Coronavirus, NYC & Impromptus Letters — Reader Mail to Jay Nordlinger

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An emergency field hospital set up by Samaritan’s Purse in the East Meadow of Central Park in New York City, April 4, 2020 (Jeenah Moon / Reuters)

Impromptus today, I begin with campaign advice — free campaign advice. And you know what they say about advice that’s free. (You get what you pay for it.) In any event, everyone likes to scratch his inner Karl Rove, or David Axelrod, once in a while.

The column ends with a verse from Psalms, especially pertinent to the period. So you might say, “From the ridiculous to the sublime.”

Here in the Corner, a little mail?

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An Impromptus last Wednesday was entitled “Jarring scenes, &c.” By “jarring scenes,” I meant field hospitals, in places you know well: parks, athletic facilities, and so on. A reader writes,

Jay,

. . . You reminded me of the time just after 9/11. I was working at 1 NY Plaza — next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal — at the time. I made it home that day, and returned to work the following Monday.

When I came up from the subway at Bowling Green, there were soldiers checking our IDs, and I saw that Battery Park and Bowling Green had been turned into encampments. Just a couple of tents on Bowling Green, but many in Battery Park. Throw in the companies of soldiers — can’t recall if they were regular Army or Guard — and it felt like a war zone.

Which it was. And now NYC is once again a kind of war zone. Prayers up for y’all.

On Friday, I published a letter from a friend who’s married to a woman who grew up in East Germany. She is pretty good at keeping supplies on hand. I mean, she knows about deprivation, and she prepares for a rainy day, let’s put it that way.

A reader writes,

Jay,

Do you know the German word for panic buying? I learned it in West Berlin, where it happened whenever the Soviets rattled the cage. Such buying is now back in fashion. The word is Hamsterkauf, which means “hamster buy.” Think of a hamster, stuffing its cheeks.

Heh, check it out.

In my Impromptus on Friday, I mentioned a former congressman in Georgia who’s running again. One of his tactics is to give away an AR-15 to one lucky constituent, or would-be constituent. The candidate refers to AR-15s as “liberty machines.”

An academic reader writes,

Dear Jay,

Your discussion . . . reminded me of something that I discovered as a young historian. The modern corporation DuPont began operations in 1802 as the “Eleutherian Mills” — a gunpowder producer. In the rough translation from Greek to French to English, that comes out as “The Mills of Liberty.”

Plus ça change . . .

Among other things, “Eleutherian Mills” is a beautiful phrase, isn’t it?

Anyway, today’s Impromptus is, again, here. See what you think.

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