1.  Be sure to read this incredible New Yorker feature, "The Power of Nothing" by Michael Specter, about placebos. Among the  assertions: "Valium has no discernible effect on anxiety unless a person knows he's taking it."

2. A nude charcoal drawing of Lady Gaga by Tony Bennett -- as seen in Vanity Fair magazine -- is being auctioned on eBay. The current bid is $5,400.

3. Russell Simmons bought all the ad time dropped by Lowe's on TLC's reality show All-American Muslim next week.  The new ads will promote Simmons' RushCard pre-paid Visa debit card. [Hollywood Reporter] Meanwhile, Russell's nephew Diggy Simmons is heading over to Brooks Brothers (346 Madison Avenue) tomorrow, December 14, 5 to 8 p.m., to celebrate the holidays at a benefit for St. Jude Children's Hospital.

4. Check out "The 106 Best Street Art Photos of 2011." [StreetArtUtopia] (Thanks for the tip, DB)

5. Anna Calvi, Eleanor Friedberger and New Moods are playing BrooklynVegan's holiday party tonight, December 13, 8 p.m., at Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn).

6. Wondering what to give your drummer friends for Xmas?  How about an Electronic Drum Machine t-shirt?  It's got nine different drum kits plus a looper built -in and it's only $29.99 here. [ThinkGeek]

7. Rihanna is selling her "leaky" Beverly Hills mansion for only $4.5 million. The singer bought the 8,520-square-foot home in 2009 for $6.9 million, but is suing the previous owner and the builder as well as the real estate agent and home inspector involved in that transaction.  [CBS News]

8. Two people claim they got ear infections in Carsten Holler's isolation tank art installation at the New Museum. [Gothamist]