Blundering Barnacles!!!! Thar be pirates everywhere!!! Okay, not really. But, given the Somali pirate stuff in the news the last few months, pop culture has incorporated those events in a number of places. Here are two of my faves:
1) South Park - Episode 13 this year is "Fatbeard," where Cartman travels to Somalia to live out his dream of pirating. Of course, upon arrival, he and the crew observe Somalia is not a land of blue lagoons and overstuffed treasure chests. The episode is hysterical, and as usual, the South Park guys skewer a whole bunch of targets while delivering laughs along the way. Here's the musical clip of Cartman teaching the Somali pirates to shape up...
2) Joe Devito, "Famous Comedian," ought to be better known. Here is a bit of his stand up from not too long ago:
3) One of my favorite magazines, Mental Floss, has an article this month: "Ten Things You Didn't KNow About Somali Pirates." It's subscription only, so I'll give you just a taste:
"#2 - Nobody Brings Home the Bacon Like a Pirate - According to some estimates, pirates in 2008 pulled in as much as $150 million, indicating that piracy is now Somalia's biggest industry. In fact, successful pirates are the country's most eligible bachelors. While small-time swashbucklers earn in the low five figures, bosses can pull in $2 million a year-this, in a country where you can buy dinner for less than $1. But, as their wallets fatten, many pirates are heading for greener pastures, and the real money is flowing out of the country with them. Many are buying properties on the seashore of Mombasa, Kenya where new condos are being built every day. If a condo is selling for a few million dollars, there's a good chance the bosses will throw in an extra half-million, just to make sure the Kenyans don't ask too many questions."
4) It seems like when most people think of pirates, they think 1600s to 1800s. However, piracy goes back waaaay before that. I recently finished reading Rubicon by Tom Holland, a fantastic book chronicling the end of the Roman Republic, and Caesar's rise in power. One section I found particularly interesting, in these heady pirate times, was that the early Roman Empire had its problems with pirates; in fact, many of the difficulties in dealing with the Somali pirates today (hard to find, many officials looking the other way) were major reasons for Rome's difficulties in combating pirating. From the book:
Whatever the rewards it was capable of brining them, however, kidnapping was only a sideline for the pirates. Calculated acts of intimidation ensured that they could extort and rob almost at will, inland as well as at sea. The scale of their plundering was matched by their pretensions. Their chiefs "claimed for themselves the status of kings and tyrants, and for their men, that of soldiers, believing that if they pooled their resources, they would be invincible." In the nakedness of their greed, and in their desire to make the whole world their prey, there was more than a parody of the Republic itself, a ghostly image that the Romans found unsettling in the extreme. The shadowiness of the pirates' organization, and their diffuse operations, made them a foe unlike any other. "The pirate is not bound by the rules of war, but is the common enemy of everyone," Cicero complained. "There can be no trusting him, no attempt to bind him with mutually agreed treaties."
Other issues related to the pirates (such as their being a main supplier of slaves, which created an interesting paradox to Cicero's concerns) are discussed in some detail, and the book in general is full of information presented with a very readable style. I'll review it more thoroughly in my next book review post, but suffice to say I recommend the book whole-heartedly.
So, I hope all this will slate your pirate thirst for awhile!