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JUNE 2020

JULY 2020




AUGUST 01, 2020

Notablog and Home Page: Born Again!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Notablog, which began on 26 July 2002, has been "born again," with its own domain name:

And it gives me just as much pleasure to announce that my home page, which debuted way back in the early 1990s, has also been born again, with its own domain name:

The "new" Notablog is not quite a blank slate. It does include a monthly index to the 3,058 entries that I wrote between 26 July 2002 through 26 July 2020. That index can be found here.

The home page has not changed much, though a link to my Facebook profile is now included. But if you check around the site --- which has not yet received any face-lift --- you'll find much more content, especially in the Essays section, which now includes links to over 150 essays.

These moves were necessary, given that New York University, which so generously provided me with space on its i4 server for nearly thirty years, is finally retiring that ancient server. My thanks especially to Jodi Goldberg for all her support and to Lec Maj and the NYU Web Team as well.

But it was time to make that move [YouTube link… you didn't think you were going to escape one of those music links, did you? The more things change … :) ].

I want to thank, especially, my dear friend Peter Saint-Andre, for his work, guidance, and support, throughout this period of transition. I couldn't have done it without him (and a few dozen calls to Tech Support folks with regard to domain and hosting services)!

Just one reminder to folks about the name "Notablog." As I stated way back on 15 February 2005:

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

Either way, I'm breathing a great sigh of relief that this project is finally Ready for Prime Time. The content will grow on this new incarnation of Notablog, even as you'll still have access to all the entries and comments from years past.


Posted by chris on August 1, 2020 08:38 PM | Permalink | Posted to Blog / Personal Business

Song of the Day #1801

Song of the DayThe Time is Now [YouTube link] was composed by jazz pianist David Hazeltine, who performs it with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster as the title track to his 2019 album. Enjoy this trio of ol' pros; they are so in sync with one another.

 | Permalink | Posted to Music

JULY 2020

JULY 26, 2020

Olivia de Havilland, RIP

On July 1, I noted that Olivia de Havilland had reached 104 years of age.

Today, Olivia has died---one of the few remaining stars from Hollywood's Golden Age.

As I noted on the first of the month: "From her films with the great swashbuckler Errol Flynn to her Oscar-winning turns in 'To Each His Own' and 'The Heiress,' she has provided us with quite a film legacy."

Olivia, RIP

Posted by chris at 05:06 PM | Permalink | Posted to Film / TV / Theater Review Remembrance

Happy Eighteenth Anniversary to Notablog!

Yesterday, I celebrated my 1,800th entry in "My Favorite Songs" with the Sonny Rollins tune, "Oleo," part of this year's Jazz Edition of my annual Summer Music Festival.

Today, the numbers "1" and "8" show up again: I am celebrating the 18th anniversary of the beginning of Notablog!

It was on this date in 2002 that I made my very first post, which announced the publication of an installment in the New York Daily News series, "Big Town Classic Characters: New Yorkers of the American Imagination," entitled "From The Fountainhead: Howard Roark," which was subsequently re-published by The Atlas Society. Since then, I've posted 3,057 entries on subjects from politics, culture, and social science methodology to sex, sports, film, and music.

I'd like to express my thanks to all my readers for your continued interest in my work. Watch this space for upcoming information on the migration of Notablog and my home page to new domains. That's going to happen very, very soon... we're talkin' soon ... because New York University is finally retiring its ancient i4 server, in which my current blog and home page are stored. Much more to come ...

Posted by chris at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Posted to Blog / Personal Business

JULY 25, 2020

Regis Philbin, RIP

Regis Philbin---who first made us laugh as a sidekick on "The Joey Bishop Show" [YouTube link] and on "Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee," and with Kelly Ripa [YouTube link] and with the game show "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" [YouTube link]---has died at the age of 88.

The man, who holds the Guinness World Record for most hours on television, was born in Manhattan, raised in The Bronx, and brought a classic New York sensibility to all his comedy. From the New York Times obituary:

"Aggravation is an art form in his hands," wrote Bill Zehme, the co-author of two Philbin memoirs. "Annoyance stokes him, sends him forth, gives him purpose. Ruffled, he becomes electric, full of play and possibility. There is magnificence in his every irritation."

He'll be missed. RIP, Regis.

Posted by chris at 05:39 PM | Permalink | Posted to Film / TV / Theater Review Remembrance

Song of the Day #1800

Song of the DayOleo is a hard bop composition by tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, written over the chord progressions employed by George Gershwin in "I Got Rhythm". Our 1,800th Song of the Day was first recorded by Miles Davis, with Rollins, pianist Horace Silver, bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Kenny Clarke, for the 1954 album "Bags' Groove." Check it out here [YouTube link]. Another notable Miles recording is featured on his compilation album, "1958 Miles," with the band that made "Kind of Blue," the best-selling jazz album of all time. This live performance features tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Check out that live version here as well as renditions by pianists Bill EvansKeith Jarrett, and Herbie Hancock, tenor saxophonist Michael Breckersaxophonist Eric Dolphy with pianist McCoy Tyner, and jazz guitarists Wes MontgomeryPat MartinoGeorge Benson, and Joe Pass.

Posted by chris at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JULY 23, 2020

Play Ball! Nats vs. Yanks as MLB 2020 Season Begins

This has been a truly ... OFF THE WALL year in so many ways. So why not start the Major League Baseball Season on 23 July 2020! Skip spring training, knock out 102 games, and play a 60-game season. Or so that's the plan.

Last year, I rooted for the Washington Nationals to beat the Houston Astros in the World Series, and was happy when they won. Tonight, it's the Nats versus the Yanks, and, well: All bets are off!

This Yankees Fan will be root, root, rooting for the home team, which is opening in the Nationals' home park, game starting in about a half hour. Nats #1 Fan, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is due to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Whoever throws the last pitch, no matter how crazy this MLB schedule is---as teams play in stadiums with no fans, piped in sounds and what-not---I say: Play Ball!

And Go Yanks!

Poscript (24 July 2020): Well, last night's game started out just fine. The Washington Nationals raised their 2019 World Series Championship Banner. Dr. Anthony Fauci threw the ceremonial first pitch ... waaay out of the strike zone (I think he ought to stick to his day job!). And Nats pitcher Max Scherzer struck out 11 Yankee batters---the first pitcher since 1893 to strike out ten or more in three consecutive Opening Day starts, which he did in the five-and-a-half innings that he was on the mound... before The Rains Came.

An electric show in the sky, the rain coming down, the game went into a rain delay, but new Yankee ace Garrett Cole had allowed only three base runners, giving up one hit (a HR) and one earned run, eventually going on to gain the win of the shortened game, 4-1.

The ESPN announcers were hilarious. Matt Vasgersian remarked: "Major League Baseball's Season Opener in a game delayed by rain. Heck, we waited 267 days for baseball, what's another few hours to get this one in the books?" Alex Rodriguez thought the rain might last 50 minutes or so, but observed that the weather went "all 2020 on us!" Indeed, the rain reached torrential proportions. Vasgersian saw the dugouts drowned in over two feet of water, "Oh my goodness! This looks sinister. Looks like bad special effects. A Roger Corman movie!"

The back page of the New York Daily News captured the Biblical proportions of it all:

Epic rain or not... the Yanks won. And the Mets Season Opener at Home---weather permitting---is today at 4 pm.

Posted by chris at 06:34 PM | Permalink | Posted to Sports

JULY 18, 2020

Song of the Day #1799

Song of the DayWaiting to Dance [YouTube link], composed by guitarist Jim Hall, is featured on a spectacular guitar duet album with Hall and guitarist Pat Metheny. The 1999 album, "Jim Hall & Pat Metheny," features an intimate musical dialogue between two jazz guitar giants.

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

JULY 16, 2020

Coronavirus (28): Sweden is Not New York

Jon Miltimore's essay "Why Sweden Succeeded in 'Flattening the Curve' and New York Failed" is, sadly, an exercise in comparing apples and oranges.

From the article:

If flattening the curve was the primary goal of policymakers, Sweden was largely a success. New York, on the other hand, was not, despite widespread closures and strict enforcement of social distancing policies. The reason New York failed and Sweden succeeded probably has relatively little to do with the fact that bars and restaurants were open in Sweden. Or that New York's schools were closed while Sweden's were open. As Weiss explains, the difference probably isn't related to lockdowns at all. It probably has much more to do with the fact that New York failed to protect the most at-risk populations: the elderly and infirm.

The article goes on to discuss the debate between the implications of different public policy responses to the virus. But I could not let this analysis go unanswered---without any justification one way or the other with regard to the pubic policy decisions that were made. I stated here:

There is absolutely no comparison between the Swedish and NY cases, regardless of the public policies adopted by either government. First, in NY, the share of COVID-related deaths in long-term care facilities was 20% of the total number of deaths (about 6,500 of the total of 32,000+ deaths in the state of NY). That means that the vast majority of deaths did not occur in nursing homes. Moreover, though damage was done early on, by putting recovering COVID patients back into nursing homes, that policy was influenced by the huge surge in cases at a time when not even the Comfort or the Javits Center were open to COVID patients (a policy that changed at the beginning of April). Conditions were evolving swiftly. Moreover, unlike other states that are experiencing a surge now, therapies based on steroids, plasma, Remdesivir, etc. were not in widespread usage. It's largely on the pile of bodies in NY that current medical advances have been made, sad to say.

Second, studies have shown that, at least in NYC, the highest transmission belt for the virus was its vast subway system, serving 5-6 million people per day prior to the city's curtailment of "business as usual" in mid-March and most of the communities that were disproportionately affected by the impact of the virus were minority communities, many of whose members continued to work and crowd the subways and buses, becoming infected and bringing that infection back to their families and neighborhoods. There is no similar density in Sweden (the Stockholm Metro typically serves one fifth the number of people compared to the subways in NYC).

Of course, I got push-back from one commentator who claimed, without offering any evidence, that in New York "COVID-19 has killed at least 11,000 to 12,000 nursing-home and assisted-living residents in New York, nearly double what the state admits to. And as the deaths mount, so have the lies and cover-ups. States like New York exclude from their nursing home death tallies those who die in a hospital. Outside of New York, more than half of all deaths from COVID-19 are of residents in long-term care facilities., even if they were originally infected in an assisted living facility." To which I replied: "Even if I accepted your statistic---which I don't---it does not explain the other 20,000 deaths that occurred in this state. Or are those lies too?" To which the commentator replied: "Covid kills nursing home patients for the rest it's the flu. that's the data. 77% of deaths in the US are over 65. 42% are nursing home deaths. NY at 20% lols. you're smoking some serious BS. for folks under 50 the mortality rate is statistically zero. NY state just published a statement saying their policies of sending infected patients back to nursing homes did not increase deaths. you believe that LIE too. get real. 20% OF DEATHS IN NYC ARE NURSING HOME DEATHS. TRY AGAIN. LOLS."

As I stated in my essay, "Lockdowns, Libertarians, and Liberation", too many people have been looking at this issue through ideological lenses that blind. So my response to the commentator was: "Conversation over. Have fun!"

Amazingly, the commentator subsequently deleted all their comments. This is the level of utter and complete stupidity that we witness from day to day; people who either downplay the virus, or continue to dispute the statistics, just puking up any numbers that come off the top of their heads, offering no evidence.

I should state that I previously addressed this nursing home disaster in several posts and comments, including this comment way back on 25 May 2020:

Well, if you listen to the folks at Fox News, Cuomo, Murphy, etc. purposely sent patients, who previously lived in nursing homes and were subsequently hospitalized for and designated as having recovered from COVID-19, back into the nursing homes from which they came. The Fox Folks claim that this was some diabolical plot to kill off the elderly population and/or to inflate the death tallies in NY and NJ, since many of those who were designated as "recovered" were still capable of infecting others. But yes, aside from the Fox Folks, there are legitimate questions about the wisdom of the policy of sending these patients back to the nursing homes---though it is not at all clear that the infection rate within nursing homes was strictly a result of this policy. Indeed, it is entirely possible that the spike in nursing homes was as much the result of nursing home residents coming into contact with asymptomatic infected staff.

The initial policy was adopted because the hospitals in NY were being overrun and taxed to a catastrophic degree, and when the USS Comfort arrived, and the Javits Convention Center (along with four other centers in the outer boroughs) were set up, they were opened to take in patients who were not sick from Coronavirus; they were to be places where folks facing traumatic medical problems unrelated to the virus could be cared for under "virus-free" conditions. The private and public hospital network were to shoulder the burden of the growing population of sick and dying patients from the virus, while these other places (the Comfort, Javits, etc.) would provide medical care for those not infected with the virus, but in need of urgent medical care (so-called "elective" surgeries were all postponed, but, obviously, there are many other medical problems that people face, for which they require treatment, in medical facilities that are not death traps for those with underlying pre-existing conditions).

Though the official reversal came at the beginning of May, the policy actually started to change at the beginning of April. It was at that time that the Comfort and the Javits Center were finally opened up to care for the overflow of COVID-19 patients. But, yes, the damage was done. And I suspect that's what Cuomo's mea culpa is about. He's certainly not in agreement with the Fox Folks that his policy was designed to kill people; but it was a policy that was shaped by the exponential growths in hospitalizations and intubations that were happening in late March and early April, until the state hit a plateau of 800-1000 deaths per day. Once it became clear that the healthcare network, as taxed as it was, would not collapse, and that these other facilities could take in COVID-19 patients, the practice of sending recovering nursing home patients back into nursing homes started to change. And extra precautions were put into place at the beginning of May. ... Clearly, mistakes have been made at every level of government; but it's a huge leap to characterize something that was a tragic mistake to viewing it as a criminal act. I live in NY; I've lost neighbors, a cousin, friends, and even cherished local proprietors, to this horrific disease. There's a lot of blame to go around; those most at fault, however, were the folks who denied that there was even a virus at work, that the whole thing was a hoax, and that one could just wash it away with a little detergent or by mainlining bleach.

While this is not the final word on this pandemic, I'd like to say to readers that this is going to be my last word for quite a while about this subject. I have devoted, now, twenty-eight installments to this issue, and if folks don't know where I'm coming from... that's their problem, not mine.


Postscript (17 July 2020): It should be noted that Sweden, whatever its intended policy aims, did not achieve herd immunity (see Scott Sumner's essay) and that the other Scandinavian countries, such as Finland, Denmark, and Norway have closed their doors to Swedish travelers this summer. By contrast, the hardest hit state of New York (in terms of the number of cases and the total number of deaths) now has an infection rate of less than 1%, relatively low hospitalizations and very few daily deaths from COVID-19 (zero for several days, 15 today, after a height of over 800!). Once the pariah of the United States, NY is now asking most travelers to the state to quarantine for 14 days if they intend on traveling here.

Oh, and I've also noticed that Billy Binion over at Reason has just published an essay entitled "Andrew Cuomo's Coronavirus Response Has Been a Failure." At least Binion gets the numbers right; but I think the piece is flawed by adopting the same nursing home narrative outlined above. It drops the context of the ever-changing facts on the ground, which I've highlighted here. And his comparison of NY deaths to other states' tallies also drops the context of time frame: The treatment options today are not the same as they were in March, April, and May. So, I'm left Shaking My Head (not because I'm a defender of Cuomo, but because I still see ideological blinders dictating Monday-morning Quarterbacking concerning an admittedly flawed response to a virulent pandemic---flawed partially because hindsight is always 20/20).

On these issues, readers should check out various posts on Policy of Truth by Irfan Khawaja, to which I've contributed some comments along the way, especially hereherehere, and here (the last of which applies some Hayekian insights on local knowledge to the issues in question).

Postscript (30 July 2020): To all those who would like to be a part of massive COVID parties so that "we" can all get "herd immunity", please check out these two articles on, which should at least give you folks some pause---given the fact that there are still so many "unknowns" with regard to COVID-19:

1. "My patient caught Covid-19 twice. So long to herd immunity hopes? Emerging cases of Covid-19 reinfection suggest herd immunity could be wishful thinking" and

2. "The stark differences in countries' coronavirus death rates, explained."

Postscript (15 August 2020): For those who doubt the horrific impact of the pandemic on New York City, check out this NY Times article, which states, in part:

In N.Y.C.'s Spring Virus Surge, a Frightening Echo of 1918 Flu

"In March and April, death rates rivaled those seen during the country's deadliest pandemic, a new study finds. 'What 1918 looked like is basically this.'... Amid a pandemic, it can be difficult to determine an exact cause of death, even with sophisticated diagnostic tools. So Dr. Faust and his colleagues compared data for 'all-cause mortality'---deaths from any cause---in New York City during two pandemic periods. Nearly 33,500 people died in New York City between March 11 and May 11 of this year, according to the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. With a total population of nearly 8.3 million, this amounts to an incident rate of 202.08 deaths per 100,000 person-months---a standard way of denoting deaths over time. The overall death rate in those 61 days was more than four times the rate in the corresponding periods in 2017 through 2019. The researchers then looked at deaths in October and November of 1918, the peak of the city’s flu outbreak.... Dr. Faust identified 31,589 deaths among 5.5 million city residents, for an incident rate of 287.17 deaths per 100,000 person-months. This number was nearly three times higher than the city's death rate in the previous three years. In all, the death rate in the city last spring was about 70 percent of that seen in 1918. When the epidemic hit in 1918, the spike in deaths was not as shocking to the city as it was in 2020. At the time, the increase in deaths was less than three times higher than the previous year’s toll, the researchers noted, whereas 2020's rise was more than four times higher than 2019's figure. Simply put, life was riskier a hundred years ago."

Posted by chris at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Posted to Politics (Theory, History, Now)

JULY 13, 2020

The Dialectics of Liberty: Review in "The Independent Review"

The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom has been reviewed in the pages of The Independent Review (Summer 2020). The review, written by Kathleen Touchstone, can be found here. Keep up with the flow of reviews (many are forthcoming!) here.


Kathleen Touchstone writes:

"The Dialectics of Liberty . . . includes eighteen essays written by nineteen authors. The essays draw from a variety of disciplines which include aesthetics, economics, psychology, history, and philosophy. It is the first collection of works on this subject by scholars with this range of disciplinary diversity. Dialectics of Liberty represents an important contribution in advancing dialectical libertarianism."

After surveying all the essays in the book, Touchstone offers a comprehensive discussion of the various themes. She concludes:

"Challenges to freedom of speech and other cultural changes are in need of systematic analysis. Dialectics of Liberty offers perspectives from authors spanning a variety of disciplines on how this analysis could proceed for those willing to take up this challenge. I invite those interested to read DOL. The invitation is not limited to practitioners. The book covers a variety of subjects. There is something to interest virtually anyone."

Posted by chris at 04:20 PM | Permalink | Posted to Dialectics Periodicals Politics (Theory, History, Now) Remembrance

Decal of the Day

In-between editing papers for the forthcoming December 2020 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, editing links on my home page in preparation for the forthcoming migration of my site to a new server, and conducting an interview for another installment in my WTC Remembrance series (to be published on 11 September 2020)... I took an afternoon constitutional.

And with the streets of Gotham relatively quiet, I came upon the Decal of the Day, which I couldn't take a snapshot of, but which I found online.


It gave me a much-needed chuckle.

Posted by chris at 02:38 PM | Permalink | Posted to Blog / Personal Business Frivolity Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies Religion Remembrance

JULY 11, 2020

Song of the Day #1798

Song of the DayAfternoon [mp3 link], words and music by Philip Verdi and Joanne Barry, is featured on the album "Holding On," with Carl Barry on guitar, Steve LaSpina on bass, and Eliot Zigmund on drums. The fact that Joanne is my sister-in-law and Carl is my brother [YouTube channel link] has nothing to do with it! Nepotism aside, they're great! And I can't think of a lovelier way to spend a summer's afternoon than to take in the sounds of their love for the music and each other. (And while you're at it, check out a few of their other recorded tracks, including "My Favorite Things," "Rollercoaster" (an original), "Embraceable You," "Empty Faces," "Autumn Leaves," and Carl's trio on "Footprints" [site links].)

Posted by chris at 12:20 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

JULY 08, 2020

Long Overdue Thanks for Pod Shout-Outs

I have been so busy meeting deadlines, and have not had an opportunity to express some long overdue appreciation to several colleagues and friends for giving me a shout-out in their various podcasts.

o To Steve Horwitz who mentioned me in an interview with Ari Armstrong, while discussing his book, Hayek's Modern Familyhere (16 February 2020).

o To Anastasiya Vasilievna Grigorovskaya who mentioned me in her talk, "Ayn Rand's Artistic Work in the Russian Context" at the Ninth International Conference of the Hayek Institute and the European University (Center for Modernization Studies) on "Capitalism and Freedom" (live streamed on 20 June 2020) here (yes, it's in Russian!).

o To Daniel Bastiat who discusses some points from my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical on his "Stateless Atheist" podcast, "7 Things Atheists Should Stop Saying" here (7 July 2020).

o To Sheldon Richman, whose talk, "Context-Keeping and Community Organizing" (which also appears in the superb volume Markets Not Capitalism [pdf link]), mentions my dialectical method here (1 June 2015).

o To Pasquale Cascone, my neighbor downstairs, who is co-host of the "Majority Rules, NY" podcast, who gave a shout-out to me, during a 27 June 2020 discussion of "They Say Opposites Attract?", here. (It's a really entertaining show! Check out past episodes!)

I encourage listeners to subscribe to all the channels of the folks above! And thanks again!

Postscript: Oh, and thanks to this sweet squirrel for making my day!

Posted by chris at 07:55 PM | Permalink | Posted to Austrian Economics Blog / Personal Business Education Frivolity Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies Sexuality

Dialectical Thinking in The New York Daily News

I've been working really hard on deadlines, and have fallen a bit behind in my reading. But I finally got to the July 3, 2020 issue of New York's Hometown Paper: The New York Daily News. And I came to the op-ed essay by Eli Merritt, entitled "How To Remember the Founders" (also found at the History News Network) ... and my jaw dropped. Merritt is a visiting scholar at Vanderbilt completing a history of the founding period entitled Disunion Among Ourselves: How North-South Compromise Saved the American Revolution. I have no idea how much we might agree or disagree on any number of issues, but, as you'll see from the excerpt below, he had me at "dialectical thinking."

As many folks know, I've been championing the virtues of dialectical thinking for the better part of four decades now. But too much of that discussion has gone on in scholarly circles. So it was a breath of fresh air to see Merritt's application of a more contextually sensitive approach to understanding the American founders. Whether or not you agree with Merritt's characterizations or conclusions, I think he's spot on with regard to how to approach these issues, something that I drove home in my recent post, "On Statues, Sledgehammers, and Scalpels." Here's a dose of what Merritt has to say:

Over the past several decades, the Founding Fathers have fallen severely out of favor. Once revered as the trailblazers of American liberty and equality, they are now often denounced as the nation's patriarchal and racist architects of white male supremacy. Statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are under attack, sometimes literally. Especially for the original sin of slavery, whether as practitioners of it themselves or as willing conspirators in its perpetuation in the Constitution, the Founders are held up as objects of censure, not honorary celebration, including on the Fourth of July. ... [W]here does the reality of the Founders' racism and barbaric practice of slavery leave a history-conscious nation?

After grappling with this question for years, I find only one way out of the grievous moral morass of our founding history. It is dialectical thinking. This method of analyzing historical questions contrasts with dichotomous or all-or-nothing thinking, in which the thinker makes binary judgments based on formulas of "right or wrong" and "good or bad." In dialectical thinking, we tolerate the cognitive dissonance of holding opposing, contradictory viewpoints in our minds at the same time, such as the proposition that Washington and Jefferson were immoral and corrupt slaveowners and, simultaneously, fierce and brilliant dissenters who established equality and justice as our nation's founding principles.

In fact, once we subject our analysis of the founding period to the dialectical method, we can marvel at the unity of our history from the toppling of the statue of King George III in New York City in 1776 to the toppling of Confederate and other white-dominant statues across the country today. Opening our minds to historical paradox, we discover that, in spite of the horrors of the past and present, Americans are philosophically one people with one narrative. Our common narrative centers on the undying fight for equality and justice for an ever-widening circle of "We the People."

What Merritt drives home in this thoughtful essay is essentially the central motif of dialectical thinking, which requires us to pay attention to the larger context. When we do look at things from different vantage points and on different levels of generality, and as we broaden the scope of our inquiry, we tend to move away from what psychologists in the cognitive-behavioral field characterize as cognitive distortions. Such distortions include: All or Nothing Thinking; Overgeneralizing (for example, thinking that if one thing goes wrong, everything must go wrong); Mentally Filtering Our Experiences (viewing an entire experience through either a fully positive or fully negative lens); Catastrophizing (magnifying a single aspect to the detriment of the wider context); and Jumping to Conclusions (taking a single factor as universal and rendering a judgment that drops the wider context).

I think that what Merritt puts his finger on is something that dialectical thinkers have understood, from Aristotle to Hegel (and Hegel himself saw Aristotle as "the fountainhead" of dialectical method). As I write in Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism:

One of Hegel's distinctive concepts in this regard is the notion of aufheben, which, Hegel tells us, "has a twofold meaning in the language: on the one hand it means to preserve, to maintain, and equally it also means to cause to cease, to put an end to." [It] has been translated on occasion as "to supersede." ... Hegel occasionally uses the phrase "erhalten und verklaren," which means, more broadly, "to preserve, transfigure, or illuminate" [sometimes rendered as] "to sublate," which means to cancel, abolish, or annul---and, simultaneously, to preserve. This translation has become standard. ... To sublate, then, actually has three cognitive implications: to cancel, to preserve, and to elevate or transcend. [It can be compared to] the English phrase "to put aside." To put something aside "may mean to put it out of the way, to have done with it, abolish it. Or it may mean to put it aside for future use, to keep and preserve it." "To sublate" embodies both of these meanings, taken together.

So, in a sense, when we look at any historical event or social problem, even when every aspect of our moral conscience tells us to cancel, abolish, annul ... there is a moment when we need to take pause and move away from "all or nothing thinking." Because it is equally important to preserve, elevate, and transcend. And dialectical thinking about any event or problem offers us the tools by which to get that job done ... with scalpels, rather than sledgehammers.

It's a good article, whatever your perspective on current events; I recommend it to your attention.

Posted by chris at 05:06 PM | Permalink | Posted to Culture Dialectics Politics (Theory, History, Now)

JULY 06, 2020

Song of the Day #1797

Song of the DayThe Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (Main Theme) was composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone for the Sergio Leone-directed 1966 epic Spaghetti Western film. Today, Ennio Morricone, one of the most prolific film score composers of his generation, died at the age of 91. Check out the original soundtrack version and the 1968 Hugo Montenegro hit version [YouTube links]. Then, in keeping with our Summer Music Festival (Jazz Edition), check out, from the 2007 tribute album, "We All Love Ennio Morricione" this Quincy Jones-Herbie Hancock collaboration, and a truly superb live jazz interpretation featuring Herbie, Steve Woods, and Patti Austin [YouTube links].

Posted by chris at 06:45 PM | Permalink | Posted to Film / TV / Theater Review Music Remembrance

JULY 05, 2020

Independence Day Fireworks: A Tribute to the Spirit of New York

For those who didn't catch the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Display... check it out here (cued to the beginning of the show).

It was staged throughout the week and combined with live footage, extending from Times Square to the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty to Brooklyn's own Coney Island (where the Wonder Wheel is celebrating its 100th anniversary ... ). And with a little "New York, New York" thrown in from < href="">Ol' Blue Eyes for good measure, it was as much a tribute to the resilience of the people of New York (and its first responders) as it was to the 244th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Posted by chris at 02:03 PM | Permalink | Posted to Culture Film / TV / Theater Review Politics (Theory, History, Now) Remembrance

Song of the Day #1796

Song of the DayPrelude No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor (from "Three Preludes"), composed by Brooklyn-born George Gershwin, is illustrative of the uniquely American integration of classical and jazz idioms in a superb instrumental setting. The composer himself premiered the work at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1926. Check out recordings of this piece by Gershwin himself [YouTube link] and as later interpreted in 1959 (on the album "Brazilliance, Volume 3") by guitarist Laurindo Almeida and alto saxophonist Bud Shank, who, on this track plays the flute [YouTube link]. It was also given a fabulous treatment by Dave Grusin on his #1 Grammy-winnning Billboard Jazz Album, "The Gershwin Connection", featuring an all-star band, including Chick Corea (keyboards), Lee Ritenour (guitar), John Pattitucci (bass), Gary Burton (vibes), Dave Weckl and Harvey Mason (drums), and Eddie Daniels (clarinet). Check out this wonderful rendition [YouTube link].

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

JULY 04, 2020

Song of the Day #1795

Song of the DayWhen Johnny Comes Marching Home Again has a history of varied origins, but was most likely written by Irish-American bandleader Patrick Gilmore during the American Civil War. The song was sung by people North and South who yearned for the return of their friends and relatives from the field of battle (though it was later used by Ulysses S. Grant as a campaign song with lyrics promising to leave the KKK "a-tremblin' in their shoes"). This staple of the Independence Day Songbook was even resurrected by later generations and immortalized in World War II films such as "Stalag 17" [YouTube link]. In keeping with our Summer Music Festival (Jazz Edition), there are at least two notable renditions: a classic take by the Andrews Sisters and a swinging scorcher by jazz organist Jimmy Smith [YouTube links] (with Quentin Warren on guitar and Donald Bailey on drums). Americans mark this as the day on which the colonists---imperfect as they were---pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in declaring their independence from the British Empire. The project of this country's founding remains incomplete, but forever emancipatory. I yearn for the day when all the Johnnies, Janes, and everyone in-between come marching home again---in a world of peace and freedom. Have a Happy and Safe Independence Day!

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Culture Film / TV / Theater Review Music Politics (Theory, History, Now) Remembrance

JULY 02, 2020

Sign O' The Times

Stephan Pastis hits another HR with this "Pearls Before Swine" installment:

Posted by chris at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Posted to Culture Frivolity Politics (Theory, History, Now)

JULY 01, 2020

Celebrating Lives and Legacies

When Carl Reiner (March 20, 1922-June 29, 2020) died the other day at the age of 98, the actor, comedian, director, screenwriter, and author left behind a legacy of uproarious hilarity. I was first exposed to him in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (and CBS will be airing back-to-back colorized episodes of the show on Friday, July 3 at 8 pm ET!). I greatly enjoyed his many movies and television specials over the years.

Today, another legend from Reiner's generation is celebrating a birthday. Olivia de Havilland, one of the few surviving stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, turns 104! From her films with the great swashbuckler Errol Flynn to her Oscar-winning turns in "To Each His Own" and "The Heiress," she has provided us with quite a film legacy.

So I'm celebrating two lives tonight... and two legacies.

Posted by chris at 08:15 PM | Permalink | Posted to Culture Film / TV / Theater Review Remembrance