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Archives for March 31, 2013 - April 6, 2013

10 things we didn't know last week

16:48 UK time, Friday, 5 April 2013

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

1. The most "urban" job in America - that is, with the highest concentration in metro areas - is flight attendants.
More details (The Atlantic)

2. Holly Golightly, heroine of Breakfast at Tiffany's, was originally going to be called Connie Gustafson.
More details (The Independent)

3. Female octopuses stretch further to reach for food, researchers in Italy say.
More details

4. Jeremy Clarkson's exploits on Top Gear are avidly followed by many people in Iran.
More details

5. Exhaled breath can act as a "fingerprint" for individuals.
More details

6. More than 100 billion Earth-like planets that could be home to life may exist in our galaxy.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

7. Ordinary television signals can be used to track aircraft.
More details (The Economist)

8. People who complete secondary school are, on average, 1cm taller in old age than those who don't.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

9. All the gold in the world could fit into a cube with sides of just 20m (67ft).
More details

10. It costs £50 a week to feed a 23kg rabbit - the world's largest.
More details (Daily Express)

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

Your Letters

16:00 UK time, Friday, 5 April 2013

After Her Majesty's Bafta-winning parachute jump, I did a double-take at the sight of "Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to visit Mars". I then realised that it's probably a very convenient visit, given that Windsor Castle must have a very similar postcode.
Fi, Gloucestershire

Right, based on the ability to hum Justin Bieber's Never Let You Go, Paper Monitor is clearly a 12-year-old girl.
Rusty, Montreal, Canada

Tom Fordyce, BBC Sport's chief sports writer, describes the Grand National as "a rollercoaster ride". Could I suggest that someone has a quiet but urgent word with him before tomorrow afternoon.
John, Bath

Who says there's no North/South divide?
Colin, Korea

Caption Competition

13:15 UK time, Friday, 5 April 2013

Comments (105)

Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Skating at Easter

This week, skaters in fancy dress costumes marked the traditional Easter Bunny Stroll in central London. Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Filboid

Worst. C3PO. Costume. Ever.

5. abz

We spent all morning at the hare dressers to look this good.

4. Dyeb

No matter how hard he tried, Lance Armstrong could not disguise himself when he insisted on wearing the yellow jersey.

3. CindyAccidentally

Under the new social ranking system, last one to the finish line was an "emergent service worker".

2. PeeJayEll

North Korean scientists misunderstand the instruction to duplicate the West's fast-breeder technology.

1. lolkat

The degeneration of Hugh Hefner's eyesight meant that the rules around recruitment of new Playboy Bunnies could afford to be somewhat relaxed in his later years.

Paper Monitor

11:22 UK time, Friday, 5 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The outraged drivers of Cambridge find a voice in Friday's papers, for Fleet St has thrown its weight behind criticisms of a council - all together now - accused of having "gone mad".

"Crackpot" and "barmy" are two of the terms levelled at the officials who have transgressed.

Their crime? To have painted what are thought to be the UK's shortest double yellow lines, accessorised with a £70 fine for those who park on them.

At a mere 13in (33cm), it is true to say that the markings - which separate two disabled parking bays - look as though they were done by a workman with a bit of paint left at the bottom of the can.

But how best to communicate this preposterous shortness to readers?

Traditional comparisons don't help. They certainly can't be measured in double-decker buses, and working out how many would fit into Wales would be a challenge too far.

But not to worry, words and imagery can be found.

"You can't even fit a remote control car on it," Nik Hazell, 21, tells the Sun.

"Less than the width of a car wheel," offers the Daily Mail.

For the Daily Telegraph, a picture of four toy cars parked bumper to bumper along the lines is sufficient.

"Perhaps a child with a toy car could park there," says former mayor Rob Dryden in the Daily Star.

And it has a quote from Cambridgeshire County Council to set things in context. "This is common practice," a spokesman offers.

The row, presumably, could motor on.

(PS: Paper Monitor wonders if one of those teeny-tiny electric cars could fit...)

Your Letters

17:01 UK time, Thursday, 4 April 2013

My favourite Cupertino (or auto-correct fail as I like to call it) was when my phone changed the word 'panicking', thereby telling a friend 'I'm completely pancaking about everything'.
HB, Birmingham

A fine Cupertino happened to me when writing a report on the former government social welfare agency, the New Zealand Income Support Service. Guess which German political group from the 1940s the spellchecker decided to change the NZISS to...
Dave, Wellington

I expect that in the near future history lessons will speak of Henry VIII's 'unheading' of Anne Boleyn. I'll un-decoat.
Roarshock, Oregon, US

I was interested to read that the mass of a Higgs Boson is 0.0000000000000000000003g. It would surely be easier to comprehend such a number if we were also informed how many of these mysterious particles made a double decker bus. And conversely, if the bus would actually be there at all.
Brendan, London

So according to Thursday's random stat, as I completed secondary school, I should expect "1cm extra height in old age". When exactly during my twilight years am I expected to grow? I'd like to be prepared - I may have to purchase new clothes, and that takes some planning on a pension.
Kat, Ipswich

I'm glad to read this: Stonehaven to get lifeboat cover. It will help stop the lifeboat getting dusty.
Steve, Aberdeen

Paper Monitor

14:26 UK time, Thursday, 4 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today we offer 10 things we noticed in the papers in 10 minutes - go:

1: The Daily Mail reports on a survey indicating that every boy of 14 has seen porn - er, well, yeah.

2: The Times quotes a former editor of Vogue Australia who claims that models are under such pressure to be abnormally thin that they are eating tissue paper.

3: The Express reports on a woman who spent £1,000 on legal fees in a lengthy battle to get her cat back from a family that adopted it as a stray seven years ago. The original owner asked for police assistance, but apparently they can only get involved if the animal in question is a dog.

4: Campaigners in South Norwood (in the London borough of Croydon) are hoping to persuade officials in Cumbria to desist from using the title "Lake District" and hand it over. Why? Because the "Lake District" only has one lake - Norwood, two. The Mail, comparing the two places, points out under a section on famous residents that the Lake District had poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, while South Norwood was home to Pickles the dog who recovered the World Cup trophy.

5: An Indian multi-millionaire has spent £15,000 on an ad in the Times of India looking for a wife to share his riches - on condition, that is, that she doesn't have a "fat bottom", according to The Age.

6: April Fool's day has been and gone - so straight face. The Mail reports that plans for a giant new £2bn theme park just outside London have been halted by a colony of rare jumping spiders.

7: Lock up your daughters - the One Direction movie, 1D in 3D, will feature nudity - along with food fights, according to director Morgan Spurlock, who's quoted in the Daily Mirror.

8: The Sun is offering to re-home Justin Bieber's pet monkey in a "comfy new home in a British zoo". The poor capuchin is in Germany where it was seized by customs. The pop singer has been given four weeks to claim it - but the Sun has offered to step in if he no longer wants it. Now we're humming Never Let You Go.

9: Headline of the day: Lady Gaga's wheelie odd. The Daily Star observes that she headed for the gym yesterday for a spot of yoga and left in a wheelchair.

10: Although the Sun's front-page "Don't cry for me Argie Cleaner", about footballer Carlos Tevez's 250 hours of community service - which will probably include jobs like cleaning, and if it doesn't it's too good a pun to pass up - is pretty inspired.

Your Letters

14:17 UK time, Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Following Malcolm's logic from yesterday's letters, befriending would mean to defriend if beheading is to dehead.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Malcolm (yesterday's letters) - I like 'defriending', but I'm not familiar with 'deheading'. I've heard of dead-heading (of daffodils), or beheading (of Tudor wives), but neither of those really works with unfriending. 'Befriending' is, well, completely wrong, and 'dead-friending' sounds like a zombie outreach project.
Ashley, Hull

I tried the class test a few times and found that all that's keeping me out of the precariat is going to gigs. When I tick that box, I become an emergent service worker. If I go to more gigs will I end up in the elite?Rosie, Cambridge, UK

According to your survey, I'm middle class.I was so surprised, I nearly dropped my focaccia.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

Business reporter Laurence Knight declares: "To ask about a country's long-term prospects in the middle of a financial crisis is something of a fool's errand." He then writes an 860 word article that does just that. Why?
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

I guess Ed Loach (Letters, Tuesday) didn't read the bit which said; "The food experiment carried out by Dr Cutler was much more extensive than we've been able to show in this finished report, and included controls which the results were compared with."
David Richards, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Re: train gripes. May I add escalators up and down to the platform. Many are oblivious to the stand right, walk left rule. I'll get my cote.
Candace, New Jersey, US

Time for a Cupertino-off? When working in the rail industry, my personal favourite was an email client which kept suggesting I should change 'ScotRail' to 'scrotal.'
Susannah, Oxford

Paper Monitor

12:25 UK time, Wednesday, 3 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Continuing in a similar vein to yesterday, Paper Monitor can't help but notice a couple of other of sorry stories in the Daily Telegraph today.

First up, the paper reports that pubs are making us less productive.

It cites a study which found that absenteeism rates rose by 1.7% in England and Wales after the licensing changes in November 2005 abolished the traditional 11pm closing time.

According to the report, later pub hours have led to a rise in the number of workers who "play hard and shirk hard" instead of working hard. More Britons are calling in sick, probably because they are hungover, it suggests.

To make matters worse, in Spain, where bar opening hours were tightened up over a similar period, the effect was the opposite, it points out.

In other news, the paper has some bad news for children (although admittedly good news for parents). Pocket money is bad for them. The paper round, or getting them to do household chores to earn money, is good. It will set them up for a life of prudence, it reports a study as saying.

There is at least a lighter story on the front page for punters looking to pick a horse to back on the Grand National this weekend.

A mathematician has done lots and lots of maths and come up with the best bet for the next champion. The sums add up to Seabass, it says.

The things he analysed for his potential windfall? The name, first letter and number of words in the name and age of all 40 horses lining up this year.

Paper Monitor wonders why it didn't also include the colour of the jockey's silks.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Tuesday, 2 April 2013

My favourite example of a Cupertino (as described here) is from my old PC that once updated 'Celine Dion' to 'Feline Din', which I thought was most appropriate.
Jo, London

I will admit, I've always thought of it as "defriending" (as with 'deheading') rather than "unfriend"...
Malcolm Rees, Aldershot

Talking of throwing food as we were, this article on the five-second rule really needed to also test the food before it was dropped on the floor to see if the germs were on it already, rather than all coming off the floor.
Ed Loach, Clacton, UK

Nominative determination alert for the name of the fish-testing laboratory in this report.
Paul Greggor, London

BBC News Website Invents Time Travel. I clicked on BBC News website this morning at 09:18 to find that it had been updated this morning at 10:11. Looking forward to the Lottery results!
Pete, Warrington

Paper Monitor

14:52 UK time, Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Easter break is over. People are back at work. Well, some people anyway.

For those that are, the Daily Mail seems to have taken it upon itself to cheer up commuters.

"If you're reading this on the train, prepare yourself for a shock. There's a good chance you're one of the most annoying people in the carriage," it says.

The story? Eight in 10 of us drive our fellow passengers up the wall, it reports. The most infuriating habits? Playing loud, thumping music through headphones, pushing past people on to a carriage and putting shoes on seats.

Meanwhile, just shy of one in three of us regularly fall asleep and snore, while a fifth of us try to peer over people's shoulders to read their newspapers, it goes on.

If the commute hasn't put people's nose out of joints, the paper brings news of another thing that might.

Almost two-thirds of us hate cold callers who address customers by their first name and start conversations with "hi", it says.

Three in 10 of us are fed up with strangers - from cold-callers to coffee shop workers - treating us like friends, it reports. Far better to use Mr, Mrs, Miss, it advises.

Well, what a jolly lot the Daily Mail seems to think we are today. Paper Monitor is glad being, ahem, late didn't feature.

Your Letters

15:53 UK time, Monday, 1 April 2013

I knew what date it was. I was fully prepared. Managed to see through everything thrown at me by press and family but woefully failed in the end. Anything relating to EU directives seemed so believable I totally fell into each and very April trap.
Peter, Pershore, Worcs

The Evening Standard described the security for The Boat Race as "watertight". Wouldn't that spoil the event?
MCK, Stevenage

I think I just became addicted to Googlewhacking. Took me a while, but I found only one result for "linguaphile barabbas".
Liberty, London England

Regarding leaving Nigeria out of the BRICS in order to make the acronym better - was BRINC thought to be too ominous?
Jenna, Bath

Ah, but Basil (Friday's letters), a triangular flapjack can also be broken into two smaller triangles. So a rectangular one is no worse, in this respect.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Basil (Friday's letters). I doubt if the children throw food they could learn how to make two triangles from a rectangle.
Ed Loach, Clacton, UK

Paper Monitor

12:18 UK time, Monday, 1 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"What REALLY goes on inside Liz Jones's brain"

The lack of question mark on that Daily Mail headline might indicate that this is a rhetorical question and there is no need to try and answer.

But that's never stopped confessional columnist extraordinaire Liz Jones before, and why would she break the habit of a lifetime?

For today's typically soul-baring piece, she tries neurofeedback, a therapy pioneered by Nasa in the 1960s that claims to manipulate brainwaves to alter mindsets. She gets the nub of her problems by the second paragraph:

My main 'issue' is that even when I should be happy - such as when I first lived in my London Georgian townhouse, had a husband and things were going swimmingly - I seem incapable of feeling that emotion. I never feel good about myself and am paralysed by fear.

So she's hooked up to a brainwave-reading machine via a swimming cap-like hat bristling with electrodes. (Jones is not pictured in said hat - although there are several photos in the Mail Online version - and instead is snapped in Middleton-esque amounts of eyeliner, accessorised with a trio of electrodes attached to her forehead.)

Her brain scan, the therapist says, indicates depression and not just fear but post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Hmm," she says. "I can also tell you cling on to bad memories. You don't let go." Most tellingly, Catherine can see the area of the brain that is linked to self- esteem has a score of minus two, meaning I have a low opinion of myself.

She also has a tendency towards obsessive compulsive disorder, which may not come as a surprise to many of her readers, who have been regaled with tales of sheet thread count and of her ex-husband's slovenliness.

While Jones is more than happy to be given brain exercises to tone up her emotional "bingo wings", as she calls them, this is one part of her brain she likes just the way it is.

"Please don't make me untidy," I plead.

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