Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Things are not always as they seem

I get plenty of suggestions for Roses & Razzberries every day. That’s not to say that I have more than I need. By all means, keep them coming.

Most of them are pretty straightforward. A Razzberry for some ambulance-chasing lawyer here, a Rose for a good truck repair shop there.

There are some, however, that seem to be one thing, but when you start scratching at the surface, turn out to be something else altogether. I have to examine these more carefully. After all, I wouldn’t want to fire off a Razzberry in the wrong direction and hit some innocent bystander.

Roses and Razzberries aren’t things to be taken lightly. Someone could lose an eye.

I recently received a suggestion for a Razzberry for Woman’s World magazine, and, more specifically, for an article that quoted Jason Toews, a man who runs a Web site called

In the article, Toews was quoted as saying one of the best ways to save fuel is to drive behind a semi. Drafting, I believe, is the technical, NASCAR-approved term. Toews was quoted as suggesting that doing this could save you as much as 10 percent on fuel.

While that may be true, I’m sure everybody reading this is already saying to themselves “yeah, but it’s dangerous as hell.” And it is, no question about it.

So why would Toews recommend this as a way to save fuel? Truth is, he didn’t. I e-mailed Toews when I saw the article and demanded (yeah, I went a little overboard) to know why he would make such a dangerous and irresponsible recommendation.

Here is the response I got:

Although I have not seen the article, I vehemently expressed to the reporter that one should NOT do that because of the dangerous nature of drafting. I had used it as an example of how much impact wind resistance has at highway speeds, and that the impact is exponential as you go faster. If there was no/limited wind resistance at highway speeds, your fuel economy would be significantly better. I’m surprised that they would print this, especially considering that it does not seem to have come with any warnings to NOT do it.

Translation: Jason never recommended drafting behind big trucks. He used it as an example of how wind resistance can affect your gas mileage. Woman’s World took that as a recommendation and ran with it. With no warning whatsoever about how dangerous and stupid it would be to ride five feet from the bumper of a truck rolling down the highway at 65 miles per hour.

What’s more, Land Line Magazine staff writer Clarissa Kell-Holland talked to the folks at Woman’s World, who told her they stand by what they printed, in spite of our warnings and Jason’s insistence that they include a warning in the article.

Now we have moved beyond the realm of simple incompetence and into the realm of willful ignorance, arrogance and just flat-out irresponsible journalism.

I’m glad we checked that out; otherwise, I would have unfairly given a Razzberry to Jason instead of putting the blame squarely where it belongs: with Woman’s World magazine.