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Pirate Hunter

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the got-panther dept.

Books 191

Peter Wayner writes: "One of the greatest mysteries of today is whether a pirate is good or bad. On one hand, Disney campaigns against digital piracy while making a movie ( "Pirates of the Caribbean") pushing a theme park ride that celebrates life under the Jolly Roger. On one hand, we celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, while on the other hand this fine, upstanding investment company was fined $19.7m for copyright infringement and no one used the word 'Pirate.' This is the world that greets the paperback edition of Pirate Hunter, Richard Zacks's excellent history of the late so-called pirate, Captain William Kidd." Read on for the rest of Peter's review.

While Kidd's name may be synonymous with piracy in our culture's muddled collective memory, the book establishes that the sailor was nothing of the sort. If anything, he was framed by powerful forces trying to maintain a struggling business model. Why does that sound familiar?

This book is a wonderful example of what a talented writer and a relentless researcher can do with records that date from the 17th century. Kidd was born in Scotland in 1654, lived to see the 18th century, and recorded some of his daily life in log books that were sometimes sketchy and sometimes voluminous. By synthesizing the information from Kidd's papers, various British archives, ships logs, correspondence and other ephemera, Zacks was able to build a detailed narrative around Kidd's last major voyage. Did you know that in 1699, the going price for fine silks and other exotic fabrics was about 3 yards per piece of eight? Or perhaps that Cotton Mather preached to Kidd on January 21, 1700 on Jeremiah 17:11? I shudder to think what someone will be able to do with the Wayback machine.

By 1696 when the book begins, Kidd was one of the wealthiest landowners in the United States living in a river front mansion near Wall Street. His block and tackle helped build Trinity Church where his family sat in the fourth row each Sunday. Kidd married well and his wife gave him a child. Kidd was, according to his marriage certificate, a gentleman. Still, as Richard Grasso found out, this wasn't enough to stop the political winds from turning an seemingly honest dollar into ill-gotten plunder.

The pirate world, on the other hand, was a different place from the tip of Manhattan. The men on a true pirate ship sailed hard, tortured the weak ships they could find, and then spent their earnings on rum and women in sketchy ports of call that asked no questions. It was, according to the dreaded pirate Bartholomew Roberts , "A merry life and a short one."

Still, despite the disrespect for the rules of property, the pirate life offered many other socially advanced customs that outdistanced the civilized world where the Kings and Queens proclaimed they ruled by divine right. Zacks points out that pirate ships were run as strict democracies and the captains could be deposed at any time by a recall election known as a parlay. "All food and liquor was to be shared equally, a mind-boggling concept for sailors long used to watching officers dine and guzzle for hours on end," he notes.

So why did Kidd leave his comfortable New York home and head to sea again? Zacks establishes that Kidd was given a commission by four lords in the British admirality. Kidd received a new ship, a crew, and the instructions to capture any of the pirates who were plaguing the British East India companies. Kidd was to be a pirate hunter, a fighter for good, not evil, who would conveniently split his takings with his four backers. Some details of the commission were kept secret because the backers were going to keep the treasure and avoid giving the goods back to the rightful owners who lost the treasure to the pirates in the first place. This was a cousin to the doctrine proclaiming that two wrongs make a right.

The book sails through Kidd's voyage in exquisite detail. It's a pirate story that sometimes wilder and sometimes slower than any fiction writer could offer. Somewhere along the trip, the rumors begin to circulate that Kidd had turned pirate. Zacks suggests the whispers began as an act of treachery by one of his old partners who did dabble in piracy. The partners could cover their own tracks by blaming Kidd. The rumors fed into the Royal Navy's faulty intelligence network which dutifully hyped the size of the pirate world in order to serve its own ends.

Along the way, it becomes clear that piracy was as much a different political system as a violent crime against property. When the laws and strictures of society grow too binding, men might slip them off and sail into the sunset. Piracy was a decision to forgo the social contract that most had never signed in the first place, in most cases because the social contract offered by the official government was not particular gracious. Zacks compares life on a pirate ship to life under the British flag when the opportunity presents itself.

Who received a greater share of the wealth? Which class structure was more rigid? Who was responsible for more privation and inhumanity? It's impossible to do the calculus, but Zacks makes it clear that the pirates understood something of what Bob Dylan's theorem that you must be honest to live outside the law. At one bitterly ironic point, the black so-called pirates on Kidd's ship are treated with much more respect than the white ones, but only because the captors know that the black ones will fetch a nice price at the slave market in London.

In Kidd's case, the question of his piracy oscillates in a mechanism of a war between political factions. Zacks suggests that the English East India company, which was sort of the Microsoft of the day when sea trade was high tech, fanned the rumors of Kidd's departure from fair society to ingratiate itself before the Grand Moghul in India. Kidd's commission to take so-called pirate ships put him at odds with the work of the trading company which launched merchant ships skirting their own set of rules.

So the book evolves on two levels. The men fight with guns and ships that are all just extensions of lawyers and corporations. Kidd's struggle to gain a fortune, repay his backers, and return to his wife in New York gets caught in the middle of the greater evolution of English law, American rebellion, French imperialism, and old fashioned greed, . Was he a pirate or gentleman? Does he plunder enough pirates to repay his backers? Does he survive to clear his name? It would be a shame to ruin this fine story by revealing the ending of the book. Of course, the deeper questions of the true nature of piracy and its hold on our imagination, continue to resonate today.


Peter Wayner is the author of Policing Online Games , a book about pirate hunting of a sort, and Java RAMBO Manifesto , an exploration of how to live without a database. You can purchase Pirate Hunter from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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191 comments

frost pist (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7240872)

from Fort Bend ISD

GOD, have you SEEN Timmy's Boi Toy? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241072)

SHIT and HOT DAMN! All I can say is JAILBAIT!

Ninjas (-1, Offtopic)

wankledot (712148) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240886)

Why even bother talking about it? Ninjas kick pirate ass all day long.

Re:Ninjas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7240911)

You Middle-class, minority-exploiting opinionists who adore Fidel Castro!

SUCK IT!!!!!

Re:Ninjas (2, Funny)

slothbait (2922) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240919)

Why even bother talking about it? Ninjas kick pirate ass all day long.

I'm being off topic but I must be said.

vikings > ninjas > pirates

This is journalistic bullshit! (0)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240987)

WTF is this shit?!!!!

He's no pirate!

This dirty murdering scumbag didn't illegaly copy a single song or movie! All he ever did is rob some ships, kill some sailors and rape some innocent civilians! And he calls himself a pirate?!!!!

Re:Ninjas (0)

wankledot (712148) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241008)

Now come on, what could a viking possibly be able to do to a ninja?

Ninjas are quicker, quieter, deadlier, and just all around better.

Unless you're talking about Beowulf here, in which case, he might pose a threat to some ninjas. (Yes, beowulf is more than cluster software, for those of you playing along at home.)

Re:Ninjas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241010)

vikings > ninjas > pirates

And (vikings with spam) > vikings.

Re:Ninjas (1)

cK-Gunslinger (443452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241076)

And where do Robot Ninjas [slashdot.org] fit into this Hierarchy?

Re:Ninjas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241561)

Yeah, what about Fembots (think: Austin Powers)?

Re:Ninjas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241094)

Dude! Vikings == pirates! Ninja > vikings/pirates.

NINJAS ARE TOTATALLY AWESOME! THEY EXIST TO FLIP OUT AND KILL PEOPLE!

Click here to learn more. [realultimatepower.net]

Re:Ninjas (1)

sonicattack (554038) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241497)

That was so funny, I almost kicked my mom in the face when I read it!

Re:Ninjas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241130)

I don't think so Tim. Vikings are certainly greater than pirates, they sailed over half the world looting and plundering and are pretty much a sect of pirates themselves.

Ninja on the other hand are hardcore badasses. These guys were technically born into the japanese peasant class, but learned combat\assassin techniques in secret. Not hampered by the codes of Bushido as the samurai were they were brutally effective at assasinations and spying. A knife in the dark is worth a thousand swords at dawn.

Re:Ninjas (1)

sonicattack (554038) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241198)

Ninjas are sweet!

Ninja arts is the true application of Real Ultimate Power [realultimatepower.net] )!

:)

Re:Ninjas (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241268)

Don't forget the ultimate:

guys with guns > vikings > ninjas > pirates

errr... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241362)

You might want to adjust your hierchy, unless you don't consider flintlock pistols and cannon to be "guns".

Have you seen THIS? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7240887)

MAN-O-MAN! Have you SEEN SlashMod Timothy's Boi Toy? Good Fucking Lord! I just about CAME in my pants!

TACO == BUTT PIRATE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7240908)

Strange, but queerly true!

Pirates... (0, Offtopic)

Bondolo (14225) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240914)

...yar

Re:Pirates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241079)

A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel attached to his crotch...
The bartenders asks about it and the pirate replies "Yar! It's driving me nuts!"

Timothy's SECRET! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241112)

Have you SEEN the boi that Timmy has been hangin' with? All I can say is JAILBAIT and is that a "40" in his pants, or is he just happy? GOD DAMN Tim, WAY TO GO!

QOTD= True meaning of this book (2, Funny)

lostindenver (53192) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240916)

Per slashdot quote machine when I read this review: "This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force". -- Dorothy Parker

Re:QOTD= True meaning of this book (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241267)








Please take the cock out of your mouth and squirt the sperm out of your asshole and you will feel much better. Or at least less gay.









Pirate Hunter? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7240917)

"Crickey!"
Errr... I mean, "Arrrr!"

Why pirates are bad (2, Interesting)

Zanek (546281) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240922)

Pirates have always been considered bad in the strictest sense. They are those that take property of others.
What Disney et al have done is romantize the Pirate for movies and the like to sell a product.
They glamorize it, make it look cool, fun, exciting, and package it
like anything else. All we have here is the new commercialization of something old which was bad now made to seem cool
We've all seen that happen before . Think about it:-)

Re:Why pirates are bad (1)

notque (636838) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241304)

Pirates have always been considered bad in the strictest sense. They are those that take property of others.
What Disney et al have done is romantize the Pirate for movies and the like to sell a product.
They glamorize it, make it look cool, fun, exciting, and package it
like anything else. All we have here is the new commercialization of something old which was bad now made to seem cool


So what you're saying is that the copy of Winzip that I just cracked will not make me handsome, and cool? ..... Disney has hoodwinked us all!

Re:Why pirates are bad (1)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241325)

That sounds like non-pirate talk to me!

Get him boys!

Re:Why pirates are bad (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241575)

I think you mean:

Yaarrr, that's be soundin' like land-lubber talk, ifs ya asks me! Go get'em lads!

Re:Why pirates are bad (2, Insightful)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241365)

Pirates have always been considered bad in the strictest sense.

Pirates at various times were commisioned by governments such as England as a means to wage war on enemy nations, such as Spain. They would even turn a portion of their booty over to the King in return for the ships and safe havens he provided. Since they weren't military, but private citizens, they weren't subject to the "Rules of War" which would have frowned on attacking merchant ships on the open seas (part of why Germany's U-boat campaign was frowned upon).

Of course, England thought of these chaps as "Privateers", and were important but still looked down upon.

Sniff my arse and enrich your body and mind (-1)

(TK2)Dessimat0r (669581) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240923)

-INSANE-PRIEST--INSANE-PRIEST--INSAN
I___________,.-------.,____________I Slashdot
N______,;~'_____________'~;,_______N fucking
S____,;____LINUX FUCKING____;,_____S sucks
A___;___SUCKS, YOU FUCKING____;____A
N__,'____SLASHDOT RETARDS.____',___N Rob Malda
E_,;___GET IT INTO YOUR HEAD___;,__E is a
-_;_;______._____l_____.______;_;__- cocksucker
P_l_;____________l____________;_l__P
R_l__`/~"_____~"_._"~_____"~\'__l__R Slashdot
I_l__~__,-~~~^~,_l_,~^~~~-,__~__l__I fucking
E__l___l________}:{__ (O) __l___l__E sucks
S__l___l_ (o) _/_l_\______O_!___l__S
T__.~__(__,.--"_.^._"--.,__)__~.___T Rob Malda
-__l_____---;'_/_l_\_`;---_____l___- is a
-___\__._______V.^.V___((oo))./____- cocksucker
I__O_VI_\________________ll_IV___O_I
N_____I_lT~\___!___!___/~ll_I______N Fucking
S_____I_l`IIII_I_I_I_IIIIll_I__o___S lameness
A_O___I__\,III_I_I_I_III,ll_I______A filters,
N______\___`----------'__ll/____o__N will
E____O___\___._______.___ll_________E this
-_________\..___^____../(_l___O____- ever
P_________/_^___^___^_/__ll\_______P fucking
R_O______/`'-l l_l l-';__ll_l___O__R WORK?!
I_______;_`'=l l_l l='__/ll_l______I
E_____O_l___\l l~l l__l/_ll_l______E Your mother
S_______l\___\ l_l l__;__ll_l__O___S was good
T__o____l_\___ll=l l==\__ll_l______T in bed, she
-____o__l_/\_/\l_l l__l`-ll_/______- grunts like
-_______'-l_`;'l_l l__l__ll_____O__- an ape.
I_O_______l__l l_l l__l__ll________I
N____O____l__l+l_l+l__l__ll___O____N Rob Malda
S_________l__"""_"""__l__ll________S is a
A__O______l____o_o____l__ll____O___A cocksucker
N_________l,;,;,;,;,;,l__ll________N
E_____O___`lIlIlIlIlIl`__ll________E
-__________llIlIlIlIll___ll_____O__- By Dessimat0r
P__________`"""""""""`___""________P (c)2003 Trollkore
-INSANE-PRIEST--INSANE-PRIEST--INSAN

The bishop, while living, was a follower of God.
Now dead, his rotting fingers are able to raise
an army of skeletons from the grave.

Trollkore
"I hate you, I hate your country, and I hate your face!"

# Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) # Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated # Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) # Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)

^^^that^^^ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241044)

That was highly impressive.

Line-ucks users take note! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7240931)

Insensitive, tax-raising looters who live with their mothers and Bone-headed, clueless thieves who adore Gerry Adams

Craven, insensitive man-haters who hate their parents

Grog is not ficticious!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7240942)

No sir, indeed. It was a sugar and hot rum. In fact, the Royal Navy used to have "rum rations" as late as 1995!

But for Rob Malda, they'd need "cum rations." (Just kidding Rob!)

Re:Grog is not ficticious!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241039)

"Don't talk to me about slashdot trolldition, it's all rum, goatse [goatse.cx] and the lash."
-- Sir Winston Churchill

Hakim Bey: TAZ (2, Interesting)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240961)

Hakim Bey has written some interesting things about pirates, and Temporary Autonomous Zones. Excerpt:

Pirate Utopias

"THE SEA-ROVERS AND CORSAIRS of the 18th century created an "information network" that spanned the globe: primitive and devoted primarily to grim business, the net nevertheless functioned admirably. Scattered throughout the net were islands, remote hideouts where ships could be watered and provisioned, booty traded for luxuries and necessities. Some of these islands supported "intentional communities," whole mini-societies living consciously outside the law and determined to keep it up, even if only for a short but merry life."

http://www.gulfislands.com/momo/TAZ.html [gulfislands.com]

Re:Hakim Bey: TAZ (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241402)

booty traded for luxuries and necessities

If I were a lonely horny pirate, I'd probably be trading some luxuries for some booty myself.

C//

Re:Hakim Bey: TAZ (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241550)

Careful, or you'll be the next upstanding investment company was fined $19.7m for copyright infringement. :)

1 H3r3By... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7240964)

... c3l3Br4T3 t4Lk l1k3 4 PiR4T3 d4yz0r!

-1 d4y w4r3z pwNz 4ll 0f j00's!

Re:1 H3r3By... (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241321)

7|-|i5 iz n0+ +41kin9 1ik3 4 pir8, +hi5 iz 741|i|\|9 1ik3 4 14/v\0r!

Typo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241597)

741|i|\|9

Of course you meant to type "741|{i|\|9"

One little "{" makes all the difference in the world.

I read this months ago (2, Interesting)

ellem (147712) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240970)

It isn;t a wildly diff't story and Dafoe's but is was a great read and it DID remind me a lot of Pirates! which kicks ass.

The big flaw is is that it is _too_ apologetic of Kidd. No, he didn't mean to be a Pirate, but he was.

I Agree (3, Insightful)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240972)


A pirate has come to mean something too cudly and innocuous. In fact, the loose use of the term to describe otherwise ordinary people engaging in distribution of material copyrighted by others has done much to diminish the proud tradition of "pirate".

From now on, all official RIAA pronouncements will obide by a new naming scheme. Opponents of RIAA will be referred to as "digital terrorists", "hackers", and "pedophiles", preferably in the same sentence.

Thanks for the great review! (1)

JLSigman (699615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7240977)

I'll have to go get this from the library.

There is a big difference (0, Funny)

slyxter (609602) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241007)

between a "Slash your throat and rape your wife" pirate and a "Burn a copy of windows XP" priate.

Re:There is a big difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241085)

So which was Kidd? Technically I think he was the former, but in spirit, it seems he was the latter.

Also, Tuesday is a different day of the week than Wednesday, but they are both days of the week.

Re:There is a big difference (0)

slyxter (609602) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241123)

Also, Tuesday is a different day of the week than Wednesday, but they are both days of the week

Fair enough, but if you got kicked in the nuts every Tuesday and a free beer every Wednesday would you feel that Tuesday was the same as Wednesday?

Re:There is a big difference (1)

Mechanik (104328) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241090)

between a "Slash your throat and rape your wife" pirate and a "Burn a copy of windows XP" priate.

Yes, but at least the former has gotten laid at some point...

And don't get me started on the third kind of pirates, namely the ones that slash your wife and rape your throat...


Mechanik

Re:There is a big difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241611)

laid !== rape

Pirate's Progress? (3, Insightful)

tsanth (619234) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241017)

After reading the bookseller's reviews [barnesandnoble.com] , I didn't find any references to modern-day piracy.

Contrary to the review given here, I don't see anything about the book "evolving on two levels"; rather, I see a biography.

I mean... I'll still give it a read at the bookstore (and maybe pick it up), but I think it'd be prudent to know that I'm getting myself into a biography, not some veiled reference to today's legal issues.

CMDR TACO TO SUCK PUFFIN'S PENIS. NEWS AT 11. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241033)

This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force. -- Dorothy Parker

Re:Pirate's Progress? (1)

pimpinmonk (238443) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241557)

Agreed. It's open to interpretation, surely, but it reminds me of how every single book in high school ended up to actually be about the fall of man from grace just because a character would "fall" at some point in the story, no matter who fell or how. See, now that you think about it, it makes sense, but un-think about it, and you can see that it could just be that the character fell down and went boom. Similarly, the parallels to modern "piracy" surely make sense but we can't assume that it's the author's intent. This review, to me anyway, read more like a paper than a review--he draws facts from the biography and analyzes it in context of another, current issue.

But yeah, I don't think this is quite a "The Crucible" or anything similar, or at least not by intent of the author.

Psychic! (2, Funny)

cK-Gunslinger (443452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241022)

Without even reading anything more than the story blurb, I deduce that this book got a rating of... 8!

[checks rating]

Ding! Ding! Step right up folks, a winner every time. =P

talk like a butt pirate day (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241031)

gee fellahs, that ith thwell. you guys are jutht tho bad. but that thweater is jutht devinve. where ever did you get it.

sugarcoating... (2, Interesting)

Cedric C. Girouard (21203) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241041)

Disney's ability to sugarcoat things is a well known one...

They've been doing it forever... Ghost's, pirate's, even lions... I for one have seen a lion feed, and trust me, it's not a cuddly thing...

I shudder to think of the next Disney huggy-feely movie... Something like "My dear serial-killer..." or "The pedophile King" ... These guys could probably make Saddam into a model neighbourg...

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go wash my twisted mind with bleach...

Re:sugarcoating... (1)

SirLanse (625210) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241447)

He is the Sultan of Agrebah.
Disney also wants to insult Catepillar and call it all slapstick fun.

This time they've gone too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241472)

Disney's ability to sugarcoat things is a well known one...

They've been doing it forever... Ghost's, pirate's, even lions


They sugarcoated goatse? That's just too much! They shouldn't be showing that to kids!

"My name was Robert Kidd, as I sailed. . . (2, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241082)

. . .as I sailed,
My name was Robert Kidd, as I sailed.
My name was Robert Kidd, and God's laws I did forbid,
And much wickedness I did, as I sailed."

Captain Kidd was no pirate. He was a privateer. Still, if you are the victim of such there is little to tell between them.

Many pirates were gentleman themselves and often acted to higher level of ethics and morality than their privateer cousins.

Privateers were no choir boys. They killed. They stole. They simply did it under the aegis of "law."

But certainly Kidd was no pirate and was ill used by his powerful patrons. In the words of Woody Guthrie, "Some rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen."

I know how the story ends already. My family comes from one of the areas where Kidd is reputed to have buried his treasure. There's nothing really new in this book that can't be found elsewhere. Still, it's a good telling of the story for those unfamiliar with it.

KFG

This is silly. (2, Insightful)

MythoBeast (54294) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241099)

Why is it that this guy thinks that the seagoing pirates were good guys? Certainly we've romanticized that kind of pirate, but this is a form of social blindness purposefully done in the name of entertainment.

The original pirates were just guys who lived outside the law by stealing whatever they could from those who went outside law's reach. We've romanticized them because of their freedom.

In a few specific cases, those who we call pirates were actually acting in protest of (or in the pay of) one government or another. Today we have Terrorists vs. Freedom Fighters, but back then they had Pirates vs. Privateers. No real difference if you're on the wrong end of things.

Re:This is silly. (1)

s20451 (410424) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241274)

Well, not exactly. In the new world, the colonial powers couldn't afford to pay for standing navies to enforce their claims and beat up on the enemy of the week. So many pirates were private military contractors, who carried out the bidding of the various powers in exchange for a (large) percentage of whatever they plundered.

Didn't you ever play Pirates by Sid Meier? Damn, I was addicted to that game for, like, two years. The best part was having to duel some snotty major over the governor's hot daughter.

Re:This is silly. (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241371)

So many pirates were private military contractors, who carried out the bidding of the various powers in exchange for a (large) percentage of whatever they plundered.

For what it's worth, those guys were privateers; they carried letters of marque that were supposed to legitimize what they were doing. Of course, legitimacy depended upon which side you were on ;-)

-h-

Re:This is silly. (1)

Merk (25521) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241406)

This guy gets the silly idea that seagoing pirates were not bad guys by doing something called "research". If you'll even read the review it says that Captain Kidd was hired to hunt pirates but due to some political maneuvering and backstabbing he was declared to be a pirate and got in real trouble as a result.

He also says that certain pirates were just people fed up with the English colonial system, so they decided to live outside its laws. If people who live outside the laws are bad, then what of the people who started the American revolution?

The guy's whole point is that pirates were neither jolly people with parrots on their shoulders who lived a carefree life, nor were they evil people who raped and murdered just for the fun of it. They were somewhere in the middle, living brutal lives, but they were also trying to escape the oppressive British (or French or Dutch) rule, and were caught up in the politics of their time.

Re:This is silly. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241504)

To me, the reviewer doesn't seem to be justifying the pirate's crimes so much as making the point that the institutional injustices of the British Empire at the time were even worse. Call it "defense by charge of hypocrisy," like when we try to justify fileswapping by pointing out how the RIAA's member corporations steal from the public by fixing prices.

None of which makes the thought of being victimized by a real (historical) pirate any more appealing.

Umm.... no. (1)

jared_hanson (514797) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241108)

On one hand, we celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day...

The only people who know about Talk Like a Pirate day are those doing research for arcane book reviews. I have never heard of this day, much less celebrated it. I am testing my resolve and not clicking this link. Somehow I don't think it will take much. I don't think my life would be bettered greatly by learning about talk like a pirate day.

Re:Umm.... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241134)

You're wrong. I heard about it a few weeks back on the radio. There were two women that wouldn't stop making lame pirate jokes.

Dude, Dave Barry wrote about it. It's his favorite (1)

westfirst (222247) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241194)


Read this [miami.com] , or this. [sacbee.com] Arrrr, Polly want a clue?

Re:Umm.... no. (2, Insightful)

urbazewski (554143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241222)

The only people who know about Talk Like a Pirate day are those doing research for arcane book reviews.

Or those who read Dave Barry [miami.com] or listen to NPR.

Re:Umm.... no. (1)

MrCam (97813) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241260)

Or people who read Dave Barry's Syndicated column.

On the Lowry vs. Legg Mason Judgement (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241110)

Juries hand out large awards like this all the time. What typically happens in any lartge civil cases is this:
  1. The defendant promises to appeal
  2. The defendant tells the plaintiff that they won't pay a dime unitl the appeals are over, which could last many years
  3. The plaintiff's attorney knows that the defendant can move assets off-shore, file bankruptcy, etc in an effort to dodge paying the judgement.
  4. The plaintiff and the defendant negotiate a post-judgement settlement, where the plaintiff pays a smaller amount immediately, rahter than dragging the process out.
I predict that the defendant here is going to walk away with 2 or 3 milion, not the 19 million that the jury awarded.

It?s a matter of semantics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241115)

One of the greatest mysteries of today is whether a pirate is good or bad.

When the individual does the stealing, it's is called piracy. When governments do the same thing, its called policing, military intervention, or taxation.

Re:It?s a matter of semantics (1)

mike_mgo (589966) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241297)

Ah, so insightful.

Of course I don't know of too many bridges built by pirates, or fire departments they fund or many of the thousands of other useful things that governments do. Sure governments and beuracracies are wasteful, and should be held to task for that, but to equate taxation with theft is such simple-minded thinking that it's laughable.

Re:It?s a matter of semantics (1)

Helter (593482) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241492)

No, it's really not. It doesn't matter what a thief does with the money, if he takes it without permission it's theft.

That's what the government does, under the flimsy justification of a "social contract" that nobody alive today has signed, and which they break regularly and with impugnity.
No simple-mindedness, the government takes your money by threat of force. They don't even do it equitably, just like a common theif, the more you have, the more they take. The wealthiest half of the US population pays 96% of all taxes.

My penis (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241138)

My penis has your name on it. Come, suck on it. Feast on the rich, meaty flavor and the soft, creamy center.

-- The WIPO Avenger

Pirate Hunter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241152)

Aw, look at this one 'ere. Isn't 'e a beaut! The famous Blackbeard pirate is known to rape, pillage, and loot small Caribbean villages in the spring through the fall. Now, I'm goin' ta' go pick up him up to show the viewers at home a better view. Don't ever try to this at home.

Easy now... easy now... WHOA!

As you can see, the Blackbeard has a dangerous sword which 'e uses to scare off larger predators, like the British Navy. Danger, danger, danger!

Hold on right here while I jam the thumb up his butt...

what is good? (1)

adelayde (185757) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241181)

Questions for me are, w.r.t. software and music piracy:

1. Are restrictive copyrights good?
2. Are patents good?
3. Is control over free distribution of knowledge, information and deeds by large faceless corporates and non-elected, non-governmental organisations good?
4. Is the extortionate price of CDs, videos and software good?
5. Is the exploitation of developing and third-world workers in the production of consumer media goods for the West a good thing?
6. Is the fact that a large percentage of the price of software/music actually goes towards marketing, packaging and generally profiteering, rather than the actual product in question a good thing?
7. Is the fact that the actual people who do the work (programmers and artists, or just artists if you see programmers that way) get a relatively small proportion of the finanical benefit from the sale in comparison to the monolithic behemoths that punt the stuff out to the ever willing consumer good?

Then I ask myself whether piracy is a good or bad thing and I would answer that it is all bad.

At least try to make sense (1)

CitznFish (222446) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241192)

I hope most of us realize that Pirates of the sea are not the same pirates that copy financial newsletters and illegally distribute them. there is a difference, something the original poster failed to recognize. Just goes to show /. will post the dumbest crap submitted and ignore all my hard work. Maybe I'll run up the skull abnd crossbones and raid their office

Re:At least try to make sense (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241470)

Do you really doubt that people confuse the two? Presented with no context, the word pirate is ambiguous. But then, so is the word pitch.

s/doubt/think (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241507)

but hopefully you get my point anyway...

Re:At least try to make sense (1)

CitznFish (222446) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241593)

replying to your own reply is just silly ;)

Are biological viruses good or evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241205)

Kidd was to be a pirate hunter, a fighter for good, not evil...

What a joke. The world doesn't operate according to laws of absolute morality.

All the good and evil talk makes me think of George Bush.

Totally infantile.

The pirate hunter.... (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241208)

Here we find the pirate in his native environment, once a proud ocean going species, the modern pirate makes his home in basements and subsides on a diet of instant Raman. Bereft of social skills, the pirate will often take on a female persona in an attempt to trick other males posing as females into online chat room lesbian sex. The best way to rile up a modern pirate is to introduce a real female into its habitat. Crikey, looks like he wet himself.

...going limp... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241218)

HARRRRRRRR!!!...

All political in the end... (1)

ssclift (97988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241233)

If you are Dutch, then Piet Hein [wikipedia.org] is a national folk hero. If you are Spanish or Portugese then he was a rapacious Dutch pirate stealing colonial income.

If you're Canadian, then the Brig the Sir John Sherbrooke [chebucto.ns.ca] was a warship, if you were American, a pirate ship. Vice-versa for the Syren.

As with acts of war [pbs.org] anywhere, perspectives [go.com] can differ [aljazeera.net] even amongst folks supposedly on the same side. [thememoryhole.org]

Arrr matey (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241254)

It may not be insightful, it may not be funny, and I'm sure it is not a troll.

However, we can't let nearly 40 comments in a Pirate item slip by without even one "Arrr matey" comment, can we?

Re:Arrr matey (1)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241289)

However, we can't let nearly 40 comments in a Pirate item slip by without even one "Arrr matey" comment, can we?

Yes. Yes we can.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241271)

On one hand, Disney campaigns against digital piracy while making a movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean"

I know maybe the poster thought this was clever, but it's really a complete non sequitur.

Welcome to a world without editorial oversight. It's not pretty.

Then again, the world *with* editorial oversight led to the Los Angeles Times becoming the propaganda arm of the California Democrats, and spewing forth political assassination pieces. If you thinki not, you haven't been paying attention to the recent insider details leaking out. And have you noticed how all those serious charges against Arnold, with talk of civil cases and even criminal charges, have all dried up and vanished?

You book you want to read... (1)

Gareman (618650) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241283)

You book you want to read is "Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates." This book discusses the reality of pirates.

The reality is that pirates were most often very bad people who murdered and tortured anyone who did not give up without a fight. Some people had no choice of becoming a pirate, facing death. They were executed nontheless when caught. Other people were sanctioned by their government to be pirates; they were called privatees. Most pirates were ex navy men looking for adventure, easy money, and an egalitarian form of leadership. Pirate ships often had direct democracy, while naval ships had brutal dictatorships (the captain). Also, as pirate ships were often crewed by ten times the number of naval vessels, due to economic constraints, life was sifnificantly easier.

Wait, was it.... (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241285)

..stagger, stagger, crawl, crawl, tumble?

Or stagger, crawl, tumble, tumble, stagger, crawl?

5 points to the first one to get the reference.

Re:Wait, was it.... (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241331)

Yellowbeard?

Re:Wait, was it.... (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241490)

Give that (I'm assuming you're male) man 5 karma points!

Re:Wait, was it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241503)

Yellowbeard.

3 hands? (1)

d0ggi3 (470141) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241292)

lucky bastard...

I think I speak for everyone... (1)

pebs (654334) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241302)

yarrrrrrrr

Jose' Gaspar! (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241303)

They forgot Gasparillia day [tampaguide.com]

Gasparillia Day is an annual party, akin to Mardi Gras, that celebrates when the Tampa Bay area was invaded by pirates. Much debauchery is to be had!

I have beeds! Show me your Tits!
Oh.. Sorry...flash back.

"on one hand" (1)

mcb (5109) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241322)

your use of "on one hand..., while on the other..." sucked. at first i thought you had 3 hands.

Pirate Philosophy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241369)

I am a free prince and have as much authority to make war on the whole world as he who has a hundred sail of ships and an army of a hundred thousand men in the field. And this my conscience tells me; that there is no arguing with such sniveling puppies who allow superiors to kick them about the deck at pleasure, and pin their faith upon the pimp of a parson, a squab who neither practices nor believes what he puts upon the chuckle-headed fools he preaches to.

--Black Sam Bellamy, pirate captain

millidollars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241376)

...this fine, upstanding investment company was fined $19.7m for copyright infringement...

Is "m" for milli? Is $19.7m equal to 1.97 cents?

One of the greatest mysteries of today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7241390)

Is how many hands does this critic/author have?

On one hand, Disney campaigns.... On one hand, we celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, while on the other hand....

MOD WAYYYYY UP!!! (1)

gregarican (694358) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241488)

LMFAO! This is the best post so far on this topic. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

That's a dumb point... (1)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241433)

>>
Disney campaigns against digital piracy while making a movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean", pushing a theme park ride that celebrates life under the Jolly Roger

Give me a break... And the studios that create films about horrible murders but are against murdering people are hypocrites too right?

Dumb.

Captain Kidd's Cat (1)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 10 years ago | (#7241480)

I remember reading this book [amazon.com] long ago. It was published in 1984, actually. Well written; would probably be an interesting read now even for a children's book. You might find it at a local library (send the kid in to get it, don't want to scare all the little kids in that section of the library).

It tells pretty much the same story about Captain Kidd, through the eyes of his cat. While no one really knows how far Kidd went, there are enough ambiguities to make this at least one possibility. We probably will never really know...the lure of incredible wealth is certainly very strong.
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