BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for February 19, 2012 - February 25, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

17:02 UK time, Friday, 24 February 2012

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

1. Moths have a taste for chardonnay.
More details

2. Ice Age plants can be brought back to life.
More details

3. The longest word ever used in the House of Commons is floccinaucinihilipilification.
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4. Spiders appear bigger when you're afraid of them.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

5. Men might not become extinct after all.
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6. In 1811, stealing brass knockers from doors was known as a "noisy dog racket".
More details (Daily Telegraph)

7. The early horse shrank to the size of a cat.
More details (New York Times)

8. World War II code-breaker Alan Turing was correct about why leopards have spots.
More details (Daily Mail)

9. Heart attack symptoms differ in men and women.
More details

10. Queen's Park Rangers captain Joey Barton is a fan of Desert Island Discs.
More details (Twitter)

Your Letters

15:48 UK time, Friday, 24 February 2012

"Previous research has suggested the Y sex chromosome, which only men carry, is decaying genetically so fast that it will be extinct in five million years' time." Hmm... I am not sure the original study grasped the concept of what constitutes "fast" fully.
Tom Webb, Surbiton

Is it wrong of me to laugh when I imagine the face of the gallery guard as he discovered that The Scream had been stolen?
John Thompson, Kirkby Lonsdale

To Colin Main (Thursday's letters). Depends on what average you mean (or mode or median). I'd wager more than 50% of people have above average number of eyes for example.
Geraint Morgan, Powys

John (Thursday's letters). Here are 10 broadband speeds: 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3. 90% of them are below average. (At least, the commonly-used "mean" average). I'll get my skew distribution.
Phil Atkin, Cambridge

Re today's random stat. Shouldn't that be 5:18, not 5.18? I'll get my digital watch...
David Scourfield, Cardiff, Wales

Caption Competition

13:21 UK time, Friday, 24 February 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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


This week a carnival performer in Brazil wore fake bank notes.

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

6. Fi-Glos wrote:

Despite ticking the "no publicity" box when claiming her Euromillions win, Janice had already aroused the neighbours' suspicions.

5. Woundedpride wrote:

Robert Peston tries a new approach to explain monetary base expansion in credit constrained, deflationary economies.

4. CindyAccidentally wrote:

Celtic's turn to provide the pre-match entertainment in the Old Firm derby.

3. ladyofastolat wrote:

This isn't the real carnival; it's just the counter-fete.

2. eattherich wrote:

RBS announce 2011 losses using the medium of dance.

1. Gray Gable wrote:

Er... actually, a debit card will do just fine.

Paper Monitor

11:54 UK time, Friday, 24 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a glitz celebration of Hollywood glamour. So you would think this weekend's Oscars ceremony would inspire fevered anticipation in the nation's newspapers, right?

Wrong. Perhaps they are jaded, having spend too many hours with notebooks in hand on the fringes of the red carpet, but the punditocracy casts a dismissive eye upon the forthcoming Academy Awards.

"If the Oscars were about Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and even the kid from the vampire movies who insists that he does not use steroids, my eyes would be glued to the TV set," opines film writer Joe Queenan in the Guardian.

"But that's not what the Oscars are about. They're a chance for crass, middle-aged men with salt-and-pepper ponytails to thank their mums."

Attending the event doesn't sound like much fun either, if veteran of 2011 Lois Cahall is to be believed. The reality is, she said, endless appointments to attend, not getting to see any films, trashy "gift" bags and, worst of all, a lack of access to toilets:

As for me, I remember thinking in a moment of particular desperation that maybe I could just tinkle right here, right down my leg, concealed under my gown, step away from the puddle and let Penélope Cruz -- just behind me -- take the blame.

Never one to be outdone, Jan Moir of the Daily Mail goes further, blaming awards nights like the Oscars for the ills of modern society.

"From million-pound bank bonuses to Golden Globes, from Baftas to Oscars, from Grammys to gongs dished out by Buckingham Palace (to the undeserving elites in the performing arts), it is all getting out of hand," she fumes.

"Our entire culture has become completely obsessed with trophy-giving and ostentatious awardery -- the brasher and flashier the better... Just doing a lovely, glamorous job and accepting the generous remuneration isn't enough any more. There also needs to be some sort of public beatification as evermore glittering prizes are lavished on those who already glitter with privilege."

Blimey. For Daniel Bettridge of the Independent, however, it is not these events that blight the industry so much as another trend - the absence of moustaches on the top lips of latter day leading men.

"Think back to the earliest days of cinema, and a string of moustachioed movie stars spring immediately to mind: Charlie Chaplin's trademark toothbrush 'tache, Clark Gable's shapely chevron, Douglas Fairbanks's neatly coiffured caterpillar, and Errol Flynn's impossibly manicured mo," he sighs.

Sadly, save for a few notable exceptions, this example of facial furniture is rarely seen on today's silver screen. Perhaps an Oscar for Best Supporting Moustache might appease the doubters?

Your Letters

16:35 UK time, Thursday, 23 February 2012

If it comes from a test tube - it isn't a burger, it's a sausage.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Faster than light goes the way of cold fusion and life on Mars. Is there nothing we can do? P.S. Caption Comp. is on the blink - there's a challenge for you.
John, Sevenoaks

Monitor: Fixed.

Do you think someone ought to explain that on average, 50% of ANYTHING is below average. Nah. Let's strive to get ALL our broadband speeds above average!
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

The Beeb really is trying to extract as much mileage as possible from the still of Adele at the Brits. Are the Entertainment pages edited by a pre-pubescent boy?
Basil Long, Nottingham

Anyone else spot the Slitheen? Where is Harriet Jones when you need her?
Rusty, Flydale North

Paper Monitor

09:46 UK time, Thursday, 23 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor's eye couldn't help but be drawn to one story in particular this morning.

A town's clash over roundabout decor would normally be the domain of local papers, but with such brilliant quotes, we can understand why the Daily Telegraph thought it was worthy of its page three.

So the subject of the war of words? Five bright blue gnomes which have been placed on a roundabout on the way into the historic Devon market town of Totnes.

According to the paper, the 3ft-high statues - modelled after Grumpy and Dopey from Disney cartoon Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - were donated by a local firm in response to an appeal by the town's Britain in Bloom group, in a bid to add a splash of colour to the community.

But clearly not all the locals are fans of the town's latest residents. Retired couple Chris and John Keleher say:

The offending gnomes may be appropriate in Las Vegas or in Disneyland but to claim that they enhance the image of Totnes in any way is to insult the values of what Totnes is supposed to stand for.

Hazel Fuller, of Dartington, adds:

Please assure me I haven't been imbibing an illegal hallucinogenic substance and that the shiny blue monstrosities on the roundabout in Totnes are not a figment of my fevered mind... While community volunteer gardeners are doing their best to green the town, what do we get on the roundabout?

Grinning, shiny blue objects with hideous faces that destroy the effect of any planting behind them. Please let them be banished to their rightful home, underground, forthwith.

A local ecologist has even called on Totnes town mayor to step down over the matter, saying she is responsible for a "breach of public trust and humiliation".

However the brightly-coloured gnomes' supporters have been equally vocal. A Totnes in Bloom spokeswoman says:

Real Totnesians have fallen about with laughter at the blue gnomes. They are great fun. It is only uptight, humourless incomers who object. Do we constantly have to go round in hair shirts eating organically grown food?

A local botanist, Joy Hanson, adds:

The council had received many complaints about the untidiness of the roundabout over many months and no other businesses would support tidying it up and its long term maintenance.

Who'd have thought five little blue gnomes could have created such a storm? Paper Monitor is wondering whether to bring some to the office to see what happens.

Your Letters

16:49 UK time, Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Surely the best way to save water when showering (Caroline, Tuesday's letters), is to ensure that someone else is in the shower WITH you and thereby it's a two for one deal. I must do some more research...
Daniel, London

Caroline Brown may well have a water meter, but she clearly doesn't have an electrically-heated shower. If I turn it off and then on again, the water comes through scalding (as I found out to my cost). Don't try this at home, folks!
Sharon Cutworth, King's Lynn

Re: Caroline Brown (Tuesdays Letters) - save water? I had a 20 minute shower this morning and plan on a bath tonight. I left the water running when I brushed my teeth and flushed the loo twice... You dont have to save water if you don't want to. You can move to the North!
Marc, Oldham (The North)

Re Caroline Brown's letter, I don't have a water meter, but I do remember showering in Crete once. After I'd lathered myself up, the water system just stopped (as it often did in that area). After a long wait, I gave up and went to bed, by which time I'd set. Every time I moved in bed, I crackled.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Matt Tuesday's letters, I thought for a moment that you were implying that Bench Girl (Has Drunk Girl changed her name?) didn't used to be a girl!
Paul, Bradford, West Yorkshire

The world's least demanding job?
Rob, London, UK

I struggle to think of something witty enough to warrant a letter, let alone steel myself for the disappointment and blow to my ego when Magazine Monitor doesn't consider it funny enough to publish but John Whapshott of Westbury thinks of one witty comment and he gets published twice he was so witty.
Katherine Broadhurst, Cardiff

Monitor: This lapse has now been rectified.

Paper Monitor

14:39 UK time, Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor always looks forward to reading the papers the day after the Brit Awards, and this year does not disappoint.

And so it is not Adele's double scoop of Best Female and Best Album titles that dominates the headlines, but the fact her acceptance speech was cut off - and how she handled it - that steals the show.

"Sheers, Adele!" says the Sun, which reports that her one-fingered gesture was aimed at the suits, not her fans, and "the seething singer" later stormed out of the venue.

Talking of show shoppers, the Metro has snaps of a London Fashion Week show where a hat designer sent models down the catwalk in their birthday suits.

"Bare faced cheek", it says, adding that at least the designer had the guts to admit the stunt was staged to attract attention.

In other news, many of the papers revel in a story that allows them to combine two of their favourite subjects - a royal princess and a cute animal.

According to the Daily Mail, the Duchess of Cambridge has let slip a secret that has been "almost as closely guarded as the crown jewels".

The mystery the paper is almost dancing with delight over having solved?

The name of the Duchess of Cambridge's three-month-old cocker spaniel puppy.

It's revealed as Lupo, which means wolf in Italian.

Paper Monitor wonders whether that's much of a howler.

Your Letters

17:15 UK time, Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Easiest way to save water when showering is to turn it OFF when washing. Turn it on to get wet (a few seconds) and after washing to rinse off (30-40 seconds I reckon). Can you tell I have a water meter?
Caroline Brown, Rochester, UK

Re: 10 things we didn't know. There are infinitely more ways of mis-spelling Betws-y-Coed than 364. Zfoinyuere is one; so is wero-ifnd; so is - well, you get the idea. I'll get my pokjbwr.
John Whapshott, Westbury, Wiltshire

The planet's short distance from Earth means that the Voyager 1 spacecraft, at it's present speed, might reach it in just under one million of our Earth years. Just in time for the next drought.
John, Sevenoaks

Re HB (Monday's Letters): If that's Bench Girl earlier in the evening then this must have been taken in her early years.
Matt, Hove

Paper Monitor

10:45 UK time, Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's almost time for this year's Brit Awards, and, as ever, Paper Monitor hopes to enjoy the spectacle of the music industry bash going disastrously wrong, as when Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox infamously oversaw proceedings in 1989 or, failing that, would settle for some irreverent Jarvis Cocker-esque posterior-wiggling.

Paper Monitor may, however, be disappointed.

In the Daily Telegraph, Bernadette McNulty predicts that the 2012 ceremony will look "uncannily like a rerun of the Brits 2011" to viewers.

"Held once more in the O2 arena, with James Corden hosting, many of the names that made the ceremony last year are once more holding court," she complains.

However, the Times offers cause for optimism. Rock critic Will Hodgkinson offers a sardonic guide to the evening's main contenders which suggests the ceremony will be entertaining, though not necessarily for the right reasons.

Earnest singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, noted for his teeny-bopper fanbase, may miss out on a gong because, Hodgkinson suggests, "critics can't take his mundane lyrics seriously, particularly when he raps about being a "ghetto man" - from the Suffolk town of Framlingham".

Willowy chanteuse Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine is likely to win something because "Enya is due for a comeback".

Noel Gallagher, formerly of Oasis, is most likely to tell the crowd: "I'm not arrogant. I just believe that I definitely am the best British male in the world."

With such a line-up, surely the spirit of Mick Fleetwood cannot be too far away?

Your Letters

17:28 UK time, Monday, 20 February 2012

I like to think this picture shows Bench Girl (letters passim) earlier in the evening.
HB, London

So they will be fitted just in time for summer - top planning people!
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

Is there a word for that sense of urgency one feels when one has a witticism to share on the Caption Competition but the BBC website won't let you log in and someone else gets your kudos?
Jeff Doggett, Thurnby, Leicestershire, UK

Re this story: I have got a piece of Moon rock at home. It's got "Sea of Tranquillity" written right through it.
John Thompson, Kirkby Lonsdale

Re: 10 things we didn't know. There are infinitely more ways of mis-spelling Betws-y-Coed than 364. "Zfoinyuere" is one; so is "wero-ifnd"; so is - well, you get the idea. I'll get my pokjbwr.
John Whapshott, Westbury, Wiltshire

Re this : Am I the only one to interpret this headline as a warning about yellow snow?
Graeme, Wild-in-the-street, UK

Paper Monitor

16:46 UK time, Monday, 20 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Victoria Beckham is never one to light up the pages of the newspapers with a cheerful smile. But since arriving back in Britain a few days ago, the former Spice Girl has got it in the neck for looking extra glum - and gaunt, according to the commentators. But, apparently, miserable she is not.

This weekend, during the launch of her latest collection, she hit back at accusations that she was miserable by saying that, life as a working mum was simply exhausting. "Give me a break," she pleads.

The Daily Express quotes the mother-of-four, who has just launched a new collection in London, as saying that she is "basically like any woman who is working and has lots of children - it's tough".

I'm not getting much sleep at all. Harper's not sleeping that great, and I've been taking Skype business calls thoughout the night too because of the collections. I'm up with the baby as all mums are and I wouldn't have it any other way. There's not a team of people doing it for me.

It is unusual for the normally super-human Mrs Beckham to such vulnerability - an Achilles heel, as it were.

Jeremy Lin, of the New York Knicks, is a basketball player making waves. His name has inspired a slew of puns - broadly known as "Linsanity".

The Daily What has collated a number here.

Of variable quality and good taste.

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