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Simpler times? Nah, simpler minds

Late last year, musician Kirk Pengilly lamented the loss of the "simple" nineteen sixties, when you could slap a woman's ass with impunity. My reply was just published in the Sydney Morning Herald. "Life was simple," musician Kirk Pengilly said recently. He was speaking of the 1960s, when you could apparently smack a woman's bum without censure. It was taken as a "compliment", he explained, rather than as sexual harassment. The media cycle has moved on, but Pengilly's sentiment is unfortunately still widely shared. It pays to examine this idea a little further. Some statements are such knots of idiocy and obliviousness, they almost become a public service: offering their fraying threads to b

The Art of Reading: "Young nails it" (Publishers Weekly)

In April of this year, the US edition of The Art of Reading will be out. The first review is in, courtesy of Publishers Weekly. It's a starred review, which is nice. Philosopher Young (Philosophy in the Garden) investigates the act of reading with essays on six virtues he sees exemplified by it—namely curiosity, patience, courage, pride, temperance, and justice—in this brisk and delightful collection. Its short length belies a book heavy with insight, creativity, and wit. [...] This literary study is serious but also witty and fun—a tough balance to strike, but Young nails it. You can read the whole review here. (By the way, the photo is of the UK edition. The US edition will have a sexy new

Being clever doesn't make you good

Folks often insult Trump and other leaders for their stupidity. And understandably so. But sometimes the slurs are misguided. They suggest that somehow being smart is the key to being good; that intelligence is automatically the morally superior position. My latest Canberra Times piece takes this idea apart: Donald Trump’s statements are routinely lambasted as stupid and ignorant. He is seen as the prince of idiocy and obliviousness. But local examples abound too—look at recent asylum seeker or marriage equality debates. Trump is indeed unable to pursue basic arguments, and is demonstrably lacking in vital knowledge about his own brief. The New Yorker quoted one conservative advisor: ‘He see

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