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Archives for September 30, 2007 - October 6, 2007

10 things we didn't know last week

18:37 UK time, Friday, 5 October 2007

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

1. Adults use maths skills 14 times daily on average and literacy skills 23 times a day.
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2. The sabretooth tiger might have looked fearsome but had a bite only a third as strong as a modern-day lion.
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3. The opening bars to the theme tune of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em spelt the title of the series in Morse code.
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4. The founder of Which? magazine, Michael Young, also founded the Open University.
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5. Robbie Williams has 600 pairs of shoes at his Los Angeles home.
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6. The children who sang on Pink Floyd's number one hit Another Brick in the Wall (Pt 2) couldn't appear in the video because they didn't hold Equity cards.
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7. Jennifer Aniston has the most bankable face for a magazine cover according to research by Forbes magazine in the US.

8. To skim a stone 51 times it would need to be thrown at a speed of at least 80 kmh.
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9. Sputnik is the Russian word for satellite.
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10. Fifty-seven per cent of children don't know that haggis comes from Scotland.
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5: Observer Sport Monthly; 7: Forbes Magazine.

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Vanessa Papavgeris for this week's picture of 10 conkers).

Your Letters

16:20 UK time, Friday, 5 October 2007

In DC, we also have a problem of this overabundance of black squirrels. However, this is due to human intervention back in the early 1900s, when they decided to restore the squirrel population to its former glory (which had fallen to record lows due to hunting) by importing those creatures here. I think the people had it right in the first place, since there is nothing scarier than meeting one of these things in an alley in the early hours of the morning...
Anika, Washington DC

Yes, David Skene-Melvin (Letters, 4 October) , I have seen a red squirrel with my own eyes. It was in Hamburg 11 years ago.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

I'm 'white' - interestingly referred to by my colour in your random stat .... I could be from any number of countries.... Is this racist or just a generally poor effort?
Mark Champion, Braco, Scotland

Today's random stat is astonishing. Do, for example, 72% of Chinese really feel strong ties to Britain? How many of them have even been here? I guess we should be flattered: I doubt that even 1% of Brits feel strong ties to China.
Adam, London, UK

Were the two people who stole that woman's car females about to undergo sex change operations?
Jen, Wallasey, UK

Re the peacock attempting to mate with the peacock blue car... Peacocks are blue. Peahens are brown. So I doubt this peacock was trying to mate with the car - not in the traditional sense anyway.
Michelle B, London

I was amused to read about the Morse code used in the theme tune for "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em". Imagine my disappointment when a colleague pointed out that the first three dots in the "v" are actually a triple, (three notes in the space of two) and as such should be neither dots nor dashes. I don't know what I am more annoyed about, the fact that It's not right, or that fact that I was made aware of the fact...
Dan Wilkinson, Chesterfield, UK

If John Airey (Thursday letters) can get a second bite at the Morse code cherry (see Letters, 11 March 2005), then so can I (see Letters, 14 March 2005).
Neil Golightly, Manchester, UK

Definitely don't hug this hoodie .
Stoo, Lancashire, UK

Nomination for quote of the day: "Sword swallowers should not swallow swords if they already had a sore throat"
('Gay bomb' scoops Ig Nobel award)
Andrew Agerbak, Harrow, Greater London

People who are amused at "Animals-Doing-Funny-Things " (today's PM) obviously don't have enough children...
Rosie, UK

Paper Monitor

12:10 UK time, Friday, 5 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's day three of the Diana inquest, and the job description of picture editors might be summarised as "shooting fish in a barrel", such is the quantity of sensational until-now-unseen images emerging from the inquiry, gratis.

Until now, Metro has demoted the pictures, from paparazzos and CCTV cameras in the Paris Ritz, to its inside pages. So perhaps it is overcompensating today with its front page headline "A kiss before dying" next to picture of Dodi and Diana sharing a tender moment.

A kiss it ain't. The Mail and Telegraph opt for a more modest "embrace", but even that's overdoing it. Paper Monitor would suggest "nuzzle" or "nestle" although it would also concede that such words lack the impact when twinned with the concept of fragile mortality.

The Sun, meanwhile, takes the opportunity of a Dennis the Menace rebranding to imagine, though its cartoonist Tom Johnston, what a "thoroughly modern" Dennis cartoon strip should look like.

Spread across two pages, it's a dystopian scene of young men shooting at each other, allusions to teenage pregnancy and paedophilia, and happy slapping.

Gnasher, the original yob dog, asks who he can set his teeth into now that all the postmen are on strike and Dennis… Dennis has been Asbo'd.

All of which makes Paper Monitor pine for the days when the end of the working week was heralded by David Blunkett's weekly column for the Sun, in which his guide dog would occasionally take the role of author. Oh well, there's always Tracey Emin in the Indy...

Random stat

10:37 UK time, Friday, 5 October 2007

According to the government's 2007 Citizenship Survey, 91% of Bangladeshis, 89% of Indians, 87% of Pakistanis and 85% of Black Caribbeans felt strong ties to Britain, compared to 84% of white people, 84% of Black Africans and 72% from the "Chinese and other" category.

Your letters

15:59 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2007

Yesterday's story asked Can the squirrel problem be solved? Maybe today's Random Stat can help provide a solution...
Ray Lashley, Colchester, UK

Is there really a red squirrel? It's a rare pleasure for us to see a grey squirrel amongst an overabundance of its black cousins.
David Skene-Melvin, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Re: todays Random Stat. Or should this be meaningless stat? Does it mean that if an animal is in the road, the man is 49% more likely to hit it? Or are there 49% more male drivers? Or are male drivers more likely to be out and about when animals are on the road (early in the morning or late at night). Or what, really? And anyway, as research goes, I think I'd have preferred the "jogging breasts" (in todays "most e-mailed") job!!
Dave Morris, Staines

I find today's "Random Stat" reassuring. It must surely be better for a driver to hit an animal than to hit a female driver.
Adam, London, UK

And there was me thinking that was about the twinges caused by incorrect usage of 'less' and 'fewer'...
HS, Cambridge

Following on from the Morse Code in Some Mothers Do Ave Em, many mobiles use SMS in Morse to alert you that you have a text message.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

John Whapshott, you say, "Trev (Tuesday's letters), in the context you use it cant should be written can't, with an apostrophe.". Please note, the word "it" should be followed by a comma, and the words "cant" and "can't" should have quotation marks around it. Are Magazine Monitor delibately putting misteaks in our Coments?
Johnny, York

Random Stat

11:51 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2007

According to a survey by a car insurance firm, male drivers are 49% more likely to hit an animal on the road than female drivers.

Paper Monitor

11:21 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The headline on Thursday’s Daily Mail Diana splash says: “WHAT DID HER SMILE SIGNIFY?”

It’s hard to tell. Is the Mail trying to get in on the new spirit of interactivity in the media? Do they want readers to e-mail in their answers to the question? Are the reporting team stumped and in need of help?

The explanation must be something a bit exciting. It just must be. The explanation can’t be just that she was having a nice day.

There is great joy on the Animals-Doing-Funny-Things desks at the various papers. A dachshund – called Daisy - found a fossilised mammoth bone while being walked on the beach.

In the Daily Mirror, the dog drapes its paws over the bone, in the Daily Express Daisy does a shocked face while standing behind the bone, and in the Mail the dog tops everything by licking its lips as it ponders the bone.

Aaahh. Animals.

After Tuesday’s Paper Monitor revealed the links between hearing aids marketing and the Tory party conference there is another reference in today’s Daily Mail coverage of David Cameron’s speech.

Sketchwriter Quentin Letts pens: “Near me a hearing aid proceeded to let out a tiny ‘wheeeeee’ for the next hour.”

Is there something going on?

And the Daily Telegraph highlights, as usual, the storming of one of the last bastions of civilisation. Cameron used the word “pissed”. Delegates did not even issue a murmur and there were no complaints to the BBC, it notes.

But what will Colonel Bufton-Tufton say about the Telegraph using it?

Your letters

16:29 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Given the headline to
this article
, I was somewhat disappointed that it wasn't about a live TV debate between Sooty and Tinky Winky arguing over current immigration policy.
Graeme, Dundee, Scotland

Trev (Tuesday's letters), in the context you use it cant should be written can't, with an apostrophe. With an example like that, no wonder only 103% of students passed their GCSE English this year!
John Whapshott, Westbury, England

Is it just me or do the evening mealtimes offered by The Daily Mini-Quiz seem a tad precise? I mean, who on earth plans to eat a meal at 7.47pm?
Andrea, Scafati (Darkest Italy)

Appropriate Namewatch in this story?
Nick Eaton, City of London

Nominative determinism watch: "Greg Childs from the campaign group Save Kids' TV".
David Richerby, Leeds

Isn't the squirrel problem just another manifestation of the prejudice against gingers? Paint all the greys orange I say... that'll teach em.
Kaz, London

Paper Monitor

10:50 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's that time of year again, when fresh-faced youngsters are packed off to university and the "quality" papers are packed full of advice and cheap recipes. The Times has the tantalising tagline what every new student needs to know on its front page.

From reading its survival guide, the question that arises is will they be able to cope? And the answer to that appears to be no. Of the 12 students interviewed, five suffered severe depression in their first year, another four struggled with personal problems, two became insomniacs and one developed bulimia. Maybe a degree should come with a health warning.

The Daily Mail tackles the issue of university in its own inimitable style. It informs us that 66% of parents would put off getting a new conservatory to financially help their children through their studies. Good for them, but it means 34% think the conservatory is the higher priority. After the summer we've just had, maybe they're right.

The Express must be a bit peeved today - nearly all the newspapers have Diana on the front page and they are using the attention-grabbing techniques championed by the paper for so long.

Words such as "sensational", "dramatic" and "search for truth" are used by most of them. The Sun even has an eight-page pull-out called Diana: Search for the truth. The Express actually has nine pages of coverage, but not in a pull-out format. Darn it.

But despite all the competition, the Express looks like the paper with its finger on the pulse when it comes to news because of its extensive coverage of the Diana inquest. As they say, even a stopped watch is right twice a day. Anyone new to this country would not realise the Express has had the same front page for what seems like several decades, only recently ousted by Madeleine McCann. If you hang in there long enough there's a good chance any story will rise to the top of the news agenda again.

Random stat

10:04 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2007

July saw a year-on-year fall of nearly 12% in cigarette sales after the introduction of the smoking ban.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Regarding today's Random Stat - 100% of Magazine Monitors think cheddar cheese comes from Cheddar. It doesn't. Unlike Champagne and Melton Mowbray pork pies, the cheese is officially named after the cheddaring process so can be made anywhere in the world. Having said that, some is still made in Cheddar (by the cheddaring process) and is very tasty.
Andy Elms, Brizzle

As a teacher I cant understand how the resits story is even news! The whole point of resits is to do better, and hence increase your grades, otherwise why bother offering them?
Trev, York

Ultra thin TV! 3mm thick! Picture of the TV taken from the front... Genius
Stoo, Lancashire, UK

Can today's award for "stating the obvious" be awarded to whoever wrote the tagline to the picture at the bottom of the article on Sabretooth Tigers?
Cheryl, Newmarket

And then there were nun...
Fred, Rotherham

I can imagine the squeal of joy when the picture editor discovered they had an opportunity to use that photo of Sting.
HB, London

Kev Guthrie (Monday's letters): No, you're wrong - the government really wish we could all smoke as they make millions of pounds from the revenue tax; it's most of the general population who don't want everyone to smoke and the government actually going along with the majority for once makes it look like they agree.
David Ph, London, UK

I have to disagree with Kev Guthrie (Monday's letters) - the government does want people to smoke, they just can't admit that to the public. Smokers provide £9 billion tax revenue anually (it costs the NHS £2 billion anually to treat smoking-related illnesses). Also, smokers die younger, and so collect less pension. Great value for money.
Sam, Leeds, UK

Alex (Monday's letters) - I might, but I might not.
Lee , Manchester

Paper Monitor

12:12 UK time, Tuesday, 2 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.


That word in red marks a moment of political triumph on the front of the “world’s greatest newspaper”.

That’s the Daily Express of course, which has seen its “INHERITANCE TAX IS THEFT” crusade rewarded by the Conservative pledge to raise the threshold on inheritance tax to £1m.

It’s well known advertisers like to get their spots on pages that carry stories for the right demographic for the product. The Express’s Tory conference coverage on page four and five is accompanied by an advert for digital hearing aids. What are they trying to say?

It’s great minds think alike time again in the Sun and the Daily Mirror. Both carry the story of a 10-year-old boy involved in a collision with England midfielder Steven Gerrard as their splash.

In the Sun it’s “GERRARD RUNS DOWN BOY, 10” and in the Mirror “STEVIE G RUNS DOWN BOY, 10”. Of course, both papers have to carry witness suggestions a few pars down that the boy ran into road.

Over in the Independent there has to be credit for the headline “CHEESE IN OUR TIME”. Who cannot respond to creativity like this, especially in conjunction with a hefty feature on the burning issue of the day – the state of the UK’s cheese industry.

Random stat

10:06 UK time, Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Almost one in five - 19% - of children in the South West believe Cheddar cheese comes from the Midlands, rather than Somerset, while 13% of those in the North West thought hotpot came from London.

Your letters

16:46 UK time, Monday, 1 October 2007

I was tickled by Natalie Imbroolygooly's (exact spelling is tricky) advice to an aspiring fan; "If it is going to happen, it will." It reminded me of the time when I asked my philosophy tutor if he was going to stay at the university for another year in light of a recent departmental change, to which he replied: "I may or may not be staying." Being an annoying splitting-hairs type myself, I admire these utterly unassailable statements appearing in casual conversation. Any MM readers have similar examples?
Alex, Reading, UK

With BBC Worldwide having bought Lonely Planet, which will change - the BBC's Burma or the LP's Myanmar?
Basil Long, Newark Notts

Re: the suspicious looking smoking device in the Ice Cream Adventure pictures (Friday's letters). You're as bad as my mum, who, whilst walking round Nicosia shouted out "look, there's a BONG SHOP". She seemed disappointed when I pointed out they were all shisha pipes. Which, incidentally, are very apt for a trip to Morocco.
Angharad Beurle-Williams, Brixton, London

I think today's award for completely missing the point goes to Simon Clark from pro-smoking group Forest. "..the government doesn't want you to smoke until you're 18."
No, Simon. The government don't want you to smoke, full stop.
Kev Guthrie, Sheffield

If we have to change all our incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents, how will we dim them to produce romantic lighting? Or is romance another victim of global warming?
Paul, Guildford, Surrey UK

I don't know anything about copyright when it comes to sculpture, but surely this goes against the grain?
Stig, London, UK

Paper Monitor

10:37 UK time, Monday, 1 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Great minds think alike, do they? Not according to the great Keith Waterhouse (Daily Mail columnist and author of the best guide for journalists in avoiding stupid mistakes and cliches), who pointed out that great minds do exactly the opposite.

So you hear Anne Robinson's splitting from her husband. You might have seen the news on this website yesterday, with the pleasingly utilitarian headline Marriage split for Anne Robinson. So do you run the story straight? Or... perhaps... yes, that's it! Why not use a WEAKEST LINK pun??? Genius.

Daily Mirror:
This is the weakest marriage.. GOODBYE

The Sun: You are the Weakest Link... GOODBYE!

Daily Express: £60m divorce deal as TV's Anne tells husband: Goodbye

Daily Mail:

Guardian: Severed link

Daily Telegraph:
Robinson severs marriage link

Take a bow the Times. "Anne Robinson to divorce her second husband after 27 years." That's more like it.

And meanwhile if we are celebrating independent thinking, hats off to the Mail on Sunday yesterday, which did an opinion poll of people's attitudes towards the party leaders, but with this original twist: they asked interesting questions.

They included: who would you most like to sit next to at a dinner party? If you were to lend them £20 who would pay it back last? Who would you want on your pub quiz team? Who would iron his own shirt? Who would you want to babysit your child?

Paper Monitor would have happily linked to the story so that you could find out what the answers were. Unfortunately, with it being omitted from the Mail's website, any such association would have been a very weak link indeed. Goodbye.

Random stat

09:45 UK time, Monday, 1 October 2007

Seventy per cent of parents claim to make their own pasta sauce, according to a survey of 2,500 parents by It also found 68% baked children's birthday cakes rather than buy them.

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