Hillary Clinton laughing about Piracy

Here is a bizarre video of Hillary Clinton talking about Piracy, but she also goes on to mention a little known historical fact, that it was the nation of Morocco which was the first in the world to recognize the fledgling United States as a nation independent of England. I find this historical fact (which is totally accurate) slightly bizarre only because the United States has not reciprocated by allowing Moroccans to travel to the U.S. without a cumbersome visa policy today.

Anthropology other worlds Pirates scary clowns

Kingdom of Loathing

This is a great game. I wrote this paper last fall but I think it is still relevant. I have been too busy to play lately, but I look forward to getting back into it. One of the best parts is that it is free, can be played anywhere there is an internet connection, and doesn’t need software…just a browser.
Link to the Game.

Kingdom of Loathing: Virtual Society of the Spectacle
Kingdom of Loathing, located at, is a game that began as a joke. The joke requires some historical background in order to be understood. In 2003 online games were becoming increasingly sophisticated with 3-D type graphics, complex imaginary worlds, and sophisticated character creation systems and classes. At the same time the ‘hipster’ culture typified by such websites as ‘BoingBoing’, ‘WeMakeMoneyNotArt’, and ‘GrowABrain’ were reaching new highs in site visits and overall web popularity. Here is the joke: In 2003, a couple of hipsters created a sophisticated online game with stick figure 2-D graphics, ridiculous parody worlds that ridiculed popular culture, and ironically named character classes based on hipster culture and making fun of traditional RPG categories. This resulted in character classes such as ‘accordion thief’, ‘disco bandit’, ‘pastamancer’, and ‘saucerer’. The punch line is that despite all the ridiculous pop-culture and hipster references, Kingdom of Loathing is actually a well crafted game and has attracted more than a million players so far.


Pirate Wars part I

If this were a fictional story, it would be unbelievable, but it is reality unfolding before our eyes. Modern day Somali pirates have the governments of the world held hostage through holding hostages on the many ships they have recently taken. They hold not only the largest oil tanker in the world, but also they still hold the Ukrainian ship loaded with weapons and dozens of others. Here is a smattering of what I am seeing in the news:

A Thai ship with 16 crew members and an Iranian cargo vessel with a crew of 25 were hijacked Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden, where Somalia-based pirates appear to be attacking ships at will, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia.
“It’s getting out of control,” Choong said.
The incidents raised to eight the number of ships hijacked this week alone, he said. Since the beginning of the year, 39 ships have been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden, out of 95 attacked.
On Tuesday, a major Norwegian shipping group, Odfjell SE, ordered its more than 90 tankers to sail around Africa rather than use the Suez Canal after the seizure of the Saudi tanker Saturday.
“We will no longer expose our crew to the risk of being hijacked and held for ransom by pirates in the Gulf of Aden,” said Terje Storeng, Odfjell’s president and chief executive.

What can be done? (On NPR) Nikolas Gvosdev, who teaches national security studies at the U.S. Naval War College, tells Steve Inskeep what can be done to protect one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

India’s navy said one of its warships destroyed a pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden in a brief battle late on Tuesday.
“Fire broke out on the vessel and explosions were heard, possibly due to exploding ammunition that was stored on the vessel,” the navy said, adding that two speed boats sped away.

Poor Somali’s though are lovin’ it!

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia’s increasingly brazen pirates are building sprawling stone houses, cruising in luxury cars, marrying beautiful women — even hiring caterers to prepare Western-style food for their hostages.
And in an impoverished country where every public institution has crumbled, they have become heroes in the steamy coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business in town.
“The pirates depend on us, and we benefit from them,” said Sahra Sheik Dahir, a shop owner in Haradhere, the nearest village to where a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying $100 million in crude was anchored Wednesday.
These boomtowns are all the more shocking in light of Somalia’s violence and poverty: Radical Islamists control most of the country’s south, meting out lashings and stonings for accused criminals. There has been no effective central government in nearly 20 years, plunging this arid African country into chaos.
Life expectancy is just 46 years; a quarter of children die before they reach 5.
But in northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the pirate economy is thriving thanks to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.
In Haradhere, residents came out in droves to celebrate as the looming oil ship came into focus this week off the country’s lawless coast. Businessmen started gathering cigarettes, food and cold glass bottles of orange soda, setting up small kiosks for the pirates who come to shore to re-supply almost daily.
Dahir said she is so confident in the pirates, she instituted a layaway plan just for them.
“They always take things without paying and we put them into the book of debts,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Later, when they get the ransom money, they pay us a lot.”
For Somalis, the simple fact that pirates offer jobs is enough to gain their esteem, even as hostages languish on ships for months. The population makes sure the pirates are well-stocked in qat, a popular narcotic leaf, and offer support from the ground even as the international community tries to quash them.
“Regardless of how the money is coming in, legally or illegally, I can say it has started a life in our town,” said Shamso Moalim, a 36-year-old mother of five in Haradhere.
“Our children are not worrying about food now, and they go to Islamic schools in the morning and play soccer in the afternoon. They are happy.”
Despite a beefed-up international presence, the pirates continue to seize ships, moving further out to sea and demanding ever-larger ransoms. The pirates operate mostly from the semiautonomous Puntland region, where local lawmakers have been accused of helping the pirates and taking a cut of the ransoms.
For the most part, however, the regional officials say they have no power to stop piracy.
Meanwhile, towns that once were eroded by years of poverty and chaos are now bustling with restaurants, Land Cruisers and Internet cafes. Residents also use their gains to buy generators — allowing full days of electricity, once an unimaginable luxury in Somalia.
There are no reliable estimates of the number of pirates operating in Somalia, but they must number in the thousands. And though the bandits do sometimes get nabbed, piracy is generally considered a sure bet to a better life.
NATO and the U.S. Navy say they can’t be everywhere, and American officials are urging ships to hire private security. Warships patrolling off Somalia have succeeded in stopping some pirate attacks. But military assaults to wrest back a ship are highly risky and, up to now, uncommon.
The attackers generally treat their hostages well in anticipation of a big payday, hiring caterers on shore to cook spaghetti, grilled fish and roasted meat that will appeal to a Western palate. They also keep a steady supply of cigarettes and drinks from the shops on shore.
And when the payday comes, the money sometimes literally falls from the sky.
Pirates say the ransom arrives in burlap sacks, sometimes dropped from buzzing helicopters, or in waterproof suitcases loaded onto tiny skiffs in the roiling, shark-infested sea.
“The oldest man on the ship always takes the responsibility of collecting the money, because we see it as very risky, and he gets some extra payment for his service later,” Aden Yusuf, a pirate in Eyl, told AP over VHF radio.
The pirates use money-counting machines — the same technology seen at foreign exchange bureaus worldwide — to ensure the cash is real. All payments are done in cash because Somalia, a failed state, has no functioning banking system.
“Getting this equipment is easy for us, we have business connections with people in Dubai, Nairobi, Djibouti and other areas,” Yusuf said. “So we send them money and they send us what we want.”

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Kangaroos and Pirates

For today’s great movie quiz, what film is this still from? (answer is at the bottom of this post)
It turns out that we are more closely related to kangaroos than you might think.

“There are a few differences, we have a few more of this, a few less of that, but they are the same genes and a lot of them are in the same order,” centre Director Jenny Graves told reporters in Melbourne.

And the Saudi Oil Tanker that got hijacked by pirates yesterday has arrived in Somalia.

A Saudi supertanker seized by pirates with a $100 million oil cargo in the world’s biggest ship hijacking reached Somalia on Tuesday, and another ship was captured in the perilous waters off the lawless state. The capture of the Star is one of the most spectacular strikes in maritime history.The seizure of the Star, three times the size of an aircraft carrier, followed another high-profile strike earlier this year by the pirates when they captured a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 tanks and other military equipment. They are still holding that vessel and about a dozen others, with more than 200 crew members hostage. Given that the pirates are well-armed with grenades, machineguns and rocket-launchers, foreign forces in the area are steering clear of direct attacks.

Answer: The General starring Buster Keaton. One of the greatest silent films of all time.