Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yarrrr!

Yesterday, I read Pirate Wars by Peter Earle. Having no real knowledge about piracy or pirates in general, this book somehow piqued my interest at the bookstore. I did not know what to expect, but in short, it was delightful reading.

It is a scholarly account of Pirates and piracy, mostly centering on English-based pirates. There were a few things which struck me as I read the account. First, pirates were excessive in their lifestyles. It seemed almost a binge and purge lifestyle. Obviously, people think of Jack Sparrow from the Disney movies when this comes to mind, but it was more pronounced than a PG13 movie can describe. Not only did pirates drink to excess, they lived to excess when possible. Raping women was a feature of pirate life when they attacked coastal areas or ships. I had an idea that was a possibility before I read the book, I did not know how common it was. They also frequented prostitutes and other sorts of "groupies" when they were in "safe" places. Second, violence was a way of life. The very nature of piracy was such that one did not acquire booty without force. Sometimes ships surrendered without a fight, but that did not prevent violence. Captains were tortured in very extreme ways that went beyond flogging or a proper beating. Various crew positions were filled by what should be called slavery, as many were kidnapped and forced to work on pirate vessels. Just those few aspects were enlightening to me and makes me think of pirates in a completely unromantic way.

Another interesting feature was the failure of Britain's Royal Navy. In this account, they were the good guys, but did not put the effort necessary to quell piracy. Many captains were greedy and did not follow their commissions as pirate hunters. Instead, they used their vessels to make money for themselves. Often, the government did not supply the necessary equipment needed to hunt and destroy pirate vessels. The Royal Navy was slow to adapt to the real threats of piracy. In fact, the author basically credits James Madison with creating the conditions whereby the American and British navies could put a stop to piracy.

It was also interesting to see the Atlantic perspective in this work. Pirates were a threat to British North America. They were also employed by some of the colonies as well. There were commissions which went from New York to the Red Sea to rob Muslim ships coming from Mecca. Coastal Carolina was a haven for pirates. Virginia was threatened by pirates. Pirates also participated in the slave trade and interfered with it as well. Though, Earle focuses primarily on English based piracy, he is careful to give the reader a grasp of the Atlantic and global picture.

The last thing which struck me was the presentation of religion. Muslim pirates saw English (and other European pirates) as Christian. That seems to shock the senses of a modern Christian as myself, but there was a sense that early piracy, especially in the 1600s, was viewed as a holy war. In fact, piracy against Arab traders was justified by the British as a righteous endeavor because it was against Muslims. Muslim pirates, in turn, followed suit. This created an interesting and dangerous use of religion which many today would do well to understand.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tagged

I've been tagged by Chad.
The rules are:

  • The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
  • Each player answers the questions about himself or herself.
  • At the end of the post, the player then tags people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
Here we go …

Ten years ago, I was:
  • About to finish college.
  • Selling classified advertising for the Oklahoman.
  • An immature person.
5 Things on Today’s “To Do” List:
(or at least for the next 24 hours)
  • Get ready to see Tim Keller tonight in Pittsburgh.
  • Pack for Bethany Beach.
  • Order a left-handed pickguard for my Telecaster project.
  • Go to a graduation party tomorrow.
  • Study.
3 Bad Habits:
  • I don't pick up after myself.
  • I correct others' improper speaking grammar.
  • I am obsessively punctual.
5 Places I’ve Lived:
  • Oklahoma City.
  • Norman, OK.
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Greensboro, PA
  • Tuttle, OK
5 Jobs I’ve Held:
  • UPS Shift Supervisor
  • Sonic Manager
  • Classified ad salesman
  • Youth Pastor
  • Academic Advisor
Now you’re it: Phillip

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In Black and White

This morning I read The Undefeated: The Oklahoma Sooners and the Greatest Winning Streak in College Football which give a narrative and supposed inside view of probably the greatest coaching and playing performance in NCAA history. Well, it takes place in the 1950s. The thing was, as I read the book, I wasn't struck by the stories of Billy Vessels, Prentice Gautt, Bud Wilkinson, or the quips by Jack Ogle. No, it was in my visualization. Being from Oklahoma, I was familiar with some of the landmarks, places, and people in the book. The funny thing was that I visualized it in BLACK and WHITE. I guess I associate the 1950s with that. I don't know. Even when I tried to picture the narrative in color, it was that 1950s Disney colorization.
Weird, eh?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Life hits you quickly

I just finished my first full-time year at WVU. It seems like it just started. Wow. All that's left is one 3 credit class and a thesis this fall. Two master's degrees is too many, I think.

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