Lost amid the hubbub surrounding the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is the remarkable achievement the ship’s building represented.
A product of the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, the Titanic’s creation represented a remarkable transformation for a country just a couple of generations removed from the Great Potato Famine that claimed more than 1 million lives and induced another 1 million-plus to emigrate.
But, as the Irish Times explains, Protestant Belfast was much different from the Ireland of the southern, Catholic portion of the island realm.
“It had grown at a phenomenal rate, surging past Dublin in 1891 to become Ireland’s largest city, and then growing by another 35 per cent in the last decade of the 19th century alone,” according to the publication.
Belfast had the world’s “largest rope works, tobacco factory, linen spinning mill, tea machinery works, dry dock and aerated water factory.”
There was no chance that southern Ireland, lacking the above globally significant industry, could have produced the Titanic.
Wow. One can only imagine how many broken bones, bruises and abrasions he incurred over the years to acquire this kind of ability.
Given what he can do, I’d say it was worth it.
(HT: Coyote Blog)
Using nifty graphics, International Health professor Hans Rosling shows how life expectancy and per-capita income have skyrocketed over the past 200 years in countries where the Industrial Revolution has taken hold.
Rosling, a professor at Karolinska Institute and director of the Gapminder Foundation which developed the Trendalyzer software system used in the above video, demonstrates quite clearly the difference between living in, say, Luxembourg and the Congo.
However, Rosling is optimistic that the gap between the haves and the have-nots can be bridged through “aid, trade, green technology and peace,” and that it’s fully possibly every country can eventually become healthy and wealthy.
George Mason University economics professor Don Boudreaux has penned an excellent piece for the Pittsburgh Tribune in which he punctures the illusion that the western world prior to the Industrial Revolution was some sort of pristine utopia.
Today, Boudreaux writes, too many people romanticize the past and overlook its faults. For example, they ascribe a Disney World-type hue to Revolutionary-era America. They equate 18th century America with the Colonial Williamsburg that thousands of tourists visit each year – complete with quaint costumes, cozy Colonial-style restaurants, and fun displays and re-enactments.
In fact, daily life in the 18th century bore little resemblance to the “life” we see at Colonial Williamsburg, Boudreaux writes: