Reading "ESPN (DIS): The empire" (Cover Story, Oct. 17), I couldn't help but draw the conclusion that to "drive forward but always with a mission to keep the customers happy" is diametrically opposed to an $8.8 billion package for Monday Night Football. Unfortunately, football has become a backdrop to a 3 1/2-hour commercial -- how many fans will be happier when they're watching more TV commercials than today? Make me happy and offer Sunday NFL games pay-per-view in high-definition or a seasonal package of my favorite team in HD.
One challenge for George Bodenheimer and ESPN is to balance entertainment and sports. The problem many of us have is that the "E" is coming before the "S." The comparison you draw between SportsCenter and network news is apt, as I always took SportsCenter to be a serious news program that was journalism-driven. I much preferred that to what I see now on SportsCenter when I come back to the States, which is less a news program than a product. It saddens me that the focus is on screamers, camera muggers, and poor attempts at analysis, at the expense of the real journalism that SportsCenter used to practice. Yet the SportsCenter I knew and loved was entertaining anyway.
I doubt George Bodenheimer's ESPN empire would be as large if millions like me were not forced to pay for ESPN through cable fees. It's time for ESPN to be a separate premium channel so only those who want to would pay to watch millionaires play games.
Wheeling, W. Va.
I went right to "Living too large in exurbia" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Oct. 17). I live in West Springfield, Va., nine miles from Washington. The article started with the sprawl in Loudoun County, Va. Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Just yesterday I had a discussion with a real estate appraiser about the housing bubble and who is going to get spanked when the bubble bursts. It's most likely going to be the buyers of the new housing on the outer edges of the current development.
The edges of the '80s and early '90s housing boom were Fairfax Station and Centreville, Va. When the real estate market swooned in 1988-92, those folks were stuck with property that couldn't be refinanced and couldn't be sold, except at a sizable loss. Because I live relatively close in, my house did not drop in value. It'll just increase at a slower rate.
Karen G. Hobgood
The housing market boom is being fueled by variable rate loans, many of which are based on LIBOR (London interbank offered rate), as well as unconventional loans, such as 100% loan-to-value financing. Unfortunately, what we are now seeing is two bad trends for the housing market: a naturally upward trend in interest rates due to this stage of the business cycle and inflationary pressures from an oil price shock.
Robert M. Singer
I was struck by the manner in which the homeowner in Purcellville, Va., stated: "We don't worry about $3-a-gallon gasoline or the price of propane." Points of view such as his expose the reality of the exurbs: It's not about a sense of community or shared experiences -- it's about each homeowner's prerogative to consume energy and land in order to live the American dream. Damn the commonweal!
I'd much rather live in my modest city home, five minutes from my job, and eight miles from an Atlantic Ocean beach.
R. J. Hogan
"The stat" (Up Front, Oct. 17), which says that 95% of Americans aren't getting enough Vitamin E, references the U.S. Agricultural Services Food Survey Research Group. While the Web site uses the nutrition figures that you quoted, it also includes the following information: "The prevalence of inadequate intakes of vitamin E, absence of signs of deficiency in the U.S. population, and increasing evidence of its beneficial effect in reducing chronic disease risk points to a need for further research."
The Google (GOOG)-Sun Microsystems (SUNW) agreement initially didn't make a great deal of sense to me. ("A deal pregnant with possibility," News: Analysis & Commentary, Oct. 17). After reading your article, however, I was reminded that Google's G-mail allows users 2.5 GB of storage space.
For most people, that would be a huge amount of space for just e-mail, but when considered as a repository for online pictures and open office documents, it's a good start. This may be the beginning of a more "on-demand" partnership, as your article suggests.
Oak Park, Ill..