I’m pretty close to finishing this week’s Listener puzzle, called “Refrain”. Each clue, when solved, contributes a letter to a line from a song, followed by its source. I figured out the line after solving only about a quarter of the clues, from having just enough letters to guess what the source was. Googling the source and the one probable word I had of the line gave me the song.

Eight of the crossings “clash”, which is to say the across and down words have different letters and we have to figure out which to put into the grid. I think I know the criterion, but if I’m right about that, one of the clashes I’ve found could be resolved either way and I’ll have to figure it out from the fact given that the eight unused letters spell out a word related to the song.

I got off to a shaky start because the first five crossings I found included three of the eight clashes, which seemed like long odds and I thought something must be wrong. But I looked over my few answers up to that point and they looked right, so I pushed ahead and everything has worked out so far. Now, as I write this, I have two unsolved clues and two undiscovered clashes.

Question Two: What Rule of Sanskrit Grammar Is Being Violated in the Following Line of Javascript?

A question in a physics textbook I’m looking at:

A psychic conducts seances in which the spirits of the dead speak to the participants. He says he has special psychic powers not possessed by other people, which allow him to “channel” the communications with the spirits. What part of the scientific method is being violated here?

The answer is supposed to be that the results aren’t reproducible by others, but unless the psychic is claiming to be doing a scientific experiment, how is any part of scientific method being violated?

If the reasoning were valid, it would be valid even if we changed the nature of the claim itself. So rewrite it a little and see if it still makes sense:

A singer holds concerts in which words sung to musical accompaniment convey emotion to the participants. She says she has special performance powers not possessed by other people, which allow her to move the participants to a “standing ovation” whenever she sings a particular combination of words and notes bearing the title “People”. What part of the scientific method is being violated here?

Go Back to Bed and Wait for Lunch, For Example

Gorge-raising quote of the day, for me anyway, from an article in today’s Contra Costa Times about french toast:

“There’s nothing better than food you can pour syrup on.”

I can in fact think of any number of things I’d rather do first thing in the morning than take into my mouth a forkful of anything covered with syrup.

“Vive le Différence”

I just finished this week’s Listener puzzle, “Vive le Différence” by Kevin. Well, I have the grid filled in, which is all I need to enter the competition. But I don’t really understand it. According to the instructions, “the resulting grid symbolically marks a milestone on a journey begun on March 23, 1991, as calculated from a slightly earlier departure”. I see what is formed by the replaced letters, but I don’t know what the journey is or what the milestone is or what is meant by the slightly earlier departure.

Later: Ah, just figured out what the milestone is and all the rest. Nice.

And We Thought We Had It Bad

According to an article in the Guardian, a couple of recent studies suggest that the amount of oil that has been spilled in the Gulf of Mexico so far from the BP explosion is spilled every year in the Niger Delta. But nobody makes any effort to clean those spills up. And that’s been going on for decades.

“There are more than 300 spills, major and minor, a year,” said Bassey. “It happens all the year round. The whole environment is devastated. The latest revelations highlight the massive difference in the response to oil spills. In Nigeria, both companies and government have come to treat an extraordinary level of oil spills as the norm.”