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The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency 161

Ben Rothke writes "As Henry David Thoreau observed 'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.' That being the case, novels are written, to briefly take such men, out of that quiet desperation, even for a short while. Novels therefore require a certain melodrama and fantasy element. For if the novels lacked such exaggerated drama, it would suffice to read the New York Times, and not Tom Clancy. It is with such a backdrop that The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency was written. The book is billed as an interactive techno-thriller novel." Read on for the rest.
The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency
author Dr. Herbert Thompson, Spyros Nomikos
pages 448
publisher Syngress
rating 7
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 1931836833
summary A melodramatic exploration of the dangers of combining unscrupulous electronic voting system makers with a political machine willing to overlook the systems' flaws.

The book chronicles the final week before security expert Professor Chad Davis is to testify before Congress on the security of a commercial e-voting software product made by a fictitious company, Advice Software, Inc.

Davis' testimony will ultimately determine if the software will be implemented for use during the United States' 2004 presidential election, and therefore create a huge windfall for the company. The company will do anything and everything it can to ensure that Davis provides positive testimony. Advice will stop at nothing to complete their mission; that means they'll engage in multiple murders, kidnapping and a slew of other nefarious activities. All of this is addition to simultaneously attempting to corner the video chip market, and create video drivers that send subliminal messages about which candidate to vote for.

As Albert Einstein said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." The plot could have been made much simpler to mimic reality and the current state of insecure e-voting systems. As in real life, the e-voting companies are getting away with providing insecure e-voting systems; under the nose of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and an unsuspecting and apathetic voting public. The idea that an e-voting software company would resort to murder is where the book demonstrates it is a novel.

The reason e-voting companies and their insecure software can run roughshod through the FEC is that voting-system flaws do not have the same immediate tragic consequences that other product failures can. Plane crashes and adverse drug effects spur the FAA and FDA to take drastic actions and often overreact to an event; poorly written and insecure voting software is clearly not as newsworthy as a burning jet.

Combine this with a public that is utterly apathetic to voting in general and the situation is ripe for the situation where e-voting can have a near hypnotic effect on most people involved. Because voter turnout for U.S. presidential elections is quite low (60% of eligible voters cast their ballots in the November 2000 presidential election), and most people are completely unaware of the dangers of insecure voting applications, an under-funded federal agency can be manipulated by the e-voting vendors to roll out insecure voting software.

The international intrigue of the novel takes the reader to the RSA security conference in Amsterdam, where Davis is given a cryptic CD-ROM by Baff Lexicon, a notorious international hacker. Lexicon suggests there is serious problems with the software and will brief Davis at midnight that night at the Amsterdam Hard Rock Cafe on the details. Unfortunately, Lexicon is being trailed by undercover agents from Advice, and is murdered a few hours later by a Yugoslavian hit man that the company seems to have on retainer.

Davis now has the difficult job of unlocking the cryptic information on the CD-ROM on his own. That same CD-ROM is included with the book, and the reader is invited to join Davis in attempting to decrypt the contents of the CD and the conspiracy that Advice Software is attempting to perpetrate; namely the outcome of the 2004 election.

(If you are not interested in buying the book, anyone can download the software without having to buy the book. The software is actually part of a contest and the winner will receive a free pass to the BlackHat 2005 conference.)

A good section of the novel then details how Davis attempts to decipher the secrets that Baff Lexicon was attempting to convey to him. The two authors of The Mezonic Agenda have, respectively, a PhD in applied mathematics and a Master's in chemical engineering, and write in a someone choppy style representative of their technical backgrounds. Occasional errors in grammar and spelling are excused, save for the egregious misspelling of Learjet on page 154.

The story concludes with a moral dilemma that Davis faces: with his wife and daughter kidnapped by the Advice Software hit man, does he provide favorable, yet dishonest testimony about the software and watch his family set free; or tell the truth and watch them die?

The novel itself takes up 240 of the books 370 pages, with the last five parts dedicated to a history of voting, reverse engineering, cryptography, buffer overflows and steganography.

As a standalone novel, the book (while entertaining and enjoyably readable) is somewhat overpriced at $34.95, especially since the enclosed CD-ROM is freely downloadable and the plot is somewhat thin. The non-fiction final section, though, is quite informative and effectively complements the novel.

This novel does a good job of explaining how software can be cracked, and provides the reader with a good overview of security concepts such as buffer overflows, reverse engineering, cryptography, and more. It is hoped that the book will find itself in the hands of members of Congress and the FEC, who truly need to be educated in such fundamental security topics.

As a novel, The Mezonic Agenda will not compete with books from Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum. But because insecure e-voting is one of the greatest threats to democracy today, it is a much needed title.


You can purchase The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency

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  • by Trolling4Columbine ( 679367 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:17PM (#10473154)
    "Hacking the Presidency was written. The book is billed as an interactive techno-thriller novel."

    In other words, "choose-your-own-adventure". It doesn't sound so impressive without the big words, does it?

  • Diebold (Score:5, Funny)

    by genner ( 694963 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:19PM (#10473175)
    Anyone think this was about Diebold?
    • Anyone think this was about Diebold?

      I certainly did when I read the title. I was very suprised to see that it was about a fictional work.
      • I certainly did when I read the title. I was very suprised to see that it was about a fictional work.

        It's close. Most of the work Diebold has done has been fictional.

    • > Anyone think this was about Diebold?

      Please, everyone. Stay calm and don't panic or believe such rumors. By the way, genner (694963) is no longer with us.
  • See all of the other books that Ben advertises/reviews here [amazon.com].
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A troll? No, this is insightful with the continued exposure that pieces of software and books get on the front page.

      There is absolutely no reason that Slashdot needs to be come a repository for Amazon.com book reviews. Maybe if someone in-house or even an avid Slashdot reader posted the review then it would be fucking relevant.

      Keep the Slashvertising off the front page.
    • by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#10474187)
      Ben Rothke [geocities.com] is a security consultant and author. This review does not apear on amazon.com. Bens' reviews seem to be well thought out and honest, and as far as I can see, he seems to be providing a service. Considering current events, the book obviously would be of interest to the /. crowd. Here's a review by a critical reviewer. /. has a section for book reviews. So what's the problem?

  • I also recommend... (Score:5, Informative)

    by datastalker ( 775227 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:20PM (#10473187) Homepage
    Zero Day Exploit [amazon.com] along the same lines. Also the "Hacking The Network" (here [amazon.com] and here [amazon.com]) series as well. Geeks make great authors, and when they write geeky stories, it's just the best of both worlds.
  • Riiiight (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ghengis ( 73865 ) <SLowLaRIS@xNIX.RDEBIANules minus distro> on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:22PM (#10473210) Homepage Journal
    ... a certain melodrama and fantasy element... Ha! As if the NYT's bias isn't filled with such!!
  • by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:24PM (#10473239) Homepage Journal
    The review says it's overblown and melodramatic, that the plot is needlessly contrived and somewhat thin, and the style is choppy, with lots of spelling and grammar errors.

    I'll wait till I've finished reading all the good books before I start on the second string. I only have a few thousand of those good ones to go.

    • Sounds just like Slashdot....
    • Well why wouldn't we put a pointless review on the main page? I have already been modded as a Troll for pointing out that the review is a professional reviewer for Amazon.com and this was pasted directly from there.

      It's obviously a poor book and shouldn't be purchased. Maybe they should have made that more clear in the title. Hell, let's have a story about ALL the overpriced books with spelling and gammar errors. I'd actually appreciate that as it would be definitly "Stuff that Matters".
    • Your logic seems somewhat flawed. I believe, unless I am very much mistaken, that reviews of this type are written to allow potential pursuers of the material that is the subject of review to discern whether the material is worthwhile.

      In this particular case, the reviewer deems that the material is not worthwhile. Therefore, as you have stated yourself, you have been dissuaded from reading this particular book. Thus, time that could possibly have been wasted on reading material that is of inferior quality

      • Did I complain about the review? I was asking ``So, why do I want to read this?'' about the book. You're right, I would never have known that it sucked if I hadn't read the review. Of course, I probably wouldn't have needed or cared to know, either.

        Good review, bad book.

  • Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:24PM (#10473242) Homepage Journal
    The Mezonic Agenda

    When my brain first saw "Mezonic" it couldn't decide if it was some weird reference to the Mesozoic era or something to do with the Masons. What the heck is "Mezonic"?

    • Re:Confused (Score:3, Informative)

      by savagedome ( 742194 )
      Its probably made up.

      I searched for pages with the word 'Mezonic' that do not contain the word Agenda. Nothing to choose from which probably means it's a made up word (or has some very obscure reference)

      Mezonic -agenda [google.com]
      • Re:Confused (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I have no idea what you're talking about. Mezonic is a perfectly cromulent word!
      • Re:Confused (Score:3, Funny)

        by nizo ( 81281 )
        I did notice:
        Mezonic
        Diebold

        Same length, same number of vowels, etc. I wonder if there is some message hidden here (probably just a coincidence).
        • Wow, I think you're on to something! With just a few changes, Mezonic could be an anagram of Diebold. Wait nevermind that, that didn't go anywhere.

          Hmm... If you take the letters of each, add up the ASCII values, and subtract, you get 34. 34 is ", which is the only character that could represent the twin towers. Of course we all know what the illuminati had to do with that [theforbidd...wledge.com]. Clearly, the illuminati are behind this. And Diebold. Or something.

          So now we know. ;-)
    • if it was a time travel novel set in the mesozoic era, now we're talking a real novel.

      I'd buy it.
    • I was thinking "We call it maze." Mezonic: Corn Goodness.
  • Grammar? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Linux_ho ( 205887 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:25PM (#10473247) Homepage
    That being the case, novels are written, to briefly take such men, out of that quiet desperation, even for a short while.
    Shatner, is that you?
    The two authors of The Mezonic Agenda have, respectively, a PhD in applied mathematics and a Master's in chemical engineering, and write in a someone choppy style representative of their technical backgrounds. Occasional errors in grammar and spelling are excused, save for the egregious misspelling of Learjet on page 154.
    In a someone choppy style? I'm starting to wonder if the author of the book is the same guy who submitted this review. You'd think he would have given it a more positive spin, though.
    • Re:Grammar? (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by pivo ( 11957 )
      Ha! my thoughts exactly
    • In a someone choppy style?

      I had to read this about 4 times before I caught the error. This is why I hate proof-reading. Do people who quickly catch grammer errors read slower, or fixate on every word or something? I fixate on about 2 or three places on each line, so I rarely see errors like the one above, or letter transpositions or even most mispellings.
      • I think real proof-readers actually read it outloud very slowly annoying their wives and embarassing their children.

        And they spell out loud as one word.
      • Re:Grammar? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LynchMan ( 76200 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:14PM (#10473817)
        rmeebemr taht as lnog as the fsirt and lsat lteetr of a wrod rneaims in the ccroert piitoosn, the oehtr leertts can be jbuemld and the rdaeer is sltil albe to siflwty fugrie it out.
        • Ugh - how is this offtopic? It directly relates to proofreading and why it is so easy to miss spelling errors (such as transposed letters) in words...

          Oh yeah, it's slashdot - grammer not be understood good.
      • Re:Grammar? (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by CJ Hooknose ( 51258 )
        Original article: In a someone choppy style

        Suidae wrote: I had to read this about 4 times before I caught the error. Do people who quickly catch grammer errors read slower, or fixate on every word or something?

        Can't speak for everybody, but I catch 80% of spelling/grammar errors in written work while reading at normal speed. I read faster than most people, too. You're probably lucky if you don't notice spelling or grammar errors. I've noticed that any place on the Net that allows the general public

      • This is why I hate proof-reading. Do people who quickly catch grammer errors read slower, or fixate on every word or something?

        Who knows, but your Grammer still loves you despite your grammar and misspellings. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That being the case, novels are written, to briefly take such men, out of that quiet desperation, even for a short while.

    From the looks of things, a lot of these novels could be shortened to novellas if all of those extra commas were eliminated.

  • by BeerCat ( 685972 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:27PM (#10473279) Homepage
    The problem with "real world" fiction such as this is that most people will either:
    a) miss the point entirely (in this case that there is more to e-voting than pressing a button);
    b) think "Way Off - can't happen here" (even when it has!);
    c) ignore the book.

    Maybe the way to do it is be more subtle (like Terry Pratchett, who wraps his attacks on society up in metaphor and allegory), or more gung-ho (like Dan Brown)
    • Maybe that's true for the DaVinci Code, but any IT pro who can read Digital Fortress all the way through is already in category c. Dan Brown is not the way to do it.
      • Interesting. Da Vinci code and Deception Point were the typical "all-action" adventure type, which had (some) twists, but made social comment. I was about to start Digital Fortress when someone waved the latest Pratchett under my nose...

        I'm so weak... must read humour... even when it criticises monopolies and takes sideswipes at government run organisations...
  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:35PM (#10473355)
    Considerhttp://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/159 4030618/102-2587016-4696960>Stealing elections

    In "Stealing Elections," John Fund takes the reader on a national tour of voter fraud scandals ranging from rural states like Texas and Mississippi to big cities such as Philadelphia and Milwaukee. He explores dark episodes such as the way "vote brokers" stole a mayoral election in Miami in 1998 by tampering with 4700 absentee ballots. He shows how, in the aftermath of the Motor Voter Law of 1993, Californians used mail-in forms to get absentee ballots for fictitious people and pets, while in St. Louis it was discovered that voter rolls included 13,000 more names than the U.S. Census listed as the total number of adults in the city.

    Election officials are trying to reassure voters by turning to computerized voting machines. But Fund shows that with the new technology come even greater concerns. Early in 2004, for instance, the state of Maryland, which has 16,000 new Diebold machines, commissioned a security expert to try to rig a practice election. He and his team broke into the computer at the State Board of Elections, completely changed the outcome of the election, left, and erased their electronic trail--all in under five minutes.

    "Stealing Elections" gives us a chilling portrait of our electoral vulnerability--in the 2004 presidential election and on into the future. Writing with urgency and authority, John Fund shows how a lethal combination of bureaucratic bungling and ballot rigging have put our democracy at risk.

  • Ah, crud.

    Stealing elections [amazon.com]
  • by Treeluvinhippy ( 545814 ) <liquidsorcery@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:41PM (#10473424)
    The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

    At one time I was a programmer working for the real life equivalant and I was horrified by the apathy the senior managment had for the software's security. All they cared about was having the software ready to sell by the time of the election, not having a fair election.

    I spoke up and after rocking the boat to no avail (I even recieved not-so-subtle hints of losing my job). So I wrote a letter to the chairman of the FEC and my state senator and I was granted a hearing by the FEC where I was to be given the chance to present my case.

    That was when they had a hitman show up at my house. Appearing like a trenchcoat wearing deamon he calmy walked up to my front stoop and kicked the door in. My doberman pincher tried to fight off the intruder but poor Billy got his head blown off by the Spas-12 shotgun the assasin carried. I was upstairs posting on Slashdot when I heard the noise and ran to the top of my stairs only to see Death empty three rounds of double odd buck into my belly.

    I was dead before I hit the floor.

    They took my body and dumped it out in Cheasapeake bay with old fashiond cement shoes and there I remain till this day.


    • (psst: That's "double-aught" as in "00", which refers to the size of the BBs [or "shot"] used in the shell. The higher the number, the smaller the shot.)
      • Great thanks for correcting me. I can always count on the slashdot crowd for correcting my mistakes. It's a shame that I made so many. I had issues during my life man real issues and alot of mistakes were made. Alcholosm, drug abuse, man if it's in the english lanquage and can be conjoined with the word abuse I've had it done to me.

        When you deal with crap like that on a daily basis your just not gonna develop right and do stuff like say "Double-odd" when the correct term was "Double-Aught" but that's why w
      • That doesn't seem like a very sensible naming convention to me - what happens when someone makes something with bigger shot? Is it called a "negative one"?
        • The next size up from 00 (double-aught) is, naturally, 000 - triple-aught. 00 buckshot has a pellet diameter of .33 inches, 000 is .36, and that's just about as big as you'll normally find. Depending on how far away your target is, 12 gauge 000 buckshot is quite capable of putting a hole the size of a basketball in it, which is quite enough for most people ;)
          • Ah, so I guess it's like battery cells (if you want something smaller than A, use AA or AAA, etc.) Still, it seems a bit odd to me. What's wrong with just naming the shot by the size of it? (i.e. instead of calling it 000, if it has a diameter of .36 inches, then call it .36 inch shot or something like that - that just sounds more sane to me.)

            • It's similar to the old-style wire gauge conventions - 1 gauge wire is .300 inches in diameter, 0 gauge is .324 inches, 00 is .348, 000 is .372, etc., etc., all the way up to 0000000, which is .500 inches. It's basically a throwback to the nomenclature in use when shot towers were invented in the late 18'th century or so - I suppose there's just not much incentive to replace the traditional numbering scheme...
          • Some american shotgun makers used to make 8 gauge single barrel shotguns, up until 1938, when the gun was banned for waterfoul hunting. It was such a heavy design, that almost no one wanted one anyway, so there was little protest. After that about half a dozen 8 gauge shotguns were made under special liscence, each year, until the 1950's, and sold to steel foundrys. They were used for shooting open stuck doors on pouring aparatus, in mills that still used old fashioned fire clay channels to direct molten st
            • For this reason, the shells manufactured for 8 gauges after 1938 started at 000 shot, and sometimes went to Quint-0.

              At that size, that's awfully close to being an artillery piece loaded with grapeshot ;)

  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:42PM (#10473432)
    Albert Einstein never said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Even though it is attributed to him zillions of times on the Internet (and sometimes even in print), there is never a source provided for this attribution. It is one of those myths that never seems to die, like Bill Gates' supposedly saying "640K ought to be enough for anybody."
  • Spoilers? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs@nOspam.ajs.com> on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:43PM (#10473449) Homepage Journal
    I have not read the book, but what's above seems to be a synopsis of the entire plot. Shouldn't there have been some kind of spoiler warning? I'm not one of those people who consider the divulging of everything but the resolution of the final cliffhanger to be a non-spoiler.
    • The book is probably just so damn shitty (having approximately just as much quality as the cruddy review) that there was nothing else to talk about except for the plot and the dangers of electronic voting. The second part is, of course, much more worthy of mention, so it got chucked under the Politics topic. End of story.
  • Cheaper here (Score:3, Informative)

    by cloudkj ( 685320 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @03:45PM (#10473476)
    The book is cheaper here [amazon.com].
  • novels are written, to briefly take such men, out of that quiet desperation, even for a short while. Novels therefore require a certain melodrama and fantasy element

    Well, some novels, maybe. I've heard it said that there used to be a habit in the 19th and 20th centuries to write novels in order to provide knowledge or moral teachings to the reader.

    However, I can't find either of those topics in wikipedia, so maybe not...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    it's a story about a flawed voting system and the lead character's named 'chad' ...
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:02PM (#10473650) Journal
    That being the case, novels are written, to briefly take such men, out of that quiet desperation, even for a short while. Novels therefore require a certain melodrama and fantasy element. For if the novels lacked such exaggerated drama, it would suffice to read the New York Times, and not Tom Clancy.

    Utter rubbish. There are many many novels of extra-ordinary importance that have nothing to do with fantasy or melodrama. The parent is describing a certain middle to low brow sense of literature. People write and read stories for a multitude of reasons, and to say that books missing the aforementioned elements equate with reading the newspaper, just goes to show the parent's reduced sense of human existence and imagination as to what literature can be and do.

    Also, the book he describes sounds terrible. I'll wait for the movie to come out and snag a torrent of it in a few years.

    RS

    • It is also utter rubbish to claim that books which do contain a certain degree of melodrama and fantasy are the exclusive purview of middle to low brow senses of literature.

      Your supposed high brow sense of literature is the same infestation which has transformed the visual arts into an arena where only the most ambiguous or outrageous efforts qualify as "true" art, which has granted some deep meaning and import to aleatoric music, which has made of the arts in general something which, if appreciated by any

      • It is also utter rubbish to claim that books which do contain a certain degree of melodrama and fantasy are the exclusive purview of middle to low brow senses of literature.

        That's fair enough. I was a bit hasty and inaccurate. However, I think it's important to counter the parent's notion that melodrama and fantasy are requisite features of good literature.

        RS

        • Actually, since the exemplar of great literature in this discussion seems to be Tom Clancy, maybe melodrama and fantasy *are* necessary. Odd, though, that the review begins with a random Thoreau quote (of questionable applicability), but his literature isn't considered or compared anywhere else. I mean, given Clancy or Thoreau, I would be more likely to consider Thoreau to be the great writer.
  • "[...] and write in a someone choppy style representative of their technical backgrounds."

    That was pretty choppy.

    "[...]the situation is ripe for the situation where e-voting[...]"

    That's pretty choppy too. Hey, are you a computer geek?
  • ...is not the only purpose of a novel. Read some Saul Bellow [abebooks.com], he is the acknowledged master of the form.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I got this book at barnes and noble and finished reading it yesterday. I thought the plot was pretty cool but the hack-along stuff was awesome. This reviewer though sounds like he wants to be a poet more than a techie book reviewer...
  • by StateOfTheUnion ( 762194 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:34PM (#10474038) Homepage
    "As Henry David Thoreau observed 'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.' That being the case, novels are written, to briefly take such men, out of that quiet desperation, even for a short while. Novels therefore require a certain melodrama and fantasy element. For if the novels lacked such exaggerated drama, it would suffice to read the New York Times, and not Tom Clancy.

    Without doubt Thoreau's comment deserves serious consideration; it has been argued that people watch soap operas and follow favorite sports teams because everyday life lacks a certain sense of narrative; however, to imply that the news is not (significantly) dramatic is quite a commentary on life in general . . .

    Regardless of your political leanings, if WMD suspicions, presentations at the UN, North Korean nuclear brinksmanship, war in Iraq, Manipulations of the truth arguably by those for and against war, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, forged documents of a president's military record, and terrorist events in Paris, Madrid, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and NY City are not dramatic enough for the reviewer, then perhaps the reviewer should be checked to see if he still has a pulse. If there was a choice between a "Choose you own Adventure" book and the real world, I would choose the real world.

    I can only guess that the reviewer is either looking to sensationalize his piece with a quote and a small piece of flamebait or perhaps he is one of those that cannot appreciate or perhaps understand the complicated drama that unfolds in the news that affects our daily lives.

  • Pink Floyd (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:40PM (#10474101) Homepage Journal
    As Henry David Thoreau observed 'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.'

    And Pink Floyd said "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way."

    Well, hmm... I thought I'd something more to say...
  • Look I don't buy shit from Abercrombie and Fitch and I go out of my way to avoid Starbucks. I am not a big fan of some companies and tend to vote that way with my dollar if nothing else. However, this stuff really gets boring, really fast. If I read one more book about a fucking evil company that runs around killing people or trying to take over the world, I am going to go sit my ass down at Starbucks and order a something-or-another-latte. No more corporate conspiracies, no more 'megacorps'.

    And for th
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One fo the authors of this book was in the news on Wired [wired.com] and a couple of TV programs because he found a real vulnerability in Diebold's e-voting software (not that it's probably hard to do). Is this REALLY a novel or a prediction for November?
  • Already read it... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheCabal ( 215908 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @04:55PM (#10474263) Journal
    Bought this last week. The story part reads as pretty bad fiction. Maybe I'm just used to reading Tom Clancy... some of the technical info is good, but there are a few gaps in the information present. There was one part in the story where I was totally lost.

    As for the "hack along with the story" part, you can just download the zip and hack away. The back story helps a bit, but I had already cracked the thing a few weeks ago.
  • Congratulations to this wonderful author for not only publishing the first book ever to be written entirely in l33t speak but also for doing it on a d34d operating system, Gentoo. Congratulations to all of the Gentoo developers and users out there, all seven of you. The last gasp of Gentoo has now been captured on the printed page.
  • sigh (Score:3, Funny)

    by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <`jason' `at' `jasonlefkowitz.com'> on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:38PM (#10474708) Homepage

    Lexicon suggests there is serious problems with the software and will brief Davis at midnight that night at the Amsterdam Hard Rock Cafe on the details.

    This is where participants in international intrigue are meeting these days to exchange secrets: exotic locales like the Hard Rock Cafe?

    I miss the Cold War...

  • As shortly following the famous quote "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" comes "A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things."

    Thoreau deplored modern society. He was passionate about learning and thought that a man should spend all of his being trying to learn as much as possible about everything. He woul
  • by kahei ( 466208 )

    What horrible English!

    Addendum:

    Using expressions such as 'save for' does not necessarily make you a good writer. It _does_ make you look a bit full of yourself, though...
  • Sometimes it's about style, too. Clancy's not the best example, (not that he's not a fun read,) but If the New York Times really worked on their cadences, maybe churned it out in iambic pentameter... =) > if the novels lacked such exaggerated drama, it would suffice to read the New York Times, and not Tom Clancy.
  • There seems to be a clue in the readme included with the software. To save everyone the trouble of looking it up, it's from Habakkuk 2:3 in the KJV.
  • The book's website [mezonicagenda.com]has a video of a monkey "hacking" e-voting software. It must've been seen by Bill Amend, creator of the comic Fox Trot, as seen in his recent strip. [ucomics.com]
  • I picked this up while browsing in Barnes & Noble a few days ago. I found it so frustrating that I couldn't finish it - and that doesn't happen often. The problem wasn't the technical content. As technical information goes, it's reasonable; perhaps a long magazine article's worth. And the material on crypto is well written: good analogies, good examples. But the "novel" itself reads like a self-published vanity work in serious need of a real fiction editor. In a $35 book I shouldn't have to be subjected
  • Democracy is a fragile institution. Let's face it: The upcoming 2004 election will be hackable to unethical persons with considerable technical and financial resources. (Hint: Think of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth)

    Thanks in part to relentless media consolidation, the US public is unaware or more apathetic than ever to this important issue.

    The best way to counter this? Forget this Rock the Vote nonsense. Like we really need more people unaware of the issues casting random votes. How about a campaign t
  • thought it was gonna be a howto guide...
  • As a novel, The Mezonic Agenda will not compete with books from Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum.

    Thank God for that. Clancy is an over-the-hill fart who writes books the size, weight and clarity of bricks. Ludlum wrote ridiculous conspiracy-theory novels almost as fat. I regret every minute of my life they've wasted (in moments of weakness, on vactation, I did pick up and read some of these). Like Macdonald's, the aroma is enticing, the anticipation is acute, the after-taste is regret at what you've done to yo

  • As interesting as the e-voting scandal is, I've been convinced that the US government has been hacked for years. People whose main goals in life are money and power tend to gravitate naturally toward positions of authority. They figure out how systems really work as opposed to how they are supposed to work. In our political system, people with a lot of money compete with each other to get politicians elected and influence their actions. Every president since Harry Truman has been the candidate with the most

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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