Monthly Archives: October 2009

Going on the Account: Sails Sighted and Cited (A Round-Up)

A few random items of interest:



#   There is an article about Somali pirates published at (which is potentially NSFW if you’re accessing the Internet somewhere where anything associated with PLAYBOY could get you flagged/in trouble), which has some interesting facts about the Somali scene:


  • The success rate for a crew going on the account in Somalia is about 5%; the rest of the ventures come out empty handed
  • There are suggestions that a large amount of the ransom collected is funneled out of the country to criminal syndicates based in Europe and the Persian Gulf
  • The article describes past acts of collecting ransom for individuals over the last few years, which makes the Chandler kidnapping one in a long line of seizures; hopefully their ordeal will end better than the ones Bengali describes in his piece


This is worth reading if you are able to access the article or have no objections to the source; in other words, if you can claim with a straight face that you visit this site only for the articles, then go for it…



#  Speaking of acts of piracy, an article in the WALL STREET JOURNAL about the online book price war discusses why the three participants are limiting the number of books you can order from them online (very early on in the article, too, so you don’t need to buy a subscription to to get to the main point of the piece): 


Apparently independent booksellers were buying copies at rates lower than the publishers were charging them at wholesale, and then selling them from their locations at a competitive discount.


Yo ho ho and a bottle of wine snagged from an author meet-and-greet…



#  Credit to a group trying to win a prize for building a space ladder discussed at, calling themselves the K. C. Space Pirates.  After all, with a name like that, how could they not draw some interest?

Mind you, I don’t know if these guys seriously considered the name of the robot they’re using to climb their construction; I wonder if they called the robot “Maryann” without considering “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand” by the Who…


#  I noted above that the success rate for pirates in Somalia is around 5%; that’s still a lot better so far this year than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done…


Admittedly, they have a tough schedule this year; they don’t have much of a break between now and December, so they’ve got long odds before them.  But even if the season goes down like an overloaded galleon in a hurricane, they can at least point with pride to Gay Culverhouse’s advocacy on behalf of NFL players.  For taking on tough opponents like entrenched interests in the League, she certainly deserves notice and admiration.



And my best to everyone doing trick-or-treat tomorrow, especially if you’re doing Halloween in gear that’s appropriate for going on the account in the neighborhood…

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Going on the Account: Refiguring the Tonnage

I saw this week the article in the TIMES about ELECTRIC LITERATURE.  What struck me was the description of “Twitter literature,” the delivery of content by tweets to an audience willing to invite a writer’s streams to interrupt their lives.


And part of me asked, if I had had that option at the beginning of this project, what that might have looked like.


I did a little quick figuring that over the course of two parts, I can have about 45 sentences posted in the twice a week format I use now.  Assuming that I keep each sentence to the 140-character limit (with the same vigilance I use to keep the word count per part to no more than 550 words, unless the narrative benefits from bending that rule), that means I could have each sentence carried by its own tweet.


And keeping up with the current per week output, that means you’d be receiving about six sentences a day from me.  Seven days a week.


Yeah, I think Twitter’s future in literature rests more comfortably in short fiction, too…

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Going on the Account: Too Long In Port

Been so damn busy that I didn’t realize until now that the slotted announcements I had for the last two parts never got posted.  Gotta love technical issues..


In any event, Part the One Hundred Eighty Third and Part the One Hundred Eighty Fourth are now up and ready for your enjoyment.  And baring any new distractions, the regular announcements will resume, allowing for you to keep…


Sorry, the Yanks just got a third run; where was I again?  Ah, right, that, yes…

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Eighty Second

Part the One Hundred Eighty Second is now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: 嗨海盗 *

Word is on the wires today that the People’s Republic of China might be considering a rescue of the De Xin Hai


Having not been able to keep their assets from being seized, whether through reliance on the navies of the Real Coalition of the Willing or through dolphin intervention, the PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) is now looking to conduct an operation in waters that hasn’t seen that active forces from there since Zheng He sailed his fleets off the coast of Africa.


There’s some concern that this attempted operation might end badly, though anyone with memories of the IDF raid on Entebbe is not going to hold distance against the PLAN.  Perhaps the bigger concern is not the price of failure, but of success.


If the Chinese conduct a successful military operation so far away from Asia, it will be something of a coming out party for the country as a world power.  Even in this day and age, soft power doesn’t make as much of an impression on others as pure force does.  Not scarred enough of an economic powerhouse, the world will likely plotz at the idea that China now has the military might with which to conduct policy.


(Which all said would give the remake of RED DAWN a lot more heft with the audience; so yes, there would be winners here…)


All kidding aside, the one major connection between the Golden Age of Piracy and the Modern Age of Piracy that both share is now apparent: Both had/have the ability to change the math regarding the global balance of power.  By the end of the pirate campaigns in the Caribbean, Spanish/Hapsburg dominance was questioned, tested and found lacking in reflection of their inability to handle their New World possessions, and the French and English emerged as stronger powers.  American dominance of world affairs might well give way to new players if the Somalis offer a chance for members of the BRIC nations to prove themselves; with both the Russians and the Indians already at sea off East Africa, we could well see some action that would stick in the minds of people the same way the American intervention in World War I did.


And it’s not too late for the Brazilians to join the party…


* Supposedly this should translate into “Ahoy pirates” if the service provided at is of any value; my apologies if the site is as accurate as the Hungarian phrase book in the Monty Python sketch “The Tobacconist”

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Eighty First

Part the One Hundred Eighty First is now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: What Port Be We Weighing Anchor In?

Found out this morning that Atlanta wants to build a pirate museum.  A whole big museum, complete with recovered treasure, interactive exhibits, and maybe a barbecue restaurant.


Yep, a museum.  About pirates.  In Atlanta.






Now, first problem I see, is justifying putting a museum that involves any naval history in a city so far inland.  It’s about 250 miles from the proposed site to Savannah, Georgia’s closest port.


Second, it involves basing it in a town without a lot of connection to those days.  The first recorded settlement noted there is found in 1782, a good 64 years after Blackbeard’s death up the coast at Ocracoke Island, with the first European structure raised 31 years later.  (I might be tempted to throw them a gimmie if they can prove that Fort Gilmer was authorized to defend Georgia from Jean Lafitte; lots of luck there…)


In fact, the closest we get to pirates in Atlanta are the parts in GONE WITH THE WIND where Rhett Butler discusses his naval career as a blockade runner, moving his ships past the US Navy’s efforts to starve the CSA.  It sorta counts, kinda, maybe…




If these folks really want to do a pirate museum, it might make more sense to have it in a port city, one that was actually around during the Golden Age of Piracy and could serve as a wonderful host.  Places like San Juan, a major port for the Flota de Indias, or Charleston, where Blackbeard conducted his own one-ship blockade in return for medical supplies.  Heck, Baltimore, which hosted so many privateers that the effort to drive them out during the War of 1812 gave us The Star Spangled Banner, has a greater claim.


Then again, there’s New York City.


Think about it:  New York has every claim to a pirate museum that Atlanta can’t raise up with the colors.  William Kidd started his ill-fated voyage from these docks, and Thomas Tew set up shop here and home based from this port.  Freebooters and other mariners in the dark trades were very welcome in this town, as I noted before.  This also includes George Trenholm, who may have been the basis for Rhett Butler; he had an office of his shipping company operating in the city that stayed open throughout the conflict, running goods through the lines.


And frankly, there’s greater need for it here.  The South Street Seaport Complex could frankly use a hand, and the galleries like the ones being proposed for Atlanta would be a great boon to them.  The wealth of materials that they could get on loan from the South Street Seaport Museum (which has vessels docked along side the complex), the New-York Historical Society and the Museum of the City of New York would be invaluable.


If not on Manhattan island itself, then a site in the Bronx or Yonkers near some of the land originally held by the Philipse and Van Cortland families could work.  It’s not to late to add this into the redevelopment plan recently approved for downtown Yonkers.


I can sort of see why the Atlanta pirate museum makes sense if it’s an excuse for putting a barbecue restaurant on Centennial Olympic Park.


…OK, no I can’t, sorry…

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