Saturday, December 27, 2008


Friday, December 26, 2008


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pirates in the News, November 2008 part 3


Now that my epic task of recounting things that are directly pirate related in the news, it's on to tangential and simply entertaining news.
If you haven't yet caught Animal Planet's Whale Wars, you may very well be entertained. Following the Sea Shepard's Whale-saving ship the Steve Irwin. You can see pirates where profit is not the motive. Next year, Daryl Hannah will be joining the crew. I think the show speaks for itself, and you will either find it hilarious or appalling or triumphant as is your nature.

Warner Brothers has hired a writer for their slated remake of Captain Blood.
The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Navy in a dispute over Sonar's affect on whales.

The court, in its first decision of the term, voted to allow the Navy to conduct realistic training exercises to respond to potential threats by enemy submarines.

Environmental groups had persuaded lower federal courts in California to impose restrictions on sonar use in submarine-hunting exercises to protect whales and other marine mammals. Environmentalists link sonar to beached whales, internal bleeding around marine mammals' brains and ears, and other damage.

I like to think that they scrawled "Suck it, Whales!" in the margin of their opinions, but they probably didn't, they probably typed them.

I also would like to pretend the next story is related.

David Sheridan was riding his board at Valla Beach on the northern coast of New South Wales state on Oct. 26 when he noticed a large shadow in the water in front of him.

"At first I thought it was the shadow from my kite. But I quickly realized it was a whale," said Sheridan, a 42-year-old high school teacher. He commented to The Associated Press by e-mail.

"The whale kept coming up. ... I did not know what to expect and I went over its back just past its fin," he said. "Next thing I felt was its tail come up and hit me on the back of the head."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Funny Stuff

So, in my quest to bring you the most thorough coverage of the jerks of the sea possible, I googled them, and found this fellow: The Buttsack. A young fisheries biologist by day, comedian by night.

Some of his articles are rather funny, I suggest: Sea Otters, Furry Perverts of the Sea, and Manatees: The Selfish Jerk of the Ocean, which was apparently also posted by

Note: NSFW language

Monday, December 15, 2008

This Pirate Will Teach You Marketing

So.... yeah. It IS a pirate, in media. The skill at which this informational youtube video is created is best left to the experts. The pirate puppet is cute though, as is his sidekick, parrot.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pirate Potluck

from Wired:


1 1/2 lb chopped beef
1 tin anchovies
1/2 onion, chopped
chopped cabbage or lettuce
sliced celery
sliced green banana
2 apples
raisins, chopped
dried mango, chopped
fresh sage, oregano, parsley
powdered ginger
garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper

Brown meat in butter in cast iron pan. Add remaining ingredients and braise, seasoning to taste. Cover for 5-10 minutes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Somalia's Fishermen

A Prelude to Piracy: Somalia's Poor Fishermen

The outcry, addressed to the United Nations and the international community, was loud and bitter. "Help us solve the problem," said professional fisherman Muhammed Hussein from the coastal city of Marka, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu. "What is happening here is economic terrorism."

Jeylani Shaykh Abdi, another Somali fisherman, added: "They are not just robbing us of our fish. They are ramming our boats and taking our nets -- including the catch."

It wasn't long ago that Somali fisherman were loudly complaining about the poor state of their lives and livelihoods. About 700 ships from other countries, they said, were casting their nets along Somalia's roughly 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles) of coastline, using practices that showed little consideration for the fish stocks or local fishermen. None of the trawlers, the Somali fishermen claimed, had a license or an agreement with the government in Mogadishu. Of course, that government has wielded practically no influence over the past 15 years.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

US decides that it could use another warfront

The Bush Administration, because it has such a great record in its multinational military forays, has decided it wants to send troops into Somali to take on pirates, head on.

There are all sorts of reasons why this is a great idea, not the least of which was fictionalized and starred Eric Bana, Ewin McGregor and Josh Hartnett.

While I could totally see more academy award winners coming out of a US anti-pirate Somalia Invasion, it would be nice if the US would at least wait and get some other countries involved.

In the meantime, World War II style convoys are being employed to protect aid efforts going through the region.

File under WTF

Now, I'm going to be the first person to tell you that if you want to swim with Great White Sharks, you should be prepared to be eaten. Not that it's dangerous all the time, plenty of people get into a cage, chum the water near them, then get to observe an increasingly pissed off shark try to get at them while taking pictures and gushing about cheating death.

This is why this story doesn't suprise me at all. Because when it comes down to it, the reason people do these things is to CHEAT DEATH, and that's pointless if death isn't pretty close, and bitey.

There's video:
"But according to the diver who posted the video online, this dopey maneating Great White went wild by MISTAKE."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pirates in the News, November 2008 part 2

I know what you're thinking, part 2 of the monthly pirate digest this early in the month? No, I haven't lost my job, there's just a lot of pirate news, and dagnabit I intend to link it to you.

Pirates freed 17 Filipino sailors from the captured MV Captain Stefanos.

The hostage crew of the MV Faina attempted to overtake their captors only to have their rebellion squished.

Apparently it's still news that the E. U. is launching forces against pirates, the thrust of their operations began early last week in earnest. The multi country force is codenamed Operation: Atalanta, which seems to imply (if you know your mythology) that they're going to throw golden apples at the problem.

Cruise lines that travel along the coast of Somalia are reacting to a recent decision to evacuate passengers in the face of pirate threats by considering chartering planes to simply bypass the embattled area on future trips.

Meanwhile, Shipowners are freaking out, and so are Lawyers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Monday, December 8, 2008

Pirates in the News, November 2008

The prize for single most exaggerated headline since the last time I wrote a digest of pirate news unquestionably goes to Fox News. Kudos, solid Fnord.

The most publicised recent pirate attack is the capture of the Sirius Star a Saudi owned Oil Tanker. For those of you raised in caves or only recently arriving in the modern era people are touchy about oil, the ownership of it, the transport of it, and Saudi Arabia, a country whose main export and source of political clout is oil, is not exactly pleased to have 3 rafts of destitute pirates capture their ship without firing so much as a shot. The pirates on the other hand, have their eyes on the fat ransom this ship will undoubtedly bring them, and fairly accustomed to constant and unceasing strife in their homeland where the most profitable career is either pirate or leader of a militia, and there being a substantially larger number of job openings for pirates are not scared of a little saber rattling, or some actual saber slashing when you get right down to it.

Time has a nice slide show of Somali pirates
, Slate on Washington has a pirate correspondent now, and other news sources are taking notice of this issue and covering it in depth. Pirate attacks are up! Up! UP! but if you've read this blog you know that. Various E.U. countries continue to vie for the top spot in the international armadas patrolling the trade corridor. Shipping in the Gulf of Aden is getting more and more protected. Sailors are getting increased pay incentives to work there. Somalialand, a breakaway enclave seeing independence from Somalia (which is at best described as anarchic) has offered port to anti-pirate efforts. Even the local paper of my landlocked, Sonoran Desert hometown has seen fit to weigh in on the international goings on.

Here are some pirate news stories that are less glamorous than the Sirius star:
Cameroon has fired two military officers who failed to prevent a pirate attack.
Russian and British ships foiled a pirate attack, a British Ship captures a pirate skiff. Two British Sailors jumped off their hijacked ship and were rescued by helicopter.

But as if these stories weren't juicy enough, India destroyed a pirate ship,

The INS Tabar opened fire on a pirate ship after it came under attack Tuesday evening, leaving the burning ship to sink. There was no mention of rescuing or capturing its crew.

oh wait, India sank a Thai Trawler fishing in Somalian waters. Ooops.

Well, maybe it had just then been taken by pirates...

But it turns out now that the “mother ship” may not have been in pirate hands very long. According to the CNN report, the ship was the trawler Ekawat Nava 5, which had been headed from Oman to Yemen to deliver fishing equipment when it was attacked by pirates off the Horn of Africa, according to Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, owner of the Ekawat Nava 5. The pirates were still taking control of the ship when the Tabar moved in, he said.

Mr. Sirichaiekawat learned of his ship’s fate when a Cambodian crewman was found alive by a passing ship after he had been adrift in the gulf for six days. He had survived the gunfire from the Indian Navy and the sinking of the ship, and was taken to a hospital in Yemen, where he is recovering. Fourteen other sailors from the trawler were still missing and one was confirmed dead, the owner said.

The trawler may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time but there's certainly enough in this story to make it interesting.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Why Somalia Matters...

From Vanity Fair:

The “Black Hawk Down” battle of 1993 didn’t end U.S. involvement in Somalia. Far from it. In recent years, America has quietly fought a proxy war there in the name of anti-terrorism. The results have been dismal: insurgency, bloodshed, pirates.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Photo Exhibit!

Here's the photo of me from Alexandria Diracles' Photo Exhibit, if you're in NYC and don't head down to 721 Broadway to check it out you are missing out. It's a really neat series.

How to pay a pirate ransom

From the BBC:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Who gets the money?

From Time Magazine:
"[One of the reasons negotiating a ransom takes so long is that there are] large number of people involved who expect to get a cut from any hijacking, ranging from pirate commanders to leaders of the embattled U.S.-backed transitional government of Somalia as well as its nemesis, the Islamist Shabab militia. Lowest in the pecking order, it seems, are the gunmen who actually captured the ships. (See pictures of Somalia's brazen pirates

"There is a share payment not only for the Shabab, but also others, including some big bosses of the government, both federal and regional, so that we can operate without harassment," said Gel-Qonaf, who said he had helped organize the capture of the Faina. "Before the ship is released, all these parties have to agree about the money.""

Pirates interviewed by TIME claimed that while the Shabab had declared that all taxable means of earning money in Somalia violate Islamic law by propping up a government they have declared un-Islamic, piracy had been exempted because it isn't taxed. A pirate named Abdenasser told TIME he had once done good business recruiting young men from his home town of Bossaso for the industry, with one of his best pitch lines being that it didn't violate Islamic law. But these days, he said, the Islamists have taken such a big piece of the pie that the pirates and their recruiters no longer see much of the money.

"I am really sorry that this made a lot money for these organizations," Abdenasser said. "The pirates and us get such little money from it now."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pirate Photo!

Hey all!

If you're in the New York area and enjoy photography, check out Alexandria Diracles' photo exhibit at the Tisch School of the Arts at 721 Broadway starting on Friday. It features me! The Pirateologist General and my trusty First Mate in a charming piratical context.

Pirates on

For those of you who aren't familiar, is a comedy website; today they covered 7 Historical Figures who were absurdly hard to Kill.

Not surprisingly, Blackbeard made this list, for those of you who don't know, check out the article, he definitely deserves the mention

For those of you who don't cousin to profanity or lewdness, don't click the link.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sea Shanties Recorded in the 1920s!

The songs, which were in a collection recorded on wax cylinders by American academic James Madison Carpenter, were restored for a BBC documentary.

Mark Page, born in 1836, ran away to sea as a boy and contributed to the scholar's work when he retired.

The recording is included here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vikings! effeminate moustache groomers

Now, when one thinks of Vikings, one usually thinks rape and pillage. Let's be honest, that's what comes to mind, obviously they're wearing those horned hats, drinking mead, and have fantastic beards. Sure, Vikings and Norse societies are more than that and a group at Cambridge University wants to correct some of those misconceptions.

The university's department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic has published a guide revealing how much of the Vikings' history has been misrepresented.

They did not, in fact, wear horned or winged helmets. And they appear to have been a vain race who were concerned about their appearance.

"It seems that the Vikings may not have been as hairy and dirty as is commonly imagined," the guide says.

"A medieval chronicler, John of Wallingford, talking about the eleventh century, complained that the Danes were too clean - they combed their hair every day, washed every Saturday, and changed their clothes regularly."

The guide reveals that Norsemen were also stylish trend-setters: "Contemporaries who met individual Vikings were struck by the extreme bagginess of their trousers.

"A tenth-century Persian explorer described trousers (of Vikings in Russia) that were made of one hundred cubits of material, and a number of runestones depict warriors with flared breeches."

The traditional view of the Vikings as "illiterate warring thugs" exaggerates considerably the reality of their life, the academics argue.

"Although Norse men and women may have sometimes liked fighting and drinking, and were sometimes buried with weapons, they also spent much of their time in peaceful activities such as farming, building, writing and illustrating."

No horned hats? What? What about all those productions of The Ring Cycle???
Life can't have been as violent as we sometimes like to imagine," it adds...

..."Many British children are quite likely to have Viking ancestry and we want to make them think about the reality of their past," she said.

"It's damaging to think that they were simply a violent society, and easy to undermine them as a people who have no redeeming qualities.

I'm just going to point out two things, most people today, at least those in western nations, can't image life being terribly violent at all, so I'll freely throw down with you Dr. Rowe. In the civilized would where vaccinations have even prevented horribly fatal disease from plaguing and killing us at every turn and people are pretty much insulated from constant wars because they're being fought elsewhere, Life in viking times was probably AT LEAST as violent as we can imagine.

Second point, the viking blood in those English children, I'm certain that all their English ancestresses took one look at those scrubbed and coiffed raiders burning down their town and said "What an amazing moustache you have, rip my clothes off and have your way with me, I consent to your violent ravaging."

Sorry, that's part of the history too. Tribes have raped their way into the British Isles for time immemorial. While I'll freely concede that not 100% of Viking life was spent raping and pillaging, enough raping and pillaging went on to make it worth a mention and no amount of copper broaches, jewelry or riding gear should eclipse the fact that many vikings were sea rovers. Advanced Society or no, noting that even advanced societies engage in practices of piracy and briganding, even encouraging it, is worth a mention.

An important part of my understanding of history included learning that things that were happening now (like say, rape used as a weapon in Rwanda by a government in ethnic conflicts), had happened to my ancestors (Vikings, Scots, Romans, using rape and interbreeding as an inroad to Britain).

I'm not necessarily suggesting that teaching that part of it to young kids is smart, but something about making light of that stuff to teenagers who should be smart enough to integrate that information rubs me the wrong way.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pirate Fashion: Bazaar

Shot by Douglas Friedman, Bazaar, September 2008.

Pirate Restaurant: Charleston, SC

A pirate restaurant called the Queen Ann's Revenge is opening a second location in Charleston, South Carolina today!

Lol Egg

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

File under WTF

Scientists have confirmed the second case of virgin birth in a shark. That's the last thing anyone needs isn't it? A theoretically immortal toothy killing machine that can give birth asexually. Great, thanks for that one.
There have been nearly a dozen reports of suspected virgin births in sharks in recent years, but scientists largely assumed these cases were the result of long-term sperm storage by females after mating with males. Virgin birth is now the more probable explanation, and DNA testing is underway to confirm it in additional sharks. Chapman is currently analyzing the DNA of yet another shark species with Dr. Kevin Feldheim of the Field Museum in Chicago.
Oh YAY! more of this on the horizon, that sounds great. But you know what sounds even better?

From the people who brought you shark chumming and shark chumming from inside a metal cage I'm somewhat appalled to bring you....


The newly-opened attraction, Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin, offers the chance to be lowered into a tank full of crocs, among them suspected man-eaters, wearing nothing more than a mask, snorkel and swimsuit or trunks.

First of all, kudos to Crocosaurus Cove on having a fantastic name, secondly, WTF?

In the interest of careful blog journalism, I will now hold an interview with that Crocodile via telepathic communication.

The Pirateologist General: What's up Croc?

Crocodile: I am going to eat you

PG: What do you think about this new tourist attraction?

C: I am going to eat you so much

PG: How about those cages, does that look secure enough to keep you out?

C: Nawm, Nawm, Nawm, Smack, Smack, Smack.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dolphins, Jerks of the Sea, Part 5... In the News!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Dolphins.... are jerks.

In Florida, a 9 foot dolphin lept into a small boat, injuring the boaters:
"There was blood everywhere," Howard said. Norman told the Daytona Beach News Journal that he saw the dolphin coming out of the corner of his eye, but everything happened too quickly to react."The next thing I knew, a big old fish was on top of me," he said.
Now, far be it from me to not allow an injured man a slur, but dolphins' don't take lightly to ignorance of their mammalian classification. I'd watch my tongue or expect more of the same treatment from cetations, bub.

I also found video from a King of the Hill episode where a dolphin encounter gets a little too friendly for the show's main character, Hank. I'm including it to back up Part 1 of the increasingly large series Dolphins are Jerks.

Check out these Dolphins are Jerks T-shirts a Google search revealed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pirate DIY at its best

The photos in fashion mags recently, are in my opinion, directly influenced by the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea and the Miss Rockaway Armada, though certainly I'm not suggesting that magazines borrow other people's ideas intentionally, no, I suggest that they unabashedly steal from whatever seems most hip at the moment.

The Swimming Cities flowed down the Hudson River from Troy, NY to New York City in Late August. Check them out in the New York Times and again here, also here (Miss Rockaway).

Of course, that's just my suggestion.

Anyone who likes what they see here should also check out this interview with Tod Seelie about the Armada Experience on the Mississippi River.

Pirate Fashion: Glamour

Shot by Koto Bolofo, September '08

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pirates in the Movies

I know my news is old, but it's still news, and it's piratey, laugh with me at my bloggish incompetence.
Johnny Depp has re-uped his contract to play Captain Jack Sparrow in the next three sequels, for a signing bonus approximately my net worth multiplied by Eleventy Billion Frillion Dollars.

Also, apparently Russell Brand, who I'd never heard of but apparantly hosted the VMAs this year, has been cast as Captain Jack Sparrow's brother.

Also Paul Greengrass,director of the Bourne Ultimatum, Bloody Sunday and United 93 was/is rumored to be signed on to the Blackbeard Movie announced earlier this summer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pirates vs. Phelps

For those of you not familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church, they are the folks most likely to protest at a soldier's funeral and throw things at the mourners.

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, the Pirates of Little Rock protested one of the Phelps Family's protests, with a level of dignity and decorum rarely associated with such protests.

The Arkansas Times gave this account:

Yep, the cuckoo Phelps hate group walked the plank this morning after a happy bunch dressed like pirates and holding signs saying "God hates shrimp -- Leviticus" and "God hates cotton-polyester blends" stood opposite them at the corner of Markham and Scott streets. The group, made up of Central Arkansas Pastafarians, waved swords and growled "Arrghh!" in a manner that would have made Abbie Hoffman proud.

"They didn't know what to do," a pirate named Boatswain (aka Gerry Schulze) tells The Pitch. "We decided that the best way to handle them was ridicule. They had not earned our hatred, only our ridicule and perhaps our contempt."

"I had a blast that day," says Pasta Pontius Pirate (aka LeeWood Thomas.

Pirate 1, Phelps family 0.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pirate Fashion: Vogue

Natalia Vodianova, her husband and kids in Vogue, November 2008.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Should Pirates Walk the Pop Culture Plank?

Should pirates walk the pop culture plank?

So, like zombies, cowboys, devils, sexy nurses, sexy ups guys, etc... pirates are here to stay, but like every cultural zeitgeist, people get tired, and some people definitely care more about it than others.
Hardcore pirate re-enactors, however, aren't too pleased with the recent influx of new mateys. John Macek, who has been a member of a historical pirate re-enactment group since the 90's, complained to the Times “Why do some of them feel like they can wear blank spandex pants and a puffy shirt and be allowed to call themselves pirates?” I'm sure Blackbeard, if he came back today and attended one of these festivals, would ask the same thing. And then, of course, he would steal everyone's wallets and the festival trophy and sail off into the sunset.
I know I would rather see someone build a pirate ship treehouse, or really take time to create a fantastic costume, but I'm not going to lie, I don't always have time, I clearly don't have time to even post to my blog. So I'm hardly one to fault someone for enjoying pirates casually, but lets just all thank our lucky stars that we'll have a couple years before Pirates 4 comes out. I somehow doubt there would be as many people blindingly excited about dressing like a storm trooper if The Phantom Menace had come out the year after Return of the Jedi.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pirates in the News, October 2008

The biggest news out there in piracy coverage right now is still the MV Faina, that saga justified it's very own entry.

But it's not the only story in piracy this month, not by a long shot. Oil Tankers are under increasing attack in the Suez Region, ( view here and here where one ship fends of 5 attacks in one day )and they are being increasingly repulsed by the increased Naval might protecting them.
The U.S. Navy said ... it appeared pirates had tried to attack one of its big military oil tankers.

A security team aboard the vessel opened fire on two small boats near Somalia after they ignored warnings and pursued the ship, a U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesman said.

"From all appearances it does look like it was a pirate attack and the incident is currently under investigation," he said by telephone from Bahrain.

He said the Military Sealift Command (MSC) oil tanker, the John Lenthall, which usually carries a range of fuels for the U.S. armed forces, was transiting outside Somalia's territorial waters when the incident took place.

In a statement the navy said a whole range of warnings were given before the security team opened fire on the small open skiffs which came within 400 yards (370 metres) of the tanker."

And as you can see in the MV Faina entry, the military presence in the area is increasing daily in response to the call for greater shipping security.
Did you know that Blackwater is starting a Navy? Now you do:

The mercenary outfit--founded by former Navy SEALs in 1997 and heavily involved in U.S. military efforts in Iraq--has tentative plans to build a small fleet of two or three anti-piracy vessels, each able to carry several dozen armed security personnel, according to reports in Lloyds List Maritime. Although the Blackwater vessels will not be armed, the crew will be. Unlike official military personnel, they may have fewer qualms about using those arms against pirates.

Now, Mercenaries and shipping security have always gone together like peanut butter and jelly, but as always, when private armies gain increasing scope it's something to keep an eye on, even if it isn't a particularly shocking turn of events.

Remember the Iran Dianat? I reported on the mysterious ship that was giving most observers the heebie jeebies and most aboard it the mysterious radioactive or biological disease? Iran paid its ransom and it was released. Fnord.

Finally to wrap up this installment of Pirates in the News! Here's an article about an Indian man who was held hostage in Somalia, it's informative and pretty interesting.

"The governments have to act very fast to save hostages," says Vijayan of the estimated 250 sailors of many countries now suffering hostage trauma. "Having experienced what it is to be held captive by pirates, I know what the victims must be going through." He says the Indian government and navy must get involved as thousands of Indian workers sail the Gulf waters.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nautical Photo Shoot on America's Next Top Model

"Piratey... piratey.... piratey piratey"
- Paulina Porizkova

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Can I Get an Arrgh?

Pirates in the lead article of the NY Times Sunday Style Section

It's only been 5 years since Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl came out, that sounds like about the correct amount of turnaround time for the zeitgeist to hit the "paper of record."

The Times article covers various pirate fairs and images from a recent one in Savannah.

Like Civil War re-enactors, many of these latter-day pirates pursue historical authenticity — down to their home-sewn underwear, pistol ribands and molded tricorn hats. Some have even hired blacksmiths to reproduce halberd axes from photographs. They can discuss their exploits without breaking character.

No Quarter Given, a journal of all things pirate, has counted nearly 130 re-enactment groups nationwide, compared with 9 in 1993, according to its publisher, Christine Lampe.

The article rightly states that while there are a preponderance of Captain Jack Sparrow impersonators, there is real creativity showing up in the work of many of these 17th century re-enactors. Just check out their Great Pretenders slide show.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Special Halloween Election Edition

Finally, something both candidates can agree on they both were Pirates for Halloween at least when they were kids. Check out the super-adorable picture of Mini-Obama, they didn't include a picture of McCain, probably because it's a cave painting.

"When I see the way they behave in the United States Senate, sometimes I wish I [could] put my costume on and take my sword out or my dagger and get 'em back in line," McCain said.

Obama reminisced about the pirate sword and "little mustache" he wore when he was 3 years old, calling it "one of the best costumes of all time."

"Ah, it was outstanding," he said.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pirates in the News: MV Faina

In my ongoing effort to maintain my sanity and still report to you news about modern piracy, here is a summary of the current story of the MV Faina.

The MV Faina is a Ukrainian cargo tanker that near the end of September was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. What makes this Ukrainian Cargo Tanker so different from all the other ships attacked recently? It was full of Tanks.
In the highest-profile of scores of pirate attacks off Somalia this year, the MV Faina has been held since the end of September with 20 crew members on board. Its cargo includes 33 T-72 tanks which were en route to Kenya's Mombasa port.
Yup, pirates now control a large shipment of these puppies, not to mention whatever smaller arms were being shipped along with them. Now, some might question, how did a cargo tanker full of tanks fall into the hands of some 50 pirates? But that isn't even the most interesting question here, the bigger question is: where were those tanks headed? The pirates holding the ship say Sudan. Kiev says Kenya. Kenya says the tanks were for their military.

Kenya reiterated... its denial that the Faina's military cargo was secretly destined for South Sudan as a regional maritime group and some defence sources have said.

Nairobi has been embarrassed by that accusation because it helped broker a 2005 north-south peace accord in Sudan. There are also suggestions of kickbacks involved in the shipment.

"The cargo on board the hijacked ship belongs to the Kenya government," Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said.

Now, this standoff has already seen its fair share of action: pirates were killed when Somali forces attempted to board, the Captain of the Faina has been killed, it may or may not have been from illness, and the various factions of the pirates themselves have vehemently denied that they have been engaging in shootouts with one another on board, which, since the ship is ringed by a coalition of international warships watching their every move, actually happened. Nigerian officials have been "detained" in connection to the pirate attack.

The Faina is currently near Haradhere, an city in central Somalia controlled by the Islamic Courts' Union (ICU), a group which is fighting against the transitional government based in Mogadishu. The Pirates initially asked for a ransom of $35 million, but after it became clear that international interest in the attack would make it more complex than the regular ransoming of ships that occurs in the areas: Russian warships dispatched to join American and European ships, additional US ships being deployed, the eyes of the world on this single ship, even famous mercenary corporations deciding to get in on the deal. Somalia has essentially given the international powers carte blanche to handle the situation, a smart move because the government relies on international backing in their civil wars against internal groups.

The Faina's seizure has galvanised international concern over piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean ship lanes off Somalia. The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday again urged a joint naval operation against the pirates, who have reaped millions in ransoms this year and pushed up insurance costs.

Farah scoffed at the international threat.

"The world has repeatedly voted to fight pirates, but if the situation were a piece of cake, then the American ship would not just be watching the Ukrainian ship," he said.

Somali Foreign Minister Ali Jama Jangili said an end to civil conflict onshore was a pre-requisite to solving piracy.

Meanwhile, the pirates on board are aware of the precariousness of their position.

“We just saw a big ship,” the pirates’ spokesman, Sugule Ali, told the New York Times. “So we stopped it.”

The Faina was hijacked Thursday and is now anchored off the coast of Somalia. The pirates have demanded a ransom of $20 million, but Ali told the Times that they’re willing to bargain. He said the pirates want money, not weapons.

“We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” Ali said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”

Negotiations began with the Ukrainian company that owns the MV Faina and have already broken down at least once, after which the pirates dropped their ransom precipitously.
“It’s down to $5 million,” said Andrew Mwangura, program coordinator for the Seafarers’ Assistance Program in Kenya, which tracks pirate attacks and communicates with the families of crew members. “But this needs to be done quickly. The longer that ship stays in Somalia, the more people who are going to get involved and the greedier they’re going to get.”
The pirates have also threatened to blow up the ship and themselves with it, and $5 million seems a paltry sum when compared to the price of the freighter, tanks and munitions, one can hope that this situation resolves soon.

Happy Halloween: Pirate Dogs

On FlickerBlog

Daddy's Little... Wench?

"Gather any group of parents and you'll quickly hear about how the choices of costumes have gone from witch and princess to sexy witch and pouty porn princess," writes The Examiner in their roundup of sexually charged Halloween costumes marketed at tween and adolescent girls. Prudishness aside, I think I draw the line at a costume for young girls with the word "wench" in the title."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pirate Gold Coins Contaminated with Melamine

Pirate Fashion Week?


Last week was definitely not the best week for me to be bogged down with deadlines, I'd tell you what they were but then I'd have to build a plank (the old one fell down) and make you walk it, and I just don't have the time.

Apparently, all the popular ladies magazines AND the New York Times have decreed that pirates are "In" with a capital I this November. Which can be argued will trickle down to consumers in a flurry of stripes and petticoats this spring, and, with a little luck, I'll finally sell out the Tricorn Cocktail Hats that have been sitting in my shop...

More on these fancy pants developments throughout the month of November!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike Uncovers Shipwreck

After examining photos of the wreck post-Ike, Museum of Mobile marine archaeologist Shea McLean agreed it is likely the Monticello, which ran aground in 1862 after sailing from Havana, according to Navy records.
"Based on what we know of ships lost in that area and what I've seen, the Monticello is by far the most likely candidate," McLean said. "You can never be 100 percent certain unless you find the bell with 'Monticello' on it, but this definitely fits."
Other clues indicate it could be an early 20th century schooner that ran aground on the Alabama coast in 1933.
The wrecked ship is 136.9 feet long and 25 feet wide, according to Mike Bailey, site curator at Fort Morgan, who examined it this week. The Monticello was listed in shipping records as 136 feet long, McLean told the Press-Register of Mobile.

But Bailey said a 2000 report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined the remains were the schooner Rachel, built at Moss Point, Miss., in 1919 and wrecked near Fort Morgan in 1933.
Not a true pirate ship, but interesting none the less.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Stingrays In the News!

Chinese Fisherman caught a record breaking Stingray, weighing in near 3,300 pounds.

A stingray that kills its prey with a giant electric shock has been found off the coast of Britain, it emerged today.

The ocean monster, which generates a power surge so strong it is like being plugged into the mains, normally lives in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean.

Now experts fear shoals of marbled stingray - a relative of the fish that killed Australian crocodile hunter Steve Irwin - will invade Britain this summer due to global warming.

So British readers, be careful at Brighton.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rare Ancient Ship Relic Discovered

A lifeguard diving at the Yavne-Yam antiquities site next to Palmachim beach, south of Tel-Aviv, unearthed a rare marble discus that was used 2,500 years ago to protect sea-going vessels from the evil eye.

To date, only four such items have been found in the world – two of them here in Israel, one recovered from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast at Carmel in addition to the one at Yavne-Yam.

The ancient white marble discus, which dates back to 400-500 BCE, was discovered by David Shalom, who handed it over to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Whale Attack!

Whales are dangerous creatures and do attack ships at sea.
A Newfoundland skipper and his crew have a whale of a tale to tell after they had a run-in with a creature a few hours north of St. John's this week.

Kris Drodge and three friends were aboard his 8.5-metre sailboat Turanga when the boat collided with something big and stopped dead in the water.

"We saw this huge dorsal fin come out of the water and head straight for the boat," Drodge said. The fin got momentarily caught in the forward sail, or jib, of the sailboat.

"(The boat) was just like a toy to him," Drodge said, adding he ordered his passengers into life-jackets. When the whale left, Drodge could find no damage so they continued on - "but we were looking over our backs the whole time after that," he said.

Drodge and his companions are convinced the animal that struck their boat on Sunday was a killer whale, or orca.

"We were all pretty shaken up by it," he said. "I don't know if I'd want to go through it again. I think we were all thinking '"Are we going to survive this?' "

Whale expert Wayne Ledwell said he's never heard of an orca attacking a boat in Newfoundland waters. He thinks it might have been a humpback or perhaps a great white shark.

"Sometimes the whales are sleeping and when they sleep they're just bobbing in the water," he said. "A boat runs up on them and the whale thinks something is going on and tries to get out of the way."

Ledwell said there are a few reports every year of small boats encountering aggressive whales.

"This is pretty strange," he said. "But accidents do happen and you have to pay attention when you are around whales."


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pirate Attack Video

This Pirate Attack took place near Cuba in 1995.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Life in a Somalia's Pirate Town

From the BBC's Life in a Somalia's Pirate Town

A recent visitor to the town explained how, even though the number of pirates who actually take part in a hijacking is relatively small, the whole modern industry of piracy involves many more people.

"The number of people who make the first attack is small, normally from seven to 10," he said.

"They go out in powerful speedboats armed with heavy weapons. But once they seize the ship, about 50 pirates stay on board the vessel. And about 50 more wait on shore in case anything goes wrong."

Given all the other people involved in the piracy industry, including those who feed the hostages, it has become a mainstay of the Puntland economy.

Eyl has become a town tailor-made for pirates - and their hostages.

Special restaurants have even been set up to prepare food for the crews of the hijacked ships.

As the pirates want ransom payments, they try to look after their hostages.

When commandos from France freed two French sailors seized by pirates off the Somali coast this week, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had given the go-ahead for the operation when it was clear the pirates were headed for Eyl - it would have been too dangerous to try to free them from there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Henry Jenkins: Pirate?

So, if you've read my profile you know I'm a trans-media world developer; and if you know what that means, you probably already know who Henry Jenkins is. For those of you who don't he's a guy at MIT who studies media, and new media and its impact on the world.

He recently posted to his blog about intellectual property piracy

He briefly discusses the roots of what has caused intellectual property "piracy" in Asia to be so far reaching, and on to talk about the different uses of the word as it pertains to intellectual property in the Western Sphere. But the question that I've grappled with in talking about intellectual property piracy on this blog is addressed best here:
Does it make sense to refer to such practices as "piracy"? It's a debatable proposition but for the moment, many in the media industries are inclined to think of such consumer practices through a language of copyright theft and piracy. If we adopt that framework, then yes, I think there's a solid case to be made that "pirates" actually expand markets, over time, even if they cause short term "losses" for the initial rights holders. That said: I recognize that not all "piracy" follows such a pattern. There are a significant number of people out there who are exploiting the intellectual properties of others for their own financial gain and there are some who buy these materials because they don't want to pay the price being asked for this content. Nothing we say is going to change this basic dynamic, but the media industries could reduce some forms of "piracy" by better understanding what motivates it and reading it as symptomatic of the marketplace reasserting demand in the face of failures in supply.
In the same way, pirates in the Age of Exploration of the seas led to the expansion of commerce and global settlement. How do we look at this now? Are intellectual property pirates pirates? Pirates are outlaws. Pirates break the law. Is the guy in his room downloading a new release as liable as the merchant who sold pirated sugar in the New Amsterdam? What are your thoughts?

Can you really put intellectual property piracy in the same category in the same category as piracy on the high seas?