Bah-BOOM-BOOM Riff Ripped

Sketch by James Thomas “Tom” Jones (1920-2000), born in San Antonio, Texas.

First published as .

To Her, Still

One’s home is her castle,
a refuge from hustle
and bustle, the jostle of mobs;
nest in which refuge to seek
from the insults that bristle
in digital wallows
and rants of apostles of doom,
by the wherry that’s painted on wood
on a wall of the room.

Kitchen to mortar and pestle
the herbs for the grub
that she rustles,
remove all the gristle,
leave only the muscle
of meats she imagines she eats.

A nook where to nestle
in comfort and wrestle with issues,
indite her epistles,
ensconced at the trestle desk
cunningly made from a door,
delight in the whistle
of blackbirds, bristle of brushes,
the thistle-and-mistletoe theme
of the rug on the floor.

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Two Centered Voices in the Din

After an illustration by Anne Anderson.

Bret Stephens, conservative columnist:

Imagine a TV ad from a moderate Democrat like Ohio’s Tim Ryan or Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger that goes something like this:

“I believe in the Second Amendment. But not for this guy,” followed by a picture of the Tucson, Ariz., mass murderer Jared Lee Loughner, “or this guy” — a picture of Aurora, Colo., mass murderer James Holmes, “or this guy” — a picture of Newtown, Conn., mass murderer Adam Lanza.

It would continue: “I also believe in the right to own firearms responsibly for hunting and self-defense. But not for this” — a picture of the scene outside the Uvalde school, “or this” — a picture of the scene from the Buffalo grocery store, “or this” — scenes from the Parkland massacre.

And it could conclude: “Justice Robert Jackson once told us that the Bill of Rights cannot become a suicide pact. That includes the Second Amendment. We can protect your guns while keeping them out of the hands of crazy and dangerous people by using common-sense background checks, 21-years-of-age purchasing requirements, three-day waiting periods and mental-health exams. It’s not about denying your constitutional rights. It’s so your children come home from school alive.

(The Conversation: “There Has to Be a Tipping Point on Guns, Right?” NYTimes, 6-6-22)

Matthew McConaughey, actor and Uvalde native:

(White House press briefing, YouTube, 6-7-22)

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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To Whom It Concerns on the Morrow

‘anta (you masc.), ‘anti (you fem.) — Arabic

Hey, U 2 + 3!

June 8 and Jan 9 are two dates written in bright lights for us who love you. Your penultimate mission in Oki is to celebrate the dickens out of that day which will have arrived in your longitude at this writing (June 7).

Aunt N and I will do same tomorrow. I have a made-in-store, 4-cheese pizza from HEB to cook in the oven. I’ll prepare a tapenade to enhance it with (or with which to) consisting of baby bella mushrooms (chopped), spinach, green and black olives, and roasted red bell pepper. A tres-leches cake (also from HEB) crowns the commemorative collation. Sparkling goblets of recently-delivered, chilled Ozarka water will be raised and quaffed in honor of the honorable honoree. Yessiree. It seems only years ago he was in diapers.

Your ever devoted you-know-what,


(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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‘There’s a Future…’

Soulshine Industries employees [sic] work on caskets donated to victims of the Uvalde shooting. []

A comment to a recent post here ( states:

“People kill people. Not guns, cars or anything else. People need help and they don’t get it. Our society decided that inclusion is more important than helping people and/ or making others safe from them.”

The comment alludes to a grave weakness of Texas government. It’s true that mental illness and weapons of mass destruction are a bad mix. After the Uvalde massacre on May 24, 2022, Texas governor Greg Abbot spoke about the importance of dealing with mental illness. Less than two months before that, however, he cut more than $200 million from the Texas commission that oversees mental health services in the state. According to the 2022 State of Mental Health in America report, Texas ranks fourth in the U.S. for prevalence of mental illness, but last for access to mental health care. At a press conference a day after the massacre, Abbott conceded that authorities were unaware of any criminal record or history of mental illness that could have flagged the 18-year-old Uvalde killer as a potential threat.

Nearly 10 years before Uvalde, in late 2012, 16 first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut hid in their class bathroom. A 20-year-old male fired more than 80 rounds from a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle into the 4½ by 3½-foot space, killing 15 of the children. The killer murdered 28 people at the school in all. One encounters variants of the argument that blaming guns for killing people is like blaming pencils for spelling errors. In this dismissive analogy the “errors” are human corpses.

A more reasonable conservative voice offers a glimmer of hope for reaching a modest middle ground:

There’s a future where America’s gun-ownership rate is as high as ever, where our schools still look like schools rather than airport security lines and where 18-year-olds under a demoniac shadow face meaningful obstacles to arming themselves for terrorism. Let’s try living there, and see what happens next. [Ross Douthat]


Kyle R. Cotton, “Trey Ganem’s Edna shop donates custom caskets to Uvalde shooting victims,”, 6-1-22.
Frank Bruni, “Gov. Greg Abbott Has a Lot of Nerve,” NYTimes, 6-2-22.
Zach Despart, “This Time Gov. Greg Abbott has few suggestions on how the state might prevent future mass shootings,”, 5-25-22.
Elizabeth Williamson, “From Sandy Hook to Uvalde, the Violent Images Never Seen,” NYTimes, 5-30-22.
Ross Douthat, “The Simplest Response to School Shootings,” NYTimes, 6-1-2022.

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Women Irritated the Painter. Oh Dear

“Woman-Ochre,” after its conservation. It is one of a series of dynamic works by de Kooning that stretched the female figure with slashing brushwork. “Women irritate me sometimes. I painted that irritation in the ‘Woman’ series,” the painter said in 1956. Credit… Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; J. Paul Getty Trust.

John Elderfield, who curated the last big de Kooning survey for the Museum of Modern Art, said that originally the Woman series upset different people in different ways… Some were dismayed by the vulgar treatment of the female form… Elderfield’s take is that the paintings’ power stems in large part from their particular combination of a classic medium and aggressive subject matter. “He was using thick brushes and broad swaths of oil painting in this way in which Venetian painters have for centuries…, traditional techniques to make alarmingly modern paintings, and I think this hybrid quality made people uncomfortable.”

(Jori Finkel, “Sacred or Sexist? After a Brazen Theft, Seeing de Kooning in a New Light,” NYTimes, 5-20-22)

There’s more alarm in the dismay it purportedly caused than there is in de Kooning’s gestural nude itself. Save “vulgar” for the Kardashians.

At the very end, [the conservator] Birkmaier “inpainted” a number of cracks so they are less visible on “Woman-Ochre.” “We did the minimum needed to return the painting to a stage where you can read it properly without noticing damage first.” Credit… Philip Cheung for The New York Times.

The photos detailing the work’s repair provide a nice close-up of pigment, stroke and surface.

One tear in the canvas is located just below the artist’s signature. Here it appears before conservation was complete. Credit… Philip Cheung for The New York Times.

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Pledge of Resistance

I pledge resistance to the flag of the AR-15s of America, and to the mythology for which it stands. Wounded nation under Fox, indefensible, with liberty and justice for some.

In the summer of 2008, the Supreme Court decided District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court held for the first time that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to gun ownership… Justice Scalia’s majority opinion held that [it] protected an individual right to keep a usable handgun at home… Justice Stevens argued that [its] protections extended only to firearm ownership in conjunction with service in a “well-regulated militia,” in the words of the Second Amendment… Nothing in Heller casts doubt on the permissibility of background check laws… Heller also gives the government at least some leeway to restrict the kinds of firearms that can be purchased… Most of the obstacles to gun regulations are political and policy based, not legal… because of an unduly expansive reading of Heller.

(Kate Shaw and John Bash, “We Clerked for Justices Scalia and Stevens. America Is Getting Heller Wrong,” NYTimes, 5-31-22)

…A violent society ought… to regard its handiwork… I myself would like politicians to view [the Uvalde photographs]: to look — really look — at the shattered face of what was previously a child and to then contemplate the bewildered terror of her last moments on earth. But that would not mean that the jig is up. People, not photographs, create political change….

(Susie Linfield, “Should We Be Forced to See Exactly What an AR-15 Does to a 10-Year-Old?” NYTimes, 3-31-22)

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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‘The Small Miracle of Translation’

Daisy Rockwell, who translated “Tomb of Sand,” and Geetanjali Shree, who wrote the novel. Credit… Andrew Fosker.

The novel… is the first in an Indian language to win the International Booker Prize, and the first in Hindi to even secure a nomination… [Translator Daisy Rockwell’s] work on the book showed “the small miracle of translation,” [Frank Wynne, chair of the judges for this year’s prize,] said, borrowing a phrase from the Italian author Italo Calvino.

One of the International Booker judges called “Tomb of Sand” an “extraordinarily exuberant and incredibly playful book.”

The International Booker Prize is awarded every year to the best book translated into English and published in Britain or Ireland. It is separate from the better-known Booker Prize, awarded for novels originally written in English, but it comes with the same prize money and has helped turn some authors into stars.

(Alex Marshall, “Hindi Novel Wins International Booker Prize for the First Time,” NYTimes, 5-26-22)

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Language Is a Weapon, Too. Keep It Sharp

… Any honest accounting shows that more of the blame for these senseless rampages lays at the feet of bought-and-paid-for politicians who have blocked any reasonable gun control measures in order to retain their own hold on power.

(Kara Swisher, “In the Texas Rampage’s Wake, Social Media Can Reform Itself,” NYTimes, 5-26-22)

When we lay fit blame at the feet of the venal, the craven and the vulpine, the blame lies at their feet.

Language standards must stand their ground. They’re all we’ve got at the moment.

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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To Whom It Concerns

Hey, you. I’ll love you every kind of always.

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Crisis Antidote: Neighborhood Bookshops

Cecilia Fanti, owner of the Céspedes bookstore, curates the books that appear on her shelves daily. Credit… Magali Druscovich for The New York Times.

The small shops are sprouting where their readers are, in residential areas, keeping alive the rich literary scene that made Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, one of the cities with the most bookstores per capita in the world.

Readers at the Malatesta bookstore in Parque Chas. Small neighborhood stores became lifelines under pandemic restrictions. Credit… Magali Druscovich for The New York Times.

“Argentina may always be in crisis but there are a lot of readers,” said Cristian De Nápoli, author and owner of Otras Orillas, a small bookstore in the Recoleta neighborhood. “And they aren’t just any readers, but readers who are always in search of what’s new.”

Nurit Kasztelan at her bookstore, Mi Casa, in Villa Crespo. Credit… Magali Druscovich for The New York Times.

(Daniel Politi, “Through a Recession and a Pandemic, the Book Business Is Thriving in Buenos Aires,” NYTimes, 5-26-22)

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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