A Response to the Colleges

Last night I received an email from Rio Salado College, where I am taking three summer classes–Fraud Examination, Intermediate Accounting I, and Quantitative Methods in Business–telling us that during these crazy times they are ‘renewing their commitment to our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.’ I will quote the full text of this email below, but for now I just need to note that this immediately got me thinking: does this explanation of core values declare by omission what the real mission of these kolleges is?

Here’s the cold, hard truth: the core values of any and all educational institutions should be intellectual honesty and integrity. This means a decided commitment to the First Amendment and to the acceptance of opinions that challenge those of the ruling power, which in most cases throughout history has been a small but neurotic and bigoted group of people who benefit from the status quo. By bouncing these values in favor of such undefined terms as diversity, equity, and inclusiveness, the universities are fostering a dangerous and divisive ethic where true intellectual diversity is not tolerated–only people with different skin colors who speak alike.

Rio Salado is not alone. Across the country speech codes have sprung up in the last ten years that challenge First Amendment rights in the name of promoting the ‘health,’  ‘comfort’ and ‘safety’ of the dim-witted. I myself have run into this issue at Glendale Community College and at Paradise Valley Community College, where I was told that I was not allowed to disagree with the other students in my tax accounting class in discussion assignments, even when they were clearly not taking into account the fact that there was missing information in the prompt. At Marquette a scholarship lacrosse player had her admission revoked due to expression of ideas deemed ‘racist.’ Wesleyan College did likewise, as did the University of Tennessee. Gone are the days when ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.’ Whether words impact health at all is an open question: to every person who claims that words can cause stress and constant stress destroys health, another person could reply that the Stoics, who lived two thousand years ago and determined that the only thing you can control is your attitude towards what you encounter, were essentially correct. Also gone are the days when proving people wrong mattered–now, you just declare that you are offended, and they are told to shut up in no uncertain terms, or, if that doesn’t work, you get a thousand people to sign a petition demanding their resignation or threatening a boycott of the organization they work for. None of these things are appropriate and none of them make things better.

For me, studying fraud examination, the contrast between what I have learned and what these schools are saying could not be clearer. The schools are saying that it is okay to lie if it serves a noble agenda, and makes people feel more comfortable, but it is not okay to share an honest opinion–or, in some cases, to share uncontested facts–if it bothers another person or group of person who needs to be protected. Taken literally, it would be okay to lie on financial statements if the lie was told to make executives, shareholders, and creditors feel more comfortable with their management of the organization they serve, but it would not be okay to tell the truth on them if it might make investors, creditors, or management uncomfortable. Taken literally, it would be okay to punish Galileo for espousing a heliocentric system if it made the Pope and all his cardinals feel comfortable, but it would not be okay to allow him to publish his opinions. Basically, the stance taken by the universities, as well as by media, celebrities, and many politicians, is backwards and reflects the lowest parts of human nature, the ones that took several civil wars to subdue in the English-speaking world.

George Floyd’s death was wrong, clearly and unambiguously. We can’t have police kneeling on a man’s neck for upwards of 8 minutes, including more than 2 after his pulse disappeared. In fact, we shouldn’t have police arresting nonviolent offenders at all, except in cases where they have done so much damage to society that incarceration serves a purpose. But a true discussion of what is going on would have to involve the wrongness of police making mental health diagnoses–‘excited delirium’ was the phrase used by these officers, whereas in my case, and I am definitively white, it was schizophrenia–and the wrongness of police who are unaccountable to the public they supposedly serve, as well as the importance of the common law, the constitutional decree that all trials in these states shall be by jury which the nine monkeys have disregarded, and a possible need for compulsory military training for all men aged 18-20, which would bridge the gap between the power police have and the power ordinary citizens have. Why, for instance, is this police officer being charged with second-degree murder when if one of us did the same it would be first-degree murder? Why, in some states, are their criminal laws against ‘nonviolent resistance of police officers’–when only violent resistance against them is of essential interest to the community?

It would also have to include the fact that every negro who gets killed by police appears to have drugs in their system, even when the police are clearly wrong: how can one say with any certainty that Floyd’s interaction with these police doesn’t turn out much differently if he does not have fentanyl and methamphetamines in his system? Why don’t I start taking these things? Likewise for Botham Jean, with marijuana? And countless others. And it would further have to include the issue of looting businesses, which we have seen in Ferguson and across the country now, its connection to the general reasons for the police presence and aggressiveness in black communities, and its connection in this case to the unethical and inappropriate lockdowns in response to a virus that may have been made significantly more deadly by the measures taken to combat it.

 

 

“June 4, 2020

Dear Students,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to each of you, reflecting with sorrow as we watch painful events continue to impact our lives, our families, our community and our country. These last several months have upended our day-to-day lives as we have faced a global pandemic, and recent events have served as a stark reminder of continued struggles and injustices. Whether it is related to long-standing racism, COVID-19, unemployment or other current societal issues, we recognize many in our community are experiencing difficult times. We want to be clear that we care deeply about you and our community, and we are here to support you.

We know this time may seem overwhelming, but I want to assure you, you are not alone. We are in this together. I hope you will take comfort in knowing our college is more committed than ever before to support you and to be a community leader during these extraordinary times. We believe the work of our college has never mattered more.

Rio Salado College was founded on the premise of providing access to education as a means of growing social and economic equity. The work of our college, our collective work, is more important than ever, as we provide a welcoming space and opportunity for learning, growing, reflecting and supporting.  We welcome, embrace, and celebrate every person, from every background. We have an inclusive community when we stand together, when we acknowledge our differences and welcome diverse thoughts, ideas, and beliefs, and when we support one another with courage and conviction in our pursuit of knowledge. As such, we are renewing our commitment to our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness, our practices of mindfulness and empathy, and to listen and learn from one another.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As we move forward, we encourage you to join us in these college listening and learning sessions to address long-standing injustices, equity and inclusion, which will create space for meaningful dialogue that I hope will guide us forward and define this moment as a turning point for significant change.

  • Thursday, June 11, 12-1 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 18, 6-7 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 20, 10-11 a.m.

Look for details about how you can participate in the coming days. We also hope you will join us for the next Maricopa Community Colleges Listening session June 8, 3-4 p.m.  Register now.

In the meantime, I encourage you to reach out to me, your instructors, counselors and your loved ones to share your ideas and concerns— as we must work through these challenges together if we’re going to create lasting change.

Your commitment to your education is an inspiration to us and your potential to do great things gives us hope and purpose.

May we each embrace our responsibility to model the kindness and humanity we seek for our students, our families and our world.

Sincerely,

Kate Smith
Interim President
Rio Salado College

Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the college.

The Maricopa Community Colleges do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities.  For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator:  (480) 731-8499.  For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, http://www.maricopa.edu/non-discrimination.”

Review of Fat: A Documentary

I should preface this by saying the following: 1) there is some valuable perspective in this film; 2) clearly, some fats are not only not bad for you, but actually good for you; and 3) I think many who give their opinion in this film are well-meaning.

However, I cannot in good conscience recommend this film for the following reasons:

1) The film lacks a clear purpose. It is unclear whether the producers are trying to make a film to clear the bad name from fat or to advocate for a ketogenic diet. If their goal was the former, they should have stuck to that; if the latter, they should clearly identify the film as advocating for keto and not title it based on a common macronutrient.

2) The head honcho of the film, Vince, admits that he lied on Oprah in the 1990s in order to make an episode about him. I don’t deny that he may have had just cause to do so or that the episode was better media for that. But if his goal is, as he says, to show that the media will try to advocate anything so long as it thinks there’s dollars in it, the same could very well be said of this film—and besides, once someone admits they straight-out lied before, how do we know they aren’t doing it again? In his autobiography, Marlon Brando does something similar: he admits to have totally fabricated biographies for playbills when he was performing in the theater. And the same question then arises: how can we, and why should we, believe Brando now, if he has done this before?

3) If the goal of the film is to advocate for keto, it suffers from a serious problem: it presents parents of a type 1 diabetic child who swear that by switching from a standard American diet to keto, they minimized their child’s insulin needs and thereby made him healthier. They brag about cutting fruit from his diet. The problem here is enormous. First of all, the film goes to great lengths to point out that when not-very-healthy foods are compared to crap foods, the balance in favor of the not-very-healthy stuff is not meaningful—and here they have parents saying that keto was better for their kid than pancakes and such like. That’s equally meaningless.

The thing with type 1 diabetes—and I know this first-hand—is that there are two dietary patterns that can be used to control it: there’s the low-carb way and the nutrient-dense way. I’ve seen the low-carb way in action, and I’ve seen it kill people. On the other hand I have personally found great success with a nutrient-density approach. The more fruits, legumes, and whole grains (rice, quinoa, oats) that I eat, the better my blood sugar runs. In fact, when I started eating more of these by percentage, I stopped experiencing wild blood sugar swings. One possible explanation is that the vitamins and minerals in fruits help insulin metabolism.

The film would have you believe that these foods cause obesity and insulin resistance. At 6’3” and 185 lbs dripping wet—a weight I struggle to maintain even when eating like a pig—I’m certainly not obese. And I’m not insulin resistant, either: for all the carbs I eat, I average 30-35 units daily, 13 of which are long-acting, and maintain an A1c under 7%. What causes obesity is processed foods—and while they do say this, it gets buried in the film under carb-bashing, because we must have an enemy. While you can probably lose weight quickly with keto, if that’s your goal, it’s also pretty clearly a yo-yo diet. And in any case for someone like me, there’s no fat to burn, so it’d kill me, not help me.

Do I eat fat? Yes, and plenty of it. I love nuts, I love avocados, I love fish—but the film also tries to clear saturated fat of its bad reputation, and I can’t agree that it is really good for you. In fact, the one food that really screws up my blood sugar is pizza, because the saturated fat in the cheese messes with insulin metabolism. The film barely talks about nuts; there was a gold mine there if they had talked about the health benefits of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, etc. Instead they advocate an almost carnivorous diet. On that note, I should add that I have gone mostly plant-based—and feel sturdier and stronger physically than I have in years. The link is clear to me.

4) The strongest case that can be made for keto has to do with the treatment of epilepsy. They movie highlights this—in fact that’s where it begins. But it never asks the obvious question: if the goal in treating epilepsy this way is to starve the brain of an ingredient that is causing it trouble in certain people, why should people who don’t have the same issue starve their brains? I can see no compelling reason to do so.

The second strongest justification in the movie revolves around a doctor who went to live with the Inuits and said they have no major diseases and their carnivorous diet is healthy. Fine; I’ll not challenge the first part as a statement of fact. What I will challenge is the opinion at the end, because the Inuits live much shorter lives than we do—I’m reminded of the fate of Nanook of the North—so the diseases that we start to see in people in their late 50s, 60s, and upwards don’t have a parallel in their society because they just don’t live long enough for those to manifest.

Contrast these stronger points with the attempt to discredit whole grains by linking them with Seventh Day Adventists: but wait, the movie forgot to note that Seventh Day Adventists are notable for their longevity and good health! Something’s missing…

Now, with all that said, there are two things I can completely agree with in the film: 1) fats are not inherently bad for you, and in some cases are actually very good for you; and 2) government policy in the United States, between subsidizing corn, creating the absurd food pyramid, and rewarding the pharmaceutical companies for treating diseases we don’t need to have, is an absolute disaster. But that’s true of everything the federal government dips its hands into, particularly when there are Democrats involved….just look at our school system. The argument here is not for keto, but for local and state control rather than federal, and for people with legitimate substantive ideas based on facts and knowledge of human nature to administer that control.

Great documentaries

I am in the process of binge-watching documentaries this week, before school heats up and I get buried underneath assignments, ballroom dance classes, workouts, cooking, the application process—for a Masters program in Accounting—and my usual reading.

Tonight I watched Forks over Knives—an excellent film promoting a whole food, plant-based diet as the surest way to get and maintain health—and am watching Woodstock. Up next are The Rape of Europa, about the Nazi theft of artwork across occupied Europe, and The Triumph of the Will, which I feel I must watch in spite of its inherent repulsiveness. Woodstock and Triumph of The Will are of course on Ebert’s Great Movies list, and I am edging closer to being halfway through that—an achievement of sorts, since it contains damn near 400 films of all genres and eras.

As I watch Woodstock, I wonder what went wrong—not why so many who were prominent among the liberals died so young, but how so many people could collectively decide that they placed no value on having a single substantive thought run through their heads.

The organizer of the festival told the director of the documentary that the power of the music for these kids lay in its beat and the lyrics—in a completely vacuous statement, which is his clear style. So, you say, let’s listen to the lyrics. In the first song I hear about the “fields of Dunkirk”—which as is well-known do not exist, as Dunkirk is a beach town.

What’s peculiar is that while the hippies gave (and still give) the appearance of having a substantive philosophy, based on peace, goodwill, and a general relaxation of all standards, they in fact represented the absence of any substance. Virtually nobody disagrees that peace is the ultimate ideal. What the hippies failed to realize is that peace is something that must be worked for, and that the “how” of the matter requires deep and compelling thought. Goodwill only has a positive effect when those to whom it is extended lack the inclination to murder you. In the absence of that, goodwill does nothing. Extending a hug to a Nazi would do a Jew no good, just as extending a hug to a Muslim does a Westerner no good.

The tragedy of Woodstock appears to me to be that this generation of kids grew up without discipline and without cultivated intelligence. And what’s now most disturbing is that they have passed these omissions onto their children.

Where do we go from here???

Banned Books Week and the Astonishing Ignorance of Liberals

Does anyone remember in Great Gatsby when Tom’s girlfriend tells her husband “you’re so dumb you don’t even know you’re alive”? The liberals are so dumb they don’t even know they’re alive.

They’re having a field day with “banned books week.” Only the books they are claiming were banned, with very few exceptions, were not in fact banned in any real sense of the word…only removed from school curricula and such like. So for instance it was never illegal in the United States to publish and distribute copies of To Kill a Mockingbird.

There is a long history of books actually being banned, especially elsewhere but to a much smaller extent here, only the liberals don’t know what those books are because they are ignorant fucks. Astonishing.

Send Her Back!

With all this talk about the “send her back” chants, I actually thought Trump had said something bad to incite the crowd. What he said was “Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screams.” And the crowd started chanting it.

So here you have an overwhelmingly white Christian crowd rejecting anti-Semitism….and they are being called racist and xenophobic.

Huh?

ICE Detention Centers

https://apple.news/APRsyXeuVTd2jpzgyqNRjBA

Question…is what’s happening to these migrants in ICE detention centers roughly equatable with “probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world”?

If not—and judging by the fact that they keep trying to come here, it isn’t—then these stupid liberals need to stfu and stop comparing it to the concentration camps…because those were the words of Churchill in a letter to Antony Eden to describe what the editor of his Memoirs calls the “persecution of Jews in Hungary and their expulsion from enemy territory.”

The full quotation is as follows, for accuracy’s sake:

”There is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world, and it has been done by scientific machinery by nominally civilised men in the name of a great State and one of the leading races of Europe. It is quite clear that all concerned in this crime who may fall into our hands, including the people who only obeyed orders by carrying out the butcheries, should be put to death after their association with the murders has been proved.”

 

Our great institutions

Today I received the greatest letter ever written in history.  It reads as follows:

1/2/2019

Dear Mr. Goetz,

The Investigative Unit of the Arizona Department of Education learned of allegations purporting that you arrested on or about April 18, 2018 and charged with criminal damage.  The reported allegation(s) are a violation not only of District policies but also the standards of conduct set by the Arizona State Board of Education.  See Arizona Administrative Code R7-2-1308.

This letter is to inform you that the Investigative Unit has completed its investigation in this matter and has determined that no complaint will be filed at this time.

Please be aware that while no complaint relative to the noted allegations will be filed at this time, in the event of any new allegation(s) of unprofessional conduct, these matters may be considered along with any new allegation(s).  We urge you to govern yourself in accordance with the standards of conduct set by the Arizona State Board of Education.  See Arizona Administrative Code R7-2-1308.

If you have any questions, please contact the Investigative Unit at (602) 542-2972.

Sincerely,

Garnett Burns

Chief Investigator

 

To which I will reply as follows:

January 11, 2019

Dear Mr. Burns,

I just received your letter of the 2nd informing me that because it was ‘purported that you arrested on or about April 18, 2013’ you launched an investigation of me, during which you did not elicit any information from the target of that investigation, thereby allowing him no chance to defend himself.  You say further that ‘the reported allegation(s) are a violation not only of District policies but also the standards of conduct set by the Arizona State Board of Education.’  Then you warn me that ‘while no complaint relative to the noted allegations will be filed at this time, in the event of any new allegation(s) of unprofessional conduct, these matters may be considered along with any new allegation(s)’ and you ‘urge [me] to govern [my]self in accordance with the standards of conduct set by the Arizona State Board of Education.’

In response to this, I have only the following to say:

  • I have no relationship, official or unofficial, with the Arizona Department of Education;
  • I fail to comprehend how a ‘reported allegation’ can be a ‘violation’ of anything. By definition an allegation is an unproven assertion made by another party.
  • These allegations have nothing to do with children.
  • I have governed myself as a professional and an adult.

I am looking forward to framing your letter and publishing it in upcoming books, if not other places.

 

Thanks and Best Regards,

Jason R. Goetz

3333 W. Thunderbird Rd. #2125

Phoenix, AZ 85053

 

AREN’T OUR INSTITUTIONS GLORIOUS?!?!

Commentary tracks

One of the great pleasures of my life recently has been my ability to watch many of the greatest films ever made. In light of the disaster that is modern Hollywood, these movies have provided me with a laid-back, low-key form of entertainment which on one hand did not take itself too seriously and on the other churned out many extremely compelling combinations of plot, score, subtext, and visual presentation.

I am so amazed at these films that I often also watch the commentary tracks. Many of these contain useful information about the circumstances surrounding the actors’ appearances in these films, the histories of the studios, the directors, the producers, the challenges that unfolded between screenwriters and editors, between directors, producers, and studio executives, also between the producers and the censors, the relationships between the actors and the directors, the actors and their co-workers, and so on and so forth. In many cases challenges with specific scenes are presented in a useful way: the decision between shooting on location and on set, the impact of the weather on the person’s involved, also on the cameras and scenery, the specialists who helped with the presentation of scenes which require specialized skills, and so on and so forth. Sometimes they discuss cinematic techniques that audiences aren’t aware of that are used in a particular scene; on occasion they will talk about the composer’s work in drawing up the score; in others they make suggestions about inferences that can be made about what has happened to a character off-screen but which might not be obvious to a casual viewer.

As you can see, this is quite a range of information, all quite useful, very intriguing. Very often these commentary tracks are made by the director of the film, highly regarded critics, or film scholars, most of whom have spent years studying the director of the film or its primary star. In some cases the leading actor or the primary villain are part of or do the whole commentary, and sometimes they are extremely informative—but not always. Commentary tracks of this sort include the one for the 1939 Robin Hood, for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,

But then there are some commentary tracks which are made by people who held non integral positions in the filming process, or by persons who claim to have spent their lives studying a particular director but who have published only a sloppy biography of him, or by family members, usually the children, of the Star in question who themselves had no place in the film and sometimes in the world at all at the time the film was made. These commentary tracks inevitably devolve into lengthy accounts of personal interactions between these people and the Hollywood legend whose association they are profiting from; they detail plane flights or car rides many years after the film, third-hand accounts of the unhappy end of the director’s relationship with someone, post-premiere dinners where nothing of any note occurred, lengthy anecdotal conversations that provide no effective information about the film or its production, meaningless recollections of what other more important people might or might not have done with regards to the production of the movie or a scene in it, and so on and so forth. The overwhelming ego of the person on the commentary track results in 2 hours of talk without any value. The track for Double Indemnity comes to mind, but tonight I was watching the one for Vertigo and it definitely falls into this category.

My question in this post is, why if you are producing a commentary track for the DVD of a GREAT MOVIE, you would settle for these terrible, wasted commentary tracks? Why add them at all if they are no good? What’s the deal, yo?

Get a real critic and have them go through the film shot by shot. It’s worth it!

 

More from Churchill

“Since the War we have learned from German records what happened to the Glowworm. Early on the morning of Monday the 8th [April 8 1940] she encountered first one and then another enemy destroyer. A running fight ensued in heavy sea until the cruiser Hipper appeared on the scene. When the Hipper opened fire, the Glowworm retired behind a smoke-screen. The Hipper, pressing on through the smoke, presently emerged to find the British destroyer very close and coming straight for her at full speed. There was no time for the Hipper to avoid the impact, and the Glowworm rammed her 10,000-ton adversary, tearing a hole forty metres wide in her side. She then fell away crippled and blazing. A few minutes later she blew up. The Hipper picked up forty survivors; her gallant captain was being hauled to safety when he fell back exhausted from the cruiser’s deck and was lost.”

i don’t know, this doesn’t seem as brave to me as changing your gender or calling out racism/sexism/fascism/homophobia/Islamophobia/anti-Semitism. Actually it seems cowardly because violence is always bad no matter what the circumstances are. Why Churchill thinks otherwise–this beats me!

Presidential Decline

As I lay last night reading Winston Churchill’s Memoirs of the Second World War, I came across a letter from Franklin Roosevelt to him–the beginning of their long correspondence–in which Roosevelt wrote of having read Churchill’s (very lengthy and substantive) biography of his great ancestor the Duke of Marlborough.

So I began to think: Roosevelt’s cousin, Theodore, had written an excellent biography of Oliver Cromwell. Woodrow Wilson had written a history of America/Americans from the earliest English colonial ventures up until his time. If we go farther back, Lincoln loved Euclid, who he felt showed what proof meant; Jefferson wrote a very interesting work about his home state of Virginia; John Adams wrote a somewhat confusing, but very detailed, history of political republics; Washington had clearly read Gibbon.

After Roosevelt, Eisenhower was a substantive man, although I am not qualified to speak to his reading knowledge–but as a military man I would assume it had to include biographies of figures like Cromwell and Marlborough, among others. Even Kennedy wrote the hugely influential Profiles in Courage–if it is not ghostwritten. But since that time no person who has been President of the United States appears to have even read, let alone written, any serious, detailed work of history. The idea of George W. Bush reading Gibbon or Churchill shocks the conscience; one can form no mental conception of that idiot Obama having read anything substantive about the history of the Anglo-Saxon world; Clinton was too busy fucking broads and Trump is an acknowledged non-reader.

At what point to we have to acknowledge that these leaders have set the tone for the rest of us, and that in following their lead we have sucked the heart out of a country that once represented truly great ideas and content? At what point do we have to recognize that the polarization of our political world is a product not of substantive moral differences but of a lack of substantive moral content, exacerbated by the failure of Americans to study carefully their Anglo-Saxon roots and to understand their cultural, political, and social heritage?

On this Midterm Election Day, these are things to think about–and to act on.