bookmark_borderWhy we should care about the Desecration of the Yusuf Qaramanli tomb.

Editor’s Note: I wrote this shortly before the attack on the embassy in Libya.  I did not have time to do a spell check right away, and considered not publishing it when the attack happened. Unfortunately, when I heard about the attack, I was not surprised.  The controversial video on Youtube was not the cause of the attack, the West has long been known to write plays and other works that insult other religions.  It did not light a fuse, it only shifted the direction of an already burning fire.  As we can see, many of the tombs desecrated have stood the test of time, and their destruction marks a general attitude shift in that part of the world.

If you’ve even heard of Yosef Qaramanli in English, it might not have been nice things. Continue reading “Why we should care about the Desecration of the Yusuf Qaramanli tomb.”

bookmark_borderHow did they deal with bullies in the old days?

Do you have an irritating colleague that makes people cry? A boss who pushes you around, but when you complain she says she’s just “unwinding” or “having fun”?

Well, bullies are nothing new. In fact, Stephen Decatur Junior and his friend Joseph Bainbridge were bullied. Continue reading “How did they deal with bullies in the old days?”

bookmark_borderWhy is Tripoli so popular with historians?

In October, I had no idea what was going to happen in North Africa.  Yet, I felt drawn to write a history of the “Barbary pirates.” I didn’t yet realize what would happen this year, nor did I know that Hollywood was already working on a film on that subject.

The first time I remember hearing any details about “Tripoli” was on board an old American ship, which was turned into a museum.  I think it was the Constitution.  I was just a school kid who might have seen a few pirate movies and heard a few war stories from elderly relatives.

My godmother was the first female conductor of the US navy.  But there were so many other naval battles, why is “Tripoli” still remembered?

Continue reading “Why is Tripoli so popular with historians?”

bookmark_borderBurning the Philadelphia

Today, in 1804, Stephen Decatur led a small band in a ketch to destroy a warship.  Horatio Nelson is said to have called it “the most bold and daring act of the age.”

Well, I can’t verify Nelson having said that, but if he did then he was blockading Toulon at the time.

What we can verify is that the USS Philadelphia wasn’t really captured in the first place, it got stuck on a coral reef and its captain surrendered.  Its Captain, William Bainbridge, is repeatedly quoted as having been a large man, six foot tall and heavily built, who also surrendered to the French.

Commodore Preble (the US didn’t have admirals at the time, the word seemed too aristocratic) said that it would have been more honorable if the crew had vowed to die fighting.  He concluded that courage might have saved them.

Well, Stephen Decatur was the kind of man who would die fighting.

Supposedly, a film is underway about the Tripolitan War, to be directed by Ridley Scott.  Will it be about Decatur?  Or about Eaton?  Will it feature the burning of the Philadelphia?

There are so many great scenes in that war that play in my head like a film.  Personally, if I were making it though, I wouldn’t choose Scott.  I’d choose an American director, and one who likes to read screenplays.

I loved Gladiator and other films by Scott, but they were very stylised.  I think Decatur would benefit more from a literalist, like Speilburg (or Hitchcock if it had to be a Brit).

So, what did Decatur do at the Philadelphia?  Well, that’s another story.

Anyway, I think Bruce Willis should play Eaton, or maybe Vin Diesel.  They have that same kind of attitude, without being too large to be believable.

For Decatur?  We need casting.  Russel Crowe is far too old, and so are most of the stars out there.

And for the music?  “Stuck in the mud” would work for the capture.  “The Roof is on fire” for the destruction.  If you want an old-timer, Tina Turner’s music might work.