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: March 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: Jeffrey.Zeldman | We need design that is faster and design that is slower. — "Our whole industry, as I’ve just defined it, needs design that is faster for people who are trying to get things done, for they are our customers and should not be burdened by our institutional surrenders. We need design that is slower for people who are trying to comprehend, for they are our only chance of saving the world."

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Blog: MIT Admissions | Policies, Principles, and Protests — "[S]ome students who have been admitted to MIT’s Class of 2022 have asked us if

warning: speaking from significant socioeconomic privilege.

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Scott Alexander, writing at Slate Star Codex, has some words:

So presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proposed universal free college tuition.

On the one hand, I sympathize with his goals. If you can’t get any job better than 'fast food worker' without a college degree, and poor people can’t afford college degrees, that’s a pretty grim situation, and obviously unfair to the poor.

...

But, well, when we require doctors to get a college degree before they can go to medical school, we’re throwing out [$5 billion], enough to house all the homeless people in the country... Senator Sanders admits that his plan would cost$70 billion per year. That's... enough to give \$2000 every year to every American in poverty.

At what point do we say "Actually, no, let's not do that, and just let people hold basic jobs

Three Modest Proposals, Instead of Divesting...

The modest proposal comes after a bit of serious economics, because, well, you have to eat your vegetables before you get any dessert.

Also: Global warming is real and anthropocentric; we're going to need to stop it; we're going to need to stop using fossil fuels. If you don't believe these things, then I'm not going to try to convince you here. If you do believe these things, and also think that I'm wrong here, I'd be really, really, glad to hear it.

All of that said, the majority of this post is either intended as satire or double-satire; the only thing that I'll admit to honestly believing is that no one, not even Divest, is above a little tongue-in-cheek mockery.

Also, despite my use of the narrative first person, I am in no way involved with the Divest movement, at Harvard or elsewhere, except that sometimes I give them

I Want to Major in Everything!

Today, former Dean of Harvard College Harry Lewis has a piece on Bits and Pieces proposing a characteristically Lewisian crazy idea modest proposal to reform higher ed:

"[W]hat if there were ONLY [minors]? Get rid of [majors]. Have departments, and interdepartmental committees, offer '[minors],' and require students to earn at least two, but allow students to earn several. (Of course '[minor]' is no longer the right term if there are no [majors]. I'll use it just to convey the idea of a small cluster of courses with some disciplinary coherence and a bit of depth.)"

(some translation from "concentration"/"secondary" Harvardese for my non-Harvard readers) And, heading off the inevitable question before it asks itself:

"So how do we incentivize a deeper education, and the engagement of students in advanced scholarship and research, while not requiring every graduate to have a concentration?

"Well, first of