Old folk at lunch

Saturday, March 13, 2004

German wine

I drink very little alcohol these days so it was for the first time in years that I had a couple of glasses of German white wine with my dinner last night. It took me ages to find someone in Brisbane who sold German wine. Even so, it cost me only $10 for the bottle (about $6.50 in U.S. dollars). I think it is one of the everyday miracles of capitalism that I can buy a Rheinhessen Qualitaetswein half a world away from where it was made for such a small sum.

It rather perplexes me, though, that German wine has such a patchy following around the world. Maybe its uniformly high quality makes it boring. French wine is mostly rubbish by Australian or German standards but I suppose the challenge of finding a good one makes it interesting. Australian winemakers wouldn't dream of making such a nasty product as French vin ordinaire. Even a $5 ($3.50 U.S.) bottle of Australian red is pretty good.

Monday, March 8, 2004


A very small meditation

Although any idea of "God" ceased to be meaningful to me over 40 years ago, I have never abandoned Christian ethics. I don't claim to be any Abou Ben Adhem but I have always found that if I do the "Christian" (kind, helpful, forgiving, generous etc.) thing, I get a reward for it -- usually quickly and it is often a substantial reward. For me, Christian ethics work. They work so well that I do well understand how Christians would see in such things the hand of their God. I myself see such rewards as evidence that Christ was a very wise teacher who had an understanding of human psychology that is still better than what most modern professional psychologists have.

An instance of how Christian ways have worked for me is one most readers of this blog will know by now. When Keith Burgess-Jackson had just started his blog, I read it and noted with pleasure the philosophical clarity of his writing (Anglo-Saxon philosophy aims to clarify; Continental philosophy aims to obfuscate). When I therefore also noted that he was having trouble with his template, I immediately offered to help and was able to do so.

As a result Keith was very appreciative and has always since been quick to link to my postings -- and I of course also link back to his. So we have been able to steer our respective readers to one another -- which some readers at least appreciate. So my initial Christian deed (which took me only a couple of hours) has benefited Keith, me and our respective readers! Beat that for an ethical system that works!

As an aside, it is perfectly consistent with Keith's energetic and extraverted style (a style I enjoy greatly) that he posts up some of the congratulatory emails that he receives. But I would never be able to do that. Perhaps it is my traditional British reserve. I only post emails that address some topic that I think has general interest. I do in fact receive congratulatory emails all the time and every one of them is greatly appreciated so I hope my readers understand my reserve about posting any of them.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

A bright lad

My 16-year-old son Joe has just started an advanced placement course in mathematics at the University of Queensland. He is in his final year at a large private Catholic high school but is allowed to do one subject at university level. The University of Queensland is one of Australia's oldest and largest universities and is where I got my first degree. Joe actually has classes in exactly the same big old sandstone building where I first had classes exactly 40 years ago. I am pretty pleased about it all -- particularly as he is the only one in his school doing advanced placement. And he arranged it all for himself, too. I had no hand in it.