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Morning Cup of Links: How to Watch Star Wars

How should the Star Wars films be presented to young people who didn't grow up seeing them in theaters? Try showing them in Machete Order for the greatest viewing pleasure. (via Metafilter)
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Outraged Afghans have murdered four soldiers and killed dozens of others in suicide bombings in the past two weeks. The hard-won partnership between the U.S. and Afghanistan may be the biggest casualty of the Quran burning incident.
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A bouncy tune about double murder opens the Batman musical. Yes, Holy Musical, Batman! will run live onstage in Chicago, then come to YouTube this spring.
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The third-party candidate for a Virginia Senate seat has never voted in an election. Hank is also young, inexperienced, and doesn't like to wear clothes -because he's a cat.
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The Independent Spirit Awards also gave out trophies for films over the weekend, but did anyone notice? The difference between this award and the Oscars is that these are chosen by younger white guys all wearing Buddy Holly glasses.
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This Is How Bike Paths Are Born. The Netherlands took deliberate steps to slow down, get fit, use less gasoline, and save lives.
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A study of Vietnam's horrific-looking leaf-nose bat shows that it is a species distinct from all other bats. That's good to know, because you don't ever want to run into one of these where there is any light to see by.
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Guys, here's how to decode a girl's dorm room or apartment to figure her out. Girls, you might someday run into a guy who will try to decode your room.
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Historic Photographs Of "White" Slaves. After the Civil War, four mixed race children were photographed over and over to raise funds for a school to benefit former slaves.
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Jimmy Kimmel spent four months creating the perfect movie trailer for his after-the-Oscars show. Movie: The Movie has everything, and everyone, you'd ever want in a movie.
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5 Online Mistakes that Caused a Market Frenzy. Proofreading is oh-so important when people's money is at stake!

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holidays
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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