Category Archives: Titanic

Titanic Musings

Sorry folks for not posting in a while. Things have been somewhat hectic lately.

1) On the auction front, there has been some interesting items that sold. An affidavit signed by Titanic survivor Laura Francatelli fetched $31,937. A poster of Titanic from 1912 sold for $95,792.

2) Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition is coming to London’s 02 Arena starting on 2 Nov 2010.

3) Despite criticism from some quarters, reports indicate that bookings for the Titanic 2012 cruises are filling up.

4) Blast from the past: From press reports it appears the owners of Deepwater Horizon, the rig involved in the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, plan to use the same liability law that Titanic’s owners did in 1912. The Limitation of Liability Act limits the liability of the owner of a vessel to the value of its interest in the vessel at the end of the voyage. In 1912 this law was used by the owners to limit their liability to just under $92,000 (the value of surviving lifeboats and equipment). Thus claims made against White Star were limited to that amount no matter the actual value of the loss.

5) The recent Titanic 2 movie was exactly as predicted. It came out and sank quickly.

6) Ghostly Titanic? Every year I learn of some Titanic connected ghost story. Personally the one that makes the grade is from Ghostbusters II when Titanic docks and its passengers (all ghosts) disembark!

7) Your hear strange things on the Internet. Someone out there claimed that the salvage award was not done in the right court of law or that the judge was the wrong one. In the United States, federal courts have original jurisdiction on all admiralty and maritime cases. And judges that hear those cases are federal not state judges. Sometimes federal judges are referred to as district judges. Since federal courts are judicial districts, a federal judge can also be referred to as a federal district judge.

While people can disagree on whether salvage of Titanic was right or wrong, RMS Titanic Inc (RMST) did follow correct procedure by going to a U.S. federal court to get a salvage award. Since they had items in their possession which came from Titanic, this allowed the court (under recognized salvage law) to gain jurisdiction. The original decision, with modifications made by an appeals court, has been upheld. Just because Titanic was flying the Union Jack in 1912 does not confer immunity from salvage as some might claim. Salvage law allows for this to happen since it presumes salvage is done on behalf of the owner.

Titanic Musings;The Great Expedition, Motley Fool Does Titanic, and a Memorial for Harold Lowe

*The Great Expedition to Titanic had to depart early due to a hurricane but got some real neat photos of the wreck. And it showed the wreck still is quite visible demonstrating the decay rate is slower than some speculated.

*Over in Belfast a developer in the Titanic Quarter went after a man who put down money for an apartment but could not complete the deal due to being unemployed. Three years ago Neil Rowe put down money for a £265,000 apartment. Alas the poor economy cost him a job and he cannot get a mortgage. The developer though wanted him to pay the balance and took him to court arguing although broke he still owed the money. In simple terms, they wanted to the court to recognize he owed the debt but the judge turned them down. They can still seek damages if they choose.

*Motley Fool did an analysis of Premiere Exhibitions (the owner of RMS Titanic, Inc.) in light of the recent salvage award. They write: “In sum, we’re not sure exactly what PRXI is worth at the moment, although we think its pretty safe to say its worth a lot more than its current price (paraphrasing Buffett, you don’t need a scale to tell a man’s fat!). Seems like an easy lay-up that will likely generate an outsized return over the next six months with very little risk (and better yet regardless of what the general market does as a whole). That said, its possible an investment today may require some patience but given Sellers commitment to monetizing his stake in the near-term, the significant and undisputed embedded value in the titanic assets and the progress to-date regarding the company’s turnaround efforts, our guess is that good things will happen sooner rather than later.”

*Fifth Officer Harold Lowe of Titanic does not get a lot of notice and Maddie Mathews, a Harold Lowe16 year-old schoolgirl, thought that was wrong after seeing Cameron’s Titanic. So she launched a campaign to get Lowe, who also hailed from Wales, to be properly commemorated. She wrote letters to local councils and historical associations asking for their assistance. The town of Barmouth, where Lowe spent much of his youth, is setting up a committee and invited Maddie to sit on it. The purpose of the committee will be to erect a memorial in time for the 2012 centenary. Descendants of Lowe have been contacted and delighted by the news. Good work Maddie!

*If you saw Cameron’s Titanic, then you saw William Murdoch depicted as a coward. This bothered many Titanic enthusiasts and historians saying it was inaccurate. Scott Murdoch, a nephew of William Murdoch, demanded an apology for how the movie depicted his uncle. He got one from Scott Neeson, vice president of 20th Century Fox, who said it (the movie) never intended to show William Murdoch as a coward and any implication was inadvertent. Scott Murdoch passed away in August and was in his 90’s. RIP

On Non-Titanic:

*Top Chef Boring continues on to Singapore. They had to make meals in the final challenge that could be freeze dried and eaten by astronauts. The highlight was Buzz Aldrin, a man who has walked on the moon. Anthony Bourdain was there and actually criticized Ripert’s (who he calls Ripper) criticism of Ed’s dish as too complicated. There are critics of Ripert who say he is too bland or too exacting in his standards. He is much better than that walking cliché Toby Young. Young must have had flash cards to memorize dozens of totally useless cliches to throw out during his tenure on Top Chef. Michelle Bernstein put him in his place and his totally weird comment about wine and hairy armpits (which caused Tom C. to put his head down on the table in disbelief) probably was the nail in the coffin. Ripert at least is constructive in his criticisms. Bourdain would make a great judge (and has done well as a guest judge in the past) but he is too busy to be there full time.

*Top Chef Masters? Former cheftestants are back! Yes we will bring back some of the favorites of past seasons who flamed out at the end or near the end. Oh please tell me this is just some sick publicity joke. We do not need a season of former cheftestants battling out to see who amongst them is SECOND TOP CHEF (which is what they are since they were beaten). Perhaps for fun they ought to allow failed cheftestants from Chopped or Next Food Network Star to compete as well. Hey maybe that bankrupt gal from that New Jersey show could toss a table over as well. 😉

All The Kings Horses….

As part of a television series called “We Built Titanic” the producers decided to recreate the hauling of Titanic’s anchor which required a team of Shire horses to accomplish the task. The original center anchor built by Noah Hingley & Sons in Netherton, weighed 15 tons, 16 cwt with a length of 18’ 3” and 10’ 6” in width. It was the heaviest center anchor in the world at the time. It required a team of 20 Clydesdale horses. The anchor was lowered onto a cart, the horses were connected. It traveled two miles from Hingley to Dudley where it would travel by rail to Fleetwood in Lancashire. As you can expect, it was quite a sight to see 20 horses pulling this massive anchor.

The recreation done recently was in reverse from Dudley to Netherton where the replica anchor (weighing 16 tons from the news reports) will be placed in a historic museum. However they did not get the footage they wanted. When the horses started to move, the anchor began slipping on the cart. And the cart had no brake which meant horses could be injured if the cart moved too fast. So tractor had to be hooked up which caused other problems, namely the horses had problems getting a firm grip on the road surface. In the end, the horses had to be removed and the tractor pulled the cart for most of the distance. The horses only moved the cart roughly half a mile before they were removed.

It is ironic that they moved the anchor without the benefit of a tractor yet 99 years later they could not replicate it. Perhaps the problem is memory. We simply have forgotten how to use horses as they did back then. Back then the anchor would have been fastened down on the cart to prevent it from moving while in transit. Perhaps they did so this time but not enough. Brakes would have been used on most carts hauling items. Slowing the horses is one thing but you need to slow the momentum of the cart as well or bad things would occur especially if you are carrying very heavy items like anchors. Rules of physics apply then as now and it looks like someone forgot to consider that. Good thing the tractor was available. That is ironic in itself since the tractor ended the use of horses on most farms after World War I.

Sources:
Stourbridge News, Netherton To Welcome Home Titanic Anchor, 9 Aug 2010

Daily Mail, History Revisited As 20 Shire Horses Haul 16-Ton Titanic Anchor, 16 Aug 2010

Metro,  Horses ‘Overheat In Titanic Stunt’, 17 Aug 2010

Horsetalk, Shire Horses And The Titanic Anchor’s Journey, 24 Aug 2010

Titanic Musings….Part Deux

Titanic Musings…Part Deux

Some have emailed asking if I oppose the Titanic expedition. No, it does have scientific merit. From news accounts it appears Premiere Exhibitions has tried to woo a lot of skeptics (skeptics because they have misgivings about salvage and the company’s handling of artifacts) to go on the expedition. Actual salvage is over; the company made it clear in its court filings to get the salvage award. So it is simply trying to massage its public image by sponsoring a scientific expedition. The reason is simple: the salvage award. They know that a lot of folks out there dislike salvaging Titanic. Many will be displeased the company will be able to sell the artifacts. So I see the expedition as simply trying to buy some goodwill.

On Top Chef: Washington I got some emails criticizing my viewpoint. I stand by the assertion this is a dull season with no one standing out. Sure it is easy to see the weak ones but hard to like any of the stronger ones either for a variety of reasons. As for the pea puree, I am not convinced Alex would need to steal or misplace Ed’s since he made his own (Tom C. said he talked to others who saw him make it). Everyone focuses on Alex forgetting that the culprit could be someone else. If we assume it was stolen or purposely mislaid, one of the other cheftestants who saw Ed as a threat may have done it with a bonus of fingering Alex. The Triple K’S (Kelly, Kevin, Kenny) all ganged up on Alex at Judges’ Table and in the stew room. It is possible the anger against Alex was ramped up by the guilty party.

One blogger wondered whether any of the cheftestants will be memorable. In past years some competitors (like Fabio or Sam) continue to be remembered by fans. In this case, it seems to be a season where the competitors will struggle to be remembered once the show is over.

Titanic Musings

Titanic Musings And Other Things

I took a break for a needed vacation and catching up on Titanic news and recordings in my DVR.

1) The Grand Expedition
Call the press, contact cable and network shows for booking, and get lots of video coverage about the sorry state of a wreck two miles down. We will fill the ship with historians, scientists, and other interesting people to comment on the state of the wreck. Get that? It is about the decay rate of the wreck as if we did not know already that nature is consuming the wreck. Sure there is scientific interest in finding out the decay rate, how organisms two miles down operate, and lots of other technical stuff. If that was it was about, it would be a special edition of National Geographic Explorer. If they wanted zing, bring any or all of the following from the Travel Channel: Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, Samantha Brown, and the guy who yells. Otherwise I suspect it is a yawner and just to create positive buzz for Premiere Exhibitions and its subsidiary, RMS Titanic Inc perhaps because.…

2) Salvage Verdict Comes Down in Their Favor
What wonderful coincidence! Federal Judge Rebecca Beach Smith finally issues after what seems a millennia, her ruling on the salvage award. Issued just before the Grand Expedition, she rules they are entitled to compensation and sets the value of the artifacts at $110 million. What is left to be determined is how they will get compensated The easiest–and most controversial–would be to give them the artifacts. RMS Titanic, Inc would then be free to sell the artifacts to museums, collectors and other interested parties. The predictable howl from the anti-salvage crowd will be loud if this occurs. Long ago the pro and anti salvage crowd on the Internet got into heated flamewars resulting in Titanic enthusiasts hating each other. It split the Titanic community into rival camps and still does when the topic comes up. One the other hand, Judge Smith could award them the artifacts on the condition they only be sold to museums and recognized exhibitors. The other option is for the court to hold the sale and distribute the proceeds.

There are lots of legal issues that have to be worked out and that will take time. It is also possible others will file appeals to overturn the decision or seek the court to modify its decision in some way. Stay tuned!

3) Titanic Cliche Overload
Far too many politicians, commentators, and others use the Titanic Cliche so much as make one wonder if they ever attended a literature or writing class.

4) Top Chef Washington is Top Chef Boring
Who stole the pea puree? Okay think about that for a second. If the most exciting thing on this show is whether or not a cheftestant stole a pea puree, we have a problem. It seems no one liked this chap very much and quickly labeled him a thief. It became clear that when Kevin, Kenny, Kelly and Amanda were the losing team in Restaurant War when Kenny opened his mouth complaining that Alex did nothing (though on the winning team). It looked petty and foolish considering what the judges told them. Kevin’s dish was excellent, Kenny did two dishes that failed, Kelly did a watery soup they disliked but saved herself on dessert, and Amanda botched cooking the beef. All in all pretty bad. Kenny’s goat cheese dessert was reviled by the judges (Frank Bruni’s look when he tasted it was classic). Kenny got the boot since as executive chef he was in charge, put out two bad dishes, and allowed other bad dishes to go out.

For the most part this show is forgettable and looks tired. From reading the various postings elsewhere, this season is not generating that much great buzz despite being in Washington D.C. Last season saw some great cooking and really top notch competitors. This season seems to have lackluster (by comparison to previous seasons excluding Season Two which was pretty bad) cheftestants and no one really to get interested in winning. More interested in watching who screws up and place bets on who goes home each week. Otherwise watching repeats of Mythbusters is better, funny, and educational all at the same time (and yes they have tackled some food myths along the way).

5) Titanic 2
Yes, it is true that there is a movie by that name. Suffice to say it has gone straight to the bottom as predicted. They ought to have made it high camp instead or turned it soft porn with Pamela Anderson bouncing about.

6) A Titanic Christmas
Two words that ought not go together: Titanic and Christmas. One is a terrible tragedy and the other a religious celebration. So when a press release was sent out over the web (alas I did not get it being a lowly blogger) announcing a Titanic themed Christmas in Pigeon Forge, I wondered if it was a spoof. Not so it seems. According to the release:

“Christmas in a Winter Wonderland” runs November 13-January 1, 2011. Co-owner, Mary Kellogg-Joslyn plans to pull out all the stops to make her Titanic’s first holidays in Pigeon Forge, memorable. First, there will be $150,00 in snow equipment (the same equipment used to make it show every Christmas at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom). Secondly, $100,000 will be spent on Christmas trees, holiday lights and ornamentation throughout the interior and exterior of the museum. There will also be carolers and other musical events. While the holiday celebration will be elaborate, the owners plan to hold true to their idea of the importance of telling the stories of the Titanic’s passengers and crew.”

Some will criticize it but in the end the consumer will decide whether the gamble pays off or not.

7) Dodgeball with a Twist
One of the funny things about Warehouse 13 on SyFy is that they can have some ordinary objects become dangerous. Take the dodgeball. Normally you try to knock the opponents out of the game by hitting them with the ball. Pete and Myka encounter a dodgeball that multiplies on contact. Meaning if it strikes you one becomes two. Then two becomes three and so on. One can see the obvious problem here. In minutes you could have a dozen or so balls hurling towards you and increasing in numbers after contact. It is never said but it is a nod to the most famous of all such things, the tribble from Star Trek. It multiplies quickly if lots of food is around and nothing checks it (we did learn in Enterprise they do have a predator). A nice nod to the Trouble With Tribbles from Warehouse 13.

Titanic Exhibitor Faces Crisis;Major Shareholder Selling Stake

Reuters is reporting that Sellers Capital, which has a 46% stake in Premier Exhibitions, has stated it will be selling its position. The reason is that Sellers is facing increased redemption demands and needs to return the capital to its investors. Premier states it is “assessing strategic alternatives” which means it is trying to figure out to handle the sale. Sellers wants to sell its share to a buyer committed to preserving the Titanic artifacts as represented to a Federal court judge in a hearing last year.

The problem, I suspect, is finding an investor (or a group of them) who wants to sink money into this company. Premier handles many exhibitions and Titanic is one of them. An additional problem yet unanswered is the final disposition on the aritifacts. Premier Exhibitions does not own them but is the legal sucessor to the company that did the salvage, RMS Titanic Inc. That company was awarded salvor-in-possession status, not outright ownership of the artifacts. And a federal judge put restrictions on how those artifacts can be used. Premier has filed a motion with the federal court to grant them a salvage award allowing them to sell the artifacts. A ruling has not been made.

Of course there is the possibility of government action. The U.S. government might declare an interest in the matter saying it is of great historical value and use its powers to take them out of Premier’s hands. All of this uncertainty is not something that will attract investors unless they have lots of money to burn. It is quite possible investors from the Middle East or Asia might well end up buying the share.

Source: Reuters, Premier Exhibitions’ Largest Shareholder To Sell Stake, 21 June 2010

Titanic Victim Finally Gets Tribute & Headstone

Events in Greece and in the Gulf of Mexico likely overshadowed the story of a Titanic victim. Her name was  Kate Buckley who was aboard Titanic sailing to a new life in America. She was coming over to work as a domestic with a ticket paid for by her sister Margaret. Originally she was set to sail on Cymeric for Boston but the coal strike changed that. Instead she was transferred to Titanic and perished when it sank in 1912. Her family, opposed to her going, blamed Margaret (her half sister) for her death. It caused a family rift that was never healed. Kate’s body was found by the Mackay-Bennett and brought back for burial, the only third class passenger to have this done. Her sister requested she be buried in Boston; she was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury in an unmarked grave.

And there the grave remained unknown to anyone until Bob Bracken of the Titanic Historical Society found it. He was shocked there was no headstone and contacted a local monument company, Thomas Carrigg and Sons, to have one made. The likely reason no headstone was ever put up was lack of money. Carrigg according to news accounts often gets requests to make headstones for relatives buried long ago with no headstone. The recent ceremony had nearly one hundred people in attendance. Two of her grandnieces unveiled the monument and roses were placed on the grave by her descendants. Descendants of Margaret and of the Irish family were present. Also present was Irish Consul General Michael Lonergan, Una Reilly chairwoman of the Belfast Titanic Society, along with Bob Bracken and Charles Haas of Titanic International Society.

“I think commemorating Kate Buckley’s death is symbolic of all of the Irish immigrants who sought to come to the United States,’’ said Boston’s Irish consul general Michael Lonergan. “It’s very appropriate that it’s here in Boston.’

Amen to that.

Sources:
thebostonchannel.com, Titanic’s ‘Kate’ Found Buried In Boston, 7 May 2010

WBZ, Titanic Victim Gets Headstone In West Roxbury, 19 May 2010

Irish Central, Titanic Survivor Remembered And Family Feud Healed, 24 May 2010

Titanic Voted Best Movie Song

[amazonify]B000VS6R26[/amazonify] Contactmusic.com is reporting My Heart Will Go On has been voted the best film song of all time. The top ten are as follows:

1. Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On, Titanic

2. Take That – Rule The World, Stardust

3. Aerosmith – I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing, Armageddon

4. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – Time Of My Life, Dirty Dancing

5. Sir Elton John – Can You Feel The Love Tonight, The Lion King

6. Sir Elton John – Circle Of Life, The Lion King

7. Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You, The Bodyguard

8. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John – Summer Nights, Grease

9. Leona Lewis – I See You, Avatar

10. Faith Hill – There You’ll Be, Pearl Harbor.

Just proves some songs are enjoyed long after the movie it was in has departed the theatre.  I am not surprised to see Circle of Life on the list but surprised to see Summer Nights from Grease. Olivia still has appeal after many years since that movie came out. Too bad a song from West Side Story did not make it. Some do not like Celine Dion’s song but, despite the critics, it still tops the list year after year.

Buy the [amazonify]B0000029YC::text::::Titanic soundtrack[/amazonify] today!

Titanic Odds and Ends

New York Hotel With Titanic Connection

The Jane Hotel in New York not only costs $79 a night, has bellboys dressed in old fashioned “monkey suits,” but also has a Titanic connection. According to Reb Stevenson of the Toronto Star this 146 room hotel in Manhattan’s West Village is worth a stay if for nothing else the ecentric theme. Originally a lodging for sailors when it opened in 1908, it became famous in 1912 when Titanic survivors stayed there. The Jane was not much over the years and more of a flophouse according to Stevenson. Then it was bought in 2008 by Sean MacPherson, who owns three other Manhattan hotels. At first the plan was to scrap the old place and put up a traditional hotel. Then MacPherson got the idea to rennovate it into a more upscale but less pricey place for people of modest means to stay.

The standard cabins aren’t much larger than a sleeping bag on the sidewalk, but they’ve got style in spades. Throughout The Jane, there’s a vague, nautical feel, as though it shares some of Titanic’s DNA. Within my five-by-seven-foot room, I’ve got a single bed, flat-screen TV, iPod dock, fan, towel, slippers, storage cubbyholes, hooks and even a window. Yes, it’s rather snug, but since I’m not a scarecrow I can cope. There is no Edwardian chamber pot in the cabin. And thank God for that. Instead, guests must brave shared coed washrooms down the hall.

More spacey abodes are available (which cost more) and there is a restaurant with a French/Moroccan theme that has nothing more expensive than $14 on the menu. And the male staff all sport the retro bellboy costumes of long ago. There is a large ballroom with that overstuffed Victorian feel to it (closed at the moment due to permit issues) and a bar that is lush and mysterious. Not bad for $79 a night and comes with a Titanic angle. Something tells me that attractive gal who travels the world for the Travel Channel will not be stopping here soon. But the cost-cutting Rick Steves might find the place worth a try. 🙂

Titanic Grim: 1 in 89 Survivors Committed Suicide

Kathleen Minnix recently posted at Book of Odds a grim statistic on Titanic survivors –1 in 89 ended up taking their lives. Some of the more notable suicides are Dr. Washington Dodge, Jack Thayer, and Titanic lookout Frederick Fleet. Dodge shot himself over a lawsuit in 1919, Thayer slashed his wrists and throat in 1945 over a son’s death in World War 11. Frederick Fleet died in 1965 by hanging himself on a clothes line. His wife had died in December and his brother-in-law had evicted from the house.

The earliest suicide was in 1912.  Annie Robinson, who had been a stewardess on Titanic, was aboard the Devonian on 10 October. The ship encountered heavy fog in Boston and she became agitated. Shortly after the fog horn sounded, she threw herself into the water and drowned. The last survivor suicide was on 11 Jul 1989 by Phyllis May Quick. She shot herself in the head at her home in Detroit.

A grim statistic indeed.