BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for March 17, 2013 - March 23, 2013

10 things we didn't know last week

16:51 UK time, Friday, 22 March 2013

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

1. American literature has become more emotional and British books less so.
More details (Public Library of Science ONE)

2. Jaffa cakes are MPs' favourite tea-time snack.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

3. Russian bears get addicted to aviation fuel.
More details (Daily Mirror)

4. South Korean media often refer to national politicians using only their initials.
More details (Yonhap News Agency)

5. Despite huge variations in appearance, there is only one species of giant squid.
More details

6. Noam Chomsky's tipple is gin and tonic.
More details (Financial Times)

7. Relative to population size, Malta receives the most asylum applications.
More details (Economist)

8. Twitter's logo used to be a garish green.
More details (Twitter)

9. Locust is the only insect considered kosher.
More details

10. Sydney Harbour ferry "the Anne Sergeant" is named after a netball coach.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

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

Your Letters

16:17 UK time, Friday, 22 March 2013

Am I the only one to have a mental image of the leader of an infinite number of monkeys at typewriters when hearing the Archbishop of Canterbury described as the head cleric and primate of the Church of England?
Ralph, Cumbria

Which is best - the 1980s or today? There's only one way to find out...FIGHT!
Josie, Manchester

No Spring and NO LETTERS. Not happy! Thanks for listening.
Heather Simmons, Champaign, IL, US

From the Twitter birthday facts: "Every day 400 million tweets are sent every day". Have you recently opened the BBC Department of Redundancy Department, or were you just trying to use up all 140 characters?
Adam Shaw, Sussex

7/7 on the news quiz, on top of a great week for me. Just wanted to share and celebrate!
Graham, Hayle, Cornwall

Caption Competition

13:25 UK time, Friday, 22 March 2013

Comments (104)

Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

This week, runners in fancy dress costumes mark the one-month countdown to the London marathon. Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. throbgusset:


5. Maggiemaynotbe:

Actually mate, you're in the wrong place. Wrynose Pass is in the Lake District.

4. RampagingRabbit:

Chicken resumes training after Egg came first.

3. roguesir:

Fathers for Justice tone up for their sports day.

2. Candace9839:

You are currently fifth in line. Your wait time is approximately 22 hours...

1. wonkypops:

I'll never understand these Archbishop enthronement rituals.

Paper Monitor

10:37 UK time, Friday, 22 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Some stories hang around longer than others. Cold weather for example.

The front page of the Daily Express Weather© (expl: climatic conditions so extreme they break some sort of standing record or other) proclaims:

36 hours of snow chaos on the way

A prediction it has no doubt made before.

Similar jeremiads abound elsewhere:

  • "White hell weekend" - in the Daily Mirror
  • a picture of a chilly-looking dog in a hoodie in the Daily Star

Oh, and we're about to run out of gas, according to more than one paper. Please make it go away.

We haven't yet got to that stage with the Budget, although it feels as if the papers could be settling in for a long spell.

The Daily Mail can barely control its glee at the sight (or sound) of a politician getting a kicking on a radio phone-in - in this case, Nick Clegg being put on the spot over child care credits.

The Sun proclaims George Osborne the "Chancer of the Exchequer" and accuses him of having "cooked the UK books to make UK growth figures look marginally less appalling", but says:

It's not Pastygate mark II

Time will tell if the Budget stories are hanging around in a week's time. Meanwhile The Times has a map of the cosmos on page 15, about which it says:

This is the oldest light in the universe and has travelled billions of years to reach us after first being imprinted in the sky only 380,000 years after the Big Bang.

Which really is a long time. About the last time Paper Monitor saw decent weather, in fact.

Your Letters

11:21 UK time, Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pretty disappointed that this wasn't about Richard Hammond...
Phil, Oxford

Jay, Oz, aka craggy island, in Tuesday's letters: do you practice your exercises in front of the living room window that has a small black mark at lip height?
Heather, Portsmouth

Imagine how excited I was when I read "Fuel duty cancelled by Chancellor" and thought he'd knocked off the whole 57.95p per litre...
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

No Spring and NO LETTERS. Not happy! Thanks for listening.
Heather Simmons, Champaign, IL USA

Paper Monitor

08:58 UK time, Thursday, 21 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"Growth! Forecast now at a whopping 0.6%"; "Debt! Stands at a mere £1,152,654,000,000" cheers The Sun, following George Osborne's Budget.

While other papers use page after page to examine the chancellor's decisions, The Sun confidently bullet points the good news on its front page.

Wages are down just £630 - a "smidgeon", it says. Recovery is "around the corner" - in 2018. And ("cheers!") there's only 10p on the price of a bottle of wine.

But wait a minute, could this all be a slightly tongue in cheek?

Ah, a closer read draws the eye to the banner: "Have a proper gander at this."

And there across the bottom of the page is the explanation.

"Budget coverage as approved by the Ministry of Truth."

Cast your mind back a couple of days and you may remember what this is about - The Sun's annoyance at plans for a new independent press regulator, following the phone-hacking scandal.

As the paper explained at the time, it reminds it of something dreamt up by another George - Orwell this time - in his novel 1984.

It detailed a nightmare future, where newspaper articles are rewritten in accordance with the ruling party's line - under the instruction of the aforementioned Ministry of Truth.

The inside pages of The Sun - including "Budget 2013: Things can only get bleaker" - suggest that Big Brother hasn't yet seized complete control of the paper.

But if this is a theme that the paper takes to, future editions could prove interesting.

Paper Monitor

10:35 UK time, Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Remember that scene in the film Being John Malkovich where everyone has the head of the titular actor, and all anyone says is "Malkovich", over and over? Well, there's a touch of Being George Osborne about this morning's papers.

This is partly down to the most striking - and disturbing - photo of the day, of a phalanx of George Osbornes marching through London together. The "chancellors" were anti-poverty campaigners sporting latex "George Osborne" heads, but it made Paper Monitor look at all the other pictures of the Chancellor in a different, more surreal light.

Osborne's head in a pint of beer on the front page of The Sun.

Osborne's smiling face on the front of the Daily Mirror.

After a while one begins to see the chancellor where he shouldn't be - as a mirage at the Pope's inaugural Mass, with the Duchess of Cambridge on her royal rounds...

Time for a lie down - there'll be less of the chancellor's face around in Thursday's papers.

Oh. Hang on.

Your Letters

17:52 UK time, Tuesday, 19 March 2013

"How easy is it to accidentally do a Nazi salute?" Just ask anybody trying to get something off the top shelf at a supermarket.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Scary thought from this article. Having recently had a bilateral mastectomy, my therapist has given me a series of exercises which include raising my arms one at a time with the palm down, then with the palm up, holding the stretch as high as I can go for 20 seconds. As I can only get about 3/4 of the way to vertical so far, if anybody spots me exercising, will I be arrested for performing a Nazi salute?
Jay, Oz

I was intrigued by the story of Sweden's night nurseries for small children. One parent states that she gets a lot back in return for her high taxes. But isn't there a danger that the government needs parents of small children to go to work, to pay the high taxes to fund the nurseries for small children whose parents go to work... and so on.
Clare, Aylesbury UK

I'm sure I won't be the only one, but is this Holly from Red Dwarf?
MCK, Stevenage

So not only does the whole idea look like Holly, the face and voice comes from someone called Lister. I wonder what the influence was for this technology...?
MK, Reading

Tim Evans, your letter rather "begs the question" of whether it is OK to "beg to differ"?
Emma, Jersey

Tim - it is not that difficult to explain. "Begging the question" refers to the logical fallacy of assuming in the proof that which was to be proven. So for instance "God exists because it says so in the bible which is the infallible word of God" would be to beg the question. The wrong usage is in the sense of requiring the question to be asked.
Dave, Greenford, UK

Paper Monitor

12:29 UK time, Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The Leveson press regulation deal thrashed out by the three main political parties has clearly caused a stir.

Amid the "fury", "chaos" and "shambles", Paper Monitor has been intrigued by the way the newspaper industry has discussed the vehement response from... well, the newspaper industry.

Almost every paper reports on "the newspapers" as if you're reading the article on a napkin, with most skirting around their own position as if it doesn't affect them.

"Papers bridle at 'historic' deal on press", states the Guardian.

The Times says the deal "alarms newspapers". And despite no tone of alarm, they do at least admit to being one of those concerned.

Perhaps the cannier angle is to outsource the sense of alarm and outrage.

For the Sun it's ex-cabinet minister Peter Lilley, quoting him with a "Ministry of Truth" splash across the front page, in reference to George Orwell's dystopian 1984.

The Daily Telegraph instead goes transatlantic to display its opinion-by-proxy. "British press laws are 'just crazy', say shocked Americans".

The Daily Mail bucks the trend somewhat, starting off with a vague "fears grow" before revealing the "fiendishly complex new system".

Perhaps the muted response is down to the fact that a number of national newspapers are seeking legal advice over whether to co-operate with the new press watchdog.

Paper Monitor wonders whether they'll be taking a different tack tomorrow.

Your Letters

16:48 UK time, Monday, 18 March 2013

"Big fish catches mean smaller fish" - Was it just me that was confused at the thought of a giant piscine predator finally polishing off a cruel little rival?
Jenni, Edinburgh, Scotland

"Cruise left me feeling sea sick for five years". Funny, Tom does that to me as well.
Peter, Pershore, Worcs.

"Should US elections be more like the papal conclave?" You mean over and done with in two weeks, rather than two years? Definitely.

Do I win a prize for being the hundredth person to pretend to be surprised that "Culture shock for Amazon chief's son who left rainforest for New York" isn't about Jeff Bezos' son?
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

As Monday must be a slow letters day, can I take this opportunity to mourn the demise of "and"? Go figure. Come see. Go visit. It really, really annoys me. Just wanted to get it off my chest. Have a lovely rest of the week.
Sue, London

"Why in Ikea do you have to do a loop of the whole shop rather than being able to get straight to the bit you actually want?" Actually, there are little short-cuts you can take, but you have to know exactly where they are... a bit like power pills in a computer game.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Well done to MJ Simpson for resisting the temptation to deploy the horrifyingly misused phrase "begs the question". I hear questions supposedly being begged all over the place these days... even on the BBC. I really wish I could find a simple way of explaining how it is wrong (rather than just knowing that it is). If only I knew of some like-minded individuals with a penchant for grammatical accuracy.
Tim Evans, Hanwell, UK

Paper Monitor

12:23 UK time, Monday, 18 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

A rare insight into relations between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - and their views on imminent parenthood - is seized upon by many of today's papers.

The moment? Kate, who is five months pregnant, got her heel stuck in a drain while attending a St Patrick's Day parade in Aldershot.

The Sun and Metro both call the princess "Catherine the Grate", while the Daily Mail points out that she had a "grate escape".

The Daily Express misses out somewhat, opting for "Oops! Duchess gets heel stuck".
All note the gallant role played by the future king who, rather than laugh at his wife and walk off, helped her out. "William's hand steadied her in the blink of an eye," says the Daily Mail.

The Royal outing also offers the chance to give readers an update on the Royal baby.
Is she excited to have her first child? "Very." Do they have any names yet? "No."

But can we expect a baby prince, or a baby princess?

For the answer, all turn to a guardsman who shared a few words with the Duchess of Cambridge.

"I asked her: 'Do you know if it's a girl or a boy?' She said: 'Not yet'."

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