He was touching his device

A section of the California Vehicle Code:

“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”

What if you’re neither listening nor talking? This was the pitch made by a defendant, who said that he was looking up something on Google Maps.

Not so fast, says the court:

“Our review of the statute’s plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock, or a device for sending and receiving text messages and e-mails.”

(Full text of decision [pdf].)

But then there’s this:

[A] new law went into effect during January 2013 that allows hands-free voice calls and texting. In order to accomplish this, the driver must use voice-operated applications that allow them to dictate, send and listen to wireless communication while driving.

So you’ll be slightly less distracted. Yay.

(Via Autoblog.)

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For all the new soldiers

I simply must link to this post of Tam’s, not only because it contains an epic ambush drill, but because it’s titled in Turkish, and correct Turkish at that. (Not all of us consistently get the dotted and undotted I sorted out. Even if it was just a cut/paste job, it’s easy to mess up.)

“Kapalıçarşı yeniçeri” she translates as the closest available equivalent to “ninja.” Fair enough. And I’d bet just about anything that she said it out loud and immediately recognized that second word as the source of our term “janissary.”

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A side glance

Lots of things happened on the 9th of April that were far more important than the opening of a Web site. On that date in 1947, tornadoes swept through Texas and Oklahoma, killing 181; on that date in 1989, the Soviet army broke up a demonstration in Tbilisi, Georgia, killing 20. On a happier note, on that date in 1965, supermodel Paulina Porizkova was born.

Paulina Porizkova

That’s funny, she doesn’t look happy.

Then again, she has some reservations about the industry in which she used to work:

When I was modeling in the 1980s, retouching was very expensive. It was hardly ever done. The models had to be a certain size, have perfect skin. Then along came Adobe Photoshop, and suddenly a 55-year-old actress can be doing a beauty campaign. I’m happy for her. But it did kill the model. Now models are nothing more than coathangers — skinny coathangers for hanging clothes on. It’s the designers’ fault. They’re designing with no regard for real women. They’re designing for a model who looks like a crow on a stick.

See also her 2007 novel A Model Summer.

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At seventeen

Surprisingly, this Web site is still not old enough to drink.

(This being a blogiversary of sorts, an Open Thread is proclaimed.)

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A piece of the cloud

Just signed up for DreamObjects, a cloud-storage solution offered by the surfer dudes who host this site. I figure, at some point I’ll need it, and I might as well take advantage of the promo pricing.

I have no idea how much stuff I plan to store up there, but they have storage plans from 20 GB a month (a buck thirty-five) to 100 TB a month ($4,500). Alternatively, there is usage-based billing, which costs a flat seven cents per gigabyte, plus seven to retrieve it. (Uploading it costs nothing.)

Ideas from the ground are of course welcomed. There’s already a plugin to back up the Web site from the WordPress admin. (The site runs about 2 GB.)

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Dullard sings what?

This BuzzFeed title is intriguing: 27 Of The Most Mind-Bogglingly Stupid Song Lyrics Of All Time. They could easily have come up with 270, or 2700, but these few are pretty bad.

To save you some scrolling time, here are the worst offenders: the Black Eyed Peas (two), Rihanna (two), Nicki Minaj (one and a half). One of the Peas’ tunes, in fact, manages to recite days of the week:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (Do it!)
Friday, Saturday, Saturday to Sunday (Do it!)

This is at least three days’ worse than whatzername.

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Chillaxion

There exists a recipe for ice cubes, because, as the person who posted it explained:

I’m publishing this recipe because I’m sure that there are other families who have members, who don’t know how or have forgotten how to make ice when the ice tray is empty.

And it’s pretty simple: two minutes to prepare, let stand in the freezer for two hours, and there you have it. Beyond the capacity of coworkers, though.

More amusing, perhaps, are the categories under which it’s listed: among others, Beverages, Very low carbs, and Lactose Free. Not a speck of gluten, either.

(Tip from @GaelFC: “Do not substitute vodka.”)

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Lizard simulation

Microsoft is apparently weary of, or embarrassed by, browser sniffers:

Some websites serve certain versions of Internet Explorer (we’re looking at you, 6) with custom CSS code in order to make sure the website displays in a readable way. These practices are known as “CSS hacks” and target IE6, 7, 8 with a different type of CSS code than other browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox.

Microsoft have replaced the “MSIE” string, which identifies the browser to the website as Internet Explorer, with just “IE,” meaning host websites won’t be able to use their current CSS hacks on IE11. To further ensure IE11 users don’t receive an odd version of the site, Microsoft also included the command “Like Gecko” which instructs the website to send back the same version of the website as they would to Firefox.

I have exactly one CSS hack for IE on this site. (If you care, it’s based on this one.)

If you’re not used to user-agent strings, here’s the one I leave behind:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:19.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/19.0

“NT 5.1,” in case you’ve forgotten, is better known as “XP.” (Windows 8, however, is not 8.0, but 6.2.) Every browser has some sort of string like this, usually with a nod to Mozilla. Among layout engines, Gecko ranks third, behind WebKit (used by Safari, Chrome, and various smartphones) and Trident (used by Internet Explorer).

Same machine, with Internet Explorer 8:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)

Why all these versions of Microsoft’s .NET framework feel compelled to mention themselves is beyond me. Then again, I seldom have any reason to mention .NET, and when I do, it’s not favorably.

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Strange search-engine queries (375)

Monday morning means more of these slightly dubious search strings, as received at this domain during the past seven days, and brought to you at this time in lieu of Useful Content.

thrashing a puppy:  A form of cruel and unusual punishment, especially since the poor little critter won’t have the slightest idea why you’re doing this to him.

cloramine effects rubber washers:  In general, the life of a washer is inversely proportional to the difficulty of replacing it.

plastic glaft:  Should that be, maybe, “prastic glaft”?

wii weeds grow through artificial tur:  This is the inevitable result of a prastic glaft.

jayne mansfield’s rack:  Beyond your wildest dreams.

is there dairy in the shelton’s turkey meatballs:  If you’re really lucky, there’s turkey in them.

pentacle for success:  Now you know how they got to be a five-star hotel.

is 2.2liters turbo engine a 5 cylinder car?  Look for the pentacle on the valve cover.

cd4e locks up in reverse:  Your car is cursed. You need a pentacle.

22 kildare avenue dustbury:  Must be on the very edge of town.

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Built on the XY platform

A TTAC reader calls for the production of a proper Man Sedan:

I’m sick of vanilla sedans for the soft-handed, androgynous, middle-aged, middle-management herd creatures found only in marketing research data.

I want a Chrysler 300 with a bomb-proof Chevy V8 small-block cranking out about 300hp-350hp. Manual locks, manual mirrors, manual windows, analog climate control knobs and such. Heavy steering, braking, and clutch like an air-cooled Porsche. Manual 6-speed transmission and manual 4-wheel-drive handle engagement like a Jeep Wrangler. I don’t want any flat-screen TV BS in the dash. I’ve got a smart phone. Do give me a rugged sporty cloth interior like a Nissan Xterra or Frontier. Something you can hose down after the dogs or kids ruin it every week. Make the carpets easily removable and put drains in the floor pan. None of that 22″ chrome wheels malarkey, either. I want 18″-19″ brushed aluminum Bullitt wheels with high profile tires that do hand to hand combat with crappy American roads.

I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that this desire for a Chevy mill in a Chrysler is motivated by disdain, not so much for Mopar powerplants, but for the weak-sauce appearance (to include front-wheel drive) of pretty much all non-sporting Chevys that aren’t actual pickup trucks. (Disclosure: I have yet to see the ’14 Impala in the, um, flesh.) Bullitt wheels, of course, are associated with Ford, so the Detroit 3 are all represented here.

And I think this could be adopted as a benchmark: if you want 22s, you’re a rider, not a driver.

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A range of goodies

For vintage (read “old”) hardware, this seems surprisingly au courant:

Tappan 400 range

Seventy-nine years after W. J. Tappan founded the Ohio Valley Foundry Company would bring us to 1960, although the 400 apparently debuted in 1959. (Here’s another picture with another expensively-dressed Hausfrau.) I shudder to think what this might have cost in 1959 dollars, which were worth about eight times as much as our current overinflated greenbacks.

(Found in Mom’s Basement. For a blow-up of individual features, see TappanTalk.)

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Knegative results

Before tipoff, this one looked pretty simple. Contain both Carmelo Anthony and J. R. Smith, and the Knicks fall. Contain neither of them, and the Knicks win easily. That leaves an intermediate position, and that’s the way it was looking with a minute and a half left, with ‘Melo at 31 and Smith at a modest 17 and OKC, having grabbed a brief one-point lead shortly before, was down only two. Then Smith rattled off five points in two shots in 31 seconds, and that was pretty much it: in the next 31 seconds, New York was up by eight, and the Thunder never got to within a single possession again. The Knicks go away with their twelfth straight win, 125-120, and perhaps good wishes from Loud City: can New York actually beat the hated Heat?

They did a pretty decent job of thrashing the Thunder, who shot nearly 58 percent and made nine of 17 treys; New York didn’t match those percentages, but they made it up in volume, getting 15 more shots, 17 more from outside. (Telltale statistic: Fifty-one three-pointers were attempted in this game, and the Knicks bagged two-thirds of them.) And New York had the rebounding advantage, 41-37 and 19-10 offensive. Did they get second-chance points? They were getting third-chance points.

Smith finished with 22, Anthony with 36 (and 12 rebounds), Tyson (we coulda had him) Chandler with 15. Pablo Prigioni started at the two in place of the ailing Amar’e Stoudemire, but it was the ultra-deep New York bench — Smith, Jason Kidd, Chris Copeland — that did the heavy lifting.

And it was another time for the Thunder to get numbers, but not much else. Russell Westbrook’s last-second trey, useless as it was, gave him a game-high 37; he finished two assists short of a triple-double. Kevin Durant finished with a reasonably Durantean 27. The reserves did their part, both Kevin Martin and Reggie Jackson collecting double figures. But some days you win with 95, some days you lose with 120.

The last road trip of the season approaches, and there’s not a patsy in the bunch: the Jazz, the Warriors and the Trail Blazers, three games over four nights. Nobody said this was going to be easy.

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A new New Yorker

Six months ago, Adam Gurri and his wife left the District of Columbia and moved to New York’s Upper West Side, and of course it’s a whole different world in the Apple:

I sold my car before coming here and commute entirely by subway. The Metro in DC is just incomparable to the subway system here. You can get almost anywhere in Manhattan so quickly from anywhere else there. In DC, ten minute waits are not uncommon, even at rush hour. In Manhattan, when you see that there is a four minute wait it often means that you only just missed a train. You also get the life experience of more than occasionally being packed into sardine can-like subway cars during rush hour, something you do not really experience in DC.

By which I assume he means that the Metro’s offerings do not compare to those of the MTA.

Of course, a ten-minute trip delay out where I live means that some idiot just discovered he was in the wrong lane and managed to block two, maybe three, lanes at once.

Nearly everywhere I’ve been in Manhattan has so many amenities within a couple of blocks. Our apartment is two short blocks away from a ton of stores — including a grocery store — for instance; there wasn’t anything that close to us in DC, and we were in a fairly dense neighborhood. There are an enormous number of lunch options literally on the same block as the Medialets office.

Amenities near where I work are nonexistent, unless you consider a by-the-hour place of lodging to be an amenity.

The level of intensity is several notches up across the board. People here will run you over on the road and walk over you on the sidewalk if you do not get with the program and move your ass.

Which is something I learned about a decade ago, although I was actually at the wheel at the time.

Still, Gurri makes the place sound exciting. Then again, he’s not the sort of person who swills Pepsi a liter at a time.

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Guestbusters!

Ken at Popehat thwarts one of those “guest blogger” types in his own inimitable fashion.

Disclosure: Ponies are involved.

Further disclosure: No, not those ponies.

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It starts with a soapbox

Fausta didn’t mention it on her blog, but she did send out a tweet, so I’m assuming it’s okay to mention it here. The Patch story:

Three candidates — two incumbents and a newcomer — have filed papers announcing their intention to seek a seat on Princeton Council in January, 2014.

Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon, both Democrats currently serving one-year terms, are seeking reelection.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz is a Republican newcomer to politics. A native speaker of both English and Spanish, she works as a freelance translator and blogs about Latin American issues.

“My campaign is about participating and integrating people from all parts of New Jersey, the U.S. and the world who come to live in our community and have their voices heard,” Wertz said.

All three candidates will appear on the November 2013 ballot. I’m guessing they’re seeking three-year terms, though things may have changed since January, when the Township and Borough of Princeton were consolidated into a single municipality. (They had separated in 1894 after a dispute over school taxes; three previous merger attempts had failed.) All the Council seats are at-large, so no redistricting is required.

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Stirring up the citrus

One of the blessings of spring, apart from not freezing one’s backside off, is the reappearance of spring fashions, which you didn’t wear for several months because, well, you’d freeze your backside off.

Jennifer put together a suitable-for-spring casual ensemble, including yellow snakeskin stilettos and an orange skirt (which is, she admits, actually a skort, perhaps on the red side of orange), took a picture from here down [gestures] and posted it, and drew a hissy fit from someone who disliked the color combination. Being an eminently sensible person, she posted the entire thread for the amusement of her readers, and noted for posterity:

For the record, I don’t mind if you don’t like my outfits. You don’t have to. I dress for me.

Which tells me that were she so inclined, she could do that whole fashion-blogging thing with aplomb, since that’s the one attitude which must be conveyed.

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