Experiment in summary

April 8, 2013

The History of Rome in 10 Words

A small city grew gradually to become a vast empire.

 

The History of Rome in 25 Words

Under Kings and Emperors and as a Republic, Rome grew constantly for almost a thousand years, and became the greatest power of the ancient world. 

 

The History of Rome in 50 Words

Founded 753 BC, Rome was ruled by Kings until 509 BC, and was a Republic then until Julius Caesar took power in 46 BC.   After Caesar Rome became an Empire, with an emperor.  Rome’s growth from a small city to a great empire was sustained by their success in wars.

 

The History of Rome in 100 Words

Founded about 753 BC, Rome was a belligerent little town that consistently prevailed in conflicts with rivals, and thus grew gradually in size and influence.  Ruled by Kings until 509 BC, Rome transitioned into a disciplined, well-organized Republic which sustained excellence in military preparation and capacity, and thus continued to grow for hundreds of years.    Ruled by an emperor from about 27 BC, Rome reached the zenith of its power in the years 100 to 180 AD, under the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors.   A series of corrupt and incompetent rulers allowed Rome to slip gradually into history.

 

The History of Rome in 200 Words

Founded about 753 BC, Rome was a belligerent little town that consistently prevailed in conflicts with rivals, and thus grew gradually in size and influence.   Ruled in its early years by elected Kings, Rome fell gradually under the power of tyrants.   The Roman nobility revolted in 509 BC, expelled the kings, and established a Republic.  

With a disciplined, educated noble class and a strong ethic of service, the Roman republic continued to grow and thrive.   This led them eventually into conflict with the other great powers of the region, most notably the Carthaginians, with whom Rome fought a series of wars from roughly 264 BC until 146 BC.   After those wars Rome was divided between its own nobility and reformers, and these fought a series of civil wars culminating in a disastrous conflict that brought Julius Caesar to power in 46 BC.   After the death of Caesar, civil war brought to power Rome’s greatest ruler, the Emperor Augustus.  

As an empire, Rome reached the zenith of its power in the years 100 to 180 AD, under the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors.   A series of corrupt and incompetent rulers allowed the Roman Empire to fracture and crumble.

 


The History of Rome in 500 Words

Founded about 753 BC, Rome was a belligerent little town that consistently prevailed in conflicts with rivals, and thus grew gradually in size and influence.   Ruled in its early years by elected Kings, often men of excellent judgment, Rome fell gradually under the power of tyrants.   The Roman nobility revolted in 509 BC, after the son of the King Tarquinius Superbas raped a noblewoman known for her virtue (Lucretia).   The nobility expelled the kings, and established a Republic.  

For a generation after that the Roman city/state was often under attack, and sometimes on the verge of obliteration.  But with a disciplined, educated nobility and a strong ethic of service, the Roman republic recovered, and by the end of the 5th century BC (400 BC) was once more growing constantly larger and more powerful.   This led them into conflict with the other great powers of the Middle East, most notably the Carthaginians, with whom the Romans fought a long series of wars (the Punic Wars) from 264 BC until 146 BC.   Eventually vanquishing the Carthaginians, Rome overran dozens or hundreds of other provinces, bringing hundreds of thousands of slaves flooding onto the Italian peninsula.    This created unmanageable economic inequities, leading to a series of revolts, coup d’etats and civil wars.  These culminated in a disastrous conflict (49-46 BC) that brought Julius Caesar to power.   The assassination of Caesar (44 BC) pitched Rome back into civil war, and this war, after many years, brought to power Rome’s greatest ruler, the Emperor Augustus.  

Augustus made every possible effort to find and train a worthy successor, but failed to do so, leaving the empire in the hands of Tiberius, who was very competent, but vicious and brutal, and then the infamous Caligula.   Still, the Julio-Claudian dynasty (founded by Augustus or, if you prefer, Julius Caesar) lasted until the death of Nero in 68 AD.  

As an empire, Rome reached the zenith of its power in the years 100 to 180 AD, under the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors (Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius.)   As these emperors had no sons, they were able to "adopt" sons, and thus were able to choose successors who were equal to the task of commanding an empire.    They also adopted the practice of  "sharing" the throne, creating orderly transitions of power, and also allowing the younger emperor to learn from the elder.  

Marcus Aurelius, unfortunately, had a son, Commodus, who was lazy, vain, stupid and corrupt.   After Commodus Rome slipped back into the pattern of selecting emperors by a combination of war, assassination, birthright, and the whims of the Praetorian Guard.   This lasted a hundred years, order being finally restored by Diocletian, who gained power in 285 AD.  Diocletian put the empire, which appeared to be almost finished, back into sustainable condition for another century.  After 400 AD the Roman Empire divided into an Eastern and a Western empire, and then into ever smaller and less powerful units, often at war with one another. 

 

 

 

The History of the Jeffrey MacDonald Case in 10 Words

MacDonald’s family was murdered in 1970.  MacDonald is in prison.

 

The History of the Jeffrey MacDonald Case in 25 Words

Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald’s wife and two daughters were murdered in 1970.  MacDonald was convicted in 1979, and remains in prison today, still proclaiming his innocence.   

 

The History of the Jeffrey MacDonald Case in 50 Words

About 3 AM on February 17, 1970, Colette MacDonald and her two daughters, Kristen and Kimberly, were murdered in their apartment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.   Jeffrey MacDonald was legally exonerated in October, 1970, but was convicted of the murders in 1979.   Still proclaiming his innocence, he remains in prison. 

 

 

The History of the Jeffrey MacDonald Case in 100 Words

About 3 AM on February 17, 1970, Colette MacDonald and her daughters, Kristen and Kimberly, were murdered in their apartment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.   Jeffrey MacDonald, husband and father of the victims, survived the attack, which he blamed on a home invasion by a group of hippies.  Macdonald was exonerated in 1970, but due mostly to the persistence and determination of his in-laws, Freddy and Mildred Kassab, was brought to trial in 1979, and was convicted.   Still proclaiming his innocence, he remains in prison.  Many books have been written about the case, and many people believe MacDonald is innocent.

 

The History of the Jeffrey MacDonald Case in 200 Words

About 3 AM on February 17, 1970, Colette MacDonald and her daughters, Kristen and Kimberly, were murdered in their apartment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.   Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald survived the attack, which he blamed on a home invasion by a group of knife-wielding hippies. 

The investigation was slipshod.   Investigators decided that MacDonald had committed the crime, and brought him before a military preliminary hearing in October, 1970.   The officer in charge of that hearing not only cleared MacDonald, but declared flatly that MacDonald had not committed the crime.

MacDonald, however, alienated his in-laws, Freddy and Mildred Kassab, who campaigned to have him prosecuted.   He appeared on the Dick Cavett show, national television, and left Cavett and many of the viewers convinced that he was guilty.   He loudly and repeatedly charged the military with bungling the investigation, greatly annoying those who believed he had gotten by with murder.    MacDonald was indicted in 1975 in a civilian court, pursuant to charges filed by Freddy Kassab.   He was put on trial in 1979, and was convicted of the murders. 

Still proclaiming his innocence, he remains in prison.  Many books have been written about the case, and many people believe that MacDonald is innocent.

 

The History of the Jeffrey MacDonald Case in 500 Words

About 3 AM on February 17, 1970, Colette MacDonald and her daughters, Kristen and Kimberly, were stabbed to death in their apartment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.   Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald survived the attack, which he blamed on a home invasion by hippies. 

The investigation was slipshod.   Investigators decided that MacDonald had committed the crime, and brought him before a military preliminary hearing in October, 1970.   The officer in charge of that hearing not only cleared MacDonald, but declared flatly that MacDonald had not committed the crime.  

Dr. MacDonald, immensely intelligent and charming, went on the offensive after his hearing, loudly and repeatedly accusing the military of bungling the investigation of the crime.   His charm, however, seemed ill-suited to his position in life, and his publicity offensive backfired on him.   He alienated his in-laws, Freddy and Mildred Kassab, who campaigned to have him prosecuted.   He appeared on the Dick Cavett show, national television, and left Cavett and many of the viewers convinced that he was guilty.   He annoyed the military officials who, he said, had bungled the case, which motivated them to look for other avenues to pursue prosecution.   MacDonald was indicted in 1975 in a civilian court, pursuant to charges filed by Freddy Kassab.   He went to trial in 1979, and was convicted of the murders. 

As MacDonald and his lawyers were preparing for trial they were contacted by an author, Joe McGinniss, interested in writing a book about the case.    McGinniss gave MacDonald and his attorneys every reason to believe that the book would be pro-MacDonald, and McGinniss was allowed to join the defense team.   McGinniss sat in with the defense on their meetings, on the preparation of their witnesses, and actually lived with them during the trial; they were all living in a fraternity house on the campus of North Carolina State.   He was MacDonald’s jogging partner and constant correspondent, and MacDonald allowed him complete access to his diaries and other papers.

McGinniss, however, decided that MacDonald was guilty of the crime, and after the conviction McGinniss wrote a book, Fatal Vision, that declared that MacDonald had been justly convicted.   Fatal Vision became the Freddy Kassab story, the story of how Kassab had successfully pursued justice for his murdered daughter.  

McGinniss is not a good writer, and Fatal Vision is not a good book; it is rambling, repetitive, and often incoherent.   It was, however, an immensely successful book, selling millions of copies and being made into an extremely successful mini-series starring Karl Malden as Freddy Kassab.    The success of  Fatal Vision so completely convinced the public of MacDonald’s guilt that this assumption has formed a very high wall separating MacDonald from a re-hearing of his case.   MacDonald’s key defense witness, Helena Stoeckley, died in 1983.  MacDonald remains in prison today, although many, many people now believe him to be innocent.   A recent book by the great Errol Morris (A Wilderness of  Error) argues that he is in fact probably innocent, and was, at the least, wrongly convicted.  

 

Baseball

Whether the defensive shifts we see so often now are a fad or a permanent change in the game of baseball is yet to be determined, but here is one sure thing about them.   This is going to bring the bunt back into the game.   It has to.   The shift in the past was being used only against big, slow sluggers.  Now it is being used against guys who can run.    There is no doubt in my mind that some of those guys are going to be able to bunt well enough to defeat the shift.   I expect to see more bunts for a hit this season than I saw during all of the 1990s.    And I expect to see, sometime this summer, somebody bunt for a double.

 

College Basketball

I was thinking about trying to evaluate College Basketball Coaches’ records by a process similar to that we used here a month or two ago to look at baseball managers, which involves (among other things) comparing the success of their teams to reasonable expectations for the success of the teams.    This idea, however, immediately hits a road block.

In baseball, teams have a 50% relapse rate, which is fairly stable over time (although, of course, it varies widely from team to team.)    A team that is 20 games over .500 one year can expect to be 10 games over .500 the next season.   A team that improves by 12 games in one season can expect to drop back by 6 games the next season.

In college basketball and college football, though, the relapse rates are totally different.    If you look at the powerhouses in college basketball in the 1990s, the 1980s, the 1970s, the 1960s, what you notice immediately is that most of them are still powerhouses today.     Duke finished the 2012-2013 season with a record of 30-6.  A baseline expectation for them for next season wouldn’t be 24-12; it would be more like 27-9 or 28-8.  

Before you could do the same study in NCAA basketball, you’d first have to establish what the normal "central tendency drift" is.     

 

Basketball II

                CBS has done a terrific job with the tournament.   The game broadcasters, unlike certain unnamed clowns who work for ESPN, are mostly inoffensive, and sometimes very good.   The "big five" panel of Charles Barkley, Greg Anthony, Doug Gottlieb, Kenny Smith and Greg Gumbel is absolutely tremendous.   It’s five smart guys who know basketball, have fun with the game, and aren’t afraid to say what they think.   I’ve enjoyed it.  

 

                I’ll have a much longer article tomorrow about the Jeffrey MacDonald case.   Thanks for reading.

 

Bill

 
 

COMMENTS (16 Comments, most recent shown first)

mauimike
Mr. James, has "never advocated anarchy in any form," but he lives it rather well. Most of us do. If we could just get rid of those psychopaths, who rise to the top, like crap, then we could just argue and work things out among ourselves. To many people? Perhaps. What if we're all connected?....Who knows. And they call me a pessimist.
2:49 AM Apr 11th
 
mauimike
Mr. bobfiore, mauimike, here, I assume, "Are you talkin to me?" Said Travis from, "Taxi Driver," which is a good example of authority. I have more guns, I win. "untrue," I'm not sure what I said was wrong. Its a short history, from a certain point of view, but those are the facts. "sentimental," in this case I'm not sure what that means. Am I dreaming of a time when the US government was smaller, maybe, but I've given up on that. In the rest of the world things are looking up. The USSR died. Hundreds of millions were freed in Russia and Eastern Europe. A billion or more Chinese are free, India has more freedom, Southeast Asia is growing. America is the past, trying to impose its will on the rest of the world. How? By killing people. America can blow the world up. What else can the USA do? What does the world buy that we make? Movies, music, pretty paper money? "Order without authority is like ice without water." You mean like the order we imposed in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea? Perhaps your talking about the order at the border, the war on drugs, the post office, the veterans administration, the balanced budget, stopping recessions and on and on. I believe order comes from below. This platform might change the world. Maybe not. Communication is only possible between equals. You can work, trade ideas, goods and services, love who you want and work out the details, or wait to be told what to do. I'm pulling for the guys who believe in freedom. Maybe this time, we'll win. Cause this ship is sinking and rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic ain't gonna work. Ice and water, big boat. How'd that work out?
1:48 AM Apr 11th
 
sokho
My guess, Bill, is that bobfiore's comment about anarchy & sentiment was replying to mauimike's comment (which was a reply to bobfiore's earlier post) rather than to yours. Sorry, bobfiore, if I'm misinterpreting.​
2:04 PM Apr 10th
 
bjames
I have never advocated anarchy in any form.
3:11 AM Apr 10th
 
bobfiore
My objection to your theory is not merely that it's untrue but that it's sentimental.

The problem with the idea of anarchism is that it imagines order without authority. Order without authority is like ice without water.
12:26 AM Apr 10th
 
bjames
1) Large institutions have a huge advantage in the application of brute force. To the extent that you advocate for large concentrations of power, you are, in effect, advocating that the world should be ruled by brute force.

2) I started with small synopsis and worked up to longer ones.

3) The law under which Freddy Kassab initiated the prosecution of MacDonald is a FEDERAL law, not a state law. It applies everywhere.
11:21 AM Apr 9th
 
KaiserD2
I think the much higher replacement rates for players in college basketball, the smaller number of players in the game, and the recruiting advantages that successful teams enjoy, could pretty easily explain the much lower (or non-existent) regression rate in that sport. It occurs to me that the Yankees, Cardinals and Dodgers, who pioneered the farm system, 1920-50 or so, did something very similar in an earlier era of baseball.
On another front, Bill, having read the Francona-Shaughnessy book I'm certainly looking forward to your eventual book on your Red Sox years, but I realize that may be some ways away. Meanwhile, wouldn't it be possible for you to write a general piece about the factors, financial and other, that lead winning teams to do things that are not going to help them win more championships? It seems to me that issue was a major theme of that book.
8:23 AM Apr 9th
 
Steven Goldleaf
How do you mention Caesar by name in 50 words but not in 100? Shouldn't all versions include, and expand upon, the previous version?
4:37 AM Apr 9th
 
mauimike
Interesting point bobfiore. Being from the anarchist side of the aisle, I wonder if these large empires are the result of historians imagination or are they based on reality. Remember almost all historians are employees of a state and most want to keep those paychecks coming. Look at America, since 1945, we've been, 'king of the world.' How's that control in Afghanistan, working out. Lost in Korea, might have to go back, lost in Vietnam, 'won' in Iraq, but we had to go back, but we did kick, Grenada's ass. Empires are hard. We see how ours is doing and I wonder about the rest. Time is quicker now and empires will die sooner. Rome controlled maybe,a little of the world. No North and South America. A little of Asia. No Australia. A little of Africa. No north and south pole. Most people, most of the time live without the permission or consent of the powers that be, but don't tell them that, they'll start killing people to prove you wrong. So it goes. It goes on and on and on and on....
2:21 AM Apr 9th
 
bobfiore
Doesn't the history of Rome tend to bring into question some of the opinions expressed on this site about large vs. small institutions? Particularly if you found a few extra words to mention that the Byzantine half of the empire lasted into the 15th century? Might it not, for instance, tend to demonstrate that if the apparatus of an institution is sufficiently strong it can compensate for the inefficiencies a large institution is subject to?
1:04 AM Apr 9th
 
tkoegel
In the long article on MacDonald, I hope you can expand on how the father-in-law pressed criminal charges. Maybe that's a weird North Carolina procedure, but most places require an actual prosecutor to do that.
2:04 PM Apr 8th
 
Jack
Very enjoyable set of essays -- thanks, Bill!

Wondering: did you write the long essays first, then cut them down, or start with the short versions and build them up?
11:45 AM Apr 8th
 
StatsGuru
I still don't understand why it is so tough for left-handed, slow, sluggers to drive the ball the other way. Hitters like George Brett, for example, could both pull the ball and take it the other way depending on the situation. I realize that batters need to train those reflexes, but I don't understand why they don't take the time to do so. "Here's a free time on base, maybe a double!" Why not take it.
10:55 AM Apr 8th
 
jimgus
Only one "negative"...

The summaries are more entertaining if you read them in gradually shrinking size, instead of gradually growing.

Otherwise, thanks (as always) for your work, Bill.

Cordially,
Jimgus
9:50 AM Apr 8th
 
clarkshu
I remembered Berry's when I read that comment. It was the first AB of his career.
7:51 AM Apr 8th
 
Trailbzr
According to Retrosheet, there were two bunts for doubles last season. Quentin Berry on 5/23 popped one up between first and second. And Juan Pierre on 6/03 layed one down described by B-R as "Double to LF/Bunt (Bunt thru Short LF Line)." Sounds like it might has gone passed a charging third baseman.​
6:11 AM Apr 8th
 
 
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