BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for July 1, 2007 - July 7, 2007

10 things we didn't know last week

17:23 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2007

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

1. Piranhas aren't as deadly as you probably think.
More details

2. Tony Blair proposed to Cherie while she was cleaning a loo.
More details

3. Three-quarters of Britons snore.
More details

4. Pollution kills 750,000 people in China every year.

5. Chocolate lowers blood pressure.
More details

6. Yawning keeps you alert.
More details

7. A controlled explosion involves destroying the initiating circuit - usually a mobile phone - and detonator, leaving the main explosive device intact.
More details

8. Noise levels for the young have trebled since the 1980s, as dance clubs have become ubiquitous.
More details

9. Of the 800 Britons registered as living in the Niger Delta, 33 have been kidnapped in the past year.

10. Women are no more talkative than men, but use more personal pronouns - "he", "she" and "I" - while the male of the species talks more about things, so use "a", "an" and "the" more.

(Sources, where not linked: 4. Daily Telegraph, 4 July. 9. BBC 10 O'Clock News, 5 July. 10. Times, 6 July.)

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Louise Dade for this week's picture of 10 spelt out in 10 Lego blocks).

Your Letters

16:11 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2007

I can't believe I got there first. Enjoy the Friends of the Magazine Facebook group.
Andy, London

There is a Facebook group all for you - BBC Magazine Monitor Appreciation... because what the Monitor wants, the Monitor gets.
Rosie K, Sheffield, UK

Does "Record TV quiz phone-in fine" count as an all-noun headline or is some pedant going to say that phone-in isn't a real noun?
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne

"Dinosaur bones" are fossils and are therefore made not of bone but of stone. So can someone explain to me how the Chinese are able to make soup out of them?
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Thanks a bunch for reminding me of Mr Noseybonk, Paper Monitor. As long as I can stop myself from thinking about Timothy Claypole then my childhood nightmares won't return... aargh, too late!
Steph, Toronto

Re the Jade Goody mini-quiz. Almost 80% of Magazine readers got it wrong. I'm proud of you guys. Who cares, anyway?
Caroline Brown, Rochester, UK

I eat crisp sandwiches. I'm guessing they didn't research those.
Vicky Stiles, St Annes-on-sea, UK

Caption competition results

13:33 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2007

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It's time for the winning entries in the caption contest.

This week it's actor Rupert Grint - aka trainee wizard Ron Weasley - at the UK premier of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. He's in there somewhere, honest.

6. Sue Lee
"Mmwammng... when I ..oofff ... said...mwwwmwmmff... that I'd.. nng... show you.... hwwmmff... my magic.... wand..."

5. Martin Scolding
Harry Potter gets a shock when emerging on the other side of Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

4. Sarah, Trieste, Italy
"NOW I believe in magic!"

3. Simon Rooke
If Carlsberg did paparazzi...

2. Mark Esdale
End of term at Pitmans' Secretarial College.

1. Sean Smith
Gordon Brown's trip to the image consultant seems to be paying off.

Magic. Thanks to all who entered.

Paper Monitor

10:57 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today is 6 July. That means tomorrow is 7 July. Or put another way 07/07/07. This is very exciting, and here's why.

"Modern man long ago forgot why seven has always been so blessed," says the Daily Mail. "So what date could be more special than 7/07/07, except perhaps the seventh of July 1977?"

Or, conceivably, the seventh of July 7777, but that admittedly is quite a long time to wait.

But the paper goes on: "There are seven seas, seven virtues, Seven Wonders of the World. Seven colours of the rainbow... the seven days of creation, the seven deadly sins, the blessing of the seventh day..." somehow missing out on mentioning the internet's most popular and excellent news-based quiz.

Other sevens not mentioned: a report saying shop-bought sandwiches are seven times saltier than crisps, and interest rates going up to 5.75% (which is nearly seven). The paper does, at least, have the decency to point out why 7 July has a particular significance outside pointless numerology-based articles.

It's a series which will run and run, though. Why, it was only the sixth of the sixth in 06 that the Daily Mirror wrote a piece entitled 6.6.6. DAY OF THE DEVIL. And only the fifth of the fifth in 2005 when the Express wrote a piece Ten things you never knew about the number five. Paper Monitor's note to self: story idea for August next year, and September the year after.

Meanwhile, Paper Monitor has some interesting Facebook groups to monitor, including I'm Still Terrified of Mr Noseybonk. Odd, isn't it, that no-one has yet formed a Facebook group for Friends of the Magazine? Unlike some in the media, self-respect prevents one setting it up oneself, but of course should the people speak one will only be too happy for one's name to go forward.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:58 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2007

On Thursday we asked you how long it was between reality TV legend Jade Goody passing her driving test and getting a six month ban. A mere 21% got the correct answer of two weeks.

Your Letters

15:55 UK time, Thursday, 5 July 2007

Reading about the lady who came second in the cake competition even though she was the only entrant leads me to wonder whether Gordon Brown actually won the recent Labour leadership contest. Should we ask for a recount?
Rory, Sutton Coldfield UK

How many times did you all yawn when reading "why do we yawn" article? I cooled my brain 8 times!
Amir, Redhill. Surrey

Is it me or does the study described in the article "Sandwiches 'rival crisps on salt'" simply conclude that if you make sandwiches with salty fillings then they'll contain a lot of salt?
Spike, Canberra, Australia

Enjoyed today's Paper Monitor immensely, but feel certain that rather than being a study of the weather, "Metrology" is in fact a study of free daily newspapers for commuters. A Freudian slip, perhaps?
Nick Jones, Dorking

Given private equity's reputation for secrecy can we look forward to one less socialite in the gossip columns now Blackstone has taken over Hilton?
Mark, Berlin

Questions for the smokers left out there? How are you coping with the ban? I find myself walking the streets of West London just to find a bin to put out a fag. Can we start a petition for ashtrays in the city centre?
A, London, UK

What, no Doctor Who news story today?!
Basil Long, Newark Notts

Paper Monitor

10:59 UK time, Thursday, 5 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is feeling rather chastened after making light of the Daily Express' prediction last Monday that Britain was expecting its wettest day for 50 years, only for just such a thing to happen.

So, all snorts of derision should be silenced when the Express asks, as it does today, "will the sun ever come out?"

"We asked Britain's scientists, psychics and mavericks [by insinuation, there's nothing maverick about psychics in the Daily Express universe] to predict just what the next 10 weeks have in store."

No time to run through each, so, here's the potted conclusion: it's going to be a rainy but dry but wet but very wet but warmer August heatwave with sun in September but beware August 12.

So that is that (as a certain former prime minister might say). Hold on, beware August 12 - what's that all about? Express regulars may detect the hand of resident astrologer Justin Toper behind such bizarre cautionary advice, and they'd be right.

But Toper's forecast seems to be cloaked in something more scientific than star gazing. "Britain's top astrologer" begins by linking occurrences in the solar system with the weather on Earth. Sun spots, for example.

As the primary source of energy to the earth and, by a long chalk, the biggest nuclear reactor in our solar system, the sun's role in delivering us a hot summer is pretty conclusive. But before you know it, Toper is ascribing rather more dubious qualities to it and other stars and planets out there.

"The sun," we are told, "is currently situated in Cancer, another water sign, and we're experiencing those effects now".

As for 12 August. Toper's Law of Metrology goes like this: The date is a new moon, when the sun (warmth) is overshadowed by Neptune (wet connections). That's it.

Weather be damned… there's only one sun that Paper Monitor deigns to orbit in its universe: The Sun. Its lead today - Scotland Yard's refusal to fly the Union Flag. Its headline: "Cop Out". Its proof that flying the flag has no racist or nationalistic connotations: pictures on the inside pages of women in headscarves and Muslim men happily brandishing the flag.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:24 UK time, Thursday, 5 July 2007

In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked you to identify a picture of the world's new richest man, Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim Helu. And more than half (50.2%) of you were right. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

14:57 UK time, Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Maisy (Tuesday's letters), as I recall from childhood, the simple yet understated answer of "nearly" will satisfy most questions up until the child asks "where do babies come from?"
Basil Long, Newark, Notts

Has anyone read this without yawning?
Vincent, Worthing

Sorry Graham from Poole (Tuesday's letters) re: "If I was..." v "If I were pedantic". "Were" should only be used when an "if clause" states a situation that is untrue, impossible, or highly unlikely e.g. "If I were you", because I couldn't possibly be you, but "If I was pedantic" because I could be. And it seems I am.
Matthew, Wilmslow, UK

Punorama results: Can't Get Who Out Of My Head was used by The Sun before yesterday's competition even started. I'm surprised more people didn't submit it...
Ed, Clacton, UK

Non-scary headlines, pt. 45,230: "Gadgets threaten energy savings". Though it's slightly alarming that gadgets are now in a position to threaten us, the energy savings they're proposing don't sound worrying at all.
Edward Green, London, UK

Re Paper Monitor's comments on the Guardian TV review of Springwatch. Haven't you looked outside recently? It's much too wet to woo.
Jel, Swansea

Punorama Results

12:42 UK time, Wednesday, 4 July 2007

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It's time for punorama results again.

We gave you a story making the headlines and you provided the puns.

This week it was news that Kylie Minogue is set for a mystery starring role in a Doctor Who hour-long Christmas special.

She will team up with the Doctor, David tennant, for an episode titled Voyage Of The Damned.

So, how did you do? It was one of those weeks when you were all thinking along the same lines, but it doesn't matter because they were all good.

There were a few extremely popular themes. Especially for Who flooded our comments box. It was sent in by Alex Fortune,Gareth Jones, Isle of Anglesey, Craig Wall, Chris in Witney, Violette, William Dewé, Nick, John, Anne and Rhys.

Next most popular was I Can't Get Who Out Of My Head and was sent in by Jay, Meagan Crump, S Murray, Stella and Tim Knott.

Honourable mention to Pip and Simon for Who should be so lucky and Adam T in London for Doctor Woo! It really tickled us for some reason.

But, bow down to the greatness that is I should be Who's lackey. James, you should feel very proud of yourself. Ten gold stars.

Paper Monitor

11:28 UK time, Wednesday, 4 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If Paper Monitor didn't already love BBC Four's The Thick of It, then the searingly accurate description of the Independent in last night's special would do it in an instant.

After the prime minister unexpectedly resigns six months early, the Daily Mail's night news editor is desperate to fill the front page with something - anything - concrete about who his successor would be.

"Well what's the news? Just tell me the news and I'll put it on the front page. It's not like we're the Independent - we can't just stick a headline saying 'CRUELTY' and then stick a photo of a dolphin or a whale underneath it. I mean it's cheating, that's rubbish." (All swearing omitted, as it can’t possibly be quoted here.)

This mightily tickles the Guardian's wonderful TV reviewer, Nancy Banks Smith. "At this I began to make noises like an owl. Apparently owls don't go 'Too-wit, too-woo'. One goes 'wit' and the other goes 'woo'. They said so on Springwatch."

Sadly, the Indie has no sense of humour and singularly fails to feature a picture of a dolphin in today's edition, or the word "cruelty". Even though they had an advance copy of the show.

And speaking of The Thick of It, Paper Monitor recently almost bumped shoulders with Malcolm (Peter Capaldi) while out hunting and gathering a spot of lunch. There was a (one-sided) frisson of delight at the thought that he might - MIGHT - just let fly with a stream of inventive invective. Which of course he didn't, the actor being a very nice man indeed… who must have become accustomed to this sort of reaction.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:45 UK time, Wednesday, 4 July 2007

In Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked which landmark had not made the shortlist of 21 in a competition to find seven "new" wonders of the world. The answer, which only 17% of you got right, was the beautiful Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The most popular incorrect answer (36%) was Timbuktu. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz is on the Magazine index.

Your Letters

15:40 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2007

In the "Consumer group slate dodgy cars" article how can Which? claim "the Auris is likely to offer years of faithful service," when its only been around since February? I'm not saying that there is anything particularly good or bad about it but it seems a little unfair to compare its service history to cars that have been around years longer. It also makes me wonder what MM would drive and would it reveal his/her gender?
Phil, London

Re Richard K Leah's letter about the zero at 10 Downing Street has been crooked. It has been since day one. The offset zero features what we pedantic typographers call "diagonal stress". Altogether different, one assumes, to the rather more directionless stress that happens inside the door.
Matthew D, Bishop's Stortford, UK

Regarding one of the "Other Top Stories" listed on the news home page "BBC needs new ideas - viewers". I wouldn't have thought having viewers was a new idea, I would have thought that was fundamental.
Lee Pike, Cardiff, UK

In your "How to say: Wimbledon names", you should have mentioned Dementieva - annoyingly pronounced Dem-en-ti-ey-va (with 5 syllables) by the BBC. In Russian it's pronounced Dem-en-tye-va (4 syllables).
Chris Beard, Sutton, Surrey

Yes but what about Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Pav-LEE-uch-ENK-ov-aa? Fortunately she was knocked out in the first round (by Miss Hantuchova) but she's still in the girls draw.
Anthony, Solihull

Re Tall Tone's letter, well frankly I'm appalled. I go to all the trouble of baking delicious Gordon Brownies to welcome in our new prime minister, and all "Tall Tone" can do is write pedantic letters. I'll have him know the page for sending in 10 Things pictures clearly states you can send in a picture featuring "10 things, or the number 10 somewhere". Harrumph. By the way, there's still most of one left, if anyone wants it. (Not you, Tone.)
Paul Taylor, Manchester, UK

Tall Tone, sorry to be pedantic, but it should be "If I were pedantic", not "If I was pedantic".
Graham, Poole, Dorset

In complaining about saturation coverage of the iPhone I think Andrew Rowntree, Newcastle upon Tyne, should know that it isn't taxpayers' money, but licence payers'. A pedantic but important difference, as tax is compulsory, but owning a TV is very much not.
Matthew Burton, London, UK

Re Spike's observation, not only is this story "US man sculpts cheese presidents" an example of a fromage homage it also represents the only sensible use of American cheese I've come across so far.
A marooned cheese lover, Washington DC USA

Truths from the mouths of babes, pt 847. Looking out the window at today's yet-again grey and damp clouds, my three-year-old asked: "Is it winter?" How best to answer?
Maisy, Milton Keynes

Paper Monitor

10:46 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Day Two of the Wills and Kate carry-on, and whether or not they are an "item" once again, all bets are clearly off when it comes to News International's much vaunted ban on paparazzi shots of Miss Middleton.

The Sun prints a grainy shot of the couple enjoying candlelit cocktails at the post Princess Diana concert party, and then snaps Miss Middleton again as she arrives home after the gig.

Still on the royal stump, although moving up a generation, the Times and Telegraph roll out their medical briefing/notebook respectively to pore over the Countess of Wessex's news that she is pregnant at 42, having already suffered an ectopic pregnancy.

Paper Monitor has long admired the Times' resident quack Dr Thomas Stuttaford's ability to opine endlessly about any story with the merest glancing medical reference.

Some months ago, Paper Monitor cast a keen eye over the subliminal messages given off by newspaper giveaways, noting the Telegraph's choice of Dr Seuss to be generally improving but not stuffy. Its current offer of bedtime story CDs – including Little Women, Heidi and The Wind in the Willows – strikes a similar chord. But it reeks a little of neglectful parenting – does the Telegraph really want children being lulled to sleep of an evening by a mechanical device rather than an attentive parent?

Final word to the Guardian, which moves on from Tesco-bashing while still managing to instil some guilt among its organically-oak-aged-balsamic audience who no doubt love the convenience of supermarket shopping but would shudder at the thought of being seen in one of Sir Terry's emporiums: "Forget Tesco: the bigger threat to small shops may be Waitrose".

Update 1543: Apologies for Paper Monitor's late publication today. You guessed it: Technical Gremlins.

Daily Mini-Quiz

09:38 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2007

In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, we asked how often a bike is stolen in England and Wales, according to the Liberal Democrats. The answer is one every five minutes, which nearly half (44%) got right. Today's DMQ is on the Magazine index.

How to say: Wimbledon names

17:31 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2007

Comments

An occasional guide to the words and names in the news from Eva Liina Asu-Garcia and Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC Pronunciation Unit

Every year, the BBC Pronunciation Unit compiles a Wimbledon guide – a pronunciation guide to the names of competing players - to aid our broadcasters.

We thought we would include some pronunciation pointers for Czech, Slovak and Russian names, since there are several competitors from these countries and their names are often tricky for non-native speakers to pronounce.

In Czech and Slovak (closely related West Slavic languages), primary stress is predictable: it falls almost invariably on the first syllable of a word. So, for instance, the Slovak tennis player Daniela Hantuchová’s name is pronounced DAN-yell-uh HAN-tuukh-ov-aa and the Czech player Iveta Benešová is IVV-ett-uh BEN-esh-ov-aa. The acute diacritic in Czech does not indicate stress; it actually indicates vowel length. Therefore, in the above surnames, the last vowel is a long but unstressed "a" sound (-aa as in "father"). It is important to retain the various diacritics in Czech and Slovak orthography as they represent a particular sound; loss of the appropriate diacritics results in incorrect pronunciations (e.g. Šafářová becomes Safarova, and is often incorrectly pronounced as saff-uh-ROH-vuh, instead of SHAFF-aar-zhov-aa, which is closer to the Czech pronunciation).

In Russian (an East Slavic language), on the other hand, stress is largely unpredictable, although there are some rules governing the stress of Russian surnames (such as following the stress of the source word, often a noun, from which the surname is derived. For example, the surname Shishkin, pronounced SHISH-kin, is derived from "shishka" (SHISH-kuh), the word for "cone").

Some of the trickier Russian names in the competition this year are Alla Kudryavtseva (AL-uh kuud-ri-AF-tsuh-vuh) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (svuht-LAA-nuh kuuz-nuht-SOH-vuh). Contrary to popular belief, Sharapova is pronounced sharr-AA-puh-vuh (-arr as in "marry"; -aa as in "father", stress on the second syllable) in Russian but since the pronunciation shuh-ruh-POH-vuh is so widespread, and Maria Sharapova herself accepts this pronunciation, it has become an established Anglicisation.

Our aim is to reflect the native pronunciation as closely as possible (eg retaining the native stress pattern) but, where an established Anglicisation has come about (as with Sharapova or Navratilova), BBC Pronunciation Unit policy is to recommend the Anglicised form.

Your Letters

17:20 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2007

Could the BBC please stop giving free advertising to the new iPhone (recent stories here, here, here, here, here and here). Just like the iPod, the iPhone will be more about fashion than performance and reliability, so could you please at least force the advertising department at apple to do their job without using taxpayers’ money to do it for them.
Andrew Rowntree, Newcastle upon Tyne

I have to agree with Nicky Stu in Saturday's letters about the Monitor getting a tad too upset about the smoking ban. And today we have another story, about the 'new social outcasts'. They're not new. Ireland, Scotland and Wales have had them a long time. We don't all live in Islington, and this is a bit tiresome when we've got on with it fine up here for over a year.
K, Edinburgh

In response to Rob H's complaint about the request for pictures of people smoking, seeing as alcohol is probably more dangerous, it's the pub part you should be complaining about and not the smoking. And Nicky Stu, I'm sure you'll be delighted to discover just exactly what people who drink in pubs actually smell like. Not pleasant, hence Scottish pubs have introduced air fresheners.
Silas, London, UK

Rob H asks whether the BBC would ask for pictures of people throwing themselves off cliffs or walking in front of buses - if they habitually fell off cliffs and walked in front of buses and were going to do so regardless of the presence of a camera, then why not let them take pictures?
Ian, Marseille, France

According to 10 things, "domestic cats can trace their descent to the middle east". Oh really? My cat can just about find her way up and down our street - I doubt whether she, or indeed any of our local and generally vacant moggies, could undertake what sounds like a programme of research into feline molecular evolution.
Steve, London

Re Fopp closing, I take it that means the vouchers I have just bought for my dad's birthday are now useless. He's gonna love me!
Hannah , Leamington Spa

Re Aine's query about why the cat was pictures with a credit card - maybe the credit card was a Goldfish one?
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

Boo! If I was pedantic enough, I would complain that this week's 10 Things photo does not show 10 things, but a thing with 10. (I wonder how many other readers peered closely to see what the items numbering ten were?) And of course there is the consideration that I would appear as other sad individuals who have nothing better to do than pick holes in others' earnest efforts at entertainment. Hmmm, a quandary indeed. Maybe just publish this pour encourager les autres?
Tall Tone, Snowless Essex

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This has been bugging me for years now. Can anyone explain why the zero at 10 Downing Street is offset and crooked. It's been like that for years. Go on take a close look.
Richard K Leah, Chesterfield England

Re the "US man sculpts cheese presidents". Does that make it a fromage homage?
Spike, Canberra, Australia

Paper Monitor

11:53 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2007

A service highlighting the daily press.

Last Monday it was the mud and sludge of Glastonbury. This week, the pictures of concert-goers enjoying themselves have a more anodyne edge – but that's what you get when you put Sir Elton John, Rod Stewart and Duran Duran on the bill.

Yup, the Princess Diana birthday concert provides a rich array of photos for Monday's papers. But there's really only one topic of conversation – Wills and Kate, are they or aren't they?

With a quest like that, Paper Monitor is donning its faded Levis and polished brogues to find out.

All the tabs carry shots of William and Kate in a single frame dancing, albeit separated by several other well-heeled, acutely bred revellers. The Mail quotes a royal source saying Miss M visited Clarence House the night before although "no-one knows for certain why…"

The Express gives a little more - not only did Kate visit Clarence House the previous night, she stayed there! "Kate, who had left her flat in Chelsea at 9pm arrived at Clarence House just after midnight."

At most that's a 20-minute journey. Note to Wills… whether or not you two are item again, buy the girl a satnav come her next birthday.

There's no picture of the (un)couple in the Guardian. But why would there be? Given the paper's republican sympathies, it presumably didn't cover it at all. Ah. Old-skool Guardianistas ought to avert their eyes from page 7. The paper of course, comes at its coverage from a different angle to the rest of the pack, treating the whole event as a sort of litmus test on how Britain feels about Diana 10 years on. So that's all right then.

But that's just a distraction. Back on the trail of Wills and Kate, and it's the Sun that really delivers. You can quote all the palace sources you like about Kate's car arriving at Wills' pad, but the Sun gives us a picture of that very arrival. There it is in black and white. Kate's gratis Audi pulling up at the gates.

Not only that, but there's the obligatory close friend who tells us "Kate and William are still working things through."


Daily Mini-Quiz

09:38 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2007

On Friday, we asked you about Thorntons having to stop selling rum and raisin ice cream to children because of the alcohol content. The question was on how many cones would equal one pint of lager. A whopping 66.29% wrongly guessed 36. It was 28.

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