BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 5, 2010 - December 11, 2010

10 things we didn't know last week

19:08 UK time, Friday, 10 December 2010

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

1. Starfish have a Teflon-like non-stick surface.
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2. There's a condition that can cause teenagers to sleep for weeks on end.
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3. Soap opera can be live.
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4. There are currently no machines that can correct flawed banknotes. But there will be soon.
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5. Jim Morrison may actually not have exposed himself at a Miami concert in 1969.
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6. Taking photos of children at nativity plays is not against the law..
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7. There could be planets made of diamond.
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8. More than half of all adults in the EU are overweight.
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9. Almost one in five off-licences in Britain went under last year.
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10. Patients recover quicker from surgery when looking at trees.
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Caption Competition

13:01 UK time, Friday, 10 December 2010


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week it was Sainsbury's staff dressing up to promote the release of the latest Shrek DVD.

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

6. LaurenceLane
See mum! See dad! And you said a degree in Media Studies was a waste of time!

5. SimonRooke
Shrek - the work experience years.

4. Steele Hawker
Next week, we're promoting "Last Tango in Paris" on DVD, so I hope the weather improves a bit.

3. blogbuster
Ogre-worked and underpaid.

2. Valerie Ganne
We had twelve inches of snow this morning, but now it looks like Wayne.

1. Kieran Boyle
North-facing employee succumbs to moss.

Paper Monitor

09:31 UK time, Friday, 10 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Panic on the streets of London. The prime minister - a confirmed Smiths fan - must surely have recalled Morrissey's lyric as he surveyed coverage of rioting by anti-tuition fees protesters in the morning papers.

The revolutionary symbolism too neat to resist, nearly all of Fleet Street's front pages are dominated by images of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall's car coming under attack.

Nearly all, that is, apart from the high-minded Independent, which leads on a more egalitarian image of police and students sluggling it out, and the Daily Star, which, reliably enough, judges that the most important story of the day concerns the X Factor.

Condemnation of rioting is, of course, uniform. "What happened on the streets of Westminster yesterday was a disgrace," thunders the Times, attacking "stupid, graceless acts of violence" against the police and property.

Likewise, the Sun charges the protesters with "shaming Britain" by climbing the Cenotaph, defacing a statue of Winston Churchill and torching Trafalgar Square's Christmas tree. It insists that higher tuition fees were "inevitable" because many graduates "earn far more than hard-up taxpayers who have been subsidising their degrees".

"Not even police horses were spared the fury of the rabble," fumes the Daily Mail, ever alert for an animal cruelty angle. "In Parliament Square, protesters deliberately tried to injure the animals and knock their riders to the ground."

However, not all the papers reserve their ire exclusively for the protesters.

The Daily Mirror joins its competitors to "utterly condemn" disorder which it describes as "appalling," "mindless" and "utterly unwarranted".

But it focuses its fury on Liberal Democrat MPs who voted to support the increase, having pledged to do the opposite before the election.

Over four pages, its coverage of the unrest is headed "THE FIB-DEM RIOT", alongside a picture of the party's leader with a Pinocchio-style extended nose unless we missed the point. "The credibility of double-dealing Nick Clegg and his pathetic Lib Dems went up in flames yesterday," its leader furiously proclaims.

The Guardian questions police tactics, raising complaints about the "kettling" of demonstrators and the use of force by officers. It adds: "The atmosphere for much of the afternoon had been relaxed and almost cheerful as many among the crowd repeated chants, danced to portable sound systems or huddled around small fires made from burning placards."

For once, Paper Monitor has read enough. The blizzard of images of disorder and casualty statistics calls to mind another couplet by the prime minister's favoured lyricist:

Someone's beaten up
And the senses being dulled are mine.

Your Letters

15:54 UK time, Thursday, 9 December 2010

"Kleine-Levin Syndrome usually affects teenage boys, who can also exhibit hypersexuality and inappropriate behaviour". So apart from the unusual sleep patterns, how are these symptoms unique for teenage boys?
Martin, Bristol, UK

This book may be rare, but I've got a copy of what must surely be one of the rarest books in the world: Irish Dancing, Volume 2: The Arms. I'll get my bodhran...
Sue, London

Re: grown women dress like a toddler. It's the reverse of sexualising children. Instead, make the adult look like a child.
Iain F MacMillan @BBC News Magazine

Vuvuzelas may have made the SA World Cup unique, but it's not the last we'll hear of them. I can hear some as I type, coming from the student protest in central London
Aine, London

Have the US Treasury Dept not realised that they could solve two problems in one go? Employ people to sort through these notes and pay them with these coins?
Lisa, Cambridge, UK

What a great example of instant karma.
B Brown, Bristol

Happy Easter all! Yup, first Creme Egg spotted today.
Metherer, North Yorkshire

Paper Monitor

13:32 UK time, Thursday, 9 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has a confession - it doesn't perhaps give the Daily Star as much attention as some of the other daily papers. Followers may have noticed.

But it was reminded of the paper recently when listening to a radio show on which a waggish presenter pointed out that these days its front page features either X Factor or Jordan.

But that's not the case with today's Star - it's X Factor AND Jordan on the front.

"Jordan & Peter reunited over sick TV show" and "Dannii: Queen of X Factor"

Inside, the paper has decided to indulge in a little festive experimentation in its bid to find out "WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN WE SET OUR HEARTS ON THOSE PREZZIES".

"Scientists reckon the Christmas dash can play merry hell with your health sending blood pressure levels soaring by up to 50%"

And what better way to discover the truth than rig up a "sexy Page 3 girl" and Andy, a "self-confessed Christmas blagger" - whatever that may be - with heart monitors before despatching them to the nearest shopping centre.

To monitor a change in heart rate, one's resting heart rate first needs to be measured.

Page 3 girl Rachel comes in at 74 beats per minute. As for 70bpm Andy... "I'm already at a disadvantage. My heart rate went through the roof when I saw Rachel."

The Scientific American, this ain't.

Sure enough the pair seem to divide down gender lines with Rachel's heart rate being quickened by party dresses, shoes and handbags, and Andy's by plasma TVs, remote control cars and, yes, lingerie.

But just in case it seemed like a fruitless exercise in sex over science, the Star drafts in a GP to analyse the results. "Rachel... got a bit flustered... [while] Andy... needs a nice lie down."

Dr Ben Goldacre, are you reading?

Your Letters

16:16 UK time, Wednesday, 8 December 2010

So Phillip Hammond tells us that there is a government "code of practice" for shovelling snow. Why doesn't that make me feel any better?
Kipson, Norwich, UK
Monitor note: How about this?

So Turn Back Time: The High Street (Britain's changing High Street) basically proved that people will shop at supermarkets even when they say they prefer smaller stores?
Robert Weeks @BBC Magazine

Anyone else think Tom Webb (Tuesday letters) is probably a spy and trying to divert our attention?
Paul, Ipswich

Wait...Paper Monitor has a father?! I had always assumed that he/she/it was immaculately conceived (Tuesday letters).
Joel, Hamburg, Germany

Take no notice of your father, he lacks sense with or without those dreadful sweaters. We'll see you on 25th: the Browns are bringing their eldest, who's married (!!) to a real journalist with a newspaper and everything. If you can spare a moment, do let me know if you're in the middle of a food fad, but to be honest it would be easier all round if you had just let yourself go again.
Love you xx.
Mrs Monitor (Senior), Mayfair, London

Michael in Croydon (Tuesday letters) - lucky you, I'm still hitting ones from last year.
Paul Greggor, London (N)

Paper Monitor addressed the question of whether it's OK for a grown woman to dress like a four-year-old. It's better than dressing children like adults, but is it so hard to be oneself and embrace whatever age that is?
Nadja Wolfe @BBC News Magazine

Thought you were talking about Ann Widdecombe dressing up as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz for her Movie Strictly Come Dancing special - that was so wrong on so many counts.
Lesley Gilchrist @BBC News Magazine

Paper Monitor

11:19 UK time, Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Well. As if the gossip motherlode that is the latest Wikileaks, er, leak of US diplomatic cables isn't enough, now Jemina Khan has been added to the mix. Oh, and John Pilger and Ken Loach too.

In yet another so-odd-you-couldn't-have-made-it-up development, Khan, Pilger and Loach pitched up at the court for the extradition hearing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

"The court learned that a raggle-taggle of 'household names' were prepared to stake their reputation on his case, offering sureties to the court with a total value of £180,000," the Guardian reports, but Assange was denied bail.

Early editions of the Times have the socialite and charity fundraiser Khan front and centre (bumped in later editions after the late-night arrest of the groom in the South African carjack killing case).

The Daily Mail also runs her photo, under the headline "Luvvies who couldn't save him".

The Guardian, above such considerations, opts for a super-size aerial shot of Loach mobbed by what appears to be all 80-odd journalists said to be at the scene, and a much smaller snap of Khan on a sidebar.

Meanwhile, the other papers are rather taken with last night's British Fashion Awards... not least for the wordplay opportunities afforded by Samantha Cameron and Victoria Beckham being in the same room.
"Posh and Victoria" - Daily Telegraph
"Posh and Posher" - Sun
"BeckSam!" - Daily Mirror, which adds "Very Posh and Becks" on Page Three, where it gives its verdicts on the outfits in attendance.

The shy and retiring Kelly Brook gets a thumbs down for showing too much leg and "way too much up top". And Alexa Chung, in a peachy pink, Peter Pan-collared dress (pictured below), tells the paper she likes to "look like a four-year-old".

Which is just plain creepy.

A grown woman in toddler's clothing is, as Paper Monitor learned while reading Monday's G2, sporting what is known as Bonpoint Chic, according to lifestyle guru Ask Hadley.

"Princess coats, woolly tights, long scarves: all of these have been popularised for adults by labels such as Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs and become known as Bonpoint Chic because they look like the clothes sold by Bonpoint, the super-dooper posh and expensive children's clothing company."

For the wonderful Hadley has been asked whether, in this weather, it's OK to sport a "cute childlike look". The answer, you'll be relieved to hear, is: "It certainly is - if you are a child. Under any other circumstances, it most certainly is not."

Not only is there the danger of slipping from Bonpoint Chic into "Paedo Chic", she warns, but also "the risk of being co-opted into the Cruise family" if one looks too much like Tom's daughter Suri.

Did you hear that Alex Chung? (The one on the right. No, left. Er...)

Your Letters

16:06 UK time, Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Russian spy claims shock father is a bit irrelevant. If I was a spy, I'd hope my dad wouldn't know anything about it, otherwise my skills of being a spy would be a bit rubbish.
Tom Webb, Surbiton, UK

I've just hit the first pothole of the season.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

You asked Where were you when you first heard about John Lennon's death? Eight and a half months pregnant with first child - who is now also a Jon Lennon fan.
Pauline Elliott @BBC News Magazine

Getting ready for work where later we lit candles in the staff room.
Simon Midgley @BBC News Magazine

Playing wall-ball in the playground before school started. Never been a fan but do remember clearly being told the news by a classmate.
Rob Lowery @BBC News Magazine

Paper Monitor accuses the MP in the Russian Spy Beauty story of poor taste because he was wearing a "Lurid Pink Jumper". Is this the same young Monitor who, not 12 months ago, presented me with a Pink Cardigan which was at least part way along the Lurid spectrum, and the previous year a "Winter Scene Sweater", the pattern of which included a Red-Nosed Reindeer and who has this year, according to family gossip, already procured for me a "Baby Blue Jersey" in size XL, when you know I'm no more than an L? Still, it's the thought that counts - keep the receipt and give it to your mother.
Mr Monitor (Senior), Mayfair, London
Monitor note: [crushed look] But... Dad... you said you liked that sweater. It brought out Mother's eyes...

Re Do trees make people happy, how apposite that the comment about how much it costs to maintain trees and how many complaints they cause is posted by Janette Sadgrove.
Ray, Turku, Finland

Patrick from Singapore's letter about English words borrowed from the Welsh (Monday letters) . For a better example of an English word borrowed from Welsh, may I suggest "corgi" (from the Welsh words "cor" meaning dwarf, and "gi" (soft mutation of "ci" meaning dog). How's that, Patrick - tidy?
Helene Parry, S Wales expat to Brentford

I intend to borrow Bee Bee Cee's (Monday letters) approach after 2012: I'll inform ungrateful South Africans that rain and queues made the Olympics uniquely British.
Edward Green, London, UK

What did the first snowman say to the second snowman? "Can you smell carrots?"
Susan, Newcastle
Monitor note: Oh Susan, with that joke you're really spoiling us.

Paper Monitor

10:34 UK time, Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There's a name for people who do that. You know, people who dress up in animal costumes and then go around pretending to be that creature. Paper Monitor had thought it was a furry, after reading a Magazine story on the subject. But in this case it's a scientist, according to today's papers.

They all carry pictures of researchers in China who don panda costumes when they deal with young cubs born in captivity. It's so they don't get used to humans before they are released into the wild. And, reading between the lines, it makes the working day a bit more of a laugh.

The Guardian is so excited by the mix of cute animals and serious science story, it covers its entire centre pages with the pictures. The quips about life not being "black and white" and "panda-ring" to the cubs come thick and fast. Who would have thought being a scientist could be so wacky?

But something even weirder comes courtesy of Wikileaks - the gift that just keeps on giving. Each day it delivers yet another so-odd-you-couldn't-have-made-it-up detail. Today's offering allows the papers to link two of the unlikeliest of people - Wayne Rooney and the Burmese junta leader, Gen Than Shwe.

According to a leaked official cable from the US embassy in Burma, the military chief - a Manchester United fan - was urged by his grandson to consider a £634m bid to takeover of the club. Apparently, US diplomats believed the regime was using football to distract its population from ongoing political and economical problems.

It provides the Daily Mirror with the opportunity to print a picture of Wayne alongside one of Gen Shwe. Not something anyone in its newsroom would have ever thought they would find themselves doing before yesterday. But it's the Daily Telegraph that sums up this latest leak perfectly:

It is ridiculous, comical, scary and tragic in equal measure

So what will tomorrow bring? Trying to guess is Paper Monitor's favourite new game. Will we discover Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe wanted to book Barbara Windsor for his very own panto? You never know.

Your Letters

15:26 UK time, Monday, 6 December 2010

The most comedy thing about this is the manner in which the journalist felt it necessary, half way down the page, to clarify exactly which four letter swear word was uttered. Hard to imagine how anyone could achieve confusion over this.
Jonny, Leicester

This made my Monday morning, added bonus of nominative determinism too.
Jo, Aylesbury (was Reading)

Mr Naughtie surely just living up to his nominative determinism by "inadvertently using the first letter of the culture secretary's title to replace the 'H' in Mr Hunt's surname". And that should win the "Most Cagey Description of a Swear Word" prize.
Sarah, Nantwich

Naughtie by name, naughty by nature.
Dan, Cambridge

"How the ancient Welsh language helped shape English" wasn't very convincing. You mean that after 1,500 years of the two languages living alongside each other, the main borrowings from Welsh have been "penguin" (OK), "cwtch", "merchet" and "cariad"? When did you last hear an English person use the latter three?
Patrick, Singapore

I live not far from this pub. One of my friends has suggested we head straight there next time heavy snow is forecast.
Phil, Guisborough

"No annoying vuvuzelas... and nine other reasons to be cheerful that football's NOT coming home." Sour grapes anyone? And vuvuzelas were what made the WC uniquely South African, so stick that in your vuvu and smoke it.
Bee Bee Cee @BBC News Magazine

Regarding the snowman theft. Reported sightings of the stolen snowman have been coming in from up and down the country.
Darren, Leicester

Paper Monitor

12:34 UK time, Monday, 6 December 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The papers have a new cover girl this morning - 25-year-old Katia Zatuliveter. The Russian, who has been accused of spying while working as a parliamentary aide for Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock, graces the front of the Guardian, with a brandy glass clasped in her right hand.

"The MP, his Russian aide and questions over Trident" runs the headline.

Yikes. The T word makes it sound scary. Allegations centre around Mr Hancock being prompted to ask questions in Parliament about Britain's sensitive nuclear defence issues. So what is this woman said to have uncovered?

The Guardian publishes a number of questions posed by Mr Hancock in the House of Commons, complete with revelatory answers from Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox, which include:

"We have no plans to publish an historical inventory"
"We have no plans to publish follow up documents..."

Wikileaks won't be quaking in its boots just yet.

The Telegraph and Express both picture Miss Zatuliveter in a slightly more revealing pose than the Guardian's - on a rooftop with midriff showing and pants just brimming above her trouser waist.

"Farewell Katia... Russia's foxy spy in the House" runs the Express's headline. Foxy? No disrespect but, as a colleague put it, if Anna Chapman set the bar for modern-day Mata Haris, then Miss Z has some way to go.

The Mail relegates the story to its inside pages, but goes with a large picture of Miss Z posing on a beach with a raffia skirt and bikini top. "Blonde temptress" is the picture caption.

And what of Mr Hancock himself. The Times makes clear "There is no suggestion [he] has acted improperly". But that doesn't stop the Guardian putting the boot in.

"Veteran marginalised over questions of judgment" it says over a profile piece.

And looking at the picture of Mr Hancock in a lurid pink cable knit sweater, Paper Monitor has to agree.

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