When I saw the title "Hacker hunters" (Cover Story, May 30), I first thought it might be a call to hackers to come out and help fight these predators -- which, by the way, I would love to do. A typical Old School hacker would never have considered any of the activities these people are guilty of. Most were merely snoops trying to solve the Rubik's Cube.
Now the FBI and police have in their possession millions of credit-card numbers, together with the identities of the people who have been directly and financially affected by these con artists. Some may not even be aware they are victims.
Do the FBI and prosecutors intend to get in touch with the people whose identity and information have been stolen? Will the fraud victims be provided with the names of the cons that are being arrested so that they can try to recover any monetary damages through civil lawsuits? Does the FBI intend to provide information to assist victims in the difficult and time-consuming process of getting the three credit-reporting agencies to remedy the problems on their credit reports? Or will the victims' lives continue without any resolution of these woes?
I would like to clarify information in "Biotech, finally" (News: Analysis & Commentary, June 13): Calvin Miller was the first off-trial patient treated by Siriraj Hospital in Thailand with adult stem cells harvested by a process pioneered by TheraVitae Ltd. This process does not use bone marrow. We draw 250cc of blood and expand the cells in the laboratory for about a week. Then they are implanted back into the patient. We can get the cells by drawing a small amount of blood instead of doing a painful bone marrow extraction. This process will soon allow the use of adult stem cells for treatment on a large scale.
Jay D. Lenner Jr.
Excellent piece on the growing political and marketing clout of "Evangelical America" (Special Report, May 23). I often wonder: Are these organizations attracting like-minded people or "creating" like-minded people? We all know the power of effective marketing -- from chewing gum to $10,000 handbags. An apt quote from The Gods of Man by Carlos Efferson might be: "...an unguarded mind is easy prey for self-delusion."
San Ramon, Calif.
Your report says that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) first withdrew its support, then changed its mind, on "gay rights legislation" ("Culture wars hit Corporate America," Special Report, May 23). But the bill did not, in fact, raise any tough issue. It was not explicitly about gay marriage, but only employment nondiscrimination. The only people who seem to think that nondiscrimination is controversial are professional hate-mongers who use such topics to foment bigotry, falsely frighten, and, most of all, raise money. Microsoft is right to renew its support for fundamental fairness such as nondiscrimination legislation.
Why are the major corporations cowering? Be strong and stand up for what you believe in. I would like to ensure that I am "voting with my feet" and that I am buying products from companies that do not believe in discrimination.
A great concern is that the so-called "culture wars" -- which are largely engendered by evangelicals' reactionary positions -- will turn to real war. How many more zealots like Eric Rudolph will justify bombing, maiming, and killing before we recognize that theological issues belong in church and in one's personal choices and not the town square?
Michael G. Siegfried
Arlington Heights, Ill.
In "When business bows to activists" (Editorials, May 23), you urge Corporate America to resist religious activism and make decisions for "business -- not emotional or religious -- reasons." You correctly chastise companies for backing down to threats of letter writing or boycotts.
On the same page ("Stamping out sweatshops," Editorials, May 23), you reverse course and endorse the political machinations of six "anti-sweatshop" activist groups -- each with a leftist agenda that is inimical to capitalism. Most of these groups are calling for "living wages" where the activists would have the power to decide how much an employee will make, rather than allowing the employees and employers to deal with the issue by mutual consent.
In fact, it is right for members of Corporate America to base their policies on what is ethically correct and on what is in their business interests. Decision makers should never sacrifice good judgment -- either to religious zealots or to pressure groups advocating socialist policies.
Barry A. Liebling
I read with interest "Safety net nation" (Cover Story, May 16): The receding of government- and employer-provided safety nets, the increasing economic risks borne by working Americans, and the rising volatility of family income are all trends that deserve press coverage and public discussion. In this regard, I thought that you might be interested in what I believe to be the most comprehensive set of published statistics on family income volatility currently available. These were generated under my guidance by a group of graduate students at Johns Hopkins University and were published last fall as part of a Los Angeles Times series by reporter Peter G. Gosselin.
The statistics are based on an analysis of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a dataset run by the University of Michigan that has followed the same 5,000 nationally representative families and their spin-offs for nearly 40 years. The techniques used in the analysis are ones that I developed jointly with Peter Gottschalk of Boston College more than a decade ago. The analysis showed that most middle-class families had annual income swings of 16% or less in the early '70s. But that rose to 27% by 2000. All other things equal, this rising income instability suggests that families from the working poor to those fairly far up the income distribution are bearing more economic risk.
Robert A. Moffitt
John Hopkins University
The two telegraphers who bested some youthful "texters" on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, "OMIGOSH U R SO SLO" (Up Front, May 30), were ham radio operators. There are still some 600,000 amateur radio operators licensed by the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S., including many who prefer to use tried-and-true Morse Code. The code gets through when nothing else will. Over 170 years, we telegraphers have developed a rich vocabulary, including "Hi" (dit dit dit dit -- dit dit), which is equivalent to the smiley face.