Utah Law Enforcement to Crack Down on Speeders, Impeders

Local police agencies, the Utah Department of Transportation, and the Utah Highway Patrol are teaming up for a month-long sweep of lawbreaking drivers on Utah freeways, both to clamp down on speeders and to inform drivers of Utah’s ill-understood ‘impedance’ law.

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In the state of Utah, it is a violation to drive slowly in the left-hand lane of a multi-lane highway if it impedes faster traffic—even if driving at or above the speed limit. Impeding traffic reduces traffic flow and can lead to traffic jams and road rage.

According to a joint press release early Monday, troopers will be on the lookout throughout the month for both speeders and impeders. “Officers will be deployed throughout the month to educate and inform Utah’s drivers that road laws are just that, the law, and that they make the roads safer for everybody.”

“Basically, we just ding everybody we catch driving in the left lane,” said Sgt. Duane Ontiveros of the Utah Highway Patrol. “If you’re not going 15 over, you’re probably impeding the guy tailgating you, and we are going to pull you over and cite you. But if you are going 15 over, now we’re definitely pulling you over for that.”

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According to Sgt. Ontiveros, troopers can’t possibly pull over every violating car, so will be focusing on certain groups such as ‘hot chicks’, cars with out-of-state plates, and ‘hippie granola types’ driving Priuses or other hybrids.

“Those tree-huggers are the absolute worst. They all drive down the highway either at 55 or 95—there’s no in-between with them. And when you pull them over, especially if they’re impeding, they complain about the rule and then they complain about getting a ticket. I wasn’t even going to give them one, but hey buddy your bellyaching is paying for our UHP Christmas party this year.”

“One time though I saw a Tesla flying past Point of the Mountain. I clocked it at 102 but it was just so amazing looking that I couldn’t bring myself to pull the guy over. It was like almost a religious experience.”

Drivers have mixed feelings about the ‘impeding’ law. While some support the new rule, others prefer the state stick to enforcing speed limits.

“I’ve always felt it my right and my duty as a sovereign citizen to encourage others to follow the posted speed limit”, says Carl Christiansen of Provo. “It just give me such a sense of pride and well-doing when I keep some maniac from barreling down the highway at a hundred miles an hour because I’m taking up the left lane and going 65. The only other time in my life I’ve felt such a sense of satisfaction was when I worked at the BYU Honor Code Office.”

“It’s the first I ever heard of this new impeding law”, as he polished the rear bumper of his 2010 Impala, which had recently been damaged in a freeway collision, and had been replaced a month before that because of another freeway collision.

“It just seems stupid that because I am helping to enforce a law, they say I’m breaking another one. I’m just doing my part to keep the streets safe!”

The Highway Patrol encourages drivers to stop speeders not by driving slowly in the fast lane, but by texting 1-800-SPEED-NO with a very detailed description of the offending vehicle. A spokesman for UHP also said that in February officers will be focusing on enforcement of the “Hands Free Driving” law.

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7 Reasons Bronco Mendenhall Should Not Be Fired

Bronco’s been dealt a bad hand, people. Yeah, this season was a bust, but this offseason we’re not rebuilding, we’re reloading. Anyone will drop the ball if you hit them hard enough, but the BYU football team is a Band of Brothers and Bronco will lead them back to the Promised Land. I’d like to take one minute to celebrate the tradition, spirit, and honor that Coach Mendenhall has brought to BYU football.

1. Bronco Mendenhall has a deep and thorough knowledge of the tactics of college football–what works, and what doesn’t.

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2. Bronco is a coach who respects his players, involving them at all steps in his decision making…

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…and never unnecessarily putting them in harm’s way.

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3. He consistently trains his athletes to execute at a higher level.

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4. His teams are magnanimous in victory…

Soak it in, boys, this is what 8-4 feels like.

5. …and gracious in defeat.

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6. Even after graduation, his players stay true to what they learned under him and become pillars of their communities.

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(Especially compared to the classless football players at that university up north.)

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7. No matter the struggle, we know Bronco is in it for the long haul.

 

 

In Ferguson, Dellwood, and surrounding towns, nameless, faceless cowards pillage and rage under the protection of the crowd as they torch businesses, destroy livelihoods, and stone innocents.

Meanwhile, in bedrooms, freshman dorms, and mother’s basements across middle-class America, nameless, faceless cowards mock and exult under the protection of aliases and avatars as they deride the confusion and hurt of a community. These damages are not easily tangible in dollars and cents, but are just as depraved and destructive.

The First Amendment never guaranteed the right to force a platform to provide a cloak of anonymity for cowardly invective. A speaker can refuse to own their words, but a forum has no obligation, moral or otherwise, to publish those words detached from the true identity of their speaker. Anonymity can be an enabler for the weak speaking truth to power, but is far more often used to bully and degrade.

What follows is about thirty seconds of comments on the YouTube livestream for yesterday’s grand jury announcement in St. Louis County and subsequent cut to the then-fermenting protests in Ferguson.

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OK YouTube. I Still Don’t Get Israel-Palestine but At Least I Get Your Version Of It

Apparently Israel and Palestine are fighting, a lot, because people are posting videos on social media to explain the Israel-Palestine conflict to us. If you look up ‘Israel Palestine’ on Youtube you will see thousands of well-edited videos with authoritative titles like ‘Explaining the Israel-Palestinian Conflict in Seven Minutes.’ I’ve seen three in particular making the rounds on my News Feed:

This one, about six minutes, basically says, “The Israel-Palestine conflict is this: The Arabs want the Jews dead or out of Palestine. And they won’t stop attacking Israel until they get it which is why Israel fights back…to defend itself.”

This one is also six minutes and says, “The Israel-Palestine conflict is this: The Jews occupied Palestinians’ land and are oppressing the Arabs who live there now. They took the good land and natural resources and make it impossible for a Palestine to thrive. And instead of helping Israel and Palestine negotiate peace, the US is causing more war by funding the Israeli military and letting them build settlements in Palestine.”

 

Oh, and then there’s…

I guess you could say it says “People kill each other in the name of their gods and that’s just how it is and how it’s always been.” Probably implicitly it says that the killing is bad. … I know you can’t always reduce the reasons for a war into five-minute YouTube videos but it seems like each video makes points the other side ignores instead of answers. And these points are important and I wished I understood both sides of them better.

 

1) You think Israel should stop attacking the Gaza Strip? OK. If they stop, will Hamas keep attacking? If not, what will it take for Hamas to stop? Under what conditions will Hamas (and most Arab states) recognize Israel as a nation instead of saying it should be wiped off the map? If none of these answers lead to peace, what would lead Palestinians to remove Hamas from power?

 

2) You think Palestinians should stop attacking Israel, form a Palestine state and live in peace? OK. Why is Israel in the West Bank that belongs to the Palestinians? Why are they building settlements there? Will they leave the settlements if Palestine organizes a ‘state’? Will they cede control of Palestine’s share of water, farmland, and the rest?

 

3) You think peace will come through ‘divesting’ or ‘boycotting’? Great. Explain to me how, economically, that will make any difference in the Israel-Palestine conflict that might lead to peace.

 

Thanks YouTube opinionators! Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

West LA Foodie Roundup and Review – April 2014

It’s been an exciting month for the upscale fast-casual dining set here on the Westside. Since our last update, we’ve heard of Sunny Spot launching their new Monday Night Sliders menu, the much-anticipated re-opening of the Doughroom in Palms, and Phorage’s recent sucess, among other enticing developments.

Prevalent among all these openings and market entries lately is the expansion, bustle, and jockeying of the artisan pizza niche market. After 800 Degrees’s disruption over a year ago of CPK and their ilk, a number of copycat alternatives have popped up, like Blaze Pizza, Project Pie, PizzaRev, and more. Each has their own take on this new breed of fast-casual, conveyer-belt-style pizza, whether it be a crispier crust, tangier sauce, or truffle cheeses, but each chain is aiming and hoping to be the new Subway of pizza.

Well earlier this month we had some more news in this space that is sure to shake up the competition. 800 Degrees and Blaze (and their associated investors, including Maria Shriver and LeBron James) may hope with their dominant market share and strong positive buzz to be the Subway of pizza, but there’s a new, 800-pound gorilla of a pizzamaker in the room:

 

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That’s right, Subway is the new Subway of pizza.

The concept is enticing both for my taste buds and my wallet (two Flatizzas for $5, for a limited time, is just about as good a deal as anything I can think of), so I decided to pop on by my local Subway and try this exciting new selection.

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My first impression upon getting in line and ordering was how well prepared Subway has been to enter the pizza-making business. It’s like their business model has been screaming, “Mamma mia, that’s a spicy pizza!” and they just barely started listening to those tangy screams. When you get a subway sandwich, you pick your bread, then your meat, then your cheese, then you get it toasted, then you add veggies and sauce.

I ordered two different flatizzas – one cheese and one Italian meats – to fully enjoy the variety of flavors on the menu. Since the assembly process for pizzas is a little different, starting with sauce, then cheese, then meats and veggies, then the toaster oven, my little pizzas got shuffled from one end of the assembly line to the other about five times. Ingeniously, this infused the flatbread crust with the hand-tossed texture I have come to expect from other fast-casual pizza chains, and the traces of rubber in the flatbread helped protect my pizza from any potential shocks or traumas that could have come from being jostled about so much. Since I came during the lunch rush, my Sandwich Artist (or, should I say, Pizza Artisan?) was assertive in placing herself where she needed to be to get to the salami and olives, other people’s sandwiches be damned. This pivot of emphasizing pizzas over boring Subway Clubs can only be awarded bonus points, in my book.

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When my pizzas were done, they were lovingly placed in Flatizza custom packaging, as shown above, and then tossed haphazardly into a plastic Subway bag. This novel packaging process not only protected my pizza from the elements, but absorbed excess grease, cheese, and toppings that I really didn’t need. This is a step that the other players in fast-casual pizza haven’t yet taken, but they probably should. In this day and age, we need all the help we can get to avoid excess calories, and my hat is off to Subway for developing this new technology.

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In summary, Subway is a force to be reckoned with on the West LA pizza scene, and a highly qualified suitor for your lunchtime allegiances. 800 Degrees and Blaze must be shaking in their Italian boots, but are hopefully developing new strategies to match Subway’s quality product and innovations. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to be in the bathroom for the next 45 minutes.

Hollywood Highlights

There’s been a lot of buzz about the new Russell Crowe / Hermione vehicle “Noah” that opens this week. Some of that buzz, unfortunately, has been negative, with accusations of liberal bias. The movie has also been banned in several (mostly predominantly Muslim) countries, and a competing film depicting the same story has been promoted on YouTube since January and is now available for download or DVD order.

Among all this news, controversy, and excitement comes news of a previously unseen trailer for an early-edition cut of the movie. Apparently the movie was originally written to have a more lighthearted bent, but for some reason changes were made to the script. Attempts to reach out to director Darren Aronofsky for comment have so far been unsuccessful.

 

The Paywall Problem

The problem is, they don’t work. If you’re just a reader of newspapers (like me) and not an employee, or someone else who relies on the economic viability of news organizations, you may not consider this a problem.

You can find an embarrassment of blog posts and Lifehacker articles on how to be sneaky and outsmart the terrible newspaper paywalls, including but not limited to: using multiple browsers, deleting your cookies regularly, using Google as a proxy, etc., etc., but for many big newspapers you only need to know three words:

Chrome Incognito Mode.

It’s surprising, hilarious, and sad that some of our nation’s most important newspapers think that it’s important to their revenue to build a fence around their content, but not important to make sure the fence is more than ten inches tall. Exhibits A (Washington Post), B (New York Times), and C (Los Angeles Times):Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 1.51.52 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-23 at 1.51.57 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-23 at 1.35.05 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-23 at 1.35.21 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-23 at 1.35.52 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-23 at 1.35.59 PM

All these screenshots were taken Sunday, March 23, 2014, and nothing crazy was done in terms of Internet settings or backdoors (other than using Chrome in Incognito mode). These paywalls are like the Canadian Border Patrol–they’ll let anything through, and apologize for your trouble.

On the other hand, it’s interesting to see how the newspapers whose paywalls aren’t made of Swiss cheese report on businesses, presumably businesses that actually make more than a half-hearted attempt at collecting revenue. Here are the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

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Gee, I wonder why they’ve got their paywalls a little more figured out?

Now let me make this disclaimer: I think working paywalls are a good thing. If free news–excuse me–“content” sites have to make their profit by leading with ad-laden, clickbait garbage like ’27 Incredibly Easy Ways to Spring Clean’:

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and burying the nation’s top story in small type down-site, I don’t want my intellect to be rotted by this tripe, and I can waste my time by playing outside instead. But good, responsible, productive journalism needs to make money from subscribers, not just ads, or it will not survive. And it will not survive if it allows readers to keep accessing its content for free by pressing Ctrl-Shift-N (or ⌘-Shift-N on a Mac, you’re welcome.) I mean, as long as I can get it for free I’m going to. I’m not a charity and neither are most potential newspaper subscribers. But until newspapers can better protect their content, they’re going to keep firing real news reporters in favor of ‘user-sourced content’, or, worse, drivel-producing, ideologue, glorified bloggers.

Can somebody please explain this to the Web developers of the Washington Post, LA Times, and NY Times? Thanks.