Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

April 23, 2017

LaTeX notes

Filed under: Blog,LaTeX — Razib Khan @ 11:40 pm

I recently installed a plugin that will allow me to render LaTeX. Mostly this is because I’ve long avoided writing out equations because it’s awkward in HTML, and it gets unintelligible quickly. This will allow me to explore population genetics in its “natural language” a little easier.

But I just noticed on my RSS feed view the LaTeX is not rendering for whatever reason. Where there should be equations or LaTeX rendered text there is a blank space. This is unfortunate, but I don’t know what to do about it. So just click through if you want the equations. If you are willing to “hum through” those portions it shouldn’t matter. The equations aren’t going to take up much of any post.

Also, Donald Knuth is a god. Probably he’ll think that’s blasphemous because he’s a Lutheran and all, but The Art of Computer Programming beats the Bible in my book!

Open Thread, 3/23/2017

Filed under: Blog,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 10:48 am

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.

April 21, 2017

2017 Gene Expression reader survey

Filed under: 2017 Reader Survey,Blog — Razib Khan @ 6:22 am

Since I’m finally getting settled in here, I thought it was a good time to do a reader survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MW3YFZH.

So it’s open. You can only take it once, but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. There are 30 questions but the first 20 are mostly demographic and should go very quickly (e.g., your age, your sex, your race), and the last 10 are not difficult either (if you don’t know if you are a deontologist or consequentalist on ethics, don’t answer). Many are now of the form where you can answer more than one option.

I basically took the template of last year’s survey, made several changes, removing some questions and adding some. Also, I stole a few from Slate Star Codex.

You can read the non-text answers of the 2016 survey here.

In the middle of May I will the raw data (no-IP) and post it here so others can analyze if they want.

Addendum: Since I don’t know where else to put this, I have noticed an increase in referrals through my Amazon links. So that’s much appreciated. Obviously I’m not really getting paid much for blogging or doing the sysadmin activities, but it’s definitely going to covering overages from VPS traffic or anything like that. Remember, even if you don’t buy directly through the link I still get a referral if you are on Amazon during a session and buy something different.

Addendum 2: Forgot to mention. I’ve been doing reader surveys since 2004. The final tally of the number of people who fill the survey is always between 300 and 500, invariant of how much traffic I received (my traffic has varied about an order of magnitude over the years). It is curious to me that this “core readership” (as I perceive it) is about the same size as a Roman cohort.

April 17, 2017

Only half of the traffic on this website is a personal ‘computer’

Filed under: Blog,Metrics — Razib Khan @ 12:20 pm

I spend way too much time semi-competently managing the VPS this site is hosted on. But at least now I can look at Google Analytics. I’ve found some interesting things.

For example, 35% of the traffic on this site comes from phones, and 10% from tablets. That means that conventional computers are only somewhat more than half of the views. Additionally, 50% more of the Facebook shares are via the mobile Facebook app than the normal desktop version (I tend to get the most referrals from Twitter since I have a bigger Twitter following, but at some point I expect Facebook to surpass that as people realize I’m blogging again).

Probably going to make a few changes to make the site more mobile friendly since so many of you tend to read it on that device….

April 16, 2017

Open Thread, 4/16/2017

Filed under: Blog,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 4:41 pm

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.

April 12, 2017

This website is wicked popular in Boston

Filed under: Blog,Blog stats — Razib Khan @ 1:22 pm
Traffic Feb 1 2017 to Apr 1 2017, top 10 cities
New York Boston
London New York
Sydney London
Los Angeles Los Angeles
Melbourne Chicago
Madrid Washington
Toronto San Francisco
Chicago Seattle
Washington Toronto
Brisbane Dallas

Weird pattern in terms of top cities that read this new version of GNXP. I’m comparing to the old blog over the same time…most of that is search engine traffic, so it’s not totally representative. The Australian overrepresentation is strange to me but it may be some Australian focused blog posts were promoted on some site down under. As search engine traffic increases on this website I’m assuming New York will be taking the top slot….

April 9, 2017

Open Thread, 4/9/2017

Filed under: Blog,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 4:08 pm

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 four 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).

April 8, 2017

On monetizing this website

Filed under: Blog,Monetization — Razib Khan @ 9:49 am

For ten years I have not given much thought to monetization of this weblog. Other people took care of that for me.

The upside of running my own ship is obvious in terms of control. The downside is I’m now my own sysadmin, and I’m not getting paid to do that (not to mention hosting, etc.).

For over a decade I’ve also been an Amazon Associate. When I put up book reviews I link to Amazon, and if you buy the book I get a cut. But, another aspect of this is that the referral session stays active even if you use Amazon to purchase something else.

I’ve been rather passive about this so far, but now I’ve decided to put a link to my Amazon associates page on the top right. If you click through that link and buy something at Amazon I get a cut. This isn’t trivial when it comes to big ticket items. Anyway, I would appreciate if long time readers were conscious of this.

I know many of my readers buy from Amazon anyway, so it’s a way to support me generating this sort of content for “free” in the normal course of things.

April 5, 2017

What should I blog about in the next two weeks?

Filed under: Blog — Razib Khan @ 10:01 am

Any thoughts/suggestions? Only thing off limits would be anything too personal. I already asked on Twitter and got some responses so no need to be redundant unless you want to add to the weight of a preference.

Also, now that I finished Reformations* I’m finally reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence front to back. But I have a lot of other Kindle books in the “stack”, and aside from those I’m going to tackle for personal/professional development (e.g., stuff on machine learning or Bayesian statistics) I have some latitude and am toying with listing books and giving readers some input in the arrangement/sequence.

* I’ll review the book at some point, but main quibble is that it was too heavy on ideas/theology, even though by the end the author admitted one should be cautious about focusing on this aspect.

November 24, 2013

Open Thread, 11/24/13

Filed under: Blog,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 2:21 am


One of the stranger call-ins on my interview with Kathleen Dunn last month was when a woman who proudly declared that she was a math major in college asserted that 23andMe had told her she wasn’t at risk for many diseases which now in her 60s she had developed. I didn’t want to be too pointed about it, but if you are in your 60s you are at risk for developing many illnesses no matter what your “genetic risk.” This is clear from 23andMe’s statistics, which display high baseline risks for many common diseases. From reading comments on 23andMe discussion forums it seems that perceived false negatives are going to be a much bigger issue than false positives over the long run. If the tests are “wrong” in a direction which leaves you in a better state than predicted you might feel like you’ve dodged a bullet. On other hand if the tests are “wrong” in a direction which gave you false comfort, or add insult to injury when you’ve developed a debilitating disease, then you feel much more burned.

I don’t really recommend blogs too much anymore. But please check out The Stage and Social Evolution Forum.

The post Open Thread, 11/24/13 appeared first on Gene Expression.

Open Thread, 11/24/13

Filed under: Blog,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 2:21 am


One of the stranger call-ins on my interview with Kathleen Dunn last month was when a woman who proudly declared that she was a math major in college asserted that 23andMe had told her she wasn’t at risk for many diseases which now in her 60s she had developed. I didn’t want to be too pointed about it, but if you are in your 60s you are at risk for developing many illnesses no matter what your “genetic risk.” This is clear from 23andMe’s statistics, which display high baseline risks for many common diseases. From reading comments on 23andMe discussion forums it seems that perceived false negatives are going to be a much bigger issue than false positives over the long run. If the tests are “wrong” in a direction which leaves you in a better state than predicted you might feel like you’ve dodged a bullet. On other hand if the tests are “wrong” in a direction which gave you false comfort, or add insult to injury when you’ve developed a debilitating disease, then you feel much more burned.

I don’t really recommend blogs too much anymore. But please check out The Stage and Social Evolution Forum.

The post Open Thread, 11/24/13 appeared first on Gene Expression.

January 3, 2013

The end of the blogroll

Filed under: Blog — Razib Khan @ 11:55 pm

One of the major annoyances with the redesign of this weblog was that its precipitous nature was such that many of the sidebar links, etc., were removed. But, it did make me admit a major point: blogrolls are pretty much dead. In the early years of the blogsophere they served as a way to share traffic and endorse sites of interest. But with the rise of RSS, and later Twitter and its confederates they went into decline. By the end I barely recalled which sites I had on my blogroll; most of them I followed in via RSS. So I’m not going to recreate one at this point. Rather, if you want to get a sampling of what I read and such, please see my Pinboard page (to which you can subscribe via RSS if it suits you). And of course you can follow me on Twitter, though that will include my banter with other people and such. A more likely avenue is to note which websites I link to in my posts…though I’m not a copious linker to other blogs at this point….

January 2, 2013

Andrew Sullivan goes independent

Filed under: Blog — Razib Khan @ 11:13 pm

You may have heard that Andrew Sullivan & compnay’s The Daily Dish is leaving The Daily Beast. This is making some waves in the blogosphere, with many of my thoughts being in line with Tyler Cowen‘s. I’ve followed Sullivan’s career since the mid-1990s when he was editing The New Republic, and I remember reading Virtually Normal in 1999. In 2000 I noticed he had is own independent website, and over the course of the decade he’s become a internet impresario of sorts. In those years Andrew Sullivan has linked to Gene Expression in one of its incarnations many times. The Daily Dish has also been one of the major boosters of another website with which I am involved, Secular Right. I was even solicited for my own reflections on the 10 year anniversary of Sullivan’s blog.

This is all on my mind because Sullivan et al. are now rolling out a $19.99 membership plan for all their original content & curation services. That’s a very small price (and the gate is very leaky). I can spend more in two visits to Panera Bread. The Daily Dish is certainly an essential part of my information ecosystem. But, the important point for me is that I am only a marginal consumer of the primary production of Andrew Sullivan and his confederates. I encounter as people share links on Facebook, via Twitter, and through referrals (my non-science friends and acquaintances in “real life” only encounter my blogging persona on Sullivan’s site). There’s just so much there that I assume I’ll encounter it through the sieve of the broader internet, in which Sullivan and company loom large. So what I’d be paying for is Andrew Sullivan’s role in the ecosystem, not Andrew Sullivan’s blog per se. It would be like paying for Twitter or Facebook, which I don’t pay for now.

$19.99 is a pittance. But if I give Andrew Sullivan his due, who else should I “tip.” How about Tyler Cowen? Or Maria Popova? I consume more of Tyler’s content directly than Andrew’s, and Maria’s even more indirectly and in a diffuse fashion. In terms of media consumption I’m currently a subscriber to The New York Times, contribute to Wikipedia, try and support bloggers who I read and have fund drives, and also have a Netflix account. This isn’t much. But it starts to add up. The content universe of the internet is vast for the infovore, especially for one who relies a great deal on intermediating technologies to sift and filter the stream of content.

Like Tyler I don’t really know where we’re going with all of this, and how people who generate content and take time to curate can be appropriately compensated for their time.

September 26, 2012

Open thread, 9-26-2012

Filed under: Blog — Razib Khan @ 10:00 pm

Be heard!

September 12, 2012

Open thread, 9-12-2012

Filed under: Blog — Razib Khan @ 9:59 pm

Commenters arise!

September 5, 2012

Open thread, 9-5-2012

Filed under: Blog — Razib Khan @ 9:59 pm

Forgot to post this last week I think. Same as usual. Be nice. And I’ll be nice too!

On being a pundit

Filed under: Blog,Blogging — Razib Khan @ 9:51 pm

Back the summer of 2002 I recall a friend of mine telling me, “so you’re a pundit now!” I’d been blogging for a few months, and I didn’t feel like a pundit, whatever that meant. ~10 years on I guess I am a pundit. In that vein I was discussing with a friend what it took “to be a blogger” (they wanted to get into the game). First, blogger is a rather expansive category. I have no idea what one would need to do to be a food blogger beyond any old person off the street. But I do know how to be what I am. I focus on three things:

* Precision
* Accuracy
* Novelty

And exactly in that order. It’s of the essence you say what you mean to say. Confusions will still occur, but you can mitigate it by trying to be precise. Accuracy is important, but not as important. That’s because I don’t know everything very well. I’m going to be wrong a lot of the time. I know what I think I know, and so can be precise in my description, but I don’t know what I don’t know, and can only do my best in ...

August 28, 2012

What I do is what I do

Filed under: Blog,Navel gazing — Razib Khan @ 11:31 pm

This morning on Twitter the estimable Carl Zimmer stated that I had “reported” on the recent paper on European skin pigmentation evolution. I wondered, wait, am I a reporter? I don’t really know, and this really is rooted in the “am I a journalist” thread. I’m starting to get worn down by those who claim I am a journalist. My main issue is that once you’re pegged as a journalist, you’re held to journalistic standards. So, for example, people might demand that I selectively misquote and misrepresent the opinions of others, because I might alienate readership by telling them what I think, instead of using mouthpieces who I don’t even bother depicting with any accuracy. I’m only half-kidding here. I’ve had great experiences with journalists, and not so great experiences. I really, really, hate it when people go fishing for quotes to fit their story arc.

In regards to papers, I don’t exactly take the tack of someone like Ed Yong or Dave Munger. I’m just a guy offering my own unvarnished opinions, and the reality is what I do “on the blog” intersects strongly with the way I talk and behave in “real life.” If this blog ...

August 21, 2012

Two weeks until the Unz Contest closes

Filed under: Blog,Contest — Razib Khan @ 6:35 pm

Wanted to ping by readers on this:

As a means of publicizing the vast quantity of high-quality content material uniquely available on its recently released website, UNZ.org is announcing a historical research competition.

First Prize of $10,000 and several other cash prizes will be awarded for the most significant and interesting discussion or analysis of some historical issue based on the published source material provided at UNZ.org.  All entries must be received by August 31, 2012, and awards will be made by September 30, 2012.

Interested participants should examine the rules, read the description of the available content source material, and then register for the competition.

Since I’m a judge a few friends have asked if this is for real. Yes, it is.

July 24, 2012

Open thread 7/25/2012

Filed under: Blog — Razib Khan @ 11:01 pm

I need to rationalize my process of modulating the stream of comments I get. Toward that end I am going to be posting an “open thread” once every week (I’ve scheduled the next month already). If you have the urge to leave an off-topic comment on a post immediately, just put it here. You can of course contact me, but I understand that is often suboptimal, insofar as you may wish for input from other readers. Because this option is available I am inclined to simply delete off-topic comments more aggressively now, with repeated violations resulting in banning.

The nature of the restrictions of the comments are relatively loose on this post. You should maintain some decorum as usual. But you can post links, ask me or other readers questions, etc.

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