Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Pups 08

There are two things going on at every debate tournament. One thing is the debating. And since the debating by any particular individual is, at most, half of the actual time of the tournament because of double-flighting and general waiting around, the other thing going on is everything else. Depending on how skewed your vision of the world is, one of these two things is seriously more important than the other one. We here at Coachean HQ will let you decide for yourself where our skew is pointing.

Beginning our weekend, we listened to David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster” on the ride up to New Haven. I had read the story when it came out in Gourmet, so I knew what to expect, but I think the Sailors were a little taken aback as Wallace, who narrates his own story, went all the way from ligh, humorous travel writing to Peter Singer, complete with all the footnotes in a lower voice. On my own yesterday I listened to another piece on 9/11. And I’m beginning to realize how profound a loss DFW is.

Our little troupe was staying at the Clarion, which was fairly far from the campus but had a shuttle, which meant that I could travel on my own at the cracks of various dawns without worrying about the team. GOA’s mom was also with us, commanding the other vehicle. (I love people like GOA’s mom, who knows what she’s doing in a round and writes very good ballots but who speaks with an accent. There’s other folks like her on the circuit. People immediately assume that they can’t speak English whereas, in fact, they speak English, French, German, Russian, Czech, Prakrit, Klingon and a smattering of Gangsta Rap. These people are linguistic savants: all you have to do is make sense in any of these languages and you’ll pick up their ballot. What are chances of that happening? On the other hand, there are indeed a few people on the circuit who not only don’t speak English, but they also don’t speak the language of their own countries particularly well. They are another story entirely.)

Finding a parking space during any remotely peak hour around the university is a mug’s game, which means paying through the nose for a parking lot, but it’s worth it not to have to drive around endlessly in the rain on one-way streets littered with construction debris and drunken non-forensic Pups celebrating the weekend. After we got squared away Friday we headed over for lunch, and I learned that Robbie had been agonizing over either bulking up or going vegetarian, and finally gave the nod to the rutabagas, which may explain his new facial hair (Walt Whitman he ain’t). Anyhow, we hit that salad bar place with veggies aplenty (which sounds to me like a good name for something, Veggies Aplenty: a restaurant? A farm stand? A porn star?), after which the Sailors wandered off and I went over and started doing my job. Tab Friday was a few buildings down from SSS, whatever the hell that stands for. We were with Sheryl, who was masterfully handling policy (faster than we were, grrrrrr!). On this day we were of a single mind, to get ourselves free at around 8:00 to go over to dinner. And we did, ambling over to Scoozi for a little pasta. It is nice to get away from things when one can. Once a round is running, provided you’ve got a cell phone and don’t venture too far, why not take a break? We’d been working for hours while everyone else was soaking up the rainy splendor of beautiful downtown New Haven. We were just evening things out. And by the time we got all the ballots in after round two and I got myself back to the Clarion, it was after midnight, so don’t think it was all fun and games.

I woke up at 5:30, much to my dismay, but what can you do, so I got up and hit the road. I was driving around the campus looking for a nice cup of coffee and maybe the odd croissant, and every single possible venue was locked up tighter than the proverbial bongo. What kind of godforsaken town doesn’t sell coffee early on a Saturday morning, I asked myself. Oh, says I. A college town. Duh. Fortunately, as I said yesterday, the Pups arrived at Hell House with coffee coming out of every appendage, so I didn’t have to suffer long.

Saturday went well enough, aside from a couple of things, like our inability to get the best access rooms straight. We screwed it up once, for round three, and Zucker masterfully threw bunches of people around, and all was fixed, and I bent over the computer and solved the problem, which was that I had assigned all the best access rooms to varsity. For round four, we had a best access room carefully selected, and lo and behold, it was the tab room, so Zucker masterfully threw bunches of people around, and all was fixed, and I bent over the computer and solved the problem, again. For round five, we had a best access room carefully selected, and lo and behold, this time it was the cafeteria, so Zucker masterfully threw bunches of people around, and all was fixed, and I bent over the computer and solved the problem, again. If we have any more rounds tomorrow, I am ready for them (provided Zucker is hovering nearby, just in case).

We did have printer issues, and one of them was classic. For whatever reason, the paper wasn’t feeding without some occasional nudging on our part, which was annoying but not terrible. And then we had a serious paper jam, but we fixed it. Then there was almost immediately thereafter another serious paper jam, and we couldn’t figure it for the life of us. We tried everything, and saw nothing as we pulled and tugged and poked. Finally, after picking the damned thing up and tossing it around a little and turning it on and off, it got the message, or so we thought, and went back to business. We were printing schematics, and a schematic came out of the printer.

A policy schematic.

We all immediately—slowly and carefully—moved away from the machine. The gods were sending us a message. A policy schematic? This was absolutely impossible. We were about to send Zucker out for holy water and incense when we realized that our problem had been a policy schematic that had gotten jammed into the system the previous night when Kaz had used the printer for her division. This particular piece of paper had been lying in wait for just the right moment to show itself and scare the crap out of all of us. I have to admit, this was one of the strangest moments ever in tab; not since “96 debaters unscheduled” have we come so close to simply packing up and going home.

We could have, if we were so inclined, kept people locked up at Hell House way into the evening and held the varsity doubles round, but that would have meant that they would have gotten out at around nine and we’d still be there. As JV pointed out, people in the northeast think that they should just debate until they drop, whereas most $ircuit tournaments end in the late afternoon or early evening, allowing everyone to have a night of relaxation, good food, whatever. Considering that pairing doubles took about an hour, this also meant that the tab room got a night of, well, relative relaxation, plus, eventually, good food. After we got the list of breakers posted and the panels selected and the ballots printed, at around 9:00, we trundled over to Ibiza for some serious Spanish food and general tabbish hoo-ha. Sheryl and CP and Chavez joined us, and we all compared notes and told tales and a swell time was had by all, and I was back in my room asleep no later than 12:30 a.m. with a 6:00 alarm. But at least none of us were frazzled, just tired.

There’s worse things, I assure you.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pups 08

So, sez you, how was Yale? At the risk of jinxing it for all time, it was pretty good.

We got the Friday schematics and ballots over to the assembled multitudes at the round one start time, which means a few minutes late, but mostly this was because we weren’t in the same building as registration, and changes took a few minutes to get to us. Plus, there were strikes to enter. (NOTE TO WHOEVER YOU ARE: When you fill out a sheet for your team strikes, as a general rule, entering the name of your team on the sheet is what you might call helpful to the tab staff.) As always, rooms were at a premium Friday night, and debaters were scattered to the four winds, but there were no bizarre incidents, space was found for everyone, and round two went off roughly on time and got back roughly on time, and there you were. We did have to impress (the second definition in Web) a few myrmidons (including the legendary Michael known to one and all by his last name, which isn’t Michael, which meant that when we addressed him, he didn’t know that we were talking to him. Of course, I kept calling him Richard, but at least this one time my dysnomia wasn’t the issue it usually was. At the point we found out his last name was Zucker, none of us ever had a problem again. Zucker is just that kind of name.)

Day two was, as last year, at Hell House High School, which is the size of downtown Minneapolis. I was there a tad early, but let out an appropriate sigh of relief when the Pups arrived in force at 7:15, driving camel after camel laden with hot coffee and doughnuts. We set up in our tabroom venue of last year (where anorexia and latose [sic] intolerance are listed as grooming issues) and let the games begin. We put out Varsity first, with JV hot on its heels. For the most part we kept the judging pools separate, but it was nice to be able to push varsity judges on JV ballots occasionally. Of course, when you’re isolated as we were, with nowhere for judges to drift off to, pushing isn’t much of an issue. On the other hand, this particular tournament did seem to reach a high tide mark in vomitage. If one person wasn’t spewing, another one was. A few people demurred from attending rounds as a result, but the general consensus among the hurlers was damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. It was like a really bad Gallagher concert. JV and I stayed in tab with the door locked, letting in only good old Zucker and assorted other Pups (e.g., Jeff, Pam, James, Shaina—if you know who these people are, you know the tournament management was in excellent hands).

From a debating point of view, tabbing was joyful. Every down-two round had an A judge. Every down-one round had an A judge. After round three, every undefeated had an A judge (round three just has two many downers, to wit, everyone who isn’t undefeated, and unless a pool is all A judges, you’ve got to move down a bit on the food chain). Anyone who wants to complain about the judging at Yale should found their own Ivy League college and give it a try for themselves. Unless, of course, you’re an A judge, which meant that we worked your little tail off. But you were there to judge, not to sit around in the judges’ lounge playing tiddlywinks (which the Sailors had no idea what it was, by the way, when the subject was broached at lunch Friday; they’ve obviously had deprived childhoods).

NOTE: If you strike in varsity, you get a runoff of that same strike in JV. If the problem is a school conflict, fine, but if the problem is a preference issue, not so fine. There is no reason why JVers can’t be thrown to the sharks. We need to figure out a way around this in the future (short of creating entirely separate divisions, which can easily be done but which may not make sense for registration purposes). At Bump I have created totally different pools with unique obligations, so that won’t be an issue. NOTE SOME MORE: I can’t find a way to mark judges as needing best-venue rooms, but then again, even with marking this for contestants, we managed to find a different way to screw up AE’s rounds one right after the other; we were very creative that way.

Day three was back on campus, and at least the day was occasionally dry, as compared to the rains of Friday and Saturday. At this point we were running only breaks, and we just moved the hell out of them, and we managed to finish before the awards ceremony; JV is good at keeping people from dithering when they should be judging/debating. I think we continued to keep excellent panels all the way through, which I point out not as some tribute to our tabbing skills but as a reflection of the high quality of the pool in general. Some very good hires, some very good coaches, all that sort of thing. It was something like 142 people in the field, if I remember correctly, plus about a hundred JVers. And this time we had good old Zucker (and a bunch of other Pups) double-checking the rounds in a timely manner, so we (I hope) minimized tab error.

All in all, a good weekend on the technical side. Tomorrow, most likely, we’ll talk about some other stuff, like the food.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Will the stormy clouds chase / everyone from the place?

I have pulled my galoshes out of the closet for the Pups tomorrow. The weather sounds less than promising, at least for the ride up and much of Saturday. You’d think the Ivy League could do better in the meteorological department. I thought these guys were supposed to be smart, perfect SATs and all that. No doubt if I were to raise the issue they would simply blame noted alum G. W. Bush and move on. I know that’s what I would do. Anyhow, I’ve got the data on Little Elvis, although I didn’t sort out the judges yet; there’s all sorts of quibbling (“Can’t judge Round 47—appt with proctologist,” that sort of thing) that needs to be sorted out, but I figure I can do that tomorrow while registration is going on. If you’re going I would advise you to bring an umbrella.

So I was thinking about the evolution of LD, which isn’t really evolution at all, or at maybe more to the point, it’s not what you would call progress, even though it is change. Evolution isn’t progress either, of course; it too is just change. Some changes are good and lead to species prosperity, and some changes are not so good and lead to extinction. Witness the fact that most species that have existed on this planet are now extinct (well, I think it’s a fact, and it should be even if it isn’t). Teleology doesn’t seem to be the underlying operator, unless teleology includes planned obsolescence. Of course, some changes are progress neutral: they’re just changes. A lot of the changes to LD seem to be of the progress-neutral persuasion.

In the 90s we moved from the molding of arguments in what one might called Enlightenment-based philosophical constructs to a more research-based approach to resolutions. At first, one would have a card from John Locke, but then it was more likely a card from someone who was actually still alive discussing the actual topic from a real-world perspective. This was policy-influenced, of course; they had so many cards, and we had so few: Card Envy was the natural result. If policy was cool and LD wanted to be cool, it therefore should be more like policy. (I won’t comment on the logical fallacies inherent in that thinking.) More cards! More speed! A number of Sailors were notable leaders in this direction. Others bucked it. In any case, it lasted for a while, and even the topics started getting more specific and less philosophical. The market seemed to be following the consumers, an interesting idea when the consumers are students and the market is educators.

The next phase of change was the pomo-ization of content. Once again, what was cool in policy was to run kritiks and Foucault and things like that, and therefore if LD wanted to be cool… It is curious that this embracing of pomo and critical theory coincided with what seems to be the last serious gasp of this material at the university level. Academe needs to find new approaches to relatively static content: Moby-Dick doesn’t change from year to year, but the way academics teach and learn it change. (Yeah, I know, there may be a lot of assumptions in that last sentence that are intrinsically contrary to CT, but if you don’t like it, go read about Presidential politics on WTF. And I was really looking for the field report from East Westville North: “The South Will Rise Again Tuturial and Pancake Flip.”) CT and pomo came along and filled that what-do-we-do-next gap in the English departments, and the rest of us got our annual laugh reading the titles of the papers at the MLA. But all things, good or bad, come to an end, and for whatever reason (common sense?) this material isn’t so highly regarded anymore by mainstream (!) academe (which is the same as Nut City for many of us) and they’re on to newer (older) approaches, which means we won’t continue to be fed by college judges pushing this new-to-them stuff as the latest thing to the students they write cases for (or judge cases by). Another one bites the dust, in other words. And not a moment too soon.

But we are not left in the lurch. We do not have to argue the resolutions; we do not have to study the content and learn about the big issues that LD pretends to be about. Now we have “theory arguments.” Nowadays a case is constructed of, oh, 90% how to judge the round and what the burdens are and what the exceptions are. 90% of the case is devoted to explanations and more explanations, of the value and the criterion (if any, since sometimes such old-fashioned ideas are theoretic albatrosses). 90% of the way through a speech, a 1AC, you finally hear the words, “My first and only contention.” If you’re lucky, that is. Perish the thought that, in Sept-Oct, we argue the merits or lack thereof of utility or deontological beliefs. Perish the thought we consider whether we should ever in any situation allow ourselves to end the life of another human being, to question under what circumstances this may in fact not be the wrong thing to do, maybe to decide it is always wrong, or sometimes right. Perish the bloody thought that we care about right and wrong. What we need to care about is the burdens of the neg and why these burdens are unfair and therefore the neg should win not because neg argued a negative position on the content of the resolution but because neg argued that a negative position on the content, if neg had one, should win, while an affirmative position should not win. Not because of content, but because of structure. Of theory.

You know. It makes me want to read a couple of Derrida books, just to clear my head.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hi. My name is Matthew. I'll be your agent of action tonight. Can I get you something to drink?

We’re not looking all the bad novice-wise after all. Last night we had seven or eight, and most of them are signed up or almost signed up for the Yahoo group, so we’re a little above average for the year, which is very good. What I’ve noticed about this group of punks yesterday is that they seemed to disagree with everything I said, which is always a good sign. It’s not as if I know what I’m talking about all of the time; this happens just some of the time, usually when the moon is in Scorpio, Jupiter aligns with Mars, and Stephen Sondheim doesn’t have a new show in workshop mode (no doubt struggling with a problematic Act Two).

So what don’t I know that I’m talking about this time? According to “Good Old ‘Alli’,” the negative can demur from taking a position on Sept-Oct by claiming that since there is no agent of action specified, one cannot make a moral determination. Very clever. (And rather ignorant of a rather large body of ethical philosophy, but that’s beside the point.) It would seem to me that the Aff has three options. First, concede the round, because the negative has found the perfect critique of the resolution, and there you are, nothing can be done, let’s all go to the cafeteria and play Spades. The second option is to contend contrarily that the agent of action doesn’t matter in moral determinations, thus moving the debate to the negative’s ground, which, even if it’s a reasonable position, seems like less than a great strategy to me simply because that means the affirmative gives up the natural advantage it has of setting all the parameters of the debate. This is the problem with negative critiques, from the aff’s point of view: there’s that switch of control of the narrative from Aff to Neg. One would imagine that the Aff would avoid this at all costs, although if something comes out of left field (and throwing balls out of left field is the admitted purpose of critiques in the first place) you’re sort of up a tree. The third option is, if this is a common critique that is run often, to preempt it with analysis that clearly provides an agent of action or an explanation of the role (or lack thereof) of an agent of action. At the very least this keeps the debate about the content of the resolution, and not about whether the resolution is debatable in the first place. And it certainly won’t hurt if the neg doesn’t run that particular critique.

Silly me, wanting to debate the resolution. Will I never get over this? But that relates to the aff’s biggest advantage, and in today’s environment, I think, aff’s biggest weakness. Affs, who are, after all, on the other side running neg arguments half the time, many of those arguments being of this critical nature, for some reason now think the the neg has an intrinsic edge in all rounds, presumably because of neg’s ability to run critiques. But as I say, it is the first speaker who outlines the parameters of the subsequent discussion. It is the first speaker who defines the terms, and sets the stage for what happens. At the point where the Aff cedes control of these parameters, the aff is giving the round away. Aff gets the first word and the last word, yet people seem to think that neg has the advantage. Amazing. An aff who keeps the arguments on his or her side of the flow is way more likely to win than an aff who concentrates on the negative side of the flow. If, lately, the flow action has indeed been moving to the negative, then that’s why negatives are winning. The strategy—if not necessarily the tactics—of the aff ought to be clear at this point. Easier said than done, of course, but that’s the gist of it. Control the narrative. Control the flow. They who control, win.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trick or treat, Rocket J. Squirrel!

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to Manchester, and even a longer time since I tried to make motel reservations there on Halloween night. The problem is that people flock to Salem as the Halloween center of the northeast (presumably because they don’t realize that Greenwich Village is the real Halloween center of the northeast). I ended up finally with rooms in some dump in Ipswich. Oh, well. I put it off, and that’s what I get. I’ve got 6 of the Jolly Tars signed up, having decided that it just doesn’t make sense to boggle the novice mind with a second topic before going back to Monti the subsequent week to run the previous topic. It’s hard enough starting out, much less starting out in two directions at once.

Since I’ll be with O’C on Halloween night, I do hope he’ll be tabbing in costume. I know I will. I’m going as Jon Cruz. This may cause some confusion, but I’m willing to accept the possibility. If DC (winner of last year’s I Want to Be Jon Cruz Award at the Kaiser Roll) shows up, the confusion will be absolute. Speaking of which, it’s interesting that Monti gives an I Want to Be Jon Cruz Award, while Bump gives a straightforward I am Jon Cruz Award. Does every tournament have such a tradition? I wouldn’t be surprised. And I wouldn’t be surprised if O’C is out there buying the trophies for all of them.

Tonight is major in Sailorville, as the novices either come back or they don’t. 5 have signed up for the Yahoo group, which is something, anyhow. (Anyone who believes that the so-called younger generation can do anything on a computer should ask them to do any one specific thing. Kids are, technologically, like everyone else: they can do what they want to do.) Last night we chezzed it up on nuclear energy (literally, given that we were in the actual shadow of Indian Point). During the meeting I popped onto Obama’s site to see what he said about the subject. I have to admit this is the first time I’ve been on the site. I found it, well, political. I do wish I was going to be able to watch the debate Friday night, but I’ll be with the Pups, and there you are. I won’t miss Palin/Biden, though, no matter where I am. That’s going to be the reality show of the season, even though the puppeteers of the GOP have done their best to keep it on a thanks-but-no-thanks footing. Just think. On January 21, 2009, Sarah Palin could be the Commander-in-Chief of the US armed forces. She could be our chief executive. She could be the decider. I have to admit, I was thinking of her this morning when the radio reported that a moose had caused a nine-car pileup on Rt 684. Where was Palin then, when we needed someone with a cool head and a keen eye and an itchy trigger finger?

If McCain had asked me to be his veep candidate, I would have blinked. But that’s the kind of guy I am.

Monday, September 22, 2008

At least joining the listserver doesn't require the use of any Fleet products

I spent some time yesterday reorganizing the order of the material for the newbies. Having gotten off to a raging start on morality, a basic theoretical view of right and wrong, I will now go tomorrow night for the concept of rights and the social contract. There’s a certain logic to this, I think, starting with a core concept of ethics and moving to a social concept of ethics, culminating in justice (presumably next on the agenda). With a new topic coming after the holidays next week, we should be moving along swimmingly, breaking these particular meetings into novice sessions followed by tutti of the fruttis.

This will be a busy week. A chez tonight on the October Pfffft topic will kick things off. With luck, the Sailors involved have been beavering away doing research, but I have to admit that, having met said Sailors involved, little beavering is expected. Still, it is a chestnut of a topic, the kind I like because while research is important, there’s nothing all that far off the stock pile, which means that debating is key. I mean, after, on the one hand, we need the alternate resource, versus, on the other hand, the thing is going to blow up and take half of the Hudson Valley along with it including the very chez we’re sitting in, you’ve simply got to be sharp in the round.

Tuesday is, as mentioned, the newbies followed by the tuttis. Wednesday is, with any luck, new parents’ night. This requires novices to corral their Aged Ps, which is often an iffy proposition, especially considering how difficult it always seems to be for newbies to corral themselves so much as to even sign up for the team: a constant problem, year in and year out, is how hard it is to get their sluggards to sign up for the Yahoo group. I’ve seen people more happily sign up for colonoscopies. Oh well…

Thursday I’m going out on private business related neither to the Day nor the Night Job. Which means God knows when I’ll get Yale into the computer; Wednesday, probably. Plus I’ve started playing “The Force Unleashed,” which means somehow I’ve got to work in the slaying of the occasional rogue Jedi into my daily routine. (And I have to marvel that, as I type this, the word Jedi is not marked for spell-checking: we live in a wonderful world nowadays. If only the economy, global tensions and Sarah Palin were as straightforward!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

All together now: "Three Little Fitties in the Itty Bitty Poo.."

Freshmen arrived at the meeting in vast numbers Tuesday night. Apparently Robbie spent a lot of time on the announcements drumming up enthusiasm, plus Rebecca made some remarkably fine chocolates, and the freshmen Sailors couldn’t resist. I have to admit I didn’t know what to prepare for the proceedings. Normally I start with social contract analysis, but morality had already appealed to me as a starting point this year even before the Sept-Oct rez was released. But when I looked at what I had in preparation, I didn’t feel the material was ready for prime time. So, I winged it. Threw that poor fat guy over the trestle a few times, grabbed some poor novice off the streets and broke her into transplantable parts, agreed that the math was tempting on the 5 to 1 for a variety of reasons but came up with a reason why math alone just might not be good enough. A few more minutes and I would have been able to explain why we don’t eat Germans. No one seemed to fall asleep: I’m a pretty entertaining speaker when the creek don’t rise unexpectedly. Even with the likely dropoff, we should still have a decent contingent next week. At which point they will get a little touch of Locke in the night. Some of this stuff never gets old.

For those who are wondering about the recent exchange in the comments, at last year’s Monti MHL, a certain spiritual son of Hassan M (AKA “Big Daddy”—God and Hassan alone know why) was allegedly charged by RJT, leader of her own personal clone army (another story altogether), to pre-order the odd hundred pizzas or so. This was predicated on the assumption that pizzas do not grow on trees, and that some warning would be needed at Pizza Central when a vast number of their product is required first thing on a Saturday afternoon. We’re not just talking a slice and a Coke here. As the appointed hour rolled around, and the theoretically appointed pizzas didn’t roll around, suspicions were raised. Commander RJT turned to Little Daddy and barked, “Ubi est lunch?” (Latin is the native language of Monticello.) Little D immediately took the high ground, replying “Quest-ce que c’est un lunch?” (His Latin isn’t what it used to be.) “The lunch I told you to order last night, you Palooka,” came the response, all pretense of native languages having been reduced to rubble. Once RJT calls you a Palooka, or words to that effect, in any language, the jig is up. While the tabroom was suddenly flooded with hints and allegations between the coach emeritus and Monticello’s answer to Ish Kabibble, debaters in the cafeteria were passing out from hunger, and Michael B, who never skipped such an opportunity, renamed the tournament the M.T. Pizza Toss on the next batch of schematics to issue forth. To this day, of course, Wee Sma Daddy insists that a) he wasn’t supposed to order the pizzas in the first place, and/or b) he did order the pizzas. Which raises the question: if there’s about a thousand people signed up for the Kaiser Roll, who’s in charge of ordering the food? Should I pack a lunch? And a dinner? And some snacks?

Debate life is just filled with drama.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What events would they be holding at the JBS, one wonders

So MW says in a comment that Via Con Me was in Welcome to Collinwood (a remake of an Italian film). That must be it: although I couldn’t watch Collinwood all the way through (it didn’t really grab me), I did watch it just a couple of weeks ago. Maybe that was enough for this bizarre sung to get under my skin. Listen to it and you’ll see what I mean. Presumably MW is Michael Walzer, in which case picking out a crappy reward prize won’t be easy…

We did have a little hoo-ha yesterday regarding the Monti MHL, which is on the same weekend as the Jersey Bridge tournament, which they’ve extended to two days. Realistically there’s not much conflict, because that MHL is always pretty small on the policy side, but it’s conflict enough. I’m sure it will all work out so that everyone’s happy, but this just goes to show that no amount of coordination is enough. The good news is that we are all connected these days, so issues can be resolved quickly. The Monti MHL will be what it always was, although this year we may ask someone else to order the pizzas.

I did a setup of Bump on tabroom.com, and worked out a couple of errors I had made, and things looked good. So, yesterday, I had O’C sign up his Scientologists, and lo and behold, it all does seem to work. It also seems as if three other schools attempted to sign up while the registration was temporarily open, even though I had renamed the tournament the Jean Baudrillard Simulacrum. Apparently some people will sign up for anything. Anyhow, it’s looking good to go for 10/1, opening day of real registration. And O’C is already registered, so I don’t have to worry about him staying up late on 9/30 to be the first one in. He can get a good night’s sleep so he’ll be able to teach all of Kant in class the following day.

Oh, yeah. I’m reading Moral Clarity, but I’m withholding judgment. So far it’s too much political critique; I don’t disagree with any of it, but I’m not getting enough out of it. I could be reading Anathem. Along those same lines, I wonder how many people really will pay to see Oliver Stone’s W. I saw the coming attractions this weekend. After 8 years, wouldn’t most of us pay not to have to think about this bozo again? Which reminds me of the joke about Bozo’s wife, and how after he died her second husband had some really big shoes to fill.

I’ll stop now. I’m off to a reboot of newbie night tonight. Pray for freshmen!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No juice, a roll, punch and a pup

Apparently if you let your Touch actively search for a specific WiFi network, it is the same as actively roaming on your cell phone: your battery disappears before your eyes. All right, fine. I’ll turn on WiFi when I want it and turn it off when I don’t. I can take a hint.

I’ve gotten motel rooms for the Kaiser Roll and finalized my registration (mostly). They’ve got a lot of people signed up, which is great to see. Autumn in Monticello: that ought to be a song title. There was some talk of 4 rounds on Friday, but it turns out that they have school all day, and who wants to have a debate in the middle of a biology class? They do want 6 rounds overall though, apparently, to cover the large number of entrants. My suggestion was to do what Bump does, and just start early on Saturday. Given the nature of the motels in the area, most of the coaches and judges are happy to get out of them as soon as possible in the morning, or at least during the dawn lull in pistol fire. It’s a jungle up there. Autumn in Monticello, but make that a gangsta song.

Speaking of songs, the song “Via con me” is driving me insane. Paolo Conte. I just can’t get it out of my head. The thing is, I can swear I knew this song before this weekend. What movie is it from (other than “Bella Martha”)? Crappy prize to any VCA member who can help me out here. At the very least, please recommend some other song to replace it in my nonstop mental soundtrack. (Punch, brothers, punch with care… Don’t forget, I do have a bust of Sam Clemens in my chez office.)

Rob Frederickson Fred Robertson has edited my vigilante piece quite nicely, and only nudged me on a couple of issues (so far). Another job to erase from the Remember the Milk list (which now bleeds onto my Touch—God, I love technology). I wonder if he got anyone to write briefs on the real stinkers? As I said originally, I liked the list overall, one of the best in a while. But every poodle has the odd flea, or something like that. I just hope we debate the poodles, and not the fleas. [Which is why I usually insist that you fill in the metaphors yourself on these pages, but it’s early in the year and I figured what the hey, why not? Well, that’s what you get for listening to me. Debate poodles. Hmmm. Debate poodles. Maybe we could give them out as awards at Big Jake. They’re always looking for a new way to make the award ceremony last until midnight, and debate poodles just might do the trick.]

Monday, September 15, 2008

A new toy

Ah, the internets. If these tubes weren’t flowing freely, I don’t know what I’d do. I mean, I watched this German movie over the weekend, and was taken by an Italian song on the soundtrack. Time spent tracking down unknown song with unknown title in unfamiliar language by unknown artist: 2 minutes. If I had wireless access in the office, I would have downloaded it to my Touch, making the whole exercise about 2.5 minutes.

So, yeah, I did buy the iPod Touch. I figure that if my PDA hadn’t died a month or two ago I might have stayed away, but I’ll admit it’s the apps that swung it. I love the idea of watching stuff on the bus on that bright little screen, but throwing in calendars and notes and games and wireless and all manner of stuff on which I’ll waste all manner of money did the trick for me. Of course, the new models are so new they don’t even have form-fitting cases yet, so I’m toting it around in some bizarre case I’ve had for years now that at least does have the virtue of easy in, easy out—the Touch requires hands-on access. This entire adventure necessitated downloading iTunes 8, which so far is running fine, despite Apple’s dreadful history with any release ending in a zero. It did take forever to upgrade the album art of the library, but after that, it’s been peachy. And sitting around in the chez surfing with the Touch is pretty cool. I’ve been sorting through the app store, and only gotten last.fm and Wikipedia and some Sudoku puzzles so far, and I’ve been learning what works well and what doesn’t work on Safari. I do love the whole idea of downloading an album from iTunes and then having it save back to your library when you sync. This is seriously cool, and potentially disastrous financially. The good news is that I can’t automatically access the wireless at the Day Job; the last thing I need is availability of an income drain 24/7.

Anyhow, technology aside, I went into this last weekend thinking I’d accomplish all manner of debate business, and wound up accomplishing absolutely nothing. Tonight I’ll be figuring out how to deal with what I hope is a sea of newbies on Wednesday. They will need a little orientation, but at the same time, we need to get down to business, i.e., the nature of justice. I mean, you’ve got to start somewhere. I need to get some debate rhythm going, with regular meetings during the week and regular tournaments on the weekends, but that won’t be for a while, what with Parents’ Night and the Jewish holidays and the generally weird event schedule this season. Oh, well. We’ll get there one way or the other.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lilliput's got nothing on us, baby!

(You know, these Weezer people, whoever they are, aren’t all that bad. I think I’ll keep them.)

So you need to understand the business world, and I offer you this. In my corner of the Day Job, there is a water cooler filled daily by Day Job Central, at no cost to the Day Job minions. If someone is feeling a mite parched, they can take a cup and fill it up and guzzle away. I’ve been known to do this myself in my decades of faithful service. I have also been known to use a nearby water fountain, which is thought of by some as one step above ladling slop out of the latrine, but what do I know. The water cooler is, apparently, filtered water. Filtered by what from what eludes me completely.

As anyone can readily see, this is not a tenable situation. (?) So certain of the Day Jobbers united a year or so ago to get a different water cooler, filled by Poland Springs with Poland Springs water. This group contributed their own funds, and posted the area surrounding the Poland Springs cooler with warning signs, barbed wire and landmines. Woe be to he who is not a subscriber who poaches Poland Springs water, which comes bubbling up from the earth as is and is not (bleeh!) filtered. This distinction was explained to me this morning in great detail. I was unable to keep a straight face.

Due to some layoffs, many of the Poland Springs cadre are no longer here to support bubbling up versus filtering, and new arrangements need to be made to accommodate the remaining bubbler-uppers. Meeting upon meeting has been taking place unbeknownst to me, with much venom and vigor. And the question was finally brought to my door. Would I pay for bubbling up, when filtering down was readily available for free?

What would you do? This is a decision that makes Sept-Oct look like a walk in the park.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mutter. (Mutter.) Mutter.

The heading of this entry sums up 900 blog entries in 3 words.

I’ve got a really full mailbox that I don’t want to look at. We seem to have become a red-light district again, among other Rippin’ issues. Been there, thought we’d done that. Apparently if we can find a knight errant in the district, we can rise above again. [Sigh.] I will address these issues over the weekend. I sent in my vigilante crib sheet to them today, speaking of the Wisconsin devils. The things I do for love!

I also have to get Bump moving this weekend. I got back a bunch of responses on judging, plus I pulled down my master sheet to get ready for this year’s brouhaha, but I just can’t face it. Too busy at the Day Job, to tell you the truth. We’ve all been moving offices and responsibilities and whatnot, and I get home a bit depleted. Just enough time to read the latest 30 or 40 updates on Big Jake (and to wonder how I could have left that out of my day in the life entry). (Speaking of which, I’ve now broken the greatest hits over there on the right into serious and not serious. For the record, I have a lot of memorabilia on my bulletin board at the DJ, and the only (real) musician pinned up there is Liberace, on a card O’C sent me from Las Vegas (there are unreal musicians in some paintings). So any animus one perceives on my part against the man is entirely fictional. If O’C didn’t exist, I would have to invent him.) Anyhow, the tournament I hate the most is not Jake, of course, but Bump, but I do like getting alums back and whatnot. And soon enough it will all be over. There is that in its favor. But work on it now must, I fear, begin in earnest.

I think I’m going to get a Touch tomorrow. I need a tonic.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2008-9 is afoot!

Well, that was a downer. For reasons that elude me completely, we ended up with no freshmen at our inaugural meeting. A few of our Shore Patrol were immediately dispatched to the docks to shanghai a few for the next meeting. Go figure. There are years when they show up in droves and then disappear and there are years when they show up in normal numbers and don’t change much (all of last year’s novices returned last night looking sadder but wiser), and there are years like this where they preemptively disappear before I even get a chance to forget their names. Things would, I imagine, be different if I taught at the school. This is one of the big problems with being a freelancer, that recruiting is totally out of my hands. So it goes.

The inaugural meeting of the year, freshmen or no freshmen, always marks the assigning of the positions. There is no greater joy than seeing the look of despair in a teenager’s eye when he learns that he has been appointed hardware engineer. I see this as a stepping stone to greatness, while others might see it as the last stop before the slough of despond. The Banana Republican was my choice for the job this year. He probably won’t smile again until 2011.

After we squared away the season’s jobs and whined about the lack of fresh blood (I will point out that we did get a clutch of sophomores, so all was not completely lost), we moved from the cafeteria to our usual venue. It felt good to be back, if for no other reason than that I got to write on the board. I haven’t done that in months. We kicked around Sept-Oct for a while; “Good Old ‘Alli’” reported on some things she had heard at Vassar, while Robbie proclaimed his newfound love for Peter Singer and I once again got to bloviate about the two train tracks (and, especially, the throwing of the galoot over the trestle as one way to stop the train). It felt like a real meeting.

Of course, if we really do get new novices, I’ll have to contend with recapping orientation next week. And we need to get started on Oct Pfffting. And I’ve got to round up hotel rooms for Monti and the Home of the Albino Bagel. And I’ve sent out a message to the Admirals, Ret’d, regarding Bump judging, and begun setting the tournament up on tabroom.com. And I’ve been working furiously on figuring where to eat dinner at Yale.

It’s good to be back in business again.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Day in the Life of You Know Who

6:00 a.m. Alarm clock plays the theme from Revenge of the Sith. Hit snooze button.

6:10 Alarm clock plays the theme from Revenge of the Sith. Again. Hit snooze button. Again.

6:20 Audioanimatronic Jar Jar Binks character arrives to shake subject out of bed. Shoot audioanimatronic Jar Jar Binks character with Uzi submachine gun.

6:20-7:00 Morning ablutions.

7:00 Daily recreation of TOC Monday morning “Breakfast of Champions,” complete with inductions into the hall of fame, speeches, and grits.

7:30 Clean up after breakfast of champions recreation. Throw 947th batch of grits into the garbage disposal.

7:45-10:00 Attempt to paste together shredded schematics from rounds 2 through 4 of 1983 novice tournament at Humpy Creek HS, Alaska. Wonder briefly whether Sarah Palin is the next Hillary Clinton.

10:00-10:15 Connect with 100 new friends on Facebook. Change profile picture to the same profile picture that’s already been there for the last two years. Hire new assistant policy coach.

10:15-10:30 Post open thread entry on WTF. Collect $5000.

10:30-12:15 Watch legendary Tagalog-dubbed version of DVD extras from “Howard the Duck.”

12:16 p.m. Email Menick telling him how he knows he really wants nothing more in his life than to see “Howard the Duck.”

12:17-12:24 Post entry on WTF asking readers to say what tournaments they wouldn’t go to even if you boiled them in oil. Collect $5000.

12:25-1:00 Listen to latest Liberace podcast from his number one cosplay fan site while riding subway to high school.

1:00-2:00 Lunch with principal of high school. Wear Indiana Jones costume and bring map of hidden underground corridors of building with plans for excavation searching for the Kingdom of the Lost Double-Octos trophy from 1932 Invitational.

2:00-2:15 Teach all of Kant and the first half of Derrida to A.P. philosophy class.

2:15-4:58 Take attendance at debate meeting.

4:59-5:00 Debate meeting.

5:00-5:05 Fire new assistant policy coach. Hire even newer assistant policy coach.

5:06-5:10 Post entry on WTF listing historical results of 1911 TOCs, with special attention to legendary LD final round between R.B. Sodikow and J. W. Patterson. (Sodikow forfeited because somebody didn’t close the door). Collect $5000

5:10-5:20 Meet with cafeteria staff to come up with new names for food. Standard debate ziti, for example, could be called “Foods of the World, the Mediterranean” while rat-on-a-stick from local street vendors can be repurposed as "Third World Fare for a New World Order." Present service award to cafeteria staff.

5:20-6:00 Send emails to 1000 alums telling each of them to send $10M to support team.

6:00-7:00 Visit local branch of Chase Manhattan Bank for personal dinner meeting with bank president. Withdraw newly received $10M contributions from 1000 alums. Immediately purchase desperately needed items: 5000 policy tubs; airplane tickets for 317 declamation novices to travel to West Bonetrail, ND, for annual Tournament of Dec Champs; 53 bricks of gold bullion for this year's invitational trophies.

7:00-8:00 Visit Metropolitan Museum of Art private collection of handmade trophies from invitationals ranging from the Age of Nefertiti to the Rise of Clay Aiken.

8:00-9:00 Consult with international team of gnome trophy artisans in secret underground location regarding this year’s models. Give them the 53 gold bricks and tell them there's more where that came from, all they have to do is ask. Make sure to get receipt.

9:00-10:00 Read novelization of “Howard the Duck” on subway ride home

10:00-10:05 Post entry on WTF asking who is not reading the entries on WTF. Collect $5000.

10:05-10:15 Read Coachean Life blog. Fume.

10:15-10:30 Evening ablutions, including flossing. Design possible new MHL trophy in toothpaste on mirror, photograph with iPhone and mail to undisclosed-location gnomes for input.

10:30 Set alarm clock for 6:00 tomorrow morning. Think long and hard before selecting the theme from Revenge of the Sith to be the wake-up song.

10:31 p.m.-5:59 a.m. Dream of someplace over the rainbow, where everyone has multiple trophies, where everyone reads nothing but schematics, and Jason Baldwin is President. Try not to wake up screaming.

And so goes another day in the life of Aaron Timmons Jon Cruz.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Post #900. Break out the champagne, or the Red Bull, whichever is appropriate.

So a swell time was had by all at Catholic Charlie’s last Saturday. We were treated to a demonstration of the power of prayer in that the sun was shining, or at least peeping out from the clouds occasionally, and we didn’t get swept away by Hurricane Hanna. (I did decide to give Vassar a pass, though, as I had predicted; my fortitude is just so forty). We met in CC’s own classroom, a shrine to technology (Mr. S, a former IBMer, knows his way around a computer) and to Genesis (the group, not the Bible book, about which the less said the better). Kaz and JV and I sat together, for what I’m sure will not be the last time this season, comparing notes on what was coming up. The calendar I’ve been keeping is pretty solid, and a couple of things were new to them, like the two-day novice event replacing the MHL at Newark (kudos to the Garden Staters) and the controversial running of Nov-Dec for grizzled novices at the Home of the Albino Bagel (I just can’t get myself to write its other name so easily). Unfortunately the Montwegian contingent was up at Vassar, so we couldn’t consult over Districts business (which I hate to admit I already have a bit of at this early date). We shall all reconvene at Regis in early October, if not before, to sort those things out. Anyhow, as far as the Cats were concerned, my big issues were the introduction of 4 rounds, which we will start on Oct 4, and the reduction of the number of judges at Grands from 3 to 2 if there are fewer than 20 teams. This too passed (although Sister R complained that it was the most boring discussion ever, which is not true given how often we’ve discussed Dec over the years, but alas, it was a constitutional issue and did have to be voted on). The best thing of all is to have more than 20 teams, but in the event, we are sure we can run it better with the fewer judges if we don’t have the numbers. I hope we’ll never have to put it to the test.

Tomorrow night is the first Sailors’ meeting of the year. The cheerleaders have corralled the library, so we will be sent off to the Siberia of the cafeteria. This sounds so wrong to me, on so many levels.

I’ve updated the calendar with everything I picked up Saturday. I noticed that the Jewish holidays are smack dab in the middle of things this year, and I’m going to have to juggle around them a bit with parent meetings and such. Fortunately Bump is a bit late, so we can wait on that. I’ll probably find some open days to have the usual number of meetings for the assembled multitudes of plebes and ABs. I hate foregoing a session early in the season, there being so much to cover and so little time already.

And Civilization arrived Saturday in our handheld version of the game. I’ve now owned every version of this game on every device I’ve ever owned. I usually play one or two games out and then the upgrade arrives, leaving me at about the level of whoever they now put at the bottom of the hall of fame. Who’s the worse civil leader of all time (other than GWB)? That’s my usual level. But I do love building cities and roads and boats and stuff. Don’t bother me in the tab room, fella. Menickville needs more entertainers or the citizens will rebel. Paging Elvis!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Battening down the hatches

Tomorrow is the NYCFL moderators’ meeting down at Iona, Catholic Charlie’s home school. I will be attending despite the hell and high water of hurricane Hanna. Tomorrow is also the first day of the Vassar RR. I had intended to pop up there for a visit, but will not do so in the face of said hell and high water. If O’C were Catholic, maybe things would be different, but since as far as I know he is a practicing agnostic, unless Hanna peters out, I’ll be laying as low as conceivably possible. The prayers of the NYCFL will guide me to my destination in the morning; the prayers of [you know, I can’t recall for the life of me the name of the Vassar football team, so fill in your own Poughkeepsie nickname here] probably just won’t be enough to get me through the storms of the afternoon.

I noticed yesterday that WTF was threatening its annual minute-by-minute coverage again of every round in every debate in the continental U.S., including Alaska to keep the Republicans happy. I always love the descriptions. “3928 debaters were entered, but at the end, only two were left standing.” This strikes me as rather predictable. When a tournament has three people left standing at the end, then the man will have bitten the dog and there will be something to write home about. Although, come to think about it, at the end end there is really only one person left standing, but who am I to tell these folks how to run their business? Wait a minute. I do that all the time. Why should this time be any different?

You may have noticed in the Feed (which, if you ignore, you do at your own intellectual peril) that the PF Debate folks are distributing their Sept brief gratis. I took a brief (no pun intended) look, and they came to the same conclusion I did, that this is just not one of those burning issues. At least the Nukes of October are relevant, since apparently McCain and Obama are also going to be arguing about them (or at the very least misrepresenting each other’s position, which is the political norm in America these days, thank God, otherwise we’d have to vote on the actual merits of the candidates). I have to admit I can’t wait for this bloody election to just happen. McCain’s been running for about a decade now, and I’m tired of him, and Obama’s only been at it a year or so but it feels like a decade, and I’m tired of him too. The only one I’m not tired of is Michael Palin, who was always one of my favorite Pythons and who, I think, would make both a fine Veep and a fine lumberjack. McCain simply couldn’t have made a better choice for the ticket.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Will it never end already is just around the corner

I made good headway on Vigilantism last night. It’s an interesting enough subject, and it strikes me as quite debatable, once you get past the initial negative connotations of the concept. But the aff will get to set the stage, and provided that this is dealt with adequately, good things could happen.

Yesterday I sent out an MHL announcement. I did some last minute cleaning up of the website and let ‘er rip. The big change this year will be the 4 rounds rather than 3, meaning that you won’t automatically get torpedoed by one bad judge, or one bad round. Also, with three rounds, whenever there was a glitch in the early morning round that Eric of Michele refers to as attendance-taking, the abused parties got byes, and sometimes there were a lot of these, and one bye out of three rounds is a real monkey wrench. No more. If you’re not registered by 9, you’re out. If you show up later, you’ve got a round-one forfeit. Everyone else debates. That should work.

As you may or may not know, there’s been another turnover at Lexington. Maggie has gone south (literally) and CP has introduced the new coach via email. I’ll meet her at Yale, no doubt. Yale has a certain Everybody-Goes-to-Rick’s feeling, kicking off the new year for many of us who don’t do Texas, and there’s a general reunion atmosphere and the weather’s usually nice and the warm glow of a new season’s promise hasn’t turned into will it never end already. JV and I are in tab, sharing with Kaz at least on Friday as she manipulates the Policians. Fun stuff.

I’ve also committed this year to working with CP at Princeton. I highly value CP’s work attempting to normalize the northeast’s tournaments, which he’s done by, among other things, imposing certain rules of order behind the scenes with the tournament directors, generously allowing us to use his tabroom.com software for free, and developing a pool of tab talent for the tournaments to draw from. He’s transformed Yale and Columbia in fantastic ways, and I think he’s also the person who introduced Miss America runners-up to the judge pool, so for that alone, he gets my vote. Anyhow, there will be changes with the Tigers this year. They will run a pure novice LD division rather than JV, which I always like because it keeps the competition for newbies at an even level while allowing second-year students some real competition in the varsity division. I mean, where’s the beauty of beating someone who doesn’t have any experience? Additionally, I have insisted on an improvement in the judge pool, and have banned non-LD Tiger Parli folks from judging. I remember too often sitting listening to some Cub parliamentarian “training” the LD judges before the tournament, sessions at which I’ve never heard so much nonsense in my life. And decisions I witnessed in rounds were often simply not acceptable. If you have aspirations of being a strong national tournament, you need a pool of judges who are experienced in LD. They don’t necessarily need to be $ircuit judges—far from it—but when they walk into a round they need to impart an sense between the two debaters they are adjudicating that, yes, they will get a good, fair opinion, and they can debate at their best. That’s what good judging is all about. And one would expect, if the name Princeton is the one over the proverbial door, that they would try to do things right. (Princeton also used to have the best homemade ice cream shop on the circuit, which I will report on in due course. The VCA knows the things that I find really important.)

Speaking of novices, I’m pretty sure Ridge will make the similar switch from JV this year, at least in LD. I do hold strong reservations about Manchester, though, with their novice division. Running Nov-Dec at what, for MHLers at least, is their second tournament, is something that I just can’t see happening. This so takes me back to the Modest Novice proposal. My feeling is that I may get some good Pffft representation at the Home of the Albino Bagel (or, as O’C and I have begun calling it on seeing their gavel, the Kingdom of the Crystal Penis), I doubt if I’ll be bringing along any novices. They can stay in Sailorville and prep themselves for the following week’s MHL. Or better yet, start lining up that Bump housing. Bump is, after all, coming any day now.

Oy. Bump is coming.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I want you, I need you, I love you

Why in the name of all that is holy do I think I need a Chumby?

But do I need another browser? I hate to admit it, but I do different things with Safari and Firefox, with different logins in different programs, and I can imagine a third browser allowing still more diversity. This isn’t so much multitasking as multihatwearing, with a couple of different debate identities plus a couple or two work identities, all more or less simultaneous. Whether the browser is actually different in any way is another story. I’m rather fond of Firefox 3, whereas 2 seemed nothing special. It works diametrically opposite to Safari whenever it can, which makes me wonder if Google is planning to triangulate somehow, since I guess you can’t have three diametric oppositions. (I guess I should point out that, to make things more interesting, when I’m working at home I use the two programs in the opposite fashion than I do at the Day Job, because the brain is pointed in different directions for obvious reasons. No wonder I can’t remember the names of my two cats.)

Speaking of hats, I need to send out an annual hi-ho message to the MHL mailing list. The streets of Sailorville were crawling with school buses this morning. On the first day or two, the parents do a lot of waving at their suddenly grown spawn and blowing kisses at the drivers for finally getting said spawn out from underfoot, but that slows down after the thing becomes routine. There are a few parents, however, who I’ve seen now every day for twenty years, still waving bye-bye and blowing kisses. Considering that the kid is going off to graduate studies at Cal Tech, you’d think they’d have gotten over it by now.

Anyhow, this being my own personal tech-blogging day, I heard tell of Dell’s entry in the subcompact sweepstakes this morning on the radio, and a $400 XP mini-me is yet another thing I think I need. I consider it a companion piece to the (as yet unseen) newly designed and (one is guessing) cheaper Touch that is another hunka hunka burnin’ love I think I need to possess.

I would point out that the icing on all of this shoplust is Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell 3 album, which I also think I need for some reason. Of course first I’ve got to start listening to all the music by groups I didn’t know I had (who the hell is Weezer?) that I put on the MegaPod in my now almost finished restoration project.

What I’ll probably end up buying is a new golf cap. Then, either I will disprove my disbelief in a slippery slope and buy all those other things, or I will be pretty much satisfied that I’ve acquired enough new stuff for one year.

But I still think I need a Chumby.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A new dawn beckons

Well, here we are again. Last year’s graduates have evaporated into the collegiate mist, leaving nothing behind but an email address and a plea for the odd judging job (except, of course, for those of last year’s graduates who refuse to go away, many of whom have been refusing to go away for decades). By now LDers have inhaled a bit of Mill and maybe Singer, while Pfffters, who have spent the last two weeks dodging the draft (a hot-button topic born no doubt in the minds of the draft-dodgers at Rippin’, since the rest of the world can’t for the life of us wonder who’s been making this front-page news, although to tell the truth, it’s not a bad topic, just one that is hardly on the nightly news cutting edge), now have to ponder the cutting edge of nuclear technology. Never forget: the Carousel of Progress in 1964 culminated in a GE nuclear power demo—it’s here, it’s cheap, it’s clean. It’s still here, folks. And it’s probably a good debate topic. In fact, I suggest that they recycle it every twenty years or so, just to keep it fresh.

Next week we welcome in the new Sailors (if any). One never knows, and one always wonders how a particular kid finds out about this stuff in such a way as to want to do it, given our annual disconnectivity in terms of recruitment and the like. The Middle School harbors a debate class that has nothing to do with any known high school debate activity, but that seems to neither attract nor repel any candidates. Whatever. There is no question that school classes share certain traits not unlike wine vintages: bad harvest weather, truncated growing season, too fruity, too much tannin, that sort of thing. I’m used to the Sailors being a little too fruity, but when they’re too tannic, all hell can break loose. We’ll see next week. As always, I would imagine, we’ll Zeno them down paradoxically 50% at a time for three or four weeks to get to our real number.

Tonight I begin, in earnest, to work on vigilantes for Rippin’. Considering that I have about two weeks to do it, I think I’ve put it off long enough. Let us embrace the work ethic and do whatever it is we are supposed to do. Let the VCA pick up its shovels and axes and backhoes and get down to business, although I do suggest that those of you who decide to pick up backhoes do so only after a few stretching exercises. The new school year is here. We welcome you, 2008-9. We embrace you. Halfway through you, we will have a new president. And a new vice president. And a new ex-president, and a new ex-vice president, come to think of it. Have you given any thought to how much W can get for hitting the speaking circuit? The mind boggles. As for our new ex-vice president, I think they’re just moving him to yet another undisclosed location and waiting to see what kind of creature breaks through the mild-looking exterior pod.

Yep. We welcome you, 2008-9.