All posts by Mark Taylor

Today is the Summer Solstice

The sun rising over Stonehenge on summer solstice(2005) Photo:Andrew Dunn (Wikimedia)
The sun rising over Stonehenge on summer solstice(2005)
Photo:Andrew Dunn (Wikimedia)

Today is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. For those below the equatorial line, it is the Winter Solstice. The June Solstice usually takes place between June 20-22. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it usually is the longest day of sunlight as the North Pole tilts directly towards the sun. Which translates into more sunlight particularly the further north you live. For those more closer to the North Pole (Alaska, parts of Canada, and Scandinavian countries)the sun literally never sets during this time of year. Of course the reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere. They get less sunlight on the June Solstice and the closer you are to the Antarctic Circle means less sunlight or total night.

The coming of summer is usually a time for celebration in many cultures. Festivals in Northern Europe celebrate summer and the fertility of the Earth. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated to mark the festival. Many cultures honor the sun in some fashion. Modern day pagans and druids also celebrate the day with their own festivals and many go to Stonehenge in England to witness the first rays of summer.

Rare Titanic Postcard Up for Auction;Legal Action in Premier Exhibitions Bankruptcy

New York Times Front Page 16 April 1912
Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

Titanic postcard with eerie message written by maid goes up for auction (New York Post, 19 June 2018)
A postcard written by a maid on the Titanic to a friend which said “wish you were here” is expected to fetch more than $26,000 at auction.
Sarah Daniels wrote to pal Nell Green on April 11, 1912 – four days before the doomed liner hit an iceberg and sank which resulted in 1,503 lives lost. The pencil-written postcard, which bears a black-and-white picture of the Titanic, was addressed to Miss Green of Birmingham, England. The card has a post stamp of Queenstown, now Cobh in Cork, Ireland, which was the port from which mail written on board was posted.

-The postcard will be auctioned as part of a lot on July 18, 2018 by Warwick & Warwick Auctioneers.

Premier Exhibitions Update:
The Lawsuit is filed….After obtaining permission to pursue legal action, the Equity Committee of Premier Shareholders has filed suit against Mark Sellers, Sellers Capital, Daoping Bao and others alleging breach of fiduciary duty, a hasty merger with Daoping Bao without proper consideration of the merger, other opportunities, proper accounting review of Dinoking among other things. In short, you guys did a lousy job of running the company and an even more lousy job with merging with DinoKing. And now we want the shareholders, who lost equity in all of this, to get compensation. Ought to be interesting to watch. You can read the complaint here.

Summer is here and kids want to play? How about a Titanic Bouncy Slide?
The recent Taste of Charlotte festival usually has little controversy. This year for the event there was an inflatable slide in the shape of the sinking Titanic. It struck many as odd and in some cases offensive reported Fox46. Now this slide has been around for a while so it is nothing new. And while some did not like it, others had no problem having fun. Fun or tacky? Well I have said it before, if you turn tragedy into something like this you are bound to not appreciate that 1,500 died on a cold April night in 1912.
Source:Fun or Offensive? ‘Sinking Titanic’ slide at Taste of Charlotte turns heads (Fox46,12 June 2018)


Titanic News: Premier Exhibitions Bankruptcy Update, More Details On How Titanic Was Found

Premier Exhibitions Update-On May 25, 2018 the Bankruptcy Court granted the Equity Committee legal standing to pursue claims against current and former officers and directors of Premier Exhibitions. In short it means they have the ability to demand they pay damages to help reduce the outstanding debts of the company. Since they have retained counsel, it means they expect it will result in litigation to determine whether they are liable and if so, how much they will have to pay.
View original document here.
View materials on the case here.

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

New Details on Secret Navy Mission Where Titanic Was Found-Some years ago it was revealed Titanic was discovered as part of a secret Navy mission that Ballard was on. He was sent on a mission to try to find out how two U.S. nuclear submarines had sunk. Using new submersible technology Ballard found those wrecks and the approximate location of Titanic. The National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. reveals more of the details of that secret mission. “Titanic: The Untold Story” delves into the many details that have not been publicly revealed until now.

In 1985, Ballard’s mission was to dive to depths of 9,800 feet using a towed camera system called Argo to find and document the imploded remains of the Scorpion. The objective of the mission was to locate the submarine’s nuclear reactor and nuclear weapons and to gain evidence to help determine what led to her loss. After concluding his successful investigations of the Scorpion, Ballard used the final 12 days of his expedition to discover the RMS Titanic at a depth of 12,540 feet. The following year, while the public was enthralled and distracted by the discovery of the Titanic, Ballard returned on a second classified mission to the Thresher and Scorpion.

Visitors will view artifacts, materials and photographs from the U.S. Navy Archives, and see the submersible Alvin that dived to Titanic. They will also see a variety of Titanic related artifacts from the National Archives and movie memorabilia from 20th Century Fox.

Information about museum hours of operation and tickets can be found at https://www.nationalgeographic.org/dc/.


Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who gave all to serve this country. At national cemeteries and smaller ones around the country, flags and flowers have been placed to remember them. We also remind ourselves that freedom is not easily granted, often requires great sacrifice. President Lincoln made note of this in his famous 1863 Gettysburg Address:

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery decorated by U.S. flags on Memorial Day weekend.
Photo:Public domain
Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, 1924
Photo: U.S. Library of Congress, digital id npcc 11495
Boy Touching Gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery(2012)

Titanic Switch Theory Debunked on YouTube

March 6, 1912: Titanic (right) had to be moved out of the drydock so her sister Olympic (left), which had lost a propeller, could have it replaced.
Robert John Welch (1859-1936), Harland & Wolff
Public domain

If you have studied Titanic long enough, you are sure to come across various conspiracy theories. They vary from the supernatural (mummy curse) to the exotic (the Iluminati). And some that are even a stretch for conspiracy theorists to wrap around (like time travel or German submarine sinking Titanic). Then there is the switch theory.

What is the switch theory? That White Star switched the ships so that the actual ship that sank was Olympic not Titanic. The reason varies on who is making the claim. Some years ago Robin Gardiner made the claim in his book Titanic:The Ship That Never Sank? that it was done so that White Star could collect damages on the new ship.

The underlying reason for the switch is the HMS Hawke collided with Olympic in 1911. Olympic was determined to be at fault and Lloyd’s of London refused to pay the claim to White Star. So they decided to switch ships and sink Titanic to claim insurance. Of course the planned sinking went awry and you know the rest.

The book is still out there and has some believers on You Tube and elsewhere repeating it as fact to this day. Enter into the fray Myles Power who decided to take on this claim on his YouTube channel. And it certainly has gotten a lot of interest as newspapers like the Daily Star reporting on it.  Power spends a lot of time going through the claim and debunking it. At last check it had over 37,000 views and growing.

I read the book when it first came out and shook my head after I closed the last page. It ought to have been an alternative history book. He is not the first nor likely the last that has come up with wildly speculative (and sometimes entertaining) conspiracy theories. In the age of the Internet though, Gardiner is finding that his claims can be debunked for the whole world to see. No word from Gardiner on what he thinks about all of this. He is probably hoping you will spend money at Amazon to buy his book. Check out your local library and see if you can check it out for free.

FYI: Here is a post I did back in 2014 that goes through many of the various theories about Titanic sinking including the conspiracy and supernatural ones.


Recent Titanic News: Titanic Survivor Accused of Cowardice Cleared;Death of Titanic Expert

Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon (1862-1931), survivor of the Titanic disaster (1912)
Public Domain

Relative of Titanic survivor accused of cowardice clears his name (5 May 2018,Hereford Times)
Documents and letters written by Sir Cosmo and his wife, a famous fashion designer of her day, came to light in a cardboard box lying for over 100 years in a solicitor’s offices. “I received a phone call out of the blue saying they had found a box with my family name on it and would I like to have it,” said Sir Andrew. “Of course, I said yes.” The find reveals not just the events of that night, which show beyond doubt that the Duff Gordons acted quite properly, but also includes a long list of Lady Duff Gordon’s possessions.

World-renowned Titanic expert Gowan passes away (6 May 2018, Corsicana Daily Sun)
“Phil was arguably the top Titanic passengers and crew expert in the world.” Trower said Gowan’s research of the people was groundbreaking in that he was the first to come up with concrete numbers, that are now called the Gowan Numbers. His research revealed that 1,496 people died on the Titanic, and 712 survived. His research was duplicated by others who came up with the exact same numbers, so his are considered the Gold Standard now, Trower said. “We could sit down to dinner as we did in 2013, and Phil could regale us with stories about the passengers, those who lived and died — his knowledge was limitless,” he said. “We could talk on the phone, in person, via email … but he hated text messaging. Refused to do it. He’d never have the same story twice — he had that deep of a knowledge of the stories.”

Remembering The Hindenburg Disaster

Airship Hindenburg crash in Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937
Photo originally taken by Murray Becker, AP
Public Domain

On 6 May 1937 the German passenger airship Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed while trying to dock at Naval Air Station Lakehurst near Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 passengers and crew, 35 perished and one worker was killed on the ground.

Airships were a popular way to travel. They were comfortable and often afforded their passengers the ability to see things that passengers of airplanes would not often see. The Germans had perfected the use of airships while the United States suffered humiliating crashes that confounded designers. The German Zeppelins used hydrogen for many years without any major incident until 1937.

Hindenburg over New York hours prior to the disaster. (Public domain)

The event was caught on newsreel and on radio. Herbert Morrision’s radio coverage is classic and you can listen to at History.com. You can also listen to this one on YouTube which points out that Morrison’s voice was much higher than normal due to the tape recording speed (he was known for his deep voice). His actual audio report sounds different when you hear it as it ought to have been. A British Pathe newsreel of the disaster be viewed here.

While sabotage was suspected, neither the American or German inquiries concluded that was the cause. The American report concludes:

The cause of the accident was the ignition of a mixture of free hydrogen and air. Based upon the evidence, a leak at or in the vicinity of cell 4 and 5 caused a combustible mixture of hydrogen and air to form in the upper stern part of the ship in considerable quantity; the first appearance of an open flame was on the top of the ship and a relatively short distance forward of the upper vertical fin. The theory that a brush discharge ignited such mixture appears most probable.

The many theories that continue to persist are:

  • Sabotage
  • Lightning
  • Static Spark
  • Engine Failure
  • Incendiary Paint
  • Hydrogen Leak
  • Fuel Leak

Mythbusters examined the incendiary paint hypothesis and concluded it did not cause the catastrophe. Many believe the most likely reason for the explosion is that a tiny tear in the fabric or an exposed piece of metal was the entry point for static electricity to ignite the hydrogen. Hydrogen would never be used again for airships after this.

Airships faded from use though the famous Goodyear blimps over sports and other events are used to film the events below. And with the desire to conserve our environment these days, helium filled airships may yet return as a means of travel.

Titanic Exhibition Coming To Richmond, Canada

Image:Premier Exhibitions

According to Richmond News, Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition will be at the Lipont Centre in Richmond, Canada from 23 June 2018-11 Jan 2019. The newspaper reports that that Lipont was selected because of its spaciousness and convenient location. Toni McAfee, executive director of Lipont Centre, told the newspaper: “At Lipont Place the Titanic exhibition will find a natural home allowing both the venue and the exhibition to make their debut in Metro Vancouver,” says McAfee. “We look forward to welcoming all visitors, local and international, to the magnificent space and this world-class exhibition.”

Details on hours of operation and costs can be found at titanicvancouver.com.

Source:World-class Titanic exhibition comes to Richmond (Richmond News,30 April 2018)

Sunday Titanic News

 

Photo:Daemonic Kangaroo(Wikipedia)

Haunting video of Titanic 100 years on exposes the cabins and hallways where 1,500 died (Daily Star, 27 April 2018)
The clip shows the cabins and hallways where passengers slept, ate and partied on their journey from Southampton to New York. It also reveals cooking utensils, bottles and cutlery, in a room where it is likely chef’s prepared meals for their wealthy passengers. Another angle displays the sheer size of the vessel – which remains a shipwreck near the Canadian island of Newfoundland.

Autistic boy overcomes obstacles to build largest Lego replica of the Titanic (WIVB.com,26 April 2018)
The world’s largest Lego Titanic replica is 24 feet long and five feet tall — and it was built by a very special boy. Fifteen-year-old Brynjar Karl Birgisson is on the autism spectrum, and he developed a passion for learning about the Titanic at a young age. When he turned 10, Brynjar decided to combine his passion for the Titanic with his other love: Legos. The painstaking task took 700 hours over 11 months and 56,000 Lego bricks to complete, but when he was finished, Brynjar had built the world’s largest Titanic replica made out of Legos.

Menu for first ever meal onboard the Titanic makes auction record (Antiques Trade Gazette,25 April 2018)
Henry Aldridge & Son offered the lots at its Titanic & Liner Auction on April 21, which made an overall auction total of around £330,000.
The menu for the first meal served on the ill-fated ship had been owned by Titanic second officer Charles Lightoller, the most senior member of the crew to survive the Titanic disaster. It sold for a hammer price of £80,000, a record for a menu from the ship. The menu was previously auctioned in 2003 when it sold for £28,000 at Sotheby’s, and a similar menu, with a strip missing at the bottom and owned by fifth officer Harold Lowe, sold at £51,000 at Aldridge’s in 2004.

His blood ran cold’: The act that sealed the Titanic’s fate (New Zealand Herald, 23 April 2018)
The nearest boat to the great cruise liner, the Californian, was less than 20 kilometres away, within eyeshot — and a crew member informed Captain Stanley Lord the Titanic was sending up distress rockets. Yet, surrounded by icebergs, he decided not to act. He didn’t wake his wireless operator, he didn’t try to contact the ship and he didn’t head towards it. “The hazard to himself and his command was too great to risk responding,” Titanic researcher Daniel Allen Butler told news.com.au. “The Californian did nothing.”

The rarely told story of Jack Phillips, the Titanic hero from Surrey (Get Surrey, 21 April 2018)
The story of Jack Phillips, the Titanic hero from Surrey, is a well-known one. The 25-year-old Godalming-born telegraphist was aboard the Titanic when it hit an iceberg on April 14, 1912. He stayed at his post until the ship sank, frantically contacting nearby ships and saving hundreds of lives. More than 1,500 people drowned but the Carpathia, a ship alerted to the Titanic’s plight by the signals, picked up 705 survivors. Jack sadly died during the disaster but his co-worker Harold Bride survived to tell the story. Following the 106th anniversary of the catastrophic sinking, Titanic enthusiast from Guildford, Mia Fernandez, 30, claims there is a part of the story that is rarely remembered.

The Titanic’s Irish Legacy (Irish America, 20 April 2018)
It was White Star Line who paid for the headstones that went up during the autumn of 1912. The Titanic bodies, those not claimed by relatives, were divided between three different graveyards, the biggest share going to the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Here, 121 bodies are buried with 42 remaining unidentified. A gentle sloping of the ground made it necessary to lay the headstones out in three curved lines, reminiscent of the curve of a ship’s bow. One of the Titanic occupants is Jack Dawson whose grave, thanks to Leonardo di Caprio’s fictional namesake in the 1997 film Titanic, perhaps rivals Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise with hundreds of visitors leaving flowers and trinkets around it. The second graveyard, the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery’s Titanic plot contains 19 victims, including Mrs Margaret Rice from Athlone, Ireland, who was travelling with her five young sons, none of whom were ever found. Four victims were never identified.

Why you’ve never heard of the six Chinese men who survived the Titanic (Washington Post, 19 April 2018)
That man would be one of six Chinese passengers who survived the Titanic, a little-known fact about the historic disaster that has largely remained untold or distorted, owing to a racially hostile environment toward Chinese people in the West at the turn of the 20th century. Now, the lives of these men — who they were, how they survived that fateful night and why they were barred from entering the United States — are being examined in a new documentary, “The Six,” by Arthur Jones and Steven Schwankert.

Michigan Organizers To Unveil Titanic Memorial In May (WKAR.org, 14 April 2018)
The Great Lakes Titanic Connection will reveal the Michigan Titanic Memorial in Marine City on May 12, the Times Herald reported . The memorial will list the 69 names of the passengers headed to Michigan who were among the 1,500 who died while sailing from Southampton, England, for the United States in 1912.The group raised $6,500 to pay for the memorial. The idea began when Margaret Micoff started collecting Titanic memorabilia for her boutique clothing store. She studied the Titanic’s history and stumbled across a community of people who were also fascinated with the story. “When you have that many people, and nobody has done a memorial like other states have done, I thought we should,” Micoff said.

106 years after sinking, Nova Scotians commemorate Titanic victims (CTV News,15 April 2018)
Deanna Ryan-Meister, president of the Titanic Society of Atlantic Canada, says she’s not surprised the disaster is still holding peoples’ attention after more than a century. She says it’s important to continue to honour those who started their voyage with hope and ended it with tragedy.