BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 22, 2012 - April 28, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

17:54 UK time, Friday, 27 April 2012

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

1. Rupert Murdoch's first name is Keith.
More details (Leveson Inquiry)

2. Bob Marley banned smoking at home.
More details

3. Ten per cent of sharks are luminous.
More details

4. Students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology throw a piano off the roof every year.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

5. Milton Keynes is the most popular place in the country for first-time buyers.
More details (Daily Mail)

6. Pigeons have 'satnav brain cells'.
More details

7. Robert Redford didn't want to include hit song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
More details (Metro)

8. German football's Bundesliga is the second best attended sports league in the world, behind American Football's NFL.
More details (The Times)

9. Older women invest more in their daughters' lives than their partners'.
More details (The Economist)

10. Sir Tom Jones has an iconic red phone box cemented into the ground by his swimmming pool in his LA home.
More details (The Times)

Seen a thing? Submit it on Twitter using the hashtag #thingIdidntknowlastweek

Your Letters

14:49 UK time, Friday, 27 April 2012

A man sold fake Viagra, and "The court found that he made £15.4m from his dealings and ordered him to pay £14.4m." So, it's official then - crime does pay.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Having crossed the International Date Line (though I still didn't manage to get a date) in my travels from New Zealand to San Francisco (where there is considerably better free wi-fi) I am now in the odd position of reading tomorrow's Paper Monitor today.
Basil Long, Nottingham (though not quite at the moment).

Even though this morning the Quiz of the Week's News was identical to that from last week, I still only managed to score 4. To make things worse, I got 6 last week.
Ross, London

Should job-hogging over-50s all resign? I'm 52. I'd happily quit work to make way for a younger person - but what would I live on? I can't draw my company pension until I'm 55, and I can't get state pension until I'm 68. So I'd be on benefits - probably more benefits than the young unemployed person that could replace me. My company probably wouldn't take that person on anyway because they wouldn't have the qualifications and experience.
Chookgate, Milton Keynes

Are we really supposed to believe this headline - that pigeons can receive signals from the USA's once-military satellite system and use them to navigate. Stop being silly, BBC!
Colin Main, Berkhamsted, UK

Paper Monitor

08:59 UK time, Friday, 27 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Fans of early 20th Century dramas Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs - who learnt this week that the latter will not be commissioned for a third series - will be cheered up by today's papers, which are peppered with insights into who the great and good choose to live alongside.

First up is the revelation that David and Samantha Cameron have hired an Australian backpacker, with somewhat interesting credentials, as a nanny for their children.

"Strewth, SamCam's new nanny is a swearing Sheila," the Daily Mail declares. As well as revealing her penchant for swearing, the paper says the new addition to Downing Street has apparently admitted shoplifting, smoking and drinking in her youth.

The source? An internet survey the new recruit completed as a teenager. Dissecting it in more detail, the paper says Miss Strange, now 24, thought her top achievement would be to finish university without dropping out, and her dream job was to be an events manager.

No 10 has dismissed the online survey as something she filled out as a "joke".

If Miss Strange's father's comments are anything to go by, the young woman's aspirations might have somewhat grown over the past few years.

"I hope she might marry Prince Harry but I couldn't afford the wedding," the former vice president of St Kilda Football Club, David Strange, somewhat optimistically tells the paper.

Talking about the Royal Family, the Daily Telegraph reports the Balmoral Estate is seeking a new gardener.

According to the advert, "enthusiasm" and "experience" are key, and the successful candidate will be awarded with an "attractive package".

So far, so ordinary, some might say. It is only the last line, "accommodation may be available," that hints this garden might be a cut above the rest.

That and the nine-hole golf course, which is used by the Duke of York and Duke of Cambridge, that the employee will need to tend to.

With all that material, Paper Monitor is wondering whether anyone will be brave enough to embark on a modern version of Upstairs Downstairs. Fictional of course.

Your Letters

16:58 UK time, Thursday, 26 April 2012

So, there are websites selling stolen credit card details. I assume they work like any other online shopping site. You choose what you want, click "checkout", give them your credit card details... Heyyy! Wait a minute!
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Thanks HB (Wednesday's Letters). Come on MM, embolden me !
Paul Greggor, London

Re the European sausage dispute, the solution was aired on the BBC in 1984. Both the Austrians and the Slovenians will be delighted to know that from now on they are eating eurosausages a la Yes Minister.
David, Jerusalem

Re What's the best way to store rainwater? We recommend that our US visitors refer to a British dictionary before reading the following passage: "You should not have problems in the UK with mosquitoes, but if you do, there are special gels and crystals you can add to your butt to stop them breeding.
Andrew, London

Re this: "Nobody can predict the weather. We're in April and we're having horrendous weather." Sounds pretty predictable to me.
David, Cardiff, Wales

Paper Monitor

16:14 UK time, Thursday, 26 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is in favour of umbrellas as much as the next man or woman. Indeed having yet again been soaked during its lunch hour today, the brolly's worth has only increased.

So is an umbrella a news story? Well, up to a point Lord Copper. Meaning no. Except in one peculiar circumstance - if a duchess is sheltering under the aforementioned canopy.

For today's newspapers are full of graphic images - parapluie porn if you will - of
Catherine Middleton being sheltered from the capricious elements by her husband's umbrella.

"Undercover Duchess" goes the headline on the front of the Daily Telegraph.

For the Daily Express's cover "the Duchess of Cambridge was smiling in the rain yesterday, thanks to husband William's umbrella."

The Daily Mail sees it as old fashioned chivalry: "Gallant: William shelters Kate."

Paper Monitor, who was brought up on the creed "Dog bites man - not news, man bites dog - news" - needed to lie down in a dark room to puzzle this one out. A duchess + an umbrella = news, apparently.

But just as the press card was about to be handed in, Paper Monitor catches sight of the Daily Star's front page.

"It's long to rain over us", it punned next to a pic of the Royal Couple. Ah, so that's it, there is a story here. It's raining and it's going to keep raining for a long, long time in this green and pleasnt land. Rain is the new zeitgeist and the press wants more of it.

Except wasn't that yesterday's news? Clearly an umbrella and a princess really can take on not just the elements but the news agenda and win.

Caption Competition

12:30 UK time, Thursday, 26 April 2012


It's the Caption Competition.

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

New fish building

This week, a new government building is opened in Hyderabad, India.

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

6) MightyGiddyUpGal wrote:
Call me Ishmael, but that's quite impressive.

5) James Rigby wrote:
The architect didn't care, he did it just for the halibut

4) bainbo wrote:
It's a multi-storey Carp Ark

3) MuteJoe wrote:
Google Translate unveils its Tower of Babelfish

2) Whatever Next wrote:
It was built to Scales

1) Rob Falconer wrote:
I'm not really sure about the design - I'll have to mullet over

Your Letters

16:45 UK time, Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Paul Greggor (Tuesday's letters), Come on Paul! Be bold!
HB, London

Is it possibly true that bees can breakdance vertically but only to music by Sting (10 Things)? This has been buzzing around my head for days.
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

Why has Donald Trump got such a problem with wind? Why's he so anti-wind? Oh sorry, I think I see. I'll get me comb.
John Bratby, Southampton

Dirk has never lived in the wild." I imagine he's also never lived in a hotel.
Adrian, Bristol

David Richerby: I don't think that's a muffin - I think the ambassador is spoiling us with his giant Ferrero Rocks...
Sue, London

Paper Monitor

15:29 UK time, Wednesday, 25 April 2012

First Britain is drought-hit. Now, we are being warned to brace ourselves for a month of rain over the next 24 hours. Paper Monitor can't keep up with the weather, but after being caught in a deluge at lunchtime it needed some cheering up.

Which is why it is pleased to see some Britons, in a place called Dull, in Perthshire, are looking on the bright side of life. According to the Daily Express, residents are "thrilled" the village is being linked up with the American township of Boring.

Dull community council chairman Tommy Pringles tells the paper: "People stop dead to photograph the signpost for Dull. Imagine how many would do a double-take if it said 'Welcome to Dull, a sister community of Boring?"

The move was the brainwave of Scottish cyclist Elizabeth Leighton, who found herself pedalling through Boring on a US holiday.

Her friend, one resident of Dull, Emma Burtles, emailed community planners in Boring and says they embraced the idea, saying "it's all about bringing people a smile and a wee laugh".

Talking about smiling, another story - which is also brought to us from the US - brings news that turning the other cheek can actually make you more attractive.

The Daily Mail says a study shows the left side that is our good side, and pictures taken on the left cast us in a more appealing light than those taken from the right.

"So if you are smiling, you're going to get a bigger smile on the left side of your face than on your right side," says author James Schirillo, from Wake Forest Unviersity in North Carolina.

The paper goes on to say the discovery may explain why portrait artists have traditionally tended to paint the left profile of subjects such as the Mona Lisa and the Laughing Cavalier.

Paper Monitor can't help thinking of Beyonce's "to the left, to the left" Irreplaceable lyrics and wondering if she was wise to it too.

Your Letters

16:46 UK time, Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Are there really giant chocolate muffins in space? Or is it an ordinary-sized chocolate muffin and a tiny satellite?
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Kitty, Tuesdays letters, do you know nothing? Polar bears are always measured in buttons. But they have to be red, with four holes. Two holed buttons are only used to measure Giraffes, unless they're purples, in which case they're for measuring Dolphins.
David, Liverpool

Anyone else wondering what the Iron Lady was doing prowling roof tops with her canine companion?
Paul Lawrence, Cirencester

Toby Speight, Monday's letters, Come on Toby! Be bold!
HB, London

I was interested to see your Ford Transit photographs, but disappointed that you didn't include picture 13 from 2004.
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

I like historian David Starkey but his views and reluctance of support of the Thames River Pageant to celebrate The Queen Elzabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee may leave him alone in his views as the one 'up the creek without a paddle'...methinks.Just had to put my oar in ,fill the kayak and paddle off.....
Tim McMahon, Martos/Spain

"White killer whale adult spotted" said the link in Most Popular. Why is this news? Are most of them striped ?
Paul Greggor, London

Continuing the ten things bold-text poem thread:
"There are professional people with corgis:
bees, swans cannot break-dance better; a dog can.
You can be the polar bear, being yourself (thinking about death), at Chris Hoy's first."
eddyozman, NY, NY

I'm afraid David Richerby missed one from his list: Scouts.
Howard, London, UK

I love the "Most Popular" headline editing. "Sub grounding 'caused by errors'". Brilliant in it's simplicity, in so many ways.
Ian, Bristol

Paper Monitor

13:25 UK time, Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today's Paper Monitor examines the theme of patriotism - and what could be more patriotic than a tattoo, maybe of a Union Flag, a St George's Cross, a lion, a teacup?

No, 19-year-old Lewis Jolly, has plumped for something more, er, unique. A tattoo of London mayor Boris Johnson. Here is what he had to say about the £180 inking in The Sun.

"I'm patriotic and I thought rather than have something everyone else has got - like a bulldog or the St George's Cross flag - I'd get Boris. I love that he wants to celebrate what's great about London."

Now here's a thing - Jolly doesn't reside in London, but Chorley.

The chef from Lancashire may be interested in the Jubilee pie that is to be prepared for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee by chefs in Gloucester.

According to the Telegraph, the tradition is believed to have started some 800 years ago. The jawless fish has been caught in the River Severn, made into a pie and presented to the monarch of the day to mark such events as coronations and jubilees.

This year, however, there is a shortage of the fish. In fact, lamprey in the UK is an endangered species and protected by law - so destined for a pie, it is not. A number of eel-like creatures - which will be cooked in their own blood - will be imported from Canada, instead.

The Telegraph's leader column provides more context.

The business end of a lamprey looks more like a vacuum cleaner attachment or a detail from an off-putting painting by Francis Bacon than a fish. The creature leads a parasitic life, battening upon the sides of ordinary hard-working fishes with its rows of sharp little teeth. Yet these underwater oddities have long been made into a dainty dish to set before a king. Indeed, Henry I is reputed to have died from a surfeit of them, which shows remarkable single-mindedness.

Meanwhile, police chiefs in Accrington, Lancashire have been given a dressing down by the Sun for banning a St George's Day flag on one of their buildings.

According to the paper, the flag has been flown in past years on the station in Accrington and was on display at other public buildings in the town on Monday. One councillor was quoted in the paper calling for the police chiefs to "show more patriotism".

So why wasn't it there? The police station is an old building and bosses feared that a member of staff could fall through the roof while putting the flag up.

A spokesman for the Lancashire force said they felt that while the station was not "fit for purpose and it was felt inappropriate to ask a member of staff to go on to the roof to put the flag up for one day".

Paper Monitor doesn't know if the station currently flies a Union Flag or not - but just a word of warning, Her Majesty is scheduled to visit Accrington in May.

Your Letters

17:04 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

Happy St George's Day, everyone! You don't have to be English to celebrate - he's also patron saint of Georgia, of course. Moscow, too. Oh, and Malta and Ethiopia. And Greece and Portugal and Palestine. And Slovenia. And Aragon and Catalonia and Bavaria and Bulgaria. And anyone on a horse or who makes saddles. Or owns a farm or works in a field, shepherds included. Also, butchers, archers and armourers. And, um, well, anyone with herpes. Or leprosy or syphilis. Or plague or, actually, any other skin disease. Should be quite a party!
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Mr Mullet? Mr Mullet is who has denied ordering hair cutting attacks? You couldn't make this stuff up. Could you?
Clare, Aylesbury, UK

I was impressed by the "prize-winning light bulb" that had "triumphed in the Bright Tomorrow competition". I do have to admit to a little disappointment on learning that it was "the only entrant for the competition" - something similar is alleged of me whenever I pick the "You have won second prize in a beauty contest" card in Monopoly.
Toby Speight, Scotland, UK

One other thing Tesco's have got wrong. I went into my local one on Friday. A bottle of wine, labelled as a 'price drop'...from £7.79 to £8.10!!!! Every little helps, but not with basic maths it would seem!
Daniel, London

Re: 10 things, "8.The polar bear is 450,000 older than previously thought." - 450,000 what? Seconds? Bananas? Snooker Balls?
Kitty, Coventry, England

Paper Monitor

15:01 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The opinion columns of the newspapers can often be a serendipitous experience - and today, Paper Monitor was transported back to its childhood by the Telegraph's words of support for the humble flannel.

According to Debenhams, the square piece of cloth (why are they always square?) may be on the "verge of extinction" due to of the growing popularity of time-saving facial wipes, and the preference for fancy shower gels, etc, over good-old fashioned soap.

In response to the news that the department store is launching what it describes as a rescue plan that includes reinventing the flannel as part of one's "everyday beauty therapy", the Telegraph reminds readers of the cloth's "essential purpose". Debenhams is keen to extol the virtues of the flannel in helping to remove facial oils and making dull skin appear brighter.

However, the Telegraph is keen to go back to first principles.

This square of cloth, traditionally, was not a beauty aid but an instrument of enforced cleanliness, scrubbed vigorously across a complaining child's face until the cheeks were raw and rosy. It may seem out of place in this world of creams and unguents, but we shall miss it when it's gone.

Judging by readers' comments on the paper's web page, there aren't too many people lamenting the flannel's demise. "Unless the bathroom face flannel is ruthlessly washed out after use then air-dried every time I would think it to be a minefield for bugs," writes one.

James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is the subject of the Times' third leader. A new edition of this stream-of-consciousness style book has been published - apparently with the mistakes corrected.

But the paper asks whether it is possible to "correct the spelling and grammar of a book that begins in the middle of a sentence, with the word 'riverrun' and, indeed, on its very first page, includes the word 'bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthyntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk', which is probably but not definitely, the sound of thunder".

It is little wonder, then, that the book often elicits the question - "is this the biggest literary joke ever?"

On another literary note, the subject of the Guardian's "In praise of" column on its opinion pages is Shakespeare's sonnet 18. The paper picks its favourite from the
sonnets that were read aloud in different languages at the Globe theatre in London to mark the bard's birthday.

Okay, if you can't immediately recall No 18, then here's a clue: Skal jeg sammenligne deg med en sommers dag? The sonnet continues in Dutch, French, Turkish, Portuguese, Latin etc.

Veel zachter en veel zonniger ben jij

Der Sturm zerreißt des Maien BlüthenKränze,

Och sommarns fröjd hvad är sa kort som den?

As vezes em calor e brilho o Sol se excede

Judging by the readers' comments at the bottom of the piece, many people are not fazed by this multi-lingual approach. But for Paper Monitor, something really has got lost in translation.

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