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Archived in Culture section

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere

From a US or UK standpoint, Christmas holidays involve snow and ice skating, woollen hats and mittens, hot chocolate, eggnog or mulled wine and lots of decorations featuring Santa and a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

In New Zealand and Australia, however, the Christmas holidays are part of the summer holiday that begins late December and ends at the beginning of February.

In New Zealand, Christmas has traditionally involved the same focus on family coming together for a big meal and emulating the Northern Hemisphere with a roast and even watching the Queen's speech.

Much of the summer holiday meal-preparation involves inviting friends over for a barbecue, but on Christmas day, New Zealanders sometimes make an effort to cook a roast dinner inside and have Christmas pudding as well.

Archived in Animals section

The Mediterranean Monk Seal

Monachus-Monachus - ( Courtesy of WWF )

The Mediterranean monk seal is one of the world's rarest mammals.

The Mediterranean monk seal was one of 14 mammals listed as "in need of emergency action if they are to be saved from extinction" by the International Union for the Protection of Nature (as the IUCN was then called) at its first technical conference in 1949.

One of the difficulties in addressing the conservation of the Mediterranean monk seal is its situation involving so many countries that have mutual political, economic and other social problems.

Many countries have introduced laws protecting the Mediterranean monk seal in the last 30 years. Thus, in theory the protection of the monk seal has been much improved. But, implementation of these laws usually leaves much to be desired. In reality therefore, little has changed.

Archived in Strange World section

Stonehenge a megalithic monument

Stonehenge is a megalithic monument

Stonehenge is surely Britain's greatest national icon, symbolizing mystery, power and endurance. Its original purpose is unclear to us, but some have speculated that it was a temple made for the worship of ancient earth deities. It has been called an astronomical observatory for marking significant events on the prehistoric calendar. Others claim that it was a sacred site for the burial of high-ranking citizens from the societies of long ago.

While we can't say with any degree of certainty what it was for, we can say that it wasn't constructed for any casual purpose. Only something very important to the ancients would have been worth the effort and investment that it took to construct Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is a megalithic monument on the Salisbury Plain in Southern England, composed mainly of thirty upright stones (sarsens, each over ten feet tall and weighing 26 tons), aligned in a circle, with thirty lintels (6 tons each) perched horizontally atop the sarsens in a continuous circle. There is also an inner circle composed of similar stones, also constructed in post-and-lintel fashion.

Archived in Martial Arts section

Tai Ji Quan the Art of Life

Practising Tai Ji Quan is for all

Tai ji quan [chin.: tàijíquán 太极拳] has become very popular in the last twenty years or so. Along with Yoga, tai ji is one of the fastest growing fitness and health maintenance activities in thw world. Tai Ji Quan, or Tai Chi Chuan is an internal Chinese martial art often practiced with the aim of promoting health and longevity. It is actually an effective martial art. Initially, Tai Ji was practiced as a fighting form, emphasizing strength, balance, flexibility, and speed.

Through time it has evolved into a soft, slow, and gentle form of exercise which can be practiced by people of all ages. Tai Ji Quan is considered a soft style martial art [chin.: nèi jīa 內家] — an art applied with internal power — to distinguish its theory and application from that of the hard martial art styles.

Archived in Spiritual section

Past Lives Karma

Who's contronling Karma?

Do you have a past life in which you were persecuted? Were you killed by another person or group of persons? Were you poor because others were rich? Were you abused, raped, or maimed in some violent action from others? Do you have a history of suffering that runs through all or several of your past life recalls? My guess is that you will find lots of suffering as part of your psychic memory bank.

Suffering is a prevailing theme in all of lives. Our religions and mythologies reflect suffering to us as a consistent image. The first Noble Truth of Buddhism blatantly tells us that life is suffering. Christianity provides us with Jesus on the cross as a reminder of the suffering of human existence. The intention of our religions means well.

We are instructed to see suffering first so that we may rise above suffering into some greater level of existence called Heaven or Enlightenment. Ultimately, we are meant to live only in JOY and HAPPINESS here on earth in this lifetime.