The cacophony of idiots

has a feature on its splash page today. “How should Japan avoid a complete nuclear catastrophe? Send us your ideas and we’ll run them past nuclear experts.”

In a lot of ways, the Internet is wonderful. But this is yet another case of the frivolous cacaphony of nonsense created by the vox populi. A lot of what I see on the Internet is like this. The small "d" democracy of the Internet gives license to anyone with a keyboard and a loud opinion, without the necessary common sense to go along with it.

Stop for a second... How do you think people get to be top of their profession in a hard science such as nuclear physics? By spending their days playing golf or watching Star Trek episodes? They work hard studying their discipline and we should respect that.

When I was working in an urban movie theater, from time to time there would be a story about how difficult it was for us to survive because of the competition from Netflix or the monsterplexes in the malls with 20 screens and ten different movies and free parking. I worked in a small, pre-WWI neighborhood theater with only four screens, surrounded by one-hour parking meters with the only free parking two blocks away in a dark lot under a freeway overpass littered with shards of broken autoglass on the asphalt. (A sure sign if you park here, some crack addict is likely to break into your car to steal your stereo.)

We were also losing business because our customers would have to interrupt their movie after 55 minutes to run out and feed their parking meter or risk a $40 ticket. Our city was using parking citations as a major revenue source, consequently they had parking officers constantly patrolling our neighborhood hunting for violations.

❝Yet another case of the frivolous cacophony of nonsense created by the vox populi.❞

It only takes one forty-buck parking citation for a customer to decide to drive half an hour to a mall theatre with newer, stadium seating, a dozen different features playing, and best of all, free parking so you don’t have to risk a parking ticket. Even if you’re careful, it means frequently checking your watch and then interrupting your movie (and the people around you) to go out, feed the meter and come back. Meanwhile you miss five or ten minutes of your feature.

2011 March Madness® Brackets Contests

Yeah, I know the NCAA® registered the name, March Madness®. Let the ’em sue me for using it without their permission. This not a comprehensive list. There are others designed specifically for handheld devices, and I saw at least three which could be downloaded at iTunes or the Apple App store. Nearly every sports radio station, sports website, offshore gambling casino has their own.

Before we start, courtesy of the invaluable, here's a schedule for the tournament showing each game, the network it's on, and the announcing team. For those who want a prettier listing, here's the official NCAA list of games and networks, sans the announcing teams. I redid this chart for myself, changing all the times into Pacific Daylight Time. My chart lists the teams, their seeds, region, time, network, and announcing team. [Tuesday night update: I reinserted Eastern Daylight Time. The chart now displays EDT and PDT. And I’m updating the game match-ups with the results from the play-in games. My lawyer told me to remind you all that I am human so if I made any mistakes, it's your fault for not double-checking on your own.]

All contests require registration, so I suggest signing up early. You probably want to submit your brackets early to prevent getting locked out by heavy traffic on Thursday morning. Most contests permit you to start a bracket and save it without submitting, so you can do it in parts.

Some of these contest sites provide a bracket you can print out. Here’s an Excel spreadsheet bracket, courtesy of They also offer a PDF version and they have their own bracket contest. [Tuesday night update: their contest appears to be closed. When I went to register, it says “Bracket Entry is now locked.“]

Let’s start with the official March Madness® NCAA Men’s Bracket Challenge, on It doesn’t say what the prizes are without signing in. Also has a printable bracket. [Tuesday night update: this contest permits up to five separate entries, with one bracket per entry. No prizes are listed -- or if they are, they’re hidden. Deadline is Thursday, 30 minutes before tip-off. There are some nice features even if you don't enter, including interactive brackets so you can try out different scenarios. I think I may submit an entry here based purely on Mascot vs. Mascot.]

CBS Sports Bracket Challenge.
First Prize: a trip for four to the 2012 Final Four®. CBS is the official broadcast host of March Madness©. This site also has a Round by Round contest which allows you to submit new picks after each round, so you don't get eliminated early, and a Bracket Manager which you can use for your own friendly bracket contests. [Tuesday night update: this contest closes at 11 AM EDT/8 AM PDT. And don't forget the Round-by-Round contest which lets you update your brackets after each round.]

If you think you can pick all 64 winners perfectly,’s $1,000,000 Bracket Challenge, sponsored by Hooter’s. Second prize is a 60" Westinghouse HDTV and a month’s worth of Hooter’s wings. also offers a $1,000,000 First Prize for an unblemished bracket. [Tues... etc. This contest closes on Thursday morning Noon EDT/9 AM PDT. If you win the million, they pay it out as an annuity over 40 years.]

Yahoo Tourney Pick ’em
Looks like the best all-round site. Top prize is ten grand, but like some others, you'll cash a cool million if you pick all 63 games correctly. It also has a good bracket manager for your own competition among friends, but you can join an one of their established groups based on your alma mater or other criteria and pick against them. (No individual prizes for winning any one group, though.) Best of all, it has a Scenario calculator in which you make a few choices, and it generates selections based on those choices. [You know what this is by now... This contest closes at tip-off Thursday morning.]

The New York Times Bracket Contest.
First prize, two iPads, one for the Men’s bracket and one for the Women’s. [Contest closes 11:30 AM EDT, 8:30 AM PDT.]

ESPN Tournament Challenge.
First prize is $10 grand, second place is $5 grand. [Thursday tip-off.]

Coke Zero NCAA Bracket Challenge sponsored by Chili‘s.
First prize, a luxury trip for four to the 2012 Final Four®. Other prizes include an LG HGTV, free Chili’s Food. [Thursday: 11 AM EDT/8 AM PDT.]

The cheap skates at USA Today’s March Mania contest put up less than two grand in prizes (First Prize, $1500, Second, $250, Third=$100) Their Bracket Central features printable brackets and a bracket manager for your personal contests. [Thursday: Noon EDT/ AM PDT.]

This information presented for entertainment only. No gambling, please.


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Marshall or Profiles in Douchebaggery

Once in a while you meet someone so thoroughly steeped in douchebaggery that it takes your breath away. I don’t mean someone who is truly evil or malicious; those draw no admiration from me. But you very rarely meet someone who is so obnoxious even skunks won’t cross his path out of professional courtesy.

❝He’s so obnoxious even skunks won’t cross his path out of professional courtesy.❞

Exhibit A: Marshall.

Marshall looks mild-mannered behind his Clark Kent glasses, but when you look past the glasses and peer into his soul, you find such a vast and cavernous void that it could double as a yodeling venue. We started off on a slightly off note. He’s a tech guy, a specialist who installs and maintains networks in your home and business. I’ve known enough of these guys to mostly like them. They are used to being patient with their clients; pretending not to discover that the equipment was unplugged or a connection was loose.

(They do this for two reasons. They don’t want to rub your nose in your own stupidity and they know you’re likely to do it again, which means another service call for them. Ka-Ching! They fumble around and say “hmm” a few times, explain it with some equivoce, and hand you a bill saying the problem was “BSAK.”

When you ask them what that means, they explain that “BSAK issues” are pretty common. It‘s too technical to explain, but I fixed it. What they don't tell you is “BSAK” means “Between Seat And Keyboard,” meaning, you dunce, why didn’t you check all the connections first?)

I was discussing an issue with some web code with someone who did a little web design. Marshall heard two sentences, and right away he had to tell me why I was having that problem. Never mind that he was never a professional web designer. He knew better.

One afternoon, not long after I received my new business cards, I was passing them out. I had included a calendar on the back, and most people immediately commented how handy that was and how they would hold onto the card, which was why I chose that feature.

Trevor Bayne Hot Lap at Phoenix International Raceway

FIRST HERE ON BLOGGER. SpinDoctor500Blog and AZ Republic sports writer Michael Knight was interviewing Trevor Bayne before Sunday’s race and young Bayne offered him a hot lap around Phoenix International Raceway. Read his account here.

“Why don’t we take off our seatbelts? It’d be a little more fun!” Bayne chuckled.


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