Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Invest Your Forensic Science Reality Check

Two years ago, the U.S. Congress mandated a study of forensic science by the National Academy of Sciences. Founded by a law passed during the Civil War, the NAS provides expert studies of scientific matters for the government.

So many have eagerly (or with trepidation) awaited their report on the state of forensic science in the U.S., and its recommendations on how it might be improved. That report was made public last week. You can read about here:

The report should serve as a reality check to those who believe in the fantasy world version of forensic science. The NAS called for "major reforms and new research," said that forensic science in the U.S. is "badly fragmented," that it is lacking in "rigorous certification programs," that "many forensic science labs are underfunded, understaffed, and have no effective oversight."

And that's just part of the first paragraph of their press briefing.

You may notice that much of this fits in with what the Crime Lab Project has been saying for some time.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be reading the full report from the NAS (you can read it free online, pay for a full-report pdf, buy chapters, or order a hardcover on the NAS Web site). I'll post my thoughts about it here, but I encourage you to read it for yourself. The more people who are informed about the challenges facing forensic science, the better our chances of seeing real change.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sculpture on a Monday

I'm back home until Left Coast Crime, and have lots of stuff to talk about from the American Academy of Forensic Science meetings, more about The Messenger, and other topics. But before launching into any of that, I thought, why not take a moment for beauty?

Many thanks to my friend Donald Grant, who told me about Kristen Hoard's sculptures and other works of art. You can see her work by clicking here. ( http://www.metalphoria.com )

Above: "Small Fire Tree" by Kristen Hoard

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Poetry on a Wednesday -- Or, Another reason to love G.K. Chesterton

A discussion list I'm on has been reading Georgette Heyer's mysteries, most recently The Unfinished Clue. Much as I like many of her other books, I'll admit that I'm not a great fan of her detective stories, and find this one particularly weak. I have a theory that Heyer despised many of her contemporaries, because so many of her books portraying them are heavily populated with unlikable characters.

One of the characters in The Unfinished Clue quotes lines from a poem by Frances Darwin Cornford, which led one of the list members to provide a link to this site:

I'm so glad I followed it, for the sake of the amusement to be found in G.K. Chesterton's response to the poem.

I'll add that while I laughed, Cornford was far from unread in her day, and should be remembered for other poems -- "All Souls' Night," for example, which appears in the Wikipedia article about her.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Bookplate update

The last of the bookplates have been given away -- these are no longer available -- many thanks to all of you who asked for them! I'll try to do something like this again in the near future.


My apologies for being so late getting the bookplates out -- I sometimes have this notion in my head of "Miracle Jan" who can do things like go on a book tour and sign and mail out good stuff on the few days she has home -- and still do local events, spend time with her husband and dogs, respond to a thousand emails, get stuff to the dry cleaners, do laundry, go to the grocery store, and all other necessary errands and tasks in those same two days. Did I mention sleep?

Anyway, Miracle Jan was a no show last month, so I'm catching up now and will sign and get those bookplates out this week. If you want one and didn't get a chance to ask before, just send your name and address to burke.themessenger at gmail.com. I'd write it in a plainer fashion, but one must do what one can to foil spammers.