A blog of trivial facts and nothing news

A New Way to Stop Somali Pirates

How do you stop Somali Pirates from attacking your boat? The secret weapon reported by World Magazine and the British Navy is Brittney Spears. British merchant navy captains have been blaring Spears hits like “Oops! I Did It Again” and “Baby One More Time” out to sea. The reports state that Brittney Spears songs have driven off Somali pirates attempting to board British ships on several occasions. The songs were hand picked by security because they thought the pirates would hate them the most and evidently it is working. Thank you Brittney for protecting Her Majesty’s Ships.

JFK and Vaughn Meader

November 22nd 1963 was a sad day for the United States of America. Most us remember that as the day of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I can remember some of what happened but I was just a little kid back then. But I do remember listening to a record called the “First Family” which was a really funny  album poking fun of the Kennedy family in the hay days of Camelot. The album was made to  have fun with the Presidential family and all their little idiosyncrasies.  The record was produced  by comedian Vaughn Meader. He originally started off as a musician but in the early sixty’s when John F. Kennedy was president and very popular Meader begin impersonating  him. He was able to duplicate JFK’s Boston accent and his gestures making him a popular impersonator across the U.S. It was at this time he cut the “First Family” album which if you are from the sixty’s you would enjoy listing to on youtube. It is said that the Kennedy’s weren’t exactly pleased with the album but the work that Vaughn did was not as cutting as today’s comedy. However, Vaughn’s career came to a grinding halt on November 22nd 1963. When Kennedy died so died his impersonation. It was to hard for the American public  to poke fun of their dead president. So Vaughn Meader’s career took a downward turn and eventually he went back to his music and moved back to his home state of Maine. He passed away in 2004. It is fascinating to realize how the Kennedy assassination affected so many people in so many ways.

I Missed the Sinking of the Fitz

I want to apologize to those of you who rely on my trivia. I missed an important date, November 10th 1975, that was the day of the wreck of the Edmund’s Fitzgerald. The Edmund Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin on November 9th headed for a steel mill near Detroit, Michigan. As the Fitz crossed Lake Superior she joined the Arthur M. Anderson and by the next day both ships found themselves in a sever winter storm of hurricane proportions with waves as high as 35ft. The Captain of the Fitz, Ernest McSorley reported some problems but said they were holding their own. At around 7:10 pm the Fitz’s lights went out and sight as the Anderson lost radar contact with her. She sank quickly with no distress signals at all. All 29 of her crew perished in a matter of minutes if not seconds. There are a varity of opinions to why she sank it could have been structural failure, she could have been swamped by waves or she might have ripped out her bottom on some shoals what we do know is she went down in what is probably one of the most famous shipping wrecks in our life time. So here’s to the Edmund Fitzgerald and her crew sorry boys I was a bit late but we still remember.

Watch the song on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vST6hVRj2A

First Naval Battle of Guadacanal




A  large naval battle occurred in the early morning hours of November 13th 1942. A force of 2 Japanese battleships, a light cruiser and 11 destroyers collided with an American naval force of two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers and eight destroyers. In what can only be described as a close in confused knife fight the Americans managed to turn the Japanese back but at a great loss of men and ships. That battle was fought a point blank range as the ships passed each other broadside to broadside. The Japanese did have the advantage of being better trained in night fighting but because of the melee it took its toll on both sides. In forty minutes the Americans lost 1 light cruiser, 4 destroyers with five other ships heavily damaged. The Japanese lost one battleship and 2 destroyers.  Both sides limped away form each other only to have another go at each other the following night.

If you want a couple of good books try;

Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13-15, 1942 by Hammel, Eric

Japanese Destroyer Captain: Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway – The Great Naval Battles as Seen Through Japanese… by Hara, Tameichi, Saito, Fred and Pineau, Roger

Where Doth My Sandwich Come From

I occasionally eat a peanut butter sandwich or a jelly sandwich, I may even do a chicken sandwich but it was my daughters history of the sandwich which has lead to my blog. I knew for instance that the sandwich was named after the Earl of Sandwich. But the rest of the story is what I want to ramble about. The fourth Earl of Sandwich (born John Montagu), is the British statesman whose name is forever linked to our  lunchtime meal.  But what you may not know is the foundations of this food can be traced back to the Arabs. It seems that they stuffed meat inside their pita bread way before the Earl came up with the idea, Nevertheless his name is forever linked to the sandwich. What would we have called the Arab version anyhow?

The Earl  may not have been the first to eat meat between two slices of bread, but he did give it his name and he did it while playing poker. It’s true! Late at night around Nov. 3, 1762, the Earl was deep into a marathon poker game.  The Earl couldn’t be bothered to leave the gaming table even though he was hungry. So he asked a servant to bring him a piece of meat — stuffed between two slices of toast so he wouldn’t smear food on his cards.  From this little incident, we have inherited that quick-food product that we call the sandwich. 

In a rather strange twist of fate I have realized that the sandwich and I have something in common. We both came into being on the same date November the 3rd. (A special thanks to the inspiration for many of my blogs my daughter Hannah.)

It Ain’t Rocket Science

This is probably one of my favorite sayings especially with my children when the answer to their homework is easy. But if your like me you probably want to know where the saying “It’s not rocket science” came from. Well it is home grown made in America.  It started when America was one of the first countries to adopt a  program for the development of rocket science. The first group of people who were widely known as rocket scientists were German military technologists. After World War 2 some of these scientists were transported to the USA, the UK and the USSR. By 1950, rocket science was generally accepted as being intellectually challenging and outside the capabilities of your average man on the street. Evidently that thought continued for many years  and in the 1980’s the term “not rocket science”appears to have came into vogue concerning  football. As an example, this piece from a sports report in the Pennsylvania newspaper The Daily Intelligencer, December 1985: “Coaching football is not rocket science and it’s not brain surgery. It’s a game, nothing more.” So there you have it the research for this blog wasn’t rocket science either.

Linda Ronstadt





Who didn’t like Linda Ronstadt back in the 1970’s? That woman could sing, I remember listening to her when I as a young man of seventeen. I can still remember her belting out “You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good, Baby, you’re no good ” But that isn’t my point. This young lady had a great depth of  talent. One of Ronstadt’s first early musical influences was Mexican songs that her father taught her and her siblings. Before her career was over she would go back to those roots. She eventually went to college and  ended up performing with the Stone Ponies. By the end of the 1960’s, Ronstadt had become a solo act producing several albums before landing on the charts with Heart Like a Wheel in 1974. The album had several hits, including “You’re No Good” and “When Will I Be Loved.” The recording went platinum selling more than one million copies. Ronstadt quickly became one of the great musical superstars of the 1970’s. It was in the later 70’s when I heard her on the radio.  Looking back on those days I thought she was younger rather then being in her late 20’s. Linda Ronstadt  proved to be more than just a girl rocker.  She has been called the most versatile singer of her generation, a talent who could master rock and country and mariachi. In the 1980’s, Ronstadt tried her hand at pop standards and she also went back to her Hispanic heritage  by recording a Spanish-language album, Canciones de Mi Padre(1987), which was filled with traditional Mexican songs like the ones her father loved. I had just heard her song “You’re no good” on the radio recently and I was surprised to hear that she had Parkinson’s disease and she had lost her singing voice. Although we cannot condone everything she may have done in the past you still have to tip your hat to her for her talent and ability.

October History (Yom Kippur)

I have another installment for Ramblings and this month begins with the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. It was October 6 1973 when Israel ended up in a war with Egypt and Syria. Both of these countries were supplied and assisted by other Arab allies. Egypt and Syria  opened up a two front war which put Israel in crisis for almost twenty one days. The war began when the Arab coalition launched a joint surprise attack on Israeli positions in the Israeli-occupied territories of the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. The Arabs attacked on Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement the holiest day of prayer and fasting in the Jewish calendar knowing that the military of Israel would be participating in the religious celebrations associated with Yom Kippur.  

The Egyptians launched a successful crossing of the Suez Canal, and their forces advanced virtually unopposed into the Sinai Peninsula. They moved up to 15 miles inland of the most advanced Israeli troops in the Sinai. Meanwhile the Syrians coordinated their attack in the north at the Golan Heights and made major gains into Israeli-held territory. By the end of October 7th, the military signs were ominous for Israel.

After three days, Israel mobilized its reserve forces and managed to halt the Egyptian offensive, settling into a virtual stalemate. Israeli forces in the north managed to push the Syrians back to the pre-war ceasefire lines. They then launched a four-day counter-offensive and within a week, Israeli artillery was shelling the outskirts of Damascus.  

 Egyptian president Anwar Sadat started to worry about his ally Syria, so he ordered the Egyptians to go back on the offensive but the Israelis quickly repulsed the attack and counterattacked at the seam between two Egyptian armies. They crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, and began advancing southward and westward towards Cairo suffering heavy casualties on both sides.

By October 24, the Israelis improved their positions and encircled Egypt’s Third Army and the city of Suez. This development led to tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union which brought a ceasefire October 25 to end the war.

In one sense Yom Kippur was like Pearl Harbor to Israel. They were caught napping and suffered a heavy price but like the U.S. they rallied and managed to take the offensive and gain the upper hand.

Wag the Dog

Wag the Dog is an expression that I heard some years ago when President Clinton was in office. I can’t remember the exact details but I know someone felt he was wagging the dog to keep peoples attention off the more major issues. Wag the Dog was also a movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro

I know your asking yourself so what does it mean. I’m glad you asked simply put “To ‘wag the dog’ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance to focus attention to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.” (UsingEnglish.com) So to wag the dog I take what is an important event such as “the government is spying on citizens” and I divert your attention to a lesser event like “they dumped several million tons of waste water into Lake Michigan. I then get you to think “isn’t that outrageous think what it may do to our environment and now the children will not be able to swim in the lake during the hot summer months.” I have just wagged the dog.  I took something of lesser value and made it the key event.  It is an easy concept to understand and what is worse people use it. We all of us are probably of a little dog wagging. Just another trivial factoid for you have a great day.

Joshua Don’t Chew Your Pop Tart Into A Gun???

Ok this story comes from World Magazine June 29th edition. Joshua Welch is eating his pop tart in school on March 1st when he decides to carve it into a mountain with his teeth. So far so good but a nanny state teacher thought she saw a gun. (seriously the kids chewing a pop tart into the shape of a mountain and you thought you saw the shape of a gun?) Because of the Baltimore schools zero gun tolerance rule  little 7 year old Joshua caught a two day suspension. Bad Joshua! However, there is a good side on May 29th state lawmaker Nicholaus Kipke presented Joshua with a lifetime membership in the NRA. Way to go teach you just made little Joshua a card carrying member of the NRA! 

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