A tale of contrasts and similarities

Ed Raymond

Maybe Some Day Orcas Will Be Able to Tell Us Why They Attacked Our Boats  

In the first two weeks of June, each of the continents of America and Europe had maritime disasters in deep seas, one at 12,500 feet in the Atlantic Ocean and the other at 17,000 feet in the Mediterranean Sea. A submersible on a sight-seeing trip filled with one captain and two billionaire fathers and sons imploded near the wreck of the Titanic, an “unsinkable” ship carrying billionaires, other wealthy passengers, and a few representatives of English poor that hit an iceberg in 1912 and sunk, carrying 1.500 to a cold death out of the 2,200 aboard.

About 700 “women and children first” passengers were saved in lifeboats along with a few men with large check books who “bought” seats.   In the second week of June, a rusty old 80-foot fishing trawler name Adriana, capsized   and sank near a Greece Coast Guard ship after traveling nearly 500 miles from Libya with poor refugees from Pakistan, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries in an attempt to get to Italy. From Italy, they would have relatively easy access to Great Britain, France, Germany and other countries. Photographs from drones proved that every inch was filled with men, women and children, many without life jackets, who had paid $4,000 to $9,000 for a spot on the smuggler’s ship. Spots on the upper deck cost the most. Only 104 survived the 2 pm sinking and only 82 bodies have floated to shore. Most of the 750 left, with at least 40 children, are still in the ship which rests at 17,000 feet.  

These two incidents reveal a lot about Homo sapiens in the 50 states of the Divided States of America (DSA) and the divided 27 countries in the European Union (EU). The powers on both continents have similar problems. The 336 million people in the DSA have millions of   refugees on its borders trying to get in to better their lives. In just the last decade 108 million have been forced to leave home and 27 million are refugees living in various camps around the world. Most of the millions on DSA borders come from Latin and South American countries. In just one example, four million Venezuelans have left their country in just five years. The 447 million people living in the European Union are facing millions of people from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia crossing borders of EU countries.  

There Are Some Erie Similarities Connecting Titanic, Adriana and Titan      

The “unsinkable” Titanic carrying 1,500 of the original 2,200 slipped beneath the waves on April 15, 1912, at 2;30 am after hitting the iceberg the night of April 14. The old rust bucket fishing trawler Adriana carrying 750 refugees, many without life preservers, capsized at 2;30 am on June 14, 2023, carrying more than 500 of the original 750 to the deepest part of the Mediterranean. If the U.S. Navy’s acoustical record is correct, the uncertified submersible Titan may have suffered a catastrophic implosion at about the same time the Adriana capsized when too many people rushed to port or starboard. We may know soon. The whole disaster was observed by the crew of a Greek Coast Guard ship patrolling the area. The stories are just developing.  

The entire world was held spellbound by the press as it covered the story of the submersible for five days as the oxygen for four billionaires and the Play Station player gradually reduced to none over four days. That oxygen may have been destroyed in a second as the carbon fiber walls disintegrated. As soon as the four billionaires on the Titan were known to be in trouble, authorities from the U.S., Canada, and at least five other nations rushed ships and rescue equipment to the scene. The sinking of the Adriana seemed to have brought a huge “ho-hum.” A Greek Coast Guard ship had escorted the fishing trawler for hours, but did nothing when the Adriana started to sink. Although international law covers assistance at sea is required in certain situations, Greek authorities argued that the leaders aboard ship kept insisting they wanted to go forward to Italy .Greece probably violated the international laws of the seas.    

Meanwhile, experts in the submarine and submersible fields were not at all surprised by the failure of the Titan. Will Kohmen, the chairman of the Manned Underwater Vehicles Committee and also of the Marine Technology Society’s Submarine committee had written the following in a letter obtained by The New York Times  to OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush—the pilot of the missing Titan—long before the “accident”: “Our apprehension is that the current experimental approach adopted by OceanGate could result in negative outcomes (from minor to catastrophic) that would have serious consequences for everyone in the industry. Most of the companies that are building submersibles follow a well-established framework of certification and verification and oversight through classification societies. And that was at the root of OceanGate’s project, going without that type of official oversight. We have submarines all over the world diving 12,000 to 20,000 feet every day of the year for research. We know very well how to design these machines and how to operate them safely.” Another fact: OceanGate fired an engineer who said the viewport was certified for only 1,300 meters when the Titanic was at 4,000 meters. Maybe the viewport can be recovered—or pieces of it. The Titan had made two trips to the Titanic in 2021 but had problems each time with batteries and parts. In another try it only went down 37 feet before the trip was halted!  

There Are Also Some Real Contrasts in the Deep Dark Depths    

In the DSA the Top One percent holds as much wealth as the bottom 90%--in the country that leads the world in economic inequality. In the EU certainly English billionaires put England on top in economic inequality. Germany is near the top. In the depths of the Atlantic the rich from the Titan will be at rest near the wealthy of the Titanic. In the depths of the Mediterranean the 500+ poor from the Adriana will rest close to the thousands of poor from Africa and Asia who have died using small boats to reach Europe. The smugglers collected between $4 million and $7 million from the 750 poor who borrowed from poor parents and poor friends who will never be paid back.  

So, should anyone ask why the international press spent 99% of its words and TV time covering the problem of four billionaires who paid $250,000 each for a seat in the submersible Titan instead of recording the history of the 750 poor in the rusty fishing trawler Adriana?  

Most of our animals kill only when they are hungry and wound only when enthusiastic about mating. The week of having corporate reporters and pundits constantly falling off the balance beam or shooting air balls got to be boring. We now know what whale mothers are telling their calves—somewhat. Orca pods have been acting schizophrenic lately, attacking the rudders of smaller yachts in the open seas until they lose steerage. Are they trying to tell us something? Pods have attacked dozens of boats off Spain and Portugal, sinking three, and damaging the rudders on several. It seems the young attack the rudders while the adults try to ram hulls. A Portuguese biologist reported the calves seem to be acting under the direction of pod leaders. Maybe they are telling us to “Get the hell out of our ocean!”  

When Was America Great? Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

Forum columnist Bette Grande writes in her latest that “an honest look at our country today shows very little left worthy of considering. We can restore this country to greatness and restore our God-given rights and freedoms but it is going to take a new approach.”

I was immediately looking for Bette’s list of when the Divided States of America was great so I would know what changes she thought needed to be made- but she didn’t list any centuries. decades, periods, historical events, innovative years, etc that would give us even an inkling where or when she wanted to go. What is her “new approach” to the “great” old times? Were we great in the first half of the 19th century when Jackson, Mississippi had more millionaires than our “financial” capitol New York City because of the cost of cotton and the prolific sale of Black slave babies? In fact, some plantation owners made more money selling slave babies than they did selling cotton! Birth factories needed fewer slaves. Were we great during the Gilded Age when we created a lot of billionaire families while Jim Crow laws prevented the teaching of the alphabet to Blacks? Were we great in the 20th Century when thousands of white guys in whiter hoods and sheets marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.? Were we a great country when we brought Chinese workers here to finish the transcontinental railroad at starvation wages? Were we great at the Battle of the Little Bighorn where we were committing genocide? For some reason, Bette did not identify any “great” periods.   Although all races started to come out of Central Africa about 65,000 years ago, the United States by 2022 with 336 million people had the following racial breakdown by Census: White-57.7%, Hispanic-18.5%, Black 12.2%, Indian and Alaskan-2.4%, Jews-2.4%, and Asians-2.2%. The LBGTQ+ community is currently ranked about 7% of all of the above—or about 23.5 million. About one percent are transgenders—or 3.3 million. Many of 8 million Jews have been the victims of attacks lately.  

The Land of Oz is Right Next to Trumpistan on the Next Off-Ramp Fork    

Perhaps Bette could have used Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s expressions about the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and worship and freedom from want and fear to point out exactly when were great in the past. In order to restore greatness to the Divided States of America she has to identify a time when all of the above lived and enjoyed the blessings of the four freedoms. If our LBGTQ+ community has ever experienced the DSA being great, shouldn’t the period be easy to identify? Why are Republican legislatures and Congress trying to pass 500 bills controlling transgender lives from birth to death?  

Bette, if you’re looking for Trumpistan again, take the off-ramp fork in the road because it is right next to the Land of Oz. The Land of Oz has four counties: Gillikin, Quadling, Winkie, and Munchkin and they have excellent leaders, but Oz is ruled by a strict monarch named Princess Ozma from the capital called Emerald City. The city is on a hill and shines some of the time. Perhaps Trumpistan and Oz are both ruled well with God-given rights and freedom as you say. But remember, God has also given us cisgenders, transgenders, gays, lesbians, asexuals, queers, dozens of other genders, and sometimes surprises us with the gift of intersex who are born with both sets of genitalia—after checking us out in the womb.