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Thoughts on narcissism amongst maritime folks

Narcissism seems to be getting out of hand even in the staid world of shipping. Just visit LinkedIn, the professional networking website. The place is brimming with what one might describe as corporate selfies. A lecture delivered, a commendation received, an article published — it’s all a great opportunity for martiime folks, both the prominent and the obscure, to post pictures and sometimes videos of themselves.

Does the rest of the world give a hoot? Most probably not, but the posters think they have accomplished something important that has to be trumpeted.

Tugboats at work in awesome old photographs

Men who are obsessed with manliness can learn a lesson from tugboats. These mean little machines are capable of pulling ships and barges that are many times their size. They can navigate through narrow canals and shallow waters. Their power and adroitness more than make up for their relative lack of bulk. The best tugboat, however, is a wimp on the water without an experienced skipper at the helm. It all boils down to how one uses the power available.

Where are you in the maritime food chain?

I first learned about the food chain in grade school. What fascinated me then wasn’t so much the fact that the species at the top of the link fed on those below them. It was the idea of interconnectivity and interdependence in the natural world. Many years later, as a shipping and ports journalist, I would discover a more fascinating kind of food chain, one which continues to intrigue me to this day.

10 maritime New Year wishes that were never fulfilled

It has been my custom to publish a list of maritime wishes for the New Year. The following are 10 such wishes I had made in previous years. All remain unfulfilled. They lie like dead seashells on the shore, which hardly surprises me. Old habits die hard, as the saying goes, and many in the maritime world are creatures of habit. Be that as it may, I still believe in dreams and wishes. A happy and peaceful 2021 to all of Marine Café Blog’s readers and supporters.

Waterfront photos from the distant past that will captivate you

Why anyone would want to linger inside a mall mystifies me. Malls are cold and boring, even dispiriting. There is more life, more energy on the piers and wharves as the following old photographs show. Time has taken its toll on some of these pictures. Yet each one still speaks volumes about the vibrancy of commerce on the waterfront and the sedulous stevedores who keep the cargoes moving.

COVID-19 and the failings of global maritime treaties

The COVID-19 pandemic has stirred chaos in the shipping world the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Thousands of seafarers stranded at sea; cruise ships with infected passengers shooed away from ports; and everywhere, frantic calls to do something about the situation. It all brings to mind a line from William Butler Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

The maritime upside of the coronavirus pandemic

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine — and shadows will fall behind you,” according to an old saying. The coronavirus may have cast a long shadow, and the crisis may be far from over. But for those who look at the brighter side, there is an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic even for the hard-hit shipping sector.

Five maritime truths the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted

There is plenty to learn from the coronavirus pandemic beyond its medical aspect. How individuals and nations have been responding to the crisis speaks volumes about 21st century politics, the global economic order and human nature in general. In the shipping world, COVID-19 has highlighted some basic truths which many have probably taken granted.

7 maritime headlines that will grab your attention

“To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and those who edit and read it are old women over their tea.” Thus wrote Henry David Thoreau with unconcealed disdain for the press. The truth, however, is that most people are hungry for news and will gobble it up even if it is gossip disguised as news. Maritime professionals are no exception. The following are some headlines that should make them sit up and take notice: