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Weekend Links: Schrodinger's Ant

From Abe Lincoln To Donald Duck, the history of the income tax. I kind of love the beginning of the Donald video.
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McSweeneys breaks down semantics: the meaning of being implicated as an eater of prawn sandwiches. (Thanks to David for this one!)
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From the Department of Procrastination: a hand drawn game of pinball (I spent way too much time playing this - report your scores! I forgot to track mine, but the latest one was 41300).
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Even though I love Pinterest, I do admit that Funny or Die has basically summed up what 80%+ of the posts on there look like!
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There's been some controversy over the reality of these amazing ant photographs (whether they are alive or dead, hence this week's heading!), but I will quote the Telegraph, a paper I choose to trust, on the matter: "The photographs in this picture gallery may look like they been Photoshopped or assembled with dead insects, but the ants in these images are very much alive. Russian photographer Andrey Pavlov spends hours setting up fairytale scenes. He studied ants, and saw that they all follow a very specific path when they’re working. So he put his props on their trail, and photographed the insects interacting with his miniature 'stage sets'."
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Universal Pictures is celebrating its 100th anniversary with an updated logo, and in this video you can see the evolution of the studio's branding over the years (some of which brings back viewing memories for me!)
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Piggybacking another Titanic link I posted recently, check out Seven Famous People Who Missed the Titanic, which prompts the question: why does the Titanic still fascinate us?
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A giant cache of documentaries featured on YouTube. Perfect for a rainy day!
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Parting Shot: construction of the Manhattan Bridge.
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Stay tuned - more links tomorrow! In the meantime, send your submissions to FlossyLinks@gmail.com.

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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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