Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saltpeter In The Food

I know I'm probably going to regret posting this, but Stars and Stripes went to the trouble to ask the military services about the age-old rumor that the military puts saltpeter in the food at boot camps. As expected, the answer is "no". (It's the same answer I got when I was in boot camp, as I asked the question due to the "change" I noted in my normal biological processes, particularly when I woke up. As it turns out, I "returned to normal" during the last week of boot camp, when the pressure let up a little bit.)

Off topic, can I ask again for a little more civility in the comments in general? We just lost another long-time commenter due to general dickishness of a few other commenters. I try my best not to delete too many comments, but honestly, it seems like we could disagree with people's opinions without going after them personally. Thank you.

Update 0757 17 Jun: Also, here's a link to some quizzes from the Military Channel; I got 10/10 on the submarine one (which I expect most readers here could duplicate, as long as you don't overthink the anechoic coating question).


Anonymous 3383 said...

I never thought anything was used; it was just the conditions. But there were ricks who swore it was true.

6/17/2010 8:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boot camp does weird things to you....I swear that not a single person in my boot camp company took a crap for the first week or so.

6/17/2010 8:49 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleted a couple of comments.

6/17/2010 9:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you deleted my "Get a thicker skin" comment. Seriously. And if you don't want something commented on (like the loss of a "long-time poster" then don't mention it. We really didn't need to know what your justification was for asking for more civility.

6/17/2010 9:16 AM

Anonymous Porcupine Picayune said...

Worked a week in the Mess Hall during Boot @ Great Mistakes and saw zero evidence of saltpeter.

Though at 17 years old, it would have taken elephant tranquilizers...

6/17/2010 9:46 AM

Anonymous PigBoatSailor said...

Anon @ 9:16

By a similar token, if you don't like your comments being at Joel's discretion for retention/deletion, go elsewhere. This is his house, if he finds something inappropriate, he gets to delete it - and he likes having civil discourse. Civil by his standards, not yours.

6/17/2010 9:49 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

When I was a Company Commander, I had parents ask me about that rumour. Based on what I saw during that tour, I can say with absolute certainty that no saltpeter was added to food.

I'm glad you're taking a stand on civility here. I understand spirited debate and it can get a little heated, but personal attacks are way, way over the line. Ideas can be debated without resorting to "Oh yeah? Well you're a _______!

6/17/2010 9:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


My comment was completely civil, did you read it before Joel deleted it? (The one after mine, however, was ridiculously stupid.)

If the sentence "Cry me a river" qualifies as uncivil, the setpoint is too low IMO.

6/17/2010 10:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering that I turned 18 just prior to bootcamp and was awakened a couple of times by nocturnal emissions, I would have to say no saltpeter was used.

6/17/2010 10:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing Child's Bath Toy got his crusty old feelings hurt when several comments were added related to his incessant name dropping.

6/17/2010 10:14 AM

Anonymous Ready for a pc vaca said...

I think the civility line needs to be drawn at a directly derogatory reference to someone else themselves, but their opinion and commentary need to remain fair game.

My guess is that we lost the Duck over my reference to "PC assclown" _commentary_...not the Duck himself. Had I used the 'PC (A-word') as a direct label of the Duck himself, that would have crossed the line.

It's a fine line, but an important one. If we can't attack someone's opinions, then the blog is useless.

Would definitely agree with Joel that we shouldn't attack the man himself (any man...or woman), ...but ideas and opinions are absolutely fair game.

BTW, a key sign of a dictatorial mindset is that they can't abide by any kind of humor made at their expense. Just sayin'.

6/17/2010 10:19 AM

Anonymous Ready for a PC vaca said...

Oh, BTW: said Duck was not so carefully distinguishing when it comes to name-calling and personal attacks.

Behavior-wise, it was/is his default setting, in fact, whenever sufficiently provoked.

6/17/2010 10:54 AM

Blogger Old Salt said...

I must suck. Only got an 8 on the sub quiz, and even lower on the nuc quiz.

BTW, I agree with Pigboat. If you don't like Joel's rules, roll to the next blog.

6/17/2010 12:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 10:00
Comment after yours stupid??? No way. We all like the duck. I call him by his first name Rubber. That is how we roll. He calls me Ernie.

6/17/2010 12:40 PM

Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

I received a 7/7 on the Sonar quiz and a 9/10 on the Sub quiz. I missed #2 on the Hunley.

As for the fear of waking up with morning wood in front of 80+ other guys, I don't remember that happening with any of us (not like we were looking either). But, at the age of 17, I do remember it was a fear in the back of my mind.

When I woke up at 0dark30 I was only worried about getting my immediate bio area squared away as to not incur the wrath of the RDCs. Mass punishment was typically used when one of us wasn't moving quick enough or displayed a shitty attitude because he woke up and was on the first day of his period. Waking up with a hard-on was the least of our worries.

Now Gents, here's another BS tale I remember which is similar to the saltpeter speculations...During a five day P week, when we stood in line and received all the shots and inoculations with those fucking pressure guns, we were told one of the shots was meant to keep us somewhat docile in order to maintain discipline and to break us down and build us back up.

Well of course, the reality of it was what we experienced during P week and the first week after we "boarded the ship." We were all so disoriented and tired & sore, the last thing in the world on my mind was lashing out at anyone.

I don't think I started waking up with morning wood again until I was in A school. I've always thought the Saltpeter story was funny. Since it is made up of a chemical compound of Potassium Nitrate, there is also such a thing of too much Potassium in one's system and that ain't a good thing...ever heard of dialysis?

Sometimes it's amazing and funny how much crazy shit we're lead to believe.

6/17/2010 4:48 PM

Anonymous TsarBombaFTMFW said...

Re: saltpeter, I still believe there was something in the food. No evidence, just an assumption based on physiological differences during those two months.

Re: civility, is it safe to say that duck's ideas and comments made him seem like a bit of a dick? I'm not attacking him personally, I'm just noting an observation. He won't be missed, and I'm sure that those who served under his command way back in the day don't miss him either.

6/17/2010 5:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a little wary of some of these quiz questions. I mean, active v. passive sonar is easy enough, but questions like "What is the frequency response of the spherical array on a Virgina class?" seem a little weird to me.

6/17/2010 5:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off-topic: if anyone else that's mechanically inclined, sub "nuke" or otherwise, is wondering what in the heck is stopping them from simply capping off the oilwell blowout in the gulf, read this.

Caution: this info is not a happy pill, for sure.

6/17/2010 6:36 PM

Blogger jamason56 said...

Subs: 9/10 - missed CSA Hunley
Carriers: 3/10 - Ouch
Navy: 6/10 - Highest rank in navy? They must have meant during war time.
Sonar: 7/7 - I didn't have a question specifically about the Virginia. I wonder if there are random questions?
NUC: 5/8 - Tricked me on woman being allowed on subs. Of course I have a one-track mind on that issue at this time .

As for blog protocol/etiquette/whatever, I agree that it is Joel's blog and he can run it any way he deems fit. My personal opinion is that he runs the best submarine blog in the world. I'm not sure which blogger is the subject of this issue... I can make an assumption based on some of the posts. At some point, you reap what you sow. Since this might be the time and place - while I worked on the 'women in submarine' issue, in general, I could not reference this blog because of the childish and immature nature of the comments that were made. This blog could/should have been a definitive source of knowledable opinions on the issue... and it was that to an extent... it's just that the thoughts were expressed in a 'non-publishiable' manner. I know I am being judgemental, and as a fellow submariner I knew where everyone was coming from; I understand 'us'. I also aknowledge that we need to have a place to be ourselves. I see this blog as being this place. But I think this was a time were we needed to come together and voice our opinions in a professional manner in at least one consolidated thread that could have been referenced by the general public as a definitive source of expert opinion. Having said all of that, one of the best items I used throughout our opposition was a comment made by an anonymous poster in the very first thread Joel posted on the Women In Submarines issue. In that thread the poster posited using an extended fast cruise test bed to validate the idea. He (she?) had an excellent idea, and posted his thoughts in a not-quite-nice manner, but he did not cross a line and his post was still suitable for mass consumption. I used his comment in several of my documents about the issue (unfortunately I could not properly reference the person as I would have wished, but that was as the person wished, I suppose).

6/18/2010 5:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still going on with the women on submarines issue? Give it a rest and let's see how it works out.

Women are at sea every day doing the job, whether it's on a warship, merchant, fishing boat or yes, even a submarine.

Let the officers get established, start cultivating the enlisted and I have a feeling it work out.

Remember, people thought MEN couldn't handle being submerged when submarines first came about and we proved them wrong.

The Chief's quarters will make this work. Will there be problems? Of course, but they will be fixed.

So, don't lump us all ogether when you mention "our opposition".

6/18/2010 6:44 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Aced all but the carriers one, where I missed one. Yeah, yeah, once a nuke, always a nuke. The key word in the women on boats was PERMANENT--and that of course is going bye-bye anyway. As far as boot goes, the biggest fear was getting CAUGHT. No saltpeter anywhere to be found, although the rumor was rampant. That rumor died quickly when a bunch of 16 year old female Sea Cadets were at RTC Great Lakes for a few weeks during the summer when I was in boot. Oh, boy did it die. (Hey, I turned 18 in boot, so it's not THAT sick. Now if it were today...)

6/18/2010 7:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Facts are better than rumors:
One use of Potassium nitrate (saltpeter) is as a food preservative, so it would make sense that the military might use if when you consider how much food is preserved and stored.

"Potassium nitrate was once thought to induce impotence, and is still falsely rumored to be in institutional food (such as military fare) as an anaphrodisiac; however, there is no scientific evidence for such properties."

(Yes, it's from Wikipedia out of convenience, so it's open to dispute if you have more "legitimate" references.)


6/18/2010 7:25 AM

Blogger jamason56 said...

Anon @ 06:44
I was not resurrecting the WIS issue in a call to arms. I was using it as an example somewhat pertinent to blog etiquette. As for the use of 'our opposition', you are correct... I should not have used that all word in an all-inclusive manner. I do realize that there are some that are not opposed to the policy change. However, speaking from a position of authority and experience from having worked actively and extensively on the issue I can assure you that 'most' in the community are opposed to the policy change. I can also assure you that there are valid medical and social reasons to be concerned about when mixing genders on submarines. Will we make it work? Of course, we will try our best and will succeed. But watch out for the price of that change. I've said enough about WIS in this thread if you have. Peace...

6/18/2010 7:38 AM

Anonymous Adios, Pato said...

Of course, we will try our best and will succeed. But watch out for the price of that change.

And those two simple, 100% accurate comments sum up the entire argument...and in 25 words or less.

6/18/2010 9:44 AM

Anonymous Sandy Eggo said...

Around 7:34 is When Alton Brown starts discussing Saltpeter, and 8:50 touches on its alleged use to alter libido.

6/18/2010 10:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alton Brown.... Hillareous
and next week on Good Eats he will be discussing Women on Subs

6/18/2010 1:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel a bit sorry for my KAPL brethren with their omission from the Nuke Quiz question #10.

6/18/2010 3:35 PM

Blogger Jay said...

I'm just happy i got all the sub questions right!

6/18/2010 4:44 PM

Blogger Jay said...

Speaking of those quizzes, any reason why they're mostly aimed at nukes? Does someone think we're enamored of quizzes? And I clearly know more about subs and nuclear power than the Navy in general. Ouch.

6/18/2010 4:52 PM

Anonymous t said...

We all know that nukes love the CAC.

6/18/2010 5:25 PM

Blogger Don the Baptist said...

Okay, non-qual-airbreather here. 10 out of ten. And I did write a book.

6/18/2010 7:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saltpeter doesn't actually do what is being suggested here.

6/19/2010 8:02 AM

Anonymous pc assclown said...

Been away for a few days. Come back to find that someone (possibly the Rubber Dickhead) has stomped away in a tissy fit because he got dinged on for his arrogance by other commenters? Whaaaa Whaaaa Whaaaa.... What a baby!!! Gonna run home crying to mommy? Geeze.

If the crybaby is RD, you'd be welcomed back (maybe). If it's the Mulligan, stay away....

6/21/2010 3:32 PM

Anonymous said...

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11/27/2011 2:52 PM


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