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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Notes: The Gender Gap in Math

"The Gender Gap in Math" presented by the Harvard Undergraduate Mathematics Association

Panel: Gigliola Staffilani (Professor, MIT Math), Rediet Adebe '13 (PhD, Harvard SEAS), Hilary Finucane '09 (PhD, MIT), Alison Miller '08 (Postdoc, Harvard Math)
Moderator: Sarah Richardson (Professor, Harvard Social Studies)

Notes legibility estimate: HIGH

Notes completeness estimate: Incomplete; important, scattered quotes only.

Please assume that everything is at best a loose paraphrasing of what the panelists actually said; in the place where it got really bad, I've noted [paraphrased], but the others aren't always close quotations, either. Many good answers were left off because I'm seriously not that fast at taking notes.


HUMS: Some Numbers

The Harvard Undergraduate Math Survey (May 2014) was organized by Meena Boppana, Kate Donahue, Domniki Georgopoulou, and Caitlin Stanton, with contributions by Rahul Dalal, Ellen Robo, and Isabel Vogt, and advised by Prof. Benedict Gross. It had 130 responses, 55 from math concentrators

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Lynn Conway

Happy (belated) seventy-seventh birthday to Dr. Lynn Conway, now emerita at UMich, who was dealt a really shitty hand in life and overcame it to revolutionize the field of electrical engineering, literally write the book on VLSI design (along with Dr. Carver Mead, of CIT), and, in the past fifteen years, become a outspoken trans-rights activist. She also rides motocross.

Photograph of Dr. Lynn Conway

When I'm calling out heroes in STEM, I usually say something about the sort of challenges they had to overcome to achieve what they did, but Dr. Conway's story takes the cake. She was born physically male, which, as it turns out, is a really, really shitty thing to happen to you if you're a girl born in 1938. She's written a memoir on her life, which traverses the painfully personal, the fascinatingly technical, and everything in between, in the arc from her early struggles with gender identity; to her career at IBM (cut short when they fired her for transitioning male-to-female); to her subsequent second career-from-scratch at, well, everywhere; to her coming-out and subsequent trans activism. I don't have the words to recommend it highly enough. It's honest, raw, and inspiring -- oh, just read it.

Conway's accomplishments include:


Ozy, of their blog Thing of Things, gets credit for bringing Conway to my attention, re: #RealLiveTransAdults, in their post of thoughts on Leelah Alcorn.

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Philae faux pas [Mini-Index]

This is the mini-index to a series of posts from November 2014, regarding the landing of the probe Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, and a subsequent fashion faux pas.

  • November 14 Bucket o' Links: "Science, B****es!" Edition: A perfectly normal linkwrap gets sidetracked by a discussion about how the discussion about how Dr. Matt Taylor's fashion choices did or did not sidetrack a historic event.
  • A Comet Landing, and a Misplaced Media Firestorm: The Philae-related parts of the previous post, written up separately, and -- in a move that I hope becomes regular on this blog -- a call for so-inclined readers to submit guest posts in response.
  • Response 1: A Shirt, Counterpoint (Dr. Christine Piatko of JHU), excerpt:

    To me, I think it's good it didn't go unnoticed by the media. Things don't change unless people talk about them. I didn't watch this play out on

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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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