Archive for Alexander McCall Smith

Rooibos tax for aboriginal communities

Posted in Books, pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2020 by xi'an

Just read in the 150th anniversary issue of Nature that the South African Government had agreed to a share of the rooibos tea profits be reversed to the aboriginal San and Khoi communities. Following a lengthy debate on whether or not rooibos tea was in use before European settlers invaded the area. I cannot remember when I started drinking rooibos but it may have been connected with reading my first book of the delicious Mma Ramotswe and the №1 Ladies Detective Agency series…! Which author, Alexander McCall Smith is a self-declared tea addict. (Since the story is located in Botswana, I have no idea whether or not tea is exported from this country and if the benefits reach the local communities.)

the comforts of a muddy Saturday [book review]

Posted in Books, Travel, University life with tags , , , , on March 12, 2016 by xi'an

Besides the fantastic No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which takes place in Botswana, Alexander McCall Smith has also written another series located in Edinburgh and featuring Isabel Dalhousie, a philosopher plus occasional detective. While the detective story is light to the point of being evanescent (and me losing interest by the middle of the book), the book The comforts of a muddy Saturday was still pleasant to re-read as Isabel is the editor of a philosophy academic journal, Review of Applied Ethics, and reflects on her duties as editor as well as brings philosophical musings into the novel.

“In fact, sometimes we publish papers that I suspect next to nobody reads.”

There is also a somewhat melancholic tone to the book in that it takes place at a time when submissions and replies were sent by regular mails, and faxes were for administrative aspects and only those. The description of Isabel’s duties is such that I am not convinced she needs 37 hours per week (!) to handle the submissions and editorial duties connected with the journal, although she ponders and hesitates so much before sending a particularly poor piece on the trolley dilemma that this may indeed end up in a full time job! Light reading for a rainy Saturday afternoon, then…