Monday, January 23, 2012

Trying to Impress a Girl, Concordia Captain Kills 32 People at a Cost of Billions of Dollars

32 lives lost, a ship scrapped and enormous damage to the industry.  Whoops!  The shocking truth is  unbelievable, even as more facts have surfaced since my first posting this.

PR photo in a fake Capt. hat.
You heard it here first, the real story of what really happened aboard that led up to the disaster, actually and factually.  The single largest human disaster ever caused by one married man's desire for the company of a younger woman.

Nothing will change the facts.  At about 9:30 pm, Captain Francesco Schettino came up from dinner with a young woman and, despite having left his eyeglasses in his private cabin, ordered the ship to head closer to shore at high speed (16 knots) for a "sail by salute" while asking another officer to read the charts and radar for him.  He admits he was "navigating by sight", though he doesn't see the apparent irony that he was doing this without his prescription eyeglasses.  At 9:44 they all felt the impact and heard the alarms that the ship had run over a well-marked shoal of rocks and began the desperate task of trying to minimize the upcoming disaster.

What is clear from the girls' Feb. 27, 2012 interview with The Mail is that her account has been severely 'sanitized' by a lawyer who carefully analyzed all the hard evidence anyone had against her (her bags were found in the Captain's quarters, a passenger has a photo of what looks like Dominica time stamped at 8:30 pm, she was on the bridge from just before the collision till the abandon ship was declared).  She agreed to this single interview just days before the official inquiry began, coincidentally.

Dominica, 25, and the Captain, 52, a week prior to the sinking.
With the facts as we now know them, the cause of the Costa Concordia ($569 mn US to build) is fairly clear.  As of Mar. 6, 2012, 25 bodies have been found,  7 are still missing and there's a piece of rock the size of a truck buried in the hull with a 30 meter-long breach in the hull behind it.  Add in all the new holes blown/cut through the hull and it's unlikely that the ship can be put back into service.

This is what happened: during the last week of the previous cruise a 25 year old Moldavian woman, Dominica Cemortan, who had worked on a sister ship, the Magica, as a translator for 3 weeks, got a request to cover another translator's absence on the Concordia.  During that week, she clearly 'got to know' the Captain (see the details in her interview from Feb. 27), as many other crew members took note of and commented upon.
Capt's wife Fabiola Russo, 48

At the end of that one week stint, apparently "spontaneously," she decided to become a passenger for the next week, registering on the Friday morning as she was getting off work and getting back on board as a passenger at 5 pm.  (It's not clear how a ship employee who has only worked for Costa for 4 weeks and is a single mother from Moldavia might have the disposable income to afford such a trip, but she mysteriously got an employee's 50% discount she was not yet entitled to and boarded without an assigned cabin, which 'necessitated' her leaving her things in the Captain's cabin -- must be a crowded cabin with all the luggage from every vacationing crew member in there...)

The white and red to the coral's left are interior walls.
While we may never know what transpired between her boarding at 5 pm, putting her things in the Captain's cabin and getting dressed for dinner in his cabin at 8 pm, but we do know by her own account that after she finished changing they embraced and kissed passionately.  We also know that, after coming up to the bridge together, the Captain diverted the ship from it's normal route to 'grandstand' and bring it close to shore, something he'd done several months before successfully.  This time he was both without his prescription eyeglasses (revealed in the inquiry on Mar. 3, 2012) and apparently otherwise distracted during the 'designed to impress manoeuvre' and ordered turn away from well-mapped rocks too late, causing the momentum of the ship to swing the stern into them and break off an enormous piece of rock in the hull.  (The photo shows white and red painted interior walls of the ship that the collision exposed to the seawater.)

Without his glasses, the Captain had to repeatedly ask an officer to read the chart/radar for him.  What would make a 52 year old man, responsible for all those lives, decide to leave his glasses behind and not retrieve them?  A) Was there someone on the bridge he did not want to take leave of, even for a few minutes, during this 'grandstanding' manoeuvre; and B) he may well have not wanted to 'look like an old man' by having to wear glasses...

Dominica is a single mother with one child.
My cousin-in-law, a veteran sailor on ocean and great lakes vessels, says there's no way the officers on duty would allow the Captain to do something as foolhardy as turn the ship too close to well-marked rocks, but might the group of these men do so in the few minutes between the Captain and his companion arriving on the bridge just after 9:30, his order moments later to take the ship in closer to shore, and the collision at 9:44 IF the Captain's companion looked like and was 'dressed for dinner' like this?

It was a space of time of only a few minutes of distraction and boys will be boys, after all.

Dominica claims the Captain asked her to stay on the bridge to help do emergency announcements for the Russian speaking passengers, but that there were staff on duty who were being paid to do so.  She stayed until the ship drifted into more rocks at 10:50 pm and when at 10:58 the Coast Guard forced the Captain to finally declare an "abandon ship", she apparently went to the Captain's quarters alone, changed from evening dress into jeans and a sweater to evacuate.  She apparently did get into a lifeboat prior to the ship heeling over completely, as did the Captain, who was contacted by the Coast Guard at 12:38 am in a lifeboat from which he refused to return to his ship.  He was arrested at 3:17 am.  She claims she only saw him again after leaving the bridge at 5 am on shore.  The final 80 passengers were air-lifted off the ship after a helicopter was called in at about 4 am.
Click once to open, again to enlarge.
Once everyone was in the process of trying to abandon a ship that was so badly tilted that it was impossible to lower the heavy life rafts down the angled port side of the craft, the Captain claims he 'fell' into a lifeboat and could not get out to direct the evacuation efforts from aboard the cruise ship (the only place he could have 'fallen' off the ship was the bow where there are no life rafts, or off the starboard rail, a side everyone would have been avoiding as it was gradually submerging).  Note that he would have known, from the charts he'd looked at and from their proximity to shore, that there was no way the ship would completely sink, so there should have been no desperate panic on his part to save his own skin.  (He may have been fairly drunk at the time, however...)

What would cause this man, charged with such great responsibility, to be in such a rush to abandon his post and obligations to thousands to get in to a life raft and escape?  Who was actually in that raft with him?  A certain young blond woman, by any chance?  And why did he clearly lie to the Coast Guard Captain who berated him so soundly about returning to the ship?  He seemed determined to give the impression of being a hero AND stay with whoever he was alongside him at the time.  (The truth will come out eventually!)

His 'Disaster Companion' on TV Defending 'Her Captain"
In a mind-boggling twist, the girl went on TV, as a 'former crew member' of the Captain's who happened to had dinner with him, then was on the bridge when he smashed into the first rocks, AND while the ship was going down, to defend her captain for having handled the situation so well, and for "saving countless lives".  Now there's a credible voice!  Perhaps she isn't Moldovian, but from the Isle of Siren...

Further, on Jan. 24 the Captain's wife, 48 year old Fabiola Russo, told the media her hubby "is not a monster", saying: "My husband is at the centre of an unprecedented global media storm," Ms Rossi told Oggi, an Italian weekly magazine. "I cannot think of any other naval or air tragedy in which the responsible party was treated with such violence. This is a manhunt, people are looking for a scapegoat, a monster. It's shameful."  I'm pretty sure she hasn't done the research I did for this post, but her devoted husband is going to be long remembered for his choices on that fateful day!
One thing is abundantly clear from the facts at hand, if the Captain had not been trying to impress Dominica up on the bridge after dinner and had been wearing his glasses, it is unlikely this unprecedented disaster would have happened.  With some wine in his system and a hottie with her bags still down in his quarters, this man was not thinking responsibly.
Ah, passion, it makes us do crazy things, especially when it involves an older married man having a girl 27 years younger showing interest in him...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

'Accepting' face-veils: Is "No-Fault Assault" Going to be OK in Canada Next?

(Attribution link)
A thought on Canada's acceptance of the hijab (hair-covering scarf), niqab (hair and face-covering scarf) and burka (head to toe 'cloak').  It's really NOT about multi-culturalism and being broad-minded, its about the underlying principles of 'accepting' repressive and backward impositions into our accepting and progressive Canadian culture.   If it is OK to toss out centuries of carefully evolved Canadian freedoms for one group, where does it stop?  Polygamous marriage becomes OK?  Beating women isn't so bad?  Keeping a household slave is fine if that's what you're used to?  I had this to say on Maclean's Magazine's site in response to their recent article about the wearing of the face-veil in Canada:
Having lived and worked in the Middle East, I think the main point is that for Canada to accept the covering of one group of religious followers' faces means that our society is accepting the philosophy behind it, the notion that if a woman does not cover herself, her femininity, her attractive face, it is her fault if men 'want her' and cannot control themselves (not-the-man's-fault assault).  While some Muslim women do this because of their interpretation of the Koran, many do it because the men in their society label them as 'loose women' and 'bad Muslims' for not covering up.  That's a pretty powerful tool to fight against, being labelled a 'slut' and 'societal failure' everyday by everyone around you. 

The reality is that just a few decades ago (a generation who are in their 60's and 70's now) there was virtually no face covering going on.  Before oil made the entire nations in the Arab States wealthy enough to quit being nomadic camel herders, there was far too much work to be done to cover up all the time.  This is a new imposition from Imams who want to be known for making new and more stringent proclamations -- ever MORE conservative interpretations of the Koran.  Some years back in Saudi Arabia the commonplace baring of hands and feet suddenly became taboo and many women began wearing socks and gloves in the 50+ C degree heat. 
Note that there is NOTHING (not anywhere in the Koran) that states the colour of any of these 'modest article of clothing' be black.  Black was imposed upon women in Saudi because it discourages women from going out in the sunlight.  When the temperature goes up to 70 C in the sun, even weary black pants is a painful experience.  All the men wear white, very thin cotton garments that shelter them from the sun while being as cool as possible.  

Like the work that Catholic Bishops are doing behind the scenes to give themselves the semblance of power and an excuse to mingle with high rollers (see my last post here), when we go along with whatever some control-obesessed males have cooked up under the guise of religion just to be politically correct/sensitive, we are actually opening the door to much more radicalization. 

Many new Canadians, having come from totally repressed, censored countries, revel in their 'rights' once they become citizens here, to protest being offended by everything they come across -- it's like being a kid in a candy store, and they snicker at the way the rest of their fellow Canadians rush to apologize and acquiesce.  This 'multicultural melting pot' that P.E. Trudeau began has gone out of control, to the point where Canada is losing any clear heritage.  It's being whitewashed to avoid "offending" newcomers.

Net-net, this face-covering thing is (in most of the Arab world) a new imposition, not a consistent thing stretching back millenia.  For Canada to roll over on it would be a violation of our core values, that men and women are equal.  Wear what you like, shave your head, never cut your sideburns, but when it comes to hiding your identity, you should be required to expose yourself to ANY person who asks you to do so, everywhere in our free country, just as any man walking into a bank or courthouse wearing a ski mask would be asked to do.
The real issue, when we are talking about 'fundamentalism' in ANY religion, Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, Judaism or Islam, is that, while 'sticking to the strict rule book' is immensely pleasurable and reassuring for many obsessive-compulsive, change-averse types, the rules and regulations written into these books were relevant thousands of years ago.  The message of 'doing the right thing' versus doing whatever we selfishly would prefer to do has eternal relevance, but the majority of people in every society use religion as a 'guideline' for their lives/behaviour, they don't see it in 'absolutes' and over time open-mindedness has begun to take over.  There will always be individual men with psychopathic tendencies who will try to hijack ancient religious writings as an excuse for doing things they really enjoy doing, like tossing acid in the faces of women, raping them, or controlling them in other ways, but the majority of people 'get' that these ancient historical documents have lost their relevance and they no longer abide by them word-for-word.

It's time for modern societies like Canada to stop 'tip-toeing' around recent immigrants' demands to never change and refuse to assimilate.  It's time to say "These are the modern, open-minded, fair and egalitarian rules of Canadian society, your new country's morals/ethics that are the foundation of providing you and your family with a better life and more freedom.  Sorry, but if you are so keen on not changing, on not accepting Canada's view of humanity, then return home and stay there, and if I visit your country, I promise not to break your country's codes of conduct and respect your traditions."

Just because the Koran happened to be written at a time when it was common to keep slaves (interesting that you don't hear about Muslims using all the mentions of slaves in the Koran as justification for enslaving people -- although there are literally tens of thousands of household slaves in the Middle East today within those impenetrable walled family compounds) doesn't mean that today it is OK for slavery to be enshrined in Islamic countries' constitutions.  The issue of repression of women is identical.  It was commonplace and accepted as a part of life 2,000 years ago, it no longer is.

That is what the hijab is all about: the world's largest religion saying that, because this book, the central tenant of our religion, was written at a time that it was OK to enslave people and for men to blame women for stirring up males' sexual desires, we have to stick to it word-for-word thousands of years later.  Not cool.  Our species has evolved socially, we've learned many new things, humans of every stripe have to live differently together today than we did thousands of years ago.  The sheer volume of humans on the planet now necessitates it.  You can still embrace the core message of Islam without adhering to ancient prejudices, and the veil is an extremely public display of the idea that if women do not cover up their attractive bits, it's their own fault if they get sexually attacked.

At it's core, the male-initiated pressure for some Muslim societies to use collective shame as a tool to subjugate women.  The face veil is not a "curtain", as some supporters euphemistically characterize it, it's purely and simply a public poster that says: "I've given in to the males in my family and culture who choose to blame women for their aggressive sexual tendencies."  It also says: "We new Canadians do NOT trust Canadian laws, police and judicial system to keep us safe and grant us the same freedoms as women from other cultures.  Covering my face is a symbol of my family and culture's ongoing support for our 'old country's' moral values and laws that put women in jail if they 'allow themselves' to be raped, then force them to marry the rapist."

This is Canada in the 21st century.  It's not your fault you're beautiful, it is mine if I decide to attack you.  Cover your hair if you like the religious symbolism, but you don't have to fear being attacked or ostracized for having the freedom from male repression to be seen for who you are in this country.  You are not a slut for not veiling your face, you're a modern Canadian citizen, be proud of that.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Men Rule! Women Get the Short End of the Stick...

You gotta love the male mind.  Since the dawn of hominid existence there was a group of men sitting around the campfire after having failed, yet again, to bring home an antelope carcass, digesting the meal of vegetables and fruit that the womenfolk gathered and cooked, making shit up.  With nothing much to do, they came up with stories to explain stuff they didn't understand and, as they really enjoyed sex and wanted more of it from the womenfolk, much of the time the point of the stories was to control the women in their tribe or any women they came across.

ALL of religion, the dogma, the stories, the rituals, the rules, came from the minds of men.  The women were too busy to come up with these stories, although they probably had a big influence on injecting morals and ethics into the stories during the re-telling!  Catholicism is entirely and completely a system of rules, regulations and privileges that revolve around making a bunch of men all-powerful.  Catholic popes had multiple wives back in the day!

Islam is all about men exercising absolute control over women (although most of the 'covering-up' and 'can't go out' rules are interpretations of vague words in the Koran that were only invented in the past few decades since oil made people in the middle east wealthy enough to stop having to be nomadic).  The beauty of modern interpretations of the Koran is that much of it is about how it is the womens fault that men are attracted to them.

As is the case with politics when voters lose control of the politicians once they are elected, once religious leaders are in power, they live in a world of their own invention, dealing only with each other, creating and executing machinations that please themselves no end, making them feel important and giving them justifications to spend money on expensive dinners and plane flights to influence other powerful men, like in this case:

And since most of the people who bother to go through the ridiculous efforts that are necessary to get elected are men, women continue to get the short end of the stick since they don't protest, they aren't involved in the machinations!  Great set-up for all theses guys!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Limit "Relaxing" Time to 23 1/2 Hours a Day

Pretty simple, easy way to longer life and MUCH better quality of life:

Yeah, I've gone on about the single biggest health issue our human species faces today before (100% created by "the free market economy" and human nature), but there is a very simple solution: limit your 'relaxing' time to 23.5 hours a day.

And if you're serious about staying fit, here's my take on how to keep your workout time and effort down to a reasonable level: "How to Workout for the Rest of Your LONGER Life! (link)"


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