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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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".

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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

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Whose Voice? Whose Guide?

nb:The Q Guide is a Harvard-run course rating service. It has its roots in the student-run "Confi Guide", published by the Crimson as far back as 1925. The Confi Guide, however, was eclipsed by the Harvard-run CUE (Committee on Undergraduate Education) reports published from 1975 onwards. In 2005, the "CUE Guide" was renamed the "Q Guide", and moved to an online-only format. Today, the Q website bills itself as "Your Voice, Your Guide".

Much has already been said about the choice to hide important course evaluation data from students (Crimson article), and I won't try to rehash in full what others have said so eloquently. Instead, I'll try to bring to the surface some of the most salient points, and add a few of my own.


First, it's been said (and satirized by Satire V) that Dean Harris did a fine job of (trying to) bury the lede on the whole matter. After all, the change to the Q was announced in sentence 16 of 21 in an email

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Blogosphere Roundup: Q Difficulty Ratings

I'm planning to compose a much longer post on the recent announcement that the Harvard Q Guide will no longer report course difficulty ratings, but in the mean time, I've rounded up a few of the insightful writers I've found around the web, with excerpts and links through to the full sources.

The Harvard Crimson: Q Guide Will No Longer Display Difficulty Score, Harris Says

A straight news piece, the Crimson article is noteworthy for including several quotes from professors defending the change:

Richard F. Thomas (Prof. Classics)

"[Difficulty ratings] could create an impulse in the instructor to make the course easier in order to attract students."

Mark C. Elliott (Prof. Chinese History)

"[Difficulty rating] is not really the most important thing about a class."

"One hopes that after everything that our students have done up to the time they get admitted to Harvard ... they recognize the value in a challenging curriculum and in taking courses that may not be an easy A, but will add in some

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