Saturday, 14 April 2012

Commemorating the Titanic

A range of responses commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic:

The New Yorker: Overshadowing everything is the problem of money and class. The Titanic’s story irresistibly reads as a parable about a gilded age in which death was anything but democratic, as was made clear by a notorious statistic: of the men in first class—who paid as much as four thousand three hundred and fifty dollars for a one-way fare at a time when the average annual household income in the U.S. was eight hundred dollars—the percentage of survivors was roughly the same as that of children in third class:
Huffington Post: With all of the buzz surrounding James Cameron's "Titanic 3D” release, it's only natural that some people are going to overlook the real tragedy behind the Hollywood blockbuster film. At least, until the hype behind the Titanic film dies down. But to not even know that the Titanic was based on a true story is an entirely different -- and much more horrifying -- story. In case you were doubting that these people actually exist, they do:
@TitanicRealTime seeks to recreate the ship's voyage via Twitter. Some tweets are from the captain's point of view, while some are from the perspective of the crew, the engineering team and others involved with the legendary cruiseliner. Tags indicate who is speaking in each tweet. The tweets begin on March 10, "Exactly a month before Titanic's journey begins." So far, the tweets are fairly realistic, with officers and crew excitedly tweeting about the features of the ship. How @TitanicRealTime handles the actual sinking has yet to be seen -- will the officers be tweeting as they struggle to control a panicked crowd? Will Captain E.J. Smith issue a farewell tweet before he goes down with the ship? Will steerage-class passengers complain about being trapped belowdecks, or will they not be able to get reception?!/TitanicRealTime

The Onion (satirical news site): WORLD’S LARGEST METAPHOR HITS ICEBERG. Titanic, representation of man’s hubris, sinks in North Atlantic. It is believed at this time that upwards of 1,500 passengers aboard the metaphor may have perished in the imperturbable liquid immensity that, irrespective of mankind’s congratulatory “progress”, blankets most of the globe in its awful dark silence. Seven hundred more passengers survived to objectify human insignificance in the face of the colossal placidity of the universe:

The Economist: Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson of Uppsala University have looked at 18 peace-time shipwrecks for which they could find detailed data. The results are striking. Women had a lower chance of survival in 11 out of 18 instances. Only on two ships was it an advantage to be a woman: on the Birkenhead in 1852 and on the Titanic. The best odds of survival on average were, somewhat surprisingly, those of the crew, followed by none other than the captain. Children were worst off:
The Guardian: On board was the chairman of the White Star Line, J Bruce Ismay, who got into a lifeboat, saving himself and leaving to drown some two-thirds of the passengers on the ship he owned and had helped to design. As half-filled lifeboats floated near the stricken leviathan, their passengers listened to the screams and groans of the dying, Ismay refused to turn and look at the sinking ship. His hair was said to have turned white overnight, and except for his reluctant testimony at subsequent inquiries, he hardly ever spoke of the disaster again. He insisted that he had helped all the visible passengers into lifeboats, and only got into one himself when the decks were cleared, but the dishonour would hound him for the rest of his life. Conflicting accounts rapidly emerged, as survivors' memories were inevitably shaped by trauma, terror, indignation, blame or self-exculpation. The public was left to decide whether Ismay was a rat deserting his sinking ship, or an ordinary man who simply chose not to die:

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