Sunday, January 16, 2022

Mailbag

A façade in New York City, December 2021 (Jay Nordlinger)

In today’s Impromptus, I touch on many issues, as usual — starting with “Let’s go, Brandon,” moving to the economy, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Desmond Tutu, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and so on. Something for everyone to like and dislike, I would think. In other words: an Impromptus column.

Now, some mail. A column last Wednesday brought in this:

Hi, Jay,

Your reflections reminded me of a thought I’ve had about all the anti-vaccine sentiment with which we’re saddled.

Regardless of its origin, be it from a lab or from nature, the novel coronavirus has become one of the worst, most pervasive threats to humanity, unleashed upon the world by the actions and policies of a Communist government. In response, the technological minds of the Western world set to work, developing vaccines — and soon, anti-viral therapeutic medicines — specifically made to mitigate this threat.

Historians (if future generations allow them) should be able to point to this as one of the greatest Western triumphs since the end of the Cold War. One would think that even now, we should be cognizant enough to celebrate these remarkable achievements as evidence of what can be done when exceptional minds are free do their best work.

Instead, we are overwhelmed with people who vociferously and proudly proclaim themselves to be “real Americans” and expend vast amounts of time and energy decrying the honest efforts of scientists who have moved medical mountains to help us survive.

That is a blunt assessment. Care for something lighter? In that Wednesday column, I wrote about Tiger Woods, the ex-wunderkind, and his wunderkind of a son, Charlie. A reader writes,

Mr. Nordlinger,

. . . Although I am a sports fan, I have only ever been the most casual golf fan. If someone has it on TV, I’ll watch without complaint, but I would never intentionally turn it on. But that was not true when Tiger was “in the hunt.”

I can’t explain it. Not every shot was perfect, nor did he always win. But there was just something about him that made me want to watch. I even occasionally would put the “Tiger Tracker” on while at work during the early rounds of majors.

And now there’s Charlie. I wish them both well. (By the way, I blame you in part for this fascination with Tiger. I read your magazine pieces on Tiger way back when . . .)

Ha. Happy to have the blame. Also on Wednesday, I wrote,

Leonard Bernstein once said, “I’d give five years of my life to have written The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Some of us would give a month or two, or more, to have written Sleigh Ride. Leroy Anderson wrote something perfect and enduring.

The same reader who wrote about Tiger Woods writes,

I’m something of a musical Philistine, though I’m grateful for those who truly love it and know what they’re talking about. In fact, I now have one child who graduated with a music degree and one who is currently a music major in college, in spite of my lack of culture (obviously, they benefitted from my wife’s DNA on that score). In any event, I have always loved Sleigh Ride, and my musical children play a duet of it every year when they get together. Just last night, in fact, they sidled up next to each other at the piano for the first of what will be many iterations this year. It was delightful and brings a tear to my eye.

Marvelous.

Finally, I wrote about language on Wednesday, and about apostrophes in particular. A reader writes,

Jay,

When St. John’s University has a game with, say, Clemson, a sportswriter can refer to “Clemson’s coach,” but how is he to refer to the coach of the St. John’s team?

Thanks for the years of wonderful columns.

Thank you, sir. In any event: I would skirt the issue. I’d write “the St. John’s coach” or “the coach of St. John’s.”

Again, for today’s Impromptus, today’s grab-bag, go here.

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