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Web Monitor

16:20 UK time, Thursday, 18 February 2010

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today in Web Monitor: stifling yawns, the history of fake beards, and dating data.

President Obama• Being the leader of the free world means you have to look at a lot of boring stuff. That's the conclusion of New York Magazine which has compiled a photo gallery of President Obama apparently feigning interest in mundane things. He looks concerned at an array of solar panels, considers the marvels of many microscopes and, for some reason, is shown lots of office wiring.

Brian Palmer at Slate reports on what he sees as the most significant aspect of the Dubai killing recently reported: the presence of fake beards. He looks back at the history of bogus beards:

"Fake beards have played supporting roles in several notable international incidents. When Australia's Nugan Hand Bank collapsed in 1980, amid accusations of having trafficked drugs to support American intelligence operations, one of the institution's founders was allegedly smuggled out of the country in a fake beard. Antonio Mendez, the former chief of disguise for the CIA, used fake facial hair extensively in Cold War Russia. He often put false mustaches on agents going to pick up Russian nuclear secrets from a double-agent called Trinity, so they would blend in with the other comrades. The CIA is so keenly aware of the importance of facial hair that it twice concocted schemes to remove Fidel Castro's beard, hoping that his nude face would seem less authoritative to the Cuban people."

• Data mining at its finest is seen at the blog for dating network OK Cupid, as Mentioned before in Web Monitor. Christian Rudder has been crunching the numbers from his userbase and argues male singletons are wrong to restrict the age of their potential partners, and are wrong if they assume women get less attractive as they get older:

"Many of you are probably scoffing at the idea that many 35 year-olds are as attractive as many 25 year-olds, but there are social factors at work that you might not consider as you go through life making judgments. Most importantly: nationwide, thirtysomethings are much more likely to be married and therefore much more likely to have stopped optimizing their attractiveness. So the typical 35 year-old woman you see out in the world isn't representative of the single 35 year-olds who are still dating and looking good."

Links in full

SlateBrian Palmer | Slate | Go Go Gadget Beard!
Ok CupidChristian Rudder | OK Cupid | The case for the older woman
New York MagazineNew York Magazine | A history of President Obama feigning interest in mundane things


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