Web sites

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan

http://www.noor.gov.jo/QNoorjo/ welcome.html

Lisa Najeeb Halaby grew up mainly in the US, though it wasn't a typical American childhood: here she is at age nine in the family photo album, helping President Johnson open Los Angeles International Airport. Her site underplays the romantic trajectory from Princeton co-ed to Middle Eastern monarch, preferring to catalogue a series of contributions to environmental and women's issues. Those wanting to know more are supplied with a detailed form asking them about the nature of their interest. There are shots of the Queen poring over a laptop, "logged on to the Internet." Commendably free from pomp and circumstance, give or take a tiara or two.

Durex World


Not so much something for the weekend, more a way of life: this hi-tech site builds an entire worldview around the humble contraceptive, in half a dozen different languages. Israeli, Saudi Arabian and Taiwanese pages are accessible here along with the UK version, united by a rather twee little animation showing how to fit the thing. Product history is traced from ancient Egyptian origins, through Casanova's "English Riding Coat", to the latest, state-of-the-art polyeurethane. Lots of useful information, though Dr Dilemma's medical advice is necessarily tentative, often just sending people to see a real doctor. If any site is likely to be laddish, this is it - "Pop me on your hard drive," urges the Online Lover screensaver - but the online lovers are available in male and female varieties, and, judging by the preview image at least, PG-rated.

Paper Dinosaurs


With The Lost World rampaging across America, this museum site depicts earlier, more academic attempts to imagine terrible lizards. Starting with Plot's Unrecognised Dinosaur Bone, found in a Cornish quarry in 1676, there's a complex sort of nostalgia latent here, for original lithographs and sketches whose very limits hint at a more acute sense of wonder than is possible now. The concrete replicas designed for the Crystal Palace grounds in the 1850s are on display, and Charles Knight's Leaping Dryptosaurs of 1898, caught in mid-spring, as though about to burst into big screen motion.

The Virtual Pet Cemetery


"Emerson, you silly bird, you've left us in the lurch! You only lasted three days before falling off your perch!"

Not only this ill-fated parakeet, but hamsters, turtles and albino guinea pigs, as well as the usual mutts and moggies, are here lain to rest, with memorial verses submitted by the bereaved at $15 a throw. Photographs are also invited: one unlucky Siamese is immortalised wearing sunglasses. A book, Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates, is on sale, and as well as more mainstream recognition the site has earned an "Internet Roadkill" award.

Canterbury Bombs


That famous Canterbury homeboy Norman Mailer opens this UK addition to the hundreds of graffiti pages on the Web, going on about the "quintessential marriage of cool and style" in the artform. Sadly, most of the JPEGs on display are unlikely to displace the cathedral as tourist bait, or encourage an artistic migration from the South Bronx. The site's creator wants legal "graffiti walls", and his efforts have been assisted by the international Art Crimes site, which catalogues the latest urban interventions, and seeks to legitimise the form with links, for instance, to newly discovered prehistoric cave paintings.

Bill Pannifer

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