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Archives for June 21, 2009 - June 27, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

16:19 UK time, Friday, 26 June 2009

10cv_226.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Camels travel by train.
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2. Buddhist monks sleep upright.
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3. Four-legged animals need to avoid doing "wheelies".
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4. Seagulls attack whales.
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5. If you use a tool for a while, your brain can mentally incorporate it into your body.
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6. The UK has the ability to launch "cyber attacks".
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7. British-style black cabs are now driven in China.
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8. Every film in which actress Dame Judi Dench swears results in complaints to the BBFC.
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9. There is a long tradition of "medals of dishonour".
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10. Chilli can be used as a weapon in crowd control.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Terry Donovan for his picture of 10 yellow Citroen 2CVs.

Your Letters

14:57 UK time, Friday, 26 June 2009

Very good pun but I fear not quite up to the standard of Welsh tiling company Bonnie Tiler.
Zoe, London, UK

Adrian (Thursday's Letters). Any species dying out is bad for the following reasons: anything that eats the now extinct animal will starve, or eat more of its other prey, reducing their populations; anything that the now extinct animal used to eat will suffer fewer deaths and the population will grow, meaning that it requires more of its own food, reducing the population of that. So extinction of one species can lead to more extinctions.
Jim, Coventry

"Web slows after Jackson's death" - so if Google, Twitter, AOL, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and Yahoo all have high traffic, the ENTIRE INTERNET is "slow"? I certainly had trouble receiving emails this morn-- oh wait, no I didn't!
PB, London

Regarding the Abercrombie and Fitch article, the girl is claiming unfair dismissal because of a cardigan, and so you use a photo of an Abercrombie and Fitch model... in a cardigan?
Basil Long, Nottingham

The only two questions I got right on this week's quiz were about Michael Jackson and Nazi cows. An excellent cross section I feel.
Kahla, Leeds

Eye pod shuffle?
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

Caption Competition

13:49 UK time, Friday, 26 June 2009


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.


This week, a dog in a pram (and it's a stuffed dog). But what's being said?

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

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

6. DerekT1966
"Oh no. If the dog is in the pushchair, that means the toddler is at the vet."

5. groundhog44
Don't blame it on the sunshine, blame it on the buggy.

4. MuteJoe
"Hey, get me! In the middle of nowhere and I can *still* climb on the furniture!"

3. martinjaycee
Amid swingeing cost cuts at the BBC, Doctor Who producers unveil next season's Davros.

2. ladyofastolat
Baby's first buggy ride ended in tears when it started raining hats and dogs.

1. youngWillz
A very British re-enactment of the final scene of Death In Venice.

Weekly Bonus Question

11:28 UK time, Friday, 26 June 2009


Welcome to the Weekly Bonus Question.

Each week the news quiz 7 days 7 questions will offer an answer. You are invited to suggest what the question might have been.

Suggestions should be sent using the COMMENTS BOX IN THIS ENTRY. And since nobody likes a smart alec, kudos will be deducted for predictability in your suggestions.

This week's answer is POPPY PADDOCKS.

UPDATE, 1750 BST: The correct answer is this is where wallabies have been making crop circles, after eating opium poppies and then hopping around "as high as a kite".

Paper Monitor

10:40 UK time, Friday, 26 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The most fraught time for a huge story to break - at least, for newspaper editors - is about 10pm.

Staffing is low and the printers are rolling with the next day's first editions.

So the timing of the announcement of Michael Jackson's death will have provided a huge challenge, requiring cool heads and quick thinking.

The Sun, which is always one of the first papers to hit the news-stands, devotes five pages to the story and claims to have the last picture taken of him, from two days ago.

Its red-top rival, the Daily Mirror, has seven pages including recollections by reporter Fiona Cummins, who met him several times.

There are some illuminating details from her, including the "lavender smell of his skin", his natural look with no-makeup, and his warm embrace.

The Daily Mail and the Independent acted fast to replace the BBC expenses story that filled the front pages of their first editions.

The Independent, which used to take pride in ignoring the rest of the pack on a big story, does no trend-bucking this time around, with a full-page picture of Jackson above the simple headline "THE KING OF POP IS DEAD".

The first, Jacko-free Mail and Indy front pages can be seen on the the Sky picture gallery.

And one last footnote: the Mail's fascination with BBC presenter Kate Silverton reaches a new level with this story about her size nine feet.

A case of over-stepping the mark?

Friday's Quote of the Day

10:16 UK time, Friday, 26 June 2009

"Lino Ritchie" - a flooring company in Dublin takes its name from a certain US singer

Shop names often use puns, but there's something particularly charming about this Irish firm drawing on Lionel Ritchie for inspiration. It's a delightful play on words that has been brought to the wider world by a well-known, popular culture gossip website.

Your Letters

15:32 UK time, Thursday, 25 June 2009

Regarding this "shock revelation": have the investigators at Which? not watched "Supersize Me"? It was even given away free with some newspapers last year...
Justie, London

I'd always thought this was down to French chefs...
Paul Greggor, London

Being a long time reader, but never a commentor, I felt I must comment on Jon & Kate (always in that order, to ensure it rhymes with "plus 8"). They're famous for having eight children (twins and sextuplets), a reality TV show and now a divorce.
Beth, Peterborough, Canada

Aine (Wednesday's letters), a bullock is less threat than a cow as its source of testosterone has been cut off, and it will never have a calf to defend. If cattle approach you menacingly, back off slowly, holding your arms out to the sides to make yourself look bigger.
Alan, Stockport/UK

To Kevin (Wednesday Letters) May I point out that the use of "Tome" rather than "Time" is not a typo? It's a play on words. Definition: "A book, especially a large heavy book on a serious subject" or: "a single volume of a book made up of several volumes".
Robyn, Cheshire

I am struggling to see why this is a bad news story.
Adrian, London, UK

Web Monitor

14:15 UK time, Thursday, 25 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

There's a big revolution happening in fashion and it's not about the colours blue or green, but all will be revealed in today's Web Monitor. Recommend your favourite links by sending us a comment.

Beth Ditto• Fashion writer Renata Espinosa reports in the Daily Beast on an online revolution in fashion on the eve of the full figured fashion week in New York. The Fatosphere - the online community in support of fat acceptance - has spawned the fatshionista, what Espinosa says is an oft-overlooked group of plus-sized women who want high-end fashion, epitomised in the Fatshionista website. Beth Ditto, as the obvious figure head of this movement is cashing in by releasing a clothing range for Evans clothes shop. In the meantime, blog Fat Girls Like Fashion Too and Young Fat and Fabulous keep the movement going.

• Green is the new blue, according to the bad astronomy blog. An optical illusion is doing the rounds of the blogs which appears to be a green, blue and pink spiral but turns out to be an optical illusion, making green seem blue. It sets out to prove that the perception of colour is created by comparing it with surrounding colours. Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy concludes:

"You cannot trust what you see even with your own eyes. So the next time someone swears they saw Jesus, or a UFO, or a ghost, show them this picture. What you see in life is absolutely and provably not what you get."

Archaeologist Charles Stanish says in Archeology magazine that fake antiquities on Ebay have saved the antiques industry. More than 10 years on from Ebay's launch, he says his greatest fear that the internet auction site would democratize antiquities trafficking and lead to widespread looting couldn't be further from the truth:
"We feared that an unorganized but massive looting campaign was about to begin, with everything from potsherds to pieces of the Great Wall on the auction block for a few dollars. But a very curious thing has happened. It appears that electronic buying and selling has actually hurt the antiquities trade.
How is it possible? The short answer is that many of the primary "producers" of the objects have shifted from looting sites to faking antiquities."

Alec Baldwin• Prolific Huffington Post blogger, actor Alec Baldwin compares the affair of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to the depreciation of the dollar saying it's not worthy of attention:

"The rest of the world is about to kick this country right where it counts when it decides to go off the dollar as the reserve currency, and you want to spend five minutes over the fact that Sanford was cheating on his wife? Don't take the bait. Move on."

• Protests in Australia about a spate of attacks against Indians have prompted Outlook India Magazine to look at how racist their own country is. A look at experiences of black people in India includes two British cheerleaders who were excluded from an event because they were black. Debarshi Dasgupta asks where the prejudice comes from:

"Of course, the Indian prejudice against the 'shyam varna' is as old as Hindu mythology itself. 'When Krishna literally means dark,' says Mumbai-based mythology expert Devdutt Pattanaik, 'why is he always portrayed in blue rather than in natural black?' Comics and TV serials routinely depict evil (the demons) as dark and good (the gods) as fair."

• It turns out the wheel has been reinvented and patented, according to Smithsonian magazine. The first patent involving a wheel was in 1791, which was a design for a horizontal, hollow water wheel to create hydropower for mills. An over-balanced wheel is also the earliest and most common design for a perpetual motion device - something that, if successful would continue creating more energy than it used forever. However, the US patent office refuses to assess claims for perpetual motion devices unless inventors can produce working models.

Paper Monitor

10:59 UK time, Thursday, 25 June 2009


A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Everyone loves a tennis upset, and every newspaper editor loves a leggy lady in Wimbledon whites.

So after yesterday's defeat of Maria Sharapova by Argentine upstart Gisela Dulko, there are no prizes for guessing which story makes a front page picture in many of today's papers. The only dilemma is which of the two lithesome women to feature.

News sense surely dictates it should be Dulko. After all, she is the hitherto unheard of overnight sensation. The Daily Mail goes for Dulko, albeit in a negligee rather than tennis whites.

The Indy also goes for Dulko, though in her work wear. But Paper Monitor is forced to deduct points for the paper's flagrant use of the SW19 synonym.

The Daily Telegraph opts for a three-quarter length Sharapova.

But the real giant killer is ball girl Chloe Chambers, who took up the racket for an on-court knockabout with Tommy Haas. Both the Times and the Daily Express opt for Chambers as their cover girl, and there's strong evidence of newspaper ESP (Editorially Similar Promotion) with "Who says the Brits can't shine at Wimbledon?" (Times) and "Who says British girls are no good at tennis?" (Express)

And finally, an aside relating to Wednesday's Guardian - G2, specifically - read during one's homeward commute. Much of it concerned the tactics of the weekly glossy gossip mags (Grazia, In Touch, Hello!, National Enquirer etc) in driving the love triangle narrative of Brangelina 'n' Jen.

But Paper Monitor became increasingly distracted by the covers of said glossies illustrating the piece, hypnotised into reading every tagline, an endless cycle of "Brad moves out!" "Jen alone!" "Angelina fight backs!".

All the while, a nagging question began to form in one's mind. Kate 'n' Jon. Who?

For the twists and turns of this pair's tortured entanglement is given similar prominence to Brad 'n' Angelina 'n' Jen in the US titles - often beating the A-listers the main cover story. But Kate who? And Jon who?

Perhaps some of our American friends might shed light on the matter, using the comments box.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:30 UK time, Thursday, 25 June 2009

"I was treated like a terrorist for biting a granary roll" - Tesco customer who started eating a baked item before paying for it.

David Bowes says he was paying for the roll at the time, only to be manhandled by security guards and banned from every Tesco store in the land. The supermarket giant disputes his version of events, and the ban only applies to the Exeter store.
More details (The Sun, and that's not a granary roll in the photo)

Web Monitor

17:17 UK time, Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Moon landings, hip-hop and Leishmaniasis disease have nothing in common, apart from their shared place on Web Monitor, where we bring together the most interesting bits of the internet. Recommend your favourite links by sending us a comment.

Buzz AldrinWeb Monitor has written before about rap not being just about fast cars and loose women anymore - it can be about nuclear physics, design coding and now about the moon landing. The second man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, has revealed: "I have only two passions - space exploration and hip-hop." And teamed up with Snoop Dogg to make a song celebrating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. USA Today revealed the "making of" video on Will Ferrell's comedy website Funny or Die as a spoof. Even so, Web Monitor is happy to report that Aldrin said in the film that he's stopping the Earth/moon rivalry, declaring: "I don't have any beef with the Earth walkers."

• Never mind Roman ruins, a sixties hippie commune in California is the latest focus of Archaeology magazine. They're reporting on a California state archaeologist who is insisting on preserving the left-overs from the commune, which include melted trainers, scorched fabric, broken plates, a tube of 40-year-old face cream and red plastic Monopoly hotels. E. Breck Parkman is convinced these artefacts will tell the story of the years between the Summer of Love and Woodstock, what Archaeology magazine says was a period of political turbulence, generational conflict, and cultural experimentation that shaped modern America. Cue the puns about the archaeologist really digging it from

Emma Watson• Emma Watson who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter films has a few harsh words for the paparazzi in Teen Vogue. Within a discussion on how she decides what to wear in the morning and why she's determined to go to university, the actress who's been famous for more than half her life said she wasn't impressed with how photographers treated her on her 18th birthday:

"The worst thing was that they laid down on the pavement and took pictures up my skirt. Now I'm going to wear cycling shorts whenever I get out of cars."

Analysing attitudes towards animals by comparing public notices is really something that would only ever happen on the blogosphere. Korean blogger Younghee Jung travels between London, Tokyo, Helsinki, Redwood City, Pittsburgh and Seoul collecting an original view of these different places public areas. From a "dog bar" to a poster reminding people it's illegal to dump pets, Younghee wonders whether we'll ever get the balance right when it comes to our relationships with our pets.

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Mike Oldfield told Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2 (one hour 28 minutes in) that his seminal album "Tubular Bells" wasn't going to feature the instrument and certainly wasn't going be named after it:

"As I went into the manor to start recording, they were taking a set of tubular bells out, which was being used by another musician... As an after-thought I thought "hang on a moment, they might be useful" so I asked them to leave them there for my week. They did prove very useful indeed. The title for the album didn't come about till a long time later.... He [Richard Branson] decided to call it Breakfast in Bed, which made me think 'no, anything but that', which led to Tubular Bells."

• TV presenter Ben Fogle was filming Extreme Dreams last year in the Peruvian jungle when he was bitten by a sand fly that transmitted a flesh-eating bug. Fogle told the Daily Politics he's campaigning for more research for what he calls neglected diseases like this one:

"We're trying to encourage governments and manufacturers of drugs to come up with new, more cost-effective means of treatment. In the future it might not just be people overseas affected by these neglected diseases. With current global warming it might not be long until we have tropical diseases on these shores and believe me, you don't want leishmaniasis."

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Your Letters

15:51 UK time, Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Re Right ear is 'better for hearing': I work in an IT department and I've noticed that almost everyone uses their left ear. That could explain why we have a reputation for being totally unhelpful.
Steve, London Docklands

VICTORY DANCE! My first ever 7/7 on the GCSE quiz has reassured me that the degree in English Literature was not in vain...
Caroline, Bedford

To the unnamed security guard in Civilians 'train as Iraq guards': Now that you have left HM Armed Forces you too are a civilian according to the Geneva Convention.
Luke, Edinburgh

Re the brazen bigamist (Paper Monitor). Why not call it perfunctory polyandry? Sounds so much more insidious.
Candace, New Jersey, US

Why do cows attack is missing an important safety point. It implies that you are OK in a field of cattle, and only to worry if they start to act "wary". But walkers should never enter a field containing cattle, unless they know for a fact there is no bull in there. It is very easy to mistake a young bullock for a cow, and however fast you can run, a bull can run faster.
Aine, London

Pity that the headlines are not proof read. Tome Lord. Der, don't you mean Time Lord?
Kevin Jackaman, Murray Bridge, South Australia
Monitor note: Oh Kevin. You'll regret this.

Robert MacRae (Tuesday letters), with regards to puns, I thought everyone was just avoiding "the chick's in the post." because it's so obvious.
Euan, Swindon, UK

Dench swearing prompts complaints might be the best rule-of-thumb I've ever heard of. I wonder if there are similar effects for other film stars - do people complain if Jeremy Irons doesn't use a cigarette holder, for example? Or if a Michael Bay movie has a plot? Perhaps Monitorites can suggest other examples...
Dan, Cambridge

Has anyone else noticed there are more "coconut-wheel" Liquorice Allsorts and fewer of the "button" and "twist" types? Is this further evidence of credit crunch creep?
Basil Long, Nottingham
Monitor note: We look forward to researching this particular query.

Are congratulations due to Kat Gregg from Coventry (Tuesday letters)? Was she formerly Kat Murphy?
MCK, Stevenage

Discuss our English quiz

13:54 UK time, Wednesday, 24 June 2009


english_quiz226.gifOf all the subjects in the school curriculum, English literature is perhaps the hardest to test.

Why? Because answers are frequently up for discussion. While doing today's Magazine GCSE English test may instantly transport you back to a stuffy school hall on a sunny June afternoon, one key difference is there's no room in our online quiz to discuss and elaborate on your answers... until you landed on this page.

Use the comment box at the bottom of this post to discuss the answers to our quiz - it could mean the difference between an A and an A*.

Paper Monitor

12:55 UK time, Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is SO looking forward to Glastonbury (other - so many other - live-in music festivals are available).

But what to wear while slumped on the sofa, sharing toilet facilities with one's immediate family only, and swearing mildly under one's breath at how long the interactive red button multi-screen doodad takes to load, so long that one is at risk of missing Björn Again's set?

Because a Glastonbury outfit is very important indeed. Patterned wellies? Surely not. Flip-flops? Ditto - the risk of trench foot is too great, what with flip-flopping between coverage from Worthy Farm and Wimbledon.

And a waistcoat is so out (dating from when Kate dated Pete) that fashion may well have deemed it hot again, only with some arcane twist Paper Monitor is unaware of.

Fortunately, as today is the day the hordes begin their commute to Somerset, there is plenty of advice. T2 in the Times suggests a dress, shorts, wellies, a bag and a mac.

Alternatively, LA columnist Chris Ayres says extreme comfort dressing is all the rage across the Atlantic. This is more like it. An adult romper suit. With feet! Or a blanket with sleeves, so one can operate the remote while remaining snugly. If one chose a blanket in a sombre shade, it might even look a little like the outfit chosen by the new Speaker. And then one could shout "order! order!" at the cat. As it ignores you.

Meanwhile, what has one learned today? The Daily Mail reports that you can't sleep through facial tattoos after all.

And the word for someone married to five people at once is "brazen bigamist" (brazen being the old Latin term for five-at-the-same-time). The Mail, true to form, is all over the tale of the predatory ex-glamour model who counted off husbands one, two, three, four and five.

How might such a woman break the news to hubby number five that he is not the only one? On their honeymoon train to Scotland, "snuggled up in their seats... [she confessed] their marriage was a sham. Then - just in case he didn't believe her - she whipped out a sheaf of newspaper cuttings to prove it."

On behalf of newspapers everywhere, Paper Monitor apologises to the latest Mr Emily Horne.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:51 UK time, Wednesday, 24 June 2009

"I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest" - Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi pronounces on the subject of "amore".

It's all going off on the Italian political scene. Where other people equivocate, Silvio Berlusconi speaks his mind. Here he denies having ever paid for sex.
More details

Web Monitor

16:35 UK time, Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor has been clicking through the internet to bring the most interesting bits. Send us your favourite links by commenting in the box to the right of this page.

Sasha Baron CohenStephen Marche in Esquire magazine argues that Sacha Baron Cohen's newest film, Bruno, follows a trend in cultural and financial fakery. To make his latest fake personality believable, Marche says Baron Cohen set up more than two dozen shell companies (no, not petrol filling stations) for Austrian fashion presenter Bruno. Now, he argues it's our responsibility to make sure we don't get played either by investment managers selling a quick buck or by presenters promising TV time.

Salon Magazine notes that although unemployment is high in the US at the moment, ex-officials for George Bush are not among the jobless. If they aren't penning their memoirs like Donald Rumsfeld, they're getting paid to talk (George Bush himself is on a speaking tour), think for think tanks or just be talking heads on TV News. Salon concludes:

"With only former Attorney General Gonzales still out of work, grant the men and women of the Bush administration one thing: the best unemployment rate in the land."

• Whatever the economic situation in the US, it's still along way from the Horn of Africa's most troubled state. Foreign Policy has worked together with Funds for Peace to create the interactive map of the World's failed states. And top of the shop is Somalia - the world's most failed state. It scores 10 out of 10 for having a delegitimised state, poor security apparatus and prevalence of a factionalised elite. And if that's not enough to contend with, Newsbiscuit notes that however impatient the British are to claim a winner at this year's Wimbledon tennis championships, stop and think how Somali tennis fans must feel.

Web Monitor has written before about the rise of homeless people having a virtual address, be it an e-mail address, Facebook profile or Twitter account (dedicated Magazine readers will, perhaps, remember the homeless blogger-turned author, Anya Peters). Now Urlesque has alerted us to a homeless bloggers' transatlantic love story.

"Blogger Matt Barnes helps run Homeless Tales and Street Voices - both online projects dedicated to giving voices to homeless people around the globe. As he was sifting through a slew of tweets in a search related to the homeless, he came across the first online 140 character uttering by Twitter user, tGGtH - or Brianna, a blogger who writes for The Girl's Guide to Homelessness. Matt became her first follower and quickly fell head-over-heels in love."
Web Monitor is getting all dewey-eyed.

Matt explains in this own blog:

"So inaccurate is the public perception of homelessness that the world cries foul when a homeless person is seen with a mobile phone or an iPod or heaven forbid; a laptop... They sure as hell don't have the right to fall in love. Do they?"

Well apparently they do, as Brianna updates her blog today with news that Matt has visited her in the US and only flew back to Scotland today for visa reasons.

• It's festival season which means that some switch from trying to figure out how not to lose their car in a multi-storey car park to how to find their tent amongst thousands of others. The Guardian has the answer with a step-by-step guide to make your tent stand out. Web Monitor remembers back in the day when your average Glasto-goer was in such an advanced state of other dimensioness, the challenge was figuring out how to get the tent to stand UP let alone stand out.

Your Letters

15:43 UK time, Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sash windows? It could only be... Mr Wood!
Basil Long, Nottingham

I was just thinking it's been a while since we've seen Drunk Girl... so imagine my surprise on hunting out an old episode of STORYFix and seeing you-know-who at 3.21.
Joe, Salford, UK

On Thursday we were told that mortgage lending has fallen back again. On Tuesday we were told that there's been a steady rise in mortgage lending. I was expecting the financial recovery to take longer than five days.
Tony, Epsom, UK

My humble submission for most pointless BBC News video of the day goes to Man motionless on the motionless Belfast Wheel - oh look, a bird flying past.
Roobinski, Belfast

Chickens in the post! As a onetime Kansas farmboy, I can assure Web Monitor that hatcheries do indeed send ventilated boxes of new chicks through the post. A minimum order applies so they can keep themselves warm in transit. I'm struggling for a pun, but no doubt someone higher up the pecking order can think of one.
Robert MacRae, Manchester, England

Ambassador, you are spoiling us with this nominative determinism.
Kat Gregg, Coventry

Paper Monitor

10:53 UK time, Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

To blur or not to blur - not a oblique reference to today's reviews here, here and here of a certain Britpop combo's comeback gig, rather the age old picture editor's dilemma of whether to fuzz out the face of a public figure's young child.

jb226.jpgIn the case of newly elected Speaker John Bercow's toddler daughter Jemima, it's a no to blurring from the Sun, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Times. So if little Jemima Bercow wishes to labour under the illusion that her privacy is being protected, she'd be advised to stick to reading to the Independent (see pic).

The Sun, meanwhile, is in celebrative mood with a story about a girl "once dubbed Britain's Fattest Teenager" (under a strapline that reads "UK's fattest teen") who has cut her weight from 33st to 18.4st.

"I'm half the girl I used to be" runs the headline to the story of Georgia Davis. It's not the sort of maths that would pass muster with the Magazine's Michael Blastland, but let's not be churlish. Inside, the Sun revisits its original story about Georgia from last August and even republishes its sensitive picture of her presiding over a smorgasbord of high calorie grub - Jaffa Cakes, chocolate cake, chips, crisps and so on.

Girth aside, close reading also reveals that Georgia is the same height as John Bercow. How high is that? You'll have to ask Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz to find out.

And finally, Paper Monitor suspects it'll be spending rather more time on the Times website than is strictly necessary, playing its trial Guess the publication from the headline game (just as Web Monitor predicted). This is soooo up one's street...

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:38 UK time, Tuesday, 23 June 2009

"It was murder. What a nightmare" - Laura Robson's mother on the combined pressures of Wimbledon and GCSEs

Only 10 days before 15-year-old British tennis star Laura Robson went out of the Wimbledon Championships, she was taking her GCSE English - a year earlier than most children her age. It was all too much, said Laura's mother Kathy, after her three-set defeat in the first round of Wimbledon.
More details (Daily Mail)

Web Monitor

15:59 UK time, Monday, 22 June 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

This week, Web Monitor's treasures include shipping forecasts on-demand, Steve Jobs ventriloquism and Moby's inner thoughts. When it comes to what to put on the web the question isn't "why?" but "why not?" Share your most interesting bits of the internet here by commenting in the box on the right.

Steve Jobs• Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, doesn't have a blog. He doesn't need one - he has a fake Steve Jobs who writes what he imagines Steve would write. Fake Steve has broken an 11-month silence to write about Steve Jobs' liver transplant, claiming the New York Times technology correspondent David Pogue donated the organ as a measure of thanks:

"I was like, David, seriously, I only need half of it, and he was like, 'Seriously, man, after all you've done for me - I mean have you seen my house?'"

• Web Monitor is going to push the envelope today and show you an article that suggests blue-sky thinking from management gurus isn't all that clever after all. Matthew Stewart in Atlantic magazine used to run a consultancy firm and suggests in his article that philosophy is just as useful as an MBA if you want to get into management - which has more to do with saying silly jargon with a straight face. Some might say Nietzsche said a lot of silly things with a straight face.

MobyMoby blogs in the Huffington Post about why he made his latest album in his bedroom - apparently it's all to do with integrity and aftershave:

"Technically perfect records are sort of like the musical equivalent of a man who wears too much cologne and always speaks just a bit too loudly. The process of making "Wait for Me" and giving myself the licence to make a record in my bedroom that I loved, was about 100 times more enjoyable than working on some of the records I've made in the past. A part of the inspiration for the album was a conversation I had with David Lynch, wherein he talked about art being judged for its integrity and its content, and not for its earnings potential. The marriage of art and commerce can, of course, yield interesting results, but only when the art comes before the commerce. When art or music is created solely for its viability in the marketplace, things invariably go very, very wrong."

• Web Monitor normally leaves analysing headlines to Paper Monitor. But this game from the Times labs blog has forced us to break with tradition. The "guess the publication" game gets you to... wait for it... guess the publication the headline they generate comes from, then when you guess wrong, as Web Monitor did many times (much to Paper Monitor's disgust no doubt), it tells you all the different headlines for the story. Nothing's so shaken up newspaper stereotypes since Buff the Banana blog revealed the extent the Daily Mail website focuses on semi-clad ladies.

The Economist is reporting a surge in people owning their own chickens in the US. Perhaps an unsurprising and old-fashioned reaction to the economic downturn. A revelation occurs in the fourth paragraph: "Hatcheries that deliver chicks by mail have reported backlogs." Just a moment. Chickens in the post?

• For some, the shipping forecast is the perfect end to a heavy day, with the calm tone of the announcer on Radio 4 reminding some how lucky they are to be tucked up in bed while others risk their lives for tomorrow's cod. But what if you want to go to sleep at a different time? Well Russell Davis created Permanent Bedtime, an on-demand shipping forecast. Not really suitable for sailors, given that it repeats Tuesday 24 February's forecast, but perfect if you like wondering what North Utsire / South Utsire means. Be warned, it must have made Russell Davies so sleepy that he only remembered to tell anyone about it yesterday in his blog after reminded him.

Your Letters

15:15 UK time, Monday, 22 June 2009

Honestly, Ashley (Friday letters), you can't spot a good NomDem when it's waved in front of you. Geoff Boyd, of the Environment Agency. Perhaps you want it spelt buoyed.
Jel, Swansea

Did you HAVE to use THIS headline?
QJ, Stafford, UK

Oh dear, Daniel Hayes (Thursday's Letters). I would advise against your game, lest you make yourself look a trifle ridiculous. I remember when I was a small child (long, long ago) that the two-line pound sign was very commonly used and the single line one rather less so, so I did a bit of checking and found this and this and the clincher. So, a pound sign can have either one or two lines, according to preference.
Ray, Turku, Finland

Re pedants' game (Daniel Hayes, Thursday's letters): Unlike the Italian Lira and the French Livre (both now obsolete) but similar to the US Dollar ($) sign, the sign for the Pound Sterling (£) has only been simplified for modern printing with a single line across.
John, Sevenoaks

First time I ever heard of a croc qualified to fly.
Fred, Rotherham

Re: "Tardis rematerialises as mini-HQ". Surely it's a full sized police station on the inside?
Gwenhwyfaer, Sheffield, UK

Paper Monitor

12:26 UK time, Monday, 22 June 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

As billed last week, Paper Monitor happily spent (parts of) the weekend knee deep in reports of MPs expenses. One had hoped it would be a cathartic experience, and that one would emerge cleansed from the mire, refreshed to face the world again.

It's had rather the opposite effect. Paper Monitor is officially expended. All stories now in whatever medium have a question mark lurking somewhere about them.

England's finest gardens are going to seed, said the Sunday Telegraph. "Really?" asks Paper Monitor's question mark. "With taxpayer-funded gardeners on hand to tweak the hanging baskets?"

No, brain. That story is nothing to do with MPs expenses.

Bags replace boxes in great cereal shake-up, says the Daily Mail. "Ahhh but will they still claim for boxes?" hovers the question.

Brain, chill out. No flipping residences here.

Jordan's crazed bender until 10am, flaunts the Daily Mirror. "Well I hope she kept the receipts," comes the - by now - deeply irritating thought.

Maybe Paper Monitor just needs a break. Not a junket, just a break from reading about expenses. Good job it's Wimbledon....

... and already Murray mania is well into its stride. Are the papers just a wee bit worried that Britain's brightest hope for a Wimbledon singles title since, er, Tim Henman, might do something spectacularly British, and bow out in the first round?

The Mirror isn't chancing it, running its "Murray makers" piece - a round up of warm sentiments about Andy Murray from those nearest and dearest to him. The Sun plumps for a picture of a well-toned, bare-chested Murray on page 23 and a story that his muscly-look is down to an extreme form of yoga. (Interestingly, it also runs a story on page three about David Beckham doing Pilates, although it chooses not to link the pieces.)

Full marks to the Sun for cleverly side-stepping that bear-trap familiar to all Monitor readers - the use of SW19 as a journalistic synonym for Wimbledon. Like any other sporting venues are known at second mention by their postcodes... So, Monitor faithful, you are all cordially invited to hail the start of "Wimbo".

Over at the Daily Telegraph, which, let's face it, is the Wimbledon Championships in editorial form, there's the unavoidable truth that however buff Andy Murray is, he's no competition for young tennis specimens of the female variety.

While the paper picture splashes with Murray, its page three is more concerned with the fortunes of Serbian player called Ana Ivanovic and the shock news that "selling sex is cenral to women's tennis". Look, here's Ivanovic in a low-cut dress.

As the late, great Dan Maskell would have it: Oooh, I say.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:07 UK time, Monday, 22 June 2009

"My mum and ice cream" - What Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten missed most during his four-year retreat

In June 2005, the Home Counties monk from joined 14 others in a self-imposed retreat in a remote part of Scotland. He was cut off from radio, TV and the internet, and took a vow of complete silence for five months. The monks were allowed to read family letters once a month.

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