BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 30, 2007 - January 5, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

17:21 UK time, Friday, 4 January 2008

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

1. Police are not required to clean up a crime scene once evidence has been gathered.
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2. Networks of sensors are embedded in road surfaces to beam back information to councils on ice, rain, wind and temperatures.
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3. Japan's justice ministry surveys ex-cons on topics such as whether they liked the design of their prison-issue pyjamas.
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4. Raila Odinga's first name means "stinging nettle".

5. Immunity to norovirus the annual winter vomiting bug, is only short-lived.
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6. Britons are keenest on fast food, more so than even Americans.
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7. It's the first time in 50 years that neither the president nor his deputy will be seeking re-election in the United States.
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8. The Royal Marsden was the first hospital in the world to be dedicated to cancer when it was founded in 1851.
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9. Victorians believed smoking cleared the lungs - and struck off Dr Thomas Allinson, who founded the bakery of the same name, for describing nicotine as a "foul poison" and advocating healthy eating.
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10. Malaysian hotel rooms may be fitted with CCTV.
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Sources, where not linked: 4: The Times, 1 January. Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Theresa Bubbear for this week's picture of 10 oranges halved and waiting to be squeezed for Bucks Fizz on Christmas Day.

Your Letters

15:59 UK time, Friday, 4 January 2008

Re the daily mini-question: "za" (meaning CENSORED SO AS NOT TO SPOIL THE FUN) was used in Neal Stephenson's book Snowcrash as early as 1993, when the 13-year-old who wrote Teen Talk wasn't even born.
Justin Rowles, Winchester, UK

The OED has "za" for CENSORED SO AS NOT TO SPOIL THE FUN) dated to 1968, so it's not just out of date but possibly starting to go off a bit.
Rob Foreman, London, UK

Evidently Paper Monitor is not wasting as much time as some of us on a certain social networking site or they would have discovered the Scrabble application - which recognises the word "za", thus enabling oldies like me to answer today's DMQ correctly.
I'll get tamocy.
Pix6, Vienna, Austria

Re Man Utd snub Newcastle Brown bid: Did anyone else think this was a business story about a brewery trying to take over a football club? Maybe I've been working in the City too long.
Jo, London, UK

Oh my god! Oh my god! I just scored 7 out of 7 on 7 days 7 questions. This is a proud moment.
Louise, Oxford

I just got six in the quiz of the week's news. Would anyone like to join me for a celebratory drinking-into-oblivion to make tomorrow disappear and help me believe that there really are only six days in a week?
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

So according to this story we blame the snow on the weather. Silly me, I thought it was because it was January and we get snow in January.
Pete W, Oban

Re piers being great (Paper Monitor): my dad has recently embarked on a semi-mission - dare I say... crusade? - to go to every single pier in the UK, or visit the site of what might have once been a pier before nature took back the sea. The terrible thing is you find yourself, as the dutiful offspring, remembering snippets of information from such field trips and casually slipping them into conversation. So don't laugh, lest it happen to you one day.
Sarah B, Southampton

Since when has "ruggedised" '(One laptop project loses partner) been a word in the English language? Surely the writer could have spent a few minutes coming up with an alternative way to state that the laptops in question were built to survive harsher environments? Come on BBC, there are standards after all.
Paul, Chelmsford

Hello and Happy New Year! When is the caption competition coming back, now that the BBC has been given the partial all-clear to host competitions once again? Looking forward to your response.
Helen Cumberbatch, London, England

Kip (Wednesday's letters) and Sam (Thursday's letters), stop it! All these dreadful puns are starting to really get my goat.
Adam, London, UK

Paper Monitor

10:28 UK time, Friday, 4 January 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Having been lured onto a social networking site that shall remain nameless for once, Paper Monitor has recently been tickled by assorted quizzes that identify which Heroes/Sopranos/Star Wars/Simpsons character you are most like.

The Daily Telegraph appears to enjoy the same pastime (although it has yet to accept Paper Monitor's friend request), as today it applies the same idea to costume drama. "Are you Sense or Sensibility? Try our quiz."

Sample questions include:
"A possible suitor is 35-years-old. You think he is:
a) Wise, interesting and kind, with much to commend him
b) Far too ancient, feeble and infirm at that age to be interested in romance
c) He's a man. What's not to like?

"You are trapped at a party where you find the other people embarrassing and vulgar. How do you behave?
a) Utter amiable lies to keep the conversation going
b) Refuse to make small talk and leave the room
c) Embarrassing and vulgar? What do you mean? I haven't laughed so much for ages..."

Answered mostly As? Stoic Elinor. Mostly Bs? Impulsive Marianne. Mostly Cs? Punorama and Caption Comp.

Finally a word of praise where it's due. In Paper Monitor's younger years, the most keenly awaited cultural treat would have been the big Christmas Day film or comedy. But no more. Nowadays it's the Economist Christmas/New Year double edition.

If you've never sampled its fine menu, unfortunately you're out of luck for this year - any remaining copies will probably have been removed from newsagents' shelves this morning. But if you have dined at the fine restaurant of the mind that is the Christmas Double, you'll realise that the world is an endlessly fascinating place in which silk purses are just waiting to be sewn from unlikely ears.

For instance, who could have guessed that the story of a Scandinavian match magnate could have been such a gripping read? Who has ever paused to think about why kitchens are the way they are? What, exactly, is the history of the shopping mall and would you have known how interesting it was? And aren't piers great? Well yes, they are.

Having finished this year's edition in the bath last night, one's brain feels nourished and enlivened and so much better for a healthy diet.

There are two things Paper Monitor really loves about the Economist. One is its effortless knack of not making you feel stupid when it explains stuff. So for instance it says: "In the year to August 2007, IKEA, a Swedish furniture chain, sold over 1m kitchens worldwide." In case you didn't know what Ikea is, now you do and you're not made to feel like a loser. This can be very useful when the same technique is applied to consultants, accountants, analysts and other organisations not normally named in your cutlery drawer.

The other is that it seduces you into reading a story, only later dropping in the detail which makes it newsworthy. Any wannabe journalists out there - don't think this is the way to get on in journalism. It's 100% NOT the way British journalists are trained. They are exhorted at every turn and at all costs to emphasise what is NEW. The Economist does things differently, and for that, Paper Monitor gives thanks to the magic guiding hand in the sky.

Random stat

09:53 UK time, Friday, 4 January 2008

In a survey on whether men drink more than women at parties (they do, unless it's fancy-dress), scientists from the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Studies at San Diego State University surveying student gatherings found that 15% of the parties had themes.

Your Letters

16:00 UK time, Thursday, 3 January 2008

Insert box in Marsden fire report: "The last 24 hours have seen Britain at its best," PM Gordon Brown, "I had treatment in a pub." Have another one while you're about it, then.
Fred, Rotherham

Regarding today's Paper Monitor. Clearly the nation's news gathering organisations have been hit hard by the norovirus if they are having to send footballers' wives and girlfriends (WAGs) to cover news conferences!
A.N

Re: 100 things. If people did not know the contents of item 29 (The average duvet is home to 20,000 live dust mites) last year, it was because they did not read it the year before! The dateline on this story was Tuesday, 11 July 2006, so clearly does not qualify for this article. Kindly substitute another story which DOES qualify as something we didn't know last year (and ditto for any other stories which have similarly slipped through a time warp).
Pam Birdsall, Byfield

The daily mini-quiz reports that Sunderland fans reach an average of 129.2 decibels. You can buy personal alarms which reach 130 decibels, and their main purpose is to put off attackers. No wonder Sunderland are doing so badly at the moment.
Chris Kenny, Southampton, England

With regards to Sunderland fans being the loudest, it is only fair to point out that it is usually screams of anguish rather than cheering.
Dave Williams, Not Sunderland

Personally Kip (Wednesday's letters), I'm waiting for year of the rat-related headlines so I can get my stoat.
Sam, France

Paper Monitor

11:21 UK time, Thursday, 3 January 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

All those "Happy New Years" your family, friends, colleagues, drunken revellers, call centre staff and other extraneous folk have been wishing you... what material good do they actually do?

One might hope that at the very least, the expression might induce a sort of general positive karma among the population as a whole. For want of a scientific expression, let's just call it a "good vibe".

But such hopes are well and truly skewered by the tone of today's papers, which are wallowing in a sort of front page misery fest.

Oil price threatens to choke economy – the Times.
Big council tax rises on the way – the Express.
Rovers Return set to be axed – the Star.

Then comes the Telegraph with this clunking fist of a downer – "GPs urge millions hit by bug to stay at home".

Yes folks, nature has truly gone nuts, to purloin a headline from yesterday's Daily Mail. First it was daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus) and purple-sprouting broccoli (Brassica pupulus) blooming early, now it’s the turn of the norovirus aka vomitus bugus.

The Telegraph tells us the "norovirus season" – there's a norovirus season?! – began a month early, in October. Now it seems the tummy bug is sweeping the country big style and is so infectious that sufferers are advised to stay at home for 48 hours and not even go to the doctor's surgery, for fear they might pass it on. Paper Monitor will studiously ignore the wag at this morning's news conference who piped up that it "sounds like the perfect illness".

Having already suffered its, er, seasonal, bout of the bug (in mid-December), Paper Monitor can assure all readers there's nothing perfect about it.

But what's really depressing Paper Monitor is the story on the front of today's Daily Mail: "Clarkson for PM!" So this column is to be regenerated Doctor Who-style into a ranting, lunatic petrol-head. What next, Richard Hammond takes on "Your Letters" and James May pilots the return of the Caption Competition?

For fear you find a pair of stonewashed 501s in this seat tomorrow, can the current incarnation of Paper Monitor take this opportunity to wish one and all a happy New Year, for all the good it's worth.

Random stat

09:12 UK time, Thursday, 3 January 2008

One-third of people think that 2008 will be better than 2007, according to a survey of more than 50,000 people in 54 countries by TNS and Gallup International.

Your Letters

16:20 UK time, Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Re Probe into wind turbine collapse: Judging by the picture, shouldn't the story read "was only able to produce a small amount of electricity"?
Stuart, Croydon

Has anyone tried to buy replacement Christmas tree bulbs after Christmas Day? Yes, I know I should have bought some spares before the 25th just in case, and sure enough my bulbs went out on 1 January and all the shops will not have any new bulbs until next Christmas. My local supermarket has replaced their Christmas display with a selection of Easter eggs. How very seasonal.
Gordon, Whitley Bay

Re Giant knickers put out house fire . There were so many references to these pants being gigantic that I presumed they must have been some sort of comedy prop bought as a jokey present. It was then revealed that the knickers were size 18-20. Given that I myself wear that size undercrackers, can you imagine how depressed I am? I might be ever so slightly bigger than Kate Moss but surely I am not GIANT? I bet you can guess what my new year resolution is now...
Naomi, Manchester

At last the identity of Paper Monitor is revealed (first picture).
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

Re 100 things, number 45: "Domestic cats can trace their descent to the Middle East." Well, that explains a lot. I'd been wondering what my cat was doing looking at all those genealogy sites on the internet. Now I know.
Adam, London, UK

Gary (Tuesday letters) may be needlessly worrying about Harry Potter plot spoilers. You don't know for sure that Harry didn't die in the last one. Taggart went on for years without the title character.
Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes, UK

Why is it a "mere" 22% that throw away food by its sell-by date? Shouldn't it say "An astonishing 22% of consumers are so profligate they throw out food according to its sell-by date (generally several days before its use-by or best before)".
Ian Smith, Leatherhead, UK

If only you'd run Raccoon-like animal found in UK again, I could fetch my coati.
Kip, Norwich, UK

Paper Monitor

10:21 UK time, Wednesday, 2 January 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Former Guardian editor CP Scott once said “comment is free, but facts are sacred”, but he would have had to revise his assertion on the basis of the newspapers from Christmas Eve through to now.

Perhaps he might now opt for “comment is cheap, but as far as free goes you don’t get better than a retrospective”.

Obviously the Magazine has brought you a retrospective or two, and many a newspaper has been tempted by a year in pictures, but the Guardian has perhaps taken it a step further. With a retrospective of the decade. At the beginning of 2008. So two years still to go.

And the defining themes of the “noughties”? The normalisation of the internet, iPods, 11 September, Tony Blair, global warming and the Big Brother TV show. Aha, it’s all becoming clear now. All the things you would have guessed were the defining themes of the past decade, if you were given 30 seconds to think about it, they are actually the defining themes. Phew.

The Daily Telegraph is at the same thing. They have a two-page piece about “The 20 years that changed my life… and the face of modern Britain”. It’s not even the past 20 years. It’s 1970 to 1990. And the topics are the IRA, punk, John Lennon’s death, Margaret Thatcher’s election, Live Aid, Aids, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the poll tax and yuppies. Why those years? Aside from being formative in the life of your stereotypical Telegraph reader (a baby-boomer and all that entails, see list above), the paper is giving away a series of DVDs charting the period.

But while some newspapers are still taking stock of years past, the Daily Mail is back to business on the first working day of the year.

North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has apparently suggested that ecstasy is no more dangerous than aspirin. And he has detonated a small bomb of indignation at the Mail. He’s not the most popular person in that parish anyway, with his love of speed cameras and antics including breaking into his own headquarters.

But there is worse to come, as the factbox headlined “ONE BLUNDER AFTER ANOTHER” lambasts him for being someone who “took pleasure in being named an honorary druid”.

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells will not be happy.

Random Stat

09:53 UK time, Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Cargo ships transport 95% of world trade, according to industry figures.

Your Letters

12:20 UK time, Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Ernest Bull (Monday letters) is mistaken to believe that Kylie Minogue was honoured for overcoming cancer. She received her OBE "For services to Music".
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

According to Lisa Jardine's Point of View "...clearing one's plate is now frowned upon". To my shame I admit that I usually prepare just enough food at mealtimes to satisfy my appetite and then go right ahead and eat it all. From today however I intend to put an end to all those frowns at the dinner table. I resolve, at every meal, to cook more food than I actually want. That way there will always be something left on the plate to throw away. Better still I could reheat the leftovers - ensuring that there are some leftovers left over of course.
Sean Smith, Bucks

"JK Rowling hints at eighth Potter" - just great, now I know the boy wizard doesn't die in the last one. Thanks BBC, spoilt the whole thing for me now....
Gary Hammond, Telford

Paper Monitor

11:56 UK time, Tuesday, 1 January 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The journalists who write the newspapers that some of you still love are only human.

During the time when much of the rest of the world is drinking and eating themselves silly, the reporters and subs of our august national journals are forced to chronicle it.

So it is perhaps understandable then that the punnery is not as peerless as the rest of the year and many headlines have a hollow feel.

Story about wood pigeons enjoying a remarkable resurgence? In the Daily Mail it’s “Wood pigeons stage a coo”, while in the Daily Telegraph it’s “A very British coo”. Bit obvious you might suggest, and you’d be right. The Daily Mirror used the headline “A very British coo” on another story about pigeons on 22 December. A mere 10 days ago.

In the Mirror, there’s a feature about this being a big time of the year for sales of couches. Headline? “What’s the story sofa?”. Oh dear.

And there seems to be some confusion over in the Daily Star. Page 7 carries a story about fans demanding the return of Celebrity Big Brother which has been replaced this year by a new variation called Celebrity Hijack. How is this interpreted on the front page? “Celeb BB in shock comeback”. Eh?

Paper Monitor cannot read any more.

Random Stat

09:55 UK time, Tuesday, 1 January 2008

A mere 22% of 1,530 consumers polled by the BBC Good Food Magazine always threw away food that was past its sell-by date.

100 things we didn't know last year

00:00 UK time, Tuesday, 1 January 2008

100_things3_07_416.jpgThe most interesting and unexpected facts can emerge from the daily news stories and the Magazine documents some of them in its weekly feature, 10 things we didn't know last week. To kick off 2008, here are some of the best of last year.

1. Coach travel is the safest form of road transport in the country.
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2. Saddam Hussein's codename while in US custody in 2004/5 was "Victor".
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3. Adding milk to tea negates the health-giving effects of a hot brew.
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4. The word "jaywalking" came from the US slang "jay", a term popular in the early 20th Century meaning a rustic newcomer unfamiliar with city ways.
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5. Cloudy apple juice is healthier than clear, containing almost double the antioxidants which protect against heart disease and cancer.
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6. Dishcloths are purged of 99% of their bacteria during two minutes in a microwave.
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7. A haddock's mating call starts as a slow knocking sound, before turning into a quicker hum similar to a small motorcycle revving its engine.
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8. Newcastle is the noisiest place in England.
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9. The people who built Stonehenge lived at an ancient village in Durrington Walls.
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10. Brazil nuts are seeds encased in an outer shell that weighs more than 1kg.
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11. Astronauts wear nappies during launch and re-entry because they can't stop what they're doing should they need to urinate.
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12. Georgic is a punishment dished out to Eton pupils which involves the copying out of hundreds of lines of Latin.
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13. Tony Blair does not keep a personal diary.
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14. Antony and Cleopatra were ugly.
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15. 10% of university work from across the UK is plagiarised.
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16. Chimpanzees make their own spears for hunting.
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17. Two cups of spearmint tea a day is thought to control excessive hair growth for women.
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18. Burglar alarms, traffic wardens and crowded buses are good news for home owners, signalling an area is on the up.
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19. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hosts a daily radio phone-in show.
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20. More than half (52%) of smokers haven't told their parents about their habit.
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21. Only about half of China's population can speak the national language, Mandarin.
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22. The brief flowering of the cherry blossom tree is taken so seriously in Japan that forecasts are used to plan festivals, and travel agents use them to plan tours.
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23. To be found attractive, women should sway their hips and men their shoulders (although researchers call this a "shoulder swagger").
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24. The are 30,000 wild parakeets in London.
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25. Martina Navratilova has spent four years secretly working as an artist.
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26. Harvesting rhubarb in candlelight helps preserve its flavour.
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27. Drinking, drug-taking teenagers are in the decline, according to a survey by the Information Centre.
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28. Designer discount retailer TK Maxx is called TJ Maxx in the US.
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29. The average duvet is home to 20,000 live dust mites.
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30. Serving anything more than tea and biscuits at a political meeting is an offence called "treating" and punishable by a year in prison or an unlimited fine, under the the Representation of the People Act 1893.
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31. There is mobile phone reception from the summit of Mount Everest.
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32. Anti-Americanism began in Paris in the 18th Century.
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33. Female civil servants in India are questioned about their menstrual cycle as part of their appraisal.
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34. Kryptonite exists.
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35. Denmark is the happiest country in Europe; Italy the unhappiest. (The UK was 9th out of 15.)
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36. A water-tight denial by a politician – as opposed to one that leaves room for later manoeuvre - is known as a Sherman pledge. The other sort is called a non-denial denial.
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37. Spiralling obesity rates are forcing councils to upgrade their crematoria, to take wider coffins.
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38. Gerry Adams doesn't own a credit card, so gets a friend to download songs from the internet.
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39. The secret to happiness is accepting misery.
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40. A new three-bedroom house must have at least 38 plug sockets.
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41. There are 1,200 exhumations every year in the UK, but not all of those are part of criminal cases.
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42. Nearly seven out of 10 (69%) of adults are still in touch with at least one childhood friend.
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43. Bernard Manning worked as an armed guard watching over senior Nazis locked up in Berlin’s Spandau prison.
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44. Europe has a vodka belt comprising Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Denmark and Sweden, although the drink is also made in countries such as Britain, France, Italy and Spain.
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45. Domestic cats can trace their descent to the Middle East.
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46. Peanuts can be made into diamonds.
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47. The prime ministerial Jaguar is called Pegasus.
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48. You can be arrested for using someone's wi-fi network without permission.
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49. CDs were nearly called mini-racks.
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50. Left-handed people are called sinistral.
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51. Nick Clegg, the Lib Dems' new leader, once took a road trip across the US with his friend Louis Theroux.
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52. There are 17 surviving versions of the Magna Carta - or 17 Magnae Cartae.
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53. Renowned atheist Professor Richard Dawkins likes singing Christmas carols.
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54. The Australian town of Eucla has its own time zone.
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55. Books used to be bound in human skin.
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56. Eddie Irvine is Britain's wealthiest sports star – beating the Beckhams into second place by £30m.
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57. Sleeping on the job is tolerated in Japanese work culture, as long as you remain upright and obey certain other rules. It's called inemuri.
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58. The Romans had roadmaps.
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59. The word Blighty comes from "bilayti", the Urdu for homeland.
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60. The Queen took her corgi on honeymoon.
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61. Janet and John were named Alice and Jerry in the United States.
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62. Until the late 1990s, the RAF's nuclear bombs could be activated using a bicycle lock key.
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63. Cats can be police constables.
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64. King Tut had buck teeth.
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65. The Italian Mafia have commandments.
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66. Gun ownership per person in Finland is the third highest in the world.
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67. The brain can turn down its ability to see in order to listen to complex sounds like music.
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68. Of the waste in UK landfills, 0.1% is plastic carrier bags.
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69. Dogs occasionally shoot their owners in the US.
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70. IP addresses will run out in 2010.
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71. An ai is a three-toed sloth from South America (and the word that clinched Paul Allan the title of national Scrabble champion).
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72. Dumbledore is gay.
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73. UN population projections go as far as 2300.
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74. Sheffield FC is the world’s oldest football club.
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75. CO2 emissions from shipping are twice the level of aviation.
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76. George Clooney and Pierce Brosnan have had Bell's Palsy - a nerve condition that can result in paralysis on one side of the face.
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77. Leeches are used as treatment for cauliflower ears.
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78. A bdelloid rotifer is a pond-dwelling organism that has survived 80 million years without sex.
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79. Woodwork lessons are known as "resistant materials" in schools.
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80. Adults use maths skills 14 times daily on average and literacy skills 23 times a day.
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81. The opening bars to the theme tune of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em spelt the title of the series in Morse code.
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82. The children who sang on Pink Floyd's number one hit Another Brick in the Wall (Pt 2) couldn't appear in the video because they didn't hold Equity cards.
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83. Jack Straw has intervened in alleged crimes four times, apprehending a person on three occasions.
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84. On average a UK commuter travels the equivalent of two-and-a-half times around the globe over a full working career.
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85. A 23.8lb baby was born in the US in 1879, but it only survived 11 hours.
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86. There is a monastery in every village in Burma.
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87. Relocating crocodiles doesn't work - they come back.
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88. Deep-voiced men have more children.
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89. Being born without an ear is called microtia.
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90. Chickens can be diagnosed with depression.
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91. In Iceland, 96% of women go to university.
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92. Zsa Zsa Gabor is related to Paris Hilton.
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93. Dinosaurs had creches.
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94. Osama Bin Laden is known to fellow jihadists as Abu Abdullah.
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95. In Ethiopia the start of the year 2000 was celebrated in September.
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96. Bees can detect explosives.
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97. There have been at least two children given the name "Superman" in the UK since 1984.
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98. Prison officers are on average assaulted eight times a day.
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99. Each slug eats twice its body weight a day.
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100. Dogs can have two noses.
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Your letters

15:20 UK time, Monday, 31 December 2007

Compared to my mother, Kylie Minogue in no way battled with cancer. She would get up at 6am for the car collecting her at 7:30 and which might come by 10.30am, only for her to be driven all over south London before arriving at the hospital for her treatment at lunchtime. But no lunch for her. After treatment she could be left abandoned for hours in a cold uncomfortable waiting room for her car home. Many times she did not return home until gone 9pm. I do not resent Kylie being cured, but I resent her being honoured for what her money bought her and what was denied to my mother.
Ernest Bull, Bristol, UK.

With regard to your story "Mystery container found on beach", it seems a very similar item is shown here. Could it be a beer fermentation tank?
Mike Hiddleston, Liverpool

Monitor note: Well spotted.

Re "Time travel film kept for the future". Surely there's no need?
Rob, London, UK

Rob, London (Your letters, 28 December), the phrase "pure theatrical viagra" was used in 1996 by the Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer to describe Nicole Kidman's nude appearance in the London play "The Blue Room". Happy New Year.
Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes, UK

Dear Joanne Fennessy of the tautological New York, New York (Your letters, 27 December), Jeremy of Thatcham has it right. It DOES matter where these things are made. Not everyone can work in services. If you deny people jobs in manufacturing how do expect them to earn a living to buy something, "regardless [of] where it is made"?
J. Paul Murdock, West Midlands, UK (currently on holiday in Vienna)

Ooh, am I the first for this story, in wondering how any of the subs failed to use "Champion the Wonder Horse" as the headline?
Steve N, Eastleigh, Hants

News sentence of the year about pitched battles with brooms? Nah, it just has to be "Six injured by exploding fondue."
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

I've just been told about a cruise holiday featuring traditional upper class activities - I'll fetch my quoits.
Graeme Dixon, Woking, Surrey

Now that phone in competitions are to be reintroduced how about bringing Punorama and the Caption Competition back? Afterall everyone knows that it is only the chosen few that ever get published but we can all live in hope. Since July UK office productivity has been much improved and its about time to give the statisticians some thing else to measure.
Alan, Stockport


Paper Monitor

10:52 UK time, Monday, 31 December 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Be prepared for a feeling of indigestion after reading the papers on the last day of the year.

Amid the glut of reviews and predictions that fill the pages there is also an excess of stories about excess.

The dawning of 2008 will be the busiest time for binge drinking (Mirror), text messages (Mirror), abortions (Mail), burglaries (Guardian), presents sold on eBay (Sun), fireworks (Daily Telegraph) and car breakdowns (Times).

Seasonal messages should be added to the list. Days after the Queen and two Archbishops made their Christmas addresses, the politicians had their turn at the weekend.

Now Rowan Williams is having a second bite, putting his New Year message on YouTube, reports the Independent. What a novel idea, perhaps our monarch should do the same…

Final word of 2007 must go to a glorious example of tabloid journalism at its best.

Coronation Street fans have a treat in the Mirror where a double-page marks the 70th wedding to feature in the series in its 36-year history.

Every happy (are they ever?) couple is pictured, starting with Joan Walker and Gordon Davis in 1961 and ending with Liz McDonald and Vernon Tomlin, to be screened tonight.

Lovely.

Random Stat

10:03 UK time, Monday, 31 December 2007

Just 12% of 3,000 people surveyed by the University of Hertfordshire managed to keep their New Year's resolutions for an entire year.

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