Megan Burns: Finding the good news

Sunday, April 16, 2017 - 1:04pm

The end of the semester is a hectic time. If there’s anything indicative of this, it’s the fact that I’m writing this column in the notes app on my phone as I walk to my next class. Whether April is plagued with exams, papers, projects, internship searches or good old-fashioned showers, this month is incredibly stressful. I myself have been struggling with balancing my finals and pre-final exams — don’t ask — so I asked myself what I would want to read if I were procrastinating studying, on the verge of tears or both. I decided I wanted to read something interesting, unrelated to school and something happy or funny. So, in this column, I’ll be discussing some good news. 

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have discovered the mystery as to why shoelaces come untied. Apparently “the force of your foot striking the ground and the motion of your leg combine to help loosen and ultimately untie the knot,” colloquially known as “walking,” unties shoes. Even more insightful, the orientation of the bow itself is important — horizontal and even bows are better than uneven bows. I personally never learned how to tie my own shoes correctly, so I’m using this incredibly scientific information to aid me in my quest to loop the bunny around the tree.

In the age of internet phenomena, wholesome content can be hard to find. Fear not! If you have access to the internet, it’s likely you’ve heard of April the giraffe and her drawn-out, livestreamed pregnancy. Though some questioned the morality of livestreaming a giraffe’s birth, hundreds of thousands were fascinated, and a few delved into the ethics of animal privacy. Day after day, people waited impatiently in front of their computers to watch a giraffe give birth live on the internet. Well, the wait is over. After an absurdly long period of time, April gave birth to an infant male giraffe on April 15 at approximately 9:55 a.m.

I’m not a huge sports fan, but I do like social justice. If you like either of these things you might be pleased to hear that the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred, has recently expressed sentiments for the Cleveland Indians to move away from its team logo. The current logo, which features a stereotypical depiction of what is meant to be a Native American, has been the subject of significant controversy. The Cleveland team ironically calls Progressive Field its home, so perhaps its field’s name will inspire it to distance itself from the logo.

Feeling hopeless about the political scene? Feeling sad that no one is offering you an unpaid political internship in Washington, D.C.? Fond of astronomy? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, you’re in luck! Scientists at NASA are saying that Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Enceladus may be our best bets for nearby habitable locations. Enceladus in particular has potential, as signs are suggesting that the key ingredients necessary for inhabitation might be found there. The recent discovery of hydrogen inside Enceladus has caused much excitement within the scientific community, and there’s nothing purer than joyous scientists.

The Huffington Post has a section of their website dedicated to cute dog videos. This epitomizes good journalism in my humble opinion.

Good things are happening in our own backyard! University of Michigan undergraduate students have created an affordable and time-saving alternative to measuring hemostasis — or natural blood clotting abilities — in patients before they receive treatment. Timeliness is essential in medicine, and results must be accurate, understandable and quick so that medical professionals can make good decisions swiftly.

Margaret Atwood is a mystical, palm-reading spider enthusiast. She is also the author of more than 60 published works, including “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which has recently regained popularity as a result of the current political climate. If you’re fond of mysterious old women and you haven’t run out of free articles from the New Yorker, I highly encourage you to read their profile on Atwood.

It’s easy to get caught up in finals, and even easier to get caught up in the hype that surrounds negative political, economic or environmental news. These stories are handed to us, appear often on our Facebook newsfeeds and are shared quickly — often with commentary on Twitter. When I started my search for pieces of news to include in this column, I had to look far and wide to find good news, not because there isn’t any, but because the striking taglines and clickbait get more attention, pushing positive stories to the bottom of the heap.

I don’t want to encourage people to avoid bad news. Being aware of the state of our nation and of the international plights occurring each day is vastly more important than protecting your feelings. Simultaneously, though, it can be easy to read only disheartening stories, tales of lying, cheating, murder or fraud. It’s imperative that we pay attention, but it’s equally important to see that virtues of kindness, respect and honesty are not entirely missing from the world.

Megan Burns can be reached at megburns@umich.edu.