Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So, it's pretty obvious this blog is on hiatus right now, and... for at least a few more months.

It's not because I'm not fascinated by pirates, I am. Or that there's no new news, there is. Or even that I'm insanely busy, though I'm that too.

My blogging attentions have been drawn elsewhere, to this:

I hope you enjoy it as much if not more than my musings on piracy, because for the rest of the summer, Jurassic Park Slope is where I'm at.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

XKCD- Marooned

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Pirates Life for these four dudes

So, Gawker has turned me on to these guys:
Now will you look at this, what a thing, four fellas have decided to sail around the world, being pirates, on a boat called "Your Mom," and it will all be a big adventure if nothing else, amirite? The only thing they didn't consider: while they're making "booty" by selling t-shirts and also, who knows, maybe by literally manufacturing booty from a shipboard matter fabricator, they're sailing right into the hands of the REAL pirates, who are mighty pissed off right now.
They definitely get a post because of their mission statement, from The Pirates Life:
Many have asked "Are for real? Do you really plan to leave?" I feel I needed to answer. If you have any other questions please use the contact form and ask.

Our intentions are to cast off from the docks to circumnavigate the globe on our sailboat named "Your Mom". You do want to watch as we board "Your Mom" and ride her all around the world don't you? We have no preconceived notions of breaking records like some do. We give the people that challenge those records the up most respect for being complete badasses but in all seriousness we're just too lazy for that. Our plan will be much the opposite. Living as sailing nomads that float from one adventure to the next without being constrained by schedules and time like we're so accustomed to here in the United States.

We're simply trying to do something that we've always wanted to do - to see places in the world that we have dreamed of instead of working everyday just to maintain our status in a society that tells us what to think, how to act, and that we will never have enough. Each of us have our own reasons personally for deciding to make the voyage - reasons you can learn about by looking through our personal logs or by reading more on the crew. We hope that you get to know us by visiting the website often. You'll be able to read our logs, look at videos, pictures, send us mail, and even keep track of us by watching our satellite tracker on the map.

In the Booty section you can help to support the adventure by purchasing our T-shirts. I'm positive you'll find them to your liking. Humorous they are...

Remember, we've put up this website because we realize that many people wish they could take on this adventure themselves, but for one reason or another they aren't able to. Consider this venue your spot aboard "Your Mom". Your way to be apart of every adventure, ridiculous idea, screw up, and every awesome time we will have. We hope that you'll get involved and send us messages. From time to time we will have contests that allow some of our "Fans" to join us on the boat for a week at a time. Wouldn't you dig flying into a random incredible place to meet us at the docks? So please share our dream with as many as possible, pillage our booty, and become our friends.

- Chris
I will keep you posted, dear readers, as more develops...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: wrapup of rumor and announcements

Now, usually I don't talk about Pirates of the Caribbean, but hey, what can I say, recent news items are just too entertaining not to. Disney has announced many plans surrounding the fourth film, but the most interesting news is coming from the production office is what prompted me to finally post about this upcoming piratestravaganza.

Penelope Cruz is a member of the cast!and Ian McShane is slated to play Blackbeard in the film. Frankly, he could play the goat and it would still make me post about it, he's that good.

Also, the casting call is out, but ladies, the augmented need not apply

The filmmakers sent out a casting call last week seeking "beautiful female fit models. Must be 5ft7in-5ft8in, size 4 or 6, no bigger or smaller. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants."

And they warn that there'll be a "show and tell" day.

To make sure LA talent scouts don't get caught in a "booby trap," potential lassies will have to undergo a Hollywood-style jiggle-your-jugs test and jog for judges. If there's nothing moving from the waist up, they're saying, it's a dead giveaway that you're not all flesh and bones—and you're out.

Ah Casting so lurid and degrading, as Gawker asks:

How is that not sexual harassment? On the other hand: Is there any way to prove veracity of breasts without sexually harassing?

"In the last movie, there were enhanced breasts to give that 18th-century whorish look, and men were pretty well padded too, and no one worried," a former casting agent said. "But times are changing, and the audience can spot false breasts."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pirates in the News: March 2010- Part 2: Zaniness

In Zany Pirate News:

from The Village Voice-

America's most notorious Ponzi family are now calling themselves "the Morgans." At least some of the Madoff clan have adopted that name: Stephanie Madoff, second wife of Bernie Madoff's son Mark Madoff, has gone to court for the name change for her and her kids Audrey and Nicholas.

The Post calls the new name "far less controversial," but it's a rum choice and not really a change but more of a synonym. The most famous "Morgan" brand name in the world — Captain Morgan rum — derives directly from Captain Henry Morgan, one of the most dangerous 17th century Caribbean pirates and the inspiration for numerous books and movies.

In Europe there are several Zany pirate news stories-

A dozen centuries-old shipwrecks -- some of them unusually well-preserved -- have been found in the Baltic Sea by a gas company building an underwater pipeline between Russia and Germany.

The oldest wreck probably dates back to medieval times and could be up to 800 years old, while the others are likely from the 17th to 19th centuries, Peter Norman of Sweden's National Heritage Board said Tuesday.

Not to mention, PIRATE SKULL was stolen from a German Museum

It was not immediately clear how and when the cranium vanished but staff at the Hamburg History Museum reported it missing on January 9.

The skull impaled on a large rusty nail was discovered in 1878 during construction for a warehouse district in an area where pirates had earlier been beheaded and their heads displayed on spikes as a grisly warning.

The museum had long displayed the cranium, which was already missing a jawbone, as belonging to Stoertebeker, who is believed to have been executed in 1401 with 30 henchmen outside the walls of the Hanseatic League city.

Finally, if you're anywhere near Virginia Beach, check out 'Real Pirates' exhibit at Nauticus marine science museum in Norfolk.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Entertainment Industry runs screaming from "Pirate"

"Some of those concerned about online copyright infringement now realize that they may have created a monster by using the term "piracy." This week, at the unveiling of a new study for the International Chamber of Commerce which argued that 1.2 million jobs could be lost in Europe as a result of copyright infringement by 2015, the head of the International Actors' Federation lamented the term.

"We should change the word piracy... To me, piracy is something adventurous, it makes you think about Johnny Depp. We all want to be a bit like Johnny Depp. But we're talking about a criminal act. We're talking about making it impossible to make a living from what you do."

Translation: we should have chosen a less-sexy term.

from Boing Boing:

After years of trying to cloud the public mind by calling it "piracy" instead of "unauthorised downloading," key copyright industry reps are starting to realize that "piracy" actually sounds kind of cool. So now they're lobbying for the even less intellectually rigorous term "theft," which describes an entirely different offence, enumerated in an altogether different section of the lawbooks.

To thoroughly mix up the metaphors here, I'm gonna suggest they're closing the barn door after the horse ran away.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pirates in the News: March 2010- Part 1: SocioPolitical News

There's been plenty going on in the world of piracy: Pirates have captured ships from: the UK, Norway, Dubai, and many others. Pirates have released ships from: North Korea, the Virgin Islands, Taiwan, all after receiving ransoms. The UN forces patrolling the area have sunk pirate ships, captured pirates, rescued pirates, freed a ship and sunk still other ships.

The EU naval forces have adopted a new strategy to fight pirates:

The new tactics by the European Union naval force comes after Spain - which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, and whose fishing vessels are frequent pirate targets - encouraged more aggressive pursuit of pirates and the coalition obtained more aircraft and other military assets, said Rear Adm. Peter Hudson, the force commander.

The EU Naval Force attacked 12 groups of pirate vessels, which normally includes several skiffs and a mother vessel, this month, more than last year. Half of those attacks were on the high seas and half close to shore, reflecting the new strategy to intercept pirates before they reach deep water and international shipping lanes.

And while attacks have increased, the percentage of successful attacks declined in 2009:

There were 198 attempts at piracy in the vast region last year, a 62% increase from 2008, but only 44 attempts were successful. In 2008, there were 122 attempts and 42 successful acts of piracy.

But there's more than just the reports of the events of the skirmishes in the Gulf of Aden, also in the news are Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British Couple captured by pirates. Mrs. Chandler claims that a pirate attempted to sexually assault her, and Somali president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed claims that efforts are being made to free the couple.

Pirate gangs are also increasingly attacking WFO and UN aid caravans,
Pirates have been a growing problem off Somalia’s coast for the past two years, hijacking dozens of ships and collecting tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments. Mr. Smerdon said the pirates, aided by the “local community,” attacked the food trucks after they dropped off emergency rations in central Somalia, and Somali officials said the pirates wanted jailed colleagues released in exchange for the trucks and the drivers...

Somalia’s aid operation, one of the biggest in the world, seems to be constantly running into new obstacles. In January, the World Food Program pulled out of several areas of the southern part of the country, saying that its Somali staff was being threatened by Al Shabab, an Islamist insurgent group known for chopping off hands and detonating suicide bombs.

In the past two weeks, trucks carrying food aid have been turned back from checkpoints outside of Mogadishu, imperiling a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of displaced people. United Nations officials said it was Shabab fighters who were blocking the deliveries, though Somalis in the area said some of the checkpoints were manned by Hizbul Islam, an extremist group that often works with the Shabab.
By attacking internationally supported groups, pirate gangs have an opportunity to leverage the political clout of these organizations to attempt to pursue new goals, like the release of prisoners. Which leads into the continuing quagmire of legal enforcement and trial of pirates. A Somali Court has given 15 year sentences to a group of 11 pirates:
Prosecutors at the court in Berbera, in the breakaway northern state of Somaliland, brought a number of charges against the men, including piracy and attempted armed kidnapping.

They showed the court photos obtained from NATO naval forces showing the pirates when they were arrested last December.

"The trial, which lasted a week, was finally concluded today after the evidence brought before the court showed that the eleven were involved in piracy and hijacking. The court finally announced its verdict -- a jail term of 15 years each", Osman Ibrahim Dahir, the presiding judge, told AFP by phone from Berbera.

The pirates were detained last December after they attacked an international naval force ship mistaking it for a commercial ship off the Somali coast.

and, resolving part of the question of "where do you try a pirate?"

Kenya has taken “a step of great responsibility” by agreeing to prosecute suspected pirates, a US State Department official said on Thursday.

The comments by Mr Tom Countryman, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, are among the few positive expressions that the US has voiced recently in regard to Kenyan government actions.

... “We recognise, in particular, that Kenya has stepped forward and offered itself as a site for the prosecution of suspected pirates,” he said.

Nearly 300 Somalis suspected of piracy have been captured in the past year, with most having been turned over to Kenya, the US official noted.

While Kenya may offer part of the solution to this problem there are a bevy of other legal questions to resolve, for instance:

the US Supreme Court is s questioning whether a former prime minister of Somalia can be sued in U.S. courts for allegedly overseeing killings and other atrocities.

Mohamed Ali Samantar was defense minister and prime minister of Somalia in the 1980s and early 1990s under dictator Siad Barre. But he now lives in Virginia, and some of his victims have sued him under the Torture Victim Protection Act.

Samantar claimed immunity as a former foreign government official. His victims say that immunity doesn’t count, because he is no longer a Somali official, and that foreign immunity is for countries, not people.

Justices, however, wondered how they are supposed to draw a line between suing a country, and suing the people who act on behalf of that country.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pirate Book Club: The Invisible Hook

Hey all,

This month I'm choosing The Invisible Hook for the perusal of the Pirate Book Club, which I'm also more or less initiating right now. I'll review the book at the end of the month and want to hear what any and all of you think about it and its ideas.

So enjoy this romp into the economic implications of historical buccaneers in their own context and lets think about how they influence our own.

The Invisible Hook is an excellent book by one of the most creative young economists around.
(Steven D. Levitt Freakonomics blog )

A brisk, clever new book, The Invisible Hook, by Peter T. Leeson, an economist who claims to have owned a pirate skull ring as a child and to have had supply-and-demand curves tattooed on his right biceps when he was seventeen, offers a different approach. Rather than directly challenging pirates' leftist credentials, Leeson says that their apparent espousal of liberty, equality, and fraternity derived not from idealism but from a desire for profit.

(Caleb Crain New Yorker )

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse on Trial in New York

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, who is facing charges in New York City for the 2008 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama is up against some new charges. In addition to the Maersk Alabama charge two more charges have been brought against the young man by the Justice Department:

The superseding indictment filed by the Justice Department in Manhattan federal court alleges that Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse hijacked a ship traveling the Indian Ocean in March 2009. He and his accomplices held the captain and crew of the vessel hostage, during which time he threatened one of the hostages with an improvised explosive device (IED).

Muse and his associates allegedly used the ship to take control of another vessel in April 2009.

Appearing in court to be indicted on those charges Muse appeared calm. As other accused pirates incarcerated in Europe have seen, this may simply because jail offers an opportunity for leisure and supply a frequency of amenities, like clean water and consistent, large meals; that those who turn to piracy have never before experienced.

Interviews with Muse's parents seem to imply a story of a young man led astray, but the additional charges imply that prosecutors do not believe that Muse is a wide-eyed first-time offender.

Muse's personal details are murky, with his parents in Somalia insisting he was tricked into getting involved in piracy. His age also remained unclear. His parents said he is only 16, but U.S. law enforcement said he is at least 18, meaning prosecutors will not have to take extra legal steps to try him in a U.S. court.

Muse's mother said she has no records to prove his age, but she and the teen's father say he is 16. "I never delivered my babies in a hospital," she said. "A traditional midwife helped me deliver."

A classmate, however, said he believed Muse could be older — and that he studied English at school.

"I think he was one or two years older than me, and I am 16," said Abdisalan Muse, reached by telephone in Galkayo. "We did not know him to be a pirate, but he was always with older boys, who are likely to be the ones who corrupted him..."

...Muse grew up poor in a one-room home, the eldest child of a divorced mother, in one of the most impoverished, violent countries in the world. A nation of around 8 million people, Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. A quarter of Somali children die before age 5 and nearly every public institution has collapsed.

Muse's mother sells milk at a small market every day, saving around $6 every month for school fees for her oldest son. She pays 15 dollars a month in rent.

"I cried when I saw the picture of him," Hassan said, referring to the photo of her son being led in handcuffs in New York. "Relatives brought a copy of the picture to me. Surely he is telling himself now, 'My mother's heart is broken."'

She said the last time she saw her son in person, she was pushing him out the door so he would not be late for school.

Since that day weeks ago, he simply disappeared. Asked why she believed he left, Hassan was at a loss.

"A young man, at his age, could say he needed money, perhaps," she said. "I used to give him his school fee because I could not afford more than that. But of course he needed money."

The boy's father, Abdiqadir Muse, said the pirates lied to his son, telling him they were going to get money. The family is penniless, he said.

"He just went with them without knowing what he was getting into," Muse said in a separate telephone interview with the AP through an interpreter.

He also said it was his son's first outing with the pirates after having been taken from his home about a week and a half before he surrendered at sea to U.S. officials.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paul and Rachel Chandler Updates

While Paul and Rachel Chandler have been hostages in Africa for over 100 days, no ransom has been paid for their release. They were separated, then reunited, and under constant death threats that have been reiterated to the international community by their captors, hoping to move a ransom along.

Rachel Chandler recently interviewed by news sources and had said that they were going to be "killed within days". Their captors have also said that they would rather die than release the British couple without recompense.

A doctor was allowed to visit each Chandler separately and his found the pair to be fairing as well as they might be, considering:

The doctor's verdict on 60-year-old Mr Chandler was that he was in slightly better health but with a bad cough and a mild fever.

The health of the Chandlers could well be the key issue in this process.

Dr Helmi said the pirates did not seem to be beating their captives, but equally they did not seem to care about making them comfortable.

"They are being held under trees, in very hot conditions - 39C.

"You cannot imagine the food they are eating and the water they are drinking - very bad."

Even so, there are no reported cases of pirates killing captives - either deliberately or through neglect.

The pirates say that negotiations are under way, but like any complex business deal, these things take time.

Somali sources close to the pirates say negotiations "are under way", although they refused to say what exactly was being discussed.

But the experience of other shipping companies suggests the longer the process continues, the more expensive it becomes.

There are reports of pirates delivering itemised invoices, detailing costs such as fuel for their boats, food for the captives and gunmen, ammunition, satellite telephone calls and so on.

The gunmen holding the Chandlers will be running up similar expenses, and security analysts say they will expect to turn a profit.

The Chandlers video statements - and the visit by the doctor - are almost certainly a part of the captors' strategy to put pressure on their family to find the money.

The gunmen are in total control, and nobody gets in to see the hostages, or no message gets out, that they do not think will help their cause.

There seems little doubt the Chandlers are suffering, but just as doubtless is the fact it suits the pirates for the world to know it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pirates in the Media: February 6, 2010

Pirates are all over the place in the hearts and minds here in America, the Gasparailla festival was last week, rumors about Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides which begins shooting this summer, are weekly news items, and for those of you inclined to add a bit of piracy to your everyday life, here are some video game options to bring high seas action to your living room.

10 Iphone/Ipod apps with piratical themes

The Final Tales of The Secret of Monkey Island are available for the Wii.

Captain Kidd's Cannon will be on display at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

and Little Big Planet has Pirates of the Caribbean content.

But Pirateologist, you might ask, what line item can you offer to amuse and possibly terrify me RIGHT NOW that proves that the high seas are more than simply sackboys, monkeys and plastic swords for the kids? The answer is here, and I leave you with this note so you are forwarned about the dangers that still lurk beneath the oft halcyon surface of the murky deep.

That's right, let that one sink in for a moment.

After some initial communication difficulties because of his distress, the crew was able to determine the patient had been fishing from the ship when the sting occurred.

Air crewman Geoff Abrahams said it was an "incredible case".

"Realistically, what are the chances of being stung by a jellyfish when you are safely on board a bulk carrier, 25 metres above the water," Mr Abrahams said.

"This is one of the most fascinating tasks I've worked on."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pirates in the News: February 4, 2010

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, emerging successful systems gotta propagate until they reach the boundaries of their sustainability, therefore pirates gotta hijack cargo on the high seas.

That said, Pirates have captured ships from Libya, Cambodia, one full of Hyndais that the car company seems bent on spinning into PR soundbites, one from Singapore, etc... In fact it has reported that pirate attacks are almost doubled between 2008 and 2009. There is plenty of teeth gnashing, gun waving, and suggestions of a harder line approach and analysis of why even with increased military intervention piracy continues to grow.

Somali based pirate rings are expanding their areas of operation, and increasing their numbers because what their doing is revitalizing the economy of their region. Not only are they setting up financial exchanges and investing in real estate, but the depleted fishing along the coast of the Horn of Africa is recovering from the overfishing by international companies, and fisherman along the coast as far as Kenya are able to increasingly maintain their livelihood, all thanks to the threat of pirate attack in those waters.
Fisherman in Kenya have reported bumper catches of shark and shellfish because commercial fishing boats from China and Japan have been scared away.

Now the fishermen are able to catch up to £200 worth of fish per day in an area where the average daily earnings are less than £5.

Like other tax-free areas that maintain their autonomy in complex regions, Somalia's quasi-independent Puntland is seeing a rebirth nourished by the thriving piracy industry.

Ransoms continue to be paid and ships continue to be released with efficiency, even when one sees high profile incidents like shootouts once ransoms have been paid where pirates take out their own compatriots. The simple truth is that most tankers captured are ransomed and released, at increasingly profitable rates for pirates. It's no picnic for sailors but piracy is too effective and distributed to be going away any time soon and shippers have to adapt.

While the military efforts against piracy are continuing to capture and thwart some attacks, finding their resources stretched, the question of what one does with a captured pirate is no less clear than it was two years ago. Different countries suggest that international tribunals are the answer, individual countries try the pirates their warships capture but run into problems both political and legal with a frequency that makes it difficult to create any single method for trial in any one country, much less internationally. Some pirates are simply released because no country wants to try them. The most famous pirate on trial in the USA is still Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, on trial in New York, who I will be devoted another post to later this week.

Interpol is trying to track pirate money, and claims to see no links to al-Qaeda, despite concerns that radical islamist groups are associated with Somali pirate groups.

On a personal note, it's a LOT easier to find pictures of Somali Pirates compared to 2007 when I started this blog and I kept having to reuse that one picture of two guys in a skiff with an AK.

While the idea of "what to do about pirates?" is still very present in dialogue in the west, a group of Somali pirates recently reached out to groups working in Haiti, trying to figure out how they can donate to relief efforts.

The “pirates” typically redistribute a significant portion of their profits
among relatives and the local population. In their operations, the “pirates”
urge transnational corporations that own the cargo confiscated to pay back in
cash as banks can not operate in Somalia.

”The humanitarian aid to Haiti can not be controlled by the United States and
European countries; they have no moral authority to do so. They are the ones
pirating mankind for many years,” said the Somali spokesman.

When observing how piracy has invigorated that area of Africa, despite the parasitic nature of the economy, one cannot help but think that maybe the pirates are on to something.