19 February 2018

Once around the earth

Gordon Pennycook asked how far people have moved in pursuit of their academic careers. I’d never added it up before. I found an online distance calculator, and off I went.

From my high school town of Pincher Creek, Alberta to the University of Lethbridge for my bachelor’s degree: 100 km

From Lethbridge to the University of Victoria for my graduate work: 1,268 km (driving)

From Victoria to Montreal for my first post-doc: 4,732 km (driving)

From Montreal to Melbourne, Australia for my second post-doc: 16,755 km

From Melbourne to Pincher Creek, for a brief period of unemployment: 13,874 km

From Pincher Creek to Edinburg, Texas to start my tenure-track position: 3,476 km

And from Edinburg to an undisclosed location, where I am on leave: 3,090 km

Grand total: 45,295 km! For comparison, the circumference of the Earth is 40,075 km.

You may now judge me on my carbon footprint. I would hate to start adding in the miles for conferences on top of that.

06 February 2018

Tuesday Crustie: Know your Lamingtons

Canada has butter tarts. Australia has lamingtons.


But because Autralia is the lucky country, it not only has lamingtons as dessert, but Lamington as a bad ass crayfish:


I loved this description (my emphasis):

One of Australia's most unusual creatures, the Lamington spiny crayfish, lives there and has been known to startle bushwalkers by confronting them in battle stance, clicking claws and warning hiss.

It’s like this crayfish is trying to live up to this description of Australia from Douglas Adams:

Australia is like Jack Nicholson. It comes right up to you and laughs very hard in your face in a highly threatening and engaging manner.

External links

Feisty crayfish surprise in rainforest

Dessert pic from here; crayfish pic from here.

05 February 2018

The economy of crayfish


While searching for crayfish news (as you do), I stumbled across this description of the value of crayfish.

  • Crayfish are the most popular dish in China.
  • Crayfish support five million jobs in China.
  • Crayfish are a US$22 billion market in China.

Besides the size of the market, I am surprised because I am willing to bet that it is all invasive species, Louisiana red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii. That’s what the pictures look like, anyway.

This shouldn’t surprise me, considering I remembered this from an article about crayfish in CHina from years ago.

This novel perspective on invasive species was perhaps most elegantly stated as we made small talk with a taxi driver in Wuhan. As we explained our research through an interpreter, the taxi driver smiled and asked, “Can they really be considered a problem if people eat them?"

Yet somehow, I doubt most people would be able to guess just how much money there is in crayfish in this one country. This page (dated 2012) estimates that in Louisiana, one of the biggest American producers of crayfish (hey, it is the Louisiana red swamp crayfish) :

The total economic impact on the Louisiana economy exceeds $300 million annually, and more than 7,000 people depend directly or indirectly on the crawfish industry.

External links

Crayfish was China's most popular dish in 2017
China's crazy love for crayfish created jobs for 5m in 2016
Louisiana Crayfish: Good, Bad and Delicious

Picture from here.