Monday, July 09, 2007

Library is nice and open now

It's been over week now since we have had to close due to fumes from the roof construction filling up the building. One of our staff members was walking around today with a meter on her body that was testing our air. The contraption she was wearing was making a humming noise all day and she wasn't all that pleased. I think she got tired of people coming up to her and asking what that noise was. All she could say is, "It's me."

Pirate book

I have seen all three of the Disney movies about pirates and over the weekend I finished a book called The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard. He focuses on the four to five year period after the War of Spanish Succession which ended in 1714. It turns out that the life of a pirate in that short period of time wasn't all that bad. It was certainly better than the life of a sailor on a merchant ship or a naval vessel. One of the big reasons men went a-pirating was due to the horrible conditions aboard ship for the common sailor. When you traveled from Europe to Africa, Africa to the Caribbean and then from the Caribbean to North American you could expect to spend some of that time fighting off scurvy when your fresh food ran out and you had to eat from the ship's often rotted stores. Now, if you jumped ship in the Caribbean and got yourself on a pirate vessel, not only did you eat fresh food much more frequently, (due to frequent stops at lush islands to distribute booty, repair ships and get drunk) you also got about 1000 times more money because the pirate society was the first truly democratic European society in the Americas. Booty was distributed much more fairly and pirates elected and monitored their captains.

I've been reading a lot of history books in the last year and this one was the best I have read in during that time, perhaps because his characters were so colorful. Woodard has done a wonderful job telling the personal stories and the overall history of the Caribbean pirates. Not only that, he also lays out quite nicely the reasons pirates existed. From what he says pirates had to exist in the Caribbean, England guaranteed it would happen when privateering started during the war and ill-treated sailors got wind of how lucrative it could be.

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