BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for May 31, 2009 - June 6, 2009

Your Letters

16:02 UK time, Friday, 5 June 2009

I saw a poster yesterday saying "Vote for change". Why? Have the MPs claimed all the banknotes?
Ed, Clacton, UK

All-noun headline candidate query?
Dave Slater, Kilmarnock, Scotland

Have gratuitous photos of David Tennant become the new gratuitous photos of David Brent? I've noticed recent examples here and here. Not that I'm complaining, mind you...
JJ, Oxford

"At the end of the matter what...when it comes down to it." I think Yasmina's words say it all about The Apprentice, really. 110%.
Aaron, Reading, UK

If Sir Alan becomes Lord Sugar, then how will future contestants have to address him?
Jim, Coventry

Can any Monitorites explain to me how voicing Kung Fu Panda makes one the most powerful celebrity? I'm befuddled.
Nadja, north of Boston, USA

Re Basil Long (Thursday letters), but I'm afraid I'm going to have to pick you up on a point. They did ask Mr Armstrong, and he said he thought he had said "for a man". Can't fault the man for making the error... he was having quite a busy day.
Kevin Langley, Derby

10 things we didn't know this time last week

15:19 UK time, Friday, 5 June 2009

shells_226.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Armstrong DID fluff his lines.
More details

2. The Apprentice losers' café featured in Z-Cars.
More details

3. One in three organ transplant patients believe they have taken on some aspects of the donor's personality.
More details

4. Some apes make noises similar to human laughter when being tickled.
More details

5. Australia is not in recession.
More details

6. In the 1970 US Census, the number of people who said they were aged over 100 was about 22 times the true number.
More details

7. Gay couples in the animal kingdom can rear young.
More details

8. You can see penguins droppings from space.
More details

9. David Attenborough's first pet was a salamander.
More details (the Sun)

10. Urban great tits sing louder than their country cousins.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Anita Bekker for this picture of 10 shells on the seashore.

Caption competition

13:10 UK time, Friday, 5 June 2009


Winning entries in the caption competition.


This week, it was a new opera called Flatpack, which was being staged at IKEA in Wembley, north London, and reflects on furniture, domesticity and the challenges of modern life.

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. ValerieGanne
What was to have been a respectful tribute to America's President Eisenhower was marred by a spelling error

5. nick_fowler
The Magimix Flute

4. presto_west_end
IKEA's new range: Ulrika-ka-kabinets

3. Vicky S
Unusually, the entire opera is written in the little used key of Allen.

2. nhinton1
MFI administrators limber up before the audit commences.

1. MightyGiddyUpGal
The Stepfjord Wives

Paper Monitor

10:35 UK time, Friday, 5 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"Too much girlfriend chatting on phone last night - and BGT - and missed out on tweeting."

The papers have a lot of fun with Sarah Brown's Twitter feed.

Britain's Got Talent, gardening, baking cakes and cookies are subjects that portray a life in a parallel universe from her husband's in the last week.

But the Times reveals that Mrs Brown does tweet on weightier matters too. She also exchanges tweets with the likes of Kevin Spacey and Eddie Izzard about Aung San Suu Kyi, the imprisoned Burmese politician.

Paper Monitor has noted the Daily Mail's love of quirky animal stories before, here and here for example.

And there's another corker today. As ever, the beauty is in the pictures, which the Mail gives ample space to on the prime real estate of page three.

A leopard has found a rat eating one of the chunks of meat tossed to her for dinner in her enclosure in Hertfordshire. It gives it a sniff but the rat courageously carries on eating...

At a time of political upheaval and talk of Westminster back-stabbings, rats can get a bad name, but here's evidence to the contrary.

Lots of great D-Day anniversary coverage, but one interview caught (and moistened) Paper Monitor's eye.

Ken Scott, 93, has returned to Gold Beach for the first time since landing there in a recovery truck amid German artillery fire 65 years ago.

Surveying an empty, tranquil beach under clear blue skies, he tells the Daily Telegraph: "The sea's not pink today... no bodies being washed up."

When asked what those moments were like, he says: "Go to a cemetery and look at every cross and think of each one as a son or a husband or a father of children and count them, and then you might know a little."

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:52 UK time, Friday, 5 June 2009

"I daresay my mind would wander over a range of animals remarkable for the extravagance of their reproductive techniques" - Sir David Attenborough, when asked which animal he would like to be if he returned to Earth

This fantasy reincarnation was reserved only when in "racy" company, said the distinguished wildlife broadcaster. But in more sober company, he would go for a sloth, which hangs upside-down all day.

More details (Daily Telegraph)

Weekly Bonus Question

09:28 UK time, Friday, 5 June 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.


UPDATE 1620 BST: The correct question is... What did Bill Turner's wife, Tracy, do when he took his zebra for a drink?

Web Monitor

16:40 UK time, Thursday, 4 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Welcome to Web Monitor, a regular digest of the latest interesting stuff (excuse the techno speak) on the net. Web Monitor jumps from tab to worn-down tab as it clicks its way through the internet to glean the most interesting bits (more techno garb) and posts them here. Make sure you pass on your favourite bits of the web by commenting on the box to the right of this.

Bob Geldof
• Before confessional celebrity biographies became the phenomenon du jour (or d'hier) Bob Geldof was one of the first celebs to tell his story in a warts and all fashion. Now Geldof is back, in the Daily Mail , saying that after being a helper for the homeless in his teens, he himself became homeless:

"At one point, I was living on the streets of London. It didn't bother me because I was young and I could get a sleeping bag and a sponge mattress in the crypt at High Holborn, or I slept at Gatwick Airport for a while. But all the time, I was alert and watching people."

• Web Monitor is following Matt Seitz from The L Magazine. He is following the history of film through the "following" shot. The following shot follows the main character through a scene. Seitz says the shot has increased in popularity in the last few years thanks to the fly-on-the-wall documentary style. Are you following?

• A tale of too many cooks spoiling the broth is brewing at American Airlines. Website designer Dustin Curtis was appalled at his experience booking a flight on the airline's website so wrote the most elaborate complaint letter. On his blog, he mocked up a redesign of the company's website and asked them what they thought. Here's the cooks bit - he did get a reply from a designer who agreed with him but said he couldn't do anything about it as unlike Curtis sitting on his own working out the design, there are hundreds involved in that website so any slight change takes a long time to go through. In the meantime the broth is spoiled.

• In the New York Times Blog, cartoonist Tim Kreider sings the praises of the euphoria of survival. He survived being stabbed in the throat 14 years ago and now lives his bonus life - where he brews dandelion wine, listens to old pop songs and laughs raucously. He says the catch is that to get the full effect you have to be genuinely uncertain that you're going to survive and the best approximation would be to hire an incompetent hit man to assassinate you.

Mark Warschauer from One Laptop Per Child News does some myth busting on what a difference a laptop will make to a child. He looks to the "Sesame Street effect" to warn against the idea that if each child had a laptop it would stop under-development. Sesame Street was started to provide quality educational programming for children who otherwise wouldn't have access to it. However, it was the rich who benefited as their parents watched and discussed the programme with them.

Auto-tune the news is already an old favourite of Web Monitor and its big sibling Paper Monitor. But the software that makes the news into musicals, of course came from the music industry and was used to correct the pitch of singers who, well, couldn't sing. Tony Sclafani from MSNBC News in the US argues auto-tune is now ruining music as the old country singers who would knock off an album in a week have made way for model-like singers who have complicated dance moves to contend with. Although not so complicated when you have a look at this.

Dear friends

16:25 UK time, Thursday, 4 June 2009

Dear friends

Public service announcement follows.

It's now easy to follow the Magazine elsewhere.

bbcmag_facebook_66.gifTo follow us on Facebook, click here (and then click on the words "Become a fan").

bbcmag_twitter_66.gifTo follow us on Twitter, click here (and then click on the word "Follow").

But please don't have nightmares.

Your Letters

16:03 UK time, Thursday, 4 June 2009

At this greasy spoon, anything isn't as limitless as elsewehere. "They argue about anything," Frank, 62, butts in. "Pick a subject - football, rugby..."
Jinja, Edinburgh

Jeremy Peat of the BBC Trust says that disclosing salaries at the BBC will "[drive] up the fees commanded by talent". Yes, but what about BBC presenters?
Mark, Reading, UK

"It's a kind of escape for us..." Cue groans.
Lee, Birmingham

"Wolfram Alpha, a computation knowledge engine named after its creator, Cuil, from the Gaelic for knowledge, and hazel (that's a lowercase "h")...". Anyone have any idea what on Earth this is trying to say?
Aaron, Reading, UK

Rather than conducting all this various detailed analysis would it not just be easier to ask Neil Armstrong what he said?
B Long, Nottingham

To answer my namesake's (letter), on Wednesday, Britain (or more accurately Great Britain) is the island that comprises mainland England, Wales and Scotland and, as such, the Orkneys, Shetlands etc are not part of "Great Britain". Therefore the most northernly point of "Great Britain" is Dunnet Head. The Islands to the North will be the most northernly point of the UK. Pedantry? Sure but that is what "The Mag", as I like to call it, is all about.
Simon, Colchester, UK

Oh, Alex K (Wednesday's letters). Nobody likes a smartypants ! I've just done the maths test, and was quite chuffed to get 3 out of 7 without using a pencil or a cup of coffee.
Graham, Purmerend, Netherlands

Paper Monitor

13:09 UK time, Thursday, 4 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It had to come to an end at some point.

After 27 days of continuous headlines, the Daily Telegraph does not have an expenses story as its front page lead, instead focusing on other political events.

Allowance-junkies will be going cold turkey, but they can ease their withdrawal symptoms with a fix of classic Julie Burchill.

Writing in the Sun, the ever-provocative Burchill launches a tub-thumping defence of reality television, on the eve of the 10th series of Big Brother.

"BB-haters hate the young. They hate the working class. They hate gays and trannies. They hate people who have sex more than once a fortnight."

Say it how you see it, Julie. Don't hold back.

"It's a game show, you lemon-sucking, seat-sniffing nag-bags - get a life!"

Sir Michael Parkinson gets a particular Burch-bashing, for comments he made about Jade Goody, although if Paper Monitor was to repeat Burchill's description of the broadcaster, it would probably risk a lawyer's writ quicker than you can say PM P45.

What we can repeat, however, is her acute observation that if entertainers like Susan Boyle were prevented from performing due to a perceived mental instability, then the world might have been denied the likes of Judy Garland, Jim Morrison and Marilyn Monroe.

And to end on a lighter note, sit back and enjoy/endure the creativity of the sub-editors at the Daily Mirror, so often overshadowed by their red-top rival:

"PEBBLES DASH" (Susan Boyle's cat joins her at the Priory)
"BIG BAD BROTHER" (cruellest show ever)
"CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THREE KINDS" (three sightings of strange lights in sky)
"THE FINAL STRAWB" (pick-your-own strawberry farm to close over safety fears)
"MORE THAN A FILLING" (readers' own sandwich recipes assessed by Earl of Sandwich)

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:13 UK time, Thursday, 4 June 2009

obama_ap226.jpg"Goodness gracious. That's something there" - Barack Obama receives a gold chain and medallion from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

The ornate necklace looked like a gift more fitting for a rapper than a president, but Mr Obama expressed the appropriate measure of diplomacy. Just.

More details (Daily Telegraph)

Web Monitor

16:58 UK time, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Welcome to Web Monitor, a regular digest of the latest interesting stuff on the net. While you kick your feet up as the end of another working day approaches, Web Monitor has been selflessly clicking its way across the net to unearth the most interesting bits and tell you about them. Make sure you share your best links with us by sending us a comment via the box to the right of this page.

Marilyn Monroe • Life Magazine have published never-seen -before pictures of Marilyn Monroe at 24-years-old. The negatives for these photos were discovered recently when Life Magazine were converting their archive films onto digital. Photographer Ed Clark explained why they weren't originally published:

"She was unknown then, so I was able to spend a lot of time shooting her... We'd go out to Griffith Park and she'd read poetry. I sent several rolls to Life in New York, but they wired back, 'Who the hell is Marilyn Monroe?'"

• Web Monitor understands the importance of Google to play around on the internet. So, when elections, such as this Thursday's European elections come along, what comes up when you search for a party could sway the voter. In Martin Belam's Google-eye view of Thursday's European elections he analyses the differences between each party on Google. It's worrying for some parties, such as Libertas who aren't top of the list when searched for - pipped to the post by an adult literature shop. If Google isn't helping you decide who to vote for, two websites, Vote Match and EU Profiler have multiple choice questions to fill out and tell you whose policies your views fit

• The director of the civil liberties group Manifesto Club Josie Appleton argues in Reason Magazine that Great British Pub is at risk, not just from demolition but from over-regulation. Licensing is needed for all sorts of activities - from a sporting license to play dominoes and another one to watch the game. Apleton argues the regulation of pubs has gone too far. She warns that this threat to the pub will be a threat to the civilising influence of pubs on young drinkers.

• With a new Pixar film, Up, coming out in the US this weekend, Slate magazine looks at what a director of an animation actually does. After all, they don't have any actors to boss about. It turns out they have much more control over the minutiae and the end result is much more one vision from the director than a group.

• Charles Darwin described it as "the most peculiar and most human of all expressions". But now the New York Times reports on recent research which says blushing, instead of making you look like a guilty liar, can soften others' judgments of bad behaviour rather. The research suggests that if you spill coffee in someone's lap, the best thing you can do to be forgiven is blush.

• Now here's something Web Monitor can't wait to try - and fully intends to when it gets home to its webcam-enabled computer - a pop video that you can tilt and move as it plays. The mechanics sound a bit complicated but what you do is print off a special "tracker image" and hold it in front of your webcam while you are at Julian Perretta's website. The result - you, apparently, see a 3D video play in your hands. It looks like this:

Creative Review explains the finer details.

Your Letters

16:13 UK time, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

"Rumours are rife... but ministers deny the existence of any coherent plot." Ministers not having the plot - how true.
Dan, Cambridge

Would it be worth these guys tagging this one?
Stuart, Croydon

I am sure that the description of Dunnet Head as "Britain's most northerly point" will come as a surprise to many, not least Orcadians and Shetlanders. Did Norway reclaim them while no-one was looking?
Simon Varwell, Inverness

Re: Clive DuPort (Tuesday's letters). The phrase that always annoys me is "going forward" ... what was wrong with "in future"?
Kit the Ex-Pat, Montreal, Canada

Is anyone able to tell me what purpose is served by the bag of onions tied to the back of the Nereus submarine?
Owain Williams, Regensburg

7 out of 7 on the GCSE maths (with no calculator) AND the DMQ right, a great day.
Alex K, Bath

Paper Monitor

11:40 UK time, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Satirists and folk who like to poke fun at the media are on notice, according to Newsbiscuit - "Calling newspaper 'the Grauniad' not funny anymore".

What is funny, is the bloke who tweaked Gordon Brown's chin during a prime ministerial meet and greet (see Daily Mirror story, here), thereby bringing some levity to an otherwise heavy political news day.

Has the chin-tweaker in chief, Muhibuzzaman Reza, started a new trend? Paper Monitor keenly awaits a rash of articles in coming days in which hacks write about what happens when they try the greeting on their chums.

The Daily Mail, though, has got its teeth into a more pressing concern.

"Forget greedy MPs, the economy and Susan Boyle. The real crisis is we've fallen out of love with strawberries."

Indeed, strawberry sales are down 9%. The causes, according to the Mail, are manifold, and can almost universally be laid at the door of the by now familiar peril - modern life.

Polytunnels, smoothies and the credit crunch.

Eventually writer William Sitwell concedes there may be a more rational explanation to the fall in sales - last year's run of bad weather.

"No one, not even mad people, buys strawberries when it's raining. It would be like drinking port by the swimming pool."

Er, quite.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:30 UK time, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

We are hoping... many people will find an alternative simply by opening a window or taking a walk in the park - Glyn Jones, on the Birdsong radio station being bumped off air

The arrival of new digital radio station Amazing Radio has put some noses out of joint - namely fans of the Birdsong station that played a loop of, well, bird song. Glyn Jones, whose network hosts the station, has a suggestion.
More details (Media Guardian)

Your Letters

14:42 UK time, Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Never mind the wallaby being confused - since when was a marsupial a bird of prey?
Dan, Cambridge

This example of nominative determinism has made me hungry.
Phil, Guisborough

This awkward comment, "which can make the viewing experience less satisfactory", was in your article about BT throttling broadband speed. "The viewing experience"? How about just "viewing"?

Almost as bad as "at this present moment in time" instead of "now".

Clive DuPort

When I saw Brown bares all as Calendar Girl , I thought our PM (Prime Minister not Paper Monitor) might be moonlighting.
James, England

Can someone there please put me out of my misery? Is that Alfred Hitchcock under the bowler hat?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Sometimes the modern trend to use texttalk spellings creates amusing malapropisms. Take Shona Hughes, Lucozade's running brand manager for the Edinburgh Marathon. "Until this year, runners have used Lucozade pouches, but we have decided to faze them out for both functional and environmental reasons," quoth she.
OK until they ran out of drinks... anyone got a more specific term for this kind of double-kick?
Jel, Swansea

Web Monitor

14:11 UK time, Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Welcome to Web Monitor, a regular digest of the latest interesting stuff on the net.

Bjork• At a time when celebrities are falling over themselves to say they would run for election or at least condemn politicians and bankers, Bjork states very clearly in Interview Magazine that she wouldn't be interested in a life in politics:

"I'm not interested in politics. I lose interest the microsecond it ceases to be emotional, when something becomes a political movement. What I'm interested in is emotions."

• Catch-and-release fishing is on trial in Slate Magazine. Fisherman Michael Agger looks at the research to establish whether fish feel pain. The research has included attaching foil heaters and shooting bee venom into their lips. Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) want to rebrand fish as sea kittens, whilst Agger says he'll kill and eat the fish he catches in the future.

Liam GallagherLiam Gallagher tells the Manchester Evening News that he started a clothing range because he thinks people are looking too scruffy:

"These days, all the geezers in bands wanna look like women. Like, why's everyone in bands wearing braces? If you're gonna wear braces, try buying a pair of jeans that fit. The worst dressed band have got to be Coldplay. What are those uniforms about? My kids have got play outfits that are better than Coldplay's. I mean, if you're gonna win a Grammy Award, don't turn up looking like binmen! Disgraceful. Make a bit of effort, I say."

• Neil MacFarquhar, ex-Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times, attempts in Foreign Policy Review to set the record straight about the word fatwa. Equated by many in the West with a death sentence, he explains it actually means a legal opinion drawn from religious law. His favourite fatwa provision was a dial-a-sheikh service he listened to in Saudi Arabia. People would call religious scholar Sheikh Guindi to ask for fatwas on anything from what a woman's reward would be in heaven to why smoking hashish is forbidden.

Michael Moore• Flint in Michigan was the birthplace of both Michael Moore and General Motors, which filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday. Despite this link, Moore says in the Huffington Post that he is filled with joy at the collapse of the company:

"It is with sad irony that the company which invented 'planned obsolescence' - the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one - has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh, and that wouldn't start falling apart after two years."

Meanwhile, Matt Hardingree from car website Jalopnik picks out the 10 vehicle designs he thinks made GM bankrupt.

Oprah Winfrey• When Oprah Winfrey endorses a product on her show, sales rocket - unsurprising given her show is watched in the US by 40 million viewers a week. Newsweek asks if Winfrey is taking this responsibility seriously, and points towards endorsements it says are dubious. These included everything from an unchallenged link being made between autism and the MMR jab, and a hormone for youthfulness criticised by the medical establishment to supposed scientific backing for the self-help book The Secret, which teaches that vibrations of the universe can attract good luck.

Paper Monitor

13:12 UK time, Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

With Susan Boyle in rehab, it's time for the ladies and gentlemen of the press to head for the great confession box that is newsprint and issue a mea culpa.

Allow the Times's Hugo Rifkind start things off:

"A few weeks ago, in Susan Boyle's home town... I was one of the many journalists who came clod-hopping down her quiet wee street to make her life a misery."

Over to Nicci Gerrard in the Daily Telegraph:

"Who feels ashamed?" asks Gerrard, who points the finger at a far bigger group of people than those who tramped to Blackburn, West Lothian, to thrust a reporter's notebook under La Boyle's nose.

"I watched Susan Boyle on YouTube and afterwards I dearly wished I hadn't - not just because of the sheer humiliating ugliness of a spectacle where celebrity judges patronised a dumpy, unmarried, middle-aged woman..." at which point Paper Monitor's attention was diverted from Gerrard's efforts at lateral reasoning to the sheer length of her sentence. Eighty - count 'em here - words in total.

It's almost as if she were auditioning for a Guardian intro. Meeow.

Sticking with the two Ts (Times and Telegraph), here's a separated at birth to mull with today's belated posting: Jane Fonda and Danny La Rue

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:37 UK time, Tuesday, 2 June 2009

"I know it's tough out there and the economy is in meltdown but I can assure everyone that I am not about to turn into Mr Whippy" - Sir Mick Jagger denies he is moving over into ice cream sales.

There've been reports that Sir Mick has offered £100,000 for a vintage ice cream van, but the Rolling Stone suggests he has no wider ambitions in the business.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

15:32 UK time, Monday, 1 June 2009

Re Monday's Quote of the Day: I think that's not as inappropriate as two restaurants I saw last week. There is a "Cafe Romeo" and a "Cafe Juliet" directly opposite each other in Ljubljana. At first I thought "ah, how romantic", until I remembered that the play ends with Romeo being poisoned.
Adam, London, UK

Should I be concerned that last time I checked I had this painting hanging on my lounge wall?
Aaron, Reading, UK

Re the missing Burberry belt, how about fashioning a new belt from Royal Mail elastic bands?
Katie, West Kensington

Referring to your wife as 'it' could be considered insulting, but wearing a Burberry raincoat, she probably deserves it.
Lee, Birmingham

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Mini-quiz now works with Chrome. Well done.
Mark Esdale, Bridge

What your readers have been describing (Friday letters) is the "Six degrees of Wikipedia" game - long known about by regular editors of Wikipedia. There's even a behind-the-scenes WP page about this game - it's part of what the encyclopedia's regulars refer to as the Wikipedia Department of Fun.
Dwayne Wilson, Hamilton, Bermuda

Web Monitor

15:13 UK time, Monday, 1 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

After the weekend where web success for Susan Boyle was followed by a TV defeat, web monitor looks at what else is being said and read on the web. Make sure you send your favourite links by commenting on the box to the right of this or recommending it to us on delicious where we're called "bbcwebmonitor".

Winona Ryder• All the little kids who didn't get through Britain's Got Talent this weekend can stop crying onscreen and console themselves that being a child star doesn't mean you won't get bullied. Well that's what Winona Ryder tells Elle magazine:

"I had really short hair, and the third day of seventh grade, these kids basically jumped me in the hall because they thought I was a gay boy, and they roughed me up... I think when that happened, I kind of went into a movie in my head because I couldn't deal with what was happening... I was in the number-one movie in the country and I was still being bullied in school."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that the digital divide hasn't happened as predicted. It tracks down homeless people who don't have a street address but do have email addresses, Facebook accounts and even update their Twitter accounts. Homeless shelters have also reported a growth in homeless people with laptops. Among other factors, the WSJ notes the economic downturn as a cause for putting computer-savvy people onto the streets.

Che Guevara• As if there needs to be further confirmation that Che Guevara's image has been planted on the globe's collective sub-conscious, this website chespotting tracks the most interesting places the iconic face turns up. The site spots Che everywhere from on a shoe in Florida to a wall mural in South Africa.

• One character who has sailed through the current recession is Sponge Bob Square Pants. Atlantic Magazine looks at why the children's character has fought through the competitive children's toy market to reach his tenth birthday. One brand consultant, Greg Rowland, explains his success is down to having something Jesus like about him.

Barack Obama• The sheer amount of comics Barack Obama stars in, as outlined by comics alliance, is surprising. From Barack the Barbarian to Barack as Spiderman, it all started with a public endorsement of Obama as president by the green comic character Dragonman. The author of Obama The Graphic Novel, Kyle Baker, explained why he makes such a good character for comics:

"This crazy guy saw no good reason to believe his past was anything but past. I realize now that if a guy like him could make it through Harvard and become president, I can attain any goal I focus on with faith."

• In a similar vein to Donald Rumsfeld's "There are known unknowns" speech in 2002, former CIA officer Robert Baer outlines in Time magazine what the US intelligence doesn't know about North Korea. Almost everything is unknown from their military to their nuclear capabilities. He suggests the only way forward is the threat of economic embargoes.

Paper Monitor

11:33 UK time, Monday, 1 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It was a scorcher of a weekend, so let's kick off the week by logging the latest entry in Brighton Beach Mammoirs. Step forward Metro with a "Tan-tastic" sunbather bursting out of her red bikini on the East Sussex beach yesterday.

Paper Monitor was intrigued to hear that the Daily Mail has struck a deal with Hello! magazine in a bid to out-celeb both publications' close rivals - the Daily Express and OK! respectively.

But did someone forget to tell the PR people at Hello!? (How's that for an unintentional interrobang?) How else to explain the Daily Mirror's promotion of this week's Hello! covershot of Charlotte Church and Gavin Henson?

Back at the Mail, the paper seems to have pulled off the rare achievement of actually losing its temper in print?

Witness this set-up for an article on the travelling community:

"It's a bank holiday ritual - travellers swooping to build illegal camps while councils are shut. So when officials get back to work, do they lift a finger to help decent families whose lives have been ruined? What do you think..."

Whoa there!

Final stop today is a delicious piece of Daily Telegraph-ness - a page wide headline on its fashion advice column (unfortunately not replicated online): "My wife has lost the belt to her Burberry raincoat. Can you help me replace it?"

Any suggestions? Use the form on the right.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:23 UK time, Monday, 1 June 2009

"I think Shakespeare would be proud of what were are trying to do here because in a lot of his plays there's sexual content" - Stratford-upon-Avon sex shop owner rejects allegations of lowering the tone.

Some people in the Bard's town are not happy about a new and bawdy addition, Romeo and Juliet's Adult Boutique. You might think that naming a sex shop after a 13-year-old could cause a few eyebrows to raise, but it's all in the best possible taste, the owner says.
More details

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