BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for May 18, 2008 - May 24, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

19:00 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

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

1. "Nice" originally meant foolish or silly.
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2. More rural homes have broadband than urban dwellings.
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3. 27% of people have opened a bottle with their teeth.
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4. Britain has the fifth largest Jewish population in the world.
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5. Brain chemical oxytocin makes us trust strangers with money.
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6. Women drivers are three times more likely than men to suffer whiplash injuries if their car is hit from behind.
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7. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is deaf in one ear.
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8. Skunks can be de-scented to make better pets.
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9. You can lessen jet lag by not eating.
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10. The "$100 laptop" now costs $75.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Sarah Metcalfe of Sheffield for this week's picture of 10-segmented lampshade. "This is a lamp which was a present from my brothers. It always gets a lot of comments with people thinking it's an umbrella or modern art."

Your Letters

17:20 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

Reverse nominative determinism - did I hear correctly on Odd Box that the name of the stilt walker was Neil Saunter, two things you can't do on stilts.
DustinThyme, Aylesbury, UK

Given the fact I walk to work, and with the price of petrol like it is, I need a new car like I need a hole in the head. So that's sorted (US car dealer in free gun offer).
Robert MacRae, Manchester, England

I was intrigued by Jenkins hits out at opera critics: "The Classical Brit-winning artist told the opening night of the Hay Festival she never claimed to be an opera star." Yet the very first line of her official online biography reads: "Katherine Jenkins is redefining Classical Crossover, and is pioneering a new genre of Opera superstar." How curious.
Matt, Aberystwyth, Wales

I would love to know quite how Harriet Harman knows people's votes in the by-election were "not a judgement on [Labour's] campaign" (Harman on Labour defeat). It certainly contributed to mine.
Jamie, Crewe

Can we please stop talking about Twitter (Thursday letters)? As someone who is eminently unlikeable and whose only friends are imaginary, I always feel terribly left out by the rise of social networking sites. Unless someone knows of such a site that caters for intolerable bores and selfish ignoramuses like my good self? A site where you are judged by how many friends you don't have? A pariah-archy perhaps?
Dylan, Reading, UK

So it is finally proven - aliens made them (Crystal skulls 'are modern fakes').
Doug Reid, Barnet

Re Avoiding food 'may beat jet lag' - hah! Just you wait, they'll be saying this is the way to tackle obesity as well. Idiots...
Sue, London

Oh Rob, how right you are (Thursday letters). The abuse of reflexive pronouns is hideous and only compounded by the inevitable stress on the preposition. [Said with nasal twang] "Can you send it TO myself?" Eugh.
Hugh, Coventry

I am glad Simon Rooke won the caption competition, his was the best and made me laugh out loud. As mine did not appear in the runners-up I can only assume you didn't read it. You've missed out because that one would have made tea squirt out of your nose.
Michaela, Runcorn, UK

May I commend the Magazine selection panel for their excellent taste in caption picking. But, I may have to sue the BBC for the cost of plastic surgery to remove the smug, self-satisfied grin I've developed this afternoon.
Simon Rooke, Nottingham

I preferred it when the caption competition was on holiday. Punorama - now there's a real competition.
Andy, Leeds

Caption Competition

13:00 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

Comments

Winning entries in the now-returned Caption Competition.

Thanks to all who entered. The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

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The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Frobnitz:
God throws a spanner in the works with the latest fossil discovery.

5. sargey14:
"Darwin!" "Yes, Darwin?" "Nothin, Darwin Only Darwin Darwin!"

4. mr_meanour:
Darwin was pleased to be back in the origin of his spaces.

3. robertmerlin:
"Oh my! Haven't tortoises evolved."

2. CompletelyTerrified
Darwin: "Evolution eh? Don't make me laugh. I was expecting flying cars, food in pill form, and living on the moon. What do they come up with? A bloody caption competition. Sigh..."

1. SimonRooke:
"And here we have the unveiling of Rodin's Pole Dance Patron."

Nice Decade, Nasty Decade

12:59 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

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As part of the Magazine's mini-series on the end of the UK's nice decade, cartoonist Tony Husband offers a final take on how we'll react to the gloomy economic forecast.

Click here for his cartoon on busking in the recession and here for nasty decade dinner parties.

Paper Monitor

11:33 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Newspaper journalists don't really like to keep it under their hat when they've been working hard.

So the Daily Telegraph makes no secret of the late night required to bring you news of the Conservatives' landmark win in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election.

"3AM," it says in red. In big letters.

There's trumpeting of a different kind on the front page. The Telegraph website is now the most popular of any British newspaper. Inside it reveals that its UK audience has increased 123% in a year and its global audience 153%. Huzzah, as they used to say.

But it's not quite as simple as that. Newspaper website popularity is an important business - advertisers want reliable figures so they can decide how much to pay. And yesterday the Brand Republic website reported that the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards is investigating the methodology used to calculate popularity.

This apparently is part motivated by concerns raised by the Guardian, Daily Mail and Times websites, which are, to put it delicately, a little surprised by their competitor's sudden online success.

Away from industry squabbles, the Daily Mirror and Metro both feature some remarkable photographs of an apparent daredevil photographer leaping in flip-flops between two freestanding pillars in the Grand Canyon, casually ignoring a 3,000 foot drop.

Thanks to Hugh Macdonald - one of the people following the Magazine's new Twitter feed - we now know that these pictures have been around on the internet since 2006. And he points out that Snopes, the website which specialises in debunking internet myths, has covered these photos in full.

It seems it's just a bit of careful framing - the pillars aren't freestanding and if the photographer had fallen he would have fallen about 10 feet, not 3,000.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:19 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

See the Quote of the Day every morning on the Magazine index.

"It's not every day you see a celebrity in Appledore" - North Devon local on the arrival of the Jackson clan.appledore_quote2.gif

Isn't it always the way - you wait ages for a 70s pop star to show up and all of a sudden five come along at once? Well, no, actually and while the residents of Appledore in North Devon may be chuffed to see Tito and Jackie Jackson appearing at the local sites (and drawing important toruist trade), the intentions of some of other, how shall we say, more high-profile Jacksons is something of a mystery. And since the pile rented by the family only has four bedrooms, if the entire group choose to reform and live Partridge family-style under one roof, it's going to be a bit of a squeeze. And by the way, the word is it's all a stunt for a reality TV show.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

18:08 UK time, Thursday, 22 May 2008

When I heard cheering and church bells ringing outside I wondered what it was for. Now I know, THE CAPTION COMPETITION IS BACK! I will now spend the rest of the afternoon thinking of something witty to say, and failing if past performance is anything to go by.
MCK, Coventry

Can I just be the first to say, "If the caption competition weren't back..."?
Warren, Bristol

Is there a word for a totally pointless news story where only if the opposite were true, it would become news-worthy? Fans fly back after Moscow final
Jinja, Edinburgh

Re "Andy Abraham - from street cleaner to Eurovision singer" - is this really a step up?
Clare, Cumbria, UK

Re Exploding Star Caught in the Act: "Previously, scientists had only been able to study these "supernovas" several days after the event." However, the galaxy you mention is over 80 million light years away, so surely the scientists have studied this supernova millions of years after the event, rather than a few days?
Ed, Clacton, UK

Sue, London (Your Letters, Wednesday) - You may be able to visit an amateur dry cleaners. As many dry clean labels say "Professional Dry Clean Only", I assume there must be some about.
Laura, Cumbria

It was interesting to read John O'Farrell's comments about the infamous C Thomson of Glasgow. When he (or she) retired, I seem to have taken over as most frequent winner of the Punch magazine caption competition. But I wonder where Mr. or Mrs. Thomson is now. I haven't seen the name appear as winner of any of the internet caption competitions around.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Last night, someone from an insurance company called me and asked "Is now a good time to talk to yourself?" If you too can't stand abuse of the reflexive, let myself know!
Rob Foreman, London, UK

Re Derbyshire may have 'oldest' dog: I'm guessing a "chop it in half and count the rings" approach wouldn't be appropriate here?
KM, Coventry

Re the oldest dog in the world story. "She eats little as she has only two teeth left, but loves to suck on sweets." Sounds like a bit of a vicious cycle to me.
Rick P, Oxford, UK

I thought that Exploding star caught in the act was going to be about Elton John.
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

Seeing as using a car horn is illegal almost everywhere (Car horn beeping finally silenced), does anyone know why we have horns on our cars anymore?
Martin, Stevenage, UK

Question. How did 40-odd per cent of people get Wednesday's daily mini-quiz wrong, when the answer is displayed as soon as you hold your mouse cursor over the accompanying picture of the Russian Matryoshka dolls?
Helen C-W, Skipton, North Yorks

Am I getting too gloomy and impressionable ? It's just that "round-the-clock Twitter feed" only makes me think of battery chickens.
Graham, Purmerend, Netherlands

To those wondering about what the Twitter feed is - I can assure you, the mysteries at the end of the link are stranger and more curious than any guess you could possibly come up with.
Andrew Davidson, Stirling, Scotland

Vincent, who believes that no male remembers specific episodes of Sex and the City (Wednesday letters), I'm male, I remember the clam kissing scene. I am also homosexual, which may have something to do with it. Clearly the Monitor is a homosexual male who does not trust us enough to come out of the closet. It's okay chicken, in your own time.
Angel, Coventry, UK

If you had a competition for unbelievable boasts I'd nominate Steve's claim (Wednesday letters) to have kissed his girlfriend for a week, clam or no clam.
David, Romford

So there's a drug that increases trust in strangers? Actually it's having the opposite effect on me already, I may never go to the pub again. At least with Rohypnol you can say no to the drink, what's the strategy for avoiding this new one - not breathing?
Diane, Sutton

In the spirit of Eurovision, my work pals and I have been engaging in vacuous tedious banter all week. Hopefully this is distinguishable from our usual banter...
David, Adelaide

Martin asks whether he is the only one disturbed by my Eurovision admission (Wednesday letters). It seems not. It seems fashionable to rubbish the Eurovision Song Contest and I can only assume it is because the UK rarely win (or in Luxembourg's case, don't win because they don't enter, though are past winners). If I were a fan of UK athletics, but rubbished Europe-wide athletic competitions in sports where the UK didn't do well, then lots of people would think me wrong (except perhaps those people who would normally have followed Euro 2008 but won't this year just because England aren't in it).
Ed, Clacton, UK

Nice Decade, Nasty Decade

12:06 UK time, Thursday, 22 May 2008

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As part of the Magazine's mini-series on the end of the UK's nice decade, cartoonist Tony Husband offers another take on how we'll react to the gloomy economic forecast.

Click here for his cartoon on busking in the recession.

Paper Monitor

11:37 UK time, Thursday, 22 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Everyone loves a wedding. Is there a better way to take our minds off the woes of the world, and all the recent talk of credit crunches and nasty decades?

Being truly British, there can be only one type of wedding that will do the job. A royal wedding. Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones, Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. All days of national celebration (and commemorative plates).

However, praise for the latest royal nuptials has been marred by THOSE wedding photos. Princess Anne's son, Peter Phillips and his (now) wife Autumn's decision to sell the photos for a cool £500,000 deal to Hello! has left a not-so-sweet taste for many, with critics questioning the royal family's right to call for privacy having done such a deal.

Many of the papers pour scorn over the glossy magazine's spread: "100 pages of overkill" (Daily Mail), "The world of Wag weddings has new champions - the Windsors" (Sun).

But it's the Daily Telegraph, that great newspaper of the Establishment, which regards the whole thing with particular distaste - hence the headlines "Queen slams door on celebrity magazine deals" and "Palace regrets 'selling out'".

That was page seven. By page 22, the paper takes a different view of the big day - a fine example of joined-up journalism - as writer Becky Pugh delights in the details of the big day. And she lays it on thick*: "Marvellous, tasteful, warm and natural - and nothing tacky in sight".

"Nothing, absolutely nothing, about this wedding was de trop. On the contrary, my friends keep ringing me to bleat about their wedding envy. From the lily-of-the-valley buttonholes to shimmering dance floor, the band in white satin suits and the 'trio of treats' for pudding, it was all done in impeccably stylish and modern taste."

Mmmmm. Paper Monitor likes the sound of a "trio of treats" for pud. Although detail is unavailable on which treats were involved, as one has to buy said magazine for a full rundown. Answers on a postcard, please.

Meanwhile, what of the Daily Express's coverage of the celebrations? Not a peep. But the paper is a stablemate of Hello!'s biggest rival, OK! - which may or may not have influenced the news editors.

* Warning. You may experience feelings of nausea and squeamishness when reading this. Although hopefully not dessert-induced.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:44 UK time, Thursday, 22 May 2008

"She is the Queen, not a footballer's wife" - Ian Gibson MP, who won't be buying this week's edition of Hello!footballers_wife_quote.jpg

Should Her Majesty's image be the subject of a "world exclusive"? That's the tagline used by Hello! magazine, typically the home of Wags and c-list celebrities, which coughed up £500,000 for exclusive picture rights to the nuptials of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly. On Wedsnesday, MPs condemned the deal, said to have been done without the prior knowledge of the Queen.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

16:32 UK time, Wednesday, 21 May 2008

What's the name of the Guardian's columnist, commentating on the fiscal situation? Mr Chancellor of course.
Basil Long, Leicester

Re Five augurs of the storm ahead: "It is very difficult to dry-clean at home." Hmmm, I'd suggest that unless you live in a dry-cleaners, it's actually impossible.
Sue, London

"Half of Daily Mail readers vote Labour" (Paper Monitor)? That's not what Viscount Rothermere said. That's not even what the Guardian says he said, according to your link. He suggested that the readership was a broad cross-section of the population, half of whom vote Labour. The second part of that is statistically false. In any case, to infer that the readership are representative of the population is a logical error. If the Prime Minister said that Labour voters were a broad cross-section of the nation, would it follow that 40% of Labour voters typically vote Conservative?
Chris, Cambridge, UK

Is there a term for merging similar words so that the combined result is greater than the sum of its parts? I'm thinking particularly of Paper Monitor's comment about "Carrie Bradshaw and Mr Big in clinche". All right, so the accent is missing, but otherwise it's perfect.
Jo, London

Is clinche another hybrid word - this one for describing an overused picture of two people hugging - part clinch, part cliché?
JP, London

OK, the Monitor's gender question answered - today's Quote of the Day references a particular scene from Sex and The City... Any man remember that? No, didn't think so.
Vincent, Worthing

Re kissing like a clam (Quote of the Day). That's one of the few Sex and the City episodes I watched - under duress at my girlfriend's flat. I paid her back by reenacting The Clam each time we kissed for a week. Never had to watch the show again...
Steve, London

Wait, what? MPs are delayed on their way to Crewe by a signalling fault and Virgin Trains deserve condemnation? Either someone at the BBC, or all the MPs backing Lembit Opik's motion, are missing something here. Virgin Trains are responsible for trains, not railway signals. Network Rail are responsible for signals. It's one of those cunning facts about a privatised rail industry that no-one ever seems to grasp.
Susannah, Northampton

Am I the only one to be a little disturbed by Ed's (Clacton) admission to have listened to all 43 entries for the Eurovision song contest (Monday letters)? More disturbing that he has listened to them a couple of times.
Martin Hollywood, Luxembourg (does not enter Eurovision)

Is Flat fire was caused by squirrels in response to Jamie 'must back squirrel-eating'? Still, sounds like there's some flame grilled squirrel if anyone wants some?
Jinja, Edinburgh

Bored at work, and was just pondering... If I read a story by clicking on the link from the "most read" box, does this add to the count of readers for the story, or should I find the original page link in order to register a count?
Owain Williams, Munich

Am I completely wrong in not having a clue what a Twitter feed is? I, like so many others, have been blocked from seeing the mysteries of this link. I'm taking that it's not slang for bird food like my first thoughts...
Kerri, London

Nice Decade, Nasty Decade

15:19 UK time, Wednesday, 21 May 2008

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As part of the Magazine's mini-series on the end of the UK's nice decade, cartoonist Tony Husband offers his take on how we'll react to the gloomy economic forecast.

Paper Monitor

11:40 UK time, Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Half of Daily Mail readers vote Labour, apparently. At least that's what the paper's biggest owner, Viscount Rothermere, told a House of Lords committee yesterday.

The paper itself doesn't actually report him saying it - you'll have to go to the Guardian for that titbit - but it does have a brief story about his appearance at the committee, under the headline "Our editors have total freedom says Mail chief".

Anyone have any views about whether there is tautology here? If the editors have total freedom, why is there a "chief"? Would a chief have to ask the editor to run this story and if he or she said no, how would that go down? How free is total freedom?

Rothermere was asked what he would do if one of his editors backed a legalise cannabis campaign or - even more extreme - supported the EU. He said these examples were "not extreme enough" for him to get involved.

In some ways, of course, Mail editors do not have total freedom, in spite of what the viscount says. Because the Mail is known for its laser-like targeting on the passions and interests of its audience, day after day, and it is this free spirit which is truly in charge. Hitting this spot so regularly is an ability which has made the Mail a very lucrative and successful publication.

One of the reasons so many people will be drawn to a double-page spread today headlined: "Why DO clever women fall for second-rate men?... We all know the type: she's successful, bright and, oh yes, too often has a man who humiliates her. What on earth is the attraction?" Cue picture of Carrie Bradshaw and Mr Big in clinche.

It's one of the mysteries of our culture that the Mail has made such success with its formula - particularly with its female audience - when so many of its stories seem to be critical of women.

But one can't deny that with paragraphs like the following, it is certainly interesting.

"I don't know the psychological reasons why "Wheat" women choose "Chaff" men, but I do know that I've done it myself," [a friend] says. "But maybe this is the key: terrible men can be terribly amusing. There's a fine line between humour and hurt; between what's powerfully insightful and connecting, and what's cruel and, often, stupid. Sometimes we women get mixed up while we're laughing."

These sorts of articles are not, as you know, the domain of the Magazine. Though a few of the words in that paragraph - "terrible", "terribly amusing", "fine line", "humour", "hurt", "powerfully insightful and connecting", "cruel", "often stupid", "mixed up" and above all "wheat" and "chaff" - so aptly sum up what the Magazine is about.

Now if only there was a way - say, perhaps a round-the-clock Twitter feed? - to keep up with the Magazine's thoughts on all these matters?

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:03 UK time, Wednesday, 21 May 2008

"All I wanted was some clams" - Kim Cattrall, on how fame means she gets stuck at the fish counter talking sex with fans.

kimcattrall.gifWhile the woman who plays man-eater Samantha in Sex and the City appreciates being recognised, there is a time and a place. Although this anecdote serves as a reminder of a second memorable episode (after the tantric sex workshop), in which the women swap war stories about bad kissers. "The clam," shudders Samantha, demonstrating a tongue lazily lying in one place. Do not try this at home.

Your Letters

16:31 UK time, Tuesday, 20 May 2008

kiwi.jpgRe: Twitter feed questioning why NZ cricket team's sponsor looks like the 1970s Lloyds Bank. The National Bank of New Zealand was owned by Lloyds between 1966 and 2003 and has permission to use the logo until 2010. Also, Kiwi's don't tend to go in for upgrading logos purely for aesthetics - when I lived there I asked a Kiwi mate why certain packets in the supermarkets looked like they were made in the 70's. My friend couldn't see the point in updating them just to look more modern.
Kim Horstmanshof, Twickenham

Can a barrister be struck off for using too many awful puns? If so, I'd like to nominate Justin Gau for his dentist-based quips.
Adam, Belfast, UK

Now I know Sir Alex likes to have a good old moan at referees, but surely actually prosecuting them goes a bit too far?
Adrian, Aberystwyth

Oh BBC, you do spoil us with this nominative determinism. So, who collected and analysed all the data in this story?
Colin Edwards, Exeter (back in the league!)

This might be a bit late, but Monday's Daily mini-quiz answer is wrong. I've just consulted a bottle of Pimms and the recommendation is three parts lemonade to one part Pimms. So 1/4 of a pint of pure Pimms at 25% is about 3.5 units. Similarly assuming a 330ml bottle of alcopops the correct answer is half a pint of lager.
Ed, Clacton, UK

I can't help but wonder whether I'm the only person who knows the difference between "quote" and "quotation". I've forgiven it on here for quite some time but hearing the misuse of "quote" on Radio 4....blasphemy!
Gina, Finchley
Monitor note: Yes, but...

To Val Clachan of Cardiff (Your Letters, Friday) who is "totally fed up of newsreaders and traffic reporters saying "bin" instead of "been". The phrase is "totally fed up with", not of.
Mark, Guildford

Re: "Obama seeks to extend poll lead". While I understand politics works in strange ways in the USA, how does a candidate manage to secure 0.5 of a delegate, as the pledged delegate tally for Mr Obama: 1,610.5 suggests?
DS, Croydon, England

Re (Your Letters, Monday), Monitor, would that be 130 geese pecking once a minute or nine geese pecking fourteen times a minute with a tenth taking its time so as not to get indigestion?
Edd, Cardiff

Re Nan-twitch v Nant-witch (Your Letters, Monday), I've spent the day saying both and as far as I can fathom they are indistinguishable. Unless you say them like Captain Kirk.
Richard Place, Barnstaple

I've always pronounced Crewe Cree-wee.
Am I wrong then?
Paul, Singapore

Re Tuesday's Quote of the Day, I suppose it's fortunate that nobody will be suggesting that they should eat cake.
David, Bath, UK

So, the Duchess of York has never heard of water meters?
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

Trish in Scotland (Your Letters, Monday) is not alone with this new fangled Twitter being blocked. The powers that be in Dubai, UAE, have deemed the content inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates. Yikes.

Lindsay, Dubai, UAE

Paper Monitor

10:47 UK time, Tuesday, 20 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

As the credit crunch begins to bite, it looks like the environment is so yesterday for Indy readers. Where once a dolphin and "CRUELTY" headline combo would have sufficed, today's Independent presents readers with an emotive tale that is closer to home.

"ABANDONED: Are Britain's pets the latest victims of the credit crunch?" is today's front page headline, atop a picture of several doe-eyed puppies peering out of a cage.

Beware Indy faithful who thought the big difference between their paper of choice and the Daily Mail was that only the latter would tug on readers' heartstrings by using sentimental, soft-focus pictures of domestic creatures... page two carries the story of Clyde, an eight-week-old puppy who was thrown down a rubbish chute.

So was Clyde's plight one of the more unlikely side effects of the credit crunch? It is, according to the paper, "difficult to say exactly why he was abandoned".

But, with Blue Peter-style overtones, there's reassurance for those upset about poor Clyde. "He has really rallied and we are sure he is going to be fine." Phew.

Paper Monitor will be keeping a close eye on the Indy for progress reports on Clyde - any news will be relayed through the Magazine's recession-proof Twitter feed... just as soon as those technical folk at Twitter HQ can sort out their IT gremlins.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:07 UK time, Tuesday, 20 May 2008

"You can turn on the tap and drink water without having to pay for it" - austerity advice from the Duchess of York.duchess_quote.gif

While attacking some quarters of the press for calling her 19-year-old daughter Beatrice overweight, the Duchess of York also managed to get in a plug for her latest TV venture. In the two-part reality show on ITV, the former wife of Prince Andrew spends time living with a low-income family from Hull, advising them on how to lose weight... hence this gobbet of sage dietry advice, which has added pertinence given the austerity measures many families are facing at the moment. Oh for the wisdom of the wealthy...

Your Letters

16:06 UK time, Monday, 19 May 2008

With the current coverage of the forthcoming Crewe & Nantwich by-election, I was wondering if you could clarify if BBC presenters have been instructed how to pronounce Nantwich? I was born in Crewe (and lived there for 20 years) and have always used Nan-twitch. Some of your presenters seem to use this pronunciation, but many others (including Anita Anand on Radio 5 Live), go with Nant-witch (as in North-witch). Fortunately, Crewe does not cause such a problem.
Andrew Brown, Twickenham

The hybrid embryo picture looks like a garden from the Chelsea Flower show.
Claire, Nottingham

Re The maths of Eurovision voting. There is another explanation - other countries enter better songs than we do. I've listened to all of this year's 43 entries a couple of times and even though I like Andy Abraham's entry, and even though he doesn't have to take part in a semi-final to reach the final, there are other songs I like more (some from the Balkan and Scandinavian blocs). The UK will be lucky to reach the top 10; I've not seen the performances though, so some of those might influence the voting rather than it being purely based on the quality of the songs. I'm in two minds about Ireland's entry - it is actually quite catchy if you're still listening after the dreadful first 20 seconds. Whether it gets through the semi-final will be quite telling.
Ed, Clacton, UK

I eagerly clicked on the link to the Twitter feed today, all excited in the hopes of maybe discovering a few clues to answer the eternal question (is Paper Monitor male or female?). Imagine my crushing disappointment - intermingled with curiosity - on discovering that my workplace bans Twitter because of "adult material". My mind is well and truly boggled.
Trish, Scotland

Re the bonus question on Twitter with the answer "landscaping for fish" - after the success of Surf Science, what did staff at the University of Plymouth propose next?
John Bingham, Kingston, UK

Forget non-starting Monitor romances, I want to know whether Holly Ann Calloway accepts Dewey McAlister's invitation to dinner (Facebook set for major facelift). I do hope so; she only has six Facebook friends and an unhealthy attachment to her dog...
Martin S, Newbury, UK

Re Bob Peters' letter on chubby folk emitting CO2 when they lose weight. CO2 as a result of metabolism is carbon neutral (unless you've been eating fossil fuels). There is no net release of carbon dioxide from eating pies, only through the manufacture and delivery of said pie (and then only if either process has involved the oxidation of fossil carbon deposits).
Duncan, Hove

I think I've reached the point where I would prefer to be plump but young, rather than skinny and the age I am.
Ian, Cosenza, Italy

After reading Socks-away for 500-year-old race ), I had decided that the only fair way to distribute the knitted Monitor action figures (and avoid any imminent invasions) was to hold some form of competition, but as my Caption Comp action figure pointed out, they are no longer allowed, so you'll just have to make do with eBay. If they prove less popular than I hoped, then I shall retire them all here (Knitted house is a woolly wonder), where they can live out their days in woolly freedom, unadorned with oppressive interrobangs.
Dylan, Reading, UK

Surely a BBC reporter should know that it's not "Swashes were buckled" (Indiana Jones is back - and on form). It's "Bucklers were swashed".
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

Did anybody else, after seeing the 10 things picture by Martin Cheeseman, think to themselves "Bad dog"?
Angel, Coventry, UK

Val Clachan, who is so exercised by "been" pronounced as "bin" (Fridays letters) would quickly be driven mad if (s)he moved Down Under.
Alan, Wellington, NZ

At school near Manchester I dreamed of the chance to answer the teacher's question "Where's the bin?" with "Ah've bin 'ome fer me dinner, miss!"
Keith, Lismore, Ireland

Does Helen spend all her time travelling around England, sending letters to the Monitor?
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

A spider web's strength is equivalent to roughly 10 times the strength of steel. A random fact, but always good for filling those awkward silences with...
Alex Murray, Camberley, UK
Monitor note: And feeding geese peck 130 times a minute.

Paper Monitor

11:24 UK time, Monday, 19 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"Welcome back, Indy. Lord knows we've missed you," says the Times. Yes, as the Independent breaks into bloom after so long in its habitual black (and sometimes red to denote a particularly gloomy poster front page), someone notices.

Like a librarian who suddenly shakes out her bun and removes her horn-rimmed spectacles, today's Indy looks lovely in a blaze with colour. The strapline is a very fetching purply-pink, accessorised with feelgood words like "fashionable florals" and "picnic baskets". OK, there's still a CRUELTY-style headline over the golden fields and blue skies that adorn its front page, but doesn't it look pretty?

Oh. Hold on. Not that Indy. Because even the Indy (yes, that one) devotes page three to a review of the other Indy. Jones, that is, back after 19 years. How do the critics rate the film?
• four enthusiastic stars out of five from the Times and always excitable Daily Express
• two from the Guardian (plus a headline about "Indy mania" and a tidy description of Cate Blanchett as a "very, very attractive and taller version of Rosa Klebb")
• the Dailies Telegraph and Mail don't go in for star ratings, but neither critic sounds that enthusiastic
• a mere two stars from the Indy, with two references to "Indy" to match. The good professor is, for the most part, called Jones by the Indy (confused yet?)
• and while love interest Karen Allen's red dress scores just two crystal skulls from the Daily Mirror, co-star Cate secures five for her storm-grey effort and curvy post-pregnancy figure.

With a mixed bag like that, it's hard to know what to think. Which is, traditionally, where the Magazine comes into the equation. If only there was a cunning way to be able to know just what's the Magazine is thinking around the clock.

What? You mean there is such a way? And it's called The Magazine's Twitter feed??

Well that is a must for me.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:18 UK time, Monday, 19 May 2008

"I wouldn't believe all you read in the Rich List. If I was only worth that, I'd be embarrassed" - Dragon Theo Paphitis takes a dim view of his £135m listing in the Sunday Times Rich List

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Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis is, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, the 581st richest person in the country. And that's only 581st equal. It would be understandable if Paphitis is a bit miffed - fellow Dragons Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones are above him on the list.

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