alex abrahams

doing data for democrats
alexcabrahams [at] gmail [dot] com


I tend to just write about books I've read and the occasional how-to that I use to accompany my data/tech workshops. I also purge outdated posts every now and again.

  • 2019 Books

  • List of books I’ve read so far in 2019. Last updated June 11, 2019.

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  • How To Scrape Websites and Wrangle CSVs

  • This post is intended as a worksheet for the in-person workshops I do on how to scrape data from websites and wrangle it into a CSV. This kind of assumes you’re using a Mac.

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  • 2018 Books

  • List of books I read in 2018. Only read 33 this year, due to graduating college and moving into the real world. I have put in bold those which I consider to be the best books I have read this year.

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  • How To Make A Website

  • Static websites are made using the languages of HTML and CSS. If you want to make your website do stuff instead of just sitting there and looking pretty (e.g. show some new text when the user clicks a button, like ‘Submitted. Congratulations!’), you need a bit of another language called Javascript, which I will come to at the end of this session.

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  • 2017 Books

  • List of the 46 books I read in 2017. Averaged about 3 books per month. I have put in bold those which I consider to be the best books I have read this year; if they’re the first book in a series, then the bold applies to all books in that series. A lot of science fiction and fantasy this year, and a few memoirs.

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  • 2016 Books

  • Last updated this list on 31st December 2016; 36 books in about 52 weeks, averaging about two thirds of a book a week. I have read quite a bit of science fiction this year, plus the usual politics and history.

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  • 2015 Books

  • I compiled this list at the end of last year with the intention of putting it up here, and completely forgot to do so. Will do better with 2016.

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  • Review: The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

  • The Player of Games is the first fiction book recommended by Mark Zuckerberg’s Year of Books project, so I thought I’d give it a go. Sci-fi is a deceptively hard category, because it is so easy to fall into one of two traps: you either focus too much on the ‘science’ part which sets up the dystopia/future scenario to the detriment of the fundamental character development part, or you do the reverse, and almost forget to keep the ‘science’ part cohesive and you end up just annoying your readers with plot holes. This book manages to avoid both.

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  • Review: The Candidate by Samuel Popkin

  • The Candidate by Samuel Popkin (2012) is about the different types of presidential campaigns and how they should be run. Popkin is a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego and a sometime presidential campaign adviser. To my surprise, the book was not as fascinating as I was expecting; this effect is due not to its central subject matter but to the abstract way it is sometimes presented by its author. Still, Popkin’s approach to presidential campaigns is worth a discussion.

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