Consider Crying for Argentina

By Jay Holmes

This evening I treated myself to a theatre performance, or at least to the recording of a theatre performance. On March 1, 2014, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner addressed the 132nd National Congress of Argentina. I was forwarded a recording of the speech, but had not taken the time to enjoy the nearly three-hour impromptu performance until last night. Former First Lady of Argentina Evita Perón was great at those well-rehearsed, seemingly “impromptu” addresses. Dream though she may, Cristina is no Evita.

 

Image by Presidency of the Nation of Argentina wikimedia commons

Image by Presidency of the Nation of Argentina
wikimedia commons

 

The result was nearly three hours of speech with very little new or meaningful information. Cristina sees herself as a victim of dark conspiracies by the world’s wealthy movers and shakers. While I am no fan of the new age economic potentates, it’s not the job of the Argentine National government to whine about them. Their job is to develop effective policies to help the troubled economy of Argentina.

Cristina promised more cooperation with opposition parties, but she has yet to actually foster political cooperation in Argentina. In that sense, her speech was not altogether dissimilar to political speeches in any democratic nation.

In a theme that is gaining voice in the U.S. and some parts of Europe, Cristina claims the shale oil/gas development, known as “fracking,” will bring an economic boom to Argentina. In the U.S., the opponents of fracking like to hoist “No Fracking” signs at protests. What would it be in Argentina? Perhaps it would be something along the lines of “No Me Fraques.” It has a nice ring to it. Perhaps the more militant placards would read something like “Fraca Tu Madre.” I can’t wait.

According to Cristina, Argentina is enjoying its greatest economic growth since the Gauchos first set out to tame the Pampas. She doesn’t explain how chronically high unemployment and inflation that may be as high as 40% fits into this picture of economic Nirvana.  To many observers, the growing slums around Buenos Aires paint an altogether different portrait of Argentina’s economy.

While Cristina is only partly to blame for Argentina’s current economic crisis, she can shoulder the blame for the current failed policies that have hurt Argentina. Nationalizing the Argentine airlines and oil companies has left foreign investors unwilling to help modernize the Argentine energy sector or invest in their economy. The traditionally strong agricultural sector has grown stagnant, and in spite of food shortages around the globe, Argentina is no longer enjoying the agricultural export profits that it once took for granted.

Cristina increased taxes on rural agricultural Argentinians and indirectly instituted price controls on agricultural products. The result has been food shortages, which is bizarre because Argentina is traditionally a food-exporting nation. Held up as national heroes in the past, Cristina is now using agricultural populations as scapegoats for this problem. That sort of adversarial relationship with Argentina’s farmers and ranchers plays well in most of Buenos Aires, but it only exacerbates the decreased productivity, and in the end it hurts the poorest urban dwellers the most.

 

Wiki Falkland Islands Argentine Air Force public domain

April 2, 2014, was the 32nd anniversary of the ill-conceived Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands by a military junta that wanted desperately to distract the Argentine public from their troubles at home. Subsequent governments have marked the occasion with a more somber form of patriotism that focused on remembering the loss of life that resulted from that failed invasion. This 2nd of April, the celebration included Cristina’s introduction of a new 50 Peso note that sports a map of the Falklands, or Las Malvinas as they are called in Argentina. The Beijing government, which recently employed similar propaganda methods concerning their expansionist aspirations in the Pacific, might be wondering if they’ll get a royalty for having their idea copied. I would tell them not to bother sending a bill. Most international bills arriving at the desk of the Argentine Treasury have been ignored of late.

One of the thrilling highlights of this particular three hour Evita sequel (sans music) was Cristina’s explanation to a fascinated audience that the Falklands are used by the U.K. for all of their electronic espionage against the southern hemisphere. Apparently, Cristina has not yet heard about that marvelous new invention that we call “the satellite.” You’ll be surprised to know that the Falklands are not just a southern headquarters of British intelligence systems, but that they in fact house ICBMs for use against South America. I’m not making this up folks. Translations of her speeches are available to any member of the public that wishes to endure nearly three hours of bad theatre.

So what do Evita 2.0’s recent theatrical extravaganzas mean? Anything? The answer depends on who you ask. I will offer you my best guesses.

The U.K. Ministry Of Defense has not further reinforced the Falklands in response to Cristina’s performances. That’s because they don’t take her very seriously. The Argentine military has languished since the Falklands War. Cristina has not delivered on her many promises to the Argentine military of new and improved bases or a major expansion of the Argentine Air Force. The U.K., on the other hand, has taken the precaution of installing a modern air defense system in the Falklands and has four modern warplanes stationed there. And no, there are no atomic weapons on the Falklands.  Well, you say, certainly she would have rebuilt the Argentine fleet by now. No. She is patiently waiting to commission two modern carriers that are being built. Even though the U.K. Royal Navy currently has no carriers either, Argentina is still at a disadvantage. In all, whatever Falklands invasion Cristina Fernandez pretends to dream of won’t become a reality in the near future.

As for Cristina’s “all new, more whitening power, economic detergent,” don’t expect much change. While some critics of the Fernandez Kirchner Theatre Company are willing to compare Argentina to Venezuela, I don’t see them slipping that far. Cristina and her supporting cast can no longer count on automatic middle class support for radical economic reforms. She’s all but run her course. As well as I can guess, Argentina is unlikely to improve much in the near future, but it’s not likely to get much worse at this point. The socialist sky is not quite falling in Buenos Aires.

 

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner image by Agencia Brasil, wikimedia commons

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
image by Agencia Brasil, wikimedia commons

 

Enjoy the theatre season.

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Bayard & Holmes

Consider Crying for Argentina

James Bond vs. The Spook

By Piper Bayard

You could say I work with Bond. James Bond. The real one. But that wouldn’t be quite right. I work with a spook.

 

Please don’t ask me how a small town author/belly dancer/recovering attorney grew up to be the writing partner of a seasoned covert operative, because that is a story I can never tell. But I can tell you this . . . It’s nothing like fiction.

 

His name is Holmes. Jay Holmes. And unlike James Bond, that’s not his real name. That’s because when covert operatives reveal their identities – even decades after they are out of deep cover – people can die. Assets and loved ones alike can become targets. So when a celebrity author shows up in an “I’m a Spook” T-shirt flaunting a “covert” career, it’s a dead giveaway that though she may have done some great and necessary work with an intelligence agency, she has never been a covert operative in the field. Covert operatives must forever keep a Chinese wall around their true identities.

 

Not Holmes. Holmes avoids suits wherever possible.

Not Holmes. Holmes avoids suits wherever possible. 

 

So what’s this real covert spook writing partner of mine like? First off, Holmes and his ilk are “spooks,” not spies. As Holmes says, “Spying is seamy. It’s what the Russians do.”

 

Spooks refer to each other lightheartedly as “spooks.” That’s also what military personnel call them when military and intelligence operations overlap. For example, if an intelligence team is working in a secured area of a ship, the crew refers to them as “the spooks.”

 

There is no official Dictionary of Spook Terminology, but the proper terms for spooks are “intelligence operatives” and “intelligence agents.” By habit, “operative” is used by CIA personnel when they are talking among themselves or reviewing an operation, and “agent” refers to someone – usually a foreigner – who is collecting information in a foreign country. Intelligence personnel are the “operatives” who are managing the foreign “agents.”

 

And all of those wild car chases that happen in books and movies? Sure. They happen now and then in real life. Holmes has personally driven down the Spanish Steps and gone the wrong way up a narrow one-way street to get his man. But what you almost never see in fiction is that spooks wear seatbelts. Religiously. “Because you can’t finish the mission if you’re dead.”

 

There are also many things fictional spooks do that real spooks never do—or at least few live to tell if they do. How many times in fiction does a spook duck into a doorway and peek out of it to spy on someone he’s following? That’s a good way to get dead in real life.

 

One of the first things spooks must learn about following people is to not be followed themselves. It’s common for bad guys to have their own people tailing them to pick up any newcomers, so spooks can’t only focus on who’s in front of them. They have to be acutely aware of who is behind them, too. That means that if a spook wants to watch someone from a doorway, she has to take her eyes off the target, go all the way inside a building, and only turn around once she’s out of sight of the street. Then she can come back out and stop in the doorway under some other pretense than watching someone. It also gives her the chance to handle the bad guy’s trailing entourage.

 

Another thing fiction almost invariably gets wrong is the spook’s relationship to room service. How many times has Bond ordered room service? And how has that worked out for him? You’d think he would have learned after Rosa Klebb’s stunt in From Russia with Love that this is a seriously bad idea. Even the spooks in the otherwise realistic movie Act of Valor ordered take out and paid the price.

 

This isn’t only because of the opportunity for an enemy to poison them, it’s also because it’s generally bad juju for spooks to invite strangers into their space when they are on a mission. In fact, Holmes won’t even have a pizza delivered to his home. The only food he actually enjoys is his own, his wife’s, or mine if it includes chocolate, and only then if he is eating at home or at the home of a trusted friend.

 

So back to my original question – what’s this real life spook like? Unlike fiction, Holmes is incredibly mundane. While he has an incredibly charming boyish smile, he doesn’t look a thing like James Bond, Jason Bourne, or Jack Reacher. In fact, real spooks come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities. When they aren’t on a job, they might be working as Wal-Mart managers, secretaries, teachers, insurance salesmen, or corporate CEOs. And their days at home can look like anyone else’s, filled with gardening, grocery shopping, cleaning, and following behind their children turning off lights. Holmes would say that spooks are ordinary people with a bit more than average commitment and dedication to their work.

 

More like Holmes. Never too good for the dirty work.

More like Holmes. Never too good for the dirty work.

 

Notice I said that Holmes would say that. He strongly objects to the notion that he and other covert operatives are special in any way. However, speaking as a small town author/belly dancer/recovering attorney with a home in “normalville” and a window into the shadow world, I would suggest that from most people’s perspective, there is one thing fiction definitely gets right. These folks are anything but ordinary.

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James Bond vs. The Spook

Cowardly French? Not at the Battle of Verdun!

By Jay Holmes

France has the reputation for being highly uncooperative in the Western community, which has led to the American and European habit of describing the French as being cowardly—a “nation of whores and waiters.” Every nation has whores. Fortunately, every nation also has waiters. And every nation has its cowards, but history indicates that in spite of France’s popular reputation, France’s military has been no less courageous than that of any other nation.

One event in particular that stands out as an example of French courage and as a defining force in the French political psyche is the Battle of Verdun. Like Guadalcanal, Gettysburg, Austerlitz, and Stalingrad, few people outside of Verdun’s immediate neighbors knew about the town or cared about it until a major battle was fought there. In 1916, the word “Verdun” took on a new meaning in France and to the Allied Powers and the Central Powers.

On Ne Passe Pas! "They shall not pass!" Poster by Maurice Neumont, public domain

On Ne Passe Pas!
“They shall not pass!”
Poster by Maurice Neumont, public domain

By early 1916, Europe and the European colonies had been involved with a particularly bloody war for nearly two years. France, Germany, and their allies had suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties on the “Western Front.” Given the largely effective naval blockade of the Central Powers, the German war economy was beginning to suffer, and German leaders knew that the long-range prospect of a German victory was dwindling. Without a rapid victory, the effective balance of forces on the Western Front would shift against Germany.

In an effort to secure that victory, German General Erich von Falkenhayn employed a method that Alexander the Great used frequently with great success in the fourth century B.C. Alexander had learned that enemies often least expect an attack at the strongest point of their fortifications, and that if he quickly concentrated his forces at that point, then he could destroy the center of his enemy’s defensive position and the bulk of its forces while it attempted to maneuver into a counterattack or regain defensive positions.

This method works as long as the attacking army has well trained, disciplined forces that can concentrate their firepower, and its leaders at all levels understand the tactics and are prepared to execute follow-up movement after obtaining the breach in the enemy line. General von Falkenhayn’s situation at the Battle at Verdun met those requirements.

In military terms, the area around Verdun constituted the last high ground between the attacking German army and the city of Paris. Von Falkenhayn counted on the French being unable to reinforce against the German advance. He planned that his army would capture the heights around Verdun and march through the grape fields of Champagne to trample Paris along with the grapes. My assumption is that von Falkenhayn and the German government thought that at some point prior to the German army arriving in Paris, France and the UK would agree to peace terms that were favorable to Germany. Germany could then concentrate its efforts in the east against the faltering Russian army and effect a sizeable real estate acquisition in Eastern Europe. While the long-range hopes of the German leadership concerning the attack on Verdun cannot be determined with certainty, it is safe to say they viewed the Battle of Verdun as vital to German victory.

In the winter of 1916, Verdun’s defensive works were depleted. Most of the mobile artillery that was crucial to its defense had been moved to more active sectors of the front, and the French forces in garrison in the area were too few to deal with a major assault. To the Germans, it seemed that von Falkenhayn’s application of Alexander’s favorite tactic would once more prove effective.

Fortunately for the French, their intelligence services succeeded in detecting the German buildup and discovered that the Germans intended to launch a major assault against Verdun. Due to bad weather and good French intelligence analysis, the French were able to move two additional full divisions to Verdun prior to the assault, but the Germans still enjoyed a two-to-one advantage in forces.

Map public domain, wikimedia commons

Map public domain, wikimedia commons

As a rule of thumb, military planners consider a three-to-one ratio to be optimal for a force attacking prepared defenses. While the Germans realized that they now lacked that preferred ratio, they remained confident because they had a five-to-one advantage in artillery. If we also examine the throw weight/hour and the ranges of the artillery pieces on both sides, it looks more like a twenty-to-one advantage for the Germans.

The Germans were also confident because they already held the land on three sides of the Verdun area. They assumed, quite reasonably, that since they had a major high capacity rail line running to within 20 km of the battle front, and the French had only one narrow road and a low capacity narrow gauge rail line supplying Verdun, that the French would not be able to move ammunition and food to Verdun fast enough to support a battle there. On the map table of the German headquarters, it all looked perfect. From the French side, it had to look like an impending disaster.

At 0715 hours on February 21, 1916, the well-planned German attack started with the world’s first “shock and awe” display. On a scale never seen before, the Germans conducted a massive artillery bombardment against the French defenders. It was heard up to a hundred miles away.

Most of the French soldiers in their defensive trenches were wiped out, and telegraph lines were cut. The massive artillery bombardment was followed up with attacks by specially trained German shock troops equipped with hand grenades and, for the first time, flamethrowers for clearing any enclosed French positions. The Germans quickly gained ground. For the most part, no Frenchmen were alive to defend the ground that the Germans were capturing. The situation was close to desperate for the French.

French reserves crossing a river on the way to Verdun image public domain, wikimedia commons

French reserves crossing a river on the way to Verdun
image public domain, wikimedia commons

Then something interesting happened. Rather than run out of supplies and fall back in retreat as the Germans expected, the French pulled off a near logistical miracle. In spite of the dire conditions and the frequent storms of German artillery shells, they kept supplies and men moving forward. That small, solitary French road leading up to Verdun was filled with supplies and soldiers pushing forward against the flow of wounded Frenchmen being moved to hospitals.

If we try to understand the mindset of the French soldiers that were first sent to reinforce Verdun, it’s difficult to justify thinking of them as cowardly. They had a long walk toward the roaring artillery bombardment of the town on a narrow road jammed with wounded soldiers returning from hell on earth. That previously insignificant road would become known as La Voie Sacrée, the Sacred Path. If those first French troops at Verdun cannot be called cowards, what would we call the men in the last troop of reinforcements? They started up that road knowing that their chances of escaping death or serious injury were less than forty percent. Yet with that knowledge, they marched up that road to face the Germans.

The battle raged until December 16, 1916, and 362,000 French soldiers as well as 332,000 German soldiers died. Depending on how we evaluate injuries, each side also suffered around an additional 100,000 to 200,000 badly wounded soldiers. There were isolated incidents of French and German soldiers refusing to execute suicidal frontal attacks against each other’s positions during the battle, but these were exhausted, malnourished, sleepless men who had suffered long artillery bombardments day after day for weeks on end.

Verdun 1916 French 87th Regiment Cote 304 image public domain, wikimedia commons

Verdun 1916
French 87th Regiment Cote 304
image public domain, wikimedia commons

After December of 1916, both sides waged successive attacks and counter attacks until the end of the Great War. That War was indeed “great” in scale, but it was horrific in nature, and the French held their own. Even those few that suffered mental collapse cannot fairly be called cowards.

Given the independent character of Westerners, the French and their fellow Westerners will likely continue hurling insults back and forth. It’s something of an amusement to all who participate. We can keep telling those jokes about the lack of French military courage, but if any of us is ever tempted to believe those jokes, we should remember one simple word that more than any other word disproves the theory of French cowardice.

Verdun.

Mémorial de la Voie Sacrée, Maison Brûlé image by Gérald Garitan, wikimedia commons

Mémorial de la Voie Sacrée, Maison Brûlé
image by Gérald Garitan, wikimedia commons

To join in comments, come to

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Cowardly French? Not at the Battle of Verdun!

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Surround Sound Coffins

I’m thinking the Swedes have a lot of time on their hands during those long winter nights.

No Rest for the Dead with Surround Sound Coffins

Coffin Robert Lawton wikimedia

image by Robert Lawton, wikimedia commons

For the full story, click on the title above.

My thanks to funny lady Leanne Shirtliffe for this tip. I recommend her new book, Don’t Lick the Minivan, at her site at Leanne Shirtliffe ~ Ironic Mom.

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

We have a bold move to make us smile. This man wanted a job on Wall Street. His qualifications? ” . . . I have no unbelievably special skills . . . ” But he does have moxy. Cover Letter from Average Joe Earns Praise on Wall Street

And then there are those who just want the paycheck and aren’t interested in working. Via best selling author Larry Enright, the Story of a Man Who Outsourced his Work to China so He Could Watch Cat Videos All Day. You can find Larry’s outstanding books at Larry Enright.

Grumpy Cat Stupid Alternative

From top literary agent, Chip MacGregor, How Reading Shakespeare and Wordsworth Offer Better Therapy than Self-Help Books.

An eloquent reminder that being physically present with our children is not the same as being present with our children. How to Miss a Childhood by Hands Free Mama.

Once again, soon-to-be best selling author Susan Spann freely shares her publishing attorney expertise at Chiseled in Rock. More Than You Bargained For: Contracts Up Close & Personal

A voice from the past. 100-Year-Old Photos Found in Antique Camera

For twelve years now, people have been simultaneously taking off their pants to ride the subway. The No Pants Subway Ride started by Improv Everywhere now has participants as far away as Mexico City and Stockholm. This is their video of the 2013 event in New York City.

As you can see, I learned how to frame questions from all of those damn political fliers that won’t stop showing up in my mailbox.

All the best to all of you for a week of pleasant music.

Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

The Next Big Thing

By Piper Bayard

We usually avoid writing about writing on our blog, but it’s time for an update. Big things are happening for Holmes and I this year. Not only are we now featured bloggers at the Social N Network*, but we have been picked up by Stonehouse Ink Publishing. The first book due out is one of mine, SEEDS, a dystopian sci-fi that will be released this spring. Look for our Bayard & Holmes spy thriller, APEX PREDATOR, later this year.

When I mentioned our progress to our great friend and International Best Selling Author Vicki Hinze, Vicki immediately invited me to participate in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

A Blog Hop is a way for readers to discover new authors. On this stop, I’ll tell you a bit about SEEDS by answering ten set questions, and then I’ll link you to other authors who answer the same questions.

My gratitude to Vicki Hinze for inviting me to participate in this event.  You can click the following links to learn more about Vicki and her books.

Website:  Vicki Hinze

Buy her books: http://www.amazon.com/Vicki-Hinze/e/B000AQ48S4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

The Next Big Thing

1: What is the working title of your book?

SEEDS

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

The story I like to tell is how I was SCUBA diving one day when a handsome merman with a striking resemblance to Hugh Jackman gave me a magic abalone shell with the word “destiny” engraved on it. I asked him if he’d like to have dinner with me. You know. As friends. I mean, my husband wouldn’t mind. Not too much. Hugh Jackman Merman declined with some tale about needing to sort his mer-socks. So I surfaced and opened the shell. Inside were the words “apocalypse,” “famine,” and “prophet.” Then, I fell into a magical sleep and woke up with the book fully formed in my mind. . . . That’s the story I like to tell.

The truth is that I haven’t got a clue. I wake up at 4 a.m. with this stuff in my head and write it down. I don’t make it up. It moves through me.

Hugh Jackman US Navy wikimedia

Hugh Jackman Merman, image from US Navy

3: What genre does your book come under?

SEEDS is a dystopian sci-fi thriller.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My dearest hope is that one day Kristen Stewart will star . . . Just kidding. Really.

The main character, Archer, I envision as something of a Kiera Knightley. Her love interest, Quinn, could be played by Ian Somerhaulder, Chris Pine, Liam Hemsworth, or Hugh Jackman Merman. I’m not picky.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a post-apocalyptic world where hunger is a weapon, a huntress must befriend her worst enemy to overthrow a theocratic dictator before he exterminates her people.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

SEEDS will be traditionally published by indie publisher, Stonehouse Ink. I didn’t put much effort into finding an agent, but Holmes and I do work closely with our publishing attorney and fellow author, Susan Spann.

Stonehouse Ink Logo

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

All my life. But for the purposes of this question, four months.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Parts of SEEDS have an unfortunate resemblance to THE HUNGER GAMES, which I never even heard of before writing my first draft. Apparently, almost every author who’s been in the business for long has suffered this unjust circumstance so I’m rolling with it. Taking it on the chin. Sucking it up. I don’t mind. Really. *stabs voodoo doll with pin*

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A friend offered me the opportunity to sell life insurance. It made sense and dovetailed nicely with my law degree. Thinking about it, I realized that if I accepted, I would die some day having never written a book. I declined her offer and got busy. So on all of those days when I’d rather watch the dog catch flies than work, I remember that I could be selling insurance and I clock in at the WIP.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

SEEDS, while it does not contain a Hugh Jackman Merman, is a story with many levels that can alter with every read. It can be a light action thriller, a future world escape, or an experience of the limitless change that is possible in one seemingly isolated act. Every reader will see something different in it.

This is what people are saying about SEEDS.

“With echoes of UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN and HUNGER GAMES, SEEDS is a sprawling adventure ranging across a world racked by post-apocalyptic want, denial, and prophetic dictum. Equal parts heroic quest and morality play, it races forward on a current of deftly woven characters and breakneck action, never failing to deliver what every reader wants—a helluva good story.” ~~ Ryne Douglas Pearson, screenwriter of KNOWING and bestselling author of SIMPLE SIMON and CONFESSIONS

“SEEDS envisions a terrifying and prescient future of a United States lost to the worst extremes.  Piper Bayard’s wonderfully relevant and beautifully realized fantasy tale would make George R.R. Martin proud as it combines the best of CHILDREN OF MEN with Stephen King’s seminal THE STAND. . . . The result is a major debut that is not to be missed.”~~ Jon Land, bestselling author of STRONG AT THE BREAK and BETRAYAL

“Piper Bayard explodes on the scene in SEEDS. Creative. Imaginative. Chilling and reassuring. A captivating tale well told.”~~ Vicki Hinze, bestselling author of DUPLICITY

These are the other authors on today’s Hop:

1.  Kathy Carmichael

2.  Kimberly Lyllewellyn

3.  Buzz Bernard

4.  Kellie Sharpe

Below are the authors who will join the Hop next Wednesday. I hope you will bookmark them and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases.

1.  Ellie Ann

2.  Jen L. Kirchner

3.  K.B. Owen

4.  Kerry Schafer

5.  Susan Spann

What is the Next Big Thing happening for you in 2013?

*The Social N Network is a network of news and events sites in over thirty cities across the US with a collective following upward of 500k. The flagship site is SocialInDC. Lonny Dunn of ProNetworkBuild is the brains and talent behind the business.

SocialIn Logo

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . News Agency Cites “The Onion” as Fact

Fars, the Iranian government-backed news agency, last Friday cited an article from The Onion as fact. The article said most rural Americans prefer Iranian President Ahmadinejad that President Obama. I cracked up when I read this, but then I realized there might be some truth in it if the rural Americans in question don’t understand Farsi and don’t allow translators. Particularly during election season. . . The worst part? Some of those at Fars still believe the story even after they found out The Onion is a satirical paper.

image aljazeera.com

Read the full story here. Iran Apologizes for Citing Onion Spoof Obama Poll as Fact

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

New York Times Best Selling Author and Heckuva Guy James Rollins has a great new series about Apocalypse called Know it Now! Many sources predict the end of the world in just a few months. James Rollins looks at the possibilities for how that could happen and what we can do about it in a 12-week series that investigates different forms of Apocalypse. You can subscribe to these free videos at his blog, Know it Now! Introduction – Can We Predict the Future? Episode 1.

“Criminal Minds” should hire Catie Rhodes to help with their story lines. She finds the the creepiest facts. Early American Serial Killers: Jesse Pomeroy

By International Best Selling Author and Graceful Lady Vicki Hinze, What is Reversal in Fiction Writing?  Check out her latest romantic suspense, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, the first of the much-anticipated LOST, INC. series.

Tiffany A. White and Amber West are the two women I count on for my entertainment news now that there’s no TV guide in the Sunday paper.  Tiffany gives us a run down on the series premieres of October in New October Drama, and Amber gives us a peek at Lucy Liu’s modern day Sherlock Holmes series, Elementary, in Elementary, My Dear Watson.

Number One Amazon Bestselling Author Aaron Patterson directed me to this article, Average Price of E-Book Best Seller Rises Nearly $2 in Four Weeks.

Bad Police Sketches: a Photo Gallery

Reader Empathy: Catch It & Keep It with Guest Angela Ackerman. Angela also co-authored The Emotion Thesaurus, a MUST for every fiction writer. It belongs on the bookshelf right beside your Strunk & White.

Just in case you should need this one today, How to Escape from a Black Hole: Scientists Study Energy Jets.

My gift to my writing partner, Jay Holmes, along with all of you other guys who read this. “Miss Bum Bum” Pageant Seeks Brazil’s Best Butt

The 25 Funniest Tweets about the Debate

And an important health message for gamers from one of my all-time favorites, Nathan Fillion of Castle and Firefly fame.

Campaign Style Poll Daddy:

All the best to all of you for knowing satire from truth.

Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . Vegetable Psychologist Sets Up Practice in UK

Happy vegetables just taste better.

I’m thinking this means the stars of veggie tales would make one heck of a great tasting salad.

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

This came to me via Heather Konik. Want to ‘Do Something Different’ this Summer? Check Out ‘Drive a Tank’

Best Selling Author Kristen Lamb shares her editorial smarts in 4 Writing Crutches that Insult the Reader’s Intelligence

Nigel Blackwell reminds us of the freedoms we enjoy here in America in this fun and interesting post. Pigs, Pants, and Bent Bananas

NOAA Issues a Statement Denying Existence of Mermaids. Your tax dollars at work!

A Mermaid by John William Waterhouse

Skater Boys and Billy Purgatory. Ellie Ann always finds the coolest books.

Is Your Personality YOU? Pop by Amber West’s and take a quiz that’s all about you.

Kids think they’ve got the corner on text abbreviations. Clearly, they don’t know Donna Newton. Texting for Adults

Two of my favorites together. Tiffany A. White guest posts for P.W. Creighton. Intriguing Observations: Using Television to Benefit our Fiction Writing

Jillian Dodd dedicated her fun blog to Magic Mike last week, a male stripper version of Showgirls. Called to mind for me the original, hysterical Magic Mike from Saturday Night Live with Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley.

All the best to all of you for a week of happy salads.

Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . Squeez Bacon in a Bottle

My editor/mentor/friend and Best Selling Author Kristen Lamb started a trend this week of giving me +K on Klout about Bacon. Several others followed suit, and this week’s End is Near is my expression of gratitude. Thank you for associating me with the choice gastronomic delight of Mt. Olympus. :)

So many uses, so little time. *deep sigh* I’m betting this will be a post-apocalyptic staple along with Twinkies and Spam.

Announcements, Blogs, and Articles in No Particular Order

Speaking of bacon, the awesome Prince of Prose and Porcine Delights, Ryne Douglas Pearson, now has his books Confessions and All for One available in audio. Also, watch for his new release, Cop Killer, later this summer.

New York Times Best Selling Author and Heckuva Guy James Rollins released his latest Sigma Force novel, Bloodline, this week. In it, war dog Kane and his handler join the Sigma Force team. Watch for an interview with this outstanding author  here with Bayard & Holmes on Monday, and click on this link for James Rollins’ Bloodline Tour Dates. Don’t be shy. Stop in and say hello. He’s a very nice man.

Jenny Hansen hosts Kasey Matthews, author of Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life, and Motherhood. Inside the Life of a Preemie Parent

As my son says, “When life gives you lemons, say ‘screw this’ and go get a steak.” Susie Lindau knows where to find her steak where the weather is concerned. I Am So Hot! and Dancing for Rain! A Colorado Wildfire Photo Essay

My friend and high school classmate Bob Farkas sent me this spoof on espionage which isn’t entirely a spoof. Tradecraft at The Covert Comic, by John Alejandro King.

Great advice for writers who are experiencing ‘white out’ from International Best Selling Author and Graceful Lady Vicki Hinze. White Out–When Writers Blank Out on the Page

The funny and clever zombie advocate, Shantnu Tiwari, reports that Zombies Demand Equal Pay and Rights.

Facebook’s New ‘Find Friends Nearby’ Feature: Creepy or Clever?

I found this kind of cool. Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman created this giant Rubber Duck that measures nearly 12 meters high as part of his Rubber Duck Project in 2009. Since then Hofman has taken the Duck around the world to float it down rivers and other major international water-ways. No doubt it baffles people, but I’m guessing it brings on lots of smiles.

As Hofman says, “The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn’t discriminate (against) people and doesn’t have a political connotation.” It just makes people smile. This video was taken in Osaka, Japan where rubber ducks are apparently quite proliferous.

Okay, fess up. Will you be trying the Squeez Bacon? 

All the best to all of you for a week of simple smiles.

Piper Bayard

Things I Learned on Vancouver Island

By Piper Bayard

That’s it. I’m in love with Canada. Genuinely a land of Northern efficiency and Southern hospitality.

We spent most of the past two weeks on Vancouver Island, in Victoria and on the shore outside of Sooke. The full moon reflecting off the Strait of Juan de Fuca was worth the trip in itself. The best of both civilization and the wild in a land where vast tracts of mountain forest drop straight down to the sea.

I learned many things in this place where earth, sky and water converge.

This calls for a list.

Things I Learned on Vancouver Island

  1. It takes approximately 39 hours for Americans to add “eh” to their vocabularies.
  2. Poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curds) is a food group.
  3. Residents of the Vancouver Island coast have driveways so steep you could use them to teach raccoons to climb trees.
  4. The ocean can transform from surreally perfect glass to “Oh, hell! How’d I end up on Deadliest Catch?” in approximately 30 minutes.
  5. The waves of an incoming tide will mesmerize you like online games and, like online games, can leave you wondering where you put the last five hours of your life.
  6. Seeing a killer whale up close in the wild is worth every bit of the sandblasting rain you endure to get to it.
  7. A fifteen pound halibut can win two throws out of three against a six foot woman.
  8. Snorkeling in Victoria Harbor is an excellent argument for snorkeling in the Caribbean.
  9. The friendly common greeting and farewell of Canadian island children is to moon arriving and departing guests as the ferry passes.
  10. Canadians do not consider it friendly for ferry passengers to moon the children in return.
Overall, it was a pocket of time with my family so precious that a part of me will always live there. Click on the tab Vancouver Island 2012 above for a few of my favorite photos. And yes. It was overcast most of the time, but that didn’t bother this desert refugee one bit.

Have you ever been to The Great White North? What fun and interesting things have you learned in your travels?

I’m happy to say that HOLMES IS BACK! We will be publishing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while we work on our spy thriller, Blood Truffles, so keep an eye out for more current events, history, and side-stitching sarcasm.

All the best to all of you for a week of beautiful moons.