I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.” – Roger Ebert, Salon.com, Sept. 15, 2011

This is one of the most popular passages Roger Ebert wrote in his later years, and it’s been invoked in more than a few obituaries and tributes since his death last Thursday. There are few things he said that I disagree with more completely. In fact, there are few public figures with whose political or philosophical beliefs I disagreed more completely than Ebert’s. So it’s perhaps a little odd for me to say that there are also few people, living or dead, who have had a more profound influence on the way I view the world than Roger Ebert. I like to think he would have gotten a kick out of the irony.

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