October 23, 2007


Photo credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Welcome to Pirate Week at Goat Rope. If this is your first visit, please click on yesterday's post.

Many people have been entertained in recent years by the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, although for El Cabrero's money Errol Flynn's Captain Blood is still the pick of the litter.

For a good look at what real pirates were like in "the Golden Age of piracy," check out Colin Woodard's book, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man who Brought Them Down.

The Golden Age lasted for around 10 years between 1715 and 1725 and was based in the Bahamas. Many pirates got their start in "legitimate" ways, as sailors or privateers in the European dynastic wars in the early 1700s.

Although the ruling classes did their best to stoke up anti-pirate hysteria in those years, they were actually folk heroes to many ordinary sailors and subjects. And for at least some good reason--compared with the rapacity of the ruling classes of the period, the pirates were pretty mild and pretty appealing. Here's Woodward:

They ran their ships democratically, electing and deposing their captains by popular vote, sharing plunder equally, and making important decisions in open council--all in sharp contrast to the dictatorial regimes in place aboard other ships. At a time when ordinary sailors received no social protections of any kind, the Bahamian pirates provided disability benefits for their crews.

Back in the day, they were a multinational and multiracial band and there were even some prominent women pirates.

Aaarrgghh indeed!

SPEAKING OF PIRATES... this op-ed by Holly Sklar is worth a look. Here's the lead:

When it comes to producing billionaires, America is doing great.

And here's the punchline:

Inequality has roared back to 1920s levels. It was bad for our nation then. It's bad for our nation now.

The middle is worth checking out too.

BAD MOON RISING. Former Marine and UN arms inspector Scott Ritter will be visiting El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia this week. Here's his latest piece preventing war with Iran.

YOUNGER EVANGELICALS have some different priorities, according to this item from the Dallas Morning News:

For many conservative evangelical Christians younger than 30, family values mean more than the issues of gay marriage, abortion and prayer in school. Poverty, health care and the environment are also matters of faith.

CENSORING CONROY. It's deja vu all over again in the case of the efforts to ban the use of Pat Conroy's novels in AP English classes.

FIREFIGHTERS are cool. Alas, El Cabrero never got to revive a cat during his short and inglorious career as a volunteer firefighter.

SLEEP ON IT. As this science item from the NY Times suggests, it'll probably help.

PERCHANCE TO DREAM. This accompanying piece suggests that a possible function for bad dreams is to help the brain process fear.


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