Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Republic of Pirates on sale in Poland now

The Polish language edition of my third book, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, went on sale today in bookstores there amid some media buzz. A bargain at 24 zł.
Republika Piratów -- published by Sine Qua Non in Krakow -- has gotten considerable pre-publication media attention, including this review in Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest daily.

The book -- which is also available in U.K, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, and audiobook editions with others on the way -- is the inspiration for the NBC series "Crossbones" which is currently airing in Latin America and is presumably on its way to European television screens.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Talking pirates with BBC Five; Nestle Waters gets a setback in Maine

Very, very early this morning, GMT, I had an enjoyable talk with BBC Five Live's "In Short" about how pirates really talked and behaved. Here's a short excerpt (on walking the plank) from our longer interview.

The interview was occasioned by International Talk Like A Pirate Day yesterday. The UK edition of my history of Blackbeard and his pirate gang, The Republic of Pirates, was released earlier this year by PanMacmillan, so perhaps it will have attracted a few insomniac readers.

Also, in today's Portland Press Herald I reported on a surprising new development in Nestle Waters North America's effort to conclude a longterm, low-price contract with Fryeburg, Maine's (privately-held) water utility.

Staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission has recommended the proposed contract not be approved, in part because the local utility's charter doesn't permit it to sell water in bulk to Nestle, which then bottles and sells it under the Poland Springs brand. Could this derail Nestle's decades-long pumping operations in Fryeburg? It's all up to the PUC commissioners to decide.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Did Maine overpay for iPads in schools?

Maine, home of the first statewide one-to-one computers in schools program, may have paid to much for the iPads that replaced Apple laptops in many schools a year ago.

In yesterday's Portland Press Herald, I reported on an analyst's detailed comparison of what Maine's Department of Education paid for its iPad package from Apple with what the Los Angels United School District paid for the same technology at the same time for a similarly sized program. Maine got half the discount against retail that LAUSD negotiated.

The LAUSD contract has since come unraveled because of allegedly inpappropriate ties between top district officials and both Apple and curriculum software provider Pearson. At issue is whether the district paid too much -- not too little -- for its iPad contract.

Last week, I reported that the head of Maine's program, Jeff Mao, is leaving state government. He was also at the center of a public records scandal of sorts involving the same analyst who crunched the numbers comparing Maine and L.A.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Controversial Passamaquoddy figure restored as chief at Indian Township

I have another significant development for readers of "Unsettled",  the 29-part series on Maine's Passamaquoddy people that ran in the Portland Press Herald earlier this summer.

Last week, the tribe held their general elections. As I reported in Wednesday's Press Herald, at Indian Township controversial ex-chief Billy Nicholas won the chief's race. His brother, Leslie, won the vice-chieftanship and a third brother, Indian Township police chief Alex Nicholas, won a seat on the tribal council. The Nicholas brothers will have significant influence over tribal affairs for years to come.

Meanwhile, at the tribe's other reservation at Pleasant Point, voters tossed out their incumbent chief and vice chief in favor of Fred Moore III and Vera Francis. The story has more details.

Rough roads ahead. We'll be following it.