Friday, February 10, 2006

Plimsoll Day, February 10th


Plimsoll Day is in honor of Samuel Plimsoll, who was a British Social reformer. He was a member of parliament, and is most remembered for the legislation that introduced the Plimsol Line or load line, which is a visible line designed to protect sailors from ships being loaded with too much cargo. The line is necessary because the buoyancy of a ship changes from freshwater to saltwater, and from tropic water to arctic water. So, if you load your boat up in merry ol' England, then sail to Iceland and pack up some more and then hence to St. Thomas, there can be problems with how smoothly the whole passage goes.

When Plimsoll's bill passed in 1870, it only required that a line be drawn on the boat, it didn't require that it be an accurately safe line. Sounds like a typically political compromise.

During the time of Samuel Plimsoll, because it was Victorian England, and we learn from Dickens that it was absolutly horrid to live in Vistorian England if you didn't have money, it was more cool to load your ships up and increase the danger of shipwreck, and save a few bucks on shipping costs, than to worry about the safety of your crew. Much like the coal industry today. Or, if you want to read a really Bush-slamming article about it, try this one. I am attempting a rather uneducated contemporary correlation. I actually don't know anything about the mining industry. I should probably just take out this whole part, but, I'm not going to. Because, according to my dad, that's what we liberals do, we complain about things that we know nothing about.

Anyway, the Plimsoll Line on boats lead to a popular fashion trend: the plimsoll shoe. This shoe, as far as I can tell, was the original Ked. According to wikipedia, the plimsoll shoe was a "canvas upper and rubber sole" which acquired the name "'plimsoll' because the colored horizontal band joining the upper to the sole resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship's hull."

This picture is a re-creation of a WWII Kriegsmarine U-boat canvas shoe, which, surprisingly, is Britishly nicknamed a plimsoll.

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