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A Japanese trailblazer is set to transform baseball

THE PAST five years have been a golden age for tactical experimentation in Major League Baseball (MLB).  Defensive alignments and bullpen-usage patterns that would have been unthinkable a decade ago have now become commonplace. Yet even the clubs most inclined to think out of the box have never questioned one …

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Books by Economist writers in 2017

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power and its Absence in the Twenty-First Century. By Ryan Avent. St Martin’s Press; 288 pages, $26.99. Allen Lane; £9.99The world of work is changing fast—and not as you would expect, by our Free Exchange columnist. Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day. By …

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Books of the Year 2017

Politics and current affairs The Retreat of Western Liberalism. By Edward Luce. Grove Atlantic; 234 pages; $24. Little Brown; £16.99Few doubt that something big has happened in Western politics over the past two years, but nobody is sure what. Turmoil in Washington and London contrasts with centrist stability in Paris …

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Russia’s overdue Olympic ban is no cure for anti-doping impotence

IT HAS taken seven investigative reports and seven years. But at long last the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on December 5th to punish Russia for running a state-sponsored doping programme, by banning the country from taking a team to next February’s winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Russian athletes …

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Haruomi Hosono, Japan’s pop pioneer

OUTSIDE Japan, Haruomi Hosono is not a household name. Last month’s release of “Vu Ja De”, his 21st solo album, was not met with much fanfare. But for those who know the 70-year-old’s work, his impact can be felt in everything from pop, electronic music and hip-hop to film soundtracks …

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“The Punisher” is a bloody, thoughtful addition to the Marvel canon

REVENGE is one of the oldest plot devices in history. Nemesis, an ancient Greek goddess, dealt in retributive justice; it is at the heart of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “Titus Andronicus”, as well as westerns and films as diverse as “Gladiator” and “Death Wish”. And revenge is the primary motivation of …

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Greta Gerwig’s charming solo directorial debut

“ANYBODY who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento.” The quote from Joan Didion (a writer who, like Greta Gerwig, was born in California’s capital) rather sets the tone of “Lady Bird”. It is a coming-of-age story, following Christine (Saoirse Ronan), a teenager longing to get …

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A surreal take on the war in Syria

LIWA YAZJI, the writer of a new play at the Royal Court, must have known she was inviting accusations of gimmickry when she included a real flock of live goats in her script. Critics would surely complain that the caprine members of the cast of “Goats” were a mere contrivance, …

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Sexual politics on stage

AFTER a night of drunken flirting, Amber and Tom, two college freshmen at Princeton, end up in bed together. Sex was something they both seemed to want. When Tom had resisted playing a game at a keg party earlier in the evening, Amber suggested he should relent “if you wanna …

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OMG, the internet is ruining language, amirite? Wrong

OMG, the kids and the internet are ruining the English language, amirite? The sentiment is so common that it hardly bears a reply, except maybe “meh”. There is certainly plenty of terrible writing on the internet, plagued by indifferent spelling, punctuation and grammar and a lack of any attention to …

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