Thursday, February 21, 2013

Free enterprise: in The Nation? (Puzzle No. 3,273)

This week, Hot and Trazom talk up the crowdfunding as an alternative means for constructors to publish their puzzles and make some money.  Now it might give some of the leftmost readers of The Nation the vapors, but this really is a validation of the principles of the free market.  A willing seller offers a product, and if it is good enough, willing buyers come forward and pay for it.  The result is a profit for the constructor, earned by satisfying his fellow man's (or woman's) desire for an intellectual challenge.  The economist Walter Williams put it in a very clever way: dollar bills as "certificates of performance."

Regardless of your politics, you're encouraged to use the invisible hand and raise the value of cryptic crossword construction, so more people will get rewarded for their efforts and we all get more puzzles to solve.  Maybe take the price of a book you would have bought and read if not for the time you spend solving, and divide it up among the two or three constructors whose work you enjoyed most.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): Moderate.  I thought it was going to be a breeze: I started with a nice picket fence of downs, but ran into trouble at the lower left.

Hozom's comment: Crowds and Power, in which Patrick Berry laments the lack of opportunities to publish American cryptic crosswords, and Hot and Trazom call our attention to Berry's Kickstarter page (noted here a coupla weeks ago) and other crowdfunded puzzle projects.  Of course Berry (partnering with Trip Payne) was one of the constructors vying for the gig at The Nation: they were my second choice not because I think less of them as constructors: I just didn't want to see Berry working on straight cryptics instead of his terrific variety crosswords, for which he has a regular engagement in the Wall Street Journal and a regular mention here in Sunday brunch.

Solution and annotation to be published Monday.  Post hint requests in the comment space below.

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