BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for October 10, 2010 - October 16, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

17:04 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

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

1. Chinese apple trees are pollinated by hand.
More details

2. There have been 39 marriages between Riverdance cast members.
More details (Guardian)

3. Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are related.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

4. Eighty percent of young women in Finland go to university.
More details

5. Hermaphrodite dogs exist.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

6. Noise affects taste.
More details

7. The chairman of Liverpool FC supports Chelsea.
More details (Guardian)

8. Martin Freeman of The Office turned down the part of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

9. Insects are attracted by the colour of wind turbines.
More details

10. Bilingual children get confused less easily.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Vic Barton-Walderstadt for this week's picture of 10 autumn leaves.

Your Letters

16:52 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

You may have missed an opportunity for Quote of the Day, methinks: "You must never cross the Atlantic in an airship without a cat."
Keith, Whitstable, UK

Re: Paper Monitor. Nutritionists can give conflicting advice? Next thing you tell me it was from a dead cat!
Edd, Cardiff

Paper Monitor's "better half" would complain on environmental grounds. Ah, so PM is female. Oh, hold on - my wife's reading. PM would be male, then.
Ed, Clacton, UK

PollySaxon (Thursday letters) - maybe PM is suffering from PMT? Paper Monitor Tension.
Judy, Leeds

As a cuddy wifter I challenge the idea that ball-point pens don't smudge (Thursday letters). It is a rare ballpoint indeed that doesn't leave the side of my little finger covered in ink after a few hours use. I have one but I can't remember where I bought it.
Phil, Guisborough

There should be a link between this and the famous passenger complaint letter to Sir Richard Branson ("Look at this Richard. Just look at it.") Still makes me laugh...
Rusty, Montreal, Canada

So apparently bats are more likely to be killed by wind turbines at night and during the summer... because the turbines attract migrating insects.
Nothing to do with being nocturnal and hibernating in winter then?
Tom F, Cardiff

Caption Competition

13:17 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010


Winning entries in the caption competition.

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

This week it was Prime Minister David Cameron greeting the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, at Downing Street.

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

6. cometcycle
The Terminator meets the Fixed Term-inator

5. Neil
As David gave the great news about the 33 Chilean miners, Arnie whispered, "How many's a chillion?"

4. SkarloeyLine
I'm not saying little Florence is a handful, but meet the babysitter.

3. BaldoBingham
Sorry Arnie, but you've been quangoed.

2. Valerie Ganne
Well, I look more like your twin than Danny DeVito

1. Nick Fowler
Yeah, Nick's been spending a lot of time in the gym recently.

Paper Monitor

10:49 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has that Friday feeling. The working week is almost done and thoughts turn to a little high-living.

After a week living off the meagre rations of Paper Monitor's store cupboard, perhaps a slap-up meal is in order. But what should be on the menu?

Keen followers of the UK's media may be a tad confused about what exactly is healthy, given the seemingly endless stream of conflicting reports that appear on a daily basis.

So full marks to the Daily Express, which tries to spell out the facts and bust the myths about "superfoods". (How Paper Monitor detests these trendy terms).

Popeye, it turns out, was a fraud. Spinach is "not so super", according to nutritionist Angela Dowden.

While high in iron and said to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and certain eye problems, it seems curly kale is better - and you would have to eat up to five servings per week to feel the benefit. (Paper Monitor's better half might object on environmental grounds).

Others branded "not so super" are soy - including those painfully fashionable edamame beans, blueberries, extra virgin olive oil and, rather disappointingly, red wine.

Eggs, on the other hand, are "worth it". It seems warnings about them being high in cholesterol have been brushed aside since they "contain a substance that blocks the absorption of cholesterol into the blood stream".

Ingredients left on the menu include oily fish, avocados, pomegranates and baked beans. This could be an interesting meal.

Paper Monitor was already recovering from last week's news that potatoes were turning purple.

Now the Daily Mail has news that sprouts, are also changing colour.

A new variety of the vegetable, the red sprout, is expected to be a hit this year as it is supposedly milder and sweeter than the bitter-tasting traditional green version.

"Bitter-tasting?" What an outrageous suggestion. And it gets worse. Just a few pages later, Anne Shooter extols the virtues of all foods purple, on grounds that they "tend to particularly healthy as they contain anthocyanins... powerful antioxidants which protect cells from damage and so may prevent cancer".

There are recipes for Purple Soup - featuring those new-fangled spuds, Mauve fishcakes with roast chips, Purple Carrot Cake and Blackberry Fool.

These fashion foods have given Paper Monitor a headache and that Friday feeling is but a distant memory.

The only remedy must be a nice cup of old-fashioned English breakfast tea. Hang on, the nutritionist's verdict on a cuppa: "Not so super?" Crushed.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:31 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

"Someone's nicked all of the police toilets. We have nothing to go on." - spoof tweet of a call to Greater Manchester Police

Once police in Manchester decided, in a blaze of publicity, to tweet all their emergency calls during one 24-hour period, it was inevitable that others would mimic them with humorous Twitter feeds of their own.

Full details (Times) [subscription site]

Your Letters

16:10 UK time, Thursday, 14 October 2010

Amy (Wednesday letters) - you can see the picture and still get the bus home...
Paul I, St. G, Cornwall

Am I alone in wondering about the logic of the Queen's decision to cancel her staff's party? If the Queen normally pays for it (as it has been reported elsewhere), why should her staff miss out because the country's finances are in a mess?
Paul Stanch, Newcastle, UK

Re: Schwarzenegger drops in on No 10. I'm disappointed there was no parachute or rope ladder from a helicopter involved.
Lester, London, UK

"The world's shortest youth becomes a man." I clicked on this expecting something a bit more racy. Another for the Disappointing Headlines Watch, or is it just me?
Sarah, Nantwich

Re: fountain pens (Wednesday letters): It must depend on the individual person because as a left-hander I've found the opposite. The nib on a fountain pen turns the way an individual uses it, so a left-hander can never use a right-hander's pen as it scratches on the paper; a ball pen, on the other hand, runs smoothly no matter what and doesn't smudge if you are one of those left-handers whose hand goes over what has just been written.
Kay, London, UK

Amazingly I too find myself subjected to greater pain when caught carrying around pictures of my "equally attractive acquaintances" than pictures of my spouse.
Kat Gregg, Coventry

PM - I know I spoke harshly to you the other day but, really, is this pit of despond necessary? People are killed or harmed doing or going to or from their work every day somewhere in the world. The news of the Chilean miners is so uplifting and a real good news day - can't we revel in that? Is something troubling PM?
PollySaxon, Lichfield

Paper Monitor

13:06 UK time, Thursday, 14 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There's only been one story dominating the news these last few days.

But while the 70-day ordeal in Chile has ended happily, the perils of working underground has been further underlined thousands of miles north in Missouri, US.

Compared with the blanket coverage of "The 33", it's a minor story tucked away in the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail.

Sewage worker Daniel Collins was swept away when his safety line became detached as a surge of storm water carried him away.

A frantic hunt along 1.5 miles of pipes eventually found him one mile from where he was working, and lifted him out.

He's now in a critical condition in hospital, although rescue workers said it was a miracle he was still alive.

Thirty-three happy endings in the Atacama Desert.

One not-so-happy one in Missouri.

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:48 UK time, Thursday, 14 October 2010

"The old mine went very quiet" - Manuel Gonzalez, the last man to leave the San Jose mine

Mr Gonzalez was the first rescuer to enter the mine and he spent an agonising 12 minutes on his own.

Full details (Guardian)

Your Letters

15:26 UK time, Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Will the middle class ever be comfortable again? You mean comfortably paying their huge debt as opposed to uncomfortably like now? True comfort will only come when people stop borrowing everything just to appear richer.
Kat A Laroche @BBC Magazine

I was about to comment on the article about the furour surrounding the Gap logo change. The I noticed your disclaimer at the bottom of the comments: "At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws". Is it really so dangerous to comment on 21st century marketing and product rebranding?
Martin, Bristol, UK

Thanks to the Magazine I was brought to a state of inner turmoil - would seeing the picture of a penguin slapping a seal be worth my bus fare? NB, I still haven't seen it... though I want to!
Amy, Cambridge

Mrs Thatcher is 85 today but she's been knocked off the news by Chilean miners. Iron ore vs the Iron Lady?
Candace, New Jersey, US

This is an amazing picture. Even more amazing are the photography details given underneath. Maybe the headline should have been "BBC in providing technical information shocker".
Bob Peters, Leeds, UK

When did fountain pens become banned in GCSEs? I hope this doesn't disadvantage any left-handed students, ballpoint pens don't always work very well for people who have to push pens across the page to write. I've had this problem with many such pens of different brands and prices.
Nicole, Germany (originally from Greater London)

I'm sure i'm missing something very obvious here, but the picture for this spending squeeze story just says 'Mouse a la lime' to me, and surely times aren't quite that tough.
Sarah, Nantwich

Paper Monitor

09:50 UK time, Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Let joy be unconfined! Paper Monitor hails the return of Times 2 as a standalone pull-out section, the lifestyle and features pages having latterly been relegated to an indeterminate position at the back of the book somewhere beyond the business coverage.

Now restored as a proper, take-it-out-and-discard-the-rest-of-the-paper supplement complete with staples to reinforce its separate identity, it once again integrates the interviews, fashion tips, TV listings and Sudoku into one complete package.

The main paper carries a knowing, if slightly odd, leader [subscription required] in praise of the return of the staples. This promises Times 2: The Return has been brought back by "popular demand" and will be "bigger, smarter, funnier, punchier" for having been resurrected:

Just as Mamma Mia! won fresh fans for the music of Abba. Just as Frank Sinatra's voice grew smokier with each comeback. Just as Doctor Who returned to entrance viewers who weren't yet born when the original series was exterminated.

Who imagined that Jonathan Franzen, having already written what critics had crowned the great American novel in The Corrections, would trump it by then writing an even greater American novel in Freedom? And haunting as Leonard Cohen's rendition of Hallelujah was the first time around, did it not enjoy still greater success when reprised by Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and Alexandra Burke?

Paper Monitor detects the echo of tongue in cheek. But the pledge of greater daily riches is one this column can heartily welcome.

On a sadder, if uplifting note, there are generous tributes to the memory of Claire Rayner from her agony aunt peers.

In the Sun, her successor at the paper, Deirdre - no surname offered, the prefix "Dear" being enough to identify her - pays homage to a "fearless campaigner and champion for the little people".

Dr Miriam Stoppard in the Daily Mirror calls her a "beacon of justice, fairness, honesty and common sense".

Even the Daily Mail - not normally a staunch supporter of the causes championed by Ms Rayner, such as republicanism, humanism and greater frankness about sex - gives over a double-page spread in which Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy praises her friend.

Paper Monitor may be an unreliable source of relationship advice, but warmly endorses the above sentiments regardless.

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

09:06 UK time, Wednesday, 13 October 2010

"I suppose it's not a letter up the chimney, but the design of the site looks chimney-ish" - Karen MacLachlan, marketing director of Argos, whose new online programme for children to send wish lists to Father Christmas has been accused of undermining the festive magic.

Children using a dedicated Argos website can scroll the thousands of toys and and "send the list to Santa". The parenting website Netmums argues it is "really sad" that traditional family rituals are being undermined, but Ms MacLachlan insists the company is "paranoid" about keeping the occasion special.

More details (Daily Telegraph)

Your Letters

15:26 UK time, Tuesday, 12 October 2010

"Will life for the 33 Chilean miners ever be the same again?" Of course not - they'll all become miner celebrities.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

To Nadja (Friday letters) and Mark (Monday letters): it's a hippo!
Jo K, London

How can you tease me about a photo of a penguin punching a seal in the face (Paper Monitor, Tuesday) when I need a subscription to the Times to view it?! How disappointing...
Jen, Chichester

Helen Boaden said: "Mark is larger than life in every sense." Is she calling him fat?
Basil Long, Nottingham

Wow. Jenny T (Monday letters) tells us that Sweden has 952 Nobel prizes per capita. I make that 8,777,094,424 in all!
Al, Wellington NZ

Danny from St Helens doesn't appear to have escaped very far - if at all!
S Capee, Marlow, UK

Surely pessimistic dogs would display more of a bowl half full attitude?
Sue, London

Paper Monitor

11:42 UK time, Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Outside, it's autumn - season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and picking out a nice big chunky coat for the winter ahead.

In anticipation of bright, chilly mornings, yellowing leaves and switching on the central heating, Paper Monitor switches on Radio 4, settles down with a pot of tea and toast with marmalade to see how Fleet Street welcomes in those lengthening nights.

In the Daily Mail, none other than David Bellamy assures us that, this year, the "richness of the autumn colours" is "set to last well into November".

He adds:

The experts at the National Arboretum say that some trees are turning much later than usual because of the mild weather, their green leaves contrasting beautifully with the reds, plums and oranges more usually associated with the season.

All this surely makes any right-thinking person want to go for a nice, long walk, draped in a scarf, Thermos buried in rucksack.

Even the Guardian, that most metropolitan of papers, is in on the act, too. On its front page is an image of a deer nestling inside some browning foliage. Its centre spread is given over to an image of another one having a nice sit down in the sharp October sunlight.

However, Paper Monitor's favourite nature story of the day comes not from these autumnal shores but from the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia.

The Times shows a photograph of a king penguin on one of the islands' beaches punching a seal in the face [Subscription required].

Photographer Robert Fuller offers a frank eye-witness account:

Several seals had just come out of the surf and were lying on the shore blocking the penguins from getting to the water. This young penguin was very annoyed and just went up and slapped the seal.

Paper Monitor resolves to beat the crowds by taking a flightless bird on that impending winter coat-purchasing expedition.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

10:00 UK time, Tuesday, 12 October 2010

"Isaac, we are British. We must learn how to queue" - Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, overheard talking to his son.

According to the Daily Mail's diarist, Mr Miliband was observed dispensing the advice by a set of playground swings in Primrose Hill, north London. Clearly such niceties were not observed by his younger brother, Ed, who overtook him in the Labour pecking order to win the party's leadership.

More details (Daily Mail)

Your Letters

17:52 UK time, Monday, 11 October 2010

With regard to your article High and Dry. Totally agree, the HOA's in many parts of the USA abuse their power to stop line drying of clothes. My HOA in North Carolina allows it if it is screened, and it is pretty easy to do. However, our climate is so warm here we line dry in our attic, and protect the clothes from the dust with radiant barrier. It is easy to do and stops any form of HOA intervention.
Darrell Edgley, Durham, NC, USA

Pedantry fail, Joe in Folkestone: local mean time in Bristol is later than local mean time in London - the sun rises in the east!
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

"I'm proud to be making entire rocket-launchers and tanks for our armed forces," says Lena, who is stitching a surface-to-air missile system. Quote of the day! Come on!!
Martin, Bristol, UK

I was interested to learn that decoy artillery and tanks are being deployed in my neighborhood. But BBC, how could you call it inventive, when this exact stunt of fake armies was done so beautifully by Britain et al, as part of the Allied Operation Fortitude, which convinced Hitler that D-Day was a feint?
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Sorry - can't possibly accept your arithmetic on "which country has the best brains". The US has approximately five times the number of people as the UK and France, almost four times as many as Germany, and 34 times as many as Sweden. Revamping those figures against the number of Nobels won, Sweden is the clear winner with a per capita 952, followed by the UK with 585, Germany with 385, the US with 323, and France with 282 prizes. Your article actually was about "most brains" not "best brains".
JennyT, NY Brit

Is this the lady that's been filling my inbox asking for money?
Richard, Brighton, UK

Greetings. Having just completed your survey on the site. I would just like to say thank you. This is the first time I have ever been able to select "English" as an option for my nationality. This has made my day.
Denton Smyth, Hastings, East Sussex

Nadja, wouldn't it therefore also be "dark age" to assume that only females can "mother"? Political correctness is a minefield - I think it's far better to use words as they are generally understood, lest we start talking nonsense... clearly the tortoise did not father the rhino.
Mark, Bridge

"Paper Monitor suspects that - unlike the press - he may be missing the point." (Paper Monitor, Monday) Mystery of PM's sex - solved?
James, London

Monitor notes: Anyone guess who's really missing the point here?

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:38 UK time, Monday, 11 October 2010

"A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting" - Andrew Marr

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, the BBC presenter said so-called citizen journalism would never challenge the professionals. When he dismissed bloggers, he wasn't including his colleagues Nick Robinson and Robert Peston, of course.

Full details (Daily Telegraph)

Paper Monitor

09:24 UK time, Monday, 11 October 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor often wonders what goes through the minds of entertainment reporters on a Sunday.

It must be a weekly struggle to regurgitate what was on telly on Saturday evening and present it as fresh, exciting news to send papers flying off the shelves on a Monday morning.

Most fall back on the British public's seemingly insatiable appetite to read anything, however trivial, about Cheryl Cole.

"The dimpled smile remains - but there were growing fears yesterday that Cheryl Cole's popularity may be fading faster than her fake tan," reports a cattier-than-Bagpuss Danielle Gusmaroli in the Daily Mirror.

She says the Girls Aloud star had such an orange hue that many viewers, apparently, compared her to an Oompa-Loompa from Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

The Daily Star has even more grave news for the Geordie favourite, reporting that: "Tormented Cheryl wrecks X Factor."

A public backlash against Ms Cole's decision to pick Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel over Gamu Nhengu resulted in the show losing 3m viewers.

Mind you, with 13.8m people still tuning in, Paper Monitor suspects the ITV1 bosses will not be too troubled.

While someone as photogenic as Ms Cole - whatever her skin tones - is always likely to shift copies, not all assignments must be so easy.

So, every once in a while, Paper Monitor just has to sit back and applaud one of those masterpieces of modern journalism that just make you think "I wish I'd thought of that."

Such a moment was provided by page three of today's Daily Express.

Straight-talking former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe would probably be the first to admit she's not the most graceful of movers.

But it hasn't stopped her from proving a hit with viewers of that other Saturday night staple, Strictly Come Dancing.

A photo of dance partner Anton Du Beke smiling - or is that a grimace? - as he twirls the 63-year-old, blue dress billowing around her, during their salsa routine fills most of the page.

And while the pair's efforts were panned by the show's judges, Ms Widdecombe has undoubtedly captured the imagination of the public in a way that would make even John Sergeant jealous.

So, capitalising on this sudden surge of support, the Express presents the other side of the politician - as a style guru.

It notes she has "changed her image more often than Madonna" and compares her various hair styles to those of singers Gwen Stefani and Katy Perry, actress Joanna Lumley, Posh Spice and even Cheryl Cole.

Journalistic gold, considers Paper Monitor, although it's a treat denied to the Express's online version.

Ms Widdecombe might be an Express columnist but even in its rival, the Daily Mail, Claudia Connell can't resist waxing lyrical about her talents.

"We were treated to a salsa that was about as sexy as a wet kipper, as raunchy as a morris dance and, for all that, still possibly the most entertaining thing ever seen on TV."

High praise, indeed.

However, not everyone was so taken with the performance.

"It's in danger of becoming a pantomime," moaned DJ Goldie, who was voted off by viewers, in the Sun.

He reportedly complained that the show was becoming more about entertainment than dancing talent.

Paper Monitor suspects that - unlike the press - he may be missing the point.

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