- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2001

White or dark tofu?
With Vice President Richard B. Cheney cutting back on cholesterol and "first niece" Lauren Bush touting the benefits of her vegetarian diet, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has high hopes that vegetarianism will take root in the White House.
So much so it's delivered a Thanksgiving "Tofurky" to the meat-eating President Bush, complete with all the trimmings.
"Knowing that the first family has a soft spot for animals, we hope they'll jump at the chance to give turkeys something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving," says PETA's Vegan Campaign coordinator Bruce Friedrich.
Vegetarian "Tofurky" and "UnTurkey" consist of a turkey-shaped tofu loaf or a savory soy-based roast, respectively, complete with "dark-meat drumettes."

Thanksgiving logic
For those afraid to fly to grandmother's house for Thanksgiving, what with all the terrorism of late, we'd quoted David Murray, director of the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS), as saying that flying on a scheduled airliner anywhere in the world was 53 times safer than driving on an American highway.
To which Jules Levin, professor of linguistics and Russian at the University of California, Riverside, wrote: "It is my understanding that this is one of those meaningless statistics. Ask your expert if he is calculating risk on the basis of miles traveled, or time spent travelling? The only meaningful real world comparison is on the basis of time spent in auto or plane, and when you do it that way, and not by mileage, the fatality rate is about the same (since planes cover many more miles per hour than automobiles do)."
Mr. Murray?
"Well, the professor has a good point, sort of," he responds. "We use the numbers from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which focuses on the dimension that's relatively easy to measure: fatalities per 100 million miles traveled (either passenger miles for aircraft, or vehicle miles for highway traffic).
"In general, aircraft going across country average a speed that's roughly 10 times the speed that a cross-country automobile makes on an interstate (roughly 500 mph vs. roughly 50 mph), so one is 'exposed' to risk for a smaller time in an airplane covering the same distance as an automobile.
"Point granted, sort of," Mr. Murray continues, "but remember, the fatality differential [in 1999] was 53 times safer in airlines, while the speed differential is only 10 times greater. Hence, even by this measure, one comes out ahead in air travel [about 5 times safer] . So, the professor is right, miles traveled without taking account of speed/time exposed is kind of misleading.
"Conversely, we need to be careful accepting the professor's logic if we compare, say, cross-country auto travel to walking the same distance. Surely, walking will turn out to be 'safer' in the sense that it may take three months to get from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, meaning one is 'at risk' for a longer time, albeit with fewer head-on fatalities.
"It's for reasons such as those that I prefer a different measure entirely: number of fatalities not measured against miles traveled or even time spent, but rather, number of purposes accomplished. Think of it this way: If one is going to the corner grocery store, it makes sense not to fly. Driving suits your purposes better.
"Conversely, what about a trip from Washington to Los Angeles for a crucial business meeting? Let's have a contest: The Man From STATS (TMFS) decides to fly. The professor chooses to drive. TMFS Metros (subways) to Washington Reagan National Airport, boards the 7 a.m. flight to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). He has breakfast, sees the Grand Canyon by air, and arrives at 10 a.m. local time, after 5 hours of flight.
"A limo takes him to his 11 a.m. meeting in Santa Monica. After it breaks up at noon, TMFS strolls out to the Santa Monica pier, changes clothes, takes a quick dip in the Pacific, calls his mother and his sister to meet him for a late lunch at a waterfront restaurant, buys some [Rollerblades] for the kid, and then, having done his filial and his parental duty, catches the limo back to LAX for the 4 p.m. flight back to Reagan.
"TMFS arrives, having had dinner on the plane and almost finishing a new [Tom] Clancy book, at 11:30 p.m. (they got a decent tailwind from the jetstream). He Metros home, arriving a little after midnight. TMFS pops a beer, lets the dogs out one last time, and then slips under the covers with the world's most beautiful woman.
"Next day, a little jet-lagged but functioning, TMFS is back in the office, as productive as ever. It is now approximately 26 hours later.
"In the meantime, the professor, having pulled an all-nighter, is somewhere near Split Lip, Oklahoma, still on the 'outward' leg of the journey, searching for an oldies station and hoping that more coffee won't further upset last night's Cajun Crab Dip Supreme.
"All things considered let's face it, America. Flying is worth it," Mr. Murray concludes. "Even in a crop duster."

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