Evolutionary Theory: Verified or Vilified?

first_imgJeffrey Schwartz has reason to be happy that his particular theory of evolution received some support recently, according to a press release from University of Pittsburgh.  But look at the pedestal he is standing on: the ruins of classical Darwinism and neo-Darwinism.  In supporting his own theory, he kicked out the props from under standard evolutionary theory (emphasis added in all quotes):Fossils:  The missing links Darwin expected to find “have not been found because they don’t exist,” he claims.  The gradualistic theory “glosses over gaps in the fossil record,” he accuses.Gradualism:  Gradual change does not occur: “evolution is not necessarily gradual but often sudden, dramatic expressions of change.”Resistance to change:  “Why don’t cells subtly and constantly change in small ways over time, as Darwin suggests?  Cell biologists know the answer: Cells don’t like to change and don’t do so easily.”Quality Control:  “Cells in their ordinary states have suites of molecules—various kinds of proteins—whose jobs are to eliminate error that might get introduced and derail the functioning of their cell.  For instance, some proteins work to keep the cell membrane intact.  Other proteins act as chaperones, bringing molecules to their proper locations in the cell, and so on.  In short, with that kind of protection from change, it is very difficult for mutations, of whatever kind, to gain a foothold.”Improbability:  Mutations “may be significant and beneficial (like teeth or limbs) or, more likely, kill the organism.”Disequilibrium:  “This revelation has enormous implications for the notion that organisms routinely change to adapt to the environment.  Actually, Schwartz argues, it is the environment that knocks them off their equilibrium and as likely ultimately kills them as changes them.  And so they are being rocked by the environment, not adapting to it.”With statements like this, that seem to echo those of creationists, what is Schwartz proposing in the place of standard neo-Darwinism?  It’s called the “Sudden Origins Theory.”  That sounds like creationism, too.  It’s not.  It is repackaged evolutionary theory, just as unguided and naturalistic as the old, but now it puts more emphasis on the environment as the instigator of adaptive change.  Aided by colleague Ian Tattersall, Schwarz wrote a book on this six years ago, Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species (John Wiley & Sons, 2000), that the press release summarizes:The mechanism, the authors explain, is this: Environmental upheaval causes genes to mutate, and those altered genes remain in a recessive state, spreading silently through the population until offspring appear with two copies of the new mutation and change suddenly, seemingly appearing out of thin air.Because cells resist change and correct their errors, defeating gradualism, Schwarz and Tattersall looked for other ways to make mutations stick.  The environment became the stressor to knock organisms out of kilter and plant the germs of creative change into their genes, in a recessive state.  There, the ones that don’t kill the organism await the next opportunity to bloom.  These recessive mutations amount to a sort of toolkit for evolution to tinker with, not knowing what they are good for until a need arises in the environment.    Why is this six-year-old proposal getting press now?  Schwarz just co-authored a paper with Bruno Maresca, appearing in the Jan. 30 New Anatomist Journal, that they claim supports the new theory, based on some “emerging understanding of cell structure” that was left unspecified in the press release.    One implication of Schwarz’s theory is that today’s organisms are loaded with mutations from previous environmental stresses.  It is too late, therefore, to try to make a quick fix to the environment.  “The Sudden Origins theory, buttressed by modern cell biology,” he said, “underscores the need to preserve the environment—not only to enhance life today, but to protect life generations from now.”So he ends with a flourish, giving a little politically correct environmentalist spin to help legitimize his rhetoric and distract attention from his crazy idea.  This is rich.  Schwartz and Tattersall have just corroborated all the criticisms creationists bring against neo-Darwinism: mutations are generally harmful, cells are intricately designed to resist change, and the fossil record, riddled with real gaps, debunks gradualism.  Thank you, Dr. Schwarz, for helping shovel standard evolutionary theory into the dustbin of history.    But is his replacement any better?  All he has done is transfer the creative power of evolution from one undirected, natural cause (gradual natural selection) to another undirected, natural cause (the environment and sudden natural selection).  Has he shown that the pool of recessive mutated genes has any more creative power to generate wings and eyes than the old gradualism?  Has he explained how fully-formed, functioning complex organs, like teeth or limbs, could burst on the scene, as if from nowhere?  This is not science, this is magic.  The new evolutionists have become illusionists, producing rabbits out of thin air.    With friends like these, Charlie doesn’t need enemies.  This press release announces open season for creationists and intelligent design people and all the critics of evolutionary theory to brush past the fluff of “Sudden Origins” evolution and to say, “We told you so!”(Visited 5 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

The ‘S’ in BRICS: an African perspective

first_img22 January 2013South Africa’s foreign policy contends that our national interests are better safeguarded by not just focusing on our own national interests, but broadly on the interests of our region and our continent.Our country, as a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc, is playing an important role towards the shifting and distribution of power internationally. This shift is expected to give rise to a multi-polar world order.Our interaction with fellow BRICS states is premised on three levels of engagement: firstly, national, where we advance our national interests; secondly, regional, where we promote regional integration and interaction with specific emphasis on the African Union mandate given to President Jacob Zuma to promote infrastructure development across the continent; and, thirdly, on a global level, where we advocate for a more inclusive global governance system.The BRICS bloc represents 43% of the world’s population, approximately one-fifth of global gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at US$13.7-trillion, as well as combined foreign reserves estimated at $4.4-trillion.Last year, 2012, the BRICS countries accounted for approximately 11% of global annual foreign direct investment (FDI) flows ($465-billion) and 17% of world trade.Promoting the African agendaSouth Africa’s membership of BRICS contributes to further leveraging economic opportunities for our own development agenda as well as that of the continent.We want to ensure that our membership of BRICS also benefits the entire continent. The Fifth BRICS Summit scheduled for 26-27 March 2013 in Durban will constitute another high-level opportunity to further support key priority areas of the African agenda.Asset Management Global chairman, Mr Jim O’Neill, published an article entitled “South Africa’s BRICS Score: Not All Doom and Gloom”. O’Neil argued objectively that South Africa could more than justify its presence in BRICS if it helped Africa to fulfill its remarkable potential by exploring cross-border expansion in trade and infrastructure, as well as improvements in domestic productivity.Africa is emerging as one of the fastest growing markets with the potential of future growth due to the demographic basis underpinning this growth and the new consumer market that is emerging.BRICS-Africa trade set to trebleThe BRICS countries now constitute the largest trading partners of Africa and the largest new (not total) investors.The BRICS investment portfolio in Africa is very encouraging and promising. Over the past decade, we have seen a seismic acceleration of commercial and strategic engagements between the BRICS and Africa.BRICS has nourished Africa’s economic emergence and elevated the continent’s contemporary global relevance. The recession and recovery period has enhanced this shift. In 2010, Standard Bank economists predicted that BRICS-Africa trade will “see an additional increase in the velocity of BRIC-Africa engagements, with trade and investment spearheading the commercial charge”.According to Standard Bank, BRICS-Africa trade will increase threefold, from $150-billion in 2010 to $530-billion in 2015.The exponential growth potential of BRICS over the years to come will impact considerably on the future of emerging markets and developing economies – especially in the case of Africa.Tackling SA’s, Africa’s challengesSouth Africa’s membership of this emerging markets bloc must be understood within the context of what we wish to achieve against the current challenges we face as a country and a continent.As part of the developing world, South Africa faces the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. BRICS Leaders engage in peer learning and share best practices and development models.The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, outlined 10 specific priority areas at the New Delhi Summit last year. These included job creation; skills upgrading; energy, food and water security; sustainable growth through expanded trade opportunities; clean energy; income inequality; urbanisation; and the impact of the external geo-political environment.Due to the complex nature of our challenges, the South African government has singled out infrastructure development as a key vehicle for improving the quality of life of the people. Infrastructure development is also expected to boost our competitiveness and create jobs.Supporting Africa’s industrialisationOur BRICS partners view South Africa as a springboard into the African continent and a partner for economic development opportunities.At the New Delhi Summit, President Zuma met with captains of industry from fellow BRICS member states and invited them to join hands with South African companies in the development of Africa, pointing out that in the infrastructure sector alone, $480-billion in investments will be required over the next 10 years.BRICS leaders already expressed support in the Sanya Declaration for infrastructure development in Africa. They are committed to the continent’s industrialisation within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).In the Delhi Declaration, the leaders expressed further support for Africa’s industrialisation, saying they “attach the highest importance to economic growth that supports development and stability in Africa, as many of these countries have not yet realised their full economic potential”.The BRICS economies, which already constitute between 20 and 25 percent of global GDP, will link a large part of Africa with the fastest growing economies in the world.First published on 16 January 2013 by the Department of International Relations and Cooperationlast_img read more

Angels in the Valley – The Willamette Valley, That Is

first_imgEarlier this year, ReadWriteWeb ran a series “Never Mind the Valley,” featuring some of the locations outside of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area that are home to vibrant entrepreneurial communities. While Oregon’s largest city Portland made the list, the city to the south — my hometown — of Eugene did not.But today, RWW co-editor Marshall Kirkpatrick and I attended the Willamette Angel Conference here in Eugene, and it was a great reminder that entrepreneurship thrives in many communities. More importantly, you needn’t head to “the big city” in order to pursue your startup dreams.Now granted, Eugene, Oregon is no stranger to entrepreneurship. University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman invented the sole for a running shoe here, something that he along with his student Phil Knight parlayed into the Nike Corporation. The city boasts the oldest open-air craft market, where roughly 300 entrepreneurial artisans sell their goods each Saturday. Eugene has solid tech roots as well. Brøderbund Software, Palo Alto Software, and GarageGames were all founded here, and Symantec and Playdom have a service center and studio here respectively. Today’s Willamette Angel Conference is a joint venture between Eugene and Corvallis, home to Oregon State University – the UO’s PAC10 and Civil War rival. But despite sports rivalries and a competition for an investment prize at today’s event, the event was thoroughly focused on building a strong and sustainable local entrepreneurial community. In the words of John Sechrest, Economic Development DIrector for the Corvallis-Benton Chamber Coalition: “Buy local. Product local. Invest local.”Seven startups competed in today’s contest, each giving 10 minute pitches. Six were chosen in advance by the angel investors based on their business plans. The seventh was selected by an audience vote after a short “ignite pitch” round. Based on the investment interests of the Willamette Angels, the companies ranged from cancer diagnostic software to a small business e-commerce tool. Those presenting their pitches took questions from a panel of investors as well as from the audience. While only one company walked away with the $165,000 investment prize, arguably everyone benefited from the event. Part of this stemmed, of course, from the ability to network face-to-face with potential investors and partners. But part of the benefit to entrepreneurs came from simply watching the pitches, listening to the questions asked of the competitors – questions about scaling, IP protection, and exit strategies, for example – and listening to a panel of entrepreneurs this afternoon speak to some of the common issues with which they struggle. “I’ll be here next year,” was a phrase I heard repeated a lot.A recent Harvard study found that angel-backed companies are more likely to succeed. According to the report, “Access to capital per se may not be the most important value-added that angel groups bring. Some of the ‘softer’ features, such as angels’ mentoring or business contacts, may help new ventures the most.” It was good to see the all of this – along with some very innovative startups – at work in my hometown of Eugene.Photo from Flickr audrey watters Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Tags:#events#start Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Vegetated Roofs

first_imgVegetated roofs are low-slope roofs the have enough soil (or soil-like growth medium) on top of the roofing to support the growth of grass, wildflowers, or shrubs. Although some people call this type of roof a “green roof,” the term “vegetated roof” is more accurate and less confusing.Vegetated roofs can be humble or sophisticated. In Scandinavia and the Great Plains of North America, these roofs used to be called “sod roofs.” Most sod roofs were installed by poor people in rural regions, and most sod roofs leaked. Later versions of the sod roof included a waterproof membrane under the sod, improving performance.In the early 1970s, Malcolm Wells, a widely respected green architect, began preaching the gospel of underground architecture. Wells took his vegetated roofs seriously; he famously noted that his definition of an underground house was a house with enough dirt on top to grow mature trees. Interviewed at his underground house in 1999, he said, “I have three feet [of dirt] here, but if I had to do it again, I’d put about 10 feet of earth up there, so it could be a truly natural habitat for all plants.” He bragged that his roof had “a couple of pine trees, now about four feet tall.”These days, most vegetated roofs have better specifications than the old sod roofs, but less impressive specifications that Malcolm Wells’ 10-foot-deep ideal. Most vegetated roofs have between 3 inches and 6 inches of soil. That’s not enough to create a natural habitat; it’s just enough to create a kind of ersatz pasture — one that looks green if you remember to water it. Why install a vegetated roof? Vegetated roofs are quite expensive. While some architects estimate that… This article is only available to GBA Prime Members Start Free Trial Already a member? Log incenter_img Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details.last_img read more

Australia sorry for vandalism

first_imgAustralian chef de Mission Steve Moneghetti has expressed regret over the involvement of the country’s athletes in an incident of vandalism at the Commonwealth Games Village earlier this week. The country, which had earlier denied its involvement, has finally apologised and offered to pay for the damages caused, said Organising Committee spokesperson Lalit Bhanot.Australian athletesThe incident occurred when a few Australian athletes went on rampage at the Games Village, apparently out of frustration following India’s 2-0 cricket Test series win against their national team. Reports also claimed that the Australians also shouted slogans against Indian batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, who played a pivotal role in India’s victory.According to a statement issued by the Australian High Commission, “There were indeed some spirited celebrations involving the Australian team and a number of other teams at the athlete’s village. The athletes were enjoying their stay in Delhi and celebrating their achievements in the Commonwealth Games.A good story we would have thought. “We can confirm that in the course of those celebrations, a washing machine was damaged, though it remains unclear who did the damage, what their nationality was, and whether it was deliberate or accidental,” said the statement. Bhanot’s statement, however, contradicts the Australian High Commission’s stand that the reports of Aussies indulging in vandalism are baseless.”The reports regarding Australian celebrations at the Athletes’ Village and the resultant damage to a washing machine are true. The person in charge of Tower 21 brought it to the notice of the Village authorities. The issue was taken up with the Australian CGA who regretted the incident and agreed to pay for the damage as per guidelines,” Bhanot said.advertisementBut the Australian High Commission denied the reports saying: “It is factually wrong, insulting to Australia’s athletes and can only be described as a fantasy.”However, Delhi Police confirmed that a washing machine was thrown from the eighth floor of a residential block housing Australians. Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief Perry Crosswhite confirmed that an Aussie athlete has indeed been sent home from Delhi for disciplinary reasons.”No one was injured in Thursday’s incident,” Crosswhite said on Friday. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying that he was disappointed by the incident. “We don’t know who did that. Delhi police came around and they’ve done an investigation,” Crosswhite said.He also revealed that one of the athletes was sent home a few days ago for bad behaviour but did not reveal the person’s identity. CWG Village in-charge Ashok Kapur said it was no major incident and indicated that the athletes were just having fun.”It happened at around 4 am and that the team management had already apologised for it,” Kapur said.last_img read more

Low back pain- chronic

first_imgDefinitionLow back pain is common. Almost everyone has back pain at some time in their life.Often,the exact cause of the pain cannot be found.Low back pain that is long-term is called chronic low back pain.Alternative NamesNonspecific back pain; Backache – chronic; Lumbar pain – chronic; Pain – back – chronic; Chronic back pain – lowCausesA single event may not have caused your pain. You may have been doing manyactivities, such as lifting the wrong way, for a long time.Then suddenly, one simple movement, such as reaching for something or bending from your waist, leads to pain.Many people with chronic back pain have arthritis.Or they mayhaveextra wear and tear of the spine, which may be due to:Heavy use from work or sportsInjuriesor fracturesSurgeryYou may have had a herniated disk,in whichpart of the spinal disk pushed onto nearby nerves. Normally, the disks provide space and cushion in your spine. If these disks dry out and become thinner and more brittle, you can lose movement in the spine over time.If the spaces between the spinal nerves and spinal cord become narrowed, this can lead to spinal stenosis. These problems are called degenerative joint or spine disease.Other possible causes of chronic low back pain include:Curvature of the spine, such as scoliosis or kyphosisMedical problems, such as fibromyalgiaor rheumatoid arthritisPiriformis syndrome, a pain disorder involving a muscle in the buttocks called the piriformis muscleYou are at greater risk for low back pain if you:advertisementAre over age 30Are overweightAre pregnantDo not exerciseFeel stressed or depressedHave a job in which you have to do heavy lifting, bending and twisting, or that involves whole body vibration, such as truck driving or using a sandblasterSmokeSymptomsDull achingSharp painTingling or burning sensationWeakness in your legs or feetLow back pain can differ from person to person. The pain may be mild, or it can be so severe that you are unable to move.Depending on the cause of your back pain, you may also have pain in your leg, hip, or on the bottom of your foot.Exams and TestsDuring the physical exam, the health care provider will try to pinpoint the location of the pain and figure out how it affects your movement.Other tests you have depend on your medical history and symptoms.Tests may include:Blood tests,such asa complete blood count and erythrocyte sedimentation rateCT scan of the lower spineMRI scan of the lower spineMyelogram (x-ray or CT scan of the spine after dye has been injected into the spinal column)X-rayTreatmentYour back pain may not go away completely, or it may get more painful at times. Learn to take care of your back at home and how to prevent repeat episodes of back pain. Thiscan help you continue with your normal activities.Your doctor may recommend measures to reduce your pain, including:A back brace to support your backCold packs and heat therapyTractionPhysical therapy, involving stretching and strengthening exercisesCounseling, to learn ways to understand and manage your painThese health care providers can also help:Massage therapistSomeone who performs acupunctureSomeone who does spinal manipulation (a chiropractor, osteopathic physician, or physical therapist)If needed, your doctor may prescribe medicines to help with your back pain:Aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), or ibuprofen (Advil), which you can buy without a prescriptionLow doses of prescription medicinesNarcotics or opioids when the pain is severeIf your pain does notimprove with medicine, physical therapy, and other treatments, your doctor may recommend an epidural injection.Spinal surgery is considered only if you have nerve damage or the cause of the back pain does not heal after a long time.In some patients, a spinal cord stimulator can help reduce back pain.Other treatments that may be recommended if your pain does not improve with medicine and physical therapy include:Epidural injectionSpinal surgery, only if you have nerve damage or the cause of your pain does not heal after a long timeSpinal cord stimulation, in which a small device sends electric current to the spine to block pain signalsSome people with low back pain may also need:Job changesJob counselingJob retrainingOccupational therapyOutlook (Prognosis)Most back problems get better on their own. Follow your health care providers advice on treatment and self-care measures.When to Contact a Medical ProfessionalCall your health care provider if you have severe back pain that does not go away. Call right awayif you have numbness, loss of movement, weakness, or bowel or bladder changes.advertisementReferencesClarke JA, van Tulder MW, Blomberg SE, et al. Traction for low-back pain with or without sciatica. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(5):CD003010.Henschke N, Ostelo RW, van Tulder MW, et al. Behavioural treatment for chronic low-back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(7):CD002014.Chou R, Huffman LH. Medications for acute and chronic low back pain: a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society/American College of Physicians clinical practice guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:505-514.Chou R, Huffman LH. Nonpharmacologic therapies for acute and chronic low back pain: a review of the evidence for an American Pain Society/American College of Physicians clinical practice guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:492-504.Dixit R. Low back pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al., eds. Kellys Textbook of Rheumotology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 47.Manchikanti L, Abdi S, Atluri S, et al. An update of comprehensive evidence-based guidelines for interventional techniques in chronic spinal pain. Part II: guidance and recommendations. Pain Physician. 2013;16(2 Suppl):S49-283.Review Date:5/28/2013Reviewed By:Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, FRCS (C), FACS, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles CA; Department of Surgery at Los Robles Hospital, Thousand Oaks CA; Department of Surgery at Ashland Community Hospital, Ashland OR; Department of Surgery at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Cheyenne WY; Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.last_img read more

10 months agoJuventus striker Moise Kean ponders January options

first_imgJuventus striker Moise Kean ponders January optionsby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveJuventus striker Moise Kean cannot rule out a January move away.Kean is eager to secure regular first team football after spending much of this season in the stands.A loan move away has been mooted for the youngster and he says: “Sincerely, I do not know what will happen in January.”The club will decide what to do and I only think about training and continuing to work to build something for the future. “If I feel ready for an experience abroad? I do not know yet. All I want is to become better.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img

Shaftesbury Simplified New Look and Organizational Structure for Leading Scripted Content Company

center_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitter The company’s branded entertainment division, formerly known as shift2, was founded in June 2014 when Shaftesbury partnered with Youth Culture. The division now comes fully under Shaftesbury ownership; led by Kaaren Whitney-Vernon, now SVP Branded Content, the department continues to work with brands to explore their millennial voice using engaging scripted series and innovative social media strategies to drive measurable ROI. Shaftesbury’s most recent branded project is Upstairs Amy, produced in partnership with Walmart Canada and Interac, which launched earlier this week.“This is an exciting time for branded content as more brands put marketing dollars towards engaging and entertaining audiences. Shaftesbury has a legacy of creating great stories and memorable characters, and finding just the right talent to play these roles. We are bringing our brand partners this talent to help build their brands and their fan bases,” said Kaaren Whitney-Vernon, SVP Branded Content, Shaftesbury.After almost a decade of successful digital innovation and experimentation across a range of content and platforms, Smokebomb integrates under Shaftesbury. Additionally, Shaftesbury today announces the launch of Shaftesbury VR, which researches and develops advanced virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mobile media products for the health and wellness industry. In the coming weeks Shaftesbury VR will announce its first major US partnership. The division will be led by Jay Bennett, SVP Creative & Innovation, Ted Biggs, VP Convergent/Technology, and Claude Gagnon, Shaftesbury board member and former president of Technicolor Creative Services.“We are excited to continue to experiment with new ways to use content to entertain and engage fans across a range of platforms. Our entrance into the VR marketplace with a focus on the growing global health and wellness industry represents our continued commitment to connect with new audiences, in new ways, through the power of storytelling,” said Jay Bennett, SVP Creative & Innovation, Shaftesbury.Shaftesbury’s current slates includes 11 seasons of Canada’s #1 drama Murdoch Mysteries, new detective series Frankie Drake Mysteries, Slasher: Guilty Party, The Carmilla Movie, Emerald Code, Upstairs Amy, and Darken.About ShaftesburyShaftesbury is an award-winning creator and producer of original content for television, film, digital, and brands. Shaftesbury’s current slate includes 11 seasons of Murdoch Mysteries for CBC, UKTV, and ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment, detective drama Frankie Drake Mysteries for CBC and UKTV, and two seasons of critically acclaimed thriller series Slasher for Netflix. Shaftesbury’s digital arm produces original digital, convergent, and branded entertainment projects including the global phenomenon Carmilla, mystery series V Morgan Is Dead, supernatural drama Inhuman Condition, and the Slasher VR app for iOS, Android, and Oculus Rift. Shaftesbury’s branded entertainment division drives profitable engagement with millennials using scripted series, turning brands into executive producers. Recent brand partners include Walmart, Interac, U by Kotex®, and RBC. Login/Register With:last_img read more

UConn Has Been Slightly Less Dominant In The Tournament Than It Was

In case you haven’t been reading this site lately, here’s the latest reminder that the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team, which is seeking its third straight national title Tuesday in Tampa, is really, really good. UConn is way more dominant than Kentucky’s men’s team was even before the Wildcats lost in the national semis. It’s way better than its closest rivals in the women’s game: Notre Dame, its opponent Tuesday. And it’s even way more dominant than its worthiest rivals: other recent UConn teams.Before the tournament began, we tracked how much UConn led by in its games, on average, throughout the 40 minutes of regulation. Not only had UConn crushed its opponents by an average of 42 points per game this year, but it was even more dominant earlier in the game — for instance, it led at halftime by an average of 25 points. And at just about every stage of the average game, the Huskies were ahead by more points than the UConn teams of the previous four years. The big exception was their Elite Eight game against Dayton, in which UConn had a lead of more than 10 points for less than a quarter of the game.What we didn’t know then is whether the comparison would hold up once the NCAA tournament began. UConn would have to face some tough competition — could it continue to dominate?The answer is a qualified yes. UConn’s average halftime margin has been 18.2 points during the tournament, compared to 24.8 points in the regular season and American Athletic Conference tournament — a drop-off of 27 percent. But it has caught up a bit in the second half of games, winning by an average of 37.4 points — just 11 percent lower than its 42.1-point average lead at the end of regulation coming into the tournament. That may mean that UConn peaked at different times in tournament games, or that the 11 percent gap is understating the extent to which UConn has struggled in the tournament, since it spent less time with its foot off the gas pedal in the second half. Of course, struggling is relative for these Huskies: They’ve still won each of their tournament games by at least 21 points.A related question we faced was how much of this team’s apparent edge over its UConn predecessors would drop away once it, like its predecessors, had to play in the tournament. The answer is, not much.This chart isn’t finished yet — Notre Dame will have something to say about it. Our March Madness predictions give the Fighting Irish only a 14 percent chance of winning. They have an even smaller chance of winning by enough to change UConn’s overwhelmingly dominant profile.Correction: An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to a tournament in which UConn played. It was the American Athletic Conference tournament, not the Big East. read more

Shark week Titus I could raise some hell with this draft

When the final buzzer sounded at the end of Ohio State’s win in its regular season finale, Mark Titus’ “playing” career in a Buckeye uniform was over. On his own senior night, Titus shed tears, entered the game, and recorded a “trillion” in his final collegiate game. But is his basketball career over?  Despite entering — and promptly being kicked out of — last year’s NBA draft, Titus said he’s ready to give professional basketball another shot. “I’m going to try, yeah,” Titus said. “I’m definitely still a free-agent NBA player, and if anybody wants to pick me up, I’d be happy to lend my services.” His first priority is getting healthy. Titus missed the majority of his senior campaign with a shoulder injury and had a season-ending surgery following the Buckeyes’ completion of the regular season. But NBA executives need not worry. Titus said he has fully healed and is ready to play.  “I just got out of the sling, which is really exciting,” he said. “I had to wear a sling for like five weeks or something like that. I’m excited to start playing again if I get drafted somewhere.” Titus is aware, however, that some might question whether a guy who played in just 32 games during his four-year career is good enough to play in the NBA. For the doubters, he created his “Mr. Rainmaker” video earlier this year. Following its release, Titus said he planned to use the video as evidence of his exceptional basketball abilities. “I’m going to send the video to NBA scouts and see what comes back from that,” Titus said. “I already tried to get a hold of Greg Oden to tell him to talk to the [Portland Trail] Blazers for me. “We’ll see what happens, but I’m sure I could raise some hell with this draft, too.” read more