Confess all, you PC cybergeeks;The week in view;Opinion

Diane Spencer

In a week providing new money for music and a new deal for truants, there's a new addiction. If you're mesmerised by the computer screen, or a self-confessed cybergeek, help is at hand. The Centre for On-Line Addiction is thought to be the first virtual clinic to treat pathological Internet misuse, or Internet Addiction Disorder.

Symptoms include staying on-line for eight hours or more a day and lying about it; a refusal to quit and a failure to maintain personal hygiene. Ugh.

Kimberley Young, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, who identified IAD in 1994, is set to make a nice little earner out of her Website.

The same can't be said of Lego, the legendary maker of toy bricks, which is scrapping 1,000 jobs worldwide to fight competition from high-tech games. Most children have ditched the bricks for the likes of Sony's Play-Station.

Another old favourite is Tintin, the perpetual boy reporter, who celebrates his 70th birthday amid accusations that his creator, Herge, stole the idea for his hero and companions, Snowy and Captain Haddock, from Jules Verne. The anniversary has provoked a minor avalanche of Herge criticism, analysis, back-biting and reminiscences in Belgium and France.

Another literary controversy is raging in the United States. Jared Sakren, a respected drama teacher, opened a graduate school in theatre studies at Arizona State University four years ago. Last summer his contract was cut short as he had allegedly fostered "a climate of sexism", alienating female colleagues and students.

According to Professor Sakren, his main sin was to insist on teaching Shakespeare. He also refused to subscribe to a narrow feminist reading of literature and he rejected modern texts written by women on politically correct themes. He is suing the university for breach of contract.

Supporters have revelled in his account of being urged to teach a play called Betty the Yeti - about an abominable snow-woman who seduces a logger and turns him into an environmentalist - as a case of PC gone mad.

The Bard is big news here, as the film Shakespeare in Love is being shown free to thousands of schoolchildren as part of the National Year of Reading.

Would-be poets in Bradford can confess to any unusual habits in a special booth in libraries and shopping centres, inhabited by a real-life poet. The "confessional" will provide a quiet space for contemplation and discussion. Sinners cannot expect to escape lightly. "I'm going to send people to hell if I don't like their poetry," said Ian Duhig, the confessor. "Penance will be that they have to read poems from which they can learn, as there seems to be an awful lot more people writing poetry than reading it."

Let's hope they can improve on the late Linda McCartney's Anglo-Saxon lyrics for her song, The Light Comes From Within, which caused the Beeb to ban it. A spokesman for Sir Paul said: "This apparently seditious little word has been used in popular culture since the 16th century... and miraculously that has not resulted in Armageddon."

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Diane Spencer

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