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A look-back at two nautical songs by The Beatles

Of the many songs recorded by the English rock band The Beatles, only two had a nautical theme: Yellow Submarine and Octopus’ Garden. This fact is interesting and perhaps a bit odd. After all, the group had its beginnings in Liverpool, a maritime hub and port of registry of the Titanic. All four of its members — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — were born there. At any rate, the two songs are quite memorable. The melodies are charming; the lyrics, endearing.

19th-century words of wisdom for 21st-century seafarers

I had the good fortune recently of finding a book with the unassuming title ‘Proverbs’. Published in 1854, it was written by Rev. William Scott Downey, an American Baptist pastor before he became an Episcopelian. It is a slim volume of 110 pages or so, but it contains some nuggets of wisdom for today’s seafarers and other maritime folks. Here are 21 of Downey’s proverbs:

Five things most undervalued in the shipping world

People reveal their character as much by the things they value as by those that they don’t. The same applies to the shipping world. I have listed down five top things or persons which, in my view, have not received the importance or appreciation they deserve or have been neglected somehow by maritime folks, including journalists. On the other hand, there are certain things which are held very dear by those engaged in maritime business and commerce. I have listed those as well.

The perfect New Year resolutions for maritime players

“The object of a New Year,” wrote the English writer and philosopher G.K. Chesterton, “is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions.”

With that in mind, I have listed down some New Year resolutions which seem perfect for certain maritime individuals and organisations. Of course, they can be broken as quickly as they are made. But as the old saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s way.

The Wellerman song: Putting the lyrics in context

Knowing the historical and cultural context of a song can lead to a better appreciation of it. In the case of Soon May the Wellerman Come (The Wellerman, for short), it is in fact necessary . This whaling song which has gone viral (it is not a sea shanty) makes specific references to the whaling tradition of New Zealand and to whale hunting in general. To know the meaning of some of the words and phrases used is to understand what the song really tries to convey.

Great quotes about empathy (what shipping needs now)

One of the best definitons of empathy comes from the Psychology Today website: “Empathy is the ability to recognize, understand, and share the thoughts and feelings of another person, animal, or fictional character.”

Sounds simple enough. Yet, what can be regarded as one of the noblest of human traits is in short supply in the shipping world. One only has to look at the continued objectificaton and abuse of seafarers amidst — quite ironically — all the talk about their rights and welfare. The following quotes should remind us all about the value of empathy in the cold, mechanistic world of shipping.

Are you a narcissist? Self test for maritime & other folks

Everyone has a bit of the narcissist in himself or herself. Why else was the mirror invented? In a 1914 paper entitled ‘On Narcissism: An Introduction’, Sigmund Freud postulated that narcissism starts in infancy as part of the development of the ego and libido.

Some people outgrow this stage . Others don’t. They become obsessed with their self–image like Narcissus of Greek mythology, who fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring, pined away, and died to be transformed into a flower that bears his name.

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