A powerful wake-up call to pay attention to our online lives.

FUTURE CRIMES

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED, EVERYONE IS VULNERABLE AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

An alarming view of the burgeoning dark side of the Internet.

“We are now entering the great age of digital crime,” warns Goodman, a former police detective–turned–cybercrime consultant and founder of the Future Crimes Institute. In this highly readable and exhaustive debut, he details the many ways in which hackers, organized criminals, terrorists and rogue governments are exploiting the vulnerability of our increasingly connected society. “[W]e’ve wired the world,” he writes, “but failed to secure it.” Noting how easy it is to hack into computer systems, most notably smartphones, Goodman first describes the present era of digital crime, from cyberattacks on companies (Target, Sony) to the failure to protect information by data brokers and social media to the growth in identity theft (13 million Americans affected annually) to digital surveillance, cyberstalking and hate crimes. Most companies are hacked regularly and cannot detect it; when they find out (from customers or police), they often try to hide the loss of data. “What most people do not understand…is that any data collected will invariably leak,” writes the author, and the worst is yet to come. The online world’s exponential growth is creating new opportunities, with easy profits and little detection, for sophisticated cyberunits of organized crime. The rise of the Internet of Things (chips and sensors in everyday objects, from cars to homes) will allow criminals to wreak havoc on such newly emerging technologies as robotics, 3-D manufacturing, synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. There will be no way to protect against hacking of baby cams, GPS systems, imbedded medical devices, drones, assembly lines, personal care bots and other objects, some 50 billion of which will join the global grid by 2020. Goodman suggests solid actions to limit the impact of cybercrimes, ranging from increased technical literacy of the public to a massive government “Manhattan Project” for cybersecurity to develop strategies against online threats.

A powerful wake-up call to pay attention to our online lives.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53900-5

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

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LAB GIRL

Award-winning scientist Jahren (Geology and Geophysics/Univ. of Hawaii) delivers a personal memoir and a paean to the natural world.

The author’s father was a physics and earth science teacher who encouraged her play in the laboratory, and her mother was a student of English literature who nurtured her love of reading. Both of these early influences engrossingly combine in this adroit story of a dedication to science. Jahren’s journey from struggling student to struggling scientist has the narrative tension of a novel and characters she imbues with real depth. The heroes in this tale are the plants that the author studies, and throughout, she employs her facility with words to engage her readers. We learn much along the way—e.g., how the willow tree clones itself, the courage of a seed’s first root, the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi, and the airborne signals used by trees in their ongoing war against insects. Trees are of key interest to Jahren, and at times she waxes poetic: “Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.” The author draws many parallels between her subjects and herself. This is her story, after all, and we are engaged beyond expectation as she relates her struggle in building and running laboratory after laboratory at the universities that have employed her. Present throughout is her lab partner, a disaffected genius named Bill, whom she recruited when she was a graduate student at Berkeley and with whom she’s worked ever since. The author’s tenacity, hope, and gratitude are all evident as she and Bill chase the sweetness of discovery in the face of the harsh economic realities of the research scientist.

Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-87493-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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