I teach political economy and statistics at a large public university in the US. You can find my academic website here.

The Waste Book very occasionally collects my passing thoughts on politics, economics, statistics, data visualization, life, culture, and everything.

We aim for funny, will settle for intriguing, and, the times and the Internet being what they are, resign ourselves to a certain amount of bemoaning.



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naked promotion

stories · October 21, 2015 · comments

The Zemeckis Prophecy

by Chris Adolph

So the Mets swept the Cubs on Back to the Future Day. I think we all know what this means.

Even now, Cubs fans are gathered around blackboards, trying to work out exactly where the timelines changed, sending them off into this terrible place. Once they figure it out and invent the time machine, they will go back in time to restore the correct history in which the Cubs swept the Miami Gators on this very day to win the World Series. (Hint: The damage to the time line probably occurred sometime before the founding of the Florida Marlins. Oh, you wanted a hint on how to travel back in time. Erm, well...)

If the people of Chicago are as good at temporal engineering as they are at baseball, nothing will change. But if they’ve sucked at baseball all these years because they were distracted by a secret, century-long project to build a working time machine, I think we can expect to wake up tomorrow in the land of flying cars and Mr. Fusion.

tags: satire

stories · August 17, 2014 · comments

58th Variety (for Garrison)

by Chris Adolph

“You know, Bob Oglethorpe’s Jimmy never was quite right, but old man Heinz said he’d take a chance on him ’cause he owed Bob for what he did to the Hunt brothers that one time. Damn near killed the company. When Heinz saw the first bottle, he swore we’d never sell so much as a jar of mayo to McDonald’s if anyone ever found out. So he figured it’d be best if we dressed it up as a dog and found it a quiet home. Next day Frank had this idea for a new-fangled tube you could squeeze to get all the ketchup out, but when he told the old man, Henry Heinz just stared at him for the longest time, and Frank let it go.

“And that, son, is why ketchup still comes in glass jars.”

tags: satire

stories · February 4, 2012 · comments

Doctor Margrave’s Ruby

by Chris Adolph

when I started college at ice University in 1994, I needed to find a job on campus. My dad generously paid my tuition and room and board, but left other expenses in my hands. I was in a rather odd category economically: well-off enough to be assured that no economic event would interrupt my studies, but cash-poor enough to need to work if I wanted to eat something other than ramen on weekends. And in Houston, Texas, life has no meaning if you can’t go out for Mexican food or the occasional off-campus Thai lunch.

As long as I could pay the phone and creamy jalapeño bills, I wanted as few hours of work as I could find. I wasn’t eligible for work-study, and the pickings for 10-hours or less a week non-work-study jobs were slim. Indeed, the first week of school, there were just two such jobs: an off-campus job at the Texas Medical Center maintaining a rabbit lab, and an on-campus job doing menial tasks for a chemistry professor.

I interviewed for the rabbit job first. I didn’t own a car – an unthinkable oversight in Houston – but I agreed to a no-notice interview. Striding out into my hall, I spotted an unknown floormate, introduced myself, and asked for a ride (there was little chance he’d turn me down; ice is like that). As I explained my urgent need for a lift, it occurred to me that my new best friend looked familiar. I was sure I’d seen that face hundreds of times, only his was browner, younger…  read on

tags: life, universe, everything

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Content © 2011–4
Chris Adolph

Artwork © 2011–4
Erika Steiskal

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