Over in the U.K. television personality Jeremy Paxman decided to take a swing at Belfast in a recent article. He wrote, in part, that the iceberg did Belfast a favor and they ought to rename Titanic Quarter as Iceberg Quarter. An uproar resulted from these comments but his thrust was that millions spent to revitalize Belfast were wasted before the city decided to become a tourist destination. Locals have a different view of the matter calling his comments offensive, wrong and misleading. He apparently was recently there and had a meal in Titanic Quarter and noted that the Christmas market “offered the odours of 40 varieties of food you could not think of eating.”
Okay we get the point, you are not a fan of Belfast, Northern Ireland, these days. Perhaps you have a point about the tax money spent when, if they had played their cards right earlier, they could have used lots of private capital to achieve better results. Belfast and Titanic were not that close until fairly recently. For a lot of years it was remembered as the place it was built, the workers who had by hand put the ship together, and the sadness over the loss. Sure there were people that kept it alive but Belfast moved on and had bigger problems to deal with. Then with the growing interest in Titanic and thanks to a very popular movie, the lights clicked about the opportunities Titanic offered them by becoming a major attraction for Titanic enthused travelers. And it worked from what the numbers reveal.
What he said was tacky trying to create a hypothetical that if Titanic had never existed or never sunk, Belfast would be just a backwater in the United Kingdom. Most people are smart enough to avoid the foot-in-mouth disease. He may have said it just to generate the controversy he wanted. After all it set off a firestorm in Belfast as locals raced to microphones to criticize his comments and point out what a dolt he was for saying them. Some television personalities like to do this sort of thing to attract viewers, At any rate we here at Titanic News Channel award him our oft imitated and never duplicated Fractured Finger Award. We usually award this to dummies who use Titanic cliches but we make an exception in this case. Award not suitable for framing.
There is an old idiom that says “fiddling while Rome burns” which means to occupy yourself with unimportant things or a priorities during a crisis. The idiom is based on a historical fallacy. A great fire broke out in 64 AD that lasted for five days under Emperor Nero. It is uncertain exactly what caused the fire but it spread fast resulting in damaging several Roman districts and three were destroyed. Some historians think Nero caused the fire while others report Christians confessed to it (likely under torture). Fires were common in Rome which may be the reason many writers of the period did not record it. Nero, at least according to one writer (Tacitus), raced back to Rome and set up a relief fund to help those damaged in the fire. He opened shelters for the homeless using his palaces, arranged for food supplies to prevent starvation.
Suetonius, the notorious gossip which so much dubious history is drawn from, claimed that Nero sang “Sack of Ilium” while the city burned. A legend grew from that which has Nero fiddling while Rome burned. There were no fiddles in ancient Rome but there was the lyre. Tacitus has him outside of Rome when the fire started. And considers it a rumor that Nero was in Rome singing while the city burned. Nero was not a well liked emperor in a lot of circles so the rumor probably started with his enemies. He did fix up the areas affected, instituted new policies to prevent such fires (like spacing buildings and using brick).
Now I spent time on this because it is important to understand what you say. When Arianna Huffington recently opined on ‘Real Time With Bill Maher’ about the congressional committee to look into the Benghazi debacle she said:
“What is the opportunity cost of having had 13 hearings on Benghazi, tens of thousands of pages, and all this attention being given to an issue which is basically the equivalent of saying Nero held Benghazi hearings while Rome burned, the captain of the Titanic held Benghazi hearings while the iceberg was hitting the Titanic?”
If she had used the idiom, it would have made sense. She would be saying that there are more important and pressing matters to deal with than Benghazi, where our ambassador and others were murdered by Islamic militants. Instead she takes a sloppy approach and uses Nero, mixing it up with Benghazi, and then tosses in Titanic for good measure. Talk about muddling the idiom! And bad history tossed in as well. It misuses Titanic for a political point and does it poorly. It provided some chuckles until one thought about what was said. For that Arianna gets our oft imitated and never duplicated Fractured Finger Award. Lyre sold separately.
Senator John McCain of Arizona commented on the nomination of White House budget chief Sylvia Burwell to become Secretary of Health and Human Services. He cautioned her about becoming the human face of the Obamacare rollout and said:
“After all, who would recommend their friend take over as captain of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg?”
Well at least he did not use the infamous and overused deck chairs cliché. Still a bad cliché to use Senator McCain. So you get our oft imitated but never duplicated Fractured Finger Award for using a Titanic cliché for political purposes. Not suitable for framing.
1. The Belfast Telegraph is reporting complaints people are making about paying a fee to visit Nomadic and another one for Titanic Belfast. Currently people wishing to board Nomadic pay £7.50 for adults,£5.00 for children 5-16. Family tickets are also available (£22-27 depending on family size). However if you want to visit Titanic Belfast, a separate fee is required for entry. Which has got some visitors angry at having to dig deeper into their pockets. The Telegraph reports that Nomadic Charitable Trust is in negotiations with Titanic Belfast to set up a joint ticketing scheme.
2. James Cameron, who recently gave his DeepSea Challenger to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, believes that one day expeditions such as his would help scientists predict deep sea earthquakes and their tsunamis. In an interview to CNN, Cameron says “Building technology vehicles like the DeepSea Challenger to get down there, is a first step to planting large instruments which could allow us to survey seismic activity. Ultimately it could lead to some predictive modeling which tells us ‘look we’ve got pressure building up here, maybe this could be a tsunami in the Pacific rim, get ready, brace yourselves”
There are many legitimate concerns about how the new health care law will cost taxpayers. Like many government programs, it will be messy. At any rate, Mike Schrimpf, spokesman for the Republican Governors Association had this to say about all the new people that will soon be part of this health care system:
“For many states placing more individuals into a broken system would be like adding more passengers to the Titanic,” said Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association. “And regardless of whether it’s federal dollars or state dollars, taxpayers are still on the hook.”
Okay, so I assume you mean these people will be like the unfortunate souls unable to escape Titanic and died. Perhaps there was a better way to say this rather than resorting to a cliche. So Mr. Schrimpf I award you Titanic Cliche of Day, which comes with Fractured Finger Award with the words “I promise not to use Titanic Cliche Again” on imitation brass plate.
By now you are aware I dislike Titanic cliches. I dislike them since they indicate laziness. After all with thousands of words to convey a message, having to resort to Titanic means you simply want to take the easy route. Okay, enough of that. Now I do not watch Fox News these days since I only get basic cable (local broadcast channels only). To watch Fox News means spending over $63 to my local cable company.
Neil Cavuto, who has his own business show on Fox, decided to opine recently about the state of our very bad fiscal condition as a nation. He is certainly right, things are not good. Government spending is way too high, job recovery is very slow, and now there is talk of soaking the rich.
Why do I feel like I’m on the deck of the Titanic and frantically trying to point out to the captain, “Is it me, captain, or is that a big chunk of ice out there?” It’s like I’m seeing this whole disaster play out in slow motion. I’d like to be wrong. Actually, I’d “love” to be wrong. But my opinion here? I think we’re sinking fast. And we haven’t even hit anything yet!
Neil, I like you but please refrain from using the Titanic metaphor. It just no longer has the punch it once had. For your use of this metaphor, I award you the oft imitated never duplicated Fractured Finger statue (a nod to the old Laugh-In show) with the words “I promise never to use a Titanic cliche again” on a imitation brass plate on the base.
Relations between China and Japan are strained right now with China over the Diaoyu Islands. China claims the islands while Japan does not recognize the claim. So naturally a Titanic cliché is in order to show how serious China wants to resolve the current problems.
China’s assistant foreign minister on Friday urged Japan to seriously self-reflect to ensure bilateral ties get back on track, warning that continuous erroneous practices by Japan will see the relationship between it and China sink like the Titanic.
Le Yucheng made these comments at a seminar organized to mark the 40th anniversary of normalized China-Japan relations. One has to wonder how serious China really is. After all, Japan invaded China and was quite ruthless in how it dealt with its population. This is just one of those ways to poke at Japan in a small way for what happened during its occupation of China. Suffice to say that falling back on a Titanic cliché is never a good thing to do and looks foolish for a senior diplomat.
•Titanic has generated lots of books over the years covering every conceivable point of view. Of course with 100th anniversary of Titanic sinking, a lot more books have come out. Some are excellent, good, or just plain bad. The worst simply repeat what others have written (including obvious errors of fact) claiming to be original work. Fortunately the reviewers for The Titanic Commutator (published by the Titanic Historical Society) help sort out which ones are worth reading to those best used for lining bird cages or kindling for your wood stove. Mark Chirnside reviewed On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of RMS Titanic giving it a thumbs up for its well written approach to the subject. The book also offers new insights and information along with examining some current controversies.
On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of RMS Titanic
Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton & Bill Wormstedt
Amberly Publishing, 2012
•Titanic 3D broke new records as people all over the world flocked to see Jack and Rose in 3D especially during the Titanic anniversary. Ticket sales hit $2.3 billion which includes $88 million overseas. Proves you can draw a crowd to see an already popular movie but many industry people still are not sold on 3D. It may be, as many predicted, just the right time and place for it again until the public tires of it. Are we ready for 3D Star Wars?
•Mithika Mwenda, coordinator for campaign group the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance made a statement recently at the UN Doha Climate talks about the slow progress of negotiations. And this is where the comparison to Titanic comes in:
“This is like the Titanic, where both developing countries and industrialized countries will sink.”
Congratulations! You have been awarded the oft imitated, never duplicated award for Titanic Cliche of Day. I am just wondering if Titanic and dinosaurs will soon be connected!
I do not follow Boston Red Sox (for those outside the U.S. they are a baseball team) but they had a bad 2011 season. So far they have fared badly in home games. Citing bad management moves to get better talent and in-house problems, Scott Cordischi sees the Sox in very dire straits. So dire enough to write this:
It’s ironic that a lot has been made about this being the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. It also happens to be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. In fact, it was the sinking of the Titanic which kept the opening of a brand new Fenway Park off of the front pages of the Boston newspapers in 1912 as both events occurred on the same day. Now, 100 years later, the Red Sox organization appears to have hit an iceberg and is taking on water fast. Abandon ship!
I will leave it to Red Sox fans to decide how accurate this use of a Titanic cliché is.
Today’s cliché comes from blog at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“Just a week after the anniversary of the nation’s greatest oil disaster, Congress is set to vote on legislation to open up virtually all federal waters to drilling, while cutting governmental oversight and safety measures at the same time. That’s sort of like telling the designer of the Titanic to forget about the icebergs and just build more ships. Full speed ahead!”
I am not sure it quite works. Titanic was designed to take damage if one, two, or even three of her forward compartments were damaged from a ship collision. Hitting icebergs were rare (usually head on). Titanic was damaged when the iceberg scraped along the starboard side causing lots of ruptures along the way. Hardly the scenario ever envisioned by ship designers. As for the designer, Thomas Andrews, he perished when Titanic sank.