BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for May 17, 2009 - May 23, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

16:30 UK time, Friday, 22 May 2009

minis_getty_226.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Franco had one testicle.
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2. That condition is called monorchism.
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3. Only 26 people a day, on average, used Yangyang International airport in South Korea last year.
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4. Excessive cola-drinking can cause paralysis.
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5. 29% of women have never used the internet, but only 20% of men.
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6. Seven Speakers of the House of Commons were beheaded prior to 1560.
More details (Guardian)

7. Britain had animal welfare laws before it had child welfare laws.
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8. Child protection used to be enforced by uniformed NSPCC inspectors, known as "cruelty men".
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9. Pringles are potato crisps after all.
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10. The man who was the voice of Mickey Mouse was married to the woman who did Minnie's.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Caption Competition for this week's picture of 10 Minis.

Your Letters

16:25 UK time, Friday, 22 May 2009

In keeping with the Magazine readers obsession with nominative determinism, I spoke to "Sue" at my local council's debt recover department. When I said to her that her's was an ironic name, she said she was really offended and hung up!
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

I've enjoyed your recent innovation to publish all entries to the Caption Competition. Sifting out six amusing answers must sometimes be very tricky. But when will people realise that ending a caption with an ellipsis or an exclamation mark almost guarantees it won't be funny?
David, Bagshot, Surrey

In reply to Dan Wilkinson, Chesterfield, UK (Letters, Thursday). Not only did I start to count the minis (to see if there were 10) I also wondered how many other people were doing the same thing.
Janet, Winterbourne Stoke, Salisbury

I have to disagree with Dick Savage (Letters, Thursday) as I can think of occasions in which one could perfectly legitimately use "love" in the present continuous. To be fair, though, getting too caught up in that particular kind of conjugation could spoil the moment.
Adam, London, UK

Dick, languages are shaped by their speakers, and many of the rules set in stone at some arbitrary point by long-deceased grammarians are no longer relevant (ending a sentence with a preposition, anyone?). If a construction like 'I'm loving it' adds some new kind of meaning to our language then I can't see the problem. Given time it will probably end up in the grammar books itself.
Jack, Manchester

Dick Savage (Letters, Thursday) raises an interesting point regarding 'I'm loving...' - it isn't traditionally-accepted usage but the concept of correctness is more complex than he makes out. Use of the present continuous in this way is on the rise, and it's probably not going away. So while it might not be something you'd teach to people speaking English as language learners, that's not quite the same thing as it being wrong to say it.
Jeremy, Bloomsbury

Dick Savage - Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. I too loathe this ghastly phrase and every junk-munching moron who uses it. Probably the only one I hate more is 'I'm *so* loving...' - since when did it become 'cool' to sound like a vacuous LA airhead?? Grrrr.....
Sue, London

So Toby Stephens (Friday's Quote)thinks the world isn't ready for a ginger Bond? Didn't Roger Moore have hair that colour? Or at least his stunt "double" did in the car chase through Paris in "A View to a Kill."
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Does anyone else read the letters and try to second-guess what stories the links are to? I'm getting pretty good at it!!
Lucy P, Ashford, Kent

In regards to the Sun's handling of the violence in a Chinese restaurant, they should have gone for "A case of won-ton destruction".
The Bob, Glasgow

Discarded once again. Here goes with another attempt at glory. Now,....Oh blast! I've forgotten....
Dorian Williams, Salerno, Italy

Caption Competition

14:04 UK time, Friday, 22 May 2009



It's the Caption Competition.

The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. KieranOx:
Alton Towers refute "boring" criticism of latest roller-coaster.

5. ManxDave57:
The "pop up" indicators in the early models were not a great success.

4. sleepingal1979:

Jenny found level 8 of the new 3D Frogger experience particularly difficult

3. SeanieSmith:

The original British Leyland sat nav had a few teething problems.

2. Kyuzosan:
Sir Peter explained that the duck transporters were necessary for conveying the ducks between his constituency and his London apartment in the manner to which they had become accustomed.

1. garethb378:
The latest efforts to cure Jeremy Clarkson's insomnia were thus far proving ineffective...

Paper Monitor

12:18 UK time, Friday, 22 May 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Oh, things are horrible at the moment.

The Daily Mail carries a picture of the Queen with a barely perceptible frown and the headline: "One's MPs are corrupt, one's Parliament crumbling, one's garden is being invaded by the BNP and one's economy slides ever-nearer to bankruptcy. No wonder one is... NOT AMUSED".

It's really hard to think what could cheer you up. But what's this? A picture of a cloud in the shape of the United Kingdom. O frabjous day. The Sun has it too, with a slightly suspicious-sounding quote from the girl who took it. "When I got the picture I was on cloud nine."

Sometimes in the cloistered world of journalism, it's difficult to find the right tone for a news story. The Sun has one such quandary. It tells a tale on page 21 of two Chinese gangs who fought a bloody battle in a restaurant. They inflicted "terrible injuries" on each other. Serious? Funny? The Sun chooses the headline "I COULD MURDER A CHINESE".

After several months away from newspapers since being given his marching orders by the Daily Telegraph, Craig Brown is back in business.

The Daily Mail trumpets the satirist's arrival at the top of page two.

And last of all, the award for tortuous pun headline of the day goes to the Daily Star's "GURK, GUEST & STAY" about the Gurkha immigration story. Ouch.

Weekly Bonus Question

11:25 UK time, Friday, 22 May 2009


Welcome to the Weekly Bonus Question.

Each week the news quiz 7 days 7 questions will offer an answer. You are invited to suggest what the question might have been.

Suggestions should be sent using the COMMENTS link below. And since nobody likes a smart alec, kudos will be deducted for predictability in your suggestions.

This week's answer is GREY, KHAKI AND SEPIA. The real question will be added here on Friday afternoon.

UPDATE 1705 BST: The correct question is... In what shades did film director McG shoot his new movie Terminator Salvation?

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:27 UK time, Friday, 22 May 2009

See the Quote of the Day every morning on the Magazine index.

"They had enough problems with a blond James Bond - the idea of someone with
reddish hair getting the part would cause insurrection"
- Actor Toby Stephens on his chances of playing the famous martini drinker.

Daniel Craig's appointment gave us a blond Bond. And there's always been talk of a black Bond. But a ginger Bond? Perhaps not.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

18:30 UK time, Thursday, 21 May 2009

Re: This story. Did anyone google the lyrics? They look exactly like the Hank Snow song.
Mark Williams, Oxford
Monitor: Yup, MSNBC did

Dan in Cambridge (Your Letters, Wednesday): please, please, please don't use "I'm loving". As an English teacher I spend a lot of time trying to convince my students that this expression (used, and made popular, by a certain well-known fast food chain!) is, grammatically, horribly wrong! "Love" should never be used in the present continuous tense.
Thank you.
End of rant.
Dick Savage, Plzen, Czech Republic

Oh Dear Lord! Imagine how much information the Government will be able to lose at one go!
Naomi P, Sunny Worthing, UK

Re this story, could a more fitting car be found to crash into a supermarket - a "Rolls" with a "Veg" numberplate!
Luke, Portsmouth

Within letters, your links are in a blue colour and the rest of text is in black. With my laptop monitor placed at certain angles, the blue and black look very similar and it often does not look like there is a link. Perhaps Monitor should consider using a different colour for a link or placing links in bold.

Gordon, Newcastle
Monitor: Perhaps... but no.

Re Wednesday's Web Monitor, I surely can't be the only person to remember that Dr Spock was an author of books on raising children, and that the Star Trek character was Mr Spock...
Dan, Manchester

Could you please state that Italian Job related captions are not allowed. I don't think I can take the endless line of unfunny "You're only supposed to..." captions I will be unable to resist sending in.
Michael, Rockville, MD, USA
Monitor would like to make clear that the views and opinions expressed in this letter are strictly those of the author, Michael Rockville, of MD, USA, and do not, in any way, represent the views of the Magazine Monitor itself .

Is it just me that saw the Caption Competition, and immediately started to count to see if there were 10 cars?
Dan Wilkinson, Chesterfield, UK

Web Monitor

15:35 UK time, Thursday, 21 May 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Yes folks, it's Thursday afternoon, a bank holiday weekend beckons and what's more the weather forecasters say things are looking good. So think of Web Monitor as a cherry on the cake. Once again old WM has been hoovering the web for the most thrilling bits. But hey, this needn't be a lonesome existence - share your best links with us by either sending us a comment via the box to the right of this page or recommending them to us on Delicious where we're called "bbcwebmonitor".

Michelle Obama• Now, where to start? How about Michelle Obama's reputation as a one-woman recession-buster? FLOTUS' penchant for preppy cardigans has been given as the reason for the shop which sells them, J Crew, bucking the retail downturn. But now Big Money blog says that maybe what the first lady wears doesn't matter so much after all. Big Money reports that J Crew's success may have more to do with its internet selling strategy, laying off staff and avoiding discounting its stock.

Scenic or Not is like the polite version of that old website (nee RateMyFace and AmIHotOrNot). On Hot or Not you vote on how good looking someone is on a scale of one to 10 and then you find out their average score. Scenic or not isn't so different although collagen pouts are replaced by rivers and willow trees. This is a mini site of - a website dedicated to increasing democracy, so Web Monitor got suspicious that it couldn't just be a game. This suspicion was confirmed by Tom Steinberg in the site's blog:

"This is another crowd-sourcing experiment to solve a specific problem - we need a scenicness map of the UK for a major upcoming mySociety project, and there ain't one to be had any other way, for love or money."

Alec Baldwin• The Huffington Post, or HuffPo to those in the know, seems to be the place to be if you're a celebrity with a cause. But actor Alec Baldwin goes there with his tail between his legs to apologise for a joke he made about getting a Filipina mail-order bride which kicked up a storm in the Philippines:

"The comments of some Philippine government official come as no surprise to me, either. Even the one by a former action film star-turned-Senator who beckoned me to come to the Philippines so he could "beat" me over my comment."

(Web Monitor notes the banner ad on the page: "Find Your Filipina Beauty Today!" Think we're joking? Have a look at the bottom of this entry.)

• Jeremy Kyle, the presenter of what the Sun calls the Broken Britain show, has written an autobiography with the obligatory sob stories and vices revelations (his being a gambling addiction). But Kyle reveals in the Sun the most unique route to becoming an addict to the turf:

"My dad was accountant and personal secretary to the Queen Mother for many years. We were often welcomed into the Members' Stand at some of the country's most prestigious race meetings... I kept going back and doing it again and again. It wasn't long before I got caught up in something that I thought was only providing positives in my life."

Theo Paphitis
Total Politics asked businessman and resident investor in Dragon's Den Theo Paphitis what he would do as prime minister. Paphitis explains what he would do in a hung parliament:

"I would say 'everybody stand up and everyone who doesn't want to govern sit down' and the ones who remain standing we choose from, irrespective of party."
He's slightly more realistic on what he would want to be remembered for as PM:
""He came and didn't screw us and then he buggered off."

• The Photoshop Disasters blog weren't impressed with the efforts of the Daily Mail to make Gordon Brown look old and dishevelled - putting extra grey in his hair in yesterday's edition. The blog suggests "when you want to make a point with image manipulation, it's probably a good idea to keep it subtle." Web Monitor would never stoop to such artificial techniques.


See... what did Web Monitor tell you?

Paper Monitor

11:18 UK time, Thursday, 21 May 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today we generously submit four gifts to readers, and as is the custom these days, they are all fully accounted for, registered and leaked to a respectable broadsheet newspaper.

1. An MP writes in the Daily Mail: "A second house? I had nine second houses, one of them a yacht moored off Macau, and all paid for by you - my grateful, if uninformed, people." No, it's not another head on the block at the Commons, it's the lecherous but fictional Conservative MP Alan B'Stard. After days of moral indignation, the paper changes tone momentarily to one of satire.

2. Turning to one of B'Stards Tory colleagues, Matthew Parris writing in the Times sums up the woes of Douglas Hogg, demoted in the wake of his extravagant expenses claim: "It was a word that did it: from 'moat' there is no coming back."

3. The same paper is less delicate in trying to impose a musical metaphor on the story about the first British astronaut to join the European Space Agency crew. His name, Major Tim Peake, is a gift for David Bowie fans. "Meet the real-life Major Tom", says the front page panel. "This is ground control to Major Tim, you've really made the grade..." says the headline inside. And, just in case you missed it, the editorial labours the Space Oddity theme even further. As well as the single vowel separating the two men, the real astronaut has, the paper says, a "more-than-passing resemblance to David Bowie on the front of the Major Tom album". And it's a name the 37 year old "will inevitably" be known as, says the paper. Yes, if the Times campaign - backed by stablemate the Sun - to re-christen him is successful, yes.

4. Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited new film Inglourious Basterds has been unveiled at Cannes, and for newspapers' film critics, it's the event of the festival, although one that leaves the Guardian as a lone voice of criticism.

"Everything is just so boring" - Guardian
"A return, at last, by Tarantino to his combustible and operatic best" - Times
"As with any Tarantino film it sounds completely bonkers. And it is. But it's also brilliant" - Sun
"Vintage Tarantino to be sure, but a little more action would have been glorious" - Mail
"His most entertaining and exhilarating effort since Pulp Fiction" - Independent

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:29 UK time, Thursday, 21 May 2009

"Get the Black and Decker" - Dr Rob Carson takes drastic action to treat a boy with a blood clot on the brain.

These are five words not often heard in the operating theatre and enough to terrify any patient. But Nicholas Rossi, 12 at the time, was losing consciousness after falling from his bike and the small city hospital in Victoria, Australia, had no neurological equipment. The household power drill found in the hospital maintenance room saved his life.

More details

Your Letters

16:16 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

In this story, we are told that Muslims are being told to boycott KFC for not offering genuinely Halal meat. Considering there was no Halal meat before - and thus, presumably, no Muslims ate there - what on earth difference is a boycott going to make to KFC?
Jane, Manchester, UK

What a disappointment this headline turned out to be.
Gem, Cheltenham, UK

I'm loving the Salt-N-Pepa headline. Tomorrow do we get headlines based on the repertoire of Kid 'n Play?
Dan, Cambridge

Rachel Weisz talks about what it was like playing someone from the 4th Century in Egypt. What? Anyone forgot to ask her that after The Mummy 2?
Nuno Aragao, Aveiro, Portugal

Could the PM treat "stone" for weights like it does miles and kilometres for distance, and put an equivalent in parentheses? I know that 1 stone = 14 pounds, but I imagine I'm not the only one on this side of the pond without a good sense of how much so many stones are. Do keep using them though - weights look so much better in stone, even better than in kilos.
Nadja, north of Boston, USA

Don't give up your day job.
Aaron, Reading, UK

Web Monitor

15:30 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor keeps up-to-date with what's happening on the internet and passes on who said what and where. Make sure you share your best links with us by either sending us a comment via the box to the right of this page or recommending them to us on Delicious where we're called "bbcwebmonitor".

vulcan salute• Photoshopped images of President Obama looking like Dr Spock in Star Trek have been clogging up the internet of late. Now Slate Magazine analyses both characters to find out if this comparison is merely cosmetic. It observes:

"Obama is often compared to Spock because he never gets too hot or too cool and speaks in the careful way of a logician. But the president and the fictional character seem to have the same kind of empathy, too."

Paper Monitor admitted to getting a bit over excited over Autotune the news, featured in yesterday's Web Monitor. PM was inspired to write a song all from this morning's headlines. This looked perfect for Rap Log. Mentioned on Web Monitor before, Rap Log is a commentary of politics and current affairs in the medium of rap and now they're asking the public to "bless the site" and "spit" about the day's affairs. Paper Monitor got shy at the prospect of performing so we're asking you to perform record and upload to Rap Log the Newpaper Monitor song and let us know when you're done.

Queen Rania of Jordan• Queen Rania of Jordan is already a dab hand at Facebook and uploading videos onto YouTube. She tells Techcrunch how she's getting along being the only known royal to Twitter:

I've only been tweeting for a week or so, but the Pope's visit got quite a large response. I noticed people were quite interested in this one: @QueenRania : Hoping he cn get both sides 2 recognize their common humanity, then we cn start building frm there."

• YouTube banned a video of a teenager having a baby in the school playground. Only it turns out that the shaky camera film is actually a viral made by Leicester NHS's teenage pregnancy team. Shocking, and back on YouTube for now.

Elton John• While promoting his Aids Foundation, Elton John has expressed surprise on CNN that he didn't get the disease:

"I'm a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I know that when I used to use and drink, that my mind situation was altered completely. Your caution goes out the window and you think, 'Oh, well, we'll gamble, we'll have...' and luckily, I was so lucky enough to not be HIV infected."

• Fifteen-to-one ex-presenter, William G Stewart seems to have a bit of money to spare - he told the Daily Politics he wouldn't mind paying for a licence fee even though he is exempt as he's over 75:

"Why should I, for example, just because I'm 75, not have to pay a licence fee? I could easily afford it, as could thousands of people over 75."

Paper Monitor

11:50 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sing it with me now... Inspired by Web Monitor's shout out to Autotune the News, with its groovy 'n' grinding songs crafted from rolling news coverage, one wonders if the same could be done by blending assorted newspaper headlines into verse.

[Sound of pages turning]

Paper Monitor has, belated, spotted this plan's very obvious flaw, namely that one's singing voice isn't up to much. So I'll hum it, you sing it.

First up, a couple of catchy little numbers drawn from the Daily Mirror. Away we go:
"I love my husband but I can't sit around crying
Katie speaks
Katie speaks
The end of the dream.
Take Katie back,
Mel of a date.

"Patched shoe!
Cement on suit!
Scuffed knuckles!
Dangerous work, this princing."

Yo yo yo, it's the Daily Star at the mike:
"Gone in 34 secs,
It's a bedtime Tory.
Don't take the Vicky,
Cole mate."

And finally, let's wind it down with the Daily Telegraph, with backing vocals by the Times:
For all the wrong reasons.
Flat makeover,
Then a shooting trip for friend.

"[And now, the end is near....]
He had to go.
We need someone
To turn this place upside down.
New order.
Glove story."

Thank you! You've been a great audience.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:16 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

For those led here by Wednesday's daily mini-question on the Magazine, here's Prince Charles putting his back into it.


But the Prince of Wales did not gain these scrapes on his fingers from lugging bricks on the eco-friendly construction project. The Daily Telegraph reports that these are in fact gardening injuries. 'Tis the season, after all.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:29 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

"Now I've got the taste for chocolate, biscuits and fizzy drinks" - Gym instructor who ditched exercise and healthy diet to understand his overweight clients better.

Former model Paul "PJ" James has gained eight stone since New Year's Eve, when he vowed to swap lean meat and leafy greens for pizza, curries and chocolate. Does he feel good on it? No. He hopes to regain his figure by Christmas.
More details (The Sun)

Web Monitor

15:50 UK time, Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor selflessly clicks through the web to find the most interesting bits on the internet to document it here. Make sure you share your best links with us by either sending us a comment via the box to the right of this page or recommending them to us on Delicious where we're called "bbcwebmonitor".

Busta RhymesBusta Rhymes insisted in Time magazine his new song Arab Money was not meant to cause offence:

"I was really trying to point out that Arabs have one of the richest cultures in the world, not just from a monetary standpoint but also a spiritual standpoint. In the United States and North America, we're not really identified with a particular faith. We don't really have a culture that anyone can identify with because America is a mixture taken from everyone else's [roots]. My thinking is that if we're going to take from a culture, let's take from a culture that has exemplified success for thousands of years."

• In the film Angels and Demons, part of the plot involves making a gram of anti-matter. Popular Mechanics interview Dr. Rolf Landua, a CERN scientist who worked closely with the director Ron Howard to find out how realistic this is:

"In the movie, we switch on the LHC [Large Hadron Collider] and it produces a gram of antimatter in a few minutes. ... it would take about a billion years to produce a gram. We can make about a billionth of a gram in a year."
Landua also added that he didn't use the Hadron Collider to make anti-matter. Dan Brown could have done with this useful rap on what the Hadron Collider does do.

Debbie Harry• In the LA Times, Debbie Harry is open about considering plastic surgery:

"I think I'm at the point where I can see the way things are heading as far as aging goes. I'm trying to figure it out just so that I'm happy. You need to be content with how you are and how you look. And a very good surgeon helps...I think I'm lucky in lots of ways. Some days I even like what I look like in the mirror!"

• Are your secret security questions too easily answered? You know the ones - your first school, the street where you were born, your pet's name. The Technology Review reports that research shows these questions are simple to work out and found a great example:

"Brian Green's experience with not-so-secret questions began when he logged on to his World of Warcraft account in March of this year and found all of his characters in their underwear. Someone had stolen the account and sold off all of his virtual equipment."

John Cusack • The actor John Cusack has blogged in the Huffington Post against President Obama's decision to withhold torture pictures:

"It seems most people are quite clear -- the law says if someone should be held underwater repeatedly on no sleep until he thinks he's drowning, or tortured in other ways, the people who ordered it or did it should be be arrested, charged, tried, and sent to jail. And even if, say, 40% of the country wants to advocate breaking the law -- they should still be resigned to see those who did it pay the price for it. How that is a left /right debate is beyond me. How that is even debatable is also beyond me."

• If life is a cabaret, then maybe the news should be an R'n'B Song. That's the thinking behind Michael Gregory's Autotune the News, whose third installment is now spreading around the blogosphere. Using tuning software, Gregory has autotuned US TV news about gay marriage, economic woes and now relations with Afghanistan to make catchy songs.

Your Letters

15:35 UK time, Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Paper Monitor is being a little harsh on Peter Andre - it's obvious that the rhyme is on the 'oo' sound not the 'er'. How about giving him some kudos for not being obvious? And shouldn't you men stick together at difficult times like these?
Kaylie, Runcorn, UK

"Boy aged 12 did not father baby". Neither did girl aged nine, grandfather aged 82, or giraffe age six. Is that news too?
James, London, UK

Did anyone else feel duped by the story stating that a skydiver survived a 6000ft fall without a parachute? What was that large parachute shaped object strapped to his back then?
MCK, Stevenage

I have four speakers going spare in my loft if the House of Commons is interested.
Steph Yates, Reading, England

Although incorrectly using football pitches as a unit of length (shouldn't they be reserved for area), this article impressively uses aircraft carriers as a unit of weight, as well as the more traditional unit of height; Nelson's Column.
Colin, West Lothian, UK

David, Monday's Letters, it's 42. Next question?
Clare, Turnford, Herts

Paper Monitor

12:17 UK time, Tuesday, 19 May 2009


A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Bullfighting is not a British sport. Except, of course, in the House of Commons, where MPs are baying for the blood of a gored Speaker.

First came the picadors. Meant simply to wound and anger the bull, rather than fatally injure it, their jabs were couched in the niceties of parliamentary language of order papers and substantive motions.

Next the banderilleros waved their flags, before making way for the matador. But there was more than one.

For Daily Mail sketch writer Quentin Letts, it was the doughty Sir Patrick Cormack.

Jowls a-quiver, red tie neatly smoothed, he "holed the Speaker below the trouser line with a deadly reference to Neville Chamberlain and the Norway debate. The House gasped."

But for the Independent's Simon Carr, it was David Davis who asked "the lethal question" about how a motion might be made substantive. "And the Speaker said: 'Let me ask the Clerk.' The House looked on, watching the tutorial taking place. There was quietness. Thirty seconds passed as the Clerk gave the Speaker a one-two-three on one of the most basic rules of procedure."


Others, meanwhile, see how much mileage can be had with the word "order", the best known of the Speaker's sayings.

"Snout of order, order" - Sun
"Disorder! Disorder" - Daily Express
"Out of Order! Order!" - Daily Mirror, and inside "Disorder! Disorder"
"Last orders" - Times headline
"Disorder! Disorder!" - sketch writer Ann Treneman's opening line
"Speaker kicked in the Gorbals!" - Financial Times... just joshing. It's the Daily Star.

Meanwhile, the Sun revisits its original exclusive about the baby-faced teen who, at 13, believed he was Britain's youngest dad. Turns out he isn't. "DAD'S NOT ALFIE" bellows one headline, after DNA tests on baby Maisie, now three months old. Did you all get that? "He's not the daddy" adds the Sun.

Three months ago the paper was all over this tale. But love's young dream is a delicate flower that can wilt when exposed to the harsh light of media attention. And like moths to a flame, first one lad, then another and another ran for the spotlight to claim possible fathership.

The paper's coverage recounts the whole unedifying spectacle. Alfie's baby joy. The ungallant comments from the other lads. Alfie standing by his girlfriend. And now the DNA results.

Its sister paper, the Times, relegates it to a news in brief, just above another nib on how youth chlamydia is on the rise.

And finally, the Sun returns to another wilted romance, that of Katie 'n' Peter. He wrote a song about their struggling marriage last November, and the paper reprints an extract of Call Me a Doctor:
"It hurts bad 'cos I was true to her
"I'm regretting having anything to do with her."

So heart sore that he cannot even come up with a word to rhyme with "her", perhaps Monitor readers can help using the COMMENTS button below.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:28 UK time, Tuesday, 19 May 2009

"There he was, bang, in my room. It was dead surreal" - Jobbing actor Steve Evets, who'd been kept in the dark about co-starring with THE Eric Cantona.

When cast as a struggling postie who calls on his Manchester United hero for help in love and life, Evets wasn't told the retired footballer would actually appear in the flesh. When filming began on Looking for Eric, director Ken Loach smuggled Cantona onto the set and hid him behind a curtain.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Web Monitor

16:01 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor is tirelessly clicking on every link and viral video all to sort the wheat (links below) from the chaff (cat videos). Make sure you share your best links with us by either sending us a comment via the box to the right of this page or recommending them to us on Delicious where we're called "bbcwebmonitor".

Eminem• Eminem is releasing his comeback album so Antony Bozza asked the rapper in the Observer where he's been for the last five years - it turns out he's been dealing with a drug problem and can't really remember the last four years:

"The problem was, as I'm going to be explaining over and over again for a while, is that I had a pretty bad drug problem. I was messing with Valium, Vicodin, Ambien and anything to [help me to] sleep. Basically I'd take Vicodin to get me through my day."

• Leslie H. Gelb has written a book about how to think about and use power in the 21st Century. Sadly for his wallet, it isn't a bestseller. Gelb thinks he has an insight into what makes a bestseller, which he lists in the Daily Beast. Essentially, he says, if you want to be famous, it's better to be wrong (of course he is not famous - that's because he's right) and lists authors of bestsellers that he thinks are wrong.

• The latest MPs expenses outcry on YouTube is a re-edit of the Make Poverty History advert, with MPs replacing celebrities, proclaiming 'Remember, a Member of Parliament escapes poverty with our help'. The makers assure us in their blog that the lack of Tory MPs is down to a lack of suitable images.

• Magicians Penn and Teller tell USA Today that their show is getting political. Their main campaign is against airport security which they highlight with a trick: Teller sneaks a metal pan which is on fire through a metal detector followed by a fire extinguisher. However, they don't want stricter controls:

"We're just against the idea of people allowing themselves to give up freedoms when confronted with fear... The point we're making is that if two goofball magicians can slip this stuff by with full lights shining on them and the full attention of the audience, then what could a really bad person do?"

• What has self-control got to do with marshmallows? Scientist Walter Mischel's research on self-restraint started with an eager interest with his children's friends' ability to avoid eating marshmallows, reports the New Yorker. It seemed the kids who could put off eating a marshmallow did better in exams. But Mischel argues it's not so much intelligence leading to the wisdom to exercise self-control as intelligence being at the mercy of self control: even the smartest kids still need to do their homework. This leaves only one question - are marshmallows really that irresistible?

• The New Scientist reports a revolutionary idea - asking directions when you're lost. Their video shows a robot in Munich can find its way around a city without using GPS or even a map. Instead, it just asks pedestrians to give it directions.

• The Economist shows that living with under $2 a day doesn't necessarily mean living hand-to-mouth. Instead, they report, a sophisticated array of savings and loans are used to equal out the bad from the good days. However, negative interest on savings are also the norm in some places.

Your Letters

15:29 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

The mystery is solved! "Reading the front page of Monday's Independent, Paper Monitor is left scratching his head." (Paper Monitor, Monday) Paper Monitor is a boy! Next task on the list - finding an answer to the meaning of life.
David Walter, Liverpool, UK

Overturned on a peel?
Candace, New Jersey, US

Darren (Letters, Friday) may be interested to know that surgeons in the UK are always styled "Mr" (or presumably, Mrs if they are female) and never "Dr". It's a historical thing that grew up because surgeons considered themselves gentlemen rather than tradesmen. So, yes, it is a class thing, but one with a lengthy pedigree.
Caroline Mersey, London, UK

I think the student in this article was more surprised by what it is like to work in a fish factory (yes you have to work 12-hour shifts, yes it smells of fish) than an Asian fish factory. She should come to Grimsby and check it out.
Rory, Grimsby

A "specialist tool designed to remove the screws" - that would be a screwdriver, then?
Rick P, Oxford, UK

With regard to the story that China's sex theme park is to be demolished before opening, is this a case of erectile disfunction or premature evacuation?
Simon Rooke, Nottingham UK

I read that Sir Victor Blank is to step down as chairman of Lloyds. What a pity! I've been using his cheques for years.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

On the same day that we discover that a political argument almost derailed Last of the Summer Wine before it had even begun, we find that 36 years later nothing has changed.
Richard Hall, Epsom, UK

Odeon is from the Greek for theatre. Methinks "Oscar Deutsch entertains our nation" (10 things, Friday) is a fib, or a "backronym" at best.
Richard, London, UK

Paper Monitor

13:31 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Reading the front page of Monday's Independent, Paper Monitor is left scratching his head.

The huge promotion bar across the top of the paper proclaims an "exclusive interview" in its Life section with artist Tracey Emin.

"'Some days I feel like no one loves me' - Tracey Emin opens her heart on life, money and art."

Er, that will be the same Tracey Emin who, until a couple of months ago, had a regular gig as a columnist in, wait for it, the Independent.

Paper Monitor must confess that it's taken its eye off the ball that is Emin's "My Life in a Column" column - the last recorded note of it being here.

In fact, the line about no one loving our Trace is heavily reminiscent of the sort of material that Emin used to write about in her column.

The interviewer acknowledges Emin's work for the paper, suggesting her current contributions are "more meditative than her early hedonistic tales". What could be more meditative that a conversation about "life, money and art"?

The Sun, like all the others, is still heavily occupied by the expenses saga - noting that "Parliament's reputation is at its lowest ebb since Cromwell's intervention in 1653."

To make the point, the Sun reprints the Cromwell's speech to Parliament in a sort of olde worlde serif font, and an etching from the time of angry men storming Parliament. The speech, we're told, is as relevant now as it was then. Paper Monitor senses when the Sun is calling for men in stovepipe hats, things really must be bad.

Monday's Quote of the Day

11:57 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

"It looks really nice. . . compared to most roofs" - Andy Murray on the new Wimbledon roof

Never one to present an over exultant face to the public, British tennis ace offered a characteristically languid assessment of the new retractable roof over Centre Court.
More details (the Times)

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