Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Recent Titanic News

[Editors Note-Still catching up on news. Been busy as of late so I have not been able to post much]

1. Rare Titanic photo going under the hammer (Daily Echo, 10 Feb 2017)
A rare photograph of the ill-fated Titanic,which was bought for “a song” at a country auction, is now set to fetch hundreds of pounds when it is auctioned again next week. The black and white photograph, in a glazed oak frame, was taken shortly before the Titanic sank – with the loss of more than 1,500 lives – on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in April 1912.

2. Experts are disputing a documentary which says a fire was partly to blame for the Titanic sinking (thejournal.ie, 11 Feb 2017)
The programme argued that long-hidden photographs from the time showed that the Titanic’s hull had supposedly been damaged by a fire before it set off on its only journey, leaving it weak and susceptible when it hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. In the documentary, Moloney noted that researchers had known about the fire before but had tended to dismiss it as an ‘irrelevancy’, arguing that it should have been taken more seriously as a cause of the sinking. The documentary also claimed there were other issues which contributed to the ship sinking, such as substandard materials and shoddy workmanship, primarily due to cost-cutting. However a team of seven maritime historians has published an article completely refuting the programme’s claim that the coal fire was one of the main reasons why the ship sank. “However intriguing the claims set forth in Titanic: The New Evidence may be, they run counter to a wealth of well-researched facts about the ship and its sinking,” said J Kent Layton, a Titanic historian.

3. James Cameron really has a thin skin it seems when it comes to certain aspect of his famous Titanic movie. Fans debate the many points of this and that in the movie. One such example is whether or not Jack could have fit on the door Rose was on. Now I have not spent any real time dwelling on this point since we know this is just a movie. Apparently it got the attention of Mythbusters and they proved it was possible for Jack to have survived on the floating door with extra buoyancy. Okay that ought to have more or less settled it and we could move on. Not Cameron. So he recently commented on it by saying Jack would never have survived and that Mythbusters was full of poop (he used a barnyard word that is far more graphic for this family friendly blog). Of course he was on that episode of Mythbusters and never said is was all poop. He does say it was in the script he was to die. Okay. Moving on.
James Cameron Debunks ‘Titanic’ Theory That Jack Could Fit On The Door (Huffington Post Canada, 1 Feb 2017)


Titanic Musings:Of Titanic Fires and Ships That Never Were

Titanic Leaving Queenstown 11 April 1912. Believed to be the last photograph of ship before it sank.
Public Domain

Most Titanic researchers know that there was a serious coal fire when the ship set sail. Bunker fires are not new but they can be extremely difficult to deal considering the high heat that is often generated as a result. The heat can result in visible damage to the ship and even result in causing the steel to loose some of its strength. This was seen on 9-11 when jet fuel burning at high temperatures weakened the steel causing the building collapse.

In the case of Titanic though, it has always been a question whether or not the coal fire had some connection to Titanic’s demise. Senan Melony certainly thinks so in a documentary. As reported by The Independent, Melony argues that the fire caused damage to the hull which made it less strong when it hit the iceberg. And he argues that White Star president J. Bruce Ismay told the ship officers not to mention the fire to the passengers. Damage was visible and to prevent it from being seen Titanic was backed into Southampton. Malony believes Titanic ought never to have been put to sea because of the fire damage. It was not the cause of Titanic’s demise but a contributing factor in it.

The Flying Dutchman, Circa 1896
Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847–1917)
Public Domain

SS Ourang Medan
The SS Ourang Medan is a ghost ship that was shipwrecked in the Dutch East Indies in 1948 and its crew died under mysterious circumstances. The story was reported in a Dutch-Indonesian newspaper in three accounts from February through March 1948. While two of the later articles mention the name of the ship as Ourang Medan, the first one did not. The incident was reported as taking place 400 nautical miles southeast of the Marshall Islands. A survivor who made it to an atoll told his story before dying. He told a missionary the ship was carrying sulphuric acid and was not properly stored. The poisonous fumes killed off must of the crew and it later sank. The ship was sailing to Costa Rica from an unknown Chinese port and because of the cargo was avoiding authorities.  More recent research found other news articles from the Associated Press and from some U.K. newspapers. The location is different as is the SOS message. Interesting is that the source is the same: Silvio Scherzi of Trieste.

Many speculative writers (some who dabble in the Bermuda Triangle or supernatural/paranormal reporting)reported the Ourang Medan as well. The story somewhat parallels another famous story: the Mary Celeste. The Celeste was found abandoned on 5 Dec 1872 by the Dei Gratia. The ship had ample provisions and belongings were undisturbed. But the crew was never seen again. Over time false details and fantasy were added. Sensationalist writers talked up the story using supernatural angles or connecting it to the mythical Bermuda Triangle (it was found well outside that area). After a salvage hearing in Gibraltar, there was no definitive cause as to why the ship was found abandoned. And so the mystery remains.

The Orang Medan likely never existed since proof of its existence has never been found. Most likely it was a story embellished likely from the smallest sliver of truth to generate media interest. Unlike the Celeste, which is a true mystery of the sea, the Orang Medan is an episode of alternate science reality show likely on the SyFy network.


Titanic News & Musings

Photo:Daemonic Kangaroo(Wikipedia)
Photo:Daemonic Kangaroo(Wikipedia)

Titanic Memorial Plaque Not Stolen Reports BBC News
A Titanic memorial plaque at Vokes Park in Southampton, UK was thought stolen earlier this week. The plaque, erected in the 1990’s by the British Titanic Society, was in fact removed by staff of Associated British Ports. The plaque had fallen off its plinth and was in danger of being stolen reports BBC News. The plaque will be returned and affixed to prevent it from being stolen but the date has not been announced.
Source: Southampton docks Titanic memorial plaque mystery solved (24 Nov 2016, BBC News)

Photo: Mossgreen Auctioneers
Photo: Mossgreen Auctioneers

Rare Parcel Label Address To Titanic To Be Auctioned Off
Another case of something unintentional ending up as a Titanic memorabilia. A parcel label that possibly was on a package of blank telegram forms for the Marconi wireless operators on Titanic is up for auction in Australia reports United Press International (UPI). The package was given to the first office on Olympic, Titanic’s sister ship and to be delivered to Titanic when it arrived in New York. It is believed the Olympic first officer gave the label as a souvenir after Titanic sank and eventually ended up with a private collector who is putting it up for auction. Mossgreen Auctioneers is handling the auction and is expected to fetch $20,000.
Source:Postal label addressed to Titanic expected to raise $20,000 at auction (18 Nov 2016, UPI)

The Day After The Feast

Well Thanksgiving has come to an end and today is called Black Friday here in the United States. People might think that an odd name considering what happens. Many retail chains, mostly the bigger ones, offer special deals on Black Friday to lure people into their stores. It is a clever marketing idea to get a lot of stuff off the shelves for the Christmas holiday. So they deep discount on anything they want to get rid off. Loss leaders are put up to reel in many to buy even more than they intended. The desire to maximize the profits led many chains to open up on Thanksgiving. This has not been welcomed by many employees who want to spend more time at home. Then again some retailers do sweeten the pot, so to speak, with time and half pay. Some think that is required by U.S. federal law but it is not. Unless you work over forty hours a week, that rule does not apply. It is up to the employer to decide if they want to pay you extra for working on a holiday. If you are part of a union, then in the contract with the employer it may specify that working on holidays gets you time. Most employers who can afford usually will pay time and half to get their workers to come in. It takes a lot of people to stock those shelves and check them out at the cashier stand.

I decided this year to not put up the usual safety warnings about deep frying turkey. This video by the Fresno fire department explains it pretty well. Hey you do not need an expensive outdoor fryer. You can buy a electric deep fryer designed for the same thing for the kitchen. You measure in the oil precisely, insert the turkey and close the lid. I saw one video of an old guy wearing shorts and no shoes trying to put the turkey in the fryer. The oil overflowed, flames erupted and the man ran for his life while someone called 911. Enough said.

Have a nice Thanksgiving weekend everyone,


From the Halloween files: Something Wicked This Way Comes

something_wicked_this_way_comes_firstRay Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, I recently realized, is an underrated gem. Wandering through my local library one recent Saturday, I noticed the book on the science fiction/fantasy shelf. I realized never read this book and checked it out. I wish I had read the book sooner as the story is compelling and scary. A perfect book for autumn and for Halloween.

The story is told primarily from the point of view of two 13 year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway. They are in the cusp of leaving childhood and forever changed when Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show comes to town in autumn. It is unusual for a carnival to come so late in the year and the boys are excited. It comes when everyone is asleep at 3am in the morning but the boys watch it set up and are excited about it. As the story progresses though, it becomes clear the carnival is not at all what it seems to be. They see their teacher, Miss Foley, come out of the Mirror Maze in a panic. And later they see Mr. Cooger turned into a 12 year-old boy by riding the carousel backwards. Cooger then insinuates himself into Miss Foley’s house as a relative. Later when Cooger ages back on the carousel, Jim wants to hop on but Will accidently hits the breaker. The carousel spins out of control and Cooger grows very old. Ultimately he becomes a new act for the carnival when the boys return with the police, Mr. Electrico. Mr. Dark, aka the Illustrated Man for the many tattoos on his boy of the souls he has taken, realizes the two boys are a serious threat that must be dealt with.

The carnival is a façade, designed to ensnare the unwary to become either servants for Dark or to send them back home more miserable than before. Dark and his cohorts are the Autumn People. For them the calendar goes from September to October and stops after Halloween. They are locked perpetually in that world, much like a vampire is, neither going forward nor backward. Autumn, since it is the transition from summer to winter, is a melancholy period of leaves falling, cooler evenings and other things. And the Autumn People thrive during this period finding people who have lost the joy of living and replaced it with fears, guilt, and misery. Charles Holloway, Will’s father, is sad at being too old to play with his son. And he fears death. Those fears and many more draw Dark and his carnival to their dark harvest.

Dark seems to have all the power at his disposal as all evil villains do. He manages to capture the boys and nearly brings about Charles’ death until he realizes the one true power that will defeat Dark and his people: joy. It is interesting that in this battle between good and evil that it comes down to something simple. There is no waving of swords, chanting of magical phrases. Instead Charles realizes that the simple love he shares with his son gives him power over Dark. And once they realize he has that power, it truly frightens them. For it is the one thing that can truly kill them. Joy, laughter, happiness are the weapons against evil here and it shatters Dark and his carnival. Dark is killed by simple affection in the end.

The depiction of good versus evil is focused not on the spiritual but on how we allow our self-perceptions blind us to the joys of life. If we allow our miseries to cloud our outlook, it can blind us to the real evils that come knocking on our door. The lightning rod salesman wanted to meet a beautiful woman. He did and got turned into a dwarf to serve in the carnival with no memories of what he once was. Miss Foley was seduced by Cooger’s promise of youth that she failed to see he was not her nephew at all. Enjoying simple everyday joys counteract the bad things we have in our life.

With its skillful combination of fantasy and horror, this book is considered at the top of many horror lists. Ray Bradbury wrote a lot of books, many of them in the science fiction genre, but also wrote others outside of those parameters. It was made into a Disney film in 1983 and one of the rare dark movies made by them. While it differs in some ways from his book (Bradbury was involved with the movie), it gets the setting right and the basic story is there. The book though is far superior to it and recommended reading when you want a genuine spooky book that will entertain and delight. Unlike Stephen King, who frequently lambasts small towns in his books, the small town setting is exactly the right place for this story. And its story of good versus evil has never gone out of style.

Further Information
Ray Bradbury (Official Site)
Ray Bradbury Biography (Biography.com)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (Sparknotes)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (Goodreads)

Jack Was Never There

conspiracy-theory-alertTaking a stroll down conspiracy lane finds a new entrant. This has nothing to do with the real Titanic but the fictional retelling in James Cameron’s Titanic. If you have seen this Academy Award winning movie, you know the story of Jack and Rose. But some out there, perhaps with lots of time to spend with nothing to do, are putting out the theory that Jack was simply made up by Rose. The thinking is this: since she was being trapped into a marriage she did not want, she created the delusion of Jack. While it is plausible in some senses, it begs the question of who painted her (did she paint herself?)or how he was seen by others at a dinner. Then again these are inconvenient truths for the conspiracy minded.
Source:This sinister Titanic fan theory about Rose puts an entirely different AND darker slant on the film (Daily Mirror,4 Oct 2016)

Recent Titanic News

Titanic advertising from New York Times, 10 April 1912. Public Domain (Wikimedia)
Titanic advertising from New York Times, 10 April 1912.
Public Domain (Wikimedia)

1. Premier Exhibitions Asks Court For More Time To File Reorganization Plan (Bankruptcy Court News, 3 Oct 2016)
Premier Exhibitions has petitioned the court to allow it to extend the period to file a reorganization plan under Chapter 11 to 17 Jan 2017. “Under the circumstances of these cases, a premature termination of exclusivity would deny the Debtors a meaningful opportunity to negotiate and propose a confirmable plan and would be antithetical to the paramount objectives of Chapter 11. Termination of exclusivity at this point in time could have the undesirable effect of encouraging the development of competing multiple plans that could lead to unwarranted confrontations, litigation, and administrative expenses.” To cut to the chase of all the fancy legal wording, it means if they do not get the extended time other plans may emerge. Which sort of hints that there might be some other plan out there they want to head off.

2. For those on the Netflix service, your long wait has ended. James Cameron’s Titanic is coming to Netflix this month. At least for those in the U.S. Of course you could purchase it and never have to worry when it shows up on one of the online streaming services.

Haunted Graveyard Photo: Junior Libby (publicdomainpictures.net)
Haunted Graveyard
Photo: Junior Libby (publicdomainpictures.net)

3. It is officially Halloween season here at Titanic News Channel. Our staff is up for the occasion. The mummy has come out its sleeping chamber to render some scares to kids in the area. Our old friend Headless is planning his usual evening strolls with pumpkin in hand looking for someone’s head. A few fluttering ghosts have been seen as well. We have classic zombies (not the Romero version) wandering about as well and quite possibly Frankenstein and Count Dracula as well. The stores are well stocked with Halloween candy to the rafters. Sadly Halloween is on a Monday this year. And with all the political correctness nonsense, even saying Happy Halloween in some schools is not only discouraged but banned. All the more reason for many parents to band together, invite the little kids over, and have their own Halloween event.

Autumn Has Arrived

The Autumnal or September Equinox occurred yesterday. 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)
English Autumn
George Hodan (publicdomainpictures.net)

Titanic Tidbits and Musings

Summer is drawing to a close and schools are opening up. Sleepy eyed kids are getting on the local buses again to make the journey to school. It has been a quiet summer Titanic wise. Not a whole lot of news though some important news did occur.

United_States_Bankruptcy_Court_SealPremier Exhibitions Declares Bankruptcy To Reorganize
The big news before the summer began was Premier declaring bankruptcy under Chapter 11 and seeking to reorganize. Typically this means the company has enough resources to stay afloat and needs the courts to reduce its liabilities. For creditors it means they usually get something but not everything. It means the court has to take a hard look at how the company operates which means an intensive look at the financial records and other aspects of the company.

While things have not gone well for a while with Premier, it was thought the Dinoking merger and bringing aboard its ceo to manage would bring things in line. What apparently occurred is that the debts owed by Premier were far greater than the cash infusion the merger could solve. So to stave off likely lawsuits from creditors, they headed to bankruptcy court. Now one of the big arguments is over the French Collection. These artifacts were brought up with a joint expedition with IFREMER and are separate from the other artifacts covered under the U.S. Federal Court salvage award. That salvage award limits how the artifacts can be sold, specifically as one collection making it very difficult to find buyers due to the high cost. However Premier believed it had clear title to the French artifacts and wanted to sell some of them to pay off debts. And sought permission from the court to do this. It was denied, in part, because bankruptcy law requires an adversary action to remove any possible claims to items that will be sold or auctioned off to pay debts.

So Premier is suing the French government in federal court. Premier has submitted documents that appear to support their position. Meanwhile we wait on France to decide whether it will contest a possible sale or file a brief saying they will not fight it.

So Much For Palmer’s Titanic II
Well it appears to be over. After all the fanfare and some preliminary work, the Clive Palmer’s dream to recreate Titanic has come to an end. No one can blame him for wanting to bring it about. It is a great dream. Despite all the positive news spun out by his public relations team, financing the construction proved harder than realized. It was to be constructed in China but the date for the work start came and went, new dates were set, but the shipyard remained quiet. Then came news that once it was launched it would stop in Dubai. That raised speculation that investors from that area were keen on tying in their own Titanic themed areas with this new ship. And I speculated that perhaps money to build could come from there (or even be built there). But Palmer’s relations with the Chinese took a real nosedive with his criticisms of a Chinese company and the lack of Chinese investors in the project meant it would go nowhere. So without much fanfare and no publicity, construction of Clive Palmer’s Titanic II has ended.

Chinese Titanic II
Palmer’s version fizzled but China is building their Titanic II that will docked at a theme park. It will be full size and look exactly like the original. It will also be a hotel and tourist attraction. Visitors will be able to stay aboard, sample high-end late Edwardian age cuisine, and even visit the Titanic Sinking Simulator. That has caused a lot of controversy. Perhaps what will stun visitors from the West is that likely the message about Titanic will be strongly anti-capitalist and demonstrate why the Chinese way is more superior. Just do not mention their awful human rights record or persecution of those who practice religion of any kind.

Masterchef
The current season is interesting but has its usual combination of the excellent, the not-so-good, and those just filling a slot until they are dropped. Poor Nathan is the butt of so many jokes. The bow tied tuxedo salesman (and he always wears a suit even when outside at the farm) may be good at cooking dishes alone but has severe problems working in a team. Some of the good have made their mistakes and departed but perhaps none worse than Andrea. She showed really excellent skills but when she failed to bring her sausage dish down to the front table at the right time, it was bad. Worse was how Gordon and company handled it. At this point they knew she was out of the contest. Instead they go through the mockery of tasting the dishes of which the two useful facts were announced: that she (Andrea) had the best dish while Diamond served up raw sausage. In a normal competition, Diamond would go home. But that is reality and not the often strange world of Masterchef that live in an alternate universe.

They knew Andrea was out the moment she put her plate down three seconds too late. Gordon seemed to argue with Christina and Chef Lee about her having the best dish but Christina reminded rules are rules. Do not be fooled, that was all for show as none of it was for real. It was to make it look like there was some dispute when none existed. Diamond, a weak contender, went into the next round and would be sent home in the next episode. In a real contest, Andrea would have been sent home immediately for missing the time requirement. No need to bother with tasting the dishes and move on to the next round. It just shows the strange world that Masterchef inhabits.

Thieves Get Trapped In Store But Police Fail To Respond In Time

A Boost Mobile wireless store in New Jersey was recently the scene right out of a screwball comedy. Two guys enter the store and one draws a gun on the manager. They proceed to begin robbing the place but the manager gets out and drops the security gate down on the door. This effectively seals them in. They get no help from people outside the store, who jeer and mock them while recording it. Meanwhile the manager is calling the police. At first they refused to dispatch cops to the store (a daytime robbery and they are not interested in responding with the thieves trapped inside?). Finally the manager points out that they have a gun so that finally gets the police dispatched. Meanwhile the two men, frantically trying to get out, find a tool box so that they can force open the security gate. Which they do and remarkably escape since the police arrived long after they left. It has major embarrassment all over the local police department for failing to respond in time. They are apparently retraining the 911 dispatch operators.

Source:Crowd laughs at, mocks thieves who lock themselves in cell phone store during robbery(Leo Affairs,19 Aug 2016)

Here is a shorter and edited version on YouTube of this.

For Your Sunday: Frank Sinatra “At Long Last Love”(1962)