Thanks for the clarification, Beeb. If only they’d identified that substance as something other than oil substance, that headline might have had some substance. Oh, wait:
Plymouth University said it was a form of polyisobutene (PIB), which was used as a lubricating additive in oils to improve performance.
No words in that sentence are more descriptive than ‘substance’ nor of similar length. Apart from ‘additive’. And ‘lubricant’.
It’s a shame that this event wasn’t live-blogged, so that we could have watched the development of this headline in real time:
The BBC today has given us a fantastic headline superhero in a fantastical situation. Meet Nepal Man: a national symbol who suffered for a crime he did not, nay could not, commit, for it does not exist. Japan Murder.
Now, last time I checked, the nation of Japan wasn’t dead at the hands of Captain America’s lesser-known Himalayan counterpart. And, more appositely, there was definitely space in that headline for two ‘-ese’ suffixes.
It was on Friday evening that the BBC finally fixed it for all of us to see a photo of Jimmy Savile looking like a child-molesting paedo-creep:
If the accusations levelled against the cuddly national treasure, entertainer and knight Sir Jim had been faintly unbelievable thus far, then this was surely proof. The thin-lipped grimace; the wild eyes; the mottled skin, unflattered by direct flash; all classic signs that the BBC had chosen this, amongst thousands of photos of the eponymous star of Jim’ll Fix It, in a bid to fulfil their tabloid duty to the British public to painstakingly not quite totally piss all over due process. The Beeb has been slow on the uptake with that internal investigation (with delays of over 30 years)…they could probably afford to wait a little while before dropping that JPEG-bomb.
Besides, we’ve got the horrible reports of victims, the pervading memory of a creepy and eccentric bloke, and now this photograph. The profile of Jimmy Sa-vile is just about complete. Since you can’t libel the dead: let it be known that he did it, the disgusting kiddy-fiddling shit.
Column inches and pixel-millimetres-squared are precious, so truncation is natural in headlines…but, just sometimes, sense and sensitivity should come first. Welcome the latest batch of headline superheroes!
Her husband shakingly testified that she had smashed through the window, unleashing a volley of oysters, dark chocolate and tiger penis.
His professor failed him for the whole year on account of one terrible extended essay on the differences between long-cone and star-burst hose dispersal systems on foam-based fire-fighting tools.
For when ‘Man shot’ just doesn’t cut the mustard. Also a plot synopsis for the new Judge Dredd movie.
‘Hey, Rest Break!’ called Aphrodisiac Attack Wife from the back of the ambulance.
‘Look, I’ve told you. Call me Death Ambulance Technician—I don’t feel like we’re on nickname terms yet,’ responded ‘Rest Break’ Death Ambulance Technician, grouchily.
‘I can sort that out!’ she replied, unleashing a volley of oysters, dark chocolate and tiger penis.
As if it weren’t bad enough that she’s been disowned, Rape Girl has to live with her new title, which defines her by an event that not only brought her great physical and emotional pain, but also led to her estrangement. Woo!
Hartlepool stab death man story editor was ‘poor standard of English’.
‘You won’t dare admonish me when I’m a fully-grown Wipe Horror Man!’ riposted the baby Wipe Horror Man gravely, as shocked onlookers tried to grapple with the severity of the circumstances surrounding a dirty bum.
Bikini Girl was forced to call upon the declarative powers of Pervert Yeti’s arch-nemesis, Sex Claim Man (remember him?).
‘Yes! Oh, yes! Yes!’ Noisy Sex Woman told the court on being asked if she’d breached her ASBO.
Baby Death Woman wowed a capacity crowd with her signature move, the Slough Sausage Choke.
Explosions do tend to be quite devastating. Whatever the case, keep your distance, or this guy might death explode.
Skype Death Soldier’s powers include killing the conversation and causing fatal exceptions in VoIP software.
This jailbird tear-jerker will melt your heart: he was raised to be an ice-cold killer, but all that ethylene glycol put paid to that.
I bet Murder Girl Parents were proud to have their holiday summed up succinctly with just five nouns and one possessive apostrophe.
…of electrocution death bodies.
Meet Boy Bat: a very rich young bat who paid for a special boy suit to be made so he could rid his cave of evil. And guano.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the headline superheroes, it’s that we’d appeal against the cutting of sentences.
The BBC has taken it upon itself, as a public service broadcaster, to inform the nation of its most ‘epic’ examples of procrastination. And who could possibly disagree with the description of these vast, sprawling sagas, of ancient hills, galaxies at war, and civilisations’ rise and fall as anything other than epoch-defining? The case for the prosecution:
A friend of mine, who I’ll call ‘Dave’ (because that was his name) said he would do anything to avoid A-level revision. At one point he infamously found himself weighing the cat, convinced that he would only be able to settle down to work if he had that data to hand. As a result, some 25 years later, the act of procrastination is referred to by my family as ‘weighing the cat’. – Ian Whitten, Sittingbourne, Kent
This story is ‘epic’ in the same sense as Dave’s mates refer to him as a ‘legend’ because of his involvement in this very anecdote. I bet he’s now the joker in the office with the hilarious tie who puts salt in the sugar bowl. I mean, ‘weighing the cat’?! Who weighs a cat?! That’s so absurd. Let’s hope Dave doesn’t procrastinate again any time soon, or maybe he’ll sharpen the wrong end of everyone’s pencils, so they have two points and might cause graphite to get on people’s shirt cuffs. He’s totally off the chain, he could do it. I’m serious. Somebody stop that guy. Or at least cover his desk in silly string: that’ll go some way towards slowing him down, while we think of a more permanent solution to this mythical vagabond’s reign of terror.
I still haven’t decided what colour towels I’m having. – Caroline, Wirral
Yeah, I’m pretty sure Aragorn says that on assuming the throne of Gondor.
I bought a book called 52 Steps To Defeating Procrastination. I’ve still never read it—it was over 10 years ago, and I’m not even sure where it is now. – Craig, Bedfordshire, UK
Really? The only other occurrence of this zany book title on the Internet is on joke- and racism-collating site Sickipedia. Good to see that the BBC Magazine’s epic fact-checking doesn’t extend to visiting the Great Library of Alexandria in their time machine, or indeed the world’s most popular search engine on their laptop.
Grand Vizier Kara Ibrahim Pasha is not in the annals of history for the time he decided not to bother invading Vienna, and instead wandered through his palace in his pants contemplating the weight of his cat. Why not? Because it’s not interesting, that’s why. If he’d invented the weighing scale because of this, it’d be interesting. It still wouldn’t be epic, unless he weighed a fucking mountain or something, or the entire Habsburg army in a tactically brilliant Trojan-Horse-style ruse where, as they stood on the scales, he overthrew their leaders with a crack team of felines whose mass had been determined previously.
Is it even possible for procrastination, the act of deferring doing potentially-epic stuff, to be epic? Surely, having got distracted from a task to such an extent that your alternative task could be described as ‘epic’, you’re not so much procrastinating as ‘doing something else’. (This is basically Dave Gorman’s career plan.)
So what have you done today, BBC Magazine readers? Wasted time by reading the BBC Magazine? Wasted time by writing an article about reading the BBC Magazine? Wasted time by reading an article written about reading the BBC Magazine? Well, let’s hope this Russian doll of self-referential tedium causes the Internet to collapse, so we’ll have more interesting things to waste our time doing.
In a brilliant piece of headline–photo juxtaposition, the BBC have not only managed to create a caricature of the cliché of photogenic young ladies brandishing exam results…
…they’ve also made it look rather like the nation’s A* teenage totty are celebrating the first drop in results in a quarter-century: ‘GCSE results are worse! YAY!’
As for analysis, there are only two possible explanations:
Either way, Tory success! We finally made the kids look stupid! YAY!
The Bank of England today cut its growth forecast for 2012 to almost zero, and its governor, Mervyn King, therefore made some comments about the UK economy. To pull together his quotes from the BBC article on this:
The big picture is that output’s been flat for two years…. We are navigating rough waters and storm clouds continue to roll in from the euro area…. Unlike the Olympians who have thrilled us over the past fortnight, our economy has not yet reached full fitness…. It’s a saga that goes on, and on, and on…. There’s still a long way to go.
It’s quite a surprise that Merv didn’t go on to say that ‘we’re sick as a parrot, and our timbers are shivering. The economy is like a tank with no wheels; even though the turret is loaded, we can’t get to the shop to buy strawberries.’
Thankfully, the asininities weren’t reserved only for arguably the most important economist in Britain. The BBC also explained that:
He said that the future was unpredictable, since no-one could predict what would happen in the eurozone crisis, which would have an impact on the UK.
I get it! Finally! Someone explains clearly that things are unpredictable because no-one can predict them! So, conversely, if someone can predict something, it’s probably no longer unpredictable. Is that right? For example, you could predict that economics news will forever be delivered as a slew of disconnected but reassuringly folksy analogy, but you couldn’t predict exactly the shape, size, origin, colour, or other arbitrary properties (dependent on the metaphor in question) of the storm clouds that will come over from the latest crisis, because
weather economic forecasting is hard, especially when the jet stream is determined to ruin your economy. Summer. Chances of Olympic gold. Whatever.
Back to the Beeb:
The pound jumped in value to 1.27 euros on the money markets following Sir Mervyn’s comments.
The temperature in Weymouth changed too, but reporters stopped short of noting everything else that happened shortly after King’s chat because correlation and causation aren’t the same thing. But, even suspending scepticism for a moment, is the narrative being entertained here that ‘the markets’ are now confident that at least Merv knows about the storm clouds—which he has been discussing for years in metaphors as forced as this attempt to add a simile into this parenthetical remark—even if he still doesn’t know what to do about them? Brilliant. At least we know where we are: inside the body of a healing athlete trying to predict when the unpredictable choppy waters will subside. Right?
The tragic and untimely death of swimmer Alexander Dale Oen made the BBC News front page today. Over to Auntie:
Emergency services arrived at the scene within minutes but were unable to revive him.
Dale Oen won gold in the 100 m breaststroke at the World Championships in Shanghai in July 2011.
His triumph came just days after the attack in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik which killed 77 people.
Sorry, what? One sentence this guy is swimming very fast, the next sentence (or, equivalently, paragraph on the Beeb), we’re being reminded that his death pales into insignificance next to a massacre which took place in his homeland, with eerie temporal proximity to his win. Wait, did I say ‘eerie’? Two events happening not-even-simultaneously? One of which was a very competent swimmer doing very well at swimming? The probabilities boggle the mind. At least they do if you’re a BBC News editor, apparently.
Even if it were a genuinely noteworthy coincidence—which it isn’t—it might not be worth noting. Does it contextualise Norway to remind us of a racist with a gun fixation and a catalogue of delusions?
‘Oh, that Norway. I got a bit confused when you said “Norway”, because I was thinking about Congo, but now you’ve reminded me of Anders Behring Breivik—can we mention his name again? It’s way more memorable than “Norway”—Anders Behring Breivik, mighty Scandinavian anti-hero, I now understand which Norway you were talking about. But I don’t want to go to that Norway. It sounds dangerous to me. I heard about some swimmer or other. He wasn’t called Anders Behring Breivik. But he was from Congo too, and he died.’
Is the essence of Norwegianity really a blond-haired, blue-eyed, pathetic massacring shit? Isn’t that what Breivik himself thinks? Oh dear God, what have we become?
Buoyed by the success of the ‘Professor Brian Cox talking on a mountain’, ‘Professor Brian Cox talking in a desert’ and ‘Professor Brian Cox talking on a mountain whilst being filmed from a helicopter’ formats, the BBC decided to try out ‘Professor Brian Cox talking in a lecture theatre’ on Sunday night. Thus was created lamentable celebrity science circle-jerk A Night With The Stars, in which Cox talked to a room full of self-consciously air-headed celebrities about quantum mechanics, which is hard.
Anyone watching the show may well have been disappointed and shocked first and foremost by the dodgy extrapolation of Pauli’s exclusion principle. But also worrying was Cox’s mad closing line. Referring to the magnificent, mysterious majesty of quantum mechanics, he said:
There is no woo-woo. It is just beautiful physics. Thank you.
Do you think he knows that ‘woo-woo’ means vagina?
Do you think the script editors or production team, or even the person who types the autocue, know that ‘woo-woo’ means vagina? Or is he just, slightly crassly perhaps, highlighting the current gender gap in physics?
Every electron in the Universe is simultaneously wincing.