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Hey, Steve, Stick With The Turtleneck But Drop The Cape

It's clear the artist of your cover cartoon of Jobs did not see The Incredibles ("Steve Jobs' Magic Kingdom," Cover Story, Feb. 6). "Super" Steve is shown with a cape, and even 6-year-olds who saw the flick know that when it comes to superhero costumes, "no capes" is the rule.

Marc Pfeiffer

Bedminster, N.J.

Re the Disney (DIS)-Pixar (PIXR) deal: Jobs may now have a Magic Kingdom, but his customer service is Mickey Mouse. As the father in a household of two Apple iBooks and three iPods, I'm on the receiving end of Apple Computer's (AAPL) indifference. Owners of sick products are supposed to take them into the nearest Apple store, where they wait for hours to see a technician at the Genius Bar, even if they have purchased a ProCare card entitling them to make a service appointment.

And if they ever have a problem with a transaction at Apple's iTunes Music Store, well, they should just forget it. When I didn't receive the iTunes Gift Certificate I ordered for my son, Apple made it impossible for me to reach anybody by telephone, and my e-mails were met with useless automated responses.

Paul Baudisch

Wellesley, Mass.

Authors Tamara Draut of Strapped and Anya Kamenetz of Generation Debt bemoan the prospects facing students who are leaving college to face a difficult world ("Up against it at 25," Books, Feb. 6). Their challenges are almost microscopic compared with the situation my generation faced: We survived the Great Depression, won World War II, rebuilt Germany and Japan, built schools, colleges, universities, suburbia, and infrastructure on a grand scale. On top of that, we prospered individually.

The parents of the new generation continued along the same path. With ingenuity and common sense the new generation will prosper likewise.

Newell D. Sanders

Retired NASA engineer

Olmsted Township, Ohio

I have been waiting to hear about a growing rift between boomers and Generation Y. The Greatest Generation was followed by the worst. The boomer generation has put the country in massive debt, moved millions of good-paying jobs overseas, reduced future private and public retirement for the younger generations, allowed money to consume our democracy, and even started a war and passed on the tab. It's time the younger generations wake up and take action before it is too late, for themselves and for America.

James Brown

Yardley, Pa.

Oh, please! Give us boomers a break. The only place boomers have failed the X, Y, and Z generations is in failing to instill in them a sense of personal responsibility. The "expectations of material comfort" that may not be met for young people derive from pampered and coddled kids who have grown up thinking they are entitled to live a lifestyle immediately, well...because they want to!

Where is the government when a slacker needs it?

G. Keenan


At age 35 I sit firmly in Generation X. I went to college when I was 19 and lasted one semester. I returned 10 years later and finished my bachelor's degree, walking away with about $10,000 in loans. I recently married, and my wife and I paid for our own wedding. I am about to pay off all my extraneous debt aside from school loans. I do not for one second buy into the lament that I have gotten a bum deal from my parents or anybody else. I do not believe that I am entitled to anything that I do not earn for myself and my family. If you don't have the skills, learn them. If you don't have the money, take a hard look at at your spending and stop buying that $5 cup of coffee.

Glenn W. Meeks

Old Bridge, N.J.

I am amazed the author of "Thirty & Broke" (Special Report, Nov. 14) could maintain any sympathy, or a serious expression, as the crybaby tales of these self-indulged subjects unfolded. It might be time for those people capable of balancing a checkbook to circle the wagons.

J. Cobb

Phenix City, Ala.

"To get rich is glorious" (Global Business, Feb. 6), on the superrich in China, masks the disparities between rich and poor and coastal cities vs. those inland. China is still 80% agricultural and rural. Your article focused on the prosperity of the major cities and ignored the underlying poverty. Before Mao, the same disparity existed and gave rise to the communist revolution. Now the disparity is even more noticeable because of news coverage. In Beijing and other cities, one side of the street has new skyscrapers while on the other side there are slums housing people trying to eke out a living. This can only lead to another revolution unless the living standards of the poor are brought up.

John Ngai

Rego Park, N.Y.

Punishment of corporate criminals may be harsher today than in the '80s, but the continuing spate of executive misdoing means the sentences handed out are not tough enough ("White-collar crime: Who does time?" Enron Special Report, Feb. 6). Senior executives continue to look for loopholes to fatten their already bulging wallets. Grants of millions of stock options are being replaced with grants of millions of shares of restricted stock.

Compliant and conniving boards of directors still shower favors on their senior executives ("Not your ordinary gold watch," News: Analysis & Commentary, Feb. 6). There's little difference between the criminal wrongdoing of a Bernie Ebbers and the excess compensation of a Hank McKinnell of Pfizer (PFE), other than the latter gets away with it because of loopholes. The laws need to be tightened to remove these loopholes.

Chandran Cheriyan

Saratoga, Calif.

Re "A social strategist for Wal-Mart" (Up Front, Feb. 6): While Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been under fierce attack for its alleged lack of social, environmental, etc., responsibilities, and I have been one of those critics, I would like to relate an incident that reflects credit on this embattled company.

My family and I recently survived Hurricane Wilma, along with dozens of other Americans, in a church shelter in Cancun, Mexico. When the three-day-long hurricane finally left the Yucatan Peninsula, all surrounding pharmacies and supermarkets had been looted, destroyed, or severely damaged except for Wal-Mart.

Although commercial power was still down, Wal-Mart opened its doors immediately. While all banking, ATM, and credit-card facilities were out of service all over Cancun, Wal-Mart miraculously (and fortunately for those of us who were running out of cash) was allowing customers to charge their purchases to a credit card.

Maj. Dorian de Wind, USAF-Ret.

Austin, Tex.

"How safe are diet supplements?" (Science & Technology, Jan. 30) neglected to note the NSF/ANSI Standard 173: Dietary Supplements, developed by NSF International in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of Canada.

The NSF mark means the supplement has met American National Standard requirements. It also means products are tested and production facilities are inspected to ensure that what's on the label matches what's in the supplement.

Kathleen Jordan

Dietary Supplements Certification

NSF International

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Editor's note: Three organizations set standards and offer certifications for dietary supplements that meet those standards: the U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention (USP), the National Nutritional Foods Assn. (NNFA), and NSF International, in addition to LLC, a for-profit company.

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