by Ed Lake
& Changes: Sunday, July 20, 2014, thru Saturday, July 26,
July 24, 2014 - Someone just sent me
an article from tumbler.com titled "Count
to ten when a plane goes down." In the article, the author
explains how, in 1983, he screwed up and caused conspiracy theorists to
go nuts and jump into full theory-generating mode over the
disappearance of Korean Airlines Flight 007. The lesson
apparently is: People make mistakes, so when there's a major news
event, be patient and don't assume that there's some kind of conspiracy
just because someone made a false assumption and no one fully
understands exactly what's happening from the very first news bulletin.
Hmm. We've got another
aircraft disappearance in
the news today. Air Algerie Flight AH5017 vanished
over Mali with "at least 116 people on board."
The Ouagadougou Airport
statement claimed that Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul
Castro, was among those on board.
However, the National
Center for Sexual Education in Havana, Cuba, which Mariela Castro runs,
denied the reports and told CNN she was at an event in Havana. Castro
subsequently told a Telesur anchor who interviewed her by phone, "I'm
alive, kicking, happy and healthy!"
So, as if to make the
point detailed in the "Count to ten" article, we should let the news
reports settle for awhile before we decide what "most likely" happened.
Meanwhile, I spent nearly all day yesterday reading the first 15% of a
library book "From
Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time," by
Sean Carroll. It's a very
interesting read -- if you are interested in trying to understand
and spacetime, which I am. I was looking forward to reading more
of it today. Then, I awoke this morning thinking about a
terrific ending for my new sci-fi novel. That was my hang-up -- not "narrative drive." I
didn't have a good ending to "drive" towards. Now I
do. So, all plans have changed. I might try to read
more of "From Eternity to Here" during breakfast and lunch every day
while I'm working on my novel, but chances are it will require too much
focus. If so, I'll go back to reading "Geek Wisdom."
Here's another full "chapter" from the book "Geek
that I've highlighted:
CROSS THE STREAMS. IT WOULD BE BAD.” —EGON SPENGLER,
EGON’S WARNING TO his fellow Ghostbusters was perhaps the most casually
deadpan mention of possibly accidentally blowing oneself to bits ever
committed to voice. It’s typical, though. In the eyes of mainstream society, most
geeks tend to get excited by all the “wrong” things. From raging
battles over which is the best X-Man to the abject joy that ripples
through nerddom whenever a new Hubble image is released, there’s no
doubt that geeks are passionate people. Yet, all this passion for
offbeat, unique things sometimes leaves little room in our cerebral
cortex for getting excited about relatively ordinary things … like,
say, the possibility of a violent horrific death. Death, after all,
happens to everyone; there’s nothing especially unique about it.
Goldilocks-zone exoplanet? Now that’s worth an exclamation point or
two. Of course, this means that whenever
a geek laconically suggests that taking a particular course of action
“would be bad,” those passionate about their own continued well-being
should probably pay really, really close attention.
Although I never thought of myself that way,
I'm beginning to think that I'm a "geek." Yesterday, someone sent
me an email with a link to an
article about the movie "The Godfather." "The
Godfather" is not one
of my favorite movies. While composing a response, I decided to
do a Google search for the favorite movies of geeks. One
site contains a list of "Fifteen
geek movies to see before you die." I've seen all on that
some of my true favorites
aren't included. Then I found "81
movies for geeks that do not suck." Most of my favorites are
on that list: "Groundhog Day," "Aliens," "Alien," "The Princess Bride,"
"Ghostbusters," "Star Wars," and I think I've got DVDs or Blu-Rays for
about 70 of the 81. But, it has a few that I don't like at all
(mostly zombie and Hobbit movies). So, like everyone else, there
probably no two geeks who agree on everything.
For some reason, I seriously doubt that any
"The Godfather" to be one of his favorite movies. However, in an
attempt to verify that thought, I went through a few more web sites
geeks' favorite movies: HERE,
None includes "The
Godfather." I have no doubt that "The Godfather" is a favorite of
and many "movie nerds," but it's not a favorite of any true
geeks. Maybe someday, when I have the time, I'll try to figure
out why. (That's what geeks do. Non-geeks don't care, OR
they get upset because you're just too "stupid"
to appreciate what "most people" consider to be "one of the greatest
movies of all time.")
July 22, 2014 (B) - Hmm.
"DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog must have read my (A) comment this
morning, since he
has also posted a comment about William J. Vollmann. He found
a bizarre comment by Mr. Vollmann in the
Sacramento Bee article that I failed to notice, but which "DXer"
appears to consider an important statement worth repeating and quoting
without explanation or comment:
always said that it’s important not to let our knowledge get in the way
of what’s more important, which is our ignorance. I want to always keep
my ignorance so I can be open to what people are saying.”
To me, that seems like a silly and
preposterous thing to say. Mr. Vollmann wants to KEEP his ignorance?
I cannot believe Henry David Thoreau (or any other intelligent person)
ever felt that way. So, I did some Google searches to try to find
out what Henry Thoreau actually said. I did searches
through Thoreau quotes for the word "ignorance" and found next to
nothing. Searching for the word "knowledge" found this from his
1862 book "Walking" (Click HERE for
My desire for knowledge is intermittent;
but my desire to bathe my head in atmospheres unknown to my feet is
perennial and constant. The highest
that we can attain to is not Knowledge, but Sympathy with Intelligence.
I do not know that this higher knowledge amounts to anything more
definite than a novel and grand surprise on a sudden revelation of the
insufficiency of all that we called Knowledge before — a discovery that
there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our
However, I cannot see how
that could be the source of Vollmann's claim.
Here's another quote from the 1863 book "Life Without Principle" where
Thoreau seems to value knowledge very highly:
Knowledge does not come to
us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven.
Here's another quote from
that same book that doesn't contain either word but was next to a quote
A grain of gold will gild a
great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
Yes, there's a
difference between "knowledge" and "wisdom," but ignorance won't
produce either one. And who would find ignorance preferable?
Could this quote from "Life Without Principle" be the one Mr. Vollmann
remembers? It doesn't use either word, but does include the word "important":
Not without a slight
shudder at the danger, I often perceive how near I had come to
admitting into my mind the details of some trivial affair, — the news
of the street; and I am
astonished to observe how willing men are to lumber their minds with
such rubbish, — to permit idle rumors and incidents of the most
insignificant kind to intrude on ground which should be sacred to
thought. Shall the mind be a public arena, where the affairs of
the street and the gossip of the tea-table chiefly are discussed? Or
shall it be a quarter of heaven itself, — an hypæthral temple,
consecrated to the service of the gods? I find it so difficult to dispose of
the few facts which to me are significant, that I hesitate to burden my
attention with those which are insignificant, which only a
divine mind could illustrate. Such is, for the most part, the news in
newspapers and conversation. It
is important to preserve the
mind's chastity in this respect.
Thoreau didn't say he
prefers "ignorance." He merely prefers to avoid listening to
gossip, rumors and "news of the street" which come from ignorant sources.
Here's a quote with both words that I found on a Thoreau quotes web
friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness
I'm pleased that "DXer" brought the quote from Mr. Vollmann to my
attention. I would never have believed that an intelligent person
would say such a thing. But, it's certainly understandable that
"DXer" found it to be a statement from the article worth repeating.
July 22, 2014 (A) - This morning,
did my regular daily Google search through the news for anthax+2001,
up popped a link to a
article about novelist, journalist, essayist, moralist William J.
Vollmann which said,
Last year, he wrote a piece
for Harper’s that told the chilling story of what he found in his FBI
file after obtaining part of it via the Freedom of Information Act. He
discovered that the FBI suspected him of being the Unabomber. Then,
after Ted Kaczynski was arrested in 1996 for mailing bombs that killed
and maimed people, the FBI
considered Vollmann a suspect in the 2001 anthrax-by-mail attacks. The
key suspect in that case took his own life in 2008.
I remember reading about
that last year, but I didn't write about it. Apparently, I didn't
see anything of interest in Vollmann's claim
that the FBI considered him to be a suspect.
This morning, however, I was interested. So, I did
some research. Mostly what I found was that it appears William
Vollmann has been using his claim
that the FBI considered him to be an Amerithrax suspect as a way of
generating publicity for his books.
But I also found an
August 2013 article from USA Today
A “fellow citizen”
eventually told the agency that Vollmann might be the Unabomber
the man eventually identified as Theodore Kaczynski and sentenced to
prison for sending deadly mail bombs. The unnamed
informant argued that the “anti-growth” and “anti-progress”
themes in Vollmann’s books were evidence of a connection.
“This may seem like a small matter,” Vollmann writes,
“but… in effect, his case relied on literary criticism. My mind
The story gets harder to believe. Vollmann notes the many tenuous, flat-out wrong assumptions and
inferences made by the FBI
. According to his file, Vollmann owns
a flame-thrower, traveled to Beirut and is likely familiar with
chemistry and explosives, all of which Vollmann says are false. One
report tries to link the Unabomber’s moniker with the initials of one
of Vollmann’s books. Even after the Unabomber is caught, Vollmann’s
file shows him still in the FBI’s sights. A tip
about Vollmann’s handwriting leads the agency to investigate him
as a suspect in the 2001 anthrax case.
Ah! It appears that
it is Mr. Vollmann who is
twisting the facts to make a claim that FBI did something wrong in
checking him out. And, of course, the Sacramento Bee is a McClatchy
newspaper, so they simply print that accusation against the FBI.
You have to do some research to find the full story.
If a private
citizen gives the FBI a "tip" that Mr. Vollmann might be the Unibomber
and supplies various items of "evidence" to support that theory, is the
FBI "wrong" in checking Vollmann out? If the FBI gets another tip
that Mr. Vollmann's handwriting matches the handwriting on the anthrax
documents, is it "wrong" for the FBI to check him out? Does
checking on a tip from a
private citizen that includes
"evidence" mean that the FBI considers Vollmann to be a
I see the answers to all three of those questions as one big,
It's part of the FBI's job to
check on tips supplied by private citizens, particularly if the tipster
also supplies "evidence" to support the tip. And being a possible suspect is not the
same thing as actually being a suspect.
It's routine for 99% of tips from private citizens in a major case to
be total nonsense. But, the tips still need to be checked out in
order to find that 1% that actually lead somewhere. In the
Amerithrax investigation, Nancy Haigwood's tip about Bruce Ivins was
probably just one tip in ten
thousand. And even though it wasn't initially taken seriously by
the FBI, it eventually proved to be correct and important.
It would be nice if investigators always knew the "truth" immediately
and there was no need to actually accumulate evidence and sort through
dozens of "potential suspects" to find a real suspect. But, if
the world worked that way, there wouldn't be any need for
"investigators." The work could be done by judges who could also pass sentence
as soon as they found or were provided with "the truth." (I
think I saw that
Meanwhile, on last
night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart, they talked about what is
probably the most absurd conspiracy theory related to the shooting down
of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The claim is that the Dutch staged the tragedy to
embarrass the pro-Russian rebels. According to the theory, the
Dutch allegedly filled an airliner with corpses and made it fly on
autopilot over rebel territory where a bomb placed inside the plane was
detonated. The theory is also in the International
On Friday, Igor Girkin, the
commander of rebel group, allegedly said to Russkaya Vesna, a
pro-Russia Web site, the bodies
found at the crash site in Ukraine were decomposed, drained of blood and
believed dead days before MH 17 flew over the country's air space.
Girkin said the shooting of the Malaysian Airlines was just staged to
blame the separatists, saying Ukrainian authorities "are capable of any
I guess it just goes to
prove that there is no conspiracy theory so absurd and ridiculous that
someone somewhere won't totally believe it and repeat it.
July 21, 2014 - Yesterday, I
finished uploading my Sunday comment at around 10 a.m. Feeling
unable to work on my sci-fi novel because I haven't fully determined
the basis for its "narrative drive,"
I decided to look at how some novels I had "borrowed" from my local
library "hook" the reader. I started reading the first few pages
New York" by E.C.
Tubb, and the "narrative drive" hooked me. It's a hard
boiled private eye novel written in the style of the 1940s.
The P.I. is a "shamus," women are "dames," guns are "gats," criminals
who carry guns are "gunsels,"
hero smokes cigarettes constantly, and he wears a "fedora." (The
author was an Englishman, so the hero would also park his car at the "kerb"
when he had a flat "tyre.")
I read through lunch and then took a break to do some shopping.
When I returned home, I read some more. I was about 70% done at
3:30 p.m., when I turned off the Kindle while I went into the kitchen
open a cup of yogurt and add granola to it. When I returned, the Kindle wouldn't turn back on!
It was like the on-off switch didn't
"DON'T PANIC," is another item of Geek Wisdom. It's quoted from
Douglas Adams' book, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke said those two words were "the best
possible advice for mankind." Don't panic.
So, I didn't panic. I turned on my computer, connected it to my
Kindle, and tried to see if my computer could access my Kindle.
It couldn't. It was as if the Kindle wasn't even connected via
the USB port. "Don't panic," I reminded myself.
Having turned on my computer, I saw that I had two emails from Google
telling me that an Anthrax Truther had posted comments to my interactive blog that
were awaiting moderation. Because I wasn't in a panic, I decided
to read and respond to those messages before doing anything else with
first message contained a totally bizarre statement that my hypothesis that a
child wrote the anthrax letters was "unfalsifiable."
The Truther phrased it this way:
Along with its primitive
reductionism in the fields of first grade curriculum, graphology,
vocabulary etc., the
child-printed-it hypothesis is, in the way that Mister Lake presents
it, fundamentally unfalsifiable.
Nothing could be farther from the truth, of course. Most other
people who believe Ivins was the anthrax killer believe that Ivins
disguised or "falsified" his
handwriting by writing the way a barely literate Muslim (or a child)
would write. The people who think a Muslim terrorist wrote the
letters believe my hypothesis is false
because they believe it's really the writing of a person who normally
writes in Arabic. And the Anthrax Truther himself believes my
hypothesis is false because he claims a criminal mastermind had one of
his anonymous minions write the letters. I posted a response.
second message was a claim that the U.S. Government was "lying
to the public about the lyophilizer AND lying to the public about the
handwriting comparisons." It's a a simple statement of belief which the Truther cannot
prove or even verify. So, it was just his opinion. And I
so. I have no desire to argue opinions versus opinions.
When I finished posting my responses, I went to Amazon's
Kindle HELP page. One of the "frequently asked
questions" was "My
Kindle is frozen." Not really a question, but the advice was:
1. Make sure to unplug your device from charging.
2. Press or slide and hold the
power button for 20 seconds (ignore anything that happens on the
And there was another
page with more details, including a count-down clock to help you
measure out 20 full seconds.
I did as instructed, and PRESTO! The Kindle re-booted and everything was
working again. (It occurs to me that I sometimes do the same
thing to re-boot my Digital Video Recorder (DVR) when it acts
up.) Any day you learn something new is a good day.
So, while it meant reading through dinner and during the evening news,
I was able to finish reading "Assignment New York" at around 6
p.m. The book was only 206 pages long, so it wasn't like reading
"War and Peace" in about 5 hours. But, it's the first time in
years that I've read a novel cover-to-cover in a single day. And
the book was a good demonstration of "narrative drive," so it wasn't a
total waste of time.
July 20, 2014 - Last week, during breakfast and
lunch, I was reading a library book "Geek
Wisdom" by N.K. Jemisin on my Kindle. It's a perfect book
for reading while eating a meal, since each "chapter" consists of about
page. Thus, I don't
have to keep reading and reading to find a place where I can turn off
the Kindle without being in the middle of some explanation or
idea. A "chapter" consists of a quote from some source familiar
followed by an explanation of what that quote means to geeks.
Here's an example of one complete "chapter" that has relevance to my
endless debates with conspiracy theorists, True Believers and Anthrax
CONCLUSION IS THE PLACE WHERE YOU GOT TIRED OF THINKING.” —STEVEN WRIGHT
A GEEK can be mentally exhausting; we totally get it. However, the
collective short attention span we’ve inherited from the Internet age
means that it’s all too easy to answer a pressing question by glancing
at Wikipedia and calling it a day. Occasionally that’s all you need; it
doesn’t take too many sources to corroborate the orbital period of
Venus, for example. On the other hand, it seems vaguely disheartening
that, with access to more information than ever before, so many
Internet fights boil down to two people with violently opposing
viewpoints attacking each other based on incorrect and incomplete data
sets. It’s our responsibility as geeks to make sure we never stop
learning, that we take little for granted, and that we look at every
statement not as a conclusion, but as an invitation to more research.
a comedian familiar to geeks. To conspiracy theorists and
Truthers that undoubtedly
means that any quote from him cannot be taken seriously.)
following quote from the
author of "Geek Wisdom" to be particularly relevant while I was
researching the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17:
can neither take part in the horror of man’s violence nor give in to
it, but we must acknowledge it. In some way we must come to grips with
what we’re capable of doing to one another. We are a beautiful,
terrible, sleepless species. And sometimes we’re still animals. So it
a more positive note, I really appreciated that "Geek Wisdom" made me
this quote from Robert Heinlein's 1973 science fiction novel "Time Enough
human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion,
butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance
accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders,
give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new
problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight
efficiently, die gallantly.”
It sometimes seems like every day we need to "analyze a new
problem." Unfortunately, while we're doing that, there is always
else who prefers to "pitch manure."
another relevant quote from "Geek Wisdom" that would antagonize
do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley
Truthers seem to specialize in ignoring facts. And it doesn't seem to bother them one
bit that they do not agree amongst themselves on
who actually sent the anthrax letters. They simply do not want to
the silly theories from other Anthrax Truthers. They only want to
argue with the people who agree with "the government," people who
the evidence says that
Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer. Those people can be attacked
as being "gullible government stooges" or "shills."
Last week, I tried once again to show
an Anthrax Truther that he doesn't understand what constitutes
a court of law. He argued that no one can testify that they
recognized another person's handwriting unless they are certified
handwriting experts. In
another post, he argued that if there are
lay witnesses who say that the handwriting on the anthrax documents
resembled Ivins' handwriting when he disguised
his handwriting, then the
government probably manipulated
those witnesses into saying
that. And if I do not agree that they were manipulated, I must
provide facts which show that the
government did NOT manipulate
the witnesses. In other words, I must prove the negative.
Otherwise, I'm wrong. End of story.
Plus, in his mind, if Ivins' fingerprints were not found on the anthrax
letters, that is "exculpatory" evidence showing that Bruce Ivins was
And anyone who disagrees is wrong.
End of story.
No attempt to discuss "evidence" with him can accomplish
anything. He simply states his beliefs and then stops posting
when I explain why the evidence says he's wrong.
I keep thinking I should create a set of "standard answers."
conspiracy theorists and Truthers just argue the same absurdities over
over and over, it would save me a lot of time if I just copied and
pasted a standard response. Like this:
To become evidence, an object,
document or testimony has to
be presented as supporting a claim. There is no claim that Ivins used a
lyophilizer to dry the attack spores. Therefore all
arguments that Ivins could not
have used the lyophilizer to dry the
spores are not about evidence, they are just arguments for the sake of
"NOT FINDING EVIDENCE" MEANS THEY DID NOT FIND EVIDENCE. It does
NOT mean they found "exculpatory evidence."
argument that a "typical" criminal would not use a child to write
threat letters doesn't mean that Bruce Ivins wouldn't have done so.
fact that postal employees handled, transported and delivered the
anthrax-filled letters mailed by Bruce Ivins does not mean that the
postal employees were accomplices
in the crime. Nor does manipulating a child into writing letters
make the child "an accomplice."
I already use this "standard answer" quite often:
number of people who believe something has nothing to do with whether
it is true or not. At one time nearly everyone in the world
believed the earth was flat. That didn't make it flat.
And this should probably be standard answer #1:
perpetrator of the anthrax attacks of
2001 has been
identified. His name was Bruce Edwards Ivins.
Unfortunately, he committed suicide before he could be brought to
trial. But, the Department of Justice (DOJ) provided us with an Amerithrax
Investigation Summary of the evidence against Ivins. It's
available for anyone to view. For anyone who has bothered to look
at the evidence, there should be no reasonable doubt that the case was
Unfortunately, that "standard answer" will usually require another
"standard answer" to the argument that it generates. This would
probably be standard answer #2:
A "summary" is NOT REQUIRED to include all the
theories from conspiracy theorists or the names of all the possible
suspects who were checked out by the FBI and the "evidence" against
them. A "summary" CAN
just be a summary of the evidence in support
of the charge or claim that
Bruce Edwards Ivins was the anthrax killer.
& Changes: Sunday, July 13, 2014, thru Saturday, July 19,
July 19, 2014 - Hmm. While
reading the discussion about the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH17 on PPruNe.org,
the Professional Pilots' Rumor Network, I noticed a link to an article HERE
which says that someone within the Russian government has been
modifying the Wikipedia
article about flight MH17:
The original version of the
Wikipedia article listing civil aviation accidents stated that MH17 had
been shot down “by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s
Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists
received from the Russian Federation.” Emphasis added.
The edits originating from
the government-owned computer changed the article to read “the plane
[flight MH17] was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers“.
Again, emphasis added.
The pilots on PPruNe.org
also found pictures of
what appears to be some of the damage caused by the BUK
surface-to-air missile which has a proximity fuse that detonates the
warhead as it approaches the aircraft, spraying the target with
rod-shaped pieces shrapnel. The shape of the holes is probably a signature of that kind of missile.
It also occurs to me that the fact that about 2/3rds of the passengers
aboard the airliner were Dutch citizens undoubtedly has a lot to do
with the fact that the flight to Kuala Lumpur originated in Amsterdam,
but it probably also has something to do with the fact that Indonesia
was once known as the Dutch East
And that led me to realize that I wasn't certain which parts of that
section of the world belonged to Malaysia
and what parts belonged to Indonesia.
So, I researched it.
No one can call me a "know it all." I'm learning new things every
July 18, 2014 - The news this
morning has some different
information about the shooting down of Malaysia Flight MH17
yesterday. News reports are now saying there were 298 people
aboard, 283 passengers and 15 crew. Yesterday, the number was
295. Today, it's
not known if there were any Americans aboard. Yesterday, most
reports said there were 23
Americans aboard. The pro-Russian rebels are still
claiming to have taken the "black boxes" from the wreckage. It
will be interesting to see what they do with them. Multiple
reports say that one of the
black boxes was sent to Moscow
The two sides in the conflict are blaming one another for the
shoot-down. However, one of the pilots on PPruNe.org
makes a very interesting point:
Almost no chance it came
from Ukraine military. The rebels don't have any planes, so they posed
no threat from the air. No risk of shooting off a missile. The culprits
are either Russia or the Russian-armed rebels.
Plus, of course, there are
statements from a
rebel leader saying he warned the world that they would shoot down
airliners in their airspace. And there's a
recorded phone call of a pro-Russian leader saying they downed the
plane. But, they also have this rebel
"The B777 was shot down by
the Ukranian military fighter jet, that attacked the airliner, it split
in two parts and fell down. After that the fighter jet was shot down by
our forces. Now we are looking for it on the ground."
I don't think that piece
of rabid propaganda has any chance of being believed by anyone except
the pro-Russian rebels who benefit from believing it. But, another
news report seems to be pushing a similar story.
And, of course, there's the question of why
commercial airliners were flying over a war zone in the first place.
It seems like an
invitation to some nut case with power who might want to make some kind
of point to the world.
I think the facts about this disaster will become very clear very
soon. But, there will still be plenty people who will simply
believe what they want to believe. The comments after a
Newsweek article about the disaster show that conspiracy theorists
already hard at work twisting facts to fit their beliefs. My
analysis of the disaster:
Pro-Russian separatists shot
down the plane on purpose.
First, the pro-Russian
rebels have no aircraft. So, there's no reason for Kiev to shoot at any
aircraft. And, there's no logic behind any scenario where Kiev
would do it and try to blame the rebels. That kind of insane action
cannot be hidden in today's technological world.
Second, shooting down the
airliner "by accident" seems unlikely. It was flying at a very high
altitude, so it presented no imminent danger. The rebels would have to
track the plane on radar in order to target it. And, the aircraft's
transponder would tell a radar system what kind of aircraft it is.
Lastly, the conflict seems to
be going against the rebels at the moment. That can result in a lot of
desperation and unclear thinking. Shooting down a commercial airliner
could make a point. The point would be: Either we are allowed to win or
we'll kill everyone who failed to support us.
I'm always open to new and better facts which would change my analysis.
July 17, 2014 (B) - Jeeze! Malaysia Airlines just
their second airliner in about 4 months. It's another Boeing
777, with 295 people aboard, including 23 Americans. I don't see
anyone arguing any conspiracy theories yet, but it's only been about an
hour since the news broke. According to a graphic HERE,
there were a
lot of other planes in the general area, so it wasn't in any
restricted area. Hmm. Maybe it's been longer than an
hour. Wikipedia already has a web page about it HERE
with 49 references.
July 17, 2014 (A) - Jerry Seinfeld
the guest last night on The
Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He was promoting his Internet
in Cars Getting Coffee." So, this morning all I could do was
watch episode after episode. Apparently they have two
"seasons" per year, since the last time I mentioned "Comedians in Cars"
was in June 2013 when they
were promoting "Season 2." And now Seinfeld is promoting Season 4.
On topic, I've been thinking about writing something about the
problems at the CDC where they keep finding that this germ or that
germ was not properly handled. But, what can I write?
People make mistakes. Even smart people. Duh.
I also noticed an
article about Paul Keim getting fired from a biosafety advisory
panel, supposedly because of the CDC crisis. It looks like a case
of firing the people whose advice they didn't take but should
have. But what can I
write about that? People make mistakes. Even smart
I also highlighted an interesting quote from the library book I'm
currently reading on my Kindle during breakfast and lunch, "Geek
Wisdom" by N.K. Jemisin. Here's the highlighted passage:
JUST NO TALKING TO SOME PEOPLE. Oh, you can try. You can form your
arguments, bring your evidence, and go in with as open a mind as
possible. But at some point you have to realize the other person isn’t
interested in a meeting of the minds.
Been there. Done that.
Here's a Geek slogan from a T-shirt I'm tempted to buy:
ARE 10 KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD: THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND BINARY, AND
THOSE WHO DON’T.”
if you don't get it.
Meanwhile, I'm going to watch some more "Comedians in Cars Getting
July 15, 2014 - I don't know if
anyone is interested or not, but I'm now thinking that the reason I got
bogged down in writing my second sci-fi novel is because I didn't write
it in first person as I did with the
first novel in the series. I had started writing it in first
person, but then changed my mind. I thought writing it in third person would be easier
and would allow me to generate more suspense in a story where the
investigators more or less figure out whodunit in the first third of
the book. Writing in third person didn't help, and it hurt
my ability to add humor to what is essentially a very grim story.
I need to work on the narrative drive.
If whodunit is learned in the first third of the book (and that is
something that cannot be
avoided), I need to keep the reader reading by focusing the narrative
drive on something else - like the dangers involved, the romance or
whether they can catch the bad guy without exposing a top secret device
to the public.
By the way, yesterday I
finished reading the 21st Alex Delaware
Kellerman, which is told in both
first and third person, but mostly in first person. I'd started
on it on Friday. While okay, I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as
much as the previous novel I read. So, now the question is: Can I
get back to work on my own novel, or will I end up reading another
Janet Evanovich novel first? Meanwhile, I'm back to reading
non-fiction during breakfast and lunch.
July 14, 2014 - Overnight, an
Anthrax Truther posted a couple messages to my interactive blog
which show how Truthers distort things and avoid looking at evidence.
first posted message included a suggestion that the FBI/DOJ doesn't
really have any lay witnesses who could testify about how the
handwriting on the anthrax documents resembled Ivins' disguised handwriting:
Investigative Summary talks only and exclusively about (unnamed)
"witnesses" when talking about Ivins' printing. Naturally, such unnamed
witnesses (read: informants)
cannot really be questioned. On account of
their being unnamed.
It would have been stupid and unethical to name
witnesses in the Summary. All that such a breach of ethics and
protocol would accomplish is make those witnesses subject to harassment
from every nut case who has a different view of the case, and who would
consider them to be "informants."
In reality, anyone who is
actually familiar with the case would know
who the witnesses must be,
based upon what the Summary says about how the witnesses received
letters from Dr. Ivins.
Truther's second posted message, instead of discussing the real and
solid evidence against Dr. Ivins, he suggested that the DOJ would have hidden the fact that there were
avenues of investigation that led nowhere - like not finding Ivins' fingerprints on
the letters, or not finding
his DNA on the letters, or, of course, finding his handwriting did not
match the handwriting on the anthrax documents.
The idea, apparently, is that if the Amerithrax
Investigative Summary doesn't state that some avenues of
investigation led nowhere, then the FBI and DOJ are hiding the
non-findings from those avenues of investigation from the public, and the DOJ would certainly try to
hide them from the defense lawyers during discovery. But, those
non-productive avenues of investigation ARE
mentioned in the Summary on page 11:
spore powder, letters, and envelopes recovered during the investigation
were exhaustively examined
using traditional forensic methods, including hair, fiber, fingerprint, DNA, and handwriting
analysis. In addition, Task Force agents interviewed witnesses,
and later obtained pen-registers, executed search warrants, and engaged
confidential sources. Using these tools, Task Force agents conducted
preliminary investigations of 1,040 individuals and in-depth
investigations of over 400 of them. In 2007, all of this evidence was
supplemented with the groundbreaking scientific genetic analyses that
conclusively identified the murder weapon. This revelation, and the
investigation that followed, led to the conclusion that Dr. Ivins
mailed the anthrax letters.
The Truther evidently
wanted them to write at length about how Ivins' DNA was not found on the letters or
envelopes, nor were his fingerprints. His
claim is that the FBI found NO evidence showing Ivins was the anthrax
killer, and to support that nonsense belief, he apparently wants the
and FBI to ignore all the actual evidence that was found and write only
about the avenues of investigation where NO evidence was found.
Perhaps it's a word game. If the DOJ and FBI had written "We
found no DNA evidence
to link Dr. Ivins to the anthrax mailings," and "We found no fingerprint evidence to
link Dr. Ivins to the anthrax mailings," the Truthers could twist that
to argue, "The FBI says over and over they found NO 'evidence to link
Dr. Ivins to the anthrax mailings'."
It's a way to argue beliefs and opinions, instead of discussing actual
July 13, 2014 - Getting
that U.S. Postal Inspection
Service (USPIS) report in the mail on Wednesday, and my writing about
in my comment on Thursday, apparently upset both of the Anthrax
who currently find a need to start arguments whenever I disagree
with their beliefs. The report written by USPIS forensic
expert Robert J. Muehlberger stated that Dr. Ivins' handwriting was NOT
a match to the handwriting on the anthrax envelopes. Yesterday,
Anthrax Truther who argues
interactive blog wrote:
The handwriting analyses were
That's exactly why they didn't present it publicly. But had a trial
taken place, they (the prosecutors) would have been legally obligated
by rules of discovery to present that evidence to the defense which,
almost certainly, would have presented it, by calling as a defense
witness that handwriting analyst(s), stressing the person's
professionalism, experience etc. In an Ivins-acting-alone prosecution
scenario, this alone would have provided reasonable doubt: 'He didn't
print s[p]it, you must acquit' as a latter-day Johnny Cochran might say.
Otherwise you'd have a situation where:
1) 'match' indicates guilt=evidence.
Doesn't that seem odd even to you, Mister Lake?
And when I disagreed that it was exculpatory evidence, the Truther
Then you don't get what
exculpatory evidence is.
Exculpatory evidence is evidence favorable to the defendant in a
criminal trial that exonerates or
tends to exonerate
the defendant of guilt. It is the opposite
of inculpatory evidence, which tends to prove guilt.
"Tends to exonerate"
fits. Especially since the government said that Ivins had no help
If that analysis (those analyses) had been a match, then it would have
been inculpatory evidence:
Other Anthrax Truthers also claim that the finding by USPIS forensic
handwriting expert Robert Muehlberger that the handwriting on the
anthrax documents is NOT a match to Ivins' handwriting is "exculpatory
In a post to his own blog, Lew
Weinstein wrote on Aug. 13, 2013:
What conclusions can be
drawn from the DOJ/FBI failure to include evidence exculpatory to Dr. Ivins,
which has happened often since the 2008 press conference where it was
claimed that Dr. Ivins was the “sole perpetrator” of the 2001 anthrax
attacks? … obviously, he could not be the “sole perpetrator” if he did
not address the envelopes.
The above comment was in
response to a
March 8, 2007 letter written
by that same USPIS handwriting expert Robert Muehlberger in which
Mr. Muehlberger wrote:
Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the
writings appearing on the “anthrax” envelopes and letters.
In emails he sent to me, the Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer"
also claimed that the finding that Bruce Ivins handwriting did not
match the handwriting on the anthrax documents was "exculpatory."
As far as I'm concerned, the fact that the handwriting did not match
Ivins' handwriting merely confirms my
hypothesis that the anthrax killer used a child who was just starting
first grade to write the anthrax documents. That hypothesis
was first presented in late 2001, seven
before Bruce Ivins was identified by the FBI as the anthrax
At the time, the "most likely" suspect was someone who had no known
access to children. In August 2008, the hypothesis was seemingly
partly confirmed when Ivins was named as the anthrax killer, and it was
made known that his wife ran a day-care center in their home. It
also confirmed by indications that Ivins' personality showed he would
have had no problem with using a child that way. All the evidence
neatly into place - except for the fact that the FBI wasn't looking at the evidence the
way I was.
On pages 89 and 90 of the Amerithrax
Investigative Summary, the FBI/DOJ had a different explanation for
why the handwriting did not match Ivins' handwriting: The
handwriting was disguised.
The FBI had witnesses
willing to testify that the handwriting on the anthrax documents looked
like Ivins' block letter handwriting when he wrote anonymous letters to
his female co-workers that he didn't want traced back to him.
So, is the lack of a match to Ivins' handwriting "exculpatory" or not?
The Anthrax Truther on my blog sees only two kinds of evidence,
exculpatory (helping to prove innocence) and inculpatory (helping to
guilt). The other Truthers seem to see things the same way.
They do not ask the basic questions: How does "evidence" become
"evidence"? What was it before it became "evidence"?.
From my point of view (and the point of view of the Justice
System, as I understand it), FACTS are just FACTS, documents are just
documents, verbal statements are just statements, UNTIL
until they are
presented in court in support of some claim - typically a claim of
guilt or innocence in a crime. Then -and only then - do those,
FACTS, documents and verbal statements become evidence.
It is a FACT that Robert Muehlberger found that "Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the writings
appearing on the “anthrax” envelopes and letters."
The Summary report indicates that the Department of Justice (DOJ) did
not intend to use that FACT as evidence in support of their claim that
Ivins was the anthrax killer. Instead, they intended to use
witnesses who would state
the handwriting on the anthrax documents appeared to be Ivins' disguised handwriting. The
lay witness verbal testimony would be inculpatory
evidence, helping to show Ivins' guilt.
There seems no way that Mr. Muehlberger could ever testify that it
could not be Ivins' disguised
handwriting. All Mr. Muehlberger stated was that the handwriting probably
wasn't Ivins' handwriting. So, the handwriting finding could not be
That means the finding falls into the middle ground where a FACT is just a FACT
and is neither inculpatory nor exculpatory. It's no different
finding that a bullet removed from a dead man's body was not fired from
a revolver owned by the suspect. It doesn't help prove innocence,
just means that the suspect didn't use his own gun.
To be "exculpatory," the handwriting would either have be be shown to
belong to someone else OR it would have to be shown that it is not possible that Ivins could have
disguised his handwriting in such a way that would prevent handwriting
experts from making a match to his handwriting.
Ivins would have had to be very STUPID to use his normal handwriting
when writing the anthrax letters and envelopes. Ivins wasn't
stupid. He undoubtedly understood that he needed to make
the handwriting on the letters and envelopes could not be
matched to his handwriting.
In my book "A
Crime Unlike Any Other,"
I show that Ivins probably spent over a year and a half figuring out
the best way to prepare a threat letter containing anthrax. He
had plenty of
time to figure out a way to make certain there would be no match to his
handwriting. It's not easy to do, but it's certainly not
The Anthrax Truthers also claim that the FBI/DOJ deliberately misled
the public about the handwriting. The Truther posting to my blog
I maintain what I have always maintained: the Amerithrax
Investigative Summary is a PR (public relations) document, first and
foremost. If it were a true summary, then the truth about the printing
comparisons, the (non-)availability of the lyophilizer in the fall of
2001 would have been in there.
is the "truth about the printing comparisons" done by the USPIS?
"truth" seems to be that the USPIS experts found FACTS, but they found
no evidence that was either
inculpatory or exculpatory.
the Anthrax Truther who sends me emails because I do not
allow him to post irrelevant documents, nor do I allow him to post vile
and disgusting personal attacks on my blog, wrote this seemingly
comment in an email he sent on Thursday:
You forgot to mention that this expert report was not only not disclosed in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary-- it was mischaracterized.
The Amerithrax Investigative Summary was claimed to have been INCONCLUSIVE when it in fact was NEGATIVE. The reason you seem not to know the difference is your continued failure to read the literature on the subject of the Amerithrax forensics.
USPIS report was "not disclosed" but it was "mischaracterized"?
Amerithrax Summary was claimed to be "inconclusive" but was in fact
There's no point in asking "DXer" to explain what he means, since he
seems incapable of explaining anything. The word "inconclusive"
doesn't appear anywhere within the Amerithrax Summary.
Anthrax Truthers appear to have some bizarre misconception that the Amerithrax
Investigation Summary was supposed to be a summary of all the
arguments that Anthrax Truthers have started over the years, plus a
summary of all the investigative avenues which led nowhere. They
seem to feel that because it was simply a summary of the Department of
Justice's legal case against Dr. Bruce Ivins,
that is unfair.
I disagree with the FBI on how Ivins' managed to write the letters so
the handwriting could not be traced back to him, but that disagreement
doesn't alter the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that Ivins
was the anthrax killer. The FBI/DOJ's evidence is summarized in
the Amerithrax Investigative Summary. Mine is summarized in my
All the Anthrax Truthers' various arguments in support of their own
various theories can all be summarized into one sentence: "I
what the facts say, I'm going to believe what I want to believe."
& Changes: Sunday, July 6, 2014, thru Saturday, July 12,
July 10, 2014 (B)
- Someone just sent me an interesting article from today's Washington Post titled "Scholarly
journal retracts 60 articles, smashes ‘peer review ring’."
The "scholarly journal" mentioned in that headline is the Journal of Vibration and Control.
In 2013, the editor of JVC,
Ali H. Nayfeh, became aware of people using “fabricated identities” to
manipulate an online system called SAGE Track by which scholars
review the work of other scholars prior to publication.
Attention focused on a
researcher named Peter Chen of the National Pingtung University of
Education (NPUE) in Taiwan and “possibly other authors at this
After a 14-month
investigation, JVC determined the ring involved “aliases” and fake
e-mail addresses of reviewers — up to 130 of them — in an apparently
successful effort to get friendly reviews of submissions and as many
articles published as possible by Chen and his friends. “On at least
one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of
the aliases he created,” according to the SAGE announcement.
The Post article also provides a link
where there's another article on the subject, and the matter is also
discussed by readers. Do the people at that site just watch for
retractions in scientific publications? In some ways, that's as
weird as the "peer review ring." Are there so many
scientific journal retractions that a web site can be devoted to the
subject? "Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific
process" seems to be their slogan.
July 10, 2014 (A) - Yesterday
afternoon, I found an envelope from the FBI in my mail box. It
response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request I submitted on
July 1, 2013. I'd totally forgotten about that FOIA
contained a DVD with copies of two documents, both of which I've now
put on my web site. The first (click HERE
to view it) is a single page 302 report documenting the transfer of
materials from the FBI to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's (USPIS)
lab in Dulles, Virginia. The second document (click HERE)
is a 22-page report which appears to be a summary of the handwriting
analyses done by USPIS handwriting expert Robert J. Muehlberger in
support of the Amerithrax case as of November 12, 2004. Here's
the first page of the report looks like (click on the image below to
view a larger version):
Three months ago, this
document was the subject of a
thread on Lew Weinstein's blog. I wrote about in my (A) comment for April 29, 2014.
Mostly the Truthers complained that the FBI report didn't include a
comparison of Islamic terrorists' handwriting. In my comment, I
wrote about what "DXer" on Lew's blog had to say about me, and how they
distorted the facts. I didn't make many comments about the FBI
document itself, since I didn't have a copy and they didn't provide a
link to their copy.
So, now I suppose I should comment on the USPIS/FBI document itself.
I didn't count the number of line entries on the list, but it must be
in the many hundreds. Probably over 98 percent of them show negative
findings. Below are a few line entries that show there were also
inconclusive ("inc.") findings and "Elim" findings, which I think means
that the document was
eliminated from the examination for some reason, NOT the writer
of the document. All but one of the "Elim" lines says "Lab
the Comments column. The exception (on page 14) has the comment
to Dulles." Presumably, that means the Hard Copy (original) was
being sent to the USPIS lab in Dulles for further analysis.
You will also note that page 10 shows the USPIS findings for Bruce
Ivins' handwriting. The findings were "Neg", i.e., the
handwriting on the anthrax documents
match Bruce Ivins' handwriting.
The only lines on the
where the subject's name is not redacted are the three lines pertaining
to Dr. Ivins' handwriting. So, Mr. Muehlberger determined
Ivins' handwriting did not
match the handwriting on the anthrax documents.
That's no surprise to me, of course, since I've been saying for over a
decade that the evidence says the anthrax
killer used a child to write the anthrax documents.
The FBI's position, as I figure it, is that the USPIS report only says
the handwriting on the anthrax documents is not a match to Ivins' normal
handwriting. It doesn't mean Ivins couldn't have disguised
his handwriting the way he evidently disguised his handwriting when
sending mysterious letters and packages to his female co-workers.
The Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer" claims
this report is "exculpatory
of Dr. Ivins." Of course, it is no such thing. It's no
different from the fact that Ivins didn't leave his fingerprints all
over the anthrax letters and envelopes. Ivins would have to have
been a fool to use his own handwriting on such letters - or to leave
fingerprints - or to lick the envelope flap and leave his DNA. If
such evidence isn't found, it is NOT "exculpatory" in any way.
All the USPIS report shows is that
their handwriting expert did a very
large number of handwriting comparisons, and
he evidently wasn't able to find a match to the anthrax documents on any of the
documents he checked. (Presumably, the "Inc." items were
eventually resolved by other types of investigations.)
The report changes nothing. But it's kind of interesting,
anyway. And it pointed out to me that I hadn't archived a copy of
the Lew Weinstein blog thread about it, nor, of course, had I archived
all the silly rants about me
in that thread. Thanks FBI.
After he read the comment above, "DXer" sent me an email which said in
You forgot to mention that this expert report was not only not disclosed in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary-- it was mischaracterized.
I can't make much sense of
that. I think he's saying that the fact that Ivins' handwriting
didn't match the handwriting on the anthrax letters should have been
mentioned in the Amerithrax
Investigative Summary. Why
should it have been? The
Summary was a summary of the case against
Ivins. The handwriting report is neither evidence against nor exculpatory evidence for
Ivins. Plus, the Summary says on pages 89 and 90:
The Amerithrax Investigative Summary was claimed to have been INCONCLUSIVE when it in fact was NEGATIVE. The reason you seem not to know the difference is your continued failure to read the literature on the subject of the Amerithrax forensics.
In addition, a witness who
had received a number of packages and cards over the course of several
years in the late 1990s and early 2000s was shown copies of the letters
and envelopes used in the anthrax attacks. The witness thought
that the handwriting on the envelope addressed to Senator Daschle
reminded the witness of Dr. Ivins’s writing. If the witness were
to receive a package with that writing on it, the witness would think
of Dr. Ivins. The witness noted that, in particular, the style of the
block letters with alternating heights stood out, as did the slant of
the writing. The
witness said that this was the type of writing Dr. Ivins used when he
disguised his handwriting as part of a joke. ... Another witness familiar with
the handwriting of Dr. Ivins in many contexts said the same thing.
If Mr. Muehlberger
had been asked to determine if the handwriting on the anthrax documents might be
handwriting of the person who wrote each one of the handwriting
samples, I suspect that the "FINDING" column on the report would have
98% "Inc." (inconclusive) instead to 98% "neg."
July 9, 2014 (B)
- Someone just brought to my attention an on-line article from Channel
11 in Atlanta, titled: "CDC
to create anthrax research database in Atlanta."
The CDC says it wants to
develop the capacity to genotype B. anthracis at CDC. It hopes to
determine and analyze the genomic sequence of up to 500 different
"The establishment of a
public database is essential in order to get data from around the
world, particularly countries that have difficulty sharing strains, and
is needed to make rapid/effective strain comparisons," the CDC says.
guess they don't want to have to rely on Paul Keim and the Northern
Arizona University (NAU) to do strain typing. On the other hand,
the CDC is looking for a "contractor" to handle the project for them,
so maybe they're looking to hire
July 9, 2014 (A)
reading my "plans"for today in
I'm sure everyone is just dying
to know what I did this morning. I didn't do anything I planned.
During breakfast, I returned to reading "The
Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics." Then, after breakfast, I
decided to look at my archive of "Discussions
the Anthrax Truthers Don't
Want You To See." I was a little bit surprised to find
that Lew Weinstein didn't just delete (at the urging of "DXer") all my
comments from his blog, but there are some other complete threads that seem to be
For example, I archived a thread started on July 24, 2011, that had
But if you click on that link today, you'll get: "ERROR 404 - Not
After doing a
Google search of mentions of "Laurie Garrett" on Mr.
Weinstein's blog, however, I discovered that the thread now has a
different URL address. It can now be found at this link (the date
in the URL is now July 27, instead of July 24):
The thread begins with a very
long list of things (I lost count at 60) which, according to "DXer,"
Laurie Garrett failed to mention in her
book. A couple examples:
She does not address the weaponized
anthrax that Dr. Ivins says he had heard had been shipped to Ft.
Detrick and then went missing.
I don’t see that she anywhere addresses
that USAMRIID’s John Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert, prior to 9/11,
made a dried aerosol using Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins and sent to
Johns-Hopkins Applied Physics. She never addresses whether those spores
show a silicon signature.
The first posted comment in the original
thread was, of course, also by "DXer."
It's dated July 27, and it was about
The New York Times today relies on
Edward Lake today as
the best authority authority [sic] it can find on position that Al
Qaeda not being responsible or capable of being responsible–even though
Ed has never addressed the documentary cited above or addressed the
merits of the argument!
There were only 7 comments in the thread when I archived it, and none
were written by me (since this was after
I was banned from posting to their blog). There are 21 comments
current version (one was added
this morning, probably after "DXer" read an earlier version of this
At first, I thought the Truthers might have deleted the entire thread
just because of the
New York Times comment. Then I thought they maybe came to their senses and
realized the list of complaints reads like something a ranting lunatic
might have written.
But, I was wrong on both counts. It appears something may have been deleted or
changed in the text at the top of the thread,
but in doing so they (probably unknowingly) changed the date in the
URL - which causes people who linked to the original
URL to get the error message. (The 7 messages in the original
version seem unchanged in the current version.) It was
an interesting morning as I figuring this out.
July 8, 2014 -
This is totally off topic, but maybe someone will find it interesting.
While peddling a stationary bicycle at the health club this afternoon,
I finished reading "One
For The Money," the first novel in the Stephanie Plum
series written by Janet Evanovich.
It's undoubtedly the funniest
book I've read in years. A real joy to read.
I became curious about the series when I noticed that the 21st and
latest book in the series, "Top
Secret Twenty-One" was briefly on the best seller list. I
read and liked the preview of the first few pages, so I put the ebook
version "on hold" at my library. (I'm currently #451 out of 619
on the waiting list. They have 7 copies.) Then, Sunday
afternoon on impulse, I decided to check a local store that sells used books. I bought
paperback copies of "One For the Money," "Three
To Get Deadly" and "Seven
Up" for 89 cents each. (Jeeze! New
paperback novels cost $7.99 each!! The last time I paid
retail price for a paperback novel, they probably cost about
$1.25. Maybe less.)
I had been reading "The
Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics" on my Kindle during breakfast
and lunch, and I'm about 25% done (having highlighted maybe a hundred
passages). But, it's heavy going, and I wanted to read something
lighter as it became more and more clear that my own novel is in major
need of some heavy re-thinking. I need to add some more
characters at the beginning of the book, and I need to make the
characters I already have a lot more interesting. Plus, I need to
re-think the ending. Maybe reading some fast-paced novels will
help with that by showing me how other writers do things. That's
the plan, anyway. Meanwhile, I'm #1 on the waiting list for "From
Eternity To Here," which looks really interesting -- far more so
than the Quantum Mechanics book. I'll find out tomorrow
which book I actually read next. My mood will tell me. It
will probably be "Three to Get Deadly."
July 7, 2014 -
There was another email from "DXer" in my inbox this morning. He
had evidently read my (C) comment from yesterday. The subject of
the email was:
I don't doubt it was my idea to delete your posts -it's just that he
could be more thorough
I interpret that to mean that it was "DXer" who asked Lew Weinstein to
delete all my posts from Lew's blog.
And, Mr. Weinstein agreed.
Now it appears "DXer" regrets that he didn't also
ask Mr. Weinstein to delete the threads or the text in the thread
where my name is mentioned. (Yesterday, in my (A) comment, I
listed and provided links to seven of those threads.)
"DXer" wrote this in the body of his email, first quoting me from
yesterday's (C) comment:
"I take that to mean it was Mr.
Weinstein's idea to delete all of my posts."
and then adding his own comment:
You, as they say, have a right to be
Ah! So, "DXer" wants to pretend I was never allowed to post to
Mr. Weinstein's blog. He's once again acting like an obnoxious
12-year-old. He doesn't say when
he asked Mr. Weinstein to do those deletions. Nor does he say why. But, it was most likely
done out of pure spite. And it probably happened after I banned
him from my interactive
blog because he repeatedly attempted to post vile and disgusting
personal attacks. His actions
pose another question: What about the hundreds of comments by
on Lew's site where people simply mention my name in their posts?
If they want me to be "forgotten," shouldn't those messages be deleted,
too? And maybe they should put a message at the top of
blog saying that people are forbidden
to use my name. Of course,
they can't mention my name in that warning. That's a
art FORBIDDEN to write the name of the accursed one!
I don't recall exactly why I started taking my own backups of
interesting threads on Mr. Weinstein's blog. I think it was
because I wanted copies of their bizarre arguments in case they ever
decided to delete them and then claim they never wrote such an absurd
thing. Looking at the index for my archive, it says the folder
contains 317 items from 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. But that
includes some images and multiple copies of some posts (possibly
different pages of the same
thread). I was banned from Mr. Weinstein's site on March 13, 2011. Mr.
Weinstein's explanation was:
I find that I not only
disagree with much of what you say, but also
that your unremitting and often illogical support of the FBI's unproven
assertions is a distraction to continued serious study and analysis of
those facts which the FBI has grudgingly released.
Maybe I should rename my archive folder:
Discussions the Anthrax Truthers Don't
Want You To See
I find it highly amusing that Anthrax Truthers blatantly do exactly
what they accuse the U.S. Goverment of doing: Hiding embarrassing
material detrimental to themselves.
July 6, 2014 (C)
- "DXer" evidently just read my (A) comment for this morning, since he
sent me an email which says in part:
suspect Lew was just using your sign-in as the means of deletion. I am
sure he would also be glad to delete these threads if you want (given
that they now do not present your side that a First Grader wrote the
I take that to mean it
was Mr. Weinstein's idea to delete all of my posts. Why anyone
think that I'd also want all the threads
that mention my name to be
deleted is unfathomable.
I just used them in my (A) and (B) comments to point out the type of
the Anthrax Truthers do not want people to see.
July 6, 2014 (B) - Hmm. I
apparently did have some intelligent discussions on Lew Weinstein's
blog. For example, in a thread titled "55
flasks of anthrax prep ... now where can I hide these?" I had a
fairly long, fascinating discussion with "BugMaster." The thread
now shows only 72 posts, with "BugMaster" talking to herself in post
after post. My archived copy of that thread shows 109 posts, with
"BugMaster" and I discussing interesting topics for nearly a week, from
Aug. 3, 2009 through Aug. 9, 2009. Since the Anthrax Truthers now
apparently consider that discussion to be forbidden viewing, it's no longer
available to people on the Internet. What a shame.
July 6, 2014 (A) - On Thursday, I was arguing with a
conspiracy theorist on my
interactive blog when the conspiracy theorist wrote
a comment that included this:
maybe it's the posting
that got [Ed Lake] into persona-non-grata status at Lew Weinstein's
My "posting style" had
do with me getting banned from Lew Weinstein's blog. It was 100%
the result of me presenting facts that they did not want to discuss.
If you disagree, look
posts to Lew's site.
After writing that response, I decided to do a
Google search for "Ed Lake" on Lew Weinstein's blog to check the
kind of things I wrote there. I wanted to show how I would
discuss things rationally and logically, and the conspiracy theorists
present their arguments as if they were indisputable. The Google
found 344 mentions of my name. But none
seemed to be comments I wrote on that blog. Checking the links, I
was surprised to discover that all
my posts to Lew Weinstein's blog have been deleted.
There are still a bunch of threads where my name was mentioned in the
titles of the threads and in
the texts written (presumably) by Lew Weinstein:
But none of these threads currently contain any posted comments from
instance where Mr. Weinstein
included copies of posts from
a debate between "DXer" and I in the
text Mr. Weinstein wrote to start a
thread. He called it "a fascinating interchange between Ed Lake
and DXer." Click the last link above to view that
thread. Here are a few of the comments as presented by Mr.
Ed writes: We don’t
that the photocopier examined by the FBI was the same photocopier that
was there in September and October of 2010.” DXer responds: The way one would test
the photocopy toner is to compare the documents copied during the Fall
2001 to the anthrax letters. Ed, have you read the literature
relating to photocopy toner examination?
Ed writes: We don’t
that cleaning or replacing parts of the photocopier couldn’t have made
the photocopier different from the way it was September and October of
2001.” DXer responds: Ed
apparently has not read the literature.
Ed writes: Ivins could have
some other photocopier. The one at AMI wasn’t the only photocopier in
the entire world, nor the only photocopier within a hundred miles.
Therefore, Ivins could have used another photocopier.” DXer responds: Ah, yes, the
acknowledgement that there is no evidence he used the photocopier —
instead just the unsupported assertion he did. See also
lyophilizer and a dozen other issues where the same approach is used.
Ed writes: “The fact
couldn’t be proven that Ivins used the photocopier at Ft. Detrick
proves absolutely nothing in the Ivins case.” DXer responds: Ah, but it does.
You agreed we would consider the evidence against Dr. Ivins and
on the photocopy issue, you agree that there is none to support the
claim he is photocopied the letters.
If you look through the thread for actual posts from me, you'll see
only the other sides of the
was in. My comments have all
would they delete all of my comments from Lew Weinstein's
blog? Was it out of some kind
of petty spite? Were
they concerned that I had posted good arguments, and all they had
nonsense? Is it some kind of "payback" because "DXer" is no
longer allowed to post to my blog after he resorted to posting vile
and disgusting personal attacks that I deleted from the blog?
I don't see any explanation for their actions anywhere. I don't
know when they did it. I didn't even know
they'd done it until I did
search on Friday. To confirm that they had actually deleted all
my posts, I
checked my archives.
archive of threads from Lew Weinstein's
blog isn't even in my computer anymore. It's on the portable
trillion-byte hard-drive I only use for backups.) Checking the
found I'd saved that last thread on Feb. 13, 2011.
Looking at my copy, I see it has some VERY interesting
posts. As usual, it's me presenting evidence and them
saying they don't believe it, while also attacking me personally.
The most interesting exchange was between me and the conspiracy
theorist who was posting to MY blog last week and thereby brought the
issue to my attention.
While my responses on Lew's blog have been deleted, the conspiracy
are still there. Click HERE
to view them. In one post, the conspiracy theorist made nine
"points" in a
critique of my hypothesis that a child was used to write the anthrax
documents. I responded to each one of them. For purposes of
illustration, here are just the first four "points" he made, along with
responses in italics (notice that all of his "points" are statements of
beliefs, not topics or points for
1) in keeping with the
recipe of ‘Brother Jonathan’, you incorrectly use the term ‘uncial’. A
trifle but the first tipoff that actual ‘facts’ play little role in
meaningless comment without further explanation of what you mean. And
it neither proves nor disproves anything.
2) the hypothesis PRESUPPOSES
uniformity of instruction throughout the United States at the first
grade level that simply does not exist. (That included the assertion
that ‘school begins in September’ (in my state it begins in August).
It just uses general information about what happens in kindergarten and
3) the ‘distinction’ between
‘public school’ rendering of a capital R and a Catholic school
rendering of a capital R doesn’t jibe with my experience (all 8 years
of grammar school in a Catholic school) and seems to be based
EXCLUSIVELY on Mister Lake comparing notes with his brother-in-law.
Hardly a representative sample.
of a LOT of research. I just used my brother in law as an example. I
could use the USAMRIID scientist the FBI interviewed as another
example. So, your experience is irrelevant.
4) Your points 3) and 4)
to write smaller” and “Learning when to capitalize and when not to
capitalize” posit an ABSURD rate of learning by a 6 or 7 year old; no
child is going to ‘improve’ or internalize those things in 3 lousy
weeks! (which would be, at most 15 class days).
opinion. I reality, in kindergarten they use unlined paper. In first
grade, they use lined paper. Children learn to write smaller very
quickly. They already have the ability, they just weren’t asked
to do it. So, there really isn’t very much learning that needs to take
Since conspiracy theorists can
they cannot discuss,
the conspiracy theorist did not come back with further explanations to
clarify his points. He just argued another
and different point later in the day. My response, of course,
has been deleted. Here's a summary of that exchange, again with
my comments in italics:
Said another (high falutin’)
the pragmatics of the social situation make using a child a high-risk
stratagem. And an unnecessary one: short term one can fake certain
elements of one’s printing/handwriting.
We have a
different point of view about how to look at evidence. From my point of
view, the FACTS say that a child wrote the letters. From your point of
view, that’s not the way an intelligent adult would PLAN things.
about what the facts say in an actual crime.
You’re talking about the planning of a theoretical crime.
say that a child wrote the letters, the questions become: How
did Ivins manage to keep the kid quiet? Why did Ivins do things
I don’t believe it because that’s not the way I would do
things, nor is it the way I would expect anyone else to do things. That
is ignoring what the facts say and going with your beliefs, instead.
And that was the end of
it. There was NO discussion,
of course. It was just a conspiracy theorist presenting his argument,
me responding in hopes of having a discussion
so the issue could be mutually resolved,
and the conspiracy theorist simply ignoring my response. Instead
discussing my excellently
phrased response, the conspiracy theorist
merely ended the
exchange. He presumably continued to believe what he wanted to
nothing I said or wrote made any difference whatsoever.
The examples above are only a small part of a great number of
interesting things written in that thread and in other threads.
But, now the threads
only show one side of the arguments - the side of the conspiracy
theorists. And I'm probably the only person who has both
sides of the arguments, since conspiracy theorists are clearly not
in both sides of any
This appears to mean that when they can't discuss evidence or win an
argument, they'll just try changing
history so they can pretend no one ever
disputed what they believe.
That would be hilarious -- if it weren't so childish and creepy.
& Changes: Sunday, June 29, 2014, thru Saturday, July 5,
July 5, 2014 - As a result of my
comment on Thursday, the subject of "computer analyzed handwriting" is
coming up in my emails and in posts on other blogs. I'm not sure
exactly what people are driving at, but they seem to think that a computer
should be able to do a better job of analyzing handwriting than a
human. I find such reasoning to be unfathomable. It's
probably because I was a programmer and a computer systems analyst for
much of my life, and much of that part of my life was one long argument
with non-progammers about what a computer can and cannot do.
When it comes to analyzing handwriting or anything
else, a computer can only give "yes" and "no" answers.
That is because a HUMAN programmer can only program the computer to
give "yes" or "no" answers. A computer works with "bits" of
information, and a "bit" in a computer can only be "on" or "off." A
"Maybe" answer is just a programmed way of saying "NO, a complete
answer cannot be provided."
The problem is that humans are not computers, and therefore they cannot
do things exactly the same way over and over. Humans generally cannot even sign their
name exactly the same way twice.
Here's an example of a signature written twice and then overlaying one
signature with the other:
human would look at the signatures and say, "Yes, they were most likely
written by the same person."
A computer would only see that the signatures
do not match. There are numerous
differences. If you want a computer to determine that the
signatures (and countless other variations) MIGHT BE a match, then some
programmer has to program the
computer to make that determination using only YES-NO
reasoning. How exactly would a computer programmer do
that? It's not "impossible," but it would certainly be
I didn't deliberately make the signatures different. I just wrote
them naturally. If I had
deliberately tried to make the second signature identical to the first,
a computer might then determine that the signatures are identical, but a human forensic
handwriting expert would say that the second signature is "most likely"
since the human expert would see that it was not the writer's natural
way of writing and the writing is too
This is all basic to me, since I was a programmer for many years.
But, maybe it's "new" to some readers of this blog. I hope
ADDED NOTE: Probably in
response to my post above, "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog just posted
and HERE) some links to articles which explain what "experts"
are trying to do to get computers to analyze handwriting. One
such document from 2003 HERE
uses envelopes from the anthrax case as examples (on page 4), but
evidently nothing of value was learned about the writing on the anthrax
documents. The key to understanding the article seems to be in
this passage from page 8:
computer methods in forensic document examination is still at an early
stage. The research reviewed is only concerned with techniques
and tools for the comparison of writing samples to identify authorship.
is considerable further research required to provide detailed
scientific evidence of the nature of handwriting individuality.
research is also needed to
provide scientific evidence and tools to identify disguised
writing,forged handwriting and well as altered or modified writing.
In other words, it's all still
research, and after decades of such research, computers still
can't even approach what a human can do in forensic handwriting
analysis. But, because computers can do things far faster than humans, it seems likely
that some day computers will be able to read envelopes going through a
post office machine and spot envelopes which have very similar
handwriting as some document provided as input. A human can then
look at the envelopes to verify the match.
A different kind of article HERE
from 2002 says the same thing using different words:
is the first time this workshop is turning its attention to the
computer processing of handwriting not just for recognition, to read
what has been written, but also for analysis, to determine who wrote
it," said Srihari.
law enforcement in general that work still is being done by human
analysts, but we now are beginning to use computers to do it. Teams
at CEDAR and at other institutions that will be represented at the
workshop are beginning to prove that automated analysis techniques can
be quite successful."
There's no doubt that computers can do many important tasks faster than humans. That
means computers could someday soon be a great help in searching through
envelopes for a match to some handwriting sample. But identifying
"disguised writing, forged handwriting and ... altered or modified
writing" is still just a research project in progress. And it probably
will remain so for many years to come.
document from the Handwriting Institute gives a good indication on
how far computers have come over the years:
The HWAI [Hand Written Address
Interpretation] software currently recognizes ZIP codes correctly in
roughly 70 percent of handwritten addresses and has achieved full
address recognition in 30 percent.
In human terms, computers are reading handwriting at about 2nd Grade
level. Passing a college examination on forensic
handwriting analysis is still decades away.
July 3, 2014 - Hmm. This
morning, in a
post to Lew Weinstein's blog, Anthrax Truther "DXer" mentioned a
scientific magazine article titled "Automatic
handwriting recognition and writer matching on anthrax-related
handwritten mail." The article appears to have been printed
in Handwriting Recognition, 2002. Proceedings. Eighth International
Workshop." Here's the Abstract for the article:
A handwriting recognition
technique and a handwriting identification technique were combined and
applied on anthrax-related handwritten mail. The HWAI (handwritten address
interpretation) system interprets the address on the anthrax-related
letters. The HWAI process can be modified to provide specific
alphabet images which can then be used
for writer identification. Micro-level feature values from
segmented characters were extracted and an identification test was
conducted. Preliminary results based on automatic handwriting
recognition and identification are shown.
Evidently, "DXer" also
found an opening paragraph somewhere:
1. Introduction This paper
reports on an analysis of the writings in recent anthrax-related
mailings using combination of HWAI (Handwritten Address Interpretation)
system and Forensic Document Examination system. Scientists at CEDAR have been
conducting research on computer interpretation of postal images for
nearly two decades. Also, research on software for forensic
analysis of handwriting has been conducted for over two years . The
recent threat of anthrax mailings have called for combining techniques
from the two areas for forensic purposes.
The article costs
$19. I don't see how anything about computerized reading of addresses
on the anthrax envelopes would be worth $19 to me, but I'm very curious
about what the article might possibly have said. "DXer" seems to be trying to get the
document for free via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, but
it's very difficult to figure out what he's driving at when he just
posts quotes and cryptic comments without explaining his
purpose. He also found
a pdf presentation by Sargur
N. Srihari, one of the authors of the article. Click HERE.
It's undated and only mentions anthrax once, on page 20, where it
merely shows the four anthrax envelopes and this text:
Anthrax Letters written by the same person?
Do they match writership
of known writing?
I think the "state of the art" in computerized handwriting analysis is
still in the stage of trying to be able to READ human handwriting
accurately. I seriously doubt a computer could produce anything
worthwhile in the area of handwriting forensics that a human couldn't
do much much better. But, if anyone has the article and is
willing to share - or knows
where I can get it for free, please let me know.
July 2, 2014 - Each morning, after
checking to see if there's any news related to the anthrax attacks of
2001, I check to see if there is any news related to Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH370. This morning, someone on
Duncan Steel's blog pointed to an
Australian Broadcasting System TV report from May 20 about the
flight. It's by far the best report on the subject that I've seen
to date. It contains a lot of interesting details, although some
of it is just personal opinions. There are also a lot of
arguments from the reporter that, in a time of total confusion,
everyone should have done things perfectly. But, the media seems
to believe its job is to point out everyone's mistakes. Setting
aside all the talk about who failed to do what quickly enough, the
report is well worth watching.
July 1, 2014 - One of the conspiracy
theorists who posts to my
interactive blog made some rather bizarre comments this
morning. He argued:
I don't 'argue'. I discuss. YOU argue .... No arguing whatsoever. That's your
bailiwick ....As nearly as
I can determine, for you to live is to......argue (!!!). For me that's
Clearly, he doesn't
understand the difference between discussing a subject and arguing
about a subject. Rather than just explain the difference to him,
I looked up the topic and presented this quote (from HERE):
A discussion is an
orderly confrontation based on a mutual willingness to learn from one
another. It involves the presentation of evidence by each party and
then a good-faith attempt of the participants in the discussion to come
Discussion presupposes some degree of rational
disagreement between us or at least a lack of consensus. If I agreed
with you already, we would have nothing to discuss. In a discussion, I
do not primarily want to disagree: I want to know the truth. If I do
not think that what you say is true, then I disagree, stating my
reasons as clearly as possible and without animosity. The same is true
for you: you present me with your reasons. By sharing our ideas freely,
we hope to arrive at a deeper truth. In a discussion, disagreement is
for the sake of agreement.
An argument (emotional, not rational) is a disorderly
confrontation based on an unwillingness to learn from one another.
Desire for victory takes precedence over love of truth, with the result
that agreement becomes impossible.
Although they may have rational grounds for disagreement
in the first place, all arguments include an element of bad faith — we
are not, with all honesty, pursuing the truth together. Rather, in an
argument I simply want my position to be the right one and you to agree
with me. I am, indeed, looking for agreement, but on my terms, not in
terms of objective truth. Instead of my following reason and leaving
passion aside, passion is primary, and reason (if it has a role) works
in the service of passion. Quite often, in order to end an argument, we
agree to disagree.
And another quote (from HERE):
When you argue over
something, it does not naturally follow that you will arrive at a
satisfactory conclusion. When you discuss a particular topic, you will
arrive at a conclusion. This is the major difference between
discussing and arguing.
To open a DISCUSSION on who is
"arguing" and who is "discussing," I pointed out that he refuses to discuss
the evidence against Bruce Ivins because he argues
that it is not
evidence. And any attempt by me to discuss what constitutes evidence
according to his standards just ends up with him arguing that what he believes is "evidence" is what
constitutes "evidence" and
refusing to discuss the subject any further.
Furthermore, he refuses to discuss the evidence he has against the
person he believes is the anthrax mailer, because -- he evidently
considers me too closed-minded to accept it. So, there can be no
discussion of his evidence, because he won't present it. And he
won't discuss the evidence against Dr. Ivins because he doesn't
consider it to be "evidence."
In short, he cannot discuss anything. All he can do is argue.
I don't like arguing. I often refuse to argue with people who
only want to argue their opinion against other opinions. Opinion
versus opinion arguments are pointless. They never accomplish
anything. On the other hand, I LOVE discussing subjects of interest to
me. And the evidence in the case against Bruce Ivins is of much
interest to me.
For example, I'd like to discuss the highlighted T's in the media
letter. A different Anthrax Truther argues that the
T in NEXT is not highlighted. Below are all the T's in the
media letter. When I try to discuss which ones are
highlighted and which ones are not, the Anthrax Truther just argues
that my observations are meaningless because I'm not a certified
forensic handwriting expert. Only his beliefs and opinions are of
any value (to him). It's an argument that leaves no room for
Clearly, some above T's
are highlighted more noticeably than others. There's no dispute
that T's 1, 3, 5 and 8 are "highlighted" (i.e., the horizontal crossbar
is traced over).
What about T #7? The Truthers seem to accept that it is also traced over.
Everyone seems to
fully agree that T's #4 and 6 are not
That leaves only T #2 (the T in NEXT) in question. Obviously, the
cross-bar is darker than the not
on numbers 4 and 6. It is
definitely darker. It could
be highlighted. If asked if #2 looks more like #7 than #4, the
answer should be "yes." It looks more like it's highlighted than
An Anthrax Truther can (and would) then argue
that he's still going to believe what he wants to believe. But,
should end with an agreement
that it's more likely that T #2 is highlighted than not.
An Anthax Truther can
then (and would) argue that only absolute
certainty is acceptable to him. But, just means nothing is
evidence unless he considers it "acceptable" as evidence, and that
leaves no room for discussion.
June 30, 2014 - In another example
of the Lunatic Fringe finding interesting articles about the anthrax
attacks of 2001 that I might otherwise have missed, this morning "DXer"
provided a link to a relatively reasonable blogger article, dated
yesterday, titled "The
Aflac Duck Wasn't Quacking Anthrax!" The article says this
about the Steven Hatfill "case":
Hatfill underwent a “trial
by media circus” during the FBI investigation. Hatfill was a
physician, virologist and bio-weapons expert. Dr. Barbara
Hatch Rosenberg accused Hatfill of the poisonings, stating to
journalists that Hatfill was the “most likely person.”
She included her suspicions in a report to the FBI. After she gave an
interview to the press, journalists pressured the FBI to do an
intensive inspection into Hatfill’s personal and professional life.
At one point the author
provides a link to a page on my
web site, so it's reasonable to assume
that he reads my site. That probably explains why he's so
The article says this about the case against Bruce Ivins:
ordered the FBI to release
hundreds of documents in the case and stated they were “confident”
Ivins was the culprit. “We regret that we will not have the
opportunity to present to a jury to determine whether the evidence
proves Ivins’ innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.”
insisted that Ivins was among only a “handful” of American scientists
who knew how to process the anthrax spores. It also claimed to have
found the flask in which the spores were originally held. Be that as it
may, Ivins cannot be identified as the anthrax killer; without a trial
or a plea, there cannot be a resolution to the case. I have to admit the FBI made some
compelling arguments. It gets a lot of (a)flack for its investigations
but it can’t be wrong all the time.
The author of the blog
appears to be an Englishman, so it's understandable that he doesn't
know that the FBI is the investigative arm of the Department of
Justice, which the blogger refers to as "The Federal Goverment" in the
The article ends with this:
Did the FBI collar the
right guy when it accused Ivins? Who knows? Who cares? The anthrax
scare is over.
Whenever I see an article
like this, I try to click on the links the author provides as
sources, to see if they contain anything else I may not have seen
before. In this article, there were a couple links to YouTube
videos that I hadn't seen before.
The first link (HERE)
is to part of a series of SIX videos where lawyer Barry Kissen is
interviewed by the web site "Guns And Butter."
Here's what "Guns And Butter" says about its radio programming:
"Guns & Butter"
investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and
politics. Maintaining a radical perspective in the aftermath of the
September 11th attacks, "Guns & Butter: The Economics of Politics"
reports on who wins and who loses when the economic resources of civil
society are diverted toward global corporatization, war, and the
furtherance of a national security state.
In his interview, Mr. Kissen rants like a mad-man as
he claims that the anthrax attacks were part of another government
conspiracy just like the JFK assassination, the RFK assassination, the
MLK assassination, etc., etc.
The second link (HERE)
leads to an unidentified author telling his theory. However, the
his book is mentioned ("9/11
Synthetic Terror"), so the author is almost certainly Webster
Griffin Tarpley. Tarpley's bio says "He is a 9/11 Truth Scholar
Tracking those two links also led to a maze of conspiracy
theory videos presented by Wackimedia3.
The videos seem to be mostly just lunatic rants by conspiracy theorists
who have no facts to support their theories, only an unshakable belief
that the American government is plotting against them - and everyone
June 29, 2014 - From time to time, I check what the
Anthrax Truthers are
doing, because they occasionally find interesting
documents which I haven't seen before. Last week, an
Anthrax Truther mentioned a text book for intelligence analysts (it costs $56.47) titled "Cases
in Intelligence Analysis; Structured Analytic Techniques in Action."
According to Amazon, this is the 2nd edition of the book, and it has
yet been released for sale. However, I was able to read the
section about the anthrax attacks of 2001. It is on pages 21 - 41
of the book. To my surprise, that section doesn't mention Bruce
- except as a scientist who analyzed some of the attack spores for the
section about the anthrax attacks is generally about the "case" against
previous (2011) edition of the book, I found it doesn't mention the
anthrax attacks at all.
So, the section about the Amerithrax
investigation was newly added.
Mulling this over, I think the fact that Ivins is only mentioned as an
provided the FBI with statistics might be an important part of the
student is supposed to figure things out based upon the information
provided in the book.
Page 21 begins the section titled "The Anthrax Killer" and poses 3 "Key
Who was the main person of
interest in the case, and why?
What is the evidence in the case?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the government's case?
Next, the authors describe the opening of the Daschle letter in
office. Then they go back through details about how the anthrax
unfolded with cases of cutaneous and inhalation anthrax showing up in
Florida, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Connecticut.
The book seems to deliberately scramble the sequence of events in order
project for students to unscramble.
The book mentions the FBI's "Liguistic/Behavioral
Analysis of the Anthrax Letters" released on November 1,
2001. It includes a section I probably haven't read since then:
Based on the selection of
as the “weapon” of choice by this individual, the offender:
is a non-confrontational person, at
in his public life. He lacks the personal skills necessary to confront
others. He chooses to confront
his problems “long distance” and not face-to-face. He may hold grudges for a long time,
vowing that he will get even with “them” one day. There are probably
other, earlier examples of this type of behavior. While these earlier
incidents were not actual Anthrax mailings, he may have chosen to anonymously
harass other individuals or entities that he perceived as having
wronged him. He may also have chosen to utilize the mail on those
prefers being by himself more often
not. If he is involved in a
personal relationship it will likely be of a self serving nature.
That part of the
"behavioral analysis" seems to be
a total mismatch with Dr.
Hatfill. But, looking
back on Bruce Ivins'
obsessions with his female co-workers and his obsession over being
"wronged" by the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, the behavioral analysis now seems
very much "on-target." (The "linguistic analysis" merely
concludes that the letters and envelopes were all written by the same
Annoyingly, the book glosses over all the efforts by conspiracy
theorists to point
the finger at Dr. Hatfill and, instead, makes it look like Hatfill
suspect purely as a result of the investigation by the FBI. That
is almost certainly untrue.
There was no meaningful evidence in the investigation that
pointed to Dr. Hatfill. It was only
the finger-pointing by conspiracy theorists that made Dr. Hatfill a
To be fair, the book does mention Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and Don
Foster in a long footnote on page 41, but the time-line is as jumbled
on the Hatfill "investigation" as it was on the way the anthrax
infection cases came to light. It's apparently the task of the
student to unscramble the Hatfill sequence of events, too.
book - specifically the section about the anthrax attacks of 2001 - is NOT about trying to
determine who committed the
anthrax murders, it's about general
techniques for sifting through and
analyzing evidence. The authors apparently used the so-called
"evidence" against Dr. Hatfill as a way
illustrate how evidence can sometimes be misleading.
The section where the details of the anthrax investigation are
described ends on page 34 with a quote from Dr. Hatfill:
especially object to having my character assassinated by reference to
events in my past. ... I know nothing about this matter [the
by a comment from the authors:
had reason to think differently. In
their eyes, Hatfill's
background, travel, scientific capabilities, and access most certainly
made him a person of interest, if not yet a prime suspect in the
The above quotes are followed by a "RECOMMENDED
note which suggests the Amerithrax
Investigative Summary to be something worth reading. The Amerithrax Investigative Summary
first mentions Dr. Steven Hatfill in a
section titled "The Elimination of
Dr. Steven J. Hatfill as a Suspect" (on page 6) and then again
(starting on page 19) in a section about "The Investigation Prior to
the Scientific Conclusions in 2007." The Amerithrax Summary is
about how the evidence gradually, eventually and undeniably led to Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins as the
But, I digress. On page 35 of "Cases
in Intelligence Analysis,"
the authors write:
this case, Steven Hatfill was identified as the FBI's main person of interest. In
the following exercises, students put themselves in the shoes of FBI
analysts who must unravel how events in the case unfolded, present the
information to a senior policy maker in a succinct format, and analyze
the evidence prior to a decision on identifying
persons of interest.
And then the students are supposed to develop a chronology and a
events along with a map of where things happened. (A "chronology"
is a list of events in the
order in which they happened. A "time-line" is a
chart that looks at the same information like this (click on it for a
far as I
understanding the Hatfill
is absolutely critical to
understanding how Dr. Hatfill became a "person of interest" in the
case. And, if a student does a good job of developing a
time-line, he or she is going to see that FBI analysts and
find Hatfill to be a "main person of interest" and advise their
superiors of their findings. The opposite
from conspiracy theorists caused "senior policy makers" to push DOWN on
analysts and investigators to look harder at Dr. Hatfill and to make him a "person of interest."
Hopefully students taking this course in "Intelligence Analysis"
will learn the right lessons from it: that intelligence analysts can
get a lot of pressure to look at someone outsiders
consider to be "most likely" the culprit, and the citizens may provide
lot of very weak circumstantial evidence to support their
arguments. Yet, the analyst should be able to see that the
evidence also shows the
person could be
The fact that the authors recommend reading the Amerithrax Investigative Summary -
and also mention it in numerous footnotes - suggest it's
some kind of test to see which students actually discover that, while
Dr. Hatfill may have been a "person of interest," he was NOT the
person the FBI
eventually determined to be the anthrax killer.
On page 37 the authors instruct students to use a technique called "The
Premortem Analysis and Structured Self-critique." It says,
This process helps reduce the risk of
analytic failure by identifying and analyzing the features of a
potential failure before it occurs.
It seems the authors make the
students look at Dr. Hatfill as a potential
suspect while expecting them to dig a lot deeper into the case and do a
more thorough analysis which will show that Dr. Hatfill was not the
anthrax killer, in spite of what any "circumstantial evidence" might
indicate. And their recommendation to the "senior policy maker"
should be: Do NOT
identify Dr. Hatfill as a "person of interest"!!!!
For me, perhaps the most
of the book's section about the anthrax attacks is this chart of
"Common Analytic Pitfalls" from page 37:
If it is not part of "Satisficing," the above list of "pitfalls" should
|Being swayed by pressures from superiors
who are responding to public and higher level demands
Moreover, the first four items on the book's list of "pitfalls" read
like a description of how and why outsiders (conspiracy theorists, True
and many other people in the general public) got things so wrong about
the Amerithrax case:
Mindset:Conspiracy theorists endlessly ignore new data
inconsistent with their unshakable views.
Conspiracy theorists seem only able to see "information" which supports
their own unshakable views.
analogy: Conspiracy theorists endlessly point to past
government conspiracies as proof that there must
be a conspiracy behind this case, too.
imaging: People are endlessly arguing that they wouldn't have done things the
way the facts say they were done, so Bruce Ivins wouldn't have done
them that way, either.
(Like using a child to write the anthrax documents.)
at the Amerithrax Investigative
Summary again also reminded me that it
includes a list of unnamed potential suspects who one True Believer
still believes were (or could have been) involved in the attacks instead of Dr. Ivins. From
foreign-born scientist with particular expertise working with a
Bacillus anthracis simulant known as Bacillus subtilis, and against
whom there were allegations that s/he had connections with several
individuals affiliated with the al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam terrorist
* A microbiology student who allegedly had associations with al-Qaeda’s
* A foreign-born scientist who published certain microbiology articles
that were found at an al-Qaeda training facility in a foreign country.
* A foreign-born microbiologist in New Jersey who had allegedly made
certain anti-American statements, and who lived and worked in close
proximity to Princeton.
However, according to page 19 of the summary,
of these individuals was ultimately excluded as a suspect based on a
number of factors, including alibi, insufficient ability, and lack of
access to RMR-1029.
having an alibi or
having no ability to make the
spores or having no access to
flask RMR-1029 means absolutely nothing to a True Believer who has an
"Analytic mindset" which "Anchors" him to fantasies of finding
"evidence" which will support his beliefs.
BTW, yesterday during lunch, I finished reading "Brilliant
Mario Livio. It was a very interesting and enjoyable book.
I must have
highlighted hundreds of
last passage in the book that I
highlighted is on page 270 and might well describe how it will
eventually be fully accepted that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax
killer. It's a quote from physicist Max Planck:
scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and
making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually
die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
Most students reading "Cases in
Intelligence Analysis" will probably be
totally unaware that there are people who disagree with the FBI's
conclusion that Ivins was the killer. Someday, everyone may have totally forgotten
about the anthrax conspiracy theories. All people will remember
that the FBI determined that Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins was the anthrax
killer, but Ivins committed suicide before he could be brought to trial.