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An Inside Look At Sony

Ask most Americans to name the Japanese company they most admire and it's a safe bet they'll say "Sony." And if they want to impress you, they'll add: "Of course, Sony isn't really Japanese, you know.

Remembering The Stars Of A Century

Our July 19 retrospective on arts and entertainment drew applause, fond memories... and a few yawns. "Your salute to American entertainment was a fascinating treasure," said one letter-writer; another called the issue "a director's delight." A few told us to stick to the news, but many readers were happy to look back and name their favorite artists.

When Managed Care Means Mediocre Care

It's a cold January night in the upper Midwest as the airport van skitters over icy-slick roads to take us Californians to our various hotels. We met only an hour before in the airport but are already joking about going to Lourdes to take the waters.

Celebrating The Latin Heritage

Readers were thrilled with our July 12 report recognizing--"finally"--the Latino influence in the United States. "You captured the positive side of being Latino in the U.S.A.," wrote one.

Generation N

El Conquistador, in the trendy Silverlake section of Los Angeles, is a hard place to find, set off from the street by a doorway of hanging straw. But once you're inside, the Mexican food is authentic and excellent.

The Truth About High School

It was one careless moment in the cafeteria that she now believes will haunt her forever, or at least until graduation, whichever comes first. Blond, smart, athletic and well off, she must have thought she could get away with sitting down with a couple of gawky skaters from the fringe of high-school society, if only to interview them about hip-hop music for the school newspaper.

How To Choose An Hmo

There's a dirty little secret that nobody tells you when it comes time to pluck a health-care plan from your employer's benefits package. Most health-main- tenance organizations are really good at some things--and really lousy at others.

Body Imaging

NOT LONG AGO A FRIEND of mine collapsed in the weight room at our gym. The next thing he recalls is awakening in an ambulance, where a sympathetic paramedic inquired about his medical insurance.

Why Andy Couldn't Read

Millions of kids have been labeled learning disabled. Critics smell a scam here, but researchers say they've begun to unlock the puzzle of bright kids who can't learn.Andrew mertz was a very unhappy little boy in 1995.

Gender Limbo

HEIDI WAS A HEALTHY, full-term baby when she poked her head into the world on Oct. 20, 1961. But the world wasn't sure what to make of her. Instead of congratulating Heidi's 19-year-old mother, the delivery team kept her sedated for several days and wrestled with a baffling question: was this a boy or a girl?

A Natural Mood Booster

KARIN TAYLOR'S black moods were often accompanied by inexplicable bouts of insomnia, crying and lethargy. By last summer she'd sunk so low she didn't care if she lived or died.

Take My Freedom, Please!

SURE, YOU'VE HEARD THE HMO HORROR stories. You've worried about how good your plan really is. But you're no dummy. You've figured out how to win the managed-care game: simply join the plan that has your doctor in it.

Advise And Consent

The shelves of any homes groan under the weight of parenting books. Some are truly awful--ponderously written and clumsily organized. Others offer little more than what most parents would have figured out without much effort.

Does Dole Have A Prayer?

THEY KNEW THE choreography: considerate in a practiced way, two men of power with polite disagreements. Before and after last Sunday night's presidential debate, Bob Dole strode across the stage, his withered right arm at his side, his left hand extended in greeting.

When A 401(K) Is Not Ok

EVERYONE LOVES THE 401(K)-INCLUDING ME, MOST OF the time. Unseen hands pluck money out of your paycheck and invest it for your future, tax-deferred. If you leave the job early, you carry this portable pension with you.

Does Your Hmo Stack Up?

AT FIRST WE COULD IGNORE THEM. THEN we noticed a neighbor joining one. Finally, a fat, forbidding package from the benefits department landed on our desk.

Hope For Damaged Joints

HE HAD ALWAYS FEARED A BULLET, not a boot. But when police officer Dale Clukey approached a drunk driver on Halloween night in 1995, he was knocked to the ground, and out of his job, by a swift kick to the knee.

Kids And Their Cash

There's a big payoff to raising financially savvy children. Kids who learn about money early are often pretty good at making it later. Consider John Bogle Jr., manager of Quantitative Numeric, a top-performing mutual fund.

Boulevard Of Broken Promises

As the president wandered the country last week, shaking down supporters for obscene sums of money ($5 million in all)--and coming very close, according to The Washington Post, to "guaranteeing" a veto on legislation of interest to high-rolling telecommunications contributors--I happened upon the opening paragraphs of "Demosclerosis," Jonathan Rauch's excellent book about American political entropy.

The Game Of Survival

In Sarajevo, U.N. Warehouses are nearly empty, but people don't seem very hungry. There's no electricity, but residents unhook their car batteries at night to run their television sets.

Waving Away The Pain

LIKE A STAB WOUND, A Psychic trauma can fester if it's not successfully treated. While stationed in Panama last year, 28-year-old air force Sgt. Dawn Baumgartner awoke in her own apartment one night to find a stranger pressing a kitchen knife to her threat.

Crime & Punishment

GEORGE FAY SHOULD BE living the American Dream. Now 47, he and his parents immigrated to this country from Romania in the 1960s. Fay rose to become the CEO of a $55 million company in Dayton, Ohio, and lives in Kettering, a quintessential Midwestern suburb flecked with the vivid colors of pools and manicured lawns.

The Big Bear From Beantown?

EDWARD C. JOHNSON III TOOK the helm from his father at Fidelity Investments in 1972 when the Boston firm managed about $4.3 billion in assets. Today Fidelity is the nation's largest mutual-fund company, managing some $340 billion.

The Boys Of Winter On Ice

IN BETWEEN NANCY'S AND TONYA'S practice sessions, the International Olympics Committee actually held a figure-skating championship for men. And for several hours over each of two evenings, nobody in Hamar noticed what the two American women were wearing, eating or even saying.

Tempted By 'Clinton Lite'? Think Again.

IT'S UNANIMOUS! THE known world loves Rep. Jim Cooper, author of the leading alternative to the Clinton health plan. Last week the Tennessee Democrat was embraced by the country's opinion-making apparatus.

Vitamin Revolution

Jerome Cohen, M.D., is no faddist. A professor of internal medicine at the St, Louis University School of Medicine, he used to dismiss the notion that healthy adults had anything to gain from vitamin pills.

Inside The World Of An Hmo

Here are two real-life stories about HMO-style medicine: Debbie Van Winkle, who was 28 years old and in excellent health, was driving to work one day in February 1991 when something went drastically wrong inside her brain--some kind of seizure, a terrifying neurological event.

Doctors Under The Knife

They converged on Washington 1,000 strong last week-pediatricians from Chicago, anesthesiologists from Los Angeles, internists from Utah. They came representing every state in the union and every branch of the medical profession, hoping for the chance to make their voices heard.

The Parent Trap

The priorities of American families are on display every day in the classified ads of urban newspapers. The requirements for child-care help are often extremely detailed: MUST HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN.

Safer Sex

This is a story about the power of love, as it is understood by a certain 17-year-old San Francisco highschool student. Carmen had sex for the first time when she was 13, with a teenage boy from the neighborhood.