2013 - Part 3 
(September 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013)
A log of comments and changes made to the main pages.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 29, 2013, thru Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 2013 - This is a bit off-topic, but it's difficult to find anything "on topic" these days. 

Yesterday, someone sent me a link to an Esquire article titled "The Year We Broke The Internet."  The article complains that the media can no longer tell fact from fiction.  And, as an example, it shows two pictures of the pyramids and says "One of these isn't real."

snow on pyramids

The article doesn't say which picture isn't real, but it implies that the one which shows snow on the pyramids is a fake:

As winter storms were buffeting parts of the country last week, our collective attention was drawn halfway around the world to Egypt. Images of the pyramids and the Sphinx covered in snow had emerged, and were being shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter. It wasn’t hard to see why. For some, sharing the photos was a statement on global warming. For others, sharing was about the triumph of discovery, making them proud housecats dropping a half-chewed mouse of news on the Internet’s doorstep. For most, however, the photos were just another thoughtlessly processed and soon-forgotten item that represented our now-instinctual response to the unrelenting stream of information we’re subjected to every waking hour: Share first, ask questions later. Better yet: Let someone else ask the questions. Better still: What was the question again?

Needless to say, the photos were bullshit.

I suppose it's "possible" that the upper picture showing the snow is a fake, but I'm not going to accept that as fact without some really solid evidence.  Yes, both pictures were shot from approximately the same place, but the lighting is different, the clouds are different, the framing of the snow picture is lower and shifted to the right, and the "fake" picture is far more sharp and more clear than the "real" picture. 

It appears that Esquire read about some fake pictures of snow on the Sphinx and some fake aerial shots of snow on the pyramids, and then they just assumed (as others did) that the above picture of snow on the pyramids was also fake.   They searched photo archives and found a shot that looked similar but without the snow, and they considered that to be evidence in support of what they wanted to believe was true. 

The fake pictures of snow on the Sphinx are known to be made from pictures of a model of the Sphinx that is on display in Tokyo and was covered with snow recently:

Fake Snow on Sphynx

But a check of middle east newspapers will show that there was snow on the pyramids in mid-December.  And there are at least two other pictures of snow on the pyramids (click HERE for the source of the first one, click HERE for a larger version of the second one):

snow on pyramids

snow on pyramids

I could be wrong, of course.  It's just an hypothesis based upon the facts as I see them. But, I feel there's about a 95% certainty that the picture is real.
  And, it doesn't matter one iota how many journalists or "experts" on the Internet believe the picture is a fake.  However, all that is needed to get me to withdraw my hypothesis and to admit to being wrong is to see new and better evidence that the picture of snow on the pyramids is fake.  It's not a belief.  It's not an opinion.   It's just my analysis of the evidence.  I would have absolutely no problem adjusting to and accepting new and better evidence.

December 30, 2013 (B) - Yesterday, Lew Weinstein created a new thread for his blog with this title and quote from "DXer":

DXer … It’s naive and uninformed to think that Al Qaeda could not have obtained Ames just because it tended to be in labs associated with or funded by the US military. … The reality is that a lab technician, researcher, or other person similarly situated might simply have walked out of some lab that had it.

It's a good example of how Anthrax Truthers make up false arguments just so they can argue against them.  

I'm not aware of anyone ever saying it was impossible for al Qaeda to "have obtained Ames." 
It's always been understood that they "could have obtained Ames" somewhere. The argument has ALWAYS been that there are no FACTS or EVIDENCE to support such an "al Qaeda theory."  The FACTS and EVIDENCE very clearly say that Dr. Bruce Ivins created the anthrax powders and mailed the anthrax letters.

But, I suppose if Anthrax Truthers are totally incapable of understanding the evidence that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax killer, they are probably also incapable of understanding that there is no evidence to support an "al Qaeda theory."   Anthrax Truthers believe that, if the FBI would just look hard enough and long enough, they'd find the evidence.  Anthrax Truthers seem to KNOW the evidence must be somewhere, because it's what they believe.  And they simply cannot believe that they can be wrong.

December 30, 2013 (A) - "DXer" responded to my post from yesterday where I asked "
What could anyone ever hope to learn about the anthrax attacks of 2001 by asking 25 different people for their opinions?"  His lengthy post on Lew Weinstein's blog begins this way:

A blogger named Ed, the fellow who has argued for over a decade that a First Grader wrote anthrax letters. has collected some of the questions I’ve asked on Lew’s blog.
He has gathered the questions #1-25 and I’ll notate the reason why it would be worth hearing what the person thinks.

The reasons he provides for "why it would be worth hearing what the person thinks" are mostly just descriptions of who the person is.  "DXer" gives such descriptions for all 25 people.  And most descriptions provide NO reason to believe the person's opinion would be of any value whatsoever.  The description for the first person in the list isn't even accurate.  "DXer" wrote:

Daniel Seikaly had a high security clearance and led the Amerithrax investigation.

Daniel Seikaly did NOT lead the Amerithrax Investigation.  The investigation was led by officials of the FBI from the Washington Field Office.  Mr. Seikaly was
chief of the criminal division in the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.  In that position, he was merely periodically briefed on what the FBI was finding about Steven Hatfill, and he allegedly leaked some of that briefing information to the media.  So, he was removed from his position.  Why anyone would care who Mr. Seikaly thinks sent the anthrax letters is still an unanswered question.

And the same for the next two responses from "DXer":

Question #2: Who does Saif Adel suggest is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mallings?

Saif Adel thinks of himself as a heavyweight. I believe he was EIJ/ AQ military commander after Atef’s death in November 2001. Saif Adel denied responsibility for the mailings to the newspapers in NYC and DC and people in symbolic positions known as the Al Hayat letters — for which there is an outstanding $5 million reward. Ali Mohammed’s protege Dahab, a Cairo Medical school drop-out, looks good for that mailing IMO. Both were associated with the Blind Sheik’s Brooklyn operation and Ali Mohammed taught Dahab to make lethal letters. Abu Ghaith knew Saif Adel in Iran. So maybe Abu Ghaith has shared what he knows about Saif Adel.

Question #3: Who does Marwan Hadid think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Marwan Hadid is both an alias Yazid Sufaat uses and apparently was the name of a hematology technician helping Yazid at Omar Hospital in May 2001. Al Qaeda operatives tend to borrow the name of one of the Prophet’s companions or the like. I am relying on an interrogation report in understanding him to be an assistant helping Yazid rather than Yazid himself. I believe that is the name Yazid was using on his twitter account before he was thrown in jail last year.

And, "DXer's" post just goes on and on and on through all 25, without once providing any reason to care what any of those people think.

"DXer" summarizes or concludes his lengthy, valueless post with this:

The founder of the CIA once explained that asking people questions is still one of the best ways to find out information. At the very least, whenever it is possible, it is a necessary journalistic duty to get their side of the story.

Asking questions is definitely "one of the best ways to find out information."  But the key is knowing WHO and WHAT to ask.  Questioning people who would have no reason to know anything doesn't provide "information."  It merely provides OPINIONS.   Opinions are NOT information.  Opinions are subjective.  Information is objective.

And journalists generally only ask questions of people to get "their side of the story" when the people can be expected to HAVE a "side".  To have a "side," there has to be the "other side of the story," which is usually an accusation.  If someone accused XYZ of something, then a reporter might want to get XYZ's "side of the story."  When a journalist stops someone on the street and asks their OPINION, they aren't getting that person's "side of the story."  They're just getting an opinion.  Opinions are generally worthless to anyone trying to find facts and information about anything.      

December 29, 2013 - Yesterday, I was trying to think of what I should write about for this morning's Sunday comment.  There is no fresh news about the anthrax attacks of 2001, of course, since that FBI case was solved over five years ago.  But, "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog is still asking meaningless questions which no one ever answers.  And there's a definite pattern to many of his meaningless questions.  To see how many questions I could find that fitted the pattern, I did a Google search through Weinstein's blog for the phrase "who does" and the word "believe".  Here are some of the results:

Question #1: Who does former lead Amerithrax prosecutor Daniel Seikaly and his daughter, Ali Al-Timimi’s former defense counsel, think is responsible for the anthrax mailings of Fall 2001?

Question #2: Who does Saif Adel suggest is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mallings?

Question #3: Who does Marwan Hadid think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #4: Who does “Waly Samar” think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #5: Who is Tahar Butt Kashmeri? Who does Tahar say is responsible?

Question #6: Dr. Bruce Ivins hosted one Egyptian visitor in the B3 who was the lifelong friend of a former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, a schoolmate, recruited by Ayman Zawahiri. Who does he think is responsible?

Question #7: Ali Mohammed, the head of intelligence for Egyptian Islamic Jihad who worked variously for the US Army, FBI and CIA, had a document on his computer seized by the FBI that outlined principles of cell security that would be followed, trained Dahab, a Cairo medical drop-out, to make deadly letters. Who does Ali think is responsible?

Question #8: Who does Al-Marabh think is responsible for the anthrax mailings?

Question #9: Who does Mohammed Zawahiri think was responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #10: Who does [Dr. Assaad] think is responsible for the anthrax mailings?

Question #11: Who does Aafia [Siddiqui] think is responsible?

Question #12 Who does [Omar] Bakri [Mohammed] think was responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #13: Who does [Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri] think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #14: Who does [Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed} think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #15: Who does Dr. Batarfi think was responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #16: Who does Mr. Chehazah think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #17: Who does US pharmacist Najmut Tariq think is behind the anthrax mailings?

Question #18: Who does GBK was responsible for the anthrax mailings of Fall 2001?

Question #19: Who does Arif Qasmani think is responsible for the anthrax mailings?

Question #20: Who does [Hassan Faraj] think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

Question #21: Who does Dr. [Jane A.] Alexander think is responsible for the anthrax mailings?

Question #22: Who does Assem Abdel Maged, media official at Jama’a al-Islamiya, think is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings?

Question #23: Who does [Professor W. Samarrai] think is responsible for the anthrax mailings?

Question #24: Who does Michael Scheuer think was responsible for the anthrax mailings?

Question #25: Who does Dr. Heba think was responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings intended to free senior EIJ leaders that had been rendered?

Since the word "believe" doesn't appear in any of these questions, I might have been able to find a lot more by looking for "who does" and "think".  But, the point is made.  What could anyone ever hope to learn about the anthrax attacks of 2001 by asking 25 different people for their opinions?  They can't be rhetorical questions, since the answers are neither obvious nor are they provided by the questioner.  They seem to be totally meaningless questions asked to show that, if the FBI looks long enough and hard enough, they might find someone somewhere who agrees with "DXer" that Islamic militants were behind the anthrax attacks of 2001, regardless of what the facts say.
By coincidence, I have what I think are 10 meaningful questions that I compiled for a post to my interactive blog months ago, but never actually used (as far as I can recall).  The questions are all addressed to "Anonymous" (a.k.a. "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog) to see if he could clarify his claim (or belief) that Islamic militants were behind the anthrax attacks of 2001.  Here's the list:

1. Where did the Islamist militants make the anthrax powders for the letters? Was it in the U.S. or was it in Afghanistan? Or somewhere else - like Canada? You seem to argue whatever argument fits the moment. Don't you have any actual FACTS?

2. If the Islamist terrorists made the anthrax powders in Afghanistan, did they just make the few grams that were in the letters? Were the threats in the letters FALSE threats?

3. If the Islamist militants did NOT make a FALSE threat, why hasn't there been a major anthrax attack? Did they plan to make more anthrax later and smuggle it into the U.S. after 9/11 and after the first anthrax attacks? Wouldn't they see it be at least a thousand times more difficult to smuggle anthrax into the U.S. after America was made aware of the dangers?

4. Why do you believe the Islamist militants sent a crude powder in the first letters and then waited a month to send the more sophisticated powders in the second letters? It's clear why Ivins did that, but why would Islamist militants send two different kinds of powders a month apart? Why send the media a crude powder, and then a month later send a sophisticated powder to politicians?

5. Why did the Islamist militants send the first letters to the media? If they only had a few grams of powder, wouldn't it have made more sense to mail more letters to politicians?

6. Why did the Islamist militants use the Ames strain? If they made the anthrax powders in Afghanistan, wouldn't it make much more sense to use some local strain? No one had ever used the Ames strain for a bioweapon before, and it would have been VERY difficult for al Qaeda to obtain a sample. Since there are dozens of other strains around, why pick the Ames strain? Why use a strain that can be killed by almost any antibiotic? It's clear why Ivins chose the Ames strain, but why would al Qaeda choose it?

7. Why did the Islamist militants mail both sets of anthrax letters from Princeton? It would seem to be STUPID for terrorists to do both mailings from the same place or even the same area if there wasn't a specific reason to do so. Ivins had a reason, but what reason would Islamist militants have? Wouldn't it be more logical for them to mail the first letters from one place, like New York City, and the second letters from a very different place, like Washington, DC?

8. Since Ivins' flask RMR-1029 was the "murder weapon," is it your argument that Islamist militants stole a sample from flask RMR-1029, transported it to a lab in Afghanistan where only a few ounces of powders were made in two different degrees of sophistication, and then the two powders were transported BACK to the United States where they were used in the two mailings a month apart? Does that seem even remotely logical to you? Wouldn't it make infinitely more sense to make the powders in Afghanistan using a local strain and then transport the powders to the U.S., instead of going back and forth? It's clear why Ivins did what he did, but it doesn't seem logical that Islamist militants would do such a thing.

9. Doesn't the picture of the "anthrax spore concentrate" you show on Lew's site HERE indicate that they did NOT have the Ames strain? Do you think that, if it was the Ames strain, the FBI would fail to mention it? If it was the Ames strain, why wouldn't your contacts and EVERYONE ELSE say so? Do you believe there is some kind of conspiracy between the FBI, the DOJ and Islamist militants?

10. Why do you believe the Islamist militants sent a love letter to Jennifer Lopez at the Sun Magazine that contained laundry detergent instead of anthrax? You say the blue clouds printed on the stationery are a code relating to "The Cloud" which is a terrorist group, and that Jennifer Lopez's first name has something to do with a "Jennie" code, but what was the purpose of a letter that had no anthrax, that looked like a love letter to Jennifer Lopez, and which ended up just getting thrown away? What did Islamist militants hope to achieve with a harmless letter that just gets thrown away and is never seen by anyone outside of the AMI offices?

While I don't expect "DXer" to answer these questions, it's worth a shot.  I know he reads my comments on this web site regularly.   

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 22, 2013, thru Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 27, 2013 - The media really bugged me earlier this week.   They seemed to be telling everyone who used a CREDIT card to buy anything from Target in the past month, they needed to get a new card.  I bought something on Thanksgiving night.  But, I'm not liable if someone steals my credit card data from Target and uses it.  To verify that, I called my credit card bank.  They said the same thing: "You have zero liablity if someone steals your credit card information from a retailer."  It would be different if somone picked my pocket to get the card, and I didn't report the theft to the bank.

The Target problem is mostly with DEBIT cards and the fact the theft also involved stealing Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).   Stealing a DEBIT card number AND the associated PIN number can lead to theft from a bank account which could be difficult to prove was a theft and not a regular withdrawal by the card owner.

Today, the media bugged me again.   CNN's report on the new ruling that the NSA's collecting of phone call number information is legal doesn't explain the reasoning behind the new ruling.  It mostly quotes from people who disagree, but doesn't show why Judge Pauley ruled the way he did and where his ruling disagrees with Judge Leon's ruling that such data collection is illegalReuters and The Hill did basically the same thing - providing only one side of the argument

So, I had to hunt until I found the explanation.  The New York Times explains things very well.
  The data that is collected is virtually meaningless until you have the phone number of a terrorist or criminal whose call activities you need to backtrack.  And then all it tells you is who he called.  Here's where and why Judge Pauley disagrees with the previous ruling by Judge Leon:

The main dispute between Judge Pauley and Judge Leon was over how to interpret a 1979 Supreme Court decision, Smith v. Maryland, in which the court said a robbery suspect had no reasonable expectation that his right to privacy extended to the numbers dialed from his phone.

“Smith’s bedrock holding is that an individual has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information provided to third parties,” Judge Pauley wrote.

But Judge Leon said in his ruling that advances in technology and suggestions in concurring opinions in later Supreme Court decisions had undermined Smith. The government’s ability to construct a mosaic of information from countless records, he said, called for a new analysis of how to apply the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable government searches.

So, Judge Pauley interpreted the current law.  Judge Leon argued that the law was no longer clear, and he ruled the way he figured the law would or should be changed.  That probably means the Supreme Court will have to decide which judge is right.

December 24, 2013 - I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  May all your arguments be resolved amicably, and may all your unanswered questions be interesting puzzles that exercise the mind - whether the questions are ever answered or not.

Sylvester & Tweety

December 22, 2013 - The endless debates with "DXer/Anonymous" continue on my interactive blog.   He constantly misreads things - either mistakenly or maliciously - and he argues that the FBI and/or DOJ said things they never said.

In a comment HERE, he argues that FBI Agent Vincent Lisi claimed that a lyophilizer was used to dry the attack spores.   He provides a quote that only shows Agent Lisi explaining that people who claimed that the spores could not possibly have been dried in the lyophilizer at USAMRIID are wrong.  The attack spores could have been dried that way.  However, Lisi is not saying the attack spores WERE dried that way.

In that same comment "DXer/Anonymous" argues that the use of the lyophilizer was part of the evidence against Ivins.  Not true.  All the FBI said was, use of a lyophilizer was one of the ways the attack spores could have been dried.   In other words, Ivins had the MEANS to dry spores.  The FBI won't speculate on exactly which MEANS he used.  But, anyone who says that Ivins did not have the means, is talking absolute nonsense.  (The FACTS indicate to me that it's a near certainty that Ivins air-dried the spores.)

In a comment HERE, he argues that the FBI claimed that "
genetically matching Ames was not stored in Building 1412."  The FBI never made such a claim.  They said that flask RMR-1029 was never stored in Building 1412, and that's what Ivins said, too.

"DXer/Anonymous" also endlessly cites Bruce Ivins' friend, Dr. Henry Heine, as if Heine is the supreme authority on all matters related to making anthrax powders.  If the FBI says one thing and Dr. Heine says another, then Dr. Heine must be right according to "DXer/Anonymous," because Dr. Heine worked at USAMRIID, and the FBI did not. 

Dr. Heine gave some interviews to radio station WFMD in Frederick, Maryland, in 2010 and 2011.  "DXer/Anonymous" refers to them as if they were gospel.   In my archives I have five MP3 files of Heine interviews with WFMD.  However, I can't put them on this web site without risk of copyrights violations.  And, I can find only one of them still on-line.  Here's a list of the MP3 files I have in my personal computer (with a link added to the one I can find on-line):

1.  Hank Heine 6am hour .mp3   (28:41) - 2/25/10
2.  Hank Heine 7am hour .mp3   (27:36) - 2/25/10
3.  Hank Heine 8am hour .mp3   (35:12) - 2/25/10
4.  Hank Heine Anthrax new info.mp3  (26:06) - 4/21/10
5.  Hank_Heine_Anthrax_Front_line_1318433831_10847.mp3   (28:11)  - 10/12/11

When "DXer/Anonymous" discusses Dr. Heine's interviews, he won't provide the links, although he implies that such links exist and that there are two additional interviews that I don't have.  (I think there's just one, from Feb. 16, 2011.)  Evidently, that way he can claim to have more information than I have.  And he can complain that I don't provide the links on this web site. 

MP3 file #4 was discussed in my May 23, 2010 comment.  (So were #1, #2 and #3.)  However, the links in that comment no longer work.  In that comment I showed how totally nutty Dr. Heine's theory is about the molecule silicone being in the attack spores. 
"DXer/Anonymous" relies heavily on this nonsense in his recent arguments.  In reality, of course, there were NO molecules of SILICONE in the attack spores.  There was only the element SILICON in the spore coats, and it has been proven by Sandia Labs that that the SILICON got into the spore coats NATURALLY, not from any kind of additive.

MP3 file #5 was discussed last week in my December 18, 2013 (B) comment.  I showed that some of what Dr. Heine said was "incorrect."  I could have shown that other comments he made were also just plain wrong.  But, what would be the point?  I have no desire to debunk Dr. Heine's comments just for the hell of it.  I only want to explain to "DXer/Anonymous" that HIS BELIEFS do not jibe with the FACTS, and the "experts" he relies upon have only OPINIONS and BELIEFS.  They do not have any FACTS which disprove the FBI finding that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.    

"DXer/Anonymous's" primary argument at the moment seems to be that, if spores from flask RMR-1029 were kept in USAMRIID's Building 1412 at any time prior to the anthrax attacks of 2001, then those spores MUST have been the spores that were used to create the attack spores, because foreigners sometimes visited Building 1412.  "DXer/Anonymous" seems absolutely obsessed with proving that foreigners - specifically Muslim terrorists - were behind the anthrax attacks of 2001.  In the past twelve years, he hasn't found any proof to support his theory, but that hasn't affected his unshakable belief about what happened.  And, it's clear that no mere facts can change his mind.

Meanwhile, on Friday, I finally finished the first draft of my new sci-fi novel "Gizmo."  (That probably won't be the final title.)  I thought there would be 33 chapters, but on Thursday an idea occurred to me on how to give it a better ending.  The ending in the outline turned out to be kind of "flat," i.e., unsatisfying.  So, I made that ending unacceptable to the characters in the book, too.  They squabbled over it.  And, they set about to fix things to create an ending to their "project" that satisfied them.  I think what they did to wrap things up will be more enjoyable for the reader, too. 

Here are the final statistics for the first draft:

Chapter Pages Pgs total words wds total Started
Oct 29
Oct 30
Oct 30
Oct 31
Nov 1
Nov 1
Nov 2
Nov 3
Nov 3
Nov 4
Nov 5
Nov 7
Nov 7
Nov 9
Nov 11
Nov 13
Nov 17
Nov 19
Nov 19
Nov 20
Nov 20
Nov 22
Nov 24
Nov 25
Nov 27
Nov 28
Dec 10
Dec 11
Dec 12
Dec 13
Dec 14
Dec 16
Dec 17
Dec 18
Dec 18

The minimum length for a novel is generally considered to be 60,000 words.  I don't think there'll be any problem with reaching (and exceeding) that length in the second draft.  There is a LOT that I need to add to the book.  In the first draft, I focused mostly on the "story," so there is very little character development.  The main characters are three inventors.  Two of them are physics professors at Northwestern University and the third (the main character) is an entrepreneur with political connections who is brought in to assist on a project involving the "gizmo" invention. 

Currently, the main characters all have very little in the way of "personality."  They're basically just stick figures who go through the motions of the story.  In the 2nd draft, I'll need to "flesh them out" and make them interesting people who readers will enjoy reading about.  I have to give them personality traits, i.e., different ways of speaking, personal clothing choices, habits, likes and dislikes, family feuds, etc. 

Because the new ending has them squabbling over the best way to end the project, I also need to go back and have them squabbling from time to time throughout the book.  The ending needs to fit everything else.  The changes will hopefully make it clear why they work so well together.  They squabble a lot as they work out the best way to do things, and each of them has a slightly different point of view.  If an agreed upon plan fails, they don't blame and razz each other.  They understand the process and they move on.

I also discovered I need to change the name of the villain.  By pure happenstance, the villain has a last name that is also the last name of a USAMRIID scientist.  That won't do.  And I may change the last names of the main characters, too.  Foster and Benson seem just too ordinary.  But, that's what the "find and replace" option is for in WORD.

Though the first draft is largely unreadable, I think it's a good first draft.  It has no plot flaws that I'm aware of, and there's infinite room for improvement. 

I expect the second draft is going to take many months to write.  I don't plan to bore the readers of this web site with a blow by blow account of my efforts.   Finding something else about the anthrax attacks of 2001 to comment upon at least once per week will be my goal.  Failing that, I'll try to find something in the current news to write about.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 15, 2013, thru Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 19, 2013 - I awoke this morning thinking I should have included in yesterday's (B) comment an image of the page with the information about where the Ames samples were found that contained three of the four morphs that were also in flask RMR-1029.  So, I went back and added it.

This morning I also found three posts by "DXer/Anonymous" to my interactive blog, all basically arguing that opinions by people who agree with him are better than any FACTS or EVIDENCE supplied by the FBI or anyone else.  And, it doesn't matter if those opinions can be PROVED to be WRONG.

He's posting more of the same as I'm writing this. 

December 18, 2013 (B) - Grumble grumble!  I'd really planned on finishing the first draft of my new novel today.  But, when I turned on my computer this morning, I found an email from "DXer/Anonymous" in my inbox with this as the subject:

Mr. Lake, could you link this on your site rather than confuse things further with mistakes on the issue?  Thanks.

and it had this as the text of the email:

PBS's Frontline show did an follow up to the Anthrax killings the FBI has said were committed by Dr. Bruce Ivins. Former USAMRIID PHD Dr. Henry Heine explains the flaws in the FBI findings and his part in the Frontline story. He also talks about how he had the same strain the Dr. Ivins had and they tested negative.

And he provided a link HERE to the WFMD radio interview. 

So, Dr. Heine had the same strain Dr. Ivins had and they tested negative?  I knew that it was the same strain, but what is "DXer" trying to say?  It appears "DXer" is so ignorant of the facts of the case that he can't even make a good, meaningful argument. 

The FBI found 1,070 samples of the Ames strain.  They tested the 1,070 samples, and all but 8 "tested negative" for the four key morphs that were in Flask RMR-1029.   There was no reason why couldn't Henry Heine have had two of the other 1,062 Ames samples.

I remembered debunking one of Dr. Heine's radio interview comments before.  So, I did a search through this web site, and I found I had debunked a different (but similar) WFMD interview with Dr. Heine in my May 23, 2010, comment.  But I never debunked the WFMD interview at the link (which appears to be from October 12, 2011, the day after the PBS Frontline program "The Anthrax Files" aired).

Playing the MP3 file at the link "DXer" provided, I was stunned at how little Dr. Heine knows (or knew in 2011) about the facts of the case against Ivins.   For example, at the 2 minute 17 second (2:17) point in the interview we hear this:

InterviewerThe one thing that we did see that is part of the FBI's case when it comes to evidence is a particular flask, which is labeled RMR-1029.  Any significance to the labeling at all?

Dr. Heine: No, it's just an essentially ... if you look at it as a production run, one of the things Dr. Ivins was reponsible for was to clean up and prepare these spores for the various experiments that all of us at USAMRIID were doing.  So, 1029 was just the next production run.

That is absolutely, undeniably INCORRECT.  RMR-1029 was definitely NOT "just the next production run."  It was a ONE-OF-A-KIND collection that came from 35 different production runs performed at two different locations.  That is what made it so unique and traceable.  That is why that particular flask contained so many morphs.  Anthrax spore concentrations are not normally assembled that way. 

Because Dr. Heine was making false assumptions about flask RMR-1029, it was difficult to decipher exactly what he meant when the WFMD interview turned to discussing the second sample from flask RMR-1029 that Dr. Ivins sent to the FBI Repository (FBIR) and how it tested negative for the morphs that were known to be in RMR-1029.  That was evidence that Ivins tried to mislead the FBI.  Because Dr. Heine was making false assumptions about RMR-1029, I didn't fully understand what he said at the 7:45 point:

Based on everything that Frontline looked into  - and I worked with them quite a bit on this story ... dug down through my notebooks - they showed me a lot of these documents they collected and so forth - and one of the things we discovered, you know, it was mentioned in the story last night - one of the things we discovered was, we got information that that two samples that I submitted that were "coded," - this is what is so curious about it - these were "coded," ... they turned out to be from RMR-1029, yet they were coded in such a way that the FBI wouldn't have known that directly, and both of those samples came up negative as well.

So, both of Dr. Heine's samples came up negative for the four morphs.  Unfortunately, he doesn't explain how he knows that.   And, I mistakenly assumed that he was in error when he said his two samples came from RMR-1029. 

Then, this morning on my interactive blog, "DXer/Anonymous" wrote this:

For example, as recent as email dated December 15, 2013 -- three days ago -- I forwarded you an excerpt from Stephen Little that mentioned one of the withdrawals for Dr. Heine.

I tend to delete the screen shots he sends me, since they are usually meaningless by themselves, and I can't figure out any meaningful way to file them.  (I think he wants me to put them on this web site the way he puts them on Lew Weinstein's blog - without any meaningful explanation.)   But, while the email he had referred to was in my delete file, I hadn't yet deleted it.  Looking through the four screen shots he'd attached, I found this as the third one:

Page from Stephen Little depostion

If you look carefully, you'll see that lines 9 and 10 say "also 10 millimeters on October 4th, 2001 for H. Heine."  The deposition questioning is about the Reference Material Receipt Record for flask RMR-1029.  And on page 2 of that document, there is an entry for 10 milliliters that Ivins gave to someone on Oct. 4.  It's just below the red box I drew long ago for a different comment:

RMR-1029, page 2     
So, the FACTS now say that Henry Heine did indeed have a sample from RMR-1029.  And, I have no reason to doubt that he gave two slants of material from that one sample to the FBIR.  According to FBIR procedures, one slant was kept by the FBIR and the other slant was sent to Paul Keim at Northern Arizona University for strain typing.

Only one of those two slants was tested for the morphs.  Did it turn out to be one of the 8 samples that contained all four of the morphs?  I presumed not, since Dr. Heine seemed to know that it tested "negative."  But, I wanted to find the list of those 8 samples to make sure.

It would have been so easy if "DXer/Anonymous" had just provided the list as part of making his argument.   I remembered seeing the list.  I remembered printing it out.  And I even remembered where some of the samples were found.  But where was the list?  What could I search for to find it?  I tried various Google searches and found nothing.   Then, I went through a stack of about 600 pages of printouts stacked in a corner of my office, and I found it about 1/3rd of the way through.  It was a printout of a screen shot from Lew Weinstein's blog!  And, of course, they don't say where it came from.  But I had a handwritten note on the printout that says it came from the National Academy of Sciences' CD, Batch 3, Document 10, page 2.   Here's that page:

Chart of where morphs were found

Click HERE to view the page as it appears on Lew Weinstein's blog.  Note that the page says "Only ten samples in the FBIR have all three mutations present and are listed below."  None seems to be Dr. Heine's sample.

The list was prepared in 2006, before the findings for the fourth morph were in. 

So, why didn't the sample from RMR-1029 given to Dr. Henry Heine contain the "three" morphs?   The fact that Dr. Heine's sample didn't contain the three morphs doesn't mean it didn't contain any morphs.  The second sample Ivins gave to the FBIR didn't contain ANY morphs.  That's why it was believed to have either come from a different source, or Ivins used his "single colony pick" method to make sure there were no morphs in that second sample as he tried to mislead the investigation.

But, were there any samples in the FBIR that contained only one or two of the morphs?  We know from the August 18, 2008, "Roundtable discussion" that when the FBIR results were completed, none of the 1,070 samples contained just three of the morphs.   But were there samples that contained less than three?   According to page 79 of the Amerithrax Investigation Summary,

RMR-1029 was sampled 30 times following the subpoena instructions. Occasionally, only three of the four genetic mutations were detected, and at no time were less than three detected. It followed that if Dr. Ivins prepared his submission to the repository in accordance with the protocol, that submission could not miss all four of the morphological variants present in RMR-1029.

So, if the subpoena instructions were followed, there shouldn't have been less than three morphs in Dr. Heine's sample.  But were there less than three?  How many samples from the 1,070 samples had less than three morphs?  We don't know.

The EVIDENCE is that all the slants that had all FOUR of the morphs originated with flask RMR-1029.  Therefore, flask RMR-1029 was the parent of the anthrax spores in the anthrax letters. 

There could have been other slants among the 1,070 that were made from samples that originated with RMR-1029 and some of those slants could have had less than three morphs, but that wouldn't change the evidence.

The Anthrax Truther claim is just that, based upon what Dr. Heine observed, Bruce Ivins' claim that he made the second set of slants with material from flask RMR-1029 - even though it contained NO mutations - is possible.  The FACTS, however, still say it isn't very likely.

So, the net result of this day-long analysis of some "new facts" regarding the slants Dr. Heine sent to the FBIR is that nothing changes.  The FACTS still say that Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins was the anthrax killer.  We just don't have enough information to explain why Dr. Heine's slant wasn't one of those found to have all four morphs.

December 18, 2013 (A) - This morning, I posted a new comment where I tried to debunk some claims Dr. Henry Heine made on a radio show back on October 12, 2011.  The subject came up in an email about that radio show sent to me by "DXer/Anonymous."

I didn't fully view all the facts, and, as usual, "DXer/Anonymous" didn't explain his argument in any meaningful way.  As a result, I had to remove this morning's comment in order to do more research and to work on it further.  You can click on my interactive blog HERE to see where "DXer/Anonymous" pointed out some critical errors I made.

December 17, 2013 (B) - This morning, while doing my regular Google search for news stories related to "anthrax" and "2001," up popped a New York Times article about Larry Klayman, the lawyer who just got a judge to declare that the NSA's data mining of American citizens' phone call information is "unconstitutional."  The article says,

In the 1990s, he filed numerous lawsuits against President Bill Clinton and his administration, alleging a litany of personal and professional transgressions. Mr. Klayman later nettled Vice President Dick Cheney over his secret energy policy meetings and claimed that members of George W. Bush’s administration might have known in advance of the 2001 anthrax attacks in Washington.

 Ah!  A conspiracy theorist who is also a lawyer -- another Anthrax Truther with his own personal theory.   The Times says they call him "
Litigious Larry," and

Mr. Klayman, in Klayman-like fashion, quickly proclaimed it the “biggest ruling in the history of government litigation,” and said it validated his repeated legal assaults against the establishment.


Last year, Mr. Klayman filed a lawsuit in Florida arguing that Barack Obama was ineligible to be president because “neither Mr. Obama, nor the Democratic Party of Florida, nor any other group has confirmed that Mr. Obama is a ‘natural born citizen’ since his father was a British subject born in Kenya and not a citizen of the United States.”


it is a point of pride for Mr. Klayman that his legal “missiles” have no guidance systems that aim them in only one direction.

According to Politico.com:

in winning the ruling Monday from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington, the eccentric Klayman and his often comically shoestring conservative organization Freedom Watch effectively beat to the punch — and the headlines — a slew of better known civil liberties groups who have spent years fighting the NSA’s surveillance efforts.

“You got to keep punching. You never give up,” Klayman said when asked about the string of defeats he suffered before connecting on Monday.

I also noticed that Slate Magazine has this as the title of a column by David Weigel:

Foolish Judge Ignores Advice of Senators, Says NSA Metadata Collection Is Illegal

Meanwhile, on Lew Weinstein's blog, the Anthrax Truthers there are fighting amongst themselves:

Lew Weinstein said

And who is supposed to be overseeing this process, correcting the mistakes, providing the withheld information, telling America the truth? Is it Congress? Is it the President? the Attorney General? the head of the GAO?

DXer said

Please stop annoying or being unfair to GAO. (And don’t get mad at me when I defend GAO because that really pisses me off).

Instead, continue your great efforts in helping to obtain documentary evidence or information that is useful to GAO.

Lew Weinstein said

In my opinion, GAO has become part of the problem.

Lew Weinstein said

… and how can this be construed except as a purposeful cover-up. What is being covered up is the utter lack of real proof that Dr. Ivins did anything the FBI accuses him of … which in turn covers up the true identity of the anthrax mailers. And nobody, except this blog, seems at all concerned. This is a national disgrace!

I'm particularly puzzled by "DXer's" apparent belief that a redacted document HERE can somehow be easily read -- if someone else would just do it for him.  He wrote HERE:

Do you have photoshop or GIMP? If so, drop it in inverse so we can see what it says. The individual pixels used to blacken it are vastly different than the pixels of the writing.


Meanwhile, if the real Anonymous would have his computers take a break from bitcoin mining and have them process the pixels, we can post a copy of the corrections Mr. Little made.

I guess everything in the world is easy if you just get someone else to do it for you.  But, what makes him think it is so easily decoded in the first place?  I can only conclude that it is just more Anthrax Truther illogical logic.

ADDED NOTE:  He later clarified the matter HERE by writing:

The source has a higher resolution version pdf. I had just grabbed a screen shot for convenience.

So, he's assuming that the person who redacted the document did so by adding a LAYER of redaction blocks which can be easily removed.   Seems highly unlikely.   If someone knows how to do the redacting, they should know if it can be easily UN-redacted or not.

December 17, 2013 (A) - This might seem totally off topic, but I see it as a very good example of how FACTS provided by a non-expert can override the BELIEFS and OPINIONS of so-called "experts."  This morning, someone sent me an article titled "A Hobbyist Challenges Papers on Growth of Dinosaurs."  It's not who makes the claim that is important.  What's important is what the FACTS supporting the claim say.

December 15, 2013 (C) - The same Anthrax Truther mentioned in my (B) comment this morning sent me four (4) more silly emails this afternoon.  They were just meaningless blather.  If you want to read about them, go to my interactive blog by clicking HERE.

Meanwhile, on Lew Weinstein's blog the Truthers have posted same-old same-old questions and their standard baseless answers (a.k.a. "scenarios"):

Why doesn’t the FBI offer America a credible story? Why don’t we know who is responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks?

I can imagine only 3 possible “actual” scenarios …

    The FBI has more evidence against Dr. Ivins but is, for some undisclosed reason, withholding that evidence … POSSIBLE BUT NOT SO LIKELY

    The FBI, despite the most expensive and extensive investigation in its history, has not solved the case and has no idea who prepared and mailed the anthrax letters that killed 5 Americans in 2001 … EVEN LESS LIKELY

    The FBI knows who did it (not Dr. Ivins) but is covering up the actual perpetrators, for undisclosed reasons … THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO

The actual answer is: Anthrax Truthers don't know who was responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks because (1) they do not look at the facts, (2) they cannot understand the facts, and (3) they do not believe the facts.  They prefer their own baseless beliefs.

December 15, 2013 (B) - The Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog and "Anonymous" on my interactive blog sent me an email less than an hour after I posted my (A) comment this morning.  His email said only,

Dr. Patricia Worsham in her civil deposition said that RMR 1029 had been stored previously in Bldg 1412 and that in Bldg 1425 foreign nationals would have been in the containment suite on an escorted basis

He also attached a piece of that deposition which shows something very different.   It shows that it was merely Dr. Worsham's "understanding" that flask RMR-1029 was stored in Building 1412 at one time.   But, that's good enough for "DXer," who relies on beliefs instead of facts, and who evidently considers "understandings" to be better than facts - particularly his own "understandings."  Here are a few questions (Q) asked of Dr. Worsham by DOJ attorneys and Dr. Worsham's replies (A):

Q - And were there any foreign nationals that may have access to it [flask RMR 1029]?

A - We have had foreign nationals in the division in the past.  I'm not aware of any foreign national postdocs that went into containment in our suites as I recall.  Now, there may have been other foreign nationals that came in escorted.

Q - That may have had access to it if they came in on an escorted basis?

A - I don't recall that there were any of them that came in unescorted.

Q - And do you recall whether the RMR 1029 was always in the BSL 3 in Building 1425. or had it ever been kept in 1412?

A - My understanding is that it was over in 1412 at one point in time.

Q - If it were in 1412, then would significantly more people have had access to it?

A - There were more people with access to the containment side of 1412 than had access to our suites in B3 and B4.

This point has been addressed by the FBI.  Flask RMR-1029 was NEVER in Building 1412.   Bruce Ivins himself said so.  It was originally planned to have been kept there, but the situation changed and it was always kept in Building 1425. 

This is from page 27 of the
Amerithrax Investigative Summary:

According to a copy of the Reference Material Receipt record, these new spores were to be stored in Building 1412; however, at some point, Dr. Ivins used “white out” to delete that entry on the sheet and wrote in Building 1425 – where his office and lab were located. This notation is consistent with his laboratory notebooks, which show that he created RMR-1029 in Building 1425 and never actually sent the flasks to Building 1412, as apparently was originally planned.

Page 7 of the FBI pdf file #847423 says:

          IVINS reviewed the Reference Material Receipt Record for RMR-1029.  He stated that this was not a legal document and was only meant to keep track of the inventory to know when more spores would be needed.  IVINS explained that since RMR-1029 were Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) spores, they were not accessible to many people.

And at the bottom of that same page 7 and into page 8 it says:

           IVINS explained that RMR 1029 was maintained in two 500 mL flasks in suite B3.  When material was needed for a challenge, IVINS would remove the volume of spores needed in the challenge and place this volume in a Gibco serum bottle.  This Gibco serum bottle was then transported to Building 1412 at USAMRIID, where it was aliquoted for use in the challenge.  IVINS stated that the two 500 mL flasks that contained RMR 1029 were never taken to Building [1412].  Only the amount needed for a challenge was taken to [1412] in a Gibco serum bottle.

So, documents and statements from the person (Dr. Bruce Ivins) who controlled flask RMR-1029 make it very clear that RMR-1029 was NEVER kept in Building 1412.  But, "DXer" wants to believe that pesky Muslim foreigners somehow got their hands on it. So, he prefers to believe that someone else's "understanding" about the flask is better than whatever facts the FBI uncovered and whatever Bruce Ivins himself said. 

This is just another in a long line of illustrations of how Anthrax Truthers do not even pay attention to the FBI's findings.  They do their own investigations, and they believe only in what they find, even if their findings are totally disproved by the FBI.  Truthers know "the truth," and their "truth" is what they believe, not what any pesky facts say.

December 15, 2013 (A) - Ah!  My new cassette player arrived on Friday!  So, I can listen to my jazz tapes again, instead of being forced to listen to classical music on the radio while writing.  And, when I get the time, I can start converting my jazz tapes to MP3 files.

Meanwhile, I'm on page 222 in Chapter 31 of the new sci-fi novel I'm writing, with 46,300 words on disk.  It looks like the last chapter in the first draft will be Chapter 33.  

It helps that the Anthrax Truthers have stopped posting to my interactive blog.  And, of course, I'm banned from posting to
Lew Weinstein's blog.  So, now if I want to argue with them about something, I have to look for the latest screwball arguments they've posted to Weinstein's blog and respond to them either here or on my interactive blog. 

While I don't particularly want to argue with them, if I don't comment upon their latest nonsensical rant, today's Sunday comment will either consist of just the above 3 short paragraphs or a long tirade on why watching the recent movies "Man Of Steel" and "Pacific Rim" was annoying and a total waste of time for me.  So, here goes:

Their latest ridiculous argument is that the government didn't allow Ivins to check his notebooks and other documents to find an explanation for his "unexplained" hours in Suite B3.  And that's why Ivins wasn't able to come up with any kind of explanation of what he was doing during those hours in August, September and early October 2001.

On December 13, one of the Anthrax Truthers who hasn't posted anywhere in awhile posted a comment that is clearly about me:

What the guy at the other website (and anyone else for that matter) has been unable to do is: present a logical reason to explain why Ivins was prevented from being able to reconstruct his time in September and October of 2001 via consulting with contemporaneous notebooks, other paperwork.

The other Anthrax Truther ("DXer") then ranted on December 14:

There were 29,556 entrances into BSL-3 and 4 labs in 2012 at USAMRIID.

There were 51,000 entrances into BSL-3 and 4 labs in 2011.

Because of USAMRIID’s failure to preserve contemporaneous and relevant documents — and its false denial of possessing documents it in fact does have — the DOJ was able to cobble together a theory that Bruce Ivins was guilty of murdering 5 people in 2001. The DOJ based its theory on a dozen or two time-card entries in August, November, December 2001 — and in September and October. According to attorney Paul Kemp, at the two meetings at which Bruce explained his time, the prosecutors did not even address the first week in October 2001. That focus was added only after Dr. Ivins’ death. see uploaded Kemp presentation at conference moderated by Lew.

The prosecutors report that they were not persuaded by Ivins recollection as to the reason he was in the B3 lab. At the same time, DOJ and the FBI suppressed the documents and information relating to the reason Dr. Ivins had to be in the lab.

With thousands of entries and selective production of documents, it was easy for the investigator and AUSA to find someone who could be cast as having had the opportunity.

So, the Anthrax Truthers' latest absurd gripe appears to be that Ivins wasn't allowed to examine documents to come up with explanations for his "unexplained" hours in his lab.

The Truthers ignore the fact that Ivins did provide explanations for those unusual hours.  Here's what it says on pages 32 & 33 of the Amerithrax Investigative Summary:

When confronted with his suspicious pattern of hours worked in the lab, Dr. Ivins’s only explanation was that he “liked to go there to get away from a difficult home life.” He could not give a legitimate, science-related reason for being there during these hours, and none was documented in any of his lab notebooks.  Also, source information, including from Dr. Ivins’s own e-mails and his prescription records, reveals that there were other times in those same years when he was experiencing personal difficulties. However, during none of those other time periods were his off-hours in the lab anywhere near the hours he spent there in the weeks leading up to the mailings. Further, his e-mails written contemporaneously with the mailings indicate that the circumstances surrounding his home life were improving. For example, in an e-mail to a former colleague, dated September 17, 2001, on the day before the first letters were postmarked, Dr. Ivins discussed his improving home life. In another e-mail to this former colleague, dated September 19, 2001, the day after the first letters were postmarked, Dr. Ivins reported that he had exercised for the first time in months and that he “felt good.”

Dr. Ivins also told investigators that he went into the lab, rather than just his office, because he was trying to get away from a security guard who used to harass him. However, a careful review of the access records to Building 1425 demonstrates that there were only rare occasions when this guard was even on the same side of the building as Dr. Ivins.

The picture that remains is that Dr. Ivins was alone in his lab for long stretches of time in the evenings and on the weekends leading up to the anthrax mailing events. This picture is in stark contrast to his behavior before and after the mailings.

And, from what we've seen of Ivins' notebooks and files, there is no better explanation in them for the bulk of Ivins' "unexplained" hours in his lab.  Moreover, Ivins clearly knew he had no explanation.  That's why he made up things which he knew the FBI could not easily disprove: (1) he went into B3 to get away from his home life, (2) he went into B3 to get away from an annoying security guard, and (3) the reason Ivins gave someone else for why he was in Suite B3 on weekends.  It's on page 25 of FBI file #847425:

Ivins liked to take showers at Ft. Detrick on days when he wasn't working

In other words, before the afternoon and evening of on November 1, 2007, when the FBI laid out their case against him, Ivins would just make up things he knew the FBI couldn't disprove.   After November 1, 2007, when he had a lawyer and would only talk through his lawyer, his argument became "a lawyer's argument":  he couldn't reconstruct his hours in his lab because he wasn't allowed to examine all the documents that were part of the evidence against him.  The point to remember is: Those documents do not provide any explanation for his "unexplained" hours.   And, if Ivins hadn't committed suicide, all the documents used as evidence against him would have been shown to him and to his lawyers during the "discovery" phase of trial preparation.

The Anthrax Truthers have no evidence that Ivins was innocent, nor do they have any evidence that their own personal "suspects" are the ones who really sent the anthrax letters.  All they have are arguments that documents that haven't been provided to them contain all the proof that is needed to show Ivins' innocence.  If the government provides some of the required documents and there is nothing of value in them, then the proof is in the remaining documents that the FBI, DOJ and USAMRIID have not provided.  The Truthers don't know what kind of "proof" it is, they just know that if it isn't being provided, then it contains the evidence they need.  And no one can prove otherwise.

The Anthrax Truthers are using the same tactic that Bruce Ivins used when he explained what he was doing during those mysterious times he spent in Suite B3: Make stuff up that the other side cannot disprove.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 8, 2013, thru Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14, 2013 - I just checked Lew Weinstein's blog and found a new screwball thread titled, "DXer reports: USAMRIID circumvents FOIA … RIID now falsely claims it does not have a copy of the civil deposition of Ivins colleague working on same experiment as Ivins in first week of October 2001."

What these Anthrax Truthers think they can learn from Stephen Little's deposition in the Maureen Stevens lawsuit is a real mystery.   The very idea that it would contain anything of value to the case against Bruce Ivins seems almost preposterous.  Clearly, it's just another one of their bizarre "fishing expeditions" to find more opinions and beliefs.  But, nevertheless, "DXer" is upset and writes,

USAMRIID falsely claims it does not have a copy of the Stephen Little civil deposition even though John Peterson told me by telephone that USAMRIID employee Little had provided him a copy.

It is really, really REALLY  wrong to claim that you don’t have a document when you do.

John had wanted to withhold it on the grounds that the sworn transcribed statement was a “draft.”

USAMRIID, you may recall, was the defendant in that litigation.  DOJ is just the law firm.

USAMRIID was NOT the defendant in that litigation.  The lawsuit was Stevens vs The United States of America.  Mr. Little was an employee of the Department of Defense, of which USAMRIID is merely a division.  Clearly, the rules for FOIA requests say that you would have to file with either the Department of Justice or the Department of Defense.  Even if USAMRIID has Mr. Little's deposition, it doesn't seem logical that they'd be able to release it without approval from either the DoD or the DOJ.   So, the FOIA request should go to the agency with the authority to release the document.

When Truthers don't get what they want, they blame someone else.  Never themselves.

December 11, 2013 - Damn!  Damn!  Damn!  Damn!  The left side of my tape cassette player, which sits on the credenza behind me in my office, has been chewing up tapes from time to time.  Yesterday, it destroyed a second tape in a week, so I gave up on it and started using only the right side to play my hundreds of jazz tapes.  At the same time, assuming that it would cost a bundle to fix the thing, I placed an on-line order from Staples for a new cassette player.  The new player also has the ability to convert tapes to MP3 files, which I suppose I'm going to have to do eventually.  But the new player won't be delivered until Tuesday of next week. 

This morning the right side of my cassette player chewed up a tape.  It had been making noises and sounding strange sometimes, but it never chewed up a tape before.   And, I'm not going to risk any more tapes on it.  The player is probably about 20 years old.

I have a combination cassette player and CD player by the TV in the other room, but I need it there.   So, I've switched to listening to the radio while working.  Groan!  I don't want anyone talking while I'm writing.   I can't focus when someone's talking.  And I can't find any decent jazz on the radio, anyway.  I like jazz, but I don't like all kinds of jazz.  So, I'm now listening to classical music because they do a lot less talking on the classical radio station than any other station.  And they talk quieter when they do talk.

On Monday, I finished the outline for the end of my new sci-fi book.  Now I'm trying to complete the first draft.   I'm on Chapter 27, page 192, and I've got 40,200 words done.  If I follow the outline, I've got 5 chapters to go.  

December 9, 2013 - This comment might seem somewhat off-topic, but it could also be very much on-topic: 

About a month ago, I bought Season 1 of the HBO series "The Newsroom" on DVD for $19.99 when it was on sale at Target.  A few evenings ago, I started watching it.  Last night, I watched episode 6.  In it, the main characters talk about the Internet, and they make a comment about how it is 30 times more common for someone angry about some topic to post a message on a blog than someone who is satisfied with that same topic.

From what I've seen, that comment certainly seems reasonable and correct to me.  But I wanted to find a better source than a fictional TV show.

Researching that subject this morning, I found a September 16 Washington Post article titled "The Internet isn't making us dumb.  It's making us angry."   It doesn't provide any statistics, but it says,

People have proposed all sorts of remedies for online anger, such as making Internet commenters reveal their real names. Nobody really knows whether ending anonymity will civilize comment trolls, however. ....

Increasingly, though, there is one thing researchers think would almost certainly help a society awash in anger: better emotional intelligence, or the set of abstract skills that help human beings interact with one another without resorting to conflict. Almost by definition, a more emotionally intelligent Internet would be a kinder, more empathetic place.

Interestingly, in Episode 6 of "The Newsroom" the main character tries to make people on his blog use their real names as a way to reducing the anger.  The result is that he gets a serious threat against his life from someone who fakes using his real name.

The Post article also links to an MIT Technology Review article which concludes:

The moral of the story is that when it comes to the spread of information, anger is more powerful than other emotions.

So if you want to spread your message, let that inner rage out.

angry blogger

I couldn't find any solid statistics on angry bloggers versus satisfied bloggers, but I don't think there can be any doubt that there are more angry bloggers out there than people who post about how pleased they are about some event, topic or finding.   There's no doubt in my mind that "a more emotionally intelligent Internet would be a kinder, more empathetic place." And, I've been trying to do that by focusing on FACTS.

If everyone would focus on the facts and what the facts mean, there would be no reason to get angry.   You wouldn't be in a competetition to see who is right and who is wrong.   You would be working together to find the most logical interpretation of the facts.  When the facts clearly show which explanation for an event is most logical, you should end up with an agreement, i.e., a "meeting of the minds," not a fight.

But, of course, everyone would have to agree on the rules before such a "meeting of the minds" can happen.   And the main rule would be that opinions and beliefs cannot be substituted for facts.   A million opinions and a million beliefs do not total up to equal one single fact.  For example:

OPINION: Ivins was monitoring mice in a "Passive Mouse Experiment" in Suite B3 during early October 2001.

FACT: When Ivins was in Suite B3 can be determined by his In-Out logs.

FACT: When the mice were being checked can be determined by the check sheet.

FACT: Ivins could not be in two places at once.   Therefore,

The FACTS PROVE beyond any reasonable doubt that Ivins was NOT in Suite B3 when the mice were being checked.

CONCLUSION BASED UPON THE FACTS: Ivins was NOT monitoring mice in the "Passive Mouse Experiment" during early October 2001.

In an ideal world, this would end the debate.  Everyone would be satisfied.  But among angry posters on the Internet, the facts will be ignored, opinions can override all the facts, and the only thing that really matters is what an angry blogger believes

I have opinions, too.  I really enjoy watching "The Newsroom."  In my opinion, it's a really good TV show.  If there are people out there who do not like "The Newsroom," who cares?  I don't.  Liking or not liking a TV show is purely a matter of opinion.  There is no right or wrong.  There is no correct or incorrect.  So, it doesn't matter what some other person might believe or what his opinion is -- unless he believes that there is only one person in the world who is capable of determining whether a TV show is good and bad, and HE is that person.  Then it is reasonable to avoid arguing with that person.

December 8, 2013 - Last week, I started deleting the irrelevant and meaningless posts "Anonymous" attempted to make to my interactive blog.  As a result, on December 5, he said he would stop posting to my blog.  Instead, his next gripe came via an email.  But, mostly he's now just posting his incoherent ramblings to Lew Weinstein's blog.

On Friday, I was somewhat amazed to find a post by "DXer" to Weinstein's blog which said:

There is an intense public interest in whether Dr. Bruce Ivins was in fact responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings — and, as part of that, whether his alibi that he was monitoring some animals in the Bacteriology B3 Suite is sound.

Really?  My impression is that there is almost no public interest at all in the Amerithrax investigation.  To nearly everyone, it is "ancient history."  Except for a few obsessed Anthrax Truthers, including "DXer," who was also posting as "Anonymous" on my interactive blog, I seem to be the only other person in America who is still publicly researching the anthrax attacks of 2001.   And, mostly all I'm doing these days is showing that the posts and arguments by "DXer/Anonymous" are nonsense.

While my web site logs show that there are probably a couple hundred people who routinely check this web site every week (and thousands who look at some part of the site), I don't know what they read or look at.  So, the following comment to debunk the latest screwball nonsense from "DXer/Anonymous" may only be read by him (He seems to check this site multiple times a day).

"DXer/Anonymous" cites a PBS Frontline program from October 11, 2011, as evidence of this imagined "intense public interest."  In reality, that Frontline program is only evidence that PBS and ProPublica had an interest back in 2011 because of a minor screwup in a court document in the Stevens vs USA lawsuit.    

And Ivins certainly never offered any "alibi" that involved "monitoring some animals in the Bacteriology B3 Suite."  An "alibi" is evidence that the accused was somewhere else at the time of a crime.   Ivins' claimed alibi for the time of the anthrax mailings would have been that he was AT HOME.   But it was not a verifiable alibi.  So, it was worthless.  Bruce Ivins didn't have any explanation at all for the time of his crime of illegally making a weapon of mass destruction.  Those were the "UNEXPLAINED" hours Ivins spent at night and on weekends in his lab in Suite B3.  Anthrax Truthers, specifically "DXer/Anonymous," are trying to construct an alibi for Ivins for that time by cobbling together irrelevant and meaningless documents and then challenging others to prove that the results do not show something related to Ivins' guilt or innocence.

Just to show how truly nutty those attempts are, "Dxer" argues that a protocol dated 12 January, 2001  for a mice experiment by Ivins' assistant Stephen Little says:

a. Study Room: Animals receiving vaccine will be housed in AR-2 (Building 1425) until challenge in B-305 (Building 1425).  Veterinary Medicine Division animal caretakers will provide food and water and will maintain animal cages. 

And this document about a totally different experiment by a totally different scientist is inexplicably assumed by "Anonymous" to also apply to what Ivins was doing during his "unexplained" hours in B3.  How?  Why?  Truthers never explain.

Instead, when it was pointed out to "DXer/Anonymous" that FBI pdf file #847443 says (on page 26) that Ivins told the FBI that mice were housed in room B-310, "DXer" wrote this in his Friday post to Lew Weinstein's blog:

The FBI has produced the FBI documents showing Dr. Ivins gave a tour of the B3 pointing out where the guinea pig room was — pointing out where the mice room was. One was across from Patricia Worsham’s office in the Bacteriology Division B3. Another animal [room] is nearby. Bruce’s office in the “hot suite” was Room 313.

Of course, neither Ivins nor Worsham had an "office" in Suite B3.  Patricia Worsham appears to have had laboratories in rooms B-306 and B-309.  And Ivins' laboratory was known with certainty to be in room B-313.  (Click HERE for the floorplan of Suite B3, or visit my page about where and when Ivins made the anthrax powders.)   I also think I recall reading somewhere that room B-305 was the only animal room that had the tables and equipment for challenging animals.  So, the mice could have been "challenged" in room B-305 (i.e.,  injected with anthrax spores) and then moved to room B-310.

However, the conflict between Stephen Little's Jan. 2001 protocol and what Bruce Ivins told the FBI appears to have been something that "DXer" felt needed immediate clarification.  "DXer" wrote on Lew's blog:

The detailed B3 key card access records from September 28, 29 and 30 cannot be understood without knowing what animal room within the Bacteriology Suite B3 the mice were in.  

They can't?  What possible difference could it make if the animals were in room B-305 versus B-310?  The in-out records just show if someone entered Suite B3.  Rooms B-305 and B-310 are both in Suite B3, and there is no key card needed inside Suite B3.  In fact, it appears that the keycard isn't even taken into Suite B3.  It's left in the locker room.  That's why they use a KEYPAD to type in a code to enter the BSL-3 part of Suite B3.  So, there's no way to tell from keycard information whether B-305 or B-310 was used.

In his Friday post, "DXer" also wrote:

Under this [Steven Little's] Mice Protocol, The Animals Were Challenged In B-305 (which is in Suite B3) ; Under This Protocol, Dr. Ivins Was In The B3 Those Nights The AUSA And Investigators Mistakenly Suggested He Had No Reason To Be In That Biolevel-3 Lab  

There's no reason to believe Stephen Little's project proves anything at all.  And, it's been repeatedly explained to "DXer/Anonymous" that Bruce Ivins' in-out logs and Patricia Fellows' "Passive Mouse Experiment" check sheet PROVE BEYOND ANY DOUBT that Ivins was NOT in Suite B3 when mice were being monitored by Pat Fellows in late September and early October 2001.  (See my December 3, 2013 (A) & (B) comments, my supplemental page on where and when Ivins made the anthrax powders, AND my November 30, 2013, comments on my interactive blog.)

How "DXer/Anonymous" can ignore solid, undeniable evidence and continue to try to put up a smokescreen of false claims is the only mystery here.

"DXer" saw such a need to clarify which room the mice were in that he sent an FOIA request to USAMRIID.  And, according to a new thread on Lew's site on Friday, that request was DENIED.

DXer: The USAMRIID today formally refused to disclose where the mice were kept in the Bacteriology Suite B3 pursuant to this passive mouse experiment that Bruce Ivins worked on in September 2001 on the grounds that “the public interest consideration in the disclosure of such information does not outweigh preventing the disclosure of such information.”

DXer reasons that if USAMRIID had not withheld and destroyed the documents that would have permitted Dr. Ivins to reconstruct his time in September and October 2001, perhaps his suicide could have been avoided. USAMRIID wrongly told him his emails could not be retrieved. The person forgot to provide the documents relating to activity in his suite until after the grand jury. Then key Lab Notebooks were withheld from him, courtesy of the FBI. Key notebooks from 2001 have still not been produced.

Years later, USAMRIID now has chosen to block the path that might allow Dr. Ivins’ name to be cleared and his alibi tested. Given that the public interest clearly outweighs any countervailing interest in the identification of one animal room in the B3 suite (as it existed in 2001) versus another, USAMRIID will owe attorneys fees. The people deciding the issue appear not to understand Amerithrax or the public interest in knowing why Dr. Ivins was in the lab late on September 28, 29, 30, 2001. It was a failure to understand such operational security issues that led to the decades-long mess in the first place.

Knowing in what room the mice were housed would prove absolutely NOTHING.

And, USAMRIID did not "wrongly" tell Ivins that "his emails could not be retrieved."   Ivins could not explain to the FBI why all the emails for the time of the attacks were deleted from his computer.  According to page 6 of FBI pdf file #847444 (dated March 31, 2005) under the subject "Missing 2001 E-Mail Archive on IVINS' USAMRIID computer" there  is this information:

On January 13, 2005, the hard drive of IVINS' assigned USAMRIID computer was copied by the FBI with his consent.  A review of the hard drive copy revealed that e-mails for the year 2001 appeared to be missing from the hard drive, although e-mail activities for the prior and subsequent years were located.  IVINS was asked by interviewing agents to explain the reason for this omission.

          IVINS advised that he was very surprised by the interviewing Agents' claim that his 2001 e-mails were missing from his hard drive.  IVINS said he archives e-mails by subject, not by date, however, he believes e-mail for this time period should be on his computer.  As he had mentioned in a previous interview, IVINS stated that he is not sure whether his e-mail archives to his hard drive or to USAMRIID's server.  IVINS said that if his 2001 e-mails are on the USAMRIID's server rather than his hard drive, he would allow the FBI to make a copy of them.  IVINS insisted that he did not delete any batches of e-mail from his computer pertaining to the year 2001.

The FBI's experts indicated that Ivins' emails were archived on his office computer, although anything Ivins sent or received might ALSO be archived in the USAMRIID server.  Ivins should have known the emails were in his computer if he archived his emails by subject, since he would be creating directories on his "C" drive, etc.  And, I think I recall he supposedly took backups (which also conveniently disappeared.)  Generally, he wouldn't be able to change the organization of any email archive in the server, but it's possible USAMRIID allowed it.   Either way, Ivins was clearly just playing dumb and giving the FBI another string of lies.  The FBI agents could see that. 

Ivins had been asked about his emails before --  in February of 2003 -- when he was not yet the FBI's prime suspect.  He gave a different story at that time.  On page 25 of FBI pdf file #847443, there is more about this destruction of evidence by Bruce Ivins:

IVINS did not have any email records or electronic calendar records prior to May 2002.  He thought that there may have been a new system installed around that time.

A "new system" wouldn't selectively keep emails from prior to 2001 and after May 2002 while deleting emails from 2001.  It shouldn't affect his email archives at all.  And, who but Ivins would delete his "electronic calendar records"?   This is further evidence that Ivins deliberately deleted his emails and other possibly incriminating records from the time of the attacks and lied to the FBI about it.

Pages 71 - 72 of that same pdf file (#847443) include a March 18, 2004 FBI interview with Dr. Ivins where he talks about trying to retrieve the deleted emails from the USAMRIID server:

          IVINS consulted with XXXXX at USAMRIID Computer Services and learned that electronic mail (email) can be retrieved for a two year period, however it is expensive to do so.  If more than two years have passed, it is not possible to retrieve email.

So, according to Bruce Ivins, it would not have been possible in March 2004 to retrieve his emails from 2001.  If "DXer/Anonymous" believes that in March 2004 "USAMRIID wrongly told him his emails could not be retrieved," and it was all part of some sinister plot by USAMRIID to prevent Ivins from clearing his name (before he was ever accused of anything) and proving he had an "alibi" (before he needed one), "Anonymous" needs to explain what his EVIDENCE is for such a preposterous claim.  Where did he get that idea in the first place?

The FACTS say Ivins deleted his emails from the time of the attacks from his office computer, and then he played dumb about it when questioned by the FBI.  He gave them one false story after another.  The deletion of the emails is further evidence of Ivins' guilt.  It's not part of some sinister plot by USAMRIID or anyone else to prevent Ivins in 2004 (or "DXer/Anonymous" on Friday) from establishing an "alibi" for Ivins. 

The FACTS say Ivins was the anthrax killer.

The FACTS say Ivins was NOT in suite B3 when the mice were being "monitored."

The FACTS say Ivins deleted his own emails.

The FACTS say the belief by "DXer/Anonymous" that he can fish around and find some kind of "alibi" for Ivins if USAMRIID and various other US government agencies would just help him, is PURE FANTASY.

But, when "DXer/Anonymous" doesn't get what he wants, he sometimes starts making vague threats.  And that is what he appears to have done in his post on Friday:

The denial on its face violates the law because there is no written determination that the public interest in being able to test Dr. Ivins’ offered alibi is outweighed by some operational security need. The issue of the mice on September 28, 2001, September 29, 2001, and September 30, 2001 is expressly discussed by the FBI in the Amerithrax Investigation Summary.

In any lawsuit brought by local counsel in Maryland or D.C., or here in Syracuse, USAMRIID will be responsible for attorneys fees.

The issue can be consolidated with USAMRIID’s your failure to provide Mr. Little’s civil deposition even though USAMRIID has a copy and he was the originator of the statement. USAMRIID has a copy provided by DOJ but had Mr. Little’s copy even before that. DOJ has confirmed to USAMRIID that there is no protective order that applies to the civil deposition. The 20 day time period for a “determination” has passed as to that deposition and there is no further exhaustion requirement.

Most of all, when these sorts of obstacles are thrown up, USAMRIID becomes part of the problem and not the solution.

Perhaps the folks at RIID, SJA, OPSEC and MEDCOM just don’t understand the nature of the passive mouse study and the public debate featured by Frontline, ProPublica and McClatchy as to what steps Dr. Ivins took when and what he was doing in late September 2001 and October 2001.

Certainly, if USAMRIID had kept and made available documents — and not spoliated them — Dr. Ivins likely would not have been prevented from reconstructing his time and his suicide might have been avoided. For example, the animal cage cards for the rabbit experiment were thrown out in 2004.

Similarly, Dr. Ivins was wrongly told that USAMRIID could not retrieve his emails. And as for decon records, the employee simply forgot to get them to him in time for his grand jury appearance.

Thank you for months and years at fielding requests. Where the mice and rabbits [were], though, is where the rubber hits the road. It relates to the crux of demolishing what is left of the FBI’s cotton candy “Ivins Theory.”

While all that was going on, I continued to work on the outline for the final chapters of the first draft of my sci-fi novel.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, December 1, 2013, thru Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 4, 2013 - I awoke this morning feeling I really needed to read through my supplemental web page about When and Where Ivins Made the Anthrax Powers to see if anything needed to be changed as a result of the discoveries made over the past few days proving that Bruce Ivins did NOT check on the mice in Patricia Fellows' "Passive Mouse Experiment," as "Anonymous" had been claiming.   And that Ivins most likely sneaked into the Animal Resources Division corridor via the unmonitored door from Suite B5 in order to view Suite B3 through the "crash door."

I made a few changes, including adding the data about what Ivins did on Sept. 30, 2001. 

I also feel that in my previous comments I should have provided a floorplan for the Bacteriology Division and where the Animal Resources corridor is located relative to Suite B3.  The graphic below provides that information.  Click on it for a larger version.

Building 1425 key card readers & keypads

If I had the time to do this floorplan over again, I'd fix it to show that Ivins could not get from the Bacteriology Division Corridor to the Animal Resources Division Corridor via the corridors between Suites B2 & B3 and between Suites B4 & B5.  They were blocked off with steel gates.  Plus, I would have highlighted the door from Suite B5 into the Animal Division Corridor which was NOT controlled by a key card, nor was it a crash door that would sound alarms.  Thus, Ivins could use it to get into the AR corridor.

Why Ivins didn't use the same door to get into AR that he used to get out (and which is right next to his office) is somewhat of a mystery, but it can probably be safely assumed that either (1) his keycard didn't allow him to enter that way, or (2) he felt he'd leave no in-out log trail if he entered via the unmonitored Suite B5 door.

What the debates with "Anonymous" did for me during the past few days is allow me to show solid PROOF that Ivins was NOT checking on test mice during his "unexplained" hours in Suite B3, and there is absolutely NO reason to believe any rabbit experiments which were going on at that time account for any of the "unexplained hours" either.

December 3, 2013 (B) - Ah!  While doing my regular workout on the treadmill at the health club (a.k.a. "gym") this afternoon, all the major pieces for the concluding events in my novel appeared to fall into place - plink, plink, plink.  I just need to lay things out on a chart or in an outline to make certain that I have the sequence of events straight.

Then, on my way home from the health club, I had a second "Aha!" moment.   I realized the most likely reason why Bruce Ivins would repeatedly sneak into the Animal Resources (AR) Division hallway through the door from Bacteriology Suite B5.  I'd aways thought it might have something to do with test animals that were kept there.  But, NO, that is not the reason.

The most likely reason Bruce Ivins would sneak into the AR hallway was because he could see into Suite B3 from there through the window in the crash door. He could see if the person checking on the mice (or any other animals) was still in Suite B3. 

Bacteriology Suite B3 
The Animal Resources Division corridor is  outside the "crash door" which cannot be opened without setting off alarms.   

We don't know if all the lights are turned off when the Suite is empty.  But, it seems likely that the lights in the animal rooms would be turned off when no one is in the rooms at night.  So, through the "crash door" window, Ivins could see if someone was in the animal rooms, and probably anywhere else in Suite B3 all the way to the change rooms.

Here again is Bruce Ivins' in-out log data for September 30, 2001:

In-Out log data for Sept. 30, 2001

 Analyzed and explained:

9:53 - Ivins enters Building 1425
9:55 - Ivins enters the Bacteriology Division Corridor
9:55 - Ivins enters the Men's change room B301 to take off coat
9:56 - Ivins leaves the Men's change room B301.
Ivins goes to Suite B5, which has no key card reader. 
Ivins uses the back door of B5 to sneak into the AR corridor.
From the AR corridor he looks through the crash door into Suite B3. 
He probably sees that Pat Fellows is still in B3
10:06 - Ivins leaves the Animal Resource Division and probably goes to his office
10:34 - Ivins again enters the Bacteriology Division Corridor.
Ivins again goes to B5, he again sneaks into the AR corridor
Ivins again looks into Suite B3.  This time he sees no one is in B3
10:39 - Ivins leaves the AR Division.
10:39 - Ivins again enters the Bacteriology Division Corridor
10:40 - Ivins enters the Men's change room B301
10:44 - Ivins enters the airlock to get into the BSL-3 part of Suite B3 & his lab
Ivins does work related to making anthrax powders
12:02 - Ivins leaves B3 (according to the FBI)

Interestingly, this "finding" was partly spawned by an argument that "Anonymous" tried to start.  He found a document HERE which says that the mice were kept in room B-305.  And he was upset because I stated in my Sunday comment that the mice were "
most likely in Room B-305 (or B-310) of suite B3."  He promptly filed an FOIA request with USAMRIID to find some additional proof that the mice were kept in B305 as he insists, and there was absolutely no reason for me to even suggest that B-310 might have been where the mice were housed.  But, the only reason I suggested it was because of what BRUCE IVINS reportedly told the FBI.

Page 26 in FBI pdf file #847443
HERE describes a look into Bacteriology Suite 3 (B3) that Ivins provided to some FBI agents in February 2003.  It says:

Ivins pointed out the B3 cold room as being on the right side of the hallway when looking through the crash door, with a black box on the door. Room 308 is the pass through to suite B4. The mouse animal room is the third door down on the right when looking through the crash door. The guinea pig room is across the hall with the cleaning supplies for the suite located to the right of the door as the room is entered."

As can be seen from the floor plan above, when looking through the window in the "crash door," the first door on the right inside suite B3 is B-308 which connects to Suite B4, as the FBI report says. The second door on the right is B-309 which was Pat Worsham's lab. The third door on the right is B-310, which according to the FBI recalling what Ivins told them, is the mouse room.

So, maybe "Anonymous" can argue that Ivins was lying when he told the FBI agents that room B-310 was the mouse animal room, and it's really B-305.

But, either way, it was the rant by "Anonymous" that reminded me that people can see into Suite B3 from the Animal Resources corridor by looking through the window in the crash door.  And that seems to be the best explanation for why Ivins sneaked into the AR corridor.

No beliefs.  No opinions.  Just evaluating the facts, ma'm.

Better interpretations of the facts are always welcome - if anyone has any.

December 3, 2013 (A) - I didn't work on my novel at all yesterday -- except to do a lot of thinking about it.  What I have so far ends with setting up a confrontation between the villain's henchmen and the FBI, ATF and the U.S. military in a farm field outside of Washington, D.C.  The idea was that the villain would escape the confrontation and there would be a separate, final confrontation between the villain and the heroes of the novel somewhere within the city of Washington, D.C.  But, now I'm seriously thinking that both confrontations should take place inside Washington, D.C.  It would be much more dramatic.  I just need to figure out how to make that work.

Meanwhile, as usual, I'm also arguing with "Anonymous" on my interactive blog.  Or, more accurately, I'm trying to get him to argue intelligently instead of constantly changing the subject and throwing up "smoke screens" of meaningless documents.

I presented him with some solid facts, which he is just ignoring.  I explained those facts in my Sunday comment, but maybe I should go into more detail here about what those facts truly say and mean.  The best way to do that might be to explain what the FACTS say for just one particular day.  I'll use September 30, 2001.   Here is the claim "Anonymous" made on November 30, 2013:

Under the Mice Protocol, The Animals Were Challenged In B-305 (which is in Suite B3) ; Under This Protocol, Dr. Ivins Was In The B3 Those Nights The AUSA And Investigators Mistakenly Suggested He Had No Reason To Be In That Biolevel-3 Lab

Here are the times the mice were supposedly checked (obtained from Lew Weinstein's blog HERE which comes from page 3 of the pdf file for the original document HERE):

Sept. 30, 2001 mouse check data

This information undeniably shows that on Sunday, 30 Sept. the animals (mice) were checked at 11:00, 11:30, 1500 (3 p.m.), and 2200 (10 p.m.)  The words "Morning," "Afternoon," and "Evening" are even written in the right margin to make things clear.

And, here are Ivins' complete Suite B3 in-out log data for that day (obtained HERE):

9/30/2001 21:55:58 Access Granted In B301 IN/M IVINS, BRUCE E.
9/30/2001 21:56:08 Access Granted Out B301 OUT/M IVINS, BRUCE E.
9/30/2001 22:40:19 Access Granted In B301 IN/M IVINS, BRUCE E.
9/30/2001 22:44:33 Access Granted Normal B301  KEYPAD IVINS, BRUCE E.

The data undeniably says that Ivins entered the B301 Men's locker room at 21:55:58 (9:55 p.m.) and left less than a minute later.  He again entered the B301 Mens locker room at 22:40:19 (10:40 p.m.), changed clothes and entered the airlock into the BSL-3 containment area of Suite B3 four minutes later at 22:44:33.  That Suite contains Room B-305 where "Anonymous" says the mice were "challenged."

So, these FACTS indisputably say Ivins was NOT in Suite B3 where the mice were reportedly challenged at ANY of the times the mice were checked on Sept. 30.  The same can be said for the days prior and after.

These FACTS say, beyond any reasonable doubt, that SOMEONE ELSE (probably Ivins' assistant Patricia Fellows) was checking on the mice.  (It was HER study.)

If that isn't enough evidence, FBI file #847547, page 55, provides Ivins in-out log data for all of building 1425 for all of Sunday, September 30, 2001:

In-out log data for Sept. 30, 2001

This data says Ivins entered the building at 9:53 PM.  He then entered the corridor that runs along side all of the Bacteriology Division Suites at 9:55 PM.  The next in-out data is the same as previously noted.  Then the FBI log data says that after Ivins left the B301 men's locker room at 9:56 PM, he evidently went to Suite B5 where there is a door into the Animal Resources Division (AR) that doesn't have a key card reader.  It's opened by a key (that no one is supposed to use).  That is the only way he could EXIT the Animal Resources Division at 10:06 PM without first logging that he had entered.

He exited into the Administrative Area and then about a half hour later, at 10:34 PM he entered once again entered the corridor that leads to the Bacteriology suites.  And, again he goes through Suite B5 into the Animal Resources Division and again exits into AR, this time at 10:39 PM.  And within a minute he walks to the entrance to the Bacteriology Division and enters that corridor.  Then the log shows the same as the other log data, he entered men's locker room B301 at 10:40 and four minutes later went into the airlock to get into the BSL-3 part of Suite B3.   (He didn't leave until after midnight.  Handwritten FBI notes on the log says Ivins "Exits @ 12:02 a.m." on Oct. 1st.)

In my web page about Where and When Ivins Made the Anthrax Powders I have floor plans for Building 1425 and for Suite B3 which will clarify what I stated above.  I even have charts for August 20, 2001, which show Ivins doing the same thing as he did on September 30, i.e., enter the Animal Resources area via the locked door from Suite B5.

The question now is: How can "Anonymous" continue to claim that Ivins was checking on mice during the hours when he was in Suite B3, when the FACTS undeniably show that Bruce E. Ivins was NOT in Suite B3 when the mice were being checked.

Moreover, how can "Anonymous" argue that Ivins was checking on rabbits during this time?  He cannot even present any evidence of when Ivins was checking on rabbits, where the rabbits were kept, or that Ivins did any checking of the rabbits at all!  All he has is an email from October 5
(from email batch 35, page 20) which shows that Ivins was somehow informed of the days when some of the rabbits died, and he has Ivins' notebook #4241 which shows on pages 16-20 that Ivins didn't know and didn't record any data of the times when the rabbits died.  "Anonymous"merely believes that Bruce Ivins was checking on rabbits during the time the FBI says Ivins was making the anthrax powders.  And, his beliefs are all he needs to be absolutely certain of anything.

And, if anyone has solid evidence showing he is wrong, he'll change the subject -- or he'll produce an endless stream of meaningless documents with no explanation of what he is trying to prove, claim or argue.

December 1, 2013 - I've been trying to work on my new sci-fi novel, but I keep getting interrupted by "Anonymous" posting rants to my interactive blog.   Right now, I'm on Chapter 26 of my novel, with 39,100 words written.  So, the first version will probably come out to be about 30 chapters and about 45,000 words.  I'm at the point where I need to develop a good ending.  But, first I feel a need to resolve some issues that "Anonymous" brought up last week.

Up until now, I've been trying to argue with "Anonymous" without forcing him to explain his claims.  As a result very little gets resolved, because there's no way to know exactly what he's claiming.  For example, he's been using this chart from lab notebook #4583 for years to argue something:

Page from notebook 4583

"Anonymous's" version of this notebook chart is on a thread on Lew Weinstein's blog that is dated June 3, 2011, with this subject:

Dr. Ivins’ lab notebook establishes that there were lots of dead mice and dead rabbits on the precise dates that the prosecutors and investigators speculate, without basis, that Dr. Bruce Ivins was making a dried powder out of Flask 1029 — such as the FBI anthrax expert had done in August 2000 at the request of DARPA

His version of that page shows the words "Mouse" in the title and "Rabbit" in the right- most column heading highlighted in blue.  It appears that at that time it was believed by "Anonymous" that the "rabbit" column represented the results of checking on the  rabbits that were undergoing vaccine challenges during the first week of October 2001.

His comment (posting as "DXer') on that same date only mentions rabbits.  It shows an email from Ivins dated October 5, 2001 (from email batch 35, page 20), which says:

Group A – 24 rabbits (12 males, 12 females) get PA (50 ug)/Alhydrogel (0.5 mg)/PBS/0.02% formaldehyde at 0 weeks. Challenge (subcutaneous) at 6 weeks with about 100 LD50 Ames spores.
Group B – 24 rabbits (12 males, 12 females) get PA (50 ug)/Alhydrogel (0.5 mg)/PBS/No formaldehyde at 0 weeks. Challenge (subcutaneous) at 6 weeks with about 100 LD50 Ames spores.
Group C – 4 rabbits (2 males, 2 females) get PBS/Alhydrogel (0.5 mg) at 0 weeks. Challenge (subcutaneous) at 6 weeks with about 100 LD50 Ames spores.

2) Results so far, 3 days after challenge:

Group Survived/Total

A – Vaccine plus formaldehyde 24/24 (no deaths)

B – Vaccine minus formaldehyde 16/24 (8 deaths)

C – Controls 0/4 (4 deaths)

But, now it appears that the chart only represents the results of tests done on mice by someone other than Ivins.  Notebook #4583 was used by Ivins and someone whose name is redacted on the cover and inside the notebook.   (In a comment on Lew Weinstein's blog today, "DXer" appears to claim that person was Ivins' assistant Patricia Fellows, but his post is very cryptic.  The form at the top of the thread indicates only the other person would "monitor the animals.")  In the notebook page prior to the chart (page 2 of the pdf file), there is a comment: "After discussing this with Bruce Ivins, I've decided to repeat the experiment with some changes."  So, it's clear that part of the notebook was not written by Ivins.  And the last line on that page says: "Results from the second passive mouse expt. are found on the next page."  The next page has the graph.

What I noticed when this chart was brought to my attention in 2011 was that it appeared that Ivins was not in Suite B3 during the times the animals were checked.  I accepted the implication from "DXer" that the chart represented Ivins work with animals.  Therefore, my conclusion was that Ivins had to leave Suite B3 to check on the animals. 

But, now it appears that the chart represents the other person's checks on the animals, and those animals were most likely in Room B-305 (or B-310) of suite B3.  So, it really says nothing about what Ivins was doing.  But it seems to say that the other person was coming into Suite B3 at night to check on the mice.  Unfortunately, we don't have any in-out records for when that other person entered B3 to check on the mice.  We just have this comment from page 34 of the Anthrax Investigative Summary:

Building 1425: There were 14 people who had access to the hot suites where RMR-1029 was created and stored in September and October 2001 – the relevant time period leading up to the mailings. Except for Dr. Ivins, all of these individuals visited the lab only during standard works hours, with a few limited exceptions. Each person who went into the lab at off-hours had legitimate and demonstrable reasons to be in the hot suites at the times they were there. None of these people was alone in the lab for the lengthy period of time required to grow, harvest, purify, and dry the spores and to load the letters under a protective hood. A comparison of the off-hours of Dr. Ivins to those of these other researchers reinforces the conclusion that Dr. Ivins’s hours were suspicious.

But, while I thought that Ivins' in-out records showed him leaving Suite B3 to check on the animals, it now appears that the in-out records show that Ivins left Suite B3 (or made a point of not being in Suite B3) whenever the other person was checking on the mice.  On my interactive blog I posted this (corrected to eliminate references to rabbits):

27 Sept. -  Mouse check at 1:30 p.m.
In-out log says Ivins left B3 at 12:03 p.m.

28 Sept. - Mouse check at 8:30 a.m.
In-out log says Ivins did not use keypad to enter B3 until 1:48 p.m.

29 Sept. - Mouse check at 11:30 a.m.
In-out logs says Ivins doesn't use keypad to enter B3 until 8:22 P.M.

29 Sept. - Mouse check at 10 p.m.
In-out logs say Ivins left B3 at 9:42 p.m.

30 Sept. - Mouse check at 11 and 11:30 a.m.
30 Sept. - Mouse check at 3 p.m.
30 Sept. - Mouse check at 10 pm.
In-out log says Ivins doesn't use keypad to enter B3 until 10:45 p.m.

01 Oct. - Mouse check at 8:30 a.m.
In-out logs say Ivins doesn't enter B3 until 8:40 a.m.

01 Oct. - Mouse check at 1:30 p.m.
In-out logs say Ivins left B3 at 12:30 p.m. and didn't return until 10:19 p.m.

02 Oct. - Mouse check at 1:30 p.m.
In-out logs say Ivins left B3 at 9:40 a.m. and returned at 2:34 p.m.

02 Oct. - Mouse check at 10 p.m.
In-out logs say Ivins left B3 at 8:29 p.m.

03 Oct. - Mouse check at 9 a.m.
In-out logs say Ivins didn't enter B3 until 10:50 a.m.

03 Oct. - Mouse check at 1:30 p.m.
In-out logs says Ivins left B3 at 11:42 a.m. and didn't reenter until 7:32 p.m.

04 Oct. - Mouse check at 1:30 p.m.
04 Oct. - Mouse check at 2:30 p.m.
In-out logs says Ivins entered the B3 area at 2:32 p.m.

05 Oct. - Mouse check at 10 a.m.
05 Oct. - Mouse check at 1:30 p.m.
In-out logs say Ivins first entered the B3 area at 1:35 p.m..

So, in every instance from 27 September through 5 October, Ivins was NOT in Suite B3 when the mice were being checked.  This clearly says the checking on mice had nothing to do with his unexplained overtime hours.  But, more interestingly, it poses the question: Why does it appear that Ivins avoided being in B3 when the other person was checking on the mice?  How many times are needed to indicate it was not a coincidence?

We do not have the in-out logs for the other person, but they would sure come in handy to resolve the question of how long it took a person to check on animals.  "Anonymous" endlessly and preposterously claims that it would take two hours.  He uses a comment Mara Linscott made to the FBI about how long it took her when she had to come in on a weekend to check on animals.  She seems to have said it took two hours out of her weekend to drive to USAMRIID, to go into the lab, to check the animals, to shower and decontaminate, to leave the lab, and to get back home again.  But, "Anonymous" interprets it to mean it ALWAYS took two hours to check on test animals, even if you are already working inside B3 where the animals are located.

If we had the in-out logs for the other person, we could see how long he had to be in Suite B3 at night (and day) to check on the mice.  But, I don't really care enough to want to resolve the question by trying to get that information from USAMRIID via an FOIA request.  (And I tend to doubt that they'd give it to me anyway, since the other person is an innocent bystander and it would provide information about that innocent bystander.)

"Anonymous" mostly argues that Ivins was tending to 52 rabbits in the evenings during the first week of October 2001.  But, he provides NOTHING to PROVE that Ivins was doing anything with rabbits that required overtime during that week.  He constantly refers to notebook #4241 as if it proves something.  But that notebook only has question marks under the columns created to show the dates the rabbits died (see pages 16-20).

He refers to a protocol which says: "Ivins will help immunize and challenge the rabbits."  But who is he helping?  Veterinarians?  Animal handlers?  And why would anyone immunize animals at night?

Did veterinarians and animal handlers also enter Suite B3 at night?  Did they do any of the work that "Anonymous" claims was all done by Ivins?

And, all this is about checking on animals around the time Ivins was preparing anthrax powders for the SECOND mailing.  It says absolutely nothing at all about his unexplained time in his lab prior to the FIRST mailing.

So, what is my point with all this?  I guess my point is that I'm tired of arguing with "Anonymous."  I've got a novel to write.  But, I also know that if I stop arguing, he'll claim it is because I have no valid response to his claims.  So, I'm just going to have to demand he provide evidence and explanations of the evidence, instead of constantly bringing up irrelevant matters which prove nothing.  The mouse chart proves NOTHING.  Notebook #4241 proves NOTHING.  The protocol for the rabbit challenges (#B01-11) proves NOTHING.   If he believes any of those documents proves something, he's going to have to explain WHAT it proves and HOW it proves it.

That's the plan, anyway.  The problem is: once in a great while, "Anonymous" provides something interesting, like a link to a CIA "Analysis Training Handbook" found HERE.

It looks very interesting.  But when will I find time to read it?

A quick glance found this on page 9 of the pdf file (page 4 of the handbook):

[A] Review [of a finding] shouldn't take place in a vacuum.

When major differences emerge and you feel your objectivity is being threatened, you should meet with the reviewer to justify your conclusions.

You must be prepared to discuss how you arrived at your judgment, what your evidence is, and what alternative conclusions you rejected and why.

Try to understand the logic in the reviewer's explanation of why he or she is challenging your analysis.

That's the way I believe I do things.  I lay out the facts and explain how those facts caused me to arrived at a conclusion or hypothesis.  That certainly is NOT the way Anthrax Truther do things.  They cannot explain how they arrived at their conclusion.  The cannot explain what their evidence is or what it means.  They cannot explain why they reject alternative conclusions.  They do not try to understand the other's point of view and why he or she is challenging the Anthrax Truther's analysis.

That's why they're called "Truthers."  They know "the Truth," and they cannot be bothered with explaining their reasoning to people who challenge "the Truth" and thus must be too ignorant to understand or even see "the Truth" that "Truthers" see.   

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 24, 2013, thru Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 26, 2013 - Damn!  I awoke this morning full of story ideas and anxious to get back to work on my book.  Then I saw there were 7 or 8 posts to my interactive blog by "Anonymous" (one appeared to be a duplicate, and I deleted it), and later he sent me three emails.   None said anything of value, but I spent hours digging through documents to see if I could find any point to them all, other than that he believes that if there was work to be done, Ivins must have done it during those "unexplained" hours Ivins spent in Suite B3 when the DOJ (and the facts) says he was making anthrax powders.

The one FACT "Anonymous" argued that I could check out turned out to be an error on his part that he made before.  He wrote:

On October 4, 2001, at 9:57 P.M., a time when the FBI speculates that Bruce Ivins was making a dried powdered anthrax, he sent an email explaining he had been reading the news on the internet; he offered a possible explanation about Mr. Stevens’ illness identical to that accepted by the CDC regarding a recent case of inhalation anthrax contracted in 2011 by another man from Florida

And he provided a link to Lew Weinstein's web site where there's a thread that says the same thing.  That thread is dated November 7, 2011.

It's nonsense, of course.  According to my web page on where and when Ivins made the anthrax powders, on October 4, 2001, at 9:57 P.M, Ivins was NOT in his B3 Suite:

Date (2001)
(evenings only)
Time in
Building 1425
Time in
Time in
Suite B3 (approx)
October 4 6:10 - 6:55
7:22 - 10:12
6:19 - 6:55
7:23 - 9:34
10:07 - 10:12
6:21 - 6:55
7:25 - 9:24
According to the in-out logs, Ivins went through the airlock in Suite B3 at 9:24 PM and (after probably spending 10 minutes in the locker room) left the Bacteriology division at 9:34 PM, but he did not leave the building.  Since he sent out an email at 9:57 PM, it can be safely assumed that he was in his office using his computer there.  The logs also show that he re-entered the Bacteriology Division a 10:07 PM, but he did not go through the airlock into Suite B3.  So, he apparently only changed clothes in the locker room.  Then, five minutes later, he left the Bacteriology Divison and building 1425 at 10:12 PM.

And, if you check my (A) comment for November 7, 2011, you'll see I explained the same error by Anthrax Truthers back then.  But, "Anonymous" doesn't recall any evidence that disproves his beliefs.  He didn't correct the error.  He just brings up the same augument again as if he wasn't proved to be totally wrong two years ago.

And I've just wasted the entire morning arguing with him about it!    

November 24, 2013 -
Last week provided no "news" of any kind about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  That's fully understandable, since the attacks happened more than 12 years ago.  But, last week also showed me that there are some nearly forgotten things about the case that need remembering.

Last week,  "Anonymous" on my interactive blog tried to make some kind of point about the evening of September 25, 2001, when Bruce Ivins spent a few overtime hours in his lab cleaning ceiling light covers.   "Anonymous" has been arguing endlessly for over two years that Ivins had totally valid reasons for being in his lab at night (specifically to tend to 52 rabbits being used in vaccine tests), and therefore the claim by the FBI that Ivins was spending that unaccounted-for time making anthrax powders is invalid

During those two years, "Anonymous" hasn't been able to provide any meaningful evidence of any kind that Ivins spent any significant evening or weekend time tending to rabbits instead of making anthrax powders.  Then, apparently without understanding what he was talking about, last week he made a point that on the night of Sept. 25th, Bruce Ivins had a valid and documented reason for being in his lab at night, and it did NOT involve making anthrax powders.

Since he pays no attention to any facts which do not help him prove his own theory, he neglected to notice that Ivins' work on the evening of Sept. 25 helped to show that, while Ivins had good reason to work overtime that night, he also had no reason to be making anthrax powders that night

In my web page about when and where Ivins made the anthrax powders, I show that the night of the 25th stands out like a tree in a desert, because it was between mailings, when Ivins was waiting for his first set of anthrax letters he'd mailed to have their effect:

Ivins evening hours in B3

The chart above illustrates that Ivins finished making the powders for the media letters on the 16th of September.  The facts say  that, on the night of Monday, Sept. 17th Ivins drove to Princeton and mailed the anthrax-filled letters to Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, the New York Post and the National Enquirer.  So, he was NOT in his lab that night.  He was not checking on rabbits.  He was not making anthrax powders.

And he had no reason to go into Suite B3 the next night, either. Or the next.  Or the next.  Why?  Because he was waiting to see what effect the anthrax letters would have. 

For ten days, he had no reason to go into his lab during off-hours -- except on the 25th, when his new boss told him to clean up his lab. 

He waited ten days to see what kind of panic his first mailing would create.  But, there was absolutely nothing in the news about any anthrax letters. 

So, on Sept. 28th, the chart shows he went to work on making a more refined powder to put into a new set of anthrax letters.  The chart shows he finished that work on Oct. 5.  The facts say Ivins again drove to New Jersey and mailed the two letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy on the 6th or 7th.  Then, according to the chart, he once again sat around waiting for the reaction to what he'd done.  

Because of the Columbus Day holiday, it took awhile for there to be any reaction to the second mailing.  While he waited, he had little or no reason to go into his BSL-3 lab.

The chart shows it is absolutely clear that Ivins was NOT tending to any rabbits in the evenings during either waiting period.

If Ivins needed to work evenings to tend to the 52 rabbits during "early October" as "Anonymous" endlessly claims, and that explains his overtime hours.  What explains the waiting periods after the mailings when Ivins did NOT go into his lab?  Why didn't he need to tend to the rabbits during those periods?

The waiting periods aren't part of the DOJ's case against Ivins.   Only the unexplained overtime hours are part of the evidence.  "Anonymous" claims that Ivins was doing normal work during that period.  But, if "Anonymous" claims that Ivins was tending to rabbits during some vague period around that time, is it too much to ask that he show us documentation proving an alternative explanation for what the above chart shows?

Why did Ivins have to tend to the rabbits ONLY during the time the FBI (and the chart) says he was making  the anthrax powders, and why didn't Ivins have to tend to the rabbits during the time the chart says Ivins was NOT making powders, when Ivins was just waiting around for his anthrax letters to be delivered and cause panic? 

Clearly, "Anonymous" is going to believe what he wants to believe regardless of what any facts say.  And, anyone who won't help "Anonymous" find facts to prove his beliefs is just ignorant and uninformed and prefers to stay that way.  "Anonymous" knows "the truth."  It's not his job to explain "the truth" to others.  If the others prefer to accept the mountain of evidence provided by the FBI and the Department of Justice showing Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer, well .... that just shows how uncaring and ignorant some people can be.  And, it appears "Anonymous" is getting fed up with all the people who refuse to accept his beliefs, since he posted this yesterday on Lew Weinstein's blog:

The strain Al Qaeda was using is still classifed and withheld.

I’m telling you — plain and simple — that Al Qaeda was using the virulent Ames strain and there cannot be continued delay in having that declassified and made known.

To let some government bureaucrats hide that fact from the public just because they thought they would get in trouble for negligently allowing the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings to occur is wrong.

FBI, CIA, USAMRIID, DIA, DARPA, the Joint Chiefs — people are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

On the merits of the cotton candy “Ivins Theory,” Vahid Majidi and others are still actively playing hide-the-ball.

For example, as recently as September 2013, Vahid Majidi knowingly failed to correct themselves on whether Dr. Ivins had reason to be in the lab.

After years of withholding the documents relating to the 52 rabbits for years they now just pretend not to know about them.

The issue is far too serious to suffer fools gladly.

Declassify and disclose the strain that Al Qaeda was using NOW.

That appears to be a direct order from a True Believer.

And, since "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous") understands nothing about logic or criminal investigations, he would never understand why the FBI would not and should not release such information.


Now for something off-topic: Yesterday, I decided to go back to the old-fashioned way of doing things.  (See my Nov. 6 comment.)  I removed the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) from my kitchen and replaced it with an old-fashioned 60-watt light bulb. It was either that or go out and buy a "Bright From the Start" CFL.   And, I have about a dozen 60-watt bulbs stored in a closet, so there was no justification for buying anything new.

I have no problem with the other CFLs that were installed in my apartment as part of the scheme conjured up between my landlord and "Focus On Energy," but the CFL they put in the kitchen ceiling light was just too much of an annoyance.  There are just too many times that I would go into the kitchen for just a second or two, and while there, I wanted more light than the dim glow given off by a CFL during its initial warm up period.  

To get more light, I'd started turning on the chandelier over the dining area table instead of (and sometimes in addition to) the kitchen ceiling light.  The chandelier has FIVE flame- shaped light bulbs (NOT-CFLs) in it.

There's nothing and no one forbidding me from changing the bulb and going back to the old-fashioned type.  I pay for the electricity I use, so I'm the one losing money (or gaining money by not using the chandelier).  Truthers can call me a "rebel against progress" or say I'm "stuck in the past," but I gave that particular CFL a two-week try, and it was more of an annoyance than it was worth in energy savings.  The other CFLs are no problem.  So, Truthers can also claim I'm "inconsistent."

Meanwhile, in case anyone is interested, I'm on page 164 of my new novel, with 34,300 words written so far.  It's beginning to look like the first draft won't reach 60,000 words.  But, it's the second draft where all the details are filled in.  And, details use lots of words.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 17, 2013, thru Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 22, 2013 - Since everyone is remembering John F. Kennedy today, I suppose it's appropriate for me to mention where I was when I learned that President Kennedy had been shot.   I was getting ready to work the midnight shift at an airbase in Northern Japan.  I turned on the radio to listen to music while getting dressed, and the Armed Forces Radio station was talking about the shooting in Dallas.

I banged on the door of my sergeant's room.  Through the door, obviously still in bed, he asked what was wrong. 

"President Kennedy has been shot," I told him.

"So what do you want me to do?" he asked.

I thought for a second, then said, "Remember who told you about it."

Someone in another room had heard me and called, "Is he dead?"

"I don't know.  I think so," I replied.

The radio was on when I got to the weather station.  So everyone there already knew about it.  No one said much.

In town the next day, the Japanese people I knew treated me as if I'd just lost a father or brother.  They seemed more saddened by it than most of the Americans I knew.

A few days later, I bought a copy of a Japanese magazine with a cover story about the assassination.  I think I still have it in a box in some closet.

And that was about it.  I don't think I ever mentioned any of that to anyone before.  But, it's now part of the record -- for as long as Internet archives last.

I should also mention that I actually saw JFK once.  He was sitting atop the back seat of a convertible as he drove through the streets of Kansas City, MO, while compaigning against Nixon.  And, I actually saluted Vice President Richard Nixon when his plane landed at Chanute AFB, near Rantoul, Illinois a month or two earlier.

November 21, 2013 - These days, the news on the Internet is really filled with articles about conspiracy theories.   Mostly they're about theories related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which occurred fifty years ago tomorrow.   A story in USA Today is about a conspiracy theory that Lyndon Johnson was behind the assassination.  Another article on CNN.com has a video showing the interview Lee Harvey Oswald did with the media after the assassination.  The article I find most interesting is a different one on CNN.com.  According to that article, author Vincent Bugliosi claims that a
t one time or another, doubters of the lone gunman theory "have accused 42 groups, 82 assassins and 214 people of being involved in the assassination."  That sounds about right to me.

The article also mentions a supposed "anti-conspiracy guy" named Dave Perry who spends his time debunking the skeptics and conspiracy theorists:

Perry, a 70-year-old retired former insurance claims adjuster from Massachusetts, has been digging through JFK assassination records since 1976 to address those skeptics. ....

"I don't do the sexy stuff," Perry said. "I don't come out and say, 'I know who the Grassy Knoll assassin is!' I'm the guy that goes into the county records building and looks up deed records. Most people don't get too wound up over that."  .....

Perry guesses he spends a "couple hundred hours" each October and November doing research and consulting. After all that, you can imagine he's heard a lot of theories.

According to Perry, the most popular JFK conspiracy theories are:

1. "LBJ had it done"
2. The "military industrial complex" did it
3. "The mob" did it
4. "Oswald acted alone as part of an unknown conspiracy"
5. "The CIA did it"

Perry evidently hasn't totally debunked #4.  He still wonders about the theory that the Russians had something to do with the assassination, since Lee Harvey Oswald visited the Russian embassy in Mexico City a few weeks before the assassination.

Maybe he needs to spend more time trying to get conspiracy theorists to explain their theories and less time trying to prove that vague theories cannot possibly be true.  How do you prove the Russians were NOT involved?  I wouldn't even try.  I'd demand that the conspiracy theoriests prove that the Russians WERE involved.  And, until they do so, I'll just consider it another unproved theory believed by people who want to believe that there was some kind of conspiracy or that the government is incompetent and can't perform any kind of thorough investigation.

Another totally unrelated story in the news that I find a lot more interesting than JFK conspiracy theories is the one about the Boeing Dreamlifter that landed at the wrong airport in Kansas last night.  The gigantic aircraft ideally requires a runway at least 9,000 feet long to take off, and it landed at an airport that has a runway only 6,100 feet long.  Here's a picture of a couple Boeing Dreamliners:

Boeing Dreamlifter

They've brought in a new (presumably more experienced) crew, the plane is nearly empty of fuel, and the weather conditions are good, so, they're going to try to take off at noon today to fly the 8 miles to McConnell Air Force Base near Witchita, where the Dreamlifter was supposed to have landed in the first place. 

The incident is of particular interest to me because, one night many years ago, I was at my weather observer desk in the tower at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base near Kansas City, Missouri, when a plane that was supposed to be landing there, landed instead at a Olathe Naval Air Station in Kansas, about 25 miles away.

I vividly recall the tower operator speaking the plane's call sign and asking,

"What is your location?"
"We just touched down," the pilot answered.
"Not at this airfield you didn't," the tower operator said.

By that time I was on my feet and looking for the plane, too.  The tower operator changed frequencies and called the tower at Olathe.  Yes, indeed, the plane had landed there and they were trying to contact it.  It was all over in a matter of minutes.  The plane took off again and flew to Richards-Gebaur where they had some "esplaining to do".

UPDATE at 2:50 p.m.: According to CNN, the Dreamlifter took off from the small airport this afternoon without incident and landed a few minutes later at McConnell AFB where it was originally supposed to land.

November 18, 2013 - On Saturday, I set my DVR to record a made-for-TV movie called "The Challenger Disaster" on the Science Channel.  I watched it last night.  (There are reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times.  It's going to air again three times tonight.  This week's schedule is HERE.)  The movie was based upon Dr. Richard P. Feynman's book about his work on the commission that investigated the Challenger disaster, "What Do You Care What Other People Think?"

I thought it was a very good and very interesting movie.  It says a lot about using logic and reason to find the answers to questions while ignoring opinions, beliefs and pressures all around you.  Plus, Dr. Feynman was a hero of mine.

Here are some of his more famous quotes that definitely apply to my arguments with Anthrax Truthers:

It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.

In my library, I have a hardback copy of his book about the Challenger disaster, which I read years ago.  But, I really liked the book he wrote earlier, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"  I have a heavily underlined paperback copy in front of me as I'm writing this.  It's interesting that so much of it applies to my arguments with Anthrax Truthers, particularly when Dr. Feynman discussed what he learned while he was teaching physics classes as a professor at Princeton.  Here's a paragraph I underlined on page 23:

I don't know what's the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding; they learn by some other way -- by rote, or something.  Their knowledge is so fragile!

From page 192:

After a lot of investigation, I finally figured out that the students had memorized everything, but they didn't know what anything meant.

From page 193:

So, you see, they could pass the examinations, and "learn" all this stuff, and not know anything at all, except what they had memorized.

And from page 194:

          One other thing I could never get them to do was to ask questions.  Finally, a student explained it to me: "If I ask you a question about the lecture, afterwards everybody will be telling me, 'What are you wasting our time for in the class?  We're trying to learn something.  And you're stopping him by asking a question'."
          It was a kind of one-upmanship, where nobody knows what's going on, and they'd put the other one down as if they did know.  They all fake that they know, and if one student admits for a moment that something is confusing by asking a question, the others take a high-handed attitude, acting as if it's not confusing at all, telling him that he's wasting their time.
          I explained how useful it was to work together, to discuss the questions, to talk it over, but they wouldn't do that either, because it would be losing face if they had to ask someone else.

And from page 224:

I can't understand anything in general unless I'm carrying along in my mind a specific example and watching it go.  Some people think in the beginning that I'm kind of slow and I don't understand the problem, because I ask a lot of those "dumb" questions.

One great thing about this Internet Age is that if you want to listen to Dr. Feynman's lectures or hear him speak on some topic, you can just go to
YouTube.com, do a search for "Richard P. Feynman" and then spend hours listening to him talk about how dumb he is about certain subjects, about all the mistakes he's made in his lifetime, and how he seems to view things from different angles that most other people.  Click HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE for a few examples.  And, it even appears that you can listen to his book "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" by clicking HERE.   There are dozens of videos.

If only there were more than 24 hours in a day!  

And if only there were some way to get Anthrax Truthers to understand what Richard Feynman was saying about The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, instead of doing as Truthers always seem to do: Truthers start with a belief and then look only for opinions and theories they can use to argue that their belief is correct.  Facts mean nothing.  And anyone who disagrees with them is simply assumed to be wrong.

November 17, 2013 - Last week, I spent way way way too much time arguing with "Anonymous" on my interactive blog.  It's like arguing with my TV set.  "Anonymous" just endlessly spews out his beliefs and claims, and nothing I say in response means anything to him.  Worst of all, he seems totally incapable of explaining anything to support his claims.  Like a TV, he just rambles on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.  His current favorite topic is how I am imperfect and how I sometimes make mistakes.  When I point out his mistakes, he then changes the subject.

But, like a TV, sometimes he says something interesting.  In one post, he brought up an opinion poll I conducted in June 2002: "ANTHRAX - Who did it?"  The poll was conducted on the "alt.true-crime" newsgroup.  (The poll can be viewed by clicking HERE, but you may have to  click on the arrow inside a circle symbol after the word "authors" which provides "Topic Options," and one "topic option" is "Expand All" which provides the best view of all the responses and comments in the thread.)

Here is what I wrote to initiate the poll:

As far as I know, there has never been an opinion poll on who
Americans think MAILED the anthrax.

Who do you think MAILED the anthrax?

1.  An al Qaeda member?
2.  An agent of Iraq?
3.  A right wing American extremist group?
4.  An American scientist acting alone?
5.  The CIA?
6.  Someone else?

If you are not an American, please mention your country in your

The final tally:

1 vote for Michael Newton (no explanation of which Michael Newton)
1 vote for the Roswell aliens
2 votes for Right Wing extremists
1 vote for "an Israeli national"
1 vote for Carl Rove
1 vote for Bill Clinton
2 votes for Al Qaeda
1 vote for my mother
3 votes for an American scientist
1 vote for the band "anthrax"
1 vote for "a Republican researcher"
1 vote for "an anti-abortion terrorist"
1 vote for the CIA.

The "official" conclusion:

"on the Internet when people are asked for their opinion the vast majority prefer to just make wise cracks."

Interestingly, one of the votes for "an American scientist" appears to be a vote from "Anonymous" using a different name: "Maurice."  "Maurice's" vote incoherently rambles on and on and on the same way "Anonymous" does, and on the same subjects.  And, here is how "Maurice" phrased his vote as to who mailed the anthrax letters:

A US scientist recruited by Zawahiri in 1980 who then worked for the US Army where he obtained the Ames strain, who had the means, motive and opportunity.

Presumably, "Maurice" meant a US scientist who worked for the US Army, not that Zawahiri worked for the US Army in 1980.  Some quick research indicates that in 1980 Zawahiri was in Pakistan meeting with Osama bin Laden.  "Maurice" doesn't explain how Zawahiri could have recruited a US Army scientist with access to the Ames strain if Zawahiri was in Pakistan, but, then, nothing "Maurice" or "Anonymous" writes ever make much sense.  "Anonymous" can only ask meaningless questions.  Answering questions or explaining his claims seems to be a totally alien concept.

Last week, I created the cartoon below to start a discussion thread for my blog on the subject of reading versus understanding what is read.

Standup comic telling rabbit joke

The arguments with "Anonymous" prevented me from getting much done on my new sci-fi novel, but I'm at a transition point in the book, and I may need to pause to figure things out before I go much further.   The main characters are now in Washington D.C. and ready to use their "gizmo" invention to help solve a major crime.  But, I haven't settled on exactly what major terrorist crime they are going to help solve.   When I'm not arguing with "Anonymous," the old brain is churning over options and ideas like crazy.  And there's always the possibility that the arguments with "Anonymous" might suggest or somehow bring about a good idea for the climactic events in the book.

BTW, in case anyone is interested, when I reached the 31% completed point in reading "Across China on Foot," I decided I needed a break from descriptions of the grim life in China in 1910, and I started reading "Roughing It" by Mark Twain, published in 1872.  It begins with a stage coach trip Twain, his brother and another passenger George Bemis took from the Missouri  frontier to Nevada in 1861, and it's as funny as hell.  (The cost for such a trip was $125 per person, with a 25 lb. limit on baggage per person.  It also involved changing horses every ten miles.)  A couple snippets from "Roughing It":

I was armed to the teeth with a pitiful little Smith & Wesson's seven-shooter, which carried a ball like a homoeopathic pill, and it took the whole seven to make a dose for an adult. But I thought it was grand.


He wore in his belt an old original "Allen" revolver, such as irreverent people called a "pepper-box." Simply drawing the trigger back, cocked and fired the pistol. As the trigger came back, the hammer would begin to rise and the barrel to turn over, and presently down would drop the hammer, and away would speed the ball. To aim along the turning barrel and hit the thing aimed at was a feat which was probably never done with an "Allen" in the world. But George's was a reliable weapon, nevertheless, because, as one of the stage-drivers afterward said, "If she didn't get what she went after, she would fetch something else." And so she did. She went after a deuce of spades nailed against a tree, once, and fetched a mule standing about thirty yards to the left of it. Bemis did not want the mule; but the owner came out with a double-barreled shotgun and persuaded him to buy it, anyhow. It was a cheerful weapon—the "Allen." Sometimes all its six barrels would go off at once, and then there was no safe place in all the region round about, but behind it.

persuaded to buy a dead mule

Much of the time during the trip, Mark Twain, his brother and other passengers had to lay atop mail bags that were being carried inside the stage coach because every other storage place in and atop the coach was already full of mail bags:

Whenever the stage stopped to change horses, we would wake up, and try to recollect where we were—and succeed—and in a minute or two the stage would be off again, and we likewise. We began to get into country, now, threaded here and there with little streams. These had high, steep banks on each side, and every time we flew down one bank and scrambled up the other, our party inside got mixed somewhat. First we would all be down in a pile at the forward end of the stage, nearly in a sitting posture, and in a second we would shoot to the other end, and stand on our heads. And we would sprawl and kick, too, and ward off ends and corners of mail- bags that came lumbering over us and about us; and as the dust rose from the tumult, we would all sneeze in chorus, and the majority of us would grumble, and probably say some hasty thing, like: "Take your elbow out of my ribs!—can't you quit crowding?"

Reading "Roughing It" prompted me to check to see if "The Innocents Abroad" was also available for free for my Kindle.  It is.  So, I downloaded it. And so is "A Tramp Abroad," which I've owned as a hardback for many years, but never read.  If or when I get to it, I'll have to decide if I want to read the hardback version or the Kindle version.  I never expected to say this, but I'll probably read it on my Kindle.

Busy busy busy.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 10, 2013, thru Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 14, 2013 - While I've been trying to focus on writing my new sci-fi novel, the Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog has been posting numerous posts as "Anonymous" to my interactive blog.  For some unclear reason he has suddenly started to emphatically argue once again that the so-called J-Lo letter sent to Jennifer Lopez c/o The Sun magazine in September 2001 contained anthrax.  The #1 basis for such a belief is the CDC report from October 2002 which said,

The index patient’s [Bob Stevens'] infection most likely occurred from inhalation of B. anthracis spores following a primary aerosolization, i.e., spores released into the air after opening a spore-containing letter. This scenario is consistent with co-workers’ recollections that the index patient held a letter containing powder over his computer keyboard, as well as environmental samples showing contamination at his keyboard, an incoming-mail desk near his workspace, and his mailroom mailbox.

Perhaps the deluge of postings from "Anonymous" were caused by my Nov. 4 comment about sending an FOIA request to the FBI asking for the findings from the FBI's search of the AMI building in August and September 2002 so that I could counter what the CDC said was "most likely" with what the FBI presumably says is "most likely."

But, yesterday "Anonymous" also added a different argument:

In a message HERE "Anonymous" posted this:

The CDC documents explain that the reason they knew there were two letters is because they took different routes through the post offices.

In a message HERE "Anonymous" posted this:

Ed Lake isn't even aware of the CDC finding that the fact that there two letters was evidence by its extensive sampling of the post offices showing two distinct trails.

Since his claims seem to be total nonsense, I asked "Anonymous" for the source for such findings by the CDC.  Where did the CDC say that?  He wouldn't tell me.  Instead, he ridiculed me for not knowing where to find the those "findings." 

As far as I can tell, the CDC never said any such thing.  The claim appears to be the result of screwball interpretations by Anthrax Truthers of a chart produced by the CDC which shows that post office samplings indicate that the anthrax letter to AMI could have taken either of two routes between Palm Beach and Boca Raton.  Here's the chart (click on it to view a much larger version):

CDC anthrax mail chart - small   

In the lower left quarter the chart shows that anthrax spores were found at the Blue Lake, FL, post office, which could indicate the anthrax letter went from West Palm Beach to Blue Lake and then to Boca Raton.  Or, the Blue Lake post office could have simply handled mail bags or letters that were cross-contaminated with anthrax.   That same part of the chart also shows that anthrax spores were found at the Green Acres, FL, and Lake Worth, FL, post offices, which could indicate that the anthrax letter went from West Palm Beach through Green Acres, through Lake Worth and then to Boca Raton. 
Or, the Green Acres Post office and the Lake Worth post office could have simply handled mail bags or letters that were cross-contaminated with anthrax.

In no way does the chart show that there were two letters, much less prove such a thing.  But Anthrax Truthers have apparently been interpreting the chart that way.

Unfortunately, it's extremely difficult to get an Anthrax Truther to explain himself.  They seem to know explanations can expose their lack of logic and lack of facts.
However, yesterday, someone posting as "Anonymous" (probably "DXer," but possibly someone else posting as "Anonymous"), provided a link to something very interesting on the CDC's web site.  It's an incomplete "Review of Fall 2001 anthrax attacks" by physicist Dr. Wm. Robert Johnston, last modified on 17 March 2005.   "Anonymous" also provided a link to a 28 September 2007 updated version on Johnston's own web site.   Johnston's incomplete report was cited by the CDC and the National Academies on page 192 of their October 2006 report titled "Respiratory Diseases Research Program."  Here is the information from Dr. Johnston used by the CDC:

In 2001, seven anthrax-contaminated letters (investigators recovered four and presumed three others) sent through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) killed five people and infected at least17 others with inhalational or cutaneous anthrax (A6-45)

"Seven anthrax-contaminated letters" would NOT include the J-Lo letter, since the J-Lo letter would make eight in total and four that were not found.

To avoid any incorrect interpretation, Dr. Johnston's report contains this table: 

Table 2: Known and presumed anthrax letters
letter date mailed date recovered target resulting cases (by CDC #)
1 9/18/01 not recovered AMI, FL 4, 8 5
2 9/18/01 (9/20/01) NBC, NY 2, 6
3 9/18/01 not recovered ABC, NY 7
4 9/18/01 not recovered CBS, NY 9
5 9/18/01 (9/22/01) NY Post, NY 1, 18, 20
6 10/9/01 10/15/01 Daschle, DC 13, 14, 15, 16 10, 11, 12
7 10/9/01 11/16/01 Leahy, DC 19, 22
unknown 3, 17, 21

So, according to the CDC and Dr. Johnston, there was only ONE anthrax letter sent to AMI.  It was "not recovered."  It infected Ernesto Blanco (#4) and Bob Stevens (#8).  Furthermore, the CDC's chart shows the anthrax letter sent to Florida was transported by truck and left a trail of anthrax spores through numerous post offices.  The chart shows that the letter was first sent to the National Enquirer at an obsolete address in Lantana, FL, and then forwarded from there to the Enquirer's new address at the AMI building in Boca Raton.

The one anthrax letter sent to Florida
was mailed on 9/18/01, which means it could not possibly have been the J-Lo letter which was opened at AMI the next day, 9/19/01.  

The anthrax letter that killed Bob Stevens was addressed to the National Enquirer in Lantana, while eye witnesses say the J-Lo letter was addressed to Jennifer Lopez, c/o the Sun magazine at the AMI address in Boca Raton, FL.  There's no logical reason for the J-Lo letter addressed to the Sun to have been misdirected to Lantana.

This information comes via an October 2006 CDC report, which should supersede any CDC report from October 2002.

By any measure, this should put an end to any claim that the CDC still says there were two anthrax letters set to Florida and that the J-Lo letter was one of them.

But, I suspect the Anthrax Truthers will disagree because they believe they "know" the "truth" even if the facts say that what they believe is total nonsense.

November 13, 2013 - Discussions with an Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog have found some additional "evidence" helping to prove that Bob Stevens was killed by anthrax spores in the letter opened by Stephanie Dailey on Sept. 25, 2001, and NOT by exposure to the so-called "J-Lo letter" opened by Bobby Bender on Sept. 19:

1.  The normal period beween exposure to anthrax spores and the onset of symptoms of infection is 7 days or less.

2.  The older a person is, the more susceptible the person seems to be to anthrax.  Bob Stevens was 63.

3.  On Sept. 19, Bob Stevens held the J-Lo letter up to his face and sniffed it, which would have been a massive exposure, IF the letter contained anthrax.

4.  63-year-old Stevens started to show symptoms of anthrax exposure eleven days after he sniffed the J-Lo letter.  That makes it  extremely unlikely that his sniffing the J-Lo letter caused his exposure.

5.  Stevens started to show symptoms of anthrax exposure five days after he could have been exposed to a few spores from the anthrax in the letter Stephanie Dailey opened.  That is well within any "normal" period between exposure and onset of symptoms. 

6.  Ernesto Blanco was 73 years old in 2001.  Three or four days between his exposure to the letter opened by Stephanie Dailey and the onset of symptoms would be "normal."  Nine days between a supposed exposure to the J-Lo letter and his onset of symptoms would be extraordinary and almost illogical.

I just modified my web page about the J-Lo letter to show that an eleven day period between exposure and the onset of symptoms for a 63-year-old man who was massively exposed to Ames anthrax spores is extremely unlikely - almost illogical.

November 12, 2013 - Someone just sent me a link to a 7¼ minute YouTube video about the anthrax attacks of 2001 that was taken from a Travel Channel program called "Mysteries of the Museum."  Click HERE to view it.  Click HERE to view a shorter version (3 mins.) on the Travel Channel's web site.

The YouTube version is most interesting because it appears to contain some new information and it contains a significant error.  The "new" information (which may or may not be true) is that the CDC didn't find anthrax on Bob Stevens keyboard while the CDC was taking swabs in the AMI building, they put the keyboard into a shipping container, shipped it to  the CDC, and the anthrax was found while checking the keyboard inside a CDC lab. 

The error is a statement that the 3:20 mark where the narrator says "the man's keyboard is covered in microscopic anthrax spores."

The facts say that only 2 of 21 samples taken from Bob Stevens' work area tested positive for anthrax.    News reports say that "only a single spore was found on the keyboard. "  Another news report HERE says the same thing.

Interestingly, the shorter video doesn't mention anything about sending the keyboard to the CDC for testing.  

Unfortunately, this doesn't solve anything about the J-Lo letter and whether or not it contained anthrax.  But, it makes me hope all the more that the FBI will respond to  my FOIA request and provide me with a copy of their report on the search warrant tests they did within the AMI building a year after the CDC did their tests.  I'd certainly like to have something official that clears up whether or not the J-Lo letter contained anthrax.  The FACTS say the letter did NOT contain anthrax.  But no one in authority has officially said the J-Lo letter didn't (or most likely didn't) contain anthrax. 

Anthrax Truthers don't care about facts.  They just want someone's OPINION.  And currently they rely upon the CDC's OPINION that

The index patient’s [Bob Stevens']  infection most likely occurred from inhalation of B. anthracis spores following a primary aerosolization, i.e., spores released into the air after opening a spore-containing letter. This scenario is consistent with co-workers’ recollections that the index patient held a letter containing powder over his computer keyboard, as well as environmental samples showing contamination at his keyboard, an incoming-mail desk near his workspace, and his mailroom mailbox.

If we had two "authorities" saying opposite things, then it might be easier to get Anthrax Truthers to look at the actual FACTS instead of just using an opinion they agree with as their prime argument.

November 10, 2013 (B) - An Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog has actually done some research and found SOLID FACTS which answer a question I asked in my November 9 comment:

When Mr. Ross writes that "the perpetrator [of the anthrax attacks of 2001] was never found," is he just ignorant of the facts?  Or doesn't he believe the facts?

The answer is (drum roll, please!): Mr. Sherwood Ross was just ignorant of the facts.  And so was I when I wrote my Nov. 9 comment.

The Truther on my blog did some research and found that the Sherwood Ross article was actually written for the July/August, 2007, issue of The Humanist magazine, almost exactly one year before Ivins was identified as the anthrax killer.  So, at that time, Mr. Ross would have been justifiably ignorant of Bruce Ivins' role in the crime.

I saw the article dated November 9, 2013 on OpEdNews.com, on MWCnews.net and mentioned on a web page about articles relevant to the Homeland Security Department of the U.S. government: USGovernmentPortal.com.  It simply didn't occur to me to check further to see if it was an old article being recirculated for some reason.   So, I was ignorant of its original publication date.  Live and learn.  The lesson for today: NEVER trust OpEdNews.com or MWCnews.net, particularly OpEdNews.  Always verify

November 10, 2013 (A) - In last Sunday's comment, I mentioned that I was going to watch a documentary in the Reelz channel called
"JFK: The Smoking Gun."  Well, I didn't watch it -- not in its entirety, anyway.   I watched it as far as the first commercial, about 20 minutes into it.  I then decided I wasn't in the mood to go any further.  I just couldn't find any benefit to watching a show about a new theory that some Secret Service agent accidentally killed President Kennedy.

During the 20 minutes I watched, they showed parts of a CBS program I remember from many years ago where they had rifle experts demonstrate that Lee Harvey Oswald could have fired the three shots in the time he had.  The program also debunked the "Magic Bullet" argument by showing  that a single bullet could definitely have gone through JFK's neck, into Governor Connally's back, out Connally's chest and into his leg.  Connally's seat simply wasn't located where the "Magic Bullet" nay-sayers believe it was.  It was a jump seat, not a regular car seat.

JFK conspiracy theory joke
So, everyone should feel free to do their own investigation of the new theory about the Secret Service agent accidentally shooting JFK,  instead of waiting on me.  I won't be doing any investigating on that subject.  But, I'll have a copy of "JFK: The Smoking Gun" in case I ever do get into the mood to watch it all the way through.

The Google barge mystery I mentioned last Sunday seems to be solved.  Yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle explains that it is going to be a tourist attraction, a meeting center, and a "work of art" that can be moved from place to place in San Francisco Bay and elsewhere along the West Coast.  The SF Chronicle article makes no mention of the fact that there's an East Coast version, too.  The Guardian, however, has an article which says that that mystery is also solved.  According to The Guardian, it's the same thing as the West Coast barge, primarily an "interactive learning center."

Meanwhile, in case anyone's interested, I've been very busy with my new sci-fi novel during the past week.  I have no firm idea what the key event in the story is.  Right now, the book has the main character working with two scientists who invented a new type of crime-solving tool.  And the three of them are slowly being drawn into trying to help stop a group of Right Wing terrorists from committing some dastardly deed.  

Unlike screenplays, where it's definitely best to have the characters and the beginning, the middle and the end of the story all laid out before you actually start writing, writing novels can be much more organic.  You just pick a character or two, and a general idea, and start writing.   If done right, and if each chapter ends with a bit of a "cliff hanger," the idea for the next chapter springs into your mind as you finish the current chapter.  You become just as interested in seeing what happens next as literary agents and the eventual book buyers will hopefully be when the book is finished.

If you don't believe any "professional" would write a book that way, a few days ago I happened to see a CNN interview with best-selling author Scott Turow where he said that is exactly what he does.  I can't find that specific interview on CNN or YouTube.com, but in other interviews HERE, HERE and HERE he talks about how his latest book "Identical" began with an idea about identical twins.  (Click HERE for an interesting discussion of problems with publishing e-books that are then "re-sold" without profit to the author.  He also talks about how e-books are handled by libraries.)

Here are the current stats for my new novel (I'm currently on chapter 14):

Chapter Pages Pgs total words wds total Started
Oct 29
Oct 30
Oct 30
Oct 31
Nov 1
Nov 1
Nov 2
Nov 3
Nov 3
Nov 4
Nov 5
Nov 7
Nov 7
Nov 9

The minimum length for a novel is generally considered to be 60,000 words.  So, while it may seem from the word count alone that I'm about one-third done, in reality I'm just on the first draft, and the first draft could easily end up with only about 40,000 words.  Or it could be 80,000 words.  There's no way to tell.  And it's the writing of the second draft where I will almost certainly be spending the most time.

Although it's a sci-fi novel, the story within the novel takes place in the current time, not in outer space or in the distant future.  As I mentioined above, it involves the invention and use of a new tool for crime-solving.  Use of the tool can pose certain dangers, but the results can be extremely valuable - or totally worthless.  So, the first part of the book follows the story teller as other main characters experiment with the device to show the story teller what it can do.  In the next chapter or so, they'll start getting more involved with solving the major crime that involves Right Wing terrorists.

While I plan to have the main action take place in Washington, D.C., the story begins in the Chicago area.  I've been using Google's satellite images and "Street Views" to figure out what things look like where things happen.  I spent most of Friday with the main characters visiting a spot where a large helicopter involved in a crime landed on a golf course.  I picked the landing spot to be just to the left of the green in the bottom right of the satellite picture below.  I was going to have the investigators walk onto the golf course the same way a patrol car had entered, via the "path" between the trees that can be clearly seen:

"Path" between trees
However, when I discovered there was a "Street view" of the area available for viewing, I quickly found that there is no "path" there.  It is more properly described as "a gap between trees."  The satellite view was probably taken in November when the trees were bare and the ground was covered with dead leaves.  The Street View was taken in July when the trees were in full growth.   My story takes place in May.

And, it's not a flat "path" as it seems to be in the satellite view.   It's an incline down to the golf course, with a gravel path at the bottom of the incline.  

But, the investigators can still enter through there, and so can a patrol car - particularly if the alternative is to drive across the golf course from the club house.  And, as you can see, there is no curb to prevent driving onto the grass.   I had to do other kinds of Google searches to try to figure out what those small white and dark objects are in the gray rectangles next to the greens in the satellite view.  They appear to be a ball washer and sign indicating the hole number, the number of yards to the next hole, etc.  That kind of detail helps me describe the setting to the reader.  It's certainly easier than actually driving to Chicago to see for myself, and it's infinitely better than just trying to make up a believable but imaginary location and all of its surroundings.

I have no way of knowing if the above information is of any interest to any reader of this web site, but it was absolutely fascinating to me to see exactly what someone at the scene of the abandoned helicopter would see.  When I do the second draft, I'll have to research large helicopters that do heavy lifting for construction work so that I can better describe what such a machine looks like while setting there on the grass of the golf course (with the dead body of the owner still inside).

I also need to do some research to find out what kind of aircraft can haul a fully loaded semi-trailer truck from Chicago to Washington, D.C.   A C-17 Globemaster can almost do it.  But, as seen in the picture HERE, the wheels would have to be removed when it is positioned at the plane's center of gravity between the wings.  A C-5 Galaxy may be better, but it's still a tight fit.

Busy busy busy.   

Updates & Changes: Sunday, November 3, 2013, thru Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9, 2013 - Although it's becoming fairly rare, there still are people voicing their opinions (or ignorance) about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  This morning, I noticed that Sherwood Ross has written an opinion piece article for OpEdNews.com titled "America The Beautiful's Germ Warfare Rash."  The article says,

University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle charges that the Bush administration is spending more money in inflation-adjusted dollars to develop illegal, offensive germ warfare than the $2 billion the United States spent on the Manhattan Project to make the atomic bomb. That weapon's development was, at least, driven by the realistic fears that Nazi Germany might develop it first. Today, no comparable enemy exists.

Peculiarly, the only significant deadly germ warfare attack on the United States appeared to have come from the government's own Fort Detrick site. A month after 9/11, the mysterious anthrax attacks killed five, sickened seventeen, and alarmed the nation. The perpetrator was never found (a poor showing for a country that spends $40 billion a year on intelligence)  

When Mr. Ross writes that "the perpetrator [of the anthrax attacks of 2001] was never found," is he just ignorant of the facts?  Or doesn't he believe the facts?   Does he have his own theory?  One would think that if he had his own theory, he'd say so.  Since he doesn't say anything about who he thinks did it, should I assume that he is just ignorant of the case against Bruce Edwards Ivins?  Or maybe he believes that anyone who commits suicide is automatically innocent, because "everyone is innocent until proven guilty," and dead people cannot be proved guilty because dead people cannot be indicted, arrested, and brought into court to be tried by a jury of their peers.

Mr. Ross's article quotes conspiracy theorist Francis Boyle and promotes Milton Leitenberg's belief that nearly all the money being spent on preparing for a biological weapons attack is wasted.  A lot of money being spent on such research may indeed be wasted, but what part is wasted and what part is worthwhile?
  And who decides?

I don't think it should be someone who seems totally ignorant of the facts that the anthrax murders were solved over five years ago.

ADDED NOTE: See my November 10, 2013 (B) comment for an update.

November 7, 2013 - Judging from my emails, I should have done more explaining in the comment I wrote yesterday about my landlord changing lightbulbs in my apartment to Compact Flourescent Lamps (CFLs).  Last week, there was a note taped to my door telling me that it was going to happen.  The change was done by two guys and a gal I never saw before.  The girl stayed in the hallway with the plastic basket for the old bulbs, while the two guys did the changing, one working in the kitchen and hallway, the other in the bathroom.  The three young adults looked like polite, well-groomed college kids.  My landlord evidently allowed the change under some kind of arrangement with "Focus on Energy."  They left behind a couple brochures explaining the program, but the brochures don't fully explain who was behind it.  Electricity is NOT included with my rent, so the new bulbs should save me money.  And since my landlord pays the water bills, he is also going to save money because the shower head and faucet aerators were also replaced.

I suppose it could be part of some kind of massive government conspiracy.  If so, I willingly went along.

Also, just because I mentioned the two movies I rented yesterday from Redbox, I don't want people to think I recommend them.   I was merely willing to spend $1.25 each to see whether they were any good or not.  I couldn't tell from the ads. 

"White House Down" was a silly but watchable movie about a conspiracy between the head of the Secret Service's White House division and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to take over the government.  It was interesting in a way, since they had a small army of several dozen Right Wing militants, and every single individual had his own personal motive for taking over the government.  Some wanted revenge against the goverment, the Secret Service guy wanted personal revenge against the President, some grunts in their little army were in it for money, and the Speaker of the House was apparently doing it to help the Military-Industrial Complex keep making money off of wars and conflicts in the Middle East.  The movie was worth the $1.25 I spent to view it.

"The Frozen Ground" is about a cop who tracked down an real-life serial killer who was killing young women in Anchorage, Alaska, in the 1970's and 80's.  It was far too bleak and grim for my tastes.   I turned it off after watching about 45 minutes of it.

November 6, 2013 - These comments are going to be off-topic, but someone might find them of interest: 

First, those convicted killers who walked out of a prison in Florida in September by using forged documents apparently created the documents inside prisonA CNN article says that the prisoners then sent the documents to people on the outside who filed them with the courts.  Maybe the prisoners got the idea from some WWII prisoner of war movies, like "Stalag 17" and "The Great Escape," where scheming prisoners are always making forged documents to use during escapes.

Second, on Monday, my landlord replaced all the lightbulbs in the light fixures in my apartment with CFLs (Compact Flourescent Lamps).  That includes the hallway light, the kitchen light, the lights over the mirror in the bathroom and the light over the stove.  I was very surprised to find that the CFLs are very dim when initially turned on, and then after a minute or so they get up to full brightness.  I suppose everyone else in the world is already aware of that, but I certainly wasn't.  I've had a CFL in the floorlamp next to my computer for years, and I never noticed any change in brightness.  But, that could be because I tend to turn it on and then leave the room to go get a cup of coffee or to do something else while the computer starts up.

Checking the Internet, I see that some people refuse to use the CFLs because they are very dim during start up.  However, I also see that there are "Bright From the Start" CFLs.  Maybe that's what I have in the lamp by my computer.

While it's kind of odd to turn on the bathroom or kitchen light and have it remain so dim while I do something that takes less than a minute, it's not something I can't get used to.  I suspect, however, that a lot of others in my apartment complex are screaming and complaining about the new bulbs.  I can see a CFL could be a problem if the CFL is over a stairway where you turn on the light before going down, and the light will remain dim while you use the stairs and not get bright until after you have reached the bottom.

Meanwhile, I also see another example of "the changing times" in an article that says BlockBuster is going to shut their remaining 300 stores and their mail service as well.  The article says it's the result of "the rise of digital and on-demand entertainment."  I did a Google search for Redbox to see how they are doing, and I found that they seem to be doing okay, and at least one article credits Redbox for part of Blockbuster's demise.  So, I'm not in any immediate danger of being unable to rent movies from Redbox. (Today I rented "White House Down" and "The Frozen Ground.")  But, I'm seeing some kind of "handwriting on the wall" that says I'll need to get into the wi-fi world before very long.

Along that same vein, last night on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, John Goodman talked about his new "TV" series called "Alpha House" which will "air" on Amazon's  Instant Video service, which competes with NetFlix.  It seems like more "handwriting on the wall," but I'm not sure what it says for me - other than there are going to be a lot of TV shows that I'm not going to be able to watch unless I decide I need to buy a complete season on DVD or BluRay (as I did with Season 1 of "Breaking Bad," Season 1 of "Homeland," and Season 1 of "Mad Men".)  That might also be the case with HBO's "Newsroom," if it's on sale somewhere and the price is right. 

Some day, I'm also going to have to convert all my jazz tapes to MP3 format.

November 4, 2013 - This afternoon, I received the letter from the U.S. Department of Justice telling me that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request I sent them on October 9 has "been received at FBI Headquarters for processing."  The FOIA request was for the search warrant findings that resulted from the search the FBI performed in August and September 2002 of the AMI building in Boca Raton, FL.  I'm trying to see if there are any official FBI findings that say the so-called J-Lo letter was determined to NOT (or not likely) have contained anthrax, and that the only letter that contained anthrax was the one opened by Stephanie Dailey at her desk near the mail room.  It would help to weaken (but not totally debunk) some arguments from Anthrax Truthers.

The letter provides a Request Number, which I have to type in at www.fbi.gov/foia to find the current status of the request.   However, w
hen I type in the number, I just get the same message I got back in July, when I submitted a different FIOA request asking for some of Bruce Ivins personal emails.  I get this message:

The FBI's FOIPA Program is searching the FBI's indices for potentially responsive documents. You may be contacted via formal letter for all fees and/or negotiation issues that may apply.

So, either it's taking a long time to fulfill that previous request or that's the message people get when the FBI says they haven't found anything to fulfill the request.

November 3, 2013 - I've been following the news stories about Friday morning's shooting at LAX.   According to NBC News
, it appears it could be the work of a conspiracy theorist on a rampage:.

The man who allegedly killed a TSA worker and wounded three others at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday had anti-government literature in his possession outlining an alleged conspiracy to create a single global government, law enforcement sources tell NBC News.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the material recovered from Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, after the shootout at LAX appeared to have been prepared by a group called “New World Order.” One source said it also expressed animus toward racial minorities.

However, according to a report in Time magazine,
Ciancia was carrying a one-page note that referred to TSA employees as “pigs” and expressed a desire to kill TSA employees, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. The source also said that the note referenced Ciancia’s constitutional rights being violated.

And, according to CNN,

[An] intelligence source said Ciancia's family became concerned in recent days after he sent his brother and father "angry, rambling" texts venting about the government, living in Los Angeles and his unhappiness generally.

"Venting about the government" doesn't automatically make a person a "conspiracy theorist."   And my experience dealing with conspiracy theorists and True Believers indicates they are more likely to do something sneaky than to go on a violent rampage.

It should be interesting to learn what his actual motives were.  If he was just fed up with his life and the world in general, and looking to commit "suicide by cop," he failed.  Ciancia was captured alive, but was shot through the mouth.  That's probably one reason why he isn't doing much talking right now.  

Meanwhile, someone sent me an email yesterday, informing me of a new TV program on the Reelz network titled "JFK: The Smoking Gun."  The program reports on a theory from an Australian detective who claims that John F. Kennedy was only wounded by the rifle shot from Lee Harvey Oswald, and the President was actually killed by a Secret Service agent in the car behind Kennedy's car:

The sound of Oswald’s first shot, he says, caused an agent in that car to inadvertently discharge his weapon, a tragic, almost random shot that ripped through Kennedy’s head.

I guess it becomes a "conspiracy theory" if the belief is that the Secret Service and others tried to cover up the "real" cause of JFK's death.  Whether there's a conspiracy or not, it's a theory I never heard before.   The New York Daily News makes this point:

One of the important things to remember about JFK assassination theorists is that they are all 100% sure they are right.

And they can’t all be right.

That's the general pattern with Anthrax Truthers, too.  I set my DVR to record the show tonight.  I can get the Reelz network in low-def, but sometimes things from that network fail to record.  I'm not sure why.  However, it appears Reelz will be showing the JFK program over and over and over.  So, one way or another, I'll be able to view it.

My discussions with Anthrax Truthers has made me want to write something about how facts cannot be changed by beliefs and opinions, no matter what any Truther believes.

The book I've been reading, "Brilliant Blunders," provides examples of how facts can be interpreted one way when you do not have all the facts, and a different way when you have more facts.

For example, Leonardo da Vinci once wondered, "Why the bones of great fishes and oysters and corals and various other shells and sea-snail are found on the high tops of mountains that border on the sea, in the same way in which they are found in the depths of the sea." The only conclusion da Vinci could draw from that FACT was that the entire earth was at one time totally covered with water. 

In the late 1600's another scientist, Benoît de Maillet, observed that in ancient ports such as Acre, Alexandria and Carthage, a measured rate of decline of the sea level by about three inches per century meant that the age of the earth was 2.4 billion years, if as da Vinci once observed, the entire earth was once covered to the highest mountain tops by water.  It wasn't a belief.  It was a scientific calculation based upon the lowering of sea levels and an assumption by both da Vinci and de Maillet that the earth itself did not move.  The idea that the earth might be sinking beneath the sea at Alexandria, or that mountains could have risen out of the sea to form the Alps and Pyrennees mountains was just not something either of them thought of, even though they were both undoubtedly aware of earthquakes.  They didn't "connect the dots."  The basic understanding at the time was that the earth had somehow been formed by a passing comet crashing into the sun and throwing out a molten glob of sun-stuff which then eventually cooled over billions of years to become the Earth.  The only question was: How many billions of years?

The True Believers, of course, felt that the earth was created as a completed object by God one afternoon in October of 4004 B.C.   And scientific facts didn't mean anything.

That's kind of the situation with Anthrax Truthers.  They believe what they believe, and unless there are solid, undeniable facts which prove otherwise, they're just going to continue to believe what they want.  They know that people who work with facts are often shown to be wrong by the finding of new facts.  But, no Anthrax Truther can ever be shown to be wrong because facts mean nothing to them.  So, Truthers like "DXer" just endlessly argue that the FBI or the General Accountability Office should get more facts.  They each believe that sooner or later the facts will prove they are right. 

I sometimes also wonder if maybe my experiences with my Kindle can be used as an illustration.  The beliefs of "experts" seem to be that any notes I made while reading a library book on my Kindle will vanish or be automatically deleted when the book is returned, unless I save the notes in a separate file.  The "experts" also seem to believe that the library book will automatically be deleted from my Kindle when it is "returned."

The FACTS say that is not true.  I returned the library copies of "Persuader" by  Lee Child and "Private" by James Patterson on October 27.  But, both are still in my Kindle. And so are the notes I made as a test.  The facts say there is no clock or operating system in my Kindle that would enable some program to delete those files.  And at no time is my Kindle directly connected to any computer program that could do such deletions.  So, the FACTS say that the rules probably apply to later models of the Kindle and to many other kinds of devices that use wi-fi connections where Amazon directly downloads books into a reading device similar to the Kindle.  The FACTS say that deleting books and notes from my Kindle is strictly done by the user --  me.

On the subject of books, I should note that I've temporarily stopped reading "Brilliant Blunders," because I don't have the time for such heavy reading while I'm also working on my sci-fi novel.  When I want to read something while eating breakfast or lunch, I've gone back to the copy of "Across China on Foot" in my Kindle.  It's a book that I can read for ten or fifteen minutes and not worry that I need to remember something the next time I turn on the Kindle to read for another ten or fifteen minutes.  There are a countless things in the book that I will remember, but I don't need to remember them in order to understand what comes next.  For example, here's a memorable passage:     

The best conditions of Chinese inns are far and away worse than anything the traveler would be called upon to encounter anywhere in the British Isles, even in the most isolated places in rural Ireland. There can be no comparison. And my reader will understand that there is much which the European misses in the way of general physical comfort and cleanliness. Sanitation is absent in toto. Ordinary decency forbids one putting into print what the uninitiated traveler most desires to know—if he would be saved a severe shock at the outset; but everyone has to go through it, because one cannot write what one sees. All travelers who have had to put up at the caravanseries in Central and Western China will bear me out in my assertion that all of them reek with filth and are overrun by vermin of every description. The traveler whom misfortune has led to travel off the main roads of Russia may probably hesitate in expressing an opinion as to which country carries off the palm for unmitigated filth; but, with this exception, travelers in the Eastern Archipelago, in Central Asia, in Africa among the wildest tribes, are pretty well unanimous that compared with all these for dirt, disease, discomfort, an utter lack of decency and annoyance, the Chinese inn holds its own. And in no part of China more than in Szech'wan and Yün-nan is greater discomfort experienced.

In other words, for an Englishman in 1910, traveling across China on foot was no picnic.   And that doesn't even take into account the fact that he didn't speak (or care to speak) a single word of Chinese, and that he was alone except for the guide he hired who spoke Pidgeon English and a few coolies who were hired by the guide to carry luggage and supplies.   Another Englishman who began the journey with the author (John Dingle) turned back almost immediately, when it all became too much.

Lastly, in case anyone is interested, as of this morning, I've got 47 pages done on my new sci-fi novel (9,400 words). 
I'm writing only from 9 to 5, excluding breaks for lunch, the health club, and for writing web site comments such as this one.  But, I'm thinking about the book all the time.  Each writing session begins with going back and making changes that I thought about while eating, exercising or waking up in the morning.  Many writing experts say you're supposed to just make notes and do the actual changes in the second draft, but I think that "rule" was from the days when everyone wrote on paper.  Writing on a computer can make it easier to go back and make a change than to make meaningful notes about what changes to make.  And making a few important changes helps me get back into the writing process after a break.

But, sometimes I make notes, too.  It all depends upon the nature of the change.

Busy, busy, busy.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, October 27, 2013, thru Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 1, 2013 - Looking at my web site statistics (taken at 4 a.m. this morning), it appears last month I had more visitors than during any other month in the past 22 months, and possibly going back several years before that:

Summary by Month - This Year
Month Daily Avg Monthly Totals
Hits Files Pages Visits Sites KBytes Visits Pages Files Hits
Nov 2013 363 330 189 117 134 28926 117 189 330 363
Oct 2013 2536 2074 1135 664 12604 5624020 20597 35210 64320 78631
Sep 2013 2583 2173 1123 544 13011 6012376 16341 33695 65218 77496
Aug 2013 2257 1728 1083 482 11777 4805296 14966 33592 53573 69972
Jul 2013 2456 2008 1248 486 10688 5312839 15076 38705 62261 76160
Jun 2013 2505 2013 1273 508 11238 5251225 15259 38213 60412 75166
May 2013 2658 2208 1237 564 12896 6021650 17485 38376 68455 82428
Apr 2013 2697 2339 1291 607 14273 6018746 18215 38743 70182 80939
Mar 2013 2392 1946 1022 443 10578 4922487 13742 31699 60355 74159
Feb 2013 1831 1544 874 413 8258 4101120 11591 24496 43259 51283
Jan 2013 2014 1600 945 418 8403 4465960 12964 29311 49630 62440
Dec 2012 2216 1744 921 399 7483 5452354 12375 28567 54091 68718
Totals 58016999 168728 370796 652086 797755

Summary by Month - Last Year
Month Daily Avg Monthly Totals
Hits Files Pages Visits Sites KBytes Visits Pages Files Hits
Nov 2012 2114 1677 834 417 7376 4232538 12516 25048 50328 63437
Oct 2012 2301 1844 855 440 7664 4534556 13646 26521 57169 71344
Sep 2012 2306 1832 805 412 7817 4262765 12375 24161 54977 69203
Aug 2012 1725 1395 657 352 5932 3402557 10934 20392 43249 53505
Jul 2012 1788 1389 690 381 5717 3291801 11815 21403 43075 55450
Jun 2012 1914 1513 745 401 6127 3412099 12038 22376 45401 57430
May 2012 2174 1681 780 416 6207 3720195 12900 24194 52116 67394
Apr 2012 1999 1599 761 406 6186 4061625 12205 22841 47973 59975
Mar 2012 2548 1959 907 467 7208 4788877 14495 28136 60743 79016
Feb 2012 2721 2104 927 439 6772 4486254 12755 26888 61038 78928
Jan 2012 2292 1791 842 440 6429 4275965 13650 26124 55526 71076

I don't know the cause of the surge.  
I also notice that the Anthrax Truther who was arguing that a "criminal mastermind" was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001 has not only stopped posting to my interactive blog, my access logs for this web site show he also stopped visiting this site.  His last visit was on October 27, the day I posted a comment comparing his beliefs to the beliefs described on the
"Anthrax Museum" blog.

And, among the approximately 2,791 other mysteries puzzling me is Google's mystery barges.  There's one the East Coast, and there's this one on the West Coast:

Google mystery barges

But, these mysteries will have to remain mysteries (unless someone else solves them).  I don't have the time to try to work on them.  I'm too busy working on my new sci-fi novel.  I did another 10 pages yesterday.  So far, so good.

October 31, 2013 - If anyone is interested, I'm on page 16 of my new sci-fi novel.  It's just the first draft, which means the primary objective is to get words on paper (actually on disk).  If and when I get to the second draft I'll be doing a lot of polishing. 

Both Anthrax Truthers have stopped posting to my interactive blog.  And I'm not seeing any news about the Amerithrax case.
  So, there's little to interrupt my writing.   

October 29, 2013 - The ultimate in absurd arguments occurred yesterday on my interactive blog when the Anthrax Truther who calls himself "Anonymous" on my blog argued that a poll or survey would have more meaning than solid facts in determining whether the anthrax letters were written by an child or an adult.  The argument continued this morning.  The other Anthrax Truther seems to have vanished.  Or maybe the two of them are now working as a tag team.

Meanwhile, also this morning, I started writing my sci-fi novel.  I've got two paragraphs done - tentatively.  They only took about three hours.  Here they are:

     Molly Mitchell wasn't my patent attorney, but she worked for the same law firm - Weisman, Fairchild and Miller.  One day, about a year ago, she just stopped by my shop to check me out.  Someone at their Glencoe office had evidently mentioned me to her.  Molly worked out of WF&M's plush office in The Rookery building on LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago.  Her long auburn hair and slim figure no doubt turned heads and got low, whimpering groans from male commodity traders whenever the weather was good and she decided to stroll to lunch at the Native Foods Café instead of sending her assistant to fetch a chef's salad from the Potbelly Sandwich Shop within the Rookery.

     She didn't go to Native Foods because she was a vegetarian.  She just liked hot vegetables as an occasional change of pace.  That's apparently what I was to her, too - a change of pace.

Molly is not a main character.  She's just on a date with the teller of the tale when he (Jim Benton) is taken aside by one of his old professors from Northwestern University and questioned about a possible project.  I don't know exact what the project will be, but it will almost certainly involve stopping a terrorist-type crime.  I'm hoping the crime details will come to me as I get deeper into the characters and the story.

And, while I was working out at the health club this afternoon, I decided I should change Molly's name to "Celeste."  I'll explain that her name was originally "Molly," but she legally changed it when she was in law school and decided she wanted to spend her time with entrepreneurs and  corporate lawyers in downtown Chicago instead of dealing with bankrupt garage owners or accident victims out of a storefront office in Cicero.

I spent at least half the three hours this morning touring downtown Chicago via Google's "Street View" option to check out the restaurants in the area, and to get a feel for which one a lanky, attractive female lawyer might visit.  At first I thought the Billy Goat Tavern would be cool, but the one near LaSalle Street on South Wells looks more like a Burger King inside, totally unlike the dark, raunchy saloon I used to visit under the North Michigan Avenue bridge.  But touring the place via Google, that Billy Goat doesn't look anything like I remember it, either.   I also remember The Rookery from when I worked  in downtown Chicago.  It's a cool place for an office.  It still looks cool.

Anyway, unless things just fall apart for some reason, or unless I get dragged off onto something else, I'm now working on my sci-fi novel.

October 28, 2013 - The Anthrax Truther who calls himself "Anonymous" on my interactive blog has issued a demand that looks like another one of his threats:

Correct your claim that it was created by [XXYYZZ] without further delay.

He's referring to the
"Anthrax Museum" and/or "Anthrax City" website.  In my (C) comment yesterday, I made a vague "claim" that that website was "probably" created by the other Anthrax Truther ("XXYYZZ") who has been arguing with me on my blog.  However, if "Anonymous" says that Anthrax Truther didn't create that web site, I have no solid reason to doubt him.  He almost certainly has more facts on that particular subject than I do.  So, I changed the (C) comment I wrote yesterday.

October 27, 2013 (C) - The Anthrax Truther who had been arguing for months on my interactive blog reappeared yesterday, after a nearly two week absence.   At first, it appeared he had developed a new theory to support his old theory that the anthrax letters were a sent by a "criminal mastermind" who was also behind a lot of hoax letters.

However, I quickly learned that the "new" theory evidently isn't really new.  Using links he provided, I found the theory was also promoted in a blog titled "Anthrax Museum" and/or "Anthrax City" which doesn't appear to have been updated since 2005, when it was still "under construction."

At the top of that blog, there's an image which contains a quote from me saying, "You don't always need new information to make progress.  Sometimes you just need to know more about old information."  That didn't seem like something I'd write, since finding more about old information would be "new information."  So, I did a Google search for that phrase and found it used in only one other place on the Internet, in what appears to be an earlier version of the "Anthrax Museum" blog.  That second "Anthrax City" blog was evidently created on July 25, 2005, and then immediately abandoned.  Again, the author of the blog is supposedly quoting me.  Both blogs seem to have been created by the same person, the first a quick experiment, the second a longer experiment. 

Researching further, near the bottom of the longer "Anthrax Museum" blog I found another quote said to be from me, with the same basic idea but different wording: "
You don't always need totally new information to make progress, sometimes you just need to know more about old information that might be false." 

A Google search for that phase shows it is from me.  It's from a comment I wrote for this site on April 18, 2005.  And, it makes a lot more sense.

That research was a solid reminder that the Anthrax Truther arguing on my interactive blog is someone I also argued with many years ago, and he is still stuck in the past.  I've mostly forgotten the details of all the old debates which never went anywhere.  The Anthrax Truther is reminding me about them.

Simple additional research also seems to find the name of the person who the Anthrax Truther seems to believe sent the anthrax letters.  However, it seems that the Anthrax Truther is probably NOT the creator of both of those abandoned blogs.   (See my  Oct. 28 comment.)

That puts me in the awkward position of having to decide if I want to return to those olden days to argue things what were not interesting to me back then, much  less now.

No, I do not want to go there.  Nor do I want to get into any situation where I'll be directly or indirectly mentioning some person who the Anthrax Truther believes is a "criminal mastermind" behind numerous crimes, including the anthrax attacks of 2001.

So, what am I going to do about it?  I dunno.  Time will tell.  But, it will probably involve deleting posts where the Anthrax Truther ignores being shown to be wrong and tries to get into areas where I won't go.

Meanwhile, the Anthrax Truther called "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog seems to be in some kind of rut as he endlessly rants that Bruce Ivins was doing "normal" work during those "unexplained" hours he spent in his lab during evenings and weekends in August, September and early October 2001.  The FACTS, of course say that Ivins was NOT doing normal work.  His "normal work" did not involve any significant nighttime hours, either before or after the anthrax attacks.  But, "DXer" clearly wants the FBI and DOJ to prove that Ivins could not possibly have been doing "normal" work during those times.  Until the government proves what he wants them to prove, "DXer" is going to continue to argue what he wants to argue -- endlessly, day after day, like a broken record that plays the same tune over and over and over and over and over and over.

So, until the General Accountability Office (GAO) presents its review of the Amerithrax investigation (maybe next year) or until someone else publishes a new book about the case or writes some article with some kind of news, it's going to be very hard for me to find things to write about that are related to the Amerithrax investigation.

I'm also finding myself thinking more and more about my sci-fi novel idea.  Reading fiction puts me in the mood to write fiction.   But, I don't know if I can make the process interesting to readers of this site.  The two non-fiction books I recently bought may provide something to write about.   The book "
The United States of Paranoia" contains some interesting ideas that may be worthy of comments.  But such comments would most likely be philosophical and not specifically related to Amerithrax.  Time will tell.

There might be changes in the wind.  It all depends upon which way the wind blows.  

October 27, 2013 (B) - I keep thinking I should comment on the current headlines about the difficulties in getting HealthCare.gov to work.  I spent 20 years designing, installing and "trouble-shooting" complex computer systems.  I have some very vivid memories of people all in a panic because of some problem that occurred during installation of some new system or part of a system.  Office politics aren't much different from real politics, except for the national visibility you get in real politics.

Chances are that the visible problem is just the result of an error in a single line of code - or someone nearly as minor.  The real problem is to figure out where the error is.  The systems designer does that by looking at all the clues.   It's not much different from a mechanic trying to figure out why a car doesn't run.  It's just a machine with a glitch.   But to an outsider who knows nothing about such things, it can look like a major disaster. And, if there is political hay to be reaped, there'll be a lot of screaming and yelling going on while the analyst tries to concentrate on fixing the problem.  Ignoring the nitwits who are screaming and yelling while you focus on the task at hand is all part of the job. 

October 27, 2013 (A) - This morning I received an email from Amazon.com which said:

Your digital library book will expire in 3 days. If you purchase Persuader (Jack Reacher, No. 7) from the Kindle Store or borrow it again from your local library, all of your notes and highlights will be preserved.  

I'm going to create some "notes" for Persuader just to see what happens in three days - and/or after I "return" Persuader, which I'll probably do later today, when I finish and return Private.  Amazon doesn't have any access to the notes file, and I don't think there is any code anywhere in my Kindle that automatically deletes things.  I'll soon find out. 

I almost gave up on reading Private a few times, when things got too bloody or too unbelievable.  But, it looks like I'll finish it.  It's a quick read.  I'm 39% done and about to start Chapter 50.  (Many chapters are probably less than one typed page.)  I also plan to stop commenting on novels I read.   I'm sure no one is interested, and I was only doing it while also trying to figure out how my Kindle and the library borrowing system works.

ADDED NOTE:  I finished reading Private at 4:30 p.m.  124 chapters!  It's 400 pages in paperback, so that's about 3 pages per chapter.  For the record, it was the novel I enjoyed least of the 7 novels I read in the past six weeks.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, October 20, 2013, thru Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 25, 2013 - Ah!  I see why I thought I needed a wi-fi hotspot to download a library book.  It says so very clearly when I "borrow" an e-book for Kindle from my library.  I then get sent to Amazon.com to download it, and there it says:

Digital library books require an active Wi-Fi connection for wireless delivery to a Kindle device. Library books will not be delivered via your Kindle's 3G connection.

That seems totally clear.  But, if you simply ignore that message and just click the "Get Library Book" button, you get another screen with another misleading text:

Your digital library book will be delivered to Edward's Kindle. Your Kindle will download Private the next time it connects to Wi-Fi.  If you would like to manage your digital titles, go to Manage Your Kindle.

To transfer to your device via USB, click Download now
If you don't read past the point where it says the book "Private" will download the next time I connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot, you won't see that you can also "Download now" via a USB port.  And, that's what I did this morning.  It put "Private" by James Patterson into my "Downloads" computer file.  From there I copied and pasted it into my Kindle, and it's ready for me to start reading.

But, first I have to finish
"Persuader."  I'm 66% done.   I should finish later today.

I hadn't planned to start reading another novel so soon, but the paperback version of Patterson's "Private London" caught my eye as I was waiting in a checkout line at Walmart yesterday.  That book wasn't available at my library, but the first book in the series (i.e., "Private") was.  So, when I finish reading "Private" I'll try again to continue working on my own novel.  That's the plan.  

ADDED NOTE: I finished reading "Persuader" at 4:05 p.m.  Another enjoyable read, although a bit less so than other novels I've read recently.  It was a too grim in parts.  Nevertheless, it had lots of fast action, and a super-tough, likeable hero, Jack Reacher, who is a former Army Military Police investigator.  There were a lot of details about military life and different kinds of weapons.  The book was also another learning exercise for me.  I was a good reminder that I not only have to develop a good plot for my novel, I also need to start thinking a lot more about verisimilitude.  I'll need to use words to put the reader in the scene, to help him visualize everything.  What was the weather like?  What is the setting like?  What are the characters wearing?  How do they smell?  Do they have unusual ticks and mannerisms?  That's something I haven't practiced for many years.     

October 23, 2013 - Yesterday afternoon, I finished reading
"The Conspiracy Club" by Jonathan Kellerman.  It was an enjoyable read.  On Monday, I estimated I had 8½ hours of reading time left.  It turned out to be less than 4 hours.  I think that could be because it may take longer for me to read the beginning chapters of a novel, where I have to understand who all the characters are, than the rest of the book where it's just the story unfolding.  It turns out that, instead of conspiring to commit a crime, "the conspiracy club" was conspiring to get a psychologist (the main character in the book) to figure out who committed a past crime - the horrific and senseless murder of the psychologist's girlfriend, which happened six months before the story begins.  The idea of a "conspiracy club" is kind of a far-fetched idea from another era, but that didn't ruin the enjoyment. 

BTW, when I was at about the 81% mark, a message appeared on the Kindle screen telling me that I needed to recharge the battery.  I suddenly realized that while sitting on the couch reading, I should have had the Kindle plugged in.  Or I should be leaving it to charge over night.  I was doing neither.  Duh!  Live and learn.

Finishing the book allowed me to change focus back to the procedures for "borrowing" a book from the library.  I found another e-book book available to read, "Persuader," by Lee Child, his 7th Jack Reacher action story.  I stepped carefully through the borrowing procedures and confirmed that I could "borrow" the book without any need to find a wi-fi hotspot.  I can do it easily (and did) via my home computer.  (The written procedure for borrowing starts with a description of how downloading must be done via a wi-fi hotspot, but the second paragraph begins with "Or" and explains how it can also be done via a USB port and your home computer or other non-Kindle device.)  I'm still 99% certain that I cannot download a library book directly into my Kindle via a wi-fi hotspot.  It was the requirement that I had to register the Kindle via a wi-fi hotspot that got me into the thinking mode that wi-fi hotspots might be required for borrowing books, too.

I think I've confirmed that I do not need to "return" e-books to my library.  They will automatically be "returned" after 7 days, although they will continue to be in my Kindle (unless I delete them myself).  That part of "borrowing" e-books from the library still makes no sense to me at all (not as a book borrower, but as a former computer systems analyst and designer).  However, even though I do not need to return it, I did "return" "The Conspiracy Club" to Amazon.com by accessing my account and clicking on the appropriate boxes.  Then I checked my account at my local library and found it was returned there, too.  So, the copy is now available for someone else to "borrow."

After I finish reading (and returning) "Persuader," maybe I'll be able to shift focus to plotting out my new sci-fi novel.  I hope so.  While I've always enjoyed reading, writing gives me a very different and more lasting kind of enjoyment.

October 21, 2013 (B) - This morning, I found a new article about the anthrax attacks of 2001 in The Trentonian, which reports - once again - that U.S. Representative Rush Holt still has doubts about the FBI's solution to the anthrax case:

With a PhD in physics, [Holt’s] one of the few members of Congress with the background to follow the scientific intricacies investigators grappled with in analyzing and trying to track down the origin of anthrax samples.

Crucial to preparedness, he believes, are two essential tasks that have never been undertaken since that first wave of letters went out in the mail on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001.

1. Finding out more detail on how the attacks were carried out.

2. Finding out exactly how investigators were led astray by what proved to be false leads.

If Congressman Holt really wants the answers to those two questions, he should read my book "A Crime Unlike Any Other."  Maybe I'll send him a copy.   But, I suspect that Congressman Holt doesn't really want answers, he wants a public forum where he can ask questions which will show his constituents that he's on their side in believing Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks, not some lone, mentally disturbed American scientist who committed suicide before he could be brought to trial.   Holt's constituents want a neat package, tied with a ribbon and a beautiful bow, not a mess of loose ends.  And, Congressman Holt is telling them what they want to hear.

Meanwhile, on Lew Weinstein's blog, two Anthrax Truthers agree that the Holt is right and FBI was wrong, but one Truther attacks the other Truther (and me) in a message that explains some details about the other Truther's beliefs: The "criminal mastermind" the second Truther believes was behind the anthrax attacks and a lot of lesser crimes "was a computer guy and not even a microbiologist" who had no access to the Ames strain, and he was once a student at a university on the West Coast.

Meanwhile, I also found an article from The Village Voice about "9/11 Truthers" and how those Truthers have been putting up billboards promoting their theory of what "really" happened on 9/11. Here's the billboard they put up near Times Square in New York City:

Time Square 9/11 Truther Billboard

The Village Voice article says:

The groups bought similar billboards in Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Sydney, and London. But the Times Square ad was meant to be the centerpiece, the small flame that would, in their words, "spark a new investigation into the events of September 11, 2001." When that didn't happen, they launched an email campaign.

Evidently, there's no cause so bizarre that no one would be willing to donate to it.

October 21, 2013 (A) - Yesterday, I did something that makes no sense.  The fact that I "borrowed" another e-book from my local library to read on my Kindle certainly makes sense, but the steps I went through to do it make no sense.

I decided that, since I'm unable to get started on writing a novel, I should read another novel to see if the reading process will spur the right motivation.  I looked at my local library's web site and up popped a New York Times best seller from 2003 titled "The Conspiracy Club" by Jonathan Kellerman, who was one of my favorite novelists back when I was reading 2 books a week while commuting.  My library had 4 copies and ALL were available to "borrow."   It appeared, however, that if I wanted to read it on my Kindle, I would have to find a wi-fi hot spot and download it there.  So, I went over to the McDonalds about a block away, connected to their wi-fi hotspot while sitting in my car in their parking lot, and I tried downloading the book.  No dice.  I was able to get to my library's web site, but when I clicked on the "Download" button all I got was an error message that said something like "This device does not support multiple windows."

I drove over to the McDonalds four times to try different things.  (It was raining off and on, so I didn't want to walk there).  I'm now 99% certain that there's no way to download a library book to my Kindle via a wi-fi hot spot, although I think there would be no problem to buy a book from Amazon.com and download it that way.

At first, I thought that the fact that the library book "Appaloosa" was still in my Kindle (even though I'd "returned" it weeks ago, something else that makes no sense) might have been cause of the problem, but deleting "Appaloosa" didn't solve anything. 

To make a long story short, I eventually was able to download the book via my home computer and then put it in my Kindle via the USB port.  It seemed, however, that I first had to use the wi-fi hot spot to tell the library that I wanted to download the book, and then I had to go home to actually download the book via my computer from Amazon's web site.  That makes no sense.  It also doesn't make any sense that there aren't any detailed instructions on my library's web site for how to "borrow" a book via my Kindle.  (I couldn't go to my local library to ask a librarian, because they aren't open on Sunday.)

It would probably make sense for me to just pick some other available book at random from my library today, and go through all the steps slowly to make certain I wasn't missing something and couldn't just do it all through my home computer, without going to the wi-fi hotspot.  But, right now, I just want to settle down and read "The Conspiracy Club."  It's 416 pages in paperback, so it's not a "quick read."  I read 16% of it yesterday in about 1½ hours.  So, I've got about 8½ hours reading time left before I have to "return" it in 7 days. 

Of course, even though it makes no sense, I think the book will still be in my Kindle after I "return" it, so I can take as long as I want to read it.

Everything will probably make perfect sense after I "borrow" a few more library books and get more comfortable with the steps and the logic of it all.

October 20, 2013 (B) -
While I didn't see any articles last week that provided any "news" about the anthrax attacks of 2001, this web site was definitely getting a surge in visitors.  On Thursday, the site had 814 visitors, and on Friday there were 805 visitors:

Daily Statistics for October 2013
Day Hits Files Pages Visits Sites KBytes
1 2246 4.97% 1923 5.45% 880 4.20% 479 3.96% 613 7.49% 173774 5.36%
2 3062 6.77% 2143 6.07% 1322 6.30% 481 3.98% 614 7.51% 203260 6.27%
3 2203 4.87% 1943 5.50% 899 4.29% 528 4.37% 607 7.42% 161831 4.99%
4 2092 4.63% 1748 4.95% 1022 4.87% 559 4.63% 652 7.97% 161768 4.99%
5 2478 5.48% 1711 4.85% 923 4.40% 495 4.10% 569 6.96% 153953 4.75%
6 2225 4.92% 1840 5.21% 1103 5.26% 647 5.36% 632 7.73% 170240 5.25%
7 2585 5.72% 1701 4.82% 1066 5.08% 686 5.68% 573 7.00% 155410 4.79%
8 2244 4.96% 1824 5.17% 1044 4.98% 583 4.83% 655 8.01% 153718 4.74%
9 2991 6.61% 2018 5.71% 1131 5.39% 653 5.41% 674 8.24% 171029 5.27%
10 2640 5.84% 2188 6.20% 1424 6.79% 654 5.41% 638 7.80% 233432 7.20%
11 2265 5.01% 1831 5.19% 1315 6.27% 632 5.23% 602 7.36% 187917 5.79%
12 1597 3.53% 1213 3.43% 906 4.32% 578 4.78% 561 6.86% 122122 3.77%
13 1945 4.30% 1578 4.47% 992 4.73% 698 5.78% 646 7.90% 150659 4.65%
14 3219 7.12% 2300 6.51% 1271 6.06% 700 5.79% 744 9.09% 212375 6.55%
15 2632 5.82% 2113 5.98% 1187 5.66% 678 5.61% 744 9.09% 189610 5.85%
16 2178 4.82% 1684 4.77% 1067 5.09% 743 6.15% 706 8.63% 148506 4.58%
17 2327 5.15% 1876 5.31% 1181 5.63% 814 6.74% 706 8.63% 161898 4.99%
18 2283 5.05% 1975 5.59% 1211 5.77% 805 6.66% 676 8.26% 172869 5.33%
19 1999 4.42% 1701 4.82% 1029 4.91% 676 5.60% 652 7.97% 158126 4.88%

The last time I had over 800 visitors in a single day was in April, during the search for the Boston Marathon bombers, when I got 922 visitors on April 17 and 809 on April 18.

The current surge appears to be related to the 12th anniversary of when the news broke that an anthrax attack via the mails was underway.   The Daschle letter had just been opened, the Brokaw letter had been found, Ernesto Blanco was determined to have inhalation anthrax, and cases of cutaneous anthrax were reported at ABC and CBS.

It's now 12 years later, and Anthrax Truthers are still arguing about what really happened.  They each argue their own personal theory while somehow illogically feeling they are right because so many other people also have their own personal theories.  The specific theories are very often radically different, yet the theorists are inexplicably united because they all believe the government is wrong.  The cartoon I created in March is as true as ever:

Anthrax truthers and their arguments
You might think that it would be totally illogical for a Truther who believes the anthrax attacks were the work of some criminal mastermind to be cheering on a Truther who believes the attacks were the work of Muslim extremists.  But as illogical as that might seem to most people, it's evidently totally logical to Anthrax Truthers.  Click HERE.

In my Friday comment, I showed links to some videos of people in New York on 9/11, immediately after the first hijacked airliner crashed into the first Tower, telling reporters that there was some kind of explosion inside the building, that there was no airplane.  And, in spite of all the undeniable evidence to the contrary, that is still what one "9/11 Truther" believes.

Is that so different from an Anthrax Truther arguing that what Bruce Ivins' friends and co-workers claim is more valid than what investigators learned and what Dr. Majidi reported in his new book, because "Dr. Majidi substitutes his conjecture and supposition for the personal knowledge of these USAMRIID scientists on the key issues"?

In other words, aren't the beliefs of the eyewitness on 9/11 and the co-workers of Bruce Ivins more valid than all the facts and evidence gathered by all the investigators?  Isn't it clear that the only people who disagree with these theories are those who are too stupid to realize that everyone in the government is either incompetent or corrupt and can never be trusted?!

How many Truthers would agree with the Anthrax Truther who believes that the T in the second spelling of "DEATH" in the media letter is a "perfect" block letter-style Dalet from the Hebrew alphabet, and that the T was deliberately drawn that way to throw false suspicion on Israelis?  (The squiggly mark I added over the T in the illustration below is the cursive version of Dalet.)  And, because that lone T is a "perfect" Dalet, all the other T's in the media letter that are NOT perfect must also be Dalets, particularly the imperfect ones where the top crossbar is darkened by tracing over it.   (You just have to ignore the A's that are traced over, since there is nothing similar to them in the Hebrew alphabet.)  Who but a government lackey would disagree with this finding??!!
Comparing a T to a Hebew Dalet

Yet, while each Truther may think the theories of all other Truthers are insane, they stand united in their belief that the government is wrong and cannot be trusted.

As I've said many times, what has kept me fascinated all these years is the psychology of the Anthrax Truthers and how they all share so many identical thought processes.   Each Truther seems to have latched onto a unique idea that spawned their own personal theory.  Each thinks that only his personal theory is "the real truth."  And no Truther seems to be able to understand circumstantial evidence.  They seem to think in terms of absolutes: only "smoking gun" -type evidence is acceptable.  Without it, they feel their theory is as good as anyone else's. 

Just don't ask Truthers to provide better evidence for their theory than the government provided in the case against Bruce Ivins.  According to the Truthers, the government is hiding that information.  That's why none of the Truthers can make a good legal case for any of their own theories.  They can only argue against the government's case, bizarrely claiming that the government has no case.  Arguing that circumstantial evidence from the government isn't real evidence allows them to believe that their own circumstantial evidence (which the government is covering up or is incapable of finding) is real evidence, since they know their purely imaginary evidence supports what they believe.

It's all very logical, in an insanely illogical sort of way.

October 20, 2013 (A) - While it's "off-topic," I can't help but wonder if the two convicted murderers who were "mistakenly released" in Florida this week had anything to do with their own escape.  I get the distinct impression from the news stories that the two men were as surprised as everyone else when their sentences were suddenly reduced to time served.  There doesn't seem to be any evidence that they even knew each other before their release.  Were they so confident that their actions to engineer their own escape would never be uncovered that they made no serious attempt to disappear?  Or did they think they were accidentally or legally released?  After their release, they followed instructions and went back to the jail to register as newly released felons.  While it might be possible for them to arrange their own releases, it becomes a more interesting story if someone else did it without their knowledge.  There was another prisoner who was also about to be released due to the same kind of forged documents, but he didn't get away with it.  Did some unknown person within the system forge the documents for money or his own purposes?  Or did the prisoners learn of the escape technique from each other?

Either way, it will be interesting to find out how the early releases were engineered and if anyone else was involved.

UPDATE: According to USA Today, "someone was selling phony court documents for $8,000. He said officials had not determined whether the document dealer worked in the criminal justice system."  And more arrests are expected soon.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, October 13, 2013, thru Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 18, 2013 (B) - Hmm.  When I returned home from the health club this afternoon, there was an email in my inbox from Google informing me that someone using the name "Anonymous" tried to post a message to my interactive blog.  But, when I looked at the file of pending messages awaiting my okay, there was nothing there.  Then I checked the "Spam" file, and there it was.  Google classified the post as "Spam," and to allow it to post I have to declare that it is not "Spam."  It cetainly seems to qualify as "Spam" to me.  It's a message from a "9/11 truther" promoting a book he wrote in Russian in 2008, that's now available in English.  After doing some research, I find he's a Russian conspiracy theorist who also has 37 videos supposedly supporting his case.   It appears he believes the towers were brought down by some kind of nuclear device.

It's tempting to use his arguments as a supreme example of the lunacy of all "Truthers" and how they can argue the most incredible things.  I'm just going to leave his post in the "Spam" file, instead of letting it post to my blog.  But, I'm mentioning it here so people can check out the videos if they want.  Some are VERY interesting, since they show how confused things were before it became clear what was actually happening on 9/11.

Click HERE for a video of an NBC reporter talking about how the Chief of Safety of the NYC Fire Department told him there were explosive devices within the tower.

Click HERE for a video of a guy with a Russian accent telling a reporter it was a bomb, not a plane.

Click HERE for a video of a woman who apparently just saw the side of the building where the parts of the plane exited.  She thinks the explosion was "inside."

Click HERE for a video of a different woman who thought it was a bomb until a reporter tells her it was an plane.  (The plane hit the opposite side of the building.)

Click HERE for a 11-second video of the plane hitting the second tower, viewed from the street below.

Click HERE for a fascinating video of a Secret Service agent being interviewed by a CBS reporter inside Building 7 shortly before it collapsed.  The 9/11 Truther inexplicably describes the Secret Service agent as a "WTC nuclear demolition man."

Click HERE for videos of the planes hitting the buildings, videos which were then edited to eliminate the planes, apparently so that it can be claimed by malicious 9/11 Truthers that the planes were in reality edited INTO the 9/11 videos.

What puzzles me is how anyone can look at all the videos which clearly show the planes hitting the towers and yet believe that there were no planes, only nuclear bombs going off within the buildings.  Compared to the wild beliefs of this particular 9/11 Truther, the Anthrax Truthers seem almost "normal."  But, it's also clear that all "Truthers" use the same kind of "illogical logic."  Some are just a lot more illogical than others.

October 18, 2013 (A) - I just received acknowledgement of my October 9 Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request for the results of the August and September 2002 tests of the anthrax contamination within the AMI building in Boca Raton.  All it says is that a response will be mailed to me at "a later date."   I think that means they're going to send me a letter with a "request number" on it, and I'll have to check the FBI's FOIA web page to see if there has been anything released regarding that request number.  It appears that simple requests for information about the 2001 anthrax attacks now have a very low priority.  If I were writing a new book on the subject, things might be different.

October 17, 2013 (B) - Hmm.  Another one of those quasi- "Manchurian Candidates" appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday.   Dianne Reidy, a House stenographer, suddenly went off on a rant about
God, Free Masons and the inability of the nation to serve two masters:

“The greatest deception here is this is not one nation under God. It never was. Had it been, it would not have been. No. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Free Masons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise forever.”

Her actions follow the guy who performed a self-immolation on the Washington Mall last week, and the woman who tried to run barricades at the White House and was shot a few days before that.  All three actions seem connected to the government shutdown.

There seem to be a lot of unguided "Manchurian Candidates" out there just waiting to be pushed over the edge.  And in this age of the Internet and 24-hour news programs with commentators promoting extreme views, there's a lot of pushing going on.

I keep wanting to combine my observations of the thinking of political conservatives with the thinking of Truthers, specifically Anthrax Truthers, into one "Unified Theory of Absolutism," but it's going to take some time to sort everything out and come up with the right words and examples.  It all seems to be related to some kind of inability to see anything except in the absolute terms of: There's only my way and the wrong way.    

The problem is making a simple explanation for why people believe unbelievable things to be at least somewhat believable.  I'll keep working on it.

October 17, 2013 (A) - Ah!  The NASA "Picture of the Day" web site is working again.  It wasn't working during the government shutdown, but now it's up and running again, and there were 16 new images waiting this morning - one for each day of the shutdown.  Some seem to be duplicates of pictures I've viewed before, but most are new to me.  Here's one that's new:


The title of the picture is "Cometary Globules."  (Click on it to view a larger version.)   It's definitely off-topic, but I think it's a "neat" picture.   I've been an astronomy buff since I was a kid.  And, it somewhat relates to the two chapters in the book
"Brilliant Blunders" I've been reading about Lord Kelvin's "blunder" of miscalculating the age of the Earth.  Lord Kelvin was a brilliant man, but he lived in a time when so many things we routinely accept today were yet to be discovered (heat from radiation, convective currents within the Earth).  But, Lord Kelvin understood that there could be things he didn't know.  So, when he presented his calculations, he left the door open to the possibility of new discoveries of new methods for how to calculate the age of the Earth.

That's very different from "Truther" thinking, where they see no possibilty of there being a better or more accurate way of viewing things.  Truthers (including Anthrax Truthers, of course) know "the truth" beyond any possibility of error.  So, anyone who disagrees with them must be lying, scheming, or just plain stupid.  BTW, the chapter in "Brilliant Blunders" I just finished reading is titled "Certainty Generally Is Illusion."

Charles Darwin is quoted in the book as saying, "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."  That certainly seems to be the case on Lew Weinstein's blog where they seem to do nothing but ask meaningless questions, ignore answers and declare what they believe to be true regardless of what all the facts say.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge".
Read more at http://www.omg-facts.com/Celebs/It-Has-Been-Scientifically-Proven-That-T/26152#kWCCpXGudO0bGKMx.99
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge".
Read more at http://www.omg-facts.com/Celebs/It-Has-Been-Scientifically-Proven-That-T/26152#kWCCpXGudO0bGKMx.99

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge".
Read more at http://www.omg-facts.com/Celebs/It-Has-Been-Scientifically-Proven-That-T/26152#kWCCpXGudO0bGKMx.99

October 15, 2013 - Once again, I'm going to have to quote author Leo Rosten: "I never cease to be dumbfounded by the unbelievable things people believe." 

I'm also becoming fond of the term "illogical logic," which seems to describe the thought processes of many Anthrax Truthers very precisely and succinctly.

An Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog has been ranting for almost two years his inexplicable belief that Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Lieber did not know there was no "two person rule" at USAMRIID prior to the anthrax attacks.  I can find no place where he explains where she made that mistake or what significance it has.  And now he's doing the same thing with Dr. Majidi's new book

From October 11:

Why did Vahid Majidi not know that there was no two person rule at USAMRIID prior to January 2002? In his book, he generalizes from his own experience.
From October 12:

First, Vahid Majidi did not understand that the two person rule was not implemented at USAMRIID until January 2002. Thus his analysis in closing the Amerithrax investigation was inexcusable crock. He relied on his experience at Los Alamos rather than bothering to inform himself about the timing of a 2-person rule at USAMRIID, which was first implemented in January 2002.

From yesterday:

How did AUSA Lieber and Vahid Majidi not understand that there WAS NO TWO-PERSON RULE AT USAMRID prior to 2002. Their misunderstanding underlay the entire Ivins Theory. 
For Dr. Majidi to base his Ivins Theory on his mistaken assertion that a two person rule existed at USAMRIID in 2001 is unfathomable.
Dr. Majidi should correct his mistakes and stop marketing the false claim that there was a two person rule in 2001.
Dr. Majidi was wrong that there was a two person rule at USAMRIID in 2001. It was logically fallacious to merely assume that there was based on his own experience at his former employer.

Since my copy of Dr. Majidi's book is on Kindle, I could do searches for "rule" and for "person."  I found nothing to explain DXer's rantings.  However, it seems likely that people other than me may have been wondering what he was ranting about, and someone may have asked him, since, this morning, DXer posted a message which appears to be the explanation for where he got his screwball idea from.  DXer wrote:

In his new book Dr. Majidi discussed the importance to his theory that Dr. Ivins was alone in the hot suite. (The two animal rooms are within the hot suite, beyond the card key entry).

Dr. Majidi writes:

“this is not an accepted practice in hazardous laboratories.”

“We were also not allowed to work alone in any hazardous laboratory, at LANL.”

It, of course, does not matter whether researchers at LANL were allowed to work alone. The issue relates to USAMRIID — USAMRIID in Fall 2001.

The quote I highlighted in red comes from Chapter 9 of Dr. Majidi's book.  Here's some of the text surrounding that quote:

For the anthrax attack perpetrator to be able to produce the amount of material used to fill the attack letters, he required similar laboratory equipment as those in B-313 at USAMRIID. Looking at the access logs for B-313 revealed that, right before the two sets of anthrax letters were mailed, Bruce spent a significant number of late-night hours in B-313 alone; the complete time-line for hours spent in the hot suite is provided in DOJ’s case summary. A 2 year review of the access logs showed that late night work in the hot suites was not a common practice for Bruce Ivins and, moreover, this is not an accepted practice in hazardous laboratories. The entry and exit into a hot suite is not a trivial task; researchers must disrobe and change into appropriate personal protective clothing to get into the laboratory and must disrobe and shower when exiting.

Dxer seems to be thinking or falsely arguing that since Dr. Majidi says it is "not accepted practice in hazardous laboratories," that somehow means that Dr. Majidi didn't know it was indeed "accepted practice" at USAMRIID prior to the anthrax attacks.  And, Rachel Lieber may have at some point in time said something similar.

First of all, my reading of the sentence is that Dr. Majidi was saying that "late night work in the hot suites" is "not accepted practice in hazardous laboratories."  He's not saying anything about any two person rule.   Dr. Majidi's only error is leaving out a qualifier in his sentence.  He probably should have written:

A 2 year review of the access logs showed that late night work in the hot suites was not a common practice for Bruce Ivins and, moreover, this is generally not an accepted practice in hazardous laboratories.

Many other experienced lab workers have also pointed out in on-line discussions that the idea that Ivins could come in to work with dangerous pathogens in the middle of the night alone in his lab is just plain crazy.  No one would be allowed to do such a thing in most BSL-3 labs (check page 25 & 31 of the pdf file HERE.) Yet, it was not a problem for Dr. Ivins at USAMRIID.  And, that is why he was able to do what he did.

Rachel Lieber and Dr. Majidi undoubtedly know full well that Ivins was allowed to work alone with dangerous pathogens in his lab in the middle of the night, since it was a big part of their case against Ivins that he did exactly that without anyone at USAMRIID questioning him or even caring.  And Ivins left a document trail of his hours on the in-out key-card and access code logs that is key evidence in the case.  The fact that he was alone is important evidence showing he needed no accomplices to commit his crime.

Nevertheless, DXer used an Anthrax Truther's illogical logic on that sentence in Dr. Majidi's book to come up with a crazy idea that it somehow means that Dr. Majidi didn't know there was no two person rule at USAMRIID before the anthrax attacks, a situation which DXer considers to be "unfathomable."

What it shows is how an Anthrax Truther, working alone and using his own "illogical logic," can come up with an "unfathomable" belief that seems totally logical to  him, but which when presented to the outside world will look like the rantings of a mad man.

October 14, 2013 - There are many interesting observations to be found in Dr. Vahid Majidi's new book "
A Spore On The Grassy Knoll."  On my interactive blog, I just used one to show that the facts say that the J-Lo letter did not contain anthrax.  This is from Chapter 5 of Dr. Majidi's book:

A cursory examination of the four evidence letters revealed that all were postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey. The letters to New York Post and Tom Brokaw were postmarked on September 18th and letters to Senators Daschle and Leahy were postmarked on October 9th; clearly indicating that the letters were mailed in two different batches. While the letter to the AMI building was never recovered, the reconstruction of Mr. Robert Stevens’ infection time-line indicates that the AMI letter was among the September 18th letters mailed by the perpetrator.

So, "Mr. Robert Stevens' infection time-line" is consistent with the powder-filled letter opened by Stephanie Dailey on September 24 or 25, and it is inconsistent with the J-Lo package, which was opened on the 19th.  Plus, of course, while we do not know where or when the J-Lo letter was postmarked, it is virtually impossible for the J-Lo package to have postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey, on the 18th and opened in Boca Raton by Bobby Bender the next day.  So, it could not have been "among the September 18th letters mailed by the perpetrator." 

October 13, 2013 - Last week, I read Dr. Vahid Majidi's book "A Spore On The Grassy Knoll."  The title suggests he may have written it specifically to debunk the conspiracy theories surrounding the anthrax attacks of 2001, and he does do a very good job of debunking those theories after making the following declaration:

The opinions presented in this book are mine and not endorsed by the FBI.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, even though only the middle two thirds are specifically about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  And, Dr. Majidi wasn't involved with the Amerithrax investigation from the very beginning.

A couple months after the anthrax attacks of 2001, Dr. Majidi, who was then working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, was summoned to FBI headquarters in Washington to attend a one day meeting on December 7th where a group of top experts in various scientific fields were asked to do some brain storming about the best ways to find useable scientific evidence in the Amerithrax investigation. 

That one-day meeting was his first involvement with the Amerithrax case.  I found his description of it to be fascinating, like the opening scenes from a thriller.  I would like to have been a fly on the wall watching those top experts try to figure out what scientific evidence would best meet the standards for a criminal prosecution case in court, and how investigators should go about gathering such evidence.

Then the meeting was over, and Dr. Majidi returned to Los Alamos.  For a few months he would take phone calls from the
Attorney General's Chief Science Advisor (CSA) in Washington, D.C., as they tried resolve questions resulting from the one day meeting.

Then in January 2003, Dr. Majidi was asked to take temporary leave from his position at Los Alamos for one year to become the Attorney General's temporary CSA.  Although it meant he'd be seeing his family only about once a month, he took the assignment.  Majidi writes in Chapter 3:

As the DOJ’s Science guy (my nickname dubbed and propagated by John Ashcrofts’ Deputy, James Comey), one of the key projects in my portfolio was the Amerithrax case. 

After the year was over, he was asked to remain for another year.  He did so, and he became "somewhat of an expert on many facets of forensic data related to the Amerithrax case."  But he was not directly involved with the investigation:

During my tenure at DOJ, I did not have access or visibility into the actual investigation but I was given full access to all scientific and forensic information.

In January 2005, Dr. Majidi was again asked to remain as the AG's CSA for another year, but he declined and returned to his family and job in Los Alamos where he was the Chemistry Department's "head honcho in the best chemistry complex in the world."

Then, in December 2005, which would have been around the time that Bruce Ivins was becoming the prime suspect in the Amerithrax case, Dr. Majidi was again summoned to Washington.  This time, he was asked to create and head up a totally new division within the FBI: "The Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate," which would try to prevent future WMD attacks.  He declined the offer and provided a list of names of other people who should be considered.  In February 2006, he was asked again.  He accepted, he told his family they were moving to Washington, and on May 16, 2006 he began his new job.

His new job included sitting in on weekly meetings reporting on the progress of the Amerithrax investigation and, of course, becoming familiar with the entire case.   Dr. Majidi's favorite word at this point becomes "attribution."

Attribution, in the law enforcement and intelligence framework, is the process of identifying the responsible party that committed a crime or an act of terrorism. It is common to mistake the attribution process with forensic analysis and results. In practice, attribution is a confluence of forensic analysis, intelligence analysis, and investigative results.

In May 2006, Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins was the prime suspect for some agents working the Amerithrax investigation.  Dr. Majidi discusses how Steven Hatfill had earlier become a suspect, but he barely mentions the campaign by Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and just refers to "eight different individuals" who had come forward by February 2002 to point at Hatfill as being a key possibility for the perpetrator.  He wrote,

In mid-2005, the forensic evidence was pointing away from Dr. Hatfill and it was guiding the FBI toward the RMR-1029 flask at USAMRIID. But by this time, some of the FBI investigators had become too committed to the Hatfill cause. When I joined the FBI in 2006, there was a clear delineation between the two investigative camps. Some were convinced that Dr. Hatfill was the guy. Others believed in the fidelity of the evidence material leading them to the RMR-1029. The FBI Director was keenly aware of this issue and he decided that the best approach was to assign a new primary investigator to take charge of the Amerithrax case. The Director named Special Agent Edward Montooth to lead this effort (Ed to his coworkers). Ed is among the most logical and methodical people that I have met.

Since Dr. Majidi didn't really get deeply involved in the Amerithrax case until mid-2006, some of what he believes about earlier events are just his personal understanding.   But, there seems to be no doubt in his mind that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.  And, he focuses much of his book on the specious arguments from conspiracy theorists:

The four fundamental elements that every persistent conspiracy theory needs is (at a minimum): (1) an inherent suspicion of the government agency involved, (2) a false narrative propagated through urban legends, (3) a pedestrian alternate solution, and (4) famous advocates that step forward in opposition to the accepted narrative. Alas, the Amerithrax case certainly crosses over the threshold for every one of the above elements.

Among the "urban legends" he includes the conspiracy theory that the attack spores were "weaponized."  He cites a Federation of American Scientists' "Fact Sheet" as helping to propagate this "urban legend."  The so-called "Fact Sheet" still says:

B. anthracis was delivered in letters via the United States Postal Service and resulted in 22 infections, 11 inhalation and 11 cutaneous anthrax. The 5 fatal cases were caused by inhalation anthrax. The letters were sent in 2 waves, one in late September and one in mid-October. The second wave of letters contained a more dangerous weaponized B. anthracis, resulting in 9 cases of inhalation anthrax, versus 2 for the first wave.

Dr. Majidi explains in great detail the evidence that the spores in the senate letters were NOT weaponized, regardless of what the FAS and the conspiracy theorists say.

As an example of a "pedestrian alternate solution" used by conspiracy theorists, he cites a USA Today article from October 2, 2011, titled "Al Qaeda lab lingers in anthrax story" which promotes the possibility that all the evidence against Ivins is meaningless and al Qaeda may actually have been behind the attacks, even though there is no real evidence so support an al Qaeda theory:

So, those who still voice doubts about the investigation, such as Rep. Rush Holt, D. - N.J., can point to the al Qaeda threat as a still unsettled alternative to the anthrax attacks. Scientists would like to see more basic research done on anthrax in case of another attack.

As I showed in my Friday comment, Dr. Majidi goes to some lengths to prove that the al Qaeda theory has no basis in reality.  And there is a lot more in the book than just what I wrote about on Friday. 

Dr. Majidi also addresses the Bacillus subtilis contamination issue in detail, along with just about every other issue the conspiracy theorists argue.  For the conspiracy theorist claim that the spore powders were most likely made at Dugway, he points out that Bruce Ivins bitched and moaned that the Dugway spores he received for RMR-1029 were in bad shape and that he had to "clean them up."  Ivins even discarded a seventh shipment because he deemed it inadequate for his needs.  In other words, the spores in the senate letters were the way Ivins made spores, not the way Dugway made spores.

While I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in the anthrax attacks of 2001, I should point out that, in addition to the typos I mentioned in my comment on Friday, Dr. Majidi's book does contain one specific (but very minor) "error" that jumped out at me.   On the subject of how the Ames strain got its name, Dr. Majidi wrote:

The [Texas A&M] laboratory used a container and packing from a previous shipment they had received from the USDA’s National Veterinary Service Laboratories in Ames, Iowa when they shipped the new Bacillus anthracis isolate to the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). Because the original label from Ames, Iowa was still on the “recycled” package used by the Texas laboratory, USAMRIID researchers mistakenly believed the strain was from Ames, Iowa. Thus, the new strain of Bacillus Anthracis from Texas was named Ames Strain.

But according to The New York Times,

The Texas lab sent the iced specimens to Fort Detrick with a prepaid mailing label that Dr. Knudson has carefully preserved among his papers. Its return address is not Texas A&M at College Station but rather the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, in Ames, Iowa, an arm of the federal Agriculture Department that does diagnostic tests for state and foreign veterinary labs.

The Texas laboratory frequently sent shipments to Ames using prelabeled boxes with prepaid postage. In this case, it put on an additional label to redirect the box to Fort Detrick, with the national laboratory in Ames as the return address.

So, Texas A&M did not use a "recycled" box and label (which would imply that the USDA had some reason to send samples to Texas A&M), it was a clean box from a stack of boxes Texas A&M used to routinely ship samples to the USDA in Ames.  Texas A&M merely put a different label over the TO address:

Ames sample label

While this is a very very minor "error," it does pose a very interesting question for debaters of the case:  Who should be believed in this specific disagreement, Dr. Majidi of the FBI or The New York Times?

Since Dr. Majidi had no inside access to the investigation until mid-2006, it would seem that his knowledge of the label issue from late 2001 involves a simple misunderstanding about what he read somewhere - maybe in the New York Times.  There are so many details in the case, that no one could be expected to remember all of the specifics.  Plus, the New York Times explanation simply makes more sense.  If Texas A&M frequently sent packages with pre-paid labels on them to the USDA in Ames, why would they reuse a box that was sent to them from the USDA?  Why not use a  new box from the stack?  And how often does the USDA send Texas A&M anything? 

And, if Texas A&M re-used a postage paid label, wouldn't that be against the law?  It would seem to me that if a label can be used over and over again, that means that the Post Office is transporting shipments for free.  I would think that every pre-paid label that gets printed requires a payment to the Post Office.  And it can be used only once.  If a postage-paid label can be used over and over, there would have to be some automatic way to bill the USDA every time the label goes through the system - like some kind of bar code on the label.   As can be plainly seen, there is no bar code on the label (although there appears to be a code - AGR 104 - that can be read by a human).

But, I could be wrong.  We live in an imperfect world where everyone makes mistakes, including me.  If I'm wrong on this, I'll probably get an email from someone telling me so. And a certain Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog will almost certainly claim that this disagreement with "the FBI" makes me an "Anthrax Truther," too.   No, it doesn't.  Anthrax Truthers use beliefs to argue against facts.  I'm using facts to argue against what appears to be Dr. Majidi's mistaken belief.  And, unlike Anthrax Truthers, I will happily admit I was wrong if facts can be found which prove me wrong.

Lastly, as stated at the beginning of this comment, the opinions in Dr. Majidi's book are his, and not anything official from the FBI.  So, when he expertly shoots down conspiracy theories one by one, he's doing so as a private citizen, not as an official of the FBI speaking for the FBI.  But it is certainly refreshing to have a "private citizen" expert backing me up in what I've been arguing for nearly 12 years.  Thank you, Dr. Majidi!

Updates & Changes: Sunday, October 6, 2013, thru Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 11, 2013 - I finished reading Dr. Majidi's book
"A Spore On The Grassy Knoll" this morning at around 10:30 a.m.  I'd finished 84% of it before supper yesterday, so I only had a short bit to go this morning.  I can see why "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog is so upset.  Dr. Majidi dismisses the bulk of DXer's theories in no uncertain terms.  This quote is from Chapter 8, a point 40% of the way through the book (I'd really like to cite a page number, like in the "good old days," but I can't do that with this book):

In short, the FBI traveled the world and visited every possible place (as indicated by intelligence) that al Qaeda may have had established a capability to produce anthrax. This effort also produced negative results. Today we know that while al Qaeda was attempting to start an offensive bioweapons program, they never got beyond the initial stages. Al Qaeda simply lacked the necessary expertise and appropriate starting material.

And in Chapter 9 (at the 41% point), Dr. Majidi wrote:

For our purpose, it is tremendously useful to be able to exclude various hypotheses and suspects. For instance, by examining the genetics information from the Bacillus anthracis in the attack letters and identifying the Ames strain, looking at the intelligence, forensic, and investigative data collected domestically and overseas, we can exclude the possibility of hostile foreign governments, a state-sponsored terrorist group, or al Qaeda as being responsible for the mailings.

Dr. Majidi further debunks the Muslim terrorist theory in Chapter 11 at about the 67% point.   I can see how this would upset DXer, who seems to have dedicated his life to arguing - against all evidence - that Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks.

While I plan to write a full review for this web site as part of my Sunday comment, a few comments here won't detract from that.  I notice that Dr. Majidi's book is evidently "self published," and it contains a few minor typos (He used "suit" instead of "suite" several times when referring to the suite of labs in the Bacteriology Division at USAMRIID (which is at one point spelled "U.S.AMRIID"))  Nevertheless, I found it very interesting and well-worth reading, even if another reader named "G. Bodley" wrote this last night in his review on the Amazon web site:

I've been reading Majidi's book, "A Spore On A Grassy Knoll," and it just makes me want to puke. ....

The formatting for Kindle is double spaced which actually makes it harder to read. Not too astute for someone who purports himself to be a top scientist who pays careful attention to detail. Moreover he tends to write long run on sentences that at times make no sense at all. After conjecturing almost all of his "evidence" he has the nerve to attack "conspiracy theorists" who may find fault with his conjectures.

Frankly, I think it's the double spacing that enabled me to zip through the 134 page (approx.) book in about 5 hours.  It makes the reading really easy.   I could probably have finished it in less than 4 hours if I wasn't constantly pausing to go through the steps to "highlight" passages in my Kindle for later reference.

There are two very positive (5 star) reviews on the Amazon site to counter the negative (1-star) review by Mr. Bodley.  I may add a 4-star review when I get the time.

October 10, 2013 -
Hmm.  For days, the Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer" has been using Lew Weinstein's blog to rant endlessly (and seemingly irrationally) against Dr. Vahid Majidi, the FBI's Assistant Director for their Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate.  I didn't bother reading most of the rants, since they looked like just more of his "routine ranting," and I never bothered to try to figure out why he was ranting.  But, a new thread on that blog explains why.   Dr. Majidi has written a new book about the anthrax attacks of 2001, and "DXer" disapproves of it.  So does Lew Weinstein.  It appears they're upset because the book isn't written according to the illogical standards demanded by the Anthrax Truthers.  The book is titled "A Spore On The Grassy Knoll." I just purchased a digital copy for $3.99 and downloaded it into my Kindle.

I don't expect to find much in it that's new, but, since it's from a different point of view, it could be interesting reading.  It's a short book, less than 200 pages in paperpack.  So, I'm setting aside "Brilliant Blunders" for awhile (after setting aside "On Foot Across China" for while) to read Dr. Majidi's new book.  If nothing else, it should give me something to write about for my regular Sunday comment.

October 9, 2013 - It may be a total waste of time, but I just sent in an FOIA request to the FBI to get the results of the search warrant issued on August 26, 2002, to search the AMI building in Boca Raton.  I mentioned the FBI search in my supplemental page about the so-called "J-Lo letter," but I don't recall ever seeing any official findings, only incorrect news reports falsely claiming that the anthrax was carried throughout the building by people carrying copy paper to copy machines from the stock in the mailroom.

The problem is: Anthrax Truthers still endlessly argue that the "J-Lo letter" was the letter that contained the anthrax, and they point to a CDC report as their evidence.  The CDC report says the J-Lo letter "most likely" contained the anthrax.  But the CDC's "evidence" was based upon unreliable witness interviews, not any actual evidence resulting from a scientific sampling.  I'm hoping that there was an official report on what was concluded as a result of the findings from the Aug. 26, 2002 search warrant.

I know that FBI scientists determined that the letter opened by Stephanie Dailey was the only letter AMI received that contained anthrax, but I don't know if they ever stated that in an actual document that can be obtained and read by the public.   I'm hoping my Freedom Of Informatin Act request will locate such a document.

October 7, 2013 - Someone just sent me a link to a PubChase article titled "What hurts science - rejection of good or acceptance of bad?" that severely criticizes the Science magazine article I mentioned in my October 4 (B) comment.  The PubChase article says:

The real problem in science is not that bad papers get published; that has always been and will continue to be the case. The real problem is that good and important papers are rejected and delayed from publication by journals such as Science.  These delays hurt the progress of science and they demoralize and ruin careers.

Finally, when it comes to publishing bad research, Science is not the journal that should be pointing fingers. The 2011 editorial “Retracted Science and the Retraction Index” showed unambiguously that the higher the journal’s impact factor, the higher its retraction rate. Not surprisingly, Science had the second worst retraction rate of all the journals considered in that editorial.

Which, of course, reminds me of my January 2006 attempt to get Science magazine to retract their article "Anthrax Powders: State of the Art?" which was filled with scientific nonsense. But, they wouldn't retract it because they said it was "a news article; it didn't report original research."  Unfortunately, countless scientists seem to have used that nonsense "news article" as a reference when writing other scientific papers.  One of the comments following the PubChase article states the case very well:

Honestly, most science (even in fancy journals) is pretty stupid and pointless. Probably some of my work as well. The really bad stuff gets out no matter what, and it’s just not worth policing – that stuff does not drive any sort of scientific discussion. It’s the bad stuff at Science and Nature that are the most damaging, because they actually influence scientific discussion, often inflating entire fields of bogus science for decades…

October 6, 2013 (B) - The Anthrax Truther has posted a new message on my interactive blog using logic that is so stunningly illogical, that I'm at a loss for words on how to respond.  Like nearly everything he writes, it's cryptic in the extreme.  It's mostly about his imagined reasoning for why T's were "Hebrewized" in the Brokaw letter but not in other documents.   There  is no "sense" to any of it.  But, how do I explain to someone who makes no sense that he's making no sense and that other explanations he totally dismisses make infinitely more sense?  And is it worth the effort?   

October 6, 2013 (A) - Uh oh.  I'm starting this morning without having a single word written for this regular Sunday comment.  So, I'm going to have to just "wing it."  Here goes:

I'd hoped there would be some Sunday magazine article about the 12th anniversary of the anthrax letters, but I'm finding nothing.  All I see is an article from the Blog of Legal Times titled "D.C. Court to Publish Documents Mistakenly Kept Secret."  The article says that some of the documents relate to the anthrax attacks of 2001, but all I can find are three search warrants (each listed twice) that I've had in my archives since 2008.  So, while the DC court may have kept them secret, the FBI must have released them elsewhere long ago.  (I found them by clicking on the link within the article and doing a search for "Ivins."  Searches for "anthrax" and "Stevens" found nothing.)

Meanwhile, this morning someone sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal article titled "Lee Harvey Oswald, Disappointed Revolutionary."  While I haven't yet read all of it, it seems to make a very good case for Oswald acting alone in the assassination of JFK. 

However, and coincidentally (undoubtedly because of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination), another email in my inbox this morning was from Amazon.com advertising a new book titled "Cold Case Kennedy: A New Investigation into the Assassination of JFK," by Flip de May.  It's published by Lannoo Publishers, a name I never heard of.  So, I did some research.  It appears to be a Belgian publisher.   The author separates the two camps arguing about the assassination into "believers" (those who believe the findings of the Warren Commission) and the "conspiracists" (those who will believe in any theory, as long as the theory disagrees with the Warren Commission).  From what I can tell after "looking inside" at the first few pages, the author is going to examine all the evidence again and then produce his own opinion.  That's what he considers a "new investigation."  And, it's of no interest to me.

But I thought it was interesting that those two emails related to the JFK assassination should appear in my email a day after I found this cartoon:

Peter Gunn cartoon

I found the cartoon while researching "Peter Gunn" just to see what I could find.  Last week, I was wandering around in a WalMart store and bought a 2 DVD set of "The Best of Peter Gunn - Season 1" with 20 episodes for just $5. 
It's a half hour detective show from 1958.  So far, I've only watched 4 episodes, but they were all unexpectedly well done, very interesting and definitely "cool."  I probably watched the episodes when they originally aired, but I had no clear memories of them.   The music, however, requires no strain to remember.  I listen to jazz every day as I work on my computer, and the Peter Gunn theme by Henri Mancini pops up more than once as I go through about 200 tapes of jazz and blues.  The full cycle takes about two months.

Which takes me about as far off-topic as one can get.

The guy who set himself on fire on the Washington Mall yesterday, and the woman who rammed police barracades and cars and got herself killed not far away the previous day, could be subjects for comment - particularly as followups to my thoughts on September 26 about modern-day "Manchurian Candidates."  But, there doesn't seem to be any news yet about what caused the guy to salute the capital and then set himself afire, or even who he was.  And, without more information, thoughts about it are hard to come by.

I made some progress on my new book last week, but it was like one step forward and then two steps back as I found myself getting into a book subject that would provide very little room for humor, and I really want to write something with a lot of humor in it.

The only other subject I can think of to write about this morning is the progress of my discussions with an Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog.  I don't know if I'm making any progress or not.  I've proven at least one of his beliefs to be totally false, but I can't get him to acknowledge that - or dispute it.  He's just arguing about other irrelevant matters, so there's no way to tell what his thoughts are about being proved wrong.   I need to find some way to get him to stick to a subject until it's resolved.

So, I've now written a comment about how there isn't anything to write a comment about.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, September 29, 2013, thru Saturday, October 5, 2013

October 5, 2013 - Twelve years ago today, Bob Stevens died of inhalation anthrax.  At the time, no one had any idea how he'd been infected.  He'd been on vacation in North Carolina when he began showing symptoms around Sunday, September 30.  He and his wife drove home to Lantana, Florida, and when Stevens continued to feel worse, his wife drove him to a hospital in nearby Atlantis,
arriving at about 2 a.m. on the morning of October 2.  Since it was extremely unusual to find a case of inhalation anthrax in Florida, a lot of consulting had to be done between doctors and agencies before it was officially confirmed on the 4th that Stevens had indeed become infected with inhalation anthrax.

It would be many weeks before it would be realized that Bob Stevens was the 8th victim to show symptoms related to the first anthrax mailing.  None of the others had yet been diagnosed.  And, while the anthrax killer, Dr. Bruce Ivins, was reportedly a "basket case" because of what it  appeared he may have done (he was trying to convince himself that Stevens' death was just a coincidence and totally unrelated to the anthrax-laced letter he'd sent to the National Enquirer in Lantana), Ivins was nevertheless moving forward with a second mailing.  For the second mailing he was using a refined anthrax powder potentially ten times as lethal as the powder in the first batch of letters.

If the media organizations to which Ivins had sent the anthrax letters had all reacted in terror the way he had planned, there probably wouldn't have been any need for a second mailing.  But all the media letters had been ignored.  History was not unfolding as Ivins had planned.  His second batch of letters would create the panic he wanted, but it would also cause more unplanned deaths.  And the last of the deaths that were the direct result of what he'd done would be his own -- by suicide, seven years later.

October 4, 2013 (B) - Someone just sent me a link to a new Science magazine article titled "Who's Afraid of Peer Review" and a blog thread titled "Science Magazine 'Sting Operation' Catches Predatory Journals In the Act" which is about the Science article.

It seems that a science writer named John Bohannon, who works for Science magazine, wrote and sent out a phony scientific article (about imaginary anti-cancer properties of a chemical extracted from lichen) to 304 peer-reviewed, open-access journals around the world.  The article had a phony name for the author scientist (
Ocorrafoo Cobange), a phony university where the science was done (the Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara), and the article was filled with obvious scientific errors.  According to Bohannon,

Any reviewer with more than a high-school knowledge of chemistry and the ability to understand a basic data plot should have spotted the paper's short-comings immediately. Its experiments are so hopelessly flawed that the results are meaningless.

Nonetheless, 157 open-access scientific journals accepted it for publication - providing, of course, that the fee for publishing it was paid in full.  98 rejected it.

Acceptance was the norm, not the exception. The paper was accepted by journals hosted by industry titans Sage and Elsevier. The paper was accepted by journals published by prestigious academic institutions such as Kobe University in Japan. It was accepted by scholarly society journals. It was even accepted by journals for which the paper's topic was utterly inappropriate, such as the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Assisted Reproduction.

This undoubtedly explains how the articles
"Evidence for the Source of the 2001 Attack Anthrax" and "The 2001 Anthrax Attack: Key Observations" got published.

October 4, 2013 (A) - The hardback copies of "Brilliant Blunders" and "The United States of Paranoia" that I ordered from Amazon.com on September 15 just arrived.  So, I'll set aside "Across China on Foot" for awhile and start on "Brilliant Blunders."

October 3, 2013 - As expected, when confronted with solid evidence that his theory about the writing in the anthrax letters was invalid, the Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog promptly changed the subject.  So, now we're arguing about words again.  Specifically, similes.  Is this a simile?:

"a non-Latin writing system is like a rubber ducky: once more-or-less figured out, it floats away, revealing the 'backside' of the language, whether yellow and bobbing, or sinking and upside-down."

A basic definition of the word "simile" is:

sim·i·le ˈsiməlē/
noun: simile; plural noun: similes
a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (e.g., as brave as a lion , crazy like a fox ).

Does comparing "a non-Latin writing system" to a "rubber ducky" make the description more emphatic or vivid?  Is a simile a simile just because a comparison is made between two different things?  Is this a simile: "Red is like blue.Or does the simile also have to be make the comparison more emphantic and vivid?

That's the nature of our current debate.   Is the quote below a simile or jibberish?  Does it make the description more emphatic and vivid, or does confuse and muddy?:

"a non-Latin writing system is like a mask: once more-or-less figured out, it descends, revealing the 'face' of the language, whether friendly and appealing, or hostile and off-putting."

Here are a few emphatic and vivid similes for comparison:
  • "You know life, life is rather like opening a tin of sardines. We're all of us looking for the key."
    (Alan Bennett, Beyond the Fringe, 1960)

  • "Human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we bang out tunes that make bears dance, when we want to move the stars to pity."
    (Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, 1856)

  • "Humanity, let us say, is like people packed in an automobile which is traveling downhill without lights at terrific speed and driven by a four-year-old child. The signposts along the way are all marked 'Progress.'"
    (Lord Dunsany)

  • Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
    Donkey: They stink?
    Shrek: Yes. No!
    Donkey: They make you cry?
    Shrek: No!
    Donkey: You leave them out in the sun, they get all brown, start sprouting little white hairs.
    Shrek: No! Layers! Onions have layers!
    (Shrek, 2001)
Obviously, the current debate with the Anthrax Truther has nothing to do with the anthrax attacks of 2001.  That's because arguing with an Anthrax Truther is like arguing with a tube of gray putty; no matter how I apply pressure, or how much pressure I apply, or how much I wish it would explain why putty is a better theory about who sent the anthrax letters than the FBI's case against Bruce Ivins, all it seems to be able to do is dispense useless, indecipherable gray putty when I have no need for putty of any color.

(If I had the time, I could probably write a better simile than that, but I'm as busy as a one-armed paper hanger with a case of the hives.)

October 2, 2013 - Best-selling novelist Tom Clancy died today at the age of 66.   I'm a big fan of the movies made of his books, and there was a time when I was a big fan of his novels.  He is on my mind today for another reason: I'm trying to develop a plot for my new novel that would be something like a Tom Clancy book: It requires attempting to thwart a plot by the bad guys that is on the scale of 9/11.  Plus, my regular daily Google search for the terms "anthrax" and "2001" found a reprint of an interview with Clancy from the  December 2001 issue of The Washingtonian in which Tom Clancy described his thoughts about the anthrax attacks of that year:  

We have to figure out who's behind this anthrax stuff. I don't think it's Osama bin Laden, at least not entirely. I've never heard of a University of Kabul Medical School with people with the biochemical knowledge to execute this anthrax campaign. Whether it's some lunatic American local or some foreign national living in the United States who is similarly crazy or some overseas operation, you just don't know yet. I'll leave that to the FBI; I don't know.

[Question:] How bad can the anthrax threat get?

When I was doing Executive Orders, I talked about Ebola to people who know about infectious diseases and their use as weapons of war, and guys told me that these weapons are more psychological than physical.

We are seeing that. We've had people die. We probably had more people die from lightning strikes in the same period of time. But we don't care about them, although they are just as dead.

So more than anything else, you have a psychological weapon that's achieving its objective of frightening the American population, certainly the American media.

[Question;] Are the media overreacting?

The media usually do. They say America is in a panic. Well, they are talking about themselves because this time they have been targeted. Maybe they will recognize that they are indeed citizens of America, not part of some international elite and immune from the normal vicissitudes of life. If so, maybe it will be a useful lesson for them.

Or maybe not.

October 1, 2013 - Hmm.  It just happened again.  My morning Google search to see what news there is about "anthrax" and "2001" produced an new article titled "Biological Weapons" from "The Frontier Post" and dated today.  "The Frontier Post" is an English language newspaper published in  Peshawar, Pakistan.   Like the PressTV article from Iran that I mentioned in my September 26 comment, "The Frontier Post" gives a view of events from a totally different angle.  The article says this about the anthrax attacks of 2001:

On September 11, 2001, unidentified offenders sent out anthrax contaminated letters, killing 5 people.

The errors I highlighted in red ended any potential curiosity I might have had about what else might be in the paper.

September 30, 2013 - The ongoing argument with the Anthrax Truther on my Interactive blog produced a couple interesting things this morning.   First, in a long, three-part post about his theories and about how he doesn't approve of the way I argue my case, he posted an addition to his argument that the person who wrote the anthrax letters was trying to imitate writing Hebrew characters and did it in an "unnatural and contrived" way.  The Truther wrote (with highlighting in red done by me):

Back to the capital 'T': since it is typically BEGUN with the crossbar, it tends to show a great similarity to the copybook version of the letter. In particular it's going to be rare that the crossbar is too far to the left or right. Because the printer is going to a) eye the crossbar he has just made b) put his writing instrument at dead center of that crossbar and c) drop a straight line down to the baseline.

Not difficult AT ALL. So the too-far-to-the-left 'T' crossbar of the word 'DEATH' of line 4, AND the too-far-but-not-quite-so-far-as-that-of-line-4 'T' crossbar of the word 'DEATH' of line 3 are simply not credible as 'accidents' (vagaries or chance variants) of the printing

In other words, he claims no one is going to accidentally draw a T with the vertical line off-center, because everyone in the world draws a T by first drawing the horizontal line and then drawing the vertical line by starting in the middle of the horizontal line.  And, since the T's in the two spellings of "DEATH" in the media letter are both off-center, one more than the other, that is proof that someone did it deliberately in order to make the T's look similar to the Hebrew character "Dalet."  Below is my illustration from that blog entry showing the two spellings of "DEATH" and the Hebrew character:

T's with vertical line off-center

Of course, the first thing I did after reading his post was a Google image search for block letter handwriting examples, and in a matter of seconds I found three examples of people writing T's with the vertical line off-center.  Click HERE, HERE, and HERE.  The first two are from children, the third is from an adult.  I could probably find a dozen more if I wanted to spend the time on it and look for examples in images of longer and smaller handwriting samples.   Arguing that writing a T with  the vertical line off center can't be done by accident is almost beyond comprehension.  The facts seem to indicate it's a relatively common writing peculiarity or variation.

So, now I'm waiting for a response.  (I assume he'll just change the subject.)

But, while looking for those examples of off-center T's, I found this interesting image:

child's handwriting - tracing over

It's an illustration from some kind of blog entry titled "Handwriting [Practice] Could Make Your Children Smarter."

While the capital T is fairly well centered, I found it extremely interesting that the horizontal line in the T is traced over (or "highlighted), but not the vertical line (the same way T's were "highlighted" in the media anthrax letter).  Plus, the capital A is also traced over (very much like the A's in the media anthrax letter).  I think it's a terrific example of how a child would highlight or trace over certain characters of the alphabet.  And, it makes me kick myself for not at least trying to get some local teachers to produce first grade handwriting samples for me.  The blog entry appears to be from 2011, the writing sample could be from any time and anywhere, and there are very many differences between this sample and the handwriting in the anthrax letters, so there is absolutely NO reason to believe it is from the child who wrote the anthrax letters.

September 29, 2013 -
In case you haven't figure it out by now, I'm having a bad case of "writers block."  I should be writing a new book, but, instead, I'm doing everything and anything else that I can think of to do except working on a new book.  I've learned how to register and operate my Kindle, I've read 4 novels on it, I've hunted all over for town and the Internet for another novel to read, I've argued with an Anthrax Truther who makes no sense at all, and I've written long comments about what I've been doing for display on this web site.

I spent all day Friday creating images and writing a new thread for my interactive blog to debunk an illogical theory that probably only one person in the entire world believes and which, if I were in my right mind, I'd simply ignore.

I can feel the pressures building.  I really need to get to work on a new book.  And, I'm thinking about it more and more -- particularly while walking on the tread mill at the health club, but also while writing various things for this web page.

I have a basic idea, the "Gizmo" device I mentioned in my July 14, 2013 comment.  But, I still have no characters and no plot.

However, I now think it should be a "first person narrative," which I've never done before in a work of fiction.  In fact, I tend to shy away from most first person narrative novels when I read fiction.  I generally prefer third person narratives when writing and reading.  Yet, by pure happenstance, all four novels that I read in the past couple weeks have been first person narratives.  "A Columbus of Mars" was written the way Dr. Watson writes about his adventures with Sherlock Holmes.  "The War Of The Worlds" was written with H.G. Wells telling the story as if it had happened to him.  "Edison's Conquest of Mars" was written with the author, Garrett P. Serviss, telling the story as if he were helping Thomas Edison conquer Mars.  And, Everett Hitch, the person narrating the tale told in the western novel "Appaloosa" is the deputy to the main character, Virgil Cole, who is the Town Marshall in Appaloosa, Colorado.

Plus, I've been searching used book stores, the Internet and my local library for the  novel, "Killing Floor," by Lee Child, which is a first person narrative told by the fictional character Jack Reacher (the same "Jack Reacher" of the 2012 movie with that name).  Lee Child has written 18 Jack Reacher novels since he began with "Killing Floor" in 1997 - one per year, except for 2010, during which he wrote two.  So, there's a definite market for first person narratives.

What I'm doing as I type the words you are currently reading is writing a first person narrative.  But, if I write a first person narrative novel with some fictional person telling the story, I don't think he/I should be the main character.  My past novels suffered because all the characters were too much like me.  If I write in first person talking about someone else who is the main character, I think I may be able to do a better job of creating an interesting fictional character.  And, if I can do it with one character, I can do it with other characters in the book.

Plot is going to be the main problem.  Using the "Gizmo" device can require that two or three people sit in a "room" together for days - or even weeks - just keeping themselves busy while waiting for something to happen.  If I skip over all the waiting and go straight to the happenings, I may lose a golden opportunity to develop the characters.  Imagine the scientist (man, woman, old, young) who invented the Gizmo being confined in a room for two weeks with a soldier, or a doctor, or a detective, or another scientist (whichever the plot requires).  They're definitely going to learn a lot about each other, they're going to have to avoid driving each other nuts, and, if it's a man and a woman, they'll have to remain focused on the task or mission that put them in the "room" in the first place.

One thing "Appaloosa" and all the Jack Reacher novels have in common, along with most of my favorite novels, is snappy dialog - laced with humor.  Below is a section from the novel "Appaloosa" (the Kindle version had blank lines between paragraphs):

     Mrs. French played the piano very badly, but she played loud, and she was pretty and she smiled nice and wore dresses with a low neck and generated considerable heat and mostly nobody noticed. During her break she came over and sat at a table with me. I was drinking coffee.
     I said, “Care for a drink, Mrs. French?”
     “No, but I’ll have some coffee with you,” she said. “And, please, call me Allie.”
     I nodded at Tilda and she came over with coffee for Allie, and a second cup for me.
     “Have you known Mr. Cole for long, Mr. Hitch?”
     “Call me Everett, and I’m pretty sure you should call Mr. Cole Virgil.”
     She smiled and looked down. The gesture looked practiced. Probably was.
     “Have you known Virgil long, Everett?” she said.
     “And have you and he always been marshals here?” 
     “No. We just arrived couple weeks ago,” I said.
     “Where were you before?”
     “We been all over out here,” I said. “Virgil gets hired to settle things down in towns that need settling, and I go with him, and after the town gets settled, then we move on and find another town that needs settling.”
     “Are you what they call ‘town tamers’?” she said.
     “If you read those dime novels.”
     “What do you call yourselves?” she said.
     “Don’t know as we ever have,” I said.
     “Do you kill people?”
     “Now and then,” I said.
     Her eyes were up now and on me. It was always about the killing. I’d met a lot of women who were fascinated with the killing. They were horrified, too, but it was more than that.
     “A few,” I said.
     “And Virgil?”
     “More than a few,” I said.
     “What’s it like?”
     “It’s like driving a nail,” I said.
     “Like what?”
     “Driving a nail, splitting firewood. It’s work. It’s quick.”
     “No more than that?”
     “Not after you’ve done it a couple times.”
     “Do you like it?”
     “Well, it’s kind of clean and complete,” I said. “You got him, he didn’t get you.”

What I'm doing as I'm typing these words, of course, is trying to figure out what the sci-fi novel "Gizmo" (that's just the "working title") is going to be all about.  There's probably going to be an interview in the first chapter where the scientist will try to determine if she and the narrator can survive two weeks together in a fairly small space without going nuts. (Having it be a man and a woman makes for better "chemistry.")  Here's what a verbal exchange and some descriptions could look like in the first chapter:

     I didn't particularly like being inside a big metal pipe with a battery powered lantern providing the only light.  I'm not claustrophobic or anything like that.  It was just that I couldn't imagine any reason why this interview was taking place inside a bottomless steel cylinder that was about ten feet in diameter and maybe eight feet high.  And why were we sitting on a pair of old, wood folding chairs placed on what I assumed was the dirty concrete pavement in the dark and gloomy alley I'd glimpsed before they blindfolded me?
     "Do you go camping much?" she asked after glancing at a clipboard she held in her lap.
     "Camping?  No.  Never.  Does this - whatever it is - involve camping?"
     "Sort of.  Each ... camp-out will require using a camping toilet for the duration.  And no showers or baths."
     "What's the duration?"
     "We don't know.  It can be a a few minutes, a day.  It can be a couple weeks.  Probably not longer than two weeks.  Longer than two weeks can get into other problems."
     "What kind of 'other problems'?"
     "I can't tell you that ... yet."  She did seem to be eyeing me like someone who she'd be going camping or hunting with, rather than a prospective employee.   "Would you have any problem wearing contact lenses?" she asked after another glance at the clipboard.
     "My eyes are 20-20.  I don't need glasses or contact lenses."
     She peered at me.  "Your eyes are blue?"
    "What if the job required that they be brown for awhile?"
    "I don't think I'd have a problem wearing tinted contact lenses."
     She pulled a business card from under the clip on the clipboard and reached over to hand it to me.  "Go to that optometrist tomorrow.  He'll do the necessary tests."
     As I studied the card, she asked, "Do you like to read?"

     "Sure.  When I have the time."
     "What do you read?"
     "It depends on my mood.  Mysteries, mostly.  Best sellers, if it's a subject of interest and the first few pages hook me."
     She smiled.  I gathered it was a good answer.
     I probed, "Does the job require a lot of reading?"
     "It requires being able to keep yourself occupied for long periods.  Reading is a good way to do that."
     "So, I'm going to be able to take along a stack of books?"
     "You can take along a laptop, or iPad, or Kindle, and maybe an extra power supply.  Storage space is a problem."
     A camping toilet and a laptop? "Like going into space in a capsule?" I probed again, thinking I was on to something.
     "Except that you can go for a jog or a long walk if time permits."
     So much for that idea.
     She then added, "But there are some real dangers to going outside if you don't pay attention to the rules."
     "Like going for a jog in Damascus or Islamabad?"  Another probe.
     "In a way." 

But what's "the mission."  And should it be just one "mission," or should it be a bunch of "missions" as they get familiar with how the Gizmo device works and what they can do with it?  What's the character arc?  Is there a single plot or is it mostly about character?  And what's the ending?  Professionals say it's a good idea to start with the ending and then build a story to arrive at that ending.

The best way for me to get moving on writing the new book is probably to just write and see what happens.   I can write disconnected parts of the book as ideas occur to me, and then try to figure out how to connect them.  If big sections don't fit and have to be thrown away, it's all part of the process.  It's like Michelangelo once said about sculpting,  "The statue is already in the stone, has been in the stone since the beginning of time, and the sculptor's job is to see it and release it by carefully scraping away the excess material."  My new book is in my computer, I just need to try to visualize it and then tap the right keys on the keyboard to release the book by cutting away the excess material.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, September 22, 2013, thru Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 27, 2013 - In case you are interested, I just created a new thread for my interactive blog with the subject: Illogical Logic.  It required doing research about the Hebrew alphabet.  Creating a string of 5 graphics showing the Anthrax Truther's illogical logic seemed a better way to explain things than to do it with words, as has been the case in our arguments for the past week or so.  The Truther's original posting explaining his "logic" was on Lew Weinstein's blog.  I would summarize his "logic" to be as follows: The person who wrote the anthrax letters drew Hebrew characters (some in a block style, others in a cursive style) as part of the writing, but did it in such a way as to appear "unnatural and contrived," i.e., unlike any natural way of drawing Hebrew or English characters.  The fact that those same characters appear to nearly everyone else to be drawn in a natural English style is irrelevant, as is the fact that it makes absolutely NO sense for someone to draw the equivalent of a K instead of a question mark, just because the Hebrew letter Kaf kind of looks a bit like a question mark. 

In one posting, the Truther wrote:

How does pretending-to-be-a-Muslim via the three slogans in each text (Brokaw and Leahy) make any more "sense" than pretending GRAPHICALLY to be an Israeli? They are BOTH affectations to the same end: pretending to be foreigners.

In other words, the Truther doesn't see any difference between someone drawing English characters that don't quite look like Hebrew characters to mislead investigators into thinking the letter writer is Israeli and someone writing "ALLAH IS GREAT" to mislead investigators into thinking the letter writer is Muslim.  The Truther feels the anthrax letter writer wrote Hebrew-like characters to mislead the FBI into thinking the writer was Hebrew while at the same time including Islamic slogans in the letters to mislead the FBI into thinking the writer was Muslim.

The Truther's entire theory seems based on illogical logic, i.e., it's all perfectly logical to the Truther, and he most likely feels that if it seems largely  illogical to everyone else, that just means it's something the rest of us are just too dumb or closed-minded to see.

September 26, 2013 - This morning, when I did my regular Google search for news about "anthrax" and "2001," the first news item that appeared was an article from "PressTV" (Iran's English language television network, based in Tehran) accusing former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani of being responsible for 9/11 and the anthrax attacks of 2001:

Giuliani's fingerprints are all over 9/11 and the follow-up anthrax attacks. Journalist Barbara Honegger notes that Giuliani's office planned the drills that provided cover for the 9/11 operation: “Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) preplanned a bio/chem-terrorism exercise likely involving an anthrax scenario for which personnel were (pre-positioned) in New York City on 9/11, and Giuliani's just-recent OEM director (Jerome Hauer) urged White House staff to go on anti-anthrax Cipro on Sept. 11.”

Honegger also notes that “Rudolph Giuliani bought the Florida-building crime scene of the first anthrax attack...Giuliani thus controlled and oversaw the destruction of evidence at both the New York crime scene of the 9/11 attacks, the WTC, ordering the steel containing traces of controlled demolition explosives to be removed, and the crime scene of the first anthrax attack, America Media, Inc, in Florida.”

Then I had to do some heavy thinking to decide whether I wanted to mention this kind of crap on my web site or  not.   And, what kind of comment can I make about it?   I don't think it's a "conspiracy theory."  I think it's pure anti-American, anti-Israeli propaganda that appeared on my computer screen as if it were a "normal" news article.  And it reminds me that the term "Anthrax Truthers" does not merely include True Believers and conspiracy theorists, it also includes some who seem to spout their theories out of pure maliciousness.  

If a college professor sees government conspiracies in just about every mass killing that happens in America, is he arguing it out of belief or out of malice?  Does he believe what he's saying, or is he just trying to get people angry at the government, at the media, and at everyone who doesn't rabidly distrust the government? Is he maliciously confusing people because they do not automatically think the way he wants them to think?

Suppose a scientist argues that the anthrax spores used in the 2001 anthrax letters were weaponized in a specific way that matches the way the U.S. Government did it back in the 1950s.  Then, when it's solidly proven it was NOT done that way, the scientists devises a second theory of how the spores were weaponized.  Then, when the second theory is debunked, he devises a third weaponization theory. 
Does he truely believe his theories, or is he just making up theories out of pure anti-American malice?  Or is it both? 

And that makes me wonder about  the Washington Navy Yard shooter.  According to the Washington Post,

Investigators are still trying to understand Alexis’s “pathway to violence,” Parlave told reporters. The etchings on his gun included “Not what y’all say!” and “Better off this way!”

Another scratched message, “My ELF weapon!,” and other evidence gathered from Alexis’s electronics indicate that the former Navy reservist thought he was being controlled by extremely low-frequency electromagnetic waves, according to the FBI. The Navy has legitimately used such technology, the FBI said, but these radio waves also have been at the center of conspiracies about government mind control.

Where did Aaron Alexis get that idea in the first place?  It almost certainly came from a conspiracy theorist.   But, did it come from a conspiracy theorist who believes there is a government mind control program, or did it come from a conspiracy theorist who is just maliciously trying to push people's buttons to make the weak and confused believe there is such a program?  To a mentally ill person, if the government is controlling your mind, that means you aren't "responsible" for your own actions.  And, if you are convinced you aren't responsible for your own actions, killing a dozen people who were part of a group that didn't treat you the way you want to be treated is someone else's fault.

The question is:  Was the Navy Yard shooting someone else's fault?  Was someone just pushing people's buttons, and Aaron Alexis just happened to be one of those people?  Or am I just feeling an urge to watch "The Manchurian Candidate" again?

September 25, 2013 - I seriously doubt that anyone will find this of interest, but, for the record, I finished reading "Appaloosa" during lunch today.  It was an easy read, with 56 short chapters, lots of single sentence dialog and spaces between paragraphs.  I didn't realize until after I'd "borrowed" the book from the library that it was undoubtedly the source material for the Ed Harris movie "Appaloosa" that, according to my movie logs, I'd watched from Redbox on March 23, 2009, and from my own DVD on Nov. 28, 2009.

Luckily, even though I'd seen the movie twice, I couldn't remember much about it other than that it starred Ed Harris and that his character built a house on the edge of town.   And, my movie logs say I liked it.  Everything else about the movie was buried under countless other things I'd done and seen since 2009.  But, reading the book, of course brought back memories of some scenes from the movie.  So, I may have to watch the movie again just to see how it compares to the book.

Anyway, it's time to "return" the book.  So, I'm typing this as I'm started looking for  the instructions.  The first thing I found was on my library's "Help" page:

Returning & Renewing

Some titles can be returned before they expire. If you have not downloaded an eBook, you’ll be able to return it from your Bookshelf. You cannot renew titles, but you can borrow them again after they expire if they are still available.

"Can be returned?"  So, does that mean the (TWO) files will delete themselves when the 7 days are up?  (There's a copy in my "Downloads" file and there's a copy in my Kindle.)  I can't assume that, since I'm learning that I should not assume anything.

So, I checked my library card account.  It just shows that I can download "Appaloosa," which, of course, I've already downloaded.  And it says,

Note: If you download a title, its Return Title button will disappear. Learn about your other return options here.    

But, there is no "RETURN TITLE BUTTON"!  And clicking on the "Learn about" link just takes me to a page that is about returning books borrowed with some "Overdrive" option.  But, it also says this:

Note: Titles are automatically returned at the end of the lending period.

Ah!  Okay.  That's good evidence that I don't actually have to return the book.  It's going to somehow automatically delete itself from both my Kindle and from my "Downloads" file.  OR, I'm going to have a copy that I can read again any time I want or give to people or whatever.  I doubt that it's any kind of "honor system" where they trust me to delete the book.  There's a link that takes me to another page where they list 7 different ways to return ePub and PDF books and mp3 files, but no mention of Kindle files.

So, rather than just make assumptions and live with them, I went to the library's HELP page and sent them a message asking if my assumptions are correct.

And now I'm off to return the DVDs for the movies I watched last night, "Iron Man 3" (okay) and "Redemption" (eh).  Then I'm going to go to a used book store to see if I can buy a cheap copy of "Killing Floor" by Lee Child.  All the browsing I did looking for a library book to borrow got me interested in that first "Jack Reacher" book from 1996, but there are 580 people on the waiting list, and only 10 copies.  If I can't find a cheap copy of "Killing Floor," the book I just read will probably be the last of my fiction reads for awhile.   I feel pressures building to do something else.

Hmm.  As I was preparing to turn off my computer, I wondered if I was suppose to go to Amazon.com to return "Appaloosa," since that's really where I borrowed it from.  My library was just the "middle man."  I went to my account, and, sure enough, it said I had "Appaloosa" out on loan.  There was an option to return it, which I did.  And, the first visible effect was that the account entry for the book changed from "borrowed" to "loan expired."   It's still in my Kindle.  And it's still in my Downloads file.

Oops.  I just got an email message from Amazon.com that says:

Your digital library loan has ended. If you purchase Appaloosa from the Kindle Store or borrow it again from your local library, all of your notes and highlights will be preserved.

Words without any real meaning to me.  What happens to the copies?  Keep tuned.

After thoughts:  It occurs to me that the copy of "Appaloosa" I (sort of) got from the library is probably coded for "Edward's Kindle" and won't work on any other device.  But, I still need to see what happens to the copy in my Kindle after a week.  Also, if 580 people are waiting to read "Killing Floor," and there are only ten copies available, and if everyone just lets their 7-day loan time expire, if I put in my loan request today, a copy should be available to me in 58 weeks, i.e., around November 2014.  (The used book store I tried this afternoon has gone out of business.)

September 24, 2013 - In case anyone's interested, I just "borrowed" my first e-book from my local library.  I borrowed "Appaloosa" by Robert B. Parker (in Kindle format), mostly because it was the first book I found by an author I like that was also immediately available.  It's on 7-day loan.  I borrowed it by downloading it through my computer, so there was no "hot spot" required.   But that does not appear to be the usual case.
  Interestingly, it was not downloaded from my library's web site but from Amazon.com's web site.  So, I'm really borrowing it from Amazon with my local library being some kind of "go between" or "middle man."   Next crisis: Figuring out how to return it.

September 23, 2013 (B) - Groan again!!!  This morning, I found a link to an FBI slide presentation PDF file which includes this graphic on slide (page) 10:

FBI presentation - page 10 Ames

The Ames strain NEVER went to the USDA in Ames.  That is NOT how the strain got its name.  The question of how the strain got its name was resolved in January 2002.  The news reports are HERE, HERE and HERE.  It was the result of a simple mistake at USAMRIID when someone misinterpreted who sent the package containing the strain.

Of course, an Anthrax Truther has jumped on this as possibly being true.  To me, it looks more like the kind of error that was made during the Maureen Stevens trial, when some government employee who wasn't familiar with all the intricate details of the Amerithrax investigation wrote something that suggested that Bruce Ivins didn't have the equipment needed to make the attack powders.

So, now we've got an "official" FBI document which says the Ames strain was sent from Texas to the USDA in Ames, Iowa, and that is where the strain it got its name.  And since it's unlikely that the archived slide presentation will ever be corrected, we can now expect Anthrax Truthers to forever argue that (1) the USDA in Ames sent the sample to USAMRIID, which means (2) that the USDA could also have sent samples to other places, which means (3) all the news reports are wrong, and (4) if the slide presentation is wrong, that means "the FBI" is error prone and cannot be trusted. 

September 23, 2013 (A) - Groan!!  This morning, I did some research and discovered that my Kindle cannot read ePub files.  Because of all the problems I had with PDF files, I was assuming I would be downloading ePub files to my Kindle when I "borrowed" an e-book from my local library.  Now I wonder what would have happened if I had gone to my library's web site and "borrowed" an ePub book.  My local library only has books available in ePub and PDF formats. [Note added Sept. 24: WRONG! There are some library books available in Kindle format.]  So, it appears any book that I "borrow" will have to be viewed in PDF format.  I don't know if that's going to be a problem or not.  It was a problem with 50% of the PDF files I previously viewed.

Meanwhile, late yesterday, I finished reading "Edison's Conquest of Mars."  On the remote chance that someone might be interested (SPOILER ALERT!), Thomas Edison conquered Mars by blowing up a dam that held back all the water from the melting polar ice caps in the spring.  That action flooded the entire planet and killed tens of millions of Martians.  It's justified by the author (Garrett Serviss) this way:

Now that we had let the awful destroyer loose we almost shrank from the thought of the consequences which we had produced. How many millions would perish as the result of our deed we could not even guess. Many of the victims, so far as we knew, might be entirely innocent of enmity toward us, or of the evil which had been done to our native planet. But this was a case in which the good—if they existed—must suffer with the bad on account of the wicked deeds of the latter.

And he had Thomas Edison explained the situation to the survivors this way:

"We have laid waste your planet, but it is simply a just retribution for what you did with ours. We are prepared to complete the destruction, leaving not a living being in this world of yours, or to grant you peace, at your choice. Our condition of peace is simply this: 'All resistance must cease absolutely.'"

Evidently, according to Garrett Serviss, that's the way real heroes did things in 1898.

September 22, 2013 -  The ongoing arguments with an Anthrax Truther on my interactive blog are getting very heated, and last week they may have passed the point where they stop being constructive and start becoming destructive.  Before the discussion reached that point, however, it did produce one finding of some value.   The Truther continues to argue his belief that the so-called "J-Lo letter" opened at the AMI offices in Boca Raton, Florida, on September 19, 2001, contained the anthrax that killed Bob Stevens.  And I continue to explain the facts which prove that the J-Lo letter did not contain the anthrax that killed Bob Stevens and infected Ernesto Blanco.  It was the powder-filled letter that Stephanie Dailey remembered opening a week later that contained the anthrax spores. 

The argument caused me realize (or remember) that the on-set dates of the infections contracted by both Stevens and Blanco were consistent with the letter Dailey opened on September 24 or 25 and inconsistent with the opening of the J-Lo letter on September 19.  According to the Mayo Clinic, most anthrax cases show symptoms less than 7 days after exposure.  Stevens' and Blanco's on-set dates were 4 and 5 days after Stephanie Dailey opened her letter and 11 and 12 days after the Bobby Bender opened the J-Lo letter.  So, I added "FACT #6" to my web page about the J-Lo letter.  It's not anything "conclusive," but it's another solid piece of evidence to support the official finding.

The Anthrax Truther also explained one of his beliefs last week.  Or, more correctly, he pointed me to a post on Lew Weinstein's blog where he explained on August 15 why he believes there are Hebrew elements to the anthrax writer's style of handwriting.  That's where the discussion may have stopped being constructive.  His explanation is an insight into his thought processes, and it seems to show me that the only way to convince him his conclusions are illogical may be to somehow change his thought processes.  I have no clue how to do that.  And, I'm not sure it's wise to even try.

All that arguing with the Anthrax Truther ate up most of my free time last week, and as a result, I haven't finished reading "Edison's Conquest Of Mars" by Garrett Serviss.  The gauge at the bottom of my Kindle screen currently says I'm 45% done.  (I'm tempted at this point to write a few thousand words on how weird it is to look at a gauge to see where you are in a book instead of looking at page numbers or how many pages are on the left side versus the right side the open book.  But, I'll spare you that.)

It's very interesting to read how an astronomer in 1898 can imagine that there were once creatures living on the moon, that there could be mountains of diamonds there, and there appear to be the still liquid remains of vast oceans.  Serviss also imagines that en route to Mars, Thomas Edison happens upon an asteroid that is nearly solid gold.  Serviss describes how such a thing could logically and scientifically happen.  It's also interesting that he imagines gold would be as valuable to Martians as it is to humans (as currency, not as a metal for scientific uses). 

Equally interesting are the thought processes of that era - mostly the Jingoism.  When Edison builds an electric-powered space "car" that can travel to Mars in a matter of a few weeks, he also produces a disintegrator weapon that can obliterate parts of an enemy space ship and yet is still small enough to be held in a person's hand.  With these superweapons in their arsenal, Serviss imagines all the leaders of all the countries of the world gathering together in Washington for a great celebration as they plan to attack Mars and get revenge for the Martian attack upon Earth as described in "The War of The Worlds."  Industrial assembly plants to make the space "cars" are put together in a few months, and there's a competition among nations to see who will donate the most money to the cause.  Thomas Edison is unanimously chosen to lead the expedition to Mars, and he takes along a group of top (English speaking) scientists to do scientific experiments in space along the way.

It also seems clear that "Edison's Conquest of Mars" will probably be the last fiction book from a century ago that I'll be reading for awhile.   I may try to "take out" a current library e-book that is a work of fiction just to step through the take out and return process.  I want to see how it works and if I can do it without the necessity of finding a "hot spot." (I also realize that, for all I know, there could be millions of third graders around the world who routinely "take out" e-books from libraries for use on their i-pads without any thought about how the process works.)   After that, when I read more books on my Kindle, I expect they will be non-fiction books like "How I Found Livingstone" by Sir Henry M. Stanley or "Across China On Foot" by Edwin Dingle.

I find it very interesting to read the thoughts and writings of very intelligent people who lived in the distant past.  In today's world of cell phones, satellite communications, TV and radio, and countless medical and technological advances, it's almost like science fiction to read about people who not only survived very well without any of those devices, they also had no thought that any of it would someday be invented.  They were amazed at all the new inventions they were currently seeing.   I recall reading in Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs how amazed he and others were at seeing a propellor-driven tug boat moving around in a harbor without any visible paddlewheels.  And I recall in the movie "Shane" where the housewife is in a general store and sees peaches preserved inside a tin can, and she says, "My my, what will they think of next?"

All this also reminds me that I really should get to work on a new book - almost certainly a science fiction book - the same book I mentioned in my July 14, 2013 comment.  I'm not any further along today than I was then.

BTW, my local NBC station finally came to an agreement with Time Warner Cable, so I can now watch NBC Nightly News in Hi-Def again, instead of tuning into the Lo-Def version from WMAQ in Chicago.  Can you imagine traveling back in time to 1898 and trying to explain that problem to people back then?  Or telling them how I haven't yet tried "taking out" a book from my library to read on my Kindle?  There are people I know today who can't even fathom any part of doing such a thing.

Updates & Changes: Sunday, September 15, 2013, thru Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 21, 2013 - Someone just sent me a link to a Wired magazine article titled "Conspiracy Theories Abound After Navy Yard Shooting."  The favorite term among the conspiracy theorists seems to be that it was a "false flag" exercise, i.e. a secret U.S. military operation designed to distract the public from the fact that we won't be going to war with Syria anytime soon.  To others, the shooter was a "TI" (targeted individual) who was being "gang stalked" by the government for some nefarious purpose.

September 19, 2013 - Although this is largely off-topic, someone just reminded me of the Orson Welles' Mercury Theater radio broadcast of "The War Of The Worlds"on Halloween 1938.  I found that it is on YouTube.com.  Just click HERE.  Interestingly, the radio show has the explosions on Mars viewed by astonomers - explosions that were the gigantic guns firing the huge "shells" containing the Martian invaders - occurring just minutes before those same shells landed in "Grover's Mill, New Jersey."  If you listen to the radio show, imagine tuning in in the middle of the program and not realizing that all the "news broadcasts" about the invasion were just a radio show.

war of the worlds headline

war of the worlds headline - 2

I wrote that this comment is "largely off-topic."  It is somewhat on-topic if you consider it from the point of view of radio listeners who were ignorant of the facts.  In 1938, if you knew the FACTS - that it was just a radio show - it's very interesting and enjoyable.  If you did not know the FACTS, it could be extremely alarming - particularly in 1938.

September 18, 2013 - Today is the 12th anniversary of the day the anthrax letters sent to Tom Brokaw and the New York Post were postmarked.  The facts indicate that similar letters were also sent to Dan Rather at CBS, Peter Jennings at ABC and The National Enquirer at their obsolete address in Lantana, FL, from where it was forwarded to their new address at the AMI building in Boca Raton.

But, of course, there are still people who believe it was the J-Lo letter which contained the anthrax that killed Bob Stevens at AMI.  One Anthrax Truther reminded me of that in a post this morning to my interactive blog.  We were arguing where the anthrax killer (i.e., Bruce Ivins) got his idea to send anthrax letters through the mail.  The blogger argued that he got it from the 1999 novel "Vector" by Robin Cook.  I argued that he probably got it from all the hoax anthrax letters that were in the news at that time.  The counter argument was that that cannot be, because the J-Lo letter was not like any hoax letter.  The Anthrax Truther was arguing one disproved belief as proof of the validity of another disproved belief.  That is what passes as "logic" among the Anthrax Truthers.

Meanwhile, instead of reading
"Edison's Conquest of Mars" by Garrett J. Serviss, I decided to read "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells first, since Serviss's book is an unauthorized sequel to "The War of The Worlds."  I also continued on my "learning adventure" and figured out how to make notes and copy passages from a Kindle book.   Here's a copied passage which shows H.G. Wells's thinking circa 1898:

Nor was it generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area and remoter from the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only more distant from time's beginning but nearer its end.
I don't quite follow that "necessary follows" reasoning, and the author doesn't explain himself.  But, he is clearly wrong on other facts about Mars:

Its air is much more attenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until they cover but a third of its surface,

And, while he might possibly be proved right about something else, it won't be because of whatever reasons H. G. Wells imagined:

But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

I found it interesting that in 1898 the method that the Martians used to get to Earth was to ride inside huge cannon shells which were fired from gigantic cannons on Mars, one shot every day for ten days, so that they would hit one per day, weeks later, all in the vicinity of London.  Unlike in the movies I've seen made of Wells' book, the Martians had to assemble their tripod machines before they could set about conquering the Earth.  Even more interesting, while heavier than air flight was unknown to earthings in 1898, and impossible on Mars due to their thin atmosphere, the super-intelligent Martians quickly set about building such an aircraft from local materials once they were on Earth.
However, while Marconi had filed his first patent for a radio in 1897, H.G. Wells doesn't seem to have known about it, and the same with the Martians.  And the super-intelligent Martians did all their ship to ship communications by tooting horns.  

"The War of The Worlds" was a very interesting and enjoyable read, although I kept thinking in should dig out a map of London, so I could follow activities more closely, since the entire book sometimes seemed like a torrent of place names: Ottershaw, Berkshire, Surrey, West Surrey, Middlesex, Woking, Chertsey, Chobham, Addlestone, Oriental College, Maybury Hill, Leatherhead, Ripley, Pyrford, Byfleet, Shepperton, Horsell Common, Kingston, Richmond, Weybridge, Halliford, Walton, Sunbury, Windsor, Send, Chelmsford, Edgware, Pinner, Barnet, Chipping Barnet, Chalk Farm, Ealing, Wimbledon, St. John's Wood, Primrose Hill, etc., etc., all seemingly within walking distance of one another.  A few I recall as "tube" stops from my visits to London.

September 16, 2013 - This morning there were 37 comments following the Frederick News-Post article "Scientific data points to government-made anthrax" I mentioned in yesterday's (B) comment.  I added a 38th comment that summarizes the facts as I know them.  The only purpose of the article seems to be to generate controversy in order to sell newspapers.

Meanwhile, I finished reading "A Columbus Of Space," the first novel I've read in years. It's a short sci-fi novel, somewhere around 123 (in pdf format) to 297 (in print form) pages, and it probably only took me 5 or 6 hours to read.  Maybe less.

The author, Garrett P. Serviss was an American astronomer, trained at Cornell, who then became a science-fiction writer, journalist and science lecturer.

Serviss' favorite topic was astronomy, and of the fifteen books he wrote, eight are devoted to it. He unquestionably was more widely read by the public on that topic than anyone prior to his time.

On Sunday I wrote that since the novel was written in 1909, the latest technology would be the telephone.  In reality, the key piece of "technology" described in the book is an atomic-powered vehicle. 

The person telling the tale in the book is evidently the author Garrett Serviss, although he's never mentioned by name in the book.  Like a Dr. Watson, the author describes the hero of the book, Edmund Stonewall, and their adventures together.  Stonewall says this about the power source of their vehicle on page 6 of the pdf file:

     "Listen to this! Here's Professor Thomson declaring that a single grain of radium contains in its padlocked atoms energy enough to lift a million tons three hundred yards high. Professor Thomson is too modest in his estimates, and he hasn't the ghost of an idea how to get at that energy. Neither has Professor Rutherford, nor Lord Kelvin; but somebody will get at it, just the same."

So, Stonewall sets to work on building a vehicle that can use this power source, and after a "considerable time," he reports back to his three friends, Jack Ashton, Henry Darton, and the tale-teller:

     "The inter-atomic energy. I've got it under control."
     "The deuce you have!" said Jack.
     "Yes, I've arrived where a certain professor dreamed of being when he averred that 'when man knows that every breath of air he draws has contained within itself force enough to drive the workshops of the world he will find out some day, somehow, some way of tapping that energy.' The thing is done, for I've tapped it!"

Stonewall has built a vehicle that is described on page 7:

     A remarkable object at once concentrated our attention. In the center of the place was the queerest-looking thing that you can well imagine. I can hardly describe it. It was round and elongated like a boiler, with bulging ends, and seemed to be made of polished steel. Its total length was about eighteen feet, and its width ten feet.  Edmund approached it and opened a door in the end, which was wide and high enough for us to enter without stooping or crowding.

And then Edmund Stonewall describes how it works:

"As I was telling you at the club," he said, "I've solved the mystery of the atoms. I'm sure you'll excuse me from explaining my method" (there was a little raillery in his manner), "but at least you can understand the plain statement that I've got unlimited power at my command. These knobs and handles that you see are my keys for turning it on and off, and controlling it as I wish. Mark you, this power comes right out of the heart of what we call matter; the world is chock full of it. We have known that it was there at least ever since radioactivity was discovered, but it looked as though human intelligence would never be able to set it free from its prison. Nevertheless I have not only set it free, but I am able to control it as perfectly as if it were steam from a boiler, or an electric current from a dynamo."

So, they go for a ride, and on page 13 the fact that the four people in the vehicle are all pipe smokers is shown to be an advantage in space travel:

     "Aren't you a little surprised that this small room is not choking full of smoke? You know that the shutters are tightly closed."
     "By Jo," exclaimed Jack, "that's so! Why here we've been pouring out clouds like old Vesuvius for an hour with no windows open, and yet the air is as clear as a bell."
      "The smoke," said Edmund impressively, "has been turned into atomic energy to speed us on our way. I'm glad you're all good smokers, for that saves me fuel."

In 1909 astronomers evidently believed that there were lots of meteors in orbit around the earth, since the book describes them bumping into a few.  Then on page 16 a very interesting question is asked"

     "In the name of all that's good, Edmund," cried Jack, "at what rate are we traveling, then?"
     "Just at present," Edmund replied, glancing at an indicator, "we're making twenty miles a second."
     Twenty miles a second! Our excited nerves had another shock.
     "Why," I exclaimed, "that's faster than the earth moves in its orbit!"
     "Yes, a trifle faster; but I'll probably have to work up to a little better speed in order to get where I want to go before our goal begins to run away from us."

Twenty miles per second is 72,000 miles per hour.  The book makes no mention of any problems with acceleration in getting to that speed.  Edmund Stonewall has decided to take them on a journey to Venus.  From page 18:

      "How far is it to Venus?" asked Jack.
     "When we quit the earth," Edmund answered, "Venus was rapidly approaching inferior conjunction. You know what that is," addressing me, "it's when the planet comes between the sun and the earth. The distance from the earth is not always the same at such a conjunction, but I figured out that on this occasion, after allowing for the circuit we should have to make, there would be just twenty-seven million miles to travel. At an average speed of twenty miles a second we could do that distance in fifteen days, fourteen and one half hours.

Interestingly, they never seem to have any problems with weightlessness.  It's not because they're accelerating, it's because of the science explained on pages 20 and 21:

     On our first day out from the earth, we began to notice the remarkable ease with which we handled things, and the strange tendency we had to bump into one another because we seemed to be all the time employing more strength than was necessary and almost to be able to walk on air. Jack declared that he felt as if his head had become a toy balloon.
     "It's the lack of weight," said Edmund. "Every time we double our distance from the earth we lose another three quarters of our weight. If I had thought to bring along a spring dynamometer, I could have shown you, Jack, that when we were 4,000 miles above the earth's surface the 200 good pounds with which you depress the scales at home had diminished to 50, and that when we had passed about 150,000 miles into space you weighed no more than a couple of ounces. From that point on, it has been the attraction of the sun to which we have owed whatever weight we had, and the floor of the car has been toward the sun, because, at that distance from the earth, the latter ceases to exercise the master force, and the pull of the sun becomes greater than the earth's. But as we approach Venus the latter begins to restore our weight, and when we arrive on her surface we shall weigh about four fifths as much as when we started from the earth."

Note that the vehicle is referred to as a "car."  The word "rocket" is not mentioned anywhere in the book, and, since the "car" uses atomic forces to push away from the earth, there is no need for rockets.   But it does have "brakes."  They are applied on page 21 as they approach Venus:

     "We're now within a thousand miles," said Edmund, "and must be close to the upper limits of the atmosphere.  I'll have to slow down, or else we'll be burnt up by the heat of friction."
     He proceeded to slow down a little more rapidly than was comfortable. It was jerk after jerk, as he dropped off the power, and put on the brakes, but at last we got down to the speed of a fast express train.

They landed on the dark side of Venus, which in the book is said to constantly have one  side facing the sun and the other facing space, like our moon always has the same side facing Earth.  The density of the atmosphere on Venus was a minor problem that is described on page 23:

"Yes," said Edmund, taking pains to moderate his voice, "you've hit it, it's the atmosphere. I had calculated on an effect of the kind, but the reality exceeds all that I had anticipated. Spectroscopic analysis as well as telescopic appearances demonstrated long ago that the atmosphere of Venus was extraordinarily extensive and dense, from which fact I inferred that we should encounter some wonderful acoustic phenomena here, and this was in my mind when, on stepping out of the car, I addressed you in a whisper. The reaction even of the whisper on my organs of speech told me that I was right, and showed me what to expect if the full power of the voice were used.

So, the only atmospheric problem the four astronauts had was that every noise seems a hundred times louder.  No problems with  pressure.  And space suits weren't needed, only some heavy fur clothing, because they were on the cold side of Venus:

He dragged out of one of his many lockers four suits of thick fur garments, and as many pairs of fur gloves, together with caps and shields for the face, leaving only narrow openings for the eyes. When we had got them on we looked like so many Esquimaux.

Although I could tell what it meant, I looked up "Esquimaux," and to my surprise it was in my Websters Dictionary.   It's just another way to spell "Eskimo."
They meet the giant, furry people who live in caves on the dark side of Venus, and the adventurers are able to communicate with them because the language on Venus is largely telephathic and visual instead of word-based.  The one piece of out-dated science in the book that I couldn't understand at all is described on page 29:

     Then we re-ascended and stepped out into the Arctic night, finding the crowd assembled not far from the entrance to the cavern. The frosty sky was ablaze with stars, and directly overhead shone a planet of amazing size and splendor with a little one beside it.
      "The earth and the moon!" exclaimed Edmund.
      I cannot describe the flood of feeling that went over me at that sight! But in a moment Edmund interrupted my meditation by saying, in a quick, nervous way:
      "Look at that!"
      The natives had formed themselves in a circle with the two priests standing alone in the center. All but these two had dropped on their knees, while the leaders, elevating their long arms toward the zenith, gazed upward, uttering a kind of chant in their queer, squeaking voices.
      "Don't you see what they're about?" demanded Edmund, twitching me irritably by the sleeve. "They're worshipping the earth!"
      It was the truth--the amazing truth! They were worshipping our planet in the sky! And, indeed, she looked worth worshipping. Never have I seen so splendid a star. She was twenty times as bright as the most brilliant planet that any terrestrial astronomer ever beheld; and the moon, glowing beside her like an attendant, redoubled the beauty of the sight.
      "It's just the moment of the conjunction," said Edmund. "This is their religion; the earth is their goddess, and when she is nearest and brightest they perform this ceremony in her honor. I wouldn't have missed this for a world."

How can an astronomer suggest that the Earth's moon can be seen with the naked eye from Venus?  Maybe it has something to do with the clear skies on the dark side of the planet.  Maybe the thickness of the atmosphere acts like a magnifying glass.  Maybe.

When they travel to the sunny side of the planet, they find balmy weather and a different civilization run by a beautiful queen, of course.  And many exciting adventures ensue.  Jingoism is a big part of the book as our intrepid adventurers leave a trail of dead locals behind at every stop (while expressing lament over having done so).  Nevertheless, I found it to be a very interesting and enjoyable read.  Next, I'm considering reading "Edison's Conquest of Mars," by the same author.  Garrett Serviss wrote it 1898 with Thomas Edison's approval.  The e-book is already in my Kindle.

September 15, 2013 (C) - Someone just sent me an email about a different place where free books can found for reading on Kindle.  Here's the link: http://www.gutenberg.org/

September 15, 2013 (B) - When I turned on my computer this morning and did my regular Google search for "anthrax" and "2001," up popped a new article from the Frederick News-Post titled "Scientific data points to government made anthrax."  It's a rehash of the conspiracy theory written about in 2011 by Martin Hugh-Jones, Dr. Stuart Jacobsen, and Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, claiming that the traces of tin and silicon found in the attack spores must mean the spores were weaponized in a secret and illegal U.S. Government military bioweapons facility.  It also means the Frederick News-Post hasn't been able to dig up anything new to write about for the 12th anniversary of the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, so they are dredging up ridiculous old nonsense once again.  

September 15, 2013 (A) - I had expected to see a lot more news stories recalling the anthrax letter attacks of 2001 than the few I noticed last week.  But, the anniversary of the attacks probably doesn't really begin until around October 5, which will be the 12th anniversary of the day the news broke that a tabloid photo editor named Bob Stevens had somehow contracted inhalation anthrax and was hospitalized in Florida.  Stevens died the next day.

Discussions on my interactive blog have gone quiet since I started asking people with other theories about the anthrax case to present better evidence for their theory than the DOJ has for their case against Bruce Ivins.   That resulted in silence, since the only evidence they have to support their own theories is that they do not believe the evidence against Bruce Ivins.

Combined with t
he lack of anything in the news to write about (until this morning), I found I had the time to go on a little "learning adventure" last week.

It began when I decided to buy a couple new books,
"Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe" by Dr. Mario Livio and "The United States of Paranoia - A Conspiracy Theory" by Jesse Walker.  I was thinking of buying the Kindle versions.

But, first I had to get my Kindle to work.  My sister sent it to me as a Christmas present in 2010.  I viewed Kindles as a device people would find useful if they travel a lot or can read while commuting.  I do neither.  For me, I have a personal library of books, and there's an even larger library of books downtown that I can use whenever I want.  So, the Kindle just sat in the box on a closet shelf until sometime in 2012 when I had an impulse to buy a book for Kindle that was being discussed on various forums.  But, the Kindle's battery was dead.  After figuring out how to charge the battery, charging it, and reading impatiently through the instructions, I gave up on making it work.  I put the Kindle back in the box, and I bought the paperback version of the book I wanted

So, last Sunday, September 8, I took the Kindle down from the shelf again, and again I had to charge the battery.  I connected it to my computer and seriously tried to figure out how to get it to work.  The instructions seemed to say that I needed to register the Kindle with Amazon before I could load any books into it, and to do that I needed to find a wi-fi hot spot.  I couldn't simply register it through my computer.

That didn't seem quite logical to me, so I went to an on-line Kindle forum and asked the people there.  They advised me that I did indeed need to register via a wi-fi hot spot. 

So, I drove over to a nearby Barnes & Noble store, where I knew there was a wi-fi hot spot, and I gave it a try.  No dice.  I discovered I needed a password to use their AT&T wi-fi hot spot.  And since it was an AT&T hot spot, I thought it was a AT&T password that people would have if they had a cell phone.  I don't have a cell phone, so I left.  On the way home, I realized I probably just needed to ask the Barnes & Noble folk for the password.  I checked with the people on the Kindle forum, and they said that was the case, but I would be better off going to a McDonald's, since Barnes & Noble sells Nook reading devices, and there could be a hassle if you try to register a Kindle reading device via their wi-fi hotspot.

There's a McDonald's within walking distance of where I live.  So, on Sunday afternoon, I walked over there (7 minutes at a brisk pace) and tried to register my Kindle.  After several tries, all I got were messages saying

Your kindle is unable to connect at this time. Please
make sure you are within wireless range and try again.
If the problem persists, please restart your Kindle
from the Menu in Settings and try again.       

and it took 10 minutes to get each message.  I finally gave up, I bought an ice cream cone to quell my frustrations, and I walked back home. 

The people on the Kindle forum suggested that I try my local library.  To me, that seemed somewhat like asking Barnes & Noble to help me register the Kindle.  But, I had a lot to learn.

On Monday morning I awoke with the idea that maybe I didn't use the right password for the Kindle site when I tried to register.  So, I walked over to McDonald's again and tried registering again.  Same thing.  Same message.  So, I walked home and got back on the forum to tell them what I'd done.

They again recommended that I try my local library.  Rather than risking driving the five miles to my library just to find it was a waste of time, I decided to get on-line and check out whether they even had a wi-fi hot spot or not.  I found that they not only had wi-fi hot spots, they also had 15,694 fiction e-books that I could "check out" to read on my Kindle, and 5,298 non-fiction books.   I looked up "Inferno" by Dan Brown and found that my library had 115 copies, 0 of them available, and 1,005 "patrons on the hold list."   I looked up the current best seller "Night Film" by Marisha Pessl and found that the library had 5 copies, 0 were available and there were 127 "patrons on the hold list."

My mind was boggled as I tried to imagine what would be needed to "check out" and "return" an ebook.  I discussed it with the people on the forum and, while it was still next to impossible for me to imagine, it seemed very clear that a lot of people do it every day.  Live and learn.

But, I wouldn't have the time until Wednesday afternoon to drive to the library and spend whatever time I needed to spend there.

When I turned on my computer on Tuesday morning, I found a message in the Kindle forum where someone said, since my Kindle had sat unused since 2010, I should update the Kindle's software first.  That might even be the cause of the problem I was having.  They told me that, while I can't register the Kindle via my computer, I can update the software via my computer, even if the Kindle isn't registered.  I found that very hard to believe, but I researched it on-line and found a comment on the Kindle site that said

"You will need the Kindle Keyboard software update 3.1 or later to use free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots." 

I had to sleep on that.  And I sent an email to the Kindle Help Desk to verify that I might need to update my software before using my Kindle.

On Wednesday morning, the response from the Help Desk was waiting.  They said, "yes," you need to update your software before registering.

So, I did.  I won't describe all the steps involved.  Since you cannot use your Kindle keyboard or screen while it's connected to the computer, applying the software updates required connecting and disconnecting my Kindle from my computer repeatedly as I installed update 3.1, update 3.3 and update 3.4.  Then, after lunch, I got in my car and drove to McDonald's.   It was the same as before.  It took ten minutes to get the "Your Kindle is unable to connect ..." message.

So, I drove to the library.  I was told they have 6 "hot spots."  The librarian pointed out where one of them was.  At that spot, I asked a guy who was using his lap top which hot spot number to use, and after I'd connected to hot spot #1, the process of registering my Kindle with Amazon went through in a matter of seconds.   A big relief.

I talked with the librarian and she advised me that I can "take out" an e-book via my computer at home.  But, I need to get a new library card, one that involves picking a "PIN" number to use and giving them my e-mail address so they can notify me when a e-book is ready for downloading.  So, I obtained the new card and returned home. 

After doing some further research at home, I found that it appears that I need to "take out" e-books books via a hot spot.  So, I can't use my computer at home.  The librarian was evidently assuming my computer was wireless.  Or I misunderstood what I read.

I informed the people on the forum that I'm finally registered my Kindle, and they all cheered.  I thanked them and signed off.

Then I got on-line to see what FREE e-books I could get for my Kindle.  A few weeks back, someone had mentioned that NASA had a bunch of free books I could download.  I found the site and downloaded the pdf file for "Psychology of Space Exploration."  But, the print was so small on my Kindle that I'd need a magnifying glass to read it.  And if I increased the size of the print, only half the page would appear, which meant I'd have to constantly shift from the right half of the page to the left half to read every single line.  I tried a pdf file of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Sign of the Four" that I had in my computer, and it was even worse.  I'd need a microscope to read it.

I went to bed on Wednesday night totally frustrated.

But, when I awoke on Thursday, I knew there had to be an easier way to do things.  On my computer, I did a Google search for "The Sign of the Four" and found a web site where thousands of books are available for free.  I downloaded the Kindle format .azw file of "The Sign of the Four" to my computer's Download file, then transferred it  to my Kindle, and it looked just fine.  Perfectly readable.  And I did the same for about 40 other books, from Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" to Edgar Rice Burrough's "A Princess of Mars" to H.G. Well's "War of the Worlds."  But,  I made the mistake of cutting and pasting a whole bunch to my Kindle at one time, and some didn't show up in the Kindle directory.  Nor were they still in my "downloads" file.  So, I had to go through the process of downloading them again, this time keeping a copy in my computer.  It appears I may have hit some space limit for the Kindle.  If so, there was no notification of it.  Later, after reading more of the Kindle Users Guide, I downloaded the .mobi copy of "Psychology of Space Exploration" to my Kindle and it worked just fine.   Perfectly readable.

Then I copied my original pdf file of my book "A Crime Unlike Any Other" to my Kindle, and it looked fine, too.  In fact, it looked terrific.  The two pdf files I'd tried the previous day were evidently exceptions, not the rule.

My Kindle and my book

On Friday morning, using my Kindle, I read an okay science fiction short story "The Ambulance Made Two Trips" by Murray Leinster, which was evidently written in 1960.

And, using my computer, I ordered the hardback copies of "Brilliant Blunders" and "The United States of Paranoia" from Amazon.  The books will arrive by snail mail sometime between Oct. 4 and 10.

While I'm waiting, I'm using my Kindle to read "A Columbus of Space," written in 1909 by Garrett P. Serviss.  There seem to be copies of it available everywhere on the Net, including hardcover copies for $38.12.  I really feel I need to spend some time reading a book where the latest in technology is the telephone, where if you need to talk with Agnes the librarian, all you have to do is turn the crank on the side of the phone and ask Mildred down at the Telephone Exchange to get Agnes on the line for you.    

Updates & Changes: Sunday, September 8, 2013, thru Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 11, 2013 - Today is the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001.

So far, the only mention of the anthrax letter attacks that seems worth mentioning is in The Week magazine which mistakenly claims that seven people died as a result of the anthrax letter attacks.   The correct number is five, unless you also include the anthrax killer, Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins, who committed suicide in 2008 to avoid being being put on trial for his crime.  And then the number is six, not seven.

Oops.  Another just appeared.  The Wichita Falls, TX, Times-Record-News has this recollection from a reporter, James Feller:

A month later there was the news that a Washington D.C. post office had been struck by an Anthrax attack and postal workers had to be quarantined and given rare vaccinations. Two wound up dead.

That's the point of view of a college student living in D.C. at the time.  From that point of view, it's oddly understandable, even though it leaves out so many key details that most others would remember better.  It seems that for the next month or so we're going to be reading a lot of wildly different accounts about the anthrax attacks of 2001.

September 8, 2013 - On January 11, 2002, I created my first supplemental web page about the handwriting on the anthrax letters.  In that page I wrote:

it appears one person wrote the date on the first letter but someone else wrote the text of that letter, the entire second letter including the date, and also addressed all the envelopes.


One has to assume that the culprit is the person who added the date.  The writer of the text may have been no longer available, or the culprit may have worried that the primary writer would mess up the letter in some way, forcing the culprit to start again from scratch.

My evidence that the date on the media letter was written by a different person was (1) the serifs across the bottom of the 1's in the media letter date are all larger than the 1's on other documents, (2) the media letter date seems to have been drawn with greater confidence and a lighter touch, and (3) that "lighter touch" shows up most clearly in that the second zero in the date is not fully closed.  It's the only zero or alphabetical O in the entire writing set that is not closed.  In all the other writing samples, it was more typical for the writer to trace over part of the O to make certain it is completely closed.

I always felt there was something else that just didn't seem quite right about the date on the media letter, but I never bothered to figure out what it was.  Last week, I decided to try to figure out what it was.  To get a different perspective on the date, I moved it down amid the text to see if that would somehow illustrate the problem.  It did.

Below is the date from the Brokaw letter moved down between the 2nd and 3rd lines of Brokaw text, and also the same for the Daschle letter.

Checking dates on the anthax letters
The first thing I noticed was that the date on the Brokaw letter seems much larger than the rest of the writing, while the date on the Daschle letter does not seem significantly larger.  But when you compare the numbers in the dates to the largest alphabetical characters in the related text, the numbers and text are roughly the same height.  In the media letter, the 09 is roughly the same height as the D in "DEATH."  In the Daschle letter, the 09 is roughly the same height as as the Y in "You."   So, if there truly is a difference in size, that difference must be entirely in the width.

I needed something to use as a "standard," so I looked at how the 8 characters in the two dates compared to printed lines of text when everything uses a fixed-width font:


That made the "problem" with the handwriting very clear:

The handwritten date on the Brokaw letter occupies the width of 13 characters in the text, which is very different from the 8 in the fixed-width font version.

The handwritten date on the Daschle letter occupies the width of roughly 9 characters in the text, which is very close to the 8 in the fixed-width font version.

That means the person who wrote the date on the media letter wrote it differently from anything else on the letters and envelopes, not only in the way the serifs are drawn and the fact that the second O is not closed, but the date is also written substantially wider, and most importantly: much wider that the date on the second letter.

To me, even though it took me nearly twelve years to figure it out, the difference in the width of the date on the media letter is additional important forensic evidence heping to prove that date was not written by the same person who wrote everything else.

In my 2012 book "A Crime Unlike Any Other," I explained that the facts say that Ivins persuaded the child to write the text of the media letter in late August 2001 as part of a different anthrax letter plan he'd been developing for over a year and a half.  Then 9/11 happened, and Ivins decided to create a new plan to take advantage of the Muslim terrorist attacks of 9/11.  As part of that plan, he, added the date to the original copy of the media letter himself rather than taking a chance that the child might screw things up in some way.  So, that date was his imitation of the child's way of writing -- a forgery -- perhaps based upon the 1's, 0's and 9's the child wrote in the media envelope addresses.  (The zip code on the anthrax letter sent to Dan Rather at CBS would have been 10019.)  Only, it's not a good forgery.  It's significantly and demonstrably different

The difference in the width of the date on the media letter, the fact that the 1's in that date have larger serifs, the fact that the second zero in that date is not closed, and the fact that none of those differences show up in the date on the second letter, are all forensic evidence that the date was written by a different writer.  It can be clearly shown in court.  The defense and those people with different theories about who wrote and sent the anthrax letters may argue that this evidence is not "conclusive," but can they make a meaningful argument that this is not the best interpretation of the facts?  If someone else has a better interpretation of the facts, I'd certainly like to see it.

September 7, 2013 - Hmm.  Someone just sent me a link to a book titled "The United States of Paranoia - A Conspiracy Theory" by Jesse Walker.  It looks like the perfect book for me to buy along with "Brilliant Blunders" to avoid Amazon shipping fees.  Or maybe it's time for me to really try to get my Kindle working.  I received a Kindle as a Christmas present in 2010, and I've never found the time to get it working.  Maybe I've got a mental block.  I just like the idea of owning a book better than downloading a file.

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that cow tipping is "an urban legend, rural-style."  It doesn't happen.  I'll have to admit, I thought it did.  Luckily, I never based a theory on it.

September 5, 2013 - Last night, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, astrophysicist Dr. Mario Livio eloquently talked about his new book "Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe."  Dr. Livio also talked eloquently about his book on CBS News,  where he explained that, while Charles Darwin's theory about evolution was basically correct, Darwin was largely incorrect in his thinking of how the mechanics of genetics actually worked.  Because of his misunderstanding, his theory actually disproved itself. 

There's also a review of Dr. Livio's book in The New York Times  which mentions some details about Albert Einstein's biggest "blunder":

Einstein was puzzled as to why the universe didn’t cave in on itself. Empty space, he suggested, contained a mysterious energy pushing outward, resisting the universe’s inward collapse. After he published this idea — what came to be known as the cosmological constant — he regretted it. He said it didn’t emerge naturally from his equations; he’d tacked it on like a cheap piece of plywood over a hole in a roof.

Einstein eventually denounced the cosmological constant. And that, it turns out, was his big mistake. In the 1990s, physicists discovered dark energy, something very similar to that mythical force.

So, Einstein's "big mistake" may not have been a mistake after all.  He may have made a mistake by thinking he'd made a mistake.  Einstein just didn't have enough data to fully figure things out.  When Einstein made the "mistake," astronomers (and Einstein) still believed that the Milky Way Galaxy was the entire universe.  They thought other galaxies were just very distant, slightly fuzzy stars.

Interestingly, the reviewer in The New York Times seems to think that Dr. Livio may have made a major mistake in trying to make his point by focusing on just 5 scientists.  The review ends on a negative note:

Livio brings the care of a historian to his nimble narratives, avoiding heroic clichés. He’s less adept at explaining why these great scientists made their mistakes, too often trotting out pop psychology to demonstrate why people stubbornly cling to ideas even when they see evidence to the contrary.  The psychology of bad science is a fascinating topic, but it requires a broader look at how the entire scientific community operates. Five scientists — no matter how great — cannot shoulder that load. 

Maybe so.  On the other hand, maybe the reviewer made a major mistake in suggesting that Dr. Livio should have written a totally different book, one that the reviewer is anxiously waiting to read.  The reviewer wants a book that summarizes or generalizes how "the entire scientific community" thinks.

In theory, scientific thinking isn't significantly different from other kinds of investigative and/or analytical thinking: You go were the facts lead you, not where you might feel you want to go.  The problem is: The facts don't always come in the best order for thorough understanding, and you may have to do a lot of investigating before you even figure out what facts you need and where the facts can be found.   

I seriously doubt there is any single way "the entire scientific community operates."  It seems far more likely that while the best scientists all know the rules for their specific fields, each has his own unique set of skills, his own unique background of experience and knowledge, and thus each interprets the rules a bit differently and goes about his investigation a bit differently.  If there is only one correct solution, they all should end up in the same place, but each will take a slightly different route to get there, all making different mistakes along the way, some more than others.

Maybe a book about the mistakes of five top scientists isn't a definitive work on the subject, but I think what may be needed next is another book about another top five scientists, then another five scientists, and another five, not some generalization about "how the entire scientific community operates."  I think it's a major mistake to believe there is any single way that the "entire scientific community operates."

It's kind of like "the Darwin mistake."  If there is a best way to do things, all discoveries would be made by the scientists who are best at following the rules.  But clearly that is not the way discoveries are made. NOT following the rules is NOT the key to success either.   The key may be figuring out which rules to follow and which new rules you may need to create yourself.  And that would depend upon the individual scientist's skills.

September 2, 2013 - If anyone wants to print out the envelope addressed to Mrs. Quick Brown Fox and the woodchuck letter I posted yesterday, click HERE for the pdf file (which also contains two worksheets with rectangles the size of the anthrax envelopes).

September 1, 2013 - I'm pounding my head against the wall for not having the courage to even try to talk to my local school board last month about getting a hundred or so first graders to create some handwriting examples during their first week of first grade and then again during their sixth week of first grade. 

I vaguely recall years ago asking some school official or librarian about such a thing, but they said teachers couldn't do it without approval from the school board. 

I could supply the felt tip pens, the small envelopes and the copy paper, and I would supply index cards with the addresses for the children to copy onto the envelopes:


JUNIPERVILLE, AK  45067-8910

I could also supply a funny letter to copy that should make it an enjoyable task for the children.  Like the envelope, the letter would also contain some punctuation to see what the children will do when encountering something they presumably might not yet know about - like a question mark.  The letter would also contain highlighted characters in BOLD, and the teacher would be instructed to tell the students to "make sure the darker characters are traced over to make them darker than the other characters":










The 08-012 on the envelope and letter would be the number assigned to the teacher (08) and the child (012) and written by the teacher, so that the two handwriting samples from six weeks apart can be matched to the same child.  After the study, the records of which child had which number would be destroyed by the teachers.

I could promise to put the results into a book, and I might even promise to give each teacher a copy of the book.  I could even promise to donate any profits from the book (up to some amount like $5,000) to a fund for school supplies, as long as it is fully understood that the chances of there actually being any profits are almost nil.

This study should answer a number of interesting questions:

1.  What does a child's handwriting look like during the 1st week of 1st grade?

2.  What does a child's handwriting look like during the 6th week of 1st grade?

3.  Does the size of the writing typically get smaller after five weeks?

4.  Does the child change the way he draws characters of the alphabet?

5.  Does the child copy all the punctuation?

6.  Does the child correct the misspelled word QUESTSHUN?

7.  Could the child fit both addresses on both envelopes he addressed?

8.  Does the child write the return and destination addresses the same size?

9.  Does the child write the same size on the envelopes and on the letters?

10.  Does the child highlight the bold characters consistently?

11.  Are pause marks visible to show the child was copying something?

12.  Does the handwriting slant downward?

13.  Does any child put serifs on is number 1's and not on his capital I's?

14.  Does the child draw his M's, W's and E's with 4 pen strokes?

15.  Does the child draw his Y's and N's with 3 pen strokes?

16.  Does the child draw his R's public school or Catholic school style?

17.  Does the child capitalize anything by drawing the first character larger?

18.  Does the child always close his O's?

19.  Does the child draw open or closed 4's?

20.  Can left handed children be easily identified by their handwriting?

21.  Does any child draw R's with small circles as the top of the R?

22.  Does the child draw the question mark larger than other characters?

The teachers might have to be asked to watch to see if the children move the envelopes or move their writing hands as they write each line.

I'd also want to know how the children were taught to write 1's and capital I's.  Since the materials they would be copying from contain tiny serifs on the 1's but not on the capital I's (just like the anthrax writings), I wonder if that doesn't somehow explain why the anthrax documents have serifs on the 1's and not on the capital I's.  If Bruce Ivins printed out the original letters using a computer and the Cambria font that I used above for the non-bold letters, would children of that age copy serifs if they see serifs and not use serifs if they don't see serifs?

If a child asks about the punctuation or the misspelled word or anything else, the teacher would be instructed to just repeat, "Copy what is on the card and the paper onto your envelope and paper."  Ideally, the teacher would go to the child to answer the question and not answer it so that the entire class can hear.

I thought about creating a coded hidden message out of highlighted characters (a Roman numeral number (MCCCLIII) or a "funny" phrase), but after spending a couple hours on it, I decided it was better to just highlight two characters per line and two each of seven characters (HCAKELT) to see if the child would be consistent in the way he or she highlighted those characters.  (Ivins was able to pick words that would fit his code, while I began with a poem and thus would have to create a coded message that can be developed from existing words.)

Once the handwriting samples are all assembled, I would have to study them.  I don't know what the results would be, so it's difficult to plan what I'd do.  I'd know I want to see if there are any writers as good as the writer of the anthrax documents.  But, I don't think it would be a good idea to rank the handwriting from best to worst.

In the book, I'd probably just display the envelopes together with letters in order and then write an analysis, explaining my observations by referring to the examples by their 08-012 numbers. 

The goal, of course, would be to provide "scientific" evidence that the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes could easily be (or could not be) that of a child in first and sixth weeks of first grade.  While every child's handwriting will be different from every other child's handwriting, there would hopefully be enough examples to make some probability calculations.  If nothing else, the handwriting examples should stop arguments that NO child could write so well in the first week of first grade.

I would have no way to get any opinions from "handwriting experts" about this.  But, I don't know if showing the samples to any "handwriting expert" would prove anything, anyway.   This isn't about the kind of analyzing or comparing they do.  This is about general writing patterns and how first graders generally write, although it should also get data that might later be used by "handwriting experts" to need to distinguish childrens' handwriting from adult disguised handwriting.  The "handwriting experts" can just buy the book and criticize my findings, if they so desire.

But what the world would have as a result of this survey is a LOT more data upon which to base an argument that a child did or did not write the anthrax letters.  It could still be argued that the anthrax mailer may have perfectly forged a first grader's handwriting on the anthrax documents, but that theory wouldn't be any more believable a year from now than it was twelve years ago.

Of course, this handwriting study is still purely hypothetical.  I seriously doubt that I'd be able to persuade my school board to participate in such a study, even if I could get up the nerve to ask them.  But, maybe there are others who read this web site who have the nerve -- and the right credentials and influence.

© Copyright 2013 by Ed Lake
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