Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Titanic Failure

I was going to write on Father Damien the Leper of Molokai; but then I was watching television, and Craig Ferguson mentioned that 98% of historians viewed bush junior as a failure. I used to watch Johnny Carson, before, to get the news. Comedians will brave to tell a national audience what news programmes are scared to, or self-censored not to announce. Well, the network political shows and commentators, other than Keith Olbermann, have consistently given bush junior an extremely, unjustified credence and undeserved respect; finally a blunt and truthful analysis and judgment is out in public, albeit not broadly diffused.

Yesterday, in 1912, the greatest ship afloat and in existence (to that moment) was on its maiden voyage; but during that night, the ship had a collision with an iceberg and sank that new morning. Of some 2200+, 1500+ died and just over 700 survived. One infant then, is now alive, the last survivor.

When I was a small boy, riding a rocking horse, there came by the house a woman, whom was also aboard. She had been a small child, and had saved her father. She would not go onto the lifeboat, she cried and carried on, until they put, also, her father into the boat. With me, not knowing that moment, she did a wonderful act. History, tells that the lifeboats were not filled, and that the class of passenger ticket factored into survival, more so, than gender and age.

The Titanic was seen, by the world, as a great tragedy; but also as an act of God. A spirit of arrogance was met by disaster. The press, as they often do, oversell, overstate, shill and hype commercial interests. Historical and engineering studies point to the old adage: you get what you pay for. The fatal and catastrophic failure was caused by water rushing in, due to the popping of weak rivets, after the collision. As so often in construction, cheaper materials were used. Steel is stronger than iron. The rivets were of mixed content, from different manufacturers. Uniform and universal use of steel rivets, may have, prevented most of the disaster. In addition to cheaper materials, there were not enough and skilled workers hired, and the job was rushed — standard business practices were maintained.

Popular songs, throughout history, have commemorated sad events: battles, train wrecks, murders, ship wrecks and such. The sinking of the Titanic certainly did. One such version was Ernest Stoneman’s in 1924, which I remember reading, was the first, million selling hillbilly record. Below, there are two verses and the chorus:
Oh, they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue,
And they thought they had a ship that the water would never leak through,
But the Lord's almighty hand said this ship would never land
Oh it was sad when the great ship went down!

Oh, it was sad, Oh, it was sad; Oh,it was sad, Oh, it what sad;
It was sad when the great ship went down, to the bottom of the ...
Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives,
It was sad when that great ship went down.

Oh, they sailed away from England, and were almost to the shore,
When the rich refused to associate with the poor,*
So they put them down below, where they were the first to go.
It was sad when the great ship went down.

A folklore quickly developed: The builders, Harland and Wolff, had their shipyard in Ireland and were not in the habit of hiring catholics. The White Star Line would not allow negroes on board. A few, famous millionaires were on board and perished, Mollie Brown was unsinkable. The eight man band played while sinking to the end, and there is great interest in their final tune.

A decade ago, an extremely, successful movie was made and shown throughout the world; and everyone knew the ending before seeing the picture — the ship sank! Clearly, people still have a fascination.

Tom Paxton wrote a song about the Chrysler handout with the final verse lines:

If you're a corporate Titanic,
And your failure is gigantic,
Down in Congress there's a safety net for you.
And that brings us to the gigantic failure — george bush junior.
*Third class was steerage, where the poor immigrants would be stored. That night gates were kept closed, while orders were being awaited for their opening.

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