Titanic Links

I’m sure the Internet has mercilessly pounded this information into your skull the last week or so, but yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Here are a few articles and radio stories that have popped up:

  • The New York Times article “Experts Split on Possibility of Remains at Titanic Site" examines the open question, Are there any bodies in there?: “‘I would not be surprised if highly preserved bodies were found in the engine room,’ [Robert Ballard, one of the discoverers of the Titanic wreck] said. ‘That was deep inside the ship.’ Asked how many bodies the broken hull of the Titanic might hold, Dr. Ballard replied: ‘Dozens. Hundreds starts to feel uncomfortable. I know that lots landed on the bottom, because there are so many shoes.’”
  • Which leads me to this nice little piece by Robert Krulwich: “The Strange Persistence of Shoes at Sea.”
  • Remembering the Titanic’s Intrepid Bandleader" (NPR) profiles the dapper Wallace Hartley, leader of the doomed eight-member band that continued to play as the ship sank.
  • Why Didn’t Passengers Panic on the Titanic?" (from NPR’s Planet Money crew) looks at how the length of time it took the ship to sink resulted in the preservation of social norms: "Given time, societal conventions can trump our natural self-interest. A hundred years ago, women and children always went first. Men were stoic. On the Titanic, there was enough time for these norms to assert themselves."
  • Remembering Titanic: Where the Passengers Are Buried,” on the Times' City Room blog features the following two sentences: “Ms. Olsen said that for many people whose friends died on the Titanic, the grief was lasting. Across from the Straus mausoleum is a monument built by an heiress to a laxative fortune.”

Today’s Links

Here you go. The first one is really important:

  • Morbid Anatomy Library needs your help after severe water sprinkler damage following a fire in their Brooklyn building. They are accepting donations of money, time, talent, books, and artifacts.
  • Titanic vs. Lusitania: Who Survived and Why?”: Smithsonian takes a look at the two maritime disasters (from 1912 and 1915, respectively). Interesting: “The passengers of the Lusitania had less than 20 minutes before their ship sank, and in such a life-and-death situation, social scientists say, ‘self-interested reactions predominate.’ It didn’t matter what the captain ordered. […] The Titanic, though, sank slowly enough for social norms to hold sway.”
  • This is very sad: “Taiwan Woman Commits Suicide While on Facebook" (via Order of the Good Death on, well, Facebook): “Lin’s last Facebook entries show her chatting with nine friends, alerting them to her gradual asphyxiation. One picture uploaded from her mobile phone depicts a charcoal barbecue burning next to two stuffed animals.”
  • Related: “On the Challenges of Studying Suicide" (via Maria Popova/Brain Picker on Twitter)
  • Fascinating post over on Life and Six Months about handling the preserved, tattooed skin of a long-dead person: “What appears here as ‘goose-flesh’—a skin sensation associated with both surface feelings of cold and visceral fear or horror —is frozen in the moment of death through the speedy preservation of the excised fragment. What I am actually seeing and feeling as I examine this skin is the presence of a very familiar living skin-sensation—except in this case it is caused by rigor mortis of the arrector pili muscles in the dermis. My own skin prickles at the thought. This specimen was likely removed in haste, soon after death and under rudimentary surgical conditions.”

Today’s Links

Thought I’d start doing link-roundup posts somewhere on the spectrum between occasional and frequent. This is the kind of stuff I already post on Facebook and Twitter, so if you like this sort of thing, consider liking and/or following me over theres.

Here you go:

  • Summer was the most dangerous time for Tudors (BBC News): Fun ways to die in Tudor England! Best sentence: “Dr Gunn’s previous study highlighted a number of strange ways that people died, in accidents involving archery, dancing bears and early handguns.”
  • Police plea on macabre book find (BBC News): A 300-year-old ledger bound in human skin, found in the middle of a road in Leeds. “In the 18th and 19th Centuries it was common to bind accounts of murder trials in the killer’s skin —known as anthropodermic bibliopegy.”
  • NPR did a story on what can happen to our Facebook and Flickr accounts when we go to the Big Cloud in the Sky.
  • If you aren’t already following Caitlin Doughty on Twitter or Facebook, you should be.
The Chirurgeon's Apprentice: The Body-Snatchers Unearthed

Remember my recent posts about the rise of body-snatching in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the preventative measures folks took to protect their dead?

The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice has given the subject a much more detailed (and well-researched) treatment over on her site.

From what little records exist, we know that body-snatchers required some level of moonlight in order to conduct their work in cemeteries, although not all bodies were obtained through exhumation. The clothes and burial shroud were sometimes removed, for stealing a body on its own was not considered theft since it had no value as property.

Read the whole article.


So, I’m clearly feeling like sitting around in my jammies this weekend and not burning calories: I’ve made some updates to the site. Made things more personal, perhaps.

New category:

Personal Details & Opinions

And two new pages:

About Me, About This
Sites I Love 

The “Sites I Love” page I’ve been meaning to add for forever. For folks who are looking for similar (and dissimilar) sites to explore. Enjoy!

Skeletons, mummies, bog bodies, exhumations. The dead, and what happens to them.

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