The Supreme Court, Grouper and SOX

Does SOX apply to grouper?

Does SOX apply to grouper?

In 2007, Captain John L. Yates of the fishing vessel, Miss Katie, was caught with 72 undersized red grouper. After being ordered to bring the fish ashore by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officer, Captain Yates dumped the fish back into the Gulf of Mexico. He was convicted of violating the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, also know as SOX, which was intended to stop accounting fraud.  At the end of last month, the US Supreme Court was called to rule on whether SOX also applied to fish.  In a  narrow vote, they decided that it does not.

Following the Enron and Worldcom corporate accounting scandals, in 2002 the US Senate passed the “Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act” and “Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act” as it was known in the House of Representatives. The bill was more commonly called Sarbanes–Oxley, or SOX.  The purpose of the bill was to increase corporate accountability. One provision of the bill imposes a maximum 20 year prison sentence for the destruction of “any record, document or tangible object” in order to obstruct an investigation.

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Of What Do Whales Dream When Asleep in the Sea?

sleepingspermwhaleHow do whales sleep? And do they dream? Many years ago on a kayaking trip on Blackfish Sound off Vancouver Island, our group of paddlers came across a pod of “sleeping” orcas. The pod was swimming very slowly, each orca swimming close to the next, diving and surfacing in the same sequence. Near the center of the pod was a baby orca, supported on either side by two females.  This type of resting behavior is also common with dolphins. Apparently, the dolphin or orca will shut down half of its brain, and keep eye open, to stay at least partially aware of predators, or other threats. After about two hours, the whale will switch sides, shutting down the other half of its brain and opening the other eye.

In the last few years, scientists have observed whales in a deeper form of sleep, where it appears that both sides of their brains have been shut down, similar to humans while sleeping. Sperm and humpback whales have been observed sleeping, hanging vertically in the sea, for ten to twenty minutes. Scientists have also observed Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which in humans is characteristic of dreaming.  Do whales dream? And if so of what?

Sperm Whales Sleeping – Discovery Ch. Magic of the Blue

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Musashi, Last Japanese WW II Battleship Found

Musashi under  attack 1944

Musashi under attack 1944

After eight years of searching, a team lead by Microsoft founder and billionaire, Paul Allen, has discovered the wreck of the Japanese battleship Musashi, over 70 years after she was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The wreck was located in the Sibuyan Sea off the Phillipines at a depth of around 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) using a remotely operated vehicle deployed from the yacht Octopus.

The battleship Musashi and her sistership Yamato were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed. They were the last great battleships, arguably obsolete when they entered service in 1941 and 1942. Musashi was sunk by an estimated 19 torpedo and 17 bomb hits from American carrier aircraft on 24 October 1944, during the Battle of Leyete Gulf, which was the largest the naval battle of World War II, and by some standards the largest sea battle in history. Eighteen American aircraft were lost in the attack on the battleship. An estimated 1,000 Japanese sailors died when the ship capsized. Despite her 18″ guns and antiaircraft batteries, the battleship was helpless against the waves of attacking aircraft.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s team finds sunken WWII battleship

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Recent Reviews, Old Salt Press Authors, Part 2 — McBook Press’ Quarterdeck, Spring 2015

quarterdeckAs we mentioned in Part 1 of this post, two excellent nautical newsletters came out within the past few days — Astrodene’s Historic Naval Fiction Log Book and McBook Press’ Quarterdeck. Both feature news and reviews of nautical fiction and non-fiction and each also feature reviews of new books by several Old Salt Press writers. A few excerpts from McBook Press’ Quarterdeck:

From George Jepson’s review of Eleanor’s Odyssey by Joan Druett:

Each leg of her journey opens new vistas of history in crisp, vivid prose that put me in mind of Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin novels. Joan Druett is an authoritative voice in maritime history told by those who lived it. This book is recommended for anyone who seeks adventure at sea.

From Ted Grauer’s review of Britannia’s Shark by Antoine Vanner:

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Recent Reviews, Old Salt Press Authors, Part 1 — Astrodene’s Historic Naval Fiction Log Book March 2015

hnflog Two excellent nautical newsletters came out within the past few days — Astrodene’s Historic Naval Fiction Log Book and McBook Press’ Quarterdeck. Both feature news and reviews of nautical fiction and non-fiction and each also feature reviews of new books by Old Salt Press writers. Starting with Historic Naval Fiction Log Book, here are a few excerpts:

From David Hayes’ review of The Elephant Voyage by Joan Druett:

This book was interesting, not just for the story outlined above, but for it’s insights into both life in New Zealand at this time and also the establishment by them of huts and stores on the various remote islands for the use of castaways and what can be regarded as an early move towards modern search and rescue.

From David Hayes’ review of The Guinea Boat  by Alaric Bond:

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HMS Victory : Amazing 3D Map of Nelson’s Battleship

Laser scanning has been used to create a 3D map of HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship in his victory at Trafalgar. Using 850 separate scans, scientists have collected 90 billion measurements on the 230 foot long ship at her drydock in Portsmouth. The 3D model documents the ship’s condition and is being used in the ongoing restoration.

3D laser scan of HMS Victory Portsmouth

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When Did the Wine Dark Sea Turn Blue?

seablue1Over the last week, the internet has been overwhelmed by an argument over the color of a dress. Some people see the image as gold and white, while others see it as blue and black.  Despite looking at a single image, it is obvious that we all are capable of perceiving colors differently.  Blue in particular.

This is nothing new. Homer referred to the famously blue Aegean as the “wine dark sea.” When did the wine dark sea turn blue?

In the Iliad and the Odyssey, Homer never uses the word “blue” once. William Gladstone, the British prime minister, was also a classical scholar, who wrote 1700-page study of Homer’s epic poetry. In one chapter, he describes Homer’s strange choice of colors. Sheep wool and ox skin are purple. Honey is green, while horses and lions are red. The sky is filled with copper or iron colored stars, but neither the sky, nor the sea, nor anything else in his poetry is ever “blue.”  Gladstone was so baffled by this confused yet incomplete rainbow that he theorized that the ancient Greeks must have been not capable of distinguishing color. Science does not support his theory, which, in its day, was met largely with derision.

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New York — A Tough Town for Historic Ships



A recent article in the TribecaTribOnline was titled, “Two Historic Sailing Ships Could Dock at Seaport This Summer.” The story is that Jonathan Boulware, the South Street Seaport Museum’s interim president, is working very hard to arrange dock space for the replica frigate l’Hermione and the US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle at the Seaport this summer.  l’Hermione is a reconstruction of the 1779 French ship that ferried General Marquis de Lafayette to the U.S. during the Revolutionary War and the USCGC Eagle is a sail training ship based at the Coast Guard Academy in New London.  It sounds like an excellent idea, notwithstanding a few logistical issues. In fact, it may be more daunting than it appears at first.

Richard Shrubb recently posed the question in, “Are Historic Ships Welcome in New York Harbor?”  The answer to the question may not exactly be “no,” but it is still a considerable distance from “yes.”  Shrubb quotes Mary Habstritt, the founder of the Historic Ships Coalition, who notes that “for short term stays, it is very hard to track down who you need to get a berth in New York Harbor. There are a huge number of pier operators, and no central directory for visiting ships to contact.

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Eugenie Clark, “The Shark Lady,” Dies at 92

sharkladyclarkDr. Eugenie Clark; ichthyologist, marine biologist and oceanographer; who earned the nickname, “the Shark Lady,” has died at her home in Sarasota Florida, at the age of 92.  Her research on the behavior of sharks helped the public understand and appreciate the often maligned species. She was also a pioneer in the field of scuba-diving for research purposes.

As reported by the New York Times:  Long before “Jaws” scared the wits out of swimmers, Dr. Clark rode a 40-foot whale shark off Baja California, ran into killer great white sharks while scuba diving in Hawaii, studied “sleeping” sharks in undersea caves off the Yucatán, witnessed a shark’s birth and found a rare six-gill shark in a submersible dive off Bermuda.

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Ice Caves and Slurpee Waves

Photo:Jonathan Nimerfroh

Photo:Jonathan Nimerfroh

There may only be 21 days left until Spring, yet Winter has not yet relinquished her grip.  On the island of Nantucket, photographer Jonathan Nimerfroh captured photos of slow moving waves of slush breaking on the beach. “I just noticed a really bizarre horizon,” said Mr. Nimerfroh, who is also a surfer. “The snow was up to my knees, getting to the water. I saw these crazy half-frozen waves. Usually on a summer day you can hear the waves crashing, but it was absolutely silent. It was like I had earplugs in my ears.” The motion of the waves has not allowed frozen ice crystals to form into a solid sheet of ice, so the ocean waters off Nantucket have become the consistency of a 7-Eleven Slurpee.

Meanwhile, on the Great Lakes, ice caves have been forming. Ice caves usually form around once a decade, yet this is the second year in a row that they have made an appearance on the shores of Lake Michigan.

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“Basically, I can kill people” — Joan Druett’s Interview of Alaric Bond

Alaric Bond

An interview with Alaric Bond by the award winning author, Joan Druett. Reposted with permission from her World of the Written Word blog.

Congratulations on the launch of your eighth Age of Nelson novel, The Guinea Boat, an edge-of-the-seat thriller in which the hero is challenged not just by pirates, but by smugglers, too.

JD: Like your very well-reviewed Turn a Blind Eye, which was also about the free-traders who sabotaged the English economy during the Napoleonic Wars, it is a departure from your usual style. You were already the author of the very successful Fighting Sail series, so what inspired you to make this change of course?

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Sea Fog Shuts Down Port of Tampa — Cruise Ship Delayed, Voyage Cancelled

tampafogThe Port of Tampa was recently closed by the US Coast Guard due to heavy sea fog.  A dozen ships, including the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Brilliance of the Seas, were delayed offshore for almost two days. Another ten ships were unable to leave the port. The delay also caused the cancellation of the next scheduled sailing of the Royal Caribbean ship. The Coast Guard shut down the port on Monday afternoon. By 3 p.m. Tuesday, three Coast Guard vessels escorted Brilliance of the Seas into its berth.

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Keep Off the Ice & Remembering Robert Fulton, Who Died 200 Years Ago Today

Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton

The Working Harbor Committee blog posted today, Keep Off the Ice! The post begins begins: The Hudson PD issued a warning for people to stay off the frozen river in Hudson, N.Y. after security cameras at the Hudson Boat Launch captured footage of 4 individuals trotting onto the frozen surface of the Hudson River, to “help a stuck barge”. The post is timely because 200 years ago today the American engineer and inventor Robert Fulton died at the age of 49. The cause of death was tuberculous, but the event that triggered his death was directly related to falling though the ice in the Hudson River.

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High Powered Boat Crashes into Beach Restaurant Near Tampa Florida

seeveeruskinA quick quiz — you are the captain of a 39′ fast sports fishing boat with six passengers and a heavy sea fog has just set in. You either lack or are paying no attention to electronic navigational aides.  What do you do?  When Captain Matt Santiago was faced with this question yesterday, his answer was apparently to go faster.  His See Vee sports fishing boat had four 300 HP outboard motors, or 1,200 HP in total, and according to the manufacturer is capable of “speeds in the 50 – 70 mph range.”

Reportedly, Captain Santiago and his See Vee sports fishing boat were traveling at approximately 40 to 50 mph when they hit the beach at Little Harbor in Ruskin, Florida near Tampa. The boat flew across close to 100 feet of beach and crashed into the Sunset Grill Restaurant, where dozens were eating. The restaurant roof collapsed onto the boat.  Miraculously, no one was killed or seriously injured.  Captain Santiago said that he couldn’t see the restaurant in the fog. Not surprising as he could, no doubt, not see anything in the fog. Which still didn’t stop him from operating the boat at high speed in zero visibility.

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The Shantyman — Now Available in Print

shantymanthumbebookMy new novel, The Shantyman, is now available as a paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   It is also available as an ebook on Amazon.   About The Shantyman:

He can save the ship and the crew, but can he save himself?
In 1870, on the clipper ship Alhambra in Sydney, the new crew comes aboard more or less sober, except for the last man, who is hoisted aboard in a cargo sling, paralytic drunk. The drunken sailor, Jack Barlow, will prove to be an able shantyman. On a ship with a dying captain and a murderous mate, Barlow will literally keep the crew pulling together. As he struggles with a tragic past, a troubled present and an uncertain future, Barlow will guide the Alhambra through Southern Ocean ice and the horror of an Atlantic hurricane. His one goal is bringing the ship and crew safely back to New York, where he hopes to start anew. Based on a true story, The Shantyman is a gripping tale of survival against all odds at sea and ashore, and the challenge of facing a past that can never be wholly left behind.

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Fireboat Whoop-Dee-Do March 16 for the Fireboat John J. Harvey

fireboatwhopdeedoWhat’s a Fireboat Whoop-Dee-Do? I am not entirely sure but it sounds like fun. It is a fundraiser for the historic fireboat John J Harvey  on Monday, Mar. 16th, 6:00-9:00 at Tribeca 360, 10 Desbrosses Street, just south of Canal Street in Mahnhattan. It is described as “not your Granny’s gala! — An evening of foot-stomping music, spectacular views, cocktail hour, fabulous buffet dinner, and that special fireboat quirkiness… Bluegrass Music with an urban twist by the NYCitySlickers!” Click here to learn more and buy tickets.

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US and Canadian Coast Guard Team Up to Rescue Laker SS Arthur M. Anderson

andersoniceThe US and Canadian Coast Guards have been working jointly to free the iconic Great Lakes bulk carrier, SS Arthur M. Anderson, stuck in the ice in Lake Erie near Conneaut Harbor.  The laker had been bound for Sturgeon Bay, WI when it became stuck in ice which can be six to ten feet thick in ice ridges formed by the wind.  The ship has been stuck for the last five days. The crew of 10 aboard is said to have ample fuel and food.  The US Coast Guard 140′ icebreaking tug Bristol Bay has been unable to reach the ship and is awaiting assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon, a 234-foot multi-mission medium icebreaker.

SS Arthur M. Anderson is a 767 ft long, Great Lakes self-unloader built in 1952. She is known as the last ship to make contact with the ill-fated SS Edmund Fitzgerald  before she sank in a November storm in 1975 with the loss of all 29 crew aboard. Thanks to Phil Leon for contributing to this post.

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Hoard of Gold Coins Discovered in Caesarea Harbor

Photo: Jack Guez, AFP/GETTY

Photo: Jack Guez, AFP/GETTY

Six sport divers from a local club were scuba diving in the ancient Roman harbor of Caesarea in Israel, when one of them spotted a small tiny coin, which the diver thought looked like a toy coin from a game of some sort. On further examination, the coin turned out to be gold. Then the divers found another and then another. Later using a metal detector, they found a cache of 2,000 gold coins of various dimensions and weights. The gold coins, most dating from the Fatimid caliphate that ruled much of the Mediterranean from A.D. 909 to 1171, are the largest treasure of gold coins ever discovered in Israel.

As reported by National Geographic: At its height in the mid-tenth to mid-eleventh centuries A.D., Fatimid rule stretched across North Africa and Sicily to the Levant, with trade ties that extended all the way to China. From its capital in Cairo, the caliphate controlled access to gold from sources in West Africa to the Mediterranean, and the currency crafted from the precious metal conveyed the Fatimids’ formidable power and wealth.

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Blackbeard’s Medicine Chest & the Media


Urethral syringe used to treat syphilis

Sometimes the way the media reports a story about nautical history can be almost as interesting as the story itself. Near the end of last month, archaeologists examining artifacts discovered on the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard’s flag ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, announced that they had found medical equipment including a urethral syringe, probably used for the treatment of syphilis, several enema pumps, a porringer used in bloodletting, as well as variety of devices used in preparing and storing medicine. While this discovery is very interesting. It is not surprising. When the pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, captured the French slave ship, La Concorde, in 1717, he renamed the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge, and used her as his flagship. Blackbeard let most of the French crew go, but forced the ship’s three surgeons to stay. It is probably their equipment which was recently discovered.

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Apple, Microsoft and the Dutch East India Company

vocA recent article in Atlantic Monthly pointed out that Apple, the technology company, not the fruit, is now, in economic terms, the size of a small country. The world’s largest company with a market capitalization of $700 billion, it is now issuing bonds in Switzerland. As noted in the article:  “Apple has the financial influence of a not-even-that-small country at this point. The company’s $178 billion—$178 billion!—puts it on par with the gross domestic product of a country like New Zealand, surpassing the GDPs of Vietnam, Morocco, and Ecuador, according to the most recent World Bank data. If Apple were a country, it’d be the 55th richest country in the world.

Microsoft, at its peak in 1999, was slightly larger than Apple is today, in current dollars, but now has roughly half the market capitalization.  Yet, neither of these modern giants can compare with the Dutch East India Company, the VOC, founded in 1602.

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