All posts by Guest Writer

Svalbard Global Seed Vault: FUTURE SALVATION

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Global Seed Vault : MONSANTO – Seeds of Evil?

The Monsanto Vegetable Seed Company and Genetically Modified Foods recently came under the loop once again, provoking heated debate and contradictory opinions from different sources. Monsanto are being called unflattering names such as Seeds of Evil, Seeds of Suicide and Monsanto’s harvest of Fear. They are accused of destroying farming, holding the monopoly over the seeds farmers are buying at a considerable price. This system is even considered flawed and a health risk by some. In their defence, Monsanto are aiming to provide in “an immediate need to harvest more quality, nutritious food from each unit of land, water and energy”.

No matter who is right and who is at fault here, the fact remains that resources are dwindling with the challenge of an ever growing human population on earth. Mother Nature could reach a state where she might not be able to keep on providing for all of us. We are the ones who crippled her and we will now have to find healthy ways to care for ourselves and our world in the years to come, in a healthy and responsible manner.

SVALBARD – New Noah’s Ark or Overpriced Deep Freeze?

As with many other cases where the survival of the earth and all it’s inhabitants are in question, money is the first and biggest factor taken in consideration. This is usually where all the fights, motivation and education kicks off big time, in the hope that some of the so called “big fishes” somewhere will take notice and give their support to the worthy cause. The inevitable question arose whether the Svalbard Seed Vault is a necessity for the survival of the world or merely an overpriced deep freeze.

If the major financial role players in the project are taken into consideration, one might find the answer. The charitable Bill Gates Foundation invested some $30 million. The Government of Norway, the Rockefeller Foundation, Syngenta Foundation and of course the notorious Monsanto Corporation amongst a few others, also invested millions in the so called doomsday vault.

Save for Doomsday – The Svalbard Way

Seed banks are vulnerable to all sorts of catastrophes. The Svalbard seed bank was built to protect the world’s food sources for the survival of human civilization in a post apocalyptic world. It contains duplicate samples or copies of a diversity of seeds of the world’s most prized crops held in other seed banks all over the world. This is a backup plan in the event of those being lost or destroyed. Seeds are kept frozen in a stable environment of humidity and temperature of -18 oC (-0.4 oF). They are stacked in alphabetical order in plastic containers on steel shelves inside the vault and can be preserved for 200 to 2 000 years or even much longer. The seeds itself are stored in four layered envelopes to protect it against humidity.

The impressive US$9million (NOK 45 million) seed bank who opened in 2008 was built on Spitsbergen Island in Norway inside a sandstone mountain. This area was specifically chosen for it’s lack of earthquakes and other such dangers, temperatures, the height above sea level (120 metres or 390 ft) and a local coalmine providing the power for refrigeration. This is like a safe deposit box in the bank. The bank owns the building, the content of the box is owned by the depositor and no-one else has access to your content.

In the case of any large scale global disasters, natural or induced such as floods, fires, change in climate, and war, the seeds in the secured Svalbard vault might be our best hope for feeding the world some day.


Author: Maritha Koortzen

The author writes to various websites and newspapers mostly on Health and Social Issues. She also talks at Ladies Events about Health and Wellness.

Feel free to contact her for any freelance writing.



Rand Jitters

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The Rand and the Ripple Effect

The South African Rand made quite a nose dive this week when it hit the lowest point in thirteen years. This made investors and economists quite jittery, not to mention the poor souls in the clutches of debt. Who can afford such bad economic times these days anyway? The weak currency has a tremendously wide ripple effect, affecting almost everything in a negative manner. The Rand gets influenced by so many external factors in turn, of which most are foreign influences.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Inflation-Hike (The Ugly):

The weaker the Rand gets, the higher the inflation rate. Anything above 3 to 4 % of the annual range of inflation is considered as high. A skyrocketing inflation rate would have dire economical consequences! Here are a few general concerns:

–       Rising inflation results in lowering of income, especially for those already facing pay freezes and -cuts.

–       General living costs will rise as the prices of necessities such as food and municipal utilities like water and electricity rise, along with everything else. Usually the elderly and lower income families are the ones suffering the most. In general, everybody is getting poorer bit by bit.

–       People living from the interest on their investments will also get poorer if the inflation rate should go higher than their interest rates.

–       There is a general uncertainty and lack of business confidence as businesses find it difficult to establish their costs and prices.

–       With a weaker Rand value, crude oil will be much more expensive, resulting in higher fuel prices. That in turn will cause rising in consumer prices and directly a higher inflation rate. It’s a vicious cycle, really, which will hopefully be turned around soon enough.

Interest Rates (The Bad):

Interest rates naturally go up when the Rand looses value. The reason for this being financial markets protecting themselves. For those fortunate South Africans with investments and more savings than debt, this is good news of course. Sadly, for most, too high interest rates paint a darker future. Mortgages and borrowing money are getting less affordable, while most cannot afford to buy a house or car for instance without a loan.

The Flip Side (The Good):

This might all seem pretty overwhelming, but our country was in worst situations before. We always somehow managed to get through it in the end. While we cannot do anything about foreign affairs influencing our economy, we can at least take care of our own affairs. There are so many inspiring stories of individuals who managed to claw their way out of debt in the worst economical times and situations. There are just as much help around to teach us how to take care of our own economy. Worrying about the weakening Rand or the global economy won’t change a thing. We might as well take charge of what we can.

Author: Maritha Koortzen

The author writes to various websites and newspapers mostly on Health and Social Issues. She also talks at Ladies Events about Health and Wellness.

Feel free to contact her for any free lance writing.


Nkandla and the Views of the Opposition

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Nkandla – Angry opposition

After the release of the Nkandla report by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, it was clear that a large proportion of the nation was angry and unimpressed by the report’s findings. The finding that president Zuma need not pay back the money spent on Nkandla was definitely not what the opposition parties or the nation wanted to hear.

The Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane said that the “President is sending a clear message that corruption does not matter and that he should be above the law” the DA further branded the report a “whitewash” and an “insult to the South African people”. Party leader Maimane said that “The DA will not allow the President to get away with the theft of public funds … We have, therefore, referred the matter to our legal team for the consideration of the rationale of Minister Nhleko’s determination, and our constitutional and legal remedies.”

It was not only the DA who made themselves heard. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said that the party will still continue with their “pay back the money” campaign. They also stated that they would go to court if necessary and that they won’t rest “until Zuma pays back some portion of the money” spent on Nkandla.

Other political parties, like the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), also voiced shock at Nhleko’s report. Kenneth Meshoe is quoted as saying: “I am shocked that the minister of police has found that President Zuma does not have to repay a thing for the additional upgrades at his Nkandla residence”.

Unsurprisingly, the ruling party welcomed the report about Nkandla by the Police Minister. In the report it was also made clear that even more upgrades would be forthcoming, which are said to include motion detector beams and camera monitors with recording capabilities.

Whatever the next steps of the various opposition parties are going to be, it is clear that we have not yet reached the conclusion of the Nkandla and “fire pool” saga. Many citizens hope that this report by the Police Minister will not be the final word on the subject, and welcome the parties taking steps against it.


Author: Carin Marais

Carin Marais writes web articles, guest and blog posts, and fiction. With interests ranging from pop culture and technology to literature, mythology and archeology, her writing covers diverse subjects. To contact Carin for articles and guest posts, or to read her work, go to her home page, her blog Hersenskim or follow her on @CarinMarais.

Pursue your own economy

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Why create your own economy?

What is hindering you from actively pursuing your own economy? With living costs seemingly skyrocketing out of control and the world still largely suffering from post-2008 financial blues, most of us are considering ways to up our incomes. Wishing for additional revenue and actually doing what needs to be done to earn extra income are two separate things. Do you have what it takes to roll up your sleeves and take charge of your own economy?

Hesitant to go solo?

You may regard stepping out into the unknown and taking chances as risky behaviour. You may fear failure and don’t want to put what little security you have on the line. Going solo and investing your talent, skills or money into a project you hope people will want to invest in, can be quite daunting. What if things don’t work out? What if you find yourself to be way over your head with no idea how to get out of troubled waters?

Stop! Such thinking will get you nowhere. It’ll only gnaw away at your self-confidence and drain your energy. You’ll convince yourself you’re a loser before you’ve even attempted to test your business idea and you’ll end up throwing money after projects you don’t believe in.

Co-create for success

The revolutionary Indivineur Program by Willem Gous takes all the anxiety out of going solo and risking hard-earned capital. It embraces a very low, minimum risk strategy and encourages co-creation. Individuals share their resources and know-how to explore various business concepts and ideas. Best of all, Indivineurship teaches you to recognize and utilize that which you’re already successfully applying in your life, thus minimizing risk.

Take charge of your own economy and refuse to be a victim of the economy. Take control of your financial future and claim the financially free life you and your family deserve. Pursue a future of financial stability today.

An Easter Tradition

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Traditional Easter Food

The pickled fish tradition lives on either as custom passed down by their parents or because they consider eating meat on Good Friday as “unholy”. Most people are totally oblivious of where the tradition originated, but the absence of facts don’t stop them from following the tradition.

Surprise your family with scrumptious Eater Pickled fish, using this recipe courtesy of the Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market. You’ll be their hero for a long time to come. Perhaps until next Easter, when you’ll have to make it again.

Easter Pickled Fish Recipe for 4


400g – 500g hake or any firm white fish
2t (10ml) Seasoned Sea Salt
2T (30ml) flour
Canola oil
2 onions, finely sliced into rings
½ cup (125ml) water
½ cup (125ml) cider or white wine vinegar
1t (5ml) turmeric
1t (5ml) Seasoned Sea Salt
1 x 200ml Yogurt with 1T curry mix
Fresh coriander


Cut the fish into bite sized pieces and season with salt. Heat oil in a frying pan, coat the fish in flour and fry for about ten minutes or until cooked. Set aside. Combine the onions, vinegar, water, turmeric and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Place cooled fish in a deep casserole or large jar and pour the sauce over. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Serve with curried yoghurt and fresh coriander.

To completely blow their minds, also give them:

Easter Hot Cross Buns

These spicy Easter pastries are delicious.


2 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2/3 cup raisins, currants, or golden raisins (or a mix)
Finely grated zest of half an orange
1/4 heaping teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
2 teaspoons fine salt
3 1/2 tablespoons castor sugar
1 medium egg
3 1/2 tablespoons butter


In a bowl, combine the flours, water, milk, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the egg and butter and mix to a sticky dough.

Add the dried fruit, orange zest, and spices and knead until silky and smooth. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Deflate the risen dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and dust with flour. Place on a floured board, cover with plastic or cloth, and leave for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. For the crosses, whisk together flour and water until smooth, then transfer to a pastry bag and snip off the end to make a fine hole. Pipe a cross on top of each bun, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Melt jam and water in a pan. Brush over the buns to glaze as you take them from the oven.

Now see if you don’t get the biggest Easter egg ever!


Proud to live in South Africa

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We are very lucky to be living in South Africa

 Lucky to be living in South Africa? “What the …!” I hear you say. “Just look at the news, read the papers, look around you, for goodness’ sake! It’s mayhem, corruption, murder and economic collapse everywhere!” you rant.

 OK, it is true that South Africa experiences many problems. There are incompetent leaders and many inert civil servants, there is crime and employment is a big problem. Yet, there are also many things that can justifiably make you proud of living in South Africa. Just forget about the negative issues for the moment, and think about the positive.

We have the Mandela legacy

 Nelson Mandela left each and every South African a priceless legacy. He serves as an example of what can be achieved. No other country in the world boasts such a powerful legacy by a man that will forever remain a giant in the eyes of the world. If everybody strives to follow this example, South Africa will become a giant amongst nations. We are lucky to have received such a generous legacy.

We have unparalleled beauty

 Every country has beauty, but none can  surpass the all-encompassing variety that South Africa has. We have spectacular nature reserves and is home to the biggest variety of fauna and flora in the world. We have magnificent beaches, sunshine all year round, majestic mountains and mysterious forests. South Africa is the cradle of mankind and boasts one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We are lucky to live here!

We are free

 The Constitution of South Africa grants all citizens a level of freedom that is the envy of people living in most  other countries. Just look at how successful civil organisations have been in challenging the government in court. Their successes mean that the system works! We are free to be whoever we are, to associate with whomever we will, to worship in the way we choose to and to marry whomever we want, even someone of the same gender! Yes, we are lucky to be free in South Africa.

So, stop a minute and count your blessings

 These are just three reasons why we are lucky to be living in South Africa. There are many more. Perhaps things will be better if we count our blessings instead of complaining all the time.

How to deal with loss and loneliness on Valentine’s Day

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Dealing with sadness on Valentine’s Day

Everybody loves a holiday and St Valentine’s day is particularly popular. This is a happy day that presents the ideal opportunity to show loved ones just how much they are cherished. It is also the ideal time to declare your feelings to a new loved one. Unfortunately, this is also the day when lonely people experience their loneliness more acutely. The same goes for those people who have suffered the loss of a loved one. They feel left out and psychologists agree that depression soars during the build-up towards Valentine’s day.

There is no reason to be lonely and depressed during holidays such as Christmas and Valentine’s day. Feelings of depression and loneliness should be seen as a call to action. Every human being is responsible for his or her own happiness. Unhappy and depressed people often push others away, even if they do not consciously try to do so. So, instead of moping and suffering, why not use these holidays as an opportunity to do something positive? Here are two practical ideas:

Join a special interest group

If you are interested in something (and surely everybody is interested in at least one thing!) there is most likely a group or club focusing on that interest. And no, online forums do not count! Join a group with real people. In no time at all you will connect with at least one or two members of the group and thus the foundations for friendship or even more can be laid.

Reach out to others

There are so many lonely people living in old age homes, children’s homes and in places of safety. Volunteer your services. Soon, you will make new friends and you will experience the immense satisfaction of making the lives of other people easier. Spend Valentine’s day at the charity of your choice and give hand-made cards to all and sundry. You will have a fantastic day!

By taking positive action you accept responsibility for your own happiness. Once you take this step you will find that happiness comes from within and from becoming part of the world around you.

Reaching your goals: Practical advice

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5 AUDACIOUS and CREATIVE WAYS to reach your goals

Overcoming Human nature and other stumbling blocks

1.    BOB = Bum On ‘Bankie’. Procrastination is the mother of all evil. I have spent more time and energy on finding convincing excuses for not writing that book than I have writing. Then, while in the midst of household predicaments, adolescent foster child upsets, general penury, and a summer from hell when every insect that sucks blood, bites and stings descended, I wrote a whole book in the space of three weeks – because a deadline loomed. Let’s face it folks, as a species we do not really pray until forced to our knees, diet before we only have one pair of stretched tracksuit pants left that we fit into, or install solar panels unless ESKOM lets us down. Do what you want/have to do NOW! The eventual goal starts with the first step.

2.    BAG= Be Always generous. Do more than what is asked for. Walk the extra mile. This way you will keep the joy and spirit of abundance in your task. Nobody has a mediocre goal – keep your eye on it, and you will not get bogged down in suspicion and make yourself small and grasping.

3.    AND= Avoid Negative Drips. It is all good and well to believe that you should know who you are sufficiently to not be discouraged by people that denigrate your ideas or are critical of your methods, but who is that confident, really? If you feel that some people drain your energy, steer clear of them.

4.    BAT= Be Accountable Trooper. It is easy to blame others for things going wrong, but even if some culpability is required, one cannot force others to acknowledge their share. The best way to move forward is to shoulder the accountability fully. Then others may do so too, but successful people have more often than not become so in spite of the inadequacies of others. Persevere! Blame is counter-productive.


5.    BAFOF= Ban All Fear Of Failure. “Bafof” – nice word! Well, it isn’t a word but it should be. “Oh bafof, you gremlins that erode my faith!”   Effective people are not afraid to fail. If you read the biographies of successful people you will see that they have all failed at some point, learnt from their mistakes, and overcome disasters. You can too. Just do not not reach for you goals because there is a chance of failure.

Summary of 5 audacious tips to reach your goals: BOB, BAG AND BAT shout BAFOF!
 Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway

Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speech writer, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.

Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.


Christmas fever everywhere

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Perhaps it will be a Christmas holiday!

Christmas preparations in full swing

With just a little under three weeks to go and the clock ticking persistently, Christmas day is approaching at full speed. Suddenly one realizes how much still has to be done, but the excitement cancels out any trepidations.

Most people are planning a Christmas holiday somewhere. Anywhere, as long as it is away from home. Vehicles have to be serviced. New swimsuits and slops for the whole family need to be purchased. Dad is folding his blindingly bright Hawaiian shirt with the hibiscus print and dusting off his fake Panama hat and sunglasses with the mirrored lenses for the beach. Nothing like a beach holiday to make the old man forget his age.

Others are doing the repairs at home that have been on the to-do list since February. Isn’t it amazing how an expected visit from the in-laws motivates you to open the toolbox and get out the paint brushes? We don’t want to give anybody a reason to gossip after the holidays.

Little children have written letters to Santa clause to let him know what is on their wish lists. The blind faith of a little child always astonishes me. It is no problem to expect the old man with the red suit and white beard to be able to bring a real aeroplane or a baby Kuala bear.

Since Christmas in most households starts with, and ends with Christmas lunch, the food is a major issue. Any turkey that is still alive at this late stage of preparation, is surely in hiding in China disguised as a hedgehog. Freezers are bulging, booze cabinets overflowing and pantries stocked up to the ceiling with all that will be eaten and drunk on this one day. Just one day!

If not last week, certainly this week the grannies will be filling every hollow thing in the house with home baked biscuits. Ginger, custard and coffee biscuits. Short bread and crunchies. The family recipe from four generations back is used for the rusks that are thirty centimeters long and can soak up a mug of coffee in one dunk. That is for breakfast on Christmas day just to see everyone over till the feast begins shortly after twelve.

Will it help to ask that the poor and the lonely should be remembered in all this?

Have a merry one!

Weight loss is a lifestyle

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You are what you eat!

Permanent weight loss requires a change in lifestyle

It is hardly possible to buy a magazine or browse the internet without being accosted with dozens of advertisements promising readers and viewers that they will have successful weight loss in no time at all. In fact, the weight loss industry is gigantic. Billions are spent each year by people desperate to look and feel better. They pay because they so desperately want to believe that there is indeed a miracle just waiting to happen for them.

The sad fact is that there are very good reasons to be concerned. South Africans are considered to be among the fattest in the world. More than seventy percent of women are considered to be either overweight or obese. The statistics for men and young people are not much better. Experts agree that South Africans generally do not have healthy eating habits and that they do not exercise regularly. Thousands of people need to lose weight urgently.

Overweight people are prone to a host of serious diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and even some types of cancer. In addition they often find it difficult to move around and they experience extreme discomfort in the joints and feet. Making a firm decision to regain a healthy weight is a sensible step.

The problem is that too many overweight people want to see miraculous results. They do not want to give up their favourite foods and they do not want to follow a diet that requires discipline. Instead, they want to drink a few drops of a special preparation, take a few pills each day or observe a diet plan that allows them to enjoy all their favourite foods. This is simply not going to happen. To lose weight it is vital to observe a balanced exercise program and a diet that is supported and underwritten by experts in the field. There are no miracle programs. Obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight requires a permanent change in lifestyle.

It is a good idea to make proper Insurance cover a part of your new lifestyle too!

Call Auto and General right now for professional Insurance advice!