) and others (Cover Story, Asian Edition, Entertainment, European Edition, June 27). Japanese animation has always been a niche player. Japanese animation houses have to cater to the needs of the local market to survive. This, by its nature, necessitates a difference in techniques, and themes, like those in Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke.
Japanese animation's success will depend on how it penetrates and caters to the needs of adult viewers in Europe, where Japanese themes and art have always been appreciated and provided a nice fit to local animation/puppet culture, and in Asia, where Japanese pop culture has been a trendsetter for a decade.
Tokyo "The mortgage trap" (News: The United States, June 27) reminds me of the collapse of Hong Kong's property market in 1997. At that time, most people purchased apartments -- houses are rare in Hong Kong -- with a mortgage up to 90%, with a rate around 13%. They were paying the interest, not only in the first year, but some for up to two or three years. This was mainly because of younger people's limited principal for their first installment, and although risky, it was still considered to be healthy, as this had been practiced for nearly a decade before.
I think one of the very strong indications of a highly speculative market is when people treat fixed assets like day-trade stocks. In 1997 many apartments in Hong Kong had a turnover rate of around one year or less. But to determine if the U.S. estate market is reaching its peak, we need more information than merely the exotic new mortgage alone.
Hong Kong I'd like to comment on a statement in your excellent article "The power of us" (Cover Story, June 20). In mentioning Skype, of which I'm a devoted user and a great believer, you refer twice to "41 million people now using Skype." This figure probably refers to the number of users registered with Skype's main directory. But Skype displays to every user who is online the number of all users online at any given moment, and this is a more accurate measure of the proliferation of this ground-breaking piece of (free) software. In the past nine months since joining the Skype club, I watched this number steadily growing and recently surpassing the 3 million mark.
Brussels Your June 20 issue features a short article with a photo of a new Israeli-built drone helicopter ("The little copter that could...do anything," Developments to Watch). I was among a number of officers during Vietnam who controlled the prototypical Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH). DASH was originally configured to load a torpedo under its belly and was to be used to destroy Soviet nuclear subs.
Spotting and targeting for shore bombardment during Operation Rolling Thunder became a more practical application for DASH. DASH can probably be called the predecessor drone to the much more sophisticated Predator and its ilk being used today in the Middle East.
Roy A. Bobo II
League City, Tex.