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By Pam Burke 

Pirate polite: It's the new business model


Reuters reporter Ben Berkowitz reported Aug. 13 that "Africa's pirates have demands — and letterhead, too."

Apparently, professional pirate Jamal Faahiye Culusow wants to be taken seriously by those from whom he and his Pirate Action Group of merry men are extorting money. And they are taking a tip from the many email scammers with questionable English skills: They're putting on the big top with an open memo on letterhead — complete with a logo, official seal and the boss' signature — to the intended victim. was nice enough to put the entire letter online:

To Whom It May Concern:

Pam Burke

Subject: Congratulation to the


Having seen when my Pirate Action Group (P.A.G) had controlled over your valuable vessel we are saying to you Company/Owner welcome to Jamal's Pirate Action Group (J.P.A.G) and you have to follow by our law to return back your vessel and crew safely.

In order to fulfill my suggestion you have to accept every step I want you to do it, otherwise you will lose the vessel and the crew because of we have entitled to do everything if you do not obey our regulations.

Do not imagine that we are making to you intimidations, but we send this message to every Company/Owner we hijack from vessels, luxury cruises and etc when the vessel anchored to my station.

Best regards,

General Commander of the Group

Jamal Faahiye Culusow

Can I just say, Jamal, you rock.

Our friend Jamal is the ideal professional: polite, straight forward, thorough — this memo is actually the first page of an entire information packet for the Customer/Owner to help him/her/them through the ransom-paying process, which is always tricky at best.

Now if only we could teach this business model to pirates of other industries like politics and commerce.

For example, after virtually a lifetime of using one particular brand of toilet paper, I recently switched to another brand. It was a big deal, my mother raised us using that brand. It wasn't just TP to us. We blew our noses on it, wrapped the dog in it to make him into a mummy, dabbed bits on our first razor nicks, and used it as emergency crepe paper to finish a float for the parade.

It was good stuff ... until someone decided to make the paper thinner, and thinner, and the squares smaller, and smaller.

If only they would have warned me it was coming ... I would've still switched, but I wouldn't feel so resentful. They could've just said:

Subject: Congratulations to the


Having seen when the Industry of Electronics had pushed to upgrade the world to paperless offices we of the More Wipeless Action Group (M.W.A.G) made the envision of a Paperless Bathroom.

In our concentrated effort to follow through on this Go Green paperless paper initiative to cover up our efforts to get your green paper money for less TP, we are provided you with More Thinner and Less Bigger squares of toilet paper per roll. It is our fervent hope that you either do not notice or will be mindlessly accepting of this product downsizing, while happy buying our new, more expensive triple-ply product — that is the same thicknesses as our old two-ply.

Do not imagine that we are making to you the Customer/Wiper a good deal, which because we are making it only to improve our own bottom line, not yours the Customer/Wiper.

Best Regards,

Chief Executive Officer of More Wipeless Action Group

The Paper Miser

(I can't stop sighing with wonder at


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