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Feeling abandoned: urban spelunking on the internet

For some reason, internet junkies who rarely leave the safety and comfort of their living rooms seem to love poking around old, abandoned sites and structures -- virtually, of course. There are innumerable photo-explorations of such sites across the internet, a number of which have appeared on this very blog. We wanted to introduce you to some of our recent faves, so you can explore a bit on your own. Remember: bring a dust mask, two flashlights and clothes you never want to wear again. Or ... just click:

Abandoned amusement park
Neatorama recently linked to a Japanese site featuring some really evocative, misty pictures of a rusting, tumbledown amusement park in Northern Japan. No more fun to be had here, kiddies. Only hobos and tetanus.

More desolation after the jump! Meanwhile, don't forget to reminisce with our past posts on abandoned mines, abandoned buildings in Detroit (as explored by famous authors) and the unfortunate town of Pripyat, Ukraine, just outside of Chernobyl.

Abandoned missile silo
Ever wanted to see the inside of an old American missile silo? Here's your chance, courtesy Kevin Kelm of Triggur.org. Before you go and find one of your own to explore, however, take a gander at the really off-putting warning Kevin has posted at the top of the site (all caps are his):

DO NOT TRY TO ENTER ONE OF THESE SITES YOURSELF! HAD ONE OF US BEEN HURT BENEATH THE SURFACE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFICULT TO REMOVE THE VICTIM/BODY, GIVEN THE CONDITION OF THE ENTRANCE, NOT TO MENTION THE PRESENCE OF ASBESTOS AND OTHER CHEMICALS IN THE TUNNELS. BECAUSE OF THE POOR AIR CIRCULATION, THERE IS ALSO A SIGNIFICANT CHANCE THAT THE RADIOACTIVE GAS 'RADON' BUILDS UP DOWN THERE, TOO. THE LONG TERM HEALTH RISKS ARE NOT WORTH IT JUST TO SEE SOME RUSTED MACHINES. WE HAVE BROUGHT THIS PHOTO-TOUR TO YOU SO THAT YOU WON'T HAVE TO GO THERE YOURSELF TO SEE IT. MISSILE BASES LIKE THIS ONE ARE FOUND ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, MOSTLY IN THE MID-WEST, AND OWNERSHIP USUALLY REVERTS BACK TO THE RANCHER/FARMER, WHO WILL VERY LIKELY BE WATCHING FOR TRESPASSERS WITH A LOADED SHOTGUN.

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Tour of the London Underground
sewer8.jpg... circa 1898. This is excerpted from a 100+-year-old issue of Strand magazine, which proves that we bloggers weren't the first writers to be fascinated by dark, scary trespass.

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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