NYT Mini for Saturday, March 26, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: Science — Stuff related to science

  • ATOMS [4A: Parts of molecules]
  • MOLE [4D: Unit in chemistry used to measure 4-Across]
  • IONIC [3D: Kind of bond in chemistry]

And, more tenuously:

  • CSI [1A: Forensics show with several spinoffs]
  • STEM [2D: Flower supporter]

Word of the Day: EMILY

Emily Bazelon (born 1971) is an American journalist, staff writer for the New York Times Magazine,[1] and a senior research fellow at Yale Law School. Her work as a writer focuses on law, women, and family issues.[2][3]

Bazelon is a writer for the New York Times Magazine and former senior editor of Slate.[2] She has written articles about controversial subjects, such as the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld trial[4] and post-abortion syndrome.[5]

She is also a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine.[6] Before joining Slate, Bazelon was a senior editor of Legal Affairs.[6] Her writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The New Republic, and other publications.[6] She has worked as a reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area and, in 1993 and 1994, as a freelance journalist in Israel.[7] (Wikipedia)

I know EMILY basically got a shout out just the other day in the puzzle that specifically referenced the Slate Political Gabfest, but come on, you know who I am and that I'm not going to let a chance to name drop Bazelon whenever humanly possible [8A: Poet Dickinson]. I mean, it's not like I can think of anybody else named Emily, can you? No, you can't. How poetic.

This puzzle is a pretty solid piece of construction. I'm never not pleased to see science-y stuff littered about the place, so no complaints from me here. I'm probably giving it too much credit with some of those more tenuous "themers," but I don't care. I'm just pleased to finally see CSI actually doing something useful in a crossword grid. You probably could say the theme is just "chemistry" and get rid of STEM, but where's the fun in that?

 Not parametric, but still an abomination

Not parametric, but still an abomination

The MOLE really is a fantastic unit, though of course its status as a unit is not without controversy. As you know, unlike all the other SI units, the mole measures parametric properties instead of metric ones. I know, I know, it's a bitter, contentious issue in the scientific community and I am not taking sides, except to say that the mole can probably go to hell. I mean, nobody refers to "the dozen' as a unit, amiright? Anyway, if you want to read more about moles and the ontology of parametric units, I recommend this excellent paper by Gordon Cooper and Stephen M. Humphry which I have definitely actually read and did not just Google right now for a dumb metaphysics joke.

I quite like GENOA [7A: Italian port, or a type of salami], both as a clue/answer and as a salami. Oh, hey, I guess as an Italian port too, nice place. But mainly the salami. Along with the sprinkling of culture we get with CES [9A: These, in French], this is a nice counterpart to all the science. And we also get a little music history too. CAGE is almost certainly the most important artist of the last hundred years, but hey, it's cool you decided to go with the shark thing [1D: Safety item when diving with great white sharks]. I have no problem with that.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, soppresata of CrossWorld