& Changes: Sunday, December 30, 2012, thru Monday, December 31,
December 31, 2012 - I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!
December 30, 2012 (B) - This afternoon, someone brought to my attention an article on the Huffington Post web site titled "10 Mysteries Worthy of Sherlock Holmes's Time." The ten mysteries:
1. The case of the Tylenol murders
2. The adventure of the Pink Panthers
3. The case of the Somerton Man
4. The adventure of the Monster with 21 Faces
5. The mystery of the Aleppo Codex
6. The disappearance of Suzanne Jovin
7. The adventure of the Fool’s Gold
8. The Adventure of the St. Patrick’s Day heist
9. The mystery of the great hijacking of 1971
10. The Baker Street Burglary
All ten "mysteries" lack that magic ingredient that would get me interested: arguments between "experts." Plus, most of them took place in other countries, which complicates things. All the evidence in case #4 would probably be in Japanese. My Japanese reading skills are very rusty. Same with my French reading skills for mystery # 2. And my Hebrew reading skills are nil (mystery #5). Gold bullion heists (#7), jewelry thefts (#2), art thefts (#8) and bank robberies (#10) don't produce much controversy. Such crimes remain unsolved because there aren't enough clues, not because the "experts" failed to evaluate the clues properly. Everyone and his brother has been evaluating the clues in those cases because of the rewards involved. So, while it's "possible" that I might notice some key clues that everyone else has missed, the odds against it are about the same as the odds against the 2001 attack anthrax powders having actually originated with a theft from Dugway committed by Muslim terrorists: a kazillion to one against.
December 30, 2012 (A) - Yesterday, someone brought to my attention a new book that will be published on Feb. 26 by Melville House, a division of Random House. The "true crime" book "The Annals of Unsolved Crime" was written by Edward Jay Epstein, Ph.D., who has long had an alternative theory about the anthrax attacks of 2001.
The book includes a section about the anthrax attacks of 2001, which is presumably one of the "unsolved" crimes in the title. Others mentioned in the book:
The Lincoln assassination
The Lindbergh kidnapping
The Reichstag Fire
The Marilyn Monroe "suicide"
The Kennedy Assassination
The case of O.J. Simpson
I'll probably buy a copy, since it could be interesting to see what Dr. Epstein has to say about the anthrax attacks of 2001. Has he changed his mind about anything in the past 11 years? On December 24, 2001, Dr. Epstein's opinion piece "FBI Overlooks Foreign Sources of Anthrax" was published in the Wall Street Journal. Here's some of what he wrote back then:
The government seems hell-bent in its effort to limit the suspects in the anthrax mystery to a domestic loner. First, the FBI's behavioral analysis came up with the profile of a lone wolf based on its "exacting handwriting and linguistic analysis" of one letter that contained 18 words and another that contained 27 words. It suggested that the writer of these two letters was a single disgruntled American, not connected to the jihadist terrorists of Sept. 11 (even though the letter used the plural pronoun "we" and began with an underlined "9-11").and
The virulent strain of the Ames virus is also found abroad.
Over the years, I've written numerous times about Dr. Epstein's beliefs and how they seem to conflict with reality. For example, on December 21, 2009, Dr. Epstein wrote a blog entry titled "The Anthrax Case Falls Apart." In my December 22, 2009 comment, I pointed out that he said,
The Livermore scientists had tried 56 times to replicate the high silicon content without any success whatsoever. Even though they added increasingly high amounts of silicon to the media, they never even came close to the 1.4 percent in the attack anthrax. Most results were indeed an order of magnitude lower, with some as low as .001 percent. What these tests demonstrated is that the anthrax spores were not accidentally contaminated.
What he wrote was incorrect. As I explained on in my Dec. 22, 2009 comment, what those tests demonstrated was that increasing the amount of silicon in the growth media had no effect on the amount of silicon utilized by the Bacillus bacteria when forming spores. Some other factor caused the increase in the percentage of spores containing silicon. The "other factor" could have been something applied unintentionally, which some will argue is the same as being accidental.
At that time, in 2009, I had no idea what that "other factor" was. But, as I explained in my Dec. 17, 2012 (A) comment and in my new book, all the facts now say that the "other factor" was primarily and almost certainly the temperature at the time of sporulation. The spores grown at Lawrence Livermore were all grown at incubator temperatures, not at the room temperatures of inoculated plates that are tossed into autoclave bags and left to grow for weeks in a corner or under a lab table in Suite B3. Dr. Ivins may have intentionally used growths from those discarded plates, but the facts say he had no idea how the silicon content of the spores would be different from "normal." So, the silicon in the spore coats was added unintentionally or accidentally.
More recently, on September 17, 2011, Dr. Epstein produced an article titled "When Death Came Hand-Delivered" for the Wall Street Journal. It was supposed to be a review of David Willman's book "The Mirage Man" and Jeanne Gillemin's book "American Anthrax," but it was instead just an error-filled opinion piece by Dr. Epstein. I listed some of his errors in my September 17, 2011 comment. Here are the concluding paragraphs from Dr. Epstein's article:
The only fault I find with "The Mirage Man" is that it does not take sufficient account of the National Academy of Science report, which concluded that the anthrax in the letters could have as easily come from the Dugway Proving Ground as Ivin's lab. So it's possible that someone at Dugway, or elsewhere, stole a minute sample of anthrax any time after 1997 and, as in any classic espionage operation, delivered it to another party, foreign or domestic, who used it in September 2001.
After its 10-year quest, the
understandably wants closure. These two fine books help by laying out
the established facts. But so
long as the source of the killer anthrax remains in doubt, the crime
What sales of Dr. Epstein's book will probably point out is that a book about what is "possible" will get a much bigger audience than a book about "what the facts say." But, any new book or article about the anthrax attacks of 2001 can spur sales for other books on the same subject, even if the other books include one that is about "facts" and not just about "possibilities." My book, for example.
Last week, I thought a bit about writing a "fictionalized" version of "A Crime Unlike Any Other." The crime would probably have to be solved by a totally fictional FBI agent who is a composite of a half dozen real-life agents. In crime novels, you don't usually have a case where agents come and go and the key investigator who is there at the end wasn't the same key investigator who was there at the beginning or even in the middle.
But, the really big problem would be how the fictional villian is caught. Dr. Bruce Ivins was supposed to be "a top expert on Anthrax." Yet, he made one serious scientific mistake after another, the combination of which led to his downfall.
When Dr. Ivins committed the crime, the facts say he used the Ames strain because he believed it was a common strain used by labs all over the world, and thus totally untraceable. In reality, it was a very rare strain used primarily by his organization and traceable to a specific flask that he controlled. Who would believe such a thing if it was in a crime novel? In fiction, you can't have a scientist killer who doesn't know basic facts about the subject in which he's supposed to be a "top expert." No one would believe it. Yes, truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
A "crime novel" about the case would probably have to take so many liberties with the truth that it wouldn't really be about the case. It would just be "based on a true story." Most of the really interesting things about the real case would have to be omitted.
That's not what I want to do. Nor do I want to get into the details of some other crime, which is something someone suggested to me last week. The anthrax attacks of 2001 were truly "a crime unlike any other." It wasn't the solving of the crime that kept me interested for 11 years, it was the arguments between "experts" with opinions and experts with facts. Dr. Epstein will undoubtedly be presented by has publisher as an "expert" with "facts." But his "facts" are really just "possibilities." I'm not as interested in what is possible as I am in what is correct. For me to get interested in some other crime, it would have to involve "experts" arguing with each other over matters which I can investigate to determine who is correct and who is just talking "possibilities" to support and express their unshakable beliefs.
There aren't many crimes like that. Global warming isn't yet classified as a crime.
Meanwhile, I've more-or-less completed the digitizing of the slides and photos I shot over the decades. I digitized 2,411 slides and 2,302 B&W and color negatives. Total: 4,713 photos. But, I must have taken more than 12 shots of New Orleans during the two days I spent there in the 1980's. So, there are probably other slides or (more likely) photo negatives somewhere. I'm just not sure where to look. Nor am I certain that I want to spend any more time right now producing posters from my photographs.
Dr. Epstein's new book has made me want to think more about how to promote my new book without spending any serious money. I want more people to buy the book, but I don't want to spend thousands of dollars on advertising with the hope that I'll make it back in sales. I didn't write the book to make money. I wrote it to conclude my 11 years of "research" and to put my findings about the anthrax attacks down on paper. But, when I see someone write about their beliefs instead of what the facts say, I feel I should be doing more than what I am doing to get my new book before the public. But what?
& Changes: Sunday, December 23, 2012, thru Saturday, December 29,
December 24, 2012 - I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
December 23, 2012 - Even though it would have been way off-topic, I was tempted all last week to write something about the horrible killing of 20 school children and 6 adults in Newtown, Connecticut. But, I think most of what I would have said has already been said better by others. And, the things that haven't been said are probably best left unsaid. (One of the killer's relatives was interviewed on TV, and she talked about the guns she owned and how they might come in handy if the country goes over the "fiscal cliff" and things keep going the way she believes they have been going. She looked and talked like a survivalist, which made me think that Adam Lanza may not have been the only one with mental problems in that family.)
Then, of course, we got the head of the National Rifle Association telling the world that the solution to all the gun violence is to encourage more people to buy guns so that the "good guys" can more quickly shoot it out with the "bad guys."
And then there are the Republicans who would rather see the country collapse than pay taxes. They seem to believe that negotiating or even talking with anyone who doesn't share their rock-solid beliefs is a mortal sin.
True Believers are everywhere. And, they all think the same way. They know they are right. Facts are irrelevant to them. Anyone looking at the facts is just picking a fight and trying to argue against what the True Believers know to be the "truth. To them, facts that come from non-believers are meaningless. Facts which disagree with their beliefs are not the "right facts." Their solution is to get some "experts" to find the "real facts" which will agree with the beliefs of the True Believers. The True Believers cannot find the facts themselves, of course. But, they know the "real facts" are out there somewhere just waiting to be found. All that's needed is for the "experts" to ask the right questions. Asking the right questions will get the right answers. And, if they don't, then the "experts" are biased and just didn't try very hard.
It appears that the True Believers and conspiracy theorists arguing about the anthrax investigation are mostly just a "Lunatic Fringe" now. It's difficult to figure out just how many there are. A few hundred? A few thousand? Who knows? But the group includes some newspaper and other media people who are just waiting for something to happen that they can distort and turn into headlines.
I'm really feeling that my 11 years researching and arguing about the anthrax attacks of 2001 are over. I don't see much chance of any "new developments," although there are some hypotheses described in my book which I'm hoping will someday be fully confirmed. The idea I had of maybe producing a new short book about the science of the case now seems extremely unlikely to happen. The same with the idea of writing a book about how True Believers and conspiracy theorists think and argue. The most important facts are already discussed in my book "A Crime Unlike Any Other."
Except for my Sunday comments for this web site, I'm not even thinking about the case anymore. Athough I'm keeping my eye open for any news about the GAO report or any "scientific" articles from conspiracy theorists, mostly I'm wrapped up in other things. Yesterday, I finished creating a 24x36 inch poster consisting of 19 slides I took in Hong Kong in 1964. The digitized photos look terrific on high-gloss paper. Here's what the poster looks like:
Selecting photos, cleaning them up, and fitting them together is very labor-intensive work, but that's what a hobby is supposed to be. I'm also thinking of making single enlargements of some photographs I have. In one of my closets, I've got a bunch of 18x24 inch frames that now hold Frank Frazetta prints. I've probably got hundreds of really beautiful photos that would all look great enlarged. It's just a matter of picking the few that would look best on my walls. I've only looked at my slides. I've also got many hundreds of color and black and white photographs I haven't looked at in years.
What I'm really doing, I guess, is "idea hunting." These are all short projects, taking only a week or a month to complete. Hopefully, if things work out, I'll stumble across an idea that will keep me interested and be worth pursuing for years to come.
& Changes: Sunday, December 16, 2012, thru Saturday, December 22,
December 21, 2012 - This is off topic, but since today is supposed to be the end of the world (according to the Mayan calendar), I might as well document it:
I "finished" digitizing all my slides. I thought there would be "at least 3,000," but it turned out there were "only" 2,411. I thought they covered a period from about 1960 to 2000. It appears I was shooting slides from about 1952 to 1982. Probably close to a thousand of the slides are faded Ektachrome shots. So, I can wholeheartedly recommend against anyone shooting Ektachrome slides (I don't think Kodak stills makes it anyway).
I put the word "finished" in quotes above, since while digitizing the slides I kept thinking I should combine a bunch of them into a poster - or several posters - to hang on my walls. I've got a lot of very beautiful shots of Hong Kong in June 1964, terrific shots of Japan and Thailand from around that time, Europe and the Caribbean in the 1970s and 80's, and I think putting together a collage of about 20 or 30 of them on a poster would be an interesting project. The only problem is: when I digitized the slides, I didn't spend a lot of time cleaning them up. A lot of them are still specked with dirt. I could clean up one or two digitally, but if I'm going to create a collage of 20 or 30, it would be easier to go back, find those slides again, and then clean them up manually before re-digitizing them. I'm pondering that idea. I'm certain I'll do at least one poster, just to see what the final thing looks like. That will tell me if I should do more.
I began shooting slides during the Korean War. Here's one from that time:
December 17, 2012 (B) - Hmm. Someone just sent me a link to a very interesting document which seems to indicate that Dr. Bruce Ivins' final psychiatrist has been charged with medical malpractice on matters not directly related to Dr. Ivins' case. A pre-hearing conference is scheduled for January 10, 2013, and the hearing is scheduled for March 4-6, 2013. Click HERE for the legal document.
December 17, 2012 (A) - In an argument with "Anonymous" on my interactive blog, he keeps trying to suggest that some speculation expressed by an Air Force scientist somehow prove something related to the attack anthrax. It's what he believes, and for eleven years I've never been able to get him of look at facts and alter his beliefs.
In my response, I proposed a test which should DEMONSTRATE exactly how Dr. Ivins created the attack spores. Here's what I wrote:
What I'm proposing are three simple experiments:
(1) Scientists should grow one set of anthrax spores using agar known to have been used by Dr. Ivins, and letting inoculated plates remain in an incubator for three weeks. They should then test the spores for silicon. There should be little or no silicon in the spore coats.
(2) Scientists should then inoculate a second set of plates and place those plates in an autoclave bag to remain somewhere at room temperature for three weeks. And then test the spores for silicon. There should be silicon in most or all of the spore coats.
(3) Scientists should then inoculate a third set of plates and place those plates in an incubator for 24 hours. Then they should remove the plates and put them into an autoclave bag and let them set for three weeks at room temperature. When they test the spores, a small fraction (perhaps 25%) of the spores should have no silicon the spore coats and most (perhaps 75%) should have silicon in the spore coats.
This would demonstrate and explain (1) why scientists who grow spores in incubators do not typically see silicon in the spore coats, (2) how a change in growth environment to more "natural" conditions will cause spores to form differently, incorporating silicon in their spore coats, and (3) the third test should duplicate what was in the attack spores.
What this would demonstrate (assuming I'm correct) is that there's no need for further speculation. It should demonstrate exactly how Ivins created the attack spores. And, it should show that the scientists who claim that it was "impossible" for Dr. Ivins to have created the attack spores were simply ignorant of the facts.
If the above tests do NOT show what I expect them to show, then we would have at least done a meaningful series of test to see how Ivins created the attack spores. The question would then be: Why didn't the experiment produce the expected results?
December 16, 2012 - When I was being interviewed for last Sunday's article in the Racine Journal-Times, the reporter seemed to have a hard time picturing how someone could be both an analyst and a writer. I'm not sure why, but he seemed to see the two people-types as being incompatible. They may be. Over the decades, it became very clear to me that I've been unsuccessful in selling my screenplays and novels largely because the characters I created weren't fascinating to the reader. I tended to focus on plot, while it's really interesting characters that make a good novel and a good movie. And, try as I might (and I tried and tried), I could never get the hang of creating truly fascinating characters. My fictional characters were just personality types who went through the ordeal that was the plot. Whatever it is that makes a reader of fiction become fascinated with a character, it was something I couldn't create sufficiently well.
That could be because I'm an analyst. I have an analytical mind. Analysts are writers, too, of course. But it's a different kind of writing. The end-product of an analysis is typically a report. My 11-year analysis of the anthrax attacks of 2001 recently produced a "report" in book form: "A Crime Unlike Any Other: What the Facts Say About Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins and The Anthrax Attacks of 2001." The "report" is my personal analysis and understanding of the anthrax attacks, and it includes just about everything I've been able to figure out by studying all the facts and putting together the countless pieces in chronological order. The central "character" is Bruce Edwards Ivins.
Did I turn Dr. Ivins into a "fascinating character?" I don't know. He was a real-life person. All I did was try to understand him and to explain my understanding of him.
One person who read my book became somewhat upset because I didn't depict Ivins the way he viewed Ivins: as a cold-blooded murderer. That's because my analysis didn't find Ivins to be a cold-blooded murderer, although he could be very creepy and calculating. The facts made it very clear that Bruce Ivins didn't intend to kill anyone. Years before Ivins' name was ever mentioned, the facts already made it a near certainty that the person who sent the anthrax letters did not intend to kill people: (1) He used the "pharmaceutical fold" to wrap the powders, which was used for centuries to safely contain and transport drugs. (2) He also taped shut the seams of the envelopes to prevent any powder from escaping. (3) He put a warning and medical advice in the letters to tell the recipients that they were in danger ("TAKE PENACILIN NOW" and "WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX. YOU DIE NOW"). And, (4) he used a fictional return address on the senate envelopes to make certain that, if something went wrong with the mails, the envelopes filled with anthrax powders wouldn't be returned to a real school.
Bruce Ivins confirmed that he didn't intend to kill anyone when he gave his "non-denial denials" to a former co-worker:
"I can tell you I don’t have it in my heart to kill anybody."
"I do not have any recollection of ever have doing anything like that."
"I am not a killer at heart."
"I don’t think of myself as a vicious, a, a nasty evil person."
"I don’t like to hurt people, accidentally, in, in any way."
But, there are people who don't seem to be able to see anything between "innocent" and "cold-blooded murderer." People who think Ivins was a cold-blooded murderer get upset if you try to show evidence that he didn't actually intend to kill people. They see it as "giving the killer excuses" and "diminishing the terrible nature of the killer's crime to make it seem less horrific than it really was."
If you show the evidence to someone who thinks Ivins was innocent, they argue that "it isn't really evidence," since there is no "smoking gun" that undeniably shows Ivins did it - like home-movies of him mailing the letters. They refuse to look at all the evidence. They'll only look at one item of evidence at a time, arguing that each item by itself doesn't prove Ivins did it, and, therefore, it's "not evidence."
Neither of those people wants to understand what happened. Their minds are already made up, and no further explanations are needed or wanted.
Wanting to understand what happened was why I became interested in the case. Explaining my understanding of what happened was the reason I wrote my book (or "report").
And, it wasn't just wanting to understand the killer that got me interested and kept me fascinated, it was also wanting to understand the facts and the evidence in the case.
It appears that nothing can change the minds of the scientists and others who continue to argue that the attack anthrax was weaponized with silicon. My book explains my understanding of exactly how the silicon got into the spores. I'm now hoping that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will fund some experiments to show how it was most likely done, and how simple it was. My book explains the process step by step. The FBI and DOJ couldn't do that, because in court you need to prove how something was done, not how something was most likely done. So, in court, the DOJ would only have proved that Dr. Ivins had the means to make the anthrax powders.
Reproducing spores with the same silicon "signature" as the attack spores seems like a simple matter. Conspiracy theorists falsely claim that all attempts by the government to recreate the "silicon signature" failed. Not true. In reality, if any such tests have been performed, the results haven't been made public. What has been made public were the results of some experiments that were not attempts to recreate the "silicon signature," they were experiments using published procedures that Ivins would have known about, to see if any produced the "silicon signature." None did. So, all they proved was that published procedures do not create spores with the "silicon signature." No published procedure involves growing spores inside autoclave bags that are left to sit in the corner of a lab for weeks.
If there have been any experiments to see how spores grown at room temperature in autoclave bags compare to the attack spores, the results have not been made public. And, while such tests certainly wouldn't convince any conspiracy theorists that the spores weren't "weaponized" via some secret military process, it would show open-mined scientists that the argument that "Ivins couldn't possibly have done it" is totally absurd.
And, many people who argue that Dr. Ivins was innocent use as part of their argument their belief that it was impossible for him to make those "weaponized" spores.
The conspiracy theorists are out there on a holy mission to get everyone to believe what they believe. They don't use or need laboratories. They don't use or need facts. They don't use or need experiments. All they need is to cite incorrect reports from the early days of the case, to cite scientists who didn't know what they were talking about in 2001, and to ask irrelevant questions that no one has the time to try to answer.
Unfortunately, the scientists with the facts don't have any such holy mission. Mostly they just go about their business and ignore the false and absurd claims from the conspiracy theorists. If you respond to conspiracy theoriests, you give them publicity, you make more people aware of their claims, and you could generate more followers for them. Everyone saw that with the hoax moon landing conspiracy theorists.
I think everyone understands that there's no way to change the minds of closed-minded conspiracy theorists. But, showing people with open minds how Dr. Ivins could have very easily but unknowingly caused the silicon to be incorporated by the attack spores will enable those scientists and ordinary citizens interested in the facts to see that the conspiracy theorists are spouting total nonsense.
You don't even have to mention the conspiracy theorists. Just use easily reproducible experiments to show how the silicon most likely got into the attack spores.
It seems to me that showing how Ivins most likely made the attack spores is something the GAO can easily do, and the benefits would be enormous. The facts might not change many minds, but they would eliminate a lot of doubt where there is now too much doubt.
And, those who claim that Ivins couldn't possibly have made the attack powders will have to change their argument to a claim that the government doesn't have any home movies proving that Ivins made the attack spores that way. An argument that previously seemed scientific then becomes an argument that just seems silly.
& Changes: Sunday, December 9, 2012, thru Saturday, December 15,
December 13, 2012 (B) - The Racine Journal-Time just deleted all comments following their article about me and my book. They give this explanation:
December 13, 2012 (A) - The Anthrax Truthers (conspiracy theorists and True Believers) do not accept the facts which show that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer, because they have theories of their own. To Anthrax Truthers, facts from the government don't mean anything, because the government cannot be trusted.
There's another group of people who also think Dr. Ivins was innocent. "AKI" posted a comment to Sunday's Racine Journal-Times article about me and my book:
You think he's guilty, that's fine. You are in fact entitled to your own opinion. But so am I. And I KNOW some things about him that you will never know and do not know one, because I actually knew him and two, because you never even tried to get to know the side of him no one talked about because that wasn't "sensational" or "news-worthy"...! I truly do not know how people like yourself sleep at night. One more thing...FACTS?!???? Really??? Or circumstantial evidence??
Facts OR circumstantial evidence? It would be interesting to have that person describe the difference between facts pointing to Ivins' guilt and circumstantial evidence pointing to Ivins' guilt.
I sleep much better at night knowing that Dr. Bruce Ivins is no longer creating and handling deadly pathogens for the U.S. Government.
December 12, 2012 - Today is 12-12-12, something we won't see again for a hundred years. I've been going through my slides and digitizing them. Below is a Kodak slide I took in Hong Kong in June of 1964:
There are some dirt specks on the slide, but I can get rid of them digitally. The original is 2,520 pixels wide. I reduced it to 590 pixels to fit it in the space above.
Fortunately, that slide had the date it was developed printed on the slide holder. For the slide below of the Brooklyn Bridge, there is no date on the slide holder:
But, the only time I was actually in New York City walking around and taking pictures was in 1958. (One slide of Times Square shows a gigantic billboard advertising the 1958 Kirk Douglas movie "The Vikings.") So, the picture must have been taken then.
Note that the colors on the slide have badly faded. That's a common problem with some of my slides, particularly the ones shot in Ektachrome. But, I found that I can convert it to black and white and it looks much better than the faded color version:
What does the Brooklyn Bridge look like today? Below is a more recent shot from the Internet that's as close as I could find to the same angle:
And below is part of a slide of the Lockheed Super Constellation that I flew in across the Pacific from San Francisco to Japan, stopping in Hawaii and Wake Island circa 1963:
This, of course, is all totally off topic. But, I'm hoping people will find it interesting.
So far, I've digitized 322 slides, 72 of them this morning, about 120 yesterday. It looks like I have at least 3,000 left to go.
December 11, 2012 - Hmm. On Lew Weinstein's blog, "DXer" admits to using the pseudonym "Animal" when writing a review of my book on Amazon, and to using the pseudonym "BigRed" when posting a comment (which has since been deleted) after the Racine Journal Times' article about me. Here's what he wrote on Lew's blog:
For example, I recently posted the opinion under the Screen Name “Animal” (the nickname friends gave me) and “BigRed” (referring to Cornell) . I gave my opinion that Ed’s theory the facts establish a First Grader wrote the letters was unsound. The most basic inquiry of the server would establish it to have been posted by an IP associated with me.
The sentence in red is most interesting. It appears that "DXer" contacted the Racine Journal-Times and persuaded them to provide him with the IP address for the person who posted as "FOR5DOLLAR" and used "DXer's" real name. That was how "DXer" found out it wasn't the person he initially thought it was. He's been filling my email inbox with information about this and about how he didn't say what he said as "Anonymous" on my interactive blog. It may be what he said, but it's not what he meant. What he meant was something that he evidently cannot explain in words. And, in the form of a picture it's even more meaningless and incoherent. So, all he can do is give his opinion without any facts or explanation to back it up.
I've always felt that you don't really understand something until you know enough about it to explain it to someone else and get them to understand it, too.
It seems that True Believers, on the other hand, can't explain anything. They just expect you to believe as they believe, and, if you don't, then you are closed minded.
December 10, 2012 - Most of the reader comments attacking me following yesterday's Racine Journal-Times article have been deleted. I'm not sure who did it. The fact that the True Believers were also attacking each other by name may have prompted one of them to file an "abuse report." Or maybe the Journal-Times just deleted them, since there was a third reader who wanted to know if I was the same "crazy guy that JT [the Journal-Times] interviews about misc junk every year." That comment was also deleted (although I saved a copy of everything, of course).
Meanwhile, on my interactive blog, "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer") argued the same bizarre argument I've gotten from others. Basically, the argument is: If all the facts say that a child wrote the anthrax letters, and they don't believe that Ivins would have used a child that way, then Occam's Razor says Ivins did not use a child that way.
That's just plain silly. If all the facts say that a child wrote the anthrax letters, then Occam's Razor also says a child wrote the anthrax letters.
"Anonymous" also argued that an adult who is just learning how to write in English writes the same way as a child just entering first grade. That's simply NOT true. Adults write like adults. When writing in an unfamiliar foreign language, they do NOT revert to writing like children. They still have all the motor skills, hand-eye coordination and experence that an adult has. Their writing may not be as smooth and flowing as it is when writing in their own language, but they still write like adults, NOT like children.
I once learned how to read, write and speak in Japanese. When writing in Japanese, I didn't write like a child. When just starting out, my vocabulary may have been that of a child, but my writing skills were adult writing skills. I didn't suddenly start writing in large lettering, constructing wavy lines of writing that head for the corner of the page because I don't have the experience to know how much room I need to write something.
I really wish there was some way to get a bunch of "handwriting experts" together to review my video about 12 facts that say a child wrote the anthrax letters to see if they can find any fault in the logic. It's really getting tedious to have Anthrax Truthers continuously saying it can't be true simply because it doesn't fit with their beliefs.
December 9, 2012 (B) - I just went out and bought three copies of the Sunday edition of the Racine Journal-Times. I was very surprised to see that the actual printed article about me and my book shows photos of me and Bruce Ivins side by side:
The article is on the front page of the "County & Region" section. Three copies of the Sunday paper probably weigh close to 10 pounds!
December 9, 2012 (A) - When I turned on my computer this morning and checked Google for news about "anthrax & 2001," I found that my local paper, the Racine Journal-Times had published their article about me. It's titled "Local man self-publishes book about anthrax attacks." It was a big surprise, since the reporter had said that they'd call me when they knew when the story would be printed. But, there was no call and no email.
But, I'm not complaining. The article is relatively accurate, even though it unexpectedly focuses somewhat on my hypothesis that Dr. Ivins manipulated a 6-year-old child into writing the anthrax letters and addressing the envelopes. That's probably the most controversial part of my book, and 9 hours after going on-line, there are already people arguing about it. Following the article are three comments. The latest by "BigRed" seems to argue that some Muslim terrorist who just learned English wrote the letters, and that's why the writing looks like a first grader's. It's the standard argument from "DXer," and since he mentions Lew Weinstein's web site, it probably is "DXer" under a different name. Of course, he doesn't try to explain how the Muslim terrorist just happened to learn the correct way to draw certain characters of the alphabet between the writing of the Brokaw letter and the addressing of the Brokaw envelope. It's what a six-year-old learns in the first weeks of first grade, which were taking place at the time of the mailings.
The 1st and 2nd comments following the article (posted 1 hour after the article appeared) are by "FOR5DOLLAR." At first glance, it looked like they could also be by "DXer" under a different name, since the first comment says:
Ed Lake does not have a clue as to who sent the anthrax in 2001, it was not Bruce Ivins. "The scientific road to nowhere" that is where Ed Lake has been, driving his psychotic dream of becoming a writer only to find himself sitting on a pile of scrap paper. I like Lew Weinstein's story much more, at least Lew sticks to the truth of matters.
But, then the comment attacks someone else, someone who "DXer" would not attack. And, in my email inbox this morning I found four emails from "DXer" explaining who he believes "FOR5DOLLAR" is and what he thinks "FOR5DOLLAR" believes about the case. "FOR5DOLLAR's" theory is one I never heard before in such detail. But, "DXer" isn't positive that he has correctly identified "FOR5DOLLAR," so there isn't much else I can say. It seems to be yet another case of one True Believer attacking another True Believer because they have totally different beliefs, neither based on facts.
One of the emails from "DXer" is a "carbon copy" of an email he sent to the person he thinks posted as "FOR5DOLLAR." "DXer" uses my private email address as he asks the guy questions about the comments after my article.
And, it appears that "DXer" probably also posted a negative review of my book to Amazon.com's ad for the paperback, a review which carried over to the Kindle version. Posting as "Animal," he disagrees with my handwriting hypothesis there, too.
But, it was an interesting way to start the morning.
Meanwhile, I've completed the Kindle version of the book. While it was very tedious work to convert from the paperback version to a Kindle version, once I got the hang of how to make the various kinds of format fixes, it went very rapidly and just took a few days. I couldn't get any clear answer on what the 127 KB limit for Kindle images really meant. But, it seems to be the size limit for the compressed JPG image as it exists on a disk file, and not the size of the decompressed image as it is viewed on a computer screen. All my images were well within the 127 KB limit when compressed.
When I was done and had gone through the book several times without finding any more serious problems, I didn't see any good reason to delay publishing the Kindle version until January 7, as I had been planning. So, yesterday I "flipped the switch" and the Kindle edition is now on sale. Just click HERE to go to Amazon.com's ad for the book.
The ad includes the "Look Inside" feature which shows you roughly the first 35 pages of the book, including the first 7 illustrations. One of those illustrations wasn't part of the printed book:
The only problem I can see with the "Look Inside" version is that paragraph indentations and certain other indentations aren't always consistent. But, there's nothing I can do about that. I don't know what causes the inconsistency.
Tomorrow, I'll inform all the scientists who told me they were waiting for the Kindle edition that their wait is over.
Except for the Journal-Times article, I'm still almost entirely dependent upon "word of mouth" to generate sales. I don't yet have any opinions from anyone who hasn't been following the case for years. If someone buys the book because they're interested in "true crime" stories, what will he or she think of my book? Is it too technical? Or, will they want more technical details? And what will scientists think about it? Is the science written too much for the "layman," while scientists want all the details laid out in indisputable scientific terms? I don't know.
I didn't put any full-page ads in The New York Times and Washington Post to tell the world that the book is on sale. Most book buyers are going to have to find out about the book all by themselves. A few news stories about anthrax would help remind people about the case and cause them to do searches on Google. If an article about my book doesn't catch their eye, there could be some other news stories in the works.
I'm picking up rumors that some scientist conspiracy theorists may be publishing another "scientific" article declaring that the attack spores were "weaponized" with silicon and that the FBI is covering up the "facts." It will be interesting to see what they have to say. If the past is any measure, they'll use their own previously published theories to justify their new published theories, and they'll "confirm" everything by citing incorrect news reports and inaccurate "scientific" findings from early in the case - from the time when just about everyone was getting everything wrong. And the title will probably be a bogus question they don't really answer, like "Did the FBI Ignore Evidence?" instead of actually presenting new evidence and using a title like "New Evidence Shows FBI Was Wrong!" Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see what they come up with.
And, of course, the review of the FBI's Amerithrax investigation by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) is still in the works. There's no way to know when that will be done. It could be early next year, or it could be a long way off. Whenever the report is released, it should be major news -- even if the GAO largely agrees with the FBI.
As the Journal-Times article says, now that the Kindle version of my book is complete, I'm getting close to where I'll need to look at other things to occupy my time. As I wrote last week, converting slides I took many years ago into digital images is next on my agenda. A couple months ago, I bought a thingamajig to help do the conversions. The 30 or 40 slides I converted to test the thingamajig went very well. But, it's going to be a very long process to convert many thousands of slides - 1 at a time, 4 per batch - into digital images and then to organize them all properly. Most slides I have stored away don't seem to have any dates on them, so I have no idea how I'll figure out when they were taken. And if it's a picture of a small waterfall or a picturesque street, where was it taken? It'll probably require a lot of "detective work" and photo analysis.
I'm also tempted to produce a paperback version of my WWII novel "Clipper," which is now available only via Kindle. While working on "A Crime Unlike Any Other," I was amazed by how easy and inexpensive it is to produce a paperback book via Create Space - if you can do all the work yourself. I don't care if anyone actually buys it in paperback form, I'd just like to have a nice paperback copy of it on my own bookshelf. And a poster of the cover of "Clipper" would look terrific on my office wall next to the poster of "A Crime Unlike Any Other." (That's what "vanity publishing" is all about.)
Or, I might suddenly find something even more intriguing to do. A new book - maybe 150 to 200 pages - about the science of the Amerithrax investigation is a possibility. I want to make it informative and funny. I just need to figure out the best way to do that without actually ridiculing the beliefs of conspiracy theorists and True Believers.
Or, I might take my screenplay "Rivers of Iron" and turn it into a novel "based upon a true story." With the movie "Lincoln" currently very big at the box office, a fact-based novel about ironclad gunboats on the Mississippi and other rivers during the Civil War could find an audience.
Or I might once again try selling the screenplay for "Rivers of Iron." It's a spectacular true story about gigantic untested war machines and different interpretations among top military officers on how to use those war machines effectively. There's never been anything like it seen on a movie screen before. And, the same is true with the screenplay "Clipper." The Kindle version of the novel sold a few copies when the TV series "Pan Am" was on the air. Is the time right for a fantastic and spectacular WWII adventure movie based upon real events? Both movies would have been horrendously expensive to make before computer generated imagery (CGI) became so common in movies. The recent movie "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" may have been ridiculous and dumb, but it had a lot of fantastic Civil War era scenes that were entirely computer generated. Those CGI effects could be a selling point for something a lot more serious and real, but still very spectacular.
Lots of possibilities. And something else could pop up at any moment that would be an even better and more intriguing idea.
& Changes: Sunday, December 2, 2012, thru Saturday, December 8,
December 7, 2012 - I haven't posted any comments since Monday because I've been busy working on the Kindle version of my book. Adding links, changing image sizes and fixing weird print characters caused by file conversions is very tedious work that requires full concentration. It doesn't leave any time to think about anything else.
However, after office hours and while lying in bed before getting up in the morning, I am thinking about questions the reporter asked me on Monday and what I probably should have said but didn't. One of the questions he asked was, "What's next? What's your next project?" I told him I planned to convert thousands of slides I took between 1960 and 2000 into digital images. But, in the back of my mind I'm also thinking about another book (a much smaller book) that addresses only the science of the case and shows how the "junk science" used by conspiracy theorists compares to the real science used by the scientists who actually worked with anthrax and understand both the microbiogy and the physics. It would be filled with illustrations to clarify everything. I've already done some of the illustrations on my page about Van der Waals' Forces & Static Electricity. A new book would require creating a lot more illustrations, but it might be very interesting. I might even have the opportunity to use comic illustrations make it fun to read.
Writing "A Crime Unlike Any Other" was fascinating and instructive, and there are bits of humor in it. But, I really like the idea of writing a small, funny-yet-serious science book about the screwball beliefs of conspiracy theorists and how they compare to reality.
December 3, 2012 - The reporter from the local paper showed up on schedule, and we talked for about an hour. He'll let me know when the article is going to be printed. It'll most likely be this coming weekend.
December 2, 2012 (B) - I just noticed that my new book can now be ordered from Barnes & Noble. I didn't expect that to happen for another few weeks. I'll have to stop by my local store to see if they can think of any way I can help market the book.
December 2, 2012 (A) - While it looks like it's going to be a lot of work to get out the Kindle version of my book, I think I can get it done well before the January 7, 2013 date I set for completion.
I've been practicing uploading a test version to Kindle in order to see how the images look and what problems need solving. Kindle provides a "previewer" that shows what the book will look like before you actually make it public. I remember I encountered a lot of formatting problems two years ago when I put my first anthrax book and my WWII novel on Kindle. I'm seeing different problems this time. Here's an example:
Quote marks in text I copied and pasted from somewhere else show up as an "A" as the open quote mark and an "at" sign (@) as the close quote mark. So, "covered with blood" appears as
Acovered with blood@
And an apostrophe appears as an equal sign:
It's going to take a lot of very careful reading to find and fix such problems. I'll try doing a search and replace, but the bad quote marks are proceeded and followed by hidden special characters, so all three characters have to be replaced by a single quote mark.
As promised, I'll be using color images wherever possible, and I'll be adding some new images. The color image of Dr. Ivins in his lab in the sample Kindle screen below isn't in the printed version of my book:
Note that the quote marks around "art" are fine. I think they're okay in about 90 percent of the places where quote marks are used.
There's a caption under the picture, but the preview program doesn't provide any way to push the screen up an inch to see it. What you get is what you get.
I'm still having some problems finding the right image size to use for the rest of the illustrations. As I wrote a few days ago, the instructions for creating Kindle books say the size limit for images is 127 KB, but they do not seem to calculate file sizes the same way Photopaint calculates file sizes. Anything I produce via Photopaint that is 127,000 bytes or less is either smaller than a postage stamp, or it's very blurry.
While the picture of Ivins in his lab (above) looks fine, it's 492,804 bytes or 493 KB, many times larger than the "maximum." Kindle's software manipulated the picture to make it the right size. It looks like I'm going to have to do that with all of the images: create files many times larger than the "maximum" and let Kindle convert them.
Meanwhile, I'm cleaning up my apartment in preparation for the interview I'll be doing tomorrow afternoon with a reporter from my local paper. The reporter stopped by on Wednesday evening to get a copy of my book so he could study it and develop questions to ask. He says they plan a "feature" about me and my new book.
It'll be the first real "publicity" I've gotten for the book. So far, none of the other press releases I sent out have produced any results. The five or six proof copies I sent to newspapers didn't produce any results, either. It could just be too early. Busy people need time to read a 391 page book. But, it's undoubtedly also what the literary agents were concerned about: I don't have a good "platform." Too few people know who I am, and most people have forgotten about the anthrax attacks of 2001 (or don't want to be reminded of them), so they're not tuned into the subject matter. People have no way to know my book exists. It's just one of millions of books available via Amazon.com. And the anthrax attacks happened 11 years ago. Even if I was an FBI agent, I'd still need publicity to make people aware of the book.
The book may contain a lot of fascinating new information they never knew before, and it might be a very enjoyable and thrilling read, but they're not going to know that until they hear that the book exists.
I'm hoping that some "word of mouth" will spread as people who have read the book tell others about it. And, maybe the first media story about me and my book will generate others. Maybe there'll be some word of mouth after the Kindle version is released. Many (or most) of the scientists I contacted were waiting for the Kindle version.
After I get the Kindle version done, I plan to start on my next project: converting the many thousands of slides I took between 1960 and 2000 into digital images, then organizing and cataloging them (particularly the family photos) so I can send out CD's with the images to my relatives. Here's a picture of me in front of Trevi fountain in Rome, circa 1974:
I looked a lot younger in 1974.
& Changes: Sunday, November 25, 2012, thru Saturday, December 1,
November 29, 2012 (B) - Hmm. I just notice another news article that mentions the anthrax attacks of 2001. This one is dated today and is in the UK newspaper The Guardian. The title of the article is "AP's dangerous Iran hoax demands an accounting and explanation." Here's the mention of the anthrax attacks:
The obligation of journalists to protect the identity of their sources to whom they have pledged anonymity ends when the "sources" use them purposely to disseminate falsehoods. Indeed, the obligation to protect these sources not only ends, but a different obligation arises: to tell the public who fed them the hoax. This was exactly the issue that arose when it became clear that multiple sources had falsely told ABC News' Brian Ross in late 2001 that government tests had linked the anthrax attacks in the US to Saddam's chemical weapons program, a story that Ross spread far and wide - thus, as intended, heightening fears of Iraq, but which turned out to be completely false from start to finish. As numerous journalists argued then, Ross had the obligation to tell the public who was behind the hoax he so damagingly spread.
The article is by Glenn Greenwald who previously wrote for Salon.com. The false news stories that ABC's Brian Ross wrote about, claiming there was bentonite in the attack anthrax spores, was a big issue with Greenwald for years on Salon.com. In my book, I wrote a lot about the false bentonite story from Brian Ross/ABC. I'll have to send Greenwald an email at The Guardian to give him a reading suggestion. ;-)
November 29, 2012 (A) - I just noticed that the web site businessinsider.com has a brief but interesting article titled "Nick Kristof: Here Are 3 Things I've Been Very Wrong About." One of the three things the New York Times columnist says he was wrong about is described in a single sentence:
I wrote columns suggesting that the FBI do a more thorough job investigating a government scientist in connection with the 2001 anthrax attacks.
Kristof is still getting things wrong. Steven Hatfill wasn't "a government scientist" when Kristof was writing columns accusing him of being the anthrax killer. Hatfill was working for a private company. The real killer, Bruce Ivins, was a government scientist.
November 28, 2012 - I've sent out press releases to every news outlet I can think of, including several local area newspapers (Headline: "Local Man Publishes New Book About the Anthrax Attacks of 2001.") My home-town paper contacted me today about doing an interview early next week.
But, my next task is to work on the Kindle edition of the book.
Kindle books are in web site (html) format. I don't want to do it "automatically" using Amazon.com's software, since I want to add some pictures, change most of the pictures to color, and fix a few more typos. So, the first thing I have to do is figure out the easiest way to create the html file. (Do I use WORD, WordPerfect or the software I'm using to write this? Or some combination?) Then I have to convert or replace all the illustrations in the book (and probably add a few). Kindle has a maximum image size of 127,000 bytes (127 kilobytes, or 127 KB). For printing on paper, very high resolution images were needed to get a good quality image. So, the picture of the entrance to Ivins' lab on page 287 is currently a black and white .TIF image that's 2,433 KB in size. I have to create a color .JPG image no larger than 127 KB.
That means I have to go back to the original color image, which is a 11,943 KB byte .JPG file (24 inches by 31 inches, at 72 Dots Per Inch) and shrink it down. Changing the width to 2.4 inches gives me a file that is 119 KB. (2.5 inches = 129 KB.) Here's what that looks like:
It doesn't look like it's 2.4 inches wide on my computer screen, but it will presumably look bigger on a Kindle Fire or iPhone screen. I can make it appear bigger by reducing the number of dots per inch, but that will also make it more blurry.
Then I have to change the Table of Contents in the Kindle version. There are no pages in a Kindle book, so the Table of Contents will have to have a link to each chapter. And, the same goes for the List of Illustrations. I'll have to set up all those links.
And, what about the reference numbers to Notes & Sources? Do I create links to those, too? I dunno. I'll have to find out what's "best." I'm wondering about other kinds of links, too. Can/should I add a link to my video about the handwriting at the appropriate place? People using Kindle won't be able to get to it if they aren't connected to the Internet at the time, but it should work for people reading the book on iPads and other devices. When I use an entry on the UCLA epidemiology web site as a source, should I also provide the link to the actual UCLA entry in my Notes & Sources Section? Should I provide links to newspaper articles I mention? I dunno. I can see it would add value to the Kindle version. But newspaper links are sometimes changed by the newspapers, and having links that don't work can be annoying. I'll have to check the pros and cons.
So, before I can actually finish converting my book to Kindle format, I need to get answers to a lot of questions.
Meanwhile, starting around 1 a.m. and ending around 6 a.m. this morning, someone in Albuquerque, NM, tried hundreds of times to GET a non-existent record on my web site. Here's what the last log entry looks like:
18.104.22.168 - - [28/Nov/2012:06:04:52 -0500] "GET /index.php?
%3A8080%2Fecho.txt HTTP/1.1" 404 549 "-" "Mozilla/4.0
(compatible; MSIE 6.0b; Windows NT 5.0; .NET CLR 1.0.2914)"
What he was trying to do is another one of Life's Little Mysteries.
November 25, 2012 - Last week, I prepared another video about the anthrax attacks of 2001. The new video explains 12 facts which very clearly say that Dr. Ivins manipulated a child just starting first grade in August 2001 into writing the anthrax letters and addressing the anthrax envelopes. Click HERE to view the video or click on the image below, which will take you to the same video.
The video is 8 minutes and 37 seconds long, and I'm hoping once again that a (video) picture is worth a hundred thousand words. The video is far from perfect, the slides aren't always centered properly, and I stammer in a few places. But, it will have to do for now. It says what I want it to say, and right now I don't have the will-power to try to make it better. It just takes too too too long to fix things when you're making a video, and the current video is at the size limit my video editing software can handle. However, if I can gather up a lot more will-power, I might create a new supplemental video with additional facts about the handwriting that couldn't fit into the video I just created.
Here's a directory of the slides used in the video:
The slides are pdf files. I don't have the software to put them all in one large pdf file, so they are divided into six files. If you want to view the full-size slides, here are the links:
My 2005 book, "Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks," pointed out some of the facts in the video and listed several others that I don't mention. My new book "A Crime Unlike Any Other: What the Facts Say About Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins and The Anthrax Attacks of 2001" doesn't really list or explain the facts. It's about what the facts say, it isn't about the facts themselves.
For example, it's a FACT that there are significant differences between the handwriting on the Tom Brokaw letter and the handwriting on the Tom Brokaw envelope. That's undeniable, and anyone can check for themselves. But, what does that fact mean? It could mean that the letter and envelope weren't written by the same person. But, other facts say they were written by the same person. There are just changes in the way the writer wrote certain characters of the alphabet. It's a FACT that he wrote them incorrectly in the Brokaw letter. It's a FACT that he wrote them correctly on the Brokaw envelope. But, what does that mean? The video assembles those facts with other facts related to the handwriting and explains some of what they all mean.
My new book doesn't explain what the facts mean. It's not a textbook on handwriting analysis. It's a narrative that tells the story of how Dr. Ivins committed the crimes and how he was identified as the killer. It shows him going through what appears to have been the steps that resulted in the significant handwriting differences that can be seen in the video.
Starting tomorrow, I'll be sending emails to everyone I can think of who might be interested in the case. I'll tell them about this video, and I'll also be sending out a "press release" about it. I'm still trying to figure out the best "headline" for the press release and the best subject for the email. Here are a few possibilities (I like the one highlighted in red):
NEW EVIDENCE IN 2001 ANTHRAX CASE
NEW QUESTION: WHO WROTE THE ANTHRAX LETTERS?
WHO WROTE THE ANTHRAX LETTERS? DR. IVINS DIDN'T
NEW QUESTIONS IN 2001 ANTHRAX LETTER CASE
FACTS SAY DR. IVINS DID NOT WRITE ANTHRAX LETTERS!
NEW VIDEO SHOWS IVINS DIDN'T WRITE ANTHRAX LETTERS!
Last week was very quiet for the most part, undoubtedly because of the Thanksgiving holiday. On my interactive blog, I argued with "Anonymous" a bit. He also pointed out a typo that I missed. On page 53, my new book says:
Then, at some point in time, possibly around August 27, 2001, Ivins
seems to have gotten an idea for the perfect way to write the letter
as if it was being done by someone just learning English.
and a few lines down it says:
The first day of school was evidently Monday, August 20.
"Anonymous" ranted endlessly about how I was wrong in writing that school started on August 20, when it actually started on August 27. He seems to want me to immediately publish a second edition which corrects that typo and other typos.
I might fix that minor typo and some others when I do the Kindle version. Six minor typos have been found since the "final" was published. I'm maintaining a list. But, fixing them depends upon what is required to produce the Kindle version. If it's simple to fix the typos, I'll definitely do so. If it's horrendously complex, then I won't.
To err is human. Not correcting minor mistakes because it is simply too much work is something we humans sometimes do.
& Changes: Sunday, November 18, 2012, thru Saturday, November 24,
November 20, 2012 - I've still got two "proof" copies of my book left. This morning, I had an idea of donating them to the Frederick Public Library. I wrote them, and here's the response I received:
Dear Mr. Lake –
Thank you for your generous offer, but we are not permitted, by law, to incorporate a “proof” version into our collection. What we would do is put them out for sale and use the proceeds for our new purchases, something you might not want us to do. We will happily take them for our sale shelf if you are so inclined.
Live and learn. If I was going to do what they suggest, I'd give them to my local library. But, since I was in a generous mood, I sent them two regular first editions.
November 19, 2012 - Busy busy busy. On my interactive blog, "Anonymous" has been unexpectedly arguing facts, which I thoroughly enjoy doing. Unfortunately, his facts don't really say anything relevant, but they are interesting. His argument has been that the "unexplained" hours that Bruce Ivins spent at night in Suite B3 could be explained by his belief that Ivins was using a computer somewhere in the suite to send out emails.
I couldn't picture how they would take a computer in and out of a B3 suite. And, if it was always left in the suite, where was it?
"Anonymous" posted a quote from a document that states that a PowerMac laptop computer requested by Ivins was installed in the hot suite and set up for internet service on July 19, 2001 between the times of 9:32 and 11:33 a.m., according to the work order.
But he also quoted an FBI file that says:
"[redacted] had no knowledge if [redacted] was ever connected to the internet while in the [redacted] hot suite.”
There's also information about how the laptop seems to have disappeared from Ivins office (NOT from the B3 lab). And there's another statement that Pat Fellows had taken the laptop home at least once.
There's nothing relevant in all this, but, when combined with the fact that all the emails for 2001 in Ivins' office computer mysteriously "disappeared" before his hard drive could be copied, it suggests that Ivins may have made the laptop "disappear," too. And since Ivins repeatedly pointed the finger at Pat Fellows as being the anthrax mailer, there's also an implication that he was trying to blame the disappearance of the laptop on her. There's absolutely NO reason to believe the laptop would have provided any explanations for Ivins unexplained evening work hours, but there seems to be some indications that the laptop contained something that Ivins didn't want the FBI to see.
Meanwhile, someone else sent me a long email with his beliefs about the anthrax attacks in which he challenges my facts. I'm going to have to find time to respond in detail.
I'm also working on the second part of the video about the handwriting facts.
And, I found this quote:
"I think and think for months, for years; 99 times the conclusion is false, but the hundredth time I am right." -- Albert Einstein
The key point may be that Einstein recognized that he was wrong. With Anthrax Truthers, they come to 99 conclusions which they believe are all correct because the conclusions fit their firm beliefs, and if the facts should happen to agree with their 100th conclusion, they tend to believe that conclusion must be wrong.
November 18, 2012 - Of all the controversial material in my new book, my analysis of the handwriting seems to be the most difficult finding for people to accept. It's what I've been saying about the handwriting for almost ten years, but that doesn't seem to make much difference. The web pages I've created over the years also don't seem to help very much. The attitude seems to be: I don't care what the facts say, I'm not going to believe it until someone with impeccable forensic handwriting credentials tells me it's correct, and all other forensic handwriting experts nod in agreement, and the FBI points at the writer and says, "He did it!" and the letter writer says, "Yes, I wrote the letters," and he adequately explains why he never came forward before.
That day isn't likely to occur any time in the near future.
So, I'm putting together a series of YouTube videos which will explain key facts about the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes. In this matter, it appears that a picture - or video - could be worth a hundred thousand words. Plus, YouTube videos seem to be of interest to a largely different and a much wider group of people.
Click HERE for the first video I created in the series. It's 3 minutes 26 seconds long and explains handwriting Fact #1 and Fact #2. Or you can click on the image below and it will take you to the YouTube video:
(I've got a bug in my web site composer software that prevents me from using an actual YouTube icon here that would play the video in the space above.)
YouTube has a maximum limit of 10 minutes for a video. And because of the nature of the video (the fact that you have to clearly see the illustrations I'm using) I had to shoot it in high-def. (It really makes a difference when you play the video in full screen mode.) I can only shoot high-def for about 2 minutes before my camera's memory card fills up, so I have to do things in pieces. But that's probably best, anyway. It's really frustrating to shoot a long video and make a flub near the end.
It takes nearly an hour to upload a 3.5 minute high-def video to YouTube. But, it doesn't seem to take very long to download it for viewing, so I may end up combining some or all of the videos when I'm done. It will probably take about three hours to upload a 9 minute movie to YouTube.
Meanwhile, I'm told that someone just donated 2 copies of my book to the Frederick (Maryland) Public Library. If they operate like my town's library, one copy will go into their permanent archive, which cannot be checked out on loan, but the second copy will be available to check out. Since it's a paperback, they may take some time to add a more sturdy cover before actually putting it on the shelves. I think donating two copies of the book to that particular library is a fantastic idea. I'm happy it was done. My book should be of interest to nearly everyone in Frederick, MD, who reads books.
Also meanwhile, I just noticed that Amazon.com added the "Click to Look Inside" feature to their page about my book, a feature which allows people to browse through parts of the book before buying it. I'd thought that was an option I had to okay first. I guess I was wrong. Live and learn. However, it's probably a very good idea. If they'd have waited for me, I'd probably have taken a couple months to weigh the pros and cons.
Amazon.com's page shows the first six pages of the book, including the full Introduction, before they start omitting pages. They also seem to let people have a glimpse at the first page of each of the first 33 chapters before they shut off that option. That could also perk the interest of potential buyers.
I notice, however, than you currently can't do a search for a word in the book. I tried a search for "anthrax" and it found nothing. Same with "FBI." Good. If people want to research or find something specific, let them buy the book.
As expected, some Anthrax Truthers are very upset with the book. In the past couple days, "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog has written at least 45 posts showing his displeasure with what I wrote in my book. It's one argument after another where he cites someone's opinion to challenge what the facts say. A couple days ago, he argued on my interactive blog, showing his total lack of understanding of handwriting analysis.
And, in a post yesterday to Weinstein's site, "DXer" wrote:
Many people, including Ed, did not realize that Dr. Ivins computer was within the B3.
It's part of some incoherent babble about why Ivins was spending so much unexplained time in his B3 lab. If Ivins' computer was in his B3 lab, why isn't his computer visible in any of the photos taken of the interior of his lab on November 3, 2007? Was it inside the freezer or inside the ice machine? Or was it somewhere else in the B3 suite, like in one of the animal rooms where "DXer" also claims (without basis) that Ivins was spending all those unexplained hours? "DXer" never explains anything. Invisible computers are certainly something that truly needs explaining. Or maybe it is just total nonsense.
This morning I have 3 emails from him (using his real name) and two more posts to my blog (using the name "Anonymous") that I have to moderate. They all refer to this sentence on page 54 in Chapter 7 of my book:
The first day of school was evidently Monday, August 20.
I remember researching the school year start date for schools in Frederick, MD, and I remember some question about the start date, but I don't recall exactly why I used the qualifier "evidently." "DXer" did his own research and determined that the school year actually began on August 27.
It makes absolutely no difference to the case against Dr. Ivins whether the school year start date was the 20th or 27th, but it's very possible that "DXer" found an error in the book. So, to him, that means I didn't do any research at all in writing the book. And I can now expect to have him continuously pointing that out for the foreseeable future.
When I get some free time, I'll check into the school start date. If I was wrong, I'll try to put the corrected date in the Kindle version.
But, it will have to wait until after I complete the handwriting videos.
& Changes: Sunday, November 11, 2012, thru Saturday, November 17,
November 17, 2012 - This is totally off-topic, but one of the first things I do every day when I sign onto the Internet is check NASA's picture of the day web site. The picture they have this morning is of the solar eclipse that people in Australia were able to see last Wednesday morning. It's a stunningly beautiful picture.
November 16, 2012 (B) - As expected, WLRoss just put things on Wikipedia back the way he wants them. And he changed a lot of other material to support his belief that the FBI didn't solve the anthrax case. For me to get into a situation where I post things and WLRoss just changes them back to his way would be pointless. So, I'm not going to make any further changes to the Wikipedia entry for the anthrax attacks of 2001 at this time. I've got too many other things to do.
November 16, 2012 (A) - I don't know if my new book has anything to do with it, but someone who calls himself "WLRoss" suddenly decided to start making "corrections" to the Wikipedia article about the anthrax attacks of 2001, using nonsense from a ProPublica article about the case. Although I have plenty of other things to do, I decided to make some corrections to the "corrections." Here's the relevent part of the ProPublica article:
Records recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Ivins made available a total of four sets of samples from 2002 to 2004, double the number the FBI has disclosed. And in subsequent FBI tests, three of the four sets ultimately tested positive for the morphs.
First, the "four sets of samples" were not from flask RMR-1029. And the FBI fully disclosed them and listed the 4 sets of samples on page 54 of FBI pdf file #847443. Only one set of samples was from flask RMR-1029. The other three sets of two were from other flasks or beakers in Ivins' collection and had nothing to do with "the murder weapon." From page 180 of my new book:
He sent two slants made from his sample of the original 1981 Ames ancestor material.
He sent two slants made from a sample identified as "7800a" and created in 1985 from the original 1981 ancestor material.
He sent two slants made from a sample identified as "7800b," also created in 1985 from the original 1981 ancestor material.
He sent two slants made from the contents of flask RMR-1029. He identified that sample as "7737 - Dugway Ames Spores - 1997."
The 6 slants from the original 1981 Ames ancestor material did NOT contain the four morphs and were NOT among the 8 out of over 1,020 samples that tested positive for the morphs.
(The links I had and used on this site which went directly to the FBI's pdf files no longer work. Some day, when I get the time, I may build an index of the images on the FBI's vault site and which image relates to which pdf file number.)
Also, someone posting as "Anonymous" on my interactive blog is evidently reading my book and posting questions about the handwriting on the letters and envelopes. When I respond to his questions with answers that don't fit his beliefs, he either tries to change the subject or he distorts the information, arguing one fact while ignoring all other facts.
November 15, 2012 - Finished more tasks today. (1) Donated two copies of my new book to my local library. (2) Sent out about 20 press releases to every newspaper I could find in Florida, Washington DC, New York City and the Trenton NJ area. Plus one to the Hartford Courant. (3) Sent out a few more emails to people I forgot about yesteday.
I had to drive right past the offices of my local newspaper to get to the library, but I'm putting off giving them a press release. They might want to do an interview in my home, and I'm not ready for that. The place is a mess. I clean house in January and July. ;-)
November 14, 2012 - I finished three tasks today: (1) I completed the copyrights registration form and paid the fee: $35. (2) I went through my email archives and finished contacting the last of the people I wanted to tell about my new book. (There are many others I didn't contact, but they're mostly regular visitors to this site, so they should already know about it.) (3) The 20 copies I'd ordered of the finished book arrived. I quickly autographed some of them, and shipped them out. $50.90 postage! There are a couple others for whom I don't yet have shipping addresses.
The brown package on top of the heap in the photograph on the right above contains the two copies for the Copyrights Office, along with the form they use to match the books to my application. One copy in the stack under it is for the Library of Congress. They'll match it to the Library of Congress Control Number on the copyrights page.
The last page in the finished book does indeed show the date the copies of the book were printed: "10 November 2012." So, those who buy early will have bragging rights because their print date is earlier than everyone else's print date. :-)
My next task is to send out more copies of the press release. That'll probably take a day or two, since it requires a lot of research to get the best email addreses. Then I've got to work on another video I want to create which will explain and demonstrate the difference between facts and opinions. Then I'll work on the Kindle version of the book.
Busy busy busy.
Oops! I totally forgot that I was going to donate two copies to my local library today. Now it's too late in the day. I'll have to give it a try tomorrow.
November 13, 2012 - I've been spreading the word about my new book, sending out emails to everyone I know. The #1 question in response seems to be: When will the Kindle version come out?
Although I don't particularly want to think about the Kindle version right now, I decided to set Monday, January 7, 2013 as the Kindle publication date.
On Create Space's web site, there's a "click here" button for Create Space authors to publish to Kindle. It's free, and under the "button," it says:
How It Works
1 We'll send your book to KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing].
When you say the word, your book interior and cover files will be sent to KDP on your behalf and converted automatically for publication on Kindle.
2 You'll sign in.
We'll bring you to KDP where you will need to sign in with your Amazon account or create a new one.
3 You'll find your book.
Your book will be waiting for you in your KDP Bookshelf. Check to make sure everything looks okay before completing the publishing process on KDP.
So, it appears to be as simple as can be. But, the words "make sure everything looks okay" cover a number of problems. I previously published 2 books via Kindle, and the most annoying problem was that many words that were hyphenated between lines in the print version ended up with hyphens remaining in the middle of the words in the Kindle version. Like these: hyphe-nate to-morrow when-ever need-ed.
Another "issue" is that with Kindle you don't need to fit a picture on a page, so the pictures should go where they best fit with the text, not where they best fit on a page. So, to make the book as good as possible, you need to move the pictures around.
Lastly, I think I want to add some additional pictures to the Kindle version, plus I'd want to use color versions of the pictures.
So, when I find the time, I'll have to look into all that - and start doing it. But, right now, I need to continue sending out emails to people who I know are interested in the case, and I need to continue sending out press releases to the media.
November 12, 2012 - I just received an email from the printing company Create Space telling me that they've shipped the 20 books I ordered. So, it looks like I'll be getting them a lot sooner than previously thought. When I placed the order, they gave me a delivery date of November 21. Now, November 14 or 15 seems more likely. The UPS tracking number isn't yet in the system. I'll start tracking it tomorrow.
I have to wonder if the book was moved up in the printing schedule for some reason, or if they mistakenly gave me a delivery date that was a week off.
November 11, 2012 - Yesterday, I "flipped the switch" and my new book immediately became available to buy at the printing company's store. Click HERE to visit the store.
I immediately ordered 20 copies, and I found that they'll be delivered on November 21. I figured that final versions of the book aren't printed as quickly as proofs, and orders now go onto some kind of printing schedule. The cheapest shipping option would have gotten the 20 copies to me on November 27.
This morning, I wondered if Amazon.com would be advertising the book as "Coming Soon." I went to their web site and was surprised - almost stunned - to find that it is already on sale. It says you can order it and have it delivered the day after tomorrow. The printer, Create Space, had said it wouldn't be available on Amazon.com for a week. I can't get the author's discount at Amazon, so it doesn't affect the 20 copies I ordered. But, it probably means that most people will be ordering the book through Amazon.com and not through Create Space where I get a much better royalty payment. Boo hoo.
I'm also puzzled by the Amazon sales ranking. It's ranked No. 82,793. My 2005 book, which hasn't sold a single copy in the past three months, is ranked No. 3,225,644. Does that mean that people are already buying my new book? Or do new books just start out with a higher number? I didn't know. But, I remembered a web site which explained the Amazon ranking. It indicates that if I sold just one book in the past day or so, the ranking would be in the 40,000 to 100,000 range. So, I guess someone ordered a copy before I even knew it was for sale at Amazon.com. I hope that's a good omen.
(Added Note: Within a half hour of posting today's comment, an Anthrax Truther posted a message to my interactive blog saying he bought a copy.)
I'd also wondered about how Veteran's Day would affect things. It doesn't seem to have any effect on deliveries from Amazon.com. But, it means I probably won't start sending out any Press Releases until Tuesday.
Over the past few days, I made almost 30 attempts to create a video of me talking about the book, and it was just one flub after another. The first time I got all the way through, when I did the playback, I discovered that the light was wrong and you couldn't see the cover of my book because of the way the light was shining on it. And I had forgotten to turn off the music from my stereo. The next time I got nearly all the way through, I forgot to put the right image on the computer screen behind me. Another time , I got all the way through but it was like I was reading the script in a monotone voice. Yesterday, I finally managed to make a reasonably watchable video. I installed it on YouTube.com. Click HERE to view it. It still has a few flubs, but I've temporarily lost the will power to keep trying to get it perfect.
I also created a video showing a half dozen of the shorter "outtakes." Click HERE to view it. The first "outtake" involves me flubbing my lines, but I also forgot to turn off the stereo. So, music almost drowns me out. The last "outtake" shows me realizing that I forgot to change the image on the computer behind me, so I stop before getting out a single word. The four other "outtakes"are me flubbing my lines.
Combining all six of those outtakes into one video indicated I can also add title card descriptions between the outtakes if I want to. That idea gave me another idea about a very different kind of video I think I should create to describe a controversial subject from my book. It could help sell more copies of the book. And it won't require me to recite a long, prepared speech on camera. It'll be me pointing at things on my computer screen and describing them as I talk.
I also need to start sending out emails telling people that my book is now on sale.
Busy busy busy.
& Changes: Sunday, November 4, 2012, thru Saturday, November 10,
November 9, 2012 - This morning, I found an email from the printing company Create Space in my inbox. They had detected no problems with the new pdf file I sent them yesterday. So, now I'm at the point where I either ask for another set of proofs, or I tell Create Space to go ahead and start selling the book.
I spent a couple hours this morning looking through the final "proof" pdf file provided by Create Space. It looks okay to me. The Garamond font looks strange in certain places when italics are used. I wrote about that in my September 9, 2012 (A) comment. But, I'm certainly not going to change fonts at this late stage.
There are some pictures I wish I could have included in the book. But, I couldn't find a good version of the picture of Ivins in his lab that didn't have AP's copyright logo on it. I couldn't find any copies anywhere of the Polaroids Tom Geisbert took of the Daschle spores oozing "goop" and "splatty stuff." There are other pictures I would have liked to have used, but they would also have pushed the book over 400 pages. And, there's no guarantee that they would have improved the book. Maybe I'll use the color versions of the pictures when I create the Kindle version of the book in a month or two.
So, I'm all set to flip the switch and put the book on sale. I'll do that Sunday morning. That may make it available for ordering immediately, but it won't "officially" go on sale until Monday morning. From this point on, I'm stepping into unknown territory. Yes, I put a book on sale once before, in 2005. But, there's no reason to believe anything that happens from this point on will be identical to what happened in 2005, when the publication of my book went mostly unnoticed -- particularly since I learned from that experience, and I'm going to do my best to make things go differently this time.
November 8, 2012 - I've corrected all the typos the proof readers spotted in the proofs of my book, and I combined the pdf files into six large files. I then took those six files to an office supply store where they combined them into one large pdf file. When I got home, I looked the file over, found it to be okay, and I uploaded it to Create Space. Now, the people at Create Space will look it over and tell me if they see any problems.
Assuming they don't (they didn't on any previous version), the next step will be for me to tell them to start selling it. I don't know how long that takes, but I'm thinking it's largely automatic and happens within minutes of me saying it's okay. I'll find out on Sunday.
If all goes well, it will be available for purchase on Create Space on Monday. The area on that site where it now says "This title is still being prepared for sale and should be ready soon" will be replaced by purchasing instructions.
November 7, 2012 (B) - True Believers are the same everywhere, regardless of what it is they believe. CNN is reporting that Tea Party members are very upset over Mitt Romney's loss to President Obama:
"We wanted someone who would fight for us. What we got was a weak, moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party," Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington.
"The presidential loss is unequivocally on them," she added.
What are these rabid Tea-Party members saying?
Are they saying that because the Republicans ran Mitt Romney, all the Tea Party people voted for Obama?
Or are they saying that because the Republicans ran Mitt Romney, none of the Tea Party people bothered to vote?
Either way, it would mean that the Tea Party people caused the loss.
Could they actually believe that, if someone like Santorum or Bachmann had run, they'd have done better than Romney? That is a preposterous fantasy that only a rabid True Believer could believe.November 7, 2012 (A) - This morning, I received the last list of typos from the people proof-reading my book. So, I should have no problem meeting the Nov. 12 deadline.
I remembered a Jan. 6 discussion about the election on my interative blog, and when I searched for it, I found it was HERE that someone calling himself "Anonymous" wrote:
My prediction: Romney in a cakewalk!
My response was:
I think Mitt is too stiff to be elected President. He seems like he's trying too hard. People are creeped out by how hard he seems to be working to get minimal acceptance.
This morning, I also found some relevant quotes and quips:
Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.
- Will Rogers (circa 1932)
Defeat always leaves a candidate puzzled; he doesn't know whether he lied too much or too little.
Some men are just as firmly convinced of what they think as others are of what they know.
Conservatism offers no redress for the present and makes no preparation for the future.
A conservative is a man whose mind is always open to new ideas, provided they are the same as the old ones.
I'm relieved that Obama was re-elected. On the negative side, Paul Ryan was also re-elected to be my representative to Congress.
And, Mitt Romney can still brag that he did win the Confederate States of America vote.
November 6, 2012 - I dood my duty. I voted on my way to the health club. I was in and out in 8 minutes, which included about 3 minutes waiting for them to un-jam the ballot reading machine. It was so full of ballots that it jammed, and they had to empty it. From what I could tell, there was a big turnout early in the morning, and there'll probably be even more this evening. With all the "early voting,"it could be a record turnout.
November 4, 2012 - On Friday, I was affected by Hurricane Sandy. I mailed a proof copy of my book to a newspaper on the East Coast, and when the guy at the post office saw the destination, he said, "It may take extra time getting there." It took me a second to realize that he was saying that mail deliveries are being delayed in some places by the horrific damage, the impassible roads, the lack of fuel, and the traffic jams associated with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
I expect everyone will do their best to deliver my package, and that's all I ask.
It's hard to evaluate the potential disaster awaiting us this coming Tuesday. In spite of all the efforts by the media to excite the public by hyping every poll that suggests the election is a neck-and-neck race, I'm sincerely hoping it won't be a close race. Close political races give the losers confidence in their beliefs. They start talking about "next time" instead of reevaluating the lies and stupidity they preached. (In other words, I'm hoping that Romney and Ryan will lose the Presidential race by a wide margin and that Paul Ryan will also lose his seat in the House of Representatives.)
My polling place is between my health club and my home, so I'll be stopping off on the way to the health club. I can't recall the last time I felt such a need to cast my vote.
Meanwhile, I still hope to have my new book available for sale at Create Space a week from tomorrow. I have a draft of a Press Release prepared, and I'll be sending it out to every media outlet I can think of as soon as the book goes on sale. That includes the Frederick News-Post, The New York Times, McClatchy newspapers and other places that are likely to be very upset over what the book says about their reporting on the case.
I had planned to send my local newspapers copies of my book, but now I'm just planning to just send them a variation of the Press Release which will emphasize that a "local author" has published a new book. I doubt that any of my three local newspapers would actually review the book, but they may find the "local author" angle newsworthy. I'll send them a copy of the book if they ask to review it, but I won't send them unsolicited copies. I still have 2 proofs available to send out.
I also plan to send emails to everyone I know who might be interested in reading the book - particularly those mentioned in the book, whether they agree with my findings or not. I have an archive of 46,324 emails to use as a source for email addresses. I just need to avoid the neo-Nazis, the truly insane and the rabid True Believers.
I still haven't completed a video for YouTube where I look into the camera, hold up the book and spend about two minutes explaining why people should buy a copy. All my attempts to create the video without a prepared script hit flubs or technical problems of one kind or another. I'm also considering putting the "outtakes" on YouTube after I get the video done. Some of the outtakes are pretty funny. People love outtakes.
I'm also thinking of selling autographed copies of the book via eBay. I've never dealt with eBay, so I need to do research to see how things work there.
My book is being printed in Charleston, SC. Checking media reports via the Internet, I can't find any accounts of significant damage there from the hurricane. So, everything at Create Space should still be working okay.
All the proofs have a printed date on the last page. Like so:
It'll be interesting to see if there's also a date on the final copies. I've set aside one copy of each proof for my personal library. They have dates of Oct. 13, Oct. 19 and Oct. 28. I'll be ordering 20 copies of the final version to send to various people and places and to keep for myself. Since print-on-demand technology is being used, my copies may not have the same date on them as copies others may buy a week or two later.
This is all very different from the way I self-published my 2005 book, "Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks." (1) I didn't ask anyone to help me proof-read that book. I did it all myself. (2) I didn't issue any Press Releases or send out announcement emails. (3) I made the mistake of sending copies to reporters I knew, not to news editors and book reviewers who might actually find it worth writing about. (4) I used a regular printing company to print that book, and I ordered a pallet load of copies, most of which are still sitting in my garage (each book is individually wrapped in plastic, which cost me an extra 14 cents per book). (5) And I never sat around thinking about inexpensive ways to promote the book. I just hoped people would see it on my web site and buy it.
Plus, of course, the new book is a true crime story. My 2005 book was essentially a collection of essays where I analyzed various issues related to the attacks. There's a much larger market for true crime books than for collections of essays by Joe Nobody.
Most of the controversial issues that are in "A Crime Unlike Any Other" where also addressed in "Analyzing The Anthrax Attacks." But, in 2005, everyone fully agreed that the case was still unsolved. Today, there's a scorched and battered no-man's-land between those who view the case has having been solved and those who angrily believe with absolute certainty that the case has not been solved.
Last week, I learned that even people who agree that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax killer can get very upset if their views about how and why Ivins did it are disputed.
So, there's a great potential for controversy over what's written in my new book. And controversy definitely helps sell books.
& Changes: Sunday, October 28, 2012, thru Saturday, November 3,
November 2, 2012 - Hmm. I had 689 visitors to this web site yesterday. That's about 200 more than on a "normal" day. I didn't see any obvious explanation for the jump in my statistical reports. There was nothing in the news. But, digging through my web site logs I found that someone in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada apparently ran a program called "Linkwalker" that uses a different IP address nearly every time it does a GET command, and they were prowling through my web site from 11:56 a.m. to 10:18 p.m. It appears to have something to do with the web site at www.blackstump.net/terrorism.htm where I see a link to my site, and/or the web site at www.brandprotect.com, which has something to do with protecting against identity theft. As long as they don't persist and do it too often, I won't block them.
This morning, "Anonymous" was once again arguing on my interactive blog about the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes. The facts do not agree with his belief that Muslim terrorists sent the letters, so he argues that I do not "understand the importance of validation of method." He doesn't care that he's also saying that the FBI doesn't "understand the importance of validation of method," since the FBI says that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer, not Muslim terrorists. Thus, it's just another opinion versus opinion argument, which I'm not interested in continuing.
I was also asked via emails about the guy who was proof reading my book and then cut off all communications with me. Our point of disagreement seems to have been about Ivins' personality. The proof reader felt that Ivins was a calculating, cold-blooded killer. The facts tell me that Ivins didn't intend to kill anyone. The facts say Ivins took many precautions to make sure no one was harmed, but he just didn't understand how dangerous dried anthrax powders are. The disagreement between the proof reader and I over that point led to disagreements over what Ivins would or would not do when committing the crime. That's another opinion versus opinion argument. And, once we started arguing opinion versus opinion, he became angry and cut off all communication. Too bad. He'd been very helpful prior to that point.
I really need to avoid and stay out of opinion versus opinion arguments.
November 1, 2012 - It appears that the Government Accountablity Office is a long way from being completed with their review of the Amerithrax investigation, so I sent them a copy of my new book to consider as they continue with the process.
This morning I received an email from a NYC talk show show host asking me to join his "professional network on LinkedIn." It looked too much like computer-generated junk mail, so I responded to his email address, saying I am leery of joining LinkedIn. If it was a serious request to establish contact, he can say so via a regular email.
The message, however, brought to mind another talk show host who should be very interested in aspects of my book. I was tempted to just send her a copy, but I decided to try contacting her first to see if sending the book would be acceptable. Time will tell if she finds the topic to be of interest.
Meanwhile, one of the people helping me proof-read my book got wildly outraged over something in the book. Or maybe he just didn't like being one of several people doing the proofing and used the material in the book as an excuse. (The material conflicted with his own personal beliefs about the case.) Either way, he broke off all contact. So, my book is definitely going to be very controversial with some people.
October 31, 2012 - The third batch of 5 "proofs" of my new book arrived today. Now, I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. If I send some of them to newspapers, I'll probably have to include a letter listing the typos that have been found. Fortunately, the list of typos will take only about a half a page - so far.
I'm tempted to send the General Accountablity Office (GAO) a copy of the book to use in the report they are supposedly preparing about the Amerithrax investigation. The GAO might find it helpful, although it would definitely freak out some Anthrax Truthers to think that the GAO might actually use it. The book explains the case chronologically, step by step, fact after fact. So, it does a lot of the GAO's work for them. ;-)
October 29, 2012 - This morning, I received some feedback from two people who are reading my book. One has gotten as far as page 78, the other reached page 56. Both found a typo on page 4!
On the opposite side of the same hallway, he found closet which was locked.
On the opposite side of the same hallway, he found a closet which was locked.
I expected they might find a typo around page 250 or 300, but not on page 4! I probably read that page 30 times without noticing the typo. Moreover, on page 22, I wrote
The bacteria two divide to create 4 bacteria,
which should have been
The two bacteria divide to create 4 bacteria,
There were about 10 other mistakes in the first chapters that are equally embarrassing. Interestingly, most mistakes are found by one proofer but not the other. One proof reader mentioned that I shouldn't hypenate words like were-n't, having were- at the end of one line and n't at the start of the next line. I agree. WordPerfect did it that way about a half dozen times in the book. I'm not sure how to prevent it. I'll try to correct them all. I was hoping no one would notice. Someone did.
There's one mistake that one proofer caught that I would never have caught. It was the fact that I didn't sufficiently identify my research sources in some key instances. At the start of the NOTES section, there's a page where I explain the abbreviations I use. I explained one abbreviation this way:
Willman pp 10 = David Willman's book "The Mirage Man," page 10.I should have done it this way:
Willman pp 10 = David Willman's book "The Mirage Man" (Bantam Books, 2011) page 10.
I used equally insufficient identifications on five or six other books where I abbreviated names. It never occurred to me that I should mention the publisher or copyrights holder and the date of the publication, if for no other reason than to make certain people can find the right book. Paperback editions won't have the information on the same pages as hardback editions. All the instances of this error have been fixed.
A relative who received a proof copy wrote me that she's in the middle of a family crisis and won't have the time to do much proofing. I didn't check before sending the book. Another mistake.
But, on the positive side, the two who have read the first few chapters of the book seem to be thoroughly enjoying the read. And my relative was very impressed by both the cover of the book and the title.
October 28, 2012 - In my Wednesday comment, I wrote that I wouldn't be printing any more proof copies of my book. The Anthrax Truthers can now log that as another incorrect statement of mine.
I kept waking up each morning thinking about a couple short sentences I felt I should add at the bottom of page 63 to clarify an observation about the handwriting on the Brokaw letter and envelope. Because there is an illustration at the top of the next page, there was room to add the sentences to page 63 without altering anything else. I was going to include the new sentences when I got around to making the "final" changes. On Friday, however, I thought better of the situation. I added the two sentences, then I went through the book from cover to cover to fix all the instances where I failed to italicize the names of newspapers, books and magazines or where I put quotes around such names. Along the way, I made a few other minor changes that had been nagging at me, too. In total, I modified about 30 out of the 45 chapters.
Then, of course, I couldn't wait for whatever changes the people currently reading the book might suggest before getting a new set of proofs. They probably won't be making their suggestions until just before the deadline - November 12. So, I created the PDF files with my fixes, and I took the flash drive with the files to the office supply store to merge them. I then uploaded the combined PDF file of my book to Create Space. They found no errors. The file was approved this morning, and I ordered 5 more proof copies. The copies are scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.
Another impetus was the feeling that I should have some extra copies of the book on hand in case I suddenly think of someone else who should get a proof copy. Or, some involved expert I've forgotten about might ask for an advance copy. (Yesterday, an Anthrax Truther asked for a copy, but I'd rather that he buy the book in mid-November, since he's just going to maliciously ridicule the book and do all he can to prevent sales.)
While at the office supply store, I noticed a machine behind the counter that makes posters. A 24x36 inch poster costs just $19.95! So, after they merged my PDF files into one big file, I rushed home and created a poster PDF file. Here I am with the finished poster before I put it in a frame and hung it on the wall behind my desk:
One of the two book publishers I queried on August 27 still hasn't responded. I'll have to assume that that publisher isn't going to respond. I also don't see much chance that any literary agent will favorably respond at this late date and ask to read the manuscript. Between March 5 and September 24, I sent out 48 query letters to agents - including 4 repeats. I received 19 form-letter rejections and one turndown from the agent who actually read the first version and told me I was the "right person" to write such a book, but it was at least 150 pages too long.
Is the current version still too long? Maybe. But, it would take a LOT more than just a comment that it is "too long" for me to cut anything further from the book. They'd have to tell me exactly what needs to be cut, and I'd have to agree.
While discussing my book with the people at the office supply store as we waited for my poster to be printed, I was reminded that most people who buy and read books seem to have forgotten about the anthrax attacks of 2001, or they are trying to forget about the attacks and get on with their lives. The only way they're going to become interested is if they hear positive things about my book and get intrigued.
The big problem with generating interest in the book is what the literary agents saw as the problem: I don't have the right "platform." If I was an FBI agent who had worked on the case, that could make people want to read the book - even if I only worked on the case for a couple days. A professor of criminology might have a "platform," too. But, I'm just some guy on the Internet who most people have never heard of. And, if they have heard of me, they'll probably remember that I once said the culprit "most likely" lived and worked in Central New Jersey. I was wrong. The FBI thought the same thing for a long time, but that's one of the facts that nearly everyone has forgotten about.
Some of the people who know me and regularly read my comments on this web site might want to read the book, but who else would?
I think my book reads like a "thriller." Will others agree?
I think my book is a pleasure to read. Will others agree?
I think my book is filled with fascinating NEW information. Will others agree?
I think my book provides new perspectives on the case. Will others agree?
Before very long, I'm going to be getting some answers to those questions.
& Changes: Sunday, October 21, 2012, thru Saturday, October 27,
October 25, 2012 - Evidently, the $150,000 reward they offered in March for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person sending the Dallas hoax letters didn't result in catching the guy -- or there's a second hoaxer on the loose in the same general area. There were news reports this week about "white powder letters" found at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in Dallas. Unfortunately, there's no information about whether or not the new letters are similar to the letters found in the past.
October 24, 2012 - The second set of 5 "proofs" of my new book arrived today. I kept one copy and sent the other four to newspapers which once had a particular interest in the anthrax attacks because they were the hometown newspapers of some of the victims.
I didn't include The New York Times or the Washington Post for two reasons: (1) They probably wouldn't pay any attention to a self-published book. (2) They won't like what the facts say about them in the book. The same with some other large newspapers. It may also be true of the 4 newspapers who will get the "proofs," but I needed to at least try a few newspapers to see what the results will be.
I don't expect to request any more "proofs." The next batch of changes to the book will just be reviewed on-line, and then I'll tell them to go ahead with making it available for purchase. As I've written before, that is scheduled to happen around November 12.
Until then, I'll mostly just be waiting for comments and suggestions from the four people who are currently reading the book.
Today I received notice from USAMRIID that they do not have the Polaroids that Tom Geisbert took of the Daschle attack spores on October 16, 2001. I thought they might make a great addition to my book, since they would show what Geisbert and Peter Jahrling and others thought was "weaponization" inside the spores. But, it's easy to see how the Polaroids were probably trash-canned once everyone realized that the pictures didn't show what it was they believed the pictures showed -- and what Jahrling told a White House meeting on October 24, 2001, that they showed.
It was probably too late to add the pictures to my book, anyway. It would have required a major change early in the book. I describe the pictures, and they were described in a chapter in my 2005 book. But, it would have been nice to show them.
I tried making another video of me describing the contents of the book and why it is unlike any other book about the anthrax attacks. But, I need practice on talking into the camera. I kept looking at the notes I taped under the camera and staring off into space when I needed to recall something. I'll probably need to shoot a half dozen versions and then pick the best - if there is a best.
I also need to think about writing a press release and making up a list of people and places to notify when my book becomes available for purchase via Create Space.
One of these days, I'll also have to start thinking about putting a version on Kindle and other ebook sites.
October 23, 2012 (C) - Hmm. Someone just pointed me to a Connecticut Post article about a white powder "package" sent to St. Vincent College in Bridgeport, CT:
According to fire officials, shortly after 5 p.m. [on Monday] an unidentified man dropped off a package on the reception desk on the fourth floor of St. Vincent's College. When the receptionist opened it, she found it contained some white powder, along with another item that wasn't immediately identified.
The powder was found in a fourth-floor administrative office at the Main Street building, said Joseph Laveneziana, security director for St. Vincent's. A packet of a starchy substance was found with a drawing that looked like one done by a child, he said.
The package was hand-delivered? That's certainly different. And it contained a drawing that looked like it was done by a child? That's different, too. It's like someone was taunting the police to see if they could figure out who did it. Weird.
October 23, 2012 (B) - NUTS!!! This time, instead of coming two days late, the UPS guy came a day early. And I wasn't at home. Instead of leaving the box outside my door, the way he did last week, this time he left a sticker on the door saying he'd try again tomorrow. I'll have to try to find if Create Space provides the UPS Tracking Code. If I've had that, I would have known the books would arrive today.
NUTS again! Searching for information about UPS tracking codes, I find it was available all along. I just didn't know where to look for it. If I had, this morning I'd have seen that it says, "Out for Delivery." Now it says that at 1:08 p.m., "The customer was not available on the 1st attempt. A 2nd attempt will be made." Live and learn.
October 23, 2012 (A) - Someone just sent me a very interesting news article titled "Italian scientists convicted of manslaughter for earthquake risk report." My first thought was that the title must be misleading. But, it's not. The article says,
A group of six seismologists were convicted of manslaughter by an Italian court today for their role in the preparation of a risk report on seismic activity in L'Aquila, Italy. The report, which was generally regarded as reassuring, was released about a week before an earthquake struck the town, killing over 300 people. Initial reports indicate that the scientists have been sentenced to six years in prison.
The prosecution had attracted widespread condemnation from the scientific community, with one petition on behalf of the seismologists attracting over 5,000 signatures. But, shockingly, the judge in the case took only a few hours to deliver the verdict, and handed down sentences that were two years longer than those requested by the prosecutor. Appeals will undoubtedly be forthcoming.
Clicking on the link in the article takes you to a BBC article on the same subject. That article says there were actually seven people on trial and names them. One defendant was evidently the government official who advised the public of what the scientists had predicted. The article also says,
The judge also ordered the defendants to pay court costs and damages.
The seven - all members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks - were accused of having provided "inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory" information about the danger of the tremors felt ahead of 6 April 2009 quake, Italian media report.
In addition to their sentences, all have been barred from ever holding public office again, La Repubblica reports.
"If the scientific community is to be penalised for making predictions that turn out to be incorrect, or for not accurately predicting an event that subsequently occurs, then scientific endeavour will be restricted to certainties only and the benefits that are associated with findings from medicine to physics will be stalled."
These articles aren't entirely off-topic. They can probably be related to the anthrax attacks of 2001 in many ways, since the public's perception of that case was distorted by mistaken opinions from so many uninformed scientists. But, the Italian scientists were evidently as informed as it was possible to be. They just didn't have enough information to make reliable predictions.
I could make a prediction that the case will be overturned in appeals court. But, I don't have enough information to make such a prediction. And, I wouldn't want to be convicted of making a wrong prediction about what the appeals court would say.
October 22, 2012 - This is totally off-topic, but there's a very cool video on NASA's web site showing the space shuttle Endeavour being towed from LAX airport, through the streets of Los Angeles, to the California Science Center. Click HERE to view it.
October 21, 2012 - Yesterday, I uploaded a YouTube video of me looking over the proofs of my new book. Click HERE to view it. Or you can go to my interactive blog where there's an image to click on to view the video.
Creating the video was a rush job. As I wrote here on Friday, I was on my way to the health club when I opened my door and found the box of books setting in front of my door. So, I had to hastily make a video showing the five books before I put three of them in envelopes and shipped them out. The post office was on my way to the health club, but I still started my exercises about an hour late.
Then, yesterday, I had to figure out how to upload the video to YouTube. I found that since I already have a Google-powered blog, I was already a "member" of the Google community (YouTube is owned by Google). So, uploading a video to YouTube was incredibly simple. I kept looking for serious problems, but the only serious problem I had was that I was constantly looking for serious problems that weren't there.
In the video, I didn't even mention the title of the book. I also didn't realize that my computer file name would appear on the screen with the video. MVI_0526 is the file number assigned by my camera's software. I think "MVI" means movie image, and it's the 526th picture I've shot with the camera since I bought it. Next time, before uploading a video to YouTube, I'll change the file name to something more meaningful. Live and learn.
When I get the next batch of proofs (supposedly on Wednesday), I won't be as rushed. I plan to make a totally different video in which I'll talk more about the contents of the book and less about its appearance and how much it weighs. I'll probably find out what I'll actually talk about after I've talked about it.
I'm learning a lot as I'm going through this process. One of the other things I learned last week was that the book will first be on sale via a customer web page Create Space sets up for books they print. Mine is here: https://www.createspace.com/4019175. As you can see at that link, the book is not yet available for sale. The instructions for ordering will appear on that page as soon as I approve the proofs, which I plan to do around November 12. The book will be available on Amazon.com about a week later, and people will be able to order it via other book sellers about a month after that.
Interestingly, the royalties I'll receive as a result of sales through Create Space's web page are 65% higher than the royalties I'll receive as a result of sales via Amazon.com, and over 400% higher than royalties I'll get from sales via Barnes & Noble and other book outlets.
So, obviously, I'll be urging everyone to buy the book via that Create Space page.
Unfortunately, I won't get any royalties on books I order for myself. I'll be ordering a whole bunch - maybe 25 copies to start. I'll need copies for the Copyrights Office, for the Library of Congress, for my local library, for relatives and for people who have assisted me with the book. A couple days ago, I came across this pertinent quote:
But, I'm not complaining. I think the book looks terrific. I'm really proud of it. And I'm hoping people will discover that it reads as great as it looks. I'm trying to think of ways to promote it. When it becomes available for sale, I'll be emailing everyone I know to tell them about it. And I'm trying to think of other ways to get people to read it. If they don't read books, maybe they'll just put a copy of it on their mantle. It's a work of art!
Meanwhile, I've learned that a new book titled "500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars," by Kurt Eichenwald contains a lot of details about the anthrax case. The index shows that the word "anthrax" is mentioned on pages 68, 76, 77, 88, 91-92, 101, 107-109, 115, 121-22, 123-25, 126, 127, 128, 129, 131- 133, 155,161-162, 166, 173, 185, 204, 222, 228, 232, 266, 340, 412, 469, 489, 492 and 513-518.
That's about 45 pages from a book that is over 600 pages.
From what I can see, however, it's not anything I need to be concerned about. "500 Days" isn't a book about the anthrax case; the anthrax case is just something that was going on while all the other things of primary interest to Eichenwald were happening. With luck, Eichenwald's book will generate some interest in the anthrax case and make people look for other books on the subject -- like mine.
"500 Days" doesn't appear to say anything new about the anthrax case, yet one Anthrax Truther has been ranting endlessly about it all week on Lew Weinstein's blog. Here are some of "Dxer's" comments:
If Kurt looks dispassionately at the documentary evidence on the 52 rabbits — and compares it to the Amerithrax Investigative Summary — he’ll see it was AUSA Lieber who was lying and not Bruce.
The problem is the same as with author Mr. Willman, though. Once these journalists have a financial interest in selling books, they have no interest in updating their analysis with the documentary evidence that was withheld by the DOJ until after the authors needed to submit their manuscript to the publication. After publication, interviews are just a matter of sound bytes based on the published word, now writ in stone. The authors killed a tree to get the word out, might as well not change the account now.
These authors are clearly highly skilled, accomplished and well-meaning — but the long lead times involved in publication have caused missteps in analysis to go uncorrected. The mistakes and false narrative become accepted as a false history in our country’s libraries all because we have an archaic publishing industry.
Missteps in analysis in a national security matter relating to an unresolved threat is very serious indeed. Failure is not an option.
This is not a time to brook fools gladly — or liars.and
Kurt writes of October 6: “Ivins had worked in B-313 every night that weekend — a highly unusual deviation from his typical Monday-through-Friday schedule of the past three years. He kept no notes in his lab books the previous two nights (October 4 and 5) and would not write any entries this time either — another change from his normal procedure.” (p. 108)
It simply is NOT TRUE and Mr. Eichenwald has the stature and the media platform to set the record straight.and
With no forensic evidence in support of an Ivins Theory — and with the theory directly contradicted by the on-point documentary evidence — Mr. Eichenwald had to reach for speculation that not even the US Attorney or the Amerithrax Investigative Summary dare touch.
Kurt Eichenwald writes that the zipcode was Monmouth and that “Ivins obsessed on the word Monmouth for reasons having nothing to do with his family history — not only was Thomas Ivins born in a place called Monmouth, but so was Kappa Kappa Gamma, the focus of Ivin’s most intense and decades-long obsession. The sorority was was founded at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, a fact mentioned by Ivins in some of his many diatribes about the group that he posted, using aliases on the Internet.”
Mr. Eichenwald is taking a highly speculative theory — that in most people has prompted giggles — and urges it as fact.Wait until "Dxer" reads my book. It'll probably give him a seizure. It goes far beyond the FBI/DOJ summary to explain how and why Ivins committed the crime. The book shows how the media and Anthrax Truthers misled the public about the case in order to promote their own baseless theories. And the book explains in great detail how the FBI gradually figured out that Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins was the anthrax mailer, that Ivins acted alone, and that Ivins was guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.
"A Crime Unlike Any Other" is the definitive book about the anthrax attacks of 2001.
& Changes: Sunday, October 14, 2012, thru Saturday, October 20,
October 19, 2012 (B) - When I opened the door after lunch to head to the health club for my regular workout, there was a box of books in front of the door. No one buzzed, and I didn't hear anyone knock. The books could have been sitting there for hours. They were shipped via UPS Second Day Air, but the label on the box was torn and part of the scanner code was missing. That may have caused delays.
So, I had to scramble to take some pictures of the five books before I put three of them into envelopes for shipping to people who will help proof read the book for me. Here are a couple pictures I took:
It looks great! The black on the cover is really deep black. The printing is clear, and the images inside are really sharp. It's a really heavy book, about a pound and a half. I shipped two copies via flat rate envelopes, and one copy in a bubble wrap envelope. Shipping flat rate Priority Mail was cheaper, because the book weighs so much.
October 19, 2012 (A) - I should never state my plans. I change them as soon as I mention them. The revised pdf file I sent to Create Space yesterday was accepted, and this morning I ordered 5 more "proofs" of my book. I again used the "expedited delivery" option, even though I wrote yesterday that I probably wouldn't. "Expedited delivery" is supposed to get them to me on Wednesday the 24th. Regular delivery wouldn't get them to me until the 29th. And the "priority" option to get them to me on the 22nd was just too expensive.
Will they arrive on the 24th? Time will tell. But, if they arrive before the 29th, I'll probably consider it money well spent. And, I probably won't complain if the 5 books I'm currently waiting for arrive today or tomorrow. If they don't arrive until Monday, then I wasted $10.
BTW, I took my 6 pdf files to a different office supply store yesterday, and the guy who combined them into one file for me was even more pleasant and more experienced than the guys at the other store I used the first two times I combined pdf files. And, he did it for free. I picked up a supply of mailer envelopes while there. So, I'm all set to start shipping out the proofs -- as soon as I receive the proofs.
October 18, 2012 - Grumble grumble! My books didn't arrive today, either. I don't know what the problem is or who to blame. I spent most of the day literally pacing the floor waiting for the mail carrier. Then she came and went without delivering my books.
Meanwhile, I continued on with the process. I submitted a new pdf file for review by people at Create Space. It contains a small bunch of corrections. When the review is complete, I'll order another 5 "proof" copies, which I plan to ship to some newspapers and a magazine to see if they will review it. I probably won't use the 2-day delivery option, though. Why pay for the option if the books aren't really going to arrive in 2 days? If or when the first batch of "proofs" arrive, I'll try to figure out what went wrong.
October 17, 2012 (B) - I just remembered seeing some odd entries on my web site log last night. Since I have nothing better to do at the moment (while I'm waiting for my books to be delivered), I checked the entries out and found dozens and dozens of HEAD accesses from the "third ring" blog on wordpress.com. It appears that the site was created by Jennifer Lake, who is no relation to me nor anyone I've ever heard of before. It doesn't look like she's updated the site since Nov. 2011. I can see links to my site on her site. The accesses that showed up on my log came from these IP addresses:
22.214.171.124Those IP addresses are all located in San Francisco. The accesses suddenly start at 8:30 p.m. and just as suddenly end at 10:33 p.m.
It seems to be a VERY large web site with lots and lots of stuff about the anthrax attacks of 2001, mostly quotes from newspaper articles. Yet, this is the first time I've ever seen that site.
Why Jennifer Lake developed that site is one of Life's little mysteries.
After looking the site over, I checked my web site logs again, and I found no log entries resulting from my visit to her site. So, it appears that someone ran a program for two hours last night that checked to see if the links on Jennifer's site still work. If that's not the explanation, then last night's accesses are another of Life's little mysteries.
October 17, 2012 (A) - The mail carrier came and went at around 11 a.m. without delivering any books. But, that doesn't mean that there won't be a "special delivery" later in the day. I did pay for 2-day delivery. I think the post office sometimes makes special deliveries after 4:30 or 5 p.m., when they are more likely to find people at home. Meanwhile, I'm just waiting. It's now 2:30 p.m., and I've finished watching the TV shows from yesterday that I had on my DVR. I can't take back my movie rentals. I'm more or less stuck until 6 p.m., when I'll just assume that there won't be a book delivery today.
October 16, 2012 (B) - Just received another turn-down from a literary agent. I sent the query on September 24, so that's just over three weeks ago. If an agent were to want to read the book, there's still time. But, time is rapidly running out.
October 16, 2012 (A) - Tomorrow, NOVA on PBS will be airing a documentary titled "Forensics on Trial." Part of the program description is as follows:
There is a startling gap between the glamorous television world of “CSI” and the gritty reality of the forensic crime lab. With few established scientific standards, no central oversight, and poor regulation of examiners, forensics in the U.S. is in a state of crisis. In "Forensics on Trial", NOVA investigates how modern forensics, including the analysis of fingerprints, bite marks, ballistics, hair, and tool marks, can send innocent men and women to prison—and sometimes even to death row.
Needless to say, Anthrax Truthers will be watching it to see what they can use to argue that the case against Bruce Ivins was flawed.
Following NOVA, most PBS stations will be airing the NOVAScienceNow program "Can Science Stop Crime." Part of that program description is:
What's the secret to stopping crime? David Pogue gives the third degree to scientists pushing the limits of technology, not only to solve horrific murders but also to try to prevent crimes before they even happen. Pogue learns the latest techniques, from unraveling the clues embedded in a decomposing corpse, to detecting lies by peering directly into a suspect's brain, to tracking the creation of a criminal mind.
I don't expect the anthrax attacks of 2001 to be mentioned in either of these programs, but it might happen. Either way, they look like interesting programs to me. I've already set my DVR to record them.
Someone who just read the above comment advised me that PBS Frontline had a show on the same topic on April 17, 2012. It was called "The Real CSI." From the show titles, the NOVA show seems to be about new problems with using forensic evidence in court, and the Frontline show was about how real life crime scene investigation differs from what is seen on TV. It looks like basically the same subject but different points of view.
October 15, 2012 - For what it's worth, I'm working toward having my book available for sale on Amazon.com on November 19. If I can manage that, the book will be available via other book web sites and for ordering in actual book stores 4 or 5 weeks later.
October 14, 2012 - I'm not seeing any 11th anniversary articles about the anthrax attacks of 2001. And I'm not seeing any news about the Syracuse hoax letters. So, the only news today is that I've decided it's no longer necessary to keep the title of my new book a secret. Here's what I expect the cover art for my new book will look like:
The anthrax attacks of 2001 were a crime unlike any other. The subtitle explains everything else. Anyone doing a search for true crime books should find it easily. This morning I came up with a catchy marketing slogan: "It's a book unlike any other about a crime unlike any other. "
I modified the back cover a bit from the first version. The price of the book ($19.95) is shown as part of the new scanner code, so there was no reason for me to put it atop the back page, too. Without the price atop the back cover, it was clear that the picture under it needed some explanation. So, I reduced the size of the image a bit and added some enticing text above it. I was briefly tempted to put a picture of "the author" on the back cover, which is the traditional way to fill that space, but I don't think my picture will help sell any books. And, I don't have time to think about what to wear, how to pose, etc.
The next step will be to look over the "proof" copies. They're scheduled to arrive at my door on Wednesday. Create Space would only allow me to order 5 "proof" copies, so I'll have to do some deep thinking about who might be available to read the book and give me some fast feedback.
I don't expect to be making any major changes, but, depending upon what they say, I may have to fix some typos and other minor errors. After the changes are applied and go through Create Space's review process again, I'll tell them to put the book on sale. It should appear on Amazon.com a week or so later. And, it will be in book store ordering systems shortly after that. When I obtained the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), I told them that I expected the book to be released in November. That still looks good.
On Friday, when I paid Create Space $25 for their "Expanded Distribution" package, I learned that they won't be putting it in the systems that libraries and universities use to order books. I don't know how significant that is. Create Space has some kind of agreement with Baker & Taylor, the company that distributes books to libraries and universities. Evidently, Baker & Taylor won't sell any books unless the book uses an ISBN number provided by Amazon.com/Create Space. I bought the ISBN number elsewhere in 2005. I don't know how many libraries order self-published books, but I assume it isn't very many. I'll be giving my local library two copies. If any other library really wants a copy, they can order it some other way.
As of this moment, I'm the only person on earth who has read the book. A couple agents read a much longer version back in June, but their only real comment was that the book was way too long. So, I cut 140 pages from the manuscript. I can assume that the Anthrax Truthers will hate the bok, because they have their own beliefs about what happened and who did it. However, I keep wondering what people who aren't really familiar with the case will say. Will they be stunned by all the mistakes made by nearly everyone involved? Will they be amazed by what a messy process it was to find the killer? Will they be surprised by all the important details they knew nothing about?
What will FBI investigators and DOJ prosecutors think of it? The book explains a lot more than they did about how Ivins went about committing the crime. The book fills in a lot of blanks.
What will journalists think about it? The book doesn't paint a very nice picture of their profession. The anthrax attacks of 2001 resulted in some of the worst examples of media reporting in modern times.
What will scientists think about it? There are many examples in the book of scientists with mistaken beliefs arguing against scientists with solid facts.
What will friends and co-workers of Bruce Ivins think of it?
Time will tell.
& Changes: Sunday, October 7, 2012, thru Saturday, October 13,
October 12, 2012 - The corrected pdf file I uploaded to Create Space last night worked okay. So, they have the text for the book. I finished the artwork for the cover before noon today, and it was also accepted. So, now they say I have to wait about 48 hours for some humans to look over what I've uploaded. I'll be using the cover design I favored in my Sunday comment. Finishing the cover art was mostly just a matter of getting the dimensions right and adding the real scanner bar-code. A 400 page book on white paper calculates to be .9008 inches thick. The book is 6x9 inches, but I needed to add the "bleed," which is an extra 1/8th of an inch on all sides where the ink will "bleed" off and be trimmed away. So, the book cover art was on a pdf file that was 9.25 inches high by 13.1508 inches wide, and the image was the minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch).
I also paid $25 for Create Space's "Expanded Distribution" package, which will allow book stores to order books. And I paid $10 to createbarcodes.com for the scanner code. So, the expenses are now adding up. I've spent $35.25 so far. (Last night, they didn't charge me anything at the office supply store to combine pdfs.)
October 10, 2012 - The Library of Congress Control Number for my new book was in my inbox this morning. They said it could take a week, but it only took a day. So, the next step was to combine all the pdf files into one.
That step was completed before noon. I then had a combined pdf file with all 399 pages (including 2 blank pages at the beginning, 6 pages wth the cover, Table of Contents, etc., and 391 pages of text etc.). It looked okay. The guy at the office supply store I had talked to on Saturday wasn't there. I told the different guy who was there what the first guy had told me would be the price, and that's what he charged me: 25 cents, plus 1 cent tax. That 26 cents will be my first expense in my Profit and Loss Statement.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the combined pdf file is searchable. I'd wondered about that. The input files weren't searchable, but the output file is? But, I can now scan through the entire book for a name anytime I want.
The next step, which I did while eating lunch, was to upload the file to Create Space. That was a very interesting process. As soon as Create Space had the pdf file, they showed me what the book would look like and what problems they had with it. There were two problems, one serious, one not
The serious error is that they require that my book pages have a wider "gutter," i.e., the printing on the pages should not be centered the way I did it, the printing should be further away from the fold and closer to the edge. Here's how the errors were displayed:
Okay. I think that's a fairly easy fix. I'll have to dig into it. It means creating all my pdf files over again, but there's no way around it. (The title of the book was at the top of the left page, but I deleted it when I created the above image. The title is still a secret.)
The second problem was that 5 or 6 of my illustrations aren't at least 300 dpi (dots per inch), which is how Create Space would like them. Here's how that kind of error was displayed:
I did create 300 dpi images for the two pictures on the left, but for some reason the one on the right is only 200 dpi. I'm not sure why I did that right image differently. I know had to change three other images from 300 dpi to 200 dpi in order to create an individual chapter pdf file that was less than 5 megs. But, the image above wasn't one of them.
However, it's not a serious problem. Create Space just says that the picture won't be as sharp and clear as it could be. So, I have the option of correcting it or not correcting it. I had the same problem when I published my first book. The printers look at the images with magnifying glasses to see if they are as sharp as they can be. They don't want any complaints if the pictures aren't as sharp as they can make them. I'll have to make a decision as to whether or not to sharpen the 5 or 6 images in question.
But, first I have to solve the "gutter" problem. That could take a day or two.
Once I get through the automated checks of my pdf file, there'll be a manual check by experts at Create Space. They say that takes about 2 days.
It was really interesting to page through the book on-line. It looks great - even if the gutters are the wrong size.
October 8, 2012 (B) - Uh oh. I just got an email from an Anthrax Truther who had never contacted me before. The subject of his email was "Anthrax attacks were designed to accompany 9/11 attacks." I immediately assumed he found me as a result of my setting up my new book at Create Space and Bowker. But, after I responded, I realized that he'd sent the email to the address on this web site. So, he probably just found this site somehow. In his email he provided his real name, and when I researched him, I found that I probably shouldn't have replied at all.
October 8, 2012 (A) - My comment on Sunday was a bit long and meandering because I was writing it as I was doing the things mentioned in the comment. I would write that I needed to do something, then I'd decide to just do it. Then I'd go back and revise the comment to be about what I'd done and what new problems may be ahead.
So, what I'll try to do now is summarize and clarify the current situation:
1. I've decided to self-publish my book via Create Space, which is owned by Amazon.com
2. I have the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for the book. The book has been registered with Bowker and accepted.
3. I think I've finished the cover design. A image of it is part of my Sunday comment.
4. I'm now waiting on the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) which goes on the copyrights page, which is after the title page. Yesterday, I sent my "liason" at the Library of Congress an email. They say it could be a week or more before I get a reply.
5. When I have the LCCN, I'll have someone merge all my pdf files together into one big file, and I'll submit it (upload it) to Create Space.
6. Create Space has a "robot" (a.k.a. a program) that will examine the pdf file for certain kinds of errors. If it finds errors that need to be fixed, I'll fix them and resubmit.
7. By that time I'll have obtained the UPC scanner code. So, I'll submit my cover art. I assume it needs to be reviewed, too.
8. When that part of the error-correcting process is complete, Create Space will ship me as many "proof" copies as I want to pay for. A "proof" is a sample book showing what they will actually be printing. Delivery takes 5 days or so (less if I use Priority Mail).
9. If the "proof" copies are okay, I'll send copies to my family, to the Library of Congress, to a few sources who helped me with the book, and to journalists and scientists who might review the book for me.
10. Then, I may try writing and sending out a press release.
11. Then, if I haven't stumbled into an pitfalls, and if no literary agent has asked to represent the book, I'll tell Create Space to put the book on the market.
Those 11 steps could take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months. Meanwhile, what I'll be doing most of the time is waiting for someone else to do something.
Hopefully, I'll still find a lot of interesting things to write comments about.
October 7, 2012 - I made a lot of progress with my new book last week. Among other things, I'm to the point where I've pretty much settled on the cover art. Here are four of the ideas I came up with (I'm still keeping the title of the book a secret for now):
I thought the colors in biohazard symbol on the upper left cover reminded me too much of the insignia on Superman's uniform. The upper right version seemed too bland. But the green version seems to attract my eye, and I think it looks appropriately ominous. But, how many people recognize the biohazard symbol?
Then I thought I'd try a different approach, and after going through several versions I created the bottom right cover. Right now, unless I can come up with something I like better, it's going to be a decision between the bottom two covers. At the moment, I'm leaning heavily toward the bottom right cover. It says more and it says it more clearly.
So, slapping on a back cover and using the price, dimensions, ISBN and UPC code from my 2005 book, here are what the front and back covers might look like together:
An alternative would be to write some text for the back cover, giving the reader a better idea of what the book is about. However, I don't know if any potential buyers will ever be looking at the book in an actual book store, and explanations are part of what the customer sees on-line. So, the more I look at this configuration, the more I like it.
Last week, I also discovered that I don't need to pay $125 for an ISBN code. I've apparently already got eight International Standard Book Number (ISBN) codes that I can use on anything I want. I bought ten ISBN codes back in 2005 when I was getting ready to publish my first book. I'm not absolutely certain, but I think that was the way they were sold back then: ten at a time. I used one for the 2005 book, and I used another in 2010 for the Kindle version. That means I can use one of the remaining eight for the new book, one for the Kindle version of the new book, one for the Russian edition, one for the Braille edition, one for the Sanskrit edition, etc., etc. (Joke)
I still haven't received any positive responses from literary agents, nor have I received a response from the first publisher I queried. All I received was one more rejection. So, last week I began doing some determined research and a "cost benefit analysis" of my options for self-publishing. At TheBookDesigner.com, I found a blog thread that provided most of the information I needed to make a decision.
On that blog, book designer Joel Friedlander writes about how Create Space is owned by Amazon.com, the largest retailer on-line, and Lightning Source is owned by Ingram, the largest book distributor in America:
Ingram will make your book available for ordering at almost every bookstore in the country, and automatically list it on Amazon. And with CreateSpace, for an investment of $39 you can get the exact same reach as part of an “expanded distribution” package.
The problem I had with that comparison was that I didn't know what the real advantages and disadvantages were. Both companies seem to be able to produce books and provide a way to sell them. But, why is Lightning Source supposedly better for "publishers" who plan a series of books, and why is Create Space better for those like me who just want to get one book published?
The key questions I felt I needed to find answers for were:
1. Can I use my existing pdf files to print the book?So, I started looking at the comments from readers that followed Friedlander's article. The first reader had lots of new information:
2. How much will 30 or 40 initial copies cost me?
3. Who establishes the retail price of the book?
4. What rights do I lose to the Print-On-Demand company?
(1) CreateSpace is extremely paranoid about potential copyright violation, and demanded that I show proof that I had permission to use every photograph in a book. I’ve never encountered this, or heard of this, with other printers, and it delayed publication of the book.
Okay. I have all the necessary permissions. That comment didn't answer any of my key questions, but it addressed an area I had been wondering about.
Another comment from the same reader:
(3) LS needs text submitted using Adobe Acrobat Distiller applied to a Postscript file, but CS and Lulu will accept “raw” PDFs.
Boom! That seemed to tell me that Lightning Source (LS) was out of the picture. It answered my Question #1.
Another reader helped me make a decision with this comment:
We’ve had great luck with Lightning Source as well, and we have helped other authors who wanted to use them. The main obstacle for most authors so far has been the proper formatting of the cover and interior PDFs.
And yet another reader wrote:
In working with new authors, I find that the demands of LS can be a bit overwhelming–for example, just submitting the appropriate PDF file.
So, the picture was becoming fairly clear that Lightning Source was going to be a big problem for me because they cannot use the pdf files I've already created. I would have to use pdf files that fit one of their specific templates. What I've seen of the templates (via the copy of Tom Walker's book that I bought), I don't like them. And, using such a template would require me to re-do the Index.
Reading through more of the reader comments, I found another that hit home:
After more than 28 years in the book publishing world (as a literary agent for 300+ books, as an editor of 100+ books, and as an author), here’s what I recommend to the vast majority of book authors: Use Amazon’s CreateSpace publishing program. It’s fast, easy, virtually free, and leaves you 100% in control of your books now and in the future. Then again, I recommend Lightning Source to prolific and entrepreneurial-minded authors.
That seemed to answer my question #4.
So, I made a decision: I'll be doing the printing of my book via Create Space.
Back on August 19 in my (A) comment on my web site I wrote:
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've met the deadline. I don't have any quotes, but the situation has changed and I won't be using any regular printing company. I'll be using print-on-demand company - Create Space. (And I still have Lulu as a backup if I run into major problems at Create Space.)
Yesterday, I signed up to use Create Space, and I started entering the information they need to print the book. Everything went smoothly until it came time to upload the pdf file(s). Then I learned that the interior of the book must be one big pdf file. So, I had to figure out a way to do that. Right now, I don't have the ability to create pdf files that are larger than 10 megabytes, and my book is about 60 megabytes. Adobe Acrobat can do it, but it costs $299, and I'd also need to replace my computer operating system.
Create Space also requires that the fonts be "embedded." After doing some research, I found that the fonts are already embedded in my pdf files. Whew!
I started thinking about using someone else's computer to combine pdf files. But they'd have to have Adobe Acrobat. Then, a light bulb clicked on over my head, and I went over to a couple of my local office supply stores. I asked them if they could combine pdf files for me. The first store said they didn't have that capability, but the second store said it would be no problem. When I asked how much it would cost me, and the answer was: "25 cents." That seems to be a much better idea than spending $299 for Adobe Acrobat. I just need to bring them a flash drive with the files I want to combine, and they'll do the combining for me in a couple minutes.
But, I don't yet have the Library of Congress Control Number that goes on the page after the title page. So, I've got a few things to do before I'll be ready. I should be ready by Wednesday or Thursday.
I also can't complete the cover. I need to figure out the retail price for the book (which I can't do until after Create Space has accepted the pdf files for the text and they tell me how much it will cost to print copies); I need to know how thick the book is, because the width of the spine is part of the book cover design; and I need to get the UPC bar (scanner) code. (It's a simple chore that can be done in minutes and costs only $10, but first you need to know the book's retail price, since that's part of the code.)
There are still a lot of possibilities for other problems. When I create the pdf file for the cover one way (in native mode) using Corel Draw, all the fonts end up being wildly different for some unknown reason. When I do it another way (as a picture file), it seems like the color black isn't as black as it should be.
I'm not going to make the book available to the general public until after it's certain that no agents and regular publishers are interested, and that there are no 11th anniversary surprises. So, I've still got at least a couple weeks to figure things out.
There's still a lot of work to do, but the end seems to be in sight.
& Changes: Sunday, September 30, 2012, thru Saturday, October 6,
October 5, 2012 - Hmm. I just received another rejection email from a literary agent. It's from an agent I queried back on August 1. So, it took him about 65 days to respond. It's a lengthy form-letter response, but this sentence is probably the key:
If you queried about a nonfiction project, the most likely reason we decided not to take it on was because as an author, your platform isn't big enough yet.
I've seen the term "platform" in at least one other rejection email. Looking it up, I found a web site HERE which explains the term in detail. Basically, the agent is saying, (1) I'm not known well enough, (2) I may not have the right credentials to write such a book, (3) I don't have the right connections to promote the book, and/or (4) I don't have an established target audience of a known size.
I can't argue with the fact that I don't have a very big "platform." There aren't tens of thousands of people out there waiting breathlessly for me to get a new book into print. And, that is why I'm almost certainly going to have to self-publish the book.
October 4, 2012 - It's still mostly off topic, but I finished watching the DVDs for Season 1 of "Homeland" last night. It's easy to understand why it won all those Emmy awards, but I still found a few things about it that were just too unbelievable for me -- particularly the "romance." I can't say more without being a "spoiler," but I also didn't like the motivation driving the male lead. Having Americans commit a fictional atrocity so that the male lead in a TV show can be motivated to become a terrorist in a work of fiction is just something I would have done without if I'd have written the show.
Was it worth the $29.96 I paid for it at WalMart? Probably. Will I pay that much to watch Season 2 next when it comes out on DVD next year? Probably not.
While watching the documentary about making Season 1, I was surprised to see the first page of anthrax document RMR-1029 in one shot. It has absolutely nothing to do with the show. They must have used it because it looks like something important and official.
On the other hand, the interest in "Homeland" could spur sales for a new book about the anthrax attacks of 2001. My new book is about a long investigation, and it looks like "Homeland" is going to run for years before they finally catch the bad guy.
Also, FWIW, I bought a copy of "Path to Paradise" from DeepDiscountDVD.com the other day. It's on sale there for $6.30. Watching it on my 46-inch flat screen was definitely a lot better than watching it from YouTube on my computer. And, it's a real curiosity piece, since it was made in 1997 and almost seems to predict 9/11. It's about the World Trade Center bombing of 1993. The final shot is of the Twin Towers as the characters talk about how terrorists might try again to knock the buildings down.
"Homeland" and "Path to Paradise" are both stories where federal investigators have to put clues together to figure out what terrorists are up to. "Path to Paradise" talks a lot about 20/20 hindsight. Both are about the difficulties in trying to persuade upper management that there's something dangerous going on when all the clues are so vague and open to multiple interpretations. I like those kinds of stories - real and fictional.
October 3, 2012 - Oops. I totally forgot about the News & Documentary Emmy Awards which were given out on Monday night. Checking the Academy's web site, I see that the error-filled PBS Frontline program "The Anthrax Files" did NOT win in its category. Good. The winner was the PBS POV program "Enemies of the People."
October 2, 2012 - Groan! I just stumbled across a new problem. I tried using CutePDF Editor to merge together all the pdf files for my book to create one HUGE pdf file, which is the way a printing company would want it. I found that CutePDF can't combine more than 10 megabytes into one file. That means I can't reduce the number of pdf files for my book to less than 6. I could combine them all with Adobe Acrobat, of course, but that involves a whole different set of problems with my outdated software.
The printing company could probably combine the 6 pdf files for me. And, since it's only 6 files, they might not even charge me. (The printing company I used for my 2005 book charged me $40 to combine about 30 pdf files into one.)
Yesterday, I thought I'd check with some local printers to see if any can print books and give me a cost quote for printing 300 copies of my book. As I went through the Yellow Pages, I noticed three ads for a company called Dorrance Publishing. Checking them out on the Internet, I found nothing but negative report after negative report. Even their section in Wikipedia seems very negative.
BUT, while doing the research, I found information about two other companies, Create Space and Lightning Source. And Lulu, was also mentioned. I remembered that the authors of the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel Report had used Lulu. Some of what I read seemed too good to be true. There has to be a "catch" somewhere. I'm not sure how to describe Lightning Source, but Create Space and Lulu are print-on-demand companies like iUniverse. Yet, their ads also indicate that they are all very different from one another. Create Space is owned by Amazon.com. Lightning Source is owned by the Ingram Content Group.
What I was reading reminded me of an old saying: A fool asks the wise for advice, but the wise ask the experienced.
The Internet has lots and lots of people discussing their experiences publishing books via Create Space, Lightning Source and Lulu. So, I'm going to have to spend some time studying those three companies and analyzing the experiences people have had with them to see if there's something there that I should use.
September 30, 2012 (B) - Yesterday, another little mystery appeared in my web site logs. Starting at 3:31 a.m., people visiting "The Rogan Board," which appears to be Joe Rogan's blog, started accessing the Ivins Overtime Hrs in B3 graph that is at the top of my web site. That means the host of the TV reality show Fear Factor is showing my graph of Ivins' overtime hours on his members-only blog for some reason. However, although there were 244 accesses from 244 different people yesterday, they don't show up in my web site statistics as actual "visits," nor do they have any other kind of adverse effect that I can see. I'm curious as to what it's all about, but, at the moment, I don't see any easy way to figure out why Joe Rogan is using that graph on his blog.
September 30, 2012 (A) - Last week, things were once again very quiet. I haven't had anyone post to my interactive blog since September 16. And during the past week I received no emails about the anthrax attacks of 2001. Nor did I see any news articles or any 11th anniversary articles on the subject.
There are continuing indications that an arrest in the Syracuse hoax letter case is imminent, but there's no way to tell with any certainty if the person reporting on the indications knows what he's talking about when he wrote this yesterday:
It appears that there’s going to be an arrest shortly in the Syracuse anthrax hoax letters matter and it won’t come soon enough.
I also don't know where "DXer" gets his information when he writes things like this:
Now the Syracuse FBI suggests a profile in which perhaps the sender of the letter experiences auditory hallucinations. The profile only refers to repeated contact with the mental health system but perhaps auditory hallucinations were involved.I haven't seen anything in the news, nor can I find anything on-line about "auditory hallucinations." But, maybe it's was only on the local radio or TV news in Syracuse. "DXer," who posted those comments, lives in Syracuse. "Auditory hallucinations" are, of course, a symptom of paranoid schizophrenia. That fits the profile.
I hope "Dxer" is right. I'm very curious about those particular hoax letters. They certainly aren't connected to the anthrax attacks of 2001, but they are so unusual, and there is so much information about them that has been made public (and so much that hasn't), that I cannot help but wonder what all the pieces are and how all the pieces fit together.
Hopefully, this won't be another case like the Dallas hoax letters where there was a burst of news in May and then nothing more ever happened (as far as I know).
On Monday of last week, I looked through the list of literary agents I hadn't yet queried, and I found only 4 left that seemed worthwhile. So, I sent query emails to those 4 (Group A). Then I looked through a list of agents I'd tried back in 2004, and I found one more that seemed worth trying (Group B). So, I sent him a query email. Then I went to the list of agents I'd tried back in April, and I queried 5 different agents at large agencies I tried back then (Group C). Lastly, I queried 4 agents whom I had queried back in April, but who didn't respond (Group D) back then. So, on Monday I sent out 14 query emails in total. They should be the last of my queries.
Before the end of the day on Monday, I received 2 rejection emails; 1 from group C and 1 from Group D.
The reponse from the agent in Group C:
Thank you for thinking of me, but I am not a good fit for this.
The reponse from the agent in Group D:
Thank you for your query. We regret that your project does not appear to be suitable for our list. Please bear in mind that every agency has different criteria for selection. We wish you success in finding the right agent and publisher for your work.
That same Monday, I received back my stamped-self-addressed-envelope from the book publishing company Farrar, Straus & Giroux with a form letter rejection slip enclosed. The letter said,
Thank you for writing to us about the possibility of having your book published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. We appreciate your having thought of us but regret to say we don't feel your work is quite right for our list. We wish you the best of luck finding a home for it elsewhere.
The next day, I received 2 more agent rejections; 1 from Group A and 1 from Group C.
The response from the agent in Group A:
Thank you for your email. I read the sample with great interest, but I’m sorry to say it didn’t stand out for me in the end. Considering how competitive the marketplace is and how enthusiastically an agent needs to promote a new author, I've decided to pass, but I appreciated the opportunity to consider your work.
The response from the agent in Group C:
Thank you for your recent query regarding representation. Having considered it, we've concluded that [redacted name of agency] is not going to be the right fit for your project but of course wish you all the best.
And yesterday morning, I found another response from Group C in my email inbox:
Thank you for your email. We appreciate the opportunity to consider your work for possible representation, but we are afraid we have decided to pass. Moreover, because of the large number of queries we receive, we apologize that we cannot respond in a more personal manner. Of course this is only one response, and tastes vary widely among agents. We wish you the best of luck finding the right home for your work.
So, 9 of the 14 agents I queried on Monday haven't yet responded. Nor did I get any more responses from the agents I tried earlier in September and in August.
Meanwhile, I finished my first effort at building the Index for my book. It's only 11 pages long (2 columns per page). Willman's is 22 pages. Jeanne Guillemin's is 19 pages. Hopefully, that means my book is more focused. I still need to go through it to see if I can add more sub-entries about Bruce Ivins. I tended to skip over him when building the index, since he's mentioned on nearly every page in about 70 percent of the book, and it didn't seem worthwhile to just list a long string of page numbers.
I still have the "About the Author" section to write. Such things usually consist of only 1 page, but mine might stretch to 2 pages. That will mean my book will be 390 or 391 pages long. Knowing the final size of the book will now allow me to get quotes on how much it would cost to print 300 copies.
I still have to do the cover art. And there's still a possiblity that printing companies can't work with my pdf files for some reason.
And, of course, once I know how much it will cost me to print 300 copies, I'll have to do a Cost-Benefit Analysis to determine if I should self-publish via a printing company or go with a print-on-demand outfit like iUniverse.
Or maybe I'll just curl up on an easy chair in front of my TV, eat ice cream and watch movies, "Homeland" and "Breaking Bad" all day for a few weeks. Sometimes, that seems like the best idea.
& Changes: Sunday, September 23, 2012, thru Saturday, September 29,
September 29, 2012 - Grumble grumble! Still off-topic: I just went over to Wal-Mart to buy coffee creamer and strawberries. While there, I took my usual stroll through their DVD section. I bought Season 1 of "Homeland" for $29.96 and Season 1 of "Breaking Bad" for $14.96. Because of all the Emmys "Homeland" recently won, and because the subject matter (a CIA agent vs the bad guys) is generally of interest to me, I couldn't resist. I don't know when I'll have the time to watch either show, but I'll probably manage to start on "Homeland" sometime next week. I have no idea when I'll start on "Breaking Bad." Probably not until after watching all of "Homeland." The Colbert Report Thursday evening had an interview with Vince Gilligan, the creator of "Breaking Bad," and they made it seem like a terrific show. The audience on The Colbert Report usually likes what I like. Hopefully, this will be another such situation.
September 28, 2012 - This is again off-topic, but I just received an email with a link to Judith Miller's comments about "Homeland," the Showtime cable network's drama series which just won a pile of Emmy awards, sweeping the top awards for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Dramatic Series.
It looks like it could be my type of show, except for the fact that it appears to be one story that goes on season after season. So, from my point of view, it's a soap opera. It's being compared to "24." I enjoyed the first season of "24," but the novelty wore off during in the second or third season, and I stopped watching. I realized I was just being manipulated into tuning in week after week to see what happens next. I much prefer TV programs that are complete stories in one episode, although it's totally okay for the main characters to have continuing personal problems or issues that go on and on.
As I did with "Mad Men," I'll probably wait until I can buy Season 1 of "Homeland" on DVD for a reasonable price, and then I'll see what the fuss is all about and whether it's something I want to continue to watch. (I didn't buy any more seasons of "Mad Men.")
Meanwhile, a new TV show on CBS called "Elementary" has perked my interest. The first show aired last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's the adventures of Sherlock Holmes in present-day New York City where he works as a consultant to the NYPD. Sherlock is played by Jonny Lee Miller, who I really liked in the short-lived TV series "Eli Stone." Dr. Joan Watson is well played by Lucy Liu. I commented in the past about a very enjoyable British series titled "Sherlock" which aired on PBS for two seasons using the same idea. Hopefully, now that the introductions and the setup are over with, future episodes of "Elementary" will be as good or better than the pilot.
If so, that will mean that all three of my top favorite TV shows are about civilian consultants with unusual observational skills who work to help police departments solve criminal cases: "The Mentalist," "Castle," and "Elementary."
September 26, 2012 - This is totally off-topic, but there's a very cool picture on NASA's web site showing the space shuttle Endeavor being transported atop a Boeing 747 over Los Angeles . Click HERE to see it. You can then click on the picture to enlarge it.
September 23, 2012 - Someone just advised me of a FOX News story from September 16 about the Syracuse hoax anthrax letters. The FOX news reporters make it clear that they believe the FBI knows who sent the letters but need more proof to make an arrest. FOX refers to it as "a cold case heating up." But, I haven't seen any further news.
The Prime Time Emmy Awards are being presented tonight. However, the program does not include any News & Documentary Emmy Awards. Here's what the Academy's web site says about those awards:
The News & Documentary Emmy® Awards will be presented on Monday, October 1 at a ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, located in the Time Warner Center in New York City.
So, we've got another week to wait to see if the biased, error-filled PBS Frontline program "The Anthrax Files" will win in its category.
I sent out 5 query letters to literary agents on Monday the 17th, and during the past week I received no responses from any of them nor from any previous query letters. That's somewhat unusual. From a group of five queries, I would expect that at least one would send a rejection letter within a few days. But, there's been nothing. I've received no responses from the two publishers I queried on August 27, either. (The response rate to the query letters I sent out in April and May was 60%.)
I'll send out the "final" batch of agent queries starting tomorrow. I've got 6 agents left on the list I compiled months ago, plus I might again try a few of the agents who didn't respond to the query letters I sent out in April and May.
I keep wondering if the fact that we're nearing the 11th anniversary of the anthrax attacks of 2001 might be the reason agents aren't responding. Are they waiting to see if there's something new about the case on its anniversary? But, when is its anniversary? Is it on October 5, when the first victim died? Or is it on October 12 when the first letter was found? Or is it just sometime in October? It definitely wasn't on September 18 when the first letters were mailed.
Meanwhile, I'm continuing to work on the index for my book. I'm through Chapter 23.
In the discussion I had with the guy at iUniverse on Sept. 19, he told me they typically create the indexes for their books. I asked him, "You mean you create the index with some kind of computer program?" He responded that that was what they did.
Looking around on the Internet, I found a YouTube video about "How to Build an Index with Word 2007." I shudder to think what the results would be if such a computer program created the index for my book. It's even hard to imagine what the results would be if the index was created by some person who knows nothing about the subject looking at a computer screen and picking what words to index and what words to ignore. Bruce Ivins is probably mentioned on over 60 percent of the pages. So, would the index entry for "Ivins, Bruce Edwards" just consist of a long list of page numbers? Like this:
Ivins, Bruce Edwards, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26,
27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77
The example in the YouTube video doesn't even show the computer program grouping pages like so:
Ivins, Bruce Edwards, 1-12, 15-20, 26-31, 33-72, 74-77
I could be mistaken, but I don't see any way that a computer program (or even a person who is not very familiar with the case) could create the index the way I'm doing it:
Ivins, Bruce Edwards,
academic achievements of, 6
anthrax expertise with, 20, 26, 68, 71
birth of, 7
bomb making plans by, 1, 33-39, 54, 56
childhood and adolescence of, 7
criminal acts by, 1-2, 3, 8-9, 15-16
Daschle letter analyzed by, 101-104
And, if I mention the name "Pat," how will a computer program know if it's a reference to Pat Worsham or Pat Fellows? And who is "he" or "she" on the page after where the person's name is mentioned? A human will know from the context. With the computer program, you pick the word (or name) the first time you see it, and the computer goes through the rest of the book to build the index of matching words.
Then there are all the words which are very arbitrary as to whether to include them in the index or not. I decided to include names of cities mentioned in the book. But, I'll probably change my mind about that, since there are a lot of cities mentioned that really have nothing to do with the case. I did not create index entries for the DNA chemicals, Phenylalanine, Asparagine and Tyrosine, because I just couldn't imagine anyone looking them up in the index. But, would someone at iUniverse create entries for them?
While going through the book to create the index, I also noticed that I didn't always italicize the names of newspapers. I haven't decided if I should go back through the book to make everything consistent or not. Would anyone really care? And I didn't always italicize the word "the" in The New York Times? Should I go back and correct that, too? Since "The" is part of the newspaper's name, it would technically be more correct to write, "He wrote a The New York Times article" than "He wrote a New York Times article." But, in this case, I think clarity is more important than accuracy.
I also learned that the tabloid Bob Stevens worked for was called "Sun." He worked for the Sun. The tabloid named "The Sun" is a British tabloid, and if you work for it, you work for The Sun. And sometimes I italicized the name "Sun," and sometimes I didn't.
It's tedious work, and I don't think I'd ever have the time and patience to get everything perfect.
I keep reminding myself that I had a problem finding a reference to al Qaeda in Jeanne Guillemin's book "American Anthrax." A book review mentioned her comments about an al Qaeda lab in Kandahar, but I couldn't find it in the book. It turned out that the mention of al Qaeda on page 194 isn't in her index. Neither is Kandahar. Rockville, Md., is mentioned on page 145, but it's not in the index. Neither is Porton Down, which also mentioned on page 145.
Opening David Willman's book to a random place (pages 208-209), I see the "FBI" mentioned on both pages. But the index entry for "Federal Bureau of Investigation" doesn't show anything on page 208 or 209.
So, creating an index is a task for human beings and their individual preferences, in spite of our tendency to make mistakes. You just have to keep slogging through it and do your best.
I don't even want to think about having to do it all over again if a publisher decides to publish their edited version of my book on a different page size ... or if a printing company cannot work with my pdf files, and I need to create different ones.
Last week I also verified that the images in my book which came from science articles written by scientists at Dugway Proving Grounds and images from the CDC web site were okay to use without risk of copyrights violations. They're in the public domain. I should have checked on that long ago, but, luckily, there were no surprises.
I keep hoping that there will be some breaking news about the Syracuse hoax letters or that McClatchy newspapers will print some screwball, controversial article about the anthrax attacks of 2001 on its anniversary. I could use a break from index-building.
& Changes: Sunday, September 16, 2012, thru Saturday, September 22,
September 22, 2012 - Someone just brought to my attention a talk Pulitzer Prize winning author Laurie Garret gave at the Harvard School of Health a couple weeks ago. There's an article about it on MedicalXpress.com. This paragraph is worth mentioning:
The U.S. anthrax attacks that followed 9/11 brought the potential of bioterror and the need for biosecurity to the forefront, Garrett said. They also highlighted the inadequacy of microbial forensics, the techniques that allow the tracking of specific microbes. She disputed the FBI's conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for those attacks and said that the evidence that might link them to al-Qaida was not fully pursued.
The U.S. anthrax attacks that followed 9/11 brought the potential of bioterror and the need for biosecurity to the forefront, Garrett said. They also highlighted the inadequacy of microbial forensics, the techniques that allow tracking of specific microbes. She disputed the FBI's conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for those attacks and said that evidence that might link them to al-Qaida was not fully pursued.
Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-ongoing-health-issues-opportunities.html#jCp
There's nothing in the article indicating that anyone at Harvard questioned her beliefs.
The U.S. anthrax attacks that followed 9/11 brought the potential of bioterror and the need for biosecurity to the forefront, Garrett said. They also highlighted the inadequacy of microbial forensics, the techniques that allow tracking of specific microbes. She disputed the FBI's conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for those attacks and said that evidence that might link them to al-Qaida was not fully pursued.
Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-ongoing-health-issues-opportunities.html#jCp
The U.S. anthrax attacks that followed 9/11 brought the potential of bioterror and the need for biosecurity to the forefront, Garrett said. They also highlighted the inadequacy of microbial forensics, the techniques that allow tracking of specific microbes. She disputed the FBI's conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for those attacks and said that evidence that might link them to al-Qaida was not fully pursued.
Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-ongoing-health-issues-opportunities.html#jCp
September 21, 2012 - I just remembered something vaguely related to the "all seeing eye" in the Syracuse hoax anthrax letters (see my Sept. 15 comment). When I worked in downtown Chicago many years ago, I walked past the offices of the Pinkerton Detective Agency almost every weekday. (The company was formed in 1850.) It was a "storefront" office, and on the big plate glass window was their logo:
September 20, 2012 - Wow! Building the index for my book is tedious work. I need to take a break, so I might as well mention something that is way off topic: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had had me rolling on the floor with laughter all week. Their comments about Governor Romney's "47 percent" (which includes me) who would never support conservative Republicans were funny enough, but the best (and scariest) laugh all week may have come from Rick Santorum telling "a group of social conservatives ... that the country's 'smart people' will never be on their side." The Washington Post has the full quote:
The eye in the Syracuse hoax letters was almost certain meant to represent something else, but I felt I should mention this just to show that the eye can represent lots of different things. BTW, they're now called "Pinkerton Government Services." Here's what their logo looks like today:
Checking a web site about corporate logos which include an eye, I was reminded that CBS also uses an eye as their logo. So, there's material to fit every kind of theory.
“We will never have the elite, smart people on our side, because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do,” said Santorum, adding, “So our colleges and universities, they’re not going to be on our side. The conservative movement will always be – and that’s why we founded Patriot Voices – the basic premise of America and American values will always be sustained through two institutions, the church and the family.”
Is Santorum really against having smart people in charge? Or is he just too dumb to understand what he's saying? Back during the primaries, I wrote that I considered the Republican candidates to be dumb, dumber and dumberer. An hypothesis now proved.
September 19, 2012 - I literally lost some sleep over my "pdf problem" last night (see my Sept. 18 comment). I awoke at 4 a.m. realizing that I didn't really know IF I have a problem. And, the more I thought about it before falling asleep again an hour and a half later, the more I realized that the fact that my version of WordPerfect produces a kind of non-searchable pdf that I've never encountered before doesn't mean that a printing company can't use the pdfs. The pdf files print okay on my computer printer. And, there are a lot of pdf files around that aren't searchable because they are "image-type" pdfs.
The FBI case files (click HERE for an example) are non-searchable "image-type" pdf files. They're basically just pictures of printed pages.
Click HERE to view the searchable pdf file of Chapter 15 of my 2005 book.
To create a non-searchable pdf for explanation purposes, I took the first three pages of the WORD version of Chapter 15 of my 2005 book and used WordPerfect to create HERE an example of the kind of non-searchable pdf files I've been creating for my new book. In that example, when I do a search for the word "if," the "matches" it finds are "We," "USAMRIID," "delivered," "bioterrorist," "containing," and the first quote mark around "submarine." And, I get the same "matches" every time.
This whole problem stems from the fact that the software I used to create my 2005 book pdf files no longer works, and from the fact that I can't get the free version of CutePDF to produce high-quality pdf files of the right size, and from the fact that I can't buy Adobe Acrobat and do things right without first upgrading to a more current operating system, which will require re-installing all of my purchased software. So, my "problem" really is that I don't buy and install any software upgrades until I'm forced to.
I'm going to see if I can get a printing company to verify that the non-searchable pdfs are acceptable for professional printing. Meanwhile, I'll just continue constructing the index for the 6x9 version of the book.
)&^*&$@%%#!!! I just checked the requirements for publishing via iUniverse and in their FAQ page they say:
Which word processing formats do you accept?
You must use one of the following word processing programs when submitting your manuscript:
Note: Presently, we do not accept Quark or PageMaker files.I'm currently using Word 2003, which they do not accept. And, any conversion would likely screw up the page numbers in the index. I called them and asked them some questions. It appears that it's too early for me to make a decision. I'll have to finish the index first. They can use pdf files, but the files have to be according to their specs. And, they want me to be closer to signing a contract before they'll provide the specs.
September 18, 2012 - Uh oh. I just tried to do a search through one of my book pdf files for the word "bomb," and the search didn't work even though I knew the word was used in the chapter many times. To check, I looked for the word "Ivins" in Chapter 4, which has it 4 times on the first page. It pointed to the words "Return," "the," "urges," "to," and "Bruce." I tried other words in other chapters, and I got the same results. The searches didn't find words that were definitely there, the searches found other words instead. I then tried doing searches through other pdf files that I'd downloaded over the years, and those searches worked just fine. Then I created a pdf file from Chapter 6 via CutePDF and tried searching through it for words. No problems. So, it appears there's something seriously wrong with all of the pdf files I created via WordPerfect. And, at the moment I have no clue was to what to do about it. It brings my work to a standstill. I can't continue until I figure out the best way to solve the problem.
September 16, 2012 - Things are quiet ... almost too quiet. There's no further news about the Syracuse hoax letters. There were no posts to my blog this morning. There were no emails in my inbox this morning. Because the 11th anniversary of the anthrax attacks of 2001 is approaching, and because of a vague comment an Anthrax Truther made on Lew Weinstein's blog, I was half expecting to see some major news story about the anthrax attacks of 2001 in today's newspapers. But, there's nothing.
I emailed a query letter to a literary agent on Monday the 10th, and I emailed two more the next day. I've received no replies so far. Nor did I receive any replies last week to the previous query letters I sent to agents and publishers.
So, tomorrow I'll probably send out about 5 more query letters. My Oct. 8 deadline is rapidly approaching.
I'm currently working on the index for my book. Since the index involves page numbers, it's only valid for the 6x9 version that I'll use for self-publishing. There's no need to build an index for the manuscript version, since if the book is published by a regular publisher, there'll undoubtedly be a lot of changes made to the text first. The index has to be created after the writing and editing of the text is finished.
Building the index is very tedious work. But, I can probably do at least 3 or 4 chapters a day if I don't get sidetracked into other things.
Last week, I got sidetracked by the Syracuse hoax letters and by the threat I received via email from "DXer." I also did some arguing on my interactive blog. As a result, I only got through 5 chapters all week.
In one discussion on my blog, an Anthrax truther made the following statement of his beliefs:
ALL law enforcement agencies are more or less quasi-military in structure (units, commanders, ranks, frequently uniforms etc.) and culture.
I tried to point out to him that he's just talking about structure. Virtually any large organization will have a structure that includes a chief or president, department heads, supervisors and clerks, and may even have people in uniform (like waiters or delivery men or guards). Yet, they are nothing like the military. And, their "culture" is nothing like a "military culture."
The Anthrax Truther probably meant that all large organizations have some people who just do as they are told, a few people who are totally incompetent, and a vast number of people who just putting in their hours to make a living. True enough. But, that doesn't mean that the Anthrax Truther is right in his beliefs and all the FBI agents who worked on the Amerithrax investigation were just mindlessly doing what some boss told them. That's just a belief by Anthrax Truthers to justify why the FBI didn't find the "right" culprit the way each Anthrax Truther believes he or she did.
Whenever I point out where the Anthrax Truther is wrong, he just changes the subject ... or as he calls it "moving on."
Here's a snippet from one exchange where the Anthrax Truther wrote for the 40th or 50th time about his beliefs regarding evidence:
just give us the EVIDENCE that Ivins did any drying in August to October of 2001. (you can't because there is none; if there were such evidence, it would have been in the FINAL REPORT)
Give us the EVIDENCE that Ivins drove (twice!) to Princeton in September/October 2001 (you can't because there is none; if there were such evidence, it would have been in the FINAL REPORT)
And I replied,
Ivins had the means, motive and opportunity to dry the spores in his lab. OTHER FACTS show he was the anthrax mailer (connections to the crime scene, access to the "murder weapon,"his unexplained hours at night and on weekends in his lab, his history of plotting crimes, his lack of an alibi, the code in the media letter, his non-denial denials, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.) Therefore, the EVIDENCE says that Ivins [air] dried the spores in his lab, and the EVIDENCE says that Ivins drove to Princeton to mail the letters, because that was necessary to commit the crime that the OTHER EVIDENCE says he committed.
The Anthrax Truther, of course, merely stopped posting for the rest of the day, and when he started up the next day, it was on a different subject. I.e., he'd "moved on." He'll probably argue the same thing again in a few days. But, when he does, I'll have a very nicely written paragraph to copy and paste as a response. However, next time I might add a sentence or two. I keep thinking I should have written something about how there is no evidence which says that Ivins could NOT have air-dried the attack spores in his lab or could NOT have driven twice to New Jersey. All the facts say he could and did.
Groan! I just realized I should have included an important illustration in my book. The illustration belongs in Chapter 3 on page 23. Fortunately, the last page in Chapter 3 currently has only 5 lines of print, so adding the illustration won't force me to renumber any pages after Chapter 3. But, I'll have to re-number all illustrations after #4. That means modifications to about 25 pages. Mumble mumble. I'll really be happy when the book is done and in print.
& Changes: Sunday, September 9, 2012, thru Saturday, September 15,
September 15, 2012 - I just happened to watch the movie "National Treasure" last night. The Masonic "all-seeing eye" (a.k.a. "The Eye of Providence") is an important part of that movie, since the movie is all about a massive conspiracy that has supposedly been in operation for over a thousand years. Examples of the "all-seeing eye" are on American currency and many other places.
And, of course, an "all-seeing eye" was also drawn in the Syracuse hoax anthrax letters:
In the first Syracuse Post-Standard article about the Syracuse hoax anthrax letters, this was said about the "all-seeing eye":
Some of the letters include a hand-drawn eyeball, which might be a reference to a specific Lovecraft character, Cthulhu, [FBI agent Dan] Capone said. It’s a gigantic creature that lives silently under the ocean, waiting for a cosmic time to rise up. In one story, Cthulhu’s described as having tentacles coming out of his face and one all-seeing eye.
Watching the movie "National Treasure" made me realize that the eye drawn in the letters probably isn't copied from H.P. Lovecraft's book The Watchers Out Of Time, nor does it directly relate to "Cthulhu," but, instead, both the eye in the book and the eye in the hoax letters probably represent the Masonic "all seeing eye" which is such a favorite of conspiracy theorists and those who worry about "Big Brother" watching them. I think the eye is most likely is meant to represent the "all-seeing eye" of the letter writer as he watches the companies and people who were sent the hoax letters.
It's just a theory. Only the Syracuse letter-writer knows for sure. And, if I saw more of the context surrounding the drawing of the "all-seeing eye" in the letters, I might change my mind. But, when someone sends out threatening hoax letters, he's usually telling the addressees that he has been watching them. In the Syracuse case, the symbol of the "all-seeing eye" says he'll be keeping an eye on them in the future, too. So, he's telling the hoax letter recipients they need to change their ways or he'll strike again.
September 12, 2012 (B) - "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "Dxer") just sent me another email. This one said only
the basis, Ed, is libel
So, what does that mean? It undoubtedly relates to my (C) comment on Sept. 10th. He's either threatening to sue me for libel if I say anything derogatory about him in my new book (my book doesn't even mention him), or he's threatening to persuade someone who was part of the Amerithrax investigation to sue me if I mention that person in my book. That would definitely be "malicious use of process."
Added Note: When "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer") read the above comment, he sent me another email that said only this:
Ed, your posts have been libelous for over a decade.
So, he confirms that his threat of a lawsuit regarding my book would be purely a "malicious use of process," since the book has nothing to do with my "posts."
September 12, 2012 (A) - Yesterday, the Syracuse Post-Standard printed another article about their city's anthrax hoax letter case. The new article, titled "Syracuse FBI wades through tips that could lead to fake anthrax terrorist," indicates that the FBI received a lot of tips as a result of Sunday's article in the Post-Standard.
“We hope people continue to call, hopefully sooner rather than later, but even if they don’t put two and two together for a while,” [Special Agent Dan Capone] said.
He said he’s looked at all the tips, and has been triaging them – jumping on the ones that looked the most promising first. Some of the tips have come from people knowledgeable about the late science fiction author H.P. Lovecraft, Capone said.
It would be nice if they provided more information about what kind of quotes from H.P. Lovecraft the letters contain, but I can see that might encourage a lot of nitwit copycats to send out similar letters. And, by holding back a lot of information, the FBI can more effectively sort through the tips. If some tipster says his mother's new boyfriend just sent her a letter that contains a quote from H.P. Lovecraft, the tip means more if the quote isn't identical to a quote previously printed in the Post-Standard.
In addition to sending a hoax letter to a library supplies manufacturer, and the fact that one famous quote from H.P. Lovecraft is about his love for his personal library,
I couldn't live a week without a private library - indeed, I'd part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I'd let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.the most important clue is probably the teddy bear stationery. That could relate to "Winnie The Pooh" children's books. And those cartoon-like bloody daggers in the letters are very much like what an angry child might draw -- or like what some illustrator for a scary childrens' book might draw.
But, my putting pieces together that way doesn't produce anything that the FBI could use to make an arrest and get a conviction. The FBI isn't looking for someone to make deductions for them. The FBI needs someone - probably someone living in Syracuse - to step forward with some solid evidence that is totally new.
September 10, 2012 (C) - Hmm. I just received another email threat from "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer") using his real name. The threat reads as follows:
I'm ... going to bring suit against you if you ever get a book contract you moronic asshole
His threat doesn't include stating the legal basis for such a lawsuit. So, I have to assume it would be a malicious lawsuit or "malicious use of process":
Malicious prosecution refers to filing a lawsuit for purposes of harassing the defendant when there is no genuine basis for the suit.
In some jurisdictions, the term "malicious prosecution" denotes the wrongful initiation of criminal proceedings, while the term "malicious use of process" denotes the wrongful initiation of civil proceedings.
September 10, 2012 (B) - Watching the TV clip from WSYR-TV in Syracuse at the link HERE, I noticed that they say one of the places that received Syracuse hoax letters was the Gaylord Brothers company, a manufacturer of library supplies located in Syracuse. I would think that the culprit has to be someone with a real grudge against that company.
And, reading the Post-Standard article again, I noticed this paragraph:
[FBI Special Agent Dan] Capone wouldn’t comment on whether the FBI was able to get DNA samples off the letters or envelopes. The agency does have leads, but he would not disclose them. He also wouldn’t say whether there were any suspects.
That seems to indicate that they may know who did it, but they can't prove it. They may have a guy who laughs in their face when they confront him, but without solid evidence they can't make an arrest. They need that solid evidence and/or witnesses. After all, the $10,000 reward is for "information leading to the identification, arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the subject of this investigation." It's not just for supplying a name.
September 10, 2012 (A) - Click HERE for another article about the Syracuse hoax letters I mentioned in yesterday's comment. It has a better view of one of the letters. The article also has more text from the FBI flyer, including this paragraph:
Our investigative techniques enable us to definitively rule out all innocent parties. If you have information about this case you need not be concerned about causing trouble for someone who is not involved.
Someone also sent me an email telling me how to make Google look for a misspelled word like "thouroughly," but the search still didn't find anything useful. I suspect the guy knows how to spell "thoroughly," but when he's typing it the word, he sometimes types t-h-o-u by mistake or habit (as a result of frequently writing "thought" "though" and "thousand") before backing up and changing the u to an r. But, he couldn't back up when writing by hand, so he let it go rather than erase or start over. The guy uses fairly big words, he uses uncommon words like "unavenged," and he put a hyphen in "full-scale," so he's probably well-educated.
Too bad there aren't more examples of his writing, particularly the examples where he quotes H.P. Lovecraft. Those quotes might tell more about his personality. Checking the Internet, I found a site with quotes from H.P. Lovecraft, but none of the quotes seem familiar to me. I like some of them very much, though, particularly the first one below:
I am disillusioned enough to know that no man's opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he's talking about.
Other web sites with quotes from H.P. Lovecraft can be found HERE and HERE. The eyes he draws in his letters evidently imitate the eyes that are shown at the start of every story in H.P. Lovecraft's book The Watchers Out Of Time. Examples:
To the scientist there is the joy in pursuing truth which nearly counteracts the depressing revelations of truth.
I couldn't live a week without a private library - indeed, I'd part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I'd let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.
September 9, 2012 (C) - Checking my web site logs, I found that yesterday I had another series of 5 HEAD-reads one second apart every five or ten minutes from a Russian IP address. I added the info to my page about the "Russian attacks." It's the first time they've done it since March. Still no explanations. The HEAD reads worked because they used an IP address they had never used before: 126.96.36.199. It started at 6:20 p.m and ended at 7:18 p.m., after doing 11 groups of 5 HEAD reads per group. As soon as I noticed the pattern of HEAD accesses, I blocked that IP address from my site.
September 9, 2012 (B) - This morning, when I did my regular Google search for any news stories related to the anthrax attacks of 2001, I found an interesting article from The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY. The title of the article is "A 15-year mystery in Syracuse: Who keeps sending those anthrax hoax letters?" A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the culprit. Here's the reward poster and pictures of what some of the letters look like:
The letters started appearing in 1997, four years before the real anthrax letters were sent, and there's a Post-Standard article about a letter that was opened in 1999, when the FBI suspected the letters were being sent by a teenager. Another Post-Standard article is about a hoax letter sent to a Congresswoman in 2001. Here are some paragraphs from today's article:
All of the Syracuse letters appear to be from the same person. The FBI’s profile points to a Syracuse-area man who’s at least 35 years old, has had significant contact with the mental health system and may have difficulty functioning independently.
More profiling: The man probably exhibits eccentric behavior that causes people to avoid him. He might talk of strange ideas that seem out of context and express annoyance over junk mail or fundraising efforts.and
The letter writer seems to have no clear agenda or cause. His point changes from letter to letter, [FBI Special Agent Dan] Capone said.
They include references to
AIDS, abortion rights; 9/11 conspiracy theories; religion; the Iraq and
Afghanistan wars; war crimes and atrocities; the 1993 Branch Davidian
incident in Waco, Texas; the oppression of Muslims; the degradation of
women; and home-shopping shows, the FBI said.
The FBI frequently handles anthrax hoaxes, Capone said. But he knew of no other case where it appeared the same person had sent fake anthrax over as many as 15 years.
One peculiarity stands out about the letters — many of them contain passages from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as “weird fiction.” He died in 1937.
The letters don’t name Lovecraft, but many quote passages from his stories, Capone said. The agent picked up on the connection when he plugged certain sentences or series of words from the letters into Internet searches.
The letters that were made public offer some interesting clues. The writer seems to often misspell "thoroughly" as "thouroughly," yet he has no problem with words like "Afghanistan," "atrocities," "denigrate" and "discriminate." He writes by squeezing the characters very closely together, as if imitating some kind of font. The writing is shaky and appears to have been done with the writer's "wrong hand," yet in one letter he seems to have taken the time to add serifs to his X's and sometimes to his H's and other letters, again as if copying some kind of font. He seems to use Catholic school R's most of the time and public school R's the rest of the time. And, he seems to sometimes use Teddy Bear stationary. The bloody daggers he draws look like cartoon daggers.
The Frosty font looks eerily similar to the writing in the letters:
If he was using his "wrong hand" to copy letters he'd printed out using the Frosty font, the differences between the Frosty font and what he wrote would indicate which characters represent his own handwriting. If.
I tried doing a Google search for the word "thouroughly," but Google automatically assumes I mean "thoroughly." I hoped such a search might find some web site where the guy misspelled the word that way. But, no such luck. The same with a Google image search for teddy bear stationery or a teddy bear reading a letter. There's something very 1930's or 1940's about that design.
It's an interesting puzzle. I'll have to do some thinking about it.
"DXer" posted a comment this morning to Lew Weinstein's web site acknowledging that he is from Syracuse, yet he seems to have been totally unaware of the letters.
September 9, 2012 (A) - Yesterday, I completed the text of the "final" version of my new book. That includes producing the .pdf files needed for printing by a printing company or a print-on-demand publisher. The last chapter in the 6x9 book ends on page 353, which makes the book 11 pages longer than the previous version, mainly because I put back in a lot of illustrations. The book now has 30 illustrations embedded in with the text and no separate high-gloss picture pages. The Notes & Resources section starts on page 354 and ends on page 378. I'm now working on the Index, which starts on page 379. I have no idea how many pages the Index will occupy nor how long it will take to create. All I've accomplished so far is to test formats and fonts. (David Willman's book has 5 Index columns just for "Ivins, Bruce Edwards" and all the various sub-topics related to Ivins. I could end up with more than that.)
I also realized that, if I self-publish, I'll end up with all my expenses for self-publishing on this year's tax forms, and any profits probably won't start until next year. But, that may be something else I'll just have to deal with when it happens.
I've also got another silly "problem" with fonts. Here's what the captions for a couple illustrations in the book look like in WORD, in WordPerfect and in the pdf file created by WordPerfect :
You'd think that when creating a pfd file from a WordPerfect file, the fonts would look identical. But, the pdf M in RMR looks properly slanted for an italicized letter, while the R's do not. The result is like a drunken mix of upright R's and tilted M's.
And how can the ampersands look so different when they're both supposed to be the Garamond font?
Here's what the italicized Garamond ampersand looks like using the Netscape software I use to write these comments:
&There doesn't seem to be any easy fixt for this "problem." It could require re-doing the captions for all 30 illustrations. So, I think I'll just have to let it go the way it is.
Meanwhile, I have 14 agents (one per agency) left to try on the list I created a couple months ago. The current plan is to query 3 agents this week, five the next week and 6 on the following week. I'll only try 3 this week because one of the three is a special situation, and there's some reason to believe he might be interested.
There's been no response so far to the two queries I sent to publishers on August 27, but, because of the volume of queries they get, I'll be lucky if they respond before the end of September.
Statistically, at least one of the four agents I tried in August who hasn't yet responded, should respond - even if it is a negative response.
I just noticed that the book I mentioned on Friday, "500 Days" by Kurt Eichenwald, won't officially be released until September 11, the day after tomorrow, which is the 11th anniversary of 9/11. That makes me wonder what other books and news stories will be published during the next month which relate to the anthrax attacks of 2001. It's also interesting to read all the comments attached to Dina Temple-Raston's review of Eichenwald's book. There are a lot of angry people in the world of the Internet, and they get angry over the dumbest things. One commenter complained that Temple-Raston used the word "niggling," saying, "This word and why it came about is inappropriate for the Washington Post. " But, two others pointed out that the word's origins have nothing to do with whatever the first commenter was upset about.
On my interactive blog, the Anthrax Truther who was arguing because I don't agree with what he believes is required to "establish" motive in a criminal case, seems to have given up. And "Anonymous" may have attempted to trick me into violating copyrights by using other names to post long quotes from a Huffington Post article. He's also using different names to ask questions, including a question about why I don't think his posts as "DXer" have any significance. Answer: because he can't show they're relevant.
He attempted to post other comments to my interactive blog this morning. He also sent me email versions of what he tried to post. In both versions he complained that I won't engage him in debate on this subject. I've tried endlessly to engage him in a debate about the facts, but he only wants to argue his opinion versus my opinion. In the eleven years we've been arguing, opinions have never resolved anything.
& Changes: Saturday, September 1, 2012, thru Saturday, September 8,
September 8, 2012 - Yesterday, someone brought to my attention an HBO movie from 1997 titled "Path to Paradise - The Untold Story of the World Trade Center Bombing." I checked it out and found the entire movie is on YouTube.com, and you can watch it by simply clicking HERE. It's a very interesting look into how things were before 9/11, how easily terrorists could get around America then, and how difficult it was for the FBI to investigate potential terrorism when there hadn't yet been any major act of Islamic terrorism in America that agents could use as an example of what could happen.
September 7, 2012 - There were two emails in my inbox this morning. Each mentioned a published comment about the Amerithrax investigation that I hadn't seen before.
The first email contained a link to an August 31 review of Kurt Eichenwald's new book "500 Days" by Dina Temple-Raston in The Washington Post. Temple-Raston found Eichenwald's book to be generally excellent, but she had "concerns" with his comments about the anthrax attacks of 2001:
Eichenwald’s narrative is mostly even-handed, but I had some concerns. He presents the anthrax-mailing case, for example, as if it were without controversy, portraying Army researcher Bruce Ivins as a deranged man and the unequivocal killer. But Ivins committed suicide before he was charged with any crime, and plenty of people think there is enough wiggle room in the FBI’s circumstantial case against him to provide the benefit of the doubt. For Eichenwald (and the FBI), however, that case is closed.
But that is a niggling detail when one considers the expanse of the book.
So, once again we apear to have a supposedly intelligent person arguing a totally idiotic premise: if someone commits suicide or dies before he can be brought to trial, he should be given the "benefit of the doubt" and be presumed innocent. Good examples would undoubtedly be Adolph Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and Lee Harvy Oswald. It appears that the facts do not make any difference if "plenty of people" have doubts.
The other email I received this morning was from "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "Dxer") in which he mentioned a short paragraph from an article titled "Duties and Difficulties of Investigating and Prosecuting Biocrimes" by Lisa Danley in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of Biosecurity, Biosafety and Biodefense Law. Here's the paragraph:
In 2010 the FBI closed the Amerithrax investigation. After a decade of investigation, the FBI failed to conclusively attribute the Amerithrax attacks to a perpetrator. Despite the clearly intensive investigation, there have been no convictions in connection with the attacks.
Whaaa? What is she saying? It appears to be the same thing as Temple-Raston wrote, that without a trial, there can be no conclusive evidence of a person's guilt.
That's absurd! But, it's clearly the way a lot of well-meaning people think. They'll be going into fits and seizures if and when they read my new book. My book not only shows unequivocally how the facts prove that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer, but the book also shows how "plenty of people" were totally misled by the absolute nonsense about the case printed in the media and spouted by conspiracy theorists.
September 6, 2012 - I've been focusing on the final draft of my book, otherwise I would have done immediate research into the name Dr. Ezepchuk identified in his article (see my comment for September 3) as the person he believes was the anthrax mailer. This morning I did the research and found that Waly Samar is/was also a key person in some other people's theories. Click HERE, HERE and HERE. That may explain why the New York Times and other newspapers didn't think it was worthwhile to tell the rest of the world about Dr. Ezepchuk's theory. After all, his theory was printed in a "scientific" journal that was supposedly "peer reviewed." The fact that Dr. Ezepchuk didn't seem to care about getting his facts right, shouldn't have been a problem. But, I now see it wasn't a new theory. So, that evidently reduced its newsworthiness.
September 4, 2012 - Hmm. Wow! The Lunatic Fringe parade of Anthrax Truthers has just gotten one person longer. A recent issue (July 20, 2012) of the infamous "Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense" contains an article by Yurii V. Ezepchuk titled "The Bioterrist Attacks on America." Dr. Ezepchuk is a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Colorado, in Denver. The abstract says:
The arguments presented in this article substantiate the shortcomings regarding the search of “domestic” terrorists, indicating that agents from the Arab world were involved in the organized attacks of sending letters with anthrax spores. Since the attacks employed the use of the weaponized aerosol form of anthrax, there is evidence which demonstrates that the manufacturing of the spores was carried out in a country with capabilities of developing bacteriological weapons. Ultimately, this article presents legitimate arguments in which further investigation
Weirdly, or perhaps tellingly, the article begins with some of Dr. Ezepchuk's personal history developing an anthrax vaccine in the Soviet Union. When the anthrax attacks occurred, he attempted to get the CDC and other organizations to use his vaccine, but no one did. Dr. Ezepchuk has his own personal theories about the case, including who did it. According to Dr. Ezepchuk, the attack envelopes were filled with anthrax powder and mailed by:
Iraqi microbiologist Waly Samar (Walied Samarrai), who worked in New York but lived in New Jersey, from where the first contaminated envelopes were sent
Dr. Ezepchuk goes on to explain:
More than likely someone from overseas delivered the anthrax spores a few months before the planned terrorist attack on September 11. According to European intelligence services, it is possible that it was Atta, who visited Prague in the summer of 2001. European intelligence stated it is possible that Atta received the lyophilized anthrax spores there, sealed in ampoules or packaged in flasks on which the title of a well-known treatment preparation was labeled in order to avoid detection while clearing customs.
I am positive that the hijacker did not actually send the envelopes containing anthrax spores. This endeavor could only be accomplished by a qualified microbiologist. After the flasks containing the anthrax spores were given to Samar, he packaged the powder into the envelopes and placed the empty package in a laboratory biohazard waste bin which was removed daily to be destroyed.
Dr. Ezepchuk's paper is filled with wildly inaccurate information. He doesn't even know the source of the Ames strain. He writes:
The examination of the envelopes was conducted by highly qualified anthrax experts initially pointed to the Ames strain of anthrax microbes . This strain was derived from diseased cow in 1972 in the state of Iowa and has since been disposed of by military microbiologists at Fort Detrick in 1981.
The Ames strain, of course, originated in Texas in 1981. It was never in Iowa. And note  is David Willman's book, which says on page 94 that the strain came from Texas.
The following paragraph contains what is probably the key point of the article:
After a year of investigative work by the 9/11 Commission and the FBI, approximately 231,000 man hours were spent and the following conclusion was reached: the anthrax strains are similar to that of the system of biological defense of the U.S. Moreover, investigators hypothesized that the biological attack was achieved by one individual that did not possess the scientific knowledge, skill, and abilities of microbiology. These investigators believed that the pathogenic material could have been stolen from an American laboratory that studies and analyzes anthrax . This absurd version is obviously the consequence of complete incompetence of the investigators. The 9/11 Commission and the FBI were allowed to develop their own version as a result of American microbiologists’ silence in response to the absurdities associated with this false hypothesis .
The article doesn't mention Bruce Ivins by name. And note  is the nonsense article in Science magazine by Gary Matsumoto (which Dr. Ezepchuk spells "Matsumota.)"
Dr. Ezepchuk doesn't even seem to know how many anthrax letters there were:
From my point of view, sending anthrax to the publishing house in Boca Raton was carried out in order to divert attention from Trenton where the main distributing entity of the contaminated envelopes was located.
The third envelope containing anthrax arrived October 10th at the company Microsoft Licenses Inc. located in Reno, Nevada. The fourth letter was sent to the office of New York Governor George Pataki on October 17.
Groan. The Microsoft "anthrax letter" was just a returned check from a disgruntled customer in Malaysia that falsely tested postitive for anthrax. And there was no letter sent to Governor Pataki. It was evidently just cross-contamination. Four actual letters were recovered, but there were almost certainly seven letters in total.
This article seems to set a new record for the number of errors in what some inexplicably consider to be a "scientific journal." How could it have been "peer reviewed"? It isn't even well-edited. It doesn't even get people's names right. It seems a certainly that Dr. Ezepchuk or his employer paid the magazine to publish the article. For what purpose? All it seems to show is how totally ignorant scientists can be of the facts.
The anthrax attacks of 2001 never cease to amaze me. And, once again we see that each Anthrax Truther has his own unique theory about the case. The only thing they all agree upon is that the FBI must be wrong. And this new article by Dr. Ezepchuk shows once again that there is a desperate need for my new book which explains all the facts.
September 3, 2012 - The debate on my interactive blog caused me to do a search for "motive" in legal dictionaries, and one on-line legal dictionary has this worthwhile quote:
In determining the guilt of a criminal defendant, courts are generally not concerned with why the defendant committed the alleged crime, but whether the defendant committed the crime.
I'll definitely keep that quote in mind if the debates over Ivins' motive continue.
September 2, 2012 - The literary agent I queried on August 20 is apparently back from her vacation, and, true to her word, she did respond to my query letter with some comments she hopes will be helpful for me. Her email was in my in-box this morning. She wrote (in part):
I'm not sure this is a book. It feels like it's pretty much the website, consolidated.
I'm not sure there's new information here (which you'd need for a book).
I guess the question is, unless I was already interested in this case, why would I pick up a book about it?
So, she doesn't know what she doesn't know. And, she can't see why anyone would be interested in reading about the anthrax attacks of 2001. That's why she decided against representing the book.
I've had similar responses from agents before. If people can go to my web site for the information, why buy the book? To me, that's like asking: If I can go to the Internet and read about Abraham Lincoln, why buy a book about Abraham Lincoln? Or about any other subject? Answer: Because the book tells the story. It reads like a thriller. The Internet doesn't tell the story. It doesn't read like a thriller.
I would expect that many regular visitors to this web site would be among the first to buy the book, even though, by the agent's reasoning, they'd have no reason to buy it.
Why would others buy the book if they aren't already interested in the case? Hopefully, because it's an exciting true crime story about a very important case, it's well told, and it's filled with fascinating NEW information (new to people who do not regularly read my web site) that will generate discussion and controversy, and set off all the conspiracy theorists and True Believers like tossing a lit flare into a pile of fireworks.
But, I truly appreciate getting feedback from an agent, even if it is part of a rejection.
I'm not sure what I can do differently in my query letters to explain that this is a controversial subject, and that my book addresses a lot of the controversy head-on. My book analyzes data that no one else has publicly analyzed, and it provides new results of that analysis. Those analyses directly address and clarify the key controversies.
I sent out queries/proposals to two book publishers on Monday. I sent the email query to the "Secret Publisher" I mentioned last Sunday, and I sent a snail mail query to Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The snail mail query consisted of a 3-page letter, two articles about me, a summary of chapters, and the first 50 pages of the book, along with a cover page. It cost me $3.10 postage to mail it via First Class. They've probably got it by now, which means it's almost certainly sitting in a "slush pile" of hundreds of proposals and queries waiting for some editor to find the time to sort through them all. The email query is probably in a similar "slush pile," except that it's on a hard disk awaiting someone to open the file and look at it.
Sending queries to publishers feels very different from sending queries to agents. It's like playing the lottery, except that you don't know on what day they're going to pick the winning ticket. Sending queries to agents is more like going fishing. It's exciting when you get a nibble, but for the rest of the time it's just endless waiting, and you might have to find other things to do to keep your mind occupied.
During the coming week, I'm probably going to just wait for nibbles on the other "fishing lines" I cast weeks ago, while also waiting for the "lottery" to announce if it has picked my ticket as a winning ticket. I'll go back to "fishing" on the following week.
I've been working on the "final" version of the book, producing the .pdf files that a printer needs to print the book - if I self-publish. If I decide to go with an outfit like iUniverse.com (see my comment for August 24), they may also be able to use my .pdf files to do the printing. I'm on Chapter 25, so I'm more than half way done, except that when I finish with the final version of the text, I'll still need to create the Index. I'll also write a page "About the Author" and a short page of "Acknowledgments." Then, in theory, I'll be done, and all I'll need to do is make some final decisions about how to self-publish. The book could be on sale in November. If a regular publisher steps in and wants to publish the book, however, everything goes "back to the drawing board." An editor will want to go through the manuscript and make suggestions for changes and improvements. When I've made all the improvements and everyone is satisfied (which could take months), the book would go into the publication schedule - which could mean it won't be printed for another six months or more.
But, this week, I'll continue on with the assumption that I'll be self-publishing, either via a printing company or via a "print on demand" outfit like iUniverse.com.
The "final" 6x9-inch version of the book is currently 7 pages longer than the previous version, because I've been merging illustrations back into the text. I've been deleting an unnecessary sentence or paragraph here and there, I've been correcting typos, and I've been replacing words or phrases with better words and phrases, but I've seen nothing that requires any major change. The book really does read like a thriller, even though everyone knows the ending (the villain commits suicide before he can be put on trial).
I've also been arguing with Anthrax Truthers on my interactive blog, which shows 79 comments posted in last week's discussion thread. And my blog had 147 "pageviews" on Friday, including 88 during a single hour from 6 to 7 p.m. I think that was an all-time record, but the record was broken this morning between 6 and 7 a.m. when I got 89 "pageviews." I have no clue as to what it was all about. Here are a couple charts:
The statistics supplied by Google don't provide any meaningful clues. The statistics only show where the pageviews did NOT come from. They did NOT come from Google searches; they did NOT come from links from this web site; they did NOT come from any other web site. The only thing I can figure is that an Anthrax Truther was repeatedly checking the blog for some reason. Or it could just be a fluke of some kind.
The discussion I'm having with an Anthrax Truther on my blog was getting pretty intense. At one point he insisted that it was necessary to prove motive in a criminal case. I cited sources which said that it is NOT even necessary to discuss motive. But the Truther didn't approve of my sources, and he changed the argument to say that if motive is brought up in court, then it must be proven. More nonsense. And, as a smoke screen, he provided a link which says nothing in support of what he believes, but it does support what I've been saying. He'll probably just change the subject if he decides to continue to argue. I doubt that he'll ever admit that he had an incorrect belief.
In addition to the email from the literary agent I found in my inbox this morning, I also received a rant from "Anonymous" (as he calls himself on my blog, but in the email he provides his real name). The subject of the email is: "Ed's Star Witness," and here's the entire email message:
Ed's witness? The woman who reported the poisoning plan? Judith, who says that in 2000 she was controlled by an alien who had implanted a microchip in her butt and that she was consumed by a paranoid fear that murderous astral entities attached to her patients in her part-time counseling gig were trying to kill her. Ed may not realize it but a prosecutor would not want to go anywhere near any of this -- given that it explodes the EBAP report and accounts that rely on her as a witness. She wrote an entire book on the subject and Ed did not even bother to read it!It's a familiar rant of his. He argues it often on Lew Weinstein's web site. So, on my blog I have one Anthrax Truther arguing that there's no harm in allowing a mentally ill scientist to work with deadly pathogens in a BioSecurity Level 3 government lab, while via emails I have another Anthrax Truther arguing that any statements by a woman who wrote a book about alien visitors would invalidate everything in an entire news story or an entire book or analysis on the subject of the anthrax attacks of 2001.
In spite of what the agent wrote me this morning, I think there are lots of people who would want to read a book about the anthrax case that clarifies all these issues.
Added NOTE at 11 a.m.: Within 30 minutes of my posting the above Sunday comment, "Anonymous" attempted to post a message to my interactive blog arguing with the last sentence. I deleted his post, but I decided to quote it in it's entirety in the first message in this week's blog thread, along with an explanation about why I delete his posts and why I think his latest argument is malicious instead of instructive. He then attempted to post other messages, and he sent me an email that contained only the subject: "I have a copy of your manuscript and there is nothing new." I assume that is just a malicious lie intended to annoy and upset me. But, it shows he really has a pathological obsession with the case and with anyone who disagrees with his beliefs.