Cautionary tales by Minneapolis cable-TV news anchor Lee on how recent computer-system failures in business, government, and medicine have wrought death and chaos. As the world moves blithely toward a near-total dependence on computers, few realize the inherent danger that arises when these systems become so complex that designers cannot anticipate every combination of circumstances that a system must reliably handle. Going behind the headlines of several tragedies and scandals, Lee finds that the common culprit in computer lapses is often inadequate software. For instance, when AT&T (the world standard for computer reliability) suffered a complete nine-hour collapse of its long-distance network on January 15, 1990, the cause was an obscure software bug buried in a new multimillion-line software program. An Iranian commercial jet was shot down by the U.S.S. Vincennes partly because of design errors in a $500 million weapons system. Several patients were burned to death during routine radiation therapy and a new airliner (the Airbus) crashed because the machines involved used designs overreliant on computer controls, Lee asserts. He also explores the federal government's failures to develop adequate computer systems for air-traffic control, fiscal management, and IRS operations. Overall, the author's description of the brewing crisis in computerization is far stronger than his prescriptions for correction (such as support for pending legislation to fund software development research). Lee's lively style delivers potentially dry material in a form accessible to people concerned about social and management problems and to computer professionals seeking an overview on a potential nightmare.

Pub Date: July 31, 1991

ISBN: 1-55611-264-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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