Friday, August 24, 2007

Freelance rates guide

Fellow Calderdale NUJ chap Andrew Bibby has released the latest edition of his Freelance Ready Reckoner. This is an essential tool for any freelancer (journalist or otherwise) as it breaks down typical staff salaries into equivalent daily rates, and provides recommended freelance daily rates that take your overheads into account.

As Andrew explains:
Many freelances fail to adequately appreciate when pricing their work that they are responsible for a range of costs which, were they working as an employee, would be covered by their employer. These include office equipment costs, premises costs, sick pay, pensions, holiday pay, insurance and various other costs. When pricing their services, it is useful for freelances to take into account what the comparable cost would be for employers if they used their own employees instead.

To download the Ready Reckoner as a handy PDF (56kb), click here.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Stern response

I've just caught up (via the Environmental Economics blog) with an interesting paper from the good chaps at Resources for the Future responding to some of the more considered criticisms to the Stern Review on the economics of climate change.

Thomas Sterner and U. Martin Persson focus on the criticism raised by William Nordhaus (who I've mentioned before) on Stern's assumption of a near-zero discount rate when considering the future costs of long-term climate change (this is a common economist's device based on the principle that a pound today is preferred to a pound tomorrow). I've not been convinced by Nordhaus' argument - while a significant discount rate is certainly applicable in cold financial decisions, it's less so when considering wider social criteria. If someone argues that we shouldn't invest now to try and reduce potentially catastrophic climate change because the current costs of doing so outweigh the discounted future costs of not doing so, then there's an obvious question to ask them: what generation of your own descendents are you willing to sacrifice for your own current comfort? By revealed preference, that should give some idea of their real social discount rate.

Anyway, Sterner and Persson use a few well established bits of economic theory to argue that, even if one takes a higher discount rate than Stern, the same conclusions are still justified.
We argue that nonmarket damages from climate change are probably underestimated and that future scarcities that will be induced by the changing composition of the economy and climate change should lead to rising relative prices for certain goods and services, raising the estimated damage of climate change and counteracting the effect of discounting.

The moderately technical paper can be downloaded as a PDF here.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fabulist economist

Breaking news from this week's Nature on a very naughty economist:
A 63-year-old German economist has for decades falsely claimed an affiliation with the University of Maastricht, in the Netherlands, according to an article in tomorrow’s issue of Nature. The economist, Hans-Werner Gottinger, also appears to be a serial plagiarist, according to Nature’s report.
Mr. Gottinger’s deceptions began to unravel two months ago, after an attentive reader noticed that a paper he published in the journal Research Policy in 1993 had pilfered a string of complex equations from a 1980 issue of another journal. The editors of Research Policy started to sniff around — and their plagiarism investigation eventually turned into something much larger. When they contacted Mr. Gottinger’s ostensible employers in Maastricht, they learned that he had never worked there.

Inevitably, Gottinger has published on social ethics.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Ghost towers of Tinsley

This is the winning design, by Newcastle-based Insite Environments (and presumably copyright to them), in the previously mentioned competition to design a replacement for the doomed Tinsley Towers.

According to competition organisers Groundwork Sheffield:
First placed ‘Insite' chose to include beautiful new towers with a steel lattice frame to mirror the natural, organic forms that have reclaimed the site; towers that are to be of a similar scale and proximity to the Tinsley Viaduct as those existing. Second placed ‘DLA' combined the theme of renewable energy generation with huge hydroponic towers housing research areas for growing bio fuels, whilst third placed ‘Astudio' enhanced their mixed use scheme with a retained cooling tower whose exterior would "bristle" with balcony-like pod structures.

I like the design, a suitably steely ghost of the original landmark towers that, for many regular M1 travellers, serve as the gateposts of the North. Obviously it's far from definite whether they'll actually materialise alongside Eon's proposed biomass plant, but the signs seem good. Meanwhile, the old towers, according to the Star, are likely to come down one early Sunday morning as soon as September.