Whale Wars Season 2 Episode 4: Yum Yum, Eat Crow

Though there is good commentary in all my Whale Wars posts,  you can find my newest post on the subject here.

This episode picked up with the Sea Shepherds closing on the Japanese fleet while it was looking for a man overboard.  It was nice to see some empathy from the crew toward the Japanese sailor who was washed overboard.  It was also good to see that they have some sort of moral compass that would not initially allow them to attack the Japanese fleet while they were looking for their lost sailor.

After a lot of soul searching, it seemed that most of the crew had come to some rationalization that would still allow them to attack the Japanese.  To Paul Watson’s credit, he instead offered to assist the Japanese in finding their crew member.  To the credit of the Japanese, they declined the help “because the Sea Shepherds are environmental terrorists.”  Good for them.

The ass of a first mate Peter Brown actually said, “…I think they are the eco-terrorists.  One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”  He should tell that to the people around the world whose family members have been killed by Al Qaeda.

Then, just as the Sea Shepherds are finally about to attack the Japanese, they realize they are running low on fuel.  Captain Paul Watson informed us that just by showing up that they had intimidated the Japanese.  Really?  I don’t think that the Japanese are that affected.  They will just go right on whaling while the Sea Shepherds go back to port, and the Japanese will be miles away from their current positions when the Sea Shepherds finally return.

They realized that one of the harpoon ships was shadowing them…, “and its gun is uncovered!”  So they decide to attack the ship.  The best news to come out of this episode is that it appears that the Japanese have decided to defend themselves.  They had nets to deflect the bottles of acid and slippery chemicals.  They had floats tied to the sides of the ship to prevent boarding, and the whole crew was deployed on deck to help defend the ship.  Very good.

By the time that the Sea Shepherds actually got their boats in the water, the Japanese ship was out of range of the attack.  They finally gave up the chase and turned back in the rough seas.

That’s when one of the ladies on the crew of the small boat bashed her head as they hit a rough wave.  She received a mild concussion, but the producers played it up quite a bit.

Much of the rest of the episode was spent with the crew worrying about the fuel supply and Peter Brown making a complete ass of himself.  It is clear that this guy is no team player, and should have never been made first mate.  He proved that you can be right, and still be an ass.

One of the crew members topped Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs when he said, “If we run out of fuel…we’ll look like we have no idea what we are doing.”  I’ve thought that they had no idea what they were doing from the first episode last season.

Then, of course, one of the crew bashed her head again (a pretty ugly cut).  She was repaired by the doctor, and the fuel/Peter Brown saga continued.  His sarcasm directed toward the crew is useless.  In the end, he ‘decided’ not to return for the second part of the trip.  Oddly, no one seems torn up about it.  I suspect that Paul Watson asked him not to, but that was never admitted.  I felt that there were things that went on behind the scenes last season, and this would be another example of this.  In the end, I was left with the feeling that much of the fuel issue was just made up drama.

I can’t wait for the L-RAD on the next episode.  The foreshadowing of the ‘white powder’ incident on the next episode reminded me of the time when Paul Watson was ‘shot’ last season, but I’ll deal with that next week.

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Whale Wars Season 2 Episode 3: As Bad As Our Bark

Though there is good commentary in all my Whale Wars posts,  you can find my newest post on the subject here.

This episode began with the ship’s hull still being pounded by ice.  As I watched these guys in a truly dire situation, I was brought back to something a friend and I have talked about a few times.  These people, like the Seas Shepherds, Christopher McCandless and Timothy Treadwell often labor under the misconception that “Nature” or individual creatures actually care about them or their efforts.  The truth of course is that nature is simply ambivalent and dangerous.  Those who disrespect this fact either die or get lucky.

After surviving their brush with the icepack, the First Mate gave us a little more gold with this statement, “You know I’m not really a book learned sailor, and so I haven’t gone to school to study ice charts.  So, there’s probably some sort of science to it, but I don’t know what it is.”  These sorts of statements just baffle me.  And, someday there will actually be people who are surprised when these guys do not come back.  Amazing.

This guy, the First Mate, make a big point of explaining to the camera why he did not trust computers or satellite maps or pictures.  He liked to rely on his own eyes.  Of course, the ship missed the passageway out of the ice because of his stupidity.

The one consolation was that it cost the Sea Shepherds days to get around the ice.  Therefore, the Japanese had days of not having to put up with their nonsense. 

Molly Kendall then delivered more misguided wisdom.  She said, “Whales are such a huge example of an amazing creature.  To start that process to save the world, we need to look beyond ourselves, and yeah, if we can’t do that with whales, we can’t do that with oceans.  And, if we can’t do that with the oceans, we can’t do that with ourselves.”  It is reasoning like this that drives philosophy professors to suicide.

They proved that they can learn from their near death experiences, however.  This time, when they found one of the Japanese ships in the fog, they decided to use the little boat that had the radar system to attack with.  Unfortunately for the Sea Shepherds, the junkyard of a ship that they travel around in, once again, proved itself when they discovered that the radar on the small boat was not working.

They caught up with the Japanese scout ship, and began throw stinky acid-filled bottles on the ship.  Once again, Paul Watson was not able to control his ship and the stern of his boat hit the stern of the Japanese boat (so dangerous).  Luckily, most of the damage was to the Steve Irwin.

Paul Watson, after just hitting the Japanese ship actually, said, “If they believe that we are terrorists, if they believe that we are these evil pirates, if they believe that we are capable of sinking them at sea, that works on our favor.”  Sounds like a good case for self defense if the Japanese ever decide to actually defend themselves.

He put them right back on another collision course.  He acted like he was going to T-bone their ship, and there were big laughs when he was able to miss them (just).  I am now for the Japanese using whatever means they choose in order to defend themselves.

One of the young ladies had a good idea, and developed a small-boat checklist so that they would not have many of the problems that they have faced so far.  The same First Mate that did not like to use the ship’s instruments was against this idea also.  His reasoning, “if you don’t know how to do it, you should not be doing it.”  While that may be true, none of these people know what they are doing, so they should just stop altogether.  She was just trying to streamline a process, and make things safer for the admittedly inexperienced crew, and he was just being an ass.

Just as they got to the whaling grounds, the started to run out of fuel and water.  I begin to wonder what the point of all of this is.

They found out that one of the Japanese Sailors had fallen overboard.  Their reaction was to offer to help so that they could find out where the fleet was in order to confront them.  Ghouls.  Paul Watson then justified his actions by saying that the Japanese attempt to find the sailor’s body was just a show, since there was no way that they could really find the man’s body (the Japanese had there searchlight on and were obviously looking for the man).  Even some of the crew were uncomfortable with assaulting the Japanese during their search.  Paul Watson’s quote was, “I really don’t care what people think, my clients are the whales.”  Bastard.

I want give Animal Planet a little credit for the way they are presenting this series.  I do believe they are sympathetic to the Sea Shepherds, but they also show all of their many flaws.  It may just be good television, but they don’t have to show any of the flaws at all.  This show could easily be a Sea Shepherds love fest, and it is not that.  Of course, if it was, I could not watch it.

Whale Wars Season 2 Episode 2: The Flexibility of Steel

Though there is good commentary in all my Whale Wars posts,  you can find my newest post on the subject here.

Last week, a guy with a computer and high speed internet accused me of being a “consumer vampire” on my Whale Wars post.  That was the same week the ‘green’ guy at work showed up with a new Jeep “because it was cheaper than a Prius.”  Oh, the hypocrisy.

This week started with the ship negotiating through three or four pieces of ice.  How anticlimactic. 

They quickly found a harpoon ship.  They then plotted an intercept course which put them on a collision course with the Japanese ship.  I found it very interesting that the narrator of the show credited Captain Paul Watson’s years of experience with being the reason a collision was avoided.  Years of experience?  There was a whole ocean out there that he could have used to avoid putting his ship on a collision course with the Japanese ship.  It was Watson who plotted the ‘collision course’ in the first place.  It was his responsibility therefore to make sure it did not happen.

Then they launched a chase boat that, of course, it immediately went straight off in the wrong direction in rough seas and fog.  And, of course they once again were out of communication.  I swear it is just a matter of time until some of these people die.  They are like a bunch of irresponsible children.

The finally found the chase boat again, and it was probably another overblown event for television, but I really feel it was probably more dangerous than that.  They did give a lame excuse for not answering calls from the ship when they got back.

Then they went to sleep and woke up surrounded by ice.  Attempting to get out of it, they showed the real stress on the boat as ice was ramming into the hull.  I was amazed at the idiot who informed the two people who were assigned to stay below decks that if there was a leak they were to stay there until it was stopped.  F that.  I would have quickly informed him of his option to stay there if ‘the hull were breached.’  Amazing.

My favorite quote of the night was from the guy who said, “This would not be a good place to sink.”  Really?  The Antarctic is not a good place to sink?

I find myself reacting to these people like I do when I see someone driving very recklessly down a crowded highway.  I just hope they do not cause harm to someone else when they finally plow into something.

Whale Wars Season 2, Episode 1: The Sound of Ice

Though there is good commentary in all my Whale Wars posts,  you can find my newest post on the subject here.

I came to Whale Wars late last season, and decided not to blog about it as a result of that.  However, with the new season beginning tonight, I have decided that I will write about it this season.  I will start out by saying that as I watched last season, I decided to root for two things, the whales, and the whalers.  I think the bad guys on this show are the evil Sea Shepherds.

I learned a lot about Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherds last year.  Among other things, these people are a bunch of dangerous, negligent, self-important, ignorant idiots.   As well as having all of the aforementioned traits, Paul Watson is also a Machiavellian liar and a dirty pirate.

This season’s premier began with the Sea Shepherds going apoplectic as whale was killed.  One of the crew actually said that the whalers’ actions were “a deliberate escalation by the Japanese…a response to our actions.”  What a self-important load of crap.  The whalers were killing the whales because it is their job.  This tease foreshadowed the event of ramming the Japanese that made news earlier this year.

The season began with another major system, the compass, broken on the ship.  What a bucket of bolts this ship is.

Then, we saw them deciding which members of the crew were actually going to participate in throwing stink-bombs and slippery bombs onto the decks of the Japanese ships.

Unfortunately, they found the Japanese fleet during the first episode this season.  I think I remember them wandering aimlessly for a few episodes last season.  On the way to the Japanese ship, they saw some whales.  One of the female crew members actually said sarcastically, “At least there are still a few left.”  This shows either a blatant distortion of the facts regarding the whale situation in the Antarctic, or it demonstrates her profound ignorance of it.  I say the chances are 50-50.

Then, they missed the Japanese ship because their ‘navigator’ could not tell the difference between North and South.  So, what was the answer to the situation?  Drive through the ‘treacherous’ ice field, and make it look a lot more dangerous than it is.

The episode ended by showing them running into the ice.  Fools.  There was also a preview of many of the things that are going to occur this season, but I at least will choose to hold off on all of that so I will have something else to gripe the rest of the season.

Good News, the Navy Acted and the Captain is Safe Finally. So where do we go from here?

Well, it was a happy ending.  The good captain of the Maersk Alabama is safe, and three of the Pirates are dead.  We will only have to foot the bill to imprison one of them.  Yeah!  Thanks to the Navy.

I was reading one report that explained that the Navy had approached the President three times during negotiations, and had received permission to take necessary actions.  This is where I have the problem.  It is not appropriate to manage these types of situations from a desk thousands of miles away.  Obama should have ceded control of the situation to the commander on the scene from the beginning of the situation giving him authority to take any necessary action to save the life of the captain.

Having to repeatedly ask Washington for permission to act put the captain’s life in further jeopardy.  As I said in my earlier post, this was why the Navy was not in a position to end the situation when the Captain jumped into the water the first time.

The captain had done exactly what a hostage should do in a situation like this.  He had separated himself from his captors giving the Navy the perfect opportunity to end the situation.  However, not having permission to do so, the Navy sat back and allowed him to be captured again.  He was really lucky the pirates did not shoot him in the water.

So, a couple of days later, after finally receiving permission to take punitive action, and when it appeared the captain’s life way in danger, the Navy resolved the situation, in a way that it could have been done earlier.

Now, the press will focus on the fact that these ‘boys’ who were killed and the one that was captured were only 16 years old.  The press will play this up regardless of the fact that this is a country where boys are forced to grow up earlier.  Often they are carrying AK-47s by the time they are 10 years old, and the life expectancy in Somalia is 48.

The prates are now threatening to kill any Americans that are captured in the future.  The truth is they will probably leave any ship flying a U.S. flag alone because it has been shown to be very unprofitable to attack them, and profit is what this is all about.

The other part of the solution, is for the Navy and Marines to take a couple of months, and destroy as many of these pirates and their bases of operation as possible.  We know where they are, they have to be where their boats are, and without the boats, they are no longer pirates.  After destroying their infrastructure, it will simply be a matter of assigning a couple of ships and their compliment of helicopters and support craft to patrol the area and a few armed Predators to make sure we know which boats are in the area and what they are doing.

Failure to Act

Off the horn of Africa, a drama has taken place which I am afraid will turn out to be an example of what Americans will learn to expect from the Obama administration.  Last night Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk cargo ship Alabama (the ship that had been taken by pirates only to be freed after he heroically offered to accompany the pirates as a hostage) leapt from the boat in a bid to save himself

It is important to note, that these pirates and their hostage are currently in a lifeboat with their hostage.  It is out of fuel, and simply floating in the Indian Ocean.  So, what happened when the captain tried to escape in the night by attempting to swim to a U.S. Navy destroyer?  The pirates caught him and brought him back on board.  The U.S. Navy reported that it happened so quickly they could not provide assistance.

Translation: The Navy was not ready and in position to act when they had the opportunity to save the captain, they did not have the authorization to use deadly force against the pirates if they had been in position to do so.

I talked to a friend about this yesterday.  I told him that I believed that these pirates would eventually surrender, and that for the first time in history, we would do nothing to them, and they would eventually be released.  Historically, piracy has been one of the most punitively punished crimes in the world.  In fact, the first time the U.S. fought a war abroad, it involved piracy and the attempt to end it in the Mediterranean Sea.  Pirates are hung, shot, downed and keel-hauled (the Alabama has a big-assed keel), and rightfully so.

When this happened to a U.S. ship, Navy Seals should have been immediately provided to the destroyer overseeing the situation.  They should have been deployed in the small support boats from the destroyer to surround and curtail the movements of the pirates, and given the right to use deadly force.  Once it was realized that the pirates were adrift in a boat with a hostage, it should have only been a matter of time.

After the pirate boat was surrounded, the seals with appropriate Barrett M107 .50 Caliber sniper rifles should have simply waited until they all had a shot that did not include Captain Phillips.  This would definitely include any time he was not on the boat, especially an escape attempt in which he was in the water and swimming.  In fact, that may have been a good time to employ a weapon that involved an area of effect (one that goes ‘Boom!’) on the pirate boat.

My point is, I suspect that the Navy did not act because it was not prepared to do so.  The only reason that makes any sense to me is that they had not received the authorization to use deadly force at that time.  This would be the same authorization that would be expected to be given to any local police force in the U.S. in a similar hostage situation.

This inaction, and the attitude that kept the Navy from being able to do what was right and necessary at the time will be a hallmark of our foreign policy for the next four to eight years.

My thoughts and prayers are with the captain and his family.  I just hope action is taken to save his life soon.