Rare Newspaper Mystery, ‘Fatal Deadline’ now in Paperback

Maryland Independent

Berberich pens alternate ending to economic recession

Sept. 8, 2018

Stephen Michael Berberich of Waldorf recently published “Fatal Deadline,” a thriller that offers an alternate ending to the economic recession of the late 2000s. “Fatal Deadline” can be found and purchased as an e-book or paperback on Amazon.com or CreateSpace.com.

How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?

A: All my life, I have enjoyed putting words together in meaningful ways. I am and have been a journalist, starting in middle school, and then high school and college; school newspapers at each stop. I rarely venture into opinion, but also publish essays on current topics.

What inspires you to write?

A: I like serving communities with news and other information. For my fiction, I’m inspired by the fun of it. Initially, I was inspired by a gregarious friend at the VA Hospital in Baltimore, who writes outstanding short stories.  When I was writing health and medical stories for the professional graduate schools of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, she said, “Steve, you need to write down your stories.” Finally, during a 13-day break for the holidays I wrote 2,000 words a day to start my first novel, “Night at the Belvedere,” now an e-book. It is a ghost story based on a personal experience.2

Do you consider writing to be a career?

A: Yes, it is a good one. Fiction writing is part of my career now. I am still a science and business writer, but fiction lately has been creeping up on me, smothering me with ideas.

What kind of writing process do you use?

A: I tried outlining for my fiction, which is a popular process I heard about from friends in the Maryland Writers Association. But outlining froze my creativity. Instead, I subscribe to Elmore Leonard’s process of developing characters first and then letting them tell the story. Working on my fourth novel now, I’m convinced that, for me at least, endings are not difficult to write this way because my imaginary ‘friends’ (characters) do it for me. On the other hand, outlining to me is confining and becomes its own demanding regimen, kind of like the constructive experience of clean living in a reform school but no exciting ending in sight.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why? How much do you feel they influence your own writing?

A: For quirky stories, I like Carl Hiaasen, Kurt Vonnegut, Elmore Leonard, and Raymond Chandler and other storytellers like them because they are entertaining and, not overtly at least, throwing social issues at you. For writers of more serious novels, Carl Sandburg, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, James McBride and Fyodor Dostoevsky come to mind as writers of stories that have recently led me into new worlds. The stories hold you close because you don’t notice a writing style as you turn pages. I honestly can’t measure or think of how these idols influence my writing, except perhaps they somehow add color. It is intuitive, I think.

What do you want readers to know about you?

A: I have had an eclectic journey as a writer. I began as a garden writer for pubs like ‘Organic Gardening’ and ‘Alive and Well. That took me to writing for many years about the science and technology out of the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service headquartered at Beltsville. I have written on contract for the National Institutes of Health, American Farmland Trust, the World Bank in Nigeria in Africa, The Smithsonian Institute, and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. Meanwhile, I placed freelance work in many newspapers and magazines and reported for The Gazette, Journal newspapers around D.C., Baltimore Sun and Earth Times.

Please include a brief description of your book:

Fatal Deadline is a story of what could have happened in any county in America and probably did during the Great Recession of the late 2000s when the weakened economy drove investors and buildings to drastic and criminal means to stay afloat and competitive. It appears to be a straight forward murder mystery at the start. Here is the twist: a young neophyte reporter, 19, just out of his accelerated classes in journalism school, falls into the biggest crime story his editors at the small Maryland weekly could ever dream up.

To cover the story, he must defy the editors and travel a risky path into a corrupted real estate recession during the 2005-6 building crash and deal with predatory/racist lenders, hardened gangs, drug dealers, strippers, and murderers.


AI has role in cybersecurity, but isn’t magic bullet

By Stephen Berberich

In a recent study on combating cybersecurity attacks, two-thirds of 3,866 information technology (IT) professionals surveyed across the Americas, Europe and Asia said artificial intelligence (AI) tools could reduce false alerts and increase team effectiveness. Yet, only 25 percent of the respondents reported currently using some form of an AI-based security system.


Harry Holt, vice president of the Baltimore-based Bithgroup Technologies, Inc.

“Despite massive investments in cybersecurity programs, our research found most businesses are still unable to stop advanced, targeted attacks,” wrote Larry Ponemon, chairman of the research group Ponemon Institute LLC. He added that 45 percent of those surveyed “believed that they are not realizing the full value of their defense arsenal.”

AI has become a critically important component of cybersecurity, according to Mansur Hasib, CISSP,PMP, CPHIMS,who is the cybersecurity technology program chair of the University of Maryland University College graduate school, because the amount of data is magnifying almost at levels that are not possible to humanly decipher. … MORE CLICK HERE

Hi-Tech opportunities in Maryland for small businesses

For those looking to start a high-tech venture in Maryland there are plenty of resources and opportunity to help them succeed.Handweb-248x300

“We have great public and private universities and federal agencies full of technology for licensing,” James Hughes, Director of UM Ventures, says, “The state of Maryland (government) is very aggressive in supporting startup companies. And, the Biotech Investment Tax Credit is I think the best in the country, giving investors a 50 percent tax credit of the amount of their investment, making it much easier for biotech companies to attract funding.”

Hughes is also the vice president and chief enterprise and economic development officer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Under Hughes, UM Ventures is one of several academic commercializing routes for inventors or investors to … READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Health information exchanges getting mixed reviews

 in News Stories October 24, 2017
By Stephen Berberich

Electronic sharing of patient records in state health information exchanges is readily available to many physicians. Yet, in a 2013 survey, the most recent by management consultant company Accenture, LLP, many U.S. doctors said they see limited positive impacts of the new health information exchanges on treatment decisions, medical errors and health outcomes.

Interviews with physicians from across health care disciplines paint a many-colored portrait of why many doctors still don’t embrace health information exchanges.

When the exchanges were created, their goal was to allow “information to follow a patient where and when it is needed, across organizational, vendor and geographic boundaries,” notes the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, or ONC, a federal agency that supports states with grants, awards and guidelines.

health-care-Info-Exchange-fea-1However, Paul Kempen, an anesthesiologist at the Weirton Medical Center in West Virginia, doesn’t see it happening that way. One of his big complaints is that various state systems don’t “talk to each other.”

For instance, Kempen’s pain clinic is within a 10-mile-wide point of the state’s panhandle, near Ohio and 23 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “A third of my patients come from each of the three states,” he said. “Every time we administer pain therapy, we look up the patient in three databases. Maybe he’s doctor-shopping, with prescriptions from multiple physicians. It is time consuming.”

To see full article, click header or here for full piece.

Virulence molecules found for poultry bursal virus

organic-chickenCOLLEGE PARK, Md.–The molecular keys to the serious poultry disease, known as Gumboro disease, have been discovered for the first time by scientists of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

At UMBI’s Center for Agricultural Research (CAB), virologist Vikram N. Vakharia and colleagues report finding specific amino acid residues in the Gumboro-causing viruses that are responsible for its infection, virulence and disease development in poultry.

In the late 1980’s, concern was heightened in the poultry industry of the Delmarva (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia) Peninsula when researchers found new strains of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) that causes serious disease. The region produces over 600 million broiler chickens annually. The IBDV strains found there caused wasting away of the bursa, which is the major immunological organ of chickens, but did not cause the hemorrhaging condition and high death rates of earlier, so-called classic, strains found in the United States in the 1960’s. However in the 1990’s, strains of IBDV emerged in Europe and Asia that killed up to 70 percent of some chicken flocks.

UMBI’s Vakharia has recently created new, cost-effective recombinant vaccines to fight IBDV.