BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for March 24, 2013 - March 30, 2013

10 things we didn't know last week

13:40 UK time, Friday, 29 March 2013

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

1. "Rose-water novel" is the French term for Mills and Boon-style books.
More details (The Times)

2. Teenagers who stay up late tend to be more intelligent than their early-to-bed peers.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

3. Songs stuck in your head can be shifted by solving an anagram.
More details (Daily Mail)

4. South Africa was included in the BRICS as it made for a better acronym than Nigeria.
More details (Economist)

5. You can pay for a front row seat in the US Supreme Court.
More details (New York Times)

6. Open plan offices stem from the idea of "Burolandschaft", meaning office landscaping.
More details

7. Female Amazonian turtles are the only turtles to care for their young.
More details (New Scientist)

8. Almost half the French - 43% - drink mineral water with meals.
More details

9. The last Etonian to have a Number One hit in the UK was Humphrey Lyttleton.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

10. At a Swedish dinner party you should never fold your napkin and put it on the table before the hostess has done so.
More details (The Local)

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

Caption Competition

13:30 UK time, Friday, 29 March 2013

Comments (31)

Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

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

Koala cuddles cuddly koala toy

This week, a young koala sits on the back of a toy koala while being weighed at a zoo in Duisburg, Germany.

Thanks to all who had a go. A shorter window to enter meant fewer entries this week. So there are only two winners. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

2. Raven Clare:

Even toy koalas need koala bear backpacks.

1. Gurney Nutting:

Once again, David Attenborough comes under fire regarding the authenticity of his programme on koalas mating.

Your Letters

12:07 UK time, Friday, 29 March 2013

"Random stat - 288 questions fielded by mothers per day". I asked my mother how many questions she was asked each day and she replied, "that's 289 now".
Rob, France

Just a final point on the flapjack flap. What will the school do when the children realise that they can snap the flapjack in half diagonally to make not one, but two triangular flapjacks?
Basil, Nottingham

Rich (Wednesday's Letters), if you tessellate the flapjacks, then what will the preparers have as their own pick-me-up snacks?
Dragon, California, US

Regarding the Daily Mirror article on the lamb curry containing no lamb, but potentially containing dog or cat, was I the only one to find the following comment amusing?
"One expert said: 'It was quite amazing to find something with no stray ingredients'."
Oh dear...
Fiona, Gloucestershire

Graham (Wednesday's letters), forget about lost keys, I am more concerned that someone has lost the plot.
Henri, Sidcup

Paper Monitor

09:04 UK time, Friday, 29 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It is a "culinary event - ranking somewhere between the publication of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management and Delia Smith's first appearance on television", says The Times.

"A brisk and, at times, moving exhortation to the kind of stick-in-the-mud whose idea of a perfect Friday night is six pints and a curry", ventures The Guardian.

Unable to find the words to describe this event itself, The Daily Telegraph turns to Twitter user Brian Williams who asks: "Jesus wept! She gets paid for writing this tripe?"

Step forward Pippa Middleton, sister of the more famous Princess Kate, who has a new column in Waitrose Kitchen magazine and is at the centre of all this excitement.

Her long journey to food writer started at the University of Edinburgh, we learn.
Like most students, she enjoyed nothing more than spending her time making sushi in front of the rugby on TV.

It's a delight that she's keen to share with the rest of us. Just remember - keep the rice layer thin and be generous with the filling.

Anyway, lest there be any confusion as to when to put these new skills to the test, the papers direct us to the title of her column - "Friday Night Feasts". Ah.

"Fridays, of course, hold the promise of the weekend," points out Pippa, helpfully adding that they are a safe distance from Sunday's "pre-Monday melancholy".

Yet "Ms Middleton's idea of a relaxed evening may, however, differ from those of her readers," suggests The Times.

After making your sushi rolls, Vietnamese spring rolls, hoisin duck rolls and ginger mojitos, it's time to think about the table.

Pippa suggests decorating with cherry blossoms, roses, orchids, anemones, or bundles of exotic fruit, The Times says. And don't forget the paper lanterns and floating candles.

To Paper Monitor this all sounds like an exhortation to shake off the end of the week slough and make the most of life. But where can we find out more from the author of Celebrate?

The Telegraph comes to the rescue: "The book was mocked for its banal descriptions of how to play conkers and provide ice at parties and even spawned its own Twitter feed of equally vacuous advice."

Time to find out more.

Paper Monitor

10:51 UK time, Thursday, 28 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Is it because we're approaching Easter? The weather? Or something else?

But there seems to be a glut of animal stories, making the papers resemble a Noah's Ark of news.

It's not all nice and cuddly. "Think YOU feel chilly? Britain's animals are freezing to death" announces the Mail. And we'll gloss over the dying pigeons.

The Times has reindeer and cats. The reindeer look splendid as they block most of a snowy road in the Cairngorms.

Pride of place on page 5 goes to Yollo the cat.

"£50 CatNav reveals all about tabby's night on the tiles." This is the story of David Evans from Marlborough in Wiltshire, whose cat was disappearing every night and putting on enough weight to suggest he was a regular at Chicken Cottage.

To solve the mystery Evans created "an ultra-light GPS" that he fixed to Yollo's collar. It means he can now track his moggy's every move. So the answer of the weight riddle is..?

"Now I know he travels a couple of miles each day, exactly where he goes every night and who's feeding him," Evans says. Rather infuriatingly he doesn't point the finger at Mrs Miggins at number 39 leaving out a bowl of milk or "the nice man in the Post Office" for putting out sausages.

The Daily Express goes with dogs.

A man's best friend costs its owner £13,000 in treats and demands walks of 550 miles a year we learn.

But to rework Mark Twain, there are lies, damned lies and survey stories - yes it's a poll for an anti-flea product. Paper Monitor's favourite nebulous stat is the one saying that owners receive "almost 50,000 soppy licks" during a dog's lifetime.

The Daily Telegraph has a picture story recording an unlikely animal fight.

"Camel that got the hump. Rhino flees," runs the headline. "Three-ton rhinoceros or not, this interloper was sent packing by a male Bactrian camel when it came too close to its young at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire."

Finally, worst animal pun of the day goes to the Daily Mirror. "Lamb pussanda?" runs the headline over a piece about a "lamb" curry that contained not a single trace of lamb.

DNA tests were run ruling out beef, chicken, pork, goat, horse...and even human flesh. "Eventually they were left with the grim possibility that the unidentified ingredient could be dog or cat meat."

Erm, Paper Monitor may be missing something. But isn't human flesh a little more grim than even cat? Paws for thought. Sorry.

Your Letters

13:40 UK time, Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Kay (Your Letters, Tuesday), you do not have to suffer. Using your iPhone, browse to the Monitor page on the interweb. Then select the icon at the bottom of the screen that looks like an arrow escaping from a box. Tap on the option to "Add to Home Screen". Magazine Monitor will then appear as if it were an App. I'll get my protective case.
Jim, Crowborough

Milliband to join International Rescue? Thunderbirds are go!
Jo Penn, Lichfield

On the theme of flapjackery topology, Fee and Basil make good cases for fewer corners. However, there is an economic constraint in that the chosen shape ought to tesselate in the plane for maximum unit yield. I submit hexagons, which are the closest approximation to a circle that will neatly fit.
Rich, Titchfield Common, UK

"Cyprus making 'superhuman' effort to reopen banks by Thursday". What, have the door hinges jammed or has someone lost the keys?
Graham, Hayle, Cornwall

There was only one profession considered "most wanted" in Greece.
No surprise as to which one...
John, Glasgow

Sorry, Rob (Tuesday's letters) but along with people like Bob Hope (born in Eltham, London in 1903), Alfred Hitchcock (Leytonstone, 1899) and Boris Karloff (Honor Oak, 1887) the vast majority of fans would consider Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin to be American as almost all of their significant work was done after they landed on those shores. If it is any comfort it works the other way around - famous 'Australian' actors Nicole Kidman and Mel Gibson are both closet Americans.
ANGUS GAFRAIDH, London UK

Paper Monitor

13:38 UK time, Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The news that former Foreign Secretary David Miliband is to quit politics to run a charity in the US has been met with a flurry of puns and photo opportunities from the papers.

"Brothers in arms go their own ways to heal bruises," is the Times's take, next to a photo of David with brother Ed - hugging of course - just after the younger sibling won the Labour leadership back in 2010.

There's also a picture of "Banana man". That's David waving a banana back in 2008. It's "the photo that dogged Miliband ever after", the paper says.

Of course the Times isn't the only paper to bring that photo back from the archives.

The Daily Mail also splashes it across its pages.

Meanwhile the Daily Mirror - which broke the news - opts for "Bye-bye election" and "Bro Blow". Cue more photos of the siblings standing shoulder to shoulder at the leadership race.

Its online version opts for a simple "Oh brother".

Finally the Independent says David's departure sees the end of the Miliband "soap opera".

But Paper Monitor can't help but wonder if there'll be another chapter.

Your Letters

16:16 UK time, Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Telegraphing your punches the easy way. This gang actually named their fraudulent film "A Landscape of Lies"? I wonder, would anyone like to put a few quid into my new film "Buy That Nice Dr Walker A Lamborghini"?
Dr Reece Walker , London UK

Matt Lucas "said he had always been 'a huge fan of the visual comedy of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and of course, our very own Mr Bean'." Er, sorry, but are Chaplin and Laurel no longer regarded as British?
Rob Falconer, Pernes-les-Fontaines, France

Hollywood director takes pity on starving boffins?
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, UK

May just say that this article is probably the most brilliant, inspiring and wonderful piece of journalism ever. Well they do say philately will get you everywhere.
James, Great Dunmow

The conditional in "31% of people would pray for world peace" implies that they're not actually doing it. I hereby rewrite today's random stat as, "Humanity doomed: 31% of people believe they could reduce death and suffering at the cost of literally nothing but a few minutes of their time, at any convenient moment, but are too selfish and lazy even to do that."
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

We could take Fee's argument full circle and suggest that only sperical flapjacks be allowed - thereby no edges or corners at all. Afterall, no schoolchild has ever been injured by a ball being thrown or kicked in their face.
Basil Long, Nottingham

Sigh... the only problem with having an iPhone and the BBC News app, is that it doesn't include the Magazine Monitor. I so rarely use a computer now I never get to read the letters... I miss you MM - please get the app developers working...
Kay, London

Paper Monitor

16:03 UK time, Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

We're running late today so it's all about rhetorical questions. Sound familiar?

The Daily Telegraph returns to Carol Vorderman, who can't go more than a week without this kind of treatment. "She broke her nose after a fall in high shoes. So is she a fashion victim or free spirit?"

The Daily Mail opts for Boris and his interviewer Eddie Mair across two inside pages. The London Mayor is pictured gritting his teeth on a bike: "So what IS the truth about those accusations?"

The Sun goes big on benefit claimant Sharon Minkin. "Exclusive: Is this most well-off dole claimant?" it asks over a huge photo of the aforementioned Minkin in her "plush" St Albans home.

Is that all for today at Paper Monitor towers? 'Fraid so folks. Back tomorrow with renewed vim and vigour.

Your Letters

15:30 UK time, Monday, 25 March 2013

FLAPJACK WHACK RAP CLAPTRAP. Obvious enough. A well-known chef struck out at an underling for producing substandard pancakes. He was reprimanded by his employees. The Sun regards the reprimand as "Political Correctness Gone Mad". Simples.
Keith Edkins, Cambridge

I can only assume the story behind the Sun headline is a scathing review of a song about the delicious oat-based treat performed by a hip-hop artist (or "rapper" as I believe the kids would say).
James Cram, St Albans, UK

Quite simple. A triangular piece of flapjack has an aerodynamic shape that enables it to be spun as a ballistic missile whereas a square piece of flapjack does not fly through the air so well. My contention is that irrespective of the shape it is the shore hardness of the material; soft flapjack may cause bruising, well baked crunchy flapjack is far more effective in the ability to maim and potentially kill.
Nic Holc-thompson, Havant Hampshire

I must confess I don't really understand why the flapjacks must now be square or rectangular. Surely that means there are now four pointy corners which may gouge out a child's eye, rather than just three on a triangular piece? Anyone?
HB, Birmingham, UK

If it is truly more effective to change the shape than to change the culture of poor behaviour at the school, wouldn't a circle be less dangerous than a square?
Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

I was a little disturbed to find that homeopathy was getting funding from the NHS. But I've thought of a solution - with every £20 note give them a million blank pieces of paper. Shouldn't be too expensive - if homeopathy works...
Andrew, Malvern, UK

I counted eight clauses in one sentence (2nd para. of main text), which, you know, I think, anyway, is probably, in fact definitely, too many - but perhaps others disagree, yes?
Mike, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Meanwhile, in actual news...
Sue, London

Re: Kit-Kat-Gate recall,since when has 48g been "chunky"?... Isn't it about time Nestle renamed it "Not As Big As It Used To Be Bar"?
Neil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Two men in white robes are having a meeting at Castel Gandolfo? Oh, news, sometimes you just make it far too easy.
Christian Cook, Street, UK

Phew I thought for a moment my lost credit card had turned up in a snowdrift.
Malcolm, Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom

Was this somewhere near the hamster?
Colin Edwards, Exeter, UK

If the BBC wanted to leave Television Centre and Shepherds Bush so badly, they're certainly making a big fuss of the place, now it's finished. Is it the biggest mistake they've ever made?
Frances Smith, Brentford, Middlesex

Paper Monitor

11:45 UK time, Monday, 25 March 2013

Comments (1)

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

A Monday Challenge for you. Deduce, if you can, the story behind the Sun's front page headline.

Ready? Here it is:

"FLAPJACK WHACK RAP CLAPTRAP"

Send your suggestions using the "Send us a letter" comments form on the right.

No cheating by clicking on this link to the Sun story in question. That would spoil the fun. So on no circumstances, if you are entering this no-prizes competition, are you to click on this link.

It certainly has Paper Monitor so deliciously baffled that your humble correspondent has decided not to read it for fear of being disappointed.

Meanwhile, the front page of the Daily Express Weather© has bad news for spring-watchers hoping that Easter will at last mark an end to what has felt like a looooong, cold winter.

"COLDEST EASTER EVER -15C Arctic weather to last a week"

MINUS 15!?!?!?!

In small print below the headline, an explanation:

"... wind chill could make it feel like -15C or colder across swathes of the country"

Ah. Paper Monitor knows all about wind chill thanks to its Magazine colleague Who, What, Why.

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