BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for January 27, 2013 - February 2, 2013

10 things we didn't know last week

15:20 UK time, Friday, 1 February 2013

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

1. Mice enjoy being massaged.
More details (Scientific American)

2. Americans pronounce gifs as "jifs".
More details

3. Jane Austen was paid an advance of £110 for Pride and Prejudice.
More details

4. An adult is made up of around 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms.
More details (The Observer)

5. The House of Lords has a rifle range.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

6. A storm is described as a "bomb" if pressure falls by 24mb in a 24-hour period.
More details (The Times)

7. Prince Charles did not use the London Underground between 1986 and 2013.
More details (Reuters)

8. Owls have smart bones in their necks.
More details

9. Male birds become more attractive to females when they go grey.
More details (The Times)

10. Formica, the mainstay of 1950s kitchen furniture, was so called because it was developed as a replacement for mica - an insulating material for car engines.
More details (Financial Times)

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

Your Letters

15:12 UK time, Friday, 1 February 2013

'Police watchdog 'woefully under-equipped''? Collar, bowl, basket, dog food...what more does it want?
Mark, Reading, UK

Iceland banned the name Blaer? If only we'd banned the name Blair in the fifties ...
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Blaer, which protests.
Paul Greggor, London

Thank God Basil is still with us (Wednesday's letters).
E Q-P, Leeds

Re: Aqua Suliser's letter (Monday's letters) about the gender of Paper Monitor. The correct term is "intersex", not "hermaphrodite" - which is considered a slur and highly offensive to intersex individuals. Meanwhile, why all the fuss about PM's gender - does it really matter? Might I advance "pangender" (of all genders) as a solution for those who really must have a label to stick on everyone?
Karen, Gloucester, UK

Simon (Thursday's letters): Cars! What happened to our beloved double-decker buses?
Jonathan, Freising, Germany

Edward (Thursday's letters), I don't know if 8,000 counts as a best seller or not, but I'd happily but a copy of Finnegans Wake in Chinese. Even though I've never studied the language, it probably makes more sense than the original.
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Paper Monitor

12:30 UK time, Friday, 1 February 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Continuing on from yesterday's theme, asking why there was a big then-and-now picture of Antonia de Sancha on page 13 of the Daily Telegraph and page three of the Daily Mail on Thursday, it seems - for reasons that still escape Paper Monitor - some editors really want this 20-year-old story to resurface.

Because both papers revisit it today.

Whatever happened to Antonia de Sancha - the kiss-and-tell lover who brought down David Mellor? the Telegraph asks, and in the absence of any development, decides to check in with Max Clifford, "then king of kiss-and-tell PR".

Mr Clifford doesn't really have anything to add either, other than point out how others have made more of similar scandals.

It very much depends on the individual - on what they want. Bienvenida Buck, who had the affair with Sir Peter Harding, Chief of Defence Staff, made an awful lot of money out of books and television. Rebecca Loos obviously made hundreds of thousands of pounds and had a year or two of being on TV [after details emerged of an alleged affair with David Beckham].

Imogen Thomas has done quite well from the Ryan Giggs situation in terms of work and modelling. It gives these people a platform, notoriety. But it also depends on public perception - do the public warm to them.

Meanwhile over at the Mail, Jan Moir uses the story to warn "indiscreet mistresses" Kiss-and-tell girls never prosper but their victims thrive like cockroaches.

At least the Guardian seems to be stumped by the non-story.

Daily Mail carries out yet another exercise in female humiliation is Roy Greenslade's take on it, surmising "there simply was no point to it beyond demeaning the woman".

Paper Monitor wonders whether the photos will make a third appearance over the weekend.

Your Letters

16:55 UK time, Thursday, 31 January 2013

"...a mass 450 million times that of our Sun". Got that? No? Perhaps "six billion trillion trillion family cars" will help you get a feel for it.
Simon, Cambridge, UK

So. Regarding this story.

"Bermuda triangle explained!" screams the headline. "MAY have been solved" admits the first paragraph. And then the person in question says "this doesn't prove it by any stretch".
That's a few minutes of my life I'll never get back
Daniel, London

Not to rain on the publishers' parade, but a print run of 8,000 means that they've sold the book to approximately 0.0005% of the Chinese population. Would selling 300 copies in Britain make a book - even a foreign-language book - a 'bestseller'?
Edward Green, London, UK

To Johan van Slooten (Wednesday letters): I think you'll find that's probably just a Geordie on the way home from a night out...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Considering shadows are usually cast as a result of sunshine, I'm mightily impressed that the investigators in this article could pinpoint them to a British summer's day!
Brendan, London

A folly.
Not to be confused with the bloated, lumbering Jackson Folly.

Rusty, Montreal, Canada

Paper Monitor

15:01 UK time, Thursday, 31 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor likes a good mystery.

In the spirit of viral news website Buzzfeed, here are seven from today's papers.

1. Why is there a big then-and-now picture of Antonia de Sancha on page 13 of the Daily Telegraph. No explanation is included. And page three of the Daily Mail.

2. Why is the Daily Express still calling itself "The World's Greatest Newspaper"?

3. Where do they get the actors for the photo casebooks in the tabloids?

4. Who actually enjoys the diary columns in newspapers?

5. Why is the average quick crossword so easy and the average cryptic one so hard? Couldn't they have an intermediate one?

6. Are there people who perversely get a kick out of those hyperdull paid-for supplements that plop out of newspapers? Sample advertising feature opening line: "It's been a slow burn for unified communications?"

7. Do Daily Star editors have any discretion over the volume of Big Brother coverage in the paper?

Caption Competition

12:26 UK time, Thursday, 31 January 2013

Caption Competition is now closed.

There is still no prize, except the traditional small quantity of kudos. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

A performer dressed as a robot at the toy fair in Germany

A performer dressed as robot stands at the international toy fair in Germany.

6. bossy202:
We call it.. the Mobot

5. PeeJayEll:
The Government's next solution to child-care - this can look after eight toddlers all at once.

4. Bellhouse Hartwell:
Yeah, I'm from Village Robot People, but I don't know where M, C and A have got to.

3. StraightOnTilMorning:
OK, OK, we'll leave your puny planet alone - just tell us how to get out of Westfield ...

2. Raven Clare:
I come to rule you all, and to eliminate those who dare to stand in my way ... er, could someone please press the button for "lower arms"?

1. wonkypops:
Optimus Primark.

Your Letters

17:05 UK time, Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Okay. Can someone please put me out of my misery and tell me what exactly is in that bun? It looks to me like a tiny, battered alien. Whatever it is, it's not very photogenic.
Sue, London

That wasn't a normal Tube ride. I mean, just watch the video and look at that lady sitting opposite (and chatting to) the Royal couple. You wouldn't go on the Tube on a January morning wearing only that, would you?
Johan van Slooten, Urk, The Netherlands

Unfortunately Chris (yesterday's letters) is correct - over-familiarity has long spread wider than websites. Round here our buses tell you "Sorry, I'm not in service".
Basil Long, Nottingham

This article skirts round the other reason politicians now love anecdotes - they're an excellent replacement for facts. If your new policy is failed or unpopular, simply leave out all the statistics and give one example of one person who liked it. Bingo - instant impression of success.
Edward Green, London, UK

For us older readers please can you make your link unambiguous. I clicked on the link to this story out of concern for the Deacon Blue front man.
MCK, Stevenage

If Daniel Tammet has set the European record for reciting all the digits of pi it was presumably not necessarily quite the right number of times each and perhaps (pace Eric Morecambe) not necessarily in the right order. There are only ten of them, after all.
Geraint Jones, Oxford

Paper Monitor

15:35 UK time, Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"The fireworks are over" reads the headline on the front page of the Independent . Mario Balotelli is heading for the departure lounge at Manchester airport, and there's little doubt that the papers will be a little less interesting now the Man City star's gone.

Whether it was throwing darts at the Man City youth team, setting off fireworks in his bathroom, or impulsively donating £1000 to a homeless man, there was never any knowing what story the Italian would generate next (as opposed to the football field, where the story was more predictable: score winning goal, then get sent off).

His long-suffering boss Roberto Mancini sums up the situation in the Sun:

I think he'll be missed by you and all your journalist friends. With Mario you can talk every day about him so it's a big problem for the press.

But among sports writers there's agreement that the Mario Show was reaching its natural end - Oliver Kay in the Times says there was "weariness at the soap opera surrounding his career", while the Express taps former blues manager Joe Royle for this quote:

He doesn't score enough goals and there are too many headlines off the pitch.

For the Mail, Ian Ladyman characterises his impact:

It is hard to think of many people in the history of English sport whose habits, personality and behaviour are more extreme even than the caricature of them developed by the media. George Best may fall into that category; John McEnroe also. Mario Balotelli does.

(Strictly speaking, John McEnroe's chief contribution to English sport has been sitting on a couch with Claire Balding - but Paper Monitor will let that pass).

Your Letters

17:01 UK time, Tuesday, 29 January 2013

I'm impressed to see Google showing some of North Korea at last - but you really should have shown the same area on OpenStreetMap to see just how far they still have to go!
Toby Speight, Scotland, UK

The rise of over-familiarity is nothing new, and not restricted to websites either. It always grates on me when I hear people in the service industry call me "mate". The word "mate" is a casual term for "friend". I always think "Hang on - I'm not your friend. You don't even know my name!"
Chris, London, UK

I got a rather formal 404 error message when I first tried to read this. Maybe "Oops! Sorry, mate" would have been more appropriate?
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne

Paper Monitor

09:45 UK time, Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Plans to deploy UK troops in Mali have been shoved aside on the front page of The Sun in favour of a fire at a small back-street pub. That has yet to happen.

This faintly sinister prediction of a "pub inferno" in which "Sunita dies" is (for the benefit of any confused foreign visitors) an example of a classic tabloid stand-by: Reporting events on Coronation Street with the same gravity and sense of drama as events in real life.

The headline "Rovers Reburn" will probably not go down as one of the Sun's finest, suggesting, incorrectly, that this will not be the first time "iconic Street boozer" the Rovers Return has been destroyed by fire.

Paper Monitor would have gone with Conflagration Street - relegated to a strap line on the inside pages.

But beating rivals to the big soap scoops still matters in Fleet Street - and there is no sign of the story in The Mirror, which goes with a real-life tragedy.

And a picture of Posh spice in a chip shop.

"Hollywood to a British chippy is a journey back to the real world for Victoria Beckham," opines the paper in its leader column.

"No wonder the bewildered Spice Mum looked as if she was in the wrong plaice."

Which is nice. Except they used the same fishy pun in the picture caption. Must fry harder.

Your Letters

17:08 UK time, Monday, 28 January 2013

So once again PM draws readers in to speculating as to "its" gender offering us 3 possibilities: male, female, hermaphrodite. I offer a 4th possibility: a team involving individuals of both (or even all 3) genders. The same individual cannot be responsible for output 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. I wonder when and where PM goes on holiday? Aqua Suliser, Bath

No, no, no Mr Kelly, it isn't the wet breeches that cause us ladies to swoon, it is the wet shirt! - la! I think I must go and have a calming possett to recover my composure! (or watch that scene on the dvd again....)
Di Wright, The Castleton, North Yorkshire

"Women look their oldest every Wednesday at 3.30pm." - er, is that straight after Loose Women?
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Ah nominative determination, you are alive and well this day.
Paul Lawrence, Cirencester

Paper Monitor

15:28 UK time, Monday, 28 January 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has already highlighted the work of Claire Cisotti of the Daily Mail once before.

Cisotti has one of the most enviable jobs over at Mail HQ - picture research. This is a paper and online operation that lives or dies by its pictures.

Particularly big picture spreads of celebs.

Particularly big picture spreads of celebs that look like each other.

Today's example is fine. Who really knew EastEnders' Kara Tointon looked a bit like Emma Stone?

Forget highbrow culture, this is eyebrow culture.

There is one rather good side-by-side - Anton du Beke and Rob Brydon. It really is uncanny.

Brydon could almost play the dancer in the biopic. There's only one obstacle.

There will be no biopic.

For the collator Cisotti there is one unfortunate cloud on the horizon. Today's spread is not as good as her last effort. An effort from only four days ago.

That set of pictures will never be surpassed. It is her Sistine Chapel - a towering achievement from which there can only be decline.

For it is a comparison of Hugh Bonneville and Brad Pitt.

Paper Monitor is minded to quote Ozymandias.

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