(Syndicated from The Freelancer)
Despite the gender domination of freelancing, female freelancers working in the media sector may be experiencing a significant pay gap. According to a 2015 survey by the Writer’s Union of Canada, female writers earn only 55% of what their male counterparts make.
On August 22, Gawker.com, the eponymous news and politics brand of media behemoth Gawker Media, officially folded. While the company’s other blogs, including Gizmodo, Jezebel, and Deadspin, will live on in some form under the wing of Univision, Gawker’s ending sent shockwaves across the media industry.
For media companies, it was a frightening reminder of how privately funded lawsuits could bring any publisher to its knees.
But for freelancers, the story was a more chilling example of how words can have personal and professional consequences. I may not be releasing 1,400-word expositions of celebrity sex tapes onto the web (and vowing not to take them down), but rulings like that of the Hogan case trickle down as precedent.
There have been a number of attempts to understand the scope of “the gig economy.” But things are complicated. For one, there’s no real standard terminology: what one study calls “the gig economy,” another refers to as “nonstandard employment,” and a third uses “alternative work.”
Papaya Ringspot Virus, and the “SunUp” and “Rainbow” Papayas: the genetically modified trees that saved a species
Whenever I see photos of the symptoms of Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV) up close, I actually think that if it weren’t so destructive, if would be beautiful.
One of the two strains of this Potyvirus, called PRSV-P, infects both Papayas (Carica papaya) and cucurbits (Cucurbitaceae); the plants suffer mosaic (interference with photosynthesis), leaf distortions, patches of necrotic tissue (which invites fungal infection), deformities in the fruit, and greatly-reduced yields. The virus is highly infectious, moving rapidly from plant-to-plant, primarily through aphid predation.
After being introduced to Hawaii in the 1930s, the virus mutated, and by the 1950s had halted 94% of Papaya plantations on Oahu. Production moved to other islands, but the pathogen followed, and also began infecting home gardens in the 1970s. Even with aggressive horticultural and insecticidal management, by the 1990s, the virus infected commercial plantations, and over 50%-80% of the industry was decimated in various global sites of production.
Carica papaya is a rather genetically homogenous tree, so there were few reservoirs of resistance to the virus to be found in feral or wild populations of the plant. As a result, something else needed to be done to save the production of this fruit: in 1998, the answer came in the form of genetic engineering.
Landscaping has historically been about marrying form and function, the beautiful and the practical. In recent decades, however, a third dimension has been added to the fray: concern for the environment at large. Permeable pavements are an example of all three: beautiful, practical, and ecologically-friendly
Recently, Deere & Co.--the company that manufactures John Deere farming equipment--struck a deal with Monsanto in order to use both hardware and software from a subsidiary company called Precision Planting LLC.
These components, added to tractors and combines, wirelessly transmit data on things like soil, crop performance, and regional weather to Monsanto’s Climate Corp. unit.
This is the age of digital agriculture, where technology mediates many decision-making processes. In many ways, these kinds of technologies will make agriculture more efficient, making more rational and precise decisions than a human could alone. However, there are challenges lurking for farmers looking at high-tech equipment, particularly for smaller-scale producers.
Wired magazine recently described these computerized tractors as a “nightmare” for farmers.
Some of the best things in life are free, and the abundant energy of the sun is one of them. This is very good news for those of us who work with garden and agricultural soils, which are home to hundreds of thousands of crop pests: insects, nematodes, termites, arthropods, rodents and weeds, as well as fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens. The power of the sun can be used in a passive way to defeat a number of these barriers to productivity, using a process called soil solarization.
Conventionally, since at least the 1930s, soil sterilants, like methyl bromide, have been used to fumigate agricultural soils and kill all sorts of organisms, whether or not they are harmful to the crop. Because this chemical depletes the ozone layer, its use has been steadily declining in most of the world since the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Although a solar alternative to using dangerous chemical fumigants has been documented as being used in ancient times by farmers on the Indian subcontinent, it didn’t really catch on here until the mid-1970s.
If you’re a freelance writer, the majority of your editors are probably male and the majority of your colleagues are probably female. That’s not just an anecdotal generalization.
The American Society of News Editors (ASNE)’s latest report showed that, on average, women make up only 37 percent of newsroom staffs and hold only 35 percent of supervisor roles. Yet women account for approximately 73 percent of journalism grads and constitute about 70 percent of enrollees in MFA programs in the U.S, according to a report from the Women’s Media Center.
As traditional salaried writing careers become rarer, both former newsroom staffers and journalistic greenhorns alike are diving in to the world of freelancing. For some it’s by choice, but for up to two-thirds, it’s circumstance.
For women, pushed to the margins of the media industry, freelancing is often the only way forward—and, not surprisingly, wages have come to reflect the gender gap.
When I first contacted Jan Pape, the skepticism in his voice was palpable.
A farmer of domesticated American mink (Neovison vison) since 2001, he’s used to having his work sensationalized in the public sphere with some regularity. So asking to come to his farm with a Nikon in hand meant I had to build a modicum of trust.
Grafting is a task most gardeners associate with trees, but there are numerous applications of this garden skill in working with herbaceous or annual plants. Chiefly, grafting is a viable way to gain more productivity with vegetables in the Solanaceae (or nightshade) family, which includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, and ground cherries.
New novelty grafted nightshades have made it to market in recent years, like the “Ketchup and Fries” or “Pomato” plant—a cherry tomato grafted onto a potato rootstock—and the “Egg and Chips” plant—an eggplant grafted to a potato rootstock.
Copper tools, sculptures and tape—there are a lot of garden products that use this malleable elemental metal. So what does all of it actually do for a garden?
Often heralded as a sort of natural or passive slug and snail repellent, copper in the form of tape on pots and rings around plants are purported to chemically and electrically deter gastropods from munching on plants. However, Robert Pavlis, who curates the blog “Garden Myths,” says the effectiveness of these tools is overstated. It’s certainly a mild dissuasion, but a determined pest can safely cross its barrier. So even though copper isn’t exactly a panacea for the prevention of slimy invaders, it does have other important roles to play in cultivation.
Bagged or baled peat is a regular offering at most garden centers, but in recent years, more attention has been paid to how this histosol is unsustainably extracted from the earth.
Peatlands—also called bogs or mires—are unique and vital water-saturated habitats that house a number of threatened species: Acidic-soil lovers, like carnivorous plants and heathers, are among them. Like forests, peatlands are carbon-sequestering sinks, often hosting thousands of years of successive layers of low- and slow-growing plant deadfall, as well as sphagnum moss.
When peat is harvested in strips for use in the garden (or worse, for use as fuel), these delicate biomes that have taken eons to form are irreparably damaged. In building gardens that require low pH or high-organic-matter soil, consider a number of sustainably-produced alternatives to keep the integrity of these non-renewable ecosystems intact. Although these solutions require some experimentation, they provide the basic building blocks for rich organic soil.
Who would have guessed that rope made from a plastic soda bottle would be strong enough to tow a car? An ingenious little device, the brainchild of French entrepreneurs and simply called a “plastic bottle cutter,” allows anyone to make a upcycled plastic rope at home in varying widths. With a modest funding goal of €8,500 on Kickstarter, the duo has raised €293,000 for their business in less than a month.