Daily Data Dump (Friday)

By Razib Khan | May 14, 2010 3:00 pm

A few preliminaries. First, if you have not updated to the new feed yet, please do do! Go into your RSS and check that your link is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/GeneExpressionBlog. If not, change it. Or if you’re too lazy to check, just follow the link and subscribe again and delete the old feed. Please.

Second, I will be traveling a fair amount over the next four weeks. I won’t post as regularly or frequently. I may not do a link round up, because whole days may pass before I get on the internet! I figured I should mention this because last fall when I didn’t post for four days (I was at the Singularity Summit) a few people made inquiries as to my health. Also, if you haven’t had a comment approved already (in which case your comment goes through automatically), there is a serious probability that you’ll be stuck in the mod queue for days for the next month. Apologies ahead, but please be chill about that.

Affluent Qataris Seek What Money Cannot Buy. This is a very amusing article. The fact is that Gulf Arabs, who have benefited from windfall wealth which they did not earn in any way, have a really minimal work ethic and maximal sense of entitlement. It’s bad form today to dismiss whole populations like this, but I don’t really care, it’s true, everyone who has worked in the Gulf knows this. The New York Times tries to maintain an air of neutral detachment, but the author of the linked article couldn’t keep it up. The piece is about the frustration that Qataris face due to discrimination in employment opportunities because employers stereotype them as relatively lazy, unqualified, and demanding (though it’s really hard to match semi-slave labor too! So “entitled” might mean “refusal to work 18 hours a day for 7 days a week” for minimal pay). Employers and coworkers treat them like the special education kid in the classroom. But that’s because that’s the rational thing to do. We all know, and can admit, that children who have large trust funds can often (though not always!) grow up to be spoiled and rendered far less productive than they would be otherwise because of wealth unearned. Same with Qataris. The final paragraph makes the journalists’ bemusement rather crystal clear:

“Moza al-Malki, a family therapist, said she was angry, too. She said that she had lost her teaching position when she complained that an Indian woman was hired to run a counseling center that she said she had set up. “We are all angry for staying at home,” she said.

A moment earlier, she turned to the Filipino woman walking one step behind her — a servant carrying bags — and told her to go look around the mall they were in while Ms. Malki ordered breakfast. Ms. Malki ordered a croissant with cheese, sent it back because it was too hard, and then settled on an omelet.”

Qataris are very fat too.

Known unknowns. Ryan Avent is skeptical of financial innovation. I am too. I didn’t really care before 2008, history is full of people who manage to work the system and capture wealth through rent-seeking. But with the financial bailouts we need to revisit what’s going on here, because it may not be gains to individuals with no effect on productivity, but gains to individuals which result in a decrement to societal well being. Real innovation in technology has driven economic growth and wealth creation for the past 200 years. The massive explosion of the derivatives market in the last 10 years was not necessary for that any of that. A banking system is an essential part of a modern economy, but we had a banking system in 1990. Of course, part of the issue is that bond and stock holders demand large returns and minimal risk.

Sex Differences in Obesity Associated with Total Fertility Rate. Women are fatter than men because they bear the young.

What a difference a year makes: tweeting from Cold Spring Harbor. Dr. Daniel MacArthur on social media + science, post-Cold Spring Harbor twittergate.

The “Big Four,” part I: Natural selection. Jeremy Yoder on the forces of evolution. He starts with natural selection, but will hit mutation, genetic drift, and migration.

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  • deadpost

    What was the evo psych rationale behind male preference for thin women if fat women are more fertile?

    I mean, I know about the waist to hip ratio thing, but is it really true as some have claimed, that the thinness ideal is a recent response to affluence (like tanning in light-skinned Europeans), that contrasts with say, the past ideas of the Venus of Willendorf figurines.

    This explanation has always bugged me, as the thousands of years of civilization past have had people against the Malthusian limits, and yet you still don’t see a totally rotund figure portrayed as the most “beautiful” female.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    in this paper the causality is being explored in the other direction. having lots of children adds weight. from what i know fertility for females peaks in the middle, with skinny and fat women having reduced fecundity all things equal.

  • http://lablemming.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    Did you pick 1990 as an example year because of the Savings&Loan debacle?

  • Miguel Madeira

    “What was the evo psych rationale behind male preference for thin women if fat women are more fertile?”

    My theory – thin women looks younger (because many women bocmes fat with the age); and there is a logical reason to prefer younger women (they will be fertile more years).

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    lab lemming, just picked a date before computers became so integrated into the day to day work of the financial sector (though i assume mainframes were already huge by then). my real point is that i think there are real diminishing returns in more “efficient allocation of capital,” and we hit the diminishing era a long time ago if real economic productivity growth is a measure.

  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    The obesity paper reminded me of some of the stuff Karl Smith has written about.

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  • dave chamberlin

    On behalf of stupid, fat, lazy people everywhere, I demand an immediate apology!

  • http://contemplationist.wordpress.com Contemplationist

    On the contrary, I think we’ve been moving away from “efficient allocation of capital” due to the disastrous Basel II regs enforced by US authorities facilitating the rampant regulatory arbitrage that was carried out by structured finance. Going back to simple regulatory rules, with effective enforcement, no bailouts, or at least forcing pain on creditors, reducing depositor insurance, can put us back on path to efficiency.

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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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