The Loop: Envelopes, new words and a moral quandary

  • 14 June 2013

Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.

If nothing else has been achieved this week, at least we reach the end knowing what skeuomorphism is.

If by some accident you're playing catch-up, a skeuomorph is, according to the OED, an "object or feature copying the design of a similar artefact in another material". In the context we're talking about, it's about using icons of envelopes to signify email or using leather effects to symbolise computer notepads. Or, actually, using words like "notepads". We had lots of fascinating information about it this week, following Apple's announcement that it was generally going to stop having it.

But discovering what, to many, is a new word is always satisfying. The folk at the Puffin Books office even made it their "word of the day" after reading our article. What an excellent office tradition that is. Coming next week in the Magazine Monitor, a word of the day for every office.

Jessica Evershed makes a confession, though, tweeting: "I am staunchly pretending that I knew this word before today. Honestly..." Lisa Payne says the article "reminds me of when I mime signing a cheque when I request a bill".

Craig Fairnington says, "My favourite example of skeuomorphism is rivets in jeans, it hadn't occurred to me they're largely useless." On the BBC News Magazine Facebook page Paul Chapman poses a tricky question if Apple is to be as good as its word: "What will Apple's icon be? Surely it can't stay as an apple?"

But at least Hayley McCool Smith is happy. "Fab BBC Magazine article. They make even the most mundane fascinating," she tweets. Our pleasure. Having a Monitor means it's a subject close to our heart.

There was some discussion at the Magazine this week about whether we should describe Matthaeus Schwarz, the 16th Century accountant who painstakingly documented all his clothes for 40 years, as the first fashion blogger. Which would have been kind of skeuomorphic of us if we had decided to, but in the end we didn't. Edwin Anthony did, however, wonder on Facebook: "Wonder how many 'likes' he got for that."

On Tuesday we brought you Paula Dear's tale of her moral quandary when, while travelling in South America, having to decide whether to eat guinea pig. "I considered Jet, the tufty black guinea pig who was my first pet," she wrote. "He was forever getting lost and his antics were the subject of a story written by eight-year-old me, which won a local writing competition. That he died in the care of friends while we were on holiday - overwhelmed by the car fumes in their garage - was one of those dramatic childhood turning points that I never really got over. Could I move on?"

Reader, she ate him (or at least one of his distant relations).

Kenn Banks writes on Facebook: "Growing up in Anguilla, I had eaten guinea pig as a child and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was in the UK some time ago and was invited to the home of colleague whose five-year-old daughter became very attached to me. That was until I saw her pet guinea pig and let it slip that I had eaten guinea pig some years ago and enjoyed it. From them on she became very distant but always made sure that she stood between me and her precious pets."

Ah, the difficulties of pets. Take dogs, for instance. Here are some thoughts about dogs exercising the minds of Magazine readers following our eight radical solutions to dog mess.

Not least, following the explosive revelations about the distances cats walk from home in the Secret Lives of Cats interactive, comes this from Heather Jeram on our Facebook page:

"Most responsible dog owners do clean up after their pet. However cat owners don't! We allow cats to roam freely without any comeback on their owners when cats use other peoples' gardens, veg plots and flower beds as their litter trays. Where are the rules against cat poo?" Sandra Lama counters: "My cats always have litter. They come in from outside to use it. I do not like to think of my cats soiling in other people's gardens."

Charlie Hindmarch takes issue with Keep Britain Tidy's Helen Bingham, who says in our article that people remember dog poo in the 1970s and 80s turning white "because it stayed there for so long". Not so, he says. "I think she will find that dog poo turns white because of increased calcium in the feed - animals are fed differently now (because of CJD/BSE) and bones/bonemeal are no longer given to dogs."

Verbatim

And now from our attention-to-detail corner, we bring you this email from David in Romford.

"This story refers to 'five-year anniversary'. Tell me please, BBC, what units, other than years, are anniversaries measured in? I suppose we can at least be grateful that five-year is hyphenated, but I should like to draw the existence of the word fifth to the attention of the article's writer."

Attention is drawn.

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