Nowt major, just a couple of things that caught my eye in today's news:
1. The grammar pedants have won, but still might not be happy. Tesco has caved in to pressure from the Lynne Truss brigade to change their express checkout signs from '10 items or less'. But rather than the more grammatically correct, '10 items or fewer' they're going for 'Up to 10 items'.
A spokesman for the Plain English Campaign said:
"Saying up to 10 items is easy to understand and avoids any debate."Unfortunately, I would beg to differ. '10 items or less', though jarring, is totally comprehensible and unambiguous in everyday speech . 'Up to 10 items' makes me think that perhaps it could mean 9 items or fewer. Did they never learn the difference between the '<' and the '≤' signs in maths? Surely for totally clarity it would have to be 'Up to and including 10 items'. That would make for a very large sign. I think they were better off before.
2. "Farm Pregnancy 'cuts asthma risk.'" I wish that science news editors would be a little more discerning regarding what is 'good, interesting science' and what is 'good, interesting science that is of relevance to the general public'. The discovery that pre-natal exposure to a farm environment may reduce risk of developing asthma in later life is scientifically interesting. It might give clues to immunologists who are trying to develop a better understanding of the basic biology of asthma. I don't, however, think that it is information of great use to anyone else - it's the kind of story that makes you go, 'So what?' What are we supposed to do with that information? Tell pregnant friends to get themselves along to the nearest pigsty? Congratulate rural friends on the likelihood that their future children will have good respiratory health? What exactly?