BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for August 2, 2009 - August 8, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

16:56 UK time, Friday, 7 August 2009

10overalls_226.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Wild orangutans use leaves to make their voices deeper and to scare predators.
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2. University degrees in comedy exist.
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3. European bison live in just one forest, on the Belarus-Poland border.
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4. Men At Work's Down Under was inspired by Dame Edna's nephew.
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5. Aesop's fable about a crow using stones to drink out of a pitcher is based on fact.
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6. 17 million people in Britain aged over 15 do not use the internet.
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7. Millions of people in Germany and Scandinavia watch an obscure British comedy sketch every New Year's Eve.
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8. Last year Britons sent 80 billion texts.
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9. Bristol is the fourth most visited city in England.
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10. Director John Hughes sometimes wrote under a pseudonym taken from an Alexandre Dumas novel.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Catriona Morrison for this week's picture of 10 overalls in Amersfoot, Netherlands.

Weekly Bonus Question

16:15 UK time, Friday, 7 August 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 "A BUNCH OF JUNK". But what's the question?

UPDATE 1620 BST: Thanks for all your wrong entries. The correct question is: how does the chief executive of organic supermarket chain Whole Foods describe the produce it sells?

Your Letters

14:53 UK time, Friday, 7 August 2009

Re: this story, they were a good band in their time - shame they have stooped to this..
Jim, Crowborough

I'm so pleased you didn't prefix this story's comment box with "Are you one of the 17 million refusing to go online".....
Simon, Alvechurch

Regarding this, call me a cynic, but there has also been a large drop in media reports over the past week.
Tom Webb, Surbiton, UK

Web Monitor, quite a number of people appeared as themselves in the West Wing - Penn and Tellerand Foo Fighters are just a couple of examples.
Therese Wallace, York, UK

Re Diane from Sutton (Letters, Thursday); Vice versa is a Latin phrase, and the letter c was pronounced as a k (hence many European countries having a Kaiser/Keizer etc. from the Roman Caesar), so it's probable that the Romans would have said vicky versa instead of vise versa...nowadays it makes you sound slightly silly though.
Ulysses, Edinburgh

The gap looks bigger than six feet, unless this is a photo of a small scale model...
Ralph, Cumbria

Re Rachel, (Letters, Thursday), there are indeed three, but only because the definition of an Olympic Pool changed recently to require an additional empty lane at each side (ie 10 lanes of which only the middle 8 are used).
Jim, Coventry

Although 50m pool provision in the UK has been woeful for many years the tide seems to have turned (perhaps thanks to that gala in 2012). By my reckoning we have about 24 50m pools in: East Kilbride, Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh (currently under refurbishment), Sunderland, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Stockport, Loughborough, Coventry, Corby, Norwich, Ealing, High Wycombe, Crystal Palace, Cardiff, Swansea, Millfield, Bath, Aldershot, Crawley, Portsmouth. Hardly up to Australian standards (although they have the advantage that their climate allows pools to be built outdoors and hence much more cheaply) but heading in the right direction and certainly more than 3!
Steve Buckley, Cambridge, UK

There are 22 50m swimming pools in the UK (England 15, Scotland 4, Ireland 2 and Wales 1). The Aussies may have 47, but the average annual temperature across Australia is about 26.2C compared to a UK average annual temperature of about 10C and summer average temperatures of about 15.6C
David Ford, Ruislip Middlesex

Dear Rachel, There is one in Leeds at the John Charles centre for sport. It's only down the road from me so drop in for cuppa if you like on the way back.
Jennie F, Leeds UK

There's a story that Leeds tried to build an Olympic size swimming pool, but they forgot to take the thickness of the tiles into account. The result was an inch too short.
Rob, Sheffield, UK

Caption Competition

14:00 UK time, Friday, 7 August 2009


Winning entries in the caption competition.

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


This week Tiger Woods lines up a shot at the Buick Open, watched by a rather unusually-dressed fan.

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

6. Fi-Glos
The Green Goddess's son woefully fails to live up to expectations.

5. haveronjones
It was obviously "dress down Friday" for members of the Blue Man Group.

4. theocupier
For once, Tiger was hoping NOT to get the rub of the green.

3. Seanie Smith
Pickpocket duo take on their biggest challenge yet.

2. karls97
Tiger was beginning to regret agreeing to partner Leigh Bowery in the pro-am.

1. Dodie James
Tinky Winky struggles with a difficult adolescence.

Paper Monitor

13:26 UK time, Friday, 7 August 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a magical word in the world of Fleet Street. Exclusive.

And like all much cherished words and phrases - like "I love you" for instance - perhaps it's not surprising that people occasionally use it when it's not true.

The Daily Mirror's use of the word today is dripping with chutzpah.

The paper leads with the news that a Victoria Beckham lookalike is being hunted by police in the Madeleine McCann inquiry.

Now despite the Mirror using an exclusive badge, everybody, and Paper Monitor means everybody, has this story, with the picture of the "lookalike".

So what bit is actually exclusive? Perhaps it is the words "Have you got her? Have you got the child?" But no, the Sun also has this. Mysterious.

The Sun is booze-obsessed today. On page 15 there's a full account of the £120,000 allegedly spent on booze by Chelsea players at the party of a player, Salomon Kalou, who is teetotal.

On page 27 there are allegations, denied by the BBC, that documentary makers bought free drinks for members of the public.

So far so abstemious.

But you only have to turn one page for the headline: "DRINK RED FOR FUN IN BED, GIRLS".

"Women who drink red wine have better sex lives, researchers claimed yesterday."

Paper Monitor is confused.

Friday's Quote of the Day

10:44 UK time, Friday, 7 August 2009

"Once again Mr Trump has made himself look as ridiculous as the thatch he wears on his head" - Selina Scott sticks it to Donald Trump.

Ouch. Selina is angry because of comments made by The Donald. He said: "Selina Scott was a third-class journalist who is now ancient history... she has since faded into oblivion, where she belongs." It relates to his Scottish golf resort plans and the anonymous circulation of an interview of Trump by Scott from ages ago.
More details (the Guardian)

Web Monitor

18:04 UK time, Thursday, 6 August 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Find out only in Web Monitor, what the West Wing has to do with the money free trend and conduct web search for happiness. Share your favourite bits of the web by sending your links via the comment box.

• Web Monitor has been tracking the "free" debate - the idea that we could be seeing the end to a money economy - for some time now. And this point of view must be older than the idea itself - that the problem with offering labour for free is that it leads to class discrimination in professions.
Jonn Elledge in The First Post gives his personal view on the issue:

"I am a journalist. I live in Islington. I listen to Radio 4. I have even, in my darker moments, been known to talk about house prices. I am, in fact, a symptom of the problem I am about to discuss, and what follows is quite appallingly hypocritical. But I am going to say it anyway: the media is too middle-class. The rise of the unpaid internship is to blame. And no one seems willing to admit it."

Elledge also makes reference to the Guardian special report into the unpaid internships mentioned in Web Monitor last week.

Web Monitor has been a bit remiss not to mention Lawrence Lessig in this whole free debate. He put the idea out there in 2005, with his book Free Culture. So, in the interest of being the fair BBC, we felt we should give it a mention. It had nothing to do with being able to mention that Lessig is the only person (known to Web Monitor at least) who as appeared as himself on the West Wing, as he mentions in his blog. Lessig was modest about his starring role but, ever the intellectual, seemed chuffed that the episode covered the construction of laws:

" captured beautifully the single most important thing that I learned from my years working on 'constitutionalism' in Eastern Europe: that 90% of the challenge is to build a culture that respects the rule of law, and that practices it."

As always, if you want to be Web Monitor, send us your links via the comment box and, to stay with the trend, we will not pay for the tip-off.

Google• If you want to make the big bucks in the free economy, ask Google. According to Steve Lohr in the New York Times, Google are saying to get big figures in your bank account you have to be crunch numbers of the statistical kind. Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google said:

"I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians... and I'm not kidding."

And if you like the look of all that data, check out this blog entry on Tom Carden's Random Etc blog post Data Visualisation Blogs You Might Not Know.
• Web Monitor searches all day for web links and all night for happiness (that's right after the worms from the bottom of the garden have been nicely fried up with some garlic and caramelised onions). Well, the search is off it seems - as happiness may be in painting.

At least that is the hope of Will Alsop. Alsop is British architecture's most colourful personality, according to Will Hurst in the Architects' website BD Online. But he's giving the game up to colour in. Hurst writes:

"...He added that, along with teaching at Ryerson University in Toronto and the Technical University in Vienna, he now intended to spend two days a week or more painting.

"It's a serious inquiry into painting," he said. "It would be nice to think it would contribute to the coffers but I'm not doing it for financial reasons... this will make me happier.

"Whatever age you are, you shouldn't be afraid to make changes to your life."

The BBC's happiness project last year suggests that painting may not be the answer for everybody. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

Your Letters

18:03 UK time, Thursday, 6 August 2009

Regarding this. Call me a cynic, but there has also been a large drop in media reports over the past week.
Tom Webb, Surbiton, UK

Can we have some sort of unanimity over whether Mr and Mrs Pankhurst did it in the kitchen or the bedroom.
Basil Long, Nottingham

A brand-specific case of nominative determinism here.
Dan, Croydon, UK

Re this. A real life version of the character from the classic song "The Lancashire toreador"
"To show how far a brave man can go, with the bull I dance the tango..."
Anyone remember that one ?
Andrew Nicholson, Milton Keynes

Re John Roaf's letter saying that Chinook is the name of a wind may be correct, but in fact the helicopter is named after an Indian tribe, as are all US Army helicopters- hence the Apache and Comanche.
Ian, York

As you'll be soon hosting some games in the near future, would you be able to tell me where the Olympic pools are? In Perth, Australia, there seems to be one on every street corner (private schools open to the public), yet in the UK, when I asked around I was told there were "about 3". One of which seemed to be restricted to a particular someone who doesn't look like she gets her hair wet that often (God bless yer, Ma'am). So where are they then?
Rachel, Minnetonka

While we're at it, could you also clarify the pronunciation of vice versa? I have heard it said Vicky Versa but there was no mention of a Vicky Squad in any old cop shows nor, as far as I know, does the US have a Vicky-President.
Diane, Sutton

How do you pronounce 'finance'? More often you hear people on the BBC saying 'fin-ance' rather than fine-ance. Which is correct?
Victoria, London

Houston (as in Texas) is constantly mispronounced as "Who-ston" rather than "Hew-ston". Surely announcers must have heard the phrase "Hew-ston, we have a problem"?
Linda Christiansen, Liverpool

Paper Monitor

11:39 UK time, Thursday, 6 August 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Hmmmm, it's August isn't it. That means no real news doesn't it? But just as the silly season kicks in, one paper that regularly spins news out of very little is laughing. Actual news and the news agenda at the Express have collided, making its front page look relevant for once.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has revised its house price forecast, saying values will end the year on a slight high. Well that's how it's reported almost everywhere else, including the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian.

But this very cautious optimism translates into "HOUSE PRICE BOOM STARTS AGAIN" on the front page of the Express, in letters so big there's hardly room for anything else. It makes you wonder if there's any correlation between the relevence of news and letter size at the paper.

But while the Express is dizzy from house price forecasts, the Daily Mail is dizzy over something else - Konnie Huq's skirt.

Yesterday it devoted almost an entire page to the former Blue Peter presenter and her skirt lining - it rode up outside a party to reveal a fraction of her underwear. Today it actually devotes a whole page to the non-story again, this time her explanation of what happened.

"After that wardrobe malfunction, KONNIE HUQ says," reads the strapline. And what does she say? What startling revelation is worth an entire page? She usually wears jogging bottoms so isn't that used to wearing skirts. Can't wait for tomorrow's instalment of "knickergate".

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:22 UK time, Thursday, 6 August 2009

"Abs are for people with no friends" - Australian actor Eric Bana on having a washboard stomach.

It is quite boring doing hundreds of crunches every day. But if you've got loads of spare time it isn't so bad. Maybe.
More details (Australian Daily Telegraph)

Web Monitor

17:26 UK time, Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today Web Monitor is mostly talking about hair. Pluck the most interesting bits from the web and send the links via the comment box.

Stop Motion with Wolf and Pig on YouTube • Some say the pop video is dead. After all, the MTV generation is getting grey now. Even the YouTube generation is reaching adulthood. And Web Monitor has heard on the grapevine that the viral advert is coming to its sell-by date as well. But there seems to be evidence that generation YouTube, combined with advertisers, is keeping music video producers in a job, at least until everyone can make their own. The PEN Story is just one example of music video innovation, using the stop-motion effect. The advertiser is Olympus and the notion is a story told through pictures being strewn across the floor.

Demonstrating a new medium for advertising, the song, Down Below by Johannes Stankowski, is being given away free as a ringtone. Three months before the PEN story was posted on YouTube dokugyunyu uploaded a video called Stop Motion with Wolf and Pig with the same concept.

Share with us your favourite stop-motion clips or clever pop videos and short film websites by pasting the link into the comments box and hitting send.

The evolution of the socialist beardYou may be relieved to know that the welfare of beard wearers is being protected by the lobbying efforts of the Beard Liberation Front's founder, Keith Flett. He is a prolific writer of letters to the editors of newspapers, also a socialist historian, the founder of the Beard Liberation Front and now a tweeter.

Flett's biography on Twitter states: "I have a beard and I'm a socialist" but as shown, whilst technically true, this is an understatement to the extreme.

A highlight of Flett's Twitter antics has included his observations about the correlation between real ale drinkers and beard wearers. He tweeted on 3 August:

"Beard Liberation Front finds slight drop in numbers of bearded men drinking real ale as CAMRA's Great British Beer Fest is set to start"

And then updated this two days later with:

"Numbers of beards in decline at first day of great british beer festival says BLF as record crowds attend"

The man also seems to try to ruffle a few academic feathers, under the guise of letter-writer Keith Flett, London N17, as his Wikipedia page explains:

"Flett has claimed that his first published letter was in Guardian, criticising an article by Professor Eric Hobsbawm on Soviet history."

Send us your favourite Keith Flett internet appearance using the comments form.

The One Show ginger galleryWeb Monitor is tracking the mass participation trend, fuelled by prolific social networkers such as Rob Manuel who organised the mass moonwalk in London the day after Michael Jackson died. These socialites are also used by advertisers such as T-Mobile to organise a mass sing-along and flash mob dance to push its product.

After yesterday's post, Web Monitor was alerted to a fiery subculture of mass-participation: ginger collectives.

The Ginger Roots blog gave a heads up to the redhead festival happening in September:

"If you happen to be passing through the Netherlands next year on the first weekend of September (hey, you never know), you might want to make a stop in Breda. The city, I've just discovered, hosts an extensive annual two-day redhead festival. About 2000 redheads from 15 countries made it for redheadday 2008, and its organizers project an attendance of 5000 in 2009. Last year, some Dutch calendars even set the celebration in stone, and officially designated the first Sunday of September as redheadday."

The One Show blog has a ginger pride gallery. Web Monitor is concerned that once the Beard Liberation Front find out, they may argue for the beard pride gallery, and then there's the splinter group - the ginger beard liberation front which Web Monitor has just made up. Please send a link to the latter's website if they do exist.

Your Letters

16:13 UK time, Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Interesting comment by Harman. If women should be guaranteed a position of leadership in the Labour Party, why not those of an ethnic background, disabled people, religious minorities or even a member of the working class. I think women are just as capable as men - that's why I think Harman is wrong. The Tories didn't have such a policy yet Thatcher rose to the heights of power. Likewise Obama's election shows merit is the best way to judge people.
Michael, Birmingham

With regard to your guide to pronouncing "Economics", I'm pretty sure at school we had "Home Eck" lessons and not "Home Eek" - unlike the other 62% apparently!
Gareth Harrison, Manchester

Interesting discussion about how to say the word "economics", but without relating it to the pronunciation of "economy"; no-one, as far as I am aware, pronounces that word as "eck-on-uh-mee".
Roy Fletcher, Slough

My general rule is: "eh" - if followed immediately by more than one consonant, otherwise - "ee". Easy but not exceptionally exact
RJ Pinion, Tring

How do you pronounce Asperger, as in Asperger's syndrome? The majority seem to pronounce it with a soft 'g', the same as the liturgical verb, to rhyme with verger. But as it is a German name, shouldn't it have a hard 'g', to rhyme with burger?
Alistair Littlewood, Edwinstowe, Notts

Occasionally one hears the word CHINOOK pronounced correctly when referring to the helicopter, but usually it is said, by BBC announcers and by politicians, CHIN (ch- as in chair) and -OOK as in spook. As someone who comes from Western North America, as does the word, and the helicopter, be assured the pronunciation is CHIN- as in shin, and -NOOK as in took. It would be wonderful to hear it pronounced correctly as it is a soft word, the name of a wind.
John Roaf, Chichester, UK

Haven't heard much mispronunciation of C difficile lately. I can understand why people who know some French get it wrong, but surely the BBC should set an example. I don't claim to be an expert on Latin, but I believe it should be pronounced DIFF-IKKY-LAY. What do you think?
David Beale, Washington, Tyne & Wear

Do something about the pronunciation of "financial". The first syllable should be pronounced "fine" not "fin". Even though he is a legend - I want you to get Paxo to say it properly.
Charlie F, London

Mr Volante? In a plane? Might this be our first recorded case of multilingual nominative determinism?
Aimee, Thurso, Scotland

Re: Emmy's letter (Letters, Tuesday) Neither the Daleks or the Cybermen are robots; Daleks are mutant Kaleds within a shell that allows them to move and "exterminate" and Cybermen are cyborgs, that is people augmented with technology. I'd get my brown trench coat if it hadn't been stolen.
Chris Clarke, Grenoble, France

How did Stuart of Lancashire (Letters, Tuesday) miss the opportunity to comment on a clear case of nominative determinism and instead merely comment on the lack of a decent photograph.
Murf, Essex

She's back...
Mandy, Cambridge

"When 11 litres of supermarket cider costs less than the price of a Harry Potter ticket, it's no wonder they think alcohol is better value for money" (same story as above). Surely it's more of a slur on the ridiculous overpricing of a cinema ticket rather than the drinking habits of young adults.
Tom, London

One suspects that the impact would have been lessened even more had the driver filming the horse also slowed down and stopped chasing them down a road.
Owain Williams, Regensburg

With the fall in the Sats results, does the Schools Minister really think that asking "some hard questions" is going to help?
Tom Hartland, Derby

So if Benson was the "People's Fish" will Elton be at the funeral?
"Goodbye England's Roe...."
Ewan, Manchester

Paper Monitor

10:35 UK time, Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Day two of what could either be called Bensonmania or carpmania. Indicate preference using the letters form.

After yesterday's reports on the death of Benson, one of the British angling community's best loved carp, the Sun brings more bad news.

Benson's fishery has lost another whopper, a mirror carp called "The Creature". Weighing in at 64lb the Sun helpfully explains this is the size of a large dog.

But Paper Monitor finds this single column of tragedy is dwarfed by the Daily Mail's journalistic endeavour in pursuing a follow-up to the Benson tragedy.

For it has dedicated two whole pages to Benson and the men who have given their lives to catching the monster.

There are 28 pictures of lucky men (and they ARE all men), with name, the date they caught Benson and the weight of the fish at capture. This stat attack allows the Mail to establish that Benson was a bit of a yo-yo dieter. Sadly, though, there's no anotated image, a la Ulrika, betraying exactly where Benson's dietry regime paid dividends.

But it's the quotes from the anglers that give real pathos to the story.

Steve Broad is the pick of the bunch, describing a "28-month love affair" with the hungry fish.

"In the driving rain, soaked and muddy, I pulled the carp towards me and looked down. There lay my obsession - Benson."

It's all the power and emotion of Moby Dick, but on a budget.

Elsewhere in the tabs, the story of the day is that former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq was out and about in a sheer skirt with a lining that rode right up to reveal her underwear.

Cue a raft of sticky-backed plastic jokes.

Ho ho etc.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:24 UK time, Wednesday, 5 August 2009

I thought they'd be more sympathetic - Emily Morgan, who claims she was sacked from a swine flu call centre for being off sick with swine flu.

The 21-year-old student says she returned to her job at the government's National Pandemic Flu Service after 10 days off with swine flu only to be told she was fired. The agency that employed her says there are proceedures to follow in cases of absenteeism.
More details (Daily Mail)

How to Say: Economics

08:24 UK time, Wednesday, 5 August 2009

An occasional guide to the words and names in the news from Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

People often want to know how "economic" should be pronounced - a question most recently asked by Monitor letter writer Sheelagh Robertson of West Yorkshire. Is the initial "e" pronounced as -ee (ee-kuh-NOM-ick) or as -e (eck-uh-NOM-ick)?

The word "economic" is related to the Modern Greek oikonomikos (= "economic") which is derived from the Ancient Greek words oikos = "house" and nemein = "manage". In Ancient Greece, the word oikos would have sounded a bit like OY-koss (-oy as in boy; stressed syllables appear in capitals) but the "oi" vowel combination underwent a sound change and, in Modern Greek, it is pronounced as -ee (as in street). The Modern Greek words oikonomikos and oikonomia (= "economy") are therefore pronounced ee-kon-om-ee-KOSS and ee-kon-om-EE-uh respectively.

In English, both ee-kuh-NOM-ick and eck-uh-NOM-ick are heard and both are listed in English pronunciation dictionaries and the OED - but if you want to know which pronunciation is more commonly used by British English speakers, the phonetician and author of the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, Professor J.C. Wells, conducted a poll of speakers of all ages and found that 62% of speakers preferred ee-kuh-NOM-ick, while 38% pronounced it as eck-uh-NOM-ick.

To download the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide to text spelling, click here.

Web Monitor

17:21 UK time, Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Online zombies and the birther subculture rub shoulders in Web Monitor. Share your favourite bits of the web by sending your links via the comment box.

Barack Obama• Birthers are the Republicans in US politics who are arguing that President Barack Obama is not a US citizen, and trying to prove that he was not born in the United States. The YouTube film Birthers on the Hill tries to track these people down to get them to explain their theories but on the whole the reporter Mike Stark from Fire Dog Lake online political reporting group runs around more than Anneka Rice on a mission to paint an orphanage.

Ben Smith at Politico describes birthers:

"Out of the gaze of the mainstream and even the conservative media is a flourishing culture of advocates, theorists and lawyers, all devoted to proving that Barack Obama isn't eligible to be president of the United States. Viewed as irrelevant by the White House, and as embarrassing by much of the Republican Party, the subculture still thrives from the conservative website WorldNetDaily, which claims that some 300,000 people have signed a petition demanding more information on Obama's birth..."

Ben LokaWeb Monitor has noted before the strangely emotional reactions that mass participation events evoke.

So if you're one of those people who tend to get teary at the thought of a choreographed majorettes march, then you better get your tissues as the Oddee Website has compiled the countdown of the strangest mass participation events. Fitting for the subject of participation, the real thrill comes in reading the comments below the article on the Oddee Website. One of the highlights is the Thrill Dance, which is a worldwide dance of the Thriller song, due to take place in the weekend before Halloween. Tom Kiss, the designer on the team has already set up a Zombie social networking site Crawl of the Dead.

If you are surprised that zombies could be so networked, check out Bryony makes a Zombie Movie - the BBC3 programme following a girl making a zombie move more or less by discussing it with volunteers on Skype who film themselves and put it up on YouTube. You might notice the scene at the beginning is very similar to the premise of the car insurance advert from - even the same actor Ben Loka, who is a prolific vodcaster, stars in the ad. Unfortunately for Loka's on YouTube complaining about too much advertising funnily enough.

Incidentally, another character in the adverts, Amazing Phil, as he calls himself in his blog, explained how he ended up on the same advert and then talked for a bit too long about his love for love heart sweets. We're sure the feeling is mutual.

• The "free" debate Web monitor has been tracking is spreading to Canada. Columnist for the Globe and Mail Mira Sundara Rajan is arguing that copyright laws - something hindering a legal free economy - need to be improved to reflect the digital age:

"We need to know what is and is not permissible when we deal with new technologies, if we are to be comfortable when we exercise our rights and confident when we attempt to fulfill our obligations."

The debate goes on...

Your Letters

15:57 UK time, Tuesday, 4 August 2009

If ever a story needed a picture to go with it.
Stuart, Lancashire

What kind of PR company makes itself "unavailable for comment"?
David Bull, Redhill, Surrey

This headline promised so much, I was convinced it would be about Transformers or Eva's rampaging through the streets. I probably shouldn't be so disappointed about that.
AK, Ipswich

Call for debate on killer robots? Well personally I've always preferred Cybermen over the Daleks, but perhaps someone would like to argue in favor of the Daleks or indeed any other killer robots that come to mind.
Emmy, Sudbury, Suffolk

Johnny Clegg may have been born in the UK, but he left at a very young age and was brought up in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). I claim him as a Zimbabwean. Please alter your article headline to read "Nine famous Britons you've probably never heard of ".
Richard, London (ex Harare)

I wonder if Adam from London (Monday's letters) actually read the article? Of course there are famous people you've never heard of. There's a whole world outside Britain.
James Ellison, Wakefield, UK

A friend of mine, when asked by the careers adviser about his plans for the future, replied that he wanted to become a careers adviser. He was unceremoniously ejected from the office and punished for his "glib" remark...
Aimee, Thurso, Scotland

To Justie, Monday's letters, as a member of the Naval Reserves it is a requirement to be able to swim in full gear (tests are usually carried out with the recruit wearing a boiler suit). The hardest part of the test is having to pull yourself out over an edge at least 50cm above the water in wet clothes at the end.

Joseph, London

Paper Monitor

11:10 UK time, Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

For Ulrika Jonsson fans, there is a treat in the Daily Mirrorand the Daily Mail.

Here we have two apparently similar treatments of a photo of Ulrika-ka-ka on the beach, but they're not the same.

First the Mirror. Page three has the Anglo-Swede in a bikini looking rather immaculate for her 41 summers of experience and four children. It highlights the surgical procedures it speculates she has had and concludes she looks rather good.

Over in the Daily Mail there is a very different approach.

They also have detailed annotation alleging multiple procedures, but they accompany it with a rather critical piece from the editor of the ominously-named Psychologies magazine.

She takes a dim view of la Jonsson. "Ulrika looks fantastic," Maureen Rice starts off. But it soon takes a critical turn.

"In making yourself feel better you've just helped make the rest of us feel a lot worse."

Basically Jonsson is causing a few problems for the sisterhood.

"How fair is that on our poor men? Naturally, they don't want to have sex with a woman who possesses what another columnist on this newspaper calls a 'porridgey stomach'."

Whoa there, sound the klaxon and set the flashing red light off. A Daily Mail columnist has just had a dig at another one, inferring a bad attitude towards womankind. Lordy.

The Mirror and the Daily Mail can't seem to agree on the name for the breast procedure that Ulrika has allegedly had. The Mail says mastoplexy and the Mirror says mastopexy. The Google jury says... mastopexy.

And while it's skimming through the Mirror, Paper Monitor has to confess it has not noticed this particular bit of design before, but what's with the Mirror's bylines?

The "by" is on a little computer keyboard button, along with the e-mail address, as if to emphasise that, although it might appear to be a fuddy, duddy piece of old newsprint, it is very much down with the kids, like Facebook and Bebo.

Over in the Daily Telegraph, there's an outbreak of the kind of thing that gives Paper Monitor sleepless nights.

The newspaper/media hub has pioneered an industry-wide move to get rid of subs. But it is without any sense of crowing that it is necessary to point out the mistake in the paper's review of this year's Cambridge Folk Festival.

The reviewer praises the diversity of the line-up - everyone from Allen Toussaint, Eliza Carthy, Joan Armatrading, and k.d. Lang to Bassekou Kouyate's "wondrous West African band Ngoni Ba" - and is amazed at the way Richard Hawley was lined up when John Hiatt pulled out on Wednesday.

But there's a small problem with this review of the 2009 festival. It is in fact a review of the 2008 festival. Here's the line-up for last year.

So it's now 1100 BST and the staff at the Telegraph have a race on their hands to turn the review into a 404 and pull it from their "latest festival news" section. The paper edition they can do nothing about it.

Of course, things do move slowly in the world of folk, so maybe it has taken a year to write the review and nothing is amiss.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:28 UK time, Tuesday, 4 August 2009

"We are all rocked by Benson's death. She was an iconic carp" - Fishery owner Tony Bridgefoot on the death of a 64lb celebrity carp.

Flags are at half mast in the angling world. Benson wasn't the biggest carp in Britain. She wasn't the hardest to catch, being hooked 60 times over the years. But she had a beauty and accessibility that people loved. Apparently.
More details (the Times)

Web Monitor

16:54 UK time, Monday, 3 August 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Where else would you find sexual politics and cheesy wedding dances sharing a stage? Only on Web Monitor. Remember to share your favourite bits of the internet by sending them via the comments box.

Wedding Dance • Get your dancing shoes on - it's wedding season and silly season, which means it is actually silly wedding dance season. The trend documented on YouTube for some years includes the Dirty Dancing Wedding Dance (the famous jump being three minutes in) and multiple Thriller Wedding Dances. Now we have the Chris Brown R'n'B wedding dance video, which uses the singer's Forever as a soundtrack to a very grand entrance to the church. Controversially, the group dancing to this are asking for donations to an anti-violence charity - an interesting protest against Chris Brown's assault of ex-girlfriend and fellow R'n'B singer Rihanna. After more than 15 million hits in less than two weeks, the bride and groom explained this move on their website:

"Due to the circumstances surrounding the song in our wedding video, we have chosen the Sheila Wellstone Institute. Sheila Wellstone was an advocate, organizer, and national champion in the effort to end domestic violence in our communities."

Bethgg responded to our Twitter request for more wedding dances by recommending the divorce dance from the same group.

Harriet Harman • The buzz amongst the newspaper columnists is all about gender politics after Harriet Harman's interview in the Sunday Times where she said: "Men cannot be left to run things on their own."

In the Independent, Joan Smith said the lack of women in top jobs is a crisis and should prompt the country's political leaders to ask themselves about their prejudices towards women:

" ...this debate is about being modern. Those of us who live in European democracies support a view of human rights based on equality and fairness, yet our political structures signally fail to reflect it. So do pictures of the present Cabinet and TV coverage of both houses of Parliament."

Web Monitor wonders whether Julia Langdon in the Daily Mail has gone all jolly hockeysticks:

"So what does she [Harman] do? Make a total fool of herself on day one by shouting her mouth off about how voters are fed up with 'boys running the show' and how she will thus ensure that the Labour Party rules are changed in order to determine that one of the two top jobs in the party must always belong to a woman. Oh Hatty! How could you get it so wrong? And how could you so deliberately misinterpret the facts?"

In the Times, Edwina Currie says Harman is talking "rabid nonsense" as someone's gender doesn't influence their ability:

"Firstly, we need the best people to run the country, irrespective of gender. I'd have thought that was a statement of the obvious, but it has passed Ms Harman by. In addition, women who have experienced discrimination should be wary of applying it to others, on principle."

And it is left to Yvonne Roberts in the Guardian to defend men:

"'You can't trust men' is as daft a generalisation as the belief still expressed by some that all women inhabit a malice-free zone in which they are at one with their emotions and mother earth."

• Where there's change you're likely to find resistance, and that seems to be true about the "free" debate which is being tracked by Web Monitor. As the Guardian'sPolly Curtis has noted, the work-for-free trend has been highlighted by industry watchdogs.

Curtis has accused employers and MPs and of exploiting work-for-free interns. And as the Guardian's FAQ explains, the nature of the work given to interns could mean that some employers should be paying them the minimum wage.

Talking of free work, if you want to help Web Monitor, choose your six favourite links around the web and send them via the comment box. To help you out, check out our list of sources on Delicious. As is customary, payment will come in the form of non-exploitative kudos.

Your Letters

14:22 UK time, Monday, 3 August 2009

Was I the only one thinking of Shakey?
Vincent, Worthing

I wonder if whoever wrote the headline "10 famous Britons you've probably never heard of" has completely grasped the meaning of the word "famous"?
Adam, London, UK

I thought receiving "stress relief" was the reason Silvio was in the papers in the first place.
Dan, Cambridge

Why is Gareth Hale (Hale and Pace) on the red carpet with Penelope Cruz?
Martin, Oxford

Can someone please settle an argument re the pronunciation of "economics"? Does it start "eh" or "ee"?
Sheelagh Robertson, West Yorkshire

From 10 Things: Should we be surprised or shocked that policemen don't need to know how to swim? After all, last I heard, this wasn't even a requirement for new recruits in the Navy...
Justie, London

Paper Monitor

12:06 UK time, Monday, 3 August 2009


A celebration of the riches of the daily press.

"The woman is mad, that is now clear. On a different planet."

Normally when Paper Monitor reads a line like that in the papers, a word is had in the right ear and it ends up in 7 days 7 questions. But one is too impatient, so here goes. Who is saying it about whom?

OK, here's the answer, it's Edwina Currie about Harriet Harman. Get her.

But it so easily could have been Liz Jones, the woman who writes and writes and writes about whatever is going on in her life. You've probably noticed her, whether you've wanted to or not. There was a lengthy interview with her in the Observer yesterday, which pulled no punches. And which, if rumours about the possible demise of the Observer are true, might be at least one answer to the hypothetical question "what is the Observer for"? *

Rachel Cooke wrote the article, which you can find here. Potted highlights follow:

  • "[A] former editor of Marie Claire magazine and a writer on fashion and, er, other matters for the Mail group..."
  • "[T]rue story: she used to vacuum her back yard"

  • "What I am trying to say is that [Jones's new book] is one of the barmiest books I have ever read: neurotic, incontinent, contradictory."
  • "Why is Jones so messed up? Not even she seems to know."
  • "[S]he and Osama only did it twice."
  • "Now she sounds more unconvincing than ever. Isn't the truth that the column funds a spectacular lifestyle; that it is her brand, and thus that she has made a kind of Faustian pact with it?"
And the drama continued over at the Mail on Sunday, in three separate articles involving Jones, and again this morning at the Daily Mail..

Though to be honest, Paper Monitor is not sure what was learned beyond the first three paragraphs of yesterday's column: "I have not had a facelift, a famous 50-year-old moaned last week. No, it wasn't me, although I have had a number of procedures performed on my tired old corpse. These include collagen, teeth veneers, plastic surgery on my breasts, a week spent at a 'leg school' at a spa atop Capri (the experience was like being an injured racehorse: I spent my time walking round in a pool, my legs swaddled in exercise bandages), and the liberal application of lasers to remove hair, sun spots and strange freckles on my hands. "

*Last year Paper Monitor wondered what the Indy was for. Not sure an answer emerged, but if you have any thoughts on what the Observer is for, do suggest them via the Comments field.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:33 UK time, Monday, 3 August 2009

"I like Alexander Graham Bell because, having invented the phone, he realised how annoying it was and refused to have one in his study" - Sandi Toksvig

Ms Toksvig does not go on to explain whether Mr Bell would have approved of using phones to play music out loud on the bus.

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