Monthly Archives: July 2020

NYT Crossword Special March 2020 Equal Pay Day Complete

There’s no WSJ Friday puzzle, so here’s a special puzzle from NYT from March of this year.

Overall easy, which seems always to be the case for the special puzzles. I don’t mind that. I finished this one in 6:49. And, like the other special puzzles, it taught me something.

14A Music genre from the Caribbean: SOCA

So what even is soca? I’d never heard of it. It’s Soul of Calypso from Trinidad. Its creator, Ras Shorty I, formerly Lord Shorty, born Garfield Blackman, died 20 years and a little more than two weeks ago. He had 14 kids. That’s a lot of kids!

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2000/jul/15/guardianobituaries2

Have a great weekend, everybody! It’s supposed to be a hot one here in the other Southern California.

NYT Crossword 7-31-20 DNF

Yeah, I got demolished by this one and then finally called it. I’ve been watching the health officials testify before the House Select Subcommittee in background, and this whole thing is a mess. Jim Jordan once again is trying to steamroll, bully, and pontificate rather than find anything out.

Maybe I was close to getting the answer to a key clue that would let me resolve the rest, but almost 40 minutes in, and I’m calling it. I don’t think I did enough to have any other opinion about this puzzle than it was tough.

Reminder that I won’t be doing the Saturday NYT crossword puzzle because I do that with friends, so I’ll do some other puzzles for tomorrow’s posts instead.

NYT Spelling Bee 7-31 final

It took me a long time, but I finally got the pangram.

This was a much more satisfying puzzle than any of yesterday’s. So many words and so many words that should have been included like LAMED and [Valerie] PLAME and [Mark] HAMEL.

I know it’s Hamill! Don’t get excited.

It’s a good way to end the week for the Spelling Bee puzzles.

WSJ Crossword 7-30-20 Complete

As easy as the NYT puzzle was today, the WSJ one was not only much harder but just as unsatisfying.

The answer to the clue for 60A Backwards, and a hint to four of this puzzle’s answers was INREVERSE. Now, that made me think that the entire first word of those answers was in reverse, but no. Take a look:
16A Performance in a Bollywood film? RANIDANCE
First off, Rani Dance? Like rain dance? The Wall Street Journal decides during a time of good choices to make an Indian-Native American joke clue? This goes beyond the 3D Full-groan wordplay PUN. But we’ll keep going.
19A Huddles on a San Francisco football field? NINERCIRCLES
I had been thinking it would be something to do with Levi’s, but nope!
36A A visit to the nail salon? MANIVENT
Remember nail salons? You know, the places that more frequently than not almost have all-caps signs? Somehow they seem to come out NAiLS.
56A Recesses in a Bauhaus-inspired cathedral? SQUARENICHES
I didn’t know what Bauhaus is. It’s square modern stuff. From Germany. Nazis kicked them out, so they probably were pretty good. I’m intrigued. https://art.art/blog/10-bauhaus-principles-that-still-apply-today

So you see that it’s just a couple letters reversed, and they’re not even all in the first word of the pair.

The week’s almost over. July is almost over. My birthday is coming up. Hooray?

NYT Crossword 7-30-20 Complete

Well that was way easier than I thought it was going to be. The clues were linked, so once I got the hang of it, it kinda filled itself out.

But that also means I was kind of disappointed! I looked forward to struggling with the Thursday puzzle. The Spelling Bee today also was underwhelming. It took very few words to get to the genius level.

The clue I have a story about is 5D Rental availability sign: TOLET.

I took a trip in the summer of 2014 (you know, when travel was a thing) that included some days in London. I saw a bunch of TO LET signs, and that was new to me because signs I’d seen around LA were SPACE AVAILABLE or FOR RENT. But no TO LET.

So I had a good time seeing the signs with lampposts in the space between the two words.

A London street with a lamppost that makes the TO LET sign look like TOILET
It looks like TOILET!

This has been a clue more than once so far in the last couple weeks, I think, but I figured it was worth sharing the story about it today.

NYT Spelling Bee 7-30-20

Having woken up from the earthquake in LA, I decided to do the Spelling Bee before passing out again.

I got CHUTZPAH very, very quickly. But I was still many away from the genius level.

Yesterday a couple of my tweets were liked by twitter.com/notaspellingbe1, an account that posts words that don’t count but should.

I decided it would be worth trying CAPTCHA if only to lament its exclusion.

I think this is the first time CAPTCHA has ever made me happy.

NYT Crossword 7-29-20 Complete

I’m still watching the hearing, and it’s driving me crazy. Why should these guys even show up if they’re not going to tell the truth?

I was going to write a long thing about how Jim Jordan is hurting America (Matt Gaetz just said pundint instead of pundit. Ugh. How easy must the Florida Bar Exam be?!) and how his opponent Shannon Freshour https://twitter.com/ShannonFreshour should be able to capitalize on Jim Jordan’s lunacy to make up the war chest gap, but that’s an off-topic post for another time.

This crossword has a tech safety theme. 49A It may require letters, a number, and a special character — as seen in 20-, 33- and 39-Across: STRONGPASSWORD.
20A Reduced-fat option: TWOPERCENTMILK
33A Mobile device that debuted in 2016: IPHONESEVENPLUS
39A Highly sought-after restaurant rating: ONEMICHELINSTAR

I like the story about how the Michelin rating system started. Michelin, yes, the same Michelin as the tire manufacturer, is the Michelin that started the restaurant ratings. They did in 1926 what people have been relying on AAA for for our entire lives: helping people figure out where they should go and therefore creating a need for the company to be needed. See, if you hear about an amazing restaurant, don’t you want to go there–to drive there? You wear down your tires whenever you drive, and then you need more tires! AAA cares about you needing roadside assistance, and I never would have gotten a flat if I never drove. (Interestingly enough, the AAA tow truck that came to my aid was hanging out around the corner and was was very familiar with the pothole that sliced through the sidewall of my Michelin Primacy. I now have a set of Michelin Pilot tires on my car. I am very happy with them.)

WSJ Crossword 7-29-20 Complete

Another day, another hearing. I’m watching the testimony of Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Tim Cook in front of the House Judiciary Committee, so I’m not going for time today. Also if prosecution for perjury is on the table, these guys are only going to avoid jail time due to covid concerns.

Hang on, I gotta write something about what I’m hearing right now in this hearing.

Congresswoman Jayapal asked Jeff Bezos about an Amazon employee’s prior testimony that Amazon does not “use any specific seller data when creating its own private brand product.” To me, that sounds like they’re seeing what sellers are doing in aggregate, so what does it matter if it’s not specific to a seller? Like if Lou Bega’s wife asked him if he’s faithful to her and he said, “I am not seeing one girl outside this relationship.” But he’s seeing many girls, so that would make Lou Bega still unfaithful, right?

Congresswoman Jayapal asked if Amazon ever accesses third-party seller data when making decisions. Jeff Bezos just said, “Uh… I can’t answer that question yes or no. What I can tell you is: We have a policy against using seller-specific data… but I can’t say that’s never been violated.” Jayapal cited a Wall Street Journal (Hey! that’s the paper whose puzzle I’m supposed to be writing about! I’ll get to it soon. Don’t worry.) that says that they do look at popular sellers and then aggregate the data to figure out what Amazon should do on their own. Bezos says that they’re looking into it, which Jayapal said that clearly he’s not denying it.

She continues. A former employee testified to the committee: “There’s a rule, but there’s nobody enforcing or spot-checking. They just say, ‘Don’t help yourself to the data.’ It’s a candy shop. Anybody can have access to anything they want.” She asks if category managers have access to nonpublic data about third-party sellers and their stuff.

Bezos’s reply is what follows:

“Uh, I–here’s what I can tell you: I–uh, we do have certain safeguards in place… it’s a voluntary policy [not to look at third-party seller data].” Congresswoman Jayapal clarified that observance of their safeguard policy voluntary and there’s no enforcement of the policy? Bezos, still stammering: “Sorry! I, uh, may have mispoke (sic). I was trying to say that Amazon’s–the fact that we have a policy is voluntary.”

Jayapal concludes that whatever policy they have isn’t working, so shenanigans.

Also they’re using aggregate data even if there’s only seller of a thing, so aggregate=specific in those cases, and Amazon is screwing the seller. Hooray.

OK back to what you likely came here to read.

Oh, Steube just said pundint several times when he meant pundit. Good times.

Now back for real (unless something else is notable).

What’s cool about this hearing (don’t worry, this is about the crossword) is that everyone in this committee is mad at these fellows, and the theme of this puzzle the answer to 37A The start of a Lincoln line, and a hint to the circled letters: AHOUSEDIVIDED. This committee is united in its ire, though not necessarily in its arguments. The clues related to the theme:
17A Cry from Michelangelo & 19A Humble: COWA(BUNGA■LOW)LY
23A “Jabberwocky” word for four o’clock in the afternoon & 26A Purchasable grab bag in a video game: BRILL(IG■LOO)TBOX
49A Land agent Charles who was collectively shunned for not reducing rents 52A Lists for chairs: BOY(COTT■AGE)NDAS
57A Barista’s creation & 60A Sluggish: MO(CHA■LET)HARGIC

I didn’t know that boycott was named after “Capt.” Chuck, who seemingly was as much a captain as Dr. Phil is allowed to practice medicine. Fun reading https://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/captain-boycott-man-and-myth/