Well kidlings, it's time for another round of "You Can't Make Up This Stuff," the game based on my brother Big Rob's theory that reality is stranger than any fiction. Usually we begin with an item from Rob's stomping grounds of Flint, but this time around we'll report on something about the entire state of Michigan. 


The good news is we're number one. The bad news is we're number one. “Each American produces a whopping 1,700 pounds of waste every year, making the United States the world’s most wasteful country. Michigan leads the trash-per-capita list, with Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio rounding out the top five spots.”


Why is this? “The availability of cheap landfill space in Michigan attracts trucked-in garbage from out of state and even from Canada. That’s because, under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, waste is considered a commodity, and states and counties cannot restrict its import or export from other states or even other countries.” To see a graphic map of the tons of waste in landfills in each state, go to:


Speaking of graphic maps, did you know there are places in this country where humans are not the main occupants? There's an interesting collection at: Here you'll see the counties in America where there are more livestock residents than people. The maps cover cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, goats, and sheep. This is one of those “you have to see it to believe it” deals. 


If you are reading this around noon, you may be getting a bit testy. There is a reason for this. “That growing rage you feel the later you put off lunch hour, what has become known as being 'hangry,' isn't just in your head.  Scientists found that feeling hungry is associated with greater anger, irritability, and lower levels of pleasure." If you are hangry, scientists suggest a solution – you should eat. (


To assuage your hangriness, perhaps a Michigan hot dog might be in order. If you want to see a road sign dedicated to this delicacy, however, you'll have to travel to Plattsburgh, New York. “This North Country specialty is so doggone important here that town officials declared July as Michigan Month. They have even erected a sign commemorating the Michigan hot dog.”

Plattsburgh's version of a “Michigan” is closer to a Flint dog than a Detroit dog. “It’s a steamed hot dog covered in a meat sauce and topped with chopped raw onions and a stripe or two of yellow mustard. The sauce is thicker than most meat sauces but not as thick as chili.” (


If you're standing outside while eating your Michigan hot dog, you might want to keep an eye on the sky. “As countries and private companies ramp up space exploration, the issue of where and how abandoned rockets re-enter Earth is becoming more significant. Over the next decade, if current practices of uncontrolled rocket re-entries continue, there is a roughly ten percent chance that one or more casualties will occur. Approximately sixty percent of all space launches result in a rocket body being abandoned in orbit.” (


Here on earth, our transportation could get more costly in the future. Those comforts you now enjoy as standard equipment (like heated seats) could come only with a subscription. BMW is testing this concept in South Korea. “We've been warned about how subscriptions could become the automotive equivalent of a video game's downloadable content, and we're beginning to see more examples.”


How much? Heated seats are $18 per month. A heating steering wheel adds another $10 a month. You get the gist, right? 

“If you're wondering about the potential of in-car subscriptions from a business perspective, (experts) estimate it'll make a whopping $23 billion a year by the end of this decade.” Could there come a time when you no longer use your horn because every honk costs a buck? (


Well, all those sophisticated automotive electronics depend on a simple element. “Right now, 3,200 feet below ground, explosives are blasting apart billion-year-old rock that, eventually, is going to wind up in an electric vehicle.”

That essential item is nickel. But here's the kicker. “Ore from two large deposits under the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette accounts for one-hundred percent of the domestic nickel supply in the United States. It is the only place in the U.S. where nickel is produced.”


There is a fly in the ointment, however. “Eagle Mine is closer to the end of its life than the beginning. Unless more ore is found, the mine will close in about four years.” This situation creates an obvious question. Then what? (


Finally, summer is a time for vacations. After a long day at work do you enjoy unwinding in a comfy chair with a cool beverage in hand? If so, be glad you are not in Japan where overwork is the norm. “Japan’s strict office culture, (is where) nearly one quarter of companies require employees to work more than eighty hours of overtime each month, often without extra pay. Sleepiness on the job is so rampant that Japan has a special word for these workers — inemuri.” 


But “help” is on the way! “Two Japanese companies that have unveiled a 'nap box' designed to encourage a healthier office culture for white-collar workers. The device, which resembles a sleek water heater, will support occupants’ heads, knees and rears so that they will not fall over. The nap box user will sleep in the pod like a flamingo, standing upright.” (


You know, I may be an old fuddy duddy on this one. Trying to sleep like a flamingo in a water heater just does not enter into my thought process when I think of  relaxation techniques. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and