BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for April 7, 2013 - April 13, 2013

10 things we didn't know last week

18:15 UK time, Friday, 12 April 2013

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

1. Tears do not fall in space.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

2. Employees who install new web browsers on their computers perform better on average than those who use the default pre-installed browser that came with their machine.
More details (The Economist)

3. Methane eating micro-organisms carry out a deep clean of the oceans after an oil spill.
More details

4. Scientists are conducting searches for signs of extraterrestrial engineering.
More details (New Scientist)

5. The most popular place to hide valuables is a sock drawer.
More details (Daily Telegraph)

6. Fractions of virtual currency Bitcoin are known as satoshis.
More details (The Economist)

7. People in China hold "fake funerals" for themselves, so they can "enjoy" the day.
More details (Metro)

8. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak belonged to a group of hackers and hobbyists called the Homebrew Computer Club.
More details

9. Brains can be rendered transparent.
More details (Smithsonian Magazine)

10. Countries with the death penalty are now outnumbered by about five to one, by those who have abolished it.
More details (Guardian)

Your Letters

17:32 UK time, Friday, 12 April 2013

Re: labrador puppies tussling under one's jumper. Running does, however, have a synchronising effect on those puppies. The scientific question then becomes a problem of clockwise or anti-clockwise motion.
Candace, New Jersey, US

"Jam firm given permission to spread"? So what else are you supposed to do with it? Fire it off your spoon like a trebuchet? Sheesh!
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

I could point out that 50,000 tons of meat is equivalent to about two thirds of the London bus fleet but that doesn't help very much. 50,000 tons of meat is one dodgy quarter-pounder for every EU citizen.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Great. As if we weren't already being forced to hear people chatting on their mobiles in public too much. Now we're going to have to put up with mega-phones.
Dave, Truro

There IS a God!
Angus Gafraidh, London UK

Paper Monitor

11:14 UK time, Friday, 12 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If you're a woman, it may be worth reading the Times before getting dressed this morning.

The paper reports how Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, an academic at the University Hospital of Besancon in eastern France, has broken the post-war consensus.

Bras may not be necessary for holding up breasts. Or "norks" as Carol Midgley calls them in her commentary.

The Frenchman tracked 320 women's breasts over 15 years. I'll bet he did, a wag might mutter.

"Our first results validate the hypothesis that the bra is a false need," the professor says, adopting a most unpage 3 lexicon.

"Medically, physiologically and anatomically, the breast derives no benefit from being deprived of gravity. If it is, the tissues that support it are going to decline and the breast will progressively suffer damage."

Prof Rouillon is not one to shirk the detail. He notes that after a year of not wearing a bra, the nipples of women aged between 18 and 35 rose by 7mm on average.

Older and underweight women might need a bra but for the young it could be damaging, he argues in a technocratic idiom that comes naturally to a Francophone scientist.

"If a woman puts on a bra when her breasts first appear, the suspensory apparatus does not work properly and tissues of the bra distend."

It's left to Midgely to shoot his theory down with some anecdotal evidence of a less professorial tone. "Going without them gives you backache, a dowager's hump and the impression that two labrador puppies are tussling under your jumper."

Paper Monitor, who cannot confirm or deny the presence of a bra about its person, is keeping an open mind until Monsieur Rouillon's full research is published.

Your Letters

15:29 UK time, Thursday, 11 April 2013

Mark (Wednesday's Letters) - Fee can get her octopodes after the opponent plays to,top,op,po, pod,od,de,ode,odes or es. I'll get my tiles.
Steve, Southampton

I was out by one! When, on Monday, I saw the published letter on octopodes which said, and I quote, "octopuses (octopi?)", my first thought was "Ooh! That person really needs to know the correct plural of octopus! Somebody well-informed on such important matters had better write in and tell them. I'll do it." But I was busy, so I didn't. Instead, I mulled the matter over and came to the conclusion that you, Magazine Monitor, deliberately published that letter knowing that it would be extremely provoking to many of your readers, and that you would get a mailbag stuffed to the electronic gills with letters giving the proper plural form of the word. I then guessed that you would publish four of them.
P.S. Duncan's was my favourite.
James, Stockport

Dutch horse or Malian camel?
Martin, Luxembourg

How sad the Dutch didn't take warning - one of the companies behind the current meat scandal is in the town of Oss.
Rahere, Smithfield

The new Galaxy Mega phone appears to be displaying a weather forecast of a sunny 25 degrees for London on Tuesday April 30th. That must be almost as optimistic as the idea of getting a 6.3inch phone in your trouser pocket.
Simon, Cambridge

Caption Competition

12:42 UK time, Thursday, 11 April 2013

Comments (158)

It's the Caption Competition.

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

This week, a new look is unveiled.

new look unveiled

6. trisarahtops:
Catwalk face-off

5. StoneyMast:
We come, with our new look, in peace. Take me to your leader

4. George Huber:
Mannequin Skywalker

3. abz:
Terracotta Armani

2. Fi:
After 35 years, someone finally designed a collection to cover Morph's modesty...

1. SkarloeyLine:
Eighth new social class discovered - the faceless minority

Paper Monitor

11:48 UK time, Thursday, 11 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sometimes an incongruous detail is all you need for a great story. Like putting Madonna and Gary Neville in the same headline.

"Madonna's very rude...Gary Neville has equally dazzling stature but better manners", goes the Daily Mirror headline.

The story is badged "It's Official" suggesting there may be an element of tongue in cheek. As might the picture of Neville wearing an England tracksuit, captioned "Dazzler", on one side of the page with Madge in a Panama hat on the other.

The paper reports that the Malawian government made an "astonishing attack" on the US artiste after she visited her charity in the southern African country last week.

The reason for the spat remains vague. The paper reports that she was "left fuming after being snubbed by president Joyce Banda and having to queue with economy passengers at the airport as she flew out of the capital Lilongwe".

The government statement accuses her of wanting Malawi "to be for ever chained to the obligation of gratitude".

Other papers note though that the government diatribe follows the sacking of the president's sister as head of Raising Malawi, Madonna's charity there.

But the story's real joy is in the ill-assorted mix of celebs the government lists.

"It is worth making her aware that Malawi has hosted many international stars, including Chuck Norris, Bono, David James, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville who have never demanded state attention or decorum despite their equally dazzling stature."

Paper Monitor guesses that the Mirror subs had a little chat about which of the three footballers to pair with Madge in the headline.

Which would jar most incongruously next to the "Queen of Pop"? Somehow, ineffably, Gary Neville wins every time.

Your Letters

15:50 UK time, Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Duncan: "Pedants may wish to note that Octopussy wasn't a James Bond book title in itself"
No, but it was itself in a James Bond book title: "Octopussy and the Living Daylights", a book of (two) short stories by Ian Fleming published posthumously.
Goldfinger, London

Duncan (Tuesday's letters) - surely that should be "species' names"? I'll get my apostrophe.
David, Cardiff, South Wales

Fee - look for lots of space when your opponent plays "pod", and hope you have the right letters.
Mark, Banbury, Oxon

Really, it's their own fault for delaying this so long - had they done it earlier, there'd be less history to teach.
MK, Reading

Paper Monitor

15:08 UK time, Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Margaret Thatcher's ability to kick off what Mrs Merton used to call a heated debate, is apparent on today's front pages.

The Sun has commissioned a poll of Britain's favourite prime ministers. "Maggie wins again!" it cries. Margaret Thatcher pushes Churchill into second place, and Clement Attlee can only manage 5%, behind Tony Blair and Harold Wilson.

In the YouGov poll of 1,893 adults, poor old Ted Heath and David Cameron finish with nil points. Pitt the younger doesn't get a look in either although that's because the poll confines itself to post-war leaders.

The Times strikes a conciliatory note. "Royal respect as Queen leads Thatcher mourners." The paper says that whatever misgivings the Queen may have had about Thatcherism have been put to one side. "The conjecture that the Queen was fundamentally opposed to much of what her longest-serving prime minister stood for will be forgotten in the significance of the moment."

"Operation True Blue: Thatcher funeral in security clampdown," warns the Guardian about fears that the funeral service may foment civic unrest and terrorist attacks.

The ipaper risks not only spreading alarm and confusion but enraging pedants. "Britain at war over Thatcher funeral". Erm, tanks on the streets, pitched battles? Oh, not literally.

The Daily Mirror goes in hard but with better grammar. "The £10m goodbye. Why is Britain's most divisive Prime Minister getting a ceremonial funeral fit for a Queen?"

It may not come as a total surprise to find that the Daily Mail is angry. Very angry. "The flames of hatred: 30 years of Left wing loathing for Lady T explodes in sick celebrations of her death." (There's also a medium range ballistic missile launched from page 10 at the good people of this parish...)

The Daily Telegraph tries to calm things down. "No gushing hysteria, just quiet, dignified respect" is the headline over Michael Deacon's report from Finchley, the Iron Lady's constituency for 33 years. A local recalls how she had a soft spot for a bar called Cheers.

"She would pop in and have a drink. Denis would have gin and tonic and I think she would have a glass of wine...She was very approachable and friendly." It's cosy and sepia tinted, like the credits of Coronation Street relocated to prosperous middle class suburbia.

But amidst all the gentle colour, the writer can't resist one pot shot at those celebrating Thatcher's death. "For those who insist that Left-wing ideology is motivated above all by compassion for others, this must be a difficult week." Ouch!

Which leaves one paper not doing Thatcher on its front page. Come in Daily Express, your taste for bathos knows no bounds. (Yes, even the Daily Star splashes on the funeral costs). "Gel to wipe out arthritic pain" runs the headline.

And on that bombshell...

Your Letters

15:12 UK time, Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Kat (Monday's letters) the pedants' plural for the octopus is 'octopodes' since the word is of Ancient Greek rather than Latin origin - this is why the pedants' word for 'Latin name' for a species is 'scientific name', since not all species names are in Latin. For regular folk ˜octopuses" are perfectly acceptable; this also avoids invoking James Bond film titles. Pedants may wish to note that Octopussy wasn't a James Bond book title in itself... I could go on; the world of the pedant is a Mandelbrotian nightmare. I'll get my anorak.
Duncan, Hurstpierpoint

Kat, (Monday's letters)
modern dictionaries say 'octopuses' or 'octopi' are acceptable, but marine biologists prefer 'octopodes'. Although quite how you could make something of that in Scrabble, I have no idea...
Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

Re: Iron Lady's passing. Handbags at half mast today.
Candace, New Jersey, US

To Rob Falconer (Monday's letters), I don't know why you're worrying about that rabbit eating 50 quids worth of lettuce and carrots or whatever. He'll still have three quid left over for frivolities such as visiting the Bunny Club.
Emigrant, Marseille, France

Kat, actually it's octopodes as the root word is Greek (eight-footed) not Latin. Yours in Pedantry.
Heather Simmons, Champaign, Illinois, USA

I'm aware that Lady Thatcher is dead, but the Magazine Monitor is more important.
Rob Mimpriss, Bangor, Wales

Oh, poor PM. I recommend a nice cup of hot cocoa, some biscuits, and a good thoughtless movie on the telly. Maybe an early bedtime, too.
Dragon, Concord, Calif, US

Paper Monitor

09:17 UK time, Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Never let it be said that "serious" newspapers are afraid to carry images of topless women when there's a "serious" reason for doing so.

The subject? International politics. Well, a visit to a trade fair in Hanover by Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

The two leaders are pictured as they are ambushed by protesters from the feminist group Femen, which has staged demonstrations on issues including Russia's detention of punk band Pussy Riot.

While Mrs Merkel's face gives little away as she surveys the slogans daubed on the naked torsos before her, Mr Putin appears frozen to the spot - somewhat goggle-eyed and apparently transfixed by the messages conveyed.

"There's no doubt Vladimir Putin noticed the protester who got within a few feet of him yesterday," says the Daily Mail.

For the Guardian the demonstration is a test of new rules which threaten media outlets for printing swear words - such as those it handily pictures painted on the front of one protester.

The Telegraph describes Mr Putin as "bemused-looking", adding that he later suggested "you should undress in other places, such as on nudist beaches".

A stickler for detail, it also points out that five women were arrested - two Germans aged 18 and 22, one Russian aged 33 and two Ukrainians aged 24 and 26.

Meanwhile, The Times notes the advice given by a "grinning" Mr Putin to the protesters: "I think it is better to be dressed if one wants to discuss political matters."

There is of course space in the other papers to carry the story, although the weighty issues highlighted by the protest are less apparent.

"I liked it," is the quote from Mr Putin in the Daily Star, Daily Express, Daily Mirror...

Your Letters

18:45 UK time, Monday, 8 April 2013

About loneliness, I'm very glad I live in these modern times. My family are spread across the globe. Only a few decades ago that would have meant a letter every few months and perhaps never seeing them again. Thanks to Skype, my 2 year old daughter knows her grandparents despite only meeting them 4 or 5 times in her life
Aine, Stevenage

The fact that "female octopuses stretch further to reach for food" (10 Things) needs some qualification. Is it that females reach further than males? Or perhaps that female octopuses (octopi?) reach further than, say, female T-Rexes? Or even that they reach further for food than they do for... rocks? I simply must know!
Kat, Ipswich

Head of Online Services - Mr Webb.
Basil Long, Nottingham

"It costs £50 a week to feed a 23kg rabbit - the world's largest." I just hope he's not on benefits then.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Uh oh, do we need to defrost Sly?...
Jez, London

Paper Monitor

18:08 UK time, Monday, 8 April 2013

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor is unwell today. Not sick per se. Nor indeed unwell in the Jeffrey Bernard sense of alcohol-induced unavailability.

Just not able to write anything.

Paper Monitor, had it not been unwell, might have written about the lovely picture of a white lion on page three of the Daily Mail. Here it is.

Or indeed about dogs in £4,000 outfits. Made of ostrich feathers. And Harris tweed. Here it is.

Probably a load of other serious stuff too. Probably.

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