Category Archives: Sports

Merlin Jetton, RIP

I learned from my friend Stephen Boydstun today that our mutual colleague and friend Merlin Jetton has died of cancer. Merlin is survived by his wife Rebecca.

In the 1990s, Merlin contributed many articles to Stephen’s wonderful journal, Objectivity. In 2006, he contributed the first of seven articles to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. He wrote on subjects ranging from epistemology to ethics. His final JARS article appeared in our July 2021 issue: “Selfish versus Selfish” (which is available on the Scholarly Publishing Collective site here).

Merlin described himself as an independent scholar. He graduated from the University of Illinois as a math major. His bio for JARS reminds us that “[h]e escaped academia in order to apply and expand his math skills in the real world of business.” A Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Chartered Financial Analyst, he retired after a twenty-eight-year career as an actuary and financial engineer, having specialized in asset-liability management the last fifteen years or so.

His interest in Rand’s philosophy stretched back decades. As a member of “the Chicago School of Objectivism”, he attended the New Intellectual Forum, a salon organized by another of our friends, Marsha Enright. Merlin made several presentations to that group.

Merlin Jetton, RIP

Stephen’s poignant memories of Merlin are published here. Unlike Stephen, I never met Merlin. But having corresponded with him over the course of 17 years, I got to know him in a way that showed what a congenial soul he was. I’ll miss our discussions of everything from philosophy to baseball. I remember how annoyed he was back in 2020 when the Los Angeles Dodgers—or as he called them, those “damn ex-Bums”—beat his Atlanta Braves in a 7-game National League Championship Series.

We were unable to meet when he came to NYC in 2019, and he expressed the hope that we’d meet someday. But by October 2020, he had already undergone surgery for his second bout with cancer. His health woes never dulled his enormous empathy for me—with my own share of medical problems—or the challenges facing my sister, when she became seriously ill only a month later.

Aside from our interest in philosophy and baseball, Merlin and I shared a love of Peanuts cartoons. Less than a week after my 61st birthday, Merlin sent me a set of Charles M. Schulz classics, including the one below. It’s a reminder of how much admiration and appreciation we had for one another.

I will miss Merlin very much, not just as a member of the JARS family, but as the warm human being and friend he was. The July 2022 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be dedicated to his memory.

Postscript: This was a particularly sad day for me … having noted on Facebook that it would have been the 58th birthday of Steve Horwitz. As I said: “You are gone, but never forgotten, dearest friend. Thank you for having graced my life and the lives of so many others. My love always … ”

Song of the Day #1902

Song of the Day: Paradise by the Dashboard Light, words and music by Jim Steinman, is a piece of musical theater that became a staple of classic rock radio when it was released in 1978 as the third single off the album, “Bat Out of Hell“, the 1977 debut album of singer and actor, Meat Loaf (Marvin Lee Aday). The Platinum 8+ minute track, featuring both Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley on vocals, was produced by Todd Rundgren, who plays guitar on the track. When the song came out—even as it was played endlessly in its full album glory—I had a certain sentimentality for it. Any song that features the rather ‘suggestive’ play-by-play of Hall of Fame Yankees shortstop and hilarious sports announcer, Phil Rizzuto, gets Major League Points in my book. Yesterday, Meat Loaf passed away at the age of 74. Check out one of his biggest hits [YouTube link].

Vic DiBitetto: Yankee Rant!

For Yankee fans, this rant is gold!

Yanks vs. Red Sox: Calling Bucky Dent!

Tomorrow, an epic wild card showdown will take place between long-time rivals: the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The back headline of the sports page of today’s New York Daily News says it all!

Holy Cow! Yanks Clinch AL Wild Card Spot!

I’m shocked. Shocked. The Yanks and Tampa Bay were 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth and Aaron Judge drove in his 98th RBI, as Tyler Wade scored. Yanks win, 1-0.

Fine pitching and clutch defense (like Gio Urshela holding onto a catch that sent him tumbling into the Toronto dugout) gave the Yanks their 92nd win of the year and sends them into an AL Wild Card spot. I’ll take it!

(And they may have swept the Red Sox in their last stint at Fenway Park, but they got a one-game playoff in Fenway on Tuesday. Oy…)

Derek Jeter: Baseball Hall of Famer

2020 inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Derek Jeter, finally gets his moment in the spotlight on Wednesday, September 8th in Cooperstown, where the ceremony, postponed from last year, will take place at 1:30 p.m.

Jeter spent his entire 20-year baseball career with the New York Yankees as their All-Star shortstop. Readers of this blog know of my long-held esteem for the man; I wrote a tribute to him back in 2017, when the Yankees retired his #2 in Monument Park at The Stadium. As I stated back then:

Jeter holds many all-time franchise records for the New York Yankees, including most all-time hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). He was the 1996 Rookie of the Year, a 14-time All-Star (including a Most Valuable Player All-Star Game award the same year he was named World Series MVP). He won 5 Gold Glove Awards, 5 Silver Slugger Awards, 2 Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. He was the 28th player in Major League Baseball History to pass the 3,000 hit mark. Always a teammate with a “flair for the dramatic,” his 3000th hit was a home-run on a day in which he went 5 for 5, driving in the winning run. He is, in fact, the only Yankee player with more than 3,000 lifetime hits (which ranks sixth all-time among Major League Baseball players, and the most all-time hits by a shortstop).

#2 (but always #1 in my playbook)

A tip of the baseball cap to The Captain. It’s about time!

John Dewey H.S.: A Love Letter …

On Facebook, my friend Stephen Boydstun, made the following query:


You attended the John Dewey high school in Brooklyn, and I was wondering if there were differences in that school compared to other high schools that were advertised and how did its specialness stack up in your experience of it. Your 1977 yearbook is online, though not with very clear images. It indicates you were awarded a Regents scholarship. Does that mean a scholarship to go to college? The high school was free, right? Do you have a clear senior picture you could show us? Perhaps you have already written about some of this and could direct me to that spot.

I’ve only written in passing about my experiences at John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X, in Brooklyn, New York). But there’s so much to say.

As background, folks can indeed check out the John Dewey High School Archives here. Available on that site are my 1977 senior yearbook (my own yearbook is somewhere in my apartment, but my high school photo [ugh!] can be found on page 88), Graduation Program, and Senior Recogntion Night Program. I was indeed the recipient of a small Regents scholarship, though, more importantly, I received a Regents-endorsed diploma, because I successfully completed the necessary Regents exams to qualify (in Biology, English, Geometry, Social Studies, and so forth).

John Dewey was an extraordinary “free” public high school. I don’t know how my experiences in high school compare to those of others in standard high school curricula throughout the New York city public school system. But I can say that my high school years were among the most remarkable educational experiences of my life. The school stressed individual responsibility within a nourishing social environment, with gifted teachers who cared, and who offered challenging courses and extracurricular activities on a sprawling college-like campus. Check out “The John Dewey High School Adventure” (October 1971, volume 53, no. 2, Phi Delta Kappan International) by Sol Levine, who was the principal of the school when I was in attendance. A 1977 New York Times article also highlighted the school’s unique character.

In 1974, I entered the school as a sophomore (a tenth-grader), having graduated from a 2-year SP (“special progress“) program at David A. Boody Junior High School, which consolidated the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades into a two-year timeframe. Instead of the traditional fall and spring semesters, John Dewey High School provided students with five 6-week cycles throughout the academic year. Courses were graded on a pass-fail system, which placed less stress on grade-consciousness and more on augmented learning—though teachers could give students an “ME” (Mastery with Excellence) certificate. The school day was longer (8 am to 4 pm) than the standard NYC high school, which allowed for “free periods” in which we were expected to meet in study groups, clubs (both traditional and nontraditional), and on-campus activities. The school didn’t participate in interscholastic sports team competitions, but encouraged intramural play on its wonderful athletic field.

Sophomore Year

In my sophomore year, in addition to full-year studies of French, Advanced Geometry, Biology, and Business Education (Typewriting), I took courses in the following areas:

English

  • Introduction to Dramatic Literature
  • Introduction to Creative Writing (with Brian McCarthy, who also stoked my interest in science fiction, with the Science Fiction Club and the Palingenesis publication it spawned)
  • Introduction to Journalism
  • Introduction to the Short Story

Social Studies:

  • War and Peace (Twentieth Century)
  • Struggle for Democracy (Up to the French Revolution)
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Consumer Economics
  • Urban Economics

I was medically excused from gym, but took associated courses in “Human Sexuality” and “Psychology of Human Relations”.

Junior Year

I engaged in full-year studies (all five cycles) in French, Chemistry, Trigonometry, and Music (The History of Jazz, 3 cycles of which were attended in my junior year, 2 cycles of which were completed in my senior year—during which I actually taught several weeks on the history of jazz guitar and the history of jazz violin). I also took these courses in the following disciplines:

English

  • Psychological Approach to Literature (2 cycles)
  • Shakespeare (2 cycles)

Social Studies

  • The Kennedy Years & After
  • American People
  • The Holocaust (the first such course ever offered on a high-school level, taught by Ira Zornberg, under whom I came to edit the social studies periodical, Gadfly)
  • Futuristics

I began my studies with the Law Institute, led by two wonderful teachers, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Wolfson:

  • Justice, Judges, and Jury
  • Supreme Court & Civil Liberties
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Business Law

I also took one elective course in “Photography”—where I learned to take and develop photographs, as well as various “DISKS” (“Dewey Independent Study Kits”) in such areas as Medieval History and the Renaissance.

Senior Year

In my final year at John Dewey High School, I undertook full-year studies of Advanced French, Anthropology, three cycles of Calculus, and Advanced Placement American History (taught by Larry Pero, Chair of the History Department, for which I earned college credit with St. John’s University). I also studied the following courses in English:

  • Man, Nature, and Survival
  • Individualism in American Literature
  • Introduction to Film
  • Public Speaking

And I completed my studies in the Law Institute with the following courses:

  • Law in an Urban Society
  • Fieldwork and Legal Research

Never giving a second thought to the issue of “Grade-Point Average,” I fully embraced the enriched atmosphere of learning that John Dewey High School provided for its students. I graduated with honors for growth, personal achievement, and personal contributions in English, French, Music, and Social Studies, and received recognition for my extra-curricular activities.

I also received the English Achievement Award for Excellence in the Communication Arts, the James K. Hackett Medal for Demonstrated Proficiency in Oratory, the Publications Award for Demonstrated Excellence in the Field of Journalism, the John Dewey Science Fiction Club Award, the Chemistry Teachers Club of New York Award for scholarship in chemistry, a certificate of merit from the Association of Teachers of Social Studies of NYC, and the Honorable Samuel A. Welcome Award for Excellence in Legal Studies.

Most importantly, the teachers at John Dewey High School, unafraid to show their own political predilections, encouraged me to develop my own political and intellectual interests, whether or not they agreed with the directions I was taking. Indeed, once I had discovered Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand, while enrolled in my Advanced Placement American History course, the libertarian trajectory of my politics was seeded, nourished, and challenged by my teachers. A greater gift from American educators I could never have received.

From what I understand, the school is more traditional today than it was in its inception, but I’ve retained friends among my former peers and faculty and will always have a depth of love for the high school that more than prepared me for a rigorous and rewarding undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral education at New York University.

Pete Alonso: HR Derby Champ Again!

I don’t care if you’re a Yankees fan (like me) or a Mets fan! Two cheers (for two consecutive wins) to the Mets’ Pete Alonso for winning the Home Run Derby again! Great show! And the kid’s got rhythm too (see below) —

Props to Italy in Euro 2020!

It’s like the Fourth of July again in these parts of Brooklyn! Congratulations to Italy for winning Euro 2020!