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April 17, 2014

L. Jay Oliva, RIP

It is with great sadness that I report the passing today of L. Jay Oliva, who served as the 14th President of New York University, from 1991 through 2002, and whose tenure overlapped my years as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Politics. But I knew Oliva for many years as author and editor of numerous works on Russian and European History. I had received my B.A. in economics, politics, and history with honors, and had many occasions to interact with him as I completed my undergraduate honors thesis in the Department of History. As a perennial student of the University, a recipient of an NYU BA (in the triple major), MA (in politics) and Ph.D. in political theory, philosophy, and methodology, I like Oliva simply bled violet, and he knew this. He was especially enthusiastic about the work I had planned and commenced in my post-doctoral years on Ayn Rand's early education during one of the most tumultuous times in Russian history, and expressed serious interest in the book that eventually became Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, whose first edition I inscribed to him as a gift. He had already given me gifts of support and encouragement that were incalculable. I knew him as a man with a remarkable sense of humor and a humane, hugely benvolent sense of life. I deeply mourn his passing.

Here's more on Oliva from Martin Lipton, Chair of the NYU Board of Trustees and John Sexton, current President of the University, in a memorandum sent to the friends and fellow members of the NYU community this evening:

We share with you this evening the sad news that L. Jay Oliva -- who served NYU for 42 years as faculty member, dean, vice president, chancellor, and president -- has died.
The NYU we know today -- the NYU that attracts the finest students from all over the world, that can go head-to-head to recruit scholars at the top of their fields, that sends more students to study abroad than any other, that is a member of the University Athletic Association -- would not have been possible without Jay Oliva. He was a key engineer of the transformation of NYU.
Jay sometimes referred to himself as the person who lowered the NYU flag for the last time at the University Heights campus in the Bronx. But where others would have seen only reason for discouragement, he saw opportunity. From that difficult and humbling moment, he emerged as one of the leaders of the generation of faculty, trustees, and administrators who charted a steady upward trajectory for NYU.
He knew our future lay in joining the top ranks of national research universities. Under his leadership, NYU began recruiting top scholars and building areas of academic strength. He oversaw the expansion of student housing that allowed us to welcome students from across the country and throughout the world. He parlayed the seemingly unlikely gift of an estate in Florence into the foundation of a new approach to global learning. He knew that NYU’s vision must be matched by resources, and during his presidency, NYU completed the first $1 billion fundraising campaign in higher education. He believed that athletics had an important role in a university setting, but that the ideal of the true student-athlete was too often not embraced; so he, along with a group of like-minded presidents intent on keeping academic life front and center, formed the University Athletic Association conference.
In short, he sensed when NYU's moment had arrived, and did everything possible to achieve and sustain that success. All the while, he made everyone -- students, faculty members, administrators, and staff -- feel a part of it.
With the reflexes and instincts of the long-time classroom teacher he was, he had a strong focus on students: he believed in high academic standards, and emphasized adhering to those standards in the students we admitted and graduated. Recognizing the diversity of ways in which NYU students succeed, he also cheered on our athletes -- he was a frequent presence at sporting events -- our performing artists -- in whose company he was an occasional presence on stage -- and our student community service volunteers -- with whom he worked on service projects.
Since retiring from the presidency, he has helped keep downtown a vibrant hub for culture through his leadership of the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, which has hosted not only NYU productions but performing artists from throughout the world.
He was a wise man, a good friend to both of us, a wonderful colleague, and, in many ways, our community’s first citizen. He spent his entire professional life at NYU, part of a generation that saw the University through some of its most profound challenges and went on to take it to unprecedented heights. NYU owes Jay Oliva a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid.
His death came too soon and too suddenly. We grieve with his family today, and on behalf of the NYU community, offer them our deepest sympathies. He helped build a great institution, and he did so with love, devotion, and energy. It is hard to think of a way a life could be better spent. The greatest way to honor him is to carry on his work -- to strive each and every day to sustain the academic momentum he did so much to help initiate.

Amen.

February 17, 2014

Song of the Day #1169

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur ("Salute for Messala") [audio clip at that link] is a 10-second cue composed by the legendary Miklos Rozsa, which is heard in the 1959 MGM epic upon the arrival of Judah Ben-Hur's childhood friend, Messala, who has returned to Jerusalem, a tribune of Rome, ready to assume command of the Roman garrison. To me, despite the flaws and corruptions that have engulfed the soul of the man who becomes Ben-Hur's nemesis, this particular cue, designed to express the requisite regality, also expresses strength of character and certainty of purpose. And it was a cue that never showed up on the umpteen versions of this film's soundtracks that had been released since the film's 1959 debut. That was rectified in 2013 by FSM Golden Age Classics, with the release of an utterly definitive 5-CD collection illustrating the complete brilliance of Rozsa's Oscar-winning score, one of the 11 Oscars that remains an Academy Award record (tied, but never bested by "Titanic" and "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"). Since the beginning of Notablog, I've highlighted many cues from this soundtrack. Of this, one can be certain: On February 17th of any year, you'll find a "Ben-Hur" selection: in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and the tradition continues today. It's my 54th birthday, after all, and it allows me to offer an annual salute to my all-time favorite movie and my all-time favorite score.

October 17, 2013

Song of the Day #1142

Song of the Day: You'll Never Walk Alone, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, is one of the standout songs from the great 1945 Broadway musical, "Carousel." It has been performed by everyone from Christine Johnson (in the original Broadway musical), Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Shirley Jones and Claramae Turner in the 1956 film version (and finale) to Tom Jones, Barbra Streisand, and Jerry Lewis, who sang this song religiously at the conclusion of every Labor Day telethon he hosted from 1964 to 2010 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (all YouTube links). (Thanks to Michelle Kamhi and Louis Torres, my friends, who sent me the Tom Jones link.) There are few songs that sum up my own feelings of appreciation to those members of the FDNY who saved our apartment and our lives, as they battled a fire in my room, which, if it had had one more minute to breathe, could have consumed the rest of our home. My deepest thanks as well to all those who have offered their support as we recover from that fire, which occurred a week ago today. I had just received copies of the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and it was my honor to inscribe the very first shrink-wrapped copy "To the company" of the FDNY, our heroes, "with love and admiration always . . ." for their bravery and courage. Though we have lost much, we count our blessings, which are more; we are thankful that we are alive to contemplate both losses and blessings. Part of the reason that a song such as this remains legendary is, of course, due to its lyrics. As David Hinckley wrote in his review of "Oscar Hammerstein II: Out of My Dreams" (a PBS biography): "You gotta have some powerful cards to even get into the discussion of the 20th century's great lyricists, and it's a tribute to Oscar Hammerstein II that no one even needs to look at his ID. Just think 'Oklahoma!', 'South Pacific', 'The Sound of Music' and 'The King and I'---you know, shows like that. He could be prickly to work with, but the results were worth whatever it cost, and this show wisely sticks to what mattered most, the songs that will be sung as long as humans have working lips" (see here; but this statement appeared in the Sunday New York Daily News "New York Vue" section for the week starting 4 March 2012).

July 26, 2012

The Tenth Anniversary of Notablog

On this date, ten years ago, I began "Notablog" as a mere listing that featured links to my articles and to conversations I was having on the web. At the time, I participated in Lord-knows-how-many discussion lists and forums, writing articles for journals, magazines, and encyclopedias, editing The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies and other publications, and even teaching the occasional "Dialectics and Liberty" cyberseminar.

Notablog opened on 26 July 2002, with a link to an article that had been published that day in my hometown paper, The New York Daily News. The piece was entitled "Howard Roark," and it was a contribution to the paper's series, "Big Town Classic Characters: New Yorkers of the American Imagination." It is currently featured on the site of The Atlas Society (at this link).

So much has changed in this world since 2002. This blog itself has gone through quite a few changes, as I began to post original articles, reviews and vigorous dialogue in the comments section (which, in later years, was plagued by so many spam postings that I had to pull the plug).

Today, I post mainly announcements and "Song of the Day" entries, but there are articles and other developments in the works. So stay tuned!

I'd like to thank New York University and its web team for giving me the opportunity to maintain my site and Notablog on its servers. Here's to many more years to come!

February 26, 2011

The 1,500th Notablog Entry: Announcing The New JARS Archives!

This marks the 1,500th blog entry here at Notablog, though I was writing Notablog-ish entries (here, here, here, and here) long before I officially inaugurated this particular one. And, yes, more than half of these entries have had something to do with music, dancing, or entertainment, rather than politics, philosophy, or economics. I genuinely appreciate the radical sensibility of anarchist Emma Goldman, to whom is attributed the statement: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution!"

I want to thank readers for their continued interest in Notablog.

Today, on the occasion of the 1500th entry, I want to take this opportunity to announce some new developments over at The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. As explained here, the journal underwent a number of major changes in 2009, including three moves (from Port Townsend, Washington to Reno, Nevada, to Brooklyn, New York). The second issue celebrating our tenth anniversary year was not released until mid-2010, a year late, and our next issue, which inaugurates the eleventh volume, will be published in mid-2011.

As of today, however, the journal is making available PDFs of every essay to have ever appeared since our first issue, published in September 1999. Take a look at our various Tables of Contents here.

For the past ten years, these back issues were available as hard copies, but our stock dwindled considerably. By mid-2004, EBSCO Publishing, the world's most prolific aggregator of full-text journals, magazines, and other sources, began publishing the full text of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies on their databases. Current issues will continue to be published in hard copy and sent to subscribers, just as they will continue to appear electronically with EBSCO. But since EBSCO does not carry electronic back issues from Volume 1, Number 1 (Fall 1999) to Volume 5, Number 1 (Fall 2003), and since it has become increasingly difficult to find hard copies of these issues, we have decided to make PDFs of all of our back issues freely accessible as archives on our website (PDFs of the later issues are of higher quality because the journal is now prepared as PDF-ready for our printer... ).

Publication on our site will lag by a full volume (which will mean at least a year, depending on the timeliness of our publication schedule... ). In other words, those who seek to read Volume 10, Number 1 on the website will have to wait until Volume 11, Number 1 is published. And so on ...

Therefore, those who want to keep current with JARS will have to maintain their subscriptions or to purchase single issues when they become available. But those who wish to access any articles published prior to Volume 10, Number 1 can now do so, immediately, and free of charge.

With the journal now indexed in whole or in part by many abstracting services in the humanities and the social sciences, the availability of essays from our first decade will make it easier for scholars to research various topics in Rand studies.

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to All

This is a note of thanks and gratitude to all of you who have offered me your support and good wishes during these times. I wish each and every one of you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. It is certainly a day that I count my blessings. And eat to my heart's content.

Love and happiness to all!

May 21, 2009

Awesome Notablog!

Notablog is among 100 "awesome blogs by some of the world's smartest people" That's totally awesome, indeed (even if I've not been blogging as much as I used to...)!

July 04, 2008

Notablog: A Top 100 Liberal Arts Professor Blog

Thanks to David Beito and Roderick Long, I just discovered that both Liberty and Power Group Blog (in history) and Notablog (in political science) were picked among the Top 100 blogs by liberal arts professors. You can check out the full list, divided into subject and alphabetized, here. (And congrats to Roderick, as well, who made the list!)

The description of my blog made me chuckle:

It may look like a blog, but the site contends that it is not. Still, it is an interesting place to read about politics and philosophy from an NYU professor.

Well, okay. A is Not-A. Then again, the evolution of "Notablog" can be found here. It started out as "Not A Blog," but gradually became "Notablog." As I write in that entry:

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" (as suggested here) or "Nota Blog" (as suggested here), recalling the Latin phrase "Nota Bene," featuring entries on topics of which one might take particular notice.

Well, in any event, however this place is viewed, remember it can be reached at notablog.net.

Now, I know I have not been writing as much as I used to. There are, after all, only so many hours in a day, and we just put to bed the Spring 2008 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (information on that issue to follow next week). But Election season is upon us. And I'm sure I'll have a few things to say about that, and many other subjects. Coming up this summer, my series, "SITL" will also continue. And don't forget "Song of the Day," which, today, reaches the 900 milestone. Will I reach 1000 before the year is out? I've Notaclue! Stay tuned...

December 05, 2007

Inside Higher Ed: Around the Web

Scott McLemee takes a look "Around the Web" at Inside Higher Ed, and mentions me and some of my recommendations for blog reading.

Cross posted to L&P.

December 02, 2007

Laissez Faire Books Lives!

Back in October, I reported that Laissez Faire Books was closing its doors after 36 years of business. I've recently learned that LFB will live on, thanks to the efforts of the International Society for Individual Liberty. Taking "over the reins" of this "truly iconic institution," ISIL "will continue to offer a wide selection of books of special interest to libertarians," while "publishing new books as well as reprinting classics from the past."

Mucho congratulations to all those who worked hard to save this institution.

October 19, 2007

Passings

Changes happening... some permanent... let me note a few:

o Deborah Kerr, whom I loved in such movies as "The King and I," "An Affair to Remember," and "Quo Vadis," passed away on Tuesday, October 16, 2007.

o Joey Bishop, whose humor made me chuckle in the 1960s and 1970s, passed away on Wednesday, October 17, 2007; he was the last surviving member of Hollywood's famed "Rat Pack."

o Laissez Faire Books is closing its doors after 36 years in business. I will always be enormously thankful to LFB for carrying my various books and monographs through the years. My very best wishes to everybody connected to LFB for providing liberty lovers with one of the most important sources of libertarian literature in the world.

o And, finally, I note the passing of the Joe Torre Era of Yankees Baseball. I still think that the Yankees greatest weakness is their starting pitching (and their long relief), not their manager. It's the pitching (or lack thereof) that has led to early exits from the postseason for several years running now. The organization is going a long way toward correcting its pitching weakness by re-investing in a long-depleted farm system. The rebuilding may take a few years, but I'm confident it will be for the best. Losing Manager Joe Torre, however, is not for the best, and I will miss his steady hand and stabilizing influence. Thanks, Joe, for a great run!

September 01, 2006

Happy Anniversary Songs

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the inauguration of my "Song of the Day" feature.

I was reminded of this the other night when I was watching the "58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards," which, during the broadcast, showed a romantic commercial for "Journey Diamond Jewelry," telling us that "a diamond is forever." The song used for that commercial? "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," which just so happens to have been my very first "Song of the Day." In truth, I thought it was a lovely commercial; but then again, it is a lovely song. Like the diamond, it will last forever, at least "forever" in my own consciousness. Indeed, though it would be very difficult for me to pick my favorite song of all time, that Legrand-Bergman tune would certainly qualify.

Two years ago today, I wrote:

Today, I thought I'd share with my readers a new feature for "Not a Blog" and a new page on my site. I have been promising readers to inaugurate additional "My Favorite Things" pages, pointing to such things as favorite books, favorite albums, and even favorite songs. Why my personal aesthetic views are so interesting is beyond me... but the Favorite Things page is consistently one of the most popular pages on my "Dialectics and Liberty" website. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I provide lots of entertaining links on such pages for your enjoyment.
So, I'm starting a new page today: My Favorite Songs. Rather than come up with a full list on a single day, I'll make it a regular (daily?) feature here at "Not a Blog." (The songs will also be added to the "Favorite Songs" list, alphabetically, with date of addition in [brackets].)
There isn't a waking hour of any day where I don't have a song on my mind. (I suspect there are quite a few songs playing in my mind during non-waking hours as well!) Music is such an integral part of my life, that I could not for a moment imagine life without it. And the songs I love come from a variety of genres, as readers will soon find out.

I can only echo those observations today. And while the "Song of the Day" hasn't actually been posted daily for two straight years (there have been more than a few interruptions), I'm happy that it remains a popular feature at Notablog. And I'm even happier that it has evolved to include both vocal and instrumental compositions. Obviously, my use of the word "song" is, uh, rather loose. But that's been part of the fun... running the gamut from cartoons to the concert hall.

Thanks again to Notablog readers for all your recent public comments on the songs, and thanks also to the hundreds of people who have emailed me their own private comments over the last two years. I've heard from music fans and even from some of the artists and composers whom I've highlghted. It's been a great run, and I look forward to continuing the feature in the future, though it will become less frequent sometime this fall, as my work schedule intensifies.

Comments welcome.

August 09, 2006

This and That

After a month on summer hiatus, Notablog returns.

I have no clue what shape the blog will take at this point. While I am truly inspired by those who have the time to blog daily, and to blog with substance on such a regular basis, I have found that due to my own very personal circumstances and to my own professional commitments and responsibilities, it is virtually impossible to keep up with regular blogging or to post daily on the significant developments in the world today. Suffice it to say, while Notablog returns, and while I will resume my "Song of the Day" feature this weekend (and don't be surprised if this becomes a "Song of the Week" feature in time), I am still working diligently on many projects that demand my attention.

I should note that the Summer of 2006, which is a little more than half over, has been a productive one thus far. Aside from enjoying the sun and the sea and the lighting of the Coney Island Parachute Jump (Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower), I've been hard at work. I've completed three entries for the International Encyclopedia of Political Science and another entry for the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (more information on these entries will follow in the coming months). In addition to continuing my editing of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, I've also completed a piece for the forthcoming Ed Younkins-edited anthology, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which will be published next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication. My contribution is entitled: "Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto for a New Radicalism."

On the subject of Ayn Rand, I have written a brief essay for the September 2006 issue of Liberty magazine. It's part of a special feature entitled "Ten Great Books of Liberty." My entry focuses on Rand's novel, The Fountainhead.

While I've been on hiatus, it came to my attention that I was memed by Nick Manley. The meme has considerable overlap with a blog entry I wrote on those works that had a significant effect on my intellectual development.

Much of that development has been influenced by dialectics, the art of context-keeping. But dialectics has taken various forms tnroughout intellectual history, and the Marxian dialectic is, of course, one of them. A new film, entitled "Half Nelson," apparently delves into the subject. I may not see the movie until it reaches DVD status, but it looks like it might be entertaining.

Marxian dialectics has interested me for many years, going back to my dissertation and to the publication of my first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia. Author Kevin M. Brien has published a second edition of his fine work, Marx, Reason, and the Art of Freedom, which addresses criticisms I made of his first edition back in the Fall 1988 issue of Critical Review. I hope to discuss Brien's rejoinder in the coming weeks.

In the next few weeks, I will also publish an exclusive Notablog installment of my annual feature, "Remembering the World Trade Center." This year's installment is particularly important; it comes on the fifth anniversary of that awful tragedy and it marks the first time that I will take readers inside the WTC. My interview subject was on the 89th floor of the North Tower when the first plane struck. That he survived to tell this harrowing story is a blessing to those of us who will never forget September 11, 2001. This was the most difficult interview I have ever conducted, but I trust that readers will agree with me that it is among the most important contributions to my annual series.

So stay tuned to Notablog. The music starts up again this weekend, and will include a 12-day tribute to Tony Bennett (who turned 80 on August 3rd), the return of my annual tribute to TV themes, and a September spotlight on The Four Seasons (loved "Jersey Boys").

Comments are open. Welcome back.

June 11, 2006

Jumping Ahead

I'm going to be away from the computer a few days; please do not hesitate to continue posting comments on the various open threads. They will be approved for posting upon my return.

Since my absence will be brief, I've decided to post-date two "Songs of the Day." I just couldn't let Chick Corea's birthday go unnoticed. See you soon...

June 01, 2006

Notablog Evolution: Song Comments Arrive!

As I announced here, there have been many changes made by the NYU Web Team to the interface for Notablog. I want to thank the whole NYU crew (Jodi, Amit, Tom) for updating the site with a new MovableType Publishing Platform, which has made posting to this blog much easier and much more efficient. Moreover, I like the way the blog looks, and judging from my offlist email, most people like the new look too.

One of the biggest problems that I've had in maintaining the blog has been my inability to moderate comments and to eliminate trackbacks. Without moderation of comments, and without the ability to restrict trackbacks, I had been struggling daily to regulate thousands of links to porno or gambling sites, and it became virtually impossible to leave this blog alone for a day or two, without inviting hundreds of additional spam links that had to be subsequently erased.

Now that I have the capacity to moderate and eliminate these kinds of links, I have decided, starting today, June 1, 2006, to open up virtually all Notablog posts to comments. This means... DRUM ROLL PLEASE:

Readers can now register their thoughts on... my "Song of the Day" picks (including today's pick).

Heaven Help Us.

Well, truthfully, I get many daily emails from people all over the world about my "Song of the Day" listings. Every so often, I've actually heard from the musician or composer I've highlighted, which is very gratifying, indeed. And judging by the statistics, my favorite songs and my favorite things are consistently the most popular pages on the website. So, by popular demand, I'm going to experiment with open comments on my "Song of the Day" listings from this point on.

Please note, however, that I'm not interested in debating my very eclectic musical tastes. This is not the place to tell me that "this song sucks" or to ask me, incredulously, "how can you like that musician?" If readers don't like my tastes, they are free to develop their own "Song of the Day" listings, and I encourage it!

This caution notwithstanding, I think it will be very interesting to read comments on the daily musical posts; if they are half as instructive as the ones I receive by private email, alerting me to other versions of songs or to the history of a song or the musical or movie or composer from whence it comes ... then Notablog will evolve into a rather entertaining place to visit.

Since my overall comments policy is still in effect (see here), I will be closing the comments sections for older posts as they disappear from the "Recent Comments" sidebar. Further, as my policy statement indicates:

Readers are advised to stay "on message" in any particular discussion thread. Inappropriate or rude comments will be deleted, along with any "spam" messages, and those who post such comments will be prohibited from further posting at Notablog.

Of course, Notablog is not the only activity in which I am currently engaged. I am working diligently on many, many projects, including my typical editing duties for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and my writing of various magazine articles and entries for several encyclopedias and forthcoming books. But with the onset of Summer, I will also be taking some time off.

First, please note that there will be no posts on June 3, 2006 or June 4, 2006; on those dates, New York University will be migrating all current accounts to a "new, more robust server," and that means that this site, the comments, and my own publishing platform will be totally inaccessible. I will resume "Song of the Day" listings on June 5th.

Second, please note that I plan to go on summer hiatus for about a month, overlapping July and August.

In the meantime, all I ask is that you have fun. I know that I'm having a ball!

Comments welcome.

May 18, 2006

Changes at Notablog

Yes, there have been some changes at Notablog. New York University is in the process of providing me with a more efficient blog interface, and it will take a few days for this place to start looking a bit more 'normal.' So bear with us as the Web Team at NYU does some work around here.

April 18, 2006

Jason Dixon Interviews Me

Today, I publish a Notablog exclusive: An interview of me conducted by Jason Dixon. The interview was conducted in late 2005-early 2006, but is finally seeing the light of day here at Notablog.

Check it out:

An Interview Conducted by Jason Dixon

Comments welcome. Also noted at L&P.

March 08, 2006

Meme of Four

Steven Horwitz has tagged me for the "Meme-of-Four" (dammit indeed!)

Okay, here goes.

Four jobs I've had:
1. Bookkeeper
2. Assistant Orientation Director
3. Mobile Disc Jockey
4. Editor

Four movies I can watch over and over again:
1. Ben-Hur (1959)
2. Titanic (1997)
3. King Kong (1933)
4. War of the Worlds (1953)

Four places I've lived:
1. Brooklyn (West 5th Street)
2. Brooklyn (West 4th Street)
3. Brooklyn (West 9th Street)
4. Brooklyn (Dahill Road)
(Yeah, I have traveled a lot around this neighborhood...)

Four TV shows I love:
1. The Honeymooners
2. The Twilight Zone
3. The Fugitive
4. One Step Beyond

Four highly regarded and recommended TV shows I havent seen (much of):
1. The Sopranos
2. Battlestar Galactica
3. Law & Order (any of them)
4. CSI (any of them)

Four places Ive vacationed:
1. Phoenix, Arizona
2. Miami, Florida
3. Los Angeles, California
4. Peconic, Long Island

Four of my favorite dishes (only 4?!):
1. Pizza
2. Lasagna
3. Veal cutlet parmigiana
4. Spare ribs
(I could go on and on...)

Four sites I visit daily:
1. Bloglines (hehe)
2. Liberty & Power Group Blog
3. Once Upon a Time
4. Mises Economics Blog

Four places Id rather be right now:
1. Hawaii (on a beach)
2. Las Vegas (by a pool)
3. Athens (sightseeing)
4. Rome (sightseeing)

Four albums I can't live without (today anyway):
1. "Ben-Hur" (soundtrack, Miklos Rozsa composer)
2. "For Django" (Joe Pass)
3. "Embraceable You" (Carl and Joanne Barry, my brother and sister-in-law)
4. "Boss Guitar" (Wes Montgomery)

Four new bloggers I'm tagging:
1. Sunni Maravillosa
2. Chip Gibbons
3. Sheldon Richman
4. Nick Manley

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

February 25, 2006

Winter Olympics and More

Readers may have noticed that I'm doing a lot of singing and music-listening on the blog over the past couple of weeks. I just haven't had as much time to blog, even though there have been quite a few issues I'd like to write about. The upcoming Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Spring issue has been taking up a lot of my time during the day, and will continue to occupy me through the month of March. In the evening, I've been catching up on my reading, and enjoying the XX Winter Olympics (which has compelled me to tape a few of the TV series I watch on a regular basis ... so I'm behind on a number of programs...).

I have really enjoyed the skiing and the aerials, ice hockey, speed skating, snowboarding, and figure skating too (though I was rather disappointed that Sasha Cohen failed to get the gold). Last night, the figure skaters treated us to the Exhibition Gala; I have to say that I was most impressed with, and moved by, the interpretive piece performed by Johnny Weir to Frank Sinatra's rendition of "My Way." If ever there were a song perfect for a specific figure skater, this was it. Too much grace is sacrificed during the competitions in the quest to achieve technical points. Weir was among those who reminded us of just how graceful and beautiful this sport can be.

I'll have some things to say about current events in the coming days and weeks.

Comments welcome.

February 17, 2006

Spring (Training) is Here

With a dismal forecast by the Groundhog, and the biggest snowfall in New York City history, with temperatures entering the 60s today, and dropping back down to the 20s tonight, we're not quite sure what season it is. But yesterday, pitchers and catchers reported to Yankees Spring Training Camp. And that's good enough for me on my birthday (which is today!).

Welcome back, Yanks! Only 13 days, 3 hours, and 45 minutes to the first Spring Training Exhibition Game!

Comments welcome.

Song of the Day #550

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur ("Friendship") [audio clip at that link], music by Miklos Rozsa, continues an annual tradition, in which I feature a composition from my all-time favorite soundtrack. I pick this stellar theme today in celebration of my own birthday and in celebration of my friends, those who have given me their love and support over the past year, in good times and in very difficult times too. Today also begins my annual salute to film music. This year, instead of focusing on selections from my favorite film scores, like today's entry, I will focus on cinematic songs. From tomorrow until the Oscars on March 5, 2006, I will highlight some of my favorite songs from the silver screen, taking a chronological trip down memory lane.

January 26, 2006

Not-a-Blog-ing

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.

January 12, 2006

Blondie: 1989-2006

Blondie: July 6, 1989 - January 12, 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.

December 16, 2005

Cast Your Vote!

I finally had a chance to cast my vote at the Liberty and Power Group Blog. As I stated there:

I hate these polls... because I like so many aspects of the different blogs listed... arrrrrgh (and point well taken, Aeon! :) )
So, I have to approach it this way--If I had a gun to my head ...
Best Libertarian/Classical Liberal Group Academic Blog: Mises Economics Blog
Best Libertarian/Classical Liberal Individual Academic Blog: Austro-Athenian Empire
Best New Libertarian/Classical Liberal Group Academic Blog: Szasz Blog
Best New Libertarian/Classical Liberal Individual Academic Blog: Theory & Practice (IT'S A LANDSLIDE!!!)

There are also blogs that defy categorization but that I regularly read, like Once Upon a Time.

In any event, go to L&P and Cast Your Vote! (The deadline is December 31, 2005.)

December 01, 2005

New Sites, New Sights

Readers of Notablog know that SOLO HQ recently closed its doors. Those who try to access SOLO HQ here will now be provided with links to the two new sites that have emerged from the previous incarnation: Rebirth of Reason (run by Joe Rowlands) and SOLO Passion (run by Lindsay Perigo).

I posted welcome messages to each organization here and here, and I was given additional links here and here, given my long association with the former website.

Readers who try to access previous Sciabarra articles can now view these essays with a slight change to the URL addresses. I have made those URL changes to all the web pages on my main site (but not on Notablog). It now appears that my former SOLO HQ essays and posts are available on both sites. I feel as if I've been cloned!

For example, my essay, "Ten Years After" used to be here:

http://solohq.com/Articles/Sciabarra/Ten_Years_After.shtml

It is now accessible here:

http://solohq.solopassion.com/Articles/Sciabarra/Ten_Years_After.shtml

and here:

http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Sciabarra/Ten_Years_After.shtml

So, enjoy yourself. Twice.

I'd like to take this opportunity, however, to make a few comments about my own posting activities, which, as some readers have observed, have been much more limited recently. Though I was still posting on a rare occasion at SOLO HQ, my last published article was, in fact, "Ten Years After" (posted on August 14, 2005, and noted above). I have posted very infrequently to that site, and I don't believe I will be posting much to either of the new sites.

I still post on occasion to Liberty and Power Group Blog and the Mises Economics Blog (when the subjects of my posts are relevant to those forums).

Nevertheless, readers need to know that I have scaled back my participation on virtually all cyber-forums due to ongoing constraints on my time and health (see here, for example). Since my surgical procedure in October, I have re-focused my energy on the things that matter most to me: my own work done my own way on my own time.

That's why Notablog is still my home. I will continue to post here as the spirit moves me on subjects as varied as music and foreign policy, and I will cross-post to other forums when I think it is relevant.

Some people have written to me privately and have wondered if the rancor on other forums has been a factor in my unwillingness to participate more regularly. I've never made a secret of the fact that I am not pleased with the level of rudeness and hostility that is often shown on cyber-forums of whatever intellectual orientation (see my comments on "The Rose Petal Assumption," for example).

I'm the last one to complain about vigorous and rigorous debate; as a defender of dialectical method"dialectic" is, after all, derived from "dialegesthai," the Greek word for "to discuss"I am the first person to praise the importance of critical engagement. And for years I've been critically engaging my interlocutors whenever and wherever I get the chance.

But, all too often, discussions in cyberspace have disintegrated into slimefests with open use of ad hominem as a substitute for reasoned discourse.

Suffice it to say: That won't happen here. That doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humor or a sense of proportion. But as Ralph Kramden once said: "I'm the King of the Castle" in my own home. I welcome comments here from individuals of any intellectual or political persuasion, and ask only that posters show me and their fellow interlocutors the respect that is required in any civil engagement. If people can't or won't be civil, they can take their cyber-business elsewhere.

It's true: Civility is not a primary virtue. But it is a requirement of participation at Notablog.

So, to all those who post to the new forums and the old ones: Best of luck. I'll see you when I see you.

Comments welcome.

November 13, 2005

Notablog Update

I have been superbusy with a number of outstanding tasks this past week, most related to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, as my Associate Editor, Robert Campbell, continues to recover from surgery related to a biking accident. And I extend, once again, my good wishes to my friend and colleague, Bill Bradford, fellow founding co-editor of JARS.

Meanwhile, for those of you who are new to Notablog, be sure to check out my recent posts, especially those on Iran and US foreign policy.

Meanwhile, my "Song of the Day" posts continue; stay tuned for announcements this week on forthcoming publications, and an award I'm due to receive next weekend.

Comments welcome.

October 24, 2005

Thank You

Well, at the risk of turning Notablog into the Daily Sciabarra Medical Report, with hourly updates on X-rays and fluid samples, I figured I'd weigh-in and just pull all these threads together with a simple "Thank You." I've got a long way to go, folks, but I'm still home, getting assistance from family, friends, and two very close bosom buddies, one with brown hair and a gorgeous smile and the other with blond hair and a wagging tail.

All of this beats a hospital emergency room.

Cliche or not: "Thank You" just isn't enough to express the deep gratitude and appreciation I feel for the many public and private expressions of support that I've received. It has come regardless of philosophic or political orientation; it has been expressed on Randian forums such as SOLO (thanks Lindsay Perigo for this and this) and Marxian forums like Marxism-Thaxis (thanks Jim Farmelant for your post on my blog and for this as well; for those who don't know, I was a founding co-moderator of Marxism-Thaxis and actually came up with the "Thaxis" group name signalling the integration of THeory and prAXIS).

Thanks to the individual well-wishers at SOLO who posted here, including: Jody Allen Gomez, Lance Moore, Marnee, Marcus Bachler, William A. Nevin, Bob Palin, Teresa Summerlee Isanhart (I still have the caps!!!), Pete, Ed Thompson, and Matthew Ashby.

Thanks to the individual posters at Notablog for their good wishes (and I'll try not to duplicate names for those who posted on multiple threads):

On the "Karl Rove and Me" thread, thanks once again to Hong, John Dailey, Max, Jason Dixon, Chris Grieb, Vid Axel, Peter Cresswell (have no fear, Not PC, Ellington is Coming, and so glad you noticed Perdido), David M. Brown, Derek McGovern, Philip Coates, Glenn Lamont and Sam, Michael and Kat, Shane, Andrew Bates, Jane Yoder (yummy, and you know what I mean!!!), Matthew Humphreys, Robert Malcom, Luke Setzer, Matthew Graybosch, Duncan Bayne, Brant Gaede, Joe Maurone (and Aquaman), Rush, Cameron, Sunni (squeezesssssssssssssss), Debbie Clark (fellow Aquarian), and Kate Herrick (your note brought tears to my eyes; have no fear: I'm not going anywhere!).

On the "Back in Hospital" thread, which was prompted by an awful 24-hour ordeal in the ER, thanks to Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Thomas L. Knapp, Tim and Moira, Roger Bissell, Jim Valliant, Ilana Mercer (trying not to be too compulsive about replying to everybody, as you can see!), Michael Southern, Timur and Donna, Mick Russell, Peri Sword, Jason Walker, Mattias, and Mike Shapiro (who proves he will never fall for any scare tactics, no matter how desperate ... take your time, buddy, with the JARS essay, it's okay! Honest!).

On the "Aquaman" thread, thanks again to my pal Aeon Skoble.

On the "Back Home, For Now" thread, thanks to George Cordero (I will be keeping clear of all public libraries in June 2009), John Enright, Chip Gibbons, Robert Campbell, Jonathan Rick, Jon Wolfenbarger, Geoffrey Allan Plauche, and st, eve (I promise we will return to that "libertarian" question in a new thread; good to see you again!).

Finally, special thanks to my very dear sister Elizabeth: I know your short post here at Notablog scared the daylights out of a lot of people. But that's only because the circumstances were, admittedly, pretty scary. I'm still standing, and I love you for holding me up (quite literally) when I could hardly stand on my own.

Things may still be operating in slo-mo around here, and I do plan to take my sweet time getting into the groove. But I'm certain that, sooner rather than later, my focus will be returning to the issues of war and peace, politics and music, sports and scholarship.

So, a big Brooklyn hug to every individual who offered private or public words of support. I am very deeply touched by your kindness.

Comments welcome.

October 20, 2005

Back Home, For Now

I got home a couple of hours ago, and finally had the opportunity to download my email (or risk having NYU bounce a few from an overloaded queue). I also took a look at the good wishes posted here and here on Notablog.

I want to thank my dear sister for having the patience to walk-through, with me, the directions for posting on the blog, and I'm moved by the outpouring of support.

I promise you that I will actually respond in greater detail on Notablog to the comments left here. Right now, however, I am much too weak to post anything more than a song and a smile. In truth, I'm not totally "out of the woods" just yet, but I am doing better than I was two days ago.

Just a warning to those who have contacted me via email: the response will come, but I'll need a little time. Bear with me.

Comments welcome, as always.

October 19, 2005

Back in Hospital

This is Elizabeth Sciabarra, Chris's sister. As I said yesterday, my brother's email directory is inaccessible to me at the current time, making it impossible for me to send out emails to those who have expressed their concern about his health.

He has asked me to post this to his blog to inform his readers that he's been taken back to the hospital with complications from his surgical procedure.

We'll update you when we can.

Thanks for your concern and support.

Comments welcome.

October 11, 2005

Karl Rove and Me

Notablog readers may have noticed fewer posts from me over the past week or so. It can't all be blamed on my obsession with baseball.

In truth, I've been dealing with a medical issue that plagues many people, regardless of intellectual orientation or political affiliation. I know this is definition by nonessentials, but in truth, I have something in common with Karl Rove. Recently, NY Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove gave us the lowdown on Rove's trials and tribulations. He writes here:

Never mind those planned congressional hearings on the hows and whys of government incompetence in the attempt to cope with Hurricane Katrina. There were not only logistical and bureaucratic troubles but, astonishingly for the Bush White House, political snafus. Maybe there's a simple explanation: Karl Rove's kidney stones.
Washington insiders have been buzzing that President Bush's guru-in-chiefoften called "Bush's Brain"has been suffering from the painful urinary-tract malady for the past couple of weeks, causing him to miss some key Katrina strategy sessions. ...
My esteemed colleague and Daily News Washington Bureau chief, Tom DeFrank, who has also suffered from the condition, yesterday told me: "The pain, depending on the size of the stone, goes from horrible to excruciating." DeFrank added: "Karl may be a certified political genius, but there's no way he could be in a meeting dispensing advice to anybody. The only thing he could dispense would be low, pitiable moans."

I know this only too well, since this is now my third bout with kidney stones. I'll have some sonic blasting of these merciless objects next week, and may be out of commission for a bit. But if I avoid a hospital stay and further complications, you can rest assured that the music will go on.

Comments welcome.

August 08, 2005

A New Look for Liberty & Power

As a contributor to Liberty & Power Group Blog, I got a nice surprise today when I visited there. Check out the new look!

Comments welcome.

July 26, 2005

Perhaps You've Noticed a Change ...

Yes, yes, since February and March 2005 I've been searching for something both stylish and readable for Notablog. I've gone from a "Stormy" stylesheet to a "Georgia Blue" stylesheet for the site. I then returned to Stormy, but many complained that it was just too difficult to read. And with nearly 60 comments on my "Reason, Passion, and History" essay, I simply had to make the move back toward a more "readable" format. So "Georgia Blue" has resurfaced with a few custom twists to "jazz it up." Until or unless I can implement a "stylesheet" switch option, practicality wins out over aesthetics. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from readers on this switch, and I hope it does facilitate the reading experience.

Also, in response to this comment from Kernon, I've now worked with NYU's Jodi Goldberg to enable HTML tags in the comments section! I will, however, have to close comments after a reasonable period of time on open entries in order to keep the spammers from placing their links on Notablog.

Speaking of which, one person at SOLO HQ took exception to my having closed the comments section on the "Reason, Passion, and History" thread after a week of debate (and he took the opportunity to attack my scholarship as well). As I explain here (and here):

I come from a scholarly culture. In a scholarly context, the typical model is: review-reply-rejoinder. Sometimes, it goes a bit further. But I don't have an endless amount of time to debate issues when the lines are so clearly drawn and there is not likely to be any movement one way or the other. ... I should also mention that it is not fair to my readers to allow a comments section to go on endlessly when I don't have the time to pay close attention to that level of traffic, given my other research, writing, and editing commitments. I love blogging and I love cyber-culture, but I do have a life.

I conclude: "I am the host of Notablog. I wrote the review at Notablog. I have the last word at Notablog."

And that is as it should be.

Though I'm deeply involved right now in the preparation of the Fall 2005 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, I'm still delighted to see the comments section humming along, and enjoy the engagement.

So, let me know what you think of the new format.

Comments welcome.

June 28, 2005

Forthcoming Work

Readers may notice that I've had a lot of songs posted to my Notablog recently. I keep the music flowing, daily, even if circumstances sometimes get in the way of regular, more "substantive" posting (though I do encourage readers to take a look at my "Song of the Day" listings, like the one today that marks the Stonewall Riots.)

Among the circumstances currently preoccupying me: My editing of the Fall 2005 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS), which will include a new essay by me detailing the results of my investigation of new material unearthed from Russian archives on Ayn Rand's secondary school and university education. It is entitled "The Rand Transcript, Revisited," and is a sequel both to "The Rand Transcript" and Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. And it has a few interesting historical curiosities and surprises...

It is only natural that I've been spending a bit more time on Rand Studies over the past year or so, given my own scholarship in this area, the Rand Centenary, the JARS Centenary issues (I and II), and the upcoming tenth anniversary (in August) of Russian Radical, for which I've authored several reflections that will appear in such publications as Liberty, The Freeman, and The Free Radical. Also forthcoming: my essay, "Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto for a New Radicalism," in Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion, edited by Edward W. Younkins (Ashgate, Spring 2007); and my essay on "The Growing Industry in Rand Scholarship," in Philosophers of Capitalism, also edited by Edward W. Younkins (Rowman & Littlefield, Spring 2006). In addition, I've authored a brief encyclopedia entry on Rand for The Encyclopedia of the Counterculture and separate entries on Rand and Nathaniel Branden for The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Finally, I'm writing a rather comprehensive critical essay on James Valliant's book, The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics; the essay, which will most likely be pubilshed in July as a Notablog exclusive, will deal with larger issues of historiography, biography, and Rand scholarship.

In the midst of all this, I've been interviewed by French researcher Sbastien Car, who is preparing a doctoral dissertation on the libertarian movement in the United States; Car has given me permission to post our exchange on Notablog. It will most likely be published here during the week of August 14th.

August 14, 1995 is actually the date that the second book of my "Dialectics and Liberty" trilogy, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, was published... ahead of my first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, which was published on August 18, 1995. It's a long story how this came to be; I discuss aspects of it in the various aforementioned reflections, which will be featured online in due course.

Other interviews are also scheduled, including one that will be published in Ama-Gi, the Hayek Society Journal of the London School of Economics. The interview, of course, is Hayek-centered, dealing with my own "dialectical libertarian" approach, which is the focus of the "Dialectics and Liberty" trilogy that culminated in 2000 with the publication of Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism.

Other forthcoming publications include essays on "Karl Marx" and "libertarianism" that will appear in the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology.

Finally, for those who have checked my "Forthcoming" page, and who have asked me for a progress report: My research and study of Aleksandr Blok, the great Russian Symbolist writer whom Rand named as her favorite poet, is a long way off from completion. And my continuing work with Bertell Ollman on the history of dialectical thinking is ongoing. I don't anticipate any publication of either of these projects in the near future.

I want to thank my Notablog readers for their continuing support. I value the comments I receive publicly and privately. Given ongoing complications from a serious life-long illness, however, it takes me a bit longer to respond nowadays. Because of these limitations, I've cutback rather dramatically on my posting to other Internet and Usenet forums and other blogs. And I will be unable to offer my Cyberseminar in the 2005-2006 academic year. I hope to offer that long-distance learning class again at some point in the future, and will post an update when the time comes.

Just know that I'm working very hard and doing the best that I can.

Thanks again for your warm wishes.

Comments welcome.

May 27, 2005

To Post or Not To Post

In a discussion that began here and that continued in my entry, "To Publish or Not To Publish," I have addressed the issues of "tolerance" and "sanction" in the context of various Internet forums.

In the comments section to that most recent entry, Jim Valliant raises the issue of "boycotts" and a reader named "Cato" addresses the subject of SOLO HQ. Valliant suggests that even the most tolerant among us might become "intolerant" at some point, and that exercising our right to boycott is simply an extension of the necessity of drawing lines and boundaries.

In truth, of course, as every economist reminds us, there is not a single person on earth who does not discriminate. Lindsay Perigo, founder of SOLO, has often taken to calling me "Her Royal Whoreness," because he found my capacity to "mix it up" on so many diverse forums to be quite promiscuous. But even this ol' whore has learned over time that there is a virtue in not participating in forums where my practice of civility and tolerance are used against me. As I suggested in my previous post, I still try to take the high road even among those who insist on the sewer, but I withdraw from discussion much more swiftly nowadays; I am willing to thrash out ideas and to debate issues vigorously. I am not willing to be anybody's punching bag. And I will not sanction discussions that revolve around personal attacks.

Clearly, this leaves a lot of room for debate. And I'm willing to engage a very wide diversity of opinion. As a founding co-editor of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, I encourage vigorous discussion among contributors who come from many different schools of thought. Heck, my aesthetic tastes alone should suggest the breadth of my eclecticism and of my willingness to put personal and ideological differences aside for the sake of the artistically sublime ... or even for the sake of some darn good entertainment!

But as I indicated in that aesthetics post, "Taking the Ad Hominem Out of Art Appreciation," I won't censor my own artistic responses according to whether or not the artist in question has the "right" intellectual premises or is a member of the "right" political or ideological groups. I'd say the same thing about intellectuals and nonfiction writers. In fact, my appreciation of, and engagement with, people whose views I adamantly reject is partially responsible for the strengthening of my own convictions. Where would I be without the challenges posed by my mentor, the Marxist theoretician Bertell Ollman? Ollman himself was a Volker fellow under Friedrich Hayek! And Hayek was taught by Friedrich von Wieser, who was a Fabian socialist. Even within the broad Randian universe, stranger bedfellows could not be found: Leonard Peikoff, whose doctoral thesis advisor was the pragmatist-cum-social democrat, Sidney Hook; David Kelley, who studied with the postmodernist Richard Rorty; and so forth.

So, I have been, and I am, a proud "whore" in terms of my willingness to read those whose views I reject.

As I have suggested, however, reading is not the same as posting. I suspect that Commentator Cato might be working with the same distinction. Cato writes here:

The reasons given by fan are exactly the reasons I do not post at the SOLO forum. Some time ago I read some messages in a tread about [hard] rock music and the people that dared to admit they liked bands like Rush were treated with the utmost disgust and revulsion. I don't care how much their ideas are in line with mine when objectivist[s] are being called Nazi's because they like a certain kind of [rock] music. Something is very, very wrong here.

Well, I genuinely understand the need to abstain from posting on sites or on particular threads within sites, when these forums are not the most inviting of dissent. I don't participate in several forums for precisely that reason: they are overwhelmed by unappealing posters and messages. But, I confess, this doesn't stop me from occasionally reading an article or a thread on a particular forum that I won't post to. If I cut off my reading activities (in contrast to my posting activities) every time I found myself hating an Internet forum, I'd quickly find myself navigating nowhere ... except my own solipsistic cyber-universe. I just can't imagine putting myself in that kind of intellectual ghetto. (Granted, sometimes when I read certain threads on certain forums, it packs the kind of fascination that bystanders feel when viewing a car wreck... but that's another subject entirely...)

So, Cato, here is a key difference that you might have with fan: You suggest that you won't post to SOLO because of the treatment that some hard-rock music fans have received in some of the discussion threads at that site. Well, I grew tired of posting on SOLO on two issues primarily: art appreciation and foreign policy. (And you'll note, at Notablog, I won't even open up my "Song of the Day" entries to discussion; they are not open to debate!) There are only so many times I can say the same thing over and over and over again, only to be met with the same objections over and over and over again ... only to see the whole thing degenerate, eventually, into a flaming, verbal slugfest.

But I don't think this problem is endemic to SOLO. In the Randian cyber-universe, the problem proliferates: These subjects seem to bring out the best, and the worst, in some people. Because they inspire a certain degree of high passion, such discussions can end up shedding much more heat than light. And after a while, the reactions are so predictable that the threads start to resemble a "repetition drill" like that which I remember from my days of studying French in junior high school: People just repeat the same phrases as if they are listening to an "ecotez et repetez" audio drill in a language lab.

The key difference here, however, is on the issue of posting versus reading. Cato, you suggest that you won't post to a forum that allows some of its participants to be "treated with the utmost disgust and revulsion." Well, okay, and something may indeed be "very, very wrong" with the tone of such a discussion.

But that still doesn't prevent you from navigating to a free site and reading a specific thread or a specific article (like my own) that has nothing to do with the kinds of threads that bring you grief.

Perhaps "flaming" is simply the nature of the beast we call the Internet. Plenty of people who would be pussycats in person become roaring lions when hiding behind a computer screen. And you will see the same dynamic played out in "ideological" forums especially, across the political spectrum, on blogs, in usenet groups, in the groups at Yahoo and MSN, and in the comments section of many online periodicals. It's because of these tendencies that each of us must discriminate in terms of our posting proclivities in the cyber-marketplace of ideas. But these tendencies don't prevent any of us from occasionally navigating to sites we don't like in order to read the one or two posts we might find enjoyable.

A very dear friend of mine who has known me for nearly twenty-five years once said to me that I'm the kind of guy who would find that one rose petal in a pile of manure. Sometimes, when the whole world smells like fertilizer, you do need to search out the flowers that spring forth, nourished.

Comments welcome.

May 26, 2005

To Publish or Not To Publish

In the comments section for today's post on the Ayn Rand Centenary, a "fan" left a comment that carries with it quite a few implications. I don't wish to place this current post in the category of "over-reaction," but I take it that the "fan" has a problem with the forum on which my Rand Centenary piece appears. "Fan" writes:

Too bad you picked that site for it. I would have liked to read it but there are just some places i won't go.

The site that fan refers to is SOLO HQ. I write a regular column for The Free Radical, as you may know, and SOLO HQ is, in many respects, an online extension of that magazine. The two were, of course, founded by the same person, Lindsay Perigo, who has been a friend and colleague for many years.

In truth, however, I have many significant differences with Lindsay on many issues, as I do with many other people who have published in The Free Radical and on SOLO HQ. But this is not unusual. I also blog occasionally at the Mises Economics Blog and at the Liberty & Power Group Blog, and I have significant differences with many of the people who contribute to those forums as well. In the past, I've even contributed to Marxist forums. In fact, back in the 1990s, I was a cofounder of an Internet discussion group called "marxism-thaxis," which continues to thrive (though I no longer participate). "Thaxis" was actually my little neologism: a combination of "THeory" and "prAXIS."

What this comes down to is the implementation of a little piece of wisdom that was best summed up by my friend and colleague Wendy McElroy. She once said to me that she'd publish in Pravda if they printed her essays uncensored and with full attribution.

We live in a world of many different perspectives, and on the Internet, when so much that is offered is free to view (you don't have to pay in order to view certain sites), it can sometimes be effective to publish in a variety of venues. You may sometimes be perceived as a "fish out of water" in some of those venues, but the fact that some readers might be exposed to your work who might not otherwise even know of it, can be an incentive.

I go on about this at some length because it is often a pressing issue, in Rand circles especially, not to "sanction" certain venues because of who participates there, or the kinds of views that might be represented there.

My own thoughts on this subject have evolved over time. In the beginning stages of my writing career, I used to take on all comers in virtually all relevant venues. I always made a habit of "taking the high road," and I sometimes did this in the face of some very severe and personal insults.

Though I still try to take the high road, I have learned a bit more about how my "tolerance" for insults gave a "sanction" to those who fed off my good will and tried to use it against me. In such circumstances, the outright hatred for me and my point of view was so lethal that I learned to ignore it and to remove myself from such forums.

I may still give people the benefit of the doubt and I may even answer an insulting comment on a public forum for the benefit of those who might not know better. But after one or two tries, if it gets really personal or is very hateful or insulting, I've become very "Zen-like" about it: I just move on and ignore it. And in truth, it has taken years to get to the Roarkian point of feeling in most such instances: "But I don't think of you."

In the end, people's hatred and venom says more about them; beyond a certain point, however, outright insults, rudeness, and lethal personal attacks ought to be met with silence and nonparticipation. The alternative is to engage in a public pissing contest with people, which only degenerates further, and in which you risk losing a part of your own soul.

So here's my rule of thumb: As long as I am not treated disrespectfully, I'll participate in any forum that will have me. At SOLO HQ, for the most part, I have not been treated disrespectfully. There have been exceptions to this, and when these have occurred, I have simply withdrawn from such discussions in that forum and in other forums as well. Besides which, I have an inordinate amount of work to do and a limited number of hours in which to do it, and I have always prioritized my work because of this. (Ah, and if you'd like to learn more about why prioritizing is so important to me, given certain significant constraints with which I must deal, you'll need to actually navigate to the article link I posted this morning!)

All of this said, one of the reasons I call "Notablog" my home (as I have discussed here) is that it is the only place on the web in which I am completely at home. I often "cross-post" my entries to other forums (or vice versa) so that my regular readers might have a single place to reference my work. But having a home doesn't preclude me from dropping by other places to spread my particular brand of cheer.

I hope readers will take this into account anytime they have second thoughts about not visiting those other places with me.

So, fan, despite offering only two sentences of commentary, you've inspired a whole post in response. If anything, it proves that I take my fans seriously, and that I practice the "dialogical" virtues I extol as part of the very dialectical perspective I offer.

Comments welcome.

March 23, 2005

Stormy Weather, Stormy Style

Apparently, the memo about the beginning of Spring never quite reached the hands of Mother Nature, who is throwing wet snow and sleet on Brooklyn, New York tonight.

To match the Stormy outside, Notablog retains its "Stormy" stylesheet for now. Our experiment with "Visual Preference?" had a few java script glitches and this has necessitated an end to the experiment. Jodi at NYU is working on fixing the bugs, and we'll try to get this thing back up and functioning before too long. So, in the meanwhile, those of you who prefer light backgrounds and dark print... bear with us!

Also, the Search function is out of commission, but it will be totally functional in another day or so.

Comments welcome.

March 22, 2005

Visual Preference?

There have been lots of changes taking place at Notablog, even though it appears that it has been "business as usual": A "Song of the Day" every day, some posts here and there.

Thanks to the wonderful work of my pal Jodi Goldberg of the NYU Web Team, Notablog has instituted a "visual preference" choice for readers: The standard "Notablog" dark background with light text ("Stormy" as it has come to be known) or dark text on light background ("Georgia Blue," with my own stylistic tweaks for blue links), for those who prefer it. Play with it, if you will! Switch back and forth for fun!

Jodi is going to be making a few changes to the search function, so that might be unavailable for a day or two. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jodi!

I have a major post coming up tomorrow on "The Costs of War," so stay tuned. Meanwhile...

Comments welcome.

March 10, 2005

A Word About Links

Yesterday, I posted the following comment on SOLO HQ, which is worth reproducing here at Notablog. It also elicited additional follow-up starting here and continuing here (with a response from me here about a television interview I gave back in 1997). Here's what I said:

... You see, if you open any one of my books, you'll find lots of substance in the text, but a whole new world in the footnotes. I've been told by undergraduate and graduate students for years that I've got, in my footnotes alone, a treasure trove of follow-up for the curious to discover and explore. Plenty of student and scholarly papers have been borne of this footnote frenzy, I'm happy to say.
So, the moment I became aware of the possibilities of hyperlinks as cyber-"footnotes," it opened up a whole new electronic world. And, like footnotes in a book, instead of cluttering up the text with lots of asides and alternative paths of information, interpretation, or knowledge, I leave it to the reader to follow the links---or not.
Fortunately, I'm not the only one who does this. The blogosphere and the Internet are expanding exponentially through a network of links to links to links. It also has the added practical benefit of networking through search engines, thus making one's writing available to a much larger audience.
So, I suppose that as much as I joke about my "whoredom," it really comes down to my willingness to use the possibilities of electronic media and electronic networking. And it means a lot to me because I don't work in the traditional academic job market, and anything that expands the frontiers of electronic links potentially expands the number of people with whom I will come into contact.
Ironically, something like this happened to me some months ago. A link to my article on the movie "Ben-Hur" provoked correspondence from the producers of an upcoming DVD release of the film, and I was happy to be of assistance in this project.
The Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio, once told Derek Jeter, current shortstop of the New York Yankees, that he always went out on the field and played the best game he possibly could. He said, in essence, "you never know if people will be watching your game for the first time, and you want to give them the best opportunity to see what you have to offer."
I think of virtually every post I make, every article and book I write, as a window to the best I have to offer; if providing a link here or there allows people to explore what I have to offer in greater detail, I'm pleased.
And if it merely annoys others, at least they don't have to follow the links.
So here's a post and a reply---without a single link. :)[well... at least in the original post there was no link... but with "Ben-Hur", how could I resist?]

Readers can join the discussion and comment at SOLO HQ.

February 15, 2005

"Notablog" Statement of Policy

[This statement was updated to reflect the subtle change in the title of this blog and other changes in comments policy.]

In answer to many reader inquiries, I'm posting this update on "Notablog" policy. It supercedes earlier messages on comments and email notification.

Though "Notablog" still functions as a larger index to my work, reader comments are now welcome. [Prior to June 2006, messages open to comments ended with a "Comments welcome" note; it's now superfluous!]

Readers are advised to stay "on message" in any particular discussion thread. Inappropriate or rude comments will be deleted, along with any "spam" messages, and those who post such comments will be prohibited from further posting at Notablog.

"Song of the Day" entries will remain closed to comments. [Effective June 1, 2006: "Song of the Day" listings will be open to comments on an experimental basis. See here.]

As a matter of security against spam, NYU actually recommends that I close the comments sections for older posts. As various threads disappear from the "Recent Comments" highlighted on the main sidebar, their comments sections will be closed.

Those of you who would like to receive "Email Notification" for new "Notablog" posts (other than "Song of the Day" entries, for which readers are rarely notified), please write to me at:

chris DOT sciabarra AT nyu DOT edu

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" (as suggested here) or "Nota Blog" (as suggested here), recalling the Latin phrase "Nota Bene," featuring entries on topics of which one might take particular notice.

Also, remember that this blog can be reached easily from the notablog.net address.

And my "Dialectics and Liberty" home site is accessible from the following easy-to-remember addresses:

chrismatthewsciabarra.com
chrissciabarra.com
dialecticsandliberty.com
dialecticallibertarianism.com

And, yes, after joking about it at L&P here, I actually registered homorandian.com, which will bring readers directly to information on my "homonograph," as I like to call it.

Finally, don't forget that the latest "Notablog" posts are available in RDF format at http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/index.rdf, using a program like SharpReader (http://www.sharpreader.net/).

Okay...

Comments Welcome.

February 04, 2005

A New Direction with an Old Look

Well. That was fast.

A market entrepreneur at heart, I responded to the concerns of a few readers who had some difficulty reading the old format of "Not a Blog." And I do appreciate that some of those concerns were voiced again in the comments to this post.

But I'm going to go with my gut instincts. Yin and Yang just traded places again, and I'm staying with the original. "Bland," "sterile," "impersonal," and a few other comments offlist from readers who much prefer the original (as I do) have convinced me to return to normal. The original style may have some problems, but its color scheme is a bit more "in sync" with the rest of the "Dialectics and Liberty" website.

Experiments come and go. But everything I said about a new direction remains. The packaging is less significant than the message.

On another subject: I say: Happy birthday, Roderick Long!

February 03, 2005

A New Look

I'm honestly not sure I like it... but a few people have remarked that the old "Stormy" stylesheet for "Not a Blog" has been a little hard on the eyes... white writing on dark background. I've been doing white-on-dark for the "Not a Blog" archives since they began.

But I'm open to change.

I've now done an inversion. How utterly dialectical! Everything that was dark is now light, and vice versa, and yin and yang, and so forth. It may change again... but this "Georgia Blue" stylesheet should be easier on the eyes.

Over time, I may be spending a bit more time on my own site. I'll be doing cross-posting, for sure. Indeed, I find myself among fellow travelers on a variety of sites, and I agree with some people on many significant issues. But it seems to me that there are no group sites that fully represent my dialectical-libertarian perspective. It's a perspective that has evolved over nearly two decades of work. So, a dose of cyber-individualism seems to be in order.

I don't know what this will mean in the long run, in terms of blogging activity, as I have quite a few projects on which I am currently working. But I do know this: There's no place like your own home. And this is my cyber-home, after all. It has emerged from a website that has been around for over ten years.

I am still resistant to opening up this home to "Comments." That may change if I find myself blogging here more regularly. For now, given my posting at other sites that are open to comments, I'm not wanting to field comments on simultaneous sites. There are only so many hours in a day. But if conditions change, and "Not a Blog" becomes ever-more blog-like... my attitude toward comments on this site might very well change. Indeed, since this post is not cross-posted anywhere, I'll open it to comments. Your feedback is welcome.

The New Look may, in fact, be a sign of a New Direction.

February 02, 2005

Technical Difficulties at L&P

There have been some technical difficulties at the Liberty and Power Group Blog for the last two days. As I remark here, it's starting to feel like that movie "Groundhog Day."

Anyway, I will cross-post "Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Conclusion" when L&P is back up and running.

Happy Groundhog Day! (Apparently, "Punxsutawney Phil" saw his shadow... which means 6 more weeks of winter!)

Update: L&P is back up and running ... for now ...

January 06, 2005

Not a Blog Noticed

"Not a Blog" occasionally gets noticed for being ... not a blog. Check out Nathan Slaughter's essay "Blog is a Four Letter Word."

December 03, 2004

Blog Update

A number of people have wondered why they can't use the comment function at "Not a Blog." I try to remind my readers that this is "Not a Blog." :) Well, okay, it's more blog-like than ever! But it is still primarily an index to writings that appear in other venues, and at those other venues, all of you can comment on my work as often as you like! I encourage it! And I usually respond! (Unfortunately, you'll still see the word "comment" accompanying every blog entry here, even though the function has been disabled. But that's just something that can't be avoided; it's part of the software with which NYU provides me.)

Of course, if any reader would like to send me personal comments, my email box is always open: chris DOT sciabarra AT nyu DOT edu

I have been busy with a number of tasks this week, including my editing of the forthcoming Spring 2005 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (our second Centenary symposium issue, which will focus on "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians"). I've also been proofreading the forthcoming issue of The Free Radical, and involved with various research and writing projects. One of these is a review of Objectivist Peter Schwartz's 2004 book, The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America; the review will be posted in five parts at Liberty & Power Group Blog starting Monday, December 6th.

A few other updates to mention: My pal Chip at Binary Circumstance has a few links to all the hoopla over the film "The Incredibles," which refers to my various posts.

And I posted a frivolous reply to Lindsay Perigo on a SOLO HQ thread dealing with Joseph Rowlands' "Transitioning to Self-Interest."

My "Song of the Day" ritual continues uninterrupted, however; expect tributes to some of my favorite Frank Sinatra songs starting December 12th (Ol' Blue Eyes' birthday) and tributes to some of my favorite holiday songs starting Christmas Eve.

November 08, 2004

Email Notification for "Not a Blog"

I've had a lot of traffic here, and a lot of private email asking me if I have "email notification" capacity, so that I might inform regular readers every time a new post goes up on "Not a Blog." Truth is, I've hesitated to send these notifications because not everybody is into the wide array of topics that I address here. And I don't want to be accused of spamming.

So, if you'd like to have your name added to an "email notification" list, please send me a formal request at my NYU address, which I render here as:

chris DOT sciabarra AT nyu DOT edu

I have not added a direct email link because I, myself, wish to avoid spiders-generating-spam. So replace that DOT with a . and that AT with a @

As a matter of policy, I won't send out my daily "Song of the Day" as a notification. You can rest assured that these little musical tidbits will be up here regularly. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Update: Readers should also know that the latest "Not a Blog" posts are available in RDF format at http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/index.rdf, using a program like SharpReader http://www.sharpreader.net/ .