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?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Talking Whale and one who blows bubbles

Japanese scientists at the Kamogawa Sea World aquarium has been taught to speak.
Nack, a 23-year-old beluga whale at the Kamogawa Sea World aquarium in Chiba Prefecture, has been taught to make different noises for a bucket, diving goggles and a pair of diving fins, said Takashi Murayama, a professor at Tokai University who has been training the creature for the last five years.

"Beluga whales are very intelligent, friendly and they enjoy being trained in this way," he said.

"Right now Nack only knows three words, but we are working on the whale recognising different people and giving them a sound as well.

"After that, we want to teach it to express likes and dislikes, something that is interesting instead of boring, and be able to say if something is painful," he said.

Nack gives off short, high-pitched sounds to identify the diving fins, a long, higher-pitched note for the goggles and a short, lower tone for the bucket.

This is the first breakthrough for human-cetacean communication on modern record, outside of the movie Day of the Dolphin, where dolphins also learn how to blow up a ship.

The picture above is another Beluga whale in Japan, who has recently learned how to blow bubbles, can raspberries be far behind?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dolphin, Hero of the Sea

From Underwater Times:

Masbate, The Philippines -- A dolphin rescued a fisherman after his fishing boat capsized Saturday in the wake of typhoon "Frank" off Negros, although both of them died upon reaching the shore of Burias Island in Masbate.

Online news site Visayan Daily Star reported Thursday that a survivor who witnessed the incident recounted the episode Wednesday.

The dolphin rescued Joseph Cesdorio, 34, a fisherman from Cebu who was among the crew members of the F/B Nicole Louise 2, a Cadiz-based fishing boat...

The story of the dolphin’s heroism was corroborated by other survivors who were aboard the Nicole Louise 2. One of them told local radio reporters that because of what he witnessed, he vowed never to eat dolphin meat again.

The body of Cesdorio, which was retrieved from Burias Island, was among the four fatalities brought to Cadiz City and was claimed by his father who is a resident of San Jose, Cebu.

The Survivors have supposedly sworn off dolphin meat.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008