We Thank You, Italy, for Embracing Witchcraft

An Open Letter to Italy

From Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Dear Italy,

We recently noticed that your court in L’Aquila convicted six scientists and a government official of manslaughter and sentenced them each to six years in jail because they did not accurately predict an earthquake. (See Italian Scientists Resign over L’Aquila Quake Verdicts.) This earthquake was a terrible tragedy, killing over 300 people and leaving hundreds more injured and homeless. We extend our sincere condolences to the victims of this natural disaster.

L’Aquila in highlighted Abruzzo region, image by TUBS on wikimedia commons

We also, however, extend our condolences to the people of Italy, who find themselves governed by such imbeciles. The one thing geologists and geophysicists throughout the world all agree on is that science is not yet able to accurately predict earthquakes. We find it amazing that judges and prosecutors in Italy presume to hold Italian scientists to a standard beyond that which is currently possible anywhere on the planet. Apparently in L’Aquila, they expect their scientists to employ witchcraft to predict earthquakes since science cannot do it. Note to L’Aquila prosecutors: Dumbledore is dead. You’re stuck with the scientists. But not for long . . .

Now that Italy has indicated a clear preference for witchcraft over scientific method, we would like to extend an invitation to your most capable scientists and engineers to come live in the US. Our gullible public and corrupt officials are currently less gullible and less corrupt than the Italian judiciary. Your scientists can, to our benefit, practice their skills without fear of being arrested or held to a standard of omnipotent knowledge that one would expect of God.

We realize that, as you watch our election process, you must have your own doubts about the sanity of our people and the integrity of our main political parties. You should carefully note that we have never had someone as vile and corrupt as Berlusconi in our top office. However, we do recognize that’s probably only because Berlusconi’s been at it longer than the youngsters we have in charge over here.

Since Italy apparently no longer has any use for the scientific method, we will happily welcome your best scientists and engineers here. We’d like to thank those few employed Italians with enough money to pay taxes for supporting Italy’s university system all these years. We promise to appreciate the contributions of your intelligentsia.

Before these excellent scientists leave Italy and bring their skills to the New World, we recommend that the seismologists protect themselves from criminal prosecution by issuing a blanket warning of ultimate earthquake disaster for the entire of Italy. Astronomers, no doubt equally as appalled as we are by this conviction, can join in with the proclamation that the sky is falling. Italy can call it the ‘Proclamazione di Chicken Little’.

As you fine Italian citizens consider where to relocate during the forthcoming mass evacuation of Italy, we would suggest to you our own Italian republic, which we call New Jersey. The Italian population of New Jersey has been declining precipitously in recent years. We are certain that state’s social problems could be greatly alleviated with a sufficient influx of some genuine Italians. Please take care of that embarrassing Snooki problem when you get there.

If you don’t mind taking on the work, a million or so fresh Italians relocated to Brooklyn, New York would undoubtedly improve the social conditions there, as well. Across the East River in the Bronx, the Yankees are waiting for the next Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, or Phil Rizzutto, and we’re hoping you’ll be bringing him with you. Note: Italian lawyers, politicians, and other dangerous criminals not welcome.

We should take this opportunity to thank you, people of Italy, for improving our own scientific communities with your finest minds that you went to great expense to train. Let’s face it. They have no place staying in a country that convicts them for not practicing witchcraft.

This certainly is not intended as an insult to the Italian people. We, too, have our own corrupt officials and ignorant slugs in the US who love to confuse witchcraft with science. As a general rule, though, they are too busy blaming homosexuals and abortion recipients for earthquakes and other natural disasters and therefore don’t have time to harass scientists.

Unless, of course, those scientists are also homosexual or abortion recipients. In fact, now that we think about it, we recommend that homosexual scientists avoid small towns in Kansas altogether and relocate instead to San Francisco, Boulder, or Austin. They will find themselves quite at home with teaching positions at Cambridge in the UK, as well.

Mind you, we only want your brightest and most industrious scientists and engineers seeking employment in the US and the UK. Your less magnificent scientists should obtain teaching positions at Le Sorbonne in Paris, where they can’t possibly do much harm since the students are unlikely to end their strikes long enough to attend any classes anyway. Enjoy the wine.

People of Italy, we look forward to your arrival. Some of us are Irish so we’ll leave the light on for you.


Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Our Wish-We’d-Missed Connections

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

Last week, two of our favorites, Jenny Hansen and Natalie Hartford, brought to our attention something called the Craigslist Missed Connections. Those are the ads people put up on Craigslist in an effort to find someone they saw in passing, or even someone they know but are too shy to approach.

Holmes and I, who are both happy with the connections we have, are more concerned with never connecting with certain people again. These are a few Wish-We’d-Missed Connections.

Cupid Triumphant by Bertel Thorvaldsen, image by Carsten Norgaard, Wikimedia Commons

Je Ne Sais Quoi

I saw you at Le Cafe Tres Cher. I am the man who was sitting with my back to the wall near the door. You are a tall, dark, mysterious woman. You had on that short red skirt and those lovely stiletto heels. What legs! Our eyes met as you sauntered past me. You had that je ne sais quoi air about you. I nearly gagged. That’s what happens when you don’t shower for three days.

For God’s sake, take some mercy on us. Ask the boys at Fire Station 17 to hose you down and then find another place to drink your damned coffee!

Clean Up on Aisle Nine

You smiled at me when our shopping carts passed in the vegetable aisle. I was startled because you look like a woman I once knew in Europe during the Cold War. You were wearing a green work out suit. Your lovely blonde hair was in a pony tail. You looked so charmingly girlish. I saw you again in the pharmacy section, and then you tried to follow me into the snack section. You smiled again, giving me chills. The last woman who smiled at me like that tried to knife me in the parking lot.

Fortunately, I was too fast for you, and when I tipped over the potato chip rack it blocked your path and I escaped. Find another place to shop, you psychopath! If I see you at my supermarket again I’m going to knock you upside the head with a frozen turkey and leave you unconscious in the refrigerator aisle to die a cold and lonely death.

Roman Holiday

Our paths crossed on the bus in Rome when I was but a shy teenage girl away from home for the first time. The bus was packed, and your body pressed against my backside. I tried to shift, certain a full grown man like you would never be comfortable being so close to an ingenue like me.

To my dismay, there was absolutely nowhere to move in the crush of flesh. But you, however, found the one way you could move, pressing your disgusting, corpulent, ancient self against me over and over. Honestly! What would your wife, children, and grandchildren think of you if they knew you behave in public like Burlusconi with a meter maid? If I ever see you again, you effing pervert, you will wish I was as nice as Lorena Bobbitt.

Virtual Reality

Holmes and I met you in the Scorpion Pit on the virtual reality game our kids got us sucked into. You began by telling my avatar, “You’re hot.”

New to the game and having no experience with cyber-mashers, I was confused, wondering how small you must be to be hitting on a three-inch computer image. While I was trying to picture that, Holmes began repeating back to you all of the pick up lines you were using on me.

Then it was your turn to be confused. You asked Holmes, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

To which Holmes replied, “I’m both. I have girl parts and boy parts.”

You said, “Wow! Really? Do you pee like a girl or like a boy?”

Holmes said, “I do both at the same time.”

Things became more absurd from there. You were clearly fascinated with Holmes’ fictional description of the body functions of a hermaphrodite, and you tried to find out where he lives for half an hour until we tired of laughing at you and blocked you. You are undoubtedly the sickest person we have ever met online. Don’t come near us. Don’t come near our families. Don’t come near our friends, and don’t come near our avatars or you will find out how well a charged up virtual Scarlett Death Arbalest works against a Smith & Wesson.

Three of these Wish-We’d-Missed Connections are real and one is false. Can you guess which one is false?

We’ll reveal the truth on Friday in The End is Near Mashup.

While you’re waiting with bated breath to find out which creep you don’t have to worry about running into, check out some Craig’s List Missed Connections over at Jenny Henson’s More Cowbell and Natalie Hartford’s Life Out Loud.

What are some connections you wish you had missed?

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

Piper Bayard is a recovering attorney with a university degree or two and a belly dancer from way back. She currently pens post-apocalyptic sci-fi and spy novels with Holmes when she isn’t shooting, SCUBA diving, or chauffeuring her children.

 ‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. Piper is the public face of their partnership.

© 2012 Piper Bayard. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.

CyberSmack – Captain Schettino of the Costa Concordia

To hear my spy novel writing partner, Holmes, tell it, I have spent the past few days in Italy teaching the maritime safety class, Don’t Put the Big Floating Thing In the Rocks. I’m happy to report that only one bozo in the whole of Italy actually needed the class. Unfortunately, I was too late.

The details of the wreck of the Costa Concordia are sordid, and that’s without even mentioning the fact that it’s captain, a man named Schettino, was busy dining with a young lady (not his wife) for another hour after the big floating thing hit the rocks.

Since Holmes is a man who has spent a bit of time on ships now and again, I will turn the blog over to him to apply a serious CyberSmack to this modern-day Nero.


One of the more outrageous pieces of recent news from Europe has been the crash of the cruise liner, Costa Concordia, on the rocks at Giglio, Italy. The grounding of the ship has thus far lead to 16 confirmed dead and 16 missing passengers.

Any maritime disaster that leads to dead passengers and crew is sad news, and sadder still if they happen to be your loved ones. This accident is also infuriating, though, because it easily could have, and absolutely should have, been avoided.

At approximately 9:35 p.m. (Italian time) on January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia, loaded with 4200 passengers and crew, was cruising past the island of Giglio off the coast of Italy. In order to impress the island’s residents, Captain Francesco Schettino committed his first of many crimes by ordering a course change to steer the ship close to land as a sort of “hot dogging” maneuver.

No normal merchant captain in Italy or in any respected maritime service would take such a risk. A cruise liner makes as few unscheduled course deviations as possible and never makes a close approach to rocky coastlines. Captain Schettino is clearly not a normal member of the Italian maritime community.

Out of respect for the many legitimate, honorable members of the Italian maritime community, I will refrain from calling Schettino “captain” for the rest of this article. I will instead refer to him by the more suitable title of “Bozo Schettino.” I wanted to grant him the title of “Pagliaccio Schettino,” but the Italian Clowns Union threatened me with a libel suit.

At 9:40 p.m., the ship struck rocks and was badly holed. Bozo Schettino then proceeded to commit his second major crime of the day. After becoming aware of the serious damage, he lied to his own crew and passengers, telling them that there was a temporary problem with the electrical system.

Crime number three followed. He failed to give the order to evacuate the passengers to the life boats.

Outrageous? Absolutely. But Schettino was by no means done for the night. Moments later, he committed his fourth major crime of the day. He lied to the Italian Coast Guard about the condition of the ship. As a result, the well-trained and highly capable Italian Coast Guard was now hampered in any rescue mission because, thanks to Bozo Schettino, they believed that no rescue mission was needed.

As the stricken ship took on water, she began to list to starboard. The more a cruise ship lists, the more difficult it is for ill or aged passengers to walk the passageways or climb stairs. Once a cruise ship reaches a list of 40 degrees, it becomes very difficult to man-launch lifeboats.

The cruise ship was perched on the edge of an underwater cliff. If it slipped, it would be at risk for sinking to a deeper bottom or capsizing and trapping anyone on board.

As the ship’s list increased, most of the rest of the crew decided to mutiny against the captain and begin an evacuation of the ship. Mutiny is called for in rare cases. This is one of those rare cases when failure to mutiny would have been dishonorable. Thanks to the mutinous crew, the evacuation was belatedly begun. Unfortunately, the majority of the lifeboats could not be lowered because the ship’s list had increased too much.

Having created and then badly exacerbated a ship wreck, Bozo Schettino then committed his fifth major crime of the day. He decided that perhaps his crew was right about evacuating, and he left the ship while over 300 passengers remained on board. He claimed he and all of his officers fell from the deck and were coordinating the evacuation from a lifeboat. I’m not making that up. It really is one of those rare occasions when life is more outrageous than a joke I would make with Piper.

Normally, a cruise ship captain would not leave the ship until his executive officer reported to him that a thorough, systematic search had concluded that all passengers had been evacuated. The captain would then give the abandon ship order to the crew, and he would be the last member of the crew to leave.

An Italian Coast Guard rescue vessel showed up and quickly realized that they had been lied to. They made phone contact with Bozo Schettino, sitting safely in his lifeboat, and ordered him to return on board and conclude the evacuation of passengers. Piper has included another conversation with Commander Gregorio De Falco of the Livornia. I encourage you to listen to it to get a feel for how outrageous Schettino’s behavior and attitude was that night.

After that night, Schettino continued to make insulting statements. One of his gems was, “That rock should not have been there.” What? The passengers lost their lives because of a badly behaving rock? That one didn’t fly too well with the Italian maritime community or with the general public in Italy. Most Italians might not be trained sailors, but they know that large rocks don’t throw themselves in front of cruise ships.

Bozo Schettino decided that in his tired state, he could not be expected to deliver all of the outrageous quotes on his own, so he hired a willing mouthpiece. Italian lawyer Bruno Leporati has been explaining to Italy that Bozo Schettino is a hero because, “…by beaching the ship in shallow water, he saved thousands of lives.” This is, of course, utter nonsense. The better way to save ALL the lives on board was to not ground the vessel on rocks.

I feel sad that, on behalf of the honorable Italian maritime community and the families of the dead passengers, we cannot deliver more than a Cyber Smack to Bozo Schettino. But fortunately for the Italian public, he’s by no means off of any hook yet. There is, in fact, a silver lining to this story.

After living through eight demoralizing years of the corrupt and despicable Berlusconi regime, there are clear signs for optimism in that the Italian Coast Guard acted professionally, and the general public has responded with outrage toward Schettino. For example, an Italian journalist reported that the new national pastime in Italy is inventing new ways for Schettino to die. This is healthy.

The Berlusconis and Schettinos of the world are capable of laughing off the deaths of possibly 32 passengers, along with the loss of a valuable ship in a suffering economy. It’s plain to see, though, that the vast majority of the Italian people are not anything like the Schettinos or Berlusconis of the world.

The behavior of the captain of the Costa Concordia brought unwelcome news to the demoralized Italian people, but I encourage them to recognize that their own nearly universal outrage is proof that Italians are taking back their country, and that they deserve and can have a better future. The Schettinos and Berlusconnis of Italy won’t likely win this one.

Special Edition Libya: What’s Lost if the Devil is Deposed?

By Jay Holmes

In short, what happens if you sell your soul to the devil, and the devil is deposed? European businessmen, the UK, and Italy are in exactly that quandary.

European businessmen and the UK government, under Labor Party’s Gordon Brown, did a deal with Gadhafi. It went like this. Gadhafi promised British Petroleum (“BP”) that it would continue to let it pump more oil, around $900 million, out of Libyan oil fields. He also promised BP and the UK government that he would give UK companies preferential treatment when international sanctions were lifted. In return, the UK would send home Abdel Al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

In August 2009, Scotland did release Al-Megrahi, supposedly on humanitarian grounds. He supposedly had prostate cancer and was going to die within three months. He left the UK on a hospital bed and was miraculously healed during his flight to Libya, regaining his ability to walk. He is still alive today.

BP and the UK have yet to fully collect on their bargain, and you can bet some of them are biting their nails to see their back room deal in such peril of falling through with Gadhafi on the brink of being deposed.

The other European country currently gnashing its nails is Italy. While Holmes would dearly love to never, ever drive in Rome or Milan again, lots of folks in Rome and Milan feel differently about that, and they want their oil.

Since WWII, Italy has gotten approximately 70% of its petroleum products from Libya. Also, a natural gas line, the Greenstream Pipeline, that was completed in October 2004 runs straight from Wafa, Libya, to Gela, Sicily. Italy’s energy company, ENI, says Italians only get 10% of their gas from this line, but some sources believe Italy’s current dependence on Greenstream may be as high as 20%. On February 22, the Greenstream Pipeline was temporarily suspended.

From the Libyan perspective, Italy is the biggest importer of Libyan gas, taking 38% of the Libyan gas pie. Germany is also a big player, getting a 19% slice. In fact, Gadhafi’s current worries could be the one thing that finally gets Berlusconi in bed with Angela Merkel, something he has craved for years.

As an aside, this does explain a lot about Berlusconi’s infamous sex life. Having spent more than one unpleasant night in bed with Gadhafi, we can understand his urgent need sleep with beautiful young women to erase that traumatic, prison-like memory. But be sure he’s not holding one of his famous bunga bunga parties over this Libyan situation.

So again, here’s our question for you. What becomes of souls traded to the devil when the devil joins the unemployment line? Anyone have any experience with corporate soul purchases?

All the best to all of you for valuing your souls.