Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Methods meeting paper, day two

With a little Python scripting (to pull down a few constituency statistics for every House member from the online Almanac of American Politics) and about an hour of grunt work (coding the race and gender of 435 House members), I now have some covariates to play with for my methods meeting paper. About halfway through it occurred to me that I could have just recycled the 105th Congress data I compiled for the Damn Impeachment Paper™ and used it, but maybe this will be fresher and more interesting even though it’s all just illustrative anyway.

Next steps: hack together some R code to run some simulations and start thinking about how to get this down on paper, in both prose and poster format.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Methods meeting paper, day one

So far, I’ve attacked my data to get my most important variable by generating first-dimension ideology scores using the CJR model for the 110th House through this morning’s roll calls; pscl makes this incredibly easy, although a tweak to allow the readKH function to support the CSV files from Jeff Lewis’ site in addition to the traditional Poole-Rosenthal data dictionaries would be nice (if I get bored later in the week, I may hack something together).

The drudge work to come: marrying these data with some member and constituency demographics so I can slap together some models (some based on real data, some fake based on a known data generating process) with the ideology scores as independent and dependent variables to see if incorporating error really helps anything or not. If not, this may turn out to be the dullest paper in methods meeting history.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

US beats Mexico in CONCACAF Gold Cup Final

The US men’s soccer team again demonstrated continental supremacy at fútbol today by defeating Mexico in the final of the Gold Cup. Keep this up and we might actually have a decent showing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Stargate math

The following equations hold:

Jewel Staite > Paul McGillion
Amanda Tapping > Torri Higginson

So, by the transitive property, we would expect:

Stargate Atlantis Season 4 > Stargate Atlantis Seasons 1–3

But for some reason I’m not holding my breath…

Friday, 22 June 2007

Da Zoo

A group of EITMers, including me, went to the zoo on Wednesday, and I took about a bazillion photos. It was fun, although I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet from the 4+ miles of walking I did that day (the bulk of it to and from the zoo from the northwest corner of the WashU campus).

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Naughty Pirates

Mom sent me a forwarded email with this photo attached:

Pirates / Knocked Up / Shrek

It really speaks for itself…

Update: Dad sends this link from Ocala in a similar vein.

You too can be Elbridge Gerry

Via Prof. Shugart: play the Redistricting Game. I smell an Intro to Politics assignment for the fall…

Monday, 18 June 2007

Much Ado About Mosquito Bites

A few of my fellow EITMers and I went to see the last performance of Much Ado About Nothing in Forest Park last night. I’d never seen Shakespeare set in the Wild West before, but it worked somehow. However, my reward for seeing Shakespeare was a mosquito bite on my scalp which has been bothering me all day.

I’d plan on taking some antihistamine, but if tomorrow is like today was I’d be out like a light—it probably didn’t help that the afternoon included a 90-minute lecture that could be basically summed up in a sentence as “econometric models that are misspecified and have omitted variables are incorrect in really bad ways, so don’t do that.” Perhaps it was a useful refresher for those who have forgotten the Gauss-Markov assumptions, but it did less for me in my insufficiently-caffeinated state.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Duke lacrosse book review

As promised, the review is up at OTB. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the book, although I’d imagine that those less familiar with the case would think it was better.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Nifong quits, loses law license

Via The New York Times and QandO, I just learned that Mike Nifong has quit as Durham County’s DA, apparently in the hope that the state bar will be lenient with him at his ongoing ethics trial. Good riddance.

In quasi-related news, one of my projects for this weekend is to review the book about the case by Don Yaeger for Outside The Beltway.

Update: CNN and others report that Nifong's trial ended Saturday with him being disbarred.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Tales of barely remembered calculus

∂x/∂θ = Chris’ head exploding. I’m pretty sure the last time I did any serious calculus was about 13 years ago; today I got to reacquaint myself with the chain rule and the product rule (at least I could remember how to partially differentiate polynomials). I may have to go to Borders, pick up Calculus for Dummies, and hide it under my desk (so as not to embarrass myself in front of the young whipper-snappers in the room) if this keeps up.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Mo. Supreme Court to Clayton: Blight This

The Missouri Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the city of Clayton can’t seize and hand over several parcels of land in downtown Clayton to private developers who are too cheap to pay market value for land to expand Centene Corporation’s headquarters. According to the article, Centene may look elsewhere instead, but unless they’re willing to go somewhere that’s genuinely blighted—say, about 70% of the city of St. Louis—they’re probably bluffing.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Odds and ends

I got my Express Mail refund today, although it took at least 30 minutes out of my life at the Clayton post office. On the upside, I did pick up some of those fancy Jamestown 41¢ stamps while I was there, as well as having the rather amusing experience of seeing someone who had brought in at least 20 first-class letters stamped with both a 39-cent stamp and a Forever stamp.

After the postal service ordeal, I ate lunch at Lampert’s Plush Pig BBQ on Forsyth, which was reasonably good although a bit pricey (Hog Heaven in Daytona was substantially better).

EITM today was nicely bifurcated; I understood everything this morning (basically a review of mathematical statistics through Bayes’ Theorem) but a lot less this afternoon (basically a review of game theory through comparative statics), although my vague recollections of my undergrad calculus and differential equations helped somewhat. Lesson of the day: I probably should have crammed in a game theory class at ICPSR.

I also learned today that walking back home from the Metrolink station in the middle of summer at 4:45 pm while carrying a full backpack is not very much fun. Tomorrow’s plan: park and ride, the environment be (partially) damned.

Saturday, 9 June 2007


I’ve now uploaded two sets of photos from Daytona: one general set and a separate set from the Daytona Cubs game I saw Wednesday night.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Comparing Fort Collins and Daytona Beach

For reasons I don’t entirely comprehend, I decided to spend another week of my life grading the free response portion of AP American Government exams; this year, we’re in Daytona Beach, instead of Fort Collins, which is quite a transition.

The accommodations here are much nicer (a beach resort hotel instead of an un-air-conditioned dorm), but the catering here is substantially inferior, particularly for picky eaters or those with dietary restrictions. There’s more to do around the grading site—whether it’s lazing around the beach, taking in a single-A baseball game, or spending an hour or two riding go-karts and playing skee-ball and mini-golf. Indeed, other than the food—something that is easily worked around for a few bucks a day—the only real downside here is that the beer is better in Fort Collins.

Alas, uploading photos will have to wait until I have a more reliable connection, probably when I’m back in St. Louis in a couple of days. The lobby’s free wifi signal carries up to my room somewhat intermittently, and I’m not inclined to sit around the lobby while they all upload.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

USPS Express Mail: not so much

It took the postal service four days to carry out the “guaranteed overnight delivery” of an Express Mail letter from St. Louis to New Orleans. Regular first class mail probably would have arrived more quickly.

I don’t know whether to be ticked off at the sheer incompetence or happy that I’ll be getting my $16.25 in postage back.