Culture, Literature, Art, Films
March 15, 2003
Stupid Platitudes Repeated by Stupid People or Gullible People or by Calculating Ideologues about the Iraqi Controversy1) American Unilateralism
The term, by now a full-of-beans cliche, is used reflexively, even by media reporters who should know better --- no hope for the rigidly never-say-die pc academic left and their adoring student automatons; might as well try teaching a paunchy, over-the-hill grey mare to be a champion steeple-chaser --- whenever the prospect arises that the US will go to war to destroy the mass-murdering, megalomaniacal Saddamite regime in Iraq without UN Security Council approval. Huh? Whenever I hear the tag invoked, I shake my head and slap my ears. Are these people serious?
Consider just three among many problems with the term. For one thing
, any UN approval of a second resolution
has been ruled out for weeks now once the Jacques Chirac and the French government decided to veto anything resembling an ultimatum to Iraq . . . which is exactly what Security Council Resolution 1441 stipulates: clearly, explicitly, and in repetitive teminology if the Saddamite regime didn't comply "totally," "immediately," and "unconditionally" to disarm and let the inspectors confirm this. The burden of proof here was laid on the Saddamites, not the inspectors. They were to show with convincing proof that they had disarmed, where, when, and how, or commit themselves immediately to doing so. At every turn, though, the French government since 1441 was passed last November has done its utmost to frustrate any revival of the resolution's thrust --- right down, according to British UN delegates, to a refusal even to "reaffirm" Security Council 1441, nothing more
to achieve anyway now that Jacques Chirac has dug his heels in and says he will veto any resolution that justifies war.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:49 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
March 29, 2003
An Hilarious, Hard-Hitting Article To Look At: Mark Steyn
Though the buggy prof has been trying to avoid the biggest sin of other commentators on the web, AKA bloggers --- links to other internet articles, little else; certainly little in the way of thoughtful observations of their own --- from time to time he will urge you to try some other sites, particularly if the writers on them are dealing with topics that have been taken up and discussed in our published views here.1. The Incomparable Canadian Satirist and Journalist, Mark Steyn
You'll remember Steyn from an earlier article on this site
that used one of his invariably humorous and sharp snap-like attacks on cant and pc-idiocies --- the two now synonymous for a couple of decades --- to deal with the ambitious theme of Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations
, which is being played out at the heart of Islam itselfOn one side of the clash, regressive, witch-hunting, and markedly xenophobic Islamist fundamentalisms --- racist too, not to forget their woman-whipping mores and paranoid mania --- that have developed a widespread appeal to the psychologically dislocated and alienated masses of illiterate or poorly educated masses in the 57 Islamic countries, especially the 22 Arab ones that total almost 300 million people (half now under the age of 15). Turkey alone an exception. The Arab countries differing mainly in degrees of violence and brutality and, on the governmental level, pro- or anti-western foreign policies, little else. With hot-wire fervor and calculated demagogy, the fundamentalist imams and agitators themselves --- cocksure, vitriolic know-nothings --- pushing paranoid and conspiratorial fantasies as their core explanation why there are all the social ills, economic backwardness, political despotism, state-failures, and general misery in Islam and especially the Arab world. The chief culprit causing all these acute problems? Surpise! Surprise! According to the chiliastic demonology, nothing l
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 1:33 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
July 14, 2003
The Buggy Professor is Back!This site should be back online!
Posted by diades @ 2:0 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
July 14, 2003
BUGGY PROF UP AGAIN: WELCOME BACK!! Archives Missing April 18th - July 13Should there still be any visitors left to the Buggy Prof site --- at one time, almost 2000 a week, lots of academics, grad and undergrad students, and the general public --- please be assured that you are a very welcome presence. (The archives, please note, are now updated and working properly: August 20, 2003.)
What happened on July 1st, the day of the buggy shutdown, and what kept it down for the next 13 days?
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 6:57 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
July 14, 2003
PLEASE NOTE: ARCHIVES AND ARTICLES SINCE APRIL 18TH MISSING STILLYou won't, alas, be able to find any of the articles that are --- were --- archived when you click on the archive categories on the left sidebar; at any rate, for the time being. For an explanation, please see the previous article near the very end. And for similar reasons, you won't for the present be able to find any articles published since April 18th.
Soon --- or so prof bug expects, fingers crossed tightly and with appropriate meditation sounds and thoughts to appease the gods of blue-nowhere cyberspace --- the archives and missing articles will all be back on the site and available at a click. In the meantime, welcome to all visitors: old and new alike.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:33 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
July 18, 2003
ANYONE HAVE BACK-UP COPIES OF THE BUGGY ARTICLES SINCE APRIL 16TH?Amazingly, my web-management firm WebXpertz continues to be stonewalled by biggie.com in the matter of my full archives and program files. It claims, apparently, that it still has legal right to investigate the hacker-attack that brought its server down temporarily on July 1st, and on that legalese basis, it still refuses access to WebXpertz to a downstream server where the buggy archives and other files are located. WebXpertz itself isn't blameless. As visitors here now know, the archives for all the articles published between the buggy prof's start in late January and April 16th were backed up by WebXpertz on yet another computer, and have been installed and are available here at this site. Click on any of the archive links in the sidebar to the left. You'll see what I mean. Don't ask what happened after April 16th. It's a long bewildering story. Caveat Emptor! Or, more pedantically expressed and loosely translated: Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit. "Buyer, beware! Don't be a dummy and overlook what a seller might be up to."
So, given these obstacles, it seems wise to ask forthrightly whether any of you might have kept copies of the articles published after April 16th until the July 1st hacker attack --- either as a file on your hard-drive or in print-out form. If you did, please contact me. You'd make the buggy prof elated if you were to send him the files by email, or --- if they're print-outs --- kindly email me: it goes without saying that I would compensate you for all postage-costs. (Be sure to email me first: prof bug will be bugged out if hundreds of postage receipts suddenly arrive in his mail box.)
Sooner or later, biggie.com will stop its investigations and the archives accessed. Until then, I'm particularly keen to get all the articles on the economy --- about 8 or 9 lengthy ones (including a humongous one on
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 2:51 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
July 20, 2003
THANKS TO A VISITOR, J.F. WILSON, ALMOST ALL THE MISSING BUGGY ARTICLES HAVE ARRIVEDThanks to J.F.'s kindness, the buggy prof has been left jumping up and down with crackling elation the last hour now that he has a nearly full-fledged list, saved as HTML files on his hard-drive, of all the articles published after April 18th this year on this site . . . but missing, you'll recall, ever since a hacker managed to shut down a downstream server at the start of July and keep us out of business for nearly two weeks. One by one, no more than a couple a day, these missing articles will be republished here with a "re-run" in the title, then archived under one of the categories that you'll find in the sidebar to the left here.
Prof bug is especially grateful because almost all the articles on the US and global economy --- its near-term prospects, with long-run implications --- that were being unfolded in a lengthy, fairly cohesive manner, one after another, throughout June are now back in his busy-bee hands. There were, as I recall, about 9 or 10 in all. J.F.'s own p.c. crashed for a few days in late June, the victim of a power-shutdown that lightning caused. (Is there no end to the woes of us poor Internet users?) You'll find the first two of these reprinted here.
One caveat: you'll see reformatted-versions at the end of these re-runs, which refer to the fact that they have to be reformatted again in HTML manner that the published version doesn't show, alas. For instance, the article just published below isn't fully reformatted. It takes time, and a "final reformat" will be tagged on when that's done.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 9:23 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
July 25, 2003
A BRILLIANT NOVEL ABOUT VIETNAM AND THE US, AND PROBABLY THE BEST FILM ABOUT THE WAR THERE TOOThis is a re-run of an article, revised and updated, that came to life originally on the buggy site May 28th, 2003 --- the original itself, three weeks after the hacker attack of July 1st, still a long lost stray wandering haplessly in the Blue Nowhere like the rest of the archives for the weeks between April 19th and July 2nd.
A follow-up of the previous article, this one deals with Nelson DeMille's Up Country and the wider implications it highlights brilliantly about the US war in Vietnam during the late 1950s, 1960s, and on into the early 1970s . . . along with the continued fall-out on American life today, for good or bad. It's a dazzling novel, and on all levels. Later, the article then deals with probably the best film ever on the war, Go Tell the Spartans, set in Vietnam and dealing with an American advisory group in 1964 --- a year before the war was escalated and we sent 500,000 men to fight and die there
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 12:58 AM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
September 22, 2003
Why The Buggy Prof Frequently Lists Different Versions of the Articles HereOriginally published here in early May this year, this article --- prompted by a suggestion from a visitor --- subsequently climbed a golden ladder to cyberspace heaven, along with its sisters and brothers, several dozen of them all mercilessly scythed out of time by a nasty hacker attack on July 1st. The demon! Not to worry though. Little by little, as with the current metamorphosis, the ghostly originals have sprouted angel-wings and descenden graciously back to earth where, for good or bad, they agree to start a reincarnated life on the buggy site again. It explains why, a good half of the time --- maybe more often than that, come to think of it --- you'll find various versions of the articles listed in the title.
After some bugged-out bantamweight reflection --- nothing more: about all a droning, on-the-fritz brain is capable of these days --- prof bug has decided to start listing the latest version-number of an article. The reason for the change? Nothing cosmic, just something worth while . . . or so it seems.
Well, as regular visitors here are likely to know, these are fairly long articles --- sometimes 25 to 35 pages in Word: at times even longer --- and the urge to get out something every day or two means that you can't leisurely do what we chalky pedagogues prefer to do with our incandescent stuff: write up with calm patience a full first draft; then hang loose another few days and get some distance from your initial thoughts while letting the murky unconscious parts of your mind buzz away in their dark and dismal subterranean chambers; then maybe --- just maybe if you're in luck, no need trying --- eventually find that some idea or two has been sent sneaking upwards to center-stage consciousness. After that, the rest's a cakewalk. Nothing more to do than glide back slowly Fred-Astaire style to the pc and revise with those giddy brainwave serendipities as new guides. No hurry, old boy. Take your time; take your
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 3:56 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
October 13, 2003
Final: WHAT'S HAPPENED TO FILMS? WHY ARE THEY GENERALLY SO BAD THESE DAYS?The previous article ended with a selection of memorable films on the war crimes of the Japanese and Germans, singling out especially at the end Judgment at Nuremberg by Stanley Kramer . . . released in 1961. It then added a few comments, two or three sentences --- nothing longer --- about what makes for a memorable film. Those brief sentences begin this loose, freewheeling commentary about what has happened to the cinema business: in particular, why so few good films are made these days compared to the great era of Hollywood cinema between the mid-1930s and early 1980s. Loose? Freewheeling? It won't take the savvy among you long to note that these are a euphemism, a cover for essentially a discursive list of buggy preferences, a few questions, and a some fast, top-skimming observations at the end.
Nothing less, nothing more. Still, an important topic given the role of films in our lives --- whether made for distribution in theaters or directy for television. And, let's hope, a stimulus to some comments from our visitors that exceed the buggy ones in insight and thoughtfulness. Yes . . . especially since at the end of these casual, throwaway remarks --- skimmed off the surface --- you will find a remarkably good article full of insights on the topic that appeared a few years ago in The New Republic.
WHAT'S HAPPENED TO FILMS?
If the worth of a film is in part a matter of how many times you can see it over your lifetime --- and never cease being struck by its depths, intelligence, drama, humor, acting, and directing --- then Judgment at Nuremberg , like Casablanca, is one of them. I've seen the latter maybe a dozen times over 50 years now, always left wondrous by its stupendous impact. As for Judgment, maybe 7 or 8 times, and left with the same dumbstruck feeling. Both are in black-and-white
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 8:34 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
October 22, 2003
WHY ARE FILMS SO CRUMMY THESE DAYS: A SEQUELTen days ago, the buggy prof published a lengthy article that asked why films are so lousy these days, and suggested a few briefly sketched-in reasons, along with some links . . . the best one a long analysis by the novelist and talented editor of Premiere Magazine, John Richardson. Oddly, another talented novelist and a screen-writer, Roger Simon, ran an article at his web site two days ago that listed what are in his view the best 25 films of all time . . . an impossible task, hard enough to do with the best 50 or so. The buggy prof joined in the follow-up comments, which didn't so much set out his own preferences, rather continued the earlier buggy commentary on films, past and present, and the sharply declining quality of those of the last 20 years or so.
What ensues here are those follow-up comments, along with the counsel to look over Simon's original list and the preferences of 30 or so visitors to his site.
WHY ARE FILMS SO CRUMMY THESE DAYS: A SEQUEL
Funny, but 10 days ago on my own website --- http://www.thebuggyprofessor.org --- I posted a lengthy article on why films are so crummy these days, and the reasons why. It dealt mainly with the US cinema, but not entirely: the Italians, French, Germans, and Japanese film industries doing even worse than Hollywood since the end of the 1970s, and the British cinema not what it once was from the 1930s through the 1960s, despite still putting out an occasional good film. It also linked to some informative commentary by others --- a classic one above all by the senior editor of Premiere magazine and a novelist to boot --- on what has happened to the American cinema since 1980 or so: Dumb and Dumber by John Richardson. It appeared in the mid-1990s and is far and away, it seems, the most perceptive roasting of t
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 10:40 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
October 25, 2003
FINAL VERSION: Radical or Ex-Radical Journalists and Intellectuals Who Have Slammed Fatuous Left-Wing Orthodoxies.Half of the following article appeared originally in the previous article . . . one in a long series of ruminations and analysis about misinformed journalism and intellectual views of American foreign policy, and especially the US effort to destroy Saddamite Iraq and transform the country into a consensual political system that respects basic human rights --- something that exists nowhere in the Arab world of 22 states, all despotic and corrupt to the core, ruled ultimately by the secret police. They differ only in the degree to which violence and repression are used to maintain the corrupt tribal-clans in power, along with their cronies in influential positions in the economy, the legal and administrative systems, and the military. Not surprisingly, illiteracy among the 280 million Arab peoples --- who, at one time, a 1000 years ago, led Europe in mathematics and philosophical work --- is now the worst in the world: yes, worse even than in far poorer tropical Africa. Unemployment among men runs anywhere from 20-30% across the 22 countries, and the population explosion among the Arabs means that 50% right now are under the age of 15 and that in another 20 years the total number of Arabs will be close to 500 million.
All these failures and teeming problems in Arab life --- a failure to modernize effectively at bottom --- are set out at length and documented in the UN Arab Human Development Report 2002. See the ranging remarks on it with some links in an earlier buggy article. More recently, the UN's Arab Human Development Report 2003 scathingly criticized the poor quality of education in Arab countries, along with the severe censorship and other controls over intellectual freedom and civil liberties. See this interpretation.
Posted by Michael Gordon @ 7:59 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
August 9, 2004
WHY, TRADITIONALLY AND AT PRESENT, ARE INTELLECTUALS HOSTILE TO FREE-MARKET CAPITALISM? 10th in a SeriesThis, the 10th article in a series on the US economy, comparatively viewed --- the lengthy, strung-out argument focused above all on why it has been the richest country in the world for 125 years --- continues the thrust and substance of the general points set out in the previous article. Their overarching theme? Schumpeterian views of industrial capitalism: its economic life as always dynamic and in flux, never in equilibrium; radical technology change as the major disruptive force here; and the role of bold, risk-taking entrepreneurs as the key innovators and challengers to the economic status quo . . . with the resulting dislocating conflicts between them and existing vested interests fought out in what Schumpeter called the gales of creative destruction.
Thus the previous article's argument. One of its points, discussed there in a fast, top-skimming manner --- the non-stop hostility of most intellectuals toward free-market capitalism and bourgeois society and democracy, whether they're historically on the left or right --- is important to understanding their discontent and assaults these days too: toward globalization, Anglo-American free-market capitalism, and much that remains of traditional bourgeois life. That hostility deserves to be teased out and clarified at length
Doing so is the task here.
As you'll see in a few moments, Schumpeter's own work helps illuminate the sources of that hostility, in the past and at present --- this, despite all the massive changes in contemporary industrial societies, economic and social, that were initially applauded by all but ideologically extremist intellectuals, Communist or Fascist, when they began after WWII. Not that Schumpeter's own views, originally set out at the start of WWII, exhaust the argument here. More specifically, as you'll also soon see, the buggy prof analysis will draw on several other views, not least his own.
Posted by gordongordomr @ 4:43 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]
September 24, 2004
Buggy Back In Business: A Spanish InterludeBack online after a few weeks of mental repose, his draggy, over-the-hill brain crackling with high-pep energy once more, the buggy prof is ready to resume the series, now a couple of months old, on the nature of the US economy and its prospects in a globalizing world full of technological flux --- always viewed comparatively, you'll remember. The stress in this series of article, about 10 in all so far, has been on the institutional and socio-cultural context of the advanced industrial economies, especially under the heading of systems of national innovation . . . a Schumpeterian concept, you might further remember.
As you might also recall, the series also stressed ho . . . oops, did I just say mental repose a second or two ago? Can't be. Not true; at any rate, not what I've been up to recently.
Just the contrary. Above all, to explain brieflly, there's been
. . . An Hispanic Diversion
No, the diversion hasn't been with a pretty senorita . . . except in lurid fantasy-form, always a bugaboo hang-up of the prof's mind. What's been happening has been less exciting, even if no less obsessive: some time around the Labor Day, early in September, prof bug --- his mind, fingers, and will-power more or less in sync again after three weeks away from the pc --- was all ready to begin banging away on the keyboard with bursting fervor once more, bugging lots of people with his daily fuzzbuzz of rangy commentaries . . . only to have his mental powers suddenly slide elsewhere on a visit to Barnes & Noble bookstore. Drifting languidly, with easy unconcern, around the place, he had just wandered into the huge reference section. So far, so good. No change in mental energy. Even the repetitive imagery of a wickedly naughty post-serenade stage with a sulty senorita, her body spilling out of her red gown everywhere, had subsided to a slight tug at the back of his thoughts, nothing more.
Posted by gordongordomr @ 10:15 PM CST [continue] [ Comments? ]