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Popular Elsewhere

17:23 UK time, Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

NPR's most read story looks at the science behind what makes things annoying. For instance, why is hearing someone else's phone call more irritating than just overhearing a normal conversation? The piece explains the problem with a phone conversation is you only hear half of it so your brain tries to predict the other side but often fails. Although there are pet hates there are generic things that annoy everyone - sudden changes in volume and a range of frequencies - like nails down a blackboard.

The New York Times' most e-mailed story looks at the risks a CNN newsreader took when he came out as gay. Don Lemon made the revelation in his autobiography. The article says he hadn't hidden his sexuality but was still scared to talk about it in public saying "It's about the worst thing you can be in black culture." He goes on to explain "you're taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away."

A popular comment piece in the Guardian retells columnist Ian Birrell's Twitter "spat" with the president of Rwanda. Birrell says Mr Kagame had replied personally to his tweet criticising an interview in the Financial Times with the president. Birrell calls their exchange about human rights "all slightly surreal". But, among Birrell's accusations of Kagame's leadership, he also seems perturbed by the style the president used. Birrell noted that both "his missives to me were peppered with the sort of text abbreviations used by teenagers" and "His tweets were heavy with exclamation marks."

Slate's most read story is asking why there seem to be more natural disasters and technological crises this century. Among the potential, but improbable, risks to come it lists the risk of electromagnetic pulses being used as a terrorist's weapon, as well as geologists' warnings that a storm could turn California's Central Valley into a "bathtub". The article advices "normal" people not to worry saying "a key element of maintaining one's sanity is knowing how to ignore risks that are highly improbable at any given point in time".

This summer Hollywood is betting on a record 27 film sequels according to the Daily Beast's most read article. It goes on to say that there will be the highest number of fourth sequels ever including Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; Scream 4; Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World. Film critic Roger Ebert argues that sequels threaten to kill the film industry because they demonstrate that "a majority of modern big-studio releases are marketing decisions yoked however reluctantly to creative ideas somewhere farther down the food chain".

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