I'd like to add some information and perhaps clarify the statement in "CEO Coaches" (Management, Nov. 11) that "there's no industry regulation: Hairdressers require more credentials." The International Coach Federation, an independent 6,000-member nonprofit professional association of personal, business, and executive coaches, seeks to preserve the integrity of coaching around the globe. The ICF has 179 chapters in 30 countries (www.coachfederation.org). ICF credentials are awarded to professional coaches and coach-training agencies that meet or exceed carefully crafted professional standards. This assures the public of the high standards of participating coaches and coach-training agencies and reinforces professional coaching as a distinct and self-regulating profession.
International Coach Federation
First, many CEOs didn't know anything about accounting, and now, they need coaches to get a grip on interpersonal skills. Shouldn't they learn these things before they become CEOs?
Burlington, Vt. In pointing out a correlation in the recent rise in tobacco prices and an increase in the number of obese Americans, "Fewer puffers, more puffies" (Up Front, Nov. 11) stated that this is especially bad since "obesity causes even more chronic health problems than smoking." However, let's not ignore the fact that one person's obesity does not directly affect the health of those around him, as second-hand smoke has been proven to do. While both smoking and obesity are huge health issues facing the U.S., smoking is a much more insidious health problem because of its untold effect on nonsmokers.
Atlanta My answer to "Is the sun setting on Hong Kong's freedom?" (International Business, Nov. 18) is a categorical no. Our proposals to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law to protect national security are largely drawn from existing laws and fully comply with Hong
Kong's well-established common-law traditions and international human-rights principles. With regard to the theft of "state secrets," the existing and proposed offenses are extremely narrowly drawn and based on Britain's Official Secrets Act (1989). The claim that journalists could be prosecuted merely for "unauthorized possession" of information is simply not true.
Nor is it true to say that our proposals would let authorities ban activities whenever they believe that doing so is "in the interests of national security or public safety or public order." All of our proposed measures are subject to the guarantees of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, constitutionally entrenched and promulgated in Hong Kong through the Basic Law. Our proposals would apply only in the most severe of circumstances [such as] an act of violence, a threat of violence, or grave criminal conduct.
In the unfortunate and highly unlikely event that any of these offenses were committed, the cases will be heard in our own courts, which draw on a long common-law tradition and are fully cognizant of the international human-rights laws and standards that apply in Hong Kong. There is no question of extending mainland laws or concepts on national security to Hong Kong.
Secretary for Security
Special Administrative Region In "Is this bud for you, August IV?" (People, Nov. 11), the writers resort to gossip, innuendo, and tabloid-type reporting. By any measure--sales, profitability, corporate growth, stock-price valuation--Anheuser-Busch Cos. is a gilt-edged corporation in the U.S., selling the highest-quality products. That was never mentioned or was glossed over. With your resources, you should be able to do better--though perhaps not as well as Anheuser-Busch does.
John C. Matesich III
Editor's note: The writer is a wholesaler of Anheuser-Busch products. Re "Is the pen finally mightier than the keyboard?" (Information Technology, Nov. 11): Yes, images of handwriting can be stored and transmitted fax-style, but a well-designed tablet computer must have the ability to decipher handwriting in memos, forms, and spreadsheets and convert it to typewritten text. [Otherwise,] the powerful text and numerical processing power of the PC cannot be used.
For a truly functional machine, character recognition that is 99.9999% error-free (six nines) is the goal. Microsoft Corp. seems to be struggling to achieve a 90% rate. With 1 character in 10 in error, typists will find it faster to type in data than correct machine errors. The machine becomes marginally useful only at 99.9%. Microsoft's reputation for shipping software with loads of bugs means the first of these new machines will almost certainly be stinkers. Wake me in five years when they actually have a product.
Paul E. Eckler
Princeton Junction, N.J.
For many years, I have been using the Cross Pad digital notepad that is powered by IBM software. Perhaps this is a case where A.T. Cross and IBM dipped a toe in the water and, finding it too cold, abandoned the concept. Has Bill Gates once again recognized the next paradigm shift? Or is the Establishment correct after all? Who, apart from me, wants a PC that has the functionality of a piece of paper?
Glasgow Re "Global poverty" (Special Report, Oct. 14): The soul of capitalism is alive and well in microcredit--tiny loans made to the very poorest people in the developing world so they can work themselves out of poverty.
It's hard to imagine the impact of a loan as small as $15 to a very poor family--a loan to buy a loom or a cow to sell milk or a few vegetables to sell in the market. The first profits provide health care and a chance to go to primary school. Better sanitation and clean water are next on the list. Microcredit programs, directed to the poorest, are worthy of our increased support.
Calgary After more than 20 years in the semiconductor industry, I am a firm believer in the system-on-a-chip concept ("Dawn of the superchip," Science & Technology, Industrial Management Edition, Nov. 4). However, I disagree with the statement: "For consumers, there is no downside." As entire systems are manufactured on a single integrated circuit, equipment manufacturers--and therefore consumers--are forced to purchase the "complete" system functionality from one company.
This restricts consumers' ability to economically configure best-of-breed (at least by their definition) systems. For example, there are excellent market reasons, in performance and cost, supporting Intel Corp.'s lead in memory chips and Texas Instruments Inc.'s lead in processors. Is the consumer better served by being forced to purchase telephone handsets built with systems-on-a-chip that include Intel's processors or TI's memory?