Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 45, 2020

Previous Week   November 02, 2020 - November 08, 2020  Next Week

Second Battle of El Alamein: General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel begins a retreat of his forces after a costly defeat on November 04, 1942

Second Battle of El Alamein: General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel begins a retreat of his forces after a costly defeat on November 04, 1942

Second Battle of El Alamein: General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel begins a retreat of his forces after a costly defeat: Fought near the western frontier of Egypt between October 23, and November 04, 1942, El Alamein was the climax and turning point of the North African campaign of World War Two (1939-45). The Axis army of Italy and Germany suffered a decisive defeat by the British Eighth Army.

On November 2nd, Operation Supercharge was launched at El Alamein, Egypt, destroying many Axis tanks and guns. Axis tanks counterattacked at 1100 hours, which failed to stop the Allied advances. During the night, Rommel requested permission from Hitler to fall back, which was denied on the next day.

On November 4th, Disobeying a direct order by Adolf Hitler, General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel begins a retreat of his forces after a costly defeat - The retreat would ultimately last five months.

Second Battle of El Alamein: General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel begins a retreat of his forces after a costly defeat on November 04, 1942

The Context

Conflict in North Africa had been ignited in 1940 by Italy’s invasion of Egypt from its colony of Libya. This threatened Britain’s vital strategic assets, the Suez Canal and Persian oil fields. However, when the Italians were defeated, Germany intervened on behalf of its ally in the spring of 1941.

Under the bold leadership of General Rommel, the Axis enjoyed startling successes, recapturing Libya and threatening Egypt. Yet, by late 1941, when Rommel’s forces had overstretched their supply lines, they were forced to fall back in the face of a determined British offensive. In 1942 a revived Axis effort saw Rommel defeat the British at Gazala and capture Tobruk.

Stand at El Alamein

For a while it seemed that Rommel would link up with the Germans advancing in the Caucasus and so overrun the whole Middle East. The British conducted a chaotic retreat into Egypt, but rallied their battered army and made a stand at the First Battle of El Alamein. This was a position that, unlike others in the desert, could not be turned by a flanking manoeuvre. It bordered both the sea and the Qattara Depression, a sea of quicksand impassable to mechanised forces.

The summer of 1942 saw the defeat of Rommel’s final efforts to breakthrough into Egypt. The initiative now lay with the British. They planned another offensive that would finally end the Axis threat to the Middle East.

The Armies

Lieutenant-General Bernard Law Montgomery (1887-1976) was one of the most capable and controversial British commanders. In August 1942 he was appointed Eighth Army's commander and immediately set about transforming its fighting spirit.

At Alamein he commanded over 190,000 men from across the British Empire, Greece, Poland and France. They were equipped with over 1,000 tanks, 900 artillery pieces and 1,400 anti-tank guns.

Desert Fox

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) was already famous for his brilliant generalship during the battles for France and North Africa. Rommel was a master of desert warfare, earning the nickname ‘Desert Fox’. Exuding frenetic energy and leading from the front, he inspired his troops to great feats of heroism and endurance.

His instinct for handling armoured formations, combined with the qualitative superiority of German units, enabled the ‘Afrikakorps’ to consistently outmatch the Allies, often against heavy odds. At Alamein he commanded 116,000 German and Italian soldiers, 540 tanks, 500 artillery pieces and 490 anti-tank guns.

Second Battle of El Alamein: General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel begins a retreat of his forces after a costly defeat on November 04, 1942

The Battle

The Axis forces were once more in a critical supply situation. Lacking the fuel and mechanised forces to fight a mobile battle Rommel instead constructed strong defensive positions protected by deep minefields, which he nicknamed the ‘devil’s gardens’.

Realising the strength of the Axis defences, Montgomery resisted the impatient pleas of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill for an early attack. Instead he set about building up his forces, improving the morale and training of his troops, ensuring that he had superior numbers of men, tanks, guns and aircraft.


Having assembled a powerful multinational Allied force, Montgomery unleashed his offensive on the night of October 23rd with a spectacular artillery barrage. In the early hours of 24 October British infantry and engineers began Operation Lightfoot, a painstaking and hazardous process of creating two channels in the minefields, through which the armoured forces were to advance.


The British then established a forward line from where the Axis forces would be engaged and worn down. This battle of attrition, euphemistically termed ‘crumbling’ by Montgomery, involved brutal close-quarter fighting in which the soldiers were tested in a maelstrom of heat, noise and horror.

While they were able to beat off Axis counter-attacks, British efforts were hampered as their tanks were held up in the congested minefield corridors and suffered punishing losses from enemy anti-tank guns.


Despite the difficulties, Montgomery held his nerve. He pressed home the attrition of the enemy forces and launching a diversionary attack to draw in scarce Axis reserves. He then paused and regrouped before launching his final attack, codenamed Operation Supercharge, on the night of November 1st-2nd. After several more days of severe fighting the British achieved a decisive breakthrough on November 4th.

While the British captured the bulk of the Axis infantry, Montgomery’s caution allowed the motorised portion to escape and live to fight another day. Nevertheless, the British had won a remarkable victory and Montgomery began pursuing his beaten foe back into Libya and Tunisia.

Second Battle of El Alamein: General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel begins a retreat of his forces after a costly defeat on November 04, 1942

The Consequences

El Alamein was the first clear-cut and irreversible victory inflicted by the British Army upon the Axis. Coming after years of frustrating setbacks, this was a boost to British morale. Victory proved that the problems that had plagued the Army for years had at last been overcome and that its equipment, tactics, generalship and fighting spirit were a match for the Axis.

For Churchill, the victory was vital for re-establishing British prestige before America reduced Britain to the role of junior partner in the western alliance. This was why he had been so anxious to instigate the battle before Operation Torch, the Allied landings on the coast of Algeria and Morocco, began.


The landings began on November 8th and forced the Axis to fight on two fronts. With the Allies also prevailing in the naval and air wars raging in the Mediterranean, the Axis position in North Africa was now untenable.

Despite this, Hitler belatedly ordered a massive re-enforcement, which enabled the Axis to fight a defensive campaign in Tunisia into 1943. Although they fought a tenacious rearguard, the Axis forces were in an impossible position and in May were forced to surrender, with the loss of around 240,000 prisoners.

The Legacy

Aided by Churchill’s rhetoric, which extolled it as ‘the end of the beginning’ of the war, El Alamein has become enshrined in British mythology as a great strategic turning point of the war. This may be an overstatement given that North Africa was only a sideshow compared to the titanic battles waged on the Eastern and Western Fronts. However, the battle boosted national morale and became one of the most celebrated victories of the war.

Alamein also established the reputation of Montgomery. Using his talent for self-publicity, he claimed all the credit for the victory. This made him a household name and secured him prestigious commands in Italy and North-West Europe. While he was able to cement his image as a national hero, Montgomery’s conduct during the battle remains the subject of debate.

National Army Museum / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / History Channel / Imperial War Museum (Great Britain) / World War II Database / Second Battle of El Alamein: General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel begins a retreat of his forces after a costly defeat on November 04, 1942 (YouTube) video

“This Day in History”

This Day in History October 28

• 1429 Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War: Joan of Arc liberates Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier.

• 1576 Eighty Years' War: Sack of Antwerp: In Flanders, Spain captures Antwerp (after three days the city is nearly destroyed).

• 1783 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 36 is performed for the first time in Linz, Austria.

• 1847 Sir James Young Simpson, a Scottish physician, discovers the anaesthetic properties of chloroform.

• 1890 City and South London Railway: London's first deep-level tube railway opens between King William Street and Stockwell.

• 1918 World War I: The Armistice of Villa Giusti: between Italy and Austria-Hungary is implemented.

• 1921 The Saalschutz Abteilung (hall defense detachment) of the Nazi Party is renamed the Sturmabteilung (storm detachment) after a large riot in Munich.

• 1921 Japanese Prime Minister Hara Takashi is assassinated in Tokyo.

• 1922 In Egypt, British archaeologist Howard Carter and his men find the entrance to Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

• 1924 Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming becomes the first female elected as governor in the United States.

• 1939 World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the implementation of the Neutrality Act of 1939, allowing cash-and-carry purchases of weapons by belligerents.

• 1956 Hungarian Revolution: Soviet troops enter Hungary to end the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union.

• 1960 Dr. Jane Goodall observes chimpanzees creating tools, the first-ever observation in non-human animals.

• 1962 Operation Fishbowl: The United States concludes its final above-ground nuclear weapons testing series.

• 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis: A group of Iranian college students overruns the U.S. embassy in Tehran and takes 90 hostages.

• 1980 Ronald Reagan is elected the 40th President of The United States, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter.

Understanding Military Terminology: At the Marine Corps Museum: Norman Rockwell's “The War Hero”

Understanding Military Terminology

Personal Effects

(DOD) All privately owned moveable, personal property of an individual.

Also called PE.

See also Mortuary Affairs; Personal Property.

Joint Publications (JP 4-06) Mortuary Affairs

Personal Locator Beacon

An emergency device carried by individuals, to assist locating during personnel recovery.

Also called PLB.

See also Emergency locator beacon.

Joint Publications (JP 3-50) Personnel Recovery

Personal Property

Property of any kind or any interest therein, except real property, records of the United States Government, and naval vessels of the following categories: surface combatants, support ships, and submarines.

Joint Publications (JP 4-06) Mortuary Affairs

Personal Protective Equipment

The protective clothing and equipment provided to shield or isolate a person from the chemical, physical, and thermal hazards that can be encountered at a hazardous materials incident.

Also called PPE.

See also Individual Protective Equipment.

Joint Publications (JP 3-11) Operations in Chemical, Biological, Radiological

Personal Staff

Aides and staff officers handling special matters over which the commander wishes to exercise close personal control.

Joint Publications (JP 3-33) Joint Task Force Headquarters

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships - Legend of Mary Celeste”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships”

Legend of The Mary Celeste

On November 7, 1872, the 282-ton brigantine Mary Celeste set sail from New York Harbor on its way to Genoa, Italy. On board were the ship’s captain, Benjamin S. Briggs, his wife, Sarah, and their 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, along with eight crewmembers. Less than a month later, on December 5, a passing British ship called Dei Gratia spotted Mary Celeste at full sail and adrift about 400 miles east of the Azores, with no sign of the captain, his family or any of the crew. Aside from several feet of water in the hold and a missing lifeboat, the ship was undamaged and loaded with six months’ worth of food and water.

Mary Celeste had a shadowy past. Originally christened Amazon, it was given a new name after a series of mishaps (including the sudden illness and death of its first captain and a collision with another ship in the English Channel). An investigation into whether to grant payment by its insurers to the Dei Gratia’s crew for salvaging the “ghost ship” found no evidence of foul play.

Mary Celeste would sail under different owners for 12 years before its last captain deliberately ran it aground in Haiti as part of an attempted insurance fraud. In 2001, best-selling novelist and adventurer Clive Cussler claimed to have found the wreck of Mary Celeste, but later analysis of the timbers retrieved from the ship he found showed the wood was still living at least a decade after Mary Celeste sank.

Meanwhile, one of the most famous maritime mysteries in history endures: Why would an experienced captain such as Briggs, or his sailors, abandon a perfectly sound ship? Theories over the years have ranged from mutiny and pirate attack to assault by giant octopus or sea monster, while the more scientifically minded proposed an explosion caused by fumes from the 1,700 barrels of crude alcohol in the ship’s hold.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even weighed in with a short story published in 1884, in which the inhabitants of the ghost ship fell victim to an ex-slave seeking vengeance. On the less-sensationalized end, an investigation chronicled in the 2007 documentary “The True Story of the Mary Celeste” was able to offer no definite conclusion, but did suggest a scenario in which a faulty chronometer, rough seas and a clogged onboard pump could have led Briggs to order the ship abandoned shortly after sighting land on November 25, 1872. According to the last entry in the ship’s log book, made that morning, Mary Celeste was within sight of the Azores island of Santa Maria, some 500 miles from where the Dei Gratia would find it nine days later.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Smithsonian - VIDEO: The True Story of the Mary Celeste video

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Sanity is only that which is within the frame of reference of conventional thought.”

“Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.”

“The ultimate choice for a man,

in as much as he is given to transcend himself,

is to create or destroy,

to love or to hate.”

~ Erich Fromm

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“A word once uttered can never be recalled.”

“Only a stomach that rarely feels hungry scorns common things.”

“He has the deed half done who has made a beginning.”

~ Horace

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Learned”

“Never ascribe to malice what can perfectly well be explained by stupidity.”

~ Anonymous

Second Hand News

Second Hand News: Articles from Week 45 - November 02, 2020 - November 08, 2020

Top News Stories - Photos (Washington Examiner) “Mandate for Action:” Biden says he's “Not Waiting” to begin work on liberal agendaSupreme Court orders all of Pennsylvania's late arrival mail-in ballots to be set aside“Stop the Steal” vs. “Count Every Vote:” Partisans on both sides call foul

Federal judge in Pennsylvania rejects Republicans effort to throw out “CURED” or “Corrected” ballotsRepublicans say it sent whistleblower complaint to Justice Department alleging election fraud in DetroitMcConnell confident in peaceful transfer of power if Biden wins

Trump legal challenges muddy water for Biden victoryAOC calls on Lincoln Project to “Take the L”, give fundraising to “Grassroots Organizers”In the shadow of the presidential election, Republican women made historic gains in the House

MOST READ: Fox Business host Lou Dobbs explodes while interviewing White House Spy Chief Richard Grenell about legal fight over election resultsRepublicans demand Michigan vote count checks after glitch falsely gives county to BidenRepublicans send criminal referral to Justice Department about alleged voter fraud in Nevada Washington Examiner

Top News Stories - Photos (The Federalist) “American Hustle:” Party Insiders Tell The True Story Of How Philadelphia Elections WorIn Arizona, Trump’s Chances Fade But Don’t Disappear As Protests ContinueFirst-Hand Account Of Election Fraud In Detroit: “They Did Not Want Us To See What Was Happening”

Dismantling Democratic Socialism, One Entertaining Argument At A TimeNevada Records Show Deceased Voter Rose From The Grave To Cast Mail-In BallotThe Latest “Mandalorian” Is A Star Wars Horror Movie

MOST READ: Software Glitch In Michigan County Tallied 6,000 Republican Votes As DemocratWe’re Supposed To Believe The Republicans Had A Great Election Night Except For President?Yes, Democrats Are Trying To Steal The Election In Michigan, Wisconsin, And Pennsylvania

Reports Of Election Fraud Keep Piling Up In Michigan. What’s Going On?New Lawsuit Alleges Pennsylvania Democrats Broke Election LawsBiden’s Performance In Milwaukee County Raises Questions About Wisconsin Votes The Federalist

Top News Stories - Photos (CORRUPTION CHRONICLES - Mainstream Media Scream: (Watch Dog On-Line Publications) CORRUPTION CHRONICLES: “Counting Ballots That Arrive AFTER Election Day Contradicts Federal Law!”

“Investigating the Investigators:” Federal Court Hearing Today in Judicial Watch Lawsuit for Andrew McCabe Emails and Text MessagesThe New Biden-Burisma Documents

MS-13 Updates, A Republic Under Assault, & Biden’s Unmasking Requests

Judicial Watch Sues for Unmasking Records: Biden, Top Obama Officials ‘Unmasked’ General Flynn Judicial Watch

CNN Ogles at ‘Big’, ‘Optimistic’, ‘Presidential’, ‘Soaring’ Biden Speech ‘About America’WATCH: Parade of Delusional Liberal 'Landslide' Talk

Too Bad, So Sad: MSNBC's Disgraced Brian Williams, ex-Republican Steve Schmidt Fret 'Trumpism' Will Outlast TrumpIllustrious CNN Charlatans Think Another Media Outlet Isn't Real News

CNN: We Must Celebrate History-Making 'Remarkable Moment' of Biden/Harris WinningObnoxious - Brazen: MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski Gloats Over Network Censorship of TrumpBig Three Morning Nets CENSOR Huge Job Gains, Big Drop in Unemployment

Why Is Election Day a Tuesday in November? Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Is Election Day a Tuesday in November?

The Real Reason We Vote on a Tuesday in November

It's a 174-year-old tradition that starts with drunks and farmers. But is it worth keeping?

Imagine: It’s Election Day, 1840, and your whole family is on a wagon. Pa looks like a proper country gentleman in his best and only suit; Ma has donned her finest dress (though she will not get a chance to cast a ballot in her lifetime). You and your siblings giggle as the wagon bounces toward a cheering mob of drunk, top-hatted men gathered in argument around the county seat. After a mere ten hours of horse-drawn travel, it’s time to see democracy in action.

Why Is Election Day a Tuesday in November?

Elections used to look a lot different in America. In a nation where many eligible voters (see: land-owning men) lived on distant country farms accessible only by tedious horse and buggy rides, a federal election was as much a social opportunity as a democratic privilege. A family taking the long ride to the county seat knew they would run into friends there. People dressed to impress. Parades paraded. Men, often coerced to vote with free booze, celebrated Election Day as a public holiday. Voting was, in a word, awesome.

But it was also chaos. Between 1788 and 1845, states pretty much decided their own voting dates, leading to a “crazy quilt of elections” at all times of the year in different parts of the county, Senate Historian Don Ritchie told NPR. When Congress finally decided to pick a single day on which to hold all presidential elections in 1845, they kept the average farmer’s long, horse-drawn commute in mind. Find out the bizarre things the government actually has the power to do.

November was an ideal month, as the harvest would be complete and the harshest winter storms yet to descend. So, why Tuesday? Assuming it took the average family a day to travel from the farmstead to the county seat, a day to vote (and possibly party), and a day to return home, Congress knew their Election Day needed to account for three days of lost work. Sunday was the Sabbath, so that knocked Saturday and Monday off the list right away. Wednesday, typically, was market day - and if you’re a 19th-century farmer, you can’t afford to miss market day. Congress, therefore, settled on Tuesday - the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November - to give agrarian families ample time to make it to the polls and back between the Sabbath and market day. And that is why, to this day, we vote on Tuesday.

Odd as it sounds, the Tuesday system worked great for our farmer ancestors. In 1848, the first federal election that took place on the same day in every state, 72.7 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. By 1860, 81.2 percent of voters voted - the second-highest turnout ever.

Why Is Election Day a Tuesday in November?

Today is a different story. Over 170 years after Tuesday became the official Election Day, America remains tied to an antiquated system that many believe is responsible for chronically low voter turnout. Results from the 2012 presidential elections, in which an estimated 57.5 percent of eligible Americans voted, don’t paint a pretty picture. The 2016 turnout wasn’t all that different either—an estimated 55 percent of eligible voters turned out to the polls. One popular explanation for the dismal numbers is simple timing: people have trouble getting to the polls in the middle of a weekday.

“If you’re a single mother or father, student with long hours or someone—like so many Americans—with two or more jobs, you’re going to have a hard time voting in the 14 states which have in-person Tuesday voting as the only option”, writes Why Tuesday, a nonprofit aimed at driving voter turnout. “U.S. Census data has long indicated the #1 reason voters gave for not making it out to the polls was ‘too busy/couldn’t get time off to vote’. In 2010, 27 percent of nonvoters gave this answer”. This archival essay shows us that democracy “demands change”.

One solution? Officially move Election Day to the weekend, like many democratic nations with higher voter turnout than America already have. A change to our voting tradition would be disruptive, but not impossible.

In the meantime, what can be done to improve voter turnout in America?

Rock the Vote has a list of ways you can help, but the bottom line is this: on November 5th, go vote. It’s what your drunk, horse-riding ancestors would have wanted.

Here are some of the answers to political questions you’re too embarrassed to ask.

Readers Digest / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Pew Research.org / Mental Floss / Quora / USA.gov / History Channel / Why Is Election Day a Tuesday in November? (YouTube) video

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Poopsick: Anything undesirable, specifically feeling seasick.

Poopysuit: Blue overalls worn when deployed out to sea. May also refer to the anti-exposure suits used by aircrews in the case of a water landing in cold environments.

The Pond: The Deep Blue Sea. Where deep-water sailors ply their craft, “The Pond” may be Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, or Other. Used in slang expressions such as “Talk to me when you've got some Time On The Pond.”

PQS: Personnel Qualification Standards, a card carrying various qualifications for a warfare badge or similar. Must be signed off by a superior or expert.

Porcupine Balls: Beef Porcupines. A.K.A. Nairobi trail markers.


Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Poncho Liner: Insulating blanket used to warm the individual wearing a rain poncho, often used as a stand-alone blanket.

Pop Smoke: To leave quickly or hastily; from the method of throwing a smoke grenade to mark a landing zone or conceal a retreat.


Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HM-12 Helicopter Mine Countermeasures (HM) Squadron ONE TWO - nicknamed the “Sea Dragons”

United States Navy Naval Air Station - Sea Dragon is Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia / Squadron Lineage: HM-12 (Second use): October 1, 2015 - present.

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me:

Meaning: 'Sticks and stones may break my bones' is a response to an insult, implying that “You might be hurt able to hurt me by physical force but not by insults”.

History: 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me' is a stock response to verbal bullying in school playgrounds throughout the English-speaking world. It sounds a little antiquated these days and has no doubt been superseded by more streetwise comebacks.

The earliest citation can be found from Alexander William Kinglake in his Eothen (written 1830, published in London, John Ollivier, 1844):

“golden sticks and stones”.

It is reported to have appeared in The Christian Recorder of March 1862, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where it is presented as an “old adage” in this form:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.”

The phrase also appeared in 1872, where it is presented as advice in Tappy's Chicks: and Other Links Between Nature and Human Nature, by Mrs. George Cupples.[2] The version used in that work runs:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones

But names will never harm me.”

A version was featured in The Who's 1981 song, “The Quiet Onevideo, in which the vocals were performed by bassist John Entwistle, where he mentioned this term from another source he picked up and sang this term twice where he changed “your” from the first set to “my” in the second set.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones

But names will never harm me.”

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Tree rings could pin down Thera volcano eruption dateProjecting the outcomes of people's lives with AI isn't so simpleEnergy-harvesting design aims to turn Wi-Fi signals into usable powerAstronomers observe high-redshift quasar PSO J006.1240+39.2219 with Subaru telescopeAn optically driven digital metasurface to bridge visible light and microwave communications Phys.org / MedicalXpress / TechXplore

NASA officials outline plans for building a Lunar Gateway in the mid-2020sCourt: Violating a site’s terms of service isn’t criminal hackingyInsert Coin, the arcade documentary worth feeding all your quarters into The year of Mario: A ton of classic 3D games reportedly coming to Switch in 2020Galaxy S20 Ultra Review - Overhyped and outrageously priced ARS Technica

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)

Mercury's scorching daytime heat may help it make its own ice at caps

Mercury's scorching daytime heat may help it make its own ice at caps

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

Summary: Despite Mercury's 400-degree Celsius daytime heat, there is ice at its caps. And now a study shows how that Vulcan scorch probably helps the planet closest to the sun make some of that ice.

As with Earth, asteroids delivered most of Mercury's water, the scientific consensus holds. But the extreme daytime heat could be combining with the minus 200-degree Celsius cold in nooks of polar craters that never see sunlight to act as a gigantic ice-making chemistry lab, say researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The chemistry is not too complicated. But the new study models it onto complex conditions on Mercury, including solar winds that pelt the planet with charged particles, many of which are protons key to that chemistry. The model presents a feasible path for water to arise and collect as ice on a planet rife with all the necessary components.

“This is not some strange, out of left field idea. The basic chemical mechanism has been observed dozens of times in studies since the late 1960s”, said Brant Jones, a researcher in Georgia Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the paper's first author. “But that was on well-defined surfaces. Applying that chemistry to complicated surfaces like those on a planet is groundbreaking research.”

Hot, simple chemistry

Minerals in Mercury's surface soil contain what are called hydroxyl groups (OH), which are generated mainly by the protons. In the model, the extreme heat helps to free up the hydroxyl groups then energizes them to smash into each other to produce water molecules and hydrogen that lift off from the surface and drift around the planet.

Some water molecules are broken down by sunlight or rise far above the planet's surface, but other molecules land near Mercury's poles in permanent shadows of craters that shield the ice from the sun. Mercury does not have an atmosphere and thus no air that would conduct heat, so the molecules become a part of the permanent glacial ice housed in the shadows.

“It's a little like the song Hotel California. The water molecules can check in to the shadows but they can never leave”, said Thomas Orlando, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the study's principal investigator. Orlando co-founded the Georgia Tech Center for Space Technology and Research.

The total amount that we postulate that would become ice is 1013 kilograms (10,000,000,000,000 kg or 11,023,110,000 tons) over a period of about 3 million years”, Jones said. “The process could easily account for up to 10 percent of Mercury's total ice.”

The researchers published their results in Astrophysical Journal Letters on Monday, March 16, 2020. The research was funded by the NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) program and the NASA Planetary Atmospheres program.

Mercury's scorching daytime heat may help it make its own ice at caps

Spacecraft confirms ice

In 2011, a NASA probe began orbiting Mercury and confirmed signals typical of glacial ice near the poles. The MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft sent back images and data that corroborated previous signatures for ice picked up years earlier by Earth-based radar.

Humans have found faint signs of possible ice on the moon but have found ice with near absolute certainty and in comparative abundance on Mercury. That has triggered some head-scratching: If asteroids, comets, and meteorites pummeled Mercury and the moon with water, what accounts for the difference in ice present? Did Mercury receive some water in a way that wouldn't work on the moon?

“The process in our model would not be anywhere near as productive on the moon. For one, there's not enough heat to significantly activate the chemistry”, Jones said.

In a separate project, Orlando's lab is engineering a system based on the same chemistry to create water on the moon for future astronaut stations to be located there.

'Big magnetic tornados'

Protons from solar winds are more plentiful on Mercury than on Earth, where a mighty magnetic field whips solar wind particles, including protons, back out into space. Mercury's field is only about 1 percent as strong, and it swirls protons down onto the surface.

“These are like big magnetic tornados, and they cause huge proton migrations across most of the surface of Mercury over time”, Orlando said.

The protons implant themselves into the soil all over the planet about 10 nanometers deep, forming in the minerals the hydroxyl groups (OH), which diffuse to the surface, where the heat does the rest.

“I would concede that plenty of the water on Mercury was delivered by impacting asteroids”, Jones said. “But there's also the question of where asteroids laden with water got that water. Processes like these could have helped make it.”

“A comet or asteroid actually doesn't need to carry water because the collision alone with a planet or moon can also make water”, Orlando said. “Mercury and the moon are always being hit by small meteoroids, so this is happening all the time.”

Science Daily (03/13/2020) video

Second Hand News

Second Hand News: Articles from Week 45 - November 02, 2020 - November 08, 2020

Top News Stories - Photos (Daily Mail) Joe Biden says he's on his way to a “Clear Win” and says the American people have given him a “Mandate” while defiant President Trump re-tweets voter fraudTrump claims his lead over Biden “Miraculously” disappeared as he retweets mail-in ballots and late votes being “Counted” during the VP's speech

Joe's secret weapon! Troubled son Hunter Biden's daughter Finnegan, 20, was a fixture on the campaign trail (even if grandpa did seem to think she was his dead son Beau) - now what role will she play in White House?Why are we STILL waiting? Protesters gather in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada where thousands of votes are left to count as the election fiasco enters day FIVE (but the party's already started in New York)

Andrew Yang tears into the Democrats for becoming a party of 'Urban Coastal Elites' who have abandoned the working class and are more concerned with 'Policing Cultural Issues' after their dismal resultsTucker Carlson says Joe Biden is Nnon-threatening Hologram', calls Kamala an 'Advertising Gimmick' and warns the Democrats seek 'Absolute Sameness' and will turn the U.S. into an 'Oligarchy'

REVEALED: Female anti-Trump protester, 24, who spat in a cop's face in NYC and shouted 'f*** you fascist' was an intern for high-ranking Democratic Congressman Jerry NadlerTrump finds his James Baker: Conservative campaigner David Bossie - once cast out of president's circle over claims he was running a scam PAC - returns as RNC tries to raise $60 million to fight in courts

COVID is found in minks in America, Spain and Italy: SIX countries report outbreaks linked to fur farms amid fears mutant strain could hamper vaccineJeopardy! winner tears up while thanking host Alex Trebek and reveals he learned English by watching the show as a child Daily Mail

Top News Stories - Photos (CORRUPTION CHRONICLES - Mainstream Media Scream: (Watch Dog On-Line Publications) Election 2020: The Message Versus The MessengerElection 2020 Legal Challenges: Everything You Need To Know

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“Time of the Season” - The Zombies 1968

“Time of the Season” video - The Zombies
Album: Odessey And Oracle
Released 1968

Built around the bassline heard in the intro, “Time of the Seasonvideo has some very effective and unusual structural components that helped it endure. The bass riff is punctuated with a hand clap and the breathy “ahhhh” vocal. These elements add sonic texture during the verses, and also show up in the two interludes.

And while most hit songs pound you with the chorus, this one doesn't. The full chorus -

“It's the time of the season for loving...” takes just eight seconds and is repeated three times. That's just 24 seconds of chorus, but this minimalist approach gave the line tremendous impact, resonating with listeners at a time of social and political turmoil in America.

The band broke up in late 1967, shortly after recording the album. When the album was released in April 1968, it sold poorly, stalling on the U.S. charts at #95 and making no impact in their native UK. The “Time of the Seasonvideo single, however, became a huge hit in America even though the group had disbanded and couldn't support it. It sold over a million copies, peaking at #3 on March 29, 1969.

With their newfound American success, band members Rod Argent, Paul Atkinson and Hugh Grundy got the band back together, minus lead singer Colin Blunstone. This reunion was short lived, and by the end of 1969 The Zombies were once again dead. Blunstone went on to have a successful solo career, including a #15 UK hit in 1972 “Say You Don't Mindvideo, and was the guest vocalist on Dave Stewart's (not the Eurythmics's Dave Stewart) 1981 UK #13 cover of “What Becomes Of The Broken Heartedvideo. Rod Argent formed the band Argent, which had a hit with “Hold Your Head Upvideo in 1972.

The Zombies keyboard player Rod Argent wrote this song. He said in The Guardian February 22, 2008:

“'Time of the Season' video was the last thing to be written (for the album). I remember thinking it sounded very commercial. One of my favorite records was George Gershwin's 'Summertime' video; we used to do a version of it when we started out. The words in the verse - 'What's your name? Who's your daddy? Is he rich like me?' - were an affectionate nod in that direction.”

Argent added:

“The album title's slightly high-flown, isn't it? As is the quote from The Tempest on the back. It was a very flowery time in all sorts of ways. Me and Chris (Chris White bassist and co-songwriter) shared a flat with a guy called Terry Quirk who was a very talented artist and he came up with this beautiful, florid cover that we adored. We didn't notice that the word odyssey was spelt wrongly, to our eternal embarrassment. For years I used to say, 'Oh that was intentional. It was a play on the word ode.' But I'm afraid it wasn't.”

The famous lyrics,:

“What's your name, who's your daddy, is he rich like me?” are a nod to the Gershwin standard “Summertimevideo, which The Zombies released on their first album. That song contains the lyrics, “Your daddy's rich and your mama's good looking.”

The theme of “Seasons” was a concept on the album Odessey And Oracle. Albums were very popular in the late '60s, so artists could put songs together that meant something when played in a certain order.

In Word magazine January 2008, the vocalist Colin Blunstone was asked whether the word 'Odessey' in the album title was deliberately spelled wrong. Blunstone replied:

Rod (Argent) told this story for nearly 40 years of how it was deliberate and a play on the word 'ode,' hence 'odessey' when it should be spelled 'odyssey.' So I was astounded as anyone when he finally admitted about a year ago that it had been a simple spelling mistake. Too late to change by the time anyone noticed it. A bit embarrassing, but it's history now.”

The recording of this song bought about a minor spat between keyboardist Rod Argent, who wrote the song, and the vocalist Colin Blunstone.

The argument was over the phrase, “When love runs high”. Blunstone struggled with the high note at the end of the line, and snapped at Argent, “If you're so good you come and sing it.” Argent admitted in Mojo magazine February 2008:

“It was written really quickly and we didn't rehearse it an awful lot. I was trying to change the phrasing.”

Blunstone told his side in a Songfacts 2015 interview:

“It was written in the morning before we went into the studio in the afternoon, and I kind of struggled on the melody”, he said. “Rod and I had quite a heated discussion - he being in the control room and me singing the song - and we were just doing it through my headphones. Because it had only just been written, I was struggling with the melody.”

“It makes me laugh, because at the same time I'm singing, 'It's the time of the season for loving,' we're really going at one another.”

Rod Argent's organ sections take up about 90 seconds of this song's 3:22 running time. Most songs of the era that devoted so much of their time to organ riffs were much longer compositions like “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidavideo by Iron Butterfly and “A Whiter Shade Of Palevideo by Procol Harum.

This song has been sampled or interpolated on tracks by a number of artists, who sometimes use vast swaths of the song as the basis for their tracks - it's the base for the 2009 Melanie Fiona hit “Give It To Me Right” and “Don't Look Backvideo by Miguel.

Surprisingly, this song never charted in the UK, although it is widely known there. In our 2015 interview with Rod Argent, he said:

“'Time of the Season' video was the #1 in most countries in the world, but it wasn't in the UK. It's been released three times in the UK, and it's never been a hit. But the extraordinary thing is that everybody knows it in the UK. We played Glastonbury this year, and we had a big audience of the young kids who went completely mad when we played 'Time of the Season' video. So, it has become, strangely enough, a classic in the UK, but it's never been a hit.”

The Zombies official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / The Zombies

Image: “Odessey And Oracle (album)” by The Zombies

“The Way I Feel Inside” - The Zombies 1965

“The Way I Feel Inside” video - The Zombies
Album: Begin Here
Released 1965

The Way I Feel Insidevideo Written by The Zombies keyboardist/vocalist Rod Argent while The Zombies were on tour in 1964. Bandmate Chris White remembers:

Rod wrote one of the songs on the toilet on the Isley Brothers tour, and I think it was 'The Way I Feel Inside', ironically enough! He was late for the bus; it was always 'You have to be on time for the bus' on that tour.”

An early version of this a capella number featured a full band, but it was scrapped in favor of Colin Blunstone's lone voice, heightened by the sounds of footsteps and a tossed coin (which can only be heard on the mono recording).

The Zombies official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / The Zombies

Image: “Begin Here (album)” by The Zombies



● Laliophobia is the fear of what?

Answer to Trivia

● What are the two highest valued letters in Scrabble?

Answer to Trivia

● What South American country is home to more species of primates, amphibians, and plants than any other in the world?

Answer to Trivia

● Which planet has a year that lasts 88 days?

Answer to Trivia


A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FAMILIAR PHRASES” ($200)

“Someone angry about a past event might be balancing a 'chip' here.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Phrases.org.UK

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FAMILIAR PHRASES” ($400)

“Plans may not work out, so 'don't' practice this act of poultry accounting.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Phrases.org.UK

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FAMILIAR PHRASES” ($600)

“To 'throw someone under' this vehicle is to make him a scapegoat.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Phrases.org.UK

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FAMILIAR PHRASES” ($800)

“Trying again after a failure is going 'back to' this, a synonym for drafting table or an item on a drafting table.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Phrases.org.UK

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FAMILIAR PHRASES” ($1,000)

“A possible origin for 'living' this way is that upper cuts of pork are more a luxury item than the feet.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Phrases.org.UK

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FRENCH OFF THE BOAT” ($200)

“In 1920 a ship brought this 10-year-old future ocean explorer & family from France to New York City for a 2-year stay.”

● Answer: Jacques Cousteau. Famous Scientists.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FRENCH OFF THE BOAT” ($400)


“By 1809 this man & his brother Pierre had arrived in New Orleans & set up a blacksmith shop; piracy paid better, so...”

● Answer: (Jean) Lafitte. Battle Fields.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FRENCH OFF THE BOAT” ($600)

“A few years after sailing here on the American Eagle, Irenee Du Pont opened a gunpowder mill in this state.”

● Answer: Triple Stumper, Delaware (E.I. du Pont set up the Eleutherian gunpowder mill on the Brandywine Creek just north of Wilmington, Delaware). Hagley.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FRENCH OFF THE BOAT” ($800)

“This future city planner was only 22 when he arrived on the Amphitrite to serve as an engineer in the revolution.”

● Answer: L'Enfant. Smithsonian

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FRENCH OFF THE BOAT” ($1,000)

“The wreck of Captain Ribaut's flagship Trinité is still off Florida, a relic of France's first New World outpost at this fort.”

● Answer: Triple Stumper, Fort Caroline. Ocean Explorer NOAA.gov

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“Talking Centipede $100”

A guy sees an advertisement in a pet-shop window: “Talking Centipede $100”.

The guy goes in and buys it. He gets home, opens the box and asks the centipede if he wants to go for a beer.

The centipede doesn't answer, so the guy closes the lid, convinced he's been swindled.

Thirty minutes later he decides to try again.

He raises his voice and shouts, “Do you want to go for a beer?”

The centipede pokes his head out of the box and says, “Pipe down! I heard you the first time. I'm putting on my shoes!”

Darwin Award of the Week

Darwin Award of the Week

Anderson Cooper calls Twitter “Clitter” on CNN

Anderson Cooper calls Twitter “Clitter” on CNN

Anderson Cooper needs a dose of whatever John King is taking.

The famed CNN host had a slip of the tongue while anchoring the network’s election coverage Wednesday afternoon when he accidentally called Twitter “Clitter”, a clip of the mishap shows.

“The president overnight basically declaring victory, claiming that fraud was being committed and making false statements on Clitter, uh, excuse me, on Twitter”, Cooper said in reference to President Trump’s premature declaration of victory and tweets about election fraud.

The gaffe stood in stark contrast to King’s resilient, around-the-clock coverage in which he’s been a near-omnipresent figure on CNN since polls started to close late Tuesday, to the delight of viewers across the country.

Still, Twitter denizens relished Cooper’s gaffe and were grateful for something to laugh about while they anxiously awaited news of who will be the next president of the United States.

“Anderson Cooper just referred to Twitter as ‘Clitter’. Even in darkness, small moments of joy”, Barry Malone, executive producer of AJ Stream, wrote.

Other Twitter users took a naughtier interpretation.

“False statements on clitter’ - sounds like my teenage years”, wrote Edward af Sillén.

“Yes, the new dating app for power lesbians who don’t have time for pleasantries, Clitter”, quipped Noah Cassiel.

“When he can’t find the clitter”, wrote Ana Valens, the Not Safe For Work reporter for the Daily Dot, with an eyeroll emoji.

... Cooper has yet to address the mistake on his own Twitter account.

New York Post - Gabrielle Fonrouge