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May 22, 2009

One more reason not to go to a movie theater to see a film

John Kelly's column in Wednesday's Washington Post featured the latest insult (on top of talkers, uncomfortable seats with people kicking their backs, sticky trash-strewn floors, out-of-focus pictures, sound that's too loud/soft and/or fuzzy/distorted, absurdly high concession prices for snacks you don't want, waiting in long lines for high-priced tickets, people getting up to use the bathroom and banging their way across your knees as they make their way in and out right at the exciting part, endless boring trailers and commercials along with various warnings about stuff like talking, people sitting in front of you whose heads block your view of the screen, etc.): theater texters, with their glowing screens out at the periphery of your vision distracting you from the main event.

Here's what Kelly had to say.


Here's a Message for Theater Texters: You're Being Rude. Knock It Off.

If history has taught us anything, it's that humans are incredibly inventive. The brassiere, the harmonica, the cannoli, the ink-jet printer: The sheer number and variety of things mankind and womankind have invented is nothing short of amazing.

But what humans seem to be best at inventing are new ways to annoy other humans.

The unholy union of the movie projector and the cellphone is the latest irritation, not because of people who talk on the phone during a film but because of people who text on it. Almost every time I've been at the movies recently, someone has been reading or writing a text on his or her phone, the bright little screen burning distractingly at the periphery of my vision, like some annoying floater shining in the vitreous humor of my eyeball.

I've even noticed it at the AFI Silver Theatre, not the sort of place that attracts unruly teens who shout back at the characters. When I saw "The Soloist" last week, a gentleman sitting alone a few rows in front of me spent the first third of the film consulting his phone, its tiny glowing screen competing with Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx on the big glowing screen.

What to do? I was about to creep down and ask him to put the phone away when he got up and left. What vitally important text message did he receive that prompted his mid-movie exit? "My water broke"? "Your pizza is ready"? "We got bin Laden!"?

Actually, I don't care what it was. I just don't want him texting.

Texting during a movie is rude for a couple of different reasons. There's the aforementioned distraction -- the human brain is now wired to zoom in on any and all screens in view -- but there's also the message that it sends: This movie bores me, says the texter. The rest of you morons may be able to suspend disbelief, convincing yourselves that despite sitting in a dark room clutching a $5 soda and a $5 bag of popcorn you're really on the Starship Enterprise or in a secret chamber underneath the Vatican. Not me. I'm wired to the outside world.

For me, another problem is that My Lovely Wife gets even more irritated by movie-texting ("mexting"?) than I do. That means I have to worry about her. How much will she embarrass me with her Charles Bronson-style vigilantism? During a recent high-school band concert (it happens there too, and in live theater performances) she walked down to a teenage girl and whispered, in a voice that I'm sure was honey on sharpened steel: "I'm sorry, your iPhone is very distracting. Can you turn it off, please?"

The girl grunted some sort of assent, lowered the phone on her lap about a millimeter then continued to tap away at it.

I convinced my wife that rather than reenact "Death Wish," we should just move seats. But you can't always do that, especially when texters are spread throughout the theater like fireflies on a summer's night.

"It takes you right out of the movie," Jon Gann of the D.C. Film Alliance told me. "We're all so consumed by ourselves and our technology. If your life is that busy, then you shouldn't be at the theater. If you're that bored, get up and leave."

Some theaters have added "no texting" notices to the "no talking/look for the nearest exit/buy our candy" slides they show before the film starts. One will soon be going up at the AFI, said the theater's Susan Bluttman. "It's getting to be a problem everywhere," she said. "[Managers] have noticed it here. Hopefully that slide will be ready soon and we will alert people to please be aware of their text habits."

A few high-profile Taserings would probably work wonders, too.

May 22, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Dots Obsession: New Century, 2000 — by Yayoi Kusama


11 balloons, vinyl dots, variable dimensions (installation).

One of my favorite contemporary artists.

Apply within.

[via ATl.VS.PDX]

May 22, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'All experience is great providing you live through it' — Alice Neel

She added, "If it kills you, you've gone too far."

So begins Peter Schjeldahl's appreciation of the great American portrait painter (1900-1984) in the current issue (May 25, 2009) of the New Yorker.

Along with the article is an audio slide show on Neel's paintings.

More here.

May 22, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's most stylish bread basket


Two stainless steel rings + any napkin = bread basket.


An elegant 1997 design by Martín Azúa.


Apply within.


Part of the current "Foodjects: Design and the New Cuisine from Spain" exhibition at Apartment Zero in Washington, D.C.

May 22, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Blue Spruce will let the world's experts consult on your case


Long story short: It's IBM's new multimedia platform intended to let individuals anywhere on the planet work simultaneously on one screen.

Here's Richard MacManus's March 17, 2009 article about the new new thing in telemedicine.


IBM Announces Web-Based Radiology Theatre

IBM has announced an online "radiology theatre" product, currently at the prototype stage, which allows teams of medical experts to "simultaneously discuss and review patients' medical test data using a Web browser." The project is being run in collaboration with the Brigham and Women's Hospital of Boston and is built on IBM's next-generation browser platform Blue Spruce, which ReadWriteWeb reviewed when it was first announced back in November. IBM also used the WebKit Open Source Browser Engine. The app runs on the Linux or MacOS X operating systems and the browser may be Safari or Internet Explorer.

According to IBM, it has created a secure Web site that allows select medical experts at Brigham and Women's Hospital to access and collaborate on data such as CT scans, MRIs, EKGs and other medical tests. Each medical expert can "talk and be seen through live streaming audio/video through their standard web connection, and have the ability to whiteboard over the Web page as well as input information to the patient's record." Basically it is a secure multimedia experience running inside a single browser window, using Blue Spruce as the platform.

A reminder that Blue Spruce is a fully browser-based application development platform, currently in development, which is being built on open Web standards. The main feature of Blue Spruce is that it allows for a combination of different Web components - data mashups, high-definition video, audio and graphics - to run simultaneously on the same browser page. It's important to note that the Radiology Theatre app only requires a standard Web browser (as long as it's Safari or IE!) - so there's nothing to download for the end user, in this case doctors.

The radiology theatre is the latest in a series of prototypes for Blue Spruce. The current prototypes are focused on 3 main areas: finance, health and "heavy industry" (which it previously defined as utilities, rail, steel, etc).

This is how IBM described how the new online radiology theatre will work:

"A group of doctors can log into a secure Web site at the same time to review and analyze a patient's recent battery of tests. For instance, a radiologist could use her mouse to circle an area on the CT scan of a lung that needs a closer look. Then using the mouse she could zoom into that scan to enlarge the view for all to see. An expert on lung cancer could use his mouse to show how the spot had changed from the last scan. And then, a pathologist could talk about patient treatments based on spots of that size depending on age and prior health history, paging through clinical data accessible on the site."

"The theatre allows all these experts to discuss, tag and share information simultaneously, rather than paging through stacks of papers, calling physicians to discuss scan results and then charting the results. This collaborative consultation brings together the personal data, the experts and the clinical data in one physical, visual theatre."

Perhaps the biggest potential benefit of the online radiology theatre is that it will enable experts from all over the world to consult on cases. The ability for multiple users to "cobrowse" (as IBM has termed it) means they can interact in the browser in real-time and see each other's changes.

Of course, since this is medical data, there are significant privacy implications involved in using the Internet to collaborate. But we're pleased to see that IBM's Blue Spruce is being put to such a worthy use and we look forward to seeing other applications this year and beyond.


[via Ray Earhart, whose final fantasy consists of having me give him anesthesia from atop my treadmill. Soon come, Ray]

May 22, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Study Ball and Chain — 'For those who have trouble concentrating'


Created by Emilio Alarcón, "This prison-style ball and chain with built-in timer will help you study."

From the website:


Study Ball and Chain

The Study Ball and  Chain is a prison-style ball and chain that you can program to keep track of how much time you spend studying.

Once you’ve selected the desired duration, you chain the ball to your ankle and the manacle won’t come off until the schedule study time is up.

A red LED indicator displays study time remaining and keeps you informed as to how much longer you’ve got to keep studying.

The ball and chain are made of highly durable steel and weigh a total of 20.95 pounds (9.5 kg), which makes it difficult to move while wearing it.

Quite often, students who are having problems concentrating  tend to get up every 10 minutes to watch TV, talk on the phone, take something out of the fridge, or indulge in any of a long list of other distractions.

Were they to dedicate all this wasted time to studying, they would optimize their performance and have more free time available.

Study Ball and Chain helps you study more and more efficiently.

For security reasons, Study Ball may not be programmed for more than 4 straight hours of study time.

We recommend that minors use Study Ball only under adult supervision.

The gadget has a safety key that allows you to open the manacle at any time and interrupt the scheduled study time.

It’s an original gift that is especially recommended for desperate parents whose children won’t study, people preparing for civil service exams who have trouble concentrating, and for all sorts of students in general.

It’s also recommended for freelance workers: web designers, computer programmers, bloggers, architects, translators, and anyone else who spends long hours sitting in front of the computer.

When not in use as a study aid, it’s a pretty decorative item that’s the perfect accessory for any room in your home.

Spanish designer Emilio Alarcón, who created it, said, "Studying can be fun and enriching if you do it once in a while, but no one likes to study for days on end, especially not with an exam date looming overhead. The project was born of a conversation I had with a friend who was studying for a civil service exam… he said: 'I haven’t left the house in a week, this is like being in jail.'"


Chain length: 16.5" (42cm)

• Ball diameter: 10.6" (27cm)

• Requires 3 AAA batteries (included)

• Easy-to-use timer — when study time is up, it beeps to let you know you can remove the ball and chain



It'll also guarantee you plenty of elbow room at the library.


May 22, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Best T-shirt label of the year


[via Relentlessly Optimistic]

May 22, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack



From the website:



Pour motor oil, pesticides, and other fluids without splashing, dripping, or spilling.

With this pour spout you get two Snap & Pour Spouts [top] and one double-threaded (28mm and 38mm threads) Adapt-A-Jug spout [below].

The pour spout is for use with most gallon, quart, pint and 1 & 2-liter containers.

Made from 30% recycled polypropylene.




May 22, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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