Monitor Picks

From an in-depth look at Africa to drama on the baseball diamond, here are five things we think you'll really like.

Get outta the house

Had a chance to go camping yet this summer? Here's an excuse to roll out the sleeping bags: The National Wildlife Foundation is again promoting its American Backyard Campout for June 23 (Sunday). Basic idea: Get the family to abstain from high-tech doings for one night (sorry, iPod), pitch a tent, and commune with nature, locally (right out back, in your Outback). For tips: www.backyardcampout.org.

An in-depth look at Africa

The July issue of Vanity Fair, guest edited by Bono, invites rubbernecking at newsstands everywhere. In all, this Africa-themed issue boasts 20 different covers of public figures – ranging from the president to Bill Gates to Brad Pitt – who have invested energy in helping the continent. (See a slide show of the interlinking covers at www.vanityfair.com.) What emerges is a fascinating portrait of Africa with as many hopeful trends as there are reminders of the challenges facing 900 million Africans.

Diamond drama

Before he was a broad-backed slugger and a walking controversy, Barry Bonds swung aluminum as an Arizona State Sun Devil. ESPN2 aired the pro's collegiate clips this week in the run-up to College World Series. On June 22 teams from Bracket No. 1 start their dust-ups in Omaha, Neb. Bracket 2 plays the next day. Bracket winners face off in a best-of-three championship series beginning June 23. Another marathon like Monday's 5 hour, 40 minute game between California teams?

Sweet, that's my street!

We hadn't yet tired of good old Google Earth, and of zeroing in on Buckingham Palace, and that place in Nova Scotia we rented back in '98. Now comes Google Street View. In a handful of US cities (so far) you can now get a ground-level perspective, rotate, zoom, and even "travel" short distances along roads outlined in blue. A testimony to the number of nosy webcams out there? Sure. We'll worry about that after we finish strolling around San Francisco.

Good news for podcast fans

In April, PBS resurrected Bill Moyers Journal with a look at the buildup to the Iraq war. The incisive news program has experienced a good deal of critical success ever since, but if you're as busy as we are, it's hard to make the time to regularly tune in. So try the official podcast, available at www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/ – all the analysis, straight to your earbuds, and available in your spare time.

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