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Showing posts from October, 2015

Romantic love: what's it good for?

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In her best-selling 1970 work The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer urged a great awakening; for women to exercise their freedoms and stop being passive.

The Bachelorette put that to the test, 45 years later.

The female lead, 26-year-old Sam Frost, was indeed in the driver's seat, choosing a man on her own terms. She asserted her virility. In the last few episodes she intensely kissed all the men still standing.

But on the other hand, Frost was an advertiser's dream. Projected as The Ideal, she was slim, symmetrical, fair-skinned and mostly discreet.

Ours is a culture that urges individuality, but then pushes on us perpetual "types". Television does it best. The dwindling list of chosen blokes were all chiseled and sporty.

Hundreds of thousands of us watched it because we structure our whole lives around romantic love, philosophy Professor Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins of British Columbia University says.

It's a powerful force, yet we rarely wrestle with what it is. Is it …

Newstart not living up to its name

What do multitasking and the low level of Newstart have in common? New research suggests they both do something to our brain, and in Anti-Poverty Week the new Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, ought to pay attention.

As our new Prime Minister is fond of telling us, our future is increasingly tied up in technology (when has it not?). It inevitably means more multitasking. These days employers email us at night. We shop for shoes at our desks. We arrange business meetings while at the supermarket. Our children flip between devices while doing their homework.

As more and more things fight for our attention our mental bandwidth shrinks. There's only so much attention we can offer. Splitting it more and more ways impairs our ability to do anything well.

Harvard University professor Sendhil Mullainathan provides the link to the unemployment benefit Newstart.

At just $261.70 per week, it's hopelessly inadequate. Pensioners get $394.20 per week. Politicians staying in Canber…

I Consume Therefore I Am?

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Buying is much more American than thinking, pop artist Andy Warhol once quipped. On last month’s visit to the United States, Catholic Pope Francis generated an enormous market for ‘things’, both spiritual and commercial.

It was thick with irony. While personally devoted to simplicity, Francis unleashed a hunger for products that surpassed what is usually associated with rock tours. New York was flooded with Pope posters, 'the Pope gives hope’ t-shirts, Pope caps, Pope bracelets and even Pope cheese that could be spread on Pope toast and then washed down with Pope beer. Instead of singing the hymn “The Great I Am” believers could have been singing “I Consume Therefore I Am”.

What is it about the human condition that makes us feel the need to bottle or wear things that are fleeting, even sacred, things that can’t be bottled or worn? Francis talks about being saved by the divine, of being in the world but not of it, yet all around him marketeers are offering objects that promise sal…