Thursday, December 24, 2009

Congratulations Jamie Oliver!

I saw yesterday that Jamie Oliver won the 2010 TED Prize. W00t!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aged Eggnog

I noticed an article in the current Seattle Magazine that mentioned ageing eggnog. I'd never heard of this before, being a somewhat recent transplant to the Northern reaches of the world. For some reason, in South Africa, we never really got into eggnog, what with the 36+ degree C summer weather over Christmas!

The basic idea presented in the article was to put the eggnog (with alcohol) in a cool location - the author used her unheated garage. Now, my garage seems to stay around 45 degrees F in winter (at the coolest), so this seems like a dangerous thing to do. Surely the eggs will grow some funky bacteria?

Not so, according to this article on Old but not lethal
They do recommend using the fridge, not the garage, though!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Doing what says they do...

(Originally posted 1/18/2007)
I spotted this story on Metafilter, the video here is worth checking out.

It turns out (recent darlings of the media for some reason) have fine print on this page on their website that says the money donated to them is "symbolic" and will not actually go to buying a water buffalo for a needy family. Some of it will, but the way the website is worded you'd think all (or amlost all) would go towards the buffalo, and that you might get some feedback (a picture or info of the recipient family):

Nothing's more satisfying than finding exactly the right solution to a problem. That's the good feeling you get when you give an Asian subsistence farmer a water buffalo.

It looks like the small print may have been changed since this post . It now reads:

The prices in this catalog represent the complete livestock gift of a quality animal, technical assistance and training. Each purchase is symbolic and represents a contribution to the entire mission of Heifer International. Donations will be used where needed most to help struggling people.

What does Chariy Navigator say about Heifer? They give them a 3-star rating, and only 75% of the funds they raise go towards the program costs. The president's salary of $183,000 doesn't help much...

Update: 04/24/2008:
This post still gets a lot of views... To clarify a bit - I have not volunteered with or donated to (Some readers seem to think I have).

Checking the Charity Navigator page a little of a year after I originally posted this, it's interesting to see the increase in the president's salary. From $183,000 to $213,490. That's a 16% increase!

Update: 12/01/2009:
I am amazed to see that this post still gets a lot of hits and generates a lot of comments - I had no idea it would be such a lightning rod when I posted it! Kimberline recently commented and I think it's worth responding to some of the points raised.

Firstly, the title of the blog post is in reference to the short film by Robert Thompson titled "4 Generations" (linked to at the top of the blog post). This is the person that "is doing what says they do".

I should be clear that I don't hate Originally I was motivated to post something because I enjoyed the short film, found it opened my eyes, and provided some food for thought. Before seeing the film and reading the story, the only information I had seen about was what they showed in their advertising - turns out that was a bit misleading. (Shocking!)

At the time I posted this blog, had what I think was misleading advertising, which they since corrected to make it clear the donations they receive may not result in actual animals being purchased for the poor. So, while the title of the blog post is a little outdated nowadays, I presume folks can read beyond the title of the blog post and form their own opinion of how applicable (or not) it is today.

Kimberline says that he/she doesn't see any mention of donations to charity on my blog, and therefore I am not qualified to criticize a charitable organization. I've never felt the need to blog about my donations to charity, but I will say that I do give each year and have volunteered my time as well.

Kimberline makes it sound like we should be happy with any charity that gives money to the needy, and not worry too much about the efficiency. I disagree - while 75% may seem like a good ratio, it is not that great. If you want to make a difference, you should want to make the biggest difference you can per dollar, so efficiency is vital.

If you are really interested in addressing world hunger as efficiently as possible, I would recommend looking at the Friends of the World Food Program. They spend 94.5% of their income on program expenses and have a four-star rating on Charity Navigator (see here). The CEO does earn a large salary ($300,000 in 2007), which some may take issue with, but given that so little money is "wasted" by this organisation, the CEO must be worth the money! :)

In closing, I don't expect people to read my blog post and make a decision based solely on the information here. Hopefully people take the time to do a bit more research and reading, go to Charity Navigator or even ask the charities they like for more information on their overhead.

I'm not going to pull this post down simple because some people think should not have a spotlight shone on them.

* Photo from CharlesFred (Flickr)