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A Bad Year Ends, a Worse One Begins: What Will You Do With 2017?

"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring." -- David Bowie

William Rivers Pitt, Truthout In the face of a more brutal new year, we cannot be rabbits gone "tharn" -- frozen at the sight of oncoming headlights. (Photo: jayRaz / Flickr)

Sunday, January 01, 2017 | Richard Adams, author of the incredible Watership Down, passed away on Tuesday at age 96. He joined among the departed of 2016 Harper Lee, Daniel Berrigan, Joseph Medicine Crow, Muhammad Ali, Rob Wasserman, Prince, Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher, Pat Conroy, Vera Rubin, Cyril DeGrasse Tyson, George Michael, David Bowie, Rashaan Salaam, Edward Albee, Glenn Frey, Michael Ratner, Maurice White, Pat Summitt, Umberto Eco, Michael Cimino, Toots Thielemans, Patty Duke, W.P. Kinsella, Gordie Howe, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Morley Safer, Janet Reno, Tyrus Wong, Gary Shandling, Harry Wu, Ralph Stanley, Mose Alison, Melvin Laird, William Trevor, David Meltzer, Phife Dawg, Geoffrey Bowie, Paul Kantner, Alvin Toffler, Gwen Ifill, Eli Wiesel, Ursula Franklin, Bobby Hutcherson, Gene Wilder, Arnold Palmer, Leonard Cohen, John Glenn, all but three members of Brazil's Chapocoense soccer team and the entire Alexandrov Military Ensemble of Russia.

That's only a portion of the list. It's the best I can do without grinding my teeth.

Richard Adams invented a word, did you know that? "Tharn." The word describes what a rabbit will do when it gets pinned down by headlights in the middle of the road. Rather than flee or fight, the rabbit will freeze on the spot, eyes wide, ears laid flat, and await in despair the onrushing lethality of contact. "Going tharn," Adams called it. I don't know if it qualifies as onomatopoeia, but as far as words go, it sure sounds like what it is.

William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now.

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