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Archives for May 8, 2011 - May 14, 2011

10 things you didn't know last week

16:35 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011

10 lipsticks

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

1. French time used to be nine minutes ahead of GMT, based on the time in Paris.
More details

2. Sugar level in strawberries is calculated on the Brix scale.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

3. The first known use of the word "slut" in printed English was from 1402.
More details

4. The hemlines of school skirts in South Korea have risen 10-15cm (4-6in) in the last decade.
More details

5. The first British Tupperware was held in Weybridge, Surrey in 1960. More details

6. A Christian doomsday group in the US is warning that the end of the world - or the Rapture - will occur on Saturday 21 May.
More details (Daily Mail)

7. It costs $60,000 to train a Navy Seal dog - like the one that accompanied US special forces on the Bin Laden operation.
More details (The Times)

8. Goats are able to recognise the voices of their very young kids, and differentiate them from other animals' offspring
More details

9. Humans are naturally predisposed to believe in gods and life after death.
More details (The Telegraph)

10. The government's wine cellar contains about £2m worth of wine and spirits
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Popular elsewhere

16:17 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

The biggest hitter on the First Post's website claims the reason the White House didn't release pictures of Osama Bin Laden's body was because they felt internet pranksters couldn't be trusted not to Photoshop the picture. It quotes the US defence secretary Robert Gates in Politico as referring the picture of himself and other members of the national security committee watching the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden from the White House Situation Room. Within hours of the photograph's release, Photoshopped versions of it were all over the internet, the article explains. It illustrates the point with the version where everyone is wearing the Philip Treacy hat Princess Beatrice wore to the royal wedding.

Piers Morgan interviews Sandra Bullock's ex-husband Jesse James in CNN's most popular story. In the interview James implies that the strain in their marriage was to do with a clash in personalities. While Bullock is an Oscar winning actress, James says he belongs in the back of the shop with the guys, not showbiz. He says Bullock may have said compliments about him in acceptance speeches, but she said the same speech four times.

A popular story on NPR is a love story which started with a typo. Rachel Salazar in Bangkok and Ruben Salazar in Texas has very similar e-mail addresses. When Ruben received an e-mail to his address with some numbers after it, he figured out that it was meant for someone with the same address plus numbers. So he forwarded the message with an extra sentence from him asking how the weather is. A blossoming online friendship and a long haul trip across the world, six days after they first met, Ruben asked Rachel to marry him.

Confessions of an Ivy League cleaning lady are proving popular with readers of the Daily Beast. The stories of how the children of the rich and influential are divulged by cleaner Kia Katrina Grasty. Cue shock tale of "mounds of defecation in a bathtub" frat party are documented as she took a picture of the scene posterity.

A popular story on Adelaide Now suggests that four out of 10 single people set up a "back-up plan" with a friend. This is where the two agree that if neither of them is married by a certain age that they will marry each other. The story's case study is 27-year-olds and childhood friends Inese Meiers and Tom Nicholls who are quoted as saying they have never kissed but have agreed to marry at 30. The survey questioned 100 people for a computer company promoting their security package.

Your Letters

15:25 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011

Is it really to Mr Law's credit that he repaid all the money "misclaimed", or does it simply show he was wealthy enough to not need the money in the first place? I wouldn't have anywhere near £56k lying around if I were needing to make a similar payment, not even if I looked down the back of the sofa. The expenses system was designed, and is needed in some form, to allow all citizens the potential to afford to work as an MP, rather than just the wealthy. Obviously not the case here.
Ivan, Rayleigh, UK

Re: Sacked train man likened to novel. Come on BBC they weren't bloomers they were "red flannel petticoats"
Nadia Abdul-Sabur, Alexandria, Egypt

I'm guessing today may be filled with letters about Friday the 13th, but was anyone else crossing their fingers that it was a china shop? Also, if anyone is worried about the date, I've been assured I'm making it lucky this year, as it's my 25th birthday. Anyone feel like a pedantic row just for fun? Anyone? I feel like it's the only way to celebrate with my fellow monitorites.
Nadja, Bostonian in Moscow, Russia

Re the fact that Jedward and Blue both got into the Eurovision finals. Can I sincerely wish Jedward all the luck, cos if Blue win, it means we will have to host both the Olympics AND Eurovision in 2012...?
Kay, London, UK

Martin (Thursday's letters), it's not just you. It proves that speed is addictive.
Henri, Sidcup

Graeme of Guildford (Thursday's letters) - Surrey may have many tourist attractions but, unless it has crossed the Thames since I was there last weekend, Hampton Court isn't one of them - it's in Middlesex. If you prefer post-1965 boundaries it is in the London Borough of Richmond, as is Kew Gardens.
Tim, Kingston, Surrey

Surrey IS dull (Thursday's letters), otherwise I wouldn't be writing this.
Surrey's other Graeme, Egham, Surrey

Caption Competition

12:53 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week it was an attempt to break the world record for the most people wearing Morph suits in any one place at any one time. It was at Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire.

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

6. Pendragon
You must be at least this colourful to go on this ride

5. Raven
From a distance, it looked as if hundreds and thousands were visiting that day.

4. Nick Fowler
L.S. Lowry was dismayed to learn he had no more black paint left.

3. James F
Rollercoaster snooker fails to take off.

2. MightyGiddyUpGal
Honey, how long has that leftover fruit salad been in the fridge?

1. eattherich
How inkjet printers really work.

Paper Monitor

10:21 UK time, Friday, 13 May 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's Friday! Paper Monitor has rhapsodised before about the wonderfulness of a day that gives us both Caitlin Moran's Celebrity Watch and Marina Hyde's Lost in Showbiz columns.

But there is another reason to celebrate.

Friday is when the papers tend to deploy their big-gun reviewers to cast judgement over the music, films and plays that their readers have a weekend ahead of them to enjoy.

It's a day Paper Monitor always looks forward to keenly, not least because we can enjoy the scribblings of Alexis Petridis, the Guardian's marvellous chief rock and pop critic.

Petridis's critical persona is of a man both in love with his musical idiom yet frequently baffled by its absurdities. Customarily, his Friday lead reviews begin with a shaggy dog story, such as today's preamble to his take on a new album by Kate Bush.

Here, he considers why Ms Bush - widely hailed as one of the best songwriters of her generation - is so reluctant to speak to journalists, and revisits a selection of interviews from early in her career on YouTube:

In one, Sat in Your Lap blares madly from studio speakers, as strange and adventurous a single as anyone released in 1982. But interviewer Richard Stilgoe has more pressing matters on his mind: "You don't have any spots or pimples! What's your secret?" In another, she is prevailed upon to promote Breathing - a single, it's worth remembering, about an unborn baby slowly dying of radiation poisoning - by explaining her vegetarian diet to Delia Smith. They stare at a profoundly unappetising pot of carrot and tomatoes. "You can even cook them in Marmite," offers Bush, brightly. "I really do think there's a lot in vegetables."

But on Fridays it is not only music fans who get to enjoy good writing.

In the Times, film critic Kate Muir expresses her approval for Attack the Block, a sci-fi comedy about hoodies on a south London council estate battling an alien invasion.

But she offers a linguistic guide to those unfamiliar with the movie's vernacular:

For those without teenagers in the home, the street slang may require translating. "To merk" is to destroy or beat; "Feds" are the local constabulary; "bare" is very; "sick" is marvellous; "blud", "bruv" and "cuz" are friends; and "wagwan me homies?" means what's going on, chaps? You should also appreciate the difference between grime, hip-hop and rap to enjoy the musical accompaniment, although KRS-One's "Woop, woop, that's the sound of da police!" will be clear to all.

Your Letters

15:34 UK time, Thursday, 12 May 2011

Re: Britain 'overpriced' for tourists, says new guide. Yes, I suppose Surrey is a little on the dull side if you ignore the fact it was the birthplace of British motor racing, aviation, the inpsiration for HG Wells' "The War Of The Worlds", World famous landmarks including Hampton Court and Kew Gardens and home to countless celebrities and famous people past and present.
Graeme Dixon, Guildford, Surrey UK

In "What makes ads controversial?" It says: "The most complained about advertisement to the ASA - for KFC's Zinger Crunch - featured call centre workers singing with their mouths open." So how do they sing, if it's not with mouths open? Maybe I don't want to find out!
Sven, Basel, Switzerland

Just what we need - another government slush fund.
John Thompson, Kirkby Lonsdale

On American fuel prices: It doesn't help that Americans have smaller gallons than we do. (On the other hand, do Europeans really care what Americans pay for fuel?)
Jerome, London

In reference to the ever-heating handedness debate (Wednesday's letters), I would like Bala Dwar's, Tim's, and Ray's viewpoint on how those of us who are ambidextrous come so to be.
Kailyn, Kentucky, USA

Is it just me... Why does it seem that the faster we believe that our internet connection is the more impatient we get waiting for pages to load? In the good old days of dial-up connections I seem to remember being pleased just to get a whole page to load completely in one refresh however long it took. I found myself getting quite annoyed this lunchtime having to wait a few seconds for pages to appear - oh how the times have changed.
Martin, High Wycombe, UK

Paper Monitor

13:35 UK time, Thursday, 12 May 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Just when you were thinking that everything there was to say about the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress had been said, there is more. The Daily Express reports that newspapers in Europe have homed in on similarities between Catherine's wedding gown and one worn by an Italian actress when she married Belgian Prince Edouard de Ligne two years ago. But the paper is having none of German newspaper BZ's "Copy-Kate" nonsense.

After scouring their picture libraries, the European media have discovered a wedding dress that bears a close resemblance to the one worn by the Duchess of Cambridge despite pre-dating it. But there is no evidence whatever that Britain's royal bride copied Isabella Orsini, an obscure Italian actress who married a minor Belgian prince in 2009. Why would she?

The Express's "exclusive" features in the Daily Mail, too, but the paper also turns it attentions - again - to that other iconic item of royal clothing, Princess Beatrice's "barmy hat". The Phillip Treacy headwear has gained so much currency - a Facebook page and a slew of mocked-up pictures on the internet comparing it to everything from a lavatory seat to a cat flap - that it is now going to be auctioned on eBay for charity.

Charity - Paper Monitor likes it. It makes you feel warm inside, and it welcomes the news in the Daily Telegraph that George Michael is to perform a charity concert in London, accompanied by a full symphony orchestra in memory of Dame Elizabeth Taylor, as part of a new tour. Plus another in Paris for an HIV/Aids charity. The article also reports that George is to take steps to try to rectify what he describes as the homophobia created by his turbulent private life.

Another happy glow as Paper Monitor learns from the Express that it's Mother Nature, and not computer games or a stash of cash, that makes children happy.

Organisers of a nationwide "Happy Art Competition" say that when asked to paint a picture of what really makes them smile, most pre-teens surveyed painted pictures of flowers, rainbows and the sun - clearly they hadn't seen Princess Beatrice's hat. Of course, they were too busy playing outside to watch the royal wedding on TV - only four per cent of children who submitted entries painted themselves watching TV.

But, before Paper Monitor gets too carried away with that warm feeling inside, the same paper reports that it's folk who constantly feel cold - you know the ones that sit at their desks huddled up in their coats - that could outlive everyone else.

Scientists suspect that the hormonal changes that conserve energy and heat - by slowing down the metabolism - also extend life.

By far, the best headline of the day is The Sun 's inspired "Eee-ay-addi... Doh!". This is the story of an Afghan soldier who had been playing a friendly match at a British Army base where the FA Cup is currently on tour.

In a moment of excitement, the soldier swings the cup into the air, only to send the lid crashing to the ground and bending the pointed crown. But nothing is too much for army technicians, and the cup's tip is standing to attention once again.

Popular Elsewhere

17:19 UK time, Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

A new golf ball which mostly avoids curving, heading instead in a straight line is illegal according to the New York Times' most read story. The ball has irregular dimple pattern that means it does not conform to golf's official rules, making it illegal to use in the Masters. But the article says it could prove a good ball to attract new players of the game.

A popular story on the Daily Mail's looks at Kate Middleton's brother's reading at the royal wedding. It says James Middleton, Kate's younger brother, had to learn the reading he delivered in the church off by heart in an effort to overcome his dyslexia. James, who read an extract from Romans 12, "knew that if he looked down to read from the Bible, his dyslexia could have caused him to jumble up the words" says the article. It went on to add that his efforts "clearly worked" and he delivered "a word-perfect version".

The Independent's most read article lists the paper's favourite insults by boxers. Traditionally insults and threats fly at press conferences in the run up to big boxing matches. Some classics include David Haye saying "He makes the Elephant Man look like Pamela Anderson" about Nikolai Valuev before beating him to claim the WBA heavy weight world title belt. Muhammad Ali came out with a few, including saying ""I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on" about Floyd Patterson and "Here I predict Sonny Liston's dismemberment, I'll hit him so hard, he'll forget where October/November went!"

Washington Post readers are clicking on a story about conjoined twins born in China. The twins are joined by the body but have two separate heads. They have two spines and two esophaguses and share other organs. The articles adds that doctors were quoted as saying it would be nearly impossible to separate them.

A popular Slate story looks at the influence Barack Obama's mother had on him. It follows the release of her biography. The article picks out a quote from Mr Obama where he had previously said she was able to bounce back from setbacks, and persistent. But despite all those strengths, he said she was not a well-organized person. "And that disorganization, you know, spilled over."

Your Letters

16:56 UK time, Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Ralph (Monday letters), you're not the only one to remember that ad, but the question is, do you say the word the way the man said it? High note on the Phil, low note on the Trum - the pronunciation has been stuck in my head for many a year. Couldn't tell you what the ad was for though - may I award a little bit of kudos for your excellent memory? Go on Monitor, pleeeease?
Jude, Melbourne, Australia

Re Tuesday letters , handedness is yet to be understood properly and we do not know with certainity if this is genetic or not.

Joel: Even monozygotic twins have different finger prints and DNA sequences. So that is not a valid factor to determine if left-handedness is genetic or not.

Rob: If left-Handedness is genetic and they are more fearful, it is possible that they didn't hunt as well as right handed people or try new food sources when earth was colonised. Or the under-representaion might have been caused by the founder effect.
Bala Dwar, Leamington Spa

Qasim, Joel, there is a theory that there is a genetic element to handedness. A so-far unidentified "right shift" gene would select for right-handedness. In the absence of such a gene, an individual's handedness would be random - if that were the case identical twins who do not have this RS gene could indeed be of opposite handedness.
Tim, London

Joel and Qasim, (Tuesday's letters) your reasoning is flawed. While handedness may not be directly genetically determined, the prevelance of left handedness in the population may be (according to the wikipedia entry, there is evidence to link handedness to genes). Where Rob's reasoning goes awry is assuming that being more fearful is beneficial. Fear is only an aid to survival if it is proportionate to risk, as anyone with a phobia can tell you. Ironically, Joel's example of challenging someone to a duel is an example where a left-hander ought to be *less* fearful, because left-handedness confers a distinct advantage in fencing, and in single combat in general.
Ray, Turku, Finland

Ooh, I do love the flumps. Bring back Pootle!
Libby, Coleford, Somerset

On American fuel prices "Of course it's hurting, it's $1.25 more than a year ago. I'm considering buying a bike and cycling the four miles to work." Cycling the four miles to work? that's preposterous, that could take up to 20 minutes!
Edd, Maidenhead

Paper Monitor

12:04 UK time, Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is feeling vituperative. It's been that sort of morning.

Just as well, then, that Paper Monitor can always turn to Fleet Street for a healthy dose of bile.

Here, for instance, in the Sun's Bizarre showbiz column, is Noel Gallagher of defunct popular beat combo Oasis.

Mr Gallagher, a noted supporter of Manchester City FC, is displeased to learn that Gary Neville, formerly a player with city rivals United - whose fans include Mick Hucknall, lead singer with Simply Red and, allegedy, many inhabitants of the London metropolitan area - quoted Oasis lyrics after his erstwhile side all but wrapped up the league title.

The lead guitarist shrugs off any inclination to hold back:

I feel violated. If Mr Neville continues to use the holy scriptures of Oasis to communicate with the Cockney massive, I shall be forced to come up to Cheshire in the middle of the night, break into his house, tie him to a chair, make him listen to the Best Of Simply d(Red)ful while I pull his tash out one grey hair at a time (with my teeth).

Sometimes, however, spleen is more effectively vented more subtly.

"Jemima Khan says she is 'trapped in a bloody nightmare' over false claims she is having an affair with Jeremy Clarkson," says Sandra Parsons of the Daily Mail.

"I sympathise, but it could be a lot worse: imagine the even bloodier nightmare of actually having an affair with Jeremy Clarkson."

Stuart Jeffries of the Guardian is in a similar frame of mind as he reviews the inagural episode of the new series of the Apprentice, characterising one contestant as "a sexy wheeler-dealer trapped in a beardy accountant's body" and predicting another will "either win or be fired in week seven and led from the boardroom shouting: 'You're nobodies! I'm the future!' Ideally the latter".

Mr Jeffries continues:

Despite myself, I always love The Apprentice's first episode. All that youthful ritualised boasting before they are thumped by the comedy boxing glove on a stick of experience. By episode two I get sick of the little horrors and yearn for Sugar to whimsically fire them all in one go, compelling the BBC to screen reruns of The Woodentops for the foreseeable.

Paper Monitor feels better now.

Popular Elsewhere

16:26 UK time, Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

A popular Guardian story asks if they have found the stupidest answer to a quiz show question ever. The question on the Million Pound Drop was whether, in 1954, Roger Bannister went into space, ran a sub-four minute mile or become the first man ever to put the toilet seat down. "Andrew and Vanessa ummed" says the article. "They ahhed" it continues. "Then, out of nowhere, Andrew had a breakthrough. Eyes burning with pure knowledge, he shouted 'I think I've seen Bannister written on a toilet!' Vanessa was more cautious, wailing 'Who KNOWS this?' before eventually agreeing on the toilet thing as well."

The Guardian article lists their appearance alongside previous game show contestants' thoughts:

  • Cambridge University is in Leicester

  • A famous landmark in Paris is Hawaii

  • Three states of matter are solid, liquid and jelly

And if you're wondering, Mr Bannister was the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes.

The world's most dangerous road is in mountain passes of Pakistan according to al-Jazeera's most read story. The average driver gets paid $60 a month but as workers wouldn't accept such risky work as driving through the Lowari Pass for that money, some are offered $90 bonus each way. Something young drivers "find difficult to resist". Negotiating the curves becomes a physical battle, the article says, and the goal is to "simply go downhill without ever stopping and pray that no truck is on its way up".

A popular story in More Intelligent Life looks at the conundrum of the love song. The trouble is, the article argues, that the best lyrics are from the most dysfunctional relationships. It says that if creates art about you, it's probably because the relationship itself was difficult and unfulfilling. The article points out that several artists remarked it is the intensity of a break-up that fuels their creative process. But, it asks, what about the intensity of a new relationship? It suggests that the reason why the intoxication of early love inspires music is because at that stage of a relationship artists would rather spend time with their new lover than write music.

The biggest hitter on ABC News is about snakes escaping to residential areas in Memphis, Tennessee. They have been forced to flee their homes after the Mississippi River floods.

A popular story on the New York Times asks why children with attention deficit disorder can't sit still in the classroom but can stare at computer and TV screens for hours. Dr Christopher Lucas, associate professor of child psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine is quoted as saying that the difference lies in how many rewards children get. In a classroom they would have to sustain attention in the absence of rewards. On the other hand computer games give frequent intermittent rewards. The accumulation of points might release the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Your Letters

16:01 UK time, Tuesday, 10 May 2011

So a vote was decided by choosing a cable tie - I had no idea Vince's sartorial choices were so important
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Susan (Mondays letters), i always wondered who helped Vince with his wardrobe decisions.
Ed, Wakefield

Cool. Royal Wedding Where's Wally.
Paul I, St G, Cornwall

Good thinking Rob (Mondays letters) except that left-handedness is not genetic. Oops.
Qasim, Liverpool

Rob, I love the enthusiastic application of natural selection, but I'm afraid it doesn't make sense. For a start, left-handedness isn't genetic (I can say this confidently as an identical twin with a left-handed brother), and in any case running away is good for survival but not reproduction. If you disagree, then I challenge you to a duel over whoever you are currently romantically involved with.
Joel, Hamburg, Germany

Re: 'Call for licence to kill raptors'... was I the only reader to envisage Jurassic Park's velociraptors roaming the countryside, only to be rather let down by the actual story?
SO, Stourbridge, England

Richard (Mondays letters) there is a word for non specific sadness, it's called Perkin. Named after the episode of the Flumps when Perkin is sad all day and doesn't know why. What you are feeling is Perkin.
Mel, London

Paper Monitor

12:27 UK time, Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The morning's press is full of talk about super-injuctions.

But Paper Monitor has self-imposed an injunction on discussing super-injunctions. Because there is so much wonderful whimsy to describe instead.

Here is Craig Brown in the Daily Mail explaining, apropos of very little, why he loathes Scrabble. It is of little surprise, he says, that more than a million Scrabble tiles have gone missing since the game was first invented:

Because so many games of Scrabble end in tears, with the tiles scattered all over the floor. The new Official Scrabble Dictionary, revered by nerds, loathed by everyone else, will be the cause of any number of new arguments.

PM also delights in Deborah Ross of the Independent, who, aggrieved by a Daily Telegraph blog which called for the right to vote to be limited, launches into a list of people whose franchise she suggests should be limited instead:

Vogue "recessionistas" who keep telling us how to save money as if it were an amusing adventure (Vogue fashion assistant Annabel Parker had her Chanel bag rejuvenated for just £150"); rich people who would pay lots of tax if they weren't up to funny business offshore (nice); Boden/Toast/Whistles mothers who double-park 4x4s outside schools and think putting their hazard lights on makes it all right (it doesn't, love: also, I hate your swishy, flirty, dotty skirt); Vogue recessionistas who tell us how to clean chandeliers without having to call a man in (vinegar is probably the answer, Annabel; it usually is); young estate agents who cut you up in their Mini Coopers (my car may only have the one wing mirror, but at least I own it, dearie); MPs who say that without expenses the job won't attract the "right" kind of person (good).

Lastly, PM is taken by the banner adorning the top of an interview in the Sun with Galina Shaykhislamova, an 87-year-old hero of World War II who is newsworthy because her glamorous granddaughter, Irina Shayk, is dating footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

"SUN," reads the text at the top of the page. "No1 FOR SUPERMODELS' COMMUNIST GRANNIES."

And what judge could injunct that?

Your Letters

17:51 UK time, Monday, 9 May 2011

Modern democracy - no more tossing a coin, now it is picking a cable tie. That's progress!
Susan, Newcastle

My statistical survey concludes that, half the population drinks tea, the other half complicated-coffee. Many thanks to all who replied (Friday's letters)
Graham, Hayle, Cornwall

Jo (Friday's letters), you're a mile off. Carey's using 300 KILOcalories, enough to boil just under half a litre of water from cold. Should be enough for a couple of cups of tea...
Sharon Cutworth, King's Lynn

Re: 10 things - I cannot be the only person who remembers "Philtrum, it's called the philtrum" (number two) being prominent in an early BT internet ad.
Ralph, Cumbria

"Left-handed people are more fearful than right-handers." (10 Things, Friday). I'm not convinced: if it were so, then our distant left-handed ancestors would have been more likely to run away from danger, which would mean that they would be more likely to survive. In which case, surely left-handers would be more prevalent than they are today?
Rob, London, UK

There isn't a word for it, so, please monitorites don't even try: it's just temporary non-specific sadness. You could be spared though - don't read Magazines's "Star School" article, absolutely do not follow the instructions to "Go and look at your old school's Wikipedia page" and definitely don't look at the Alumni section. There are four people from MY YEAR on my old schools' Alumni list. This can't be right - Alumni are famous people who did things during or after the war. Not people from my year! I was always going to do stuff - I just got side tracked reading the BBC website and stuff. Anyway, one of them is a journalist for the Independent - since when did that qualify for Alumni status? Darn...
Richard Martin, Doncaster, UK

Popular Elsewhere

15:49 UK time, Monday, 9 May 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

Sonny and Cher's child gives his thoughts on his sex change operation in Time's most read article. Chastity, now Chaz, is publicising his book about the subject. Time says he divulges "shocking" detail but he will not discuss two things - the first is whether he had "bottom surgery". He is quoted as saying: "I've decided to keep my privates private". He also would not reveal Cher's reaction to the sex change. The article says she chucked him out of the house when he told her he was gay.

Daily Mail readers are reading about findings which claim teenagers think they will be earning £60,000 at 35 years-old. The Royal Bank of Scotland survey found that on leaving education, teenagers anticipate a salary of about £16,600, rising to £35,400 by the time they are 25 and hitting £61,700 by their mid-30s. The article says the reality is "rather different", with the average 18 to 21-year-old earning just £8,595 - rising to only £18,705 for workers in their 20s and £24,333 for those in their 30s.

The New Scientist's most read article claims that easily distracted people may "have too much brain". The article says that research from University College London found that the most distractible people had more grey matter in a region of the brain known as the left superior parietal lobe. This also signifies a less mature brain, which correlates with the belief that children are more easily distracted. The research is hoped to inform treatments to improve focus.

A popular article on the Al Jazeera site accuses Glencore - the world's largest commodities trader - of profiting from hunger and chaos by manipulating food prices.

The article's accusations come as Glencore is planning a US$11billion share sale. It adds that this is probably the largest market debut ever seen on the London Stock Exchange.
The commodity speculating giant will create at least four billionaires, dozens worth more than $100million and several hundred old-fashioned millionaires, according to Al Jazeera.

The most e-mailed New York Times article turns the wisdom of the crowds on its head to look at the wisdom of the elites. Columnist Paul Krugman does this to help make his point that the economic downturn is a "top-down disaster". He goes on to say that policies that "got us into this mess weren't responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people - in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious".
Krugman argues that by "trying to shift the blame" to the general populace, elites are "ducking some much-needed reflection" on their own "catastrophic" mistakes.

Paper Monitor

14:20 UK time, Monday, 9 May 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is not late today because of staffing issues or technical gremlins.

Today it's because it's been waiting to say something profound about paparazzi shots of Pippa Middleton in a white bikini on a yacht.

After coming to prominence in yesterday's papers, the pictures feature today in the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Star.

Paper Monitor might note the contradiction between the Daily Mail suggesting that she sees the surfacing of the photos as a "betrayal" and their prominent use of some of the photos.

Perhaps we could compare these images with the huge cultural impact of images of Ursula Andress or Myleene Klass in a white bikini?

The papers might have analysed the shots of her diving off the yacht, ramrod straight, perhaps with the help of any passing diving correspondents.

Or there could be some discussion of the nature of the public/private split.

Or perhaps on this occasion it is time for Paper Monitor to remain quiet.

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