Except for the immorality of it (including the economic and emotional damage it leaves behind), I might rather enjoy a life of crime. The challenges of the occupation might well provide the kind of adrenalin-induced “high” that few careers offer. Stealing expensive cars, breaking into art museums, invading the homes of the rich and famous, and lucrative white-collar crime in which the assets of massively-overpaid corporate CEOs are siphoned off into offshore accounts…I might be enticed into such activities except for my allergy to forced confinement and my compassion even for people who may deserve to have their wealth lightened by a significant percentage. I once dummied magazine covers for a few magazines for criminals: Home Invasion Today, Auto Theft Today, and (I think) Identity Theft Today. The idea included creation of a holding company, Criminality Today Holdings, that would serve as publisher and recipient for the subpoenas that certainly would follow.
The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.
~ Henry Miller ~
The waters off Somalia are not the only territories patrolled by modern-day pirates. Last November, a Danish patrol killed four pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Nigeria. The 3540-mile stretch of water between Angola and Senegal is a dangerous zone where piracy is common; 195 pirate attacks took place in those waters in 2020. In another part of the world, armed Bangladeshi gangs roaming the waters around the Bay of Bengal have a history of kidnapping Indian fishermen and holding them for ransom. Those pirates prowl the mangrove swamps on and near the coast, as well as the open waters, taking captives and using them as leverage to get money. The fishermen have little choice but to put themselves at risk for kidnapping. They can either fish the waters along the coast, go out to sea, or take their chances seeking food in the coastal swamps and forests. An Indian fisherman named Mandal said, “We have a hand-to-mouth existence here. If we don’t go to the sea, the hunger pangs will kill us before the tigers, crocodiles or pirates get us.” In May of this year, a French-owned racing yacht, the Lakota, was attacked by pirates in the Red Sea between Yemen and Eritrea; news reports suggest Iran-backed Houthi militia were responsible for the failed attack, which included rocket-propelled grenades (repelled by the yacht’s crew). Closer to home, pirates attacked a Bay of Campeche Pemex oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. In that case, the pirates stole equipment and supplies in a raid that lasted about three hours. Other cases of piracy in the Bay of Campeche have robbed fishermen and tour operators in the town of Isla Aguada of roughly 500 motors (and many boats) during the last several years. According to an article in the New York Times, the surge in piracy off the coast of Mexico (especially in the Bay of Campeche) began in 2017. The tactics used by the pirates in Mexico seem, from descriptions reported in various news media, to mimic those used by Somali pirates. That could be a simple coincidence, or it might be evidence of a widening global conspiracy involving international criminal gangs. Given that the pirates in the Bay of Campeche seems to target ships operating under the flags of many countries and that those ships often carry highly valuable cargo that the pirates steal, there may be something to that possibility.
It is hard to say with any degree of certainty whether piracy really is on the upswing or whether the apparent surge is the result of more frequent reporting. And whether poor “policing” or growing poverty and desperation or some combination thereof is to blame. Regardless of the causes, the apparently increasing dangers to mariners and fishers and others who spend time on open waters is a concern. And it should be a concern not only to people whose business is on the water, but people who are on the water for recreation and tourism. Interesting to me is that most of the information I found about recent episodes of piracy came from foreign English language media: Mexico News Daily, Aljazeera, Arab News. And, of course, the New York Times. Perhaps piracy on the open seas does not have a direct, immediate impact on most of us. But such criminal acts can be adapted and adjusted (Somalia to Mexico, perhaps?), so I think it behooves us to be aware of and to take action to prevent such attacks. I would hope our military and police agencies have sufficient information about international news to enable them to prepare when the time comes.
We have been watching The Sopranos. Though I truly enjoy the series, the fact that I have to pay to watch it is more than a little annoying. I’m already paying for Amazon Prime; yet in order to watch it on Amazon Prime, I have to pay twenty-something-dollars per season. I snarl and growl and snap and curse every time I notice that payment is required to watch the program. It’s not like I cannot watch plenty of truly interesting, entertaining stuff without paying more; there’s plenty on Netflix and Amazon and Roku TV and dozens of others that either are free or are included in what I already pay. But I chose to watch The Sopranos. I should have waited until it is made available free. But that might be twenty years. So, I am paying for time. Bastard marketing geniuses know when they have you by the balls and they know when they can squeeze.