My Faults My Own

…willing to sacrifice something we don't have

for something we won't have, so somebody will someday.

IN  WHICH Ross Rheingans-Yoo—a sometime artist, economist, poet, trader, expat, EA, and programmer—writes on things of int­erest.

Reading Feed (last update: March 17)

A collection of things that I was glad 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 | The rise of the temporary scientist — relevant to my interests, naturally.


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Blog: Marginal Revolution | Has the Tervuren Central African museum been decolonized? — "In a word, no. They shut the place down for five years and spent $84 million, to redesign the displays, and what they reopened still looks and feels incredibly colonial. That’s not an architectural complaint, only that the museum cannot escape what it has been for well over a century..."

Neat: Submarine Cable Map


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Blog: Don't Worry About the Vase | Privacy

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Should climate change limit the number of kids

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On “’till the stock of the Puritans die”

attention-conservation notice: Taking poetry seriously. Wholehearted, uncynical, unapologetic Harvardiana.

Today's the first time that many of Harvard's graduands will hear the little-known final verse of "Fair Harvard". So it seems as good a time as any to muse on the administration's decision to change that verse's final lyric.

It would be pretty natural to be outraged at the prospect, but after trying to start that blog post and failing for a while, I realized that I'm actually in favor of the change.


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"Fair Harvard", as far as almae matres go, is actually quite good. Here are a few others for comparison:

Notre Dame, our Mother
tender, strong, and true,
proudly in the heavens,
gleams thy gold and blue.
Glory’s mantle cloaks thee;
golden is thy fame
and our hearts forever
praise thee Notre Dame.
MSU, we love thy shadows
When twilight silence falls,
glushing deep and softly paling
o’er ivy covered halls;
beneath the pines we'll gather
to give our faith so
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Three Gifts from Penny Rheingans

My mother's given me an awful lot over these 23-odd years, but here are three gifts from her I'm particularly thankful for:

1) An instinct to not assign to malice that which is explained by ignorance -- to seek first to teach, rather than fight. It's easy to assume that the person causing you harm thinks the same way you do, and so is doing it on purpose -- but surprisingly often, that's not the case. And when the culprit really is malice or active apathy, I learned from Mom just how strong relentless politeness can be at clearing problems.

2) A thorough appreciation for the power of good visual design. Mom's a computer scientist with research interests in visualizing data, and to this day, I'll call her when a problem at work seems to call for some special technique. Some of the best tricks I know (and regularly use!), she taught me.

3) Open eyes to problems of gender bias in the field of computer science. It's easy to

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Happy Housing Day!

(In which the author, through timely blogging, attempts to rekindle a fading feeling of connection to his alma mater.)


On a Thursday morning four years ago, upperclassmen pounded on the door of my friends' suite where I had slept over (again), and when we let them in, they popped a (well-shaken) bottle of champagne to welcome us to Eliot House. Over the next three years, I'd spend some of the best afternoons (and the most miserable all-nighters) in Eliot, and though I'd be stretching the truth to say that I became close with everyone in the house, I had a place that was home to come bck to, year after year. Of course, I had the best friends I could possibly have asked for, but for that I owe more thanks to the Freshman Dean's Office for throwing us all into Canaday than the housing lottery for giving us the best of all houses.


(My dad puts his arm around my shoulders and gestures at the courtyard, where the

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What is there to say?

My grandfather was a career scientist at Oak Ridge National Labs for 36 years. He was an international traveler and an international collaborator, advancing human knowledge of materials science as best he knew how -- by sharing what he knew with fellow seekers of truth, regardless of nationality. As a young man, he left a country rent by war to seek an education -- and a home -- and a future in the United States. Here he raised three sons, international travelers and collaborators themselves -- a businessman, a public servant, and a professor of Law.

I can't count the friends I have with friends and colleagues, seeking an education -- seeking a future -- seeking to advance the knowledge of all mankind -- who have had my nation slam our door in their faces this weekend. I feel sick for what my nation has done in my name, though Scott Aaronson expresses it far better than I can:

To the Trump regime, I make one request: if you

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Remembering Aaron Swartz

including a review of The Idealist, by Justin Peters

You haven't seen a roomful of students' eyebrows shoot up simultaneously until you begin your CS50 section with a content warning for suicide.

content warning: suicide.


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It was the week we were covering web development and walking through a project that had students scraping an RSS feed to extract news stories geotagged as local. It was also Aaron Swartz's birthday.

And so it seemed wrong not to include, in that lesson, some words for the young visionary who was no older than some of my students when he invented the protocol we'd be using that week. It seemed wrong not to take the occasion to remind my students that the things they were learning could be used to literally change the world. And it seemed wrong not to tell the story about how federal prosecutors enforcing unjust laws hounded that young man until he took his own life.

And so I took

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Onward

attention-conservation notice: this is a personal-life-update post, not a deep-philosophical-commentary post.

I've finally left the environs of Cambridge to do...whatever comes next...in New York City. I really enjoyed my time at Harvard and was truly sad to see the community of friends that I'd come to love go their assorted and separate ways, but on a personal level, it was time. So I'm glad to be moving on to the next thing.

One piece of "the next thing" is that I'm beginning work as an trader at a small proprietary trading firm in downtown Manhattan. It's an amazing company that I'm incredibly excited to be returning to full-time -- one of the most intellectually stimulating environments I've found anywhere, with a double helping of diverse and varied day-to-day projects and a culture of social trust, intellectual humility, and collaborative truth-seeking.

In many (great) ways, I feel like I'm starting college again -- my days are long and full, all of my work is interesting and

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I'm Registered to (trade my) Vote

I'm glad to share that I've registered to vote in New York. I'm glad not just because I'm a West-Wing-watching sap who believes that voting is a civic responsibility as well as a personal privilege, but also because we live in terrifying times and face an election of terrifying stakes.

"But Ross," you might object, "isn't New York, like, 99% likely to go for Clinton anyway?"

To this I reply:

  1. It's still a closer race here than in Maryland, which FiveThirtyEight claims is 99.8% likely to go Clinton.
  2. I'm a West-Wing-watching sap who believes that voting is a civic responsibility as well as a personal privilege.
  3. I'm going to be trading my vote with a third-party voter in a swing state.

"I'm sorry, what?"


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Scott Aaronson laid out the case for vote-swapping exceedingly well in a recent blog post, so I won't re-hash the matter here. Suffice it to say (for those who can't be bothered to click through that link)

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