Archive for the ‘BBC’ category

The planes in Ukraine fall mainly when hit by missiles

Amid the continued ‘did they, didn’t they, of course they did, will they admit it’ Ukraine plane blame game, the BBC today reports that:

UK government sources say intelligence shows rebels deliberately tampered with evidence, moving bodies and placing parts from other planes in the debris.

The separatists must have a pretty unrealistically low opinion of Western investigators who surely have, y’know, some information about what to expect in terms of bits from a Boeing 777:

Investigator A: Sir, I’ve found the left propeller.
Investigator B: This was a jet.
A: I see…so I guess the fact that I’ve located the primary torpedo tube isn’t going to help either?
B: …A passenger jet. So, to recap, the evidence we’ve gathered so far seems to be a tape recorder with ‘black bocks’ written on it, an effeminately-dressed mannequin with President Obama’s face, and the spoiler from a 1997 Renault Megane.
A: Sir?
B: Yes?
A: Planes don’t normally have a snowplough with a Soviet flag on it, right?
B: To be honest, son, I’m not even sure what a plane is any more.

Written by Statto and Tom

July 23, 2014 at 21:39

Posted in BBC, international news

Dieu et mon droid: UK to develop robot strategy


A very British robot. Image Creative Commons Dave King/D J Shin/csaga

We’re broadly in favour of spending more on science and technology research here at Headline Superheroes, and it therefore comes as good news that the government is thinking of creating a unified UK robot strategy. Whilst this may sound like futuristic military posturing, it will actually involve research into automating processes. Sorry, that was really boring: WOOO!!! Robots!!!

However, the narrow-minded obsession with economic impacts in Westminster means that justification even of inherently awesome robot research must be drenched in cost–benefit bullshit. Take this quote, from Prof David Lane of Heriot-Watt University, lead author of the proposal:

With the right course of action, we believe the UK could achieve 10% of the global [robot] market share by 2025.

We can only assume that the researchers in question consulted their almanac of global markets for products which don’t even really exist yet, and tried to work out how many of those as-yet-undeveloped things we might be able to sell as a fraction of that unknown market, on the basis of absolutely nothing. And luckily it came out as 10%, which is nice and round.

The article also skips the thorny issue of what can be classified as a robot, on a scale which runs approximately from electric toothbrushes to C-3PO.

If the UK were to lead the world in automated bread-toasting technology, would that count? Voice-controlled dishwashers with GPS? (‘It looks like you’re trying to wash some dishes! Your current latitude is 51.7 degrees. Congratulations! You have the 371,023rd most northerly set of IKEA Färgrik dinnerware.’) Or does it have to be an entirely autonomous search-and-destroy warbot equipped with thrusters enabling short-distance flight, hyperspectral threat detection, and five cleaning programmes boasting enviably low water consumption? (‘It looks like you’re considering rebelling against the UK robot hegemony! Here, let me wash those sporks for you! Also, nice latitude!’)

‘The UK could lead the world in robots,’ the report’s authors say. Let’s hope we’re riding into battle bestride Megazords, rather than sitting, bored but slightly wealthier, on the invoices for 10% of the world’s toasters.

Written by Statto and Tom

July 1, 2014 at 23:42

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

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: 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

Headline Superheroes Assemble: Round 2

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!

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

Aphrodisiac attack wife convicted

Her husband shakingly testified that she had smashed through the window, unleashing a volley of oysters, dark chocolate and tiger penis.

Fire extinguisher student is paying too high a price for his idiocy

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.

Gunshot man’s ‘execution’ death

For when ‘Man shot’ just doesn’t cut the mustard. Also a plot synopsis for the new Judge Dredd movie.

‘Rest break’ death ambulance technician keeps job

‘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.

Outcry over disowned US rape girl

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 was ‘self defence’

Hartlepool stab death man story editor was ‘poor standard of English’.

Baby wipe horror man admonished

‘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: Pervert yeti stalked me

Bikini Girl was forced to call upon the declarative powers of Pervert Yeti’s arch-nemesis, Sex Claim Man (remember him?).

Noisy sex woman admits ASBO breach

‘Yes! Oh, yes! Yes!’ Noisy Sex Woman told the court on being asked if she’d breached her ASBO.

Slough sausage choke baby death woman jailed

Baby Death Woman wowed a capacity crowd with her signature move, the Slough Sausage Choke.

Death explosion man ‘devastated’

Explosions do tend to be quite devastating. Whatever the case, keep your distance, or this guy might death explode.

US Skype death soldier Bruce Kevin Clark ‘not shot’

Skype Death Soldier’s powers include killing the conversation and causing fatal exceptions in VoIP software.

Prison for anti-freeze drink man

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.

Murder girl parents’ India trip

I bet Murder Girl Parents were proud to have their holiday summed up succinctly with just five nouns and one possessive apostrophe.

Electrocution death firm cleared

…of electrocution death bodies.

Still no clue over bath death man

…headline choice.

‘UDA were behind boy bat attack’

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.

Banknote fetish man gets jail sentence cut on appeal

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the headline superheroes, it’s that we’d appeal against the cutting of sentences.

Written by Tom and Statto

September 18, 2012 at 17:40

Time wasted as procrasti-nation speaks

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.

Written by Tom and Statto

August 30, 2012 at 12:27

Posted in BBC

BBC’s GCS-ease

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:

  • Exams have been getting easier, and the students have got even stupider than exam simplification could alleviate; or
  • Man-made climate change is a myth.

Either way, Tory success! We finally made the kids look stupid! YAY!

Written by Statto and Tom

August 23, 2012 at 13:34

Posted in BBC, UK news

Econo-mix metaphors

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?

Written by Tom and Statto

August 8, 2012 at 13:14

Posted in BBC, economics

There’s Norway that’s relevant

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?

Written by Statto and Tom

May 1, 2012 at 22:58

Posted in BBC, relevance creep

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