Freelancer G. Beato saw his first porn flick, Behind the Green Door, as a teenager in the late '70s. The movie was pretty risqué then, but by the time Beato studied the industry for a 1998 article in SPIN it was tame. As obscenity prosecutions slowed down during the '90s and pop culture celebrated the outré and shocking, a new generation of porn producers sought to push the envelope; Beato chronicles the legal backlash in "Xtreme Measures" (page 24). The 39-year-old writer got into do-it-yourself publishing in the age of zines and now runs a weblog at His work also has appeared in The Washington Post, Blender, Business 2.0, Wired, Mother Jones, Newsday, and Salon, among other places.

According to folks like Irwin Schiff, the income tax is voluntary, the 16th Amendment is a fraud, and filling out your 1040 is a waste of time. A cottage industry in books and conferences promotes this view. But is it America's best-kept secret, or a one-way ticket to the hoosegow? Senior Editor Brian Doherty, who takes a look at the "tax honesty" crowd in "'It's So Simple, It's Ridiculous'" (page 42), says the movement "combines my interest in underdogs resisting government and my fascination with bizarre and baroque conspiracy theories." Doherty's book This Is Burning Man (Little, Brown), a ground-level look at the famous annual counterculture fest, is slated for release this summer.

Amy H. Sturgis traces her ancestry both to Andrew Jackson's in-laws and to the Cherokees forced to travel Jackson's Trail of Tears, so she's well situated to assess the frontiersman president's legacy in "Not the Same Old Hickory" (page 58). Sturgis, who teaches Native American studies at Nashville's Belmont University, is the author of two textbooks on the presidency: Presidents From Washington Through Monroe (Greenwood, 2001) and Presidents From Hayes Through McKinley (Greenwood, 2003). She also lectures on the political dimensions of fantasy and science fiction, and writes science fiction stories of her own under a pseudonym.