A European Christmas

Written by C. Bailey-Lloyd/LadyCamelot

A European Christmas by C. Bailey-Lloyd

Withrepparttar holidays right aroundrepparttar 110040 corner, it's hard not to reminisce our childhood memories and holidays of yesteryear. In each culture, there are differing values and traditions which are celebrated in different ways.

Duringrepparttar 110041 70's, growing up 'German' in Europe was one ofrepparttar 110042 most fascinating and magical decades. Having strong German roots, our family participated in many German Christmas traditions. One of those traditions was Advent. The Advent, or Christmas calendar, is picture-box calendar decorated with wintry & Christmas scenes, biblical characters and 'St. Nicolas.' Onrepparttar 110043 face ofrepparttar 110044 calendar, are 24 small doors, each containing a small chocolate - one opened each day forrepparttar 110045 holiday season. The December 24th door, which isrepparttar 110046 'Heiligabend' (Christmas Eve) is usuallyrepparttar 110047 largest door onrepparttar 110048 calendar and most often contains a chocolate Nativity. As children, we relished in this fun, and tasty feature ofrepparttar 110049 holiday season.

But Advent wasn't simply comprised ofrepparttar 110050 Holiday Calendar, we also partook inrepparttar 110051 Advent Wreath, or 'Adventskranz' which was beautifully displayed on tables throughoutrepparttar 110052 house. Wreathes held 4 candles;repparttar 110053 first candle being litrepparttar 110054 fourth Sunday before Christmas, and another one each Sunday thereafter. Aroundrepparttar 110055 evergreen wreath of candles, our family would gather as each candle was meticulously lit. My mom would recite a simple, German passage each time she would light a candle:

"Advent, Advent Ein Kerzlein brent. Erst Eins, den Zwei, den Drei, den Vier - den steht der Christkind vor der tur."

Which translates into, 'Advent, Advent, a candle burns. First one, then two, then three, then four - then standsrepparttar 110056 Christ Child beforerepparttar 110057 door.'

For you see, in Germany, it isrepparttar 110058 'Christkind' (Christ Child) who brings gifts on Christmas Eve.

Another childhood pastime was St. Nikolaustag Nikolaustag (St. Nicholas Day) was a fun and lighthearted tradition whereby children everywhere anxiously awaitedrepparttar 110059 arrival of December 6th whenrepparttar 110060 Nikolaus, or Weinachtsmann (Santa Claus) came. Leading up to Nikolaustag, we children would have to behave very well, because St. Nikolaus could 'see everything' we did. Andrepparttar 110061 night before December 6th, we would have to clean our winter boots meticulously to put outside our doors. Whyrepparttar 110062 heck would we clean our boots and place them outside our doors? Well, I'll tell you why - if we were good, and our boots were really clean, St. Nikolaus would stuff our boots with candies, little toys and chocolates. If we were bad, we would receive a bundle of switches or lumps of coal.

Being John Malkovich

Written by Sam Vaknin

A quintessential loser, an out-of-job puppeteer, is hired by a firm, whose offices are ensconced in a half floor (literally. The ceiling is about a metre high, reminiscent of Taniel's hallucinatory Alice in Wonderland illustrations). By sheer accident, he discovers a tunnel (a "portal", in Internet-age parlance), which sucks its visitors intorepparttar mind ofrepparttar 110039 celebrated actor, John Malkovich. The movie is a tongue in cheek discourse of identity, gender and passion in an age of languid promiscuity. It poses allrepparttar 110040 right metaphysical riddles and pressesrepparttar 110041 viewers' intellectual stimulation buttons.

A two line bit of dialogue, though, formsrepparttar 110042 axis of this nightmarishly chimerical film. John Malkovich (played by himself), enraged and bewildered byrepparttar 110043 unabashed commercial exploitation ofrepparttar 110044 serendipitous portal to his mind, insists that Craig,repparttar 110045 aforementioned puppet master, cease and desist with his activities. "It is MY brain" - he screams and, with a typical American finale, "I will see you in court". Craig responds: "But, it was I who discoveredrepparttar 110046 portal. It is my livelihood".

This apparently innocuous exchange disguises a few very unsettling ethical dilemmas.

The basic question is "whose brain is it, anyway"? Does John Malkovich OWN his brain? Is one's brain - one's PROPERTY? Property is usually acquired somehow. Is our brain "acquired"? It is clear that we do not acquirerepparttar 110047 hardware (neurones) and software (electrical and chemical pathways) we are born with. But it is equally clear that we do "acquire" both brain mass andrepparttar 110048 contents of our brains (its wiring or irreversible chemical changes) through learning and experience. Does this process of acquisition endow us with property rights?

It would seem that property rights pertaining to human bodies are fairly restricted. We have no right to sell our kidneys, for instance. Or to destroy our body throughrepparttar 110049 use of drugs. Or to commit an abortion at will. Yet,repparttar 110050 law does recognize and strives to enforce copyrights, patents and other forms of intellectual property rights.

This dichotomy is curious. For what is intellectual property but a mere record ofrepparttar 110051 brain's activities? A book, a painting, an invention arerepparttar 110052 documentation and representation of brain waves. They are mere shadows, symbols ofrepparttar 110053 real presence - our mind. How can we reconcile this contradiction? We are deemed byrepparttar 110054 law to be capable of holding full and unmitigated rights torepparttar 110055 PRODUCTS of our brain activity, torepparttar 110056 recording and documentation of our brain waves. But we hold only partial rights torepparttar 110057 brain itself, their originator.

This can be somewhat understood if we were to consider this article, for instance. It is composed on a word processor. I do not own full rights torepparttar 110058 word processing software (merely a licence), nor isrepparttar 110059 laptop I use my property - but I posses and can exercise and enforce full rights regarding this article. Admittedly, it is a partial parallel, at best:repparttar 110060 computer and word processing software are passive elements. It is my brain that doesrepparttar 110061 authoring. And so,repparttar 110062 mystery remains: how can I ownrepparttar 110063 article - but not my brain? Why do I haverepparttar 110064 right to ruinrepparttar 110065 article at will - but not to annihilate my brain at whim?

Another angle of philosophical attack is to say that we rarely hold rights to nature or to life. We can copyright a photograph we take of a forest - but notrepparttar 110066 forest. To reduce it torepparttar 110067 absurd: we can own a sunset captured on film - but neverrepparttar 110068 phenomenon thus documented. The brain is natural and life's pivot - could this be why we cannot fully own it?

Wrong premises inevitably lead to wrong conclusions. We often own natural objects and manifestations, including those related to human life directly. We even issue patents for sequences of human DNA. And people do own forests and rivers andrepparttar 110069 specific views of sunsets.

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