NYT Mini for Monday, November 23, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: HUME

David Hume (1711–1776) was a noted historian and essayist, but is best known as one of the most important philosophers ever to write in English. The last of the great triumvirate of "British empiricists", he is widely regarded by fans and critics alike as an influential skeptic and atheist.

It is difficult to determine Hume's personal religious views and this ambiguity enabled him to write with more freedom.

"If we ask whether Hume believed in God, the answer is 'no, but'. He did not believe in the God of standard theism, or in any variation thereon in limited theism, but he did not rule out all concepts of deity, and neither was he non-committal on the subject."

— David O'Connor, Hume on Religion

One of his influential ethical concepts is the Is–ought problem: morally prescriptive conclusions cannot be derived from any number of purely descriptive premises. (Ironchariots.org)

Sold! Yeah, I'm basically automatically on this puzzle's side for no other reason than the David HUME reference (5A: "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding" philosopher).  Hume is 100% badass as far as philosophers go. If you've never read Hume, well, he is, so you ought. Also I think we can all be slightly relieved that "Enquiry" was spelled in the correct, British way. That is, correct because that's how Hume, as a British guy, would have spelled it, not correct in general.

Actually, as I've learned just now, they are technically two different words, and for Hume's purposes it seems like 'inquire" would have been more accurate as he was definitely making a 'formal investigation'. So I guess something is AMISS with that title (3D: Not quite right). This announcement brought to you by the Department of Pedantry.

Anyway, yeah, I just corrected David freaking Hume on my crossword puzzle blog. That's how I do it around here. That's what my life is like.

 Harry who??

Harry who??

So earlier this week we had "Harry Potter's mount" and now we have "Harry Potter's mark" (4D) as a clue for SCAR. I think I like that. It's high time we had a full-blown multi-day meta-theme in the Mini.

I definitely like the contrast between the highbrow HUME and the (supposedly) lowbrow Harry Potter. This is the kind of varietal contrast that yesterday's all-TV-all-the-time offering was so sorely lacking. See? I'm not crazy; that other puzzle truly was VAPID (6A: Intellectually unstimulating). It wasn't just me.

I can't help but morn the lost opportunity of cross-referencing the clues for IRIS (7A: Purple spring bloomer) and RED (4D: The "R" of Roy G. Biv). I don't know about you, but I totally use my iris to see that shit.

Not really anything else to say about this one. It's not the sistine chapel of crosswords, but it's got plenty of VIM (6D: Energy). 

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, unscrupulous mercenary of CrossWorld