Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Love Thine Scurvy Dogs

These days, speak fondly about pirates and you may get a lecture on copyright infringement. Or perhaps someone will mockingly call you the perfect model of a modern Major-General.

I mean to talk about real pirates. No eye makeup and Keith Richards impersonations. Just vicious, stinking, amoral terrors to legitimate international commerce. You know, like the people who conjured credit default swaps.

Anyway, there has never been a good time to be a pirate. The typical life of a pirate is nasty, brutish and short, which is a good thing because they rarely bathe. They sail for long periods with nothing to do but drink and sing songs about drinking, and perhaps enjoy social activities like knitting parasols from seaweed or doing the circle jerk.

Is it any wonder they are irritable? Have you ever had scurvy? Of course you haven't. I'll bet you get your RDA of Vitamin C from the fresh lime juice in your gimlet. Snob!

I digress.

The recent, spectacular failure of Somali pirates to capture the Maersk Alabama and its crew highlights the most pressing problem facing today's Pirate of the Somali Main: the US Navy. It is a colossal mismatch, and not in favor of the home team. Amazingly, inexplicably, Somali pirates are still actively hunting off the Horn of Africa. What have they got to lose?

The world is asking the right question: What opportunities are there for young Somalis other than piracy? Soldiering, the madrassa, destitution? Piracy means freedom and glory, potentially, as well as that pursuit of death thing. Live fast, die young and leave no corpse.

We know Somali pirates put to sea in small, fast boats, in teams of 3 or 4 young men who are lightly armed. They are at the mercy of the weather, dozens of miles out at sea, braving wretched conditions for days at a time while waiting for the chance to...WHAT?!? Harpoon and subdue a supertanker and its crew?

I don't understand that moment of decision, where the captain of a tiny pirate vessel spots the cruising city that is a modern container ship and says to his friends, "we can take 'em." Does anyone ask if he's insane? Or do they quietly agree that they can, in fact, take 'em?

Maybe they can take them. But not for long. Soon enough the world's navies will have squeezed their many warships into that narrow lane of water, protecting seaborne commerce to and from the Suez Canal. It will be curtains for the brave Somali pirates. They simply cannot compete with modern gunboats.

The East African Pirate will become extinct. This can only mean one thing: The Pirate is an endangered species, and must be protected!

And here's my plan to save them: Piratourism. The Pirate Safari. Piratespotting!

Here's what we know: The pirates have fast boats. But, we have faster boats. Our boats sneak in close so the piratourist can observe the pirates' normal behavior in his natural habitat. Then we withdraw at either maximum speed or silently depending on whether or not we have disturbed the pirates. We must understand the pirate ecosystem in order to protect it.

Friendly reminder: Pack a lunch. You can use it to negotiate your freedom in the event of engine trouble. This does not happen very, very often. Also, body armor is not compulsory as it doesn't float so well.

For the hearty adventurer who desires a bit more meat in his stew: We offer a glorious excursion around the Horn of Africa where you will enjoy nine days and eight nights of captivity, with or without torture, at sea and/or on land. Your subsequent ransom is built into the price of the vacation.

We can modify your vacation at any point to include the Stockholm Suite, ennabling you to actually become a pirate for as long as you'd like.

We put the host in hostage.

Somalia has much to gain by taxing Piratourism. The annual income will be enough to sustain schools and hospitals and a strong central government.

We must protect the precious resource that is today's pirate.

Would you prefer a world without pirates?

1 comment:

  1. Where do I sign up? Although I do have one condition: The proper way to make a gimlet is with Rose's lime juice, not fresh. Why is this? I have no idea. But it protects scurvy as well as the real thing.

    Sorry, I get so easily sidetracked when booze is mentioned. A brilliant piece regardless of what kind of lime juice you use.