The Best of Creative Computing Volume 1 (published 1976)

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How To Survive in Your Native Land (review, by James Herndon, 1971)
The Digital Villain: Notes on the Numerology, Parapsychology, and Metaphysics of the Computer (review, by Robert Baer, 1972)
Databanks In A Free Society: Computers, Record-Keeping and Privacy (review, by Westin and Baker, 1972)
The Terminal Man (review, by Michael Crichton, 1972)
The Electronic Criminals (review, by Robert Farr, 1975)

graphic of page

How To Survive in Your Native Land, James Herndon, 179 pp. $1.25, Bantam Books,
New York, 1971

Contrary to the title, this book is not really a survival manual. In fact, it
probably points out more pitfalls and reasons that most kids will have a hell of
a time surviving in schools than it indicates solutions. The author, a junior
high teacher for 10 years, found that an open approach worked for him but he's
rather pessimistic whether it will be widely emulated. Indeed his own principal
thinks it's maybe OK but can't really see what's wrong with Proven Establishment

I could give you all the beautiful adjectives and superlatives and reasons you
should read this book whether or not you're an advocate of open education. The
main reason is that there's a damn important message about the nature of schools
as an institution buried in the humor and poignancy and hope and pessimism. 
I'll let Herndon tell you about part of it. "In all public schools in the United
States the percentage of kids who cannot really read the social studies textbook
or the science textbook or the directions in the New Math book or the
explanations in the transformational grammar book is extraordinarily high. Half
the kids. The school tells everyone that reading is the key to success in
school, and no doubt it is, a certain kind of reading anyway. Does the school
then spend time and effort teaching those kids who can't read the texts how to
read the texts? Shit no, man. Why mess up a situation made to order for failure?
 The school's purpose is not teaching. The school's purpose is to separate sheep
from goats."

Whether you're a student, teacher, or whoever - skip a day of school and read
this book. You'll be better off for it.

David H. Ahl
The Digital Villain: Notes on the Numerology, Parapsychology, and Metaphysics of
the Computer. Robert Baer. 187pp.  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading,
Mass. Paper.  1972.

Don't let the title scare you off. This gets a four star rating for those who
know all about computers, and a three star rating for those who do not. The
author begins by saying that we invented computers to solve the problem.  What
seems to have happened is that computers have become the problem. Good
references throughout. A most thought provoking book.   Includes: The Semantics
of Computer Science. Computer Pre-history : 1663 and all that.   Turing's Mini
Super-Computer.  The Road to Bitsville.  The Golden Bit. Games Computers Play.  
Playing the Game.   Computer Pretense: the simulation extended. Tricks Computers
Play.   Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Artifice. Rossum's Universal
Robots: man as machine.  The Desk Set: man vs. machine - the last victory.
Billion Dollar Brain: the computer as espionage agent. Hour of the Robots: the
computer as lover. The Tin Men: the computer as sportsman, moralist, and writer.
Giles Goat-Boy: the computer as the military-scientific establishment. 2001: the
computer as travelling companion. The Tale of the Big Computer: the computer as
Chaucer or how the opposition sees man.

Peter Olivieri

Boston, Mass.

Databank: In A Free Society: Computers, Record-Keeping and Privacy, Westin and
Baker, Report of the Project on Computer Databanks of the Computer Science and
Engineering Board; National Academy of Sciences, New York: Quadrangle/ The New
York Times Book Co., 522pp., $4.95, 1972.

This book is the report of a massive study, conducted between 1970 and 1972, on
how databanks are actually being used in our society and, based on that, how use
of databanks is likely to grow. Particular attention is paid to the area of
civil liberties and privacy. Attention is focused on the question of whether
advanced use of data processing has actually caused organizations to change
their old policies and on whether present policies and legislation are adequate
to ensure the rights of the people in the computer age.

A review of current data processing technology is included for those not already
familiar with the area and the methodology of the study is clearly explained.
Almost half the book is used to present the profiles of fourteen organizations
which make extensive use of computer databanks, detailing how they make use of
computers and how this use has changed their methods of operation. Included are
such organizations as the Social Security Administration, the Bank of America,
the Church of the Latter-day Saints and a municipal and a county government.

Following the profiles are presented the findings of the study. These cannot be
adequately summarized and should be read by anyone seriously concerned with the
area of the study. Many of the Project's findings are reassuring, but the report
warns against being lulled into a false sense of complacency. Very real problems
exist, primarily because our legal system has not moved with near the speed of

Although this book is hardly casual reading, it should not be missed by anyone
concerned with the problems of databanks and privacy. As the first extensive
study of its kind, it contains a wealth of information and will serve as a
baseline against which future studies will be discussed. 

John Lees

Rolla, MO


The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton. Alfred Knopf, Inc.  New York, 1972. $6.95.

This novel combines authentic description with hair raising suspense to open up
for the reader a new area of modern science: surgical-computer mind control.

Psychosurgery is performed on a violent paranoid who has twice attempted to
kill. A team of surgeons conducts a delicate operation, connecting 40 wires from
the patient's brain to a microminiature computer implanted in his neck. It is
the job of the computer to detect the start of a violent seizure and prevent it
by stimulating a pleasure or calm node of the brain. The tension builds
throughout the book from the initial conflict between- the doctors to the final
terrifying results when the patient escapes from the hospital before the
computer program is tested.

Psychosurgery of the kind Crichton describes is already taking place in medical
research centers today, thus making mind control a key scientific and moral
issue of our time. Crichton takes it out of the realm of the abstract, and makes
immediate its workings, its dangers, and its implications in a novel that
provides urgent information and superb entertainment. 

David H. Ahl

Morristown, NJ


The Electronic Criminals. Robert Farr. 194pp, $8.95. McGraw-Hill, New York,

Based on the author's experiences as a writer and as an expert in the field of
computer fraud and industrial criminology, he details Ponzi schemes, technically
sophisticated rip-offs, stock swindles, modern embezzlement  methods, and
out-and-out thefts using modern technology.

The Stanford Research Institute estimates that between 1967 and 1972 some 50,000
major crimes were committed worldwide with the technological assistance of
computers, telecommunications devices, photocopy equipment, lasers, jet
transportation, and so on. This broad spectrum of devices (with the exception of
the jet aircraft) is covered in this book relegating computers, therefore, to a
rather modest role.

From a sociological standpoint what is probably most interesting is the author's
observation that such nefarious

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