On the subject of commercial messages aimed at children, MisterPants brings us the news that Sesame Street is still brought to you by the letter Z, except that the Z stands for "Zithromax" which is brought to you by the pharmaceuticals firm Pfizer. Are we all happy that learning to read is now effectively joined to the use of pharmaceuticals?

A little bit of research reveals that the letter Z has already led a long life of unauthorized appropriation - from Egyptian beginnings it was adopted by the Hebrews, then the Greeks, who saw it stolen by the Romans (who briefly outlawed it). After that it came into general use in European languages (existing as a complete word in Czech, which holds the z in an unusually high esteem). It is now nicknamed "zed" among the more Anglophilic speakers of English. One hopes that Pfizer and company don't torture the poor z like they have the P and f.

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