BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for August 14, 2011 - August 20, 2011

Popular Elsewhere

15:02 UK time, Friday, 19 August 2011

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

The premise behind a well-hit Guardian story is that the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have been around longer than you think. And it has a point. The band formed in 1983 albeit with a very different line-up to today. Added to that, their bassist and drummer are 48 and 49 years old. So what's the secret to their continued success? They say it's that they still work every day, instead of being "sat on the beach eating burritos".

Fishing tales don't come much bigger than the Telegraph's most read story. It says when fishing for mackerel in Devon angler John Goldfinch hooked in a scuba diver.

And Goldfinch does jokes too. The paper quotes him as saying "When I went home and told my wife, she just said she was glad I didn't bring him home as she couldn't have eaten a whole one." Boom boom.

Sam Kean wrote a book about periodic tables. So far so boring. That's what his Chinese book illustrator thought when she designed the front cover for the Chinese audience. Her answer, explained by a baffled Kean in a popular Slate article, is to shake it up a bit by putting naked ladies on the cover. While the element cesium is represented by a bomb, it gets stranger as gold appears to be represented by a transformer but the naked women are representing barium and iodine. Kean got hold of the illustrator Bianco Tsai who explained her motivation was "to catch people's eyes, and make them curious about it."

So much for sportsmanship. A popular article in the Age reports on a "friendship" basketball match between Washington's Georgetown Hoyas and Chinese professional side the Bayi Military Rockets turning into a brawl. It's not great for diplomacy as the Age points out it's all while US Vice-President Joe Biden is in Beijing on a four-day visit to discuss US-Chinese economic relations. The story is also proving popular for the Washington Post which does its best to give a run-down of the fight, including the detail that, at one point, freshman forward Moses Ayegba, who was wearing a brace on his right leg, limped onto the court with a chair in his right hand, apparently in self defence.

NPR's audience want to know why you wouldn't build a bridge over the narrowest part of a river. In the case of the Tappan Zee Bridge over New York's Hudson River, it's all about who would collect the toll. The three-mile bridge opened in 1955 goes over one of the widest parts of the Hudson river. The investigation says the narrower part was governed by the Port Authority so it was decided it would be built over a three-mile gap so the State of New York would get the revenues. But, as the years passed highways and towns grew up around it, meaning now they are stuck with it.

Your Letters

14:11 UK time, Friday, 19 August 2011

"The BBC News website could not get to the bottom of rumours of a planned Pippa Middleton doll." We are not amused.
Alex, London

Not quite nominative determinism, but an apt name for the reporter of this story.
James, Oxford

Flash flooding filmed by Matthew Pond?
Graham, Frome

If Philip Zimbardo tires of psychology, I think there could be some openings for him in distant galaxies if he ever fancies a career as an evil war lord?
Sue, London

Rob (Wednesday's letters), the light available is beyond the photographer's control, yes. However, how they make use of that light through shutter speed and aperture settings is not.
Jimmy, Milton Keynes, UK

I saw the link Cannibal tadpoles eat competition and immediately wondered if this was the modern equivalent of "the dog ate my homework".
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

We have know for a long time that fish is a brain food. Now, it appears, we have the chips to match.
Ralph, Cumbria

I remember not that long ago when I passed my A-Levels, one of my dad's friends remarking that they were getting easier every year. I asked him if his physics exam had asked him to demostrate the forces between sub-atomic particles. Strangely he had no reply. Moral of the story: do not try to take the shine off what is actually a well-deserved achievement. Congratulations to this year's students.
Basil Long, Nottingham

10 things we didn't know last week

13:47 UK time, Friday, 19 August 2011

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

1. Camp Bastion is as big geographically as Reading. More details (The Guardian)

2. Asda Illustrated is the UK's top-selling magazine. More details (Press Gazette)

3. The collective noun for a group of jellyfish is a "bloom". More details

4. You can charter a whole Virgin Pendolino train. More details (The Mirror)

5. A candle flame contains millions of tiny diamonds. More details (Daily Telegraph)

6. Dogs can be trained to identify the scent of lung cancer long before symptoms develop. More details (Daily Mail)

7. A fisherman can catch a human being. More details (Daily Telegraph)

8. Danny DeVito is the 2,445th star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. More details (Daily Mail)

9. The average Briton suffers 726 hangovers in a lifetime. More details (Daily Mail)

10. Every county in England has otters. More details (The Guardian)

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

Caption Competition

13:30 UK time, Friday, 19 August 2011


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week it was entrants in the annual Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival. During the two-week festival the village in the Yorkshire Dales comes to life with both traditional scarecrows and more modern takes.

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

6. rogueslr
That's the last time I buy a second-hand combine harvester from the small ads in the NME.

5. Candace9839
Favourite pop group? Let's have a straw poll.

4. lprivett
Among huge advertising losses and budget cuts, viewers are sceptical of Louis Walsh's insistence that this year's X Factor will be bigger and better than ever.

3. James F
Scarecrows, protecting swedes since Waterloo.

2. Valerie Ganne
Well, it might scare the Byrds.

1. cortez
For Gods sake don't hold your lighters in the air.

Paper Monitor

12:19 UK time, Friday, 19 August 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It appears that national picture editors are avid readers of Paper Monitor and have taken note. On the hunt for the bevy of fair-headed beauties that usually grace the front pages the day after the A-level results before, it proves to be almost impossible.

Even the Telegraph, the most adoring of the pretty, (preferably public-school educated) blondes has controversially gone for a brunette. Although no doubt, in an effort not to shock its faint-hearted readers, she is hugging a friend who's blonde.

Paper Monitor reckons the Guardian and Independent both thought they'd show themselves to be a step ahead of their more traditional friends on Fleet Street. However, perhaps they should have had a chat first as their chosen images were impressively similar - two black boys, hoodies and all.

But if the Independent really wanted to show its edgy credentials it might have had a word with younger sibling, i, which features a pair of blondes hugging. One may be clad in a hooded top but with its Jack Wills logo, it is about as far from "street" as it's possible to be, unless that street is Chelsea's Kings Road.

No surprise that the Daily Express and Daily Star have both chosen to go not just big but ENORMOUS on the new series of Celebrity Big Brother. It would be tempting to tally how many days the show eclipses all other national and world events in the Desmond press.

Popular Elsewhere

14:54 UK time, Thursday, 18 August 2011

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

Nothing makes an interview more watchable than someone walking off the set. And that has put Piers Morgan's interview with Republican Christine O'Donnell to the top of CNN's most popular list. He asked her about her views on gay marriage. She evades the question and says "You're borderline being a little bit rude". Piers insists his interview technique is charming but O'Donnell isn't convinced - instead deciding to take up her invitation to speak at the Republican's women's club.

While there is debate around about the sentencing of rioters in the UK, a widely emailed New York Times article spares a thought for judges. For judges have to make decision after decision. It says an occupational hazard of constantly being "the decider" is decision fatigue. This is where the more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain. This can lead to you avoiding the decision or acting recklessly. It says trade-offs are particularly exhausting, grinding down will power. Which explains why sweets placed at till are so tempting at the end of a supermarket trip.

Daily Mail readers are catching up on some calorie counting with a twist. Instead of trying to shed weight, Susanne Eman is attempting to become the fattest woman ever. Cue picture of her at the supermarket, on the scales and when she was thin. Quoted as saying "I'd love to find out if it's humanly possible to reach a ton," Eman consumes 21,962 calories a day, starting with 6 scrambled eggs and finishing with a pan of brownies. She said that when she started putting on weight naturally she started attracting more men, which made her feel good.

Meanwhile a popular Boston Globe article takes a very different stance. It ponders how parents can tell their child they are too fat. The problem, it says, is children can retort with "you're meant to love me however I am".

Paper Monitor

12:16 UK time, Thursday, 18 August 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

And it's that time of year again - A-levels results day. But alas, while it's possible for the papers to report on another year that results have gone up and make predictions on the death of maths and science, the papers' coverage lacks that one vital ingredient - those pictures.

Over the years (Paper Monitor would like to think it led the charge) attention has been drawn to the penchant of the press to illustrate the annual opening of A-level results with images of pretty, (usually) blonde, girls jumping up and down, hugging each other, dominating the front pages. More often than not it's as if boys have ceased to exist.

In fact it's such a phenomenon that the wry comments on the subject of the photographs has become as much of a phenomenon in their own right, as, ahem, Paper Monitor noted a year ago.

But it's not necessarily a matter of chance - or sleazy picture editors - that it is the more photogenic students who make the front pages. The Financial Times suggests that certain public schools actually offer up their most attractive pupils to the press. Without wishing to name names - Paper Monitor's legal coffers are low - there is even an example of one schoolmaster who offered the FT journalist an invite to the annual sports day "to pick out promising candidates for A-level day pictures".

Paper Monitor waits with bated breath to see whether this cynicism makes a difference to the pictures that will appear in tomorrow's papers.

In other news, sub-editors have much fun with the news that a certain French actor urinated in front of passengers on a flight from Paris to Dublin: Daily Mirror - Depardieu's Oui-oui no-no, the Times - Gerard Depardieu's wee mistake, the Independent - The man who went 'Oui, oui!' on a plane, the Sun - Gerard Desperatedieu.

Your Letters

15:56 UK time, Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Would someone have a quiet word with your Scottish colleagues and let them know the difference between a cow and a bull.
AdrianJones, Edgware, UK

Ian (Tuesday's letters), you fully represent your own brand of nominative determinism.
Claire, Nottingham

Re: James, Angus and Aqua Suliser (Tuesday's letters). I wanted to make a joke about the noble gases but the best ones argon.
Paul Nielsen, Isle of Man

Aqua Suliser, when given that news, I assume the neutron didn't react ?
Paul Greggor, London

Without wishing to detract from a terrific photograph that surely deserves a prize, I'm puzzled by the judges being impressed by the photographers "use of light": as the picture is outdoors, surely the light is something the photographer has very little control over?
Rob, London, UK

With regards to the article on the train fare increase and the comments from those who feel that taxpayers should not have to subsidise services they do not use - I have no children so why should my taxes fund schools and child benefits? By your logic, all parents should pay fees for their children to attend school.
Carrie, Hertford

Popular Elsewhere

14:57 UK time, Wednesday, 17 August 2011

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

While the Telegraph's most popular article claims Burt Reynolds may be evicted from his home after failing to make mortgage payments, a questionable solution to mortgage worries is offered by a popular Details magazine article.

These housing troubles could all been avoided if, like Daniel Suelo, you live in a cave. Christopher Ketcham spent the night with "the man who lives on zero dollars". But Ketcham's description of Suelo's cave life seems less than desirable. "Mice scurry over his body in the cave, and kissing bugs sometimes suck the blood from under his fingernails while he sleeps" Ketcham says. Perhaps not for Burt Reynolds then.

While Suelo doesn't need any cash, model Andrej Pejic says in a popular New York Magazine article "I don't get out of bed for less than $50 a day." The androgynous supermodel is famous for going down the catwalks for both male and female clothes lines. While his $50 remark may have been an attempt at a joke, the article does say that he started out as a "cut-rate deal" as he could model women's clothes without being given the full women's rate. So the killer question for a well-hit New York Magazine article is - when you model both women's and men's clothes what is the difference between the two? "With men's, his movements are simpler, he tries to be stronger," it says, "with women's, he can be more fluid and dramatic". So now you know.

Here's a job title for you: bear management technician. That's what Russell Talmo is referred to as. A popular New York Times article explains what the role involves: giving pepper spray to people in Montana to protect them against the increasing numbers of grizzly bears. OK so he doesn't just do that. The piece describes Talmo as roaming "a huge swath of wild country along the front in a pickup truck loaded with bear tranquilizers, dart guns, snares, radio collars and heart rate and oxygen monitors, responding to calls about errant bears". Surely a more exciting job description than that is in order?

The story of a shark which killed a British man while on honeymoon in the Seychelles is in a lot of the most-read lists including that of the Sun and BBC News. But at the top of the Daily Mail's is a question: Did the same shark kill a French tourist last week? The piece says a 36-year-old French tourist also died after he was bitten by a shark while snorkelling at the same beach on 1 August. Despite the question in the headline, it doesn't answer it.

Paper Monitor

11:45 UK time, Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Although the riot coverage has calmed down and disappeared off most of the front pages, the papers are still concerned about the aftermath, political fall-out and any disorder-related celebrity photo opportunity.

The Sun's double-page spread has a heady mix of riots and football. It has a picture of Spurs star Peter Crouch getting his hair cut by 89-year-old barber Aaron Biber, whose Tottenham shop was wrecked by looters.

It's touching stuff and his haircut isn't too bad either.

The Daily Mirror has another celebrity story and it's not just any celebrity but Brangelina no less, who chartered a train to ferry themselves and their brood from London to Scotland. Yes, they hired a whole Virgin Pendolino train for the five-hour trip to Glasgow. If there was a step above A-list, they deserve to go full steam ahead.

The Daily Mail is almost as renowned as the Sun for its page three beauties and it has pulled out all the stops today with a picture of a glum-looking gorilla.

Nico is celebrating his 50th birthday and the Mail has solved the age-old problem of what to buy a primate for such a milestone birthday.

It says he turned his nose up at a bunch of red roses but he was definitely more impressed with the banana-shaped birthday cake, surrounded with fresh fruit (to ensure Nico gets some of his five-a-day no doubt).

Your Letters

15:37 UK time, Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Diplomat's dilemma: Would you shake hands with someone reviled? In life you shake the hands of many people. Some you like, some you dislike. But never stoop to the level of those you hate by not shaking their hand when it is offered.
Ian Friend @BBC News Magazine

"Apes beat Smurfs..." Fine mental imagery conjured up there.
Sarah , Basel, Switzerland

Cut death risk by 14%? The road to immortality starts here!
Rob, Birmingham, UK

Should this not be more properly called the new Surrey Museum of Measures?
Rusty, Montreal, Canada

I don't care that it's only the 15th - I'm calling it. Pun Of The Month goes to Ross Brawn for his exquisite work in the final paragraph of this article. Bravo, Ross. Bravo.
Alex Knibb, Bristol, UK

Howard (Monday's letters), I only got as far as the first four words and then I was lost in a daydream about Daniel Craig minus "those" shorts.
Anne R, Fareham, UK

Re: James (Friday's Letters) and Angus (Monday's Letters). A neutron walked into a bar and asked, "How much for a drink?" The bartender replied, "For you, no charge."
Aqua Suliser, Bath

Popular Elsewhere

14:52 UK time, Tuesday, 16 August 2011

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

How's this for a demonstration of scale: Britain's military base Camp Bastion is the size of Reading. That's according to a well-hit Guardian story reporting from inside the camp. On top of that, its airport is busier than any in the UK, apart from Gatwick and Heathrow. The camp's own water-bottling plant, provides one million litres of water a week for the camp. The numbers continue - the camp has eight incinerators to destroy rubbish. The article is obsessed with the size even of the army's dogs, saying "a german shepherd so big that he rarely has to raise growl to deter potential troublemakers".

As a new supergroup is announced, a popular Independent article asks what they may have ahead of them. SuperHeavy will feature Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Damian Marley and AR Rahman - being borne as a result of Jagger and Stewart's Jamaican residences being close to each other. But these groups haven't always experienced smooth sailing - one battle of egos was had in the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The article says "at one point, a studio argument about a single harmony resulted in Nash refusing to talk to Stills for two years."

In a popular article in the Huffington Post Nick Baines ensures he probably won't be invited to another barbecue this summer by daring to criticise the Great British summer tradition: the burnt banger. He's been complaining that the British barbecue just isn't good enough. He wants his meat marinaded and cooked slowly. It's as if he thinks barbecue food should actually taste good. "Whilst I am sure there are countless dreary British barbecues for me yet to endure, be it engagements, birthdays and beyond. I just pray for a little more enthusiasm from whoever is in charge of the food." And we give a thought to the hosts dealing with an ungrateful guest.

In Slate's most popular article Patti Waldmeir starts by finding an abandoned baby screaming beside a Dunkin' Donuts in a Shanghai side street. She has adopted two children from China but, in her effort to keep in touch with this child, she finds a lot has changed since her adoptions. She puts the resistance she encounters down to China "still smarting from the national humiliation of having had to export as many as 100,000 babies in the past 20 years". Now, she also adds, to adopt healthy children, foreign parents must wait for up to five years. And she predicts a "root-seeking" industry to mushroom in the next few years.

Paper Monitor

12:41 UK time, Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's looking like business as usual in some of the papers today. The summer guff that fills the column inches this time of year is back, after being squeezed out by other much bigger, more important events.

Say hello to the 23ft sunflower on page nine of the Daily Mail. The Eiffel Flower - get it? - could soon break the world record, which stands at 26ft 4ins. Grown by Eve Fielding in Margate, Kent, she claims to be doing nothing more than watering it every day. Although she does admit she has started talking to it ever since it started scaling such heights, telling it how well it is doing. See what a few words of encouragement can do?

Then there is news in the Daily Telegraph of the boss who is paddling a mile across a lake to get to work and beat a 55-mile road detour. Such dedication deserves a few column inches. Also, study results that reveal a wee nightcap is not good for getting you to sleep, it actually disturbs it. Boo.

And there are the topless pics you wished you had never seen in the Sun. Step forward Lord Sugar on page 8. He's been snapped stripping off after a bike ride. He's not quite topless, more bare chested, but the picture is still unnecessary. Please do not repeat.

But if there is any story guaranteed to break the blanket coverage of this summer's riots it has to big - really, really big. And in tabloid land it gets no bigger than the X Factor. Gary Barlow is replacing Simon Cowell this year and promises "no more Mr Nice Guy" in the Daily Mirror. Ohh, we're scared, really scared.

Your Letters

15:10 UK time, Monday, 15 August 2011

Re: James Bengel (Friday's letters). Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says, "I think I've lost an electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive..."
Angus Gafraidh, London, UK

And he drove the fastest milk-float in the West...
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

I saw this headline in Investment Week: Bond stars scrap shorts on treasuries as yields plunge - to quote Lisa Simpson "I know those words but that sentence makes no sense."
Howard, London, UK

Well, there's your own feature idea, Paper Monitor: the drinking of toasts. In/out, up/down, etiquette of etc.
Andrew Guest, London

Re: How to Say: Michele Bachmann - why is it, then, that virtually every reporter/presenter that I have heard on BBC World News in recent days (I am in Asia and tune in regularly), including reporters following Mrs Bachmann's on the campaign trail, invariably -- without exception that I have heard - pronounces it "back-man" (rhymes with Batman)? As you say, her own pronunciation makes it clearly something closer to "bock-man". This is very annoying to your American listeners/viewers, even those (like me) who can't stand the woman!
William Lee, Brooklyn, NY

The water bureau of Oregon emptied all of the water in the reservoir because of one "contamination"? So, it must be safe to assume that all the wild birds in Oregon either wear nappies, use litter trays, or fly upside down?
Ted Rogers, Macclesfield

Popular Elsewhere

15:10 UK time, Monday, 15 August 2011

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

A call for higher taxes for the super-rich is nothing new. But you don't expect to hear it from a billionaire. The New York Times' most popular article is a plea from billionaire Warren Buffett. He says that paying just under $7m (£4.2) last year was not enough as it was only 17.4% of his income. The idea that the super-rich will not invest if their taxes are higher is a myth, he says. And besides that, the whole ordeal is making him feel overprotected, "like a spotted owl".

Tim Worstall in Forbes' most popular article is having none of Warren Buffett's argument. He says it is misleading because it ignores the effect of the corporate income tax on his dividends. Only Worstall then has to apologise in an update as Mr Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway doesn't pay a dividend.

A popular Guardian article has got hold of a professional hostage negotiator. But the whole interview feels like a negotiation for information in which the journalist John Crace is losing. The hostage negotiator, who calls himself Ben Lopez, would rather not say very much about how much ransom is paid, or how much he gets paid himself. Which leaves one question for Crace: How do you get in touch with an anonymous hostage negotiator? Lopez says insurance companies know where to find him.

The Times' Chris Ayres is not smitten by the Hollywood experience of giving birth. Although he described his wife's hospital as a spa experience, he has added up the cost of his daughter's birth in the 90210 zip code. Coming in at £28,480, the bit that amused/infuriated him the most was the extra cost of accommodation - for the baby once she was born. He says he'll be thinking twice about where his wife will give birth next time.

Daily Mail readers' are displaying an insatiable appetitive for stories about council house tenants. The paper has totted up the amount of council tenants living in properties worth over £1m. The figure is 29 but it doesn't make clear how many of them are sharing houses. It says in some cases the council rents are so much lower than equivalent private properties that it is like rent being subsidised by the taxpayer by up to £70,000 a year.

Paper Monitor

11:53 UK time, Monday, 15 August 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Good weekend? Do any shopping?

A hefty portion of us, surely, will have spent at least some time on Saturday on Sunday either browsing, bartering or buying.

And that, it would appear, includes the very rich and famous.

The Daily Mail carries a large photograph of none other than Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, with what it calls their "large brood of children", outside a shop.

What makes this image significant in the newspapers eyes is the fact that the store in question is not Fortnum and Mason or Harrods, but a branch of Halford's in a retail park in the west London suburb of Isleworth.

Showbusiness reporter Simon Cable draws a distinction between the famous couple's life of "red carpets, glittering parties and luxury holidays" and an outlet which specialises in affordable children's bikes and DIY touch-up kits for scratched car paintwork.

Perhaps Mr Cable would prefer that celebrities were above such prosaic expeditions. Paper Monitor, for one, is comforted that even the most glamorous among us need to pop out to buy spare spark plugs.

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