Thursday, November 21, 2019

Lusting for Internet Access

I’m involved with the maritime industry and learned of a recent case of a ship grounding caused by something remarkable. The officer on watch steered the ship near the Swedish coast so the crew could get better phone signals. Yes, a ship gets grounded, leaks oil, and is completely scrapped because of a desire for better coverage.

The lust for internet access and a small antenna caused a ship to be destroyed. This is in 2019 and in Sweden. The lessons are obvious and it reminds me of the African fable about the mouse that took refuge in an elephant’s trunk causing the elephant to finally die of thirst and hunger.

The elephant had destroyed the mouse’s nest several times so the mouse studied the elephant and learned how dependent he was on his trunk. When the elephant fell asleep, the mouse crawled into the elephant’s trunk. The elephant could not dislodge the mouse from his trunk and the elephant finally succumbed to thirst and hunger.

To be fair, alcohol and inattentiveness contributed to the grounding…

The Nautical Institute noted this was “a perfect storm of how not to run a ship.”

This is a summary of the incident from the Nautical Institute, the official report is SHK RS2019:04e

Navigation close to the coast naturally demands the OOW's utmost attention. Fatigue, distractions and of course alcohol or drugs are all enemies to safe navigation, yet still we hear of ships, crews and the environment being put at risk because basic rules have been ignored.

Early one morning, the OOW of a car carrier altered course to port to follow the coast so crew could obtain a better phone signal. He failed to update the vessel's voyage plan and then returned to his administrative work, merely glancing at the ECDIS occasionally. The lookout was also busy with other tasks, the bridge navigation watch alarm system (BNWAS) had been turned off and the S-VDR was not working.

Eventually – and perhaps inevitably – the ship grounded, resulting in an oil spill. When refloated it proved to be so severely damaged that it was declared a total constructive loss and fit only for recycling.

Subsequent investigation showed that the OOW had drunk alcohol before taking over the watch and was intoxicated. Both he and the lookout were distracted by other tasks, and the switched-off BNWAS was unable to perform its 'safety net' function.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Leonardo vs Picasso

I like the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and Pablo Picasso. They both contributed extraordinarily to art and culture. They both knew they were very good. However, Leonardo only has a little over a dozen paintings in existence. Picasso produced 1,800 paintings, not to mention 12,000 drawings, and thousands of sculptures and ceramics. Yes, many of Leonardo’s works have disappeared, and he made many beautiful drawings, but still his volume of work pales before Picasso.

Is it better to produce a few outstanding works or copious art with outstanding pieces in the mix? Maybe it is silly to compare these two artists but they are on my mind. They both had admirable accomplishments yet followed different trajectories and vastly different bodies of work.

Leonardo showed great patience, from making his own paints to moving between cities (and countries!) to find funding. Picasso made quick sketches to pay for his lunch. Leonardo performed for his patrons, Picasso for himself and his consumers. Leonardo was subtle, Picasso was in your face.

Leonardo’s skill was like Albrecht Durer (look at the fur in “Lady with an Ermine”) and his compositions and painting techniques were innovative even as he worked under many constraints. Picasso was as free as the wind and he broke rules that got in his way.

So, who do I like better? Leonardo gets my vote. He was interdisciplinary and applied his intellect, talent, and curiosity in many areas. He was not enslaved to art. While he was pompous in his dress (unlike his young competitor Michelangelo), he was more of a working-class guy trying to elbow his way upward. That is a pursuit I can identify with. Plus, he was an inventor, which is something else I can identify with.

I would rather have a few works that are excellent and demonstrate curiosity and wonder rather than just raw creative fire. Actually, I want both, but there is little raw creative fire in a void, it is fueled by the invisible insights of others. These insights rise in a crescendo of events until all the collective actions of others erupt with a heroic work and a celebrated name. We love to attribute things to individuals; however, there are no solitary geniuses.

Appreciating Leonardo’s work involves working with harmonic armatures and dissecting allegories. Picasso requires lengthy contemplation and reconstruction. I would rather have a (good) Picasso over my couch, assuming it matches my couch, but I more greatly admire Leonardo.