Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 23, 2015

Previous Week   June 01, 2015 - June 07, 2015   Next Week

Civil War ends on June 02, 1865

Civil War ends on June 02, 1865

Civil War ends on: In an event that is generally regarded as marking the end of the Civil War, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi, signs the surrender terms offered by Union negotiators. With Smith’s surrender, the last Confederate army ceased to exist, bringing a formal end to the bloodiest four years in U.S. history.

The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate shore batteries under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. During 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort, and on April 13 U.S. Major Robert Anderson, commander of the Union garrison, surrendered.

Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to help quell the Southern “insurrection”. Four long years later, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate dead.

History Channel / Library of Congress / Civil War.org / Civil War Photography.org / PBS / Britannica / Wikipedia

Images: Lincoln Memorial; an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln - located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. across from the Washington Monument.
Robert E. Lee Surrender at Appomattox; April 9, 1865, was one of the last battles of the American Civil War.
● The northern army led by George McClellan and the southern army led by Robert E. Lee met at Antietam Creek, Maryland in September, 1862. It was a bloody battle where 13,000 Confederates and 12,000 Union troops died in just one day. McClellan had hesitated to attack before the battle thus letting the southern troops regroup. Also, he had saved reserves and refused to use them at the end of the battle thinking that Lee was holding reserves for a counterattack, even though those reserves didn't exist. The Union victory stopped Lee's northward advance and was a turning point in the war.
● First Battle Between Ironclads: CSS Virginia/Merrimac (left) vs. USS Monitor, in 1862 at the Battle of Hampton Roads.
Although photography was still in its infancy, war correspondents produced thousands of images, bringing the harsh realities of the frontlines to those on the home front in a new and visceral way. The Atlantic.

U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier USS Washington (U.S.Navy.mil)

The Old Salt’s Corner


Navy warships will of course vary in size and function. Most however, have similar organizational structures. For purposes of instruction, we will examine the organizational structure of the modern aircraft carrier as the largest expression of ship administration. Keep in mind that individual ships will incorporate different organizational structures.

A. Carrier Orginization

When fully manned, an aircraft carrier is home to as many as 5,000 personnel—the size of a small city. Thinking of a carrier as a city is a useful way to understand its organization. At the top and comparable to a city’s mayor is the ship’s Commanding Officer (CO), who is ultimately responsible for the entire ship and the accomplishment of its assigned mission. Next in line and acting as city manager is the Executive Officer (XO). From the XO on down, the ship’s individual functions are handled by the ship’s company via different departments. These departments are in turn divided into divisions, each specialized in an area of the ship’s operation and mission.

The carrier battlegroup’s primary mission is power projection to targets ashore and at sea. The central element of the carrier’s offensive punch is its embarked air wing (CVW). The typical carrier air wing normally consists of nine squadrons, each with individual missions, which join the carrier while it is deployed.

B. Commanding Officer

The Commanding Officer of an aircraft carrier must satisfy two requirements: He must be an unrestricted line officer (which enables him to command at sea) and he must be a naval aviator. He is always the rank of Captain (O-6). Through his XO (who in most cases is also is a Captain), the CO runs the ship via its various departments.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

How does a person with a lisp pronounce that word?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

~ Vince Lombardi

Who Owns the Titanic?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Who Owns the Titanic?

In 1985 a crew of American and French researchers led by oceanographer Robert Ballard reported some astonishing news: 73 years after hitting an iceberg, the R.M.S. Titanic had been found in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Almost immediately, questions regarding who had the right to dive to depths of over 12,000 feet and retrieve artifacts—or even the ship itself—were the subject of public, ethical, and legal debate. Could anyone actually own the remains of the most infamous ocean liner in history?

The ship’s original owner, White Star Line, had evaporated, bought out by rival Cunard; insurance companies covering both the ship and freight had an unknown number of underwriters. The paper trail was so pockmarked by the time of the 1985 discovery that it would’ve been difficult for any one of them to make any substantial claim. And even if they could, the challenge was making a case that would trump admiralty law, which specifies that a sunken vessel located in international waters belongs to no one.

“Any financial records and the actual certificates of insurance are now lost”, says Paul Louden-Brown, a maritime historian and a former vice-president of the Titanic Historical Society. “It would be expensive to pursue a legal claim...particularly through the U.S. court system and any positive financial outcome is questionable.”

Naturally, not everyone agreed with that assessment

In the 1980s and 1990s, several entities challenged the newly formed RMS Titanic, Inc., which had been recognized in court as being the salvor-in-possession after a 1987 dive in tandem with the French research team that had helped Ballard. (It didn’t give them ownership of the ship itself, but they had exclusive American rights to any artifacts retrieved during a dive.) A company named Marex said the ship had been abandoned by RMS (previously known as Titanic Ventures) because they had waited too long to return; another company fought to charge “tourists” $32,500 to visit the wreck in a submersible; insurer Liverpool and London, who had paid out on some passenger policies, pursued RMS in court before settling.

It took years, but RMS successfully fought off their remaining challengers and recovered thousands of items during dives performed from 1987 to 2004. Bags that had been recovered were opened by Telly Savalas during a live television special. (They contained some coins, jewelry and Italian lire.) In 1998, RMS was able to successfully raise a portion of the ship’s hull that weighed 15 tons. For a time, it was part of a Titanic exhibition at the Luxor in Las Vegas.

RMS has brought up over 5,000 artifacts but must continually display efforts to visit the wreck in order to maintain salvage rights. According to Louden-Brown, their jurisdiction applies only to dives in the United States. “There is nothing to prevent a company based in the UK or any other country from diving and recovering material from the vessel”, he says. “If the items recovered were landed in a U.S. port, then they would be seized and possibly the diving vessel impounded. So any operations would have to begin and end in a country other than the U.S.”

So who owns the Titanic? Right now, no one. If someone figured out a way to raise 66,000 tons without destroying what remains of the ship, they’d likely be able to claim it—until the inevitable legal challenges came their way. Personal effects and other items are yours for the taking providing you dive for them without entering the U.S. and don’t mind some harsh criticism. The act of retrieving artifacts has been perceived by some as disturbing the water-logged memorial of the more than 1,500 lives lost.

When Ballard returned to the site in 1986, his expedition placed a plaque on the ship’s stern to honor the dead. Like most everything else, it was eventually removed.

The Journal, IrelandNOAAThe GuardianWikipediaMental Floss

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Mug”

Where Did That Saying Come From?


Mug: We’ve all seen mug shots, hopefully not one of yourself. But why do we use the word “mug” to mean our face? In the eighteenth century in England people used a small jug for drinking called a “mug”. These “mugs” were commonly made to represent a human face. Thus this is why today and most likely forever, we still use the word “mug” to mean a face.. Wikipedia / Mugshots.com / New York Daily News

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy America's Navy - A Global Force For Good

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Cripler: Tripler Army Medical Center, Oahu, scourge of sailors at Pearl Harbor.

Fighting gear: eating utensils.

ORM: Operational Risk Management. An unduly complicated principle that basically boils down to pausing for a common-sense sanity check before you attempt to perform a task. Ex: Make sure you ORM that engine swap before you begin.

Screaming Alpha: A sailor who is on fire and is running around screaming. Alpha fires leave ash. Bravo fires burn flammable liquids. Charlies are electrical fires, and Deltas burn exotic materials, often metals like magnesium.

Just for MARINES - U.S. Marines Marines - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Drill Hawk: An extreme “high and tight” haircut formerly popular with Drill Instructors.

Drill Injector: Pseudo humorous replacement for Drill Instructor, sometimes acceptable in informal speech.

Drill Instructor: A noncommissioned officer charged with the training of Marine recruits and the making of Marines. Each recruit platoon usually has three drill instructors, a senior drill instructor and two junior drill instructors.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VR-57 - Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 57: “Conquistadors”
NAS North Island, California

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Microsoft: Humans have shorter attention span than a goldfish

Microsoft: Humans have shorter attention span than a goldfish

TORONTO, Canada - A small study by researchers at Microsoft has found the human attention span is shortening. At just 8 seconds, they say it is now shorter than the attention span of the average goldfish.

The study, which featured a combination of surveys and mind games, was an apparently genuine attempt by scientists with the software company to better understand how mobile technology has affected attention span.

More than 100 volunteers in Canada responded to a questionnaire and played cognitive games designed to quantify attention spans. While answering questions and playing games, participants were monitored by electroencephalography (EEG), a non-invasive method for recording brain activity.

The results suggest the average attention of an adult in the Information Age is now eight seconds -- down from 12 seconds in 2000, the average the last time Microsoft conducted a similar study. This puts the human attention span at one second shorter than that of a goldfish.

“Canadians with more digital lifestyles (those who consume more media, are multi-screeners, social media enthusiasts, or earlier adopters of technology) struggle to focus in environments where prolonged attention is needed”, researchers wrote in their published findings.

But the study also found that heavy technology users were better at multitasking. Researchers suggest a slightly shorter attention span may be the payoff for a brain better adapted to utilize multiple sources of information and entertainment.

But not everyone's convinced the data is proof that our brain has actually changed. Bruce Morton, a brain scientist at the University of Western Ontario's Brain & Mind Institute, says that the data only shows that humans' are using their brains differently.

“Just because we may be allocating our attention differently as a function of the technologies we may be using, it doesn't mean that the way our attention actually can function has changed.” UPI (United Press International - 05/15/2015)


“Barracuda” - Heart 1985

“Barracuda” - Heart
Album: Little Queen
Released 1977 video

This was written by Ann and Nancy Wilson together with guitarist Roger Fisher and drummer Michael DeRosier. According to the band, the song is a statement about the record industry in general. It was written at a time when there was friction between the band and their label. Little Queen was the first album Heart released for the CBS-Portrait label. Their old label, Mushroom Records, sued the band and in 1978 released Magazine, an album made up of previously recorded material that Heart did not want released.

The Wilson sisters revealed in various interviews that the song was about Heart's anger towards an ad Mushroom Records placed in trade publications implying that Ann and Nancy were lesbians having an affair. The song focuses on Ann's rage towards a promoter who came up to her after a concert in Detroit asking how her “lover” was. She initially thought he was talking about her then-boyfriend - band member Michael Fisher. After the promoter revealed he was talking about her sister Nancy Wilson, Ann became angry and went back to her hotel room to write the song. Nancy put suitably angry music to the words to complete the song comparing the sleazy side of music to a dangerous fish.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, this song was used as the unofficial theme song for Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor originally earned the nickname “Sarah Barracuda” when she played basketball in high school, because of her fierce competitiveness. The name was revived after Palin became mayor of her hometown, Wasilla, in 1996 and it was played at the 2008 National Republican Convention, after she gave a speech. The next day, Ann and Nancy Wilson issued a statement that said: “The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored.”

Their wishes were not honored, and the song was played at the convention that night after their presidential nominee John McCain spoke and Palin joined him on stage. As the Republican campaign pointed out, they had obtained the proper performance rights to the song and were under no obligation to get further permission to use it (they would have if they wanted to use it in a commercial or video).

With no legal recourse, the Wilson sisters retaliated in the media, telling Entertainment Weekly: “Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song 'Barracuda' no longer be used to promote her image. The song 'Barracuda' was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there.”

The song's co-writer Roger Fisher was also anti-Palin, but he saw things differently, telling Reuters he was “thrilled” that the song was being used as it was a win-win situation. He explained that while Heart gets publicity and royalties, the Republicans benefit from “the ingenious placement of a kick-ass song”. He added that he would use some of the proceeds in a donation to the Obama campaign, and thus, “the Republicans are now supporting Obama”.

Rolling Stone magazine (Band's Early Days) / Heart official site / Rock and Roll Hall of Fame / Ann Wilson, Biography - Nancy Wilson, Biography / All Music / Billboard / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Little Queen‎ (album)” by Heart



● When Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10, the scoreboard wasn't prepared. Her score was reported as “1.00”.

● The 1904 Summer Olympic Games, held in St. Louis, included greased pole climbing, rock throwing, and even mud fighting.

● The Rockola jukebox wasn't named for rock music, but rather for its inventor, David Rockola.

People Who Know Everything

A Test for People Who Know Everything

Who was the only U.S. President to have been the head of a union?

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their AnswerWikipedia

Answer to Last Week's Test

Why Did Abraham Lincoln’s son withdraw from politics in 1901?

Answer: In 1865, Robert Lincoln rushed to his father’s deathbed. Sixteen years later, as Garfield’s Secretary of War, he was with that president when he was shot by an assassin. In 1901, Robert arrived in Buffalo for the American Exposition just in time to see President McKinley murdered. After that, Robert Lincoln vowed never again to be in the presence of an American president.National Parks Service

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked a young Engineer fresh out of MIT, “And what starting salary were you looking for?”

The Engineer said, “In the neighborhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.”

The interviewer said, “Well, what would you say to a package of 5-weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every 2 years say, a red Corvette?”

The Engineer sat up straight and said, “But have you thought it through properly?”Wow! Are you kidding?”

And the interviewer replied, “Yeah, but you started it.”