Pirates and Pictures of Pirates

I don’t know if it was a coincidence, but Monday’s Big Picture about Somali pirates works relatively well to illustrate William Langewiesche’s Vanity Fair article about… Somali pirates.

Two lengthy excerpts from the interesting article:

If you added up the assets already available, or soon to be, the display of French power was impressive indeed. And it was arrayed against what? A band of barefoot natives, Fuzzy Wuzzies in rags, hip-firing their Kalashnikovs with poor aim, and worshipping some filthy G.P.S. as if it had fallen from the sky. They should have surrendered days before, even to the Canadians…They were not particularly bellicose or arrogant, but they refused to be impressed when they should have been. A warship coming at you is supposed to present an intimidating sight…It raised disturbing questions about the relevance of governments and the exercise of power. More specifically, a suspicion crept in that these pirates knew exactly what they were doing, and that they understood the forces at play with more sophistication than had been assumed. Fuzzy Wuzzies they were, but until Paris decided it could accept casualties among the Ponant’s crew, they had stymied the French national will.

Today, almost one year later, Somali pirates continue to ignore the increasingly urgent displays of national power. One of the ironies of the concern being shown is that the shippers being provided with naval protection are the very same people who for years have made a mockery of the nation-state idea. They know that whatever pirate tolls they pay will always pale in comparison with the taxes that would be imposed if global law and order ever actually prevailed. But there is little danger of that. In its place a convoy system has been instituted for crossing the Gulf of Aden. CMA CGM has ordered its cargo ships to use it when practical… Because of an increase in crew pay, insurance, and other piracy-related costs, the company has imposed a $23 surcharge on every standard-size container that it takes through—amounting to a quarter-million dollars for each trip by the largest ships. Given the margins built in, and despite the need for the occasional payout, this means that CMA CGM, its insurers, and its crews are profiting from Somali piracy.

The pirates are professional and don’t typically harm the crews they capture because they know that the ship owners will pay a ransom, covered by insurance companies (AIG in this case) as opposed to allowing the military to mount an attack. This is especially so because everyone is profiting from the current arrangement.

Pirates and Pictures of Pirates

Sheriff Bartlett the Starver!

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times had an article about an Alabama Sheriff who, underfed inmates in his charge and pocketed the difference.

And that is just what the sheriff, Greg Bartlett, did, to the tune of $212,000 over the last three years, despite a state food allowance of only $1.75 per prisoner per day.

Interestingly, an Alabama law allows lawmen to keep the money left over after feeding the prisoners so while underfeeding the inmates probably is illegal, keeping the money probably isn’t.

Doing some rithmaticking, I figure that Sheriff Bartlett was feeding the inmates on about $1.10 per day or about 63% the daily food allowance. You want to take bets on how long until this guy has a weight loss / money saving reality TV show?

Sheriff Bartlett the Starver!

Saratoga Springs Horse Vandalism Video

Unfortunately, Brightcove isn’t letting me embed this so you’ll just have to click this link to watch Brightcove decided to shut down the link to the most remarkable two and half minutes of the week (at least, if not the month). For those of you too lazy to click through Video embedded below. Saratoga Springs is full of horse statues. Here’s one that gets knocked over after 2 minutes of two drunks in suits trying to mount it (really) while a woman who appears to be in a denim skirt cheers them on. My favorite part is how they are all smoking flamboyantly. Who smokes anymore? Now you have to watch it. This is simply remarkable.

TR the Realtor [the horse], owned by Roohan Realty in Saratoga Springs, was vandalized for a fourth time early Monday morning. This video is surveillance footage in front of the real estate office. (Christen Gowan/Times Union)

Saratoga Springs Horse Vandalism Video

Crime!!! In Union Sq, Somerville

Wednesday night at 4:00 AM, J woke me up and said, “Someone’s ringing the doorbell.” I was so asleep, I didn’t know what a doorbell was. And when I finally understood what the doorbell was, I remember thinking “that’s strange, we don’t have a doorbell”.

The last couple times our doorbell has rung in the middle of the night, it’s been the cops letting us know we had parked somewhere we shouldn’t have and ‘here’s a $100 ticket.’ Anyway, this time the police were singing a different tune. They said our car had been broken into… I don’t know how to explain what that’s like, going from dead asleep, to wondering what a doorbell was, to thinking we didn’t have one, to hearing our car had been broken into.

I went downstairs to find a cruiser with its headlights pointed at our car and a cop who looked like he was in high school. Right as I got down there, the cop set the alarm off by unlocking the door from the inside and I had to run up to grab the keys I should have brought down originally. Fascinatingly enough, the alarm doesn’t go off when someone throws a double brick through your window, but unlocking the door from the inside is all hands on deck.

Apparently a neighbor (the neighbor, incidentally, whose handicapped spot we and several guests parked in over and over last year because it’s incredibly unwell marked) had heard someone trying to break into his car and woken up. He then saw them throw a brick though our side window and chased them down the street before calling the cops.

Whoever broke in stole the GPS out of the glove compartment. They must have been in a hurry, though, because they left the stand and when they ripped the chord out, half of it stayed in the cigarette lighter.

J called Commerce Insurance (two thumbs up!) in the morning and Giant Glass was there within 3 hours installing a new window. Commerce sent us a check yesterday for the GPS. All in all, not too bad, and obviously it could of been worse.

To the knuckleheads who stole the GPS: “Hey assholes, thanks for throwing a brick through my window. Have fun with the 3 year old GPS featuring outdated maps, no stand, and no charger. See how much you get for it. Idiots.”

Crime!!! In Union Sq, Somerville

Fracture (2007)

If you want to see a heavy Anthony Hopkins as a husband trying to committ the perfect crime and Ryan Gosling (channeling Matthew McConaughey’s performance from A Time to Kill) trying to convict him, this is the movie for you. If you want a movie that thinks it’s smarter than it is, this is the movie for you. If you want to shut off a movie when it’s done and be like, “Huh, that was really clever”, you should rent something else.

Fracture (2007)

Iraqi guards steal $282 million

I was just trying to read a post on ThinkProgress about a bank robbery in Iraq. Here is the first sentence of the excerpt from the International Herald Tribune: “The robbery, of $282 million from the Dar Es Salaam bank, a private financial institution, raised more questions than it answered, and officials were tight-lipped about the crime.” I keep reading that over and over again, unable to get past a question that keeps popping up for me. When has a robbery EVER answered ANY question, let alone answering more questions than were raised? I briefly skimmed the 79 comments on that post and no one else seemed to have a problem with the phrasing so maybe it’s just me.

Iraqi guards steal $282 million

Firewall

I’d like to start a rumor that Harrison Ford chose to do Firewall instead of Da Vinci code, and thinking of this possibility compelled me to watch. Paul Bettany employed multiple (two) accents in this movie, which I’m sure made it even more confusing if you were watching with subtitles. I don’t think this movie had one single plot twist in it, which doesn’t make for a very good kidnapped family crime thriller.
Firewall

Firewall