New Years Eve: Pre-Drop Open Thread

Hey, y’all!

Tonight we watch the ball descend, the peach fall, the possum drop…oh wait, that celebration had the kibosh put on it, however…there very well may be a roadkill drop. 

Anyway, tonight we watch all sorts of things dropping, signifying the end of year 2012, and the beginning of 2013.

Where to ring in 2013 – CBS News

Personally, I think the most significant thing that should be dropping is the American Public’s drawers…as in pants, because to ring in this new year we all need to get ready for the screw job that is coming.

So, as we wait for 2013 to make its grand entrance, I bring you some links to pass the time. Of course, most of these links are list…go figure.

Gregory Linton: The Best of Los Angeles Street Art 2012 (PHOTOS)

Street artist Chod paints over a dollar bill. Notice the little features, such as how the middle monkey’s nostrils double as George Washington’s masked eyes. This modified dollar bill was found glued to a red street curb in Hollywood.

More cool ass street art here: 10 Photos of Incredible Street Art –

Here are a couple of my favorites.

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The webs are crocheted in a colorful spiderweb pattern around what would usually be a very ordinary tree. The purpose of yarn bombing is to brighten up the world by crocheting patterns onto things like statues, pipes and even tanks. It certainly fulfilled its purpose here.

Lovely? Well take a look at this one:

“No brushes or stencils, just spray”

Street-Art-By-David-Walker-In-London-England
This amazing picture is by David Walker, and as the title suggests, he did not use any brushes or stencils. This is very unusual for a street artist to do, mostly because it is so difficult. The girl is made up of vibrant colors, while still remaining amazingly realistic – making the overall effect quite incredible.

More artwork from David Walker can by found here: artofdavidwalker

For Boston Boomer and Beata…and any other “Hoosiers” out there: Photos: Hoops Hysteria, Indiana Style

Earlier this year, photographer Elijah Hurwitz set out to capture Indiana basketball in places “where it offers a way out of boredom or a way out of town. Where it offers a way to build bonds and rivalries. And often, where it’s simply a way to pass the time when there’s nothing else to do.” In his rich, intimate shots of driveway pickup, prison ball, and the state’s intensely loyal fanbase, Hurwitz illustrates the state’s hoops passion, which he first experienced as an undergraduate at Indiana University. As it happens, this year’s Hoosiers have returned to their place among the nation’s top programs, reaching No. 1 for the first time in 20 years—and giving a new generation of Indianans a team to emulate and obsess over for years to come.

On to more list associated with the year 2012:

In 2012, 11 billion-dollar weather disasters in US | Earth | EarthSky

Two most expensive 2012 U.S. weather disasters have been ongoing drought ($40 billion in damages so far) and Superstorm Sandy ($62 billion so far).

These next two links are opposites of each other:

The 24 Best Moments For Women In 2012: including epic accomplishments in politics, sports, business and culture and advances in marriage equality.

2012′s War on Women :This year featured attacks on everything from contraception to the definition of rape.

For the book readers: Sean Carman: Yet Another Year-End List

David Gutowski, the writer and editor of Largehearted Boy, annually compiles a list of all of the lists of the best books of the year. As of this writing, Gutowski’s list of lists includes 60 lists starting with the letter “A.” Assuming the same number of lists start with each of the other letters, excluding V, W, X, Y, and Z, there are 1200 lists on Gutowski’s list of best book lists.

The mother of all best books lists begs this question: Do we really need one more?

Hell, best book list are fun…at least for me, but here are more list for you to enjoy.

For those with a literary bent, how about a list of Dear John letters from famous authors: h/t the Dish…  ‘This Was Like Dating a Priest’: For literary geniuses, there’s no such thing as a simple “It’s not you, it’s me.” Famous Authors’ Breakup Letters – Emily Temple – The Atlantic

And let us not forget a list for lexicographers: Goodbye ‘chillaxing,’ hello ‘omnishambles’: the phrases that fell in and out of fashion this year | The Raw Story

For those who are more numbers oriented: By the Numbers: Comparing Spending by Gun Rights and Gun Control Interest Groups – ProPublica

Let’s see, we’ve taken care of list for artist, writers, readers, Hoosier’s, and numbers freaks…now just a few links that aren’t list of things, they are simply easy-going fun articles and drawings to share.

(Okay, actually this first one is not “fun” but I thought it was damn good. Perhaps it should be placed under the War on Women list?)

Since all this talk of going off the fiscal cliff, lots of folks are using imagery of a very important film for me, and I am guessing for lots of women who are survivors of rape. Leave Thelma & Louise Alone – Garance Franke-Ruta – The Atlantic

All you people trying to yoke the 1991 feminist movie to the fiscal cliff negotiations seem to have forgotten that it’s a vigilante fantasy about rape culture which ends badly.

thelma-louise-gun_custom-fbfcfb3d7995a891e0ea910419a6dea559ccfc3d-s4.jpg

How’s this for cultural amnesia: Politico‘s Jonathan Allen wrote this morning of fiscal cliff negotiations: “If they go over the cliff, they’ll do it together. But it won’t be some happy Thelma-and-Louise-style climax.”

Happy?

Has anyone actually watched Thelma & Louise lately?

No, I am guessing they haven’t.

Fun with art: EATEN BY DUCKS

Just go look at that one…trust me!

Alright, check this out…very cool indeed h/t Susie at C&L:

Chemistry of snowflakes, to neuroscience legacies:

Levi-Montalcini, A Giant of Neuroscience Leaves a Living Legacy | Talking back, Scientific American Blog Network

What may have been Rita Levi-Montalcini’s last paper was published almost a year ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By no means a retrospective of a career that produced a Nobel Prize, the paper (“Nerve growth factor regulates axial rotation during early stages of chick embryo development”) added still one more bit of knowledge about the protein involved with  the growth and survival of nerve cells, a molecule that was Levi-Montalcini’s passion for 60 years.

Until her death on Sunday in Rome  at 103, Levi-Montalcini had been the oldest living Nobelist and a woman who had never let anything stop her from pursuing a destiny as a scientist.  The barriers were sometimes formidable. First there was her father, who discouraged her from becoming a physician but later provided support. Later the Nazis threatened—she set up a makeshift lab in her wartime hideout—and then finally came the confrontation with the inexorability of aging. The New York Times obit included this 2009 quotation: “At 100, I have a mind that is superior — thanks to experience — than when I was 20.”

Isn’t it wonderful that she was sharp up to the end?

Alright, I wanted to have a little something for everyone in this post, and I think I’ve succeeded.

Have a wonderful and safe New Years Eve!

This is an open thread.


Her Life Was The Ultimate Lifetime Movie

Jean Harris

Jean Harris

Is it just me, or have we lost an unusual number of cultural icons in 2012? When someone who has affected you dies, it can bring back a wave of nostalgia for an earlier time.

Some of the deaths that had that effect on me this year were those of Etta James, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Dick Clark, Dave Brubeck, Gore Vidal, Johnny Pesky, George McGovern, Ravi Shankar, Henry Hill, and Norah Ephron.

Recently I learned of the death of one of those cultural icons: Jean Harris. She was the headmistress of an exclusive girls’ school who was convicted of killing her famous lover Herman Tarnower, creator of the popular “Scarsdale Medical Diet.”

From the LA Times:

The March 10, 1980, shooting of Tarnower — which she claimed throughout her life was her own suicide gone awry — was one of the most sensational crimes of its era.

It riveted the nation, not only because of its titillating combination of sex and violence. It raised what many experts said were important sociological issues, with some feminists rallying to Harris as a symbol of society’s disregard for the plight of older women and others arguing that her case had nothing at all to do with feminism.

Women’s movement icon Betty Friedan dismissed Harris as a “pathetic masochist” for staying with a man who mistreated her. But author Shana Alexander, who wrote a book on the case, described Harris as the “psychological victim of a domineering person.”

Whether morality play or soap opera, the case inspired two TV movies: “The People vs. Jean Harris” (1981), in which Harris was portrayed by Ellen Burstyn, and “Mrs. Harris” (2005), which starred Annette Bening.

In 1980, Harris was the 56-year-old headmistress of the fancy, private Madeira School overlooking the Potomac River in McLean, Va. Tarnower was a 69-year-old cardiologist and best-selling author of a book on a high-protein, low-fat diet that he developed for heart patients at his medical center in well-to-do Scarsdale, N.Y.

While she was in prison, Harris managed to accomplish quite a bit.

Mrs. Harris was sentenced to 15 years to life, and spent 12 of those years at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, N.Y. But she managed to salvage that seemingly wasted period through a remarkable prison life. She counseled fellow female prisoners on how to take care of their children, and she set up a center where infants born to inmates can spend a year near their mothers. Then, after her release in 1993 following a grant of clemency by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, she set up a foundation that raised millions of dollars for scholarships for children of women in prison in New York State.

She also lectured about her often incongruous experiences with inmates.

“They looked at me as a rich white woman, even though some of the call girls earned six times what I did as a headmistress,” she told an interviewer.

She also wrote two books in longhand on legal pads while she was incarcerated, Stranger in Two Worlds, the earnings from which she used to start her foundation and They Always Call Us Ladies: Stories From Prison. There’s a lengthy piece about Harris’ good works at The Daily Beast, and here’s another long read about the case written for NY Magazine in 1980 by Anthony Haden-Guest.

The best thing I read about Harris was this short article by Norah Ephron who also died in 2012:

…on March 12, 1980, when all of New York awoke to the news, this was what we knew: that Jean Harris, 57, the headmistress of the Madeira School, had driven from Virginia to Scarsdale, New York, and killed her former boyfriend, a best-selling diet doctor named Herman Tarnower, 69, by shooting him four times.

There it was: socialite held in doc slaying. It was a tabloid dream. The doctor lived in an “exclusive” Westchester home, the socialite headed a “posh” girls’ school.

We were thrilled. When I say we, I mean me, but I also mean every woman who has ever wanted to kill a bad boyfriend.

There was a kind of giddy exhilaration that passed through the city. I’m not just projecting. Everyone called everyone up. The day was completely blown discussing it. We were all thinking, You go, girl, even though that expression had not yet been invented.

It was clear there would turn out to be another woman (there was), and that she would be younger, prettier, blonde, and probably his receptionist (all true). But as it turned out, Jean Harris did not want to be a celebrity murderess like Roxie Hart, or even a poster child for women whose antidepressant supplies run low. She was a proud, prickly woman, a classic headmistress. The night of the murder, she’d worn a headband. She insisted to police that she hadn’t meant to kill Tarnower; she’d brought the gun to Scarsdale only to kill herself. She claimed that Tarnower had tried to take the gun away from her, and she’d accidentally shot him.

Yes, that was how so many of us reacted the the news–secretly cheering Harris on for getting revenge on a manipulative, cheating lover.  And, truthfully, it was a better story if she shot him deliberately.

Here are a few links to lists of people we lost in 2012.

Chicago Tribune photo gallery

LA Times photo gallery

U.S. News list of notable deaths

TV Guide photo gallery of celebrity deaths

Which ones affected you most?


Monday Reads

baby new yearHappy New Year’s Eve!!

Congress continues to drag us down its path of dysfunction.  This headline from Lindsey Graham should win him a congressional hearing for sedition.

But in an interview on Fox News Sunday this morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to oppose this must-pass bill unless Social Security benefits are taken away from millions of future retirees:
I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling unless we get serious about keeping the country from becoming Greece, saving Social Security and Medicare [sic]. So here’s what i would like: meaningful entitlement reform — not to turn Social Security into private accounts, not to take a voucher approach to Medicare — but, adjust the age for Social Security, CPI changes and means testing and look beyond the ten-year window. I cannot in good conscience raise the debt ceiling without addressing the long term debt problems of this country and I will not.

Unbelievable. We continue to see a series of really ridiculous memes spouted by the right. These included dragging Social Security into the debt crisis when it has nothing to do with the Federal budget, deficit or debt other than it is a primary investor in Treasury bills and bonds. We also continue hear about our country going the way of Greece or going bankrupt. We have the reserve currency of the world, a huge country filled with taxable assets and treasury bills and bonds under high demand. How many times do I have to call shenanigans on these cretins?

Graham isn’t the only republican willing to take the debt ceiling hostage to raise the age of social security. 

Two Republican senators want to use the threat of an economic meltdown to raise the retirement age and cut Medicare. Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN)  introduced a plan today that would raise the federal debt limit by $1 trillion in exchange for $1 trillion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as The Hill reported:

The Corker-Alexander dollar-for-dollar plan has several components.

It would structurally reform Medicare by creating competing private options giving seniors greater choice of healthcare plans. It would not, however, cap Medicare spending.

The plan would also give states more flexibility to manage Medicaid programs and prevent states from “gaming the federal share of the program with state tax charges.”

It would gradually raise the Social Security retirement age and use the “chained CPI” formula to calculate cost-of-living adjustments, curbing the growing cost of benefits.

In exchange, it would direct the debt limit be increased by the same amount as the savings generated from entitlement reform.

The U.S. will hit its debt limit  on or around December 31st. The Treasury Department estimates that, using extraordinary measures, it could avoid default for another two months or so. Allowing the U.S. to default on its debt via not raising the debt ceiling could cause a complete financial meltdown. The 2011 debt ceiling debacle — during which House Republicans nearly pushed the country into a default due to their intransigence on taxes — cost the country  about $19 billion in higher interest payments and  at least one million jobs.

So, here’s an interesting bit of history on its way to the British Museum.

The largest Viking ship ever found, a 118 foot troop carrier, is to go on display at the British museum 1,000 years after it helped King Canute control the seas of northern Europe.

The long boat, known as Roskilde 6 because it was part of a batch found in the Danish city, is slowly being dried out in giant steel tanks.

Once it is stabilised and fitted to a steel frame, it will travel to Britain to go on display at the British museum where it will be a star attraction at an exhibition.

The warship was discovered by chance in 1996 at Roskilde as the local ship museum was being extended.

It is believed it was deliberately sunk along with other ships to narrow the fjord and protect the approach to the former capital of Denmark.

It was an incredible example of ship technology in its day and would have taken up to 30,000 hours to build.

Once again, I agree with Paul Krugman who says that deficit reduction really isn’t the Republican goal in all of these fiscal cliff talks.  All we’d have to do is go back to the Eisenhower tax rates and we’d solve the problem pretty quickly which is why I hate it whenever I hear an idiot talk about bankrupting grandchildren’s future.  Again, World War 2 didn’t depress the 1950s or 1960s did it?  That level of debt and high, high tax rates didn’t bring about a second great depression.

Evan Soltas of Wonkblog and Joe Weisenthal of Business Insider both make the same point, in more detail, that I tried to make in my series on ONE TRILLION DOLLARS: the current budget deficit is overwhelmingly the result of the depressed economy, and it’s not clear that we have a structural budget problem at all, let alone the fundamental mismatch between what we want and what we’re willing to pay for that people like to claim exists.

Bush should’ve never been allowed to run two wars for decades without making people pay for it.

India’s outrage grows over the instances of gang rape and the death of one 23 year old woman.  Police are preparing arrest warrants in the case and will charge india protestssix men with murder.

The trial of the six, who allegedly assaulted the physiotherapy student in the back of a bus on Dec. 16, will start after police file charge documents on Jan. 3, Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said by phone today.

An Air India plane brought the woman’s body back from Singapore and it was cremated today, the Press Trust of India reported. Demonstrators gathered at the Jantar Mantar, an 18th- century observatory and traditional rallying point, demanding speedy punishment for the alleged rapists while some held placards calling for them to receive the death penalty.

Thousands joined protests and candlelit vigils to mark the death yesterday. Some protesters held placards calling for the improved treatment of women in India as they congregated in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Others braved the cold winter’s evening in New Delhi to carry candles or meet in quiet prayer.

So, that’s my offerings today.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Secretary Clinton admitted to hospital with Blood Clot in Brain

I certainly hope that karma ripens quickly for all those rotten rightwingers that wanted proof that SOS Hillary Clinton  suffered from a gty_hillary_clinton_dm_120216_wgconcussion.

Do you hear that faint sound? It’s the grumbling of conservative pundits who are now churning out a theory that Hillary Clinton is lying about her concussion to avoid having to testify about Benghazi. Clinton had a concussion recently, her team said Saturday. And The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher isn’t sending the Secretary of State a get-well card until she proves she was really hurt. He writes:

If she has a concussion, let’s see the medical report. Let’s see some proof that she’s not just stonewalling. If it’s true, then we can all wish her a speedy recovery. But it’s ridiculous to expect us to take her word for it.

And there’s more:

P.S. If you demanded Romney’s tax returns but you think it’s paranoid to ask for Hillary Clinton’s medical report, #YouMightBeALiberal

Of course Romney didn’t release his full tax returns, but that’s not neither here nor there. Back to Concussiongate: the State Department released a statement saying that “while suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion,” and Treacher is not alone in not buying that. Former United Nations Ambassador and Fox News commentator John Bolton insinuated Monday night on Fox News’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren that Clinton’s concussion was dubious, because he knows how to play sick. He said:

You know, every foreign service officer in every foreign ministry in the world knows the phrase I am about to use. When you don’t want to go to a meeting or conference, or an event, you have a ‘diplomatic illness,’ … And this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band.

She’s been admitted to NY Presbyterian and placed on anticoagulants.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines says her doctors discovered the clot during a follow-up exam Sunday. Reines says Clinton is being treated with anti-coagulants.

Clinton was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital so doctors can monitor the medication over the next 48 hours.

Reines says doctors will continue to assess Clinton’s condition, “including other issues associated with her concussion.”


Sunday Reads: Light one up and make sure you inhale that full bodied “respiratory presence.”

Smoking Santa...who would want to light up after a long night delivering gifts, right?

Smoking Santa…who would want to light up after a long night delivering gifts, right?

Good Morning

Journalism, is this what it has come to?

Right-Wing Publication’s Outrageous Cigarette Review Sounds Just Like Tobacco Industry Talking Points

The right-leaning  Daily Caller recently launched an outrageous editorial series by author Patrick Howley. “Cigarette Reviews for the Uninitiated: 18 Brands in 18 Weeks” reads like a parody of tobacco industry talking points, or some pundit idea of an end-of-year joke column. But on close inspection, it appears to be quite real. The expressed purpose of the series is stated clearly: “It is our hope that the research conducted herein by official TheDC cigarette critic Patrick Howley will inform and educate the public, as well as aid tobacco companies in their forthcoming product designs.”

Can you believe it?

Thanks to the Daily Caller, this advertising doesn’t always need to be paid for. Here is Howley’s surprisingly similar description of Marlboro Red.

“We were all American men, with one shared set of values and one clear international enemy” … “the full thickness of the product” … “its macho reputation” … “this moment is most satisfactory, providing a warmth and respiratory presence so lacking from other cigarettes” …. “a thick and thorough brand, to be sure, but very pedestrian in its goals.”

Please, someone tell me it is a joke.

There is something nostalgic with the phrases Howley uses, makes me think of those smoking scenes in the movie All the President’s Men.

[after seeing Carl Bernstein light up a cigarette in an elevator]
Bob Woodward: Is there any place you *don’t* smoke?

There is something about smoking a cigarette while typing away on the typewriter keys…a bit old-fashioned these days. With text messages and twitter statuses in under 140 characters, some things are becoming obsolete.  Think about it, something as simple as paper documents…which brings me to this next link I have to share with you today also touches on those newspaper men working at the Washington Post:  Noting the History of the Paper Trail

Bob Peterson/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images

Before the digital revolution, high stacks of office documents were common. They still are.

…Lisa Gitelman, a professor of English and media studies at New York University, there’s at least one aspect of Daniel Ellsberg’s leaking of top-secret Defense Department documents that scholars have failed to consider adequately: the Xerox technology that allowed him to copy them in the first place.

Actually, make that “copy and recopy.” In a chapter of her book in progress about the history of documents Ms. Gitelman describes the way Mr. Ellsberg obsessively made copies of his copies, even enlisting the help of his children in what she describes as an act of radical self-publishing.

“Even though we think of copying now as perfunctorily ripping something off, he was expressing himself by Xeroxing,” she said.

Gitelman is one of the historians of late that are practicing “paperwork studies.”

Ms. Gitelman’s argument may seem like an odd lens on familiar history. But it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called “paperwork studies.” True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do.

There is a new book out called “The Demon of Writing” written by Ben Kafka, who has become an expert on “paperwork studies.” Be sure to read the rest of the story at that New York Times Book Review link above.

I love researching the old-fashioned way, it is an art form…at least I think so. Hours spent in libraries, sitting down on well-worn carpets, surrounded by stacks of musty books…how wonderful!

But I guess there are some advantages to technology in the classroom. High-tech classrooms in Australia reviving Aboriginal languages

In a high-school classroom in western Sydney, teacher Noeleen Lumby is asking her pupils to recall the Aboriginal name for animals that indigenous Wiradjuri people have used for hundreds of years.

As she holds up stuffed toys representing some of Australia’s native wildlife, including a kangaroo, an emu and a cockatoo, the class of about 25 — many from Vietnamese and Cambodian backgrounds — come to grips with the ancient tongue.

“I like this because you get to learn new skills and you can speak some indigenous language,” said 12-year-old Tien Nguyen.

Lumby, who oversees the students as they use their new knowledge to create projects on computers and iPads, is passionate about filling a gaping hole in Australian education — the study of Aboriginal languages.

Lumby feels it is best for students to learn Aboriginal culture as well as the language, I think it is marvelous. Lessons we should be taking note of here in this country. But then, obsolete languages along with musty books are things students today don’t appreciate. (I speak from first hand experience…both my kids are allergic to books and reading. Sad isn’t it?)

On to another article, this one is about movie making…and one of my favorite pictures that was released in 1980. From Vanity Fair: Making Blues Brothers With John Belushi and Dan Akroyd—“We Had a Budget for Cocaine” Written by Ned Zeman and Photos by Annie Leibovitz.

The pitch was simple: “John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Blues Brothers, how about it?” But the film The Blues Brothers became a nightmare for Universal Pictures, wildly off schedule and over budget, its fate hanging on the amount of cocaine Belushi consumed. From the 1973 meeting of two young comic geniuses in a Toronto bar through the careening, madcap production of John Landis’s 1980 movie, Ned Zeman chronicles the triumph of an obsession.

Enjoy that article, it is a long one.

Sigh, now I will give you some links to news stories that are trending this weekend.

BB sent me this link last night, so…another Hindu is mistaken for a muslim: Woman Is Held in Death of Man Pushed Onto Subway Tracks in Queens

Police are charging her with second-degree murder as a hate crime.

A woman has been arrested in connection to the ambush killing of two firefighters in Webster, NY. New York woman arrested in connection with murder of 2 firefighters

Frank Luntz is now a consultant for CBS News, GOP Pollster Frank Luntz: ‘I Don’t Think The NRA Is Listening’ To Americans’ Gun Violence Concerns

Latest on the cliff of doom: Congress leaders huddle in quest for ‘fiscal cliff’ compromise

India’s gang rape victim goes home:

Body of India rape victim arrives home in New Delhi

India’s ‘Two-Finger’ Test for Rape Needs to End, Experts Say

Indian women have made it to the tops of their professions in India. There’s been a female Indian president, women run multi-billion-dollar enterprises and Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, is the most powerful politician in the country.

But on the peripheries of big cities and rural areas of the nation, women continue to fight for equal rights – and this is reflected in how authorities treat rape victims, human-rights groups say.

Human Rights Watch, in a report released Sunday in India, points to the so-called “two-finger test” as evidence of how India had failed to take rape seriously, often blaming women’s behavior for the offense.

In the test, which appears in Indian jurisprudence textbooks and is admissible in court, a doctor inserts two fingers into a women’s vagina to determine its laxity and whether the hymen is broken, signaling previous sexual activity.

The test perpetuates stereotypes of rape survivors as loose women and often is used by defense counsels to achieve acquittals, human-rights groups say.

Awful! I have avoided writing about this horrid case of gang rape and murder.

And here is the latest news out of Newtown: Claim seeks $100 million for child survivor of Connecticut school shooting

Now, just a few video clips of people lighting one up, or in the case of this first clip…lighting two up.

While watching Now Voyager with Bette Davis last night, I thought it is fabulous, those clothes…and those eyebrows on Davis when she is the dowdy spinster aunt.

No other cigarette smoking scene in history is as fabulous as this, except for maybe this one from To Have or Have Not:

Hey, speaking of Blues Brothers, fix the cigarette lighter:

No lighter? How about striking a match like Walter Neff in Double Indemnity:

…or the way De Niro takes a long drag in the film Goodfellas…

A few other scenes are mentioned in this 2005 article from The Guardian: I smoke, therefore I am

Can you think of any good movies without smoking in them? …If you discount historical films such as Barry Lyndon or Ben-Hur, a diet of non-smoking films would be almost unwatchable. But what would be most tragically lost are the great black-and-white smoking films of the 1940s – Casablanca, Now, Voyager, The Big Sleep – where wreaths of smoke are an essential and beautiful part of the cinematography, and where smoking quite clearly stands for sex. The Big Sleep (1946) opens with a title shot of two cigarettes smouldering in an ashtray that suggests more strongly than flesh scenes ever could that Bogart and Bacall are having an affair. And we learn a lot about the intimacy between Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in Now, Voyager from his habit of lighting two cigarettes at once and handing one to her. Cigarettes in movies are about far more than just whether the characters happen to have a nicotine addiction.

A-ha, starting and finishing this post with two articles on cigarettes…Journalism, there you are!

It is the last Sunday of the year, enjoy it and let us know what you are thinking about today…