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Archives for August 8, 2010 - August 14, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

17:07 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010

pod.300.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Pea plants can grow inside a human lung.
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2. In Switzerland you can be fined $1m for speeding.
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3. Seaside towns and the Isle of Man used to have postcard censorship committees.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

4. The penguin on Penguin books was named Frostie after one of the editors at the publishing house.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

5. Nationwide supermarket bans exist.
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6. Naturalist Charles Darwin left the Victorian equivalent of about £13m today, and Charles Dickens £7m when they died.
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7. Fishermen in Britain have a one in 20 chance of being killed on the job during the course of their working lives.
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8. The Qwerty keyboard layout isn't random - it's to keep commonly used letters apart.
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9. Some hardened sauna users can stand temperatures of up to 160C.
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10. Honeybees are cleverer at certain times of the day.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Vic Barton-Walderstadt for this week's picture of 10 seed pods.

Your Letters

15:58 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010

Re Swede faces world-record $1m speeding penalty. That's a turnip for the books? Please let me know how many squillion other people wrote in with the same comment.
Diane, Sutton

Re Swede faces world-record $1m speeding penalty. I didn't know vegetables were that fast.
Ralph Allison, Chatham, Kent

Thank God you told us this was a "computer illustration". I for one was concerned they'd actually found something before I read that...(!)
Barry, Melbourne, Australia

"Marx is on the right" - now there's something you don't read very often.
James, Stockport

Just as the acronym for the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons never fails to raise a smile, nor does the onomatopoeic and percussive acronym for the British Association of Anger Management.
M Kelly, Stockport

Alan (Thursday letters), I think you might find quite a lot of people questioning your assertion that computers were developed in Japan. Ever heard of Colossus, Ferranti, English electric, ICL, IBM .......
Paul, Ipswich

Re Alan's reasoning for numbers on a calculator (Thursday letters), I'm afraid mass pedantry has just built up in me. Japanese is read with the characters, top to bottom, and lines read right to left (cf. English, left to right and top to bottom respectively). But numbers used day to day in Japan are Arabic and even then Japanese numbers are not read right-to-left. Otherwise calculators would read 987 - 654 - 321 - 0! I'll get my 67 79 65 84.
Lester, London, UK

All this talk of calculators gives fond childhood memories of 5318008 and suchlike.
Gareth, Wellington, NZ

Janice (Thursday letters), Paper Monitor could just be a transvestite who lives with his mum...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Yes! 6/7 in the news quiz! That's my highest score ever and totally makes up for finding a maggot in my grapes this morning.
Kate, London

Caption Competition

13:15 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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


This week it was the start of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with a performer handing out fliers for their show on the Royal Mile.

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

6. SimonRooke
See mum! See dad! And you said a degree in Media Studies was a waste of time!

5. Clint75
Finally, a cone that has someone working nearby!

4. Raven
Becky's first zit of the year and it had to be when the Fringe was on.

3. Fi-Glos
"Drunk girl" - the summer photo shoot.

2. RoseSelavy
Only downside is that by the end of the day she had developed a hard shoulder.

1. Grazvalentine 
Busking with a vuvuzela hadn't been well received

Paper Monitor

11:51 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Daily Mail wasn't the only paper to do this story but, as we've noted before, it does quirky animal stories so well.

For those readers with RSI and for others resistant to clicking away from Paper Monitor, the paper has a huge photograph of a red squirrel in a Travolta-esque/Christmas office party pose.

And the headline? "SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER"

From beast mimicking man to red-top editor mimicking beast. When the tabs get their sharpened incisors into something, they don't let go.

The bone is England manager Fabio Capello, and today they enlist the help of everyone who has ever kicked a football to tell the Italian he should have picked up the phone to tell David Beckham he was no longer needed.

Even an astrophysicist has his say on the matter. Professor Brian Cox, formally of D:Ream, tells Sun readers that he met Becks backstage on the Jonathan Ross show and "Capello is a smaller man than I thought" if he decided to break the news to the media first.

Expect Capello's thoughts on the Large Hadron Collider tomorrow.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:36 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010

strong>"Dogs are far more dangerous" - Russell Burt, who's been banned from walking his owls by Plymouth City Council.

The 74 year old has seven owls who he likes to take out for walks in his home town of Plympton, Devon. But he has now been banned by the council for health and safety reasons. He says he is "upset and angry". The council says it is concerned about the birds and also the public. "There are safety issues for the public around a large, spooked bird of prey running amok on a highway," said a spokeswoman.

More details (The Express)

Your Letters

16:13 UK time, Thursday, 12 August 2010

I was impressed with myself when I managed to grow courgettes in my garden, but given this story it now seems too easy.
Phil, Guisborough

Interim spelling with interim paint? "A spokesperson said the paint was "interim paint" that is used before the final paint is applied."
Jenny T, NY Brit

Afternoon! Now, as I approach my fortieth birthday, I find that I am sounding more like my parents than ever but may I just say that while trolling through the "Have Your Say" comments on the proposal that music is becoming too sexualised, this seems to be little more than a forum for varied species to be vaunting their own musical tastes rather than actually commenting on the question. Shame on you! Did you not read your exam question properly, boys and girls? Apologies for rant and all that, old Monitor, love, but I do get a bit cross about this sort of thing!
E Q-P, Leeds

Wendy (Wednesday's letters) The telephone was invented and developed in an English-speaking country where we read from top to bottom, left to right. Calculators and computers were developed in Japan, where they read the other way round.
Alan, Salford, UK

Re: The one dollar coin and the non standard unit of measurement. As a scientist, people using unorthodox units of measurement make me mad. So, the distance to the ISS is roughly 350KM on average, and 1 Double Decker Bus is 4.4m Tall. So from earth to the ISS is about 79550 Double Decker Busses, and the height the coins would reach as mentioned in the story would then be 556,818 double Decker busses. As they say on the heart of gold, Normality restored! PS any idea what that would be in Nelsons Columns?
Chris, Ely Cambs

Adam (Wednesday's letters), it's: E, G sharp, B, F sharp, E, F sharp, E, F sharp, E, G sharp, F sharp, C sharp, E, C sharp, E, E, C sharp, F sharp, E, C sharp, C sharp, C sharp, C sharp, B , B. I wouldn't tell you any more, otherwise EMI might take it down.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

Like Wendy (Wednesday's letters), I too wondered why keyboard numbers and calculators have their numbers in the opposite order to telephone keypads. The reason is that the keypad of keyboards and calculators are different is that the first security keycodes had been invented before the touchtone telephone, and did not require the extra + - % / keys and so the touch tone adopted this 1 ,2 ,3 at the top rather than 1 ,2 ,3 at the bottom as it too only required 12 keys. Thank you Wikipedia.
DS, Croydon, England

"Most of us turn to our mum for support during hard times, we just don't do it walking down a beach in a skimpy bikini, long blonde hair blowing in the gentle breeze - mum included. For the rest of us, it usually involves sitting on a settee, red-eyed, with a box of tissues nearby to blow our runny nose." One tick in the 'PM is a girl' column; they are adding up y'know.
Janice, Faversham

Paper Monitor

11:28 UK time, Thursday, 12 August 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Ouch. No one likes to be told they're too old. Especially not on the front pages of the newspapers. But that's what David Beckham has woken up to this morning.

Asked if the former England captain would be part of his plans for the Euro 2012 qualifiers, England Manager Fabio Capello replied:

"I say thank you very much for helping me at the World Cup but he is probably a little too old"

You'd think Fabio would know by now to put a call in to the player in question before making annoucements about them on live television - especially when it's about Golden Balls. It would seem he doesn't and his comments dominate the front pages of the Sun and the Times.

It has not gone down well. The Times says his "judgement and management skills" are being called into question again. The Mirror calls Capello "bungling" and asks: "Did you not learn ANYTHING from that World Cup disaster?" If you thought the nation would forgive and forget Fabio, here's your answer.

Silly season alert. It's that time of year when real news is thin on the ground, so other news - if you can call it that - makes the papers. The results of two informative research studies - yes, that is a shovel load of sarcasm you detect - make the Sun today. To sum up, men watch a lot of football during their lifetime (1,100 days apparently) and women spend a month longer going to the loo over a lifetime than the male of the species. Well, who'd have thought it?

Just as surprising - Paper Monitor's eyebrows are raised again - are the pictures of Wag Abbey Clancy having a heart-to-heart with her mum, following allegations about her boyfriend, England and Spurs striker Peter Crouch.

Most of us turn to our mum for support during hard times, we just don't do it walking down a beach in a skimpy bikini, long blonde hair blowing in the gentle breeze - mum included.

For the rest of us, it usually involves sitting on a settee, red-eyed, with a box of tissues nearby to blow our runny nose.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:35 UK time, Thursday, 12 August 2010

"Did I lock the door?" - After 37 years and 295 episodes, the closing line in the final episode of Last of the Summer Wine.

The line is uttered by Peter Sallis, 89, who has played Norman Clegg in every series of the show. It refers to a long-running joke throughout the final episode. "The unmistakeable voice bade farewell with a quirky simplicity that brought this long journey full circle with a laugh," says author of a book about the show, Andrew Vine.

More details (The Mirror)

Your Letters

15:31 UK time, Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Ever since reading this story I've been thinking about that gauze mask and wondering why it doesn't stick to burned skin. I'd assumed til now that it had some kind of gel on it. Can someone who knows about these things enlighten me and explain how it works? Thanks.
Sue, London

The fact that "he produced an ergonomically designed keyboard which could have spelt the end of Qwerty" is not particularly remarkable. I mean, a Qwerty keyboard can definitely do that.
Martin Price, UK

Having just read this article about the QWERTY keyboard - can anyone tell me whay keyboard numbers and calculaters have their numbers opposite to telephones? How did that happen?
Wendy Boother, Ipswich

Errr, we don't ALL use QWERTY keyboards! The French keyboard is different, not QWERTY and I imagine there are others to cope with accents and letter frequency.
Carol, Bangalore, India

I knew that being an old fart completely out of touch with youth culture would come in handy some day. I am immune to Paper Monitor's latest attempt to plant an earworm, as I am not familiar with those lyrics and have no idea what the tune to them is.
Adam, London, UK

Paper Monitor reports the Daily Mirror today as saying that that Angels was sung at Robbie Williams' wedding, the only difference being that 'he sang it himself.' Or to put it another way: Angels, originally sung by Robbie Williams, was sung at Robbie Williams' wedding by, er, Robbie Williams.
John Whapshott, Westbury, Wiltshire

Cat (Tuesday's letters), how many double-decker buses is an International Space Station? It's troubling me and I need to know, please.
Julie, London

Paper Monitor

11:29 UK time, Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

All together now:

"And through it all she offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
whether I'm right or wrong..."

There's your earworm for the day.

No, no need to thank Paper Monitor - it's Mr Robbie Williams to whom you owe a debt of gratitude for bringing this delightful ditty to the attention of your humble columnist once again.

When the former Take That dancer wed actress Ayda Field in a secretive - read "sold to Hello!" - ceremony at the weekend, on the soundtrack was that traditional wedding favourite Angels.

Only difference was, he sang it himself, reports the Daily Mirror, flicking through its own copy of Hello! Bless.

No carping at the back - it's easy to criticise other people's weddings, and if your pets were well behaved enough to wear flower collars and walk down the aisle, well, no doubt you'd want to do the same.

Such a stunt is indeed a gift to the headline writers, with this in the Sun: "Robbie bridesmaids were pack of dogs... But bride looked so beautiful"

No mention of the nuptials in the Daily Express, but given the paper is stablemates with Hello!'s arch rival OK!, no surprise there.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:08 UK time, Wednesday, 11 August 2010

"He said he'd had a bad day" - A passenger on the flight where air steward Steven Slater quit his job by activating the emergency chute and hurling himself down it.

The 39-year-old American snapped after a row with a customer during landing at New York's JFK Airport. He announced he was quitting over the public address system, before escaping down the chute with his bags and a beer, going to his car and driving home. He was later arrested by police and charge with criminal mischief.

More details (The Guardian)

Your Letters

13:01 UK time, Tuesday, 10 August 2010

I never knew that there was such a thing as "criminal mischief" but given that there is, I'd have to agree that it's a pretty good description of what this guy did.
Adam, London, UK

"In stark contrast to the UK's long working hours, high taxes and increasing retirement age". Rubbish. Australians have longer working hours (unofficial overtime) than any other developed nation, much higher taxes than the UK (as we found out) and the retirement age is to be raised. This is just because no-one comes on working holiday visas to South Australia, much preferring Queensland (and who can blame them!) OK, just a tad biased, perhaps.
Susan Thomas, Brisbane, Australia

There is another factor keeping the dollar note in play - the American tradition of tipping absolutely everyone. On an evening out, you'd need a big clinking bag of dollar coins to replace the quiet, thin wad of dollar notes that come in so handy.
Edward Green, London, UK

Is this an average looking Jordanian public sector worker?
Frank Dumont, London

Oh how I wish there was sound.
Phil, Guisborough

I'm very disappointed to see that this article doesn't use the internationally recognised unit of measurement: the double-decker bus. Who in their right mind would want to visualise the International Space Station?
Cat, UK

Mark (Monday's letters) - are "paramedic wagons" something new that I've not experienced, or are they just regular old ambulances?
Dan, Cambridge

Paper Monitor

10:00 UK time, Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Diamonds, a supermodel, alleged gun-running and Nelson Mandela - Paper Monitor thought Naomi Campbell's reluctant day in court had already given the Charles Taylor war crimes trial everything.

But now we can factor in explosive testimony from Ms Campbell's "surrogate mother", a Facebook party, Mia Farrow and mild flirting.

It's exciting stuff, and the papers devote more attention than is customary to proceedings at The Hague.

The Daily Mail focuses on evidence from the model's former agent Carole White, which contradicted that of her erstwhile charge.

While Ms Campbell had insisted she had barely remembered Mr Taylor before receiving an unsolicited gift of diamonds, Ms White said the gems were promised to the star by him at a dinner hosted by Mandela, where the model and then-Liberian president were "mildly flirting".

But what really excites the paper is photos on Facebook of a "blood diamond night", attended by Ms White and colleagues as they watched Ms Campbell giving evidence. The photos, according to the Mail, showed partygoers in "high spirits".

The conflicting testimonies offer a dramatic twist in the trial of Mr Taylor, who denies the charges against him.

But it's glitter that naturally grabs the attention of the papers. And the claim by Mia Farrow - fondly remembered by Paper Monitor as Cecilia in The Purple Rose of Cairo - that Ms Campbell boasted of receiving a diamond over breakfast forms the basis of the Daily Telegraph lead.

Below, the Matt cartoon shows a suburban couple returning home to a note headed "Sorry". The husband reads it to his wife: "While we were out a brutal warlord tried to deliver some blood diamonds."

But that isn't Paper Monitor's favourite image of the day. That accolade goes to the Sun, which mocks up how lanky England striker Peter Crouch might look sleeping on the sofa following unconfirmed allegations that he cheated on his fiancee.

It shows a pair of feet forlornly poking over the arms of a too-short sofa. Is this a position to which Mr Crouch will have to get used? That depends on whether his fiancee, in common with other wronged Wags, calculates that diamonds really are a girl's best friend.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:16 UK time, Tuesday, 10 August 2010

"It's simply Ukip set to music" - Opera director Sir Jonathan Miller on the work of Gilbert and Sullivan.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Sir Jonathan described the duo's work as "boring, self-satisfied English drivel" in an interview for Sky Arts. As diarist Tim Walker notes, Sir Jonathan's remarks are incongruous given that his 1986 revival of the pair's opera The Mikado was hailed as a "classic".

More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

16:14 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

Oh, come on! This isn't nominative determinism! Someone is making this up ...
Dr Reece Walker, London

I'm devastated. Moomins are apparently fictional. All these years I thought I'd been watching a documentary.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

Re 10 things, point 3: Am I missing something or who would want a tanned backside? It sounds a bit sado-machoistic or else I led a more sheltered life than I thought.
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

I can't be the only one who is a fan of the 10 things picture. However, on 6 August it seems to have been misplaced. Maybe monitor should follow DS's suggestion of checking down the back of the sofa
Paula, Canterbury

Monitor note: Having checked behind the office sofa and drawn a blank, readers are asked to submit pictures of 10 things in the normal way

Why should we be worried about ownership of Liverpool FC going to a communist country? Liverpool have been Reds for years!
Mark van Aalben, Manchester, UK

Tommy (Friday letters), you forget that you can just steal it back. The secret is to buy the cheap stuff and steal your flatmate's more expensive fare.
David, London, UK

"Last year, Iceland became the first country with an openly gay head of state." (10 things, Friday) Really? Tiberius Caesar, Edward II of England, and Ludwig II of Bavaria might disagree, and that's well before we get into controversial (Richard I, Queen Anne) territory.
Jim Allen, Hitchin, England

Monitor note: The key word is "openly"

Re: Fi's question (unofficial WBQ, Friday letters). What did Reverend Spooner use to wend his vines?
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

Stuart, (Friday letters), what makes you consider the discovery of a firearm to be "non-emergency"? It meets the criteria on the Hertforshire Police web site for dialling 999. I think a PCSO arriving after half an hour is a very poor response (albeit hats off to him for getting there by bus). By contrast, walking down the street this afternoon here in Santa Monica, we observed that a minor accident on a zebra crossing resulted in a paramedic wagon, fire engine and 6 police cars - and, worth noting, without bringing traffic to a grinding halt.
Mark, Santa Monica

Paper Monitor

11:11 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Warning. Reading the papers today may leave you feeling very hungry and thirsty. You can't turn the page without seeing a story about food or drink. And there is a suggestion that comestibles like the humble plum are responsible for strengthening emotional bonds and building business empires. What next - world peace?

The Sun pretty much credits Damson plums with enticing Kate Moss from her partying ways. It suggests the fruit could soon be responsible for making the "plum-crazy" supermodel lots more money and creating a family business that can be passed down to her daughter. She and Lila Grace have also been "bonding" during their jam-making sessions.

A source - you know, the type of source who is close to Ms Moss but remains nameless - is suggesting that making jam out of the plums growing at her country estate in the Cotswolds is doing all of the above. The power of the plum - who'd have thought? Move over Liz Hurley with your own brand of organic beef jerky.

A report about Robbie Williams nuptials in the Express reveals that guests toasted the bride and groom with Earl Grey tea rather than champagne. The Daily Mail says the wedding cake was chocolate with sea salt and baklava. Really? A lover of something more traditional, Paper Monitor wouldn't have been in any hurry to get a slice.

The Times has a whole page devoted to the exotic crops that are now being grown in the UK. Melons from Litchfield, kiwi fruit and olives in Kent, grapes in Yorkshire and Darjeeling tea in Cornwall. Quite frankly, Ms Moss could be doing something a bit more adventurous than plum jam if she put her mind to it.

Feeling hungry yet?

If you're on a diet, then page 27 of the Sun might offer something in the way of an appetite suppressant - pictures of a naked rollercoaster ride.

Monday's Quote of the Day

08:58 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

"The mayor unfortunately could not attend himself" - Mayor of Reykjavik in drag as he addresses crowd at Gay Pride

The mayor of Iceland's capital city, Jon Gnarr, used to be a top comedian before coming to office on the back of his party's campaign videos that featured candidates singing Tina Turner's Simply The Best. At the city's Pride festival, he appeared on stage in an outfit that Ms Turner would probably find too demure - a floral-print dress.

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