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Last Updated: Friday, 14 January, 2005, 18:23 GMT
The Magazine Monitor


Welcome to The Magazine Monitor, the home for many ever-popular features, including your letters and :

  • MON: Si's riddle
  • TUES: Reading list
  • WEDS: Punorama
  • THURS: Caption comp
  • FRI: Friday Challenge
  • SAT: 10 things we didn't know


    10 THINGS
    10 berry clusters from Cardiff's Roath Park by Molly Swann
    10 berry clusters by Molly Swann

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

    1. The man who designed the Sinclair C5, Gus Desbarats, is responsible for the design of many of the telephones sold in the UK today.

    2. There are about 150 Auschwitz survivors still living in Britain.

    3. Two years before Lord Lucan disappeared he bought a copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf.

    4. According to environment secretary Margaret Beckett, while it is an offence to drop litter on the pavement, it's not an offence to throw it over someone's garden wall.

    5. Jamie Oliver's much-vaunted introduction of 7 beans on toast at his restaurant was in fact part of a publicity stunt organised by Heinz, for which the company paid 15,000.

    6. Albatrosses, which circumnavigate the Earth, somehow know how to stop to feed in the same spots.

    7. Officers working for the UK's newly formed Serious and Organised Crime Agency are the butt of jokes among their American counterparts who tease them that Soca sounds like a sports team.

    8. An average record shop needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth stocking, according to Wired magazine.

    9. Men's hearts grow old, diminishing in power by 20-25% between the ages of 18 and 70, but women's hearts hardly deteriorate at all.

    10. Syndrome of the week: Attention Deficit Trait, which affects overworked executives who have so much on their plate they lose the ability to organise their work.

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

    Add your comments to this story using the form below:

    Your e-mail address
    Your thing and where you saw it

    The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.


    Your mission, should you choose to accept it.

    A couple from Romania who met via the internet have named their firstborn Yahoo.

    Not a bad name for a boy - it even comes with the pedigree of actual actor Yahoo Serious. But the chances of it vying with Jack, Joshua, George, Emily, Chloe etc for most popular name for newborns are pretty slim. Your challenge therefore is to draw on your experience of new technology, the web, computers, gagdets or simply modern life to find a word which could serve as a name, for a boy or a girl.

    The register will be called throughout the afternoon with the best entries.

    It was only a nickname, of course, but because of his big bushy eyebrows he was always affectionally known to his friends as Browser...
    Alan Trowbridge, Dorchester

    How about Emma Peethree?
    Richard York, Wakefield, UK

    Sue Astley, Liverpool

    David Norman, Weymouth

    Baud. (Conceived during an uninteresting movie).
    N Willing, Maputo Mozambique

    Click for a girl. Double-click for twins.
    Alan Trowbridge, Dorchester, UK

    Wiki for a girl
    Owain Williams, Slough

    Only for a boy this one...Sir Chengine
    Maggie, South London

    If he turns out to be a foul-mouthed child, how about cursor?
    Paul Woolley, UK

    Meghann, Thurso, Scotland

    Tim Melville, Manchester

    (Entries now closed.)


    Re Christ-like' oyster shell to go on sale, 13 January. "Elephant-man like", surely ?
    Eddie H
    Haywards Heath

    (Sir) Mark Thatcher fined over a coup attempt. (Prince) Harry apologises for wearing a Nazi costume - what a wonderful indication of character and behaviour a title is.
    Dave Williams
    Prudhoe, Northumberland

    I applaud the idea of Staffordshire Moorlands Council to equip binmen with defibrillators (Bin-men could treat heart patients, 13 January). But how on earth are they going to persuade the local residents to have their heart attacks when the binmen are around? Bank holidays will be chaos.
    Catherine O
    Maidenhead, UK

    The Queen has gone up hugely in my estimation for being about the only public figure to say what the majority of Londoners have been thinking: we don't want the 2012 Olympics here (Right royal feast for the media, 13 January). Anyone who lives in London, apart from the bid team apparently, knows perfectly well what a disaster a London olympic games would be. There's something ironic about the Queen being the one to spot that the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes.
    London, UK

    To Adrian Hughes (Monitor letters, Thursday): as Dr Johnson once said, "the man who is bored of the Pink Panther tune is bored of life"
    London UK


    Winning entries in this week's caption competition.

    This week it's three of the most powerful figures in government, putting on a united front at the launch of a Labour poster campaign in London.

    6. David Hazel, Fareham, UK
    Alan Milburn judges the "who in government can hold his breath longest" contest.

    5. Aidan, Thaxted, UK
    "Nessun Dooooorrrrmaaaa"

    4. Chris Brace, UK
    John Prescott finally runs out of words.

    3. Jel, Brussels
    ...bearing gifts, we traverse afar...

    2. John FitzGerald, Wallingford, UK
    Gordon was beginning to suspect that letting John explain the neo-classical endogenous growth theory had been a big mistake.

    1. Chris Brace, UK
    "If these new prescotts don't work, then my name isn't John Poster."


    It really is disgusting about what Prince Harry has done with the Nazi uniform. Before I forget, is anyone out there free tonight? I have an extra ticket to see The Producers.
    Bruce Osborne

    Re: UK sick culture branded a 'myth', 7 January. I work in an office where 60% are contractors (self employed = no sick pay) and at this time of year it seems like there's a sneezing/coughing/sniffing soundtrack being played constantly.
    Essex, UK

    In Tougher intruder laws ruled out, 12 January, it says "there will be a publicity campaign to ensure people understand they can protect themselves" from intruders. Doesn't this miss the point a bit? It's not ordinary people this needs explained to, it's the police who arrest us afterwards.
    Alex Swanson
    Milton Keynes, UK

    I thought Jonathan Duffy's article about parents and computers (IT support for your parents, 10 January) was spot on. I e-mailed it to my mother who then rang up and asked me how to open the attachment. (I thank you).
    Dan Clapton

    Thanks to Colin in Belfast re:flushing away annoying tunes. Just one question, what do we hum if the annoying tune in the head IS the Pink Panther theme tune?
    Adrian Hughes
    Newport, Gwent

    Thanks for the suggestions! Now all I need is a cure for all the office open-plan whistlers... I remember one awful day when the person in the cubicle next to me whistled the same opening few bars of "The Great Escape" tunlessly over and over and over and over and...
    Stephen Buxton
    Coventry, UK


    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.

    This week the story about the shortage of actors small enough to get inside Dalek suits - reportedly causing headaches for the producers of the new series of Doctor Who. The problem, apparently, is that all the suitable actors are already employed on the filming of the new Harry Potter film and the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

    Here is the judge's verdict.

    Plenty of scope this week. Da-lack says JP Foster, Reading, Extras - min height! Extras - min height! from Brian Ritchie, Oxford, and Exterminot! from Barrie Young, from Burnham On Crouch (almost a pun in itself). Exfoliate! Exfoliate! says Carol Reading, although we're not sure why.

    Stephen C, Winchester, displays his Who credentials by suggesting Skarocity of actors or Lack of Relative Dimensions In Space. Anti-winner this week (ie loser) is Martin Price, UK, for In Daleks you all Potter thieves, adding "(Intellectual property. Sorry.)". Good of you to apologise, Martin, but it doesn't make up for it.

    But the clear winner is old friend of the Monitor, Tim Francis-Wright of Boston, US for Dearth of pert, wee rivals. By no means bad.

    (Entries are now closed.)


    Re: Music to deter yobs by, 10 January. Personally i think a lot of people sorely need to make some distinctions between anti-social behaviour, or the threat of it, and feeling intimidated by teenagers. Making someone feel threatened by congregating in groups, and being a bit rude, is not a crime.
    Kent, UK

    Regarding Andy Elm's response to Dave K's reply to Cathy from Liverpool (Monitor letters, Tuesday). "Is this a question?" Perhaps it is not enough to reply entirely in the negative or affermative but one should consider the conditional reply "Yes: but only if this is the answer"
    Cathey, Manchester, UK

    This is for Stephen Buxton, Coventry. If you have an annoying tune in your head simply hum the Pink Panther tune for a few minutes. I don't begin to understand why it works but it does - something to do with being an aural diuretic. It 'purges' the original tune from your brain and then fades away itself.

    Stephen Buxton: Try and work out Boris Johnson's: "I couldn't fail to disagree with you less".
    Josh D
    Leicstershire, UK

    I understand, believe me. The following always works for me: Turn to a friend/colleague and saying, "Do you know, I've had 'Especially for you'/'Careless Whisper'/'Shine Jesus Shine' running through my head all day?" When they respond, "Thanks(!), now it's stuck in my head," you're cured (until Agadoo comes on, anyway).

    When I get a song stuck in my head, I play musical flu. Try to pass the affliction on to as many people as possible by humming the offending tune whilst walking round the office. Walk round later and see how many people are sat humming with agonised looks on their faces. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.

    Raymond Gray's letter regarding drink driving reminded me of a classic Tommy Cooper joke: apparently one in five road accidents are caused by drunk drivers, which means 80% of accidents are caused by sober drivers!

    I note from the Monitor's Reading List that you are "not repsonsible for the content of external websites". I assume however that you are repsonsible for the spelling on your own?
    Martin Curtis

    Re: Reading List, as a serving soldier I can tell you that going without, downbelow, can lead to much discomfort. Chaffed inner-thighs, and crepy-crawleys are the main worries.


    Good things to read on other websites.

  • So do commandos actually go commando? A good question answered with military precision by Slate Magazine. Apparently "going without can increase ventilation and reduce moisture in a soldier's battle dress uniform, which in turn can minimize his chances of getting a rash".

  • Meanwhile Salon Magazine has a review of a new book which aims to piece together the intricate history of how the Macintosh computer was made, an article which includes the neologism "Jobsian".

  • Spare a thought for Cliff Richard. According to this article in the Economist, the Peter Pan of Pop will lose the rights to another of his songs every three months from the start of 2008. It's all to do with the way copyright law works, and could mean that before long, the musical riches of the 1960s and 70s will become fair game.

    Send your suggestions for the Reading List using the form on the right hand side of this page. Forget not, though, that the BBC is not repsonsible for the content of external websites.


    Re: Jerry Springer (Monitor, Monday). I am a born-again, Holy Spirit-filled Christian. No-one could blame us for taking action against this program or play in the same way other religious groups have taken action over lesser slights. But that is not the way Jesus told us to act. Jesus said there would be a time of mockers, that those that believe in Him would be persecuted and ridiculed. He did not say we should do anything about it. We are taught to turn the other cheek, not to seek revenge. How many of the Christians who have found time to complain about the play have taken part in evangelism? In helping the poor, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry? Are the lonely, elderly and infirm in their Churches cared for?
    MK, UK

    Reading the comments at the end of Dot.life's 'Best in show' at the CES tech fair, 10 January. "This is built for women," said Kodak's Mary-Irene Marek. "We researched women all around the world and they told us they wanted a product that took good pictures, but that was not a phone." So that would be a camera then..... there's nothing like re-inventing the wheel.
    Owain Williams

    Raymond Gray's comments on drink drivers is clever but wrong. It completely fails to take into account the fact that the police do not do random breath-testing across the driving population. It is actually a testament to how well they are able to identify likely offenders and target them specifically.
    Colin Main
    Milton Keynes, UK

    Comic revamp? (What's happened to the Dandy?, 10 January) Desperate Dan will just have to take it on the chin.
    Steve Jackson

    Regarding Dave K's reply to Cathy from Liverpool (Monitor letters, Monday). You can't answer a question by saying it isn't a question, because by answering it you must be admitting it is a question. So, yes it was a question. That was my answer
    Andy Elms

    Caroline from Southend (Monitor letters, Monday). You may be interested to know that the human embryo undergoes a process called "hatching," at about 1-2 weeks after fertilization, in which the outer shell of the embryo is broken to allow the embryo to implant in the womb.
    Matthew Cordiner
    Glasgow, UK

    Can any Magazine reader help? It frequently happens - I hear the briefest extract of a song, and I end up with it running through my head all day long. Today it is Kylie and Jason's "Especially for you" How can I get it out of my head?
    Stephen Buxton
    Coventry, UK


    Re: Ascension's post going off to the Caribbean (Islanders suffer postal blunder, 10 January). What are the chances of the Magazine's postcard being in that bag?
    Lester Mak
    London, UK

    The police are still quoting useless statistics and drawing illogical conclusions about drink driving ( Calls to lower drink-drive limit, 7 January) If anyone takes the time to check the government's published figures, they will be astonished to find that the percentage of all breath tests that are above the legal limit is HIGHER THAN the percentage of accidents that involve drivers above the limit, i.e. sober drivers are more likely to be in accidents than drunk drivers.! The numbers are especially remarkable when you consider that most accidents involve two or more drivers, which artificially raises the drink drive accident statistics. I'm sorry if this spoils the popular demonisation of drink drivers, but it is the simple truth.
    Raymond Gray
    London, UK

    With regard to the fuss being made over the BBC showing Jerry Springer the Opera - I find it most unusual that people get upset over a fictional show and yet they don't mind the suffering and exploitation of people on the real programme and all the similar trash talk shows that are broadcast so long as the swearing is bleeped out. It's acceptable for children to be exposed to abuse, violence and degradation on daytime TV so long as no-one swears. Funny old world.

    In his Newswatch article on sport in the news, Kevin Bakhurst says he doesn't share the view Of Bill Shankly that sport - or more accurately football - is a matter of life and death. Neither did Shanks of course. He thought it was more important that that.
    Jon Roberts
    Chesterfield, England

    Re: Unanswerable questions in the Friday Challenge. A question from my three year old son on discovering humans grow from eggs "What happened to my shell?
    Caroline , Southend, Essex

    Cathy, Liverpool in the Friday Challenge asks "Is this a question?" No, but this is an answer.
    Dave K


    It's time again for Si's Monday riddle, and it's real stinker this week.

    Vows and Consonants
    Ann, Harry, Michael and Rachel each broke their New Year's resolutions to give something up. Given the following clues can you determine how long their friend Helene would have lasted in her bid to give up chocolate?

    The man who tried to give up smoking lasted a full 9 weeks.

    Rachel succumbed after only 18 days, 35 days before the person trying to give up crisps.

    The person who broke their resolution after 50 days was not trying to give up meat.

    Michael was attempting to give up drinking.

    Send your entries using the form below.

    Your e-mail address
    Town/city and country

    The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

    (Solutions to the previous two riddles were published on Friday and are available here.) Si is a contributor to the Puzzletome website.

  • Send your letters to the Magazine Monitor
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    The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.


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