Headline Superheroes III: The Daft Knights

Presented for your delectation: a fresh set of stupidly shortened headlines that result in often offensive demi-deification of victims, criminals and assorted nautical ne’er-do-wells.

Do let us know if you find any of your own: tweet @headheroes, hashtag ’em #headlinesuperhero, Facebook ’em, or leave a comment below!

Shed death mother meets minister

‘Thank you, Shed Death Mother,’ said the minister, ‘Without your sterling work and great sacrifice, the garden centre’s forces may have overrun the city.’

Jay Whiston murder: leaflet appeal for stab death weapon

‘This boy was stabbed,’ said the police officer, visibly shaken, ‘but I’m afraid this is no normal stabbing. This boy was stabbed to death with a stab death weapon.’

Forth dinghy capsize death man named as John Dinning

No, BBC: John Dinning named ‘Forth dinghy capsize death man’.

Death dinghy’s standards failure

‘You haven’t killed enough people this month,’ scolded Death Yacht. ‘Shut your face,’ retorted Death Dinghy. ‘You’re high.’

Death yacht ‘had £20m of cocaine’

Yup. Even a 36-foot boat is going to die after that much coke.

Death boat loaded with ‘dirty’ cash

It was the harrowing experience of transporting money extracted from Cash-in-buttocks Man that caused Death Yacht to turn to drugs in the first place.

Cancer boy Neon Roberts’ mum blocks surgery

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an intracranial neoplasm! But wait! Cancer boy’s mum just deployed her jurisprudential shield. Who will survive?! Cancer boy’s mum, for sure.

Tiger death girl’s family slam boss

‘It’s not easy being in charge of a family slam, especially when the daughter is a superhero capable of dishing out tiger death,’ explained Tiger Death Girl’s Family Slam Boss.

OAPs’ ordeal at hands of wild-eyed machete man

Edward Scissorhand’s less-friendly cousin had trouble with his contact lenses.

TV death baby Kian McMillan’s father admits neglect

When TV Death Baby grows up, The Ring will become a reality show.

China baby rescued from sewage pipe out of hospital

They’re lucky that the china baby didn’t shatter when he landed. Also, it was well worth spending words clarifying that the sewage pipe was coming out of the hospital.

He was my world, says dad of stab-death man Jake Harris

Welcome to Stab-Death World, boys and girls!

Fernhill Heath mystery crash man identified

Incidentally, ‘Mystery Crash’ was Microsoft’s internal codename for Windows Vista.

‘Nothing there’ for pool death girl

A fine candidate for the Least Informative Headline of 2013 award.

Racy online novel teacher ‘surprised’ at losing job

‘I thought my position as Sexy Dean at St Bacchus School of Naughty Literature was assured,’ she moaned… as she shuddered, feeling his powerful [that’s enough -Ed]

Written by Statto and Tom

October 26, 2013 at 22:53

Sabre unsheathing leaves BBC Science lost for swords

You might have read in the news that a new piece of technology, dubbed Sabre, is about to receive a cool £60m in government funding, with the hope of creating a working prototype…well, thing. It’s, er, an atmospherey-spacey-flying thing, which can take people from the Earth into orbit, and takes off like a plane, but then can be more like a spaceship. It can get to Australia in five hours! It’s got all air-cooling compression and stuff. Er. If only there were a succinct way to describe this. Help us, BBC!

Sabre is a jet-cum-rocket.

I’m sorry, what?!

Sabre is a jet-cum-rocket.

A hypersonic, hydrogen-burning jet-cum-rocket? Well, if it doesn’t enable sub-orbital high-speed travel, it should at least allow for intercontinental fertility treatment.

Written by Tom and Statto

July 16, 2013 at 17:16

Posted in uncategorised

Low Evening Standards with ‘£53m lies’

It’s the end of another workday and, slightly grumpy as you jump on the Tube, you grab one of those free papers to pass the time before you die. And Heaven forfend that they make that time more enjoyable. Instead, inducing your ire, poking the hornets’ nest of delayed commuters with some cheap red-signal-to-a-bull commuter-bait, tonight’s Evening Standard screams:

Evening Standard: £53M LIES UNUSED ON OYSTER CARDS

TfL are sitting on fifty three million pounds of our money? What are they doing with it all? Certainly not making this bloody Tube carriage any less crowded, that’s for sure. That’s about the cost of a Zones 1–6 Travelcard isn’t it?! TfL? Transport for London? Train’s full and Late, more like. I could make dad jokes like this all day about bloody City Hall bureaucrats.

But wait…

TfL said 19,790,130 cards which have not been used for a year or more represent a value of £52,914,424.

Hang on. £50m on twenty million Oyster cards is only just over £2.50 each. Er. I’m less angry now. Good job that context-setting statistic is prominently displ…oh. It’s actually on this well-hidden news satire blog I just clicked through to.

If the world isn’t my oyster, it’s not because of crippling credit card debt from the unspent e-shrapnel on the five forgotten Oyster cards loitering around my home. It’s because everything makes me so mad! Especially big numbers in headlines! Rargh!

Written by Statto and Tom

April 15, 2013 at 17:42

Posted in London, travel, UK news

Headline supersubstance identified as Guillemot Kryptonite

The BBC has granted us a window into another side of the Headline Superheroes with a marvellous exposé. Check out this headline superthing:

Seabird deaths substance 'identified as oil substance'

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:

  1. Seabird deaths caused by seabird death causer
  2. Seabird deaths caused by unidentified seabird deaths substance
  3. Seabird deaths substance ‘identified’ as ‘substance’
  4. Seabird deaths substance ‘identified as oil substance’
  5. Seabird deaths substance identified as oil substance ‘identified as oil additive’
  6. Seabird deaths substance identified as oil additive identified as polyisobutene
  7. Seabird deaths oil additive lubricant substance ‘identified’ as Richard III

Written by Tom and Statto

February 6, 2013 at 22:27

Shard opens for asinine observations

A Super Star Destroyer in Central London

A Super Star Destroyer in Central London

Sleek, spiky Barad-dûr look-a-like The Shard opened its viewing decks for a look around on February 1st, and the Independent rushed to the top to investigate the effects of being high on a number of individuals.

First up is architect Renzo Piano, whom we have to hope is better at designing buildings than he is at describing them. Piano dubbed the enormous shiny thing ‘magic for a number of reasons’:

First, because it’s in London, second, because it’s so tall, and third, because this building is a part of London. It’s a sense of London. It’s sad when London is sad, it’s joyful when London is brilliant and joyful.

So, to recap: it’s in London, it’s part of London, and it’s tall. That would be deep, if it weren’t so tall, the two other reasons weren’t the same, and if the emotional state of the capital were a) existent, and b) able to be reflected in a massive glass pyramid. But well done all the same.

Piano’s quiet madness was only surpassed by London Mayor Boris Johnson—also magic, being as he is in London, part of London, and adept at spinning tall tales—who had a range of remarks, from the anodyne to the pointless:

I don’t think there’s anything in London like this.

This is the sound of Boris realising that the tallest building in London is, amongst other things, the tallest building in London, quite unlike any of the other, shorter things in London. What further rhetorical flourishes could he have in store for us? Quick, Bozza! Say more things!

It’s the closest thing to being in an airplane and looking down on London. But you can walk around, you’ve got complete stability.

Were you previously baffled by the idea of looking down on a city from a tall building? Fear not; Boris can paint a picture: it’s like being in a plane, except you can walk around, just like you can’t in a plane.

You can see all the bends in the river, you can see my office, you can see Buckingham Palace, you can see the whole thing for 40 miles around.

‘I can see my house from here!’ exclaimed an excited Mr Johnson, dancing a bit like he needed a wee, ‘Wow! I’m Mayor of London! I’m in charge of the whole thing, for 40 miles around! Can you believe that?

‘Well, I am. And I can remind people of my stature by listing my office alongside the Queen’s residence and all the bends in the river. Woo! It’s the river! Look at it, all bending all over the place! This is like the EastEnders title sequence, except I can walk around, and there’s no drum machine. There’s complete stability, and no chance of a shrieking cockney marital breakdown.’

Quite the opposite, in fact; schmaltzy cliché-lover and clichéd lover James Episcopou chose to propose on the 72nd floor of this magical building, because it’s magic, in London, part of London, and yet there isn’t anything in London like it:

Laura means everything to me and I wanted to make her feel on top of the world.

‘I couldn’t propose to her in an airplane because you can’t walk around,’ he told assembled reporters, ‘but I heard that this is the closest thing.’

London was said to be joyful at the news.

Written by Statto and Tom

February 1, 2013 at 19:26

Posted in UK news

Cameron: Onwards Christians, soldiers

All Prime Minister David Cameron wants for Christmas is to be loved by his core constituents, so he’s decided to big up his previously ambivalent Christian faith, and mix it in with cheerleading for Our Boys, and damn the theological consequences! In his Christmas message, Cameron told Tory voters:

The Gospel of John tells us that [Jesus] was life, and that his life was the light of all mankind, and that he came with grace, truth and love. Indeed, God’s word reminds us that Jesus was the Prince of Peace. With that in mind, I would like to pay particular tribute to our brave servicemen and women who are overseas helping bring safety and security to all of us at home.

‘With that in mind’..? Sorry, what? Which exact argument has ‘Jesus’ as a premise, and ‘war in Aghanistan’ as its conclusion?

Clearly Dave was channeling one of Jesus’s most famous sayings: ‘when you are slapped on the cheek, you will realise that you’re an arse.’

A belated Merry Christmas, dear Headline Superheroes readers.

Written by Statto and Tom

December 29, 2012 at 20:45

How breaking news is breaking news

The Leveson Inquiry. Remember that? Probably not: it was, like, 1280 news-years ago.

Lord Justice Leveson spent over a year compiling a report into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, and it was finally released as the Leveson Report on 29th November. It exposed over-cosy relationships, slapped the back of phone hackers’ hands, and generally highlighted flagrant abuses in the media. However, the report failed to consider some of the structural problems with ‘news’ as a concept. Allow us to demonstrate how it has inadvertently proved them.

One of the chief problems is the perceived need for ‘timeliness’. This has been elevated to a ludicrous parody of itself by rolling 24-hour news networks and websites; indeed, the very newspaper whose searchlight on tabloid reporting practices kicked off Lord Leveson’s quest recently started live-blogging children’s funerals.

That news must be new might seem harmless, sensible or even tautological, but this narrow-minded definition precludes in-depth analysis of anything which takes more than two minutes to understand (ie most things), and denies front-page publicity to any problem which is chronic rather than acute.

To take the example of the Leveson Inquiry itself, this is a graph showing the number of articles on Google News containing the words ‘Leveson Inquiry’, sorted by date.

Grab a nearby physicist, get them to do a simple bit of curve-fitting, and they’ll tell you the ‘half-life’ of this news story: 0.67 days. After just 16 hours, the number of news stories about Leveson halved; after another 16 hours, that number halved again, and so on.*

So, naturally, one might estimate how long it would take to read the Leveson Report: clocking in at 2000 pages, four volumes, and over 1,000,000 words (a snip at just £250 to buy from The Stationery Office), it would take someone reading at 200 words per minute for twelve hours a day seven days to digest the lot.

Whilst it’s a bit facile to suggest that you have to read every word of something before you can comment on its conclusions, Leveson’s document might be worth revisiting after some more thorough reading. Few, it seems, have bothered to do so. Similarly, the problems detailed by the report are chronic: the tug-o’-war between press freedom and freedom not to read made-up shit in newspapers whilst having one’s private information filched is ongoing, but ‘the media’ can barely be bothered to report on it except in the immediate aftermath of some ‘newsworthy’ event.

If ‘news’ seeks to better inform us about the world we live in, then this obsession with novelty needs to wither: we need ‘intelligent, contemplative write-up of the Leveson Inquiry’, rather than ‘Prime Minister in theatrical coalition punch-up over statutory press regulation, analysis of which we shall not deign to provide’; we want ‘the complex economic and environmental cases for wind and nuclear’ instead of ‘Tories in theatrical coalition punch-up over minister’s stupid comments about wind farms’; and, more broadly, ‘civil war and famine still going on’ rather than ‘man claims to have heard other man insult policeman’.

Roughly one hundred times more people die from malaria globally than shootings in the US, and yet Google News returns 39,000 results for ‘malaria’, and six million results for the words ‘gun control’, in spite of the latter being quite a specific turn of phrase which probably doesn’t make it into every article about guns. So, in some sense, that ratio is over fifteen thousand times out of proportion. Sadly for malaria victims, their several thousand deaths a day are geographically dispersed, symptomatically similar, and boring.

Such is the allure of current affairs that even we chose to base this article about an endemic and ongoing issue on a hook from the recent past, albeit one which the rest of the press hasn’t written about in so long that this article will form a spike on our own damned graph, completing the circle of self-awareness. If only the media had one of those.

* Note that this analysis actually underestimates the capriciousness of the news, because many of those early articles were top stories, trumpeting Leveson’s launch from front pages, whilst those published later are tucked away on page nineteen of the print copy, or obscure news blogs.

Written by Statto and Tom

December 18, 2012 at 14:11

The -ese of fixing headlines

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.

BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20234596 as of 1634GMT, 7 November

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.

Written by Tom and Statto

November 7, 2012 at 17:27

Jimmy’S a vile man

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.

Written by Statto and Tom

October 13, 2012 at 12:45

Posted in BBC, paedos, tabloids, UK news

Tory bashing: Grayling’s Dreddful proposal

New Justice Secretary and all-round tough guy Chris Grayling has used his platform at the Tory party conference to promote plans to permit the pummelling of fellow citizens for trespassing on one’s property. ‘If you act in a disproportionate way,’ Grayling reassures the baseball-bat-wielding homeowners of middle England, ‘the law will be on your side.’

Whilst condoning assault on burglars, Grayling also appears to be committing an assault against the English language. Disproportionate force is, by definition, unacceptable; redefining what’s legal simply changes what we consider ‘proportionate’. If we let it, this issue could spiral out of control (not to mention proportion), with Grayling sitting in the middle of a vortex of vocabulary, first beating and, soon, beheading anyone challenging his dominion over this legal singularity. But I suppose you can’t get people out of your house by using logical reasoning. Especially if you’re incapable of logical reasoning.

And there are no worries about Grayling having any of that. Like an exam board desperately trying to differentiate high-flying students with top grades of A-double-star-plus, the law would award overachieving home-defending psychos the adverb-laden accolade of ‘grossly disproportionate’. Grayling explains:

But if you act in a grossly disproportionate way?… I think if the burglar is out cold on the floor and you then stick a knife into him, that, in my judgment would be grossly disproportionate.

Well, it’s good to know that his judgment is reasonable.

Hang on…what? Is stabbing a defenceless person in cold blood really the first example of a disproportionately disproportionate response which would cross his presumably-briefed mind? It would be most enlightening to know what he could come up with in the heat of a burglary. Probably a first-draft screenplay for Saw VII.

So, is the punishment of disproportionately violent self-defence really an issue? Well, no. According to the BBC, just 0.47 people a year are prosecuted for this kind of burglar-bashing. This gives you an approximately 0.0000007% chance of being afflicted by such a prosecution this year. The good news is that you’re ten times more likely to win the lottery this weekend with a single ticket; the bad news is that there’s a 99.9999993% chance that this might just be whipping up a grossly disproportionate level of media attention for an issue that would have been better left out cold at the foot of the stairs.

Continuing economic crisis? Cutting of cancer, heart disease and stroke doctors? Hilariously mishandled privatised transport auction procedure? Look, over here, someone in 2008, jailed after using a cricket bat on intruders, was later released! Important political issue of the day: identified.

Written by Statto and Tom

October 9, 2012 at 14:43

Posted in legal, politics, UK news