Wordle Hurdle

Wordle by Nils Huenerfuerst on Unsplash

Yesterday, workers in the New York Times Guild asked you to break your Wordle streak. On Wednesday, Times union members announced a 24-hour digital picket line for Thursday and asked readers not to cross it while they are on their one-day walkout. 1,100 Times employees walked out after unsuccessfully negotiating with Times management for over a year. Chief among their demands is a corporate minimum wage of $65K. While, this may sound like a lot of money, New York last month was named the most expensive city in the world. I know this, because my son, moved to NYC, because LA just was not expensive enough.

News of this job action was not very well disseminated. I first learned of this digital picket line on Thursday morning from Twitter, after I had already perused the paper. I informed Anne when she got up and she shared the news with her sisters. Jay was already halfway through Wordle when she stopped, and Jane had already completed the puzzle before she first heard of the work stoppage. Later, I did miss using my subscription, when I was fixing dinner and could not access the NYT food app. I think that dinner suffered because of this.

Proceeding now, guilt free usage of the Times has returned. This morning, I again read the Times and Anne again played Wordle and the myriad of other Times games that she likes. My somewhat limited hiatus was no great hardship, Anne, and all her fellow Wordle nerds will see lasting consequences. Their Wordle streaks will be reset to zero, which is a real sacrifice, to hear all the wailing and gnashing of teeth going-on about this via Twitter. I think though that the reset Wordle score will become a badge of honor and a sign of solidarity. Going forward, Wordle streaks that exceed this interruption will be viewed askance and become subject to scorn. A few years ago, who could have conceived of these events?


Pan Con Chocolate

On the two nights that we spent in DC last month, we twice had the opportunity to dine on some haute cuisine. Our purveyor was none other than the world-famous Spanish chef José Andrés, who I had the temerity at the time to describe as a “local” chef, not fully realizing who he was. In a sense though he is a local chef there, hosting a suite of eateries clustered just north of the mall, in the Penn Quarter, on the 400 block of 7th street NW. We visited three and ate at two of his restaurants. We first tried China Chilcano that features Peruvian fare with Japanese and Spanish accents, but it being Saturday night, we were shut out. No worries though, because there were plenty more places to choose from.

We ended up down the block at another of Andrés restaurants, Jaleo, a Spanish themed establishment that we were so impressed with that it made the blog that night. It also was packed, but we ended up being seated at the bar, which is how we ended up dining the next night too. We started with a sliced apple and fennel salad, with Manchego cheese, walnuts, and sherry dressing. For our main course we dined on two small plates, shrimp sauteed with garlic and a Spanish omelet with confit potatoes and onions. Pictured is dessert for two that we ordered, chocolate custard with caramelized bread, olive oil and brioche ice cream. One scoop of gelato was not enough.

The following night, we went across 7th to Oyamel, a place that featured food from Mexico City. We both ordered tacos. Anne’s featured wild mushrooms and poblano peppers and mine contained confit pork with avocado salsa verde. Trying to be more restrained than the night before, we skipped dessert. All three of these places are on the Michelin Guide’s (by the French tyre company) Bib Gourmand list of exceptional restaurants at “moderate” prices.

In addition to Andrés’ culinary success, he has also won distinction for his humanitarian work with the World Central Kitchen. Winning the US National Humanities Medal. More recently, last year he received an award of $100M from Jeff Bezos, to distribute to non-profit organizations of his choice, which he has used to feed the Ukrainians and receive their Order of Merit in gratitude.

Budgeting for Christmas

Northrop B-21 Raider

All I want for Christmas are a few new toys! Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and its ensuing bloody struggles have put war back on the table for this year’s holiday season. With Black Friday already fast receding in the rear-view mirror, the Pentagon is wasting no time to cash in on this year’s events and has telegraphed its preferred choices of items to be found beneath its tree. Two items, one this week unveiled, the Air Force’s B-21 Raider stealth bomber ($200B) and the other this week contract awarded, the Army’s V-280 Valor helicopter ($80B), would make any young general squeal with delight when finding either of them on Christmas morning. It is Christmas though, so why not both? As any smart kid knows, if you want to wake up to finding an “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time”, you need to begin campaigning early for it. Otherwise, you could get your eye shot out, ask Ralphie.

Ukraine and the world by proxy has endured ten-months of the most awful, atrocity filled conflicts. Against all odds, the Ukrainians have halted the Russian invasion of their country and are now beating it back. Personified by Time magazine’s selection of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as this year’s Person of the Year, the Ukrainian people have demonstrated their courage and deserve our respect and more. And more has been given. The combination of Ukrainian muscle and Western matériel has proved to be a winning team. Already this year, the US has given $40B in military assistance and another $37.7B slug of money is on the table now, hopefully to be given before those Hunter Biden’s laptop wielding House Republicans can come to power and gum up the works.

These sums pale into insignificance when set against the total US defense budget of $715B for 2022. The Russian army is being destroyed for pennies on the dollar. For 5.6% of our annual defense budget, one of our top tier threats is being removed. Plus, the revelation that Russia’s defense industry is a Potemkin village generates other strategic and diplomatic wins for the US. Look at Pakistan. Countries shopping for weaponry are now more likely to buy American than that other cheaper brand. Countries now wanting to buy American will also have to tow the American line. I am looking at you Saudi Arabia. Maybe the US defense industry should give Ukraine a discount for all the great press? Not bloody likely. Finally, helping Ukraine beat Russia surely also sends a powerful signal to China that the US and its allies are strong and determined when challenged on issues of core importance. This may raise questions in the mind of Xi Jinping vis-à-vie Taiwan.

Support for Ukraine should be a no-brainer for any true American and not some political football. At least financially, our support for Ukraine offers more bang for the buck than any new bomber would. If you cannot find a way to do the right thing with your heart, then try your pocketbook.