The insinuation may well be the critique’s metaphorical point. But as a photo caption, it was — to put it generously — imprecise. As everyone knows who watched the hearings or read a journalistic account of them, Barrett’s raised notepad introduced a conspicuously light moment into these ponderous and predictable “hearings.” Barrett’s action was in response to a query from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who wondered what notes the nominee had been referring to. Barrett answered by displaying a blank notepad.
That was the fact the caption should have described.
Gretchen Fallon, Arlington
Things that go bump in the night sky
Regarding the Oct. 16 news article “Close-call massive collision illustrates a ‘ticking time bomb’ of space debris”:
The article covered a growing concern. The penultimate paragraph, however, smacked of sensationalist journalism: “With each traveling some 17,000 mph, a collision would have been catastrophic.” Here, the article drew a false conclusion. It is the relative velocity of the two objects that would determine the level of catastrophe. If one were traveling at 17,000 mph and the other at 17,001 mph in the same direction, their relative velocity would be 1 mph, and the collision would be a mere bump. If they were traveling in opposite directions, however, the situation would be much different.
Kenneth Nellis, Washington
He's the pope for a reason
The Oct. 5 news article describing a worldwide “strategy of ridicule” and relentless criticism used by politicians to dominate and gain control, “Pope’s new encyclical warns of regression,” was relegated to Page A12. The pope took a position against “tribalism, xenophobia and the dangers of the social media age.” The pope lamented the spread of corrosive conduct and prescribed a return to civility in the interest of peace. One had to peruse The Post to read an article with “universal” pertinence and appeal.
Nearly two-thirds of The Post’s front page reported on President Trump’s health and behavior. Neither “Inside” nor “In the news” made mention of the pope’s thought-provoking assessment of the decline of the world’s social, political and moral well-being. I am not Roman Catholic, but I believe the pope is the world’s preeminent proponent of international peace and benevolence. His analysis of trends that affect us all deserved more prominent coverage than reports about ending the SAT and protests in Iraq that shared the front page.
Howard Kernodle, Spotsylvania
A place for very good boys and girls
Thanks for the Oct. 11 Travel article “In Vt., a haven for dogs and the humans who love them.” My family still is grieving the loss of our dog this past March. It somehow is comforting to read about others who understand that grief and a place dedicated to that human-dog bond. Dog Mountain is now on my list of places I plan to visit once we get past the coronavirus disaster.
Linda Miwa, Burke
Labels, like words, matter
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was absolutely right when she said “words matter” [“13 charged in plot to seize Mich. governor,” front page. Oct. 9]. Because they matter, would The Post please start referring to groups of armed White men plotting crimes to disrupt our government for what they are: gangs — terrorist gangs. To call them “militias” is to give them an air of legitimacy they imagine but do not deserve.
The racial bias of the language labeling armed groups can’t be overlooked. White men are reported to be in a “militia” while Black and Latino men are in a “gang.” Wolverine Watchmen, Proud Boys — whatever they fancifully call themselves — are violent gangs. They should be named (and prosecuted) as such.
Laurie Genevro Cole, Vienna
More Linus, less lemon curd
I opened the Oct. 14 Food section to find myself engulfed in a parody of overachieving Washingtonian angst, a grim world in which children — in addition to getting into the best preschool and, subsequently, Harvard — are forced to master chemistry while concocting a Pavlova with lemon curd, history while dishing up Sumerian lamb stew and math while making pound cake [“Teach your kids to cook by feeding their curiosity”].
Cookbooks now teach 3-year-olds to master nutrition and the alphabet, and turn a 6-year-old’s search for pizza into a data analytical task. Maybe it’s all a ploy to make SAT prep and cello practice look comparatively enticing.
I recently stumbled across my first cookbook: “The Peanuts Cookbook” by Charles Schulz. It had recipes for Snoopy’s root beer float and Frieda’s French toast. It taught me that cooking was fun, and that I could do it. Having raised two fine cooks (one briefly a professional), bought dozens of cookbooks and cooked thousands of meals, I remain convinced that that approach — adventurous fun, with Mom or Dad nearby with Band-Aids and encouragement — is the best way to inspire “The Joy of Cooking,” the title of my second cookbook, another simple, delightful and instructive tome.
Charles Sweeney, Washington
Cacophony amid the quietude
It was ironic that for the Oct. 10 Where We Live article on Potomac Falls, “Privacy and lots of places to play” [Real Estate], a photograph of a man with a leaf blower was chosen to illustrate the tranquility of this neighborhood. Leaf blowers are destroying our tranquility.
Marney Bruce, Bethesda
O say can you LLC? It seems not.
The Oct. 7 Metro article “Metro selects firm to build 8000-series car” erroneously referred to Hitachi Rail Washington as a “limited liability corporation.” An LLC is not a corporation; to refer to it as one is an oxymoron. An LLC, a limited liability company, has no shareholders and issues no stock. A “C” or “Sub-S” corporation does issue stock and have shareholders, and the name is usually followed by “Corp.” or “Inc.” An LLC is typically owned by an individual or is a wholly owned subsidiary of a larger entity, as is the case here. Both forms are granted limited liability.
Al DiCenso, Easton, Md.
The not-Washington Post?
I was very disappointed to see that The Post, of all newspapers, did not include D.C. in its Oct. 14 state-by-state Election 2020 section. How are we supposed to ever achieve statehood if our hometown paper excludes us from its coverage? Even though our more than 700,000 D.C. residents don’t have representation in Congress, we do have three electoral votes.
Ethan Leifman, Washington
Now that's what I call flypaper
My compliments to the inspired Oct. 9 Style section label.
George Topic, Arlington
Lessons in art appreciation
I appreciated the juxtaposition of Philip Kennicott’s Oct. 11 Arts & Style article “When art no longer feels like an escape,” revisiting the Daumier sculptures in the National Gallery of Art, with Sebastian Smee’s “Art collectors are in the art, and there’s a lot left unsaid,” a commentary on David Hockney’s “American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman).” Just as Daumier satirized the political and cultural figures of his time, so does Hockney draw a caricature of a mid-20th-century modern marriage. This couple is no more animate than the sculptures that they display outside their characterless house. Even the tree seems not sure whether it is dead or alive. The only life derives from the cloudless sky and the faces of the totem pole. In Hans Sedlmayr’s wonderful phrase quoted by Kennicott, if satire is akin to “capital punishment in effigy,” the unhappy couple spotlighted by Smee is hanging in perpetuity.
And perhaps they have been punished by the artist for walling themselves from reality. Hockney painted his double portrait in 1968, perhaps the worst postwar year until this one. The Collectors have placed their acquisitions in their pristine environment, oblivious to the cities burning across the country or in Watts in their own hometown, three years earlier. Writing about mid-19th-century France, Kennicott notes that when conflicts are unresolved, they go underground, to return later in new forms. Some 50 years after Hockney painted them, those conflicts ignored by the Collectors have resurfaced.
In a way, it would have been better if Hockney had de-identified his subjects and called his painting “The Collectors” or “Unhappy Couple.” The Weismans become the victims of Hockney’s much broader social commentary — in the same way that Daumier’s figures were stand-ins for the cruelty and venality of civic life, as Kennicott said — but they deserve praise as major donors and patrons of the arts in Los Angeles and Minneapolis.
Final note: Thanks for Smee’s ongoing series “Great Works, in Focus,” of which the Hockney article is a recent installment. It’s like having a personal curator bring you something new every week.
Howard Shapiro, Bethesda
I look forward to Philip Kennicott’s articles on art. His Oct. 11 review [“When art no longer feels like an escape,” Arts & Style] was bleak, dark and morose, with language and imagery that left me unsettled. I was curious and concerned for his range of dysphoric emotions, even despair, that appeared to pervade his visit and the related writing hours thereafter.
His fourth paragraph, which began, “I had thought I might escape the outside world for a few hours, shut out the chaos and crisis,” set the emotional tone. Then followed “shabby tutu” and key words to characterize the other collections such as “ugly,” “tumultuous,” “cruelty,” “leer,” “smirk,” “crooks,” “incompetence,” “injustice,” “vitriolic,” etc.
Perhaps Kennicott should have delayed publication until he balanced his writing mood for the pleasure of so many patrons who anticipate returning to the National Gallery of Art. I enjoyed the same National Gallery in lighter spirit.
Margaret Roberts Drucker, Washington
Who was that half-masked man?
Next to the Oct. 8 Sports article “NFL sees its virus problem get worse” was a photograph that accompanied a package on the Washington Football Team [Barry Svrluga’s column, “Welcome to Washington football. The QB spin cycle may make you sick.,” and the article “A sudden change”]. The photograph showed an unidentified Washington coach wearing a neck gaiter that wasn’t covering his nose.
According to a Duke University study, wearing a neck gaiter may be worse than not wearing a mask at all. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s novel coronavirus guidelines state that both the nose and the mouth should be covered to prevent respiratory droplets from traveling and possibly infecting others with this deadly virus.
Hey, Washington Football Team, how about doing your part to control the spread of the coronavirus and educating players and staff on effective and proper mask use?
Cintia Cabib, Potomac
A different kind of field trip
Sam Ward’s art that accompanied the Oct. 16 news article “Farmworkers bring children to fields after schools close,” about farmworkers, left without school or day care, taking their children to the fields while they work, was eye-catching, gut-wrenching and spot on. Bravo!
Eleaner Loos, Fredericksburg
Because 'Archie Trail' just doesn't have the same ring to it
Granted, Mark Trail was a little stiff, but he was a faithful steward of the forest and a friend to animals. Generations of readers found quaint comfort in his manly adventures textured with nature lessons. Sadly, Jules Rivera, the new illustrator of this Americana classic, has transformed Mark into a hapless dolt bumbling through a landscape of insipid sketches resembling old “Archie” comics.
Mark Trail would rather be eaten by a bear than suffer this indignity. Perhaps he was, and I hope it was quick. RIP Mark Trail.
Robert Dane, Alexandria