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October 31, 2017

Song of the Day #1518

Song of the Day: Ghosts, words and music by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley, was first featured on Jackson's album, "HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I," but can also be found on a newly released album, "Scream," just in time for Halloween. In fact, many of the songs from this new compilation album could be heard in the most recent MJ animated special, "Michael Jackson's Halloween," seen on CBS last week. It was also the basis of an ambitious video written by MJ and Stephen King, and directed by Stan Winston. A short form of the video can be found on YouTube. Also check out Mousse T's Club Mix, the DJ Rmx extended version, and the Stepper's Mix. And for old time's sake, check out the King of All King of Pop Videos, the John Landis-directed short film for "Thriller" [YouTube link], featuring the great Vincent Price, and recently named by Billboard magazine as the #1 Halloween-themed recording. Check out the video version prepared for "This is It" and the Steve Aoki Remix too! And have a Happy Halloween!

October 25, 2017

Song of the Day #1517

Song of the Day: Blueberry Hill, music by Vincent Rose, lyrics by Larry Stock and Al Lewis, was a big hit for the Big Man: Fats Domino, who died yesterday at the age of 89. This song was a staple of the 1940s swing era, but became an early rock and roll classic when Domino recorded it in 1956. The song went to #2 on the Top 40, and was at #1 on the R&B chart for 11 weeks, selling an estimated 5 million copies worldwide. Check out the original Domino single [YouTube link].

October 11, 2017

Holy Cow! Yanks Win ALDS - Bring on the Astros!

As Phil Rizzuto used to say, "Holy Cow!" The Yankees win three straight after losing the first two to the Cleveland Indians, and advance to the American League Championship Series to face the Houston Astros!

Go Yankees!

Postscript (24 October 2017): Well, it has taken a few days to get over the Yankees loss in seven games to the Houston Astros; tonight the World Series begins with the Astros taking on the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. May the best team win. As for the Yankees: they went further this year than any fan could have possibly expected. May there be many more Octobers in the future of this great franchise. The current crop is brimming with youth and potential, and gave many Yankee fans a reason to cheer again.

Postscript II (27 October 2017): I was sad to learn that Joe Girardi was fired as New York Yankees manager; some folks are saying: "If he'd taken the Yanks into the World Series, he would have retained his job." Hogwash! Do people forget that Yogi Berra was fired in 1964 precisely because he didn't win the Series? Of course, I've always been skeptical as to how crucial a manager is to the success of a team. Casey Stengel presided over the Yankees during a period in which they won seven World Series; not too long thereafter he went over to manage the new New York Mets, who for the next three years lost 100+ games per season. Apparently, the Mets didn't have Mantle, Berra, Whitey Ford, etc. So much for the impact of a manager on a team. Not that managers can't affect the direction of a team in terms of clubhouse unity and strategic decisions on the field; but Joe took this young Yankee team, with so much potential, much further than anybody ever anticipated at the opening of the 2017 season. Good luck, Joe! And good luck, Yankees, on finding a manager more "suitable" to the Bronx Bombers.

October 08, 2017

Russian Radical 2.0: Another Review and Forthcoming Response

One can find a new review (among others) of the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, on both amazon.com and Goodreads, written by Ilene Skeen.

Skeen's five-star review unleashed the hounds, again, especially one named Brad Aisa, who never loses an opportunity to dump on the book. I wrote on one Facebook thread, in response to Mr. AisA, the following:

As Ronnie Reagan once said: "There you go again." I will therefore re-post this material from an October 2016 discussion of the book, where I revealed that Brad Aisa had a very different view of the book when it first came out. He made a January 1996 comment on the usenet group alt.philosophy.objectivism. Today, the book he dismisses as "a giant pile of stinking hogwash," despite its "reasonable" first part, once said that he was "quite perplexed reading the entire first section of the book." But he admits back in 1996, that "Sciabarra's regard for Rand is obvious, and there is no evidence he is trying to smear or attack her..." And he even had a couple of kind things to say about the middle section that he now dismisses as "schtick" and "grievously flawed". In January 1996, he wrote: "The middle section of Sciabarra's book seemed to me to be an honest thinker's attempt to summarize Objectivism and relate it to Rand's fiction." Finally, he reveals a high regard for Part 3 of the book:
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The final section [that would be Part 3, "The Radical Rand"] was the only really valuable part of the book, in my view -- an attempt to show the relationship between philosophic ideas and culture, using Objectivism as the subject. I think that many Objectivists could greatly benefit from studying what Sciabarra points out in this section. Philosophic ideas do not exist in a vacuum, and there is a profound interrelationship between culture and philosophic ideas, which is NOT one way. For example, statist political regimes have a very demonstrable effect on what kminds of ideas are taught and promulgated, and free societies likewise. The notions in this section are not absent from Objectivist writings -- for example see: Ayn Rand's essay "Our Cultural Value-Deprivation" (_The Objectivist_, Apr 66) wherein she discusses the relationship between cultural and individual development; and Edith Packer's essay "The Psychological Requirements of a Free Society" (_The Objectivist Forum_, Feb 84), wherein she explains the interrelationship between free thinking people and a free culture -- but some Objectivists seem to latch onto the notion of "philosophy determines history", and not realize the context of that idea, and the profound interre.lationships be.tween the spread of ideas, the content of ideas, and individual and cultural practice.
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He has never addressed these comments that he made over 20 years ago, instead, joining the old chorus of critics who never lose an opportunity to denounce the book, virtually in its entirety, with no real understanding of the book's central methodological thesis. It is a thesis that Ilene Skeen grasps so well in the review: "The question Sciabarra raises for me, which I find riveting, even revolutionary, is what is there about Rand’s method that allows her to disregard all the methods and their many variations, and still wind up with a complete, cogent and organic philosophical whole? To my knowledge, no other book intended for the lay market has stimulated that question, framed as Sciabarra has done . . ."
Whether or not Ilene agrees with all of my answers is beside the point; at the very least Ilene acknowledges what is the central methodological thesis; my focus in that book had more to do with how Rand was exposed to, and may have absorbed aspects of, the dialectical method, a method that was in the intellectual air of Silver Age Russia---a method that was first fully articulated by Aristotle himself, whom even Hegel called "the fountainhead" of dialectical inquiry.
I will only add that I will be addressing the critics of Russian Radical 2.0 in a forthcoming article in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and what I reveal there should raise a few eyebrows, to say the least.

October 04, 2017

A Wild Yankee Win... Onto Cleveland!

The New York Yankees were down 3-0 in the first inning of tonight's one-game "Wild Card" playoff with the Minnesota Twins, the winner of which would go on to face the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series, preceding the American League pennant and the World Series.

They came back in style, despite having to use the bullpen for 8 and 2/3 innings, and won the game 8-4, with Aaron Judge hitting a 2-run homer in the process.

This young team has already exceeded my expectations, but now that the team is in the running, I say: Go Yankees!

October 01, 2017

Song of the Day #1516

Song of the Day: Jazz Samba [YouTube link], composed by one of the best, the arranger and composer, Claus Ogerman, can be heard on "Intermodulation" (1966), one of the finest duet albums ever recorded, featuring the incomparable Bill Evans on piano and the equally incomparable Jim Hall on guitar. Perhaps my favorite track on this album is "All Across the City," a lovely Hall composition [YouTube link], but this one, in which the great guitarist provides comp support for Evans's swinging ways, is, to my knowledge, probably the only samba that Evans ever recorded. I'm sure this piece would have been on any playlist of my dear friend, the late Michael Southern, given his passion for the great Evans.