Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yes, kiddies, the Titanic really sank

So here's a fun thing.  I don't know that it's a fun fact, but it's a fun thing.  There were, apparently 10 or 15 or several thousand people -- I'm going to assume young people -- who were on Twitter yesterday tweeting each other that "Wow, I didn't know the sinking of the Titanic was a real event, I just thought it was a movie!"
The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is this weekend,  April14-15.  More than 1,500 people died.  You can see the graves of many of them if you are ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
I hope this was a silly  joke gone viral and not the ignorance of however many umpteen people being spread around the Internet, but you never know.
I do know that if I were not sure that something had really happened, and I was a young, technologically knowledgeable person, I might just Google that event before excitedly jumping into hyperspace to gleefully admit that I never knew it happened, especially something that really, really killed people.
The image above is a picture of the REAL bow of the Titanic resting miles down on the ocean floor, the same bow that was depicted in the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio pretending to be king of the world. 
Jeez how could you not know that Titanic director James Cameron  has made several dives to survey the actual wreckage of the ship?
How could you not know that Titanic is, in fact, lying there on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, that it has been extensively filmed and photographed, that it has been the subject of countless TV specials, that the artifacts recovered from the wreckage are currently up for a multi-multi-million dollar auction, that descendants of Titanic victims and survivors are at this moment on a cruise retracing its path?  Really? You didn't know any of that?
There were many famous people on board the Titanic.  I won't list them here, but here's a famous survivor on whom another movie and Broadway play were based: "The Unsinkable Molly Brown,." a great pioneer woman and suffragette. Visit her home if you are ever in Denver, Colo.
So here's a few other things you might want to look up before declaring, Lawdy me, I never knew that happened: The 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia (thousands dead and Philadelphia lost its chance to be the capital of the United States), the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986 -- anywhere from 4,000 to who knows how many dead -- people still dying from cancers caused by the meltdown).
The Bophal, India, gas disaster (1984 -- 3,700 dead in one day and thousands of others still dying from the chemical contamination), the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston (1942 -- 452 dead), the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (1911 -- 146 dead), The Station nightclub fire (East Warwick, R.I., 2003 -- 100 dead), The Ringling Brothers Circus fire, Hartford, Conn. (1944 -- 141 dead, one child's body still unidentified), the Hindenburg explosion (1937-- 36 dead) ... well I could go on and on and on.
But here's something to know -- or learn -- about these horrific disasters; usually something good came out of them so that fewer such disasters happen today.  
Better ship safety and communications systems, safer shipping routes, municipal health departments and water works, scientific research into the causes of disease, stricter building codes, the use of non-explosive helium to inflate balloons and lots of well-marked exits wherever large groups of people gather.
And if you ever hear a circus band play the "Stars and Stripes Forever" march, run for your life!.  Okay, do I have to tell you Stars and Stripes was a code to tell circus folk that something was terribly wrong?
Also, yes it is a good thing for governments to set high standards for regulating nuclear and chemical plants even if it costs those industries and its consumers something to be safe.
 "War of the Worlds," "Clash of the Titans," "Raiders of the Lost Ark"  -- these "events" didn't really happen.
Just so you know. 

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