Sahotra Sarkar seems in a bit of dilemma about how to treat Michael Ruse’s new book, The Evolution-Creation Struggle (Harvard, 2005). In his review of the book in Science,1 Sarkar knew that Ruse is an important ally in the fight against intelligent design (see 02/18/2003 entry), but he seemed a little bit put off by Ruse’s distinction between evolution and evolutionism. Ruse is brazen in his claim that most evolutionists have made a religion out of the theory. Sarkar begins,In this timely book, Michael Ruse interprets the last 200 years of conflict between biology and religion as a struggle between evolutionism and creationism. Evolutionism is not merely an endorsement of the scientific theory of evolution. It consists of “the whole metaphysical or ideological picture built around or on evolution,” including a belief in progress and attempts to reduce cultural and ethical values to evolutionary biology. As such, it constitutes a “secular religion.” Thus, for Ruse (a philosopher of science at Florida State University), the debate over creationism is more a conflict between two religions than one between religion and science. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Since such a position seems to discredit the natural scientists’ endeavors to investigate the evolutionary roots of ethics and behavior, including altruism and sexual mores, Sarkar appears to take issue with this claim, but only with kid gloves. Most of his review is a dispassionate discussion of the contents of the book with only minor criticisms about omissions or misplaced emphases. For instance, look how he describes Ruse’s depiction of evolutionary theory in the 19th and early 20th century as more religious rhetoric than sound science:The Enlightenment offered a vision of progress based on human effort. The emerging pre-Darwinian views of evolution (such as those of Erasmus Darwin, Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, and Robert Chambers), although hardly professional science, co-opted this vision in their accounts of organic change. Charles Darwin, in contrast, attempted to convert evolution into science by elaborating a material mechanism for it—natural selection. Darwin was at best ambivalent about the ideology of progress. (Alfred Russell Wallace was more convinced of its reality—strangely, he receives scant attention in Ruse’s story.) Moreover, natural selection acting on blind variation was antithetical to the idea of progress with its implied directionality. In spite of Darwin’s efforts, Ruse argues, evolution did not become established as a professional science in the 19th century or even during the first two decades of the 20th. Instead, it remained popular science. Given the generally accepted ideology of progress, natural selection was often abandoned in favor of directional mechanisms of organic change. According to Ruse, during this period, almost all of those who endorsed evolution also endorsed evolutionism. The social Darwinism of the late 19th century only exemplifies the worst excesses of such an evolutionism.Nothing but objective reporting so far. But then, Sarkar gets a little riled when Ruse depicts the cult of progress continuing unabated through the formation of neo-Darwinian theory in the 1930s and beyond:On Ruse’s account, evolution became a professional science following the modern synthesis of the late 1920s and 1930s. Ruse argues, though not very convincingly, that the architects of the synthesis continued to uphold an ideology of progress and endorse evolutionism. He ignores the fact that, with the exception of R. A. Fisher, these architects largely rejected attempts to deploy evolution in the political arena. (Some, such as J. B. S. Haldane, whom Ruse ignores, often explicitly rejected progress.) Ruse’s sketch of contemporary evolutionary theory is also idiosyncratic, with sociobiology presented as that theory’s most significant achievement. Because the sociobiologists W. D. Hamilton and Edward O. Wilson are the heroes of this story, Ruse claims that contemporary evolutionary biology endorses evolutionism and not merely evolution.That seems too much to take. Yet Sarkar is careful not to alienate his ally. While finding something to praise, he gently scolds Ruse for providing only “an unfortunate whimper” instead of a triumphant charge to inspire the pro-evolution scientists in their battles against creationists:The final chapters of The Evolution-Creation Struggle turn all too briefly to the contemporary debates over creationism. Ruse offers a short and cogent critique of intelligent design that concentrates on its failure to spawn any serious scientific research.2 But the book ends with an unfortunate whimper: we are told that we should try to understand the other side; we are not told how Ruse’s understanding of that side will help us prevent the reintroduction of religion in our science classes.1Sahotra Sarkar, “Evolution and Religion: Seeing Similarities,” Science, Vol 309, Issue 5734, 560 , 22 July 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1115782]. For another review, see the 05/06/2005 entry.2For contrary evidence, see the 06/25/2005 entry.Wow: this is quite telling. Michael Ruse seems to be evolving toward rapprochement with I.D. with each new book. Although he has been adamant against the cult of progress for quite awhile (see 06/12/2003 commentary), he is making even more startling claims now: (1) most historical evolutionists were more religious than scientific in their embrace of the cult of progress; (2) evolutionism is just as religious as Christianity, (3) the religion of evolutionism continues to the present day, and (4) evolutionists need to understand the other side. Point (1) is clear to any halfway objective historian of science and should not be all that controversial. But points 2, 3, and 4, though flimsy concessions from a creationist view, are almost fighting words to an evolutionist. To maintain their hegemony, the Darwin Party needs its supporters to be devoted to the doctrine that their position is based on science, not religion. They need to keep the onus of religion on the other side where it can be swept aside as faith-based, irrational, dogmatic and irrelevant. It must sting like acid for them to hear a Party member claim their views are just as religious as that of their opponents, and that we should try to “understand” the other side instead of fighting them with the full arsenal of Big Science. Based on this review, this new book by Ruse must be highly disappointing to those who have lived with the religion-vs-science paradigm embedded in their heads since high school biology class. If Ruse keeps this up, it won’t be long before the Party condemns him as a heretic and throws him overboard. If that happens, the creationists and ID community need to be prepared to rescue him and show him what true Christian (unevolved, real) altruism is like (see 06/12/2003 commentary). They need to provide him clean, clear designer glasses with which to see the world in a new light, a revelation that brings joy, thankfulness and meaning. Undoubtedly the softening of Ruse’s hardline position is partly due to his historical research into the unsavory personalities and empty lives of some of Darwinism’s staunchest bulldogs (see 09/02/2004 entry) compared to the friendliness and logic of I.D. supporters with whom he has interacted, like Phillip Johnson. Creationists need to be careful not to shoot those waving a white flag. Some of the best allies for design-based science, like Dean Kenyon and Richard Lumsden, were once adamant evolutionists. Give people space to see the light. Whether they do or not, keep those Christian graces shining through. Who knows; maybe Eugenie Scott will be next (see 05/25/2005 entry).(Visited 30 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
They may be an ocean apart, but initiatives in Cincinnati and the U.K. are producing a similar vibe about what can happen when civic leaders get serious about green construction, retrofitting, and their potential environmental and economic benefits.Two recent news items illustrate the point. One, by Ecohome magazine, summarized a report by the Cincinnati chapter of the American Institute of Architects that compares features of the LEED for Homes and NAHB National Green Building Standard. The report was commissioned by the city, which offers 15-year city and county tax abatements for new houses certified to LEED for Homes’ Silver or Gold standard and valued at $515,000 or less. The value limit is lifted for new homes certified to LEED Platinum. In addition, Ecohome notes, a 10-year tax abatement period also is offered for residential remodeling projects as small as $2,500 that meet LEED certification standards.In Wales, meanwhile, the government recently announced a program that aims to improve energy efficiency in 6,000 homes by March 2011 and expand retrofit training programs through qualified contractors. The program, with a first-year budget of $46 million, is expected to deliver 156 training days for every $1.43 million spent by the government and will focus intensely on retrofits of exterior-wall insulation and solar power and heat pump installations for homes in many of Wales’ underserved communities.“Making homes more energy efficient will reduce Wales’ carbon footprint, as the direct and indirect consumption of energy from buildings generates approximately 40% of all carbon emissions in the U.K. It will also help Wales to meet its target of 3% annual reductions in emissions from 2011 onwards,” Environment, Sustainability and Housing Minister Jane Davidson said of the program, which is in line with the Welsh Assembly Government’s embrace last year of a relatively strict set of energy efficiency, water-consumption, and sustainability requirements.Adding a ratings standard?While Cincinnati’s tax abatement program – which began in January 2008 and has seen more than 28 LEED-certified houses built, with more in design or under construction – is really just another approach to adding economic leverage to green objectives, the comparison study it spawned is the first of its kind undertaken by the municipality.In its report, released in January, the AIA Cincinnati committee studying the two ratings programs noted that charts prepared to illustrate similarities and differences between their ratings credit and credit categories show far more similarities than disparities, even though the recommended strategies for achieving results don’t always match.In the end, one difference the committee did focus on was LEED for Homes’ requirement that projects meet Energy Star performance and testing.From the report:“LEED and NGBS are comparable in more ways than they are dissimilar. There are minor differences that should not be major criticisms of either rating system. However, the mandatory minimum performance level and mandatory site testing are major differences. LEED certification is predicated on meeting Energy Star performance and testing. This includes meeting a minimum energy performance level that is approximately 15% below national averages. This also includes required energy modeling, site testing for envelope leakage and ductwork tightness, and mandatory site visual inspections by an accredited third party to prove the measures are in place.“The committee recognizes that most homes seeking NGBS certification will probably include the optional site testing and also meet in effect the performance levels of Energy Star. However, it is realistic to expect that there will be some projects that will try to avoid the extra costs for performance upgrades and site testing. To lessen this possibility, the committee recommends the city require Energy Star certification along with NGBS certification.”The city has yet to rule on the recommendation.
Once upon a time, vendors like Apple and Microsoft sold you things and then stood by the phone, happy to help resolve any problems that might arise from the use of their products. But in the modern world of free services, you get what you pay for: nothing.I was reminded of this the other day when I had to contact Google for help recovering my daughter’s email account, which had been the target of a hack that rivals Mat Honan’s, and was the account the hacker used to take control of her Facebook account, among others. After an hour of battling with the hacker for control of her account (In between posting vile things about her to everyone in her address book, he kept up a conversation with me over IM, which was… eerie), I turned on two-step authentication and halted the problem. But in my rush to get rid of him, I saved all the application-specific passwords Google provides but neglected to note the password I used for my daughter’s Gmail account.Stupid, I know. But it was a heat-of-the-moment sort of thing. I was in a panic.Turning To GoogleSadly, Google proved ill-equipped and indisposed to help resolve the issue. Due to the frenetic activity around my daughter’s account, Google wouldn’t allow us the normal means for recovering a password. Fine. I figured I’d call Google for help.No, really. Stop laughing. It turns out you can actually call someone at Google. (But not at Facebook.) No, you won’t find a phone number on Google’s support page. That might encourage users to actually call Google. But in a world that uses software without paying for it, you’re the product, not the customer.I did find a number eventually, but it’s apparently only available in cases of exceptional trouble recovering one’s account. Ironically, it required me to sign up for Google Wallet to get the phone number, even though the stated price was $0.00. (Note to Google: that may well have been a great time to force me into signing up for an ancillary service, given how desperate I was, but it didn’t endear you to me.)Thirty minutes later, my daughter and I had talked with a nice customer support woman, somewhere (when I told her I was in Chicago, she said “I believe that is considered a large American city?”). She promised to have a response to me within two days.It has now been almost a week and I’ve had no response. So I emailed Google to check on the status (I didn’t have a tracking number so I just sent the email and prayed). A day later, I received this response:Unfortunately, based on the information you provided, we’re unable to return the account at this time. Here are some of the reasons why we can’t return the account at this time…The reasons given don’t actually apply in my case, and in no way reference the extensive information we gave over the phone. Maddening.Eric Knorr highlights the deteriorating quality of support in the bring-your-own-device world. But that’s nothing compared to the nearly nonexistent support for anyone stuck in user land. Would I pay for better support for my Gmail account? Yes. But can I pay? No. I pay through my eyeballs, when it turns out I’d prefer to pay with my wallet. Vendors seem to respond better to that kind of direct cash incentive.Given how much of our lives we put into free online services, I suspect this is going to become an increasingly serious issue. But until vendors give us a way to pay, we’re always going to be an unsupported “product.”Image courtesy of Shutterstock. Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Matt Asay Tags:#Facebook#gmail#IT Support
A man was beaten to death in Mokama area near here for alleged theft of cattle, the police said on Tuesday.According to the police, the incident took place on Monday night when some persons belonging to Barahpur village entered More village with the alleged intention to steal cattle. “While the cattle were being untethered, some villagers woke up and started chasing the alleged thieves. The villagers caught hold of one of them while the rest managed to escape,” locals told the police. The villagers mercilessly beat the suspected thief with sticks, the police said. He was admitted to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, the police added.
There was some good media coverage of Touch Football in the month of July, including stories on the 2012 Queensland Junior State Cup and some up-and-coming players achieving great things. To view the stories, please click on the links below. New Touch Seasons Starts Next WeekAfter a brief break following the completion of the summer season, the Whitsunday’s Touch Association (WTA) is gearing up for another big season starting this Monday, July 16 at the Whitsunday Sports Park.http://www.whitsundaytimes.com.au/story/2012/07/12/new-touch-season-starts-next-week/ Juniors Shine At Touch CarnivalGympie’s four Touch Football teams competing in last weekend’s Queensland Junior State Cup displayed admirable competitiveness during the three-day event.The State Cup, which ran from Friday, July 6, to Sunday, July 8, hosted a record 179 teams and drew crowds in their thousands.http://www.gympietimes.com.au/story/2012/07/11/confidence-building-carnival-touch/ Aussie Rep Home It doesn’t get much better than wearing the green and gold against New Zealand.Michael Chapman won’t forget it, after claiming the Touch Football Trans Tasman Trophy.http://au.prime7.yahoo.com/n1/news/a/-/national/14257325/aussie-rep-home-video/ Junior Touch Cup To StayThe Fraser Coast’s unbridled dedication to the Junior Touch Football State Cup has paid off, with organisers pledging to hold the competition here for a further five years.Queensland Touch Association general manager Peter Bevan yesterday announced the deal between the QTA, Fraser Coast Regional Council and Fraser Coast Tourism, in what is a major coup for this area.http://www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/story/2012/07/09/junior-touch-cup-to-stay-at-fraser-coast/ Chase For Big Cash TouchdownThe Fraser Coast’s bid to claim the rights to the Qld Touch Football carnival for the next five years could be known as early as tomorrow afternoon.http://www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/story/2012/07/07/chase-for-big-cash-touchdown-fraser/ U10 In Top Touch At State CarnivalThey may have been the youngest Gladstone team to ever attend a state carnival but the Gladstone Touch Association under-10 showed the older kids just how it’s done.With five Gladstone representative teams attending the carnival, aged from nine to 17, the youngsters were the best-performing Gladstone team to attend the Junior State Touch Football Cup in Hervey Bay over the weekend, finishing ninth overall.http://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/story/2012/07/13/u10-in-top-touch-at-state-carnival-gladstone/ Youngsters Show That Winning TouchThe Morning Bulletin, 19/07/2012TOUCH FOOTBALL: James Baartz and Kate Bromley are leading the way for aspiring touch players at the Junior Touch Football State Cup./span>Local players Baartz and Bromley competed in the event recently and not only delivered impressive performances on the field, but were also awarded the prestigious Scott Notley and Kerry Norman awards by the Queensland Touch Association.Baartz and Bromley were nominated for the awards for their State Cup representation, for their consistent honesty and fairness, and for their high-quality on-field performances to match their off-field demeanour and example. North Rockhampton High student Bromley has been playing competitively in the sport for 12 years and has represented Rockhampton in the State Cup on seven occasions. The modest 16-year-old is honoured to have received the award and encourages others to join the sport.“I don’t play to receive awards or to win anything, I play because I love it and it’s a great sport,” Bromley said.“It’s nice knowing people think I deserve such a great award.”Bromley said the State Cup was a good competition because it offered a lot of teams and age groups and she urged young sports players to join the sport.The competition produced great results for the Rockhampton Touch Association, which had 15 teams competing, nine of which made the quarter-finals. The 16 year girls’ team topped the results, winning the state championships for their division. The 18 year boys made the semi-finals but unfortunately failed to defend their title won last year, losing to Labrador. President of the Rockhampton Junior Touch Association Mick Callow said overall the competition produced a great result for the city’s junior touch representative players. The association is still taking nominations for junior and senior teams, with competition starting mid-August.Students Selected For QueenslandThe Chronicle (Toowoomba), 18/07/2012Four Fairholme Touch Football players have been selected to play for Queensland after their outstanding success at this year’s State Touch Championships.Dominique Du Toit, Meg Jakins and Kristen Currie will wear maroon for the Queensland Under 15 Schoolgirls while Georgina Rackemann was named for the Queensland Open team.Their selections are a just reward after they helped lead Darling Downs to a second place finish at the under 15 state titles.Darling Downs managed to win all of their round games and defeated South Coast in the semi-final, winning 2-0.They faced Metropolitan East in the final and despite leading at half time, Darling Downs were narrowly defeated 4-3 in the final minutes.If you see a story from your local media organisations about Touch Football and would like to see it on the Touch Football Australia website, please email [email protected] Related LinksTalking Touch
Huddersfield striker Mounie: We need to keep fightingby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveHuddersfield Town striker Steve Mounie says they must keep fighting after defeat to Fulham.It left Huddersfield bottom of the Premier League, having lost all seven of this month’s league fixtures.“It’s a bit difficult for us and it’s hard to accept, but in this season there’s still some games and we will still fight until the end,” Mounie told htafc.com.“We will try to win games; that’s the most important thing. We have to just try to win the first game then the second and the third. We have to keep going.”Town is winless since November, but the striker explained how one positive result could affect the team.“A win will be very important for us, it’ll give a lot of confidence to our team and our fans.“I feel like our fans need it because we haven’t given them enough this season.“I am very disappointed today because it was a very important game to lose, especially after the penalty save. It’s hard to accept.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
The Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments this week in the case of Bradley Barton, accused of killing Cindy Gladue. File photo.Justin BrakeAPTN NewsCanada’s criminal justice system is under intense scrutiny this week over its treatment of Indigenous people.On Thursday the Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments in an appeal of an Alberta court’s decision last year to order a new trial for Bradley Barton.Gladue, a 36-year-old Cree woman, was found dead in an Edmonton motel room in June 2011.She bled to death from an 11-centimetre wound in her vagina.In 2015 Barton, an Ontario trucker who admitted to causing the wound and Gladue’s death—accidentally, he argued—was acquitted of first degree murder and manslaughter.The decision prompted vigils and protests across Canada.In a unanimous ruling last year Alberta’s Court of Appeal ordered a new trial based in part on the belief that the trial judge’s instructions to the jury were “inadequate to counter the stigma and potential bias and prejudice that arose from the repeated references to Gladue as a ‘prostitute’, ‘Native girl’ and ‘Native woman’” throughout the trial.Those references, the three judges wrote in their decision, “implicitly invited the jury to bring to the fact-finding process discriminatory beliefs or biases about the sexual availability of Indigenous women and especially those who engage in sexual activity for payment.”The 11-person jury consisted of nine men and two women, none of them Indigenous.Cindy Gladue’s “dehumanizing treatment” indicative of justice system’s regard for Indigenous peopleWomen’s and Indigenous rights advocates say Canada’s criminal justice system is failing Indigenous people.“The dehumanizing treatment of Cindy Gladue in this case raises critical issues, including of the law of consent, the mistreatment treatment of Indigenous women by the criminal justice system, and the pervasive problem of violence against women,” reads a joint press release this week from the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), who are among 16 intervenors in the case.“The trial of Bradley Barton is another, horrific example of a system designed to dehumanize and punish Indigenous women,” Julie Kaye, Research Advisor for IAAW, said in the statement.During the 2015 trial part of Gladue’s preserved corpse was brought into the courtroom as evidence, a rare move that critics say represents the Canadian justice system’s regard for Indigenous women and their bodies.“The introduction of Ms. Gladue’s actual vaginal tissue as evidence is the pinnacle of two things: how prostituted women are reduced to a mere sum of their body parts, and that our life’s total never figures into whether or not we choose prostitution,” Trisha Baptie of Formerly Exploited Voices Now Educating (FEVNE) said at a press conference on Parliament Hill Wednesday.FEVNE is part of the Women’s Equality and Liberty Coalition (WELC), which is also intervening in the case.“I am positive Ms. Gladue never gave her consent to live in poverty, to suffer the effects of colonization, to experience life as she understood it. If she had no ability to consent to the life she experienced, that moulded her, why do we think she consented to being a prostituted woman?”Cindy Gladue was a 36-year-old Cree mother, daughter and sister. She died in 2011 from a wound inflicted on her by Bradley Barton, who was later found not guilty of first degree murder or manslaughter. File photo.This week the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women announced it too will intervene in the case.“The death of Ms. Cindy Gladue and acquittal of Mr. Bradley Barton is emblematic of how Indigenous women are seen as less than worthy victims in general, but specifically within the justice system,” MMIWG Chief Commissioner Marion Buller said in a statement Tuesday.“The National Inquiry has a legitimate interest in this case, and in ensuring the law of consent accurately takes into account issues that contribute to the violence and vulnerability Indigenous women and girls experience,” said Christa Big Canoe, the commission’s lead counsel who will be making oral submissions on behalf of the National Inquiry.Potential for precedent on consent lawsObservers say the case could also set new precedent on consent laws in Canada, including whether an “objective likelihood of harm” cancels out sexual consent.Lise Gotell, a gender studies professor at the University of Alberta and chairwoman of LEAF, says the court has previously ruled that a person killed in a fist fight couldn’t have consented to bodily harm.“But the court has never made a ruling on whether or not this rule applies in a sexual context.”Gotell says LEAF won’t argue for the new consent provision because it believes Gladue didn’t agree at all.Barton has testified that he hired Gladue for two nights of sex that included putting his fist in her vagina. When he woke up after the second night, he said, he found her dead in the tub.The Alberta Crown, as well as attorney generals in other provinces, including Ontario, is arguing for an addition to the law.Barton’s lawyer, Dino Bottos, says it would be a big deal if the top court agrees. He plans to argue that the Crown brought up the consent versus harm argument on appeal, not at trial, and it shouldn’t affect his client’s case.It would be akin to double jeopardy, Bottos says. “We’re just trying to hold the line.”“The original trial exposed how much judges are ignorant in holding myths and stereotypes when it comes to victims of sexual assault. There was a complete lack of understanding of what consent means, the intention of consent laws, the application of consent when a woman is drunk and where her consent is not given to the particular act in place, and the power balance that undermines any real ability to have a voluntary agreement to have a consensual act,” Hilla Kerner of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter said Wednesday during the WELC press conference in Ottawa.Diane Matte of La concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle, also a member of the Women’s coalition intervening in the case, said violence against women, “whether it’s in the sexual form or the physical form, has to end.“And we have to recognize that racism and colonialism have, in this case, been matched once again by the ultimate misogynistic act of a man killing a woman.”With files from the Canadian Press.
Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics shoots against Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls during a game in 1990 in Boston. Dick Raphael / NBAE / Getty Images Still, this is legitimately a good way to win, provided you spend as much time as I did Googling for frolicking badgers. With a 10 percent chance, the Badgers have one of the best shots at winning it all. But they’re not Kentucky, so going for them is probably a good way to get a unique winner, an advantage in any March Madness pool. Plus, if you’re a cat person, this may be an even better bracket. The people who pick tournaments by adorableness are on to something. So what’s the final verdict?This year, if you’re going to pick a bracket based on the mascots, you should absolutely go with the cuter mascots. Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions. Wolverine in “Ultimate Spider-Man” on Disney XD. Marvel / Disney XD / Getty Images Verdict: Probably the worst way of picking a bracket. Final Four:Midwest: Wichita State Shockers (No. 7 seed, 3 percent)West: Georgia State Panthers (No. 14 seed, <1 percent)East: Michigan State University Spartans (No. 7 seed, 4 percent)South: University of Iowa Hawkeyes (No. 7 seed, 2 percent)Championship game: Black Panther (T’Challa) vs. Hawkeyes (Clint Barton & Kate Bishop)Winner: University of Iowa Hawkeyes (<1 percent chance of winning it all)Notes: I feel like this will probably be the most controversial choice, but first, two quick things about the process: One, there is a hilarious amount of overlap between college basketball team mascots and comic book characters.2Briefly: Aggie, Aztek, Badger, Blazer, Bison, Bruin, Blue Devil, Buckeye, Cardinal, Cavalier, Cyclone, Duck, Leopard, Lumberjack, Mustang, Osprey, Panther, Razorback, Rebel, Shocker, Tiger, Ute, Wildcat, Wolfpack. Two, and I know this may be unpopular in Indiana, but the Valparaiso University Crusaders do not get to be Batman even though he’s referred to sometimes as “the caped crusader.” If they were the Valparaiso Batmen, then they would get to win this tournament, but they’re not. Sorry.The main contenders in this match were the Final Four teams — Black Panther; Shocker, the Spider-Man villain; the Spartans from Frank Miller’s critically acclaimed graphic novel “300”3Now a major motion picture!; and the two Hawkeyes of the Avengers — but there was serious competition from Wildcat, Cyclone, Blazer, Mustang and hilariously Ute the Watcher. Anyway, T’Challa beats Shocker, and Kate Bishop and Clint Barton sweep the 300, beat Black Panther4Because … boomerangs. and cut down the nets.This may be the worst way to pick a bracket — the University of Iowa is almost definitely not going to win the basketball tournament — but, good god, do I want to see this movie. Or at least do the movie in a year that the University of Michigan makes it to the big dance. A mascot bracket based on who would win in a fight Pirates Universal History Archive / UIG / Getty Images A mascot bracket based on who would win a game of H.O.R.S.E. Every March, many people with zero affinity for college basketball fill out a bracket, lured to play by the office pool. A lot of strategies are possible. You could just pick the favorite to win each game. You could just pick schools you know of or like for non-athletic reasons — maybe make every university that wait-listed you go down in the first round.But one common strategy I know of is to pick by teams that have your favorite mascot. Indeed, this strategy can pay off: I know for a fact that last year, the office pool at a widely read business news site was won by someone who had filled out a bracket by picking the cutest animal. The UConn Huskies, in addition to being so cute, won the tourney as a No. 7 seed.But “most adorable” is but one way to pick a mascot-oriented bracket. Luckily, we have a database of mascots. Here, I took four different mascot-themed strategies, played out the tournament game by game and compared the results to odds in our March Madness predictions. (This is a somewhat subjective process; for instance, which is cuter: a pirate or a Spartan?)A mascot bracket based on cuteness Verdict: A bad way of picking a bracket.Final Four:Midwest: Hampton University Pirates (No. 16 seed, <1 percent)West: Texas Southern University Tigers (No. 15 seed, <1 percent)East: Michigan State University Spartans (No. 7 seed, 4 percent)South: Iowa State Cyclones (No. 3 seed, 15 percent)Championship game: Pirates vs. CyclonesWinner: Iowa State Cyclones (2 percent)Notes: All right, this one I tried to base on as much historical evidence as possible. Who would win, pirates1Whenever a team was named after a group of people — be they Tar Heels or Hoosiers — I went with an average person from that group. or crusaders? Check out the Mahdian or Smyrniote Crusades and see how those worked out. How about pirates vs. Fighting Irish? See: Baltimore, Sack of. The Hampton University Pirates stomp through the Midwest. As for the West, there are some pretty serious contenders — musketeers, bears, panthers, razorbacks, for instance — but I’m going with the Tigers. And history says that it’s hard for anything — even a wolfpack — to beat Spartans. I say they sweep the East.But you think some Spartans could contend with a cyclone? Menelaus, who dragged his sorry ass home from Troy only to see nearly his entire fleet sink in a big storm, has some bad news for you.Listen, you can beat a lot of things in this world, but nature really isn’t one of them. The Iowa State Cyclones have a 2 percent shot of taking home the championship, the eighth-highest chance of victory in the bracket. You could have a worse bracket is all I’m saying. A mascot bracket based on equivalent comic book characters Verdict: A bad way of picking a bracket.Final Four:Midwest: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (No. 3 seed, 8 percent)West: University of North Carolina Tar Heels (No. 4 seed, 8 percent)East: Providence College Friars (No. 6 seed, 2 percent)South: San Diego State University Aztecs (No. 8 seed, 2 percent)Championship game: Tar Heels vs. AztecsWinner: University of North Carolina Tar Heels (1 percent chance of winning it all)Notes: Spurned during the cuteness bracket, the humans finally have a shot at winning something. I think an Irish person who plays dirty can probably beat a pirate at basketball. Same goes for friars; based on my experience — particularly Catholic high school — clergy are often weirdly good at basketball. The Aztec people might not have known the modern incarnation of basketball, but I think they’d be able to get the gist of H.O.R.S.E. just fine after a life watching ōllamaliztli. But here’s the thing. I have met a lot of tar heels — people who live in North Carolina. And all of them are superb at basketball. I don’t get it, but this is just how it works. Tar heels take this one home. UNC is not a favorite to win the tournament, though, so maybe this is not the way to go. A baby giant anteater at the London zoo in 2005. Scott Barbour / Getty Images Verdict: Weirdly, a decent way of picking a bracket.Cuteness Final Four (with each team’s actual FiveThirtyEight probability of making it there):Midwest: Northeastern University Huskies (No. 14 seed, <1 percent)West: University of Wisconsin Badgers (No. 1 seed, 33 percent)East: U.C. Irvine Anteaters (No. 13 seed, <1 percent)South: Gonzaga Bulldogs (No. 2 seed, 24 percent)Championship game: Badgers vs. BulldogsWinner: University of Wisconsin Badgers (Actual 10 percent chance of winning it all)Notes: To disclose my priors, I’m a dog person, but one who is sympathetic to wildcats. And it would have been all too easy to give Villanova and Kentucky a free ride to the top. But I have standards. Huskies are cuter than wildcats, as are anteaters. Just Google “baby anteater.” I’m right on this one. Here’s a taste: Mrs. Philip Dee in 1936 with her pet badger at her home in Hanworth, England. The badger shared a hutch with a pet fox, which belonged to the Tannett family, neighbors of Dee. Reg Speller / Fox Photos / Getty Images
Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye. Once a Wolverine, always a Wolverine. Many college football fans would say the two should never mix.Junior offensive lineman Justin Boren might have something to say about that.Boren transferred to OSU following his sophomore season at Michigan.Although it was viewed as a blasphemy by Michigan players, Boren’s transfer should not be a major shock to OSU fans. Boren attended high school in Pickerington, Ohio, and he seriously considered attending OSU straight out of high school.“I was real interested in Ohio State [in high school]. When I was getting recruited, [OSU and Michigan were] really close and I always had the utmost respect for [OSU] and it was a real hard decision, but I’m real glad I’m here now,” Boren said.The rivalry did not factor into Boren’s decision to transfer. His departure was because of the new offensive system and “lack of family values” that coach Rich Rodriguez brought with him in his first season at Michigan, he said.Boren said that he was not adapting well to the hurry-up style offense that Rodriguez runs.Boren would have been the senior-most lineman on Michigan his junior year and could have helped coach Rodriguez establish his new offense, but what was Michigan’s loss was OSU’s gain.Boren has started all but one game this season for OSU and has gained a lot of respect from coach Jim Tressel and fellow players.“I knew Justin coming out of high school, coming from the same recruiting class,” said fellow junior offensive lineman Bryant Browning. “I knew he was a good offensive lineman, he was a hard worker and he was going to come over and do the best he could to help the team.”This weekend will be Boren’s first game against Michigan and his first visit back to the Big House since the transfer. There is no telling what the Michigan fans could do or how it could affect Boren.“I’m sure [the game] will be difficult in some ways because he has great feelings for both teams that are going to be on the field, and a lot of great memories up in The Big House with his dad and himself and all the rest, but his focus will be on what can he do to help his team,” Tressel said.Boren’s teammates are trying to be sympathetic to his situation, amid all the rush and hype around the Michigan game.“I’m sure he’s got a ton of emotions going around, seeing as he’s been a part of the game on the other side,” junior receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said.
Jim Furyk: For this veteran, the Memorial Tournament isn’t new. Furyk has fared well so far this year, winning two tournaments already on the PGA Tour, including the Verizon Heritage most recently. Furyk is No. 2 in the FedExCup standings. Although Furyk’s long game isn’t as strong as the other players on the short list of favorites, his solid short game and unflappable demeanor will be crucial if he hopes to contend. Ernie Els: Like Furyk, Els has also taken two titles in his 11 tournaments so far this tour, and he also sits atop the FedExCup rankings at this point. His victories include the World Golf Championship held in California and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. After struggling for the past three seasons, Els has finally hit his stride with five top-10 finishes already this season. With ball-striking at a premium on this difficult Nicklaus-designed course, the long-hitting South African should be in contention come the back nine on Sunday. The PGA Tour makes its stop here in Columbus this week, and the lineup is now official. The Memorial Golf Tournament, to be held at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, will surely bring in the crowds with its share of big-name golfers.Here are some obvious — and less obvious — players to watch.Tiger Woods: Although Tiger has gotten off to a shaky start since his return to the tour, he is still a favorite to win the Memorial after taking first place last year (his fourth win at Muirfield). Woods is coming off a neck injury, but after committing, it seems his concern isn’t too high. Coming in ranked No. 1 in the world doesn’t hurt either.Jason Day: The 22-year-old is coming off his first PGA Tour victory last week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. The Australian is relatively new on the scene, so it should be interesting to see if lightning can strike twice for the up-and-coming young golfer.Phil Mickelson: Mickelson had a lack-luster performance at the Colonial, missing the cut after the second round with a three over 73. A tournament victory there would have put him in the No. 1 spot ahead of Woods. Mickelson should be fired up and ready to go, but an absence from the Memorial for the past few years gives him a bit of a disadvantage against the competition.