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In praise of computerized acrostics

Computers make crossword puzzles slightly easier, but they make acrostics do-able.

Paper-based acrostics are as much fun as re-sorting pied type. Plus, since most of the fun of an acrostic is seeing sense emerge from mere letters, like ships resolving out of fog, solving them electronically removes the penalty for wrong intuitions. And, for me, and I guess for most who indulge in the occasional acrostic, the fun part is watching your brain see words that your reason entirely missed. It feels as if an alien is speaking through you, although the alien is really just the history of your species’ evolution.

Acrostics already pose arbitrary degrees of difficulty on their creators: The quotation has to be broken into words, the first letters of which spell out the author’s name and the book’s title. Today’s NY Times acrostic (which they charge for) sets itself an additional challenge: Most of the definitions have some maritime theme, so presumably the quotation will, too.

Now, back to the puzzle!

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