Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 48, 2020

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American Indian Wars: Troops Attack a Cheyenne Village on the Red Fork of Powder River on November 25, 1876 (Daughters of Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife 1876)

American Indian Wars: Troops Attack a Cheyenne Village on the Red Fork of Powder River on November 25, 1876

American Indian Wars: Troops Attack a Cheyenne Village on the Red Fork of Powder River: In retaliation for the American defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, United States Army troops sack the sleeping village of Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife at the headwaters of the Powder River.

In 1874, after 20 years of bitter, intermittent warfare between the U.S. Army and the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux tribes, the U.S. government sent Lt. Col. George Custer and 1,000 troops into the Black Hills of Dakota Territory to look for gold. They found it, and the already testy relationship between the U.S. government and the tribes changed quickly for the worse - as quickly as a gold miner could grab his pan.

Beginning then and continuing throughout 1875, prospectors flocked to the hills in such numbers that conflict with the Northern Cheyenne and Lakota became unavoidable. In an effort to control the situation, the government took action to round up the “northern roamers” - tribespeople who up to that point had still not moved to the reservations in Nebraska and Dakota territories. That campaign led to Custer’s death and the deaths of 210 of his men in southern Montana Territory at the Little Bighorn River, June 25, 1876.

After the battle, the large camp that Custer had attacked - around 8,000 Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho people - moved south, then east, and eventually disbanded. The Cheyenne traveled with Crazy Horse and his Oglala Lakota for nearly a month before leaving them and heading southwest, traveling along the western foothills of the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming Territory.

This was the main camp of the Northern Cheyenne; their numbers have been estimated between 900 and 1,200. In November, they moved east over the Bighorns and raised 173 lodges at the place they called Willow Creek, since better known as the Red Fork of Powder River, about 20 miles west of present-day Kaycee, Wyoming.

Here, two days later, on November 25, 1876 - five months to the day after Custer’s defeat - U.S. troops found them and burned their village to the ground. This little-known battle, referred to as the Dull Knife Fight or the Red Fork Battle, impacted the Cheyenne people during the Indian Wars even more than did the Little Bighorn fight.

Though the Dull Knife Fight is the most common name used for this encounter, Little Wolf was by this time the primary leader in the Cheyenne camp. Dull Knife was a much loved and respected older leader who impressed government officials with statesmanlike qualities during their early dealings with the tribe. Later he was a key figure in the Fort Robinson Breakout in Nebraska in 1879. Dull Knife’s Cheyenne name was Morning Star; the name Dull Knife was given him by Lakota relatives.

On this excursion, General George Crook had set his sights on locating the camp of Crazy Horse, the recalcitrant Oglala Lakota war leader. As a result of his leadership at the Little Bighorn and at a fight a week earlier with Crook’s command on Rosebud Creek, Crazy Horse had recently come to the government’s attention as a prime figure in the Native resistance.

American Indian Wars: Troops Attack a Cheyenne Village on the Red Fork of Powder River on November 25, 1876 (Cheyenne leaders Little Wolf, left, and Dull Knife, called Morning Star by his own people - Both were in the village on the Red Fork of Powder River when troops attacked in November 1876)

Crook used Indian spies and scouts to gather intelligence on the locations and plans of their kinsmen. As the troops moved north through the Powder River Basin, they camped beside Crazy Woman Creek, a Powder River tributary well north of present Kaycee and east of the Bighorn Mountains. Crook’s scouts captured a young Cheyenne, who under questioning revealed that the main camp of the Northern Cheyenne was secluded on the Red Fork of the Powder River, called by the tribes Willow Creek, about a two-day ride to the southwest.

Another Cheyenne, a spy who had arrived from the Lakota camps in the north, told Crook that Crazy Horse had no doubt heard soldiers were in the area and would certainly move his camp farther north, away from the encroaching danger.

Seizing this opportunity, Crook changed his objective and sent more than half his troops, under the command of Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie, into the Bighorn Mountains in search of the Cheyenne village. Mackenzie’s force consisted of 700 men in 11 companies of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th cavalry regiments. Augmenting these troops were more than 400 Indian scouts, including about 150 Lakota and Arapaho, more than 100 Pawnee and roughly the same number of Shoshone.

While all the scouts were promised a share in any horses captured in the maneuver, the Pawnee and Shoshone relished the added incentive of striking one last blow against their traditional enemies. Mackenzie’s scouts also included nine worried Northern Cheyenne - who knew they might soon be asked to fight against their own tribesmen.

From their own scouts, the Cheyenne in the village knew that soldiers were moving through the Powder River Basin. Many wanted to break camp right away and head north to rejoin Crazy Horse.

Most of the Council of Forty-Four, the tribe’s governing body, was in the village at the time. This included Little Wolf, Dull Knife and Old Bear, three of the four Old Man chiefs - Peace chiefs they were sometimes called - and most of the Council itself, comprised of four representatives from each of the ten Cheyenne bands. This body served to oversee most traditional and day-to-day activities, especially during large gatherings of the tribe.

American Indian Wars: Troops Attack a Cheyenne Village on the Red Fork of Powder River on November 25, 1876 (Crazy Horse (Tashunkewitko) - in 1877, he lived barely thirty-three years)

Last Bull, head chief of the Kit Fox military society, which normally took direction from the Council, as did all the Cheyenne military societies, felt it was not necessary to leave, and declared a type of Cheyenne martial law. He ordered his warriors to cut the saddle and travois cinches on the horses of anyone who tried to leave camp and called for a scalp dance to celebrate his society’s recent victory over a small Shoshone village. He intended to fight the soldiers if they came.

The following morning, as the scalp dance concluded, Mackenzie’s troops - who had scrabbled their way through a treacherous maze of creeks and crevasses in the dark of night - attacked the village from the east end of the valley.

Mackenzie’s plan to quickly surround the village and isolate the horse herd was foiled when a herd sentry shot at Lakota scouts who bolted ahead of the main body of soldiers. The scouts returned fire and, in the vernacular of the day, this exchange of gunfire “opened the ball”.

Alerted to the cavalry’s charge, Cheyenne women, children and old people fled to the hills west and north of camp as their men rushed to defend the village and to give their loved ones more time to escape. The fighting was brief, but intense. The Shoshone scouts climbed a high bluff south of camp and laid down a heavy barrage of rifle fire, immediately gaining control of all activity in the village.

In their haste to escape, many of the camp’s inhabitants ran north across the creek and into deep, twisting trenches that were eroded by runoff from the high canyon wall further north. Seeing this, Mackenzie sent a detachment that included Lt. John McKinney to intercept them. The result was the most heated confrontation of the entire assault, when Walking Whirlwind and several other Cheyenne men rose suddenly from a steep-sided gully where they had been concealed, firing almost point-blank into the advancing cavalrymen and stopping the charge. McKinney was killed, as were Walking Whirlwind and several Cheyenne.

While the Cheyenne managed to save their two most powerful medicine bundles - the Four Sacred Arrows and the Sacred Buffalo Hat, the early morning assault caught many people in bed, forcing them to flee into the mountains wearing little or nothing. In addition to their clothing, all their lodges and winter stores as well as weapons, cooking utensils and other essentials, including most of the horse herd were left behind.

American Indian Wars: Troops Attack a Cheyenne Village on the Red Fork of Powder River on November 25, 1876 (Crazy Horse Memorial)

Historical and culturally significant items, such as winter counts, which recorded significant events of each past year, unique items such as a sacred ear of corn with great healing properties, shields, pipes, ceremonial dresses, and countless other heirlooms, all fell into the hands of Mackenzie’s men, or were burned along with the lodges. Much of traditional Cheyenne culture was lost as a result.

The pillaging soldiers were infuriated to find, mixed among the Cheyenne belongings, military trappings and personal effects of dead troops of the 7th Cavalry - taken after Custer’s ill-fated attack on the combined Cheyenne and Lakota camp the summer before.

Army casualties included McKinney and six enlisted men killed with twenty-two wounded. The Cheyenne estimated that they lost forty of their people, with twice as many wounded. However, consequences of the attack continued for them long after the shooting stopped.

That night, the Cheyenne headed north, over the canyon wall and into frigid mountain heights. The image of their homes being burned in the valley behind them haunted their steps, while in front of them, a November blizzard rolled toward them across the range. Eleven babies froze to death that first night.

It took them almost a week to exit the mountains, and nearly two weeks to find the camp of Crazy Horse, located near the east fork of Otter Creek in southeastern Montana Territory, a distance of nearly 150 miles from the battle site. The pitiful state of the Cheyenne filled their Lakota friends and relatives with fear. To see the Cheyenne so impoverished and badly beaten convinced many of the Lakota that their families could not risk the same fate.

While traveling with the Lakota camp, the Cheyenne in January took part in a subsequent battle, this one with troops under Gen. Nelson Miles, on Tongue River near present-day Birney, Montana. The fight ended in a draw and served only to support the growing resolve that the dream of driving the white man from their homeland was futile. By late spring 1877, the Northern Cheyenne and even Crazy Horse’s people had all surrendered.

Wyoming State Historical Society.org / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Wyoming.gov / Oklahoma Historical Society.org / History Channel / American Indian Wars: Troops Attack a Cheyenne Village on the Red Fork of Powder River on November 25, 1876 (YouTube) video

“This Day in History”

This Day in History November 25

• 1491 Siege of Granada: Treaty of Granada: Ends the last Moorish stronghold in Spain.

• 1667 Shamakhi earthquake: A deadly earthquake rocks Shemakha in the Caucasus, killing 80,000 people.

• 1758 French and Indian War: British forces capture Fort Duquesne from French control. Later, Fort Pitt will be built nearby and grow into modern Pittsburgh.

• 1759 Near East earthquakes: An earthquake hits the Mediterranean destroying Beirut and Damascus and killing 30,000 - 40,000.

• 1783 American Revolutionary War: The last British troops leave New York City three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

• 1795 Partitions of Poland: Stanisław August Poniatowski the last king of independent Poland, is forced to abdicate and is exiled to Russia.

• 1833 Sumatra earthquake: A massive undersea earthquake, estimated magnitude between 8.7-9.2, rocks Sumatra, producing a massive tsunami all along the Indonesian coast - no reliable records of the loss of life.

• 1839 A cyclone slams into south-eastern India, with high winds and a 40-foot storm surge destroying the port city of Coringa, taking 20,000 ships and an estimated 300,000 deaths resulted from the disaster.

• 1864 American Civil War: Battle of Missionary Ridge: Siege of Chattanooga: Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant rout Confederate troops under General Braxton Bragg.

• 1915 Albert Einstein presents the field equations of general relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences.

• 1936 Anti-Comintern Pact: In Berlin, Germany and Japan sign a Pact, agreeing to consult on measures “to safeguard their common interests” in the case of an unprovoked attack by the Soviet Union against either nation.

• 1872 Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women are arrested for voting illegally in the United States presidential election of 1872.

• 1940 World War II: First flights of both the de Havilland Mosquito and Martin B-26 Marauder.

• 1952 Korean War: Battle of Triangle Hill: ends with Chinese victory, American and South Korean units abandon their attempt to capture the “Iron Triangle”.

• 1963 President John F. Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

• 1987 Typhoon Nina: pummels the Philippines with category 5 winds of 165 mph and a surge - at least 1,036 deaths are attributed to the storm.

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

Understanding Military Terminology

Personnel Effects Inventory Officer

(DOD) An officer appointed to establish clear chain of custody for all personal effects of an individual from the time they establish control of the effects until they release the effect to mortuary affairs personnel.

Also called PEIO.

Joint Publications (JP 4-06) Mortuary Affairs

Personnel Increment Number

A seven-character, alphanumeric field that uniquely describes a non-unit-related personnel entry (line) in a Joint Operation Planning and Execution System time-phased force and deployment data.

Also called PIN.

Joint Publications (JP 5-0) Joint Planning

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships - Legend of København”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships”

Legend of HMS Erebus and Terror

On May 19, 1845, two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, departed England and set sail for the Canadian Arctic. Their goal was to travel through the treacherous waters of the Northwest Passage that separated the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Led by Sir John Franklin, the ships were to collect samples and conduct scientific studies along the way. Out of the 134 officers and men on the expedition, not a single one ever returned.

Messages later discovered by a rescue mission indicate the ships became trapped in ice off of King William Island in the Canadian Arctic. Franklin died on June 11, 1847, and the ships were abandoned on April 22, 1848. The initial survivors attempted to cross the ice and reach safety on the Canadian mainland. [See Photos of the Lost Ship from the Franklin Expedition]

Recently, Parks Canada archaeologists found the wreck of the HMS Erebus during the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition. (Image Credit: © Parks Canada)

CBC / Cool Antarctica / The Guardian UK / Live Science / Wikipedia

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

“Remember that all through history,

there have been tyrants and murderers,

and for a time,

they seem invincible.

But in the end,

They always fall.


~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.”

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being.

Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

“As soon as man does not take his existence for granted,

but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious,

thought begins.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Learned”

“Everybody wants to go to heaven,

but nobody wants to die.”

~ Anonymous

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States

The true story behind Thanksgiving is a bloody struggle that decimated the population and ended with a head on a stick

• Most American schoolchildren grow up with the story of how the English pilgrims and Native Americans came together for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.

• In reality, peace didn't last between the English settlers and their one-time Wampanoag allies.

• The two became embroiled in a devastating war just a generation after the famous feast.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a time for family, parades, lots of delicious food, and, oftentimes, intense travel snarls.

American schoolchildren are usually taught the tradition dates back to the pilgrims, English religious dissenters who helped to establish the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts in 1620.

As the story goes, friendly local Native Americans swooped in to teach the struggling colonists how to survive in the New World. Then everyone got together to celebrate with a feast in 1621. Attendees included at least 90 men from the Wampanoag tribe and the 50 or so surviving Mayflower passengers, according to TIME. The bash lasted three days and featured a menu including deer, fowl, and corn, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

In reality, Thanksgiving feasts predate Plymouth. You'll even find a number of localities have vied to claim the first Thanksgiving for themselves.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States

Settlers in Berkeley Hundred in Virginia decided to celebrate their arrival with an annual Thanksgiving back in 1619, according to The Virginian-Pilot - although The Washingtonian reported the meal was probably little more than some oysters and ham thrown together. And decades before that, Spanish settlers and members of the Seloy tribe broke bread with salted pork, garbanzo beans, and a Mass in 1565 Florida, according to the National Parks Service.

Our modern definition of Thanksgiving revolves around eating turkey, but in past centuries it was more of an occasion for religious observance. The storied 1621 Plymouth festivities live on in popular memory, but the pilgrims themselves would have likely considered their sober 1623 day of prayer the first true “Thanksgiving”, according to the History of Massachusetts Blog. Others pinpoint 1637 as the true origin of Thanksgiving, owing to the fact Massachusetts colony governor John Winthrop declared a day of thanks-giving to celebrate colonial soldiers who had just slaughtered 700 Pequot men, women, and children in what is now Mystic, Connecticut.

Either way, the popular telling of the initial harvest festival is what lived on, thanks to Abraham Lincoln.

The enduring holiday has also nearly erased from our collective memory what happened between the Wampanoag and the English a generation later.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States

Massosoit, the sachem or paramount chief of the Wampanoag, proved to be a crucial ally to the English settlers in the years following the establishment of Plymouth. He set up an exclusive trade pact with the newcomers, and allied with them against the French and other local tribes like the Narragansetts and Massachusetts.

However, the alliance became strained overtime.

Thousands of English colonists poured into the region throughout the 17th century. According to National Parks Service “Historic Contact: Early Relations between Indian People and Colonists in Northeastern North America”, authorities in Plymouth began asserting control over most aspects of Wampanoag life”, as settlers increasingly ate up more land. Estimated disease had already reduced the Native American population in New England by as much as 90% from 1616 to 1619, and indigenous people continued to die from what the colonists called “Indian fever”.

By the time Massasoit's son Metacomet - known to the English as “King Philip” - inherited leadership, relations had frayed. King Phillip's War was sparked when several of Metacomet's men were executed for the murder of Punkapoag interpreter and Christian convert John Sassamon.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States

Wampanoag warriors responded by embarking on a series of raids, and the New England Confederation of Colonies declared war in 1675. The initially neutral Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was ultimately dragged into the fighting, as were other nearby tribes like the Narragansetts.

The war was bloody and devastating.

Springfield, Massachusetts was burned to the ground. The Wampanoag abducted colonists for ransom. English forces attacked the Narragansetts on a bitter, frozen swamp for harboring fleeing Wampanoag. Six hundred Narragansetts were killed, and the tribe's winter stores were ruined. Colonists in far flung settlements relocated to more fortified areas while the Wampanoag and allied tribes were forced to flee their villages.

The colonists ultimately allied with several tribes like the Mohigans and Pequots, despite initial reluctance from the Plymouth leadership.

Meanwhile, Metacomet was dealt a staggering blow when he crossed over into New York to recruit allies. Instead, he was rebuffed and attacked by Mohawks. Upon his return to his ancestral home at Mount Hope, he was shot and killed in a final battle. The son of the man who had sustained and celebrated with the Plymouth Colony was then beheaded and dismembered. His remaining allies were killed or sold into slavery in the West Indies. The colonists impaled “King Phillip's” head on a spike and displayed it in Plymouth for 25 years.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States

In an article published in “The Historical Journal of Massachusetts”, Montclair State University professor Robert E. Cray Jr. said the war's ultimate death toll could have been as high as 30% of the English population and half of the Native Americans in New England.

The war was just one of a series of brutal but dimly remembered early colonial wars between Native Americans and colonists that occurred in New England, New York, and Virginia.

Popular memory has largely clung to the innocuous image of a harvest celebration, while ignoring the deadly forces that would ultimately drive apart the descendants of the guests of that very feast.

Modern day Thanksgiving may be a celebration of people coming together, but that's not the whole story when it comes to the history of the day.

Business Insider / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / History Channel / Plimoth.org / Quora / Smithsonian / Thanksgiving / The History of Thanksgiving in the United States (YouTube) video

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Pucker Factor: Tension caused by high stress during a difficult or dangerous evolution. So named because one's sphincter tends to tighten up or “pucker” involuntarily during such times. Example: Pucker factor was high when he landed that Turkey single engine with complete AC power failure at night.

Puddle Pirate (derogatory): A members of the US Coast Guard.

Puka: Any small space or opening. From Hawaiian.

Pull Chocks (verb): To leave.

Pump and Dump: A term in Boot Camp, normally used by RDCs allowing Recruits time to use the Head. This was normally either 5 or 10 minutes in duration (never long enough). Sometimes used to call for pumping bilges and waste tanks overboard outside coastal limits. Originally used in reference to the daily order for a ship underway to go out past the 50-mile-from-shore line in order to legally pump oily water from bilges and dump trash, this can no longer be done.

Punching Holes: When a submarine is underway submerged, as in “Punching Holes in the Ocean”.

Pushbutton: Term applied to a 6 year enlistee with advanced schooling. The Enlistee is immediately granted E-3 rank upon completion of basic training, and E-4 rank upon completion of “A” school. Frequently the Enlistee also has an opportunity to extend to 8 years, and immediately gain E-5 rank within 2-3 years total service, like “pushing a magic button to gain rank”.

Punching Holes: When a submarine is underway submerged, as in “Punching Holes in the Ocean”.

Pussy Patch: Transdermal scopolamine patch for seasickness.

Pussy Pills: Seasickness pills.


Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Prick: Slang for any equipment bearing the Portable, Radio, Communication (“PRC”) Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS) designator, usually man-portable radios.

Pro & Cons: Contraction of “Proficiency and Conduct marks”, a numeric system for evaluating enlisted Marines. Usually written or spoken consecutively, with the first being Proficiency and the second being Conduct, e.g. 4.5/4.8. Hypothetically, the scale is from 0.0 to 5.0, but a perfect 5.0 is so rare that a Marine who receives it is called a “water-walker” (in reference to Mark 6:48) and the worst marks awarded almost never fall below 2.0 .

Property Cage: Place where organizational property is stored, often a warehouse.

PT: Physical Training, physical exercise to build or maintain strength, agility, and flexibility.

Pucker Factor: High level of anxiety experienced by those in tight situations, usually aircrew.

Pull Butts: To mark and score targets on a shooting range from behind a berm. See also butts & pitsvideo.

Post eXchange: More properly the Marine Corps Exchange.


Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSC-2 Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron TWO - nicknamed the “Fleet Angels”

United States Navy Naval Air Station - Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC), Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia / Squadron Lineage: HSC-2 (2nd): April 01, 1987 - August 24, 2005 / HSC-2: August 24, 2005 - present.

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”

An apple a day keeps the doctor away:

Meaning: The proverb 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away' has a straightforward literal, and very probably correct, meaning - that the eating of fruit maintains good health.

History: It isn't often that I get the opportunity to list Wales as the source of a commonplace English phrase. There's a fair chance that this little maxim originated there as the earliest known example of its use in print makes that claim. The February 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine includes this:

“A Pembrokeshire proverb. Eat an apple on going to bed, And you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

A number of variants of the rhyme were in circulation around the turn of the 20th century. In 1913, Elizabeth Wright recorded a Devonian dialect version and also the first known mention of the version we use now, in Rustic Speech and Folk-lore:

“Ait a happle avore gwain to bed, An' you'll make the doctor beg his bread; or as the more popular version runs: An apple a day Keeps the doctor away.”

Apples have a good claim to promote health. They contain Vitamin C, which aids the immune system, and phenols, which reduce cholesterol. They also reduce tooth decay by cleaning one's teeth and killing off bacteria. It has also been suggested by Cornell University researchers that the quercetin found in apples protects brain cells against neuro-degenerative disorders like Alzheimer's Disease.

Apples may be good for us but it wasn't their precise medicinal properties that were being exalted when this phrase was coined. In Old English the word apple was used to describe any round fruit that grew on a tree. Adam and Eve's forbidden fruit, which they ate in the Garden of Eden, is often described as an apple but, in the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, it is just called “a fruit”.

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

New images reveal fine threads of million-degree plasma woven throughout the Sun's atmosphereAncient teeth from Peru hint now-extinct monkeys crossed Atlantic from AfricaWorld's most complex microparticle: A synthetic that outdoes nature's intricacy (Update)Long-living tropical trees play outsized role in carbon storageNew study finds EPA mercury analysis is 'seriously flawed' Phys.org / MedicalXpress / TechXplore

How a gene from a grass-living fungus could save wheat crops worldwide‘A huge step forward.’ Mutant enzyme could vastly improve recycling of plastic bottlesRethinking anorexia: Biology may be more important than culture, new studies revealTree diversity reduced to the bare essentials‘Lucy’s baby’ suggests famed human ancestor had a primitive brain Science AAAS

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)

New Formation Theory Explains the Mysterious Interstellar Object 'Oumuamua

New Formation Theory Explains the Mysterious Interstellar Object 'Oumuamua

Source: University of California - Berkeley

Summary: A unique butterfly breeding experiment gave researchers an opportunity to study the physical and genetic changes underlying the evolution of structural color, responsible for butterflies' iridescent purples, blues and greens. Using helium ion microscopy, the scientists discovered that a 75 percent increase in thickness of the chitin lamina of wing scales turned iridescent gold to shiny blue. They showed that knocking out a gene called optix achieves the same result: a bluer Common Buckeye.

In the process, Thayer discovered how relatively easy it is for butterflies to change their wing colors over just a few generations and found the first gene proven to influence the so-called “structural color” that underlies the iridescent purple, blue, green and golden hues of many butterflies.

Her findings are a starting point for new genetic approaches to investigate how butterflies produce intricate nanostructures with optical properties, which ultimately could help engineers develop new ways to produce photonic nanostructures for solar panels or iridescent colors for paints, clothing and cosmetics.

Structural color is different from pigment color, like that in your skin or on a canvas, which absorbs or reflects different colors of light. Instead, it comes from light's interaction with a solid material in the same way that a transparent bubble develops a colorful sheen. The light penetrates it and bounces back out, interfering with light reflected from the surface in a way that cancels out all but one color.

At the Shady Oak Butterfly Farm in Brooker, Florida, Smith's breeding experiments with the Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) - a mostly brown butterfly with showy, colorful spots, found throughout the United States and often raised by butterfly farmers for butterfly gardens or wedding ceremonies - were ideal for Thayer's study of structural color.

“Edith noticed that sometimes these butterflies have just a few blue scales on the very front part of the forewing and started breeding the blue animals together”, said Thayer, who is in UC Berkeley's Department of Integrative Biology. “So, effectively, she was doing an artificial selection experiment, guided by her own curiosity and intuition about what would be interesting.”

In a paper appearing online today in the journal eLife, Thayer and Nipam Patel, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology who is on leave as director of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, describe the physical changes in wing scales associated with Smith's experiment on the Common Buckeye, and report one genetic regulator of blue iridescence.

“I especially loved the clear evolutionary context: being able to directly compare the 'before' and 'after' and piece together the whole story”, Thayer said. “We know that blueness in J. coenia is a recent change, we know explicitly what the force of selection was, we know the time frame of the change. That doesn't happen every day for evolutionary biologists.”

New Formation Theory Explains the Mysterious Interstellar Object 'Oumuamua

Structural Color Produces Showy Butterflies

According to Thayer, hundreds of butterflies have been studied because of the showy structural color in their wing scales. The showiest is the blue morpho, with 5-inch wings of iridescent blue edged with black. Her study, however, focused on a less showy genus, Junonia, and found that iridescent color is common throughout the 10 species, even the drab ones. One unremarkable light gray butterfly, the pansy J. atlites, proved under a microscope to have iridescent rainbow-colored scales whose colors blend together into gray when viewed with the naked eye.

One major lesson from the study, she said, is that “most butterfly patterns probably have a mix of pigment color and structural color, and which one has the strongest impact on wing color depends on how much pigment is there.”

Thayer raised both the wild, brownish Common Buckeye and the cross-bred, bluer variety obtained from Smith. Using a state-of-the-art helium ion microscope, she imaged scales from the wings to see which scale structures are responsible for the color and to determine whether the color change was due to a change in structural color, or just a loss of brown pigment that allowed the blue color to stand out.

She found no difference in the amount of brown pigment on the scales, but a significant difference in the thickness of chitin, the strong polymer from which the scale is built and that also generates the structural color. In the wild buckeye, the thickness of the chitin layer was about 100 nanometers, yielding a golden hue that blended with the brown pigment. The bluer buckeye had chitin about 190 nanometers thick - about the thickness of a soap bubble - that produced a blue iridescence that outshined the brown pigment.

“They are actually creating the color the same way a soap bubble iridescence works; it's the same phenomenon physically”, Thayer said.

She also found that, though the scales from the Junonia butterflies have an elaborate microscopic structure, structural color comes from the bottom, or base, of the scale.

“That is not intuitive, because the top part of the scale has all of these curves and grooves and details that really catch your eye, and the most famous structural colors are elaborate structures, often in the top part of the scale”, she said. “But the simple, flat layer at the bottom of the scale controls structural coloration in each species we checked.”

“The color comes down to a relatively simple change in the scale: the thickness of the lamina”, said Patel. “We believe that this will be a genetically tractable system that can allow us to identify the genes and developmental mechanisms that can control structural coloration.”

Thayer also investigated the scales of mutant buckeyes created by Cornell University researchers that lacked a key gene, called optix, that controls color. The micrograph images demonstrated that lack of the gene also increased the thickness of the thin film of chitin in the scales, creating a blue color. Optix is a regulatory gene that controls many other butterfly genes, which Thayer will be looking at next.

“One thing that I thought was cool about our findings was seeing that the same mechanism that has recurred over millions of years of butterfly evolution could be reproduced really rapidly in (Smith's) artificial section experiment”, she said. “That says that color evolving by changes in lamina thickness is a repeatable, important phenomenon.”

Frances Allen, a research scientist in UC Berkeley's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is also a co-author of the paper. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation (DEB-1601815, DGE-1106400).

Science Daily (03/13/2020) video

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


“Crying” - Roy Orbison 1961

“Crying” video - Roy Orbison
Album: Crying
Released 1961

Orbison claimed to have written “Cryingvideo as the result of an encounter he had with an old flame with whom he was still in love. He refused to say how much she meant to him, and when he ran into her again it was too late.

Orbison started writing this song for a country singer named Don Gibson; the working title was “Once Again”.

Orbison's songwriting partner, Joe Melson, then came up with the lyrics, “Once again I'm crying, once again I'm crying”, which became the basis for the song, so Orbison changed the title.

Orbison claimed the stunning climax at the end of the song was not contrived, but just happened in the course of the song. He told the NME in 1980:

“Immediately I thought of a past experience and just retold that, was the way that came about. It was the retelling of a thing with a girlfriend that I had had. I couldn't tell you right now what notes I hit at the end of the song, or anything.”

At the time, rock artists didn't typically write songs about crying over a girl. Orbison wanted to show that crying was not weakness, but sensitivity. Other voices would have a hard time pulling this off, but Orbison could emote very naturally when he sang, which he did on many of his hits.

In 1987, shortly after he signed with Virgin Records, Orbison recorded a duet of “Cryingvideo with k.d. lang which was released as a single and later used as the B-side to his 1989 release “She's A Mystery To Mevideo. This duet won the 1988 Grammy award for Best Country Vocal Collaboration, and was re-released in the UK in 1992, where it hit #13. Lang said that when they met to do the recording, it was obvious that their voices had a “tonal connection”.

This recording video, was made for the 1987 Jon Cryer movie Hiding Out video, and produced by Pete Anderson, who was Dwight Yoakam's producer. In our interview with Pete Anderson, he said:

“The editor cut it for the movie, and he slowed it down for this scene where they were roller skating. So my daunting task was to recut 'Crying' as a duet with k.d. lang, Roy Orbison, and slow it down a little bit. It was great - it's Roy and kd, so you can't go wrong no matter what you do.”

“I more-or-less witnessed it because they were so terrific. The biggest plus out of it was just getting to know Roy a little bit and spending a little time with Roy, who was a very, very special person.”

Roy Orbison explained in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh how he came to write this song:

“I was dating a girl and we broke up. I went to the barber shop to get a haircut and I looked across the street and there was this girl that I had split up with. I wanted to go over and say, 'Let's forget about what happened and carry on'. But I was stubborn. So I got in the car and drove down the street about two blocks and said to myself, 'Boy, you really made a mistake. You didn't play that right at all.' It certainly brought tears to my eyes and that's how I came up with 'Crying'.”

In 1978 Don McLean recorded a cover version of “Cryingvideo for his Chain Lightning album. It was originally released as a single in Europe successfully, and by 1980 it had become a #1 hit in the UK and #5 in the U.S. Jay & the Americans also had a hit with “Cryingvideo, taking it to #25 in the U.S. in 1966.

Orbison broke convention by following up a hit ballad with another ballad: his previous release was “Running Scaredvideo, and while conventional wisdom was to never release two ballads back to back, it worked out just fine for Orbison as “Cryingvideo was also a hit.

Roy Orbison official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Roy Orbison

Image: “Crying (album)” by Roy Orbison



● Name the meaning of at least one of these seven “Fancy Words for Crude Bodily Functions:” Eructative, Onychophagia, Micturate, Bromhidrosis, Stertorous, Ozostomia and/or Cerumen.

Answer to Trivia

● In what city was the first U.S. mint opened?

Answer to Trivia

● What type of lettuce should be used in a classic Caesar Salad?

Answer to Trivia

● What four NHL teams did Wayne Gretsky play for in his career?

Answer to Trivia


A Test for People Who Know Everything

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“Keep your nose clean at sea or enter this 4-letter onboard jail.”

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

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“Skivvies are these; what, you don't like hearts?”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “NAVY JARGON” ($800)

“If you've ever swabbed the deck, you know a swab is a large one of these.”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “NAVY JARGON” ($1,000)

“For sailors cooped up at sea for months, this type of furlough away from the ship is an important break.”

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “A POP CULTURE THANKSGIVING” ($200)

“A traditional folk song finds it “in the straw” & “in the hayvideo.”

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“The song “Zombievideo by this group is about the blood shed over Irish freedom.”

● Answer: The Cranberries. Official Website

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“Gangly banjo player David Akeman, a star of the Grand Ole Opry & “Hee Haw”, had this nickname.”

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Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener”

A new, young MD doing his residency in OB was quite embarrassed performing female pelvic exams.

To cover his embarrassment he had unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly.

The middle aged lady upon whom he was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing and further embarrassed him.

The young doctor looked up from his work and sheepishly said, “I'm sorry. Was I tickling you?”

She replied, “No doctor, but the song you were whistling was 'I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener'!””