It is amazing how Christmas has come full circle. In the pre-Christian era, it used to be a fertility festival celebrated by European pagans, who did not believe in a male "jealous god" and his "only son".
Two thousand years later, the pagans are gone but Christmas is now celebrated by Europeans, who do not believe in a male jealous god or his only son. Today in much of the Western world Christmas is almost completely shorn of its religious association.
It is because of this delinking of Christmas from Christianity, that Christmas has become a truly global festival. For instance, I find myself irresistibly drawn towards Christmas. Where earlier it used be just a day to sit at home and do nothing, now I'm drawn into the dazzle and sparkle of the festival.
Poking around I discovered that many non-Christian, non-European immigrants now celebrate Christmas, sometimes going all the way with Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, partying and merry making just as Christians and people of European origin do. (It's a bit like non-Hindus celebrating Diwali) For atheists like me, Christmas is tailor made for the good times. I'll say hallelujah to that!
That's not what we wanted!
For the first time in their careers, journalists are faced with the unenviable task of writing about the demise of their profession. Sure, it's a bit pre-emptive, but journalists - especially in print - have reasons to be worried.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations reports that the circulation of The New Zealand Herald has dropped a hefty 10.63 per cent during the last 12 months.
My schadenfreude at the Herald's plight lasted only a couple of minutes until I saw figures for my own group papers. Sunday News has lost a jaw dropping 17.67 per cent and Sunday Star Times is down 8.04 per cent in the same period.
Amazingly, not a single newspaper in New Zealand has registered an uptick in circulation. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations website the lowest fall was that of the Greymouth Star which fell 1.82 per cent.
New Zealand isn't the only country where the newspaper industry is awash in red ink. It's a worldwide trend. The two major Japanese Shimbuns are down at least two million each from their peak 1980s circulation.
Web 2.0 is the one millionth word in the English language. According to the Global Language Monitor in Texas, United States, the word refers to the second generation of the World Wide Web. For a word to officially enter the lexicon, it has to be used in books or on the internet 25,000 times.
However, not many know the Hindi word 'Jai Ho' (Be Victorious) is the 999,999th word. This did not happen by freakish chance; the explosion of words in the English language reflects the extraordinary rate of borrowings from foreign languages, including Indian.
English is the language that Shakespeare used and George W. Bush abused. Now Indians are giving it their own flavour. Professor David Crystal, one of the world's foremost linguists, says people will effectively have to learn two varieties of the language - one spoken in their home country, and a new kind of Standard English which can be internationally understood. The English spoken in countries with rapidly-booming economies, such as India, will increasingly influence this global standard, he says.
''In future, users of global Standard English might replace the British English 'I think it's going to rain', with the Indian English, 'I am thinking it's going to rain," argues Crystal, the honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor.
It is ironic that the first - and perhaps last - Western country to elect a black person as head of state has reacted with extreme xenophobia to the crowning of Indian-American Nina Davuluri (what a sexy sounding surname) as Miss America this week.
Immediately after her win was announced, Twitter exploded with hateful tweets, with angry viewers calling her un-American, Arab and Indonesian. In fact, Davuluri had to spend her first conference after the win fending off accusations she was not American.
To set the record straight, Davuluri was born in Syracuse, New York. At the age of four she moved to Oklahoma and then Michigan with her family before returning to New York six years ago.
And for a change, this beauty has brains. Davuluri is a recent University of Michigan graduate in brain behaviour and cognitive science. Her father, a gynaecologist, inspired her to pursue medicine.
But regardless of her accomplishments both on and off the stage, many, including Fox News (apologies for using the two words together) commentator Todd Starnes, disagreed with the judges' decision.
Creeping Sharia is not just a catchphrase used by Islamophobes worldwide. It's happening right here in New Zealand.
An iconic Kiwi business that has been supplying meat products to Aucklanders for over 40 years is facing aggressive demands from its Muslim customers that it remove non-halal products from its shelves.
Owned by a pioneering Dutch family, it is a friendly store with a lovely manager who often greets customers by name. It's not a huge operation but they do brisk business and specialise in bulk sales.
I can't name the store because of obvious reasons.
Perils of the halal economy
A few years ago this Auckland store allocated a single freezer to cater for Muslim customer. In hindsight - which we all agree is 20/20 - it was a bad idea.
Blog terms and conditions
You're welcome to post in the comments section of our blogs. Please keep comments under 400 words. When submitting a comment, you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.