Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yo Ho Ho

I wish this story was from the Onion, but it's from the New York Times.

On April 11, French commandos went in with guns blazing and captured a gang of pirates who days earlier had hijacked a luxury cruise ship, the Ponant, and held the crew for ransom. This was the French solution to a crime wave that has threatened international shipping off Somalia; those of us who have been on the business end of a pirate’s gun can only applaud their action.

The British government on the other hand, to the incredulity of many in the maritime industry, has taken a curiously pathetic approach to piracy. While the French were flying six of the captured pirates to Paris to face trial, the British Foreign Office issued a directive to the once vaunted Royal Navy not to detain any pirates, because doing so could violate their human rights. British warships patrolling the pirate-infested waters off Somalia were advised that captured pirates could claim asylum in Britain and that those who were returned to Somalia faced beheading for murder or a hand chopped off for theft under Islamic law.

When we use the expression 'the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath;, or when we say "the Constitution is not a death pact" it is convey the idea that laws and customs are meant for substantive ends, not merely procedural ones. Cures which kill the patient and laws which empower criminals are alike in that sight of the ultimate object of the exercise has been lost.

The urge to stand above the grime and gunpowder sometimes obscures the historical fact that police forces must sometimes become a little like their enemies in order to effectively fight them. The Duke of Wellington when asked about his troops understood they were the scum of the earth and once said, "I don't know if they scare the enemy, but by God, they scare me." And when we think of Johnny Depp swashbuckling through the Carribbean, it's good to remember that the British Tars who pursued them were no shrinking violets themselves. The men themselves were cut from the same cloth, even if the actual clothes they wore were different. This connection was memorialized in the institution of the Tot of Rum.

Rum's association with piracy began with English privateers trading on the valuable commodity. As some of the privateers became pirates and buccaneers, their fondness for rum remained, the association between the two only being strengthened by literary works such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

The association of rum with the British Royal Navy began in 1655 when the British fleet captured the island of Jamaica. With the availability of domestically produced rum, the British changed the daily ration of liquor given to seamen from French brandy to rum. While the ration was originally given neat, or mixed with lime juice, the practice of watering down the rum began around 1740. To help minimize the effect of the alcohol on his sailors, Admiral Edward Vernon directed that the rum ration be watered down before being issued, a mixture which became known as grog. While it is widely believed that the term grog was coined at this time in honor of the grogram cloak Admiral Vernon wore in rough weather, the term has been demonstrated to predate his famous orders with probable origins in the West Indies, perhaps of African etymology (see Grog). The Royal Navy continued to give its sailors a daily rum ration, known as a "tot," until the practice was abolished after July 31, 1970.

Other histories say the reason for watering down rum was to prevent the sailors from hoarding their daily shots against one rip-roaring binge which if it ever got under way even the Royal Marines would be pressed to put down. But such were the men who cleared the seas of pirates, with precious little technological advantages. Maybe Wellington had a point.

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike
The bosun brained with a marlinspike
And cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o'day in a boozing ken
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.







The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.

34 Comments:

Blogger Stephen Renico said...

British warships patrolling the pirate-infested waters off Somalia were advised that captured pirates could claim asylum in Britain and that those who were returned to Somalia faced beheading for murder or a hand chopped off for theft under Islamic law.

Meanwhile, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, and Francis Drake are turning in their graves. William of Normandy was also quoted as saying, "England: it was good while it lasted."

4/20/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

I like Caesar's solution to the pirate problem, which he experienced first hand. Plutarch writes:

As soon as his ransom was come from Miletus, he paid it, and was discharged, and proceeded at once to man some ships at the port of Miletus, and went in pursuit of the pirates, whom he surprised with their ships still stationed at the island, and took most of them. Their money he made his prize, and the men he secured in prison at Pergamus, and he made application to Junius, who was then governor of Asia, to whose office it belonged, as praetor, to determine their punishment. Junius, having his eye upon the money, for the sum was considerable, said he would think at his leisure what to do with the prisoners, upon which Caesar took his leave of him, and went off to Pergamus, where he ordered the pirates to be brought forth and crucified; the punishment he had often threatened them with whilst he was in their hands, and they little dreamt he was in earnest.

4/20/2008 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

--Rudyard Kipling "Tommy" (not the Rock Opera)

4/20/2008 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Here is the paragraph that contains the ultimate absurdity.

British warships patrolling the pirate-infested waters off Somalia were advised that captured pirates could claim asylum in Britain and that those who were returned to Somalia faced beheading for murder or a hand chopped off for theft under Islamic law.

Pirates taken to Britain can claim that being returned to their own country to face Sharia law constitutes a Human Rights violation while some Muslims in Britain and indeed Rowan Williams, call for the establishment of Sharia Law in Britain.

But maybe there's a method to this madness. When Britain finally recognizes Sharia law it will therefore become a Human Rights violation to admit a pirate into Britain. And so the problem of immigration is thereby solved.

The thing about political correctness is that it can be crazy in a way that only the truly insane can be and as sober as only a drunk can be. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

4/20/2008 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I agree with Wretchard that the British are whimps when it comes to piracy.

But, I will note that the French are now being sued by the pirates for capturing them. There is a possibility the French will get screwed in this legal battle.

Here is more on the story from Eaglespeak:

Despite protestations by the French that their recent foray into Somalia to grab a few pirates resulted in no civilian deaths, some in Somalia not only disagree but are demanding compensation, including for the truck the French sniper took out:


AFP writes


We are not complaining about the operation against the pirates, but we are talking about civilian casualties," said Abdiaziz Yusuf Harin, Puntland's Jariban district commissioner. "Three herdsmen died in the area during the raid." Harin also demanded compensation for a vehicle destroyed during the raid, saying it didn't belong to the pirates. The official didn't specify the amount of compensation being sought.

Officials from Somalia's semiautonomous northern region of Puntland said only two of the six suspects captured were pirates. "They arrested six people whom we heard are awaiting trial, but we can confirm that four of them are innocent," Harin said. "They were not involved in piracy. "There are two people confirmed to be pirates among the six. The other four were khat (mild narcotic leaves) traders selling their goods to the pirates," when they were snatched, said Dahir Abdulkadir Ahmed, the governor of the Mugug region where the operation was carried out.

"We call on the French government to release the innocents and charge the two pirates," he said
.

[Eagle speak shows a picture of desert and helicopter on road ]

Judging by the terrain, if three goat herders were killed in that area, they must of been the three unluckiest men then alive to be in that area at that exact time.

See Somali Pirates: Let the whining begin

If this is a dup please delete it.

4/20/2008 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger vnjagvet said...

What has happened to common sense in Britannia?

4/20/2008 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger F451-2.0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/20/2008 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger F451-2.0 said...

Pirates!

"The Last of Barrett's Privateers"

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?
fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=
109523803
MySpace.com - Stan Rogers - halifax, CA - Folk - www.myspace.com/stanrogers200636

Lyrics are all over google should the mood strike.

4/20/2008 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

The League of Nations had a Secretariat, a Council, an Assembly and a lot of ideas about imposing a certain kind of order on international relations. It "oversaw the Permanent Court of International Justice and several other agencies and commissions created to deal with pressing international problems."

Not so permanent. Who even remembers today exactly what all the League's pretensions were? It collapsed in the mere presence of powers unconcerned by its lofty goals, and the statesmen who had insisted that our grandparents should rely on it finished by leaving them undefended.

Here we go again. When all this nonsense about international law is revealed as a pipe-dream, which it will be at some moment not convenient to us, the lawyers will doubtless find a way to argue the essential point, which is that it was not their fault.

4/20/2008 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

On the subject of political correctness, ben stein does a good examination of the intelligent design darwin academic controversy in his movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

I saw it tonight. Basically the molecular scientists of today are looking under their microscopes at a language that creates whole cities in cell. Its freaking them out of darwinian propositions. However, the darwinian establishment has become a closed shop. Darwins propositions lead to some serious religiously related conclusions. However, Darwins propositions are just that. The origin of the species is just a proposition--that somehow by chance inorganic molecules became organic molecules and then organized themselves into whole cities in a cell and then organized themselves again into multicelled animals. This is a pretty fanciful idea .However, it has become dogma.

4/20/2008 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

On the other hand, I for one welcome our new bewigged and learned legal overlords...

My reason is that since they cannot prevent themselves overreaching, each progressively more grotesque directive hastens the day when we shall come to our senses and throw off the whole absurd apparatus.

It's a bit like watching new instances of journalistic malpractice. You don't like any individual incident, and yet the eventual destination to which they are drawn like moths to a flame, at which they will before long complete the destruction of their shrinking franchises, is a wonderful thing to contemplate.

4/20/2008 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Wretchard's post time-stamped 7:01:00 pm seems to have a germ of hope.

If the British establish clearly that Sharía is so harsh as to make extradition of pirates, murderers, and terrorists illegal because of the likelihood of unacceptably cruel punishment of the criminals, that should help discredit Sharía as a legal system co-equal with that of Britain in particular, and the European Union generally.

On the other hand, I suspect there are plenty of idiots that wouldn't bat an eye at the conspicuous contradiction.

Quite cynically, the Islamists would argue for asylum for any Muslim. Look at the plague of rapes of European girls by Muslim adolescents in Scandinavia. The Muslim boys regard their victims as trash, whores, and infidels whose bodies deserve no protection in the first place. The elders of the Muslim community will not cooperate with the civil authorities in identifying or apprehending the rapists, and claim racism and bigotry as the base of any accusations or charges.

I wonder how things are going in Canada, where Montreal's separatist-yearnings have persuaded the Province's government to ignore and even defy the national government's restrictions on immigration. From what I've read, they've made Montreal an open city to Muslims --- effectively, a haven for terrorists.

In any case, there is increasing pressure from Muslim communities to allow them to set up Sharía courts to adjudicate disputes--- especially within marriages --- among Muslim Canadians.

Good Luck, eh?

4/20/2008 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Charles, it's a lot simpler to just say with the Hindus, that Consciousness Is, that there is now, always has been, and ever will be an 'universe', and that evolution is a gradual release from the bonds of ignorance, and that the proximate cause of this universe is a readying for those who are ripe for liberation, and that the ultimate cause is the play of the great mother. And why she plays, only she knows for sure.

This outlook puts the burden of behaving on ourselves, and sobers us up. There is no easy way out of misbehaving, other than changing out ways, which is possible, even if hard.

And, though I have mangled it, it is what the Hindus say, and makes a lot of sense, once it sinks in.

Our task therefore is to enter 'into the cool' as they have Gautama saying, which is bliss, consciousnes, being.

Whether any of this is true, I do not know, yet I think Jesus in his own way was talking about it, however twisted his words have become, down the ages. Under this outlook, there is a goal, and well worth it. We are just beginners, here.

4/20/2008 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

This outlook has the benefit of not trying to deny evolution, which is all about us, every day, but rather to see evolution as the expression of something else. It's grim, nauseating, but a drive towards God, and the celestial marriage, as the old folk used to say.

In our American literature, see, Walt Whitman,
Song of Myself, and the passages where his soul turns over on itself.

4/21/2008 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

Song Of Myself

4/21/2008 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

I don't mean the Mormon celestial marriage, though I respect it, but the old thing, the marriage of the spirit with the divine.

4/21/2008 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to
you,
And you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not
even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn'd over
upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue
to my bare-stript heart,
And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you held my
feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass
all the argument of the earth,

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women
my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap'd stones, elder, mullein and
poke-weed.

--

I say, this is good.

4/21/2008 12:49:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Charles: The origin of the species is just a proposition--that somehow by chance inorganic molecules became organic molecules and then organized themselves into whole cities in a cell and then organized themselves again into multicelled animals. This is a pretty fanciful idea .However, it has become dogma.

Dogma means a doctrine so rigidly fundamental it must not even be questioned. Biology, however, is science, and the essence of science is that anyone can come along with a counter observation to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy. So if Ben Stein has some evidence other than "Gee Whiz, this cellular activity is so complex it could not possibly have emerged from more basic processes" then he is welcome to publish his paper in Nature.

4/21/2008 03:41:00 AM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

"cellular activity is so complex it could not possibly have emerged from more basic processes"

his conclusion may be based on his and humans in general inability to fully grasp large amounts of time. it is said that life 1st appeared on earth 3 billion years ago. an incomprehensible amount of time by human standards. are we or aren't we the roll of the dice, that is the question.

4/21/2008 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

What do you expect when the British courts have ruled that a terrorist cannot be deported back to where he committed terrorism because he might be be tortured. Of course he cannot be jailed in England either.

This is nothing new as the Brits had a hands off policy for years. As long as you did nothing in the UK you could be masterminding the slaughter of millions. In the 90s, even the French were begging the Brits to do something about the ratbags who operated out of the UK.

4/21/2008 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops.

Fancy that!

After years of accusing Americans of trying to ram our Frankenfood down the throats of the hungry masses, now they are switching to the mode of accusing America of withholding Frankenfood from the hungry masses.

4/21/2008 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy's ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once. [

4/21/2008 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Buckets said...

Stephen mentioned Horatio Nelson turning over in his grave. What an apt lament. I had occasion to see Master and Commander: Far Side of the World with Russel Crowe recently, and was blown away by the depiction of the British empire near the height of its power. Brits had confidence in their civilization, knew what they were fighting for, and the English navy was the ruler of the seas.

I know Britain lost its nerve decades ago, and after the Iranians boarded and captured a Brit crew this pirate situation is not a big deal...but its extremely disheartening to hear stories about British weakness in the face of the enemy. If they can't even deal effectively with a few lousy pirates, what hope do the Brits have against "citizens of the Crown" who use the U.K. as an operating base?

4/21/2008 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

So if Ben Stein has some evidence other than "Gee Whiz, this cellular activity is so complex it could not possibly have emerged from more basic processes" then he is welcome to publish his paper in Nature.
/////////////
Actually, stein's piece deals with scientists whose work in the field has been squelched.

The greatest proponent of atheism these days is a brit name Richard Dawkins. In interview he opines that the way organic chemistry came from inorganic chemistry was that space aliens seeded the planet. He likely got that idea from another Brit Francis Crick who discovered the double helix formation of DNA. He opined back in the 50-60's that space aliens likely seeded the planet.

So these guys are willing to believe in intelligent design. But they make the designer a space alien.

4/21/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

slimslowslider said...

are we or aren't we the roll of the dice, that is the question.
/////
that's the black box that darwinists say life springs from.

It is not a scientific proposition.

It is a religious proposition.

4/21/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

charles: So these guys are willing to believe in intelligent design. But they make the designer a space alien.

Of course, if you object that the space aliens needed a designer, they will say, "Don't go there. It's space aliens all the way down!"

4/21/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Teresita said...

charles: So these guys are willing to believe in intelligent design. But they make the designer a space alien.

Of course, if you object that the space aliens needed a designer, they will say, "Don't go there. It's space aliens all the way down!"
/////////
no no no that's turtles.

4/21/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...

I thought it was elephants?!

4/21/2008 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Charles: that's the black box that darwinists say life springs from.

It is not a scientific proposition.

It is a religious proposition.


Not so. The theory is that pre-life molecules were subject to the same principles of natural selection that life is subject to. Chemical evolution. Long polymer chains of protein and nucleic acid were built up by random collisions long before ribosomes came along to assemble them under direction of RNA. There is no sharp dividing line between the living and non-living. Viruses, for example, have no cytoplasm and absent a host they can exist as crystals indefinitely.

4/21/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

The theory is that pre-life molecules were subject to the same principles of natural selection that life is subject to.
/////////////
Think about that sentence.

4/21/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Life cannot spring from anything but life, being. That is what the Hindus say. Makes sense. A gradual release of consciouness, seeking a return to its source.

4/21/2008 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Peyton said...

What about that video clip? My wife and I would swear that it's Charlton Heston as John Silver, but I see nothing of the sort on IMDB. So, which Treasure Island is it, and who's playing Silver?

We saw Expelled last evening, and thought that it was very compelling. Darwin's theories of natural selection are just that, theories. Examination, testing and expansion of them seems to be verbotten, however. Odd sort of scientific theory, to not be subject to scientific method...

4/21/2008 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

What about that video clip?

The video link is broken now, but Heston was in a version of Treasure Island. Here's the link:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100813/

Odd sort of scientific theory, to not be subject to scientific method...

The theory that the Earth revolves around the sun is also off limits to questioning by modern day Ptolemists. It's a travesty of science.

4/21/2008 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Georgfelis said...

I've said it before

Rights of Pirates
You have the right to experience Naval Gunfire.
You have the right to expect a short drop with an abrupt stop.
You have the right to take an attorney with you. Take two, they’re cheap.
You have the right to feed an endangered shark in person.
You have the right to discover God. Personally and quickly.
You have the right to become an example to your friends as “What Not To Do”

5/07/2008 10:34:00 AM  

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