Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Frederic!

It's Leap Day! A day when I assume all pirates at sea would quake in fear at the prospect of being somehow swept off into some crazy alternate dimension based on the weirdness of the 4-year jump.

Happy Birthday to Frederic, The Pirate Apprentice, Juvenile Lead of The Pirates of Penzance( or the Slave of Duty) by Gilbert and Sullivan, who would be 33 today; comfortably aged out of his apprenticeship to a pirate, and also, long dead. It is indeed convenient for all that it was all sorted out around his 4th birthday because of his nursemaid's switching him at birth. If you'd like to relive the charming and oft performed operetta, check out the 1983 Kevin Kline and Angela Lansbury version. [Recommended drinking game: drink if anyone swoons, says Arrr! or does something unbelievably British]

Enjoy these Modern Major Generals to celebrate


For Showings of the Pirates of Penzance in your area:

Washington D.C.

Orlando, Florida

London, England

I'm sure there are more, go out and find them!

Calico Jack Rackam, Anne Bonney and Mary Read

Easily one of the most colorful famous pirates, "Calico Jack" Rackam was known by the colorful clothes he wore. What makes him famous however is two members of his crew, Anne Bonney and Mary Read.

Making a name for himself as Quartermaster on Captain Vane's ship until Vane was ousted and Calico Jack was elected captain. Rackam then plied the pirate trade around Jamaica with some small success. He made his way to the Bahamas and met Anne Bonney, they courted in earnest and when she became pregnant he sent her to friends in Cuba to care for her. Their money eventually ran low and Calico Jack convinced Anne to join him on the high seas, disguised as a man. They plundered small merchant vessels sailing from island to island in the West Indies. After her ship was captured Mary Read, disguised as a man, joined the crew. The two women bonded closely because among other things they clearly had in common, they were both pregnant.

While they mostly pirated small-time vessels when they stole the sloop, William, from Nassau Harbor, they drew the Governor's undivided attention. They were captured and taken to Jamaica for trial. Calico Jack was hanged, but Anne and Mary both escaped the noose because of their pregnancies, the innocent child being protected from execution by English Common Law.

Anne's response to her husband's death is recorded in Defoe's General History of the Pyrates,

that she was sorry to see him there, but if he had fought like a man, he need not have been hanged like a dog.
Mary Read died in prison, either from a fever or from childbirth. Anne Bonney, however, did not stay in prison forever, there is evidence that her father ransomed her and she returned home to South Carolina.
Evidence provided by the descendants of Anne Bonny suggests that her father managed to secure her release from gaol and bring her back to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackam's second child. On 21 December 1721 she married a local man, Joseph Burleigh, and they had eight children. She died in South Carolina, a respectable woman, at the age of eighty-four and was buried on 25 April 1782.

Pirates in the News! February 29, 2008

Ahrrrr, News.

Since I am writing to all of you from America, in the grand tradition of American news outlets I'll lead with the Oscars.

Best Actor Winner, Daniel Day Lewis sets new Pirate Earring Trend.

Ok, now to harder news,

Nigeria, how pirate your news is, The Nigerian Navy has been assuring the world that they have their pirate problem under control, and in recent weeks, there have been many reports of pirates killed and captured in raids. Despite these reports, the Lagos newspaper, Vanguard, is suggesting that all these assurances are simply politicking to comfort the business sector. Some of the pirate attacks in Nigeria's Bonny Channel have been attributed to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
According to a statement from the official address of MEND, signed by Gbomo Jomo, MEND's "freelance fighters" carried out the attack.In another response to THIS DAY inquiries, MEND said it was true that it has acquired sophisticated weapons with which it hopes to battle the Nigerian State to a standstill and promised to hit only military targets.

A Russian-British Tugboat, the Switser-Korsakov is being held by pirates in Mogadishu with its entire crew. Many are worried about the state of the crew:
The situation is even more complicated as the age of the tugboat’s captain is 70 years, chief engineer – 67 that may negatively affects their health in case of long captivity.
Many questions surround the ship's capture, including, what will the Russian Federation do to help?

Meteorologists are concerned about pirates stealing high-tech and highly important Tsunami Warning Buoys near Indonesia. They have been working with the Indonesian Government to increase patrols in the area. If the buoys are stolen then millions are at risk, early warning being humans' only defense against Tsunamis.

The Cougar Ace, a deep sea cargo transport capsized off Alaska and was the subject of rescue attempts documented in Wired. The story is great, and so are the images.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Pirate Link Linktacular

If you like pirateology, you might enjoy these:

Ask a Pirate

The Pirate's Dilema

Pirate's Vs. Ninjas Blog

Pirate Booty for Pirate Talkers


Swarvski Crystal Pirate Watch

Skull Speakers

I'm on Technorati

Hey Folks,

I'm on Technorati, help me increase my blog's profile, it'll lead to better pirate blogging, I promise.

Technorati Profile

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pirate Humor- I Want to Date a Pirate

From the Best of Craigslist: I Want to Date a Pirate

What the *$^% is: Careening

Wooden ships are highly succeptable to rot, parasites and other things that could destroy the integrity of their hulls. Therefore, every few voyages a ship has to be pulled onshore and its hull exposed so that pieces can be replaced, treated, and otherwise refurbished. This is still true of ships today.

The same sort of repairs take place in dry docks, but most pirates didn't have access to such luxury.

Book Review: Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe

Finally, the final review of a Christmas present,

Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe.

For those of you who have read Gene Wolfe, you won't be surprised that there is a bit of time-bending by the main character of this book, for those of you who haven't don't be surprised that there's time-bending in this book. That said, Gene Wolfe has created a very entertaining adventure story chopped full of historical facts artfully intermingled with high-seas adventure.

The main character, Christopher, whose name changes based on which language is being spoken at the time is swept away by the currents of romance, the promise of riches and the deep and visceral pull of the sea.

Wolfe's portrayal of bucaneering on Hispanola and his artful portrayal of the many layers of Spanish colonialism. The interplay between factions in the Caribbean is intriguing and often humorous.

The most telling thing about Wolfe's settings for me was the inclusion of little details, like anyone who has spent time in the Caribbean, he's aware of the omnipresence of mosquitoes. They're so annoying and they don't go away, and they don't go away in the book. I hate mosquitoes, they're at best disease carrying parasites that cause me nothing but pain and horrid, horrid itching; but that only made the book more charming for me.

Four out of Five Hooks!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Russian Space Pirates Melt Your Synapses

(redirected from ) As though you aren't already frantically clicking on the link, really. But this takes you to a shall we say... idiosyncratic europop track by the Russian Band Mummy Troll done in epic Space pirate style. WARNING the CAMP-O-METER is at 800 right now, and it's a 1 to 10 scale.

PS: check the creepy yelling little girl alien choir out. odd.

Pirate Links- Search the Abyss

Perhaps you thought I'd forgotten about sea monsters? well I haven't.

Check out Search The Abyss

Pirates in the News! February 11, 2008

Ah me hearties. I have been remiss in my informing you of news piratical and nautical in the past several weeks, due to plagues and such, allow me to now fill you in.

First of all! I must share the most important news: My first mate, the adorable, 10-month-old rapscallian Beatrix has spoken her first "Arrrrr!"

now for news less dear and often more fearsome:

This glorious ship, the Tara, has finally returned from a scientific trip to the North Pole. It had been deliberately stuck in the ice off Siberia for 500 days; but is now warm and toasty in Norway.

Australians are examining traditional methods of fishing in reefs as a major part of their conservation plans. Pointing out how traditional taboos keep reefs from being exploited or overfished. Obviously, these cultural taboos break down near more populated areas.

“We need to find additional ways to help protect the worlds’ coral reefs – which support 500 million people – from overexploitation, which are locally and culturally appropriate. The most promising in a great many communities seems to be the one that has worked for centuries. However we also need to help these systems evolve so they can continue to work despite the pressures of the modern world.”

One of the world's most infamous pirate fishing vessels the Viarsa 1 has been reported to have been scrapped in Mumbai.
“At last an appropriate conclusion has been reached after a long process undertaken by the Australian government, although this vessel is just one on a long list of boats that, under the cover of flags of convenience, illegally poach Patagonian toothfish
(Chilean Sea-Bass) stocks in the Southern Ocean”.
This comes from the head of Oceana, an environmental group. The international court case against the Virasa 1 has brought a lot of attention to pirate fishing and given the extinction rate of fish in Earth's oceans, conservation and sustainability are essential issues for everyone.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Nautical Superstitions

Never Say the word Drowned aboard ship

Horrible Things That Happen at Sea: Scurvy

The Pirateologist General's St. Brigid's Day Scurvy Spectacular!!!!

A friend of mine is ill and among the various things that she has recently been diagnosed with is Scurvy. Now, one thinks to oneself, Scurvy? really? Scurvy indeed!

Scurvy is not just a disease confined to historical pirates but a disease that ravages people today who for various reasons have vitamin C deficiencies. Just like Gout is making a comeback because of people drinking high-fructose corn syrup. Among things you don't need, Gout should be up there near the top.

But, today is about Scurvy, from the wikipedia:

Scurvy was probably first observed as a disease by Hippocrates.[4] In the 13th century the Crusaders suffered from scurvy frequently, and it has inflicted terrible losses on both besieged and besieger in times of war. Scurvy was one of the limiting factors of marine travel, often killing large numbers of the passengers and crew on long-distance voyages. It even played a significant role in World War I.

The British civilian medical profession of 1614 knew that it was the acidic principle of citrus fruit which was lacking, although they considered any acid as acceptable when ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) was unavailable. In 1614 John Woodall (Surgeon General of the East India Company) published his book "The Surgion's Mate" as a handbook for apprentice surgeons aboard the company's ships. In it he described scurvy as resulting from a dietary deficiency. His recommendation for its cure was fresh food or, if not available, oranges, lemons, limes and tamarinds, or as a last resort, Oil of Vitriol (sulfuric acid).[5]

Modern Incidences of Scurvy are still rare but can occur in infants and people with additional health problems.

Symptoms of Scurvy include:
Scurvy is fairly easy to treat though, as long as it is addressed all it requires is resumption of proper vitamin c intake.

Though the connection between Vitamin C and scurvy was identified specifically in the 1950s, many treatments had been used by sailors and pirates alike in past centuries.
"The plant known as 'scurvy grass" acquired its name from the observation that it cured scurvy, but this was of no great help to those who spent months at sea. During sea voyages, it was discovered that sauerkraut was of extremely limited use in preventing scurvy.[citation needed] In the Royal Navy's Arctic expeditions in the 19th century it was widely believed that scurvy was prevented by good hygiene on board ship, regular exercise, and maintaining the morale of the crew, rather than by a diet of fresh food, so that Navy expeditions continued to be plagued by scurvy even while fresh meat was well-known as a practical antiscorbutic among civilian whalers and explorers in the Arctic. At the time Robert Falcon Scott made his two expeditions to the Antarctic in the early 20th century, the prevailing medical theory was that scurvy was caused by "tainted" canned food.

The use of limes by the British Royal Navy to prevent scurvy gave rise to the name "limey" for an English immigrant in the former British colonies (particularly America, New Zealand and South Africa). The use of this word has been extended to include all British people in American slang. [6]

In 1927, Hungarian biochemist Szent-Györgyi (who won the 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine) isolated the compound "hexuronic acid" while working with antioxidant compounds in the adrenal cortex. [7] It was not until 1932 that the connection between vitamin C and scurvy was established by American researcher Charles Glen King of the University of Pittsburgh. [8]