Friday, November 30, 2007

We're Fucked

The world is just completely fucked.

All of the Democrat candidates are Christians and can't jump up fast enough to declare their love of Jesus and complete respect for strong faith in any religion.

Half of the Republican candidates are strict creationists themselves who actively oppose evolution.

Florida just voted to teach creationism with evolution, and a few members of the board there have hinted that they'd vote to abolish evolution completely if it was put to vote.

The head of the Texas schoolboard is doing everything he can right now to put creationism in and take evolution out, and it looks like he'll do it.

The British government is telling their citizens and the world to love and respect all Muslims and not to make any waves, as hordes of fanatical jihadists (i.e. the common citizens of Muslim countries) take to the streets burning effigys and demanding a woman be put to death for giving a stuffed animal the most common male name in the world.

More Americans believe in hell - as an actual literal place, not some metaphor - than believe in evolution.

So... good game, world over, nice try.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Go Fuck Yourself Sudan

Really, this isn't any worse than any of the other atrocities committed by Muslim governments every week, like the woman who was given 200 lashes for riding in a car with an unrelated man, who also raped her. For some reason this teacher in Sudan has really grabbed my attention. I guess it's because her picture is everywhere, and she just looks so kind and innocent, I dunno.

Anyways, after the Sudanese embassy assured the world that this entire thing was a "tempest in a teapot", a misunderstanding that would certainly amount to nothing, Gillian Gibbons has been charged with the crime of blasphemy. She was in court today (verdict pending at the time of this writing), and must "prove her innocence" to avoid punishments ranging from fines, to jail time, to lashings from a stiff leather whip. That's a quote by the way, prove her innocence. That's how they do things in Sudan.

As before, of course, the quotes from all sides are unbelievable.

"I hope the charges will be dropped and I hope she will be released but I also hope that people will understand that the whole thing came about because of insensitivity on her part," spokesman Khaled al-Mubarak told the BBC.

That's right. We hope she isn't punished, but if she is then she deserves it.

Miliband said in his statement: "The British government fully respects the faith of Islam and Britain has a longstanding tradition of religious tolerance."

What a fucking tool. Talk about appeasement, doesn't this sound familiar?

Chamberlain said in his statement: "The British government fully respects the politics of National Socialism and Britain has a longstanding tradition of antisemetic genocidal tolerance."

--UPDATE--

The sentence has been returned: she's guilty of insulting Islam, and has received 15 days in a Sudanese jail. I guess its better than a year in jail, and she wasn't given 50 lashes. But really, how pleasant can a Sudanese jail be? I wouldn't be surprised if she became acquainted with the whip anyways, and possibly a healthy dose of rape as well. The Reuters article I linked to above has simply changed, instead of writing a new article. Of course they got rid of those quotes I posted, so I don't know if they're still recorded anywhere. Reuters couldn't wait to remove any evidence of criticism against this fucking awful joke of a religion masquerading as a government.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Down With Antidisestablishmentarianism


The embedded videos seem to be having a problem. If it spazzes out just re-set the slider to where it was and it'll continue.

Sudan charges UK teacher with insulting Islam


This story is so sick... I don't know what to say about it, I'm truly speechless. I've seen it referenced all over the place, so you may have read about it already. A British teacher in Sudan named the classroom teddy bear Mohammad, and was arrested for blasphemy. She now faces possible jail time, fines, or corporal punishment.

It gets worse though, the quotes from Sudanese Muslims are even sicker:

"Any one can make a mistake and Muslims are forgivers. She will be forgiven and God will be the judge."

"She is a teacher and should be teaching her pupils to be respectful and have morals but instead she is doing the opposite," said Mohamed Toum, a law student.

A mistake? That implies that deliberately naming a fucking teddy bear after the god damn prophet is indeed a punishable crime, but she didn't MEAN to. Fuck that, that is not an acceptable way to view the world. And then he says she should be teaching respect and morality? What the FUCK people?!? Is it respectful to whip a kind woman who wanted to teach kids how to read because of what she named a FUCKING TOY? Is it moral to react this way? Pull your worthless fucking heads out of your collective asses, Muslim world.

The British government aren't any better. They're asking people not to get worked up over this, they're sure it will be resolved in good time, heaven forbid we strain relations with these monsters, or appear (gasp) Islamophobic. Fucking right I'm Islamophobic, I'm scared shitless of these sick motherfuckers.

I'm going to go throw up now.

--EDIT--

Holy hell, sorry I hate to return to this, but about ten minutes after I hit publish on this post I saw another article with more ridiculous quotes and I had to reopen this and update.

A Sudanese pupil of a British woman arrested on blasphemy allegations has said it was his idea to name a teddy bear Muhammad.
So now they've fucked up these kids for life. The poor little boy feels personally responsible for the imprisonment and possible beating of his teacher. That's the kind of life long guilt that can turn a healthy kid into a suicide bomber. And what do you think are the chances he'll be able to get decent therapy in Sudan?

The Sudanese Embassy in London said the situation was a "storm in a teacup".

It has indicated that she could be released soon, as the incident was based on a cultural misunderstanding.


More religious apologists in England. It's not a misunderstanding, it's a bastardization of human decency and morality in the name of dangerous religion and unwarranted 'tolerance' run amok. It is not a virtue to tolerate intolerance.

"What is happening now is standard procedure because one of the parents has complained and the police is bound to investigate just as is the case in any country in which there is rule of law."

AAAHHH! RULE OF LAW?!?!?! FUCK ME!! Remember, this is from the Sudanese embassy in London. This is not a man on the street interview in downtown Khartoum. As if I have to say it, the rule of law most certainly does NOT necessitate the arrest of anyone who offends (gasp) the fucked up religious sensibilities of another. In fact, Muslim countries are by definition devoid of the rule of law because the core of their beliefs is that religion is above the law.

"Ms Gibbons has been suspended from her teaching post, and the school has closed until January."

The children get no education now. Well done Sudan, surely you are a paragon of civility and modernity.

Ok, back to throwing up.

Pirate Wednesday - Project Gutenberg


Today I'm going to reveal the source of all of the Pirate Wednesday stories I've posted so far. I've mentioned in the past that I have an old book about pirates. This is partly true. What I have is actually an ebook. A plain text transcription of a book published in 1924, thus in the public domain.

The book is called "The Pirates' Who's Who: Giving Particulars Of The Lives and Deaths Of The Pirates And Buccaneers" by Phillip Gosse. I found it through Project Gutenberg, where it is available in full for free in many formats. I think Project Gutenberg is such a cool idea - they're compiling plain text transcriptions of as many public domain works as they can, and making them as accessible as possible. I use their content all the time. It was started in the 70's by a guy named Michael Hart, who is still the head of the project, and one of a very few actual staff. All of the real work is done completely by volunteers.

Below is the first few paragraphs from the preface of the book, which I think are funny because Gosse is defending the existence of the book itself. In this day and age, its rare that someone has to justify their writings as an acceptable use of scarce resources. If that was the case, Blogger probably wouldn't exist, and this site certainly would not. It's so cool to think how far we've come in just 80 years, to a point where basic publishing costs are virtually nonexistent. I'm excited by the idea that now, for the first time ever, the individual has not only nearly unlimited access to information, but also the ability to converse and interact with the rest of civilization at no real cost. What a time to be alive.

PREFACE

Let it be made clear at the very outset of this Preface that the pages which follow do not pretend to be a history of piracy, but are simply an attempt to gather together, from various sources, particulars of those redoubtable pirates and buccaneers whose names have been handed down to us in a desultory way.

I do not deal here with the children of fancy; I believe that every man, or woman too--since certain of the gentler sex cut no small figure at the game--mentioned in this volume actually existed.

A time has come when every form of learning, however preposterous it may seem, is made as unlaborious as possible for the would-be student. Knowledge, which is after all but a string of facts, is being arranged, sorted, distilled, and set down in compact form, ready for rapid assimilation. There is little fear that the student who may wish in the future to become master of any subject will have to delve into the original sources in his search after facts and dates.

Surely pirates, taking them in their broadest sense, are as much entitled to a biographical dictionary of their own as are clergymen, race-horses, or artists in ferro-concrete, who all, I am assured, have their own "Who's Who"? Have not the medical men their Directory, the lawyers their List, the peers their Peerage? There are books which record the names and the particulars of musicians, schoolmasters, stockbrokers, saints and bookmakers, and I dare say there is an average adjuster's almanac. A peer, a horse, dog, cat, and even a white mouse, if of blood sufficiently blue, has his pedigree recorded somewhere. Above all, there is that astounding and entertaining volume, "Who's Who," found in every club smoking-room, and which grows more bulky year by year, stuffed with information about the careers, the hobbies, and the marriages of all the most distinguished persons in every profession, including very full details about the lives and doings of all our journalists. But on the club table where these books of ready reference stand with "Whitaker," "ABC," and "Ruff's Guide to the Turf," there is just one gap that the compiler of this work has for a long while felt sorely needed filling. There has been until now no work that gives immediate and trustworthy information about the lives, and--so sadly important in their cases--the deaths of our pirates and buccaneers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Nutter at 10 Downing St.

Tony Blair avoided talking about his religious views while in office for fear of being labelled "a nutter", the former prime minister has revealed.

Below is the comment I left on the BBC article. For the record, I don't think the British public are the most rational voters around, but in this particular case I applaud them and for the sake of brevity I stayed my tongue. It is not ok to make apologies for faith. Faith is not a virtue, it is a delusion, a crutch, and a weapon. It has no place in the minds of world leaders, and it is the duty of all rational people to ridicule and embarrass any politician who uses his/her faith as a selling point. Here's the comment I left:

Mr. Blair was right to fear being thought a nutter for his faith, because it is certainly a nutty set of beliefs to hold. One would hope that politicians are held to a higher standard of rationality, and that if you honestly believe an invisible friend is giving you advice you will not be elected to office.

It is up to a clear headed rational public to keep sending the message that yes, you are a nutter if you have unquestioning faith in the ridiculous claims of any book. Mr. Blair's embarrassment is a sure sign of a healthy democracy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dissonance Again

Here is a quote from a CBC article about public opinion of Canadian schools:

While Canadians believe strongly in public education, a report Friday revealed only six per cent feel their schools would score an A.
This is the kind of idiotic dissonance I can't get my head around."I support the concept of a system that, in practice, I feel is inadequate." There was an article on the website of my hometown paper the Vancouver Sun the other day about a proposed ban on plastic bags. The comments show the same kind of juvenile reasoning, but the other way around. More like "I am strongly opposed to the concept of a product that, in practice, I use all the time." I put my two cents into the comment thread... see if you can guess which one I am! (Hint: I'm the one that stands out like a sore thumb. Bonus: You can learn my real name)

My (i.e. the crazy) solution is to get rid of public schools and privatize the system. If you don't think your school deserves an A, complain (you are a customer after all) or find a school that better meets your needs.

In the interest of full disclosure, the school article goes on to say that while A's are rare, satisfaction is actually reasonably high. That, of course, would not have made for a very interesting bloge post.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pirate Wednesday - Female Pirates


Lately I've been reading the Feministing blog. Great writing about womens' issues, rights, equality, etc. Important stuff. In the spirit of feminism, today's Pirate Wednesday takes a look at the two well known female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Enjoy.

BONNY, ANNE. Female pirate.

Anne was born in County Cork, and her father was an Attorney-at-Law, who practised his profession in that city, her mother being lady's maid to the attorney's lawful wife.

The story of the events which led to the existence of Anne may be read in Johnson's "History of the Pyrates," where it is recounted in a style quite suggestive of Fielding. In spite of its sad deficiency in moral tone, the narrative is highly diverting. But as this work is strictly confined to the history of the pirates and not to the amorous intrigues of their forbears, we will skip these pre-natal episodes and come to the time when the attorney, having lost a once flourishing legal practice, sailed from Ireland to Carolina to seek a fortune there, taking his little daughter Anne with him. In new surroundings fortune favoured the attorney, and he soon owned a rich plantation, and his daughter kept house for him.

Anne was now grown up and a fine young woman, but had a "fierce and courageous temper," which more than once led her into scrapes, as, on one occasion, when in a sad fit of temper, she slew her English servant-maid with a case-knife. But except for these occasional outbursts of passion she was a good and dutiful girl. Her father now began to think of finding a suitable young man to be a husband for Anne, which would not be hard to do, since Anne, besides her good looks, was his heir and would be well provided for by him. But Anne fell in love with a good-looking young sailor who arrived one day at Charleston, and, knowing her father would never consent to such a match, the lovers were secretly married, in the expectation that, the deed being done, the father would soon become reconciled to it. But on the contrary, the attorney, on being told the news, turned his daughter out of doors and would have nothing more to do with either of them. The bridegroom, finding his heiress worth not a groat, did what other sailors have done before and since, and slipped away to sea without so much as saying good-bye to his bride. But a more gallant lover soon hove in sight, the handsome, rich, dare-devil pirate, Captain John Rackam, known up and down the coast as "Calico Jack." Jack's methods of courting and taking a ship were similar--no time wasted, straight up alongside, every gun brought to play, and the prize seized. Anne was soon swept off her feet by her picturesque and impetuous lover, and consented to go to sea with him in his ship, but disguised herself in sailor's clothes before going on board. The lovers sailed together on a piratical honeymoon until certain news being conveyed to Captain Rackam by his bride, he sailed to Cuba and put Anne ashore at a small cove, where he had a house and also friends, who he knew would take good care of her. But before long Anne was back in the pirate ship, as active as any of her male shipmates with cutlass and marlinspike, always one of the leaders in boarding a prize.

However, the day of retribution was at hand. While cruising near Jamaica in October, 1720, the pirates were surprised by the sudden arrival of an armed sloop, which had been sent out by the Governor of that island for the express purpose of capturing Rackam and his crew. A fight followed, in which the pirates behaved in a most cowardly way, and were soon driven below decks, all but Anne Bonny and another woman pirate, Mary Read, who fought gallantly till taken prisoners, all the while flaunting their male companions on their cowardly conduct. The prisoners were carried to Jamaica and tried for piracy at St. Jago de la Vega, and convicted on November 28th, 1720. Anne pleaded to have her execution postponed for reasons of her condition of health, and this was allowed, and she never appears to have been hanged, though what her ultimate fate was is unknown. On the day that her lover Rackam was hanged he obtained, by special favour, permission to see Anne, but must have derived little comfort from the farewell interview, for all he got in the way of sympathy from his lady love were these words--that "she was sorry to see him there, but if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang'd like a Dog."

READ, MARY. Woman pirate.

Born in London of obscure parentage; all that is known for certain is that her mother was a "young and airy widow." Mary was brought up as a boy, and at the age of 13 was engaged as a footboy to wait on a French lady. Having a roving spirit, Mary ran away and entered herself on board a man-of-war. Deserting a few years later, she enlisted in a regiment of foot and fought in Flanders, showing on all occasions great bravery, but quitted the service to enlist in a regiment of horse. Her particular comrade in this regiment was a Fleming, with whom she fell in love and disclosed to him the secret of her sex. She now dressed as a woman, and the two troopers were married, "which made a great noise," and several of her officers attended the nuptials. She and her husband got their discharge and kept an eating house or ordinary, the Three Horseshoes, near the Castle of Breda. The husband died, and Mary once again donned male attire and enlisted in a regiment in Holland. Soon tiring of this, she deserted, and shipped herself aboard a vessel bound for the West Indies. This ship was taken by an English pirate, Captain Rackam, and Mary joined his crew as a seaman.

She was at New Providence Island, Bahama, when Woodes Rogers came there with the royal pardon to all pirates, and she shipped herself aboard a privateer sent out by Rogers to cruise against the Spaniards. The crew mutinied and again became pirates. She now sailed under Captain Rackam, who had with him another woman pirate, Anne Bonny. They took a large number of ships belonging to Jamaica, and out of one of these took prisoner "a young fellow of engaging behaviour" with whom Mary fell deeply in love. This young fellow had a quarrel with one of the pirates, and as the ship lay at anchor they were to go to fight it out on shore according to pirate law. Mary, to save her lover, picked a quarrel with the same pirate, and managed to have her duel at once, and fighting with sword and pistol killed him on the spot.

She now married the young man "of engaging behaviour," and not long after was taken prisoner with Captain Rackam and the rest of the crew to Jamaica. She was tried at St. Jago de la Vega in Jamaica, and on November 28th, 1720, was convicted, but died in prison soon after of a violent fever.

That Mary Read was a woman of great spirit is shown by her reply to Captain Rackam, who had asked her (thinking she was a young man) what pleasure she could find in a life continually in danger of death by fire, sword, or else by hanging; to which Mary replied "that as to hanging, she thought it no great Hardship, for were it not for that, every cowardly Fellow would turn Pirate and so unfit the Seas, that Men of Courage must starve."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More Lama Bullshit

This is just ridiculous. A touch of context, if I may:

Buddhists believe in reincarnation. They claim to believe that when you die, your soul, your essence, the ghost in your brain, floats out of your body and into the baby of some animal species that represents your actions in your previous life. They believe that when the Dalai Lama dies, his spirit goes into a baby boy in Tibet, who is then found by other Lamas (priests) and named the new Dalai Lama. Buddhists really believe this.

Ok. Now the current Dalai Lama is worried that when he dies, China will appoint a new Dalai Lama who is sympathetic to China. A valid concern, because they probably would do that. But here is his solution. He wants to pick the next Dalai Lama himself. Yeah, that's right, he wants to completely toss out the reincarnation thing and just pick some kid.

So this means either the Dalai Lama doesn't actually believe what he claims to believe (in which case he's insulting the intelligence of his followers every time he professes it), or he's saying it really doesn't matter that much anyways. Fine with me.

What an embarrassing time to be a Buddhist, that's like if the Pope admitted that the earth is actually billions of years old, evolution does exist, and the biblical story of creation is just a metaphor. What? He did? Oh, ok.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cloning Afterword

This is related to Thursday's cloning post.

Ian Wilmut, the head of the team that first cloned a sheep has decided to switch the focus of his stem cell research from human cloning to a method being developed in Japan that involves reprogramming skin cells. How easy would it be for Ian to say "well, yes, certainly the ethics of human cloning were a major factor in my decision" to please all the 'egg=person' morons? But he went out of his way to just shit on their face. The actual quote is:

"We've not made this decision because it's ethically better.

"To me it's always been ethically acceptable to think that if you could use cells from a human embryo to develop a treatment for a disease like motor neurone disease, for which there is no treatment at present, then that is an acceptable thing to do."

Ian is trying to save actual human lives. He'll use whatever method he thinks will work the best, including cloning, and he's not afraid to tell the hippies and Christians to shut the hell up. We need more scientists like him.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

BWAHAHAHAHAHA

The OC Register - Man takes laptop from praying preacher

HAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Nice try bro, points for effort.

Monkey Clones Today - Human Clones Tomorrow

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Monkey Clones Today - Human Clones Tomorrow

Yes, scientists have cloned monkeys. Big deal right? If you can clone a sheep you can clone a primate (people included) so there isn't a hell of a lot of scientific significance to that. Then they harvested embryonic stem cells from the cloned monkey fetus. Ok, thats more like it. Monkeys are, to a first approximation, people. Hell, to a first approximation snails are people. Monkeys are people to a twelfth approximation, there's absolutely no difference between monkeys and people, unless you happen to be a monkey or a person. So, if we can get stem cells from a cloned monkey, we can get them from a cloned person, which means all of our health problems are solved. All of them. Because once you get your hands on a bottle of your own embryonic stem cells, its a trivial matter for researchers to fix any damn thing that goes wrong.

But that's not what I want to talk about. That's the obvious stuff, you can find your own links to real news sources for the details. I linked to the Reason article because it has a quote I want to challenge. It talks about the political barriers and mentions the "social conservatives" (i.e. so-called 'love everyone' Christians) who want to stop science from saving lives, and who also oppose giving condoms to AIDS stricken countries. That's boring too, everyone knows all about those idiots, and Reason does a good job pointing out their mistakes. No, the quote that stuck out for me is quoted in Reason from this Post article:

Alan Trounson, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, praised the work and tried to allay fears that it would speed the creation of a cloned baby.
What? You idiot, of course monkey clones lead to human clones. Does he think we're idiots? Even the morons who oppose human cloning aren't that stupid. No one is going to try to clone humans before monkeys, the progression is sheep - dogs - monkeys - people. Now that monkeys are checked off, we're one step closer to cloning humans, and that is a good thing. Mr. Alan Trounson is making apologies for things that don't need them. Stand up for what you actually believe Alan! Of course you think human cloning is a good idea, so stop pandering to the social conservative nutbars and admit it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pirate Wednesday - Captain Pease


This week's pirate book excerpt is a little bit different. I've got a section from the introduction of my book instead of a full entry on one person. This is taken from a larger bit that talks about the romantic relationships of pirates. I like this anecdote, obviously, because it is funny and surprising, and it shows that not all pirates were swashbuckling bloodthirsty cutthroats, nor were all womanizers tall dark and handsome. Men are not always as they seem.

The only other pirate I know of who took a "wife" to sea with him was Captain Pease, who flourished in a half-hearted way--half-hearted in the piratical, but not the matrimonial sense--in the middle of the nineteenth century.

A certain settler in New Zealand in the "early days" describes a visit he paid to Captain Pease and his family on board that pirate's handy little schooner, lying at anchor in a quiet cove at that island.

On stepping aboard, the guest was warmly welcomed by a short, red-faced man, bald of head and rotund in figure, of about fifty-five years of age. His appearance suggested a successful grocer rather than a pirate. On the deck were seated two ladies, one nearing middle age, the other young and undoubtedly pretty. At the feet of these ladies sprawled several small children. Captain Pease proceeded to introduce his guest to these as Mrs. Pease No. 1 and Mrs. Pease No. 2. The ladies continued their sewing while a conversation took place on various subjects. Presently, taking out his watch, the pirate turned to the younger lady, observing that it was nearing teatime. Mrs. Pease No. 2, laying down her sewing, went to the cabin, from which the rattle of teacups and the hiss of a boiling kettle were soon heard. Tea being announced as ready, the party entered the cabin, Mrs. Pease senior taking the place at the head of the table and pouring out the tea while the younger Mrs. Pease very prettily handed round the cups and bread and butter, the guest particularly noticing with what respect and thoughtfulness she looked after the wants of the elder Mrs. Pease.

As a pirate Captain Pease was second or even third rate, confining his daring to seizing small unarmed native craft, or robbing the stores of lonely white traders on out-of-the-way atolls. But as a married man he showed himself to be a master; matrimony was his strong suit, domesticity his trump card. He gave one valuable hint to his guest, which was this: "Never take more than two wives with you on a voyage, _and choose 'em with care_."

One is apt to disassociate serious matrimony, and still less responsible paternity, with the calling of piracy, but with Captain Pease this was far from being the case. Every one of his wives--for he had others on shore--contributed her mite, or two, to the growing family, and the Captain really could not say which of his offspring he was most proud of. It seems at first strange that a man of Captain Pease's appearance, figure, and settled habits, almost humdrum, should have been such an undoubted success with the ladies; but that he was a success there can be no doubt. Perhaps his calling had a good deal to do with this attraction he had for them.

Kinda Puts Things In Perspective

(Hat tip Solar Power Rocks via Cosmic Variance)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Watch TED

Technology Entertainment Design.

This is my new favourite site. Hundreds of videos showing talks and presentations from the cutting edge of all fields of science, technology, art, and entertainment. Browse through and watch some, they will inspire you. Also, the theme music is cool.

Here's a short one (most are around 20 minutes) about new prosthetic arms. I'm drooling over this, I want one.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

No, Really. What the Fuck?

China Tells Iran to Heed International Pressure

Dearest Kettle. Stop.
It has recently come to my attention that you are, indeed, black. Stop.
Kindest regards,
Pot.
Stop.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Seriously China, What the Fuck?

No longer content to merely poison and choke children, Chinese toy makers are now attempting to date rape them. I was so ready to say something about the Chinese lunar orbiter and how it is a great step in the right direction for the troubled rising star in global economics, then this. Bullshit.

Pirate Wednesday - Captain Avery


Today's story is about a famous pirate who had an ironic, yet rather anticlimactic end. My favourite line in this piece is "Avery sailed in this vessel, preying without distinction upon persons of all nations and religions." As if he is being commended for his equal treatment of all people. The logo for Pirate Wednesday is derived from Avery's flag.

AVERY, CAPTAIN JOHN, _alias_ HENRY EVERY, _alias_ CAPTAIN BRIDGEMAN.


Nicknamed "Long Ben," or the "Arch-Pirate." In the year 1695, when at the height of his career, Avery caught the public's fancy as no other pirate ever did, with the possible exception of Captain Kidd. So much so that his achievements, or supposed achievements, formed the plot of several popular novels and plays.

Charles Johnson wrote a play called "The Successful Pyrate," which work ran into several editions, and was acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.

The scene in this play was laid in the Island of Madagascar, and the hero was modelled on Captain Avery.

This pirate was a Devonshire man, being born near Plymouth about the year 1665, and was bred to the sea. He sailed on several voyages as mate aboard a merchantman. He was later appointed first officer in an armed privateer _The Duke_, Commander Captain Gibson, which sailed from Bristol for Spain, being hired by the Spaniards for service in the West Indies against the French pirates.

Avery soon plotted a mutiny, which was carried out while _The Duke_ lay at anchor in Cadiz Harbour; the ship was seized, and the captain put ashore. Avery was elected captain, and he renamed the ship the _Charles the Second_. For more than a year Avery sailed in this vessel, preying without distinction upon persons of all nations and religions.

After leaving Spain he first sailed to the Isle of May, holding the Portuguese governor for ransom till provisions were sent on board. He took near here three English ships, then sailed to the coast of Guinea to procure slaves. To catch these Avery would anchor off a village and hoist English colours. The trusting negroes would then paddle off to the ship in canoes, bringing gold to traffic with. At a given signal these natives would be seized, clapped in irons, and thrown into the hold.

Avery next sailed to the Island of Princes, where he attacked two Danish ships, and took them both. The next place the pirates touched at was Madagascar, from there they sailed to the Red Sea to await the fleet expected from Mocha. To pass the time and to earn an honest penny the pirates called in at a town called Meat, there to sell to the natives some of their stolen merchandise. But the cautious inhabitants refused to do any business with these suspicious looking merchants, so in order to
punish them the pirates burnt down their town. They next visited Aden, where they met two other English pirate ships, and were soon joined by three others from America, all on the same enterprise.

Expecting the Mocha fleet to come along, they waited here, but the fleet slipped past the pirates in the night. Avery was after them the next morning, and catching them up, singled out the largest ship, fought her for two hours, and took her. She proved to be the _Gunsway_, belonging to the Great Mogul himself, and a very valuable prize, as out of her they took 100,000 pieces of eight and a like number of chequins, as well as several of the highest persons of the court who were passengers on a pilgrimage to Mecca. It was rumoured that a daughter of the Great Mogul was also on board. Accounts of this exploit eventually reached England, and created great excitement, so that it soon became the talk of the town that Captain Avery had taken the beautiful young princess to Madagascar, where he had married her and was living in royal state, the proud father of several small princes and princesses.

The Mogul was naturally infuriated at this outrage on his ship, and threatened in retaliation to lay waste all the East India Company's settlements.

Having got a vast booty, Avery and his friends sailed towards Madagascar, and on the way there Avery, as admiral of the little fleet, signalled to the captain of the other sloops to come aboard his vessel. When they arrived Avery put before them the following ingenious scheme. He proposed that the treasures in the two sloops should, for safety, be put into his keeping till they all three arrived in Madagascar. This, being agreed to, was done, but during the night, after Avery had explained matters to his own men, he altered his course and left the sloops, and never saw them again. He now sailed away with all the plunder to the West Indies, arriving safely at New Providence Island in the Bahamas, where he offered the Governor a bribe of twenty pieces of eight and two pieces of gold to get him a pardon. Avery arrived in 1696 at Boston, where he appears to have successfully bribed the Quaker Governor to let him and some of his crew land with their spoils unmolested. But the pirate did not feel quite safe, and also thought it would be wellnigh impossible to sell his diamonds in the colony without being closely questioned as to how he came by them. So, leaving America, he sailed to the North of Ireland, where he sold the sloop. Here the crew finally dispersed, and Avery stopped some time in Dublin, but was still unable to dispose of his stolen diamonds. Thinking England would be a better place for this transaction, he went there, and settled at Bideford in Devon. Here he lived very quietly under a false name, and through a friend communicated with certain merchants in Bristol. These came to see him, accepted his diamonds and some gold cups, giving him a few pounds for his immediate wants, and took the valuables to Bristol to sell, promising to send him the money procured for them. Time dragged on, but nothing came from the Bristol merchants, and at last it began to dawn on Avery that there were pirates on land as well as at sea. His frequent letters to the merchants brought at the most but a few occasional shillings, which were immediately swallowed up by the payment of his debts for the bare necessities of life at Bideford. At length, when matters were becoming desperate, Avery was taken ill and died "not being worth as much as would buy him a coffin." Thus ended Avery, "the Grand Pirate," whose name was known all over Europe, and who was supposed to be reigning as a king in Madagascar when all the while he was hiding and starving in a cottage at Bideford.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Coming up on the Jolly Bloger...

I don't like to go too long without writing something, but I can't type today because I injured myself in a spectacular show of stupidity. There is a bunch of stuff I want to talk about though, so this is just a little teaser. As soon as I regain the use of my left hand and get back to full typing capability, I want to discuss:

  • The announcement from Google about their new open source mobile coding project, Android
  • The DARPA robot challenge
  • The wrap-up of the wonderful Donors Choose campaign
  • Technology in general, and the feeling of awe and wonder it brings
  • The harrowing tale of my idiotic but pretty cool self-injury (to avoid getting too personal on my bloge I'll tie that into a half-cocked political post about health care)
  • And of course, tomorrow is Pirate Wednesday.
Hopefully I'll get those all out by the end of the week. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Handled Perfectly

Yesterday in Ontario some secondary students came to school dressed as KKK members. A black student was upset by the costumes and complained to the vice principal. The vice principal told her that

"It's Halloween and that people are going to be wearing costumes … and that all he could do was see if she wants to take it off or not."
They talked to the student wearing the costume, who expressed remorse and presumably took off the costume. That's exactly the right way to handle the situation. If the same thing happened elsewhere, nine times out of ten the school would have demanded the costume be removed, probably suspended the student, and maybe banned all costumes at school, or required approval from the principal. Cheers to Cornwall Collegiate Vocational School for upholding free speech in a public institution and acknowledging that you don't have the right not to be offended, while still being respectful and compassionate. Instead of reinforcing childish behaviour and punishing the innocent, they helped the students solve their problem like adults, and surely both students came away happier and more mature. Full marks.