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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computing · March 20, 2012 · comments

Social Science Computing for the Mac in 15 Steps and $29

by Chris Adolph

as a uantitative social scientist, I use software every day that many people have never even heard of. At the same time, I don’t even have a copy of Microsoft Word or PowerPoint on my laptop. As you might imagine, just finding, installing, and configuring scientific software can be quite a distracting quest. Students embarking on quantitative social science careers may be interested in how my own computing environment is set up, so they can get on with the business of using these tools instead of searching for them.

I’ll assume you’re a Ph.D. student in political science, sociology, economics, statistics, or a cognate discipline, and that you want to develop solutions for at least a few of the following tasks: modern statistical computing, editing code, typesetting scientific papers, making lecture slides, producing publication quality scientific graphics, and developing websites. I will also assume that you use a Mac. Most of the applications below exist for Windows in some form, and many exist for Linux/Unix, but I will leave advice for finding these resources to another day and to commenters.

Where do you get started? I’ll begin with step-by-step recommendations for essentials, and then follow with some optional extras.  read on

tags: technical

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

politics · January 19, 2012 · comments

The Rime of the Texas Candidate

by Chris Adolph

So the idea is that on one of his hunting trips, Rick Perry shot an albatross?


um, hoover Institution? It looks like one of your fellows missed both 5th grade history on the presidents and 5th grade math on percentages:

Bill Whalen, fellow at the Hoover Institution, says today’s end to the Rick Perry presidential campaign dramatizes what can now officially be called “the 16-year curse of Texas politics” for presidential runs… Whalen’s take: when it comes to presidential politics, “Texas is boom and bust. You’re either Bush, father and son, and you go all the way.” Or “you’re the rest – and you can’t get out of the first round.”

Source: Carla Marinucci, “Perry latest victim of ‘16-year curse of Texas politics’ – either you’re Bush or you’re screwed“ Houston Chronicle, 1/19/2012.

So let’s look at the presidential campaigns of the last 16 years – that’s Whalen’s interval, and if anything, it’s stacked in favor of his argument, as he just manages to exclude the second-to-last Texas president from consideration.  read on

tags: bemoaning

vox · January 7, 2012 · comments

Durius, Melius, Celerius, Fortius

by Chris Adolph

Spoken or overheard…


The tarantula should have paid its own rent.


Superfan is dead!

Sad fan at 2012 Alamo Bowl


Good Garrison dog! What a nice forced sit.


There’s always room for one more clown in the car.


Every dog-on-man will have his day.


I can sleep like a m*****-f***ing champion.

tags: dialogs

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Content © 2011–4
Chris Adolph

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Erika Steiskal

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