So one of the things about writing internet comedy is that there aren't any exhaustive academic requirements or a lengthy interview process involved; it's not the kind of thing where you need two degrees and a shirt. The main thing is that your time can't be that valuable; after that, it's pretty much open to anyone who can bang a keyboard. In fact, many of the personal liabilities which might limit your career options in the shirt-wearing office world are actually assets that can be mined for humorous effect in the comedy world. Like all those Robin Williams bits, where he talks about mutilating pets when he was a kid.
I bring this up to make my horrible, horrible gambling problem seem more palatable. You see, even though I didn't go to school in America, don't like college basketball, and would have a hard time picking a basketball out of a lineup of spherical objects, every year without fail, I fill in a bracket for the NCAA tournament, entering it in a pool with friends. I know what you're probably thinking, "That doesn't sound so bad you floppy-wristed dandy,", and you're right (though probably a bit harsh-tongued.) But what I haven't mentioned is that I somehow have $28,000 riding on the damned thing, even though everyone else in the pool has a ten dollar buy in. I honestly have no idea how this happened - I guess I'm giving them odds?
I once lost three bills while volunteering at my nephew's Sports Day, simply because this fucking kid can't hula hoop.
Compounding my wagering issue is my basketball-lexia. A ham sandwich dropped on a Twister board from a medium height has a better chance of predicting a college ball game's outcome than me. I'm currently in last place in this year's pool, and with 0 teams remaining in the final 4, the mathematical odds of me winning are... not actually there.
So is my situation hopeless? Broadly, over the span of my lifetime, yes, but in this specific instance, no. It just means that I can't use math to win. Which is fine, because winners don't use math.
Not pictured: Math
No, to come from behind and win my pool now, I needed a paradigm busting two-handed punch of a technique. And, after a great deal of thought, I think I've come up with one. Below is how I plan to win my bracket this year, which I present below for anyone who wants to try this themselves. If you're one of those people who can still mathematically win your pool, well
To use this exact technique yourself, you're going to need to be using one of the online bracket tools which tracks everyone's brackets for you. If you don't, if you and the staff of Martha Stewart Living have hand-crafted your own ornate brackets on home made papyrus, don't fret! Many of the techniques here may still be useful to you, but just know that I hate you.
Coming from behind to win a NCAA basketball in these late stages requires some specialized equipment.
- Fifteen laptops, each with at least a quad core, 2.3 Ghz processor and 4 GB of RAM.
- A length of wood.
- A good quantity of kerosene.
- A full size SUV.
- A balaclava.
- Twenty eight (28) live ducks.
- A pistol.
- A male to male USB connector.
The first thing I had to do was forget everything I know about basketball. It was that almost-knowledge which got me in to this mess, and it was sure as hell not going to get me out. Everything I knew about the teams remaining in the tournament, including star players, key matchups, and the current odds in Vegas, had to be forgotten. This was easy, because I didn't know any of it to begin with.
In their place, I taught myself as much as possible about basic computer security concepts such as SSL, PGP, and brute force decryption. Because time was a factor, I managed to do this over the course of three hours, mainly by watching Swordfish about one and a half times.
In this scene Wolverine pings the compiler with 18 million bit C+ encryption.
Once that was done, I put my affairs in order.
All buckled in? Well undo that, because we may need to get out of here quick.
1) Using my full size SUV, I will travel to Los Angeles, and park outside the CBS Sports server farm.
2) As nonchalantly as possible, I will wait for the cover of night. I will pointedly not whistle: contrary to popular opinion, this actually makes people look extremely chalant. If any police officers or security guards ask what I'm doing, I'll just tell them "nothing suspicious." No criminal would ever think to say this.
3) Using the balaclava, I will cover my face, to keep my head warm in the brisk nighttime air.
4) With the length of wood, I'll jam down the gas peddle of the full size SUV, sending it in to the front door of the server farm. While everyone inside is distracted by the SUV, its cargo of terrified ducks, and the
5) At the side of the building I will work up the nerve to shoot the lock off the door. This will take awhile, especially once I start imagining the bullet ricocheting into my leg. Then I'll change my mind and try to hit the lock with the butt of the pistol before stopping, remembering that that's even crazier.
6) Around here the door will swing open, as panicked employees sprint through the door, escaping the waterfowl which are now on fire and running rampant inside. I'll wave the frightened employees out, politely holding the door open for them.
7) Using my copy of College Basketball Prospectus 2008-2009, I'll jam the door open, then make my way inside.
8) Inside, I'll look around until I find the main server room. This will be the room with the main server in it.
9) There I'll attach my laptop to the main server using the USB cable. I'm hoping that autodetect handles the tricky parts here. Basically I'm imagining a little progress bar which says Hacking... and then it will be done.
10) If that doesn't work, I do have a backup plan. I will find a man with glasses, and threaten to shoot his favorite computer if he doesn't log in and change my bracket. Men with glasses all love computers more than life itself and will do anything to protect them. To show that I'm serious, I'll shoot my own computer, again after spending several seconds worrying about a ricochet.
11) When he asks what account my bracket is registered under, I will not tell him, knowing that's how they'd trace me. Instead, I'll give him the name of someone else in my pool, and change their bracket to be worse than mine.
12) Daring escape.
13) At this point I'll have moved up one spot in my pool rankings. Now, I wait an hour, and rehydrate.
14) Repeat steps 3-13 as necessary until my actual bracket is in first place. As there are currently fifteen people ahead of me, this will take some amount of time - I could probably calculate how much time, but that would take math, and that isn't happening.
So there you have it. I invite anyone in a similar situation as me to try the same over the next few days. If a lot of us are using the CBS Sports tool, it could get pretty crowded with us all running in and out of the server farm, so I'd suggest we all wear reflective vests to minimize any collisions.
Most rich kids just want to be pop stars.
How did these hyper-specific tropes spread so quickly?
The Hollywood rumor mill has been playing games with celebrity deaths for at least a century.