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.

These examples are no laughing matter

I was shocked at the insensitivity of the March 25 Style article “Internet to ship stuck in Suez: You are a mood” and even more taken aback that The Post would print it. The article pointed out that we are all starved for comic relief, and we certainly are. The article pointed out examples of it being okay to laugh at the mistakes of others and of ourselves. But the article began by lumping “an ongoing pandemic. Crisis at the border. A spate of mass shootings” in with the silliness of a 1,300-foot-long ship getting stuck in a canal that handles 20,000 ships a year. The writer should go to the border and look into the faces of the children. Nothing funny there. Or talk to those who lost family to the pandemic. No funny stories there either. And the description of “a spate of mass shootings” — could that have been more callous?

 Shame on The Post for including such examples of horror in what was supposed to be a funny story.

Michele Kreiss, Silver Spring

We're better at etymology than entomology

The March 22 front-page article “Brood X cicadas ready to emerge after 17 years” called the coming horde “giant fly-like bugs.” This is only half right. Cicadas are indeed large true “bugs” of the order Hemiptera. But they are not in any way “fly-like” — except that cicadas can fly. 

A cicada has four wings, and a fly (Diptera) has only two. A cicada (one gram) is about 65 times larger than a common housefly (15 milligrams). All insects lay eggs, but the life cycles of cicadas and flies are completely different. Cicadas are harmless to humans, while many kinds of flies bite and can transmit deadly diseases. 

But, no matter the differences, we in the metro area are in for an amazing natural phenomenon when Brood X takes the stage to sing its love songs. 

Gary Letcher, Lewes, Del.

Paper, no plastic

The March 28 Sunday Opinion commentary on the devastating impacts of plastics on wildlife [“I thought I’d seen it all studying plastics. Then my team found 2,000 bags in a camel.”] pointed to the widespread harm caused by plastic bags. It is time we address our common use of plastic bags, including in the delivery of newspapers. Every day, my paper arrives wrapped in one or more plastic bags. There are compostable bag alternatives for which I would be willing to pay a bit more to gain the environmental benefit.

Robert Shugoll, North Potomac

The case of the missing sleuths

No March Madness bracket is without controversy. So my two cents on the best detective bracket [“Literature’s best detective,” Sunday Arts, March 28] is validation of Stephanie Merry’s wonderful endeavor. How could Martin Beck, the father of Nordic noir, have been overlooked? And is Iceland too small of a “conference” to merit attention? Arnaldur Indridason’s Inspector Erlendur would surely have made it into my Final Four. But these are small compared with the enjoyment the detective bracket has given me. It has also added some new names to my to-read list.

Laird White, Arlington

The Post’s bracket for March Madness for detectives in literature committed more than one crime itself: a capital offense in disregarding Nero Wolfe, a titan among modern masters with 33 novels, 41 shorter works plus TV, radio and film versions of his sleuthing genius. And a felony in not including Inspector Espinosa, who does for Rio de Janeiro what Guido Brunetti accomplishes for Venice.

Michael Stout, Washington

Not picture-perfect, but overwhelming

The definition of irony was on the front page of The Post’s Sports section on March 24. According to the dictionary, irony can be categorized into different types, including verbal, dramatic and situational. I add to this photographic. The lead article on the right side of the page [“More charges of inequity prompt an NCAA review”] describes the inexcusable disparity between the facilities and services provided at the NCAA basketball tournament to the women’s teams compared with the men’s. The adjacent article [“Unsung Collins finds her place with toughness”] describes the raw toughness of Mimi Collins, the 6-foot-3 forward who was a key part of the success the University of Maryland’s women’s basketball team had at the NCAA tournament.

Apparently, the disparity in women’s basketball extends to photographic journalism. Someone as gifted as Collins deserves a better photo than what The Post provided, an off-balance and largely obscured image of Collins, which mostly featured the opponents and not the play. I’m pretty sure if this were an article about a member of the men’s team, the picture would be much, much better. Ironic!

Henry Levin, Chevy Chase

Maryland women’s basketball (as opposed to a men’s team) was above the fold in the March 23 Sports section. I’m overwhelmed and delighted. 

Karen Wolf-Branigin, Washington

Reporting outside the ball

Congratulations on the March 24 Sports profile of Conrad Anker, “Twilight of the alpinist.” It is rare to see articles in The Post about sports other than football, baseball and basketball (fortunately, soccer is well covered). There are so many other sports that could be covered that make interesting stories for those of us who could not care less about the more conventional sports. 

As a cycling fan, it would have been nice to read about the many races that have already occurred this year, such as the UAE Tour, Strade Bianche and Paris-Nice. 

Bruce Wright, Reston

Not a song for our Maryland

Regarding the March 23 Metro article, “State song glorifying Confederacy to soon be tossed out”:

Easily the raunchiest Confederate relic north of the Cotton Belt is Maryland’s never-in-mode state song, “Maryland, My Maryland.” A humdrum tune with lyrics lambasting the liberators of 4 million enslaved human beings, this offensive little ditty never should have found a vocalist or a publisher, much less enshrinement by any honorable body.

I was heartened to see that Maryland’s State Senate, with advocates ranging from staunch liberal Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery) to archconservative Michael J. Hough (R-Frederick) spoke unanimously to rid Maryland of this horrid vestige. But what I would have liked to have seen was The Post calling attention to the occasionally lonely fight for this noble abolition waged in previous years by thoughtful visionaries such as state Sen. Howard Denis of Chevy Chase, a Lincoln Republican, in the 1970s and ’80s. Their efforts deserve our respect, too.

James Lee Annis Jr., Silver Spring

Communities need to grow together

Not given to writing editors, I feel compelled to write to praise the insights and writing style of The Post’s Robin Givhan. “Americans are stubbornly unmoved by death” [news, March 24] stands in resolute contradiction to the news articles of grieving communities producing heaps of flowers by chain-link fences while vague numbers of hearts “go out” to the victims.

Givhan alone points out the emptiness of these cliches and the truth they obscure: “Community doesn’t extend beyond one’s front door.” If your readers recoil in horror at the idea of such a selfish America, let them prove Givhan wrong by empowering their political representatives with their indignation to move quickly to create significant legislation to limit easy access to unregulated firearms. Increasingly, Givhan’s columns are must-reads.

Robert Nevitt, Washington

Mounting questions

The thumbnail photograph of the storm damage in Alabama and Mississippi intrigued me [“In the News,” front page, March 19]. What caught my eye were the two deer peering skyward, apparently looking out for the next tornado. Inquiring minds want to know: Were they storm victims or mounted hunting trophies blown out of a damaged home? 

Unfortunately, when I read the full article, “Storms cause destruction throughout the South,” there was no mention of them. I had hoped for something like “no loss of human life but two unlucky deer were caught in the tornado’s path.” Or maybe “the homeowner counted her blessings, ‘At least my six-pointers survived.’ ” Please, such an oddity deserved explanation!

Frank S. Anastasi, Rockville

Boys will be boys

Regarding “Lessons on how to better raise our boys,” Judith Warner’s March 23 Book World review of Emma Brown’s book, “To Raise a Boy: Classrooms, Locker Rooms, Bedrooms, and the Hidden Struggles of American Boyhood”:

Brown has written a book about how to raise a boy, centered on all the things that are wrong with boys nowadays.  The Post chose to have the book reviewed by another female author. Neither has a clue about what it is like to be a boy — or a man. Neither apparently has anything good to say about boys or men. If the book had been about Black women written by a White man, would The Post have had another White man review the book? Perhaps in the 1950s or earlier, but I doubt it would be today. Warner writes that Brown finds that, “bro-y norms around male friendship deprive boys of the kind of soul-nurturing connections (and relationship-building skills) that girls enjoy with their same-sex friends.” I have a daughter as well as a son, and I know different on both counts. This book may have needed reviewing, but this review was blatant sexism and detracts from the dialogue so badly needed.

Steve Livengood, Washington

Female authors are no mystery

The March 24 news article “Author takes on sexism in Japan’s office culture” described how Hotate Shinkawa drew on her experience as a lawyer to write her debut mystery novel about a female lawyer. Shinkawa’s novel sounds fascinating, but the authors rather gave the impression that Japanese women don’t write mystery novels. 

Japan’s publishing industry is dominated by men, but Shinkawa follows in a strong tradition of female Japanese mystery writers nonetheless. Women such as Masako Togawa, Kaoru Kurimoto, Natsuo Kirino, Miyuki Miyabe and Kazuki Sakuraba — all of whom have award-winning mystery novels available in English translation — have also crafted thrillingly twisty tales about female protagonists. I particularly recommend Togawa’s “The Master Key,” which is about an unsolved kidnapping (and a hidden corpse) in an all-female apartment complex.

Amanda Kennell, Raleigh, N.C.

Squeaky-clean comedy

I always have been enamored of “Dilbert.” I don’t always “get” office day-to-day humor nor office Zoom-conference etiquette. I retired before “network” was used as a verb.

The “Dilbert” strip on March 25 [Style], though, was totally relatable. I don’t order online every day, but I’m positive Dawn and Palmolive appear on my wish lists — probably on my birthday list as well. I am tickled to surprise myself with cleaning supplies.

Such a cheap date.

Monica Nelson, Fairfax

Fast but focused

I loved the slim-yet-strong feature “Five Myths” in the March 28 Outlook section. The subject was poverty. By wielding laser-focused quotes and statistics, an expert like Mark R. Rank can burn away all that we get wrong in a three-minute read.

Liz Marshall, Takoma Park

Mall muddle

The fifth paragraph of the March 23 news article “Suit accuses Mormon Church of fraud” stated that “funds for the mall came from ‘commercial entities.’ ” I reread the first four paragraphs to find out to which mall the article referred, but there was no mention of the mall. I continued reading  and — aha — finally found the mall in the 10th paragraph, which said “a shopping mall in Salt Lake City called City Creek Center.”

Reading this article would have taken less time and been less frustrating if the mall issue had been explained before it was casually referred to in the fifth paragraph with its significance hidden in the 10th paragraph. Articles should inform and not be mysteries.

Michael J. Maloney, Fairfax

Poetry in reporting

Cherry blossoms might be the most cherished feature of a Washington spring, but Martin Weil’s clever descriptions of the season’s arrival also merit a long round of applause [“Spring sun makes its debut — and breaks winter’s last morning grasp,” Metro, March 21]. Of the first day of spring, he wrote: “Given the unruliness and undisciplined capriciousness of weather, the day does not always have a meaning that we can feel in our hearts and minds, our bones and fingertips. But Saturday it seemed to.” In his next weather article, Weil wrote, “Spring . . . conducted itself on its first full day in office Sunday like a seasoned and perhaps seasonal veteran.” He has managed to entertain us this way for years. How does he do it? I dread the day that Weil walks out of the newsroom and hope he is trying to train a successor.

Ben Beach, Bethesda

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