Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rain On Arrakis

1.57" storm total for Ahwatukee! Not bad for Arrakis!

Nevertheless, the terror continues. Conditions for rain will deteriorate, despite the presence of the trough in the West. It's important to lay down even more rain while we can, because as spring approaches, the jet stream will move north, and Cruel Empress April (typically the driest month of the year) will reign. The rainy season is nearly over, two days after it finally arrived.

Sounds like a made-for-TV kind of experience:
A motorist drove for 60 miles at speeds of 135 mph after the accelerator on his BMW car jammed and his brakes failed.

... "I was in tears most of the time on the phone to the police - I really could see myself dying," he told the BBC.

... "I hit the brakes. They were braking ok, they were keeping me at about 70 mph.

... Mr Nicolle said: "Then the brakes started burning out - I could see smoke coming from the brakes."
Jon Zellhoefer, Candidate

Jon Zellhoefer (R), former CA Recall 2003 gubernatorial candidate, announces that he is going to run for State Assembly District 34.

The best of good fortune, Jon!
Welcome News From Arizona

Deborah writes:
4 AM I woke to the sound of drumming on our skylight--RAIN!!!!!! GLORIOUS RAIN!!!

And it's still going, going, gloriously on. Big sigh of relief from all the saguaros on the hillsides--you can hear it soughing down through their needles. Wonderful relief.

Did I mention--rain!?!!!!!!!
The National Weather Service reports:

OLDEST >>>>>>>>>>> NEWEST


MAHA3 AHWATUKEE 0.00 0.00 0.24 0.59 0.83
And not a minute too soon! Thank goodness it's a substantial rain - the desert will soak it up like a sponge. I was alarmed at the news stories about how badly damaged the desert wildlife has been by the severe drought. Now, it's necessary to follow it up with more-regular rain, so the desert can recover.

Today, in Sacramento, it's nice and pleasant!

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Caption from MSNBC: This 1939 photo shows Frederic Franklin, center background, George Zoritch, center, and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in their production of "Rouge et Noir," which was choreographed by Leonide Massine. The production's sets and costumes were designed by Henri Matisse.
"Titanic" - Act II

More pictures from Sunday's show!

Left: "To the Lifeboats."

"Wake Up, Wake Up!" The youth of the third class lends a strikingly-modern look to the 'huddled masses' searching (unfortunately, in this case, in vain) for a better life in America. Left to right, Jim Farrell (Andy Hyun), Kate McGowan (Caitlin Kiley), Kate Mullins (Laura Stahl), Kate Murphy (Julia Spangler), Third-Class Purser (Scott Griffith).

"The Blame." Ismay (Ben Bruening), Tom Andrews (Michael McElroy), Capt. E.J. Smith (Richard Spierto), Bride (Robert Coverdell).

"To The Lifeboats" Barrett (Steven Ross), left, sings one last lament.

Finally comprehending the ship's weaknesses, Tom Andrews (Michael McElroy), the Chief Builder of the Titanic, goes raging, alone, into that dark night.
"Titanic" Pictures - Act I

On Sunday, March 5th, Steve borrowed my digital camera and took some pictures from the light booth of the musical in progress. Because of the low light and resulting slow shutter speed, about 80% of the pictures are quite blurred, but others are quite nice. Here are some pictures from Act I.

Above: On the bridge of the Titanic. Capt. E. J. Smith (Richard Spierto), Second Officer Charles Lightoller (Jabriel Shelton), and First Officer William Murdoch (Chris Neff).

"Doing The Latest Rag." Foreground left, Mr. Hitchens (Alex Powell); foreground right, Mr. Boxhall (Andrew Lemons); center, Mr. Hartley (Brian McCann, who also plays Mr. Etches).
"Doing The Latest Rag." Foreground, Mr. Boxhall (Andrew Lemons). First-class dancing couples: Upper left, Jabriel Shelton and Bethany Pederson; Upper Right, Dannette Vassar and Amber Lidskin. Disrupted first-class couple, Bridget Maguire and Chris Neff. Disrupting second-class passenger, Alice Beane (the inimitable Lauren Miller).
Discussing hypothetical family situations: Kate McGowan (Caitlin Kiley) and Jim Farrell (Andy Hyun).
Panoramic shot of the stage, just before "Autumn."

The First-Class Smoking Lounge. Center, Charlotte Cardoza (Mary Young). Left to right, in background: Mr. Etches (Brian McCann), Thayer (Hal Wright), Guggenheim (Rich Kulmann), Widener (Steve Lemons), The Colonel (Joshua Smith), Mr. Rogers, aka Jay Yates (J.P. Villa), and John Jacob Astor (Jon Beaver).

"No Moon, No Wind II." I don't see any ice - do you?
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

Charming appeal, sent by E-Mail, from DMTC:
Munchkins needed for Wizard of OZ
Enceladus Surprise

NASA announced today that Saturn's moon, Enceladus, has geysers of liquid water spouting into space. This is very strange. It is SO cold on that little moon that such a hypothesis seems far-fetched. To make something like that work, you'd need a source of substantial heat, plus well-insulated channels through the icy crust, to the surface. But maybe it happens!

The solar system is a strange, strange place.....
Ruptured DISC

I'm distressed hearing about these problems at Davis Indoor Sports Center (DISC). They are right across the street from DMTC, and I've always thought an excellent dynamic could be created between the sports-happy teens at DISC, and the theater-happy teens at DMTC.

Support DISC!
This Guy Needs Meds

The chief of neurosurgery at Highland Hospital was wrestled to an operating room floor by deputies and arrested after allegedly throwing a drunken fit when a nurse refused to let him operate, authorities said.

... He "threw a fit" and began yelling and cursing at staff when they told him equipment for the procedure needed to be transferred from another hospital, according to the report. When the surgical instruments arrived, a nurse refused to allow Castro-Moure to operate until they could be sterilized.

Castro-Moure threatened the nurse by punching his fist in his hand. He took a swing at deputies after they were called to intervene.

"Do you know that I am a (expletive) doctor, and I'm going to do what I want," he said, according to a witness.
"Ballets Russes" Comes To Sacramento!

Left: Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, at the Opera Cinema in San Francisco, last December. Interestingly enough, according to SN&R, Goldfine was once Miss Teenage Sacramento, 1976. Let's give her a big welcome back!

"Ballets Russes," March 10 - 16, at the Crest Theater! A must see!

There have been several wonderful local preview articles in the local press. There was one in the Sacramento Bee recently, and, in the current issue of Sacramento News and Review, there is another. All of the previews have described the ballet documentary in glowing terms, even going so far as calling it a sleeper hit.

The SN&R article also makes an important announcement: Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, the filmmakers, who live in San Francisco, will be available for questions at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday. Last December, when I saw the documentary in San Francisco, I was startled when both of them appeared for the showing. Their presence lends an entirely-new dimension to the cinematic experience, because you can get some of the backstory of the filmmaking process, firsthand, as well.

By all means, put this on your schedule. I will try to make the 5 p.m. question session (I have 'Titanic' performance later Friday evening, so this will be my only shot to pose stumpers.) Then, all next week, I will drag ALL my friends and acquaintances, dancers or not, to see the show. Then, I will go into the Pyramid Alehouse on K Street, and offer free drinks, but only to those who will come see the show!

See George Zoritch in his prime: the man prima ballerina Maria Tallchief described as "the best-looking man I ever saw in my life!"
"Dr. Who" Set Design

The Wikipedia essay on the TARDIS, Dr. Who's time machine, meant to look like an outmoded British police box.
Where The Law Stands

California courts have now weighed in on a matter that comes up, oh, every now and then:
A three-judge appeals panel said in a 20-page opinion that relieving oneself in public does not qualify as a littering crime under state law but does qualify as a crime of committing a public nuisance.

The court said public urination fit the definition of a public nuisance, described in state law as an act that is injurious to health, indecent or offensive to the senses and that interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.

Justice Anthony Kline wrote, "There can be little doubt that urination on or near a busy commercial street interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of both life and property."

Kline continued, "The sight and smell of urine are vile and offensive, and those who use the public streets and sidewalks cannot be freely subjected to such unpleasantness."

The ruling applies to acts in public places such as the vicinity of a busy street.

The court noted that "there might well be circumstances in which a single, discreet act of public urination would not violate" the public nuisance law.

Kline wrote, "Thus, for example, a hiker responding to an irrepressible call of nature in an isolated area in the backwoods cannot reasonably be seen as interfering with any right common to the public."

Left: Michael Miiller welcomes everyone to the DMTC fundraiser at Aioli's.

A GREAT fundraiser last night for DMTC at Aioli's Bodega EspaƱola, recently opened at 808 Second St., in downtown Davis. Lots of people were there, including Mayor Pro Tempore Sue Greenwald. Many thanks to Michael Miiller, and the staff of Aoili's for arranging such a wonderful time!

As your DMTC Treasurer, today, I need to figure out how much we raised, and put it in the bank. There are several possible uses for the money, but probably first priority is putting deposits on royalties for next season's shows, in order to lock in the performance rights.

Nice restaurant!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Jane Katherine Arthur, RIP

July 13, 1947 - March 4, 2006

It took a few days for word to reach me..... A wonderful, wonderful person. Would that we could all share her spirit!
Examining An Iceberg

Even the pessimists would be surprised how big a problem it is:
The National Council on Problem Gambling kicked off an education campaign this week by noting that 2 percent to 3 percent of Americans - or about 6 to 9 million adults - have gambling problems.

Numbers can be worth a thousand words. They also can have political and social implications. That's why the National Council's estimate is bad news for the casino industry - it's two or three times as high as the 1 percent rate often cited by the industry.

The greater the percentage of problem gamblers, the tougher it is for the gaming industry to persuade states without casinos that the economic effect of gambling - jobs, tourism, and especially taxes - more than offsets the social cost of increased exposure to casino gambling.

... The 1 percent rate often cited by the casino industry represents only a narrow category of people defined by treatment experts as "pathological gamblers," he said. "It's a fairly limited number that doesn't represent the full scope of people with gambling problems."

The industry-cited number is taken from a 1997 study that collected and extrapolated from much of the previous available research on the subject.

... The 2 percent to 3 percent estimate cited by the National Council is based on a more representative group of people who showed signs of problem gambling behavior in the past year, not just "pathological gamblers" who exhibited the most severe problems, Whyte said.

... "The issue is whether there are questions that are raised that can't be answered using data that's five years old," Volberg said. "Presumably it's time.

"You didn't have Internet gambling available to the extent you have now,'' she said. "You didn't have the poker phenomenon you have now. Nevada has the highest immigration rate in the United States, so the population may be changing demographically in a way that can affect the numbers."
Toilets Down Under

Apparently they need to be stronger:
Standards Australia, a nongovernment group that establishes safety and design standards, is considering recommending strengthening loos for larger users, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Obesity levels have been rising for years in Australia.

Standards Australia spokeswoman Kate Evans said the current industry standard for toilet seats is just 100 pounds and that the group is looking to increase it to 330 pounds.
I remember reading an account, written by a young Australian girl, travelling in the U.S. She said one highlight of her trip was how entertaining the toilets were in the U.S. in comparison to the ones Down Under. Ours gush and swoosh and swish and burble: Down Under they simply go 'glug, glug.' Well, I guess we had to upgrade our standards and buy new toilets many years ago - our own obesity epidemic started way back then!
"Onward To Colorado City"

Actually, our battle cry was "Onward to Fredonia", in 1980, when my friends and I travelled through the Colorado Strip, the fairly-isolated area north of the Colorado River around the Arizona-Utah border, on the way to Zion National Park. Fredonia is a town right at the border. We were passing through, but of course, others settled this area. Despite the natural beauty of the area, its isolation has always been problematic.

Nearby Fredonia is Colorado City, AZ, and Hildale, UT, where a secretive Mormon cult, under the erratic leadership of fugitive Warren Jeffs, still practices polygamy, and where the dread genetic disorder, fumarase deficiency, is spreading rapidly. Indeed, more people with this rare disease are found in these two towns than anywhere on Earth.

John Dougherty at the Phoenix New Times has written an excellent feature article on the disease, and the reaction of the State of Arizona to it. One story regarded Dr. Theodore Tarby's efforts to educate people regarding what was going on:

Tarby says he explained to the gathering at Town Hall in Colorado City that the only way to stop fumarase deficiency in the community is to abort fetuses that test positive for the disease and for the community to stop intermarriages between Barlows and Jessops, Barlows and Barlows and Jessops and Jessops.

Tarby says members of the community made it clear that neither choice was acceptable.

..."They have to outbreed," [Dr. Kirk A.] Aleck says.

But this is a very unlikely scenario for FLDS faithful, who practice a religious doctrine that requires men to be strictly obedient to religious leaders and requires women to give birth to as many children as possible to increase the sect's numbers.

"Who [from outside the fundamentalist Mormon religion] would want to go in there and join their population?" Aleck asks. "It's probably hard to recruit into that environment."

Indeed, even if an outsider wanted to join the FLDS community, such a person would not be welcome.

"They are discouraging any new blood," historian [Benjamin] Bistline says. "They've got this idea that their blood is pure and that they want to keep it pure."

There is also a companion article regarding the collapse of the local economy and civic life in the two towns. It's so alarming, it almost makes one yearn for the hyper-efficient government of the nearby Indian Reservations instead:
In the months since the indictments, evidence that the economy of the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, is plunging toward collapse is obvious. Many businesses have closed or moved out, the Colorado City and Hildale governments are facing serious financial problems, the electric utility jointly owned by both towns is in default on $21 million in bonds and the Colorado City public school district has been forced into receivership.


Residents already are constructing large walls made from block, steel, wood and stone around the perimeter of their residential lots and posting "no trespassing" signs on land they do not own.

...Unless the world does suddenly end, FLDS members in Colorado City and Hildale could face three difficult choices:

Defy their fugitive religious leader and pay property taxes to remain in their homes. Abandon the community they and their forefathers helped build and set off with their large families to Texas and elsewhere. Or refuse to pay property taxes or leave when authorities attempt to evict.


[Hildale Mayor David] Zitting, who will mark his 20th year in office in January, says there was a long period when living on UEP trust land and strictly adhering to the commands of FLDS religious leaders was a spiritual utopia.

...During last month's election, only 100 votes were cast for mayor in Hildale, population about 2,000, and he got all of them.

"It was a lower turnout than usual," Zitting says, as if that were the unusual aspect of the election.

One of three election judges overseeing the votes was a woman who, Zitting says, shares his household, which is a polite way of saying she is a plural wife.

... It is not as if Zitting was the only candidate who had a spouse judging the election. Patricia Jessop also sat as an election judge and shares a household with Hildale Councilman Dan C. Jessop, who, of course, also won reelection.

Such blatant conflicts would cause a firestorm of protest in most communities, and the election results would probably be voided. But these anomalies are a fact of life in the fundamentalist towns.

...As for Zitting, he is faced with the difficult task of trying to keep the Hildale town government in operation as it teeters on the verge of bankruptcy. Prophet Jeffs' order to FLDS members to refuse to pay property taxes is contributing to the financial woes gripping Zitting's town.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reductio Ad Absurdum

Via Josh Marshall. This stuff is too good for comedy. Jack Abramoff has been convicted of bribing 'Representative Number One.' Speculation has it that particular person is Ohio Congressman Bob Ney. Ney's press spokesman Brian Walsh says that we can't believe Abramoff, not just because he's a (nonpracticing) trial lawyer, but because he's a convicted felon - convicted of bribing Walsh's own boss!
"When Jack Abramoff 'names names,' ‘Representative Number One’ will likely be first on the list," [Chillicothe Mayor and likely candidate] Sulzer said. "That is why I am calling on Bob Ney to resign immediately if Jack Abramoff names him. The ongoing investigation of Ney's corruption is keeping him from doing the job that we elected him to do."

Ney — through his spokesperson, Brian Walsh — called the announcement another in a series of negative attacks. He also hit at Sulzer’s connection with trial lawyers.

“Joe Sulzer has a history of siding with and taking money from trial lawyers so it's not a surprise that he would base his latest negative attacks solely on the tainted words of a slick trial lawyer and a convicted felon like Jack Abramoff,” said Walsh.

(picture by Aerixis Prime at B3ta.)

I'm wondering whether this suggestive idea (that a new study strengthened) is correct; that blondeness evolved recently in Europe due to selective evolutionary pressure. Kind-of-like lactose tolerance, which is also fairly-new in human development, and not yet fully spread through the human population.

Blondeness is certainly a striking personal trait, but does it mean more kids who survive to produce their own kids (the acid test of evolution)?
Finally, A Break For Arizona

Deborah in Ahwatukee, just south of Phoenix, writes:
It sure looked like it would rain yesterday afternoon but if it did--it was not in the valley. I know it's a desert, but I do remember rain, snow up north just last year. This has got to break--you need to take that sledgehammer to the jet stream. What's up with that??
I respond:
All that the long-wave trough off the west coast of the U.S. has to do is move slightly east and AZ will have it made, with a series of storms lined up. Usually, these long-wavelength troughs move west instead, but AZ apparently will catch a break.

Episodic rain for the next week! All but guaranteed! If it doesn't rain soon, you can take a sledgehammer to my head (easier to reach than the jet stream).
Irresistible Forces Meeting Immovable Objects

James McElroy had a few more comments regarding collisions of ships with things:
I'd like to draw your attention to the rant by XHawkeye (05-12-05) on page 2 of the message board. This seems to be a recurring theme in accident investigations, first protect the guilty, then hang the grunts out to dry.

Here is a direct link to a photo of the bow of the San Franciso with the blue tarp missing. I assumed that the tarp was there to hide something militarily valuable, but apparently not. This series [the photo is one of a series of five] explains a lot. The first picture that I sent earlier had me wondering how they were oriented at impact, but these shots make it clear.

[Referring to a point made in comments on the previous post regarding the Titanic collision with an iceberg] Your point about the glancing blow is a good one. To minimize effort, concentrate less energy at a weak point. To inflict fatality on someone, hit them over the head with a concrete block, or slip a filet knife between their ribs. Much less effort, same result.
Ice daggers! The Titanic was mugged by the North Atlantic!

I was struck by the comments on the message board made by PeteRR, who was apparently at the scene as the on-watch Diving Officer:
The next thing to cross my mind was why am I pushing myself off of the SCP (Ship's Control Panel, the main instrument and control panel for steering and driving the submarine) and where the hell the air rupture in the control room come from? I didn't know it, but I did a greater than 3g spiderman against the panel, punched a palm through the only plexiglass gauge on the SCP and had my leg crushed by the DOOW (Diving Officer Of the Watch) chair that I had just unbuckled (seatbelts are normally worn at high speeds) from. The DOOW chair was broken loose by the QMOW (QuarterMaster Of the Watch) flying more than 15 feet into it and smashing my leg against a hydraulic valve and the SCP. I don't remember freeing myself from it. If I had been buckled in, I don't think I would be writing this.
It's scary to be a fragile human being at the mercy of irresistible forces!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Solar Minimum Has Arrived

So if you are looking for sunspots any time soon, you are out of luck.
Dusty Snowstorms

When I lived in New Mexico, I used to hate these windy storms - dirty snow in the mountains, dusty grit on the flat. They had one of these storms recently in the Four Corners area. Today, there are reports that Algeria, of all places, has been paralyzed by one of these storms, with 70 cm of snow (nearly 25 inches in places).

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ships That Go Bump In The Night - HMS Titanic, USS San Francisco, and Others

(Left, Original Captions): Apra Harbor, Guam (Jan. 27, 2005) The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS San Francisco (SSN 711) in dry dock to assess damage sustained after running aground approximately 350 miles south of Guam Jan. 8, 2005. The Navy former dry dock known as “Big Blue” is capable of docking ships that weigh up to 40,000 Long Tons. The Navy certified Big Blue for the one-time docking of San Francisco. San Francisco is the second fast-attack submarine to be attached to the forward-deployed Submarine Squadron Fifteen, home ported on board Naval Base Guam. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Mark Allen Leonesio (RELEASED)

(Also): On January 7, 2005, the USS San Francisco, while on its way to making a routine port visit to Brisbane, Australia, ran aground and hit the ocean floor, approximately 350 nautical miles (560 kilometers) south of Guam, in the middle of the East Marianas Basin. The incident reportedly caused one critical injury and a number of minor ones to 23 of the submarine's crew ranging from broken bones, lacerations, bruises to a back injury. The critically wounded sailor later died of his injuries. Initial reports indicated that the submarine's hull was intact and that the submarine's nuclear reactor plant had not been damaged. The submarine resurfaced following the accident and proceeded to return to its homeport of Guam.

Provoked by blog musings regarding The Titanic, James McElroy (Michael's father) composed a very interesting essay about ships at sea colliding into objects:
Your bringing up the recent Nuclear Sub incident near Guam relative to the Titanic Disaster got me thinking of other accident studies, so I did a little research on the relative magnitudes, and the investigations thereof. Anyway here are some thoughts on what I found. I'm afraid we live in a very non-linear world, and are in constant ignorance of what is going on about us.

The Titanic is much upon our minds these days, and it has been an obsession with many people for 94 years. Just think, in only six years we will "celebrate" the Centennial of the sinking of the Titanic. You should start right now to secure performance rights for the show on Apr 14, 2012.

Your comparison of the Titanic vs. Iceberg to the USS San Francisco vs. Seamount (the USS Scorpion was another incident, top secret, hush hush espionage, and all that [Marc: Sorry! I got the name wrong!}) caused me to ponder the physics of the collisions. First of all, here is a photo of the result of the latest (7 Jan 2005) maritime disaster, from a USN oriented message board. There is a lot of talk back and forth from a miscellaneous collection of readers about the accident. Interesting reading.

I acquired a couple of books from my local library, the classic reference "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord, and "The Night Lives On" by the same author. The first was published in 1955 and made into a movie by a British Studio in 1958, both are still readily available from The second was published in 1989, shortly after the discovery of the hulk of the Titanic in 1985. It did not fare so well and is out of print. It focused mainly on the various Hearings conducted after the sinking, the later lives of principle passenger and crew survivors, and some information about the discovery of the wreck. It was very interesting and useful, but the Internet makes these kinds of books a hard sell today.

The results of the various inquiries are interesting. It is almost a given that the Bureaucrats came out blameless, the Maritime Industry was verified to be doing its best to build and operate increasingly large vessels safely and the crews (while some lower level members were faulted) was faced with an impossible situation. Humph! Some interesting things did come out however and changes were made (without admitting any blame, of course). For one thing, on the very next voyage of the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic, the passengers refused to board the ship until enough lifeboats were aboard to carry all the passengers. As a result it was a very uncomfortable trip, with the boat deck very cluttered with, of all things, boats! There was tsk, tsking by the Board of Trade that this made the ships top heavy and less safe.

It became known at the hearings that the Titanic actually carried MORE lifeboats than were required by regulation. The number was a standard calculation based on tonnage, from the era of much smaller vessels. The justification was that larger ships took so long to sink (if they ever would) that they would be surrounded by rescue vessels and the boats would only be used to ferry passengers from the damaged vessel to the rescuers.

Was the Captain running the Titanic too fast, from pressure by an overbearing ship owner, or internal pressure to retire with the title of fastest ship on the crossing? At the hearings it became apparent that standard procedure of all captains was to go full out even at night, to shorten the turn around. Hopefully in fog they eased off a bit, though that wasn't discussed. Damage to ships from ice was infrequent, though the time between incidents was decreasing. All the ships in the North Atlantic trade could make many crossings before an unlucky one would earn a few weeks downtime for repairs.

In 1879 the Guidon Lines "Arizona" was the largest and fastest ship on the crossing (at the time). One midnight, in roughly the same area as the Titanic incident, while steaming at full speed it collided head on with an Iceberg. The first 30 ft of the bow was crushed, but the forward bulkhead was not seriously damaged. At slow speed it limped into St. John's Newfoundland, eventually repaired and put back into service. This event was used to justify the standard operating procedure of full speed in open ocean. Modern ships were just too big and strong to worry about a little ice.

It is instructive here to do a little comparison of various vessels involved in accidents. The "Arizona" was 5,750 Tons and capable of 17 knots. The USS San Francisco was (public data) 7,000 Tons and capable of 32 knots officially. Various people commenting on the message board stated that the Navy later admitted to 45+ knots for that class of submarine. The Titanic was 46,000 Tons, and capable of 24 knots. In case of a collision between a moving ship and an Iceberg (or seamount) the parameter of interest is it's kinetic energy which must be dissipated by crushing structure to bring the moving ship to a full halt.

Using the standard equation KE=M*V*V, where M is the mass in 1000 Ton units, and V is speed in knots we get:

Arizona KE = 5.75 * 17 * 17 = 1,662 (arbitrary units)
San Francisco KE = 7.0 * 42 * 42 = 12,348 (who knows how fast?)
Titanic KE = 46.0 * 24 * 24 = 26,496

Based on the photographic evidence of the USS San Francisco a collision with slightly less than half of the Titanic's Kinetic Energy is survivable. One must admit however that the structure of a Nuclear Submarine is a hell of a lot stronger than a 1912 Ocean Liner. This question actually came up in the Titanic Hearings in regard to the famous 37 seconds between warning until the bow began to move sideways. It was suggested that if the Titanic had hit head on, it would not have sunk. Maybe. A number was thrown out that the first 100 ft of the hull would have been crushed which would have taken out the first three, maybe four compartments, but left the engine room intact. Never saw any justification for the calculated number however. The Arizona lost 30 ft of structure with an impact of 1/16th of the Titanic's kinetic energy. No one could bring themselves to fault the helmsman's attempt to avoid the collision, however.

What happened in that 37 seconds? In the movie and theater versions there was the implication that the helmsman "froze" for several seconds and did not begin execution till later, but evidence given was that the execution was immediate. The order was "Hard to Port" and "Full Reverse". It would take a few seconds to swing the rudder to full and even more time to halt all that rotating mass and reverse the propellers. You don't change direction of a 882 foot steel beam moving in it's direction of least resistance easily. The iceberg must have been off center initially, and the turn made in the proper direction. It almost missed. The sad thing is that it turned just enough to maximize the damage. A little more and there would have been not a scratch, a little less and the crumple zone would have been determined. The fact is no one knew how the ship would respond to those commands.

Another thing that came out at the hearings was that the sea trials of this new leviathan were minimal at best. Of course it was the second of three sister ships. The Olympic had been in service for over a year. An emergency stop had been tested once, from 18 knots. It took 3 minutes 15 seconds and 3,000 feet from 18 knots. Turning tests were done, also at reduced and constant speed. At no time did testing occur at full speed, and certainly not at full load. The passengers on the maiden voyage were paying full price to participate in a Beta Test! The question was not raised during the hearings, but I can't feel but that the commands given, "Full Port Rudder" and "Full Engine Reverse" were contradictory. The rudder was straining to get the ship turned with a force proportional to the square of the water velocity over the rudder surface, while the reversing screws were modifying the water flow at the stern of the ship in a major way.

That the large propellers on the Titanic and it's sister the Olympic could do weird things to the water flow was undoubtable but apparently not appreciated. Both ships were involved in incidents which indicated that the effects of propeller wash was not understood. On it's first arrival in New York, the Olympic, for some obscure reason, reversed engines on one side at significant power and a tug working the ship to the dock was sucked under the stern, doing considerable damage to the tug and to the Olympic's propeller. On another occasion the Olympic and a Royal Navy Cruiser were proceeding side by side in a narrow channel, about 200 yards apart, when the Olympic increased power to move ahead and the Cruiser's bow swung into the stern quarter of the Olympic, doing considerable damage to both ships. At the inquest Naval Engineers presented evidence from model tank towing tests showing that the increased prop wash from the Olympic could cause the two vessels to impact. The Board of Trade harrumphed that boys playing with toy boats could not convince them the Navy helmsman was not at fault. As the Titanic left South Hampton on its maiden voyage with it's first load of passengers, another ocean liner was pulled from it's moorings as the Titanic passed, and a similar collision was avoided only by the heroic efforts of a passing tug, and reversing the Titanic's engine to swing the stern sideways.

Probably the correct action on sighting the iceberg would have been to leave the engines alone at full forward, and swing the rudder hard over. That would maximize the lateral force on the hull to execute a turn. Reversing the engines would reduce flow over the rudder surface. That was certainly the technique used by the Carpathia on it's mercy run toward the Titanic's reported position. The captain stated that he added as many lookouts as he could and swerved around any large ice reported. Of course his full speed was only 14 knots. After sunup, he said he looked back over his course into the area and noted many, many more icebergs than had been reported, and attributed his safe arrival to Divine Guidance. Too bad the Titanic didn't have some of that on board as well. It seems that no one on board really knew how the Titanic would respond to emergency maneuvers at full speed and load. If the Olympic had ever been tested under those conditions it was never mentioned at the hearings.

To put a more modern perspective on the numbers mentioned above it is instructive to look at the case of:

(1) a fully-loaded Boeing 747 impacting a mountain at cruise speed
437.5 Tons take off weight, 484 knots cruise speed
KE = 0.4375 * 484 * 484 = 102,487
Almost 4 times the impact energy of the Titanic!
No wonder there is so little left to pick up.

(2) a Ford Excursion, hitting a concrete bridge pier at 80 mph
3 tons gross weight at 69.4 knots
KE = 0.003 * 69.4 * 69.4 = 14.4
About 1/1000 the KE of the USS San Francisco
Ponder the survivability of that!

Once more it will be instructive to reread the book "You Must be Joking Mr. Feynman!", especially the chapter on his participation in the investigation of the Challenger disaster. The investigative board was getting bogged down in endless discussions of hypothetical minutiae when Feynman whipped out his little tabletop experiment demonstrating that the O-rings lost their seal at 0 degrees C, and when hot gases blew by they were gone. It became impossible to deny that the designers and management had screwed up in a big way.