Ranking Roger Ebert’s Great Movies: Part II


  1. King Kong (1933), directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Scheodsack and starring Fay Wray: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-king-kong-1933
  2. Goldfinger (1964), directed by Guy Hamilton and starring Sean Connery: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-goldfinger-1964
  3. Casablanca (1942), directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-casablanca-1942
  4. Amadeus (1984), directed by Milos Forman and starring Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-amadeus-1984 and https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/amadeus-1984
  5. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Claude Rains: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-adventures-of-robin-hood-1938
  6. The Battle of Algiers (1967), directed by Gillo Pontecorvo: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-battle-of-algiers-1967 and https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-battle-of-algiers-1968
  7. Safety Last! (1923), directed by Sam Taylor and Fred C. Newmeyer and starring Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-safety-last-1923
  8. Hoop Dreams (1994), directed by Steve James and starring William Gates and Arthur Agee: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-hoop-dreams-1994 and https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/hoop-dreams-1994
  9. Nanook of the North (1922), directed by Robert J. Flaherty: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-nanook-of-the-north-1922
  10. On the Waterfront (1954), directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, and Eva Marie Saint: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-on-the-waterfront-1954

Ranking Roger Ebert’s Great Movies

Many of my followers may know that over the last five years I have watched over 200 films from Ebert’s 363-film Great Movies series. One question I’m often asked is whether all of his recommendations are excellent; another is whether his series is exhaustive. The answer to both questions is an emphatic NO. But it doesn’t have to be yes. What Ebert’s series does is it allows the viewer to explore films that would otherwise be off his or her radar. These films stretch across all genres, including documentaries. I have thus been exposed to many films which I would not otherwise have watched and which I have fallen in love with, and it is these films which make the list valuable.

Many of these are in the film noir genre, but others include the great gangster films to which I had a deep aversion until very recently and the various remembrances of the Holocaust, which I would not have felt comfortable watching until this year. In addition while I find many foreign films to be duds, there are several in the series which I have found awe-inspiring.

Here I will put them in groups of ten, with the remark that at the top, there’s virtually no difference between them in terms of excellence of presentation, memorability, or awesomeness. One thing you may notice is that many of the films that appear at the very top of my list were added to Ebert’s series in the 1990s at the beginning of his compilation; this is indicative of how memorable they were for him, too, and serve as establishing objectivity for both his observations and mine. What this means is that any of the films ranked in the top two classes can be placed anywhere within those classes. They are movies you can watch repeatedly, enjoy each time, and come back to year after year with enthusiasm.

At the bottom, however, it is somewhat of a different story. Few films have struck me as being as awful as Breathless. It has, essentially, no value. It is a movie made by a critic for other critics. It is not entertaining, not intelligent and not stylistically brilliant. Alas–not all critically acclaimed movies are worth the price of admission.

With that said I will do ten films weekly until I have exhausted the ones I have seen. My hope in so doing is to inspire others to look back at these great films and see for themselves. Enjoy!:


  1. Notorious (1946), directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-notorious-1946
  2. Vertigo (1958), directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart and Kim Novak: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-vertigo-1958
  3. Double Indemnity (1944), directed by Billy Wilder and starring Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson, and Barbara Stanwyck: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-double-indemnity-1944
  4. Rio Bravo (1959), directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/rio-bravo-1959
  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford and Karen Allen: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-raiders-of-the-lost-ark-1981 and https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/raiders-of-the-lost-ark-1981
  6. LA Confidential (1997), directed by Curtis Hanson and starring Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and Guy Pearce: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-la-confidential-1997 and https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/la-confidential-1997
  7. Rashomon (1950), directed by Akira Kurosawa: https://www.rogerebert.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=Rashomon
  8. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, and George C. Scott: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-dr-strangelove-1964
  9. Shoah (1985), directed by Claude Lanzmann and starring Holocaust survivors, SS members, and witnesses across three continents: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-shoah-1985
  10. Singin’ In the Rain (1952), directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly and starring Kelly and Debbie Reynolds: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-singin-in-the-rain-1952

A Profoundly Disturbing Moment

As some but by no means all of my readers know, I re-entered the glorious American higher education system last year, working my way through prerequisites to get a Masters in Accounting–a subject with which I was previously unfamiliar. The results have been astonishing and dumbfounding, and I wish to present them here.

In Intro to Financial Accounting, I outscored the class averages by 25% (first exam), 20% (second exam), 30% (third exam), and 40% (fourth exam)–with the high score on the first, third, and fourth exams. The averages on the third and fourth exams were well below 70%, and these were open-book, open-note tests, so everyone had access to the same information. Nor were they really difficult exams. The third test was slightly more difficult and my score was only a high B (meaning the class averaged an F), but it was not unfairly so. This was not an instructor issue. He did exactly what he was supposed to do.

In Microeconomics, which is currently in progress, I outscored the class average on the first exam by 25%–the students averaged a low D–and the instructor added 10% to everyone’s grade, calling it a curve but in fact inflating their scores. Here, too, the exam was open-book, open-note, was challenging but not unfairly so, and my score without the so-called ‘curve’ was a high B.

In Business Statistics, also currently in progress, I have outscored the class averages by 20% on each of the first two exams, with the high score on the second one but not the first one. The averages on both were low Cs, but keep in mind that the first exam, which was on the first four chapters, dealt with mostly very basic statistical concepts such as means and medians–stuff I have been doing since I was very early on in elementary school, probably no later than 1st grade. Although it is unfair to make general comparisons between myself and others, if I was able to do something at 6 that they are not able to do at 18 or older, there’s a problem. This also does not appear to me to be an instructor issue, as she is posting full lectures and the students, with some exceptions, simply appear to have very low mental capacity.

So far, I have a 4.0 in 6 completed classes (aside from Intro to Financial, these are Managerial Accounting, Survey of Computer Systems, Intermediate Accounting I, Fraud Examination, and Quantitative Models in Business) and this semester, with 3 in progress, looks to be more of the same. This means I am an Honors student in Maricopa County Community College District. So what could go wrong?

It seems that I behave differently from my classmates. You might be thinking to yourself ‘No shit, Sherlock, test scores are an element of academic behavior, probably the most important one’–and you’d be right. But in a system where nobody is accountable to those they intend to serve, this creates problems.

Repeatedly I have challenged professors on the information they have provided, and repeatedly I have been correct in these challenges, whether they admit it (as several have) or not. This is what makes me a better student than the others–I search for a depth of understanding that enables me to remember whys and hows rather than simple whats–and it has also been noted that I challenge errors on tests with well over 95% success. Many teachers appreciate this, knowing that errors are human nature and in many cases are not their errors, being the product of new editions of textbooks. But…

Some take it as a challenge to their personal authority. Notably, other students do not challenge them on the information they provide. They therefore are resistant to my doing so, which they see as some sort of a threat. And instead of working to provide correct and detailed answers, they attempt to browbeat students like myself into submission. The process of challenging professors on information they provide has led to repeated complaints about my behavior from them to department chairs to administrators. Three times. And the administrators are clueless.

Here’s an example: I mentioned what the scores were on the first Microeconomics exam. The other students haven’t yet taken the second one, but I got a 95%. However, on the first exam there was a multiple choice question where two answers were identical and none of the options was correct. This is a simple fix. I wrote to the professor letting him know about it. He wrote back repeating the same error. I wrote again asking him to look at his explanation. He sent back a pdf with the same error, telling me that would perhaps help me understand why I was wrong. I then sent him a message with a fairly aggressive tone telling him to read our correspondence from the beginning carefully. At this point he admitted I was correct, and lamented the ‘monumental task’ of having to answer a full class’s questions–which you might say would be much simpler if he answered questions correctly the first, second, or third time they were asked–but insisted that my use of all-caps–and the messaging system we have does not permit Italics or bold–was rude because I was shouting at him. I asked him how I should approach the situation in the future. No response. The next week he repeats his claim that I was rude and insists I was unapologetic.

Keep in mind that this man’s students are averaging a low D, 63%, on this same exam, and that he has inflated everyone’s scores by 10%, which is ethically dubious for a variety of reasons. What does he think the proper course of action is? He (Dr. Peter Thiel, no evident relationship to the billionaire) complains to administrators. He doesn’t try to provide full lectures (these are online classes), doesn’t try to ask what students as a whole need to do better–no, this diva goes and complains.

So yesterday I get a call from the administration asking me to meet with them–something I have done before in similar situations and which results in non-productive meetings. This time I declined the meeting. Here in this district whole classes are failing easy tests, and the best way to use their time, they think, is to meet with the best student in these classes about innocuous behavior that in fact is exactly what makes him better than these other jerk-offs. Seriously?

Of course, it’s a minor annoyance. I’ve long since ceased to take these administrators seriously–not after one of my professors filed a false police report on me last year claiming I had made a threatening phone call to him and specifying the location I allegedly made it from, but where I had not been in several years, and the administration jumped full-scale into his corner and tried to pressure me into admitting I had done it. A knock on the door from police on a Sunday night at 9 pm for something you didn’t do should definitely result in tuning out the responsible parties. It’s clear from repeated interactions that nothing these people have to say has any substance or meaning. One might be justified in wondering if they are of sound mind.

But what makes this moment profoundly disturbing is that the students who they are supposed to serve, and whom they are doing absolutely nothing to make better, are full political participants and will presumably be full participants in our economy. On this election day, after listening to hours and hours of comments by Democrats that clearly indicate some form of insanity, it’s worth a moment of reflection to consider what will happen to this society in twenty years, when all these substance-less people are in the mix and the many sensible Baby Boomers are out of it.

What, I ask, happens then? I for one am horrified at the prospect.

Trump is a fraud–Send in the National Guard!

Here’s an astonishing thing: history has shown, over and over again, that sustained riots, when not abruptly ended by decisive governors, lead directly to regime change and violent revolutions. The weakness, indecision, and incompetence of governors leads to more death and destruction than the existing order would otherwise permit. Governors who make concessions to the rioters, whether implicitly or explicitly so, or who try to play politics with rioters, ultimately do not only lose their position; they are led to the scaffold. How does one get this message across to a world that has deliberately forgotten history? How does one spread the message of Carlyle’s The French Revolution to an audience that is willfully ignorant?

Four years ago a firebrand ran for office, posing as a passionate advocate for the working people, American citizens, and conservative values. He promised to ‘Make America Great Again’ and won in the face of overwhelming odds which included a hostile, fake news media and a class of entrenched political elites desperate to stop him, resorting even to spying on him and his campaign to ensure that even in victory he would be an illegitimate leader. None of this was completely unique. His energy and a detailed knowledge of the workings of fraud helped him follow in the path of the great Harry Truman, whose campaign was spied on by the FBI on behalf of Dewey and who faced a hostile press which famously declared after the election that ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’.

Part of the hostility can most likely be attributed to the fact that Donald Trump’s experience with fraud is something he shares with every university administrator and politician in the country, only he is better at it, more daring and more skillful than they are at their own games. In a deeply corrupt world, Trump humiliated the owners of political, economic, and so-called intellectual power, appealing to a base that they had long since forgotten in their race to trample on the rights of everyone else.

Then he did something incredible: he restored American prosperity by rolling back regulations, re-established American energy independence, forgot to start any new wars, pushed back against hostile regimes, and scared the living hell out of those who were inclined to perform terrorist acts under the previous administration of Osama ibn Obama. It would be foolish to argue that everything he did was bad, or wrong. In recent weeks alone he has achieved a major breakthrough in diplomacy that had eluded the last two presidents.

In January, it became clear that one of those hostile regimes had let a virus break out within its borders, and then let it spread to three continents in quick succession. Whether this virus was created in a laboratory or otherwise developed is beside the point, although it deserves to be noted that this is precisely what a totalitarian regime might do. The larger issue was that when it arrived here, and struck a population with gross and deeply sick lives, it killed and killed freely–and killed those who were often most inclined to blame everyone else for their problems. Last week Kamala Harris made the astonishing claim that the coronavirus death toll among minorities was a result of ‘systemic racism’–whatever the hell that means–ignoring the fact that the obesity rate among blacks is 49%, and the coronavirus kills obese people at much higher rates than it does normally proportioned people.

Obesity is, in fact, a choice. I was 270 lbs in high school. I’m tall–6’3″–and looked more like a linebacker than a lineman, but I was still obese. I’m not now. I’m a lean 185 lbs. I work hard to keep myself in shape. When I destroyed my foot three years ago, suffering a Lisfranc fracture with dislocation–the bases of the first four toes were broken when I fainted on a midnight bathroom run, my blood pressure plummeted and the torque from my then-190 lbs did the job–I made sure I was back on the basketball court before 6 months were out. I would definitely have had an excuse to get fat, and a much better one than the vast majority of our disgusting obese people. I chose otherwise.

The country shut down. Then George Floyd–with a rap sheet that has significantly more substantial content than Michelle Obama’s thesis, and with heavy amounts fentanyl and methamphetamines in his system–died in police custody in Minneapolis, with an idiot policeman sitting on his black neck for three minutes after it was clear he was already dead and therefore incapable of doing any harm to him. It’s likely that he died from the drug use, not from the restraints used to subdue him as he resisted being put into the police car.

Floyd’s death came on the heels of a shooting in Georgia where a suspected thief who happened to be black and who attempted to attack people with a gun was shot and killed for his troubles. It also came on the heels of a shooting in Kentucky where police were executing a no-knock warrant and were shot at, then fired with compete recklessness and contempt for human life and killed Breonna Taylor, whose boyfriend had fired the shot. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend had, of course, been a drug lord, as is the way of the black man; he was arrested yesterday.

This week, a man named Jacob Blake–proud 29-year-old black father of 6 kids–was shot in the back while running away from police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who were called to his house for a domestic dispute and were told there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest, which (and it’s not clear if they knew this much about the specifics of the warrant) was for sexual assault and trespass. In Minneapolis, a black homicide suspect shot himself.

The results of these shootings, and the coronavirus lockdowns, have been a dramatic escalation in racial tensions in the United States, which began with nationwide riots after the Floyd shooting in May. In many places the riots calmed down; but in a few they have persisted, and the deaths this week–one self-inflicted and captured on video–have reignited them. In Portland and Seattle, rioters have not disbanded since the initial Floyd riots. In Washington, DC, rioters have attacked politicians and those who have attended political events which favor opposing viewpoints. In Kenosha, they have burned the city. In Minneapolis, they have burned and looted. In Chicago and New York, the riots have largely given way, largely due to concessions by the mayor which include defunding the police and which have resulted in massive upsurges in crimes, especially violent ones committed by blacks against other blacks. As the rioters chant the names of their martyrs, we would do well to remember that their martyrs were idiots, thugs, and villains, one and all–even Breonna Taylor, the so-called innocent EMT who dated a drug lord. It is highly questionable whether the concept of race entered into any of these situations. Black people have consistently shown an unwillingness to obey the laws and to adhere to the system of justice created to protect society from those who do as they have done. On top of the rioting, which they have consistently blamed on white supremacists, they have been in restaurants harassing white eaters and in residential streets with bullhorns harassing white residents.

These riots, and the political leaders who have explicitly encouraged them or conceded to them, have an eerie parallel to those of 1789 in France, and, going back further, to those of 1642 in England and Scotland. In both cases badly educated leaders of entrenched political elites sought to divert the riots to proceed against other targets by offering concessions. In both cases the king–one having studied the other thoroughly and not having learned much–failed to take decisive action against the rioters, failed to authorize the necessary use of force to quell the riots, and failed to protect not only their own citizens but themselves and their families from the eventual revolution that had already begun. The political leaders who made the concessions also eventually were killed, with very few exceptions, by those to whom they made them. Concessions don’t work.

The point could not be clearer. Weak and indecisive government is costly. In England the Civil War lasted form 1642 to 1649 and was followed by a period of attempted self-rule, and then the failed Protectorate of Cromwell, only to give way to the Restoration of 1660 in which the English invited Charles II back in exchange for amnesty for most of the remaining leaders of the war. In 18 years the English suffered much and built little; conditions in 1660 were not better than they were in 1642. In France the Revolution lasted from 1789 to 1795, then a series of governmental forms followed between 1795 and 1804, when Napoleon, if he existed at all, declared himself Emperor. Napoleon then lost a succession of wars and was ousted by the collective monarchies of Europe, who brought back the Bourbon dynasty in the form of Louis XVIII in 1814. Napoleon returned for 100 days in 1815, lost again, and Louis XVIII was reinstated. France, like England 150 years earlier, had spent 15 years in a succession of riots, revolution, anarchy, and dictatorship, and had regressed rather than progressed.

The solution to today’s problem is simple, but it requires someone who knows history to implement it, not someone who plays politics. It requires someone who doesn’t just put on a front of decisiveness and bravado, but who lives by principles that go beyond winning and losing elections and who believes that his citizens have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, and that a government which cannot or will not protect those rights must be altered or abolished. In other words, it requires someone other than Donald Trump.

Here’s the solution: bring in the National Guard, first to Washington–remove the mayor by force of arms–then to the cities where rioting and large-scale crime are ongoing. In these cities, by which I mean New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle, clear the streets, using all necessary force, without hesitation, shooting to kill anyone who disobeys. Then remove the mayors by force of arms. Go to the capitals of those states, and remove the governors by force of arms. And call off the election in November–postpone it until such a time as political conditions are suitable for multiple opinions to be expressed and challenged.

The cost of failure to do so will be monumental. If nothing else, the exposure of Donald Trump as weak and indecisive would undo the shit he scared out of Muslim terrorists. More likely, it would unleash devastation and havoc beyond what we have seen across the country, and lead to regime change, anarchy, and dictatorship by lending tacit and implicit sanction, even if unintended, to the rioters. By omitting the steps of anarchy and regime change our government can hold out a little longer, and give us all time to prepare for the great reckoning that is about to unfold.

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.


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.


ICE Detention Centers


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.”