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DECember 2005




JANUARY 31, 2006

Song of the Day #533

Song of the DayBe My Love, music by Nicholas Brodszky, lyrics by Sammy Cahn, is a 1950 Academy Award-nominated song from the film "The Toast of New Orleans," starring Mario Lanza, today's birthday boy. Listen to an audio clip here. And take a look at today's announced "Best Song" Oscar nominees for the 78th Annual Academy Awards here.

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

JANUARY 30, 2006

Song of the Day #532

Song of the DayDown the Line, composed and performed by jazz guitarist Jim Hall, appears on his album, "Commitment." Like pianist Bill Evans once did in "Conversations with Myself," Hall actually overdubs his own guitar comps and solos on both acoustic and electric instruments. It is a tour de force performance. No audio clips are available on the web. Darn.

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 29, 2006

Song of the Day #531

Song of the DayMesmerized is credited to a dozen writers, including the one who performs it with R&B gusto: Faith Evans. I especially love the Freemasons dance mix. View the video and listen to various full-length remixes of this hot dance track here.

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 28, 2006

Song of the Day #530

Song of the DayViolin Concerto in D (Op. 77), composed by Johannes Brahms, is a wonderful orchestral piece. I especially love the Third Movement. Listen to an audio clip featuring the great Jascha Heifetz.

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 27, 2006

Wonderful News for JARS

When The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies was first published in the Fall of 1999, its Founding Editors (Bill Bradford, Stephen Cox, and some guy named Chris Matthew Sciabarra) and its Board of Advisors knew that we had our work cut out for us. We were the first interdisciplinary scholarly periodical ever established as a forum for the critical discussion of Ayn Rand's ideas. As we state in our credo, JARS is ...

A nonpartisan journal devoted to the study of Ayn Rand and her times. The journal is not aligned with any advocacy group, institute, or person. It welcomes papers from every discipline and from a variety of interpretive and critical perspectives. It aims to foster scholarly dialogue through a respectful exchange of ideas. The journal is published semi-annually, in the fall and the spring.

One of the most important achievements of any academic journal is its ability to be added to the indices of established abstracting services. This is a way of bolstering a journal's reputation as a serious organ of scholarly discussion, while contributing to the acceptance of that journal's subject matter as worthy of such discussion.

In its first few years of operation, JARS was able to add over a dozen of these services, including: CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, IBR (International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences), IBZ (International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences), International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, International Political Science Abstracts, The Left Index, The Philosopher's Index, MLA International Bibliography, MLA Directory of Periodicals, Sociological Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, and Women's Studies International.

Coverage in such indices facilitates the expansion of JARS citations, and, by consequence, Ayn Rand references, within the global marketplace of academic scholarship.

This has a two-fold benefit: First, it means that the works of those who write for JARS are being made readily available as resources for future Rand scholarship. As citations to JARS articles expand in the scholarly literature, more and more scholars will find these references for use in their own work.

Second, it means that JARS will continue to attract established scholars who seek to write about Rand in journals that are reputable, and, thus, fully indexed and abstracted by services used by their fellow academics in various fields of concentration.

Though we have had success in expanding our reach in scholarly indices, it has been an uphill battle to get JARS added to three of the most prestigious of indices: the Arts & Humanities Citation IndexCurrent Contents/Arts & Humanities, and the Social Sciences Citation Index.

In fact, some years ago, we approached those organizations of Thomson Scientific with the requisite three consecutive issues in the hopes that they would add JARS to their lists of the world's leading journals. The first three-issue review failed; JARS was still too young to join the global ranks.

As time passed, we decided to submit JARS for a second hearing at Thomson Scientific. The review process is a profoundly rigorous one. Yet, having failed to achieve our goals the first time around, we were confident that the journal's timely publication and improved quality would facilitate its acceptance in a second evaluation.

Today, I am proud to announce that the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has been selected as a new addition to three of the most prestigious indices in the international community of scholars.

o The journal will be fully abstracted and indexed by the Arts & Humanities Citation Index:

The Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI ) and Arts & Humanities Search provide access to current and retrospective bibliographic information and cited references found in nearly 1,130 of the world's leading arts & humanities journals. They also cover individually selected, relevant items from approximately 7,000 of the world's leading science and social sciences journals.

o The journal will be fully abstracted and indexed by Current Contents/Arts & Humanities:

Current Contents / Arts & Humanities provides access to complete bibliographic information from articles, editorials, meeting abstracts, commentaries, and all other significant items in recently published editions of over 1,120 of the world's leading arts and humanities journals and books from a broad range of categories.

o And, finally, abstracts of relevant journal articles centered on the social sciences (economics, political science, psychology, etc.) will be selectively included in the Social Sciences Citation Index:

The Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and Social SciSearch provide access to current and retrospective bibliographic information, author abstracts, and cited references found in over 1,700 of the world's leading scholarly social sciences journals covering more than 50 disciplines. They also cover individually selected, relevant items from approximately 3,300 of the world's leading science and technology journals.

It will take a few months for the journal's contents to begin appearing in these high quality indices, but JARS will soon be included in their databases. The journal coverage begins with Volume 6, No. 2, the Spring 2005 issue.

I am utterly delighted by this wonderful news.

FYI: Our forthcoming issue, which will include a symposium on Ayn Rand's ethics, will be published in the late Spring.

Comments welcome. Also cited by The Atlasphere.

Posted by chris at 09:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (15) | Posted to Periodicals Rand Studies



This is absolutely wonderful news. Congratulations. Deeply felt congratulations. After the setbacks of last year, it looks like this year is going to be the contrary.


Posted by: Michael Stuart Kelly | January 27, 2006 11:04 PM

Chris, you are wonderful -- and so is Stephen Cox and your Board of Advisors and so was Bill Bradford. And so is JARS. What a remarkable accomplishment! -- and after so short a time. No one has done for Objectivism what you have done. I hope you are bursting with well-deserved pride.


Posted by: Barbara Branden | January 28, 2006 12:15 AM

Congratulations to you and your associates. You have done more than any other living scholar to get the ideas of Ayn Rand into the mainstream and respected as serious scholarship.

Posted by: Michael Southern | January 28, 2006 12:40 AM

That's great news! Keep up the fine work!

Posted by: Dan Ust | January 28, 2006 05:32 AM

Chris, it is not surprising news but oh, so gratifying. I'm proud to add to the congratulations you so well deserve.

Posted by: Jane Yoder | January 28, 2006 06:58 AM

Thank you so much, folks, for your kind words of congratulations.

My pal, colleague, and fellow JARS contributor, Walter Block, just brought this very interesting April 2004 article (PDF), written by my pal Daniel B. Klein (with Eric Chiang), which speaks of a potential ideological bias at work at SSCI. Dan actually cites the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies as among those journals not covered by SSCI.

If Dan is correct, the inclusion of JARS in the SSCI index is a more significant achievement than I first thought.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 28, 2006 12:00 PM

Congratulations, my dear! Those are indeed great accomplishments, and say much about the quality of the work of everyone at JARS.

Posted by: Sunni | January 28, 2006 12:42 PM

A big pat on the back! Chris, you have been one of the most productive and fair minded Objectivists in the movement and I think you will go down in history as fostering some of the most interesting discussion in the "early days" of the movement.

Posted by: Karen Minto | January 28, 2006 08:51 PM

Congratulations Chris. JARS keeps getting better.

Posted by: Neil Parille | January 29, 2006 08:13 AM

Congratulations Chris and all at JARS :-)


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | January 29, 2006 02:12 PM

Congratulations, Chris!

Posted by: Mark D Fulwiler | January 30, 2006 05:27 AM

It has been an honor and a privilege working with you. To reiterate what others have said, you have been key in bringing the world of Ayn Rand studies into the realm of respectable academic discourse.

Posted by: Mimi R. Gladstein | January 30, 2006 11:07 AM

That's awesome! Congratulations into infinity - what a great accomplishment.

Posted by: Andrew Schwartz | January 30, 2006 01:27 PM

My goodness! All these extra congratulatory notes from friends and colleagues!

Merci beaucoup! But those of you who have had a part in writing for JARS, or acting as peer readers, or, of course, subscribing to the journal, have been very important to our success. So thank yourselves too! :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 31, 2006 09:11 PM

The fact that this inclusion of JARS is seen as remarkable is disheartening. The fact that JARS has been included is cause for celebration and pride. Congratulations.

Posted by: Ashley March | February 3, 2006 12:01 PM


Song of the Day #529

Song of the DaySymphony No. 40 in G Minor, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, features one of the most familiar classical themes in its First Movement. Listen here to audio clips of all four movements, in a recording featuring the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the great Leonard Bernstein. And Happy 250th Birthday to Mozart!

Posted by chris at 06:40 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 26, 2006

I Get Letters ...

Michael ("Mick") Russell (who has left comments on Notablog before) wrote me a personal email the other day, and I asked him for permission to reproduce it, in partnot because he was so complimentary, but because I thought he raised an issue of general interest:

Dear Chris,

Thank you for your wonderful site. And for your respect. I am a former socialist, seeking a new and improved way to change the world, for the better, of course. I have recently read Ayn Rand's We The Living. It confirmed the obvious (now) for me: collectivism is morally bankrupt and utterly wrong. I now totally reject socialism. Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism fascinates me.

But I must confess to being intimidated by its study. Leonard Peikoff? David Kelley? The split with the Brandens? Of all the Objectivist, or Neo-Objectivist blogs, I find yours to be the freest and most respectful of dissent. And I loved Blondie. My condolences.

Does my past association with MarxismI was a member of the Young Socialist Alliance and The Socialist Workers Partypreclude me from any activity within the Objectivist movement? I am an Atheist; not only do I reject God, I don't believe Ayn Rand is God. She was a brilliant but fallible mind. Am I an apostate before I even join the movement? I try to engage but am usually rejected by various pro-Objectivist blogs. I guess I'm a libertarian. I just want to further my mind and advance the cause of freedom. Any suggestions? Mick

I'll include here my answer to Mick, with a few additions too.

My first suggestion is that you do not worry about joining any "movements"; virtually all organized movements have their pitfalls, and it's not my intention here to list those that have been manifested throughout the history of "Objectivism."

My second suggestion is that you spend time actually reading Ayn Rand's work. Instead of navigating through all the conflicts within the "movement," you should focus on the ideas, and then, once you've read and digested Rand's work, I strongly suggest moving on to works written by those who were influenced by her (Nathaniel Branden, Leonard Peikoff, David Kelley, etc.), followed by works in the secondary literature.

Of course, as part of that secondary literature, I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest that at some point you might actually want to read my own book on Rand: Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (as well as other Rand-related books and journals with which I've been involved).

Whatever his other criticisms of my book, the late Ronald Merrill once called Russian Radical, "Objectivism for Marxists." I don't agree with Merrill's reasoning behind that quipthat I packaged Rand's work in the "language" of the left to make it accessible to the academic community. In fact, it was my belief then, and it is my belief now, that the "language" of dialectics was usefully employed because it captured something important in Rand's work, while enabling me to challenge the left's monopoly on an eminently radical methodology. It was not a marketing decision; it was an intellectual and theoretical choice that I made based on my view that it was a correct identification.

But if you began on the left, my work may, in fact, be something that helps you to situate Rand in the broader context of radical thinking.

As a supplement to your reading on Rand, let me make a third suggestion: Don't narrow your focus to all things Rand. If you're genuinely interested in libertarianism, let me also recommend all the works that I list here, which certainly made a huge impact on my own development.

Finally, I have to cite two essays: the first, published on the Lew Rockwell site back in 2002, entitled "How I Became a Libertarian"; the second, entitled "Taking It Personally" (PDF version). Both mention my interactions with the Young Socialist Alliance when I was in high school. I was a bit more conservative back in those days, but here's the relevant paragraph from the latter essay that should make you chuckle:

I had been an outspoken political type in high school, involved in some rather contentious battles with the Young Socialists of America who had plastered the schools hallways with their obscene propaganda. I had begun writing for Gadfly, the social studies newspaper, and had taken to quoting Ronald Reagan on the perils of central planning. I knew that I "arrived" as a political commentator when I walked into a school bathroom one afternoon to find a copy of one of my anti-socialist articlessitting, rather wet, in the urinal. Though Id heard of "yellow journalism," the article seemed to have been saved from discoloration because it had already been printed on goldenrod mimeograph paper. A small victory, that.

In any event, I hope you enjoy your new reading adventures; please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, and I hope you'll feel free to comment here as well.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 12:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (10) | Posted to Dialectics Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies

Chris, you were out of high school when I was in the YSA, I can assure you I wasn't the one who urinated on your article :)

Posted by: Mick Russell | January 26, 2006 08:04 PM


I think anyone who has read the works you mentioned might proceed to Tibor Machan's book AYN RAND and also A. Gotthelf's book ON AYN RAND.

There is no completely satisfactory book on Rand, but taken together these do a good job.

Posted by: Neil Parille | January 26, 2006 08:10 PM

I used to be a lefty type socialist myself who broadened his outlook to include folks like Rand and right-libertarians which has added immensely to my knowledge/understanding of the notion of radical political/social thinking.

My advice would be to absorb as much of her fiction/non-fiction as you can handle while maintaining an independent outlook on it but it sounds like your not out to make Rand a god so maybe that comment wasn't needed.

I am a buddy of Chris's and I reccomend his Russian Radical as an excellent read for those interested in her thought.

It's definitely not all you should read but I've found it to be very thought provoking/stimulating.

not just trying to give free publicity to Chris cause he's a friend too hehe

I do honestly think it's a worthwhile read.


P.S. I am trying to construct a personal essay on Rand which is on the personal blog linked under URL if your interested

not finished at all but I'm doing a rereading of material dealing with her ideas to finish it up.

Posted by: Nick | January 26, 2006 09:54 PM

I don't know how familiar you are with the libertarian blogosphere/community but just wanted to add that that there are left-libertarians/those who identify with the label socialist but from a free market perspective which is hosted by Kevin Carson is one such example


Posted by: Nick | January 26, 2006 10:20 PM


I do have Chris's book on Rand. Thanks for the link to Kevin Carson's site.

Posted by: Mick | January 27, 2006 10:11 AM

Okie Dokie and no problem on the link

glad to be of service


Posted by: Nick | January 27, 2006 05:21 PM

I gave my own evaluation of the relationship between Chris' work and Marxism in a couple of posts that I once wrote for Louis Proyect's Marxmail List several years ago. In one such post, I wrote:

Much of McLemee's article focuses on Chris Sciabarra's book Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Sciabarra is a libertarian who did his doctorate under the Marxist scholar, Bertell Ollman. Ollman is noted among other things for his studies of Marxist dialectics in which he applied the American idealist philosopher Brand Blanshard's,analysis of internal relations to the elucidation of dialectics.

Sciabarra has in several of his works attempted to apply Ollman's approach to provide reconsiderations of libertarian and classical liberal thinkers like F.A. Hayek, Karl Popper, and Ayn Rand. In the case of the first two thinkers, Sciabarra's approach seems quite plausible and fruitful since despite their avowed anti-Hegelianism, both Hayek and Popper in their mature thought advanced evolutionist conceptions of history and culture. Both Hayek and Popper were not incapable of subtle thought. Their are IMO aspects of their thought that can indeed be understood as being dialectical in character and doing so has made these aspects much clearer. BTW the Soviet philosopher, Igor Naletov, arrived at an evaluation of Popper's mature thought that is similar to Sciabarra's.

In the case of Rand though, this argument seems less plausible, if only for the reason she was such a crude and often dishonest thinker. I dare say that Chris Sciabarra is far more learned and intelligent than Rand ever was and he tends to read back into her a work a subtlety of mind that he himself possesses but in which Rand was lacking.

Much of Sciabarra's book is devoted to tracing the influences of Russia's Silver Age on the genesis of Rand's thought. In particular he points out the influence of Nietzsche on her philosophy, something that she was most loathe to admit since Rand and her Objectivist disciples have always dismissed him as an irrationalist. Of course Rand's Nietzscheanism ought to have been apparent. After all, the hero of her novel,Howard Roark, was based, at least in part, on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright who was very much a professed Nietzschean. It is true that Barbara Branden in her biography of Rand noted her youthful infatuation with the writings of Nietzsche and the impact of Nietzsche on the development of her own ethic of egoism and on her romantic individualism. That didn't stop orthodox Objectivists from denying the influence of Nietzsche on Rand but on this point Sciabarra has made a persuasive argument that has given the orthodox Objectivists much trouble. In general Rand was very reluctant to admit to being influenced by other thinkers. She claimed that her thought stemmed from Aristotle and from the free-market economists.

Rand was also arguably quite dishonest in her denials that she was influenced in any significant way by contemporary philosophers. Her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology includes among other things a sustained argument aimed at demolishing the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions. For Rand the analytic/synthetic distinction was at the root of
nearly everything that she thought was wrong with modern philosophy. So far, so good but what she didn't say in her book was that Harvard philosopher, W.V. Quine had years before published a demolition of the analytic/synthetic distinction in his famous essay "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" in his book From a Logical Point of View. Perhaps, Rand can be excused or forgiven for this lapse since she was not a professional philosopher but how does one explain the fact that the essay by Leonard Peikoff on the analytic/synthetic distinction which appears in Rand's book makes no mention of Quine either?
Peikoff, who became Rand's designated intellectual heir after she had dumped Nathan Branden, was, unlike Rand, a professional philosopher with a doctorate in the subject and he has served as a professor at several universities. What's his excuse?
In another post, I wrote:

I realize that I omitted the name of the American idealist philosopher in question. His name was Brand Blanshard, who taught for many years at Yale and was basically the last of the American idealists, a neo-Hegelian school that had pretty dominated American academic philosophy towards the end of the 19th century (British academic philosophy was similarly dominated by idealists at about the same time). Unlike most of the earlier idealists though, Blanshard was an avowed atheist, and he was active in various freethought and
humanist organizations. He was noted among other things for his defense of the notion of internal relations, an issue that he debated vigorously with the empiricist philosopher, Ernest Nagel.

The notion of an internal relation is closely tied to the notion of necessity. Thus if an individual X has a property, such that by virtue if having that property, X necessarily has a relation R to a certain thing or things, then R can be described as an internal relation of X. Thus if X is a bachelor, then the relation of not being married to anyone else is an internal relation of X. The notion of an internal relation is contrasted with the notion of an external relation. Thus if X has a relation to certain other things but there is no property that X necessarily has this relation, then this relation is said to be an external one. Towards the end of the last century, however, some
of the British neo-Hegelians were arguing that all relations are internal. This thesis was closely connected with the coherence theory of truth that was also embraced by the neo-Hegelians.

In the US, Brand Blanshard, who was a disciple of Bradley, was a leading defender of the thesis that all relations are internal, notably in his 1939 book, The Nature of Thought. As such his thesis bore an obvious kinship with Leibniz's view that all truths are analytic as well as to Spinoza's idea that causal relations can be reduced to logical relations. Blanshard's own defense of this thesis focused on the argument that the distinction between logical necessity and causal necessity which most Anglo-American empiricists took for granted was in fact untenable. Since, empiricist philosophers derived most of their understanding of causality from Hume, Blanshard turned much of his firepower against Hume's analysis of causality. Many of
the connections between the thesis that all relations are internal and associated conceptions of causality were elucidated in the course of the debate between Blanshard and Nagel.

Concerning Blanshard, I once saw him at a commencement at Boston University back in the 1980s where he delivered the commencement address. He was well into his 90s but he was still writing and publishing in philosophy. For his commencement address, he delivered a learned talk
on the life of reason. As I recall, he cited his old friend, John Dewey, as an exemplar of the life of reason. He may have also said something about Bertrand Russell but I am not sure. I also recall, that he lambasted religious fundamentalism
and so-called "scientific" creationism. One thing that I am sure about is that his talk sailed over the heads of at least 95% of the audience at BU. I suppose that he believed that university commencement was a proper place for delivering a learned address. He probably also thought that universities were places for learning and scholarship. Imagine that! What cheek!

Posted by: Jim Farmelant | January 29, 2006 08:49 AM

Wow, Jim, that was quite a trip down memory lane. For the benefit of Notablog readers, I'll just post a few comments in reply.

First, thanks very much for your kind words of appreciation for the character and quality of my work. And it is certainly true that, in the arena of intellectual history, we often learn a lot about the approach of an author through his interpretation of other thinkers (see, for example, Isaiah Berlin).

As for your evaluation of Rand: you are not the first person who has characterized her as either "crude" or "dishonest," though I would certainly take issue with both characterizations. The thing that must be remembered about Rand is that she was not a "scholar"; she was a creative writer who authored many works of fiction. She was also a master polemicist who used fiery language in her many nonfiction essays. Some of those essays come across as "crude" only because, in my opinion, she had a penchant for getting to the "bottom line" of an argument with gusto, and not tracing every last mediation in that argument. But I do think that a more detailed discussion of her work shows immense subtleties and a dialectical dexterity that may not be noticed on first reading.

As for the "dishonesty" issue: I honestly do not believe that Rand studied many other thinkers, especially in her mature years. Peikoff certainly studied others when he was a doctoral student at NYU, but I'm not sure he studied any Quine at that time. I could be wrong, but I don't recall any references to Quine in his dissertation---which was written under Sidney Hook at NYU. And I also don't recall any coverage of Quine in any of Peikoff's courses on the history of philosophy. Dishonest? I'd need more evidence for that. I think it surely can be said, however, that it is deeply regrettable that Peikoff did not engage Quine's works.

I should note, however, that you're not alone in your assessment here. For example, there is one writer, Rob Bass (who has a forthcoming article in JARS), who has suggested that a case can be made that Peikoff had to have been "deliberately dishonest" in not citing Quine; see here.

On Nietzsche: I do think Rand admitted the Nietzschean influence---in a limited sort of way. But I think that since the release of Rand's journals and letters, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone to deny the important impact that Nietzsche made on Rand's thought. A forthcoming issue of JARS will actually be devoted to the relationship between the two thinkers.

And speaking of Brand Blanshard: Rand, of course, had wonderful things to say about Blanshard's work, and the two exchanged a note or two in the mid-1960s. Your mention of that commencement address was just precious.

Thanks, finally, Jim, for your discussion of internal and external relations: much appreciated.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 31, 2006 09:09 PM

A lot of this sails right over my head, but I am somewhat familiar with Nietzsche (for me, he's Oscar Wilde without the humor, in a way)--and I do sense from the little Rand I've read that he must have had an effect on her thought. I look forward to reading that JARS issue when it's out.

Posted by: Peri | January 31, 2006 11:19 PM

Speaking of commencements at Boston University. It was another one, a couple of years where the commencement address was delivered by the physicist, Carlo Rubbia who in 1984 shared with Simon van der Meer the Nobel Prize for Physics for the discovery of the massive, short-lived subatomic W and Z particles, thus providing experimental confirmation for the electroweak unification theory that had been developed by Steve Weinberg, Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salam.

In contrast with Blanshard's address, Rubbia's address had to be the most insipid and cliche-ridden commencement address that I had ever had the misfortune of sitting through. And given the quality of most commencement addresses, that's really saying something. I recall, that it was so bad, that even one of the public relations people at BU practically admitted to the Boston Globe that it was bad. Whereas, Blanshard apparently had an overly generous view of the audiences that show up at university commencements, Rubbia seems to have had nothing but contempt for his audience. Either that, or the guy was just plain lazy. But he struck a new low for commencement speeches.

Posted by: Jim Farmelant | February 1, 2006 02:38 PM



I've often told friends and correspondents that I am not a blogger. I am a writer and an editor who happens to blog occasionally. Even the name of this blog was born of a belief that it was "Not A Blog," though it has quite clearly evolved into one. It was for that reason that I altered the name of the blog subtly, some time ago, closing the spaces in its title and proclaiming it "Notablog."

I know there are many bloggers out there who comment on the events of the day ... sometimes on the events of the hour ... quite regularly. But I must admit that this sort of thing never truly interested me. How many times can I fulminate over this or that trend in domestic politics or foreign policy? How many times can I express my disgust with the Bush administration, while having equal animosity toward its Democratic "opponents"? How many times can I repeat the mantra that cultural change is a precursor to fundamental political change and that, for example, when you embrace democracy without certain cultural preconditions, you get majoritarian results in the Middle East that empower and legitimize theocratic, fundamentalist, and/or militant forces?

And so on, and so on ...

Though I don't post daily discussions on fiery political topics and substantive philosophical and ideological issues, I just don't see the usefulness of repeating myself over and over and over again about the same stuff day-in, day-out. And if I did, I'd get no other work done!

So, in its place, you get a "Song of the Day," that has run daily since September 1, 2004, except when I dimmed the lights for three days after my dog Blondie's passing. Yeah, you still get my thoughts on radical politics and my occasional fulminations, you still get articles and announcements, but, to paraphrase Emma Goldman: If I can't dance or sing, I want no part of the revolution.

Though I love engagement and participating in dialogue, I am curiously autocratic where my "Songs of the Day" are concerned: I continue the policy of closing those selections to all discussion because my choices are not up for debate. Yes, I can enjoy discussing the historical background of a song and the virtues or vices of a particular rendition, or even a particular artist or composer, and I do welcome private notes from Notablog readers on such topics. But I think it would be terribly counterproductive and awfully time-consuming to engage in a constant public reaffirmation of my musical tastes, which are quite eclectic, as Notablog readers regularly note. (They match my intellectual tastes, which are equally eclectic, since I've learned from the left, right, and center...) So, if you don't like my songs, or a particular song, fine. Get your own blog and make your own list! :)

In the meanwhile, if you don't see any non-Song entry posted on a given day, be sure to check out the lively comments pages. For example, the discussion of "Brokeback Mountain" continues, and should pick up steam as we enter Oscar season. I welcome additional comments on this and on any other subject open to reader input.

I should also state that I get lots of private email and I do answer every letter I receive. It may take me time, but I get to every note. And many of those emails are worthy of longer blog posts. But I treat private correspondence as personal, and unless I ask permission, readers won't see their private thoughts on public display here.

Occasionally, however, I get an email whose topic might benefit readers more generally. I hope to publish a few of these correspondences soon enough, including one later today on Rand studies.

So, for now, I just want to thank all of you for your loyal readership and your continuing personal support.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 07:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Blog / Personal Business Culture Film / TV / Theater Review Foreign Policy Music Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies


Sorry, Chris, but you _are_ a blogger. A web site with dated entries (as opposed to static sites such as your "favorite things") is a blog, and you have one, which makes you a blogger! And you don't need to apologize for the frequency of your posts, nor for your comments policy. You're doing us a favor by writing anything at all, and no one is forced to look at your blog.

Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | January 26, 2006 08:12 AM

Is it truly a blog? I'd rather think of it as a public music diary with occassional add-ons (totally free, but still high in quality). But hey, that's just one opinion :)

Posted by: Max Schwing | January 26, 2006 09:28 AM

Oh, and btw, I really appreciate the idea of your musical hints, because they again widened my own musical horizon to some really wonderful jazzy pieces from long before I was born :)

Since I am still in my twenties, I have been born with hip-hop, techno pop and punk rock, but never experienced the era of 70/80's Funk and Disco and earlier.
So, to me, the music alone was a win-win situation :)

Posted by: Max Schwing | January 26, 2006 09:32 AM

Hey, Aeon, Max, thanks for your comments. Admittedly, all those music entries sure do make it appear as if this is a music diary. Not a bad hobby, I think. :)

Aeon, thanks for the vote of confidence. I do get so many requests for my views on this or that, and many requests to post more frequently on political topics, and also many requests to open up my songs to discussion. I just wanted to write a general comment for the blog, addressing myself to these many requests. Now, instead of answering each request, I can just point people to this link. :)

I appreciate the sentiment, of course; and, of course, you are a blogger too! L&P is a better place for it! (And Notablog is always a better place when you comment here...)

As for "My Favorite Things": You're right, it does not have any dated entries. But, damn, I really must update it! It's Version 2.0 as of now; but Version 3.0 is calling me. :) Well, at least, Version 2.5 ... just to update a few links.

In any event, I do like your concluding thought very much: "You're doing us a favor by writing anything at all, and no one is forced to look at your blog."



Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 26, 2006 02:47 PM


Song of the Day #528

Song of the DayBehind These Hazel Eyes features the words and music of Martin SandbergLukasz Gottwald, and Kelly Clarkson, the first "American Idol" winner, who also performs the song. (And, yes, I've been watching the fifth season of the talent show.) This song has been played so much that it essentially grew on me. Big time. I now sing along when I hear it on the car radio. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 06:46 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 25, 2006

Song of the Day #527

Song of the DayVivo Sonhando was written by one of my favorite composers of all time, Antonio Carlos Jobim, who is our birthday boy today. The song is a melodic highlight from one of my favorite albums of all time: "Getz/Gilberto" (audio clip at that link).

Posted by chris at 06:47 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 24, 2006

Song of the Day #526

Song of the DayPoor Butterfly, words and music by John Golden and Raymond Hubbell, made its debut in the 1916 Broadway production "The Big Show." Listen to audio clips of this lovely song by Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae (who tributes Sassy), and a Sinatra-Ellington midtempo collaboration.

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

JANUARY 23, 2006

Mmmm ... Cushman Honeybells

I am not in the habit of making my site into a commercial affair, but I just got through eating a Cushman Honeybell. And this morning, I made myself a glass of sweet, delicious Cushman Honeybell juice with my breakfast. That's because we order these Honeybells every January.

What on earth is a Honeybell?

It's a hybrid fruit that looks like an orange... but is much sweeter than any orange I've ever eaten. In truth, this unique natural hybrid citrus fruit is derived from a Dancy Tangerine and a Duncan Grapefruit... and tastes like neither of them.

If you have never eaten this fruit, go to this link, and check out the produce!

And NO, I am NOT getting any kickbacks from the company. But you can't order these babies beyond the end of January. Act fast!

And now we return to Notablog...

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 07:09 PM | Permalink | Posted to Food

Song of the Day #525

Song of the DayOpus One, words and music by Sy Oliver and Sid Garris, has been recorded in a swingin' Big Band version by Tommy Dorsey and in a hit vocal version by the Mills Brothers (audio clips at those links).

Posted by chris at 07:23 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 22, 2006

Song of the Day #524

Song of the DayI Wish, written and performed by Stevie Wonder, went to to #1 on the Billboard chart on this date in 1977. His live performances of this song are the best, but the recorded version is terrific too. Listen to an audio clip here of the original recording.

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 21, 2006

Song of the Day #523

Song of the DayThis House is Not a Home, words and music by Dee Robert and Peter Monk, was first recorded by Nicole J. McCloud (audio clip at that link). I adore the recent version by Deborah Cox, one of my favorite contemporary pop/dance/R&B singers. Listen to an audio clip of her version here (though my favorite mix is the Tony Moran Anthem remix).

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 20, 2006

"Ben-Hur" on "Jeopardy"

Readers of Notablog know that I'm a fan of both the film "Ben-Hur" and the game show "Jeopardy." So my heart skipped a beat when I turned on "Jeopardy" at 6 pm (Satellite TV provides both a 6 pm and 7 pm slot for the show) and saw a whole "double Jeopardy" category devoted to the 1959 film.

I'm very easy to please.

And, yes, I knew all the answers... phrased properly in the form of a question, of course.

Update: I videotaped the category, but missed the first question, which, I believe, was pretty much the clue I use below. By popular demand ... any takers? (The clues give away a lot of info...)

1. He got an Oscar in the title role. [$400]
2. The role of Ben-Hur was reportedly turned down by Rock Hudson and this "Hud", son. [$800]
3. The film cutting ratio of this action sequence is over 260-1; for every 260' of film shot, 1' was used. [$1200]
4. Surely you know this "Airplane" star screen-tested for the role of Messala (& don't call him Shirley). [$1600]
5. This author of "Burr" & "Lincoln" did uncredited screenwriting for "Ben-Hur". [$2000]

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 08:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Film / TV / Theater Review Frivolity


Chris, I went 5 for 5 on that. Hardly seems worthy of the DJ round!

Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | January 20, 2006 02:48 PM

Like rolling off a log! Puh-leeze!

Posted by: James Valliant | January 20, 2006 03:48 PM

Those clues were "gimmes"!
However, I did learn some newe things about the movie from those clues. Newman as Hur? Neilson as Mesala? That would have been a completely different movie! I'm trying to picture it...naw, doesn't work.

Posted by: Peri | January 21, 2006 12:02 PM

hehehe ... speaking of Paul Newman, check out my additional comments on a possible adaptation of "The Front Runner," whose option rights Newman once owned.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 23, 2006 08:07 PM


Song of the Day #522

Song of the DayI Wanna Be Loved features the words of Billy Rose and Eddie Heyman and the music of Johnny Green. My favorite versions of this song are by Billy Eckstine and Dinah Washington (audio clips at those links).

Posted by chris at 07:49 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 19, 2006

The New Individualist and More News

Continuing with new announcements, I received the newest issue of The New Individualist, a publication of The Objectivist Center, which recently debuted a newly designed website. Lots of news in that sentence!

In any event, I enjoyed the magazine quite a bit and was impressed with the fact that it seeks to broaden its audience, publishing provocative essays by Objectivists and non-Objectivists alike.

I like the fact that there are many different publications in the growing Randian universe, each with its own character, and I read many of these periodicals regularly: The Intellectual ActivistImpactFree Radical, etc. I don't agree with everything I read, but that's not the point. The more important point is that Rand's work has inspired not a static intellectual monolith, but a dynamic, ever-differentiating marketplace of ideas.

Speaking of periodicals, I'm currently working on the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, which will include a multilayered discussion of Ayn Rand's ethics. It will be published in the late Spring. I'll have more to say about that issue soon enough.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Posted to Periodicals Rand Studies

The Industrial Radical

I've been a bit behind in my reading and my work in general, so I'm finally getting to a few new points of information. I was pleased to see Roderick Long's announcement at L&P of the new periodical, "The Industrial Radical," and not just because he states: "'Industrial' in Herbert Spencers sense, 'Radical' in Chris Sciabarras sense."

There is a very real need to reclaim the "radical" label in defense of liberty. As Hayek once said, "we are bound all the time to question fundamentals ... it must be our privilege to be radical."

Read up on this new magazine here.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 08:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Periodicals


Thank you, Chris, I'll have to check this out.

I have to admit that right now I am not "up" on your specialty, philosophy. I strongly believe in the rights and dignity of the individual and I find--well, libertarianism or "classical liberalism" beguiling (although I am so unschooled in such terms that I really ought not to throw them around carelessly)--and I feel that the ideals of the Founding Fathers were one of the greatest ideals in the Western World.

But believing as I do in the worth of every individual, I have not been able to figure out my niche! As far as collectivism goes, I think Oscar Wilde was correct when he wrote: "It is to be regretted that a portion of our commmunity is practically in slavery, but to propose to solve the problem by enslaving the entire community is childish." Delightful understatment, that. It is childish--and worse. But the coporatization of America and the world leads to evils, too.

I'm a registered Democrat because I fear the takeover of the Republican party by the Religious Right and corporations more than I fear the PC police and the looney left, but as far as I'm really not fond of either one right now.

As I've admitted, I'm not very well versed in political science and philosophy, but find libertarianism intriguing. In your discussion on the cancellation of "Reunion", you mentioned an sorely needed uplifting of the culture. If someone could give me a good arguement that free markets can stop folks like the CEOS of Halliburton and Enron and corporation-owned media, I'd jump right in.

Do you have any suggestions of good books for a layperson to read?


Posted by: Peri | January 21, 2006 09:37 PM

Hey, Peri, thanks for your comments here as well. I tend to think of my own specialty as "social theory," more than philosophy proper, but your points are well taken.

I understand completely your own anxieties about the Religious Right, and I understand as well your own involvement with the Democratic Party, despite your disillusionment with both major parties.

I, myself, am a registered independent.

I think the key to facing your own legitimate anxieties with regard to firms like Halliburton and Enron is to understand what role the state plays in creating the context for the abuses perpetrated by such corporations. There is much to be said about the nature of government intervention and the ways in which it both shapes and is shaped by the general culture into producing massive social distortions such as monopoly, business cycles of inflation and unemployment, and the globalization of these phenomena in the service of those business interests that feed from the public trough.

You might wish to consult a few primers on the subject. I discuss some of these in this post. On the issue of culture, in particular, let me add to those recommendations a book authored by Don Lavoie and Emily Chamlee-Wright entitled Culture and Enterprise: The Development, Representation, and Morality of Business.

I discuss some of these issues in my own book, Total Freedom, specifically in the later chapters, which take certain libertarians to task for not paying enough attention to cultural forces and the ways in which they shape markets (and vice versa).

You might also wish to check out two other posts of mine:

Capitalism: The Known Reality

Capitalism and Other Isms

Some of the material cited in the above links is more "layperson" friendly than other materials; if you have specific questions about any of the works in particular, fire away! :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 23, 2006 08:21 PM

Thank you, Chris, for your response. I'm also enjoying the comments created by your posting of Michael's e-mail to you. It looks like we both have a lot of reading to do! :-)

My concerns revolved around the individual and culture--how to create a culture that recognizes the worth of every individual without exploitation--my philosophy, insofar as I have one, was inspired by the Declaration of Independance and Wilde's "The Soul of Man Under Socialism"--which, of course, really advocates individualism rather than socialism in the end and is very fuzzy on the details(Wilde wasn't a "wonk"; he MAY have approached "Wonka".)

I'll comment more as I read and absorb your suggestions.


Posted by: Peri | January 28, 2006 10:57 AM

Excellent, Peri... I'm just an email or a post away, and will gladly reply to any questions or comments you have.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 31, 2006 03:59 PM


Song of the Day #521

Song of the Day(You Are My) All and All was written and performed by Joyce Sims. I once heard a live remix of this song at a dance club called Bentley's in Manhattan, and was utterly astounded by the DJ's skill. It was inspiring to me, as I was still DJ'ing parties back then in 1986. Listen to audio clips of various remixes of this percolating freestyle dance track here.

Posted by chris at 08:14 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 18, 2006

Song of the Day #520

Song of the DayIn the Name of Love, words and music by Joe Leeway and Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins, was a #1 dance hit in 1982. Same title as yesterday's song, but a very different end-product. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 06:42 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 17, 2006

Song of the Day #519

Song of the DayIn the Name of Love features the words and music of R. Williams and Sharon Redd, who performs this memorable Prelude dance track. Listen to audio clips here and here.

Posted by chris at 07:54 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 16, 2006

Song of the Day #518

Song of the DayAvalon features the music of Vincent Rose and the lyrics of G. "Buddy" DeSylva and Al Jolson, who had a huge hit with it in 1920, as did Benny Goodman in 1937. And on this date, in 1938, Benny Goodman performed this tune with his classic quartet, live, on stage, in the famous Carnegie Hall concert. Given the fact that today also happens to be Martin Luther King Day, it is all the more appropriate to celebrate the Goodman legacy in music. For years, Goodman featured both black players and white players in his various bands; a person's race mattered not. All that mattered was the person's ability to make great music. Goodman's Carnegie Hall concert continued his policy of racial integration in jazz. As for the history of this particular tune: it includes a bit of litigation. In 1921, Puccini actually won a suit against the writers, claiming that the melody was derived from "E Lucevan le Stelle." Listen to audio clips from Al Jolson, the original swingin' recorded version by the Benny Goodman Quartet, and a blazin' Natalie Cole rendition.

Posted by chris at 12:15 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 12, 2006

Blondie: 1989-2006

Blondie: July 6, 1989 - January 12, 2006

I'm heartbroken.

Update, January 16, 2006: In the comments section, here, I have responded at length to the many lovely public and private condolences that I've received since Blondie's death. My deepest appreciation and gratitude to each of you for your support.

Update, January 19, 2006: I have responded to additional comments posted by Notablog readers here.

Posted by chris at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (39) | Posted to Blog / Personal Business Rand Studies Remembrance


Very sorry to hear it -- my condolences.

Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | January 12, 2006 02:07 PM


I'm so sorry you've lost your friend.

Blondie looks much loved and well cared for. She's a lucky dog.

I wish you better days in the near future.

Posted by: Robin | January 12, 2006 02:39 PM


I am really sorry to hear this. As a pet lover, I synpathize 100%. Now I have to break this news to my wife who will be extremely upset. I am glad Blondie had a nice long happy life though.


Posted by: Technomaget | January 12, 2006 04:17 PM

Dear Chris:

I was just informed about Blondie's passing. I too am heartbroken, not only because I know of your deep affection for Blondie, but also because my few encounters with her were so touching, so memorable. She was a ray of sunshine, a perfect expression of love.

Please accept my deepest condolences.



Posted by: Donna | January 12, 2006 04:38 PM

Chris, My deepest condolences on your very sad loss. --Shawn

Posted by: Shawn Klein | January 12, 2006 05:14 PM


I too would like to express my condolences at Blondie's passing. Having lost a pet myself (albeit some years ago, during my teens) I am well aware of how hard such a loss can hit. The memories of course will never fade.


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | January 12, 2006 05:29 PM

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. I know she was very dear to you. You are in my thoughts.

Posted by: Peri | January 12, 2006 06:50 PM


Our hearts are with you. Our deepest condolences.


Michael and Kat

Posted by: Michael Stuart Kelly | January 12, 2006 07:23 PM

Dear Chris,

Oh, no. I'm really really sorry and you have our deepest sympathies. Both of you are in our thoughts with much love.

Posted by: Moira | January 12, 2006 07:38 PM


Oh no. I'm so sorry. I know you cared for Blondie deeply. I enjoyed the Holiday greetings from Blondie and the adorable pictures you shared with us. My heart aches with you.


Posted by: Mick Russell | January 12, 2006 08:26 PM

So sorry, Chris. Blondie was such a cute, feisty little pup. I'll miss her as well.

Posted by: Joe | January 12, 2006 08:37 PM

I'm so sorry, Chris. Deepest sympathies.

Posted by: James Valliant | January 12, 2006 09:36 PM

I am sorry to hear about. She was a beauty.

Posted by: Jim Farmelant | January 12, 2006 09:52 PM

I'm very sorry to hear that. My condoleances. I've lost a couple of loved cats and it breaks my heart every time.

Posted by: Mattias $ | January 13, 2006 04:46 AM

My condolences for your loss

I can tell that blondie meant a great deal to you

hang in there buddy

Posted by: Nick | January 13, 2006 08:17 AM

My heart bleeds for you and your family for the loss of someone who was truly special and lovable. You gave her so much love and affection. She now takes that with her to a place of no suffering as she runs freely in the green fields while she waits for the day to be reunited with you. I'm truly honored to have met her. I will keep you and her in my prayers. Call me if you need talk to or a shoulder to cry on. You can count on me.

Posted by: Ray | January 13, 2006 09:03 AM

Dear Chris, Hank and I were so sorry to learn about this. As animal lovers who have lost a number of precious companions, both dogs and cats, we feel your grief.

When you are able, please write an essay about the experience of sharing your life with such a delightful creature, who enriched your life for so many years. It will not only be a fitting tribute to Blondie, but will give you some needed closure.

Your friend, Erika

Posted by: Erika Holzer | January 13, 2006 03:20 PM

Chris; This is very sad news. The memories you have you can cherish and remember. My best. Chris Grieb

Posted by: Chris Grieb | January 13, 2006 03:24 PM

Oh no! I'm so sad to hear that.

Posted by: Roderick T. Long | January 13, 2006 05:10 PM

My condolences for your loss, Chris.

Posted by: Geoffrey Allan Plauche | January 13, 2006 05:37 PM

My condolences, Chris. I've experienced the loss of a very dear pet myself; as a matter of fact I've got an elderly tomcat now, a fat (and irascible) orange tabby, and dread the inevitable. But I'm sure you know Blondie felt loved with you and had a great life. No pet could ask better than that.

Posted by: Kevin Carson | January 13, 2006 11:43 PM


I'm very sorry to hear about Blondie. I'll miss her barking at me next the time I visit you in New York.


Posted by: Mark Fulwiler | January 14, 2006 01:03 AM

I am sorry to hear this Chris. I wish you a lot of strength. A few weeks ago we have lost our cat, I can imagine how you feel. Keep the memory alive.

Posted by: Henri Serton | January 14, 2006 05:10 AM

Sad to hear about your loss Chris.

Posted by: Neil Parille | January 14, 2006 06:57 AM

Let me add my condolences. My wife will be saddened by the news when I tell her; she had a crush on Blondie (who couldnt love a face like that!)

Posted by: Jason Pappas | January 14, 2006 10:21 PM

Oh Chris
I am so very sorry about Blondie. Whenever you wrote I imagined her on your lap and sharing your every word. Her doggie heaven just sent her to me to spread the love.

Posted by: Jane Yoder | January 15, 2006 08:32 AM


As a fellow dog-owner, I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I know how much Blondie meant to you, and I know what a happy life you gave her. Although I met her only twice, it was immediately clear that she was a truly special friend--as is her dad. To get you through the coming days, you might enjoy the pictures at In the meantime, Blondie's photo album will remain one of my favorites facets of your Web site.

My sincerest regards,

Posted by: Jonathan Rick | January 15, 2006 10:25 PM

I want to thank every individual person who has written to me personally, or publicly here on this blog, for your comforting words of support.

I've spent some time over the last few days regrouping, taking my time, going through the grieving process, and shedding many tears, along with my familymy sister, brother, and sister-in-law, all of whom have been deeply affected by Blondie's passing. I have spent time writing in my private journal toosomething I've done for more than 30 of my 45 years here on this good earth. It is a cathartic exercise for me to work through my sadness. And, in fact, this sense of loss is something that will always be with me, even if to a lesser degree in time. But as the old adage goes: Time does have of a way of healing us.

I have had enormous health problems throughout my life. And throughout that life, two pets have occupied a rightful place in my heart, while also providing me with the kind of loving "medicine" that no doctor could ever hope to prescribe: My cat Buttons, who was with us for 18 years, and who was a part of my life from elementary school through practically the end of my doctorate; and my dog Blondie, who was with us for nearly all of her 16 1/2 years of life. We lost Buttons in 1987; Blondie entered our home to stay for good in 1990 (before that time, she'd visited with us frequently and stayed with us for periods of time, while my dear friendher first "daddy"went on business trips). She came to us as Blondie and was always Blondie to us, but she learned to respond to a whole host of other nicknames, including Goose, Gosita, and Sutu.

Blondie sat on my lap for virtually every book, every article, every journal I ever wrote, edited, or published professionally over these many years. She was with me as a source of comfort and joy through some of the darkest periods of ill-health I've ever experienced; through the sadness of losing a dear uncle to cancer, through the five years of struggles taking care of my mother, who eventually died from cancer (and who Blondie also comforted day-in, day-out); through the devastation of 9/11 and all the craziness it inspired in the months and years thereafter. She was a constant presence, a given, a barrel of riotous laughs, exhilarating energy, and boundless fun. She had a limitless appetite. She sat at our table while we ate and slept in our beds. She loved the park and the beach, the way we did. She loved her toys. She loved getting new toys and she loved her treats. She opened her own presents with gusto at both Christmastime and her birthday. And she loved her stuffed animals, a little too much sometimes. It would make people blush when she'd mount her Cat in the Hat or the Grinch, putting on a show of thrusting hip action that would have easiily emasculated any male dogs in the neighborhood.

She was a remarkably sweet and unbelievably affectionate doggie. But she was also a Chihuahua mix with a stern Napoleon complex and protective bark that would keep strangers and dogs four times her size on notice: Do not venture beyond this point until or unless you have passed the sniff test!

Now, I don't want to over-intellectualize this brief remembrance, but I want to stress a great truth in my remarks here that should never be left unsaid.

There are surely important principles that one can uncover in the connections between humans and pets. And they are worth repeating here.

In his book, The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel Branden enunciated the importance of what he termed the "Muttnik Principle." In trying to understand the psychological and emotional needs met by human bonds, kinship, and companionship, Branden looked to his relationship with his dog. He observed something very significant in the relationship he had with his little wire-haired fox terrier named Muttnik.

We were jabbing at and boxing with each other in mock ferociousness; what I found delightful and fascinating was the extent to which Muttnik appeared to grasp the playfulness of my intention: she was snarling and snapping and striking back while being unfailingly gentle in a manner that projected total, fearless trust. The event was not unusual; it is one with which most dog-owners are familiar. But a question suddenly occurred to me, of a kind I had never asked myself before: Why am I having such an enjoyable time? What is the nature and source of my pleasure? ...

When I identified the answer, I called it "the Muttnik principle"because of the circumstances under which it was discovered. Now let us consider the nature of this principle.

My particular feeling of pleasure in playing with Muttnik contained a particular kind of self-awareness, and this was the key to understanding my reaction. The self-awareness came from the nature of the "feedback" Muttnik was providing. From the moment that I began to "box," she responded in a playful manner; she conveyed no sign of feeling threatened; she projected an attitude of trust and pleasurable excitement. Were I to push or jab at an inanimate object, it would react in a purely mechanical way; it would not be responding to me; there could be no possibility of it grasping the meaning of my actions, of apprehending my intentions, and of guiding its behavior accordingly. It could not react to my psychology, i.e., to my mental state. Such communication and response is possible only among conscious entities. The effect of Muttnik's behavior was to make me feel seen, to make me feel psychologically visible (at least, to some extent). Muttnik was responding to me, not as to a mechanical object, but as to a person.

And that response, writes Branden, happened in a way that was "objectively appropriate, i.e., consonant with my view of myself and of what I was conveying to her." As Branden explains, human beings experience themselves as a process over time; their own "self-concept" evolves as "a cluster of images and abstract perspectives." The act of being perceived by other living entities enables a person to have "the fullest possible experience of the reality and objectivity of that person, of [the] self." In Muttnik's responses to Branden, Branden "was able to see reflected an aspect of [his] own personality."

This, then, is the root of man's desire for companionship and love: the desire to perceive himself as an entity in realityto experience the perspective of objectivitythrough and by means of the reactions and responses of other human beings.

The principle involved ("the Muttnik principle")let us call it "the Visibility principle"may be summarized as follows: Man desires and needs the experience of self-awareness that results from perceiving his self as an objective existentand he is able to achieve this experience through interaction with the consciousness of other living entities.

I can only add that the achievement of such psychological visibility is maximized over time and that the level of interaction between human and dog over many, many years has, in my personal experience, led to some rather profound levels of such visibility. You get to know your dog, your dog gets to know you; the loyalty, unconditional love, and companionship offered in this connection are what have led people to call the dog "man's best friend" (though having been a daddy to a cat, I can tell you that there are a whole host of other lovely visibilities that emerge, distinctive to that species and its interactions with other entities).

Well, that's my intellectual detour for the day. It explains some things (though not all things, by any measure) and, to that extent, it is very useful to our understanding of the meaning that human beings derive from their relationships with their pets.

For now, however, it is not the intellectualizing of the human-dog relationship that is of prime importance to me. All that matters to me is the fullest, most honest, grieving experience I can muster; the need to mourn the loss of an irreplaceable value in my life. Blondie was that kind of value.

I miss you so very much, my little girl. I'll love you until the day I die.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 16, 2006 12:33 PM

I'm am so sorry to hear this even though you knew it was coming.

You are correct that there will always be a void in the place that Blondie once filled in your life. For almost a year, there has been a void in my life since my cat Scooter disappeared. He was most likely taken down by a coyote.

The way you describe Blondie's personality reminds me so much of my cat. He, too, was an endless source of entertainment and affection.

I enjoyed the quotes from Nathaniel Branden's work. I too have been amazed that animals when playing with humans or each other, know just how hard to bite without breaking the skin, just to show they are playing.

Being an evolutionist, I think the connection goes even deeper than what Branden describes. Their lives and their existence is not as divorced from our own existence as mystics would have us believe. The fate that befalls them is our own fate, they get here in much the same way and leave by the same path, yet they seem so much better adapted to enjoying their time in this universe.

Their present to us is their presence in the here and now, their constant sensual connection to all that exists within the grasp of their senses which are in many ways more powerful than our own.

I'm very sad for you but at the same time inspired by what you have felt for your four-legged friends in the past, inspired because you will in some way create that again. Think how quickly these "lower" forms of life move on to bond with another human when a loss takes their owner/friend away. I think that's another thing they teach us.

My thoughts are with you.

Posted by: Chip Gibbons | January 16, 2006 06:13 PM

I am heartbroken for you.

Posted by: Gayle Dean | January 16, 2006 08:44 PM

Our deepest sympathy for you! I am glad I was able to meet Blondie on our visit a few years back. Every time I saw a Chihuahua I thought of her! Rick and I have two dogs and the thought of losing them is unthinkable. Having Blondie for so many years, a comfort when you were struggling with your own health, losses, or projects, will be a wonderful memory. A wonderful vet once told me that dogs were angels on earth...I think he was right.
big hugs to you!
Karen & Rick Minto

Posted by: Karen Minto | January 16, 2006 10:02 PM

Dear Chris,

To those of us who own dogs, or owned them in the past, your pain at the loss of Blondie is fully understandable. My dog Takara died in 1979, a long time ago, but your remarks about Blondie brought all the pain back, brought tears to my eyes, brought the awful feeling that a piece of me had been torn away forever. My consolation lies in this thought: how wonderful it was to have something in my life that inspired such deep feelings. We all have a need for an outlet for a capacity to love, and that is one of the great gifts a pet can provide. Be grateful for the pain. It is the other side of love. Blondie's gift to you was the emotions she inspired in you while she lived--and inspired in you now.

Warmest personal regards,


Posted by: Nathaniel Branden | January 17, 2006 11:29 AM


My heartfelt sympathy for your loss. Blondie's gift to you was the love she inspired in you. That gift will remain. A chance to love deeply--isn't that something we all long for?



Posted by: Nathaniel Branden | January 17, 2006 11:47 AM

My computer's been down for a wk and I just saw this. So sorry, Chris.

Many of us have been there and been through that...and we probably will all go, willingly if not gladly, through it again; such is the way for animal-lovers, whatever favored (if so) animal-type.

I've lost a couple cats, kittens, parakeets, and dogs through accidents (one caused by me; I cried THAT night), bad-infections-thence-'put-down', gone-away-never-returning, chewed-to-near-death-thence-'put-down', etc...and vowed "Nope; not another one in my home."


Now I've a G-shepard mongrel who's an oversized 55lb 'puppy' from a Save-a-Pup place who already had the name "Nemo" --- Leave it to me to be the one who ended up 'Finding Nemo' and (sigh) keeping him! --- He loves chewing things (like, our satellite dish cable, audio-cassettes, DVDs, etc.) and barking at those he wants to go play with...but is frustrated by a fence or leash. He's noisy and what?

I know that no other pet will 'replace' Blondie (Nemo would have liked her, methinks; she's a sharp looker!), but, let not her memory interfere with a new companion in the future. Trust me on this: a new one will definitely not make you forget Blondie anymore than I've forgotten Tess, Shortstop, Pitcher, 'Eleven', 'Twelve' (so named by my wife so that "un-named" we wouldn't keep the kittens as pets...ha-ha), Mulan, and other older-times ones. --- Don't let 'the ghost' of Blondie limit your future companions.

There's times like this that I, in my non-atheist gloom-moments think "There's gotta be a better way to run this railroad" (which returns me to atheism), but, such is life: it's ending, and, that end's loss of joy for others.

Take care...and keep on truckin'.


Posted by: John Dailey | January 17, 2006 04:08 PM

Just an additional note of thanks to those who have posted since my previous comments were published here at Notablog.

Thanks to Nathaniel, whose work I cited here on the "Muttnik Principle," as well as to Chip, Gayle, Karen & Rick, and John.

Chip, thank you for your comments here, as I know how difficult it was for you when Scooter disappeared. And I agree that there are most likely deeper evolutionary connections between humans and their four-legged friends.

And, John, you're right about the process that we animal lovers go through: "Nope; not another one in my home." Only to find another one before too long.

I have had a history of pets in my life: a parakeet or two (called, "Too-Too" and "Too-Too II"), loads of fresh-water fish in quite a few aquariums (including one goldfish I won at a street fair that lived for about seven years and grew to a very large size!), my first cat Peppers, my first dog Timmy, and then, long-time pets like Buttons and Blondie.

The pain connected to Buttons' death kept us away from pets for three years, and I actually didn't go and seek out Blondie. She was first owned by a dear friend, for a brief time, who kept going on business trips. I was always driving over to his apartment to walk her, and, invariably, bringing her back to my house for extended stays while he trotted around the globe. It finally got to be so ridiculous that she came for a visit on December 12, 1990 and never returned to his home. And it was quite funny too. At the time, my mother was living with us. She was dealing with the nightmare of lung cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation. And she loved having Blondie sit on her lap. When it ended up that Blondie stayed through the Christmas holidays and the New Year, Mom finally asked: "But when is this dog going home?"

My sister and I broke the news to her: "Well, mom, this is her home now!"

And Mom was elated, as she had bonded so deeply with Blondie. And her first daddy, my friend, was just as elated, because he knew Blondie had found a better home.

Perhaps the day will come when another pet will grace our home. I know that if I ever walked into the North Shore Animal League, where Blondie originally came from, it would be like that "Honeymooners" episode ("A Dog's Life"), where Ralph goes to the pound to return a puppy, only to emerge with several other dogs to take home with him.

We'll know when the time is right.

Bless all of you for your kindness and support, publicly and privately.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 19, 2006 07:48 AM


Your essay so moved me that I posted an excerpt next to my essay on Wyatt, my miniature schnauzer:

All the best,

Posted by: Jonathan Rick | January 20, 2006 09:19 PM

Chris, I just learned of your great loss. Blondie must have been a wonderful companion to you. Please accept my condolences.


Posted by: Brant Gaede | January 26, 2006 05:55 PM

Chris dear, I'm so terribly sorry that you lost your little friend. I've lost beloved pets of my own, and I know the pain one feels. I was so glad to have met Blondie, and to have seen firsthand the gifts of sweeetness and devotion she gave you. Perhaps you can find som comfort in the knowledge of what a wonderfully happy life you gave her, and how much love, in return for the love she gave you.


Posted by: Barbara Branden | January 28, 2006 12:30 AM

I just wanted to thank the additional posters here: Jon, Brant, and Barbara. Your words of support are deeply appreciated.

My gratitude, again, to all those who have expressed their condolences, both publicly and privately.

All my very best, always,

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 31, 2006 03:58 PM


Song of the Day #517

Song of the DayBluesette features the words of Jean "Toots" Thielemans and the music of Norman GimbelThielmans first recorded this song whistling in unison with his guitar lines. Thielemans is a consummate musician, and my favorite jazz harmonica player too. Listen to audio clips of this song recorded by the Ray Charles Singers (aka Charles Raymond Offenberg)Mel Torme, and Thielemans himself (a live clip here as well).

Posted by chris at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 11, 2006

Song of the Day #516

Song of the DaySt. Louis Blues, words and music by W. C. Handy, is one of the great American classics. So many renditions to choose from, but I love a two-part version by Billy Eckstine. Check out also versions by Bessie SmithLouis Armstrong, and Benny Goodman. And also check out an audio clip of a small band version featuring vibes player Johnny Lytle (thanks Jeff!).

Posted by chris at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 10, 2006

Song of the Day #515

Song of the DayEvery Day I Have the Blues, words and music by Peter Chatman (aka Memphis Slim), has been recorded by many artists. I love the classic Joe Williams-Count Basie recording (an all-too-brief audio clip can be found here), but I also love another Joe Williams version, which uses the bass line of "All Blues." Listen to an audio clip here. And read more about the first recordings of the song as "Nobody Loves Me."

Posted by chris at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 09, 2006

Song of the Day #514

Song of the DayAll Blues, composed by Miles Davis, is from one of my favorite jazz albums of all time: "Kind of Blue." After "Blue Suede Shoes" and a Big Blue loss, I'll be in Blue for a few days. This classic features such players as Cannonball AdderleyJohn Coltrane, and the great Bill Evans, who contributed much to the modal approach to jazz featured on this recording. Listen to audio clips here and here.

Posted by chris at 07:08 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music Sports

JANUARY 08, 2006

Song of the Day #513

Song of the DayBlue Suede Shoes was composed and performed by Carl Perkins (audio clip at that link). Today, however, I highlight my favorite version of this song, recorded by The King, birthday boy Elvis Presley. Listen to an audio clip of this early rock and roll classic here.

Posted by chris at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 07, 2006

Song of the Day #512

Song of the DayJesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Cantata No. 147), composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, closes out this year's seasonal favorites, which began here. Listen to audio clips of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Josh Groban with Lili HaydnMerry Christmas to all my Russian friends!

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 06, 2006

Song of the Day #511

Song of the DayDead End Street features the words and music of D. Axelrod and B. Raleigh, with a gritty monologue by Lou Rawls, who performs the tune to soul perfection. When this Classic 45 came out, I took an instant liking to it because Lou Rawls referred to the wind as "The Hawk," a phrase my family had used for years. Rawls won the 1967 Grammy Award for "Best Rhythm and Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Male" for this recording. Sadly, the three-time Grammy winner passed away today. Listen to audio clips of the monologue and song here.

Posted by chris at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music Remembrance

Go Giants!

I am only a casual football fan; my passion remains baseball, and I'm counting the days to February 14, 2006. Yes, it's Valentine's Day. But it's also when pitchers and catchers report to Yankee Spring Training Camp.

As football goes, I grew up when the Giants and the Jets actually played in New York City. They were (and still are) called the New York Giants and the New York Jets... and yet, they play in New Jersey, and are on the verge of creating a new sports complex in the Garden State, where they will both continue to play.

But I still find myself rooting for Big Blue and Gang Green. I know that's sacrilegious; you're supposed to be a fan of one or the other. Like I said: I'm a casual fan.

In any event, my hopes for the Jets were dashed when poor Chad Pennington had another season-ending injury in 2005. But I still do like the future prospects for young Eli Manning (who just turned 25), Quarterback for the Giants, and I'm hoping for a Giant Sunday as the NFC East Division champs begin their playoff quest.

Go Giants!

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 09:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | Posted to Sports


There's only one NFL team in New York, Chris, the Buffalo Bills. I'm just sayin'...

Posted by: Aeon J. Skoble | January 6, 2006 12:50 PM

LOL ROFL... you and Tim Russert.

You know, tribalist that I am, because they are from New York State, I did root for them through all the heartbreak of the early-to-mid 1990s. Alas, my support just wasn't enough...

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 6, 2006 01:01 PM

I must chime in here. There's this little berg on the west coast that gets very little news coverage [or respect] unless there's an earthquake or a mountain blows it's top. LOL!

That may change come Superbowl Sunday. All NFC play-off teams must come to our house in Seattle to play the Seahawks! It's been a long time coming. It doesn't hurt that the great Shawn Alexander won the AP's NFL Player of the Year with good reason.

While I wish your teams well...I'll shout GO SEAHAWKS!

Posted by: Robin | January 6, 2006 04:24 PM

Their name is unpc but I will still root for the Redskins. What can I say.

Posted by: Chris Grieb | January 6, 2006 08:25 PM

Chris, as a native San Diegan whose father had Chargers season tickets since 1965 I have to admit I despise anything "Manning" ;-)

Don't get me wrong, I love New York; it's my spiritual home but I've been spoiled by the weather in my physical home town--and I love my San Diego teams. Must your teams keep rubbing our noses in the dirt? ;-) (or ice, if one remembers that notorious ice game back--Chargers at Giants--in the mid-1990's ).

Oh, my poor, poor hapless Chargers and Padres...the heartbreak of Chicagoans is well-documented, but where is the sympathy for the perpetually disappointed San Diego sports fans?

Posted by: Peri | January 7, 2006 01:38 PM

Chris, as a native San Diegan I must admit that the mention of anything "Manning" raises my blood pressure... ;-)

Don't get me wrong; I love New York City and consider it my spiritual home, but the weather in my native home town has a way of making one reluctant to leave it, even for my city of the soul, New York. Additionally, my father has had Chargers season tickets since 1965 and I was raised to be a true Chargers fan. Ah, New York's sports teams, Chris--ah, your teams! MUST they always rub the noses of San Diego sports fans in the dirt (or ice--going back to that notorious game--Chargers Vs. Giants at the Giants--back in the mid 1990's--which the Chargers miraculously won despite being pelted by ice balls)?

Much ink has been spilled over the heartbreak of Cubs fans--but no there's no sympathy for the die-hard fans of the Chargers and Padres... *sigh*

Posted by: Peri | January 7, 2006 01:48 PM

Good luck to all those left standing after this weekend.

Oy, that GIANT loss was hard to watch.

Now, as I was saying: Spring Training is on the way... :)

Till then, here's a song. Big Blue Songs for a few days, actually, starting yesterday.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 9, 2006 07:17 AM


Song of the Day #510

Song of the DayPopsicle Toes features the music, lyrics, and recorded performance of Michael Franks. It's not, strictly speaking, a "seasonal favorite," though it is in keeping with the temperature around these parts at this time of year! The song has also been recorded by Diana Krall and the Manhattan Transfer (audio clips at those links). But no version is as cute, clever, jazzy, and oh so sexy as the one featured on the Franks album, "The Art of Tea" (audio clip at that link). "I know today's your birthday," hot stuff! Much love and affection, happiness and health, always ...

Posted by chris at 06:35 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 05, 2006

David Mayer's Annual Report on "Prospects for Liberty"

Readers should check out historian David Mayer's whirlwind annual survey of the "Prospects for Liberty." Mayer examines everything from the "welfare-state mindset" and "the disappointing Bush presidency" to the threats posed by various stripes of fundamentalists (Islamic, Christian, "radical environmentalist," etc.). He also focuses some attention on the "Demopublican/Replicrat Monopoly" and the "Collectivist Bias of Intellectual Elites."

I always enjoy reading Mayer's work, and find myself in agreement with him on so many significant issues. Hardly surprising since I'd certainly qualify as among those he characterizes as "Radical Individualists."

Of course, it doesn't hurt that he cites my own work in his most recent survey. Mayer writes:

In an insightful essay, "Understanding the Global Crisis," published in the May-June 2003 issue of The Free Radical, Chris Matthew Sciabarra has written persuasively about the reasons to be wary of any long-term U.S. expansion in the region. As he has noted, "The lunacy of nation-building and of imposed political settlements which have been tried over and over again in the Middle East with no long-term success does not mean that there is no hope for the Arab world." Citing evidence suggesting a rising revolt against theocracy, especially among a younger generation of Iranians who "eat American foods, wear American jeans, and watch American TV shows" and thus are fed up with oppressive government, he adds, "I dont see how a U.S. occupation in any part of the region will nourish this kind of revolt. If anything, the United States may be perceived as a new colonial administrator. Such a perception may only give impetus to the theocrats who may seek to preserve their rule by deflecting the dissatisfaction in their midst toward the 'infidel occupiers.' I can think of no better ad campaign for the recruitment of future Islamic terrorists." Sadly, the story of the U.S. occupation of Iraq seems to have proved Sciabarras prediction to be right.

The United States and the rest of the Western world must use military force, as appropriate, to defend themselves against the threat posed by fanatical Islamists. Our past policies of appeasement toward Islamic terrorism have proven to be failures, but we should not adopt policies of overreaction that will be failure in the opposite direction. Of course, we are right to strike back against those who initiate force and even to strike preemptively or unilaterally against imminent threats to American security, as Chris Sciabarra notes. Nevertheless, I also find persuasive his argument that "America's only practical long-term course of action is strategic disengagement from the region," meaning the entire Middle East. Like Sciabarra, "in the long term, I stand with those American Founding Fathers who advocated free trade with all, entangling political alliances with none. If that advice was good for a simpler world, it is even more appropriate for a world of immense complexity, in which no one power can control for all the myriad unintended consequences of human action. The central planners of socialism learned this lesson some time ago; the central planners of a projected U.S. colonialism have yet to learn it."

Go read the whole of Mayer's article here.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 09:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Foreign Policy Politics (Theory, History, Now)


This is very interesting considering that Mayer tended to be in the pro-war category not too long ago. Looks like he has had a chance of heart after reading your analysis.

I bow to you as I do to Alec Guinness in Star Wars.

Posted by: Technomaget | January 5, 2006 11:40 AM

Thanks for your vote of confidence, Technomaget! And I really love Alec Guiness too!

If my expressed views had anything to do with David's thoughts on this, I'm delighted!

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 6, 2006 12:57 PM

"Sadly, the story of the U.S. occupation of Iraq seems to have proved Sciabarra�s prediction to be right."

If the opinion to the contrary last May by the independent London based International Institute for Strategic Studies, three increasingly successful elections in 2005, recent Iraqi opinion polls, declining US causualties, and dimminishingly successful terrorism within Iraq itself can't dissuade Mayer's opinion - surely nothing can.

The problem with libertarians' is to assume that Muslim's, especially those in tribal dominated and uniformly authoritarian Arab speaking world, are just like us. They aren't. We haven't been saddled with a religion where, in place of crucifixion, the downtrodden are offered "martyrdom operations" instead of benign symbolic sacrafice. That totalitarian regimes exploit this difference, sending venom to repeatedly attack (1993) and destroy (2001) our symbols like the World Trade Center, ought to teach us something about them if we had a mind to hear it. Yet we do not. Instead, Bush's Iraq policy has forced the region to have the civil war Islam requires to modernize, given their tradition of Jihad (see David Cook's "Understanding Jihad," 2005). Islamic exceptionalism remains the planet's enemy of peace and progress.

Furthermore, focusing on the uniqueness of American evil or its occasional military provocations does nothing to answer the violence and reactionary terror that surrounds the Muslim world and generates Islam's resistance to ongoing and successful economic globalization. This leaves libertarians' looking as irrelevant and anti-American as lefties, when we ought to stand empowered by our own unique alternative voice on the vital issues of the day.

Isolationism made sense when "liberty hath been chased round the world" and had but one home. Now it has many and an expanding domain. But in a day where the institutions of freedom like more capitalism and more democracy are seen as far more desirable in the less developed world than in the so-called "developed," our ears are too closed to other crying voices and we don't see how our interests coincide with their needs.

Only when libertarians' are allied with the liberation of the oppressed of the world will we stand for true liberty. As it is, we stand with the evil reactionaries and our voice is sadly silenced and missed.

Posted by: Orson Olson | January 18, 2006 09:55 PM

I don't think that "three increasingly successful elections in 2005, recent Iraqi opinion polls, declining US casualties, and dimminishingly successful terrorism within Iraq" is proof of US "success" in the region, because any "success" needs to be measured long-term, and the long-term "unintended consequences" or "blowback," if you wish, of this kind of intervention have yet to be felt.

Mind you: At this point, I am not even sure what "success" is in Iraq. If it is to "bring democracy" to Iraq and to the region, then, I actually agree with you: "those in [the] tribal dominated and uniformly authoritarian Arab speaking world, are [not] just like us." And until or unless there is a cultural transformation in that region, there is not likely to be any political transformation of lasting worth.

Moreover, I'd be a lot more optimistic if the US were promoting "institutions of freedom like more capitalism and more democracy," which, you are correct, seem "far more desirable in the less developed world than in the so-called 'developed,'" because the US, by contrast, promotes a warped neocorporatist political economy that is partially to blame for having propped up authoritarians in the Arab world, and for having given political impetus to the forces of fundamentalism.

On this last issue in particular, see my comments on, for example, the history of US-Saudi relations.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 19, 2006 07:19 AM


International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology: Libertarianism

As I mentioned here and here, I wrote an entry on "libertarianism" for the International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology. The entry surveys those who have contributed to a libertarian "sociology," thinkers such as Herbert Spencer, Carl Menger, F. A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Ayn Rand.

I am pleased, today, to publish that entry, with permission from Routledge, on my website:


Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P and the Mises Economics Blog.

Posted by chris at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | Posted to Austrian Economics Dialectics Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies

Concerning Herbert Spencer, the sociologist, Talcott Parsons, began his book, The Structure of Social Action, with the question,""Who now reads Spencer?" with the implication that nobody was reading him anymore. That proved a bit ironic, since Parsons, himself, in his later years, was one of the social scientists who spearheaded the revival of interest in Spencer, when he began to take social evolutionism seriously, probably in reaction to the revival of Marxism in the social sciences.

Posted by: Jim Farmelant | January 5, 2006 10:58 AM

That's very, very interesting, Jim. I wasn't aware of that. Thanks for sharing...

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 6, 2006 12:55 PM

See the Wikipedia article on Talcott Parsons which summarizes his work, including his later social evolutionist theorizing.

Posted by: Jim Farmelant | January 6, 2006 06:47 PM

Thanks, Jim; did a little surfing over the weekend, and came upon a number of sources that trace Parsons' "structural functionalism" to Spencer, and others. Some very interesting material comes up with a google search on Parsons + Spencer. See here.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 9, 2006 07:24 AM

Solid intellectual definition. Of course he could have said libertarians do not believe in initiating force or fraud against other individuals, and mind their own business, expecting others to do the same. Leaving it at that.

;-) Powell

Posted by: Powell Gammill | January 10, 2006 12:43 PM

Thanks so much for posting this. Ditto for the one on Marx, which I wish I could've read during college (not to mention MARX, HAYEK, AND UTOPIA). Excellent work, as always!

Posted by: Damon W. Root | January 11, 2006 12:57 PM

Thanks, Powell and Damon for your comments.

As for MARX, HAYEK, AND UTOPIA: It was my very first book, and having recently commemorated the tenth anniversary of its publication, I remain very proud of it.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 16, 2006 12:01 PM

Dr. Sciabarra, EXCELLENT WORK - you are an example of one who defies the adage that scholars are not good writers (YOU ARE A LUCID AND TRENCHANT WRITER)! I have a question, however. I will be attending a graduate sociology program in the fall of 2006. Is it "possible" - i.e. to complete course work with good grades, remain in good stead with faculty, and finish a dissertation - for a graduate sociology student to be overt about their libertarianism as some are in philosophy, pol. sci., and economics?

Posted by: Brian Pitt | March 6, 2006 06:33 PM

Brian, thanks very much for your kind words with regard to my articles in the IEES.

As for your question: Yes, it is entirely possible to complete course work with good grades, etc., and to be overt about one's libertarianism. I think the key here is this: As long as you are open to active engagement with those who have different perspectives, and show an ability to master those different perspectives, that is, truly understand them, I don't see any problem in an academic setting.

Yes, there will always be academics who are nasty, mean, and unfair. Avoid them. Try to find faculty with whom you can work and who will respect your viewpoint. Perhaps I should feel privileged, for when I studied at NYU, I studied with some of the finest Austrian economics scholars (Kirzner, Garrison, Littlechild, O'Driscoll, Rizzo, etc.), while also studying with some very important left-wing scholars (Jim Becker, Wolf Heydebrand, and my thesis advisor, Bertell Ollman). It is possible.

Good luck!

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | March 9, 2006 07:58 AM


Song of the Day #509

Song of the DayBen-Hur ("Star of Bethelehem"/"Adoration of the Magi"), composed by the great Miklos Rozsa, is perfect on the eve of the Epiphany. From my favorite movie, the 1959 version of "Ben-Hur," these selections can be sampled from the soundtrack album here.

Posted by chris at 08:05 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 04, 2006

International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology: Karl Marx

I just received my copy of the International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology from Routledge. Some time ago, I told the story of how I came to author two articles for that newly published reference work. The 2006 volume includes two essays authored by me: one on "Karl Marx," the other on "libertarianism."

Today, with permission from Routledge, I publish an HTML version of the essay on "Karl Marx." Given my comments today in this thread, I am happy that the essay on Marx highlights one of the most appealing aspects of his work: his use of dialectical method. Readers should point their browsers to the following link to take a look at the essay:

"Karl Marx"

Tomorrow, with permission from Routledge, I will publish my Encyclopedia article on libertarianism. Stay tuned!

Update: Speaking of dialectics, I should mention that Michael Stuart Kelly is running a site called "Objectivist Living," wherein he features a "Sciabarra Corner." He's also re-published some excerpts from an article I wrote on getting published. Readers might wish to check out the forum.

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

Posted by chris at 09:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | Posted to Dialectics Politics (Theory, History, Now)


Thanks for the mention, Chris.

In the Sciabarra corner, we are also going beyond dialectics - we are going trialectical!



Posted by: Michael Stuart Kelly | January 4, 2006 10:31 AM

Ralph Dumanin gives his rather unsparing take on Chris' article at:

Keep in mind that for Ralph to say about something that "it's not exactly horrible" is almost high praise coming from him, since Ralph finds most things in the intellectual world to be horrible or worse.

Posted by: Jim Farmelant | January 5, 2006 08:52 AM

:) I know Ralph a long, long time. He was always very helpful to me in pointing out some excellent sources for my research, and I acknowledge that input in my book, Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism.

I'm not quite sure how to reply to his criticisms here. With one breath, he says it's too philosophical, and with the other, he says that "the philosophical aspect was handled badly." Ouch.

Let's engage in a little context-keeping: It is always very difficult to write a less-than-2000 word entry on any subject, especially one so complex as Marx, which must touch upon who influenced him and those whom he influenced, his impact on economic sociology, the debate over "determinism," the importance of methodology, the various interpretations of his project, and the debates among modern expositors.

Invariably, one's selections for an article will meet with criticism in these instances.

As for my selections: I think Alexander was a good citation to satisfy the requirement that I focus on criticism of Marx and the various interpretive takes on whether he was a "determinist." I think Bhaskar, for better or for worse, does articulate a movement among Marx scholars to distinguish between Marx and Engels. And I believe Ollman's work is second to none in its appreciation of one of the most important aspects of Marx's corpus: his use of dialectical method, so significant to the character of his "economic sociology."

That's my take on it.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | January 5, 2006 10:21 AM


Song of the Day #508

Song of the DayJoy to the World (audio clip at that link) is a truly joyful carol, with words by Isaac Watts and music derived from George Frederick Handel ("Antioch"), arranged by Lowell Mason. Listen to audio clips from versions by Joan SutherlandAndy WilliamsElla FitzgeraldPerry ComoNat King Cole, and Mario Lanza.

Posted by chris at 07:17 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 03, 2006

Song of the Day #507

Song of the DayIt's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, a spirited holiday song written by Meredith Willson, made its debut in 1951. Listen to audio clips of various renditions: Perry Como and the Fontane SistersJohnny Mathis, and Dionne Warwick. Also check out the audio clip at the link for "Pine Cones and Holly Berries," from the original 1963 Broadway cast album for "Here's Love." Thanks Eric!

Posted by chris at 06:43 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 02, 2006

Song of the Day #506

Song of the DayAdeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful) (audio clip at that link) features the Latin words and music of John Francis Wade, with an English translation by Frederick Oakeley. Listen to audio clips of recordings of this uplifting melody by Celine DionBing CrosbyNat King ColeLuciano PavarottiMario Lanza, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JANUARY 01, 2006

Song of the Day #505

Song of the DayGreek New Year Song is a traditional tune sung in many Greek households on this day. An audio clip of a "New Agey" version of it can be found here, by pianist George Skaroulis. It marks not only New Year's Day, but the feast of St. Basil the Great (Agios Vassilis), one of the saints of the Greek Orthodox Church in which I was baptized: The Three Hierarchs Church, founded by my maternal grandfather (the paternal side is Sicilian): the Rev. Vasilios P. Michalopoulos. There is currently a beautiful concrete monument to him in front of the church. It would have been his "name day" today, and it's my sister's name day too (Elizabeth, derived from Vasiliki). A Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New YearChronia Polla!

Posted by chris at 12:03 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music