Saturday, September 18, 2004

beta male

I called Borders to see if the copy of Regression Analysis: A Constructive Critique* had come in yet, because of course there is nothing more delicious to do on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon than to curl up and read that. They said it was there, and so I scooted up as fast as I could to retrieve it. The book turned out not to be behind the counter, and so they had to call someone over to go see if it was in back.

The guy they called over looked like he hadn't slept in a month. He went off to go look for it and took an interminable amount of time, as if he accidentally dozed for a few minutes against the boxes in the stockroom. Eventually he did return with book in hand.

Despite the pure primal pleasure I expect to derive from Regression Analysis: A Constructive Critique, it's the sort of book that I charge to the research account I have. So the guy gets the binder of account information off the shelf and starts looking for my sheet. The binder is organized alphabetically first by department and then by name.

He starts from the back of the binders, flips through the Ts, then through Spanish, then through SE Asian studies. He then looks puzzles, flips back through Spanish, then to SE Asian studies, then back into the Ts, then back to SE Asian studies, then back to Spanish again, then to SE Asian studies.

"Actually, um, Sociology comes before Southeast Asian Studies."
"Oh, right."

So then he starts from the back of the sociology section (Wright), and then flips to Gamoran, and then looks puzzled and moves like he is going to start going backward in the alphabet again. I put my hand out to block him.

"I'm the sheet right before Gamoran." Which, as he discovers when he turns that page, I am.

"His mailbox is right below mine," I say, lamely, as if that gave me some special advantage in knowing the order of F and G in the alphabet. (Besides, thanks to a certain Professor Fujimura, it isn't even true.)

The man looks up at me with this bleary-eyed smile. "I'm sorry. My wife had a baby a month ago, and my alphabetization skills seem to have left me."

* Here are a couple of constructive sentences from page 19 of RA:aCC: "[I]f the premises upon which the [regression] analysis rests are, at best, cartoons, how seriously should results of the analysis be taken? The bottom line is simple: If so much depends on the information brought in from outside of the data, that information had better be pretty damn good."

1 comment:

Tom Volscho said...

Is it a good book: Regression Analysis: A Constructive Critique? What does he mean by cartoons, scatterplots showcasing assumptions?