Thursday, November 20, 2008


Pirates are once again in the news.

And not of the Caribbean, though I wish that were the case. They're all just a bunch of sexy, mascara-smearing, fun-loving drunks, weebling and wobbling their way from port to port, robbing from rich, well-armed nations and giving those doubloons to the poor... by spending them on rum and ivory chested wenches.

But no. Those quaint good old days are far in the past. Nowadays, we're talking about real deal, technologically modern Somali pirates, cruising the Indian Ocean, armed to the gills with AK47s and RPGs (I wonder where they got those RUSSIA), looking for easy prey (i.e. unarmed oil tankers, merchant freighters, cruise ships, etc.).

These Somali pirates have been quite successful. Currently, they have 20 ships under their control, ranging from, well, freighters to oil tankers. They've demanded a 25 million dollar payoff to release a recently captured Saudi oil tanker. And they're currently sitting on a freight ship loaded with enough supplies to arm a small country.

Now, this isn't the first instance of piracy in the present day. In fact, the practice is quite common. We just don't hear about it. Such acts occur south of Mexico, in the Gulf and near Baja. These pirates often attack drug smugglers.

And in the waters of Indonesia, pirates have been known to attack any ships unlucky enough to stumble upon them. They attack so often that merchant vessels traveling the Indonesian Straits of Malacca usually arm themselves with well-trained, well-armed, and well-paid mercenaries. As you can imagine, vessels sailing through either area pay heavy insurance premiums.

Thing is, I really don't understand how undeveloped, "Third World" countries can put together such successful piracy organizations in seas heavily patrolled by well-armed navies. It just doesn't make any sense. A dozen or so Somalis in little craft, creeping in the night with rope ladders and taking a monstrous oil tanker hostage. It just doesn't add up.

And neither do the excuses given by the world's navies. They claim that these bodies of water are just too big to properly patrol.


Point is, I've got a simple solution for ending piracy, and it's called the decoy. Take an oil tanker (or freighter or what have you) flying the Saudi or Yemeni flag. Make sure that it is at least double (if not triple) hulled, to prepare for a possible RPG attack.

Arm that tanker AS IF YOU ARE PREPARING FOR MODERN NAVAL WARFARE. Night vision. Radar. Sonar. Etcetera.

Now, here's the tricky part. This tanker has to LOOK like a tanker. It can't look like a battleship, for shits sake. That'll scare the pirates away. So, everyone on board is to wear coveralls and what not - whatever sailors wear (just not the gay sailor outfits... that may be pouring things on a little too thick).

Then, the ship must act as bait. Sail slowly, not far from the Somali coast. Remember: We're trying to draw out the fuckers here.

And without a doubt, a slow-moving freighter/tanker will be one of those must-haves for your typical Somali pirate: Especially if those Saudis give them the 25 million dollar ransom.

When the pirates strike (and they will) we retaliate mercilessly. Kill everyone involved. Sink all of their ships. And if things get hairy, call for help. There are plenty of navies out there.

After the shitstorm, continue sailing down the coast. Most likely, these Somali pirates are separate groups not in contact with each other. There's a good chance another bunch could be drawn in by the bait. If that happens, repeat the retaliation sequence. And so on.

Then again, let's look on the bright side of things here. We should be thanking these Somali pirates. Their actions have given us a chance for international cooperation and unilateral response. This could be the crisis that brings the world together again to fight a common enemy - the Pirate scourge.

But given that Premier Bush is in office for another two months, I think it highly unlikely that such unilateral cooperation will happen any time soon. One can only hope that time flies.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's in a Name?

Now that there's a little Craig on the way, I've been spending quite a bit of time researching names. The lady and I have decided we'd like something British Isles in origin: Scots-Irish specifically.

Strangely enough, we've had little difficulty with female names. We both like names that can work for either sex for girls. For example, I like the names Aidan, Blair, Blake, Caley, Rian and Sian (Sean). And we're pretty much in agreement on some of these. Of course, we haven't narrowed things down yet. But there's plenty of time for that.

The boys' names, however, have proven a sticky wicket. For example, I'm a fan of the names Geoghan and Tadgh (pronounced Guillen and Tige, like tiger minus the r). But the spelling of these names has proven an issue. Should the poor kid have to tote around a Scots-Irish pronunciation key with him to school? Should he have to explain himself at every turn? Won't this get tiresome/annoying?

As for the lady, she likes Cade. But this is problematic. You see, the main character in much of my fiction is named Caden, Cade for short. And Caden gets into a shitload of shenanigans. Basically, I don't want the child named after an alterego.

And then there's Tavis. I prefer a different spelling of the name: Tavish. And there we differ.

I never thought this name choosing would be so difficult. I imagined we'd hack it out in an hour or two and that'd be that. Not so.

You're branding your child with an identity. That name you give him or her builds character. And you don't want to screw up.

So, I like Geoghan and Tadgh, Riordan, Madoc and Tavish. One can always change the spelling to make things easier to pronounce.

Any suggestions?