The rise of American authoritarianism

Such an interesting thesis by Amanda Taub on Vox, and so much more cogent than the explanation for the current political climate as simply “anger”.

This could be just as relevant for Australia (the rise of the ultra-conservative wing of the Liberal Party) and the UK (UKIP).

If you can, read the whole article, but here are some interesting quotes:

“… there is a certain subset of people who hold latent authoritarian tendencies. These tendencies can be triggered or “activated” by the perception of physical threats or by destabilizing social change, leading those individuals to desire policies and leaders that we might more colloquially call authoritarian. Continue reading

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Resistance is (mostly) futile: How buying nothing is harder than it looks (especially at Christmas time)


While there are thousands of people all over the world taking part in the “Buy Nothing” movement, along with a whole range of other groups of people doing what they can to reduce consumption, resistance to commerce is nothing new. The first Buy Nothing Day was held in 1992, and books such as Kalle Lasn’s (1999) ‘Culture Jam’, Naomi Klein’s (2002) ‘No Logo,’ and, locally, input from economists like Clive Hamilton (Growth Fetish, 2003; Affluenza with Richard Dennis, 2005) have all posited that consumption is not the answer to all of our problems. But, with the rise in access to information, consumer-resistance movements are becoming increasingly popular, prevalent and visible in contemporary Western society.

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Not so cashed up

timtam4In early May, 2015, news services reported that Denmark, one of those wacky Scandinavian countries that just seems to be obsessed with being progressive, would allow retailers to only offer card payment, and allow them to ban cash as a means of transaction. For quite a while, Scandinavia has been all about a cashless society. In Sweden, they’ve taken it one step further with a vein scanner, where you pay for your coffee by entering the last four digits of your mobile phone number, and then hold your hand above a sensor, while it scans your veins – presumably to see if you have Black, Platinum, Gold, Silver, or just boring old red blood.

But, will we ever see Australia go completely cashless?

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Our Hate-Love Relationship with Alcohol

In the 2015 Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) Annual Alcohol Poll, 34 per cent of Australians said that they drink to get drunk, 43 per cent said they had vomited as a result of drinking, and 75 per cent said Australia has a problem with excess drinking or alcohol abuse.

But in the same poll 92 per cent of Australians identified themselves as responsible drinkers.

As the young people might say, what the..?

A majority of Australians agree that we have a problem with alcohol. But almost all drinkers say it’s not a problem of theirs – it’s a problem other people have, that exists somewhere outside of their world.

There are both contradictions and abstractions in this discussion. But it makes perfect sense to me.

It’s simply easier to say that others are flawed, than admit that perhaps you might be the one who is flawed. Psychologists refer to it as the self-serving or positivity bias, and it’s the only way to protect our “fragile ego from the blows of reality” and to reconcile our often contradictory behaviour in a complex world. Continue reading

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Belle Gibson, the inspiration industry, and the willing suspension of disbelief

Belle Gibson_SunriseWhen I stay in a hotel, there is a tacit agreement that I (the guest) will pretend to not know that someone slept in the bed and used the room before me, and in return they (the hotel) will do everything they can to remove any evidence that somebody has been in the room prior to my arrival.

A stay in a hotel is, in its way, something akin to the willing suspension of disbelief.

If we both comply with that little bit of fantasy, it tends to work. But, ultimately, we are all playing a role – actors in a piece of theatre that allows us to dismiss the uncomfortable reality of the situation.

Life is a little bit like that. We go through life playing particular roles that suit the circumstances, while processing information that seems to help us to understand our little piece of existence, and ignoring information (whether consciously or unconsciously) that doesn’t work for us at that point in time.

So, it’s no wonder that for people who have been struck down with an acute illness (or knew someone who had), such as cancer, it was easy for many to believe the story of Belle Gibson.

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Coco-Pops gets two stars; Just like a chocolate milk shake would…


Coco Pops has received two stars in the voluntary health star rating system, but don’t expect a huge change in buying patterns, at least in the short-term.

Sales may even increase slightly, because it is likely that most people already know that Coco Pops isn’t a health food, and the two stars may well provide current users with tacit permission to keep eating them, because their rating wasn’t as bad as they thought. It may also mean that they go searching for those tiny snippets of evidence that help to justify their current choices.

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With Google Glass back in the labs, Sony’s SmartEyeglass is not so smart

By Hannah Francis from

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.43.39 pmAccording to the ANZ Oxford English Dictionary, “smart” means — variously — “clever”, “ingenious”, “quick to take advantage”, “stylish”, “fashionable”, and/or “prominent in society”.

So we think it’s about time electronics manufacturers ditched the term when referring to their eyewear prototypes.

While “quick to take advantage” might rightly apply to the likes of Toshiba and Sony jumping on the wearables trend with their own iterations of Google Glass, the cleverness of such a move is doubtful.

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