Monthly Archives: February 2018

Book Review – Airstream: America’s World Traveler

Thanks to Maria for the guest book review!

Airstream: America’s World Traveler
by Patrick Foster, 2016

This coffee-table-sized book is a quick read and full of pictures from the Airstream archives. I didn’t know much about Airstream before reading this book, except that I associate the travel trailer company with outdoor adventure and road trips. The book is a history of the company from its founding in the 1930s, through what happened to it in WWII (the signature aluminum was needed for airplanes – not luxury trailers), and subsequent decades to the present. The history stops about 2015. We learned a little bit about the founder, Wally Byam, and other management executives involved throughout the years, but not as much as I expected.

Although it was a fun, interesting read for me, the book could have used an editor; there are several obvious typos throughout, the parts that were most interesting to me were not elaborated on, and there is potentially inaccurate information. For instance, at one point the book casually mentions that an Airstream was used for atomic bomb testing and was undamaged aside from a broken window. This seems like it would make a good story, but one sentence is all the book gave. So I looked it up on my own and discovered that, for testing purposes, a fake mini town was built in Nevada and included an Airstream and other travel trailer brands stationed 10,500 ft from Ground Zero of the bomb; the Airstream was undamaged aside from two broken windows and a small dent in the back. So, take the book with possibly a grain of salt. The author did use current Airstream employees and the Airstream archives to write the book, so I am sure most of it is fine. It does read a little bit like a love story to the brand, with statements accompanying photos along the likes of, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”, but it was still a fun book to read and to look at the photos of Airstreams all over the world and while under construction.

Book Review – Smart Baseball

Smart Baseball: The story behind the old stats that are ruining the game, the new ones that are running it, and the right way to think about baseball
by Keith Law, 2017

The sabermetric revolution in baseball has already happened. There are no longer any holdouts among MLB front offices; by the start of 2017, all thirty organizations had established analytics departments, employing multiple people, often with Ph.D.s in computer science specialties, charged with gathering data and using them to answer questions from the GM or the coaching staff, or to look for previously undiscovered value in the market for players. If your local writer is still talking about players in terms of pitcher wins, saves, or RBI, he’s discussing the role of the homunculus in human reproduction. The battle is over, whether the losers realize it or not.

If you are familiar with wRC, FIP, and fWAR/bWAR in baseball, you probably don’t need this book. It spends a long time explaining why old stats (RBI, ERA, pitcher wins) are not as useful as previously imagined and how new stats are better. The last few chapters include interesting discussions on why certain players should be in the hall-of-fame and on the role of scouts in a modern organization.

Book Review – The Professor Is In

The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job
by Karen Kelsky, 2015

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who plans to be on the academic job market in the next 3-5 years. You’ll want to read it early in your academic career to understand the difference between “good lines” on your CV and less valuable ones. You’ll want to re-visit it before applying to understand how to craft excellent job documents and how to prep for interviews.

This book is well-written and very practical. It is from the perspective of a former department chair who now runs her own consulting business to fill in the information gap between what tenured academics know and what grad students don’t.

I would offer one warning to students in business fields: the book is written from the perspective of humanities majors. In those fields, you are often expected to be publishing books and your prospects for academic employment are terrible. Books are not valued in business fields like A-journal publications are. With that in mind, however, the book is still very useful. I will be sharing it with fellow IU Ph.D. students.

Stuff and Things 20180207

Why I won’t whitelist your site.

Thoughts on privately funded research. “And once billionaires have provided funding for the “hot areas” they find particularly promising, why should the NSF spend money on the seemingly less important areas that are left? (Projects, obviously, shouldn’t be double-funded.) And if the NSF is stuck with left-overs, how can it argue to maintain or grow its budget? Or, put another way, it’s great that individuals care enough about public goods that they are willing to contribute financially toward their funding, but if it helps others feel like it’s ok not to treat them as public goods (i.e., not to fund them through taxpayer money), then it risks creating a very short-sighted society where most people will not have the money to fund the public goods and will not care.”

Kelley MBAs in the Super Bowl.

2017-2018 NFL Betting Summary

Overall Against the Spread: 125-116
Week 2: 9-7
Week 3: 8-6
Week 4: 7-9
Week 5: 7-6
Week 6: 8-5
Week 7: 10-4
Week 8: 6-7
Week 9: 9-4
Week 10: 5-9
Week 11: 4-9
Week 12: 3-12
Week 13: 12-4
Week 14: 9-7
Week 15: 6-7
Week 16: 9-6
Week 17: 6-10
Wild Card: 2-2
Division: 2-2
Conference: 2-0
Super Bowl: 1-0

Past Years:
2016-2017 (105-133)
2015-2016 (126-111)
2014-2015 (79-63, started in Week 9)