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Magazines

From computer hacking to dog inbreeding, titles like ''Harper's'' and ''The Atlantic'' provide a little madness for this March

Biting Back
The March Atlantic lowers the boom on the American Kennel Club in a cover story called ''The Politics of Dogs.'' Mark Derr argues that the AKC defines quality ''primarily on the basis of appearance'' and that has led to ''destructive forms of inbreeding that have created dogs capable only of conforming to human standards of beauty.'' One snazzy looker with nothing upstairs is the AKC Irish setter, a breed that is ''so dumb,'' said a Humane Society veterinarian, ''they get lost on the end of their leash.'' You'll hear more about this one because people who blow-dry Chow Chows as a hobby are people who write long, splenetic letters to the editor. And at its Manhattan HQ, the AKC is arming for a counterattack. Alan Stern, AKC's vice president of communications, says he already has sent The Atlantic a demand for editorial satisfaction and is scheduling spots on TV and radio talk shows to discuss the piece's ''inaccurate and gross distortions.'' In a preview of what's to come, Stern grouses about Derr, ''The man is just a travel writer.'' GQ profiles a different sort of attack dog: Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor of The Washington Times, a conservative daily launched several years back by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. The standard take on de Borchgrave is to focus on his eccentricities. Writer Joan Mower gives us that — by 9:30 on a typical morning, she reports, de Borchgrave has been up four hours, read four papers, and fired off stinging memos (''Arnaud-grams'') to Times reporters. But she spends more time on his role as a ''terrier'' whose paper nips at, and often scoops, The Washington Post. She gets the Post's elusive owner, Katherine Graham, on the phone and needles her with de Borchgravian theories about her alleged conspiracies against him. ''I hate answering Arnaud,'' Graham told Mower.

Big Brother On-Line
Harper's had a great idea. For its March ''forum,'' it rented a computer bulletin board (the WELL system, originating in Sausalito, Calif.) and invited 35 computer jockeys to participate in an 11-day debate on the ethics of hacking. The idea, senior editor Jack Hitt says, was to dispel the stereotype that hackers are ''just fat kids who spend their life at a computer.'' Harper's wasn't alone in its desire to meet these sometimes shadowy people. Three hours after the bulletin board went up, Hitt got a call from Ed DeHart of the Computer Emergency Response Team, a group partially funded by the federal government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. ''He asked us to send an unedited transcript to help him create 'profiles' of hackers in conjunction with the FBI,'' says Hitt. DeHart says he called only to counsel Harper's against ''glorifying'' hackers. ''We have seen the article,'' he says now, ''and we thought it was a very, very good article.'' Fame is a few years late with its Nixon Is Back story (''The Best Revenge,'' by Peter Collier and David Horowitz), so the authors up the ante by investing Nixon with a special new mojo: ''(T) here is something new in our attitude toward him. At the age of 77, Richard Nixon has become a cult figure.''

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