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.


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."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Favorite popular music listening for 2019


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


Dear Brother: Here's How to Get Admitted to Harvard (if you want)

This is part 2 of a 4-part series addressed to the author's brother, discussing the author's perspective on "elite education".

[ | | ]

Dear brother,

Yesterday, we talked about the (for some) counterintuitive fact that an elite education isn't just for those with elite pocketbooks. (Fun fact: for 90% of students, Harvard is cheaper than state school.) Today, we're grappling with something a bit more meaty.

Deresiewicz's swipe at the financial cost of an Ivy education is delivered offhand, but his critiques of Ivy League admissions policy are full-throated. We, he alleges, were admitted not because we demonstrated true passions and talents or showed any real promise as peers and fellow-students-to-be, but merely because we were "manufactured" to be "fit to compete in the college admissions game."

Well, to borrow a phrase, "it almost feels ridiculous to have to insist that colleges like Harvard" attract truly talented students. What, an admissions committee with basically free choice of the nation's graduating seniors, some of the business's most


Dear Brother: Go Wherever You Want for College

This is part 1 of a 4-part series addressed to the author's brother, discussing the author's perspective on "elite education".

[ | ]

Dear brother,

Congratulations on making it through three years of that purgatory called high school! Soon you'll be getting up close and personal with that great Millenial coming-of-age ritual: the one where you and a few dozen people you've never met conspire to decide what sort of weather and dining hall food you'll be enjoying (or cursing) for four years of your life.

You're going to get a lot of advice on how to navigate the next year or so. Unfortunately, not all of it will be good. One day, I'll try to organize my own thoughts on the matter, but today, I feel compelled to rebut a refrain I've heard echoed far too often recently.

The fundamental complaint is that "elite" education (for some definition) leaves students with empty credentials at the expense of true learning, and that graduating high school students have better options for


Some Friendly (College) Advice

So, I recently found myself typing up a longish email in response to a high school junior trying to figure out this whole college thing. In particular, the full story looks something like:

  • I post a Quora answer in response to a question about majoring in mathematics.
  • A user comments, asking if I would field some additional questions by email. (I've since deleted the comment, to protect the privacy of the requester.)
  • I spend the better part of an hour typing responses about what it's like to be at Harvard, what it's like to joint-concentrate CS/Math, and some advice on applying to colleges.

In the end, it seemed like there are some other people I know who might want to hear such off-the-top-of-my-head insights. But then again, if you're not a high school student, the rest of this post is going to be pretty useless for you; be forewarned.

In any case, I've reproduced (most of) the email exchange below.

Hi Ross,

My questions are as follows:

  1. From your
2 / 2