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MARCH 2005

APRIL 2005

MAY 2005

APRIL 30, 2005

Congrats to Aeon Skoble

What started as a thread on a famous picture taken at the end of the Vietnam War has become a place to congratulate my pal Aeon Skoble for his promotion to Associate Professor. I added my "voice" to the "Congratulations Choir" here.

Comments welcome, but go to L&P and become part of the choir.

Posted by chris at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Posted to FYI

Song of the Day #248

Song of the DayPiece of My Heart, music and lyrics by Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy, was recorded by Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring the screaming vocals of Janis Joplin. Listen to an audio clip of this bluesy rock classic here.

Posted by chris at 09:43 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 29, 2005

Song of the Day #247

Song of the DayFootprints, music by jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, with lyrics added later by Donna Smith, has become a jazz staple. Listen to an audio clip of one of Shorter's recordings of this track here. In 1962's Downbeat magazine, Shorter polled second only to Duke Ellington (whose birthday is today) as a jazz composer. My favorite version of the song, however, remains one by another birthday boy: jazz guitarist, Carl Barry, from the album "Holding On." Listen to the full-length track here. Happy Birthday to my brother Carl!

Posted by chris at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 28, 2005

Spencer, Long, and a New Encyclopedia

In light of all the good discussion on Herbert Spencer that we've seen here and here on L&P, I wanted to share some good news.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to do an encyclopedia article on "Karl Marx" for the forthcoming International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology, to be published by Routledge. Amazingly, there was not a single entry offered for Herbert Spencer (who many view as one of the founders of sociology) or of any of the great classical liberals. I knew that Spencer had fallen out of favor with sociologists over the years, and that too many working in that discipline had a tendency to dismiss (wrongly, I might add) the work of classical liberals as somehow too "atomistic" and not worthy of the sociological imagination.

Whatever the reason, I was quite frankly shocked that nothing on Spencer, liberalism, or libertarianism had been scheduled for discussion in the encyclopedia. So, I asked the fine editor if he would be interested in one additional contribution from me: a general, broader piece on libertarianism, that is, on the relevance to sociology of theorists working in the classical liberal/libertarian tradition. The editor accepted my offer. And instead of writing a sole piece on Marx, I wrote two pieces.

The entry on libertarianism brought into the encyclopedia a discussion of the works of Herbert Spencer (to whom I devote much space, relatively speaking), Carl Menger, F. A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Ayn Rand, and others.

I've just been informed today that the encyclopedia is due out in October 2005; I'll be sure to note it here when the time comes.

Thus, this is my way of thanking Roderick Long doubly: not only for his continuing work on Spencer, but also for offering constructive commentary on my essays before they were submitted to Routledge.

Cross-posted to L&P.

Comments welcome, or readers may join the discussion at L&P (where Roderick leaves a comment here).

Posted by chris at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | Posted to Austrian Economics Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies

Do you bring William Graham Sumner into the discussion, or did he get a separate entry?

Posted by: James Leroy Wilson | April 28, 2005 10:38 PM

Unfortunately, I was unable to devote space to Sumner, and I don't think he has a separate entry. The entry I wrote was only 2000 words, so it was very hard to include everybody.

On a more positive note, I do mention Sumner in my book, TOTAL FREEDOM: TOWARD A DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 29, 2005 03:04 PM


Song of the Day #246

Song of the DayHush, music and lyrics by Joe South, was performed with hard rock gusto by Deep Purple. The song was originally performed by Billy Joe Royal (audio clip here), and has been recorded by others as well. But my favorite version remains the Deep Purple one: From the howling wolf opening to its organ-and-electric guitar-drenched instrumentation, this track percolates. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 09:43 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 27, 2005

Same-Sex Marriage and the 2004 Election

I've written ad nauseam about Election 2004, still of the conviction that the issue of same-sex marriage (and its connection to the broader issue of "moral values") had an important impact on the outcome. I have always believed "that other issues, especially the war, had an effect in shoring up Bush's winning coalition." Still, "the anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives were promoted by GOP strategists to bolster one aspect of the winning Bush coalition"; without "the socially conservative vote," which supported those initiatives, Bush could never have won such states as Ohioindispensable to his national electoral victory.

One recent analysis of the Presidential election comes to a similar though much more informed statistical conclusion. Gregory B. Lewis, in the April 2005 issue of PS: Political Science & Politics, concludes that the "same-sex marriage" issue "mattered ... less than some issues but more than most. ... At the state level, even after controlling for Bush's vote share in 2000 and the general conservatism of the state population, popular disapproval of homosexuality influenced Bush's share of the 2004 vote and may have contributed to party switches by New Hampshire and New Mexico." Lewis admits that "[t]he vote was close in Ohio despite relatively high disapproval of homosexuality." But the question remains: "Would it have turned out differently without same-sex marriage on the agenda?"

That question will inspire many different answers. But I think the evidence strongly suggests that without the support of socially conservative Protestant and Catholic voters, who came out en masse to vote against same-sex marriage, Bush would have lost to Kerry.

In the same issue of PS, even those with a dissenting view (such as Hillygus and Shields) argue that the "values-based appeals," though not the only crucial issue, served to reinforce Bush's appeal among his supporters. As I have argued for months, this was part of the Rove strategy: without that support among Bush's core constituency, Bush does not win re-election.

Whatever one's views on this subject, I think the implications are becoming clearer with each passing week. Social conservatives believe that the Bush administration owes them. Of greater importance is the apparent belief of the administration that social conservatives are owed.

Cross-posted to L&P. See L&P comments here and here.

Comments welcome on Notablog as well.

Posted by chris at 07:51 PM | Permalink | Posted to Culture Elections Sexuality


Say what you will about the President. He has a sense of humor, sometimes intentionally (as in this description of the scene after Bill Clinton's recent surgery: "When he woke up he was surrounded by his loved ones: Hillary, Chelsea and my Dad"), sometimes unintentionally.

Everybody is having a field day with that photo of George W. Bush holding the hand of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. (Talk about a fearless man date!) That, coupled with this comment by Bushwith regard to the annual Galveston, Texas gay beach party known as "Splash Day"has given me a good belly laugh this afternoon.

My pal Chip at Binary Circumstance is having a laugh too.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Frivolity Sexuality


While some of these so-called Bushisms (such as this one) appear to be genuine screw-ups by President Bush, it strikes me that quite a few of them are nowhere near as silly as they may at first appear. Take the following (often repeated in sections of the British media):

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Now, it's entirely possible that I'm just reading too much Tom Clancy, but wasn't Bush basically saying that they're trying to figure out how and where the terrorists might strike next? And from an Objectivist perspective (i.e. defence being one of the few legitimate government functions), isn't that exactly what he ought to be doing?

As for the latest incident, as I say above it probably is a genuine screw-up, but wouldn't it be even funnier if Bush knew exactly what he was saying? :-D


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 27, 2005 03:32 PM

I ~hope~ Dubya isn't ~that~ cunning. :)

Of course, sometimes the President screws up his sentence structure, even though his meaning is clear. But let's not forget that this President himself has learned to poke fun at his own ability to "mangle" the English language. See here, for example.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 27, 2005 04:00 PM

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Yes, it's clear what meaning he ~meant~ to convey, but it's also true that Bush virtually never does stop thinking about ways to harm the United States and our people. Of course, I'm sure he doesn't ~think~ he is harming the country, but he is, and how.

Posted by: Mark D. Fulwiler | April 27, 2005 06:05 PM

See also Fred Kaplan, "The Idealist in the Bluebonnets," Slate, April 26, 2005:

"Bush invited the Crown Prince to Crawford�the highest token of honor and friendship that this president bestows on foreign leaders�for one basic reason: to see if the royal family can do something to lower oil prices. It is doubtful, under the circumstances, that the president made a fuss over Saudi Arabia's execrable human-rights record or its snail's-pace crawl (if that) toward democracy."

Posted by: Jonathan Rick | April 27, 2005 09:03 PM


Song of the Day #245

Song of the DayCrazy, music and lyrics by Willie Nelson, was performed as a classic country song by the late, great Patsy Cline (listen to audio clip here). Nelson himself has recorded the song several times; listen to one audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 09:48 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 26, 2005

Song of the Day #244

Song of the DayHow's It Going to Be (audio clip and pop-up lyrics at that link) features the words and soulful vocals of Jennifer Ahmed, with music provided by the group Intransition. From the debut album, "Intransition," this infectious rock groove is aided by the guitar accompaniment of my pal Walter Foddis. "Keeping me tied down, locked in, making me crazy, with the tangled web you spin. ... Isolated, abbreviated, how's it going to be?"

Posted by chris at 06:15 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 25, 2005

Democracy and Saudi Arabia

I've had a lot to say about Saudi Arabia, and about the Bush administration's Adventures in Mideast Democracy.

Well, in Episode #2,345 of this Quixotic Political Saga, the Saudi royal family, which has been a trusted US "ally," "has been under pressure from Washington to engage in political reform at a time of social tension and a two-year campaign against the state by militants associated with al-Qaeda." Today, the news tells us:

Candidates on an alleged "golden list" backed by religious clerics have swept the final round of Saudi Arabia's first nationwide municipal elections. Islamist candidates won all the municipal council seats contested in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. They also fared well in northern towns as well as the comparatively liberal port of Jeddah, according to results released on Saturday. Women were barred from the polls, which were presented as a step towards more popular participation in public life.

Of course, the regime itself will pick "roughly half" of 1,200 councillors, which might "dilute" the power of Islamicists. Not that the Saudi regime is all that liberal by comparison. After all, this election news comes on the heels of another news story that the Saudis had detained 40 Pakistani Christians who were caught "attending a service in Riyadh" in a private home. The police also found (horrors!!) "Christian tapes and books." Since one cannot practice any religion other than Islam in Saudi Arabia, this is a crime, in case you were wondering.

I get exhausted pointing out the obvious. This is a regime that is allegedly a "friend" of the United States government. Let's put aside the prospects for democracy among "unfriendly" regimes. Of what use is procedural "democracy" when a "friendly" regime schools its citizens in a fanatical ideology of intolerance, when it marginalizes and criminalizes women, non-Muslims, and freedom itself? Of what use is "democracy" when the dominant culture would bring about a political condition that might make the current Saudi regime appear "moderate" by comparison?

Comments welcome, or readers may comment at L&P, where this has been cross-posted here.

Update: In addition to L&P comments on this post here and here, readers should check out Matthew Barganier's blog entry, "Saudi Democracy: A Little Realism, Please." Matthew makes some excellent points in that post. I agree that the US presence in Saudi Arabia might have made that country a tad less illiberal, and I also agree that the US-House of Sa'ud relationship has been a focal attack point for fanatical Islamic fundamentalists. In many respects, however, the US presence has been a model of neocorporatist intervention, a symbol of everything that is wrong with US foreign policy, as I point out here, for example.

Posted by chris at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | Posted to Culture Foreign Policy Religion


Yes, I've been saying this also: and I've even coined a phrase for the administrations philosophy of social change (you might like my touch).

Posted by: Jason Pappas | April 25, 2005 11:53 AM

Hey, Jason, thanks for your comment, and a good post at Liberty & Culture. I wanted to leave a comment there---but was confused: It kept asking if I had an account.

Anyway, you ask: "Why are our conservative friends acting like utopian leftists of years past?"

Alas, as you know, a portion of that conservative establishment has internalized that utopianism. There is a very real Trotskyite and social-democratic ideological lineage at work among a portion of neoconservative intellectuals, which therefore encapsulates the same problematic utopianism on the left.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 25, 2005 12:10 PM

Chris, there is little doubt that if ~most~ majority Islamic countries had free and fair elections the hard-line theocrats would win easily.

I suppose the only bright spot is that the holy Quran does place ~some~ limits on governmental power even in Saudi Arabia. All out socialism is against Islam.

Posted by: Mark D. Fulwiler | April 25, 2005 01:36 PM

Not the Trots! Could some of our best friends be � Internationalist Conservatives? It gets even more worrisome. I wrote about how certain conservatives are ready to accept the advent of Islamic theocracy in multi-cultural terms: we can�t define democracy for another people! Yikes! Who needs relativistic leftists when you have conservatives like these? Of course, I think in their hearts they hope for a liberal democracy and spin to the contrary, given the outcome, will reflect face-saving as they scale back their ambitions.

PS, Mark, I take exception with your assessment of Islam, I don�t see any basis for individualism in this collectivist religious supremacist ideology. But that�s a whole new thread that best left to another venue.

Posted by: Jason Pappas | April 25, 2005 02:53 PM

Saudi should be a democrcay. Under monarchy it caused terroriosts and caused teh war in sudan and algeria dn yemen, it is a disaster, we shoul;d condemn it as much aas we condemn castro as it arrests mor epople, for politics,

Posted by: jim marshmallow | May 7, 2005 08:18 AM

why on earth when peopel talk about bringing in democracy in teh middle east, do people, claim saudi arabia is teh only regime we shoudl not topple, it is teh only regime we should topple, they caused Bin Laden, indeed in bin laden's family are best freinds with their royal family, and still in the early 90s, bin laden was an ally of teh king, they also caused teh civil war in dsudan by installing shaaria on a christian and animists and partly secular muslim, land, and by installing hjard line isalimaists there, by tehri aid, and funded algeri'as terrortss before thy staretd tehri civil war, teh saudi regime, is a hugfe threat to teh world, i read in 19997, it arrestyed 7000 maids who had ran away from their owners and returned them to them, it floggs people for critisising teh regime, it bans women from driving, it bans people from loads, it floggs homosexuals, come on, it is an islamist regime, teh only difference is that it is a very corrupt, and unpopular type, at least if it was liek iran, it would not have caused bin laden, and also look at iran, when its funds suicide bombers in isarel, peopel say what a disgarce, when the saudi regiem does, prince charels, and georeg bush go and have a nice talk with them, if gadaffi had doen anything like this, we would be going mad, abut as it is a king, who gicves corrupt cash to political parties, and foundatiosn we pretened their flogging of critics is perfectly ok, even tehri hangings of theri liberals, and support for terrorims,

Posted by: dinoso | May 11, 2005 07:01 AM


Song of the Day #243

Song of the DayElectric Storm is an electric guitar extravaganza, composed and performed by Sean Mercer, who just so happens to be hubby to my pal, Ilana. It's the scintillating title track to a fierce album of neoclassical-rock fusion. Listen to an all-too-brief audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 12:08 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 24, 2005

Song of the Day #242

Song of the DayThe Sorrows of Young Apollo, music and lyrics by Karen Michalson and Bill Michalson, is performed by Point of Ares. My dear friend Karen provides the vocals for this post-prog title track, the beginning of a hard-edged rock odyssey into the mythic and the pagan. Check out this concept album here.

Posted by chris at 09:54 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 23, 2005

Song of the Day #241

Song of the DayIsrael is a minor blues composition by John Carisi, a standard of the jazz repertoire made famous by such jazz luminaries as Miles Davis, on the classic album "Birth of the Cool" (audio clip at that link), and the incomparable Bill Evans, who recorded it many times. Listen to a full audio clip of one of Evans' renditions, featuring bassist Chuck Israels, and the late drummer Larry Bunker. Another Evans audio clip can be heard here. To my knowledge, the title has nothing to do with the holiday, but I wish a healthy Passover to all my Jewish friends!

Posted by chris at 12:08 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 22, 2005

Song of the Day #240

Song of the DayA Night to Remember, music and lyrics by Dana MeyersCharmaine Sylvers, and Nidra Beard, was performed endearingly by the R&B/dance group Shalamar. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 12:08 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 21, 2005

Song of the Day #239

Song of the DayFour on Six is one of those "incredible jazz guitar" tracks composed and performed by the outstanding Wes Montgomery. A lyric was added later by Donna SmithWes recorded this a number of times; check out the audio clips on "The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery" or my absolute favorite rendition, performed live with the Wynton Kelly Trio: Smokin' at the Half Note. (The Half Note is now closed but it was a premier jazz spot in NYC; Carl and Joanne Barry, my brother and sister-in-law, appeared in the club too, opposite James Moody.) Wes's solo on this version is indeed smokin': a soaring, swinging, lyrical, deeply artistic statement.

Posted by chris at 07:28 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 20, 2005

Welcome to the New Pope!

My pals Timur (Technomagnet) and Aeon Skoble (at L&P) offer some thoughts on the new Pope, to which I offer comments. At L&P, I write:

Good points.

But as my pal Timur says, the new pope "package deals" the bout against relativism and the bout against egoism. He's quoted as saying: "We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism, which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value ones own ego and ones own desires." And the Pope's biographer observes: "Having seen fascism in action, Ratzinger today believes that the best antidote to political totalitarianism is ecclesiastical totalitarianism."

The conventional anti-egoism and the positing of any kind of totalitarianism as an antidote to relativism ... gets me nervous.

But nothing gets on my nerves more than this proclamation: that rock 'n' roll is "evil" and full of "diabolical and satanic messages." According to the NY DAILY NEWS: "[H]e singled out the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and the Eagles as especially evil."

Comments welcome, but readers should feel free to post to the other blogs as well.

Update: This post has been noted by Liberty & Culture and Blank Out Times too. Thanks!

Posted by chris at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (16) | Posted to Culture


The package-deal-ing of secularism and egoism with ethical relativism is just the kind of smear that our friends in the conservative media will fully endorse, even as they ignore (and suppress) any alternative view of "the secular."

No, the new Pope will soon lecture us on the need for mysticism-altruism-collectivism, and attack capitalism--this is inevitable and merely a question of time. And American conservatives will still be carrying his Holy Water...

And, if the new Pope is REALLY a student of Lord Acton and James Madison, as is being claimed, then just think about how much of John Paul's legacy he will have to shred.

Will the Church now chuck Papal Infallibility, and then proceed to a vigorous defense of free minds and free markets?

Somehow, I doubt this...

This is "hope without substance"--i.e., pure faith.

Oh, yeah, "Welcome, Pope Benedict XVI."

Posted by: Jim Valliant | April 20, 2005 02:12 PM

Hmm, I doubt Pope Benedict XVI is going to have anything like as much cultural impact as JPII did. As for his political views, I share Jim's scepticism, but I guess we should wait and see.


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 20, 2005 02:39 PM

What is this, 1955? Who is going to take this guy seriously? Oh yeah...millions around the globe.

Posted by: Objectivist Mafia | April 20, 2005 02:48 PM

Thanks for the comments, folks.

The one thing that does concern me, at least from an ideological perspective, is this: Just as some of the "evangelical" Protestant churches in America are moving toward "fundamentalism" in religious expression, this Pope embraces an analogous "fundamentalism" in Catholic doctrine. This has a political side to it as well, since more conservative Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants both voted predominantly for George W. Bush. It is the kind of trend that I noted in a series of articles on the political impact of religion; see here for example:

The new Pope said in his homily, earlier this week: "Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church is often labeled today as fundamentalism ..." --- and it is his goal to enunciate, apply, and promote that "clear faith."

While so many people are "lapsed" Catholics, and only peripherally religious, it is also the case that various shades of "fundamentalism" are being promoted by many different religious denominations--from the Protestant to the Catholic to the Muslim--at this point in time. And it is having a growing political impact.

Surely much of this is a response to the bottomless relativism that the left pushed for a generation. But this swinging of the pendulum from one form of irrationality to another does give one pause, to say the least.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 20, 2005 03:42 PM

And let me add that what the Pope espouses is pure relativism itself because each person must have faith in the pope's conception of metaphysics. Since there is no reason to believe it, it is up to each person to choose whether they want to believe it or not and they should do so based on their particular desires (e.g. whether they want to be saved, which imaginary friend they prefer, etc.)

Posted by: Technomaget | April 20, 2005 03:53 PM

BTW, you might want to check out a few posts on the Pope at LOR:

Just scroll down as you go...

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 20, 2005 04:03 PM

Obviously, the Pope is going to be a Catholic Pope. He is not going to be an Objectivist Pope nor should we expect a conversion on his part. We�ll obviously continuously disagree with his message as we did with JPII.

However, like JPII, he can play an important role in world politics for the better. JPII had to contend with the threat of communism; Benedict has to face the threat of Islam. What can he do to help here? See here: (4/20/05 entry)

Posted by: Jason Pappas | April 21, 2005 10:09 AM

I don't think the Pope is part of the solution, he is part of the problem and the longer we keep our philosophy or point of view implicit the more the status quo will continue. We need to explicitly state what we stand for and not side with the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: Technomaget | April 21, 2005 10:51 AM

That's an interesting read, Jason. And, of course, it's a pipe dream to think that the leader of the Catholic Church would be anything less than Catholic.

What concerns me is this. I've read quite a bit about this Pope's rhetorical past (for a brief synopsis, see this NY DAILY NEWS article: ). In the past, Ratzinger has been a cheerleader for Catholicism such that he "dismissed non-Christian faiths as 'gravely deficient' and branded Protestant churches 'not churches in the proper sense.'" He went so far as to scold Catholic bishops for "referring to the Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant churches as 'sister churches'."

Now, apparently, he's wanting to be more "ecumenical" to work toward greater religious unity, and toward "rejuvenating the Catholic church in a Europe growing more secular by the day." Vatican expert Rocco Palmo states: "His great goal is to alleviate Western secularism and that's not something Catholics can do alone."

So, on the one hand, it seems he wants to be more "ecumenical," which would seemingly require him to "reach out" to alternative faiths so as not to appear belligerent; such "unity" would help in the battle against "Western secularism." On the other hand, if he lives up to his billing as one who is divisive, he'd be warring against secularism ~and~ other faiths.

Either way, in other words, I'm not very hopeful---but that doesn't mean that any of this is an inevitability. Popes have been known to be shrewd politicians and to that extent, anything is possible---even something "good," even if it's not for the "right" reasons.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 21, 2005 11:14 AM

I�ve read conflicting reports of the Pope�s previous writings. Including this one: where Michael Novak believes the Pope distinguishes between dogmatism and absolutism, relativism and plurality, rational objective secularism and post-modern secularism. Wouldn�t that be something? Thus, we�ll have to wait to see to what degree his attacks on �relativism� is an attack on individualism or an attack on subjectivism.

It will also be interest to see how he talks about being ecumenical. Of course, ecumenicalism is just multi-cultural relativism in religious matters (Technomaget says something similar). I�ve always found it odd. Growing up as a child in NYC, I�d watch how parents would explain how your religion applies to you but not to your neighbor (they have a different religion). Odd, but welcomed.

Posted by: Jason Pappas | April 21, 2005 12:11 PM

Chalk one up to the concept of 'anything is possib;e' -lol-

Not only do I agree with Chris, but his argument about the new Pope is 'understated'! Forget all the crap about the Pope taking bishops to task about being overly friendly to Protestants. That's reseved for the 'liberal' Protestants like the Episcoplians. Trust me, when it comes to Baptist and Pentacostals - the Pope has found strange - but loyal 'bedfellows'.

Anytime you see the most extremist fundementalist fringe of evangelicals, applaud and defend a 'Catholic Pope', look out brother - cause hell just froze over!


Posted by: George Cordero | April 21, 2005 04:14 PM

Well, one area where the Pope may cross swords with the Protestant religious right is on the issue of American foreign policy and "just war" theory. John Paul 2 was a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, a view which is shared by Benedict. In fact, Cardinal Ratzinger picked the name Benedict because the last Pope Benedict was a critic of World War 1 and tried desperately to stop it.

Leaving aside the ridiculous Catholic metaphysics, Benedict seems like a very well educated and cultered person, and certainly was a logical choice from the point of view of the Cardinals, who are apparantly satisfied with the status quo. However, bear in mind that the last old "transitional" Pope was John, and we all know what he did.

Posted by: Mark D. Fulwiler | April 22, 2005 07:12 PM

Isn't Catholicism fascinating? We all sit up and take notice at the ideas and inclinations of a new Pope, as we properly should. We secularists in the Anglo-American world have perhaps been inclined to think that the influence of the church was declining. But as many commentators have mentioned, in the developing world it's positively growing.

Catholics are interesting people. Here in the Philippines, there was much mourning at the death of JP2. I saw Filipinos outside TV shops watching as every set inside showed images of the Pope's funeral -- the kind of thing that we think of in the West when people mention the day Kennedy was shot. The Pope for them was and is a much esteemed figure. In this country where taxi drivers hang crosses from their mirrors and cross themselves whenever they pass a church, and buses are inevitably inscribed with phrases like "God Bless Our Voyage", you can bet that the new man in Rome is going to be important.

And the reality is that if improvement is going to happen in developing countries like this, with their chronic poverty and political corruption, it's the church that is going to have to lead the way. For all my criticisms of catholicism, I think we've got to realise that the church isn't going away. And so, ultimately, it's not us libertarians who are going to make the change in countries like this. It's going to be the church. Guess that means we'd better hope this conservative Pope surprises us by liberalising the church and its doctrines a bit (kind of like Nixon going to China?). But that doesn't look at all likely. Perhaps the best we can do is hang in there, hope that this Pope *is* just "transitional" and wait for someone better the next time.

Posted by: Cameron Pritchard | April 24, 2005 03:02 AM

Thanks gents, for the additional comments. It is entirely questionable what direction this particular Pope will take the Church, but I agree completely that the Catholic Church specifically (and religion more generally) remains a formidable force throughout the world.

If secularists are waiting for every last vestige of religious belief to leave Planet Earth as a precondition for social change, they are living in a fantasy world. That's one of the reasons this remains a cultural battle, not only between secularism and religion, but within religion itself. The new Pope's role in all this should be fascinating to watch.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 24, 2005 09:15 AM

Our news channels in the UK gave Bandict XVI's enthornement blanket coverage earlier today. I can't help but wonder though how much wider cultural infuence the Vatican will continue to have.

John Paul II came to the Papcy relatively young, so was able to "globetrot" around the world and to an extent build up significant personal respect outside Catholicism. I'm not sure to what extent that's going to be the case with Benedict XVI, by all accounts he himself expects this to be a much shorter Papacy than JPIIs. I doubt that his death will bring about anywhere near as much mourning as JPII has. (Of course, that's not to say of course that the Catholic church's influence in the third world will immediately collapse or anything like that.)


Posted by: MatthewHumphreys | April 24, 2005 11:24 AM

Well, I certainly think that Catholics can be brought around to a more classical liberal position without converting them to atheism. Recent popes have been very confused about economics, but JP2 did have some encouraging words to say in favor of the free market. Like it or not, the Pope is an influential person and it does no good to just dismiss him with insults.

I don't believe that god exists, but how do atheists compete against a belief system that promises immortality and eternal happiness? It may be impossible. How can anyone look forward to the eventual disintegration of their body and eternal non-existence? I sure can't.

Posted by: Mark D. Fulwiler | April 24, 2005 07:59 PM


Welcome to the Blogosphere!

Two regular readers of Notablog have launched their own blogs, at which I've left comments as well. Welcome to the Blogosphere to Technomaget and Matthew Humphreys. I left a comment for each here and here.

Posted by chris at 11:43 AM | Permalink | Posted to FYI

Song of the Day #238

Song of the DaySomeone to Watch Over Me, music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, respectively, was written for the Broadway musical, "Oh, Kay!" One of my favorite renditions of this great American standard is by Barbra Streisand from her album "My Name is Barbra." Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 19, 2005

New Rozsa CD

A new hybrid SACD recording of three choral suites for "Ben-Hur," "Quo Vadis," and "King of Kings" will be released at the end of April by Telarc. See here. I hope to post a review once I've had the opportunity to pick up the CD and listen to it.

The release is discussed at the Miklos Rozsa Society Forum as well (where I asked a technical question here, with follow-up here). There's also another one of those "artistic integrity" threads at that forum, started by moi, here. I have some follow-up thereafter, which also continues here.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | Posted to Music


You need to ask my brother about these things. He just sent me the same link about this and he is quite familiar with the latest audio and video standards.

Posted by: Timur | April 19, 2005 05:00 PM

Hey, Timur... Stan actually sent me a link to it at the same time that the Miklos Rozsa Society forum was discussing it.

Stan tells me that the SACD is a hybrid, and it should be playable on a standard CD player too. Either way, can't wait to hear it! The audio clips are terrific.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 19, 2005 05:02 PM


Song of the Day #237

Song of the DayHow Insensitive (Insensatez), music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, English lyrics by Norman Gimbel, boasts a title that is in total contradiction to the sensitivity of this bittersweet song, performed by artists from Sinatra to Sting (audio clips at those links).

Posted by chris at 08:00 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 18, 2005

Mandate for a Man Date

Last weekend, I read a perplexing piece in the New York Times about how straight guys seem to be so insecure when they go out to dinner or to a movie together. The piece, "The Man Date," written by Jennifer 8. Lee, was amusing only because it struck me as such a caricature. I had even thought about blogging on the topic, but just couldn't believe that American straight men were typically twisting themselves into pretzels just to share a bottle of wine over dinner. I mean: This is the 21st century. What gives?

Well, apparently, most of the readers of the "Sunday Styles" section ask the same question. Take a look at a series of interesting letters, starting here.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | Posted to Culture Sexuality


If the men were anticipating meeting available, straight women at the function, then separating--even being concerned with how they might just appear to such women--seems a perfectly valid concern. However, neither man reported this or seems to have anticipated this. For all we know, they may have both been in secure relationships.

This is where pure 'social metaphysics' has kicked in: both men knew that they were straight--both knew it of the other--and, without any concern about getting future dates for themselves, they are still obsessed with how OTHERS will perceive them, with the implicit idea that it would be "bad" to be seen as being gay--even by total strangers!!

This is very sad as it appears to have limited the scope of their male-male friendships, a real value.

Posted by: Jim Valliant | April 18, 2005 03:12 PM

Agreed, Jim.

I think that a few of the letters give voice to the issue of being secure in one's sexuality: People who are self-secure and who think in a "first-handed" manner won't give "a second thought" to what others might think. For the less-than-secure, just trying to figure out "what others might think" is something that can become a full-time preoccupation!

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 18, 2005 07:33 PM

I recently had occasion to get together with a bunch of dear old mates, most of whom I hadn't seen in at least twenty years. The occasion was the reunion of a heavy-metal band that we all knew or worked for back in the day: road brothers. Right in front of everyone in the place (mostly youngsters), as I laid eyes on my friends one by one, I would walk up and shake a hand that invariably closed to embrace, and I kissed them on the cheek, usually with a whisper in the ear (the place was loud) of something like, "It's bloody good to see you, man."

Know what? There are guys in this circle who aren't here any more. Dead guys.

Here's the thing:

I miss those guys, and I determined to let all the survivors know just exactly how I feel about them while I still can. And; not a homosexual in the crowd, I could tell that this was unusual behavior to them, but not one of them flinched, and I'm certain that they each understood me.

I'm pretty sure I'm hanging with the right crowd, although it has never occurred to me to wonder about it in the terms in which the NYT article is couched.

It strikes me as really sad to live like that.

Posted by: Billy Beck | April 18, 2005 08:05 PM

Chris, as many blog-comments (as well as the NYT letters) show, this seems to be a case of a Style Section "reporter" making up a story. Maybe, just maybe, at the Olive Garden in Des Moines or wherever, there are some straight single guys obsessing over this, but in NYC? Please. Straight single guys in NYC do this all the time, and twas ever thus. When I was a younger man it was known as "hanging out with your friends," but no one from the NYT ever thought it was interesting, and for good reason.

Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | April 19, 2005 04:05 PM

Billy, Aeon... your experiences fully confirm my own and those of people (straight and gay) that I know, especially here in New York (as Aeon suggests).

And let me add: If you live in Brooklyn, especially among all the Southern Mediterranean immigrants and their children and their children's children (read: Italian, Greek, etc.)... this story makes ~no~ sense at all.

Guys around here go to dinner with one another; they greet each other with hugs, and kisses, and when they go out to a dance club, it's not unusual to find a group of guys dancing together. We're not talking "Dirty Dancing"---just hanging out and having fun in a club, especially if you happen to be single and just love to "boogie."

I hope you'll indulge me one UN-PC moment. This is a long-running joke (or "jab," as the case may be) meant to poke fun at the many manifestations of physical affection shown among "paisans" in Brooklyn:

Q: "In Brooklyn, what separates a straight Italian guy from a gay Italian guy?"

A: "Two drinks."


In any event, that's why I read this piece and was so utterly perplexed.

Are there people who are insecure? Sure. And that insecurity manifests itself among people of different sexual orientations. But so much of this is culturally influenced, and the article seems to obscure that dimension completely.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 19, 2005 04:24 PM

Not only that, Chris, but I also think that it's just false that there's a real "trend" here. My take is that there just isn't that much insecurity about this, not in NYC anyway. That's why that episode of Seinfeld where the reporter thinks George and Jerry are gay (not that there's anything wrong with that!) is so funny.

Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | April 19, 2005 04:30 PM


And Seinfeld made a real laugher out of so many similar situations: from "The Note" ("it moved" ) to that classic one you allude to (I even stole that line you mention for my monograph on "Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation").

So, Aeon: Are we just a bunch of elitist New Yorkers talking, who could not care less about all this? :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 19, 2005 04:37 PM

We may well be jaded New Yorkers, but surely some large percentage of the NYT's Style Section readers are also. What constitutes "slow news day" at the Style Section? Gimme a break.

Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | April 19, 2005 04:44 PM

I'm not from NY, but speaking as a heterosexual male I have no problem whatsoever eating out with and/or hugging friends of *either* sex. Sometimes though, THEY seem a little uncomfortable with the latter. Some have even asked me if I'm bi. Maybe I should move across the pond :-)


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 19, 2005 08:00 PM

I would comment on this myself but I see that there are men in the room. However, the "making up a story" angle sounds promising.

Posted by: David M. Brown | April 22, 2005 01:22 AM


Song of the Day #236

Song of the DayDesafinadomusic by Antonio Carlos Jobim, lyrics by Newton Mendoca, made a huge impact when it was introduced to American audiences by tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd on their album "Jazz Samba" (audio clip at that link). There's also a memorable vocal rendition by Joao Gilberto on the "Getz/Gilberto" album (audio clip at that link). The song is also featured on the soundtrack to the 2003 film, "Goldfish Memory." Listen to an audio clip of that version here, sung by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan. Finally, here is an audio clip of this lovely bossa nova, played on piano by Jobim himself.

Posted by chris at 12:10 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 17, 2005

The Dialectics of Baseball

Some people, who admit to their own obsessions, have noted my obsession with baseball, and have wondered when I'm going to explain the sport's "dialectical significance," along with its "singular place in the fabric of liberty and of our nations cultural life."

Well. With the Baltimore Orioles sweeping my last place New York Yankees in a three-game set, I'm not feeling very baseball-friendly right now. Ah, the season is early... though I think owner George Steinbrenner has probably just set a record for the earliest moment in the season to express his disgust with his multimillion dollar ball club.

So. The only dialectical insight I have right now is that there is an internal relationship between Steinbrenner's disgust and the Yankee losing record, and that winning is the yin to the losing of yang.

We'll get 'em tomorrow.

Comments welcome. But Yankee haters... BEWARE.

This post is noted at Not PC too (with a suitably triadic title: Baseball v. Rugby v. AFL).

Posted by chris at 04:59 PM | Permalink | Posted to Dialectics Sports

Song of the Day #235

Song of the DayAin't No Mountain High Enough, words and music by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, has been performed by many artists, including Diana Ross (audio clip at that link), Michael McDonald (audio clip at that link), and classic disco versions by Boystown Gang (in a medley with "Remember Me") and by Inner Life, with vocalist Jocelyn Brown (listen to audio clip here). My favorite version remains the Marvin Gaye-Tammi Terrell duet. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 16, 2005

JARS Plugs

I noticed that David M. Brown (at the LFB.COM Blog) has a few things to say about the current issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Check out "Rand Among the Austrians" and "Boettke on the Economics of Atlas Shrugged."

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Posted to Austrian Economics Rand Studies

Song of the Day #234

Song of the DayLet's Get Serious features the music and lyrics of Lee Garrett and Stevie Wonder, who does background vocals on Jermaine Jackson's recording of this song. This danceable and funky R&B jam is the title track of Jermaine's solo album; an audio clip is featured on The Jackson's Story.

Posted by chris at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 15, 2005

Song of the Day #233

Song of the DayPurple Haze, music, lyrics, and scalding performance by rock guitar legend Jimi Hendrix. It still makes me chuckle, though, when I hear the words "'scuse me, while I kiss the sky." For years, I, and quite a few other people, thought it was: "'scuse me while I kiss this guy." That is also the title of Gavin Edwards' book on "misheard lyrics." Listen to an audio clip that features that very phrase, from the classic album, "Are You Experienced?"

Posted by chris at 12:34 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 14, 2005

American Idol Under Assault

Stephen Holden says some accurate things about "American Idol" in his review of Barbara Cook's show at the Cafe Carlyle. But some of it is a bit over the top.

I mention this in response to Aeon Skoble's self-outing at L&P as an "AI" viewer: "Problems with Democracy."

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | Posted to Film / TV / Theater Review Music


You're exactly right Chris -- I have elaborated a bit in the commments thread following the post you mention above. Perhaps the readers here can join the discussion there.

Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | April 15, 2005 09:47 AM

Hey, Aeon, thanks for the comment here. I left a comment on L&P in response to some of the discussion there. Readers should check that discussion out; here's what I had to say:

Jonathan is, of course, correct, that much (not all) of pop music has had these qualities (and it does depend on what era of American pop music we're talking about). And Holden was indeed hyperbolic, as Aeon says. I can't help but feel however that ~sometimes~ there is an inherent bias against pop music coming from some of today's critics. Let me state at the outset that I am ~second to none~ in my appreciation of the Great American Songbook, as even a cursory look at the listing of My Favorite Songs (more aptly described as "My Favorite Music") attests.

So let's take that particular show that Holden found so offensive: the utter mangling of many of the songs of that Great American Songbook in a Broadway-focused installment of "American Idol." On the one hand, the judges criticize some of the performers who don't make the final cut that their voices are too "Broadway" and on the other hand, they pull out all the stops for a Broadway-themed installment. It doesn't make sense, and many of these singers are just not trained in the idiom of American standards (which are, for the most part, very melodically and harmonically demanding when compared to most, though by no means all, of the pop songs of today). And their lack of training for singing in this idiom shows up. I recall hearing Linda Ronstadt, one very pop-hit friendly singer, attest to the fact that her own forays into American standards with Nelson Riddle first made her aware of what she needed to do to become a better singer than she was. Her breath control and her vocal abilities were tested and expanded from these series of recordings.

But as bad as some of the performances were on that particular show of "American Idol," why get so indignant? At least these songs were suddenly being heard again in primetime on one of the hottest shows in American television. Not every arrangement was stellar, but some were interesting and well done (the studio musicians in the house band are quite good), and kids were being introduced to something entirely different for a change. And it's not the first time standards have shown up on this show; I remember last year how Fantasia (the 2004 competition winner) did a rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime" and Legrand's "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?"---bringing down the house in both instances. (And this year, Anwar started his run with Mancini's "Moon River.")

With one breath, the critics are upset that nobody pays attention to the classics, and then, when they do pay attention to them, they get upset because they'd rather they didn't.

BTW, Matthew, in former AI installments, each judge was allowed to pick one previously removed contestant to join the final group, probably for the same reason: they sense the problems with the selection process.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 16, 2005 09:41 AM


Song of the Day #232

Song of the DayThere Will Never Be Another You, music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon, has been performed as a ballad and a swing tune by innumerable artists. So many to choose from: Listen to an "after hours" audio clip by pianist Andre Previn, guitarist Joe Pass, and bassist Ray Brown, a classic Art Tatum piano version, a straight-ahead Bud Powell piano interpretation, a sweet Stephane Grappelli violin version, a Stan Getz saxophone version, a Chet Baker trumpet rendition, and a lovely vocal version by Nat King Cole.

Posted by chris at 08:41 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 13, 2005

Movie Music: Perlman and the New York Philharmonic

With all this discussion here and here over the quality of "crossover" artists, such as the great composer Miklos Rozsa, who wrote both for the concert stage and the cinema, nothing could have been more timely than going to a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center last night. Yes, occasionally, I actually get out!

The concert was billed as "Music from the Movies: An Evening of American Cinematic Musical Magic," and it featured the great New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, whose parents and uncle, he explained, had early experiences in the field of Hollywood music-making. The great violinist Itzhak Perlman joined the orchestra as the featured soloist on several compositions. (A copy of the program is offered here in PDF format.)

Comments welcome.

The concert opened, appropriately, with the famous Alfred Newman-penned fanfare for 20th Century Fox. It sent a ripple through the packed house, serving notice that we were here for a night of both art and entertainment. Slatkin then led the orchestra into a bold, majestic take on the magnificent overture to El Cid, composed by Miklos Rozsa. Having never heard anything from El Cid performed by a live orchestra (one of my favorite film scores), I was immediately hooked.

Slatkin paused after the Rozsa piece to welcome the audience; he provided lots of interesting little tidbits about the compositions to be performed. He told us that this was not music from "film." It was not music from the "cinema." This was "Movie Music," he announced boldly. And, to a certain extent, he was actually quite correct. The concert did not focus on the more expansive, industrious, or full-bodied twists, turns, and intricacies of film scoring. But it did present some of the most melodic, most memorable movie themes. (Of course, I am only sorry that the concert did not last for several hours: I would have loved to have heard selections from Rozsa's Ben-Hur or Jarre's Lawrence of Arabia, or anything by Bernard Herrmann, for example.)

The Philharmonic then turned to Alex North's "Love Theme from Spartacus," which, even though it conjures up images of Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons, stands alone as one of the most delicate, romantic compositions I've ever heard.

A John Williams-arranged orchestral version of Charles Chaplin's "Smile" (from Modern Times) followed, as Itzhak Perlman joined the Philharmonic on stage. Perlman worked through Alfred Newman's "Cathy's Theme" from Wuthering Heights, Max Steiner's Now Voyager theme, and Erich Korngold's love theme from The Adventures of Robin Hood, all in a heartfelt tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood. I could see older couples familiar with these films from the '30s and '40s grasping one another's hands, transported into the romantic moments these compositions encapsulated on the screen.

The first act concluded with a rousing tribute to one of the grand Maestros of the Philharmonic: Leonard Bernstein (pronounced "stine," as in "Einstein," Bernstein reportedly once said, or so Slatkin reminded usin contrast to the pronunciation of the "steen" in Elmer Bernstein's name). Slatkin told us that Bernstein was none too pleased with his experiences in Hollywood and his soundtrack for On the Waterfront was his only bona fide film score (though his theatrical scores were used in film adaptations, such as On the Town and West Side Story). Bernstein's "Symphonic Suite" from On the Waterfront offered us a bit more of the complexities to be found in film scoring. It also provided a few hints of that classic "New York" sound that might be found in a later composition of his, "Something's Coming," from West Side Story.

The second act opened with a tribute to great American film composers who died over the past 16 months. Elmer Bernstein's rousing theme from The Magnificent Seven and Michael Kamen's charming "Scherzo from An American Symphony" from Mr. Holland's Opus were followed by an utterly mesmerizing orchestral treatment of David Raksin's theme from Laura. This section closed with a terrific performance of the main title from Patton, composed by the late, great Jerry Goldsmith.

Itzhak Perlman joined the orchestra once again for another set of selections. The ever-lovely main theme from Out of Africa, by John Barry, ended on a surprise note, as Slatkin introduced the composer, who sat a few rows to my left. Barry stood to applause, and gave his "thumbs up" to the musicians for this tribute. John Williams' sensitive theme from Far and Away followed. Perlman's delivery of the theme from Schindler's List was shattering. Having recorded this composition for the film's soundtrack and having performed it live on the 2000 Academy Awards' television broadcast, Perlman's performance here was nothing less than brilliant. He followed it with the "Tango (Por una Cabeza)" from Scent of a Woman, and gave us an encore too: the Morricone-penned theme from Cinema Paradiso. Perlman's contributions were met with a much-deserved standing ovation.

Slatkin concluded the night with Howard Shore's soaring "Symphonic Suite" from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which featured the vocals of young boy soprano James Danner. Violating a rule of entertainmentnot to follow the performance of a childas Slatkin declared, he came back for an encore to conduct the orchestra in a tribute to the "March King," as he put it. "No, not that one," he joked, but the "March King" for the last 35 years: John Williams. The audience erupted as the orchestra blared the "Imperial March" (also known as "Darth Vader's Theme") from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

After all my recent discussions over film scores as "derivative" and "culture lite," I can only say: Nuts to the naysayers. This was one terrifically entertaining and moving night of music.

Also noted at The Rozsa Forum.

Posted by chris at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

Song of the Day #231

Song of the DayI Have Nothing, words and music by David Foster and Linda Thompson, was an Oscar-nominated song performed powerfully by a full-voiced Whitney Houston in the 1992 film, "The Bodyguard." Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 12, 2005

Song of the Day #230

Song of the DayAll I Ask of You, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, is from the musical, "Phantom of the Opera" (listen to the audio clip at that link). It is featured in the 2004 film as well (audio clip here). My favorite version of this melodic, romantic song is by Barbra Streisand (listen to the audio clip at that link).

Posted by chris at 06:57 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 11, 2005

To What Extent Was Rand a Misesian?

Long-time Misesian scholar Bettina Bien Greaves has written a review of the Spring 2005 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies symposium, "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians." The review appears as the Daily Article on the site of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Read the Greaves essay here. It is also linked at the Mises Blog here, with follow-up comments here. I've left one comment thanking Bettina, and mentioning Rand's marginalia comments on the works of Austrian writers.

Comments welcome, but readers are invited to join the discussion at the Mises Blog.

Update: This Greaves essay was also announced at L&P by Roderick Long here, leading to some good-natured chit-chat hereherehere, and here (where I post a few comments myself).

Posted by chris at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Posted to Austrian Economics Rand Studies

Musical "Purists" and "Impurities"

The discussion that began over Miklos Rozsa and Mario Lanza has led to further contributions from me: hereherehereherehere, and here.

One of those posts is actually worth reproducing here at Notablog because it deals with important issues on the complexity of different genres of music (including jazz and film scores) and on the nature of artistic integrity. With the great violinist Itzhak Perlman and the New York Philharmonic performing a concert of "Music from the Movies" tomorrow at Lincoln Center, these subjects have a certain timeliness.

Comments welcome, but readers are encouraged to join the discussion at SOLO HQ.

This is going to be a long post. I apologize in advance for its length. But there is no way to discuss these complex issues without opening up a few worm-cans. So, here goes:

George, I am certainly not suggesting that there are no qualitative standards by which to evaluate the complexity of different genres of music. And I certainly recognize that there are primitive and more complex forms of any art. What I was questioning was your own implicit view that jazz is inferior to classical music, at least insofar as we consider performance.

Since most jazz features improvisation based on less complex "popular tunes" or standards, a legitimate argument can be made that most classical composition is superior to jazz "composition." (This sets aside, for the moment, the fact that most classical composers simply wrote down their improvised variations on a theme, while in jazz, that improvisation is spontaneous within a structure; as Louis Armstrong once said, and I'm paraphrasing: "Asking a jazz musician to play the song in exactly the same way every time, is like going over to a bird and asking: 'How's that again?'")

Of course, the argument for "complexity" breaks down somewhat when we start to compare advanced jazz-influenced composition by people like Gershwin, Bernstein, Legrand, Sauter, and others---who explore complexity in rhythm and harmony on a par with classicists (and why wouldn't they? Most of these composers studied the classics, after all.)

Some of this is discussed in a superb work entitled Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination, by Robert Jourdain (a hat tip to Joe Maurone, who gave me the book some years ago). I strongly recommend Jourdain's book for those who wish to understand more fully the nature of complexity in music. For example, though Western music has enormous melodic and harmonic complexity, it does not (typically) have the rhythmic complexity that is found in the Middle East, Asia, and especially Africa. Jourdain writes:

Most Westerners have so much trouble with extended meters that even some musicologists have declared them incomprehensible. But much of the world revels in metrical complexity. In fact, it is the absence of complex meter in the West that is anomalous. Wherever music emphasizes complex meter, ordinary people learn to perceive it ... An even greater perceptual challenge is posed by polyrhythm. Polyrhythm might more accurately be called "polymeter", since it's made by playing more than one meter at a time. ... Polyrhythm makes your brain work overtime by demanding more attention than the simple meters found in most music, where sixteenth notes fit evenly into eights, eighths into quarters, quarters into halves, everything nicely aligned. This orderly arrangement lets the brain anticipate coming notes easily as halvings or doublings of the underlying beat. But when three notes overlay four in a polyrhythm, irregular distances fall between the notes of the two meters. The result is a sort of temporal texture that requires close listening to grasp analytically.

Jourdain states additionally:

Polyrhythm is rare in Western music, yet it has been around for a long time. You'll find instances in the experimental music of the early Baroque, in Mozart and Beethoven, and especially in the music of Romantic composers like Schumann and Brahms. In classical music, polyrhythm often is employed ornamentally as a sort of rhythmic bump in the road. But long polyrhythmic passages also appear. There's a good deal of polyrhythm in jazz, but not much elsewhere in the West.

And that point is key: because jazz, as a uniquely American contribution to music, is at a cultural crossroads in its genealogy, integrating Western, African, and sometimes other world cultural idioms (Brazilian, etc.) in its various musical forms. And these textures are not just found in the rhythm of a jazz arrangement; they are typically found in the phrasing of a jazz instrumentalist, who might play triple-notes over a single beat, along with many other complex permutations, integrating these with new, complex harmonies laid over a given melodic structure.

So, where does this leave us?

It tells us that "complexity" is something that needs to be evaluated according to a standard. It is not a "given" that classical performers are "superior" to jazz performers. The complexity is simply different in each genre. (As for the other genres, it depends: for example, there are classical and jazz forms to be found in progressive rock, hard rock, and so forth. That's why a lot of this music is called "fusion," rather than simply "rock" or "jazz," and different forms of complexity will be found in each.)

I'm astounded, George, that a fan of John Coltrane, such as you, could possibly suggest, by implication, that Coltrane is in the Minor Leagues when compared to a classical player. What these performers do is just... different. It can be more or less complex depending on the nature of the piece being performed, and what it demands. And it needs to be evaluated accordingly.

I should note that there are few classical players who can do what a jazz player does, and vice versa... simply because, as I suggest above, the approach and complexity are different. On this, by the way, I have a slight difference with Lindsay: Lanza may have been able "to do a Sinatra," and Sinatra may have worshiped at the altar of Lanza... but Sinatra is Sinatra. He learned from jazz artists the art of singing "behind the beat," which makes his phrasing much different from Lanza. Is this "better" or "worse"? Nonsensical question. It's simply a different approach, based on a different idiom. (Ironic, isn't it, that Lanza, who is being criticized as not "pure" enough by classical standards, is actually much closer to the classical technique than he is to the jazz technique that inspired Sinatra.)

And, in the end, one could look at technique, mastery of rhythm, harmony, melody, and the integration of these, and so forth, and come up with a much more "complex" picture of what constitutes "complexity." That's why I'm not willing to say that the classical performer is better than the jazz performer.

(Let's not confuse issues, however. For the record, I don't consider "pissing in a jar and adding a crucifix" to be art, let alone a primitive form of "art" ... but that's a subject for another day.)

Now, let me turn to Michael's newest post.

You ask, Michael, "is there any way that you can help me explain to you that high art is not a service industry? and that that is a good thing? Or do you like the idea that artists should go back to pre-renaissance times, back to the middle ages?"

The question implies a false dichotomy in my view; it suggests that an artist who is paid for his art is in a service industry necessarily. Now, maybe in certain circumstances, that might be true, that some artists produce art the way Howard Roark's inferior competitors produced architectural designs: they build in order to have clients, rather than needing clients in order to build in accordance with their own vision. (I would, however, caution us in making blanket moral statements about artists across the board on this issue; we would need to know the very specific personal circumstances of any artist in order to make those kinds of judgments.)

The genuine artist creates and is true to his vision---but this certainly does not mean that he must never seek out commissions for his creation or that it is never proper to be a part of a collaborative artistic endeavor (such as a film).

You bring up Michelangelo. Well, one of the best stories about Michelangelo and the Pope is depicted in the novel (and subsequent movie) "The Agony and the Ecstasy" (with a fine score, by the way, written by Alex North). I am deeply aware of the issues that motivated each of these men in what became a titanic struggle for artistic integrity. But Michelangelo's integrity was not compromised because he accepted money or because he chose to perform a service by selling his artistic talent to depict specifically religious scenes in a specifically religious structure.

Even Howard Roark, who created the great, exalted Stoddard Temple, accepted commissions to design a gas station---done in his way. And that is the key: As long as one is not asked to create "in a certain way," contrary to one's artistic vision, I see no compromise of integrity. And I see no difference here between Roark and Miklos Rozsa on this point: Rozsa accepted commissions to do motion picture scores---his way. He never compromised the integrity of his artistic vision in creating these scores.

I sometimes get the sense, however, that Michael is suggesting that anybody who does a film score is, per se, a compromiser, if they can also do concert works. But that's not the case, in my view. Rozsa learned the art of the score (and it is an art), and that art both informed his concert compositions, while also being informed by those concert compositions. Over time, in fact, many of his scores were adopted for the concert stage and presented as the integrated works of art that they were, quite apart from the films in which they were featured. And that is often the mark of a great film score and a great film score composer.

Ironically, tomorrow, at Lincoln Center, the incomparable classical violinist Itzhak Perlman will be performing an entire concert devoted to "Music from the Movies," with the New York Philharmonic. It features selections from the works of Rozsa, North, Newman, Steiner, Korngold, Williams, and other great film score composers. The program (which is available in PDF form here) discusses the ongoing debate over "movie music," which is sometimes dismissed by "purists" who claim that "Movie music is to music as ad copy is to writing and laugh tracks are to dialogue. ... In other words, it doesn't stand alone but is in service to something else. It's certainly technically interesting, like lighting, but it's not really music."


As James Keller writes, there is no "good reason to disdain music that stands 'in service to something else,' a characteristic that film music shares with operas, ballet scores (Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, for example), incidental music for theatrical productions (like Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream music), and any sacred music composed for liturgical use (say, Palestrina's Pope Marcellus Mass or J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio)." Keller understands "that some of this attitude is derived from the notion that commercial success somehow taints a work of art, and so a film score is contaminated by its very genealogy." But he asks, "does anyone argue that opera companies should not produce Der Rosenkavalier on the grounds that Richard Strauss composed the work hoping it might be successful and, sure enough, ended up building his mountain retreat with its royalties?" In any event, not all film scores enjoy commercial success, and not all film music is created equal. The fine composer Bernard Herrmann wrote:

Music on the screen can seek out and intensify the inner thoughts of the characters. It can invest a scene with terror, grandeur, gaiety, or misery. It often lifts a mere dialogue into the realm of poetry. It is the communicating link between screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one single experience.

Keller continues:

From a technical point of view, composing film music makes specific demands. You've got to feel a measure of sympathy for the composer who, having composed a beautifully structured nugget of sound that perfectly reflects the details of a cinematic scene, receives a memo informing him that the director has decided to expand the scene by 30 seconds or cut it by 18. Yet composers in all fields are accustomed to accommodating limitations, whether in fulfilling a commission for an orchestral piece---not to exceed 12 minutes---or in writing a violin part that really wants to descend to F, even though that instrument is thoughtlessly built to go only as low as G.

And the thing to remember is this, and here I truly agree with Keller: The finest film scores

are full participants in the success of a collaborative effort, but they also have complete musical integrity on their own. That's why it's possible, and not at all questionable, occasionally to unhook a score from the visuals and present it in a concert format. True, in doing so we lose the music's connection to the context for which it was conceived (except to the extent that our memory may supply it). However, concert audiences are used to that, since it happens every time a symphony concert opens with Wagner's Tannhauser Overture or ends with the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. If a well-executed musical composition holds its own when transferred from a movie theater to a concert hall, we only impoverish ourselves if we don't sit back and enjoy it.

I'd maintain that Rozsa's scores---and those of any of the great film score composers---have an internal integrity; they constitute an organic whole, in which each part enriches the experience of the whole, not only serving (and strengthening) the purpose of the film, but standing on their own as integral creations. Listen to his score from "Ben-Hur," or "El Cid," and see if you do not walk away with a sense of that integration, and a sense of Rozsa's artistic integrity, quite apart from whether you like it or not.

Michael brings up the Renaissance. Well, let's not forget one historical curiosity, which is not a coincidence: Just as the Renaissance gave birth to great humanist art, it also heralded the spread of capitalism. And an artist such as Rand was able to articulate the principle that art and entertainment need not be in conflict, that there is no inherent conflict between art and business, and that there is nothing inherently wrong with being paid for one's art. In the best of circumstances, the "service" being paid for is the creation of the sublime, in accordance with the artist's vision.

As a final point: The good thing about artistic taste is that it is personal and that each of us can find the sublime in different forms. We may be able to provide objective evaluations of an artist's technique and complexity. But what each of us likes, we like. C'est la vie, like I said. If opera "speaks" to you, Michael, in a certain way, the way that jazz and film scores and other forms of music "speak" to me, great! I celebrate the difference.

Posted by chris at 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | Posted to Culture Music Rand Studies


Let me tell ya Chris, that John Coltrane remark hit me like a ton of bricks.

What a vicious uppercut to the jaw I took with that one! Now mind you, I realize that I have NO right to complain, when one argues as aggressively as I do, they have NO right to whine about a hard counter-punch.

Anyone reading here on Sciabarra�s blog, never underestimate him. He is dangerous, - be afraid � be very afraid.



Posted by: George Cordero | April 11, 2005 09:57 AM

Hey, George... I hope you've recovered! Somehow, the thought of you under a pile of bricks is ~not~ comforting, no matter how "dangerous" I might be.


Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 11, 2005 03:29 PM


Song of the Day #229

Song of the DayLullaby of Birdland, music by jazz pianist George Shearing, lyrics by George David Weiss, has been sung by many jazz artists, including a wonderful version by the great Mel Torme. Listen to an audio clip from his album "Songs of New York."

Posted by chris at 06:07 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 10, 2005

The Problems with Rozsa and Lanza?

In response to an ongoing thread at SOLO HQ (to which I contributed more recent comments here and here), artist Michael Newberry takes me to task on my views of composer Miklos Rozsa and singer Mario Lanza. I respond at SOLO HQ here, but duplicate those comments for my Notablog readers below. I make additional comments hereherehereherehere, and here.

Comments welcome, but readers may wish to join the discussion at SOLO HQ.

Update: I've initiated a discussion of the question of "artistic integrity" at the Miklos Rozsa forum. Start here.

Playing with fire, eh?

The thing I find most objectionable in your post, Michael, is this assertion: "The problem that I see is that Chris doesn't know about artistic integrity and he insists to call people with an understanding of it or people that have it snobs. That is unjust."

I will admit to not knowing enough about the technical aspects of painting and sculpture, for example, in order to make an informed judgment about an artist's integrity or technical brilliance. I can only tell you what I like in these arts, and my tastes vary from Michelangelo to Monet.

But in music: I'll gladly play with fire. I've studied music, played an awful violin, taught a course on the history of jazz, and have been surrounded by musicians my whole life (including a virtuoso jazz guitarist brother, a terrific jazz vocalist sister-in-law, and a couple of professional opera-singing cousins). I spend every day of my life listening to music. I have eclectic tastes that range from the great classical compositions to contemporary R&B; I have a musical palette that makes room for Beethoven, the Blues, and the Beatles. Even among My Favorite Songs, one will find composers and artists from Puccini, Haydn, and Bach to Sarah Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, and Led Zeppelin.

So, let us begin.

First, Michael, look carefully at the paragraph you quoted. When I spoke of snobs, I was speaking primarily of the "avant-garde" of the 20th century who embraced "silence" and "traffic horns" as music, and who then condemned people like Miklos Rozsa because his music was too "melodic" and of another era. They were right. It is melodic, and it is of another era, and like many who still captured Romanticism in their music, Rozsa spent a lot of time composing for film (and this was not his only sphere of composition).

I am astonished to read that you have neither the patience nor the goodwill to discuss Rozsa in-depth, but to assert, as you do, that he lacked artistic integrity, is simply that: an assertion. Plenty of people work for hire and take direction: If an architect is hired to build a gas station, he builds a gas station---not a gymnasium---according to his own vision; and if the vision of the architect matches the needs of the customer who pays for it, a gas station is built. If a painter is hired to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, his artistic integrity is not being violated because he has a limited canvas and must adhere to a religious theme. Rozsa matched the needs of the director who paid for his compositions, but he had mega-guts in never sacrificing his artistic integrity, his vision, in composing the pieces for the screen that remain among the most formidable achievements in film scoring ever written. And his wonderful concert works were composed for some of the finest instrumentalists of the 20th century, including Jascha Heifetz and Pinchas Zukerman, who both celebrated the Rozsa legacy.

You can say you don't care for Rozsa's work. You can even tell me that you don't like my artistic tastes. C'est la vie. But to tell me that I have no understanding of artistic integrity is remarkable on the face of it. We have different tastes, Michael. But the chief difference is: I don't belittle the achievements of a Leontyne Price (whom I love), or many of the great classical composers (whom I also love) as a means of celebrating the achievements of people in jazz, R&B, or film scoring.

And many classical musicians don't feel the necessity to belittle the achievements of, say, their brothers and sisters in jazz either. Violinist Yehudi Menuhin played a magnificent classical piece; but he bowed before the improvisational genius of violinist Stephane Grappelli, and in all the albums they recorded together, Menuhin (who played transcriptions) couldn't say enough about the artistic integrity of Grappelli. Violinist Itzhak Perlman said the same about jazz guitarist Jim Hall. Classical pianist Jean Yves-Thibaudet said the same about jazz pianist Bill Evans. He even recorded a tribute album to Evans, based on transcriptions of Evans' solos, which Thibaudet himself likened to Ravel, Debussy, Chopin, and Rachmaninov. And many classical opera stars stood in awe of the vocal genius of Sarah Vaughan, who was often called the jazz world's "Leontyne Price." These classical artists, and many others, celebrate the deep rhythmic and harmonic complexity of jazz (and jazz-influenced composition too: in the works of George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Eddie Sauter, and Michel Legrand, to name a few). And such classicists, more often than not, cannot duplicate the improvisational genius they see at work within that genre. And, as an aside, that improvisational genius is on display in most cases, in concert halls and clubs, where the same formula as the opera house applies: "no retakes, ... no stalling, no charm can help you if you mess up."

As for Lanza: My original article on Mario Lanza clearly and unequivocally dealt with the tragedy of his life. In fact, the whole Cesari book that I reviewed is subtitled "An American Tragedy." That book and my review most certainly did not brush aside the tragedy: it was the whole point of the project.

But for what he did achieve, I can only say: Bravo, Derek McGovern.

Posted by chris at 09:33 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

Song of the Day #228

Song of the DayIf You Should Ever Be Lonely, music and lyrics by Fred Jenkins and singer Val Young, for whom it was a huge 1986 club hit, has also been covered by the Real McCoy [audio clip at that link], Reina, and Mariah Carey as part of a dance remix medley with the song "Heartbreaker" [audio clip here].

Posted by chris at 12:13 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 09, 2005

The Apocalypse Will Be Broadcast

I've been writing about the rise of the religious right for quite a while now, most recently in connection with the re-election of George W. Bush. Starting with my essay, "Caught Up in the Rapture," I have argued that the political impact of the religious right is second only to its cultural and economic impact, which is growing significantly:

Christian merchandising is a $4.2 billion industry, which includes a $100 million video game business. The Christian book market is particularly lucrative: Evangelist Rick Warren has sold 15 million copies of his book, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? There are even Christian diet books that sit alongside Atkins and South Beach manuals: The Maker's Diet helps you to lose weight by eating just like Jesus. From number one best-selling books such as The Da Vinci Code to "Joan of Arcadia" on television and "Bruce Almighty" on the silver screen, God is Hip and Hot. ... A blockbuster film such as "The Passion of the Christ"which was condemned initially as "anti-Semitic" by some criticshas now grossed nearly $400 million. That figure does not include director Mel Gibsons cross-promotional merchandising effortssales on such items as metal replica crucifixion nails and thorn-adorned necklaces and bracelets. ... [And the] 12-volume LaHaye-Jenkins work��from its first installment, Left Behind, to its action-packed finale, Glorious Appearing: The End of Daysnow qualifies as the best-selling Christian fiction book series of all time[, having] sold in excess of 60 million copies in the past nine years.

Ultimately, the Left Behind series is not simply a religious narrative. It is a political one. Glenn W. Shuck, author of Marks of the Beast: The Left Behind Novels and the Struggle for Evangelical Identity, argues persuasively that "the novels have less to do with escaping and more to do with remaking the modern world" (emphasis added). It is the kind of "remaking" that Friedrich Hayek would have characterized as thoroughly rationalist or "constructivist" in its political implications.

Except that in this instance, the "Left Behind-ers" are praying that God will be the ultimate constructivist, and fix things for good. The fact that so many of them voted for George W. Bush as His messenger is not a comforting thought.

Well, God makes a prime-time appearance on NBC in a major network mini-series that begins this Wednesday, April 13, 2005. As Frank Rich puts it (hat-tip to Arthur Silber): "It's all too fitting that 'Revelations,' which downsizes lay government in favor of the clerical, is hijacking the regular time slot of 'The West Wing'" (the show aired its season finale on April 6th). Fitting indeed. The typically liberal "West Wing" is being replaced by a Left Behind knock-off that will merge an "X-Files" sensibility, an Omen-like horror quotient, and an apocalyptic scenario worthy of the Millennium Group.

In the end, of course, the Apocalypse is not the most disturbing prospect; it's the fact that the Apocalypse has become so marketable in this culture.

Cross-posted to L&P. See discussion threads herehere, and here. Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 10:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Posted to Culture Religion

Selling Freedom

comment briefly at SOLO HQ on an article posted by Joseph C. Maurone, "Selling Freedom: The Choice of a New Generation?," which holds me up as "one of the premiere Objectivist proprietors..." I reproduce those comments below.

Comments welcome, but readers may wish to join the SOLO HQ discussion that begins here.

Thanks for the tribute, Joe.

Now people will understand that when Linz calls me "Her Royal Whoreness," it refers (ahem) to my penchant for being an ideological "capitalist," "salesman," and "proprietor," with a dialectical sensibility.

But I had a good teacher: Ayn Rand herself ... whom Peikoff was right to call "the greatest salesman philosophy has ever had."

The key, for me, has always been: Know what market you're targeting, learn about the specific concerns of that market (especially about your competitors in that market), and package your message in a way that bridges the gaps between your own perspective and the perspective of the people you are trying to reach.... not by compromising your message, but by learning to translate that message for a specific audience's context. In other words, this is all about context-keeping as applied to the exposition and sale of one's ideas.

I discuss the reasons for this in my Free Radical article, "Dialectics & the Art of Nonfiction," which draws from Rand's own insights. She said that "the purpose for which you write depends on your audience," and it is for this reason that we must never be "neutral about [the] audience's context." That would make about as much sense as a car dealer (using Joe's example) trying to sell a toaster to a customer looking for an SUV. Know your audience... know your customer... and adapt your message accordingly to appeal to that customer's interests and concerns... in other words, to his or her context.

Posted by chris at 09:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Posted to Culture Dialectics Rand Studies


Eeyore and I were just giggling about this idea yesterday. We were trying to imagine what news coverage of "The End Days" would look like.

Picture it if you will: End Times Coverage. Count Down To Judgement Day!

Voice-Over: Today on "The O'Reily Factor" - Bill O'Reilly interviews "The Almighty God Incarnate, Jesus H.Christ, subject of the famously popular ressurection Books and Movies...Depicted in the Blockbuster Smash by Mel Gibson:

O'Reilly: Thanks for coming on the show, but I've got to ask. Don't you think George Bush is doing a great job in Iraq?

JC:Well Bill, I think the jury's still out on that...


JC:I'm sorry. I was just letting you know about my Personal Judgement on the matter. I'm trying to explain...

O'Reilly:Do I need to turn your microphone off!!!!
(turning to his staff) Get this clown outta here!

Posted by: Edward T Bear | April 11, 2005 07:39 AM


Song of the Day #227

Song of the DayJust Be Good to Me, words and music by Terry Lewis and Jimmy "Jam" Harris, has been recorded by ZodiacDLP, and Kym Rae (audio clip at that link). But, for me, the original version of this churning R&B groove is the definitive one: by the S.O.S. Band. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 12:10 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 08, 2005

Song of the Day #226

Song of the DayOver the Rainbow, music by Harold Arlen (the centenary of whose birth was celebrated on February 15th), and lyrics by E. Y. "Yip" Harburg (who was born on this day in 1898; check out the new stamp in his honor) is from the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz." Made famous by Judy Garland, it is a timeless song of yearning and hope. Listen to an audio clip of young Dorothy singing this gem. And for an utterly hilarious story about Ethel Merman's reaction to Renata Scotto's vocalizing of this song, see here. Listen also to the full audio clip of Scotto's rendition at that site.

Posted by chris at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 07, 2005

Mars, Venus, Earth

Robert Bidinotto's SOLO HQ essay, "Objectivism, Venus and Mars" has elicited quite a few comments. I posted a comment that makes reference to my own work on Ayn Rand, and the various reactions it has elicited among people with different "thinking styles." See here.

Comments welcome, but readers are encouraged to join the dialogue at SOLO HQ.

Posted by chris at 07:20 PM | Permalink | Posted to Culture Rand Studies Sexuality

Song of the Day #225

Song of the DayGod Bless the Child features lyrics by Arthur Herzog, Jr. and music by Billie Holiday, who would have celebrated her 90th birthday today. Listen to a poignant Lady Day audio clip here. And for a change of pace, listen to an audio clip of the classic Blood, Sweat & Tears version here.

Posted by chris at 06:49 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 06, 2005

Song of the Day #224

Song of the DayDeja Vu (It's Hard to Believe), words and music by Ray Roc Checo, Jodi Marr and Denise Rich, is performed by The Roc Project, featuring Tina Novak. Listen to an audio clip of this punchy dance track in a freestyle mix here and a more house-oriented mix here (several other remixes are offered here).

Posted by chris at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 05, 2005

Yanks 2, Boston 0

I know, I know, it's still very early ... but that was fun.

The Bosox tied the game in the 9th inning, and Derek Jeter came up in the bottom of the 9th, the Stadium bathed in spring sunlight, and hit a walk-off home run to win the game for the Yanks, 4-3. Carl Pavano failed to get his first Yankee win, but he had 7Ks in 6 1/3 innings of work.

Okay, I promise not to do this for every game. It's just so good to see baseball again.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 04:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Sports


Liverpool 2 - Juventus 1

(I'm assuming you find European soccer scores about as interesting as I find US baseball scores :-p)

Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 6, 2005 03:57 AM


Yes, yes, that's why I promised not to make this a regular blog category. But at least you called it "soccer" rather than "football." :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 6, 2005 06:47 AM


Hey Chris, post away on whatever interests you :-) It is your site after all...

As for calling it "soccer", using the term "football" with Americans always leads to mass confusion ;-)

In all seriousness, on the international level "football" often seems to be used as a blanket term that takes in association football (soccer), American football, Aussie football, even rugby etc, so considering the full context I must admit that the British colloquial usage of "football" as a synonym of "soccer" is indeed terribly confusing...

Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 7, 2005 07:13 PM

Tell me about it!

At least ~baseball~ is ~baseball~.

In Brooklyn, however, there is an old time game called "stickball," which is like baseball, except it takes place on the streets, where cars and sewers stand in for bases, and a bat shaped like a broom stick (without the broom) is used. Many a classic baseball player in NYC got their start with stickball.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 8, 2005 09:45 PM


Rand Centenary Essay Republished

In "Celebrating the Year of Ayn Rand," ISIL has republished my Freeman essay, "Ayn Rand: A Centennial Appreciation." The essay is also available as a PDF here.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 03:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Rand Studies



I just had a glance through this and it looks fascinating. I'll be sure to read it properly later and comment in more detail :-)


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 6, 2005 03:59 AM


In the meanwhile, you should know that this essay is a very small sample of a much larger piece I've done for Ed Younkins' forthcoming volume, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of ATLAS, entitled: ATLAS SHRUGGED: PHILOSOPHICAL AND LITERARY COMPANION. It should be a very nice anthology; Ed has a nice line-up planned.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 6, 2005 06:49 AM


As it stands this piece is both a splendid introduction to Rand's ideas and a fitting tribute to her achievements. I look forward to reading the longer version and the other contributions to Ed Younkins' anthology.


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 7, 2005 07:25 PM

Thanks, Matthew! The anthology promises to be good reading!

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 8, 2005 09:41 PM


Song of the Day #223

Song of the DayWhat You Won't Do For Love, words and music by Bobby Caldwell and Alfons Kettner, has been performed by many artists, including a solo version by Michael Bolton, a duet by Natalie Cole and Peabo Bryson, and a rap-vocal fusion with Tupac Shakur and Eric Williams (as "Do For Love") (audio clips at each of those links). But my favorite remains the original Bobby Caldwell performance. Listen to an audio clip here or here.

Posted by chris at 09:06 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 04, 2005

Yanks 1, Boston 0

Okay, we've got a long way to go. But it was still nice seeing pitcher Randy Johnson make his debut at The Stadium. It was still nice seeing shortstop, and Yankee captain, Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees beat the, cough, cough, ahem, World Champion Boston Red Sox, 9-2, in the first game of the 2005 Major League Baseball Season.

Let's Go Yanks!

In the meanwhile, today, the New York Mets have their first official game of the new season, led by their new manager, former Yankee Willie Randolph. They are a team to watch, especially their fresh third baseman, David Wright.

Spring is here. Daylight Savings Time has returned. Baseball is back. Life is good.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | Posted to Sports


"Daylight Savings Time has returned"

Seems like you guys did this a week later than us. One of the British news channels carries a live feed of the CBS evening news from the US, figured there was something wierd last week because I kept missing them, then realised they were on earlier than usual.

Bloody typical yanks! ;-)

Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 4, 2005 03:20 PM

It's funny that you used the word "yanks" in this particular post. hehe

BTW, I understand that the US is moving toward standardizing itself with Europe; they are also thinking of adjusting the clock in October in a different way.


Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 4, 2005 05:55 PM

How about this idiocy of daylight savings time be put to rest forever? I'm sick of having to reset my damned clocks and watch twice a year! And for what? Who gives a rat's ass whether there is an "extra" hour of light in the evening or not? Get up an hour earlier if you want an "extra" hour of daylight.

Posted by: Mark Fulwiler | April 5, 2005 03:46 AM

Chris - Hmm interesting, I actually thought the Autumn change did happen the same week already (I remember when I was an exchange student over there a couple of years back, I'm pretty sure it was the same week).

Mr Fulwiler - I agree scrapping daylight saving (or British Summer Time/BST as we self-centred Brits call it ;-)) altogether would be a very good idea. I don't know if there's much debate about it over there but here the major argument for keeping this system seems to be that the extra hour of light in the evening reduces the risk of accidents for those travelling from work, opponents simply retort that the disprution to sleep patterns makes accidents more likely. All seems a bit bullshitty to me to be perfectly honet :-)


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 5, 2005 10:35 AM


Yes, the "Fall back" change occurs at the same time, but the proposal is that it take place the 3rd weekend of October, rather than the last, and that the US "Spring forward" in sync with the EU at the end of March.

In any event, in terms of the actual day we change clocks... I much prefer to "Fall Back"... I can always use an extra hour to sleep... or work.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 5, 2005 11:57 AM


Song of the Day #222

Song of the DayLove Will Save the Day, music and lyrics by Antoinette "Toni C" Colandero, was performed by Whitney Houston on the album "Whitney." Produced and mixed by Jellybean Benitez, it's an energetic and musical dance track, which features a cool vibraphone solo by Roy Ayers. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 03, 2005

Song of the Day #221

Song of the DayTake Me Out to the Ball Game, composed by Jack Norworth in 1908 (and re-fashioned in 1927), is a perennial baseball park favorite, and one of my all-time favorites too... because it reminds me of my favorite sport, played in my favorite ballpark, by my favorite team, which just so happens to be opening up the 2005 baseball season tonightGo Yanks! Oh, and I loved a 1996 commercial version of this song by the Goo Goo Dolls. Listen to an audio clip of that version here. And read David Hinckley's essay on this "Great Baseball Song."

Posted by chris at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music Sports

APRIL 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II Dies

My condolences to those mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. Whatever one's thoughts on organized religion, Catholicism, or the Pope's applications of Catholic doctrine, I think it can be said that this was a gentle man with guts, one who lent his support to such movements as Solidarity during an historical period that saw the collapse of Communism.


Update: At SOLO HQ, I reflected on the Pope's passing, and in reply to Lindsay Perigo's own homily, "The Pope, Objectivism ... and 'The Best Within'." I reproduce those comments below for readers of Notablog. Also note SOLO HQ follow-up hereherehere, and here.

Comments welcome, though you might also wish to join the discussion at SOLO HQ.

Marcus [Bachler] writes:

More spirituality needed for SOULO? How about we rename this group GWBSO = George W Bush Spiritual Objectivists? :-)

You mean it's not named that already? [running for cover...]

Seriously, Linz's article raises a number of issues.

I don't think Objectivism will ever reach the kind of mass appeal that one finds in mass-appeal religious movements---whether they go by the name "Catholicism" or "Islamic fundamentalism" or the more secular religiosities of Communism and Nazism. And I say: Thank God! That doesn't mean, however, that some "Objectivists" are not prone to the same kinds of behavior that plague those types of movements (minus the killing of infidels); perhaps the development of joyless, nasty "sectarianism" is simply endemic to the development of movements as such.

Of course, Linz is right: Catholicism has been at the center of many achievements. But even those achievements were bound up with the development of secularism. The resurgence of Aristotelianism through Thomas Aquinas, and the Renaissance thereafter, laid much groundwork for, and provided the inspiration for, many glorious developments and expressions in architecture, sculpture, painting and music that followed. The secularization of the Western mind has taken centuries to achieve... even if we are still facing various "blips" that seek to interrupt (and reverse) that process. And so many of those who have expressed "total passion" of a religious nature are still looking to the heavens for height... belittling, in the process, the individual human being living on earth.

On the passing of John Paul II: I marked his death briefly because I have long viewed him as a "gentle man with guts," who stood up, rhetorically, to Communism and to Nazism in his lifetime. Ironically, the "gentle man with guts," the serene, self-confident man of conviction who embraces the "total passion for the total height" can also be found in Rand's own novels, in characters such as Howard Roark. Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that all of us have to mimic the qualities of Roark or even the gentility of John Paul II. Lord knows, we all have different demeanors and personalities, and there is strength in that diversity.

But I just don't know of any other way to fight "repressive, persecutorial, joyless, prudish and downright nasty" behavior, except by not practicing it in my own dealings with other people. My actions are part of a culture, and if I want a rational and civil culture, I need to practice those virtues in my own relationship to my self, and to others.

One cannot "implement" a culture the way one selects a Parliament, a President, or a Pope. A culture is emergent: If you desire a certain type of culture tomorrow, you need to own and exhibit the virtues of that culture in your actions today. "Anyone who fights for the future," wrote Ayn Rand, "lives in it today"each in the context of his/her own life, individual goals, and familial, romantic, professional, political, social relationships.

Posted by chris at 03:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | Posted to Culture Rand Studies Religion Remembrance


"A culture is emergent: If you desire a certain type of culture tomorrow, you need to own and exhibit the virtues of that culture in your actions today."

This makes for a nice aphorism.

Posted by: Geoffrey Allan Plauche | April 3, 2005 12:35 PM

Thanks, Geoffrey!

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 4, 2005 07:27 AM


Hayek and Spencer

At L&P, I made a comment on a review of Bruce Caldwell's recent book on Hayek here.

Posted by chris at 03:16 PM | Permalink | Posted to Politics (Theory, History, Now)

Song of the Day #220

Song of the DayTill There Was You, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, has been covered by so many artists... even The Beatles! It was sung by Tony-winning Barbara Cook in the original Broadway cast recording of "The Music Man," also starring Robert Preston (check out the audio clip here) and in the 1962 film version by Shirley Jones.

Posted by chris at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

APRIL 01, 2005

April, May, June, July ... Fools

So much in the news on this April Fool's Day, 2005. For example, the "final verdict" on prewar "intelligence" has been issued. It is, of course, nothing of the sort. The "final verdict" won't be issued for years and years. But this particular verdict does make it appear that there were plenty of fools running America's "intelligence" community. American "homeland security" is gravely dependent on the quality of its intelligence. That should make all of us feel very safe.

And then, on the heels of the departure of NBC's Tom Brokaw and CBS's Dan Rather, another Long-Time Talking Head will be Leaving the Airwavesthis coming December: Ted Koppel, long-time host of ABC News' "Nightline." I've actually been a fan of "Nightline" for many years, if only because it does offer an opportunity for a more comprehensive look at the news of the day, with more in-depth interviews and coverage than that offered on the nightly news broadcasts.

I'm also a religious viewer of the Sunday morning news broadcasts, but I have found them infuriating for the last few years. I spend most Sunday mornings doing a most un-Godly thing: Cursing at the TV Screen. Not only because of what is being said, but because it's the same people saying the same things. Ted Koppel puts his finger on it. As the NY Times reports this morning:

Mr. Koppel said he had been concerned about what he saw as the uniformity of all the Sunday public affairs programsparticularly when a viewer can flip from one channel to the other and see people like the secretary of defense or secretary of state interviewed on each. "That seems to be the general understanding in Washington these days," Mr. Koppel said. "The administration sets the tone and theme and presents the same guests to all the programs at the same time. I don't think anyone is served by that."


Quite honestly, let me put it another way: ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!


That felt better.

[begin rant] Why don't they just call the Sunday morning news programs: The Condi Rice Show? Or The Don Rumsfeld Show? Or The John McCain Show? Or (up until recently) The Colin Powell Show? EVERY DAMN WEEK, the same people, over and over and over again. On every channel. Sometimes simultaneously. Taped broadcasts putting to rest the maxim that one can't be in two or three different places at the same time. Who needs a Pentagon Channel? [/end rant]

April Fool's Day? The Washington establishment makes fools of all of us, every day of the year.

Comments welcome.

Cross-posted to L&P.

Posted by chris at 09:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | Posted to Culture Foreign Policy


I posted this to the entry at L&P, but here you go anyway :-)

Count yourselves lucky Chris: our Prime Minister keeps turning up on light talk shows here, such as Channel 4's early evening Richard & Judy show. You can pretty much guarantee nothing even remotely probing is going to be asked.

That said, those wonderful chaps at Sky News somehow convinced Blair to take questions from the public for two hours live on their channel, which did lead to some seriously surprising moments :-),,30100-13317926,00.html

Any chance of Bush doing something like that there?

Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | April 2, 2005 05:01 AM

... hehe... only in carefully orchestrated Town Hall meetings during Election season. :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | April 2, 2005 02:26 PM


Song of the Day #219

Song of the DayI'm a Fool to Want You, words and music by Jack Wolf, Joel Herron, and Frank Sinatra, has been performed by many singers, including Ol' Blue EyesBillie Holiday performed this sad song of unrequited love to heartbreaking effect. Listen to audio clips of several Holiday takes here (and tune-in to the WKCR Billie Holiday Festival, starting today). If you want to change the mood... have a fun April Fool's Day!

Posted by chris at 09:12 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music