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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Tamir E. Rice Police-Involved Shooting Case

     On Saturday November 22, 2014, a 911 dispatcher in Cleveland, Ohio received a call from a person at the Cudell Recreation Center on the city's west side. According to the emergency caller, a boy on a swing set was scaring people by pulling a handgun out of waistband and pointing it at other people at the playground. The 911 caller added that the gun was probably a fake.

     Two Cleveland police officers responded to the call. When the officers arrived at the playground they saw what looked like a semi-automatic handgun lying on a bench. The boy in question, 12-year-old Tamir E. Rice, walked over to the bench, picked up the gun and stuck it into his waistband.

     The police officers pulled their weapons and ordered the boy to raise his hands. Instead of complying with the command, Tamir Rice reached for the gun. One of the officers fired two shots. A bullet pierced the boy's abdomen.

     Paramedics rushed Tamir Rice to MetroHealth Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The next day, he died.

     As it turned out, the pistol in the boy's possession was a pellet gun that did not have the orange safety tip attached to the muzzle to distinguish it from its real counterpart. The Airsoft replica gun fired plastic pellets.

     The two police officers, one a first-year rookie and the other a ten-year veteran, were placed on administrative leave. In advance of a full internal investigation, it appeared that the boy had not pointed the gun at the officers and had not threatened them verbally. Investigators gathered surveillance video footage and interviewed witnesses. The detectives who looked into the shooting determined that the rookie officer had fired the fatal shot.

     The results of the internal investigation were submitted to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office.

     The president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association told reporters that the officers had not been told that the gun was probably a replica.

     On October 11, 2015, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office released a pair of reports on the Tamir Rice shooting by retired FBI agent Kimberley Crawford and Denver Chief Deputy District Attorney Lamar Sims. The use of force experts commissioned by Cuyahoga County concluded that the rookie patrolman who shot Rice had exercised a reasonable use of force because the officer had reason to perceive Tamir Rice as a serious threat. The 911 dispatcher had described the boy as a man waving and pointing a gun.

     Member of the Rice family voiced their disapproval of the independent police-involved shooting report. A Cuyahoga County grand jury will determine if criminal charges against the officer are appropriate. In light of the independent police shooting report, an indictment in this case seems unlikely. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Disturbing Campus Sexual Assault Study

     On September 15, 2015, the Association of American Universities (AAU) published the results of their massive campus sexual offense survey of 150,000 students at 27 of the nation's top universities. The AAU findings were shocking. In the student bodies surveyed, between 20 to 28 percent of responding female undergraduates reported that during the past year they were victims of sexual offenses that included rape. Between 20 and 35 percent of the respondents said that sexual assault constituted a serious problem at their schools.

     Roughly half of the complaints involved the crime of rape. Other forms of sexual misconduct included sexual harassment and non-consensual sexual contact.

     The survey response rate fell between 18 and 53 percent, depending on the university.

     The published survey results came from the following 18 schools: Brown, Case Western Reserve, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Iowa State, Ohio State, University of Florida, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale.

     In addition to the above universities, nine other schools participated in the survey. The data from those studies will be published later.

     The crime of rape and other sexual offenses is especially intense on campuses due to the concentration of young men and women and the high use of alcohol and drugs. Making things worse is the fact that universities and collages are known for sweeping sex offense complaints under the rug in order to protect their enrollment numbers. Some schools, such as Columbia University, have been accused of fostering a culture of rape. Notwithstanding a federal law against college administrators not reporting campus sexual offenses, the problem persists. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

The David H. Petraeus Affair

     In June 2012, Jill Kelley, a married mother of three living in Tampa, Florida, received six or so anonymous emails that disturbed her enough to ask a FBI agent she knew to look into the matter. The sender of the messages wanted the 37-year-old to stay away from her man, David H. Petraeus, the Director of the CIA. Kelley and her husband Scott, a Lakeland, Florida cancer surgeon, were on friendly terms with Petraeus and his wife Holly. While Jill Kelley, a Lebanese-American who grew up in Philadelphia was known for her lavish parties and social events, she and her husband were in serious financial trouble with credit card debt and home foreclosure threats. She functioned as an unpaid liason to the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

     Kelley's FBI contact, a Tampa field agent and terrorism expert named Frederick Humphries, opened a cyberstalking case which led to the identification of 40-year-old Paula Broadwell as the email sender. Broadwell, a mother of three, was married to a Charlotte, North Carolina radiologist. In the context of the FBI agent's inquiry, this subject was no ordinary woman warning a perceived rival to lay off her man. Broadwell was a West Point graduate, Ph.D. candidate, and U.S. Army Reserve Officer who had met General Petraeus in the spring of 2006 when he spoke at Harvard University. In the course of writing a dissertation on the general, Broadwell remained in touch with him through a series of email interviews. In 2010, when General Petraeus replaced General Stanley McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan, Broadwell spent months in that country interviewing him for a book a professional writer named Vernon Loeb was writing for her.

     In August 2011, General Petraeus retired from the U.S. Army, and the following month, was sworn in as Director of the CIA. Two months after Petraeus took over as the head of the CIA, he began having an affair with Paula Broadwell.

     Broadwell's ghost-written biography, All In: The Education of General David H. Petraeus, came out in January 2012. The sexual relationship came to an end, by mutual agreement, in the summer of 2012, about the time Broadwell sent the angry emails to Jill Kelley.

     As the story goes, FBI Agent Frederick Humphries became so infatuated with Jill Kelley, his cyberstalking complainant, the 47-year-old investigator allegedly started sending her, via the Internet, bare-chested photographs of himself. There were reports that Humphries was taken off the case and replaced by a team of field agents who were in consultation with the local United States Attorney's Office. As the FBI agents combed through Broadwell's emails, they found information regarding the movements and activities of high-level military personnel, including Petraeus. The investigation suddenly evolved into something potentially more serious than a cyberstalking case.

     Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General already up to his neck in the fast-and-furious gun running scandal, learned of the Petraeus/Broadwell affair from FBI Director Robert Mueller in September 2012. When pressed to comment on the matter, President Obama said that he had not been told of the scandal and potential security breach until November 7, the day after he had been elected to his second term in office.

     On September 13, 2012, two days after the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya that led to the death of the ambassador and three others, CIA Director Petraeus told the American people that the attack had involved a flash-mob reaction to an anti-Muslim video. Following his resignation from the CIA on the day after Obama's reelection, Petraeus indicated that he no longer intended to testify on the Benghazi matter before members of Congress. A few days later, under pressure from Congress and a few media outlets, the former CIA Director said he would testify at the November 16, 2012 hearing.

     On November 13, 2012, the sex scandal, already disturbing and bizarre, became even more complex and shocking. The FBI announced that its cyberinvestigation of Broadwell had uncovered twenty to thirty thousand "inappropriate" Internet messages to Jill Kelley from Marine General John R. Allen, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan. A government spokesperson had described the emails as "flirtatious" while others have characterized the material as the equivalent of phone sex. (Further investigation revealed that both Petraeus and Allen had taken time from their busy schedules to write letters on behalf of Jill Kelley's twin sister. The letters were sent to the judge presiding over a child custody battle.)

     There were two general schools of thought on the Petraeus/Broadwell/Kelley scandal. Democrats in Washington and the mainstream media, were treating the debacle as merely an embarrassing sex scandal. John F. Kennedy played around with mob women, Ike had a squeeze, and President Bill Clinton deposited his DNA on an intern's dress. No big deal.

     Republicans, on the other hand, based on the timeline of events, and David Petraeus' statements regarding the video as the source of the Benghazi attacks, smelled a White House Benghazi conspiracy involving political blackmail and election politics.

     Regardless of one's politics, there were many aspects of the scandal that raised serious concerns. It seemed that once the FBI learned of the Petraeus/Broadwell affair, a clear breach of national security, the President should have been notified and the CIA Director immediately removed from office. That the Attorney General of the United States did not alert President Obama of this threat to national security didn't ring true. It was simply hard to believe that the nation's top law enforcement officer sat on this information for two months. If the President knew of the affair, why did he wait until after his reelection to inform the American people? The answer to that question was obvious.  

     Two days after the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, why did CIA Director Petraeus blame the murders on the video? He obviously knew better. Did his backing of the initial White House version of the attack have something to do with the President's knowledge of the Broadwell affair? It's not unreasonable to suspect that Petraeus was toeing the political line to save his job. Had Paula Broadwell not emailed a woman who had a friend in the FBI, David Petraeus might not have lost his job.

     To believe that the CIA Director's affair did not compromise national security seemed naive. Who was Paula Broadwell? What did Petraeus tell her? Did she coax sensitive information out of him? Toward the end of October 2012, at a speech Broadwell gave at the University of Denver, she suggested that the real reason behind the terrorist attack in Benghazi involved Libyan prisoners being held at the U.S. compound for interrogation. If Broadwell did not acquire this information from the news media, where did she get it?

     During a press conference on November 14, 2012, President Obama said there was no evidence that as a result of the Petraeus/Broadwell affair, classified information has been compromised. However, the FBI search of Broadwell's home computer revealed that it contained a substantial amount of classified data. The FBI discovery was significant enough to warrant further investigation into the affair. Broadwell was stripped of her military clearance.

    Washington Post columnist and Fox News Contributor Charles Krauthammer believed that CIA Director Petraeus' Benghazi analysis, at variance with what the director had heard from the station chief in Tripoli, was given in order to save his job. In other words, the White House blackmailed him into lying to the American people. Krauthammer, on November 14, 2012 wrote "[Petraeus] understood that his job, his reputation, his legacy, his whole celebrated life was in the hands of the administration, and he expected they would protect him by keeping [the affair] quiet." Under this theory, David Petraeus was just another casualty of Chicago-style politics employed by the Obama administration.

     On January 9, 2015, The New York Times reported that FBI officials and Department of Justice prosecutors recommended bringing charges against Petraeus for providing classified information to his former mistress.

     On April 23, 2015, David Petraeus pleaded guilty to the federal crime of mishandling classified material. The judge, pursuant to the plea deal, sentenced the former general and CIA director to two years probation and a $100,000 fine. In speaking to reporters following his sentencing, Petraeus said, "Today marks the end of a two-and-a half-year ordeal. I now look forward to moving on with the next phase of my life."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Did Veteran Affairs Police Kill Dialysis Patient Jonathan Montano?

     On May 25, 2011, 65-year-old military veteran Jonathan Montano sat in a chair with an IV shunt in his arm waiting for his dialysis treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Loma Linda, California. Norma Montano, Jonathan's wife of 44 years, waited with him in the federal medical facility located in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles. After waiting four hours for his dialysis treatment, Mr. Montano informed a nurse that, tired of waiting, he had decided to seek dialysis at the VA hospital in Long Beach. Jonathan sent Norma to fetch the car.

     A VA nurse informed the patient that he was not authorized to leave the hospital. When it became obvious that Mr. Montano disagreed with that policy, and began to leave, the nurse called for muscle in the form of armed, uniformed officers with the Department of Veteran Affairs Police. (That's right, they have their own police force. The VA police exist to deter and prevent crime, and investigate criminal incidents within the VA system.)

     As the feeble veteran made his way to the hospital door, two VA police officers tackled him to the ground. The stunned patient's head bounced off the floor, and he ended up being pinned down with an officer's knee in his back, and the other officer's boot on his neck. The brute force caused the dissection of the veteran's carotid artery, and this led a blood clot that caused a stroke.

     Jonathan Montano had come to the VA hospital in Loma Linda for dialysis, and ended up being manhandled by in-house police. Apparently in the VA system, patients who express their disapproval of the poor service are punished. Mr. Montano would have been better off if he had been simply ignored, or at least to be allowed to find care elsewhere.

     As the VA cops were brutalizing her husband, Norma sat in the car waiting for him to walk out of the hospital. She had no idea that his walking days were over. When he didn't appear at the door, she re-entered the hospital to find him. Perhaps medical personnel were finally hooking him up to a dialysis machine.

     According to the VA doctor who spoke to Norma about her husband, the patent had fallen and suffered a stroke. This of course, was a lie, apparently standard procedure at VA hospitals. Norma learned of the doctor's lie when a nurse pulled her aside and informed her of really happened to Mr. Montano. (Thank God for government whistleblowers.)

     Jonathan Montano, on June 11, 2011, two and a-half weeks after being slammed to the hospital floor and pinned with a VA boot on his neck, died. Hospital authorities listed stroke as the cause, and natural as the manner of his death. As a result of this fabrication, no one in an official position called for a criminal investigation.

     In May 2014, Norma Montana and her two adult children filed a civil suit in federal court against the  Loma Linda VA hospital. The plaintiffs sought punitive, compensatory, and emotional stress damages for Mr. Montano's wrongful death at the hands of the VA police officers. The government stood accused, in connection with this veteran's violent death, of committing the torts of negligence and false imprisonment. There was also, and this shouldn't surprise anyone, a bureaucratic cover-up.

     The Jonathan Montano wrongful death action should trigger a criminal investigation by the FBI, but  that is unlikely. Bureaucrats are mainly concerned about people who commit crimes against the government. The government, however, doesn't commit crimes against the people. For example, IRS agents can do whatever they want. But if you don't pay your taxes, you are in big trouble. Apparently, veterans who try to leave dysfunctional VA hospitals for better care are also in big trouble. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

FBI Acknowledges Massive Crime Lab Scandal

     As reported in The New York Times, a FBI spokesperson on April 20, 2015 publicly acknowledged that for decades bureau crime lab hair identification experts gave bogus scientific testimony that adversely affected more than 250 state and federal criminal cases. In my 2008 book Forensics Under Fire I wrote about several cases involving FBI crime lab pseudo-science. Below are two blogs published on this site about the problem. It's amazing how long it took the FBI to publicly admit to flaws in its operation that have for years been known to forensic scientists, attorneys, judges, and criminal justice scholars. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Teacher Joyce Quiller: Hero or Victim?

     In January 2014, students and parents filed complaints against a veteran math teacher at Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Florida. The teacher, 51-year-old Joyce Quiller, taught tenth and eleventh graders enrolled in Bridge to Success, a program created to help students two or more years older than normal for their class levels. In other words, most of Quiller's students were not the best nor the brightest. The 21-year classroom veteran had the difficult and unrewarding job of trying to teach math to mostly unmotivated and undisciplined teenagers.

     In the context of today's lax public school education standards, Joyce Quiller had the reputation of being a strict, demanding teacher who didn't dumb-down and didn't suffer fools. She expected her students to show up for class with pen, paper, and completed homework assignments. When students didn't live up to her academic expectations, they failed the course. In fact, she gave 77 percent of her students Fs with all but a few of the rest receiving Ds. It seemed this teacher had imposed a toll on the so-called Bridge to Success, and most of her students didn't want to pay it. It's easy to see why this woman was not a popular teacher among students, their parents, and school administrators.

     The six or so complainants accused Quiller of being foul-mouthed and insulting in the classroom. In speaking to a student who showed up for class without pen or paper, she allegedly said, "What's the point of coming to this motherf--ing class if you don't bring materials?" Moreover, according to her accusers, she told another kid to "shut the f---up."

     Joyce Qullier also faced the allegation that she called her students "stupid" and "ignorant," and once used the n-word. (The complainants in this case are black and so is the accused.)

     This was not the first time Joyce Quiller had been called on the carpet for using inappropriate classroom language. In 2001 and again in 2013 the school superintendent reprimanded her for telling a student to "get out of my f--ing class." She also supposedly instructed a kid to pull up his pants. (Wow, the kid must have been devastated.)

     In response to the accusations of unprofessional (but hardly abusive) classroom demeanor, Quiller submitted a written statement that she was "appalled and disturbed" at the allegations against her. She denied using profanity in class and accused the complainants of having a vendetta against her.

     In March 2014, following an internal inquiry and a hearing, the superintendent of the Duval County School District sent Joyce Quiller a letter of termination. She appealed her firing to an administrative law judge.

     Administrative law judge Bruce McKibben, in August 2014, ruled that the school district had violated the terms of Quiller's employment contract by skipping step three of a three-step system of punishment. According to the judge's interpretation of the case, the school superintendent should have suspended Quiller without pay. The judge ordered the school system to reinstate Joyce Quiller.

     In his 21-page decision, Judge McKibben found that a preponderance of the evidence (a standard of proof less demanding than proof beyond a reasonable doubt) supported the claims she used profanity in class. He did note, however, that one of Quiller's B students testified that she had never heard the teacher swear.

      Regarding Quller's work environment at Ribault High School, Judge McKibben wrote: "Quiller was placed in an almost untenable situation. She did not have all the tools needed to work with students, and her classes were too large. Nevertheless, she was expected to maintain her composure and professionalism."

     The judge, perhaps out of political correctness, did not point out the obvious fact that many of Quiller's students were probably idiots. More school supplies would not have solved that problem.

     On September 8, 2014, after Joyce Quiller answered questions and pleaded her case before the Duval County School Board, board members ignored the administrative judge's reinstatement ruling by voting again to fire the former math teacher. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Nolan M. Burch: Another Fraternity House Death

     West Virginia University in Morgantown is well-known for being a party school where excessive drinking is part of the student culture. As anyone familiar with campus life knows, ground zero for the drinking/party scene are fraternities that are essentially drinking clubs. WVU, of course, is just one of many universities and colleges where students can take bone-head courses and party more than they study.

     On October 15, 2014, the national chapter of Kappa Sigma suspended the WVU charter of the organization for breaking the fraternity's code of conduct. Notwithstanding this action, the Morgantown chapter did not curtail its pledging or social activities.

     On November 6, 2014, 19 members of WVU's Sigma Chi fraternity were arrested following a booze-fueled disturbance on the street near the frat house. All of the students involved had been drinking and under the legal age for the public consumption of alcohol. Four days later, the national chapter of Sigma Chi withdrew the Morgantown charter.

     Just before midnight on Wednesday November 12, 2014, Morgantown police officers, in response to a 911 medical emergency call, arrived at the off-campus Kappa Sigma fraternity house. At the scene, police and emergency medical personnel found someone performing CPR on a WVU student.

     The first responders found no signs of traumatic injury on the body of 18-year-old Nolan M. Burch. Paramedics rushed the freshman to Morgantown's Ruby Memorial Hospital where he was placed on life support.

     Nolan Burch, from Williamsville, New York, a suburb of Buffalo, graduated in 2014 from Canisius High School where he played hockey and lacrosse. At WVU he majored in pre-sports management. In Williamsville Burch had worked at a car wash.

     On Friday November 14, 2014, after he was taken off of life support, doctors pronounced Nolan Burch dead. The university placed an immediate moratorium on all Greek activities that meant no parties or pledging activity.

     A spokesperson for the Morgantown Police Department, on November 15, 2014, confirmed what everyone suspected: Nolan Burch's death was alcohol related.

     As detectives gathered information regarding the events leading up to this student's death, they learned that at ten o'clock on the night of November 12, 2014, a blindfolded Burch and 19 other pledges walked from the Kappa Sigma fraternity house to a nearby building. It was there each pledge was handed a bottle of liquor by a big brother. Burch drank an extreme amount of liquor in a short period of time. It raised his blood-alcohol content to 0.49 percent, six times the legal limit for driving.

     A member of the Morgantown police officer said he had never seen such a blood-alcohol content so high. It suggested that the student had gulped down the liquor the way someone would chug a beer or a bottle of soda.

     Following the liquor drinking initiation, Burch was taken back to the fraternity house where fraternity members laid the passed-out young man on a table. At 11:50 PM, a fraternity brother noticed that the pledge's face had turned blue. Unable to revive him, the student began CPR and called 911.

     On February 10, 2015, after a Monongalia County prosecutor charged him with the offenses of conspiracy and hazing, 20-year-old Richard Schwartz turned himself in at the Morgantown Police Department. According to a police spokesperson, these charges could be brought either as misdemeanors or felonies. The judge set the suspect's bail at $10,000.

     Richard Schwartz stood accused of providing the victim with alcohol that night. With the help of another fraternity brother, the suspect allegedly carried the passed-out Burch back to the fraternity house. No trial date has been set in this case. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Justin Bieber And The Great Calabasas Egging Caper

     What do you get when you mix youth, wealth, fame, and a dose of sociopathy? You get a kid like Justin Bieber, the baby-faced singer with the big hair, tattooed arms, and oversized Jacqueline Onasis sunglasses. You get a bored, narcissistic jerk who doesn't have a clue how to deal with his vacuous life.

     If you're a rich person who is not young, stupid or famous, having a celebrity like Bieber move into the mansion next to you is not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the entire neighborhood. But what can you do? There is no such thing as zoning ordinances that keep entertainment celebrities out of communities.

     When the 19-year-old singer moved into the sprawling house on Prado del Grandioso Drive in Calabasas, California, neighbor Jeffrey Schwartz's nightmare began. With Bieber came the loud music and the all-night parties. Moreover, the celebrity himself became a huge pain-in-the-butt. In one confrontation with Schwartz, Bieber allegedly spit on him.

     On a more serious level, Mr. Schwartz and the other non-celebrities in the community accused the teen singer of endangering children by driving recklessly around the neighborhood in his luxury vehicles.

     Late Thursday night, January 9, 2014, Mr. Schwartz called the Los Angeles Sheriff's Office to report acts of vandalism against his home. According to the complainant, while standing on his second-floor balcony, he saw Justin Bieber throw at least twenty raw eggs at his house. The eggs permanently stained custom wood and venetian plaster that will cost Mr. Schwartz an estimated $20,000 to restore. The extent of the damage qualified the crime as felony vandalism. Detectives launched an investigation into the allegation, but did not take suspect Bieber into custody.

     At eight in the morning of Tuesday, January 14, 2014, pursuant to the egg assault case, twelve deputies out of the Lost Hills Sheriff's Station showed up at Bieber's mansion armed with a battering ram and a search warrant. As it turned out, the officers gained entry without using the battering ram. Eight people, including Bieber, were in the house when the police showed up at the door.

     Soon after entering the dwelling, deputies saw, in plain view, what they thought was a quantity of cocaine or the drug Ecstasy. In connection with the drugs, deputies arrested a 20-year-old rapper who calls himself Lil Za. Za was not only Bieber's friend, he had been living in the singer's house for several months.

     Deputies hauled Lil Za, real name Xavier Smith, to the Lost Hills Station lockup in Agoura. Later that day, after posting his $20,000 bond, Smith was about to be released when officers discovered he had destroyed the wall phone in the holding cell. Charged with felony vandalism, the judge raised the rapper's bail to $70,000. After posting the upped bond, Smith tweeted to his fans that he was doing just fine. What a relief.

     Crime lab personnel identified the substance seized in the Bieber house search as MDMA--a form of Ecstasy commonly known as "molly." In California, Ecstasy possession brings a maximum sentence of one year in jail. (Cocaine possession carries a maximum sentence of three years.)

     Bieber's egg throwing caper opened a can of worms for his drug possessing friend. However, while these alleged offenses provide rich material for the entertainment media, they are small potatoes crime-wise. When all is said and done, few celebrities ever go to jail. Look what it took to put O. J. Simpson and Phil Spector behind bars--and they committed murder.  Lindsay Lohan, another celebrity jerk, spent a few hours in jail and you'd think the world had come to an end.

     On Thursday, January 23, 2014 at four in the morning, police in Miami Beach, Florida arrested the bad-boy cutie for drag racing and driving under the influence of alcohol. He was racing his Lamborghini. He posted his bond, was released from custody, and later paid a fine.

     Regarding the great egging case, Bieber pleaded no contest to vandalism in return for two years on probation. Under the terms of his probation he was prohibited from possessing a concealed egg. Just kidding.

     At some point after the house-egging caper, the pop singer paid his neighbor $80,000 to cover the cost of the damage to the house. (They must have been really big eggs.) Mr. Schwartz, however, was not satisfied. The egging victim gave Bieber an ultimatum--fork over $1million or face a lawsuit.

     In response to the lawsuit threat, Bieber's people told Mr. Schwartz to suck an egg. As a result, in March 2015, Schwartz filed suit claiming the egg incident destroyed his reputation as an online auto leader. According to the plaintiff, he was known around the world as the guy Justin Bieber had egged and spit on. Exactly how that destroyed his business reputation was unclear. One would think that if anyone's reputation took a hit in the egging case, it was Bieber's.
       

Saturday, March 21, 2015

William McCollom: Georgia Police Chief Shoots His Wife

     William McCollom lived with his wife Margaret in a modest house in Peachtree, Georgia, a upscale town of 35,000 southwest of Atlanta. In October 2014, the major appointed the 58-year-old law enforcement officer to the position of chief of police.

     On Thursday January 1, 2015, at four-fifteen in the morning, Chief McCollom called 911 to report the shooting of his wife at their home. "Gunshot wound," he said. "Accidental, need medical ASAP!"

     The 911 dispatcher asked, "Who shot her?"

     "Me," he replied.

     "How did you shoot her?"

     "The gun (a 9mm Glock) was in the bed, I went to move it, put it to the side. It went off."

     "Is she awake?"

     "No, everybody was sleeping."

     "No," the dispatcher said, "is she awake now?" (A woman could be heard moaning in the background.)

     "Yes," the chief said. Then to his wife he asked, "Are you having trouble breathing, dear?" To the dispatcher he said, "Come on guys, get here. Oh my God, how did this happen?"

     "Is that her crying?" asked the dispatcher.

     "Yes, she's having trouble breathing."

     "Were you asleep also when this happened?"

     "Yes." At this point, about two minutes into the 911 call, Chief McCollom identified himself. "I'm the chief of police," he said.

     "Where is the gun?"

     "The gun is on the dresser."

     "You're the chief of police in Peachtree?"

     "Yeah, unfortunately, yes," he replied.

     Emergency medical personnel flew the 57-year-old shooting victim to the Atlanta Medical Center. According to doctors there, Margaret McCollom was in critical condition. The mayor of Peachtree placed the chief on administrative leave and asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to take over the case.

     The district attorney of Fayette County told reporters that he would decide if criminal charges were appropriate after the GBI completed its investigation of the shooting. Friends and neighbors questioned by reporters all insisted that the chief and his wife were not experiencing marital problems or any form of domestic discord.

     On Monday January 12, 2015, doctors released Margaret McCollom from the  hospital. The shooting had left her paralyzed from the waist down. She told GBI detectives that she was asleep when shot and that she believed it was an accident. Before submitting a report to the district attorney's office, investigators were awaiting the results of crime lab tests on the gun as well as the chief's blood-alcohol analysis.

     On March 11, 2015, McCollom resigned from the police department. On the city's website he wrote the following: "I have had two families in Peachtree--my police family and my personal family. I need to continue to focus my time and efforts there."

     According to District Attorney Scott Ballard, McCollom had accidentally shot his sleeping wife after he had consumed alcohol and sleep medication. The prosecutor said he will ask a grand jury to indict the former chief of police on the misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct.

    

Thursday, March 12, 2015

John McCarthy: Professor of Math or Meth?

     In high school, I had a French teacher who came unglued in front of her students. She had been acting strangely for weeks, but nobody had reported her. School officials eventually had to haul the disturbed teacher out of the classroom. We never saw her again. I found this quite tragic because she had been an easy-grader. Her replacement was a monster who flunked half the class.

     During my college years I encountered a couple of oddball professors, but witnessed nothing that compares to what Michigan State University students experienced on October 1, 2012 when math professor John McCarthy went off the deep end.

     Professor McCarthy, described by his students as an eccentric who smoked meth, taught in MSU's Engineering Building. Just before one o'clock on the day his students will never forget, he started shouting in class. The professor pressed his hands and his face against a window, and stated to scream at the top of his lungs. (I was a college professor for thirty years, and while I occasionally lost my temper, I never had the urge to scream into window glass.) The out of control professor walked out of the classroom and continued to make a lot of noise as he paced up and down the hallway. At this point someone called 911.

     Professor McCarthy returned to the classroom, and with his terrified students looking on, took off his clothes except for his socks. (Not a good look under any circumstances.) He then ran naked about the room screaming, "There is no f-ing God," and ranting about computers, Steve Jobs, and that everything in life was just an act. (Except, of course, his breakdown.) Traumatized students were fleeing the classroom.

     Fifteen minutes after the 911 call, a period of time that seemed to the students like an eternity, police officers entered the classroom, placed the screaming, naked man into handcuffs, and hauled him off to a local hospital for observation. His students, for the remainder of the semester, were reassigned to other math classes.

     In an email to his former students, Professor McCarthy, after being discharged from the hospital, wrote: "The incident that occurred Monday was unfortunate." (What ever happened to: "I made a fool of myself, scared the hell out of you, and I'm sorry?") "Although I do not remember what happened, I have been told that I may have caused distress among my students in Monday's class. For that I am sorry." (May have caused distress?)

     Professor John McCarthy was not charged with a crime. While he was probably tenured, the professor must have had a hard time justifying his meth-indiced antics as an exercise in academic freedom. Still, in academia, bizarre behavior is tolerated that anywhere else would be frowned upon and cause for dismissal. If the professor lost his job over this incident, there is no mention of it on the Internet. Assuming he kept his position at MSU, how did he muster the nerve to show his face on campus after that? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Peek-A-Boo Child Pornography Case

     In 2011, after passing a background check, 27-year-old Elliot Gornall began teaching second and third grade at the R. F. McMullen Elementary school in the central Ohio town of Loudonville. In the fall of 2014, Gornall, well-liked by his students, their parents, and his fellow teachers, bean teaching a class of 25 kindergarten kids.

     Gornall's reputation and teaching career took a major hit on November 18, 2014 when local drug officers raided his home in Loudonville. The drug cops found a quantity of marijuana, illicit prescription drugs, and several pairs of children's underwear. The searchers left Gornall's dwelling that day in possession of his personal computer.

     Not long after the drug raid, an Ashland County grand jury indicted the kindergarten teacher on several counts of prescription drug abuse, marijuana possession, and theft related to the underwear. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, posted bail, and was released from custody.

     Following the indictments that shocked everyone in the community, school district officials placed the 32-year-old teacher on administrative leave. On December 8, 2014, Gornall tendered his resignation from the R. F. McMullen Elementary School. He moved out of his place in Loudonville and took up residence in Lorain, Ohio.

     The big shock in the case came on March 6, 2015 when police officers arrested Gornall and booked him into the Ashland County Jail on 23 counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. If convicted as charged, he faced up to 184 years in prison.

     A couple of months after the drug and theft indictments, detectives with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation discovered child pornography and videotaped images of R. F. McMullen Elementary school kids using the kindergarten bathroom. Investigators searched the restroom and found, hidden in a white plastic hook stuck to the wall, a pinhole video camera. Detectives believed Gornall had installed the secret camera in August 2014.

     At his March 9, 2015 arraignment, Gornall pleaded not guilty to the charges related to the spy camera in the kids' restroom. Ashland County prosecutor Chris Turnell informed the judge that detectives had found 63 videos of 25 kindergarten students plus more than 100 downloaded images of child pornography on the ex-teacher's computer. Judge Ronald Forsthoefel set Gornall's bail at $500,000. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Where Is Relisha Rudd?

     In 2014, eight-year-old Relisha Tanau Rudd resided in the D.C. General homeless shelter in Washington with her 27-year old mother, Shamika Young, her stepfather, and her three brothers. The family had lived in the shelter a year when Relisha's mother, on March 1, 2014, arranged to have 51-year-old Kahlil Malik Tatum and his wife Andrea take the girl in and care for her. Kahlil Tatum worked at the homeless shelter as a janitor where he had a reputation of paying a lot of attention to the young girls who lived there.

     On March 19, 2014, after Relisha missed several days of school, the authorities launched a missing persons investigation. Mr. Tatum had also vanished. The janitor and the girl were caught on a D. C. area Holiday Inn Express surveillance camera walking down a hallway on February 26, 2014, a few days before the girl's mother gave her  up.

     Detectives learned that Tatum, on March 2, 2014, had purchased a carton of black, 42 gallon, self-tie contractor trash bags.

     Police officers, on March 20, 2014, found Andrea Denise Tatum's body in a motel room at an Oxon Hill, Maryland Red Roof Inn. She had been killed by a gunshot to the head. Her husband and Relisha Rudd were nowhere to be found. Homicide detectives uncovered evidence linking the dead woman's husband, Kahlil Tatum, to the homicide.

     A Prince George's County prosecutor charged Kahlil Tatum with first-degree murder. On March 26, 2014, the FBI added the fugitive homicide suspect to its "Most Wanted List" and offered a $70,000 reward for information regarding his whereabouts. The Prince George's County Police Department posted a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

     On March 27, 2014, shortly after a witness reported having seen a man meeting Tatum's description with a girl in Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in northeast D.C., a party of more than 100 officers searched the 700-acre park. Four days later, a searcher came across Mr. Tatum's body. He had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with the gun used in the murder his wife. Searchers found no signs of Relisha Rudd. On April 3, 2014, the park search was called off.

     The D.C. City Council Committee of Human Services, in the course of reviewing the hiring policy at D.C. General, found that Kahlil Tatum possessed an extensive criminal record. He had been convicted in 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991, and 1993 of various crimes including breaking and entering and grand larceny. He was last convicted of a crime in 2004. In those days he went under his birth name, Karl Lee Tatum.

     According to the administrator in charge of hiring at the D.C. homeless shelter, Tatum, because his last conviction was ten years old, was eligible for employment at the facility. Had any of his offenses involved children, he would have been automatically excluded regardless of the date of the conviction.

     Social service authorities, following Relisha Rudd's disappearance, took away Shamika Young's three boys and placed them into foster care. The mother, who herself had grown up in the Virginia foster care system, had been shuttled between foster homes, group homes and mental health facilities. Diagnosed in middle school as "mildly retarded," Shamika reported hearing voices telling her to kill her foster family and herself. She also suffered from depression and a variety of other emotional problems.

     After Shamika Young signed herself out of foster care at age 18, she gave birth to four children from two men. She had no training on how to be a good mother and no way to make a living. Prosecutors over the past few years, on three occasions, have charged Young with child abuse and neglect. The cases were all dismissed.

     Since Relisha's disappearance, Shamika Young has been fighting to get her three sons out of foster care. This has created a heated debate among child protection advocates and Young's extended family, some of whom blame her for Relisha's disappearance.

     Relisha Rudd's whereabouts remain unknown. Detectives presume she was murdered by Tatum who disposed of her body.

     

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Wesleyan University Mass Molly Overdose Scandal

     Wesleyan University, an expensive 3,200-student liberal arts college in Middletown, Connecticut, is known for its culture of drugs. (The school referred 154 students for disciplinary action for drug violations in 2011. That number jumped to 281 in 2012. In 2013, 240 Wesleyan students got in trouble for drug use.) The latest campus drug scandal involved the abuse of the synthetic drug Molly, known by chemists and crime lab personnel as MDMA.

     The main ingredient in Molly, contraband smuggled into the United States from China, is the psychoactive stimulant Ecstasy commonly present at music festivals and on the club party circuit. While Molly dealers claim they sell it in its purest form, most of the drug is laced with dangerous additives such as epheorine (a stimulant), dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant), cocaine, methamphetamine, and in some cases bath salts.

    Molly users experience euphoria, mild hallucinations, and the urge to physically touch other people. The drug, in its various forms, boosts three chemicals in the body that can cause blood vessels in the heart and brain to constrict. That in turn could lead to heart attacks and strokes. Molly also causes the body to overheat resulting in fatal brain swelling and dehydration.

     Early Sunday morning February 22, 2015, following a Saturday night party at Wesleyan University, paramedics rushed twelve partygoers to the Hartford Hospital. The ten students and two campus guests exhibited symptoms of Molly overdose.

     While two of the sick partygoers were listed in critical condition and fighting for their lives, all of the Molly users were expected to survive.

     On Tuesday night February 24, 2015, officers with the Middletown Police Department arrested four Wesleyan students on charges related to the overdoses. Two of the students, 21-year-old Eric Lonergan from Rio de Janeiro and Andrew Olson from Atascadero, California, were charged with several counts of drug dealing. The judge set their bonds at $100,000 and $175,000 respectively.

     A local prosecutor charged 21-year-old Zachary Kramer from Bethesda, Maryland and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20 of Lutherville, Maryland with possession type offenses. The judge set their bonds at $75,000 and $100,000 respectively.

     The four Wesleyan students arrested in the Molly overdose scandal have been suspended from the school. They posted bail and were released from custody. 

Writing Quote: Are Unpublished Novelists Real Writers?

If you do not seek to publish what you have written, then you are not a novelist and you never will be.

George V. Higgins, On Writing, 1990 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Being A Professional Writer

I have to drink and gamble to get away from this typewriter. Not that I don't love this old machine when it's working right. But knowing when to go to it and knowing to stay away from it, that's the trick. I really don't want to be a professional writer, I wanna write what I wanna write. Else, it's all been wasted…So did Hemingway, until he started talking about "discipline"; Pound also talked about doing one's "work".  But I've been luckier than both of them because I've worked the factories and slaughterhouses and I know that work and discipline are dirty words. I know what they meant, but for me, it has to be a different game.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1965-1970, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rare Gun Violence In South Korea

     Four people, including a policeman, were killed on February 27, 2015 in the second shooting incident in two days in South Korea where gun crime is extremely rare. A 75-year-old man armed with a hunting rifle shot dead his brother, the brother's wife and a police officer who responded to an emergency call. The gunman then turned the weapon on himself.

     The shooting in Hwaseong City 25 miles southwest of Seoul, appeared to have been motivated by a family dispute over money. The incident came two days after a man shot three people dead in a convenience store the killer then torched in a apparent revenge attack on the family of his former lover in the southern city of Sejong. In that case the gunman also committed suicide.

     South Korea's tough gun laws effectively outlaw ownership of firearms by most civilians. Rare exceptions are allowed for hunters but they must deposit their rifles at local police stations.

"4 Dead in Second Rare Shooting in South Korea," ndtv.com, February 27, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Chief of Police Busted in Prostitution Sting

     A south Florida police chief is out of a job after being accused of soliciting a prostitute who turned out to be an undercover cop. Former Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson was arrested in Dania Beach on February 27, 2015. After posting his bail, Johnson said, "I want to apologize to the community. Tonight was a very unfortunate situation for me dealing with an incident that occurred today. It just overwhelmed me. The stress overwhelmed me, and I made a very bad decision to deal with that moment that I have never experienced before." Johnson blamed his actions on stress at work.

     "When I saw two grieving families and the overwhelming issue to face them, it brought something that's totally out of character with me," he said. "And people know me. That is just not my character. Bad decisions on how to deal with that, but I've never dealt with that kind of feeling before, so I can't even explain it." [Huh?]

"Florida Police Chief Fired After Prostitution Arrest," CBS News, February 8, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Journalistic Legacy of Watergate

     Investigative reporting has taken on every aspect of American society--from government, politics, business and finance to education, social welfare, culture and sports--and has won the lion's share of each year's journalism prizes. No matter how unpopular the news media may sometimes be, there has been, ever since Watergate, an expectation that the press would hold accountable those with power and influence over the rest of us. As Jon Marshal wrote in 2011, Watergate "shaped the way investigative reporting is perceived and practiced and how political leaders and the public respond to journalists."

     Woodward and Bernstein's techniques were hardly original. But they became central to the ethos of investigative reporting: Become an expert on your subject. Knock on doors and talk to sources in person. Protect the confidentiality of sources when necessary. Never rely on a single source. Find documents. Follow the money. Pile one hard-won detail on top of another until a pattern becomes discernible.

Leonard Downie Jr., Washington Post, June 7, 2012 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Out In The Cold

     A 23-year-old Allentown, Pennsylvania woman left her sleeping 1-year-old in her minivan in freezing weather while taking another child for a haircut. Mirella Rodriguez was charged on February 24, 2015 with endangering the welfare of a child.

     Following her arrest, Rodriguez posted on Facebook that the allegations were blown out of proportion and that she was a great mother and would never purposely harm her child. Police say Rodriguez left the child behind without a blanket while she took her 3-year-old into a barbershop at two in the afternoon. A parking officer saw the child and alerted police.

     The temperature at the time was 20 degree, with wind chills of 9 degrees. The child was unharmed.

"Mon Left Sleeping Tot In Cold Van During Kid's Haircut," ABC News, February 25, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Who Spiked My Sippy Cup?

     Police say a Massachusetts woman allowed her 2-year-old daughter to sip her margarita at a restaurant and poured some of it into the girl's sippy cup. Forty-one-year-old Sheldy Nelson of Lynn, Massachusetts pleaded not guilty on February 24, 2015 to child endangerment in a Salem district court. She was charged in connection with the August 2014 incident. The judge set her bond at $1,000.

     A witness told police that Nelson ignored two warnings from the restaurant staff to stop giving her daughter sips of the alcohol. Both the mother and her daughter appeared lethargic and were taken to a hospital where medical personnel found alcohol in the toddler's system. Police found the sippy cup in Nelson's bag. It smelled of alcohol. The girl was placed in state custody.

"Mom Let 2-Year-Old Sip Margarita," huffingtonpost.com, February 28, 2015 

When A Successful Novelist Calls It Quits

For public figures who walk away from the source of their fame, the question of what comes next may be treated lightly. A retired athlete can become a sportscaster or investor; the TV actor whose hit show comes to an end can mull over movie scripts. But when a successful novelist retires, it feels somehow different: writing novels is less a job one can leave than proof that one sees the world in a certain way. There's something that seems illogical about a writer declaring that he or she is done. Where, then, do all of the observations channeled into metaphor go?

Daniel D'Addario, Time, November 24, 2014 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Horse Tail and Mane Thief

     State police searched for a suspect who cut the manes and tails from three horses at a western Pennsylvania horse complex. Horse hair is used to make jewelry and tail and mane extensions for show horses. Their hair can be used to make brushes, violin bows, hat bands and wigs.

     The thief struck during the lunch hour on February 18, 2015 when the horses were unattended in a open field along a road in Jefferson Township, Butler County. It takes years for horses to grow back their manes and tails. [I guess they'll need extensions now.]

"Police Seek Suspect Who Cut Off Tails, Manes From Horses," Associated Press, February 24, 2015 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On The Relationship Between His Life And His Writing

I've been drinking too much lately and have made plans to cut it down somewhat. Also there have been some rough seas on the home front. Everything seems to get in the way of the writing but maybe it creates it too.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1971-1986, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: Good Science Fiction Is Hard To Write

     As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, and on behalf of all the variations and sub-genres such as urban fantasy, alternate history and steampunk which collectively make up "speculative fiction," I'd argue that genre fiction is different from literary fiction.

     Whether it's dealing with  ray guns and rocket ships, swords, sorcery or fur and fangbangers, speculative fiction's unifying, identifying characteristic is that it doesn't attempt to mimic real life in the way that literary fiction does. It stands apart from the world we know. It takes us away to an entirely secondary realm, be that Middle Earth or Westeros, or to an alternate present where vampires and werewolves really do exist and you ring 666 to report a supernatural crime…

     Speculative fiction can be considerably harder to write than literary fiction…When readers are paying close attention to every hint and clue, the writer needs to have internal logic, consistency of character and scene-setting absolutely nailed down. Readers have to be convinced that this unfamiliar world is solidly real if they're ever going to suspend disbelief and accept the unreal, whether that's magic and dragons or faster-than-light travel.

Juliet McKenna, The Guardian, April 18, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Future of Investigative Journalism Is Uncertain

     Investigative reporting in America did not begin with Watergate. But it became entrenched in American journalism--and has been steadily spreading around the world--largely because of Watergate.

     Now, 40 years after Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote their first stories about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington's Watergate office building, the future of investigative reporting is at risk in the chaotic digital reconstruction of journalism in the United States. Resource-intensive investigative reporting has become a burden for shrunken newspapers struggling to reinvent themselves and survive. Nonprofit start-ups seeking to fill the gap are financially fragile themselves, with their sustainability uncertain.

Leonard Downie Jr., The Washington Post, June 7, 2012 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Man In Czech Republic Killed Eight In Restaurant Before Killing Himself

     A man armed with a gun killed eight people at a restaurant in the town of Uhersky Brod in the eastern Czech Republic near Zlin…The shooter then killed himself…Authorities didn't know the identify or motivation of the assailant. However, they do not believe the incident was terror related…

     The attacker was a local man in his 60s…He rushed into the restaurant just after noon on February 24, 2015 and fired multiple times before using the gun to kill himself…Two other people were wounded in the shooting. Uhersky Bond, a town of 50,000, is located near the border with Slovakia.

"8 Killed In Czech Restaurant Shooting," CNN, February 24, 2015 

Writing Quote: What is "Slipstream Fiction"?

The weaving of the real and unreal is part of a fast-growing strain of fiction some call slipstream. The label slipstream encompasses writing that slips in and out of conventional genres, borrowing from science fiction, fantasy and horror. The approach, sometimes also called "fantastika," "interstitial" and "the new weird," often combines the unexpected with the ordinary.

Anna Russell, The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2014 

Writing Quote: Is Investigative Journalism In Its Golden Age?

     The news about news is often grim. Newspapers are shrinking, folding up, or being cut loose by their parent companies. Layoffs are up and staffs are down. That investigative reporter who covered the state capitol--she's not there anymore. Newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune have suffered from multiple rounds of layoffs over the years…But despite a long run of journalistic tough times, the loss of advertising dollars, and the challenge of the Internet, there's been a blossoming of investigative journalism across the globe from Honduras to Myanmar, New Zealand to Indonesia.

     Woodward and Bernstein may be a fading memory in this country, but journalist with names largely unknown in the U.S…are breaking one blockbuster story after another, exposing corrupt government officials and their crony corporate pals in Azerbaijan, Angola, and Costa Rica…

     "We are in a golden age of investigative journalism," says Sheila Coronel. And she should know. Now the academic dean at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Coronel was the director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, whose coverage of the real estate holdings of former President Joseph Estrada--including identical houses built for his mistresses--contributed to his removal from office in 2001.

     There are, to take another example, the halcyon days for watchdog journalism in Brazil. In October 2013, at an investigative journalism conference there organized by the Global Journalism Investigative Network, there were 1,350 attendees.

Anya Schiffrin, salon.com, August 31, 2014 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Florida Cop Might Be Charged With Abuse of Homeless Man

     Authorities in Fort Lauderdale are considering filing criminal charges against an officer who was videotaped pushing and slapping a homeless man at a bus terminal. The incident happened on February 23, 2015 and the video soon surfaced on YouTube. Officer Victor Ramirez, a nine-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, has been suspended without pay.

     The video shows the officer holding the man's arm, then pushing him to the ground. The officer tells the man to get up and slaps him in the face. Police identified the man as Bruce Laclair. Laclair has been charged with trespassing.

     Police Chief Frank Adderley said that in addition to looking at possible charges against the officer, the agency will review its use-of-force policy. [Why? Surely every cop with a brain knows that you don't go around pushing and slapping people for the hell of it.]

"In Video, Officer Pushes, Slaps Man at Florida Bus Terminal," ABC News, February 25, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Arrest Counterterrorism Official With State Department For Soliciting Sex With A Minor

     A senior State Department official in charge of counterterrorism programs was arrested after allegedly soliciting sex from a minor. Daniel A. Rosen, who is the State Department's director of counterterrorism programs and policy, was arrested on a charge of using a communications device to solicit a juvenile. Investigators believe Rosen, 44, had been communicating online with a female detective from a police child exploitation unit posing as a minor. Officers arrested him at his home and transported him to a Washington, D.C. jail.

     According to Rosen's Linkedin page, he is responsible, at the State Department, for all "strategic planning, policy planning, program and budget planning and oversight, and legislative relations and interaction" associated with the agency's counterterrorism program.

"Senior State Dept. Official Accused Of Soliciting Sex From Minor," UPI, February 25, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Relationship Between Science and Science Fiction

     There is a co-dependency between science and science fiction. Many scientists and engineers acknowledge that science fiction helped to spark their imagination of what was possible in science…

     Sometimes science fiction authors just make things up, but untutored imaginings tend not to make the best science fiction. As JBS Haldane put it: "the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." We need scientific input to sustain a rich science fictional imagination…

     Some science fiction writers are (or were until retirement) full-time scientists and academic researchers in their own right. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who coined the term "Big Bang", claimed to write his science fiction in order to publish ideas that would not fit into scientific journals. Back in the 1960s, Fred Pohl edited The Expert Dreamers and Groff Conklin edited Great Science Fiction by Scientists, with stories by George Gamow, JBS Haldane, Fred Hoyle, Julian Huxley, Norbet Weiner, and others. Some authors who were originally researchers have been successful enough to quit the day job in favor of fiction…

     Not all science fiction writers have science PhDs. Many of the Golden Age writers had little formal education. James White, for example wanted to be a medical doctor, but couldn't afford the training; that didn't stop him writing the marvelous alien doctors in space series called Sector General. Many science fiction writers have arts and humanities backgrounds, yet manage to write good hard science-based science fiction.

Susan Stepney, The Guardian, January 21, 2015


Writing Quote: Are Literary Fiction Writers Better Than Genre Authors?

     All of the most prestigious awards for fiction each year are given to the works of literary fiction, which makes it sometimes easy to say that writers who write literary novels are better writers.

     In reality, neither of the two categories of writers necessarily deserve the distinction of being better writers. Different writers is a better word choice…

     Is essence, the best genre fiction contains great writing, with the goal of telling a captivating story to escape from reality. Literary fiction is comprised of the heart and soul of a writer's being, and is experienced as an emotional journey through the symphony of words, leading to a stronger grasp of the universe and of ourselves.

Steven Petite, huffingtonpost.com, April 28, 2014 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Humor

Humor is good when it stems from the truth. In fact, truth alone is often humorous. But the humor of artifice--whose worst device is exaggeration--always makes me a little ill because it is just another con game…I suppose that the worst is Bob Hope with his flip little cute exaggerations and his name droppings. I don't keep up much with the world and he drops these names I never heard of, all supposing to mean something.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1965-1970, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: Joyce Carol Oates On Getting An Idea For A Short Story

A novel is so much more difficult than a short story. If you run, it's almost like you can think through your whole short story before you finish running. With a novel, it's almost impossible to do that.

Joyce Carol Oates, Where I've Been, And Where I'm going, 1999

Writing Quote: The Silent Novelist

No novelist has ever lived who did not at some time get stuck. And for every writer in working trim there may be a dozen persons of great ability who are somehow self-silenced. At long intervals they turn out remarkable fragments--embryo stories--but they cannot seem to pull themselves together and finish anything.

Jacques Barzum, On Writing, Editing and Publishing, 1986 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Sex Offenders Are Being Murdered In California's State Prison System

     California state prisoners are killed at a rate that is double the national average--and sex offenders account for a disproportionate number of victims, according to an Associated Press analysis of correction records.

     Male sex offenders made up about 15 percent of the prison population but accounted for nearly 30 percent of homicide victims, the AP found in cataloging all 78 killings officials reported since 2007…The deaths--23 out of 78--came despite the state's creation more than a decade ago of special housing units to protect the most vulnerable inmates, including sex offenders, often marked men because of the nature of their crimes. In some cases they have been killed among the general population, and in others, within the special units by violence-prone cellmates. Correction officials acknowledge that those units, places that also house inmates trying to quit gangs, have spawned their own gangs.

    Officials blamed a rise in the prison homicide rate on a state corrections system overhaul meant to reduce crowding. As part of the effort, California in 2011 began keeping lower-level offenders in county lockups, leaving the prisons with a higher percentage of sex offenders and gang members…

     The problem is most acute with sex offenders. In the fall of 2014, the corrections department inspector general reported that so many homicides occurred in the "increasingly violent" special housing units reserved for vulnerable inmates that the department could no longer assume that inmates there could peacefully co-exist.

"Many Sex Offenders Killed By Inmates in California Prisons," Associated Press, February 17, 2015

Writing Quote: Horror, The Least Literary Branch Of Speculative Fiction

For awhile now, so-called "literary" and "genre" fiction have been moving from outright opposition to a cautious rapprochement. Literary writers such as Jonathan Lethem, Donna Tatt and Michael Chabon increasingly deploy tropes and images from genre, while genre writers have upped their stakes considerably in terms of complexity, moral resonance and style. Sophie Hannah, Josh Bazell and Denise Mina have reinvented crime fiction; Charles Yu, Iain M. Banks and M. John Harrison have given a literary uplift to science fiction; while China Mieville, Jeff VanderMeer and Kelly Link have done the same for fantasy. But horror--the third aspect of "speculative fiction"--has had markedly less success in this regard.

Stuart Kelly, The Guardian, November 7, 2012 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Readers Expect Something New

     Different people read for different reasons, but to reproduce the mundane circumstances of their everyday lives is generally not one of them. There are literary writers who understand this and those who don't--hence the preponderance of divorce novels, teen angst novels, dealing-with-aging parent novels etc, that do little more than take us to where we've already been and tell us what we already know.

     Those who write science fiction and other forms of speculative fiction generally understand that while what we know and understand has its charms, the reason most of us read is to experience something fundamentally new.

Susan Defreitas, litreactor.com, September 24, 2014 

Writing Quote: Kurt Vonnegut On Writing Students

I wish my students could write simply and clearly, and keep a story moving as well. They are damned if they will tell a story simply and directly, and I have discovered the reason for this. It is not the fault of their previous teachers. It is their own fault: they have no stories to tell. I am going to take them on walks, and make them look at people. I have just ordered them to buy a book, which is to be the core text for my workshop. The book? That Steichen collection of photographs, The Family of Man

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Magazine Publishers

I've followed this writing game a long time. Strange thing. Take a guy who has been editing a magazine. You see him published here and there. Then he decides to stop publishing his mag and devote himself to his "art." He then vanishes and is never heard from. He's no longer there to play you publish me and I'll publish you. And this happens as well with the magazines of more expensive format and a larger readership. What the hell does this tell you?

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The College Roommate From Hell

     A university student stabbed his sleeping roommate in the throat, slashed his forehead and chased him to continue the attack when the victim broke free. The assault took place in the dormitory on a northern California campus. The assailant, Dillon Sang Kim, 19, slashed himself before he was arrested. His mug shot shows a stitched knife wound around his neck. The attacker's hospitalized 19-year-old roommate is expected to recover from the knife assault.

     Kim was charged with attempted murder and assault. The judge denied him bail…

     Police say the attack was unprovoked…The victim awoke early Tuesday February 17, 2015 to find Kim standing over him holding a knife. He stabbed his roommate several times and cut the victim's forehead and shoulder before the victim ran toward a bathroom that connected to an adjoining room occupied by two other students. Kim chased after his wounded roommate and stabbed him in the back when he fell down. The victim made it to the adjoining room where another student called 911. Police arrested Kim outside the dormitory.

     University Student Charged With Stabbing, Slashing Roommate," therepublic.com, February 20, 2015


Writing Quote: Beware Of The Publisher's Advance

I have seen a lot of novelists stop writing or at least slow down after getting an advance. They have a feeling of completion after making a deal. That's bad news creatively. If you are within a few months of having a finished, edited manuscript, I advise you to carry on without an advance, without that false feeling of completion, without that bit of good news to announce to a lot of people before the job is really done.

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012 

Writing Quote: What Not To Do When Writing A Novel

Never ever read a powerful novel when you're trying to write a novel of your own.

Richard Price, The New York Times Book Review, February 22, 2015 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Country Boy Version Of Citizens Arrest

     A police manhunt in northern Idaho for an escaped person with a history of violent crime came to an end on February 19, 2015 when a homeowner shot and wounded the fugitive. Roy Beiluch escaped from the Shoshone County Jail two days before while on cleaning duty. He entered a crawl space through the ceiling of a utility room and made his way to the jail lobby. The 48-year-old was aided by a female accomplice who was taken into custody a day after the escape.

      Bieluch, in custody since December 2014 on charges of burglary, malicious injury to property and petty theft, wound up at the home of a man living outside of Wallace, Idaho, a town of about 800 people.

     Shortly after five-thirty on the evening of February 19, the homeowner responded to his dog's wild barking. Armed with a handgun he went out to see what was disturbing his dog. That's when he confronted the jail escapee. The homeowner called 911 and ordered Bieluch not to move. The fugitive instead moved toward the homeowner who opened fire, hitting the intruder in the leg.

     According to the authorities, Bieluch has ties to the white supremacist group Aryan Nation. Officers who took him into custody transported the escapee to a nearby hospital….

Chuck Ross, "Armed Idaho Homeowner Ends Manhunt," The Daily Caller, February 20, 2015


Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Finding The Motivation To Write

This writing game is more desperate than holding up liquor stores, yet I'm snared in now and there's no out. A man finally gets lazy, too lazy and the mind gets too lazy to do any damned job. Now I'm almost too lazy to write. An empty belly and rent due might stove that up, though.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1971-1986, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: The Biographer's Relationship To His Subject

The most important thing that you as a biographer can do is to write from the heart. Write only about someone you have deep feelings for. If you care deeply about your subject, either positively or negatively, so will your readers. If you take on a biography about someone you couldn't care less about, possibly for the money, or because you have received a good publishing contract, the readers won't care about your subject either, and probably won't finish reading your book.

Brian Klems, writersdigest.com, December 9, 2013 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Writers Know Their Genre

     Writers of science fiction are, first and foremost, voracious readers, and they're often very savvy about the genre they work in. Whereas most literary writers have only the barest conception of where their work fits in the current publishing milieu. This is because many of them have been studying classic literature.

     The literary divisions are a little clearer within genre fiction--to an almost laughable degree (hence paranormal young adult romance, alternative historical fantasy, "furry" fiction, and virtually everything ending in the suffix-punk). But despite the fact that the differences between various types of literary fiction are more subtle, it behooves anyone serious about publishing to get savvy about them…

     The more knowledgeable you are about the imaginative space you're working in, the less likely you are to reinvent the wheel, and the more likely you are to get a handle on who your readers are and what they like.

Susan Defreitas, litreactor.com, September 24, 2014 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Writing Quote: The Pedigree Of The Short Story Genre

 The relationship of the short story to the novel amounts to nothing at all. The novel is a distinct form of art having a pedigree and practice of hardly more than a couple of hundred years; the short story, so far from being its offspring, is an ancient art originating in the folk tale, which was a thing of joy even before writing, not to mention printing, was invented.

A. E. Coppard, The Collected Tales Of A. E. Coppard, 1951 

Writing Quote: What Hasn't Been Done In The Horror Genre

Writing horror isn't so easy. With any type of fiction, it's difficult to think of something that hasn't already been done. With horror fiction, it's especially true. Creepy basements, loud noises from the attic, hidden rooms, Indian burial grounds, old hotels, multiple personality disorder, etc.--it's all been done before, and it's all out there. These cliches shouldn't restrain you, however. They've simply defined the space you're working in. You know what's out there, now create your own story.

Cris Freese, writersdigest.com, October 25, 2013 

Writing Quote: Ray Bradbury Called Himself A Fantasy Writer

     Ray Bradbury's rocket ships were not souped-up fighter jets. Instead, they were the latter-day descendent of Joseph Conrad's sailing ships: You traveled on them not so much to encounter adventures as to think about what the encounter might mean. His Mars was not an arid red desert, it was filled with towns where old ladies puttered around on the same kinds of charming but pointless errands little old lades do in Marcel Proust's Cambray…


     One way to sum up Ray Bradbury is to notice that he is just about the only American science fiction writer to claim, proudly, the label "fantasy" for his books. Fahrenheit 451 was his only real science fiction novel, he said. You might even locate him in a middle ground between the best American fantasy literature and the hyper-masculine world of Astounding Science Fiction. 

John Plotz, slate.com, June 6, 2012
      

Kurt Vonnegut on Male Novelists Of His Time

Male novelists don't slug and insult each other the way they used to, since they aren't a bunch of drunks any more. They would be drinking less even if it weren't for the sudden humorlessness of the judiciary with respect to driving while under the influence. Not just male writers, but male artists of every sort, are no longer pressured to prove that they are real men, even though they have artistic sensibilities. As I've said elsewhere, my father was a gun nut like Ernest Hemingway, mainly to prove that he wasn't effeminate, even though he was an architect and a painter. He didn't get drunk and slug people. Shooting animals was enough. But male American artists don't even bother to shoot off guns anymore. This is good.

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012

    

Friday, February 20, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Jail Versus Prison

Jail is the place where people awaiting trial are detained or where those convicted of minor offenses (usually those calling for detention of thirty days or under) are kept. Prison is a facility for housing those found guilty of major crimes…Prison is another term for penitentiary. 

Rod L. Evans, The Artful Nuance, 1997 

Criminal Justice Quote: Too Drunk To Drive But Not Too Drunk To Fabricate Evidence

     A man poured water onto a freezing road to try to fool police officers into thinking the cause of his drunken car crash was black ice. Twenty-year-old Bryan Byers of Sparta, New Jersey was arrested Saturday February 14, 2015 and charged with drunken driving and other offenses.

     Authorities said he hit a guardrail after running a stop sign in a BMW early that morning. Shortly after the crash, 20-year-old Alexander Zambenedetti, a friend of Byers, showed up in his own car. The two men dumped 5-gallon buckets of water onto the read to create black ice…

     An officer on patrol saw Byers walking in the road and Zambenedetti sitting in his vehicle with two buckets in the back seat around 2:45 AM. Zambendetti wasn't wearing a shirt despite a wind chill of 15 below zero.

     Mr. Byers confessed to the evidence-fabricating scheme.

"Man Created Black Ice To Mask Drunken Driving Crash," Associated Press, February 18, 2015 

Writing Quote: Depression Era Horror Fiction

The Great Depression only enhanced America's interest in things supernatural and horrifying. A number of horror-themed radio shows sprung up including "The Shadow" (1930) and "The Spider" (1933). Both spawned successful spinoffs in the form of novellas and comic books. Yet the 1930s also marked the last decade of the pulp magazine. Publisher Henry Steeger visited the French Grand Guignol Theater for inspiration and returned to revive the Dime Mystery Novels series. He added Terror Tales and Horror Stories over the next two years. All these pulps survived until 1941. The very real horrors of World War II overshadowed fictional ones. It wasn't until the 1950s that the horror genre hit its stride.

Kristin Masters, blog.bookstellingyouwhy.com, October 24, 2013 

Writing Quote: Inserting Humor Into Your Nonfiction

Sociologists, linguists and biologists say that our ability to laugh and desire to do so isn't all fun and games, but actually serves two essential life functions: to bond with members of our "tribe," and to lessen tension and anxiety. Both of these are also excellent reasons to incorporate humor in your nonfiction. As a communication tool, effective use of humor can humanize you, cementing your bond with readers. It can also help your work stand out in a crowded market. And as advertising studies have shown, humor enhances how much we like what we're reading and how well we remember it afterward.

Anne Jasheway, writersdigest.com, August 9, 2011

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Getting A Late Start

I just got rid of a short story called "The Other." Arete took it. They pay a grand. Then they asked that I might illustrate the story. I sat down and flipped out three or four drawings, took me maybe five minutes. They accepted--$400. Everything is very strange. From a total bum to all this. But something is watching me. I am always being tested. There is always the next day, the next night. I began late and I'm going to have to keep pounding. I missed a hell of a lot of years. But the luckiest thing that ever happened to me is that I didn't get lucky early.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Writing Quote: Dystopian Science Fiction

Dystopia has appeared in science fiction from the genre's inception, but the past decade has observed an unprecedented rise in its authorship. Once a literary niche within a niche, mankind is now destroyed with clockwork regularity by nuclear weapons, computers gone rogue, nanotechnology, and man-made viruses…We have plagues and we have zombies and we have zombie plagues.

Michael Solana, wired.com, August 24, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Portal Fantasy Story

The "portal fantasy" is a mainstay in the fantasy genre. In this type of novel, someone from our world discovers a pathway to another world where he or she is our relatable explorer. We discover this new world through this narrator's eyes. It's a tried and true fantasy plot.

Charlie Jane Anders, i09.com, January 26, 2012 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Tip Forger

     A former waitress has been charged with forgery and other crimes for allegedly adding $10 or $20 to tips that customers of a western Pennsylvania restaurant left when they paid with credit cards. Police in Penn Township say 30-year-old Gina Haney of North Huntingdon put the number "1" or "2" in front of single digit tips customers had scrawled on receipts. As a result, she received $10 or $20 more than those customers intended.

     Haney allegedly fudged tips on 20 one-dollar tickets at Lucci's Pizza and Pasta between September and December 2014. The restaurant's manager alerted authorities after two customers called to complain about the overcharges on the same day. He pulled other receipts from her customers that revealed more overcharges.

     Haney denied knowing anything about the inflated tips.

"Ex-Waitress Charged With Padding Customers' Tips," Associated Press, February 15, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Biased Biographer

I think the most biased biography I know of, almost viciously biased against the subject, was Lawrence Thompson's biography of Robert Frost. But Frost did not do the convenient things. Thompson took on the job of being Frost's biographer something like forty years before Frost died, and he was not allowed to publish the book until Frost was gone. That was their agreement. If Frost had died at sixty or seventy, instead of ninety, that would have been much nicer for Thompson. So there's that side of it. And Frost had some pretty unpleasant characteristics, along with tremendous charm. Thompson simply got turned off by him. There was a relationship with a woman that involved them both--they were rivals--there's nothing about that in the biography, of course. Thompson ends by attributing the worst possible motives to anything Frost did. The book is painful to read.

Scott Donaldson, themillions.com, February 27, 2012 

Writing Quote: Why The Fantasy Story Is So Appealing

     From the earliest myths and legends, through different cultures, fantasy has been with us. Think of the Arabian Nights stories, the Arthurian Romances, Spenser's The Fairie Queen, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lord Byron's Manfred, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, and George MacDonald.

     Whether these stories are set in our world or a secondary world where magical creatures and/or people exist, they all share a common theme: the exploration of the human condition. Even the much maligned medieval/quest fantasies offer their readers the chance to vicariously explore a wondrous world, battle evil and restore justice. Even a lowly Hobbit can change the course of the world by destroying the Ring.

     That is the appeal of the tolkienesque fantasy. In our modern world where politicians prove corrupt, large corporations rip off customers and terrorists kill ordinary people going about their daily lives, the traditional quest fantasy provides an antidote to cynicism. Fantasy, deriving from the word fantastic, exercises our sense of wonder.

Rowena Cory Daniells, The Australian Literature Review, June 17, 2010 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Writers, Lighten Up

"It's so easy to make money with science fiction stories that say civilization is garbage, our institutions will never be helpful, and your neighbors are all useless sheep who could never be counted on in a crisis," says David Brin, a science fiction writer who thinks we've gotten too fond of speculative technological bummers. Movies like "Blade Runner," "The Matrix," "Children of Men," and more recently "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent," all express some version of this dark world view.

     Neal Stephenson, the author of Cryponomicon, usually writes exactly those kinds of dystopian stories. In his fiction, he tends to explore the dark side of technology. But a couple of years ago he got a public wake up call.

     On stage at a writer's conference, Stephenson was complaining that there were no big scientific projects to inspire people these days. But Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, shot back, "You're the one slacking off." By "you", Crow meant science fiction writers.

Adam Wernick, pri.org, July 29, 2014 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hellementary Education Quote: Teacher Plays Kindergarten Detective Rather Than Cop

     A Florida kindergarten teacher who video-taped a boy as he beat other students on three occasions was suspended without pay. Duval County Public School officials accused Rita Baci of failing to protect her students as she recorded the beatings with her cellphone in November 2014. School administrators hit Baci with a 15-day unpaid suspension at a school board meeting on February 12, 2015.

     The 65-year-old classroom veteran was also reprimanded for using her foot to push a student out of her class and leaving him unattended in the hallway…The video Baci took showed one boy being hit about his face and body several times. Another kid was shown being kicked as he tried to hide under a table. A third student was punched and slapped on video.

     Baci said she had taken the videos for evidence of the boy's aggressive behavior in her classroom at the John E. Ford Montessori School in Jacksonville. She showed what she had recorded to an assistant principal before meeting with the disruptive child's parents. She also let other students watch the videos….

"Florida Teacher Suspended After Filming Kindergartner Beating Other Students," Fox News, February 15, 2015 

The Scofflaw And His Phantom Twin

     A New Jersey man repeatedly told local court officials they had the wrong guy, that it was his twin brother who had racked up all those traffic tickets. Court officials finally realized that Olawale Agoro used a fake name to have his court dates postponed. Olawale posed as his twin brother Tony to get new court dates for his traffic violations. As a result of his impersonation, he faced charges of hindering apprehension, false swearing and resisting arrest…

     The rouse began in July 2014 when a Maywood, New Jersey officer pulled Agoro over and issued him five traffic tickets. When he appeared in municipal court, he identified himself as Tony and said he was legally blind. However, officer Matthew Parodi, who pulled Agoro over, knew he was the same person he had stopped.

     Agoro left the courthouse and asked a man to drive his [Argoro's] car around the corner and stop. At that point the police officer saw the impostor climb in behind the wheel. Officer Parodi issued him three more tickets and his car was impounded.

     Agoro would go to the Rochelle Park, New Jersey Municipal Court where he posed as Tony and begged the clerk to grant adjournments for his brother because he was in Nigeria mourning the death of their father. After the adjournments were granted, Agoro missed a court date. That's when a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. The additional charges were filed when the authorities realized that Tony did not exist.

"New Jersey Man Posed as Twin to Avoid Court Dates," Fox News, February 15, 2015


Writing Quote: The First Novel Blues

     I completed my first novel on July 29, 2012 and spent the next two months sending it out to hundreds of agents and any publisher I could find that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Dropping over a grand on ink, paper, and postage, my days consisted of checking my email, walking to the post office, and scanning the Internet for details of any literary agency that had an address, never mind a respectable client list.

     I received dozens of rejection slips but mainly non-replies. Those that did get back to me all said the same thing: love it, but can't see it selling. After a few months I was forced to admit that my novel wasn't going to be bought for $500,000 nor for the price of a battered second-hand paperback. I was devastated. What would become of me now?

James Nolan, vice.com, April 29, 2014 

Writing Quote: Categories Within The Fantasy Genre

To name a few sub-fantasy genres: There's Epic Fantasy involving thick books and very long series; High Fantasy, usually very traditional and Tolkienesque; Dark Fantasy that mixes in horror or grim themes; Grimdark Fantasy employing a dystopian element in the world or plot; Steampunk, a mix of fantasy and old Victorian clockwork and steam elements; Arcanepunk, a blend of science fiction and fantasy; Historical Fantasy incorporating magic into historical fiction often mixed with the sword and sorcery sub-genre; and Urban Fantasy which blends the ideas of magic and myth with modern day worlds.

Joanna Penn, thecreativepenn.com, June 27, 2013 

Writing Quote: Psychological Crime Novel Protagonists

Although it's widely acknowledged that the human capacity for self-delusion is boundless, it can often be difficult to get through psychological crime novels of the "How well do you know your husband/wife/best friend?" variety without becoming so irritated by the protagonist's willful obtuseness that you end up wanted to give him, or more usually her, a good shake.

Laura Wilson, The Guardian, September 19, 2004 

Writing Quote: The Longevity Of Children's Literature

It's striking how long children's book can last. One explanation may be the way in which they're read. They become part of our emotional autobiographies, acquiring associations and memories, more like music than prose. Another explanation may lie in the fact that children's books are designed with re-reading in mind. For all children's writers are conscious that his or her books may be re-read by children themselves.

S. F. Said, The Guardian, February 16, 2015 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Literary Prizes And Grants

Guggenheim, all those prizes and grants--you know how they go--more money is given to people who already have money. I know a professor who can't write. He wins a prize every year--usually the same one--and he goes off to some island and works on some project, meanwhile still getting paid half-salary for doing nothing at the university he's supposed to be teaching at. On one of his island trips he put together an anthology, even put me in it, but didn't have the decency to send me a copy of the book.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1965-1970, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004