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Bayesian Statistics for the Social Sciences (Methodology in the Social Sciences)
Bayesian Statistics for the Social Sciences (Methodology in the Social Sciences)
by David Kaplan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $53.16
33 used & new from $36.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good conceptual exegesis with off-putting code sections, November 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The conceptual coverage here is very appropriate for social scientists -- the advantages and principles of Bayesian methods -- yet when it gets to real applications, it too often dumps R code on the reader in enormous chunks that are unsuitable for a book.

Here's an example: Bayesian factor analysis is an area of high interest and need among psychologists and other social scientists -- but the chapter on it ends with a 50 page section of R code! I'm not kidding; you can check this in the table of contents. The 50 pages are unbroken code printed in landscape format. This has several problems, of which perhaps the three most salient are (1) such massive sections of code belong in a manual or technical document, not in a book; (2) hardly anyone would realistically want to work through 50 pages of code just to implement factor analysis; and (3) it is thus more of a disincentive to using Bayesian methods than an advertisement for them!

On the other hand, the examples are focused on the kinds of data and models that social scientists care about, unlike most texts on Bayesian methods. For use in a graduate course where students are expected to implement models in R code, I suspect this book would be very useful. For readers who want more practical, immediately useful instruction, It will help with the concepts but overall might be more of a dissuasion from Bayesian methods than the author intends.


Using Propensity Scores in Quasi-Experimental Designs
Using Propensity Scores in Quasi-Experimental Designs
by William M. Holmes
Edition: Paperback
Price: $46.48
41 used & new from $16.08

2.0 out of 5 stars Conceptual descriptions without working code or complete examples, November 30, 2014
I really wanted to like this book. It's the most accessible text I've read on propensity scoring, presenting the concepts in a readable fashion. However, I have to give it two stars because it falls short on several fronts that are I regard as minimum bars for a stats book that promises instruction in "using" a method. In particular, it does not present working code to compute a single example in any statistics program.

I'll review this with the assumption that the reader wants a self-contained reference or text (and is not, for instance, taking a course).

The best part of the book is that the motivation for and explication of propensity scores -- what they are used for and how the procedures work at a high level -- are presented in an intuitive, minimally formal way that is approachable to anyone with a solid background in linear regression. The coverage is fairly complete at a basic level, with chapters devoted to computing scores, using them for weighting, matching, and application to several kinds of models.

Unfortunately the downsides outweigh that positive. Some of the issues are mostly just annoyances. For instance, the writing is often extremely convoluted, with excessively long sentences and paragraphs that border on being word salad. An example occurs on page 75, where "Condition 5" of causal inference is explained with "four requirements" that are buried inside a single paragraph that spans two pages and contains three subordinate "notes" strung along in linear fashion.

Another issue is that the author describes too many options in almost every chapter -- such as as multiple variants of weighting -- only to conclude that only one or two of the many he covered are "recommended". Why not cut the others and just present the recommended parts?

The most serious problem, however, is this: there is no working example, anywhere in the book, of a complete analysis using propensity scores. By "complete" I mean either working computer code in R, SAS, or another program, or at least a complete mathematical model, for an analysis that integrates scoring, matching, and the final model results. Instead, there are bits and pieces of such models (in mathematical formulas) strewn across multiple chapters, with additional bits and pieces of computer code in the appendices. There are many tables and charts of purported results that compare models with and without propensity scores but nowhere does he show exactly how those results were obtained!

What about the computer code? Can you use the appendices to reconstruct an analysis? No, shockingly not. The commands appear to be snippets taken from longer analyses with almost no explanation, no common data set, few common variables, and many bugs. For example, in the R code, he mostly does not list the packages that are used; several commands have obvious bugs such as missing parentheses; and variables such as "propen" (for propensity score) simply appear from nowhere and disappear again -- with no demonstration of either how they are calculated or how they are used later. (You can check the R code on the author's website to see).

The text might be suitable as supplemental material for a course, if it were titled something like, "Conceptual background on propensity scores". Unfortunately it will not do much to help most analysts use them in practice.

The book would benefit highly from a second edition that adds three things (or rather, three variants of one thing):
1. Step-by-step, fully worked examples
2. Summary sections that present step-by-step procedures for analysts
3. Working computer code for complete examples

Meanwhile, I'd recommend Guo and Fraser as the best text. It's somewhat more technical to be sure, but the examples are complete.


Avery "Fragile" Special Message Labels, 3 x 5 Inches, Black/Red Neon, 40 per Pack (05283)
Avery "Fragile" Special Message Labels, 3 x 5 Inches, Black/Red Neon, 40 per Pack (05283)
Price: $4.99
23 used & new from $4.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Large and very noticeable, March 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's impossible to get excited about packing stickers. Nevertheless, these were slightly better than I expected: good sized and very noticeable and they seem to stick well to the boxes.

I used them to mark boxes when packing for a move and they were just what I wanted.


Dolfin Guard Water Short Mens, Navy, Medium
Dolfin Guard Water Short Mens, Navy, Medium
Offered by Think Fast
Price: Click here to see our price
2 used & new from $22.76

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fit matched the chart (for Medium). Slightly baggy style, March 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's surprisingly difficult to find swim shorts with pockets and a moderate length. These fit the bill and are decent swim shorts.

I'm 5'8 and 145 pounds and the Medium fit OK, just a little on the large side. They are not especially fashionable (my daughter started laughing and my wife said I look like a dad) but that's not why I bought them anyway. And of course that might reflect my own looks more than the shorts!


Pratt Multipurpose Newsprint Wrapping Paper Sheet, NPS203025,  30" Length x 20" Width, White (Bundle of 600)
Pratt Multipurpose Newsprint Wrapping Paper Sheet, NPS203025, 30" Length x 20" Width, White (Bundle of 600)
Price: $43.42
3 used & new from $39.41

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seemingly endless supply of newspaper, March 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got this to assist with moving and was very glad I did. The paper is typical lightweight newsprint, and works very well for wrapping or for crumpling up in a box to fill space and hold things in place.

I'm a careful mover and tend to use way too much wrapping -- but even then, a pack of this was enough for an apartment move and had lots left over. It's far from an exciting purchase, I suppose, but I'd happily order more. Cheers!


The LaTeX Companion (Tools and Techniques for Computer Typesetting)
The LaTeX Companion (Tools and Techniques for Computer Typesetting)
by Frank Mittelbach
Edition: Paperback
Price: $52.36
60 used & new from $26.74

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, essential reference for LaTeX, March 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book is the single best reference for LaTeX users who are past the beginner stage and need reference on how to do more and to polish their documents.

It is a relatively comprehensive reference with more than 1000 pages and chapters on everything from formatting to math, indexes, citations, and graphics. Of particular usefulness to me so far have been the chapters on indexing and bibliographies, such as how to do all kinds of citations such as author/year instead of basic LaTeX numbered citations. It is full of examples that show the exact LaTeX syntax next to the formatted output. As an example, I'm currently looking at pages 704-705 and there are 25 varying citation formats described on those two pages, shown with complete code and output.

There are two downsides to the book: it is not designed to be a first text (but the tutorials at CTAN work for that), and it is massive, far too heavy to carry around.

But for a single best desk reference, this is it!


Aviditi 18146 Flat Corrugated Box, 18" Length x 14" Width x 6" Height, Kraft (Bundle of 25)
Aviditi 18146 Flat Corrugated Box, 18" Length x 14" Width x 6" Height, Kraft (Bundle of 25)
Price: $33.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent size for books, March 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got a pack of these for moving, and primarily to hold books. They were very affordable compared to what the movers would have wanted, and worked very well for books.

When full of books, you could expect this box to be 25 or 30 pounds -- perhaps a bit less for paperbacks and substantially more for textbooks or glossy print. I estimate that my mix of general books and fiction ran about 30 pounds on average -- which is about as much as I'd want to pack.

They also stacked well after filling. The only reason I say 4 stars instead of 5 is that there was nothing particularly exciting about them. But I'd happily order them again.


[ Total 20 pairs ] Plastic Melamine Chopsticks - Ivory & Black
[ Total 20 pairs ] Plastic Melamine Chopsticks - Ivory & Black
Offered by LUCCA
Price: $12.75
5 used & new from $12.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Average cheap restaurant style, slippery and not textured, February 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These are the plastic chopsticks that you've likely seen in Korean or Chinese restaurants. They are sort of large and squarish, and not very tapered towards the ends. The ends are also not textured (which is to say, they are not the typical Japanese style chopsticks).

They're OK but I prefer a more tapered and textured style; with these the food slips off too easily and they feel clunky in the hand. On the other hand, the price is great and I like that they are dishwasher safe AFAICT (although warning: they will fall through holes in your silverware basket, so a dishwasher may not really work that well for you).

If I were buying again, I'd look around and pay more for something nicer. But if you need quantity and durability, these will work.


Norpro 339 Stainless Steel Grater
Norpro 339 Stainless Steel Grater
Price: $9.61
13 used & new from $5.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good grater, slightly light weight as others have said, February 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got this to replace a grater that I really disliked because I kept getting cut (Progressive International HG-85 6-Piece Grater Set, not recommended!) This one is much safer, works better on veggies, and I've been happy with it and had no problems.

One minor issue is that the steel is relatively lightweight; when you press something against it, the grater may bend slightly. So I doubt that will have a 10 year life, but it's worked fine for a couple of months so far.

As for a problem some other reviewers have noted: the handle -- I have not had any issue with the handle, but I don't hold it by the handle while grating. I recommend to hold it by the back side, i.e., to grate on one side and hold on the opposite.


Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages Plus Antibiotic, Waterproof, 1" X 2 1/2", 15 Count (Pack of 2)
Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages Plus Antibiotic, Waterproof, 1" X 2 1/2", 15 Count (Pack of 2)
Offered by AmericaRx
Price: $8.40
5 used & new from $6.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Work great and help healing, February 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These are great band-aids and will help your cuts or scratches heal faster. I especially like that they keep a wound sealed so it doesn't get dirt in it during the day at work or around the city. The waterproof aspect works pretty well -- not perfectly but very well for casual protection for a day.

The only minor issue is that they are very light colored, so for most people it would be quite obvious that you're wearing a band-aid. Not a big deal, and these band-aids are now a key element in my toiletry pantry.


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