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Archives for October 2, 2011 - October 8, 2011

10 things we didn't know last week

16:37 UK time, Friday, 7 October 2011

Wasps on apple

Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. TV satellite dishes in the UK mainly point southeast - and so can be used to orientate the lost.
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2. Hummus comes in pizza, peanut butter and chocolate mousse flavours in the US.
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3. A typical restaurant throws away 21 tonnes of food every year - partly because Brits are loath to ask for doggy bags.
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4. Preston bus station joins the Nazca Lines in Peru and a Greek cemetery on this year's list of at-risk cultural heritage sites.
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5. Steve Jobs studied calligraphy.
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6. Doritos take their name from the Spanish for "little golden".
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7. Cream tea in Devon is scone topped with clotted cream then jam. In Cornwall, the order of jam and cream are reversed.
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8. Dancing With The Stars contestants in Argentina can get naked.
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9. The optimum cooking time for a soft boiled egg suitable for dunking toast soldiers is a full six minutes.
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10. The first e-book, back in the 1970s, was the US Declaration of Independence.
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Steve Swift for this week's picture of 10 wasps on an apple.

Your Letters

14:52 UK time, Friday, 7 October 2011

Sorry, but in this story the phrase "Caught on camera" is a bit steep when next to "a little digital processing was required". That is not caught on camera, that is CGI.
Adrian, London, UK

Oh no! Did anyone else read this headline: "UK banks hit by Moody's downgrade" and assume the England rugby squad were causing mayhem on a whole new level?
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Does this "Quadruple rainbow caught on film for the first time" have four pots of gold?
Andrew, Malvern, UK

There is, of course, a seventh way never to get lost in a city. I always look to see where the sun is to get a sense of direction. But then I live in Australia, not in cloudy Europe. I'll get my sunglasses and hat.
Mary, Sydney, Australia

If you're lost in a city why would you follow the flow of people when you could just ask one of them for directions?
Paula, Canterbury

Perhaps Vin de Loue (Thursday's Letters) should visit the US, where we are very familiar with curry. Presumably the reference to "world's hottest chili" refers to the chili pepper or chili powder that is an ingredient in curry and makes it hot.
Jenny, Chicago

Vin de Loue (Thursday's Letters) - one cannot force nominative determinism.
Rusty, Montreal, Canada

No, I'm drunk girl and so is my wife.
Tim Granger, Cambridge

Popular Elsewhere

14:40 UK time, Friday, 7 October 2011

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

Telegraph headline
If you want to know what "internet sensation" means in cold hard numbers, the Telegraph is here to help. A video of a group of eight and 10-year-olds covering a Metallica song have become said internet sensation according to the paper's popular article. The numbers: 350,000 hits in the first four days.

Times headline
The Times' popular Celebrity Watch never fails to have a humorous simile. This week's compares the now defunct partnership of actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, 15 years her junior, as being as wrong as a marriage between a moose and a wardrobe.

Also on its radar is "singers" Jedward's outrageous column in OK magazine. They don't pull any punches (or make any sense) when they say they will request Jermaine Jackson to give them a shout-out at the trial over Michael Jackson's death.

New York Times
The New York Times most read list, normally full of opinion pieces on government policy is today taken over by tributes and tales about Steve Jobs who has died. That is, apart from one story about dogs flying in planes. Well, it's more about dogs not flying on planes.

So many snub nosed dogs have died on US flights that they are now banned on most airlines. So now an airline called Pet Jets has started just to fly pets. Really.

Washington Post headline
Jokes about physics. They do exist. No honestly. Here's one about the discovery of neutrinos in a popular Washington Post article:

"We don't allow faster-than-light neutrinos in here," says the bartender
A neutrino walks into a bar.

Wired headline
From the speed of light to the speed of learning over at a popular Wired magazine article. Recent research shows that people learn faster if they focus on their mistakes. Which all leads to the question: how do you praise children. It says, the less you say "you must be smart at this" and the more you say "you must have worked really hard," the better.

Caption Competition

13:16 UK time, Friday, 7 October 2011


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

Bicycle-riding robot

This week it was bicycle-riding robot Murata Boy performing during a demonstration at Japan's biggest consumer electronics show in Chiba, near Tokyo.

Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Vicky S: It was Gulliver's dream to persuade the Lilliputians to abandon their cars for more carbon friendly transport.

5. Pendragon:
It looks good, but where are we going to fit the pizzas?

4. Gray Gable:
Each day, after the end of filming, the Star Wars crew just mucked around.

3. SkarloeyLine:
Top Gear first victim of "smaller BBC".

2. SimonRooke:
Unfortunately he later failed a drugs test when testing positive for WD40.

1. Bainbo:The Imperial Stormtroopers could no longer deny the effects of the military spending cuts.

Paper Monitor

12:15 UK time, Friday, 7 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

And so the row rumbles on. The papers are like dogs with bones over this cabinet cat fight, which Paper Monitor pre-empted - sort of. The claws are out again and they are waiting to pounce on every twist and turn.

To recap, it all began at the Conservative party conference when the Home Secretary Theresa May declared that an illegal immigrant could not be deported because he had a pet cat.

This was roundly dismissed by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who has had several pops at her "laughable and child-like" examples of the Human Rights Act. He issued a statement of regret yesterday for his "colourful language".

The papers have been digging the dirt, with some claiming the home secretary was right, while others saying the cat was only part of the tale.

The Daily Telegraph claims it has uncovered the crime which the cat owner committed - he was apparently cautioned for shoplifting, which is not a deportable offence. The plot thickens.

The paper has even taken the time to construct a time line. While obviously the split in the Tory party over the Human Rights Act is of major importance, the papers are also relishing the opportunity to roll out the feline-related puns. The Sun has gone for "A Paw Show", while the Daily Mirror went with "Oooh Catty!".

But the Sun has the best evidence that the row is rumbling on. While talking to youths in south London yesterday, May was snapped drinking tea from a mug which had a picture of a cat on it. She was also wearing a pair of leopard-print pumps. It doesn't get much more purr-fect.

It is also getting pretty catty on the X Factor. All the tabloids are talking about a "slaughter" on this weekend's live shows, where a quarter of the remaining 16 wannabes will be sent home.

But the "brutal twist" is that the decision will be made by their mentors.

Paper Monitor thinks this is a clear breach of the contestants' human rights and can see a whole new fight occupying the papers next week. Let's just hope one of them has a much-loved pet.

Your Letters

15:59 UK time, Thursday, 6 October 2011

Why has an ostensibly curry-eating contest been described by so many on-line British newspapers - including this one - as a "chilli-eating contest"? Is this because the target audience of ALL online English-language news output is in the US where no-one is presumed to have heard of curry? Shame on you all.
Vin de Loue, Marlow, UK

Re: Six ways to never get lost in a city again. What, navigating using your brain and things you can see, rather than a multi billion pound satellite network - that's just crazy talk!
Gordon Stewardson @BBC News Magazine

Another unfortunate case of nominitive determinism for the unlucky curry eater.
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

Does this really show how fish evolved to live on land? To me it shows how fish attempt to get back into the water.
Tom Webb, Surbiton, UK

Re: House prices lacking direction, says the Halifax. Really? Might I be permitted to suggest one?
Sue, London

Clare (Wednesday's Letters), I disagree with Cindy's article, and have no wish to "manage my online presence". I am happy with my values and on the whole keep to them, but some people would violently disagree with my opinions. I think a total lack of privacy would make people even more hypocritical - eager to show that they think the 'right' way.
I am more complex than a webpage, have more dimensions than a blog and more character than a Twitter. I am not defined purely by my actions, but also by my relationships and each relationship is unique. If you want to know me, you would have to live with me, not Google me.
Andrew, Malvern, UK

Thank goodness we're possibly doing away with privacy. I would like to claim my rights to royalty money for every time the BBC has published my photo to illustrate drunken misdemeanors - that's me, just above the picture of Mark Zuckerberg. Please form an orderly queue behind me.
Ross, London

Popular Elsewhere

14:42 UK time, Thursday, 6 October 2011

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

While the majority of the most read stories are tributes after the death of Steve Jobs we take a look the other stories are attracting readers.

Now Sarah Palin has announced she isn't running for US president, it seems Vladimir Putin may be stealing her position as politician who readers gravitate towards.
The Guardian's most read list is dominated by the news of co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs the only exception is a story about, you guessed it, Mr Putin.

Lately the Russian prime minister's action poses have been getting a lot of attention. But the popular Guardian article says his office have admitted one such pose - where he remarkably discovers an ancient Greek urn - was staged. So that means he didn't find two fragments of 6th Century BC amphorae in about two metres (six feet) of clear water.

Royal stories are often a winner with Telegraph readers. But the tale of two princesses - one Princess Beatrice, the other Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana - also has a clash. For, the paper says, when Princess Sirivannavari tried to approach Beatrice at Paris Fashion week she was told by Beatrice's guard that "She don't want to meet no princesses".

A cat leading an RSPCA officer to her thirsty kittens is a big hit with Daily Mail readers. This is unusual, Inspector Jon Knight insures in the article. As well as the obligatory pictures of the two, and her reunited with the kittens is a new word for miaowing: Mewling.

The only thing after cats to consistently draw in the readers is stories of Hitler. This one from Slate isn't so much about him but about what people talked of before him. Who, it asks, was used as shorthand for an evil ruler. It suggests people delved quite a far way back for a universal symbol for evil - the Egyptian Pharaoh of Exodus.

Finally, Huffington Post readers are finding out if they are clever enough to be allowed into Oxford University. That's because previous interview questions have been released. See if you can get your heads around these brain teasers:
Why are both ladybirds and strawberries red?
If the punishment for parking on double yellow lines were death, and therefore nobody did it, would that be a just and effective law?

Paper Monitor

13:09 UK time, Thursday, 6 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor likes attention to detail.

Take the story of 25-year-old Goudarz Karimi, a PhD student in Oxford, who was stopped by police while wearing a weighted vest.

A concerned citizen had thought the runner's attire might be an explosive suicide vest so the police stopped him.

A number of papers have the story, but don't bother to tell us what the vest was.

The Daily Telegraph finally assuages Paper Monitor's curiosity. It's a training vest, of a type used by Prince Harry to prepare for his Arctic trek.

Now the story makes sense.

There's attention to detail elsewhere. Primal Scream released a rather irked press release at the suggestion that Rocks had been played at the end of Home Secretary Theresa May's speech at the Conservative conference.

This was roundly denied by conference organisers and some of the papers helpfully provide the Rocks lyrics that might mitigate against its choice - "whores keep whorin', junkies keep scorin'" - by a home secretary.

It is reported that the actual choice of song was Bohemian Like You by the Dandy Warhols.

Paper Monitor's eye for detail also wanders over the Independent. They have an extraordinary picture of a big stag.

It's mouth is a yawning gap of uniform black. It looks, well, rather unlike the usual inside of a mouth.

Popular Elsewhere

14:34 UK time, Wednesday, 5 October 2011

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

New York Times headline

Readers of a lot of news sites continue to gravitate towards reports of Amanda Knox's return to the US, not least the Telegraph's claim that she is returning to become a "celebrity millionaire".

The story is mysteriously unpopular with New York Times readers. They are clicking instead on a very in depth article about what slime can tell us about evolution, maths and even making music. It turns out slime mold has a very complex structure and the study of it has helped answer difficult maths and software design questions. That's if you can bear getting close enough to it.

Metro headline

Metro readers prefer to track the movements of ex-glamour model Jody Marsh. She's a glamour model no more however - as Marsh has become a body builder. It's not surprising to hear it's all in aid of a reality TV show. And it's not the first extreme show she's been the star of. Among her previous forays she was followed in her attempt to become a tattoo artist.
Slate headline

Slate readers question how many racist place names are there in the US after it has emerged US presidential candidate Rick Perry owns a hunting camp in Texas with a dubious name. While Slate's Brian Palmer puts the number in the hundreds, he is necessarily vague as, he says, varying levels of sensitivity corrupt the figures. But Palmer says people should see a racist place name as an opportunity. That's because in many places if you can come up with a viable alternative, like a relative's name, then you can get the place name changed.
Daily Beast headline

Daily Beast readers are clicking on a story of an author's dilemma. Sam Harris says a lot of books can be written in 60 pages are bulked up to 600 pages. That's because publishers can't put a high enough price on short books for them to make economic sense. So off to the Kindle he went, to publish his latest short book. But he came across complaints that his blog was free so why should people pay for his work. Harris says he wants to know how he and other authors are going to get paid.

Your Letters

14:21 UK time, Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I agree with Cindy - this is the future. Like it or not - this is the way it is going. I am looking forward to it because it will make the world more colourful. Eventually politicians will cotton on too and then we will get better leaders people who are allowed to be openly flawed. I am very excited by this article. It gives me hope.
Clare Macnaughton @BBC News Magazine

If ever there was a need for a photograph, it's number 22 on this list.
Jill B., Detroit, USA

On my upper arm I now have the Essex County Cricket Club crest with "100% Essex Girl" written underneath it. Classy. Really classy.
Brian Martin @BBC News Magazine

It was a nice touch that the family tossed Doritos chips in before they put the dirt over the urn.
Candace Sleeman @BBC News Magazine

And the award for most blatant shoehorning in of drunk girl goes to this story.
Ed, Wakefield

Doing away with privacy? Really? You mean we may finally find out her real name?
Jez, London

Was the third photo down in the story about doing away with privacy put in just to prompt lots of letters to the Magazine?
Liam, Cambridge, UK

Paper Monitor

10:02 UK time, Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sometimes Paper Monitor is so on top of the daily papers it's actually ahead of them.

Just take yesterday's column and its reference to not getting "catty" about issues.

It's almost as if Paper Monitor knew felines were going to end up centre stage at the Conservative Party Conference, prompting every cat pun on the planet to be featured in today's papers.

The "cat fight" is over Theresa May's big speech calling into question the Human Rights Act. During it she claimed that in one case an illegal immigrant had not been deported because he had a pet cat.

The home secretary said a judge had argued that the fact the Bolivian man and his partner had bought the animal - called Maya - proved the "strength and quality" of their family life.

But after the speech Justice Secretary Ken Clarke accused May of "misrepresenting" the Human Rights Act. He even offered her a bet that she was talking nonsense.

"Tory claws out in row over migrants pet", trumpets the Sun. Its coverage includes the vital fact that May was wearing kitten heels as she delivered her speech, adding:

"The bust-up was immediately dubbed the battle of the kitten heels versus the Hush Puppies."

The Daily Telegraph says the two got involved in a "cat flap", the Independent says fur flew between Clarke and May and the Daily Mail has dubbed it "cat-gate".

But it's the Guardian that goes a step further and throws another animal into the mix with "Clarke mocks May as cat fight over human rights dogs the Tories". Ho ho.

The Daily Mirror, however, is preoccupied with another story. It is one of sabotage, a classic whodunit which has left the victim "extremely shaken" and in tears.

It seems someone ripped the hemline of Nancy Dell'Olio's green ballgown just before her performance on Strictly Come Dancing at the weekend. They also poured some water on it. The paper has fellow contestant Edwina Currie, sharp-tongued judge Craig Revel Horwood and former "love rival" Ulrika Jonsson among its list of suspects.

Ever the professional, Dell'Olio went on with the show but felt the incident "badly hampered her dance". That's the dance where she tripped over her feather boa and was awarded just 12 points out of 40 by the judges.

Now, Paper Monitor is no detective but is hazarding a guess that two left feet might have actually been the culprits of that poor performance.

Your Letters

15:27 UK time, Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Because of the break in the line on this story I read "24. I have three tattoos, one on each shoulder" and thought that probably the tattoos were the least of her problems.
Basil Long, Nottingham

This has to be the most unfortunate case of nominitive determinism this week. My sympathies go to the police officer who had to complete the paperwork...
Fi, Gloucestershire, UK

In a similar vein to John K's letter (Monday letters), I was told you could pronounce the word "GHOTI" as "FISH" - the GH as in couGH, the O as in wOmen and the TI as in loTIon. Ah well. I'll get my mankini (it's still hot today)!
Paul Morris, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Devon

Re John K: My brother was once asked by an American tourist if he knew the way to Lugubberuff
Anne R, Fareham, UK

And this is why basic astronomy should be compulsory.
Adrian, London, UK

Bit confused, I must say. What is Thomas the Tank Engine doing working as a robot? (see second picture on this).
Anon, UK

Popular Elsewhere

14:54 UK time, Tuesday, 4 October 2011

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

Among the Conservative Party conference stories on the Guardian's most read political stories is the eye catching question: Can owning a cat be grounds for deportation? The article comes after Theresa May claimed that an illegal immigrant was able to use the Human Rights Act to appeal against his deportation because he had a cat. But Polly Curtis's Reality Check says this wasn't true. She says it's all got confused: The cat in question was used as proof in court of a stable relationship - not the reason for allowing someone to stay.

New York Times readers are emailing round an article trying to work out how yoga became about physical exertion and seemingly infinite accessories. It used to be spiritual, not about moving at all, really. That's what the biographer of the man who introduced yoga to the US. "Precious few of the estimated 16 million supple, spandex-clad yoginis in the United States, who sustain an annual $6bon industry, seem to have a clue that they owe their yoga mats to Vivekananda," notes Ann Louise Bardach. She adds "enriching this irony was Vivekananda's utter lack of interest in physical exertions beyond marathon sitting meditations".

Daily Mail readers are not alone in their apparently insatiable attitude for details about Amanda Knox's appeal. But they do take a break from the story to check out awkward wedding pictures. Cue strange embraces and unfortunate backgrounds.

Meanwhile, The Times' readers are also catching up on embarrassing photos, albeit for different reasons. Filipino officials have been caught out having photoshopped themselves at a disaster scene after a typhoon. After uploading the picture on Facebook, it became a hit with bloggers who placed the men in Abbey Road and even the moon.

Paper Monitor

14:03 UK time, Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Obviously, as this is a column that celebrates Fleet Street, it would be wrong to get all catty.

But it would be remiss of us not to notice that a certain mid-market newspaper website is getting a flaming in the Twittersphere for wrongly running a guilty backgrounder... in a notable appeal case.

It's not really the error that is really getting everybody going, but the... well, suffice it to say Paper Monitor assumes that the person responsible will not be feeling the need to attend the University of East Anglia's celebrated creative writing course any time soon.

Moving on, and Paper Monitor must draw attention to something that was in yesterday's papers. Something that rather intrigued Paper Monitor.

The Guardian's Kira Cochrane did an interview with James Corden. So far, so boring, you might say. But you'd be wrong.

Paper Monitor has never liked interviews with celebrities. Usually the bigger the celebrity, the lesser the insight.

These celebs - from A-list down - do "junkets" where the media queues up for interviews in order that said celeb may promote something - book, film, play, album etc.

Obviously, the implication is that said celeb would never agree to meet a grubby journalist and do an interview

Now if you were to go and speak to Lars von Trier you might have a reasonable hope he would say something newsworthy. But most of the celebs - with their PR minders - are buttoned up tighter than a very tightly buttoned thing.

You can only cringe as the feature writer is reduced to describing what the venue was like - usually a central London posh hotel. The carpet is plush, the doorknobs are shiny and the croissants are exceptionally buttery.

It's desperate stuff. And very hard for the newspaper to bill in any way worth billing.

Cochrane's interview does not start well. The sub who's handled it has picked out the following quote:

"I'm not sure people even think of me as an actor at all"

Now that, as one probably doesn't need to point out, is an exceedingly boring quote. As Muhammad Ali once told George Foreman: "Is that all you got?"

But then the interview shapes into something rather good. Cochrane really does a bang up job.

She should have a word with the sub though.

Your Letters

17:15 UK time, Monday, 3 October 2011

I was recently travelling through a European airport when I noticed two signs at adjacent passport control desks; one read "EU Passports Only" and the other "All Passports". Surely the latter should have read "Any Passport"? My ensuing query appeared to be lost on the officer behind the desk, one can only conclude he is not a Monitorite.
Graeme Dixon, Guildford, Surrey UK

Thanks for yet another picture of a fat man wearing not enough clothes. Every time you do this (there was at least one last week), I can't face food for the rest of the day, and lose a pound or so.
John Bratby, Southampton

Wow, the world would not be complete without a "humming Oyster Toadfish".
Susan, Newcastle

So, the country that is famous for pastries, bacon and butter introduces a tax on fat? I can understand why the Danes are complaining!
Basil Long, Nottingham

Bend your knees and not your back!
Henri, Sidcup

A German colleague of my brother pronuounced Loughborough as "Low-ger-ber-ow-ger". Perfectly logical and totally wrong!
John K, Devon

Paper Monitor

15:20 UK time, Monday, 3 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It is a commonly held view in the world of journalists that whatever you think about the stuff the Daily Mail gets up to, you can't disagree that they do it with genius.

Sometimes it's the little touches such as in today's paper where Janet Street Porter compares Chris Huhne's partner Carina Trimingham with Wendolene out of Wallace and Gromit.

And then there's the sheer chutzpah of a Liz Jones article entitled "Why sneer at Anne for being stylish at 67?" The Anne in question is Robinson. Ex-foreign correspondent Jones seems to think we give women a harder time than men over this.

Paper Monitor does to seem to recall people sneering at La Robinson.

In 2009, she was urged to age gracefully and the same year it was strongly suggested that she needed good lighting to look anywhere near good.

You probably didn't need to click on the links to guess which newspaper did the sneering.

Paper Monitor only obtained two newspapers before travelling in to work today - the Times and the Metro. Both featured the protests in Wall St.

Both used the same photo.

Wall St protest

Any idea why?

Popular Elsewhere

14:42 UK time, Monday, 3 October 2011

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

Times headline

High on the Times' most recommended list, is Caitlin Moran's ironically unapologetic article on saying sorry, a lot. A recent (she admits, rather unreliable) survey suggests Britons say sorry eight times a day. Moran thinks this is because sorry has so many different meanings. Her own husband even said sorry in his wedding vows. She took this one word to mean quite a lot:
"I wish this were over; who are these people? I really don't want to cry. The booze smell is the registrar's whisky - my hands were shaky; let's never get married again. I don't know if you've seen, but, behind you, your brother is wearing a balloon crown. I know you wanted to elope to Gretna; and if you leave me, I will die - for which I apologise in advance."
Independent headline

Perhaps the place where you won't be hearing people politely saying sorry is the escape hatch of a plane. But one of the Independent's most read stories says exactly what you should be doing to survive such a crash will be revealed in a course for frequent flyers. British Airways is offering a 4-hour safety course in exchange for some of their mileage points. If you're not lucky enough to be notching up frequent flyer points, the Independent's travel correspondent Simon Calder gives his own tips. He says the most basic of problems is usually the most fatal: getting the seatbelt off.
New York Times headline

There's a battle ahead for US nurses and doctors over the title "doctor". For, a popular New York Times article says, nurses have been getting doctorates and putting the Dr in front of their names. Doctors say this is making things unclear to patients and are pressing for a new law to stop nurses from using the title. And what's the difference between the two? Six to eight years training.
New Scientist headline

Embedding a $300m (£194m) transatlantic cable may seem like a lot of effort in order to shave off only six milliseconds from the present 65-millisecond transit time between London and New York. But the cable transmits information between traders. And, as the New Scientist's most read article explains, every millisecond counts in trading, especially automated trading. So the company who operate the cable, NYSE Euronext, wants to change the cable because, as the company's Andrew Bach says "The speed-of-light limitation is getting annoying".

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