Ads the internet has recently shown me, ranked

It’s 2015 and technology follows us everywhere and knows so much about our lives it can deliver super-precise individually targeted ads, right?

Not quite. Here is an unscientific sample of ads the internet has displayed to me in the past week or so.


  1. I do love avocados but really I was going to buy them anyway.


2. This salad is missing avocado! I do eat a lot of salad in spring though!

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3. Yes you have correctly identified that I google financial terms on my work computer.


4. I love Grill’d but I do not love horse racing.


5. Sure?


6. I haven’t been a student for 4+ years.


7. I graduated four and a bit years ago and I have a job.


8. True, but I mainly wear stockings instead.


9. Wasn’t thinking about it?


10. I must not be a modern fundraiser because I did not know what this was. I looked at their website in the name of research and it appears to be software for non-profits.


11. I have a MasterCard.


12. I don’t drink alcohol.


13. I don’t drink coffee or watch soccer.

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14. I haven’t worn make-up for almost a decade.


15. …


16. Nope.

image17. Gambling is like putting money in the bin except depending on where you gamble the bin might belong to James Packer and he is already a billionaire so why are you giving him more money?


18. This is an actual ad. I am not making this up.


Amber Plum Review

amber plums

Left: amber jewel plums. Right: black amber plums.

My local fruit shop is selling two types of amber plums this summer. My dear friend and colleague Amber Plum lives too far away at the moment to try them. So here is a review instead.

Amber jewel plums, $2.99/kilo

amber jewel plums

The smaller variety of amber plums had a red blush and an almost mauve tinge to their skin, with yellow flesh inside. When cut, the plums proved to be in varying stages of ripeness, and some were tricky to remove from the stone.

Their delicate sweetness was followed by a slightly tart aftertaste, leaving an impression of balance.

Black amber plums, $3.99/kilo

black amber plums

The larger plums live up to their name, with a deep purplish-black hue. When cut, they twisted right off the stone, revealing a two-toned yellow and red centre.

The juice dripped right down my arm almost to the elbow as I bit into the multicoloured segments. These were slightly less sweet than the smaller variety – prettier, yes, but not quite as delicious.

Amber Plum, London Editor, Business Spectator

A+, five stars. Check out her reporting on the mood in the streets of Athens as the Greek debt negotiations continue here.

The Conservative Breakfast Club

Politicians’ eating habits have been in the news again this week, with mining magnate-turned-Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer declaring that he had to leave a press conference he was giving with environmental campaigner and former US vice president Al Gore in order to attend an “urgent dinner”. It was scarcely dinner time, around 5.42pm, prompting the question of whether he keeps quite grandfatherly hours, or whether he does actually eat more than one dinner each night, as Treasurer Joe Hockey earlier suggested. Mr Hockey declared it would be easy enough to bump into Mr Palmer in a restaurant after the PUP leader attended a widely reported dinner with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson last month. The menu featured fried rice, duck, chicken and a caramelised banana split with coconut ice-cream, Mr Palmer told reporters. Delicious.

But the most intriguing recent question about our leaders’ meals arose the morning after the federal budget was handed down. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss gave a speech at the Conservative Breakfast Club, held in Brisbane City Hall. The Conservative Breakfast Club’s website explains that the club allows business people to hear from conservative politicians, and it features many full-colour and sepia-toned photos of yachts and skyscrapers, but none of breakfast. This made me wonder, is the breakfast also conservative? Continue reading

The advice I didn’t share with Australia’s newest student editors

2014 NEWS Conference

Sam Cooney, Kat Muscat and I spoke about how to keep calm and edit a magazine. Image courtesy of Lefa Singleton Norton.

Recently I had the great pleasure of speaking at a conference for freshly minted student magazine editors from around Australia. In my capacity as former Farrago co-editor, I was on a panel with two editors I admire very much, Voiceworks’ Kat Muscat and The Lifted Brow’s Sam Cooney, and our brief was to share tips on managing volunteers and reassure the students that everything was going to be fine. We had so much advice, and they had such well-considered questions, that we ran slightly over time and I ended up leaving out some advice that might be relevant to your life whether or not you are a student editor. And many of the editors have released their first issues of the year already and are doing brilliantly without this tip. But here it is, in case you need it later: Continue reading

Why I haven’t been watching Girls


It’s hard to remember where I first heard of a TV show that has been written about as extensively as Girls. I don’t think it was on KYD, or Liticism, or Jomad Meets The Rereaders, or this wonderful memoir about job-hunting, but probably either on Daily Life, or in this analysis of race on The Hairpin. I watched a three-minute clip that seems to have been taken down now of one character reading out advice from an advice book and instantly recognised myself, reading out advice from advice blogs to friends suddenly navigating the grown-up problems of work and relationships and sexism (see, a blog post I did collating the wisdom of advice bloggers I shared most often for easy reference). I laughed out loud and mentally added the show to my to-watch list.

But I also gathered from the flood of opinions on the internet about this show that the protagonist was a writer in her mid-twenties who was struggling to get paid for her work after spending two years as an unpaid intern supported by her parents after finishing a liberal arts degree. Continue reading

Let’s all be less weird about talking meaningfully about money

woman at a computer

Image via Ray from LA on Flickr.

Unsurprisingly there was a new report out this week showing that women in Australia are paid 17.5 per cent less than men, we are paid less than men working in the same field in a bunch of cases, we earn less right from graduation and we retire with less superannuation.

Wendy Squires has an appropriately outraged opinion piece in The Age today asking how on earth this still happens:

Why isn’t the COAG report a call to arms? Why, when what is going on is actually illegal in this country, are we not hearing this discrimination railed against in Parliament, loudly and often? Where are enforced quotas?

And there’s another question I fear I already know the answer to: has my generation failed those following? Continue reading

I have a crazy idea about how to fund journalism


Image via Cimexus on Flickr.

This week billionaire mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest donated $65 million to Western Australian universities for research scholarships in science and technology and for a new residential college.

My first thought was, gosh, that is a lot of money, how very generous. My second thought was, imagine if he had given that to some newspapers, they could do with some philanthropic donations. And my third thought was, actually that would probably not be great for journalistic independence.

I wish that journalism could be funded by philanthropy. And in some cases it can – millionaire founder of accommodation and travel website Graeme Wood has given grants to The Global Mail, The Guardian Australia and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. But due to commercial reality etc, moves in the direction of paywalls appear more common than grants from kindly squillionaires.

I get the argument that online journalism should go behind a paywall because it’s expensive to produce and charging readers for the product is one way to pay the journalists that create it. This makes sense. I am a journalist, I like getting paid for my work, paywalls help make that happen. But sometimes paywalls are spoken about as a way of going back to a golden age when people paid for the news, of correcting the mistake of offering content online for free. This makes me uneasy because readers only ever paid a token amount for print newspapers. Sales revenue wasn’t what paid journalists’ wages. It was classified advertising revenue, referred to as rivers of gold.

So if journalism was traditionally funded by things other than the sale of journalism, perhaps it could be again.

And here is my crazy idea: Continue reading


Quentin Bryce and Tony Abbott's government

Image via

I’ve been doing a little experiment lately. You might have seen it.

I work in an office where Sky News is playing all day and during the federal election campaign, more or less whenever a politician appeared on the TV to give a speech/press conference/debate, I announced on Twitter what colour tie they were wearing.

This was sparked by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s invitation, while launching a fundraising group called Women for Gillard two weeks before she was ousted, to see the looming election in terms of gender.

“It’s a decision about whether once again we will banish women’s voices from the core of our nation’s political life,” she said.

“I invite you to imagine it: a prime minister – a man with a blue tie who goes on holidays to be replaced by a man in a blue tie. Continue reading

How to wear stockings in cold places

Superman statue

Superman statue via giladr on flickr.

When I moved to Melbourne I took all the free brochures/guides about “best places to eat!” and “how to use public transport!” But the thing they don’t tell you is how to wear stockings in winter. There is an art to stocking-wearing in cold places that I learned through trial and error and amazing “didn’t you know that?” revelations from housemates. If you never got the memo, enjoy.

1. Buy wool. I didn’t know wool stockings existed until I moved here but they are SO much warmer than (even thick) regular ones. The first time I wore a pair outside I felt invincible. Sometimes it’s tricky to find wool stockings at Kmart/supermarkets but you can often get them at Myer/David Jones/boutiques.

Yes, they are a bit more expensive. But you won’t be thinking about the price when you’re waiting for the tram late at night and it’s seven degrees with an icy wind.

2. Buy extra-tall. Do this even if you are not extra tall. Don’t look at the weight/height chart on the back and figure out which category you should be in. It’s more comfortable to put them on and have extra material at the top than to put them on and have to make a real effort to get them to reach all the way up.

3. Wear Superman undies. As in, not undies with a Superman pattern on them, but if you want to do that, go right ahead. As in, put a pair of undies on, and then put a pair of stockings on, and then put another pair of undies on over the top.

Finding out about Superman undies changed my life. I always thought stockings fell down during the day and were really uncomfortable. But Superman undies keep them right in place.

Tip: since the outside undies don’t touch skin, you might like to wear them for a few days to save on laundry.

Tip: if your dress is slightly see-through, you might like to make sure your Superman undies are the same colour as your stockings.

Or you could just wear pants, I guess. Up to you.

Free advice

Mountain lion warning

Advice on dealing with mountain lions. Image via ekai on flickr.

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy advice blogs. Over time I’ve realised there are a few classic pieces of advice I remember and share more frequently than others. If you would ever like some free advice, here it is. If you’ve got your life all figured out, please continue.

  • “It’s okay if a crazy person hates you. Everyone else will understand in time. Meanwhile, let them expend that energy. Go work on your novel or whatever.” The Awl
  • How to clean your house in 15 minutes: “Pick up anything that’s lying about. Do the floors in any room where people could conceivably go. Gently simmer some water and cinnamon sticks in a small pot on the stove for 15 or 20 minutes before people arrive.” I’ve never tried boiling cinnamon – let me know how it worked if you have? The Hairpin
  • “Use your words and ask.” Captain Awkward
  • The gold star rule of break-ups: “Get a cheap calendar and some foil stickers from the drugstore, and every day that you have No Contact give yourself a gold star. After two weeks of gold stars, you will officially feel better. After one month of gold stars, you will be noticeably Adjusting Well.” The Hairpin
  • “Drive it like you stole it: Be the best. That is, assuming that you are the best. Be the best you can possibly be, whatever that means to you. Absolutely do not step down in order to not threaten people.” This Recording
  • Work-life balance is not for the young and sprightly: “If there is some phase of your life during which you will be working 15 hours a week, then maybe you should work 60 now. So, cut out anything that is not extremely productive or extremely pleasurable.” The Gloss

What is your favourite piece of advice? I’d love to hear it.