More and more often lately, I come across a news story that makes me close my eyes for a moment, open them again, lean forward, frown and let out a scream of incredulous horror.
Oh, thank God. We can't BOTH be hallucinating.
In case you missed it, I will simply reprint here the opening paragraph of a story from USA Today from the end of last month. Swallow whatever you may be eating or drinking.
"Australian billionaire Clive Palmer unveiled plans Tuesday for construction of Titanic II, a cruise ship designed as a 'full-scale re-creation' of the Titanic, which sank in the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912."
It's hard to know where to start.
1. Of course he's a billionaire. Of course he is.
2. Titanic II. TITANIC II. Single worst idea for a sequel ever, for reasons that should be obvious even to billionaires, insane Hollywood moguls and quite possibly marine invertebrates.
3. A faithful re-creation of the Titanic. Including the bad rivets in the hull - and the same complement of lifeboats?
4. A billionaire may be demented enough to want to rebuild a ship famous for killing most of its passengers, but who's going to buy a ticket on a ship whose name is synonymous with violent icy death? "Oh come on, honey, we can afford it - nothing bad ever happens to the people in steerage."
The original Titanic was built in Belfast at the mighty Harland & Wolff shipyard.
Guess where Titanic II will be built.
Mr. Palmer, who won't say what all this ghoulishly poor taste is going to cost, called the Titanic "a ship of dreams" and said the copy will be "the ship where dreams come true." If the Titanic's passengers dreamed of getting safely to their destination, it could be that passengers on the new ship will actually get to realize that dream.
I'd have thought that's kind of a low bar to set, but Carnival is finding it challenging at the moment.
The replica ship will actually be 3 inches longer than the original, which should help it break apart just a fraction quicker if the bow fills with water. But in the interest of historical accuracy, there will be no TVs and, Mr. Palmer reckons, no Internet service.
I know -- it just gets more irresistible all the time. Still, maybe it's best to get everybody's faces away from screens and keeping a lookout ahead for large hazards with 90 percent of their volume underwater.
J. Joseph Edgette, professor emeritus at Widener University in Chester, Pa., and Titanic expert, pointed out that there is, in fact, a sensible and respectful maritime tradition of not naming ships after other ships lost at sea and described the whole idea as "a little tacky."
Huh. There goes my plan to name my kayak the Edmund Fitzgerald II.
Still, there are plenty of people, some of them descendants of Titanic passengers, who are on record as being OK with the relaunch.
And maybe we should rethink our superstitious qualms about this sort of thing.
I'd be willing to get on another Concorde, as long as the runway was thoroughly vacuumed during taxi.
I'm sure there's a developer somewhere who wants to build a housing plan in the shadow of a volcano and call it Pompeii.
And for truly grand and luxurious air travel, wouldn't you book passage on the Hindenburg II?
Mr. Palmer already foresees Titanic III.
Well, it's a catchier ship name than Hubris. No one knows what that means anyway.
Hmph. My heartburn will go on.
Samantha Bennett, freelance writer: email@example.com.