BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 1, 2012 - April 7, 2012

Your Letters

13:19 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2012

This article reminds me of the pervasive university myth: Student requests 'a yard of ale' during an exam, as is apparently his right since time immemorial. Invigilator checks with authorities and eventually supplies said beverage... then when exam is over, student is fined for not wearing his sword! First heard at St Andrews but presumably told and retold around most ancient universities!
Dave Slater, Glasgow, Scotland

Erm, Margery (Thursday letters), to quote from the article you read "Desalination remains a 'very expensive, very power hungry' process" and "Water is 'heavy and incompressible, so if you start pumping it uphill, you pay lots of money', Green adds", That might be the reason?
Howard, London, UK

Someone should tell Margery how much energy you need to get the water out of sea water. It's not cheap. We may be surrounded but without having lots of free electricity (from solar) it'll never happen. It also tastes foul.
Dougie Lawson, Basingstoke UK

Roger, Bookham, UK (Thursday letters), would you consider loaning it to the Titantic Centre in Belfast?
Cate, Belfast

Lovely juxtaposition in Thursday's Magazine of the random stat (4,000 animal attacks on posties) and Dicken's quote ("Who did it? Dog was it you?")
Colin Edwards, Exeter, UK

10 things we didn't know last week

12:36 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2012

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

1. The US Postal Service still uses mule trains to reach some post offices.
More details

2. Timbuktu is twinned with Hay-on-Wye in Wales.
More details

3. James Murdoch was once a cartoonist for a satirical magazine.
More details (Daily Mail)

4. King Edward VIII could surf. He is thought to have been the first British surfer to be photographed. Agatha Christie was a wave rider too.
More details

5. The shortest standard distance considered an "ultra-marathon" is 50km or 31.07 miles.
More details

6. Placing a stamp with the Queen's head upside down on an envelope is not treason, or indeed against any rules.
More details

7. The celebrated Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury was only planted in 1951.
More details

8. You can buy socks made out of bamboo.
More details

9. Red Bull was originally called Red Water Buffalo.
More details

10. The US's smallest town had a population of one.
More details

Caption Competition

12:33 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Phone boxes

This week two storm troopers take refuge in phone boxes at a game launch.

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

6. Mark S
The Empire Phones Back

5. MuteJoe
118 118 set for new image rights wrangle.

4. Nero Cabflor
Good evening, Sir. Have you taken out a loan recently, and been forced to pay for insurance you didn't need?

3. SkarloeyLine
Madame Tussauds staff deny "only vague resemblance" to William and Kate.

2. BaldoBingham
Is that Wikileaks? I think you should know about an exhaust port design fault before someone gets hurt.

1. CindyAccidentally
It was the only way Samantha and her equally stunning husband could avoid jealous glances from the public.

Paper Monitor

10:52 UK time, Friday, 6 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"Panic over Loose Women pox crisis".

No, it's not a snippet from Pepys's Diary: Late Night Edition. The pox in question is a bout of shingles affecting the presenters of the ITV show, reported in the Daily Mirror.

Over in the Times, page three is given over to the death of amplifier pioneer Jim Marshall. There's a box from the paper's Chief Rock Critic Will Hodgkinson.

Paper Monitor is puzzled, not recalling ever seeing any of the paper's non-chief rock critics.
Good Friday offers a fairly restrained selection of news in the papers, a newsprint complement to the life of a bank holiday. The thrum of lawnmowers, the knock of cork on willow, the clink of pint glasses carried by the armful in riverside pubs.

On the letters page of the Times, the big issues of the day are discussed. Some correspondents mourn the demise of poetic pub names in the current depression. Another bemoans the departure queues at Luton Airport - "the Marquis de Sade school of customer relations".

Elsewhere, there are stories of troubled Easter getaways as the roads and railways are clogged for the 7,348th bank holiday weekend in succession.

And, sated, the news junkies return to their leisure.

Your Letters

17:38 UK time, Thursday, 5 April 2012

Am I the only one who doesn't like the seemingly endless progression from this to this? Please stop it BBC, I like my dinosaurs scary, not cuddly!
Rob, London, Uk

The White Star line did produce a sales leaflet where the words 'the Unsinkable Titanic' are part of the promotion. As far as I know there are only two copies and I have one of them. Roger, Bookham UK

Nicola Poole, manager for water resources access and allocation at the agency, nominative determinism.
Ray Moss, Claygate UK

Following an apparent increase in nominative determinism I've decided to change my name.
Olly Luxuryhoteltester, London

Good to see nominative determinism alive and well at Edinburgh Zoo. Ian Valentine talking about pandas' love life!
Margaret, Christchurch, NZ

Wait, so if they make water more expensive, what would we drink then? I mean, it's not like we can drink beer instead, as that's got a minimum price, too...
MK, Stockport

I was interested to read the article on hosepipe bans. However, one question never seems to arise which is, why, when we are surrounded by water, does no-one think of building de-salination units around our coasts as do the Gulf States?
Margery Hallesey

Paper Monitor

14:20 UK time, Thursday, 5 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Relationships and baby speculation are standard headline fare so it came as no surprise that today's trumpeted the latest pairing.

But this particular couple proved especially titillating - Tian Tian and Yang Guang are pandas at Edinburgh Zoo.

Paper Monitor is weighing the possibility of stringing together the morning's stories in a Mills & Boon novel with an animal kingdom twist.

The Daily Telegraph gushed over the "keen" but "inexperienced" pair. "The scene was set for love. The straw bedding was fresh and the sexual chemistry overwhelming," the paper reports.

The plot thickens with Metro: "Despite smouldering glances between the cages, it seems it's not all black and white in the world of panda love."

Paper monitor is on the edge of our seat. Cue up the orchestra, aim the spotlight and chill the champagne. Will sparks fly?

Alas! The Sun snubs out any hope of a sizzling romance. "Giant panda Sweetie dozes yesterday after failing to mate with Sunshine."

So much for our bestseller, at least until 2013 when the pandas are expected to give romance another go.

As consolation, the papers suggest pandas are no different than us. They even have similar excuses according to the Sun: "Not tonight darling... I'm washing my fur."

Metro is a bit more ambitious in their anthropomorphic assessment. "Yang Guang could barely have been more like his lazy human counterparts had he been sipping a beer, watching Match of the Day - snoozing and munching bamboo to amorous Tian Tian's disappointment," the daily reports.

Paper Monitor is assuming these details came out in a follow-up interview with the ardent Tian Tian.

Even if the headlines aren't fodder for a full-length airport novel, Paper Monitor finds them a welcome reprieve from the rather tame coverage of another famous couple.

Wills and Kate come off a bit more stoic than usual in today's news - perhaps because the photos feature their wax counterparts, which were unveiled at Madame Tussauds in London today.

Paper Monitor couldn't help but notice that Kate's waxy replica clutches her bag instead of William's arm - unlike the engagement photo that inspired the sculptures. Call us a romantic, but Paper Monitor is all in favour of a little PDA.

Your Letters

18:26 UK time, Wednesday, 4 April 2012

"People really don't like washing or drinking water that has come from someone else's toilet." Really - where do they think the water comes from? All water is eventually recycled. Rain isn't new water, it's already been through someone's drain (or kidneys). Praying for rain.
Henri, Sidcup

Dr Jason Head, looking for a snake's skull? Christopher Spray, chair of water science at UNESCO? Magazine, you are spoiling us with this nominative determinism.
Alan, Stockport, UK

I expect it was chopped down by someone in Glasto wanting a bit of peace and quiet!
Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

To Claire, Nottingham: Try checking the dictionary. Last time I looked, both "queuing" and "queueing" were perfectly acceptable. Move along. Nothing to see here...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Paper Monitor

11:00 UK time, Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's day two of Brickgate.

For those of you in a cave yesterday, a Daily Mail feature on a woman called Samantha Brick caused a major stir.

In a nutshell: Brick believes she is so beautiful that other women hate her. A gazillion Mail commenters (famous for their acidity) and tweeters queued up to disabuse her of this notion.

Today the Mail has done a two-page follow-up. The main course is another piece from Brick revealing she cried all day in response to a stream of Twitter invective and unpleasant emails.

The first key point is that a day of hate mail has not dissuaded Brick from the belief that she is a rare beauty. The second is that there has been an epic and rather virulent reaction to her piece.

It has allowed the Daily Telegraph a chance to assess the reaction in the light of the current concern over trolling.

The follow-up eases Paper Monitor's mind on one count.

It had crossed some people's minds that the Mail had broken all rules of journalistic decency yesterday and printed a wind-up a full 48 hours after April Fools' Day.

But the Mail's follow-up comes close to laying any such notion to rest. It seems extremely likely Brick does believe she is beautiful and is not conducting one of the most successful publicity stunts ever.

Thinking back to Paper Monitor's time as a cub reporter, occasionally hacks would encounter fruity characters and know that with a bit of guidance they would say things that would entertain the readers.

But these were things that might not, with the benefit of hindsight, be the best thing for the subject to be espousing in print.

Reporters would sometimes feel bad over this. There was no lying and the subject knew their comments were going in the paper, but did they understand the consequences?

One suspects that Brick has gone sufficiently far that there will not be a scintilla of such emotion among the Mail commissioning editors.

Instead, they will be cock-a-hoop.

They even get to run an analysis of just how the story went viral.

Your Letters

17:03 UK time, Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Are these scientists sure they didn't just find an old draught-excluder?
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Was it really a big snake or just something else?
Ralph, Cumbria

With a headline like "Dutch boy tries to save the euro" it was always going to be disappointing to discover that the plan didn't involve standing with his finger in a leaking dyke.
Edward Green, London, UK

I see the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for snow. As a child, I was often advised about the perils of yellow snow - especially eating it - although I'm not sure it ever warranted the Met Office getting involved.
Lee Heyes, Swindon, UK

After this and this can we urge people to be more careful about how they handle soft toys please?
Basil Long, Nottingham

It's quite right that this appalling app has been banned. I mean, just look at that punctuation! There's no way there should be a comma after "see".
Sue, London

I am spotting with alarming and increasing regularity the inability to spell queueing correctly... since when did the word lose an "e"? I propose we start a queue watch. I'll get in line...
Claire, Nottingham

Paper Monitor

16:46 UK time, Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor feels rather like we're in a period of crossover - rather similar to the situation between the Neanderthals and the first Homo sapiens sapiens.

Neanderthals disappeared, but there was an intriguing crossover period.

Many feel the old media has had its chips but it still seems remarkably robust and its tactics have remarkable effects when translated into new media.

Page 33 of today's Daily Mail is a case in point. It features the story of Samantha Brick, a 41-year-old television producer.

It's a rather bizarre piece where a woman bemoans the fact that her beauty leads other women to be very unpleasant to her. So far, so old media.

If this piece was running in 1992, instead of 2012, the average reader might have showed it to his or her mate and discussed it. That would have been it. It takes a bit of effort to chop up a bit of a newspaper and take it to the pub.

Today it has generated a Twitter storm. "Samantha Brick" is trending on Twitter worldwide with, by the estimate of social search engine Topsy, about 2,500 tweets an hour about her (as of 15:30 BST).

The tweets are almost universally making fun of poor Ms Brick. They point out that she is actually not stunningly beautiful. In very sarcastic terms.

The reaction is enough for the Daily Telegraph to do a story.

Old media co-exists with new media.

Your Letters

17:05 UK time, Monday, 2 April 2012

So glad that the boffins have got this sorted - Dead stars 'to guide spacecraft'. I'd hate to get lost and I don't think my SatNav is up to it.
Graham, Hayle, Cornwall

I agree about the merits of chocolate! Once rationing ended in 1953,I ALWAYS had chocolate in my bag.I remained at 9st (5ft6ins). Then when I was 50 I was suddenly afflicted with arthritis in my spine,and I read somewhere that chcolate was bad for arthritis,so I greatly reduced how much I ate.I piled on weight,and the arthritis has worsened ever since. I am almost 77 now,so perhaps Iwill indulge myself again.I do realise that not being able to exercise so much will have caused weight increase, but I do try to remain active.
Pat Vallack, Barnard Castle UK

PollySaxon - while I acknowledge that yes, we are all going to die, I do hope that your letter isn't representative of your bedside manner. Still, it should help with the waiting times, nothing like a spot of despair to clear a few beds...
Tracey Wells, Newark, Notts

Thanks Ian - now I'm being forced to read the '10 Things' forever more in the form of a haiku.
Rachel, Wayzata

Perhaps I'm just getting more and more cynical (who me?), but whilst queuing to get fuel on Friday, I pondered the increasingly ludicrous fuel situation.
a) talk of us potentially returning to recession mid week last week.
b) a cabinet minister advises the public to top up their cars and store fuel (whilst advising them not to panic, of course);
c) hoards of people rush out and panic buy fuel;
d) record sales of fuel reported consistently over several days - with (of course) record levels of fuel duty being paid.
e) the end of the financial year and the end of the first quarter of 2012 approaches.
Hmmm...surely not?
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

10 Things, point 1:Has the answer to Quasimodos obsession with campionology been answered with this startling yet barking disclosure?
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

Really MM ! Did you think none of us would spot that the picture in this week's 10 things is the same one as used last week ? Particularly after Rusty's comments on Tuesday.
Paul Greggor, London

Paper Monitor

14:45 UK time, Monday, 2 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There is something rather unBritish about boasting.

It might be why truly boastful people - the Muhammad Alis and Noel Gallaghers of this world - can be an exotic pleasure.

Muhammad Ali's boasts would be at home on the mastheads of Fleet Street.

The Daily Express's self-proclaimed "the world's greatest newspaper" is still yet to be put to the test by the brains behind the Pulitzer Prize, or indeed by any journalism prize that operates in the UK.

Over in the Daily Telegraph, they're trumpeting: "Inside today's brilliant 28-page sport section". Who says? Could it, perchance, be the people who produce said sport section?

For the i newspaper it has to be: "Britain's first and only concise quality newspaper".

The "quality" is in red just in case those reading it are a bit slow on the uptake. It's the equivalent of shouting the one significant word in a sentence.

The Sun has "Britain's most popular paper", something easily verifiable by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

It's "newspaper of the year" on the Daily Mail, reflecting their triumph in said category at the press awards.

Paper Monitor has no need of such trumpet-blowing. We feel "world's greatest service highlighting the riches of the daily press" is a bit of a mouthful.

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