Roman Abramovich’s Photo-Proof Super-Duper Yacht

 Might be one of the last images you see of Roman Abramovich's super yacht

Does it strike anyone else as odd that someone would build the largest yacht in the history of the world but wants to make sure that no-one can take a picture of it.

…the boat’s most unusual feature is perhaps the anti-paparazzi “shield”.

Infrared lasers detect the electronic light sensors in nearby cameras, known as charge-coupled devices. When the system detects such a device, it fires a focused beam of light at the camera, disrupting its ability to record a digital image.

The beams can also be activated manually by security guards if they spot a photographer loitering.

Is it just me, or does this guy have too much money. Somebody please tell Mr. Abramovich that James Bond was really make believe.

Russian Billionaire Installs Anti-Photo Shield on Giant Yacht – Wired Gadget Lab (Sept. 21, 2009)

Roman Abramovich zaps snappers with laser shield – Times Online (Sept. 20,2009)

Moby Monday — Crowdsourcing Emoji-Dick

Next stop: Klingon
Emoticons are fine as far as they go, but they do not express the whole range of human experience—our hopes, our dreams, our heartbreaks; our recycling, our maple leaves, our bananas. For that, you need emoji, which are Japanese emoticons for people with a lot of stuff to express (and maybe a lot of time on their hands).

In fact, emoji are now used by Japanese texters as a form of written language. This gave Fred Benenson an idea. The product manager at Creative Commons decided to have a book translated entirely into emoji, using the micro-contracting site Mechanical Turk for labor and the micro-funding site Kickstarter for scratch. But for a translation subject, he went decidedly macro: with enough backing, Benenson plans to produce a translation of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, the English language’s premier text on recycling, maple leaves, and bananas.

Benenson estimates the cost of translating Melville’s 1851 novel at $3,500 and is currently seeking pledges of $5 to $200. If enough backers sign on by October 19, their donations will be accepted and work will proceed. In the end, supporters will receive benefits based on their investments. Five-dollar backers will get a PDF file of the final product, while $200 backers will receive a color, hardcover limited edition Emoji-Dick book, numbered and signed “by the author.” Wonder how Benenson is going to swing that one?

Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Venice’s Aqua Alta: Adversity and Opportunity

Keeping with the rising sea theme, NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli tells us that Billion-Dollar Floodgates Might Not Save Venice (Sept. 20, 2009) Listen here:

(4 minutes)

Of course, opportunity rises out of adversity, especially when it comes to extreme sports, like wakeboarding.

YouTube – “Aqua Alta Surfing”: St. Mark’s Square on a Wakeboard

Happy 2009 International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Pirates have been getting some pretty bad press over the past year. Rightly so!

But pirate culture is a deviant offshoot of maritime culture that celebrates open sea adventure and camaraderie. Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and that doesn’t mean learning to speak Somali but instead using lots of RRRR’s and silliness.

The Official International Talk Like a Pirate Day website.

I’ve rehashed some of my favorite piratical videos. Hope you scurvy dogs enjoy em!

Lesson # 1

YouTube – Talk Like a Pirate Day: The Five A’s

YouTube – The Pirate Song (colour) George Harrison

Here are a couple of videos that I recycled from last year because they arghh just that good.

As Republicans are to Democrats, Pirates arggh to Ninjas!

YouTube – Pirates Vs. Ninjas

YouTube – Talk like a Pirate


Not sure why, but this is one of my alltime favorites.

YouTube – You Are A Pirate (Lazy Town)

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Dramatic video of tug capsizing in the Skookumchuck Narrows

Here’s an amazing video of a tug capsizing in the Skookumchuck Narrows, a tidal rapid at the head of the Sechelt Inlet in British Columbia, and Kayaker Dave Fusilli of Team Demshitz paddling out to assist. You’ll have to put up with an annoying watermark but it’s still worth watching. Miraculously, no one was killed.

Thanks Dave!

Don Treworgy, Stargazer. R.I.P.

Don Treworgy

We’re pretty partial to stargazers here. First, this blog and our company name comes from a poem that celebrates the sea and the sky.

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

Second and more importantly, our business model is based on a belief that the most successful leaders always sight their star to steer by. While most do this metaphorically, Don Treworgy did it literally during his 48 years of dedicated service to Mystic Seaport’s Treworgy Planetarium.

Sadly Don passed away on September 13, 2009. Mystic Seaport has published a wonderful page celebrating Don’s life and work. Remembering Donald Treworgy October 3, 1938 – September 13, 2009.


Over the years, many students and sailors from around the world learned about the night sky from Don Treworgy. I had the great fortune of first meeting Don at the 2006 American Sail Training Association conference when he received an ASTA Special Recognition Award.

Caption this for the New Yorker

Drawing by  Drew Dernavich - Contest #208, September 21, 2009

Each week, The New Yorker magazine provides a cartoon in need of a caption. Readers submit captions and the New Yorker chooses three finalists, and readers vote for their favorite.

(Contest #208 deadline September 21, 2009)

Finalists for this week’s cartoon will appear online Monday, September 28th, and in the October 5th issue of The New Yorker. Any resident of the U.S. or Canada (except Quebec) age eighteen or older can enter.

Go for it!

Moby Monday — The Saga Continues

"Hast seen the white whale?"I’ve envisioned William Hurt as Ahab ever since I saw him in Kiss of the Spider Woman. And now that vision is realized: German production company TMG just announced that its upcoming Moby-Dick miniseries stars Hurt as Ahab and Ethan Hawke as Starbuck. Filming begins shortly in Nova Scotia—where one boatbuilder got the contract for six replica whaleboats—and Malta, where a tall ship has been cast to play the Pequod.

So far, that production sounds fairly faithful to the text; if you’re looking for “Moby Dick as Frankenstein” and whalers who can fly, you’ll have to wait for the planned Moby-Dick action film by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov.

Then again, if you’re really patient and you really want a break from that tired old storyline, check out this hilarious script for the trailer for Moby-Dick: Ahab’s Revenge, by a blogger called tpalumbi. The film—which, strangely, has not yet been optioned—is envisioned to star Shia LaBeouf as Ishmael, Kate Hudson as his love interest, The Rock as Queequeg, and Jason Statham (known for starring in Guy Ritchie films) as as an Ahab with four steam-powered legs. Well, you know, if you can’t get William Hurt …

Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Photo via MSN Movies.

Last Fatal East Coast Shark Attack Was In My Hometown, Mattapoisett

YouTube – Jaws (1975) TV Spot

Okay, this is not exactly news since it took place in 1936. But there’s been so much buzz recently about Great Whites that I couldn’t resist. Capt. Tom’s Guide to New England Sharks has a thorough account of it.

An attitude of "shark attacks can’t happen up here" would have been prevalent along the beaches of New England in 1936. Hardly anyone would have known about the 1830 attack on Mr. Blaney in Massachusetts Bay. For that matter most people wouldn’t have knowledge of the fatal July 1916 shark attacks in New Jersey either.

In 1936 Joseph Troy Jr. was 16 years old and living in the Dorchester section of Boston. He went to visit his uncle Fred, who had a summer home in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts on Buzzards Bay. On July 25th Troy and Walter Stiles, a friend of Troy’s uncle. were swimming off Hollywood Beach, Mattapoisett, near Aucoot Cove, about 150 yards offshore in 10- 15 feet of water.

Between 3 and 4 PM, Stiles saw a shark suddenly appear next to Troy.  The shark grabbed Troy by the left leg and pulled him underwater. Stiles was about 10 feet away and went to Troys assistance; diving down to try to help him.  Ultimately he was able to get hold of Troy when the unconscious boy surfaced in a pool of blood.

Stiles started towing Troy to shore while shouting for help. It appeared at first that people thought it was a hoax. Then they realized something was wrong, and thinking it was a possible drowning they telephoned for a local doctor. A shark attack is the last thing any bystander would expect to have happened.

Mr. Herbert Fisher responded to Stiles cries for help, and rowed over to assist him.  Fisher and Stiles got a good close-up look at the shark, which was still there just a few yards away in the bloody water.  Their descriptive testimony to Dr. Hugh Smith, who investigated the attack, would later determine the size- and the attacking specie. Fisher helped Stiles in getting Troy into the boat, and rowed them to shore. Dr. Irving Tilden arrived; put Joseph in a car, and rushed him to St. Lukes Hospital in New Bedford, about 12 miles away. The femoral artery had not been severed, but Troy’s left leg was mangled.  A surgeon had finished amputating Troy’s leg; when Joseph’s condition worsened. Joseph passed away about 8:30 PM that evening.

Since this attack happened on the south side of Cape Cod, the usual suspects would be a white, or possibly, but not likely, a tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier. 

Walter Stiles, who was swimming with Troy, and Herbert Fisher who rowed over to help them, both told Dr. Hugh Smith that the shark was about 10-12 feet long. That established the length of the shark.
Stiles said the white sides abruptly changed to the top color, and the shark had an almost symmetrical tail. (Both of those observations are characteristics of a white shark.) Dr. Irving Tilden who transported Troy to the hospital, testified that the victims "skin edges were serrated as if cut off by a toothed object."

Dr. Hugh M. Smith concluded the shark involved was: "a man-eater (Carcharodon carcharias)".

From Capt. Tom’s Guide to New England Sharks

Fast forward to 2009, Great Whites have recently been sighted and tagged off Chatham on Cape Cod.

YouTube – Great White Shark Sighting Confirmed

In case you’ve never seen the movie, here’s a good 60 second synopsis. Enjoy but don’t go in the water!

YouTube – ‘Jaws’ in 60 Seconds