Fate of Titanic’s icy foe examined

We all know what happened to the Titanic 100 years ago this week, but what became of its legendary foe – the mysterious block of ice that proved the “unsinkable” ship all too sinkable?

Actually, there may be a couple of photos in existence that show the deadly iceberg, shortly after the Titanic went down in the North Atlantic with more than 1,500 souls aboard.

According to the website io9.com, it’s quite possible sailors aboard two ships in the area of where the Titanic sank snapped pictures of the iceberg collided with the ill-fated ship on April 15, 1912.

“… both photographs feature the telltale sign of a collision with a ship, and likely a recent one at that: a streak of red paint,” writes 109.com. 

One of the photos was taken by the chief steward of the German ocean liner SS Prinz Adalbert, which was sailing through the North Atlantic on April 15, just miles away from where the Titanic had sunk the night before. 

Continue reading

New study increases tally of Civil War dead

To understand the impact of a recent study that suggests some 750,000 Americans perished during the War Between the States, rather than the 620,000 figure that’s been accepted for more than a century, consider this:

Given the current US population, the new figure would be the equivalent of 7.5 million dead today.

“The Civil War left a culture of death, a culture of mourning, beyond anything Americans had ever experienced or imagined,” David Blight, a Civil War historian at Yale University, told the BBC. “It left a degree of family and social devastation unprecedented for any Western society.”

Historian J. David Hacker of Binghamton University SUNY published a paper late last year in Civil War History revealing the new figure, based on demographic methods and sophisticated statistical software he used to study newly digitized US census records from 1850 to 1880.

Hacker began by taking digitized samples from the decennial census counts taken 1850-1880.

Using statistics software SPSS, he counted the number of native-born white men of military age in 1860 and determined how many of that group were still alive in 1870, according to the BBC.

Continue reading

Vietnam vets strive to honor past warriors

As someone who believes that a society is judged at least in part by the respect it shows its dead, there’s little I find more depressing than a forgotten, dilapidated cemetery.

Perhaps even harder to stomach coming across the graves of veterans that have fallen into disrepair.

To see the final resting places of men who once put their lives on the line – and sometimes gave those lives, in defense of their country – and who are now effectively consigned to oblivion does a great disservice to our nation.

Apparently, others feel the same, as well.

Witness Joseph Hoesch and Martin Neamon, a pair of Vietnam-era veterans from Pennsylvania.

When the pair visited the Chartiers Cemetery plot in Carnegie, Pa., where 133 Union veterans are interred, on a grey day in November 2010, they found it disheartening, according to KDKA.

Continue reading

Last Ottoman royal dies in Istanbul at 91

The last Ottoman royal born during before the 600-year dynasty’s collapse in the early 1920s died earlier this week. 

Fatma Neslişah Osmanoğlu was 91 when she fell victim to heart attack Monday in Istanbul.

Once known as Imperial Princess of the Ottoman Empire and Princess of Egypt, Sultan was the granddaughter of the last Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Ottoman Empire had ruled Turkey, parts of the Middle East and eastern Europe, beginning in 1299. 

Neslişah was born just two years before Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded modern Turkey, which brought a formal end to the Ottoman dynasty. 

However, while the Ottoman Empire’s doom was effectively sealed when it sided with the Central Powers during World War I, it had been in decline for more than a century. 

Continue reading

Me, my girls and the magic of Looney Tunes

My four girls – ages 11, 10, 10 and 8 – still stare agog at me when I explain to them that once there was a time, long, long ago, when cartoons were a once-a-week treat, the sole motivation needed to pop out of bed on a Saturday morning.

In today’s world where entire networks are devoted to animation and stations run cartoons 24 hours a days, seven days a week, 365 days a year, it’s difficult for my girls to imagine a time and place where kids’ programming occupied such a small part of the television week.

(They also are completely baffled by the idea of a 13-inch television that got exactly three, count ‘em three, channels, but that’s a different story.)

Yet for all the seemingly endless hours of kids’ programming available today, the vast majority of it pales in comparison to what was available during the days of Saturday morning-only cartoons.

This is not only my own rose-colored remembrance of the past, either. Judging from the way my daughters gather eagerly around me when I grab my computer and ask who wants to watch Bugs Bunny, I’d say they’re as enamored with Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies as I was when I was their age.

I introduced them to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Warner Bros. gang roughly two years, when, while perusing YouTube, I decided it was time to show them what real entertainment was all about.

Continue reading

Belfast seeks second bite from Titanic apple

The Titanic was a boon to the city of Belfast when it was constructed in the early years of the 20th century, as thousands of workers were employed in the construction on the White Star liner at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff’s Shipyard.

Today, 100 years after the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage, Belfast is hoping a new visitor attraction about the iconic ship will put the city that built it back on the tourist map.

The Northern Irish capital hopes the Titanic Belfast complex will entice holidaymakers to spend time – and, crucially, money – in the British province, according to Agence France-Presse.

Decades of sectarian violence lasting up through the late 1990s made Northern Ireland a no-go area for foreign visitors and hindered foreign investment. The city is hoping the attraction will give a much-needed boost to its tourism economy.

The 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking will occur later this week.

With its economy still in the doldrums, thanks in no small part to the Protestant-Catholic violence which rent the region for decades, Northern Ireland is once again looking to Titanic – just as it did a century ago.

Continue reading