Happy St. Patricks Day

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, a day which faithful Irish (and others) remember St. Patrick. He is the patron saint of the emerald isle and Irish are justifiably proud. In the old days that meant morning mass and a celebratory meal (usually at dinner). Since his feast day falls within Lent, it can pose a small problem should it fall on a Friday (traditionally a meat-free day). Special dispensation is granted to eat meat should the feast day fall on a Friday.

It is often a day for family and friends to gather and share a meal. Contrary to what some may think, it is not a day to get drunk. Drinking beer, hard cider, or liquors are done but it is wrong to use the day for just drinking. Unfortunately many abuse the feast day for just this reason sometimes resulting in awful things happening later (drunk driving for one). Enjoy the day but remember what it is about, St. Patrick, and what he did in Ireland.

Rick Steves’ Ireland 2013

Home in Ireland

In Search of Ancient Ireland (Includes Over Ireland)

Hartley’s Violin Authenticated

A violin believed to that of Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley is authentic reports The Wallace Hartley's ViolinTelegraph.The violin was thought lost, destroyed or stolen until recently. In 2006, the as yet unnamed owner contacted Henry Aldridge & Son, auctioneers who specialize in Titanic memorabilia, to determine its authenticity and other items of Hartley’s they had. It took a long time to track down what happened to the violin and required a great deal of forensic examination of the violin itself.

And like that Sinatra song, At Long Last Love, at long last we have proof. The violin has been determined genuine making it one of the most important Titanic artifacts uncovered in recent years. This is the violin that Hartley played to calm passengers as Titanic was sinking. The story of the band playing is ingrained in Titanic history and Hartley (along with other members of his band) are considered heroes.

The violin was given to Wallace Hartley by his fiancee Maria Robinson in 1910 as an engagement gift. The violin was found strapped to Hartley’s body when recovered. She requested it be given to her, which it was, and later Hartley’s father gave her other personal effects. Robinson never married and died at age 59 in 1939. Her sister, Margaret, found the leather valise with WHH initials on it and a violin inside. The bag and violin were given to Salvation Army and its leader, Major Renwick, was told of its Titanic connection. A local music and violin teacher was given the valise by Renwick. The current owner’s mother, a member of Women’s’ Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) met the music teacher who gave her the valise and violin.

The violin is in good condition considering it was in the water for 10 days. It is water stained with two long cracks caused by moisture. A corroded silver plate on its base was key to confirming its authenticity.

The violin will eventually be auctioned off but right now it will be going to Belfast City Hall later this month for public exhibition. The Telegraph reports that museums, some in the U.S., are negotiating to put it on display. Other items in the valise will be auctioned off next month. This is one artifact worth making a trip to see. Should it be exhibited where you can get to go see it. This is a piece of Titanic history that many will have an unexpected emotion when they see it, remember the story of that terrible night, and of the love it represents.

Source: Violin Played On Titanic Revealed For First Time(14 Mar 2013, The Telegraph)

Titanic: Music As Heard on the Fateful Voyage

A Hymn for Eternity: The Story of Wallace Hartley, Titanic Bandmaster

Titanic Bandmaster Remembrance Book – Wallace Hartley


Titanic News for 13 Mar 2013

1. Anna Devine writing in Leavenworth Times about dogs aboard Titanic. One interesting story was that of Rigel, a labrador, who was helpful in getting Carpathia to stop. Rigel was swimming in the water ahead of a lifeboat and his barking alerted Rostron to stop his engines before hitting the lifeboat.

Source: Pet Talk: Hero Dog That Survived The Titanic(12 Mar 2013, Leavenworth Times)

2. RMS Titanic, Inc and Premier Exhibitions are suing Thomas Zaller, Imagine Exhibitions, Inc., and Imagine Exhibitions PTE, Ltd for ” conversion, contractual breach, unjust enrichment, fraud and fraudulent inducement, trade dress (Lanham Act), and misappropriation of trade secrets.” The suit, filed late last month in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia asserts Zeller stole intellectual property from its Titanic Exhibition in Singapore in 2011 to use in competing exhibitions in Macau and other places. Premiere seeks damages for the five counts alleged in its complaint. The complaint was filed on 26 Feb 2013 and Judge William Duffey has been assigned the case.

Source: Titanic Lawsuit Launched To Sink Competing Enterprise(8 Mar 2013, Lexology.com)

Titanic News For 11 Mar 2013

*Anjelica Finore writes in The Quad about her recent visit to the Titanic exhibition at Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. She writes “I searched for my passenger and learned that she survived but her husband did not. I could not help but feel a connection to her.” Indeed many who have visited the exhibition walk away with the same feeling.

For information about dates, times, admission price go to www.fi.edu/titanic/. The exhibition runs till 7 April 2013.

Source: Titanic Exhibit Transports Philly Across Time (10 Mar 2013, Quad)

* Details, details. According ITV, if Titanic II is to follow the footsteps of the original it needs to get permission from Southampton. So far the Associated British Ports(ABP), the port owner, has not been contacted by Palmer’s Blue Star Line. While they have terminals to handle the ship, the original one used by Titanic (Berth 44) has no modern passenger or security facilities. ITV also reports mixed reactions from locals and those connected to Titanic. Bob Prior of British Titanic Society says it is in poor taste. Dot Haisman (her mother was a survivor) believes it will pay tribute to those on board. And Captain Smith’s family is not keen on Titanic II either.

Source: New Titanic Will Need Southampton’s Permission(5 Mar 2013,ITV.com)

*Here are some headlines about Titanic II. Can you guess what they think about it?

With Titanic II’s Maiden Voyage Set For 2016, Maybe We Should Rename It Disaster 2: The Eek-quel (27 Feb 2013, New York Post)

Titanic II: Meet The Worst Sequel Ever(27 Feb 2013, MSN Money)

DALE McFEATTERS: We Need Titanic II Like We Need Hole In Hull (1 Mar 2013,

*There is a funny bit in Ghostbusters II when it is announced that Titanic has docked and the ghosts are getting off!

*It is nearly back!!! Hell’s Kitchen (US) once again brings us weeks of that English chef yelling, screaming, and throwing plates and pans into the garbage as he gets mad at the cheftestants for screwing up scallops and other things. Apparently they have made some changes this year to the format. Gordon Ramsey has turned it into an art as to how many times they have to *bleep* his words out.

Sunday Titanic News

A pastor writes in the Beauregard Daily News  about how Titanic II is flirting with disaster. Not in the way most people think about Palmer’s project, but it repeats the same hubris that surrounded the original ship. Built as the greatest ship of its time and considered almost unsinkable, it showcased complacency on every level. And that to carelessness which led to the ship colliding with the iceberg and over 1,500 souls. Of all the many criticisms of Titanic II, actually this one makes the most sense.

Now many will not agree with his theology on the matter, but the essential point is about pride. And pride is one of those things that can lead to exactly what happened to Titanic. People were so confident in the technology they forgot to care about the dangers lurking right in front of them. You do not have to believe in Jesus to understand that point. They became too complacent with the dangers of not having enough lifeboats to evacuate passengers and crew. It was easy to not be concerned about pack ice because running into icebergs was a rare thing. The crew was not properly educated on this new ship and were unfamiliar with it leading to problems getting things done right. And you can go on. The lesson then as now is to watch yourself from falling into that trap. We face it in large and small ways.

In other news….

Billy Zane, who many recall from Cameron’s Titanic (perhaps the best role he ever had on screen), was asked recently if he would bring his two girls aboard Titanic II. He is quoted as saying “No. I’m not sure that I’d care to risk it.”  Okay Mr. Zane but when you get that invitation, I bet you are going to re-think it. The publicity alone is worth its weight in gold.

The Titanic Exhibition at Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is being extended by one month due to popular demand. It now runs to 28 April. For information about prices, times and hours go to fwmuseum.org.


1. Pastor’s Corner: For What It’s Worth, Let’s Consider, Are You Flirting With Disaster? (10 Mar 2013, Beauregard Daily News)
2. Billy Zane Says Clive Palmer’s Ship ‘A Risk’ (10 Mar 2013, Herald Sun)
3. Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition Extended To April 28 In Fort Worth(8 Mar 2013, Pegasus News)

Friday Scramble

*Push back against Titanic II is going on right now. Most dislike it being called Titanic II saying it dishonors the memory of those who died in 1912. Others call it ghoulish. The pictures of what the inside will look like are erie to say the least. After all we have already had one Titanic that was unique. Titanic II would seem to take that away, at least in some people’s minds. Some object to the fact he will recreate First, Second and Third class. Palmer says it will give people the opportunity to experience what it was like in 1912.

Now I look at this as a gimmick. Cruise ships ply the waters of the globe selling spots to all kinds of people, from adventurers to eco-tourists. They go to the warm tropical waters and the icy cold of the north. Palmer wanted to do something radically different by recreating a historical cruise ship. He is onto something there. Riverboats are coming back, not as means to transport people up and down rivers or across lakes, but a tourist attractions. Cruise ships for rivers, if you prefer. The old paddle wheel driven boats have a following and are neat. So Palmer, sensing money to be made from Titanic, goes big. Really big. And he thinks he will make good money. He is probably right. A lot of people would take a cruise to see what it was like in 1912.

But it is Titanic! Well no. It is a replica. Unlike salvaging Titanic, which had many detractors since it was considered by many a grave, this merely recreates the ship but only in outward appearance. It will be a fully modern ship (except in the old fashioned gym) with all the bells and whistles except for a few things. No television and no internet for the passengers (one assumes the bridge officers though have access to it for urgent communications) in their rooms. Of course you can bring your mobile equipment aboard but there will be no wi-fi to hook up to (unless you have satellite).

I fully understand why people are not happy with Titanic II but remember you go on board by choice. No one is forcing anyone to take the ship. In fact, it could be a bust if it makes no money. There is no guarantee it will succeed. And as of this writing, no actual build contract has been signed. It could go all up in smoke and be nothing more than lots of talk in the end.

*Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition will be at the Lexington Center Museum & Gallery (Lexington, KY) from Oct 5 , 2013 – Jan 26 , 2014. You can get information about it here.

*While watching one of the early episodes of Seaquest, Dr. Ballard at the end commented about fiber optics and how they would change communication. That was back in 1993. Now in 2013 we see how accurate he was. Back then slow dial-up Internet was the norm (remember Prodigy anyone?) and Internet streaming was just a futuristic dream. Today many of us have switched to DSL for faster downloads and Internet streaming. A lot of this is possible because of fiber optics. A lot of kids born today will never know the real old days before cable (and remote controls), rotary phones, and telegrams. Email has become so common that the Post Office has lost money.

* Speaking of the old Post Office, it is in a terrible mess. It has crushing debt from pensions and declining revenues because more people use Internet that regular mail. For instance I get my credit card statements downloaded each month rather than by mail. Many of my bills I pay online as well (though not all). The day is coming when most catalogs will no longer be sent by mail but available (and personalized) from a their websites. Now I still send Christmas cards via regular mail and I get packages (usually small ones like books or other items from Amazon) via the Post Office. That is still cheaper than shipping by the private shippers like UPS. It comes as no surprise that a politician has suggested taxing email as a means to keep the Post Office afloat. It is already getting criticized but it was just a trial balloon. I suspect the plan is to surcharge every parcel shipment through a private carrier, lets say 15% of the shipping cost or a flat fee of perhaps $5.00. Since these guys cannot ever charge less than the Post Office, you are sure to bring in money. And no doubt the government could require all its contractors to ship (except for heavy freight) through the Post Office. So do not be surprised if discussion of Internet charges to fund the U.S Post Office or surcharges for using private parcel carriers gets louder.

A Disgraced Astor Heir and The Case of the Astor Watch

John Jacob Astor IV
Photo Wikipedia

This is like a Perry Mason novel. An heir to John Jacob Astor, Anthony ‘Tony’ Marshall,was convicted in 2009 of conning his mother, Brooke Astor, out of $60 million. He was sentenced to jail but living a quiet life while appealing the conviction. He showed up at the recent bash given by Clive Palmer. While there, he showed off a watch that was recovered from John Jacob Astor’s body and saying he was selling it for $1 million. Marshall claims the watch was given to his mother by her third husband, Vincent Astor. However John Miottel, a collector, claims that he owns the real Astor watch.

Here is the story everyone agrees one.  Astor’s body was found with the gold watch, cuff links, and a ring. Vincent Astor claimed the body in Nova Scotia and wore the watch. He left the watch to his godson, William Dobbyn V. After that the story changes. Elizabeth Dobbyn auctioned the watch in 1997 where Miottel bought it. In Marshall’s story, the watch was never auctioned off and given to his mother by Vincent Astor. So we are left with two Astor watches but only one of them can be the real deal. Miottel claims he documentation to prove its authenticity. The New York Post saw the documentation showing it had been auctioned by Brunk Auctions in Ashland, N.C.

So on one hand you have a real estate magnate who collects luxury ocean-liner memorabilia with documentation to prove his claim. And on the other you have someone convicted of defrauding his mother of $60 million, first-degree grand larceny, and scheming to defraud who says the watch came from Vincent Astor to his mother. The Gothamist has a good retort to make Marshall’s alleged Astor watch more valuable: “Just have it sink with the obviously doomed Titanic II and then fish it back up again.”


1. Astor Pariah’s Titanic Greed (28 Feb 2013, New York Post)

2. Astor’s Son Accused Of Hawking Fake Heirlooms To Titanic II Partiers(5 Mar 2013 ,Gothamist)

3. Brooke Astor’s Disgraced Son Is ‘Selling A Fraudulent Titanic Heirloom Pocket Watch For $1M And Claiming It Is The One Worn By John Jacob Astor To His Death’(5 Mar 2013, Daily Mail)

Real Science:New Robot Advances Underwater Research

With all the talk of Titanic II lately, it is forgotten there are still important things being done to advance underwater exploration. Like at the University of Delaware where they are testing a small Remotely Operated Vehicle. According to The Review,the ROV “has a front camera, a frontward high definition camera, a rear camera and sonar capabilities and is controlled by a joystick, which moves it to the front, back and side to side, while other buttons control the angle of the machine and cameras. The robot requires additional work for the sonar software and incoming data collection, as he says other people are required for such operations.”

And yes there is a Titanic connection of sorts (aside from the obvious ROV use). This ROV will be used in July to locate shipwrecks off Cape Henlopen in Delaware and then head off to the Aegean near Turkey to work with Robert Ballard.

Source: New Robot Advances Underwater Research (4 Mar 2013,The Review)

Sunday Titanic News

Clive Palmer and his plans for Titanic II still fill the news. At the press conference where the actual plans and pictures were revealed, he was asked if it was a hoax. His actual response cannot be printed here (this is a family-friendly forum) but it was a resounding no. Many are skeptical and rightly so. Building a Titanic replica will be very expensive but Palmer insists he will do it. Certainly the pictures of the proposed ship and its interiors are remarkable. He really does want to recreate Titanic by making it look like it was in 1912.

There will, of course, be some modern additions like a casino but normal luxuries like spas (there will be Turkish spas as on the original), televisions, outdoor pools, and Internet connections will be absent . As to what entertainment will be on Titanic II, Palmer is unclear. However one does not need to be clairvoyant they will likely try to sign some major stars (calling Celine Dion for one!) to do shows. I think a lot of well known comedy and musical performers will line up to perform on Titanic II.

Passengers can expect to find period clothing in their rooms and Palmer intends to sell packages that allow you to rotate through first, second, and third class. Titanic II will have less passengers than the original. Titanic and ships like her made money from cramming every nook and cranny to make money in the transatlantic trade. Today passengers are coming aboard for a holiday and ships are built differently. While large cruise ships can carry 2,800 passengers and up, smaller tonnage ships may just have 450.

Palmer likes to say sailing on Titanic II will be a chance to spend time with family. And he insists people are already lining up to buy tickets. Even better he expects people to line up to come aboard in port to have pictures taken on the bow to recreate a scene from the famous movie (you know that one, right?)

So is this for real? Many are skeptical but if anyone could pull this off, Palmer just might. As for Titanic II being in bad taste, he disputes that and says it will pay tribute to those who sailed on Titanic. The papers with the shipyard are scheduled to be signed in the next few weeks. Come 2016, the big news might very well the launch of Titanic II and possibly another Titanic replica down the road.

Some Recent Titanic II News Articles

1. Titanic II Is No Hoax, Insists Billionaire Mining Magnate(2 Mar 2013, Metro)
2. Titanic II ‘Not In Bad Taste’, Insists Maker(2 Mar 2013, Sky News)
3. The Titanic time warp: We knew it was being rebuilt, but as these amazing new designs show, it really WILL be 1912 all over again (Daily Mail, 2 Mar 2013)
4. New Titanic II liner Will Be So Successful A THIRD Titanic May Be Built Says Magnat(2 Mar 2013, Daily Echo
5. Australian To Build ’21st Century Titanic'(2 Mar 2013,Irish Times)*

*We no longer provide links to Republic of Ireland newspapers due to policy demanding payment for news links.