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

A Place and a Role for Allies

This is part 3 of ? of a recurring series on approaching debates with a mind toward actually changing minds and the world.

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I've got some things to say in upcoming posts about how to fight the good fight re: identity politics, but first, I think it'd be useful for all of us to get a huge disclaimer out of the way. (This post had a bit of scope creep, too, and I ended up saying lots of standalone-important things.)

I'll get to it obliquely, by way of background first:

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Connor Harris posts on Facebook:

Connor Harris: It is easy for progressive students at politically homogeneous colleges to forget that there exist self-consistent arguments against same-sex marriage, transgender rights, and any other progressive policy you should care to name.

Thomism, for example, is nothing if not self-consistent. One can reject the premises of these arguments (I do), or think that

Culpable Priors

A recurring series of posts in which Ross hears something in Ballroom class, and decides to blog about how it's actually general life advice. This is the first.

Today, in Harvard Ballroom's Wintersession series, the advanced class was doing Waltz. The only thing you need to know about Waltz to read this post is that steps come in repeating sets of three:

1. drive (forward)
2. swing/rise/shape
3. float/lower/prepare

Our instructor had this to say about what to fix when things go wrong:

...And here's the thing: Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some people have strong drive, but problems with float. Others have problems with swing. But remember this: If a step feels bad, the problem is with the previous step.

If you have problems with float, it's probably because your swing left you off balance. If you can't drive, it's probably because you didn't lower out of your

Changing the Stakes Sideways

I was having an interesting discussion over dinner the other day with my aunt and cousins, which began as a relatively minor complaint about the propensity of Agents of SHIELD screenwriters (yes, I only just discovered this show) to use real science words in absurd ways, rather than making things up. At some point, the conversation had morphed into something about the general habit of filmmakers to publish misleading science as if it were plausible. (I found myself attempting -- but failing -- to communicate a point better made by Eliezer Yudkowsky in his post Science as Attire.) Some of us were of the opinion that this was a pretty bad thing that should probably stop; others didn't see much harm in it, so long as it was in works that were clearly fiction (false-science documentaries another matter entirely.)

My aunt, in the latter group,

"It's fiction, and it's art.

Re-Thinking Prejudices

I've decided that this post is retroactively part 1 of ? of a recurring series on approaching debates with a mind toward actually changing minds and the world.

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There's a statue visible from the window of my office, a poem inscribed near its base:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden

Necessary, True...

Just a short post today, dumping something that I found interesting out of my brain and into plaintext.

Today, I had someone pull me aside and ask me if I was alright; several people had noticed that I was really worked up about something the other day, to the point of getting angry at one of my coworkers.

It took me a few seconds to figure out what he was talking about, and when I did, I laughed a little. "Oh, Lucian and I go way back; we've been roommates for two years now. We're in the habit of giving each other a hard time; there's nothing wrong."

Afterward, I realized what I should have said -- something like: "Oh. I understand what it might have looked like, but actually everything's okay. We've been roommates for two years now, and I was just giving him a hard time."

The crucial