Re: Chart-reading

1

That is hilariously awful.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:16 AM
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Organized conventionally it is not.


Posted by: Opinionated Yoda | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:28 AM
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3

Holy moly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:39 AM
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4

Pff okay, I'll bite: what's wrong with it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:10 AM
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Really? How about:

- the hollow shapes have nothing to do with the corresponding shaded shapes
- why are the causes strung together, the way you would if the x-axis indicated "time"?
- if you wanted the x-axis to be labelled by cause, why wouldn't you do a bar graph?
- if you're placing the bulk of the emphasis on some special day in 1989, and then visually cramming some information about 1971-1989 in at the top, why not title the graph with something indicating that we really care about 1989?
Etc.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:16 AM
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4:

You'd expect the x axis to measure time and the individual causes to each have a different line plot showing their donation levels over time. In addition, joining the individual data points for a single time period suggests that proceeding along that line corresponds to variation along a dimension with some kind of ordinal structure, but it doesn't.


Posted by: lambchop | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:20 AM
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- the hollow shapes have nothing to do with the corresponding shaded shapes

I guess, sure. So they had a limited palette of shapes available to mark data points. Doesn't seem like the end of the world.

- why are the causes strung together, the way you would if the x-axis indicated "time"?

Because they are trying to indicate a general trend for charitable donations to be higher as you move right on the graph.

- if you wanted the x-axis to be labelled by cause, why wouldn't you do a bar graph?

Again, because you're trying to show divergence from a trend.

- if you're placing the bulk of the emphasis on some special day in 1989, and then visually cramming some information about 1971-1989 in at the top, why not title the graph with something indicating that we really care about 1989?

Because what you're trying to point out is that there was a spike in charitable giving to disaster relief between 1985 and 1989 that was (largely? totally?) driven by a spike in charitable giving in November and December 1989.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:22 AM
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8

That sure would have worked better if I did the tags right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:22 AM
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9

No. Bad tags is in the spirit of the whole thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:23 AM
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10

In addition, joining the individual data points for a single time period suggests that proceeding along that line corresponds to variation along a dimension with some kind of ordinal structure, but it doesn't.

Yeah, see, this I don't buy. Charts like this (with lines connecting non-ordinal data points) are incredibly common and often very useful for showing trends and divergence from trends. I'm not sure if it's technically a parallel coordinate plot but it seems quite close, and those are pretty standard (and have a fan in Tufte).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:27 AM
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11

Jesus Christ, that's atrocious. Why in hell is that a line chart?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:30 AM
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12

I guess, sure. So they had a limited palette of shapes available to mark data points. Doesn't seem like the end of the world.

This is, of course, totally absurd. Using a hollow star and a shaded star while trying to communicate that the reader should not connect these in their mind?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:30 AM
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In fact, that chart actually does a pretty good job of showing that there is a multi-year trend in charitable giving amounts, that this trend did not hold in 1985 to 1989, and that the same divergence held if you zoom in on a specific set of months in 1989. It's a little weird that the data ranges for the longer time scale data points aren't all the same but I assume that's an artifact of the data they had.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:30 AM
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Because they are trying to indicate a general trend for charitable donations to be higher as you move right on the graph.

And if so this is an inane goal, because there is no characteristic that is brought out by moving right. It's categorical, FFS!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:31 AM
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12: they had four levels of color (black, white, and two levels of gray) and seven sets of data points across two categories; if they didn't want overlap they would have had to have three more data point icon types besides star, circle and square. I guess triangle could be one, but at a certain point you risk adding additional meaningless information. For what it's worth, it didn't even occur to me that anybody would be confused by that until you mentioned it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:33 AM
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14: you take the categories. You rank order the categories by the average amount of donations over whatever period. Then you put them in order. That rank order is the characteristic that is brought out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:34 AM
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Because what you're trying to point out is that there was a spike in charitable giving to disaster relief between 1985 and 1989 that was (largely? totally?) driven by a spike in charitable giving in November and December 1989.

Then it should annualize the monthly figures and show a time series, surely. (I'm not sure how what I quote here squares with what you said about moving right.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:34 AM
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18

Isn't it a metaphor for grad school?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:36 AM
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You rank order the categories by the average amount of donations over whatever period.

Where does it say that's what they're doing? To my eye Child Safety has a higher average than Other.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:37 AM
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17: the point is that over the time range of interest the rank ordering of the categories was different than the usual trend. You get your rank ordering from the ordinary state of affairs and then when you put connected data points from a time range that has a different rank ordering onto your chart ordered by the usual state of affairs, you get a clearly visible spike, which communicates your point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:37 AM
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21

Anyhow, the chart's fine. Nobody should worry about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:41 AM
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20: I can imagine such a visualization method existing in general. I don't see how this is an example. Heebie, can you scan the accompanying text so we can see how test takers are being asked to read the graph?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:41 AM
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23

In the sense that doing well on the GRE can lead to graduate school, that chart is practically public service.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:47 AM
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24

20: how would that point not have been made more clearly by charting each category on its own line over time?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:48 AM
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I don't think the questions are actually terribly relevant to the success or failure of the graph, since the graph was presumably not designed to facilitate the answering of whatever questions the GRE people came up with (I could be wrong, but I think they usually re-use things from existing literature rather than making their own graphs).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:48 AM
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24: how would it have been made more clearly? I can't visualize at all how you would represent multiple categories across multiple time scales like that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:49 AM
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This chart is bad because the shapes look too similar. Don't know how Sify can dispute that part of the critique. Make the shapes bigger so there is more than four pixels difference between the square and circle. And the "shaded square" versus "slightly more shaded square" is B.S.

The paradigm at the top of the graph is OK, although the shapes are too small. The paradigm in the bottom part of the chart is terrible. Black circle, shaded square, slightly more shaded square, and shaded star? It looks like the two squares have something especially in common, which they don't. And why is only one of the shapes black? It's certainly easier to tell a white square from a black square than it is to tell a #C6C6C6 square from a #9A9A9A square.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:50 AM
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22: didn't think to snap that photo. The book is with my friend.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:50 AM
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Agreed with 26 though. Introducing even MORE lines with more inscrutable shapes would add confusion to compensate for the reduced confusion created by graphing on a time-scale.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:51 AM
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30

Yeah, see, this I don't buy.

Eh, I can see what you're saying about the amount of information this chart captures, but I still think that the general association of a line moving along the x-axis with time is too strong to be able to say, 'But no, it doesn't mean that in this graph.'


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:51 AM
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31

Don't know how Sify can dispute that part of the critique

I don't dispute it, I just don't think it's that huge a deal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:51 AM
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32

Also, sifu, the actual content of the chart isn't terribly obscure and nuanced. It's total donations across really broad categories.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:53 AM
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33

30: to recapitulate our recent in-person conversation on the topic, I simply don't have this association; I see graphs where the X-axis is categorical and the data points are connected by lines constantly. They are absolutely, 100% standard in my field (parallel coordinates plots like this are a little funkier, but only a little). Whether you like that method or not, being able to read graphs like this certainly seems like a useful skill to bring to grad school (in my field, anyhow).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:55 AM
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Ideally, if the X-axis is just a bunch of random categories instead of a numerical series or a time-series, the shapes shouldn't be connected by lines. But in this case it makes it easier to tell which shape is which, and a LOT easier to observe overall trends.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:58 AM
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32: it's the relation of donations across 6 categories to each other at two different time scales and two different monetary ranges, and the relation of data at one time-by-amount scale to data at the other time-by-amount scale. It's not nothing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:59 AM
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What is the point of the GRE? I remember taking it for grad school, but I can't imagine it would have provided any useful information whatsoever. The whole point of grad school is that you're now specializing in something you've studied somewhat already, right? And why is there a math section for non-math-doing disciplines, and vice versa? Also for the quantitative fields doesn't everyone get like every math GRE question (which IIRC was entirely things like basic algebra and chart reading, which must have been true if I could answer the questions) right? ETS seems like a racket across the board but the GRE seems particularly egregious.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:12 AM
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37

I'm sure it's a personal problem, but I can't get past that they have time treated categorically and a categorical scale connected as if it were linear or ordinal. This should have been a different type of graph.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:14 AM
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38

Halford doesn't test well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:15 AM
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39

I don't think I would have been able to phrase it as well, but 37 gets at exactly why that chart is insane.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:16 AM
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40

No, I did great on the GRE. I wasn't a very good graduate student, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:17 AM
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41

Oh hey. Me too.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:18 AM
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42

Actually, I was a very good graduate student in all ways except for the finishing things way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:18 AM
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43

So, I understand that people here think this chart is insane, but can I at least get some acknowledgment that it's actually a completely standard, fairly common type of chart? I mean, look at the link in 10 or just google "parallel coordinates plot" for yourselves.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:21 AM
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No, I did great on the GRE. I wasn't a very good graduate student, though.

I did the best on the logical reasoning section (perfect or close to it, I think), quantitative after that, and then verbal a distant third. This means I should have taken the LSAT, right?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:25 AM
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45

44: I think so. They didn't even count the logical reasoning part of it when I applied to grad schools.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:28 AM
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43: It is a fairly standard chart, but this example still annoys me. The charts in 10 mostly have just two points (e.g. the baseball and life expectancy ones) or have time as the axis along which the points are connected by lines (e.g. the cancer survival rates) or both (the government receipts one). The only remaining one is about cars and nearly unreadable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:31 AM
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The chart isn't how I would have formatted those data but it doesn't seem too hard to follow, even under time pressure. (I also can't come up with a better way if all those data must be in a single figure for space reasons.) I see all kinds of unusual data representation at work, and although I think the GRE is pretty useless, it's not a bad skill to be able to pull conclusions quickly from a chart despite unfamiliar formatting.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:36 AM
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48

The LSAT, at least, is entirely crackable -- any reasonably intelligent person can massively improve their score by practice and a clear understanding of the test's structure. I always tell anybody who's interested in law school to suck it up and pay for the test prep. Which of course makes the whole process ridiculous, but whatever.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:36 AM
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49

My wife was told to practice using this program. It seemed to work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 10:01 AM
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The GRE free practice tests put out by testing companies are rackets, since they are far harder than the actual GRE, and hope to scare you into paying for test prep.

But yeah, the math section seems pointless. It requires fairly useless brushing up of middle school and early high school math for non math people, and is far to easy for math people. I know some professors use it as a general IQ test when admitting students.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 10:18 AM
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I see graphs where the X-axis is categorical and the data points are connected by lines constantly. They are absolutely, 100% standard in my field

Up until this point in the thread, I thought this was all evidence that Tweety's brain is wired weird. Now I learn that everyone in Tweety's field has the same weird brain. This explains a lot.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 10:59 AM
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Also, if you made the x-axis time, and then had each data series represent a different category of charitable giving, you could totally see the bump in disaster relief giving in November 1989.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:03 AM
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53

Prove it! Show all the same data on one chart with time on the x axis.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:05 AM
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53 is right. That was what I thought of originally, but look at the left column of the legend. It's consecutive multi-year blocks of time, which wouldn't overlap.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:14 AM
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I had a hard time with it because of the view of the paper. I gave up pretty quickly.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:16 AM
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The way I think I'd make this chart would be to have $ on the y-axis, and time on the x-axis and each cause a different color or shape (which means you can either have connected dots or bars without looking odd) with an inset expansion of the Fall 1989 data using the same axes, scaled down. It depends whether you'd call the expanded section "the same chart" whether this is an elegant solution.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:19 AM
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Since there hasn't been much of a paper shortage in quite some time, what on earth is the value of trying to compress this information onto one graph as opposed to just making more than one chart? This is the kind of visual display of information I'd pray some opposing side's expert would put together.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:26 AM
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Journals limit the number of charts regardless of the price of paper and the percentage that just reads the articles on line.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:29 AM
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Ah. So it's another in the series "stupid and pointless things about academia that are obviously stupid and pointless but everyone is too conservative and disorganized to change." And of course the GRE itself falls in that category.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:33 AM
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56 is exactly the solution I was going to suggest.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:38 AM
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I don't knoow about pointless. I don't want to read what most people in academics would write if there was not a space constraint.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:40 AM
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62

Presumably there's some kind of reasonable midpoint between no length constraints at all and whatever made the makers of that chart think that they were effectively communicating information.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 11:43 AM
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63

This seems pretty persuasive on why the GRE sucks it and should be eliminated.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 12:05 PM
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64

The GRE free practice tests put out by testing companies are rackets, since they are far harder than the actual GRE, and hope to scare you into paying for test prep.

That's ... entertainingly brazen.

(I did well on the GRE, with no special practice, but no amount of diligence would have let you use my test papers to say what I'd do well and badly in grad school.)


Posted by: joyslinger | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 12:07 PM
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As Sifu has demonstrated in this thread, the real point is that lousy, clunky charts are standard practice in academia so if you are going to grad school to be an academic you should be able to read lousy charts. Or something like that. Kind of like how the LSAT logic section tests your ability to follow the bizarre contortions lawyers engage in to justify their clients getting money.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 12:34 PM
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66

I make really shitty tables, not charts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 12:45 PM
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67

We usually have nice charts because nobody lets me make them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 12:59 PM
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That is a terrible, terrible chart. Among other things because the title implies that it IS a chronological representation (two dates separated by a dash like that).

This is not at ALL how I teach my interns to represent data. If it's genuinely representative of academia, that's pretty shameful IMO.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 1:30 PM
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I had a pretty brutal couple of weeks prepping for the AP Physics C exam from a prep book before I got to the exam and discovered it was way way easier than the practice book, and they didn't really expect me to be doing lots of Stoke's theorem stuff.

Princeton Review always had accurate fair versions of tests.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 1:47 PM
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70

We demand better representation!


Posted by: Opinionated Data | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 1:58 PM
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71

Seems like a perfectly reasonable way to graph things for mushy non-quantitative fields of academia.
I don't even remember what I got on the GREs even though they were the most recent (and last) standardized test I took. I do remember that my score on the subject area sucked because they had questions from fields in which most colleges don't actually offer classes any more.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 3:49 PM
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I'm on team horrible chart, but decontextualized, horribly presented data in standardized tests is a cliché. See also every reading comprehension essay on every standardized test ever. Being able to handle badly formatted data is a valuable life skill.

However, I did like the fake maps in whatever was the yearly test in elementary school. IOWA, maybe?

If I recall correctly, when I took the GRE (standard, not subject-specific) math test, some absurd portion (maybe 10-20%?) of the questions were answerable solely by knowing that for finite sets A and B, |A union B| + |A intersect B| = |A| + |B|.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 4:14 PM
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73

I have no idea what that means! Time to turn to my new friend, Khan academy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 4:49 PM
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And now I do understand it. Thank you,
Khan Academy. If only the Bills had covered the fucking score.


Posted by: Robert Halfordd | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 5:02 PM
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75

I don't know what the Khan Academy is, so I'm going to assume you're looking at Ricardo Montalban's bare-between-the-nipples chest.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 5:21 PM
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76

Typical homophobic, hispanophobic comment from MH. What else can we expect. What else?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 5:33 PM
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77

If it must be one chart, have time on the x-axis with two different scales.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 5:33 PM
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76: A bad pun? I just forgot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 5:39 PM
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77: but that doesn't work, as ydnew notes, because the time points on the larger scale are non-overlapping. People keep treating this as a chart about a time series, but it's not. It's a chart about discrete events of variable (but categorizable) duration.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:07 PM
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That's a good argument for not connecting the points with lines.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:09 PM
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The lines link data points from the same event. It's just like an interaction plot, but with more dimensions.

You people are all so weird, I swear.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:15 PM
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82

Maybe if you wrote in on a Star Trek villain's chest?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:20 PM
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83

Moby, how far is it from State College to Pittsburgh? Would it be possible for someone to commute between the two? If, say, someone only had to be in the office two days/week? Is there any public transportation that travels between the two?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:24 PM
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84

Good lord don't do it, man.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:26 PM
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85

as ydnew notes is overly generous given that you've been making the same point. For longer. I feel like there is a joke about people not connecting the dots here somewhere.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:26 PM
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86

That sounds bad. The part where you would live in Pittsburgh sounds great though!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:26 PM
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87

84: why? I mean, I probably agree, but I'm curious why you're so sure.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:27 PM
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Moby, how far is it from State College to Pittsburgh? Would it be possible for someone to commute between the two?

140 miles, and no. As someone associated with both Pitt and Penn State for years, I have never heard of such a thing happening. You could be in one place during the week, and another on the weekend, of course.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:28 PM
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The part where you would live in Pittsburgh sounds great though!

As you know, it would be the realization of a dream. A weird dream, maybe, but a dream nevertheless. Also, let's pretend that we're not talking about me, because it's not impossible that I shouldn't be talking about this at all. Plus, I'm in Oklahoma at the moment, so, you know, they're watching me.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:29 PM
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Yes, they are.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:29 PM
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88: okay. Well, that's that, then. Unless the person who isn't me wants to live in State College, I suppose, which some people think is a nice place, right?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:30 PM
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87: well, everything I've heard about State College makes me think that people over the age of 24 should try to spend as little time there as possible. Google maps says that the commute from Pittsburgh is about two and a half hours. So that's ten hours a week of commuting time to spend two days a week in a crappy place that sucks and three days a week not interacting with colleagues or engaging with anybody else at the school. Sounds crappy to me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:31 PM
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State College is well over two hours from Pittsburgh. I've never been there myself, but I hear it's nice. Everybody always seems to drive it, but Megabus does multiple runs there. There's also Amtrak, but that's almost certainly too slow.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:31 PM
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As far as public transportation, there's no trains. Greyhound reports that they have two buses a day and the ride takes 5 hours. I have no conception of what a "Chinatown Bus" is or what the companies are that provide such services since they did not exist in Pittsburgh in 2010, though they appear to now.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:32 PM
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I took so long because I hadn't the slightest clue where State College was.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:32 PM
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94: Apparently Megabus runs four times a day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:33 PM
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There's also Amtrak, but that's almost certainly too slow.

And "Amtrak" would mean "Amtrak to Tyrone, PA", which itself is about 30 miles from State College, albeit on the world's smallest interstate.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:34 PM
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Yeah, this is a shit idea, I guess. Oh well. It's a really sweet job, but I think my longstanding dream of living in Pittsburgh fooled me into thinking that it wouldn't be a horrible, horrible commute.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:35 PM
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If you like living in semi-secluded, scenic mountains, you could find something by Johnstown and cut the commute a bit. Even the eastern suburbs would take off a half hour.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:35 PM
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98: Dream big, I guess.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:36 PM
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96: does Megabus have wifi? Regardless, would I hate it? Wait, don't answer that. I would hate it, yes.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:37 PM
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102

State College can't be that bad or else why would they call it Happy Valley?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:38 PM
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What a stupid idea. Okay, sorry for having interrupted.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:39 PM
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Megabus is also to be avoided by people over 24, especially if it connects two college towns. Or maybe at the latest 40, if you're brave. On the plus side, one time on Megabus I got to watch the best Norwegian Nazi zombie movie ever made, Død Snø (Dead Snow), on the laptop of the guy sitting in front of me.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:40 PM
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102: it's supposed to be really nice, actually, for many of the same reasons that where we live is supposed to be nice: small-town values (whatever the fuck that means), small-town safety, very kid friendly [if your child rape joke lived here, you'd be home right now], pretty surroundings. But where we live is a bit more than an hour from San Francisco, a bit more than an hour from skiing in the Sierras, a bit more than an hour from Pacific beaches, etc. Meanwhile, Happy Valley is 2.5 hours from Pittsburgh, 3 hours from Cleveland, 3 hours from Philly, and 4 hours from NYC. Hmm, maybe I'll get in touch with B/erub/e.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:43 PM
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I am driving from Norman to Tulsa in the morning. My larger-than-life life: let me show you it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:47 PM
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Also, let's pretend that we're not talking about me

Of course, I meant "The part where one would live in Pittsburgh."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:49 PM
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if your child rape joke lived here, you'd be home right now

Does Cafe Press still exist? And you didn't trademark that or anything, did you?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 6:50 PM
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I think it's more than four hours from NYC. Buck's college roommates are a Penn State faculty couple with four kids, and they seem to like it fine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:05 PM
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Truly, living in Johnstown PA is the best of all Possible solutions. Have you seen Slapshot? It's like that. You won't regret it at all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:07 PM
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Altoona: home of the commuting Jewish historians.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:08 PM
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Scranton: The Answer.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:09 PM
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What the fuck was the question?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:12 PM
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109: google maps says 3h 49m.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:15 PM
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Altoona has a 5 Guys now, Halford. You'd like it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:19 PM
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There's a Five Guys in suburban Pittsburgh. It's right near a WalMart. Maybe 1:45 from State College.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:22 PM
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State College is truly in the middle of nowhere. Even to get to Harrisburg takes an hour and a half!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:23 PM
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Also, it's closer to Baltimore than it is to Philadelphia.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:24 PM
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Holy shit Wafer, under no circumstances should you consider a job in State College. I can't think of a worse idea, actually. Based on what I've heard in the past few years, the university has improved dramatically from an academic perspective since I was there, but the town's got fuck-all going for it and you are fucking stranded in the middle of nowhere. Maybe you could make it to Pittsburgh in 2.5 hours in nice weather, but what about the other 9 months of the year?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:29 PM
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120: helpful! That would help explain why the job is so sweet, I guess.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:31 PM
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I can't think of a worse idea, actually.

Taking a job at Indiana University of PA?

Also, Pittsburgh has the nicest weather of anywhere I've lived. That may be a backhanded compliment, but certainly there aren't nine months when the weather makes a noticeable impact on driving.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:35 PM
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121: Also the food sucks.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:37 PM
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State College has the best high school in Pennsylvania, at least in terms of their high school quiz bowl team winning every match it ever plays by a score of 590-15. Although your current location must be pretty similar in terms of having a student body that is 90% the children of professors.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:37 PM
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Children of profs, grad students, massage therapists, or migrant laborers, yes.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:40 PM
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Maybe you could make it to Pittsburgh in 2.5 hours in nice weather, but what about the other 9 months of the year?

OH NOW. Don't be that California dickhead, or I'll have to cut you.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:41 PM
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Anyway, I already have a job, and it would be greedy for me ever to consider switching to another job, even an endowed chair for which I'm being recruited and for which junior scholars would never be considered, because people should never switch jobs, ever, because if they do capitalism and the terrorists win. So let's stop talking about this, because the terms of my indenture forbid these sorts of discussion.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:45 PM
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Plus, I should go read this dissertation chapter and then go to sleep, because I have to drive across part of Oklahoma tomorrow, for that is the manner of my rolling.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:46 PM
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Also, don't forget that all highways in Pennsylvania are always under construction, which absolutely has nothing to do with the major road contracting company owner being the brother of the head of the state senate transportation committee.*

* information valid as of mid-1990s


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:46 PM
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126: Mostly it's bad, bad memories of depressing bus rides between State College and Pittsburgh. I admit I may be suffering from reverse nostalgia, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:49 PM
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Honestly, I have been in PA all my life, I would like an academic career and still the thought of living in State College is a bit dreadful. Hard to overstate how superior, for example, Bloomington, Indiana or Ann Arbor is. State College is probably more on a level with Normal, Illinois. I don't know quite why that is true, but it is.

On the other hand, I'd want to live in Oklahoma even less.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 7:57 PM
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129: At least they weren't taking bribes to fill a private juvenile prison back then.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:03 PM
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I have a friend who's working in Oklahoma for a year and seems to be living it up. On the other hand, maybe it's the kind of place where a year is fun but an endless horizon unto death is maybe not for everyone.

Wafer, how can you even be thinking of moving east of the state line? Perhaps I've got the zeal of a convert of two whole weeks, but California seems as close to paradise as the Lord will ever allow to most of us sinners.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:08 PM
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California seems as close to paradise as the Lord will ever allow to most of us sinners

It is. But I and my wife have aging parents who live back east. Not to mention, my kids' classes are overcrowded enough that it's a bit worrying. Also, the future of the UC is meh. Plus, the terms of the job in question are so good that I noticed. Still, yeah, it's great in CA, and we'll probably never leave.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:18 PM
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Unless we can go to Pittsburgh, of course.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:18 PM
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It took me years of living here before I stopped trying to figure a way to move.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:28 PM
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Yeah, state government and particularly the education system seem pretty fucked in this state. One wonders whether it can get much worse before people realize that it's worth paying taxes for social goods, but I guess we'll see how bad it can get. And yeah, the family thing. For me, moving west is actually moving closer to family, but Smearcase is getting farther away from his, which sucks.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:46 PM
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I'm despondent a lot of times about state government in California, but it is literally fucking insane to think that the Pennsylvania public university system either is or will be better than California's, or that (admitting we have plenty of problems) Pennsylvania state law and especially state bureaucracies are superior to California's.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:53 PM
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The Pennsylvania public university system basically consists of Temple and a bunch of glorified teachers' colleges like Kutztown and the aforementioned I.U.P. Penn State and Pitt are down to something like 5% of their budget coming from the state.

And as for state bureaucracies, Corbett has been working as fast as he can to undermine and sabotage them. I think our trajectories are more parallel than intersecting.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:59 PM
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138: fortunately, I don't think any of those things. What I do think is that if we moved to PA, we'd be closer to family, our kids would go to school in much less crowded classrooms, I wouldn't have a front-row seat for the decline of an institution that I love (it's pretty dispiriting to watch, you know), and I'd be paid giant piles* of money to do a job that I'd likely enjoy as much there as I do here.

* Not really. But it would be much more money than I make now for doing a lot more work.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 8:59 PM
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Oh, those are all totally good reasons to change jobs, of course, and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I was just reacting to the implication in 137 that somehow the inherent inferiority of CA state government and education vs PA justified moving in itself, which is nuts.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:23 PM
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I was just reacting to the implication in 137 that somehow the inherent inferiority of CA state government and education vs PA justified moving in itself, which is nuts.

Note that 137 was written by a guy who just moved to California, and was in fact talking about how great it is just a few comments earlier, so while that implication may be there, the context diminishes its importance.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:27 PM
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OT: Dinner tonight planned for last night but oh well, came out great: Wild striped bass dusted with cornmeal and cooked in butter, sprinkled with lemon. Asparugus risotto cooked in chicken broth mixed/diluted with asparagus water with thyme added from the start for that deeper flavor rather than sharp thyme taste and with a few drops of lemon juice added after the cooking, just enough to brighten the flavors without adding detectable acidity or mussing up the richness. Eggplant thin sliced, salted, par-charred and then lightly dipped in egg and fried, mixed up with a little bit of raw fine diced tomato, meat only. Accompanied by a cheap Greek white that while nothing special on its own somehow melded perfectly with the food. I love nice food. So fun when all that effort comes together well. Oh, and can we make it a felony to give those silly short cooking times for risotto?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:34 PM
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I thought "brightening flavors" was detectable acidity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:40 PM
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I have no conception of what a "Chinatown Bus" is

It's bus companies run out of Chinatowns in the NE. They used to be scary dangerous and low amenities, then they improved greatly became popular, and were cracked down on because they were still pretty dangerous. They're also a dirt cheap form of intercity transport, though not as cheap as they used to be.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:41 PM
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In Davis you have the Sierra not so far away, in State College it's the Alleghenies. In State College you've got Pittsburgh just too far away, in Davis it's San Francisco. But you'd be a lot closer t Fresh Salt.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:43 PM
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142 -- OK. I'm actually also capable of reading myself.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:43 PM
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We made fish tacos the other night and they tasted great. But I ate too much of the cabbage topping stuff and regretted it for a bit this morning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:44 PM
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147: Fair enough. Sorry.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:47 PM
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Or maybe that was the avocado. Nobody else here will eat it and I didn't want to waste any.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:50 PM
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You don't buy avocado. You just rent it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 9:53 PM
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I should do that thing where you suspend the pit half in water until it sprouts. Then you can plant the sprout to teach your kid about how avocado doesn't grow in Pennsylvania.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-13 10:12 PM
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Congrats on the nice job offer, hypothetical person VW is discussing. Now, shouldn't said hypothetical person use it as a bargaining chip to get more perks at said person's current job, and not move?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 2:25 AM
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Also, in the early part of the thread, Sifu and anyone else who thinks this plot isn't bad is wrong. I'm too lazy to read all the comments, but showing such very different intervals of time on the same plot is just asking for people to misread this. Plus, the vertical scale is really weird, even allowing for how they want to show two different ranges on the same plot.

Connecting the points with lines seems totally fine to me, FWIW.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 2:28 AM
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36 And why is there a math section for non-math-doing disciplines, and vice versa?

A verbal section for disciplines that don't use words?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 2:31 AM
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71 I do remember that my score on the subject area sucked because they had questions from fields in which most colleges don't actually offer classes any more.

There's no excuse for not knowing at least a little phrenology.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 2:35 AM
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Poor phrenology. Such a clever intuition with such terrible, terrible follow-through.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 6:29 AM
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Which section of the brain is responsible for terrible follow-through?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 6:34 AM
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Coming late to the thread, but put me down for team "that chart is surreally awful".


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 6:44 AM
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That chart killed Laura Palmer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:19 AM
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That chart makes clocks drip and slide off tables.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:31 AM
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That chart is actually Keyser Söze.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:38 AM
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That chart was in the house when the house burned down.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:40 AM
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That chart can reach in your chest, pull out and show you your still-beating heart, right before the curtain falls on your consciousness.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:41 AM
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Excitable chart they all said.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:41 AM
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That chart is D.B. Cooper.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:46 AM
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That chart is D.B. Cooper's decomposed remains entangled with the remains of his parachute.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:50 AM
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I used to live next door to that chart. It always seemed like a perfectly normal chart to me. Never gave off any warning signs. I mean, I can't imagine why it would do something like this. It just doesn't make any sense.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:53 AM
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What did that chart say when it opened the refrigerator door?

Alright, who's been putting their fingers in the Jell-O?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:56 AM
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I know exactly how that chart got in my pajamas.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:57 AM
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For god's sake, you all have exactly ONE WEEK to show someone else that chart. You have to believe me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 8:01 AM
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When that chart dies, it begins to disintegrate, which is pretty much what you expect from a corpse. But then something strange happens. A number of cells escape the rotting body. These cells somehow find each other, and reaggregate to form a polyp.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 8:05 AM
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A polyp in your pants.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 8:13 AM
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Unfortunately, that chart is also the doctor that you went to, to take a look at the polyp in your pants.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 8:16 AM
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If the set of sets that contains your polyp includes your pants but doesn't include your abdominal cavity, something is really distended.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 8:23 AM
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The chart clearly needs to be a clustered bar chart, with a different shaded/patterned bars to represent each time block. Its wrong to use a line graph in a case like this, because a line between two values indicates that intermittent values on the graph can be interpolated. But there is no way to interpolate non-quantitative values, like "disaster relief" and "homeless aid."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 8:36 AM
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||

The post-war German system, with its combination of parliamentary democracy, proportional representation, and a five percent hurdle to enter parliament, is pretty much my ideal constitutional framework. And yet I must acknowledge that it can lead to perverse outcomes, like the German election yesterday. The ruling center right party gets its best electoral result in a generation, but now has to disband the government it prefers and form a coalition with one of the parties of the left. Weird.

|>


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 9:36 AM
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177 -- The center Left party has one of its worst outcomes in the post war era, and sticks to its guns on not forming a coalition with the actual Left (and the Greens). Not a model, my friends.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 9:49 AM
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176 is a good idea for the chart, but is wrong about lines always meaning you can interpolate; lines can also (indeed, often do) represent slope, as an easy way to see relative difference.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 9:58 AM
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Sometimes a line represents someone who is doggedly defending an indefensible chart.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:02 AM
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A relative difference is not always a slope, as in this case, since delta y/delta x means nothing when delta x is not a number.
It would be entertaining to guess what the interpolated values are on a categorical chart, though- between "disaster relief" and "homeless aid" is "FEMA trailers"?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:05 AM
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You can't have a slope where the x values are qualitative concepts.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:05 AM
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Pwned by 181


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:05 AM
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177 They don't really have a viable majority this time. Between a disgruntled SPD right and the left wing of Die Linke, 319 out of 630 isn't enough to form a stable government.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:07 AM
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181: just hold delta X to be a fixed amount and hey it's meaningful again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:13 AM
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Is this the beginning of the end for the FDP as a significant party?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:15 AM
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That chart stabbed that guy at Altamont.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:16 AM
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178: I kind of admire their obstinacy there, TBH, though I'm of two minds about whether it's tenable long term.

Also, the SPD isn't the only obstacle to a strategy of pas d'ennemis à gauche. The eastern wing of the Greens (Bündnis 90) is descended from DDR-era dissidents and harbors a deep distrust of the PDS.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:18 AM
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184 -- Right. On the other hand, from an SPD perspective, junior partner to A. Merkel isn't a very attractive option. There's more to life than stability.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:20 AM
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Not meaningful! You can switch the categories however you like (your preferred method described above was to order them so that the trend went in a certain direction) but if you can reorder them arbitrarily how can your fixed delta X between two adjacent categories suddenly become 2delta X or 4delta X if you decide to change the order of the categories?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:21 AM
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Is this the beginning of the end for the FDP as a significant party?

I doubt it. Their social basis in the professions and the managerial class is secure (in more than one sense of the word). They've bounced back from being ejected from state parliaments many times. Also, Merkel won't make the same mistake twice of telling CDU voters "we have no votes to spare", i.e. discouraging them from splitting their "second votes" with the FDP.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:22 AM
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186 -- In my wife's Wahlkries, the pirates beat the FDP.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:25 AM
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On the other hand, from an SPD perspective, junior partner to A. Merkel isn't a very attractive option.

IMO, the best option for the SPD at this point is to tolerate a minority all-CDU/CSU government. But Merkel has already said she won't accept that, so I don't know how realistic it is. Alternatively, a Black-Green coalition would probably be helpful for the SPD long-term, which is probably one reason Merkel doesn't want one.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:26 AM
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190: you can only make a line between adjacent categories. If you want to compare slopes, the lines have to connect the exact same two categories.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:27 AM
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181: just hold delta X to be a fixed amount and hey it's meaningful again.

Thereby essentially just comparing delta Y! Which can be done by...just looking at the y-axis.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:28 AM
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Ah, but you can in theory connect any two categories that you want to compare. Since you can't put them all next to each other on a 2D chart what you really want is a hyperplane where all categories are adjacent to each other in their own connecting dimension. They should draw that on the GRE.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:29 AM
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Sifu is explaining that the categories have been carefully ordereded according to the most note-worthy adjacencies.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:30 AM
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Or, you know, just use a fucking bar graph since you can compare any two bars pretty easily.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:30 AM
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It's actually a graph conceived in 3D with string art, displaying all pair-wise adjacencies, which has then been projected onto a wall which happened to be the same color as a lot of the strings.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:31 AM
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I'm coming around to Sifu's argument, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:32 AM
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Haha, just kidding. He's battier than a belfry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:33 AM
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Holding delta X to a fixed amount would imply that the qualitative differences between "Animal Rights" and "Disaster Relief" is equivalent to the difference between "Child Safety" and "Other."

Seriously, this is why bar graphs exist.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:35 AM
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196: in fact the infovis people who are really into parallel coordinates plots prefer them to be interactive, so you can reorder the categories.

195: true, although it's easier to see subtle differences in slope than subtle differences in differences in height.

197: something like that, yes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:48 AM
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Topical: Rap lyrics likening Angela Merkel to an ugly, fat jellyfish.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:55 AM
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Merkel dodged a bullet with the narrow failure of the AfD to get into the Bundestag. That's one very strange and incoherent party. E.g. a policy to massively reduce income taxes on upper income families by dividing the income by household size in a revenue neutral fashion through large tax hikes on upper incomes singles and childless couples and measures to the same effect on payroll taxes. Or their policy to reorient German foreign policy around a German-Russian axis. Or to pull out of the Euro, end all the bailout packages, call in the loans and make sure the Germans don't take any losses on the loans. Presumably the loans would be repaid in ponies.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 10:57 AM
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I for one want to applaud Sifu's efforts in this thread. This is what commenting should be. And I did learn something!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 11:04 AM
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I mean, obviously the chart is terrible and needlessly confusing. But figuring out why it's terrible is interesting and counsel for the defense did an excellent job. The adversarial system at work.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 11:07 AM
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I learned that infovis people aren't to be trusted.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 11:07 AM
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That is one stupid chart.

OT restaurant bleg:

Who's got Las Vegas restaurant recommendations? I could give a damn about celebrity chefs, etc. I'm just looking for decent meals that aren't outrageously expensive.

I'll be staying at New York New York, but my experience is that the reasonable places are either off the Strip or on the north end.

Hook a sister up, yo.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 11:14 AM
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There's a very famous Thai restaurant in a strip mall that is, in fact, extremely good . . .[googles] here you go.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 11:23 AM
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210: Put it in a chart.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 11:30 AM
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210: Thank you! I was there years ago, but couldn't remember the name.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 11:34 AM
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lw


Posted by: I have had good meals in Taos and also San Diego. Kind of far. | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:06 PM
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Small Midwestern Towns with Large State Universities - A Definitive Ranking:

Madison, WI
Ann Arbor, MI
State College, PA
East Lansing, MI
Bloomington, IN
Iowa City, IA
Champaign, IL
Ames, IA


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:10 PM
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If only were weren't limited to 55 character pseuds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:10 PM
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I've never been to State College, but assuming that it sucks that list seems way off. Bloomington and Iowa City, at least, are both very very nice classic college towns.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:12 PM
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Madison and Ann Arbor are more small cities than towns. They're way bigger than most of those places.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:13 PM
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Vegas eating: I went to this restaurant many times in 1998 and found their spanakopita totally amazing -- I think it had cinnamon on top. No idea if the place is still good, but it's still open.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:14 PM
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I haven't been, but Madison is by all accounts clearly a cut ahead of all the others. It's not really fair to put it in the same league as the others.

I haven't been to many of them, but my impression is that State College and East Lansing are both way too high. Of course, I have a horse in this race, so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:17 PM
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Presumably the loans would be repaid in ponies.

Jellyfish, actually.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:18 PM
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And you could work in Ames and live in Des Moines if you wanted cosmopolitan surroundings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:18 PM
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I wonder if State College is a nicer place to live now that the football mania has (probably, one would hope) abated a bit. Buck and I went to a game a few years ago, and the way it took over the whole town was creepy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:20 PM
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OT: Not trying to read that on an iPhone made it much easier. The y axis is still screwy.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:23 PM
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222: The things I hated about it had little to do with football (in fact, I kinda liked football weekends). And based on what my friend who moved away from there a couple of years ago has said, none of them have changed.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:24 PM
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Champaign-Urbana never seems to come up as a nice college town, for some reason. I've never been there so I have no idea why that is, but it seems weird given the size of that university.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:25 PM
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Madison is more comparable to Austin.

The moral is that states should put their university and capital in the same random town. If Penn State were in Harrisburg it would be a great city!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:25 PM
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I've been to Champaign-Urbana and it seemed perfectly reasonable to me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:27 PM
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West Lafayette should be somewhere (towards the bottom) on that list.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:27 PM
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My theory on Champaign-Urbana (which I haven't been to, but have the impression is kinda crappy), is that it's too close to Chicago so no one is there on weekends.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:28 PM
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1) Madison, WI
2) Ann Arbor, MI
3) Iowa City, IA
3) Bloomington, IN
5) Columbus, OH
5) Lincoln, NB
7) State College, PA
8) Champaign, IL
9) East Lansing, MI
9) Ames, IA

I added a couple to make an even ten.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:29 PM
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There's no way in hell Chambana should be below State College in that ranking. 2 hours from Chambana gets you to Chicago; 2 hours from State College gets you to... Harrisburg. (Also Champaign-Urbana is 5x the size of State College.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:30 PM
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228

Agreed. West Lafayette should be somewhere below Iowa City.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:31 PM
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Lincoln, NB

You're older than I thought you were, VW.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:32 PM
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Among other things, State College has more than three good restaurants. Champaign/Urbana has three good restaurants if you count the Olive Garden.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:33 PM
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I would probably put Lawrence, KS above Columbus and Lincoln, but that might be an eclectic decision. Also, if we were to travel as far south as Austin, it would pretty clearly be #1 -- this despite my deep affection for Madison. Well, maybe they'd be tied. That said, all of the other Texas college towns would be at the very bottom of the list, looking way up at the garden spots of Ames and East Lansing. Norman, OK would also be near the bottom. Manhattan, KS wouldn't even merit a mention, as god intended. As for Columbia, MO, I'm not sure what to say. Not much, I guess.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:34 PM
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College Station, TX, did really and truly seem to suck it, also the campus was bizarrely oversized and Stalinist-feeling. This was all based on a two day visit, but still.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:35 PM
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I left off Columbus, because 1 million people is not a small town, but the approximate ranking is not far off.

But I really don't get your ranking for Lincoln. Everything bad you can say about State College goes double for Lincoln.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:35 PM
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231: yes, I am. Also, people -- right thinking people -- like living in State College. Nobody likes living in Urbana-Champaign.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:35 PM
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Ignoring for a moment the massively questionable judgement* of VW asking his question in this venue, a couple of points:

1) The Pgh-SC drive has improved noticeably over the past 10 years due to a significant increase in the % of it that is limited access highway. However, it remains just north of 2:15 (for me--I may have hit 2:10 once with greater law-breaking) and either involves an infuriatingly long strip of be-lighted intersections coming in to the eastern Pgh suburbs on US 22 or a less-encumbered, but significantly longer distance via 422 and 28.

2) I did know of someone who did do a Pgh/SC thing, but handled it more like a consulting road warrior with M-Th in State College and Fri-Sun at home in Pittsburgh. And I forget the details, but it was not a standard academic gig.

*Surprising given that he is a tenured professor, albeit one who has found a way to have a closet for an office.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:37 PM
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Wow, I totally forgot West Lafayette. I would have thought Gene Keady's combover would have left more of an impression. Regardless, it would be very near the bottom, though still above all of the Texas college towns -- assuming we think Waco is a college town, which it mostly is.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:37 PM
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Ah, don't think that 239 isn't freaking me the fuck out! Especially because it's unsigned!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:38 PM
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237.2: No it doesn't. Lincoln has five times the population of State College and the state government. Plus the headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventists, if that's your thing. And it's only an hour from Omaha.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:38 PM
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It's this part

a closet for an office

that's particularly freaky! Because I presume that the commenter is talking about my brand-new office!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:40 PM
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241 was me. Somehow "Remember personal info" has ceased to function on this computer for the time being.

As to 238, MB can give you a very specific perspective perspective on that there comparison.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:41 PM
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243: Yes. THE ONE YOU MENTIONED ON THIS BLOG


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:42 PM
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241 was me.

Why did you post as Von Wafer? Why did 239 freak you out? And who posted 239? The mysteries deepen!!!!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:43 PM
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And Lincoln has way more than three good restaurants even if you don't count the Olive Garden.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:43 PM
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Plus the National Roller Skating Museum and a zoo with a train that goes around it and a very complete set of bike trails.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:44 PM
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Yes, right. 239.


Posted by: JP STORMCROW | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:45 PM
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What VW should do is post in a new thread, on another site, under his real name, with a long series of posts praising State College, getting affirmation from others about how great it is, etc. That way he can go to the UC-Alfalfa Farmer administration, and when he says "hey check it out job offer at PSU how about some more dinero for my historical efforts" and they are all like "[wanking motion with hand] for sure nobody is leaving us for motherfucking State College so take your pittance and like it" they can then do a google and be like "holy shit the Dutch Cookie is just crazy enough to leave, let's toss him some cash and a sweet parking space."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:46 PM
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Bloomington, IN, is a really lovely place.

Madison is more comparable to Austin.

The core of Austin has a similar feel culturally, but I would not go that far. The populations of their respective Metro Areas differ by a factor of three. Austin is closer to Columbus, OH.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:47 PM
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251.last: Right, MadisonAustin in play up until about 1980 or so


Posted by: jp stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:49 PM
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State College has more than three good restaurants.

I refuse to believe this.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:50 PM
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Plus, the most phallic state capitol building possible without actually erecting a giant dildo.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:50 PM
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College Station, TX, did really and truly seem to suck it, also the campus was bizarrely oversized and Stalinist-feeling.

Do you all know that the night before home games, 50,000 people crowd into the stadium in order to practice cheers for the next day? The enthusiasm at that school is completely insane.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:50 PM
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I survived a few years in Lincoln. There's a reasonable selection of good restaurants*, and it's a pretty decent size overall.

Definitely beats College Station** or State College. Based on my one visit there for a few days, it might even beat Champaign-Urbana.

Not where I would choose to settle, but you could do worse.

* I still miss the fantastic affordable steaks.

** I've never been there myself, but everyone one I know who has visited College Station just viscerally disliked the place.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:53 PM
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LB, the football-mania in State College has never really been excessive. It's merely the deification of the current coach, rather than the deification of Big Coach X who died 30 years ago, that was unusual.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:54 PM
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253

Not a lot more than three, but more than three.

only an hour from Omaha

Not really doing it for me. I'd be willing to drive 2 hours to get to Chicago. Driving 1 hour to get to Omaha (or Des Moines) is totally not worth the time. I'd rather drive 4 hours to get to NYC.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:55 PM
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255: Similarly, during a Cowboys home game, the stadium apparently uses more power than Liberia. Folks can google up the article if they care (I did ont really check the math/assumptions).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:55 PM
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258: By that rule, Scranton would be the nicest place in Pennsylvania.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:57 PM
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Not really doing it for me. I'd be willing to drive 2 hours to get to Chicago. Driving 1 hour to get to Omaha (or Des Moines) is totally not worth the time. I'd rather drive 4 hours to get to NYC.

I'd rather sit still. And when I got tired of that I could take a walk. What's with the Cult of Big Cities here?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 12:58 PM
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Similarly, during a Cowboys home game, the stadium apparently uses more power than Liberia.

During a Cornhusker's game, the stadium is equivalent to the third largest city in Nebraska.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:00 PM
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I hope VW has by now come to appreciate the wisdom of my rather harsh words in 239.1.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:00 PM
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262: Otherwise, it barely cracks the top ten.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:02 PM
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258.1: Name names.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:02 PM
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262

Same for Penn State/PA


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:03 PM
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This is based on a comparison of where they took me when I interviewed at both places. I couldn't tell you names if you electrocuted me.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:05 PM
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266: Allentown is now bigger (118k vs 106k).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:07 PM
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258 When I lived in Koblenz I'd sometimes take the train to Frankfurt. Not a great city, but a city. Walk around for a few hours and stave off some of the depressed stir craziness for a bit.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:07 PM
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State College PA, Olive Garden comes in at #17. For Urbana-Champaign, Bucca di Beppo comes in around the 60s. Otherwise I guess they look broadly the same, maybe U-C looks a bit better. This may not be the greatest of research methods.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:09 PM
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The only place I went to worse restaurants than Champaign was Ames. So there's that.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:11 PM
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Whoops, this is the U-C link. It looks like U-C might actually have decent Mexican food, which I guess makes sense given proximity to Chicago.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:12 PM
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262 / 266: When filled to capacity, the West Virginia football stadium has more people than any city in the state (not true if you count the whole Charleston metro area, though).


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:20 PM
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You know where I cannot fucking imagine living? Hanover, NH. I guess all the professors buy farms an hour away and just embrace rurality, but damn, talk about a town with nothing to offer [ people who are not currently-vomiting Dartmouth undergrads ].


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:21 PM
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219 I haven't been, but Madison is by all accounts clearly a cut ahead of all the others. It's not really fair to put it in the same league as the others.

That kind of surprises me. I guess this is part of why so many people are so firmly convinced I'm an idiot.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:24 PM
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people who are not currently-vomiting Dartmouth undergrads

There are lots of bulimic cannibals in Hanover? I guess I wouldn't want to live their either.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:25 PM
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275.last: Only part, of course.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:26 PM
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274: There was a Benihana's somewhere nearby.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:27 PM
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276 stayed anonymous because they're embarrassed they don't know how hyphens work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:39 PM
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279: I have no shame! How dare you accuse me of having shame?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:43 PM
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I was going to wait to read and participate in this thread until I understood the chart, but I've given up. It's too much like work.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 1:48 PM
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Madison is more comparable to Austin.
The moral is that states should put their university and capital in the same random town.

In the Quibbling on Unimportant Aspects of an Assertion Dep't, Austin is a rather more random choice than Madison, which is the second-biggest city in Wisconsin.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 3:29 PM
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Yeah, but like ,who puts their state capital in Wisconsin? So random!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 3:35 PM
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The moral is that states should put their university and capital in the same random town.

Not if you're trying to get the support of some other important town for your bid to make your town the state capital.


Posted by: William Andrews Clark | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 3:47 PM
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283: so random.com!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 3:59 PM
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I wonder if I'd like living in an actual small town more than a small, stagnant, stale city-like urban-suburban entity.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 5:54 PM
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All this talk about charts and not one mention of boating?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:29 PM
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Listen yuppie, not everybody has a sail boat parked outside their mansion.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:52 PM
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Yeah, the sailboat is at the summer home, which is smaller than the mansion.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 7:54 PM
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The cottage, as we say in Newport.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 8:03 PM
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Alive with Favor!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-13 9:13 PM
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