Tag Archives: art

Rudeness is destroying the arts

or Why I Don’t Leave The House Anymore

“Am I disturbing you?”

The last movie I saw in the theater was the 3-D version of Beowulf. The theater was fairly empty–maybe 30-40 people total. Two teenage girls sat two seats to my left. A man was in front of me. The two girls talked loudly through before the movie and when it started, they didn’t stop. They continued to talk and laugh loudly until the man in front gave up first:

Man: Excuse me ladies, the time for talking is over.

Girl: I ain’t talking to you! You turn right around and shut up. I ain’t disturbin’ no one.

Main: if you don’t stop talking, I will go get a manager and have you thrown out.

Girl: You shut up. Turn around, turn around… turn around mister.

Girl: <to me> excuse me, sir, am I disturbing you?

I looked at her and said, “Yes, you are.”

She shut up after that.

That wasn’t all in this showing. A man/woman couple behind me had the following exchange:

Woman: shut off your phone!

Man: I ain’t shutting off my phone! I don’t shut off my phone for anyone–I don’t even shut it off in church!

Woman: shut it off!

Man: No way!

(this repeated a few times in a similar vein.)

This man got up and left half way through the movie when his phone went off. He came in 20 minutes later with a friend, and they stood in the doorway and talked VERY loudly to each other and on the phone. The man in front of me got up and asked them to leave, and they did..after a minute or two.

What goes through the heads of these imbeciles?

“Thanks for coming to our bachelorette party!”

My mother, grandmother, and family friend were in London. They got tickets to see Dirty Dancing (which they thought was good, but not as good as the movie of course). Apparently that show is popular as a destination for girls’ bachelorette parties. The entire performance was punctuated by screams and yells every time the lead male came out.

I’m not against a good time, but this is the theater not a private party. Most of the audience is there to see a show. The theater should advertise certain days as more appropriate for this thing–theater aficionados beware.

“It isn’t real Texas theater unless you get drunk off your rocker.”

When my wife was visiting family in San Antonio they got tickets to see the touring Phantom of the Opera. They had nosebleed seats, which made the experience even more unfortunate.

Apparently, the theater serves beer throughout the performance–not just intermission. The guys in front of them got up half a dozen times to refill their beer glass throughout the show, blocking their view for a significant period of time. Add to this, the glare from the beer glasses, the opening of cell phones during the performance, bathing everyone in bluish glow, talking, and basically acting as if they were at a rodeo.

What is wrong with people that this is accepted behavior? Why aren’t these people kicked out more often? we (I’m including myself)willing to tell them their behavior is unacceptable and get management to act  ? And I mean without a refund–maybe even a fine or a ban.

Edit: My wife was so upset at the experience that she wrote the theater a letter of complaint.

Yeah, I’m a snob. So what–it doesn’t make me wrong.

All of these stories come down to rudeness at a basic level. People just don’t care what effect their actions will have on others. Sooner or later, this will creep up into the higher arts–classical music and opera, if it hasn’t already. Nobody will enjoy anything because of the few who just don’t care and ruin the experience for everybody.

I actually don’t think I’ll ever attend the theater to see a film again. We finally bought our first TVand a sound system. It’s modest, but it’s better than having expensive experiences marred by idiots.


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Fighting Brain Rot

Alex Shalman has a great post at zenhabits about how to avoid letting your brain decay into apathy and atrophy. It’s a great call to action, to find ways of self-improvement. I think the behaviors listed here dovetail very nicely with the attributes of highly effective programmers.

By continuing to do as we always have, the quality of results will be the same as always. Only when we step out of our comfort zones, and push ourselves to improve, will we gain useful new experiences, knowledge, and ideas.

I think the methods of expanding the mind are highly applicable to software developers. I just have a little bit of commentary on each one.

11. Reading – I think I would have put this at #1. It’s the easiest way of cramming information into your skull. It’s the most efficient method of information transfer, and that’s our bread-and-butter as programmers, so we should become expert at it.

10. Writing – We write code for a living, not necessarily prose, but communication is key to so many areas in life, that learning how to write effectively is critical to most careers. For myself, I definitely find it easier to express myself in writing than in-person. Doing this well becomes a critical ability.

9. Puzzles – Developing a large software project is in many ways like an enormous software project. It’s so large, though, that we can’t comprehend it all at the same time. But practicing other types of puzzles can train our brains to look for patterns and to develop new, creative ways of thinking. My favorite offline puzzle is the New York Times Crossword, but I enjoy the occasional sudoku.

8. Mathematics – a good understanding of boolean logic, prepositional calculus, discrete mathematics, asymptotic notation, etc. are great things for developers to have. A general understanding of algebra, calculus, trigonometry, and statistics also comes in handy more-than-occasionally. Another valuable idea that comes out of mathematical understanding is the idea of precision in thought and rigorousness in testing or understanding your software–think loop invariants.

7. Painting – I am definitely not an artist by any means, but the underlying principle of some kind of artistic self-expression is important. The creative side of your brain must be regularly exercised. For me, this is in the form of building Legos.

6. Cooking – I initially found this to be a peculiar choice, but it makes more sense when I ponder it. Cooking is at once creative and precise. Not only does it use all the senses, but it requires you to think on your feet and be very, very organized and detail oriented, especially when you start cooking for more people. Planning and execution both become huge issues.

5. Music – I wholeheartedly agree, and I’ll even go out on a limb and say that you need to listen to lots of genres of music, especially classical. Why classical? Because it exhibits more musical complexity than all others. It doesn’t minimize various musical aspects (variation, melody, harmony, tempo, timbre, i.e.) for the sake of a single one (i.e., rhythm).

4.Poetry – I used to write fiction and poetry in high school and earlier, but it’s been quite a while. I do remember it being quite the exercise to compose sonnets–it forces you to be extremely creative with grammar, syntax, meaning, vocabulary, and more.

3. Meditate – This is an art I need to learn more about. I find I do this automatically in some situations where I’m not otherwise preoccupied (the shower), and I can solve a question I’ve had. I find that NOT doing something is as important as doing something in many cases. When I’m faced with an especially thorny problem at work, it really helps to just write down my thoughts about it and let it sit for a few days while I think about it in my off moments. Most of the time, I can come back and have a better solution than if I had started right away.

2. Learn a language

A language that doesn’t affect the way you think about programming is not worth knowing. – Alan Perlis

The original article obviously means foreign spoken languages, which I definitely agree with. I speak Italian, and the insights it’s given into my own native English are quite valuable. If you’re a careful student, knowing two languages definitely forces you to think about the meaning of words and constructs. It’s much harder to take things for granted.

I think the same is true of programming languages–knowing more than one helps your mind think about a problem in different ways. Once you understand functional programming, for example, you will never look at programming the same way again.

1. Question Everything – This is analogous to love of learning in my Effective Programmers essay. It’s not being a jerk and denigrating everybody else’s ideas. It’s asking yourself continual “Why” questions in order to understand the issue.

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

First billion dollar movie

With today’s large blockbuster movies (LOTR, King Kong, Spiderman, Chronicles of Narnia, Titanic) costing hundreds of millions of dollars to make, I wonder what will be the first movie to cost $1 billion to produce.

How will they recoupe the cost? When will it happen?


Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order: