April 27th, 2011

As license plate cameras spread, criminals may be sorry

The New York Times reports: “There are 238 license plate readers in use in New York City, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. Of those, 130 are mobile. They are mounted on the back of police cars assigned to patrol duties across the city’s five boroughs and to specialized units like the highway and counterterrorism divisions. The remaining 108 cameras are set up at fixed posts at city bridges and tunnels and above thoroughfares.”

“The cameras have provided clues in homicide cases and other serious crimes. But they have been used in lesser offenses, too. With them, stolen cars have been identified, located and returned. The cameras have uncovered unregistered vehicles and those with stolen license plates. They can pinpoint fugitives from out of state who are linked to specific automobiles.”

The idea is spreading to smaller cities and towns. Read more here.

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You just know this is going to be a movie or a book - girl fakes pregnancy for project

The news story begins:

Gaby Rodriguez would worry whenever anyone asked to touch her baby bump.

It wasn't because she felt shy or embarrassed. It was because the bulge - fashioned from wire mesh and cotton quilt batting - didn't actually contain a baby.

For the past 6½ months - the bulk of her senior year at Toppenish High School - the 17-year-old A-student faked her own pregnancy.

Only a handful of people - her mother, boyfriend and principal among them - knew Gaby was pretending to be pregnant for her senior project, a culminating assignment required for graduation.

Her teachers and fellow students, except for her best friend, didn't realize they were part of a social experiment.

Neither did six of her seven siblings, including four older brothers, her boyfriend's parents, and his five younger brothers and sisters.

Could you? Would you? Would you let your kid?

Read the whole thing here.

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Portland writers team up to help each other (and it doesn’t hurt that one is named Palahniuk)

Shelf Awareness reports: “A few weeks ago, bestselling author Chuck Palahniuk sent 50 Easter baskets to independent booksellers around the country hoping they'd love and then handsell a memoir that was part of the package, The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch (Hawthorne Books). Both authors are part of a Portland, Ore., writing group that also includes Chelsea Cain (Evil at Heart), who wrote the introduction to Yukavitch's book.”

[Full disclosure: I know Chuck and Chelsea enough to make small talk with - Lidia I have not met - yet.]

Read more here about authors cheerleading for each other.

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Missing my old friends

Sometimes I don't have the heart to turn off my Yahoo calendar alerts. So this week I got reminders for two friends who aren't around any more.

Barbara Seranella and I at the 2002 Left Coast Crime. Back when she was healthy. We both did stand up comedy. The picture does not show the very famous mystery writer to my left. Although we sat at the same table, she acted as if we weren't there at all. Of course Barbara, being Barbara, knew all the gossip about her and the pretty young man who was with her.

God, I miss her.

Barbara wrote a series of mysteries as well as the beginning of a new series that came out after she died. She died in January 2007 after the Hepatitis C that had hung out in her system for years after she had kicked heroin (she had a very colorful past) came back to bite her. She made it through two liver transplants and died waiting for a third. She was incredibly generous and smart and tenacious. Her birthday is (was) April 30.

Lisa Wolfson (LK Madigan) at the book launch for our books, just seven months ago. (She was the author of Flash Burnout and The Mermaid's Mirror.) When this picture was taken, she was in the middle of having tests, but no one thought it was as bad as it was. One of things I miss most about Lisa was how much she read. I could always count on her to talk about books with. Her birthday was yesterday, April 26.

Again, such a loss.

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