From the Titanic Legal Files: School Sued Over Titanic Experiment

gavelIn October 2012 Lisa McVey, a teacher at Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville, Delaware, conducted a science experiment in her seventh-grade class. The experiment involved learning how cold it was the night Titanic sank in 1912. Students put their hands into ice water up their mid- forearm and keep them in as long as possible. One student, Nina Jordan, had her right hand in the water for 40 minutes and suffered injury press reports say. When she took her hand out, she experienced numbness, tingling and a lack of sensation.

While her right arm still functions, her lawyer argues there was nerve damage. Her parents filed suit in February of this year against the teacher and school district. The school district argued to dismiss the case arguing that state law gives immunity to school districts and their employees. However Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes ruled on 31 July denying the motion. Stokes said the teachers had to supervise the students and a legal duty to protect them as well.

This is not hard to fathom folks. A teacher challenged the students to put their hands in freezing water for as long as they could. Now most people know that putting hands into freezing water risk, if left long enough, frostbite. Over at WebMd they define frostbite as follows:

Frostbite is usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, particularly if they are accompanied by a low wind-chill factor. It may also occur following more brief exposure to very cold temperatures.

It is one thing for kids to put their hands in the cold water for a moment or two to get the idea of how cold it was when Titanic sank. But letting them keep their hands in the water for longer periods of time is both foolish and stupid. And if you challenge kids to keep it as long as they can, some will try to do it not knowing the risks. Which is what the teacher is supposed to be on watch for. And apparently did nothing (as far as we know at this point) to stop Nina Jordan from keeping her hand in freezing water for 40 minutes.

1. Injured Delaware Girl’s Lawsuit Moves Forward(9 August 2014,Delmarvanow)
2. Judge Say School Lawsuit Over Titanic “Experiment” Involving Freezing Cold Water Can Proceed(8 Aug 2014,Daily Journal)

SS Eastland: Titanic Regulations Had An Impact

SS Eastland circa 1911 Photo: public domain (Library of Congress)
SS Eastland circa 1911
Photo: public domain (Library of Congress)

Marian Cheatham, writing for Chicago Now, recently opined that regulations enacted after Titanic had a consqeuence. The consequence was that ships that were not designed for the extra weight or had stability issues would have problems. The SS Eastland was one such ship. Now obviously no one wanted this to happen so the actual fault does not rest on the regulations but on the shipowners and whether they were negligent or not.

Titanic Responsible For Eastland Capsizing?(3 Aug 2014,Chicago Now)
The Eastland was originally designed and built for 6 lifeboats. The additional weight added in compliance with the Seaman’s Act made an already unstable vessel even more top-heavy and inevitably, deadly. On the day of her capsizing in July 1915, she had a total of 11 lifeboats, 37 rafts, and a workboat. Without a doubt, the fallout from the Titanic impacted the Eastland, but the additional weight of this life-saving equipment was not the only cause of that fatal capsizing. Several other factors came into play. As I outlined in the Author’s Notes for my novel, Eastland, the disaster occurred because a series of events unfolded in catastrophic succession. The Seaman’s Act was only the first event in that series.

Things You See

While watching episodes of Star Trek Next Generation, it struck me how they mashed up rates and ranks. In the original series Gene Roddenberry indicated there were no enlisted personnel in Starfleet. That meant every crewman you saw was (unless noted otherwise)an ensign probably rotating through various departments deciding on their career path (science, command, communications, engineering, security etc). Sounds interesting in theory but the division of labor is necessitated by the fact that large organizations need different people to do different tasks. And they all cannot be officers if that is to be the case. Some have to lead, others have to be told what needs to be done. If they are all officers, that would pose a problem. And in most militaries of the world, it is the sergeants and petty officers who really are the oil of the machinery that makes it all work.

Next Generation acknowledged there are enlisted and non-commissioned officers but could not decide on how to present them. So like the original series, they walked around wearing standard uniforms but had no insignia that identified what rate they were. Officers all had pips on their collars. Even Chief O’Brien had nothing for a while until they gave him a empty yellow pip on his collar. Even then, it did not look right. By the time O’Brien transferred over to Deep Space Nine, they finally decided to distinguish enlisted personnel with insignia that was based on naval rate insignia. Chief O’Brien finally had insignia that clearly showed he was a master chief petty officer. They also gave those on Deep Space Nine a different type of uniform. I suppose the rationale was that the military do have different types of uniforms for different tasks. That is certainly true with specialized units but most officers and enlisted wear the same uniform though they may vary by season (dark in winter, lighter in summer). Other than making a style change, there was really no need to have a different uniform for Deep Space Nine.

Another important thing is a clear separation of staff from field/line commands. Most services have large support departments (medical, supply, personnel, accounting, legal). Doctors,lawyers, and supply officers do not lead field units nor command ships. This clear delineation ought to require no explanation. You put officers in charge of field/line units who are trained to do that, not someone trained in preparing legal briefs. Yet in Next Generation, Counselor Troi is somehow the senior officer on the bridge in Disaster because Miles O’Brien says she has rank of commander. Yet that is not how it works at all. She is not a field/line officer but in medical. The officer of the deck (OOD) had been killed so the Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD) would be next in line. That would be the ensign manning the operations station. Now granted the conditions were extraordinary but it would not fall to Troi to be in command of the bridge. O’Brien in fact would the acting engineering officer assisting the JOOD in getting things running again if this were being run more closer to actual military protocols. Troi could advise but not issue orders.

I think they kind of realized the mistake later. On Deep Space Nine, Ensign Nog asks the chief why Commander Dax was called captain while commanding Defiant. O’Brien explains that it is tradition that whoever is in actual command of a ship, no matter what their actual rank, is called captain. Nog says something about him becoming captain. O’Brien jokes back things would have to really go bad if he as ensign becomes Defiant’s captain. If it came down to Nog being the senior officer left, things are definitely in a bad way.

Masterchef: Choices and Bad Pasta


*It is week 10 of Masterchef (U.S.). 11 remain after Christine went home last week.

This week was about choices and pasta, specifically bad pasta. They were given two mystery boxes for the first time in Masterchef history. Under one box were ingredients found in many kitchens and pantries, while the other had upscale proteins, cheeses, and other things you only get at high end grocery or specialty stores. The choice was to select one box to cook from and produce, of course, a stellar dish. Courtney and Leslie, who both cooked from the upscale box, get called up. Victoria cooked from the ordinary box. All three had stellar dishes but Leslie used three proteins to great effect and won the round. Victoria though really showed how cleaver she was in taking tilapia and making it a cut above the ordinary. Courtney loved being able to cook with those expensive ingredients but like Victoria has to wait outside while Leslie goes into the pantry. And you know they were worried because Leslie has some bones to pick with a few of them.

All three judges presented their favorite stuffed pastas. And those can be hard to get just right. He ends up choosing caramelle, a stuffed pasta I never heard of before. According to the website Classic Pasta:

These small, filled pastas, are shaped into tubes or cylinders, almost like mini-cannelloni, and then the ends are twisted. The resulting shape can be compared to (pardon our French): bon-bons., Sometimes they are called (pardon our English): sweeties. These are generally a holiday, or festive, or Sunday brunch preparation, mainly in Parma and Piacenza.

The ingredients are actually very simple. The pasta filling is usually fresh mozzarella, basil, garlic and pepper although you can add prosciutto and ricotto cheese as well. The sauce is also simple ripe tomatos, onions, butter, salt and pepper. The devil, if you will pardon the expression, is how you put it all together. Simple but requires technique and attention to detail. As they prepare to make their pasta, one more twist is thrown in. Leslie gets to decide who will use a wood roller to roll out pasta rather than a pasta machine. Talk about sending someone to old school tech! Leslie walks around and teases them with the roller. He hugs Ahran. Then he hands it to Daniel and takes the pasta maker away. He does not like Daniel much and the feeling is mutual. Daniel promises to be like Babe Ruth and targets Leslie calling him a !@#$%@. Thanks Daniel for showing how mature you are. The word JERK is now firmly applied like a scarlet letter on your forehead.

One person I knew would have a problem was Big Willie. He has never seen pasta like that before and probably not eaten at many Italian restaurants. I had a sinking feeling this could be it for him but never fear, the Scot is here. Scottish Francis that is who decided to use raw beet juice to color his pasta. Meanwhile Daniel is concocting some fantastic caramelle dish that will blow your socks off. Literally. Meanwhile The Cutter Zone looks like he is moving along just fine. Courtney reminds us she is a 3rd generation Italian so she knows how to make pasta. Jaimee is also of Italian heritage but puts her head down to make her interpretation of her father’s recipe.

Now what I think distinguishes the good from the bad in this competition is how they designed the dish. Those that stayed with the essential format did well while those who walked off the beaten path ended up in a bad place. Scottish Francis, never known for being conventional, decided on a weird concoction. He used raw beet juice to color his pasta to make them look like candy. But it was all over the place and turned out poorly for him. The time was not yet right for this recipe. Something popped into my head when that was said by Gordon. It reminded me of something Dumbledore said in one of the later Harry Potter stories. Something about a guy who thought the world was ready for a pot made of cheese. And this was not the time for Scottish Francis wonderland adventure in pasta making.

Big Willie did a dessert. A dessert! Gordon was not amused and upset that with all the ingredients available this is what he did. That is way off the beaten track heading towards the rabbit hole that Scottish Francis fell into. He can make the most wonderful home dishes but clearly when out of his comfort zone he does goofy things like this. Did he not learn from his previous mistakes? It appears not. He joins Francis in the bottom.

And then there is Daniel. This is the guy who promised to knock it out of the park. He is proud of his dish. And it is a smashing failure. It was all over the place with its salinity, acidity, and heat (habanero!). Joe recoils at the heat in his mouth. There is not much more to say here except that Leslie knew Daniel would over think his dish. And now Daniel is on the bottom with Big Willie and Francis-in-Wonderland. Hey if The Cutter Zone could produce a decent dish that got praised, you know something has turned for the worse with these guys.

The two winners though really showed how you make a simple dish exceptional. Jaimee did an interpretation of her father’s recipe. Joe thought it not only visually appealing, but a tribute to her father as well. It was quite touching and I bet her father was pleased at the compliment she got over the dish. Courtney was very good as well using fresh tomatos rather than canned. Joe loved the proportion in the filling and overall how good the dish was. Jaimee was the winner of the two but both are team captains next week.

Leslie was really hoping Daniel would be sent home. Alas it was not to be. Both he and Willie got a pass because Francis-in-Wonderland simply went too far. So he was sent home and the final ten are now confirmed. Ten left and the competition really kicks up now. No room for mistakes, intentional or otherwise. The merciless gaze of Sauron Joe Bastianich is on them now.

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Sunday Titanic News

1. Bideford Blacksmith Is A Walking Titanic ‘Encyclopaedia‘(2 Aug 2014,North Devon Journal)
A former shipbuilder is creating “fireworks” with iron in a workshop at Bideford’s Pannier Market. Michael Burton, 56, is part of a long line of his family to work in the shipbuilding industry and has worked in some of the major shipyards in the UK and now runs his own blacksmithing business. Before Michael took up residency at the Pannier Market, he worked at Appledore Shipyard for years as well as Belfast Harbour – where the Titanic was built. The self-professed Titanic “encyclopaedia” has always had a passion for the ill-fated ship and has even hand-crafted 3ft models of the vessel. Through research, he also found out one of his relatives, John Edward Burton, worked in the furnaces and died on the ship.

2. Long-Lost Anchor May Soon Be Identified(28 Jul 2014,
After decades, possibly centuries, at the bottom of the sea — and a 2,200-mile-long (3,540 kilometers) road trip wrapped in damp blankets in the back of a pickup truck — a barnacle-crusted anchor arrived in Texas this week for a major cleaning.The men who raised the object from the floor of the Puget Sound hope conservation efforts will uncover proof that they found the long-lost anchor from a historic British voyage around the world.

3. Hall Things Considered: God’s Faithfulness Is Our Anchor(30 Jul 2014,TheTimes Tribune)A review of Titanic Pigeon Forge.
Once you enter the museum, you are given a passenger boarding ticket. The ticket has the name of an actual Titanic passenger telling you which class they were traveling. At the end of the museum, you enter the Titanic Memorial Room to find out if your passenger survived. But before you get to the end, you get to take part in a two-hour self-guided tour designed to give guests the sensation of being an original passenger on the Titanic’s 1912 maiden voyage. There are about 20 different galleries of actual items salvaged from the ship after it sank. The items included old photos, letters, clothing, silverware and many other personal effects from the folks who were aboard the Titanic. You also get the chance to place your hand in a little pool of water that was the same temperature as the water the ship sank in.

War Decorations awarded to Father Francis Browne for his service in World War I. The decorations shown are, from left to right, the Military Cross and Bar, and miniatures of the Military Cross and Bar, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal (US) and finally the Croix de Guerre (France). Photo:Bjørn Christian Tørrissen(Wikipedia)
War Decorations awarded to Father Francis Browne for his service in World War I. The decorations shown are, from left to right, the Military Cross and Bar, and miniatures of the Military Cross and Bar, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal (US) and finally the Croix de Guerre (France).
Photo:Bjørn Christian Tørrissen(Wikipedia)

4. “The Bravest Man I Ever Met” Father Brown In World War I(29 Jul 2014,
Ministering to soldiers in the thick of the action, Father Browne was wounded five times and badly gassed. “Father Browne’s First World War” gives an account of his wartime experiences and contains 100 photos from his remarkable collection. There are also extracts from his letters home describing his experiences, and from his messages to the families of the fallen. The book includes a moving account of the time he spent working alongside fellow chaplain, Fr Willie Doyle, killed by a shell.

5. Slumbering Off Louisiana Coast: Sunken Nazi Sub(16 Jul 2014,Fox News)
Many never knew how close German U-boats came to US soil during World War II, but new high-def footage reveals several wrecks on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Robert Ballard, known for discovering the Titanic, is now mapping some of these wrecks, including the SS Robert E. Lee that was torpedoed by the German U-166 in 1942 and sank 45 miles off the coast of Louisiana. While most of the Lee’s 286 passengers survived, the U-166 was hit by the Lee’s Navy escort and sank less than a mile away with all 52 still aboard; it now slumbers as a protected war grave.

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Welcome to August

Today is the first sunday of August, the eight month in the Gregorian calendar. It is summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern. One interesting bit of trivia is that August ends on the same day of the week as November every year. This month was originally known as Sextili as it was the sixth month. It shifted around for a while as calendars were changed or adjusted until around Julius Caesar added to more days to give it a full 31 and by that time it was the eighth month. It became August (Latin Augustus) to honor the Emperor Augustus. The word august has come to mean respected and impressive. Saying someone is part of an august body is to say the body is distinguished and renowned.

The birthstones for August are peridot and sardonyx. The August flower is the gladiolus or poppy.

Gladiolus(Gladiolus imbricatus) Photo: Christer Johansson(via Wikipedia)
Gladiolus(Gladiolus imbricatus)
Photo: Christer Johansson(via Wikipedia)