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Second bubble 

The lessons of history don’t even seem to have time to become history these days. Since mid-September, technology stocks in the US have risen 40%. According to an analysis done by the Financial Times, this is despite US companies cutting technology budgets by 5-10%, with further cuts expected next year.

I liked the quote from Deutsche Banc Alex Brown’s Ed Yardeni (who seems to have lived down his previous obsession with the Millennium Bug): “I think that we’ve got another technology bubble going on – not that the last one ever really burst.”

Up to a point  

Astrophysicists at Warwick University have analysed English and overseas football games to see which is more exciting. Using the same techniques applied to x-ray emissions from black holes, they have determined that English league games are 30 times less likely than foreign games to have “extremal distribution” – in other words, high scores.

This has been reported as revealing that English games are 30 times more boring. Nonsense. Any real fan of sport knows that high scores are a poor indicator of a good game. I’d far rather see a no-hit or one-hit pitching duel than a 15-2 laugher in baseball. Similarly, a good 2-1 football game is always better than one in which more than 10 goals (the Warwick definition of an extreme event) is scored.

“Worldwide, football is more like turbulence at black holes in terms of statistics,” says Sandra Chapman, who led the research. I hope the scientists’ diversion into football was not because of a lack of funding for important astrophysical research in the UK.

Let my people go 

“Free migration is economically logical but politically impossible. The struggle of advanced countries to balance these conflicting pressures will be among the most intractable challenges of this century. But it may also, with luck, encourage a more positive attitude to the promotion of economic development in potential source countries.” Martin Wolf provides a typically cogent analysis of the dilemma facing developed countries with shrinking populations.

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