Microsoft: Innovation, or Business Savvy?

Your opening paragraph of the article "Microsoft in Court: Cyber-Industry Comes of Age" (Oct. 16) is prejudiced and misleading. You link the antitrust action to "clipping the wings of innovation."

Those of us who have been in the field since Microsoft's DOS have watched how Bill Gates introduced an operating system that was inferior to many existing systems, but due to good business savvy managed to get it to be the standard. Then, by releasing upgrade after upgrade, without ever correcting serious flaws that were not even present in other systems, he kept us buying. The fact that innovation has occurred so fast in this field goes far beyond Microsoft, and has occurred in spite of Microsoft's anticompetitive practices.

Harold Kornylak

Virginia Beach, Va.

Rising Butter Prices

I am amazed that the article "Harvest, With Help From Congress" (Oct. 23) indicates that butter production is being subsidized. Is this the intent of Congress? Butter in the Seattle area is $4.29 per pound, up from approximately $1 a pound just a year ago. In Little Rock, Ark., my sister reports it has recently jumped by a dollar per pound, and she can no longer afford to buy it (she feeds five kids). I am also not buying it.

When taxpayers pay to subsidize farmers' incomes and the prices go up to accommodate a hard year of overproduction, something is dreadfully wrong with the system. Famine has hit quite a few countries recently, mostly because of financial collapses and bad weather, yet there is wheat rotting in silos in Washington State. No buyers, they say. So they are subsidized for low prices. It can't be given away, I hear, because that would drive prices even further down.

So butter prices are up, milk prices are up, and farmers are getting subsidies because they cannot survive with all the excess harvest caused by a lack of foreign sales. Yet, the transnational corporations are making money, stocks are up overall, and the rich get richer.

What is wrong with this system?

K.A. Poore

Graham, Wash.

Finding time for dinner talks

I wanted to point out an important piece of information that was missing from the editorial "Talk to Kids. It Works" (Oct 23). I bet that a tremendous percentage of parents would give anything to be able to spend more time at the dinner table with their children discussing the ill effects of drug use.

A decline in real wages for the American middle and lower classes, however, has created a situation where both parents need to be working 50 to 60 hours each week in order to even buy a table on which to serve dinner. The devastating increase in the need for both parents to be away from their children for extended periods of time every day seems to be the No. 1 factor pulling the American family apart. Unless this underlying issue is addressed and a remedy sought, our children will lack the parental guidance needed to help them steer clear of the haunting specter of drugs.

Brad Stevens


A better solution for squirrels

The Monitor covers wildlife, animal welfare, and environmental issues so often and so well that it was startling to see the "Resident Experts" column (Oct. 21) in which a professional exterminator advises an inquirer on how to rid a property of squirrels by trapping and detaining them for killing.

The very question posed to this "expert" was itself repugnant, since the homeowner ruled out poisoning as a solution only because he/she didn't "want other animals eating it." To regard killing as a solution to any problem is benighted and should not be recommended or endorsed. Instead of consulting a professional exterminator, why didn't the Monitor consult the Humane Society?

Pat Hackett Owens

New York

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