Open Thread, 3/23/2017

The reader survey now N > 300. I assume it will stabilize in the next few weeks in the 400s.

So far the biggest surprise that I’ve noticed is the ratio of married to divorced; 14o to 9. But, this aligns with research that college educated people do not get divorced at a high rate, and more than 50% of my readership has completed graduate educations, so the sample is probably even more biased.

In France it is Marcon vs. Le Pen for the second round it seems. It seems likely Marcon will win the second round…but I do wonder if some far Left voters will refuse to vote for a candidate is a pretty transparent avatar of the globalist elite.

I love California, but, In costly Bay Area, even six-figure salaries are considered ‘low income’:

San Francisco and San Mateo counties have the highest limits in the Bay Area — and among the highest such numbers in the country. A family of four with an income of $105,350 per year is considered “low income.” A $65,800 annual income is considered “very low” for a family the same size, and $39,500 is “extremely low.” The median income for those areas is $115,300.

The problem many, but not all, Lefties in this part of the country have is their rhetoric is always about making housing affordable, not making more housing (which would naturally lead to more affordability).

Stanford CS department updates introductory courses: Java is Gone.

I was a bit surprised how few readers had read Matt Ridley’s Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. I’d highly recommend it.

A new wave of GSS data is out. Might start some GSS blogging again.

Maybe moderate drinking isn’t so good for you after all:

But our latest research challenges this view. We found while moderate drinkers are healthier than relatively heavy drinkers or non-drinkers, they are also wealthier. When we control for the influence of wealth, then alcohol’s apparent health benefit is much reduced in women aged 50 years or older, and disappears completely in men of similar age.

People I know had long warned these were observational studies. But perhaps I run with a strange crowd….

Why the Menace of Mosquitoes Will Only Get Worse: Climate change is altering the environment in ways that increase the potential for viruses like Zika.

Open Thread, 4/16/2017

Happy Easter. Spend most of the day figuring out how to restart Varnish. I don’t really know why there are so many database connection problems and caching…but I inherited the VPS. Might have to bone up on being a sysadmin more. Do any readers know if Varnish is really worth a modest site like mine?

Erdogan Claims Vast New Powers After Narrow Victory in Turkish Referendum. First, I have to say that The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad is pretty relevant today. Second, Erdogan has shown many faces to the world over the past 15 years. I remember for example him telling people in post-Arab Spring Tunisia that in a free society atheism is a real option (to some criticism).

Are 90% of academic papers really never cited? Reviewing the literature on academic citations. It’s really a problem in the humanities:

Many academic articles are never cited, although I could not find any study with a result as high as 90%. Non-citation rates vary enormously by field. “Only” 12% of medicine articles are not cited, compared to about 82% (!) for the humanities. It’s 27% for natural sciences and 32% for social sciences (cite). For everything except humanities, those numbers are far from 90% but they are still high: One third of social science articles go uncited! Ten points for academia’s critics. Before we slash humanities departments, though, remember that much of their most prestigious research is published in books. On the other hand, at least in literature, many books are rarely cited too.

White supremacist who created stir at Stanislaus State seen punching woman at Berkeley protest. First, please note that this woman went to the protest to get “Nazi scalps” according to her social media. Second, the image of a white supremacist punching an anti-fascist woman is exactly what Sarah Haider told me was going to be a problem with contemporary Leftist valorization of violence: Left-wing organizations have proportionally many more women than right-wing militant organizations, which isn’t an asset in pitched physical combat.

Theresa May’s Conservatives are 21 points ahead of Labour in new poll. I think Scotland will leave the United Kingdom in the next 5 years.

Suzan Mazur interviews Richard Lewontin. I used to think Mazur was exceptional, and she still is, but only in her artlessness in pushing her agenda.

Open Thread, 4/9/2017

Roger Lowenstein’s When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management was influential in turning me against naive market libertarianism. Market can correct for errors, but when that takes the whole global economy down…. (also, hedge fund guys are genuine assholes who don’t give a shit in many cases)

Why ISIS Declared War on Egypt’s Christians. An analogy here is made to Shia in Iraq. The analogy breaks down because the Shia Arabs of Iraq are about half the population. Coptic Christians are closer to 10%. Because Egypt has a large population there are probably more than 5 million Coptic Christians. Mass migrations as occurred with Iraqi Christian can’t work because there are too many of them.

California is getting so much power from solar that wholesale electricity prices are turning negative. Not surprising if you read Ramez Naam’s The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet.

Syria intervention: skeptical. The best of intentions….

Postdocs getting a pay raise, but many say it’s not nearly enough. I suspect what’s going to happen is that there will be fewer postdocs and they will get paid more.

To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old.

UC Berkeley Was Warned About Its Star Professor Years Before Sexual Harassment Lawsuit. Searle is rightly famous. His ideas may have merit even if he is a horrible person. And for all the moral panic about sexual assaults on campus between undergraduates, one thing you notice if you are in academia is there are a well known list of creepy professors who you hear about, but who are too famous and powerful to confront unless they really, really, step over the line, or, someone is willing to stake their reputation and career on a take-down.

An updated meta-analysis of the ego depletion effect. A big deal. Probably true.

This thread illustrates that New York City consists of three broad groups of people:

1) The affluent, from young finance professionals to the Upper East Side wealthy.

2) The transient. This includes young artists and creative types who live relatively cheap and have few expenses, and will probably move on as they mature, either into another field that pays better, or, to a region they can afford. It also includes immigrants who are just starting out in this country. By the second and third generation many of their children and grandchildren will be moving out of the city.

3) The permanent poor. See the Bronx.

The dynamic upper limit of human lifespan.

Pizza chains are making a desperate push to avoid posting calories on menus. Have you seen how many calories are in one slice?

Two issues with this blog. First, lots of problems with connecting to the MySQL database. A quick hack is that I wrote a script which checks if the database is down every 5 seconds and restarts it if it’s down. Also, lots of 503 errors, probably because of a caching problem. I’ll fix this, but if you have advice, appreciate.

Also, I’m loading the full archives of my content right now. It might be disorganized, but all of it should be searchable soon(ish).

Open Thread, 4/2/2017

I’m finally getting settled in to this website. Basically I’m my own sysadmin at this point, so I’ll be making changes and tweeks…but if you want to bookmark this URL, it is probably fine now. As always, my permanent RSS,, is always a good bet too. Right now https seems to be breaking formatting. I will fix that. Also, the database crashes too often. I have a 1 minute cron running but that’s not sufficient.

For a few days it looks like comments did not work because of a plugin I activated. If you have a problem like this you can contact me on Twitter or email me at contactgnxp -at- gmail -dot- com (you can find this on my own website too).

A long-time reader (as in, back to 2002) messaged me on Facebook a few days ago and asked if I’d stopped blogging, as they’d heard a rumor from another long-time reader. Instead of asking me, 15 seconds of checking on the interwebs, or, would have clarified things. Some day I may stop blogging. But I have been saying that since 2002.

Almost finished Reformations. Seems to be losing steam toward the end. This is reasonable, as no one would want to start getting into the Thirty Years War in any detail.

The New York Times has a piece up, ‘Age of Empires’: How 2 Dynasties of Art Forged China’s Identity. Reminds me of a book that is on my “essential reading” about China list, The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han. To me what is curious and notable about China is that Han dynasty mores and views are much more reflected in modern China than that of Augustan Era Rome is in modern Italy.

U.S. increasingly sees Iran’s hand in the arming of Bahraini militants. By the lights of our own values we are not the “good guys” here. Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni elite, around a Sunni royal family, which has placed the Shia majority in a position of subjugation. A relatively peaceful Shia protest movement was violently suppressed by an alliance of Gulf states during the Arab Spring, with the help of Pakistani mercenaries. The United States averted its eyes.

There are legitimate reasons to engage in realpolitik. But the press does not do us any favors when it implicitly misleads the American public on the broader context, as people abroad are quite often much more well versed in our duplicity and hypocrisy.

This is not to say that I don’t think the United States is on a balance a force for good, but over the last generation our portfolio has been decidedly mixed, but our political and journalistic elite has masked this from the public by and large unless there is a partisan angle to it. But really this is a problem of elite hubris, on both the Right and Left.

Human demographic history impacts genetic risk prediction across diverse populations is now out in AJHG. I might blog it again. It’s an important paper.

This week Alexander Kim tweeted from a conference with a lot of ancient DNA results. One datum is that pre-classical Egyptians did not have any Sub-Saharan African ancestry…at least based on the samples they had. I’m mildly skeptical of this finding. First, we know of the old presence of Nubian soldiers and slaves in Egypt. And second, it seems likely that there was some early mixing which was equally distributed throughout the population and recombined in the genetic background. We’ll see.

I assume that a bunch of ancient DNA papers will break before SMBE 2017. Speaking of which, I will be around then. Planning on meeting some friends and checking out the scene.

Finally, I have some free time in the next two weeks to read books. So I’d appreciate recommendations, though my reading stack is currently pretty high….

Open Thread, 03/26/2017

Lots of tweaks and changes on regards to the blog platform recently. As they say in the start-up world we’re “iterating.” The content/substance is going to remain pretty much the same, but over time I’ll be trying to figure out different ways to deliver.

This might cause some minor issues in terms of continuity (I do have the full archives from Unz and earlier, so I’ll load them up once I’m confident we aren’t going to change platforms for a while). I did some fiddling with the permlink URLs, so if you shared anything on Facebook, I’d appreciate if you reshared again.

No matter the details, the old Gene Expression website will point to where you need to go,, but you can also keep track of me through as well. Also, Twitter and my permanent feed (this feed always hooks into wherever my blog is, so it’s the one you want).

Finally, I also have set up a newsletter with MailChimp. The primary reason is really that I’m worried that some day Twitter will disappear and I figured it is important to have another way to contact people who follow me. I have only sent out one notification, and the next one will probably be when I’m more settled in terms of platform tweaks.

Mostly done with Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650. I’m a big fan of Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation, and this is a somewhat different book. Reformations focuses more on intellectual history and theological details, while MacCulloch’s magisterial survey hits political, social, cultural, and theological angles in equal measures. If I had to pick the order in which to read it would definitely be The Reformation first, but Reformations is a good compliment.

It’s annoying to me that journalists are pretty ignorant. I understand that that’s the deal when you are a generalist and get assigned to a diverse array of topics. But the public takes journalists seriously, so the fact that so many are so bad at what they do is frustrating. At this point I assume I’m being misled in a lot of areas where I don’t have domain knowledge.

I have a little knowledge about what happened in East Pakistan in the period of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The writer above probably doesn’t have domain knowledge. So they fit the Pakistan military’s killings in the framework of intra-Muslim conflict. Obviously there is something to this. But it is critical, in my opinion, to note that the ruling elites of West Pakistan viewed East Pakistanis as racially and culturally inferior, and that the large population of Hindus who remained in East Pakistan after partition bore a disproportionate brunt of the genocide. Foregrounding attacks on Muslims by this journalist arguably “erases” and misleads many of the readers of this piece, though I assume this is inadvertent.

On many topics my knowledge comes through “book-learning.” The conflict around 1970, and the cultural context beforehand, I know through oral history. For example, older Muslim Bengalis, such as my maternal grandfather, remained pro-Pakistan, in large part because their formative years were during the British Raj, and they retained strong memories of their religious marginalization during the time when the Hindu upper classes dominated Bengal. He was born in 1896, and recalled being the only Bengali Muslim doctor in many areas.

My parents, growing up after partition, had different memories. From what they have told me if you were a Muslim Bengali it certainly wasn’t similar to the experience of blacks in the American South, but there were events that occurred which made it clear who was on top. In Bangladesh after partition there was a community of people who migrated from India termed “Biharis” (many, but not all, were from Bihar province to the west of Bengal). As Urdu-speakers they identified more strongly with West Pakistan, and perceived themselves to be superior to the native population.

After independence they have been the subject of persecution in Bangladesh. Obviously this is bad, and my family does not have any animus toward Biharis. Many of them have assimilated and become Bengali. As most are Sunni Muslims and don’t look that different from the range of physical types among Bengalis it is not that difficult. Some of my cousins for example have a Bihari grandmother, a fact I only became aware of because despite having perfect Bengali there are some words she uses which point to an Urdu-speaking background.

But, my mother does admit during the 1960s she was witness to incidents where Biharis in Bengal behaved as if they were better and had more rights. One case which will have resonance with American readers: a Bihari man got on a bus and began shouting in Urdu for someone to get off because there were no seats left on the bus. Since the bus driver did not know Urdu someone had to be found to interpret for him, at which point a poor soul at the front of the bus was ejected and room was made for the Bihari man.

The killings of hundreds of thousands to millions of Bengalis was a bad thing. But the root causes and historical context shouldn’t be misrepresented.

RNA viruses drove adaptive introgressions between Neanderthals and modern humans. Here’s the important sentence: ” Our results imply that many introgressions between Neanderthals and modern humans were adaptive.”

I got a review copy of The Neuroscience of Intelligence. We’ll see when I get to it.

So some people are still asking me about the hit piece. I think I can tell you it was mostly written before the guy ever talked to me. Second, I’m to understand the editor of Undark is a serious person by journalist friends, but there is one link in there where the implication made does not follow at all from the content at the link (I rather argue the opposite of what was implied from the title).

I’m pretty sure that the journalist and the editor assumed most people would not read it (I can check the Google Analytics, very few people clicked through). If that isn’t true, they’re incompetent. Basically, it’s been a little sad because I am now concluding that the media is fine with just lying about people by implication without even the barest pretense. Meanwhile, someone like Michael Oman-Reagan is more mainstream in science than I am.

Honestly I’ve given up on the future of classical liberalism in the West. Most people are cowards and liars when push comes to shove. I don’t want to speak of this at length, as it’s a bit like a God-is-dead moment for me, but I thought I’d come clean and be frank. The Critical Theorists are right, power trumps truth. I’m not sure they’ll enjoy what’s to come in the future when objectivity is dethroned, but I think I will probably laugh as the liars scramble to lie different lies, because that is almost certain to happen.

So I have another son. He’s healthy. That’s all you can ask for. I still think now and then about the cat who died in January though.