[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the all-on-one-page home for some of our most popular features, including the Caption Comp, 10 Things, and your letters. The Monitor is updated every weekday, with new stuff at the top.


10 conkers by Bryce Cooke

Snippets harvested from the week's news, chopped, sliced and diced for your weekend convenience.

1. The phrase "in the pink" comes from fox hunting. Pink is the way the hunt has traditionally described the colour of its red jackets, though there is also a school of thought that believes it originates with clothier Thomas Pink, who made jackets for hunters.
Full story

2. Garden gnomes were introduced to the UK by Sir Charles Isham. After their arrival from Nuremberg, the keen gardener equipped them with spades and arranged them in his rockery, as if they were mining. Sir Charles (1819-1903) is included in the new 60 volume Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

3. The flatulence of sheep, cattle and other farm animals accounts for 25% of world methane emissions. Australian scientists are working on injections to reduce the creatures' production of one of the worst greenhouse gases, the New Scientist reports.

4. There are 320,000 lampposts in New York, and this fall, the city will choose a standard design for them. Right now, there are more than 40 different designs, but the new design will give the city a sense of "uniformity."

5. There are now more different kinds of cheese made in the UK than France, thanks to new blends being devised, the British Cheese Board says.

6. Although it's nearly 24 years since Jimmy Carter was US president, he still receives about 4,000 letters a month.

7. Pink Lady is not an apple variety but the world's first branded apple, derived from the Cripps Pink variety. As such they must meet strict criteria. At least 40% of a Pink Lady's surface must be covered in the characteristic pink blush.

8. Britain has more than twice as many managers (12%-14%) as France or Germany (5%-6%) due to the trend in "up-titling" - inflating an employee's job title in lieu of a pay rise. For example, train guards are now often called train managers.

9. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there have been 643 smuggling incidents that include thefts and seizures of nuclear and other radioactive material.
Full story

10. Cancers produce certain odours, which dogs have been scientifically proven to have the ability to smell.
Full story

If you spot anything that should be included next week, use the form below to tell us about it..

Your e-mail address

Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.


Your challenge should you choose to accept it...

Roadsigns suggested by cabbies to Jamjar Cars
4x4s. Car stereos so loud that other drivers feel their cars vibrating. Buses unaccountably bending in the middle. Rickshaws. In the UK.

These are just some of the stresses of modern life felt by cabbies, according to a survey by car sales company Jamjar, which has drawn up its own suggested roadsigns to reflect these hurdles of modern life.

So other suggestions, please. Either in words (using the form below) or, even better, in spiffy GIF or JPG format (by e-mail to the.magazine@bbc.co.uk, with subject line Friday Challenge).

Your suggestions so far:

Beware Traffic wardens at large
Nigel Greensitt, Salford

Not for the road but the office - a triangular warning sign with the LBQ logo indicating not much work gets done.
David, UK

How will we cope? We needed some warning!
Martin, Harlow

People who block yellow boxes/pedestrian crossings/jump red lights. Grrrr
Julie, London, UK

My sign says, 'warning, polluting traffic fumes'
Becky Sinclair

How about '2 hours from here' signs in traffic jams, like they have in the queues at theme parks
Brian Saxby, Gateshead, UK

Kieran Boyle, Oxford

(Entries now closed)


You report that: "Scientists hope that 'playing' a tiny guitar string, the smallest ever created, will help unravel some of the secrets of the molecular world." (Smallest 'guitar string' to weigh atoms, 22 September. Any suggestions what they will be playing, after Blondie's Atomic, of course.

Re: How healthy living 'extends life' article 22 September, in which you say: " Now experts say adopting four simple lifestyle measures more than halves an elderly person's risk of dying. " Wonderful - a better than 50% chance of living forever !
James Langridge

Re The war against hats, 22 September. Other readers might like to know that in my experience if a baseball cap worn by a yob has a tick on it, this does not necessarily mean he's got one right. Also it seems that some caps are being sold without the all important "peak to the front" instructions.
Richard Wilkinson
Leighton Buzzard

I tried this odd quiz every day
While papers piled high in my tray
But it's gone now, so what shall I do?
Waiting for the return of the LBQ.
Hang on, there's some gold in the grey!
I've discovered thelbq.co.uk.
Chris Ford, Bristol, UK

Re: Britney's marriage was 'a hoax', 23 September. Do we really care?
Ann C
Orpington, UK

I read with interest your story Why we want to believe psychics, 23 September. I used to work in an office where many of my colleagues used to regularly go to a local psychic. They used to ring her to tell her they wanted to arrange a reading.
Anon, UK


It's time again for The Magazine's caption competition. This week conference season is truly upon us: but what was the response of these delegates at the Scottish National Party's annual get-together?

6. Robin, UK
The slumber party?

5. Vas Petrou, UK
"I told that Spacey bloke. I said: 'Ban popcorn and sweets and you'll be sorry.' Of course, he didn't listen to me. I mean I'm just an ordinary bloke but I know the audience, see. 'You've got to woo 'em,' I said. Well I might as well have talked to meself. Bloomin' yank comes over to tell us about theatre! Don't get me started."

4. Charlie Wood, Scotland
Some loyal fans simply wouldn't accept that Cat Stevens wasn't going to make the gig.

3. Keith Towns, Waltham Abbey
The Jim Bowen lookalike party was not all that it had been cracked up to be.

2. Keith, UK
The media frenzy at yet another Britney Spears wedding.

1. John Elliott, England
Go back to your constituencies and prepare your cocoa.


Ceefax, our sister publication, celebrates its 30th anniversary today. 1974 may conjure images of flying pickets and Morris Marinas, but it was also a time of real innovation. Here are 10 things which, like Ceefax, are celebrating being 30.

1. The bar code was first used to identify an item at a supermarket check-out. It was some Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum, and the event happened in Troy, Ohio.

2. The Post-It note was conceived in 1974 when 3M's Art Fry, a member of his church choir, got fed up with losing his place in his hymn book.

3. Liposuction was unleashed on the world after two Italian scientists discovered excess fat could be removed using "electric-powered rotating scalpels".

4. The Rubik's Cube was created by Hungarian professor of architecture Erno Rubik. He said he loved playing games, especially where nature was the opponent.

5. The Kreepy Krauly, the vacuum cleaner for swimming pools, was invented in South Africa. Now used poolside worldwide.

6. The Heimlich Manoeuvre, the grabbing-from-behind technique to stop people choking on food, was invented by Dr Henry J Heimlich.

7. The Taser - recently introduced by UK police forces - gives suspects a jolt of electricity to temporarily pacify them safely. It was devised in 1974 and takes its name from its inventor's fictional hero - Thomas A Swift's Electric Rifle.

8. The Super Sopper the machine used to remove rainwater from sports fields was created by Sydney inventor Gordon Withnall, and is used everywhere so that rain doesn't stop play.

9. The protocol which began to make internet-style connections possible. TCP (Transfer Control Protocol), was outlined by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. IP (Internet Protocol) was added in 1978, and the system is still used today.

10. The first smart card was made by Roland Moreno, who found a way of storing currency on a card, which could be read by retailers.

(The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.)


Things to read elsewhere... www.rinkworks.com/dialect

Enter a URL and your choice of dialect, and the Dialectizer will translate it for you. For example, here is the heading for The Magazine Monitor, as read by The Swedish Chef... "Velcume-a tu Zee Megezeene-a Muneetur, zee ell-oon-oone-a-pege-a hume-a fur sume-a ooff oooor must pupooler feetoores, incloodeeng zee Cepshun Cump, 10 Theengs, und yuoor letters. Um gesh dee bork, bork! Zee Muneetur is updeted ifery veekdey, veet noo stooffff et zee tup."
Stephen Buxton
Coventry, UK

(The BBC is not responsible for the content.)

The Liberal Democrats say "Joy-riders going out in a city centre, stealing cars and driving around and killing themselves need to go through the court process and you need a punishment. But at the same time what is going to stop them doing it again the following Thursday?" (Lib Dem conference: Offender driving plans) At the risk of seeming cynical and uncaring, their having killed themselves is pretty much guaranteed to stop them doing it again, isn't it?
David Dee
Maputo, Mozambique


It's time for Punorama, our pun-writing competition.

The rules are straightforward - we choose a story which has been in the news, and invite you to create an original punning headline for it. Originality is what counts.

So set your phasers to pun on the story about the Greek taxi driver whose Mercedes has clocked up 2.8million miles and is now going into a museum.

End of the Rhodes said Craig from London, while Catherine O, from Maidenhead, opted for Mercedes Endz. Donor the Kab, by Mark from Maidenhead, is by no mean pitta-ful, and the same goes for Taki's taxi reaches maxi - by Speed, from Armagh.

However, the showcase honours go to Chas, from the UK, for Gone to a feta place.

(Entries now closed)


Apparently Boris Johnson (everyone's favourite Conservative MP for Henley-on-Thames) has launched his own blog, www.boris-johnson.com. Of course to be impartial it must be mentioned that other MP's weblogs are available, such as Labour's Tom Watson www.tom-watson.co.uk, and the Lib Dem's Richard Allan www.richardallan.org.uk
Mark Crosby, Manchester
(The BBC is not responsible for the content of any of them.)

I was interested to note in A sorry state of affairs, 21 September, that Bill Clinton apologised for to the black community for slavery in the 1990s. Was this before or after Mississippi finally got around to ratifying the 13th amendment in 1995, which finally made slavery illegal in that state?
Stephen Buxton
Coventry, UK

So farewell then LBQ,
You've gone for a week or two,
Or six.
What now Si, and Candace and Tim?
Conversation with people, if you can remember,
Remember, remember it's back in November.
NW London

Re: Dot.life: Thanks for the memory (but I need more), 20 September. Obviously a petabyte isn't enough. After all, we are always advised to have a backup, so you need at least two.

Re: Kaylie of Runcorn's letter on Monday. I hate to appear pedantic but the correct title of the book is Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
London, UK

Tuesday's letter from Lindie: "in the 25th Century they were" etc. Now I don't want to follow up last week's comma workshop with a discussion of tenses. But really....
Dave Williams
Prudhoe, UK

This Magazine is very good
Marcelo de Souza
Vitória - Brazil

GOING POSTAL Day 19 21 Sept 11:30 BST

Day 19 of our experiment putting the Post Office to the test.

It takes 10 days for a letter to officially be classified as lost, and that means The Magazine's postcard can now be properly mourned.

It hasn't been seen or heard from since it was posted about two weeks ago from from Portadown, Co Armagh to Mr Mystery in north London. When we last checked with the Royal Mail, the postcard was classed just as "seriously delayed".

Now, seriously, it's gone.

The people over at Postwatch, while hugely sympathetic, aren't completely shocked, and offer some suggestions on what might have happened to it.

"A lot of times, we find it is misdelivery that results in lost mail," a spokesperson said. "It probably isn't blowing about the street, and it's only very occasionally that it gets chewed up [by a sorting machine].

"It's more than likely gone in someone else's door, and then ended up in a bin."

An undignified end, then, to a noble experiment.

When we updated the Royal Mail spokesperson he said they, too, were disappointed by the fact that the card hasn't arrived, as they'd like to know where things went wrong.

"It's a bit unfortunate," he said. "I certainly would have liked for it to have turned up so we could see what had happened to it."


Good things to read on other websites.

  • Muslim stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza has become pretty well-known in the UK - Salon magazine introduces her to US audience (subscription or day-pass required).

  • Andrew Marr, of this parish, has a few thoughts on how to read newspapers. This excerpt of his new book is from Media Guardian.

  • How did people mark 2004's Talk Like a Pirate Day? Some hearty tales here.

    (But naturally the BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.)


    Re: Going Postal. I once received a card addressed only to my company's website (www....) Granted, it was on the island of Montserrat with 5,000 residents, but still I was rightfully impressed.
    Ken Tough
    Pretoria, South Africa

    Re: Dot.life: Thanks for the memory (but I need more), 20 September. Why is peta byte the word of the moment... It's almost retro from a Star Trek point of view where in the 25th Century they were talking about computer capacities measured in "Giga-Quads" of information. Sounds like they reintroduce english prefixes... giga 10^9, quad, assuming it's the same as english unit prefix = 10^15 (same as peta byte), so a giga-quad, standard unit of measurement in 25th Century would be the same as "old" metric "Yotta"... Sounds like, if we are getting to petas now, we'd be a bit above yotta bytes by then, but somehow giga-quads sounds so much more cool than giga-peta's.


    So what's happened to the Lunchtime Bonus Question?

    Regulars of the LBQ, our hitherto daily game in which we give you the answer and you send us the (probably wrong) question, may be wondering where it has gone. The answer - which was announced by Friday's actual answer in the competition - is that it's gone on a month-long hiatus. Actually it's more like six weeks. The LBQ will return, all being well, on 1 November. Until then, regulars are welcomed to the joys of the Magazine Monitor.


    I would refer Heather from Canada to the Oxford dictionary stating that quote (as well as being a verb) is a noun meaning quotation.
    Cameron Smith
    Leatherhead, UK

    Re: last week's dispute about commas. I had originally thought that the success of Eats Shoots & Leaves was largely down to its title. I now realise it was bought up by Magazine Monitor readers.
    Runcorn, UK

    In Body Clocks Hinder Space Travel, 18 September, Professor Foster says, "you must not be half asleep or half awake;" Surely you would be both.
    Terry McCreesh

    How am I going to exist without an LBQ until 1 November? This could be a life-threatening situation; please recommend a suitable de-tox.
    John Mander, Coulsdon, UK


    Each Monday Si poses a riddle for you to puzzle over. The answer, and winner, will be revealed next Monday. Enter using the form below.

    Premium Membership

    Who links the following mixed up individuals?

    Barney Lezogge
    Serena Conny
    Brian Creepson
    Dotty Hamilton
    Romeo Gorre

    The winner of last week's riddle, chosen at random from the correct entries, was Oonagh Harrison of Winchester. The correct answer was "Back seat driver". Wrong answers included "a browser's back button" and "Tipperary". (Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website, which has a puzzle-solving tutorial.)

    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country

    Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.


    The Magazine Monitor has several of our most popular features, all on one page. Throughout the week, new items are added at the top of the page, with a note of when they were added.

    Among the items you will find here are the Caption Competition, the Friday Challenge, and 10 Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Week. Your letters, which we previously published in The Last Word, will now be added here each weekday. The Lunchtime Bonus Question will continue as normal.

    You can contact us using the form on the right hand side of the page.

    At the bottom of each item is "Link to this item" - this will give you a URL in your browser which you can use to link exactly to that item, wherever it is on the page.

    At the start of each week, we will start a new page. The previous week's entries will still be found via our search engine.

    The Magazine Monitor will always be found on the Magazine index, which you can bookmark using the address bbc.co.uk/magazine.

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country
    Your comment

    Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.


    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
    UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
    Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific