Sunday, September 02, 2007


It's finally happened

I always wondered whether you could finish a crossword puzzles with answers that seem to fit, but are "wrong," or at least not what the puzzle author intended.

B and I just did last Sunday's (August 26) crossword puzzle. Here are the correct answers for the section in question:


The clue for 38 Across (answer: "AGES") was "It's been ____." We had "AGAS."

The clue for 49 Across (answer: "RAGGED") was "Rough." We had "JAGGED."

This meant that we had "RAAJ" for 33 down, whose clue was "Trunk location." Which I took to be an alternate spelling of RAJ, which means "the British rule in India," where they have elephants, which have trunks.

Okay, it's a stretch. And wrong, too, since RAAJ doesn't seem to be an alternate spelling of RAJ. But as a stretch, it's not that much stretchier than many of their correct answers. Like "Hugmetight" for "Short, close-fitting jacket" this past Friday.

Still, a lesson learned. Like the Multistate Bar Exam, sometimes you have to look for the "best" answer rather than a single "right" answer.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Don't let the screen door hit you, Condi

The front page story in today's NYT suggests that Condi Rice's soft landing from her bumpy ride as the Bush Admin's foreign policy guru may have to be somewhere other than Stanford University, where she was provost before joining the Bush team.

There's a lot of feeling of revulsion toward her by Stanford students and faculty. And in my view it's well deserved.

History will soon reveal that George W. Bush's governing style was characterized by two things. First, he was led around by the nose by a couple of key advisors who put or kept him in power or were surrogate father figures for having served in his father's administration: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove. Second, everybody else of importance in his administration was a flunky and a yes-man or -woman.

It's one thing for a mediocre non-entity like Alberto Gonzalez to act as flunky: unquestioningly towing the Bush party line at every step and then taking the heat to protect the President. It's quite another for somebody like Condi Rice to do so.

Loyalty can be an admirable quality, but within limits. Loyalty to a dishonest administration that makes historically bad decisions, loyalty that leads one to distort and manipulate facts in order to deflect blame for those historically bad decisions, shows a serious absence of integrity. Condi Rice was smart enough to know better, but lacked the moral fiber to do better. She should have resigned years ago.

The notion (always ludicrous, I thought) that she would be a serious candidate for president is surely dead now. That's justice. So is her rejection by Stanford, if that's how it plays out. A leading university like Stanford should be a community of conscience. Let her next post be an executive position at Halliburton.

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