Sunday, February 27, 2005


Two extremes show the paradox of today's world

Two things struck me yesterday, a story about the printing industry in Chechnya
"Hard-cover books will come off press in Chechnya this year... Chechnya's printing industry had been fully ruined over the years of conflict. ... in addition to newspapers and magazines we are going to start printing hard-cover books in Chechnya... 40 printed publications including 34 newspapers and 6 magazines have been registered in Chechnya to date... "Our job is not to bring forth a multitude of programs. We must ensure that dozens of newspapers, radio stations and TV channels start effective operation in the republic. The people of Chechnya must live in a situation of media comfort.."

... and my viewing of the DVD of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" with Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. The real star of the movie is computer graphics. The dream of its director since he was 14, the project was finally realized when it hit theaters about seven years later in 2004. I strongly suggest watching the commentaries and other background shorts provided on the DVD. If you're not familiar with what can be done in moviemaking on computer, this should open your eyes. The late Laurence Olivier is in the film, as old footage is used of him and reworked into the movie. And remember: the technology is getting faster and cheaper. (Guys seem to like the movie more; I always liked comics and 1930s-1940s movie serials, so I have a special kinship with the spirit of this work). Internet Movie Data Base: Roger Ebert's review: has a trailer that can be viewed in Quicktime

Quite a paradox: one country considers itself lucky to have books.... another feels that a 14 year old's dream becomes a major studio success is almost commonplace.

*** Sky Captain is yet another reminder that we're not so far from the world described in the 1981 movie "Looker" where famous models were being computerized and then murdered (future appearances don't require per diems and residuals). The movie was written by Michael Crichton, who made his big money with Jurassic Park but has for years been a prolific, and extremely successful writer .

Friday, February 25, 2005


Today's GDP revision

Today's GDP revision from 3.1 to 3.8 for Q4-2004, shows yet again that the government keeps underestimating the strength of the economy. This is the Rodney Dangerfield economy-- it just gets no respect! With this consistent underestimation, one really has to wonder that if the economy turns sour, will the government data really be able to tell us? If they fix their GDP estimation models so that their upward revisions become narrower, will that mean the models will later tell us things are OK when they're not?

I knew this one would be revised based on the employment data and the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports of that period. The ISM surveys have been calling this right all along. (

My guess is that the GDP models do not account for small business the way they should now. The economy has changed so much because of communications tech that small businesses can be a far more powerful force than they once were.

Click on the title of this note (Today's GDP revision) to go to the official GDP press release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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