Today in History:The Infamous Munich Pact

By 1938 there was no doubt anymore about the intentions of Germany’s Third Reich and Adolf Hitler. European nations were generally worried about a major war and to that end the two biggest powers in Europe: France and Great Britain, sought to avert it. It was based on the experience of the First World War in which millions had died. The aftermath of that war was a sentiment that total war must be averted at all costs. So far all of Hitler’s violations of treaties, such as occupying the Rhineland in 1936, had caused no major retribution even if it was a major violation of the Treaty of Versailles that Germany had agreed to in 1918.

In spring 1938, Hitler claimed that German-speaking people living in Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia wanted closer ties with Germany and began agitating that unless this was done it would be taken by force. Hitler claimed that this region was part of a Greater Germany. Needless to say, the Czechoslovakian government was concerned. Hitler had annexed Austria in 1938 and he might just do the same to Sudeten. Czechoslovakia had a pact with both France and Great Britain to come to its defense. Neither power was interested in having to defend Czechoslovakia on the battlefield. Both Britain and France sought to avoid a war and both agreed, without bothering to consult with the Czechoslovakians, they would give Hitler what he wanted. The deal was that in areas of fifty percent or more German Sudetens would go to Germany.

Hitler though, sensing he could get a lot more, wanted to put German soldiers in Sudeten and that Czechoslovakian army had to leave by 28 Sept 1938. This caused a crisis resulting in the Munich Conference of 29 Sep 1939. In attendance were British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, French premier Édouard Daladier, and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Mussolini presented a plan (that imitated a German proposal) which allowed German military occupation and an international commission to resolve disputes. It was formally agreed to on 30 Sep 1938. Czechoslovakia was presented with this agreement and had no choice but to accept or face immediate invasion. Chamberlain would get Hitler to sign a treaty and proclaim later, upon arrival in Britain, that he delivered “peace for our time.”

Germany acquired not only territory but the industrial resources that it needed (raw ore, steel and iron production, electrical plants). Czechoslovakia was diminished as a result. While many in public in Britain and France heralded the agreement as avoiding war, there were warnings it was wrong. Winston Churchill was critical of the deal and how they had abandoned Czechoslovakia to Hitler. The British Labor Party opposed the deal as well. A view began to emerge and would continue long after, that Britain and France wanted to get out of the military pact as they were not ready for war. Was Hitler bluffing or not also is discussed as well. The evidence is that Germany could have invaded but got what it wanted without firing a shot. And it was handed to Hitler on a platter by two powers that in the last war had been Germany’s enemies. It could not have been a greater present for Hitler.

Czechoslovakia was doomed by the pact. In October 1938, it was forced to hand over under the Vienna Award territory in its south to Hungary and a small concession to Poland. In March 1939, after Slovakia seceded to become a pro-German state, Hitler demanded Czechoslovakia accede to German occupation, which it did. Czechoslovakia then became a protectorate of the Third Reich. Churchill’s warning had come true. With his policy of appeasement now deemed a total failure, Neville Chamberlain realized that it was time to mobilize for war. The French would likewise make preparations (but so entrenched was the avoidance of total war doctrine failed to act when it had the option to do so when most of the German army was invading Poland). In September 1939, World War II would officially begin with the invasion of Poland and declaration of war by Britain and France on Germany.

The lesson of the Munich Pact is that making short term deals with dictators to gain a moment of peace comes at a high cost. The Czechs were abandoned by Britain and France to their fate because neither one wanted to stand up to Hitler. Both Chamberlain and his French counterpart would live to see how badly it would turn out. After war broke out,  Chamberlan’s popularity fell and would resign on 10 May 1940 and replaced by Winston Churchill though remained in the Cabinet. He would die in November 1940. Édouard Daladier, who was under no illusions as to Hitler’s goals (but knew support for standing up to Hitler was thin),had resigned his position in March 1940 but was still minister of defense when Germany invaded. He would be arrested and charged with treason by the German supported Vichy government and imprisoned. He would be imprisoned in several places, including the Buchenwald concentration camp and ended up in Itter Castle in Tyrol with other French dignitaries until liberated on 5 May 1945 after the Battle of Itter . He would return to the Chamber of Deputies after the war, served as mayor of Avignon, and died in Paris in 1970.

Auction of Rare Titanic Memorabilia Tomorrow


A couple of rare Titanic items are up for auction:a ticket from the Turkish bath, a lunch menu, and a letter written six months after the disaster by Lady Duff Gordon’s secretary. The auction for these items is at Lion Heart Autographs in New York on 30 September. Bids are being accepted online.

Here is an article from National Geographic about the auction and its historic value:

A Look at the Titanic Artifacts Going to Auction This Week (29 Sep 2015, National Geographic)

Titanic II Update: Maiden Voyage Will Be From China To Dubai

Cruise Arabia & Africa reports that Clive Palmer’s Blue Star Line has
announced that Titanic II’s maiden voyage in 2018 will be from Jiangsu, China to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Blue Star has stated that the project is still on refuting rumors of its demise. Originally the maiden voyage was to be from Southampton to New York. James McDonald, the global marketing director of Blue Star Line says the change was due to seeking business partnerships in Dubai.

We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are
funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of
companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising
opportunities that arises with the project. It is people looking to use
the opportunity of the trademark and licensing potential of the
project… We own the Titanic II name and trademark and people are
lining up to be part of it.

Not so long ago I reported of interest in Dubai in Titanic II and
speculated that since Palmer is not getting the Chinese investors he was hoping for, that he would seek out investors in UAE. Now so far they official line is that the ship will still be built in China but suppose
with all those “business partnerships” being formed in Dubai that the ship can be built there and cheaper than China? So far no official order has been placed with a Chinese shipyard, Palmer is involved in a serious row with the Chinese government, and a Titanic replica is already being built. And, just as a wild thought, suppose you could add in the Titanic Artifact collection to Dubai with Palmer’s Titanic II?

Source: Titanic II Is To Sail Maiden Voyage In 2018 From China To Dubai In The United Arab Emirates(26 Sep 2015,Cruise Arabia & Africa)

Autumn Begins Today

Solstices and Equinoxes Image: NASA

The Autumnal or September Equinox occurred today at 08:22 UTC/04:22am EST (adjust local time accordingly). 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.

Premier Exhibitions Will Have Haunted Ghost Tours at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in Las Vegas

Every year when the calendar turns to autumn, I always look for the
first Titanic themed Halloween story. Sometimes it is stories of ghosts at Titanic exhibits or other such things. Well Premier Exhibitions has decided to capitalize on this interest by offering their own Haunted Ghost Tours at the Luxor Hotel exhibition in Las Vegas this Halloween season. According to the press release:

One of the most interesting spirit stories told is the “Lady in Black”
who is often seen on the Grand Staircase crying for her famous friend, Margaret Brown. Visitors will also get the chance to feel the presence of Frederick Fleet, Titanic’s look-out on the ill-fated night, who watches over the Exhibition’s Promenade Deck as he attempts to make up for his unfortunate late sighting of the iceberg. Additionally, guests will learn about the passenger who prophesied the sinking of the Ship of Dreams by writing to a friend just a few days before perishing in the North Atlantic, “Right now I wish the ‘Titanic’ were lying at the bottom of the ocean.

These special tours are only on Saturday nights at 8pm in October. I am surprised they will not have a special midnight tour on Halloween itself since it will be a Saturday (they will have the 8pm one though). Perhaps those ghost hunter guys will show up with those gizmos that detect ghosts to add an air of authority and perhaps a special on the History Channel (real Ghosts of Titanic!). Or just send in that poor sidekick from Muppet Labs. The last time he visited a haunted house, it was quite memorable.

Source: Experience R.M.S. Titanic’s Haunted Legacy this October with Haunted Ghost Tours at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition (Press
release-Premiere Exhibitions, 21 Sep 2015)

Last Sunday of Summer

dayatbeach copy

We are coming down to the last days of summer. The Autumnal Equinox is 23 Sept 2015 at 4:22 AM EDT (adjust local time accordingly). Already Halloween decorations are out in stores and there are even reports-gasp!-of Christmas decorations appearing as well. Longer nights and shorter days are coming. Out here in Northern California we are having a mini heatwave. Our long dry spring and summer allowed for grapes and other crops to mature early. Grapes were harvested early this year. Sadly the drought has meant fewer crops planted,farmland gone to waste, and many jobs lost. Few understand truly how economies are interconnected. The farmer cannot plant much because there is little water to spare. That means he highers fewer workers to assist. Crops then need fewer people in the production and distribution sectors (canning, packing etc). Less inventory but high demand means prices go up. And so it goes. And if you do not have workers getting employed in the agricultural areas, it means retail and fast food stores sell less. There is less money going into the local economy which effects growth. Where the drought is the most severe, people are simply packing up and leaving. Worse for the state in areas where groundwater is dangerously low or empty, it means the land above it starts sinking. Which means infrastructure like bridges, roads and other things start sinking too.

Once long ago people flocked to California fleeing bad economic times that shuttered farms in the Midwest. It is quite possible now the reverse may happen.

Titanic News 19 Sept 2015

1. The Titanic themed hotel at Stanley Dock in Liverpool, UK has been nominated for an international design award. ADI Studio, who designed the interior, is one of the finalists in the hotel design category of International Design Excellence Award.
Source:Titanic Hotel Nominated For International Design Award(18 Sep 2015,Liverpool Echo)

2. The Titanic Exhibition Center has opened in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. The center will allow various events to used for “exhibitions, community and sporting events, as well as large-scale banquets.”
Source:Titanic Exhibition Centre Opens Its Doors After 80-Day Turnaround(17 Sep 2015,Belfast Live)

3. In what seems decades ago in computer standards, an old Titanic computer game is getting a new life: Starship Titanic. It was based on Douglas Adam’s Life,The Universe, and Everything.Like all golden games from so long ago, it was consigned to the graveyard of forgotten computer game favorites (like many of the original Tomb Raider games are these days). It now has been resurrected for the PC thanks to You can check out the game here.
Source:You can finally play Douglas Adams’ Starship Titanic on a modern PC (17 Sep 2015,

Claudia Sandoval Wins Masterchef US Season 6

Claudia Sandoval, Winner Season 6 Masterchef US. Photo: Fox
Claudia Sandoval, Winner Season 6..
Photo: Fox

The champagne has been uncorked and the confetti has blown around. It was a very close finale in the end but, as it is said, there can only be one. And Claudia Sandoval won the trophy and a quarter of a million dollars. She beat out rocker Derrick Peltz having defeated Stephen in the semifinal. And that was tough was well with having to cook an appetizer (a cheese soufflé), an entrée (steak frites) and dessert (a panna cotta with fruit inside it) in just sixty minutes.

So this season is now in the record books. Did it match up to expectations? Yes and no. They did mix up things a lot so that the show does not appear stale with some of the challenges. At the same time, there was still a level of predictability. Some were easy to see going home because their dish was not up to par. This year they introduced the concept of mentoring in judging. Did the person show enough talent to go on or had they reached their peak ending their journey? And one cannot discount, despite what they say, is that some are kept around for ratings or controversy rather than their cooking.

I think the low point was Amanda’s exit. When she took out her sponges too soon for the cake challenge, they were falling apart. Gordon convinced her to put the cake together knowing full well that it was a goner. There was no way she would stay in at this point; it would have been better to cut her right there rather than what came next. It came down to her and Shelly. So they did a head fake and made Shelly think she was going home. Except she was not, instead she took off her apron to go up to the balcony. It was bad enough to make Amanda present a cake that was never going to win but to do this head fake was cruel and unnecessary.

Another thing you have to wonder: is it wise to raise the expectations that a vegetarian could win the title? There have been vegetarians on the show before who have done well but not one has made it into the finale. None of the judges are vegetarians although they all know how to make tasty vegetarian dishes (Gordon showed a vegetarian restaurant in France how to make it but its owner ran away from it to become a professional escort). Since vegetarians are given no special consideration, they have to cook meat dishes. For Hetal (and to an extent Amanda since she is Muslim) it meant certain foods are taboo. She cannot possibly taste a beef dish but as Gordon said could get someone else to taste for her. Sounds great in theory but lousy kitchen practice. Perhaps a vegetarian Masterchef might be in order to find those chefs.

One problem I noted this season was how Ramsay–centric the show has become. Some of the challenges were centered on him or his cooking. While Graham and Christina had their moments, it was mainly Gordon. Christina brought a new perspective to the show replacing Joe Bastianich. Joe had the famous stare and his scathing critiques of your food would send shivers. She is no slouch in telling you when there is a problem or if the food disappoints. She has a stare of her own and you do not want to get it either. And the challenges based on her cooking were some of the most difficult ones possibly ever in Masterchef. I would not want to face making that chocolate cake with all those elements. It sadly sent Nick home and he was one I hope to see in the top four or top two.

Masterchef did well ratings wise during the season. There was a little fall off at one point but that happens during the summer. It held its own during the time slot and is in no danger at this point of being shuttered. In fact they are already recruiting for season seven! So as we bid adieu to season six, we can say it was mostly good. They ought to drop the long drawn out declaration of who the winner is and stop the head fakes. I know they do it for entertainment but like with Amanda, it ends up being cruel to raise her hopes that she is saved and they dashed a moment later.

Congratulations to Claudia Sandoval on her win. It will be interesting to see in her cookbook what types of Mexican dishes she includes (and she has a lot to choose from).