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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Godspeed Columbia

On July 20, 1969, two men born on Earth set foot on the moon. And, since they came safely home, then-President Nixon had no use for the speech In Event of Moon Disaster, prepared by William Safire. The full original text is here (pdf), but I found it appropriate for today, when we do have tragedy to mourn in memorial:

(abridged and slightly modified for the occasion)


Rick HusbandWilliam McCoolMichael AndersonKalpana ChawlaDavid BrownLaurel ClarkIlan Ramon.

These seven men and women lay down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send her sons and daughters

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Godspeed Challenger

And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.

We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration

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For the Brave Sky-Travelers

...and now for some musings about exploration that doesn't involve wanton destruction, murder, theft, &c.


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But as soon as somebody demonstrates the art of flying, settlers from our species of man will not be lacking. Who would once have thought that the crossing of the wide ocean was calmer and safer than of the narrow Adriatic Sea, Baltic Sea, or English Channel?

Let us create vessels and sails adjusted to the heavenly ether, and there will be plenty of people unafraid of the empty wastes. In the meantime, we shall prepare, for the brave sky-travellers, maps of the celestial bodies—I shall do it for the moon, [and] you Galileo, for Jupiter.

h/t Abel Mendez at UPR; from an open letter from Kepler to Galileo (yes, those) in the Conversation with the Star Messenger, in 1610. Four hundred years later, space is far harder than ever

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Godspeed

A countdown clock that continued to increase past 00:00; a security guard whose face turned ghostly-white in an instant; a lack of response from the Columbia crew to repeated calls from Capcom/Astronaut Charlie Hobaugh; and the words of "Get ready," uttered quietly from the lips of Steve Lindsey, told me that it was time - time to be strong in the face of true adversity.

It was the most difficult day of my life; even harder than when my father died, as that was what we were expecting. I do my best to describe the day's events in my book, but suffice it to say I felt a huge emptiness inside and it is a burden I still carry today. That day changed me inside; it made me much more emotional than I can ever remember being. It tested my faith and it still tests me.

But it

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January 16 Links: Technologies, Games, and Play

Yes, the Friday linkwrap is, in fact, going out on Friday. We're living in the future!

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The Harvard Political Review reports that a Chicago nonprofit is scraping Twitter to pass on complaints about food poisoning in restaurants to the Chicago Department of Public Health:

Foodborne Chicago depends on human judgment in addition to computerized predictions. First, the algorithm "surfaces tweets that are related to foodborne illnesses." Next, "a human classifier goes through those complaints that the machine classifies, [...determining] what is really about food poisoning and what may be other noise." The Foodborne team then tweets back at the likely cases, providing a link for users to file an official complaint. In short, computers deal with the massive quantity of Twitter data, and humans ensure the quality of the result. According to its website, between its launch on March 23, 2013 and November 10, 2014, the Foodborne algorithm flagged

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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 blog.rossry.net/reading/ to always point to the current month, with previous months separated off into their own pages, e.g. blog.rossry.net/

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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 xkcd1446.org. 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

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