## Sunday, March 20, 2022

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 20, 2022): Words and Numbers

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 20, 2022): Words and Numbers
Q: If a BOY is 5,839, and a COW is 6,874, how much is a FISH?
And what is 538,716?

Edit: The picture of the Scrabble tiles was supposed to hint at using some mapping of letters to numbers that you might encounter in a grid format, specifically the periodic table.

Using the single-letter elements, 538,716 equals 53 (Iodine=I), 8 (Oxygen=O), 7 (Nitrogen=N), 16 (Sulfur=S) which spells IONS; negatively or positively charged atoms.
A: Using the single-letter elements in the periodic table, FISH = Fluorine(9), Iodine(53), Sulfur(16), Hydrogen(1) --> FISH = 953,161

1. Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via a chain of thought, or an internet search) before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here.

You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't give the answer away. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the Thursday deadline. Thank you.

2. I don't see a notify Botton at the Botton

1. Philip, I responded in last week's thread. When you are posting a comment, there's a checkbox that says 'Notify Me'. Check the box before you click the 'Publish' button.

2. I don't see the Notify Me Botton at the bottom

3. If you aren't seeing it on mobile, try it on a desktop.

4. I'm on my computer don't see the Notify Me Botton & on my phone

5. I think I have the same problem as philip. I used to be able to find and click the notify button and post to this blog from my phone as well as from my desktop; but now, I just clicked the notify button and am now posting this because I'm going through my desktop. I tried accessing through my phone first, but from my phone, all I can do is read this blog.

6. Here's a screenshot with 'Notify me' in red rectangle. What does yours look like? Maybe try a different browser; I'm using Chrome.

7. If I sign out the notify me checkbox goes away.

8. Yeah, the key is that you have to be signed in! Then (and only then) do you see the 'Notify me' option.

9. It's blank no sign out or notify me

10. I would say those are two pretty good signs that you aren't signed in.

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12. I don't get the "Notify Me" on my iPad, but do on the computer using Chrome. Chrome for iOS isn't really full Chrome, it's a skin on Safari for iOS.

3. I sent my answer in, but I have not gotten the email reply yet saying my entry was received.

1. Npr not send me reply either.

4. I
can’t
believe
Blaine
got
it
so
fast.

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6. Wonderful "Art of the Muse" concert last night by the Colorado Chorale. They sang "Sunday in the Park with George(s)" as the audience looked at Georges Seurat's most famous work (seen in my thumbnail) and made our own art ~~~ Deconstructing Sondheim.

It was most a-muse-ing.

"Triangular water, parasols." The "Walk in the Park" image Blaine chose last weeks evokes this Seurat "La Grande Jette" painting, especially the slivers of shadow darting in from the right side.

I know I've said this before but "Que Seurat, Seurat. . ."

Happy spring to all!

1. Poor old Seurat!

2. “…old Seurat?” ~~~ He was but 31 when he died. . .

7. James Taylor

8. A few other animals to go along with the cow and fish:

455,378 (horny)
8,862,787 (trashy)
1,795 (happy)
1,611,819 (scary)
2,015,395,688 (fuzzy)

9. My initial reaction was "Ugh," but now at least I can say "Ugh 102."

1. Nice! Following your lead, with one minor tweak, I'm going with "Ugh 261,978," not out of politeness, but due to other constraints.

2. Very polite not to lead off with a 992!

3. That was a rather ungenerous "Ugh NO," since this puzzle does not play to my strengths! I felt lucky to have solved it.

10. Considering how much I crunch numbers all day, I'm surprised I haven't solved this yet...

11. Definitely a tough one. I predict only about 8 people will be able to solve this one.

12. What is fish? 53,197,874

13. Hey yeah, happy spring!!!

14. All I know is that the price of a fish is a lot more than it was six weeks ago.

1. I sympathize. I'm using jarred gefilte fish this Pesach because of the price of trout.

2. And so there you both are, sitting on your perch.

15. If I understand this, COW could be expressed as another 4 digit number.

1. In this case, I think the other number wouldn't work for COW.

16. I tried using the Da Vinci Code but it did not work, so I had to consult a different text.

17. I hate puzzles like this..."See" you all next week.

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2. WW,

Because life is too short for aggravation!

On a more important note, how's Boulder County doing with Covid now". I have two sons and their families, one in Boulder and the other in Lafayette.

3. I'm with CAP.
We had the clocks upside down, the doors counted and the anagram apps workin'.
I'm just going to let this roll around in my backbrain until Thursday.
It would not have caused the PM too much upset to have suggested having pencil and paper available at the first of the show. I still don't have the numbers memorized. Remember what he said about this.

4. Memorizing the numbers was the easy part, and required no effort, but what is meant by BOY and COW and FISH? And why are we asked "how much" and no mention of \$\$\$, which it implies? The word COST is curiously absent. On the other hand, I do not remember what he said that you refer to.

5. Ssb: I thought you would solve this quickly. You can do it. Think!

6. sdb: I thought you would remember The Puzzlemaster's Credo posted here on September 6, 2015.
I was referring to Item #2, but he whole thing often comes to mind when Will Shortz promulgates an especially disappointing puzzle
It also laid on the folks at Blainesville the mother of all TMI's.
The entire discussion that week is memorable and worth an occasional visit.

7. I don't think #2 happens very often.

1. Well, why not?

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3. 467,934

74,185?

4. 467,934 = WHY
Well, why not?
467,934 = because.
467,934 74,185 = because what?

5. 74,139? = WHY?

18. Ah the early techno days when the lyrics "how much is the fish" could earn you millions of deutschmarks and the adoration of Europe.

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20. Sorry...I was just going to remove it.

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1. No. Blaine, Natasha and myself have the right answer...

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3. Pretty cocky Mr. Corky.

4. Paul has correct answer...not Cocky...

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6. Paul is never cocky.

7. I do not get Blaine's clue even though I know the answer for the puzzle.

8. Really, Natasha. I'm positive I got Blaine's clue.

9. Ok. Will try again. Tks.

10. Still does not work. Steange. I know the answer.

11. Correction: Strange.

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1. Lol looks like I've got the right answer too

2. Blaine, could you do us a favor? When it REALLY IS YOU that has removed a post, can the notice of that fact be put in a colored background, just like your regular posts here?

3. I'll have to look into what blogger can do.

4. Ok, can you at least officially confirm for us that yesterday, at 02:59:00 PM PDT, Corky McStapleton posted "This comment has been removed by a blog administrator." , and that you DID NOT REMOVE THAT YOURSELF?

23. Ground control to Bobby.

1. Bobby may be sharing my disappointment that 5,839 is a prime number and, like me, may be trying alternative approaches.

2. I was actually happy that 5839 is prime. However, BOBBY=585539=29*61*331. The real disappointment is that my 585539 clue got deleted. Why was it deleted?

3. I felt that comparing BOY=5839 and BOBBY=585539 might give someone a clue that each letter was being mapped to a letter value.

4. Bobby, Perhaps it was a poor Choice. LOL

24. I have no idea where to even start.

25. I think I am going to sit this one out.

26. What is this supposed to be? Numerology, like the Gematria or the Kabbalah?

27. Given the lack of information in the puzzle, I suspect this is a case where there is more than one way to get to correct values for BOY and COW, and therefore there may be "valid" alternate answers.

1. If you treat it as a mathematical problem, there are an infinite number of answers. You have to treat it as a Sunday Puzzle problem.

2. It doesn't even need to be mathematical. If I treat it as certain combinations of numbers stand for certain letters of the alphabet, only 5 letters are defined. There are thousands of possible numbers that could be a "valid" substitution for the remaining letters. Obviously, that's not what WS wants.

3. Like my original attempts, you're overthinking it.

28. If it walks like a DUCK 12389
And it talks like a DUCK 12389
It may be a RED HERRING priceless

29. Is scrabble a hint?

30. Some animals, e.g. JAGUAR are priceless

31. How much is a FISH? Depends on what kind. SALMON is 1,613,427.

1. How much for SCROD?

2. You're asking how much it costs to get SCROD? Are you propositioning me?

3. No SCROD on the menu, I'm afraid, but ARCTIC CHAR is available for 1,862,266,118.

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33. Finally solved it. All I can say is: 6,788,839!

34. I'm with those who say I'll wait for Thursday. Too much for my brain!

1. I finally grokked to the periodic table yesterday. But fell asleep before I could work it out.

35. Is this something where we have to hear the broadcast to get it? Not a normal visitor, but someone sent me the word puzzle only, not an audio clip

1. This can be solved by reading. But if you want to listen to it being read, the initial post has a link to the NPR puzzle site where you can listen to the puzzle as well.

36. I look forward to Thursday -- not for the answer to the puzzle, but for the interpretation of Blaine's clue. I'm with Natasha on that one!

1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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3. 5,575,310!

4. Oh, sorry Natasha, I didn't mean 6953!

5. For the record, I spent way too much time trying to convert 538,716 to Crito's number.

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37. 1,921! Took me less than 60 seconds to figure out how this puzzle worked!

38. I’m sure I’m overlooking something obvious, but I have no idea what the intended answer is. I did, however, submit 4,804, which I can sort of justify. (This cannot possibly be TMI!)

1. And yet you hope it is. LOL

39. Sen. Miss Lindsey Graham got her panties in a bunch again earlier today as she tried to fluster her superior opponent before storming out in a pique. Oh dear! Oh dear! She deserves an Oscar for best actress in a supporting trouser role. Or perhaps a crown for being America's Most Hypocritical.

1. Frustration was caused because he could not get Judge Jackson to fall for his traps.

2. Graham has the problem that all performance artists face: how to top his last performance. I'm guessing that next time he will douse himself in gasoline and light himself on fire. I'll be happy to pay for the gasoline.

3. Lindsey is such a pheasant plucker.

40. Still haven't solved the puzzle, but I just a moment ago solved today's WORDLE in 2 guesses.

1. You can solve it. It is easy.
Took me 4 tries on Wordle today. How did you get it in two?

2. It would not be appropriate to tell you that. I have solved several in 2.

3. SDB: Have you tried Nerdle?

4. SDB: It is fun if you like math. Pretty easy.

5. Not really. I am a huge chemistry nerd.

41. Congrats to all the solvers. I guess if I had a greater exposure to puzzles other than this once a week habit I might have had an easier time with it.

1. I guess that's right: ironically, this one was difficult for periodic puzzle-solvers like you.

3. :)
Well yeah -- I was just making a 'periodic' joke. IRONically.

4. Reminds me of the TINA FEY puzzle where you take the first two letters of the artist's surname and change them to the element they represent to obtain IRONY.

42. Tip of the hat to all those who solved the puzzle. Kudos. Perhaps, given the likely low number of correct submissions, someone on the blog will receive “the call.” Good luck.

43. You can tell me another day I think.

44. Chemical elements:
Boron (B) 5, Oxygen (O) 8, Yttrium (Y) 39 = BOY → 5839.

Carbon (C) 6, Oxygen (O) 8, Tungsten (W) 74 = COW → 6874.

FISH: Fluorine (F) 9, Iodine (I) 53, Sulfur (S) 16, Hydrogen (H) 1 → FISH = 953161.

My clue: “What is FISH?” 53,197,874 = I (53) K (19) N (7) O (8) W (74) → I KNOW.

Blaine's clue: 538,716 = I(53)O(8)N(7)S(16) = IONS.

45. FISH = 953,161

> How much is a FISH? Depends on what kind. SALMON is 1,613,427.

S = 16, Al = 13, Mo = 42, N = 7. (I figured mixed case [SAlMoN] would get that deleted.)

> Again.

Tuesday's NY Times crossword included 4 words containing IRON attached to pictures of magnets, with the letters FE circled. Yet another Easter Egg for NPR Sunday Puzzlers, or just . . . irony?

46. 953,161, combining the symbols for Fluorine, Iodine, Sulfur and Hydrogen from the periodic table of the elements. My hint said that I tried using the Da Vinci Code but it did not work, so I had to consult a different text. The different text was another Dan Brown book, Angels and Demons, in which there is a plot to kill Catholic priests using the ancient Greek “elements” of fire, air, earth and water.

47. FISH = 953,161

Knew my Chemistry degree would help with something, at some point. Also, I developed a new cypher while trying to solve this one.

48. I was tempted to write "Deja Vu". Past puzzles have used the Periodic Table. The chart picture was a good clue, I think.

49. I calculated FISH as 953,161, based on the atomic number for Fluorine (F), Iodine (I), Sulfur (S), and Hydrogen (H). My clue of 6,788,839 was my best attempt at saying "Hooray!" Holmium (Ho) is atomic number 67, Oxygen (O) is 8, Radium (Ra) is 88, and Yttrium (Y) is 39.

50. Puzzleria! this week features a trio of ingenious puzzles created by our friend Plantsmith. They appear in his always-entertaining-and-challenging "Garden of Puzzley Delights" feature.
Puzzleria! is uploaded early Friday just after Midnight PDT.
* a Schpuzzle of the Week about Saddlin’ up to track down bandits,
* a Slice topped with Conventions, customs & conduct,
* a Dessert that Pumps Up The Vehicular Volume, and
* a mess o' riff-offs of this week's "elementary" NPR puzzle.
Stop on by, why don't-cha, to be "Delighted" by Plantsmithery!

LegoPeriodicallyAndDelightoolly

51. Kudos to the solvers!
My B.Ch.E. (CCNY ‘69) should have helped me, but I totally missed the solution. Again, well done to the solvers.

52. Well, in that case, I will guess that there will be 90 correct answers this week. Tungsten (W) is 74, plus Sulfur (S) is 16, totals 90.

53. The words given were spelled using the letters of the elements in the periodic table. Therefore, since FISH = Fluorine (9), Iodine (53), Sulfur (16), Hydrogen (1), FISH = 953,161

James Taylor is this James Taylor:

ELEMENTS,

Although I am going to hear and see the other James Taylor this summer! I shall think of all the ELEMENTS in the air if he sings "Fire and Rain."

I do wonder if James tires of singing a song he wrote when he was 17. ~~~ An ELEMENTAL question perhaps ~~~

54. Was the comma in 5,839 supposed to throw it? Because you can make the case that 5839 is not the same as 5,839.

55. My post:

“Definitely a tough one. I predict only about 8 people will be able to solve this one” ….. Element 8 on the periodic table is represented by “o”, which when combined with my references to “I predict” and “able” will rearrange to “periodic table” - how’s that for an obscure clue?

1. My Oh really comment was me pointing out that the O was represented by 8. I have since made a different prediction on the number of correct responses, which you can see above.

56. The letters are all symbols for elements, which have numbers on the Periodic Table.

B=boron=5
O=oxygen=8
Y=yttrium=39
C=carbon=6
O=oxygen=8
W=tungsten=74
F=fluorine=9
I=iodine=53
S=sulfur=16
H=hydrogen=1

Therefore, FISH=953161.

1. I'm glad I didn't try very hard.

57. Is no one else bothered by the puzzle asking, "how much is a FISH?" rather than, "what number is a FISH?"?

I was somewhere in my thirties before I knew of the periodic table. I can't say it has made a big impact on my life. At least not until this week anyway.

The good news for me is I don't need to replace my mirrors, landline phones, calculators or digital clocks.

I have never played with Legos, but I thought they might have figure pieces. So I looked and discovered they do have farm animals and people, along with the numbers in the puzzle, but they did not apply the way I hoped.

1. How much is "BULLPUCKY"?

2. Not possible... L is not an element.

3. But 51,189,216 works, if you're periodic table is up to date!

4. Blaine, The L was for LOUSY not an element!

5. C a p, "L-e-ment" you say?

This puzzle deLighted and amused me. My muse was my chemistry professor at Smith. His Love of L-e-ments was wondrous and enLightening.

6. I also did not like "How much is a FISH." Capital letters gave it away though when I think about it. When I saw 8 for O, I suspected the periodic table. I memorized a lot of elements in the table as was a Chem. Minor in undergrad. I knew C and B too. This was for science people!

7. SDB – I have had even less interaction with the periodic table than you. The year my grade was studying chemistry in the U.S., I was in school in London where the science class for my grade was biology. So far, I’ve made it through 78 years without needing it.

8. Lorenzo,

Thanks for that. Now I know why there is so much cow crap in my backyard.

I do not remember there being a chemistry class in my high school. We had to choose between biology and botany. I am so glad I chose biology because dissecting that earthworm has made all the difference in my life. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

58. As I said earlier in the week; "I'm with CAP."
Is BULLPUCKY a Potterism?
I am really glad I spent almost n time on this.
It violates more than one of Will's goals as laid out in the post Blaine and I referenced.

1. I meant Potter as in MASH, not on the Oregon coast.

59. I wanted to say likely 118 correct guesses this week but was not sure if it would get me edited out! Blaine? And I like others thought I had a decent shot at the call this week but no such luck!

60. Why can't COW be expressed as 2774? CO could be cobalt #27 on the table.

1. It seems the puzzle is restricting itself to single-letter elements. See my image above.

2. I thought John was thinking the *case* was important -- "Co" for cobalt would have a lower-case 'o'. (He said, "In this case...")

3. There are so many other words that could have been chosen as examples, but focusing on why they picked BOY, COW and FISH was what led me to the reduced letter set in the solution.

4. Blaine, same here.

5. In hindsight, I think that the choice of boy, cow and fish was a clever bit of misdirection suggesting that the answer had something to do with animals.

61. Two bad things about this: (1) I was thinking about making a puzzle using the periodic table - now that idea is dead for a few years, and (2) I didn't get this puzzle.

62. While the periodic table answer is best, another answer kinda works.

If we assign each letter a value based on sequence in the alphabet, and multiply, COW has a value of 1035. (C*O*W = 3*15*23.)

That value is the difference between the two values provided, 5839 and 6874.

So one could say COW equals BOY + C*O*W.

The algorithm could be simply additive, with FISH equaling BOY + F*I*S*H. Which would produce the answer 14047.

Not an answer I like, as the initial value of BOY is arbitrary. But Will’s first “if" clause doesn’t rule out an arbitrary starting point.

1. I considered something similar too, including COWBOY, but everything I tried was a rabbit hole. I know nothing about chemistry because sex education was not condoned when I went to school.

2. Jeff - Here's another "answer" you might like:

Assuming that animals come in three sizes, S, M and L and that the numerical representations of these sizes differ by a constant (in this case by 1,035) the answer is 4,804:
Given:
BOY (5,839) is M
COW (6,874) is L
Then:
FISH (S) is 4,804.

3. Thanks Lorenzo -
I suppose so, but this detaches the value 1035 from the rest of the puzzle.
On the other hand, when a pal of mine noted that the difference between COW and BOY, 1035, can be generated mathematically by the letters of COW (without resorting to the periodic table or another non-mathematical referent), it felt promising, partly because the puzzle as stated did not actually seek a rationale for assigning the value 5839 to BOY.
But again I don't dispute that the periodic table answer is better.

63. Congratulations Lorenzo.

64. Reuters reports that Vladimir Putin today accused the West of trying to cancel Russian culture, including the works of great composers such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
I'm waiting for some clever Ukrainian video editor to put together a montage of Russian military vehicles being destroyed (cf. the Bayraktar song videos), set to the finale of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. That would work nicely, I think.

I don't think I'll have to wait too long.

1. (Or, maybe Mussorgsky's "The Great Gate of Kiev"? No cannons, but the subject fits.)

2. Or Peter and the Wolf.

3. Russian composers are great, but Gilbert & Sullivan weren't bad either. Many, many people on Twitter responded to a writing prompt: "I am the very model of a Russian Major General". Here's my favorite:

I am the very model of a Russian Major General
My standing in the battlefield is growing quite untenable
My forces, though equipped and given orders unequivocal
Did not expect the fight to be remotely this reciprocal.

I used to have a tank brigade but now I have lost several
My fresh assaults are faltering with battleplans extemporal
I can't recover vehicles but farmers in a tractor can
It's all becoming rather reminiscent of Afghanistan.

My ordnance is the best but only half my missiles make it there
I would have thought by now that we would be controllers of the air
But at the rate the snipers work my time here is ephemeral
I am the very model of a Russian Major General.

4. It was reported yesterday that 7 Russian generals have been killed so far and a naval commander. Also a colonel was run over on purpose by one of his tank jockeys. Lovely war; beats car camping any day.

5. The most recent such report I read on Twitter (which must, of course, be taken with a large grain of salt) was that Ukrainian troops killed Russian Lt. Gen. Yakov Rezantsev in a strike near Kherson, per Ukraine's defense ministry.

For comparison, in nearly 4 years of WWII, the US lost only 2 major generals (2-star) to enemy action, and no lieutenant generals (3-star).

Losing 7 generals in one month is remarkable.

6. Not correct, jan. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., Lesley J. McNair, Frank Maxwell Andrews, and Millard Harmon, all lieutenant generals at the time of their deaths, were the highest-ranking Americans to be killed in World War II. Buckner and McNair were posthumously promoted to the rank of four-star general on July 19, 1954, by a Special Act of Congress (Public Law 83-508).

I knew this because I sailed from New York to Germany on the USNS General Simon B. Buckner (T-AP-123), an Admiral W. S. Benson class troop transport.

7. You're right about Buckner, SDB, but the others died in accidental plane crashes (Andrews and Harmon) or were killed by friendly fire (McNair), not enemy action.

8. I do not know the specifics of the other 3. I only was aware of Buckner. I would say though that in a war being killed by friendly fire or accidents may be just as worthy as by enemy fire. It probably would not have happened were they not fighting the enemy in some way or other.

I just took a look, and General Lesley J. McNair was killed in action by friendly fire in Normandy, France during World War II. The other 2 may not have been during actual combat, but we cannot rule out that Harmon may have been shot down.

65. I did get IONS from Blaine's clue, but I didn't think it could have been what he had intended. The verb agreement had me searching for something singular. Also, BLiONS was so close to Blaine that I wanted to trim that square peg to fit the round hole.

1. I felt the same way about BLIONS.

66. Clarence Thomas has now been released from the hospital. No reason, other than intravenous treatment for an infection, was given for his long stay. Usually venereal disease infections don't take that long and require hospitalization. Let's all pray his lovely wife isn't infected too.

67. Natasha,
I solved WORDLE in 2 again today!

1. Wow!congrats! I could not solve it. Genius!

2. 5/6 for nerdle today.

3. Natasha,
To be precise, yesterday I solved the current WORDLE in 2, but today the current one took me 3. I usually do one more from the archive after solving the current one. Today I solved #139 in 2.

4. SDB: Sometimes I solve Wordle in 2. Mostly in 3 though. I do it really fast so not waste time. Try Nerdle let me know what you think. I did not think I would even try it. Again, I do it quickly so not waste time.

5. I solve it the same as you. Mostly in 3, but several 2's now. Not interested in Nerdle.

68. Back to the puzzle now. I understand many chemistry students are required to memorize parts of the periodic table. I sure wish I could recite it at cocktail parties, but all I have to offer is Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen. How boring!

1. I just memorized the table by using it so much. Not anything I just decided to memorize. Also taught chemistry too.

69. Biden sure put his foot in his mouth today. I wonder if his staff knew he was going to blunder this way. I cannot understand why Biden can't figure that out for himself anyway. Zelensky must be outraged because this will only bolster Putin.

1. Biden being Biden. I'm sure his staff wasn't expecting it; they'd have talked him out of it. Putin would love to be able to present the war as Russia defending itself against NATO aggression, and this plays right into that.

Approaching the 200-comment limit. Remember to hit LOAD MORE. (You won't be able to see your own new comments otherwise.)

2. I agree with you. It also strengthens his influence over ignorant and uninformed Russians who believe he is making war on Nazis. Meanwhile Trump is down in Florida attempting to overthrow the election.