The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, August 24, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Probably Tarantino's most accessible film, maybe his third best, after Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill (1&2), this is part War movie, part revenge fantasy, part Howling Commandos comic book, and part...well, Tarantino, a genuine stylist who sees his own violent, oddly honorable world, a world in which cinema is king. It is not a war movie. It is a movie about war movies, shot in five different styles, and acted in at least three different styles. In fact, it is jaw-droppingly fascinating when one character steps into a foreign film style, and we watch his characterization change right before our eyes. Never seen anything quite like THAT before. Tarantino has just a little touch of magic about him. We might argue with the use to which he puts his genius, but the man is impossible to ignore. An "A+" for us fans. But probably a "B+" for general audiences., I'm not Jewish, so I can't say, for certain, what it would feel like to watch IB if I were. However, I've read the comments of several Jews concerning it, and they seem to mirror how I'd feel if someone did something similar showing slaves slaughtering slave owners. Anyone who is Jewish AND SAW THE MOVIE...I'd love to hear your thoughts.


I wanted to clarify a position: I don't think the Government should provide products. But I do think that it is appropriate for it to provide certain services, and UHC strikes me as one of those. Because we are just about the last country left in the world without it, and countries with it are often doing much better than us in terms of debt, it strikes me as...unthoughtful not to posit a connection. And that makes me wonder about the "how can we pay for it?" "government will do a terrible job" arguments highly suspect, especially since they primarily seem to come from those who, on other subjects, believe America is the best country in the world. Let's see...we're best, but will be less competent than any other country in administering a health system. Something doesn't click for me there.

I do NOT trust government "more" than private industry. But nor do I believe that private industry is superior. They have the same human beings employed, and I see no reason to believe that they become better in one context than another. Those who think Government would do a terrible job simultaneously seem to think that so many people would want this "terrible job" that Insurance companies would suffer. That is so bizarre to me, and I honestly think that a primary problem here is billionaires and their allies muddying the water, cherry-picking statistics, and anchoring health care reform to fear and terror. Primary tool: "if we have UHC you and your family will DIE." Remember what I said about fear of death being the biggest motivation? I find it sickening, and while I don't feel as much antipathy for health company executives (who must be 1000-10,000 times as effective as government bureaucrats, judging by their salaries) as I do for tobacco company executives, please note that tobacco companies were perfectly willing to lie, conceal critical data, market to children, and stall stall stall. No, at the core, I don' t think they were "worse" people. They were people who moved, one boiling-frog step at a time, into positions where their obligations were primarily to the stockholders, not the consumers. And that further, money as a direct reward is simply too intoxicating, seems to have overwhelmed their humanity.

I think the same exact thing can happen to any employee: fealty to the company, and the stockholders, with money as a direct and massive reward. Equally corruptive to any form of government power I know of, even if corporations don't QUITE have the power to wage wars. Yet. Just wait. And those of you who think they somehow, for some odd reason, would behave at a higher level of ethics are in for a nasty surprise. People are just people.

All American citizens should be able to buy into Medicare for Cost Plus 10%. The profit gets rolled into a fund to provide sliding-scale payments for the poor.


Drove up to Paso Robles wine country over the weekend to research the third Tennyson novel, "From Capetown With Love." Won't say what exactly we were doing, but I will say that the movie quote we start the book with is: "You may know the right wines, but you're the one on his knees..."



Working with Jason this morning. He still has anger issues, but at least we can stop him from screaming by getting him to concentrate on his exhalations. Not his breathing. Just the exhalation part of the respiration cycle. And if we combine it with Coach Sonnon's "Be Breathed" situp-style movements, it rips him out of his crying jag in seconds. It's fascinating to watch, but reminds me that Scott's Flow State Performance Spiral provided me with my first glimpse of the entire sphere of consciousness. I don't know if I can give Jason the kind of head-start I think he will need...but I'm going to try.


Mike Ralls said...

Off topic, but I rather liked this quick post,

"I totally agree that government pressure will do nothing to make people lose weight. People will only give up one pleasure in exchange for a more intense pleasure. And if you're poor and miserable, and eating is the high point of your life, you'll always reach for the cheetos.

I suspect the only way people will change their behavior is a sudden desire to move up the social ladder. Being thin and attractive gives you a competitive edge, especially if you live in a city with lots of talented people. The moment someone I know suddenly gets ambitious, or makes partner, or needs investors, they start losing weight. "

What does everyone think? Have you seen people lose eight to advance their careers?

Dan Moran said...

The United States ranked 29th in the world in infant mortality in 2004, compared to 27th in 2000, 23rd in 1990 and 12th in 1960, according to a new report from CDC′s National Center for Health Statistics.


We're also pretty near dead last in life expectancy. But lack of health care has zip to do with either ....

>Have you seen people lose eight
>to advance their careers?

Not sure. I used to work at Herbalife International -- very fit, healthy culture there. Obesity was very much out of the corporate culture, and at least two guys there I can recall lost a lot of weight while I was there. This certainly didn't hurt their career at that company any, but I couldn't speculate why they chose to lose the weight. Might just have been the health oriented culture around them, or might indeed have been for career advancement -- there certainly were no fat people in upper management at that company.

I'd be interested in knowing what the obesity rate is by income, in the U.S. -- I'm quite sure it goes down as income goes up. Access to health care probably has something to do with that, but mostly I'd guess it's the opportunity to associate with other successful, high earning people.

Shady_Grady said...

I had heard that Danny Glover was trying to get a movie made about Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haitian revolution but was having issues raising money. That would probably be a pretty violent film.

Mike Ralls said...

I actually wrote my bachelor's thesis on the Haitian Revolution - absolutely fascinating historical event. It is pretty much the only _successful_ slave revolution in all of recorded history. No other slave revolt really overthrew the system it was revolting against, but in Saint Domingue a variety of factors all came together at the same time;

1) Slaves outnumbered non-slaves 10-1, a very historically unusual ratio.

2) It was an island colony small enough that the revolt could spread to the entire geographical unit rather quickly.

3) The slaves had an underground religion hostile to the masters (again, historically unusual).

4) Lots of more male slaves than females

5) The mother country (France) was undergoing a revolution herself and was willing to appeal to the slaves in the colony.

6) The colony was involved in a FOUR-WAY civil war itself.

7) Toussaint L'ouverture himself, a quite remarkable and skilled historical figure.

And even given all that it was still a damned close thing. Sometimes history just rolls seven natural 20's in a row.

A movie about that revolution would be absolutely fascinating if done right. Hope someone makes it. It would also be quite easy to make it into a revenge picture without even bending the historical record.

Shady_Grady said...

As far as income and obesity goes, a quick google brought this up.

I'm sure there must be more recent studies.

Costs attributable to obesity.

Shady_Grady said...

I have seen people lose weight to advance their careers but most of them have been women. That's just what I've seen.

Marty S said...

Steve: While we aren't doing well in terms of debt and things certainly look worse for the future, I don't think your observation that countries with UHC are doing better than us is completely correct. If you compare debt as a percent of GDP we are doing as well or better than a number of UHC countries.

Nicholas said...

I would also like to advocate for a movie about Toussaint L'Ouverture. If done right it could definitely be a sort of black "Braveheart." I can understand however why that would be difficult from a marketing standpoint. That would almost certainly have to be an independent film. We have a black President now and thats about as much as the average American can stomach at this point.

Now drifting off topic to respond to the weight thing...I think the reason alot of people are overweight is that their spouses are overweight, or their spouses aren't the type to leave them for getting fat. Also many overweight people, men particularly, do just fine getting girls. Also, I think many overweight women just give up because if even fat guys are getting skinny girls what hope do they have? It's a simple short-term risks benefits analysis. Also people like to eat.

Travis said...

"And that makes me wonder about the "how can we pay for it?" "government will do a terrible job" arguments highly suspect, especially since they primarily seem to come from those who, on other subjects, believe America is the best country in the world."

Hmmm, if the US is the best country in the world I would say it is because of individual freedoms not the effectiveness of government. I think fears over the effectiveness of a government program are perfectly justified. Post Office, better or worse then FedEx? VA, better or worse then private care? Military, effective due to bulk and superior technology but in the running for the least efficient military ever seen in terms of costs and manpower. IRS better or worse then, well okay, the IRS does seem to be on top of their job.

Of course none of this is proof of anything other then the fears/ questions being reasonable and not merely reactionary.

If you remember, my original position was, essentially, gee golly, hadn't really thought about it. I would at this point definitly support a well thought out set of reforms.

Steven Barnes said...

I've seen people lose weight to advance careers, yes. But that post is wrong. People will change behaviors EITHER to gain pleasure OR to avoid pain.

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Professor Timonin said...

I think fears over the effectiveness of a government program are perfectly justified. Post Office, better or worse then FedEx? Yes, when properly funded. Mailbox on every corner? Check. Mail carriers willing to pick up and drop off mail at your house 6 days a week? Check. Conveniently located post offices? Check. At a fraction of the cost of Fed Ex or UPS? Double check.

VA, better or worse then private care? VA, comparable to private care, again, when not chocked for funds. TriCare, the military health insurance, is one of the three top rated insurance plans in the country for user satisfaction - the other two are Medicare and Medicaid. They're not perfect, and they don't pay doctors enough, but the folks that use them really really like them.

The thing is, you cannot expect a government program to compete with a for profit business at the same time as you're slashing the funding for the government business. Consider, though - your higher taxes in the UK net you mail delivery twice daily through the week, and once on Saturday. If we weren't so afraid of paying a little bit more in taxes to a government which remains for us, by us, and of us, we could save a great deal of money which is currently making some corporate fat cat somewhere, who is for himself, of himself, and by himself, rich.

Anonymous said...

Tricare isn't the VA. Tricare is good.

I have yet to see a source claiming the VA does a particularly good job. I have however seen both news articles and heard antecdotal evidence to the contrary. Now it is true that a lot of people in the VA system haven't ever had outside medical coverage so they may not know to expect better or realize that they are getting, in the words of a friend who worked there, 'the best 1950's medical care available today'.

Mark Jones said...

If we weren't so afraid of paying a little bit more in taxes...

When has it ever been only "a little bit more"? When has a government program that wasn't strangled in its crib ever done anything but metastasize? We can't afford all the government we've got now ($9,000,000,000 deficit now projected for this year), and thank god almighty we don't actually get all the government we're already paying for.

Marty S said...

I saw a poll by an institute for health studies at Indiana university asking if you believed or disbelieved statements the opposition had made about the proposed health care reform, which had been labeled "myths" by the White House. Of course Republican respondents said yes in much greater numbers than independents who said yes in much greater percentage than Democrats. Now drawing any real conclusions from a poll such as this is difficult, because many respondents will answer so as to support their position on health care reform rather than whether they believe that specific "myth" or not. So I looked at the data two ways to try and get a feel for the degree of honesty in the poll. Now people who are not invested in a position would be expected to vary widely in the degree of belief for different responses and would probably believe some and not believe others. This is the behavior found in the independents responses. Overall more then fifty percent of independents believed four of the six "myths" and less than fifty percent believed two of the "myths". The Republicans were well above fifty percent in all cases and the Democrats well below fifty percent in all cases. Not surprising and indicative in the bias on both sides. Now another measure of relative honesty of the answers is the spread between your greatest level of belief and your lowest level since the greater percentage answering honestly greater will be the variation in percent believing each issue. For independents the difference in percentage believing between the most believed myth and the least believed myth was 29%, using this as a standard the Republicans didn't do too bad with a 25% spread in percent belief between highest and lowest, but the Democrats showed much less variability in their beliefs with only a 12% spread. Another, indication that the Democrats may be less willing to consider the possibility of anything that contradicts what they want is the order from high to low in percent believing the six myths. Computing the correlation coefficient of belief in the myths between Republicans and Independents results in a .99 correlation which is almost perfect and indicates that even though they disagreed on the level of likelihood of the myths they they agreed perfectly on which myths were more likely than others. The Democrats had a correlation coefficient of .15 with Independents which means exceedingly little agreement. Which could be construed as implying that not enough Democrats were being honest to get a logical ordering.
Anyhow I bored you long enough, but every once in a while the statistician in me gains sway.

Shady_Grady said...

A different way of framing the health care debate.

The Socialism of Firemen

Marty S said...

Shady: I really like the fireman thing. Why have an honest discussion and treat your opponents as intelligent people. Its easier to ridicule them and ignore them.

Marty S said...

This article appeared on Yahoo today.

I think it really characterizes the situation and not just with respect to health care.

Steven Barnes said...

I'm quite sure that Democrats and Republicans have an equal capacity to warp data, or work backwards from a premise. And there has to be some of that happening here. However, I haven't had anyone on the left say that "the free market is always worse" or "the government is always better," while I have heard such absolutes from the Right. I would expect those attitudes to be balanced if there were really equal problems--but I could be wrong.

Pagan Topologist said...

It is clear to me that our taxes are too low; that is why our government deficits are so high. Compare our overall tax rates with Denmark, Austria, Canada, even England.

Marty S said...

Steve: I believe you are correct that both Republicans and Democrats have equal ability to warp things toward their point of view. I just think that how much warping is done on either side depends upon the importance of the particular issue to them. The more important issue the more they will tend to warp. This is true outside the political arena also. This is a consistent problem with any sort of opinion polling.

Shady_Grady said...

Marty, I don't think that the firemen analogy is actually necessarily ridiculing opponents of some sort of universal health care so much as it is (accurately in my POV) pointing out that there are very serious assumptions made by SOME of the opponents of health care reform that if applied logically elsewhere, would be recognized as ridiculous by most people.

That is to say there are some free-market fundamentalists on the Right who have done an excellent job of framing this health care reform debate as "government takeover", "death panels", "loss of choice", "socialism" and other things that make people (even reasonable people) withdraw support from any serious reform proposal. Purely from a tactical standpoint I admire the tenacity and ferocity of the opponents.

As politics is not a rational or polite discussion, the people that support health care reform might do well to reframe the debate. Their opponents are certainly not playing by any other rule than "do what it takes to win".

There are, even according to most classical economists, certain activities or goods which either aren't priced properly by the market or can't (shouldn't) be priced by the market at all. National defense, pollution, police and fire protection, etc. Most other industrialized nations also include health care in that basket of public goods.

Lynn said...

I saw an interesting article comparing a possible UHC program with the post office. Here's an excerpt:

-- "You've heard the refrain: If the government ran healthcare, it would be just like the U.S. Postal Service. And nobody wants that.

Or do we? The USPS, an independent government agency, is the convenient butt of jokes regarding poor service, rude employees, and occasional government mangling of personal property. It routinely borrows from the government to cover operating losses and endures disruptive political meddling in basic management decisions.

Despite the disparaging clichés, however, the Postal Service has some attributes that might make it a strong model for healthcare. It provides a basic service that's not available from the private sector. To people without health coverage, postal-style healthcare might be a lot better than none at all. If service in a government healthcare plan turned out to be surly, that might even be a good thing: It would ensure a healthy market for better-run private plans, reducing fears of a government takeover. Oh, yeah, there's one other thing: In customer satisfaction surveys, the Postal Service already scores higher than health insurers." --

The rest of the article is here

Personally I've never had any problem with the Post Office. One mangled magazine in 30 years and that was still readable. Everyone likes to criticize the government and it's often well deserved but there are some things they do well. Health care might or might not be one of those things. I certainly don't like the way private insurance companies are running things.

Travis said...

If the post office were really so good UPS and FedEx wouldn't exist. Yeah, there is a certain convience to it but do we really need to be taking people's money to pay for keeping an antiquated institution going?

Figure roughly 1/3 of your income, depending on state and tax brackets, go to taxes. If we halved government spending everyone could get a 15% raise. Anybody out there not want 15% more money? I'm in favor of the government that let's me keep my money and CHOOSE how to spend it myself. I realize this isn't truly going to happen but that doesn't mean I can't dream. O course this isn't incompatible with a public option that would actually sustain itself. Entirely possible to set up a system that pays it's execs on the GS pay scale- which is a decent salary- and the saving off of the corporate pay scale might make it enough of a savings to justify itself. However, when was the last time a government program paid for itself? When was the last time a major program actually cost what they said it would? Forgive me if I'm skeptical but remember the saying, "You don't get promoted for saving a million dollars, you get promoted for managing a million dollars."