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28 January 2013. Email address and letter of Jamison Stolz removed by request.

27 January 2013. Antidote to anodynery:

No surprise, Amazon published this anodyne sock-puppetry today:


27 January 2013. Two responses added.

26 January 2013: By email to:

Jamison Stoltz
Senior Editor
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway
New York, NY 10003-4793

Dear Mr. Stoltz,

Thank you and Phil Lapsley for sending Exploding the Phone. Highly entertaining and informative as we wrote in an Amazon review today.

Regrettably, Amazon posted our review then banned it a few hours later. Odd, it has never happened to us before.

Could be Ma Bell complained.

A copy:


John Young

26 January 2013. Amazon posted then withdrew this review:

Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2013 16:56:35 +0000
From: " Reviews" <customer-reviews-messages[at]>
To: "jya[at]" <jya[at]>
Subject: Your review of Exploding the Phone just went live on

Dear John Young "Cryptome",

Your latest review has just gone live on Amazon. We and millions of shoppers on Amazon appreciate the time you took to write about your experience with this item.

[Now gone.]


26 January 2013

Cryptome Review of Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell, Phil Lapsley, Grove, 2013.

Unemployed coders, engineers and rogue system administrators, rejoice, rat on your buddies, sell-out or go to jail, January 26, 2013

By John Young "Cryptome"

This review is from: Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell (Hardcover)

Highly entertaining and informative, Exploding the Phone generously traces, apt pun, the ever-flourishing contest between hegemonic, sclerotic, centralizing fortresses of privileged authoritarianism and the fleet-minded and agile penetrators of presumed invincible bulwarks. Tone 2600 the crack in the dam doomed to sly break-in from day one of telco engineering vanity.

Not for nothing did the phreaks like Wozniak, Jobs, Gates, and innumerable others decide to monetize their youthful skills as amoral manufacturers of asymmetrical technology to lure users and steal their data. Outsider outlaws became insider law-exploiting cohorts in the ancient tradition of bandits and revolutionaries -- evident in manifold WikiLeaks betrayals for cashing in on the market.

Stopping just short of the Kevin Mitnick era when criminalization of phreaking was implemented after admitting technological defeat, Lapsley's mani-faceted tale of dispersed nic-named phreakers trouncing the Ma Bell wizards of centrality, amply prefigures today's government crackdown on digital freedom hackerdom while at the same time allowing corporations to free-range as predators of the public trust of mis-named "reputable" institutions.

Smartest of today's insiders of hegemonic corporations feel kinship with the outsiders, indeed, join them in setting up competing companies to hopefully topple (gobble Google, Facebook, Twitter) former top-heavy, inept, ham-handed bosses employing the law rigged to favor employers in cahoots with their regulators, lobbying one another and swapping leaders to assure continuance of public dupery. Taxes and profits ever in lock-step to exploit public debt.

Consider the book's account of ATT's shadowy "Greenstar" program of illegal recording of millions of customers' phone calls in an effort to catch miscreants and toll avoiders, then laundering the purloined product for the feds's use in prosecution. Compare that to recent ATT complicity in the National Security Agency's secret siphoning vast data of telecommunications traffic. Replace "miscreants" with "terrorists" and understand why hackers are designated enemies of the (economic) state.

Lapsley, himself a beneficiary of capitalist swag*, is playful about the phreaks, at times all too condescending in descriptions of the persons, a favorite conceit of journalist and popular writing about technology -- when unable to grasp the gritty details lapse into pop psychology to flatter the presumed-to-be dumb-ass reader.

What is most useful beyond the gossip are the accounts of turn-coat informants shopping other phreaks (then as now a lucrative underground industry) and references to technical journals the phreaks mined for attacks on the Apples, Microsofts, IBMs, Ciscos, Oracles and Governments of that time.

The lesson is that tedium of out-of-sight research, unfettered by RL servitude, always wins over high-profile PR and sharks, unless ratted by your BFF or nabbed in a Sabu-like sting of supposedly secure back-channel comms.

Unemployed coders, engineers and rogue system administrators, rejoice at being out of dumb-shit work, volunteer for public interest FOI entrapments, rat on your buddies, sell-out or go to jail, or if lucky, free-load holed up in an embassy with the hegemonic media peddling your ass for profits.

* From the book jacket:

Philip Lapsley cofounded two high technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and was a consultant at McKinsey & Company where he advised Fortune 500 companies on strategy. He holds a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer sciences from U.C. Berkeley and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Lapsley has been interviewed by NPR and BBC and quoted in The New York Times and The Boston Globe on telephone and computer security issues, and is the coauthor of one textbook, nineteen patents, an Internet standard, and many technical articles.

A1 sends:

Hello, I was just reading about Amazon banning your review of "Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Be" by Phil Lapsley. I don't know if it would do any good, but would you mind if I re-posted your review with credit to you; removing the "dumb ass readers" part, which may be their rationalization for deleting it? I do not like censorship, especially when it may pertain to big companies trying to silence dissent of those who disagree with their manipulative tactics.

A2 sends:

Yeah, I can see why Amazon deleted your review of Phil Lapsley's new book, "Exploding the Phone" -- your commentary was not so much as a actual review as it was you riffing on language and making presumptions while simultaneously making semi-incoherent statements like the following:

"Tone 2600 the crack in the dam doomed to sly break-in from day one of the telco engineering vanity."

Yeah, I know what you meant by that, but the wording, or phrasing is so bizarre I can only think you must be playing word games with yourself.

Yours is not such much a review of Lapsley's book as a kind of involuted meditation on your own personal concerns and hobby-horses, like Assange,  for example.

Do you even understand why your "review" was deleted? If not, then it's doubtful my explaining why would be understood or accepted by you, but I think you made a real mistake here.

The reference to Lapsley taking "capitalist swag" is both uncalled for and intentionally insulting. Like you've never taken "capitalist swag" for your own architectural work and consulting?

You know, it's one thing to act the iconoclastic curmudgeon, as you do, but when you try to post a review that contains as many out of context, irrelevant, and bizarre statements and phrasing as your "review," you should expect to be deleted, or as you would have it, "banned."

Your attempt to be clever, if that's what it was, or strange badinage which fails to convince or be on topic, just comes across as rather egotistical and only semi-coherent or comprehensible.

What possessed you to write such a stupid, grasping little piece of junk?

P.S. -- Full disclosure -- I was a source for this book, and the things you say in your piece really don't make much sense or have pertinent relevancy, and you should also reserve your venom for others much more deserving.

I am truly disappointed in you, and the twisted nature of this "review.'

Maybe you were just having a "bad day" when you wrote this piece, but boy, it just seems so off the beam, and nasty, that it really makes me wonder about your mental and emotional equilibrium. Your conceit and ego is all too apparent.