Computer pranksters and the internet come of age together, as the former become the leading security experts on the latter, joining forces with and against corporations and governments alike.
“In its earliest days, the chief moral issues for the teens in the [hacking collective] Cult of the Dead Cow were how badly to abuse long-distance calling cards and how offensive their online posts should be,” writes Reuters technology reporter Menn (Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet, 2010, etc.). “But as they matured, the hackers quickly became critical thinkers in an era when that skill was in short supply….They all helped push a realistic understanding of security challenges and ethical considerations into mainstream conversations in Silicon Valley and Washington.” The author narrates a fast-paced story about how a little-known movement that could trace its roots to the psychedelic rock of the 1960s—one visionary was the son of the Jefferson Airplane’s drummer while another was a lyricist for the Grateful Dead—would eventually serve as security advisory for the Pentagon, the cybernetics industry, and geopolitical forces around the globe. Menn introduces many characters who were formerly anonymous or deeply underground, known only by their “cDc” monikers, the names by which they posted during the days before the World Wide Web, when bulletin boards attracted kindred spirits. The group had its genesis in the remote outpost of Lubbock, Texas, but its influence eventually extended from San Francisco to Boston and beyond, as computer technology triumphed over geographical logistics. They recognized the porousness of the web’s security because they had penetrated it, and they knew that those insisting that information was secure were in denial. They knew that “everything was unsafe and would only get less safe as the economy grew more dependent on technology. This was classic market failure, compounded by political failure.”
A quick tale of black hats and white hats, with a lot of gray area in between.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)