Update on Chinese Titanic Replica: Sinking Simulator Canceled

Photograph of iceberg taken by chief steward of Prinz Adalbert on morning of 15 April 1912 near where Titanic sank. At the time he had not learned of the Titanic disaster. Smears of red paint along the base caught his attention. The photo and accompanying statement were sent to Titanic’s lawyers, which hung in their boardroom until the firm dissolved in 2002. Public Domain

Readers of this blog are well aware the Chinese are building a Titanic replica of their own for a theme park. It will be a full size replica and will operate not only as a tourist attraction but a hotel as well. They had planned a “Sinking Simulator” that would demonstrate what it was like on that fateful night. It did not sit well with a lot of people, especially those who had a familial connection to those who perished. The Chinese at first were steadfast in saying there was nothing wrong with such simulation. Now it appears the idea was shelved due to the outcry. According to The Christian Post, the idea was shelved was in January. Author Bruce Beveridge, who heads up design team, is quoted as saying “It was shelved back in January when they hired me as design supervisor. I told them, ‘Do not do this, it’s in bad taste.”

It is a wise decision. There are many ways to demonstrate what happened that night without some tacky sinking simulator akin to a game. And with modern technology these days, you probably will do it through virtual reality glasses in the near future.

Source: Protests By Survivors’ Families Prompt Chinese Theme Park to Scrap Titanic Disaster ‘Attraction’ (Christian Post, 12 May 2017)


Titanic News: Fur Coat Sold for £150,000 and other news

Sorry to not post in a while. It was due to both work and the tax season. Now for the news.

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

1. Titanic stewardess’ fur coat fetches £150,000 at auction (Independent, 23 April 2017)
Fur coats used to be a stylish thing to wear but these days they are despised. Back in 1912 though, they were an important status symbol.In this case it was neither style nor class but the need to keep warm. Mabel Bennett, a first-class stewardess aboard Titanic, threw it on to keep herself warm. She kept it one while on Carpathia and for the rest of her life. After her death, it was sold to Henry Aldridge and Son who loaned it to a museum in the U.S. It was auctioned off on Saturday far above the estimated price of £50,000-£80,000 and sold for a staggering £150,000 ($191,767USD). The buyers name was not announced but surely one of the highest prices paid for a collectible mink coat.

2. Lost Titanic letter expected to fetch big money at auction (New York Post, 20 April 2017)
A “Wish You Were Here” letter written aboard the Titanic could fetch thousands of dollars at auction this weekend. Four days before the ship sank, Swiss banker Alfons Simonius-Blumer penned the missive to his wife and daughter — in which he expressed regret they were not aboard the ship.Simonius-Blumer was sailing to New York on business with a colleague, Max Staehelin, but without his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Ella. He wrote the letter the morning of April 11, 1912, while the supposed unsinkable pride of the White Star Line steamed between Cherbourg in France and Queenstown, Ireland, its last stop before the fateful Atlantic crossing. Simonius-Blumer also described visiting the ship’s gym, enjoying the Turkish baths and lighting up in the smoking room. As a first-class passenger, he was able to get on a lifeboat after the Titanic struck an iceberg late at night on April 14 and was rescued by the RMS Carpathia the following morning.
The letter was also auctioned off on Saturday at Henry Aldridge for £32,500 ($41,543USD)

3. Titanic relatives mark 105th anniversary in Belfast (BBC, 14 April 2017)
The event was organised by the great-grandson of the man who was at the helm when the ship struck an iceberg. Simon Medhurst, a long-time collector of Titanic memorabilia, said he only found out that he was related to Robert Hichens, one of the ship’s quartermasters, after meeting his birth father in 2012. “It was a complete turnaround for my life, really, from collecting to suddenly being somebody who is connected to the Titanic,” he said. Simon explained that Friday’s event had taken two years to organise. “I wasn’t sure if it would just be our family that turned up, but actually it’s been phenomenal to see relatives and enthusiasts. People just love the story of the Titanic. “I think the importance of this type of gathering is in that it is easy to forget that there were those who lost their lives.”

4. Full-size Titanic replica built in China (Jakarta Post,19 April 2017)
The project was first announced in 2014 and will cost an estimated 1 billion yuan (US$145.4 million). The model will measure out at 269-meters long and 28-meters wide, complete with a ballroom, theater, swimming pool, first-class cabins, and even Wi-Fi, according to Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group deputy general manager Wang Weiling as reported by AFP. The design of the ship is based on the original British passenger liner, and both British and American designers and technicians will assist in the project. And just in case visitors have worries of a second sinking, the boat will be permanently docked on a reservoir in a rural area of Sichuan province, according to Xinhua. No word from Clive Palmer about whether his Titanic replica will ever get funded.


Happy Easter

Traditional Presentation of Easter Eggs, Hana region, Czech Republic
Jan Kamení?ek (Wikimedia Commons)
Public Domain

 


Titanic 2017

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

In April 1912 the unthinkable happened: Titanic sank taking over 1500 lives to the cold North Atlantic. People were stunned. With the headline Titanic Sunk blazing across newspapers around the globe, it made people wonder what had happened to a ship that defined an age of progress. For those with family, either passengers or crew, it was even more dire. Did my husband live? What happened to that family down the road that decided to go to America for a new life?

In the aftermath two investigations would seek to answer the question of what happened. A short concise statement is that Titanic collided with an iceberg that punctured the hull in many places causing water to enter the forward compartments causing her to founder and sink. Yet the investigations showed all kinds of things that were not right: out of date government regulations about lifeboats, the lack of manning wireless communications during all ship watches, the inattention given to numerous ice warnings, the lack of binoculars for the lookouts and much more. Captain Rostron of Carpathia would be labeled a hero for racing to the scene and retrieving the survivors. Captain Lord of California would come under criticism for his indifference to rockets being seen and failing to investigate.

The world of 1912 was a world on a precipice. Ominous clouds were already gathering over Europe. Titanic represented perhaps the pinnacle of the dying Edwardian age. It had everything that a person of means wanted: a comfortable way to cross the Atlantic in style. Down below was the other side, immigrants desperate to leave home and find a new life in the United States. And sadly many of those third class (or steerage as they were called)would perish.  Titanic sinking left a mark on many that something was wrong and would be confirmed when war broke out in 1914. And that war would cut a wide swath in the upper classes that would have lasting effects.

The lessons of Titanic are many. The most important of all is to never become complacent nor think you are so clever as to be divine. It is a lesson that is sometimes forgotten resulting in tragedies like the Challenger explosion. Sometimes Greek mythology delivers warnings about complacency. Icarus forgot his wings were made of wax when he flew up to the sun resulting in his death. And saying Titanic was practically unsinkable comes pretty darn close as well.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea–And It Will Cost!

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

Some years ago enterprising chaps started charging people to see Titanic. No, not an exhibition or replica but diving two miles down to the bottom of the North Atlantic to see the wreck. This is no simple task considering it takes three hours down and back in a specially pressurized submersible with few comforts. It stopped for a while but now appears to be back according to various news sources. Blue Marble Private of London, UK is offering a diving expedition in 2018. The eight day journey begins in Newfoundland, Canada and paying customers will become client specialists to participate with the expedition team in the dive. And according to Blue Marble, the price is what it would cost to travel first class in Titanic today (with inflation): a whopping $105,129. It is claimed that is fully booked for the first voyage in 2018.

They are not alone. An Everett, Washington company called OceanGate Expeditions is planning a similar thing and its cost is remarkably the same: $105,129 which makes it look like they may be a US version of Blue Marble. Then there is a company called Blue Fish that is also going to offer dives as well but at a lesser price of $59,680. So it seems a voyage to the bottom of the sea has become popular again for those with a lot of disposable income. Hopefully they will not run into the variety of monsters that Irwin Allen’s show became famous for.

Sources
Titanic: Diving tours of wreck site to begin in 2018 (CNN, 21 Mar 2017)
Everett company planning Titanic expedition with civilians (KOMO,22 March 2017)

St. Patrick’s Day (17 March)

St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland. Photo:Andreas F. Borchert
St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland.
Photo:Andreas F. Borchert

The Feast of St. Patrick is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church, the U.S.Episcopal Church, as a commemoration by the Evangelical Lutherans, and venerated in Orthodox Church. It is a public holiday in Ireland. The shamrock was used by St.Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity. In Ireland it is celebrated by families getting together for a meal. If the day falls on a Friday during Lent, observant Catholics receive dispensation to eat meat. If the feast day falls during Holy Week (and it does occasionally), the feast day is moved to avoid conflicting with the Holy Week calendar. A more recent occurrence are public festivals in Ireland and use of the day to promote Irish culture.

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Here is an old tune from the Emerald Isle, known as The Minstrel Boy. The full lyrics can be found here.The tune was quite popular (and still is) and the opening is often heard more than the full song:

The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you’ll find him;
His father’s sword he has girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
“Land of Song!” said the warrior bard,
“Though all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”

The first is a wonderful rendition using Irish traditional musical instruments. And the second is from a more modern source (and set in the future) from Star Trek:The Next Generation episode The Wounded where the song has an important role. Chief O’Brien uses the tune to remind his old captain of his duty and what he has done.

A Fateful Day:The Ides of March(44 BC)

The Death of Julius Caesar,Vincenzo Camuccini (1771–1844). Public Domain
The Death of Julius Caesar,Vincenzo Camuccini (1771–1844).
Public Domain

Today is 15 March and on the old Roman calendar was a day of religious observance to the Roman god Jupiter and other lesser deities. But it is most famous as the date in 44 BC when Julius Caesar was assassinated at a meeting of the Roman Senate. 60 conspirators were involved but the leaders were Brutus and Cassius. Caesar was forewarned of his death by a seer according to Plutarch. And in his famous work Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has the soothsayer say “beware the ides of March” which Caesar ignores and if course he ends up stabbed to death uttering the famous line before death:

Et tu Brute!

The assassination was a turning point for Rome. It brought about a civil war and ended the Roman Republic. Octavian (later Augustus) would become emperor and the Roman Empire would come to dominate the entire Mediterranean Sea, North Africa, and parts of Europe and Britain. In Julius Caesar Mark Antony gives perhaps the most remembered funeral oration ever done. Most people recall the famous opening line:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones; so let it be with Caesar.

The oration is masterful in that it cleverly turns the people against Brutus and Cassius by showing they were ambitious and not Caesar. By the end the plebeians call them traitors and murderers.

In real life, it was much the same. Antony played them by seemingly supporting amnesty but turning people against them both. Brutus was forced to leave and ended up on Crete, Cassius went east to gather support amongst the governors and to amass an army. Antony and Octavian would clash militarily causing divisions in Rome. This allowed the forces of Brutus and Cassius to march on Rome. However Octavian made peace with Antony upon this news so both forces joined to stop Brutus and Cassius. They met at Philippi on 3 Oct 42 BC. The first battle resulted in Brutus defeating Octavian but Antony defeating Cassius. Not knowing that Brutus had defeated Octavian, Cassius took his own life. At the second battle of Philippi on 23 October, Brutus was defeated and forced to flee into the hills where he committed suicide. Antony treated his body with great respect by having it wrapped his most expensive purple mantle. His body was cremated and remains sent to his mother.

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Having A Cup of Tea Titanic Style

Afternoon Tea by Francisco Miralles Galup (1848-1901)
Public Domain

Christopher Keohane, owner of Fresh Food Catering, came up with an interesting idea: Last Tea of the Titanic.  Keohane owns Wenham Tea House in Wenham, Massachusetts. After doing many months of research into how tea was served aboard Titanic, he came up with a clever way for people to experience a bit of being aboard the famous ship.

And he added flair with music from the period and having staff wear ship’s officers and crew clothing for the event. For $50, you not only get a delicious cup of tea but a three course meal. The meal includes items found on the menu in 1912 such as Chartreuse jelly that are not commonly found on today’s afternoon tea menus. The upcoming event on February 25th is sold out but two Last Teas are planned for April. Great idea but get rid of the Titanic shaped ice cubes in the water glasses. If you are paying $50.00 for a touch of Edwardian elegance, you do not need such tacky items.
Source:‘Last Tea Of The Titanic’: A Taste Of What Dining Was Like On The Doomed Ship(WBUR.org, 17 Feb 2017)


Rare Titanic Photo Sells For £360

RMS Titanic beginning sea trials, April 2, 1912.
Public Domain (National Archives and Records Administration,ARC Identifier#306 RG 306)

A rare black and white photograph in a glazed oak frame recently sold for £360 pounds ($374 USD) reports Deccan Chronicle. The photograph was bought by a collector at an auction for £20.  It was estimated to be auctioned off for £200 and was purchased by an anonymous bidder.
Source: Rare Titanic Photograph Fetches 360 pounds at UK Auction(Deccan Chronicle, 19 Feb 2017)

Today is President George Washington’s Birthday (President’s Day)

 George Washington (1732–99) by Gilbert Stuart Photo: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)
George Washington (1732–99) by Gilbert Stuart
Photo: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

Although today is referred to as “President’s Day” it is not a federal holiday by that name. It is officially designated as Washington’s Birthday under federal law. There was a movement to combine both Washington and Lincoln’s birthday (since they occur days apart) or honor the office of president. That never came to be. Instead in 1968 the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was past and came into force in 1971. That shifted most federal holidays to a Monday if it fell during the week. Washington’s Birthday name was not changed and so under federal law it is still Washington’s Birthday. However many states issue their own proclamations celebrating not only Washington but Lincoln and others from their own state. Advertisers have caught on as well. So today many call it President’s Day but who it commemorates beyond George Washington is up to the state governors.

The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize.
President George Washington,Farewell Address, 19 September 1799.

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