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October 18, 2009|Suzanne Muchnic; Shari Roan; Adam Tschorn; Valerie J. Nelson


Historic maps go on display

While the 11th International Istanbul Biennial is showing off the ancient city's youthful side in a sprawling contemporary art exhibition, installed in three locations around town, Istanbul's Bahcesehir University is sending a trove of historical maps on a world tour. And it's coming to Southern California.

"The Katip Celebi Ottoman Map and Cultural Exhibition," organized by the Turkish university's Civilization Studies Center, will make its first U.S. appearance at Cal State San Bernardino's Anthropology Museum in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building, Oct. 19-31.

The collection of rare artifacts comprises works by 16th and 17th century geographers and cartographers, including Piri Reis and Katip Celebi, who based their world view on personal observations and experiences as well as maps made by their predecessors. Visitors will find the Islamic world's first set of comprehensive atlases and a wide variety of hand-drawn maps offering insight into scholarship and intellectual curiosity during the Ottoman Empire.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

From Culture Monster: All the arts, all the time

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Complying with cellphone laws

California First Lady Maria Shriver got caught last week driving while using a hand-held cellphone. But a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that a significant number of people are not adapting well to the bans.

In the District of Columbia, the proportion of drivers using hand-held phones dropped nearly half just after the district's 2004 ban took effect. But rates have since crept up a bit (from 6% before the ban to 3% just afterward to about 4% in June), according to an institute study.

Hand-held cellphone use while driving also fell after bans took effect in New York and Connecticut but then went back up somewhat. More women tend to break the law than men, and most of the outlaws are between the ages of 25 and 59. People older than 60 rarely use a hand-held phone while driving.

"What's clear from the surveys, despite some variability in their findings, is that bans on hand-held phoning while driving can have big and long-term effects, but the safety implications still aren't clear," Adrian Lund, the institute's president, said in a news release. "Many drivers still use their hand-held phones, even where it's banned, and other drivers simply switch to hands-free phones, which doesn't help because crash risk is about the same, regardless of phone type."

According to research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute published in 2006, a driver has a threefold increased risk of crashing when dialing a hand-held phone.

Still, the state laws have reduced the number of drivers using hand-held phones, the authors of the new report said. They estimated that the use is 65% lower in Connecticut, 24% lower in New York and 43% lower in D.C. than it would have been without the bans.

-- Shari Roan

From Booster Shots: Oddities, musings and news from the world of health

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Fox new face of underwear ads

If you think the ubiquitous Megan Fox is overexposed now, just wait until January.

That's when the femme of the "Transformers" franchise, men's magazine cover girl du jour, "Tonight" show flirt, "Saturday Night Live" host and "Jennifer's Body" ghoul-about-town starts appearing scantily clad in advertisements for Emporio Armani underwear.

The Giorgio Armani press office posted a release Wednesday officially announcing that Fox will be the new official worldwide face for Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans for 2010. She replaces Victoria Beckham, who memorably stripped down to her unmentionables for Emporio Armani and whose soccer-star husband David Beckham appeared in the label's skivvies for the men's campaign.

The ad campaign was apparently shot last weekend in Los Angeles by fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. While the announcement doesn't give a start date for the "soon-to-be-revealed" magazine and billboard advertising campaign, according to fashion trade paper WWD, the campaign will roll out worldwide in January.

-- Adam Tschorn

From All the Rage: The Image staff muses on the culture of keeping up appearances

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One of the perils of obit writing

Why wasn't the family of B-movie actress Pamela Blake, who died Oct. 6, getting back to me? Over two days, I had left several messages on what I thought was her son Mike's cellphone. The number had been provided by a former Times colleague who was also Mike's friend.

When I call again, a live voice finally answers.

"This is Mike's wife," she says, "but Mike's mother is not dead. He called his mother to make sure she is still alive."

At least she is laughing as she tells me this.

I let out a huge "Oh, no!" and apologize profusely, then can't help but giggle myself.

Turns out cellphone Mike's mother is not Pamela Blake. I have been helpfully provided with an outdated phone number for Blake's son that has already been passed along to another Mike.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

From Afterword: Musing with the news obituaries staff

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