Happy Sunday

Image:Petr Kratochvil(publicdomainpictures.net)
Image:Petr Kratochvil(publicdomainpictures.net)

We are in the last days of summer. The autumnal equinox is on September 22 at 22:49 EDT and the first full day of autumn is September 23. Wow! Only 9 days till autumn. Above the northern hemisphere we start the transition towards shorter days, longer nights and of course winter. In Australia, it is their spring. Already the signs are on television of Halloween. Spooky themed commercials,stores stocking up on Halloween costumes and decor, and haunted houses are being made ready. A Halloween themed store has already opened up in the city where I live. And my favorite pumpkin spice cookies are back in the shelves.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.

White Star Wanted More Wealthy Passengers Not Third Class

Photo courtesy George Behe
Photo courtesy George Behe

Titanic was built to make money but not on the backs of immigrants as some claim. Instead they were designed to make money from wealthy passengers who would travel both ways. Second class was designed for tourists and professionals who traveled less often but wanted the comforts such a ship offered. And finally you had third class (steerage back then) who paid the smallest fare but proportionally were the largest in numbers. However despite their numbers, they were a smaller revenue generator compared to first class passengers.

Joseph Mortati in Collision Course:How Good Business Decisions Sank the Titanic and Why refutes the standard thinking by going through the concept of the new White Star ships and how they were designed to make money. Cunard, which had the faster ships of the day that broke records, sacrificed speed for comfort. The line was also subsidized by the British government to prevent it from being bought out by a foreign entity. That gave them a 2-1 advantage over White Star. They had speed and government backing. Ismay had to come up with a way to compete that would make money. Competing on speed would be difficult and expensive. They could still market to immigrants seeking to cross over to United States but they knew it was a diminishing trade over time.

Focusing on repeat travelers then became important. And not just any repeat travelers but ones who were very wealthy and willing to pay extra for comfort. They could charge higher tickets for them and provide amenities a hotel on land would provide. It was a daring and bold plan that hinged on getting the wealthy to buy tickets. It required a marketing campaign to convince them that ships like Olympic or Titanic were the ships to be on and be seen on. What Mortati found was that Olympic compared to Lusitania would make 40% more per round trip because of those higher ticket prices. And while immigrants still comprised 50% of passengers aboard, revenue from them was 20%. Which means 80% came from first and second class passengers and mostly from first class.

Now that debunks the myth. Had Olympic, Titanic, or Brittanic been built to make lots of money from immigrants, the proportions would have been very different. Instead you would have third class being the significant revenue generator and first and second class bringing around 20% combined of the total revenue.

Mortati, Joseph Collision Course – How Good Business Decisions Sank the Titanic and Why (2013, Amazon Kindle Edition)

MasterChef:Final Four and then Final Three (Part 2)

Photo: Fox
Photo: Fox

Recap: Christian was sent home leaving Courtney, Cutter, Elizabeth and Leslie as the top four.

I will be honest here, I did not expect the top four not have Christian in it. I am further surprised both Cutter and Leslie made it. Neither were on my list for the top four but Courtney and Elizabeth were.

Now I expected when the two teams were formed that Team Red (Courtney and Elizabeth) would easily best Team Blue(Cutter and Leslie). They both had to cook with foods that were not that difficult to work with. That is not what happened at all. Instead both teams had problems. Individually both Courtney and Elizabeth are perhaps the best home cooks ever on the show. Yet they canceled each other out producing a weird appetizer but their entrée was at least better though not up to their usual high standards. Their lack of communication meant they each made sauces and did not tell the other.  Not unsurprisingly Cutter and Leslie did not do well either. Leslie decided to let Cutter do his thing and not interfere much. Cutter tried to work with Leslie and found him not wanting to talk much. So both of them made mistakes–critical ones–like screwing up a sauce that ought to have been easy to do.

Photo: Canterel(Wikipedia)
Photo: Canterel(Wikipedia)

So in the end both teams produced fair to awful dishes. It was unbelievable that both teams would end up this way. And just by a millimeter, Courtney and Elizabeth got saved. Personally I would have either sent them all back to cook one dish that would sort it out better. But since I am not in charge, it is but a dream in my head. So Cutter and Leslie now go into a culinary thunderdome and they have to cook from the box they did not choose: California. And they had to cook three separate dishes for each of the chefs. It came all down to a Salad Niçoise with seared tuna in the end. Cutter had the better looking one but his tuna was sliced too thick and not well cooked. Leslie’s dish was a real mess! He forgot the quail egg but got the tuna right along with the vinaigrette for the salad. And getting the tuna right was what saved Leslie. The long saga that was called The Cutter Zone has finally ended. He had his moments but there was just no way he would be in the top two.

Now we have our top three: Courtney, Elizabeth and Leslie. My money is still on Elizabeth to win this over Courtney. I cannot see Leslie in the top two unless either he really steps up the plate and one of the other two really goofs something up bad. We are now in the final round and soon a new Masterchef will be crowned.

Masterchef:Final Five Become Four and Then Three(Part 1)

(Note:This was a two hour episode. So I will break the commentary into two parts.)

Photo: Fox
Photo: Fox

Last week we saw Jaimee depart leaving Courtney, Christian, Christian, Cutter, and Leslie. Now that we are down to the final five, the pressure is really on. To add more to that pressure, select friends or family members drop by. Aside from the previews, the big clue is the very big mystery box that usually signifies either a special guest or a very unusual food challenge ahead. In this case it was Courtney’s six year old brother who she does not see often. Cutter’s adoptive father and Christian’s girlfriend are also there. Elizabeth gets to see her husband and we finally get to see the woman that is married to Leslie. Gordon asks jokingly if she ever found his off switch. She quips not in 20 years or words to that effect. Then the family members tell them food they miss, which becomes the challenge for the evening.

Of course being Masterchef it has to be upscale. Christian’s girlfriend likes his gumbo and he has to do that in an hour! Gumbo, depending on the recipe, can take from just under three hours to several hours. He manages to pull it off to the delight of the judges. Graham calls it a taste of the ocean. Courtney did a macaroni and cheese with truffles and lobster and topped with a quail egg. Now that was daring and she pulls it off as well. Finally Elizabeth brings up her meatballs and grits. The meatballs are made with different meats, herbs, and tomato sauce. And the grits were good as well. Elizabeth is the winner while Leslie and Cutter stand in the back disappointed they were not called up.

Select Cuts

Photo:Vincent Diamante(Wikipedia)
Photo:Vincent Diamante(Wikipedia)

Just a bit of culinary history. In the old days people had to make sure every part of an animal that was slaughtered did not go to waste. One it maximized its use and second did not waste anything. The highest quality cuts went to those who could afford them leaving the less popular ones for those on more tight budgets. So Elizabeth gets to select some parts that her fellow contestants will be cooking up–ox heart, lamb’s heart, veal brains, and buffalo testicles. Yummy! Elizabeth’s facial ticks while they show these parts shows how she tried to keep from showing her disgust (or desire to upchuck). She was glad not to have to cook any of them and of course is immediately in the top four. Back out in the main area, they are not that thrilled either at having to cook these parts. Of course Elizabeth choose which ones they would cook.

Courtney got the bull testicles. Elizabeth figured it would throw her for a loop. Perhaps for a moment or two but she took the challenge head on. A miss by Elizabeth on this one. Instead of flailing, she cooked them to perfection by what the judges said. Bravo!

Cutter got the ox heart. It is a large mass that looks suitable for long braising. For perhaps the first time, Cutter produces a stellar dish that wows the judges. The Cutter Zone has finally arrived. At first it looked bad for him but the final presentation was awesome.

Leslie got the lamb’s tongue. At least it was not veal brains. But Leslie did not clean the tongue properly leaving an unpleasant aftertaste in Gordon’s mouth. It also did not look stellar either but it was not all bad. Still at this stage of the game, the smallest thing out of place will send you home.

Christian got the brains. They try to make it sound less awful by saying “veal brains” but of course veal comes from cattle (young cattle to be precises). Head cheese used to be made from either pig or cow brains (it still is in some places)mostly though it is just spices and meat not from brains anymore. I thought Christian would nail this one but instead he got flustered, twisted, and turned around. It alarmed the judges to see him flailing about. For Elizabeth, it was a direct hit. He produced an awful dish overall though the brains were good. But everything else about the dish was all bad.

Courtney won the round proving she can take just about anything thrown her way. Cutter also got the save as well and now there are three in the final four. That leaves the judges to decide between Christian or Leslie. Unfortunately Christian is sent home. A very talented young man who found this challenge a bridge too far. He leaves with his head high and Gordon offering to invest in his food truck. That is one food truck I would visit and likely will do very well. Now we have the final four: Courtney, Cutter, Elizabeth and Leslie. And in the next round it will be two teams (boys vs girls) duking it out to win a coveted spot in the top three. The losing team compete against each other in a culinary thunderdome. Just without Mel Gibson.

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Turkish Man Claims To Have Titanic Bell

A commonly found reproduction of Titanic crows nest bell sold to museum and exhibition visitors.
A commonly found reproduction of Titanic crows nest bell sold to museum and exhibition visitors.

A news report from Turkey says a 76 year old businessman claims to have a bell removed from Titanic. It is also claimed that he has windows from Hitler’s ship. One is more likely than the other. Hitler did have a wartime yacht, Aviso Grille,that was planned to transport Hitler and other dignitaries to England to accept their surrender. Of course there was no invasion of England (except for taking the Channel Islands)so it never got used for that purpose. The ship was used to receive many high ranking Nazi’s and honored visitors but did not go out to sea much other than in the early days of the war before being converted to Hitler’s use. After the war King Farouk of Egypt desired to buy the ship but enroute it stopped for repair. Limpet mines placed by his enemies dissuaded him from purchase. It was sold for scrap in 1951 and in a sense of historic irony, its metal went to the U.S. military for use. As for windows, it is possible they were sold and ended up in Turkey.

As for the Titanic bell, one assumes it is the crows nest bell being referenced. That was recovered in the first salvage expedition in 1987 and is part of the Titanic collection (now owned by Premier Exhibitions). If there were other bells brought up, they would be there as well. So the claim is false. Most likely he either has a reproduction or possibly a bell from Olympic or Britannic.

1. Turkish Businessman Displays Titanic’s Bell At His Office(5 Sep 2014,CIHAN)
This news story appears to be from a televised story.
2. AVISO GRILLE (Strangevehicls.greyfalcon.us)
This site deals with the lesser known and odd vehicles of Nazi Germany. Revel Barker’s essay on this ship goes into detail about its military use before it was used as royal yacht for Hitler. While visitors were welcomed, it also did perform some wartime duties but most of the time was used as operational headquarters for Grand Admiral Erich Räder of the Kriegsmarine (official name of the Nazi German Navy from 1935-1945, now called Deutsche Marine).
3.German aviso Grille (Wikipedia)
This Wikipedia entry gives general information about the ship and its use as a command ship. It has no mention of its use by Hitler.

September Flower

The Forget-me-not flower is one of three associated with September. The other two are aster and morning glory. There are over 200 species in the Boraginaceae family. It blooms in spring and are very popular in gardens and its species are diffused all over the world. They prefer moist habitats and take partial sun and the shade. The flower represents true love and faithfulness. It also has been used to memorialize the passing of a loved one. It is often used as a symbol for many charity benefits to fight diseases.

Photo: Wilder Kaiser
Photo: Wilder Kaiser

Titanic News:Titanic Belfast Up For Awards and a Human Rights Group Wants Premier Exhibitions Investigated

Mao Zedong announcing the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1 1949. Photo: Public Domain
Photo: Public Domain

1. A Toronto-based human rights group has requested a police and coroner’s investigation once the Bodies Revealed exhibition closes on 1 Oct. A disclaimer on the website is what led them to make the charge. That disclaimer can be found here and says:

This exhibit displays human remains of Chinese citizens or residents which were originally received by the Chinese Bureau of Police. The Chinese Bureau of Police may receive bodies from Chinese prisons. Premier cannot independently verify that the human remains you are viewing are not those of persons who were incarcerated in Chinese prisons.

This exhibit displays full body cadavers as well as human body parts, organs, fetuses and embryos that come from cadavers of Chinese citizens or residents. With respect to the human parts, organs, fetuses and embryos you are viewing, Premier relies solely on the representations of its Chinese partners and cannot independently verify that they do not belong to persons executed while incarcerated in Chinese prisons.

Which is to say, we have really no idea whether these remains are what they are represented to be. So we are going to trust an authoritarian regime in Beijing which has a long history of repressing dissidents and mass murder? Really? It would be like in the old days accepting bodies from the Soviet Union and taking their word they were not executed for crimes against the state rather than dying of natural causes.

Linus Hand, director of sales and marketing at Niagara Falls Bodies Revealed exhibit says it refers to a different exhibit. He might be right. The exhibitions listed do not include one for Canada so it is possible that none of the bodies at the Canada exhibition require such a disclaimer. Still it is very discomforting that the American ones have bodies from China. Trying to wiggle out of moral responsibility here cuts no slack from me. Imagine the outrage if they used remains from German concentration camps run by Hitler’s regime in their Bodies Exhibition. It would make front page news as they got denounced by everyone. But from China, not much of a protest.
Source:Human Rights Group Wants Body Exhibit In Niagara Falls Investigated(5 Sep 2014,Sun News)

Titanic Belfast (side view) Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)
Titanic Belfast (side view)
Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)

2. The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that Titanic Belfast is up for the Best UK Leisure Attraction Award and Giant’s Causeway is on the list for Best Heritage Attraction. The public is allowed to vote for their favorites at www.britishtravelawards.com.
Source:Titanic Belfast And Giant’s Causeway Are Up For Awards(4 Sep 2014,Belfast Telegraph)

Premier Exhibitions: Major Changes

graphup copyPremier Exhibitions, which owns RMS Titanic Inc and Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition, recently announced three directors had resigned. William M. Adams, Ronald C. Bernard, and Bruce Steinberg resigned on 25 August 2014. They were replaced on the same day by Jack H. Jacobs and Rick Kraniak making it five directors for the company. Jacobs was a previous member of the board fr0m February 2009-February 2011.

What makes this interesting is that Jack Jacobs has both financial and government connections. His previous experience in real estate development investments and finance allowed him to meet with prominent people in and out of government, particularly those with large amounts of capital to invest. He has through his military analyst role at NBC connections at the Pentagon and other places. Rick Kraniak is a retread as well serving on the board from 2005-2008. He has lots media connections thanks to his being a media consultant but also has ties to financial services companies. In short, both of these guys have ties in the financial sector (and in Jacob’s case government as well) that will be used to 1)find sources to invest in the company and other projects; 2) find and connect people that will want to purchase the Titanic collection; 3) finance a sale of the entire company to whole new entity.

It looks like, if one reads these tea leaves correctly, they plan to make interesting changes within the next 12 months. And it is more likely that with these connections that they can sell the Titanic collection.

Source:Premier Exhibitions Announces Board of Director Changes (29 Aug 2014,MarketWatch-via Global Newswire Press Release)