Author Archives: Cmsciabarra

Song of the Day #1954

Song of the Day: Strawberry Fields Forever is considered part of the Lennon-McCartney Songbook, but John Lennon was its composer. In the wake of his tragic death, a section of New York City’s Central Park was declared Strawberry Fields, where his ashes were scattered by Yoko Ono in 1981. The song, recorded by The Beatles, was released as a double-A side single (along with “Penny Lane“) in 1967. It had a huge impact on the development of the emerging psychedlic genre and is credited as a pioneering work in music video. Check out that video, as well as a really cool jazzy rendition by the Nick Grondin Group and a Latin-tinged rendition by vocalist Karen Souza [YouTube links].

Dexter the Dog

Dexter the Dog … an inspiration, from Ouray, Colorado (the place that inspired Galt’s Gulch in Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged) …

Song of the Day #1953

Song of the Day: Passionfruit features the words and music of Nana Rogues and Aubrey Drake Graham, who recorded this song for his 2017 playlist mixtape, “More Life.” Drake’s Top Ten hit mixes elements of tropical house, R&B, pop, and dancehall into a sensuous blend. Check it out here [YouTube link].

“The Dialectics of Liberty” Reviewed in RAE

I was notified today of a wonderful review of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom (2019, Lexington Books) which I coedited with Roger Bissell and Ed Younkins. “Freedom in Context” by Alexander W. Craig, appears in the current Review of Austrian Economics. An excerpt from that review is on the book’s homepage.

Perhaps the following remarks fall under the category of “reviewing a review” of a book, but, in my opinion, Craig provides the most insightful and profoundly dialectical discussion of this eclectic volume yet published. In short: He gets it! What he has to say about a dialectical mode of inquiry is worthy enough to have been included in the anthology. He writes:

The contributors to ‘The Dialectics of Liberty’ demonstrate that libertarians can engage in a careful context-sensitive analysis of social behavior and political ideals. The book refutes the notion that libertarians must be insensitive to nuances in social environments and reliant on a woefully oversimplified conception of individuals, businesses, and governments. In this review, I first discuss the nature of dialectics, making explicit the mostly implicit definition running between the chapters of ‘The Dialectics’. I then summarize several of the chapters, synthesizing from them generalizable lessons about what Austrian economists and classical liberal scholars more generally can learn by being mindful of social context, synthesizing disparate ideas, and transcending dichotomies. …

Where logic supplies the principles whereby one may validly move from premise to conclusion and empirics discover the line between what is actual and what is merely possible, dialectics serves to keep the analyst mindful of how propositions surrounding the main object of study may change the meaning of facts under discussion. … Although all data is theory-laden, data never speaks for itself, etc., one can often take these data as they are and proceed, the empirical stage of research now giving way to the analysis stage. Logic retrospectively analyzes an argument and declares its conclusion valid or invalid based on the premises, which it has relatively little ability to discuss in themselves. Dialectics, however, is an approach to active inquiry. It makes recommendations about how an investigator might make progress in understanding a subject. Many issues one encounters in ongoing research are not so much questions of the internal and external validity of one’s empirics or the logical validity of one’s argument. They are issues of relevance and salience. …

This orientation towards the active process of investigation raises two more salient features of dialectical thinking: tacking between subjects; and transcending divides. In many situations, a researcher must find their place between at least two alternatives that are in tension with one another. … Dialectics often proceeds by transcending such dichotomies by situating them within a context. …

[The] deliberate intention to think dialectically about one’s work is likely to yield fruit for Austrian economists and classical liberal scholars. … [This book] succeeds in demonstrating the existence and value of dialectical thinkers. It is a stimulating series of inspirations for further work, and a useful reference for many interesting directions of contemporary libertarian scholarship. I would be pleased to see more scholars ask themselves not only ‘Is my evidence compelling?’ and ‘Is my argument sound?’ but also ‘Have I considered the context carefully?’

The review consists of a nice survey of many of the articles within the book. I heartily recommend the review—and the book (!)—to your attention! Readers can pick up a heavily discounted autographed copy of the volume from the C4SS Store.

James Caan, RIP

I first saw the Bronx-born James Caan in a heartbreaking 1971 ABC Movie of the Week, “Brian’s Song“, about the life of Chicago Bears football player Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer at the age of 26. The poignant story was told through the eyes of Piccolo’s friend, Gale Sayers (played by Billy Dee Williams).

Nothing in that tearjerker of a film, about the deep friendship of two men from different backgrounds and different races, could have prepared me for Caan’s explosive portrayal of Sonny Corleone in the 1972 film, “The Godfather“, for which he received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor (along with two of his costars, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino). In 1999, his hilarious sendup as another mob character in “Mickey Blue Eyes” showed yet another side to his talent. And in a standout performance opposite the Oscar-winning Kathy Bates, he made us feel the “Misery” in the 1990 film adaptation of the novel by Stephen King. He was in nearly 70 films in a career that spanned from the early 1960s thru 2021, from “Lady in a Cage” and “Cinderella Liberty” to “Funny Lady“, “Rollerball” and “Elf“.

I was saddened to learn that James Caan died yesterday at the age of 82. RIP. [See some discussion on my Facebook post.]

James Caan (1940-2022)

Song of the Day #1952

Song of the Day: American Pie, words and music by Don McLean, was the title track to the artist’s 1971 album. The folk-rock song would hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1972, and would be dubbed “one of the most successful and debated songs of the 20th century”—due to an array of interpretations as to its meaning. (And McLean is still making headlines till this day!) Check out the original album version (below), a truncated Madonna rendition, a jazz funk rendition by Groove Holmes, and a “Weird Al” Yankovic ‘Star Wars’ parody, “The Saga Begins” [YouTube links]. A Happy Independence Day to All!

And in Brooklyn, it’s not Independence Day without Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest! Joey Chestnut is vying for his 15th win … after last year’s record-setting 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Ugh.

Go Joey! (Live stream here.)

Postscript: With a ruptured tendon, Joey Chestnut takes his 15th win, consuming 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes in Coney Island!

See Facebook comments here, here, and here.

Song of the Day #1951

Song of the Day: Sweet Cherry Wine, words and music by Richard Grasso and Tommy James, appeared on the 1969 psychedelic rock album “Cellophane Symphony,” by Tommy James and the Shondells. This anti-Vietnam War protest song was among those included on the jukebox at the Stonewall Inn in the early morning hours of this day, when that gay bar was raided by police for the umpteenth time. But the patrons fought back, asserting the authenticity of their own lives and the right to pursue their own happiness. In looking back on the Stonewall riots, some commentators have cited an urban legend that views the June 27, 1969 funeral [YouTube link] of gay icon Judy Garland—who was born 100 years ago this month (on June 10, 1922)—as an emotional catalyst for the riots late that night. This view has been challenged by many, but there is a poetic irony that gay men of a different generation once referred to themselves euphemistically as “friends of Dorothy” and that Garland’s most iconic song (and LGBTQ anthem), “Over the Rainbow” [YouTube link] (from the 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz“) finds its symbolic expression in the rainbow flag of Pride (though its creator, Gilbert Baker, denies the connection). Be that as it may—today, I proudly salute the Stonewall Rebels. From the 1969 Stonewall jukebox, check out “Sweet Cherry Wine” (below).

It’s Mourning in America

If you are among those conservative folks who simultaneously believes that abortion—even in the first trimester—is murder, and you also happen to be in favor of the death penalty, I hope you’ll be ready to start executing women and doctors who defy your celebration of today’s US Supreme Court ruling, which overturns Roe v. Wade after fifty years. The conservatives aren’t done yet. One of the concurring justices in today’s decision, the repulsive Clarence Thomas, thinks that today’s decision can very well impact the court’s rulings on contraception, sodomy, and same-sex marriage. (And under the radar today, the Court even eroded Miranda rights.)

It’s mourning in America.*

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* For those who don’t ‘get’ the title of this post, it’s a play on Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign ad—given that the Reagan administration was the first to so embolden the Religious Right and its war on humane, cosmopolitan, liberal values. Well, that war has finally borne rotten fruit.

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Postscript #1

On Facebook, enraged over today’s ruling, I added these points:

I confess that I’m most angry at those ‘libertarians’ who have traditionally sided with Republicans because they favor “less regulation” and “lower taxes”—for them, it’s all about “business”. Gotta oppose the “left wing” and their “woke” agenda, after all! Don’t worry about things like “abortion”, they were saying, because it’s been the law of the land for 50 years. “Nobody is gonna touch that!”

Well, we’re back to the patchwork of state-by-state illegalities that will make it impossible for poor people especially (poor people? who cares about them?!), living in states dominated by the reactionary right, to secure reproductive freedom. Those who supported the GOP for “economic” reasons traded-in people’s personal liberties and the looney-tune right-wingers have finally won out. [And mind you, there’s nothing about the GOP that will ever give you “less regulation” or “lower taxes”, given the GOP’s commitment to both economic nationalism and the military-industrial complex.]

My rage is only outstripped by my fear—that I will never live long enough to see the damage done today, undone.

And with Reason magazine telling us to chill because the “other conservative judges don’t necessarily agree with” Clarence Thomas, all I could add is: “F*^K him, F^%K them, and F&^% all of them who got behind the conservative agenda [of “low taxes” and “less regulation”], such that this could eventuate.”

And by “this“, I mean not only the erosion of reproductive freedoms but the reactionary war on profoundly personal liberties, which will only gain steam in the shadow of today’s obscene Court decision.

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Postscript #2

This New York Times piece tracks which states banned abortion today. And it tells us which states are on the way to a total ban or deep restrictions. This is a blow to human liberty. Those who voted in the SCOTUS majority be damned!

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Postscript #3

Ayn Rand was correct when she cited the moral bankruptcy of conservatism. She understood that the “pro-lifers” were at their core anti-life and anti-liberty. And she also understood the blatant attack on the poor that the denial of reproductive freedom would entail. From the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a “right to life.” A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. . . . Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.

The question of abortion involves much more than the termination of a pregnancy: it is a question of the entire life of the parents. As I have said before, parenthood is an enormous responsibility; it is an impossible responsibility for young people who are ambitious and struggling, but poor; particularly if they are intelligent and conscientious enough not to abandon their child on a doorstep nor to surrender it to adoption. For such young people, pregnancy is a death sentence: parenthood would force them to give up their future, and condemn them to a life of hopeless drudgery, of slavery to a child’s physical and financial needs. The situation of an unwed mother, abandoned by her lover, is even worse.

Ski Visits II

The “Ski Visits” continue! My sister Elizabeth “Ms. Ski” Sciabarra and I wanted to extend our love and appreciation to two very dear friends—who stopped by today to say “Hi” and spread cheer: Rose De Pinto and Barbara Esmilla.

(L-R) Rose De Pinto, Elizabeth Sciabarra, Barbara Esmilla

Postscript (15 July 2022): And another dear friend stopped by today to see my sister: Ron Mangano, whom my sister has known for over 30 years, since her days as a principal at New Dorp High School.