The nifty thing about headlines that tout lists is that you almost always find at least one interesting item if you drill down far enough. Mining headline lists often uncovers hidden gems. 


“Ten Of The Best Six-Word Stories Out There” is a good example. Who knew “flash fiction” even existed? “They say that brevity is the soul of wit, and when the complex art of storytelling is distilled into only six words, you end up with some fascinating literary artifacts. These minimalist tales offer brief glimpses into all kinds of worlds and situations.” 


One of these caught my attention. It has a sort of science fiction theme: “The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.” Makes you wonder, doesn't it? See more at:


That flash tale reminded me of one my favorite (short) short stories, “The Scarlatti Tilt” by Richard Brautigan. "It's hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin. That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.” (


Another list headline will jar memories of the more “experienced” among us. It details: “Six Subjects That Are No Longer Taught in Schools.” At the top of the list is shorthand. 


This was a valuable skill at one time. “Shorthand alphabets help people write things down more quickly by hand, making them valuable for recording court testimony, legislative proceedings, or interviews. By the early 20th century, shorthand was taught in public schools. Yet in the ensuing decades, more efficient ways to take notes dominated, like audio recording and typing. Shorthand was mostly phased out of schools by the 1990s.” (


Growing up in Flint, I remember when Baker College was what we knew as Baker Business School. It was located on the second floor of the S.S. Kresge dime store in downtown Flint. They taught shorthand, typing, and other business-related skills. Many graduates wound up in the offices of General Motors factories. Baker Business training was a solid path to a good paying job. 


These days, there is a new form of shorthand (sort of) – emojis. To that end a headline announced: “First Look: New Emojis in iOS 17.4.” Depending on your point of view, this is either a communications improvement or more junk to clog your phone's memory. 


“New emojis have arrived. The new additions include a phoenix, a lime, smileys shaking their heads up and down, and a series of direction-specifying people emojis. These 118 additions (includes) six brand new emoji concepts, and new direction-specifying versions of six existing people emojis.” See them at:


Everyone is concerned about their health. A related headline observed this: “Seven Body Parts That Are More or Less Useless.” The article noted that when it comes to body parts: “Some of them are pretty much obsolete. A few body parts have even started to disappear already, and are only present in certain segments of the population.”


One item on the list is a case in point. “The palmaris longus is a muscle stretching the length of our forearm that’s evolving away before our very eyes, because it’s visible when you hold your hand and wrist a certain way, you can actually tell whether you still have yours on sight. It’s already missing in a significant portion of the population. (


What's the function of this muscle? “The muscle helps with wrist flexion in those who still have it. If you don’t have one, you can still do all the same things as someone who does have it. While it’s unnecessary as is, the palmaris longus is pretty useful as a donor tendon for plastic surgery.” I did a test and  still have mine. See if you still have yours at:


Eating plenty of fruits is essential to good health, so a fruit headline is noteworthy: “Eight Perfectly Ripe Facts About Bananas.” There are many beneficial things about bananas, but one thing could be alarming. Bananas are radioactive.


This might shock you, but don't worry. “The potassium in bananas contains trace amounts of radioactive atoms, though because our bodies regularly flush the nutrient out, it’s unable to build up to dangerous levels in our system. Bananas aren’t the only radioactive food: spinach, potatoes, and oranges are, too.” (


Something about artificial intelligence (AI) is in the news almost every day. While some aspects about AI could be a cause for concern, other uses can yield cool results, like: “AI Imagines New Dog Breeds To Represent Each of the 50 U.S. States.” 


When you see these it's difficult not to smile. “Pet Lab Co. has generated fifty unique dog breeds, one for each state. The results, while not always realistic, are a charming and funny look at what a State Dog might look like. Each dog feels like a great homage to their namesake and illustrates the individuality of each.” 


The Michigan dog is labeled the “Great Lakes Explorer.” This is one of those deals where you have to see if for yourself. Go to:


As long as we're thinking about dogs, a doggy headline is a good way to wrap up things: “Some dogs can understand 250 words.” Apparently, man's best friend understands more than we might realize. 


“According to the American Psychological Association, the average dog can understand 165 words, and “super dogs” — those in the top twenty percent of canine intellect — can understand around 250 words. Research into the levels of intelligence in various dog breeds shows that border collies displayed the highest levels, followed by poodles, German shepherds, and golden retrievers.” (


One particular dog was in the genius realm. “The Einstein of the dog world was a border collie named Chaser. According to the journal Behavioral Processes, Chaser had the ability to recall and correctly identify 1,022 words. Now, that’s an extremely good girl.” 


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