Sunday, July 10, 2011


What's a "poop" deck? How did it get its name? asked Carol Herman in a comment back here.

Etymology has long been a hobby of mine so I looked up the origin of the term in the trusty online OED of Etymology:
"stern deck of a ship," c.1400, from M.Fr. poupe "stern of a ship," from It. poppa, from L. puppis "poop, stern," of uncertain origin. Poop deck attested by 1779. link

I found this word origin quite unsatisfying if not incomplete. I recalled a discussion once with my Dutch father-in-law. We were chatting about ships and he translated poop deck as something that resonated with poop deck but which I promptly forgot.

*looks up term*

The Dutch term for "poop deck" is kak dek. Now isn't that strange--the Dutch slang term for feces is kak* which seems to suggest that the "poop" in poop deck should have a more vulgar origin than let on by the OED.

* cf. the origin of the term "poppycock" 1865, probably from Du. dialect pappekak, from M.Du. pappe "soft dung" (see pap) + kak "dung," from L. cacare "to excrete." link


  1. Well, if you're gonna take a shit, the best place to do it would be over the stern. That way, it couldn't fly back up and hit you in the face. Or land back on deck.

    Kak ... Is in KaKa. Which we ask babies to do ... when we think we are toilet training them.

    And, I heard "KaKa" because my parents spoke Yiddish. Which is a derivative of German.

    Okay. Next question.

    What's a hurricane deck?

    Does it mean it's high up and flies off, perhaps, in a storm? A slamming wave carries much force.

    Is this as much fun for you as it is for me?

  2. I don't think I've heard the term "hurricane deck" since I was kid when I used to build plastic model ships. I recall buiding a riverboat steamer with a "hurricane deck."

    Here, I just googled up one from my past, the Robert E. Lee. See page 5 of the instructions for building the hurricane deck.

    "Hurricane Deck" sounds like a good name for a tropical drink- maybe rum based. To be honest, I have no idea where the word came from. The Dutch term is Orkaan Dek and the Italians call it a ponte urgano. The word hurricane appears to be quite interesting in its own right.

    Is this as much fun for you as it is for me?

    I'm lovin' it!

    1. As I understand the origin of the word "hurricane," it is derived from "huracan," the Carib Indian god of evil. BUt I't can't swear to that.

  3. Notice that the Lee also had a "Texas Cabin" or a Salon deck. See "section 8" (am I crazy?) of the instructions.

    I wonder of Mr. Twain could shed some light on these riverboat terms.

  4. Tom Sawyer! Mark Twain does!

    And, I'm listening to Tom Sawyer, as recorded by Grover Gardener. Turns out he delivers one of my favorite books on tape voices.

    Mark Twain has his characters running around the hurricane deck. Which got me to thinking.

    Which is, by and large, very dangerous.

    Back to the Missouri, though. There's another larger ship parked by its side. It never becomes as famous as the Missouri.

    Couldn't have the signing of the surrender ... without the real show of muscle. Parked alongside.

    Plus, I LOVED American Caesar. The Douglas MacArthur story writ large.

  5. Welcome back to mainland!

    The hurricane deck was the uppermost deck. It provided a pleasant, breezy place to watch the passing scenery...They came to call it the "hurricane deck" because it afforded quite a view of the river, and the wind always seemed to blow there.

    Whether the above description is true or not, I'm thinking "The Hurricane Deck" might be a good name for a blog.

    A wave to Carol_Herman too, whose presence here proves just how far the long needle of the internet can reach.

  6. Plus, I LOVED American Caesar. The Douglas MacArthur story writ large.

    I should read it because I've liked the three Manchester books I've read: The Glory And The Dream, A World Lit Only By Fire, and The Arms Of Krupp. The latter was a book my mother had for some reason. I read it as a teen. Later when I lived in Europe, I met a scion of Krupp family. He was astonished by how much I knew about his family. He also disliked Manchester's treatment of his father in the book. I wrote a bit about this back here in a footnote without discussing the actual issues.

    I quoted a whole passage of Manchester on Robert Taft here.

    I've never read his books on Churchill (I heard the final volume was due out, posthumously). I also never read his book on JFK. Have you?

  7. "The Death of a President." 1967. Manchester's book doesn't stand out. By then, since I was a fan of Mort Sahl. I pretty much was making fun of the Warren Report. And, I knew our government had gone after Mort Sahl. Ruining his outstanding comic career.

    I've read so much on Churchill, that I'm going to check Amazon, again. (I loved the FDR Churchill combo. Even Doris Kearns Goodwin's stuff. But I've come to understand these men weren't friends. Just thrown together by the circumstances of history. And, Churchill knew he had writing talents. So he "told stories" his way.)

    Now, since I've gone "in depth" with Mark Twain. Listening to his autobiography ... that came out 100 years after his death ... I know Twain didn't think he ever told the truth. That none of us do. Some of us are just more expert at telling believable stories. As we remember them.

    You know, I remember back, easily to 1952. I was just a kid, then. And, my family was so pro-Stevenson. I thought he stood a chance against Eisenhower. But you are right. Taft tried to grab the republican nomination. And, couldn't.

    Some American families are way more powerful than they should be. (And, for this reason I cannot stand Mitt Romney!) I've had enough of "families" already. We were supposed to be a nation that eschewed aristocracy.

    And, yet. For the life of me I still cannot fathom how Richard Nixon ever opened the door to his political opportunities.

    Is luck a player at this table?

  8. "The Last Lion" ... loved the two volumes I've read. (And, kept. I just don't throw books away.)

    But I just went to Amazon. And, they're not reporting that a 3rd volume (alas posthumously), is even expected to come out.

  9. I saw a news blurb a couple months ago with an expected release date for the third. I can't find the article now.

  10. Back to the Missouri, though. There's another larger ship parked by its side. It never becomes as famous as the Missouri.

    I'm looking for an aerial photo of the ships present in Tokyo Bay for the surrender. They're listed here. Any names ring a bell?

  11. Here's a photo of a smaller ship along side the Missouri and a description that would warm the cockles of Trooper York's heart:

    Approaching O Shima Island, the "Mighty Mo" prepared to train her untrusting guns on it to port, but with the Nicholas coming alongside to starboard, most of her 2,500-man crew took positions on that side to watch. Aircraft circled overhead, filming, and a correspondent in the Nicholas likened the scene to Yankee Stadium on a summer afternoon with Admiral Halsey visible in the crowd, wearing his baseball-style cap.

  12. Here's the best I can do Carol. I can't tell from this newsreel if the Missouri was the biggest ship around but is certainly wasn't obviously dwarfed by anything. Good video of MacArthur.

  13. Althouse "Men-in-shorts" alert at in the above linked video at 6 min 40 secs.

  14. Fantastic video.

    General Douglas MacAthur will be remember as the best of the best. (Saved by Churchill. Who asked FDR to save him from Manila. And, get him pronto-tonto to Australia. Or Australia would be lost to the Japanese.)

    Also, as I said, (because I read Manchester's AMERICAN CAESAR) ... that General Douglas MacArthur FORBADE anyone to wear their side-arm pistol. And, as I said, I remember him telling Admiral Halsey he would PERSONALLY TOSS HIM OVERBOARD if he disobeyed the command. In a more perfect world, we would have gotten General Douglas MacArthur as president, back in 1948. But the stupid party crapped in its pants.

    And, an opportunity we should have had, was lost forever.

    But not to the Japanese! It took General Douglas MacArthur's LIVING IN TOKYO FOR FIVE YEARS! To remove the cancerous system that had placed the average Japanese in confinement! Though 700 years!

    Alas, those types of stinkers are back, again. And, in charge. As you'd notice how the current state of affairs in Japan attests. A wholly unnecessary nuclear holocaust. With lies, victimizing its citizens, yet again.

    I think, though, that your average Japanese school kid learns about the great and heroic General Douglas MacArthur. While, here, do our kids learn anything?

  15. OK, you've convinced me I should read "American Caesar"

  16. The heads are at the head of the ship.

  17. Oh, yeah. There was a SHOW OF FORCE off of Tokyo! It wasn't the Missour, standing alone.

    And, in your video, where MacArthur arrives ... he's coming to the ship that headquartered (is that the right word?) Halsey.

    If that was where Halsey was housed ... where, pray tell, was MacArthur housed?

    From the video, MacArthur arrives by "skiff." Surely, that's odd. He didn't come all the way from Hawaii ... or the Pentagon, by "skiff" did he?

    It's very interesting how the film captures the Missouri for the Newsreel audiences of that day! (They used to feature Newsreels at Broadway movie theaters ... without showing anything else. That was the attraction!

    It's almost as if someone from Hollywood came out ... and scripted the surrender.

    But, believe me, Tokyo understood that if anything funny happened ... it would be worse than Doolittle's Raid. The Japanese probably thought they'd be evaporated.

    Must have been something ... given the array of all the signers for the allies. (The french were last in line.)

    So, besides a SHOW OF FORCE ... there had to be a "show of hotels." Everyone had to get there by ship.

    The planes overhead? Also arrived on aircraft carriers.

    Just the logistics!

    So, no. The Missouri wasn't big enough all by itself.

    And, as I said, MacArthur FORBADE anyone from wearing a pistol on his belt. Yet everyone's wearing a hat.

    MacArthur sure knew how to stage EVERYTHING! What a commander!

  18. If that was where Halsey was housed ... where, pray tell, was MacArthur housed?

    MacArthur was Army so technically he didn't have a ship. Nimitz and Halsey each had a carrier, but I don't think we risked sailing a carrier into Tokyo Bay.

    Your take on MacArthur is fascinating Carol. I can't wait to read the Manchester book. I'm a bit backed up with other books but I will do!

  19. MacArthur was born in 1880. In your video clip, from 1945, he was 65 years old! Does he look like a day over 45 to you?

    The other thing I'd suggest, because I'm a big fan of Audio books ... (and I saw at Amazon that it is available ... with a "FREE" thing on some sort of system I don't even own.) But it's unabridged!

    I listen in my car. It substitutes for my radio. It has a CD player. And, a tape player. As part of Volkswagon's set up.

    I've heard ALL of Mark Twain's recent autobiography ... that was held back from publication by 100 years. (His will said so.)

    Finished that ... And, bought the Tom Sawyer TRIOLOGY. Yes, even though I remember the "famous fence painting whitewash" ... I had completely forgotten about Injun Joe. And, the treasure. And, only vaguely remembered Becky Thatcher.

    Yes, I've also got lots of piles of books still to be read. (And, I'm reading Sex, Mom, & God. By Frank Schaeffer. (I have an easy-read book-stand that collapses into a pencil case. And, when I go out to eat ... I can eat without having to use my hands to hold my book up.)

    Sex, Mom, & God is so good ... I can't wait to give it to my son. Who, like you, always claims "I've got piles of books to read."

    So little time.

  20. Thank You Carol_Herman! I just ordered up the Schaeffer book. His parent's books were on my parent's book shelf and figure into some of the positives and negatives of my own faith journey. I'm wondering if the clever bird, El Pollo, might consider doing some kind of open book post every now and then, sort of like the AA Cafe, where books recently read could be trotted out and talked about.

  21. I'm wondering if the clever bird, El Pollo, might consider doing some kind of open book post every now and then, sort of like the AA Cafe, where books recently read could be trotted out and talked about.

    Great idea, but finding commonality might be a problem. My three last reads were "Skydog, The Duane Allman Story" by Randy Poe, "The Secret Knowledge" by David Mamet, and "Enough For One Lifetime" by Matthew Hermes. I haven't quite finished the latter.

    Speaking of AA, how come she never read or blogged about Mamet's book? Lots to critique and very topical IMO.

  22. I just ordered up the Schaeffer book...

    Schaeffer is a wonderful old German name meaning "sheppard."

  23. You're gonna love this one! Frank Schaeffer was raised in Switzerland. Where his parents spoke no other language other than English! Theirs was an evangelical calling. And, he does a great riff of growing up in a home, with a dad that became famous in American Evangelical circles. And, he refers right off the bat to "The-God-of-the-Bible" ... as if all the words are true and literal.

    This isn't Frank Schaeffer's first book. He's been mining his upbringing through a few others.

    If I go back for more, I'll look into Portofino. That's where the family traveled by train, to have their summer vacations.

  24. What? You're reading Mamet? (I've got it here. Started it. But then switched to Sex, Mom & God. Just so much better. (That's what happens when I open a front cover.)

    I've also got Breitbart's book on tape. It will go in when I finish listening to Tom Sawyer.

  25. What I enjoy most is the ease and comfort of a semi-predictable setting, (like a hurricane deck), where the wind blows and unpredictable connections and awareness happen.

    The post on Carothers sparked a number of thoughts in me, and a conversation on genius with my family. Sometimes the commonality is random and beyond original intention.

  26. AA? I always thought AA was Alcoholics Anonymous.