Tuesday, April 21, 2009

25 Random Things About Pirates

1. Somali pirates netted $150 million in 2008. Divided among Somalia's estimated 1,000 pirates, this comes to a yearly salary of $150,000. Tax free. Which you'd think would be enough for orthodontia. But apparently not.

2. Scurvy, once common among pirates, leads to the formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. In advanced scurvy there are open, suppurating wounds and loss of teeth.

3. There is some precedent for trying Abduhl Wali-i-Musi, the Somali teen pirate captured after he and his mateys hijacked the Maersk Alabama, as an adult. In 2005, University of Arizona student Parvin Dhaliwal was tried as an adult for illegally downloading music and movies from the Internet, even though he was 17 at the time of his crimes. According to USA Today, Dhaliwal got off pretty easy, with a three-month deferred jail sentence, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 fine. "The judge in the case also ordered him to take a copyright class at the University of Arizona, and to avoid file-sharing computer programs."

4. The Swedish website The Pirate Bay has been called "one of the world's largest facilitators of illegal downloading". Last week its three founders Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, and Peter Sunde were sentenced to a year in prison and fined $3.5 million.

5. Walking the plank dot net is not a site about pirates.

6. September 19th is the dreaded "International Talk Like a Pirate Day". According to organizers, you'll need five words to participate:

Ahoy! - "Hello!"

Avast! - Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!"

Aye! - "Why yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did."

Aye aye! - "I'll get right on that sir, as soon as my break is over."

Arrr! - This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!

7. Pirate keyboard:

8. Um, they don't really say "aaarr!" According to Mark Liberman's Language Log, that whole thing started with Robert Newton, who played Long John Silver in a slew of '50s Disney movies.

9. Top 3 pirate hot-spots: the coast of Somalia (of course); the Strait of Malacca, with over a quarter of the world's trade passing through it; the Bay of Bengal, where in 2004 pirates stuffed 16 fishermen into the ice chamber of their boat (where the latter froze to death) and made off with $50,000 -- in fish.

10. There are Pirates in the desert, too. At Burning Man, the annual festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, there is a pirate camp, Camp Aargh! that looks something like this:
Ye Olde ASCII Camp MAP

| ye neighbourly pirates
| |
| O [] O O [] O |
| w ________ |
| / \ O []|
Earth | / corsairs \ | ye terrified
(street) | cave | ye van| landlubbers
| \ /\ |
| \________/g |
| w \ |
| D* O O ye truck |
| ye scurvy dogs

O = 2-pirate tent
[] = small pirate vessel (car)
w = ocean waves
D* = sea-dragon or wrecked vessel
g = ship's galley
11. While most buccaneers were "innately heterosexual," according to author W.A. Hoffman, "it is very likely [they] lived in sexually active pairs."

12. The the French Governor of mid-17th century Haiti reportedly attempted to import women to the island, because he was tired of the buccaneers fighting in the streets. Over each other.

13. How long could you last on a gay pirate ship?

14. A poop deck is a deck that constitutes the roof of a cabin built in the aft (rear) part of the superstructure of a ship. It has nothing whatsoever to do with poop. The name originates from the French word for stern, la poupe. In nautical parlance, "to be pooped" means to have a wave come over the stern from abaft. In nautical parlance, "to be pooped" means to have a wave come over the stern from abaft.

15. Pirate Insult-o-Matic.

16. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has made over $2.6 billion to date. The second installment, Dead Man's Chest, is still the fastest film to have reached $1 billion worldwide. The fourth film is set to come out in 2012.

17. Courtesy Jamie Mottram:

18. Courtesy Andrew Sullivan, by way of the daily what:

19. Baseball's Pittsburgh Alleghenys earned the nickname "the Pirates" in 1890 after poaching a player under contract to the Philadelphia Athletics. They started calling themselves pirates in 1891, although the The nickname didn't appear on the team's uniforms until 1912.

20. Captain Henry Morgan, for whom Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum is named, was technically not a pirate, but a privateer. Pirates are freelance while a privateer's work for a ruling nation (England, in Morgan's case).

21. In September 2008, pirates who had hijacked what the Times of South Africa called an "
Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo... suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill 'within days' of boarding [it]. Some of them died." Since then, no reports of Iranian ships falling victim to pirates, oddly enough.

22. Are you a pirate?

23. Florida-based charity OneHope ministers to child pirates in Somalia. For 33 cents, they can "deliver the Word of God to a child" says Reverend Bob Hoskins, the ministry's founder. "It just takes just $1.00 to reach three children." Three for one. Not a bad deal.

24. Girls can be pirates, too...

The most infamous is probably Anne Bonny, who ran off with her pirate husband James Bonny to the Bahamas, where she met another pirate, John "Calico Jack" Rackham, more to her liking, which irked her ex, who demanded she be flogged for infidelity. Instead, she and Calico Jack hijacked a sloop from Nassau Harbor, renamed it Revenge, and took to the high seas. A couple years later, they were captured. Calico was hanged. And then his body was tarred and gibbeted, and displayed prominently in Port Royal, Jamaica, in a spot now known as Rackham's Cay. Bonny was also sentenced to hang, but received a stay of execution, being pregnant at the time of her capture, and then disappeared from the public record. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: "Evidence ... 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 Rackham's second child,... married a local man,... and had eight children. She died ... a respectable woman, at the age of eighty-two."

25. Wanna eat like a pirate? Here's a recipe for sea biscuits, to go with your bone soup:
2 cups of flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
6 pinches of salt
1 tablespoon of shortening (optional)

Mix all the ingredients into a batter and press onto a cookie sheet to a thickness of ½ inch. Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (205°C) for one hour. Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough (a fork works nicely). Flip the crackers and return to the oven for another half hour.
"Bon appetite, ye scurvy swine! Arrrr!"

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