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The Write Way to do Wrong
"Everyone who wears shoes walks wrong," he says, echoing the headline of his recent article, "You Walk Wrong."
Sternbergh calls the ubiquity of footwear a "conspiracy of idiocy." He points out the probability that at no point did any shoemaker say, "Let's design something that works with your foot." In the Middle Ages, for example, people began wearing shoes with higher heels to avoid stepping in other people's excrement. Today, high heels are considered sexy. Whatever their reasons for wearing the shoes they wear, people don't usually consider whether a shoe actually works with their foot, he says.
The human foot works pretty well on its own, Sternbergh says, and it doesn't need a lifetime of help from shoes. He explains the basic illogic of footwear by comparing the concept to a perpetual cast. "Imagine if someone put a cast on your arm when you were 3 years old and you never took it off," he says. "Your arm would stop working. That's kind of what's happened with our feet."
Sternbergh cites a 1940s study of barefoot rickshaw drivers in
Why are shoes on virtually every foot, then? Sternbergh says the rationale that most urban and suburban people use is that the ground is hard and our feet need the cushioning of footwear. "But in many places in the world, the ground is quite hard," he says. "[Our ancestors] were able to absorb the shock."
Sternbergh concedes that in most settings, some form of foot covering makes sense. "I'm not going to convince anyone to walk barefoot," he says, acknowledging that he continues to wear shoes as a bulwark against glass, grime and gross things.
He may still wear shoes, but Sternbergh has switched to a model from
"They kill your heels," he says. "A traditional shoe advocate would say you need to switch back to sneakers that have a big cushiony heel." But a barefoot-walking advocate would say, "You're walking wrong," Sternbergh says. He asked Clark for advice or instruction, but
"You'll find that your walk starts to change," Sternbergh says. "You land on your heel, but it's a much softer landing. ... A traditional shoe with a lot of cushioning is designed to allow you to walk with the bad habits that you have because you've been wearing shoes all your life." For those who cling to their typical footwear, Sternbergh is sympathetic. "Shoes perpetuate shoes, " he says, referring to the cycle of coddled feet forever needing high-tech swaddling. "It's a classic self-perpetuating system."
Feet Hurt? Stop Wearing Shoes
(article The Bryant Park Project via NPR) (photo by Harry Harris)
With gas prices rising, gas-saving advice abounds: Drive more gently, don't carry extra stuff in your trunk, combine your shopping trips.
This is all sound advice but there's one driving tip that will probably save you more gas than all the others, especially if you spend a lot of time on the highway: Slow down.
In a typical family sedan, every 10 miles per hour you drive over 60 is like the price of gasoline going up about 54 cents a gallon. That figure will be even higher for less fuel-efficient vehicles that go fewer miles on a gallon to start with.
The reason is as clear as the air around you.
When cruising on the highway, your car will be in its highest gear with the engine humming along at relatively low rpm's. All your car needs to do is maintain its speed by overcoming the combined friction of its own moving parts, the tires on the road surface and, most of all, the air flowing around, over and under it.
Pushing air around actually takes up about 40% of a car's energy at highway speeds, according to Roger Clark, a fuel economy engineer for General Motors.
Traveling faster makes the job even harder. More air builds up in front of the vehicle, and the low pressure "hole" trailing behind gets bigger, too. Together, these create an increasing suction that tends to pull back harder and harder the faster you drive. The increase is actually exponential, meaning wind resistance rises much more steeply between 70 and 80 mph than it does between 50 and 60.
Every 10 mph faster reduces fuel economy by about 4 mpg, a figure that remains fairly constant regardless of vehicle size,
That's where that 54 cents a gallon estimate comes from. If a car gets 28 mpg at 65 mph, driving it at 75 would drop that to 24 mpg. Fuel costs over 100 miles, for example - estimated at $3.25 a gallon - would increase by $1.93, or the cost of an additional 0.6 gallons of gas. That would be like paying 54 cents a gallon more for each of the 3.6 gallons used at 65 mph. That per-gallon price difference remains constant over any distance.
Engineers at Consumer Reports magazine tested this theory by driving a Toyota Camry sedan and a Mercury Mountaineer SUV at various set cruising speeds on a stretch of flat highway. Driving the Camry at 75 mph instead of 65 dropped fuel economy from 35 mpg to 30. For the Mountaineer, fuel economy dropped from 21 to 18.
Over the course of a 400-mile road trip, the Camry driver would spend about $6.19 more on gas at the higher speed and Mountaineer driver would spend an extra $10.32.
Driving even slower, say 55 mph, could save slightly more gas. In fact, the old national 55 mph speed limit, instituted in 1974, was a response to the period's energy crisis.
It was about more than just high gas prices, though. The crisis of the time involved literal gasoline shortages due to an international embargo. Gas stations were sometimes left with none to sell, and gas sales had to be rationed. The crisis passed, but the national 55 mph speed limit stayed on the books until the law was loosened in the 1980s. It was finally dropped altogether in 1995. (The law stuck around more because of an apparent safety benefit than for fuel saving.)
Despite today's high gas prices, don't expect to see a return to the national 55 mph speed limit. The law was unpopular in its day, and higher speeds have become so institutionalized that even the Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy test cycle now includes speeds of up to 80 mph.
Driving 10 miles per hour faster, assuming you don't lose time getting pulled over for a speeding ticket, does have the advantage of getting you to your destination 50 minutes sooner on that 400 mile trip. Whether that time difference is worth the added cost and risk is, ultimately, up to you.
Something we should know
(CNNM) (photo by Sweat Freak)