Pirates are back! Avast ye mateys, shiver me timbers! Scalawags are once again plying the high seas, seizing booty and ships and holding French people for ransom. Wallace Beery and Errol Flynn would be proud. Pirates are operating in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Southeast Pacific, the Caribbean and most heavily in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Somalia, that nation without a government of any sort. They take oil tankers, yachts, cruise ships and pretty much anything sailing that's worth reselling or holding for ransom.

Modern pirates are a little light in the romance and heavy on technology. There doesn't seem to be any former dukes or viscounts or disgruntled naval captains with an axe to grind against one imperial government or another, but instead just a bunch of thieves and murderers in it for the money. Which is precisely what pirates have always been, and all that romance and honorable political outcast stuff was nonsense. But what these guys lack is panache, style, a sense of being larger than life. Hell, there's not one famous guy among them!

Back in the heyday of Piracy, the Golden Age of Buccaneering, if you will, news took the better part of a year to travel from continent to continent, and yet a lot of these guys were huge, world famous. Captain Blood, Long John Silver, Blackbeard, Redbeard, Blue(!)beard, to name but a handful. They fought with cutlasses and braces of pistols, guzzled rum, enjoyed the company of many a wench and buried their treasure on remote islands. They gathered in seaports of ill-repute and raised hell when they weren't plying the seas in search of a prize in the form of a British Man O' War, a Spanish Galleon laden with gold or a French dreadnought bristling with cannon, laughing their chilling pirate laugh all the while.

In this day and age of real-time news and instant celebrity there's not even one pirate that's a household name. Not one! Clearly these guys are not trying. They use high-tech radar and global positioning devices to locate their prey and computers to hack into shipping databases to learn what ship holds what cargo. Hell, they probably even have their own websites like some pirate eBay to resell their booty, like scalawags@somalicoastpirates.arrgghh. They storm unarmed ships with powerful speed boats and automatic weapons, take the crew hostage and sail it some port and either sell the cargo and the ship or simply ransom it, no yo-ho-ho-and-a-barrel-of-rum, no arrgghhs, no parrots on their shoulders, no peg-legs or hooks, no eye patches, and no swinging from the rigging with daggers in their teeth to board vessels. Less ambitious pirate gangs merely relieve cargo vessels of the cash they carry for payroll and port fees. Some pirates they are!

Every so often they run into a naval vessel disguised as a vulnerable merchant ship and the minute they get shot at they turn and run. So much for laughing in the teeth of danger. French commandos, the one effective arm of the French military, have already dismantled several piracy rings and brought the pirates they didn't kill to justice. Indonesia is cracking down on piracy with some success, as are other Pacific nations, easily capturing and killing these no-so-formidable buccaneers and seizing their Privateers, decidedly unromantic speed boats with no captain's quarters, no yardarms, and no planks to walk. And none of these vessels are flying the Jolly Roger! Didn't these guys ever go to movies? How can you be a pirate when you don't have a black skull and crossbones flag? Perhaps it's best that Wallace Beery and Errol Flynn didn't live to see this sad spectacle. To Davey Jones' locker with all of them!

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