Merchants boycotting Kopi Luwak coffee

WSPA has just announced that a number of merchants have decided to no longer sell Kopi Luwak coffee because of the often inhumane conditions under which the civets needed to produce this coffee are maintained.  I have had the opportunity to taste this coffee and, while it was delicious, did make me uncomfortable, since I avoid products that are derived from animals; I can see now that I was justified in my caution.  The Guardian published this article about the treatment of civets in the production of kopi luwak coffee.  Some pertinent observations:

“The conditions are awful, much like battery chickens,” said Chris Shepherd, deputy regional director of the conservation NGO Traffic south-east Asia. “The civets are taken from the wild and have to endure horrific conditions. They fight to stay together but they are separated and have to bear a very poor diet in very small cages.”

“There is a high mortality rate and for some species of civet, there’s a real conservation risk. It’s spiralling out of control. But there’s not much public awareness of how it’s actually made. People need to be aware that tens of thousands of civets are being kept in these conditions. It would put people off their coffee if they knew.”

My thanks to WSPA, an organization which I have supported for years, for bringing pressure on merchants to take a stand against this treatment.

The surprising appeal of vegan baking (for non-vegans)

Baked goods can pose significant challenges for vegans, since these goods traditionally contain eggs and dairy.  I don’t bake often, as my passion lies in cooking, but when I do, I am always met with “but it’s so good” from non-vegans.  One becomes used to dealing with the assumption that a tasty vegan baked product is something that should inspire surprise, so I’m happy to share this post from a non-vegan’s perspective.

How did it get to be ‘OK’ for people to be late for everything?

Greg Savage discusses a matter that is near and dear to my heart, namely, the importance of punctuality. I am a punctual person; being late by only five minutes bothers me, as I always think about how rude this must seem to the other parties involved.  Like Mr. Savage, I have found that more people are increasingly late for scheduled meetings, thinking nothing of arriving late by 20 minutes or more. Mr. Savage sums it up nicely: … I don’t care if I sound old-fashioned, because actually it’s nothing to do with ‘fashion’ or ‘generation’. It’s got everything to do with basic good manners and respect for other people.

The Ph.D.’s guide to a non-faculty job search

This post discusses strategies for PhD graduates to find non-academic positions and addresses the following questions: Where do I look for jobs? How do I meet people if I don’t have contacts outside academe? Did I just waste the past eight years of my life on this doctorate when I should have been earning an M.B.A.?


LOL my thesis

This blog, published by a senior at Harvard University, invites students to submit plain English versions of their thesis titles to often amusing effect.  Examples include:

  • The dictionary can be a dangerous place to search for the meaning of a word.
  • They knew a thing or two about computer security in 1641.
  • We came. We saw. We set some limits.
  • It is possible to build an academic career out of injecting globs of virus into people’s eyes