The Loop: Where's the beef?

Piece of beef

Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.

For Popeye it was spinach. For Robert Oberst it's steak. Three-and-a-half pounds of it. A day - although he's allowed one day off a month. Oberst, a 28.5 stone (181kg) hulk with a wild beard, is one of the strongmen that the Magazine featured this week. A couple of readers are pretty impressed by his carnivorous diet. "If I could eat that much meat a day I would be SOOO happy..." tweets Nerdykanuk.

Other readers are alarmed about the potential long-term effects of the diet. ‏Tenrai tweets, "Great, while waiting for your first myocardial infraction - it's just around the corner! - you should try jello!" In answer to the question posed in the headline, "What is life like as a 'strongman'?", Sean Breen writes, "What's it like? From that information I'd say two words: unhealthy/short." And, clearly thinking about the sailor-man, himself, Barry Honeycombe ‏reminds readers "that there are plant-based athletes too!".

This week, the Magazine told the story of Paulo Henrique Machado, who has lived almost his entire life in hospital. Machado suffered paralysis brought on by polio when he was a baby, and he is still hooked up to an artificial respirator 24 hours a day. In a neighbouring bed is Eliana Zagui, whom he says is like a sister to him. "Every day, when I wake up I have the certainty that my strength is over there - Eliana. And it's reciprocated. I trust her and she trusts me."

Machado has trained as a computer animator and is now creating a television series about his life. Michelle Clarke tweets: "Remarkable. Creator of animation w/out bitterness & sense of wonder & imagination," while Lee Therriault says, "Amazing, the pair of them. Seems each is crucial to the other's survival."

For Larisse Carvalho the pair's story is cause for wider reflection. "As they said we have everything and most of the times we don't appreciate things as we should," she writes.

Magazine does appreciate, however, the extra mileage the story was given by the Daily Mail, the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post.

Phrase of the day on Thursday appeared to be "a Magnitogorsk-like fug of carcinogens" to describe pub beer gardens in the post-smoking ban era. Thanks to Simon Knock and Asif Mazumder who nominate it thus, in separate tweets. The phrase - mentioned by seven other people - can be found in Magazine's article asking whether beer gardens had become no-go areas for non-smokers in the summer. Gary Davison's bug-bear is smokers in the pub doorway, rather than the garden. "I'd rather someone sat at a table in a garden smoking away from me, rather than standing in the pub doorway where everyone walking in or out has to inhale their fumes!"

Many readers don't consider smoking in pub gardens an issue at all. James Taylor writes that, "as long as smokers don't push smoke in my face I'm happy to be around them. Most of my friends are smokers". Jim insists there are upsides: "Smirting" (we think that's a mash-up of "smoking" and "flirting") "is definitely the best consequence of the smoking ban," he says. Chris Horner writes, "I hate smoking but I think this article is ridiculous. I've been out in a few beer gardens recently and haven't noticed the smoke." Mark Suede confesses to having "very mixed feelings about this. I don't have an issue in particular with smokers, and certainly not with those who decide to smoke out in the open in places like beer gardens. The idea there is some sort of 'fug' created in the outside by smokers is a total nonsense". Okay, but maybe in Russia - in Magnitogorsk, perhaps?

After the news that hundreds of passengers had been stranded in a broken-down First Great Western train at the weekend, Monitor suggested five-and-a-half ways to make the five-and-a-half hour delay more tolerable. In response came this email - so spare a thought for Gareth:

"A five-and-a-half hour train delay? That's a mere heartbeat. We're stuck behind a broken lock on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal - the delay is expected to be between four and fourteen days."

Monitor's article on how many times Dr Who can regenerate has, er, generated a massive response, including a number of readers who take issue with this phrase: "Capaldi is the 12th Doctor, so does this mean he's the penultimate?"

"First off, Capaldi is not the 'penultimate' regeneration. The process of regenerating means going from 1 > 2, the > is the actual regeneration which means 13 doctors, not 12 - we didn't start with a 0 Doctor. Now, Capaldi might actually be the penultimate regeneration IF John Hurt turns out to be a missing Doctor in the 50th, but it won't be because he's the 12th," writes Wyatte from Washington DC.

Doctor Who fans are divided on whether Capaldi is the penultimate or last Doctor - Magazine hopes this schism doesn't develop into a conflict as deadly as that the Doctor encountered between the Servateem and the Tesh, or for that matter the war between humans and the Hath on the planet Messaline.

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