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Ice with that? Titanic captain and his costly tipple...

THE impact of the Costa Concordia sinking continues to spread. First we had the news that the captain had left his ship and been forced back onto it by the Coast Guard.

Next we got in-depth coverage of the Concordia's sister ship as it was towed back to port after a fire. But clearly that wasn't enough to sate our desire for ship disaster stories because this week we were told the captain of another ship involved in a major disaster might have been drinking. Specifically the captain of the Titanic.

You would have thought a disaster that happened a hundred years ago would be old news by now, but no, we're being treated to a big analysis of new sonar pictures of the wreck and suggestions that the officer in charge may have been somewhat sozzled. Although there's no mention yet of cabaret dancers or lingerie. But give it time ...

Belfast and the Northern Ireland tourist board will be ecstatic about these new revelations (even though the more cynical amongst us may find it a bit of a lucky co-incidence that all this is being revealed just as our friends in the North need to drum up business for its new Titanic Quarter.)

Whether on not the drinking suggestion is proven, the reputation of the captain should be fairly safe. Unlike the captain of the Concordia, the Master of the Titanic will be forgiven because of the cultural norms at the time. Remember, Winston Churchill reputedly fought the entire Second World War without drawing a sober breath, so 30 years before that it must have been standard practice to start your day at the helm with a stiff gin.

The sun'll come out tomor... oh!

FOR three years we have been getting used to headlines in papers which scare the hell out of us, even if we don't understand them; "Bond Markets in Turmoil Following CDS Trigger!" "ECB Against Promissory Renegotiation!" Very few people have a breeze what that kind of stuff means, but the tone still makes them terrifying.

Well it's been taken to a new level; "Massive Flares Spew Billions of Tonnes of Solar Particles Towards the Earth." Typical. Just when Europe says things are looking up, the sun decides to vapourise us. Brilliant.

Yes, we can live without Tweets

ONE of the lessons of the Sean Gallagher 'Tweetgate' affair is that TV programmes need to be very wary of being trendy. Several years ago, texts were trendy, so a number of TV producers incorporated them into their programmes for no real reason. The most notable was Pat Kenny's Late Late which ran a feed of texts across the screen, distracting viewers from the show by constantly providing them the opinions of other viewers.

After a while, the Late Late got sense and stopped force-feeding us texts, as did most other programmes, but then the TV people started demanding we follow them on Facebook. Great effort that could have gone into the programmes went into trying to get us to turn off the box and give a 'thumb-up' on a website.

And then, just as the telly folks were getting bored with Facebook, Twitter arrived and they all got so excited they peed a little.

Instantly programmes were developed to incorporate Tweets, based on an assumption we could not survive without them on the box. We could. We still can. If someone is a credible contributor and if they can add something to a TV debate then their views should be incorporated. But their presence in the audience, or their possession of a mobile phone, or facebook page or twitter account is not enough reason to quote them on telly.