Your story provided great insight into Microsoft's vision and its development efforts to capture the center of the networked home with the Xbox 360 [May 23]. That piece of equipment will certainly usher in the era of multimedia convergence that experts have predicted. I'll be the first in line to snap up something that can satisfy my craving for video gaming and Internet access (not to mention watching TV and movies) from the comfort of my couch.
Being an avid gamer does not make you a freak. Playing video games is far more involving than just passively watching TV. I hope your article will encourage the less open-minded to experiment with their imaginations a smidgen more. It is very important to emphasize up-and-coming forms of entertainment like enhanced video games, which for many add immeasurably to the quality of leisure activity.
Paul S. Miller
There is no question that the powerful processor and graphics of the Xbox 360 will bring about a new wave of cinematic-quality games the likes of which we can barely imagine right now. But I do not want to invite Bill Gates into my living room. The thought of coping with software problems and rebooting before I can watch TV, listen to music or look at photos of my kids' birthday parties is scary.
Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.
I enjoyed the way your reporting on the evolution of video games countered the negative stereotype of gamers. As a 33-year-old gamer (I've been playing since long before I knew the value of a quarter), I have grown up to witness the rise and fall and rise again of my favorite hobby. Kudos, and keep up the good work.
Daly City, California, U.S.
Your behind-the-scenes look at the Xbox 360 was excellent, but the pictures of the four pasty-faced "hard-core" gamers with their eyes glazed over reminded me why my otherwise modern home will remain video-game-console-free. My children sometimes ask when we will get a game machine (the answer remains never), but most of the time they're very busy reading, playing with friends or creating their own imaginary adventures out in the backyard.
Philip F. Newman
Franklin, Tennessee, U.S.
As a fortysomething closet video-game addict, I'm not at all surprised by the features of the new Xbox. I'm no conservative moralist, but I am worried by the incredible darkness in the gaming world. Most current game designs (besides those of sports and auto-racing titles) are oppressively heavy and angst-ridden. I hope the next breakthrough in gaming ends the ceaseless marketing to the basest instincts of the 18-year-old male psyche. I will stick with sports games, but I am concerned that my 10-year-old son is growing up in a world in which even previously lighthearted games now include blood splattering and bad language. Perhaps bringing the Xbox out of the "boys' room" and into the family room will help change the tone.
Humboldt, Iowa, U.S.
A Case for Press Freedom
TIME inc. has asked the U.S. supreme Court to review lower-court decisions and rule that TIME's White House correspondent Matthew Cooper not be jailed for refusing to disclose confidential sources [May 23]. I commend you for standing up to government interference and coercion. Each day our rights as Americans are slowly being eroded while, for the most part, people sit by and let it happen. Please don't give up and don't give in. There are many people who support TIME and Cooper.
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
I generally agree that journalists should not be forced to identify their confidential sources. In this case, however, it is alleged that a crime has been committed: disclosure of the name of a CIA covert operative. If that is true, those who received the illegally leaked information are at least accessories to the crime. It is a person's civic duty to report a crime, and that duty overrides journalistic privilege. To withhold a source's identity is an abdication of civic responsibility.
Acworth, Georgia, U.S.
While the U.S. makes efforts to establish democracy and freedom throughout the world, American government officials sometimes lose sight of what is happening in their own country. I feel that TIME's Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller have done their job as journalists, which is, of course, to truthfully report the news. Journalists have the right to protect data they think are confidential, the same way a doctor must protect the confidentiality of patients. Anyone who loves freedom will realize that the Supreme Court must rule in favor of Cooper and Miller. The U.S. government should not forget that press freedom in its own country is the first step toward freedom and democracy in the whole world.
The Sniff Test
"The Scent of a Man" reported on new research showing that homosexual men's brains register the same response to male hormonelike pheromones as women's brains do [May 23]. That finding could be used to support the idea that sexual orientation is present from birth. As a gay man, I am frustrated by the ongoing debate about whether sexual orientation is a choice. Why is it that the people who are in a position to know the answer to that question—gays—seem to be ignored by straight people? If you're straight, ask yourself when you chose to be straight. You are what you are; there's no choice involved.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Although a man may truly have an inclination and leaning by his very nature and may show a propensity for certain conduct, none of those factors can force him to act in a particular way. He still has an absolutely free will. A human being can always learn, improve and progress.
(Rabbi) Yaakov Rogalsky
New York City
Risking It All
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon really wants to see peace return to the disputed Gaza Strip [May 23]. Having seen it all, he knows best. Sharon should be given some credit; it's little wonder U.S. President George W. Bush called him a "man of peace." I agree with Sharon's dismissal of efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to rein in the militants. There shouldn't be any compromising of the safety of Israeli citizens. Sharon is dealing with not just the Palestinian Authority but also radical terrorist organizations.
Ahunwa L. Kelechi
Sharon is a tactician who knows how to survive politically but has no realistic long-term strategy for bringing peace to his people and the Middle East. The plan to pull Israeli settlements out of Gaza is all about tactics and is not a genuine peace initiative. The people of Israel would have been better off without Sharon as their leader.
Kochav Yair, Israel
The difference between Sharon and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who tried to negotiate a peace deal with Yasser Arafat, is that Sharon will not tolerate any bombing or shooting while negotiations are under way. The cease-fire that Abbas has arranged with Palestinian militant groups is not good enough because those independent groups may begin shooting at any time. Perhaps, as an incentive for Abbas to bring the militants under his control, Sharon could propose shortening the implementation time of a peace agreement, if one can be reached.
Doing the Old King Tut
King Tutankhamen [May 23] has fascinated people since the uncovering of his magnificent tomb more than 82 years ago, and now modern technology has allowed us to put a virtual face on the legendary Pharaoh. In the late 1970s, an exhibition of artifacts from his tomb toured U.S. museums. We described the show's appeal—and the resulting crass commercialization—in an Oct. 3, 1977, report:
"In Washington, D.C., where King Tutankhamen began his American reign last December, the wait to get in to see his treasures averaged five hours. In Chicago, 2,000 lined up opening day to marvel at the glittering objects found in the tomb of the boy pharaoh who lived in the 14th century B.C. Now it is New Orleans' turn, and ... some of that old Mardi Gras madness has rubbed off on the Egyptian god-king. For starters, Lelong Drive, leading up to the city's Museum of Art, was painted a kind of Nile blue. The Fairmont Hotel opened a tent restaurant outside the museum with such specialties as Sphinxburger, Queen Nefertiti's Salad and Ramses' Gumbo ... The New Leviathan Oriental Fox Trot Orchestra has released an Old King Tut album ... For those who must wait outside the museum, 16 portable 'Tutlets' are at their disposal ... 'The civic and cultural leaders are ridiculing the Egyptian deity,' [one of the exhibition's organizers] complained. 'Why can't we do something with a little class?'"
Setting the Record Straight
One is Left
Our Milestone on the death of radical Maoist Zhang Chunqiao [May 23] said in error that he was "the last surviving member of China's notorious Gang of Four." There is still one remaining member, Yao Wenyuan, who is living in Shanghai.
Father of Invention
In our Milestone on the passing of Andrew Toti [April 11], we mistakenly said the inflatable flotation vest (commonly known as the Mae West) was his invention. Peter Markus, who died in 1973, won the first patent for the inflatable life preserver in 1928.