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This is your blog on drugs. Any comments?

Seriously folks, this country has a drug problem, and if you don't believe me, just start calculating what the government has spent on its "war on drugs" since the 80s -- it's in the hundreds of billions of dollars. A not-inconsequential chunk of that has surely gone to funding anti-drug advertising campaigns and public service announcements, and if you're wondering why we haven't won that pseky drug war yet, at least part of the answer lies in those (unfortunately laughable) moldy oldies: the PSAs. YouTube, of course, is a veritable treasure-trove of them.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles PSA

Wow, if even anthropomorphized mutated turtles won't smoke weed, then I'm sure not touching the stuff! Actually, what I find most amazing about this spot (and many others like it) is its use of a corporate selling tool (the turtles, who sold kids toys, video games, comic books and, inadvertently perhaps, pizza) to sell a moral message. Since when is it OK for hyper-violent mutants to teach our kids right from wrong?

Robocop PSA

Hmm, I'm sure a film set in the 80s was a great place to get away from drugs. (Ever heard the stories about Martin Scorsese?) And once again, a killing machine (who in many respects acts like a person hopped up on PCP) becomes an oracle of moral advice.

I learned it by watching you!

Ahh, revel in the classicness. Parodied everywhere from Robot Chicken to Family Guy, it's probably as well known as it is only because it was so effective in getting its message across -- hey, credit where credit is due -- a classic example of why the War on Drugs was so good at producing quotable quotes. Heck, in the pantheon of 80s catch phrases, it's up there with "Where's the beef?" and "I've fallen and I can't get up!" (Which, if you absolutely must watch it -- as I did -- is here.)

Drug abuse is the new slavery

If the Partnership for a Drug-Free America wanted to get people talking, this controversial 1991 PSA certainly did it (to wit: someone titled this YouTube video "Racist anti-drug PSA.") By recasting the drug war along race lines, they not only muddied the waters, they started to look desperate. It's a far cry from an egg frying in a pan! And speaking of which, so is this 1998 follow-up to the classic "this is your brain on drugs" PSA:

This is (still) your brain on drugs

Is it just me, or is there some complicated meta commentary on what being on drugs is really like going on here? (I mean, she's supposed to be high, right?) Do not let people on drugs into your kitchen! And yes, that's the girl from She's All That.

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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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