18 Jul 2012
Take some time off to come back to find lots of news stories to sift through! Actually it was not that bad since I filter out a lot of stories that have no bearing to Titanic at all. Some just mention Titanic as a descriptive like “it was a match of titans” or it was a “Titanic event. ” Of course there are the usual cliches like the infamous “rearranging desk chairs” that seem never to go out of style. Pity that politicians just seem to love to use Titanic. It crosses borders and parties as well.
Over at Premier Exhibitions, the word seems to be silence. No word on what is going except that negotiations are continuing regarding the artifact sale. They got title to the salvaged artifacts but can only sell it as one piece limiting sales to only mega corporations, museums or consortiums with very deep pockets, or wealthy oil princes in the Middle East. Perhaps China will buy it up and make it a tourist attraction. Stranger things have happened.
Premiere Exhibitions reported that its profits are up for the first three months that ended 31 May. They report a 9 percent jump resulting in $1.2 million or 2 cents a share. Last year at the same time it was $1.1 million and 2 cents a share. Overall revenues (before expenses) were up 19 percent to $11.5 million from $9.7 million. Their acquisition of Arts and Exhibitions International LLC–which has King Tut II, Cleopatra and Real Pirates (and others) as part of its programs–added to the bottom line. Ticket prices however went down during the period (no doubt to attract people) by 7.6 percent.
Titanic II appears to be rolling along. Still in the planning stages (actual construction has not yet started) but Clive Palmer already has said he will likely exclude everyone but first class passengers from its casino. He says he did not want people not able to lose money to go there. Nice sentiments but Las Vegas has no such qualms. As long as your money is good (and not one their list of banned people) you can gamble as you wish. Some people do get foolish and gamble too much. There are some who do get addicted to gambling but that is a special category. And those people, like alcoholics, need counseling to deal with this problem. Palmer likes to remind that Titanic II will have all the latest in safety technologies, be wider than the original for stability, and offer nice amenities. Hopefully they will not serve Titanic shaped ice cubes in the bars.
Robert Ballard has been in the news recently. The Turkish government asked him to assist in locating the downed fighter craft shot down by Syria. Since his ship was docked in Turkey already for an expedition, he went out and located it in Syrian waters. Still up for debate is whether the Syrians had any legal right to shot it down (if it was in their airspace they will claim they had the right while Turkey says they did not). Ballard’s ship Nautilus is exploring the Black and Mediterranean seas this summer looking for Byzantine era ships and to observe marine life. You can check out their progress at www.nautiluslive.org.
An article in the Daily Mail once again asks the question whether or not Lusitania was carrying illegal munitions that contributed to its sinking in 1915. On 7 May 1915, a German submarine torpedoed the liner which sank rapidly taking 1,198 lives. Controversy swirled from the very beginning because there were two explosions. One was the torpedo and the other no can ascertain for sure. Some speculate it was munitions for the war in Europe put on board illegally, others that it was coal that ignited as a result of the torpedo. Greg Bemis, who is co-owner of the wreck and believes that it went down as result of illegal munitions, is conducting dives to the wreck to determine what happened. The wreck lies 300 feet down off the coast of Ireland near Cobh (Titanic docked there in 1912 but it was Queenstown then). The water is murky making it hard to see and cutting into the hull takes time. Weather of course makes it difficult. All of this is for a documentary that will reveal what they found.
It was a major news story back in 1915. Europe was at war with England/France/Russia on one side vs. Germany/Austria/Turkey on the other. Lusitania was a civilian vessel and many Americans were aboard. The German embassy had placed notices in newspapers warning such ships were subject to attack. The German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare allowed them to target military and civilian vessels of its enemies. Its sinking angered America and President Wilson. However it did not lead to American entry into the war (that came in 1918 thanks to the infamous Zimmerman Telegram). Like people who believe President Roosevelt knowingly allowed the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, there are those who argue the same for Lusitania. They argue the British (in particular Churchill) wanted the Americans in the war and put the illegal munitions on the ship knowing the Germans would get the blame when they torpedoed her. No real proof exists (though lots have been written to support it) that is the case. A lot of post-World War I history is written from the point of view, that America was sucked into that war by the British and that Lusitania was part of it.
Turning away from Titanic, I have been watching MasterChef(Fox-USA). I like this show. Unlike the other shows (except maybe for Food Network Food Star) all of the participants are amateurs and mostly home cooks. A few have some restaurant experience as food runners, servers, burger flippers, or breakfast serving, but most learned from just doing it at home sometimes with their parents or others around them. What is surprising is the creativeness and quality of dishes presented. The judges–Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliot, and Gordon Ramsey–put the aspiring MasterChefs through a lot of hurdles to get the best of the best. Along the way you get interesting challenges and personalities. This season has also seen lots of changes. Obviously aware that shows like these become predictable, they have chosen to shake things up to make it less so. For instance, usually at the end of a mystery box challenge they call down the three best they want to try. However at the first one, the three they called down were judged by them (they walk around and taste the dishes and talk with the cheftestants) to be the worst. They also have mixed up the elimination challenges by having the winner select who cooks what in that challenge. It adds a lot more stress and strategy. Choose right and you might send home someone who was a competitor. On the other hand, you might end up helping the very people you want to eliminate as Ryan found out to his embarrassment. Sadly some of the challenges send favorites away like Josh (who really excelled in most challenges but the egg pressure test was his doom). Christine, who is blind, has proved to be very creative in her dishes despite an obvious impediment.
And it is never certain who wins or loses. For instance, Ryan was pleased to think that Monti had screwed it up by using canned crab to make scotch eggs. At first Gordon thought she was nuts but upon tasting realized it was delicious. Tali, never known for anything particularly great, did produce a delicious strawberry shortcake while Becky, a front runner, produced a trifle that looked beautiful but was very bad. So the show keeps you guessing as to whether the people you think are good will in fact cook well to survive to the next round. The worst offenders are easy to spot. Generally they serve undercooked food, miss key components required, or poorly executed dishes. Or you do something totally bizarre like baking cheddar cheese on top of your apple pie or putting unthinkable combinations in risotto. You know how bad it is when Joe takes your dish and tosses it into the trash. Your only hope is someone has done worse (and that has happened). Give MasterChef a watch. I think you will like it.
1.Businessweek, Premier Exhibitions 1Q Profit Up, Attendance Rises, 12 Jul 2012
2. Herald Sun, Clive Palmer reveals detailed plans for Titanic II,17 Jul 2012
3. Washington Post, As Titanic’s Discoverer Does Research At Sea, Armchair Explorers Can Watch Online, 16 Jul 2012
4. Daily Mail,Was The Lusitania Our War Crime: 1198 Passengers Died When The Liner Sank, 13 Jul 2012