BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for November 18, 2012 - November 24, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

18:28 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2012

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

1. Prince Philip takes naps in his horse box.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

2 There is 200 times more faecal bacteria on a chopping board than a toilet seat.
More details

3. Great apes have mid-life crises.
More details

4. People in the UK become grandparents at 47 on average.
More details (The Guardian)

5. Osama bin Laden's burial at sea was confirmed by a senior US sailor with the coded message "FedEx delivered the package".
More details (Daily Telegraph)

6. The popular belief that angels sang to the shepherds to proclaim the birth of Jesus is not true, according to the Pope.
Read more (UPI)

7. Some map makers intentionally include phantom streets to prevent copyright infringements.
More details

8. Americans use 5m km of dental floss a year.
More details (The Times)

9. The giant bird Diatryma was a "gentle herbivore" and not a fierce carnivore, as previously thought.
More details

10. Nude dancing in strip clubs is a form of free speech in the US.
More details

Seen a thing? Tell @BBC_magazine on Twitter using the hashtag #thingIdidntknowlastweek

Your Letters

15:00 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2012

Ok, I know it's an American "sport" but the caption to the photo for smart glasses saying they could display stats about football players, whilst showing a picture of a baseball game.? I know it's a Friday and all...
Malcolm Rees, Aldershot

It doesn't always help to pronounce names of foreign foods correctly (Paper Monitor, Friday). I've often had to ask for djallapeenoes after requests for jalapenos have been met with blank stares. And don't get me started on the subject of coritzo, please.
David, Romford, UK

Only three winners of this week's Caption Competition? Is the price of raw kudos going up? Or is Scrooge taking over this Christmas?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Something being visible from space used to be an impressive testament to giant size. But we've all used Google Maps. My garden shed is visible from space.
MJ Simpson, Leicester, UK

Perhaps the main problem for "WWII pigeon message stumps GCHQ decoders" is that the message is in pidgin English? I'll get my coat.
Lewis Graham, Hitchin

Did anyone else find themselves saying "exotic dishes and delicacies" to themselves and wondering what the fuss was about?
Joseph, London

The most common food mispronunciation these days has to be "bruschetta". It's not pronounced "brooshetta", it's "broo-sketta". I also avoid ordering panini in coffee shops because I can't bear to ask for "a panini" ("panino" is singular, "panini" plural).
Sharon Cutworth, King's Lynn

The "g" in gnocchi is not silent at all. The "g" alters the sound of the "n". Try saying nocchi and notice how your tongue just drops from the top of your mouth. Now try saying the same word but in doing so slide down to the back of your teeth. It's a subtle difference, but it is certainly noticeable to Italian speakers.
Martin, Luxembourg

Re myth-busting the Christmas Ads. So - Tom Herbert doesn't "know any guy that can sit on his bottom and watch the telly while their other half does all the cooking" does he? Well he's welcome to come to our house Christmas Day. Prepare to be amazed Mr Herbert. Aqua Suliser, Bath

Caption Competition

13:03 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week New Yorkers get ready for the annual Thanksgiving parade.

Thanks to all who entered. This week, we've just picked three. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

3. Alvin Olaf:
Wall Street ponders net inflation figures.

2. Martin Walter:
When it fell over, you should have heard the Sonic boom.

1. Gurney Nutting:
Yeah, we used the Statue of Liberty's stockings.

Paper Monitor

11:42 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor might not have had enough breakfast because for some reason it's all the foodie stories that stand out today.

The Daily Telegraph, for example, brings news that Debrett's has decreed it is now OK to eat with one's fingers.

The guide, which includes a 10-point plan to finger food, is a marked departure from previous guidance from Debrett's, which emphasised the proper use of cutlery in polite company, the paper says.

Tips include:
- When eating with your hands it can be tempting to hunch over your plate... try to sit up straight, don't intrude into your neighbour's space and never put your elbows on the table
- Remember it's likely to be a bit messy... If your hands get food on them, try to avoid licking your fingers clean.

Well then, now that's cleared up, Paper Monitor is also struck by a story in the Daily Mail.

It seems millions of Britons are struggling with the pronunciation of "exotic dishes and delicacies".

The culprits? The Greek dip tzatziki and the Italian ham prosciutto.

Other embarrassing clangers include pronouncing the silent "g" in the dish "gnocchi" and struggling to say "nicoise" correctly.

Words such as quesadillas, ciabatta, dauphinois and the cheese haloumi are also stumbling blocks.

People are so worried about getting it wrong, one in five are put off ordering food in a restaurant purely because they don't know how to pronounce it, the paper says.

Paper Monitor might seek out a prosciutto and haloumi ciabatta for lunch and see how it fares. Oh, and eat it with its fingers.

Your Letters

15:04 UK time, Thursday, 22 November 2012

Alex, horses can swim, I agree, but not even in Blazing Saddles did they do the backstroke.
Graham, Purmerend, Netherlands

David,Thursday's letters, I suggest nominative determin-not-ism.
Henri, Sidcup

You do seem a little obsessed with (particularly male) nudity at the moment. Has someone had a traumatic holiday experience?
Basil Long, Nottingham

So... Twinkies Liquidation Approved I can only assume they've decided to answer that age old internet question... Will It Blend?? I'll go fetch my labcoat...
Malcolm Rees, Aldershot

The blind Venetian? I bet one of you at Magazine Monitor was really pleased with that headline!
Rob Falconer, Llandough

Paper Monitor

13:13 UK time, Thursday, 22 November 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

All good things must come to an end. Some when they've barely started, covered in lice with a mouthful of ostrich anus.

Paper Monitor speaks, of course, of Nadine Dorries who has said goodbye to her jungle friends after being voted off I'm A Celebrity.

Let us mark this solemn occasion by reflecting on the press's farewell to the Honourable Member for Mid-Bedfordshire.

"Ready to face the music, Nadine?" asks the Daily Mail.

The Daily Star stirs things up. "Jungle Nadine: Helen Is Faking It!" a shocking suggestion that "soap babe" Helen Flanagan might be hamming it up to win over the viewers.

Punning wins out at the Daily Mirror. "Go, Nad! MP gets boot". The paper quotes her telling Ant and Dec: "I actually came here slightly self-important, but I completely found myself."

Ah, bless, Paper Monitor loves a happy ending.

Your Letters

17:24 UK time, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Presumably the snake in the toilet was called Lulu because she made the woman want to Shout?
Basil Long, Nottingham

How do you get a horse out of a six foot hole? Fill it with water? Horses can swim, right, I've seen the Westerns.
Alex, Grand Rapids MI

"Britain attracted to microgravity"? But presumably not terribly attracted?
Lewis Graham, H

I'm sorry to go on about nominative determinism, but a Mr Wiener in this article is just too good to miss! Please give me the kudos of my first ever letter being published.
Sarah, Oxford, UK

What's the opposite of nominative determinism? For example, Mr Wiener apparently voting to make public nudity illegal.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Paper Monitor

14:29 UK time, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Been to the dentist lately? Or the hygienist for that matter? (Paper Monitor is now trying not to think of that noise - you know, the scrape of a metal hook on tooth enamel. Scrape scrape scrape...)

And did you get told off for insufficient or non-existent flossing?

Well, today's Times has news for you. Flossing is a waste of time.

With an appetising main course of factlets and figures ahead, the Times' flossing fan Helen Rumbelow lays out hors d'ouvers such as this anecdote:

According to Clint Eastwood's former partner Sondra Locke, in her book The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly, the Hollywood star would whisper, "Sweetie, did you floss?" as a prelude to sex.

For she has come across a dentist who hasn't flossed for 20 years. Why?

In all the reviews of flossing studies, no amount of flossing - daily, twice daily - has shown any reduction in your chances of tooth decay. There was only one exception: in which schoolchildren received a professional 15-minute flossing from a hygienist five days a week for nearly two years. "Self-flossing," researchers concluded, "failed to show an effect on tooth decay".

Said dentist has instead developed her own plan to combat tooth decay. Mouth wash and sweets.

Yes, sweets.

Not your common or garden jelly baby, oh no. Or even a modest handful of milk bottles.

But xylitol sweets. Made from birch.

Your humble correspondent expects sales of mouthwash and birch sweets to go through the roof among Times readers. Who then gargle and pop birch sweets religiously for a week or two, then get tired of it, and restart several days before their next dental appointment.

Your Letters

16:29 UK time, Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Well really! After this article earlier in the week, now look what's in the news. Is it me or is it hot in here?
Just off to write my Christmas list...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Irony is alive and well at the BBC. At the end of the article on why people use typewriters, readers are invited "Do you use a typewriter? Send us your story using the form below and we'll publish a selection".
Mark Esdale, Bridge, UK

Re ugly animals: surely we must remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Does it say something about me (or even worse, my beloved?) that I found all your examples cute?
Fran, Brill, UK

Is it just me, or is there a bias against long noses in this article? As a human who is well-endowed in the snout department, I certainly don't want to become endangered...
Henna, Aberdeen, Scotland

Is there an elf and safety dimension to this story?
Mark, Reading, UK

Simon - Monday's letters - on the count of three, everyone... One, two, three... TERRIBLE!
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Paper Monitor

12:28 UK time, Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There are only a few subjects which the papers can all agree are a Good Thing - the Queen, for example (although yes, Paper Monitor does know that constitutionally speaking, she's not a subject).

There are a few more issues which the papers all agree are a Bad Thing - and MPs' expenses is definitely one of them.

Today's Daily Telegraph places the two side by side - a picture of Her Majesty, next to the news that "MPs are allowed to hide expenses details".

More than 50 MPs have been allowed to censor details of their taxpayer-funded expenses claims after information about their second homes could compromise their security.

No rules have been broken, and nobody accuses MPs of doing more than the existing rules allow. But the press speaks more or less as one in its suspicion that even if nothing has been proved, the withholding of information makes it look, as one MP tells the Daily Mail, "like there is something to hide".

The Sun's editorial curls its lip in contempt:

If MPs showed as much skill running the country as they do crafting their expenses, Britain would be powerhouse of the world.

The Sun manages to unearth the only vaguely glitzy aspect of the story: LAMPARD THE MP'S LANDLORD - it transpires that the Chelsea ace is letting a flat to former defence minister Sir Peter Luff. This, it turns out, is news to both the letter and the lettee.

Unfortunately, the showbiz connection ends there. The papers have a harder job setting pulses racing with the news that Tom Watson rents from a senior official at Unite, or that Steve Webb MP is renting a house from Lib Dem peer Baroness Tonge - who as far as we know, never scored for England or dated Christine Bleakley.

The Telegraph adds a nice picture of the stately home, Burghley House, into the mix - but before Paper Monitor can put on a good Loyd Grossman voice and say "Who lives in a house like this, David?" it turns out that planning minister Nick Boles only rents a house NEAR this.

Paper Monitor suspects that, wherever the story goes from here, the only MP's second home likely to be followed up in Wednesday's papers is the tent in Australia currently occupied by Nadine Dorries.

Your Letters

15:36 UK time, Monday, 19 November 2012

They lost the mouse? (Random Stat).
Rusty, Montreal, Quebec

Three times the Mousetrap has been cancelled (re Paper Monitor) - was that the great mid-week cheese famine of 1965?
Martin, Luxembourg

The Coventry Telegraph Twitter feed just displayed the message "Pagan switches on Coventry Christmas Lights". Thinking that they had finally discovered the true history of Christmas, my joy was short-lived when I read the article.
StuKP, Warwickshire

I'm not an expert in flood prevention but I don't see a lot of point in putting sandbags across somebody's path when the water can just flow around them, through the garden.
David Richerby, Liverpool

"There used to be first-class carriages on London's Tube ..." And perhaps a Royal carriage on the Victoria Line?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

This is all very well, but how does it smell?
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Paper Monitor

13:28 UK time, Monday, 19 November 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So. The Mousetrap. It's been running for 60 years in London's Glittering West End™, making it the world's longest-running play.

If Agatha Christie's tale somehow turned into a newspaper, it would no doubt be the Daily Telegraph.

Aptly, the venerable paper has put the venerable play on page three to mark its 25,000th performance, and showcases The Mousetrap in numbers:

  • 3 - times the play has had to be cancelled in its time on the London stage (can you guess? Tell us using the send a letter form on the right of this page)
  • 50 - languages into which the play has been translated
  • 60 - years the play has been continuously running in London
  • 411 - actors have appeared in the play
  • 4,575 - times David Raven played the character of Major Metcalfe, earning himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records
  • 12,000 - disadvantaged young people taken to the theatre in London each year by Mousetrap Theatre projects, a charity which receives funding from the play

And finally, eight - the number of months its author thought it would last on stage.

Meanwhile, in the Times, Libby Purves lays into tweeters such as "idly self-righteous 'citizen journalists'" and Sally Bercow:

(I once "followed" her for a few days, but had to "unfollow" her because of the undignified temptation to tweet back and tell her what a div she is)

But she also worries about what 140-character microblogging is doing to the nation's fragile psyche.

Twitter protocol [says] nothing too trifling to share with the world. Except that the dark things, frustrations and insecurities, dullness and graft, are rarely shared unless they're made quirkily amusing and loveable. It is the opposite of the great truth that George Orwell once enunciated, that every life viewed from within is a succession of small defeats. On Twitter, a life displayed must be a succession of amusing little triumphs.

She likens keeping up a stream of "daily titbits of loveability or glamour" to wearing a mask that eats into the face.

Gross. Paper Monitor does not like the sound of a gnawed-on face, and is therefore tempted to set up a Twitter feed exclusively devoted to small defeats. What might one's first tweet be?

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