Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Back Where We Started From ...

About The Textbook,
The Medium Is The Massage:

If I was going to give a test on the book, I wouldn't.

If I was going to share some supposed insights, I might. They might not, however, be all that insightful.

Doesn't matter.

What I ask you to do now
dip into the book a bit more,
here and there.
If certain passages, photos or whatever inspire a thought or two, I encourage you to post them on your blogs.

Meanwhile, please check out the links below and a few more in prior posts related to work by your classmates ...

  • McLuhan Meets The Net

  • Musical Interlude, With Dolphins
  • Return Of The Junk Drawer

  • He's Back, With A New Blog ...
  • Face Behind The Tattoo

  • Complete Article
  • Secret World In The Snow

  • Complete Article
  • Who's That Wizard?

  • Complete Article
  • Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Couldn't Keep It To Myself / I'll Fly Away / Barbara Parsons

    Re: guest in class,
    Thurs., April 10, 2008
    Barbara Parsons

    CBS News Transcripts
    May 9, 2004 Sunday
    SHOW: 60 Minutes (7:00 PM ET) - CBS

    Couldn't Keep It To Myself; Female inmates in Connecticut correctional facility find they're penalized by the state after having received acclaim for contributions to published writings


    STEVE KROFT, co-host:

    The book, "Couldn't Keep It To Myself," is an anthology of stories written by female inmates doing hard time in Connecticut's only maximum security prison for women. But the story of how this critically acclaimed book came to be, and what happened to the women who wrote it afterwards, is as interesting as the book itself. The women weren't profiting from their crimes; they didn't write about their crimes. They wrote about their lives and they did it so well, a few weeks ago, the literary organization Pen gave one of the imprisoned writers its most prestigious award. But what's truly amazing is the state of Connecticut's reaction, both to the publication of the book and to the award.

    (Footage of bookstore and copies of book; photos of female inmates; Wally Lamb working at his computer; correctional facility; inmates; Lamb talking with inmates)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) "Couldn't Keep It To Myself" hit bookstores 16 months ago. It was praised by the critics and enjoyed a modest commercial success, selling about 27,000 copies. The 10 inmates who wrote it had all committed serious crimes: Bonnie Foreshaw is serving 45 years without parole for first degree murder; Michelle Jessamy, 20 years for manslaughter; Carolyn Adams, five years for embezzlement. But every one of them has a story, a story that never would have been told if not for this man. Wally Lamb is the best-selling author of "She's Come Undone" and "I Know This Much Is True." Five years ago, he agreed to volunteer at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut, after a rash of suicides and cutbacks in educational and rehabilitative services. Lamb's weekly writing workshop quickly became one of the prison's few success stories.

    Mr. WALLY LAMB: And what happened is they began to see that if they wrote, sooner or later they would get to the tough stuff, the stuff that they needed to write about.
    I want you to listen to Brenda's piece with paper and pencil and...
    (Footage of Lamb talking with inmates in workshop setting)
    KROFT: (Voiceover) Not only did Lamb teach them a valuable skill, he encouraged the inmates to write about their most personal experiences, things they'd never told anyone, let alone put down on paper.

    Unidentified Inmate: I wrote about the time I tried to commit suicide.

    (Footage of female inmates; three former inmates walking down stairs)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) We wanted to talk to some of the inmates who were taking part in the program but the prison doesn't allow on-camera interviews. So we tracked down three former inmates who'd been in the writing program before being released from prison: Robin Cullen, Tabatha Rowley and Nancy Whitely.
    KROFT: What were you in for?

    Ms. NANCY WHITELY: Credit card fraud.

    Ms. TABATHA ROWLEY: Assault. Assault first.

    Ms. ROBIN CULLEN: I had a DUI crash, and in that crash, my girlfriend died.

    KROFT: So what was the York Correctional Institute like?

    Ms. WHITELY: It looks nice, but you're at the mercy of guards who treat you however they feel like at that moment. In prison, you can--you can lay there, and it's all right with them if you just lay there. So if you want to do anything positive, if you want to learn or change or grow, you have to fight to do it.

    (Footage of inmates sitting at tables)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) But the writing program was worth fighting for, providing one of the few opportunities in the prison for growth and rehabilitation.

    Ms. CULLEN: What I watched was transformation. I saw women that just, you know, they came in damaged, broken. And they--they just started to open up bloom into beautiful flowers, brand new people.

    Mr. LAMB: I'm not a therapist, but I could see that there was therapeutic value in the writing. People's body language began to change, people's level of articulation.

    (Footage of Lamb talking with Judith Regan)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) After a few years, Lamb was so impressed with the women's progress he read one of the stories to Judith Regan, his editor at Harper Collins.

    Mr. LAMB: And by the end of this piece, she had tears in her eyes. And she said to me, 'Maybe we could do a book.'
    KROFT: Did any of you ever think that you would end up being published writers?

    Ms. ROWLEY: No.

    Ms. WHITELY: No.

    Ms. CULLEN: We talked about doing a book and we were picturing this little paperback thing stapled or with one of those spirally bindl--binders.

    Ms. WHITELY: Yes.

    (Footage of copies of book; Whitely, Cullen and Rowley; Lamb working at computer)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) But this was the real deal. Harper Collins bought the book for $75,000, to be split among the contributors. After all was said and done, each of the women would receive $5600 when they were released from prison. Lamb made sure that state and prison officials were notified about the book deal, hoping they would embrace this unlikely success story. But he didn't hear a word until a few days before the books reached the stores.

    Instead of embracing the women for their accomplishment, the state of Connecticut decided to go after them with a vengeance. The attorney general invoked a vaguely worded law that allows the state to charge inmates for their own incarceration. And the state sued the women, not for the $5600 that they'd made on the book deal, but for $117 a day for every day they would spend in prison.

    (Footage of copy of lien)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) One inmate had a lien placed against her assets for $913,000. Another for $473,000. And to make things worse, the papers were served by uniformed sheriff's deputies.

    Ms. CULLEN: And my first reaction when I see this guy with the badge is, somebody's coming to take me back to jail.

    KROFT: So the prison wanted you to pay them back for the time that you had spent in prison?

    Ms. CULLEN: Yeah.

    KROFT: How much?

    Ms. CULLEN: My bill was, I believe, $139,000.

    KROFT: Then you got one?

    Ms. ROWLEY: Yes, I did. A bill for $143,000.

    KROFT: Did you have $143,000?

    Ms. ROWLEY: I've never had $143,000.

    Ms. WHITELY: I say all the time, you know, if I'd known it was so expensive, I wouldn't have stayed so long, you know? But it's scary because I didn't know if they were going to take some of my pay.

    Ms. ROWLEY: I feel the same way because I was told that they could take any asset you have.

    (Footage of Blumenthal working in his office; correctional facility)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he had no choice but to enforce the law, which allows the state to recovery room and board from any inmate who comes into money while he or she is in prison or after they leave it, whether through inheritance, lottery winnings, proceeds from their crimes or financial windfall.

    If you look at the facts, this is a case where people were punished for doing well, right?

    Mr. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: These women were punished for committing homicide, manslaughter, drug trafficking, fraud. The action against them was simply to vindicate the public interest in collecting cost of incarceration when prisoners have the means to pay for it.

    KROFT: What made the Department of Corrections, or your office, believe that these women could afford to pay for their entire cost of their incarceration?

    Mr. BLUMENTHAL: They were writing a book with a best selling, prize winning author. We felt that they might have the means to pay for incarceration.

    KROFT: At the time that you filed the lawsuit, any investigation would have shown that they were getting $5,000 for this, and that the program itself was therapeutic and rehabilitative.

    Mr. BLUMENTHAL: In this instance, the irony is that the folks who knew most about publishing and movies thought this book would be a huge hit, a best-seller.

    Ms. ROWLEY: Seems like they're trying to make us feel bad about what we did, that we're still, you know, bad people. You wrote a book. So what? You know, you're still a criminal.

    Ms. WHITELY: I didn't spend my whole life doing positive things, you know, so the first time I do something positive, instead of people saying, 'Great job, you know, you did something positive,' they come and bring you papers.

    (Footage of Lamb signing books; Pen headquarters)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) For more than a year, Wally Lamb and the lawyers at Harper Collins tried, to no avail, to convince the attorney general to drop or settle the lawsuits. Finally, the literary organization Pen, which takes up the causes of persecuted writers around the world, became involved, suggesting that one of the still-imprisoned writers be nominated for a major award.

    Mr. LAMB: The women had exercised their free speech, and then been punished for it. I--I had wanted to nominate the women as a group, but the rules said no, you must nominate an individual.
    Barbara, one of her...

    (Footage of Lamb working with inmates)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) Lamb decided on Barbara Parsons Lane, a former housewife who is serving 10 years on manslaughter charges for killing her husband after years of verbal, physical and emotional abuse. She entered the prison in 1996 under a suicide watch and for two years, could barely speak.

    Ms. BARBARA PARSONS LANE: When she was in the hospital, how did she get there?
    (Footage of Lamb working with inmates)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) But through the writing program, she's became a model prisoner, not to mention an accomplished writer.

    Mr. LAMB: She has found voice and not only has she found it but she has been willing to share that with other people.

    (Footage of gala)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) And a few weeks ago, at a New York gala featuring literary lions from around the world, Pen awarded Barbara Parsons Lane a $25,000 prize in absentia for fighting to safeguard the right to self-expression. The award was sponsored by AE Hotchner and Paul Newman, one of Connecticut's most celebrated residents. But the story was far from over.

    Just days after it was announced that Lane had won the prestigious award for exercising her freedom of speech, the prison responded by suspending the writing program, confiscating all computer discs used in the writing program and removing all information about the writing program from the hard drives of prison's computers.

    Mr. LAMB: I was beside myself. I mean, somebody wins a First Amendment award, a freedom of speech award, and you say--you say, delete the writing? I mean, it just--it was--it was incredible to me.

    (Footage of copy of letter; Blumenthal working at desk)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) At Pen's behest, and with a copy of a prison memorandum ordering the writing class suspended effective immediately and the confiscation of the inmates' writing, we began asking questions and ask for interviews. Almost immediately, Connecticut officials began back-pedaling. Attorney General Blumenthal, who hopes to become Governor Blumenthal, promised a full investigation.

    Mr. BLUMENTHAL: Destruction of property, particularly written property, is totally unacceptable, and we are investigating.

    KROFT: So you condemn the behavior if--if, in fact, it happened?

    Mr. BLUMENTHAL: If there was destruction of files or writings or any prisoner property, I would condemn it and I would prosecute it.

    (Footage of Theresa Lantz)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) Theresa Lantz, the commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Correction, insisted she didn't know anything about it either, and now says that all of the inmates' writing that was deleted has since been recovered. She told us it was all a big misunderstanding.

    Ms. THERESA LANTZ: We're very proud of the program, we're very appreciative of Wally Lamb's work and his volunteering to do this program for the last five years. I think it definitely has a rehabilitative impact.

    KROFT: Why, After Barbara Parsons Lane won the Pen Award, why did the department try and shut down the program?

    Ms. LANTZ: Well, it wasn't an attempt to shut down the program. There was no attempt by that staff or--or myself to shut down the program and terminate it, but basically to get everybody back together to talk about, you know, communication.

    KROFT: So what we have here is a failure to communicate.

    Ms. LANTZ: I think we definitely had a breakdown of communication, absolutely.

    (Footage of gala)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) Commissioner Lantz said the Pen Award had taken the prison by surprise because Wally Lamb never told them he had nominated Barbara Parsons Lane.

    Ms. LANTZ: We don't like a lot of surprises. I'm going to admit that to you. And we want to make sure that we don't get surprised a lot.

    KROFT: Wasn't this a pleasant surprise?

    Ms. LANTZ: It was a surprise, nonetheless, because it was a very prestigious award. It created a sense of notoriety and/or prestige for the inmate. You want to make sure that, you know, that very thing is in place and that there's--that it doesn't create any issues or concerns.

    KROFT: What kind of issues or concerns would it create for the prison?

    Ms. LANTZ: Someone getting a notoriety and a--and a--and a high amount of an award, such as $25,000, we would just want to make sure that that individual wasn't in any way, shape, or form being compromised.

    KROFT: Compromised in what way?

    Ms. LANTZ: Her safety.

    KROFT: Her safety?

    Ms. LANTZ: Mm-hmm.

    KROFT: So you were worried that other inmates might try and shake her down?

    Ms. LANTZ: Well, that's always a possibility.

    Ms. ROWLEY: I think that's a bunch of crap because--I mean, for one, I mean, we are--we came out with the book, OK? And people somehow think that we're getting all this money. There are women in prison that are part of the writers group. No one ever tried to do anything to them.

    Ms. WHITELY: And if stuff like that's going on in their prison, maybe they should be doing some other stuff than worrying about the writing program.

    Ms. ROWLEY: Uh-huh.

    Ms. WHITELY: And secondly, how does closing the writing program stop people from asking Barbara Lane for money?

    (Footage of Blumenthal holding a press conference)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) A few days before our interview, Attorney General Blumenthal held a news conference to announce that the writing program had been reinstated, and the lawsuits seeking millions of dollars from the prison writers had been had been dropped after concluding that the money that the women had received from the book was minimal and had been earned through a rehabilitative program.

    Ms. CULLEN: And now we're reading in the paper how proud they are of us. We're not feeling like they're proud of us. We're feeling like they're, you know, they're covering their butts.

    KROFT: So you're saying that the Pen Award and the calls from 60 MINUTES and all of the--the really bad publicity didn't have anything to do with your decision to settle this lawsuit?

    Mr. BLUMENTHAL: We knew we would face exactly the question that you've asked. 'Isn't it "60 MINUTES"?"Isn't it the Pen Award?' But my feeling was that we should do the right thing.

    KROFT: In this case, the right thing requires each of the inmates who shared in the proceeds of the book to pay the state of Connecticut $500, not the hundreds of thousands of dollars the state had originally sought. And almost all of that money will go to the prison writing program, the same one the state tried to shut down.

  • Minister: Book Is A Much Needed Eye Opener

  • I'll Fly Away On Book TV

  • Making The Walls Transparent, Connecticut

  • Connecticut's Prison Gravy Train
  • Monday, March 24, 2008

    Cover-Ups In New London & Waterbury

    Two Cases
    Did Not
    Want To Solve

    Monday, 3-24-08

    Hi folks,

    this follows material on the Smolinkski case in Waterbury
    and essays on how to get information from cops, prosecutors
    and others in the criminal world.

    in both the Smolinski and Showalter cases,
    authorities failed to act.

    the discerning digger, aka reporter,
    would want to find out why.

    as you prepare to question Jan Smolinski, mother of missing person Billy Smolinski,
    also take a look at the Showalter case in New London.

    Later, Andy

    in both cases, authorities eventually were forced to act by reporters...

    Note: The following columns ran in 2000 in The Connecticut Law Tribune. They build on work published about 30 years ago in The Norwich Bulletin, The Hartford Courant and by United Press International.

    Hit-And-Run Continues To Mock Justice

    If Connecticut Chief State's Attorney John Bailey wants to bring closure to cold cases, here's one from New London that should top the list: The Showalter hit-and-run cover-up is a dark chapter in Connecticut history, a tale more appropriate for a Third World country.

    And yet, only one thing bothers former New London County State's Attorney C. Robert Satti about the Showalter case: that it was investigated at all.

    Satti, now retired, made the point again and again, most recently this year. Satti's complaint, made during the wake of the late state police Detective George Ryalls, was that Ryalls' obituary mentioned the suspect the prosecutor refused to pursue in the Showalter probe.

    Kevin B. Showalter, a 20-year-old Mitchell College student, was killed at 11:12 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1973. He was changing a tire on a well-lit section of Pequot Avenue on the New London shoreline when he was struck and killed. His girlfriend, sitting only 6 feet away on a stone wall, claims she saw nothing.

    Auto body putty from the death car disappeared after a tow truck driver gave it to New London police. The evidence file that was supposed to contain the putty was stuffed with bathroom tiles. The file that was supposed to contain headlight glass from the death car instead contained glass from three different headlights. State police and others suspected that, in order to throw legitimate investigators off the trail, the late young man's clothing was pounded on a different-colored car than the one that killed him.

    The victim's mother, Lucille M. Showalter, tried to get a grand jury investigation of the cover-up. She was rebuffed repeatedly by the presiding judge, Angelo Santaniello who, it later became clear, was best friends with the leading suspect. Santaniello then referred Showalter to prosecutor Satti, who happened to be his former law partner. Satti refused to acknowledge registered letters from Mrs. Showalter pleading for a grand jury probe.

    Satti did finally meet with Mrs. Showalter in 1978, after Judge Joseph Dannehy of Willimantic, acting as a one-man grand jury, named former New London Mayor Harvey N. Mallove as the probable driver of the hit-run vehicle. Satti called the three-hour meeting, in which he repeatedly told Mrs. Showalter that there never should have been a grand jury investigation under Dannehy.

    Mallove held a good hand; he had the best legal muscle in New London County on his side. New London police would not question him for more than seven months, and then only in a perfunctory manner. They would say they inspected his cars, but they did not. Significantly, Mallove's Lincoln had been repaired, but it wasn't until state police took over the case four years after the accident that the fender was finally seized.

    Santaniello would arrange for a coroner's inquest and put his niece in charge of typing the transcript. Only after two years of intense public pressure would the transcript be typed. But the inquest never issued a finding.

    Santaniello tipped off Mallove that he was a suspect. The judge was also aware of what local police knew about the case. Mrs. Showalter memorialized the admissions in tape-recorded telephone conversations.

    "I did talk to Harvey," Santaniello told Mrs. Showalter on Oct. 17, 1975, "and I said, `You're suspected.' As a matter of fact, at that time a police officer came to him on the same day or the next day, and told him you were making accusations about him and that he was a prime suspect." The day before, Mallove told Mrs. Showalter, "Judge Santaniello is of the opinion that you fingered me."

    It was not until 1977 that state police, who took over the case at the behest of former Gov. Ella Grasso, formally named Mallove a suspect. Next week, I'll propose a means to solve the Showalter cover-up.

    Showalter Cover-Up Is New London's Shame

    New London, where I grew up and began working in the 1960s and '70s, was a dirty little city with character.

    It had a restaurant called the Hygienic that was everything but. There were at least a couple bars where the cops couldn't do anything, except maybe a little business.
    The top pimp in town never went to jail until he was about 60 and a certain court official retired.

    New London will always be the city that tried to cover up the Christmas Eve 1973 hit-and-run death of Kevin B. Showalter. It's been doing a pretty good job for nearly 27 years, but the onion is beginning to peel.

    The local daily newspaper admitted -- in its official history published this year -- that it did a shoddy job on the Showalter case. Specifically, The Day admitted its failure to explore the relationship between a former mayor and a top judge, and their influence on the course of the criminal investigation. That's a beginning.

    Political and police corruption goes back a couple generations in New London. By the 1970s, New London police were widely known to be involved in the selling of women, dope and refrigerators, among other things. A federal grand jury took note. But as with the Showalter case, there were these little problems with the evidence.

    A jewelry store owner and former city mayor multi-millionaire Harvey Mallove was the prime suspect in the hit-and-run death of Showalter, a student at Mitchell College. Showalter's date that night, Christmas Eve 1973, said she saw nothing from her vantage point six feet away, sitting on a stone wall under a streetlight on a residential street as a young man changed the tire of her car.

    Harvey was everybody's pal. He would take kids to the Super Bowl, then, down the road, get them jobs as cops. He was friends with bums in the street and bums in high political office. He was wired. The standing joke among reporters became: Harvey's a great guy to have a beer with, just don't change your tire if he's driving by.

    "I didn't kill the kid in any way, shape or form," Harvey told me many times. As mayor, Harvey helped hire a few police chiefs. His best friend was the administrative judge for the county; that was the judge who controlled the early stages of the investigation, specifically a coroner's inquest that never issued a finding.

    State police followed up a report that Mallove's best friend, County Administrative Judge Angelo G. Santaniello, was with Mallove on Christmas Eve 1973. Santaniello reportedly was No. 11 on a guest list for a party at the home of his political mentor, the late state Sen. Peter Mariani. The Mariani party was one of two Mallove attended that night.

    Santaniello told reporters he never went out on Christmas Eve.

    Another state judge, Joseph F. Dannehy, conducted two grand jury investigations. In 1978, Dannehy named Mallove as the probable driver of the hit-run vehicle, but said evidence that might have ensured conviction was either mishandled or destroyed.

    Mallove died a few years ago with this legacy. Others still have time to come clean and tell the truth about the cover-up. Mrs. Showalter tried unsuccessfully to have Satti, Santaniello and others prosecuted for hindrance of prosecution (CGS Section 53a-166) warning of impending discovery, providing means of avoiding discovery, preventing discovery by deception. Because a conspiracy to hinder prosecution is an ongoing crime, those with information could tell Chief State's Attorney John Bailey, who has begun an initiative to solve some of the state's cold homicide cases.

    Isn't it time? No one kept the system honest when it counted, though some tried. Most stood by as the system that was supposed to protect the victim and his family betrayed them all.

    Where is the conscience of the community?

    Cold Case On Ice Forever

    One way to deflect attention from a suspect is to get investigators involved in meaningless, time-consuming tasks. Another way is to create a bogus suspect who is then exposed as such, causing a belief that the case is just too hazy to pursue.

    Both of these devices were used repeatedly in the cover-up of the Showalter hit-run case in New London. Whether this was happenstance, indifference, incompetence or malfeasance, the result was the same. The system failed.

    And now, it seems, the truth will remain buried forever.

    Judge Joseph F. Dannehy, the grand juror who investigated the case, wrote in his finding of fact: "After December 25, 1973, the New London Police Department did virtually nothing to solve the hit-run death of Kevin B. Showalter." The accident occurred the night before.

    Local police and court officials, however, were pro-active in another sense. Their actions served to protect the assailant.

    For example, New London police claimed it would cost as much as $1,200 to trace vehicles using data from the state Motor Vehicle Department. The motor vehicle department declared there was no such charge.

    Nevertheless, New London police spent their time hand-sorting local motor vehicle cards. They looked for a green Chrysler. That was likely a false lead; state police said paint particles found on the victim's clothing did not come from the car that killed him.

    Former Mayor Harvey Mallove began meeting informally with police and court officials as early as Dec. 25, 1973. Mallove wanted to know what the police knew.

    The only lead after two and a half years was quashed by then New London Common Pleas Court Prosecutor Harold Dean in May 1976. The lead was a letter of confession written by a Somers prison inmate to the victim's mother, Lucille Showalter.

    "I told Harold how important that was to me," Mallove, the prime suspect, confided to an associate. He also acknowledged discussing the purported confession with his best friend, the presiding judge for the county, Angelo Santaniello.

    The author of the letter was known to be connected with "fences," or purveyors of stolen goods in the New London area. State police arrested him for harassment of Mrs. Showalter. Two state troopers met with Dean for an hour. They told him the letter contained possibly significant information. State police also believed they could connect the dots in New London between the letter writer and the powers-that-be. Did he owe some favors? Was he paid? Police knew the author had no liability for the accident; he was actually in Florida at the time of the hit-run.

    Dean nolled and dismissed the case without telling the troopers or Mallove. Soon thereafter, state police listed the killing of Showalter as "closed pending further development." Upon learning of Dean's action, Chief State's Attorney Joseph Gormley remarked he had "no idea" why the lead, "which very well could have led to something," resulted in a dead end. The case would remain closed for six months, until Gov. Ella Grasso brought the matter to Justice John Cotter.

    Was there criminal activity connected with the Showalter cover-up? It appears we will never know for certain. Dannehy named Mallove as the probable driver, noting that evidence which might have ensured conviction was destroyed. The Chief State's Attorney's Office reviewed aspects of the case this fall after a series of columns appeared in The Law Tribune. However, the statute of limitations for the most likely potential charge, conspiracy to hinder prosecution of motor vehicle misconduct, has expired. This shameful case, it appears, is destined to stay on ice forever.

    Smolinski case, ongoing, Waterbury:

  • Link To Major Development

  • &

  • CBS Without A Trace

  • Friday, Sept. 14, 2007


    We first told you about Billy Smolinski a year ago. He disappeared from his Waterbury, Conn. home in August, 2004 after breaking up with his girlfriend.

    CBS News Correspondent Bianca Solorzano got an update from investigators, and the missing man's family.

    Smolinsksi was 31 when he vanished.

    He had just returned from a trip to Florida with his girlfriend. The next night, he told his sister that his girlfriend was having an affair with a local politician. They argued and broke up.

    Smolinski's sister, Paula Bell recalls that, "I said, 'Well, what are you going to do" And he just said, 'What am I going to do?'"

    Authorities say Smolinski was last seen at his home. His next-door neighbor says he asked him to watch his dog for a few days, because he was headed north to look at a car he wanted to buy. His truck was found in his driveway, his keys and wallet were under his front seat.

    That, says Solorzano, is where Smolinski's trail ends.

    The FBI calls it a difficult case.

    "Essentially," says Special Agent Bill Aldenberg, "the man just disappeared off the face of the Earth."

    He says there's been no sign of Smolinski but, "There are suspects, based on tips and based on interviews and based on investigations that we've conducted."

    The bureau was tipped off and, in the spring, searched in Shelton, about 20 miles from Waterbury. Agensts looked for evidence near several homes, dug up a driveway, and also searched near a river, but found nothing.

    The Smolinskis, Solorzano points out, have never stopped searching.

    They posted thousands of missing person flyers but, in a strange twist, found Smolinski's ex-girlfriend tearing them down.

    At the time, local police say, she was not a suspect.

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Rave For The Prodigy

  • Complete Article
  • Profile Of a Young Writer

  • Complete Article
  • Die, Barbie, Die!

  • Complete Article
  • Mosh Pit Rating System

  • Complete Article
  • Defeating Demons

  • Complete Article
  • How School Is Like Jail

    A Reader Comments:
    The issues are candy in schools and whether students are talking smack on their blogs? What does this say about the management?

    Editor's Note:

    The school system even has a paid mouthpiece to spew tripe and propaganda ...

    Young candy buyer finds penalty unduly bitter

    By Elizabeth Benton
    New Haven Register Staff

    NEW HAVEN — Sheridan Communications and Technology Middle School eighth-grader Michael Sheridan was suspended from school for three days, barred from attending an honors student dinner and stripped of his title of class vice president.

    His offense?

    He bought a bag of Skittles.

    The punishment was meted out because the New Haven school system banned candy sales and fundraisers in 2003 as part of the districtwide school wellness policy.

    "There are no candy sales allowed in schools, period," said school spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo.

    Sullivan-DeCarlo said, while candy sales are strictly prohibited, there could be some that slip through.

    Michael's mother, Shelli Sheridan, is lobbying to reduce her son's punishment, claiming he's a top student with no previous disciplinary problems. According to Shelli Sheridan, the student who sold the candy, whom she did not identify, also was suspended.

    "Why did we go to that extreme?" she said.

    While Michael's suspension was reduced to one day, he has yet to be reinstated as class vice president, she said.

    "It's too much. It's too unfair," Shelli Sheridan said. "He's never even had a detention."

    Michael Sheridan claims he was in a school hallway after lunch Feb. 26 when a classmate asked if he wanted some candy. The student had a lunch box filled with candy and a wad of money, he said.

    While Michael said he was unaware the sale was against school policy, he admitted the student selling it "was being secretive." When a school administrator noticed the transaction, Michael said the student "threw the candy." He said he pocketed the Skittles, still not sure anything was wrong.

    Michael said the administrator asked to see the contents of his pockets. At that moment, Michael said he realized he was in trouble.

    According to Sullivan-DeCarlo, Sheridan School had a problem with candy fundraisers last fall, and Principal Eleanor Turner "made it clear for
    months this was not to happen."

    Turner had repeatedly warned students that she would not allow any candy to be sold in schools, nor did she want money changing hands in school, said Sullivan-DeCarlo. She said it was her understanding that the student was suspended for insubordination, which is what the district considered the candy exchange.

    Aside from the nutrition issue, Sullivan-DeCarlo maintained the money students carry presents a security concern.

    A copy of the district's policy given to the New Haven Register Tuesday says that "no candy or junk food fundraisers will be allowed on school grounds" and that only "healthy snacks will be sold in vending machines selling food products." It also prohibits bake sales and other food sales during school hours. The policy does not address snacks shared between students at school when no money changes hands.

    Turner referred all comment on the case to Sullivan-DeCarlo.

    *Elizabeth Benton can be reached at 789-5714 or*

    CNN Update

  • Text & Video
  • What To Say To The Cops, Besides Lawyer, Name, I Don't Consent To A Search ...

    Via Judy Aron,
    Consent of the Governed

  • Video & Narrative: Several Scenarios

  • Adventure With The West Hartford PD
  • New Thriller By Pam Lewis [of Poets & Writers For Avery]


    "Pam Lewis is the literary equivalent of a forensic scientist. In her compelling second novel, Perfect Family, Lewis pulls the body of a beautiful young woman from a lake, then, layer by suspenseful layer, unpeels and reveals a well-to-do family's secrets, lies, and hidden heartaches. I was riveted."
    --Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of author of She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True

    "Lewis skillfully lures the reader through her narrative maze with plenty of plot twists."
    --Publishers Weekly

    Few authors manage to combine the page-turning suspense and emotional intensity of a riveting thriller with the fine qualities of literary fiction. Acclaimed author Pam Lewis did exactly that with her debut novel, Speak Softly, She Can Hear, which garnered rave reviews, formidable sales, and a substantial following. Readers loved her powerful blend of literary fiction and heart-pounding action; the New York Post called it "gripping…with a freshness that sets it apart from the thriller genre…Once begun, it's a hard book to let go of." Her sophomore effort, PERFECT FAMILY (Simon & Schuster, April 8, 2008, $25.00), the tale of an upper-class New England family besieged by tragedy and deception, will prove to be an equally provocative literary page-turner about a proper New England [West Hartford] family and the dark secrets that undo them.

    The Carterets are an established industrialist family coasting on their declining wealth, but still in possession of a high opinion of themselves. Headed by patriarch Jasper, they are a close-knit clan, used to official family meetings and secret agreements. Though he maintains a strained relationship with Jasper, William, the eldest of the four adult children, is close to sisters Tinker, the family caretaker, and Mira, the moody, thoughtful one. However Pony Carteret-the lovely, headstrong, youngest member of the Carteret family-has always been his favorite. Happy-go-lucky, vibrant and athletic, she's also known as the family's strongest swimmer. So when she is discovered drowned at the family's summer home on Lake Aral, Vermont, her red hair tangled in an anchor chain and her baby abandoned on shore, her family is stunned by disbelief.

    As the police conduct their investigation, Jasper, calls an urgent family meeting to address his doubts about Pony's death. Why had she been swimming away from shore when her infant son Andrew lay unprotected on the beach? How had she managed to drown in a lake she knew so very well? And who was the stranger that their neighbor, a teenage boy, had seen with her on shore? Had any of her siblings known that Pony would be at the house that day? Was she having personal problems, was she depressed? Had she ever revealed the true identity of her baby's father?

    Ultimately, the police rule the drowning an accident. Unsatisfied with the official explanation, William sets out to discover the truth of Pony's death. His investigations quickly lead him to a new and more daunting series of questions, not only about the mysteries in Pony's life but also about the shadowy details of his deceased mother's past and even his own. Before long, he has opened a Pandora's box of family secrets, including one dangerous fact his mother has kept hidden for a generation.

    His two surviving sisters keep their own secrets from the rest of the family. Tinker is called on to look after baby Andrew, but meanwhile her marriage quietly dissolves; Mira, lost in a fugue of sadness, becomes entangled with a disturbing friend of Pony's. Even the revered Jasper proves to hold a mysterious past. William's probing ultimately casts doubt on his own parentage, and the entire edifice of family unity and privilege begins to crumble. Beneath these deceptions lies the secret of Pony's death, a secret which may claim William's life as well. In a frantic, pulse-racing finale, William must confront a demon from a past he never imagined and choose a future that may hold an entirely new existence.

    Pam Lewis's PERFECT FAMILY is a masterful, atmospheric tale that delves into ways in which family secrets, no matter how long they're buried, can wield tremendous power. Keenly observed and carefully plotted, this novel is an explosive new entry into the literary thriller genre. Pam Lewis wowed critics and readers alike with her first novel and is sure to win new fans with this extraordinary second book.


    Pam Lewis lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Rob Funk. Her lifelong fascination with water and with family secrets is at the root of Perfect Family. Since 1991, she has worked as a freelance writer of business and marketing communications. She is the author of the novel, Speak Softly, She Can Hear. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and various literary magazines.


    By Pam Lewis
    Published by Simon & Schuster
    Publication Date: April 8, 2008
    ISBN-10: 0-7432-9145-X; ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-9145-3
    Price: $25.00

  • Author Photo & Jacket link at publisher

  • Simon & Schuster
  • Thursday, March 6, 2008

    The Big Read

  • Hartford Public Library & Sam Spade

  • National Endowment For The Arts

  • -
    The enduring 'Falcon'

    Oline H. Cogdill
    Mystery columnist
    South Florida Sun Sentinel
    March 4, 2008

    It has been called the greatest private detective novel. While that sounds like hyperbole, few mysteries have rivaled Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon since it was published 78 years ago.

    Hammett's novel has spawned three movies, including the classic 1941 version; plays for radio and stage; comics; numerous reference books; several spoofs and thousands of essays. This month, The Maltese Falcon will attract renewed interest in 15 communities across the United States as part of The Big Read, a program launched by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Florida Center for the Book in Broward County will focus on The Maltese Falcon with countywide events, including book and film discussions and cultural programs.

    The Big Read is a fitting honor for The Maltese Falcon, which hasn't been out of print since its publication in 1930. With its flawed hero, interesting (and unusual) villains and intricate plot, The Maltese Falcon set up a template that still endures in the private-detective genre.

    The story encompasses three of the major mystery plot motivations: greed, power and lust. Sam Spade, a tough-as-nails private detective with dubious ethics, is pulled into the hunt for a jewel-encrusted statue of a falcon that dates to the Crusades. Whether the statue exists or is merely a myth adds layers of duplicity and betrayal to the tale.

    The Maltese Falcon remains as modern as ever — a timeless story equally at home in two centuries. It's rooted in the era in which it is set — 1928 — yet also seems a part of the 21st century. The novel's San Francisco locations not only still exist, but several current walking tours will take visitors to the sites mentioned. A strong sense of sexuality — both straight and gay — permeates the tale, which paradoxically also seems downright chaste because there are no graphic sex scenes.

    Coming after World War I, the novel reflects a new fascination with exotic locales, a realization that the world was getting smaller and that travel to Asia and Africa was within anyone's grasp. The falcon's heritage — steeped in the myth of knights, holy wars and icons — is a forerunner of today's thrillers wrapped around historical lore, right up to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

    The Maltese Falcon has some of the genre's most quoted lines. Yet the most famous of them — "the stuff dreams are made of" — doesn't appear in Hammett's novel. The phrase, adapted from Shakespeare's The Tempest, is only uttered by Humphrey Bogart at the end of the 1941 movie, yet it perfectly sums up the story.

    Samuel Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) was called "the dean of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction" in his New York Times obituary. Hammett himself would have made a good character for his novels; the Times obit quotes an unidentified writer who said "Hammett's work was not fiction but 'life magnified.'"

    Hammett spent eight years as a Pinkerton agent. He suffered from a lung ailment — the result of tuberculosis contracted while serving overseas in World War I — yet he was a chain smoker and an alcoholic. During the 1950s, he spent six months in jail for contempt of court stemming from his affiliation with several left-wing causes. His refusal to cooperate during Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee led to 300 of his novels being removed from State Department libraries around the world. The books were returned after President Eisenhower said publicly that they should not have been removed.

    Hammett's clean, lean prose often has been compared to Hemingway's, and vice versa.

    He wrote only five novels, all published within five years, as well as scores of short stories and novellas. His most famous character, Sam Spade, appeared only in Hammett's third novel and, later, a few short stories.

    Pre-Hammett, the genre was filled with upper-class sleuths or little old ladies who dabbled in detection. Hammett moved the genre from the urbane drawing rooms to the gritty urban streets, a trend that continues.

    But stereotypes of women and gays that would take some 40 years to unravel abound in The Maltese Falcon. In Spade's world, women are either pure — and sexually unattainable — or sexually active and therefore suspect.

    The view of homosexuality is even more troubling. In the novel it's quite clear that villain Joel Cairo is gay, and his sexuality is subject to ridicule and pejoratives. Genre experts maintain that the word "gunsel," used to refer to the young gangster Wilber, had two meanings — a gun-toting felon and an inexperienced homosexual.

    Those stereotypes persisted until Joseph Hansen introduced an openly gay detective in 1970's Fadeout,and Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and Marcia Muller invented strong women private detectives during the early 1980s.

    Hammett didn't invent the hard-boiled style of mysteries, but he did make readers take notice of it. And The Maltese Falcon is still making readers take notice.

    Oline Cogdill can be reached at; blog at

  • Cogdill's blog, Off The Page
  • Sunday, March 2, 2008

    Aldon Hynes To Blog Doninger Free Speech Hearing In NY Tuesday

    A Little Bit About Aldon ...

    Aldon Hynes first started programming computers in the late 60's. In the early 80's as a consultant to Bell Labs he first got on the Internet.

    Most of his career he has been providing information technology to Wall Street firms. During his time on Wall Street, Aldon became interested in the group dynamics of organizations. In particular, he is interested in Group Relations tradition of Wilfred Bion and Tavistock, how this all relates to group psychology and especially how it plays out in online communities.

  • Complete Article

  • Justice Denied: the View From New York

  • Second Circuit Judge Lineup For Doninger Free Speech Hearing Tuesday
  • [guest March 6] Judy Aron short bio & NOTE

    Judy Aron is Research Director for National Home Education Legal Defense


    and is legislative liaison for CT Homeschool Network

    Ms. Aron is a long time homeschooling activist and has been heavily involved in protecting the rights of parents: particularly homeschoolers.

    She has written numerous articles about homeschooling teens and preparing for college as part of "College Corner" in the CT Homeschool Network monthly newsletter, and she has also written extensively for NHELD. Some of her articles have appeared in Home Education Magazine, Journal of College Admissions, RadioFree West Hartford, online blogs and websites, as well as various newspapers.

    Ms. Aron has been a frequent guest on several radio and cable TV shows speaking abouthomeschooling, parental rights, mental health testing, and a host of other issues. She currently authors her own blog : "Consent of the Governed"

    and produces a West Hartford Cable TV show entitled "What You Should Know". Ms. Aron ran for CT State Representative in November 2007, and enjoys being actively engaged in the democratic process.





    who you are

    what you do on the blog

    how you do it

    what kind of feedback you get

    what kind of impact you have

    what's fun


    could be 15 or 20 minutes or more depending on her read of the audience.

    we'll encourage dialogue and questions.

    there is some interest in home schooling and failure of schools to deliver services while going beyond their roles in other areas [intrusion, civil rights violations, etc.]


  • Consent Of The Governed

  • National Home Education Legal Defense

  • Connecticut Homeschool Network
  • Saturday, March 1, 2008

    Letter Re: "The World According to Zell"

    Dear Editors;

    I am a former investigative reporter for The Hartford Courant. I worked there for 39 ½ years before retiring in late 2005 to become a freelance writer. I am happier and more inspired as a writer now, but I am sad for the paper that was once my home base.

    As soon as The Tribune took over Times Mirror and The Courant, all the Tribune’s officers ever did was cut reporters' and editors' jobs and make more money for themselves. At the time of the sale eight years ago, The Courant was a highly successful newspaper. But gradually it became a shadow of what it was with advertising stickers and advertising on page one, a domination of ads over news content inside with half or less of the news pages it once contained.

    When Sam Zell purchased The Tribune, he promised independence for The Courant’s publisher and editors and those in other Tribune newspapers. He pledged he would create Tribune papers with more robust news staffs. Within weeks, his promises went up in smoke. The Tribune began following the same old depressing path. Its officers for the third of fourth time fired the top editor of the Los Angeles Times because he, like his courageous predecessors, failed to go along with staff cuts and news cut backs.

    Here is what I wrote Zell back in January. “I really think you need to take a good hard look at the officers and managers at the Tribune! You have purchased a huge outlet of news in this country. It is an outlet whose journalistic prowess has declined measurably since it purchased Times Mirror eight years ago. I don’t know what happened before then, but I have observed fairly closely what happened since then, first hand as a Courant staff reporter and retired staff reporter. The Tribune needs some really professional journalists at the top of the corporation to make sure it doesn’t continue to cut the heart out of its news operations nationwide.”

    Obviously, he ignored me (no surprise) and he deserves all the negative editorial comment and insulting cartoons that David Horsey can muster.

    Very Sincerely,

    Thomas “Dennie” Williams

    Freelance Writer

    Litchfield, Ct.

    Thursday, February 28, 2008

    The World According To Zell

  • Zell Cartoon

  • Liberty, journalism and Sam Zell

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    Who is Sam Zell and why should you care? The answer to the second part of that question is easy: the health of our nation depends on an informed electorate and an informed electorate depends on an unfettered news media willing to tell people more than what they want to hear.

    The answer to the first part of that question is that Sam Zell is the most vulgar embodiment of a pervasive bean counter mentality that is threatening the best of American journalism.

  • Complete Article

  • Editor & Publisher Story
  • Certain Remarks Noted In T-Ville Discussion; Or, How To Moderate Voices That Have Nowhere Else To Go ...

    Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Evolution Of T-Ville A Hot Topic":

    ""Once those things happen, you will have the migration of gays and bohemians who recognize the undervalued real-estate in the neighborhood. With them will come quirky new businesses and a lively social scene.

    Following the gays and bohemians will be the bourgeois who gentrify the neighborhood, in turn will attract chain retail to have a presence there."

    We're already got the tattoo parlors, so I'd say the artists are already in T-Ville!!!!!!!!!!

    And I'm not sure Enfield is up to having a lively nightlife aimed
    at gays and bohemians? That would certainly require additional police presence downtown."

    Could someone tell me how these remarks don't smack of the worst kind of ageism and homophobia?

    Maybe you don't get this…

    The idea is for the gays and bohemians to DISPLACE and REPLACE the criminals.

    The cost of more visible police presence on Friday and Saturday night is fraction of what it costs to round up the drug dealers.

    Posted by Anonymous to The Cool Justice Report at 11:33 AM

    Editor's Note:

    It's good to see all remarks noted, digested and discussed. In addition to the gay and bohemian comments, I also wondered how the residents cited in the posting below would "certainly stand out!"


    Bulldoze down the vacant buildings, the low income housing and crumbling mill houses, and
    the people dealing drugs and carry guns on T-ville streets will leave cuz they won't be able to stay in Enfield (... its highly unlikely they could afford to live in a single family home in Southwood Acres or Whit Acres, or historic district. At the very least, they'd certainly stand out!)"

  • Evolution Of T-Ville A Hot Topic

  • This Item As Posted @ Cool Justice
  • Reading A Blog

    A Reading Journal / Blogging Assignment

    Pick a blog, any blog.

    Read at least a few weeks of postings.

    Sample a few entries from the more distant past.

    Look at the first week ever.

    What other kinds of information is shared?

    What's the look?

    Does the blogger respond to threads or comments and join in the discussion?

    Consider leaving comments.

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Muckraking Blogger Wins Polk Award

    NY Times

    Blogger, Sans Pajamas, Rakes Muck and a Prize


    Of the many landmarks along a journalist’s career, two are among those that stand out: winning an award and making the government back down. Last week, Joshua Micah Marshall achieved both.

    On Tuesday, it was announced that he had won a George Polk Award for legal reporting for coverage of the firing of eight United States attorneys, critics charged under political circumstances. The “tenacious investigative reporting sparked interest by the traditional news media and led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales,” the citation read.

    Also last week, the Justice Department put him back on its mailing list for reporters with credentials after removing him last year.

    Mr. Marshall does not belong to any traditional news organization. Instead, he is creating his own. His Web site, Talking Points Memo (, is the first Internet-only news operation to receive the Polk (though in 2003, an award for Internet reporting was given to the Center for Public Integrity), and certainly one of the most influential political blogs in the country.

    To scores of bloggers, it was a case of local boy makes good. Many took it as vindication of their enterprise — that anyone can assume the mantle of reporting on the pressing issues affecting the nation and the world, with the imprimatur of a mainstream media outlet or not. And most reassuringly, it showed that fair numbers of people out there were paying attention.

    Mr. Marshall was recognized for a style of online reporting that greatly expands the definition of blogging. And he operates a long way from the clich├ęd pajama-wearing, coffee-sipping commentator on the news. He has a newsroom in Manhattan and seven reporters for his sites, including two in Washington.

    Yet Mr. Marshall does not shy away from the notion of blogging. “I think of us as journalists; the medium we work in is blogging,” he said, something that can involve matters as varied as the tone of the writing or the display of articles in reverse chronological order. “We have kind of broken free of the model of discrete articles that have a beginning and end. Instead, there are an ongoing series of dispatches.”

  • Complete Article

  • TalkingPointsMemo
  • Friday, February 22, 2008

    Fred Gets Happy ...

  • Complete Article

  • ... And Shares Some Provocative Links In A Comment

  • Online Disinhibition & Judy Aron Blog

  • Note: Blogger Judy Aron, "Consent Of The Governed" and a homeschooler, will be a future guest in class.

    Thursday, February 21, 2008


    Cutting Edge-Site
    For News, Opinion & Lots Of Fun Stuff

    “In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap”

    Napoleon Bonaparte

    “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”

    Hunter S. Thompson

  • Home Page

  • About e.politics
  • Perspective On McCain NY Times Story

    Colin McEnroe, To Wit

    Editor's Note: This story is spinning every which way through various media. Here are Colin's piece and a few other points of view ...

    I don't much care about the blonde. The blonde is the hook. The blonde is what makes people read the story. (I had the same reaction as Wonkette. She looks like a young Cindy McCain. Or like Amy

    Poehler imprersonating Cindy McCain. Wonkette's bullet points, by the way, aren't bad if you're too lazy to read the whole Times story.)

    The larger problem for John McCain is that the story makes clear the degree to which -- despite all his post-Keating self-flagellation -- John McCain continued to operate in a way that was not appreciably different from his pre-Keating days. If you're flying around in the corporate jets of people who have business in front of your committee, you're a reformer in a rather puny sense.

  • Complete Article

  • The New Republic Chimes In

  • McCain's Daughter's Blog

  • The Source?

  • Weaver Statement

  • McCain Using Story To Raise Money

  • Conservative Commentator: NYT On Acid

  • Without Popular Upsurge, Elections Mean Nothing
  • Love, The IM Way

  • Video
  • Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    At Harvard, a Proposal to Publish Free on Web

    NY Times


    Publish or perish has long been the burden of every aspiring university professor. But the question the Harvard faculty will decide on Tuesday is whether to publish — on the Web, at least — free.

    Faculty members are scheduled to vote on a measure that would permit Harvard to distribute their scholarship online, instead of signing exclusive agreements with scholarly journals that often have tiny readerships and high subscription costs.

    Although the outcome of Tuesday’s vote would apply only to Harvard’s arts and sciences faculty, the impact, given the university’s prestige, could be significant for the open-access movement, which seeks to make scientific and scholarly research available to as many people as possible at no cost.

    “In place of a closed, privileged and costly system, it will help open up the world of learning to everyone who wants to learn,” said Robert Darnton, director of the university library. “It will be a first step toward freeing scholarship from the stranglehold of commercial publishers by making it freely available on our own university repository.”

  • Complete Article
  • Sunday, February 3, 2008

    Stories Are For Joining The Past To The Future

    Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now.

    And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever.

    That's what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are.

    Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.

    -- Tim O'Brien, winner of the National Book Award

    Friday, February 1, 2008

    Mystery Novelist Chris Knopf, Adman By Day, Talks With Colin

    Chris Knopf, author of Two Time and The Last Refuge (both finalists for Connecticut Book Awards, is a copywriter and principal of Mintz & Hoke Communications Group in Avon, CT.

    A native of Philadelphia, educated in the U.S. and London, Knopf lives with his wife Mary Farrell and Wheaten Terrier Sam in Avon and Southampton, Long Island where he writes on the front porch.

    His forthcoming novel, Head Wounds, will be available in May.

  • Knopf Podcast On Colin McEnroe Show

  • The Last Refuge

  • Two Time

  • WTIC 1080

  • Colin McEnroe Blog / To Wit
  • Burma Arrests Blogger


    Bangkok, Thailand - Burma's junta has stepped up surveillance of the Internet, arresting one blogger who wrote about the stifling of free expression in the military-ruled nation, a media advocacy group said.

    The blogger, Nay Myo Latt, was taken into custody in Yangon on Wednesday after writing about the suppression of freedoms following last fall's crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations, Reporters Without Borders said.

    Despite international condemnation and pressure following the demonstrations, there is little evidence that the junta is easing its repressive rule or moving closer to reconciliation with pro-democracy forces led by Suu Kyi.

    The arrested blogger, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, owns three Internet cafes, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a release seen Thursday.

  • Complete Article

  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Guest Feb. 7, Ron Samul

    Ron will talk about:

    * Creating a web presence.

    * His personal blog.

    * Professional work, creative work, reading lists, etc.

    * His writing journal where he fosters ideas and post items such the essay below.

    * Postings of images and videos.

    "On the technical side - I think I will discuss writing styles for different blogs and new media. And how to protect your work, when to close a blog to users, how to get the most out your blogs and driving traffic.

    "Of course this won't be strictly lecture, it will be conversation where people can jump in and discuss their own experience and work on the web.

    "Below is a recent journal article I ran on a blog for ideas and reference material."

    In Agreement With Poe

    by Ron Samul

    In April 1846, Edgar Allan Poe published The Philosophy of Composition in Graham's Magazine. And in the first paragraph is the idea that I think is important for writing long fiction. That knowing the ending or at least the moment of truth - is critical in understanding the novel and its current construction.

    "Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its denouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only the denouement constantly in view that we an give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention."

    So, what do we know of denouement in plot? Let's lay it out here for reference in the future. This concept by Poe falls into line with my own thinking so exactly, that it must be expanded to show others its importance. Denouement in simple terms is the resolution of a literary work. However, as it is suggested by Poe and in other resources, novels fail when the beginning is not directly connected to the end, and therefore the end directly related to the beginning.

    In the article The Problematic of Ending in Narrative by J. Hillis Miller (Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 33, No. 1, Special Issue: Narrative Endings. (Jun., 1978), pp. 3-7.) To write without an understanding of the ending is almost impossible to arc the connection and the disconnection of the plot and the denouement.

    By a strange but entirely necessary paradox, the problem of the ending here becomes displaced to the problem of the beginning. The whole drama is ending and beginning at once, a beginning/ending which must always presuppose something outside of itself, something anterior or ulterior, in order either to begin or to end, in order to begin ending. The moment of reversal, when tying becomes untying, can never be shown as such or identified as such because the two motions are inextricably the same, as in the double antithetical word "articulate," which means simultaneously putting together and taking apart. The tying and untying, the turning point, is diffused throughout the whole action. Any point the spectator focuses on is a turning which both ties and unties…. This ending must, however, it seems, simultaneously be thought of as a tying up, a neat knotting leaving no loose threads hanging out, no characters unaccounted for, and at the same time as an untying, as the combing out of the tangled narrative threads so that they may be clearly seen, shining side by side, all mystery or complexity revealed."

    Perhaps this is the place for another essay, but why does death seem like the right answer to end a novel? This is an interesting idea.

    "Death is the most enigmatic, the most open-ended ending of all. It is the best dramatization of the way an ending, in the sense of a clarifying telos, law or ground of the whole story, always recedes, escapes, vanishes. The best one can have, writer or reader, is what Frank Kermode, in his admirable phrase, calls "the sense of an ending."

    To me successful endings don't have to end in death, but it is the ultimate change. In thinking of the writing I've done in the novel, they all end in death. However, there is always the survivor, the one who remains to live on, or to live without. If we take that into the circular idea of undoing the knot while we are sewing it up, then did these characters live without from the beginning of the novel. In The Staff, the answer is yes. Taska has been denied things all her life. By living with Cain, she has been denied her right to live alone and peacefully. In Hinterland, the survivors are the three people that moved around Kushter. If Kushter's knot is to pull apart and come back together, is that what's happening with the other characters. Elizabeth is clearly fits and Maribel still holds in the idea that you have to fall apart to become whole. The Barnacle Girl might not fit as well into that model. While I think death is ending, not all books need to have it. Some of

    The great books I've read, push that idea off. In the Giant's House (McCracken) is a good example of love and living without the tragic death. A Gracious Plenty (Reynolds) is a unique book that shares the stage with ghosts from the beginning and her control over the voices bring about her change into a life beyond the dead. Novelists always ask, what's at stake! And if it isn't life changing - then who give a shit? As we think about how we know our novels and our endings before any writing is "attempted with the pen," we have to consider the ultimate loss. And perhaps it is a sign that we are all facing that idea and the condition of living.

    In the two novel ideas that are being developed, death or the risk of death is important. Yet, it The Vile (as a concept) it isn't the main characters death, but his fight to stave it off in a twisted version of hope. In Night Blind, Silas spends much of the book preparing to kill someone. He realizes he has to live it, understand it, and believe it is his only course of action. As he evolves into this killer, everything shifts when he sees the girl go back to the arms of the man that raped her. That is the moment of truth.

    The moment of truth is the big "aha" moment of the big twist that everything hinges on. Denouement is the resolution - but the moment of truth is where we have the final twist of fate. Does this occur at the end of novels? Does it have a specific place in a novel? Sometimes that moment of truth is a suspended moment in time, like Hardy's A Pair of Blue Eyes. Everything moves around that first time he sees her. It is that idea of significant impression. (See coming entry for that.) In No Country for Old Men, if he didn't go back and try to help a man who was already dead, he wouldn't have been caught in the killers cross-hairs. I suppose in just explaining that, the irony of that statement makes the story line bound from beginning to end. He marked himself as a dead man by trying to help a man who was already dead. Moment of truth, or the big revelation is an important piece for the plot. Perhaps it is at the apex of the plot line. From then on, does the denouement seal that fates of all until it is complete? I think that is a fair interpretation.

    If anything, this entry proves that by understanding the relevance and importance of the ending, only then can you safely go forward and drive the characters with purpose, insight, and focus to the known end. We all should have a known end.

    Without it, we wander and worry all the time.

    Ron Samul
    MFA Professional Writing

  • Ron Samul Blog

  • Miranda Magazine
  • Eight New Student Blogs

    Students in ENG298, Writing For New Media, created eight blogs Thursday night.

    They are as follows:









    See links at bottom of the home page.


    Writing For New Media Official Announcement
    December 4, 2007

    Investigative Reporter will teach "Writing for New Media"
    in spring at Northwestern Connecticut Community College

    Blogs increasingly serve as a major source of news information about world happenings ranging across the globe as well as next door. That is the opinion of Andy Thibault, a well-known investigative reporter who will teach a course in Writing for New Media at Northwestern Connecticut Community College at its Winsted campus in January.

    The course will explore the background, research tools, writing styles and approaches used by bloggers active in this rapidly evolving news phenomenon that often breaks stories that are later picked up by conventional news outlets, like television and daily newspapers. Writing for this new media, students will learn how they can produce a blog and with friends and colleagues share news feeds, audio, video and photos via personal online journals.

    Thibault is an award-winning journalist who currently publishes a blog he describes as covering "cops, courts, general news and the arts." In a recent interview he said that Writing for New Media will not only appeal to prospective investigative reporters, but also to people who like "music, sports, politics, video games, or any of the various arts." The interview with Thibault in which he discusses many other topics in addition to his approach to teaching Writing for New Media, can be found on the NCCC website, at

  • Interview Link

  • A visit to Thibault's blog -- -- discloses the intricate details of a number of gritty news stories that range from last year's Smolinski missing person/love triangle case in Waterbury, to shady land deals in Enfield aimed at closing down a Montessori school, to a civil rights case involving a high school student whose write-in election victory for class secretary was suppressed by administrators of the school.

    The noted attorney, F. Lee Bailey has described Thibault as "a gunslinger from the Old West, ready to fire at anything that moves-especially if he doesn't take kindly to the movement…He is in a way a corollary of Robin Hood: he takes from the powerful and gives to the weak."

  • Cool Justice

  • Thibault is the author of three books, Law and Justice in Everyday Life, the most recent one, was published in 2002. Between 2000 and 2006, he published the "Cool Justice" column in The Connecticut Law Tribune. He is a regular guest on radio and TV interview shows in Hartford. He served as chief investigator for the Washington, D.C. public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, at the time of its investigation of corruption activities in the U. S. Commerce Department. In 2004, Thibault delivered the Pew Memorial Lecture in Journalism at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania.

    Currently, Andy Thibault is an adjunct lecturer in English and a mentor in the MFA writing program at Western Connecticut State University. He is author of The History of the Connecticut State Police and The 12-Minute MBA for Lawyers, a consulting editor of the literary journal, Connecticut Review, and-as an indication of his many outside interests-a licensed professional boxing judge.

    ENG 298 - Writing for New Media,
    one of two cutting edge special courses offered by the English Department at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, will meet on Thursdays from 6:30-9:30 p.m. during spring 2008 semester. Instructor April Dolata will teach the other innovative English course, ENG 271 - Film and Literature, which will meet on Fridays from 9:00 a.m.-12:05 p.m.

    For further information about registering for these courses or for other courses offered by the college, contact the Registrar's Office at 860-738-6314, the Admissions Office at 860-738-6330, if you are not already an NCCC student or go online to the college's website at

    NCCC - The small college that does great things

    Thursday, January 31, 2008

    McLuhan Meets the Net

    By Larry Press

    Communications of the ACM, Vol 38, No 7, July, 1995, pp 15-20

    In 1964, Marshall McLuhan published Understanding Media, a classic discussion of media and their effects on society and the individual. Understanding Media helped transform the 52-year old McLuhan from a somewhat obscure English professor at the University of Toronto, to an academic and media star, and industrial consultant. In recognition of the book's importance, it has been reissued by MIT Press with an introduction by Lewis Lapham of Harper's Magazine [10].

    McLuhan understood that computers were a communication medium, but did not discuss them in Understanding Media or subsequently, although he lived until 1980 (footnote 1). Regardless, I found this book fascinating and highly relevant today. My copy is now covered with marginal notes, many speculating on how McLuhan would have seen global computer-mediated communication, the Net.

    What would McLuhan have thought of the Net? This column consists of quotes taken from Understanding Media (footnote 2), followed by comments on how they might be applied to the Net. (The number following each quote is the page on which it is found). I would not presume to put words in McLuhan's mouth -- these are thoughts that crossed my mind as I read, my marginal notes.

    Media -- Extensions of Man (subtitle)

    McLuhan defines media in the subtitle of the book -- "The Extensions of Man." His is a broad definition, including more than the familiar communication media like radio and TV. McLuhan's media include the spoken word, the written word, number, clothing, housing, money, the clock, the motorcar, and other extensions of man. (The book has chapters on 26 different media). I think McLuhan would not have seen the Net as one medium, but as a juxtaposition of many. The information on the Net is mostly text, but voice, image, animation, video, executable simulations, and other types of information will become common. Multiplicity of media, goes beyond multiple data types. For example, written words on a monitor are different than words on a magazine page, a book page, or a billboard. Furthermore, on the Net, words are used in different contexts. Words on a listserver are different than words in one-one email, or a scholarly paper retrieved from a server. They are like words used in a conference room, a conversation, or an essay, respectively.

    The medium is the message. (7)

    This is the title of Chapter 1. When he wrote Understanding Media, McLuhan was Director of the Center for Culture and Technology, which investigated the "psychic and social consequences of technological media." He was not interested in content carried by a medium, but in the psychic and social effects inherent in the way it extended our senses. As he notes, media like the electric light and electric power grid have no content whatsoever, yet they have significant impact.

    McLuhan would not have written about the content on the Net -- controversial issues like dirty pictures or businessmen "spamming" us with unwanted advertising. He would have speculated on how the Net would affect our society and our senses, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and values regardless of the content it carried or what part of the Net we used.

  • Complete Article