The 3 Most Unconventional Angpau (Red Packet) Ever!

This is the time of the year when you wished that you are not married and if you are single, you should be proud of your status as well. This is the time of the year when you will be making money almost every single day during Chinese New Year while you watch your parents sweat over those big fat Angpaus.

I’m writing today’s post to 3 different categories of people:

1) If you are still single and young, please request from your parents ‘The 3 Most Unconventional Angpau (Red Packet) Ever!’

2) If you are a parent, please consider my proposal to give your children ‘The 3 Most Unconventional Angpau (Red Packet) Ever!’

3) If you are my parents, you should know your son by now!

While most parents prefer giving Ringgits or Dollars as Angpau, my common sense tells me that most parents should be giving their kids assets instead of liabilities. Why is an Angpau a liability? Because most children will be spending their money either buying a new iPhone4, gambling their cash away in Black Jack sessions, and end up with little or no money by the end of March! With the ‘3 Most Unconventional Angpau (Red Packet) Ever!’, you are guaranteed that your child is on his way to be a smart investor.

The following are my recommended ‘3 Most Unconventional Angpau (Red Packet) Ever!’:

1) Good valued stocks

When I was approaching the age of 21, my parents asked me for my greatest wish for my 21st Birthday, I did not request for a new car, new handphone or a big fat angpau filled with cash. Instead, I requested for a lot of iCapital stock which was trading at around RM1.26 at that time. The main reason why I was so enthusiastic about iCapital was the fact that it was the only Close-End Fund that was listed on Bursa Malaysia which I regarded it as the Berkshire Hathaway of Malaysia. Also, I had huge admiration for the owner of iCap, Mr. Tan Teng Boo, who was well known for his critical writing and constant criticism of Malaysia’s past mismanagements, white elephant projects and poor economic policies. I regard Tan Teng Boo as one of the best fund managers in the world! Today, iCapital is trading at RM2.15 and my ‘Unconventional Angpau’ has almost doubled its value!

2) Gold

When you understand the history of money and currency, you will soon realise that those papers that you are slotting into the red packets are just Fiat Currency, a paper money that depreciates in value in the long run. Why give a depreciating asset to your loved ones when you can give your child an asset that never depreciates in value – Gold & Silver!

In Alan Greenspan’s exact words in his 1966 writings on Gold & Economic Freedom, he said, “Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the ‘hidden ‘confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as protection of property rights.”

My warning however is this.. Please do not acquire precious metals as an investment for making money. Precious metals are simply the only monetary asset, where you can safely store wealth outside of the Fiat Currency (Collapsing debt-based paper money).

3) Silver

Few weeks ago, I had an enquiry from a friend who mentioned that he wanted to buy silver but his mother stated that Bible only values Gold as a precious metal, meaning silver doesn’t have value. The fact is gold & silver was mentioned 487 times in the Bible!

Some references for you will be:

Job 23:10

Psalms 19:9-10

Proverbs 8:12-21;1

Revelation 3:17-18

Daniel 11:43

In fact, China is pushing the idea of silver investment to the general population. Think about it… if 1.3 billion Chinese citizens start investing in silver, even in tiny quantities, imagine what that will do to the price of silver in the near future! At the same time, imagine 1.3 billion people wanting electric lights, cars, mobile phones, laptops and everything else that we have taken for granted, that would be an incredible amount of silver supply needed in electronics to meet daily increasing demand. What do you think that will do to the silver price in the not too distant future?

Divorce – The Tragedy of Broken Marriages

The institution of Marriage today is not considered an exclusive covenant ’till death do us part.’ Couples flout their vows with no sense of guilt or remorse, and are mindless of the disillusionment that divorce leaves in its wake. In the last fifty years rates have trebled, with a higher incidence among young people. Since 2000, the divorce rates in the first year have gone up by 30%. Seven out of ten couples are between 20-35 years. 40% are childless, showing that divorce has taken place early in marriage. As ‘living in’ is the fashion of the day, married couples will soon become a minority. Living-in offers pleasure without responsibility, and the liberty to walk away or change partners when problems arise. Recent divorce statistics show that 20% of marriages end in divorce, 20% live in a hostile relationship, 20% live under the same roof but with no love lost between them, 20% pretend to be a loving couple, and only 20% are happily married.

Why does divorce happen?

o Immaturity: Young people hastily enter marriage without understanding the meaning or the responsibility it involves. It is a covenant relationship which should not be entered into lightly or broken hastily. It has to be worked on daily through mutual commitment, trust and love for each other. Every marriage has divorce potential. Unless partners work together on a daily basis to strengthen the marriage bond, the relationship is doomed. Emotional immaturity, innate selfishness, or taking each other for granted, can disengage partners and send them scurrying in opposite directions. Those brought up in loveless homes do not have the emotional talent required to strengthen the relationship. “Psychological Immaturity is the key to marital failure,” says Jack Dominion in his book ‘Marital Breakdown.’

o Pressure points that contribute to divorce:

-Money or the lack of it is often the cause of contention. Lavish lifestyles which money can buy also lead to temptations like infidelity, alcohol, drugs or gambling. Lack of money brings frustration, anger or recrimination. Love is put to the test in adversity.

– In-laws: Too much interference in a young couple’s life can be disastrous. That is why the Bible counsels to ‘leave’ parents psychologically and emotionally and ‘cleave’ to one’s spouse.

– Lack of quality time together. The absentee-husband syndrome due to long hours of work, shift duty, domestic or international travel, can leave partners lonely. The stay-at-home partner feels neglected, and an idle mind as they say, is the devil’s workshop. The relationship can teeter or snap.

-Overdependence on the spouse is burdensome.

-Failure to address problems promptly lets them fester in the mind and assume gigantic proportions.

o Change in marital equations:

-With the empty-nest syndrome in middle age, spouses especially women, feel free to follow their own aspirations. They become intoxicated with the possibility of freedom and seek other avenues which bring satisfaction.

-Economic freedom of women makes them intolerant to the perceived shortcomings of their husbands. Men are made to feel redundant. Role conflicts create dissatisfaction in partners.

o Sexual Freedom: Mira Kirschenbaum controversial writer makes a mockery of marriage in her book, “When Good People Have Affairs.” Of adultery she says, “If your marriage is in cardiac arrest, an affair is a defibrillator.”

But the Bible cautions, “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure.”(Heb.13:4) Liberated women want to be as sexy as men. When there’s dissatisfaction with the spouse, they feel justified in seeking pleasure elsewhere.

o Provision of the law: Divorce is now very easy. More women than men are asking for divorce. Men refer to them as ‘alimony drones’ because they are assured of life long financial support from their divorced husbands. The same applies to men who live off the alimony they receive from working wives.

Divorce by mutual consent or the ‘Casanova Charter’ permits divorce to those who urgently need it, without any accusations or counter accusations.

o Premarital non-disclosure about important issues like genetic or mental illness, previous marriage, educational qualifications, job status, homosexuality or habits like drugs or alcohol, can be a source of friction between spouses when the truth is out.

o Domination or intimidation by one partner through threats, violence, emotional or sexual abuse.

o Direct conflict between partners who express themselves destructively either by abusive language or fisticuffs.

Effects of Divorce:

This is a tragic crisis that can hit a family sociologically and psychologically. Psychologists say it is almost like bereavement and just as hurtful. The aggrieved spouse goes through stages of anger, denial and a phase of acute loneliness. Anxiety and depression may follow. Some even develop suicidal tendencies. In others, the desire for revenge is so strong that they may resort to besmirching the reputation of the spouse. Sometimes revenge can get physical like beating up a person or throwing acid on the face to cause permanent damage.

Effects on Children:

When divorce turns messy and ugly, the self esteem of children takes a bashing. They become cynical and distrust adult relationships especially when parents wrangle over finance and division of possessions. Repercussions may not surface until adolescence. Many have behavioral problems and inability to relate positively to people. If not properly counseled they might even develop borderline personality disorders. One survey of the 9/11 tragedy showed that the suicide bombers came from dysfunctional families and broken homes. Even Sadam Hussain was said to have grown up in a single parent family, until his mother remarried. But the step father only multiplied his problems.

Children from divorced families show higher divorce rates in their own lives. The environment in which they have grown up may be the cause, as they have difficulty in communicating their feelings, difficulty to forgive others, are insecure and often succumb to episodes of depression.

Hints to make marriage divorce-proof:

o Choice of a good partner. Never jumping into marriage capriciously but choosing someone who is mature, compatible, God fearing, and has a good character. The partner should be willing to make a commitment towards preserving the union and working hard at it. Norman Wright says, “Marriage is a total commitment to the total person for the total life.” Partners who work in tandem don’t fall off their perches. Interdependence has great value.

o Good communication style. Couples should argue constructively not like enemies, but as friends who only have the good of each other at heart. No marriage is perfect. Conflicts arise from time to time and must be discussed with integrity and courage. Resolution should be the aim. In about 40% of cases selfishness is the cause. Individual rights need not take priority over the marriage commitment.

o Honesty and Fidelity. The ‘one flesh’ bond should be maintained mentally, physically and emotionally.

o Praying together will make God work wonders and point to the proper direction to take.

Professor Howard Markham says that in 9 out of 10 cases, divorces can be predicted even before the couple marries. The way they relate to each other, trade insults, refuse to see the other’s point of view and lack of healthy communication skills are indications that the marriage is doomed.

Times when divorce is unavoidable:

– Repeated infidelity, when the exclusive covenant of marriage is broken through extramarital liaisons on a regular basis.

– Excessive violence which can be life threatening to the spouse and children. It may occur under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

– Incurable mental instability that disturbs the peace in the family.

However, divorce should not be the first option but the last resort, when every other avenue has been tried. Litigation brings about disintegration of the family, in which both parties suffer.

How to Play Dreidel

The Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top that Jewish people play with during the eight-day winter holiday of Chanukah. Each side of the Dreidel shows a letter of the Hebrew alphabet- Nun, Gimmel, Hay and Shin; together the letters form the acronym “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” meaning “A great miracle happened there”. The letters also form a mnemonic for the rules of the game.

All players sit around a flat surface and the games pieces (chocolates, coins, raisins etc) are divided evenly between all the players. Everyone takes a turn to spin the Dreidel and the one with the “highest” letter begins (Nun is considered the highest, then Gimmel, then Hey, then Shin). Everyone puts on game piece into the centre of the playing area. The one who goes first spins and play continues in a clockwise direction.

If the Dreidel lands on Nun absolutely nothing happens. Yes, really! Nun stands for the Yiddish word “nul” which means zero.

If the Dreidel lands on Gimmel you take whatever game pieces are in the centre of the paying area- all of them. Gimmel stands for “gantz”, the Yiddish word meaning whole. After such a move, everyone puts one game piece into the middle of the playing area and play continues.

If the Dreidel lands on Hay, you take half of whatever is in the centre of the playing area. Hay stands for “halb” meaning half.

If the Dreidel lands on Shin you have to put a game piece into the centre of the playing area. Shin stands for “shenk” meaning give.

Interesting Facts about the Dreidel

· The name Dreidel is Yiddish and comes from the word “dreyen” meaning “to turn”.

· The Hebrew name for Dreidel is “Sevivon”coming from the Hebrew word meaning “to turn”

· The Hebrew word “Sevivon” was invented by the son of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who was responsible for rejuvenating the ancient Hebrew language into the modern Hebrew language that is spoken today. His son, Itamar was five years old when he invented the word.

· In 1993, US astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman took a Dreidel and Menorah on his Space Shuttle mission.

· The Dreidel game is based on a European gambling game.

· Alternative Yiddish names for the Dreidel are fargls, varfl (meaning “something thrown”), shtel ein (meaning “put in”) and gor gorin (meaning “all”).

· There is an opinion that the four letters on the Dreidel symbolize the four exiles that the nation of Israel were subjected to- Babylonia, Persia, Greece and Rome.

5 False Similarities Between Large Christian Churches and Casinos

A church is the body of Christ for the edification of the people of God and so far as this definition is not accurately followed, it is no more a church. Even the Bible made it known that on the last days, false prophets shall rise up and try to deceive the chosen ones of God. If such people manifest, then you should know that they are AGAINST God and hence whatever establishments they have is obviously not a church. The church has no functional similarity with a casino is any way.

1. “They use large buildings to operate which are usually strategically located off the large freeways or on well-traveled city streets”. Hmm! Maybe it’s true, but only in the united states or more specifically’ in Nevada. And more closely, maybe Las Vega in particular. Whoever thinks this is true should go to Ukraine, The villages in the western part of Ukraine have large monumental churches and be sure to see more of this in other countries.

2. “Churches and casinos usually have high profile charismatic people working within them”. So what is wrong with this? Is it a crime for high-profile charismatic people to worship God? If statistics would be taken, it will show that more than 70% of such congregations are formed by the middle class and below. But nobody seem to talk abut them. High profile people shop in large supermarkets also, they eat in large restaurants and as well lodge in large Hotels, and hence all these establishments are similar to the casino. Not just the church. If you really mean ‘work’ then define what you mean by high profile charismatic people. This is because I cannot imagine someone in the caliber of a Governor or a Minister, or a Multimillionaire, even a Billionaire working in a casino. The only thing which will take such people to a casino is to shake their ‘fat-oily’ wallets a little. So, which ever way this point directs to, it is baseless.

3. “Each one of these organizations uses groups to help individuals create solutions to their problems”. Do the various casinos have groups to solve their customer’s problems? This is false! These groups only use that means to make their customers remain. If this is the case, the customer’s problems are not solved, especially for a gambling addict. But as for the church, we all need God in our Lives and no matter how large a church is, even with thousands of Worshippers, if you are met, even to your door step, won’t you feel loved? You’ll know you are not left out and definitely would want to come back. After all, Hotels, large organizations, banks, companies and even large established markets have small groups in charge of customer care in charge of different categories of problems, why not also compare the church with these places? All in all, the casino find means to worsen your problem for their own gain (even if they do have these small groups), but the Church go after your spiritual needs for your own good and edification.

4. “Most of their followers seem to be dependent on the products they are offering”. It is totally wrong and grossly ignorant to think there is a product the church has to offer. The church as a building is a meeting place to believers for edification, encouragement, showing love and above all worshipping God. The Pastor and the rest of the congregation are all there for the same Purpose. The pastor as well gets ministered through the choir ministration, or maybe some drama, testimonies and other aspects, which is why it is earlier defined as a place for the edification of believers.

5. “You find people praying in churches and casinos”. This is a laughable point. And the point further says “praying for something they want to receive from God” Do people pray in the casino? This is absurd. Some people just want to paint the Church black by attributing it with casinos. This is an indirect or somewhat a direct slap. You can also pray in schools to pass exams, even in the market to find a particular scarce brand of product you want to buy, in the train to avoid accident or get to work safely, and you can go on and on and on.

The casino is meant for gambling while the church is meant for the collective worship by Christians to God and hence no similarities whatsoever between these two establishments. If we would use the points above, then we can be rational enough to say that the church has similarities with almost all large establishments where you can meet, pray, hope, have small groups and have the affluent attending.

Thirukkural By Thiruvalluvar

Thirukkural, meaning ‘Sacred couplet,’ is a Tamil Classic written by Saint Thiruvalluvar. The author is said to have lived sometime between the 1st century BC and the 8th century AD. It’s the only literature translated into many of the world languages. The verses hold a treasure of principles and information that can be applied for any occasions, fields and times, irrespective of religion and race.

Thirukkural has three main sections as Righteousness, Resources or Wealth, and Love and Happiness. Under the above three categories, 1330 couplets have been arranged serially into 133 chapters of ten each. The names of the chapters are self-explanatory to understand what the author wanted to preach and guide.

In keeping with the land’s tradition, the book starts out with ‘Praise of God’ as the first chapter. Author emphasizes the fact man cannot take pride in his self, but appreciates the omniscient and omnipresent Almighty. Without God, it is impossible to lead a happy life. Under ‘Rain’s importance’ chapter, the value of rain and water is highlighted. Without water, the life on earth becomes impossible and chaotic. The significance of righteousness is amply explained in the chapter ‘Value of Integrity.’

What are the essential ingredients of a happy life? How to conduct ourselves towards it? Chapters under ‘Domestic Life and its virtues ‘ provide the detailed answers. Getting Children, Possessing love, Hospitality, Pleasing talks, Gratitude, Impartiality, Humility, Realizing Truth, etc. Are some of the subjects discussed nicely. Virtues or attitudes that make a true and happy life are treated under the topics like Patience, Envy, Evil deeds, Kindness, Nonviolence, Penance, Honesty, Veracity, Anger, Renunciation, Fate, etc..

The ways and means of wealth are explained through the chapters of Able King, Education, Positive Attitude, Laziness, Time Awareness, Judgement, Power of Action, Administration, Need for Army and Fortification, Friendship, Hatred, Enemy, Gambling, Perfectness, Courtesy, Hostility, Medicine, Remembrance, etc.. The value of time cannot be expressed more beautifully than by the couplet reproduced here below.

Who think the pendant world itself to subjugate, with mind unruffled for the fitting time, must wait.

The author has defined the love and sex, depicted the signs of love, delineated the methods of seduction, seclusion and reunion by scripting 250 verses under the third part of his work named ‘ Love and Joy.’ Premarital and post-marital love is described in an absorbing and elegant style: By reading these couplets, one is certain to get sensual feelings instantly.

It’s amazing to find that Thiruvalluvar had such a vision and ingenuity to present the invaluable and enduring tips and principles of life in a sleek and crisp two-lined verses. A translated version cannot match the original work. One should learn the language in which the literature is written, to admire and understand the classic like Thirukkural.

The Unthinkable – Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why by Amanda Ripley

“The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why” by Amanda Ripley is a fascinating look at the human response to disasters. This excellent book not only describes some of what happened, but look closely at the “why” people respond the way they do in such situations. As Gavin De Becker, author of “The Gift of Fear” states on the front cover, “‘The Unthinkable’ isn’t merely a book about disaster; it’s a book about survival – maybe yours.”

The book consists of an introduction titled “Life Becomes Like Molten Metal” and then eight chapters divided into three parts.

Part one, Denial, includes the chapters Delay: Procrastinating in Tower 1 and Risk: Gambling in New Orleans. Part two, Deliberation, contains three chapters: Fear: The Body and Mind of a Hostage, Resilience: Staying Cool in Jerusalem, and Groupthink: Role Playing at the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire. Part three, The Decisive Moment, has the final three chapters: Panic: A Stampede on Holy Ground, Paralysis: Playing Dead in French Class, and Heroism: A Suicide Attempt on the Potomac River.

The book concludes with a conclusion titled “Making New Instincts.” Each section of the book consists of not only information on the human condition being addressed, but stories of actual people and what transpired during different disasters. Some of the stories of the heroics displayed during these times are quite moving.

I really enjoyed this book, and appreciate the time and reporting Amanda Ripley put into it. The stories keep your attention and the lessons you can learn from this book just may save your life if you are ever unfortunate enough to be caught in a disaster. The book reinforced some of my habits such as always reading the safety instruction card when I board an airplane, along with looking around and noting the exits, as well as made me think of other habits I can develop to better prepare myself for the worst.

For a fascinating look at disasters and how they effect people, combined with some lessons that may help you if you ever face one, I recommend you read “The Unthinkable” by Amanda Ripley.

The 12 Steps To Recovery From Sex Addiction

Recovering from a sex addiction requires adhering to a 12 step program. Such programs have become synonymous with people’s efforts to change their lives and behaviors, and have been applied to everything including over-eating, sex, compulsive gambling, and drug addiction.

The original 12 step program was published by Alcoholics Anonymous in the late 1930s to treat addiction to alcohol. Since then, it has been adapted and directed towards other forms of addiction and compulsive behaviors and has been recognized by the American Psychological Foundation. Small details within each 12 step program change depending on what’s being treated, but all follow the same template. While there is debate on what defines addiction, many agree that the brain becomes dependent on chemicals either imbibed (alcohol) or produced naturally through a behavior, such as sex or gambling.

The 12 Steps:

Step one is the sex addict admitting they have no power over their sex addiction and that their lives have gotten out of control. This step essentially defines a sex addiction, a situation where a person no longer can control their sexual behavior despite it causing them problems. This may sound facetious, but if a sex addict could control their behavior, they would not be an addict. Admitting powerlessness also opens the door to getting outside help. A person with a broken leg does not try to mend it on their own, they call a doctor because they do not have the skills to heal themselves. It is no different with a sex addiction.

Step two is acknowledging there is a “higher power” that can help the addict with their addiction. This and the next step may be two of the least understood, as “higher power” generally refers to God. While many going through the 12 step program turn to the Christian faith, anything can serve as the higher power. A person can look to the sun, a favorite object, anything they can mentally equate with a power above themselves. Some neurologists have said the human brain is hardwired towards religion, and because of this it can be used as a powerful tool in influencing behavior.

A higher power plays the role of a neutral yet supportive third part in the sex addict’s life. It is not the addicts themselves, nor is it their therapist, nor is it a loved one the addict may have wronged or someone who will judge them.

The third step is giving themselves over to that higher power, as they understand it. Many sex addicts begin reading the Bible and attending religious services of their faith. Others will take up a different spiritual text as their understand of their higher power. The book or the faith or belief is not important here, what is important is that the reliance on self get turned over to a reliance on a higher power. Most religions have set guidelines on sexual conduct, as well as other aspects of life, and make for a ready made code of conduct a person can adhere to, at least until their lives are under their control once more.

Step four is where the sex addict gets to the “nitty gritty” of their problem and comes to see what it looks like from the outside by completing a “moral inventory” of themselves. This inventory documents their life and how and when their sexual habits, failings, and other common behaviors began in an effort to see the big picture and have an accurate understanding of what it is. Typically, a deadline is put on this step, as many addicts tend to get hung up on it, either because they find it difficult to examine themselves this way, or feel the need to be too thorough.

The fifth step involves taking that inventory and showing it to someone else, either a spouse, sponsor, clergy or trusted confidant, or even another sex addict further along in their treatment. This is done for a number of reasons. If a sex addict can share this, it means they are comfortable with it to a degree and will be able to open up further because seeing the behavior inventory may not be enough to let the sex addict truly see their problem or recognize patterns in their behavior. When it comes to the familiar, an addict sees what they intend rather than what really is. It’s the same as when an athlete needs a coach to check their stance or swing or attitude for their sport. So the sex addict needs another pair of eyes on their moral inventory to catch things and gain feedback from a different perspective.

Steps six and seven of the original Alcoholics Anonymous version are asking the higher power or God to remove the addict’s defects and to forgive them. Other, more secular minded versions describe these steps as similar transition periods. The sex addict goes from identifying the problem to recognizing that they, themselves, are now past that stage and can now expend energy enacting change. The addict is taught to see that the mistakes have been made cannot be unmade, and wishing to change the past is a waste of energy. While it’s not a “clear slate,” it is a shift of focus onto the present, which can be affected by the sex addict.

Step eight, while at first may seem like a look back, is actually for the addict to compile a list of people their sex addiction has harmed. This may be family they’ve neglected, spouses cheated on, and in extreme cases, victims of their sexual abuse. This step is sometimes broken down into smaller segments, identifying the types of relationships harmed by the sex addiction. In the case of deceased loved ones or people the addict cannot have contact with, this step serves as an emotional release by further letting the addict see the extent of the damage their behavior has caused.

The ninth step is an extension of the eighth, and involves making amends with the people identified in that step, when possible. It could be something as simple as a verbal apology, and may not be something that can be accomplished in a moment, a day, or even months. This step is distinctive to the individuals involved, and not completely possible in all cases.

Step 10 is continuing the list from step five, and admitting when a mistake has been made. This can expand beyond sexual behavior and include any kind of non-desirable actions or emotions. Negative feelings are what led the sex addict to compulsively seek the numbing behavior to start with. And being able to identify those trouble spots and handle them in a way that doesn’t feed a new addiction cycle is key. Sex addiction often comes with other forms of addiction, or can spin off into those other forms if the root cause is not being monitored.

Prayer and meditation are Step 11 in the program. Many call prayer and meditation one and the same, but whichever route the sex addict chooses, they should set aside time each day for quiet reflection. A daily pause is used as an anchor to keep the complexities of the addict’s outside world from becoming overwhelming. This step lets the sex addict remind themselves of their progress and the tools they have to fight their compulsions.

The final step is working with other sex addicts, or passing on some of the knowledge the addict has gained. The selfless side of this is ensures a pool of experienced teachers well versed in the subject matter who can perpetuate the program. The benefit to the addict doing the teaching is the same as to teacher; the one imparting the wisdom in turn learns more about what they’ve come to know. Having to articulate to another person what one has learned makes a person think about benefits in ways they hadn’t before, and leads to greater understanding.

Those are the basic 12 steps found in addiction recovery programs. Many are closely related, but together they show a progression. It should be noted this programs not a “do these 12 things and you’re cured” prescription, but at the higher levels are a lifelong set of behaviors. They may play a less active role in the recovering sex addict’s life as time goes on, but the inventory, meditation, and teaching tend to be in the background for a long time.

The Symbol Of The Skull: Subculture Or Pop Culture

These days, we see the skull symbol emblazoned on everything from toddler socks to nightclub wear. In any American mall, youth specialty store or discount store, one can see it’s image in many forms. Jewelry, jackets, tee-shirts and other apparel sparkling with rhinestone or other artistic depictions. Heads aren’t not just for Halloween, any more!

Why all the interest? Skulls are hardly a sign of rebellion or devil worship, nowadays. Once a powerful symbol of death and intellectualism, the bony remains of the human head are now cliche, maybe even boring. Too mainstream for a true biker and and so ordinary, even in its many artistic depictions, that it doesn’t even satisfy the morbid curiosity of your average grade school student.

Skull imagery has long been associated with death and it’s transcendence; human spirituality, if you will. It is a reminder of our mortality, the transitory nature of life and by its existence after the end of chronological life, the limitations of human knowledge and understanding.

Skulls have also been given magical properties and religious significance throughout mankind’s existence. Skull necklaces have been worn by the people of many cultures to ward off evil deities, or alternatively, by the gods themselves, to communicate wrath and misfortune to those who oppose them. Christians associate skulls with penitent sainthood and the washing away of human sin. Freemasons use the emblem to symbolize their organization’s hierarchy, in addition to the transience of materialism.

Interestingly, the bones of the human head are more often expressed as icons of good luck or resurrection, than bad luck. The misfortune of death is ultimately followed by the possibility of final liberation in native American and Mexican folklore. The Day of the Dead, a popular Mexican tradition, celebrates the passing of ancestors and relatives, by the wearing of skulls in jewelry, as well as cranial consumption in fabulously morbid confections! Along the same lines, skulls may be used as gambling talisman, believed to reverse bad luck and symbolize luck in adversity, similar to black cats and the number seven, in gambling lore.

Most of us know skulls as emblems of danger, as depicted on a bottle of poison; hate as depicted at the entrance to Nazi death camps or fear, as expressed by the apocolyptic iconograpy displayed on tee-shirts. This symbolic artistry no longer inspires horror but can still draw attention to a myriad of social causes or antisocial angst, so wear your skulls proudly and let the rest of us guess at your message!

The Stormy Relationship Between Beethoven and His Young Nephew Karl

It can be stated with relative ease that Beethoven’s life was not easy. Throughout all his troubles however one situation in particular stands out, his relationship with his nephew Karl. It was the source of much misery, wasted energy and lost time.

Beethoven’s relationship with his brothers, of which he had 2, was never a peaceful one. When Beethoven’s brother, Kaspar, died in 1815 Ludwig took on the responsibility of taking full time care of his young nephew Karl. A number of bitter custody battles ensued with the boys natural mother however Beethoven was successful in the courts to secure the full and exclusive rights for the guardianship of Karl.

Beethoven poured many of this future hopes, dreams and plans into making the boy something he was simply not. It is said that Karl had a difficult personality anyway and there was always a lot of friction between the two causing them both much pain and heartache. It was a case of two immovable objects colliding.

The combined pressure of failing to live up to his uncles grand expectations along with gambling debts he couldn’t pay led Karl to attempt suicide at the age of 22 by shooting himself. He survived but the relationship between them had been damaged forever. In the saddest of endings Karl joined the Austrian army and it was the last time Beethoven would ever see him.

There is in fact a famous book which demonstrates there relationship living in a house together. The book is entirely fact and made up of the scrapbooks Karl would write on in order to communicate with his deaf uncle. They reveal a stormy relationship but also show genuine moments of loving care and consideration plus no small amount of humor. For much of the time that Beethoven devoted himself to bringing up Karl he composed nothing, not a single note for years.

The Unofficial History of Cribbage and Sir John Suckling

One of England’s greatest contributions to Western Civilization is the card game Cribbage, at least in the opinion of avid Cribbage players. Sir John Suckling is the one responsible for bringing us the game that we love today. Although there is no evidence to truly prove that Sir John Suckling was the creator of Cribbage, he is, at the very least, the one responsible for publishing and spreading the game all through the land.

Sir John Suckling, poet, playwright, master bowler/gambler and notorious womanizer, was born at Whitton, between Twickenham and Hounslow, Middlesex, on February 10, 1609. He was born into a very prominent family in England, although after his mother died when he was four years of age, his father was in charge of rearing the young child. His father was a member of the English Parliament and was the “controller” of the King’s household until his untimely death in 1627. Sir John was at the age of 18 when his father passed and was old enough to inherit his father’s considerably large estate. After receiving the inheritance he spent countless amount of money traveling, womanizing and of course gambling.

In 1623 he enrolled in Trinity College, Cambridge and then to Gray’s Inn in 1627. At the young age of 18, he pursued a military career and joined the army of Gustavus Adolphus during the Thirty Years’ War. At the age of 21, King Charles I knighted Suckling. The king quickly regretted the decision, so Suckling left the court and became involved in several different military adventures. He was said to have served in an expedition against France and it has been said that he fought in Lord Wimbledon’s regiments in the Dutch service. In October 1631, Sir John joined Sir Henry Vane who was serving under Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden. In 1632, Suckling quickly came back into King Charles’s good graces after delivering the dispatches, by orders of Vane, and after completing his mission he returned and remained in England.

After that he pretty much filled his time gambling, womanizing, and serving in the military for the rest of the decade. This is where he was said to have invented the beloved game of cribbage, which had some similar features to the games, Noddy and One-and-Thirty. Although when the Scottish war of 1639 began, he left his beloved cards and women to raise a troop of 100 horsemen and his army joined King Charles in the north. When the war ended, peacefully, in 1639, Sir John returned to London. He was elected to Parliament in 1640, but in May 1641 he was involved in a vain attempt to free a political prisoner, Thomas Wentworth, the earl of Stratford and held in the Tower of London. Sir John Suckling was then charged with treason and had to flee to France with very few belongings and almost no financial assistance, to avoid arrest.

In order to establish some kind of financial security in one of his darkest hours, Suckling started selling a large number of marked packs of cards and distributed them amongst the richest population in the region. He then started playing cards where the marked cards were distributed. In 1642, it was believed that Sir John Suckling committed suicide by taking poison. It has been said that his greatest accomplishments were the lyrics to “why so pale” and “wan fond lover?” and for Cribbage, which has changed very little since Suckling’s day and is one of the most popular card games in the English speaking world.