Monday, September 29, 2008


I'm not talking about the financial crisis, I'm not talking election, I'm talking good ol' fashioned horrible s**t going down abroad.

Ready to get your conspiracy on? ready to suddenly feel a little queasy? good,

because after boarding an Iranian ship and trying to open some locked crates a group of pirates died in horrible ways. Now, as cool as it would be for me to say curses or voodoo, this comes down to good old fashioned nuclear or biological or horrible thing you don't want to know about weapons.

Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: “We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.”

The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.

The drama over the Iran Deyanat comes as speculation grew this week about whether the South African Navy would send a vessel to join the growing multinational force in the region.

A naval spokesman, Lieutenant-Commander Greyling van den Berg, told the Sunday Times that the navy had not been ordered by the government to become involved in “the Somali pirate issue”.

About 22000 ships a year pass through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden, where regional instability and “no-questions-asked” ransom payments have led to a dramatic rise in attacks on vessels by heavily armed Somali raiders in speedboats.

The Iran Deyanat was sailing in those waters on August 21, past the Horn of Africa and about 80 nautical miles southeast of Yemen, when it was boarded by about 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They were alleged members of a crime syndicate said to be based at Eyl, a small fishing village in northern Somalia.

The ship is owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, or IRISL, a state-owned company run by the Iranian military.

This has led to a tense standoff in Somalia with Russian troops heading into the area with tanks and other things that generally could be used for sandblasting a toothpick.
Initially it was claimed the cargo contained “crude oil”; later it was said to be “minerals”.

And Mwangura has added: “Our sources say it contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals.”

But IRISL has denied that — and threatened legal action against Mwangura. The company has reportedly paid the pirates 200000 — the first of several “ransom instalments”, but that, too, has been denied.

Right Whale Glamour Shots

Wired's Pirate Week!

Wired did a series of articles leading up to International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Check out 9 Pirate Myths Examined, Six Random Peglegs and 5 Pirate Video Games.

They also linked this awesome article, Did Pirates Really Say "Arrr"?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Google Goes to Sea

As a way to find a haven from national privacy laws, Google is talking about creating server farms at sea.
Perhaps Google's literally offshore experiment in information technology implies a coming world of privatized services at sea. A fleet of tankers shows up in a nearby port one day... and suddenly your city has telephone services. It's Archigram's instant city all over again, but on the level of specific – and highly billable – urban amenities. The services show up. The network takes over. Your city will never be the same.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sharks... eek

Sharks are a great fear of mine, and I don't think it's entirely irrational. Aquariums aside, were I interacting with a shark, it seems likely that the chances would be high that the shark would be at the advantage.

Also, Damien Hurst's freaky art piece has been a fixture in my nightmares since Sensation.

So, we know where I stand on the issue of sharks. That said though, they're fascinating creatures.

In the interest of discussing these elegant and terrifying creatures, here's some recent shark news.

Over 100 new species of sharks and rays have been recently identified. Despite these newly identified species, Sharks are in peril globally. Like other predators, they are over-hunted, either for their fins for popular soups, or as trophies.

Sharks reputations are pretty poor, much like wolves which were hunted nearly to extinction in North America, but like wolves, are essential parts of the ecosystem.

Shark attacks on humans are a terrifying specter since the beginning of the 20th century when sea-bathing first became an accepted recreational activity. Since then, there has been a tug of war between reporting shark attacks and protecting the interests of tourism.

One of the most interesting sites I've recently run across is Shark Conspiracies, which points out some areas where reporting of shark attacks is lax.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pirates in the News! September 2008

In July, 15-22 Filipino sailors (depending on the article) were captured and held hostage by pirates in Somalia with the cargo ship, the Stella Maris, they were crewing. The crew was ransomed and released.
Later in the summer,
Nigerian authorities arrested 15 Filipinos suspected of stealing crude oil. The Filipinos denied the charges but were arraigned Tuesday.

They were arrested while aboard MT Lina Panama, which is laden with stolen crude at Brass. Rev Chavez, the ship’s captain, was quoted as arguing that they don’t know about the stolen crude, and they were just victims of an attack orchestrated by suspected pirates in Nigeria.

The independent newspaper The Nation, which showed a picture of the Filipinos in its Friday edition, quoted Chavez as saying they were on their way to Angola from Cotonou, the capital of Benin, when they were attacked.

The ship captain added that they were locked in a cabin for several hours before they were rescued by Nigerian security troops.

Theft of crude oil from the Niger Delta by armed gangs and pirates and their foreign collaborators costs Lagos millions of dollars in lost revenue every year.Nigeria is one of the world’s top oil producers and trouble there impacts on global prices of oil.

In 2006 and 2007, a rise in illegal activities was observed in Africa, with frequent attacks on foreign oil concerns and a rash of abductions of expatriate staff.

A few days ago in Nigeria, it was reported that MEND had destroyed an important oil pipeline.

"Fighters from MEND using high explosives have destroyed a major pipeline belonging to Shell Development Company at the Elem-Kalabari Cawthorne Channel axis in Rivers state," the group said in an email to the media.

The group said the attack took place around 6:30 pm (1730 GMT), but gave few other details except to say that its men bumped into an army patrol that begged for mercy.

There was no immediate confirmation from Shell.

"We are checking. We've also heard the report. It requires us going to that area to check," spokesman Precious Okolobo told AFP.

Attacks like these highlight the unrest in the region that has led to the upswing in piracy in recent years.

Similarly, 29 were killed in Mogadishu, Somalia.

More directly piratically;

It's been a big month for France in the efforts against piracy on the world stage. President Sarkosy urged more action to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden in the wake of French Forces saving a French Couple from pirates holding them hostage. One pirate was killed and six captured during the raid. Sarkosy has been piracy's most vocal opponent since the capture of La Ponant in March.

In Asia, the Philipene Government has commented on how upset they are about the recent spate of pirate attacks, including the Greek ship hijacked last week. Filipinos as at risk because of the high numbers of Filipino seafarers that man the vulnerable ships in the waters around Somalia.

The Danish warship Absalon also captured 2 suspected pirate vessels off the Horn of Africa, pirate motherships? Pawns in an international game of one upmanship trying to out-capture the French? Baseless conjecture on my part? only time will tell...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Olympic Sturgeon defeated by Baracuda

One of the five "Official Fish of the 2008 Olympic Games", a rare Sturgeon, was "fatally eaten" by a Barracuda in a Hong Kong aquarium before it was scheduled to be ceremonially presented to kick off the Equestrian events in Hong Kong.

In the spirit of competition, I think the Barracuda should have gotten its place.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pirates in the News! Hall of Fame

On August 27, 2008, a gang of four masked men boarded the $40 million yacht, Tiara, in the Mediterranean and over the course of 10 minutes made off with $200,000 worth of jewelry, art and other goods.
Attacks on luxury yachts are common off the coasts of Africa and in the Far East, but are still a rarity in European waters. The French coastguard added last night that until this latest attack, there had been no notable piracy attacks on large vessels for several years in the Mediterranean.
No one was hurt in the attack and the pirates made off with their booty in a speedboat. While no one likes being robbed, I have to say that as pirates go, this is what you would want to see, no muss, no fuss, no injuries.

As a bit of Trivia, the value of the items they stole would be almost enough to rent the yacht for 3 days.

The AyePhone

Talk like a pirate for your iphone. Arrr.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How to Talk Like a Space Pirate

Thanks to Talk Like A Pirate Day, blogs laid in a significant number of pirate entries in the last week.

Expect them in the coming posts.

Nautical Superstitions

A shark following the ship is a sign of inevitable death.
Sharks were believed to be able to sense those near death.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nautical Superstitions

Loosening a mop or bucket overboard is a sign of bad luck.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hi Pirates

You've probably noticed, the blog has been on autopilot for ... at least a month.

But that said, I've been moving, my family is almost settled in its new port, and my internet is almost set up there.

But I promise a substantive post shortly, my brain is being unpacked.

Meanwhile, remember that Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up, so brush up on your nautical terms, there will be a quiz.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Nautical Superstitions

Turning over a hatch will cause the hold to fill with seawater.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nautical Superstitions

Cutting your hair or nails at sea is bad luck.
These were used as offerings to Proserpina, and Neptune will become jealous if these offerings are made while in his kingdom.