Semper Fib: All-bogus military trivia from Style Invitational Week 1132

Someone told you that the Civil War WASN’T about whether chili should
have beans? You mustn’t be from Texas. Larry McClemons’s runner-up
fictoid. (Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
By Pat Myers August 6 feedback for 'Semper Fib: All-bogus military trivia from Style
Invitational Week 1132'>


(No new contest this week. Click here to skip down <#report> for the
details, such as they are.)

REPORT FROM WEEK 1132: *In Week 1132,* in yet another attempt to bring the full, unvarnished
untruth to our readers, we asked for bogus trivia about the military,
past or present, domestic or foreign.

A disturbing number of entrants,
however, decided instead to supply their favorite old saws from their
Army days, or send in sexist, xenophobic “humor” so lame and archaic
that it made “Beetle Bailey” seem like “Saturday Morning Breakfast
Cereal.” A sizable fraction of the rest
made a peepee joke about Waterloo. But as always, we’re able to muster a
scrappy battalion of inkworthy entries.

4th place:

Despite accusations of less noble aims, the Civil War was actually
caused by conflicts over regionalism, states' rights and whether chili
should include beans. — Board of Education, State of Texas (Larry
McClemons, Annandale, Va.)

3rd place:

Two decorated pairs of brothers — Thomas and Ernest Hall, who fought in
the Mexican-American War, and Billy and Eddy Shore, who saw battle in
the First Barbary War — are memorialized in the Marines’ Hymn.
Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

If you’ve already won an Inkin’ Memorial but were too late for the
Inker, you might want to opt for one of these regifted guys. You still
have to win the contest, though. (Pat Myers/The Washington Post)
2nd place and

the Pee & Poo stuffed toys

Union Gen. George McClellan was unable to mount an assault on Richmond
because of a huge tactical error: He attempted to move south from
Washington through Fairfax County on a Friday evening. (Nan Reiner,
Alexandria, Va.)

And the winner of the Inkin’ Memorial

The Congressional Medal of Honor — awarded for gallantry, bravery and
willingness to risk personal well-being for the sake of the greater good
— was originally intended to be given /to/ members of Congress. They
figured out the problem pretty quick, though. (Danielle Nowlin, Fairfax
Station, Va.)

DODgy stories: honorable mentions

Before Greek soldiers fought at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., they
had to qualify at the Battle of 10K. (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)

Freshmen at the U.S. Naval Academy are called plebes — short for
plebeians — to reflect their lower status. However, the practice of
calling seniors patricias — short for patricians — never caught on. (Amy
Harris, Charlottesville, Va.)

At Appomattox, Robert E. Lee said to Ulysses S. Grant, “You, General,
may have won the war, but I bet you a thousand dollars that in 50 years,
I will have way more stuff named after me than you have.” In 1915
Grant’s descendants paid off the bet with Confederate dollars. (Kel
Nagel, Salisbury, Md.)

Not a single rose died in the War of the Roses. (Richard Lempert,
Arlington, Va.)

Following the order ofGen. Israel Putnam
Revolutionary soldiers did not fire until British troops were well up
Bunker Hill because so many of the Redcoats had contracted
conjunctivitis. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

When the War Department contracted with a food supplier to supply
packaged meals for combat troops, the company used existing stock but
changed the packaging from “Ken-L Ration” to “K-ration.” (Steve Price,
New York)

The word “khaki” comes from the Urdu language, in which it means “always
wrinkled.” (Larry McClemons)

The pejorative term “surrender monkey” comes from the French sur rentrer
manqué (“lack of return”) and refers to soldiers who mysteriously vanish
in battle. (Chris Doyle)

The Swiss Army fights with knives. (John O’Byrne, Dublin)

In response to reports of “Potemkin villages” in Stalinist Russia, the
U.S. Army developed a plywood-seeking missile. (Larry McClemons)

The architect of the Air Force Memorial
said the design came to him
while he was pulling McDonald’s french fries out of the bag. (Drew Bennett)

To the dismay of the more conservative members of Congress, the USS
Constitution has been repaired 27 times. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Generals on both sides of the Civil War were remarkably sensitive to the
need for sanitary facilities for their soldiers, as well as the need for
well-cleared areas to park the many wagons that accompanied their
battalions. This explains why so many Civil War battles were fought at
national parks. (John Baniszewski, Columbia, Md., a First Offender)

The Defense Intelligence Agency softball team is the Rheas. (Jeff
Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

Following the disastrous “Charge of the Light Brigade” in the Crimean
War, Lord Cardigan was removed from command of the disarmed brigade, and
replaced by Lord Sweatervest. (Larry McClemons)

USMA stands for “use scores of mystifying acronyms.” (Jeff Hazle,
Woodbridge, Va.)

During the Siege of Jerusalem in 1099, the defenders ran out of boiling
oil to repel the Crusaders, so they switched to boiling vinegar. The
tactic failed because vinegar boils at the temperature of a medium-hot
shower. (Mike Gips)

The uniform ribbons worn on the chest are called “fruit salad” because
each one provides 10 calories of emergency nourishment if held on the
tongue for 60 seconds. (Ellen Ryan, Rockville, Md.)

The original World War II plans for the War Department’s headquarters
called for a rectangular building, but congressional hawks insisted that
it have an extra side. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

The “Pentagon” actually has an unseen sixth side: That’s where stealth
soldiers are designed. (Al Fisher, Rockville, Md.)

During an inspection, Naval Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Lyndon Johnson was
photographed picking up a sailor by the ears. (Kevin Dopart)

William Jefferson Blythe Sr., the grandfather of Bill Clinton, survived
a deadly mustard gas attack in World War I because he managed not to
inhale. (Frank Mann, Washington)

Military aircrafttoilet seats from the 1980s
now available on eBay for $6.40 each. (Kevin Dopart)

By 2000 B.C., the Sumerians had mostly given up using copper for weapons
— not because it did not hold an edge, but because thieves kept selling
the spears to scrap dealers. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)

/And Last:/ The creation of the rank of “rear admiral (lower half)” was
originally an entry by a deputy assistant secretary of the Navy

in a humor contest. It was accidentally forwarded to the secretary of
defense — and approved. (Jeff Contompasis)

But not the horse they Rodin on

Before the Inkin’ Memorial, there was the Inker — which was half a pair
of “Thinker” bookends with a paper bag (labeled “Winning Loser”) to
cover its shamed head. Inkers were given to first-place winners from
2004 to 2012. (Before 2004, during the Czarist era, the winner got the
gag prize that now goes to the second-place finisher.) Last week,
Bigshot Loser Christopher Lamora, who’s getting ready to move, regifted
his six Inkers (pictured above and here
back to the Empress; future winners may opt for one of these until
they’re gone.

At ease ...

It’s August. Give that little brain of yours a rest. Or ...

Four weeks from now, the Empress will be spending a few days surveying
her overseas dominions (and marrying off the Little Prince). And so for
that week, she’ll be putting together an Invitational that can be
finished in advance — probably featuring sundry Great Stuff That Was
Robbed of Ink Some Time Ago. To keep the other weeks’ contests on
schedule, there’s no new contest this week: You and your fellow Losers
get a week off to dust off your cranial synapses, write cranky letters
to the editor, think of limericks featuring words beginning with ga-,
whatever it is you people do.

The headline for this week’s results is by Tom
Witte; the honorable-mentions subhead is by Jeff Contompasis. Join the
lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at /
./ “Like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day
on Facebook at / /

*The Style Conversational: *The Empress’s weekly online column discusses
each new contest and set of results. Especially if you plan to enter,
check it out at

*Still running — deadline Monday night, Aug. 10: our contest to cite
situations that need a time limit. See