Going on the Account: How Not To, and Maybe How To

With the situation in Somalia showing very little progress, with twenty four ships as of this post still held by pirates, word came in recently of a private security armada forming to take out the pirates.

While I can fully appreciate the effort to try and make things better, this seems more like frustration with things as they now stand, with a major commitment of ships on station producing few tangible results.  Reacting in this way, though, feels like pouring gasoline on a raging fire; a private navy doing convoy duty might be more tempted to go live with their ammo to impress their bosses and lose a client the hard way, rather than adding to the ships seized.

So what’s the answer, if not sending private vessels to sea better armed?  Before we get cries of “The market doesn’t solve every problem,” there is a piece out there about anecdotal evidence suggesting that Netflix is cutting into BitTorrent’s business.  If ever there was proof that the best way to address piracy is to remove the biggest encouragements to it, price and access, this is it.

Could a Netflix-like solution work here?  Is it possible to re-work trade and the flow of capital in such a way that piracy, not only inSomaliabut worldwide, suddenly becomes unattractive?

Until we get some serious consideration of a radical solution, we may not find out before the first mercenary vessel sinks a tanker while trying to save it…

Going on the Account: Rough Seas Ahead

If you are a pirate, as in an actual pirate, things are not looking so good these days:

  • Mohammad Saaili Shibin has been indicted for his role in the S/V Quest debacle.  A negotiator for Somali pirates and a go-between to arrange ransoms, he faces charges of piracy, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and use of a destructive device during a crime of violence, and is the highest-ranking pirate (as far as structure can be applied to the organization) to go before a US judge.
  • Pirate actions have recently been broken up by the HMAS Stuart, capturing 15, and Denmark’s Esbern Snare, capturing a further 15.

Even with two successful ransom drops and a doubling in activity off Somalia over the same quarter last year, these aren’t what you’d call carefree days over there.  The pressure’s on, with more money flowing through the captors’ hands drawing in a new breed of pirates (see: “The brutality escalates”)  who are behaving down to the worst level expected, while an increased armed presence may actually be making matters worse as more hot fire incidents make the pirates more likely to make reckless choices as they did when they seized the S/V Quest.

Things are going to get a lot messier, especially as the best remedy for addressing the issue, rebuilding society inSomalia, takes a back seat again to other concerns around the world.

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It’s hard to find something to laugh at in the face of such depressing prospects.  Case in point: Russell, the Internet Pirate that was created by YouTube to educate users on IP issues.

Russell:  Worst.  Pirate.  Ever.

I’ll let the little barnacle-brain do his own hempen jig; nothing I could say could really add/alleviate that anyway…

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As far as pirate creations go, before I got my kit packed to go the Buffalo, I did put the final touches on that revisit I’d mentioned earlier.  Soon, very soon…

Going on the Account: Afield, Offshore, But Not Too Far

Just a heads-up that I’m going to be on the road next week.  I’m going to more likely than not be incommunicado as we’re not bringing that much hardware with us on this family vacation; not totally shut off from the world, but less likely to be on the spot immediately.  The most likely effect of this is going to be that RED JENNY’s next chapter goes up on automatic, but some linking between chapters may have to wait until I return.

 

I’m going to be among family in Buffalo, with a few days in Toronto.  Ironic, no…?

Going on the Account: What We Want Versus What We Get

By now, everyone’s watching with some varying levels of interest the fight over the US Federal budget, which as of this moment looks like it will lead to a shutdown of nonessential services.

Of particular interest here are the riders on the budget inserted by the House of Representatives to hamstring the EPA.  Funny how this is being thrown into what on the surface is supposedly a fight over budgets…

Seeing this while reading about the effects of a US government shutdown puts me in an odd position.  Discussing a slow-burning collapse of civilization in my second work, I suddenly have a lot more gist to assist with the detailing on the world building that had so far gone into it.  It’s one thing to say that non-essential services would no longer be offered by a government that claims to be in debt and willing to get out of the governing business what they consider some of their citizens’ lives, but to live through it again (with memories of 1995 still fresh) and have first hand experience to fact check it, along with some major environmental discard themes to boot, makes me probably the only person who could actually benefit from a government shutdown.

So why do I feel so bad about being given such a gift…?

Going on the Account: Singing Out

There’s a lot that’s been said about why pirates are such touchstones in Western culture.  Lord knows, I’ve practically talked circles around the subject the last few years to the point where I’m close to running out of justifications.

 

Thankfully, there’s this wonderful declaration made by Jeff MacKay on YouTube that’s worth sharing:

 

 

 

My hat’s off to the man:  Between the screenplay and the pirate goods business, his commitment to the Sweet Trade is indisputable.  And if you go back and look at some of what I’d said given half a chance, we’re pretty well on the same heading here.

 

It’s good to have someone do so eloquent a job on behalf of the vested ideals.  And if after that, you still don’t quite get it, I’d love to know what it’d take short of receiving the Black Spot for you to get aboard…

Going on the Account: Privateering On the Situational Tragedy

Apologies for the radio silence lately; I’ve had a cold, my machine has had Lord-knows-what, and I don’t want to think about what’s making my kitchen floor curl like a third-rate paperback left in a rain puddle…

 

 

So when going through the Web for the latest on the Modern Age of Piracy, I’ve run across more and more items like the one io9 did about Concept Tactical Worldwide, and Dr. Weitz’s piece for the Second Line of Defense website where the issue of the Somali situation has generally been presented by folks who tend to lead up to their punchline with, “So here’s what we’d do…”

 

If like me, you get PO’d by people winding up their stories beginning with, “So I said,” you know where this is going…

 

The best way to look at such articles is in terms of the ultimate application of the whole “market economy” ideal.  And in a truly free, deterministic market economy, such requests and suggestions should ultimately offer a solution that the people discussing the situation have the right to offer.  Whether what we have is a “free, deterministic market economy,” is a subject for which I do not yet have tags on this blog to designate by…

 

What’s truly upsetting is how self-serving some folks have become in the face of the tragedy of a failed state adversely affecting their neighbors.  To sit back and let something go so horribly awry is a level of damnation in and of itself that is topped only by those staying away whispering, “Hey, if you float me some coin I can make it all go away…”

 

No. Thank.  You.

 

I am so disgusted by self-appointed “security experts” offering solutions that involve a sales pitch that I’m willing to forgo my usual optimism for humanity in general, the ability we have as a species to figure it all out in the end.  Such mercenary attitudes makes me want to quote Taylor from the end of Planet of the Apes…

 

There’s a big difference between, “Hey, we see your lawn needs fixing, let us take care of the weeding and mowing,” and “You know, you have a failed state that we can contain  [never fix, only contain, if you read these properly], provided you send us, oh, the GDP of a smaller trading partner every year.”  There are times when the market needs to be ignored and more central concerns should be placed above all.  To misquote the old expression, “He who lives by the coin, dies by the coin…”

 

 

 

 

Forgive the grumpiness; as I said earlier, I, my laptop and the kitchen floor have not been feeling well, making me more likely to spout statements that should be followed up with, “And get off may damn lawn, you kids!”

 

In a better world, I’d have been better prepared to participate in yesterday’s festivities, setting up for something shockingly hilarious.

 

I might also have used the occasion to mention that I might revisit the characters from Raging Gail sooner rather than later.

 

Which is not a gag or joke.

 

As for when, keep an eye open for word from here…