Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 22, 2015

Previous Week   May 25, 2015 - May 31, 2015   Next Week

Star Wars opens on May 25, 1977

Star Wars opens on May 25, 1977

Star Wars opens: On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening”, actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake”. Beginning with–in Fisher’s words – “a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags”, the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.

With its groundbreaking special effects, Star Wars leaped off screens and immersed audiences in “a galaxy far, far away”. By now everyone knows the story, which followed the baby-faced Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) as he enlisted a team of allies–including hunky Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and the robots C3PO and R2D2on his mission to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from an Evil Empire governed by Darth Vader. The film made all three of its lead actors overnight stars, turning Fisher into an object of adoration for millions of young male fans and launching Ford’s now-legendary career as an action-hero heartthrob.

Star Wars was soon a bona-fide pop culture phenomenon. Over the years it has spawned five more feature films, five TV series and an entire industry’s worth of comic books, toys, video games and other products. Two big-screen sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983), featured much of the original cast and enjoyed the same success–both critical and commercial–as the first film. In 1999, Lucas stretched back in time for the fourth installment, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, chronologically a prequel to the original movie. Two other prequels, Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) followed.

The latter Star Wars movies featured a new cast–including Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen – and have generally failed to earn the same amount of critical praise as the first three films. They continue to score at the box office, however, with Revenge of the Sith becoming the top-grossing film of 2005 in the United States and the second worldwide.

History Channel / Star Wars Official Site / Wikipedia

President Johnson acquitted on May 26, 1868

President Andrew Johnson acquitted on May 26, 1868

President Andrew Johnson acquitted: At the end of a historic two-month trial, the U.S. Senate narrowly fails to convict President Andrew Johnson of the impeachment charges levied against him by the House of Representatives three months earlier. The senators voted 35 guilty and 19 not guilty on the second article of impeachment, a charge related to his violation of the Tenure of Office Act in the previous year. Ten days earlier, the Senate had likewise failed to convict Johnson on another article of impeachment, the 11th, voting an identical 35 for conviction and 19 for acquittal. Because both votes fell short–by one vote–of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Johnson, he was judged not guilty and remained in office.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Johnson, a U.S. senator from Tennessee, was the only senator from a seceding state who remained loyal to the Union. Johnson’s political career was built on his defense of the interests of poor white Southerners against the landed classes; of his decision to oppose secession, he said, “Damn the negroes; I am fighting those traitorous aristocrats, their masters.” For his loyalty, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee in 1862, and in 1864 Johnson was elected vice president of the United States.

Sworn in as president after Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, President Johnson enacted a lenient Reconstruction policy for the defeated South, including almost total amnesty to ex-Confederates, a program of rapid restoration of U.S.-state status for the seceded states, and the approval of new, local Southern governments, which were able to legislate “black codes” that preserved the system of slavery in all but name. The Republican-dominated Congress greatly opposed Johnson’s Reconstruction program and passed the “Radical Reconstruction” by repeatedly overriding the president’s vetoes. Under the Radical Reconstruction, local Southern governments gave way to federal military rule, and African American men in the South were granted the constitutional right to vote.

In March 1867, in order to weaken further Johnson’s authority, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act over his veto. The act prohibited the president from removing federal office holders, including cabinet members, who had been confirmed by the Senate, without the consent of the Senate. It was designed to shield members of Johnson’s cabinet, like Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who was appointed during the Lincoln administration and was a leading ally of the so-called Radical Republicans in Congress. In the fall of 1867, Johnson attempted to test the constitutionality of the act by replacing Stanton with General Ulysses S. Grant. However, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rule on the case, and Grant turned the office back to Stanton after the Senate passed a measure in protest of the dismissal.

On February 21, 1868, Johnson decided to rid himself of Stanton once and for all and appointed General Lorenzo Thomas, an individual far less favorable to the Congress than Grant, as secretary of war. Stanton refused to yield, barricading himself in his office, and the House of Representatives, which had already discussed impeachment after Johnson’s first dismissal of Stanton, initiated formal impeachment proceedings against the president. On February 24, the House voted 11 impeachment articles against President Johnson. Nine of the articles cited his violations of the Tenure of Office Act; one cited his opposition to the Army Appropriations Act of 1867 (designed to deprive the president of his constitutional position as commander in chief of the U.S. Army); and one accused Johnson of bringing “into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt, and reproach the Congress of the United States” through certain controversial speeches.

On March 13, according to the rules set out in Section 3 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the impeachment trial of President Johnson began in the Senate. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presided over the proceedings, which were described as theatrical. On May 16 and again on May 26, the Senate voted on the charges brought against President Johnson. Both times the vote was 35 for conviction and 19 for acquittal, with seven moderate Republicans joining 12 Democrats in voting against what was a weak case for impeachment. The vote fell just short of a two-thirds majority, and Johnson remained in office. Nevertheless, he chose not to seek reelection on the Democratic ticket. In November, Ulysses S. Grant, who supported the Republicans’ Radical Reconstruction policies, was elected president of the United States.

In 1875, after two failed bids, Johnson won reelection to Congress as a U.S. senator from Tennessee. He died less than four months after taking office, at the age of 66. Fifty-one years later, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional in its ruling in Myers v. United States.

History Channel / Wikipedia / National Park Service / Encyclopaedia Britannica / Biography.com / UMKC School of Law

Wikipedia  Image: Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875), 17th President of the United States (1865–1869) (As Vice President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following his assassination).

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - Human factors

(DOD) The physical, cultural, psychological, and behavioral attributes of an individual or group that influence perceptions, understanding, and interactions. Joint Intellegence (Joint Publication 2.0)

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

The Old Salt’s Corner

CWC Call Signs

Typical Carrier Air Wing (CVW)


Composite Warfare Commander   CWC   AB

Surface Warfare Commander   SUWC   AS

Undersea Warfare Commander   USWC   AX

Air Warfare Commander   AWC   AW

Command & Control Warfare Commander   C2W   AQ

Strike Warfare Commander   STRIKE   AP

Air Resource Element Coordinator   AREC   AR

Helicopter Element Coordinator   HEC   AL

Submarine Element Coordinator   SEC   SEC

Force Over-the-Horizon Track Coordinator   FOTC   FOTC

Screen Coordinator   SC   AN

1. Surface Warfare Commander (AS)

The surface warfare commander can best perform his duties from onboard the carrier due to superior Command-Control-Communications-Computers and Intelligence (C4I) and proximity to surface surveillance coordination (SSC) and war-at-sea (WAS) tactical air assets. He is usually the commanding officer of the CV(N). Alternate AS is often a Tomahawk-capable ship commanding officer. AS is responsible for planning and executing both offensive and defensive war-at-sea strikes as well as for SSC. This maximizes the benefits of the close relationship necessary between the AS and the Force Over-the-Horizon Track Coordinator (FOTC, see below).

2. Undersea Warfare Commander (AX)

The tactical DESRON commander is normally the undersea warfare commander (AX). AX is often double hatted as Helicopter Element Coordinator (HEC, see below) and Screen Coordinator (SC, see below). Alternate AX is often the senior DD-963 (Spruance-class) commanding officer or, if none is available, a senior commanding officer of the primary mission USW DD(G)/FF(G) in the battlegroup.

3. Air Warfare Commander (AW)

The commanding officer of the cruiser in the battlegroup is often assigned as AW. Preferably, it is a Ticonderoga class CG operating the AEGIS weapon system. The Combat Information Center (CIC) of these ships is specially designed for inner air battle functions. A second cruiser within the battlegroup may act as an alternate AW to allow a 12 hours on - 12 hours off rotation.

4. Command & Control Warfare Commander (AQ)

The space and electronic warfare commander acts as principal advisor to CWC for use and counter-use of the electromagnetic spectrum by friendly and enemy forces. AQ will promulgate Force Emissions Control (EMCON) restrictions, monitors organic and non-organic intelligence and surveillance sensors and develops operational deception and counter-targeting plans as appropriate. AQ is located onboard the carrier. An alternate call sign for C2W is AZ.

5. Strike Warfare Commander (AP)

In single CVBG operations the carrier air wing commander (CAG) is normally assigned as the air warfare commander. The CWC may retain AP and use the CAG to augment CWC staff if desired. AP sets general strike philosophy, policy and employs manned aircraft and tactical missiles. AP sets strikes which can include both carrier strike assets and TLAM in accordance with the Air Tasking Order (ATO) when applicable.

6. Air Resources Element Coordinator (AR)

The air resource element coordinator provides organic carrier air resources as tasked by warfare commanders and the CWC. AR promulgates current information on the availability of aircraft to the CWC and other warfare commanders as well as disseminates information or results (e.g., BDA) achieved by organic carrier air resources. The CV(N)’s Strike Operations Officer normally handles this function.

7. Helicopter Element Coordinator (HEC)

The Helicopter Element Coordinator promulgates air and air plans for non-logistics (e.g., USW, OTH-T) helicopters such as the LAMPS-II/III to support battlegroup operations.

8. Submarine Element Coordinator (SEC)

The Submarine Element Coordinator acts as principle advisor to AX for submarine matters when an SSN is assigned in integrated in direct support (SSN DS) of the battlegroup. The SEC acts as executive agent to advise in planning and direction of SSN DS employment. Reports directly to OTC/CWC on matters of submarine safety. The SEC assists in preparation of submarine sections of operational tasking for USW elements.

9. Force Over the Horizon Track Coordinator (FOTC )

The FOTC manages and collates all-source (organic and non-organic) contact information. As such, he designates contacts of critical concern to the battlegroup.

10. Screen Coordinator (SC)

The Screen Coordinator provides tactical direction to the ships of the battlegroup which constitute the inner USW screen.

Why Is New York City Called “Gotham”?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Is New York City Called “Gotham”?

“Gotham” City

You’re likely most familiar with New York City’s “Gotham” nickname from Batman comics and movies, but the nickname actually predates the Dark Knight by nearly 120 years.

Though we tend to think of “Gotham” as a dark, brooding city constantly on the brink of destruction, the term dates back to medieval England. It means “Goat’s Town” in Anglo-Saxon—which couldn’t be further from how we think of New York City today. It’s also the name of an actual town in England, a sleepy little village in Nottinghamshire. So how did the misnomer come to be?

Author and NYC native Washington Irving started using the term in 1807 in his satirical periodical, Salmagundi. It’s believed that he was inspired by a folk tale called “The Wise Men of Gotham”. In it, residents of England’s Gotham village catch wind that King John will be traveling through their town. Knowing that the king’s visit would bring chaos and turn their quiet village into a circus, the citizens of Gotham decided to feign madness—believed to be contagious at the time—to encourage the king to find another path.

They put their plan into action by performing crazy stunts, including trying to drown an eel in a pond and building a fence around a bush to prevent a cuckoo from escaping. The shenanigans worked in this story—King John bypassed Gotham in favor of a town with more sense.

By repeatedly using “Gotham” in a publication created to lampoon New York culture, Irving was poking a little fun at the city and its residents by comparing it to a village where people pretended to be crazy. New Yorkers embraced the moniker, either not aware that Irving was mocking them, or out of pride for being considered craftily crazy.

New York Public LibraryMuseum of the CitySmithsonianWikipediaMental Floss

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Pardon my French”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

“Pardon my French”

Pardon my French:” Due to the “naughty” dancing of the can-can girls and the scantily clad models on 1800s French postcards, the British equated anything risqué with France. In fact, that's how the phrase “pardon my French” entered the vernacular. Wikipedia / Urban Dictionary / Mental Floss

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

BT Punch: Same as a Bosun's Punch, but delivered by a Boiler Technician (BT)

Grinder: A place at boot camp, normally a parking lot, where the company commander makes you do pushups, other forms of exercise, etc when you screw up.

MTI: Military Training Instructor, who are easily identified by the candy cane colored rope they wear. They are in charge of future submarine sailors coming from boot camp to BESS (Basic Enlisted Submarine School). Their primary purpose is to give junior sailors guidance and knowledge of the military. Their secondary purpose is to discipline any junior sailor who needs counseling.

Sick Bay: On larger ships like carriers and “gator freighters”, sick bay is literally a small hospital, complete with facilities for surgery, X-rays, triage, a pharmacy, etc... On “small boys”, sick bay might be a single space from which the ship's corpsman dispenses Vitamin M and corpsman candy. Sick Bay Commando: A sailor who spends more time going to medical feigning ailments than doing work.

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

Just for you MARINE

Dragon Wagon: Logistics Vehicle System (LVS) is a modular assortment of eight-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles used by the United States Marine Corps.

Dress Blues: The famous blue uniform of the Marines with a standing collar. The uniform is similar to the one worn by Marines in the Civil War. The “sky blue” infantry trousers are adorned by a red “blood stripe” down the outside seams on commissioned and non-commissioned officers. This uniform is worn with medals (without medals it was at one time called Undress Blues). Current usage refers to Blue Dress A (with medals), Blue Dress B (with ribbons), Blue Dress C (sky blue trousers with khaki shirt, field scarf and ribbons) and Blue Dress C (short sleeved khaki shirt and ribbons).

Dress Blues, Tennis Shoes, and a Light Coat of Oil: A flip response to the question, “what is the uniform” or “what will you be wearing”.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VAW-116 - Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116: “Sun Kings”
NAS Whidbey Island, Washington

Aircraft Nicknames

Aircraft Nicknames

A-5 Vigilante: Vigie, Viggie (both pronounced with short “i” and soft “g”).

The North American A-5 Vigilante was a carrier-based supersonic bomber designed and built by North American Aviation for the United States Navy.

The A-5's service coincided with a major policy shift in the U.S. Navy's strategic role, which switched to emphasize submarine-launched ballistic missiles rather than manned bombers - in 1963, procurement of the A-5 was ended and the type was converted to the fast reconnaissance role.

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Remembering Gracie Allen's White House Run

Gracie Allen's White House Run

Perhaps the strangest thing about the 1940 Surprise Party was its almost instant success. Long before comedian Stephen Colbert would launch his faux run for president, comic Gracie Allen announced her intention to become America's first female president on her radio show “The Burns and Allen Show”, which she co-hosted with George Burns.

The bit was merely a gimmick to drum up press for the comedy duo, but listeners took her announcement seriously and were overwhelmingly supportive of Allen's Surprise Party ticket. In response, Allen embarked on a railroad tour from Los Angeles to Omaha, delivering stump speeches to impressive crowds along the way.

Even after she bowed out of the race, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt easily won his third term, Allen still received thousands of write-in votes. WBUR - NPR audio

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)

“Belle de Jour” sues ex-boyfriend for saying she wasn’t a prostitute

“Belle de Jour” sues ex-boyfriend for saying she wasn’t a prostitute

Being called a prostitute might, for most people, be considered just cause for a libel action. When a large part of your reputation hinges on your past life as a call girl, however, it seems that things work very differently.

Dr Brooke Magnanti, 39, better known by her pen name Belle de Jour, is reported to be suing her ex-boyfriend for libel on the grounds that he had suggested she might never have been a prostitute.

Such a claim, Dr Magnanti’s legal team is expected to argue, should be not be considered chivalrous, but instead damaging to the reputation of a woman whose blog spawned two bestselling books and a successful TV series – Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper.

If it goes ahead, it is possible Dr Magnanti’s libel claim will be the first in the UK from a woman claiming she was defamed by suggestions she was not a prostitute.

It appears to have been lodged in response to her ex-boyfriend Owen Morris, a former RAF officer identified only as The Boy in the book, who in 2013 began proceedings against her for defamation and breach of privacy, while saying he did not believe she had been a prostitute.

The website Vice has reported that papers lodged at Edinburgh’s Court of Session show Dr Magnanti has decided to counter-sue, claiming her reputation was damaged by doubt being cast over whether she had been a call girl.

In a statement issued to Vice by her legal team, Dr Magnanti refused to elaborate, saying only: “I can confirm a counter-claim has been lodged. I have been advised to offer no further comment.”

Dr Magnanti, now a forensic scientist and writer, started writing her blog anonymously in 2003, based, she later said, on funding her life as a PhD student by working as a high class escort. It was not until November 2009 that her true identity was revealed. Independent (03/13/2015) / Daily Mail (03/14/2015) video


“Addicted To Love” - Robert Palmer 1985

“Addicted To Love” - Robert Palmer
Album: Riptide
Released 1985 video

Palmer wanted this song to be a duet with Chaka Khan and recorded it with her. His label, Warner Brothers Records, would not allow her voice to be used on the record, so he had to erase her part and re-record her high notes before releasing it. Chaka Khan did appear on Steve Winwood's “Higher Lovevideo, which beat out this song for the 1987 Record of the Year Grammy.

The video featured Palmer singing in front of a “band” of beautiful women who looked exactly alike. They wore lots of make-up and identical clothing as they pretended to play the instruments. The video became an icon of the '80s, and is constantly parodied, including in a Pepsi commercial with Britney Spears video.

Elton John's lyricist Bernie Taupin makes a pretty good case that the models in the video were influenced by the song “Bennie And The Jetsvideo, where he wrote about a futuristic Rock band of androgynous beauties. Said Taupin: “I can't help but believe that that Robert Palmer video with all the identical models somehow paid a little lip service to The Jets.”

The funny thing about the video was that the models posing as a band were selected precisely because they did NOT know how to play the instruments. As a result, each girl was keeping her own time and moving to a different beat.

One of the girls in the video was “bassist” Mak Gilchrist. She recalled to Q magazine June 2009: “I was 21 and got the part on the strength of my modeling book. We were meant to look and 'act' like showroom mannequins. Director Terence Donovan got us tipsy on a bottle of wine but as were having our make-up retouched, I lost balance on my heels and knocked the top of my guitar into the back of Robert's head, and his face then hit the microphone.” Gilchrist added: “I remember feeling an acute sense of embarrassment when I first saw how sexy the video was. The most unusual place I saw it was on a huge screen on the side of a Tokyo building.”

The girls in the video were not Palmer's idea. They were filmed separately and edited behind clips of Palmer singing.

The “love is an addiction” theme is a common lyrical trope, also successfully used the 1983 Huey Lewis & the News hit “I Want A New Drugvideo. Palmer, who died of a heart attack in 2003 at age 54, said that he wrote the song about what it's like having an addictive personality.

The “keyboardist” in the video was Susie Verrico, who later appeared in the in the 2006 series of the UK reality TV show Big Brother.

Rolling Stone magazine (biography) / Robert Palmer official site / Not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame / Biography / All Music / Billboard / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Riptide (album)” by Robert Palmer



● Mapmakers will often place a tiny piece of incorrect information in their maps to prevent illegal reproduction of their work. Called a “copyright trap”, the fake text might be a bogus street name or even the mapmakers' initials hidden in the corner of a city park.

● One of the first known contraceptives was crocodile dung, used by Egyptians.

● In 2009, researchers at Newcastle University’s Centre for Life said that eating a bacon sandwich can help cure a hangover.

People Who Know Everything

A Test for People Who Know Everything

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

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their AnswerNational Parks Service

Answer to Last Week's Test

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was created by former Wall Street Journal co-founder Charles Dow in 1896. Dow picked 12 important companies from a variety of industries ranging from the U.S. Leather Company to the American Sugar Company. What is the only company still on the list today?

Answer: General Electric.Wikipedia

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“Doc”, says Steve, “I want to be castrated.”

“What on earth for?” asks the doctor in amazement.

“It's something I've been thinking about for a long time and I want to have it done” replies Steve.

“But have you thought it through properly?” asks the doctor, “It's a very serious operation and once it's done, there's no going back. It will change your life forever!”

“I'm aware of that and you're not going to change my mind -- either you book me in to be castrated or I'll simply go to another doctor.”

“Well, OK.”, says the doctor, “But it's against my better judgment!”

So Steve has his operation, and the next day he is up and walking very slowly, legs apart, down the hospital corridor with his drip stand. Heading towards him is another patient, who is walking exactly the same way.

“Hi there,”, says tsays Steve, “It looks as if you've just had the same operation as me.”

“Well,”, said the patient, “I finally decided after 37 years of life that I would like to be circumcised.”

Steve stared at him in horror and screamed, “Shit! THAT'S the word!”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

What is a “free” gift? Aren't all gifts free?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Friends are far more dangerous than enemies, they know everything about you and will not pause to use it against you.”

~ Terra Castle

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip. ”

~ Anonymous