BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 8, 2012 - April 14, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:20 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2012

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

1. Baboons can recognise four-letter words.
More details

2. Ants inoculate themselves by licking each other.
More details (New Scientist)

3. People typically wear a half to a third as much sunscreen as they need.
More details (Wall Street Journal)

4. To join the FBI, men must complete at least 38 situps in a minute and perform 30 untimed pushups.
More details (Chicago Tribune)

5. Lightning can contain enough energy to boil eight million cups of tea.
More details (The Mirror)

6. Holding a gun makes someone look taller.
More details (Slate)

7. Rangoon has an underground punk scene.
More details

8. In Rome, 7,575 streets are named after men while 580 are named after women.
More details

9. A tweet by Jamie Oliver is worth $3,250 (£2,044).
More details (The Guardian)

10. Male pandas are only at their reproductive peak 24 days a year.
More details (Sunday Telegraph)

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

Your Letters

15:52 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2012

So the sonic boom over Coventry was caused by a typhoon just chasing a helicopter with a dodgy radio. Well, that seems far more likely than any theory that they were chasing aliens. I think we should quash any conspiracy theories before they start. There are definitely no aliens in the West Midlands. Tell your friends to stop this theory spreading.
Zargoz Destroyer of Worlds, Redditch

Is it merely a coincidence that a North Korean rocket malfunctions and a large bang is heard over the West Midlands? I feel a conspiracy theory coming on.
Darren, Leicester

I have no idea what time it is in the UK (to be fair, I hardly know what day it is at the minute) as I'm currently in Hong Kong cadging some free wifi (that's not the only reason I'm here), but surely it should be letters time so I can read them with this glass of wine before I hit the club?
Basil Long, Nottingham (though currently abroad - don't burgle me!)

Those pesky wallabies will try anything to get food, although I wasn't aware they were fond of fish.
Nik Edwards, Aylesbury

"Do movie trailers now reveal too much?" Does it matter when US trailers shown on UK television is spoiled anyway by the release date spoken in "American" (i.e. month date year)? It grates each time, categorically confirming that the film advertised is definitely one to miss.
R.G, Watford, Herts

Caption Competion

13:10 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week, two activists campaigning to reverse the decline in British bee numbers take a break in the sun.

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

6. eattherich wrote:
I know we shouldn't be able to fly but we can. I know that these deck chairs shouldn't stay up but they do.

5. George Campbell wrote:
Two bees. Or not two bees?

4. Camilla Bit My Finger wrote:
Does my hum look big in this?

3. bradmer wrote:
You wait all day for one buzz, then along comes two.

2. Valerie Ganne wrote:
Not waving, but droning.

1. Nero Cabflor wrote:
Deck, where is thy sting?

Paper Monitor

10:02 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Two women, previously reviled in print, return to the papers for a further dose of notoriety.

The Sun splashes on Karen Matthews, convicted in 2008 of kidnapping her own daughter - and now photographed for the first time since leaving prison.

Matthews - apparently now "slimmer and disguised with a new short hairdo" - is pictured while on a brief visit outside the probation hostel where she is currently staying.

No doubt she will not welcome her return to the tabloid spotlight.

The same cannot be said, however, of another woman who achieved infamy via Fleet Street.

Samantha Brick - the same Samantha Brick who sparked a Twitter hate campaign after declaring in the Daily Mail that other women hated her for being beautiful - returns to the paper.

Ms Brick tells readers that she is "recovering after becoming the subject of a very modern, global witch-hunt".

And how has she achieved this?

The answer is simple: my beloved father, Patrick Brick. Ever since the day I came into this world, my dad, a retired nurse, has showered me with love and affection.

Perhaps she is also comforted by the fact that the Mail pays her to act as a hate figure to readers. No such remuneration for Karen Matthews.

Your Letters

17:39 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2012

Well that's one way to spoil a perfectly good diamond.
Sue, London

I think the bigger story here is the discovery of someone who prefers the web backwards! Unless that's not a real reflection in the picture, of course...
Toby Speight, Scotland, UK

Candace (Tuesday's letters), Lewis Graham (Wednesday's letters) et. al; before it gets out of hand, can we stamp it out now please?
Ray Lashley, Colchester

Paper Monitor

09:42 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, and every paper has been offering up a steady supply of features to mark the date.

Today's Daily Mirror includes a pull-out, reproducing stories published during 1912 in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, offering a fascinating insight into how it was reported at the time.

"DISASTER TO THE TITANIC: WORLD'S LARGEST LINER SINKS AFTER COLLIDING WITH AN ICEBERG DURING HER MAIDEN VOYAGE," ran the headline the morning after, atop a photograph of the vessel setting sail.

The following day, the prose grew more anguished:

The mightiest of all craft that man, aided by all the resources of centuries of human knowledge, launched forth but a week since on her maiden voyage now lies irrecoverable, in two miles of all-devouring ocean, having met a mountain of ice in her passage from land to land.

The document is a powerful testament to journalism's status as what Washington Post publisher Phil Graham termed the "first rough draft of history".

However, the trade provides more besides.

Today's Titanic offering in the Daily Mail concerns a gentleman in the Scottish Highlands who spent 12 years building a 100ft replica of the craft in his back garden.

Now, inevitably, he fears a visit from local officials as he never quite got round to submitting a request for planning permission.

The paper also prints a photo of "a dramatic cloud formation in the shape of the Titanic" which appeared "near Southampton, the port from which the famous liner departed in 1912".

Surely this tale also will be remembered a century hence?

Your Letters

16:35 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Surely an emergency parachute is still a parachute?
Charles Gauder, London, UK

It is all very well, Tim McMahon (Tuesday's letters) harking back to the good old days pre-technology ,but doing so through the medium of e-mail and the internet (whilst demonstrating that even people in Spain can enjoy this wonderful tool as if they were sitting next to me in Bristol) seems a little rich to me. I'll get my mouse...
Phil, Bristol

Yet more nominative determinism - Mr Fry from the National Obesity Forum.
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

I was surprised by the comment: "There are thought to be at least 34 towns called Springfield in the US." Surely there is a definitive answer, or did some of the towns give false names when questioned?
MCK, Stevenage

Candace (Tuesday's letters), stamps make us feel better. After all, philately gets you anywhere.
Lewis Graham, Hitchin

Paper Monitor

11:55 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It can't always be Frost/Nixon or Dennis Potter's final interview. Sometimes journalists' encounters with the great and the good go badly.

Credit, then, to John Crace of the Guardian, who makes no attempt to conceal the disasterousness of an attempt to grill former boxer Mike Tyson.

The headline says it all: "Why are you asking me about pigeons?"

First the crackling transatlantic phone line makes it impossible for the writer to hear what Tyson is saying - and when Crace tries to clarify a half-deciphered story about his subject getting a prison counsellor pregnant, the one-time Undisputed Heavyweight Champion accuses the journalist of trying to misquote him.

"I can sense the interview is going pear-shaped and that most of my prepared questions are almost certainly off-limits," Crace tells the reader.

The remaining annotations tell the readers more than Tyson's actual answers:

I can feel the conversation closing in as Tyson's replies are getting shorter...

Tyson's PR interrupts the interview and suggests I keep my questions to current events and relevant topics. I try to oblige...

By now, I'm scrabbling to think of any question that might not annoy Tyson


Inevitably, Tyson tersely ends the call. Paper Monitor applauds Crace for not attempting to downplay the interview's failure - indeed, by doing so, he reveals rather more about Tyson than would otherwise be the case.

Your Letters

15:14 UK time, Tuesday, 10 April 2012

"But we're not making a northern Breakfast, we're just making Breakfast," - full english, fried egg, wholemeal toast, no mushrooms or black pudding, please. Thanks.
Ralph, Cumbria

Despite having only been in work and therefore near a computer or news for 2 days last week I still got 7 out of 7 on the quiz of the week! Quickly! Someone shake my hand! Simon Love, London

I've just worked out how to solve the drought! Just designate every single day as a Bank Holiday, and it's bound to rain for all of them. Douglas McWilliams wouldn't be pleased, though.
Michael Hall, Croydon

Technology eh? Facebook has just paid £1bn in money for a new facility that can be used from smartphones. Ah for the days of innocence when a "blackberry" was a fruit on a bush not what it is referred as today and usually only the doctor had a telephone in his house.How did we manage? Very nicely thank-you very much... just get my memory and go for a constitutional reminisce.
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

Re: stamps of disapproval. Yes, but is no one going to ask what they've done for Britain philately?
Candace, New Jersey, US

Paper Monitor

11:42 UK time, Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is struck by the way the Royal Mail's latest issue of stamps is covered in today's papers.

That is because while the Daily Telegraph decides the collection, titled UK Landmarks A to Z, are worthy of four little pictures in its "In Brief" section, other papers seem go town on the subject.

The Daily Mail dedicates a double spread to snaps of the stamps, entitling it "A first class portrait of Britain".

But while it welcomes Manchester Town Hall - which it says is often used by film-makers as a setting for the Palace of Westminster - and Tyne Bridge, which it credits with being the largest single span bridge in the world when it opened in 1928, until Sydney Harbour Bridge stole the honour - as worthy entries, it thinks X is more problematic.

"The Royal Mail has delivered an intriguing solution - by using a picture of Bletchley Park, the top secret intelligence centre where the Nazi Enigma code was cracked during World War II", it says.

The reason it can get away with it, the paper discloses, is because it had a secret radio room known as Station X.

The Times takes a different angle, under the headline "Stamps of disapproval".

It reports that collectors are aghast with the glut of special issues, arguing it is pricing them out of the market.

"It's making Britain a laughing stock of the philatelic world", it cites Alec MacGuire, a stamp collector from Surrey, as saying.

John Baron, Chairman of the Association of British Philatelic Societies, goes further: "They've ruined it. They've killed the market," he says.

The paper goes on to report that a keen philatelist could have bought a set of stamps honouring Roald Dahl, a set depicting classic British comic books, another showing classic locomotives, as well as issues on the "Britons of Distinctions" or the "House of Windsor" this year alone. And that's before the Olympics or Jubilee has been factored in.

However according to Mr Baron, the villain is not the Royal Mail, but the pliant philatelists who continue to support the market. He laments that it means the young people of today cannot afford new issues.

With a first-class stamp set to rise from 46p to 60p from 30 April, Paper Monitor is glad it never started collecting stamps.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Monday, 9 April 2012

Although it's a myth that dying in Parliament is illegal, spare a thought for your local pharmacist. If he or she dies mid shift, then they have committed an illegal act! To function, a pharmacy must have in place a "Responsible Pharmacist". That person must sign in at the start of their shift and sign out at the end. Failure to do so is a criminal act. It's a moot point as to whether the crime is committed at the moment of death, or when the lifeless body is removed from the premises but pity the poor pharmacist at The Pearly Gates expecting to hear they've led an impeccable life only to discover they now have a criminal record!
Dave Moore, Par, Cornwall

Poetry in motion?
Henri, Sidcup

Margery Hallesey , being also surrounded by water, and prone to drought, here in Vic, we're constructing a desalination plant. However, even in the middle of a drought, people can get surprisingly stroppy about desalination plants. I advise you to enjoy the lack of desal.-bickering while you can! Happy Easter.
The Baroness, Victoria, Australia

Quote of the Day about Carla Bruni re wig: no-one recognises me without a wig on, not that I need one having a full head of hair anyway,so putting one on would be a bit futile. Who's Carla Bruni anyway?Just get a ''toupee and be on my way''
Tim McMahon, Martos, Wales

Paper Monitor

12:36 UK time, Monday, 9 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"Rebel without a clue," is Melanie Phillips' assessment of the Trenton Oldfield who disrupted the Boat race on The Thames on Saturday. Newspaper opinion writers pour cold water on the 35-year-old's self-proclaimed campaign against elitism. "And what exactly was that grievance?" asks Phillips in the Daily Mail.

In the words of his online manifesto, it was that 'elitism leads to tyranny'. You really do have to laugh. This Australian anti-elitist was privately educated at the elitist Sydney Church of England Grammar School, went on to study at the elitist London School of Economics and is a Fellow of the elitist Royal Society of Arts. Clearly, Oldfield should be mounting a demonstration against himself.

Oldfield has answered criticism of his actions online, saying that there was a severe deficit in democracy. But the Mail's Steve Bird describes the saboteur as "ruderless and deluded, a very middle-class urban guerilla".

Bird says that first of all Oldfield blamed government cuts, then colonialism, then the destruction of the environment.

After appearing to think hard for a few moments, he then changes his mind and says it is all down to the fact that elitism leads to tyranny. Moments later, he announces another reason for his antics in the Thames: democracy is 'broken' and Britain needs his help to fix it.

But, for the Independent's Laurie Penny, the Australian's actions were "the only interesting thing to have happened in decades of the second-dullest sporting spectacle to come out of a nation that also invented snooker."

She acknowledges that the whole escapade was silly, with Trenton's solemn 2,000 word communique about the nature of elitism reading "like it was scripted by Monty Python". But she argues that it has been made even sillier by the amount of people who are taking it "seriously".

This was hardly an epic act of class war - a few disparate activists may have claimed it as such, but they are the sort of people who cannot make a sandwich without writing a communique. Nor was it a dastardly terrorist plot. It was a prank... Pointing and laughing at power has traditionally been one of the few sports at which Britain excels, but lately the practice has become less acceptable.

A number of readers offer advice about what to do with Oldfield if he is found guilty of the public order offence for which he has been charged. One suggests that he should "undergo the months of training put in by both crews before the race". While another simply recommends that, "Trenton Oldfield is deported to Australia in a rowing boat with a broken oar."

Paper Monitor noted that Trenton sounds very much like the name of the hound of Richmond Park fame. A quick internet search indicates that, indeed, a "mash up" now exists along the lines of "Trenton, get out of the water"...

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