Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Piracy (and it's on the high seas, too)

A third post on a single day! Wowza!

I have yet more news to share.

In the on-going war between pirates and ninjas, our parrot-toting sea-dogs have wrested yet another significant victory: they apparently still exist, and their numbers are growing.

They are not yet forming pirating societies, granted. They are not yet flying the Jolly Roger. They don't shiver timbers, walk planks, or bury chests of gold on desert isles. There are no pirate empires, as in Imperial China, or sexy piratesses, as in colonial Ireland. But what were once small groups of men who occassionally stole stuff while at sea are becoming actual crews, complete with organization, written pirate codexes, bonding time at sea, hostage-taking, and alliegiances. If things continue at this rate, we may get what's being called a pirate polity on our hands.

By 'our hands' I actually mean off the coast of Somalia. And I do fully realize that this isn't actually 'cool,' but likely a serious problem for the country with lethal consequences. I should not be excited by this. At all.

But, they're pirates. There's an excellent line in Peter Pan that nicely sums up this dilemma, but I've sadly forgotten it. It has something to do, however, with one of the boys having always secretly wanted to be a pirate. However, when he's informed that being a pirate necessarily involves saying, "Down with the king," he cries, "Long live the king!" and sentences himself to horrid death at the hands of the pirate crew. He doesn't die, of course, but is instead rescued by Peter Pan and takes part in the battle that ensues, but that's not the point--what is, is that every little boy, and probably little girls, too, these days, has at some point wanted to be a pirate, and this desire lingers in us still despite the fact that we know piracy involves all sorts of moral trangressions that are frequently quite awful. My, we are perverse critters. (Of course, some would say our fascination with pirates is that we can enact transgressions vicariously through their villiany. That they were democratic and had life insurance seems to undermine that, somewhat. I don't know what to make of this theory. It likely has some grain of truth.)

Anyway, here's the source for my information. How interesting Freakonomics can be, eh?
I shamelessly stole the photo from If you want to know who owns it, ask him.

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