Going on the Account: Part the Two Hundred Second

Part the Two Hundred Second is now up, ahead of time to allow those with plans for New Year’s Eve to get to this without interference, and may be read here.

May however you celebrate the new year (or at least swear out the old one as you condemn it to bad experience) go well, and hoping your 2010 is a good one.  Or at the very least, better than Peter Hyams’ 2010

Going on the Account: Um, About That Rescue…

Word just came in that the Chinese have paid the ransom for the De Xin Hai.

For all the talk about China exerting herself in the region, as discussed here at the time, in the end they paid up, much the way they do elsewhere.  There was a drop of four million US dollars, according to the pirates, and the ship’s now free to go.

It’s hard to say what we can come away with from this.  That bravado and bluster are still with us long after six pounders have been replaced with cruise missiles on warships, and still as effective?  That when it comes to taking hostages at sea, there’s rarely a happy ending involved for the victims?  That there’s still plenty of incentives out there to encourage picking up an AK-47 and getting in the motor boat?

The best we can say is that, thankfully, there are 25 less sailors being held hostage, and that the story continues on the Indian Ocean…

Going on the Account: Yo Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! and a Bottle of Rum fot the Egg Nog…

It’s Christmas here, and my best to everyone enjoying this holiday as well.

I did all right under the tree; Susan got me Peter Leeson’s THE INVISIBLE HOOK, which I’m looking forward to reading over the week.  Well, when I’m not busy writing Hope out of her predicament…

For folks looking for other pirates to follow during the next week (if you have off), there’s always:

  • THE WANNABEE PIRATES by Largent and McCrary, which updates five days a week with the main story, about probably the most inept pirate since the buccaneers Bob Hope faced in THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE.  And if you’re looking for more serious fare, they have a Saturday only strip on the same site, GRAYHAWK AND THE STARBUCKLERS OF THE CARIBBEAN.  In addition to all the goodness of having pirates in space, there’s the fact that our hero’s home port is on Earth, in the Carib during the Golden Age of Piracy, which means that in addition to space pirates, you get pirates as we think of them too.  What’s not to like here?


  • CELESTE THE PRIATE by Lily Mountjoy and Peter Prellwitz, where the story came into being in pure piratanical fashion:  A supporting character on the main strip, ANGEL OF ST. THOMAS, seized and boarded the site and commandeered it for her origin tale.  Celeste’s story is set in the 1700s as she starts her pursuit of the Sweet Trade, and can be read by new readers unfamiliar with the main tale, which is probably being held for ransom in the hold until Celeste’s finished her solo adventures.  My hat’s off to Lily and Pete for what’s turning into a great tale of a woman at sea.


Speaking of other pirates out there, there’s a year-end assessment of the suppression of Somali piracy ventures by the AP.  Bottom line:  Double the attempts, but close to the same number of seizures.  Which means lots of folks are going to be on station for a while until the marines get the call to hit the beach…

Going on the Account: Remember This Well?

There was a statement released today by General Ward of US Africa Command, attempting to address one the main justifications for Somalia’s descent into armed anarchy.

What’s interesting about this statement is that it discusses the Somali fish stocks in the present tense, that the US and other nations “stand with Somalia in countering illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing wherever it occurs.”  What strikes me though, is that it sidesteps the issue as to whether any such fishing occurred in the past, which led to this state of affairs in the first place.

Well, that and UNITAF’s inability to actually provide relief to the Somalis…

It’s interesting how little about the Somali situation an American news consumer gets from domestic sources.  Most of the clippings I offer here are from agencies either based around the Indian Ocean or in Europe, and as of late more of them are from the former.  With the IMB pirate attack map showing more incidents for 2009 than the last two years, it can’t be for a lack of anything to report.  Do we need to see another American crew taken for us to pay attention over there?

It probably shouldn’t be surprising, as there’s a tendency over here to become amnesic about unsuccessful overseas ventures.  It took years for Korea to get the attention it should have had, and Lebanon has not yet been as well examined as it should be.  And because victory over Iraq was followed with a long drawn-out campaign to bring order, we’ve already started to ignore news from there, especially when each new disaster affects less Americans than the last one.

You could probably say George Santayana was calling us out when he discussed forgetfulness leading to a repetitive history.  Because 1993 was a turning-for-the-worst point in operations in Somalia, we’ve started to rely on our infamous lack of geography to justify not knowing where the Horn of Africa is.  Worse, it looks like al Qaeda is operating in Somalia the same way it worked in Afghanistan, after we left them to their own devices once the Soviet Union left the country and subsequently fell apart.  And we all know what that led to come September of 2001…

Going on the Account: Writ Ahoy!

I got word of a contest on boingboing.net that asks contributors to mash two writers’ styles/works.  I made an entry, which compared with some of other works there looks pretty pathetic; I probably should have gone with my original idea, below:


Picture yourself in a realm where John Lennon was writing a song for SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HERTS CLUB BAND, but instead of seeing a poster for Mister Kite’s benefit, had instead before him copies of certain plays by Shakespeare and Stoppard:

For the benefit of the Prince of Danes

There will be a show this day

In Elsinore

The players will put on a show

That Hamlet hopes will let him know

What is the score

‘Tween him and Claudius he’ll try

To find out where

His guilty heart does lie

The play will catch the conscience of the King!

The players will perform their acts

So Hamlet can soon learn the facts

About Gertrude

And whether she had had a hand

In killing dad to seize his land

Oh how rude!

Until Hamlet is sure of whether

Dad’s ghost can be trusted,

He’ll act mad

And to Ophelia he’ll be a cad!

The players will hence depart

In order to pursuer their art

Off in England

Hamlet will with them then go

Perhaps to do another show

He’ll give a hand

His handlers will end up

Not having anything to do

With the next stand

For Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead! 


As I said, there’s a lot of good entries on the site (many far better than mine, admittedly), and if you can get them something before Friday the 18th you might be in the running for the prize they’re offering!

Going on the Account: Cast Them Not In Irons!

I found out today about Comic Creator’s Alliance and their campaign to do their part in an effort to end human trafficking.  

This group of webcomic creators is putting together a wallpaper to offer for a donation to support Love146 and Gracehaven, two organizations involved in fighting child slavery and the domestic sex trade.  It’s an effort that deserves the support of every decent person out there.

These are issues that I myself feel strongly about, on a number of grounds.  The main one is a matter of social justice, the belief that civilization is both founded on and striving forward to a better expression of the ideals that every person, regardless of background, gender or belief, is entitled to equitable treatment and respect.  

Human trafficking flies in the face of that-  No, it spits in the face of that, right before a full-on roundhouse assault to push you down and dehumanize you.  It’s the antithesis of thousands of years of culture, empathic belief and our understanding of what it means to be both human and good.

That shouldn’t be a surprise to readers noticing all the pirates in the novel here.  Pirates in the New World often ended up in the Sweet Trade on the grounds of social justice issues, real or imagined.  In fiction, there were a number of buccaneers going to sea to right wrongs, such as Sabatini’s Captain Blood and Charlotte de Berry, but there were far more in real life; one of the best sources for pirates were indentured servants and slaves who were brought over to work the newly claimed colonies, which a paper put online by the Whydah Museum discusses eloquently.

Think about it:  Many of the freebooters from the Golden Age of Piracy were the first abolitionists…

The other main ground is as a father.  I have a son, who has among his friends a lot of young ladies, any of whom could well end up suffering fates that this effort is fighting.  On those grounds alone, for all the kids, this must have your support.

And one of the better ways to support this is to donate for the wallpaper when it’s ready.  This wallpaper will be featuring one female character provided by each creator joining the cause, which means over fifty characters on a single page.  It’d be like going to one of the comic book companies with a sole piece of paper and getting everyone working there to do a figure on it, leaving you with something to give the cover of SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND a run for the money…

All kidding aside, among the folks providing a character are some creators whose work I’ve been following online from just about the beginning:


Now imagine all of their good work with quite a few talented peers on the same donation wallpaper, and you have a good reason to do at least this for the cause.

If you feel compelled to go beyond and contribute to the organizations supported by this wallpaper, or any other group addressing the issue, by all means do.  Contribute, volunteer, advocate; and if it’s not possible to do any of that, than at least making a donation for the wallpaper is a step forward in bringing our better angels to the fore.