Quote of the day—Katie Lange

Dies are also tested on the death gauge — which isn’t nearly as terrifying as the name makes it sound. Also known as a dial indicator, this test measures how deep the image of an insignia is cut into the die down to the hundredths or thousandths of an inch. If various areas of the design aren’t cut to a certain depth, the die goes back to the manufacturer.

Katie Lange
January 11, 2023
How QA Experts Make Sure Military Medals Make the Grade
[Emphasis added.

Perhaps Ms. Lange needs her ears cleaned or should have attend a metal working shop class in high school. It’s call a “Depth Gauge”.

David Roza replicated Ms Lange error with The military uses a ‘death gauge’ to make sure medals don’t look like garbage:

There are two tests for making sure the dies are ready for the manufacturing process. One is the Rockwell hardness tester, which, you guessed it, tests the hardness of the steel alloy to make sure it is the right strength for striking brass medals. Then there is the ‘death gauge,’ also known as a dial indicator, which “measures how deep the image of an insignia is cut into the die down to the hundredths or thousandths of an inch,” the press release said.

It is not clear based on the press release why the ‘death gauge’ has its unique name. But it is definitely the end of the road for the die if it does not pass the gauge test.

Emphasis again added.

Kids these days! As I grew up on a farm, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the alternate name for a dial indicator. But I’m sure it was before I started the first grade when I was five years old.—Joe]


21 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Katie Lange

  1. You didn’t link to the first one, but if it’s the one I just found on defense.gov, they corrected it (without notice of the correction, BTW).

    The second one is still wrong, even though plenty of commenters called out the mistake.

    Just goes to show the state of “journalism” these days. One journalist makes a mistake (or an intentional falsehood). That mistake gets picked up by other journalists (who don’t bother to verify it) and it spreads like wildfire. Even if the mistake in the original article gets corrected, the falsehood has been disseminated throughout the world and is fixed in the minds of untold numbers of people.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if 20 years from now, everyone is calling a dial indicator a “death gauge” because “that’s what they’re called in the military”.

    • note: I made a correction to my comment: I originally wrote “defense.com” but it’s actually “defense.gov”.

  2. Not only did they misname the tool, but they very likely got the measurement wrong as well. Pretty much all my death gauges read to the ten-thousandth, which is what I try to keep my tolerances to on my lathe and vertical mill.

    • It’s possible that “ten-thousandth of an inch” is too small for the reporter to comprehend, so they said “hundredth or thousandth”, which they’d understand.

      It’s also possible that, because they’re casting brass into award medals — not cutting hardened steel into precision tools and parts — that “within a hundredth or thousandth of an inch” is … erm … “good enough for government work.”

      Related, I’d also venture a guess that brass is soft and easily-deformed enough that requiring ten-thousandth-inch tolerances doesn’t make a discernible difference over thousandth-inch, but costs significantly more. Plus, award medals often get plated or lacquered, which hides all that precision, making such tight tolerances unnecessary.

      But I’m not a metallurgist, so this is all speculation.

  3. Holy Crap. I’m tempted to ask “are they really that stupid?” but I’m not stupid enough to do that. A bare modicum of awareness would inform them that, contextually, “death gauge” just doesn’t sound right, as in “just what does ‘death gauge’ mean?” Look up “death” then look up “gauge” and attempt to build a correlation; I don’t expect them to know even a slight amount about “manufacturing” but ‘death,’ ‘gauge,’ and ‘manufacturing’ in the same paragraph should trigger some sort of word definition examination.

    Those people really do think differently from everyone else. Very differently. Scary.

    (And, I won”t say anything about how many dollars I’ve sent to Starrett and Brown and Sharpe over the years.)

    • I have a couple hypotheses:
      1. They simply mis-heard “depth gauge” and their (not fully-functioning) brain filled in “death gauge”.
      2. Spell-check mishap. Spell checkers will catch wrong words and make suggestions … often in alphabetical order, not relevance order. “Death” comes before “depth” alphabetically.
      3. The interviewee is messing with the reporter and used the wrong word on purpose to see if they’d catch it. If so, he/she’s having a real good laugh right now.

      As an exacerbating factor relevant to #1 and #3, when most reporters are out of their element (pretty much all the time), they defer to whoever is presented as a Subject Matter Expert. They never question SMEs, nor double-check anything a SME claims, no matter how little sense it makes. (That is, unless the SME violates Woke doctrine, in which case he/she is wrong now matter how true and reasonable his/her claims.)

  4. And maybe someone was just screwing with the ignorant reporters? In heavy construction we use to send new people over to the tool shed for 5 gallon buckets of 4″ endos. Beam stretchers, 5/8’s muffler bearing wrenches, and a host of crap that didn’t exist for a fine laugh all around.
    Might be someone was just wicked enough to see if they would report it that way?
    Good inside joke. Everyone at the medal factory is probably laughing their ass off.

    • Yeah, as a kid I grew up around airports and “go get a bucket of prop wash” was one of the more famous rookie assignments….which everyone knew so the first person you asked in the A&P shop would tell you “I think Bob has it, go see him” and if you were reaaaal sloooow on figuring it out you could spend half a day at it. If dad was a pilot you’d been hearing all of ’em since the doc cut your umbilical cord, but if Things With Wings were new to you….

      But, “actual news reporters” aren’t supposed to be 6-year old kids. Then again,…….

      • In the military we called that a “snipe hunt”.

        It’s a longstanding and revered military tradition.

      • Sky hooks was a masonry quest during a summer job at a steel mill. Ran green stripes all over the open hearth.

        My co-worker had these two searches.
        Armor checking hammer and PC-E6 from the comm shack.
        The pissy staff sargent was not amuzed.

    • It backfired on me though. We had a new tool shed guy that was mercilessly screwed with all summer.
      Come winter I needed to thaw some pipes so I went over to the tool shed and asked for a “rosebud” tip for the acetylene torch. To which the tool guy told me; “Ya, I bet you want a vase with that too? F–k off!”

  5. “Death gauge” is a common error for idiots, or for those with a speech impairment. “Death” or “depth” means nothing to idiots.

  6. Looks like the corrections have been made. The David Roza piece at the link blames a DOD press release for the original error.

  7. Not all Mondegreens have to be sung.
    “There is a bathroom on the right.”
    “Pardon me while I kiss this guy.”
    “Jambalaya, Horsemeat pie.”
    “The Ants are, my friends, Blowing in the wind.”
    “Give me the Beach Boys, save my soul, gotta get lost in the rock and roll

  8. Once my friends and I brought a new guy to Boomershoot. He was not a new shooter, and was in fact president of a local gun club for a couple of terms. He was, though, new to long range precision shooting. He was partnered with one of our experienced guys, who explained the rifle he would be using – .308, Remington 700 5R Milspec with Nightforce 8-24 scope and a Jewell trigger.

    Shortly thereafter a TV reporter came by to interview somebody. New Guy jumps into the fray to explain all about long range shooting and all the specialty gear, including the precision rifle with the “17 jewel Swiss trigger.” Face palms ensued.

    • This reminds me of a coworker I once had. My description of him became, “Enthusiastically stupid.” Your new guy perhaps should be described as “Enthusiastically ignorant.”

      My frustration is these sorts of people tend to get the attention, credit, and promotions for things they know very little about.

  9. “Death gauge?? Sounds like something that will be needed to check how deep the bodies need to be piled in DC come the revolution, heh, heh.

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