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BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for May 13, 2007 - May 19, 2007

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/10_things_7.shtml" rel="bookmark">10 things

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/10_things/" rel="tag" title="">10_things17:56 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2007

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

1. Hair loss in humans might be reversible.
%3Ca%20href="http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6661849.stm">More details

2. Almost one-third of men are balding by the time they reach 30.

3. 14% of Rolls-Royce owners also own a private jet
%3Ca%20href="http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6667733.stm">More details

4. Dirty Harry and The Exorcist III are based on a spate of unsolved murders in San Francisco in the late 1960s.

5. Jose Mourinho has a Yorkshire terrier called Gullit, named after the Dutch footballer Ruud Gullit.
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A22832543">More details

6. Nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned.
%3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6665109.stm">More details

7. The UK has the most post offices in Europe.

8. The insults "moron", "idiot", "imbecile" and "cretin" were once official medical diagnoses.

9. There were no sperm donors in Northern Ireland, until recently, and only 208 in the UK.
%3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6661261.stm">More details

10. Cranes disappeared from the UK 400 years ago because the East Anglian fenland was drained. They recently returned.
%3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/6659827.stm">More details

Seen 10 things? %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2956357.stm">Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Norm for this week's picture of 10 masked butterflyfish, taken in the Red Sea.

Sources: 2 – Times, 17 May; 4 – Guardian, 12 May; 7 - BBC Radio 5Live, 17 May; 8 – Balderdash and Piffle, BBC Two, 11 May

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_181.shtml" rel="bookmark">Your Letters

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/your_letters/" rel="tag" title="">your_letters17:19 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2007

We've always known there are often communications problems between men and women, but today's daily mini-quiz (on the%3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/default.stm"> Magazine front) sums it up nicely. The two compliments "Have you lost weight" and "you have a great smile" have about 50% of the vote each. Assuming women all got it right and there are 50/50 men/women readers, that means not one man knows how a woman likes to be complimented.
Tim, UK

The %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_178.shtml">letters on the European Parliament translator's joke remind me of a language course provider's advert featuring a British sailor's mayday call: "we are sinking, we are sinking", to which the German coastguard replies: "what are you sinking about?"
Susan, Nottingham

Re %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/6668395.stm">"£26m 'thank you' to whisky staff" - £26m divided by 600 staff, divided by three (as it represents three months salary) means that the average whisky worker at Whyte and Mackay earns £14,444.44 per month. Either their accounts have been sampling the stock, or I'm in the wrong job.
R J Tysoe, London, UK

To anon in Glasgow re %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_180.shtml">perfumed smoke machine smoke. Having worked for a sound and lighting company, I seem to remember that all the smoke for these machines is 'flavoured' My particular favourite being "apple"... although they all smell suspiciously like coconut to me.
Jenni, Coventry

Your %3Ca%20href="http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6665355.stm">article on Carnegie Hall gives directions to Leeds as "go up the M1"... which way is up? Do you mean North? That's only true if you're starting from the South - there's a lot of Britain that isn't in London, you know. You should come some time, it's really not that bad.
Dave Green, The frozen wilds north of Watford

Re Owen's query about why the sudden glut of weather forecasters: a warm front and high pressure?
Bunny, Up North

Re How do you get to Carnegie Hall? How could you have a whole story devoted to Carnegie, with a title like this, and not mention the fact that Carnegie Hall is in Dunfermline, birthplace of Andrew Carnegie himself, and home of the Carnegie Trust? Poor research! Just try carnegiehall.co.uk and see what you get.
Elena, Dunfermline, Fife

Re How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall? Anybody taking your root ("Up the M1, junction 45, turn left") is in for a bit of a surprise. Junction 45 has been closed off since the motorway was built! The council managed half of it before realising they didn't have the money to complete the project!
Johnny Lyttle, Leeds, UK

Re %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_180.shtml">Edward Green's letter - although I haven't had the misfortune of sitting through the Dungeons & Dragons film (it is, by all accounts, absolutely dire), I do know that it was a film of the traditional Role Playing Game and the novels spawned from it. I believe Darren McCormac was referring to the children's cartoon about the kids who go through a magical fairground ride and end up in a fantasy world, unable to get home. The cartoon was certainly a riff on the original D&D themes (with the Dungeon Master character as a guide) but, sadly, nothing to do with the movie. And does anyone know if the kids in the cartoon ever got home?
RP, London, UK

To Edward Green, London, I would have to disagree with your assertion that Dungeons and Dragons is the worst film ever made, as there was a sequel which was released straight to video and was even worse than the original.
Graham, Manchester

With regard to the recent Tintin debate. This is driving me nuts, but I'm sure I remember a live action Tintin film from when I was little. I just remember the end when he was flying what looked like a Sea King helicopter. Can anybody help?
Ian, Redditch

So now we're %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6657203.stm">measuring things in "Connecticuts"? What happened to Wales?
Ryan, Thornton

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/caption_competition_26.shtml" rel="bookmark">Caption competition - results!

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/caption_comp/" rel="tag" title="">caption_comp15:12 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2007


It's time for the caption comp results.

This week, Dexter, a Staffordshire bull terrier, enjoys a traditional English tea - complete with cream cakes - at Claridge's hotel in London, courtesy of pet charity The Blue Cross. Here's the best of the bunch.

6. Shall I paw?
David Hazel

5. "So I'm sitting here enjoying some lamb shanks and wondering how I get back to Mourinho's gaff when these two blokes from PETA are suddenly stood over my table saying 'And so what are you doing here in this place?' -- 'What am I doing here?' I says. More like what are you doing here? And what exactly is that you've just done outside on the pavement? It's dogs like me that will get the blame for stuff like that you know..."
Christian Cook

4. "Odd, that's the third person whose congratulated me on winning the Labour leadership"

3. Police launch undercover operation in search of Mourinho's terrier.
Sean Smith

2. "Might I enquire, your free-range rare breed Suffolk cured ham off the bone with organic wholemeal bread, balsamic dressed baby leaf salad club sandwich served with home-made kettle crisps tossed in Maldon salt… do you still have the bone? "

1. "The dangers of internet dating No 3"
Lee Pike

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/post_19.shtml" rel="bookmark">Paper Monitor

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/paper_monitor/" rel="tag" title="">paper_monitor12:24 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's been a while since Paper Monitor got excited about Sudoku. Not since the Guardian's promise of including "imperceptible witticisms" in its puzzles has there been genuinely exciting Sudoku innovation. But here comes the Times with Circle Su Doku (sic). "Nine new puzzles to solve" promises the front page banner.

In fact, from reading the inside explanation, it sounds as though the Times started knocking the edges off its co-number-ums (if you'll excuse the flexicon) a few days ago – and demand was "so popular" they've come up with some more.

The puzzles themselves don't disappoint – proving pleasingly spherical in a strictly two dimensional way. At the centre of each is a picture of the globe – for which there's no explanation, but perhaps, it’s a useful place to plot Tony Blair's world tour while pondering where to plonk your next numeral.

But why waste your time agonising over circular sudoku for naff all, when, over at the Indy, you could be cracking "the Independent code" (cue that grainy "TOP SECRET"-style typeface) with the lure of a £10,000 prize.

Never mind cracking the code, Paper Monitor is struggling to decipher the instructions – "Today's clue... should lead you to a 10-letter word printed somewhere else in the newspaper. Find the word and make a careful note of it. By the end of the 10 days you will have collected 10 different words, each 10 letters long." Gasp! Oxygen! "You will then need to work out the question that is somehow (Paper Monitor's italics) encoded within them; answer the question; and email your answer to us by 11pm... Remember, the place to look for the 10-letter word is always somewhere in the newspaper." Well, that should be a doddle – just find one 10 letter word buried in 80 pages of thick text.

Paper Monitor has access to a whizzy electronic newspaper library which tots up the number of words per story. It says that today's Independent has 173 stories, each averaging 473 words. A simple calculation reveals that any Indy reader serious about claiming their £10k prize will have to wade through up to 80,000 words (or a typical paperback) just to find TODAY'S word. Ditto for tomorrow, Sunday, next Monday and so on.

If you win the 10 grand, you might put it towards an operation restoring your eyesight which has inevitably been diminished by all the squinting involved in finding those mystery words.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/daily_miniquiz_186.shtml" rel="bookmark">Daily Mini-Quiz

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/daily_miniquiz/" rel="tag" title="">daily_mini-quiz10:22 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2007

Yesterday we asked what proportion of men are noticeably balding by the age of 30. It's almost a third, which 38% of you correctly answered. Another 41% said a quarter and the rest said one-fifth. Today's mini-question is on the %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/default.stm">Magazine homepage now.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/daily_miniquiz/" rel="tag" title="">daily_mini-quiz10:35 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2007

Yesterday we asked who typifies the UK's happiest worker, according to the Happiness at Work survey. It's a female lawyer in Bristol, which 38% of you correctly answered. But 47% wrongly said a male IT worker in Manchester, and another 15% said a male civil servant in London. Bristol is the city with the most workers reporting job satisfaction, with London second and Manchester last. Today's mini-question is on the %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/default.stm">Magazine homepage now.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/paper_monitor/" rel="tag" title="">paper_monitor10:27 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's always interesting when a newspaper columist works themselves up into a state of righteous indignation - and quite frequent. Today it's star columist in the Times, Matthew Parris.

"Yellow ribbons for Maddy in the Commons chamber. Yuk. What disgusting, mawkish, creepy behaviour by pathetic MPs hoping to tap into the emotions of the mob, to live like the common people, feel what the common people feel. 'Look, I’m blubbing too, just like you: vote for me.' Is this how people get sucked into waves of shallow public sentiment? First you copy the ribbons, then the tears and finally you think you’re feeling it too. Poor parents of Madeleine McCann. Why doesn’t everyone just leave them alone?"

Elsewhere in the paper, a cover story in Times2: "Coping with tragedy: The counselling techniques helping the McCanns." Maybe he means everyone expect Times journalists.

Talking of emotions, Sir Mick Jagger is reportedly very upset by comments made by his former wife Jerry Hall, accusing him of being tight with his money, even when it comes to their four children. In fact, he's so upset he's "abandoned his vow of silence" when it comes to the press, to talk to the Times.

The whole of page three is devoted to the scoop - which consists of one sentence. Bet it's a gripping sentence though? Not really.

"I find her remarks absurd, I have always paid all expenses for the children as well as the lion's share of the costs relating to her lifestyle and been more than happy to do so." That, my friends, is it. Hardly worth breaking your "self-imposed media purdah" for. Still, it is a masterclass in building a story from practically nothing.

Finally, the Daily Mail - a critic of super-skinny celebrities - ups the stakes in the size zero debate. It's found a woman who's had 13 children, is pregnant again and has a 23 inch waist - reportedly the size of Victoria Beckham's middle. Also the size Gap use for a seven-year-old's trousers.

After the birth of her first child she was back in her usual jeans in less than a week. After another birth she slimmed back down to 7st 3lbs within days. Come on all you new mothers, not a size zero yet? How lazy.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/your_letters/" rel="tag" title="">your_letters15:30 UK time, Wednesday, 16 May 2007

To all you non-smokers who think you are going to get clean, fresh air when you go on a night out after the ban is introduced, you may want to know that some clubs in Scotland now have perfumed smoke machines to cover the smell of BO.
Anon, Glasgow

To Nic from Sheffield (%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_179.shtml">Tuesday's letters): As a practising doctor who tries to be conscientious about infection control, I'd be intrigued to know how your being vegetarian protects you from MRSA?
N, Peterborough

Re: %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6653175.stm">Mars story - what about the fact that they are unhealthy with or without animal products. That's how I want to prevent getting cancer etc, by eating a healthy diet low in fat, lots of friut, veg and yes, occasionally red meat.
Alison, Banchory, Aberdeenshire

Perhaps those of us who are vegetarians should send a message of thanks to Masterfoods for putting animal products into %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6653175.stm">mars bars etc. We now have a good reason not to eat the (tasty) products that have always been, and still are, not particularly healthy.
Samir, Bath

I hate to be pedantic, but would Darren McCormac (%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_179.shtml">Tuesday's letters) like to list the conditions in which you cannot break down animal fats but CAN break down vegetable fats? Also, if you can't digest fats, you just excrete them. Sweeping statements may work for the Daily Mail, but not in the Magazine, please.
Sedge, Birmingham

I'll overlook Mark Ivey's blasphemy against Tintin (%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_179.shtml">Tuesday's letters) and simply point out that a live-action Dungeons and Dragons film was made a few years ago. It's possibly the worst film ever made. I'd suggest he watch it himself, but even blasphemers don't deserve that.
Edward Green, London, UK

Being an avid watcher of BBC News I have recently begun to notice that all of the weather girls seem to be pregnant. Can you folks shed any light on this?
Owen, Belfast

Monitor note: It wasn’t us.

Re: Thieves steal 250,000 %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/6658691.stm">Flake bars. It looks like the police should be on the lookout for a stash of hot chocolate... Will they be offering a bounty?
Stuart K, Guildford

Surely those who dumped the tonne of horse manure in front of %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6658871.stm">Gordon Ramsay's restaurant should be brought to justice. I'm pretty sure that harassment laws, fly-tipping laws and highway laws have been broken. We should not be celebrating the total disregard that this group show to fellow humans in the name of 'animal rights'. If such a programme was on in France, you'd get a gallic shrug of the shoulders from everyone, PETA inclusive. Its only one horse for God's sake...
Luke, Aberystwyth

Don't you think that Janet Street-Porter and %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6658871.stm">Gordon Ramsay's are somehow made for one another? For although Gordon is now saddled with a tonne of manure, they speak the same unbridled language. One is almost reminded of Frank Sinatra's "love and marriage, go together like a horse and Claridge..." OK, I'll get back to work.
Steve, London

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/spunorama.shtml" rel="bookmark">Punorama Results

13:44 UK time, Wednesday, 16 May 2007


It's Punorama results time again.

As ever, we gave you a story and you sent us punning headlines. This week was the story of a park bench in the village of East Prawle in South Devon. It's the only place residents in the remote seaside town can get a mobile phone signal.

Demand to use the bench to make a call is so great residents and visitors have to queue. Council chiefs have now agreed to move the bench and build a two-foot high concrete podium for callers to stand on instead.

This really got your creative juices flowing. For the first time, in a very long time, there were no overwhelmingly popular themes. Entries included an eclectic range of references, including The Sound of Music and Trumpton. You really spoilt us.

Drawing inspiration from the classic Smiths' song were Anne with Devon knows I'm reachable now and John Coulthard with Devon knows I'm ringable now.

Having fun with a pun on podium were Richard with Weak signal causes pande-podium and Offshore Alan with A-Prawle I-pod(ium).

An honourable mention to Mark Bohan in Dublin for A mobile stone gathers no signal loss, Kip for
Village of the jammed, Murray for Immaculate reception, Helene for It's wood to talk and Andrew Mason for Queue gardens.

But top honours this week go to Candace for Xmitting on the rock on the bay, Diane for the cheeky Life's a bench , Simon for the tongue twister Pew, pew, barely a queue, comfort? Doubtful, and no grub! and Mark Wrighton for High on a bench was the lonely girl heard?


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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/paper_monitor/" rel="tag" title="">paper_monitor10:12 UK time, Wednesday, 16 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Some days, things just make you go not so much hmmmm as "huh?" And today is one of those days, with the papers competing to string together the most opaque headline. And guess what? The fashion sections lead the pack, the business pages not far behind.

Shoulder pads may be back but poverty chic isn't far behind - Daily Telegraph
When I look at the wedges I don't think 'Big Apple' - T2
RPI equals TPI but not CPI - the Guardian
Jose nicked in dog row - pet police raid over Yorkie - Sun
Tate sets out to rescue reputation of artist tarnished by Bubbles - Guardian
Er... are ewe sure you're not a panda? - Daily Mail

It's all "Virgin on the ridiculous" (T2) so Paper Monitor is going for a lie-down.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/daily_miniquiz/" rel="tag" title="">daily_mini-quiz08:44 UK time, Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Yesterday we asked which of Labour's deputy leader candidates was first to reveal the 45 MPs required to be nominated. It's Peter Hain, which only 18% of you correctly answered. Your top three - who also now have sufficient support - were Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson and Hazel Blears. Today's mini-question, asking who is the UK's happinest worker, is on the %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/default.stm">Magazine homepage now.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/your_letters/" rel="tag" title="">your_letters15:34 UK time, Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Is the voting practices of the %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6657207.stm">Eurovision Song Contest really the most pressing issue Richard Younger-Ross could find to table a motion about? Wish I was a politician - I want to table a motion on stopping people poking me in the eye with their umbrellas. I say give them the lash.
Aine, Fearon

Can someone please explain to me why %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6656635.stm">Tintin, one of the most boring and bland cartoons to have ever existed, is able to get three movies made yet great cartoons from yesteryear - like Thundercats and Dungeons and Dragons, which are long overdue for the live-action treatment - aren't even considered? It doesn't make any sense!
Mark Ivey, Hartlepool, UK

Re: The %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6657305.stm">Nine-to-five treadmill. Hardly a new idea...postal workers have been doing it for years!
Oonagh Keating, Liverpool

Regarding Masterfoods rather bizarre decision to ADD %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6653175.stm">rennet to their chocolates, I find it bizarre. I am not a vegetarian and I do not have coeliac disease. However, I find the idea of using rennet in chocolate disgusting and will be avoiding all Masterfoods brands from now on. I don't know about you, but I don't want beef(!) in my chocolates. What do Hindus feel about this?
Kay Grannell, Fleet, UK

James B (%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_178.shtml">Monday's letters), yes you're upset, now take a deep breath and calm down. Some people are vegetarian not through choice - there are people who, plain and simple, cannot digest animal fats and if they ingest them they will become very ill or even die.
Darren McCormac, London

James B (%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_178.shtml">Monday's letters) - there are over three million vegetarians in the UK (say, one in 20 of the population) and coeliac disease is a 1-in-100 people condition. Vegetarians are the bigger group, with bigger spending power, so we're bigger news. As for your assertion it's a choice, well, yes it is, but one I've taken so that I don't get diseases such as CJD, salmonella, MRSA,or even heart disease and some cancers.
Nic, Sheffield

Re: James B's (%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_178.shtml">Monday's letters) angry coeliac letter. Oh, yes!
Purby (coeliac), Bramford, UK

The %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/how_to_say_praia_da_luz.shtml"> pronunciation guide is useful, but I am Scottish, and there is no difference between the oo in book and the oo in boot when I say it. That's all.
Laura, Manchester

The reason the curtains are only opened a bit (%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_178.shtml">Monday's letters) is to retain the buildup of heat in the room. I tried it myself this morning, its does work.
Colin, Oxford

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/paper_monitor/" rel="tag" title="">paper_monitor11:13 UK time, Tuesday, 15 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Hell hath no fury like a spurned theatre critic. So when the artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, launched an attack on Fleet Street's raft of ageing, white male reviewers, the subsequent act of this farce was all too predictable.

The critics have been breaking a leg to prove that, despite their age, gender and ethnicity, they are the most broad-minded, bohemian, socially progressive bunch of hacks you're ever likely to stumble across.

Yesterday, the Times' Benedict Nightingale (aged 68) set the tone: "Personally, I vow to give up when I lose my sight, hearing, enthusiasm or belief in gender equality."

Enter stage left today, the Guardian's Michael Billington, who doesn't reveal his age (but Charles Spencer over at the Telegraph outs him as "over the normal age of retirement") but says he actually "rather liked" the play directed by a women that sparked this whole slanging match.

Spencer (aged 52) plants a foot in both camps, assuring us that the "sex of a director has never affected my reviews" before giving us a hint of what the interval chat must be like among his free-thinking colleagues.

"Most of our male newspaper theatre reviewers are impeccably liberal gents who regard sexism, Tories, the evils of capitalism and the wickedness of foxhunting with unbridled horror".

Personally, says Spencer, "I'd prefer it if they occasionally rocked the politically correct boat a bit".

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/daily_miniquiz/" rel="tag" title="">daily_mini-quiz09:56 UK time, Tuesday, 15 May 2007

In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which country shared second-last place with the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest. The answer is France, which a whopping 58% of you got right. Is that something to be proud of? Today's DMQ is on the %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/default.stm">Magazine index.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/your_letters/" rel="tag" title="">your_letters15:53 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2007

Does anyone else find it frustrating that "%3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6653175.stm">Mars starts using animal products" makes the news, yet "Mars stealthily drops 'gluten free' certification" doesn't? Vegetarianism is a lifestyle CHOICE whereas having to take up a gluten-free diet is because of a DISEASE! Just because vegetarians scream and shout about their "rights" the rest of us have to listen to it, whilst we actually HAVE to put up with unclear food labelling as a way of life. Other than the overly fussy veggies WHO CARES! Sincerely, One seriosuly annoyed Coeliac!
James B, Sheffield

Re: %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6653175.stm">Mars starts using animal products. So there must be life there after all, although probably not for much longer.
David Dee, Matola Mozambique

In her piece for today's Magazine, %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6648267.stm">Lisa Jardine says: "We are obliged to look at our lived experience in less narrowly focused ways than before." I'd say that the opposite is more true, our life experience is becoming ever more focused and the rise of the internet within work and play is forcing people to adopt far more "me-centric" lifestyles. Give it another 20 years and it won't be just verbs that will be rarely heard it will also be people. The only sound in the streets will be the clickety-click of people tapping out messages.
Michael, Koszeg, Hungary

I have to disagree with no ten of %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/10_things_6.shtml">10 things. My great aunt lives in a house she bought new 54 years ago and she still uses the built in oven and hob that came with the house, so this has to beat the 50 year old fridge. Maybe we can start some kind of watch for old gadgets? By the way, it's still in perfect working order and she gets it serviced every year.
Libby, Coleford, Somerset, UK

Gordon, (%3Ca%20href="%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_177.shtml"">Friday letters), I read a Daily Express headline about a month ago that said "ASPRIN REDUCES CHANCE OF DEATH BY 25%". I've weighed up the data and my advice is to have a go at immortality. With a 1 in 4 chance, its much better odds than winning the lottery.
Chris, London

Is anyone else confused about %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6635759.stm">Peter Robinson "opening the curtains a fraction"? Instead of switching on the light? Unless he's planning to stand next to the window in the nude, I can see no reason not to open them completely.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

I'm also unfamiliar with the old European Parliament translator's joke, "Very cold sailors" (%3Ca%20href="%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_177.shtml"">Friday letters). In fact the only European Parliament translator's joke I know is when the calvados makers of Normany were complaining about an imitation calvados from elsewhere being marketed as calvados. No-one could understand why the British delegation burst out laughing at the words "nous devons chercher la solution dans la sagesse normandaise". Turned out that it came through the simultaneous translation as "This problem can only be solved by Norman Wisdom".
Adam, London, UK

Jackie in Cambridge should know it was in the debate on artificial insemination (%3Ca%20href="%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/2007/05/your_letters_177.shtml"">Friday letters). Someone in English had spoken on the ethics of keeping frozen semen.
Caroline Brown, Rochester, UK

Last September we were promised the new look blog would enhance the MM. Since then we've lost the voting for the Caption Competition, been plagued by gremlins and now we don't get to see the losing comments for either weekly competition. Just how is the new format an improvement over what we had before? I'm barred arn't I?
Simon, Nottingham UK

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/how_to_say/" rel="tag" title="">how_to_say15:39 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2007

A guide to the words and names in the news from Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC Pronunciation Unit

There have been a number of Portuguese pronunciations in the news recently. José Ramos-Horta, pronounced zhuuz-AY RAM-uush OR-tuh (-zh as s in "measure"; -ay as in "day"; -uu as in "book"; -uh as in "the"), won the Presidential elections in East Timor.

In São Paolo, pronounced sow(ng) POW-loo in Portuguese but usually pronounced sowm POW-loh or sow POW-loh in English (-ow as in "now"; -oh as on "no"), up to one million people were expected to gather to watch Pope Benedict XVI canonise Brazil's first saint, Friar Antônio Galvão (pronounced an-TOHN-yoo gal-VOW(NG).

But perhaps the most prominent news item concerns the disappearance of three year-old Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz (pronounced PRY-uh duh LOOSH; -y as in "cry"; -uh as in "the"; -oo as in "boot") in Portugal.

Perhaps because of the orthographical (among other) similarities between Portuguese and Spanish, many English speakers assume that the pronunciation of Portuguese is the same as in Castilian Spanish. Recent examples of this are mispronouncing Portuguese Luz (above) as LOOTH (-th as in "thin") and pronouncing António Santana Carlos (Portugal's Ambassador to the U.K.), as an-TOH-ni-oh san-TAA-nuh KAR-loss, instead of a more Portuguese uhn-TON-yoo suhn-TAN-uh KAR-luush (-uh as in "the"; -oo as in "boot"; -uu as in "book").

Note that the pronunciation of Antônio/António in Brazilian and European Portuguese respectively is not the same, owing to different vowel qualities in the two varieties of Portuguese (indicated by ô and ó orthographically), as well as because of a tendency in European Portuguese to reduce vowels (e.g. pronouncing the first syllable of António as uhn- not an-), which is less common in Brazilian Portuguese.

(For a guide to our phonetic pronunciations, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/phonetics.doc">click here.)

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/paper_monitor/" rel="tag" title="">paper_monitor12:12 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Choice headlines from today's papers.

"NOT SO GEE-WHIZZ! As this trendy eco-car [the G-Wiz] is show to be a death trap, our Science Editor asks if drivers can ever mix smugness with safety" – the Daily Mail puts the boot into liberal media sorts, such as Jonathan Ross and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who drive these electric cars.

"So long sarong, the kaftan's back" – the Daily Telegraph finds a reawakening of interest in this loose-fitting smock-like garment beloved of arty middle-aged women.

"He's Camilla's nephew, he's blind, can barely speak, can't count and can't dress himself. And he is also a musical genius. Introducing the HUMAN iPOD" – the Daily Mirror finds a gifted autistic musician.

"OUTRAGE OVER NEW BAN ON CROSS" – the Daily Express reminds us that earnest Christians are apparently the losers in this multi-ethnic, multicultural Britain.

"GORD GETS WILLIES" – the Daily Star on Gordon Ramsay's latest TV stunt: eating animal penises.

"HITLER FOR SIX – Aussie's axe cricket tour over Mugabe's 'Gestapo'" – the Sun, including a mock-up of "how tyrant Mugabe would look as Adolf Hitler"

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/daily_miniquiz/" rel="tag" title="">daily_mini-quiz10:19 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2007

Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz drew on a recent speeding court case, asking to what distance are mobile speed cameras accurate. A persuasive 59% of you guessed correctly, at 100m. Test your Eurovision knowledge with %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/default.stm">today's DMQ

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10 Things...%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/magazinemonitor/10_things/" title="10 Things...">10 Things...
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