Monday, 14 December 2009

Kidney transplants and post-Ramadan birth weights

Just been reading “Super Freakonomics”, the sequel, which has been much lambasted for being more pop than economics and truth be told, if the first “Freakonomics” was a bit of porridge then the sequel's been watered down to pretty thin gruel.
But it’s got a couple of interesting points:

Iran: not often one can say nice thing about that benighted place, ruled as it is by a thug-in-chief who has just criticized the US for impeding the return of the “hidden Imam” (don’t ask…) and rounded on critics of his thuggish regime as being un-Islamic.   On the plus side, what one learns from “Super F” is that there’s no waiting list for kidney transplants in Iran, whereas in the US there are some 30,000 who die each year because there are not enough donations.  How do they do it?  By offering cash incentives for people to donate their supernumerary kidney.  That idea has been floated in the US to virtually universal condemnation, but one wonders if it shouldn't be tried again.
Ramadan and birth weights: studies have been done to show that Muslim babies born nine months after the beginning of the Muslim fast of Ramadan have 20% more problems of low birth weight and mental handicaps later in life.  Hmmmm… wonder what Allah was thinking here, given that he, and the Koran he dictated to Mo via Gabe, are inerrant?  Did he mean them to be scrawny imbeciles?
Profiling:  out of a population of bank customers whose account activities matched known terrorists’ profiles, there are the following probabilities: if you have no Muslim name, your chance of being in the set are one in 300,000.  If you have two Muslim names, the chances are one in 2,000.   I’m not sure that profiling, at least at airports, will work statistically.  But just in terms of where to look for terrorists, it’s like the old saying of -- who was it now? -- when asked why he robbed banks, “because that’s where the money is”.   Why focus on Muslim names?  Because that’s where the terrorists are.  Unless they want to change their names and then that change would be a marker itself….. oh dear.  The authors also advise would-be suicide bombers to get life insurance, because none of the known ones have had it.  Then, of course, a recent purchase of insurance by a "Muhammad Hussein" would itself be a marker…..