Autumn Equinox Today

For those who watch the calendar, today marks the official end of summer and the beginning of autumn with the equinox today. There are two equinoxes in the year: March and September. When these equinoxes occur the sun is directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is almost equal. In the Northern hemisphere, the September Equinox heralds autumn while in the South it is the beginning of spring.

For those of us in the North, it means a transition from summer to winter.  During this period  days start getting shorter and nights longer. Depending on where you live, you will likely have moderate warm days followed by long and cooler nights. Harvests of many crops often take place during the fall and in the old days you would make preparations to store food for the winter. Harvest festivals are very popular and in particular Halloween. Pumpkins begin appearing along with all kinds of Halloween decor culminating, of course, in All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31.

English Autumn
George Hodan (publicdomainpictures.net)

Premiere Exhibitions Update:Titanic Artifact Sale and Bidders

The official notice of the upcoming sale of Titanic artifacts has been issued by the Equity Committee. According to the press release, the auction will take place on 11 Oct 2018 at 10 am. The entire Titanic collection that not only includes all the salvaged artifacts but the intellectual property along with all the digital footage that have been recorded will be auctioned off. According to the press release:

Currently, a consortium of hedge funds, including Apollo Global Management, LLC, Alta Fundamental Advisors, LLC, and PacBridge Capital Partners (HK) Ltd. have submitted an offer to buy the company’s assets for $19.5M, being treated as a bid floor. Unless a competing buyer steps forward, the company’s assets, including the entire Titanic collection, will be sold to this group for its $19.5M bid. As per the bidding procedures, a new buyer needs to submit, by October 5, 2018 at 4:00 p.m., a qualifying preliminary bid of at least $21.5M to enter the auction.

The consortium of museums and James Cameron had better get moving if they want to get control of the Titanic artifacts. Some have suggested the US and British governments could step in and do something. If they are planning anything, they are keeping very quiet about it.

The bid procedures can be read here: http://upshotservices.s3.amazonaws.com/files/497d5a77-fff2-49a9-98f0-c32110ea0410/bcc79c9f-4585-4c3e-9c76-6a86ab69c2e4.pdf

Source: Entire Titanic Artifact Collection To Be Sold At Auction, Opening bid $21.5M (PR Newswire,17 Sep 2018-Press Release)
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/entire-titanic-artifact-collection-to-be-sold-at-auction-opening-bid-21-5m-300713491.html

Sunday Musings

Titanic mural at Newtownards Road and Dee Street in Belfast, NI.
(Andy Welsh,http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallrevolution/68715920/)

With summer now in the rear view mirror, autumn is coming up soon. Many stores have already put out Halloween candy and a few costumes. One grocery store nearby has started making pumpkin pies and put out whole pumpkins for sale. But who puts out pumpkins in September? No one that I know of. A few commercials with Halloween themes are starting to appear as well. And of course we are starting to see just the usual beginnings of “true” ghost stories starting to appear.

Autumn is usually the transition from Summer towards Winter. The days get shorter and the nights longer. Temperatures start to drop in most areas but not always. The San Francisco Bay Area usually has its long awaited summer. Most of the year the temperatures along the coast are in the 60’s to low 70’s Fahrenheit and often cooler due to the marine layer. But in September and October, heat arrives from the interior. The wind shifts to off shore and temperatures usually soar sometimes with record breaking days. Usually it lasts just a few days at a stretch but it can be quite miserable with all the concrete radiating heat in downtown Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. Most homes do not have air conditioning. We wait anxiously for the fog to return and rejoice when it brings the cooling we so desperately want. But it creates spectacularly bright days which is great for sightseeing. Beaches that normally are only visited by people walking their dogs or surfers become popular spots. Just remember that sand can be hot as well!

Of course the big news for Titanic buffs is the bankruptcy of Premier Exhibitions and the impending sale of the artifacts. The best news would be for the collection to stay in the U.S. or Britain conserved by a museum (or group of them). Hard to see how it will play out but the big money is on the Chinese to purchase it. Of course they will swear up and down they will keep it all together and in the court’s jurisdiction. I suspect though that little by little it will go over to that new theme park in China where a Titanic replica is being built. What Clive Palmer could not pull off they are doing quite handily. From all accounts, it will be quite a sight to behold.

Going over to You Tube you will find all kinds of videos about Titanic. Some are trailers or clips from the various Titanic movies. Others purport to present shocking new evidence of how it really sank. Some of the more reliable ones are from reputable sources like the History Channel, BBC and others. Then sometimes you come across one that makes you stop and enjoy. My Heart Will Go On has become an international standard from that movie and for Celine Dion her most famous song. Here is a lovely rendition of that song on a violin.


Sunday Titanic News: Titanic Victim Watch Sold and Titanic Artifacts Auction

1.Pocket Watch From Titanic Victim Sold For $57,500 (Smithsonian,29 Aug 2018)
On April 15, 1912, Sinai Kantor was among the more than 1,500 people who lost their lives when the Titanic plunged into the North Atlantic. Recovery workers later pulled his body from the ocean and found a number of items that had been on his person when he died. One of those items, a pocket watch marked with Hebrew letters, recently sold at auction for $57,500, reports the Associated Press. John Miottel, owner of the private Miottel Museum in California, purchased the watch at auction. He already owns a number of timepieces that belonged to Titanic victims, including John Jacob Astor IV, the financier who helped build the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, and Oscar Woody, the Titanic’s U.S. Postal Clerk.

PR Newswire

2. Bankrupt Titanic Exhibitor Sets Biggest Sale of Ship Relics (Bloomberg, 30 Aug 2018)
This story, as predicted, is getting more heated now. To sum up: the current owner is bankrupt and wants to sell its most prized possession of all-the historic Titanic artifact collection. In the past getting anyone to put up the money was so difficult–due to constrictions imposed on the salvage award–that no one could afford purchasing it as one set. The article indicates three possible bidders:

1. Daoping Bao, has proposed a plan backed by a bevy of investment funds and Chinese businessmen who have bought $2 million of the company’s debt. Among Bao’s backers are Hong Kong-based PacBridge Capital Partners Ltd. and U.S.-based Apollo Global Management. Bao’s group is pledging to keep the collection intact and within reach of U.S. courts while planning to ramp up scientific and tourist expeditions to the wreck. Bao’s group raised their bid to $19.5 million

2. Titanic Branson
The owners of Titanic Branson and Titanic Pigeon Forge would like to purchase it and have made an offer in the past of $5-10 million that was turned down.

3. James Cameron & Museums: Cameron and a group of museums are offering $19.2 million.

As I suspected earlier, the Chinese are putting up a lot of money so they can move this to their theme park in China where a Titanic replica will be built. Make no mistake on this one, serious money is being put on the table. The downside is that once they are out of the U.S., there is no guarantee they will abide by the salvage award requirements. They claim they will keep it in U.S. but most are not sure they will do this. The bids from the Pigeon Forge and Cameron group is serious as well and both would likely keep the collection together.

And it is still possible that the bankruptcy court could conclude the easiest path is to auction off the pieces and pay off the debt rather than deal with the bids. The Bao group has put down a cash deposit to show they are serious. It is also possible that the government could step in to prevent its sale to Bao. That would leave the other two players. Certainly the Cameron group has museums behind him that know a lot about conserving artifacts. As for Pigeon Forge, they could end up getting it if the court is uncertain of the other two bids and wants to keep it right here in the U.S.


Today is Labor Day (U.S.)

Labor Day Postage Stamp (1956)
United States Post Office
Public Domain

Labor Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September. It became a federal holiday in 1894 to celebrate workers and their achievements. It has also become the unofficial end of summer as schools have reopened and summer vacations have ended. As a federal holiday, all federal offices are closed as are banks and the stock market. All states celebrate it as well so state, county, and city offices are closed as well. Nearly all professional offices are closed and most construction workers have the day off as well. Retail and fast food employees do not get the day off except in areas where due to the holiday they get virtually no business.

Have a nice Labor Day everyone!

Remembering the Past: Hitler and Stalin Neutrality Pact (1939)

Stalin and Ribbentrop shaking hands over the newly signed pact between Germany and Soviet Union. August 23,1939
Source: German Federal Archive

On August 23, 1939 it was announced that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had signed a non-aggression treaty. The pact has various names but was commonly known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact or the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Both countries had suffered in World War I. Both ended with their monarchies toppled and both started as nascent democracies. Neither survived and both countries became ruled by authoritarian states. In Russia, the Communists seized power and for a while sought to bring about promised world-wide revolution that never happened thanks to British efforts to expose their purposes in neighboring countries. Germany fell into NAZI power because Hitler promised to end the chaos, bring order, and restore German power in Europe.

By 1939 though, it was evident Germany was on a collision course in Europe. The winds of war were certainly blowing with the French and British appeasing Germany. The view in Moscow was simple: they did not want war with Germany but saw Hitler as the means to weaken and divide Europe to their advantage. The view there was that an all out war in the West would so weaken them that they would be able to infiltrate and take over (either by stealth or force). Stalin too wanted territory and the Nazi-Soviet Pact gave his country much of what it needed: spheres of influence. Poland and Romania were divided between the two in secret protocols to the pact. And the countries of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland were similarly divided as well. It gave them access to raw materials (iron, coal etc) and oil. All needed to build up the Soviet Union. For Hitler it was strategy. He wanted to invade Poland but did not want to risk war with the Soviets at that time. Although the officer corps had been severely depleted during the Great Purge of 1936-1938 (aided in part by the German Gestapo who created documents that implicated military officers or party officials of spying for Germany or others),the Soviet Union was not underestimated either.

The announcement of the pact was sensational. Many were aghast and surprised the two would sign such a pact. And when Hitler invaded Poland in September, Stalin invaded a few days later to claim the territory ceded to him in the secret parts of the pact.

Aftermath
Stalin unfortunately believed Hitler would hold up his end of the bargain. He thought Hitler would be more interested in subduing the West rather than heading East. And he also believed Hitler would not want a two front war. He was wrong. Despite getting warnings from the British and his own intelligence services, Hitler invaded on Sunday, June 22, 1941. Operation Barbarossa had as its goal to completely defeat the Soviet Union, kill its leadership, and reduce its population so that German settlers would occupy the land. The Germans had initial successes but after the failure of Battle of Moscow in 1942, the German army would be held back and a vicious war between the two countries along what was called the Eastern Front would emerge. It ended up demanding more resources and manpower that caused severe problems for Hitler. The Soviet Union was being supplied by the Allies (at great cost to those doing the dangerous supply missions from the North Atlantic to Murmansk). Ultimately as Germany became weaker after Allied forces invaded Europe and the Soviet Union pushed through towards Berlin, Hitler was forced to commit suicide rather than be captured by the Russians.

Stalin though came out ahead in the end. After expanding westward to push back the German army, the Soviet Union would hold on to the territory it gained. Communist parties would gain control in everyone of those countries creating, as Winston Churchill would say later, an Iron Curtain. East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Bulgaria were all part of that curtain with the Soviet Union. Only Czechoslovakia would stay out of the Warsaw Pact but only because Tito had an independent streak but otherwise was a dedicated Communist. Only after the fall of Communism in Russia in 1992 would many of these states finally be liberated from the Soviet Union.

Recent Titanic News

[Due to summer break, I did not post much. Catching up on some news that hopefully will interest everyone-editor]

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

This Man Was The Only Passenger Of Known African Ancestry To Die On The Titanic In 1912 (Face2FaceAfrica.com, 8 Aug 2018)
When the blockbuster movie, “Titanic” was released in 1997, telling the story of the over 1,000 people who died in the world’s biggest shipping disaster in 1912, there was no portrayal of any African or black person aboard the ship. But later research by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry would reveal that there were a distinguished Haitian man and his white wife on board the ship. Joseph Phillippe Lemercier Laroche, who would later become the only man of African descent to die in the Titanic ship disaster, was from a privileged class in Haiti and had received education from private tutors.Born on May 26, 1889, in Cap Haitien, Haiti, Laroche was the son of a white French army captain and a Haitian woman who was a descendant of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the first ruler of independent Haiti.
News link:https://face2faceafrica.com/article/this-man-was-the-only-passenger-of-known-african-ancestry-who-died-on-the-titanic-in-1912

Titanic Pocket Watch With Hebrew Numerals Could Fetch £15,000 At Auction (Jewish News,15 Aug 2018)
A silver pocket watch with Hebrew numerals recovered from a Russian-Jewish victim of the Titanic disaster is expected to fetch more than $20,000 (£15,728) when it goes under the hammer this month. Sinai Kantor, 34, from Vitebsk, Russia, was hoping to start a new life in America when his life was tragically cut short after the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic, on April 12, 1912. The Swiss-made, open-face silver-on-brass watch, with its original movement and a diameter of three inches, includes numerals that are Hebrew letters. An embossed design on the back shows Moses holding the Ten Commandments. The watch’s movement is rusted as a result of immersion in salt water, the hands are nearly all deteriorated and the dial is stained. Kantor’s pocket watch will go under the hammer at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, on August 25.
News link:https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/titanic-pocket-watch-with-hebrew-numerals-could-fetch-15000-at-auction/

What Sank The Titanic? Well a new documentary Collision Course: Titanic opens the debate again that something other than just rivets and an iceberg were the cause of the sinking. Being shown on Reelz starting yesterday (19 Aug), the circulars claim it will claim the rivets did not fail. Whether it rehashes already old theories or has something new to offer remains to be seen.
Source: Baffled Titanic Expert Says Luxury Ship Should Not Have Sunk After Iceberg Impact (Radar,17 Aug 2018)
https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/08/17/baffled-titanic-expert-says-luxury-ship-should-not-have-sunk-after-iceberg-impact/23504370/


Happy Sunday

Image:Petr Kratochvil(publicdomainpictures.net)

Summer is winding down now.  Schools are starting to reopen (to the delight of parents).  And the days are slowly getting darker earlier. Still a while to the Autumn equinox but it is not that far away either. I have also seen cartons of Halloween items being stored and soon to be deployed on store shelves. But for today we can enjoy a nice Sunday and a tune from John Denver. Have a nice Sunday everyone.

Remembering History:The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

A few days ago the 80th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance went by without much notice in the press. There was some obligatory mentions in This Day In History write-ups and a mention of a possible finding of her plane. So who was Amelia Earhart and why was she important?

Amelia Earhart circa 1928
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress digital ID# cph.3a22092)

On 20 May 1932, five years after Charles Lindbergh made his famous solo nonstop flight from the U.S. to France, Amelia Earhart set out to be the first female aviator to accomplish the same feat. Unlike Lindbergh, Earhart was already well known before this flight. She gained fame in 1928 as part of a three person crew to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane. On that trip, she kept the plane’s log.

Early on 20 May 1932, her Lockheed Vega 5B took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. She intended to replicate Lindbergh’s flight but encountered strong northerly winds, mechanical problems, and icy conditions. Instead of landing in France, she landed in a pasture at Culmore(north of Derry)in Northern Ireland. When asked by a farmhand how far she had flown, she famously said “From America.” Her feat received international acclaim. She received the Distinguished Flying Cross in the U.S., Cross of Honor of the Legion of Honor from France, and the Gold Medal from the National Geographic Society. Her fame allowed her develop friendships with many important and influential people such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Earhart would continue to make solo flights and set records. Sadly her next most famous mission would forever be shrouded in mystery. In 1937 she attempted–along with copilot Frederick Noonan–to fly around the world. On 2 Jul 1937, her plane disappeared near Howland Island in the South Pacific. Despite extensive searching by the U.S.Navy and Coast Guard, no trace of the plane or its pilots were ever found. The search was called off on 19 July. Earhart was declared legally dead on 5 Jul 1939 so that her estate could pay bills. Since then numerous theories as to what happened have been put forth. Many believe her plane either crashed and sank or that they landed on an island and perished awaiting rescue. Some intriquing evidence recovered in 2012 off Nikumaroro might be from their plane which supports the crash and sank hypothesis. More speculative theories have her being a spy for FDR or being captured and executed (along with Noonan)by the Japanese on Saipan (the area checked for the pilots bodies revealed nothing). A 1970 book claiming she had survived, moved to New Jersey, and changed her name to Irene Craigmile Bolam. There really was an Irene Bolam who had been a banker in New York in the 1940’s. She sued the publisher and obtained an out-of-court settlement. The book was taken off the market. National Geographic debunked it in 2006 on Undiscovered History.


Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.

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