02.12.10 -- The Descent of Man



Darwin's writing on the subject in The Descent of Man came twelve years after his work On The Origin of Species, and was by no means the first work on human evolution. As such, the book is a response to various debates of Darwin's time far more wide-ranging than the questions he raised in Origin. It is often erroneously assumed that the book was controversial because it was the first to outline the idea of human evolution and common descent. Coming out so late into that particular debate, while it was clearly Darwin's intent to weigh in on this question, his goal was to approach it through a specific theoretical lens (sexual selection) which had previously been undiscussed by the other commentators at the period, as well as considering evolution of morality and religion. The theory of sexual selection was also needed to counter the argument that beauty with no obvious utility, such as exotic birds' plumage, proved divine design… Wikipedia

Friday, February 12, 2010 -- Darwin Day and Lincoln's Birthday

Puzzle by Kevin G. Der, edited by Will Shortz

Yesterday's crossword covered today's birthday co-celebrant, Abraham Lincoln, and last year, The New York Times gave us a crossword commemorating their shared Bi-Centennial... HERE.   So, let's just go with Darwin!   Nine 15-letter across entries (considered a dexterous achievement in crosswording circles) constitutes the main feature of this Friday crossword -- in descending order as follows:
  • GEOMETRIC SERIES (1. 9 + 3 + 1 + 1/3 + 1/9 + …, e.g.)
  • ACTIVE INTERESTS (16. Dating service questionnaire heading)
  • THE DESCENT OF MAN (17. Seminal naturalistic work)
  • STAINLESS STEELS (18. They’re dishwasher-safe)
  • YOU KNOW THE DRILL (33. Routine statement?)
  • ESSENTIAL ORGANS (44. Heart and brain)
  • TELLS IT LIKE IT IS (53. Doesn’t hedge)
  • REAL ESTATE AGENT (54. A lot may be on one’s mind)
  • EDMONTON ESKIMOS (55. 13-time Grey Cup winners)

The resulting short stuff -- ALAN, ALLA, ANKA, ASHY, ATEM, CTNS, EASE, ECHT, ETAL, ETRE, EWOK, FIR, FLITE, FOB, GATS, GIGI (49D. 1958 Best Song Oscar winner), ISME, ITTO, JAR, JAKE, JELLO, LARC and LATKE, LEE, MIDI, NINO, OTEA, OWS, POKY, REFER, RICER, SEED, SLAM, SSNS and SSTS (52D. Fleet fleet, once), TAR, TRAP, TRIG (32D. One of the Palins).
Other -- AIOLI (38A. Fish garnish); AZOLE (22D. Nitrogen compound); 41D. “Alistair COOKE’S America” (1973 book); CYGNET (41A. What the ugly duckling really was); DAYBREAK (35D. Time of awakening); EROTIC (11D. Sizzling, so to speak); EVEN THEN (5D. “Sure, but …”); 40D. Dan JANSEN, 1994 Olympics speed-skating gold medalist; JOULE (23D. Physicist James who contributed to the laws of thermodynamics); OP ARTIST (34D. Creator of some illusions); ORION (27D. Odysseus saw him as a shade in the underworld); OZONE (30A. Thunderstorm product), RAJAHS and ROYAL (21A. Some 21-Downs and 21D. One with subjects); SETS FREE (10D. Spares); SPLIT (29D. Lane pain?), TESLAS (6D. 10-kilogauss units); and that Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth-Class -- WALL-E (28D. Animated character who likes “Hello Dolly!” songs).



Click on image to enlarge.

Puzzle available on the internet at

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games.

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Remaining clues -- ACROSS: 19. Main character?; 20. Tree-line tree; 25. Tir à ___ (bow-and-arrow sport: Fr.); 27. Punch lines; 31. Fit by careful shifting; 32. Help in hunting; 36. ___ francese; 37. Puttering; 39. Novelist who was a lifelong friend of Capoe; 40. Ducky; 42. Tipping point?; 43. Where one might keep time?. DOWN: 1. Hoods may conceal them; 2. German “genuine”; 3. “Cup ___” (1970s Don Williams song); 4. Trend in 1970s fashion; 7. Potato preparation aid; 8. California’s Mission Santa ___; 9. Milk holders: Abbr.; 12. Point (to); 13. “This ___ … Then” (Jennifer Lopez album); 14. Citation abbreviation; 15. Govt. database entries; 24. He had a #4 hit with “It’s Time to Cry”; 25. Hanukkah nosh; 26. Visibly horrified; 31. Sci-fi’s Chief Chirpa, e.g.; 42. Need for some shots; 43. Top-___ (sports brand); 44. To be in a faraway land; 45. Basis of development; 46. Compliment’s opposite; 47. Hand ___; 48. Lightman who wrote “Einstein’s Dreams”; 50. “Lemme ___!”; 51. Chile child.


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