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Thursday, December 31, 2009


Everyone loves pirates. On Halloween children roam the streets with eye patches and cardboard swords, filling pillowcases with looted sugar. Tweens wear shirts coyly alluding to booty. Frat houses order truckloads of sand delivered onto their lawns for pirate keggers. Captain Jack Sparrow wiggles his jeweled pinkie and the moviegoers of the world exude heat. Peter Pan, Hagar the Horrible, and other brightly colored stories we grew up with resonate buoyantly through our culture. So why is there no such jolly interest in the Somali pirates, sailing on boats resembling inflatable life rafts, capturing moneyed innocents for ransom? Avast! Right now, in the Year of Our Lord 2009: pirates! Not mere cyber-criminals pirating software and music, these are real pirates with guns, with draped and raggedy clothing, swashbuckling for coin. And we can watch them on the nightly news! But maybe, this close to present reality, they pale. There is no Pirate Code; they are actually committing crimes. And even when photographed wearing golden clips of ammo, squinting defiantly into a defiant sun, they look as though they would, given the chance, rather work in a department store, grow yams, drive a taxi, evaporate from our TV screens. They look like our exhausted, financially strapped cousins, sailing seas nowhere connected to the beloved waterways of myth and magic.

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