Back to the Desk's Urban Legend Page


©03 The Media Desk

This article is presented as a public service.
Copy and forward the link to this page at will.

File this one under "Don't Believe Everything You Read In SPAM Emails."

      Why do people insist that something they get in their inbox that has been forwarded umpteen times by everybody and their cousin is true simply because it HAS been forwarded umpteen times by...
      The Desk usually doesn't bother with these things, but after receiving it THREE TIMES from various people that believe this tripe, it went out and looked for the Truth.

      The Desk went to the SOURCE for this one. The US Navy Historical Center. [] And they are supposed to know things like this. In fact, they do.
      Under their Frequently Asked Questions Page, they have a bit on ye olde cold brass monkey. As for the brass plate with holes in it for the shot "This explanation appears to be a legend of the sea without historical justification."

      Another bit of cuteness and wishful thinking, although this one is harmless, goes down in front of the cannonfire of Facts.

      The SPAMMERS "fabulous bit of little-known historical knowledge" turns out to be .....

Oh Well....

Quote of SPAM
From: "Edith J. Koeneman" To: almost everybody SPAMMED: Friday, January 24, 2003 4:27 PM

I thought this bit of trivia was appropriate for the weather we are having.

Subject: Cannon Balls
    In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannon fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck?
    The best storage method devised was a square based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon.
    There was only one problem -- how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others.
    The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with 16 round indentations. But if this plate was made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys."
    Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would be forced off the Monkey as the "Monkey" squeezed the balls.
    Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a Brass monkey!" (And all this time, you thought that was an improper expression , didn't you?)
    You must send this fabulous bit of little-known historical knowledge to at least ten friends. If you don't, your floppy is going to fall off your hard drive and kill your mouse.

Back to the Desk's Urban Legend Page