2006-03-21



Terrible Swift Word has moved. Check out the new site at ...
http://tsw2.brianjb.net

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2006-03-20



Wow. After 2 rounds my brackets are almost completely demolished. Three of my Final Four are gone including my champion and runner up. What a brutal, but exciting, year for March Madness.

Weak 1's: I still hold that the 1's are weak, but that may not matter as all four are still alive and for some, the seas are parting before them.

U Conn barely made it past Kentucky, but now the only teams standing between them and the Final Four are Washington and Wichita State or George Mason. Yeah, I know, don't sell them short, those teams are pretty good, yada, yada, yada. Weekend 2 is when the Cinderellas come crashing back to earth.

Next weekend will show whether Duke is a worthy #1 with two tests; LSU and then Texas or West Virginia (both are playing well).

Villanova is on the most treacherous road for a 1-seed. Arizona a #8? I don't care what they did during the season, the Wildcats are a tournament team and Lute Olson is a tournament coach. Getting by them was a big achievement for Villanova. Next up ... Boston College and then Florida or Georgetown. All three are strong and clicking as we head to the regionals.

Memphis has quietly (as usual) been the strongest 1-seed so far. Bradley shouldn't be much of a threat, but look out for UCLA who should make easy work of the over-rated Zags.

How bad do you want it? When it comes to the bracket-busting surprises the shame of it is that North Carolina, Illinois, Kansas, Syracuse, etc. didn't lose to better teams. They simply didn't come to play.

Old Age and Treachery: Interesting observation by Dick Vitale (I know, I was as shocked as anyone, but I guess when you talk as much as he does you're bound to stumble upon something now and again) on Saturday: With early defection to the NBA becoming so commonplace, we'll be seeing a lot more matchups between experienced upperclassmen-led mid-majors and younger and more athletic power teams. Things have been trending this way for a while now, and while it may prove to be an equalizer that generates some early-round surprises, the big dogs still seem to dominate the Final Four.

March Madness on Demand: Sunday afternoon we had the Kentucky game so I decided to try out CBS' online March Madness on demand to watch North Carolina. Pity the folks who are paying for this "service." It wasn't bad. I did get to see part of the game. Some of the problems ...

As is common with streaming media, the loading/buffering process can take some time and often misfires for high-demand events. Also, even with a healthy buffer, the playback is susceptible to interruptions. Unfortunately this peaked with about 5 minutes left in the game when the teams started trading the lead (in other words when everyone wanted to see it). I was suddenly booted and could never get it loaded back up.

Also, if you're going to use this, don't keep your TV on CBS in the background. The two use different delays, and when other games get exciting CBS will quickly switch over to them. So all of a sudden you have no idea what is going on in the game you are watching because you have no idea what game you are watching and it all just totally messes with your head.

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2006-03-17



... but Blogger is SUBAR again.

Admittedly things are better than they used to be, but it seems like it returns to form at the worst times ... such as when you're trying to just fire off a quick post.

So, I head out to the Blogger status blog, and it is down which is helpful.

So, TSW2 may be moving soon. Stay tuned ...

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After what had to be days of excruciating analysis and soul-searching, John Salley finally unveiled his Final Four picks on BDSS: Duke, U Conn, Villanova, and Memphis. Those who have been scrutinizing their own brackets will quickly recognize that these are the four #1 seeds.

In other words, this is Salley's usual lack of creativity when it comes to situations that require imagination and critical thinking. What I'm trying to figure out however, is whether or not Salley went out on a limb here.

In theory these are the best teams in each region. But history demonstrates that #1's don't roll to the Final Four in bunches. As I've already speculated, this year's crop of top seeds is especially soft including overall #1, Duke.

So at the end of the day, though he probably didn't intend it, John Salley has probably gambled as much as anyone with his Final Four picks.

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2006-03-15



Now that the Monmouth-Hampton game is in the books I can proceed with my picks.

First, I reiterate that this thing is wide open. I'm not ultra-confident in my ability to figure who will get to them, but this year's top seeds can be gotten to. I'll be surprised to see more than one #1 show up in Indianapolis.

Part of this is because the high seeds aren't as strong as usual, and part of it has to do with some questionable seeding. Tennessee comes to mind.

Atlanta Region:
Duke may have won the ACC Tournament, but they are vulnerable. Carolina exposed Duke's over-reliance on Redick and a one or two other stars.

I'm picking Syracuse to advance out of this region. McNamara has already become the guy the ESPN'ers love to slobber all over. Whatever. Syracuse is rolling and Boeheim is one of those coaches who will wring the most out of his players in the tournament.

Upsets: NC State over Cal in an "upset" that won't be an upset. NC State over Texas will be a genuine surprise. Syracuse over LSU and Duke. West Virginia over Iowa en route to the regional final.

Oakland Region:
IMHO this is the toughest region to pick. I'm pretty confident Memphis is over-rated, but this region is stocked full of teams that could run over the field or fall in their first game.

I'm picking Kansas to make it through to the Final Four. Gonzaga is also over-rated, but they are a team ESPN loves to love. I hope my pick of Xavier with the big opening round upset proves true cuz I sure don't want to listen to Vitale if the Zags do anything exciting.

Other Upsets: Kansas over Memphis. Marquette over UCLA and Indiana en route to the regional final.

Washington, DC Region:
U Conn seems to have emerged as the consensus strongest team in the field. I do have them rolling to the regional final. But that's where a Tar Heel team on the rise will topple the Huskies and return to the Final Four. I would not be surprised however, to see a rematch of last year's Championship game (UNC vs. Illinois) in this regional final.

As already mentioned, Tennessee is over-seeded. They won't see the second weekend.

Upsets: UAB over Kentucky if you want to call in an upset. Seton Hall over Wichita St and Tennessee.

Minneapolis Region:
For my money, the strongest region. If Villanova can get past Monmouth, which is rolling after last night's big win over Hampton, they'll still have Wisconsin or Arizona, Boston College, Ohio State, and Florida among others waiting in their path. They won't have to beat all of these teams but they'd better be ready for three difficult games just to get to Indianapolis.

I don't think they can do it, so I'm going with Boston College.

Upsets: Wisconsin over Arizona - mild upset at best. Montana over Nevada. Honestly, I don't know either team, but every year a 12 does it to a 5. UW-Milwaukee over Oklahoma. Georgetown over Ohio State and Florida en route to the regional final. Boston College over Villanova.

Final Four:
Syracuse over Kansas.
North Carolina over Boston College.

North Carolina over Syracuse to defend their crown, or actually Sean May and a bunch of other NBA guys' crown.

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2006-03-14



Coming back from the first commercial break, we always geta few words of insight from the Donald, usually on a topic that will turn out to be key to the episode's outcome. This week he talked about flexibility and the necessity for having a "Plan B."

Over at Gold Rush however, PM Theresa would have done well to have at least a "Plan A" at some point. Any point. Embarking on the mission. During the Chevy Tahoe event. Even in the boardroom. Had she had and stuck to a strategy at any of these points, she might still be a candidate.

The teams were tasked with educating and motivating Chevy Dealers on the new Tahoe. Both teams put on a Corporate retreat. After Sean noted that the new Tahoe is as rugged as ever but with new "refined features" Synergy went with the theme: Nature-Refined. They had rock-climbing, golf cart races and a number of other outdoor-ish activities, meanwhile touting the Tahoe.

Theresa's big theme: some kind of elegant, classy mish-mash. She locked in on carriage rides, a fancy meal, open bar, and golf. At one point Bill Rancick hoped that the Chevy dealers were big drinkers since Gold Rush's theme seemed to rely on "getting them liquored up and dazzling them with models." What went wrong? The "golf" was lame because instead of a lush green the team's area was a weedy expanse of dirt. There wasn't near enough time to educate the spokes-models on the Tahoe enough to answer dealer questions. Charmane hired a comedienne who went vulgar and offended the audience. And then there were the usual interpersonal tiffs. When confronted about his failure to find a generator Lenny replied, "It's not my problem."

As a result, Lenny was Theresa's early target. Once in the boardroom however, Theresa attempted to throw every teammate but Bryce under the bus. Whenever Trump's team exhausted one player's failure Theresa would introduce another. It looked as if her blitzkrieg style might work as much of the conversation focused on Tarek and Lenny. Not one to buck the momentum Theresa brought those two back to the boardroom. It turns out Trump & Co would have preferred to have Charmane in their grasp.

In the end, Theresa committed a couple of Apprentice Cardinal Sins. Lenny has been Gold Rush's most difficult member by far. As a result, Theresa's most vigorous attacks were reserved for him. But, in the boardroom "cause of this specific failure" beats "generally annoying" almost always, and this has been tested numerous times. Perhaps it is because going after Lenny wasn't a good strategy, but Theresa erred in not sticking to a boardroom strategy. Instead, by throwing out a number of possible culprits and screwups, she underscored the fact that the team didn't perform well across the board which brings attention back to the PM. Theresa was fired.

Lest we forget, there was Tarek sitting across the table from Trump who two tasks earlier had declared him "totally over-rated." Upon leaving the boardroom Tarek offered a lame, "I'll step it up." The Donald was not impressed.

While Lenny established himself as the least-liked member of Team Gold Rush, he earned praise from Bill Rancick who was sitting in for George. He may have been abrasive in the process, but Rancick called him a "bulldog." In the final boardroom, when Trump was trying to decide between firing Theresa or Tarek he asked Lenny what he should do. Lenny: "Fire them both." Just in case his team might have been tempted to bury the hatchet when he returns.

And let's not forget Brent. Synergy is still asking little of him and Brent is still happy to oblige by doing little. However, this week's most pathetic moment came when Brent returned to the suite after Pepi and Stacy were fired. Upon seeing Brent, Andrea locked herself in the bathroom for a good cry. Over-dramatic much? The "next week" teaser promised that we'll see Brent step way, way, way over the line!

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Ahhhh Arizona. Apparently this is where the horses go to quietly spend their senior years, frolicking in relative anonymity.

By the way, an ESPN'er had the nerve to ask an expert why Edgerrin James was moving on. Granted, some guys will make a move to land on a team that can compete and reach the playoffs. James already had that in Indianapolis.

And it's not like blue chip running backs sit around dreaming of the opportunity to play for the Arizona Cardinals and their weak O Line.

This was a money grab, and a good one. Not only did James break the bank, his deal is heavily front-loaded.

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FOXNews.com - Foxlife: Entertainment and Lifestyle News - Isaac Hayes Quits 'South Park'

Why is Hayes quitting?
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins..."
In fact, since 1997 there has been a place in Hayes' world for satirical attacks on the religions of others, as well as on political points of view, sexual orientations, disabilities, all in addition to general vulgarity and obscenity.

Then, a few months ago South Park turned it's wit on the Church of Scientology, of which Hayes is a member, and the voice of Chef had an epiphany.

Matt Stone said it best:
"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."


Ahem. Chef? Before you head out on the high road, what was that you were singing about your Chocolate Salty Balls?

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2006-03-12



This is going to be a great NCAA Tournament - the field is wide open.

Overall top seed Duke came into the ACC tournament struggling. In advancing to ACC finals they've reinforced their #1 standing, but Carolina demonstrated that the Blue Devils are beatable.

The other team vying for #1, U Conn, exited the Big East tourney early and has also been shown to be vulnerable.

There just isn't a potential #1 seed that seems to be an iron-clad lock to reach the Final Four. Think Syracuse. Think Boston College. Think about a host of pesky mid-majors. More dangerous teams than ever will fill the brackets later today.

According to Mike and Mike a number of mid-majors will crash the party at the expense of major conference marginal teams. On the other hand, South Carolina is one game away from stealing a tourney berth from one of the hopefuls.

This must be a record: On the Duke-BC broadcast, we were less than a minute and a half into the game when Dick Vitale made his first "Robert Montgomery Knight" reference.

And yesterday Digger Phelps made his bid to become the Lee Corso of College Hoops with his assanine "I'd rather be a #2 than a #1 seed," speech. The point he was trying to make was that this year's 1-seeds are weaker than normal, which I agree with. He just chose a really dumb, nonsensical Corso-esque way to express that point.

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2006-03-10



Just got done watching the Tar Heels dispatch Virginia en route to the ACC tournament semi-finals. I'm always up for a powder-blue win, but this one was more of a struggle than it should have been. Had the Cavaliers been hitting from outside Carolina's weekend might well have ended early.

Another key to the Cavs effort: they didn't give Carolina's freshman star, Tyler Hansbrough, room to breathe. Hansbrough's modest 17-pt outing was a far cry from last Sunday's explosion that powered the Heels over arch-rival Duke.

There is no doubt that Hansbrough has serious game. He's a force in the paint, a monster on the glass, and for a big man his outside shot is obscene. Tonight Virginia demonstrated that even Hansbrough can't beat a triple-team. With every opponent in the vicinity rushing Hansbrough every time he touches the ball, Tar Heel success depends on two things: 1. Other Heels stepping up, and 2. Hansbrough learning how to distribute the ball.

The good ones have Hansbrough's skills. The great ones know how to beat you, regardless of your defensive strategy.

Shifting gears, it's time for another stupid announcer moment. Watch any Carolina game and you can't miss hearing how Hansbrough is the first freshman to lead Carolina in scoring and rebounds for the season. OK. But then you'll get the added observation, "That's really something when you think of all the great players that have come through this program!"

There have been some great Heels through the years, no doubt. Eventually the NBA Hall of Fame will be littered with Carolina alums. But most of the greatest (so far), came through during the era of Dean Smith, who was notorious for keeping his freshmen on ice. How can you call yourself a college basketball announcer and know so little about the University of North Carolina?

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Check out this series of headlines from The Ohio State Lantern and see if you can detect the literary device that is being used ad nauseum:

"Mountain movie"
"'Girl's Gotta': gals grabbing, grubbing"
"Move over Mozart: Student study songs"
"Break into the Biz: easily enter essay and enjoy"
"Lacrosse lads lament loss, look to Lions"
"System stinks, some students say"
"COTA colludes to convert Columbus commuters"
"Stressed students should seek support"
"Machine molds melted metal model"

Mind you I didn't have to cull the archives. These all published this morning. To read some of these pieces you'd guess, perhaps correctly, that more time was spent trying to squeeze out an alliterative headline than in actually writing the article.

I get that alliteration can add punch to a headline when used carefully. But these examples ... it's like their prof told them last week that alliteration should be used in headlines and now, green college students that they are, they can't imagine doing it any other way.

That's ok though. When I was a Christian Ministries major we had a minister who'd actually experienced an exorcism come and speak to us. For the next week a group of my fellow CM majors were running around campus spotting demons and trying to cast them out.

I guess over-alliteration isn't so bad after all.

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Fanblogs.com is running a poll on College Football's most hated figure.

The timing kind of sucks. On the doorstep of March Madness, who is thinking about College Football? But I am a fan so I weighed in. Corso for Most Hated!

Apparently I'm not alone. My boy is running in 6th right now with 8% of the vote. Not suprisingly, the Old Ball Coach has a commanding lead. To a guy like Spurrier, that could be the supreme compliment.

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Speaking of economics, Michelle Leder at footnoted.org has, in her hashing out of AutoZone's stock buyback a great case study on the difference between appearance and reality.

AutoZone is embarking on a stock buyback. Hurray! The company is bullish on its future, right? Well, the effects of the buyback are not good. AutoZone's debt ratio will jump from 5 to 30 percent. The increased debt led to the company's debt being reduced to "junk." So those who don't participate in the buyback will have their modest share price increase easily matched by interest expense. Somehow management finds this "more efficient."

Turns out a 29% AutoZone shareholder will give up his entire holding in the buyback. The difference between "buyback" and "insider sale"? The former sounds better, the latter sounds an alarm that can send investors running. Not much else in this case.

As always, good work Michelle.

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John Edwards is blogging. So, he's found a new forum for all of the nothing that's in his head.

Today's post trumpets a typical simple-minded Democratic idea:
"You have the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of working Americans - please join us as we fight to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour."
Improving lives by causing them to lose their jobs? by reducing what their paycheck will buy?

You Dems. Just keep assuming folks will buy in to the immediate obvious results of your plan ("Oh boy! Free money courtesy of the government!") and not think about the longer-term effects ("What if my employer can't afford me?" "Is it realistic to assume my employer will just eat the increase instead of passing it along in the form of higher prices?")

Get back to your fund-raising Johnny. You've got a Hillary to beat.

Thanks to instapundit for the link.

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