BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for May 27, 2007 - June 2, 2007

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2007

A bumper crop to make up for yesterday's non-appearance. The human behind the "human error" has been duly punished.

In your story on the British Fahrenheit 9/11, you mention that it "aims to do for civil liberties what Fahrenheit 9/11... did for the anti-war movement". This film was, in many circles, credited with boosting President Bush's approval rating and ensuring a second term due to the backlash against criticism of one's own country. I doubt it will do that for Blair and would be surprised it that was its aim.
Andy, London

Can we start a competition for the best comment that we don't fully understand from a judge please? My entry is "If by perseverance, the snail could reach the Ark, why can't these worthy ladies stand on and turn the scale" from the air hostess story. Do I win?
James Carter, Manningtree, UK

Is it just me, or do others have problems reading headlines? I'm confused for the second time this week, and thought this (Lower gout risk for coffee lovers) meant there was more risk in their lower regions for coffee-drinkers.
Sarah, Edinburgh

You report that tinted windows are used by the "affluent mother who wants to save the kids from sunburn". But glass blocks most of the UV light. You can't get burnt if the windows are wound up.
Stephen Turner, Cambridge, UK

Paper Monitor, Metro also makes me do things I wouldn't normally do... I wouldn't normally pick up a used and discarded item (i.e. said paper) from the floor of the bus and put it in my bag for later.
Sarah, Edinburgh

Paper Monitor didn't take long to succumb to the lure of Big Brother then. What hope have the rest of us got?
Elaine, Newcastle
Monitor note: Paper Monitor simply saw coverage of the show. So to speak.

I invented circular sudoku in 2005 and my daughter Caroline provided the particular set of puzzles that have recently started in the Times. The early puzzles in the Sunday Telegraph had no hole in the middle and so were hard to read. Later we punched a hole in the centre and the Times filled it with the Earth to give the twist of Planet Sudoku. Yet a handheld game that has won awards gives no official acknowledgement to either me or Essex University Mathematics Dept, which is where it comes from.
Peter Higgins, Colchester

Forget the whole Tinky Winky debacle, by the looks of the Polish Prime Minister's website they are planning to turn the whole of Europe into a giant paddling pool. Just look at the banner at the top.
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

Re orang-utans providing clues as to why we walk on two feet instead of four, may I, notwithstanding all the scientific drivel, suggest that it is easier and quicker in our general environment? This how we were made.
Jeremy, Johannesburg, South Africa

In Why my school uses search wands, the teachers say they "don't have a problem with children bringing weapons into school" - surely far too liberal?
Ed S, New York, US

To answer Pascal's question about the time travellers' convention (Friday letters): it was held at MIT, US, on 7 May 2005.
Alex, Prague, Czech Republic

10 things we didn't know last week

15:32 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2007

10ducks5_203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Humans' ancestors began walking upright while still living in trees.
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2. The front windows of cars must allow 70% of light through; the front windscreen 75%.
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3. Gerry Adams doesn't own a credit card, so gets a friend to download songs from the internet.
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4. The secret to happiness is accepting misery.
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5. A new three-bedroom house must have at least 38 plug sockets.
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6. The world's bestselling author, JK Rowling, has sold more than three times as many books as the next two, Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss, who have an estimated 100 million sales each.

7. Tony Blair's cabinet only made one decision in his first eight months of government. That was to leave the Millennium Dome to the prime minister.

8. No 10, Downing Street, has no keyhole.

9. Forces sweetheart Gracie Fields was stripped of British citizenship after the war.
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10. Ken Livingstone received a dancing Barbie doll as a gift from John Lewis.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Paul Makinen for this week's picture of 10 chicks on Blackpool Sands beach in Devon.

Sources: 6 - Times, 31 May; 7 - Guardian, 29 May; 8 - Guardian, 29 May

Caption competition results

13:34 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2007

It's time for the winnng entries in the caption comp.

This week, fans in fancy dress look on during the IRB London Sevens match between Scotland and Kenya at Twickenham over the inclement bank holiday weekend. But what's being said?

6. Gareth Jones, Isle of Anglesey
"Trust me... the best place to hide is in a crowd."

5. Simon Rooke
The woad to Twickenham.

4. James Carter
"Smurfette and Grandpa just called, they're on their way. I hope they can find us amongst the crowd."

3. Clare
"Why is it always Smurfette that gets the attention?"

2. Nigel Macarthur
"Which do we sue first? The tanning salon or the online hat shop?"

1. Simon Rooke
"Are you sure 'indelible' means easily removed?"

Thanks to all who entered.

Paper Monitor

11:14 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's Friday, vaguely sunny, and Paper Monitor is in a frisky mood, its attention skipping lightly over the nuggets of gold dust - or should that be sprinkles - on offer.

What's Vic Reeves doing as the Tories' new spinmeister? Oh, he's not taken a sharp swerve in his career path after all - it's a look-alike again, Andy Coulson, ex-editor of News of the World, pictured in the Times.

And grown women channelling Barbie are, quite frankly, disturbing. So it is heartening to see that scary, frothy twins on Big Brother have taken the tactically disastrous move of premature bikini deployment (as documented in Metro).

Ha! Bad move, ladies. The ex-editor of gentlemen's magazine Nuts revealed in Saturday's Guardian that stripping off early knocks £10,000 off the fee for an evictee's inevitable topless photo shoot. Presumably it ruins the surprise.

Meanwhile, a journey to work is, for Paper Monitor, rather like a trip to Battersea Dogs Home - all those discarded Metros. Sniff. And rather like a dog-lover might ruffle the ears of a plaintive-eyed stray, Paper Monitor makes a point of reading the odd headline, picture caption, why, sometimes even a story.

Apt, then, that what caught the eye today was a photo of a dog with his head stuck in an ornamental wall, and yesterday it was a fox (a look-alike for a dog) with his head trapped in an old wheel.

Oh, and Team Telegraph has a men's special today (handy for those who couldn't see the problem with Stewart Copeland's cycling suit). Strangely, for an article headlined "COVER YOURSELF UP AND LOOK THE PART", it's illustrated with that picture of Daniel Craig's 007 in those trunks. Feel inadequate yet?

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:20 UK time, Friday, 1 June 2007

Yesterday we asked what will the planned Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Florida, be called. It's the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which 47% of you correctly answered. But 48% opted for The Hogwarts Experience, and 5% for Potter Park. Today's mini-question, on what Bill Gates thinks of the inept PC character in Apple's ads, is on the Magazine homepage now.

Paper Monitor

11:12 UK time, Thursday, 31 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's Day Four of Team Telegraph's modern life makeover, and Paper Monitor is already feeling reinvigorated. So what's on the "to do" list today?

"Bikini babe or one-piece wonder?" asks fashion expert Hilary Alexander, pitching herself square in the middle of the dilemma that presumably faces Telegraph Woman before she flies off to her exotic destination. "Your mirror will provide the answer; don't ask a friend." Go sister...

Presumably, if the answer is one-piece wonder, you could turn to Professor Ben Fletcher, who is not actually a fully paid up member of Team Telegraph, but has a book to push called The No Diet Diet, so is granted honorary column inches. So Prof, how do I get to be a "bikini babe"?

"Draw up a list of situations in which you'd like to apply… different thought dimensions… Each day, apply a different thought-dimension to how you interact with one of the people on your list." And so follows a series of steps that concludes with "social intelligence". "[It] is about helping society in general."

It's not the most obvious way to looking like Keira Knightley at St Tropez.

Leaving the Team to their own devices, something of a backlash seems to be brewing about coverage of the Madeleine McCann case. The Telegraph lines up two writers in a head-to-head on "Are the McCanns playing it right?"

The Times refers to the "inevitable press conference" after the McCanns met the Pope.

Back at Telegraph Towers, they've cottoned on to a thrilling new craze: "tombstoning" - that is, jumping off a high rock into water of unknown depth. It's "dangerous" and a practice that has led to a "string of injuries and death" the paper, which usually laments the days when boys were free to play dangerously without the interference of politically correct health and safety busy bodies.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:28 UK time, Thursday, 31 May 2007

The results of Wednesday's mini-quiz are testament to the belief that Magazine readers are down with the kids. Fort-nine percent of you answered correctly when asked what trainers are called on the south coast? For those who were tempted to say "plimsolls" the correct answer is "daps".

Your Letters

16:14 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2007

I wonder how many of the Stansted protesters fly abroad twice or more a year?
Stephen Turner, Cambridge, UK

Re Not Swampy - this is indeed correct, I think "Nimby" is more accurate.
Owain Williams, Munich

Performance artist 'eats corgi' tells us the man is question is a vegetarian. Shouldn't that be was?
Adam, London, UK

Re Campus extremism request rejected, about lecturers refusing to take part in McCarthy style witch hunts. Professor Anthony Glees claims that the evidence that British universities are causing extremism is "overwhelming" because in the fertiliser bomb terror trial, "five of the people who got life sentences had been students at British universities". It's amazing how often people trot out logic this bad. By the same process it can be seen that, because no fewer than 100% of all convicted terrorists have breathed oxygen in the weeks before their crimes, oxygen causes more extremism than British universities.
Jim, London

Apparently, Microsoft's new "surface" computer allows users to "instead use their fingers to operate the computer". What on earth have people been using until now? Am I doing something fundamentally wrong when I type and click?
Rob, Birmingham, UK

After reading about the look-alikes in Paper Monitor, and not having easy access to newspapers in my office, I went looking for pictures in the Daily Express website. Once I'd run a search, to no avail, it gave me suggestions of what I may like to search for instead. I'll give you three guesses what their "e.g." was...
Tom Webb, Epsom, UK

As a former Southerner now living in Scotland, today's mini-quiz was easy. I feel it needs clarifying that these aren't just normal trainers we are talking about, but rather the lightweight, usually black, slip-ons favoured in primary school PE lessons.
James, Edinburgh

In the mini-quiz, you say that "in Leeds, trainers are called pumps". Nope, plimsolls (of the black or white sort we used to wear for gym) are pumps. Trainers are, in fact, called trainers.
Joanne, Leeds

I've just come across a website that may help those who feel the need to understand quantities in terms of something tangible (Tuesday letters). Weird converter allows you to accurately convert weights into something more comprehensible than pounds and kilos - the weight of a blue whale's testicle, for example.
Bransby, London

My French isn't what it used to be, but I assume "aussi grand qu'un bus Londonien" (Tuesday letters) is about Shane Warne catching the 10.43 to Clapham?
Edward Green, London, UK

It has a four-line caption and image tag text (Tuesday letters), but can anyone tell me what the second picture in this article actually shows?
QJ, Stafford, UK

Gratuitous use of Doctor Who photo alert.
Basil Long, Newark Notts

Punorama Results

16:08 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2007

tinkywinky2_203.jpgThis week's Punorama pounced on the biggest TV controversy of the day – no, not the Diana documentary, not the Big Brother brouhaha, the fact that Polish bureaucrats have ordered an investigation into whether the BBC's Teletubbies promotes a homosexual lifestyle.

Sound familiar? The sexuality of purple 'tubby Tinky Winky was hotly debated eight years ago in the US. He with the triangular head accoutrement is again the focus in this latest inquiry.

"I noticed he was carrying a woman's handbag," spokesperson for children's rights in Poland, Ewa Sowinska, told a magazine. "At first, I didn't realise he was a boy." Read more here.

So how did you do? It wasn't the best of weeks. After the unpublishable ones had been deleted, there was little left to choose from.

But some did shine. There was Judgement Gay from Mike and Tinky Winky's in a Pole lot a trouble from Richard.

As ever, some regular Punorama entrants came up with the goods. There was Spat 'n' Polish from Gareth Jones in Isle of Anglesey, The Cover Purple from Candace, Po lands on her feet, but for Tinky Winky it's no fuchsia from Pix6 and Tubby or not tubby? from Rob Falconer.

The gold star goes to Toffeeman this week for Manbags and Sadgags. The rest of you? Must try harder and keep them cleaner!

Paper Monitor

09:57 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Is that... looks a bit like... it can't be... Ginger Spice dressed up as Paris Hilton and Ray Winstone as Bono?

Nope, it's the Oscars for lookalikes and the Daily Express is in quite a tizz at the prospect of "Paris" arm in arm with "Angelina", saying they look "amazingly like" the stars.

Paper Monitor begs to differ, but recognises that the bottom has rather fallen out of the Spice Girl lookalike market, so what's a girl - and her hair extensions - to do but add Paris's sideways glance to her repertoire? And Ray Winstone does a very good job of impersonating Ray Winstone already, playing everyone from Henry VIII onward. Bono is the next logical option, surely.

A few pages in, there are more doubles in the shape of a Police tribute band. No wait, that's Sting himself, twanging a guitar during mid-air leap, even more agile than his 1984 incarnation. Yes, the band that soundtracked many a music reviewer's youth has reformed and the papers echo with past glories being relived.

The Daily Telegraph takes Don't Stand So Close to Me as the theme for its review of the famously divisive group. "Anyone could be forgiven for not wanting to get too close to [Stewart] Copeland. Wearing an ill-considered cycling suit, headband and spectacles, and pulling furious gurning faces, the hyperactive percussionist resembles an escapee from an asylum for the criminally insane."

Hold up - a cycling suit? Paper Monitor may not know much about fashion, but even it knows that cycling suits are ALWAYS ill-considered. Doubly so on a man pushing 60.

Surely Sting is a better role model with his sleeveless T-shirt, bovver boots and black combats. But cautionary words can be found in the Times. It's a look that made "thousands of Canadian women sigh contentedly", but - BUT - only because it's accessorised with "buttocks that could crack a walnut with a mere twitch".

Menfolk, the fashion police are on high alert.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:52 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Yesterday we asked what makes a woman's heart beat faster, speeding to 120bpm. It's spotting a pair of killer shoes, which 41% of you correctly answered. Another 38% said seeing an image of her husband with other woman, and the rest said an incident of sexism. Today's mini-question is on the Magazine homepage now.

Your Letters

16:14 UK time, Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Re 10 things we didn't know..., the UK has the most post offices in Europe. This may be true (though disputed in Letters yesterday), but in many other countries, you can "post" a letter by leaving it out for the postman to collect. Things become more complicated when you have to travel to the nearest post office/post box to send mail. I've never understood why we can't use this system in the UK!
Rikki, Essex, UK

Re Greg's letter about who is who in the "First sex-swap mayor is sworn in" story. It's all part of the BBC caption vs jpeg name conspiracy - hold the mouse cursor over the picture itself and a different story reveals itself. See, especially, the picture at the top of this story.
Owain Williams, Munich

Re Monday's mini-quiz. You can add to over-recliners, seat-grabbers as a terror of air travel. Can anyone explain the need to grab the back of seats on a plane as you walk along the aisle? When flying in bad weather it is maybe permissible, you don’t want to spill your G’n’T on the way back from the galley, but standing on the runway during boarding? Simple rule of thumb, not just for planes but for all of life, if it irritates you then it will surely annoy the hell out of others!
William Norman-Walker, Woking

Thank you for the warning at the bottom of this page about not endangering ourselves or taking unnecessary risks in taking photos symbolising 48 hours of rain. I suppose the main risk would have been hypothermia.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

The Polish radio listeners who, in this story about "gay" Teletubbies, “pointed out that Winnie the Pooh had only male friends” haven’t been paying attention. I’m fairly certain that Kanga is female, what with her having a pouch and Roo calling her "Mum" and everything.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

In our regional newspaper this morning (La Provence) there was an article on a new French satellite which was "aussi grand qu'un bus Londonien". Alas they didn't mention how many "piscines" that made but it is nice to see imperial (empirical?) measures fighting back.
John Murphy, Lauris, France

Finally, a solution to all our measurement conversion problems! Unfortunately, it doesn't yet cover Olympic Swimming Pools, double-Decker busses or phone boxes, but it can tell you that the Great Wall of China is equivalent to 2,964,335 Shaquille O'Neals. Useful, I'm sure you'll agree.
Shaede, Kingston, Surrey

Paper Monitor

12:49 UK time, Tuesday, 29 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It is a day for Great British News (henceforth GBN).

GBN is characterised by delight at unseasonal bad weather, dangerous but traditional chasing of cheese, grammar schools and house prices.

GBN is illustrated by pictures of inside-out umbrellas, cars throwing up great waves of water and concerned looking middle-class folk.

In the Daily Telegraph, there is the worrying news that we have too many flats and not enough houses.

In the Times, there is the equally worrying suggestion that buy-to-letters will be pursued for back taxes.

In the Daily Mail, Richard Littlejohn rails against the British Council’s decision not to support the 150th anniversary of Edward Elgar’s birth.

”Elgar stands for everything the Guardianistas who run these organisations despise – patriotism and Englishness.”

Away from the world of GBN, the Daily Mirror celebrates the union of Kristin Georgi and Joe Hardy III in Masontown, Pennsylvania.

Ms Georgi is a 22-year-old vision of blonde nubility and Mr Hardy III is, in the words of the Mirror, a “flabby 84-year-old billionaire”.

Paper Monitor rues such cynicism.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:41 UK time, Tuesday, 29 May 2007

On Monday we asked you what faux pas had come top of a survey of the bad habits that airline travellers hate most. A reassuring 57.84% of you correctly guessed that it was reclining your seat too far back.

Your Letters

15:21 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2007

Re Pascal's idle thought about whether there only needs to be one time travel convention, more to the point, would they start by reading the minutes of next week's meeting?
Chris Kenny, Southampton, England

It has been theorised and already proven that time travel is possible. It all becomes less exciting, though, when you realise that you can only travel forwards in time. And even then at a rate of about one second per second.
Colin Main, Berkhamsted

Re 10 things we didn't know..., the UK has the most post offices in Europe. This may be true in absolute numbers but per capita, Switzerland has far more and has no intention of closing any of them.
David M Roberts, Clachamish, Isle of Skye

Must be a British thing, but as soon I saw the picture of the 10 limpets my first thought was "spot the 2 limpets that don't know how to queue".
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

I don't want to be mean, but, as this article is currently generating a lot of letters, I'd like to point out that we could really do with a (L) and (R) in the caption to the main photo.
Greg Hoover, London, UK

Re "Australian pub bars heterosexuals", couldn't you have said bans? I thought there was a new kind of pub-themed trendy bar.
Sarah, Edinburgh

Paper Monitor

11:22 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Daily Telegraph has assembled a crack team of four specialist correspondents to sort out your summer. "YOUR BEST SUMMER EVER" shouts the banner across the top of the Daily Telegraph, with the accompanying strapline introducing, wait for it: "Team Telegraph".

And this isn't even a debut - the paper tells us that "Team Telegraph is back." Paper Monitor is chastising itself for missing this the first time round?

Whatever your thoughts about the daft name, there's no denying that for many of us at least, the weather over this bank holiday weekend has been truly atrocious. If, arghh, it hurts to say it, "Team Telegraph" can magic sunshine and balmy summer breezes from this maelstrom of rain and teeth-chattering temperatures, then fair play to them.

Only, that's not on the bill. Sporting shorts and low-cut summer dresses, "Team Telegraph" are, like you and I, optimistic souls, waiting for the warm weather to return. And when it does they're promising to get us "fit for summer, from healthy food and achievable fitness plans to wearable fashion and bare-able beauty".

And how do we know what areas of expertise each of these team members practise in? Team Telegraph have made it easy for us, each member posing with a prop to denote their specialism. There's a woman with a coat hanger (fashionista), a woman with a compact and blusher brush (beauty expert) a woman with a clutch of asparagus (nutritionist) and a bloke with what, on repeated viewings, looks like a medieval torture instrument (no, it's not a Telegraph reader's law and order poster boy, but a fitness coach).

Paper Monitor gets the message and is starting its sit-ups now.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:34 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2007

As plans were announced to crack down on frivolous Freedom of Information requests, Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked which of the following wasn't a genuine FOI inquiry:

• How often Gordon Brown slammed No 10's door
• Number of bachelors in Hampshire police
• Foreign Office bill for Ferrero Rocher

Well done to the 52% of those who guessed correctly it was the first - the one about Gordon Brown slamming the door of 10 Downing Street. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine front page.

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