“It’s like throwing a raft out to the Titanic.” (17 Jul 09, Schools Fix Has Plenty Of Doubters, Columbus Dispatch)
According to Cincinnati.com, the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibition at the Cincinatti Museum is proving to be quite a success. So far it has sold 130,400 tickets putting it on Top Five in attendance. They expect to sell even more tickets and predict it will move up to the fourth place when it ends on 7 September. The Top Five (in order of sales) are:
2008’s “Bodies…The Exhibition” with 312,000 visitors
2003-2004’s “Saint Peter and the Vatican: Legacy of the Popes” with 185,300 visitors
2000-2001’s “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” with 162,000 visitors
2006-2007’s encore of “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” with 132,800 visitors.
2009 “Dinosaurs Unearthed” with 130, 400 visitors
Two issues split the Titanic camp into warring factions: salvage and the Californian issue. The latter issue involves the role of Captain Stanley Lord of the SS California. On the night Titanic went down in 1912, his ship was in the vicinity. Due to the ice on the ocean, he had decided to shut down and wait till morning to proceed. His wireless operator had gone to bed and while rockets were spotted he did not believe it was a distress signal. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Captain Lord came under fire for failing to act. It was something that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
The two camps, the Lordites (pro-Lord) and the anti-Lordites (against Lord) have very different perspectives on the role of Captain Lord. The Lordites argue that the enquiries were hasty and a rush to judgment. The anti-Lordites argue the enquiries got it right, that Lord failed to act when the rockets were sighted. Now comes a new book that will likely reignite the debate. Daniel Allen Butler’s The Other Side of Night, according to the Scotsman makes a startling claim that Captain Lord was a sociopath. According to the article, Butler had commissioned a series of clinical psychologists to examine Lord’s sworn testimony as well as reports of his actions both before and after the tragedy.
“White rockets meant that somebody, somewhere, was about to die, yet Lord choose to ignore them. What has remained unexplained for more than nine decades is why Lord would so callously choose to disregard such a plea for help. “The answer, which lies in medical science, is that Stanley Lord was a man without conscience: he was a sociopath.”
The article notes that there were allegations that the officers under Lord were coerced to testify to support his position and that the ship’s log, which would have proved the exact location of the California, disappeared. And Butler argues Lord’s story changed over time while others stayed the same. Add to allegations he falisified entries in the logbook and the fact he expressed no sympathy for the victims over the years lends credence, Butler argues, that Lord was a sociopathic personality.
Well that is surely going to get those who support Lord fuming and dashing to their keyboards to type out responses. As for the book, I have not read it so I cannot say whether it is good, bad, or just okay. However relying on psychologists to render an opinion about a historical person is dubious. There was a trend in history many years ago to apply the techniques of psychology to historical figures. The problem is that you do not have the person right there so that you can make a proper clinical analysis. In the case of historical figures you have to rely on what was written about them or what they wrote about themselves. Certainly you can gain insights but it is far from a proper analysis or even a diagnosis. Without the person right there it is difficult to render a truly objective opinion as to what the true mental state was.
A random grab of the headlines with Titanic in it….
Affair Is Just The Tip Of Sanford’s Titanic (TheDigitel, 1 Jul 09)
Serena Forced Into Titanic Scrap (Wimbledon.org, 2 Jul 09)
Rearranging The Cow Tails On The Titanic (Reason Magazine, 2 Jul 09)
Heavyweights Are A Titanic Waiting For An Iceberg (Examiner.com, 28 June 09)
Last summer the P&O cruise ship Pacific Sun was caught in a vicious storm off New Zealand. 77 people were injured as the ship headed home through 20-foot swells and winds around 50-knots. Now a report about to be issued reveals what passengers experienced during that harrowing time. According to the New Zealand Herald, the report states it was “pure good fortune” that passengers and crew were not more seriously injured or killed.
Apparently many furnishings were not secured, such as casino gaming machines, tables, a grand piano and heavy office equipment such as photocopiers. As the ship tossed about in the storm, they became mobile causing some passengers to remark to officials later that it was like what they saw in the Titanic movie. Now that is pretty scary when you think about it. (Years ago I worked in a building in downtown San Francisco when the 1989 earthquake hit. The building was designed to sway with the earth movement. Upstairs in another office a copy machine was pitched across the room right into the wall. I consider myself fortunate since I was in our copy area at the time and luckily those machines did not move at all.)
In perhaps a great understatement, the report states “It says procedures for securing furnishings following an earlier accident – in which another cruise ship’s equipment injured people – were not “sufficiently robust.” Injuries to passengers were broken bones, cuts, and bruises. Seven were seriously hurt and one passenger had part of a finger amputated. As a result of the ship rolling so badly, the two spa pools were emptied of water creating more hazards. Muster stations were damaged resulting in passengers being sent back to their cabins.
But it gets worse, according to the newspaper, as to why the ship was not prepared to handle this kind of situation.
1. The captain was in a hurry to get back to Auckland in time for the next cruise. By failing to heave-to earlier he put the ship in the ship in the worst sea conditions. This was not deliberate but inadvertent.
2. The bridge crew was unable to see or monitor the swells when it was dark.
3. Two of the four muster stations were rendered useless because of the damage and mess caused by unsecured furnishings. This is significant since these muster stations are where passengers are to go to in an emergency.
4. The stabilizers used to keep rocking at a minimum were inoperative. One was worn out and the other useless at slow speeds the ship was traveling at.
5. Crew had lifejackets but apparently the signal for passengers to put them on was never given. Apparently this is a normal operating procedure (giving the alert first to the crew then usually followed, if needed, to the passengers).
Most of the injuries came by falls, and unsecured furnishings toppling on to people. “Had Pacific Sun’s furnishings and fittings been sufficiently secured so as to resist moving when she heeled, the number of injuries would have been greatly reduced,” the Marine Accident Investigation Branch report says. According to the Herald, P&O states that the heavy objects have now been secured and that the experience provided a “valuable insight” for the company. Night vision goggles are now being deployed (or have been deployed) so that bridge crews will be able to see outside at night. And of course better maintenance was suggested by the report which, of course, P&O says it will do.
Now to be fair this was an unusual situation. It is not every day cruise ships sail into such intense storms. What surprises me is how unsecured the furnishings were. I know that major cruise ships have stabilizers to prevent the ship from rocking too much but all it takes is very severe weather to turn them into dangerous projectiles. Yet it would seem common sense to secure them to minimize harm to the ship, passengers, and crew. Hopefully lessons have been learned from this incident. It must have been scary though to see tables, chairs, gaming machines or other things suddenly move across the floor (or in some cases likely tossed considering how big the swells were). No wonder some passengers later said later they thought at the time they might not make it out alive.
AuthorHouse sent out a press release on 22 June announcing the publication of “A Cold Night in the Atlantic” by Kevin Wright Carney. Serial numbers that do not match Titanic and a stash of gold found in the wreck lead to the discovery that conventional history got it all wrong. Due to accidents and serious questions about Captain Smith, the RMS Olympic is not considered seaworthy. So in 1912 the White Star Line decided to switch the ships. Titanic became Olympic and Olympic became Titanic. And it was decided to sink the ship to collect insurance. Alas it all falls apart when the plot is uncovered and the sinking occurs prematurely thanks to an iceberg.
“A truly unique and thrilling novel, “A Cold Night in the Atlantic” cleverly breathes new life into a piece of American history,” says the press release. That will come as a surprise to Robin Gardiner and Dan Van Der Vat who wrote the non-fiction book “The Titanic Conspiracy;Cover-Ups and Mysteries of the World’s Most Famous Sea Disaster (1995, Carol Publishing). Their book examines the motivations of the people involved to switch the ships and argues that something nefarious did occur. The book was and still is dismissed by most Titanic historians as nothing more than tabloid fodder.
It seems to finally have found its home in a fictional novel, which is probably where it ought to be. Gardiner and Van der Vat will likely be reading the book as well kicking themselves for not doing the same thing–or sue Carney alleging he used their “facts” to make his book more legitimate. Down the road I can see a miniseries on a cable network (probably Sci Fi Sy Fy).
Every summer I read news stories about the Titanic Adventure Slide. Recently I saw this at a little league event and the kids really liked it. The picture really does not do it justice as to how big it really is. It was one of the most popular attractions at the event. There are two models for rent. The small one is 27”H X 16’W X 38” L. The other is 33’H X 21’W X 51”L. But both are 33’ tall making them impressive to look at. If you live like one of those housewives in New Jersey and have a large open area, you can buy them but be prepared to shell out some serious dough. The 27’ Model costs $10, 458 and the 33’ one is $12, 988.
Titanic Adventure Slide
One feature I have thought about adding to my news site was citing examples of Titanic cliches. They have become so common and overwrought as to become satires on the person saying them without it being intentional on their part. I had thought about starting a weekly column over at my news site but I think this lends more to blog. Let the Titanic Cliches begin and today we start with, naturally, a politician from Minnesota. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann(R) while speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives said the following:
Last weekend my family sat down and we were watching the commercial movie “Titanic.” And as I was listening to Dr. Burgess from Texas talk about the debt and the burgeoning debt load that the United States takes, once the ice gash came in the side of the Titanic, which we all remember was called the “unsinkable Titanic,” we think of the United States. Nothing can possibly sink the United States. We will always be a superpower. But one thing that has kept us a superpower has been freedom, free market economists. We are in the process of watching the deconstruction of free market economists before our very eyes, something we have never seen. But as the ice ripped that hole in the Titanic, water started being taken on, and the engineer came out and brought the blueprint of the Titanic. Water came into the first chamber, spilled over to the second, spilled over to the third, and by the time it filled up so many chambers, it was over. It was impossible to resurrect that ship.
At least she did try to make it work and much better than saying (as some often do) that what is going on is like rearranging the deck chairs on Titanic.
Bachmann Likens U.S. To Titanic, Decries ‘Gangster Government’ She’s Part Of
Minnesota Independent, 10 June 09
You have to give the folks over at the Hammacher catalog credit. Each year they try to find very pricey toys for those with disposable income and no concern for our troubled economy. And this is no cheap toy but a six foot, 1:150 scale model of the famous ship with three propellers powered by three 550-watt electric motors. According to the description, the model has been “Painstakingly reproduced at 1:150 scale and involving over 400 man-hours in its assembly, the model is constructed from over 300 individually handcrafted pieces, including sculpted cedar strips that overlay the molded fiberglass hull, white maple planks (stained to replicate the color of the originals) for the decking, and mahogany for various superstructures.” It comes with two rechargable batteries that allow for three hours of cruising power and allowing the model to cruise at 5 mph on calm water. Remote requires eight AA batteries (not included!–you would think for the money they could toss them in for free).
It will cost you $2,500 and requires freight delivery. Iceberg not included. 🙂
The Authentic 6 Foot Remote Controlled RMS Titanic.