Makes A Little Too Much Sense

Every now and then, I read something very enlightening and surprising, and I find myself blown away that more people don’t know about it.  It’s usually buried on the 15th page of a newspaper that seems far more front page worthy than whatever’s there.  I wonder: why aren’t more people talking about this?  Each month, I’ll call one out and provide a line of perspective. Send me any ideas you have!


Out with the old kilogram, in with the new -- scientists introduce more accurate measure

May 20th was World Metrology Day and on that day, the new definition of a kilogram formally went into effect.  It used to be the precise weight of a piece of metal kept in France. Now, it’s based on the Planck constant, an inherently stable factor in nature that will allow for more precise measurements. The problem with the old definition was that over time, that piece of metal actually lost mass, which affected calibration.  

It’s unlikely to affect many of us on an everyday basis, but this change in mass over 40 years equivalent to roughly an eyelash had “severe” repercussions for certain industries such as pharmaceuticals.  For this reason, changing it makes too much sense.

Makes No Sense

Some things out there just make you scratch your head.  Each month I’ll call one out and provide a perspective.   Send me any ideas you have!

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Stoltman wins final Bensenville District 2 seat

It’s actually not all that uncommon – see here for another example in North Carolina – but using a coin toss to decide local government leadership positions seems like the easy and short sighted way to me.  In this case, after a tie for the final spot on the local school board, state law actually required a random drawing to determine the winner.  I understand there can be sensitivities to a subjective tie-breaker such as years of education, age, relevant experience, but isn’t that an acceptable trade off to the random flip of a coin?

Makes A Little Too Much Sense


Doctors use HIV to develop 'cure' for babies with 'bubble boy' disease

The medical community never ceases to amaze me.  I was astounded six months ago when I learned about how doctors at Duke University are using polio to attack brain tumors, and now there are doctors at St. Jude’s Children Hospital using HIV to provide a solution for a rare genetic disorder called SCID-X1.  

The poor children afflicted with this disease often don’t live beyond two years of age and typically can’t leave a hospital (or their “bubble”), but now there’s a path to allowing their immune systems to be reconstructed altogether.  Two babies have been “cured,” a term used cautiously because of how early it is in the process. But signs are pointing up and these kids potentially have a full life ahead of them because of this novel approach. Talk about an incredible, ingenious idea.  Keep it up, good doctors.

Makes No Sense


Florida man who reportedly bought an $8 million island arrested for alleged Kmart theft

This may be the most obvious (and perplexing) example of this category any of us will ever encounter. There’s not much else to say. When a person can spend $8M on an island never in a million years would you expect him to steal $300 worth of stuff from Kmart.

If I wrote this into a book, no one would consider it realistic or believable. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Makes A Little Too Much Sense


DuPage sheriff's department heads what some are calling the county's largest recycling event

I’m not as environmentally friendly as I should be.  I recycle, and try to minimize waste in my day-to-day, but I’ve got plenty of room for improvement.  Don’t we all. To that end, this story inspired me. A single property manager made a decision that resulted in two 53-foot trucks delivering a plethora of furniture to a Goodwill store instead of sitting in a landfill, in what’s been called the county’s largest recycling event.  Some people out there will get to use it instead of it taking up space in a hole for (presumably) forever, making the idea a true win- win. In general, most people agree there’s clear benefit to increased recycling but struggle to see a way to logistically execute it in a scalable way as individuals.  But here’s an example where a single businessman made one decision that impacted the community and the environment in a massive way. Perhaps we should think about this problem differently and look for ways to get similar “big” wins from businesses corporations when they move/transfer offices to better move the needle…

Makes No Sense


Would 47 million March Madness bettors play legally if they could?

At least when it comes to watching TV, we’re into my favorite three weeks of the year.  March Madness showcases incredible young athletes doing everything they can to advance their teams in a single elimination basketball tournament, and the excitement and anticipation that brings is as good as it gets for me.  Evidently I’m not alone. During these three weeks, 47 million Americans will wager more than $8.5 billion, more than the total value of goods & services produced annually in Haiti. Yes, the whole country.

Yet despite that roughly 43 million of those people are betting illegally, no police action is ever taken.  Rightly so, in my humble opinion. The police have bigger fish to fry. But what doesn’t make sense is having a law that absolutely no one intends to enforce or feels should be enforced.  If it’s a law, enforce it as one. If it’s not, then change it to make an exception.

Makes A Little Too Much Sense


MLB rolls out pitch clock for spring training games, and it could reportedly carry into regular season

In the “technology corrupts the game” debate, I tend to be an old-timer baseball fan when I get right down to it.  I don’t vote for an automated strike zone, I don’t think we should stop play every few minutes to do an Instant Replay.  I understand completely that umpires are human and that they make mistakes, and that the arguments for these technologies would aim to take the fate out of their hands and leave it in those playing the game.  Who can argue that the Saints got the short end of the stick this year?

That said, that’s part of the game.  There are humans and there is judgment and that’s part of what makes it entertaining.  What I really don’t like about it is that the reviews take too long and disrupt the flow of the game.  Why stop the action to review every single call at the expense of its inertia and energy?

That’s why when I read about this – a technology designed to actually keep it going and prevent stalling – I thought it just made too much sense.

Makes No Sense


Mount Prospect raises age to buy tobacco products to 21 from 18

There is no shortage of topics in my home state of Illinois that make no sense, but to pick on one that hopefully doesn’t evoke too much personal passion, consider that after Illinois lawmakers failed to standardize the tobacco buying age in November 2018, several towns are now raising the limit to 21 (from 18) by themselves.  This means that it’s now illegal in “Town A” for a twenty-year-old to buy a pack of cigarettes, but not in the suburb ten minutes away. If a nineteen year old who just got back from a tour of war duty wants to have a chew with his friends, it’s OK in this town but not that one.  He can actually get charged with Possession for being fifteen feet to the east of a town line…

No law is perfect.  I understand that. But aside from the fact that “kids” (i.e. 18-year-olds) are making very grown up decisions anyway, making tobacco purchases optional by town doesn’t seem logical or practical to me.  How in the world does this get enforced fairly and accurately? In the end, it seems like the only thing it will do for sure is take away business from one town at the expense of another. Not to mention send the message to teenagers that “we think it’s really bad for you, but that’s just our town’s opinion.”  

My vote: make it all the same age and move on.  

Makes A Little Too Much Sense


Homeless man who helped pull NFL player's car out of snow gets big reward

It’s certainly a feel good story that he got a reward in the end, thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs Jeff Allen’s use of social media, but what makes this story have a little too much sense (and makes me smile) is the fact that it’s clear he didn’t do it because he expected a reward.  He did it because it was the right thing to do. We could all learn from Dave.

Makes No Sense


Woman drinking wine out of Pringles can at Walmart warms internet’s jaded heart

I understand reporters need to write about people want to read, so this is more of a commentary on the general public than the reporting industry…and I’m also always up for a chuckle.  

But why on earth is a woman drinking wine from of a Pringles can in a Walmart parking lot such big news, much less being called a “hero” by anyone?  The real heroes protect our freedom…let’s not use the term for inebriated parking lot electric cart operators…

Makes A Little Too Much Sense

The Writer Automaton, Switzerland


This story’s amalgamation of engineering, precision controls and life science made it very interesting to me.  The fact that it resulted in a doll created 240 years ago that can write custom text up to 40 letters long…that is outright mind-blowing.  And of course, as a writer I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony that a wooden statue operates autonomously as an author.  

At first I just thought this was a cool idea, but the more I thought about it the more applicable to bigger-picture-thriller-type thinking I found the concept to be.  If you believe there are limits to what scientists today can do to advance the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics, this story about what a watchmaker did two-and-a-half centuries ago might make you think twice. 

Makes No Sense


Daylight Saving Time is super unpopular. Here are the countries trying to ditch it.

Within the USA, there’s one state that wants Daylight Savings Time to be standard (FL) and two that don’t practice it at all (HI and most of AZ).  Outside of the USA, 70 countries change their clocks twice a year but the rest don’t (including all of China and Japan). Those two facts alone can make DST confusing, even annoying.  But mix them and you get a formula for craziness and frustration. Recurring international business conference calls need to be updated, meeting times will abruptly conflict with local lunch hours and people will need a week or two to adjust (on top of potential language barriers).  Getting in touch with someone travelling across multiple time zones is much easier said than done. All this for something that very few people actually feel is a benefit. The 1784 idea from Benjamin Franklin may’ve had its merits back then, but in today’s “flat” we should just pick a standard and go with it. 

Makes A Little Too Much Sense


Using One Disease To Fight Another

J. Lee: Doctors at Duke University are using polio, one of the “most potent cell-killing viruses there is” to attack brain tumors.  Beyond the obvious remarkable, pioneering and creative thinking of the doctors, as well as the brave, faithful and courageous patients to first try it, this story is so amazing it astounds me that we don’t hear about it more.  Only four percent of brain cancer patients survive beyond three years but so far 21% of the study’s patients have made it at least that long. Furthermore, the implications are staggering: could this be applied to other types of cancerous cells or different diseases altogether?  This is the kind of stuff we need to hear more about on a regular basis. Carry on, wise doctors.

Makes A Little Too Much Sense


This Teacher On A Plane Talked About Her Low-Income Students. Passengers Overheard And Gave Her More Than $500 In Cash

J. Lee: Stories like these sell papers almost as much as they inspire people. Why can’t newspapers feature them instead of the rapes and murder-suicides that bring us all down?

Makes No Sense


How To Un-Shrink Crocs Shoes That Have Shrunk

J. Lee: One day my daughter’s tea party on our deck – which required all imaginary participants to take off their shoes – resulted in my Crocs sitting out in the sun for a few hours.  When I put them on afterwards, they felt two sizes too small.  My wife smirked when I told her, but I looked it up and sure enough it’s not just me (this time).  If this happens often enough, can’t they design shoes that don't shrink? True story: I like them so much we boiled my Crocs for five minutes and immediately inserted my feet to try to stretch them out.  It was relatively unsuccessful.