nap. Perhaps it's simply circadian.


I've noticed a recent change in the subject matter and timbre of my dreams. Warning: extreme pointless navel-gazing ahead.

Typically, I'm used to abstract, 'feeling-focused' dreams, where real people that I know appear as characters only when my brain needs to put a human face on something -- people I

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