BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 12, 2009 - April 18, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

17:32 UK time, Friday, 17 April 2009

10_ypudds.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Squatters take over islands, as well as homes.
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2. White wine has more calories than red wine.
More details (Daily Mail)

3. Some ants reproduce without sex.
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4. About 15% of the world's wine bottles have screw caps.
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5. If you list your religion as Jedi on the census, the Office of National Statistics will class this as atheist.
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6. Pandas prefer artificial sweetener to sugar.
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7. Pigs are the fourth most intelligent animals.
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8. Being sorry originally meant to be distressed and sad.
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9. About one in 30 people suffers from agoraphobia.
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10. A thrown shoe is considered an insult in India, as well as the Middle East, where George Bush famously dodged a lobbed loafer.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Liam Whelan in Barnsley for this week's picture of 10 Yorkshire puddings.

Your Letters

16:58 UK time, Friday, 17 April 2009

Urban myth alert! (Letters, Weds) The baseball World Series is NOT named after The World magazine. It was originally billed as the World Series Championship, and the name has been shortened over the years. Try Googling it - any number of sites will confirm this.
Alan, London, UK

Was it Eddie Izzard who said "Just like the Americans. Have something called the World Series, and not invite anyone else"?
Rachel, Minnetonka

Only after the third "bairns" in this article did I have any idea what they were!
George, Bristol

Re. the "sorry" article: "But the very phrase itself would not have been heard in the way we now understand it before the start of the last century." I'm certain this usage has been around for more than nine years.
Jon Barnes, Bridgend

Can somebody please explain to me why exactly there are no requirements to label calories in alcoholic beverages? It has clearly been an issue for a long time.
Michael, Lincoln

Nice to hear that the Olympic Media Centre can hold five jumbo jets . But why would anybody want it to? And how many double decker buses is that, anyway?
Adam, London, UK

Lee, Birmingham (Letters, Thurs) A good idea, and I predict that you'd come up with an amazing title for that film. But the end result would be entirely disappointing...
The Bob, Glasgow

Can someone please explain where the "Bay" part in many internet companies' names, ie eBay, Pirate Bay etc comes from?
Rob, London, UK

This pothole certainly gets around - Birmingham and Essex Alan, Southampton UK

Caption Competition

13:15 UK time, Friday, 17 April 2009


Winning entries in the caption competition.

The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

teapartytaxprotest424ap.jpgThis week it was an American tea party.

Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. archyogi
"No!" said the Englishman. "The teabag goes in first, then the water!"

5. Woundedpride
"Y'know, I've been comin' to these US coffee sales conventions every year, and every year the end of week party just gets better and better."

4. captioncorelli
Jaws was ready for the taste test.

3. AmusedofSwindon
Gulliver's morning cuppa is an ordeal for the catering staff.

2. jtotheglo
Willy never really properly adjusted back into the wild.

1. sarahtrieste
Global warming eventually reaches boiling point.

Paper Monitor

11:19 UK time, Friday, 17 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

A year is a long time in the Times newsroom.

Its front page declares a new cause to champion. "Councils' surveillance powers are being used to enforce petty regulations," it declares.

So what "petty regulations" are these? Well, "minor offences such as dog fouling and litter", it says.

Rewind 12 months and the same paper enlisted the help of author Bill Bryson to spearhead a campaign against - you know - nasty people throwing rubbish on the ground.

So "minor" was littering considered to be in April 2008 that it merited nine Times articles in five days, each one wringing its hands about "trash-scattering motorists" and "rubbish-dumpers".

In an editorial, the paper bemoaned how litterers were going unpunished. But it could see hope on the horizon in the shape of new powers being used to catch offenders.

"New plans to empower councils to use existing traffic cameras to fine registered keepers for any litter thrown from cars are therefore welcome," it proclaimed.

Elsewhere, good to see the Daily Mail keeping up its freaky-animal-antics quota, but readers could be forgiven for feeling a little underwhelmed this time. On page three, it features a "fox that thinks it's a dog".

By doing what? Curling up comfortably in someone's living room? Going for walkies? Eating from Fido's bowl? Not quite. By standing up. Unlike the story, some might cruelly add.

Let's close with some creative headlines for the picture of David Beckham posing as The Terminator for a new advert:

"I'LL BE BECK" - Sun and Daily Star
"X-RAY BECKS" - Daily Mirror

Cue collective sighs from all caption competition fans...

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:38 UK time, Friday, 17 April 2009

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

"I take full responsibility for what happened. That's why the person who was responsible went immediately" - Gordon Brown gets a little mixed up over the 'smeargate' row.

Ordinary members of the public often wonder at the ability of politicians to smoothly address large audiences without making a slip-up. So it's always refreshing when they make a rick. Gordon Brown is apparently not announcing that his resignation has already occurred. He just had a misspeak.
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Your Letters

14:22 UK time, Thursday, 16 April 2009

Now the story that followed this headline was a tad too tame.
Busybee, Leh

"I take full responsibility for what happened. That's why the person who was responsible went immediately." Has Gordon Brown resigned without anyone noticing?
Charlie, Oxford

Surely predicting the population of the planet as a whole is a bit easier than predicting that of the UK, since there is no migration to or from the Earth? (Until we start building colonies in space, that is, or aliens land and start incensing Daily Mail readers by taking low-paid jobs.)
Keith, Dublin, Ireland

This gives me an idea for a film...
Lee, Birmingham

Is this what one calls tree surgery?
Lucy P, Ashford, Kent

I was quite surprised and confused when reading the headline "Spam 'produces 17m tons of CO2'". I mean, who would have thought so much electricity would be wasted making a canned meat product, how have they managed that... oh it's about electronic spam, ah, makes more sense now.
Lee Archer, Manchester

Violet, Leicester (Wednesday letters) I think I read somewhere that The World Series is so called as it was originally sponsered by The World Magazine. I'm sure our American readers can confirm or deny this.
Paul, Oxford UK

I'd like to be one of the many people replying to Violet (Wednesday letters) setting straight her egregious slur on the World Series; named after the original sponsor of the seven-game series - the Chicago World newspaper. AND it's not US v Canada, it's the NL champ v the AL champ (NL and AL being the two leagues of baseball over here - akin to the Rugbys League and Union as there as slight differences in rules between the two).
eddyozman, Englishman in New York, USofA

Paper Monitor

10:18 UK time, Thursday, 16 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

When newspapers first really got going in Britain in the 18th Century, life for the editors was much simpler.

Apart from anything, there were no photos. Nowadays, when you've got amusing animal stories or attractive upper crust ladies, you thank your lucky stars for the ability to print photos.

But when you have a story where you have to resort to a "generic" photo, you are not so happy.

So it is on page 15 of the Daily Express. The story is about teachers buying their own body armour to protect them in increasingly violent classrooms. Alongside, there's an image marked "PICTURE POSED BY MODELS" and it is a peach. A man in 1980s glasses looking rather like the American actor Rolf Saxon is engaged in a titanic struggle with a boy.

Over in the Daily Mail, they are tackling science as only they know how. Under the headline "ARE ALL WAGS STUPID?" they try to evaluate the burning issues of the day.

"Are all librarians dowdy spinsters?" and "Are redheads always feisty?" will no doubt be straight into the GCSE textbooks. For those after a crib sheet, the answers are no, no, and hard to say but they do have more sex than women with other hair colours.

Meanwhile, a number of papers lead with the Hillsborough disaster anniversary.

Even the Sun carries five pages of coverage, although it finds no room to mention that it is still boycotted by many on Merseyside because of its reporting at the time of the tragedy.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:20 UK time, Thursday, 16 April 2009

"I wouldn't mind being resuscitated by you" - Silvio Berlusconi turns on the charm with a doctor.

There are some in Britain who think that Italian politics is, well, a bit more interesting. It's hard to see any reason for this being the case past the presence of Silvio Berlusconi and his string of bon mots, or gaffes depending on your perspective. In this case, his words were prompted by an encounter with a red-haired doctor in the earthquake zone.
More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

15:22 UK time, Wednesday, 15 April 2009

"Government behaviour adviser Sir Alan Steer is expected to say in a report that satisfactory 'isn't good enough'."

You know, I'm pretty certain that is exactly what satisfactory means. Perhaps Sir Alan (no relation?) needs to take an English class or two?
Dan, Cambridge

Tyler from Oxford (Tuesday letters): sorry to spoil it but "reject" is the verb there... The BBC, august organisation that it is, doesn't go in for verb-less headlines like the Sun or the Daily Mail very much. A Sun headline such as "Vicar in bed shame saga" would no doubt be rendered as "Local vicar discovered in 'shaming bed tryst'"...
Mark, Reading, UK

This is rather confusing - does the word Amazonian refer to the where the ants live or their lifestyle or both?
Ray, Turku, Finland

"The choice of the US presidential pooch had been a pet topic for the nation's press". Oh, very good.
Rick P, Oxford, UK

Potential quote of the day?: "It very quickly dawned on me that they were actually a bunch of massive chavs."
Adrian, Sheffield, UK

To Ian, Redditch (Tuesday letters): The US President is referred to as Leader of the Free World in the same way as the US v Canada knockabout is called the World Series.
Violet, Leicester

Paper Monitor

11:52 UK time, Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Reputation has it that doctors have the worst handwriting. It's usually an unreadable scrawl that looks like a spider has walked across the page with a pen in each of its eight legs.

But it would appear Prime Minister Gordon Brown is up there with them. The Times has very kindly made public the private letter he sent to Tory MP Nadine Dorries. She was mentioned in e-mails sent by his former senior aide Damian McBride, which discussed smearing senior Conservatives.

Well, Paper Monitor THINKS it's about the e-mails. While the paper has printed the letter, it's a struggle to read it. All the other papers blur the text of the letter but they needn't have bothered. Written in thick, black pen, it's right up there with your average prescription when it comes to fathoming exactly what's written. It even looks like he's signed it from Candy or Cindy. Surely not?

There's a major gratuitous-use-of-scantily-clad-women alert in the papers today. The Mirror uses the entirely un-newsworthy story of Princess Eugenie wearing denim shorts while on holiday to shoehorn seven other pictures of female celebrities in denim shorts onto the page. That must be a record.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:42 UK time, Wednesday, 15 April 2009

"Bang" - What civil war re-enacters were asked to shout instead of firing weapons.

The members of the Sor Thomas Lunsford's Regiment of Foote, a unit of re-enacters from the English Civil War Society were rather excited by the chance to give an Easter demonstration at Clarke Hall in west Yorkshire. They became rather less excited when they were told that as explosions could shatter the old windows, they should shout "bang" instead of firing their replica weapons.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

15:17 UK time, Tuesday, 14 April 2009

I'm getting a sense of deja vu...
1. This story
2. And this story
3. And this story
Lee , Birmingham

How appropriate, Twitter caught by a worm...
Fred, Rotherham

Continuing the occasional theme of headlines so good that the stories can only disappoint, I would like to nominate Thieving dwarves cause supernovae.
Ozzie Becca, Queensland, Australia.

All this talk of who's got the largest democracy is confusing me. If America isn't the biggest democracy or even biggest nuclear democracy, why is the US President referred to as Leader of the Free World?
Ian, Redditch

Alan Addison, Glasgow (Thursday letters): "If we are going by population (to define the largest democracy) then it is China". Ever the optimist, eh?
Martin, Bristol, UK

With all respect to Procol Harum, they have a long way yet to go before they become the most durable hit of all time. A Whiter Shade of Pale was written in 1967, so it is now 42 years old. The greatest hit of all time, L'Homme Arme, was written by Guillaume Dufay in 1435, and sampled as the theme for over 70 hit masses ever since, nearly 600 years: the last take was in 2003.
Rahere, Smithfield

To be fair, Rob (Monday letters), we've had the CCTV cameras in Manchester for several years as well.
Kirk Northrop, Manchester, UK

To Jude and Mark Williams, both from Down Under (Monday letters), I think you will sympathise with the last sentence of High-speed sex costly in Norway.
Rahere, Smithfield

Re High-speed sex costly in Norway story, did anyone else find something suspect about the line "After filming the exploit for evidence, they pulled them over at a rest area."
Sarah, London

Snakecitygirl, New Windsor, NY (Monday letters), I've just tried your standard signal and, short of dislocating my wrists, I'm sure that whatever I was trying to stop would have happened or run me over... I think a flat hand, palm outwards accompanied by a very loud "STOOOOOOOOOOP!" works quite well.
J Paul Murdock, Wall Heath, UK

Why do you let people like Mr Heath-Renn (Monday letters) ruin our headline spotting fun? (PS. Does this count as an all-noun headline?)
Tyler, Oxford

Helen (Thursday letters), the print and online editions of the OED gives pronunciations using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Since you have access to search engines, you should be able to find out all about it and pronounce to your heart's content.
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

Paper Monitor

11:39 UK time, Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It is, perhaps, a piece of celebrity endorsement the new President of the United States might wish the photo editors had "left off" (Paper Monitor's passim) - Phil Spector, on his way into court, sporting a "Barack Obama rocks" badge on his lapel.

For this is the photo that graces the front page of the Daily Express, after he was found guilty of murdering actress and cocktail waitress Lana Clarkson - "wearing a slightly more conservative dark brown wig than usual", the paper notes.

Clarkson left the bar where she worked with the pop legend after he left a $450 tip for a $13 drink, reports the Times, adding that the jury of his peers included a bus driver, a social worker and a postal clerk.

There is something very compelling about the American convention of shining a spotlight on those who sit in judgement on prominent cases. But wait, the Times has more: "Of the six men and six woman on the jury, three were gun owners, seven knew someone who had committed suicide, and one described himself as a fan of Spector."

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail speculates that Madonna's sepia-toned shot of her cuddling a sleeping Malawian girl may have had a few things "left off" too. The paper - never shy to jump on a woman for looking too thin, too old, too cleavage-y etc etc - reckons that it may have been airbrushed "to make the pop star to appear angelic, blemish-free and young".

Come now. If you had a choice between showing people a photo of you looking radiant, or a snap in which your hair is limp, your face shiny or your eyes puffy, which would you choose? Not that Paper Monitor is suggesting Madonna's normal appearance is any of the latter - and, one hopes, nor would she suggest the same of your humble correspondent.

And finally, a return to an occasional theme, that of the economics of newspapers. Last week Paper Monitor stopped at a newsstand to buy a posh choccy egg for the price of the Evening Standard - with a free copy of the Evening Standard thrown in. Paper Monitor thought about buying two, but decided that would have been too much news in one sitting.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:31 UK time, Tuesday, 14 April 2009

"They say that television makes you look fat and it certainly did. I looked like a garage" - Britain's Got Talent hopeful Susan Boyle gets a fright.

Yes, it's that time of year again. Plucky hopefuls are plucked out of obscurity and thrust into national limelight on Britain's Got Talent. Whether it's playing the spoons or daring to be able to sing without looking like a model, the show claims to celebrate the diversity of fame seekers.
More details (Daily Mirror)

Your Letters

13:50 UK time, Monday, 13 April 2009

Ewan (Letters, Thurs), It depends on how far back in the etymology of democracy you want to go. The popularly used root "demo" is that meaning "common people", or just "people", so India is by far a bigger democracy (35 times the population of Canada). However, previous to that, it meant "district", in which case Canada would hold that crown (nearly five times the land area of India).
Mark Esdale, Bridge

Well, if we are going by the size of the country then Russia is the largest democracy. If we are going by population then it is China.
Alan Addison, Glasgow, UK

And the award for most bewildering out-of-context headline of the year goes to... "Stoner streaks to pole in Qatar"
Mark Williams, Oamaru, New Zealand

Gareth (Letters, Thurs), "aids" is a verb in that headline.
Frederick Heath-Renn, London, UK

Re Over-egging "Easter eggs are obviously one of the worst examples of excessive packaging you can find." Surely Ms. Swinson means they are one of the best examples?
Jill B., Detroit

So the Marbles World Championship is claiming "Cabbaging" as a rule? I think it's a sport in itself.
Jordan D, London, UK

Your reporter needs to get out more. These CCTV cars are not "the first of their kind in the UK". We've had them in London for a few years now.
Rob, London, UK

On 10 things we didn't know last week (3 April 2009), item #3, the standard American signal to stop is NOT crossed arms, this is a uniquely government signal. The standard signal used in the motor trades, construction, etc. is two closed fists with palms facing outwards, held out from in front of the body.
snakecitygirl, New Windsor,NY,USA

Is Helen from Lancs (Letters, Thurs), really trying to imply that "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" refers to The Queen? I think there's a reasonable chance that would be considered treason...
Ian, Bristol

"No 10 official quits over e-mails" says the headline. Well even though no 10 official quits, one from No. 10 did...
Anne, Jersey

Re: This story, Was it just me who stroked my arm at 'optimum speed' to find out if it was true?
A very contented Jude, Melbourne, Australia

Paper Monitor

12:43 UK time, Monday, 13 April 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Independent is first to pick up a delicious story concerning actor musician Billy Bob Thornton's disastrous tour of Canada.

Fans of the actor musician probably thought events couldn't possibly take a turn for the worse after a tetchy radio interview in which he took exception in no uncertain termsto being described as an Oscar-winner.

But now the tour has been cancelled (officially due to flu) after he described Canadian fans as like "mashed potatoes with no gravy", sparking angry scenes at his subsequent gig. Amid a chorus of boos, large sections of the audience reportedly shouted "Here comes the gravy!"

The Daily Telegraph's Canadian connections are probably not what they were, but it outdoes the Sun with a gem of a picture story.

In images side by side, there are sunbathers stripped to the waist in Plymouth, next to drenched holidaymakers in Suffolk. It has to be a British bank holiday.

The Sun's weather story is much more prosaic, but it does have the most creative headline for the e-mail smear story currently dominating Westminster: "MCBRIDE AND PREJUDICE"

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:40 UK time, Monday, 13 April 2009

"It was like doing a magic trick. We were just pulling out one sock after another" - Vet Keith Moore after pulling assorted clothes out of dog Bailey

When Nicola Perrett was told her golden retriever may have a tumour, she cried all morning. But instead vets found a happier reason for Bailey's lump. Or 17 reasons to be precise, including socks, rugby gloves and a towel.

More details (Telegraph)

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