Summary Of Sebastian Jungers Tribe: On Homecoming And Belonging

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Summary Of Sebastian Jungers Tribe: On Homecoming And Belonging

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Without Reese's knowledge, the player took the bat into the batting cage and—oh no! Because of their light weight, fungo bats are easy to swing and control, but they cannot withstand the impact of a major league fastball. Reese was able to put the broken bat back together, and now he keeps it under lock and key. Pro-life shift not surprising Cheryl Wetzstein, May 26, , Washington Times What's new is that when asked flat-out, most Americans now say they are pro-life.

First, my research showed that young Americans are skewing pro-life. A Gallup poll, for instance, compared the abortion views of teens, aged 13 to 17, with those of more than 1, adults. When asked whether abortion should be allowed under "any" circumstance, adults were more likely to say yes than teens 26 percent to 21 percent. More stunningly, when asked whether abortion should be allowed under "no" circumstances - i. Another poll, released in January by Hamilton College and Zogby International, asked 1, high-school seniors about the morality of abortion. Two-thirds said it was immoral, with 23 percent saying it was "always" morally wrong and 44 percent saying it was "usually" morally wrong.

My experience with youth, both personally and professionally, is that they often recoil at abortion. So I find a pro-life trend in youth to be quite plausible. Second, I think some aging baby boomers are changing their views. People generally become more conservative and self-reflective with age. Legacies matter. Regrets appear. My suspicion is that in more than a few cases, baby boomers who were willing to have abortions are not at ease with the idea of losing their grandchildren, too. It may be that in the autumn of life, being "pro-life" has a whole new meaning. This epochal crisis requires us to resolve the paradox of capitalism : At work, we're told to be diligent and disciplined; elsewhere, hedonistic and self-indulgent.

If I had to answer in a single phrase, I would say: new models for a sustainable social market economy. This requires us to change as well as our states. Capitalism will not end in as communism ended in It is too deep-rooted, too diverse and too adaptable to suffer such a sudden death. There are far more varieties of capitalism in the world today than there ever were of communism, and that diversity is one of its strengths. The rainbow reaches from wild west to wild east, and extends to major national variants of a market economy, such as China, that purists would say are not capitalism at all.

So some versions of capitalism will weather the storm; others will be left in ruins or at least very substantially transformed. See, Darwinism actually works in systems with intelligent design. Faith in the future : Contrary to what evangelical rationalists preach, it is perfectly possible both to be modern and to believe in God. But there is no reason to assume that the American religious model will prevail: a review of God Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith Is Changing the World by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge John Gray, 21 May , New Statesman Whether Marxian or Millian, socialist or liberal, secular rationalists have held one tenet in common: religion belongs to the infancy of the species; the more modern a society becomes, the less room there is for religious belief and practice.

Never questioned, this is what lies behind the hot-gospel sermons of evangelical atheists: if you want to be modern, say goodbye to God. At bottom, the assertion that religion is destined to die out is a confession of faith. No amount of evidence will persuade secular believers that they are on the wrong side of history, but one of the achievements of God Is Back is to show how implausible, if not ridiculous, their view of history actually is.

The notion that modernity and religion are at odds is a generalisation from the experience of some parts of Europe. Europe is now largely post-Christian and the majority no longer follows any conventional creed, but things are otherwise in much of the rest of the world, and notably so in the US, which, during most of its history, has been intensely religious and self-consciously modern. European Enlightenment thinkers have tended to see the US as the exception that proves the rule — an unexplained lag in a universal trend towards secularisation.

Some of the most powerful sections of the book feature narratives of religious communities in improbable places — prosperous, highly educated Chinese, among them scientists and academics, coming together in contemporary Shanghai to read and discuss the Christian Bible, for example. If there is any trend that can be discerned in the parts of the world that are most rapidly modernising, it is that secular belief systems are in decline and the old faiths are being reborn.

As usual, Mr. Gray's multiculturalism prevents him from accepting that, in fact, only the authors' concept of religion works. Are there really 1. Last week everybody looked at one another and pondered a world without Newsweek. Monday wasn't even over yet before everybody found out that Maureen Dowd, who as everyone knows writes a column for the New York Times, had lifted a paragraph from a popular blog and put it into her column and passed it off as her own work. Everybody loves Maureen. She's everybody's favorite. More important, everybody wants to be Maureen's favorite. So everybody pretended this didn't happen. Instead everybody believed Maureen when she said she'd been "talking to a friend of mine" who made a point in a "cogent--and I assumed spontaneous--way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column.

Her explanation was implausible in every particular, compounding her original offense. Normally everybody loves it when this happens, because everybody gets to say to one another, "In Washington the cover up is often worse than the crime! The unthinkable began to emerge as the implausibility sunk in. Everybody's favorite was not only lazy and unimaginative but dishonest too--a bit of a fraud. Just in time the "media critic" for the Washington Post stepped in to deliver summary judgment.

Maureen, he announced, had made an "inadvertent mistake. Then Helen Thomas was hoisted to the podium to present her award to Katie [Couric]. Everybody admires Helen, though nobody can tell you why. Helen mentioned the Palin interview too. You know how everybody feels about Barack Obama--he's the guy the world bends itself to. Lionel Tiger, We wanted, at the same time, to keep people out and expand our group, but always the criteria were about creative skill, surprising knack and sustained and socially critical activity.

And stubbornness--otherwise known as ambition or high standards--which made the difference decades later. One fellow was especially athletic and knowing in his aesthetic drive, and he wrote the finest poetry in the group. He took up singing poetry to music, and we would sometimes troll the same parties with music to try to attract the attention of women who were over-clothed against the fierce winter of the college season.

We did some national broadcasting work together--it was sheer pleasure for lads without a business plan for life. He lived a life untroubled by surface perturbations. He always sustained profound uncertainties about faith, the surprises of time and loyalty, questions that he continues to mine. When I came back from three years away from town, we met for a long walk, and then he offered to sing me the new songs he had written, which he said he felt obligated to perform for anyone who asked.

We sat in the furnished room in which he lived to hear what were to become classic song poems of our time--which it was clear then they were going to be. Competitiveness: The U. Based on a detailed analysis of economic output, government and business efficiency, skills, and infrastructure, the researchers ranked 57 of the world's economies to determine which are best placed to succeed in the 21st century economic race. Topping the list for the 16th consecutive year, unchanged from its No.

With its world-class higher-education system, enormous and diverse economy, and powerful infrastructure, the U. The U. Among the top 20 on the list, only oil-rich Qatar, ranked 14, and China, ranked 20, can be considered emerging economies. The emptiness of Obama's pragmatism : Policy devoid of clear ethical theory creates a nation without principle, and a nation without principle is a nation on stilts. He presumes that policies forged by reason, evidence, and "unbiased" expertise Pragmatism 1 — those policies that "work" — will garner the support of all reasonable members of Congress and thus bridge partisan divides Pragmatism 2.

He bases his belief in the possibility of national and political consensus on this faulty argument. Consensus has not emerged in Washington because disagreement exists over the definition of Pragmatism 1. What "works" for liberals doesn't work for conservatives. Did Reagan's policies "work"? Did Clinton's? The most divisive public policy issues are not that way because liberals and conservatives solve math differently. Economists cannot specify the rights and duties of citizenship. The deeper partisan disagreements are ethical and philosophical. Liberals and conservatives have conflicting intuitions and moral arguments about how we ought to distribute the burdens and benefits of a free society.

Such fundamental disagreement helps explain why Chief Justice John Roberts's bid for more unanimous Supreme Court rulings has faltered. And it sheds light on the Republicans' vigorous opposition to Obama's pragmatic agenda, which they see as a liberal plan to radically reshape American society. For Obama and other Democratic leaders to be the harbingers of a lasting American liberalism, they need to unite their pragmatism rhetoric with real moral argument about the meaning of rights, freedom, and equality.

They need to prove that their understanding of what works is connected to what is right and just beyond mere assertion. Today, that gender gap has reversed. Male happiness has inched up, and female happiness has dropped. In postfeminist America, men are happier than women. The paper is fascinating not only because of what it shows, but because the authors deliberately avoid floating an easy explanation for their data.

We can squabble forever about the choices that mothers ought to make, but the difficult work-parenthood juggle is here to stay. Just ask Sarah and Todd Palin. And there are all kinds of ways — from a more family-friendly tax code to a more accommodating educational system — that public policy can make that juggle easier. They should also be able to agree that the steady advance of single motherhood threatens the interests and happiness of women. Here the public-policy options are limited; some kind of social stigma is a necessity.

Just get rid of divorce. An Overleveraged Presidency : Barack Obama's risky initiatives. Tax hikes, increased energy costs, and new regulations work against the economic recovery that soaring spending and peacetime deficits at historic highs are supposed by Obama at least to spur. A more likely result: stagflation, a simultaneous surge in inflation and interest rates. Obama is now trying to deleverage. In his appearance with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama toughened his policy toward Iran.

His position, a risky one, had been that friendly diplomacy is the best policy for persuading the Iranians to abandon their effort to build nuclear weapons. But Obama indicated he'd turn to stronger measures if the Iranians haven't responded favorably by the end of Obama has set "energy independence" as a goal. But his policies make that goal harder to achieve. His administration has refused to open new areas in the United States and offshore for oil exploration and production. It favors lavish subsidies for renewable energy wind, solar that will do little in the foreseeble future to make up for the shortfall in domestic production of gasoline. As the demand for gasoline increases, as it almost certainly will, there will be only one place to turn: foreign oil.

His takeover of the Big 2 in Detroit, General Motors and Chrysler, poses another risk: downright failure. The auto companies are a money pit, requiring tens of billions in federal subsidies just to stay alive. The public opposes the continued bailout of the auto companies, but Obama is stuck with it. And the chance that either company will soon return to profitability is slim. Taken together, Obama's policies on energy, health care, and financial institutions are risky for still another reason. They require more government control of the economy, which leads inevitably to a less dynamic and innovative economy and to less growth.

Oprah Winfrey says she almost cried her eyelashes off when the young Democrat from Chicago accepted the party's nomination. Jane Fonda admits she became a bundle of nerves, crying all night at the thought of Obama losing the election. Our own Guy Rundle summed up the election of Obama for many progressives. Writing last November, he described how he and the young desk clerk in the lobby of his Washington hotel, who had just come off a hour shift "because that's how you work in George W. Bush's America" , "just held hands and wept for a minute or so, in happiness, in relief, in the victory of something larger than both of us, that contained us both". More likely those were the salad days.

Now, plenty of Obama's most ardent admirers are rethinking their exuberance. Democrats are meant to spend more. Bob Dylan, who once described Obama as "redefining the nature of politics", is shrugging hisshoulders, describing politicians as "interchangeable". Al-Qa'ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is also disappointed: "America came to us with a new face. They have not "changed their crimes, aggressions, thefts and their scandals", he says in a statement released by the SITE Intelligence Group. What did they expect? Democrats lowering taxes for the uber-rich? Of course, Obama could never meet the great expectations surrounding his presidency.

Indeed, the greatness of Obama's presidency will depend on him disappointing Rundle's "global Left", not to mention al-Qa'ida. The responsibility of power means the 44th President has already proved he is more pragmatic than ideological. As much as the Left will loathe this, the unfolding of his presidency is a lesson in the old adage that the office changes the man more than the man changes the office. Today, few people would seem to subscribe to this view. Our lives are filled with the endless distractions of cell phones, car alarms, commuter woes and the traffic in Bangalore.

The rhythm of modern life is punctuated by beeps, bleeps and a generalized attention deficit disorder. But is the idea of happiness as an experience of contemplation really so ridiculous? Might there not be something in it? If there is a state where the soul can find a resting-place secure enough to establish itself and concentrate its entire being there, with no need to remember the past or reach into the future, where time is nothing to it, where the present runs on indefinitely but this duration goes unnoticed, with no sign of the passing of time, and no other feeling of deprivation or enjoyment, pleasure or pain, desire or fear than the simple feeling of existence, a feeling that fills our soul entirely, as long as this state lasts, we can call ourselves happy, not with a poor, incomplete and relative happiness such as we find in the pleasures of life, but with a sufficient, complete and perfect happiness which leaves no emptiness to be filled in the soul.

This is as close to a description of happiness as I can imagine. He would walk with a copy of Linneaus under his arm, happily identifying plants in areas of the deserted island that he had divided for this purpose into small squares. Capitolism : Bankers' Paradise Christopher Hayes, June 8, , The Nation [I]n the midst of a global financial crisis largely abetted by the opacity of bank balance sheets, Congress, at the behest of Wall Street, bullied FASB into changing the rules so companies could make their balance sheets more opaque.

If you believe that collective manias can produce systematic mispricing like the housing bubble , you won't find the banks' complaints implausible. But whatever drawbacks there might be with mark to market, the alternative--allowing banks to decide what their securities are worth--is certainly worse. The technical merits of the accounting change aside, the procedural precedent--Congress stepping in to push a change in accounting standards--is far more disturbing. There aren't many industries able to manipulate the measurements used to assess their worth.

It's about measurement. Democratic Representative Alan Grayson of Florida, who opposed the change, made precisely this point during the hearing, joking that changing accounting rules to deal with depreciated assets was like dealing with cramped airline seating by redefining the size of an inch. The partial relaxing of the standards was a victory for the banks, but they're still not satisfied; they continue to push the committee for another hearing and more rule-relaxing. And there is no organized, powerful opposition to their demands. They still won. The one legislative battle the banks have lost, over a credit card reform bill recently passed by both houses, was also the only bill on which the White House expended any real political capital.

But the president, to put it charitably, tends to pick his battles, so relying on the White House isn't a strategy for success. Battles over the future of finance capitalism continue to be shockingly one-sided affairs. Unless and until this dynamic changes, nothing else will. He writes with much of the verve and brio of his elder brother and with a greater regard for detail and accuracy. He is plainly, however, slightly overawed by him — witness his uncharacteristically rueful admission that he is not prepared to pick any further quarrel on the family front.

On this last, unfashionable point, Hitchens may well discover that it commands assent in surprising quarters. Whatever may be true of scripture, in politics there is something repellent about the notion of the lion lying down with the lamb. Indeed, many would go further and argue that, by turning the old poster colours of interparty combat into pastel shades, Tony Blair performed a singular disservice to British democracy. Eventually the ideologues always react and reclaim the party for the Way that voters have rejected and then the opponent seizes the opening, though always unwilling on the part of the party faithful. The book certainly merits our attention both for its hilarious send-up of the pompous Ditchkens and for its less successful attempt to infuse revolutionary politics with the spirit of the gospel.

The crisis of Enlightenment reason, which was apparent to secular philosophers long before it became part of the popular Christian response to modernity, is little noted in Ditchkens. The privatization of sex, art, and religion has freed these up as sources of cultural meaning independent of politics and as weapons of political critique, but at a great cost. Civilization, Eagleton insists, never fully leaves barbarism behind; purely instrumental, technical reason, having no roots in anything other than itself, can easily generate barbarism.

Even science has roots; following a host of contemporary philosophers of science, Eagleton argues that science is built on assumptions, on a certain kind of faith. Even as it bestows enormous benefits—political, scientific, medicinal—modernity occludes from view certain incorrigible features of the human condition. Ditchkens is forced to treat the non-religious political horrors of the twentieth century as mere blips in the unfolding of evolutionary progress. One of the most individual is Bryan Ward-Perkins's essayistic The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization, which considers the horrific realities of this age of "continuity" -- technology and learning basically vanished in the West thanks to the collapse of civil society.

Almost all reviewers paired Ward-Perkins's book with another book, Peter Heather's full and dynamic portrait of the age, The Fall of the Roman Empire. Heather, the author of major works on the barbarians' ways of warring against Rome, has no doubts about the cause: It was the Huns that did it. Attila's empire may have collapsed within a decade of its founding, but it undid all of the careful layers of civil and military organization that held Rome and the barbarian groups in balance. Heather seemed likely to hold the field for a generation, but this year has seen several new contenders. Focused more on the Eastern Empire and the fifth and sixth centuries, O'Donnell makes a compelling defense of the Gothic kingdoms and a hero of Theodoric, who tried to maintain Roman-style order in Italy.

Receiving the most attention is Goldsworthy's How Rome Fell, and expectedly so: the author's last book, Caesar: Life of a Colossus, took serious classical history to a broad international audience. Here, though, Goldsworthy is troubled by the sheer scope of the material -- he is covering the four centuries from the reign of Marcus Aurelius to that of Justinian, far different from the focused Caesar -- and his narrative comes across as workmanlike in a field where elegance is much prized.

Goldsworthy, moreover, favors political reasons for Rome's collapse. Rome-Washington parallelists like to cite the vast increase in the Roman bureaucracy in the wake of Diocletian and the attendant loss of efficiency. The Roman state did evolve into an institution concentrated on protecting the emperor from usurpation and enriching an inner circle. But as compelling as this argument seems in detail, it is utterly undone by even a cursory comparison with the Eastern Empire, which lasted another thousand years with a bureaucracy even more inefficient and calcified than that in the West. It survived because its borders were defensible and were defended. The West collapsed for many reasons, but the catalyst was the barbarian invasions. As Peter Heather, rejecting Gibbon, so clearly notes in his conclusion: "Without the barbarians there is not the slightest evidence that the Western Empire would have ceased to exist in the fifth century.

In a field dominated by figures like Gibbon and A. M Jones, Peter Heather is a worthy heir. The Roman army was still the most ruthlessly proficient in the world, and it had to be: frontiers needed guarding. To finance it, a vastly increased bureaucracy was in place. The provinces - stretching from Hadrian's Wall to Iraq, from the Rhine to the Atlas Mountains - were now thoroughly Romanised and demanding a say in imperial politics. A single emperor simply could not handle the workload.

So in Diocletian created a system of emperors and sub-emperors. One important result of all this was that decisions were now taken in the great imperial palaces that sprang up all over the empire Ravenna, Trier, Split, Constantinople, etc. The city of Rome was too far from the action. The Senate still met there, but was a shadow of its former self. As for the barbarians the northern Germanic tribes stretching from the Rhine to the Black Sea , they had nothing to offer Rome and after the destruction of Varus' legions in AD 9 were no longer thought worth taking on.

They still raided from time to time, and Romans were not averse to doing deals Germans made excellent soldiers. But the tribes were too disunited to pose a serious threat. Edward Gibbon argued that this world was inherently unstable, doomed to collapse. Heather disagrees. Multiple emperors, admittedly, did cause sporadic and dangerous civil wars. But the problems generated by, for example, slow communications over massive distances, rigid economies and reactive bureaucracies were not new; tax increases to pay for the military did not lead to revolt, since provincials still saw benefits outweighing disadvantages; nor did Rome's Eastern or "Byzantine" empire collapse - indeed, in the sixth century it fought back in the West under the emperor Justinian; and so on.

According to Heather, the collapse in the West was triggered in summer by one event with huge ramifications: the sudden and quite unexpected irruption of a new and terrifying people into barbarian territory on Roman borders - the Huns. It was pressure from them that drove barbarians Goths, Visigoths, Franks, Alans into the Western empire over the next 60 years. The Romans were helpless to stop them. The result was the establishment within the empire of barbarian kingdoms from Gaul to Spain, from Italy to North Africa. As its tax revenue dried up, Rome lost the capacity to raise troops to force these kingdoms back into the imperial fold. Stripped of the power to compel, it was thereby stripped of its authority. In the last Roman emperor, called ironically Romulus Augustulus "little Augustus" , was quietly pensioned off by the barbarian Odoacer, and that was that.

O'Donnell, Georgetown University, Bryn Mawr Classical Review Peter Heather's bulky and, in the UK cheap-paper hardcover edition, clunky volume might very well have been titled Barbarians and Romans, , were it not that this would come too close to the title of his own first book, Goths and Romans, The focus is essentially the same in time and space, with the difference that Heather is more concerned now to speak synoptically of barbarian-Roman relations and their deterioration. This limitation must be emphasized, because a reader might reasonably be surprised to learn that a book of this title would deal with almost nothing that happened anywhere east of the great land walls of Constantinople -- including events in the imperial city itself.

And a reader who remembered that Arnaldo Momigliano and Brian Croke wrote important articles in the s and s on the factitiousness of the tradtional CE date for "the fall of the Roman empire" the selection of the date was made in Constantinople in the sixth century for quite specific political reasons that would be familiar to students of US-Iraq relations of -- such a reader would be surprised to find the old date resurrected and defended here. Heather is at heart a military historian and he does that job well.

His narrative of the events of the century and a half under review is clear and direct and accompanied by 16 quite excellent maps. In English there has been nothing comparable since J. Bury about a century ago, and it is high time to get a better account. The maps are worth emphasis because they so helpfully elucidate the text. They are very clearly and accurately drawn and they exactly match and make visible what Heather is saying in his prose.

I do not see that they are credited anywhere in the book and that is a shame, for it is exceedingly difficult to embody the best of intentions when it comes to adding maps to a book like this. The illustrations, by contrast, are predictable in the extreme: good for those new to the subject, but provoking no thought or interest in the scholarly reader. The main line of argument for Heather is a standard one: that the arrival of the Huns on the west Eurasian scene had the effect of dislodging and nudging other populations along the Roman frontiers, propelling them to seek refuge and residence inside traditional Roman domains. In a series of contingent events, Roman ability to manage and control the refugees and would-be residents collapsed; this was followed by collapse of the tax base on which armies could be raised to resist; and with additional Hunnic pressures and then perhaps his nicest innovation in interpretation when the Huns themselves were no longer available either as bugbears or as mercenaries, the "Roman empire" ended.

What is missing in the book is a reflective sense of the context, particularly as informed in the last generation's work. Though Heather is assiduous in reading and praising the last generation of scholarship, it has had little effect on him. He is well aware, e. Whittaker on the symbiotic relations and evolution of relations back and forth across the Roman frontiers, but I suspect that the general reader of this volume will benefit little from it -- it takes the sharp scholarly eye to notice that the qualification is being made and then dropped.

He makes almost no mention of the effusion of work on late antique "nation-building" except to demur at the conclusions drawn by Walter Goffart and Patrick Amory, but not at all engaging the work of Richard Wenskus, Herwig Wolfram, and Patrick Geary. And the focus of the narrative is relentlessly Roman. In that regard more than any other, Heather is eminently traditional. The simple and much more Hollywood answer is: Rome was destroyed by Attila the Hun.

Peter Heather's achievement is to show that both answers are valid. Some historians, convinced that the drier they can make history sound, the higher their credentials in the world of academe, argue that the Roman Empire didn't really fall. Thanks to "change and continuity", it gently mutated into the kingdoms of early medieval Europe. Heather allows a modicum of truth in this, but also insists that marked a calamitous end.

The culture of Romanitas survived, tenuously, and still does to this day, despite the best efforts of loutish Education Secretaries; but Rome as an organising political force was finished. But why? Two centuries ago, Gibbon argued that the Romans had been turned into decadent sissies by Christianity. Others have blamed causes as varied as lead-poisoning and taxation. Yet in an observer looking around would not have seen much amiss. What crisis? The empire, though divided, was doing fine. A hundred years later, it was all over. Here, in this magisterial new history, Peter Heather explains what went wrong. Yes, of course it was the barbarians, Germanic tribes from across the Rhine and Danube. But these tribes had long been troublesome and had been managed, by trade, intermarriage, bribery, brute force and employment in Roman armies.

Something happened to upset the precarious balance. The first adumbration of disaster came in the spring of , when the empire suddenly faced a problem with a modern resonance. Asylum-seeking Goths by the ten thousand gathered on the northern banks of the Danube, begging for entry. Hoping the refugees would make good soldiers and slaves, Rome let the Goths in. Lacking land and food, they went on a rampage through the Balkans which culminated two years later in the Battle of Hadrianople, in which the Romans suffered one of their most disastrous defeats.

But this was not the real problem. In the words of the historian Ammianus, the Goths were fleeing "an unknown race of men [who] had appeared from some remote corner of the earth, uprooting and destroying everything in its path". The Huns were coming. Bryan Ward-Perkins goes even further. No mealy-mouthed talk of transformation for Ward-Perkins. Instead, all is violence, horror and cataclysm. Which is, of course, to restore to the history of the 5th century AD both a corpse and a mystery. Heather, presenting his solution, consciously employs the language of the courtroom thriller. The barbarians, who are portrayed in current academic orthodoxy as integrating themselves seamlessly into a still-Roman world, are restored by Heather to their more traditional role of violent assassins.

They may not have set out to destroy classical civilisation — most wanted only to share in its benefits — but they destroyed it all the same. For Heather, in particular, this renewed emphasis on the role played by the barbarians has numerous literary benefits. Even more refreshingly, it enables him to impose upon the complex events of the 5th century what academics so often shrink from: narrative. By tracing the exploits of Stilicho, Alaric and Attila, he provides the reader with drama and lurid colour as well as analysis. Like a late Roman emperor, he is determined to impose order on a fabric that is always threatening to fragment and collapse into confusion; unlike most late Roman emperors, he succeeds triumphantly.

There's something so elemental and sturdy about his melodies — whether solo or intertwined with rigorous counterpoint — that makes the music hard to mess up, even when played on a singing saw. The members of the Miami-based Cuban group Tiempo Libre don't play Bach with singing saws, but they do employ bongos, congas, saxophones and gourds — instruments of Afro-Cuban jazz. Their new CD, Bach in Havana, blends Bach melodies from pieces such as the Mass in B minor and the Well-Tempered Clavier with infectious Cuban rhythms including the cha-cha-cha, the son and the danzon. It would be easy to write off Bach in Havana as just another cross-cultural, crossover gimmick, but the musicians of Tiempo Libre come by their blend honestly.

In Cuba, they studied classical music at a venerable Havana music conservatory by day and played Latin jazz rumbas under the cover of night, as the Afro-Cuban style was forbidden at the school. Can California Make A Comeback? Joel Kotkin, In my mind, California's revival depends on three key things. First, the lobbyist-dominated Sacramento cabal needs to be shattered, perhaps turning the legislature into a part-time body, as proposed by one group. Perhaps the cleverest plan has come from Robert Hertzberg, a former Speaker of the Assembly who heads up the reformist California Forward group.

Hertzberg proposes a radical decentralization of power to the state's various regions, as well as cities and even boroughs in urban areas like Los Angeles. This would break the power of the Sacramento system by devolving tax and spending authority to local governments. With a population around 35 million, California is simply too large to be a successful state. It should divide in three or four. Chad Nielsen, ESPN the Magazine The diminutive Argentine may not look like the best player in the world, but that designation--subject to the hottest debate on the sports planet--is as elusive as Messi himself. His speed, ball control, vision and style draw him comparisons to legendary countryman Diego Maradona, even if their personalities are so different.

Messi is as understated as Maradona is flamboyant. And yet, in turning into the Year of the Flea, he has transcended individual skill, elevating FC Barcelona and Argentina's national team with his clutch scoring and brilliant play. And with the World Cup coming next June, Messi can put his stamp on a football era. Lionel Messi is not the next David Beckham, someone more valuable as a brand than as a player. He is not a paparazzi magnet like A. Milan's Ronaldinho or a silky pitchman like Parisian teammate Thierry Henry. The soccer universe, with its huge endorsement power, fawns over articulate pop stars like Man U's Cristiano Ronaldo, who once declared, "I am the first, second and third-best player in the world.

But Messi would rather practice than sit for photos. He avoids eye contact and speaks quietly in Spanish, letting his Argentine lilt soften curt answers. He stops talking when he gets bored, sometimes in the middle of a thought. But with a ball at his feet, the year-old Messi is a genius of self-expression, stringing together tricks and techniques like words in impromptu poetry: right cut, left cut, give-and-go, between-the-legs…all at top speed. It has always been that way. Instinct has already earned Messi a spot upstairs in the FC Barcelona Museum, where rows of championship trophies gleam next to memorabilia dating back a century.

While Messi talks, a plasma screen cycles through some of the greatest plays in club history, including his yard weave past five defenders against Getafe in the Copa del Rey, Spain's playoff-style championship, open to teams from all pro levels. Messi is the catalyst. He attacks defenses, draws men out of position and sets up the setup passes, creating chances no statistic can track. Messi had 37 goals in 50 games through May 16, including eight in the Champions League, Europe's annual showdown of top clubs. In this sense, he is simple: 'I may be small, but you're not going to knock me down. The England striker's appetite for a battle, his insatiable energy and raw power make him, in the eyes of Barcelona's players, the perfect foil for Ronaldo's moody genius.

Central defender Gerard Pique said: "I've never seen a player as powerful as Rooney — the way he goes past people, the intensity of his play, the runs he makes from the first minute to the last and the shot he has. He is world class. Perhaps he does not get the credit he deserves because he should score more goals but he offers so much.

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