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Archives for April 29, 2007 - May 5, 2007

10 things we didn't know last week

18:56 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2007

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Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Asda's buttock-slap is one of the few gestures to have been trademarked. More details

2. The goat who became an internet phenomenon after "marrying" a Sudanese man was named Rose. More details

3. New York may be "the city that never sleeps", but its pedestrians only rank eighth in a global study of walking pace.

4. Pandas in captivity don't need "Viagra, panda porn videos, or other previously tried artificial stimulants" to contemplate a spot of rumpy-pumpy after all. More details

5. Mirror tycoon Robert Maxwell ate grapes by lowering a bunch into his mouth, stripping the fruit and taking it out leaving only the stalks. More details

6. Apes communicate with gestures that have different meanings depending on the context - a chimpanzee with an extended arm and open hand may be begging for food, asking a female chimp for sex or reconciling with a male after a fight. More details

7. Men bitten by the Brazilian wandering spider can experience long and painful erections - a condition known as priapism. More details

8. Maggots can treat MRSA. More details

9. Blushing can be treated by cutting the nerve that creates the red flush in the face, neck or upper chest. More details

10. Danny deVito - yes the actor - has created his own brand of Limon cello, the lemony Italian liqueur. More details

Source, where item not linked: 3: Metro, 1 May.

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Sarah Allen for this week's picture of 10 ducks).

Caption Competition results

13:50 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2007

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It's time for the caption competition results.

This week Russian soldiers warm up for a rehearsal of the Victory Day parade.

6. Ian Charnley
"...hold it there, now turn your head and cough..."

5. Julie S, Macclesfield
"Why can't they put the 'use by' date at the top of the boot?"

4. Maggie
"Your turn - right foot on the blue circle."

3. Toby
"Give me a 'K', give me a 'G', give me a 'B'."

2. Susie P
"Nope, it's definitely stuck in 'high kick' - I told you not to order from the Heather Mills range."

1. Nick
The new recruit was struggling to keep his previous role at the Bolshoi secret.

Paper Monitor

10:38 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2007

Comments

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Another terribly interesting "Great Speeches of the 20th Century" pamphlet fell out of the Guardian this morning. There have been some awfully high-brow speeches included in this series, such as Jawaharlal Nehru's landmark 1947 speech at the dawning of Indian independence.

The series is now drawing to its conclusion - and, hark, is that the faint sound of a barrel being scraped? Perhaps that's unkind - today's speech is Earl Spencer's eulogy from his sister's funeral. There's no doubt it was a bold address, but would it really count as a *great speech* of the century?

That set Paper Monitor musing on a conversation which must have taken place in the recent past at Guardian Villas when they were deciding which speeches to include. It would be reasonable to set out to include speeches which were expertly crafted works, rich in allusion, metaphors and classical references, which electrified their immediate audiences and whose impact spread around the country resulting in demonstrations on the streets within days.

Odd then, that Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech didn't make the grade - though "Loathsome Speeches of the 20th Century" might not have appealed to Guardian readers in quite the same way.

It cannot entirely be because his politics fell far to the right of the usual Guardian spectrum, because others for whom the paper's readers have little truck have been included.

Curious, Paper Monitor gives series editor Tom Clark a ring to ask why not. D'uh! Not answering his phone. Tom, if you're out there, drop us a line using the comments button below.

UPDATE 1145: Aha! Paper Monitor was right! Just belatedly caught up with this explanation of the series that Tom Clark wrote in the paper on 21 April.

"We ran into [what makes a great speech] in considering Enoch Powell's anti-immigration 'rivers of blood' speech, made in 1968 as Kenyan Asians arrived in the UK. Powell was a classical scholar, steeped in the rhetoric of the ancient world, and he drew on it heavily - even, in line with the best Roman practice, enhancing the urgency of his tone by holding in his urine in advance of delivering a big speech.

"His speeches were said to 'smell of the wick' - he sat late into the night, weaving in allusions to and oratorical tricks from the ancient world. Much of that is in 'rivers of blood', and no doubt it helped create the immediate impact, seen as racist protesters came out on to the street in support of a man who they felt had finally articulated their fears.

"Looking back at the text today, well-crafted as the words are, they look pernicious above all else. More than that, the predictions they make have proved unambiguously false - immigration happened, and blood was not spilt in the way Powell predicted. In the end, although remarkable, Powell's notorious speech falls short of being great."

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:46 UK time, Friday, 4 May 2007

Yestersday we asked which house name cropped up most often in properties for sale. It's the Cottage, which 26% of you correctly answered, with Rose Cottage in second (62%). Another 12% of you said The Bungalow. Today's mini-question is on the Magazine index now.

Your Letters

17:29 UK time, Thursday, 3 May 2007

I've been considering spoiling my ballot, I've bought it lots of toys, let it watch unlimited TV and play computer games and fed it lots of junk food - does anyone have any other ideas?
Lee, Manchester

It seems that denim offers better protection from the sun than cotton. What sort of denim are they talking about? Not the traditional stuff made from cotton, presumably?Colin Main, Berkhamsted

The Sudanese married goat dies. The question is, can the widower be entrusted with the kids?
Jel, Swansea

Today's daily mini-quiz suggests that properties named "The Cottage" are popular because they appear on the market more. But surely a property that changes hands a lot is somewhere where people DON'T want to live anymore? UNpopular would be a better description; the properties that are most popular are surely the ones that hardly ever come onto the market because the owners don't want to move?
Rob, London, UK

No mention of Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt could be complete without a link to the Agony Booth's review of said drink with the choice quote: "It was like an evil punch made from fruits that had no business ever knowing each other."
Neil Golightly, Manchester, UK

Labour's webpage on tackling climate change includes this little gem:
"The amount we recycle in the UK is increasing, but each and every person in the UK still generates over half a tonne of household waste per year. That would fill dustbins stretching to the Moon and back!"
Really? Half a tonne in dustbins reaching the Moon and back? I am thinking that half of tonne of rubbish in dustbins balanced in a moonward direction is still going to leave a quite considerable gap.
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

Regarding the Kate Moss story, no-one can beat the York Press headline... Moss clothes sell like hot Kates.
Ian A, York

In Too hot to handle , embarrassment is described as a "little death". This has a very different meaning in French which if performed in public could well be embarrassing.
Duncan, Hove

Paper Monitor

11:21 UK time, Thursday, 3 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Perhaps it's the baneful effect of the local elections casting a dark shadow over the news, but the papers are a barren wasteland bereft of interesting nuggets.

The Daily Express frees up pages four and five for OK! magazine's resounding victory over rival Hello!, which had the temerity to print sneaky photos of Catherine Zeta-Jones's marriage to venerable star Michael Douglas.

Sadly, the Express finds no space for Desmond's priceless post-victory quote.

"This Spanish guy, this caddish cheat frankly, that's come over and tried to cheat everybody, has been put in his place."

Pages one to nine of the Independent are mainly the to-be-expected very serious fare: Israel and the Lebanon, elections, gene science. But what's this on page 10… Keira Knightley is considering retiring at 22. The nation's favourite thinifer is worried over images of her naturally slender body being used on anorexia promotion websites, but the real reason seems to be a desire for a change. Perhaps, the Indy empathises.

The Sun also seems to like a change, relegating the acquittal of a 29-year-old female teacher, who had been accused of having sex with a 15-year-old male pupil, to four paragraphs on page 15. The Daily Telegraph decides the story is worthy of the front page with a rather large picture. Could it be because, as the Times suggests, the defendant was "six feet tall, slim and attractive"?

Kelvin MacKenzie in the Sun takes the ferocious war over fortnightly bin collections to new heights with a column featuring a wheelie-bin with Osama Bin Laden on it. Geddit?

Paper Monitor is going back to sleep.

Daily Mini-Quiz

08:55 UK time, Thursday, 3 May 2007

On Wednesday we asked you about a study of world tourist attractions which rated Trafalgar Square as the top British site. Our question was what came second beating the Taj Mahal and Statue of Liberty. A healthy 40.43% knew it had to be Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Your Letters

16:32 UK time, Wednesday, 2 May 2007

I'm sorry but the new photograph of The Queen , is awful. The window is open on grey clouds, the expression on Her Majesty's face is little short of bored and she is plonked on a chair in the middle of nowhere! I bet Cecil Beaton is spinning in his grave!
J. Paul Murdock, West Midlands, UK

Regarding business trademarking bottom slaps and the like, surely the act of 'touching the side of one's nose as if to indicate inside knowledge' has already been trademarked by either Arthur Daley or Fletch from Porridge.
K Walker, Runcorn, UK

I think it is more than overdue that we started the annual "spot Doctor Who inappropriately shoe-horned into an irrelevant BBC story" watch.
Basil Long, Newark, Notts

Re. Quote of the Day . To Lindsay Lohan: No.
John Whapshott, Westbury, Wiltshire, England

Re Turkey party calls for early poll. Presumably, before December 25th?
Peter, MK

Good news - I have found the pennies! Some were down the back of the sofa, some had rolled under the fridge and most of the rest were in the ash-tray in my car.
Colin Main, Berkhamsted

Hah! We stopped yesterday's letters and we'll stop today's too if you don't deposit £50,000 into the account of someone who has contributed to your letters page within the last 12 months, someone at random... oooh, say John Thompson, Southport.
Gremlins, in the works

Paper Monitor would do well to look in their own back yard before mocking the press . Surely none of the papers can quite have rivalled the BBC's own headline Rolling queue gathers no Moss.
James, Edinburgh, UK

"The range makes her look more Jessica Rabbit than Madonna. Which, Paper Monitor thinks, cannot be a bad thing" This quote suggests that PM could perhaps be male or a particular catty female?
Alison, Banchory, Aberdeenshire

Is that really a picture of James II in the Act of Union quiz or an actor in a foppish wig?
Pete C, Birmingham

I enjoyed the Act of Union quiz, but am intrigued to know where Magazine types were able to lay their hands on such high quality images - photos, apparently - of James II & Queen Anne?
Nick Jones

In your Act of Union quiz question 4 is accompanied by a photo of James II. He died in 1701. I am amazed. I thought the first photographic image was not produced until 125 years later.
Alan, Wellington NZ

I was amused by this article as it reminded me of a quote from a rocket scientist friend along the lines of: "analysing linear time-invariant systems (or something like that, I wasn't listening THAT closely) is Maths. 27 times 2 - that's just adding"
Jon, Bristol

RE your article on comments made about women without children in Australian politics , "Mr Heffernan first questioned Ms Gillard's childlessness last year" - if not having children is childlessness, is having children childishness?
Andy W, Solihull, UK

I don't have time to read articles like this ...arrggh my chest...
William Whiz, London

Punorama Results

15:35 UK time, Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Comments

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It's Punorama results time again.

As ever, we gave you a story and you sent us punning headlines.

This week it was the fashion collection designed by Kate Moss going on sale in Top Shop. The model posed for 12 seconds in a window of the company's flagship store in Oxford Street on Monday night, while thousands of shoppers queued outside.

Demand for the collection was so great shoppers were limited to a maximum of five items each from the range.

Not a vintage week for the wordsmiths. Lots of people tinkered with the same adage but Andy Fisher best articulated it with A roaming sloane gathers there's no Moss.

Full marks to Nigel Macarthur who thought outside the box and used the boyfriend connection to come up with Maybe shambles .

A novel and a musical inspired Marc Fox and Candace respectively, who penned Kate expectations and Kit Me, Kate.

The size zero debate was a favourite subject for some. Ration victim was a nice effort by Simon Rooke and Rags and bones by Sue Lee made a similar point.

But the clear winner was Helene Parry who had two efforts which put her head and off-the-shoulders above the rest - The lines, the rich and the wardrobe and the beautifully simple Window lean.


Paper Monitor

11:12 UK time, Wednesday, 2 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There's a lot of hysteria today and not all of it about the sudden resignation of BP's chief executive after "lying to a court about his relationship with another man" (that's how the Guardian plays it; the Daily Mirror prefers "SILLY OLD FUEL", and the Daily Mail comes out all guns blazing... no surprise, given that the Mail on Sunday was involved in the court case).

So what is it that has the papers so aerated? Only a certain supermodel's clothes going on sale at a certain High Street chain.

"HYSTERIA AND THE GREAT KATE MOSS CON" shrieks the Mail, which appears to have had a little too much sugar on its porridge. Paper Monitor's heart sinks even further on seeing the byline "By Liz Jones".

Fortunately, the sub-editors save the bother of reading the inevitable "it's all about me" copy by adding the headline: "Our fashion columnist joined the mob fighting to buy Kate Moss's new clothing range. Her verdict? Tacky outfits. Hugely inflated prices. And a blind worship at the alter of celebrity that defies belief."

And buyers model their purchases for the paper. A 17-year-old says that while she likes her purchases, "I feel like I was caught up in the hype". She spent £230 on five garments, each the size of a pocket handkerchief.

G2, meanwhile, plays a smarter fashion hand by getting three of its writers to dress up as a celebrity, courtesy of said celebs' fashion collections. "Will wearing them make you look like a star... or a tragic wannabe?"

Hadley Freeman, a friend of the Magazine, wears Kate Moss's poppy-print mini-dress, her favourite piece in the collection because, "almost uniquely, it doesn't require its wearer to be Kate Moss's physical twin to look halfway OK".

Another zips herself into Madonna's corset-like pencil skirt and, realising that this is not an outfit in which to cycle to the office, walks to the bus stop. "For the first time in my life, I sashay." But while the outfit makes her move like the Material Girl, she concludes that the range makes her look more Jessica Rabbit than Madonna. Which, Paper Monitor thinks, cannot be a bad thing.

And the last hoists herself first into a Lily Allen (via New Look) ball gown and peep-toe stilettos. Her boyfriend describes the look as "Gwyneth Paltrow at the Oscars", a comparison Lily herself might approve of... although she'd probably process down the red carpet with box-fresh trainers peeking from under the ruffles.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:22 UK time, Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Yesterday we asked one in how many albums sold in the US is by a British artist. It's one in 12 - correctly answered by 37% of you. Another 26% said one in 16 and 37% said one in 20. The current figure is a marked improvement on recent years, with James Blunt, Snow Patrol and Gorillaz among the top sellers. Today's mini-question is on the Magazine homepage now.

Paper Monitor

09:33 UK time, Tuesday, 1 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

indieblairaq.gifCue slapping of forehead in a "D'oh" stylee at the Independent's corporate bedsit this morning. A bright punmeister has come up with a crafty headline which, to an Independent mindset, is the perfect amalgam of style and substance, a powerful statement of political accountability, a slogan round which an entire generation can rally... BLAIRAQ.

So why the forehead slapping? Well, it's simple. Why wait until the eve of his retirement to unveil your lexical barb? If only the Indie had been four years quicker to the joke, just think how history might have been different. (That's something more Indie readers can beat themselves up over.)

Regular readers of this item will realise that the reason the joke might have been so long coming is that it only works if you spell Blair in the appointed manner. Spelling it BLIAR is going to make it tricky to tack Iraq on the end.

Still, at least the paper marks the occasion of the 10th anniversary since the 1997 election. Not many others do. Perhaps this is because they have stockpiled all their Blair enthusiasm for his soon-to-be announced departure. Perhaps they realise that the tarnish of years has made him not quite the sales driver he once was (and certainly nothing to match the Daily Express's "CANCER THREAT FROM 2 DRINKS A DAY").

Or perhaps they realised that yesterday saw one of the most significant and dramatic criminal trials for many years which offers newspapers the chance to showcase the wealth of fascinating background material their expert reporters have been amassing for many months.

Ahem, yes, that must be it. Note to Indie: Blair probably not the story today.

PS. Paper Monitor has been reading the Daily Mail too much recently. Today it offers "BBC puts its TV shows on the Net (Which is all very well, but is there really anything worth watching?)"

One word: miaow!

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:29 UK time, Tuesday, 1 May 2007

In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked how many items shoppers at the Topshop Kate Moss launch were allowed to buy. Obviously a lot of fashionistas out there because nearly half of you (45%) said five and got it right. Try not to be so clever in today's DMQ, which is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

16:20 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2007

Frank (Letters, 27 April), your assumptions about the zero-G effect in parabolic flight are incorrect. As soon as the aircraft changes attitude from the upward angle, the passenger will experience reduction in gravity and weighlessness. This can only continue until the point shown in the diagram. Here, unless the plane were to point directly at the ground (inadvisable for this aircraft) the pilot needs to pull up.
Andrew, Liverpool

RE: Letters, 27 April The zero G section in the article on parabolic flight is correct. Although to begin with the plane is still travelling upwards, it is accelerating downwards in freefall, and this is what causes the feeling of zero G. Likewise, it ends while the plane is still travelling downwards, but has begun to accelerate up again.
Steve Harris

I know people are probably wondering, following the recent story on pennies - an Olympic sized swimming pool (50m x 25m x 2m) can fit about ££36.7m in pennies (20.32mm x 1.65mm). So we've lost about two Olympic sized swimming pools of pennies down the back of the sofa.
HB, London

The research team at QI have (not for the first time) got their facts wrong (Letters, 27 April). You still have to be over 16 to drink alcohol with a meal - the confusion may be that since 2003 accompanied children of any age are allowed in licensed premises.
Rob Stanton, Kenilworth, UK

Headline Iraq reconstruction not working. Does that mean they're reconstructing the war, possibly for Crimewatch, and getting it wrong a second time?
Andy, London

Regarding the Daily Mini-Quiz about Topshop, when I am clothes shopping with my wife I leave her while she tries things on. I use the rule that she takes five minutes in the changing room per item, so in 20 minutes she would try on four items. How Topshop thinks a woman can try on eight items in that time is beyond me!
Tim, UK

So shoppers at Kate Moss's new collection at TopShop are restricted to 20 minutes each, what a great idea, could this be adopted by more shops please?
Stoo, Lancashire, UK

So Hugh Grant is A-list now, is he? Are you suggesting he's in the same league as de Niro, or Olivier? What exactly is the criteria for alphabetically listing celebrities? Is it income, quality of output, or merely how often they're mentioned in gossip columns? Perhaps a handy guide...?
Rob, London, UK

Are shops in Oxford Street arranged in alphabetical order?! New Look had a fire, and nearby Muji, M+S and MacDonalds were affected...
Lucy Larwood, London

Paper Monitor

12:26 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is preparing to evacuate. Monday's Daily Mail presents conclusive evidence that the UK is now, essentially, uninhabitable.

Page 1 - fat people to be denied surgery. Page 2 - 18-year-old princess of the realm snapped "tired" outside nightclub. Page 6 - home information packs will destroy property market. Page 8 - morning after pills handed out like sweeties to teenage girls at school. Page 10 - Billionaires are not paying their taxes. Page 18 - evil fortnightly bin collections sweeping country.

But perhaps most iniquitous of all is on page 7 - evil trading standards officers stop woman selling "Robin tarts" and "paradise slices" as they do not contain Robin meat or originate in paradise.

Richard Littlejohn picks up the theme on page 26 and 27 with an attack on health and safety officials who he mysteriously labels "elf 'n' safety".

The pull-out quote screams: "They'd rather kids sat around shopping centres - shooting up heroin, supping Special Brew and smoking dope - than play hopscotch."

The Sun is having more fun with things on this sunny Monday.

The subs have pulled off a gem as they label the "tired" royal "Princess Beertricks" and they show memorable flair for brevity when they reduce the story on operations for the overweight to three paragraphs with the headline "Fatties' op ban 'is fair'".

Over in the Daily Express there is an update on Prince William's progress as a singleton, suggesting that Holly Branson, the Virgin heiress, could be a potential future girlfriend. Story allows picture of said heiress's dramatic décolletage. Story also says prince was drinking £100 Treasure Chest cocktails. A quick Google reveals these to be "a potent combination of brandy and peach liqueur topped with a bottle of champagne and served in a wooden chest".

In the Times there is a return to the old voice with a short piece on the latest celebrity designer clothes collection. "An undignified scramble is expected when the Kate Moss collection goes on sale tonight."

Paper Monitor feels suitably warned.

Daily Mini-Quiz

08:49 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2007

In Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz we asked how much the BBC pays for each episode of Neighbours. The top answer, and the correct one, was £25,000. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

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