Category Archives: Fyi

JARS: Toward a 2023 Grand Finale

In the fall of 1999, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies began publication as the only nonpartisan, interdisciplinary, double-blind, peer-reviewed, biannual periodical devoted to the study of Ayn Rand and her times. In 2013, JARS began a fruitful collaboration with Pennsylvania State University Press. Our reach has grown beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. We are indexed, in whole or in part, by nearly two dozen abstracting services across the humanities and the social sciences and are reaching thousands of global readers due to our availability on a variety of e-platforms—from JSTOR and Project MUSE to the new Scholarly Publishing Collective. And all its issues will always be on the Portico dark archive.

Over these last 22 years, JARS has contributed to the expansion of Rand scholarship in a truly significant way. With the forthcoming December 2022 issue, we will have published 408 articles by 188 different authors. Thus, we have not merely reflected a growing interest in Rand’s ideas; we have helped to spark a broader critical engagement with a thinker who was once viewed as outside the philosophical and literary mainstream. To this extent, we have accomplished one of our most important goals. Indeed, unlike the first year in which JARS appeared, articles about Rand are now being published regularly across the world in a wide variety of scholarly journals. And each year, more and more books are being published about her ideas and influence, and not even we can keep up with the demand for reviews of this expanding literature.

There comes a point at which one can look back at the achievements of a project and declare that it is time to move on. After more than two decades of what could only be termed ‘a labor of love’ by a group of editors, advisory board members, peer readers, and writers, this journal will be publishing its last volume as a double issue in 2023. We look forward to providing our readers with a truly grand finale. Our back issues will continue to be made available electronically and in print for as long as there are people seeking their contents.

This decision was made by the JARS Foundation Board of Trustees. This was not a publisher decision to liquidate JARS—which has been one of the most popular periodicals in the Penn State University Press Journals Program.

We know that there is still much work to be done in this field of study, but we are proud to have made a trailblazing contribution to its long-term vitality and success. Above all, we thank our readers for having made this journey possible.

Toward that end, I should note that we have a full slate of articles for our final July-December 2023 issue and will not be accepting any additional submissions beyond those already in production.

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As a personal aside, I have been asked by friends and colleagues about my own future in a post-JARS era. All I can say is this: It is no coincidence that the last book I published as an author was in the year 2000. It was the conclusion of my “Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy”: Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. Since then, I have worked very hard as a founding coeditor of JARS, publishing the equivalent of two anthologies per year for what will be nearly a quarter century. Aside from several reviews and historical-archival essays that I contributed to JARS, my only “side” project was as a coeditor of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom (2019). I fully intend to invest much more time and effort in expanding on this dialectical research project and its implications for human freedom and personal flourishing. But before I return to that project, I will be moving toward the completion of JARS. I’m proud of what this journal has accomplished and look forward to its graceful conclusion.

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*This has been announced publicly on Facebook and a link to it can also be found on the JARS home page. It was also announced by Stephen Boydstun on Objectivism Online.

Notablog: 20 Years, 3500 Posts

On July 26, 2002, I posted my first Notablog entry. It was to announce the New York Daily News publication on that date of my essay, “From The Fountainhead: Howard Roark“, part of the newspaper’s series, “Big Town Classic Characters: New Yorkers of the American Imagination.”

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of that first post. And this just so happens to be my 3,500th blog post in two decades. And if you believe this is a total coincidence, I got a nice bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you!

I started posting on Notablog when it was on the NYU server (archives of all those posts, July 26, 2002 to August 1, 2020 can be found here). On August 1, 2020, I migrated to my own Notablog.net.

Speaking of dates, it was back on May 14, 2022 that my long-time friend Roger Bissell said, tongue-in-cheek, “Chris himself has a long-running internet presence he styles in delightfully quasi-Hegelian fashion as ‘Notablog’.” Though I clearly have my quasi-Hegelian tendencies, I have indeed long been asked why I call what is obviously a blog, “Notablog”. As I explained on February 15, 2005:

Some readers have wondered why I continue to call this site “Not a Blog,” even though it seems to become more blog-like with each passing week. Well, it’s going to stay “Not a Blog”—though from now on it will appear with closed spaces between the words: “Notablog.” That phrase can just as easily be viewed as an acronym for “None Of The Above Blog” (as suggested here) or “Nota Blog” (as suggested here), recalling the Latin phrase “Nota Bene,” featuring entries on topics of which one might take particular notice.  

In any event, I’m happy that I’ve not let up in twenty years. I hope to continue blogging for a long time to come, and to continue sharing some of the blog’s contents on Facebook as well!

Postscript: Discussion of this post can be found on Facebook. Also: Much thanks to Tom Knapp for his kind congrats!

Wikipedia Adds New Profile Pic!

Yay! I’m very happy to report that The Mystery Photographer who took this pic of me with the Parachute Jump in Coney Island, Brooklyn as backdrop finally got clearance (since said photographer apparently held the copyright) to post this updated photo of me on my Wikipedia Profile Page, over which I have no control. I didn’t even write it!

Anyway… thanks Mystery Photographer! Much appreciated!

#GoFundSki

On behalf of my sister, I am sharing this publicly—and sending our appreciation to those who have continued to show their love and support. This is a GoFundMe for my sister. #GoFundSki to donate!

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This is the kind of appeal that the family of Elizabeth Sciabarra (Ms. Ski to her students) never wanted to post. But we are facing some very difficult realities. My sister became seriously ill and nearly died in November 2020, which was followed by extensive spinal surgery in mid-March 2021. We nearly lost her again in mid-October 2021. Since that time, she has been receiving in-home hospice. As her devoted brother, I have been her primary caregiver—despite dealing with my own lifelong medical issues. As my own health has been compromised over these many months, we have been compelled to turn to health aides to assist with my sister’s in-home care.

My sister brings in a pension from her many years of service as an educator in the New York City public school system. She also brings in a Social Security retirement check. Given the state of American healthcare, she is in the unenviable position of being in that great “middle” ground where so many others find themselves—not “wealthy” enough to cover all her medical expenses; too “wealthy” to qualify for Medicaid. As a woman who has worked for over fifty years, and paid millions of dollars in taxes to local, state, and federal governments, she qualifies for a single Medicare home health aide, 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, though she needs 24/7 care.

Having maxed-out some assistance from the Council of Supervisors and Administrators for both the 2021 and 2022 calendar years, she is spending, on average, approximately $15,000 a month on aides and other non-insured medical supplies—more than she earns with her pension and Social Security combined. She has sold her car, exhausted her savings, and cashed-in retirement accounts—paying taxes on that too. Complete financial collapse can be avoided if my sister is placed in a Medicare-insured inpatient hospice, which would constitute a dramatic change to her quality of life. She wanted to remain at home, but without the financial capacity to do so, she will be compelled to make a decision that will break all our hearts. And hers most of all. Out of personal embarrassment and a sense of pride, she never wanted to make an appeal such as this. But after being in-and-out of hospitals and medical facilities for 17 months, even she realizes that this situation is financially unsustainable, threatening her ability to pay for even the basic necessities of life … food, clothing, and shelter.

We appreciate anything anyone can offer; we have no hope of paying anyone back. We only hope that a woman who, as an educator, devoted her life to helping thousands upon thousands of children and young adults, can raise enough funds that would allow her a level of dignity moving forward—despite the serious health challenges she continues to face every hour of every day.

Sincerely,
Chris Matthew Sciabarra (on behalf of my sister)

My dear sister, Elizabeth Sciabarra

Also see Facebook post here.

Da Bomb Hits Brooklyn …

A “Bomb Cyclone” is hitting the Northeast. We’re expecting continued high winds (50-60 mph gusts) and about a foot of snow here in Brooklyn, New York. A big snowfall typically covers the cars—but the winds are simultaneously wiping them clean! Should be a lot worse for my neighbors in New England and out on Eastern Long Island.

Well, this one doesn’t come near the blizzards of 2006, 2016, and 1947, all in excess of 26 inches. Since they plow to the right, if you were parked on that side, you were lucky if you could move your car again by April!

Scholarly Publishing Collective Launches – JARS Free Till March 31st!

A Major Announcement Today:

The Scholarly Publishing Collective (the Collective) is pleased to announce that its online content platform is now live, with content from over 130 journals published by Michigan State University Press, Penn State University Press, SBL Press, and the University of Illinois Press.

Through the Collective, managed by Duke University Press, publishers have access to resources that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive, such as a best-in-class web platform, proven customer relations and library relations teams, and a network of global sales agents with insight into university press content. Journals are hosted on the Silverchair hosting platform, which is home to Duke University Press’s publications as well as publications from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Wolters Kluwer, and many other distinguished publishers.

Through the Collective’s partnership with Silverchair, publishers benefit from fully responsive journal websites that adapt to any display size and have a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate interface. Features of the platform include support for advance-publication articles; the ability for non-subscribers to purchase access to full issues and articles; the ability to search and filter results across journal, publisher, or Collective content; robust usage statistics; and support for supplemental data files, including media.

“Being part of the Scholarly Collective will take Penn State University Press’s commitment to journals publishing to a new level. We’re excited about this exciting growth opportunity for our society partners, our library friends, our contributors, and the editors of our journals,” said Patrick Alexander, Director of Penn State University Press.

The Collective platform currently hosts the journals content of four publishers migrating from the JSTOR Journal Hosting Program, which is ending after 2021. All content is temporarily free to access until March 31, 2022.

“Duke University Press has developed infrastructure for our own publishing program that we can share with our fellow UP journal publishers and society publishers to support them at a time when sustaining their journals program is critical to sustaining their overall mission. Through the Collective, the partners expand their ability to disseminate, promote, and increase the impact of scholarship. More than fifteen years of investment and experience and skill-building have gone into being able to do this, and we want to leverage our experience for our Collective partners,” said Allison Belan, Director for Strategic Innovation and Services at Duke University Press.

What does this mean for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies? Simple! Go here and check out our contents (going back to 2007; all contents going back to 1999 are still available on JSTOR)—free till March 31, 2022. (And speaking for myself and my coauthor, Pavel Solovyev, check out “The Rand Transcript Revealed” in all its full-color glory on the site!)

Honoring John Hospers

This Sunday, October 10, 2021, Jameson Books is publishing a wonderful collection in honor of philosopher John Hospers entitled Libertarianism: John Hospers, The Libertarian Party’s 50th Anniversary, and Beyond, edited by C. Ronald Kimberling and Stan Oliver. As Tom Palmer writes in his Foreword to the book:

John Hospers was a memorable man, with an influence far greater than his current renown. It’s thus an honor to advance this collection, as well as to contribute to it. His ideas, his encouragement of his students, his friendship, and his scholarship are explored by the numerous articles and essays in this volume, which also provides primary documents for those interested in the growth of the libertarian political movement in the United States. It’s a valuable resource for historians of ideas, for political junkies, and for anyone interested in the revival of libertarian thought in the United States—a revival in which John Hospers played an important role. That preference for liberty, for escaping the cages of “left” and “right” that have so warped and degraded American political practice, is now a part of the American political scene.

The 400-page book includes more than 30 essays by a wide variety of writers, including yours truly. In my own essay, “John Hospers: A Remembrance,” I reflect on my discovery of John’s work and my friendship with this gentle man with a remarkable intellect and wonderful sense of life. As I state in the essay:

I had heard of John Hospers years earlier, when I was twelve years old. He was, after all, the first presidential candidate of the newly formed Libertarian Party. In 1972, he received, along with Tonie Nathan, his vice presidential running mate, one electoral vote, which was one less for Richard M. Nixon. Nathan became the first woman and the first Jewish candidate to receive an electoral vote in any US presidential election.

But it wasn’t until years later, when I read “Libertarianism“, that I came to appreciate the true significance of John Hospers, philosopher. This work revealed the remarkable breadth of the libertarian vision. Within it, I found a logically arranged, eminently readable introduction to all of the core issues with regard to economic and political liberty, both at home and abroad, the dangers of the interventionist state, and even a discussion of the debate between the advocates of minimal government and the anarcho-capitalists. Hospers’s 1971 opus preceded Robert Nozick’s seminal “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” by three years and introduced a young generation to a genuine “philosophy for tomorrow.” It was, in fact, one of the founding “manifestos” of an
intellectual revolution in twentieth-century thought, deeply rooted in the ideals of classical liberalism adopted for a new age.

As the years passed, I made that new libertarian vision my guiding intellectual pursuit, and as I learned more, it seemed as if John Hospers was always a presence somewhere in that learning process. I discovered other works of his, and then, eventually, I had the courage to send him a copy of the working manuscript for my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, seeking his feedback. With grace, he accepted the task of a critical reading of the manuscript and provided me with meticulous, insightful, and thought-provoking comments; whenever critical, they were constructively so, whether they were conveyed on the phone or in correspondence. There is no doubt that his input immeasurably improved the final product, for which I remain eternally grateful. In the end, his support of my work on Rand led him to provide a generous blurb that appeared in the first printing of its first edition.

I finally met John at a Liberty conference in 1996, where I appeared on a panel with him and Barbara Branden to discuss the contributions of Ayn Rand. Three years later, he became one of the original founding advisory board members to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. When he passed away on June 12, 2011, the world lost a marvelous thinker; I lost a dear friend. This book includes essays coming from a variety of perspectives—including some with which I disagree. But it remains an inspiring memorial to John’s humanity and legacy.

Celebrating John Hospers

Postscript – On Facebook, some folks, who disagreed with John Hospers on many issues, found it odd that anyone would contribute to a book that would deify him. I replied:

Let me make one thing clear: I contributed to this anthology not as a means of deifying the man, but as a means of recognizing his larger legacy, which has been underappreciated. I approach all learning the same way: I have drawn lessons from thinkers all over the intellectual map—from Aristotle to Hegel, from Ayn Rand to Karl Marx. I do not believe in the deification of any of these figures, but I give credit where credit is due, criticize that with which I disagree, and move on.

The Marxist scholar Bertell Ollman, my doctoral dissertation advisor and mentor, remains one of the most important influences on my intellectual development; I would contribute to any anthology recognizing his contributions in the same way I have done for John Hospers. Both men had an immense impact on my growth, in addition to being remarkably generous, kind souls.

By no means did I agree with John on issues like abortion or the Iraq war, but heck, I have had major disagreements with thinkers inside and outside of libertarianism my whole life on issues across the board. Still. I have learned from so many, and I think it is important to recognize this. We never stop learning—well, at least we never should stop learning—and it’s a good thing to be able to acknowledge those who have taught us. And I’d like to think that I pass this legacy onto those who have learned from me.

Another exchange on Facebook raised the issue of whether John Hospers would have supported civil disobedience, given his focus on the “rule of law”. I replied:

The problem you raise is one that all folks—who believe in any radical shift away from the status quo—must face. As Rand once said, it’s the problem of how to live a ‘rational’ life in an ‘irrational’ society. It is the problem of trying to change a society given the conditions that exist. In Libertarianism, the book published 50 years ago (in 1971), Hospers suggests that armed revolution against unjust laws would most likely lead to enormous loss of life and property and would not change things fundamentally. He also argued that the refusal to obey unjust laws could have a monumental effect—but only if “very large numbers of dissenters” joined in the civil disobedience, say “fifty million people” refusing to pay their taxes or to be subject to military conscription.

Hospers cites Albert Jay Nock, who wrote: “Inaction is better than wrong action or premature right action and effective right action can only follow right thinking” (quoted by Hospers on p. 462 of Libertarianism). So for Hospers, the surest way to affect a change in laws was by a cultural shift in ideas through an educational process.

Given some of the conversations I had with him, I suspect he would have still left it to individuals to engage in resistance to unjust laws; respecting the rule of law is not the same thing as respecting the rule of laws that by their very nature coerce and oppress.


Taking out the Trash on Social Media

At one point, only a couple of months ago, I was nearing 5000 Facebook “friends”, whom I was adding throughout the years without giving much thought to it. But the increasing toxicity over the last few years has been palpable. It led me to “trim” my FB “friend” list by over 4000 people.* I’ve even invited some folks to unfriend me if they didn’t like what I had to say, and lo and behold, my wish was granted! THANK GOODNESS! I have had it with the toxicity and the nastiness in social media. I’ve seen it up close and personal for all too many years. Life is too short.

Taking out the trash …

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* And for the record, I still have over 940 FB “friends”. We don’t all agree! But there is a difference between having a disagreement and being disagreeable. (Actually, it’s now below 940… so clearly, the approach is working!)

But more importantly, it’s not just about taking toxicity out of the airspace; at root, it’s about self-care, indeed. Nobody should have to devote one moment of their time to something that is as corrosive as that kind of interaction. It erodes us and it diminishes us. All the more reason to take the intiative and do what’s right for yourself.

Facebook: Trust, but Verify!

Earlier today, I was invited by Facebook to complete a process of authentication that would secure my profile with a “verified badge,” such that people who read my posts on my Timeline can trust that the words come from me! A check mark now appears to the right of my name on my profile page and to the right of my name anywhere that I make a comment. Hovering over that check mark, you’ll see that “Facebook confirmed that this is the authentic profile for this public figure.” Public figure! Wow!

As Facebook explains:

The verified badge appears next to a Facebook Page or profile. It means Facebook has confirmed that the Page or profile is the authentic presence of the public figure or global brand it represents. We don’t use the verified badge to endorse or recognize public figures or brands. The verified badge is a tool to help people find public figures and brands’ real Pages and profiles. If a Page or profile has the verified badge, we’ve confirmed that it represents who it says it does. If the badge isn’t there, it may not be the real Page or profile. Posts, stories and other content from verified Pages and profiles aren’t verified by Facebook.

So rest assured, my Facebook account is not a sock account (or, more properly, a “sock puppet account“), and my page represents an “authentic,” “unique,” “complete,” and “notable” profile. Given all that’s happened on Facebook over the last few years, I don’t know if this is a plus or a minus. But there aren’t many other folks who would want to “own” the dialectical libertarian “brand” I represent. I knew who I was before this verification process. I know who I am today. And, now, apparently, so do you!

smh 🙂