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: November 24)

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 | Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power — "[F]or now I’ll just note it is very much in the running for very best book of the year. It brings Native American history to life in a conceptual manner better than any other book I know."


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Blog: Marginal Revolution | Favorite popular music listening for 2019


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Blog: Marginal Revolution | Do social media drive the rise in right-wing populism? — "Overall, we do not find evidence that online/social media explain support for right-wing populist candidates and parties. Instead, in the USA, use of online media

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Mass Ave, Mt Auburn, and a Tale of Two Schools

Still, this report shows that Harvard could learn a lot from MIT about how to run a university.

Harry Lewis, "The Report Harvard Should Have Asked For", 2013


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Around the time I came to Harvard, both Mass Ave schools were dealing with the fallout of embarrassing, messy institutional mistakes. Both started with relatively small incidents, compounded by administrative decisions that were incredibly contentious during and after the fact.

Harvard's began with the Gov 1310 cheating scandal -- and it escalated when scandal erupted over the administration's search of faculty emails to find which sub-dean had spoken to the press, raising both privacy concerns and unease about the relationship between the faculty and the administration.

MIT's began with the arrest of Aaron Swartz for downloading academic articles from JSTOR -- and escalated over the Institute's complicity with the US Attorney's Office, which many members of the community felt betrayed the school's values.

That fall and spring, I was a freshman overburdened with courses that I could just barely

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Thoughts on "Be Reasonable" as a collaboration policy

I drafted this one back in May when the controversy described was live, but never quite got around to pushing it out the door. There haven't been any real developments in the news since then, and I still believe in the points I made, so I'm publishing it now before it gets any more stale.

A course I used to teach -- cs50 -- has seen some on-campus news (and editorial) coverage recently in the wake of a leak that 60 students in the course were reported to the Administrative Board on suspicions of academic dishonesty. I don't have much to say, not having any relationship with the course since 2016 and not having any particularly relevant inside information as a former Teaching Fellow. (As a relatively junior member of the course staff, I wasn't asked to work on any cases of academic dishonesty, and the revelations that I could give have already been shared with the press.) But there's one thing that's come up in the ensuing

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Is Patriotism A Virtue?

Alasdair MacIntyre, The 1984 Lindley Lecture at the University of Kansas. excerpted to 1787 words.

One of the central tasks of the moral philosopher is to articulate the convictions of the society in which he or she lives so that these convictions may become available for rational scrutiny. This task is all the more urgent when a variety of conflicting and incompatible beliefs are held within one and the same community, either by rival groups who differ on key moral questions or by one and the same set of individuals who find within themselves competing moral allegiances. In either of these types of case the first task of the moral philosopher is to render explicit what is at issue in the various disagreements and it is a task of this kind that I have set myself in this lecture.

For it is quite clear that there are large disagreements about patriotism in our society. And although it would be a mistake to suppose that there are only two clear, simple

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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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