BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 3, 2006 - December 9, 2006

10 things we didn't know last week

16:24 UK time, Friday, 8 December 2006


Snippets harvested from the week's news, chopped diced and sliced for easy consumption.

1. There are 32 billionaires based in the UK who pay no personal tax here.

2. The space programme in the UK relies upon Indian and Chinese graduates to provide 80% of the scientific staff, MPs were told. More details

3. Stripping is, officially, an art form (in Norway at least). More details

4. Urban birds have developed a short, fast "rap style" of singing, different from their rural counterparts. More details

5. Left-handed people are better at computer games. More details

6. Bristol is the least anti-social place in England, says the National Audit Office. More details

7. It's only 62 years since the last person was prosecuted for witchcraft in the UK. More details

8. Standard-sized condoms are too big for most Indian men. More details

9. King Tutankhamun probably died from a broken leg, rather than being murdered with a blow to the head, say scientists.

10. The London tornado was one of 40 to hit the UK this year. More details

(Sources, where stories not linked - 1. Sunday Times, 3 December; 9. National Geographic, 1 December.

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Alan Chesterman for the picture of 10 berries.

Your Letters

16:12 UK time, Friday, 8 December 2006

Elliot from Kingston fears that in setting up a base on the Moon, this "fragile satellite" might be damaged with terrible consequences for the earth itself. Perhaps he could give us an example of the kind of "construction accident" envisaged that might damage the "fragile" two-thousand-mile across, 81,000,000,000,000,000,000 ton satellite more than the huge meteorites which have slammed into it in the past, whose impacts we can still see scattered across its surface -- several of which would, if they have occurred on the surface of the earth, have caused the extinction of all life on the planet with one blow?
Steven, Cambridge

Re Rich's comment... the idea that paper monitor is male, as London commuters would surely offer a woman a seat. I wish - I'm female and use a stick, and still don't get offered a seat. What else should I do to make myself deserving of a seat?
Emma, London, UK

It's a nice thought, Rich, but no, we lady commuters are forced to stand on the Tube - and in 4ins heels - by the desperately unchivalrous males who boarded the train before us. Paper Monitor's gender still quite the enigma.
Kass, Chelsea

Interesting to see the difference in coverage between the tornado that hit a Welsh village a couple of weeks ago and the one that hit a street in London here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. As usual, if something happens outside the M25 it's a quirky news story but if exactly the same thing happens in London it is deemed, for some reason, a major national event.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Re the tornado story. Surely the wind stayed still whilst the whole world revolved around London.
MCK, Coventry

Catherine O of Maidenhead has discovered the emergency services secret. A major incident isn't defined by the number of casualties, it's defined by whether they set up a tea stall or not.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

Did anyone else read Straw trumpets workplace tinsel and immediately wonder how a straw trumpet would sound?
Rob Foreman, London, UK

Re: Weather threat to shuttle launch. "A British-born astronaut, Nicholas Patrick, will fly aboard Discovery. Despite this, Nasa is pressing ahead with final preparations for the launch. "I'm glad to see that nationalism has no place in space.
Dave Slater, Kilmaurs, Scotland

Re Contents vs Building insurance,
"The rule of thumb is that if you could turn a house upside down and shake it, anything that fell out would be covered by the contents policy." Surely if you turned the house upside down and shook it, the roof would catch most of the items though?
David, UK

In the story about Condoms in India, I see that Over 1,200 volunteers from the 'length and breadth' of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre. World Class journalism!
Stoo, Lancashire, UK

Paper Monitor

12:01 UK time, Friday, 8 December 2006

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor finds itself battening down the hatches against "winter weather chaos". One ordinary-looking London home, stripped of bricks along one side to reveal its house-type innards, has the newspapers in a twist.

'Blown to bits' is the unsubtle headline on the Daily Mirror as it splashes excitedly on the "140mph tornado that scythed through a London suburb ripping off roofs, blowing over cars and sending trees flying through the air".

But as the papers blow up the pictures and puff every detail of a whirlwind in north London, it is the Daily Express we must be thankful for.

"Storms lash Britain" it says, but it adds, crucially: "Just as we warned". Forget the Met Office forecast, or good taste as 150 family homes are damaged, it was the Express what warned us of the "devastation".

The paper is clearly divided, however. With a vertical black line down the centre of the page it is torn between the twin urges of saying "we told you so" and covering a bona fide development in the Diana inquest story. On the same day. Who'd have known it?

Elsewhere any worries about London bias - the niggling idea that had the tornado happened in Aberystwyth or similar, it might have got a little less coverage - are thrown to the wind. Double-page spreads abound. There are storm facts in the Guardian, tornado graphics in the Telegraph, maps a-plenty in the tabloids. Even the cartoonists have gone big on the storm.

Besides, several papers attempt to reel in the rest of the UK by making passing mention of flood waters in Shropshire, York and Wales, big waves in Blackpool and stricken tankers off the coast.

So how did the residents cope? Diving for cover seems to be the best defence tactic, at least among the freelance writers unlucky, but financially fortunate, enough, to witness it first hand. In the Guardian, they "dived under my desk and started screaming hysterically". In the Times they scrambled under the bed. Brave stuff.

With the horizon clearer, there are two aspects to ponder. Will the Guardian pronouncing Kensal Rise "fashionable" raise house prices? And, what more is to come? After all, the Express warns us, there is more on the way.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:58 UK time, Friday, 8 December 2006

Yesterday's quiz asked who said they would do "just about anything for a million quid"? Only 29% of readers guessed correctly that it was Lily Allen who said she would sleep with David Beckham for the money. While 59% went for Jade Goody. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine page.

Your Letters

16:13 UK time, Thursday, 7 December 2006

Re: Do flat-screen TVs eat more energy? You could take the angst out of owning a television simply by not having one. I have not had a television for over twenty years and don't miss it at all. I still listen to the radio, though. How much power does my radio consume? 4 watts!
Nick Cooper, Birmingham

Beam me up Scotty, there is no intelligent life whatsoever down here! Ok so we have loads of the personal gadgets. But the one I miss and was bitterly disappointed in not getting or having yet,was the personal rocket pack.I was assured by my teacher in primary school ,that by the time I would be doing my Leaving cert[A levels] I would have one.The lying Sod!! :0
Sean, Limerick Ireland

I loved the picture of the emergency tea stall at the scene of today's tornado, it's just so thoroughly British.
Catherine O, Maidenhead, UK

Re: From sci-fi to sci-fact. For Robots: "housework is still proving something of a blind spot." Thus proving robots' superior intellect.
David Bull, Redhill, UK

Jel - isn't it Llanddewi Brefi - there is no V in Welsh - or perhaps you were proving the point that you can't write it.
Mo, Frome

By googling Pete Burns, Carol of Portugal has no doubt made him the most- searched-for person on that search engine as well now.Is he worth it?
Sarah, Trieste, Italy

Read an interesting Czech headline over an old lady's shoulder today - Konspiracni teorie something-or-other Diana. Looks like it's not just the Express then.
Alex, Prague, CR

Aha! Paper Monitor is male. Surely the polite commuters of London would have given up their seat for a lady.
Rich, Whiteley, UK

Paper Monitor

10:43 UK time, Thursday, 7 December 2006

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

No seat on the Tube for Paper Monitor this morning, so here's a round-up of headlines glimpsed over people's shoulders. Perhaps, all together, they might add up to a story in their own right?





THE FOOL MONTY - Daily Mirror




APOCALYPSE NOW - the Independent

But what does it all mean???

Meanwhile, on to the next exciting instalment in the "CC" adultery mystery the papers have been covering with such enthusiasm... hmmm... nothing in the Times, the Telegraph, the Mail...

Paper Monitor has just reread that sentence. That can't be right. When has the Mail ever decided it's said all that it has to say on an issue of such burning interest? Can it be that the paper has run out of broad clues to drop from the man in question's Wikipedia profile?

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:14 UK time, Thursday, 7 December 2006

Fooled ya! Yesterday's Mag Mini-Quiz asked who, after Heather Mills-McCartney, is the most searched for person on Yahoo! by British web users? The answer: Pete Burns - one that only 12% of respondents got right. Most opted for Britney Spears. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine homepage.

Your Letters

16:17 UK time, Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Re: Man ordered to lose 24 stone or die. It's mildly concerning to see a link to a story about the same boy three years ago, who had gone from 33 to 25 stone through NHS-sponsored attendance at a "fat farm". Although he sounds very sincere and enthusiastic in both articles, one cannot help but be a bit disheartened by the fact that in the intervening three years he managed to gain a whopping 16 stone. Is his use of the celebrity personal trainer also state-sponsored, do we know?
Sally, London

Re: David Tennant named 'best Dr Who'. As the accompanying survey names Tom Baker as the best Doctor Who with 43% of 7000 votes, doesn't this rather make David Tennant's victory, earned with 28% of 4000 votes, a little redundant?
Rob, Sheffield, UK

How to say - etc. After due consideration, I now know why the French take the mickey out of the English accent - we believe everything can be pronounced in RP, as this column attempts to suggest. There are, however, a number of phonetic alphabets which considerably extend the diphthong limitations of the basic alphabet, and it's crazy not to use such techniques. The existing system can't even cope with one of our own statutory languages, Welsh. I just can't see how you can possibly write the name of Llanddewi Brevi or Pwllheli
Jel, Swansea

Thank you, Magazine, for wasting five minutes of my precious time, spent googling Pete Burns. I had never heard of him and still wish I hadn't.
Carol, Portugal

"Mr Marr proposes that he should be buried alongside a copy of Jarvis Cocker's latest CD." There's two birds with one stone.
Charles Windsor, Sandringham, Norfolk

NB: No, Tuesday is not the new Thursday. It was a one-off. Honest.


15:15 UK time, Wednesday, 6 December 2006



This week’s challenge was to find a punning headline for the seasonal tale in which the organisers of a village Christmas party in the Yorkshire Dales had to carry out a risk assessment on the mince pies, or face the cancellation of the party.

It was a festive bonanza. Clearly Christmas is an inspirational time of year for you all when it comes to punning.

As usual there were some firm favourites, Who rates all the pies? being one. It was sent in by Kieran Boyle, Catriona Smith and John Coulthard. Variations include Who hates all the pies? from Martin. There was also Health & Pastry from Helene Parry and Health and Pastry Gone Mad from Gareth.

Getting festive were Mike Monk with Elf & Safety, Mike with Council impose Santa clauses (for Elf and Safety), Nigel Macarthur with Pass Me The Yule Book and Kip with Yule be sorry!

Taking inspiration from the pie itself were Steven Gray with Pied Up in Red Tape!, Dan with The End is Pie, Michael Tansini with Live and Let Pie? , Dorothy with The pie's the limit and Martin Price with Crust obeying orders.

Some chose the filling to build a pun around. There was Mince sauce from Maggie, Mince management from Brian Gunn and Mince Lies from Speed.

But the gold star this week goes to Sarah Trieste for Give pies a chance. It has it all. Bravo.

Paper Monitor

12:13 UK time, Wednesday, 6 December 2006

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It’s Christmas, in case anyone hadn’t noticed. And the Sun pitches in with a story from its own “Christmas correspondent” about the threat to traditional Christmas symbols.

In the great tabloid panto, the villain is Political Correctness and the Petty Bureaucrats, with the paper warning that decorations, Santas and mince pies are all under threat.

But the Sun also reveals another kind of threat, by explaining what Manchester United players are doing when they go down on one knee to celebrate a goal. They’re imitating the firing of rocket launchers in a computer game. Nice.

Political commentator Andrew Marr’s musical tastes are also revealed. Writing in his Daily Telegraph column, Mr Marr proposes that he should be buried alongside a copy of Jarvis Cocker’s latest CD.

But still determined to remain unrevealed is the continuing mystery story of the sports celebrity known as CC who has gone to court to prevent the story of his affair being made public.

This is going to run and run. And after the opening shots yesterday, the Daily Mail brings out the bigger artillery on Wednesday, with a two-page spread profiling the celebrity, “cheating wife” and “aggrieved husband”.

Of course, none of them are named – but the Mail quotes a lawyer as saying “Talk about locking the stable after the horse has bolted”.

It has all the makings of a Christmas whodunnit.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:06 UK time, Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked how old George Clooney's recently deceased Vietnamese pot-bellied pig was? The correct answer, 18, was identified by 62% of readers. The current Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.

How to say: Pinochet

14:31 UK time, Tuesday, 5 December 2006


A weekly guide to the words and names in the news from Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

"This week, the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was hospitalised following a heart attack. Our anglicised recommendation for his full name is ow-GOOS-toh PIN-uh-shay oo-GAR-tay. The decision to recommend the anglicised pronunciation was made on the basis that the name has appeared in the news over many years. PIN-uh-shay (sometimes also PEE-nuh-shay or PEE-noh-shay) appears to be the most usual pronunciation of this name in Britain.

"There is some variation in the Spanish pronunciation of this name among Chileans. As a half-Chilean, I have, over the years, heard the name pronounced by Chileans in the UK and in Chile, including the Chilean media. Perhaps the most common Chilean pronunciations of Pinochet are peen-otch-AY and peen-otch-ETT (the actual vowel sound in the former is a monophthong in Spanish. The consonant sound at the end of the latter is often inaudible to a native-English ear). Less commonly, it is pronounced pee-nosh-AY, perhaps out of a belief that it should be pronounced in a French way. It is worth noting that the pronunciation of orthographic 'ch' in Spanish varies considerably among Chileans: in some speakers the sound is close to 'tch' in church, while others pronounce it as 'sh' in 'shirt'. On the whole, however, Chilean learners of English tend to struggle with the pronunciation of English 'ch' as in church."

(For a guide to our phonetic pronunciations, click here.)

Paper Monitor

13:05 UK time, Tuesday, 5 December 2006

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The craze for pixellating faces goes a step further in the Guardian, with the polonium-hunting police team travelling to Moscow having their faces disguised in a photo of the detectives at the airport. Is this going to be a new feature of crime reporting?

Being the Guardian, it’s not a standard blur, it’s a rather artistic mosaic-style form of disguise. But if you have the necessary technical equipment - such as eyes that can be screwed - you can still see their faces quite clearly.

But it still manages to make it look as though the police have stumbled into a crime scene painted by Impressionists.

In a celeb-fuelled world where everything is on show and for sale, what room is there for privacy? Such matters have been exercising the judges, with the strange case of the celebrity known as CC - not his real initials - who has gone to court to keep his affair a private matter.

It’s a curiously old-fashioned tale of dalliances in English hotels and threatened reputations. And The Times illustrates the story with a moody, 1940s black and white photograph.

Meanwhile the Independent highlights a story that we’re going to hear more about, Disney’s planned adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. This tweedy classic is going to get a 21st Century makeover.

Forget Anne, Dick, Julian and George (yes, Timmy the dog made it five, duh) - now we’ve got Cole, Dylan, Jo and Allie. No word so far of Aunt Fanny or Uncle Quentin, but Paper Monitor fears the worst.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:02 UK time, Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked how many people call directory inquiries firms using 118 numbers each year? Three quarters of people used to use the old services. The correct answer, 40%, was identified by an impressive 73% of readers. The current Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

16:06 UK time, Monday, 4 December 2006

Regarding the Santa bodyguard story. Shouldn't the security guard be dressed as an elf.
Stoo, Lancashire, UK

Very clever BBC, telling us that the area of newly protected rainforest is the size of England. I now have to lookup my England to Wales conversion chart to see how big this actually is. Maybe if I started by converting it to football pitches that would easier.
Kev Guthrie, Sheffield

Those memory pills are just great! Now, if only I could remember where I left the bottle...
David, London

Re: Singer Pete Doherty being fined for five counts of possessing drugs. This isn't news. "Celebrity drug user Pete Doherty to release record" - that would at least be unexpected.
Robin, Edinburgh

I smell sexism. This article on the new Michael Collins whiskey managed a gratuitous mention of Liam Neeson, but no photograph. If the subject had been a woman I'm sure there would have been an unnecessary picture as well.
Caroline Mersey, Belfast, UK

So Jerry from London... if I got your answer right, what do I get for it?
11 lions and 1 rhino = no rhino (it's eaten) so 11x4 = 44 (add the numbers) = 8
Number of vowels in 'kinetic' = 3
2 taxis and a bicycle
2x4 + 2 = 10... 0's a number, so if you had 'two' numbers, it's 2 total
(99-19)x3 = 240 (so same for the '0' above), add and get 7
And we have 8327...
Wotcha say?
Nima, MD, USA

Does anyone else think Paper Monitor is toying with us now with regards to his/her gender? The reference to the lingerie story on the front of the Telegraph would seem like a blatent clue, until you also consider the various possibilities of differing sexuality, or that PM may just be in the market for a bra.
James, Edinburgh, UK

Paper Monitor

12:33 UK time, Monday, 4 December 2006

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

A quick and dirty round-up today - Paper Monitor is a little sleepy after a weekend of nocturnal activity and is in need of a beauty sleep (because of the c.r.i.c.k.e.t sillies. Who do you think Paper Monitor hangs out with, Britney Spears?)

The Daily Telegraph, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways...

The paper devotes page three to deconstructing how the Queen's english has gradually grown less upper class, with phonetically written transcripts of her Christmas speeches through the ages.

1952: "I em speaking to you from my own hame, where I em spending Christmas with my femly"

1962: "A merry Christmas and a happay New Yeah"

2005: "I hope you will have a very happee Christmas this year and thet you go into the New Year wih renewed hope and confidence"

Was that last one Janet Street Porter?

And the paper also comes up with an excuse to plaster a young filly in her bra across its front page, by way of promoting a think piece on "how famous faces sell lingerie". Funny. Paper Monitor hadn't noticed the face.

But what's this? The world has just shifted on its axis. It is Monday right? How come the blonde on the front page of the Daily Express is Renee Zellweger? Wait... panic over, who's that on page 14... blonde, wavy hair, downcast gaze... oh. It's a Christmas fairy atop NTL's tree.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:00 UK time, Monday, 4 December 2006

Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz asked for the minimum age for a US president. The correct answer, 35, was identified by 43% of readers. The current Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.

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