It’s only half-past twelve, but I don’t care…

It’s five o’clock somewhere, according to Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett and probably this guy anchored out in front of the Oslo Opera House one sunny afternoon.  You may think, like I did, that the Jolly Roger he’s flying just below Norway’s flag is just another creation of Disney.  As it turns out, this is one case where Hollywood actually studied history rather than inventing it.  The “skull and crossbones on a black field” design actually dates as far back as 1687, and it was apparently widely used by pirates from that time forward to let their intended victims know that there was a new sheriff in town. The pirates hoped that by thus signaling their lawless intent they would bluff the hapless merchantmen into giving up without a fight.  If simply “showing the colors” didn’t work, they had another flag they would run up to reinforce the message…the red flag.  That second flag declared “…and we aren’t taking any prisoners if we have to fight you”.  The message must have been clearly understood in 1720 when a pirate sailed into harbor in Newfoundland flying the Jolly Roger, whereupon the crew of all 22 vessels at anchor abandoned ship in great haste!  Sometimes the simplest messages are the most effective.  (22 August, 2011 Oslo, Norway)