UPDATE HISTORY
2012 - Part 2 
(May 1, 2012 - August 31, 2012)
A log of comments and changes made to the main pages.
www.anthraxinvestigation.com

Updates & Changes: Sunday, August 26, 2012, thru Friday, August 31, 2012

August 30, 2012 - I've been working on the "final" version of my new book, creating .pdf files for the printer.  I just finished Chapter 18, so I'm going to take a brief break and write a comment about one of the emails I received from "Anonymous" today.  Here it is in its entirety:

Subject: why do you speculate when a simple email would be the relevant evidence?
For example, Ed, you speculate that Tom Walker used a fake name in discussing the Tylenol murders.

Why would you engage in such speculation when Tom could address it in response to your question?

And do you really not know how to ascertain the IP of where an email originated?
I stopped responding to emails from "Anonymous" years ago, and I'm also blocking most of his post attempts to my blog.  But, that email might be worth commenting upon - just to take a break from working on the book.

Why did I speculate on whether or not Tom Walker sent the emails signed by "Jay" that I mentioned in my August 28 comment?  Answer: Because it wasn't a matter worth anything beyond "speculation."  I was just mildly curious, so I checked and found all I needed to know.  I didn't really need to know if the emails were from Walker.  I just needed to find the emails to see if I remembered them correctly.  I did.

Should I have contacted Walker to ask him if he wrote the emails with the silly logic arguing that the Tylenol killer could also be the anthrax killer?   What for?  It's not important.  Should I also contact Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan to ask him if he's as big an idiot as I think he is?  I don't think so.  There is no need to bother busy people just to get answers to quench my curiosity.  It doesn't really matter one way or the other.  I bother people only when I have a question I consider to be important.

Lastly: Yes, I know how to "ascertain" the IP address of where an email originated.  However, the emails from "Jay" came from [redacted]@gmail.com, and the IP address in the email is 209.85.217.207.  When you look that up, you merely find that the range of IP addresses from 209.85.128.0 to 209.85.255.255 belongs to Google, Inc., at 1600 Ampitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA.

When you use gmail.com or hotmail.com or certain other types of email accounts, the IP address does not identify the location of the sender.  So, I guess the reason I'm writing this comment is just to point that out to "Anonymous."

Break time is over.  Now I can get back to work on Chapter 19.

August 28, 2012 - This morning, I awoke with a pressing need to check out where and when I may have had email contact with Tom Walker, the author of "How Sherlock Holmes Deduced 'Break The Case Clues."  In his book, Walker mentioned exchanging emails with a "Baker Street Irregular" who lives in Racine, Wisconsin, and there are other indications that he could have been writing about me.  

I remembered a discussion years ago where I argued with someone who was finding "evidence" via methods similar to those used in numerology.  So, this morning I did a search for the word "numerology" though all the emails I've exhanged with people since August 1, 2008, when Ivins was identified as the anthrax mailer.  I found an exchange of emails with someone called "Jay" ("Jay" Walker? ) on  June 21, 2009 in which "Jay" tried to make connections between the anthrax attacks and the Tylenol killings.  "Jay" wrote in one lengthy email:

FACT:  the return address was a small town called Franklin Park

FACT:  no one (other than Amerithrax guy) knows why

FACT:  Franklin Park is significant in that it was on two anthrax envelops

FACT:  the distribution location of the laced Tylenol was a small town called Franklin Park

In another lengthy email he wrote:

In both cases, the most peculiar deaths surround women that died in closely named New York City suburbs.  In the Tylenol case, Diane Elsroth died in the last attack (1986) when she fell ill at her boyfriend’s Yonkers home.  However, she recently bought the Tylenol at a Bronxville grocery store…the laced Tylenol’s destination.  In an unexplainable and confusing event, Kathy Nguyen died of anthrax falling ill at her apartment in the Bronx.  Obviously, the Bronx and Bronxville are pretty similar names but more interesting is that they are less than 10 miles apart.  Therefore, both of the biggest bio-murder events ever in this country peaked at the Bronx and Bronxville – a few miles from one another.
 
And in another lengthy email he wrote:

At least eight deaths in 1982, not seven, are linked to cyanide laced Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules. In every case, the Tylenol had been processed at the same manufacturing and wholesaling facility in Franklin Park, IL.

Franklin Park, Illinois is a small village located 20 miles east of Chicago.  It has less than 20,000 residents.

Two towns with the exact same name combining for a size of less than 30,000 people both being major focus points of the two biggest bio-related attacks?  That’s quite a coincidence right?  What do you think?  I’d love your take.

My "take" was that it was too much like numerology, and he was searching for ways to connect things in order to verify his theory.  But, those things didn't really connect.  If I had known who "Jay" was, I probably would have been less critical and more tactful in showing that his supposed "connections" were just too vague and seemed meaningless to me.  I should have explained that the Tylenol killings weren't "bio-related."  The lethal Tylenol capsules contained a poison, not a bacterium or virus. 

"Jay" also argued that Kathy Nguyen and Bob Stevens must have been killed by a more sophisticated powder than what was in the media letters that were found - regardless of what my evidence indicated.

Of course, "Jay" might be someone else and not Tom Walker.  But, "Jay's reasoning seems very similar to Walker's.   The Tylenol killings are not part of Walker's book, possibly because investigators had a "suspect," and the "suspect" didn't fit "Jay's" theory.   Either way, this morning's research quelled my curiosity ... for now.

August 27, 2012 - I just received Tom Walker's book.  It's a very slim paperback and very obviously self-published (it has lots of typos and formatting problems).   There are only a few pages in the anthrax chapter that I hadn't previously read on-line, but those pages show what Walker finally concluded:  He concluded (mostly as a result of his complete misunderstanding of the science of the case) that Ivins was framed.   Walker doesn't say who framed Ivins, but the implication seems to be that a scientist in Wisconsin did it.   When I get some time, I'll study the book a bit to see if I can decipher more of Tom Walker's muddled thinking.

On the positive side, the package I received today also included one of the two DVD movies I had ordered at the same time I ordered the book.  The other DVD movie is scheduled to arrive Wednesday.  Both are favorites of mine that I had taped from TV long, long ago.  But, since they're on tape, I haven't watched them in many years.

August 26, 2012 - I've been working on the "final" version of my new book. 
I'm currently working on Chapter 9.  The process involves the following steps:

1.  Reading the WORD (.doc) version of the 6x9 book and making revisions and improvements as necessary, including adding illustrations.

2.  Making the same changes to the manuscript version (if I remember to do it), but not doing any addition of illustrations.

3.  When I finish a chapter, I convert the .doc file to WordPerfect format creating a .wpd file.   I then fix things to make it look right for printing - like removing page headings at the top of the first page of a new chapter and re-hyphenating.

4.  Then I use WordPerfect to convert the .wpd file to a pdf file.

5.  I print out the pdf file version and put it in a binder, replacing the previous .doc version.

6.  I make backup copies of all the files.

Generally speaking, I'm making very few changes.   I find a typo here and there, I occasionally spot a word or phrase that can be improved upon, and I fix it.  The one exception is that I added an additional page or so to the very beginning of Chapter 4 describing and discussing the September 17, 1993 letter Bruce Ivins sent to the Frederick News-Post seemingly supporting pedophilia.  (In the previous version, I only mentioned it in a "note" at the end of the book.)  I think I now see what was on Ivins' mind at the time, and the new material merges nicely with him hiring 19-year-old Mara Linscott to work his lab the following summer. 

I sent out another query letter to a literary agent last Monday (Aug. 20), but I haven't received any responses from anyone all week.  The agent I queried on Monday says that she responds to all queries, but her web site now indicates that she left on vacation on Friday, just after the agency she works for finished moving to new offices.  So, it's fully understandable that she hasn't yet responded.

Reading her query letter requirements, I found that she required a writing sample, so I sent her the Introduction and the first three chapters of the book - 42 manuscript pages.

Before sending the query, I re-read those chapters, and I think they are very good.  They really draw the reader in to make him/her want to read more.  And that made me think I should maybe try some publishers directly.  My past experience was that publishers nearly always require about 50 sample pages, and they also usually required that the pages be sent by snail mail.  Plus, they don't typically respond for a couple months or more.  That means that, if I decide to self-publish, a publisher could respond positively after I've signed a contract with a printing company.  But, I figure that will just be a problem I'll have to deal with if or when it happens.

I have a copy of the 2004 edition of Writer's Market.  It has 205 pages of information about many dozens of publishers, and it still has my Post-It notes stuck to it identifying the publishers I queried in January 2004.
  I used those publishers as a starting point, then checked on-line for the latest information about them.  Here are the publishers I marked back then (many have changed their names and web site addresses):

Algora Publishing: They're looking for books that are 200-350 pages in length.  Mine is  about 400 pages.  They seem to publish less than 30 titles per year, and those titles now tend to be in favor of conspiracy theories and alien visitors.

Bantam Dell:  Their web site says they now only accept queries from agents.

Basic Books: Their web site seems to say they only accept queries from agents.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux:  They say:

Unsolicited submissions are accepted at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All submissions must be submitted through the mail—we do not accept electronic submissions, or submissions delivered in person. Please include a cover letter describing your submission, along with the first 50 pages of the manuscript.     

Alfred A. Knopf: They seem to now be part of Random House, which doesn't accept queries except from agents.

Morrow/Avon - HarperCollins: They now only accept queries from agents.

W. W. Norton: They only accept queries from agents.

Penguin Putnam: They say they "normally" only accept queries from agents.

Warner Books:  They're now called "Grand Central Publishing," and they only accept queries from agents.

Secret Publisher:  They accept queries from authors via email!  And they just love true crime books!  I can't name the publisher here because I don't know what kind of vicious and malicious actions a True Believer might try in order to urge the publisher to not even consider publishing my book. 

So, out of those 10 publishers, 7 now only accept queries from agents, 1 seems to be wrong for my book, and the remaining 2 accept queries, 1 via email, 1 via snail mail.

I'll definitely have to send a query to the "secret publisher." Since Farrar, Straus & Giroux also seems like a good possibility for a snail mail query, I'll send them one.  And, if I can find the time, I'll go through Writer's Market to see if there are other publishers I should try.  (On-line searches don't find anything worthwhile if you don't already know what publishers' names to look for.  Lots of familiar publisher names are now subsidiaries of the above companies and have the same rules for queries.)

Last Sunday, I wrote that I was going to start sending out 2 queries a week to agents effective this week.  I changed my mind.  This week, I'll send out only the query to the "secret publisher" and the snail mail query to Farrar, Straus & Giroux.  And, I won't start sending out 2 queries per week to literary agents until after Labor Day week.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, August 19, 2012, thru Saturday, August 25, 2012

August 25, 2012 - FWIW, I just received this email:

Subject: What message is God now sending to the GOP?

http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2012/08/25/

vs.

Was Hurricane Katrina 'God's Wrath' on a Sinful Coast?
 http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,171099,00.html  

Hurricane Katrina as divine retribution:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina_as_divine_retribution

It seems to be a question a lot of people are asking.

August 24, 2012 - While looking at Tom Walker's book on Amazon.com (see my comments for Aug. 21 and 22), I noticed that the publisher is iUniverse.   iUniverse is a company for self-publishing books.  Research shows that Tom Walker has published 6 books over the past 30+ years, and at least 3 of them were self-published via iUniverse.

Additional research found that Wikipedia says iUniverse has a deal with Barnes & Noble whereby B&N offers iUniverse titles on-line and in their book stores.  IUniverse takes care of getting the ISBN number.  And all of the packages at iUniverse include "bookstubs," which I had never heard of before.  It's a way of giving someone (like a book reviewer) a free download of the ebook version of your book.   And, according to a press release, iUniverse is now owned by a real publisher, Penguin Books.  It happened just last month.

What interested me the most was that the basic service at iUniverse seems less expensive than what I paid for a printer to set up my 2005 book.   When self-publishing, there are the basic costs of setting up the printing equipment and then there are the costs per printed copy of the book.   The more copies you order, the cheaper each copy becomes, because the original setup costs are divided by a larger and larger number.  (iDivision, however, charges an extra $5 for every illustration in your book.)

But, perhaps more imporantly, I wouldn't have to worry about storing books or the cost of shipping them.  Their FAQ section seems to indicate that they pay 20% royalties on books they sell and 12% on books sold via Barnes & Noble and other outlets.  And they take 60 to 90 days to get into print.

On the other hand, there is a whole web site devoted to negative comments about iUniverse.  Click HERE.   Click HERE for a video of a guy complaining.  And here's another comment from Wikipedia:

Nevertheless, according to a 2005 Publishers Weekly article, out of the more than 18,000 titles published by iUniverse until 2004, only 83 had sold at least 500 copies and only 14 titles had been sold through physical Barnes & Noble stores.

The link to the Publisher's Weekly article no longer works, but there are other web sites with information HEREHERE and HERE.

There's certainly a lot to think about.  And, I'll definitely have to do a lot more research (including a cost/benefit analysis) before making any decision. 

August 22, 2012 - Yesterday, I mentioned a recent book written by Tom Walker, a former NYC police captain.  The book contains a 20-page chapter about the anthrax attacks.  And, while it contains that very interesting find which further indicates that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer (see yesterday's comment about the ZIP codes), it also appears that Tom Walker has his own unique theory about who sent the anthrax letters.  On page 86 of his book he wrote:

Conclusion: We are looking for a scientist who lives/works in the Milwaukee/Madison, Wisconsin area and has the necessary capabilities (knowledge, equipment and motive) to send these letters.

I obtained that passage from the pages of the book that are available to read for free on Amazon.com.  I'll have to wait until I receive the actual book I ordered yesterday before I can be certain, but it definitely appears that Walker is another "Anthrax Truther."  

August 21, 2012 - Hmmm.  Anonymous/DXer just brought another recent book to my attention.  This one is titled "How Sherlock Holmes Deduced 'Break the Case Clues' on the BTK Killer, the Son of Sam, Unabomber and Anthrax Cases" by Tom Walker, a former New York City Police Captain.  It looks like I'll have to order a copy, even though it seems to have only one 20-page chapter about the anthrax case.  In that chapter, however, Walker refers to a "Baker Street Irregular" named "Toby" who lives in Racine, WI, and of whom Sherlock Holmes once said, "I would rather have Toby's help than that of the whole detective force in London."

And "Toby" provides a new clue for Walker.  (It's not something I provided to anyone, it's undoubtedly something Walker figured out, but it's very interesting.)

"Toby" first mentions that the ZIP code in the return address on the senate anthrax letters was 08852, which is for Monmouth Junction, NJ, but the name of the town in the return address was Frankin Park, NJ, which has the ZIP code of 08823.  

That much has been known for a long time, but what Walker/"Toby" points out is that 08823 subtracted from 08852 is 29.  And if you convert 2 and 9 to letters of the alphabet, the 2nd letter of the alphabet is B and the 9th is I.  And B.I. are Bruce Ivins' initials.

Was that part of Bruce Ivins' code?  Walker says "The odds on this combination are 100 to 1.  ...  So, whoever wrote this letter was most likely well aware of this proposition.  Certainly, if the FBI had uncovered it, they would have included it in their circumstantial case against Bruce Ivins."

Wow.   My feeling is that it is just a coincidence.  I'm always suspicious of anything that seems like or even smells like numerology.  Monmouth (which Walker misspells as "Mammouth") also has a connection to the KKG sorority and to Ivins' father's ancestors.  And I figured Franklin Park was where Ivins planned to mail the letters.  But, that could be because its ZIP code is the sum of 08823+29.  Coincidence or not, it is a very interesting find, and I'll have to add a comment about it to my new book.     

August 20, 2012 - "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer") is still trying to post to my interactive blog.  I let one post go through because it contained something "new."  He wrote:

You will beat NAS panel member's treatise by one day. The publication date for her book is October 9, 2012. (She was on the NAS panel).

One reason I had set October 8 as my "deadline," was because I assumed that all the activities related to the 11th anniversary of the anthrax attacks would be over.  But, it seems there will may be anthrax-related matters going on.   The book "Anonymous" was referring to is "Local Planning for Terror and Disaster" by Leonard Cole and Nancy D. Connell.  So, it's not really a book about the anthrax attacks, but it evidently mentions the attacks - and how "skeptics, including members of Congress, have called for further inquiries on the matter."    

August 19, 2012 (B) - This it totally off topic, but you can check out the funny, clever and fascinating new NASA satire video by clicking HERE to go to an article about it.

August 19, 2012 (A) - I received no responses from any literary agents last week.  I'm still assuming that's because it's vacation time in New York City.  I plan to send out one more query on Monday, and then I'll shift to two queries per week on August 27.


I'm also setting October 8 as a deadline.  If no agent is reading my book or actively trying to sell it by then, I'll shift into self-publishing mode.  By October 8, I plan to have finished writing the final version of the book, I plan to have the Index completed, and I plan to have everything converted into pdf files.  I'll have obtained cost quotes from printing companies, and I'll have selected which printing company I'll use to print about 300 copies (which I can transport in my car, without the need to rent a truck).  I'll just need a couple days to buy the ISBN (scanner) code for the back cover.  When I get the ISBN code, I can paste it into the cover and convert the cover to Adobe Illustrator format, which printing companies seem to require.  Then I can send a CD containing all the files to the printing company and sign the printing contract.  I should have the finished copies of the book in my hands less than a month after that.

But, of course, I'm still hoping to find a literary agent before October 8 and be on my way to having my book published by a regular publisher.

Currently, I'm still working out the problems with converting my WORD files to WordPerfect files and then into pdf files.   Some of the problems are really frustrating.  It appears that WORD uses hundredths of an inch when setting borders, while WordPerfect uses 10ths of an inch. 
I had set the borders for the pages at three-quarters of an inch (.75 inches).  So, when converting, .75 apparently gets changed to .8 inches.  It is often just enough to cause the last line on a page to be pushed into the next page. 

In addition, I haven't been able to figure out how to control hyphenation in WordPerfect.  Because the page borders change, the hyphenation sometimes changes.  And, in WORD I usually didn't do hyphenation when it meant that there would be two letters on the first line and the rest of the word on the second line (words like re- membered and un- controllable).  WordPerfect seems to do it automatically.  That also has an effect on how many lines fit on a page, which in turn affects where illustrations and subheadings fit.  You can't have a subheading as the last line on a page.

But, the most frustrating problem has been with creating the Table of Contents and the List of Exhibits where t
he chapter name has to be left-justified and the page number has to be right-justified.  My previous drafts simply used blanks between the chapter name and the page number to force right and left justification.  But that doesn't work very well with variable width fonts, and it doesn't work at all when converting to pdf files.  The results look something like this:

       List of Exhibits iv
       Introduction 1
1 -  Ivins the Burglar

2 -  Ivins at USAMRIID
11
3 -  Ivins the Anthrax Expert
20 
4 -  Return of the Mad Scientist
27
5 - Ivins Plans a Murder
38

The page numbers don't fully right-justify.  They look like a wavy line.  The simple solution would be to use a fixed-width font, but that looks very odd.  

In my 2005 book I solved this problem by creating 2 columns.  I then left-justfied the chapter names in the first column and right-justified the page numbers in the second column.   That worked and looked fine for my 2005 book where there were only 24 chapters and everything could fit on one page.  But the Table of Contents for my new book has 45 chapters and runs into two pages.  And the way columns work in WORD (and apparently also in WordPerfect) is the way columns work in a newspaper: Column A on page 1 continues into Column B on page 1 and then shifts to Column A on page 2 and continues into Column B on page 2, like so:
 
Page 1, Column A

When writing in columns for a newspaper your words
Page 1, Column B

will shift to the next column on the same 
Page 2, Column A

page.  When Column B on the first page is filled, you
Page 2, Column B

continue on the next page in Column A.

So, that means if I try to simply add Chapter 6 to the above Table of Contents, it will go into Column B and shift the right-justified page numbers from Page 1 Column B into Page 2 Column A, and I get this result:

       List of Exhibits                                                                   
6 - M
       Introduction otive
1 -  Ivins the Burglar
and  
2 -  Ivins at USAMRIID
Mea
3 -  Ivins the Anthrax Expert
 ns    
4 -  Return of the Mad Scientist
iv
5 - Ivins Plans a Murder
1
              --------------------------------------next page-------------------------------------------
                                                        3
 
11

20
 
27

38
 
44
    

Somehow, I managed to get everything into the right columns for the Table of Contents, but then I had a different problem with the List of Exhibits.  The page numbers changed.  WORD and WordPerfect seem to assume that if you start a new set of columns, you are starting a new "section" and a new section starts using new page numbers.  And adjusting the new starting page number will adjust the previous "section" page number. There's probably a "simple" way around that problem, but I haven't yet found it. 


I think enough time has passed since I wrote the current draft for me to spot typos and take a "fresh" look at the book.  So, when I get the problem with columns and page numbers fixed, I'll start working on the "final" version of the text and implementing my final decision about illustrations.  If I'll be self-publishing, I can't afford to use color illustrations, and I won't be putting nearly all the illustrations on high-gloss paper and sticking them in one place, the way regular publishers do things.   The illustrations will be on regular paper and placed where they help explain the story, i.e., embedded as "Exhibits" in the text and/or at the end of relevant chapters.   It would be far too expensive to use high-gloss paper for the illustrations.   (Regular publishers usually avoid using color illustrations, too, since that adds a significant additional expense.)

Meanwhile, I haven't yet been able to obtain a free copy of the article titled
, "A Legal Analysis of the Search Warrants of the Amerithrax Investigation."  When I posted a message to my email forum asking if anyone could send me a copy, I felt that the article almost certainly argued against the FBI's findings, since parts of the report on another web site showed section "A" of the Conclusion was titled "The National Academy of Sciences Report," and section "B" was titled "Case Closed?"   So, I wrote:

I doubt that it includes anything new, but it seems to be another article which uses an ignorance of the facts as a basis for questioning how the Amerithrax case was handled.

One of the conspiracy theorists on the forum evidently forwarded my email to "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer"), who responded by sending me an email telling me that that I shouldn't even question the article until I've actually read it:

You need to read the books and articles on the subject of Amerithrax and not address the reasoning until you have read them. 

It was the first time I'd heard from "Anonymous/DXer" since I told him on August 11th that  I'd be deleting all further posts from him on my interactive forum.  And, then yesterday, "Anonymous/DXer" apparently tried to play a silly new game.  He knew I couldn't tell who was posting as "Anonymous," so he asked a question on my interactive forum that didn't seem like a question he would ask:

If one is exposed to aerosolized anthrax, do you think that hanging out in the hot, humid air of a sauna might tend to deactivate the anthrax?

I erroneously assumed it wasn't "Anonymous/DXer," and I let the post get displayed.  I politely explained that a sauna doesn't have humid air.  It has dry air.  It's a steam room that has hot, humid air.  I then told him that hanging out in a steam room isn't going to kill spores you've already inhaled.  It would more likely aid the germination of the spores already inside your body.

He then asked a question which made it appear that he was someone concerned about decontaminating parts of a ship:

Would use of steam (at the temperature of a steam room) for a prolonged period be effective to disinfect dried spores on a surface -- such as a ship?

But, it was just a game.  After I politely responded to that question, the next post made it very clear that I was exchanging posts with "Anonymous/Dxer."  He misstated the findings from another new article related to anthrax (or from the abstract).  He had been apparently trying to get me to say something that he could prove to be wrong.

But, all he proved was how devious and pathological he can be.  When he asked the questions, he was wildly distorting what was in the article either through malice or due to a total lack of understanding of science.  And he clearly didn't understand the science he tried to use to dispute what I'd written.

The new article says that exposing anthrax spores for 7 days to a temperature of 170 degrees F and humidity of 90% will kill all the spores effectively.   That's a lot different from "hanging out in the hot, humid air of a sauna" to kill spores you've already inhaled. And it has nothing to do with conditions on any ship.  What it says is that, in addition to sterilizing spores quickly in an autoclave using boiling steam under pressure, you can also kill spores by slow-cooking them. 

So, although I said I would delete all further posts from him on my interactive blog, I let those posts stay, since my answers were correct and his questions were wrong.  And the posts show why I'll need to be more careful in the future when "Anonymous/DXer" tries to play his next devious, pathological game.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, August 12, 2012, thru Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 16, 2012 - Yesterday, someone sent me a link to a blog page about "How to get your book reviewed."  At that link, I found another link to a page titled "How (Not?) to Get Your Book Reviewed" which seemed a lot more informative.  It says:

Book bloggers and other non-professional book sites (i.e. where the reviewers don’t get paid but read and review for love) are your best bets for getting your self-published book reviewed.

It was like stepping into another world I knew nothing about - the world of "book bloggers."  When I did some research, I found other book blogger review-related sites HERE, HERE, and HERE.  And there's a site about professional reviewers HERE.

I'm not yet at the point where I need to think about getting my book reviewed.  And, even if I was at that point, I'm not sure what to think about "book bloggers" and what they might think of a book about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  It would appear that it would be as tricky to find the right reviewer as it is to find the right agent - perhaps even more so.  And, what's the point of getting a "review" if it doesn't help sell books?  Even a bad review in The New York Times will generate sales by making people aware of the book.  But, how are sales generated by a "review" from some amateur book reviewer on some obscure web site on the Internet?  Maybe such sites are extemely popular with book buyers and there are tons of other important facts that I'm totally missing, but for the moment it's not something I'm going to spend any more time thinking about.

Meanwhile, I've been busy trying to figure out what the problem was with book fonts. I did another search through my correspondence with the company that printed my 2005 book, and I found this Feb. 1, 2005 email from me:

I had my book nearly fully typeset when I discovered that there were problems with the fonts when creating .pdf files.  So, I'm creating a new version with different fonts.  I expect to be done with the text this coming weekend.

Before I go too far with this version, I'm wondering if you can tell me if this sample chapter looks okay to you:  [a link to a file that is no longer on my site]

That sample chapter has all the fonts and examples of images.

Since the new primary font (AmeriGarmnd BT 12) is slightly smaller than the one I was using (Garamond 12), the new version is going to be a bit shorter.  It may still be 264 pages, but it's possible it will be only 256 pages.  

And the reply from the printing company said:
You will need to send the fonts with it or convert them to curves. The background image and any other graphics will also need to be included. We can combine the PDF files here, there may be an extra charge (about $50) to do that.
Convert them to curves?  What does that mean?  Whatever it meant, I apparently didn't do it.  I appear to have included the font software on the CD I sent them with the pdf files for the book.  The problem I had appears to have been that the typesetting software I was using at the time didn't have or couldn't use Garamond 12.  At the time, I also didn't know how to combine pdf files, so I paid the $50.   A couple days ago I found that I can now do it with the free copy of CutePDF Editor.  (If you use WORD to combine the Table of Contents with the rest of the book, all the page numbers will be in Roman numerals, just like the Table of Contents.  And the page headings will be the same, too.  Maybe there's a way around this in WORD, but I haven't found it)

In the comment I wrote on the 14th, I thought there was a copyrights problem with the fonts.
  But, it now appears that the only thing copyrighted is the software used to create a font out of bits (0's and 1's) in the computer.  And, I bought the rights to use that software when I bought copies of WORD, WordPerfect, Corel Draw, etc.  I just need to send the font software to the printer on the CD with the pdf file.  I remembered I also have a copy of a book called "The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing."  All it says about fonts is that you should choose the ones that look best.

So, while I still hope that a literary agent will want to try to sell my book to a regular publisher, I've been busy solving problems with self-publishing.  And then I'll start working on the "final draft" where I actually create the pdf files for printing.  The fact that I'll be ready to self-publish won't prevent me from switching gears and letting a literary agent try to sell the book to a regular publisher - if one offers to do so.
 
August 14, 2012 (B) - *^%@^%)&%!!!  While working out at the health club this afternoon, I remembered that I bought a copy of WordPerfect back in 2004 or so, but, for some reason, I've never used it.  Checking it out when I got home, I found it solves all nearly of my pdf file creation problems.
  Setting up the 6x9 book format is simple.  And, it can use my existing WORD documents to create high-quality pdf files, which the CutePDF program apparently cannot.

The only remaining problem I can see has to do with the fonts.  For some reason, I couldn't use the Garamond font when I created the pdf files for my 2005 book, but I can't recall why.  It might have been some copyrights problem.   Chapter 15 from my 2005 book is on-line HERE.  The DOC file used Garamon size-12 for the basics and Times New Roman size-11 for quoted passages.  And I've been using the Garamond font for my new book. But the 2005 pdf file uses the
AmericanGaramondBT-Roman font for some forgotten reason.  I can't find any details about it in my correspondence with the printer.  We must have discussed it on the phone.  There's a web site HERE which says I can download that font for free.  But why do I need to?  What problem does it solve?  It was 7 years ago that I had the problem.  It may have had something to do with embedding, but I vaguely remember a discussion about copyrights.  The printer will tell me when I present the pdf files to him, but I'd like to solve the problem before then.

Of course, if some agent can find a publisher for my book, all these problems go away.   

August 14, 2012 (A) - Yesterday, I sent out another query letter to a literary agent.   There's still been no responses from the other query letters "in the mill."

August 13, 2012 (D) - Hmm.  Another week, another mass shooting.  The latest is near Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.  At the moment, it appears there are "only" 3 dead, including a police officer and a bystander.  Another police officer and a couple bystanders were wounded.  The shooter was the third person killed.

August 13, 2012 (C) - Ah!  Yes, the pdf problem was merely a matter of a setting a "switch."   When I focused on the problem, I learned that in addition to setting up the right page size in CutePDF (which grabs the print image and creates a pdf file instead of printing
the pages), I also need to use the "Scale to paper size" box in WORD, setting it to use the "postscript custom page" option.  That successfully produced a 6x9 pdf file.

August 13, 2012 (B) - Looking at Lew Weinstein's blog this morning, I learned that they had found a new technical paper that could be an interesting read.  It's called, "A Legal Analysis of the Search Warrants of the Amerithrax Investigation."  The abstract says:

One of the nation’s most complex investigations in its history stemmed from the 2001 anthrax attack letters. Filled with dead-ends, false leads, and flustered FBI and Postal Inspection officers trying to grapple with intricate scientific details, the Amerithrax investigation caused many to question the efforts of America's forefront investigative entity. The specialized American bioweapons community remained in a constant state of paranoia from late 2001 to 2008, and over 30,000 members of the American Society for Microbiology received a letter indicating the high probability “that one or more of you know” the anthrax killer. Finally, in 2007 the Amerithrax Task Force named Dr. Bruce Ivins, a civilian bioweapons specialist at the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), who only a few years before helped the officers sort through the complicated task of studying the weaponized anthrax, as the prime suspect. Investigative efforts ratcheted up in fall of 2007 when a series of warrants were issued to search Dr. Ivins’ home, office, and vehicles.Since the ratification of the Fourth Amendment in 1791, the United States has recognized the importance of a system with laws designed to prohibit unfettered investigations by the leaders of our country. This paper analyzes the search warrants utilized in the Dr. Ivins’ investigation and discusses the Fourth Amendment implications. First, a brief review of the state of America in September 2001 is detailed. Next, the paper discusses the facts of the Amerithrax investigation, including the mishap involving Steven Hatfill. Section III explains some Fourth Amendment search warrant basics before getting to the meat of this analysis: the actual search warrants of the Amerithrax investigation.

I doubt that the paper includes anything new about the investigation, but it undoubtedly has a new viewpoint.  I'm not about to pay $42 for a copy.  But, maybe someone who reads this web site is willing to share -- hint hint.

August 13, 2012 (A) - I awoke this morning thinking that I'm just not focusing on the problem I'm having with creating pdf files for a 6x9 book.  I would try something, and if it didn't work, I would go back to my other projects.  If another idea came up, I'd try it, and if it didn't work, I'd go back to working on other projects.  I haven't been analyzing the test results to figure out why the tests didn't work.

The problem may be something as simple as setting a switch at the right point when setting up a "user defined" page size for printing.  Everything looks like it should work, but it doesn't work.  I need to set aside all the other things I have on my mind and focus.  However, that's easier said than done, particularly since I really don't like working on software problems.

Plus, there's an old saying: "If all else fails, READ THE F**KING MANUAL!   I probably should try that, too.

August 12, 2012 (B) - Someone suggested that I download Open Office, which is free, and use their word processor to create the pdf files.  I tried doing that, but I found that it won't work unless I have Internet Explorer 7, and I have Internet Explorer 6.  I'm not sure what's involved in upgrading, but it can't be much.  I'll just need to gather together some ambition to try to find out.  Maybe tomorrow .... or the next day.

August 12, 2012 (A) - I think the reason I haven't received any responses from the agents I queried recently is because it's August in New York, and the agents are either on vacation or most of their contacts and associates are on vacation.  So, I have a feeling it's better for me to just wait for a week or two before I start sending out query letters again.  But, I could change my mind about that at any time. 

I've also been thinking about getting ready to self-publish if I can't find an agent and a publisher.  I still have a problem in not being able to produce the pdf files that a printing company needs to print a book.  I've commented before on how the software I used when I created the pdf files for my previous book stopped working when I my old computer went blooie, and the company that sold me the software has gone out of business.  Creating pdf files is easy, but the version of Microsoft WORD I use is from 2003, and it doesn't have the capability of printing a 6x9 book-size page.  It's not one of the available page size options.  It appears that I'll have to buy the 2010 version of WORD, which supposedly has the capability.  But, it also seems that the 2010 version of WORD is incompatible with my current operating system: Microsoft Windows XP with SP2.   When I try to install the latest version of Windows XP with SP3, my computer crashes.

I could buy Microsoft Windows 7, but I've read that it requires re-installing all the other software I have.   I have no idea what kinds of problems I'm going to run into if I try to re-install software I've had for ten years or more. 

And, I don't want to be in the middle of some major computer problem when some agent says he wants to read my book.

I'm very tempted to buy a laptop and install everything there first.  It would be a backup computer, which I really should have.   I have an old computer in my office, but its software (and hardware) are even more outdated than my current computer.

I looks like I need to make a careful decision before something happens that could force me to make a hasty decision.

Meanwhile, I've been puttering around with ideas for the new web page which would compare 9/11 terrorist Mohamed Atta's handwriting to the handwriting on the anthrax letters even though I don't know if anyone actually believes there is a similarity - other than the person who made the silly graphic on Lew Weinstein's web site.

That graphic gave me an idea for a different way to produce a handwriting comparison.  I took Atta's writing of two words from his visa application and used individual characters from the Brokaw letter and Brokaw envelope to assemble the same words in the anthrax letter writer's handwriting.  Here's the result:

Handwriting Comparions - Atta vs anthrax

But, would a True Believer see how totally different the samples are?  Or would he only see that the I's in BERLIN look almost identical and decide that is solid proof that Atta wrote the anthrax letters?

And, this morning I saw there's another problem with that comparison.  I had to make the anthrax letter writer's handwriting smaller to fit it in the same space.  And, that's exactly what the latest argument from the True Believer is all about. 

In one of his final posts to my interactive blog, he argued:

Ed Lake reasons, for example, that a key fact is that the first batch of letters (to the media) were twice as big. He says kids in the first week of First Grade learn to write smaller. Therefore, a First Grader wrote the letters.

Yet, he doesn't recognize that the first batch of letters had 15 words. The second batch had 24 words. Thus, assuming that copies were made just at 100% (with no enlargement or reduction) then it would be natural to write about half as big to fit twice the text.

His argument seems to be that, even though the writer was writing on an 8½x11 sheet of paper and  had all the room he needed to write much more than what he actually wrote, he wrote smaller when he wrote the senate letters because he was writing 9 more words.  And that's what any adult would naturally do.

Here's what the Brokaw and Daschle anthrax letters looked like:

Handwriting size comparison

With all that empty space, would any adult write half his normal size just because he has two more lines to write?  Would he also start using punctuation because there's more room for it?  And, would he also draw R's correctly when writing more words because he could only draw R's incorrectly when there were fewer words?

And why did the anthrax letter writer also write smaller on the senate envelopes than he did on the media envelopes?  The True Believer just ignores that fact.

This morning, he even posted similar things to Lew Weinstein's blog:

There is an internet poster who for 10 years has argued that the letter writer wrote smaller in writing the 7 lines in the second batch than he did when writing the 5 lines in the first batch. The internet poster reasons that therefore the letter writer must be a First Grader in his first weeks of school when he learned to write smaller! (I’m not kidding.) To the contrary, any adult will tend to write smaller when he has more material to write in the same space. Duh.

Yesterday, I decided there was no sense in any further arguments with that one specific True Believer.  He seems to get some kind of sick pleasure out of telling me over and over that no literary agent is going to want to try to sell my book because my book disagrees with the True Believer's beliefs.   When I asked him why Pulitzer Prize winner Laurie Garrett had to self-publish her book about 9/11 and the anthrax case, he just ignored the question.  Didn't she already have an agent?

And, when he's not telling me that no agent will ever represent my book, he's arguing total nonsense.  When I prove his arguments are nonsense, he changes the subject and argues something else.  When he runs out of things to argue, he starts at the beginning with the same old nonsense arguments over again as if they hadn't been proved many times to be total nonsense. 

And, worst of all, there's now a menacing and threatening tone to his postsHe recently implied that I could get sued for agreeing with the Department of Justice's finding that Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  And, he repeatedly twists things to suggest I could get sued for this or that.  Since he's a lawyer, there's a definite implied threat in such postings.  In one of his recent posts, he wrote:

Rule No. 1 in publishing: Always contact someone before accusing them of murder. If they are deceased or in prison and incommunicado, be sure to contact their lawyer so that the lawyer can correct any errors.

He doesn't seem to comprehend that it was the U.S. Department Of Justice who accused Bruce Ivins of murder and presented the evidence showing that Ivins did it.  The True Believer constantly posts comments which seem to suggest that it was all my idea and that I am totally responsible.  So, effective today, I've decided to just delete anything he attempts to post to my interactive blog and to no longer concern myself with him or his beliefs (unless, of course, he brings up something new).  If he wants to contact me, he can do so by email or some other method where I can prove who is doing the writing.  I won't reply, of course, but I'll archive his messages in case I ever need them.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, August 5, 2012, thru Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 11, 2012 - The Huffington Post is reporting that anthrax "may have killed 50 cattle" on a ranch in Colorado.  Only one cow has been confirmed to have died from anthrax.  It's the first cow to die of anthrax in Colorado in 31 years.  And, it probably accounts for the slight spike in visitors to my web site over the past few days.

August 10, 2012 - Last night on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Stewart interviewed author Joanna Brooks.  They talked about how her book "The Book of Mormon Girl" was self-published because "No one wanted to publish a book about Mormons."  Then, after Brooks self-published the book, it was "picked up" by a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster and re-published for the book trade.  I found that encouraging.  It's probably what most authors who self-publish dream about.  Checking the Internet, I found some interesting web sites about the subject HERE, HERE, HERE, HEREand HERE

August 9, 2012 - I just found a web page full of examples of people trying to write with their "wrong" hand.  Click HERE.  Below is an example from that page:

wrong hand handwriting

But, of course, if Bruce Ivins had been put on trial, no one was going to testify that Ivins wrote the letters with his "wrong" hand.  It was just one expert's theory.  In court, since the prosecution had nothing conclusive to present, they wouldn't have mentioned the handwriting at all.   And, it's highly unlikely the defense would have brought up the subject, since they could not conclusively prove that Ivins did not write the letters with his "wrong" hand - or otherwise disguise his handwriting in some other way.

August 8, 2012 (B) - It's just been reported by CBS News and The Chicago Tribune that Wade Michael Page shot himself in the head after being shot in the stomach by the second police officer arriving at the scene of the Sikh shootings.  From CBS News:

FBI Special Agent Teresa Carlson, who's in charge of the bureau's Milwaukee office, told reporters at a morning news conference that video footage from the shooting showed that Page apparently shot himself.

Previously, Oak Creek Police Officer Sam Lenda was credited with downing Page. Lenda was the second officer who responded to the scene. Carlson said Lenda shot Page in the stomach.

"It is an amazing shot and thank goodness," Carlson said.

The first responding officer, Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, was shot nine times but survived the shooting. Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said at the news conference that Murphy has started walking around again.

 August 8, 2012 (A) - I'm running out of things to keep me busy, so I returned to the new handwriting page I've been working on from time to time.   Out of curiosity, I decided to produce a sample of my own handwriting on lined paper using my right (normal) hand and left ("wrong") hand.  Here are the results:
My handwriting - right and left hand
The writing was done on high-gloss paper, which doesn't absorb ink as quickly as other kinds of paper, so I accidentally smudged the first "with" when I moved the paper to the other side of my keyboard to write with my left hand.   Using my right (normal) hand in that position, when I rewrote the word "with" under the smudged "with," the I and H clearly tilted more to the left.

Even though I was trying to be as careful as possible, my first attempt to write with my left hand was so shaky, that I gave up while writing the first O.  O's seem particularly difficult to draw with my left hand.  C's also seem have square sides.  I don't know why N's are so much more difficult than M's.  And I don't know what the problem was with my Y's.  I hadn't noticed it before, but, when writing with my right hand, I appear to draw my Y's by first drawing the small V and then adding the vertical line at the bottom.  And when writing with my left hand I find that very difficult to do when the Y is inside a word, but not when it is at the end of a word.
  (I can't recall the last time I tried writing with my "wrong" hand, but it was probably decades ago.)

If sentence 3 showed up in one place and sentence 4 showed up in another place, a good handwriting expert would probably be able to see exactly what I was doing and that both samples are from the same person.  I draw my I's with serifs when it's the word "I" and without serifs when it is part of a word.   I draw E's with 4 strokes.  The centers of my M's and W's do not go to the line.  I draw "Catholic" R's, even though I learned to write in public school.  And there are probably other identifying characteristics as well.

Someone more ambidextrous than I would likely write more legibly with their "wrong" hand, but that would probably also mean that their handwriting would be a lot more similar to their writing with their "correct" hand.

Here's another handwriting comparison where I write slower and try to be a lot more careful when writing with my "wrong" hand:

My handwriting 2 - right and left hand
Can you tell which was written with the "wrong" hand?  It should be easy.  And, it can be easily seen that both samples are from the same person.

(If you're interested, click HERE and go to page 7 in the pdf file to view a similar comparison that may be from some actual court case.)   

August 7, 2012 - According to the latest reports, the Mars rover "Curiosity" was taking videos as it went down through the Martian atmosphere and descended for a landing.  Only a low-resolution version of the video is currently available, but a high-resolution version will be transmitted to Earth when time permits.  It should be spectacular.  

Meanwhile, it's beginning to look more and more like Wade Michael Page was planning to commit "suicide by cop" when he entered that Sikh temple and started shooting people.  It's still unknown if he thought the Sikhs were Muslims, but it probably didn't matter much.  It seems he just wanted to make a final "statement" by going out in a "blaze of glory," which was how Bruce Ivins described his "suicide by cop" plan.

Also meanwhile, there have been no responses from any agents so far this week, so this morning I sent out another query letter.

August 6, 2012 (B) - Hmm.  During this morning's press conference, the authorities stated that they are looking for a "person of interest" regarding the Oak Creek Sikh shootings.  The "person of interest" wasn't directly involved with the shootings, but he showed up later to photograph people with his cell phone camera, and he has "9-11-01" tattooed on his arm.  The authorities wanted to find out who he is and what he was doing at the scene.  I can understand their curiousity, but he turned out to be not involved. 

August 6, 2012 (A) - When I turned on the news this morning, I learned that the new Mars rover "Curiosity" landed safely and is already sending back pictures.  

I also learned that the shooter at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI, was a man named Wade Michael Page, who was described as "
a bald white man, dressed in a white T-shirt and black pants and with a 9/11 tattoo on one arm."  So, it was a hate crime and could be an act of "domestic terrorism," just like the anthrax attacks of 2001.  Here's what one source says about Wade Michael Page:

The man who allegedly murdered six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, identified in media reports as Wade Michael Page, was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.

And according to the Pentagon, Page was "less than honorably discharged" from the Army in 1998 where he had worked as a psy-ops (psychological operations) specialist.  I suspect we're going to hear a lot more about that in the future. 

August 5, 2012 (B) - Jeeze!  Another mass shooting!  According to CNN, six people were killed this morning at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI, about 15 miles from where I live.  The shooter was killed by a police officer, making the total death count seven.  At least three other people were wounded, including the first police officer to arrive on the scene.  According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, it may have been some kind of hate crime, since "the shooter was a white male in his 30's."  A lot of people are wondering if the shooter thought that the Sikhs were Muslims.  They're not.  So, now the authorities are going to have to try to figure out what motivated this guy, too. 

August 5, 2012 (A) - I haven't yet received any meaningful responses from the two query letters I sent out on Wednesday, July 25th.  I did get an automated response from one agent which said I should expect an answer in 6 to 8 weeks, and, if I don't receive one, it's okay to send an email to ask why there's been no response.  The other agency's web site says a response could take 4 to 6 weeks.  I'm not going to sit idle for six weeks, of course. 
If I don't get any actual responses by Tuesday, I'll send out another query to another agency.  And, since I've received no response to the referral query I sent out on July 19, that will mean I'll have at least four query letters "in the mill."

For all I know, all four agents could be vacationing in Nova Scotia, Switzerland, Norway or somewhere else that's not as hot as New York City in July and August.

I've also revised my query letter again, putting the information about the five other anthrax books and the erroneous PBS Frontline program before the section about how I've been running a web site for over ten years that is dedicated to separating facts from opinions about the case, and now I have written the definitive book on the subject.

As strange as it may seem, it appears that the "normal" way to get an agent interested in a non-fiction book is to tell him or her about a book you plan to write.  The author sends the agent a proposal.  Then, if the proposal interests the agent, he or she discusses the pros and cons of the proposal with the author, and they come to an agreement about the best way to present the book idea to publishers.  Then the agent tries to get a publisher interested in the idea.  If a publisher likes the idea, he gives the author (via the agent) a monitary advance to lock down the project and they establish some deadline for the completion of the writing of the book. 

One would think that a completed book would be much more interesting to publishers, and, it most probably is.  But, it's not the "normal" way.  And, it may be more difficult to get the agent enthusiastic about something that he didn't help create.  For publishers, there's also the "it's not the way I would have done it" factor.  To publishers, it's evidently like buying an existing house versus building a new house just the way you want it.  It seems that publishers may prefer to have their non-fiction books built just they way they like them, and to pay the "contractors" to do it their way.  If they look at a pre-built book(/house), they may look at how much trouble it would be to rebuild it the way they want it.

Or (hopefully for my book), except for some minor changes here and there, they may love it just the way it is.   

Meanwhile, in a debate on my interactive blog last week, I tried a different approach to trying to get an Anthrax Truther to understand the Amerithrax investigation.  
I tried to explain the case with an analogy:


Think of the case as being like a 500-piece picture puzzle. The FBI's search for clues found 1,000 pieces. Most turned out to be meaningless pieces belonging to a hundred other picture puzzles. But the FBI slowly managed to fit about 400 pieces together and they got a clear, undeniable picture showing that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.

In my book, I fit about 70 or 80 additional pieces into the puzzle to almost complete the picture.

There might still be 20 or 30 pieces missing, but it is virtually impossible for those missing pieces to significantly change the picture that has already been assembled.

Some of those missing pieces are: (1) Did Ivins use the same mailbox for both mailings, or did only the second mailing leave spores in the mailbox?  (2) Is Silicon absorbed into spore coats naturally to create a harder coat or to provide protection from UV light?  (3) Is the reason that only about 70 percent of the attack spores had silicon in their coats because the first 30 percent were grown in an incubator and the last 70 percent were grown at room temperature?   (4) What did Ivins do during the time he took off on the afternoon of Sept. 17, 2001?  (5) Did Ivins head for New Jersey right after he spent just 14 minutes in Building 1425 on the evening of Sept. 17, 2001, or did he first go home and wait until his family was asleep?

The answers to those questions would fill in some of the remaining pieces of the puzzle, but there's no way they could alter the fact the Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer. 

Also meanwhile, I'm tempted to start some kind of campaign to advise the Emmy voters that the PBS program "The Anthrax Files" was mostly nonsense

I checked the nominations listed on the web site for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and I found the program was one of two Frontline programs among the six finalists, and one of four PBS programs among the finalists:

OUTSTANDING INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM – LONG FORM

 HDNet - Dan Rather Reports - A National Disgrace
 
PBS - FRONTLINE -  A Perfect Terrorist

PBS - FRONTLINE - The Anthrax Files

HBO - HBO Documentary Films - Marathon Boy

PBS - POV - Better This World

PBS - POV - Enemies of the People

But, I'm not an activist.  I've never been in a protest march or picketed some company or organization doing stupid things.  I don't recall ever participating in a boycott.  And, since I live in Wisconsin, there's no way I can picket the academy offices.  I just think it's ridiculous that the program was nominated by Emmy voters.  It seems to show how many academy voters are ignorant of the facts about the Amerithrax investigation.  And, I don't know how to make them aware of the facts they need for the final vote - other than what I've already done on this web site.  But, I'll keep thinking.

Maybe I'll write a letter to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  They may see some "local interest" in my campaign for truth, justice and the American way.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, July 29, 2012, thru Saturday, August 4, 2012

August 4, 2012 - Since I'm a "science buff" (one reason why I've been following the anthrax investigation so closely for over ten years), I'm fascinated by the mission to put the new 1-ton, car size rover "Curiosity" on the surface of Mars.  Click HERE to view a 4-minute description by Star Trek's William Shatner of the way things are supposed to work early on Monday morning (Eastern time).  You can also click HERE for another description the science and of the "seven minutes of terror" scientists will be going through as they wait for word that the rover has landed and is working properly.

August 3, 2012 - I don't know of this will be of interest to anyone, but my interactive blog (using software from Google) produces statistics.  Here's a chart showing "pageview" activity for the past month:

Statistics for my blog

That second-highest daily peak on July 31 represents 81 "pageviews."  The all-time top month was February 2012, with a total of 1,529 "pageviews."   July 2012 had 1,109.   There are no logs, so the only information I have about where the "pageviews" come from is another chart Google produces:

Blog statistics by country

The statistics above represent all 10,408 "pageviews" since I set up the blog about ten months ago.  The Russians appear to be big visitors to my blog, too. 

Another point: Unlike my web site, which costs me $6 per month to run, the blog is free.   Google provides it as a service to anyone wanting to do such a thing.

August 2, 2012 - Another similarity between the James Holmes case and the Bruce Ivins case is in the news this morning.  Holme's psychiatrist tried to warn others that he could be dangerous, but there just wasn't enough evidence to do anything.  The Washington Post says,

A University of Colorado psychiatrist whose clients included the former student accused of the Aurora theater shooting reportedly tried to discuss the man with members of a campus behavioral and security committee about a month before the attack but the group never convened.

Ivins talked with one psychiatrist after another about his plans to poison people and to build a bomb.  One counselor even called the police when Ivins told her that he was planning to poison a young woman named "Mara."  But the police didn't have enough information to do anything.  And, evidently, his psychiatrists felt they had talked Ivins out of his bomb-making plans and his previous murder plot against Nancy Haigwood.

There are definitely a lot of nut cases out there who probably should be locked up, and there probably aren't enough looney bins to house them all.  But, most seem to get through life without actually killing anyone.  Who should be locked up and who shouldn't?  If psychiatrists can't say for certain, who can?  I could certainly prepare a very long list.  Here in Wisconsin we've got Republicans fighting with Republicans to see who will be the candidate to run for Senator in November.  The negative attack ads tell me they should all be locked up.

August 1, 2012 (B) - Someone calling himself "Anonymous" just posted a message to my interactive blog describing the process of reading manuscripts in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress.  I don't know if it's the same "Anonymous" or not.  But, he thinks the same way, since he argues that I haven't adequately researched the anthrax attacks if I haven't read Steven Hatfill's novel, which is by definition a fictional work.  This particular "Anonymous" may be someone who still believes Hatfill did it.

Hmm.  That makes me wonder if I shouldn't add another selling point to my query letter, something like:

There are indications that conspiracy theorists and others are so curious about my book that they have attempted to find and read the manuscript at the Library of Congress.

One nice thing about all this is that, even if I can't find a regular publisher, there could be a good market for a self-published version.

August 1, 2012 (A) - This morning I received a rejection-slip via email from the literary agency I queried on Monday.  They wrote:

Thank you for your recent query regarding representation. Having considered it, we've concluded that [our agency] is not going to be the right fit for your project but of course wish you all the best.

So, I immediately sent out a query email to the second agency on the list.  And now I'm pondering whether or not I should also send a query to the third agency on the list.  I worry a bit about what I would do if two agents ask to see the book at the same time and both want to have exclusivity.  But, I'll have to solve that problem when it happens.

Yesterday, I wrote in a comment that it looked like "Anonymous" on my interactive blog has been researching my copyrights.  I wonder if he actually visited the Library of Congress to see if he could read a copy of my new book there.  If he did, all he learned is that they don't yet have a copy.

It's probably pure coincidence, but note the last line in the partial report below, which I received this morning showing which web sites have visited my site so far in August:

Top 30 of 47 Total Sites

# Hits Files KBytes Visits Hostname

1 351 46.31% 107 30.31% 15586 30.29% 1 1.75% hsi-kbw-091-089-061-050.hsi2.kabelbw.de
2 243 32.06% 124 35.13% 19492 37.88% 8 14.04% 652-ntserver.marion.k12.nd.us
3 24 3.17% 24 6.80% 3177 6.17% 1 1.75% ip70-176-224-229.ph.ph.cox.net
4 19 2.51% 19 5.38% 578 1.12% 1 1.75% 130.255.0.50 [University of Denver]
5 16 2.11% 2 0.57% 767 1.49% 2 3.51% crawl-66-249-71-195.googlebot.com
6 16 2.11% 11 3.12% 3663 7.12% 4 7.02% spider-199-21-99-125.yandex.com
7 12 1.58% 10 2.83% 266 0.52% 1 1.75% 108.171.112.138 [in New York City]
8 9 1.19% 9 2.55% 391 0.76% 1 1.75% 109.red-83-34-189.dynamicip.rima-tde.net
9 4 0.53% 2 0.57% 79 0.15% 2 3.51% msnbot-65-52-108-26.search.msn.com
10 4 0.53% 4 1.13% 405 0.79% 1 1.75% web42.alexiadns.com
11 4 0.53% 4 1.13% 25 0.05% 1 1.75% webproxy2.loc.gov
    
loc.gov is the Library of Congress where the Copyrights Office is located.  Someone there visited my site between midnight and 4:30 a.m.  this morning.  The last time anyone from the LOC visited my site was in October 2011.

Unfortunately, my web site host started the August logs at 4:30 a.m., so I can't see exactly what the Library of Congress looked at.  I'm missing all log data before 4:30 a.m.  (When I asked my web site host, I learned that they were doing monthly backups at that time and they have no log data for midnight to 4:30 a.m.)  Presumably, anyone just visiting the LOC and using their public library computers will be logged as a visit from loc.gov.  But the operating hours for the LOC on Tuesday are  8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  And, on Wednesday they are 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

That research prompted me to check to see what copyrights information can be viewed on-line.  Looking up my copyrighted materials, I found:

Copyrighted works

Hmm.  I copyrighted my first book about the anthrax investigation three times?  #1 is dated 2003, #2 is 2005 and #3 is 2004.  #2 is probably the published book itself.  The other two must be manuscripts.  I don't even remember what #4 was, and I don't know why my book "Clipper" isn't on the list.  The screenplay version and other screenplays are probably just registered with the Motion Picture Academy.  Interesting.

July 31, 2012 - "Anonymous" has graciously helped me keep busy while I'm waiting for responses from literary agents.  He posted a long string of nonsense messages to my interactive blog, making baseless claims and arguing against the facts over and over.  And, each time he's shown to be wrong, he just changes the subject.  Same old, same old.  But, his nonsense keeps me on my toes, and I did get a good idea for a better way to do something as a result of one of my responses.  So, it's not a total waste of time.

In one of his posts, however, he indicates he's been researching me at the Copyrights office.  He seems to claim I've copyrighted 6 items in my lifetime.  Could be.

July 29, 2012 (B) - While eating lunch, I suddenly remembered a fifth book about the anthrax case.  I mentioned the book in my comment for  May 4, 2012. 
"The Mystery of September 11 & the State Lotteries" claims the anthax attacks were connected to the New Hampshire state lotteries.   I'll definitely have to mention it in my query letter.   

July  29, 2012 (A) - I haven't received any response to the referral query I sent to a literary agent on Thursday, July 19.  If there's nothing in my inbox from that agent tomorrow morning, I'll send out another query letter to another agent that someone suggested I try.  I have a list of 4 such agents.   They're all very successful agents who probably should have been among the first I tried, but they didn't show up in my initial search for literary agents.  Maybe it's Fate, since, if I had known about them, I would have sent them the much-too-long earlier version of the book.

I did some additional research yesterday, and I found 16 more agencies to try - all of them successful agencies that employ multiple literary agents in New York City.   I picked the 16 from a list of at least 150 New York City agencies because their interests seemed to fit my book - and because they accept unsolicited query letters.

I also revised my query letter in a very significant way.

Studying their web-site pages, I saw that one of the things most literary agents like to see in a query letter for a non-fiction book is a description of how your book differs from other books on the same subject.  I hadn't provided that in any previous query. 

I could only recall three such books that have been written since the announcement that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer: "Mirage Man" by David Willman, "American Anthrax" by Jeanne Guillemin, and "I Heard the Sirens Scream" by Laurie Garrett.  Last week, when I asked people if they could remember any other books, I was reminded of "Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail," by Bob Coen and Eric Nadler.  The review of their 2009 book in The New York Times said:

Coen and Nadler hint that the real anthrax culprit might have been someone with a “profit motive” from the bio­weapons business.
and
Coen and Nadler relish the lurid conventions of the conspiracy genre. “Dead Silence,” written in snappy spy-thriller prose, is filled with dark innuendo (like the suggestion that anthrax “may have been used by assassins aligned with” President Bill Clinton) and a cast of germ-warfare obsessives. The authors are right to call themselves conspiracy chasers rather than theorists, because they never pull together their speculative threads.

Coen and Nadler emailed me years ago seeking publicity for their movie "Anthrax War."  I mentioned their movie in my June 2, 2009 comment when I was somewhat surprised that they were showing their conspiracy theory film to members of Congress.

Needless to say, my book is very very different from Coen & Nadler's book.  The same with Guillemin's and Garrett's books.
 

So, what we have are four books about the case: One argues that weapon manufacturers sent the letters, another argues that al Qaeda sent the letters, one is basically neutral, and one argues that Bruce Ivins did it just as the FBI proved.

And my book was specifically written to end the debate.  It shows beyond any reasonable doubt that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.

The only problem is a minor one: I have to explain the differences between my book and Willman's book in just a sentence or two.  To do that, I'll just have to do what I usually do: write something, then modify it, then adjust it, then revise it, then simplify it, then correct it, then replace words here and there until I'm satisfied.

I'll also mention that PBS Frontline's inaccurate report "The Anthrax Files" is a finalist for an Emmy Award.  That further illustrates the need for a book which shows all the alternate theories about the case have no basis in reality.

Last week, I also spent an hour or two working on a new supplemental page where I compare 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta's handwriting to the handwriting on the anthrax letters.  The subject was brought up on my interactive blog by someone who seemingly believes Atta could be the writer.  I don't know if anyone else in the world thinks the similarities he sees have any significance, since it should be clear that the differences are many, obvious and more important.  Plus, the second anthrax letter was undoubtedly written after Atta was dead.  I explained a major difference between the handwritings in my January 25, 2012 comment, but I didn't show a visual comparison like this:

Atta's handwriting comparison 
I could make similar comparisons with Atta's 9's, his E's, his R's, his 4's, etc., etc.  But, no facts or evidence will ever change the mind of a True Believer.  They'd likely point out that the middle zero in Atta's 2000 above looks somewhat like the second zero in the date on the senate letter, even though anyone looking at all the zeros objectively can see that Atta typically drew narrow, diagonal zeros, while the anthrax letter writer drew zeros as circular as he could.

True Believers will argue about similarities they can find, and they'll just ignore the vast number of differences.  If they ever get tired of arguing, they'll then ask, "Is it totally impossible for Atta to have drawn characters like those in the anthrax letters?"  The answer, of course, is no, it's not totally impossible.  And for the True Believers, that means I agree with them that it could be Atta's handwriting.  And, they believe it is Atta's handwriting.  So, they've proved their case.  Of course, the facts clearly say it is not Atta's handwriting.  But, facts mean nothing to True Believers if it cannot be proved with absolute certainty that it is totally impossible for it to be Atta's handwriting.
  
Nevertheless, a web page showing such a handwriting comparison could be used by the many other people who think that the handwriting of their favorite suspect matches the anthrax letters.  I see the page as a brief course in "The Basics of Handwriting Comparison."  But, creating that new page is very low on my priority list.  It's just something to do to keep my mind occupied while I'm also doing all this waiting for responses from literary agents.       


Updates & Changes: Sunday, July 22, 2012, thru Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 27, 2012 (B) - Hmm.  According to the Associated Press, the package the Colorado movie theater shooter sent to a psychiatrist was sent to his psychiatrist.  It was therefore a "privileged" communication between a patient and his psychiatrist, and the judge is upset because the media learned some of what is in the package via leaks from law enforcement sources.  They're now looking for the leakers.  Fascinating.  And familiar.

Fox News says "the package was mailed well before the attack took place."  So, Holmes was almost certainly looking for his psychiatrist to stop him from doing what he did -- much the same way that Bruce Ivins would go to see a psychiatrist every time he started thinking about committing a serious crime.  Dr. Lynne Fenton appears to be an attractive female who specialized in schizophrenia, which adds another fascinating detail. 

And, CNN reports:

"The materials contained in that package include communications from Mr. Holmes to Dr. Fenton that Mr. Holmes asserts are privileged," said the document filed by public defenders representing Holmes. "Mr. Holmes was a psychiatric patient of Dr. Fenton, and his communications with her are protected."

In response, prosecutors asked for Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester to deny the request by Holmes, saying it contained inaccuracies including claims of media leaks by government officials that in reality may have been fabricated by news organizations.

If the media "fabricated" the story about a package, it was a very good fabrication since subsequent revelations seem to be showing it all to be true.  And, at least one "expert" says that it cannot be withheld from authorities because it is information about a crime.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, authorities just arrested a man who was evidently planning to commit a similar mass murder at the place from where he was just fired.  The police found "an arsenal" in his home.  And, when arrested, Neal Prescott of Crofton, MD, was wearing a T-shirt that said, "Guns don't kill people.  I do."  Fascinating.

July 27, 2012 (A) - This is off-topic, but the other day I stumbled across an interesting "cop show" on the A&E network.   It's called "Longmire."  It's about cases handled by the grizzled, tired but dedicated sheriff of a fictional county in modern-day Wyoming.  The first 10-episode season of "Longmire" is almost over, but there's a "marathon" of four repeat episodes - including the pilot - showing Sunday evening.  My DVR is set.   

July 26, 2012 - This morning, I watched the PBS Frontline program "The Anthrax Files" again to see if I should add more to the list of errors and distortions in the program that I describe on my new supplemental web page "PBS Frontline vs The Anthrax Facts."  I decided to add a new #9 to the list.  At the 33:40 minute mark, PBS used a totally biased and uninformed opinion when they showed Henry Heine suggesting that there was something wrong with the science used in the Amerithrax case, because he had "numerous samples" taken from flask RMR-1029 in his lab, and they all tested negative for the morphs.  All it proves is (1) the samples were made using Ivins' customary "single colony pick" method of seeding new growths, or (2) Heine was mistaken.

I pondered listing another possible error, but decided against it.  At about the 44 minute mark PBS said that Ivins wrote the note "I have a terrible headache.  I'm going to take some Tylenol and sleep in tomorrow - Bruce" on the evening he committed suicide.

The note is described on page 12 of the pdf file located HERE.  It says that his wife wrote a letter to Ivins on July 24 and put the letter next to his bed while he was asleep.  There's no solid reason to believe that Ivins wrote his note on the back of that letter on the evening of the 26th, when he committed suicide.  He evidently "slept in" on the morning of the 26th, so he could have written it on the evening of the 25th.  But, there's no way to say with certainty that PBS made an error.  Their assumption could be correct.

July 25, 2012 (C) - Fox News seems to have "an exclusive" report about the Colorado shootings, which nearly every other news organization is repeating.  Fox's report says:

James Holmes, the accused gunman in last Friday's midnight movie massacre in Colorado, mailed a notebook "full of details about how he was going to kill people" to a University of Colorado psychiatrist before the attack, but the parcel sat unopened in a mailroom for as long as a week before its discovery Monday
...

“Inside the package was a notebook full of details about how he was going to kill people,” the source told FoxNews.com. “There were drawings of what he was going to do in it -- drawings and illustrations of the massacre."

The report says it isn't clear if the psychiatrist had any previous contact with  James Holmes.  And nothing has been verified.  

So, should Fox News have sat on the story until they had verification?  It's hard to imagine any news organization doing that.  And, it really depends upon the reliability of the source.  I'm repeating the story even though it hasn't been verified.  The fact that everyone is saying that it hasn't been verified should indicate that the story should be treated with caution.  I'm guessing it's probably a true story, since it seems to make some sense.  It could partially explain why Holmes isn't cooperating with the police: He made his statement in his notebook.  He may have looked dazed in court because he couldn't understand why his notebook hadn't showed up.  I'm just speculating, but that's what we humans do.  We try to figure out the truth, and then we watch to see what the actual facts are.  If it turns out to be a false story, we
(hopefully) learn to be more cautious, and we learn where we made our mistake.  If it turns out to be a true story, the anticipation will make the details even more fascinating.

Ah!  NBC news has confirmation.  And they also say that Holmes told the authorities where to look for the notebook.  Fascinating.

Click HERE for the stupidest opinion piece so far on the topic of the Colorado shootings.  It's from Fox News, of course. 

July 25, 2012 (B) - I just took my (B) comment from October 11, 2011, and turned it into a new supplemental web page titled "PBS Frontline vs The Anthrax Facts."  That will make it easier to reference, cite and link in future comments.  The new web page concludes with this:

PBS Frontline should be laughed at - not awarded - for their nonsense reporting about the anthrax case.  The PBS Frontline program "The Anthrax Files" is an example of BAD reporting, not good reporting.

July 25, 2012 (A) - Someone sent me an email this morning telling me that CBS and The New York Times were saying that Syria has biological weapons, including anthrax.  Checking the information the source provided, I found an article from CBS News dated yesterday that says:

Besides biological agents such as anthrax, Syria is believed to have hundreds of tons worth of chemical weapons ranging from paralyzing nerve agents like Sarin and VX to old-fashioned blister agents like mustard gas.

The article also includes a video.  Here's a screen capture from the CBS video:

CBS anthrax story

However, when I checked the New York Times' web site to see what they had written, all I could find was this correction:

Because of an editing error, an article on Tuesday about threats by Syria to deploy chemical weapons against any foreign intervention erroneously included one type of unconventional weapon among those that Western authorities believe to be in Syria’s arsenal. It is not thought to have biological weapons.

The same correction is at the bottom of the article they mention.  Whatever they wrote in the original version of the article appears to have been deleted or modified.   (It would probably still be in the print version, though.)

It seems very possible that The New York Times got their information from CBS News, since it seems CBS was first with the "story."  If so, it appears the New York Times checked its facts after reporting the "story," but CBS hasn't yet bothered to do so.

On the other hand, after doing a Google search for "anthrax" and "Syria" I quickly found a FOX News video report from July 11 which says "The Assaad regime is believed to have one the the world's largest stockpiles of anthrax," and, according to FOX, that may be why we haven't sent in any troops to help the rebels.

And Wikipedia says,

According to NATO Consultant Dr Jill Dekker, Syria has worked on: anthrax, plague, tularemia, botulinium, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, ricin and camelpox, and has used Russian help in installing anthrax in missile warheads. She also stated "they view their bio-chemical arsenal as part of a normal weapons program"  [Their source is HERE.]

So, who's right?  Clearly, The New York Times is not entirely correct in saying that Syria "is not thought to have biological weapons," since there are people who think that way.  But, this may be another situation where experts with facts know one thing while "experts" who only have beliefs and opinions believe something very different.

My gut feeling is that the New York Times is right.  They probably checked their facts fifteen different ways before they printed that correction.

July 24, 2012 - An Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog notified me this morning that the PBS Frontline program "The Anthrax Files" was nominated for an Emmy award for "Outstanding Investigative Journalism."  When I researched the claim, I found that the announcement was made on July 12, when Propublica.com described the show this way:

The Frontline, ProPublica and McClatchy Newspapers project investigated the country's most notorious act of bioterrorism and how the man pegged as the mastermind behind it all might actually be innocent.

Wow!  All I can say is that the world really needs my new book, because it shows that there should be absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind about Ivins' guilt.  And the Emmy awards committee should check my comments from October  24, 2011 (B), October 16, 2011 (A), October 12, 2011 (A) and particularly October 11, 2011 (C) where I list a lot of the errors in the PBS program. 

Meanwhile, that same Anthrax Truther seems to be threatening me once again.  Here's the entire email he sent me this morning:

don't ever attribute something to me that you know I didn't say

But, of course, he would claim it's a "warning," not a "threat."  And I don't even know what he's talking about.

Ah!  "Anonymous" just explained.  It was a second "Anonymous" who called me an "asshole" on my interactive blog, and the first "Anonymous" got upset and "threatened" me, because he made a lot of false assumptions about how much information I can determine about people posting to my interactive blog (which is run by Google).  He falsely assumed it was the same as what I can determine about people viewing this web page or sending me emails.  So, he "threatened" or "warned" me because of a mistake he made.   Typical.

July 22, 2012 (B) - When I wrote my (A) comment this morning, I agonized over how much I could say about the agents I'm dealing with.   I made the mistake of using a brief quote from the web site of the agent who turned me down on Thursday, and it appears an Anthrax Truther did an Internet search to figure out who that agent was.  He put  a comment on my Interactive blog indicating that he was able to figure it out.  The question now is: Can he figure out which new agency I contacted on Thursday, and will he try to make trouble for me there?  Maybe he's done so already.  We'll see.

On the positive side, I just did a Google search for "the war on terror" and literary and agent, and I found five agencies I hadn't previously tried, and all five accept queries by email.  So, you can never tell where a good idea can come from. 

July 22, 2012 (A) - The article
in the satrical magazine The Onion about the Colorado theater shootings that I mentioned yesterday remains on my mind.  The article describes how quickly the public forgets about such things.  The article about Brian Ross's latest "blunder" also remains on my mind.  That article is about mistakes made by the media.

I'm trying to get a literary agent interested in a book about a news story most people have forgotten about and which involved some of the worst news reporting in history.

I had high hopes for the query I sent to an agent last Monday.  The agency's web site contained a lot of statements about how they specialize in "
well-researched, topical books."  That seemed like a good fit.  However, after they turned me down without any explanation other than "I think I am just not the right agent for this project," I took a look at their "backlist" to see what kinds of books they had sold in the past.  It appears that they mostly specialize in thoughtful, intellectual books on subjects related to politics, history, overcoming serious injuries, psychology and human foibles.  No gritty true crime books.  No books which would show that the agent would be able to convince a publisher to publish a book about an almost forgotten news story, that is also about newspapers printing total nonsense and about scientists arguing beliefs against scientists who have solid facts.

My book takes a side in a controversy and shows that there really shouldn't be any controversy.  The facts very clearly show that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  The controversy comes totally from reporters, scientists and Anthrax Truthers who either haven't bothered to look at the facts or who simply do not believe the facts because they each have their own personal theory about who did it.

Unfortunately, it appears that the typical literary agent probably has not only forgotten about the anthrax attacks of 2001, he or she probably has no idea that there is any kind of ongoing controversy.  And, if they didn't know there's a controversy, it might be very difficult for them to figure out which is the right side.  No one wants to try to sell a book which everyone who has looked at the facts immediately knows is wrong.

That's probably why Laurie Garrett's book ended up being self-published on Kindle.  It argued against the official findings.  And it appears that no publisher wanted to publish a book that argued against solid facts.

My book argues in support of the facts, but to an agent unfamiliar with the case, that might seem like a book that just repeats what everyone already knows.  I can tell them that it includes a lot that is totally new, but the agent probably wouldn't have any easy way to verify that.  The writer who gave me the referral hasn't read my book. 

The query I sent out on Thursday was to an agency that has sold true crime books, but those books were about white collar crimes.  However, they've also sold at least one book about "the war on terror," so maybe it will be a good fit.  We'll see.

If it doesn't work out, I'll change tactics a bit.  I'll try an agency that I know has some knowledge about the anthrax attacks of 2001, because they already have a book about the case on their backlist - a book that is nothing like mine. 

Updates & Changes: Sunday, July 15, 2012, thru Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21, 2012 (B) - Something odd happened today that is off-topic, but which I found very interesting.  My cable connection went out.  I also use cable for my telephone service, and I don't have a cell phone, so I wasn't able to call the cable company to find out if they were aware of the problem.   When the connection wasn't restored after about an hour, and it prevented me from doing some on-line research, I decided to go to the grocery story to buy a few things and then to stop by the cable office on the way back.

When I approached the cable office, there was a long line of cars coming from both directions and pulling into the cable office parking lot where two men were explaining the situation to people one by one, car by car.  There'd been a "catastrophic power failure" of some kind, and they were now using the backup generator, so everyone's cable connection (and telephone service) should now be working okay.

Clearly I'm not the last person in America without a cell phone, which sometimes seems to be the case.  I keep thinking I should get one, but it seems so dumb to have two telephone service connections when I make so very few  phone calls.  Mostly I communicate by email.  Why carry around a cell phone that I never use?  And, if I just leave it home, why have it at all?  For the once per year or so when there's a cable connection outage? 

Hopefully, I'll get into a situation where an agent or publisher or editor needs me to be in constant contact.  Then I'll have to make the decision to buy a cell phone.

July 21, 2012 (A) - The Star-Ledger (nj.com) has a news story this morning titled "ABC's Ross takes heat for another blunder."  The article says,

Ross came under attack again Friday when he reported that James Holmes, the suspect of today’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., may have connections to the tea party — basing that on a single web page that listed an Aurora-based “Jim Holmes” as a member of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots.

It seems the web page listing was for a different "Jim Holmes."  The Trenton Times article then reminded everyone of Ross's blunder in the Amerithax investigation:

In 2001, Ross reported that Iraq and Saddam Hussein may have been responsible for anthrax attacks on the United States, citing four anonymous high-level sources who claimed there was bentonite in the anthrax. The White House later stated that “no tests ever found or even suggested the presence of bentonite” and that “the claim was concocted from the start.”

But, most interesting is the explanation for what Brian Ross did:

When asked what may have motivated Ross to report a connection between the alleged shooting suspect and the tea party, based off nothing more than a matching name and location, sources at ABC News attributed it to Ross’s desire to create news, and dismissed any suspicion of partisanship.

“I would emphatically say its not a left-right thing. I’ve never discerned in his reporting any ideological movement,” one ABC News source told POLITICO. “It’s the big sensational story that he’s after, and he’ll do the same on either side.”

So, evidently in today's world, stupid and incorrect reporting is okay, just as long as the stupidity isn't biased toward one political party over another.

Click HERE for The Onion's satirical take on the Colorado theater shooting.

July 20, 2012 - When I turned on my TV this morning to check the latest news while eating breakfast, I saw it was all about the massacre at the opening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.   The first thing that came to mind was that on NBC News last night, they talked about how movie critics who didn't like the movie were getting death threats, possibly as a result of comments from Rush Limbaugh, who mindlessly suggested that the movie was an attack upon Mitt Romney.

Time will tell if the 24-year old responsible for the massacre, "super nice kid" James Holmes, was set off by some notion that the villian in the movie, "Bane," somehow related to Bain Capital, the company Mitt Romney once owned and ran.  But, it wouldn't surprise me if that turned out to be the case.  (The character Bane was created for a Batman comic book in 1993, long before Romney started running for President.)

For what it's worth, I didn't particularly like "The Dark Knight," the previous movie in the "trilogy" from director Christopher Nolan, even though most critics went nuts over it.  (I thoroughly enjoyed "Batman Returns," the first movie in the trilogy, however.)   And, as a result, I'm not particularly interested in seeing "The Dark Knight Rises," although I'd probably pay the $1.20 to rent it from RedBox when it is released on DVD in six months or so.   Quelling my curiosity will be worth the $1.20.

Which leads me to the movie I rented on Tuesday, "Salmon Fishing in  the Yemen," one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in a long time.  Perhaps, I can somewhat relate to it, because it's about an English scientist who gets dragged kicking and screaming into a project that he thinks is just plain nuts, and it changes his life.  Gradually, he realizes that something he initially believed was impossible and insane, turned out to be very possible and even a good idea.  In the movie, the idea is to introduce salmon fishing in the Middle East country of Yemen which doesn't even have any permanent rivers.

Maybe what I liked most about the movie is that nearly everyone in it is likeable, including the Yemeni shiek who is behind the idea.  The idea of taking 10,000 salmon from English rivers to put into a "river" in Yemen sends English fishermen into an uproar, and there are many other obstacles along the way.  There are some Muslim terrorists who show up briefly near the end, but they're not main characters.  And the lesson they teach the main characters isn't a bad one: Good ideas that may seem crazy to the average person need to be very carefully explained and they may also need to be implemented very very slowly.

July 19, 2012 (B) - Nuts!  I just received a response from the agent who was reading my book.  Her entire email response was:

Sorry but I think I am just not the right agent for this project.  Sorry.

So, I immediately sent out another query to another agent for whom I have a referral.

July 19, 2012 (A) - While I slowly go nuts waiting for word from the literary agent who is reading my book, I puttered around on the Internet and found an interesting "white powder mystery" in Edmonds, Washington, that wasn't a hoax.  HazMat teams were called to investigate white powder spread around an intersection.  The explanation:

"It turns out the white powdery substance is, in fact, flour," Snohomish County Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes said.

A woman who had been jogging in the area earlier said she saw a pair of crows dragging a bag of flour.

"She took it away from them, put it in a garbage can and kept running," Hynes said.

July 18, 2012 (B) - Yesterday, I noticed a couple things that might be connected, and I did some research to see if I could confirm the connection.

I noticed on my Bruce Ivins Timeline page that Ivins' letter to the editor of the Frederick News-Post defending pedophilia was published on September 17, 1993.  And the very next entry in the Timeline is about Mara Linscott starting to work for Ivins during her summer vacations. 

That made me wonder how old Mara was in 1993.  My research found a comment on page 48 and 49 of David Willman's book "The Mirage Man" which says:

Linscott was twenty-nine years his [Ivins'] junior; Fellows, fifteen.

Okay, we know Ivins was born in April, 1946.  So, in 1993, he was 47.  And that would make Mara about 18 years old when Ivins wrote the letter to the editor.  Facts suggest that Ivins knew her when she was even younger than 18.  (Mara's older sister Cheryl was Diane Ivins' best friend, and emails indicate that Mara had visited with the Ivins family in their home.)

I'm not sure what to make of this.  But it does seem that Mara may have been on his mind when he wrote the letter, not some other form of pedophilia.

My research also showed that Mara Linscott and Patricia Fellows were a bit older at the time of the anthrax attacks than I estimated in my book.  I'll have to fix that. 

July 18, 2012 (A) - This morning, while doing my rounds of web sites which might have something interesting to say about the anthrax attacks of 2001, I noticed a large update to the Wikipedia article about the Amerithrax investigation in which someone attempted to add a new "person of interest."   It's a rambling 1,800 word update that labels a doctor in Idaho as a "person of interest."  It says in part,

[The Idaho doctor], whose behavioral science training in "media persuasion" enabled him to "read" commercial agendas and propaganda in preparation for some "anthrax event" happening that would spur sales of CIPRO. He informed the FBI that "Cipro and smallpox vaccine have much in common besides capturing America’s urgent attention in recent weeks. The parent companies that produce these favored elixirs for anthrax and smallpox bioterrorism are linked, strangely enough, to an infamous history involving contaminated blood, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and even the Nazis.

After the FBI failed to respond to his e-mailed notices and telephone calls, he marched into to his local FBI office in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to deliver the message personally, along with a copy of his June, 2001, publication: ''Death in the Air—Globalism, Terrorism & Toxic Warfare'' (prophetically-titled months prior to the 911 terrorist attacks).

His warning was based on substantial intelligence gathered during previous investigations of pharmaceutical industry corruption and his expertise in “health promotion and media persuasion,” certified by several scientific publications and research for many books. He informed the FBI that he “read” a massive propaganda campaign unfolding in the weeks following the 911 attacks that concerned him to the point of issuing an alert about a risk of anthrax bioterrorism.

[The Idaho doctor] alerted the FBI that a “Cipro and anthrax vaccine sales scam” was unfolding in the United States, evidenced by propaganda he was monitoring in the media. Despite his good faith efforts to fulfill his duty as a “Good Samaritan,” the FBI neglected his counsel, and then in April, 2002, the agency made him a "suspect" in the case.

It appears that the "suspect" or one of his followers may be trying to use Wikipedia to continue to promote the Idaho doctor's theory.  His theory has been the subject of many many emails I've received over the years, starting back in January 2002. 

The Wikipedia update was deleted 28 minutes after it was added, because it didn't follow the proper format.  So, it may all be added again later in the proper format.

July 16, 2012 - Wow!  Referrals work almost like magic.  I sent out the query letter this morning at 9:14 a.m., and about two hours later I had a very positive response.  From my years of experience, you never get that kind of response if you don't have a referral from someone the literary agent knows.  I sent the entire manuscript out in eight parts as attachments to eight emails.  They seemed to go through okay, even the BIG one with all the picture pages.  So, now the waiting begins.

July 15, 2012 - Going through the manuscript for my new book to hyphenate words at the end of lines - and to make certain the 9 remaining "exhibit" images each fit within a single page - surprisingly resulted in cutting another 8 pages from the manuscript.  So, it's now 142 pages shorter than the previous version.   And, there are now 13 pages of illustrations at the end.  For example, here's a reduced-in-size version of picture-page 6:
Picture page 6
The original version of that page is 8½ x 11 inches in high resolution print format.  There are 42 pictures on the 13 picture pages.  And there are 9 more images within the text of the book.

Although I will undoubtedly read through the 6x9 version of the book at least one more time before I start typesetting it for self-publishing, I think the manuscript is ready to be read by a literary agent.  So, tomorrow I'll use a referral someone kindly gave me, and I'll send out a query email to an agent.  

The latest overhaul not only cut 28,000 words, it made it much more readable for the average person who probably remembers very little about the case (which likely includes most agents and publishers). 

Because I was so busy with revisions last week, I neglected to write a comment about Tommy Thompson's recent experience with people who have mostly forgotten about the anthrax case.   In a speech to Tea Party members, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services said:


"Then after 9/18, I was responsible for public health of all Americans; was responsible for preventing any attacks using weaponized medicines."

The Tea Party members assumed that he meant 9/11 and jumped all over him for not remembering the correct date.   The matter then had to be clarified:

Thompson spokesman Brian Nemoir said in a statement that, "as a point of clarification, 9/18/01 is in reference to the anthrax attacks on specific members of congress and varied members of the news media. In-total, it is believed that seven letters were mailed containing anthrax spores, contaminating 22 people of which five people died. As Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson lead the efforts to protect our nation from these bio-threats."

Thompson remembers the anthrax attacks, and he evidently thought everyone else did, too.  He and his spokesman could have clarified things further, since a lot more than 22 people were known to have been "contaminated," but only 22 people where known to have been infected.  And, anthrax spores are not "weaponized medicines."

I also never got around to including some additional thoughts in the comment I wrote on July 10 where I provided a link to a NASA video.  While watching the video, I couldn't help but wonder how Matt Harding persuaded all those people to dance with him.  I was undoubtedly comparing that task to persuading a literary agent to represent my book.   Matt Harding had to persuade around a thousand people.  I just need to persuade one.   But, Harding probably didn't agonize a thousandth as much as I do before trying.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, July 8, 2012, thru Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 11, 2012 - I finished the edits to my book, trimming it by over 28,000 words, cutting it down to about 110 thousand words.   The last chapter of the 6x9 book version now ends on page 340, where it previously ended on page 443.  So, I cut 103 pages.  I had thought that would easily  mean a cut of well over 150 pages when I converted it to manuscript format.  But, it turned out to be only a cut of 134 pages from the manuscript.

I had 40 illustrations embedded in the text of the previous version of the book.  Now it has just 9 embedded illustrations (and 4 of those are new).  Most of the cut illustrations will be put into the Picture Section.

I doubt that I'll be able to cut much more than another page or two when I go through the manuscript to complete the conversion.  Fully converting the book into manuscript format still requires:

1.  Changing all italics to underlining.
2.  Changing footnote numbers from tiny superscript numbers 1 to [1]
3.  Re-doing the hyphenation and justification.
4.  Inserting a pound sign (#) where there's a blank line between paragraphs.

But, before I do that, I'm going to work on the Picture Section.  The pictures will be in color (if I have copies in color) on 8½ X 11 format pages for the manuscript.  I won't create a Picture Section for the 6x9 book until it's certain that I'll be self-publishing.

I cut 3 chapters from the book.  It now has 45 chapters.  I cut chapter 42 down to just two pages, and then merged those pages into Chapter 43.  And I merged Chapter 46 into Chapter 48 and dropped chapter 47 completely.  Chapter 47 was titled "Leftover Evidence" and was about the handwriting.  The images from that chapter will go into the Picture Section, and the captions under the images will do all the necessary explaining.

If all goes well, I'll be sending out a query to a literary agent on Monday, using a referral.  If that query fails, I have a second referral I can use to query another agency.

July 10, 2012 - This is definitely off-topic, but NASA's web site today has a video about .... well, I'm not sure what it's about.  But it's enjoyable watching.  Click HERE.

July 8, 2012 - Last week, there was very little discussion on my interactive blog, almost no emails, and absolutely no media news about the anthrax attacks.  So, I was able to concentrate on cutting unnecessary material from my book, including doing a second pass through the first eight chapters to polish them a bit.  Here are the results so far:
  
     Chapter Words-Old   Words-New   Change  Total Change
      Intro      606         550      -56        -56
        1      2,122       2,752      630        574
        2      3,951       2,392   -1,559       -985
        3      2,318       1,994     -324     -1,309
        4      4,076       3,768     -308     -1,617
        5      2,155       1,804     -351     -1,968
        6      2,918       2,319     -599     -2,567
        7      3,072       1,670   -1,402     -3,969
        8      4,133       3,116   -1,017     -4,986
        9      3,830       3,035     -795     -5,781
       10      1,206       1,201       -5     -5,786
       11      3,448       2,485     -963     -6,749
       12      2,229       1,951     -278     -7,027
       13      2,896       2,288     -608     -7,635
       14      2,498       2,439      -59     -7,694
       15      3,918       3,348     -570     -8,264
       16      2,500       1,501     -999     -9,263
       17      1,863       1,528     -335     -9,598
       18      1,792       1,498     -294     -9,892
       19      3,250       2,911     -339    -10,231
       20      3,205       2,837     -368    -10,599
       21      3,594       2,864     -730    -11,329
       22      1,849       1,289     -560    -11,889
       23      4,037       3,308     -729    -12,618
       24      4,164       2,969   -1,195    -13,813
       25      3,190       2,750     -440    -14,253
       26      3,032       2,880     -152    -14,405
       27      2,351       2,363       12    -14,393
       28      2,568       1,958     -610    -15,003
       29      3,466       3,058     -408    -15,411
       30      3,051       2,271     -780    -16,191
       31      2,392       2,128     -264    -16,455
       32      4,669       3,424   -1,245    -17,700
       33      2,237       1,795     -442    -18,142

The chart above can also be used as an example of the kind of detail I put on this site that wouldn't work very well in a book intended to be an exciting "page turner" read.  In such a book, all I'd need to write is that, when I completed chapter 33, I'd cut over 18,000 words and 68 pages from the 6x9 book version, and that computes to about 105 manuscript pages.  With 15 chapters left to go, I will probably end up cutting roughly 150 pages from the manuscript, give or take a few pages.

And, I think the book is about 1,000% improved.  I can't believe how much unnecessary and repetitive material I had in the book.  It took a month of waiting and a whack on the side of the head to get me to see it.

And that's even though I put back the information about Ivins possibly being the sender of the J-Lo letter.   I re-worded the information to make it fit with the other similarly "coded" letters and materials Ivins sent to Mara Linscott.

I also noticed something I hadn't noticed before.  After I cut a few bits of material from Chapter 27, I realized that the chapter contained two things that seemed related: (1) The discovery in August 2002 of which mailbox had been used for the mailings and (2) Ivins suddenly in September 2002 confiding in Mara that he'd burglarized some KKG offices.

That made me think about how the finding of the mailbox must have really shaken Ivins up.  He'd done everything he could to prevent spores from leaking from the envelopes, so he would never have imagined that the mailbox would be located because spores had leaked from the envelopes.  They were already leaking from the envelopes when he dropped them into the mailbox!  He would have wondered what else he had failed to account for.  He had thought his crime would be perfect and extremely clever.  But, it turned out that he had made one stupid mistake after another.  

After the finding of the mailbox he used for the anthrax mailing, you'd think that Ivins would take precautions to NEVER mention his connection to the KKG sorority to anyone, since the mailbox was the closest mailbox to the sorority office in Princeton.  Yet, he very soon began talking to Mara about his KKG burglaries, probably in an attempt to convince her that he wasn't responsible for some of the things he did.  They were the results of his uncontrollable obsessions.

So, I moved paragraphs around and added a few additional comments to connect the discovery of the mailbox to Ivins confessing to the KKG burglaries to Mara.  I don't know exactly what was on his mind, of course, but his confession clearly seems to have been prompted by the mailbox discovery.

And, while putting myself inside Ivins' mind, I couldn't help but revisit an old question I've had ever since the mailbox was discovered.  I just cannot believe that anyone - not Ivins nor anyone - would use the same mailbox for both mailings.  Anyone but Ivins would probably have gone off in one direction to find a mailbox for the first mailing, and off in a totally different direction to find a mailbox for the second mailing.  He'd be worried that every mailbox near where the first letters had been mailed might be under surveillance - even if there was no news about the first letters. 

I really feel that Ivins most likely mailed the media letters from a mailbox in Franklin Park (location C in the map below), about 10 miles closer to Newark (location D) where some of the 9/11 hijackers had boarded their aircraft.  Yes, I know that there was no return address on the media letters, but the facts indicate that Ivins wanted to use the Franklin Park return address on the media letters.  He just couldn't do it because, at the time, the child's handwriting was too large to fit both the address and a return address on an envelope, and trying to do so would make it obvious that a child had addressed the envelopes, not a Muslim terrorist whose writing was "child-like."

Map Frederick MD to Newark NJ 
Three weeks later, when it came time to do the second mailing, Ivins either got nervous about getting too close to the first mailbox, or he wasted too much time looking over the KKG office, and he decided to just mail the second batch of letters from Princeton
(location B in the map above)

I keep thinking the crude powder in the first letters wouldn't leak until after the letters had gone through the postal equipment.  That would explain why no mailbox in Franklin Park contained spores.   Thus, the spores found in the mailbox in Princeton were all from the second mailing and the purified powder in those envelopes.

The Summary Report says,

The four envelopes recovered from Capitol Hill, the New York Post, and NBC each contained a Trenton, New Jersey postmark, but investigators learned that 48 postal offices and 625 street mail collection boxes fed into the Trenton mail processing facility. Each one of those mailboxes had to be swabbed for the presence of anthrax contamination to identify the specific box from which the letters originated. FBI Laboratory and Field operational response personnel swabbed 621 mailboxes. Analysis of those swabbings allowed investigators to identify a heavily contaminated blue street-side box located across the street from the main entrance to Princeton University, at 10 Nassau Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08542. After several months of investigation, investigators concluded in August 2002 that this was the box from which all of the attack letters were mailed.

Maybe.  But, I think there's a very high probability that only the second mailing used that mailbox. 

However, I don't see it as so important that I'm going to say so in my book.  It's more of a feeling than a theory or hypothesis.  There are NO solid facts supporting it.  But, as far as I know, there are also NO facts which disprove it.  I just cannot imagine Ivins - or anyone committing such a crime so far from home - using the same mailbox twice.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, July 1, 2012, thru Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 3, 2012 - Yesterday, I received three very large photographs from the FBI in response to an FOIA request I made about a month ago.  None was exactly what I expected.  The first picture is the one FBI agent Darin Steele took on October 15, 2001 of John Ezzell holding the Daschle letter and envelope against the window of Ezzell's lab:

Daschle letter and envelope

The bad paint job around the window is strangely fascinating and unexpected.   It makes USAMRIID's labs seem like what they were - old and run-down.

Here's the version from ProPublica.com and CNN:

Daschle letter and envelope

On the copy sent to me, the FBI decided to redact Ezzell's image for privacy reasons (reasons b6 and b7C).   The effects of accidentally dipping the edge of the envelope into bleach can be clearly seen.   This picture can help illustrate how embarrassed Ezzell must have felt about his mistake.  The envelope and letter were in perfect condition minutes before, when Darin Steele gave them to Ezzell.

The second photograph I received is a large photo of the back of the Daschle envelope:
Daschle envelope back

I'd expected to see the Scotch tape more clearly.   I wanted to see how Ivins took special precautions to make certain the corners and flap were tightly taped.  But I can barely make out only a few edges of the tape in the large version of the above photo.  The fact that the envelope is inside a plastic bag makes the tape even more difficult to see.  I had expected a color version of this photo from the NAS CD (Auxilliary Documents, page 117):

Daschle envelope - taped corners
   
But, it turns out that the above photo isn't an ordinary photo taken under ordinary light.  It's a photo taken using special wave lengths of light in order to see the bar code more clearly.  And, it's not the Daschle envelope.  Instead of that photo, the FBI sent me this picture of the barcode on the back of the Daschle envelope:
Daschle envelope bar code

It's clearly not the same envelope picture from the NAS CD.  And, it doesn't show the entire envelope.  It does, however, show that a separate piece of tape was used to tape the bottom left corner.  And in the black & white photo, it looks like a separate piece of tape was used to tape the bottom right corner of that envelope.

So, the two pictures of the back of the Daschle envelope aren't exactly what I expected, but I didn't know exactly what I expected to see, anyway.  Plus, the barcode picture will still make a good addition to the pictures section of my book, and I can also include the photo of John Ezzell holding up the letter and envelope without worrying about any risk of invading his privacy by using a photo of him in my book without permission.

July 1, 2012 - I think I'm making good progress on the revisions to my book.  The most difficult part is revising the "setup" and "backstory," i.e., the first seven chapters where Ivins' personal history and his work are described, so that the reader can understand what happens later.  I also had to decide if the revisions should be to the 6x9 book version or to the manuscript version.  I decided to do it to the 6x9 book, which can be more easily converted to a manuscript than vice versa.   Here are the results so far:

Chapter Words-Old   Words-New  Change  Total Change
 Intro      606         550     -56        -56
   1      2,122       2,677    +555       +499
   2      3,951       2,282  -1,669     -1,170
   3      2,318       2,021    -297     -1,467
   4      4,076       3,824    -252     -1,719
   5      2,155       1,912    -243     -1,962
   6      2,918       2,593    -325     -2,287
   7      3,072       1,681  -1,391     -3,678
   8      4,133       3,637    -496     -4,174
  
That's a cut of about 16%.  Chapter 8 is where Ivins sends out the first anthrax letters.  I think I can cut a lot more from chapters later in the book.  And the numbers above will be changing, since they just represent the "first cut," and some polishing is needed to make the narrative flow more smoothly.

I've also had to reconsider what I wrote on June 7 about using lots of pictures and charts merged into the text of my book.   A picture may be worth a thousand words, but those thousand words can sometimes be just more unnecessary words.  And they can be very distracting when the reader is captured and intrigued by the flow of the narrative.  In Chapter 3, I used two different pictures to show what spores look like.  I only needed one.  A floor plan for Suite B-3 may be needed within the narrative, and I may need one for Building 1425, but pictures of Ivins' office and lab can all be placed into a picture section, separate from the narrative.  The same with the floorplan for his office. 

When you write screenplays, they tell you that you shouldn't mention anything that isn't important.   If you mention a broom sitting in a corner, that broom needs to be used later in the story.  The floorplan of Ivins' office might be interesting visually, but if it's in the narrative, it has to be more than interesting - it has to be important to the story.

The book is supposed to be a "narrative non-fiction" book intended for people who read for enjoyment, not a school text book for students in a criminology class.  That doesn't mean I won't be using all the charts, floorplans and pictures.  It just means that, as with David Willman's book, Jeanne Guillemin's book, Marilyn Thompson's book and Robert Graysmith's book, the bulk of the illustations can all go into a separate picture section outside of the narrative, inserted somewhere in the middle of the book.  On June 7, I didn't understand why publishers typically did things that way.  Now I do.

If I had some time, I'd probably do some research to see if there's some kind of left brain/right brain conflict or gear-shifting that takes place when the images you create in your mind by reading a narrative are suddenly interrupted by viewing an actual image that isn't much like what you'd imagined.

Meanwhile, the Anthrax Truthers have gone quiet and stopped posting to my interactive blog, which also helps me focus on making the cuts and changes.  For what it's worth, here's a graph showing the number of daily visitors to this web site versus visitors to the main Anthrax Truther site:

Site Statistics June 2012

The surge in visitors on June 12 was the result of the
Cracked.com article.  The uptick for the last few days of the month is so far unexplained.  I haven't had time to dig into the logs to search for an explanation.  For the month of June, my site got roughly 3 times as many visitors as the Truther site.

It's mid-year, so I also have to do complete backups of all my computer files today. 

Busy, busy, busy. 

Updates & Changes: Sunday, June 24, 2012, thru Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 29, 2012 - Someone just sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal article titled "Your E-book Is Reading You."  It describes how E-book publishers can tell how many E-book pages you read a day, what phrases you highlight in the book, where you quit if you decide you don't want to read any further, etc.  One sentence really hit home:

Barnes & Noble has determined, through analyzing Nook data, that nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts, while novels are generally read straight through, and that nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier.

Except for too much detail, I think my book is pretty good after about page 53 in the 706 page manuscript.  On page 53, the back-story is over and Ivins begins the preparatory work for the anthrax letters.  So, I think it's just the opening chapters of my book that need careful revising.  The rest mostly just needs trimming.

The WSJ article says that nearly 18,000 people highlighted this sentence in the second book in "The Hunger Games" series:

"Because sometimes things happen to people and they're not equipped to deal with them."

On the other hand, it's nice when things happen to people that they are equipped to deal with.  They learn from their mistakes and they can move forward more quickly.
 

June 28, 2012 - A well-known writer just gave me another agent referral.  So, when I finish the overhaul of my book, I'll have another literary agent to contact. 

Some of the mistakes I made in the first version of the manuscript - in addition to it being too long - are vividly apparent now.  For example, on page 2 of the Introduction, I mentioned that Ivins committed suicide before he could explain all of his actions.  The book is organized somewhat like a "thriller," but one thing you don't want to do when writing a "thriller" is tell the reader on the second page what happens at the end.

I just wasn't thinking about the people who might read the book with almost no prior knowledge of the case - such as literary agents and publishers.

The new manuscript will begin on page 17 of the old version.  When I was writing screenplays I knew enough to start with a "grabber," something to grab the attention of the audience.  Yet, the first 16 pages of the old manuscript were mostly about Ivins' early life, his problems with his mother and father, etc.  No "grabber" there.  In the new version, I'll begin with him committing his first burglary.  And, I'll provide necessary details about his early life later, when he starts talking with psychiatrists. 

The experience of the past month has also given me enough confidence in the book to try contacting other writers I know to see if they'll give me a referral if the one I currently have fails.  I didn't have the confidence to ask before.  Now I'm thinking that there's no harm in trying.  The worst that can happen is they'll say no.

June 27, 2012 - After consulting with the other agent who works full-time on non-fiction books, the agent who was reading my book turned it down.  Here's what she wrote:

So I've spoken to [redacted] and she too felt the manuscript was way too long.  That it needs to come down 200 pages.  She was also concerned about the urgency of the subject.  While you are definitely the guy to tell the story, several Anthrax books have been published over the years -- most back in early 2000.   This market is extremely tough-- neither one of us feel a trade house would step up.  At least not at this point.  Of course, you could always try a University Press.

So, there are two major problems: (1) The manuscript is far too long, and (2) she doesn't see any market for a new book about the anthrax case at this time.

Both comments are very helpful to me. 

(1) I failed to fully realize that the book needs to be aimed toward the average reader of "true crime" books, NOT toward the tiny group of Anthrax Truthers I've been arguing with for the past ten years.  The book is loaded with things that people wouldn't care about if they are only interested in reading a good crime story.  Yesterday, I went through chapters 1 - 8 of the 706 page manuscript to see what I could cut, and I cut 20 pages out of the first 130.  That's about 15%.  (Cutting 200 pages from 706 would be about 28%.)

For example, I cut a couple pages where I stepped through Ivins' in-out logs for Sept. 11, 2001, to show what could be deduced and understood from each line on the log.  But who cares?  That's too much detail.  I also cut what I wrote about how the facts suggest that Ivins may have sent the J-Lo letter.   The typical reader wouldn't even remember the J-Lo letter, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the evidence against Ivins, so why even mention it?  I mentioned it because it was a big issue with Anthrax Truthers.  But, no one else would care about it.

(2) Showing the book to the agent reminded me that she and the "average" book reader probably don't remember much about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  The agent suggested I try a "University Press" because the book is filled with scientific details that only professors and scientists would find interesting.  It wasn't my intention to write a book for scientists or professors.  It was my intention to write an interesting book about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  I now realize that all that unnecessary detail prevents it from being interesting to the typical book reader.

So, this had been like a whack on the side of the head.  It got my attention, it showed me the error of my ways, and it will cause me to change directions.  I've already started work on a new draft of the 6x9 paperback I plan to self-publish.  I'm applying all the changes I made to the manuscript yesterday, and I'll make more as I go along.   Cutting and trimming is the easiest part of editing a book.  Plus, while I was cutting unnecessary detail, I made several very important improvements, moving some material from chapter 7 to chapter 3, reversing the order in which some other facts are presented, and adding a couple new important illustrations (while deleting many others). 

The agent's door is not totally closed.  If the Anthrax Truthers are right and the General Accountability Office rejects the FBI's findings (or if they create headlines in any way), the agent might see a market for the book opening up.  The same with the pending release of Ivins' personal emails.  Anything that makes headlines could cause the agent to have second thoughts about the market for a new book about the anthrax attacks.

Right now, she seems to think that the market is fully saturated with books on the subject.  And, since she evidently hasn't read any of the other books, she had no way of knowing that my book has totally new material that would be wildly controversial among the Anthrax Truthers and scientists who are ignorant of the facts of the case but still feel they need to voice angry opinions in public.

So, while I may have a slight case of "rejection-slip shock," I've also seen the error of my ways, and I now think a month or so of cutting and revising could result in a truly sensational book geared to a much much larger audience.     


June 26, 2012 - When I did a Google news search for "anthrax" this morning, a news article popped up titled "The terrifying harassment faced by climate change scientists."  It's subtitled "Anthrax scares, public humiliation, and death threats are all in a day's work for some climatologists."  The article begins with this:

1. Harassment is routine
Climate-change deniers often threaten scientists in attempts to distract them from their research — and the harassment goes beyond nasty emails. One climate modeler describes finding "a dead rat on his doorstep" with "a yellow Hummer speeding away." Last year in Australia, several scientists were ushered to a safer facility when opponents "unleashed a barrage of vandalism, noose brandishing, and threats of sexual attacks on the scientists' children." Michael Mann, director of Penn State University's Earth System Science Center and one of the 2007 joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, once opened his mail and "a small mass of white powder cascaded out of the folds and onto his fingers." He went to the bathroom, washed his hands, and calmly phoned the police. Threats like "are so much a part of my life that I don't even realize how weird it is," he says.

Climate-change deniers?  I'd probably call them Climate Change Truthers.  They believe they know the "truth" about climate change, and they harass those who look at the facts and disagree.  Seems like a very familiar situation.

June 25, 2012 - The literary agent reading my book responded to my email this morning by saying,

Fascinating and I think you are the person to write this book.  Clearly the authority on the subject.  My concern is length -- I think this needs to come down at least 150 pages ...

She's consulting with another agent who specializes in non-fiction books, and she'll be getting back to me in a day or two.

I knew the book was too long, but I was too wrapped up in it to figure out what to cut.  Having taken a month off from doing revisions may now allow me to get a better view of what can be trimmed.  I don't know if I can cut 150 pages from the 706 page manuscript, but I can certainly give it a try. 

June 24, 2012 (B) - "Anonymous" sent me an email pointing out an error I made in this morning's comment.  I wrote this:

He's clearly on a crusade to convince the world that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks, and he apparently sees it as his duty to create trouble for anyone who disagrees with his theory - i.e., anyone arguing against "the truth."

"Anonymous" reminded me that "there are numerous people who disagree [with him] that supporters of Dr. Ayman are responsible and they are all regular correspondents and friends."  So, I had to go back to change what I wrote.  The comment now says:

He's clearly on a crusade to convince the world that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks, and he apparently sees it as his duty to create trouble for anyone who disagrees with all versions of the al Qaeda theory - i.e., anyone arguing against "the truth."

He doesn't try to make trouble for others who have their own unique al Qaeda theories, he only makes trouble for those (like me) who disagree with all al Qaeda theories.   He also seems to be saying that those with al Qaeda theories do not agree on facts, but they share a common belief that al Qaeda was responsible for the anthrax attacks of 2001.

June 24, 2012 (A) - I'm getting fidgety.  I'm anxious to start working on the final draft of my new book where I also do the actual typesetting for the 6x9 paperback.   Last week, I asked the FBI's FOIA person to send me the pictures she has found, and to send me the picture of Ivins in his lab later, if or when she finds it.  I don't know when Ivins' personal emails will start showing up on the FBI's vault page or if they'll contain anything that should be added to my book.  I don't know when (or if) the General Accountability Office will release its review of the Amerithrax case, or if they'll have anything to say that could impact my book.  And, I don't know how the agent who is reading my book is going to respond when I email her tomorrow to ask for an update.

I don't know how long writing the "final draft" and the "typesetting" will take.  Probably a couple weeks at least, maybe longer.  If some significant new information is released while I'm working, I can just do another "final draft" to incorporate the new materials.  Nothing will be firmly locked in until I get to the point where I have placed a print order and sent a CD with the pdf files to the printer, which will be at least a month from now - if the literary agent decides against representing my book.

Last week, I added about a page of new material to the very end of the book.  While reading the last chapter over to see where the new material should be added, I noticed a few typos that I hadn't spotted before.   The longer between readings, the easier it is to spot typos.  Typos are something else I'll be looking for as I work on the "final" draft.

Speaking of typos: When I sent the 705-page manuscript to the literary agent via email, I combined the cover, the Table of Contents, the List of Exhibits, the Introduction, and the first 16 chapters into the first big .doc file.  And I sent the rest of the chapters in two groups of 16.  What I didn't realize when I did that was that the Table of Contents and List of Exhibits were on pages ii - vi.  So, when I attached the Introduction and the first 16 chapters, the page numbers automatically converted to vii - ccli.  Chapter 17 and the second file start on page 246.  Presumably, the agent realized what happened.

That mistake might even be viewed as appropriate for a book which describes how just about everyone working on, reporting on, or criticizing the Amerithrax case made silly errors.   Even Bruce Ivins made one silly mistake after another.

If the agent decides to represent the book, she'll probably have a list of recommended changes and/or corrections that need to be done first.  Hopefully, everything can be fixed at once.

Meanwhile, "Anonymous" from my interactive blog sent me an email implying that he figured out who the agent is and has contacted her.  He sent me this on Wednesday:

she's decided not to take you on both because of the lack of qualifications and because of your voice and immature style (deleting things and mischaracterizing them) - she has examples

I probably made a mistake in writing too much in my comments on this site about the literary agent and particularly how we made contact.  The email from "Anonymous" is probably just a false claim intended to upset me, but "Anonymous" will create trouble for me if he can.  He makes no secret of the fact that, in November 2007, he contacted The Washington Post, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal (and probably many other news organizations) to tell them that I was violating copyrights by having copies of their articles on this web site.  That's why the three companies who purchased reprint rights from those news organizations sent me Cease & Desist letters.  And, as I've said many times, I can't name scientists who help me because he'll also contact those scientists to tell them what he thinks of them for communicating with "a person like Ed Lake."   He's clearly on a crusade to convince the world that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks, and he apparently sees it as his duty to create trouble for anyone who disagrees with
all versions of the al Qaedas theory - i.e., anyone arguing against "the truth."

He has also sent me emails falsely claiming I have viruses on my web site, and he's telephoned people who he seems to believe should sue me because of what I've written on this site.  He called some woman in Ohio who I never heard of, but who he thought I had suggested was the mother of the child who wrote the anthrax letters.  He contacted the man in Wisconsin who I thought for awhile (but never named) might be the anthrax mailer.  And he repeatedly identified the guy on various forums, stating he's the guy I suspect.  I could go on and on with what he's done during the past ten years.

Why do I even bother exchanging blog posts with him?  Good question.  Years ago, I removed him from my email list-serve forum, but he still posts to it because he knows the address.  I blocked his emails to detect@newsguy.com, but now he just sends his emails to my "private" email address, where I almost never reply to him.  Again and again I've deleted his postings to my interactive blog, but after a while, he'll start posting things that aren't personal attacks or distortions of the facts, and I'll let them go through.   Then, before long, he'll return to his tactics of personal attacks, distorted truths and posting irrelevant material.

One problem is: Lew Weinstein banned me from his site because I argued against his beliefs and the beliefs of others on his site.  I don't want to totally ban "Anonymous" from my blog, since they'd then argue that I'm afraid of what they have to say.

Another problem is: I really enjoy discussing the facts of the case with other people, and I try to get Anthrax Truthers to discuss what they see as "facts" in order to get their points of view and to understand (and show the world) what it is they really believe. 

Yesterday, as a good example, "Joseph from Spain" posted a message to my interactive blog which showed that he has a whole bunch of misunderstandings.  Replying to such messages and correcting his errors helps me understand all the various details, too.  I'm a firm believer in the adage that you do not truly understand something until you can explain it to others and get them to understand it, too.  And, of course, that's why I wrote my book: to explain the case so that others can understand the case, too.

Until a week or so ago, I looked upon "Anonymous" as a spokesperson for a fairly large group of Anthrax Truthers.  But, after studying what various people use as reasoning for believing that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks, I now see that "Anonymous" is only a spokesperson for himself, and the number of people who still believe al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks is apparently a very very small group.  Anonymous's "al Qaeda theory" is different from other "al Qaeda theories."  So, "Anonymous" seems to be a minority of one promoting his own personal unique theory.

I was somewhat surprised when no one making comments to the
Cracked.com web site article titled "6 Famous News Stories That Forgot to Tell You the Best Part" argued in support of an al Qaeda theory.  I was also surprised at how few visitors to my site have bothered to look at the new web page I created last week titled "The illogical al Qaeda Theory."  Since schools are out, I only get an average of 380 visitors per day to this web site right now.  Many of those are people who just come in via Google or other search engines to look at some news article on my site, or to read my web pages about handwriting or about van der Waals forces.   I thought that more people who visit by directly accessing my main page to read my comments would want to take a look at the al Qaeda theory page.  But, it appears that - like the pdf files about Ivins lab and office - most of my readers just aren't interested in that kind of detail.

Here are the number of people who visited my main page each day last week along with a list of which of them actually looked at the new al Qaeda theory page:

Sunday: 144 visitors entering via the main page
17/Jun/2012:09:44:32 - Me, checking to verify the upload was okay.
17/Jun/2012:10:12:46 - Google
17/Jun/2012:13:06:44 - Nuremberg, Germany
17/Jun/2012:15:36:06 - Regular visitor in Canada
17/Jun/2012:15:49:53 - Regular visitor at Purdue University

Monday: 143 visitors entering via the main page
18/Jun/2012:01:13:39 - Madrid, Spain
18/Jun/2012:08:34:57 - New visitor, St. Louis, MO
18/Jun/2012:13:32:28 - Kiev, Ukraine

Tuesday: 180 visitors entering via the main page
19/Jun/2012:01:06:31 - Google
19/Jun/2012:01:24:29 - Nottingham, England
19/Jun/2012:03:15:38 - Google
19/Jun/2012:04:29:34 - Search engine?  Palo Alto, CA
19/Jun/2012:09:57:04 - Bucharest, Romania
19/Jun/2012:13:14:22 - Regular visitor at Purdue University
19/Jun/2012:21:35:59 - Washington, DC
19/Jun/2012:22:12:29 - Ivrea, Italy
19/Jun/2012:23:20:24 - Canada

Wednesday: 160 visitors entering via the main page
20/Jun/2012:01:39:41 - Chinese search engine
20/Jun/2012:02:31:19 - Donetsk, Ukraine
20/Jun/2012:15:18:26 - Beijing, China

Thursday: 149 visitors entering via the main page
21/Jun/2012:07:38:25 - Preili, Latvia
21/Jun/2012:08:47:41 - Hong Kong
21/Jun/2012:09:58:24 - Madison, Wisconsin
21/Jun/2012:10:03:06 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
21/Jun/2012:22:50:01 - Google

Friday: 155
visitors entering via the main page
22/Jun/2012:08:32:14 - Madrid, Spain
22/Jun/2012:18:00:22 - Microsoft
22/Jun/2012:21:02:27
- Search engine?  Palo Alto, CA

Saturday: 138 visitors entering via the main page
23/Jun/2012:08:51:19 - Google
23/Jun/2012:11:23:33 - San Antonio, Texas
23/Jun/2012:11:37:33 - Regular in Memphis, TN

So, it appears that most people who visit this site don't care how illogical "the al Qaeda Theory" is.  They probably already know how illogical it is.

Surprisingly, although "Anonymous" is a regular visitor - sometimes visiting multiple times per day - he hasn't bothered to view the new supplemental page, either.  I assume he doesn't care what I consider to be logical or illogical.

There's another factor, too:  People who have written me in the past have indicated that they don't like to click on links, because they're afraid of viruses.  Through past experience, they know they can access my site without any great risk of getting a virus, but they won't click on any links on my site that take them elsewhere - even if the link just takes them to another page on my site.  I can understand their concerns.  I've picked up a virus or two over the years.  Although none did any serious harm, they can be scary.  And I have anti-virus software in place to protect me from most problems.  Plus, I've also been working with computers for nearly fifty years, and I frequently back-up all my files, which I hope means I have a better-than-average understanding of the risks when I step into unknown territory.  Knock wood.

So, I'll continue to click on every link that might take me somewhere interesting, and I'll continue to argue with people who I should probably just ignore.  It's too late to stop now.  The end is in sight.  One way or another, my book is going to get published.  And, sooner or later it's going to be very clear that there is nothing more of significance to be learned about the anthrax attacks of 2001. 

There will evidently always be a few people arguing their personal theory about the JFK assassination, or about whether or not Americans actually went to the moon, or whether the anthrax attacks were staged by Dick Cheney in order to start a war with Iraq, but they will be generally viewed as "the Lunatic Fringe" who, like ants and cockroaches, will always be around somewhere pestering people.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, June 17, 2012, thru Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 21, 2012 - Hmm.  I was just browsing through my personal library, and I came across a book titled "Absolute Zero Gravity" by Betsy Devine and Joel E. Cohen that I probably bought about 20 years ago.  Skimming through it, I found what might be viewed as the way that the National Academy of Sciences - if asked - might require that product warning labels be written.  Here's part of such a warning label:

WARNING: This Product Attracts Every Other Piece of Matter in the Universe, Including the Products of Other Manufacturers, with a Force Proportional to the Product of the Masses and Inversely Proportional to the Square of the Distance Between Them.

warning label
     ADVISORY:  There Is an Extremely Small But Nonzero Chance That, Through a Process Known as "Tunneling," This Product May Spontaneously Disappear from Its Present Location and Reappear at Any Random Place in the Universe, Including Your Neighbor's Domicile.  The Manufacturer Will Not Be Responsible for Any Damages or Inconvenience That May Result.
     THIS IS A 100% MATTER PRODUCT: In the Unlikely Event That This Merchandise Should Contact Antimatter in Any Form, a Catastrophic Explosion Will Result.
     ATTENTION:  Despite Any Other Listing of Product Contents Found Hereon, the Consumer is Advised That, in Actuality, This Product Consists of 99.999999999999% Empty Space.

And, since I'm on the subject of science: it may be off-topic, but click here to view an excellent video of the transit of Venus that occurred on June 11 and won't happen again until the year 2117.  It shows the transit in different wave lengths, all very spectacular.

June 19, 2012 - Ah!  Someone who believes "The illogical al Qaeda Theory" decided to argue parts of it on my interactive blog.  First "Anonymous" argued that a sample from flask RMR-1029 was given to an al Qaeda agent in May 1998.  But, the facts show that no sample was taken from flask RMR-1029 before September 17, 1998.   When confronted with those facts, "Anonymous" then argued that Bruce Ivins stated in an email that "it was NOT standard practice" to record the transfer of samples of the Ames strain within USAMRIID.  "Anonymous" implied that that meant that samples from flask RMR-1029 would have been distributed all over the place without any record.  I pointed out to him that that would mean that the numbers on the Receipt Material Record would not add up.  But they DO add up.  Therefore, NO samples from flask RMR-1029 were given out without recording it.  Plus, the FBIR found 606 samples of Ames at USAMRIID, and only 7 had the mutations that were in flask RMR-1029.  So, that further proves that samples from flask RMR-1029 were not distributed without documentation.  The facts showed that "Anonymous" was taking a comment by Ivins out of context and distorting it to fit his beliefs.  (Ivins' email is on page 30 of batch 55.)  

I love it when Anthrax Truther try to argue facts.  They almost always either get the facts wrong or distort them to make them mean something they don't really mean.   And this argument was about how al Qaeda obtained a sample from flask RMR-1029, which means it was a very critical part of the Anthrax Truther's argument.  And it's bogus.


June 18, 2012 - Hmm.  I was just reading a Washington Post article titled "Anthrax alert system at risk as cost estimate hits $5.7 billion."  While it's about how Bruce Ivins actions are still piling up costs, the article doesn't mention Ivins.  Instead, it says,

BioWatch was developed after it took more than two weeks to identify what was killing U.S. citizens during the anthrax attacks in 2001, said Leonard Cole, an adjunct professor at Rutgers University’s Newark branch, and author of the book, “The Anthrax Letters.’’

Letters laced with anthrax were sent through the mail and resulted in five deaths, including two postal workers and a newspaper photo editor. Another 17 people became ill. No one has been charged in the attacks, Chris Allen, a Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman, said by telephone.

“Before BioWatch, we were all canaries in a coal mine,’’ Cole said in a phone interview. “Only after people dropped dead or became ill did we understand that a pathogen was floating around.’’

Evidently, The Washington Post wants the case to be considered "unsolved."  One has to wonder what question was asked of Chris Allen to get the response he gave.

June 17, 2012
I still haven't heard from the literary agent who is reading my book.  When she emailed to me on June 5th, she wrote that she'd try her best to get back to me by late last week.  She didn't do so.  That means I have to assume that she's either still busy with something else, or she's been reading my book but still isn't ready to make a decision about it.  I'll give her until Monday the 25th before I email her again to ask for an update.

This morning, I uploaded the initial version of a new supplemental web page titled "The Illogical al Qaeda Theory."  It examines various versions of "the al Qaeda theory" to show how illogical they are, particularly when one version is matched with another.  Of course, they are all totally based upon beliefs, and there isn't a shred of real evidence supporting any version of the theory that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks.

Interestingly, there doesn't appear to be anyone who supports "the al Qaeda Theory" in the 1,075 (as of this moment) comments that follow the Cracked.com article where the anthrax case is one of "6 Famous News Stories That Forgot to Tell You the Best Part." So, it would appear that only a few "True Believers" still believe in "the al Qaeda Theory," but those few make a lot more noise than the average Anthrax Truther who has an alternative theory about the case.

The problem with working on that new supplemental page is that it seems like such a waste of time.  It should be totally obvious that no version of "the al Qaeda theory" makes any sense.  But, in order to show that it makes no sense, I have to do research to see what each theorist appears to believe.  It's like trying to analyze the proverbial "Chinese Fire Drill," where everyone is babbling in a foreign language, no one makes any sense, and they're all running around every which way in a blind panic.

Showing how illogical their beliefs are will hopefully put them on the defensive.  Now, whenever they start arguing their illogical beliefs, I'll have a stock of critical questions to ask them that will show the holes in their case.         

Last week, I received a phone call from a researcher at the FBI who is working on fulfilling my FOIA request for some additional pictures that I would like to add to my book.  They have found all but one picture that I asked for, but, unfortunately that picture is probably the one that I want the most.  I gave her some hints as to where to look, but I fear that, since the picture wasn't taken by the FBI, it may not be something they can provide.   USAMRIID wasn't able to provide a copy.  I'm trying a third source, but it's a long shot, so I don't have much hope for that angle, either.

While the researcher was on the phone, I asked her about the Ivins emails that are supposed to be released via the FBI's "vault" web site sometime  soon.  She told me that "they are still working on them."  In other words, she doesn't know when they'll appear.  But, she said everyone who has asked about them will be notified when they are released.  

On my interactive blog, Richard Rowley resorted to personal insults, which means that I'll just be deleting all further messages he posts which do not directly address the facts of the case.  Arguing with him was becoming very tedious, anyway.

When dealing with Anthrax Truthers, they all resort to personal insults when they get frustrated because their nonsense isn't being believed.  It's just part of the process. 

Meanwhile, "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer") seems to be temporarily investigating a totally different case involving stolen art treasures.  Perhaps he feels his "success" in determining that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks means he's ready to take on another case.  And, there's a reward to go after, too.   The 103 messages he's posted so far on this subject haven't received a single response from anyone else.  He inexplicably attempts to connect it to the anthrax case by asking, "
Do FBI 302s point to solution of location of paintings stolen from the Isabella Gardner museum? Do FBI 302s, not yet uploaded, point to solution of Amerithrax?"

Do FBI 302s not yet uploaded explain the Meaning of Life?  It's possible.  But I wouldn't depend on it.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, June 10, 2012, thru Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 14, 2012 - While waiting for a response from the literary agent who is reading my book, I've been working on a new supplemental page for this web site which I will title "The [Illogical] al Qaeda Theory."  It will be based upon my June 12 comment.  This morning while doing research, I found a very interesting article titled "Crying Wolf: The Terrorist Crop Duster" which I evidently hadn't seen before, since I had to add the link to the References Section and make a copy for my archives.  It doesn't specifically debunk the idea that the 9/11 terrorists planned to use a crop-duster to spray anthrax.  It's more about debunking the basic idea that such using a crop-duster aircraft to spray anthrax over a large city would cause hundreds of thousands of casualties.

I also found an Anthrax Truther's article that I had read before, but which I didn't pay much attention to before.  It contains some details of an alternate al Qaeda theory which involves the Ames strain anthrax being stolen from George Mason University (which never had a sample from RMR-1029) and then re-grown in a lab in Canada.  That creates all sorts of logic problems with the lab in Afghanistan and the imagined "anthrax lesion" on al Haznawi's leg.  Another Anthrax Truther article, however, seems to say that the powder from Afghanistan was turned over to the mailer in Canada.

June 13, 2012 - When I checked my web site statistics this morning, I found that yesterday there was a significant jump in the number of people who visited this web site.  Looking at the "Top Referrers" chart, I found that the new visitors came from a link in an article on the Cracked.com web site titled "6 Famous News Stories That Forgot to Tell You the Best Part."  Number 6 in that list of "6 Famous News Stories" is "The Anthrax Attacks After 9/11 Were the Work of One Mentally Ill American Scientist."

Hmm.  Did someone forget to tell people that?

Since I've been thinking about and writing about the anthrax attacks of 2001 nearly every day for over 10 years, I sometimes forget that most of the rest of the world has forgotten about those attacks, and, according to Cracked.com, they don't even remember that Bruce Ivins was determined to be the anthrax killer.  The section of the article about the anthrax attacks says:

But no direct evidence appeared to tie it to al-Qaida. Months passed. Then years. We never got details about which terrorist cell orchestrated the attack, or how they got hold of a deadly bioweapon. Eventually, everybody kind of stopped talking about it. That's right -- we got bored with a story about terrorists sending weaponized diseases in the mail.

And the section concludes with this:

The FBI closed their investigation in 2010, basically saying that we can never know for certain if Ivins did it, and they can't declare him guilty without a trial (you can't try a man who is this dead), but they have nothing solid that points to anyone else, so that's that. It appears that the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks wasn't a terrorist at all, but a random crazy guy straight from the government's own labs.

So, that's why people weren't told the "best part" about the case.   There was no trial.  Thus, the culprit wasn't on TV every day for months and months.  People remember what they see on TV, but few remember print-media news stories.  And, evidently, the general public doesn't pay attention to cases which don't end in a jury trial.  So, they don't even remember that the FBI determined that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.

I remember.  And, the link in the article seems to have sent nearly 200 additional visitors to my site yesterday.  Because the article uses a graphic of mine about Ivins' overtime hours, I thought that the graphic might be a "hot link" and all the visits were really just "grabs" of the graphic.  But, no.  All the links are true links to my home page.  People clicked on the link that is under the graphic.     

 
And, when they did so, they found that there's at least one person who knew the "best part" of the Amerithrax case before Cracked.com pointed it out.

June 12, 2012 - For more than ten years, ever since October 2001, some Anthrax Truthers have been arguing that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001 - even though the facts clearly showed that to be extremely unlikely.   And, since Ivins' suicide in July 2008, the same people have been arguing that they still believe al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks, and how that means Bruce Ivins was innocent.

In July 2011, Pulitzer Prize winner Laurie Garrett clearly argued in favor of the al Qaeda Theory in her book "I Heard The Sirens Scream."  And, i
n February of 2012, Dr. David Relman seemed to be arguing in favor of the al Qaeda Theory in his review of Jeanne Guillemin's book "American Anthrax" in Science magazine.

So, exactly what is "The al Qaeda Theory"?  It appears that no one who believes the theory has ever bothered to try to explain it in detail, much less summarize the key details.  They just point out disconnected facts and imply those facts are all somehow connected, and they all point to al Qaeda.  (One True Believer has written an endless stream of incoherent details about the case, but it's all irrelevant details about who knew who and who was where at what time.)

Since no one who believes the theory will concisely summarize the theory, I'll try to summarize it here as best and as concisely as I can, based upon how I understand it:

1.  The belief is that some scientist member of al Qaeda (or just some Muslim scientist) was given a tour of USAMRIID at some point in time prior to 9/11.  While on the tour, the scientist sneaked away, somehow entered Biosafety Level 3 suite B-3 without being seen or leaving a record, and he swiped a sample from flask RMR-1029 which was in the cold storage room in that suite.

2.  Although there were many lethal strains of anthrax much more easily available to al Qaeda, the Ames strain was evidently deliberately chosen because it was easily killed by almost any antibiotic and had never been used in any bioweapon. 

3.  The sample from flask RMR-1029 was then transported to Afghanistan.

4.  In a laboratory in Kandahar, Afghanistan, al Qaeda scientists used the sample of Ames to make hundreds of pounds of new anthrax powder.

5.  The hundreds of pounds of powder were then transported to the United States in the months just prior to 9/11, apparently as luggage.  Along the way, 9/11 terrorist Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi  somehow got an anthrax infection on his leg.  And, 9/11 ring-leader Mohamed Atta had to seek treatment for his hands, which were red from the wrists down, probably as a result of repeatedly cleaning them with bleach, presumably to get kill any spores that might still be on his hands.

6.  In Florida, the 9/11 hijackers looked at crop duster aircraft which they planned to use to spray the hundreds of pounds of anthrax powder across some city, presumably in a plan to kill thousands of innocent Americans, maybe tens of thousands.  They even planned to install an extra tank next to the pilot to hold all the powder they had.

7.  But they couldn't get the loan they needed to buy the crop duster.  Evidently, because they were people who lived in desert countries, they didn't understand rain, and one day they must have left the hundreds of pounds of anthrax powder out in the rain, and it was nearly all washed away.  Suddenly, all they had left were about seven grams of powder, some crude, some refined. 

8.  Before leaving Florida, one part of the theory is that they put some anthrax powder into a rent envelope and gave it to their landlady, whose husband worked at American Media, Inc. (AMI)  That's one way the AMI building became contaminated with anthrax.  The 9/11 terrorists took the rest of the anthrax to New Jersey.

9.  But, then in New Jersey they must have been thinking about making more anthrax, since the theory says (according to Laurie Garrett) they visited a place near where a lyophilizer had been recently delivered.  But, another theory says it wasn't a lyophilizer, it was a particulate mixer.  Whatever it was, they must not have used it, since the belief is that the powder that was used was brought from Afghanistan.

10.  In New Jersey, one member of the team was chosen to stay behind and write letters to be sent out with the tiny supply of anthrax powders after the other team members had crashed airliners into the Twin Towers in New York and targets in Washington.

11.  Just before 9/11, however, the al Qaeda theory says that an al Qaeda member sent some anthrax and a love letter with a marriage proposal in a large envelope to movie star Jennifer Lopez, c/o The Sun, in Boca Raton, Florida.  The letter contained codes which identified the sender as al Qaeda.  According to the al Qaeda theory, "A planned marriage refers to a planned attack."  The al Qaeda theory says the anthrax in the J-Lo letter killed Bob Stevens

12.  A week after 9/11, according to the al Qaeda Theory, the al Qaeda member who had been left behind sent out the letters to Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and The New York Post.   The crude version of the anthrax powder was used to convince people that it was made in a garage in the USA, and not in a lab in Afghanistan.

13.  According to the al Qaeda theory, the letters were taped shut so that no one would be accidentally exposed.  Only the recipients would be affected by the powders.  And medical advice was included in the letter.  This is because anthrax is like a poison, and using poisons "would violate the hadiths."  But, this apparently only applies to sending anthrax by letters, it doesn't apply to spreading anthrax over tens of thousands of innocent people by using a crop duster aircraft.

14.  After three weeks, when the first batch of anthrax letters failed to achieve the panic that al Qaeda wanted, a new letter was written.  Then, copies of the letter and the last two grams of purified anthrax powder were put into envelopes and sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy.  Senator Leahy was specifically chosen because he was behind the "Leahy Law," but both were targeted because of "appropriations to military and security forces that have prevented the militant islamists from achieving their goals."

15.  After the anthrax letters killed 5 people and injured 17 others, al Qaeda was apparently happy that they left the hundreds of pounds of anthrax out in the rain to get washed away.  They continued to make threats and talk about plans to use anthrax, because they prefer to make threats instead of actually killing people with anthrax or poisons.  After all, that "would violate the hadiths."

16.  It is also a key part of the "al Qaeda theory" that the FBI failed to "connect the dots."  The FBI failed to find all the evidence that points to al Qaeda.  They failed to realize that the "false positives" from al Haznawi's body parts were actually "real positives."  They failed the realize that the 3 "false positives" from the lab in Afghanistan were also "real positives" and that the 1,254 negative results actually proved nothing.  The FBI failed to find all the anthrax that was going to be used in the crop duster.  The FBI failed to find all the connections between al Qaeda and the anthrax attacks that the Anthrax Truthers believe exist but which they cannot find for themselves. 

It also appears that nearly every person who has an "al Qaeda theory" has a theory that is slightly different from all other such theories.  So, there's no doubt that many who have an "al Qaeda theory" will disagree with some part of the explanation above.  If so, I welcome their suggestions about how the explanation can be improved.   If I get enough responses to make it worthwhile, I'll create a new supplemental web page for the theory and all of the requested modifications.

June 10, 2012 (B) - Doing his part to keep me amused during this period of waiting, "Anonymous" posted a comment to my interactive blog this morning stating:

David Relman expressly says the book such as the one you want to publish (your book is about how an imaginary First Grader of your focus wrote the anthrax letters) is not needed.

Yet you don't know that because you have not read his piece.

Don't you think before you try to get published you should inform yourself about what the experts are saying? I regularly offered to email you books and articles for free precisely so that you would correct your numerous mistakes.

Underlined in red below is what Dr. Relman actually wrote
in the Feb. 3, 2012 issue of Science magazine:

Relman Review

So, Dr. Relman is asking a question: Are more writings about the Amerithrax case needed?  He's not "expressly" stating that another book "is not needed."  I've clearly read the article more carefully than "Anonymous" has.  The answer to Dr. Relman's question is: YES, another book about Amerithrax is VERY MUCH NEEDED!

In his review
of Jeanne Gullemin's book "American Anthrax," Relman also wrote this:

But the book is more a retelling of the saga than an analysis of it.
 
Hmm.  My book IS an analysis of the "saga."  So, it is also needed for that reason.
 
Relman also complains that the science of the case is not adequately explained in Guillemin's book.  It's explained very carefully in my book, even to the point of showing how Dr. Relman's opinions about the case are ignorant, biased and misleading. 

I truly appreciate "Anonymous" and Dr. Relman showing how much my book is needed.


June 10, 2012  (A) -
I'm finding it very difficult to find things to do while waiting to see if the agent who has my book will decide to represent it.  This kind of waiting is something I've never been able to do very well.  I expect that she'll turn it down, but I'm hoping she won't.  I should find out sometime in the next 10 days or so ... maybe late this week.

I'm also waiting on responses to some Freedom Of Information Act requests I sent to the FBI and to USAMRIID.  I don't want to work on the "final" version of my book until I get the materials I requested, or until I find that the materials aren't available.   Will they release Ivins' personal emails from his home computer?  Will they release his emails that were found on other people's computers?  They told someone else that they were going to put them on the FBI's "vault" site, but there's been no sign of them so far.

I can't work on anything else.  I can't focus on anything else.

Arguments with Anthrax Truthers on my interactive blog help occupy my time a bit.  Last week's arguments showed me that I needed to add a few things to my book.  I wrote four new paragraphs related to how al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorists were eliminated as suspects, and I inserted the paragraphs into four different chapters in both the 6x9 version and the manuscript version of the book.  But, it's a pain in the neck to try to keep the two versions in sync.  Adding the new paragraphs didn't change the number of pages in the 6x9 book, but it added a page to the manuscript.  And, changing page numbers in the manuscript means that I have to go back to the Table of Contents and the List of Exhibits to revise the page numbers in those lists, too.  And, I don't know what kind of problem I may get into if the agent likes the version of the book I sent her, and then I tell her I've made some revisions.  Four paragraphs probably won't be a problem, but I don't think I should continue with revisions and additions until I know more about what's going to happen to the copy the agent is reading.

Many years ago, I worked with an agent who wanted to try to sell my novel "Clipper." 
It happened back in the 1980's, and I can't remember much about the process, but I recall he didn't like my use of the word "alright" and wanted me to change it to "all right," and remember he corrected me where I used the word "complement" when I should have used "compliment."  But, I can't remember any big changes he asked me to make before he would send it out.  I also remember he questioned me on whether plastic explosives were available in 1941.  I assured him they were.   French Freedom Fighters were using plastic explosives against the Germans in France at that time.

But every literary agent is a unique individual, so what happened with one agent doesn't necessarily apply to another agent.  In the 1980's we were sending out paper copies of the manuscript.  Do all publishers still require paper copies?  They seem to require that non-agent submissions be on paper.  But, what about literary agency submissions?

I probably shouldn't even worry about such things.  I'll deal with whatever is required.

And, if the agent turns the book down, I'll have to get back to researching how to print the book in 6x9 PDF format.  As I stated awhile back, the software I used for my 2005 book no longer works, and I can't get it fixed.  The place where I bought the software went out of business, and the software creator wants me to re-buy.  So, I need to do some research to find less expensive ways to create 6x9 PDF files.           

And, I'll have to design the new book's cover.
And, I'll have to get a new ISBN number.
And, I'll have to buy the scanner graphic for the ISBN number.
Here's the scanner graphic from the back cover of my 2005 book:

ISBN number for my 2005 book

That's all stuff the publisher has to do before sending the book to the printer.  Then the printer will have his own concerns.  I recall the printer wanted better versions of some of the exhibits/picture I had in my first book.  I re-did some and let the others go as-is. 

I'll probably want to create better versions of some of the exhibits in my new book, too.   For example, I've been using this graphic I created to illustrate how near Ivins lived to where he worked:

Ivins' ride to work

I can get rid of all those jagged lines and make them more smooth and straight.  And, I've been thinking about creating some better floorplans for Building 1425.  But, that's all work I don't want to do until I know I have to do it.  And, it seems like something an agent and/or publisher may have some thoughts about.

And what about all that recent nonsense in the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists, the Clinician's Biosecurity News and ProMedMail.org?   Should I mention it in the last chapter of my book?  The last chapter is about how the debates and misunderstandings go on and on and on.

All these decisions and issues also affect me when I'm not working.  I find it difficult to sit down in the evening to watch a movie that requires paying close attention.  The other night I put the DVD for "Manhattan" in my player, but couldn't clear my mind of other things enough to start watching it, even though it's one of my all-time favorites and the last time I watched it was in April 2006.  So, I pulled out that DVD and put in "Africa Screams" with Abbott and Costello (it was part of the same 4 movie DVD package as "My Man Godfrey").  I was able to sit through "Africa Screams," and it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I remembered from my last viewing in 2003.  But, it undoubtedly had to do with my mood.  I was in the right mood to watch an Abbott and Costello movie.  It didn't require paying attention.  

Updates & Changes: Sunday, June 3, 2012, thru Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 7, 2012 - This morning, someone sent me an email with a link to an article about "Book Expo America" (where the agent who has my book has been busy for the past week or so).  The article is titled "Book industry's death is greatly exaggerated."  It seems that publishing books on paper is suffering some of the same problems as printing magazines on paper, but not to the same degree.  Even though I am technically "a book publisher," since I self-published my first book about the anthrax case back in March of 2005
, I'm certainly no expert on the book publishing industry.  But, I often wonder how a regular book publisher will view all the illustrations in my new book.  Currently, there are 40 illustrations, but I'm waiting on some others - maybe 10 or so additional photos.

David Willman's book "The Mirage Man" has 20 illustrations, but they are printed all together on magazine-type rag paper between pages 274 and 275, which seems to be the standard way of doing things.  In Marilyn W. Thompson's book "The Killer Strain," the 24 illustrations are printed on rag paper between pages 150 and 151.  In Robert Graysmith's book "Amerithrax: The Hunt for the Anthrax Killer," the 24 illustrations are on printed on rag paper between pages 246 and 247.  My copy of Leonard A. Cole's book "The Anthrax Letters" doesn't have any illustrations at all, except for a copy of a postmark at the start of each chapter.    

The illustrations in my book are located where they help explain the text.   That is typically done only when the entire book is printed on glossy paper (like "coffee table books"), although Richard Preston's book "The Demon In The Freezer" has about a half dozen images printed on regular paper where they help illustrate the text.   So, I know it can be done.  It's also the way I published the 25 illustrations in my first book.

Does the way photos are used in a book mean certain publishers won't do it that way, so they won't publish the book?  That doesn't make much sense, but it seems possible.

The biggest problem I see with using photos to help illustrate the text is fitting them in where they don't result in leaving most of a page blank.  I described that problem when I created the pdf files showing photos of Ivins' office and Ivins' lab.  You often have to modify the text so that the photos will fit in the right place on a page.  I had to modify some text when I converted my new book from 6x9 book format into manuscript format.  Is that some kind of major problem for regular publishers?  I don't know.  It could be.  If it is, the more illustrations you have, the bigger the problem. 

I can see it being a BIG problem when a hardback book is converted to a standard size paperback.   The author has to write bits of new text to make the illustrations fit in the new page format.
  ("Trade" paperbacks (like my first book) generally use the same paper size as a hardback, they just have a paper cover and, thus, a lower cost.)  And, thinking about it, I can see it being an even bigger problem if the book is translated into other languages.  The translators will have to write new text to make the photos fit.

It's not a problem at all with e-publishing because outlets like Kindle don't really use pages.  The reader scrolls through the book as one continuous file.  Pictures fit where they fit best.  For my book, I can see using color photos for the on-line version, and adding in even more pictures.  The costs don't change for the on-line version, but color photos can make printing a book on paper totally impractical by raising its cover price out of the average reader's reach. 

On the other hand, the article about "Book Expo America" mentions a 272 page book that sells for $3,250.00 a copy.   My book will have nearly twice that number of pages, so it would a terrific bargain at the same price.  Hmmm.  Smiley face

June 5, 2012 (B) - The agent who has my book has been busy preparing for and attending the "Book Expo America" conference in New York.  So, I probably won't get  her thoughts about my book until late next week ... or sometime in the week after.

June 5, 2012 (A) - I seed my duty and I dood it.  On my way to the health club at around 12:30, I visited my voting station where I voted to recall Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.  Because Walker was aided by the Tea Party and big business interests from other States, he was able to out-spend his opponent on TV ads by about 7 to 1.  So, if an election can be bought, Walker was able to buy this one.  We'll find out later tonight.

June 4, 2012 (B) - I was so busy yesterday debunking what Laurie Garrett talked about in those two interviews that I failed to mention some items of critical evidence she did not talk about:

1.  The 9/11 hijackers were DEAD for a week at the time of the first anthrax mailing, and DEAD for a month at the time of the second anthrax mailing.  I believe that is very good circumstantial evidence that they did NOT send the letters.  (Of course, people who believe the 9/11 hijackers were behind the anthrax attack just immediately conjure up an invisible assistant who left no trace of himself anywhere and who remained behind to do the actual mailings.)

2.  The person who sent the anthrax letters took several precautions to avoid harming anyone with the anthrax powders (taping the letters shut, including medical advice in the letters, etc.).  That circumstantial evidence seems inconsistent with terrorists who were about to murder nearly 3,000 innocent civilians.  (And, it's definitely inconsistent with the idea that the 9/11 hijackers had been thinking about using a crop duster airplane to spray anthrax over some city.)

3.  The first powder was very crude and the second powder was purified.  That's circumstantial evidence that the person who made the anthrax powders was alive and able to watch the results of the first mailing.  When the first letters had no effect, he created the purified powders and changed his targets.  (It's also circumstantial evidence that al Qaeda was NOT behind the attacks, since there were no further anthrax letters even though the culprit clearly had the capability to make more powders.)

4.  Reports say that al Haznawi was treated for the infected gash on his leg just a few days after he entered the U.S.  Therefore, whether it was a infected gash or an anthrax lesion, it began before al Haznawi entered the U.S.  That fact conflicts with the evidence which says the culprit had a lab in the U.S. where he made the purified anthrax powder after the crude powder failed to do what he wanted.

I could go on and on, but
there doesn't seem much point, since "Anonymous" emailed me this morning to repeat his belief that I'm not qualified to argue against Laurie Garrett because I haven't actually read her book.  He obviously still thinks her book is Holy Writ.

June 4, 2012 (A) - I haven't yet heard from the agent who asked to see my book on May 17.  I don't know if no news is good news or bad news.  But, considering that it's a very long and complex book, and considering that the Memorial Day holiday was part of the past two weeks, I'll wait a bit longer before sending an email to ask what's going on.

June 3, 2012 -
As I wrote on Thursday, I haven't read Laurie Garrett's book "I Heard the Sirens Scream," which is apparently only available as an e-book on Kindle.  I'm just not willing to pay good money to read a book that evidently only describes her beliefs about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  But, "Anonymous" on my interactive blog seems to believe it's Holy Writ when it comes to the "truth" about the attacks.

"Anonymous" found a Q&A interview with Laurie Garrett on the web site for The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists ("BAS").   It's also available there in pdf format.  So, instead of her book, today I'm going to use that Q&A and another interview with Laurie Garrett to analyze what Garrett believes.   The other source is an Aug. 26, 2011 NPR interview with Garrett in which she said,

more than three years ago, I decided that the entire FBI investigation was not only, you know, Three Stooges writ large but that they - that they had been steered onto a targeting that was 100 percent incorrect.
 
So, she not only totally disagrees with the FBI's findings, but she feels the FBI acted like the Three Stooges in producing their findings.   That says a great deal about her reasoning and the intensity of her beliefs.  Garrett adds,

you asked me about why do I get outraged. I get outraged because the FBI completely botched the investigation on the anthrax. I get outraged because there's so much evidence that al-Qaida was behind the anthrax mailings and that at least as strong a circumstantial case as was made against Bruce Ivins can be made against al-Qaida even stronger.

So, she's "outraged," and it's clear that her "outrage" affects her thinking about the case, since she's obviously wildly biased in favor of her own beliefs.  As a result, her arguments aren't about cold science, they're about heated emotions and beliefs.

The BAS web site article begins by saying this about her book:

Based on more than seven years of research and writing, it takes a much more personal approach than her earlier books. Garrett’s hometown is New York City, and she watched the events of 9/11 unfold before her eyes. A month later, when people began falling ill from the inhalation of anthrax spores, she received a phone call from a top federal official warning her that her writings could make her a target and advising her to stop opening her mail.

Already we have a very familiar situation.  It's the problem that many friends and co-workers of Bruce Ivins have.  They just can not believe that someone they knew could have committed such a terrible crime.  The FBI must have gotten the facts wrong.  The attacks must have been committed by some evil foreigners.  Friends and people personally affected by the anthrax attacks are often just too emotionally wrapped up in the case to be objective about it.   Garrett seems to have the same problem as a result of watching the events of 9/11 unfold. 

The Q&A introduction then says:

The US government blamed bioweapons scientist Bruce Ivins for the anthrax attacks, but never charged him before his suicide in 2008. Justice Department attorneys recently claimed, in court filings defending the government against a wrongful-death suit, that Ivins’s lab did not have the specialized equipment necessary to turn liquid anthrax into powder. And a February 2011 report from the National Academy of Sciences raised doubts about the genetic analysis that linked the anthrax mailings to a flask of anthrax stored in Ivins’s office.  A decade after the attacks, the Bulletin spoke with Garrett about the latest revelations and the lessons learned.

Groan!  Here we go again! Total nonsense!  Justice Department attorneys did NOT make such a claim.  Justice Department lawyers in Florida made an error in a single sentence in a court document filed in the Stevens vs USA lawsuit, and the media (particularly the McClatchy newspaper chain) jumped on it to claim that the government was changing its position on the case.  The error was quickly fixed, but the media (and evidently the BAS) paid little or no attention to the correction.  They are still fixated on the error and continue to distort it to be a "claim."  (See my comments for July 20, July 21, July 30, July 31, Aug. 23, Sept. 3, 2011, and Jan. 27, Feb. 1, May 27, 2012.)

And the "doubts" raised by the National Academy of Sciences are "doubts" related to what is scientifically possible, not what is logical, what is reasonable to believe, or what is required in a court of law.

Then the actual Q&A begins, and the first Q&A is:

BAS: Most experts have viewed 9/11 and the anthrax attacks as entirely separate episodes. Why do you see them as connected?

Garrett: The paramount historical and policy mistake, looking back on the fall of 2001, is this perception that we’re looking at two completely separate events that just happened to occur within roughly 30 days of one another. By looking at it as a single day -- September 11-- we missed the real story of what happened.

Garrett doesn't give any proof or provide any evidence as to why "most experts" are wrong and she believes she's right in connecting the anthrax attacks directly to the 9/11 terrorists.  She just rambles on and on about how everyone was confused and making mistakes after 9/11.  She evidently just believes that there was a direct connection between 9/11 and the anthrax attacks and "most experts" just weren't a sharp as she is, and they missed the direct connection (which is probably nothing more than the timing) between the two events.  Seemingly arguing against herself, she states that lots of officials began by believing that 9/11 and the anthrax attacks were directly connected:

By the time anthrax was recognized to be in circulation, most of the public health authorities and first responders in law enforcement in the targeted cities had already been burning the midnight oil for 30 days and were utterly exhausted. On 9/11, there was already a decision by health authorities in New York to assume that there was a biological attack that was a companion to the hijacked commercial-jets attack. All public health authorities in the greater New York area were on 24/7 full alert and had set up surveillance for all of the hospitals. So by the time Robert K. Stevens died, a lot of public health folks—in Atlanta, in New York, in Washington—were sleep deprived and stressed.

Garret then rambles into how nearly everyone initially had false beliefs about anthrax (which the facts indicate was largely true).

Garrett: Just about every community of expertise that would be engaged in dealing with bioterrorism has to look back with a certain amount of chagrin on the events of 2001. It’s very clear that almost every single assumption that had previously been made about anthrax and its various toxins—the appropriate way to detect it, the necessary dose of exposure, the best courses of treatment—all turned out to be wrong. Huge mistakes were made in the epidemiology, the prevention, and the treatment because of incorrect assumptions. Most of those assumptions came from the old biological warfare program back in the 1960s and ’70s in the United States, and largely monkey studies performed at USAMRIID [the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases] and a few other military sites in the United States, as well as information derived from the old Soviet program. In retrospect, this whole notion that any infectious agent had a special threshold, so that you could quantify exactly how many germs needed to be in the human body to reach an infectious dose, looks unbelievably naïve if not foolhardy. And yet it was a guiding principle of the entire response.

What is she saying?  Is she saying that because people didn't fully understand anthrax prior to 9/11, they must have made mistakes in not connecting the anthrax attacks to the 9/11 terrorists?  In reality, in the first days it was almost universally assumed that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks.  Then the FACTS piled up saying al Qaeda had nothing to do with the anthrax attacks.  

The Q&A continues:

BAS: What connection did you find between the anthrax attacks and smallpox-vaccination efforts?

Garrett: When anthrax happened, it was less than 90 days after an exercise called “Dark Winter” had been carried out. This role-playing exercise— organized by D. A. Henderson and his group, which was then based at Johns Hopkins but now is at the University of Pittsburgh—imagined that terrorists had infected themselves with smallpox and started an epidemic that quickly became a pandemic.

Instead of explaining her beliefs, Garrett just rambles on about how officials began looking for ways to vaccinate people against anthrax.  Then, the BAS just moves into other topics. 

BAS: Anthrax is in the news again, with three scientists writing in the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense that the presence of tin in the 2001 anthrax mailings suggests that special processing and expertise were required. Will that lead to formation of a national commission to reopen the case?

Garrett: No. I think there’s a lot of skepticism about that tin report. The more likely incentive to speed up the previously called-for investigations at the congressional level and at the Government Accountability Office are the revelations that have come out of the joint investigative reporting effort by ProPublica, the McClatchy newspaper chain, and “Frontline,” which show absolutely enormous flaws previously unrecognized or underappreciated in the FBI investigation of Ivins. 

Ah!  Garrett is understandably skeptical about the opinions of Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg and Jacobsen, but she believes the yellow-journalism nonsense printed by ProPublica and the McClatchy newspaper chain!  She's using standard Anthrax Truther logic: If someone says something that agrees with your beliefs, then they are right.  But, if they disagree with your beliefs, then they must be wrong.  Facts are irrelevant.

Finally, the questioning got into the heart of Garrett's beliefs:

BAS: What do you see as the most convincing evidence that Al Qaeda, rather than Ivins, was behind the anthrax mailings?

Garrett: Most of the evidence regarding Ivins has to be viewed as circumstantial. The sum total of that circumstantial evidence is weaker than the sum total of circumstantial evidence pointing at Al Qaeda. And that evidence includes the following: Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, and unbeknownst to most of the public, the investigators were able to identify the bodies of the hijackers and test them for anthrax, and at least one of them came up positive. That individual is the same one who went to an emergency room in Florida, when they were all down there for flight training, seeking help for a black sore on his hand. Retrospectively, the physician concluded that it could very well have been cutaneous anthrax. Two other individuals involved in the Florida training group sought pharmaceutical assistance for pain on their hands and skin rashes.

Groan!  Where do I begin?  Ivins was in charge of the murder weapon, and yet Garrett feels that is no more evidence that Ivins was responsible for the attacks than the fact that one the 9/11 hijackers had "a black sore on his hand." 

In reality, of course, the "black sore on his hand" was a "gash" in the calf of Al Haznawi's leg where he said he'd gouged it when he bumped against the sharp corner of a suitcase.  He didn't take proper care of the gash, and it became infected.   Dr. Tsonas initially reported it was a "gash," but when cornered by people who believed it could have been an anthrax lesion, the doctor finally responded that it could have been such a lesion.  When David Willman interviewed Dr. Tsonas on Nov. 25, 2009, Tsonas said, "it was just an infectious ulcer, that's all."  But, Dr. Tsonas admitted it wasn't possible to know for certain exactly what it was.  (See "The Mirage Man," page 385, note 36.)

Bits of Al Haznawi's body were found at the crash site of Flight 93 along with bits of the bodies of the three other hijackers on the flight.  22 pounds of body pieces were found, but according to Pulitzer Prize winner David Willman, "No anthrax was found."  (Ibid, page 385.)  But, Pulitzer Prize winner Laurie Garrett evidently believes some false positives weren't really false positives but real positives.

The next item where Garrett attempts to  justify her beliefs is:

And Mohamed Atta attempted to purchase a custom-made crop duster with all but the pilot’s seat removed for a double-size tank. Fortunately, he was not able to obtain a bank loan to purchase this custom-made plane.

So, Laurie Garret evidently believes that the fact that "Mohamed Atta attempted to purchase a custom-made crop duster" has some connection to the anthrax attacks.  This is an illogical Anthrax Truther belief that has been around since 2001. 

The 7 letters sent in the anthrax attacks involved roughly 7 grams of powder.  5 of those grams were a crude powder consisting of only 10 percent spores.  2 grams of powder were nearly entirely spores.  So, in total, there were less than 3 grams of spores in the letters.  That's just over a tenth of an ounce.  

Is it Garrett's theory that the 9/11 hijackers planned to mix a tenth of an ounce of clumpy anthrax spores with hundreds of gallons of water in the tanks of a crop duster?  How much damage does she believe such a mixture would do?  Or is it her theory that the 9/11 hijackers had the capability to make a lot more anthrax to put into the crop duster, but they just never bothered doing so?  Does that make any sense at all?

Isn't it far more logical that the 9/11 terrorists planned to fill the extra tank in the crop duster with gasoline and use the gas-filled plane to crash into a building?  After all, that is what they did do.   They just figured out a way to use much bigger airplanes.

Then Garrett really dives into Anthrax Truther territory:

There was an individual who appears to have been connected with the group in New Jersey and had an online greeting-card company; through his office, he ordered a giant spore lyophilizer [freeze dryer].

Was it a "giant spore lyophilizer" or was it a "particulate mixer"?  I admit that I don't recall where this whole subject originated, and I can't make much sense of it.  It seems to be the same subject mentioned on Lew Weinstein's web site without identifying any source.  It seems to be an attempt to connect the attacks to a place in Ft. Lee, NJ, where 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta bought his plane ticket.  It was near a shop where copies of documents could be made.  So, the copies of the letters could have been made there.  "Anonymous" mentioned the subject on my interactive blog in January.  It seems to be some wild theory that Anthrax Truthers bring up to demonstrate that they know things others do not, and therefore they are right and others are wrong.  Garrett doesn't provide enough information to evaluate this incoherent subject.

Garrett continues:

I interviewed folks, who spoke to me off the record, who had been involved in the Special Forces team that tried to capture Osama bin Laden in December 2001. They captured a complex of caves in Tora Bora, one of which was described as a laboratory. Back in 2002, my source in that team told me this was a real lab and that—if I had seen it—I would have been astonished. It was scoured and swabbed for spores on four occasions: twice by an unnamed agency, but I believe it to be the Special Forces team and the CIA, in 2001 and 2002; and then several years later, on two occasions, by the FBI. The first two scourings of this cave came up positive not only for anthrax but for the Ames strain, which would be highly unlikely as a natural occurrence in Afghanistan. The second two scourings by the FBI came up negative.

This appears to be another area where Garrett is assuming that false positives were actually real positives, but everyone involved was just too incompetent to realize it (or they were part of a conspiracy).   The FBI/DOJ Summary Report says on page 16:

While it is undoubtedly true that al Qaeda was seeking to establish an offensive bioweapons program in 2001 (see The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Chapter 5.1, at p. 151), Task Force agents were unable to find any link between al Qaeda and the letter attacks in the United States, or even that, at the time of the attacks, any al Qaeda operatives had access to the type and quality of anthrax pathogen used in the 2001 attacks.

And, according to the Sept. 16, 2005 issue of the Washington Post:

Because the deadly letters contained the Ames anthrax spores, manufactured in the United States, authorities entertained the possibility that they had been removed from a U.S. lab and transported overseas. Agents checked the Kabul area in May 2004 but came up empty, sources said. In November, on additional information, agents spent weeks searching an area in the Kandahar mountains, several hundred miles outside of Kabul, but found nothing, sources said.

The 9,600 pages of documents supplied by the FBI to the National Academy of Sciences included a 19-page "Supplemental Document" from June 2008 titled "FBI WFO Report on Samples from an Overseas Site Identified by Intelligence."  About 40 percent of the document is redacted, but the report explains that PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) tests were done using pieces of DNA that are supposed to be unique to the Ames strain.  It says on page 5 (page 6 of the pdf file):

No viable Ba [Bacillus anthracis] was detected by culture analysis at the NBFAC [National Bioforensic Analysis Center at USAMRIID].  Molecular analysis of samples yielded positive results for all three of the NMRC's [Naval Medical Research Center in Bethesda, MD] PCR markers for Ba in 3 samples.  The positive results were noted in one swab taken from the outside of an unopened medicine dropper package, known as E73; one swab taken from a sink, known as E98; and one swab from a drain hose, known at E99.

So, the search teams didn't find any actual spores or bacteria.  Scientists couldn't grow any new anthrax bacteria from anything that was found.  They merely got positive readings on the molecular level from swabs taken in three places in the lab.

According to page 67 of the NAS review report, the FBI conducted a third mission to Afghanistan to collect the entire sink, the entire drain hose and other objects to test more thoroughly. 

These items were extensively sampled, and again tested for both viable B. anthracis and for B. anthracis DNA.  This time, according to the June 2008 declassified document, all the tests were negative

And on page 12 of the FBI WFO report (page 13 of the pdf file) it says,

1254  samples were taken from these 528 items and submitted to the NBFAC for analysis.  All 1254 samples were negative for the presence of Ba via culture analysis at the NBFAC and PCR at NMRC.

So, the PCR tests of the three items initially produced "false positives," and after doing over a thousand tests, it was determined that there was no reason to believe that there was any actual anthrax at that overseas location.   Nevertheless, Garrett evidently believes the initial inconclusive positive PCR readings meant al Qaeda had the Ames strain, even though absolutely no live spores or bacteria could be found and a more comprehensive series of PCR tests were also negative.

Here's more from the Q&A:

BAS: In your book, you say that there was no weapons-grade anthrax found in the letters. What implication does that have for public policy?

Garrett: It makes a huge difference, because if you believed that this was weaponized anthrax, and you also believed that only an established military laboratory could make weaponized anthrax, then it lent strong support to: “We need to go to war with Iraq.” As somebody who was in the middle of this as it was all unfolding, I came to the feeling that this whole notion of what constituted weaponized anthrax was as bogus as the notion that a level of 10,000 spores was necessary to cause an infection. It was all based on hocus-pocus, old-fashioned science from the days of the biowarfare programs, when many of the scientists had been trained before the discovery of the DNA theory.

So, Ms Garrett doesn't believe the attack spores were "weaponized," but she evidently believes that politicians in Washington believed that they were "weaponized," and that false belief was used to justify going to war.  The problem with her reasoning is that it was KNOWN by investigators and scientists that the spores were NOT weaponized, so this part of her argument has nothing to do with the Amerithrax case.  But, she seems to think it does.  She's doing what Anthrax Truthers frequently do: looking at "the government" as one big entity.   Thus, if politicians believed the attack powders were "weaponized," then the investigators on the case must have believed the same thing.

She adds,

The other thing that was apparent from the get-go was that CDC had been in the American Media building in Florida and had seen what those spores looked like. CDC civilian investigators, who took the lead when the first anthrax cases appeared in Florida and New York, had recovered one set of spores in New York, and they were seeing something that was sort of damp, chunky, and gray. But USAMRIID, the Pentagon-controlled lab that analyzed the materials subsequently seized in Washington, was claiming that everything they saw was white, fluffy, flew all over the place, and seemed to be deliberately made to cause maximum-possible contamination. Never, during the course of the fall of 2001, did the CDC get to actually handle the samples USAMRIID had, because the FBI refused to allow them to see it. Everything was shrouded in so much secrecy and secondhand information that turned out to be wrong that, frankly, every reporter on the beat reached a point where we just had no idea who to trust.

Hmm.  Now she's mixing up apples and oranges, and blending in some kind of argument that things weren't done the way she thinks they should have been done.  The New York spores were "damp, chunky, and gray [or brown]," and the Washington spores were "white [or tan], fluffy, flew all over the place."   There's no conflict.  They were very different powders.  That is known.  But Garrett tries to make it seem like there's some kind of misunderstanding or disagreement. 

So, in summary, the only "circumstantial evidence" that Laurie Garrett really has that supports her belief that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001 is the timing.  The anthrax attacks were launched a week after 9/11, therefore they could have orginated with the same people.  That is indeed circumstantial evidence.  But that same circumstantial evidence (the timing) also says Ivins was partly motivated by the 9/11 attacks to send the first anthrax letters a week later.   By itself, the timing means nothing.

As for the other "circumstantial evidence" Garrett believes in, false positives are NOT evidence, circumstantial or otherwise.  Neither is a claim that a lyophilizer (or particulate mixer) was delivered to some place in Fort Lee, NJ.  Nor is a gash on a terrorist's leg that cannot be verified to be anything more than a gash.  Nor is Garrett's belief about why Atta was trying to buy a crop duster.

Yet, she believes "most experts" are wrong and the FBI acted like the Three Stooges when they spent seven years accumulating the vast amount of solid evidence that eventually pointed to Bruce Ivins as the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks of 2001. 

Did she even bother to look at all the evidence pointing to Ivins as the anthrax mailer?  Or did she just dismiss everything as the work of the Three Stooges and therefore not worth her time to examine?

The facts seem to say that Laurie Garrett was so "outraged" by the attacks of 9/11 and the fact that "the government" failed to prevent those attacks, and the way "the government" blundered around immediately following the anthrax attacks using incorrect information and allowing people to die unnecessarily, that she isn't going to believe anything "the government" says.  Her beliefs are far more acceptable to her than "the government's" facts, and she wants everyone to know that.

She accepts that "most experts" find "the Three Stooges" to be more believable than her.  But, she's evidently too outraged to care.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, May 27, 2012, thru Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 1, 2012 - I hate to argue the same basic facts over and over, but here's a quote from the August 6, 2008 press conference where the DOJ and FBI tried to explain some of the basic details about the investigation:

First, we were able to identify in early 2005 the genetically-unique parent material of the anthrax spores used in the mailings. As the court documents allege, the parent material of the anthrax spores used in the attacks was a single flask of spores, known as "RMR-1029," that was created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins at USAMRIID. This means that the spores used in the attacks were taken from that specific flask, regrown, purified, dried and loaded into the letters. No one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins. We thoroughly investigated every other person who could have had access to the flask and we were able to rule out all but Dr. Ivins.

The term "parent material" is used in the FBI/DOJ Summary report 15 times to explain that the spores did not come directly from flask RMR-1029.  The new report titled
"Trace Detection of Meglumine and Diatrizoate from Bacillus Spore Samples Using Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry" in the April 26, 2012 issue of The Journal of Forensic Sciences merely explains some details about how it was determined that the attack spores were NOT taken directly from flask RMR-1029 and how the tests that were done could be useful in future investigations.  The report says:

The primary objective of the work described in this manuscript was to develop and validate a sensitive and selective assay for the qualitative detection of meglumine and diatrizoate. Potential source information is always valuable in a forensic investigation. Although these results did not confirm the possible source of the spore material, they did indicate that the spore material used in the mailings was consistent with not being diverted directly from RMR-1029.

The mystery remains as to how so many non-FBI scientists can be so uninformed about the basic facts about the Amerithrax investigation and why those uninformed scientists feel the need to voice their uninformed opinions about the case.  And, why haven't other, more-knowledgeable scientists corrected the erroneous claims?


May 31, 2012 (B) - Groan!  Now we've got one science-related organization repeating misleading statements from another science-related organization.  The "Global Biodefense" web site is repeating some of what
Dr. Amesh A. Adalja wrote on the Clinician's Biosecurity News web site.  The brief article is titled "FBI Study Raises More Questions in Bruce Ivins Anthrax Case" and says:

The initial FBI investigation linked spores found in the anthrax mailings to material contained in a flask labeled “RMR-1029” that was under Dr. Ivins’ control. Lab records later determined that the RMR-1029 material had been purified using a product containing two specific ingredients: meglumine and diatrizoate.

To determine if spore material from the letters also contained these ingredients, researchers from the CBRN Sciences Unit of the FBI developed novel methods to detect trace elements of meglumine and diatrizoate in dried anthrax spores.

Investigators confirmed the presence of the ingredients in the USAMRIID flask. However, utilizing the same methods they found no evidence of the ingredients in the spore samples from the letters used in the attacks.

What questions does "Global Defense" think are being raised?  The main question I see being raised is: Doesn't anyone in the scientific community understand anything about the Amerithrax investigation at all?

There was NEVER any claim or idea or thought that the attack spores came directly from flask RMR-1029.   So, why is this news to so many scientists?

It was discovered long ago that the spores in flask RMR-1029 were mixed with an anti-fungal agent phenol that wasn't in the attack spores.   On page 16 of FBI pdf file #847444 Ivins even explained why phenol was added.  If phenol could be detected in spores in flask RMR-1029 but not in the attack spores, why is it suddenly so startling to so many scientists that meglumine and diatrizoate were also detected in the spores in flask RMR-1029 but not in the attack spores?  The attack spores were grown on plates used to determine how many spores were in doses for test animals.  There was no need to add preservatives or anti-fungal agents to the agar on the plates, nor any need to add chemicals for radiographic imaging. 

How many other scientists, scientific periodicals and scientific organizations will be misinterpreting what the FBI scientists found and reported in their scientific paper and use it to absurdly suggest that the FBI found evidence casting "doubt" on Ivins' guilt?  The number is already beyond ridiculous.    

May 31, 2012 (A) - In a post to my interactive blog last night, Anonymous "outed" himself and provided his real name by citing an article he wrote for NewsMax.com in 2007.   He also told me in a separate post to my interactive blog,

As part of a book proposal in which you propose your book in which you argue that a First Grader wrote the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings, you will have to represent that you have read the book by Pulitzer Prize winner Laurie Garrett. That particular section of a book proposal is designed to weed out people who do not read relevant materials.

It seems certain I won't live up to his standards, since my local library doesn't have a copy of Garrett's book, and I certainly wouldn't pay good money to buy a copy.  But, yesterday, "Anonymous" provided a link to a Q&A with Laurie Garrett on The Bulletin of Atomic Sciences in which Garrett describes the reasons for her belief that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks, in spite of all the evidence that says Bruce Ivins did it.  I'll use that Q&A to write a comment for this web site in which I'll detail and debunk Garrett's flawed reasoning
.  I'll try to get it done in a day or three.

The biggest problem with all these ill-informed opinions from "experts," however, is that few real experts with impressive credentials ever bother to challenge and correct them.  It's evidently "bad form" to criticize a fellow scientist in public.  And, apparently very few busy scientists want to get into a public dispute with a fellow scientist who is also an Anthrax Truther.  Truthers don't change their minds when their facts are disproved, they get angry.  And, very few people want to argue with an angry, opinionated scientist.

Most people who read Garrett's book "I Heard The Sirens Scream" evidently accepted her beliefs as fact.  And most people who read the uninformed comments Professor Martin Hugh-Jones wrote in response to the uninformed comments
made by Dr. Dennis Grant on ProMedMail.org, and those who read the uninformed comments by Dr. Amesh A. Adalja on Clinicians' Biosecurity News evidently weren't in a position to question those uninformed opinions, since they weren't experts on the Amerithrax case.  So, they just let the errors go unchallenged.  I doubt that many read this blog, so the nonsense will remain and be used as references by other uninformed scientists who don't really know very much about the Amerithrax case but assume that the published "experts" know what they were talking about.

With all the bad information that is in circulation in scientific journals, I am often amazed that anything useful is ever learned by anyone.  But, then I realize it's all part of the process.  It's the same way the media handles their errors.  Unless forced to do so by a law suit, they don't point out the errors they make.  They just print another story that tells the real facts without any reference to the past nonsense they printed.  Over the centuries, the real facts generally dominate and become accepted.

May 30, 2012 - Looking for something to occupy my time this morning, I checked the FBI "vault" to see if Ivins emails had appeared.  They hadn't.  But I noticed something that seemed to be new, or possibly it's just something I never noticed before.  There are now files in the "vault" which document "Threats Against Members of Congress" for the years 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.  Examples:

From 2001, page 35:

"To Senator Thurmond: Excsuse me mr asshole for being poor white trash that cant offord cd so i can go on to napster if you go through with napster being shut down i will shoot you."

From 2003, page 7:

The subject left a message advising that Senator Dole, Senator Edwards, Senator Helms, and Governor Schwarzenegger are "all a bunch of crooks that should be hanged and if that did not happen to them, he would kill all of them himself."

From 2003, page 19:

The e-mails in general demanded the payment of $12,000 and made mention of an attempt to kill United States Senator Stabenow, as well as Representative Moolenaar.

From 2003, page 28 (sent to Senator Mary Landrieu) :

The letter stated: "If you vote against invoking cloture against another one of President Bush's nominees (such as Charles Pickering, Owen, Estrada) I'm going to kill you.  I will also go after your family, such as your husband and kids ... I will kill them as well ... If you care about yourself and your family, you'll do what I say ... If you vote against invoking cloture again, I'm going to track you, your family and even your staff down and kill them and you ... I know where you live." 

There are definitely a LOT of nut cases out there.  I talk with some nearly every day.  But, I probably don't even see the tip of the iceberg, only a few snowflakes atop the tip.

May 29, 2012 - This morning, an Anthrax Truther posted details about his beliefs to my interactive blog.   He believes the anthrax mailer not only sent the anthrax letters, but also sent:

1.  The B'nai Br'ith petri dish letter in 1997.
2.  The white powder letters sent to the media in 1999.
3.  The St. Petersburg, FL, hoax letters.
4.  The Dr. Ayaad Assad letter.
5.  The "Reno hoax letter" from Malaysia.
6.  The Chile anthrax-contaminated letter.
7.  The ricin letters in 2004.
8.  The Goldman Sachs letters in 2007.
9.  The "Jihad boom" postcards in 2007.

And there's evidently nothing he will accept as proof that he's wrong, not even the fact that the Reno letter was just a returned check from an upset Microsoft customer.   Later, he suggested that the same person or people might also be responsible for the Dallas white powder letters.

Meanwhile, on my list-serve email forum, I'm still arguing with a scientist who firmly believes that the media powder couldn't cause inhalation anthrax and the senate powder couldn't cause cutaneous anthrax, no matter how scientifically absurd such a belief is.  The argument is taking place in front of a bunch of top reporters who are also on the forum, but there's been no response from any of them.  I'm trying to figure out some way to pin the scientist down on exactly what he believes, so that I can show him his beliefs are contradicted by all known scientific findings.   But, he'll probably just argue that I'm not interpreting the science correctly. 

As part of the argument, a good question came up: How many spores are required to cause cutaneous anthrax?  There's a lot of data about the number of spores needed to cause inhalation anthrax, but I can't find anything for cutaneous anthrax.  So, I sent an email off to the CDC.   I don't see why a single spore couldn't grow in a cut the same way it grows in a Petri dish.  However, other questions are: How long does it take for the immune system to react?  Can it react before the infection is out of control?  We'll see.

May 28, 2012 - I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day holiday.  My thanks go out to American men and women in uniform everywhere - past and present.  It's a dangerous world with few easy answers and few quick solutions.  But I can sleep soundly at night knowing the American military is busy working to keep me safe.

May 27, 2012 -
Something seems to be going on, but I'm not sure what it is.  I'm seeing a small increase in visitors to my site, even though things are typically very quiet from May through August when schools and universities are on summer vacation.  Plus, scientists seem to be making bizarre comments all over the place.

On Friday, a scientist who hasn't argued with me in years suddenly posted an article from
Clinicians' Biosecurity News to my list-serve email forum.  The May 25 article by Dr. Amesh A. Adalja makes the same kinds of false assumptions that Professor Martin Hugh-Jones made on ProMedMail.org earlier this month (see my May 14 comment).  Both were in response to the article "Trace Detection of Meglumine and Diatrizoate from Bacillus Spore Samples Using Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry" in the April 26, 2012 issue of The Journal of Forensic Sciences.

In Clinician's Biosecurity News, Dr. Adalja wrote:


The FBI’s conclusion that USAMRIID scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins perpetrated the anthrax attacks of 2001 is largely built on an extensive microbial forensics investigation.

Not true.  In reality, the microbial forensics investigation only provided leads. It reduced the number of possible suspects and led to Ivins as one of the potential suspects.  The legal case against Ivins is almost entirely built on (1) his expertise at growing and purifying spores, (2) his unexplained evening hours in his lab, (3) his practice of driving long distances to commit other crimes, (4) his lack of an alibi, (5) his connections to the scene of the crime and the text of the media letter, (6) his attempts to destroy evidence, (7) his attempts to intimidate witnesses, and (8) his "non-denial denials" where he explained on tape that if he committed the anthrax killings, he didn't remember doing it.

Dr. Adalja also wrote:

The major implication of this study, as the authors note, is “that the evidentiary spore material was not diverted directly from RMR-1029.”  This fact means that if the anthrax spores used in the attack were taken from RMR-1029, their preparation would have required extra steps prior to mailing. That type of purification would have required specialized machinery and likely would have left traces of the material on machinery.

Not true.  In reality, the creation of the spores required only the most ordinary types of lab equipment, and all traces of the work were routinely and easily destroyed. 

Dr. Adalja also wrote:

No such material was found, though, and in a recently settled civil case in Florida, the U.S. Department of Justice acknowledged that the specialized machinery was not available at USAMRIID.

Not true.  Dr. Adalja is apparently assuming there was some actual intelligence behind the totally irresponsible distortion of the facts printed by The Washington Post, ProPublica and the McClatchy newspaper chain about a single erroneous sentence used in a court document in the Stevens v USA lawsuit.   That sentence as quickly corrected.

Dr. Adalji also wrote:

In the 2011 National Academy of Sciences report evaluating the FBI’s scientific conclusions in the Amerithrax case, this finding was cited in support of the report’s conclusion that “it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origin of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone.”

True.  However, no one but a conspiracy theorist or a hopelessly removed-from-reality scientist requires a "definitive conclusion about the origin of the B. anthracis in the mailings."  The Amerithrax case wasn't a science project requiring definitive scientific proof.  It was a criminal case requiring only proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

When I explained to the scientist on my list-serve forum that the opinions and assumptions by Dr. Adalji were not based on reality, the responses were the same things he's been saying to me for nearly ten years:

You just post utter nonsense as "fact" for gullible readers.
 
It was nonsense in 2001 and it is nonsense in 2012.

and

Anthrax clumps and needs to be weaponized to produce inhalational anthrax, as detailed PRIOR to the 2001 attacks (in the monograph entitled Anthrax as a Bioweapon).  You still don't understand this very basic fact.
 
It is the weaponization process that creates the contamination on the equipment.

He was referring to a JAMA article titled "Anthrax as a Bioweapon" from 1999.   The article appears to contain only one sentence that seemingly supports his beliefs:

Most experts concur that the manufacture of a lethal anthrax aerosol is beyond the capacity of individuals or groups without access to advanced biotechnology. However, autonomous groups with substantial funding and contacts may be able to acquire the required materials for a successful attack.

I explained to him that in 1999 "most experts" had false beliefs about anthrax, and I cited to him quotes from various experts explaining that powders in the small quantities used in the anthrax letters could be made in almost any microbiology lab in academia, private industry or the government.  But, he just repeated his familiar mantra:

You have no scientific background and you just post fairy tales.  Anthrax clumps and produce CUTANEOUS anthrax, as seen in the batch mailed to NY Media.  Properly weaponized anthrax produces INHALATIONAL anthrax because individual spores can get into lungs (as seen for the DC mailings).

The fact that there have been countless cases of inhalation anthrax over the millennia that were not caused by "weaponized anthrax" meant nothing to him.  Nor does the fact that no other scientist would ever agree with his truly unique belief that the media powder could only cause cutaneous anthrax and the senate powder could only cause inhalation anthrax.  He didn't even care that the 1999 JAMA article says:

Naturally occurring inhalational anthrax is now a rare cause of human disease. Historically, wool sorters at industrial mills were at highest risk. Only 18 cases were reported in the United States from 1900 to 1978, with the majority occurring in special-risk groups, including goat hair mill or goatskin workers and wool or tannery workers. Two of the 18 cases were laboratory associated.

It wasn't an argument about facts.  It was an argument about his beliefs versus my facts and his credentials versus my credentials.  That's why our arguments over the past decade have never gotten anywhere.  There is no possible basis for agreement.

Coincidentally, last week I was trying to explain that same thing to a regular poster on my interactive blog.  I was even trying to work out the essence of our inability to find any common ground for an intelligent discussion.  I got it down to two sentences:

He says FACTS don't mean anything if he can dream up reasons why they don't mean anything.

I say FACTS are of key importance until disproved by better FACTS.

That wording still isn't ideal.  For example: Initially the facts said that the attacks were perpetrated by someone who lived in Central New Jersey: (1) the letters were mailed in that area, (2) it's highly unusual for someone to travel hundreds of miles to mail such letters, (3) there were dozens of labs in the area where the powders could be made, and (4) there were thousands of scientists living Central New Jersey who could have done it.

The "new facts" that came later didn't exactly "disprove" the old facts, they clarified or added to the old facts.  The fact that the envelopes were only sold in Maryland and Virginia was evidence that the killer might not live in Central New Jersey.  The fact that the Ames strain wasn't used by any lab in Central New Jersey also pointed away from the original hypothesis.

The old facts are still facts, they just started indicating something different: that the anthrax mailer didn't do things the way others did them, he drove hundreds of miles to mail the letters, and he probably drove to New Jersey from Maryland or Virginia.  

But how do I phrase that in a single short sentence?  I'm still working on it.  (When I find the right words, they'll probably be what some philosopher said 500 years ago.)

Meanwhile, in another part of my interactive blog, "Anonymous" is harping on something Jeanne Guillemin wrote in response to the wildly personal and weirdly prejudiced review by Dr. David Relman of Guillemin's book "American Anthrax" in the Feb. 3, 2012 issue of Science.  I'm not totally certain what "Anonymous" is trying to argue, but it probably has something to do with his unshakable belief that Muslims were behind the anthrax attacks.  And Dr. Relman may agree, since he seems to have used his review to argue that it hasn't been proved to his satisfaction that it is scientifically impossible for al Qaeda to have been behind the anthrax attacks of 2001.  Nor, of course, has it been definitively proved and scientifically verified to his satisfaction that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  Until it is, Dr. Relman is evidently going to believe what he wants to believe.  (Dr. Relman, by the way, was co-chairman for the National Academy of Sciences' "Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI's Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Letters.")

When I dispute the opinions and beliefs of well-known scientists in my book, it could be very difficult for the agent who is reading my book to come to any kind of decision about who is right and who is wrong (even though I cite other scientists and their facts as my sources for arguing against opinions and beliefs).  Since I do that quite often, it might even seem like I dislike scientists.  In reality, though, I love science and most scientists.  I just have problems with a few scientists who state opinions and beliefs without looking at, caring about or understanding the facts.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, May 20, 2012, thru Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26, 2012 - I'm endlessly fascinated by science.  And, once again Newsweek has an article that interests me greatly.  The on-line version of the article is titled "Welcome to the Multiverse."  So, I'm apparently going to have to look for such things on-line after they stop sending me paper copies from my long-expired subscription.

The article says that in the early 1600's the great astronomer Johannes Kepler was obsessed with understanding why the earth was 93 million miles from the sun.  

Kepler struggled for years to explain this distance but never succeeded, and from our modern perch the reason is clear. We now know that there are a great many planets, orbiting their host stars at a great many different distances, demonstrating the fallacy in Kepler’s quest—the laws of physics do not single out any particular distances as special. Instead, what distinguishes the earth-sun distance is simply that it yields conditions hospitable to life: were we much closer or farther from the sun, the extreme temperatures would prevent our form of life from taking hold. So, although Kepler was on a wild goose chase in seeking a fundamental explanation for the earth-sun distance, there is an explanation for why we humans find ourselves at such a distance.

So, Kepler just wasn't asking the right question.  That's why he could never find the answer.  

The article then goes into the current search to figure out why there appears to be X-amount of "dark energy" in the Universe.  That also may be asking the wrong question.   The right question might be: Could there be an infinite number of universes?   The article says:

Just as it takes a well-stocked shoe store to guarantee you’ll find your size, only a well-stocked multiverse can guarantee that our universe, with its peculiar amount of dark energy, will be represented. On its own, inflationary cosmology falls short of the mark. While its never-ending series of big bangs would yield an immense collection of universes, many would have similar features, like a shoe store with stacks and stacks of sizes 5 and 13, but nothing in the size you seek.

By combining inflationary cosmology and string theory, however, the stock room of universes overflows: in the hands of inflation, string theory’s enormously diverse collection of possible universes become actual universes, brought to life by one big bang after another. Our universe is then virtually guaranteed to be among them. And because of the special features necessary for our form of life, that’s the universe we inhabit.

My mind was thoroughly boggled.

The question you might ask is: What does this have to do with the anthrax attacks of 2001?  The answer is: It's about understanding what the facts mean and about asking the right questions, which is what resulted in the FBI finding the right answer for the Amerithrax investigation.   You can have facts A, B and C and come to a conclusion that will be shown to be totally wrong when you uncover Fact D.

But, Fact D cannot alter facts A, B and C, because facts are facts.  They are not right or wrong.  Individual facts cannot change.  However, Fact D can show that there were other possibilities that facts A, B and C did not seem to indicate.   

All the facts which said that the sun revolved around the earth were still facts when new facts showed that the earth revolved around the sun.  Fact A: The sun appears to move.  Fact B: The earth does not appear to move. 
Fact C: We do not feel the movement of the earth rotating at 1,000 mph., we do not get flung away from the earth.  But everything changes when you understand Fact D:  If you are moving at the same rate as the ground under you and the air around you, it will feel like you are not moving even though you, the ground and the air are all moving together through empty space at 1,000 mph.

So, Facts A through ZZZ say that Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  Any new fact or facts showing someone else was the anthrax mailer would have to explain why all the previous facts do not show what they seem to show.

That's why Anthrax Truthers only discuss beliefs and opinions.  They may have "facts" which they believe show someone else was the anthrax mailer (e.g., it may be a "fact" that their next door neighbor is "weird" and acts "suspiciously"), but their "facts" become meaningless when they all are shown to have different facts pointing to different suspects, and no one has any facts which can prove that all the existing facts pointing to Bruce Ivins are just incorrectly interpreted.   
  

May 24-25, 2012 - Finding myself with little to do while waiting for a response from the agent who is looking at my new book about the Amerithrax case, I checked though my web site logs for Wednesday to see why there were more visitors on May 23 than on any previous day in May.   I couldn't find any answer to that question, but I found three successful POSTs by someone with an IP address located in the Ukraine:

94.179.121.224 - - [23/May/2012:10:30:27 -0400] "POST / HTTP/1.1" 200 63888 "http://domcom.es/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; ru; rv:1.9.0.13) Gecko/2009073022 Firefox/3.0.13 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)"
94.179.121.224 - - [23/May/2012:10:30:28 -0400] "POST / HTTP/1.1" 200 104544 "http://domcom.es/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; ru; rv:1.9.0.13) Gecko/2009073022 Firefox/3.0.13 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)"
94.179.121.224 - - [23/May/2012:10:30:28 -0400] "POST / HTTP/1.1" 200 17424 "http://domcom.es/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; ru; rv:1.9.0.13) Gecko/2009073022 Firefox/3.0.13 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)"

Even though these POSTs contained a Spanish web site address in them, instead of the Russian web site addresses that were in previous suspicious activity, I still became concerned that it was the start of some kind of new "Russian/Ukrainian problem."

I asked my web site host about it, but they assured me that the POSTs didn't actually POST anything on my site, even though they got an "okay" return code of 200. 

When I put things on my web site or update thing on my web site, nothing appears in the web site log entries I see.  But, my web site host has a different log were my updates DO appear.  And, that log didn't show any updates by 94.179.121.224 on May 23.   (So, that seems to mean that if someone stole my password and updated my site, I wouldn't see any sign of it on my logs.  I don't see my update activities on my log, so I wouldn't see theirs, either.  The first indication of a problem would probably be when someone emails me to say that my web site was now filled with pictures of Chinese menu items.) 

I occasionally see people use the POST command and get a 403 response code, which means they executed a forbidden command.   But, if my memory is working correctly, every time I saw that, they were trying to post something new to my site.  The POSTs done on the 23rd by the Ukrainians were posts to replace my main page.  So, they were POSTing something that was already there, and it was "successful."

It doesn't make any sense, but my host doesn't think it's a problem.  Most of what he wrote me is in Host-jargon and largely jibberish to me, but, it appears that the Ukranians used the POST command instead of the HEAD command to get some kind of reading or response.  It was more like a probe or test than an actual POST.

I don't fully understand it, but I have no reason to believe that they were doing anything harmful.  So, I'll just chalk it up as Ukrainians doing Ukrainian things the Ukrainian way.

May 23, 2012 - Off-topic and FWIW, I was going through my logs and noticed someone had linked from the site HERE which about the Ricky McCormick case and contains pictures I've never seen before.

May 22, 2012 (B) - Hmm.  I found another footnote number which needed a source.  It was footnote number 11 in Chapter 15 of my book where I wrote:

            Each sample was potential evidence and had to be treated accordingly.  Each sample had to have a green federal chain of custody form associated with it.  And each form had to relate to an evidence tracking folder.  And each evidence-tracking folder would eventually have over a hundred sheets of paper in it.  Hallways in the Animal Assessment Division and elsewhere within Building 1425 were becoming lined with filing boxes filled with the evidence folders.11

But, I spent hours searching and couldn't find where I'd read that.  I thought it might be in Willman's book, but I couldn't find it.  I tried Guillemin's book, but I couldn't find it.  I tried Richard Preston's book "The Demon in the Freezer," but I couldn't find it there, either.  I even tried Robert Graysmith's book "Amerithrax: The Hunt for the Anthrax Killer."  I tried several on-line searches using different search arguments, and then suddenly there it was: It was in Preston's book on page 171:

The work was done by USAMRIID's Diagnostic Systems Division, headed by an Army microbiologist, Lieutenant Colonel Erik Henchal. The samples were largely environmental swabs-from the Brentwood postal facility, from Capitol Hill, from postal facilities in New
Jersey, and from New York City. Each sample was a piece of federal criminal evidence and had to be documented with green chain-of-custody forms. Institute scientists ran ten separate tests on each sample, and every sample ended up matched to an evidence- tracking folder with more than one hundred sheets of paper in it. The hallways of the Institute were jammed with filing boxes full of these folders. In the end, USAMRIID scientists would analyze more than thirty thousand samples related to the anthrax terrorism-far more than any other lab, including the CDC.

I hadn't been able to find the reworded information by eyeballing for it, but an on-line search found it.  And, it found the entire book in pdf format.   I quickly downloaded a copy, so if I ever need to search through Preston's book again, I can search through the pdf copy instead of again trying to eyeball it.

May 22, 2012 (A) - While paging through Jeanne Guillemin's book "American Anthrax" to see if there was anything
in the passages I'd highlighted when I read the book months ago that needed to be mentioned in my own book, I found a couple things of interest:

From page 215:


Ezzell and others knew that putting a suspension of spores in a centrifuge would create a pellet of graded purity: shave off and dry the whiter layer and you had a powder similar to the anthrax letter material.  It was by no means a mass production method, but it would have been sufficient for the five anthrax letters.

Okay.  That's what I'd been saying for over ten years.  Creating pure anthrax powder is fairly easy to do in a well-equipped lab.  Any microbiology grad student should be able to do it.  But, it's nice to have someone else saying the same thing.  However, I didn't see that I needed to add Guillemin's statement to my book. 

Looking further, I found this on page 241:


Although long retired from the institute, Spertzel refused to believe that Ivins could work alone there for hours. And despite common knowledge about the use of a centrifuge to make pure spore powder, Spertzel still refused to believe the USAMRIID had the equipment to create "essentially pure spores".

Others at USAMRIID, certainly John Ezzell and Art Friedlander, knew better but remained silent and let the Spertzel claim stand. Adding to the confusion, on August 4 [2008], a USA Today  interview with former USAMRIID commander David Franz misquoted him, making it seem he agreed with Spertzel. Franz quickly emailed the reporter: "We [at USAMRIID] absolutely had, and they still have, the equipment to produce dried anthrax spore preps ... as do many laboratories in academe, industry and the rest of the the government."

Ah!  That's something I might want to mention in my book.  USAMRIID's commander had once stated that USAMRIID and "many laboratories in academe, industry and the rest of the government" had the ability to make anthrax powders.  And, with Ivins' years of experience purifying spores, he could have easily made the small quantities of a dry anthrax powder that were sent in the letters.

But, I needed to see the USA Today article.  It turned out to be a "Q&A about anthrax and the investigation" dated August 3, 2008 that I didn't have in my archives (but which I added today).  It said:

Q: Did Ivins and other researchers for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., work with dried anthrax spores?

A: No, says Col. David Franz, the institute's commander until 1998 and now with the Midwest Research Institute.

Q: Would Ivins have had the opportunity to make dried anthrax?

A: Not in the lab, Franz says.

Q: Did the lab have equipment to produce dried anthrax?

A: No, Franz says, adding that it would be difficult for Ivins or others to carry out the work without detection.

Ah. Yes, indeed, Dr. Franz did appear to fully agree with Richard Spertzel.  But there is no sign of any corrections to the USA Today article.

I found that the corrections appeared a year and a half later, on February 19, 2010, in a USA Today article titled "Q&A: Anthrax and Ivins Case" that was also missing from my archives (until today).  It said:

Q: Did Ivins and other researchers for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., work with dried anthrax spores?

A: The lab probably did have the capability to produce small quantities of dried anthrax spore preparations, says Col. David Franz, USAMRIID's commander until 1998, as do many other laboratories in academia, industry and government. But, USAMRIID chose not to set up a system to aerosolize dried anthrax, because wet anthrax was sufficient to carry out the institute's experiments and was much safer to use.

Q: Would Ivins have had the opportunity to make dried anthrax?

A: Franz doubts he had enough time and privacy to do so. Investigators suggested he had time during a spate of late-night work in 2001, prior to the attacks.

So, Franz acknowledged that Ivins had the equipment to make dry powders, and a flat "No" about Ivins' ability to make the dry powders turned into a "doubt."

There's probably something in there that I should mention in my book when I do the final version.  But do I emphasize that it took a year and a half for USA Today to release the correction, or do I emphasize that it's unclear what caused the "misquote" or when Dr. Franz asked for it to be corrected?  If it was a misquote, it was a massive misquote - "No" instead of "Yes."  It reads more like a change of mind from Dr. Franz -- a change from total disbelief to a reluctant acknowledgment of definite possibilities.

I'll probably wait to decide what to mention and what to emphasize when it's more clear what form the "final version" of my book will take.


May 20, 2012 -
Last week, a literary agent asked to see my book.   It wasn't the result of any query letter I'd sent, however.  It was because a successful science writer who has written many published books offered to assist me in finding an agent.  He first tried his current agent, but that didn't work out because the agent didn't want to work with a writer who hadn't been previously published.  Then the science writer tried the agent who'd helped him sell his first book.  He sent the agent a glowing recommendation, and on Thursday morning I received an email from the agency asking to see my book.

The agent wanted me to immediately send her the entire book via email.  That flustered me a bit, since I've had problems in the past with sending very large files via emails.  So, I tried sending myself the first 16 chapters.  That worked.  Then, instead of just trying larger and larger files until things stopped working, I simply sent the agent 16 chapters at a time, plus a fourth email that contained the unfinished "Notes & Resources" section (which is 42 pages in manuscript format).

About an hour later, I received an email saying, "
Not for us, thanks."

My heart sank.  What the f....? 

Then I noticed the email address belonged to one of the agents I'd queried the week before.  Whew!

The agent to whom I'd sent the book emailed me a few minutes later to say, "Got it all.  Thank you!  Back to you soon."

So, I'm waiting.  For the rest of Thursday and all day Friday, I'd jump every time Seven Of Nine from "Star Trek: Voyager" would say, "The internal comm link is active" (which is what my computer uses instead of "You've got mail"), but there was no further news, just silly arguments from "Anonymous" and another rejection on Friday from another agent who said, "I'm afraid that I am swamped with current commitments at the moment, and so I’m simply not able to consider your project." 

Needless to say, I greatly appreciate the assistance from the science writer.  Books about getting published tell you to try every published author you know to see if they will recommend you to their agent, to a publisher, or to some other agent.  But, that's something I have extreme difficulty doing, and I've never been able to do it.  The book authors I know, I don't know well enough to ask for favors, and the rest are reporters who I don't see any chance of helping me get a book published that criticizes what they have written and what they seem to believe about the Amerithrax investigation.  So, having an established writer write me offering to help me get an agent was a stunning surprise and very welcome.

Of course, having an agent read your book doesn't mean they'll actually try selling it for you.  It just means they'll read it to see if they want to represent it.  But, this will be the first time anyone but me has read the book.  Any comments or advice - no matter how trivial - would be welcome.  I think the book is probably "overwritten" in that it contains more information than is necessary to tell the story and to make the points.  But, it's much easier for editors to use a red pencil to delete material than to try to get an author to add new material where things are not fully explained.

So, we'll see what happens.

While eating lunch yesterday, something happened that seemed like a truly weird coincidence.  I was reading
a book of "Peanuts" cartoons titled "You're Out of Sight, Charlie Brown" that I bought in the 1970's.  The cartoons started to be about Snoopy writing his novel.  Then I turned a page and saw this:
Snoopy's rejection slip

Meanwhile, early on Saturday I nearly finished the first draft of the "Notes & Resources" section.  It's only "nearly finished" because there's a paragraph in Chapter 29 where I put footnote number in the text but then I couldn't find the source I'd used.  So, I still need to figure out where I read that the FBI Repository was moved from one Ft. Detrick building to another at some point in time, and new restrictions were imposed on how the collection could be accessed.

The "Notes & Resources" section in the 6x9 book begins on page 442 and ends on page 470, making it  29 pages.   That made me smile and chuckle when "Anonymous" sent me an email with the subject "Ed has no regard for facts," complaining that I'd made a comment on my interactive blog that there have been "tens of thousands" of hoax letters, and "Anonymous" had found a source that said,
By Alexandra Seltzer
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: 7:06 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, 2012


While the spate of recent white powder incidents might seem to signal they are increasing, the number has remained about 300 incidents per year nationally since 2008, according to FBI statistics.

So, where there "tens of thousands" of hoaxes prior to 2008?   Maybe not.  Maybe I'd overestimated.  Doing some research on it, I found one source that said,

As a result of the anthrax letters, biohazard screening technologies costing millions of dollars were developed to detect and kill biological threats carried inside mail. Ten years, hundreds of suspicious substances on and hundreds of thousands of hoax white powder letters later, the legacy of those 2001 letters continues to have an impact.

I went back and posted enough information on the blog to show that the number is questionable, so people shouldn't stake their lives on it.  But, I don't have the time to find a definitive number, particularly in an argument with someone who doesn't care about the accuracy of his own information, he only looks for mistakes in what others write.  ("Anonymous" appears to have decided against posting anything further to my interactive blog, ever since I pointed out critical mistakes Paul Kemp had made which "Anonymous" seemed to totally accept and depend upon.)

Yesterday I developed a list of things I'll want to add to my book when I do the "Final draft" as I "typeset" it for printing.  So, I'll be adding things while I also try to trim it down a bit to get rid of some excess detail.  There are some photos I want to add, like the photo of Ivins in his lab I mentioned a couple times last week, the photo of the Leahy letter, and maybe a photo showing how an anthrax letter was taped shut.  There are some other photos from USAMRIID that I really want to see, but the FOIA request is still open and I'm still waiting.

I'm also waiting on the Ivins emails which are supposedly going to be released sometime soon.  If they do get released, will they generate some new headlines?  Will they contain clues as to what Ivins was thinking about blowing up with his ammonium nitrate bomb in January 2000?  Will they contain clues as to what made him think about building an ammonium nitrate bomb in the first place?  Will they contain comments about watching the movie "The Cell" in August or September of 2001, which could connect him to the J-Lo letter?  Will they contain any comments from when Ivins learned that Patricia Worsham was going to become his boss?  He almost certainly viewed it as a demotion, but did he make any comments to that effect?  And, why did Ivins write to Mara Linscott using terms one would typically use with a child?   How often did he do that?  And, will there be any response emails from Linscott in the collection when it's released?  And what did Ivins write to Mara's sister, Cheryl, who was Diane Ivins' best friend?  And, what did Diane think of Ivins sending those emails to people she knew?  Time may tell.

Something else I learned last week: I once read that Michaelangelo had said, "An artist never really finishes his work; he merely abandons it."  But, multiple sources on the Internet say it's actually a quote from
French poet, essayist, and philosopher Paul Valéry.  Either way, it's a quote I've used many times, because there comes a time when you have to abandon your book to a printer or publisher and put an end to the research, additions, deletions and other modifications.  It's never going to be perfect.  (I probably annoyed the hell out of David Willman and Jeanne Guillemin by sending them emails advising them of errors I found in their books.  And they did terrific jobs.)

When I started sending out query emails to agents, I went out and bought an extra ream of computer paper and a cardboard box for shipping a 750 page manuscript.  I didn't expect to be sending it out via emails.  (A couple decades ago, I had to print out 25 copies of my novel "Clipper" when my agent needed to send them to publishers.)  I also planned on taking a picture of myself and the manuscript for this web site to show how thick the manuscript was.  In addition,  a couple months ago I went on a reduced-sugar diet and lost about 10 pounds.  My sister wanted to see a recent picture of me.  So, on Wednesday, I took the photo below while working on Chapter 42 in the "Notes & Resources" section.   As I added footnote numbers to the text in the computer, I was marking the numbers in red on the paper copy. 

Me and my book

You can see that the book has very wide margins and is single spaced.  That's because it is in 6x9 book format but printed on 8½ x 11 paper.  (My sister and her husband love the FX network's TV series "Justified," which I also like and told them about.  The T-shirt came with the DVDs for the second season of "Justified.")  The computer monitor appears dark because of the angle and fact that I used the flash to illuminate everything else.

And, you can see I was smiling before the agent asked to read my book.  If the agent decides against representing it, the smile may go away for a moment or two as I go into "rejection-slip shock."  But, I've been there before, and any look of disappointment will quickly be replaced by a smile saying, "Well, I think it's a great book, and it's definitely 'just as good as a lot of other things you see being published these days'."  And then I'll start working on  "typesetting" the final version of the book.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, May 13, 2012, thru Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19, 2012 - I'm still receiving copies of Newsweek, even though my subscription ran out nearly a month ago.  For the first time in a long time, there were actually things of interest to me in this week's issue.  Mainly, I enjoyed an article by Paul Begala titled "Blame the Right" and subtitled  "The GOP puts party before country every time."

Of particular interest to me was the third paragraph:

Today’s Republicans are different. They truly have put partisanship ahead of patriotism, as the political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann document in their book, Even Worse Than it Looks. “The GOP,” they write, “has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

It was of interest to me because it seemed to apply to Anthrax Truthers, too.    Anthrax Truthers are "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of ... " the arguments from people who do not believe as they believe.

May 17, 2012 - Since I'm getting emails about it, I feel I should mention something about the latest series of 380 anthrax hoax letters.  Click HERE to view a large copy of the FBI's "representation" of the "letter evidence".  The hoax letter writer seems upset over inadequate work done by the FBI to protect America, yet the letter says "We are Al Qaeda."  Two "elite lower Manhattan schools" received hoax letters, yet the letters are being mailed in "North Texas."  Why would someone in Texas "who may not demonstrate a mastery of formal English" choose those schools as a targets?   It's one of those cases where there seem to be a lot of clues that don't make much sense.

I'll be watching for more information, but right now I'm too busy with my new book to get seriously curious about that case.  And, it's really when "experts" with opinions start disputing the experts with facts that I become truly interested.

After I mentioned the North Texas hoaxer, an Anthrax Truther posted a theory to my interactive blog stating that the North Texas hoaxer is probably the same person who sent the anthrax letters.  The Truther believes the FBI failed to get the right guy, of course ... so, maybe the Anthrax Truther's "suspect"did it all.   No one can prove it isn't possible.

May 16, 2012 - On Sunday, I wrote this about the picture of Bruce Ivins in his lab: "
I recall reading somewhere how, when Nancy Haigwood received a copy of the picture, she thought it was crazy for Ivins to be handling Petri dishes with his bare hands."   Here's that picture again:

Bruce Ivins in his lab  

I did some research and found a CNN article with Nancy Haigwood's comments.  The article says:

On November 14, 2001, Ivins e-mailed photos of himself to Nancy Haigwood, as well as former colleagues and family members, that showed him working with what he called "the now infamous" strain of anthrax used in the attacks.

The e-mail was striking, says Haigwood, because "we publish our work. We talk about it at conferences. [But] we don't e-mail photos with anthrax."
....

One picture stood out: a photo of Ivins without gloves supposedly handling a sample of anthrax. Haigwood interpreted this lack of the most rudimentary protection as a bragging message from Ivins, "a sign [that] 'I'm immune.'"

"It was more an 'Oh, no!' than an 'Aha!' moment," she says.

That's what triggered her call to the FBI in February 2002.

I had been thinking that the photo was taken before the anthrax attacks.  The fact that it was emailed after the attacks probably also means it was taken after the attacks.   And, Nancy Haigwood's comment that sending around the photo seems to indicate that Ivins was thinking "I'm immune" fits very nicely with the time frame.  Ivins had been asked to examine the Daschle and New York Post powders, so he was probably feeling that he'd gotten away with four murders.  November 14 also happens to be the day that Ottilie Lundgren first showed symptoms of inhalation anthrax.  In a week, she'd be dead.

So, if I add the photo to my book, the right place to add it would be after Ivins does the New York Post powder analysis and before Lundgren's death.  The emails by Ivins haven't shown up on the FBI vault web site yet.  I'd like to read the Nov. 14, 2001 email, too.  Maybe it says something I can use.

The Judge Advocate General says the picture is in the public domain.  Hopefully so.  But, I still need a good copy that doesn't have the Copyrighted by AP logo on it.   I'll send an FOIA request to the FBI today.

May 14, 2012 - I've located the post by Prof. Martin Hugh-Jones to ProMedMail.org that I mentioned in yesterday's comment.  The post is near the the bottom of the page that can be viewed by clicking HERE.   Prof. Hugh-Jones wrote,

[The key sentence is the last: "The absence of meglumine and diatrizoate on the evidentiary material ... was supportive to the investigation in indicating that the evidentiary spore material [in the letters] was not diverted directly from RMR-1029." So Bruce Ivins could not have brewed up these spores working after hours as proposed by the FBI. It had to have been done elsewhere in an institute that did not employ "RenoCal-76(R) or similar products to purify spores."

It is hard to understand why it has taken so long for this information to be published, more than 10 years since the events of October 2001. One can think of various scenarios but Swider and her colleagues, and their superiors, are to be congratulated on their institutional courage as there must have been pressures to not do so. - Mod.MHJ]

Interestingly, there's a similar post by a Dr. Dennis Grant HERE.  And there's another post by Martin Hugh-Jones at the end of Dr. Grant's post:
[Dennis raises the question whether the renografin (meglumine or 
diatrizoate) could have been washed off during washing the spores.
A fair question and if there any members with sound expert
knowledge on this subject, we would be glad to hear from them.

If the renografin chemicals cannot be removed by washing this
would put the letter spores' origin immediately away from the
RMR-1029 flask, even if cultured from a common source or from
material shared taken from the flask. I would remind members
that the letter contents had a _B. subtilis_ contaminant, which
was not found in the contents of the RMR-1029 flask. While the
FBI dismissed the importance of this contaminant Bacillus it has
the potential of being an institutional fingerprint. - Mod MHJ]
The arguments, of course, are totally absurd.  It's just mistaken beliefs from "experts" who haven't bothered to look at the facts.  There was no need to use renografin to purify the spores.  And there was no B subtilis contaminant in the senate letters.  Therefore, all that was needed to produce the contaminant in the media powders was to have one plate contain the contaminant.   That doesn't constitute an "institutional fingerprint."

Here are a couple additional facts that occurred to me this morning:

FACT #1: When the New York Post letter was found, it was immediately determined that the powder inside consisted of about 90% matrix material and agar, with only about 10% spores.  (Matrix material is the afterbirth of sporulation.  It's the carcasses of the mother germs naturally dissolved into slime.)   The contents of flask RMR-1029 consisted of pure spores in distilled water with a few drops of an anti-fugus agent.   So, if the attack spores had been taken directly from flask RMR-1029, where did the matrix material and agar come from?  (The NAS might argue that it is scientifically possible to add matrix material and agar to pure spores, but it certainly makes absolutely no sense to do so.)  And this means the FBI knew in October 2001 that the spores didn't come directly from flask RMR-1029, even though they hadn't even heard of flask RMR-1029 at the time.

FACT #2: Early in the case, in October 2001, the media created a belief that the Ames strain came from a lab at the Iowa State University in Ames Iowa.  And, the media found "experts" who believed the Ames strain may have originated back in the 1950's during the development of bioweapons, and the spores could have been stolen from weaponized stocks stored at that time.  Scientists working for the FBI, however, quickly determined via tests similar to carbon dating that the attack spores were no more than two years old.  So, they could not have originated back in the 1950's.  And, although flask RMR-1029 wasn't even a subject of discussion at the time, the tests also proved the spores couldn't have come directly from flask RMR-1029, since the spores in that flask were created in 1997, four years before the mailings.

So, the FBI had proof that the attack spores did not come directly from flask RMR-1029 long before that flask was even a subject of discussion.  The current argument seems to be made up by conspiracy theorists who believe that Ivins didn't have the time to make the spores found in the letters, so the FBI must believe the spores came directly from flask RMR-1029.  And, of course, the reason conspiracy theorists have that mistaken belief is their other nonsensical beliefs about when Ivins would have started making the spores and how he could only have made and dried the spores using standard lab practices.     

May 13, 2012 -
Last week was a fairly busy week for me, even though I didn't make as much progress on my new book as I'd hoped.  I've just finished Chapter 32 in the "Notes & Resources" section.  That means I only managed to compile the references for 7 chapters last week, and I still have 16 chapters left to go.

On my interactive blog, I managed to get "Anonymous" to attempt to argue facts instead of just declaring his mistaken beliefs.  He tried arguing about how computers worked, using his beliefs against my 20+ years of actual experience developing computer systems.  Then he tried to support Bruce Ivins' lawyer Paul Kemp's mistaken beliefs about Ivins' first submission to the FBIR.  His beliefs were quickly trounced by my solid facts.  As a result, I appear to have backed "Anonymous" into a corner, which means he's gone quiet and hasn't posted anything since Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, I decided that I'd waited long enough for responses to the two query letters I sent to two large literary agencies on April 11 and 17.  I decided to assume that no reply in a month means they aren't interested.  So, I sent out a dozen new query emails to smaller agencies.  On Thursday I received a "too busy to take on new clients" response from one agency, and on Friday I received a  "Thanks but this is not for me" from another agency.   No other responses so far.

On Friday, I received a phone call from the FBI about an FOIA request I'd sent them a week ago.   Among other things, I'd asked for a large photo of the Leahy anthrax letter. 
I didn't recall ever seeing a copy of the Leahy letter except for pictures of it being unfolded.  I wanted to see it laying flat next to a ruler so I could try to see if it was trimmed differently than the Daschle letter.  Early in the investigation I noticed that the Brokaw letter (#1 below), the NY Post letter (#2) and the Daschle letter #3) were each trimmed differently to make them fit more easily into the small size post office envelope, and I wondered if the culprit may have saved the trimmings to use as proof that he sent the letters.  I thought the culprit may have believed the letters could make him a hero if it turned out he had warned America just in time to put everyone on alert immediately before a real anthax attack from real Muslim terrorists was launched.

comparing how letters were trimmed

During the phone call from the FBI, I was advised that there's a fairly large copy of the Leahy letter in pdf format on the Department of Justice's web site HERE.  After converting it to .jpg format and slightly reducing it in size, it looks like this:

Leahy letter

Looking through my files, I found that I'd downloaded everything from the DOJ site on February 19, 2010, at the same time I downloaded and saved all the FBI case files.  So, I already had the Leahy letter in .pdf format.  I'd just forgotten about it because it wasn't like the .TIF versions of the letters and envelopes I'd recieved in 2002 or so.

The photos of the Leahy and Daschle letters appear to have been taken from slightly different angles.   I drew a red line along the edge of the Leahy letter and a black line along the edge of the Daschle letter and then digitally overlaid them, attempting to get the text to line up perfectly.  I wasn't able to the a perfect lineup, but I can see enough to be relatively certain that the two letters were trimmed approximately the same way.

Daschle and Leahy letter size comparison

So, it appears that Bruce Ivins wasn't thinking as much about becoming a hero and saving America from a catastrophic bioweapons attack when the sent the senate letters in October as he was when he sent the media letters in September.  That's evidently also why there isn't any "hidden message" in the senate letter.  And that's what I'd been figuring.

The DOJ's full Amerithrax web site is HERE and contains a couple other pdf images of interest.   In my January 20, 2012 (A) comment, I  posted  a black and white copy of a photo of an anthrax culture with notes by Ivins.  The DOJ site has a color version of the same photo.  But, I'm not enough of an expert to analyze the picture to see what Ivins thought he was seeing in the culture.  All the colonies look the same to me.

There's also a photo of page 404 of Gödel, Escher Bach on the DOJ site.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have any notations or marks by Ivins on the page proving that he read the page.  I'd been thinking of sending out an FOIA request for any markings on any pages on or after 404.  But it no longer seems like a worthwhile effort.  The page is also identical to page 404 in the copy of GEB that I have in my library (and there are no marks on it or on pages after it, even though I read the page).

I also asked the FBI FOIA person about the Ivins emails that are supposed to show up on vault.fbi.gov sometime soon.  There doesn't appear to be anything on the home page of that site that says where to find Amerithrax documents.  "Amerithrax" and "anthrax" aren't in the A-Z directory, and neither is "Ivins, Bruce".  But doing a search for "anthrax" will take you to a page for Amerithrax at vault.fbi.gov/Amerithrax where they have their own copies of the FBI case files.  It's easy to find, if you know where to look.  So, that may be where the Ivins emails will show up - if and when they show up.

While looking at the pdf images on the DOJ site, I noticed something else.  Here's a comparison of the photo I have of the New York Post letter on my site versus the photo of the same letter on the DOJ's site:

Comparison of photos of NY Post letter

They're different photos, but probably taken around the same time.  Note that in the photo from my site on the left, the bottom left corner of the letter is below the gray rectangle on the ruler, but on the DOJ photo on the right, that same corner is higher.  So, they are not the same photo with one distorted and color adjusted.  Why do the images appear to be so different?  I don't think it's evidence of any kind of evil criminal conspiracy.  It may be partly the result of converting it into a pdf file to fit some standard slide or page size.  Check out the distorted shape of the Leahy envelope on the DOJ's site HERE.  Whatever the reason for the distortions, the versions from my site are closest to reality.

The DOJ probably has the pictures in .pdf format so no one can "hot link" them, i.e., show them on someone else's site by a special kind of link to the image on the DOJ site.  For example, the picture below is shown via a "hot link":

Bruce Ivins in his lab  

The photograph is an illustration from a February 16, 2011 article on the web site of the UK newspaper The Daily Mail.  As you can see, it says on the picture in the lower left corner that it's copyrighted by the Associated Press.  But, is it?  How did an AP photographer get into Bruce Ivins' secure BSL-3 lab to take the picture?  If it wasn't taken by an AP photographer, how did AP get the copyrights? 

In David Willman's book "The Mirage Man," there's a black and white version of the same picture, and Willman says that it was provided by USAMRIID.  But, was it?   If it was provided by USAMRIID, then AP doesn't own the copyrights.  I sent a FOIA request to USAMRIID, and they don't have a copy of the picture in their files.  They don't seem to know where it came from. 

My recollection is that it was taken by Ivins himself (or by an associate), and Ivins sent it around via emails to people to show them how he worked in his lab.  I recall reading somewhere how, when Nancy Haigwood received a copy of the picture, she thought it was crazy for Ivins to be handling Petri dishes with his bare hands.

So, if I want to use the photograph in my book, I need to try to track down the source to see if it is actually owned by AP or someone else, or if it is in the public domain.

I'll try to track down the comment Nancy Haigwood made about it.  Or I could just wait for Ivins' emails to appear on vault.fbi.gov to see if his emails explain how the picture was taken and who took it.  Or I could try asking the FBI.  I don't currently use the photo in my new book, but I'd definitely like to add it.  What I'm rambling on about is how difficult and time consuming it can be to track down the source of something.

Some of my time last week was also spent responding to emails from a science writer who was comparing my statements about the source of the attack anthrax to comments made by Martin Hugh-Jones in response to an article titled "Trace Detection of Meglumine and Diatrizoate from Bacillus Spore Samples Using Liquid Chromatograpy/Mass Spectrometry."  The same subject was commented upon on Lew Weinstein's web site last week.  Conspiracy theorists and True Believers are using the article to once again argue that Bruce Ivins couldn't have made the attack powders. 

The email from the science writer included copies of other emails he'd been sent from other scientists as they pondered how Ivins could have made the powders.   And there was an email that Martin Hugh-Jones supposedly sent to ProMedMail.org which implied that the fact that the attack spores didn't come directly from flask RMR-1029 was almost proof of Ivins' innocence, since Ivins couldn't have made the spores himself in the time he had.  I explained to the science writer (and to Martin Hugh-Jones) how easy it was for Ivins to do it

It's a very complex subject.  I can understand how scientists just getting into the subject with little prior knowledge of the Amerithrax case can be easily confused.  

What the world really needs is a book that steps through the entire case, almost day by day, point by point, discovery by discovery until it's made totally clear that Ivins was the anthrax mailer and the FBI did a terrific job in tracking him down.   Hmm.   I think I know where people will be able to find the book ... as soon as I finish writing it and get it published. smiley face

Updates & Changes: Sunday, May 6, 2012, thru Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 9, 2010 - One problem with arguing about the same subject for over ten years is that it gets increasingly difficult to remember everything you've already argued about.  At 4:05 a.m this morning, on my interactive blog, "Anonymous" wrote that he had just uploaded Ivins' attorney Paul Kemp's November 29, 2010 presentation to the conspiracy theorist seminar that took place on that date.  It's been a complaint of mine that he only uploaded parts of that seminar that served his cause, while not uploading key parts that would provide a more accurate and comprehensive view (like his presentation, Dr. Nass's presentation, and John Ezzell's comment that Ivins could have made the attack anthrax).  Thinking it was therefore something new, I viewed the two YouTube videos he had uploaded, and I commented on them.  But, then I had the feeling it was all stuff I'd seen before.  So, I checked and found that I'd viewed it all and debunked it all in my December 2, 2010 comment and in later comments.  So, I had to go back and modify my response to "Anonymous."  And, "Anonymous" has wasted my time once again.

But, the review of old material also showed me how my new book thoroughly debunks everything Mr. Kemp claimed about Ivins' innocence during that seminar.    


May 8, 2012 - There's something else I'll be looking for in Bruce Ivins' emails when they appear on vault.fbi.gov.  I'll be looking for any indication that Ivins watched the movie "The Cell" during the weeks prior to 9/11.  Right now, I only have a question: Did Bruce Ivins also send "The J-Lo Letter"?  I have few indications (a.k.a. "facts") that he did, but those indications are very tenuous.  However, if Ivins watched "The Cell" during that time frame, it would no longer be just a question, it would become a working hypothesis.  And I would have to go back an modify some comments in my book.

On my interactive blog yesterday, "Anonymous" brought to my attention a question about the other subject I'll be looking for in Ivins' emails: What did Ivins plan to do with the ammonium nitrate bomb he was making in January 2000?  David Willman's book "The Mirage Man" seems to make it clear on page 50 that Ivins mentioned the bomb plan to his psychiatrist Dr. David Irwin in February of 2000.  But a newspaper article by Willman suggests that Ivins may also have mentioned the bomb plan to one of his mental health counselors in July 2000.  And, any mention of that counselor sends "Anonymous" into ranting hysterics.  (He posted 11 messages about it last night and this morning, and he sent me an email.)  I currently have a working hypothesis about the purpose of that bomb.  But, some kind of confirmation would be nice. 

Meanwhile, a relative sent me a YouTube video titled "What happens when you ask a Boeing engineer to fix your lawnmower."   It's totally off subject, unless you tie it into what appears to be "Anonymous's" latest worry, that Muslim terrorists might use ultra-light drone aircraft to disperse anthrax spores on American cities.

May 6, 2012 (B) - Uh oh.  The Sept. 17, 2001 email I mentioned in Saturday's comment was continuing to bug me, and I wondered what I'd written about it in my book.   So, I looked for a mention of it and found it on page 80, where I said it was an email sent to Mara Linscott.  And I quoted part of the email with a recently added footnote to the source.  The source was page 46 of the FBI/DOJ Summary Report which says:

By the summer of 2001, his depression had increased. In fact, his prescription for the anti-depressant Celexa was doubled shortly before the mailings. The increasingly intractable troubles with the anthrax vaccine projects were compounded by the loss he felt with the absence of this former colleague[#1], who, as is clear from the above e-mails, was an integral part of his mental well being. When she was responsive to his e-mails, he felt better; when she was distant, he felt worse.30 As he noted to her in an e-mail on September 17, 2001 – the day the first letters were mailed – “I haven’t been feeling so good lately because of all that’s going on. I really can’t talk to [my wife], and I don’t say that much to [Former Colleague #2] or anyone else. The group I’m in is only moderately helpful. I’m glad some of us are going to Covance tomorrow with some vaccine. It will be good to get away. I wish I had someone here that I could really open up to at times like this.”

So, the Summary report says the email was to Mara Linscott.  And, as a result, so does my own book.

But, that was based upon the source and the small quotes from the email.  When looking at the entire email, the content appears very different.  Why?

Evidently, I'd pictured the relationship between Ivins and Mara very differently.  I'd been thinking of that relationship as being similar to Ivins' largely one-sided relationship with Nancy Haigwood.  Yet, in the parts of the email not shown in the Summary Report, Ivins writes to Mara like he's writing to a daughter or a child.  Why would he write about the "neat things" Mara was "getting into" in her third year of medical school?  Why would Ivins offer to send melatonin to a third year medical student?  I can imagine that Mara may have been in Europe or somewhere distant while on vacation over the summer, and she was having a hard time adjusting to the time difference now that she was back at the University of Buffalo, but I wouldn't have expected that she would write to Bruce Ivins to tell him about it.  My previous impression was that Ivins was doing nearly all the writing, and Mara was just responding perfunctorily as Nancy Haigwood did.  Now I'm seeing much more of a two-way relationship, with Mara looking upon Ivins as somewhat of a father figure.  That probably explains why Mara seems to have defended Ivins after his suicide.  And, it may explain why Diane Ivins tolerated the relationship for so long.  (The email even implies that Mara visited with both Bruce and Diane at their home.)

The Summary Report has this footnote on the bottom of page 46:

30 Over the course of her first few years after she left USAMRIID, Former Colleague #1 was inundated with e-mails from Dr. Ivins, literally hundreds and hundreds of them, many of extraordinary length and detail. As she stated in numerous interviews, she frequently did not reply to those e-mails for days, and when she did it was often in a cursory fashion.

That's probably where I got the wrong impression from.  There was nothing "cursory" about the email that resulted in Ivins' September 17 response.

None of this makes any difference to the case.  And it doesn't change a word in my book. But it definitely gives me a different view of Ivins' "obsession" with Mara.  And, I'm going to be looking for more about that "obsession" when the FBI releases those new emails.  I like to understand things, even if they aren't critically important.  And I want to learn and understand more about the Bruce Ivins-Mara Linscott relationship.    


May 6, 2012 (A) -
Hmmm.  Last week was another very interesting week.   Last Sunday I wrote about an email I'd received from an Anthrax Truther who believed the same person who wrote the anthrax letters in 2001 also wrote letters associated with the Chicago Lipstick murders and the Black Dahlia case in the 1940's.  Then on Friday I spotted a press release about a book written by another Anthrax Truther who evidently believes the anthrax letters are connected to the New Hampshire State Lottery.

Both theories were new to me.  Over the years, I've heard from dozens of Anthrax Truthers who are absolutely certain they know who sent the anthrax letters.  As far as I can tell, every one of the Truthers still firmly believes his or her theory.

Those two new theories make me wonder how many other unique theories there are out there that I don't know about.  There's got to be thousands! 

How many people who are not Internet savvy have unique theories they can't tell to the entire world?  I recall getting a couple emails years ago from a woman who wanted me to talk with her father because her father had a theory about the case, and he wouldn't shut up about it.  Her father wasn't computer savvy, so the woman wanted me to telephone him to ask him about his theory.  I told her I was sorry, but I refused.  What good could I do?  It doesn't appear that anyone can talk Anthrax Truthers out of what they so firmly believe.  Every time I try, they just tell me I'm close-minded because I refuse to accept the facts as they view the facts. 

There's one Anthrax Truther with whom I've been arguing for over 10 years.  We're still arguing on my interactive blog where he posts as "Anonymous."  He differs from all the others in that he is a True Believer who is aggressively out to convert the world to his beliefs.  He doesn't merely believe the FBI is wrong about who sent the letters, he seems to believe we could all be doomed if we don't believe what he believes.

Here's what he says when he posts as "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's web site:

Amerithrax represents the greatest failure in intelligence analysis in United States history.

And why is Amerithrax America's "greatest intelligence failure"?  He explains:

Amerithrax, not 911, represents the greatest intelligence failure in the United States — because the greatest failure is the one that is ongoing.

He has made similar statements over and over and over as if he's chanting some kind of mantra.  And he explains what his main concern is:

And having failed to solve Amerithrax, I am expecting DC and NYC to be attacked in a mass anthrax attack.

He evidently believes that any future attack would be proof that Muslims were behind the anthrax attacks of 2001, even if it's another ten years after the anthrax attacks and there's still no provable connection.  And he's evidently the only person on the planet who can see the "truth."  All he needs are the right documents to prove it - even though on my blog he says he has 9,000 pages of documents that I haven't seen, but which evidently prove nothing, since he still wants more:

I think that if there is an attack, those responsible for the botched intelligence analysis will be easy to trace if they continue to withhold documents and continue to fail to correct their mistakes.

And here's another statement about his concerns:

In the case of Amerithrax, only the proactive steps taken on the FBI’s own initiative will ever serve to set things back on track. If the FBI does not know the bad guys are still out there, then the country is at grave peril.

It's a very bizarre belief, since he seems to think that, because the FBI proved that the anthrax letters were sent by Bruce Ivins, that means that no one in the government is trying to prevent a new bioweapons attack from Muslim terrorists.  He seems to be saying, if we couldn't prevent a first bioweapons attack from Muslim terrorists, then we are incapable of preventing a second attack.  And it doesn't make any difference how many government agents are actually working every day to prevent such an attack.

On the other hand, "Anonymous" is doing some helpful things.  He announced a couple days ago that, as a result of a Freedom Of Information Act request sent to the FBI, the Bureau is going to be releasing a new bunch of Bruce Ivins' emails.  It's difficult to tell exactly what was specifically requested or who made the request, but we're apparently going to get those emails "within a database of other emails by Bruce Ivins."  The emails will supposedly be made available on vault.fbi.gov sometime in the near future.   However, since all names of individuals in the emails will almost certainly be redacted, that means we won't be able to tell which emails were to Mara Linscott or anyone else.

But, we might be able to figure it out.

As I noted in yesterday's comment about the Sept. 17, 2001 email, Ivins probably doesn't write the same way and say the same things to multiple people in his personal emails.   So, by analyzing tone and subject matter, we should be able to separate emails sent to Mara Linscott from emails sent to family members and friends and relatives in Ohio with some degree of accuracy.

But, more importantly for me, the emails might help solve some mysteries

The biggest mystery the emails might help solve is what Ivins was planning to do with the ammonium nitrate bomb he was thinking about making in January 2000.  What was on his mind at that time when he first started seeing Dr. David Irwin, evidently because of his concerns about that bomb plan?  His emails from that time might enable me to figure it out with greater certainty.  For my book, I've already determined the most likely reason for making the bomb, but my reasoning was based upon very few very tenuous facts.  I would like to have a lot more facts.  But, I also think that if the emails had any information related to Ivins' plans for the bomb - no matter how vague - someone in the FBI or the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel would have mentioned it.

It never occurred to me to ask the FBI for Ivins' emails from that period of time.  (And I'll have to wait and see if Ivins' emails from that time will be part of what is going to be released).  So, I'm glad someone asked for those emails.  The more information we have the better, even if it also means there's more information that "Anonymous" will try to distort or ignore in order to retain his beliefs.

It also makes me think there are some other pieces of information I should ask for.  Long ago I asked for a photo of the back of one or more of the anthrax envelopes to see how they were taped shut.  But, that was before the case was closed, and they wouldn't release such information related to an open case.  Since then, I found a photo of one of the taped envelopes on page 117 of the "Auxiliary Documents" on the NAS CD.  But, it's a very lousy Xerox-type copy, and I'd like to see a better picture.  There's also an FBI photo I've seen that might make a good addition for my book if I can get a good copy.  And, there are some photos taken at USAMRIID that I'd very much like to see.  They'd make great additions to my book.  I haven't had much luck in getting information out of USAMRIID, but a formal FOIA request might work.  I'll send out one tomorrow.

The difference between what "Anonymous" and I  look for is that I look for things that will help clarify what is already known, and "Anonymous" seems to look for things that he can use to distort the facts and obfuscate with irrelevancy. 

Meanwhile, I'm currently working on Chapter 25 in the "Notes & Resources" section of my new book.  Only 23 chapters left to go.  Since the "Notes" section is currently 15 pages long, that indicates it will probably consist of between 25 and 30 pages when I'm done in about 2 weeks.   But assembling the information on those pages is a LOT of very tedious work.  I thought I'd done a good job of keeping track of my sources while writing the book, but it apparently wasn't as good as it could have been. 

The new pictures I mentioned above would just add more illustrations to my book. They won't change the text.  If the emails from Ivins contain something important, however, that's a different story.  But, it really just means I'll be making some last minute additions as I get into the final version where I do the actual "typesetting." 

And, of course, I need to avoid getting distracted too much by the endless arguments with "Anonymous."

Updates & Changes: Tuesday, May 1, 2012, thru Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 5, 2012 - I don't know if anyone else is going to be interested in this, but in an argument with "Anonymous" on my interactive blog the email Bruce Ivins sent out at 10:20 a.m. on the morning of September 17, 2001, came up.  An image of the email is HERE.  "Anonymous" has been making an issue of it because the email was not released by the government as fast as he wanted.

Here's the email in a more easily readable form:

Message 0438
Subject: RE:
From: "Ivins, Bruce E. Dr. USAMRIID" <Bruce Ivins @ [REDACTED]
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 10:20:02 - 0400
To: [REDACTED]

Message Body

Dear [REDACTED]
Thanks for your letter.  It sounds as if you are getting into a lot of really neat things, but I'm sorry that you are getting so little sleep.  [REDACTED TWO FULL LINES] mood is definitely much better, although she was quite worried that I was going to have to go to war.  I assured her that I would be here, and she felt better.  I haven't been feeling so good lately because of all that's going on.  I really can't talk to [REDACTED] and I don't say much to [REDACTED] or anyone else.  The group I'm in is only moderately helpful.  I'm glad some of us are going to Covance tomorrow with some vaccine.  It will be good to get away.  I wish I had someone here that I could really open up to at times like this.

I am so pleased [REDACTED THREE FULL LINES]   I remember from high-school one kid in cross country who wasn't very tall, but he was as muscular as a weight lifter, with no fat.  I was just skinny, [REDACTED OVER THREE LINES]

I hope you get some sleep.  Maybe I should send you some melatonin to help reset your biological clock!  Take care of yourself, and don't worry about not writing.  Your days and nights are packed, I'm sure.  I sometimes wonder how [REDACTED] are doing.  I always enjoyed hearing you talk about them when you were here.

Bruce

It's been assumed that the email was to Ivins' former assistant, Mara Linscott, who at that time was in her second year the University of Buffalo's medical school. 

But would Ivins talk about "getting into a lot of really neat things" to an adult in medical school?  And would he offer to send a medical student some melatonin?  Plus, there's the talk about a high-school student, and about someone - probably Diane Ivins - being afraid that Ivins would have to "go to war" because of 9/11.

The email seems to be to someone in the family, most likely Amanda, who would have been 17 or 18 at the time.  "Anonymous" says he has the email sent to Ivins and that it was from Mara Linscott.  But, wouldn't the sender's name be redacted on the incoming email just as it was on the reply?

What difference does it make?  None.  The entire email is irrelevant to the Amerithrax case, since it was proves nothing of value.  It was sent at 10:20 in the morning from USAMRIID, and it was known from his in-out logs that Ivins was at work at that time.  "Anonymous" just made a big deal of it, because the government didn't release it years ago.  But now it seems likely they didn't release it because it was a private family email.

However, if it isn't a private family email, and if it really is an email to Mara Linscott, it would seem that Ivins is talking to Mara as if she were a young daughter and not an adult medical student with whom he was infatuated. 

And why does Ivins think the person's "biological clock" needs to be reset?  That suggests that the person had just traveled to some place in another time zone.     

Groan.  Just what I don't need: another mystery. 


May 4, 2012 - Uh oh.  An Anthrax Truther has beaten me to the market with his book about the anthrax attacks of 2001, which he calls "
The Mystery of September 11 & the State Lotteries."  The Press Release from RedLead Press says:

The author, Harry Mason, provides compelling new evidence from state lotteries that reveals an obvious and suspicious pattern. Quite astonishingly, those results show a relationship to September 11, 2001. ....

After notifying the FBI of a possible linked to domestic terrorism and the "Anthrax Letters," Harry Mason becomes the victim of stalking and exploitation. ....

It is Harry Mason’s patriotism and strong moral beliefs that impel him to seek justice; not for him alone, but for all the innocent people who were victims of these attacks. It is his intention to bring this story to the forefront and to initiate a formal investigation.

The paperback book is 86 pages in length
, and it's print-on-demand, which means if you order it, the publisher will print a copy and send it to you.

It's stunning news.  Nevertheless, I plan to continue with my plans for my own book. smiley face


May 2, 2012 - The "McCormick code" doesn't have anything to do with the anthrax attacks of 2001, but I mentioned it in a comment in April 2011.  So, people doing Google searches continue to find my web page on the subject.  An email I received this morning included a link to a web site where the author claims to have decoded the message.  It's too far out of my areas of expertise to even give an opinion.  But, it's interesting to see how such things can intrigue others and cause them to spend endless hours on it.  And, unlike any other time in history, they now have a way to share their findings with the world -- whether their findings are right, wrong or incomprehensible.

May 1, 2012 (B) - This is off-topic in that it isn't about the investigating the anthrax attacks of 2001, but it is about investigating other "matters" (pun intended).  Click HERE to go to NASA's web site where you can watch a terrific animated cartoon in which the search for the Higgs boson is very nicely explained. 

May 1, 2012 (A) -
I've chalked off the latest Russian Mystery regarding my web site logs as just another one of those mysteries that I don't have the time to solve.  Maybe it's Russian spy masters communicating with their spies in other countries using a "book cipher" involving pages from my web site instead of an actual book.  Or maybe not.  I just don't have the time or interest to figure it out.

Meanwhile, on my interactive blog, "Anonymous" has been posting endlessly.  For example, yesterday evening he posted a link to a handwriting sample from Nawaf Al Hazmi, one of the 9/11 hijackers who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.  Here's the sample:
Handwriting sample from Al Hazmi   
And then "Anonymous" wrote:

I'll scan and send out exemplars with examples of "R" which you suggest is especially noteworthy and get it to you when it is uploaded. More importantly, I'll send them to qualified handwriting experts.

Evidently, since the original is upside down, "Anonymous" failed to notice that there is and example of an R in the above image.  It's in the word "ArABiA."  Clearly that "r" doesn't match the R's in the anthrax letters.  Nor does the very distinctive way Al Hazmi wrote the number 9.  Nor does the way he drew the number 1.   It doesn't take an expert to see that Al Hazmi's handwriting doesn't match the anthrax writing, but I doubt that "Anonymous" will accept my analysis or any analysis that doesn't confirm his beliefs. 

"Anonymous" seems determined to turn my interactive blog into a version of Lew Weinstein's blog where as "DXer" he endlessly posts materials irrelevant to the anthrax case.  And, when I stop letting his meaningless posts go through, he'll probably complain that I am preventing "the truth" from being seen.   But, c'est la vie.



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