The Power of Indulgence

By Piper Bayard

Nicotine patches are flying off the shelves and personal trainers are working overtime. And every gym across the nation is filled with the January Resolutioners.

People on treadmills at gym US Air Force wikimedia

image from US Air Force, wikimedia commons

The Resolutioners are easy to spot, and the gym rats know just how long each of them will stay.  The overweight guy who’s straining to press his maxed-out set of three? He’s done now because he just hurt himself. The lady sitting on the mat gossiping between her two sets of 10 stomach crunches? She left January 4th. January 5th if she’s with a friend. But the aging realtor in the power training class who ran out, vomited, and came back? She’s the one to watch. Ask her name. She’ll have the bikini bod by July. The difference? She wants to be there.

The hard fact is that people do what they want to do. Period. Most resolutions are about “should,” and shoulds never pan out.

I took an aikido class where I was almost the only woman with a lot of hot babes. None of them smoked. I did. When faced with the clean-living martial arts Chippendales, I was ashamed of that fact. I decided I needed to either quit or come to terms with my vice. Since quitting was difficult, and I didn’t like difficult, I chose to make peace with my choice.

I watched myself objectively. I discovered that I first justified the cigarette. Then I lit up and enjoyed the first third. That’s when the self-recrimination kicked in. . . . Why can’t I just quit? Those hunka hunka aikido guys would never want an ashtray-mouth like me. . . . I vowed it was my last cigarette forever and felt strong for a while because, in the words of an old friend, “Junkie always strong afta he fix.”

Since my resolution was to smoke proudly, like Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, I short-circuited that cycle at the point of self-abuse and turned off the negative talk.

I told myself to just smoke or don’t. It worked, but not like I thought it would.

When I used smoking to beat myself up, I felt like a loser. When I felt like a loser, I thought I was a loser. When I thought I was a loser, I had an excuse to fail in all of my goals. When I removed that self-abuse, I no longer had the Lame Loser Excuse. Smoking lost its appeal. It became nothing more than a dispassionate choice. I chose to quit and never looked back. Good thing since I could never afford it now.

Since then, my only resolution has been to do what I want. I vowed to be a secretary forever if I wanted. One year later, I started law school. I vowed to eat all the sweets I wanted. I lost 30 pounds. I vowed to only write when I wanted. I now have a publisher. That’s because something deep inside of us wants what’s best for us. If we surrender to that voice, we rise above self-destruction.

Chocolate donut John wikimedia

image by John, wikimedia commons

In that spirit, these are my 2013 resolutions.

  1. I will eat all the donuts I want. Especially chocolate donuts.
  2. I will sleep in any time I want instead of going to the gym.
  3. I will yell at my children whenever I want. (Looking forward to that one.)
  4. I will buy every pair of shoes I want, even the ones that don’t fit well and serve no purpose.
  5. I will only write when I want.

And as for the January Resolutioners at the gym? Good for you! I’m rooting for you and hoping you will only come to the gym when you want. I’m hoping you will want often, and that I will see you on the beach in July.

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The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Severe Toilet Paper Shortage

Venezuela is one of the most oil rich countries in the world. However, for years its socialist government has “progressed” it into severe food shortages. Now, they are even having to import their toilet paper.

They must have needed it all to clean up after Hugo Chavez.

Toilet Paper Man

Actual photo of Hugo Chavez.

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

Kristen Lamb brings her acid wit to bear on Abercrombie & Fitch. Prepare to ROFL. A New Era in Fashion–How Abercrombie & Fitch Saves Needless Suffering

I had the pleasure of meeting comic book author and James Bond scholar, Alan J. Porter, while I was teaching at the DFW Writers Conference earlier this month. Interview: 007 Scholar ALAN J. PORTER on SKYFALL and 50 Years of Bond on Film

James-Bond-Lexicon-Alan-Porter

Does the publishing industry need New York? Mr. Patterson, Meet Mr. Patterson by J.E. Fishman.

The most distressing thing about the Benghazi Hearings is that so few people are bothering to follow them, still insisting this is nothing but partisan drama. Holmes and I are steadfastly neutral and unaffiliated with any party. We don’t spend our time playing politics. We had our say. (Benghazi: An Intelligence Perspective) Everything Holmes writes in this article is cited to public source, but he does not get his information from the media. We also recommend reading an interview with Admiral Lyons, former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, another man with an excellent reputation for political neutrality who does not get his news from the media. Admiral James A. Lyons on Growing Benghazi Scandal. And if you don’t believe them, listen to the man on the ground, former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks.

The Ender’s Game movie is almost here! The Ender’s Game Trailer by Ellie Ann.

You know about the “Hey, Girl” Ryan Gosling meme? Just when he thought it was safe to go back on Facebook, there is now the Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal meme. Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal and We Can Die Happy

I know Mother’s Day is past, but this is still a fun read. From Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva, 10 Bad Mother’s Day Gifts for 2013.

Big day for Trekkies! The new Star Trek: Into the Darkness movie is out! This next video is in honor of the Spocks who have brought me so much entertainment over the decades.

Campaign Style Poll Daddy Question of the Week

All the best to all of you for a week of keeping it clean.

Piper Bayard

The Happy Man Manual — Valentine’s Day

By Piper Bayard

Guys get the short end of the stick on Valentine’s Day. It’s a day that’s geared toward women. Make her happy, win her heart, pop that question. Buy her roses, get her chocolates, give her a massage, say things to make her swoon. Everywhere men look, television, magazines, the internet, and their girlfriends and wives bombard them with expectations, most of which they can never meet.

Valentine's Day Tree Johntex wikimedia

image by Johntex, wikimedia commons

Women, on the other hand, have it easy. That’s because men come with a three sentence Happy Man Manual: 1) Feed me; 2) Feed my ego; 3) Feed my libido. If a woman does at least two of those three things, she’s made him happy. Three, and bliss ensues. As a result, pleasing men on Valentine’s Day, or any other day, is almost as difficult as watching ice melt, but not quite.

To test this, I asked my husband to suggest ten things women can do to please their men on Valentine’s Day. This was his response:

  1. Show up naked.
  2. Show up naked.
  3. Show up naked.
  4. Show up in a negligee.
  5. Cook his favorite chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy and chocolate cake.
  6. And make those little prosciutto pastry pinwheels to go with that.
  7. Say again what a good job he did remodeling the bathroom.
  8. Tell him now that you’re with him, you don’t think about Jason Stathom anymore.
  9. Bake him some cookies.
  10. Ask him to show up naked.

So this Valentine’s Day, my heart goes out to men everywhere. Thank you for being men in all of your simple glory. The fact is that if you weren’t so easy, you would have put an end to this holiday before it even got off the ground. I appreciate it that you didn’t. I’m looking forward to whatever creative surprise my husband comes up with this year, whether it’s a pink hat or a heart-shaped mug warmer. Perhaps I’ll thank him with a chocolate cake. Among other things.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Michelangelo’s David Must Wear Underwear

A town in Japan received a replica of Michelangelo’s David as a gift. Many found the statue to be immodest and demanded underwear.

Michelangelo's David David Gaya wikimedia

image by David Gaya, wikimedia commons

Read the story here. Japan Town Demands Underwear for Michelangelo’s David

I had no idea John Ashcroft had moved to Japan.

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

I’m excited to tell you about WANA International’s first online writing conference – WANACon! With best selling author Kristen Lamb at the helm, this is sure to be an outstanding learning experience for authors. New York Times Best Selling Author Allison Brennan and Aaron Patterson, #1 Amazon Best Seller and General Manager of Stonehouse Ink Publishing are only two of the teachers presenting classes during the event, which will be February 22 – 23. Kristen gives us the details at her blog. And Now for Something Completely Different! Redefining the Writing Conference

WANACon Logo

I always enjoy seeing two of my favorite bloggers in the same place. This time, it’s Jess Witkins and Julie Glover. Guilty Pleasures Friday – Embarrassing My Kids

Lena Corazon directed me to The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts and an interesting article, What Did Historical Swords Weigh?

Ellie Ann pointed me toward some amazing horses. Picturing Horses

A Knight at the Crossroads Viktor M. Vasnetsov

A Knight at the Crossroads by Viktor M. Vasnetsov, US public domain

Blurb Etiquette Some excellent advice from author Mike Duran.

Beyonce created quite a stir with her costume that was almost there at the Superbowl halftime show. Elizabeth Duffy wrote and excellent commentary on the kerfuffle. Sex, Shame, and the Superbowl

Sometimes those old relatives wander off to the strangest places. Via Judith Houlding of Space Editing, LLC. Bones Under Parking Lot Belonged to Richard III

Second Graders Spell-Check NFL Players’ Tweets

A precious moment captured. Via Xandra James we have Baby Wolf Learns to Howl.

All the best to all of you for a week of knowing your art.

Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

Two Lines in the Sand–Mexican/American War, Part III

By Jay Holmes

When President Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to occupy and defend Texas up to the border of the Rio Grande, he was utilizing a well-defined line in the sand to demark his demand that Mexico honor its treaties of Velasco, signed by Mexican Dictator Santa Ana on May 14, 1836. Unfortunately for Taylor, Mexico drew its own line in the sand further north along the bank of the Nueces river.

Mexico 1840 Golbez wikimedia

image by Golbez, wikimedia commons

The USA counted on two significant advantages in its decision to enforce the Treaty of Velasco. The first advantage was clear and voluminous intelligence emanating from Mexico. Given the rampant factionalism and lack of unity in Mexico, extracting actionable intelligence was about as challenging as coaxing heat from the sun. The information consistently portrayed a lack of political stability and rampant corruption.

This gave the USA a second advantage. President Polk calculated that US forces would not face strong resistance from the inhabitants of Mexico, and he knew that the Mexican army, although well-trained and numerous, would likely be undermined by the lack of effective government. He was right.

In the early skirmishes with the Mexican Army, Taylor’s forces refined a new and useful tactic. A young US Army officer named Samuel Ringgold had dutifully researched major and minor European battles and studied the use and effects of artillery. Ringgold concluded that, while throw weight, accuracy, and loading rates were indeed important, the speed at which artillery could be properly placed and set up was just as important. He conceived a “flying artillery” tactic and developed equipment to make it possible.

On May 8, 1846, Ringgold and 2,400 US soldiers were moving south toward Fort Brown at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Mexican general Mariano Arista and his 3,900 soldiers intercepted them.

Arista was a skilled general with a well-trained army. He ordered that the US artillery be flanked and attacked. His tactic was a reasonable one, but the Flying Artillery was able to set up and fire on the Mexican cavalry before Arista’s heavier artillery could be deployed. That tactic played a key role in defeating the Mexicans in what we call the Battle of Palo Alto.  Ringgold was badly wounded during the battle and died three days later, but his influence on artillery remains today.

Map Battle of Palo Alto US Government wikimedia

Map of Battle of Palo Alto, image by US Government

Taylor’s forces fought a series of battles, and he entered Mexico proper and maneuvered toward Monterrey in Northeastern Mexico in the state of Nuevo Leon. As General Taylor’s army moved south, they elongated their supply lines. Though some guerilla activity ensued against his long supply lines, it did not slow Taylor’s progress. It helped that there was no popular resistance on the part of the Mexican people, which was precisely what Polk and his advisors had predicted.

By August, the US Navy had captured Monterrey, California and Los Angeles, California while continuing to successfully blockade Mexican ports.

In September, Taylor attacked Monterrey in Nuevo Leon, and after a bloody three-day battle against Mexican forces led by General Ampudia, Monterrey was captured. No, you’re not lost. There were two Monterrey’s captured. One in California, and the other in Mexico.

Mexico and the USA agreed to a truce. Polk and Taylor both hoped Mexico would be amenable to a peace treaty that included the sale of south Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California to the USA. Unfortunately for Polk, Mexico was not ready to give up. The old and often despised general Santa Ana returned to Mexico from exile and organized an army of 20,000 additional troops.

By December of 1847, it was evident to Polk and his war cabinet that Mexico would not agree to a treaty without suffering further defeats. Rather than reinforcing Polk for an attempted march southward toward central Mexico, General Winfield Scott proposed an amphibious assault against Veracruz on the east coast of Mexico.

The US Navy landed Scott and 12,000 troops on beaches near Vera Cruz. US Navy ships bombarded Veracruz artillery positions, and Scott attacked with his troops. He captured Veracruz after a twenty day siege. In a series of battles, Scott worked his way inland toward Mexico City.

Normally, the notion of a 12,000 man army marching on Mexico City would seem ludicrous. Such a small force should have been easily swallowed up in the difficult terrain as their supply lines extended away from the coast. But like the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortez had done a few centuries earlier, Scott relied on the unpopularity of the central government in Mexico.

Several future US Civil War generals took part in the expedition. While Robert E. Lee and many of his future confederate senior officers fought in the siege at Chapultepec and in other key battles, one officer had the inglorious and thankless task of keeping supply lines open to Veracruz. When you are trying to capture Mexico City, an army of 12,000 is much too small for the task. When you are trying to feed an army far from the nearest port with poor roads and no railroad, an army of 12,000 is much too big.

Given the distance, terrain, climate, and conditions of the times, as well as the obvious opportunity for guerrilla attacks, the task was monumental. The poor schlep stuck with the job was a hard-drinking army officer named U.S. Grant. The seemingly plain and undistinguished Grant rose to the occasion and employed ingenuity to keep Scott’s army fed and supplied.

Panaderia Mexicana JEDIKNIGHT1970 wikimedia

Panaderia Mexicana, image by JEDIKNIGHT1970, wikimedia

Grant used his “horse trading sense” in the most literal way and managed to acquire enough native mules and horses at fair prices without aggravating the local Mexicans. He used good judgment in selecting reliable Mexicans to work for him, and managed to open a highly successful bakery operation that actually turned a profit for the US Army while increasing the food supplies for the local families.

The last major obstacle in Scott’s path was Chapultepec Fort. The stronghold was on high ground and had an excellent natural defensive position. The outpost there had served as Mexico’s military academy, a sort of Mexican West Point. When Scott’s forces approached the fort, the Mexican commander ordered a retreat, leaving Mexico City exposed.

Six cadets ranging in ages from thirteen through nineteen refused to leave. It no doubt took a good deal of courage for any cadet to make such a decision. These cadets faced the decision with the knowledge that Mexico lacked a government that demonstrated any loyalty to Mexicans, and they chose to stay and fight to a certain death.

Chapultepec was captured on September 13, and the US army entered Mexico City. Some inhabitants continued to fight a guerrilla war against the American occupiers, but by mid-October the US Army had complete control of Mexico City.

Santa Ana continued to resist and encouraged as much guerrilla activity as he could against the US Army’s supply lines, but Grant’s masterful administration of those lines completely foiled him. On February 2, 1848, Mexico and the USA signed the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. It was ratified by the congress of each nation.

It has been alleged that several members of the Mexican congress betrayed Mexico, and worked closely with agents of the USA to help get the treaty ratified. I have never seen enough historical evidence to prove or disprove this allegation.

The USA agreed to Mexico’s right to maintain free trade with any nation. It lifted the blockades of Mexican ports and paid $15,000,000 for the vast territories that it gained, half of what it had offered prior to the war. In turn, the USA lost about 14,000 lives and $100,000,000. In costs, it was a huge sum at the time. The Mexican casualties are more difficult to estimate, but were likely less than those of the defenders.

Los Ninos Heroes Thelmadatter wikimedia

Los Ninos Heroes, image by Thelmadatter, wikimedia

And those six young cadets? They are remembered today in Mexico as “Los Heroes Ninos.” A huge monument in Mexico City is still one of Mexico’s most popular shrines. There are no huge monuments to Santa Ana or the forgettable and most often lamentable politicos who fought for power in the halls of the Mexican congress. James K. Polk is all but forgotten in the USA, as well. Winfield Scott shunned politics. General Taylor replaced Polk as the President of the United States. But the six boys still remain a symbol of selflessness to Mexico today.

Is America Headed Toward Firearms Confiscation?

By Piper Bayard

Currently, a great deal of misinformation is firing throughout the Cyberverse about gun control. Tempers flaring, insults flying, and people “unfriending” those who state even the barest, most uncontested facts from any source on any side of the issue. In an effort to wrest this topic kicking and screaming from the fear mongerers on both sides, I spoke with University of Colorado Constitutional Law Professor Richard B. Collins to get the straight skinny.

Firearms West Midlands Police wikimedia

image by West Midlands Police, wikimedia commons

Bayard:

Many people in the US are comparing the latest New York gun control laws to the laws of the UK, Canada, and Australia, where guns and gun ownership are highly restricted and regulated. They are concerned that the registration requirement will be enacted at a federal level, and that it will lead to confiscation. What, if anything, would prevent registration leading to confiscation from happening in America?

Collins:

America is the only country in the world with the constitutional right to own firearms at the federal level. Forty-four states also have the right to bear arms in their constitutions, and those state constitutions are not to be underestimated. The UK, Canada, and Australia never had the right to bear arms in their countries’ founding documents.

When it comes to confiscation, the confiscation question is, “Confiscate what?” If police find a nuclear device in your basement they can already take it, and we hope they will. The extreme image is that the government will confiscate handguns and rifles. I’m pretty sure that couldn’t be done. Even in Australia they couldn’t get the wherewithal to confiscate [rifles and most handguns 9mm in caliber or less], and, as I said, Australia has no right to bear arms in its Constitution. I am reasonably sure that if any US legislature had the political guts to try to confiscate guns, the Second Amendment and political climate would prevent that from happening.

A point of American law that gets ignored is that we already have legal limits on what guns we can possess. All kinds of legal limits. One example is the National Firearms Act of 1934, which banned the private use of machine guns.

Every country has a definition of a weapon so powerful that only the government can possess it. We have a line in America. In most other countries, the line is much lower than it is here; however, even the most stringent of countries do allow hunting rifles and [some] handguns.

Bayard:

In your opinion, do you believe the newly enacted New York gun laws will pass muster with the Supreme Court?

Collins:

More likely than not, they will. But I’m not at all sure. The seminal case is District of Columbia v. Heller. It is a case from D.C. with an opinion by Justice Scalia that is very pro-regulation. It does not stop people from having a gun at home to protect their houses, but once they walk out their doors, they can be regulated. New York law is very complex. In general, comparing the new gun laws in New York to the Heller case, I would say they will probably survive 2-1.

One possible issue, however, is if a federal employee falls under the requirement to report information about a patient who owns guns. According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), no wellness or health promotion activity under that Act is allowed to require the disclosure or collection of any information relating to the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition. However, nothing in Obamacare prevents a state or private health care worker from doing so.

Bayard’s Note:

The State of New York does not have the right to bear arms in its state constitution. This makes gun control a different ball game for them than for most of the other states. California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, and New Jersey also lack any right to bear arms in their state constitutions. All other state constitutions have some provision for the right to bear arms. Also, in all other states, excepting Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Virginia, the right to self-defense with a firearm is either explicitly protected as an individual right in the state constitution or it has been upheld as an individual right in case law.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Richad B. Collins is a Professor of Law at the University of Colorado and the Director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law. The short version of his resume contains six pages of accomplishments, each more impressive than the last. Notably, he worked with the Native American Rights Fund, argued numerous Supreme Court cases, published countless articles in law journals and reviews, organized several symposiums, was awarded a Fulbright grant and the the Smith Kline Beckman Award in Legal Education, and was a Visiting Professor at Wuhan University and Beijing University in China.

My profound thanks to Professor Collins for giving us the Second Amendment facts in this time of high passions around the right to keep and bear arms.

In a future article, we will discuss Professor Collins’ perspective on executive orders.

A Time to Receipt

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

An engaged couple in Anderson County, South Carolina made a purchase at Walmart. Three days later, they saw the face of Jesus in their receipt.

After consulting with internationally renowned apparition experts (us) and experiencing years of low-quality receipts which retain everything except the original ink with which they are printed, we here at Bayard and Holmes recognize this Walmart apparition as the same one that appeared on the famous Cheesus grilled cheese sandwich.

Grilled Cheesus yahoo shopping

image of Grilled Cheesus from Yahoo! Shopping

It is our conclusion that Walmart used a Grilled Cheesus to imprint this receipt with the face of a thirty-something, Middle Eastern Jewish man named Shlomo to lure more customers through the door in the hope that they, too, will receive a Made in China miracle.

Don’t fall for this cheap imitation!

We here at Bayard & Holmes have the highest quality genuine apparitions on the market today. In fact, with our receipts, you aren’t limited to just Jesus, and you aren’t limited to just one.

While it’s true that we currently have no products on the market, we would never let a little thing like that keep us from serving you, our beloved readers. Send us your money in any amount large enough to cover our inconsequential substantial overhead, and we will send you a genuine Bayard & Holmes receipt fit for any home shrine or church reliquary.

Upon your first purchase, you will receive a receipt divinely imprinted with the face of the Virgin Mary. No heavyweight boxer grills here!

Your second purchase will come with a receipt bearing the apparition of the face of Jesus in the race of your choice. (Western European Jesus apparition available for Protestants and Mormons.)

With your third purchase . . . Hold on . . . We send you a receipt with both Mary and Jesus in either the Madonna or the Pieta pose, along with a genuine Bayard & Holmes Certificate of Authentication signed by the priests of our order, the New York Yankees–assuming they don’t notice what they are signing.)

But that’s not all!

With every donation purchase over $5k, you will also receive a complimentary receipt that includes the possibility of a miracle, and a holographic apparition of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci of The Da Vinci Code fame.

The Last Supper Leonardo Da Vinci

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

Just think. Who else but Bayard & Holmes could get you this close to all 12 apostles and Jesus simultaneously for a mere $5k? Why, Walmart and most churches would charge you at least $50k and a lifetime of troublesome rules for this prize.

Lest Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists,* or any other religious denominations feel left out, you are welcome to substitute your prophet or your favorite sports player for the image of Jesus. We do, however, offer our apologies to Muslims. We will not be able to produce receipts with the image of your prophet, as we do not fancy living out our lives in a federal protective service. You may, however, request the image of your favorite soccer player or political protestor.

So remember, dear readers, when you’re in need of a miracle, think Bayard & Holmes for all of your apparition needs. Bayard & Holmes–because there’s a time to give (to us), and a time to receipt (to you).

*First 500 Atheist donors receive a complimentary genuine faux dinosaur bone relic.