The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-13-2003, 02:54 PM
Knighted Vorpal Sword Knighted Vorpal Sword is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
"call the ball" - what does this mean?

In the movie "Top Gun," Maverick is told to "call the ball" before he lands his fighter on the carrier. What does this mean?
__________________
"Everyone knows what is in Room 101."
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 11-13-2003, 03:03 PM
Anachronism Anachronism is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Disclaimer - My information comes from reading Tom Clancy novels and it has been a couple of months, but I am sure if I make any mistakes they will be corrected.

When landing on a carrier there is a beam of light shining towards the incomming plane. The beam of light represents the perfect glide path/approach. When the pilot of the incoming plane looks directly at the beam it appears as a ball. When the pilot 'calls the ball' he as sight of the ball and is preparig to land.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-13-2003, 03:06 PM
Neurotik Neurotik is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
The up-down visual aid for a carrier landing looks like a ball. So when the the pilot is coming in, he is asked to "call the ball," which is just asking the pilot if he can see the ball and that he is on a safe glide path for the landing.

The proper response is, of course, is to give the weight of the plane, and then "Roger Ball."
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-13-2003, 03:13 PM
bump bump is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Here's a page describing the ball, how it works, and some follow-on systems in development.

http://www.lakehurst.navy.mil/nlweb/iflols.html
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-13-2003, 03:15 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NoWA
Posts: 48,391
See Automated Carrier Landing System.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-05-2013, 10:29 AM
redherring31 redherring31 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Call the Ball

"Call the Ball" is an old expression that refers to a person being placed in charge - or given command - of "calling" or setting the music, song, and tempo for a dance. Landing a plane on an aircraft carrier is a "dance". The pilot is given final decision control of the "grand ballroom dance" on final approach. Release of command and control is referred to as you will now "call the Ball"!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-05-2013, 10:44 AM
naita naita is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by redherring31 View Post
"Call the Ball" is an old expression that refers to a person being placed in charge - or given command - of "calling" or setting the music, song, and tempo for a dance. Landing a plane on an aircraft carrier is a "dance". The pilot is given final decision control of the "grand ballroom dance" on final approach. Release of command and control is referred to as you will now "call the Ball"!
Do you have any evidence for that assertion justifying waking up a ten year old thread to contradict an explanation that seems sensible and has supporting evidence?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-05-2013, 10:52 AM
rsat3acr rsat3acr is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 830
look at his user name and join date
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-05-2013, 11:03 AM
Sicks Ate Sicks Ate is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: KS, US
Posts: 4,283
Per Wikipedia,

Quote:
Red herring is an English-language idiom, a logical fallacy that misleads or detracts from the issue.[1] It is also a literary device that leads readers or characters towards a false conclusion, often used in mystery or detective fiction.
A little known fact about the origin of the phrase, is that it wasn't originally a noun. It was a verb, and the act of telling someone a misleading bit of information was known as "red hairing". This, due to the fact that gingers were long believed to be untrustworthy.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-05-2013, 12:42 PM
Xema Xema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
... the act of telling someone a misleading bit of information was known as "red hairing". This, due to the fact that gingers were long believed to be untrustworthy.
And because they were also believed to have a strong odor, someone hit on the idea of dragging them (by the hair, naturally) across a trail to confuse dogs being used to track a suspect.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-05-2013, 01:12 PM
Joey P Joey P is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 21,301
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
Per Wikipedia,



A little known fact about the origin of the phrase, is that it wasn't originally a noun. It was a verb, and the act of telling someone a misleading bit of information was known as "red hairing". This, due to the fact that gingers were long believed to be untrustworthy.
Unlike white hares which were trustworthy, just never on time.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-05-2013, 03:08 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 23,258
Quote:
Originally Posted by redherring31 View Post
"Call the Ball" is an old expression
You don't say.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-05-2013, 03:41 PM
Bremidon Bremidon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
Per Wikipedia,

Red herring is an English-language idiom, a logical fallacy that misleads or detracts from the issue.[1] It is also a literary device that leads readers or characters towards a false conclusion, often used in mystery or detective fiction.

A little known fact about the origin of the phrase, is that it wasn't originally a noun. It was a verb, and the act of telling someone a misleading bit of information was known as "red hairing". This, due to the fact that gingers were long believed to be untrustworthy.
Wikipedia, as usual, is wrong. The term actually comes from the first experiments with controlling nuclear reactors using water as a cooling agent. It was common practice to have the new guys check the water for fish, especially Atlantic Herring. Of course, they never found any radiactive herring, because it was just a hazing ritual. But the term "rad. herring" eventually mutated into the phrase we know and love today.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-05-2013, 03:48 PM
Great Antibob Great Antibob is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bremidon View Post
The term actually comes from the first experiments with controlling nuclear reactors using water as a cooling agent.
Unlikely in the extreme.

The phrase is used in a Sherlock Holmes story (here).

Unless I'm grossly mistaken, Holmes predates nuclear reactors by a fair margin. Wikipedia looks to have the better of this one.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-05-2013, 03:51 PM
silenus silenus is offline
Hoc nomen meum verum non est.
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 40,480
Redd Herring played shortstop for the Cedar Rapids Kernels from 1932-44. He enlisted in the Navy after Okinawa and became a deck ape on the USS Kearsarge, where he met his end while playing a pick-up game on the flight deck. A pop fly went a bit too near the edge of the deck, and Redd kept his eye on the ball, calling "I've got it! I've got it!" until he vanished over the side into the South China sea, never to be seen again. It is in his memory that pilots still "call the ball" when landing.

RIP, Redd.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 07-05-2013, 04:49 PM
phreesh phreesh is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
As usual, everyone but me has it wrong. 'Red herring' is actually a mispronounced version of 'red hearing'.

Red hearing is an exceeding rare genetic disorder whereas the sounding of certain specific tones causes the afflicted to 'hear' the sound as a red plane in their field of vision. This effect has been well documented.

The confusion caused by somebody with red hearing trying to describe their visions led to the ailment being referred to when somebody had reached false conclusions. The term became corrupted through time to become 'red herring'.

Now you know.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 07-05-2013, 05:25 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Keeping my password unchanged
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
It's actually from references to Keith "Red" Haring, the graffiti guy guy whose work has somehow become valuable and well known.


I hear the rattling of a giant padlock lumbering this way...

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 07-05-2013 at 05:25 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 07-05-2013, 05:37 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NoWA
Posts: 48,391
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
You don't say.
Who was it?
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 07-05-2013, 05:48 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,723
I can't be the only one who knows that "red herring" proceeded from "Raid Hiring" in WWII, in which unlucky "volunteers" for suicide missions were "hired" when they drew the short straw.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 07-05-2013, 05:51 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Portlandia
Posts: 28,311
You guys is all wet, I tells ya. "Red Heering" was a liqueur invented by the Danes, who, being an unimaginative lot, were too lazy to call it by its eventual proper name of Cherry Heering. How anybody got from "Heering" to "herring" is another kettle of fish.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 07-06-2013, 12:43 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Keeping my password unchanged
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Road whoring. AKA, per Wiki, Torino nightlife.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 07-06-2013, 03:53 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
Robot Mod in Beta Testing
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 8,364
If I can hijack this away from herrings for a bit, here's air traffic control having a bit of fun with a nearby aircraft carrier at Philadelphia International Airport.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06ekF0E_HW4
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 07-06-2013, 04:58 AM
naita naita is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Great Antibob View Post
Unlikely in the extreme.

The phrase is used in a Sherlock Holmes story (here).

Unless I'm grossly mistaken, Holmes predates nuclear reactors by a fair margin. Wikipedia looks to have the better of this one.
That's a reference to an actual herring of unusual colour, not an early use of the idiom.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 07-06-2013, 05:54 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
Domo Arigato Mister Moderato
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: On the run with Kilroy
Posts: 16,458
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Who was it?
He didn't say!
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 07-06-2013, 08:16 AM
Bremidon Bremidon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Great Antibob View Post
Unlikely in the extreme.

The phrase is used in a Sherlock Holmes story (here).

Unless I'm grossly mistaken, Holmes predates nuclear reactors by a fair margin. Wikipedia looks to have the better of this one.
I definitely heard a "woosh!" I'm just not sure if I just got Wooshed or Antibob got Wooshed.

A Quantum Woosh.

Last edited by Bremidon; 07-06-2013 at 08:16 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 07-06-2013, 10:02 AM
Zakalwe Zakalwe is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 3,992
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bremidon View Post
I definitely heard a "woosh!" I'm just not sure if I just got Wooshed or Antibob got Wooshed.

A Quantum Woosh.
Given the various red herring origins of red herring it would properly be called a Recursive Whoosh. Hopefully someone has put in an exit counter or we're going to be stuck here for a very long time...
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:41 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.