Monthly Archives: December 2022

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Song of the Day #1981

Song of the Day: The Christmas Tree [YouTube link], composed by David Rose, was recorded in 1959 and has been heard as a perennial favorite on the WPIX-TV Yule Log. It’s an annual broadcast that my sister and I so enjoyed. This is the first Christmas Day without my sister, who died on November 26, 2022. But not even this tragic loss can dull my embrace of this holiday, which she so loved, and which I will always love, for its message of Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward All. On January 1, 2023, I will begin posting two months—59 straight days—of terrific music that my sister knew I’d planned, celebrating one of the greatest franchises in the history of television in January and the magic of film scores in February. I want to wish a Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and a very happy and healthy New Year to all.

Song of the Day #1980

Song of the Day: The Christmas Waltz, words and music by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, was written for Frank Sinatra and recorded in 1954 as the B-side to his version of “White Christmas“. Check out Sinatra’s original recording as well as other renditions by Nancy Wilson, Mel Torme, the Brecker Brothers and Steve Kahn, Diane Reeves, and David Rose [YouTube links]. Don’t forget to track Santa on NORAD!

Song of the Day #1979

Song of the Day: Action Jackson and The Magical Disappearing Sock [YouTube link], composed and arranged by Tyler J. Mire, features my long-time friend and coeditor Roger Bissell on trombone. One thing you DON’T want before Christmas is a Magical Disappearing Sock (or Christmas Stocking, if you will). Where will Santa put all those treats, if you’re nice? Or coal, if you’re naughty? Check out this swinging track!

JARS Grand Finale Update!

I am happy to report that today I signed off with the Penn State University Press copyeditor on the final group of essays for the 2023 double-issue grand finale of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

The next update should come early in 2023, when I sign off on the first set of page proofs for what will be a truly blockbuster conclusion to our 23-year run. To say “I can’t wait” is an understatement! Then they’ll be the second set of corrected page proofs, and, possibly a third set… but ultimately, that issue is slated to be published on or before July 2023.

On a personal note, I’ve got a lot on my plate right now to say the least, and will have much to deal with for the foreseeable future. But I’m confident that even as I’m zigging and zagging emotionally … I continue to work productively and will ultimately flourish in a post-JARS era.

Song of the Day #1978

Song of the Day: Why Try To Change Me Now?, music and lyrics by Cy Coleman and Joseph A. McCarthy, was recorded by Frank Sinatra for his 1959 Gordon Jenkins-arranged and conducted album, “No One Cares“. The song was featured in Season 5, Episode 15 (“My Way”) of “The Good Doctor“, which first aired on April 18, 2022—a poignant story about Joan, an elderly if stubborn educator with an iron lung who is inspired to change her outlook on surgery when she hears a series of testimonials from her former students, whose lives have been changed for the better because of her. In the light of the recent passing of my sister, it’s an episode that resonated with me—as did this track. On this date in 1915, Ol’ Blue Eyes was born. This song is among the 1200+ songs he recorded in his lifetime (not counting multiple recordings of the same song). Check it out here [YouTube link].

Walter Grinder, RIP

October 12, 1938 – December 4, 2022

When I first saw posts circulating on Facebook that my friend, Walter Grinder, had died at the age of 84, my only thought was: “Oh, no.” We would sometimes share stories of our lifelong health woes, but Walter had sent out an update to his email list in late September indicating that he came “very close to dying a couple of weeks ago” only to “beat the Grim Reaper for the time being.” I had hoped he’d keep beating the odds moving forward despite his fragile state of health. Last weekend, however, he died, and so many people whose lives he touched have been expressing their condolences and genuine love for this gifted man.

For those who don’t know much about Walter, he was a graduate of Grove City College in Pennsylvania, who went on to study with Ludwig von Mises and Israel Kirzner at New York University. He taught economics at Rutgers University for a while, became the executive director of the Center for Libertarian Studies, and eventually the Vice President of the Institute for Humane Studies, which is where I was blessed to encounter him for the first time in the early 1980s.

Walter was a constant source of support, guidance, and advice for countless numbers of students in the areas of classical liberalism, Austrian economics, and the potential for a genuinely radical libertarian social analysis. Indeed, his seminal 1977 article, with his dear friend and colleague, John Hagel, “Toward a Theory of State Capitalism: Ultimate decision-making and Class Structure,” was one of the most important contributions to the development of a uniquely libertarian understanding of class dynamics.

A more powerful defender of human liberty we would be hard pressed to find. But he was also second to none in promoting the works of those whose lives he so deeply touched—mine included. To be honest, sometimes his effusive praise of my work would make me blush, but it never came without constructive, helpful criticism concerning this or that point, which needed further development. He was always a teacher.

But he was also always a friend. Our relationship deepened immeasurably over the years, and I would say that among the most poignant memories I have of him were our literally countless exchanges on music—from the blues and rock to jazz. Indeed, among our last notes to one another, back in August, Walter shared with me a wonderful 1956 album, “Pres and Teddy”, a sweet jazz union of tenor saxophonist Lester Young and pianist Teddy Wilson. Walter said: “Just sitting here taking in two of my favorite musicians, and I thought you might wish to join in. Are there any smoother musicians anywhere? Lester Young is the epitome of cool, and Teddy is always also cool and unobstrusive. Put them together and one gets some mighty fine listening, for sure. Enjoy!” So, I checked out that YouTube link—and within 5 minutes, responded: “Awww, Walter! Both are terrific! And I’m already listening along with you, my friend.” We listened together from afar, and I’m only sorry I was never able to make the trek out to see him and to listen to so much more together—but life has a way of complicating things.

I will miss this loving, caring, gentle man.


This post is not about me… but I needed to pause a moment to acknowledge something very personal. Since late October 2021, I have mourned the loss of Anne Conover Heller and Sharon Presley. I also heard about the passing of the all-too-young Jeff Friedman, with whom I had many differences, but with whom I also shared many happy times when we were both involved in Students for a Libertarian Society and in the earliest days of Critical Review, which published some of my first pieces critiquing ‘the crisis of libertarian dualism’. And of course, the death of my sister, Elizabeth “Ski” Sciabarra—not even two weeks ago—has been emotionally shattering in so many ways. I know that my heart has an almost infinite capacity to love; I’m not sure it has an infinite capacity to grieve. But I draw strength not only from the many memories I will always cherish of those who have departed—but from the dear friends and family who remain behind and who continue to give me so much love and support moving forward. And that is not a small consolation.

RIP, dear Walter. My very deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Postscript (10 December 2022): Check out Irfan Khawaja’s essay, “Three Passings, Three Losses“.

Postscript (14 January 2023): Check out John Hagel’s obituary at the Cato Institute.

Song of the Day #1977

Song of the Day: Don’t Stop features the music and lyrics of singer and keyboard player Christine McVie, who, along with Lindsey Buckingham, provides the vocals to this Fleetwood Mac song from their classic album “Rumours“. The album produced four Top Ten singles and spent 31 weeks at #1, becoming one of the best-selling albums in history, even winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Today, we have this rare event in the constellation of “My Favorite Songs”: This Song of the Day #1977 was actually released in 1977 and peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Yes, the song has been used for various political campaigns, including, most notably, the 1992 presidential bid of Bill Clinton. It has an upbeat message: “Yesterday’s gone” and tomorrow will “be better than before.” McVie died on November 30, 2022 at the age of 79. She left behind in her music so many tomorrows. Check it out here [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1976

Song of the Day: Blue Windows [YouTube link], written by Joseph Curiale, is a jazz-infused piece originally performed by Doc Severinsen—no surprise since Curiale worked on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as an arranger and composer from 1982 to 1992. This rendition by the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, features Severinsen on trumpet, and is conducted by Curiale.

Song of the Day #1975

Song of the Day: The Planets, Op. 32, IV: Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity, composed between 1914 and 1916 by Gustave Holst, is part of a seven-movement orchestral suite. Check out a wonderful recording by James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (below) as well as this recording of the full suite by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Andre Previn [YouTube links]. It’s my favorite of the seven integrated sections. I want to thank my dear friend Ryan Neugebauer for having introduced me to this, and so many more musical selections that will be featured in the coming months.

Song of the Day #1974

Song of the Day: Big Energy is credited not only to the team that gave us “Genius of Love” and to Mariah Carey (who recorded “Fantasy“, featured yesterday), but also to the singer who recorded it, Latto. Released in September 2021, it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop chart. Check out the original music video (below) and a remix version with Mariah and DJ Khaled [YouTube  links]. From “Genius of Love” to “Fantasy” to today’s song, we conclude another exercise in tracing the art of sampling.