Friday the 13th (1/13/17)

  1. Parody Cultural Studies
  2. Trump key #fail
  3. Bad pedophiles, tolerable pedophiles
  4. 100% Proof Sex Is Optional!


In 1996, Alan Sokal, a New York University physicist and self-described “academic leftist,” composed an essay that was a word salad of solemn academic jargon. He said he strove to be “especially egregious,” by maundering on about “the dialectical emphases” of “catastrophe theory” becoming a “concrete tool of progressive political praxis.” His essay’s gaudy title was “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.”

He sent it to the left-leaning “cultural studies” journal Social Text, which swooned, perhaps in part because Sokal larded his nonsense with political tropes that are catnip to lettered leftists — “emancipatory mathematics,” “demystify and democratize the production of scientific knowledge,” “the crisis of late-capitalist production relations.” Soon after Social Text published his faux scholarship, Sokal revealed in another journal, Lingua Franca, that it was a parody.

The issue of Social Text containing Sokal’s prank included earnestly intended essays such as “Gender and Genitals: Constructs of Sex and Gender,” which said the “Western assumption that there are only two sexes” is being refuted by “a rainbow of gender” purged of “the binary male/female model.” Sokal’s parody blended in.

(George Will)


Trump doesn’t just duck under ethical norms in an emergency; he relishes his total freedom from them. His whole persona and affect is one of candor, of lying to you and winking at you even as he demands you believe him. In the weird way humans calculate virtue, this works to Trump’s advantage. His dishonesty comes across as authentic and constitutive.

(Michael Brendan Dougherty, Why the media’s Trump dossier coverage is suicidal) Look: I know everyone is trying to find the key that unlocks the Trump enigma, but this seems like gibberish/psychobabble masquerading as explanation. Let’s not be like Alan Sokal.


We denounced the Catholic Church and Penn State for tolerating child sexual abuse, but we have collectively tolerated websites like Backpage that sell children for sex.

A devastating new subcommittee report shows that the company protects pimps from their carelessness by deleting hints that a girl is underage. For example, if a pimp tries to post an ad for a “Lolita,” “little girl,” “school girl” or “amber alert,” those terms are automatically stripped from the ad — but it is still posted, so the girl will still be sold for sex.

One Backpage document indicated that by 2010, more than 70 percent of its ads in the adult section were being edited like that, suggesting that the company was far more involved in manipulating content than it ever let on.

(Nicholas Kristof)


I have made it an item of standing advice that “Sex Is Optional.” Confirmation came Thursday, as if any were needed.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.