Author Archives: Cmsciabarra

Song of the Day #2054

Song of the Day: Moonlighting (“Main Theme”) was produced by Nile Rodgers and co-written by Lee Holdridge and Al Jarreau, who provided the smooth jazz vocals for this theme to the ABC-TV series. Starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, the series ran for 5 seasons (1985-1989). The song peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Check out two sweet renditions of it here (below) and here [YouTube links].

Lunar Wonders Never Cease

On this night, back in 1969, I sat with my family to watch this extraordinary historical event unfold. As we viewed the ghostly images on our black-and-white television, we were understandably nervous that something might go wrong—and utterly awestruck by the enormity of the accomplishment. I was only 9 years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, while Michael Collins orbited above in the command module that would return all three safely to the earth. But my memories of that night are vivid. The wonders of Apollo 11 never cease to amaze.

Song of the Day #2053

Song of the Day: Barry (“Change for the World”) is credited to the members of the funky Brooklyn-based Menahan Street Band, as well as Charles Bradley, on whose album, “Changes“, this track first appeared in 2016. The song also features The Gospel Queens, but it is only the first few notes that we hear as the main theme to this dark comedy crime drama, which ran for four seasons on HBO, from 2018-2023. I recently streamed the entire show and really liked it! Created by Alec Berg and SNL-alum Bill Hader, who stars in the title role, it also features stellar performances from Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, and Anthony Carrigan, all of whom have received their share of Emmy nominations in the Comedy series categories. Hader, nominated this year, has won twice for Outstanding Lead Actor and Winkler, also nominated this year, has won once before for Outstanding Supporting Actor; he’s up against Carrigan, also nominated this year in the Supporting category. The final season of “Barry” received a nomination this year for Outstanding Comedy Series. Check out the full theme [YouTube link].

A “Super” Moon River

This is my dear friend, Roger Bissell​’s grandson, Miles Troxler​, aka “Super Milesio“… doing a Jacob Collier-arranged rendition of the Henry Mancini gem, “Moon River” (with lyrics by Johnny Mercer), from the 1961 film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s“. Just wonderful. Check it out here [YouTube link].

Also check out his Super Mario Bros. takeoff [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #2052

Song of the Day: In Living Color (“Main Theme”), co-written and performed by Eddie F and Heavy D, opened this Wayan Brothers show, which ran from 1990 to 1994 on Fox. It’s a really nice New Jack swing theme, that continues to inspire; even Bruno Mars paid homage to it in his “Finesse” remix video with Cardi B [YouTube link].

T-Rex vs. Tea Rex

Growing up in our home, we were all dinosaur fans. Among my all-time favorites was Tyrannosaurus Rex. And I absolutely loved the entire Jurassic Park film franchise, which gave us the T-Rex image on the left. However, today’s “Between the Lines” (in the New York Daily News) gave me a much-needed laugh (on the right).*


* Now I know what those little arms were for!

Song of the Day #2051

Song of the Day: Lucky Hank (“Gypsy Swing”) [YouTube link], composed by John Donaldson, first appeared on the artist’s 2018 album, “Tonight at the Jazz Joint“. The style harks back to the sounds of Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. It is heard as source music in Season 1, Episode 5 (“The Clock”) of this AMC comedy-drama, which premiered on March 19, 2023. It stars the wonderful Bob Odenkirk of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” fame. (As an aside, though “Lucky Hank” was locked out of the competition, today, the final season of “Better Call Saul” received multiple Emmy Award nominations, including Odenkirk for Lead Actor in a Drama, Rhea Seehorn for Supporting Actress, Gordon Smith and Peter Gould for Writing; and the show for Outstanding Drama Series.) “Lucky Hank” is based on the 1997 novel, Straight Man, by Richard Russo, which I’ve not read. But I love the show!

Troy Camplin, RIP

I have just learned on Facebook that Troy Camplin passed away at the age of 52. He fought gallantly against cancer these last few years, and I am so very sorry to hear this.

It had been a long time since we checked in on one another personally; back in early November 2022, before my sister died, I told him how great it was to chat with him, and we pledged that we’d stay in touch. Alas, life got in the way—for both of us.

In May 2023, Troy wrote on Medium:

My regular readers may have noticed that I haven’t been posting a lot of late. … I’m not a big fan of self-publication. I held out a great many years before finding a publisher for my novel Hear the Screams of the Butterfly. More recently, I have had pair of poetry collections — companion pieces — published. I’m proud of Words of Gratitude and Songs of Resentment, and I hope my readers have enjoyed the collections. Despite what it may sound like, the theme of the latter is about the dangers of resentment, so it really is a companion piece to the former. And if you’re more interested in philosophy than fiction and poetry, there’s still Diaphysics. … Now, you may wonder why I am self-publishing when I say I’m not a fan of self-publishing. Well, I cannot wait twenty years like I did for Hear the Screams of the Butterfly. I cannot wait, because I have a rare kind of cancer that in the vast majority of cases is terminal. I am currently taking a test medication that at least seems to have slowed down the growth of the cancer, and let’s face it, it needs to stop growing and even reverse. And I cannot count on that happening. Thus, the urgency in getting my books out there. So, keep an eye out here for future announcements of poetry collections and novels. I do want to get the novels I have finished out there, and I hope I can finish writing another one I’m presently working on as well. Perhaps I can find the time to put together a short story collection as well. And I hope I can count on everyone’s support in my literary endeavors.

I’m deeply saddened that he was unable to complete his many works. But I am heartened by all that he did produce, from the literary and the humanities to philosophy and the social sciences, and I hope his unpublished work will be published in due course.

Troy’s dialectical sensibility and interdisciplinary vision are what first sparked my interest in his work. Back in 2015, I invited him to submit a book review to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. It was the first of four essays he’d write for the journal, including a 50-page contribution to our sixtieth anniversary symposium on Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. Troy’s essay “Atlas Shrugged as Epic” situated the novel in the tradition of The IliadMoby Dick, and Lord of the Rings.

Fortunately, our work together didn’t end with Rand scholarship. I was delighted to welcome him to the slate of authors who contributed to The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom. His essay demonstrated the enormity of his project just in its title: “Aesthetics, Ritual, Property, and Fish: A Dialectical Approach to the Evolutionary Foundations of Property“. His participation in our Facebook symposium on the anthology was equally broad in its scope. It’s archived on Medium here.

Troy Camplin fought against the forces of reaction. But more importantly, he was a courageous and ecumenical soul who fought for the cosmopolitan values requisite to the achievement of human freedom and personal flourishing. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

Postscript: Todd Camplin, Troy’s brother, announced on Facebook:

Between his friends and I, we will make sure as much of his work we can get out enters the public space. Look for two novels coming soon.

I was very happy to heart this!

Kevin Carson’s “I, Pencil Revisited”

Kevin Carson‘s “I Pencil, Revisited”

My dear friend Kevin Carson has provided us with a highly provocative critique of Leonard Read’s classic essay, “I, Pencil”. I commented on it on another thread, but thought it useful to post on my timeline.

I was always impressed with Read’s illustration of the ways in which countless market actors make use of dispersed knowledge in globally interconnected ways — all in the production of the simple Pencil.

Kevin states very clearly in his paper that he agrees, “as far as it goes”, with the “superiority of coordination by a price system over central planning”. He states further that Leonard “Read is entirely correct — so far as he goes — both in touting the importance of distributed knowledge under any economic system, and in celebrating the usefulness of allowing the formation of market-clearing prices as a tool for coordination.”

But, and it’s a BIG Butt … Kevin is focused here on the larger historical and systemic context within which current market processes operate. And on that count, I think he’s offered highly valuable insights into the centuries of “coercion at a systemic level” that created “the background against which the entire process took place.”

I don’t want to say too much about the essay, because it offers lots of rich history behind both the Read essay and the actual systems at work in the production of the Pencil.

I will say, however, that Kevin had me at “The Stations of the Pencil” (that’s one classic subtitle). His comment, early on, about the massive state involvement in railroad transportation (“Of course we all know what an exemplary product of the Invisible Hand the national railroad system was”) is indicative of just how, throughout virtually every step of the Pencil’s production, the influence of political economy is key to the entire process.

Terrific piece, Kevin. Highly dialectical! Bravo!

Check it out at the Center for a Stateless Society here.

Postscript: There’s a nice Facebook discussion on these topics. Check it out here. In that discussion, I wrote further:

I purposely opened my commentary on Kevin’s piece with my observation that “I was always impressed with Read’s illustration of the ways in which countless market actors make use of dispersed knowledge in globally interconnected ways — all in the production of the simple Pencil.” Nothing in Kevin’s essay has diminished my appreciation, not only of Read’s elegant way of expressing the coordinating capacity of markets, but also of Hayek’s profoundly important discussions of “The Use of Knowledge in Society”. Like Steve Horwitz, I am on record (in three books and too many articles to count) as being a champion of that Hayekian epistemic insight and of the benefits of the division of labor and knowledge.

That said, a few points in response—and here, I don’t presume to speak for Kevin, only for myself:

1. I don’t think it’s off topic to situate Read’s essay in the socio-economic-cultural context in which it was published. Sometimes even the best arguments for markets can—and have been—used by others as an apologia for the system as it exists.

2. I think there is much to be gained by making transparent the nature of “capitalism: the known reality”, that is, the real conditions under which capitalism evolved, all of which were deeply embedded in processes that were as much political as they were economic. I don’t think that bringing attention to that reality diminishes the lessons learned from Read’s essay; but I do think it’s certainly worth noting that so many of the resources and processes that Read highlights have been historically tainted by political/state intervention.

3. For me, the “right” and “left” libertarian distinctions are ultimately about values, and each is an umbrella term for much variety therein. On these value distinctions, I would certainly place Steve, Kevin, and myself within the “left” end of the libertarian continuum.

In another comment, I made the following points:

Since Steve Horwitz has been mentioned in this thread, I thought it would be best to have Steve speak for himself (on the question of ‘left’ and ‘right’, not to mention ‘capitalism’ vs. ‘socialism’).

Back in 2005, when Steve and I were both writing for the Liberty & Power Group Blog, I wrote a piece called “Capitalism: The Known Reality“, with which Steve wholeheartedly agreed. Steve wrote in response (“Thoughts on Sciabarra“):

1. I tend to call myself a “radical libertarian” as well. I prefer that to “anarchist” or “market anarchist” or even “anarcho-capitalist” for two reasons. One has to do with the rhetorical problems the anarchist label raises, but the other is that whether or not I’m an anarchist depends upon my mood that day. More seriously, I don’t think the case for anarchism is completely convincing. My disposition is to accept it but I’m not completely convinced enough to use that label (rhetorical problems aside). Understand, of course, that I think the set of issues where government might be justified is pretty small, hence my comfort with “radical libertarian.” The fact that I see myself as a person of the left who happens to believe that markets and other voluntary institutions are the best means to the left’s ends also makes me comfortable with the “radical” label. (Having been called a “PC libertarian” and a “neo-conservative,” not to mention a fraud and a liar, in the last 48 hours, labels are kind of fun these days.)

2. In my “Comparative Economic Institutions” course, I spend part of a very early class day explaining why I will NOT use the terms “capitalism” and “socialism” in that class (a promise I keep to a large degree). My reasoning is Hayek’s – the terms were both invented by those sympathetic to socialism. Moreover, the very terms bias the debate. To add some more meat to Chris’s argument, look at the words themselves. “Capitalism” suggests a “belief in capital” and it puts capital as the central organizing principle around which the system is built, or at least around which “the goods are delivered.” By contrast, “socialism” suggest a “belief in society as a whole” and puts society as the central organizing principle or recipient of the benefits in that system. I would suggest that both implications are incorrect (i.e., capitalism [truly free markets] doesn’t primarily benefit capitalists, and socialism benefits the few at the expense of the many).

More important, though, is that neither term speaks to the institutional arrangements that each system requires. Thus, I prefer the language of “markets” and “planning” to “capitalism” and “socialism.” Although these are not without their problems, they have the advantage of allowing us to talk about how social coordination will take place in each system and what varieties of arrangements those fundamental coordination processes might produce. For example, we can talk about markets in which there is worker ownership or not. And with planning, we can talk about the differences between, and challenges facing, democratic planning institutions versus more centralized, autocratic ones. This dichotomy forces us to ask questions about how social coordination takes place and what sorts of institutions forward it. It should lead us to ask “how do/would markets work?” and “how does/would planning work?”

It also gives us room to talk about real world systems as being neither purely markets nor purely planning, and to explore whether the coordination processes can be combined, or whether one will tend to crowd out the other (or at least cause unintended undesirable consequences) when they are significantly mixed. It provides an institutional analytic framework for doing applied work, including exploring economic history.

In any case, Chris’s post is right on, both as a question of how to talk to the Left and as a really serious question of how libertarians understand our own worldview.

Song of the Day #2050

Song of the Day: I Dream of Jeannie (“Main Theme”) [YouTube link], composed by Hugo Montenegro, opened this TV comedy, which ran from 1965 to 1970. The series was the brainchild of Sidney Sheldon, who was also the creator of “Hart to Hart” and co-creator of “The Patty Duke Show“. Sheldon won an Oscar for his screenplay to the 1947 comedy, “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” and authored 18 best-selling novels. This show starred Barbara Eden as Jeannie (the genie) and Larry Hagman (long before he was J.R. Ewing on “Dallas“). Check out a rare vocal rendition and a mix of both the original theme by Richard Wess and the famous Montenegro version [YouTube links].