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Speaking of Monday’s rare eclipse, I quite accidentally ran across the following exchange regarding a similar 1912 phenomenon, between Winston and Clementine Churchill:

Clementine was staying at the Hotel Bristol in Paris, where she had “flitted off with some friends,” after recovering from a miscarriage back in England. In her letter to Winston of April 17th, she commented: “It is so bright and warm, not a breath of wind & a cloudless sky. The (solar) eclipse was weird & it became very dark for a few moments. Everyone out in the street with bits of smoked glass. The light was strange and metallic, like lighting on the stage. Rosie has gone off to see a friend., and I am resting — the horror of the Titanic (which had sunk the night of 14-15 April with the loss of 1,513 lives) ¬†overshadows everything. Goodby my Darling. Your very loving Clem.”

 

Winston wrote back April 18th from 33 Eccelston Square in London: ” My Darling — Your description of the metallic light of the eclipse is perfectly correct. I noticed it myself. It also got much colder. The Titanic disaster is the prevailing theme here. The story is a good one. The story of the great traditions of the sea towards women & children reflects nothing but honor upon our civilization. Always your loving and devoted husband, W.”

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Here’s what the stricken cruise ship the Costa Concordia, looks like now from space. Could you imagine what it looked like to its stranded and panicked passengers from its wildly tilting decks the night it crashed earlier this year?

When the cruise ship, Costa Concordia, twice the size of the Titanic with 4200 innocent passengers aboard, hit the rocks off the coast of Italy earlier this year, the incompetence and cowardice of its captain and many of its crew became manifest, as 32 died and thousands suffered terror and injury in the early hours of what was supposed to be a luxurious cruise of a state-of-the-art ship.

Except — the captain was more interested in his girlfriend and in showing off, than is captaining his ship, and a cruise line that thought a casual dinner and a good night’s sleep would be more useful than a safety drill, or a well-crained and disciplined crew. This captain should get the electric chair and this cruise line, which clearly had lousy standards for training and safety and is seeking legal protection to limit its liability, should be put out of business and forgo its assets, at the very least.

The compelling, blow by blow story of the sinking of the Costa Concordia can be read in the May, 2012, edition of Vanity Fair magazine, “Another Night to Remember,” by Jonas Fredwall Karlsson.

People interested in cruising should demand to know the safety records of not only the cruise lines and ships they will sail upon but the experience and records of the senior crew of those ships. They should demand evidence of the safety training of the crews, from captain to steward, and they should demand thorough safety drills as they leave port, not hours or a day later.

And citizens should demand of their legislators better laws of the sea regarding passenger ship safety, and also better liability protection in event of problems at sea, ranging from sexual predation to disasters of every kind. As Presidential candidates and Senators and Congressmen to take positions and seek action on behalf of the cruising public, who already pay a lot to set to sea, but shouldn’t have to pay with their physical and economic safety at risk

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