Friday, December 21, 2018

Best books I read in 2018

Over the course of the past year I read at least 50 books (19 non-fiction), not counting flipping through a parade of glossy cookbooks borrowed from the public library and bedtime reading at least a dozen Boxcar Children books with my son.

Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order...

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
by Matthew Desmond
Part ethnography, part detailed analysis of Milwaukee rental market, part policy brief, this book may change the way you view wealth and poverty in America. The personal stories make the book a page-turner, but those anecdotes are supported with concrete evidence that there are structural flaws in our housing markets. This book should be required reading.

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (The Midwife Trilogy Book 1)
by Jennifer Worth
I did not find out about the PBS television adaptation of Call the Midwife until months after I read the first book, but even if the series is great viewing, I'm going to recommend the books anyway. Worth's descriptions of 1950s Docklands slums in London, with their coal soot, limited plumbing, and rickets-inducing lack of sunlight are vivid, and her tales of midwifery, family structure, and social norms are compelling.

And I know I'm really late to this party, but The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee was worth every minute spent reading its nearly 600 pages.

And I just started...
Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 2: The Defining Years, 1933-1938 (Eleanor Roosevelt, 1933-1938)
by Blanche Wiesen Cook
This biography of Eleanor Roosevelt is brilliantly written, meticulously researched, and is at times laugh-out-loud funny. Did you know ER (as the author refers to her) . While ER was imperfect, as all humans are, she was a staunch advocate for women's rights and minority rights. In one incident, a racist woman complained about ER's work on racial equality, so ER replied that she knew black people who were “not only the equal of whites but mentally superior.” Emily Alpert Reyes recommended this book, so now I'm paying that recommendation forward.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Geek Jokes Galore

In case you don't already play along, every Friday I post a #GeekJoke on Twitter (@DataGeekB)

Over the years we've had demographer jokes, statistician jokes, economist jokes, mathematician jokes, and more. Here are a few of my favorites:

A demographer is just a mathematician broken down by age and sex.

I just saw my colleague with a piece of graph paper.
I think she must be plotting something.

Why do teenagers travel in groups of 3 or 5?
Because they can't even...

Did you hear about the mathematician who’s afraid of negative numbers?
She'll stop at nothing to avoid them...

First day on the job, a boss warns her new employee to avoid the statisticians in the cafeteria: "They're just mean."

To women who ask: "Should I continue to have kids after 35?"
Me: "I don't want to tell you how to live your life, but 35 is a lot of kids."

2 mutually exclusive categories went on a date.
It didn't work out.
They had nothing in common.

Biologist, Demographer & Mathematician sit at a cafe. Across the street they see a man and a woman enter a building. Later those two people reappear with a 3rd person. 
They multiplied! says the Biologist
It's an error in measurement! says the Demographer.
If 1 person enters the building now, it will be empty again, concludes the Mathematician.

There's a fine line between a numerator and a denominator...

An economist thinks that her equations are an approximation to reality.
A physicist thinks reality is an approximation to her equations.
A mathematician doesn't care.

If you live to be 100, you've got it made.
Very few people die past that age.

A farmer counted 297 cows in the field.
But when he rounded them up, he had 300.

Why do teenagers travel in groups of 3 or 5?
Because they can't even...

I made a chart of past relationships.
It has an ex axis and a why axis.

And a couple of geeky riddles:

What always goes up, never goes down?
Your age.

When your code won't run, what can you still count on?
Your fingers.

2 mothers & 2 daughters sat down to breakfast. They had 3 cups of coffee. Each person had exactly 1 cup of coffee.
How is that possible?
(Hint: If you've worked w complex household structure data, you'll figure this one out)