Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the home for many ever-popular features, including your letters and :
MON: Si's riddleWEDS: PunoramaTHURS: Caption compFRI: Friday ObjectiveSAT: 10 things we didn't know
10 THINGS WE DIDN'T KNOW THIS TIME LAST WEEK
1. A US Patent has been granted for a "toy gas-fired missile and launcher assembly" (US patent 6,055,910). The gas in question? Colonic gas generated by the user.
2. The Duchess of Kent teaches children to rap.
3. The bikini-clad woman in the iPod adverts does not own one - she hasn't the money.
4. Urine was once made into ammonia to remove stains from laundry.
5. In the 1930s, a German inventor tried to deliver mail by rocket to one of the most remote parts of the UK, the tiny island of Scarp in the Outer Hebrides. Commemorative stamps were issued. But it ended in failure when the rocket exploded.
6. It takes a gallon of oil to make three fake fur coats.
7. Media studies is more popular than physics among A-level students.
8. Each successive monarch faces in a different direction on British coins.
9. White was the colour chosen for the Queen Mother's White Wardrobe - currently on show at Buckingham Palace - because she was in mourning for her mother at the time.
10. There's a sin of simony - to conduct financial transactions involving spiritual goods which Lincoln Cathedral had been accused of over the making of the Da Vinci Code movie.
If you spot anything that should be included next week, use the form below to tell us about it. Thanks this week to Stephen Buxton, Coventry.
The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.
YOUR LETTERS FRIDAY 19 AUGUST 1634BST
In the spirit of "Rewriting the rule books", may I suggest you submit your rules for Cabbaging to the Wikipedia.
Jane Verne, London, UK
Whilst I very much enjoyed the guide to Cabbaging, surely it's a little inconsistent to refer to the starting point as Genesis but the end point as Omega? To be properly consistent, we should either call the starting point Alpha, or else the end point should be Revelation.
Helen, Cambridge, UK
Surely reaching all the way to 1620 in one click would at least qualify me for something?
Teri, Detroit, MI, USA
To Jerry of London (Monitor letters, Thursday): No, we won't be hearing the warnings again in a decade's time, if we keep using our iPods. That's the whole point.
I occasionally get the right answer to Si's riddle. My ratio of correct mini-quiz answers is higher than one in three that one might expect from pure guesswork. Today, my crowning achievement. A magnificent 7 in the
weekly news quiz. Now if I can just get this letter published, submit a limerick which is accepted and get mentioned in dispatches in the caption comp, I will start to feel a sense of completeness. I do not intend, however, to start cabbaging...
FRIDAY OBJECTIVE FRIDAY 19 AUGUST 1435 BST
Clever students - don't you hate them? The papers have once again been full of pictures of A-level students grinning, leaping, embracing and generally parading their smugness on hearing of their exam passes. It was of course another record year. Spare a thought for the admittedly diminishing minority who flunk their exams? For a start - what do the failure grades "U" and "N" actually stand for? Suggestions please using the form below. And while you're at it, tell us any alternative letters that could be used to indicate a fail and make the whole experience a tad more palatable the poor pupils - DS perhaps for "deferred success".
Good grief - spare us, please
'U' stands for unpossible, strangely enough the grade I got for my English exam.
U - Unlikely to get a job
N - Never get a job
A more preferable version would be:
S - sufficiently inaccurate
G - greatly inaccurate
I guess 'U' stands for 'Understated' while 'N' presumably means 'Nice try'. The obvious addition to the marking scheme would be an 'M' for 'Misunderstood'.
A few years ago I got an 'N' in Latin. I think it stood for 'non possum scriptere lingua morte'
Kelcey Swain, UK
U = Universally unaccepted truth expounded
N = Neat handwriting nicely set out.
PASS - Poor Attempt by Stupid Student
Tony , UK
U and N are included as grades purely so that a student of mixed ability taking 5 A levels can achieve the anagramatic result D.U.N.C.E
MNY - Maybe Next Year
NC - No chance
CAUTION - Complete and utter tosh ill-judged nonsense
A = Academic,
B = Best of rest
C = C u at night school
D = Dole queue
E = E's and Wiz
F = Failed to sit exam
U = University of life for this one
N = Not a clue
R = Reality tv beckons
U - Unutterable
N - Negotiable *wink*
J Bright, London UK
Fail indicator letters : MSS - translates as Mental Sabbatical Syndrome.
Derek Behan, Blackburn,Lancs
DYWFWT = Do You Want Fries With That?
Gerard Krupa, Coventry, UK
NLH - Needs Legible Handwriting, for those who wish to join the medical profession.
N: Nearly Useless
Mark H, London
E- 'enterprising'- that lovely euphemism for 'did not get to grips with the question'.
Basil Long, Notts, UK
5 A levels - grades SWIMS = Start Work In McDonalds Saturday
S - Social Life
Matt, Notts, UK
"N" has to be for "Numpty"
Cameron Smith, Leatherhead, UK
like "A*", we should have a "pA" or even "pA*" - the p stands for "plagiarised" :-)
Dave Shannon, England
F (FUSP) = Failed (Future US President)
F (BSNC) = Failed (But Spelt Name Correctly)
P (BFB) = Pass (Bright Future Beckons)
P (BLTFTGO) = Pass (But Likely To Fail To Grasp Opportunities)
dave godfrey, uk
T - Trisha was on
Gary Savage, Burscough, Lancs
U - Unicorn a whimsical look at life that bears little resemblence to fact or reality.
N _ Narcoleptic A well rested or passed out participant whose brain has encountered more time immersed in parties and pints than lectures and learning.
A student of the pint myself.
William Westfall, Texas
CAPTION COMPETITION FRIDAY 19 AUGUST 1414BST
It's time for the caption competition.
This week, a boy takes a closer look at Lego miniatures of Steven Gerrard and Rafael Benitez with a tiny Champions League Trophy, as part of an exhibition at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery. But what's being said?
6. Karl Walde, UK
David James reveals his training regime before an England match.
5. Andy Stentiford, UK
Malfoy looked on gleefully as Harry and Ron succumbed to the Quidditch Cup Curse.
4. Simon, Nottingham, UK
Glazer - the early years.
3. Lucy Jones, Manchester
Charlie thought the Ooompa-Loompas deserved more recognition.
2. Sue Lee, London
After a long panto season in Lytham St Annes, Ant and Dec foolishly ignored the cries of "HE'S BEHIND YOU!!"
1. Tony Moody, UK
"Not a bad result seeing as we had a square ball."
RULES OF CABBAGING FRIDAY 19 AUGUST 1318 BST
Cabbaging: The Definitive Guide (Short Rules Version)
Aim: To reach, on a specified website, the page that is as far back in time as possible, from a specified starting page, in a specified number of clicks.
What's at stake
Rules and Guidelines:
1. This game can be played with any number of participants (or Cabbagers). However, to avoid cheating it is recommended that all Cabbagers are situated within the same building.
2. It is also recommended that an impartial umpire (or Gaffer) is appointed to oversee the game and prevent bloodshed or physical violence in extreme circumstances.
3. All Cabbagers must agree upon a starting page (or Genesis) of a specified site (or Patch); for example, the front page of the BBC News website. For further clarification, the URL of the Genesis may be emailed by the Gaffer to the Cabbagers.
4. The Gaffer will specify the number of links (or Swoops) that may be attempted by the Cabbagers (we recommend five). This is called a Swoop Allowance.
5. All Cabbagers may then begin to Swoop from the Genesis, using no more and no fewer Swoops than their specified Swoop Allowance.
6. Once a Cabbager's Swoop Allowance has been exhausted, the page they will have reached is termed their Omega. In order for scoring (or Hoeing) to be carried out fairly by the Gaffer, all Cabbagers must either a) make a note of the URL of their Omega (a Trough), or b) print out a hard copy (or Furrow).
7. All Cabbagers must then convene with the Gaffer to present their Troughs and Furrows for Hoeing. The Cabbager who has reached the Omega that is furthest back in time is duly crowned the Cabbage King, and is presented with the ceremonial Tunnock's Tea Cake.
8. In the event of a tie, the Omega with the most characters in its URL will decide the winner.
This game can also be played in single-player mode, where the object is simply to Swoop to the oldest Omega one can find and thus beat one's previous best Hoe. But please note that the Swoop Allowance must remain the same from one round to the next (and preferably the Patch and the Genesis also) for the Hoe to count as legal.
Notes: If a Cabbager Swoops to a separate Patch than was specified at the start of the game, they are immediately disqualified.
Pop-up windows do count as Swooping to a foreign Patch.
Where no proof of the age of the Omega is available, the Omega is nullified and the Cabbager must retire from the competition.
Reverse Swoops (Swooping to the page from which the Cabbager has just Swooped) is strictly forbidden and may result in arrest and/or prosecution.
Health Warning: Do not attempt to Cabbage for any more than one hour at a time. Regular breaks must be taken to allow the eyes and fingers to rest. The National Cabbagers' Association cannot be liable for any instances of RSI incurred whilst playing this game.
With thanks to Magazine reader Matt Wainwright.
PAPER MONITOR FRIDAY 19 AUGUST 1025 BST
Two from today's Telegraph - first, news of a disturbing new trend to emerge in London's clubland: champagne spraying. The paper reports how last week one 33-year-old investment banker who had hired out the VIP room at West End club Mo*vida spent £21,000 on several dozen bottles of top quality bubbly, only to spray it around the room as his guests knocked back shots of "luxury" vodka. This sort of behaviour is apparently commonplace among the super-rich of St Tropez and Monaco, although it's not clear whether in the latter case the practitioners are merely Grand Prix winners on the podium. A word of caution to anyone who plans to imitate such behaviour down their local tonight - it is customary to also pick up the cleaning bill. In the case of said banker, that came to £15,000.
In contrast to such decadence, the Daily Telegraph also carries the story of the humble cottage in Iowa, US, that is an American icon. The cottage was a backdrop to one of the most famous artworks of all time - Grant Wood's American Gothic. Those who don't know the title will surely know the painting itself - of an austere dustbowl farmer in dungarees, clasping a pitchfork, alongside his equally severe looking daughter. They stand in front of a white wood-panelled cottage with a gothic window. Seventy-five years on from the painting, the cottage is still standing... just. The three-bedroom house has been empty for two years, its white paint blistered and peeling. It's on the rental market for £250 a month, but so far there have been no takers.
FRIDAY 19 AUGUST
Apologies for the problems with Thursday's Daily Mini-Quiz. These have now been rectified and a new mini-quiz is on the Magazine index today.
ANNOUNCEMENT THURSDAY 18 AUGUST 1620BST
Note to readers.
It's been a great couple of weeks for Magazine readers adding their wisdom to the humble offering we toil each day to bring you. Only yesterday Conrad Floyd wrote about how new-found cricket-lovers have a nasty shock in store for them (ie cricket is actually quite dull). On Tuesday, Julia Manning confessed her love for the sun, even though she insists she's not addicted to getting a suntan. And who can forget last week's article in which photographer Timothy Soar gave his tips for taking good pictures of buildings?
It's all been very jolly. Much as we might try, the Magazine team will never know as much as this fascinating community of readers. So we're throwing the doors open. If you know a subject well, or have well-considered views on a particular topic which you think you should share with your fellow readers, write us a brief note about it. Don't write a full article, just give us a few lines. Alternatively, give us an idea of your sphere of expertise.
Include your contact details (e-mail address and daytime phone number), and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Write for the Magazine" in the subject line of your e-mail.
YOUR LETTERS THURSDAY 18 AUGUST 16150BST
Re Thursday's Daily Mini Quiz: Sorry for not specifying a FORM_LAYOUT value in the config file. I'll try to remember next time.
Monitor note to Matt: Drat those technical problems.
Re: Rapturous German welcome for Pope, 18 August, in which it says: "The Pope arrives in his homeland Germany on his first major foreign trip." Hmmm, something not quite right there - does this mean I can call my holiday to Yorkshire this year a foreign break?
Re iPod users hearing damage warning. I'm sure almost identical warnings of dire consequences were given shortly after the release of the personal-CD player in the 1990s and the Walkman back in the 1980s, and we'll probably be hearing it again in a decade's time.
Is it just me or does the Jesus in a hawthorn tree image look more like Barry Chuckle than Jesus?
Monitor Letters, Wednesday: "How does someone like Victoria Beckham who has never read a book end up writing one (Learning to Fly)?" Guardian Letters, Thursday: "Victoria Beckham has never read a book? Presumably, then, this includes her own autobiography..." As Private Eye might say, just fancy that.
Rachel from Canada's question about mouse mileage, (Monitor letters, Tuesday) she can get some idea of how far her mouse is going by visit this website at the University of British Columbia.
Join up and your mouse miles will be added to everyone else's and the info used to power a table top train set. All that energy finally put to a good use. Wowzer.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
BBC not responsible for external sites.
Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. So what to make of a new column, launched in the Sun today, called Asbowatch?
PUNORAMA THURSDAY 18 AUGUST 1206BST
It's time for Punorama.
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.
The story for this week follows Andrew Flintoff's back-flipping celebrations in the recent Test matches - doctors in Turkey have warned sports stars performing showy celebrations that they put themselves at risk of serious injury.
Our friends from across the Atlantic may have no grasp of the finer points of cricket, but the selectors have added Smitty of Toronto's Nip Flip Trip Or Risk Gip Hip and Candace of New Jersey's Head over heals to the line-up.
At silly mid-off is Nigel Macarthur, London, with Andrew Splint-off, while silly mid-on is occupied by Stephen C of Winchester's Acro-batter.
Partnering England's star all-rounder is Phil, Stafford with Doc says Flintoff might crick it.
On their way to a quick century are Martin Price and Alan, both of London, JC of Halifax and Martin of England with Ow! Zat's gotta hurt.
Sam Hayes, London, reaches the boundary with Celebreak. And in a break with tradition, Stephen Buxton, Coventry, provides lunch-time entertainment with It's a flip-back, caught him out, give the doc a phone - this old spine is wearing down.
PAPER MONITOR THURSDAY 18 AUGUST 1030BST
It's back to the silly season. Stories from today's papers include:
5. There's a really really ugly dog in California. Really ugly. (Daily Mail)
4. A couple have been banned from playing Robbie Williams' Angels at their wedding. And not on grounds of taste. (Sun and Express)
3. Lots of leggy models are starting to dress like Daisy Duke. (Mirror)
2. A big ship has been made of 15 million lolly sticks. (Mirror)
1. Orange food is good for you. (Express and others)
THURSDAY 18 AUGUST
In Wednesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 55% of you answered correctly that it was indeed true that President Bush was reading The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History on his holidays. Thursday's question is on the index now.
YOUR LETTERS WEDNESDAY 17 AUGUST 1555BST
Re: Life savers or leg breakers, 17 August, which told of the dangers of mobility scooters. I have been a scooter user for 15 years now and would be very limited without it. I have seen many cases of incredibly stupid driving and have been involved with helping several folk learn to use their vehicle safely. As a result I wrote a HIGHWAY CODE for SCOOTER AND WHEELCHAIR USERS. This was launched at the House of Commons three years ago. I then raised with the then Minister for Transport various points about safety and good usage - including the following; compulsory assessment, compulsory insurance, registration of bad users, and regulation of manufacturing standards, such as lights, horn, visibles indication of whether you are going forwards or backwards, emergency hand brake, etc. I gave this and more to the minister - and he assured me he would look at it seriously - but that seems to have been that.
Miss Margaret Godfree
So P.Diddy has changed his name to Diddy (today's quote of the day). I can already see the sketch now.
"P. Diddy's changed his name again"
"Did he? Did he what?"
"Not Diddy What - Diddy. One word. Five letters. Period."
A new Hollywood film will be released later this month titled 'The Sisterhood of the travelling pants'. Is this the worst film title in history?
Reading Asbowatch makes me strangely homesick.
For all those Monitor readers crowing over how far back they managed to get in three or four clicks whilst "cabbaging" the BBC News website: do the rules not stipulate five clicks, no more, no less? It's like connecting 5 in Connect 4 and claiming you have somehow won the game, for goodness' sake! The rigidness of click allowance is what makes the pursuit so skilful. For further clarification of the rules, I refer readers to the recently-published "Cabbagers and Googlers Year Book (2005)".
On Monday the lions at a safari park chasing Smart cars was a silly season story in the Paper Monitor. By Tuesday it's on the BBC News website. By Wednesday it's in the Daily Telegraph and on News 24. Someone's obviously not reading the Monitor!
Re Can't read, won't read books, 17 August. How does someone like Victoria Beckham who has never read a book end up writing one (Learning to Fly)?
Dave Godfrey, Swindon
PAPER MONITOR WEDNESDAY 17 AUGUST 0950BST
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
OK let's take a time out in our silly season rundowns, and compare and contrast the differing headlines on today's Mirror and Sun, both for the same story.
"MADONNA HORSE FALL HORROR", the Mirror screams, which Paper Monitor suggests, might be going a bit over the top.
The Sun takes a somewhat different angle: "MADONNA WITH ZE BIG BRUISES."
Come on guys, we need to get a consistent line on this. Was it a horror? Or was it a 'joke' from a 1980s sitcom? Horror? Sitcom? Ah yes, maybe there is some common ground after all.
And here's a great line on a completely different subject. The Telegraph's food critic Jan Moir writes about four London restaurants which have been named as the capital's most expensive. Moir is so damning, it just makes Paper Monitor relieved that it chose monitoring papers as its profession and not cooking.
At "Umu, Le Gavroche, Sketch and Blakes... dinner will cost £100 a head minimum. I'm not sure if I agree but, anyway, Blakes? Apart from Robert Plant, Harden's inspectors and sundry arthritic tennis stars, who in God's name goes to Blakes to eat? The dusty restaurant, situated in the basement of the South Kensington hotel, boasts that every dish on the menu has been 'devised' by the owner Anouska Hempel. If that is not enough to put you off, what about a bowl of mushroom soup at £19.75, a dessert selection entitled Indulgences and the 15 per cent service charge? How many kinds of stupid do you have to be to book a table at Blakes and think that lava-seared calves liver or a section of the menu still devoted to the Atkins diet are good ideas?"
WEDNESDAY 17 AUGUST
Tuesday was the closest day yet in the Daily Mini-Quiz. We asked what the record number of text messages sent in the US was, having told you that in the UK it's 133 million. 33.79% of you said it was 26.4m (the correct answer), 34.39% of you said it was 264m, and 31.82% of you said it was 2.64bn. Today's question is on the index now.
YOUR LETTERS TUESDAY 16 AUGUST 1518BST
Re your story about the retirement of cartoonist Trog, Farewell blues, 15 August. As a child I used to read my parents' Daily Mail and always read the Flook cartoon strip and grew up with him over the years. What a grand procession of characters, Flook himself, Rufus, Moses Maggot, Colonel & Mrs. Cordite-Smith, Bodger and his fat sister Lucretia, oh I could go on! Sorry to hear that Trog is calling it a day and it is a shame that all good things come to an end, but what fun and laughter he created for us all to chuckle at for so many years.
Southgate, North London
According to The 2012 marketing minefield, 16 August, some protected Olympic terms include: "Gold", "Sponsor" and "Summer". I predict a very hard year for jewellers, advertisers and travel agents.
While reading Harold Evans' article on intelligent design (, 16 August), I am reminded of Sir Isaac Newton, who once commented that the biggest victory of science over religion was when churches started installing lightning conductors.
Coventry, UK, thelbq.co.uk
If the average computer mouse travels 422 miles in its lifetime (Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz), how do you know how many miles your mouse has travelled so far?
To Owen, who asked who Julie Burchill was (Monitor letters, Monday). She is a journalist who has written for NME and The Guardian, and now has a column in The Times on Saturdays, in which she practices her subtle art of writing columns whose central points you quite often entirely agree with, but find yourself nevertheless hating her after having read them.
RIDDLE WINNER TUESDAY 16 AUGUST 1530BST
The delayed announcement of the winner of last week's riddle, network problems now having much abated, is not Mark Esdale of Padstow, who bravely ventured Sudoku, nor Cassie of Manchester, who tried Fencing, but it is Bill Longley from Luton. Sukudos to him.
PAPER MONITOR TUESDAY 16 AUGUST 0930BST
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
More in our silly season seasonal special.
5. Women run the BBC - men are just sperm donors, says Michael Buerk. (All papers)
4. Big Brother's Makosi once had sex with someone. (Sun)
3. Swarms of giant mozzies are threatening to invade Britain from France. (Sun)
2. Madonna has dyed her hair. (Mirror)
1. If you take a picture of your cat with a strange lens, the resulting picture can be quite amusing. (Double page picture spread, Daily Mail.)
TUESDAY 16 AUGUST 2005
In Monday's Daily Mini-Quiz, the largest group - 43% - correctly said that an average PC mouse would 'travel' 422 miles in its lifetime. Tuesday's question is on the index now.
YOUR LETTERS MONDAY 15 AUGUST 1600BST
While "cabbaging" (Monitor letters, 12 August) this afternoon I have managed to get back to 29 December 1997 in just three clicks. ("Tsunami clue to 'Atlantis' find" as a starting point.) Is BBC News trying to make things a bit easier for us by including the ocassional old link or did I just get lucky? Couldn't get back any further as all links from that page referred to 1999
I think the BBC not only endorses 'Cabbaging' but actively promotes it... clicking this week's Faces of the Week over the weekend got you transported to an article first published in April this year.
Now that's a neat trick. I click on Salman Rushdie's face and he turns into Michael Winner.
I am awfully sorry if I missed this most important piece of information, but would someone kindly tell me who the heck Julie Burchill is please (Monitor letters, Friday? I feel like I am missing out on something that looks as though it is becoming a serious thread. Perhaps one day her name will appear in the dictionary to describe a particular type of person.
Last week's Friday Objective reminded me of a proposal someone had written in blue paint on a footbridge over the M25. It's been there for more than a decade, somewhere near the junction with the M1 - "Louise, I love you, marry me, Bob". Does anyone know what happened to Louise and Bob? Did Louise ever notice?
Two out of your five silly season stories in the Paper Monitor today don't exactly count. Surely Kate Moss's sans-bra Tesco trip and Eva Longorio's bikini are the sort of thing you can read in the papers at plenty of other times of the year?
SI'S RIDDLE MONDAY 15 AUGUST 1330 BST
Every Monday Si sets you a riddle to get your brain working.
Double or Quits
In a moment of terror,
Though the feeling is passing,
I put on my skiing goggles
For the snow that is lashing
And running down my face.
I need to get a grip.
Can my nerves do my bidding
Or are they abandoning ship?
Send your solution using the form below.
The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.
Last week's riddle was entitled Odd Numbers and asked you what sport should be added to the following group of words? "sexist sleevefish profusion delighted extraneous growth furtiveness nevertheless"
The answer is that each of the words contains an anagram of a number: extra(neo)us --> one
gr(owt)h --> two
nev(erthe)less --> three
p(rofu)sion --> four
slee(vefi)sh --> five
se(xis)t --> six
furti(venes)s --> seven
del(ighte)d --> eight
Therefore the next number would be nine and one sport containing an anagram of that is tennis. Who said riddle solving was an exact science?
Network problems are styming the Monitor's efforts at naming a winner, but one will be added as soon as possible.
PAPER MONITOR MONDAY 15 AUGUST 1015 BST
A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
More silly season silliness.
5. Bees are more likely to land on paintings of flowers than paintings of pottery. (Times, Indy and others)
4. Lovers of buxom girls spend less time having sex. (Sun)
3. Kate Moss went to Tesco bra-less. (Mirror)
2. Desperate Housewives star Eva Longorio wears a pink bikini while swimming. (Express)
1. Lions at a safari park in Merseyside are trying to eat visitors' Smart cars. (Sun)
MONDAY 15 AUGUST 0945 BST
In Friday's Daily Mini-Quiz, 65% of you correctly identified that quipu are knotted strings used by Incas to record data. Today's Daily Mini-Quiz question is on the Magazine index now.