Pirate etymology: sea dog

Grrr! by Jesper Egelund

Many believe the term stems from the dog-like appearance of the seal, while others claim it is grizzled old sailors. Both of these are correct, nautically speaking, but not when it comes to the pirate.

Pirates, and more particularly, privateers, became known as sea dogs after the astonishing career of Captain Rufus the Flatulent.

Captain Rufus was given his Letter of Marque by Henry VIII, and plied his trade in the English Channel, off the coast of Aquitaine, and wherever Henry was at war. The privateer campaign in Aquitaine was particular successful, and Captain Rufus took many a prize. (Henry always had a hard time getting these out of Rufus’s jaws, but he was easily distracted by the piles of cooked swan that Henry had lying around the castle.)

In fact, the etymology of the term begins in Aquitaine, where French merchantmen sailors would cry, upon seeing Rufus’s standard (a set of crossed bones), “sauve qui peu, c’est le chein du mer!” (Sometimes they would just wet themselves and jump in the ocean without shouting anything.)

This “cheien du mer” cry quickly became anglicized, and is the now-famous, “sea dog.”

Alltop Grrr!, a photo by Jesper Egelund on Flickr.

Ask General Kang: As a world-conquering potentate, what is your policy regarding instant gratification?

Ask General KangWell, I’m totally against it.

From what I can see there is too much instant gratification happening here on Terra; and this is at least some part of the reason why I am conquering this world soon.

I’m a fan of a system of gratification we call The Rectitude on my home world.

The Rectitude started out as philosophical movement of neo-utopian bonobos, but it eventually caught on within the simian population at large, and I hope that someday it will catch on amongst the primates of this world too.

What is The Rectitude?
It sounds kind of proctologist-y, but essentially, to have some kind of physical gratification, the idea is that first you have to earn it. (Yes, just go ahead, say it just like John Houseman.)

The best kind of Rectitude to earn is through intense physical effort. For example, if you climb a mountain, that earns you lots of Rectitude – at least a week of all kinds of debauchery. Walk to the store instead of driving, and that probably earns you enough Rectitude to eat the Cheese Doodles you were going to get in the first place.

Once Earth is fully under my control, every sentient being on the planet can look forward to a lifetime of earning and expending Rectitude.

Stop groaning! It will be good for you humans to learn a little self-discipline!

Next time: How do you handle unwanted sexual advances, particularly from another species?

You know who has rectitude? Hard working humor writers. From my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures.

Time Travel Sucks

Nothing worse than the hoseIf you asked him, Bertie could never really tell you what he disliked most about time travel.

Obviously, having to arrive in each new era stark naked was not the most pleasant experience. It usually meant having at least a few embarrassing moments (though it could occasionally have its upsides, such as the time he dimensionally slipped into that alternate reality where women had the same psychosexual visual response to nudity the way that men did in his reality . . .)

He was bothered that he could not change anything. He’d taken Causality 101 in college, and was fully conversant with the Heisenberg-Lurie equations relating to the Novikov self-consistency principle. He’d even tested this idea by trying to kill Hitler. (Every first-year time traveler tries to kill Hitler at least a couple of times.) Yes, not being able to alter history bothered him.

Then there was the HOSE. He hated the HOSE.

Alltop considers itself a hoser. Thanks to Whatsthatpicture for the historical snap. Originally published in 2007.

A Reluctant Emcee

One of the Ab's brothers

The stun bolt struck near me, and I was flying through the air. My hair crackled with static electricity. My vision went red. Quite possibly I soiled my expensive trousers. Did any of that worry me? No, I had much bigger problems. My brothers were coming back to town for the wedding.

I’d been dreading both events. Their inevitable return, and the marriage of Josh and Mary. Just as inevitable: the lovebirds’ request to have me, the Right Honorable Member of Parliament for Middlesex County, Ab Durer, as master of ceremonies.

I loathe the role of emcee. And my friends always ask me to do it.

Earlier that week, I’d foolishly complained to my brother Warren about emceeing again; he’d looked particularly scary in a suit of plate mail he always “wore” in the datasphere. An affectation, but it had plenty of impact.

“Well, why don’t me and the other brothers come?” he’d said.

“Uh. I’m not sure how good an idea that is,” I had said.

“Sure! It’s been ages since we saw you. Fabian and Petrovich have been pretty busy in Central America, but me and Deeter can convince them to come up.”

“No, I really don’t think you should. You’re not invited.”

“Hey!” shouted Warren, “we’re never invited. Just suck it up. We’re going to be there. Besides, Albrecht,” he said — emphasizing the “brecht”, just the way I’ve always hated it —”we have something to tell you.”

It had taken me a while to work up the courage to let Josh and Mary know that all four were planning to attend. Mary had burst into tears, and Josh confided, “You know, I thought this relationship was just going to be the end of my bachelorhood, not the end of everything.”

I’d laughed and mumbled something about the boys being much more mellow since they’d left high school. You had to admire the couple’s pluck. They made contingency plans, booking a full riot squad for the reception, buying doses of the best nanobiotics money could buy, and hiring Freeze-A-Head, “in case” of fatalities.

I felt so bad that I actually gave them my speech to vet, though I figured we would never get through the wedding, let alone the speeches. I was kind of torn on that. I hate emceeing — blathering into a holo-mic so that the relatives and friends attending remotely can enjoy the syrupy sentiments. And while everyone else whiffs up jazzy nanocaines and quaffs copious amounts of Old Nurberg’s Pink Ale (those who like it like it enough to go blind), I have to abstain.

On the other hand, did I really want to see my brothers back in town, just to avoid sobriety?

But I should get back to the stun bolts, and my electric fandango as I flew through the air, shouldn’t I?

°°°
Continue reading