18 August 2015

#10 Flotsam and Jetsam

There is actually a distinction in maritime law between flotsam and jetsam, the former being what is found from a wrecked ship and the latter being what the people on the ship might have chosen to throw overboard. Jetsam, I believe, is more subject to acquisition by scavengers, at least in the eyes of the law. (Someone will surely correct me if I have that wrong.) I'm going to focus here on some flotsam, although I don't really know if it is still considered flotsam if it sinks...

The Franklin expedition. A couple of British ships looking for he Northwest Passage, caught in the ice and eventually destroyed by it, no survivors. The other description of it would be that it was an obsession of the Prime Minister's, finding the remains of the ships on the floor of the ocean in Canada's north.

He could have listened to the stories (oral history, it is called) from the Inuit elders who pointed to where the ship was last seen by the Inuit of the time. No, why start listening to Canada's original peoples now? We'll send scientists to look elsewhere and we'll spend twice as much as we said we were going to spend doing that, only to eventually “discover” them right where the Inuit oral history said they would be.

But don't stop there! When the scientists find the last missing ship, it should obviously be  the Prime Minister making the announcement, right? That's not how scientific discovery usually works, but this time, yes. And the spending wasn't over: three times as much as it cost to find the ships (the real cost, not the low-ball official estimate) would need to be spent on flogging the discovery and the story of this pre-Canada event, “vital” to Canadian history. We're talking about well over $7 million for the ads alone. That would be the jetsam, I guess.

But this government has always been better about advertising its “accomplishments” than it has been actually accomplishing anything.

Further reading here

Vaunted history
dead “conquerors” in the north
Worth our ten million?

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