6 Winter Holiday Drinks

Four days away from Christmas, people are already tuning into the Winter Holiday mood. Which is great, because the more jolly people around, the less of the usual drama that takes place during the rest of the year (yes, including during the commute home when traffic brings out the best and most sincere parts of people to the surface…).

So, in order to help this feel good and friendly vibe on its way, I’ve wrapped up a few drinks that are perfect for this time of year. I mean, hey, what’s more guaranteed to make someone jolly, giddy and red in the cheeks than a sip of a good beverage fit for the occasion?

So, without further a due, here’s  6 winter holiday drinks that you should consider for the upcoming get-together and parties with your friends and loved ones.

1. Hot Spiced Mead

6 winter holiday drinks - Hot Spiced Mead as pictured here.

Ah, the traditional warmer of the Northern peoples. And not only, as evidence suggests it was prepared all over the world in ancient times and might even be “the ancestor of all fermented drinks,” according to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat.

It is indeed a drink that results from the fermentation of honey and water. A great variety of spices can be added according to taste (cinnamon, star anise, cloves, etc.) as well as extra honey. Heat it up and serve it with good companions for a warm reception.

2. Mulled Wine

One of the 6 winter holiday drinks is mulled wine like that in the photo.

Another classic. Just grab some red wine, add spices and sugar and heat it up.

Depending on how sweet or dry the wine is, you’ll have to greatly adjust the quantity of sugar you add to the wine. Taste it from time to time.

As regards the spices, these may vary. Feel free to experiment and find out what you like. However, you can’t go wrong with cinnamon, as it’s a staple of mulled wine. And has been so throughout the ages and cultures.

3. Christmas Brews

The list of 6 winter holiday drinks includes Christmas Brews like those present in the photo.

Near the Winter Holiday, each year, most breweries put out their Christmas Brew. This is usually special in some way. Either because it is based on a recipe which is more “exotic” than the year-long offerings. Or because (oddly enough and in a blatant show of consumer disregard the rest of the time), the quality of the beer is noticeably higher.

Not to mention that there is a limited number of such beers produced each year, so there’s also the element of scarcity that makes them interesting.

There are many offers available. Just look out for the Christmas Brew of your favorite brewery. Chances are, they make one. And if your family members or buddies are also beer drinkers, it will make for a welcome change.

4. Hot Chocolate With Brandy

6 winter holiday drinks - Hot Chocolate With Brandy

Perfect mix. And mega-warm-up-er. Make any kind of white or black hot chocolate (sweet, bitter, your choice), and then give its warmth factor a few extra miles by adding a good dose of brandy.

Now you probably shouldn’t add so much that it becomes brandy with a touch of chocolate. Just enough to make the brandy noticeable and add its pleasant roughness to the chocolate’s sweetness.

5. Hot Pumpkin Buttered Rum Cocktail

One of the 6 winter holiday drinks is hot pumpkin buttered rum cocktail

It takes just about 5-10 minutes to prepare. And you need just brown sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, butter,  rum and water.

You mix the first three in a blender. Put the result in a cup, add the butter and rum and then pour hot water on top. Presto! A great beverage to keep you warm with an exquisite and intriguing flavor to boot. Not to mention the creaminess.

6. Whiskey

6 winter holiday drinks - Single Malt Whiskey, like those in the photo.

That’s right. There’s nothing like whiskey to keep you energized (and gasping for air as you deal with its strength). I’m talking of course about the traditional, single malt variety. And of high quality brands with decades of tradition.

If you haven’t let yourself sip an excellent single malt whiskey by the fireplace, you don’t know what you’re missing. Try buying a 12 year old (or better still an 18 year old!) Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, hell pretty much anything that has Glen in it (kidding).

It might sound simple because “it’s just whiskey in a glass”, right? But don’t be deceived. These world class whiskeys have tons of flavor and personality. Featuring varied smell, taste and after taste. To give just one intriguing example, if you buy a Lagavulin, most reviewers agree that you can taste a campfire in it – it’s that smokey.

But I guess you’ll have to decide for yourself. Just don’t, by God, put ice, water or anything else in it. Keep it straight. And you’ll be amazed how complex and satisfying it can be.

Cheers! And a happy Winter Holiday!

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

10 Cartoon Characters Who Would Make Better Presidents

There are a lot of people who are not content at all with the candidates for the next presidential elections in 2016. The whole state of the American politics can be considered as truly ridiculous. Neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump managed to convince us that they could lead the United States for the next four years or even more. But there are better options out there which we don’t even think about, such as fictional characters from movies, books or even cartoons. Here are 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents than the current candidates.

1. Johnny Bravo

Johnny Bravo is among the 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents.

You have to admit Johnny Bravo has the charm to convince millions to vote for him. However, he is quite similar to actual candidates, as he isn’t exactly famous for being bright. In today’s society that chooses looks over intelligence, we have to say he would be quite successful.

2. Brian Griffin

Brian Griffin could be the first dog president.

At the opposite pole we have Brian Griffin. Not quite the most beautiful candidate, but still a cute dog, Brian has the smartness necessary for running as president. The White House is in need of more diversity, and maybe a dog president is the change we all need.

3. Samurai Jack

The top 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents includes Samurai Jack.

Discipline and courage, you have them both in the person of Samurai Jack. Who could better lead us than a honorable person who sticks to his goals? Not to mention that he would defend us from all evil threats.

4. Kim Possible

Kim Possible could make anything possible in the U.S.

However, maybe we need someone who is able of doing anything in the world. That would be Kim Possible, the brave teenager who fights against crime. Since our elected officials do not get many things done, perhaps this is the change we need. Who knows what it is like when too many things get done?

5. The Powerpuff Girls

The Powerpuff Girls are included in the top 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents.

Another perfect option would be the Powerpuff girls. No, not Blossom, Buttercup or Bubbles, but all three of them! What one man cannot achieve, maybe three little girls will be able to do. They do have important ideals, as always fighting for evil, so what are we waiting for? We wouldn’t want to end up with a leader who loves evil.

6. Dexter

Dexter would make a fine president with his rare intelligence.

Since we have gone through some various presidents who represented different archetypes, why not continue with a total nerd, who also happens to be a genius? Dexter would surely revolutionize everything, from technology to medicine and science.

7. Elsa

One of the 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents is Elsa from Frozen.

Elsa would be the perfect president who would continuously vouch for freedom and democracy. We can include here the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression, and most of all the freedom of being yourself and not be constrained by society. However, we would probably have to endlessly listen to the “Let It Go” song, so that is a disadvantage.

8. Rick Sanchez

Rick Sanchez would do well as a president, despite being a notorious drunk.

Similar to Dexter, Rick Sanchez would surely make the country a better place. Who can do it better than a guy who has access to all the secrets of the universe? Unless of course he would follow his own selfish interests and ruin it all, as many leaders of the world have done in the past.

9. Bob Belcher

Bob Belcher is one of the 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents.

Another great option to take into consideration is America’s Dad. If we were to choose one of the many characters voiced by H. Jon Benjamin we would go with Bob Belcher. Bob would surely impress many with his wonderful family and small business of burgers.

10. Lisa Simpson

Lisa Simpson is probably the best option for a president.

Last but not least, Lisa Simpson is probably the best choice. She embodies many valuable traits: she is reasonable, opinionated, smart and educated. While she could be a smaller version of Hillary Clinton, we bet she would do a much better job.

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666 Aleister Crowley Life Facts

Kidding. Clearly, 666 facts about Aleister Crowley will not be presented here, as that would take too much space.

Still, a lot of facts about him will be presented, because Aleister Crowley (born Edward Alexander Crowley) is one of the most controversial figures in history and the man he inspired the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s. Which should come as no surprise when taking into consideration that Crowley himself claimed to be The Great Beast whose number is 666, described by John in the Book of Revelations.

Of course, as many who have studied his life and commented on its various aspects point out, one should remember that Crowley was an educated and highly intelligent man, with a gift for words and ample wit who reveled in challenging established social norms and value systems, most notably Christianity, so his words should probably never be taken literally.

Instead, one can see his claim as a metaphorical one. Meaning that, by his thoughts and actions, he represented an opposite to the way of doing things taken for granted in the Western World, a challenger of the status quo.

So, in essence, the Crowley demon persona should be interpreted as him being akin to the Great Beast of Revelations, which has the same function of destroying everything (albeit presumably in a literal manner), but not the actual Beast per se. The same being true of the Aleister Crowley satanist image he has acquired after his death, in more recent times.

So, who was he?

1. Background

Aleister Crowley had a patchy relationship with his mother.

Edward Alexander Crowley was an Englishman born in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK on the 12th of October 1875.

His father was a devout Christian and a travelling preacher for Plymouth Brethren, part of the fundamentalist Christian sect the Exclusive Brethren and a major influence on Aleister Crowley in early life, which explains his later fascination with mysticism and the occult as well as possibly his revolt against Christianity.

He didn’t get along with his mother who described him as “the Beast” which he enjoyed greatly and only served to make him misbehave more.

He studied at Cambridge from 1895 to 1898, initially enrolling to study Philosophy, but then changing to English Literature. While here he wrote poems, expertly played chess and continued to cultivate what would become a life-long passion for mountaineering (including performing his first remarkable mountaineering feats around this time).

It is also speculated that he was recruited by the British secret services while at Cambridge and it seems like he was interested in a career in “diplomacy” in Russia, by his own admission. However, he would abandon such plans in 1897 after a brief illness. And so, he would turn his interest to the occult, which would occupy him for the rest of his life, along with continuing to write poetry, go mountaineering, paint and other pursuits.

2. The HOGD

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is the occult organization Aleister Crowley first took part in.

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was the first time that Aleister Crowley was exposed to an organized group of occultists. He got into the organization by the introduction from Julian L. Baker (a chemist interested in alchemy as Crowley was, which he met while in Switzerland) to George Cecil Jones who was a member of Golden Dawn.

However, it was not meant to be a good, long relationship. Because Crowley’s abrasive personality and pugnacious attitude would manage to irritate some elders of the group, among which Arthur Edward Waite and the renowned poet William Butler Yeats.

When he was initiated, Aleister Crowley was given the magical name “Frater Perdurabo”, which is taken to figuratively mean “Brother, I shall endure to the end”, but in a literal translation from Latin it is simply “Brother Vigor”.

Tying in to the speculation about his secret service recruitment, it is also assumed that he was actually set the task of infiltrating the organization in order to keep an eye on it for the British secret service.

3. Sexuality

Aleister Crowley was a very sexual person.

It definitely plays a major role in all of Crowley’s teachings and the whole system of magick that he built, which will be mentioned below.

But it also played a major role in his everyday life too and can be argued that it has shaped his life in its entirety as well as his psychology, even from a biological point of view.

The thing is, Aleister Crowley started his sex life early, losing his virginity at the age of 14 to a family maid. From that point onward, he continued to be very sexually active, indeed a womanizer, and he was perfectly comfortable with being publicly promiscuous during his whole life, including having frequent sex with prostitutes.

This latter practice led to him getting his first sexual disease (gonorrhea) barely three years after losing his virginity. But it would not be the last. As he also contracted syphilis from a prostitute while a student at Cambridge.

Since syphilis is known to affect the brain in its later development, you can see why the mention above regarding his sexual life being a major influence on his life, as well as his psychology, even from a biological perspective, is a valid point.

And speaking of societal effects of his sexuality on his life, he also discovered his bisexuality early in his youth, (biographers speculate that during his Cambridge years), which is another reason why he was kicked out of the Golden Dawn.

Because, although other members were bisexual or homosexual too, such practices were illegal at the time and Aleister Crowley was not discreet about it.

4. Books, teachings and works

Aleister Crowley invented a whole system of magic and a new religion.

 Probably the most important and famous Aleister Crowley book is Liber AL vel Legis, or “The Book Of The Law”, because that’s where it all started, as concerns Crowley’s major and lasting influence on modern Western occultism and Wicca.

And it was this book that gave rise to the religion that Crowley founded called Thelema (which the English transliteration of the Greek word “will”), whose main tenet is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.

In short, when he was in Egypt with his wife Rose in 1904, Aleister Crowley claims to have come in contact with his guardian angel named Aiwass who, as the messenger of Horus, told Crowley that a new age of mankind has come under this god’s rule, characterized by the supreme moral tenet mentioned above, in which people must learn to live in harmony with their Will.

As such, Aleister Crowley was to be the prophet of Horus and spread the teachings and commandments he delivered with the help of Aiwass during three whole days to the whole word and translate the book in all languages.

Oddly enough, Crowley himself claims that initially he resented his being chosen and just sent the manuscript to other occultists he knew, then ignored it.

But later Aleister Crowley did develop Thelema in earnest. And the mentions above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his prolific dedication to writing occult material. Keyword being occult, meaning “only for initiates” or “knowledge of the hidden”, coming from the Latin “hidden, secret”.

Because Crowley’s works are cryptic, allegorical and symbolic, (presumably) requiring magickal instruction from a Thelemite in order to be understood.

One can search on the Internet The Book of Lies Aleister Crowley to see possibly the most cryptic example.

And if the search were The Book of Thoth Aleister Crowley instead, the reader would discover the text that he wrote as accompaniment to the Aleister Crowley tarot cards version that he created.

5. Death and aftermath

The death of Aleister Crowley took place at his home.

Before talking of his real death, it’s worth mentioning his fake death.

In character with his love of mischief and chaos, Crowley meticulously faked his death in 1930 just for laughs. While at the Boca Do Inferno (in Portugal, near Lisbon) he planted a note which talked about him being heart-broken and implied that he had jumped to his death.

With the help of his friend, Portuguese Fernando Pessoa he also managed to fool the newspapers who picked up the story and made it known. The whole thing was revealed as a prank when Crowley made his unannounced appearance in Berlin at an exhibition for some of his paintings.

He did really die though (despite many conspiracy theories and wishful thinking to the contrary) in 1947, December the 1st, due to a combination of conditions, the main one being chronic bronchitis on top of which he also suffered from myocardial degeneration and pleurisy.

Based on his reputation, when one pictures his death, one tends to do so in the form of a spectacular event. More like The Aleister Crowley Death involving great magick at hand and a good show.

Sadly, reality was far more mundane with Crowley dying in his home at Netherwood, like many “average” men and women. Sadly, he also died penniless without ever managing to get rid of his addictions (including heroin and cocaine).

If it seems like an inglorious end for an influential man, worry not. This didn’t stop him from becoming the emblematic occultist that he is today with a continuing influence on many. For better or for worse, it’s up for each person to decide.

If you’re interested about more information about this controversial figure you can look for the Aleister Crowley biography considered by many to be a must read, namely Richard Kaczynski’s “Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley.

Or the partial autobiography called “The Confessions of Aleister Crowley : An Autohagiography”.

Just remember to keep things grounded in facts and not the sensational, as is often the case with Crowley.

I mean just type Aleister Crowley Jay Z or Barbara Bush Aleister Crowley in a search engine and you’ll know what I mean.

And just in case you were wondering, a simple “research” will help clarify that the whole Barbara Bush descendant of Crowley theory is actually a well-documented and confirmed April’s Fool prank that started on a blog (Cannonfire).

Do what thou wilt. Heh.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

5 Beautiful Luxurious Hotels

Some people like natural beauty and nothing else, going to remote places to enjoy it and just it, without the hubbub of society and civilization.

Other people like exactly that. The purring of life in a busy urban center, with all the comforts that the city can offer.

But it’s probably universally appealing, to each and every individual to have both beauty and luxury rolled up into one perfect package.

Which is what the 5 beautiful luxurious hotels which are about to be presented below can offer to their clients. For the appropriate price, of course.

1. Singita Sabi Sand

5 beautiful luxurious hotels - Singita Sabi Sand

Situated in the South Africa in the Kruger National Park, this resort was designed by up-and-coming African architects and is gracefully integrated into the landscape. Its two lodges, Boulders and Ebony give off a vibe of an old fashioned 60s movie featuring a daring explorer coming back from a dangerous safari to enjoy a tasteful location as he rests.

Among its features are private showers outdoors, tours to photograph the surroundings and the wildlife and a wine cellar stocked with excellent wines. And speaking of the wildlife, there’s plenty around, including elephants that like to dip their trunk in the river nearby now and then.

2. Taj Lake Palace

One of the 5 beautiful luxurious hotels is Taj Lake Palace.

All the way over in Udaipur, India this time, the hotel in question is a magnificent sprawling complex, with 17 suites available for the ultimate experience in comfort, on this private island on a lake. But if you don’t want to break the piggy bank, you can also opt for its 66 “regular” rooms.

Don’t worry, they’re in the same league of magnificence with the suites, featuring frescoes and mosaics which are a testament to this structures 263 years on this Earth. And to make the experience complete, the hotel even has a fleet of vintage cars that you can rent.

3. Ocean House

The list of 5 beautiful luxurious hotels includes Ocean House in Rhode Island

In the Watch Hill district of Rhode Island rests a gem of the Victorian architectural-style, right on the waterfront. But its story is like that of the Phoenix: it features a comeback, but is still inherently sad. Because this current establishment is remarkable for keeping much of the form and structure of the original hotel by the same name built here in 1868.

However, that original hotel was demolished in 2005, marking the end of the last Victorian Era hotel on the waterfront in the entire Rhode Island mainland.

Still, the present incarnation’s 49 guest rooms (along with the many other rooms housing the pool, spa, restaurant etc.) are more than impressive in their own right, regardless of being relatively newly built (opened to the public in 2010).

You can also choose to stay in one of the condominium suits, of which this estate has 23.

4. Four Seasons in Gresham Palace

5 beautiful luxurious hotels - Four Seasons Gresham Palace

The Gresham Palace in Budapest is a complex built on the place of a neo-classical palace built in 1827 and called Nákó House. The Gresham Palace came to be because the Gresham Life Insurance Company bought the Nákó House in 1880 and then decided to make something new and larger, which they completed in 1906 after two years of work.

Then, its history becomes more convoluted, being used as a barracks by the communists Red Army after World War II, then being abandoned and finally being swapped from one owner to another, including Four Seasons who still manage it.

And if you know other Four Seasons hotels around the world, you have an idea of how much they value luxury and form. This one is no exception with its Art Nouveau architecture, large staircase, beautiful ironworks and many other details

5. Nayara Springs

The list of 5 beautiful luxurious hotels includes Nayara Springs

The owners of this hotel claim it is one of the most romantic places in the world, placed as it near the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. And the Springs part in the name is no lie either, because the clear cool waters from the aforementioned volcano do pass there.

Interesting about it is also that it promotes itself as an adult-oriented place, with entertainment options like various excursions, horse-riding, water-rafting, zip-lining and many others being provided by the staff.

With plenty of rooms in three complexes to choose from, of which some include hammocks, your stay in the jungle will feel authentic enough, yet without sacrificing luxury and comfort one bit. An interesting combination.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Laugh Out Loud Wrong Presidential Candidates Statements

In anticipation of the presidential elections to be held in the US in 2016, which are starting to be on everyone’s mind, let’s relieve some of the tension building around the subject by taking our collective hats off in honor of some past laugh out loud wrong presidential candidates statements.

These statements, mind you, belong to the current presidential candidates.

And I mention that they are past statements which fall into the glorious category mentioned above, so as to differentiate them from future such statements, because the probability of them happening is not null, if you get my drift.

Also, they were, curiously, not set loose upon the world by the representatives of just one party, but by both. Just to make it clear that nature, at least, is impartial when distributing her gifts of elocution and logic.

Without further ado, I give you these orator’s gems:

1. Martin O’ Malley

Laugh out loud wrong presidential candidates statements - Martin O'Malley

It’s hard to think of a more expressive and recent example of someone who is totally out of touch with the going-ons in the world at large. What’s sad is that in this case, Mr. O’Malley is running to become the leader of the world’s (currently) only superpower, so in his case it might be sort of, maybe useful if he DID know just a tiiiiny bit more about international affairs.

Especially the big-attention grabbing kind like the war in Syria. You see, he declared that he thinks:

“Assad’s invasion of Syria will be seen as a blunder.”

Ahem. As in, Bashar al Assad, the president of Syria. That one.

Apparently Mr. O’Malley doesn’t know that it’s kind of impossible to invade the country you rule, albeit just nominally when it comes to the whole territory, because there are many groups fighting there which are themselves unrecognized internationally.

2. Ben Carson

One of the laugh out loud wrong presidential candidates statements is Ben Carson's

Here’s one that’s right up there in the major league crackpot Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter meets Keith Richards’ stash sort of trips away from reason.

Mr. Carson claimed that, in his own words:

“In the class of 1968 at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, Mahmoud Abbas was one of the members of that class, and so was Ali Khamenei. And that’s where they first established relationships with the young Vladimir Putin.”

Apart from the fact that they are a tad ideologically different (but hey, maybe that’s all an act), Khamenei was imprisoned at the time, Putin was 16 and in high-school not university and Khamenei didn’t even visit that particular university in 1968, let alone study there…

3. Ben Carson (again)

The list of laugh out loud wrong presidential candidates statements includes two entries from Ben Carson

While we’re in crazy town, let’s go visit the luxurious mansion where Ben Carson’s other statement lives, surrounded by admirers.

In a win for science he said:

“A lot of people who go into prison straight, and when they come out they’re gay.”

Gee-whiz! And we all thought the whole homosexuality thing was a bit more complicated. And that in this particular instance, sure some of the inmates might be hidden gays and for various reasons decide to come out publicly while in prison (maybe because they have nothing more to lose or the other horrors they’ve endured have cured their fear of public scorn). Or maybe even some of the inmates might discover their different sexual orientation while in prison.

But to claim that they all turn gay by going to prison is like saying that all those with PTSD suffer from it because they’re in fact in love with bullets, IEDs, trauma, injuries and horror. Because a soldier gets PTSD as a result of the traumas not because he opts for it. Just like prisoners might be raped in prison by other prisoners, thus causing them a trauma which possibly might result in an apparent change of sexual orientation, in rare cases.

And if he was referring to the rapists themselves, most people understand that there’s a tiny difference between liking someone and raping someone. In the case of inmates, rape has been documented by researchers to actually be a form of domination and imposing hierarchy.

Now if inmates would all suddenly start caring about each others’ feelings, dedicating love poems and having passionate, consensual and partner-aware intercourse, that would probably make Mr. Carson’s claim valid.

4. Donald Trump

laugh out loud wrong presidential candidates statements - Donald Trump.

The current favorite for controversial if not actually appalling statements regarding anything from immigrants to foreign relations, Mr. Trump had one that was truly magical when discussing the US economy.

“The last quarter, it was just announced, our gross domestic product — a sign of strength, right? But not for us. It was below zero. Who ever heard of this? It’s never below zero.”

Now, let’s try and understand the reasoning behind it step by step. If he was referring to the GDP per se being below zero, that’s game over for the Goddess of Reason, who I am informed has just turned over the discussion table screamed in frustration, and left the room.

Because the Gross Domestic Product of a country can only be zero if nothing gets produced in that country. As in really nothing. Think post-apocalyptic landscape, but without any survivors, technology, industry, heck, even civilization. In other words, even the world depicted in the Fallout series is liable to produce a GDP possessing group if anyone bothered to actually calculate it etc.

Moving on, if he meant to say growth in GDP, de Goddess of Reason would have stayed on, but probably had whipped out her little friendly gadget, The BS Detector, because USA has gone through 11 recessions just since World War II, which were all characterized by negative growth. That’s lower than zero growth, that Mr. Trump claimed never happened, in case you were wondering.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4.