New Republic review of High and Mighty

Discussion in 'The Late Night Cafe (off-topic)' started by alexia, Jan 14, 2003.

  1. alexia

    alexia

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    Having stirred the waters on this issue already, I thought some of you might be interested in Gregg Easterbrook's highly complimentary review of Keith Bradsher's 'High and Mighty' in the New Republic.

    For those who own SUV's be sure to read section III.

    http://www.thenewrepublic.com/docpri...terbrook012003
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    The article could be summarized as:

    Government intervention in the economy screws things up.

    If there is demand, I will quote the articles relevant points in context to show this.

    Phil
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    http://www.serve.com/commonpurpose/n...eusatoday.html

    Hundreds of people are killed in small-car wrecks each year who would survive in just slightly bigger, heavier vehicles, government and insurance industry research shows.

    More broadly, in the 24 years since a landmark law to conserve fuel, big cars have shrunk to less-safe sizes and small cars have poured onto roads. As a result, 46,000 people have died in crashes they would have survived in bigger, heavier cars, according to USA TODAY's analysis of crash data since 1975, when the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was passed. The law and the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards it imposed have improved fuel efficiency. The average of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads is 20 miles per gallon vs. 14 mpg in 1975.

    But the cost has been roughly 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained, the analysis shows
     
  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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  5. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    To say that "SUVs kill" is an anthropomorphism. This is a logical fallacy and proof of bad reasoning and poor writing. Similarly, to say "SUVs save lives" is also an anthropomorphism. I confess to committing anthropomorphism when rushed.

    From "Logical Fallacies in Scientific Writing"

    Bradsher, and his reviewers, commit this fallacy frequently.

    Phil
     
  6. alexia

    alexia

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    One thing I am curious about is the safety of 4WD on other passenger cars such as the Subaru. There was nothing in either article to clarify that. Is it only on the heavy and high center of gravity SUV that 4WD is of no benefit on snow, etc., or is the front wheel drive passenger car also of generally superior safety to the 4WD passenger car?

    I'm beginning to think about replacing the econo-box car I use in the city to run errands (never on the highway), and would like to know about Subaru vs some front wheel drive.
     
  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't know what kind of 4WD Subaru uses. Let me wax on 4WD styles for a moment.

    You know that the outside wheel in a turn travels further than the inside ones. The front wheels also turn a diffferent amount than the rear wheels in turns.

    In mondo offroad 4WD where it's soft and slippery, the front and rear diffs have lockers. The transfer case, the device that splits power to the front and rear and lets them spin at different rates, also has a locker. The lockers make all the wheels spin at the same rate all the time they are locked. This is powerful traction but it only works where the tires can slip because in turns and such, some wheels need to turn more than others. In these systems, it's only accomplished through tire slippage.

    If the tires can't slip, as on pavement or the expanses of slick rock here in Utah, then the drive system gets stressed and the common result is a broken axle. These locked 4wd systems are not for road use unless they are covered in snow. They really help you go, but not stop.

    You've probably seen a car stuck in snow. On a normal car, only one tire spins because the differential is designed to let one tire spin more than the other if it needs to. This is bad in snow as obviously the spinning tire isnt' the one with traction. When traction is equal both drive tires are driven. So you want a limited slip differential or similar. This always splits some power off to the non spinning wheel. This is good for pavement driving as you get good traction but still have enough relief in the system to keep your axle safe.

    Same thing goes for the transfer case. The case needs to always send power front and rear when in 4WD. Locked systems tend to split them 50/50. For on road driving, the car handles better in a 40/60 split. Some transfer cases are just like the common differential and send all the power to the spinning wheels. Again, some form of limitation is a good thing to have. Unlimited transfer cases are rare to my knowledge.

    For the full-time system Subaru uses, they have to account for rotation differnces so it's obviously not a locker. Usually limited slip differentials are upgrade options in 4WD. My Kia only has it in the rear and no limited slip was available for the front.

    Ask your salesman for the details on these options in how Subaru 4WD works. Ideally, you want some form of traction control in each device. Limited slip is the cheaper form of this. Jeep used a techie system called posi-track that did it even better. EDITED to correct. Posi-track was the street system for faster "racing starts". Quadri-track was the 4WD system.

    A really good 4WD system allows you to select through these options to match the conditions. Don't expect the Subaru to be that flexible in it's systems.

    Phil
     
  8. alexia

    alexia

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    Thanks Phil, when it's time to buy I'll take this along so I know what questions to ask. I'll also take my son who's more scientifically apt than I.

    edited note: I use my car only on highways and city streets.
     
  9. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Alexia, I don't understand the physics and mechanics as well as Phil, but we have a Subaru Outback wagon with all-wheel drive. My husband drives it on the highway and on surface streets, and he loves it in bad weather. He used to drive an Acura Integra, and he feels much safer in the Subaru as far as handling is concerned, even though it's a wagon.

    I don't have all-wheel or 4 wheel drive on my current car, but I do have anti-lock brakes. I also had them on my previous car. They've saved my neck and my bumpers several times. I would never buy another car without them. In this part of the world (Wisconsin), it's foolish to buy a car without them unless you think you're infallible. :rolleyes:
     
  10. alexia

    alexia

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    Thanks Mezz, my son has just bought a subaru, and has only a snowstorm or two under his belt, and likes the car. I alternate between my mini-ford and a Camray - and seldom go out when it snows here.
     
  11. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Just saw this and had to post it here. This is prime example of SUV reporting and the use of Anthropomorphism.

    http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Feb/02062...on_w/26791.asp

    It's written that the Jeep did it all on it's own. The driver himself was even a victim of the Jeeps wild untamed will and it's innate desire to kill and maim.

    It is a truly a sad story in its own right, but it's a terrible piece of journalism and does nothing fair to the dead in attributing the deaths to the Jeep when the driver was at fault for crashing into the pole first. The driver killed these women and the baby with his actions. Not the Jeep.

    But that's not how it's reported. Would this accident make national news if the vehicle wasn't an SUV? This is fair, impartial, accurate reporting?

    Phil
     
  12. alexia

    alexia

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    Yes, I think this story would be news whatever the vehicle!

    BTW: one objectionable quality of the SUV may be addressed. One of the major US manufacturers (Ford, I think, maybe GM) is planning to use a dual fuel system that will decrease gas use. I think the electric battery primarily kicks in when vehicle is in an idling mode and is recharged when the vehicle is moving. Sorry, I don't recall where I saw that. I should have posted that link, but was involved with other things that day. I probably found it through a link from Drudge.
     
  13. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree it would be news, but not NATIONAL news. This is a New York story, and it made the headline section of my local newspaper in Utah. There are lots of fatal car pedestrian accidents in the nation that don't make NATIONAL news.

    Phil
     
  14. alexia

    alexia

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    Phil, I grant you an anti SUV feeling out there on the part of some people, but this was a man bites dog story kind of story.

    A vehicle (of any sort) travels 7 blocks from the scene of a minor lamp pole accident, plows through a red light intersection to kill 3 people, including a child, and injures others. And the driver of the vehicle was himself injured while scrambling to escape. :eek:

    Maybe it's different where you live, but in media land, this is drama.

    Maybe it was a slow news day in Utah.