Weekendish: Indian cars, Teletext and bidets
- 11 July 2014
A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.
Made in India
Henry Ford is said to have said of his Model T car: "You can have any colour, as long as it's black". For a long time, motorists in India had a similar, narrow choice - any car, as long as it's an Ambassador. Now production is halting on the car which once dominated the sub-continent. Is Indian auto-journalist Hormazd Sorabjee sad to see it go? Not a bit of it. "The Ambassador was a symbol of all that was wrong with India's controlled economy," he writes. Since 1957 it had barely been upgraded. Sorabjee's last trip in one was a couple of years ago: "The ride on those cart-like rear leaf springs felt rudimentary, the differential whined like a spoilt child and the legroom didn't feel great either." Sanya has fonder memories: "Aw. RIP Ambassador," she tweets. "I drove this one for 10 days in 2009 from Goa - Kerala, through Tamil Nadu." Jodie tweets that she has "very fond memories of journeys through Kolkata in these iconic cars". Motoring TV presenter Paul Woodford says: "Is it just me who now quite fancies having a go in one? Ambassador single make #rally series anyone?"
I'll be your mirror
AL Kennedy argues that the British have much to gain from seeing themselves as other see them. "Possibly, if we behaved more like a healthy, outgoing individual as a nation and took account of others' opinions of us then we might get more help, feel more part of the world community and be more lucky, make those chance connections that can change our lives, move outside the rigid habits and assumptions that reassure but also trap us," she writes. She suggests that David Cameron might go down better Brussels he and George Osborne turned up together and "just hit each other with fish". Intriguing. Timo Peach tweets: "Thought provoking; can you give a nation a wake-up call?" "Nothing wrong with some healthy introspection," adds Larry Brangwyn.
Bidet - or "small horse" in French
This cat is dozing in a bidet. If you've never used one, you can't appreciate its sublime daily convenience, writes Dany Mitzman from Bologna. They were invented by the French - bidet originally meant "a small horse", "a nag" in French - but have become a symbol of Italian hygiene supremacy. Building laws ensure that every home has one. "I'm tickled by the horror [Italians] experience over improper use of the bidet by foreigners," writes Mitzman. We asked readers what they did when they stayed somewhere with a bidet. The results are shown below. But, even better, on Tuesday 15 July, we will publish a selection of readers' revelations regarding their bidet use. Hint: Christmas turkey.
Roots Faversham tweets: "We have the modern version on display, it's called a shower toilet." ViewFromItaly adds: "How the British can go without a bidet, I dont know!"
A dog's life
This dog is emptying the washing machine. It's an assistance dog and helping out around the house means it gets to wear a purple bib. Red bibs are reserved for the medical detection dogs that can detect when diabetics' blood sugar levels are low wears a red one. Training for each role is long and complex, and it's not unusual for dogs to have a bib swap, or "career change". Which dogs get the white harness with fluorescent strips? Find out in Kathleen Hawkins' guide.
Is there a statistician in the house?
There are three types of people in the world, or so the joke goes. Those who understand maths and those who don't. Worryingly, the latter group contains a substantial number of doctors, according to statistician Gerd Gigerenzer. "It's not a problem of the medical mind," he told the Magazine this week. "It's a problem of training at the universities, in the medical departments where young doctors are trained in everything except statistical thinking." Gigerenzer worries that when medics misunderstand the statistical risks of treatment, they will revert to what he calls defensive medicine, "where they protect themselves against you as a patient". Rosie Campbell tweets: "Statistics are weird. Probability is so unintuitive that even highly trained people often misinterpret results."
A plus-size problem?
Warnings that children alive today will die younger than their parents are heard with increased frequency. The prediction has been popularised by Michelle Obama and Jamie Oliver and there is some scholarly research to back it up. There is another school of thought among researchers, however, that being fatter may actually lengthen rather than shorten life - but while obese people may live longer, their quality of life may be low. Shyama Perera tweets: "Obesity is not good or bad but a matter of statistics." "Interesting data and perspectives on obesity trends," adds Nick Chiarelli.
Teletext, a British invention from the 1970s phased out in the UK in 2012, remains popular in much of Europe. Berlin's International Teletext Art Festival showcases the work of artists who have repurposed the medium to create striking images. Some of the artworks include lucky fortune cats, Mozart and The A-Team's Mr-T. "There's an actual festival celebrating Teletext... a whole festival. Brilliant!" says Des Henderson. Meanwhile, Dave Stow tweets: "God I so miss BBC Micro mode 7."
Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:
Ghosts of Greenwood - ProPublica
Queen's Tragic Rhapsody - Rolling Stone
Everest's Deadliest Season - Outside
The Mystery of the Vanishing Screwball - New York Times
Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.