Category Archives: family

The Intern – Movie review

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The Intern” could have been a great movie.

Obligatory spoiler alert here.

Ben is the grandfather you never had. He is in his 70s but you would never know it because he is physically fit and his mental faculties are as sharp as ever. He has led a long successful life and is apparently doing well enough financially to afford a nice house in a nice NY neighborhood and wear tailored suits every day. Ben loves learning and doing new things. Ben even learned to speak Chinese. Why? Who cares! Ben is obviously the picture of competence and professional accomplishment.

One day Ben come across an ad (in a printed newspaper) for a “senior intern”. A company has had the brilliant idea to hire elderly people as interns. Why? We are never told. Some sort of charity I suppose. Or perhaps it’s because seniors are always getting into trouble and therefore need something to do with their spare time. Either way Ben responds to the ad and gets “hired” because who could be more awesome than our hero?

But wait. Shortly after Ben is hired we discover that his heroics pale in comparison to the woman he will be assigned to for the duration of the film.

This is where we meet Jules. Jules is the founder and owner of an ultra-successful internet startup. This startup specializes in making sure that the clothing you order on its site will fit you when it arrives. Jules is a cross between Jeff Bezos and  Steve Jobs. Jules can do it all. And Jules has no need for Ben.

For some reason Ben is assigned to “help” Jules anyway and a significant portion of the movie is spent showing Ben idling in the office waiting for Jules to need him. During this wait Ben decides to help the other male interns get their acts together. Ben helps one intern fix a relationship that he broke some time ago (by accidentally sleeping with the the girl’s roommate). Ben helps another intern with general life skills like how to tuck in his shirt and wear a tie. Ben even helps Jules’s assistant, who has a masters in business degree from Princeton, get noticed by our superstar Jules.

Finally the day comes where Ben is needed by Jules. The near flawless Jules has spilled something on her coat. No doubt the fault for this mishap lays with the dish she was eating or the person who prepared it because one thing is already clear in this movie, Jules never does anything wrong on her own.

Ben goes to retrieve the garment to take it by the dry cleaners and discovers that Jules is still wearing it. When Ben goes to retrieve it from her he overhears a meeting where Jules is being maneuvered by her board to look for a CEO to give her some “adult supervision”.

This is the major conflict that the movie revolves around. Who will Jen choose as a mentor/boss?

A minor conflict arises at this point because remember Jules doesn’t need Ben. The script writers needed to figure out how to get Ben close enough to Jules to provide her with some of the great advice he’s already doling out to the other interns. This is solved by Ben casually looking out of the window and seeing Jules’s driver drinking from a flask in his jacket. Ben confronts the driver and allows him to gracefully exit the scene while Ben assumes the duty of driving Miss Daisy, err Jules.

This is where we learn about Jules’s life away from work. Just kidding. Jules’s personal and professional lives overlap so much that Ben basically becomes the Alfred to her Batman from this point on.

The movie reaches its climax when Jules decides that she doesn’t need a CEO to provide her with adult supervision at all. What she really needs to do is to simply lean in a little more.

Along the way we learn that Jules’s husband, who just comes out of left field in the movie, is cheating on her because he is just not strong enough to be a good house husband, excuse me stay at home father. We also learn that Jules has a strained relationship with her mother. We know this because at one point in the movie Ben leads a raiding party of interns to go delete a nasty email about her mother that Jules sent to her mother by mistake.

At no point does Jules learn or grow in this movie.

In classic feminist fashion every other character is made to confront their shortcomings and flaws. What makes this movie somewhat unique, however, is that it pits the cultural milieu that gave rise to  two competent and accomplished characters against each other. Ben likely grew up in the 30s and 40s. Jules remarks on how Ben has managed to shed the sexism that his generation is apparently notorious for and at one point Ben actually says “I don’t mean to be the feminist here” while correcting Jules when she toyed with the idea of giving up the feminist fantasy world she’s living in because her family is in danger. Jules, on the other hand, grew up in the progressive 90s and 00s where she was expected to break glass ceilings while also having a family and competing for mom of the year.

Everything that makes Ben’s advice worth listening to is at odds with how Jules is living her life. One of the sub-plots in the movie is that Ben is looking for female companionship. Not a wife, just someone he can take to funerals and occasionally have sex with. Think of it like an elderly play date. Anyway, through this sub plot we learn that Ben was happily married before and his wife stayed home to take care of their son. We never meet the son in the movie or even hear anything else about him. This is especially odd when you consider how the climax of the movie goes with Jules crying about how she is likely to die alone if she divorces her husband.

Jules thinks it’s unfair that her husband will likely run off and re-marry the soccer mom he’s been seeing for quite some time now while work will likely consume and overshadow any hope of a family for Jules.

Ben resolves this for Jules by telling her she can be buried in the same plot with he and his wife. I’m not sure how this is supposed to resolve the real conflict Jules raised earlier but according to the magical world of cinema, it does.

This could have been a great movie. The question underlying the whole elderly intern program idea appears to be “where have all of the seniors gone from our lives?” We read about how timeless wisdom about life and how to live it well used to be transmitted down through generations by having elderly people around to mentor us. In fact the movie’s tagline is “experience never gets old”.

However the inescapable lesson the movie seems to drive home is that the only real wisdom the older generation can give is in being cheerleaders. I mentioned earlier where Ben led the interns on a raid of Jules’s mother’s house to remove an email Jules accidentally sent out of frustration. That email was Jules complaining to her secretary about how her mother was a raging bitch because she had the audacity to criticize Jules. Jules wants to get rid of Ben early on because he is “too observant” and she tells him later that she considered that to be a problem because she feared he might judge her. I don’t think the word “mentor” is used in the film at all. It couldn’t be because that would imply a relationship where Jules would be expected to confront her character flaws and grow past them. However the lesson that is driven home in this movie is that feminist heroes arrive on the scene already perfect with no further character development required. In fact it is the world that needs to develop around them.

Here’s the trailer. And even though I think this movie could have been great I still think it’s worth watching. If nothing else it provides great food for thought.

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Film, divorce, and alienation

The other night I found myself watching E.T with the family. And since I can’t watch a movie anymore without also being on my laptop, here are some interesting facts about E.T I bet you didn’t know.

First and foremost, E.T. is all about divorce, not aliens.

After his success with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Spielberg had instead set out to make a smaller, more personal film. “E.T. was about the divorce of my parents, how I felt after my parents broke up,” Spielberg admitted. “[It was] the first movie I ever made for myself.” The idea for E.T began to form while the director was on location in Tunisia for Raiders. A lonely Spielberg started picturing something of an imaginary friend. “It was like when you were a kid and had grown out of dolls or teddy bears,” he recalled. “You just wanted a little voice in your mind to talk to. I began concocting this imaginary creature, partially from the guys who stepped out of the Mother Ship for ninety seconds in Close Encounters [1977].” He shared the idea with Melissa Mathison, Harrison Ford’s screenwriter girlfriend who had already penned two family films The Black Stallion (1979) and The Escape Artist (1982). Together Spielberg and Mathison fleshed out the story.

Additionally, it appears that Spielberg’s father issues have had a profound influence on most of his work.

Spielberg researched for his upcoming film “Lincoln” for over 12 years and it is partially inspired by his reconciliation with his father.

He was the father of a nation in need of repair and in a sense the movies I’ve made recently have reflected the positive relationship that my dad and I have enjoyed for 20-25 years.

Oh, and it should be noted that it was Spielberg’s mother that filed for divorce, after having an affair with one of her husband’s friends. And Steven blamed his mother, not his father, for the subsequent breakup of the family.

When Spielberg was 19, his parents got divorced after his mother fell in love with one of his father’s best friends. “It’s still a mystery to me, but even though my mother was like an older sister to me, I kind of put her up on a pedestal,” Spielberg said. “And my dad was much more terrestrial, much more grounded, much more salt of the earth. And for some reason, it was easier for me to blame him than it was to someone who I was already — exalted.

All of this serves to demonstrate once again how important marriage is for children.

40% of homeless youth are LGBT, and the parents are to blame!

Thus says this ThinkProgress image, anyway:

I found this image on a Facebook friend’s wall. Here’s my response interposed with comments from his rather liberal friends:

It is sad that they would reject their family rather than learning to control themselves.

So it’s safe to assume, Wes Widner, that you also would reject your children if/when they decided they were gay, because you read Leviticus and you choose to ignore all other Leviticus passages, but hold the one about same sex to literal interpretations.

I guess we can see now why 40% of homeless youths are lgbt. It’s parents who feel they have to be cruel to show love, even though that’s not Showing love.

You know you could replace homosexuality in that equation with any other immoral lifestyle and you would have essentially the same question of how we, as parents, would deal with it. Certainly we wouldn’t condone it or support it in any way. And because we believe it is deeply immoral and therefore self-destructive we would plead with them to repent and change their ways. But if they persist, if they choose their immorality over us then we won’t stand in their way and will allow them to make that choice.

Now you can try to re-frame that as rejecting them and causing them to be homeless if you want and then draw from that a wellspring of moral indignation of our apparent bigotry towards homosexuality. But the truth is that I’ve had friends whose children have decided to live in immoral heterosexual relationships where they have been forced, by their children, to make the hard and gut-wrenching decision (I know it was gut wrenching because I saw the tears) to not enable their immoral lifestyle which, because of their immaturity and stubborn determination to life as they saw fit, led to their being homeless. Thankfully that destitution lasted until they wound up pregnant in which was another rocky road in itself but eventually caused them to think of someone other than themselves and now they aren’t homeless and, more importantly, aren’t living in a self-absorbed immoral lifestyle.

Now the real tragedy with the image above is that the LGBT lifestyle is being so aggressively pushed even when it leads to such horrible outcomes. I understand the desire to paint the parents as the evil ones here, and in many other pro-GLBT propaganda pieces I’ve seen, but the truth is exactly the opposite. I would wager that in most cases its not the parents who are rejecting their children but the children who are rejecting their parents.

Sorry, but the truth is that many people like myself believe that some lifestyles are deeply immoral and that that immorality is more important than any temporary physical discomfort such as homelessness.

Oh, and the tl;dr version is: Its not “showing love” to condone an immoral/self-destructive lifestyle.

I am absolutely appalled at your attitude. “Physical discomfort?” Are you fucking kidding me? Would you throw your 14-year-old child out on the street for expressing love for a person of the same gender? With no tools or ability to survive? Would you be OK with that same child wandering the streets, only to be lured into drugs or prostitution by criminals because the very people who were supposed to love and protect them rejected them for their silly little “morals?”

Where is the morality in abandoning your child? It sickens me, how you’d throw your kid out like common trash.

XXXX, are you likewise trying to justify condoning immoral behavior by not dealing with it?

Rather than turning this into an emotional “I’m offended” session why don’t we try to suppress our natural emotional responses and at least make an attempt to view this issue from a viewpoint different from our own?

Homosexuality is not immoral behavior. Your argument, therefore, is completely invalid.

I get emotional when I hear that someone would have no problem discarding a child for not adhering to their parents’ religious doctrine. There is a huge difference between murder/theft/selling drugs and loving someone of the same sex.

The fact that you think it’s all the same tells me you have some serious mental issues. I suggest therapy. Maybe it’ll help clear away the brainwashing.

‎”Homosexuality is not immoral behavior. Your argument, therefore, is completely invalid. ”

Ah, so here is where our difference really lies. So we can cut out all the emotionalism and I can attempt to help you understand my viewpoint by substituting homosexuality, which you don’t believe is immoral, with something you do believe is immoral and then all I want to ask is whether that would change your perception? I really want to know because I’ve known parents who have housed and thus tacitly condoned their childrens’ drug addictions so I wouldn’t presume to conclude that just because we change the act in question from something you don’t consider to be immoral to something you do presumably do consider to be immoral that you would then agree that a valid course of action would be to refuse to condone their behavior through material support which includes room and board.

One of the issues we run into when discussing issues like this is that they are built on multiplied layers where we disagree on more than one so that if we don’t take the time to unravel the issue we cannot possibly hope to gain any substantive understanding of one another and thus cannot expect to make any progress.

Oh, and as an addendum, refusing to condone a child’s immoral lifestyle by expecting them to provide for themselves when they refuse to abide by your rules is hardly to discard them. That would be what pro-abortion proponents advocate in terms of discarding unwanted children as mere biomass. No, regretfully allowing a child to experience the results of their rejection of their parents is to actually hold out hope that they will, at some point in the future, end their rebellion and choose to end their selfishness and self-destructive lifestyle.

Should Christian women wear bikinis?

Bottom line: Be mindful of your wardrobe’s effect on others. That is, if you want to be viewed as a person and not an object.

The Great Porn Experiment

Voddie Baucham On Biblical Manhood

How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb …in Obamacare

From the Forbes’s article which attempts to persuade us that Obamacare really is chock full of puppy dogs and sunshine just as Obama promised:

Failure on the part of insurers to meet this requirement will result in the insurers having to send their customers a rebate check representing the amount in which they underspend on actual medical care.

That sounds all well and good until you stop and think about it. Who decides what constitutes “underspending”? Ultimately, under Obamacare, prices will be driven up through inflation as outrageous hospital bills are presented as evidence along with insurance companies’s counter-proposals that they are “underspending”.

A concrete example of this would be my recent experience my fourth child’s birth.

By the fourth child you pretty much know what’s going on and, barring any complications, things generally tend to go like clockwork. Well thankfully that’s pretty much what happened in our case. Biologically the birth was seamless, labor for about 2 hours, 3 pushes, and we welcome our son into the world.

So what could I possibly say about an uninteresting birth to show how Obamacare is such a terrible idea?

Enter the nurses.

When we arrived at the hospital we were taken to the prep room where my wife was to change into a hospital gown, get checked, and wait for the room to be prepared for us. It took my wife about 5 minutes to get prepared and it was apparently somewhat of a slow day so rooms were available and already prepped. But it still took us about 30 minutes to get into one. Why? Apparently there are new regulations which call for the nurses to play 20 questions with the mother-to-be before she can be admitted into a room. This process took so long that the mid-wife, who is not considered a medical professional by the way, decided to cut in and actually check how far along my wife was. I’m glad she did, too, because my wife was basically ready to deliver right then.

We were quickly whisked into a delivery room where the nurse playing 20 questions was joined by a team of nurses whose primary focus was to give my wife an IV because she had tested positive for strep and according to their regulations the mother needed to have at least two doses of an antibiotic before giving birth, a process which they expected to take about 20 minutes. Keep in mind at this point my wife was completely ready, biologically, to give birth.

This IV was so important to the hospital staff that they called in at least 4 different nurses to try and find a vein. After the fourth my wife finally told them she couldn’t hold back anymore and would push whether they liked it or not. I passed the last nurse who had tried to give my wife the IV in the hall later and overheard her complaining to the head nurse about how she didn’t want to get written up because procedures hadn’t been followed to the letter. So all the nurses run out into the hall way to discuss the situation and how to reconcile what is happening in the delivery room to their procedures, leaving us alone with only the midwife in the room.

And that’s how we welcomed my 3rd son into the world. With the medical professionals debating their procedures in the hallway while the non-medical professionals, unencumbered by a sense of obligation to follow procedure or the threat of the loss of our jobs if we failed to follow that procedure, got the job done.

The following morning my wife was cleared to leave by her doctor about 12 hours after giving birth but the nurses wouldn’t let her go until she had been there a minimum of 24 hours because, once again, procedure had to be followed.

Two weeks later we received the bills from the hospital. All told the hospital is charging about $14,000 for about 12 hours worth of work and since its itemized we get to see that my wife was given an $11 aspirin (single pill) and my son was given a $6 passifier (we bought a two-pack of the same passifier from a store for less than $4). Thankfully we won’t have to pay the full $14,000+ bill. My employer has graciously provided me with an insurance plan I had no say in and that plan is supposed to help deflate the bill somewhat. By how much we don’t know yet, hopefully it won’t be more than what we budgeted.

And that brings be back to why the bomb the Forbes article tries to tell us is actually a good thing is not, in fact, a good thing.

You see, the insurance company is rightly going to counter the hospital’s outrageous bill with a statement of how much they think it should be and they will base their percentage of coverage on that. Under Obamacare it seems the insurance company will simply be forced to pay whatever magic numbers the bean counters at the hospital dream up. In other words, we will be moving from a badly damaged pseudo-market system to a completely centrally controlled one where the prices charged have absolutely no relation to the real world at all. The hospital can charge thousands of dollars for an aspirin and under Obamacare insurance companies will be forced to pay every cent either then or later after the customer has been stuck with the bill. Either way the result is the same, the cost of medical care will skyrocket because of their government-granted monopoly.

Of course that’s not the only change that will take place. The other part of Obamacare is, as the Forbes article rightly notes, the destruction of any “for-profit” insurance company. Meaning the only insurers who will be able to survive such lunacy are insurance companies that don’t have to operate according to the virtuous system of profit and loss. It is, as was noted before Obamacare passed, the perfect scenario for sneaking in through the backdoor a universal healthcare system.

Now you might be thinking at this point that free healthcare for everyone sounds like a great idea. But there are two catches to that notion.

One is the simple fact that nothing is free. Defenders of other socialized healthcare systems like to point to how their cost of medical care is cheaper than ours. But if the cost of medical care is fixed by the state then such a claim makes no sense since it cannot be objectively compared to anything else. Remember that $11 aspirin? We only know that such a price is outrageous because we have a much more free market outside the hospital which currently charges as little as .0001 cents per pill.1 If the prices were fixed, as they were during World War II for many goods, we simply have no way to know whether we are being over or under charged.2

The other is that the further you remove the good or service provider from the person paying for the good or service, the less of an incentive the provider has for making sure what they are providing is worthwhile to the consumer. The insistence of the nurses to follow procedure rather than attend to the actual medical need highlights this point.

As I said in a discussion on this topic on Facebook:

It would help to drive costs down if I were the one paying for my care, even if I leveraged an insurance company who is my client and not my employers’, and if I were the one who got to determine my care, instead of merely accepting whatever the doctors and nurses dictated to me.

The answer to our healthcare problem is not more intervention. Its freedom.

  1. A quick search yielded a deal on Amazon of .01 for 100-pills. []
  2. Consequently, this is also why its invalid for economists to claim that World War 2 brought us out of our recession []

American holocaust: What would you do?

There are some excellent questions raised in this movie.

Child preachers and the power of the pulpit

This makes me so sad:

But I appreciate the fact that the reporter got it right, this kid has a passion for the pulpit, and all the excitement it represents.

It also illustrates how worthless most pastors have become today.

Oh, and for anyone who isn’t familiar with the child-preacher phenomenon, here is a rather poignant documentary:

Could marriage be undermined by language?

A friend of mine recently pointed me to this page where in the author crafts an argument against the definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. His argument is based largely on biological anomalies which give rise to odd situations where if we consider the person to be male or female depending on what aspects of the male or female biological makeup we choose to measure by (ie. testosterone, estrogen, physical features) we might end up “mandating and legally sanctifying exactly the sort of same-sex marriages they’re intending to ban”.

First off, it needs to be pointed out that no one is required to marry or procreate. They may have the freedom to or not depending on their physical characteristics, but they are by no means forced to marry anyone.

Additionally, since genetic abnormalities are quite common (ie. cancer) I fail to see why offering medical treatment to resolve these conditions would be less preferential than redefining the institution of marriage.

As to government’s involvement. I would agree with government’s non-intervention and I would argue that any attempt at redefining commonly used words would constitute a major intervention. If you want to strengthen contract law to rectify situations like visiting a loved one in the hospital or prison then I would be all for that. But you don’t need to redefine a word in order to accomplish that end. Likewise it makes no sense to say that a group of people are deprived of a right because the definition of words functions in an exclusionary sense in order to convey meaning. In order words, if we, as a society, start monkeying around with our language such that marriage is no longer biologically bound, then what we would have accomplished is the destruction of language and constructive discourse.

We would not, however, have done anything to increase freedom or equality.