Links for 5-20-2017

  • Donald Trump signed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $110 billion.

  • An as-yet undiscovered security compromise enabled China to kill or imprison 18 to 20 of the CIA’s operatives between 2010 and 2012.

  • Hassan Rouhani was re-elected president of Iran by a wide margin.

  • Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voted to replace one of its leaders who has been in jail since November on terrorism charges and whose parliamentary status was stripped three months ago — Serpil Kemalbay was elected to replace Figen Yuksekdag. Another HDP co-leader, Selahattin Demirtas, is also in jail but he remains a member of parliament.

  • The Taliban staged an assault on Ghazni, a city on the highway connecting Kabul and Kandahar; there are conflicting reports of how successful they were. Gunmen assaulted a bank in Gardez, killing three people before they themselves were killed.

  • Two people authored a nonsense academic paper entitled “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” and got it published in the peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences:

    Assuming the pen names “Jamie Lindsay” and “Peter Boyle,” and writing for the fictitious “Southeast Independent Social Research Group,” we wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory. The paper was ridiculous by intention, essentially arguing that penises shouldn’t be thought of as male genital organs but as damaging social constructions. We made no attempt to find out what “post-structuralist discursive gender theory” actually means. We assumed that if we were merely clear in our moral implications that maleness is intrinsically bad and that the penis is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal.

    This already damning characterization of our hoax understates our paper’s lack of fitness for academic publication by orders of magnitude. We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.