BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for December 9, 2012 - December 15, 2012

10 things we didn't know last week

16:28 UK time, Friday, 14 December 2012

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

1. Dogs can sniff out hospital superbugs.
More details (BMJ)

2. In China, crowded public swimming pools are called boiling dumplings.
More details (Financial Times)

3. After a minute on the floor, food has 10 times more bacteria than after five seconds.
More details (The Atlantic)

4. Female fish fancy males who flirt with other males.
More details

5. Orkney has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world.
More details (The Guardian)

6. Climbing stairs one at a time burns more calories than leaping up multiple steps.
More details (Belfast Telegraph)

7. King's Lynn is the caravan capital of England and Wales.
More details

8. Gypsies arrived in Europe 1,500 years ago.
More details (The Guardian)

9. Backward-facing barbs make porcupine prickles hard to remove.
More details

10. You can use a vibrator to save a tortoise's life.
More details (Animal Protection Agency)

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

Paper Monitor

14:36 UK time, Friday, 14 December 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The male anatomy is in the spotlight today. Both youthful and aged.

The Sun splashes on the story of Justin Bieber's testicles.
"Kidnap gang in plot to castrate Bieber". Inside there's more. "$2,500 bounty on each Bieber testicle".

Paper Monitor is feeling a little delicate today so can't go into the gory details. But in the interests of public calm, it's worth repeating the reassuring words of Bieber's manager Scooter Braun: "We take every precaution to protect and ensure the safety of Justin and his fans." Good to know that Scooter's on the case. But the mind boggles about those precautions. Reinforced steel underpants?

A rather older man gets glowing coverage for a different part of the body. The Times devotes most of page four to 68-year-old Roger Daltrey's chest.

The lead singer of The Who arrived on stage at Madison Square Garden looking dapper. Until, that is, he began to disrobe.

"The jacket did not last and the shirt opened gradually from the neck, as if the garment itself were compelled to make way for what lay beneath. There, glistening in the lights, was a tanned, hairless torso, the plate-like outline of pectorals and an abdomen still bearing the remnants of a six-pack."

Author of the piece, Will Pavia, can't resist the chance to revisit the band's most famous hit.

"This was a man who had expressed, again and again, the hope that he would die before he got old. Several decades on, he was still alive and his chest was still young."

If Justin Bieber keeps everything intact...there's hope for the lad.

Caption Competition

13:54 UK time, Friday, 14 December 2012


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Man in Hobbit costume

This week a performance artist at an event marking the launch of The Hobbit wears an alarming costume.

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

6. abz
Blackpool resident denies "fracking" has affected drinking water.

5. penny-farthing
I hope no-one is in the loo.

4. Weary Pedant
Coffee runs out at the office.

3. Hobbitmorley
I told them to give me a ring if they couldn't work it out for thems elves.

2. JimmyG
Lapse in immigration policies from New Zealand.

1. SivAngel
Unidentified item in the Baggins area...

Your Letters

15:58 UK time, Thursday, 13 December 2012

"One-day old baguette is considered the anti-Christ of bread by many French people." Having visited France, and bought bread as a tourist, I though it was de rigueur.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Re Wednesday letters: I was working alongside a pharmacist yesterday who told me he was born in Macedonia and he pronounced it with a soft "C"
Dave Moore

The proper pronunciation of Macedonia depends on where you live and what language you speak. In almost any (Western) language, it's Macedonia with an s for the c, while in Macedonian itself (and probably in other Balkan languagues) the c is pronounced as a k. Hence Macedonia's top level domain name, .mk, or its Olympic code which is MKD.
Johan van Slooten, Urk, The Netherlands

Francis (Wednesday's letters): The phrase "It's deja vu all over again" was coined by Yogi Berra.
Steve Swift, Alton/Hampshire/England

Paper Monitor

13:09 UK time, Thursday, 13 December 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Well, it's goodbye from him.

The editor of the Times, James Harding, has resigned, telling staff that News Corporation wanted to replace him with his Sunday Times counterpart.

His staff respond with a front page story about his departure - including a tribute from a rival editor, the Independent's Chris Blackhurst - and a double-page spread inside.

There were widespread reports last night that John Witherow, the long-serving editor of The Sunday Times, could be appointed editor of The Times. News Corporation has taken legal advice on whether it could merge the two newspapers in a seven-day operation. However, this may require the agreement of the government as Mr Murdoch undertook in 1981 "to preserve the separate identities of The Times and The Sunday Times".

And the digital edition of the paper includes a long list of Twitter tributes from his staff, such as:

  • Not only was he good and brilliant, he was also VERY good-looking
  • Massive loss... Office quietest I've ever known it.
  • Feel immensely saddened by James Harding's enforced resignation, like when Andrew Strauss went
  • Will go on to brilliant things but sad day for his colleagues

So, not much reading between the lines needed for Rupert Murdoch.

Meanwhile, the Pope has sent his first tweet. And this gives the Independent a chance to show off its Latin:

Or as they might say in the Vatican: Pontifex Maximus titiavit... One [Twitter] user pondered: "If the Pope makes a typo, is the typo infallible?"

Well, unnamed Twitter user, the Magazine has asked and answered that very question last week.

And the tabloids remain aerated about some new musical that's opened on the West End and seems destined to be packing in the hen parties for at least a few weeks to come. Actually, in today's papers it's not the show itself that provides the drama:

"Nice Spice party - but guess who poshed off early" - the Sun
"Posh hides as pals hit the dancefloor - I Wannabe Alone" - Sun again
"Posh is a party pooper - Queen Vic snubs other Spice Girls at musical" - Daily Star
"After the big freeze get ready for the big flood" - Daily Express

Oh. That's not about the Spice Girls. It's about the weather.

Your Letters

16:24 UK time, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Anyone else just said sixth and sickth repeatedly aloud to try to spot the difference? Thanks Trish (Tuesday letters).
Sarah , Basel, Switzerland

In answer to Francis of Watford's question... well deja revu obviously. I'll get my manteau.
John, France

I hate Christmas. Hey, if you can repeat yourself, so can I.
Angus Gafraidh, London

"The first African city edition of the famous board game Monopoly has been launched in Lagos." Interesting, especially as I remember playing the Salisbury (now Harare) version in Zimbabwe when I was a kid. Some new definition of Africa I wasn't previously aware of, perhaps?
Manny de V, Portsmouth

I wish you would write about the proper pronunciation of Macedonia. The c seems to be universally said as "s" in the West. However, when the Serbian Army went into Kosovo in 1998(?) I saw a BBC reporter on TV asking fleeing Kosovars (through an interpreter) where they were going. They answered unmistakeably "Mack-uh-donia", with a "k" sound. Elucidate, please.
John Lapham, Sacramento, US

Francis (Tuesday's letters), I believe the correct term would be something like "deja vu deux fois". However, since the literal meaning is "already seen", why wouldn't it apply the third time you see it?
Sharon Cutworth, King's Lynn

In this article, the Magazine pages pop up sometime between the Beslan siege and the 7th July bombings. When did Magazine really go online? It's difficult to tell from the chart due to the absence of a suitably large spike.
Jonathan, Freising, Germany

Paper Monitor

13:28 UK time, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

One picture dominates. It's the uniformed figure of Jatinderpal Singh Bhullar, the first soldier to parade outside Buckingham Palace wearing a Sikh turban.

The changing of the guard is the occasion. Cue gift-wrapped metaphor for editors looking to illustrate the census.

The Guardian: "We're different now: census shows a changing of the guard in Britain."

The Times: "On parade, the changing face of modern Britain."

The Daily Telegraph talks of the Scots Guardsman "forsaking the bearskin". Careful saying that after a few sherries.

The Daily Mail calls him the "sentry-box Sikh", which just sounds weird.

It points out that Sikhs have guarded the Queen many times before but never without the bearskin. Bhullar is a 25-year-old former builder from West Bromwich, we learn.

"There was no mistaking the pride on the face of Guardsman Bhullar, who wears his regimental cap badge on his turban," the paper's royal correspondent writes.

There's also something endearing about his expression. In Paper Monitor's humble opinion, it mixes ferocity with mischief, although it's probably treasonous to discuss the demeanour of the Queen's guards.

So readers please keep schtum.

Your Letters

15:22 UK time, Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Has MM been at the Christmas sherry? 3 lots of Monday's letters!
I'll get my quill...
Pete, Cheshire

Why do presenters insist on pronouncing sixth as sickth? It sounds ludicrous. Is this some new pc thing? The media keep messing about with our language - the word is sixth and not sickth!
Trish, Ormskirk

Rather concerned about the somewhat arbitrary and meaningless illustration of hydrostatic forces on HMS Astute's pressure hull given in the 'stats box' of this article. Surely everyone knows the MI (Monitor Internationale) unit of pressure is the Double Decker Bus per Football Pitch?
Brachi O'Pod, London

What's going on on the BBC website? Editors slurping too many pre-Christmas sherries? I had to click on the "unnamed page" rated at #10 on the Most Read list just to see what it was. And now Magazine Monitor's Monday letters appear three times. Sort it, out people!
Margaret, Christchurch, NZ

With the letters being published three times yesterday, does that I mean I owe Daniel & Co. a triple helping of kudos?
Anthony, Berlin

So the motto "Pile it high and sell it cheap" is ascribed to Tesco founder Jack Cohen? Having recently had the pleasure of visiting one of his emporia, I bet he's turning in his grave now.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

So, Peter Jackson says "most of the world has moved to CDs". No. Most of the world has long moved past CDs. I haven't bought a CD in ten years since I started buying MP3s.
Basil Long, Nottingham

David Davis defending himself as not being homophobic because he once boxed a gay man... If you were trying to show people you do not hate gay people - then I think using an example where you organised a situation where you could punch one is not a great way to get your point across.
Tom Webb, Surbiton

So yesterday I complained about the 'blue/purple' pin issue. And today I recheck the story and the website has changed the accompanying caption to mention 'the purple pin'. Conspiracy, much??
Daniel, London

I'm impressed by the guy who claims to have successfully made hoax calls to Paris Hilton and Jedward, because those are some smart cookies.
MJ Simpson, Leicester

Rob Falconer, of Wales - yes you are absolutely right. But in this, as in so many other instances, it's really the hug that counts!
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

What's the word for thinking that you have seen something twice before? Deja vu applies on the first repeat, but is there a word or phrase to cover the second repeat? "Deja vu encore" perhaps? Anyone reading the letters today will want to know what the right term is.
Francis, Watford

Paper Monitor

13:08 UK time, Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Contrasting approaches to covering Europe today. With one thing in common.

The Sun offers the views of Danielle, 21, from Grimsby in its News In Briefs column aka Page Three. Danielle hits out at the largesse of Brussels bureaucrats who we're told are spending £340,000 of British taxpayers' cash on eco traffic lights in Mauritius.

"The author PJ O'Rourke was right when he said, 'Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.'"

Thanks Danielle. Or Sun sub-editor acting as Danielle.

The Daily Mail reports a "risque" aside from David Cameron in which he describes his approach to Europe as "tantric". Even the PM knows that Europe needs a bit of sexing up for a domestic audience.

"This is a tantric approach to policy-making - it will be even better when it does eventually come," Cameron is quoted as saying. He adds: "That wasn't in the script.'"

Ooo-er missus.

Benedict Brogan's column in the Daily Telegraph takes its cue from this: "Like tantric sex, our wait for a European policy goes on and on," goes the headline.

Scour the piece for sex - tantric or otherwise - and you'll be disappointed. Not even a soupcon of Herman van Rompuy, president of the European Council, whom the tabloids know as Rumpy Pumpy.

An online reader comment sets Mr Brogan straight on his analogies. "It's not tantric activity that's needed, it's coitus interruptus."

Clearly, sex and Europe are a painful mix for some readers.

Your Letters

15:08 UK time, Monday, 10 December 2012

Re: This story. The BLUE pin? Are you sure? Not the purple one?? Because if I was looking for the blue one as well as lost with the map app, well, don't rate my chances much...

Whoa! Whatever happened here? Not a london bus in sight. I have no idea how big this vessel is.
John Cole, Havre de Grace, MD, US

With due respect to Paul Morris (Friday's letters), I think if his wife had said "Oh, Mrs. Somethingorother!" that might have been seen as even less sympathetic.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Kim Jong-online: What's it like to surf the net in North Korea? Was resulting in a 404 - Page Not Found. A new form of nominative determinism?
Christopher, Kew

Paper Monitor

10:49 UK time, Monday, 10 December 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's Monday, and the film reviews are in.

What? *rubs eyes, checks calendar*

That's right, it is Monday. And there are film reviews in the papers. Most unusual.

But when a notable film is released - or the embargo on its reviews lifted - the film critics are allowed to sharpen their quills on the hot stone plates of the news pages.

And so to their verdicts on The Hobbit (the short book turned into three films. T-H-R-E-E.)

Two stars out of five from the Daily Telegraph:

"Like butter that has been scraped over too much bread" was how JRR Tolkien described the supernatural world-weariness of Bilbo Baggins in the opening chapter of The Lord of the Rings.
This phrase, incomparably Tolkien-esque in its syntactic neatness and semantic beauty, is also a perfect description for the first instalment in Peter Jackson's three-part adaptation of The Hobbit.

The paper also points out that the film lasts "11 minutes short of three hours". When did movies get so long?

The Daily Mail pits prequel v sequel, aka The Hobbit v The Snowman And The Snowdog. That's leading hobbit Martin Freeman (bless!) v a "romping, mischievous scruff of a pup". Hardly a fair fight, in other words. Ding ding! The Snowdog wins, five stars to three.

Three, too, from the Guardian, which praises the film's "brio and fun" but struggles with its super high-definition frame rate:

But I had the weird, residual sense that I was watching an exceptionally expensive, imaginative and starry BBC Television drama production, the sort that goes out on Christmas Day, with 10 pages of coverage in the seasonal Radio Times, and perhaps a break in the middle for the Queen's Speech.

The Times breaks out an extra star to round it up to four:

I was rather dreading The Hobbit - and I speak as someone who has staged a full re-enactment of The Lord of the Rings in one hour at a party with 12 children - but the film kept me entertained.

The Sun, too, loves it:

There is enough action in this opener to fill three movies.

And finally, onto Christmas coverage with a spot of punning gold from the Daily Mirror - an early present, as it were, for fans of Paper Monitor's former stablemate Punorama.


Paper Monitor looks forward to wheeling this new word out over the festive period at any and all opportunities.

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