Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

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

[OGPS] Faith


Planning this week's lesson (#6) was tough. Last week was a disaster. Having split up students by the missions they were aiming to accomplish, we divided the groups between Diane (to do some programming) and myself (for building).

Those that didn't just walk away from my building table (I let them, not having the heart to tell them not to program) stuck around only to distract each other by building model cars, motorcycles, or other (neat, but off-task) things. On the bright side, I suppose, Diane said that programming made some progress. Still, not good for a full 10% of our time with these kids.

So, we met with Danielle (our new TA) and decided that we were going to go back to the old, broken model of Programming Team, Building Team, and Project Team. So much for changing things up from the old Chocobots team. We put off making the actual divisions until my and Diane's weekly planning meeting on Sunday night.

Of course, the planning meeting hasn't


[OGPS] What I Learned from Jacob Lurie

This post was written mostly after week 3 at OGPS. The weeks 4, 5, and 6 posts may or may not be forthcoming.


Learning Education

Earlier this fall, I lotteried for  USW35, "Dilemmas of Equity and Excellence in American K-12 Education". But, like 70% of those who tried to get a seat, I was rejected. So, instead, I'm taking a math course in Functional Analysis (Math 114). It satisfies my Analysis requirement for my joint CS/Math concentration. So there's that.

There's also the fact that professor Lurie has taught me more about how to teach at OGPS than I imagine "Equity and Excellence" ever could. (Aside: In no way do I mean this as a slight against Prof. Merseth. I'm sure that her class is fantastic. But the impression I got from shopping week was that it's a very academic treatment of the education problem in our country, and not "Here's how to teach a kid to program a computer for the first


[OGPS] Impressions, Addendum

At the end of yesterday's post, I rushed through a few of my retrospective opinions of the Colombia-Howard County Robotics Team (CHoCoBots) '06-'08. On re-reading, I don't think I did a good job of saying the things I meant to say, and implied many things that I didn't. So here's my attempt at a do-over. I'll keep original text (I've kept basically everything) in bold, and write my addenda and commentary in regular-weight.

The other advantage we have over the Chocobots (Columbia-Howard County Robotics) circa 2006 is we've got a coach who understands the FLL competition very well. We, the coaches, can do intelligent things like leverage the mission-driven nature of the FLL game to organize our classroom activities sensibly, nudge our team members down paths that we (I) expect to pay off, based on past experiences ("How about tackling a shorter mission first, for easy points?"). In short, we intend give our kids the best experience we can by being prepared.

This, on review, is extremely unfair


[China] Looking Backwards

Challenges in writing about events from the perspective of afterward: Getting things down while they're still fresh in the mind. And so, I figure I'll start with that which is most fresh: returning home.

On the morning of the 23rd, I woke up early enough to see my friends off on their trip to see the Great Wall. I never did get to see it, or the Forbidden City, or the Summer Palace, or the 798 District, or anything else of real cultural interest in Beijing. But that's probably alright; I'll be in China again in the not-so-distant future. It's not like I'm going to see (most of) any of these kids any other time in my life. And so I don't feel so bad about missing a few sightseeing opportunities if it means I got to spend more time with a crop of truly fantastic students.

People ask me "How was China?" or "What did you see?", and my answer to either is "I


Bad Advice, Quantum Mechanics, Normalcy

(The title of this blog post brought to you by "potential romantic comedy plots in five words or less")


A few months ago, Harvard's George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Mathematics recommended a movie to his freshman Real Analysis class -- on some tangent in class, he noted that "it's a fantastic movie; you should all watch it."

The movie was Spring Breakers. So, the other day, a few friends and I borrowed the Jefferson 250 lecture hall (where we had once-upon-a-time taken RA with GVL Prof. Gross) and threw the movie up on the giant projector screen.

We turned it off after thirty minutes of nauseating dialogue, uncomfortable soft-core pornography, and implausible montages of "college kids" drinking "beer". It was bad. Really bad. I'm really not sure how Prof. Gross managed to sit through the movie himself.

But really, the problem here is that I still don't know why we were told to watch this vapid, gratuitous, teen-star nonsense. What I've

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