BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for September 23, 2012 - September 29, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

17:39 UK time, Friday, 28 September 2012

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

1. Mankinis are banned in Newquay, Cornwall.
More details

2. Korean eunuchs live 19 years longer than uncastrated men from the same social class.
More details

3. One in every 10 people uses the same Pin number - 1234.
More details (The Guardian)

4. An open window on a plane would not suck everything out as you see in movies - mostly passengers inside would feel short of breath and start to pass out.
More details (LA Times)

5. The only fully trained and certified member of the Police Department in the US town of Vaughn, New Mexico, is a dog called Nikka.
More details (New York Daily News)

6. Just 1% of meteorites are lunar in origin.
More details (The Times)

7. Bexhill, Sussex, has more centenarians per head of population than anywhere else in the UK.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

8. An ancient Buddha statue recovered by the Nazis was carved from a meteorite.
More details

9.Economics undergraduates have more sexual partners on average than students of any other subject.
More details (Huffington Post)

10. Flying backwards is energy-efficient for birds.
More details

Seen a thing? Tell @BBC_magazine on Twitter using the hashtag #thingIdidntknowlastweek

Your Letters

17:17 UK time, Friday, 28 September 2012

I whole-heartedly endorse the idea of a no-child flight. On my flight to Hong Kong earlier this year a woman stood for the entire 12 hour flight fretting over the cot in which her baby was sleeping. The baby itself was absolutely no problem, but the mother was a very irritating distraction from Taken which I was trying to watch (if anyone knows what happens at the end I'd love to know - the video shut off for landing about 15 minutes before the credits).
Basil Long, Nottingham

Note to Mark Scales (Thursday's letters): the sign might say "use both lanes" but it really means "use either lane".
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

If we are going to persist with these sign gags, surely we must mention the solitary sign seen on the side of a country road which simply read "Sign not in use".
David, Cannock, UK

Magna Carta was very important for guaranteeing the liberties of the English Church. Otherwise it gave more powers to the barons against the King. But, as the stage version of "1066 & All That" put it, it was good for everyone "except the common people".
Ian Falconer, Staveley, Chesterfield, England

A minor quibble: the version of Magna Carta enacted into law in 1297 was not, as you have it, the 'first English statute'; indeed, the Chronological Tables of the Statutes list several dozen statutes before Magna Carta. The first statute is generally considered to be the Statute of Merton 1235, and the oldest statute still in force today is the Statute of Marlborough 1267. I'll get my robes.
JJ, London, UK

Caption Competition

13:20 UK time, Friday, 28 September 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week, Dean O'Malley rises above water on a water-powered jetpack flying machine.

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

6. beachcred:
It was his success in the walking-on-water test that clinched the Archbishop of Canterbury role for Dean.

5. Ade:
After weeks of painstaking toil, scientists manage to recreate exact moment Downton Abbey jumped the shark.

4. Al-S:
RyanAir introduce their new "Budget-extreme" Service.

3. Woundedpride:
"...and if the patent application for the jet pack fails, I've got one for a double shower..."

2. GuitarKate:
Preparations are already well in hand for the Queen's entrance at the next Commonwealth Games.

1. Lin Vegas:
"All right Vladimir - just because you never got invited on to the David Letterman Show..."

Paper Monitor

09:27 UK time, Friday, 28 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It can't be stressed enough how much Paper Monitor loves papers. So this column is always delighted when that love is reciprocated right back.

Yesterday the BBC News Magazine ran a feature on the Britishisation of American English, which proved rather popular with readers.

So full credit to the Daily Mail for turning around their own hastily-composed version a mere 15-and-a-half hours after ours was published.

"And imitation is indeed the highest form of flattery," runs the third par of the Mail's copy.

Paper Monitor couldn't agree more. As, it seems, do various other major news outlets.

The Magazine's recent article on the man who turned his home into a public library was flattered shortly afterwards by Jon Henley of the Guardian.

A few weeks ago, a two-year-old Magazine story about the rise of middle-aged men in lycra crept back into the BBC News "most popular" index.

The following day, it transpired that Matt Seaton of the Guardian had, for some reason, decided to revisit the topic.

In early August the Magazine visited the independent coffee republic of Totnes.

By the next weekend, so too had Nigel Farndale of the Daily Telegraph.

And a few days after that - was he flattering the Magazine, or the Telegraph, do you think? - John Harris of, yes, once again, the Guardian, followed suit.

There are numerous other notable examples of the Magazine's "competitors" showing us just how much they care.

The Telegraph and Guardian also paid their own special tribute to our piece about flat adverts that may be breaking the law, for instance.

Or the New York Times providing its own take on our feature on the myth of the eight-hour sleep.

Or the baby time-lapse trend, reversioned by the Sunday Times.

Or the Magazine's take on how hummus conquered Britain, and the Daily Mail's very similar observation shortly afterwards.

So a note to our fellow features desks: Thank you. Rest assured, we're feeling the love.

Your Letters

17:13 UK time, Thursday, 27 September 2012

Is anyone else thinking how good it would be to introduce people to the boss of Megaupload, an ex-lead guitarist with Guns N' Roses and any third party in that order?
Robin, Herts, UK

The sign "Slow Children" gets me wondering. Surely it's the quick un's you need to keep an eye out for.
Brendan, London

I usually get stopped by the traffic police shortly after passing the sign that reads "Use both lanes."
Mark Scales, Gloucester

I'm always very wary of "Heavy plant crossing" on roadsigns. Triffids perhaps!
Mr G, Orpington

Should that be Britishization, or were you making a point?
Henri, Sidcup

Andie (Wednesday's letters), if it's length you are looking for then you might like the mid-20th century Fijian cricketer Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau. And Paul H, with his penchant for brevity, will be pleased to know that the normal spelling on scorecards was IL Bula. I imagine the scorer was quite pleased too.
David, Romford, UK

Andie, (Wednesday's Letters), isn't "Theophrastus Bombastus" actually Shaggy's real name?
Paul, Marlow, UK

Paper Monitor

12:50 UK time, Thursday, 27 September 2012

Mail Online

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor loves newspapers.

And that means Paper Monitor is also fascinated by newspaper websites.

The Mail Online, in particular, exerts a strange and wondrous pull on those who stumble upon it.

It is a veritable rabbit hole, but instead of ever-smiling Cheshire cats, tea parties, white rabbits and bottles labelled "Drink me" (well, maybe some tea parties), it is a cornucopia of:

  • bikini shots
  • stolen kisses between just-friends
  • Kristen Stewart
  • fashion critiques
  • Simon Cowell
  • wardrobe malfunctions
  • breasts
  • Kardashians
  • women looking a bit too fat
  • women looking a bit too thin
  • Harry Styles
  • make-up tips
  • make-up malfunctions
  • and former stars fallen on hard times (in today's news, Joanie from Happy Days is homeless!)

To add yet another analogy to the mix, Mail Online is like an assortment box of chocolates.

You can't stop at one.

Or even two.

But afterwards, you feel a bit overloaded and regretful.

Very few of these stories - well, big pictures with some words attached - make it into the print version.

(It does have a piece about a Duchess of Cambridge wardrobe row, and an admiring piece about Miriam Clegg's bum party conference suit. And something about breasts.)

The scrolling required to take in everything on the front page is quite an effort.

Paper Monitor's mouse finger is quite worn out.

But how long is it exactly?

Reader Allen O'Leary has measured it.

"It's about 25 browser lengths or close to 20,000 pixels."

He took a screenshot (well, multiple screenshots) of what he has dubbed the "scroll of shame" and the minified version is reproduced here.

Meanwhile, full hilarity marks to the Daily Mail for its choice of file photograph to illustrate its story about Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow taking drugs live on the telly.

Headlined "I drove up M40 on LSD, says Jon Snow", the accompanying picture is of the venerable tie-wearer saluting while dressed as a peapod.

Or is it a green lobster costume?

You can see it here on the Mail Online, and make up your own mind.

And if you fall down the rabbit hole, Paper Monitor will see you at the bottom...

Your Letters

16:44 UK time, Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Surely the best sign - seen somewhere at a Northamptonshie NHS facility is: "Family Planning Centre - please use rear entrance."
James Dawkins, London

"Police notice no parking" it said. But they did notice, and I got a ticket.
Tim, London

In Ireland a pub had a notice on a closed door which read "Please use the back entrance. The back door is at the front." Also a church hall had a notice saying ''Slimming club every Monday.. slimmers please the double doors at the back of the hall to enter.''
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

A classic, underneath the road name sign for Old Station Approach in Winchester - "Chesil Street Multi-Storey Car Park. No parking at any time". It has only very recently been replaced by one which makes a bit more sense.
Catherine, Southampton, UK

"Dogs must be carried" signs on escalators - I'm always looking round for a dog - maybe a toy one will suffice. A blind corridor at work just has the sign 'Caution' on it - of what?Sarah Nuttall, London, UK

For years I've been tempted to add to signs saying "Cement Works" - "Yes, it does..."
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

Peter (Tuesday's letters) - in the interests of brevity I may have underplayed my hand. I give you Soorjo Alexander William Langobard Oliphant Chuckerbutty.
Paul H, Hedon, UK

These best names have all been a bit short so far, surely middle names should be taken into account? How about - Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim.
Andie, London

The 'plebs' of ancient Rome withdrew from political life and the city when fed up with the insufferable patrician class - allowing the 'toffs' of Rome to get on as best they could without them. Perhaps calling someone a 'pleb' makes (some) people feel better, but it may just remind the recipient of this insult of their own political clout. Vivat plebes.
Mark, Reading, UK

Paper Monitor

12:05 UK time, Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor loves it when one of this parish's observations is made, quite independently, by another source.

Today's Sun carries a feature with the headline: "Why @Dickens would have been hooked on Twitter."

In it, the actor and Dickens biographer Simon Callow explains why the great novelist would have been a fan of microblogging and social media.

"He loved to be in contact with his readers, especially in his last decade, when he read to them from his books, " writes Callow. "So it is hard to imagine that he would have been able to resist Twitter."

It's a thought that had occurred at Magazine Towers, too.

The BBC's Matthew Davis has taken up the challenge of reading all of Dickens' novels in 2012, the year that marks the Victorian writer's 200th birthday.

Each day Matthew has picked a quotation from the work he is reading. Each of these have been tweeted by @BBC_Magazine under the hashtag #dickensoftheday.

If you would like to look back at them, each of the excerpts is being collated at Charles Dickens: The master of the snippet.

Great minds think alike. It's clearly the best of times.

Your Letters

15:07 UK time, Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Nigel (Monday's letters), Letts Drive?
Ed, Wakefield

Nigel - "wet floor" signs in public lavatories!
John, Diss Norfolk (please don't!)

Nigel (Monday's letters), there is a warning sign at Colchester Railway Station which reads: "Do not run on the stairs, use the handrail". Surely running on the handrail is a tad more dangerous.
Nick Eaton, City of London

There was the classic "Drink Canada Dry".
Tim, London

I often see suggestions that Bill Posters should be prosecuted - anyone know what he did?
Henri, Sidcup

I recall a door leading off a flight of stairs at a London Underground station with the single word "refuse" written scruffily on it. I always wanted to add the word "no" underneath, but never actually did.
David, Romford, UK

This may be an urban myth but a church hall's kitchen once had a notice "Anyone using a teapot would they please wash their bottom and stand upside-down in the sink".
Gordon, Newcastle, UK

I often see signs saying "Door alarmed" and wonder what it knows that I don't...
Lewis Graham, Hitchin, UK

Oh, yes, definitely. "Refuse collection!" "Entrance!" "Free drinks!" And I'm still searching for that potter we're all supposed to be harrying.
Elspeth, Isle of Wight

I often see the order "wet paint", but hardly anyone does.
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Sorry, Jo and Paul (Monday letters), but I think Themistocles Zammit is the best name I've encountered.
Peter, Swindon, UK

"Clegg pledges £100m for childcare" - I bet the one word he didn't use was "pledge".
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Re this article going forward, I think we need to take a helicopter viewpoint of the situation, draw a firm line under it, and cascade downwards all the lessons learnt. Glad that's all cleared up...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Paper Monitor

10:03 UK time, Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

After the wettest summer on record in 100 years, wouldn't it have been wonderful if we'd had an Indian summer in September? But alas, it's not to be, with today's papers warning Britain to be braced for a further battering.

Never one to underplay the situation, the Daily Express declares that "Weather from hell is to last months".

"Torrential rain and wild winds" are set to "cause structural damage to homes and businesses," it cries, with commuters forced to endure "brolly wet" journeys to work.

The Daily Mirror is equally foreboding, saying "more storms are on the way" after the recent deluge has seen "schools shut and homes flooded and "chaos on the roads and rail".

"A month of rain in 1 day," is its headline.

Meanwhile the papers are seeing the postive side of the situation and using the relentless rain, to ahem, make a splash with snaps.

Cars marooned in rivers, lashed lighthouses, flooded playground fields and a drenched Downing Sreet police man are just some of the pictures peppering the papers.

It all feels damply familiar.

Your Letters

17:08 UK time, Monday, 24 September 2012

I thought that the term 'Draw a line under it' relates to sales and accounting ledgers. Once the days trades were fully reconciled then you drew a line to show it was the end of the day. The line should not be drawn if the columns don't balance and therefore you can only move on to the next day once a line has been drawn.
MCK, Stevenage

Today's Dickens' quote (Sydney Carton on the scaffold) reminds me that I have always wondered why A Tale of Two Cities is not considered a great romantic classic. Surely what Carton does for the woman he loves than standing about brooding in the rain? (I'm generalising, here)
Aine, London

This headline has to be the tongue-twister of the week. Try saying it ten times as fast as you can.
Richard, London

Sorry Jo Penn, Turtle Bunbury is good, but I think that well known 20th century organist Oliphant Chuckerbutty has the edge.
Paul H, Hedon

I saw an instruction on a book today. "Pan Macmillan". So here goes...Blimey, what a rubbish Prime Minister he was! I mean, talk about not up to much! Duly panned, see! Does anyone else see instructions like that around the place, on signs, street names, etc.?
Nigel Macarthur, London, England

Paper Monitor

13:18 UK time, Monday, 24 September 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Downton Abbey may have only have triumphed once at Emmy Awards last night, but that hasn't stopped today's papers from wondering why Americans seem so enthralled with the British export.

"LA falls head over heels for Downton," says the Daily Mail, which points out the costume drama was nominated for 16 of the 20 gongs up for grabs.

"Not since the arrival of the royal newlyweds has one British family caused such a sensation in America," it says.

For the Daily Express, it's down to an age-old appeal.

"Americans cannot get enough of the cut-glass accents and the colourful spectable of countesses, cooks and castles," it says.

But the Times' Rhys Blakely says although the "special relationship may have its ups and downs, it seems there is one thing for which Americans will always give Britain credit: good television", adding that Downton is "lording it".

"British critics have sometimes derided its soapy underpinnings but their American cousins have approached the series with the reverence of a good footman," he says.

The LA Times has called the show a "pop culture phenomenon" and the New York Times has chronicled the viewing parties held in Manhattan, complete with "finger sandwiches and properly made pots of tea", he says.

Who needs gongs when Downton has got Americans drinking tea?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.