Tag Archives: nature

Titanic Musings

*Premier Exhibitions

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

It is funny how things end up. Back in 1987 George Tulloch and G. Michael Harris formed a partnership to recover Titanic artifacts. They partnered with Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea (which was also partnered with Ballard in his Titanic expedition). The company that was formally established was called RMS Titanic Inc and conducted numerous dives to bring up artifacts. Needless to say many were not happy with this. It caused major splits in the Titanic community with angry confrontations on the Internet and major gatherings.  The company though went through all the necessary legal steps to claim, under maritime law in a U.S. Federal Court, that they had the right to do what they did. And the court found they did in the end. The artifacts were brought up, restored, and put on exhibition. It is the only way to see genuine Titanic artifacts.

But in 1999 Tulloch was ousted in a hostile takeover. The company would begin to move in other directions by deciding to become an exhibition company. In 2004 it changed its name to Premier Exhibitions. It also began the highly controversial Bodies exhibition (it is controversial because many claim the bodies from China are from their prisons). Other exhibitions would be added as well. Yet something was amiss. Here was a company with a prize possession, Titanic artifacts, and other well liked exhibitions. And it was losing money. Why?

Interest in exhibitions can wax and wane but Titanic was certainly a draw. Belfast shows how true this is. Belfast Titanic has done pretty well and the city is happy with the revenues it has generated. From what is publicly known, it seems Premier probably signed unwise expensive leases but that cannot be the whole story. The merger with Dinoking was meant to bolster the bottom line and hopefully restore confidence. And infuse money into the company to get it back on its feet. Now it is in bankruptcy court to get protection from its creditors and reorganize.

Perhaps the best thing about this is that it will require the books to be opened for inspection. This way one can find out how the company is run. It might turn out that the company was not run well, the appropriate checks and balances not followed, and revenues decreased by undisclosed expenses that were never reported to shareholders. Whatever the case, the shareholders ought to be incensed and demand oversight of this process is truly independent.

*Summer means MasterChef/Hotel Hell

MasterChef_Logo_&_Wordmark.svgMasterChef has lost two of its original members: Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot. Joe left two seasons ago and was replaced by Christina Tosi. Graham left at the end of last season and no replacement has been made. Instead they will have a rotating series of well-known chefs such as Wolfgang Puck visiting from time-to-time. Will it work? Well Wolfgang was certainly interesting. Puck was only there for the Mystery Box challenge and not for the elimination. Why? Would you not want his expertise there as well? Meanwhile on Hotel Hell, Ramsay continues his tour of American by stopping at hotels in dire need of his extreme criticism. I have little sympathy for the owners of these places complaining about Ramsay. There is a lot of stuff out there about how he does things and his previous outings are well documented. So when someone complains Gordon or his production staff purposefully left stained duvets for him to find, I am usually do not find it credible. Especially when it is clear that they are never going to follow much of his advice anyway. And the dolt that runs the hotel in Chelan decided once the lights and cameras were off to jettison much of what Gordon suggested. Reminds of me the experience Gordon had at Black Oyster.

*Call of the Wild
I got some criticism about the raccoon posting. My point was education. Far too many people think, thanks to anthropomorphism of nature, that it is safe to approach them like a domesticated pet. As that video showed, feeding a wild raccoon is neither safe nor wise. People get killed or maimed by wild animals because they forget this simple fact of nature: they are not human. Never forget that. Respect nature and do not think that cute mother bear wants you to approach and take photos of its cubs.


Today’s Nature Lesson: Do Not Feed Raccoons

Raccoon in a garden in Kamouraska, Québec. Photo:Christopher Michaud (Wikimedia Commons)
Raccoon in a garden in Kamouraska, Québec.
Photo:Christopher Michaud (Wikimedia Commons)

Raccoons are a very hearty breed. Omnivorous and generally nocturnal (though not always, it depends upon other factors such as food and predators). They exist in rural and most importantly these days in cities. Apparently Toronto is considered to have the greatest number of raccoons in North America. And they migrate as well. Raccoons are highly adaptable to new environments. While they started out in marshy and wooded areas, they now live in cities and towns as well. They have even shown up in Alaska. While they started out as native to North America, they are now also showing up in Europe, Caucasia, and Japan.

Urban raccoons (like their counterparts in rural areas)are considered very clever. Unlike their rural counterparts, they are not afraid of humans and wander freely around our areas. And they are often see them feeding from our garbage. Those who grow fruit do not like raccoons much as they will climb the trees to eat the fruit. Growers of sweet corn also have to take precautions as do those who have hen houses as they will break in to eat the eggs. Likewise if you have a nice pond in your courtyard stocked with some beautiful koi, you might want to invest in a protective cover or a raccoon will likely have a nice meal.

But the greatest danger to humans comes from something else: rabies. They can spread the disease to humans through their saliva and bites. Feeding wild animals is always a risky proposition, even for those trained to do it. Keeping all this in mind, one wonders why someone would think it wise to feed a raccoon by hand. It is one thing to give them food in a bowl (which is discouraged because they might get dependent on a human and stop seeking food on their own)but to offer it out of your hand is stupid and foolish (look up those words, they do have separate meanings). So here is a YouTube video of someone who did just that. The accompanying news story is at UPI.

Sources:
Raccoon (Wikipedia)
Raccon Tracks

When Visiting A Nature Preserve Obey The Posted Rules

I grew up in a time when we learned not to get too close to animals in the wild. I guess back then we learned that wild animals, even those in zoos, ought to be given the proper distance. That meant never approach them like they were your pets because they might just think you are a threat. Simple. But alas many today forget many of the simple rules and just roll right up to a bear sitting there apparently in a peaceful state. Perhaps they saw too many Disney and Yogi Bear animations. Now at Kruger National Park in South Africa, they post all kinds of warnings when you drive through. Keep your windows up, do not lean out, don’t follow the animals in your car. Some idiot tried doing that with an elephant resulting in it attacking the car. So what do you do when you see a female and male lion just having a nice bit of sun on the road? Well I know what I would do. And it is not what these idiots decided to do. Notice the kids hanging out of a car.