Nuggets of good news found among all bad
Rejoice – there’s some good news now and again to go along with all the bad.
For example, you’re likely among the Americans who saved more than $115 billion on gasoline in 2015. That works out to an average of $550 per licensed driver, says the Triple-A. That’s the good news.
The bad news – I can’t get my hands on my $550. When buying gasoline the past 12-months, I failed to put the savings from each fill-up into my piggy bank.
I also failed to realize how much I was saving because I charged all my gas, and just paid the credit card bill when it arrived each month without bothering to look at my gas savings. I guess I’ll just have to take the Triple-A’s word about how much I saved.
Another good news story has to do with the sense of smell. A French company is making alarm clocks that give off the aroma of coffee at the time you set them to wake you up. Imagine how nice that might be. The bad news is that the clock will sound an alarm to jar you awake if you sleep through the wafting coffee fragrance it gives off.
You might be pleased to hear that air travel was really safe last year. The fatal accident rate was just one in 5 million flights, half of the total the year before. The bad: if you were on the flight that crashed, your luck had run out and you’re not reading this. But the 1:5,000,000 odds are quite good.
On the subject of air travel, there might be some good news – if Congress approves. An Illinois congressman has introduced a bill to prevent airlines from charging a fee to use the airplane toilet.
The idea to charge a toilet fee came from the chief executive of an Irish airline, but hasn’t gone anywhere. The congressman wants to make sure nothing like that happens here.
The bad news is that the bill may not see the light of day because Congress has a few other priorities to attend to. Still, it’s hard to believe any airline would take the step to charge because the bad publicity it would generate would far outweigh any financial benefit. So the advice to any airline considering it is “flush it.”
If you happened to be a female blessed with good looks, you might have done better in school than, say, somebody who’s lacking in physical attraction. That conclusion comes for a report delivered at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association. It cited research at a Denver college that found college-age women who are physically attractive get better grades than those who aren’t.
If that’s true, and you’re a young lady about to attend college, it may pay in the long run to get up a few minutes earlier and make yourself attractive.
Two other takeaways from the study – the gap between male and female grades disappeared in online courses where the instructor couldn’t see the student. The bad news was for male students. The researchers couldn’t find any significant disparity between grades and attractiveness for men whether they were attractive or ugly.
There’s both good and bad news in television this year.
The good news is for TV stations that stand to make a killing on political ads this year. Analysts say such TV spending will reach $4.4 billion. The bad news is that we all have to endure these spots or else turn off the TV.
Ads that candidates buy won’t line the coffers as much as ads for political action committees. Federal law requires TV and radio stations to charge federal candidates the lowest unit rate available in any time period. So the stations won’t make as much money from candidates as they would by selling the time to other sponsors.
But wait – stations can charge whatever they want for political action committee ads, and that’s where TV’s good fortune comes in. Demand for advertising time will rise until Election Day, meaning TV stations can hike rates to take advantage of their limited ad inventory. Local TV stations, according to experts, will see their revenue rise by more than 12 percent this year. Political ads will bring in an estimated $3.6 billion to these stations.
Political ads on TV will drive us all crazy by Election Day in November, as one out of every three TV ads will be for political candidates.
Advertising Age, a trade publication, explains, “In some battleground markets, a presidential race can soak up a third or more of local broadcast TV advertising time, crowding out auto dealers, who are typically the biggest buyers of local TV ad time …”
The dealers rely heavily on TV ads to keep car sales humming. Already, revenues at a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, TV stations are up 150 percent from last year.
A while back, I wrote about a visit we made to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala., where U.S. airlines send lost items that nobody claimed. The bad news for bargain seekers is that because of an improved lost-and-found system, United Airlines now won’t be sending nearly as much lost merchandise to Scottsboro, so Unclaimed Baggage Center shoppers won’t have as big a choice as they do now.
The good news is that if you lost something on a United flight, your chances of getting it back from the airline are greatly improved. Until putting the new structure in place, United returned about 15,000 of every 100,000 items lost, somebody’s dentures among them.
In 2015, with its new system in operation, the airline returned half the lost items to owners.
Good news, indeed.