My Faults My Own

Any human’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in humankind.

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

Reading Feed (last update: July 5)

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: Don't Worry About the Vase | Spoiler-Free Review: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (plus a Spoilerific section)

Blog: Popehat | The Fourth of July [rerun]

Blog: Tyler Cowen @ Bloomberg View | The NBA’s Reopening Is a Warning Sign for the U.S. Economy — "If so many NBA players are pondering non-participation, how keen do you think those workers — none of whom are millionaire professional athletes — are about returning to the office?"

Comic: SMBC | Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Holism


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Blog: Market Design | Job market technology is diffusing slowly through the armed forces

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Tales from Trinidad barter

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Personal opinions on my Harvard courses

A prospective Harvard student wrote the other day asking for advice about CS+Math at Harvard, and (among other questions) asked if I'd share the courses I took to help them compare with their own plans. As always, I was happy to help. I figured it might also be useful to someone else to have an (admittedly idiosyncratic) sample of a Harvard CS+Math schedule on the Internet, so I'm posting it here, too.

note: There really isn't much more here than it says on the tin, so if you're not interested in that, you really can skip this post.


It should be obvious, but no one should take this as a prescription -- not everything was the right choice for me in hindsight, so it's definitely not exactly right for you. At best, it's a data point for people exactly like me, and at worst you should consider reversing the major takeaways.

I also feel compelled to pass along the best advice I received about picking a major, which

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On the AAU Survey and the Crimson

I've got an op-ed in the Harvard Crimson today, expressing my concern that an important narrative is missing from the discussions of the AAU sexual assault climate survey. Excerpt:

When male survivors are invisible, they face stigma against seeking help. Though male and female survivors of sexual assault seek out institutional resources at roughly the same (low) rates, male survivors are 60 percent more likely than female survivors to speak to no one—not even a friend—after an assault. (31.2% versus 19.3% for assault by force; 38.1% versus 23.3% for assault by incapacitation.) And so male students make up more than a quarter of silent survivors, in large part because we so rarely acknowledge that they exist at all. (...)

Those numbers, by the way, come from tables 3.1a,c and 3.5a,b in the full report. Below, I've got few thoughts that didn't make it into the published version.

disclosure: I am, at least on paper, still a Crimson editor on the

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Lower Tuitions at Stanford


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Stanford's in the news today for: Stanford just made tuition free for families earning less than $125,000 per year. The news is usually accompanied by pictures of smiling students and balloons:

![A smiling student and some balloons.](https://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/GP8i9YtvQXHjqMTTceFG2FUVghw=/0x67:3000x2067/1280x720/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/46026212/GettyImages-450672734.0.jpg" caption="For example.)

...and it usually takes the article in question a few paragraphs to get around to noting that:

The announcement is an expansion of Stanford's old financial aid policy, which previously applied to students from families making less than $100,000 per year. (...)

...which raises the question: Just how many students at Stanford come from families with incomes greater than $100k and less than $125k? ...and just how desperately did those families need to have their tuition costs reduced from \(\leq\)$13.5k[1] to $5k[2]? (EDIT | A bird in my ear mentions that $100k/yr puts you in the 80%tile of American families, which

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January 9 Links: Futures and Pasts of Things

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The Upshot, when they're not putting out awesome data features, apparently publishes things like Obama's Community-College Plan: A Reading List, which is a useful read on (1) what is actually being proposed (2) how it compares to other similar proposals and programs (3) why any of this matters.

The odds of a Republican Congress passing an Obama proposal on any issue aren't very high... [But i]f nothing else, the Obama proposal seems likely to increase the profile of the universal-college movement. That movement echoes the universal-high-school movement of the early 20th century, as I mentioned in an article Thursday. (...)

And a short bit of opinion on the necessity of "universal college":

Yet we never stop to ask why 13 years of universal education has become the magic number -- and why it should permanently be so, given how much more complex our society and economy have become in the ensuing century. If nine years of free education was the sensible norm for the masses in the

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October 31 Bucket o' Links: "Links, Explosions, and People Talking" Edition

Welp, Friday post goes out on Sunday NO shut up it's still saturday is that how this daylight savings thing works HRMPH. (It's not.)

Anyway, I'm in the middle of writing some stuff about a topic that's almost certainly going to end up being controversial, and I've decided to publish some of it, and I'll get around to doing the part where I actually say things later. Anyway, that's a work in progress; here's a finished linkwrap!

First, meta of metas, if you like my takes on (some subset of) the week, maybe also check out other people's linkwraps that have come out in the last day or so:

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Sex: Statistics and Student Opinions

This week, MIT released Survey Results: 2014 Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault, making them one of the first schools to release such broad survey data on sex crimes. These are the results of a survey emailed to MIT undergraduate and graduate students last April, which had a response rate of 35% from 10,831--3,844 total responses.

I wish to be clear: Without good reason to believe otherwise, I'm taking these statistics as probably representative of MIT's peer institutions as well, and in no case do I mean to critique MIT specifically by citing them. If anything, the school deserves praise for its dedication to transparency by publishing such detailed statistics.

Now, MIT is clear that the document they've published should be taken as initial, not final, results:

"This document is a summary of the most pertinent results corresponding to questions asked in the survey; it is intended to be an initial summary of survey results. Throughout the upcoming academic year we will work with the community to use

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Dear Brother: These are the friends I met

This is part 4 of a 4-part series addressed to the author's brother, discussing the author's perspective on "elite education".

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First, to wrap up our interlude of other people's insights, a zinger from one of my favorite professors ever, Dr. Margo Seltzer:

If I had as much disdain for my students as Deresiewicz appears to have for his, I'd get a new job. Seriously -- I view my students so differently from the way he does that it's hard to imagine we teach at similar institutions, and yet we do.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled...


Dear brother,

I haven't said much about my actual experience here, have I? Most of it's been the sort of broad descriptions you could have gleaned by just looking in from the outside; what's it like to actually live there, you ask? I'm glad you did.

Let's start with the people. Here are a few snapshots of my friends, in no particular order:

  • One helped me run a FIRST Lego League team at
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