Michael Milken's efforts to rehabilitate his image should be kept firmly in context ("What to Make of Mike," September 30). It is absolutely true that Milken is a financial genius who should receive full credit for inventing the high-yield bond, the most important financing tool of modern times, which has allowed thousands of small companies to grow and create jobs.

It is also true that Milken is a convicted felon who pleaded guilty to relatively minor infractions to avoid facing far worse punishment. His actions were particularly pernicious because of the deep-seated corruption they reflected and because they tainted many hardworking financiers as well as the institution of Wall Street itself. It should also be remembered that Milken's overzealousness caused billions of dollars of unsound paper to be stuffed into S&Ls, insurance companies, and other financial institutions, resulting in the most expensive string of failures since the Depression. STEVEN RATTNER Managing Director, Lazard Freres New York City


Hours after reading Stanley Bing's "Terror at 35,000 Feet" (While You Were Out, September 9), I am still trying to decide whether he intended it as satire. In a world where many earn their living fighting fires, mining coal, and working on offshore oil rigs, does Mr. Bing really expect a medal for enduring a luxury airline flight? Granted, sipping champagne in business class may be the riskiest thing Mr. Bing does. But if things get too rough up there, he can always come down to earth and dodge trucks on the Interstate with the rest of us. ALLEN HALL Barneveld, New York


I strongly believe in the principle of checks and balances. To Gates's vision of the Seventies--"a PC on every desk and in every home" ("A Conversation With the Lords of Wintel," July 8)--I offer my artistic vision as check [see above]. While creating software after first marketing it as vaporware is an excellent business ploy, I am convinced that there are many elegantly designed operating systems and software programs unable to reach the marketplace because of Microsoft's domination. Some say I am naive, but I think social consciousness should be a valid business consideration, along with wealth and power. SHARON D. SIEGEL Albany, New York


Re "You're So Vain" (September 9) about the male plastic-surgery industry: From my perspective as a urologist performing penile-enlargement surgery, I estimate that by the year 2001, 1,000 urologists and plastic surgeons will each be performing 300 combined procedures a year. Penile-enlargement surgery has a low morbidity and a high patient-satisfaction rate. The caveat is that the patient's expectations must be realistic.

Early data from our research study at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City indicate that men want this surgery for psychological reasons: to improve their self-esteem (90%) or macho image (55%), to help them in advancing their career (10%), or because they think that penis size will make them a better lover (55%). In many respects, this surgery is similar to breast enlargement surgery in women. E. DOUGLAS WHITEHEAD, M.D. President-Elect, American Academy of Phalloplasty Surgeons New York City

I can't believe you left out the dollars spent in this country on the gel that makes men's hair stick to their bald heads when they do a comb-over: clearly big dollars there. Leave this type of reporting to People and stick with what you do best. JIM HYATT Walpole, Massachusetts


In its photo essay "Hong Kong Jockey Club" (September 30), FORTUNE wrote of the Hongkong Bank's "ceding influence to the People's Bank of China," which is China's central bank. The reference should have been to the Bank of China, a state-owned commercial bank. Fortune regrets the error.