Sunday, April 30, 2006

Undead from the TOC - No refresing necessary

Well, I judged 3 full rounds, which is pretty average. 6 decisions. 4 solid, 1 coin flip, 1 where the loser was pissed off enough that I went downtown to pick up a bulletproof vest just in case. Finding out that I wasn't on the 7th round schematic, I wandered over to Pfftland, where it's quiet and peaceful. It took me a while to find it, but now that I have, you'll know where to find me.

If you're wondering, the state of debate in the universe is, by me, same as it ever was. Some solid debaters with clear cases and arguments. One person who needed to ask me if he ran a nut case, which one of us should crack. A little tendency for people to run complex positions which just flew by me. Maybe it's me. Probably is. Except if your case is so complicated that I can't understand it, what indeed are the criteria for understanding. I mean, I have coached for a couple of weeks. I understand the subject of the resolution. Oh, well. Same as it ever was.

Some updating of the Legion of Doom situation may ensue. Smilin' J presented to the board; I didn't ask what they thought of it. The next big step for the Legion seems to be NFL. After that? Getting out to the people, I guess. Rumor has it that I will be involved in that process. Stay tuned.

No one seems to have noticed that WTF wasn't able to get any schematics this year, so they're posting last year's instead. Thank God O'C has that Intergalactic Borg Communicator Chip, although one really doesn't need it here, since there's wifi everywhere. He looks normal today, if you were wondering. Many of the people do. Not all, but some. Horaceman is enjoying himself, which is good.

Anyhow, I only wanted to check in, because I can. I did. Ciao.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

364 days until TOC 2007

Whoa! Internet access! Who knew?

I haven't checked over at WTF about what's happening here, because I'm here myself. (Reality preceding the media and all that.) What you need is all the news that doesn't fit on WTF, eh?

Everyone has blocked O'C, but I've been judging up a storm. (All right, I judged round 1 and O'C didn't, but still, I'm way ahead of him.) According to Menick's theory of blockage, which says that the more you're blocked, the more you judge because the program tries to place the blockees first, this bodes ill for lots of free time as the weekend progresses.

Thanks to the early afternoon flight, HoraceMan and I arrived earlier than usual yesterday, which meant a line at registration (where was E Rin when you need her?) and lots of people hugging each other like long lost family members. I successfully managed a light wave at one or two people, which for me is about as much personal space as I was willing to devote to my fellow wizards, if you get my drift. After the lovefest, we went off to Jalapeno's, the usual Friday night haunt, which had people lined up to Oregon. So, plan B, we went to the other Mexican restaurant, and had virtually the same meal with no lines. Meanwhile, the evil Lexington team was ensconced at Jalapeno's. No doubt at our table. The dogs!

After dinner there was a casual meeting of the Legion of Doom. Mostly it was Smilin' J working on what to present to the committee today, then a conversation with the California Op about burdens and debate theory, then a Frogger walk home back to the motel. No tectonic plates were noticed to have moved.

Craig and I have been arguing about how many people read this blog. Here's my response to him, since I believe that there's about 3 of you, and 1 of you is a spalpeen and the other 1 is Craig. Honk if you read this blog. I'm sitting right here. Buy me a cup of coffee. Palm me a twenty dollar bill. Pat me on the back and say, love your stuff, Bubba. Hmmmm.....better yet, just give me a light wave; that'll do. I'll measure the audience by how many light waves I get before the weekend is over.

You would love to see all these people all dolled up, btw. JoVan looks like George W. Bush at a state dinner. O'C looks like the headwaiter at a really fancy simulacrum of a restaurant. I look happy as a clamdigger in a Mickey Mouse polo shirt. Aaaahhhh. Sometimes being a dinosaur has its advantages.

I did venture out to try to find Professors Coyne and Averill over at Pffftland, but I got lost. If I get another round off--what's the odds of that--I'll try again after lunch.

Don't you just love TOCs?

Friday, April 28, 2006

365 days until the 2007 TOC

As the countdown begins, I, for one, am all atwitter. Will Guam finally break through to tie Abu Dhabi for overall wins? Will the number of strikes rise to 150? Will JWP bring back tee shirt sales? Will O'Cruz find his luggage?

Coachean Life promises to track every minute of the exciting year ahead, in the race for the champion of the international $ircuit!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Things to do

Let's see.

1) Give O'C a biscuit. I wasn't particularly attacking GWB, simply pointing out that they are rather good as a TOC delivery service. "[There will be] round-by-round reports. Who’s hitting who? Who’s down one? Down two? Down and out? You can expect up-to-the-minute reports from the University of Kentucky and, reception permitting, live coverage of the annual Breakfast of Champions at which the recipients of the speaker awards and other prestigious tournament honors are announced. Like last year, VBD will be taping a run-off round, an octafinal round, a quarterfinal round, a semifinal round, and the final round for public access online." Compare this to the old bbds or listservers, and it's a world of difference. But as I say, there's no explicit attack of GWB. When I explicitly attack them, I am usually quite clear about it; I may not be a Smilin' J, but I have my moments.

2) Redo the reading list page of the LD Corner of the Hen Hud site. No offense to Marc, but the thing has a beard, and it's time to attack it from the ground up. Among other things, new titles need to be added to the summer reading list (e.g. Putnam, in aid of creating an army of future little Emcees). And, of course, send out the summer assignments to the teeming millions.

3) Give self a biscuit. I've figured out my problems with Audacity, and I think I can pretty much guarantee clear recording going forward. The thing keeps switching inputs if you're not paying attention, so the solution, d'uh, is paying attention. Next major project is Caveman, followed by some new material. I'm wavering between Zen Ethics (that's an anagram for a German guy who seems to eternally recur, if you know what I mean) and someone more modern, but a lot of it will depend on who I more enjoy reading. I also have some general pomo anthologies that look promising. Frenchman 2?

4) Give Pip a biscuit. He originally greeted the little trooper with pure malice, but has slowly (and, perhaps, inevitably) quieted down and come to accept the little squirt. In other words, Pip is now pretty much back to his old Pippish self, which is all that I ever ask of him.

5) Read mail that is clogging the box over the Modest Novice. I sent out a general call to arms yesterday after a series of discussions with Noel S, who worries about the concept becoming an excuse for prefab cases of one sort or another. It's a reasonable concern (although I don't actually agree with him), and his suggestion for an evaluation at the end of the season certainly works. In any case, I'm committed now. I thought it would be good to mount the charge pre-TOC, for anyone local who might be there to have any last issues brought forward.

6) Switch to Speech. I think I enjoy Speech more than anyone thinks, and after judging this weekend, if I find myself in the Slough of Debate Despond, maybe I'll just switch with Dave and have done with it. Certainly recording Nostrum allows me new insights into performance (I keep saying to myself, ENUNCIATE! SAY ALL THE PARTS OF THE WORDS!).

7) Sign off for a few days. Goodbye and thanks for all the fish. I'll be in Kaintuck. (Look for my picture at I'll be the one giving O'C a biscuit.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Coda: From Jane Jacobs obituary

"What a dear, sweet character she isn't," he said.

Ponies Part Two

So the point yesterday was that, in the overall scheme of things LD, TOC does not loom particularly large. It is, for all practical purposes, an elite event limited to those who can afford to travel to bid tournaments, an expense which increases dramatically the further away one is from a debate "center" like the Northeast. While there is nothing wrong with being able to afford to travel to academic events—quite the contrary, it would be the norm in Utopia—it becomes increasingly difficult in tough economic times. In NY, for instance, school budgets are being slashed mercilessly thanks to a combination of national, state and local pressures. At our school, we've been talking about eliminating activities altogether (although not forensics, thankfully, aside from a 10% budget decrease). We are not alone in this. So where is the money coming from for those bid seekers? Well, it could be a poor school district and they're just plumb lucky. Or it could be a rich school district. Or they pay out of their own pockets. I have no figures on this, but logic favors the latter two over the first possibility, which would indicate that most people who travel for bids have more money to do so than people who don't travel for bids. Certainly people who travel for bids actually get bids, so if the logic holds, people who have more money to travel get more bids than people who don't. Life is not fair. And the people who can afford to get bids shouldn't be vilified for having resources. But we shouldn't lose track of the reality that the society of the bid getters comprises the well-to-do. (If the Urban Debate League, for example, supported LD, this would certainly no longer be the case, but alas, they believe in the Holy Grail of Policy.)

In a closed system, it wouldn't matter much who was going to bid tournaments and who was getting bids and who was going to TOC because only those in the system would know about it. But today, while it is still a closed system because of the finances, it no longer looks closed. Ten years ago TOC could pass rules demanding that debaters cut off their right foot, and no one would know and no one would care. Today, thanks to the shameless concentration on TOC as its Holy Grail, VBD has brought a glaring focus on TOC as if it actually mattered. Great googly-moogly, but now they're counting down the days! Throughout the year they track every TOC tournament, they list every TOC bid getter, they photograph them in all their TOC glory, they report every remark from the lips of the tournament's founder and director ("JWP announces new doughnut policy at TOCs!"). Since by default VBD is the synoptic nerve center of LD, whatever it is that they concentrate on becomes, by that same default, worth concentrating on. Having just had my brain fried by Jean Baudrillard, it is easy to use his analysis to understand that the relationship of a medium and the thing mediated get confused until the cause and effect don't matter because they can't be distinguished. The "difference" disappears. TOC is important because VB says it's important. VB is important because it is saying what is and isn't important. Objective importance gets lost in the shuffle.

While it will come as no surprise to anyone that I have reservations about VBD, I also like having a central debate site. And as I say, that has defaulted to VBD. It could have been anyone, but VBD got there, and there they are. They have cleaned up their act quite a bit during their time in the sun. I do use it personally as a news site; I'll check to see if something's happening that I ought to know about. Occasionally I'll read a thread, but only very occasionally, because they are populated mostly by a handful of the usual suspects with whom I have little interest in communicating.

But what we're talking about here is TOC. My bringing VBD into the discussion is simply to point out that, whereas once TOC operated in its own cocoon, today it operates in the public eye. An unblinking, adulatory, idolizing public eye. So whereas once, if TOC made decisions, if affected only those directly in the TOC loop, now those decisions indirectly affect all of LD. And beyond decisions, what happens at TOC does NOT stay at TOC. TOC, having become the Holy Grail of LD, speaks with the evangelical voice, both in its actions and its proclamations. The style of debate that wins TOC speaks to the LD community at large of what, presumably, the style of debate ought to be. The style of judging at TOC speaks to the LD community at large of what, presumably, judging ought to be. Ditto, the content of cases. Ditto, and perhaps most importantly, the attitude permeating TOC, speaking to the LD community at large of what the attitude of LD ought to be. Everywhere. Whether you're a TOC type or not.

And what is the attitude of TOC? Well, I am happy to see that, in the elimination of Mutual Judge Preference, the attitude is clearly agreeing with the idea that LDers ought to be able to adapt to judges, which is a basic tenet of public speaking, that speakers ought to gauge their audiences. Think of your best teachers. Have they made you adapt to them, or vice versa? Other questions remain, however. With the movement afoot to support an "educational" stance in LD (through the LDEP), the issue of where TOC stands on this becomes quite important. At least one advisory committee member of TOC is on the board of LDEP. Others have stood back for fear of being tainted as anti-progressive. The crucial issue will be, is TOC a tournament, and all it cares about is what every tournament cares about? That is, throw all that crapola about competition and great debate out the window and do the math on the entry fees and figure out where the University of Kentucky's debate team's funds are coming from. Is that what TOC is all about? That, and the careers of a handful of debate coaches who go home to their districts every year to sport their ponies to keep their own teams funded? If that is the case, again, that's not terrible. That's real life. But in the combination of TOC and VBD, where a so-called quest for the best can be transformed into a beacon for all that makes something like LD important regardless of competition, maybe there are higher goals. If TOC embraces those higher goals, we will all be proud. If they don't, we will simply go to the tournament (and all the bid tournaments) if we can, and if we can afford it, and we'll know, in our heart of hearts, that this isn't the end-all be-all of LD. It's just another tournament.

And where is that end-all be-all? If you have to ask me, you haven't been paying attention all these years.


Oh, yeah. This must be Wednesday, because a new Nostrum podcast has out. Check out iTunes or my podcast page.

And, in the annals of feline detente, the photo below says it all.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ponies on the trophy shelf

That's what they give for trophies at TOC. Ponies. Thoroughbreds, no doubt, this being right down the road from Churchill Downs, and the Derby often being on the same weekend. Usually going to TOC means missing the Derby, which is one of my favorite sporting events (it only lasts two minutes, you can legally bet on it, and I know more about it than most other people, unlike, say, baseball or football where everybody, including TK, knows more than I do). This year it's the week before the Derby, so I'll get to do both.

In all the brouhaha about the Legion of Doom and DMV and the end of life on earth as we know it, few people discuss the TOC's role in this. While I was part of the official operation, acting on the advisory committee, I felt it was rather hypocritical to criticize the event outside of that committee, but having been summarily dumped from this post (to which I had been invited for no good reason I could detect so I'm hardly upset about no longer being a part of it), I feel I can speak freely. Not that I wish to damn the whole enterprise, now that my lips are no longer sealed. But I think that we need to keep it in perspective. Too many people don't.

I mentioned this before, that I was struck by the comment that the debate community was divided into two segments, the local and national circuits. The more I think about this, the more true I find it. Except for one thing. The so-named local circuit, which we can define at least as whatever isn't the national circuit, is a galumphing large monster comprising most of the activity. The national circuit, on the other hand, is a rather tiny (albeit vocal) group. Let's define national circuit. It's a series of events loosly linked by their TOC bids. And presumably the goal of people attending those events is to succeed well enough to attend TOC. Within that series of events, some are more accessible than others, because of geography, and some are more desirable than others, usually because of the number of bids, especially when mixed with accessible geography. So Glenbrooks or Emory, for whatever other reasons they are popular, are big national circuit events because they have a lot of bids and they are easy to get to. Some of these lot-of-bid tournaments affect exclusivity, like Emory. You have to be a "chair" to get in, that is, you have to be a member of some elite group pre-defined by the tournament, although they let in non-members too after the members have all had their opportunity. Some of these lot-of-bid tournaments let in everyone with a checkbook in their hands, like Harvard. In either case, the result is the same. People who can afford to do so (you can't travel around the country to Georgia and Illinois and Massachusetts without money) pick among these tournaments, sometimes going to almost all of them if their budgets and schedules allow. The same people keep turning up, in other words.

After the lot-of-bid tournaments, there are the progressively-fewer-bid tournaments, ranging from plenty to some to two. These are the so-called (in TOC vernacular) regional tournaments. People go to these usually because they are regionally accessible. They tend to be reliable, repeated events, well-conducted year after year. There's always a lot of bellyaching that certain regions have more bids than other regions, but the reality is simply that certain schools run reliable tournaments and those are where the bids will go, for obvious reasons. California is a good example. There's plenty of people, but not plenty of tournaments. Simple as that.

If you were to add all the TOC-bid tournaments, you wouldn't get more than a few dozen. If you were to add all the attendees of these tournaments, taking away the dupes, you'd have well under 1000. In the northeast, for instance, we have about 200 people that appear at Bump, Monticello, Lex, Scarsdale, Newark, Bronx. Other people ship in, of course, but our region pretty much is that couple of hundred. Presumably it's the same for other regions.

Are there so few debaters in the country? Are there so few people involved in LD? Of course not. But there are just these few people even theoretically involved in the chase for TOC bids. And realistically, of those 200 people in the northeast, for instance, maybe 25% of them seriously are pursuing TOC bids. Not that they might not daydream of marvellous forensic successes, but a history of 2-3s and low-point 3-2s throughout one's career is usually a convincing draught of self-awareness. If they were only in this for TOC bids, they'd be one seriously depressed group. Fortunately, they're in it for a lot of other reasons (they like to debate, they like the people, they like the atmosphere, they like to get out of the house on weekends, whatever). Only that 25% are in it for the bids.

Maybe that's the number around the country. 25% of all debaters are in it for the bids, are in it because they dream of TOC.

Which raises the question, what role, then, does TOC play? Is it truly the highest achievement of the forensic community? Or is it merely the highest achievement of one small segment of the forensic community? And by one small segment I don't mean the debaters who are "good" versus some other debaters, but debaters who give a flying fig about the whole thing versus debaters who are on another track altogether.

More on this tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2006

TK and the world of pomo

We'll discuss TK in a second. First, pomo. Thanks to the world's worst weather this weekend, I finished the Baudrillard lecture. The links are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, and of course, the whole thing is residing on the coachean podcast page. It's three parts, obviously, and mostly it's in pretty good shape except for one section, the problems with which eluded me. The wrong stuff got recorded, then the replacement material was muddy for about 5 minutes. Go figure. Anyhow, if you're interested in Baudrillard and Simulacra and Simulation, here's your chance to compare your thoughts on the matter with mine. I haven't added it to the iTunes syndication, since it's a lecture, not a Nostrum, and one must keep ones ducks in their appropriate rows, mustn't one?

As for TK, well, that's the name of the new cat. That is, name to come, although we are zeroing in on a couple. We picked him up Saturday morning, and he has proven a most zesty young fellow, full of beans and very affectionate. Unfortunately, Pip has yet to warm up to him. PTW has been holing up in Kate's room, just waiting for TK to go away. They have sniffed at each other once or twice, and TK has tried to grab Pip's tail, but that's the extent of it. I'm trusting that a few more days of exposure will convince Pip that TK is staying, like it or not. After all, we got TK to keep Pip company; the whole point of the exercise is awry if Pip finds the company not to his taste.

And of course, TOC is this weekend. And I need to finalize the NFL stuff, which is also due. I'm sort of looking forward to TOC, for a variety of reasons. Ah, Kentucky in the Spring...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

No name yet

And not the world's greatest photo, but it's a gloomy day and the little $%^&@* won't sit still for two seconds.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A sense of calm settles over the nation

The new installment of Nostrum appeared on iTunes without a hitch. The masses can lay down their arms and return to their homes.


So I'm rather interested in the following, as it relates to S&S. My premise is that one good way into this remarkably obtuse theorist is through a reading of Disney (speaking of which, I am presently literally reading the ms of Neal Gabler's new bio of WED, and it's the best ever, simple as that). We all know Disney. We've all been there and done that, even if we haven't. So we can take some very complex coin (the old Baudleroo) and exchange him for some very common coin (Disneyland and/or Disney World). Baud's own writing on Disney is no easier than his writing on anything else, but if we can't understand him specifically, at least we can sense what he's talking about.

To wit: Pirates of the Caribbean. Which, as far as I know, Baud doesn't write about (he's too hung up on the hyperreality of the parking lot; as I said, he's the last person you want to go on a Disney trip with).

Once upon a time, there were pirates in the Caribbean, and elsewhere. Edward Teach--Blackbeard--was abroad in the early 1700s. Scotland's own William Kidd strolled out to the gallows in 1701. That old privateer Francis Drake thrived even earlier, in the Elizabethan era. The open sea was hardly a place of safety to begin with in those great days of exploration and discovery, and add to this the politics of the age (Drake's targets were Spanish ships) and the lack of, say, the Coast Guard, and you've got a pretty lively ocean. Pirates may still exist to the present day, but the Age of Piracy, if we wish to call it that, had already diminished by the time the American colonies became the United States. Oh, sure, there were those marauders on the shores of Tripoli that the early Marines had to contend with, but the concept of pirate as exemplified by the Blackbeards and the Captain Kidds was all but over. That original Age of Piracy, nevertheless, had been, in a word, real.

By the end of the 19th Century, after much passage of time, the real pirates had been transmogrified by the popular culture. Whatever these fierce outlaws had been hundreds of years ago, they had become something of a myth. They had been transformed from the fear of every ocean-going traveler (and of many port inhabitants) into cultural icons. New Year's Eve, 1879, marked the premiere performance of "The Pirates of Penzance," where pirates are perceived as somewhat better than politicians on the social scale, where it is easy to confuse a pirate and a pilot, and where the state of being an orphan is enough to bring a tear to the buccaneering eye. Better still, think of J. M. Barrie. By the time he writes Peter Pan, 1904, pirates are images of childhood fantasy, so completely removed from reality that Barrie can use them freely as safe villains to entertain five-year-olds.

Pirates, by this time, have come a long way.

The golden age of Hollywood was an age of myth. Hollywood created myths, Hollywood explored myths, Hollywood was myths, Hollywood was myth. (I'm starting to sound like the OB, now!). Hollywood processed myths with great avarice. Pirates were among those myths. Dashing buccaneers like Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power filled the screen with a new image of pirates and piracy. Wallace Beery (what a great and appropriate last name) as Long John Silver. The dreams of America, fueled by the films of Hollywood, were filled with pirates as perhaps no dreams had ever been filled before.

Any relationship to real pirates was totally coincidental, of course. These were newfangled pirates, a myth unto themselves. These pirates were fun and exciting, not unlike the pirates of Peter Pan, only now much more real thanks to the production values of the major Hollywood studios.

Walt Disney himself was on the pirate bandwagon. Because of post-WWII financial issues, Walt was forced to make some movies in England, and the result was a series of live action stories including a fine remake of Treasure Island. Walt also made a version of Peter Pan, thus recycling the already recycled pirates of Neverland. To say that pirates were a solid part of the American imagination in the '50s is to utter a simple, objective truth. And if I'm not mistaken, the idea of including pirates somewhere in Disneyland was on the boards as early as the very opening of the park in 1955, or at least shortly thereafter. Thanks to the New York World's Fair, for which Disney's team created the boats of It's a Small World, in the mid-60s Disney finally had a vehicle to move people through an audioanimatronic world of pirates, and Pirates of the Caribbean, opening in the mid-60s, was the last attraction that Walt himself worked on personally before he died.

Pretty much from the day of its opening, Pirates of the Caribbean was a signature attraction at Disneyland. When Disney World opened a few years later, fans were dismayed that there was no Pirates ride in Florida (Disney management felt that pirates would be banal to Floridians because of their proximity to the Caribbean and, theoretically, real pirates). Disney quickly corrected the error, and soon Pirates of the Caribbean was a signature attraction at Disney World. And, eventually, Disneyland Paris. And Tokyo Disneyland.

But there's a problem now. Pirates qua pirates no longer inhabit the dreams of Americans (much less Europeans and Japanese.) I mean, how much did you read about real pirates when you were in grammar school? Did you even know Blackbeard's real name? In other words, the reality of pirates has gone away from our personal reality. Additionally, the dream reality (the Hollywood reality) of pirates has also gone away from our reality. Nobody made pirate movies anymore in the years after Pirates of the Caribbean opened at the two American Disney parks. Pirates had reached the end of their run, so to speak. They were over, except for one thing, that thing being the attractions at the Disney parks. The real pirates of the Caribbean now only existed in the simulacrum of the attraction of Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates of the Caribbean is not a simulation of anything: it represents no real people and no real place. It is a collection of "signs" of pirates detached from their reality and placed into a new sort of reality, the recreation of something that never existed, a simulacrum.

From this point on, given the popularity of the Disney parks, the pirates that inform the dreams of Americans are no longer either real pirates, or simulations of pirates, or Hollywoodizations of pirates, but simulacra of pirates. How many American children knew nothing about pirates except what they learned from the attraction Pirates of the Caribbean?

Baudrillard would be pleased. But the story then gets perverse.

About 40 years after Pirates of the Caribbean opens, after a long drought of anything piratical in the popular culture, the management of Disney is casting around to, as we like to say in business, repurpose some of its material. Out of this slough of creative turpitude they decide to make movies out of some of the rides, thus inverting Walt's original idea of making rides out of movies. They make a movie of Country Bears. They make a movie of Haunted Mansion. And they make a movie of Pirates of the Caribbean.


I doubt if Disney management imagined the success that would ensue from the film Pirates. But our question here is, what exactly is the film based on? Well, it's based on the attraction. It's based on the simulacrum. They even sing the song from the ride as if it were a real song! The film is entirely informed by the unreality of the ride. And even given the popularity of the various attractions in the parks, more people would see this film than would ever ride the ride. Which means that, for more people, the new image of pirates is derived from this film, based on God knows how many layers of reality displacement from the actual pirates of the Caribbean! Talk about the precession of simulacra, as the Old Baudleroo would put it. But it doesn't end there. This summer, the attractions in both Anaheim and Orlando will reopen after short breaks of a few months of refurbishing. And the new attractions will feature characters from the films, including Jack Sparrow and Barbarossa.

If you can keep track of the reality displacement in that, you're a better postmodernist than I am. But this does all act as an anecdotal explanation of the development of simulacra, and perhaps even the precession of simulacra, which is more than the OB ever does.

This weekend, after we get the little trooper, I hope to record S&S. I'll include this material, but I thought I'd write it out here anyhow, just for the fun of it. And it is fun. If you don't get a kick out of it, then don't bother taking up cultural studies any time in the near future.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I have no idea what I'm doing

I knew this before this morning, but as I stumbled around this morning with xml errors (after yesterday's slapdown from the scionette, who chided me for the lack of css on the podcast page, which she's now corrected, q.v.) I realized I have no idea what, exactly, xml is, or how it works. I mean, I know that we're RSSing stuff hither and back again, but I looked at the nostrum.xml in Safari, Explorer and Netscape, and saw three different outputs (once it was working, that is, which leads me to believe I may only think it's working -- only iTunes will tell, when they run their RSS next). Jeesh. I had just posted #3 of Nostrum, which started this whole mess; instead of FTPing, I just uploaded it, and IX, the host, added a garbage character at the top and all hell broke loose until I finally found the offending wingding and deleted it.


From now on, assuming that this works, I will FTP at home like a good old member of the Legion of Doom, and leave the funny business to the WTFers. Who am I kidding, putting an xml link on the podcast page? (I need CLG to stop gallivanting and start doing some real programming!)

In any case, I'm getting the hang of this recording stuff, although I realize I haven't gotten into any true acting. I used to read to the aforementioned scionette when she was in knee pants, and got quite a kick out of it, especially the Oz books. We had gotten past Ruth P T by the time Kt decided to go read things on her own. (We'd even ventured into Copperfield by then, which really cracked me up at the time -- gotta love those Murdstones!) I used all sorts of voices to read the Oz stuff, and Kt, being about 7 at the time, didn't yet recognize bad imitations of W.C. Fields and Mae West and the like, the voices familiar to me growing up, so it worked fine. Any famous, imitable voice I could think of, I put in. Humphrey Bogart. James Cagney. James Stewart. Cary Grant. The ones I could marginally imitate, in other words, as could anyone my age given the opportunity. But I don't think that will work in Nostrum. First of all, should Tarnish Jutmoll sound like Jimmy Cagney or Marlon Brando? Tough call. I read something this morning about Jim Dale doing the Harry P books, and, well, I'm just not Jim Dale. So I'll stick to a plainer read, I guess, unless I get inspirited somewhere along the line to do elsewise. The Nostrumite says he's perfectly pleased with it as it is, but then again, he's not exactly a Speecho-American, so who knows?

In any case, with 3 Nostrums in the can, the next project is S&S. I blocked it out on paper last night, and should get to it over the weekend, which means it should be posted early next week after editing. Then Caveman, then God knows what as far as modern theory is concerned. I've got quite the library of pomo and cultural studies stuff at home. Any suggestions?

And, oh yeah, two more days till the Little Trooper comes home. Pip the Wondercat is all atwitter. I just hope he realizes that the Trooper is meant as companionship, and not dinner.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Project X

Well, it's simple enough. Go to the new podcast page on my website and it's clear as day. (There's also a new tag over on the right.) First of all, there will be, as promised, occasional lectures that don't fit into the normal Sailors experience. The first one is already up, a basic treatise on business. It's not that exciting, but it's useful enough in its way. If nothing else, I got a chance to practice making recordings. It's a little less in quality than I eventually came up with, but I did learn the basics when all was said and done. Next, there will be a unit on Baudrillard, plus a revisiting of Caveman. Other modern folk will follow. I'll announce them here as they are posted.

Additionally, there are performances of Nostrum. Egads! says you? Egads indeed. I have worked it out with the Mite, who was quite happy to see (or hear) that the old material would be made available to a new generation of forensicians. To make life as simple as possible, the episodes will be made available for subscription through iTunes; the first two are already up. (I am so pleased with myself for making this happen.) More will follow, as I get them recorded. It takes longer than you think, but I'm happy to report that, while they're not exactly Olivier, they're not terrible. If you are new to Nostrum, please do start at the beginning. That's where Jules and the Mite started. This epic has maybe a little more complexity than War and Peace, so once you sign up, prepare to go for the long haul.

And that is Project X.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Legion of Doom

That's Bietz's name for the LDEP, which is every bit as appropriate as for its countermelody (also known herein as WTF, DMV, PCP, PCB, LSD, BVDs, Defeat Longjohns and The First Refuge of the Debate Scoundrel). Our story is interesting. To recap, this august Legion formed last year, promising a clean sweep of the augean stables of Lincoln-Douglas. When nothing happened, I started annoying them about what they planned to do, if anything, which started a general roil of commentary therefrom. To be honest, I still maintain a bit of agnosticism about the whole business; if you look back at my original posts here, I kept wondering if the problems that people were perceiving weren't simply the latest phase in the life of LD rather than the final death throes. But nonetheless the prominence of kept burning as a self-determined beacon of progressive leadership, regardless of whether that leadership was earned or indeed real. That is, plenty of people gained apparent prominence by being featured on this site, which is the only site of note on the subject, and those people were mostly seeming to propose styles and content of LD to which people over at the Legion of Doom were, to some degree or another, opposed. Regardless of whether YouKnowWho truly was representative of the thrust of LD as a whole, it *seemed* to be speaking for LD as a whole, and setting itself up as the voice of LD. The theory would be that the average debater in Guam would want to emulate the regular celebrants noted on YouKnowWho. The lure of celebrity, so to speak. Is it true? Maybe, at least for some of the Guamians, anyhow.

In the recent thread about the Legion on WTF, there was a quick passing reference that I think is indicative of something worth thinking about, that WTF's voices represented a national circuit, juxtaposed against an unspecified set of local circuits (theoretically represented by the Legion, although that is neither here nor there at the moment). I'm interested in that idea. Is there a general widepread local circuit as opposed to the vocal albeit small national circuit? This may very well be the case. It may very well be true that, while the average Guamian debater would like very much to travel around the mainland visiting the dozen or so venues of debate recognized by the TOC and thus deemed National $ircuit, and get his or her picture posted by O'C holding the top award while hugging the soon-to-be-annihilated opponent (O'C always takes those pictures *before* the final round, so that the two gladiators will both look happy, as compared to the *after" moment, when one of them looks like the cream-licking cat and the other one looks like Bette Davis telling everyone to fasten their seatbelts because it's going to be a bumpy night), in fact, said Guamian knows perfectly well that he or she is never getting past the Agana High Memorial. And further, if my own comprehension of what is being discussed on WTF is any indication, my guess is that, while our Guamian might have some interest in the trends and techniques and styles du jour (narratives, pomos and CTs, theory), reading about it there makes it seem pretty incomprehensible. What's an avant garde Guamian to do? Try to follow up on some of the reading that's mentioned, probably, but mostly go on debating other Guamians at Agana High, and arguing the resolution in an obvious way, and being perfectly happy.

Makes me want to move to Guam.

I'm especially taken by the idea of what the burdens are on a given side. One can make much of this, and certainly many do, both at the Legion and at WTF, but this one (i.e., me) sees it fairly simply. Here's a statement: Doing figgle-figgle is good. If I affirm this statement, I will make a case that doing figgle-figgle is good. If I negate this statement, I will make a case that figgle-figgle is not good. In other words, clear logic, clear language. Anything beyond that is a lot of, well, figgle-figgle.

I've pretty much abandoned reading the WTF posts on the Legion for now. I had suggested there that action might be required, but no one seemed interested. I had said the same thing to the Legion, and they got crackin' and came up with the Guidelines. Apparently the Legion will be meeting in Texas during finals to confab. No doubt the doyens of WTF will be meeting at TOC and similarly confabbing. If the result is a continuing dialogue, or lo, a dialectic, we'll be in good shape. If the whole thing disintegrates into name-calling, we'll be right back where we started. Personally, if things don't work out, I'll blame the Legion. They're the so-called grownups. They're the ones getting paid to do this. If they take charge and move intelligently, good things will come of this (the apparently pseudonymous Daryn Paciotti makes this point well on a recent Legion post). It's all up to them.

(And yes, I had to look it up. I knew of no towns in Guam. Agana is the only one big enough to make it to my Reader's Digest Illustrated Great World Atlas. By now they've probably changed the name of the place to George W. Bushville, for all I know.)

(And, coming tomorrow: Brace yourself. It's Project X.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Three weeks later

It's hard to believe that it's been a mere three weeks since my last tournament. It feels like a hundred years. It takes a while to decide what to do with oneself when the season ends. Some folks think that the season should be much shorter, and they're probably right. Why sell your soul to debate? Does it really pay back all that much?

I kept away from most things forensic over the weekend, what with golf and Easter and poker. Project X is nearing launch, however; with luck, it will go out this Wednesday. I'm also almost ready to get S&S down; one amusing thing about people running modern theorists is that they presumably expect us to believe that they've read this stuff. Get real! If you've actually read all of S&S, prove it. Of all of any of a Derrida. Or a Lyotard. At best you've dived in and allowed this stuff to wash over you, but that's about it. Could there be a relationship between the conflicting academic interpretations of the material and the material's obtuseness? Ya think?

I gave up and got a full-fledged FTP program, by the way. I know I already sang the widget praises and warbled the Apple Paean and everything, but full-fledged does so much more so easily, I couldn't resist. If you need to manage a website, using the host's tools is a mug's game, I guess. Live and learn. Now I'm sorting through XML, so that I can allow RSS, but trying to do this stuff by guess and by golly is another mug's game. With luck, it'll eventually do what I want it to do, but not quite yet...

There's definitely a chez tomorrow night, prepping for the NFARR (which looks like the name of a villain in a Disney film). They are definitely running the CatNats topic, which is no doubt good for some people, much of a muchness for everyone else (who isn't going to CatNats). Not that Catholic topics are all that great -- they're usually worded by people who have heard of LD but never encountered it in the wild -- but it's there, and there you are.

And finally, we're picking up the LIttle Trooper on Saturday. Pip is enjoying his last few days of solitude, which I'm sure some day he'll look back on fondly as the Golden Age.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hell is error messages from Safari

I can't update my Netflix queue. I can't explain to Bietz why the day I IM is the day I give up. I'm even not sure if I'll be able to save this entry. Tough times at office, eh? And you call this a "good" Friday?

Project X, to give it a name, continues apace. I have referred, I think, to some work I'm doing on the podcast front that I'm not ready to talk about yet, but at least I'm now ready to identify it. I'm committed to it. (There's a little message down below as I type this that we can't connect to the blog server. Great.) I think that last night I identified the issue with muddy sound in recordings. The first track is clear as a bell. Additional tracks in the same file sound like froggy plucking his magic twanger. So, do one track per file and cut and paste tracks together to make a final. I can live with that. More testing today to make sure.

What I'd like to do is come up with some music. I was listening to the radio this morning and these people seemed to have background and intro music for everything. The weather? Dah dah dah DING! The news? Dah dah dah, dah dah dah. The traffic? La la, la la. I could write something myself and record in on the old Yamaha; I mean, I have this extraordinarily expensive electric pie-annie in the living room that has a USB just waiting to be plugged in. I even bought Little E partially on the premise that I'd use GarageBand for just that. But that would mean actually composing some music, which I haven't done in about 20 years, mostly because it's too much work. Not that I shy away from work, but there is the old so-many-hours-in-the-day thing to worry about. Project X could definitely use some theme music, though. I'll think about it.

I did clean up the muddy sound of the business lecture last night, and I'm ready to upload it as final. I'll probably do Caveman as a series, too, since it's so crucial to the understanding of S&S. I'm beginning to think that I may become the pomo center of the podcasting universe, which is just too scary for words, especially if you believe in postmodernism. (I understand that Barrie was going to use just that in Peter Pan when Tinkerbell is dying -- i.e., "Clap if you believe in postmodernism" -- but preview audiences just sat there on their hands, and he figured the fairy business was a better idea altogether.)

I haven't gone back to YouKnowWhereDotCom since my second post, but I was honestly pleased that the level of discourse was high and meaningful, for the most part people explaining themselves with courtesy and trying to understand each other. I'll probably drop by tomorrow, at which point things will have settled down. There is a big issue here. LDEP is no doubt going to do something, to try to affect some change. They represent certain interests. WTF represents other interests, to wit, the national circuit (which should not be construed as all debaters, but just a certain subset of debaters). Someone has posited casually that this was a conflict of regional versus national debate, which is interesting but which I don't think quite pins it down. The point is, if actions are going to be taken that are intended to be beneficial for the activity, they bloody well better BE beneficial, and the discourse could help assure that. Or make it impossible. I'm hoping for the former.

Anyhow, I'm about to save. If you're reading this, it worked. If you're not reading this, why am I typing it?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Move your electrons, bub!

Moving your electrons is, more or less, the advice Apple gives for preserving battery life in its various devices. If you want your Nano or Little Elvis to play at great lengths when not plugged in, you need to drain it every month or so. So I've been moving a lot of electrons lately, draining everything in site, including the PDA, Grandpod and my digital camera. And my brain.

This whole recording thing has been sucking me in big time. I finally learned why my hosting service wouldn't upload my files (too big), so I spent about an hour looking at various FTP programs for $, until I found a widget on the Apple site that claimed it would do everything I needed for no $. Thanks to the great difficulty of loading and getting software to work on Little Elvis (that was irony), about two minutes later I had FTP'd a 40 meg file to my site, and I was happy as a clam salesman. My issue now is a certain muddiness in recording. There's a way of fixing it, sort of, but the thing is, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't, and I can't figure out why. Much more reading to do of the FM, obviously. And scouring the web for user reports. Since my brain has been drained, there's lots of room for this stuff now.

There also needs to be room for, jeesh, Beaubourg. You'd think that someone tied the Old Baudleroo up and hung him from the rafters, the way he complains about the joint. And try to figure out why he's complaining! Oy. I mean, when I was there I pretty much loved the view and hated the art (lots of piles of dirt on the floor, so to speak) but I sort of got a kick out of the concept of exoskeleton. But back then I didn't give it a lot of thought. Besides, I had just walked through Les Halles and felt that I needed to tell Dante he'd missed a circle. Oh, well, further study will fit into my ongoing architectural explorations. I should have an opinion of some sort when I'm done... I'm thinking that the Old Baudleroo is going to force me into a series of random recordings rather than one overall lecture, just as he himself is, and I'm being kind here, random. I'm going to have to squeeze a lot of things in there. I hope you've been reading your copy of S&S along with me. I find that about one essay a day is enough. One really does want to play a challenge round of Find the Premise, but the OB just doesn't seem to care. Love me, love my assertions.

I guess that I'll have to wade back into WTF and see what responses, if any, I generated yesterday. No doubt by now I have managed to assure being blocked not only by everyone at TOC, but also at CatNats and NFL, neither of which I'm attending. But I do believe that there is a need for dialogue, obviously.The WTFers seem to think they hold the magic of debate as it ought to be in the modern age, while the LDEPers seem to think that they are in possession of the holy grail and that the code of the Templars does not allow heretics to even view it. These are not the real sides of the issue, but they are beginning to stand for those real sides. (Shades of the OB!) Normally the dialectic would work fine, but for some reason the two sides seem to not be particularly fond of each other. Maybe we can sort it out at TOC. Set up some kind of gladiatorial contest somewhere. Christians on one side, lions on the other. The only question is, who gets to be the lions?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Don't go into the house

It's like a horror movie. Don't go in there! Only bad things will happen.

I really don't read VD all that much. Life is too short to follow the meanderings of the handful of college dropouts with nothing better to do with their time than respond to every post EVAR. But, on the other hand, one ignores VD at one's peril. So I do check it to make sure that O'C hasn't posted some imaginary thing like, Should Menick be Thrown Over Niagara Falls in a Barrel? Today they were talking about the LDEP. So I posted, and I'll print the post below (since I know you never read VD yourself). My guess is that the usual suspects of LDEP won't post, and the more people complain about what LDEP is doing, the less likely LDEP affect any change. And if we are indeed going to hell in a handbasket, sitting on our hands isn't the way to solve the problem.

Yeah, once again, I get the be the crackpot. Jeesh.


[The post]

I was not aware that anyone was barred from participating in the LDEP. This comes as a surprise to me, that so many younger, active people had been turned away. This should be corrected by that august body...

To give some background, I am not on the board of LDEP. It was formed before I heard of it, and I was given literature about it last year at TOC (presumably during one of those outrounds I never see the inside of). Sounded fine to me, so I signed up. I mean, say what you will about LD, it is changing, and right before last year's TOC there was a lot of vituperation leveled against some people who had dedicated their lives to the activity, by some people who weren't old enough to vote but whose participation in this activity was directly attributable to those they were vilifying. A lot of bad feeling, little of which seems to have disappeared, if the people writing here are any indication.

There's some things missing in the equation, which I ask you to think about from my point of view, i.e., the POV of someone running tournaments at least once a month, including one TOC qualifier plus a number of intro events for younger students. Whenever I have had disciplinary issues, it has been caused by students without proper chaperoning. This does not mean that having a proper chaperone over 21 precludes high school students behaving improperly, but at least it gives me someone to bear responsibility (although, honestly, I do believe that there is a link, but I can't argue it beyond the intuitive). This is more likely at my little tournaments than at Bump, but to be honest, when I'm running any tournament I can't be bothered with disciplinary issues, so I do whatever I can to buck them up to some other adult, i.e., the ones that brung you. Few of you would do otherwise in my position -- at least not more than once.

Still, there is at the heart of the discussion something very important, and that is the content of the rounds. Issues about speed have existed since the invention of the tongue, so they don't bother me much (that is, I don't think speed is killing LD today anymore than it was killing LD ten years ago). What bothers me is a sense of irrelevance, that arguments don't really address the issues, and worse, that irrelevant arguments are becoming acceptable. You will grumble and say, who am I to say that something is relevant or irrelevant to a discussion. Well, I'm a pretty clever character who knows a lot of stuff, with about 20 or 30 debaters on my team that I bear responsibility for training. Every time there's a new topic, I get to work with them toward understanding what that topic's about, not in a debate sense but in a real world sense. What is important for them to know about, say, the issue of religion in government (SOCAS)? This is a phenomenally important issue in our time, and discourse on it could be at the cutting edge of why the US is at the end of its run as a world leader. It asks incredible questions of how theocratic nations will coexist with secular nations. It cuts to the very core of our private lives, in that if one is religious, one intrinsically must prioritize religion over all else. Yet in the two months plus TOC time last year that we had this as a topic, it was routinely trivialized, usually for competitive reasons, and the number of rounds that seriously confronted any of the possible issues was minimal. You know this as well as I do if not better, because you judged a lot more of those rounds than I did. I mean, did you really take seriously the idea that the phrase "the church" (never used in the rez) or the word "church" being construed as Christiancentric meant that you couldn't really debate the issue? If you buy these diversionary tactics as good strategy, you and I need to sit down and play chess together. For money.

But the big issue here is not what I'm calling irrelevant positions, but the effect of those positions on that little gray army of 20-30 debaters I was talking about, those faces looking up at me from the back of the room. Ranging in age from, say, 13 to 17. What would you want to talk to them about when SOCAS was released as the topic? Jefferson's letter? The 10 Commandments v. the 9 Supreme Court justices? Dubya and the religious right? Iran's and Pakistan's governments? That stuff sounded great to me. What a mind opener! What fertile ground for discussion and elucidation! What an opportunity for, dare I say it, education.

You could say that there are other ways of thinking about the resolution. You could say, for instance, as Baudrillard asserts, that the deterrance effect relegates the discourse to nonmeaning in the geopolitical arena. You could take a CT stand that the patriarchal nature of most religions precludes discourse, rendering further discussion pointless. You could do a lot of things that would be extremely clever, and do nothing to educate my little gray army.

Enter the LDEP, stage right.

As far as I know, no one on LDEP is officially arguing against use of any material, or any arguments. None of these people are dimwitted enough (I don't think) to not know that different theorists come and go in popularity and relevance, and that the discovery of new thinkers is one of the great joys of learning. What the LDEP is trying to do is figure out a way to keep the little gray armies of the world engaged and educated. If they could do this without disturbing the rather small group of vocal constituents of the national circuit, they probably would. I mean, it is curious that the people responding to this entry here are all of the national circuit and not of the little gray armies. Nor, unfortunately (at least so far) have any respondents been of the LDEP. One of the reasons for that is, if they're like me, they hate posting here because about three responses later they're attacked into oblivion, and they have neither the time nor the inclination to respond to every post, line-by-line. (Maybe it's their big-picture :-) paradigms.) But I'll throw myself to the wolves, so to speak; after all, there's only about half a dozen of you, and since I have little intention, as I say, of going round-for-round, line-by-line, I think I'll survive the opprobrium. (I enjoy making fun of this website, by the way, which I can usually only do by avoiding it, a stance you may wish to take on yourselves some day.)

Anyhow, I ask you to think of that core issue. You have a debate team, of varying ages, varying skills. What do you, as a teacher, believe you should be doing to educate them?

And if you think education is important, regardless of how you define education, and you disagree with the specifics of the LDEP, why don't you go to the LDEP and tell them how they should improve themselves, instead of hanging around in the back of the room muttering among yourselves.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Waiting for Quark

Every now and then you do something Quark doesn't like, and the program just stares at you like a novice hearing that he has to read not one but two philosophy books before Christmas. And when you try to save changes on a book you're working on, you inevitably see the rolling beachball of death spinning in front of you. What a program! Oh well, at least it gives me an opportunity to log on here.

States having come and gone, I heard from Bro John, but I'm not quite sure where things stand. I mean, I've brought up a lot of issues, but nothing has changed yet that I'm aware of. I do hope that he continues working toward change. Charlie Sloat is our regional director these days. I probably won't see Charlie again till the CFL inaugural meeting in September, and by that time there should be some indication of what's happening with the NYSFL. I'm still hopeful. States is very meaningful for those who go, but the rules being what they are, a lot of people just don't go. Adjust the rules, and things might be different. As I said to BJ, I've pretty much aired the grievances, so I'm on record with my issues. We'll just have to see what happens. They're perfectly entitled to think I'm a crackpot and go their merry way; they wouldn't be the first. They won't be the last.

Speaking of crackpottage, I completed the raw recording of Business last night, and now all I have to do is edit it down. I'm still learning my way around Audacity. I do tend to run a program first and then figure out how to work it later; I will RTFM eventually, but I don't want it to think I really need it, if you know what I mean. It spoils a program when it thinks you're sneaking a peak at the manual. One thing about Audacity is that, apprently unlike GarageBand, you can record longer than half an hour without any work-arounds. Which is good, because Business is clocking in at about 45 minutes, which is lecture length where I come from, so I'm pleased with that. I'm also continuing my exploration of S&S, but I'm at the point now where the Old Baudleroo is writing about movies, demonstrating his position as possibly the worst film critic ever to munch le mais au popped. He never really says anything, he just always caroms off ideas as if he's said something, and he dares you to say otherwise. He's certainly bought into McLuhan, I'll say that, and I may need to drag old Marshall into my lecture (much like Woody Allen dragging him in in Annie Hall). I may also have to toss in the semiotics stuff the OB takes for granted, at least if anyone is going to make any sense of this material. I'll be glad to move on from the OB into something a little more coherent, or put another way, something a little less French. In aid of all of this I've been etching out a little web page for the MenickCasts, and as soon as there's something to put on it, I'll roll it out. As I think I've hinted, there will be a surprise there too. I think you'll like it. (Except for you, you spalpeen, and you know who your are, but then again, I can't imagine why you're reading this so late in the season. What ideas are you expecting to steal for your cases now, pray tell? Shouldn't you be off trolling MySpace?)

Back to Quark...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Will States change? Will DMV change? Will Scarsdale change?

From the sounds of things, this years States was about the same as always. Will they ever do anything to improve things? 5 real rounds, for instance? Do nothing else but that, and they've done something good. Only time will tell. All my complaints are, as far as I'm concerned, still on the table.

Has anyone been to the EMT site lately? When I said that it had become fairly unaccessible after its latest upgrade, I wasn't just whistling Glory Glory Hallujah. I can't make tails nor tails of it anymore. Mostly there's pictures of people from the Guam district holding their trophies and each other in carnal embrace, plus all kinds of collateral advertising filling up the screen, and once in a while, O'C, not being in Guam, posts some imaginary piece like, What Are You Doing to Celebrate Festivus This Year? Not that I have anything against imaginary pieces, mind you: my favorite Superman stories when I was a kid were the imaginary tales, where Clark and Lois get married and move to Scarsdale and raise girl debaters. But me mums always taught me, if you've got nothing to say, don't say it. A little dead air won't kill 'em.

Scarsdale, by the way, for anyone who reads the Sunday Times Westchester section and can tell the difference between boys and girls, has something of a short-term memory issue. Maybe JoVan bans girls from the team, but back in the olden days, you couldn't swing a cat anywhere in the city without hitting half a dozen debaters of the female persuasion with their armfuls of trophies in carnal embrace. Oh, well. The paper got the rest of it right. That's something to be thankful for.

I managed to do a whole bunch of work on Menickcasts over the weekend. Halfway through Business. Started the Old Baudleroo. Even came up with a swell idea for the future. (Why doesn't anyone say "swell" anymore, anyhow? Should I say I came up with a boss idea (dead on arrival in 1965). Cool (always acceptable but a little too classic to encompass fleet and swift timeliness)? Def (yeah, right)?) Anyhow, I'll collect the material and get it organized over the next few weeks. There's obviously no need to rush, given that the debate year is about over, and business won't matter much to the team at this point since I just gave the lecture in person. And the Old Baudleroo isn't going anywhere. And I need to get some momentum on l'idee swell (as the Frenchies say).

Speaking of the Montrose Salts, I will collect the odd gob to plan for the NFA RR (on the CatNats topic), and then we'll need to attack the Pffft National topic. So there's chezzes in the Jolly Tar future, but the post-whimper weeks will mostly be concentrated stuff where I don't have to leave the house. I can live with that, no problemo.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Traveling companions

So who would you want to go to WDW with? O'C, chasing down every autograph from Minnie to the guy emptying the trash behind the Tomorrowland pizza joint, or Baudrillard, who thinks the only real part is, well, the trash?

Update on Little Trooper.

He's the dark one toward the middle.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I've been calling the recording program Audition. It's Audacity. I stand corrected, now that I've actually played around with it. I plugged in the mic and did Apple's input level stuff, then did a few recording tests. You've got to watch out for certain sounds sounding like bumps (Ps and Ts, for example) and you've got to watch volume levels, but a little trial and error pointing the microphone here and talking there, and next thing you know, you've got liftoff. After about half an hour I had managed to record, edit, save as an mp3, and generally feel enormously satisfied with myself. The big question, given the probable size of these files, is hosting. I figured how to get them on my site (not as easy as that sounds, because mp3s aren't a natural upload, presumably because they don't want anyone P2Ping Celine Dion unless they first figure out how to set the MIME controls in Linux, a wise choice on their part, no doubt, if they're trying to exclude Grandma Moses—this wasn't exactly the riddle of the sphinx). But is my site the best place? I also found a podcast hosting site, so I'll study that too. In any case, now it's just a matter of doing it. I should have Business up in a week or so. Apres that, le deluge (S&S).

And here's the deal. You would appreciate the Baud more if he got his facts straight. You're dueling Disneys with a master here, mon-see-ure. The man was cremated. Cooked. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. There is no Walt Disney corpsicle waiting to be defrosted on the date Mickey enters the public domain or whenever. You can forgive Baudie the Tasaday, though, because they weren't exposed until after S&S was published. Still, how much faith can you have in a "philosopher" whose premises are not only dimly coherent at best, but often based on dis- or misinformation? Anyhow, he seems to feel that the parking lot is the best part of Disneyland, in that pomo way of his. I guess he just found the line for Space Mountain too long. Or maybe he just couldn't get Minnie's signature in his autograph book.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

As the poet wrote, "with a whimper"

It's T. S. Eliot week here, apparently, what with the naming of cats and the shipping of the hollow men (and Emily) off to States. But so it went. Last night was the final official meeting, and there were no teary-eyed bon voyages on the deck, no valedictory speeches to the multitudes, no gold watches. Just a question, "So this is it then?" and a few murmured Thank Gods, and that was that.

It's lonely at the chez.

Anyhow, having gotten rid of these sprouts, I watched a little TV and then began attacking S&S again. Great Googly-Moogly! I had to read every word five times, including the thes and the ands. The problem with this material is that it's sort of meant to flow over you like an air current, and the reason you fly is because the air pushes down on the wings, not because it pushes up from under as you'd expect. Or maybe you're supposed to swim in it, and the knowledge you accrue is the wetness that remains when you step out of the water, an accumulation of random drops that adds up, somehow, to not being dry. No wonder no one wanted to hear a lecture about it, if I expected them to read it first. The affect on their brains would be similar to mad cow, only faster acting. Still, I expect if you find the right metaphoric, narrative medium to present the concepts, it won't be so bad. Think Disney, my lad. Except I have a hard time believing that Disney is lacking in the referential. Some reading I've done about the Baud posits the idea that pretty much everything he says in S&S is disproven, although that implies that the Baud in fact proved something in the first place, which is a dubious proposition at best—he more like circles around ideas rather than offering logical proofs. Whatever. It's easy to see why this material informs The Matrix, since that gets "covered" right off the bat in the third paragraph and you don't have to read any further to go off and make a really good movie and two really lousy sequels. If reality is truly the collection of selected ambient meaning-free building blocks, all you need is a spiffy black rain coat and you've got a hit on your hands.

Still, none of this deterred me from discovering the alternate reality of a certain blog now prominently displayed on the right. Since I had to dig it up myself, rather than having it pointed out to me, I draw a tad of nasty pleasure over finding it in, well, the matrix. Give me ten minutes and an Internet connection, and I guarantee I'll get you the meaning of the universe, a good cup of coffee, and the middle name of the character played by Bob Denver on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

It's a gift.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I spoke too soon

Well, Ripon did find a mistake. A big one, where we added the numbers wrong, and the result is a flip-flop of qualifier and alternate. If that doesn't make you feel crappy, nothing will, although my feelings won't come close to the poor guy who's gotten bumped off. All I can do is put in tighter controls for next year (I'll computerize the final round process), if they don't run me out of the chairmanship on a rail.


This really is a season of forensic disappointments. JWP has just sent out a broadcast message announcing that he wouldn't be selling tee shirts this year at TOC unless there was a sudden vocal outpouring of demand. For those who have never been to TOCs, most of the tournament is devoted to tee shirt sales. In fact, there used to be an assembly on Sunday just to sell these wonderful shirts. I'll miss that one, let me tell you. I'll miss being hounded by shirt salesmen all weekend, for that matter, everywhere from picking up your ballots (like I'll do much of that) to hiding in the ladies room when you spot JWP coming around the corner with shopping bags overflowing in each hand. Tee shirt sales are always a bum deal, as JWP's message attests, although fundraising mavens are always suggesting them. But if people won't even buy a tee shirt to commemorate their TOC accomplishments, it's hard to imagine them buying one to honor showing up at, say, the Unseasonbly Warm CFL. I feel bad for JWP, though. He also used to sell CDs of his latest hip hop faves and heavy metal hits, but the digitalization of music has no doubt pulled the rug out from under him on that too. TOCs is probably going to go broke as a result.


I did manage to revise BizMan last night, if you've been following the progress of same, and I'm ready to attack the recording, probably tomorrow, since tonight is the final official chez (although there will probably be the odd set-to over the Nats Pffft topic and the NFA RR). I also need to clean the damned place up: there's NFL debris everywhere, and it's time to pack it up till next March (or for the next chairman). For that matter, I've cleared the decks for S&S, which I'll start prepping up on this week. The lecture should come with a free trip to Disney World, but that probably won't happen. I am beginning to plan a real WDW trip, however, for next year. My big hope is beating O'C at the princess trivia contest. I mean, if you don't establish a goal, what's the point in going?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

NFL, Seagrams, Parrish Island, Bo Diddley, and Were You Not to Ko-Ko Plighted

So far I haven't heard anything from NFL that I screwed up too much, except that I listed 22 people in attendance in one congress house and 2 in the other congress house. So much for typing in results; the congress pdf was the only one I didn't scrawl in my usual chicken scratch. Meanwhile I've put together the ad for the tournament program, using good old Rocket Thrower as the image. I mean, it is vaguely New Yorkish, even if it is located in Flushing. The Fairs just say New York to me, not just New York City. You would prefer the Albany Egg? Maybe next year. (Speaking of architecture, we spent Saturday moseying around the city staring at things like the Seagrams building and Lever across the street. So much more illuminating than, say, an MHL...)

I've given up on the idea of doing a live lecture on S&S, due to lack of interest, but I'm beginning to conceive of a series of MenickCasts on that and a bunch of other things. Since I don't hold my nose over pomo cases per se, but over incomprehensible cases of any stripe, it might be fun to present some deep-tier material for those who are interested, without taking time away from basic training. I mean, there's boot camp and then there's OCS. Or POMO-CS, I guess. Whatever. It's still just a glimmer, but it is in the hopper.

Emily claims to know where the bodies are buried, or at least where the elusive travel forms are buried, and I've sent Robert the Engineer on the hunt. It would be nice to send people to Albany with the right form. Plato would appreciate that, at least.

Discussion has begun on the naming of cats. Or more specifically, the naming of the little trooper. Unfortunately the discussion quickly veered into what role Bruce Lee played on television, and I knew it was Kato (although originally I was thinking Koto, but never Cato or Koko), but I also figured it was either Green Arrow or Green Lantern. I was quite the Green Lantern fan in my youth; that whole ring thing worked for me, but I certainly couldn't remember Bruce Lee chauffeuring Green Lantern around. I mean, what would be the point of driving a guy who could fly? And Green Arrow? Well, he always was a bargain-basement hero, and he certainly never had a TV show, plus I vaguely remembered him having some other young lad sidekick (although Robin Quivers or Bo Diddley would, homophonically in the latter case, be perfect). Anyhow, Kt found it the second she got to IMDB (we need to have IMDB chips implanted in our brains to save wear and tear on our typing fingers). So I was half right, and at least I got the Kato part right. So, should we call the little trooper Kato? Liz is pushing Rajah for some reason, but he's Siamese and they never had any rajahs so I don't get it. Pip, meanwhile, is unusually active these days, running around like crazy, apparently getting in shape for what will be, to him, the deluge. April 22. Mark your calendars. The Little Trooper will be making his triumphant march into Cortlandt.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ship 'em off to States

So I put together this elaborate schematic of who's going where and how on Friday, and sent it off to both the debate and Speecho-American listservers, plus a different version to the school. There's this whole song and dance about kids driving with someone else that has to be adjudicated, but I think I've covered all the bases. According to the Schoolboard Super, there's a form for such gallivanting, but when we sent our crack hardware engineer into the high school to find it he came up emptyhanded. No one had ever heard of such a thing, although they did, of course, expect us to hand it in a week in advance.

I love high school.

The Biz lecture is completed. Now all I have to do is record it. The microphone is still in the box, but I've downloaded the html manual for Audition, which seems to run fine on Little Elvis, so I'm ready to go. The first thing they say is to buy a better microphone, but I'll get around to that at some future date.

I've got a number of people signed up for the NFA RR, but the New Burgers are a little less than lightening-fast at answering emails, so I'm not quite sure how many we can send, or even what the topic is. But at least we've got 3 judges, so assuming I'll send one novice and one jayveer, we're more than set. As soon as I find out when to arrive and how much it's going to cost, that is. And if there's mini-golf. You might be of the paintball persuasion, but if you look up mini-golf in the dictionary they've got my picture.

I looked at all the novice cases, and made some comments, and saw some revises in the box, so things are progressing on that front. Because of the band concert Tuesday (Jolly Tar forensicians have always been inexplicably yet inevitably as attracted to Sousaphones as they are to Kant), we're having the ship-off chez on Wednesday. After that, they're on their own.

Maybe I should point them to the Albany venue song on the TMBG website to sort of get them in the mood.