Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 15, 2016

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Soviets admit to Katyn Massacre on April 13, 1990

Soviets admit to Katyn Massacre on April 13, 1990

Soviets admit to Katyn Massacre The Soviet government officially accepts blame for the Katyn Massacre of World War II, when nearly 5,000 Polish military officers were murdered and buried in mass graves in the Katyn Forest. The admission was part of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s promise to be more forthcoming and candid concerning Soviet history.

In 1939, Poland had been invaded from the west by Nazi forces and from the east by Soviet troops. Sometime in the spring of 1940, thousands of Polish military officers were rounded up by Soviet secret police forces, taken to the Katyn Forest outside of Smolensk, massacred, and buried in a mass grave. In 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union and pushed into the Polish territory once held by the Russians. In 1943, with the war against Russia going badly, the Germans announced that they had unearthed thousands of corpses in the Katyn Forest. Representatives from the Polish government-in-exile (situated in London) visited the site and decided that the Soviets, not the Nazis, were responsible for the killings. These representatives, however, were pressured by U.S. and British officials to keep their report secret for the time being, since they did not want to risk a diplomatic rupture with the Soviets. As World War II came to an end, German propaganda lashed out at the Soviets, using the Katyn Massacre as an example of Russian atrocities. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin flatly denied the charges and claimed that the Nazis were responsible for the slaughter. The matter was not revisited for 40 years.

By 1990, however, two factors pushed the Soviets to admit their culpability. First was Gorbachev’s much publicized policy of “openness” in Soviet politics. This included a more candid appraisal of Soviet history, particularly concerning the Stalin period. Second was the state of Polish-Soviet relations in 1990. The Soviet Union was losing much of its power to hold onto its satellites in Eastern Europe, but the Russians hoped to retain as much influence as possible. In Poland, Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement was steadily eroding the power of the communist regime. The Katyn Massacre issue had been a sore spot in relations with Poland for over four decades, and it is possible that Soviet officials believed that a frank admission and apology would help ease the increasing diplomatic tensions. The Soviet government issued the following statement: “The Soviet side expresses deep regret over the tragedy, and assesses it as one of the worst Stalinist outrages.”

Whether the Soviet admission had any impact is difficult to ascertain. The communist regime in Poland crumbled by the end of 1990, and Lech Walesa was elected president of Poland in December of that year. Gorbachev resigned in December 1991, which brought an effective end to the Soviet Union. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Katyn Forest Massacre.org / National Archives.gov / CIA.gov video

“It was Beautiful Yesterday”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“It was Beautiful Yesterday”

Bha e brèagha an-de (It was Beautiful Yesterday)

There was a sailing vessel

With many a sail proudly lapping in the wind

A flag of the Celtic honor, in ruin an rented

As all the sailors sing

Of my love for you

From long ago

Before death became our friend

Oh would I be sailing from stormy seas to the Scottish glens

To lay some flowers at your side

Your beauty is now far under

My love ill wait for all eternity

For loves resurrection’s stormy thunder

Our bodies may be under stone

Our memories long lost in tales and fable

Let no man ever lay any such claim

Our love was not the gift of briny seaworthy fame.

We be only stones, in a meadow blue

When you come upon our fate

Tiss with this verse, I state my case

The life that escaped our sadly date

Love though was true as sky

For long ago, she bid adieu

Her sadness at my drowning departure

As I her lover was told to be

Buried deep and under sea.

Both sadness and the tossing waves

Took the life out of her and me

So when you look at fading stones

Remember the love that used to be.

~ Author unknown

“I’m Just Sayin”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn't give you the key, they're not doing it for your benefit.”

~ Doctorow's law

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Great minds have purposes,

others have wishes.

Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune;

If you let the words pass through you,

but great minds rise above them.”

~ Washington Irving

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

~ Albert Einstein

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)

School Bans Energy Drink Sales, Citing Link To “High-Risk Sex”

School Bans Energy Drink Sales, Citing Link To “High-Risk Sex”

A student argued that selling the drinks on campus promoted a culture of stress and bad work habits.

Myles Kamisher-Koch, a student who interns with the college's Dining Services, is behind the decision, reports student publication The Middlebury Campus. Kamisher-Koch argued at a meeting of administrators, students and faculty that beverages like Red Bull and 5-Hour energy promote a “culture of stress” and encourage bad academic habits.

Dan Detora, executive director of dining hall services, told NBC that consuming energy drinks can have potentially serious health consequences. College officials also told the outlet the drinks have been linked to unsafe behavior like alcohol abuse and “high-risk sexual activity”. At least two students told The Middlebury Campus that this link also worries them.

Huffington Post - NBC News (02/27/2016)

How Do Birds Know How to Migrate?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: How Do Birds Know How to Migrate?

Where birds go during the winter, and how they get there, has baffled people in the northern regions of the world for centuries. Aristotle suggested that birds changed species with the seasons; that redstarts turned into robins and garden warblers into blackcaps as the weather cooled. As late as the 19th century, some naturalists thought birds hibernated.

The reality seems almost as crazy as birds morphing species throughout the year. Thousands of bird species (at least 40 percent of the world’s birds) travel between summer breeding grounds and winter enclaves, sometimes crossing continents and oceans to do so. For example, every year, the arctic tern travels 44,000 miles on a meandering path between Greenland and Antarctica. However, seasonal migration is not restricted to flying birds. Emperor penguins march across 70 miles of ice each year from the sea to their breeding ground.

There are a few theories about how birds find their way between their seasonal homes, and there are still some mysteries surrounding how exactly their honing systems work. For many birds, however, migration is an instinct, a journey their bodies are prepared to take when the time comes.

As sunlight hours wane in the fall, photoreceptors in songbirds’ brains respond, setting in motion hormonal changes that cause the birds to molt, eat more, and start jonesing for the open skies. To fatten up for their arduous journey across the Caribbean Sea, for instance, bobolinks, a kind of songbird, up their food intake by almost 40 percent in order to balloon to up to 150 percent of their summer body weight. Along with the desire to gorge comes a restlessness to take flight after sundown and to keep flying throughout the night. It’s known by its German name, zugunruhe. Even captive birds, who have no reason or ability to migrate, feel it.

“As songbirds take to the sky just after sunset, the captives begin flitting against their cages, too”, ornithologist Miyoko Chu explains in her book Songbird Journeys (an invaluable resource for this article). “Their restlessness continues every night, finally ceasing at about the time when the wild birds finally reach their wintering grounds.”

The direction of their flight, too, is instinctual. One classic study from 1978 found that garden warblers raised in captivity flew in the same cardinal direction as their wild, migrating relatives, even though the captive birds could not see the sky. Some migratory birds can sense magnetic fields and use them to navigate, though how exactly they do this is still somewhat mysterious. Bobolinks, for one, have magnetite in their nasal tissues, and studies of their brains show that neurons associated with vision light up when magnetic fields change. In 2007, researchers at the University of Oldenburg found that garden warblers also seem to be able to see magnetic fields. This may be how the garden warblers in the 1978 study knew even without seeing the sky the direction in which they needed to migrate.

That direction is partially a matter of genetics, resulting in sometimes inefficient routes. In 2008, researchers Peter Berthold and Andreas J. Helbig crossbred birds with different migratory patterns and found that the offspring could not figure out where to go when they migrated. The young birds tried to fly a route halfway between what each of their parents would have taken, following contradictory instincts.

The route itself is not preordained, though. Birds learn how to get to their summer and wintering grounds over time, and younger birds can get lost. In addition to using the Earth’s magnetic field to orient themselves, some birds use the Sun and the stars. Songbirds can see polarized light patterns and use those to find their way, too. According to a 2013 study published in Biogeosciences, pigeons may be able to navigate using their sense of smell, by memorizing certain odors in the wind. If they get lost, they can retrace their flight by flying towards odors they’ve smelled before, in the opposite order from when they were headed out the first time.

Still, some species are worse at migration than others. Whooping cranes, for instance, learn migration routes from older birds. For 15 years, a Canadian charity attempted to teach captive whooping cranes how to migrate from Wisconsin to Florida for the winter by having the youngsters follow ultralight planes because the orphaned birds otherwise wouldn't know to leave the Midwest for sunnier digs, or where to go. (The program was recently shut down after the federal government pulled its funding.)

Environmental conditions can also influence migration. Research on thrushes conducted by Biological Station Rybachy in Russia found that though they will fly through lightning storms, they only take off if weather conditions at sunset aren’t too cold or windy. If it’s colder than 69°F or if wind speeds exceed 6 mph, they’ll hunker down for the night. And if they aren’t fat enough to sustain the journey, they’ll rest up and eat until they gain some weight.

Because there are only so many optimal migration paths, many bird species in the Western Hemisphere have evolved to migrate along some of the same routes, converging on their way between North and South America at several points where wind patterns and other factors might give them an edge in completing dangerous ocean crossings.

Often, birds end up returning to the exact same territory each year. They may even return to the same area where they were hatched as chicks. Research indicates that up to 60 percent of migratory songbirds return to the same place each year. So if you see a warbler around, say “hi”. It’ll probably be back again next year.

Fish & Wildlife.govMental FlossSmithsonian National Zoological Park.eduTexas Parks & Wildlife.govHeard Museum.orgWikipediaWorld Migratory Birdday.org

Where Did That Saying Come From? “>Slush fund”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Slush fund: Money put aside to be used to bribe or influence, especially in a political context.

The word “slush” was coined in 17th century England as the name for half-melted snow and is first referred to in print with that meaning in Henry Best's Rural Economy in Yorkshire, 1641.

A century later, there was an alternative meaning of “slush”, or “slosh”, which was the fat or grease obtained from meat boiled on board ship. That invaluable guide The Gentleman's Magazine, 1756, referred to it like this:

He used much slush (the rancid fat of pork) among his victuals.

William Thompson made it sound even less appetising in The Royal Navy-men's Advocate, 1757:

Tars whose Stomachs are not very squeamish, can bear to paddle their Fingers in stinking Slush.

Phrases.org UK

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

JAFO: “Just Another Fucking Observer”, given to new recruits who are fresh in the fleet and have not cleared any training.

Jarhead: U. S. Marine.

JARTGO: Just Another Reason To Get Out. “A grain of sand on the beach of reasons to get out of the Navy.”

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSC-5 - Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron FIVE: “Nightdippers”
Naval Station Norfolk - Norfolk, Virginia

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Blue ice spotted near Michigan's Mackinac Bridge

Blue ice spotted near Michigan's Mackinac Bridge

MACKINAW CITY, Michigan - Large piles of blue ice have appeared near Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, catching the eyes of several photographers.

Kelly Alvesteffer shared photos of the strange phenomenon to Facebook after passing by the bridge in Mackinac City with her fiance Rob Lalone.

According to glaciologists at Carleton College, the color of snow is a result of air bubbles found within the ice.

UPI (02/27/2016)

© CEASAR CHOPPY by cartoonist Marty Gavin - archives Ceasar Choppy's Navy! “© CEASAR CHOPPY” by Marty Gavin


“For Your Love” - Yardbirds

“For Your Love” - Yardbirds
Album: For Your Love
Released 1965 video

This was written by Graham Gouldman, who was the bass player for the group 10cc. He also wrote “Heart Full Of Soulvideo for the Yardbirds. Gouldman was inspired by The Animals‎The House Of The Rising Sunvideo. Bassist Paul Samwell-Smith made wholesale changes to Gouldman's original demo, including the use of a harpsichord. Gouldman observed to Uncut magazine August 2009: “The harpsichord was an absolute stroke of genius. The record just had a weird, mysterious atmosphere about it.”

The Yardbirds wrote many of their own songs as a group, but had some of their biggest hits with the ones Gouldman wrote. What did they think of Gouldman's songs? Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty told us: “Well, they were always very original. Very interesting songs, very moody, because they were usually in a minor key, the ones we did, anyway. 'For Your Love' was an interesting song, it had an interesting chord sequence, very moody, very powerful. And the fact that it stopped in the middle and went into a different time signature, we liked that, that was interesting. Quite different, really, from all the bluesy stuff that we'd been playing up till then. But somehow we liked it. It was original and different.”

The Yardbirds didn't have a lot of hits, but were one of the most influential and original bands of the '60, and an easy pick for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which they entered in 1992. Having a hit song was important to them, however, and this song provided that. McCarty explains: “To try and get a hit song in those days was quite a difficult thing to do for us. We could come up with ideas, but our first hit song was very important for us. And with 'For Your Love' we heard it and had the demo of it and it sounded like a hit song to all of us. Yeah, there wasn't a problem doing that. It was the sort of thing that you relied on to get into that other echelon, to have a hit song. All our contemporaries were having hit songs: The Beatles and the Stones and the Moody Blues and Animals, they were all having Number 1 hits and we were really trying to keep up.”

This almost didn't get recorded by The Yardbirds. Gouldman wrote it for his own group at the time, the Mockingbirds, but their demo was turned down by Columbia. Also it is believed that producer Mickie Most turned it down on behalf of Herman's Hermits and that the Animals also turned it down.

The song found its way to The Yardbirds after their manager ran into the fledgling songwriter Gouldman when they were opening for The Beatles at a 1964 Christmas show. Gouldman loved how The Yardbirds would change tempo in the middle of a song, which is how he wrote “For Your Love”.

This song prompted Eric Clapton to leave The Yardbirds, since he felt their music was becoming too commercial. He was replaced by Jeff Beck, who was later replaced by Jimmy Page. Clapton joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and would later be a member of Cream and Derek and the Dominos. One of the contributing factors to Eric Clapton's departure was, while performing the song live, his having to recreate the song's harpsichord on a 12-string guitar. (thanks, James - Tracy, CA)

The harpsichord on this song was played by session musician Brian Auger, who later became a solo artist of note. His biggest hit was the Bob Dylan song “This Wheel's On Fire”, which was credited to Julie Driscoll With Brian Auger And The Trinity. It later became the theme tune for the BBC comedy show Absolutely Fabulous.

The Yardbirds were known as a great live band, but the recording technology of 1965 limited their commercial potential, as the songs they wrote themselves didn't play well in a studio setting. McCarty told us how this song gave them a breakthrough: “All the stuff that we played live and we recorded in the studio, it just sounded really tame. The studios weren't so good then, they weren't really geared for playing rock and roll or blues music. And all the ideas that we'd had up to 'For Your Love' just sounded awful. And so 'For Your Love' was the song that would sound good anyway, because it was a much more commercial song.”

On The Yardbirds official site, bass player Chris Dreja says of this: “We owe a lot to that song because it sort of pulled us out from national to international and set the template for us - that time change in the middle, the weirdness of it.” (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)

This song appeared in the movies Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998), Harimu Ogen (1985) and Deadly Advice (1994).

Fleetwood Mac recorded this for their 1973 album Mystery to Me and released it as a single.

The musical breakdown on this track is as follows:

Keith Relf - lead vocal

Eric Clapton - guitar

Chris Dreja - guitar

Paul Samwell-Smith - bass

Jim McCarty - drums

Non-Yardbirds brought in to play were:

Ron Prentiss - acoustic bass

Brian Auger - harpsichord

Denny Piercey - bongos

This song was covered by Greg Kihn in 1994. It was also used in the movies Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and Pirate Radio (2009), and commercials for Zales jewelry.

The Yardbirds‎ official site / Rolling Stone magazine / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “For Your Love (album)” by The Yardbirds



● “Giga” stands for the number one billion.

● The digit ZERO was given to the West around 800 B/B by the Arab mathematician al-Khwarizmi.

● Binary describes a number system with a base of two.

● Bit is short for “binary digit”.

People Who Know Everything

A Test for People Who Know Everything

There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter “s”.

Answer: slippers, sneakers, sandals, slingbacks, snowshoes, snow boots, socks, saddle shoes, stiletto heels, slipper socks, soccer cleats, spectator pumps Answers.com

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

An 82 year old woman went on a blind date with a 92 year old man.

She came home very frustrated and her daughter said, “Mom, what’s wrong?”

She said, “I had to slap him three times.”

The daughter said, “You mean he tried to get fresh?”

She said, “No. I thought he was dead.”

Pun of the Day

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.