BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for November 15, 2009 - November 21, 2009

10 things we didn't know last week

15:24 UK time, Friday, 20 November 2009

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

1. Three of the world's supercomputers are in the US.
More details

2. Humans are more likely to be killed by a hippo than a lion.
More details (Times)

3. Teeth grinding is known as bruxism.
More details

4. Spin doctors were used in the Iron Age.
More details

5. School phobia is a condition recognised by doctors since the 1960s.
More details

6. Whisky should be stored upright, unlike wine.
More details

7. "Wrap rage" is a term coined to describe the anger felt by people trying to get into bonded plastic "clamshell" packaging.
More details

8. Male and female candidates to be officers in the British Army have to do different amounts of press-ups, but the same number of sit-ups in a physical test.
More details

9. For three decades, the BBC took a very dim view of Enid Blyton's work.
More details

10. Swindon has the UK's highest broadband use.
More details (Times)

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Sarah O'Donoghue for this week's picture of 10 weights.


Caption Competition

13:22 UK time, Friday, 20 November 2009

Comments

Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Here, Yeomen of the Guard conduct a ceremonial search for explosives at the House of Lords before the State Opening of Parliament. But what's being said?

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

6. GMcGlinn
Louie Walsh pulls out all the stops for Jedwards next X-factor performance.

5. SkarloeyLine
Pan's People unveil their routine to All Along The Watchtower.

4. MorningGlories
You wait all your life for a marriage proposal, then...

3. nick-fowler
The House of Lords Formation Team was doing rather well in the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing.

2. GirlWeekday
And so they reluctantly prepared for the Queen's favourite game: Yeoman Dominoes.

1. SundayParkGeorge
Riverdance: The Tudor Years.

Paper Monitor

11:32 UK time, Friday, 20 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

eu_stitch_upheadlines226.jpgThe Daily Mail and the Guardian don't often find common cause. But they do today with their matching front page headlines on the EU's choice for its president:

"The great EU stitch-up".

Even the sub-headlines are similar, although one is rather more, er, strident than the other. Can you guess which?

"A Labour crony no-one's heard of is made EU foreign minister - so a fanatical Belgian federalist who wants Brussels to tax us can become President. The good news? At least it's not Blair"

And:
  • Little-known Briton gets Foreign job
  • Belgian PM beats Blair to presidency

Yes, the first one is the Mail.

It's equally aerated about the "Tory sleaze chief, a £30,000 expenses bill and his love nest", as runs its page three headline (SEO version for the online version is the rather more prosaic "Tory sleaze chief David Curry quits over '£30,000 love nest expenses'").

In the Daily Telegraph, the same story is headlined: "The Tory MP, his mistress and £30,000 for love nest".

Elsewhere, much spleen is vented over that France v Ireland game. Even the refusniks with fingers in ears going "la la la la" at the very mention of the World Cup will know why.

"Hands-on Henry becomes public enemy numero un - 'Hand of Gaul' or the main chance? Irish fury and French red faces at Henry's assist" - Guardian
"The £1bn hand of frog" - Sun
"You Eiffel shower!" - Daily Mirror

Shower? OK, so it rhymes with tower, but really...

Weekly Bonus Question

09:25 UK time, Friday, 20 November 2009

Comments

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 CHEESE GRATER AND A £5 LAMPSHADE. But what's the question?

UPDATE 1805 GMT: The correct question is, the ownership of which articles is at stake in a disagreement between a solicitor and het ex?

Of your woefully yet deliberately incorrect questions, we liked:

  • BaldoBingham's What did MacGyver use to escape from prison?
  • SteeleHawker's What's the minimum one needs to open an Italian restaurant?
  • wolf1979's Who came second and third in the vote for the EU presidency?
  • LaurenceLane's What gives Health and Safety officers nightmares?
  • MuteJoe's What can I do with my old Setanta satellite dish?
  • Geordieindisguise's What will Lady Gaga reportedly wear in her next music video?

Friday's Quote of the Day

08:10 UK time, Friday, 20 November 2009

"it's not just that I dislike the taste of sprouts or broccoli, but the actual sight of them fills me with dread and I could never touch them" - Woman diagnosed with a fear of vegetables, known as lachanophobia.

Student Vicki Larrieux's diet consists of meat, potatoes, cereals and an occasional apple. But she refuses to eat any vegetables as the mere sight of a sprout gives her a panic attack. "Even as a child I used to properly freak out if some carrots or a few peas were on my plate. But as it continued into adult life I started to think it might not just be a dislike for vegetables but an actual phobia."
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

17:14 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

As a medical statistician, I am usually very sceptical of any health stories, and usually find that once I look closely, the headlines aren't justified by the data. Today, however, I shall make an exception. Alcohol 'protects men's hearts' is just obviously true and there is therefore no need for me to look behind the headline.
Adam, London, UK

Re Energy-saving bulbs 'get dimmer': It's a good job you used the quotes. "Energy-saving bulbs' maximum brightness reduces over time, but not as badly as traditional bulbs." Doesn't trip off the tongue half as well.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Extremely low temperatures may make whisky "slightly cloudy"? I left a bottle of Canadian whisky in the trunk of my car overnight several years ago, and there were pieces of ice floating in it by morning. Of course, it's possible that Edmonton gets colder than Antarctica.
Chris, Toronto, Canada

Re Paper Monitor's fascination with fascinators. Having recently worn a hat adorned with a fascinator to a wedding, the only purpose has to be decorative. Calling it a bow would have sufficed.
Candace, New Jersey, US
Monitor note: Terminology must be different on this side of the pond, where a fascinator is a rinky-dinky little hat. Or a bow/feather/flower in place of a hat.

With regards to the shortest ever Paper Monitor, I think this one is a serious contender.
Steve Bowman, London

0.7 miles in 4 minutes (Paper Monitor)? That's a very speedy 5.7mph!
Kathryn, London

Paper Monitor, if you can manage that I'll send you a whole pack of custard creams.
Mandy Nichols, Leeds
Paper Monitor replies: You're on - no, wait - I got in a muddle. It is 14 minutes.

"Boeing said in a statement: 'We will not be making any comment.'"
So why make a statement?
Mary, Manchester, UK

To follow on the discussion (Wednesday letters), my late grandmother always insisted the plural of "poof" was "pooves". There was never any offence meant as she was describing her brother and his boyfriend.
Rob, London

I favour "roofs" because, unlike "hooves", I can't detect a vowel phoneme change in the plural form, but I imagine both are acceptable. English spellings haven't always been standard. On the other hand, Latin spellings were pretty consistent - which is why accede, succeed, concede, and yes, supercede, are usually spelled with a "c"- because the Latin verb is cedo, cedere (cessi, cessurus), meaning "to yield" (et al). Truce? Or must we continue to make trivial arguments and unfair insults over something as fluid and wonderful as language?
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Web Monitor

14:14 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today in Web Monitor: when a star wants to change and his fans won't let him, a history of bowing in America and when customer feedback becomes a collision course.

Yusuf Islam formerly Cat Stevens• Singer Cat Stevens, now called Yusuf Islam, is trying to get round the idea of being booed by fans in his editorial in the Times. It happened in Dublin when he took a break from performing classics to preview from his new musical Moonshadow. But Stevens seems to be weary of the call for him to perform his old favourites all the time:

"My voice doesn't seem to have altered, which, for many fans, is a godsend. But not to expect me to sing my favourite new songs from two carefully and thoughtfully created albums, but to demand a 'Beam me up, Scotty' return to the Cat Stevens persona of yesterday is more than any amount of imagination can hope for."

• Much was said about President Obama bowing to the emperor of Japan over the weekend. But when Juliet Lapidos in Slate magazine delved into the archives, she found bowing used to be a custom in the US until as late as the early 20th Century. She looked into why the custom went out of fashion:

"In the revolutionary period, the practice was regarded, by some, as a vestige of a less democratic society. Thomas Jefferson, for example, liked to shake hands instead of bowing. Traditional signs of deference took a further hit during Andrew Jackson's presidency (1829-37), when many American self-consciously rejected the trappings of hierarchy and the Old World."

• And finally, magician turned psychologist Richard Wiseman has spotted a gem of customer pictures on Amazon. The feature normally is a chance for customers to upload pictures of their very own version of the product on sale. The Laptop Steering Wheel Desk is a clip-on desk you can attach to your steering wheel to prop your laptop on. But instead of the normal pictures of customers enjoying the item, Wiseman noticed people had been uploading pictures of car pile-ups - presumably their take on what would happen if you surfed whilst driving.

This isn't the first time customer interaction on the site has not toed the line.
Previously a T-shirt with three wolves on it became one of the most popular items sold on Amazon after its page was deluged with over-enthusiastic comments about the T-shirt's powers.

Paper Monitor

12:09 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Birthday celebrations can only be dragged out so long, as even the most dedicated of party girls and boys will know.

So after three days of festivities to mark its big 4-0, the Sun is winding down. No more special supplements, but the paper is handing out party favours. Those hoping for a slice of cake wrapped in a paper napkin will be disappointed - ah, those were the days - as the party bag takes the form of vouchers for a free bottle of bubbly. (Tokens to collect. Subject to availability.)

It's also plugging its "brilliant 40th birthday celebration bookazine", on sale Monday from newsagents nationwide. Scratch that. Not just any newsagents, but Martin McColl stores only. Martin Mc-where?

AND it's selling T-shirts emblazoned with classic front pages. One is, of course, that Freddie Starr headline. One marks John Lennon's death. And a third marks George "Zip me up before you go go" Michael's 1998 arrest in an LA public toilet. Well, that's Paper Monitor's Christmas shopping done and dusted.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph is also concerned with numbers after the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament.

"15 The number of minutes it took the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to travel from Buckingham Palace to the House of Commons in a horse-drawn coach."
That's a journey of 0.7 miles, that can be walked in about 14 minutes.

"60 The number of Yeoman of the Guard who fanned through the cellars of Parliament looking for hidden explosive material. There was none."

"1 The number of sentences in the 1900 Queen's Speech, the shortest on record, recalling Parliament to give more resources to the Boer War."

Hmmm. That sets Paper Monitor to wondering... which is the shortest Paper Monitor on record?

Moving back to fashion matters, the Daily Mail is much concerned with three-year-old Suri Cruise wearing silver heels. And, perhaps predictably, falling out of them. Looks like wellies might have been a better choice... but isn't that always the case?

And it offers kudos to Sarah Brown for her Queen's Speech outfit and, predictably, brickbats for another political wife. Which again sets Paper Monitor to wondering... what are fascinators for? And why are they called fascinators?

Thursday's Quote of the Day

10:01 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

"This is the second-best day of my life. The best was when I lost my virginity. I hope to buy a flat and a new car with the money" - Rugby fan Stuart Tinner on winning £250,000 in a crossbar challenge.

Jubilant Mr Tinner won the money taking part in a half-time competition at a Rugby game between Saracens and South Africa at Wembley on Tuesday. He was one of three people called out of the crowd of more than 46,000 and successfully booted a ball against the crossbar from 30 metres.

Your Letters

16:07 UK time, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

If you'll forgive me for taking a break from my normal witticisms, I'd just like to say how much I enjoyed your pictures of wildlife at Kew Gardens. It was one of the most beautiful things I've seen for a long time, and I encourage all Monitorites to take a few minutes to have a look.
Adam, London, UK

I managed a score of 0/7 on the Sun headlines quiz, and I really tried. It was only after finishing however, that I realised how happy that made me. My unblemished ignorance means that I am entirely out of kilter with the Sun and all it stands for. Either that or I'm so eager to turn the front page that I fail to pay any attention to the headlines...
Ashley Pearson, Hull

For once I'm soooo glad to have got 0 in a 7 questions quiz.
Jenn, Bridgend

They're back! Can somebody please inform the BBC's science department that chromosomes are not made of sausages?
Katherine, Canberra, Australia

Objecting to Thought for the Day!? It's not as if the media is short of non-religious opinion. I'm becoming more and more ashamed to be an atheist.
Michael, Rockville, MD, US

Ergonomics is a made-up word, is it? What, you mean unlike all those other words which occur naturally in underground seams?
Samuel, Leeds

According to the map in Driver lost on 600km shops trip, the wrong turn only occurred after around 200km... which is still a long way to travel to pop down to the shops.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Marie (Tuesday letters), all dictionaries that I have consulted say roofs is the plural of roof, as does a friend of mine who is an English teacher. This does mean that the BBC is wrong though.
Dave Cassar, London

I went to school in the 1950s and was taught the plural of roof is rooves, just as the plural of hoof is hooves. The addition of just an "s" appears to be either due to American influences or laziness. Frequent incorrect use eventually becomes accepted, just like supercede is now accepted as an alternative spelling of supersede.
Graeme Watson, Tewkesbury, Glos, UK

What about leaf? Is it leafs or leaves? My wife pronounces them "roofs" and "leafs" which drives me mad, because they are surely correctly pronounced "rooves" and "leaves", but how are they spelt?
Simon, Colchester, UK

Re Meg and Allan J's letters, I experienced difficulties with the site over the weekend. Page was loading but only header and footer was visible, no content.
Iani, Aberystwyth

You wanted an explanation of missing items. Explanations I cannot give, but facts I can: Today I am able to see Your Letters in Magazine Monitor, but Paper Monitor still comes up with a blank screen; 10 things' gives me Your Letters again; and WBQ and Web Monitor are blank, though the text is available via the "text only" button. Something weird is going on...
Joy Uings, Sale, UK

Allan J, Meg - you're not alone, I don't get the Monitor either, it's to do with Internet Explorer 8. You have to run it in compatibility view to see everything properly.
Nick, Swindon, UK

In IE, I can see the header, then a big bit of empty space, then the footer, then more empty space. This is since about Thursday. In Firefox, I can see it all fine. What happened on Thursday?
Anna, Flitwick, UK

Web Monitor

15:17 UK time, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Web Monitor is taking some leave this week but for the die-hard fans, it didn't want to deprive you entirely. So, today in Web Monitor: the vegan activist, where the pinball machine went and the Star Trek cruise.

Moby, Sarah Palin.jpg• Sarah Palin's been out promoting her book and her critics have been close to her tail. Mara Gay at the Atlantic Wire has collected her favourites. The singer, DJ and vegan Moby blogs against Sarah Palin's reasoning behind eating meat. He says Palin's assertion (if God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come he made them out of meat?) leads him on a strange logical trail:

"The problem, of course, being that other things are also made out of meat. Like, well, people. And doggies and kitties. And cute little human babies. So if we follow your logic, Mrs Palin, you are actually suggesting that god intended for us to eat humans and dogs and cats and human babies, as these things are all technically made out of meat."

• Where did pinball machines go? Well, in Cheap Talk Jeff Ely, the Professor of Economics at Northwestern University, has enough time on his hands to work it all out:

Pinball skill is transferrable. If you can pass, stall, nudge, and aim on one machine you can do it on any machine. This is both a blessing and a curse for pinball developers. The blessing is that pinball players were a captive market. The curse was that to keep the pinball players interested the games had to get more and more intricate and challenging.... Eventually, to keep the pinballers playing, the games became so advanced that entry-level players faced an impossible barrier. High-schoolers in 1986 were either dropouts or professionals in 1992 and without inflow of new players that year essentially marked the end of pinball."

• Travel writer Rolf Potts in World Hum uncovers the world of the Star Trek cruise. Not knowing much about Star Trek and having never been on a cruise, he is struck by a similarity when he hears about the programme's Talosians. They are described to him as observers who use people's own ideals and expectations to create seductive illusions that have no basis in reality:

"When I first hear this it sounds like a nifty little critique of consumer travel writing - but in coming days I will discover that it just as readily applies to the baffling idiosyncrasies of the leisure-cruise industry."

Paper Monitor

13:21 UK time, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Sun is offering a second helping of its greatest headlines as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations. But as the internet asserts its dominance over delivering news, the rules of headline writing are changing.

The buzz phrase being bandied around multimedia newsrooms these days is "search engine optimisation", or SEO for short.

The rules of SEO dictate that headlines ought to be clear rather than cryptic, include famous names where appropriate and generally not be too clever. That's because search engines - and we all know which one in particular we're talking about here - use headlines in ranking stories. The clearer a headline, the more likely people are to search for the words used in it and, in turn, the higher up a search engine ranking it will sit.

All of which makes disturbing reading for those skilled headline writers who populate the red top papers.

So as the Sun reprints some of its best known headlines, Paper Monitor has decided to assess them on SEO terms.

Leading the first of the Sun's two-part "greatest front pages" supplement is its 1986 headline "FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER". In SEO terms, this is a winner - it distils the whole story into five words and includes a celebrity name in full. The only drawback is the slightly idiosyncratic spelling of the star's name - had Google been around in the mid-80s, any dyslexic users searching under "Freddy Star" would've missed out on seeing this.

"KING ELVIS DEAD" (1977) and "JACKO DEAD" (2009) - two headlines about famous pop stars dying, but the Elvis one scores more SEO points in this run-off. To most of us Elvis was... Elvis, whereas Jacko reeks of journalese - clichés disseminated by journalists but with little currency in the real world. In short, most people would search for "Michael Jackson" not "Jacko".

But at least that's better than the headline on the day after Ronnie Barker died. With just Barker's trademark glasses cast under a spotlight and the headline "GOODNIGHT FROM HIM" (2005), it was a work of understated beauty (most un-Sun-like). But it's an SEO no-go - no name, no mention of demise, no hits.

"GOTCHA" (1982) - this notorious headline that marked the sinking of the Argentine cruiser the General Belgrano in the Falklands War (and was swiftly replaced in later editions) is a stinker on the SEO front. Got-what?

"STICK IT UP YOUR JUNTA" (1982) - also from the Falklands campaign, the obscuring of the story behind a pun is a red rag to the SEO police.

"UP YOURS DELORS" (1990) - not an SEO beauty it nevertheless warrants more than nul points for at least including a surname.

"IF KINNOCK WINS TODAY WILL THE LAST PERSON TO LEAVE BRITAIN PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS" (1992) - long headlines rate well in SEO terms: the more words you use the more likely a user is to type one of them in. But this loses points for missing out the killer word "election" - the peg for the story.

Of course all this matters less than it might seem as newspapers such as the Sun these days operate a twin headline strategy - clever puns and large print impact in the paper, longer SEO-friendly takes on their websites.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:21 UK time, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

"Unfriend" - 'Word of the Year' in the New Oxford American Dictionary

The verb is used across several social networking sites to denote the act of removing someone as a "friend". But many prefer to use the term "defriend" and there has been some debate in the blogosphere about whether that is the more commonly used term.

More details (Guardian)

Your Letters

17:50 UK time, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Is it just me or does this photo of Gaddafi make him look uncannily like Alan Rickman?
Mike Harper, Devon, UK

Meg, Geneva, (Friday's letters) was right! Caption Competition gone, letters gone, and no, it's not my computer either. Can we get it fixed?
Allan J, Calgary, Canada
Monitor: You'll need to explain more - things seem fine from this end.

Dan (Monday's letters), your maths is all right but your assumptions aren't. To make the calculation you need to also know the average cost of a regulated and unregulated fare (you have assumed they are the same). It also isn't clear whether the stats means 40% of tickets bought are regulated or 40% of defined journey/ticket type combinations. I think it is probably the latter, in which case the number of people buying each ticket type is also required.
Ian, Winchester, UK

And I suppose it's not to late to hope John Cleese will go in for the 100m crawl?
Fred, Rotherham

Your story today about train station got me thinking... about the plural of 'roof'. In your article you used 'rooves' which I had not seen before. An online search found a split in opinion between 'roofs' and 'rooves'. Could any reader shed more light on the matter and put my mind at rest?
Marie, Orpington

Your article on train stations twice uses the phrase "total journey experience". Is that what we used to call a "train journey"?
Adam, London, UK

For sheer minimalism, try Dovey Junction. Essentially a triangular platform in the middle of nowhere, provided to assist those who forgot to change carriages at Machynlleth.
Ben Norwood, Magazine Facebook page

Paper Monitor

12:21 UK time, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's day three of the Belle de Jour unmasking - and given that day one was a Sunday, rendering day two pretty redundant in the newspaper follow-up stakes, today is when the real fireworks begin.

The Daily Telegraph has been speaking to father of Dr Brooke Magnanti, the one-time call girl and author of the Belle de Jour blog.

When Paper Monitor checked the story on its mobile device on the way into the office this morning - work never stops, don't you know - Magnanti Snr got quite a sympathetic hearing in the paper's interview (here it still is - headline: "Belle de Jour's father: I'm broken-hearted after discovering her past").

He questions on several occasions how his daughter, having been given a decent upbringing, could have strayed into prostitution.

His admission of drug use - which he blames for the severing of relations with his daughter a few years ago - is about all there is to count against him.

But in print (and here on the Telegraph website) it's a different matter entirely - with Paul Magnanti confessing in the Daily Telegraph that he had paid for sex with more than 150 women.

"[I]t may have affected her... I guess she came to the realisation that prostitutes are just people," he reveals.

That's quite a major line for a journalist to have overlooked in the first draft.

But could the Daily Mail offer up some clues here?

It too has spoken to Mr Magnanti, and extracted the "vice girl" confession from him.

Paper Monitor is only speculating, but could it be that when the Telegraph saw the Mail's line it decided to revisit the interview and maybe glean some stronger quotes from Mr M?

Aside from the reporting, the columnists have all piled into this story too. And let's face it - when there's pages of newsprint to fill, it's hard not to morally judge this woman.

There's Bel Mooney in the Mail - "How can such a clever woman be so stupidly naïve about this sleazy world?"

The Telegraph has ex-editor of the Erotic Review, Rowan Pelling, to say, well, never mind Dr Magnanti's prostitution, just admire the prose.

Meanwhile, the Guardian's Tanya Gold is worried that Dr Magnanti - as portrayed by Billie Piper in the ITV2 dramatisation of Belle de Jour's exploits - will distort the "grim reality of prostitution".

Physical assaults, verbal threats, sexual violence - that's the truth about most prostitution, rather than Belle de Jour's varnished experiences.

Good job then they didn't use a picture of La Piper - ever varnished and wholesome looking - to illustrate the piece. Er...

UPDATE 1333 BST: Paper Monitor has just been digesting the Sun's "greatest front pages" supplement as part of the paper's 40th anniversary celebrations. At number one is "Freddie Starr ate my hamster" from March 1986. The paper has lined up Starr who thanks it for "the greatest piece of publicity I've ever had". Only in the small print below the reproduction of the page does the paper acknowledge that the story was "made up by... Max Clifford".

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:46 UK time, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

"It's better to imagine it than to taste it. That way it keeps its mystery" - Al Fastier, who has been charged with recovering Shackleton's whisky

It's lain untouched for a century, but now the whiskey left behind in the Antarctic ice by explorer Ernest Shackleton is to be recovered. But Al Fastier, who is leading the expedition, has pledged not to sample the brew.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

16:11 UK time, Monday, 16 November 2009

What about the head, fins and tail ?
Paul Greggor, London

Today's Springsteen quote is indeed very Spinal Tap, but a headline on Dutch Ceefax today is equally old fashioned rock 'n roll custom: "Metal band trashes hotel room", about a Norwegian band causing 5000 euros worth of damage to a Dutch hotel room. Nothing new, of course, but the Dutch Ceefax service presented it as its main headline today, as if these things had never happened before.
Johan van Slooten, Urk, The Netherlands

I know my math skills aren't quite what they used to be, but I'm pretty certain that if the total fare increase is 1.1% and we know that 40% of the fares decrease by 0.4%, that means that the remaining 60% went up by 2.1%. So did we really need Atoc to tell us that in the first place?
Dan, Cambridge

Jonny (Friday Letters) - you have it the wrong way around. The test was whether CD is better than iPod, so the CD player should have been connected to the same model of dock for a fair comparison. and I'll bet you any money the CD would still have won.
Richard, Reading

Close encounters of the furred kind? Sorry, I'll get my chinchilla...
Rob, London, UK

Wouldn't putting the forest park "firmly in the spotlight" rather defeat the point?
Adam, London, UK

Paper Monitor

12:47 UK time, Monday, 16 November 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

How old is the Sun? As the king of the red-tops launches a week of celebrations marking its 40th anniversary, Paper Monitor was momentarily left scratching its head as it recalled this moment from the Magazine archive.

It seems the latest 40th anniversary is merely that of the Sun being bought by Rupert Murdoch and going tabloid.

But the Sun's reprint of a selection of pages from its issue of 40 years ago still provides a diverting moment or two.

"Are beautiful women really to be envied? Can beauty be a handicap? A remarkable series of interviews with some of the most beautiful women of our time begins today on Page 15." It could almost be today. Eerie.

Page two's leader explains the strangely Mao-tinged slogan that the paper adopted: "Forward with the people." It admits: "It is not original."

The now veteran cartoonist Posy Simmonds gets an extraordinary introduction on page four. "Who is Posy?" the blurb asks. "Posy Simmonds 24. Single. Lives in Holborn, London." It asks: "What is she?"

And then the legend: "Freelance artist Public School, Two Years Starving in Paris, Tap-Dancing as a hobby."

And of course, the first page three girl makes her bow. Clothed.

Elsewhere in redtop world, there is clearly a mandate at Daily Star towers - Jordan in the Jungle is the splash every day.

On Friday, it was: "Jordan: I'm going to be Queen of the Jungle."

Today, it's: "JORDAN: MY GIRL ON GIRL JUNGLE LUST."

Apart from puzzling Paper Monitor about whether the Daily Star even has a style entry on capitalisation of headlines or indeed hyphenation of "GIRL ON GIRL", today's headline leaves one puzzled.

Paper Monitor would assume Ms Price must have commented on her "GIRL ON GIRL JUNGLE LUST".

Searching for said quotes is rather like searching for edible material in the bushtucker challenge.

Monday's Quote of the Day

10:07 UK time, Monday, 16 November 2009

"Hello, Ohio!" - Bruce Springsteen addresses an audience in Michigan

Exhibiting Spinal Tap levels of pop star inappropriateness, the king of blue collar rock got his mid-Western geography in a bit of a twist at a recent concert, name-checking on several occasions the neighbouring state. It was 30 minutes before his guitarist had a quiet word in the Boss's ear.
More details (MSNBC)

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