Intro Stats Videos on YouTube

I spend a lot of my time (no, I mean a lot of my time) preparing my stats class this semester, because I reconceived it a bit, based on feedback from last semester. As part of that, I’ve been revising and rewriting lectures, and re-recording videos.

And this is to say, just in case anyone finds them useful, that I’m posting the videos I make for my class in this playlist on my YouTube channel. I am absolutely not going to win any awards for production values or performance thrills (despite the feats of animation I occasionally achieve with PowerPoint), but perhaps the way I explain things could be useful to students who have had things explained a different way–I am a big believer in the principle of explaining tricky concepts as many ways as possible.

Reproducible Research – a big Gotcha

This post by Jeff Leek nicely sums up one of my anxieties about the reproducible research movement. A snippet:

for high-profile and important problems, people  largely use reproducibility to:
1. Impose regulatory hurdles in the short term while people transition to reproducibility…
2. Humiliate people who aren’t good coders or who make mistakes in their code…

I am 100% in support of reproducible research, but I’ve been worried about this; I’m not a coder, so I worry my code will be criticizable (or, worse, mockable). What I suppose everyone is worried about is that we all have warts and scars on our data, so to speak, and we have ways we’ve dealt with these. I suspect that, if the full truth were known, most researchers would have several decisions per published analysis that don’t fit the (largely false) idealized prototype for how a research study should go. I also suspect that, in most cases, we have dealt with these issues in reasonable ways that are very similar to how others have done so. However, publishing all of our data, procedures, and analyses will leave these open to criticism based on a failure to meet that perfect, idealized method. If everyone’s flaws and responses were known, then we could start an important conversation about how to deal with the inevitable glitches in research projects; but if only a few people do it–who, almost by definition, will probably be the most conscientious researchers, as evidenced by their concern for reproducible research–then those people will become targets for absolutist sniping, personal humiliation, and professional ridicule.

Fredonia students vs. UTPA students

I’ve been teaching here at Fredonia for only a few weeks, but it certainly seems to me that the students are incredibly similar, as a whole, and in their diversity of personality, educational preparation, etc., to students I got to know in my nine years in Texas. This is hugely reassuring–I came to love the RGV student population, and had started to worry that perhaps other students would be so alien to me, after nearly a decade in Texas, that I could not work with them. I’m glad to have that fear resolved ­čÖé

Crimes I don’t even remember

I’ve recently learned that I can’t get a driver’s license in NY (though I’m required to within 30 days) because of an unpaid speeding ticket. In Charlotte, North Carolina. In late summer, 2006. While I was apparently driving a Mercedes.

  1. I wasn’t anywhere near Charlotte, North Carolina in┬á2006.
  2. I don’t have a Mercedes.
  3. I’ve never driven a Mercedes.
  4. Honestly, I don’t even think I’ve touched a Mercedes since approximately 1986 (when I washed a guy’s car). I mean, even in a parking lot, you avoid the rich cars because you figure that if you even brush against them they’ll probably damage your hearing with some hair-trigger alarm system, right?

So, yeah. I gotta get that taken care of.

Taking off… to the Great White North

Two of the three┬áreaders of this blog might find it informative (the other one already knows) that I will be leaving my beloved UTPA. I’ve accepted a job at a university in Western NY (more about that, I’m sure, later). It is┬ávery similar to UTPA in the kind of job it represents for me, the kind of teaching and research I’ll be doing, and even the background of many of the students I’ll be working with; in other words, it seems like it will be at least as satisfying to me as the last nine years at UTPA have been–as soon as I stop missing people from UTPA, that is. Because of the many similarities, the main factors pushing me toward NY were work opportunities for Alex (my wife) and closeness to her family, who are also, of course, our daughter’s grandparents/aunts/uncles/honorary family. We will be a mere 2 to 5 hours (<< 36!) from her hometown, her parents, her sister’s family, and many of her friends. We’ll be one hour (plus border delays) from her eternally-beloved Canada (technically, as I’m a dual citizen, it’s also my beloved Canada, but she probably beloves it more than I do, growing up there and all).

In the vein of assuaging guilt at abandoning students and colleagues I’ll say that this was absolutely not an easy decision to make. It will not represent any kind of clear financial or career gain for me (it’s a lateral career move), it will cost us a lot of time, hassle, and money to relocate, it will delay aspects of my research for a little while and send it in a slightly different direction, and I will miss important milestones for some students I care about. ┬áOn the other hand, the department up there seems to have all the positive characteristics I’ve come to love about the UTPA Psychology Department, and I have no doubt that I will become as involved with students and colleagues there as I have been here. I’m sure the unique characteristics I will miss from the RGV will be replaced by unique characteristics of Western New York. I’m both sad and hopeful. I’m excited for the change, despite the difficulty.

Anyway, change is hard. We all know this. I’ll be around (except the last couple of weeks of June) until August 1, more or less.