Thomas Jefferson and the Software Pirates.

I just finished reading Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History, a thrilling true story about a forgotten war between the United States and the Barbary states during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. It is a triumph of diplomacy and military might that needs to be appreciated. I couldn’t help wonder how President Jefferson would handle a similar situation involving software pirates. Here’s my take.

The memo from the spy ring arrived at President Jefferson’s desk. Upon review his suspicions were confirmed. The software pirates were indeed in operation off the shores of Boston. By all accounts they appeared to be a flotilla of fishing boats complete with hundreds of fishing rods propped along the decks but the complete absence of fishing lines was the giveaway. The software pirates had finally been found.

Jefferson then dispatched the USS Diplomat in an attempt to negotiate with the software pirates. He promised them immunity from prosecution and steady jobs in exchange for cessation of their illegal operations. The pirates sent the Diplomat back to Washington with the single word reply, “LOL”.

Enraged, Jefferson dispatched the mighty warship USS FFFFUUUUUU to engage in combat with the software pirates. All it took was a single shot of the cannon to blow apart the pirate ship to tiny splinters and send the crew plunging into the sea to be transformed into shark poop.

Undeterred by the attack, the software pirates set up a hideout on a remote island they would call Pirate Bay for continuing their operations. Again it was detected by the Jefferson spy ring and the FFFFUUUUUU was sent to intervene. But this time the pirates were ready and had wrapped the island with giant rubber bands to deflect any flying cannon balls. To add insult to injury, they also sent a messenger to deliver the one-word taunt, “Problem?”

By now Jefferson could take no more. Assembling his staff of advisers and strategists, he utilized the last resort and proposed a raid of Pirate Bay. The soldiers came ashore disguised as palm trees and coconuts and took the pirates completely by surprise. Forced to surrender, the pirates were taken into custody and forced to operate the steam engine powered servers in use at the White House during Jefferson’s presidency, thus ending the early days of software piracy.

This early triumph of American military might was later immortalized in the famed Battle Hymn:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the troops going ashore
Dressed as palm trees and coconuts to fight a bloodless war
The pirates were surprised and couldn’t take it anymore
Our soldiers kicked their butts

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