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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

Stop digging your own gasoline grave

By Jake Williams

October 2, 2006 | Logan drivers are in a hurry to get nowhere, meaning there's no noticeable difference whether we're driving to Wal-Mart, campus, or the hospital. Then we bitch about gas prices. If that doesn't strike you as paradoxical, the impending knowledge will provide Jon Stewart-level enlightenment. There are basically three factors that determine how much a person spends on gas per month: the amount of gas used per mile, miles driven per month, and the price paid per gallon. Expressed mathematically:

(Gallons / Mile) x (Miles / Month) x (Dollars / Gallon) = Dollars /Month

The first factor, the area in which we can improve most, involves maximizing the efficiency of our cars. Everyday driving habits significantly help or hurt us at the pump and our driving habits are less than admirable considering America uses more fuel than any other country, about 25 percent of the world total.

Here's how we can improve efficiency:

-- Drive like the stereotypical old woman. An accelerating or decelerating car burns more gas than one maintaining a constant speed, and radically changing speeds unnecessarily burns a tremendous amount of gas. Controlling speed changes is the easiest and most effective way to better fuel economy.

-- Don't turn when the road is straight. Most people realize friction reduces efficiency, but fewer realize that turning results from increased friction on a car's front tires. The straighter a car travels, the less fuel is squandered to overcome this friction. Instead of zigzagging, pick a spot down the road (hopefully in front of you) and drive straight to it.

-- Drive a smaller and more fuel-efficient car. This is tough for college students who have few choices due to limited funds, but fuel-efficiency should be a car-buying priority. The most economical cars are, like beautiful women, younger and lighter. Lighter cars have less inertia, the physical property that resists change in speed, meaning they require less gas to accelerate. Smaller cars also have less aerodynamic drag. When a car travels at constant speed, the energy converted from the fuel balances the drag from air resistance and mechanical friction. Smaller frontal areas produce less drag and increase mileage.

-- Shift properly if you have a manual transmission. If fourth gear is acceptable at a given speed, don't use third gear with higher RPMs. Also, up-shift earlier, before RPMs elevate because engines use more fuel at higher RPMs.

-- On freeways, travel at the most efficient speed. This is the lowest speed you can sustain in your highest gear without down-shifting (automatics) or lugging (manuals). Above this speed, fuel levels drop faster than presidential approval ratings.

The next factor involves cutting down on driving distances. Too often, we drive alone to somewhere close by. Try walking next time you go to the gym, and when you go to school ride a bike, use the campus shuttle, or carpool. If two cars each take one passenger, using one car can cut the distance driven in half and use half the fuel. This is why buses that get only 3 miles per gallon are economically rational options. When 40 passengers use the bus, the distance driven is reduced by a factor of forty. Forty cars would have to average 120 mpg to equal that efficiency.

The final factor is lowering the price per gallon of gas, a complex problem. Figure this one out and you'll win the Nobel Prize for economics or get assassinated by OPEC (or both). To lower the price per gallon, widespread action must be taken because OPEC's influence renders an individual's actions inconsequential. Examples of such widespread actions include mass boycotts of overpriced oil and using alternative fuel sources such as the sun or bio-fuel.

Reducing our need for gas is the best way to lessen the amount spent on it. Increasing efficiency is the most convenient factor for improvement, but additionally, driving distances can be reduced. Another way is to lower gas prices, but that requires action by the masses as opposed to the individual. Through improved driving habits, the amount an individual spends on gas can decrease dramatically. Fortunately, this will also lead to a decrease in "bitching."


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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