Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In which we are elsewhere

Long post on attendees at @TournamentToolkit on Fb. That's enough for one day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

In which we tell you how to flip

As I pointed out on Facebook on the Tournament Toolkit page, one thing was pretty clear on Saturday at CFL Grands. Aff was killing in LD, and Con wasn’t far behind in PF. I wonder if there’s reasons for that.

Maybe the housing was doing so well because we were in the capitol of Liberal Tree-Hugging America. Housing is far from a natural right, though, so the idea that it’s a civil right guaranteed by the government, specifically in the US, requires an awful lot of leaps from what is a right to what ought to be a right. Even as a civil right: although housing is perceived as a right in the UDHR, it’s pretty far down the line of the things that a government is able to guarantee, and rights require guarantees from governments by definition. I’m wondering if LD has gotten so far away from a basic, classical understanding of rights that it just hooks on to whatever claims it wants to make, despite drawing on a subject with more literature than virtually anything else in ethics. The pool on Saturday wasn’t exactly drawn from the avant garde of the $ircuit, but they were nevertheless generally pretty experienced. And good debaters know how to adapt to CFL judges. Go figure.

Meanwhile, PFers were hot and heavy for the US to pressure Israel for two states. Again, maybe the location of the event says something here, but I’m not sure what. It could be that, indeed, the two-state solution, which pretty much everybody in the universe prefers aside from Benny the Net and Landslide Donnie (who seems to prefer whatever he sees on Fox News five minutes ago, and then blames it on Hillary), is simply hard to beat in a straightforward debating environment. As I also pointed out at TT on Fb, this one really needed judges to step back from their own opinions. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.

Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to debate these resolutions, aside from qualifiers and maybe state events. Given the tendency in the LD world to believe that, aside from NSDA, the topics end with Jan-Feb (thanks for nothing, TOC), this may not be an issue for them. PF, which seems a bit more bought into the actual months it occurs, would only have one more chance. I would be curious if other operations using these topics had similar results, considering that our results were both definitive and, because of the size of the field, statistically useless.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

In which we reminisce

Tonight is the annual dinner for the folks who run the NYCFL.

I've been doing debate for the group since, well, what seems like forever. At least a decade. I can remember when I went to my first dinner. I really didn't know everyone all that well, and I'm not exactly the most comfortable small-talker ever, but with this group, there was plenty of talk to go around. Most memorably, Sister Raimonde was in attendance that year, and every other year pretty much until she retired. She was a pretty frightening character from a distance, but one thing I noticed about her right away was how much her students liked her. That's always been key to my judgment of coaches: if their kids like them, they're probably okay. Kids and dogs can tell these things. And it's certainly true that not all kids like their coaches. Or all coaches like their kids. There's often a grudging respect, but not much more, and sometimes not even that. Oh, well.

Anyhow, Sister R was rather enjoyable in person, and so was everyone else. Over time the personnel have changed, but it's still fun. Of course, nowadays I work regularly with Catholic Charlie and JV, so right there we are able to settle in for one of the few social events of the year when we're together. So, it's a bit of fun for the backstagers, once again at an Italian restaurant in White Plains, right down the road from the DJ. I'm looking forward to it.

And Saturday is Grands, and everything seems to be lined up. Looking forward to that, too. I'm so easy to please nowadays.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

In which we get serious about the new Fb page

There is now a Tournament Toolkit page on Facebook. I originally used the View from Tab page, but I felt that really didn’t do the job. What I’m hoping for is that this will be a place where those of us who do this a lot can share information and tips and ideas and help, outside of the dedicated help of After all, that’s just about tabbing, and there’s a lot more to running a tournament than running a tab room. My recommendation is that, if you’re running a tournament, you don’t tab it yourself, so most of what I talk about in the toolkit on my website is not specifically, although much of it may be controlled within that software.

The next step is getting the page noticed. If you’re here, would you mind going there and following the page? It’s @TournamentToolkit. I’ll also try sharing it to my own Fb page, so people will see it.

I’m hoping that it won’t be a one-way communication, since I’ve already got plenty of that. I know there’s more than one way to do things, and while I think I’ll be describing best practices, someone else might have a bester one. (And why didn’t Word question “bester” when I typed it out? Blogger did. Google smarter than Microsoft? Uh-oh.)


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In which we solicit judge qualifications

There’s a button I never click in tabroom, that I did click for the CFL Grands. It’s the one that says “Ask for judge qualifications and histories.” For the Grands, we require a certain amount of previous experience, and short of my going to the tournaments I’ve already tabbed and laboriously looking for names, which of course does not include tournaments I haven’t tabbed—oh, I miss my godlike powers—this is a good way to get that info.

But there’s probably more to it, and I may start using this button in the future for divisions without MJP. With MJP, I have no real interest in abilities; my job is to match the numbers. But in a PF division, especially at a college, we have no idea who we’re putting where. As Kaz has pointed out, it would be nice to know that the person we’re putting into a bubble round did PF for 4 years in high school versus being a former declamation also-ran the college managed to find under the bed and threaten with expulsion from the Parli Scotch Drinking Society if they didn’t judge all weekend. Not that the latter wouldn’t get used, but would get used judiciously. I was originally going to put this question of experience in the spreadsheet of hired judges that we work from, but I think putting it here makes more sense, if for no other reason than that we can see it within the program that we’re working simply by clicking on the judge name.

Anyhow, I just went over the qualifications for Grands. Sure enough, the fact that there were people I have never heard of meant nothing in the grand scheme of things (no pun intended). People have gotten judges from all over the place and, I’m happy to say, nobody is trying to put in a ringer. In the past, I have indeed dumped a ringer or two, much to everyone’s chagrin, but rules are rules. And I have to admit, a rule that suggests that a person know at least something about what they’re doing when they’re judging a national qualifier makes sense to me.

(By the way, I"m going to cross-post some of this to my The View From Tab page, which I'm reviving for my Facebook materials. I'll probably do a bit of that going forward, if I think the content is of general interest, as compared to VCA interest only.)


Monday, March 13, 2017

In which we pray

I’m looking at the numbers for Saturday’s CFL qualifier. (We always call it CFL Grands, but I’m not sure other dioceses do likewise.) 16 and 14 in LD and PF respectively. Normally, this would play as a glorified round robin, but Grands is anything but normal. The people who attend put a high premium on these results: they really want to go to CatNats. So we have to scrupulously insure that the fairest process is in place, to reward the most deserving performances at the tournament. It’s one of the ones where we go over everything umpteen times, to insure both accuracy and bias-free placements. We’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years, but not without a bump or two. This year we won’t have Kaz to kick around, as she’ll be doing something Massachusettsian this Saturday. I don’t think we’ll miss her though; we had her to kick around this last weekend, going down to the Met and having dinner with JV, and then breakfast with the Paginator on Sunday. We did have to carefully explain to the P how clocks work for Daylight Savings Time. Apparently he was so distracted by having to tab policy at his state tournament that he couldn’t tie his shoelaces, tell time, or drink anything that wasn’t in a sippy cup. That whole sippy cup thing got him into some sort of fracas at a Starbucks somewhere, because: 1) they don’t served their drinks in sippy cups, and 2) they don’t serve Manhattans. He might have gone into some detail explaining this, but I couldn’t hear him with my jaw dropped that far.

I might have committed to tabbing the NY State tournament when we were with Joe. I'm not sure. I do remember him bringing it up and I don't remember saying no. 

I did start playing with a new Fb page. There is only so much one can do design-wise. It ultimately boils down to what you put on it, and I’ve started to figure that out. My guess is that I won’t push it until mid-summer, when people start thinking about tournaments again, but maybe I’ll launch sooner. We’ll see. At the moment, it’s just cogitation.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

In which we outline some future plans

I’m thinking of trying something different, to wit, a Facebook page for debate stuff. I’ve been working on an Fb page for the DJ, and as I learn more about it, it seems like a good thing for my debate stuff. Fb allows two-way communication, and sharing, and things like that, which isn’t really part of the functionality of a blog. Especially since a lot of what I do is for the general market, for example, how to do an electronic tournament, and I know that most people really don’t know how to do that or a lot of other things, I figure why not put this material out more publicly. I would still write articles here, but I would also post them there.

I’m going to play with the idea.

That raises (but does not beg) the question about why I do this at all. The Vast Coachean Army isn’t exactly vast, but it’s not exactly tiny. Considering that I mostly talk about debate, and usually from the very specific perspective of the tab room, I nevertheless have a few hundred readers for every post. Occasionally a post that seems no more relevant or meaningful or, shudder, funnier than the others shoots up to a couple hundred more, and I have no idea why, but to be honest with you, even if there were only a small handful of followers, I’d probably keep at it. I like to write. But that ought to have been evident to you by now. I have all this writing juice and I like to use it. It just so happens that what goes on behind the scenes at tournaments is of interest to a reasonable number of people.

Anyhow, I was talking to a colleague about what one does in one’s interstices, those moments during the day when you’re taking a break from the main business. Me, I write Coachean Life. And in the past, Nostrum. I go on Fb a couple of times a day to see what my friends are up to, although I’ve pared that number lately because the politics has become monotonous. I’ve been posting entertainments as my personal oasis from all of that. On the other hand, I’ve become obsessive about Twitter, where I enjoy the politics, and where I follow a bunch of different reasonable points of view (as compared to the boneheads who support everything Trump does and the boneheads who support nothing Trump does, and offer nothing but boneheadedness to warrant their venom), and where I tweet myself fairly regularly, in the belief that unquestioned immorality is condoned immorality. It’s my moral compass, of course, but who else’s do I have?

And, of course, there’s the writing for work. I write blurbs and memos and articles and all sorts of things, and I really enjoy doing it. It’s fun. For a lot of people, writing almost anything is anything but fun, but that’s not me. And I also spend a lot of time dug deep into manuscripts, doing some pretty heavy duty editing, a craft that is akin to doing crossword puzzles, although not exactly drawing on the same skillset.

So, a lot of writing. And some social media. More, now that I’m working on the DJ site. I’m going to see next if I can do something meaningful in Fb, mostly explaining tournaments and discussing tips and techniques and the like. Maybe, when all is said and done, I’ll be able to get all the Cool Kids convinced that they won’t lose their street cred if they hit the Start button. That alone would be worth the effort.