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Is Fingerprint Analysis Becoming More Automated?

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Each person possesses their own unique fingerprint pattern. No two prints have ever been found to be the same. This includes identical twins, who have the same DNA profile but different fingerprints. Not sure why this is, but it is. This means fingerprints are the perfect tool for identification and comparison.

But fingerprint analysis has a problem. It is subjective, in that it depends on the skill and dedication of the examiner. Another important factor is the quality of the print obtained from a crime scene. Those done in the police station, where the suspect’s prints are rolled in ink or obtained by a digital scanner, are clean and clear for the most part. Each of the ridges is easily visible and all of the nuances of prints are readily apparent. But at the crime scene, criminals refuse to cooperate in that way. They leave behind partial, smeared, and unclear prints that make analysis difficult. They also leave prints on surfaces that aren’t the best for retaining latent prints.

This makes the examination process tedious, time-consuming, and difficult. But what if computer techniques could enhance an unclear or partial print to the point that it could be compared by the computer itself? This would narrow the choices and lighten the burden on examiners so they would have more time to focus on the details and make sure the print indeed matched or didn’t.

A new technique for automating fingerprint analysis is under development. It’s pretty cool and promises to be helpful.

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IT’S ALL IN THE STORY, a Short Story Anthology From the SCWA: Details and Events

IT’S ALL IN THE STORY

A Short Story Anthology From the Southern California Writers Association (SCWA)
DP Lyle, Editor and Contributor
Release date: 10-21-17.

Grab your copy today from your local independent bookstore or online at:
https://www.amazon.com/Its-All-Story-California-Anthology/dp/0999124331/


SUSPENSE RADIO
:

Join Maddie Margarita, Steven Jackson, and DP Lyle on Suspense Radio
Saturday, October 7, 2017, at 9 a.m. Pacific
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine


LAUNCH PARTY:

Saturday 11-2-17 at 7 p.m.
Book Carnival
348 S. Tustin Street
Orange, CA
714-538-3210
Book Carnival: http://www.annesbookcarnival.com
SCWA: http://www.ocwriter.com


IT”S ALL IN THE STORY: CALIFORNIA

INTRODUCTION

Everything begins with an idea.

Whether it’s building a skyscraper, walking on the moon, or creating a work of art, the idea comes first. The dream, the vision. Then the hard work of bringing the idea to life begins.

So it was with It’s All in the Story.

The idea to publish an anthology began in late 2016 when the Southern California Writers Association (SCWA) Board of Directors approved this project, and the work began. When I was asked to serve as editor for this anthology, I was honored and enthusiastically accepted.

The SCWA provides a forum for encouraging and promoting the welfare, fellowship, spirit, and continuing education of published and unpublished writers in the Southern California area. Monthly meetings feature world-class instructors of all genres, experience, and skill levels who share their knowledge and expertise with the members.

And now, an anthology.

Sixty-four stories were submitted for evaluation. The quality of these submissions was exceptional. An editorial committee read and ranked each manuscript, and though each was worthy of inclusion, ultimately 24 were chosen for publication in this edition. During the ranking process, author identities were carefully hidden from the committee, and all rankings were based solely on merit. The result is an amazing collection of stories.

Everything begins with an idea.

This is particularly true in storytelling. It’s the classic What If? What if this happened? Or maybe that? What would happen next? How would this, or that, affect the protagonist? What responses would it invoke? What feelings and emotions would it stir? What pressures, complications, and obstacles would test the hero? This is the stuff of great fiction.

This is how every story begins, and develops.

Many believe that writing a short story is easier than

writing a novel. I mean, doesn’t creating 3000, 5000, or 10,000 words require less effort than hammering out

100,000? In many respects, this is true. A novel takes more time, there are more elements to weave together, and characters and plots must be developed more deeply.

But, with longer fiction, the writer has more “room.” Room to thoroughly explore characters, to devise more complex plots, to offer brighter descriptions, to write longer dialog exchanges, and to craft more exposition that deepens and cements the story.

In shorter fiction, there is much less room to maneuver. Each of the above elements must also be addressed but the reduced word count puts significant limitations on the author. Developing empathetic characters, interesting plot twists, sparkling dialog, and vivid settings is no less important but in shorter fiction, the telling must be economical, concise, and chiseled. No easy task.

Each of the authors who submitted stories for this

anthology faced this challenge head-on and all acquitted themselves well. Whittling the 64 submissions down to the 24 selected was a difficult process. But, in the end, the result is a compelling collection.

Each included story roots itself in California—-the

history, geography, culture, and the wonderfully quirky

folks who inhabit the “Left Coast.” The stories span from 1812 San Juan Capistrano to the California gold rush to the modern-day Newport Coast.

In this collection, you will find heroism, tragedy, humor, and both realized and broken dreams. You will “hear” many voices, and meet a host of memorable characters, each facing unique personal challenges.

A young woman, struggling with her past, unsure of her

future, and looking for that interpersonal connection that will allow her to smile again. A couple, both damaged. She by abandonment and a fractured heart; he by war, a broken body, and undeserved guilt. Can love survive that? A would-be photographer who shoots aging surf musicians and a famous-for-being-famous star, each making their own “California Promise.”

We will meet three Cal Tech nerds as they plan to break

Vegas; a concert pianist who is damaged both physically and emotionally; a pair of bank robbers who get much more than they bargained for; siblings who take their high desert “full service” gas station to an entirely new level; and even William Randolph Hearst, the vampire.

You will encounter star-crossed lovers divided by culture, race, and social standing; a fallen angel on a quest, and on the run; a demon who devours souls; and a “Kick The Bucket” tour operator as she ferries tourists past famous LA murder sites. You will meet a young boy who seeks the impossible pot of gold at the end of the rainbow only to cross paths with a digger of long-forgotten Orange County graves and a killer who must dispose of a body in a Disneyland motel. Who’s the real victim here? And so many more wonderful characters and fascinating tales.

So, I invite you inside. Get comfy, sit a spell, and enjoy these remarkable stories. Each is beautifully written, thought-provoking, and will linger with you long after the last page.

Welcome to It’s All in the Story.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction by D. P. Lyle

After the Wave Breaks—-Jo Ellen Pitzer

Angel of the Morning—-D. J. Phinney

House at Pooh Corner—-Julie Wells

California Dreamin’—-Casey Pope

Christmas in Santa Ana—-Biff (Harold D.) Baker

Earth Angel—-Maddie Margarita

Filthy Lucre—-Andrew R. Nixon

Full Service—-Steven G. Jackson

I Love California, Except for the Flakes—-Wanda Green

Just for Fun—-Glenda Brown Rynn

The Kick the Bucket Tour—-Jo Perry

Life Dies and Then You Suck—-Steven G. Jackson

Magdalena—-Lani Forbes

Solving for X—-Anne Moose

Splash—-D. P. Lyle

Steps—-Phyllis Blake

The Inevitable Avocado—-Jeffrey J. Michaels

The Quest for Avalon—-Catheryn Hull

The Unpleasantness in Room 27A—-Dana Hammer

The Untimely Death of Sweet Mims—-David Putnam

Verity’s Truth—-Maddie Margarita

You Can Bank on the Breeze—-P. J. Colando

Zolota: Another Gold Rush—-Rose de Guzman

The Mighty and Me—-Janis Thomas

BOOK DETAILS: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/its-all-in-the-story.html

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Writing

 

What Killed the Aztecs? Lessons From Typhoid Mary.

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History tells us that in 1519 Hernando Cortes reached the shores of Mexico where he encountered the Aztecs. It has been estimated that around 25 million Aztecs existed at that time. But the arrival of the conquistadors changed everything. History also indicates that two epidemics, one in the 1540s and the other in the 1570s, crippled, essentially destroyed, the Aztec Empire. It is estimated that 10 to 20,000,000 Aztecs succumbed to some form of infectious process.

The Aztecs called these epidemics cocoliztli, their word for pestilence. Historians have long argued about what caused this horrific outbreak. At various times, researchers have suggested that the culprit was measles, mumps, smallpox, and several other disorders.

It’s important to note that epidemics of this size occur when an organism is introduced into a population that has no immunity to it. The Aztecs had never confronted such infectious agents and therefore had no individual or community resistance. The same thing happened in Europe when the Plague made its appearance. The most famous of these epidemics we call The Black Death. It killed millions and changed history. Same was true for the Aztecs.

But what exactly happened?

A new study suggests that the pathogen responsible just might be Salmonella, specifically S. Paratyphi C. DNA analysis indicates that this organism can be traced back to Europe and might indeed have traveled in the bodies of the conquistadors and infected the unprotected Aztec population. More research is needed but this is an intriguing development.

You’ve heard of salmonella I’m sure. It’s occasionally picked up in contaminated food and water by travelers to foreign countries and on some occasions. it can become a devastating illness and can even be deadly. A famous US epidemic occurred in the early 1900s when Mary Mallon, a healthy carrier of the organism and a cook, spread typhoid to numerous people. She became known as Typhoid Mary and her story is very interesting. Typhoid is caused by the organism Salmonella typhi, which places it in the same family as the organism that might have taken down the Aztec Empire.

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TYPHOID MARY

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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in Cause & Manner of Death, Medical History

 

Beware: Health Food Can Kill You

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Aconite, also known as monkshood or wolfsbane, is beautiful and looks harmless. Not true. It’s a deadly poison. When ingested, it has potentially deadly cardiotoxic and neurotoxic effects. Its most often kills through the generation of deadly changes in the cardiac rhythm. Victims suffer shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, numbness and tingling of the face and other body parts, nausea, and ultimately paralysis, cardiac arrest, and sudden death. Pleasant, huh?

Aconite is easily available, not only at your local nursery but also at various health food stores where it comes in many varieties, including herbal teas. Several recent poisonings related to an aconite-containing herbal tea sold by a San Francisco company show how dangerous this chemical can be. Of course, other health food stores sell aconite and you can easily buy it on the Internet.

I always tell my patients that the second most dangerous place on earth, after a aircraft carrier deck during flight operations, is a health food store. Though most of the products they sell are mostly harmless, and mostly not helpful, some are downright deadly. Many years ago there was a Ma Huang crisis in that several people died from taking supplements laced with this material. Ma Huang is basically an amphetamine and, like aconite can cause deadly cardiac arrhythmias as well as a marked elevation of blood pressure and strokes.

The point is, none of these are regulated. The FDA, for all its warts, does indeed protect consumers. It’s very difficult to create, test, and bring a new drug to market. It cost billions and takes many years, sometimes more than a decade. The FDA requires strict proof that the medicine actually does what it’s designed to do and that its side effects and toxic potential are acceptable and well understood. This is not the case in products you buy at your local health food store. Many are mixed up by a guy named Joe in his garage in a cat box. Trust me, Joe is not a chemist, or a pharmacist, and he possesses no medical training. He might not even have a GED. But he can mix up some cool stuff and put it in fancy packaging and make it look real. And safe. And it might be. But of course, it might not.

The take-home message here is that do not accept the packaging, the product description, or its prime location at eye level on the display rack. Do your research. Find out what’s really inside and what its toxic potential is. And do not buy anything from a guy named Joe.

 

Bugging Your DNA

Mosquito

 

Everybody hates mosquitoes. They irritate, they bite, and they carry disease. In fact they are likely the most deadly creature on Earth since they spread malaria through many regions of the world. They also spread things like yellow fever and Zika – – – and a host of other nasty little problems.

But can mosquitoes place you at a crime scene? If so, how would this work?

Let’s say investigators come to a murder scene and find a smashed and dead mosquito on the bed sheets near the corpse. It might be reasonably assumed that this mosquito bit someone and that person then killed it, leaving it where it fell. Could that be used to ID the killer?

It appears that human blood can remain in the mosquito’s stomach for up to two days. And if this is extracted, it can be used in DNA profiling. So the mosquito at the crime scene could be collected and tested, and if DNA were found, a profile could be generated and lead back to the killer.

Esoteric, but fascinating.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2017 in Crime Scene, DNA, High Tech Forensics

 

Holmes, Thorndyke, Locard, Gross, and the Modern CSI

There are no bigger names in the history and development of modern crime scene investigation than French investigator Edmond Locard and his Austrian counterpart Hans Gross. These two men shaped the development of crime scene investigation and even today their techniques create the cornerstone of forensic science. Locard’s Exchange Principle underlies every forensic technique.

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EDMOND LOCARD

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HANS GROSS

They were also great fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and R. Austin Freeman’s Dr. John Evelyn Thorndyke. Locard even suggested that students of police procedure read the Sherlock Holmes stories and learn from his techniques.

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Both the real-life investigators and the fictional ones had one thing in common: the careful and meticulous approach to any crime scene, taking care to collect all useful evidence, while not damaging or contaminating it.

In my book Forensics For Dummies, the methods and techniques used to evaluate a crime scene and collect evidence are explained in great detail. Check it out if you want to know more about the techniques that saw their origin more than 100 years ago.

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DNA Solves the 80-Year-Old Death of Belgium’s King Albert I

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Belgium’s King Albert I was found dead on February 17, 1934. The experienced rock climber was found at the base of a large formation with a gash to his head. Speculation that he was murdered ran rampant. During World War I, he had resisted Germany and attempted to block German troops from entering his country. They eventually did, but he fought them every step of the way. Was Germany somehow complicit in his untimely death?

Many felt that he had been killed elsewhere and his body dumped where it was found. The evidence suggested otherwise. His glasses were found nearly 40 feet above him – – he was very far-sighted – – and his climbing rope was still attached to his body. But, the most important evidence that suggested a fall rather than a murder was blood on the leaves near the King. If this blood was indeed Albert’s, then he must have shed it at that location, meaning he was at least briefly alive when he reached the ground at the base of the rock formation. If he had been killed elsewhere and dumped, there would have been no blood around the body. Dead folks don’t bleed. The leaves were apparently collected and preserved.

Flash forward to 2014. The blood of the leaves was tested. Not only was it human blood and but also it was matched against two relatives of the King. These results suggested that the blood was indeed the King’s blood and it had likely been shed from a head injury he received from his fall. This 80-year-old “murder” case seems to be a tragic accident.

 
 
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