Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 29, 2015

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A revolutionary new technology is christened “MP3” on July 14, 1995

A revolutionary new technology is christened “MP3” on July 14, 1995

A revolutionary new technology is christened “MP3”: Representatives of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) were not in attendance at the 1995 christening of the infant technology that would shake their business model to its core just a few years later. Known formally as “MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3”, the technology in question was an efficient new format for the encoding of high-quality digital audio using a highly efficient data-compression algorithm. In other words, it was a way to make CD-quality music files small enough to be stored in bulk on the average computer and transferred manageably across the Internet. Released to the pubic one week earlier, the brand-new MP3 format was given its name and its familiar “.mp3” file extension on this day in 1995.

The importance of MP3, or any other scheme for compressing data, is made clear by some straightforward arithmetic. The music on a compact disc is encoded in such a way that a single second corresponds to approximately 176,000 bytes of data, and a single three-minute song to approximately 32 million bytes (32MB). In the mid-1990s, when it was not uncommon for a personal computer to have a total hard-drive capacity of only 500MB, it was therefore impossible to store even one album’s worth of music on the average home computer. And given the actual connection speed of a then-standard 56K dial-up modem, even a single album’s worth of music would have taken literally all day to transfer over the Internet. In this way, the nature of the CD format and the state of mid-90s computer and telecommunications technologies offered the music industry a practical barrier to copyright infringement via Internet file-sharing. But then came MP3.

Over the course of the late 1980s and early 1990s, several teams of audio engineers worked to develop, test and perfect the standard that would eventually gain the blessing of Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG). Their approach took advantage of certain physical and cognitive characteristics of human hearing, such as our inability to detect the quieter of two sounds played simultaneously. Using a “perceptual” compression method, engineers were able to eliminate more than 90 percent of the data in a standard CD audio file without compromising sound quality as perceived by the average listener using standard audio equipment.

Suddenly, that digital copy of your favorite pop song took up only 2-3 MB on your hard-drive rather than 32MB, which in combination with the growth in average drive capacity and the increase in average Internet connection speed created the conditions for both the rampant, Winamp- and Napster-enabled copyright infringement of 1999-2000 and for the legal commercial distribution of digital music via the Internet. In the eyes of the RIAA, those are the conditions that also explain the 29 percent decline in the sales of music CDs between 2000 and 2006. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica

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

The Old Salt’s Corner

Air Operations (OC Division)

The Air Operations Division is responsible for airspace management around the carrier, and monitoring the status of all airborne aircraft. These functions are performed in the Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC). Enlisted Air Traffic Controllers (ACs) work in this division.

Electronic Materials Office (EMO)

The EMO Division is responsible for all electronic maintenance of tactical and navigational radar systems onboard the ship. The EMO also provides maintenance for the ship’s internal and external communications systems, ship’s computers, and tactical display systems. Enlisted Data Systems Technicians (DSs) man these ADP systems.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

If Barbie's so popular, why do you have to buy all her friends?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

~ Oscar Wilde

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Never deprive someone of hope. It may be all they have.”

~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Least Competent Criminals - 200-lb. floor model safe

Least Competent Criminals

Notwithstanding the suggestion in movies, stealing a 200-lb. floor model safe is a very low-return crime, as the February arrest of three pals in Kingsport, Tenn., illustrated.

After struggling to load the safe into a car’s trunk (accidentally shattering the back window), they drove to one’s apartment, but police were called when neighbors saw the safe being dragged across a parking lot in the middle of the night. (During the trip, it fell onto one perp’s foot.)

Police, following gouge marks, visited the apartment and spotted the safe, as yet unopened, in the middle of the kitchen. (Police: Why do you gentlemen have a safe?) (Perp: We found it in an alley.) Police opened it up. (Empty.)

Coffee With Bob / Kingsport Times-News (02/02/2015)

Why Are Yawns Contagious?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Are Public Toilet Seats U-Shaped?

There’s a difference between a public toilet and the one in your house, and it’s not the smell: their seats are shaped differently. Almost all public restrooms have what are called open front toilet seats, which are shaped like the letter u and have an opening at the front. Most private bathrooms, by contrast, have oval or round toilet seats that wrap all the way around the toilet. Why the gap?

The two-prong, open-front seat is required by the plumbing codes adopted by most public authorities in the U.S. “All water closet seats, except those within dwelling units, shall be either of the open front type or have an automatic seat cover dispenser”, as California’s state plumbing code reads. The requirement was first included in the American Standard National Plumbing Code in 1955, and in the Uniform Plumbing Code in 1973, according to Dan Cole, a Technical Services Manager with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

This is largely a matter of hygiene. No matter what kind of junk you’re packing, u-shaped seats give you a little breathing room to avoid touching the seat with your genitals, and provide one less place for urine to splash.

Open-front toilet seats are largely designed to make it easier for women to wipe, according to Lynne Simnick, the senior vice president of code development at the IAPMO. The opening is designed to “allow women to wipe the perineal area after using the toilet without contacting the seat”, she says. So basically, open toilet seats are designed for front-wipers.

U-shaped seats are also cheaper, since they use less material. And they’re less likely to be stolen.

SlateMental FlossThe Morning News.orgRedditWikipedia / Wikipedia (Flush Toilets)Daily Mail

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Skid row”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Skid road:” or skid row originated in Seattle. The actual road, Yesler Way, was used during the late 1800s to haul (skid) logs to the Yesler saw mill at the bottom of the hill.

It became a rather seedy district eventually and became known as “Skid Road”, and the name caught on.. Wikipedia / Phrases UK.org

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Button Crusher: Imaginary machine used by a ship's laundry to pulverize buttons. Unique in that buttons processed by a button crusher look perfectly OK when they leave the laundry but fall to pieces when touched by the recipient.

Charlie Noble: The stove pipe from the mess deck, the cleaning of which is a major chore.

Cleaning Stations: Hour-long field day evolution where everyone drops what they're doing and cleans their spaces. See “XO's Happy Hour”

COD: Carrier Onboard Delivery - the mighty C-2 Greyhound, which ferries people and supplies to and from the carrier on a regular basis. The C-2 Greyhound COD was preceded in service by the smaller C-1 Trader COD aircraft.

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

Just for you MARINE

Embassy Marine: Officially a Marine Security Guard (MSG). A Marine assigned to a State Department billet, usually at a United States embassy overseas.

Enlist: The act of joining the military services by individuals who are not Warrant or Commissioned Officers. All legal information is contained in the voluminous DD Form 4. If a promise made by a recruiter is not listed in the Form 4 it is not for real. Every enlistee should read every word of his or her Form 4 before signing it.

Enlisted Marine: Marines in the rank of private, private first class and lance corporal. While all sergeants are also enlisted they are categorized as NCOs.

EPW: Enemy Prisoner of War.

EST: Essential Subjects Training.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSM-70 - Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70: “Spartans”
NAS Jacksonville, Florida

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Pinup queen Bettie Page

Pinup queen Bettie Page - accused of inciting juvenile delinquency in the 1950s

Bettie Page, the famous pin-up girl often credited for sparking the sexual revolution, suddenly disappeared from the public eye in the late 1950s, baffling thousands.

She never told the public the events that surrounded her disappearance, nor did she ever offer any reasons.

However, Page was not kidnapped, nor was she murdered. For three decades during her disappearance, she was never photographed.

She led a life that included marriages, poverty and mental illness and died in 2008 at the age of 85. Biography / Daily Mail / Wikipedia


“Free Bird” - Lynyrd Skynyrd 1973

“Free Bird” - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Album: Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd
Released 1973 video

Frontman, Johnny Van Zant discussed this song in a track-by-track commentary to promote the band's 2010 CD/DVD Live From Freedom Hall. He said: “For years Skynyrd has always closed the show with that song and the song has different meanings for different people. This kid was telling me that they used it for their graduation song and not too long ago somebody told me that they used it at a funeral. And really it's a love song, its one of the few that Lynyrd Skynyrd's ever had. It's about a guy and a girl. Of course at the end it was dedicated to Duane Allman from the band Allman Brothers because it goes into the guitar part. If you can get through that one you've had a good night at a Skynyrd show.”

This song began as a ballad without the guitar solos at the end, and Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded it that way for the first time in 1972. Guitarist Allen Collins had been working on the song on and off for the previous 2 years. At the time of recording, the song was only 7 1/2 minutes long, but throughout the next year, Collins continued to refine the song until it was recorded for the final cut of Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd in 1973.

Collins wrote the music long before Ronnie Van Zant came up with lyrics for it. Van Zant finally got inspired one night and had Collins and Gary Rossington play it over and over until he wrote the words.

The lyrics are about a man explaining to a girl why he can't settle down and make a commitment. The opening verse, “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?” was inspired by Allen Collins' girlfriend Kathy, who had asked him this very question during a fight.

Allman Brothers Band guitarist Duane Allman died around the same time this was released. Skynyrd sometimes dedicated it to Allman at concerts, but it was written long before his death. The double guitar solo at the end is the same style as many early Allman Brothers songs on which Duane played.

Skynyrd has played this only as an instrumental since the 1977 plane crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. His brother, Johnny, took his place. For a while, he wouldn't sing it - the band played it as an instrumental and the crowd would sing the words.

The band's record company did not want this on the album. They thought it was too long and that no radio station would play it. Even the band never thought this was going to be a hit.

This is a classic rock anthem. Shouting it out as a request at concerts has become a Rock And Roll joke, and every now and then a musician will actually play it. The 2007 Mitch Myers book The Boy Who Cried Freebird: Rock & Roll Fables and Sonic Storytelling explores this subject in a work of fiction about the first person ever to shout "Free Bird" at a concert.

Skynyrd always plays this as the last song at their shows.

In the U.S., this wasn't released as a single until a year after the album came out. By that time, “Sweet Home Alabama” had already been released, and the single version of “Free Bird” was edited down. The long version from the album has always been more popular.

Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd was Lynyrd Skynyrd's first album. They gave it the title because they knew people would not be able to pronounce their name.

Ronnie Van Zant thought at first that this song “Had too many chords to write lyrics for”, Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington commented in an interview with Blender magazine,

“But after a few months, we were sitting around, and he asked Allen to play those chords again. After about 20 minutes, Ronnie started singing, 'If I leave here tomorrow,' and it fit great. It wasn't anything heavy, just a love song about leavin' town, time to move on. Al put the organ on the front, which was a very good idea. He also helped me get the sound of the delayed slide guitar that I play - it's actually me playing the same thing twice, recording one on top of the other, so it sounds kind of slurry, echoey.”

While the lyrics contain the phrase “free as a bird”, the title itself (“Free Bird”) is used just once, right before the guitar solos begin: “Won't you fly high, free bird.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd official site / Rock and Roll Hall of Fame / All Music / Billboard / Song Facts / Rolling Stone Magazine / Wikipedia

Image: “Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd (album)” by Lynyrd Skynyrd



● The U.S. Marine Corps is actually older than the United States itself, having been founded in 1775.

● The Earth's North and South Poles flip polarity on a semi-frequent basis, having done so more then 20 times in the past 5 million years. That means that with the next flip, all compasses will be pointing South rather then North.

● Clifton Keith Hillegass is the “Cliff” behind Cliff's Notes. He started his company in 1958 when he published 16 Shakespearian study guides.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Moses, Jesus and an old man are golfing. Moses steps up to the tee and hits the ball. It goes sailing over the fairway and lands in the water trap. Moses parts the water and chips the ball onto the green.

Jesus steps up to the tee and hits the ball. It goes sailing over the fairway and lands in the water trap. Jesus just walks on the water and chips the ball onto the green.

The old man steps up to the tee and hits the ball. It goes sailing over the fairway and heads for the water trap. But, just before it falls into the water, a fish jumps up and grabs the ball in its mouth.As the fish is falling back down into the water, an eagle swoops down and grabs the fish in its claws. The eagle flies over the green where a lightning bolt shoots from the sky and barely misses it. Startled, the eagle drops the fish. When the fish hits the ground, the ball pops out of its mouth and rolls into the hole for a hole-in-one.

Jesus then turns to the old man and says, “Dad, if you don’t stop fooling around, we won’t bring you next time.”