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Archives for April 18, 2010 - April 24, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

15:43 UK time, Friday, 23 April 2010

pint.226.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. In America, 30% of teenagers send more than 100 texts a day.
More details

2. Gaza has a surf club.
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3. Migalki is a type of siren which allows some Russian officials and business to bypass regulations so they can get through traffic jams.
More details

4.US President Barack Obama has played golf 32 times since taking office, beating George W Bush's record.
More details

5. Male long tailed slugs make "love darts" from calcium minerals and use them to inject hormones into females.
More details

6. Babies born in autumn or winter are more likely to develop a food allergy than those born in spring or summer.
More details

7. In the 13th Century, the Chinese used covered sewage tanks to generate power.
More details

8. Two-metre-long sea-scorpions used to roam the coast of North East Fife
More details

9.US President George Washington failed to return a library book. It's now racked up a $300,000 fine.

10. Children who address important issues with their fathers are less likely to smoke.

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Darren Leathley
for this week's picture of 10 milk bottles.

Your Letters

15:13 UK time, Friday, 23 April 2010

I do like this new mentioned unit of measurement.The true test of a unit is, of course, applying standard prefixes to see how it sounds. I make the national average salary just under 600 picoTescos.
ThomsonsPier, Reading, UK

In response to Lucy P (Thursday's Letters) the airlines could always try to get compensation from promiscuous Iranian women.
James, Keyworth, Notts

Re: the quiz of the week's news - although there are no anagrams of Nick Clegg there are plenty of anagrams of Nicholas Clegg. One example is "Each log clings".
Phil, Guisborough

Oh PM?, if only you'd thought of those of us who, having missed Thursday's posting, were unfortunate enough to read it at lunch on Friday. I've gone right off my leftovers.
Tamsin, Exeter

Say what you like about breast milk, but the packaging is a design classic.
Phil, Guisborough

"Mum of 30"? I immediately went to the article to get hints on finding time to home-bake cheesecake with that many rugrats around your feet. Hmm. Stop the ambiguity please, I wasted a mouse-click.
Kaylie, Runcorn, UK

It's a good thing that today's Quote of the Day comes with a full explanation - initially I assumed that Mr Cox was reacting badly to meeting his brother-in-law for the first time.
Edward Green, London, UK

Happy St. George's Day everyone!
Chris, London, UK

Paper Monitor

12:23 UK time, Friday, 23 April 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

How does a newspaper which has been accused breaking an industry covenant make amends?

In the case of the Independent, the answer seems to be to aim fire at its own, new, proprietor.

Newspaperland was humming yesterday with the news that the head of News International, James Murdoch, and Rebekah Brooks (nee Wade), ex-editor of the Sun, had stormed into the offices of the Independent.

The pair made a beeline for the office of editor-in-chief Simon Kelner and proceeded to berate him about the Indy's new advertising campaign.

At issue was the line "Murdoch won't decide this election. You will".

Turns out, there is an unwritten code in newspaper lore that proprietors refrain from attacking one another.

According to some reports, this point was relayed to Kelner in forceful and colourful language. (The Mirror has some fun with the episode under the headline "Murdoch's crazies lose the plot" in today's paper, recreating it in cartoon form... and Kelner may not be best pleased with its depiction of his waistline.)independent_lebedev_226.jpg

Kelner's response at the time was not recorded, but is it just a coincidence that on the promotional cover of Friday's Independent (accompanying free copies) the paper has turned its guns on itself?

"Lebedev won't decide this election," it says. "You will"

Paper Monitor's question is this - while the name Murdoch will certainly achieve a degree of brand recognition among the newspaper-reading public, does anyone really know who Alexander Lebedev - the new owner of the Independent - is?

Friday's Quote of The Day

09:54 UK time, Friday, 23 April 2010

"I looked in the rear view mirror and this huge baboon was sitting on the back seat next to my sister" - The British tourist on the unlikely criminal who entered his car.

We're always told to watch our valuables when we go on holiday - but for one British family it was a primate they were guarding themselves from. Brian Cox was on holiday in South Africa with his wife and his sister in South Africa when a baboon walked up to their car, opened the door and stole a handbag.
(More details - the Telegraph)

Your Letters

16:28 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010

Who do the airlines want compensation from? The person who built the world leaving fissures so volcanos could happen, or the person who decided to trigger the volcano? Oh wait, such people don't exist!
Lucy P, Ashford, Kent

"Although he is French, Mr N'Zogbia is eligible to represent England on the basis of residency and there have been calls for him to be selected by manager Fabio Capello.
The Driving Standards Agency would not comment." I don't imagine they would.
Michael, Edinburgh, UK

A sure-fire way to annoy any employee at the Lindsey Oil Refinery - cutting production from 200,000 million barrels a day by half a million? No wonder Total can't make money from the site if their maths is that bad!
Ross, Nancy, France

"Things are up in the air" - well they are NOW!
Greg, Dallas TX

I imagine there were a couple of things that made her an easy target.
Kat Gregg, Coventry

Re: Quote of the day. Mark Twain always did have a way with words!

Letters page getting shorter. Suspect MM has ADD.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Oscar TG (Wednesday's letters), seriously, you are not allowed to be that funny whilst I'm being sneaky and reading MM in work! Nearly got busted I laughed so loud!
Sarah-Michelle Saunders, Swansea, Wales

Paper Monitor

15:13 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Remember the ash cloud?

Paper Monitor is not being delusional - this time last week a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland drifted over British shores posing an apparent threat to aircraft.

Consequently, all flights into and out of Britain were banned for several days causing all manner of civic mayhem.

No seriously, it happened. If you don't believe it - and most of today's papers have tucked the story well inside - check out the front of the Daily Star, which has sailed home with stranded Brits aboard HMS Albion, and has exclusive pictures to prove it.

Unfortunately, the paper neglects to mention that its stock in aviation circles is somewhat lower than in equivalent maritime company. The paper was removed from the shelves of newsagents in several airports on Wednesday after it published a front page picture of a plane "flying into an ash cloud" with all engines on fire. In fact, the image was taken from a TV documentary reconstruction.

The Star's unbowed though, claiming to have rescued dozens of Brits stranded on the continent. And the British public are truly thankful, if the photos are anything to go by - though it has to be said, there is something slightly unedifying about a picture of three men grinning while each holds aloft up a copy of the paper... brandishing the front page headline "Jordan Baby's bruised face and body".

Not to be outdone, the Sun claims to have rescued 300 holidaymakers from Spain by chartering six buses in its Operation Sunkirk.

But its the exploits of Sun mum Abi Blake that really grabbed Paper Monitor's attention today. The mum of 30 appears in a Nigella-style pose, standing in her kitchen licking a drop of milk from her fingertip.

Why should Ms Blake's cooking habits be of interest to your average Sun reader?

"I used my breast milk for cooking"

That's why.

She tells the paper she has a range of recipes - from butterfly cup cakes to chocolate tart - that, er, depend on her own, unique input.

She has even foisted them on friends.

"The stay-at-home mum has held several dinner parties, often serving lasagne or pasta made using breast milk for the cream sauce. Her speciality is vanilla breast milk cheesecake."

Paper Monitor trusts its late publication today at least ensures you didn't end up reading this while tucking into your lunch of heated up macaroni cheese leftovers. You see, thoughtful to the last.

Caption Competition

12:34 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

This week it was models wearing creations by Mexican designer Alexia Ulibarri at the fashion show in Mexico City.

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. Raven
What hair shampoo do we use? - "Head and Soldered"

5.Rob Falconer
Unfortunately for the two models, there was a strike by the Hair Traffic Controllers

That photo has obviously been hairbrushed.

She's iceland i'm Italy and this is the ash cloud

Suddenly, the hairdresser's "2 for 1" deal didn't seem that much of a bargain!

1. laendler_leonard
Nick Clegg: "When I said that I wanted political parties to get their heads together to solve the problems in the country, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind..."

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:47 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010

"She was as healthy as iron, she had the appetite of a crocodile, the stomach of a cellar, & the digestion of a quartz-mill" - Mark Twain on his household nurse called "No 5"

To mark the 100th anniversary of the writer's death, an until-now unpublished document of his, A Family Sketch, has been released. While much of it is devoted to the death of Twain's daughter, at 24, it includes reflections on other parts of family life. In his description of No 5's voracious appetite, he says she ate everything in sight, and washed it down with "freshnets of coffee, tea, brandy, whiskey, turpentine, kerosene - anything that was liquid".
More details (the Guardian)

Your Letters

17:18 UK time, Wednesday, 21 April 2010

There are some stories that, when you hear about them, you just need to read.
LC, London

Clearly Paper Monitor has never heard of the Subway diet much touted in the chain's US TV commercials.
Michael, Edinburgh, UK

Monetisable?!? Is that having the ability to be painted in an Impressionist style?
HS, Cambridge

First of all Icelandic banks lose a load of money, then the country has a mysterious fire... looks like an insurance job to me.
Oscar TG, Newport, UK

Regarding the BBC headline "Shuttle Discovery lands on Earth". Where else could it have landed? Mars?
Colin Porter, Hawarden, Wales

Anyone else have a vision of blocking a river with cheap books and DVDs?
Jenna, Bath

Paper Monitor

11:54 UK time, Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The bakery chain Greggs has had a happy couple of years. It's been a darling of the business pages as the analysts noted how the recession drove people towards their pasties and cheap sandwiches.

But the way it appears in a Sun feature today is an excellent test of the maxim "all publicity is good publicity".

It's a double-page spread on the poignant story of a girl who was 33 stone at the age of 15, went down to 18 stone a year later, before ballooning back up to 29 stone by the age of 17.

"When I walk past Greggs bakery it's as if a siren is calling me in," says the unfortunate girl as she explains her weight gain.

She plaintively adds: "I try to be good and go to Subway instead of Greggs but it's so hard to resist."

It must be confessed that the information that Subway was some kind of health food outlet had so far escaped Paper Monitor's attention.

There's another dose of pathos in the Daily Mail in the form of the final part of the serialisation of Bel Mooney's book.

"When I stop to think that life is unfair because I can't have a baby while the unequal laws of gender mean that my first husband can go on having children with somebody else (he and his new wife now have two young daughters), I console myself with the ever-present reality of our little dog."

And there's plenty more where that came from.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

08:10 UK time, Wednesday, 21 April 2010

"I'm not big on knives so I got pretty teary when they brought the saws out" - Cherie Beekman, who called on firefighters after her finger became stuck in a bowling ball

When the youth worker led a group of children to a bowling alley in Manchester she didn't bank on the evening ending at a fire station after her right thumb became stuck in one of the bowling balls.
More details (Manchester Evening News)

Your Letters

16:09 UK time, Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Re every ash could has a silver lining, is this another?
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

You would think that the prospect of having to throw away all that food would lead to it being put on the local market at a cut price... but apparently throwing it away is the preferred option?
Jacobus, Maun, Botswana

So I figure it must be the most copy-pasted word this month, but d'you reckon the lingering problem of volcanic ash will make "Eyjafjallajoekull" the most copy-pasted word of the year? (Yes, I copy-pasted it just then...)
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Monitor: Actually Nadja, BBC style gurus have decreed "Eyjafjallajokull" to be the correct spelling, so you'll need to re-cut and re-paste.

Re "Could we live without flying?", what would happen to Leaving On A Jet Plane by John Denver? The rush to the airport like Ross did to see Rachel in Friends? Popular culture would just need dozens of footnotes to tell the future generation what's going on.
Samuel Draper, via BBC News Magazine on Facebook

Susan, you seem unnaturally aggrieved at the moment. I thought our southern ex-colonies were full of cheerful diggers calling each other "mate". Rest assured that we think of you warmly whenever Crocodile Dundee or Neighbours is on.
Yours etc. etc.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

I read Louis Theroux's article on medicating children and thought: my daughter is exhibiting signs of ODD, CD, SAD and GAD. OMG!
Margaret, Christchurch, NZ

Paper Monitor

10:55 UK time, Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Spring has arrived. Time to ditch the winter wardrobe and have a summer makeover?

That certainly seems to be the mantra over at the Independent which has unveiled its new look.

Loyal readers of the Indy, or indeed this column, may note that this isn't the first revamp the paper has undergone.

The latest follows the recent takeover of the paper by Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev for the credit crunch price of £1. Despite the new ownership the masthead of the new-look Indy has this strapline: "Free from party-political ties. Free from proprietorial influence".

Doesn't that just trip off the tongue...

The main feature of the relaunch/revamp/total body makeover is the new supplement, the Viewspaper.

"A daily magazine supplement which includes Britain's most wide-ranging opinion, award-winning commentary, more space for your letters, the finest writing on cultural matters, a daily essay and in-depth features on the environment, media, science, technology and history."

If the Viewspaper moniker sounds familiar it might be because it has been used by some media commentators as a less-than-flattering term to describe the Independent's previous habit of setting its own agenda with front pages which weren't always connected to the day's events.

Mindful perhaps of the trend these days for excluded groups to appropriate the insults bestowed upon them, Viewspaper is now very much part of the Indy's own lexicon.

But the Viewspaper does do what it says on the tin - it's full of comment and opinion pieces on a range of topics, though quite how "obituaries" fits into this categorisation is a bit of a mystery.

Flicking through, and at first glance it doesn't look too different from its previous " Life" incarnation. Ah, but look - the typeface is different for starters. Newspaper layout geeks take note, the new fonts are Farnham and Clan. Paper Monitor detects a touch of the medieval in said lettering - it's a very calligraphic, fountain pen-esque - redolent of a hoarding outside a French bistro.

And to introduce us to this new look is a column by editor-in-chief (the Indy is currently [cough] between editors) Simon Kelner. Now Paper Monitor followers will know that when it comes to editors addressing their readers through the pages of their papers, Sarah Sands' missive on taking over the Sunday Telegraph - ""I want the Sunday Telegraph to be like your iPod" - is the standard by which all others must be judged.

We hope you like how the new Independent looks," writes editor-in-chief Simon Kelner, "but we would most like to be judged by the quality of our content".

Mr Kelner talks of a "the side of seriousness" that he wants the paper to project.

"These are serious times," he writes (are there ever frivolous times?), "we believe that what is most needed on the media landscape is a newspaper that is truly free of proprietorial influence and political affiliation (something no other paper can claim) to make sense of the world around us".

Yes, just in case you weren't sure - the paper tells us again that it is totally Independent (surely the name is a giveaway too).

"You may not always agree with what we say, but it is spoken from the heart, and from a standpoint that's untainted by commercial or political imperatives."

Ahhh, from the heart. PM loves a happy ending. The Indy has gone through a series of growing pains in recent years - is it finally happy with the way it looks?

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:53 UK time, Tuesday, 20 April 2010

"To think I am stuck with this Chinese accent is getting me down" - Sarah Colwill of Plymouth reacts to the loss of her West Country accent after a severe migraine.

Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is of great concern to its sufferers. There are only 20 diagnosed cases worldwide. Even her friends pick up the phone and think she must be a "hoax caller".
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

15:45 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

"British Airways seeks compensation for ash chaos". Last time I missed a connecting flight due to an unforeseen circumstance I was promptly reminded that no compensation could be given. I sincerely hope that BA are refunding passengers if they are expecting to claim losses back from the government!
Dan, Derby

At least this story shows there is a positive side to the volcanic ash lock-down.
Martin, High Wycombe, UK

Re: Could we switch to gas made from human waste? Oh, that's just taking the... actually, I'll leave it there.
Pete Hazell@BBC News Magazine

So The One Show is going to be presented by Chris Evans, Chris Hollins and Chris(tine) Bleakley. No wonder "Adrian" Chiles felt left out.
Noel, Norfolk

Hello! Hello! Oh, you *are* still there. Good. I got worried we'd ceased to exist, you see. I could not find the name of Australia's governor general in any of the lists of those failing to attend the Polish president's funeral because of the ash cloud, but obviously it's just Australia being invisible again. (Quentin Bryce is stuck in Dubai if any of you are interested). No? Hmm. Thought not.
Susan.Thomas, Brisbane, Australia

Re: 10 Things. After reading point 1, next time I have a cold and have to blow my nose the automatic urge reaction of looking at the contents has been permanantly cured!
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

Anyone else feel irrationally irritated that one of the gulls in the 10 Things picture was *facing the wrong way*?
Susan.Thomas, Brisbane, Australia

Paper Monitor

12:33 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

They're British, they're stranded because they can't fly home, the government says it's going to get them back and use the Royal Navy to do it - cue the dramatic seafaring headlines, puns and hyperbole.

The Sun goes with "Spanish Airmada". See what it's done? No surprise there really.

The Daily Mail also talks of a Navy armada ready to pick up thousands of stranded Britons in a rerun of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation, adding that France scuppered a DIY rescue mission at the weekend. No surprise there either. The Mail is not the type of paper to miss a chance to reference "one of the greatest moments in British history", as well as having a dig at the French.

Probably the most surprising is the Independent , with the front-page headline: "Mandelson's Dunkirk". Firstly, by focusing on the rescue it is singing from the same hymn sheet as the other papers - not something you can always say about the Indie. Secondly, its article is full of emotive war-time/military references and language. It talks about "the repatriation" of stranded tourists, civilian vessels being "commandeered" by the Navy to help out and says the rescue plan has "shades of the evacuation of the British Army from the Belgian Channel port of Dunkirk in May 1940".

Erm, that will be very faint shades then. If we're honest here the fact these British holidaymakers are stranded is just about where the similarities with Dunkirk start and finish. It seems all this volcanic ash is going to the head of some papers. Let's hope it clears soon, for everyone's sake.

Monday's Quote of the Day

10:58 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

"None of those three would ever have got to a Fifteen to One play-off" - William G Stewart on the similarity of the prime-ministerial debate line-up to one of his finals.

On Saturday, the sub editor-frightening Giles Coren, compared Messrs Clegg, Cameron and Brown's appearance in the big debate into one of Fifteen to One's three-person finals. But the now-defunct quiz's overlord, Mr G Stewart, is having none of it.
More details (the Times)

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