Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 52, 2020

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The World War I Christmas Truce on December 24-26, 1914

The World War I Christmas Truce on December 24-26, 1914

The World War I Christmas Truce: “Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!”

On Christmas Eve 1914, in the dank, muddy trenches on the Western Front of the first world war, a remarkable thing happened.

It came to be called the Christmas Truce. And it remains one of the most storied and strangest moments of the Great War - or of any war in history.

British machine gunner Bruce Bairnsfather, later a prominent cartoonist, wrote about it in his memoirs. Like most of his fellow infantrymen of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he was spending the holiday eve shivering in the muck, trying to keep warm. He had spent a good part of the past few months fighting the Germans. And now, in a part of Belgium called Bois de Ploegsteert, he was crouched in a trench that stretched just three feet deep by three feet wide, his days and nights marked by an endless cycle of sleeplessness and fear, stale biscuits and cigarettes too wet to light.

“Here I was, in this horrible clay cavity,” Bairnsfather wrote, “…miles and miles from home. Cold, wet through and covered with mud.” There didn’t “seem the slightest chance of leaving—except in an ambulance.”

Then the singing started

At about 10 p.m., Bairnsfather noticed a noise.

“I listened”, he recalled. “Away across the field, among the dark shadows beyond, I could hear the murmur of voices.” He turned to a fellow soldier in his trench and said, “Do you hear the Boches [Germans] kicking up that racket over there?”

“Yes”, came the reply. “They’ve been at it some time!”

The Germans were singing carols, as it was Christmas Eve. In the darkness, some of the British soldiers began to sing back.

“Suddenly”, Bairnsfather recalled, “we heard a confused shouting from the other side. We all stopped to listen. The shout came again.” The voice was from an enemy soldier, speaking in English with a strong German accent. He was saying, “Come over here.”

One of the British sergeants answered:

“You come half-way. I come half-way.”

The World War I Christmas Truce on December 24-26, 1914 (The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776, by John Trumbull, showing Captain William Washington, with a wounded hand, on the right and Lt. Monroe, severely wounded and helped by Dr. John Riker)

Fraternization ensued

What happened next would, in the years to come, stun the world and make history. Enemy soldiers began to climb nervously out of their trenches, and to meet in the barbed-wire-filled “No Man’s Land” that separated the armies. Normally, the British and Germans communicated across No Man’s Land with streaking bullets, with only occasional gentlemanly allowances to collect the dead unmolested. But now, there were handshakes and words of kindness. The soldiers traded songs, tobacco and wine, joining in a spontaneous holiday party in the cold night.

Bairnsfather could not believe his eyes.

“Here they were—the actual, practical soldiers of the German army. There was not an atom of hate on either side.”

And it wasn’t confined to that one battlefield. Starting on Christmas Eve, small pockets of French, German, Belgian and British troops held impromptu cease-fires across the Western Front, with reports of some on the Eastern Front as well. Some accounts suggest a few of these unofficial truces remained in effect for days.

For those who participated, it was surely a welcome break from the hell they had been enduring. When the war had begun just six months earlier, most soldiers figured it would be over quickly and they’d be home with their families in time for the holidays. Not only would the war drag on for four more years, but it would prove to be the bloodiest conflict ever up to that time. The Industrial Revolution had made it possible to mass-produce new and devastating tools for killing—among them fleets of airplanes and guns that could fire hundreds of rounds per minute. And bad news on both sides had left soldiers with plummeting morale. There was the devastating Russian defeat at Tannenberg in August 1914 and the German losses in the Battle of the Marne a week later.

By the time winter approached in 1914, and the chill set in, the Western Front stretched hundreds of miles. Countless soldiers were living in misery in the trenches on the fronts, while tens of thousands had already died.

Then Christmas came.

First-hand accounts recalled bottles, smokes and barbering

Descriptions of the Christmas Truce appear in numerous diaries and letters of the time. One British soldier, a rifleman named J. Reading, wrote a letter home to his wife describing his holiday experience in 1914:

“My company happened to be in the firing line on Christmas eve, and it was my turn…to go into a ruined house and remain there until 6:30 on Christmas morning. During the early part of the morning the Germans started singing and shouting, all in good English. They shouted out: ‘Are you the Rifle Brigade; have you a spare bottle; if so we will come half way and you come the other half.’”

“Later on in the day they came towards us”, Reading described. “And our chaps went out to meet them…I shook hands with some of them, and they gave us cigarettes and cigars. We did not fire that day, and everything was so quiet it seemed like a dream.”

Another British soldier, named John Ferguson, recalled it this way:

“Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!”

Other diaries and letters describe German soldiers using candles to light Christmas trees around their trenches. One German infantryman described how a British soldier set up a makeshift barbershop, charging Germans a few cigarettes each for a haircut. Other accounts describe vivid scenes of men helping enemy soldiers collect their dead, of which there was plenty.

The World War I Christmas Truce on December 24-26, 1914 (The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776, by John Trumbull, showing Captain William Washington, with a wounded hand, on the right and Lt. Monroe, severely wounded and helped by Dr. John Riker)

An impromptu “kick-about”

One British fighter named Ernie Williams later described in an interview his recollection of some makeshift soccer play on what turned out to be an icy pitch:

“The ball appeared from somewhere, I don't know where... They made up some goals and one fellow went in goal and then it was just a general kick-about. I should think there were about a couple of hundred taking part.”

German Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch of the 134 Saxons Infantry, a schoolteacher who spoke both English and German, also described a pick-up soccer game in his diary, which was discovered in an attic near Leipzig in 1999, written in an archaic German form of shorthand.

“Eventually the English brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued”, he wrote. “How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.”

Gradually, news of the Christmas Truce made it into the press.

“Christmas has come and gone - certainly the most extraordinary celebration of it any of us will ever experience”, one soldier wrote in a letter that appeared in The Irish Times on January 15, 1915. He described a “large crowd of officers and men, English and German, grouped around the [dead] bodies, which had been gathered together and laid out in rows.” The Germans, this British soldier said, “were quite affable.”

Just how many soldiers participated in these informal holiday gatherings has been debated; there is no way to know for sure since the ceasefires were small-scale, haphazard and entirely unauthorized. A Time magazine story on the 100 anniversary claimed that as many as 100,000 people took part.

The World War I Christmas Truce on December 24-26, 1914 (The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776, by John Trumbull, showing Captain William Washington, with a wounded hand, on the right and Lt. Monroe, severely wounded and helped by Dr. John Riker)

Not everyone was pleased

At least one account has survived of a Christmas Truce gone bad: the story of Private Percy Huggins, a Briton who was relaxing in No Man’s Land with the enemy when a sniper shot to the head killed him and set off more bloodshed. The sergeant who took Huggins’ place, hoping to avenge his death, was then himself picked off and killed.

In another account, a German scolded his fellow soldiers during the Christmas Truce:

“Such a thing should not happen in wartime. Have you no German sense of honor left?” That 25-year old soldier’s name was Adolf Hitler.

Neither was high command pleased with the festivities. On Dec. 7, 1914, Pope Benedict had implored leaders of the battling nations to hold a Christmas truce, asking “that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang.” The plea was officially ignored.

So when a truce spontaneously broke out, the leaders of all the armies were reportedly horrified. British General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien wrote in a confidential memorandum that “this is only illustrative of the apathetic state we are gradually sinking into.” Some accounts of the Christmas Truce hold that soldiers were punished for fraternization, and top command issued orders that it should never happen again.

For the rest of World War I - a conflict that would ultimately claim roughly 15 million lives—no Christmas Truces appear to have occurred. But in 1914, these curious holiday get-togethers reminded all those involved that wars were fought not by forces but by human beings. For years after, the Truce became fodder for everything from artwork to made-for-TV-movies to advertisements and popular songs.

Today, a memorial stands in England’s National Memorial Arboretum commemorating the Christmas Truce; it was dedicated by Prince William of England. On the 100 anniversary in 2014, the English and German national soccer teams staged a friendly match in England in remembrance of the soldiers’ impromptu soccer games in 1914. (England won 1-0.)

What stands out most today, however, are the memories of the soldiers themselves, preserved in their own penmanship. One riflemen of Britain’s 3 Rifle Brigade recounted a German soldier saying,

“Today we have peace. Tomorrow you fight for your country. I fight for mine. Good luck!”

As for Britain’s Bruce Bairnsfather, he summed up the distinct historic moment this way:

“Looking back on it all, I wouldn't have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything.”

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Imperial War Museum (Great Britain) / The National Museum and Memorial.org / Mises Institute.org / Ohio History Connection.org / Libertarian Institute.org / Smithsonian / The World War I Christmas Truce on December 24-26, 1914 (YouTube) video

“This Day in History”

This Day in History December 24

• 1777 Kiritimati (also called Christmas Island) is discovered by James Cook.

• 1826 Eggnog Riot: at the United States Military Academy.

• 1851 Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., burns.

• 1906 Radio: Reginald Fessenden transmits the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.

• 1939 World War II: Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas Eve appeal for peace.

• 1941 World War II: Kuching is conquered by Japanese forces.

• 1941 World War II: Benghazi is conquered by the British Eighth Army.

• 1942 World War II: French monarchist, Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle assassinates Vichy French Admiral François Darlan in Algiers, Algiers.

• 1943 World War II: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower is named Supreme Allied Commander for the Invasion of Normandy.

• 1968 Apollo program: Apollo 8 crew enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed ten lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures.

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

Understanding Military Terminology

Phony Minefield

(DOD) An area free of live mines used to simulate a minefield, or section of a minefield, with the object of deceiving the enemy.

See also Minefield.

Joint Publications (JP 3-15) Barriers, Obstacles, and Mine Warfare for Joint Operations

Physical Characteristics

Those military characteristics of equipment that are primarily physical in nature.

Joint Publications (JP 3-60) Joint Targeting

Physical Damage Assessment

The estimate of the quantitative extent of physical damage to a target resulting from the application of military force.

See also Battle Damage Aassessment.

Joint Publications (JP 3-60) Joint Targeting

Physical Security

1. That part of security concerned with physical measures designed to safeguard personnel; to prevent unauthorized access to equipment, installations, material, and documents; and to safeguard them against espionage, sabotage, damage, and theft. (JP 3-0)

2. In communications security, the component that results from all physical measures necessary to safeguard classified equipment, material, and documents from access thereto or observation thereof by unauthorized persons. (JP 6-0)

See also Communications Security; Security.

Joint Publications (JP 3-0) Joint Operations

Joint Publications (JP 6-0) Joint Communications System

A Sailor's Christmas

The Old Salt’s Corner

A Sailor's Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas a calm night at sea,

We nestled in our racks for a Holiday Routine.

When from the ventilation there came such a clatter,

We jumped from our bunks to see what's the matter.

When from the vent fell this big dust covered dude,

He was dressed up in red with a bad attitude.

Yelling, “Those ducts are all filthy!” as he brushed off his clothes,

“Don't just damn stand there, where's the DCPO?”

He arose from the deck, then he peered all around,

Then from his mouth came a bellowing sound.

”This berthing's a disgrace!” then he called us by name,

“Now Boatswain, Now Corpsman, please explain!”

This was not the Santa I remembered from youth,

He smelled of cheap whiskey, he was rough and uncouth.

”Now, look here you bastards” he said as he strolled,

“You'd best trice this place up, or you'll get nothing but coal!”

“You'll make this space pretty, military, and neat!”

Then he looked down at our boots that lay right near his feat.

”Well, what do we have here?” he said with a frown,

“Who the hell polished these? Recruit 'Buster brown'?!”

He walked around slowly, he missed not a mark.

He even spotted dust bunnies, right there in the dark!

”You've got high dust and low dust, and that overhead it needs cleaning!”

We all stood dumbfounded as his words kept on streaming.

“Which man here is senior!?” Then asked St Nick,

“You'd better shit me and answer…and SHIT ME ONE QUICK!”

The First Class stepped forward, his heart pounding hard,

“Now look right here shitbirds, this asshole's in charge!”

“These racks will be tight! This damn deck it will shine!

I don't want to hear bitching! I need not hear you whine!”

So we gathered our foxtales, our buckets, and swabs,

We all worked all in silence to finish the job.

It took almost an hour finish our space,

He just sat drinking coffee and stuffing his face.

Then on re-inspection he explained with a huff,

“Now this is more like it! Now you’re not so screwed up!”

We all stood there smiling, awaiting our gifts,

But Santa just snapped out “What's the matter dumb-shits!?”

“Get back to your racks! This will be my last warning!

Just like on shore, the gifts come in the morning!”

It seemed like eternity until reveille sounded,

We threw back our curtains as all our hearts pounded.

But what were our gifts? For what did we suffer?

A pallet of rags and a shiny new buffer!

Attached to our new buffer, we found a short note,

We all gathered 'round to see what he wrote.

“Next year at Christmas, best have all your shit wired!”


Fair Winds

S.C. Clause

BMCM (Retired)

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Home is where one starts from.”

“The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.”

“Between the desire and the spasm,

between the potency and the existence,

between the essence and the descent,

falls the shadow.

This is the way the world ends.”

~ T.S. Eliot

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn't misuse it.”

“Social justice cannot be attained by violence

Violence kills what it intends to create.”

“I kiss the soil as if I placed a kiss on the hands of a mother,

for the homeland is our earthly mother.

I consider it my duty to be with my compatriots in this sublime and difficult moment.”

~ Pope John Paul II

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Learned”

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered,

you will never grow.”

~ Anonymous

The Origins of Christmas

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: The Origins of Christmas

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25 - Christmas Day - has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.

The Origins of Christmas

An Ancient Holiday

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

The Origins of Christmas


In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia - a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.

Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius I chose December 25.

It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

The Origins of Christmas

An Outlaw Christmas

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Origins of Christmas

Washington Irving Reinvents Christmas

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s peaked American interest in the holiday?

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended - in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

The Origins of Christmas

A Christmas Carol

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention-and gifts-on their children without appearing to “spoil” them.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards and gift-giving.

Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / History Cooperative.org / Got Questions.org / Live Science / Mental Floss / Quora / The Origins of Christmas (YouTube) video

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Radioactive Rudolph: Reindeer meat brought onboard in Scandanavian Ports, especially soon after the Chernobyl meltdown. Now, just Rudolph.

Radio girls: Derogatory term for Radiomen used by personnel in engineering ratings who do not believe they do any “real work”. OSs, STs and other Twidgets that don't, for example, stand any rate-related watches in port (in the days of steam ships especially) get even less respect.

Radioing the logs (Submarine Service): Recording engineering log data via mental telepathy (see “Xoxing Logs” below). (Surface ships sometimes use the term “blazing the logs” or “gundecking”).

Rain Locker: Shower.

Raisin: Recruit or junior sailor, predominantly heard at Naval Training Commands. This is used in boot camp to refer to those boots who have received their dungaree uniforms so recently that they haven't been ironed, just washed, they are therefore wrinkled, like a raisin. Usually used by seasoned boots to refer to sailors with one or more weeks less time in service. Fleet equivalent is “Nub”, “Newbie”, or <Hey Shitbird”.


Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Radio Watch: Duty monitoring radio networks for relevant traffic, also; the person filling that duty.

Rah: A shortened version of Ooh-rah.

Raider Cap: Cover worn with the M1941 HBT utilities.

Rain Locker: Shower.


Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSC-6 Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron SIX - nicknamed the “Indians”

United States Navy Naval Air Station - Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC), Naval Air Station North Island, Naval Base Coronado - San Diego, California / Coronado, California / Squadron Lineage: HC-6: June 1, 1956 - July 2011 / HSC-6: July 2011 - present.

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “An ill wind that blows no one any good”

An ill wind that blows no one any good:

Meaning: A misfortune.

History: The use of 'ill wind' is most commonly in the phrase 'it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good'. This is first recorded in John Heywood's A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546:

“As you be muche the worse. and I cast awaie.

An yll wynde, that blowth no man to good, men saie.

Wel (quoth he) euery wind blowth not down the corn

I hope (I saie) good hap [luck] be not all out worn.”

Heywood's meaning was that a wind that was unlucky for one person would bring good fortune to another. This sailing metaphor has frequently been invoked to explain good luck arising from the source of others' misfortune, and it probably pre-dates 1546.

That meaning, which is still understood today, was subverted somewhat later to provide a second meaning. In Rob Roy, Sir Walter Scott included:

“Nane were keener against it than the Glasgow folk, wi' their rabblings and their risings, and their mobs, as they ca' them now-a-days. But it's an ill wind blaws naebody gude.”.

The meaning there is clearly the opposite of the old proverb, that is, a wind that didn't provide benefit to someone would be a bad and unusual one indeed.

Into the 20th century we find a punning joke on the phrase that has been attributed to many people, notably Sir Thomas Beecham, although I'm unable to authenticate the true source. This calls the notoriously difficult-to-play French horn:

“the wind that nobody blows good”.

This little joke was popularized by Danny Kaye's character in the 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, although in that version they unfairly opted for the tuneful though also difficult oboe:

“And the oboe it is clearly understood

Is an ill wind that no one blows good.”.

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Archivists uncover earliest evidence of a person being killed by a meteoriteThe Neanderthal DNA you carry may have surprisingly little impact on your looks, moodsDid heavy rains trigger the eruption of the most dangerous U.S. volcano? Scientists are skepticalDiamond microscope reveals slow crawl of Earth’s ancient crustWatch a half-dead sea urchin get menaced by a hungry crab - and live to tell the tale Science AAAS

USGS releases first-ever comprehensive geologic map of the MoonSatellite data show 'highest emissions ever measured' from U.S. oil and gas operationsCoronaviruses and bats have been evolving together for millions of yearsA novel method to precisely deliver therapeutics inside the bodyThe surface stress of biomedical silicones is a stimulant of cellular response Phys.org / MedicalXpress / TechXplore

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)

Milky Way could be catapulting stars into its outer halo

Milky Way could be catapulting stars into its outer halo

Source: University of California - Irvine

Summary: Astronomers have shown that clusters of supernovas can cause the birth of scattered, eccentrically orbiting suns in outer stellar halos, upending commonly held notions of how star systems have formed and evolved over billions of years.

Hyper-realistic, cosmologically self-consistent computer simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environments 2 project enabled the scientists to model the disruptions in otherwise orderly galactic rotations. The team's work is the subject of a study published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“These highly accurate numerical simulations have shown us that it's likely the Milky Way has been launching stars in circumgalactic space in outflows triggered by supernova explosions”, said senior author James Bullock, dean of UCI's School of Physical Sciences and a professor of physics & astronomy. “It's fascinating, because when multiple big stars die, the resulting energy can expel gas from the galaxy, which in turn cools, causing new stars to be born.”

Bullock said the diffuse distribution of stars in the stellar halo that extends far outside the classical disk of a galaxy is where the “archeological record” of the system exists. Astronomers have long assumed that galaxies are assembled over lengthy periods of time as smaller star groupings come in and are dismembered by the larger body, a process that ejects some stars into distant orbits. But the UCI team is proposing “supernova feedback” as a different source for as many as 40 percent of these outer-halo stars.

Lead author Sijie Yu, a UCI Ph.D. candidate in physics, said the findings were made possible partly by the availability of a powerful new set of tools.

“The FIRE-2 simulations allow us to generate movies that make it seem as though you're observing a real galaxy”, she noted. “They show us that as the galaxy center is rotating, a bubble driven by supernova feedback is developing with stars forming at its edge. It looks as though the stars are being kicked out from the center.”

Bullock said he did not expect to see such an arrangement because stars are such tight, incredibly dense balls that are generally not subject to being moved relative to the background of space.

“Instead, what we're witnessing is gas being pushed around”, he said, “and that gas subsequently cools and makes stars on its way out.”

Milky Way could be catapulting stars into its outer halo

The researchers said that while their conclusions have been drawn from simulations of galaxies forming, growing and evolving to the present day, there is actually a fair amount of observational evidence that stars are forming in outflows from galactic centers to their halos.

“In plots that compare data from the European Space Agency's Gaia mission - which provides a 3D velocity chart of stars in the Milky Way - with other maps that show stellar density and metallicity, we can see structures similar to those produced by outflow stars in our simulations”, Yu said.

Bullock added that mature, heavier, metal-rich stars like our sun rotate around the center of the galaxy at a predictable speed and trajectory. But the low-metallicity stars, which have been subjected to fewer generations of fusion than our sun, can be seen rotating in the opposite direction.

He said that over the lifespan of a galaxy, the number of stars produced in supernova bubble outflows is small, around 2 percent. But during the parts of galaxies' histories when starburst events are booming, as many as 20 percent of stars are being formed this way.

“There are some current projects looking at galaxies that are considered to be very 'starbursting' right now”, Yu said. “Some of the stars in these observations also look suspiciously like they're getting ejected from the center.”

This project - which involved astronomers from UC Davis, UC San Diego, the University of Pennsylvania, the Flatiron Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology and Northwestern University - was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Science Daily (04/19/2020) video

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“Run Rudolph Run” - Chuck Berry 1958

“Run Rudolph Run” - Chuck Berry
Album: Christmas Classics
Released 1958 video

Chuck Berry based this tale on “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeervideo, giving Rudolph a bit of an attitude as he delivers the toys. Unlike Santa, however, Rudolph is copyrighted, and Berry had to give the publishing rights to Johnny Marks, who wrote the original Rudolph video. Perhaps if Berry had used “Randolph” (another reindeer he mentions), he could have kept the publishing. That's what the makers of the British TV special Robbie the Reindeer did.

The song is sometimes known as “Run Run Rudolph”, which is how it appears on Lynyrd Skynyrd's cover. Other artists to record the song include Sheryl Crow, Bryan Adams, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, Dwight Yoakam, Bon Jovi and Keith Richards.

This was used in the 1990 movie Home Alone in one of those pre-9/11 airport scenes where the family rushes to the gate and barely makes their plane (minus Macaulay Culkin). Other films the song has appeared in include Diner, The Santa Clause 2, Cast Away and Jingle All the Way.

Chuck Berry official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Chuck Berry

Image: “Christmas Classics (album)” by Chuck Berry

“Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree” - Brenda Lee 1958

“Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree” - Brenda Lee
Album: Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
Released 1958 video

Rockin' Around The Christmas Treevideo was written by Johnny Marks, who was a very prolific Christmas songwriter. His other songs include “Holly Jolly Christmasvideo and “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeervideo.

First released in 1958, it didn't dent the charts that year or the next year when it was released, but in 1960 after Brenda Lee scored a few hits, this song caught on and became a Christmas classic.

Lee was just 13 years old when she recorded this song in 1958. Known as “Little Miss Dynamite”, she stood 4'9".

Thanks to streaming, the song entered the Hot 100 top 10 for the first time on the chart dated January 5, 2019. It was Brenda Lee's first release to reach the upper regions of the tally since “Losing Youvideo peaked at #6 in 1963. This meant that Lee set a new record for the longest period between top 10 hits for any female artist.

Brenda Lee official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Brenda Lee

Image: “Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree (album)” by Brenda Lee

“Jingle Bell Rock” - Bobby Helms 1963

“Jingle Bell Rock” - Bobby Helms
Album: Jingle Bell Rock
Released 1963 video

Jingle Bell Rockvideo is considered the first mainstream rock 'n' roll Christmas song. Helms was a new, relatively successful Country artist with two #1 country hits in 1957, “Frauleinvideo and “My Special Angel” video, both of which were crossover hits that made it into the pop Top 40.

Although “Jingle Bell Rockvideo was released only two days before Christmas in 1957, the single still hit #6 on the pop chart. The song was re-released around Christmas in 1958 and again in 1960, making it back to the charts each time.

The B-side of the single is “Captain Santa Claus And His Reindeer Space Patrolvideo.

Many artists have covered this song, including Hall & Oates, The Platters, 38 Special, and The Beach Boys. The only other version to chart was by Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell; their rendition hit #21 in 1962.

The Hall & Oates version, released in 1983, was accompanied by an exceptionally campy video video that got a lot of airplay on MTV, which launched in 1981. When we asked Daryl Hall why they covered the song, he said that he was in a rockabilly phase at the time and wanted to do a rockabilly Christmas song.

This song is credited to Joe Beal and Jim Boothe. Hank “Sugarfoot” Garland played guitar on this track as well as Brenda Lee's “Rockin' Around The Christmas Treevideo. Before his death, Garland filed suit against the record label, claiming that he and Helms, not Beal and Boothe, wrote the song.

In a 1986 interview, Helms said he made significant changes to many of his songs, but never got credit. “Jingle Bell Rockvideo, he said, originally didn't have a bridge so he wrote one (“What a bright time, it's the right time, to rock the night away...”).

Helms' version has been used in several TV shows, including “The Wonder Years”, “Chuck”, “House M.D.”, “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, “The Simpsons”, “South Park”, “Family Guy” and “Once Upon A Time”. It's also featured in the movies “Lethal Weaponvideo (1987), “Home Alone 2: Lost In New York”, “Jingle All The Way” (1996), and “Vanilla Sky” (2001).

Image: “Jingle Bell Rock (album)” by Bobby Helms

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” - Darlene Love 1963

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” - Darlene Love
Album: A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector
Released 1963 video

Through the mid-'60s, Phil Spector was focused on singles, with his definition of an album being “two hits and ten pieces of junk”. He took a different approach, however, when he recorded a Christmas album in 1963, putting a great deal of effort into every track. The only original song on the album was Darlene Love's “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)video, which he wrote with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Spector issued the song as a single when the album came out, but unfortunately this was the same day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. This seriously dampened the holiday mood; the single, as well as the album, were withdrawn.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)video lay dormant throughout the '60s and '70s, but in the '80s, covers and media uses helped introduce the song to a new audience, and radio stations started adding it to their holiday playlists. It eventually became a Christmas classic, but it took decades.

Being an astute businessman, Phil Spector had Darlene Love re-record this song as “Johnny Please Come Homevideo, and released it shortly after Christmas in 1963. The song had the same music and theme, but the lyrics were changed to remove the Christmas references.

Despite the rousing production, the lyric of this song is rather doleful, as the singer can't get into the Christmas spirit without her loved one. Darlene Love, however, calls it “a joyful song”. She said in The New York Times:

“When I'm singing it, I'm telling everybody to come home to their loved ones. I'm inviting families to get back together again. This is the time to do it.”

Spector had previously used Darlene Love as the voice of The Crystals on the songs “He's A Rebelvideo and “He's Sure The Boy I Lovevideo.

In a 2008 interview with Record Collector, Love talked about working with Spector on “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)video:

Phil worked everybody so hard on the album and the days kind of blurred into each other, thinking about it now. But there was a real Christmas party atmosphere in the studio, even though it was the height of summer, and a lot of great musicians were involved. They weren't that well-known at the time but so many of them went on to become famous in their own right, like Leon Russell. Sonny Bono and Cher were involved in a lot of the stuff too, so was Glen Campbell. We worked hard, though, some days we'd be in the studio for eight or nine hours just doing one verse of one song.»

This was used in the movies “Gremlins” (1984), “Goodfellas” (1990), “Bad Santa” (2003), “Christmas with the Kranks” (2004), and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012).

Some of the artists to cover this song include Jon Bon Jovi, Death Cab for Cutie, Mariah Carey, KT Tunstall and Smash Mouth. Cher, who sang backup on the original (she was one of Phil Spector's favorite backup vocalists), also did her own version.

The most popular cover video, however, was recorded by U2 for the 1987 Special Olympics benefit album “A Very Special Christmas”. Organized by Jimmy Iovine, he had Darlene Love do backup vocals on the track. Love was the only backup vocalist - she recorded several tracks which were combined to make her sound like a full section.

Phil Spector is Jewish, but his wife at the time, Ronnie Spector, celebrated Christmas in a big way. Ronnie claims that Phil would come to her house to learn about the holiday and get ideas for his Christmas songs.

Love only sings this around Christmas, since she wants to keep it special. Since the song didn't catch on until decades after it was recorded, she never got sick of singing it.

“I did all those songs while I was a background singer - I never sang those songs in a show”, she said in a Songfacts interview. “So it's great to be doing those songs today, because I haven't been doing these songs since 1964. I didn't start singing these songs until the '80s.”

Darlene Love official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / c / Darlene Love

Image: “A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (album)” by Darlene Love



● HO scale is the most popular size of what?

Answer to Trivia

● In 1923, which president started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony?

Answer to Trivia

● What two colors make the color green?

Answer to Trivia

● What name is given to the area of the sky that is obscured by the Milky Way?

Answer to Trivia


A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING LIST” ($200)

“Byron is dead & Fauntleroy is fictional, but my true love has those 2 & 8 others with this title a-leaping!.”

Answer to Jeopardy READ MORE: Vox

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING LIST” ($400)

“I really don't wanna know where my BFF found the 8 maids a-doing this.”

Answer to Jeopardy READ MORE: Vox

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING LIST” ($600)

“My true love went all out, getting Stewart Copeland, Clem Burke, Ginger Baker & 9 other of these musicians.”

Answer to Jeopardy READ MORE: Vox

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING LIST” ($800)

“Looks like the love of my life got fowl with this trio.”

Answer to Jeopardy READ MORE: Vox

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SHOPPING LIST” ($1,000)

“A couple of these birds that winter in central Africa? Oh, my true love, you shouldn't have! Really. I mean that.”

Answer to Jeopardy READ MORE: Vox

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($200)

“A hammer has a specific striking zone while this tool delivers more even pounding (& works great in croquet).”

● Answer: a Mallet. Home Depot

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($400)

“Used in drafting to measure distances, a divider has 2 sharp points; this similar item has one sharp point & a pencil.”

● Answer: a Compass. GeoGebra.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($600)

“A rasp is a coarser type of this other 4-letter tool.”

● Answer: a File. Lowe's

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($800)

“Generally a screw is driven into a surface while this other threaded item is affixed with a matching nut.”

● Answer: a Bolt. Popular Mechanics

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($1,000)

“This small kind of gardening spade is shaped more like a scoop.”

● Answer: a Trowel. Ace

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“Christmas Jokes”

Q: What do Santa’s elves learn in school?

A: The Elfabet.

Q: What do Santa’s elves drink?

A: Minnesoda.

Q: What does Santa like to do in the garden?

A: Hoe, hoe, hoe!

Q: What is Claustrophobia?

A: The fear of Santa Claus.

Q: What breakfast cereal does Frosty the Snowman eat?

A: Snowflakes.

Q: Where does the snowman hide his money?

A: In the snow bank.

Q: What do you get when you cross a Christmas tree with an apple?

A: A pineapple!

Q: Why does everybody like Frosty the Snowman?

A: Because he is so cool!

Q: What kind of Christmas music do elves like?

A: “Wrap” music.

Q: Which reindeer likes to clean?

A: Comet.

Q: How can Santa deliver presents during a thunderstorm?

A: His sleigh is flown by raindeer.

Q: What do you call a snowman with a six pack?

A: An abdominal snowman.