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Opinion Readers critique The Post: How to get Sports on the right track

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Every week, The Post runs a collection of letters of readers’ grievances — pointing out grammatical mistakes, missing coverage and inconsistencies. These letters tell us what we did wrong and, occasionally, offer praise. Here, we present this week’s Free for All letters.

How to get Sports on the right track

On Halloween weekend, an American short track speed skater won a World Cup gold medal at a short track speed skating World Cup meet in Nagoya, Japan. The previous weekend in Beijing, that same skater, Kristen Santos, won bronze in the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter races. In addition, Brandon Kim, from Fairfax, placed fourth in the 1,000 meters in Nagoya, just missing the podium.

Santos represents the United States’ best medal chance in short track at the upcoming Winter Olympics. These achievements are surely worthy of coverage in the Sports section of The Post!

The next two short track World Cup events start Nov. 18 in Hungary, and the following week in the Netherlands. Another local athlete, Maame Biney (Reston), will be competitive. In addition, long track speed skating World Cup competitions began Nov. 12 in Poland and continue Nov. 19 in Norway, Dec. 3 in Utah and Dec. 10 in Canada. D.C. native Conor McDermott-Mostowy will compete at the meets. I hope The Post covers these events.

Michael Casson, Washington

I opened the Nov. 5 Sports section hoping to find a story on or at least a mention of Taylor Fritz, the American tennis player who had just beaten the No. 10-ranked player to get to the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters tournament after having beaten the No. 5-ranked player in his previous match.

There was no story — though there was room for a feature about what basketball coaches are wearing this fall — but what was really head-scratching was that, in the tiny Digest blurb about the tournament, the player names and results of the other three matches played that day were at least noted, but there was not a peep about Fritz, who, arguably, with this result has made himself the No. 1 male American tennis player.

John Eggerton, Springfield

One quick and relatively painless improvement for The Post: Keep fashion articles in Style, not Sports. Candace Buckner’s column on the front page of the Nov. 5 Sports section, “Sartorial sins,” was a fluff piece calling for National Basketball Association coaches to up their fashion game. Really? On the front page of Sports? There are no better sports-related stories than that?

Jim McMahon, Springfield

China, Taiwan and factors to consider

As the top global powers continue to posture, all eyes are on Taiwan,” Clyde Prestowitz wrote in his excellent Oct. 31 Book World review of Elbridge A. Colby’s “The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict.” But unaddressed were two critical factors related to a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan: the geography and Taiwan’s defenses.

A Chinese amphibious force would have to cross the 100-mile Taiwan Strait. No nation has undertaken an amphibious assault that distance in more than 70 years. What experience and what capabilities do the Chinese have for such an undertaking? (Remember, Adolf Hitler, after conquering most of Europe, could not cross the 20-mile channel to invade England.)

Taiwan has significant military capabilities: a well-trained army and air force, and a navy with four submarines (albeit two outdated) and more than two-score attack craft armed with antiship missiles.

Even without U.S. assistance, Taiwan, thus, could muster significant anti-invasion capabilities. Is China building an assault force to cross the 100-mile strait? And, if a landing were made, could the initial assault force be defeated on the beaches? Could the Chinese leadership survive a failed attempt to invade Taiwan? Would the leadership in Beijing take that risk?

These factors must be considered in a discussion of a potential Chinese assault on Taiwan.

Norman Polmar, Alexandria

The writer is a defense analyst, consultant and author who has consulted to the Chinese Navy.

Too much trick, not enough treat

This 80-year-old does the crossword puzzle daily.

Evan Birnholz has for some time tried to introduce new approaches to “crosswords.” The Oct. 31 puzzle took the cake. This 60-year veteran “crossword puzzle” solver tore up what Birnholz presented as a “crossword puzzle” in frustration and anger. I wonder who he thinks his audience is.

Ivan D. Socher, Rockville

I like Evan Birnholz’s Sunday crosswords, but his “Haunted House” collection on Oct. 31 was way too clever and, finally, off-putting.

I like a challenge, but this was too much for me, and it started me thinking about how relatively conservative I am about puzzles. I want to spend between 30 minutes and an hour on a large puzzle and then move on to other activities. The Haunted House threatened to take up much too much of my day — bringing me more frustration than satisfaction. I can only hope this is not a trend in Sunday puzzle presentations.

Tom Wiener, Washington

They’re not all animal houses

Kate Cohen, in her Nov. 2 op-ed, “Let’s do away with college fraternities,” painted an unfavorable, monochrome image of this group. If she painted with a broader brush, she might have realized that most fraternities, by way of inviting new members who they think share similar social (and other) positive traits and interests, develop reputations reflecting these higher standards. Each fraternity earns its own reputation, and, like people, most are good.

Good people don’t get much attention in the news. Bad people do. Same with fraternities. It’s unfortunate that Cohen’s was a hapless exposure to the Greek life. I was Greek at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Pi Kappa Alpha. What she described would not have been condoned in our fraternity — neither then, while I was on campus, nor now. Cohen might consider refreshing her palette before taking the Greeks, in toto, down the tubes again.

John Hebbe, Fairfax Station

Refuting a common climate canard

Catherine Rampell repeated a common but erroneous canard in her Nov. 2 op-ed, “America’s inaction on climate is getting embarrassing.” She claimed the United States has done nothing to address climate change and carbon issues. In fact, we have done quite a lot, just not in the same way other countries have. Since U.S. carbon emissions peaked in 2005, our annual carbon dioxide output had, by 2019, fallen by 847 million tons, a 14 percent reduction (figures for 2020 and 2021 are biased by the pandemic). This exceeds reductions by the European Union and Japan, the world’s third-largest economy.

Today, more than 12 percent of electricity in the United States is generated by “modern” renewables such as wind and solar. However, the chief contributor to the change in carbon dioxide emissions has been the vast increase in U.S. natural gas production, mostly from unconventional sources, and the consequent replacement of coal in power generation. Coal accounted for about 60 percent of U.S. power generation in the not-so-distant 1980s. By 2020, coal’s share of generation was less than 20 percent, while clean-burning gas was responsible for 40 percent of power generation in the United States.

Unlike the E.U. countries that have emphasized government mandates for energy technology while scrambling to keep their increasingly expensive lights on, even reverting to coal in some places, the United States has reduced both carbon and other emissions based on new technology and private investment while retaining attractive electricity prices. Our approach has contributed significantly to the country’s economy over the past 15 years, making us a major exporter of gas, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs and bolstering government budgets through royalty and tax payments rather than depleting them with subsidies.

Unfortunately, the efforts of the European Union, United States and Japan are dwarfed by the increase in China’s carbon footprint, which increased its annual carbon dioxide emissions since 2005 by more than 4 billion tons, more than twice the combined reductions of the European Union, United States and Japan. China’s total yearly carbon dioxide emissions, at more than 10 billion tons, exceed those of the E.U., United States and Japan combined by more than 10 percent.

Donald Hertzmark, Washington

The writer is an independent international energy consultant who has worked on all major energy technologies and primary energy sources since the 1970s.

Dog testing is cruel

In his zeal to defend the National Institutes of Health’s dog experimentation, Dana Milbank callously dismissed the public’s well-founded concern for the mistreatment of these poor dogs [“Why is Anthony Fauci trying to kill my puppy?,” Washington Sketch, Oct. 26].

The details of when, where and why this abuse takes place are irrelevant to the majority of Americans who, according to the Pew Research Center, oppose animal testing.

I’m among them. My own research with dogs lucky enough to be released from laboratories shows how dogs are traumatized by experimentation, including their impoverished confinement and the harsh procedures they endure. Sadly, most dogs will die during experiments or be killed. These ethical concerns are on top of the poor efficacy of animal testing.

As a scientist, I agree with Milbank that facts matter. And the facts are that dog testing is cruel, being funded with our tax dollars and needs to stop.

Stacy Lopresti-Goodman, Washington

The writer is a scientific adviser for the White Coat Waste Project.

A lot to consider here

The caption for a photograph that accompanied the Oct. 30 news article “Big Oil faces growing reform pressure from stakeholders” used the expression “multiple companies” to describe a suggested breakup of Royal Dutch Shell. The accompanying article indicated that the suggestion was to divide Shell into two pieces. It would have been clearer and simpler to use the word “two” in the caption.

This raises the larger question of general use of “multiple,” which can mean anything from two to infinity, in place of a more accurate term. It further implies that its user hasn’t taken the time to find a more accurate and often simpler term, or that the number in question is so large that no one can gauge it. Editors should insist on more accuracy. If the number is known, say it (“two,” “three,” etc.). If the number is not known precisely but its range is, use words such as “few,” “several” or “many.”

William Jacobs, Fairfax

The misquote that just won’t die

Perhaps it was appropriate that on the day before Halloween we found once again it is impossible to drive a stake through the heart of a bogus zombie quote that pops up every few years. I am a big admirer of Colbert I. King and faithfully read his columns, but in his Oct. 30 op-ed, “Republicans on the insurrection? Don’t confuse them with the facts.,” he repeated an old hoax that apparently can’t be killed, despite efforts to correct the record. More than four years ago, my letter to the editor corrected the same false story he included in an April 1, 2017, column. As I said then, “Once something is in the public record, no matter how erroneous it may be, it resurfaces.” Sadly, the point I made in my letter was proved by Mr. King’s repeating the same hoax that I attempted to correct then:

“King correctly noted that former congressman Earl Landgrebe (R-Ind.) was among President Richard Nixon’s most zealous defenders during the 1974 Watergate hearings. However, an Aug. 16, 1974, New York Times article, ‘Hoax in Congressional Record Sets Off Inquiry by House Chiefs,’ told of at least two statements that appeared in the Congressional Record that were falsely attributed to House members Landgrebe and John Ashbrook (R-Ohio). The Times quoted from the false statement, which said, in part, ‘As you know, I was a faithful supporter of our embattled President to the bitter, sour end, stating even that I would be shot with him if necessary. Many wonderful people wrote me recommending this course.’

“After these bogus statements made it into the Congressional Record, House Speaker Carl Albert (D-Okla.) denounced the action, and steps were taken to reform and tighten the way in which statements were submitted to be part of the Congressional Record.”

My hope is that this false story can be put to rest so we don’t see its repeat in a future edition of The Post.

Jim Dykstra, McLean

The writer was a staff member for Rep. Bill Steiger (R-Wis.) and worked on Congressional Record reform.

A cold turkey this year

Every Sunday, I open my Post, pick up The Washington Post Magazine first and flip to the last page. I still cannot believe that Gene Weingarten’s column is gone. I reread his last column to confirm this.

Worst of all, Thanksgiving is approaching, and my turkey legs are shaking. Weingarten will not be here to call the Butterball hotline to get us through this stressful but beloved holiday. And I’m not even planning to roast a turkey. I gotta get hold of myself.

Emily Thrower, Richmond

Share the love

In her Oct. 30 op-ed about Halloween music, “How to fill (and not fill) your Halloween party playlist,” Alexandra Petri should have shown some love for D.C.’s the Clovers, the first group to have a hit with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s “Love Potion No. 9.” Yes, the Searchers enjoyed success with the song, but their version was predated by the Clovers and the Coasters. It was not as big a hit for either the Clovers or the Coasters, but they were better renditions, in my opinion.

M.E. Travaglini, Annapolis

It looks great in black and white, too

The Nov. 1 edition featured some 25 pages with color, of which no fewer than five were devoted to a loss by a mediocre football team, and yet The Post elected to place a photo of a magnificent, lime-green 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme convertible with white seats on the third page of the Style section — in black and white. Have you no shame?

I take this travesty somewhat personally, as this masterpiece rolled off the assembly line across the street from the high school I attended at the time, two blocks from my childhood home.

D.W. Burgett, Bethesda

Fuel for arguments

Do the writers of The Post’s fine climate change editorials talk to the authors of the editorials supporting Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) massive toll lanes project?

Either way, they should read the Oct. 31 obituary for Anthony Downs, “Economist shed light on motives of voters, commuters,” who “explained why expanding the highway system would lead to more traffic jams.”

Ross B. Capon, Bethesda

An omission that spoke volumes

The description in the Nov. 3 editorial “Starvation in Afghanistan” of an Aug. 26 attack in Afghanistan as “In the chaos, a terrorist attack killed 13 U.S. military personnel” told us much about the United States’ view of Afghanistan. It made no mention of the several hundred Afghan civilians who died or were injured in the attack.

Jeremy Pressman, West Hartford, Conn.

Read more Free for All letters:

Readers critique The Post: Be clear about what an ‘algorithm’ is

Readers critique The Post: These are space tourists — not astronauts

Readers critique The Post: Missing an important point on pregnancy and the coronavirus

Readers critique The Post: What were we smoking?

Readers critique The Post: Carve out space for this artist’s credit

More letters to the editor

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