Crossword, sudoku plague threatens America!

189ec27b d87e 499c a0ad 657169245a99Ron Rosenbaum:

’The world is divided between those who willingly waste precious moments, hours, weeks, years of life doing crosswords, double-crostics, sudoku, and other word and number puzzles—and those (like myself) who are virtually allergic to them. (The puzzles, not the people.)

I’m not claiming any superiority for those who share my allergy. (Well, that’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.) I just think our brains are wired differently. Really differently.

Try this experiment at a dinner party (if you want to ruin it). Mention a frequent obsession of puzzle people, the NPR “news quiz” show, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! (Or, as I call it, “Wait Wait … Please Kill Me!”) About half the attendees will exhibit violent, often physical reactions ranging from cringing to shuddering. Meanwhile, the other half will have sublime self-satisfied smiles. They sometimes get the answers before the guests! The show is so mentally stimulating!

What always gets to me is the self-congratulatory assumption on the part of puzzle people that their addiction to the useless habit somehow proves they are smarter or more literate than the rest of us. Need I suggest that those who spend time doing crossword puzzles (or sudoku)—uselessly filling empty boxes (a metaphor for some emptiness in their lives?)—could be doing something else that involves words and letters? It’s called reading.…’

Via Slate

4 thoughts on “Crossword, sudoku plague threatens America!

  1. I have never met anyone who seriously thinks that their puzzle accomplishments make them smarter or demonstrate their superior intellect. I’m puzzled (ooh, clever!) by the viciousness of the rant. And the author has clearly never actually listened to Wait, Wait. Being a comedy show disguised as a quiz (and about topical news, not general knowledge as well), it’s a really poor example of this supposed phenomenon.

    Disclaimer: I really love Wait, Wait for the comedy.

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  2. I fully agree, altho I think this is not Rosenbaum’s viciousness but his attempt at humor. One could do a similar ‘lost productivity’ calculation for anyone’s leisure activity, which is no argument against leisure pursuits. And I’m firmly in the “Wait Wait” lovers’ camp.

    But, on the other hand, there is evidence that staying cognitively active e.g. with puzzles can stave off dementia. So I wonder if the puzzle craze might relate to the aging of the baby boomers.

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  3. What an pointlessly aggressive rant. Mr. Rosenbaum is welcome to spend his time any way he likes; I’ll take as many (English-style) crosswords and sudokus as I can find, thank you.

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  4. I’m not surprised that this entry received a small flurry of comments. I felt compelled to comment earlier, but I was busy with Sunday’s NYT crossword, which was satisfying, and woke up my thinking cap. Then I was busy polishing off another book, watching TV, drinking coffee, running, and experiencing a handful of other things. I think the puzzle contributes to the variety of events in my day, intellectual, dopey, or otherwise. One could just as easily posit that writing and publishing an unsubstantiated, opinion based rant is a questionable use of one’s time, too.

    More disturbing to me is that I did feel compelled to comment.

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