Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Exegesis, future planning, Mass Matt's Mac, etc

Here’s how things are working at the moment here.

Feed articles are posted during my lunch hour (I wonder why), with the FEED: in the header. I’m going to start limiting the subject lines after that to a distinct handful, for simplicity’s sake. I will also keep sending these articles to the unremarked Feed (if I can remember to click the appropriate button, which I forget sometimes when I cross-post). In fact, there will probably be a small number of posts in the Feed not carried over here, because they are of marginally less interest, at least insofar as further notation is concerned.

Non-Feed articles are posted in the evening, usually at 7:30. They have their usual unintelligible subject lines, many of which seem to be taken from random email spam. (Feel free to send me your social security number and all your bank information, if the spirit moves you.)

I’ve now gotten information, I think from WTF, on three tournaments for next year, suggesting I poise my fingers over the keyboard to sign up. All right, Yale does require some planning (guessing how many Sailors might want to go, pretending I have a real number when I go through the hell of securing hotel rooms, etc.), but Big Jake? O’C obviously had a little WTF time on his hands, or else he needed that $5K. I was shocked, shocked, to read that he is planning to give awards bigger than the average everyday SUV for a variety of accomplishments. He’s already solicited that I give two speeches at varying moments, not to mention enlisting my tuba playing skills in the legendary Big Bronx 2AR Marching Band. I hear that JV is playing glockenspiel. Should be very entertaining.

(If any more proof were needed that O’C has got time on his hands, in his archaeology mode Our Man in the Bronx discovered that Ewok is distantly related to some guy who won the one-legged novice declamation championships in Ohio in 1942, or something like that. He was mighty proud of this discovery, beaming away in his broadcast text message. Things must be pretty quiet down there in Kaintuck.)

Come hell or high water, my next job is working on Pfffft. I want to document my thoughts and publish them so that others can tear them apart. Give me a day or two. Or three.

And I’ll be terribly disappointed if Mass Matt goes for 15 inches over 13. Size is not everything. If one is lugging the thing around, less is more. If it’s sitting on your desktop 24/7, then more is more. Plus, it’s about $200 extra per square inch. A studio apartment in Manhattan is about $80 a square inch. $200 a square inch? You’re talking penthouse prices. Moving in with Woody Allen. I dunno…

FEED: Civil rights

It is an interesting conundrum. What rights do groups have to discriminate for religious reasons? For any reasons, for that matter? This is a very tough, murky area.

On college and university campuses and in high schools, Christian student groups risk being denied official school recognition because their religious beliefs conflict with anti-discrimination policies. These controversies often involve groups that bar gay students from qualifying for voting membership or leadership positions if they don’t acknowledge the alleged sinfulness of their ways. Liberal advocates of equality applaud the denial of official status to conservative groups deemed hostile to gay people; conservatives and some traditional civil libertarians decry the denial of fundamental associational and religious rights to Christian groups. More...

FEED: Feminism

You'll like this chart. Women are going to college. Men are going to...? More.

FEED: Philosophy

Sometimes the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy publishes an entry that is both readable and interesting on a basic level. Like this piece on the doctrine of Double Effect.

The doctrine (or principle) of double effect is often invoked to explain the permissibility of an action that causes a serious harm, such as the death of a human being, as a side effect of promoting some good end. It is claimed that sometimes it is permissible to cause such a harm as a side effect (or “double effect”) of bringing about a good result even though it would not be permissible to cause such a harm as a means to bringing about the same good end. This reasoning is summarized with the claim that sometimes it is permissible to bring about as a merely foreseen side effect a harmful event that it would be impermissible to bring about intentionally. More...

FEED: Civil rights

I think we're really poised at the outset of a new vision of the US. The position seems to be that we have reached the end of racial politics; post-racialism, if you will. The inherent idea is that we are also post-racism. On the one hand, this is a world I want to live in. On the other hand, personally I don't think we're there yet. Then again, how will we know when we get there?

From the NY Times OpEd: Powerful voices on the court, including Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion on Monday, began to call for something close to a zero-tolerance policy when it came to government counting its citizens by race for any purpose. And the court became skeptical of Congress’s making its own legislative judgments in ways that threatened to expand the boundaries of the court’s own narrowing constitutional vision. More...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another weekend bites the dust

Very busy. Really.

First of all, I have alluded in various ways and in various places to discussions some of us are having with the NYSFL. While there’s nothing particularly secret about any of this, it seems judicious to me that these discussions not be the subject of instant analysis here the minute after they happen. Suffice it to say two things: first, the discussions are productive, held in a spirit of mutual respect, and second, shortly there will be ways for other coaches in the state to participate in the dialogue. Slice this any way you want, but it is a good thing.

Secondly, I’m up to my eyeballs in organizing the new computer, which remains unnamed. I sort of like Big Mac, but, well, it’s not as big as the Mac at the DJ, so it seems, I don’t know, a little pretentious. Anyhow, every time I turn around, there’s something else I need to do. Granted, I could have just hooked up the old computer and ported everything over, but that just seemed so…sterile. Besides, I’m using Little Elvis as a fileserver, so to a great degree, what would be the point? This weekend saw the arrival of an FTP program, the indispensable TextWrangler, and the last of my photos, et alia. My pictures situation, in particular, has been a mess for years, with pix spread across computers, disks, etc. Finally, a chance to organize. Plus, I keep finding good shots I’ve forgotten about, including old debate photos. I’ll post ‘em on Facebook and tag ‘em if you’re in ‘em.

I’m also cleaning up the chez, which means that for a while I lost, and then I found, my Pfffft notes from CatNats. I’ll be working on that. I actually did see things that made me want to improve my admittedly haphazard initial take on the activity. With my notes back in hand, maybe this week.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep the Feed articles coming in here, as I find them. I may be too busy to write stuff, but other people aren’t.

FEED: Heckling = Free Speech

This is interesting. Right of free speech is protected only versus the government. Private infringement of free speech is not protected. Heckling is a unique situation, though.

Audiences have a right to heckle... The leading judicial decision here is In re Kay of the Supreme Court of California... The Court granted the right to heckle and stated that this is a legitimate part of the “cacophony of democracy”. Even though heckling and booing and shouting and other types of disruption may be uncivilized, impolite and often stupid, it’s free speech and it should be protected. More...

FEED: Philosophy podcasts

From Machiavelli to Mill, via Nigel Warburton. More...

FEED: Uganda debate

Another posting from Snider, interesting in its own right to anyone who thinks that debate has intrinsic value beyond the purely academic.

The Nabisunsa students at Ridar Hotel are a representation of a new generation of debaters on their way to changing the face of critical discussions in this country, and onto the “glorious light!” One just can't wait for the national championship in December! More...

FEED: Terror v privacy

Good question:

A bit less privacy is a cheap price to pay for more physical security. However... if rights are tradeable like this, if they depend on the circumstance and should be surrendered when the circumstances become more difficult, what is left of them? More...

FEED: School days (1957)

From P.A.P. again; 52 years ago is either a very long time, or a very short time. I envy those of you who haven't had to live through anything like this in our country.

Or have you?

On September 4, 1957, she and eight other African American students attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School, which had previously only accepted white students. They were stopped at the door by Arkansas National Guard troops called up by Democratic Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, in defiance of a unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court (Brown v. Board of Education). More...

FEED: Intellectual property vs Creative Freedom

I love discussions of intellectual property. I've been stating here for ages that just because something is readily accessible doesn't make it freely yours. That is, you can't claim that online music is free just because it's easy for you to acquire it without paying. There's a bench in front of my house that you could easily put into your car. Does that mean it's yours for the taking?

Anyhow, serious discussions of IP go much deeper. This article in Reason, starting with the Catcher in the Rye pastiche, is a good starting point.

Now, the court must decide if 60 Years Later falls under the "fair use" exception to copyright law. Is it an unauthorized sequel (red light), or a commentary or parody (green light)? Does it merely appropriate and continue the work, or transform it in a way that illuminates the original?

Salinger's lawyers have claimed that the new book is "a rip-off pure and simple."There is nothing simple about intellectual property law. Some things are fairly straightforward: a pirated edition of a book or an illegal DVD of a movie cuts into the revenues of the author or the producers. But a new work that builds on an earlier one can boost the sales of the original, particularly if it creates controversy. Film and television studios have sometimes gone after fan-made music videos based on TV shows and movies and posted on websites such as YouTube, even though such videos have inspired quite a few people to buy DVDs of the movies or shows. More...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Critiquing the K

In a comment, LA Coach says:

As a policy debater that became an LD coach, I started off with a number of the same questions that your student had, including the use of kritiks.

The conclusion I came to was similar to yours, but with two significant caveats: the threshold of compelling need and the value of discursive critiques.

One of the most interesting arguments I've seen about torture warrants is the argument that we shouldn't be debating it at all. From both an educational and a moral standpoint, there are solid arguments that debating that topic will actually be detrimental to the long-term moral development of our students, which (to me) is a compelling reason to write a critique of it. While this is a well-documented argument, I happen to think that the threshold for interesting and compelling critical arguments is low enough that I'm happy to listen to them when they're well presented. Kritiks that are presented badly, however, get no sympathy.

Secondly, I think we need to take a step back and seriously consider the value of kritiks of discourse in LD. I don't mean simply "don't say X" arguments, but I do think there's value to helping students regulate the language used in rounds. I got so fed up with hearing about the Holocaust that I taught my novices a simple H-Triv kritik, and had a long talk with them about when it was appropriate to talk about the Holocaust, and when it might be appropriate to run the K. I suspect it didn't get through to all of them, but it did challenge some of my students to think about that larger issue and I believe they actually gained something from learning a kritik that isn't specific to the any resolution.

Ultimately, you're exactly right to say that Ks are an individual judge thing, but I wonder if there isn't some value to keeping them around as a lesser argument. I don't want to hear Nietzsche every round, but I think there may be a more topic-specific (or round-specific) space for them to permanently hold.

I promoted this to entry caliber for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m on board with the argument on torture warrants, because it is not particularly unfair nor unresolutional. I would accept this (argued well) as a legitimate position. To be honest, even though it’s obviously a critique of debating torture, I don’t think I would be considering it as such in the round, as much as I would be considering it a reasonable argument about the subject. I tend not to think in academic terms; don’t wrestle me to the ground to explain the difference between tonalism and impressionism, for instance. I know it when I see it, but I’m not thinking about it. Half of what today is referred to as theory debate used to be called definitional debate: same arguments, different label. The same muck that attended the one today attends the other. So it goes.

I am coincidentally curious about the Holocaust, or any extreme debating. Around here such is almost completely unheard of except at the rankest amateur levels, i.e., novice meetings, where the offending soul who brings up Hitler or the like is figuratively thrown out the window after we explain why that level of analysis is counter-productive. Are we just lucky around here?

Anyhow, in agreement with the comment, I wish there were more discussion of what is and isn’t valuable in critiquing a resolution. So much of what we do is soooooo vague. And I have often come out against the idea that judges can maintain wildly different views of the activity just because they don’t want to subscribe to an accepted orthodoxy. I’m not sure whether we have an accepted orthodoxy or not (although I know we have rules, and some judges and debaters are perfectly willing to flout them, which is a different business altogether).

The other thing is, how much critiquing is really going on in policy anyhow? I have no idea.

FEED: Chalk one up to individual rights, in the schools

We've had resolutions about the rights of students in schools, an area in which the courts have mostly deferred to the administrations, favoring safety over liberty. This seems to be the correct result from SCOTUS, although note that, in his dissent, CT noted that now all students will know that their drugs are safe in their underwear.

Today, in an 8-to-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that Arizona public school officials violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a 13-year-old eighth-grader when they subjected her to a strip search because they thought she might be hiding ibuprofen in her underwear. More...

FEED: Patents on publicly funded research

The People's Champion found and tweeted this (and you thought that Twitter was useless!). In essence, South Africa is looking at forced patents on intellectual property. The ramifications of this are mind-boggling. I can't believe it will happen, but in any case, IP is a big issue for me, and for LD.

...a proposal in South Africa, that would potentially require patents on certain publicly funded research. While this seems totally backwards for any number of reasons (and many of us believe that publicly funded research should be available to the public since they paid for it), apparently some are concerned that "foreign multinationals" might "misappropriate" the research. So, even if a university and the researcher choose not to protect the research results with IP, if a government body determines that the results could have commercial viability, it would have the ability to control the rights. More...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

PF judge paradigms

I am more than a little taken with CP’s idea for a traveling PF judge paradigm. As he explains, it is a basic requirement for public speakers to, before opening their pie holes, ascertain the nature of the audience. One way or another we do this in LD and Policy, but given the extremely mixed nature of the PF pools, which often comprise a large number of people doing it for the first (and last) time, we don’t have a way of gauging the audience in that activity. His proposal is a what-if for a paradigm sheet of sorts that judges could bring with them to rounds for the teams to look over.

So my notion is to introduce the PF Paradigm Questionnaire. It’d be a simple sheet of maybe 10-12 questions of various ways a judge might like to judge, designed to both allow debaters to figure out a judge’s paradigm, and to prompt the judge him/herself to think about how and why they’re making their decisions. The questions can be “I prefer arguments based on 1. Sources & Evidence . . . 5 mixed . . . . 10 Independent reasoning.” It could ask about speed versus presentation, background, and all kinds of things. It could ask if the judge prefers teams to be vicious jackals or wussy teddy bears in cross-ex.
Then the judge carries their sheet around with him/her during the tournament, and shows it to the two teams before each round if they want to see it. If their beliefs should change as a result of their growing experience with rounds — “oh, I didn’t realize how fast ‘fast’ meant!” — they can alter it or get a new sheet between rounds. More

I’m rather taken with this idea. CP does ask for thoughts on his decidedly comment-free blog, hence here. My first thought is, why doesn’t the man just write it and show it to us? Then we could use it at tournaments next season to try it out. I’d be happy to give it a go at Bump (or give it a bump at Go—whatever).

Thoughts? ;-)

FEED: International

I'm rather taken with "Tuna" Snider's reports on debates outside the US. Not much to add to them, aside from pointing them out.

The first ever debate tournament in Jordan just ended with quite a lot of excitement... Debaters came from Aqaba, Zarqa'a, Amman-Khalda, Taibeh, Karak, and Sahab. In the morning the debaters considered whether Jordan's reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) should be lifted. The afternoon topic centered on the relationship between tribal law and public law in Jordan. Each team debated each topic twice for a total of four debates. More...

A second piece is on a more casual debate job in Namibia: In addition to teaching English, I have been handed the duties of the debate coach and the grade 6 Agriculture class. I was pretty horrified at the debate responsibility, as I have never even taken a debate class or participated in a debate. More...

FEED: Women who grunt

What can I add?

“lady tennis players” should not grunt because “it makes them unsexy, and sex appeal is the main selling point of women’s tennis”. (Former tennis player Michael Stich) More...

FEED: Human rights data

The idea of evaluating sites with human rights data? Priceless. And a good research resource for future topics.

It is extremely important to have good data on individual human rights, and in this page I’ll try to list the available data sources for each human right. In order to do that, I established a stylized set of human rights, derived from the major international human rights instrument which is known as the International Bill of Human Rights (IBHR), comprised of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1966)... I separate these rights into the 3 traditional groups of rights - freedom rights, political rights and social and economic rights. For each human right, I list and give examples of some of the authoritative measurements, if any. More...

FEED: Women in the theater

Is there gender bias in the theater? That's what this new study was about.

The NY Times reports on a year long study conducted by a Princeton economics student, Emily Glassberg Sands, whose work has been vetted by a number of excellent economists. The study looked at the fact that many more plays produced are written by men than by women. These are the conclusions reached: More...

I will point out anecdotally, and tangentially, that traditionally girls will read books by men much more readily than boys will read books by women. When boys read at all, that is...

FEED: The Spanish ICC?

Spain claims universal jurisdiction over human rights abuses. Okay, the topic is now passed, but the concept remains interesting.

For more than a decade, Spanish courts have been the terror of torturers and genocidaires the world over. Operating under the principle of "universal jurisdiction," the country has claimed the right to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute human rights cases that occurred beyond its borders if the countries in question fail to act. More...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The education of Good Ol' Whatshisname continues...

Can you go into more depth about how the V/VC section works?

What should I value on each topic, and why? How do the two relate to the topic itself?

Why shouldn't I just value life every round then say "life subsumes all your values because you can't have ______ if you're dead"?

The NFL puts it this way: “A value is an ideal held by individuals, societies, governments, etc. Debaters are encouraged to develop argumentation based upon a values perspective.” This is a relatively reasonable definition of value. It is something important, and something that is, at some level, transcendent, either individually or socially. That is, societies, and members of societies, hold some things as supremely important. Our traditional sense of what it means to be an individual (and this sense may be culturally determined) is to have the freedom to do what you want to do, short of harming others and free from harm yourself. So, freedom/liberty is a personal value. We believe that societies should treat everyone equally, hence equal treatment of individuals is a societal value. Justice, which is another way of saying equal treatment of individuals, is a societal value. Morality, i.e., the desire to do good and/or not do bad, is at least an individual value, and perhaps construable as a societal value. These are the big ones: justice, morality, freedom. All rezzes can’t always connect to them, but the best ones usually can. One could argue, as I noted above parenthetically, that all of these concepts are culturally determined, and not applicable to all individuals/societies, but that would be denying the social/cultural history that informs our thinking in the first place. That is, we can claim that individual rights are a “western” concept via the Enlightenment philosophers, i.e., a theoretical claim by a select group of unique people, and that this thinking is parochial and not applicable universally. (Kant, if I’m not mistaken, being one of these Enlightenment people, addresses this very issue, but that’s beside the point.) But at best this is a critique of the Enlightenment and a claim for relativism that seems difficult to successfully assert in a debate round that takes place within the culture that includes these important philosophers as part of its moral/ethical canon.

All right. I got off the point there a little.

Anyhow, for the sake of orthodoxy, we (usually) agree that there are a handful of so-called good things that we want to achieve, and among these are freedom and equality and their various subsets. Protection of rights falls in here, of course, usually considered as a government’s obligation. From a social contract perspective, that’s what governments do: they protect rights. At CatNats, where the question was whether we had a right to health care, it would be virtually impossible to successfully argue that right from a soc con perspective, given the literature and general thinking on soc con. Health care is, simply put, not a right within the direct context of the social contract. Successful arguments in favor needed to go beyond canonical soc con into areas of infrastructure and the like, proving that governments have an obligation to do something beyond soc con. Personally, I feel that they do have such an obligation: governments ought to do more than just protect us from each other. (Few Pfffters that I judged at CatNats, btw, really seemed to understand soc con. The actual winning team, which I judged in semis, knew it inside out. So do most LDers.)

There are many ways to argue around these core value concepts, but usually one or the other of these core concepts is the goal we are trying to achieve. We achieve it through a very specific mechanism, which is the criterion. Our goal is justice, say; we achieve it through guaranteeing more rights, perhaps. V = J, C = Prot Rs. If the CatNats topic had been LD, maybe V=Gov legitimacy (which means that the gov is doing what it’s supposed to do) and the C = fulfilling gov obligations. Case in favor of health care would prove that it is an obligation of the government to provide it, otherwise the gov is not doing what it is supposed to do, i.e., performing legitimately. People arguing for health care as a right would avoid soc con like, well, something you need a lot of health care to recover from.

The more specific and practical a criterion is, the better it is, insofar as it is the weighing mechanism for determining if a value is achieved and, therefore, for the judges, the lens through which the round is viewed. Which gets to the real point of the deal, which is that the case must provide whatever the criterion promises. That is, if your criterion is that you will protect more rights, then your case ought to show how you protect rights. You demonstrate how your opponent does not protect (as least as many) rights. When it comes time for the judge to weigh, the adjudicator puts all the rights on the scale and the most rights protected, wins. (I wish it were always that easy.)

Bad debate, as often as not, disconnects the framework from the contentions. The argumentation is only tangentially about what the debaters are claiming it must be about. They claim, for example, that the best way to achieve justice, the V, is through rights protection, the C, and then argue something that has nothing to do with rights protection at all. As I like to put it, V/C is like the icing on the wrong cake. If you can’t end every contention with a line to the affect that this gives you C which achieves V (not necessarily literally, but figuratively, or maybe literally if you’re a novice), then there’s something wrong somewhere.

Finally, why doesn’t the value of life, or say the right to life, trump everything? Well, what makes life worth living? If it’s just life per se, we would keep people alive at all costs, even if they’re in a degenerative, vegetative state. We wouldn’t die anymore; we’d just go on respirators until we couldn’t afford the electricity bill. Often rezzes are directly concerned with quality of life. Sometimes it’s a matter of “life in a box” versus freedom. One certainly needs to be alive to enjoy one’s other rights, but arguably, one also needs to be free to enjoy one’s right to life. In other words, there are no trumps in the card game of LD.

FEED: Cheating by any other name

This is relevant to the discussion we've had over computer use in rounds. Where I come from, cheating is cheating, stealing is stealing, etc., and the acts are not washed clean of immorality because of the technology used to perform them

“Students say using tech to cheat isn’t cheating.” A poll commissioned by Common Sense Media found that “more than a third of teens with cellphones (35 percent) admit to cheating at least once with them, and two-thirds of all teens (65 percent) say others in their school cheat with them.” More...

FEED: The legality, or lack thereof, of cross burning

This article is very useful for its citation of Virginia v Black. I love knowing what the relevant legal thinking is behind these issues. And good old hate speech is a hearty perennial amongst LDers and their ilk. We even had a cross-burning in the Land of the Sailors not too long ago (not related to the debating Sailors per se, of course).

The question is: should cross burning be considered as a form of speech that merits the protection of the freedom of speech (the First Amendment in the U.S.), or should it rather be an example of hate speech that can and should be made illegal? More...

FEED: "What should I do?"

Often these purely philosophical articles are so obtuse I can't make heads nor tails of them. Not this one. And thank God we didn't have to handle the mineshafts in last year's Sept-Oct!

What exactly do we mean when we ask the deliberative question, "What should I do"? It's surprisingly elusive. With a bit of work, we can pin down a behaviouristic kind of answer -- specifying when it's appropriate to offer and to challenge various responses to the question. But I suspect that in a more fundamental/philosophical sense, it isn't really a well-formed, determinate question at all.

First, note that we're not asking what would be objectively best. (Consider Parfit's Mineshafts case. You know that one of option A or B will save all ten lives, but the other will save none, and you don't know which is which. Option C is guaranteed to save nine lives. Clearly, the answer to the deliberator's question is "choose option C", even though this is the one option we can know is not objectively best.) More...

FEED: Athletic pros on why they win

How about a little inspiration for a change? Competition is, after all, competition no matter how you slice it.

"It's always been about the mental edge for me. When you know you have that edge, nothing bothers me out there. I don't care if it's 120 degrees or the ball is square. I'll find a way to win." More...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So what's that LD thing all about?

I received this from a student I know, and it’s worth sharing.

I am a Public Forum debater by choice, and have had some modest success on the circuit. However, as a rising senior whose partner is graduating, I am left in a quandary.

He goes on to report that he’s been reading pretty deeply into the likes of Dworkin, Arendt, Zizek, etc. This guy’s no dummy.

Thus, I turn to LD, which is where I'd like to ask for help; I have a few questions regarding the structure and nature of LD, and regarding cases.

I’m game. I’m probably going to be wrong, but I’m still game.

What are five things you would tell every LD novice that don't relate to debate universally?

Even if you never argue them, you have to master the canon of Locke and Mill. The 2nd Treatise is the best explanation of Social Contract you can get, and On Liberty is the best defense of personal freedom.

I’m sort of lost after the first one. Judge adaptation applies to all disciplines, as does knowledge, research, etc. The key thing about LD that separates it from the other debates is the concept of value, that it is values debate. Understanding ethics, therefore, is the core. This doesn’t mean that there’s agreement about morality or law or any of that stuff, but you’ve got to know what they’re all about. And then you’ve got to argue, always, from the point of view of that value. If the V is justice, your case has to demonstrate justice or that lack thereof.

And I consider it bogus that people argue things like, there is no such thing as justice, or morality, or whatever. Perfect justice, universal morality? Maybe not (although both can be arguable). But an attempt to be more just, or more “right” or more truthful, even if we can’t achieve completeness in these abstract areas, is better than being less just, less right or less true. If there is a lesson to be learned in LD that transcends LD it is that ethics matter for your entire lifetime. They matter to the entire lifetime of the human species. Not a bad way to spend a few hours in high school, in other words.

How do impacts work?

Can I have practical impact turns? (I heard an LDer at NFLs run that conscription was key to industrial development - can I run "capitalism bad" turns against that, where the impacts are democracy, environment, and dehum?)

Simple answer is yes. An impact is, of course, merely the jargon for the result of something. So if I claim that Y is the result of X, I need to demonstrate it clearly with some link from X to Y. If you have a link from X to H, that at the very least makes my link non-unique. If you can prove that your link from X to H always happens and not my link from X to Y, then you’ve simply proven that you’re right and I’m wrong.
I’m wary of the word “turn” in debate, which is used willy nilly, usually to mean “refutation.” A turn is a very specific argument that proves that the original argument is not only false, but works for the opposite side. Half the rounds I see, every other word out of the debaters’ mouths is “turn.” To which I respond, “taint.”

How prevalent are kritiks?

How willing do you find circuit judges to vote on them, if well explained?

On the negative, can I kritik the V/VC structure?

Can I run two kritiks in the NC, one of the V/VC structure, and one of the resolution itself?

This guy is definitely gung-ho. Kritiks are a personal thing among judges. Some like them, some don’t. I don’t, particularly, because I feel that they don’t really argue the content of a resolution, and to not argue the content of a resolution would require an awfully big reason against, and I seldom hear it. Usually people run kritiks because they’re smart and they’ve read something like Nietzsche that could theoretically undermine virtually any position on any resolution, and they figure this will win them some rounds. Originally kritiks were directed by small policy programs against big policy programs, demonstrating that the smaller programs were, by default, unable to compete. The kritik was a tool to level the playing field. Interesting. Nowadays the kiritik is a tool to blitz the opponent semi-unfairly. Or at least that’s the way I see it.

You don’t see many Ks around here anymore, to tell you the truth. A few Nietzsche cases were abroad for a while, but the novelty wore off quickly. Worse, people who didn’t understand how to run the K were trying it, execrably. That is, if your case is a kritik of morals on the grounds that the ubermensch is beyond good and evil, you can’t run this for 5 minutes and then reply line by line to the aff. The ubermensch spits on the aff case, for God’s sake. Instant loss.

Judges might vote on them or not, but they’re probably the most risky strategy around. And, as I say, from my perspective they seem to have gone out of style.

Theory debate - yes or no?

Example: The ICC topic, kids that wouldnt claim to use the ICC to spike out of ICC bad turns were susceptible to claims that they utilized utopian fiat, utopian fiat bad.

Can I have policy implications? A la, "Voting aff will cause [link story] that leads to extinction, avoiding extinction is the supreme moral imperative?"

I haven’t watched many theory debates, so I’m probably the wrong person to answer this. I mean, the ICC example is pretty straightforward to me; call it theory if you want, but it’s also simply a matter of, if you didn’t use THE then you couldn’t make any claims based on THE, period. Why anyone would have run the actual ICC was beyond me, given the inherent flaws, but at the same time they would make claims from the literal protocols of the organization. Doing that was, well, dumb. Defeating it on theoretical grounds? Call it what you want. Just saying in the round some civilized version of “that was dumb” was good enough for me.

Nevertheless, I’d shake off those policy tendencies early in the game. LDers never get nuked. It’s a basic rule of thumb, while policians always get nuked. That’s how we can tell the difference between the two disciplines.

Anyone else have anything to add? This is a fun question.

Feed: More on SCOTUS and voting rights

More on what that Supreme Court case was all about. Sometimes I think Thomas is living in a different dimension, but as I've pointed out in the Feed in the past, underestimate him at your own risk.

[It has been said that] Justice Thomas' declaration that finding Section 5 "no longer constitutionally justified" should be seen not as a "sign of defeat" but rather an "acknowledgment of victory." Superficially, that's very catchy. There are only two problems with it—the facts and the law. On the facts, there is plenty of evidence that American society has not yet entered a post-racial political nirvana. On the law, the point that's completely obfuscated in today's opinions is that the Supreme Court is not writing on a blank slate. More...

FEED: More on Sarkozy and burqas

Laurie Fendrich has, as always, an interesting perspective.

French hostility toward the burqa is said to lie in their concern that the women who wear it are forced to do so (usually by their husbands). Obviously, hidden in this attitude lurks a hefty amount of anti-Muslim sentiment as well. The French are intolerant toward — even suspicious of — religion of any kind spilling over into secular life. Their revolution, unlike ours, was deeply anti-clerical (as well as anti-monarchical and anti-aristocratic), and they used their national razor with a frenzied joy to slice off the head of more than one priest. More...

FEED: Economic rights

P.A.P. is almost always worth repeating. This time the subject is freedom and economic rights.

People who find themselves at the wrong end of unequal freedom don’t have to count on government or private charity. They have a right to those resources necessary for equal freedom. This right has been translated into the concept of economic rights. More...

FEED: Teaching philosophy to prison inmates

I mean, I feel that teaching philosophy to high school freshmen is no breeze either, but they aren't half as tough an audience as this one.

Most of the campus's policies were fairly standard, but announced with much more gravity than I was used to. Failing to take attendance, for instance, is not only a violation of policy but also a felony breach of security. Some of the rules were standard, but laughably inapplicable: No romantic relationships with students — to be conducted where, and with whom, in my all-male class? When I had finished reading the instructor's handbook, I was required to sign and return it. I've taught at many institutions, but had never before seen a top-secret instructor's handbook. More...

FEED: What Happened to Sisterhood?

I'm hardly a Sarah Palin fan, but the idea behind this article is pretty solid.

It took David Letterman a week and a few false starts, but the late-night comedian finally apologized for joking on national television about the statutory rape of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's 14-year-old daughter. Claiming that his crack about Palin's daughter being "knocked up" during a Yankees game by third baseman Alex Rodriguez was "misunderstood" because he intended to mock Palin's 18-year-old daughter rather than her younger one, Letterman ceded that "it's my fault that it was misunderstood." ... It's hard to imagine Letterman making similar cracks about President Barack Obama's daughters, who are not much younger than Palin's, or about Obama's mother, who was an unmarried teenager when she conceived the future president.


FEED: Voting rights

It would appear as if SCOTUS is poised to remove any sort of special treatment based on race from the books. Chief Justice Roberts has certainly made his position clear in the past, that the time has come. The interesting thing here is that, I would imagine, the world would be a better place if it were color-blind. And maybe we're moving toward a color-blind US. But are we there yet? Has the time come?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, acknowledged that the court’s approach stretched the statutory text, but he said the court should avoid deciding hard constitutional questions when it could. “We are now a very different nation” than the one that first passed the Voting Rights Act, he said. “Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today.”More...

FEED: Sarkozy v. burqa

I consider this to be one of the most interesting conflicts around. Religion versus women's rights? Are you willing to say that one side or the other is categorically right? The Times brings us up to date.

President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed Parliament on Monday, laying out a vision of France that included a withering critique of burqas as an unacceptable symbol of “enslavement.”

Speaking at the Palace of Versailles, Mr. Sarkozy confronted one of the most hotly debated social issues in France, saying there was no room in the republic for burqas, the garments that some Muslim women wear to cloak their bodies and faces.

“The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue. It is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women.”


FEED: Journalism in the internet age

(I think this posting got lost yesterday). As printed newspapers slowly transform into some internet thing, the question of journalism per se becomes raised more often. Journalism isn't the simple reporting of what happened; it is the recording of what verifiably happened. For instance, the confusion of news coming out of Iran these days is testament enough to that country's lack of bona fide journalists doing their job. When the Wall Street Journal reported on Apple's Steve Jobs's liver transplant, that was a rather extraordinary piece of journalism. John Gruber, on the blog Daring Fireball, covers it well (with a nod the the Columbia Journalism Review for finding his article).

Gruber: There are several highly unusual aspects to the Journal’s story. First is that they offer no source for the information — not even an “according to sources familiar with the matter”. But yet they state it flatly as certain fact that Steve Jobs had a secret liver transplant in Tennessee. Blockbuster news with no sourcing whatsoever. To call that curious is an understatement. And, coming in the opening paragraph of a page one story, it could not be a careless omission. More...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Calendar quandaries

I started adding Feed articles here a day early. So sue me. I had a little time on my hands Sunday morning.

One thing that occurs to me early on is that the headlines of Feed articles need to be separate from non-Feed, so henceforth I’ll note the former as, surprise surprise, “Feed.” If a subject line says “Feed: Unemployment in Lower Slobovia” then that is a take on an article elsewhere. If the subject lines says “Hair in LD coaching is highly overrated” without the lead of the word Feed, then it’s just me talking without any references to anything else. Literal online references, that is. Everything I write is in reference to something, just not necessarily one particular something in an online article. Got it? Good.

I just learned that next year the first day of Sailor school (Hen Hud, not Annapolis), is 9/9, which by me is halfway into year’s end. Jeesh. Needless to say, this will eliminate any novices from us for the MHLi. Too bad, but not much can be done about it. Our first meeting won’t be till the following Tuesday. Oh, well. At least I can bring a second-year yabbo or two, I hope. My understanding is that Labor Day is as late as it can possibly be this year, hence the late first day of school. We say this every year, that this year the calendar is weird. It seems as if every year the calendar is weird. We’re pretty good at planning and communicating and whatnot, but this coming year is going to be nutty. Late school start (at least for me), dueling tournaments post-Emory, O’C going to Las Vegas to marry Bette Midler instead of running Big Jake (okay, that’s only partly true, and not a very big part)—strange times icumen in.

Possibly the biggest unresolved issue calendar-wise for next season is the Northeast Championships. We have at least three possible scenarios; I won’t confuse you with them now, on the fear that you might believe that any one of them is more likely than any other. A lot depends on how well we are able to resolve the issues outstanding with the NYSFL, which we should know shortly. Then we can attack TNC. I like TNC. I like pulling in schools from Jersey and Massachusetts and Pennsylvania as well as New York for one last brouhaha. This one this year at Needham seemed quite collegial, and now I know where Needham is if, in fact, I ever need ham. Anyhow, I'll update you when there's something to update

Speaking of calendars, though, the html calendar I maintain, plus the Google calendar, are both pretty up-to-date for next year. Feel free to consult them and, for that matter, if you have something you want me to add, let me know. The more the merrier, eh?

Responding to Squarebubble re 2009-10

From the comment:

Okay, first of all, I'm only a sophomore debater, so I'm really looking for advice rather than to prove you wrong. But I disagree with you saying that "a just government ought to guarantee adequate housing for all its citizens" will be an automatic neg win. Obviously, every judge will be predisposed towards neg, but there are still some good neg arguments.
First off, i would make the point that the slums are breeding grounds for crime, prostitution, and diseases. I'm sure i can find a million studies proving that people w/o homes have more diseases, and when they're all crowded together they spread quicker.
Also, having a house will give citizens a better mental attitude, encouraging them to find a job rather than result to a life of crime, etc. I'll find some sort of social theory to help this out. something saying people are generally good, and will always try, etc.
Then i would pull the "all men *and women* are created equal." Its not fair for children to grow up homeless, having less advantages than kids w homes, because their parents made faulty economic choices.
I would also make an observation at the beginning stating that it says "citizens" not "residents." Meaning we don't have to provide it for EVERYONE, esp not illegal immigrants.

I wouldn’t argue (in real life) that it not would be a good thing for governments to guarantee adequate housing for all its citizens, although it wouldn’t be my first choice. I’m a bleeding-heart liberal. I’d like the government to guarantee a lot of things. But that doesn’t mean the government is obliged to do it. In the regular give-and-take of LD resolutions, it is very difficult to prove supererogatory government obligations, hence my comment about neg taking it more often than not. My thoughts originally went no further than that.

On to specifics. It’s really the issue of poverty (and its attendant issue of poor education) that brings us to the bad conditions you suggest. Lack of good housing arises from lack of money, which usually arises from lack of education; that’s the real causal link (although there’s some circularity between the money and the education). The lack of housing per se is of secondary relation to your harms, that is, it is a result of something else. In the past, there have been big-government attempts to eliminate slums and build adequate housing, premised a bit on what you’re saying. Robert Moses led this charge in NYC, and the result was the tearing down of slums and the building of projects that quickly became slums of a different nature. “Better” housing didn’t solve the problems, it just put them in a different building. So I think that not only is your premise wrong, but your solution has already been proven empirically to fail.

Back to the LD side of things, the claim that equality means that everyone is, in fact, equal, is a misreading of the concept. If we were all equal, I would play the cello like Yo-Yo Ma. Societal equality is normally interpreted as my being given the opportunity to play the cello like Yo-Yo Ma; whether I do so or not is up to me. Government’s only obligation to be fair is to provide all of us with equal opportunity to become cellists; government doesn’t have to give us all a cello. Your logic, as I read it, isn’t wrong, but a slippery reading of this material could get you into trouble.

Anyhow, as I said in the original post, it was just a quick take, but as a rule, obligating rights beyond the most basic is a very difficult thing to do in a debate round. The burden on aff here would be a very hard one to pull off. I just don’t think it’s an evenly matched contest.

FEED: Whittling away on the Voting Rights Act

SCOTUS has come down with yet another disturbing decision, made as usual in their belief that legislation is for legislators. That's all well and good, except where law exists to keep the legislators honest.

The Nation: Once an election is done, it is hard to undo.

That's true in Iran, and it's also true in the United States.

This is why it is important to get the rules by which elections are held right before elections are held.

For this reason, one of the essential components of the Voting Rights Act -- arguably its most powerful tool for combating discrimination and disenfranchisement -- has long been a requirement that officials get approval from the Department of Justice before they change the way in which elections are conducted. More...

FEED: CatNats PF redux

I admit to not watching this, but I couldn't resist posting it. It's a YouTube video: Do Americans have a right to healthcare?

The Nation: In part one of a three-part series, The Nation's Washington editor Chris Hayes debates Reihan Salam of The National Review over healthcare. Is it a universal human right, as Hayes says, or a responsibility, as Salam says? What's the best system for implementing healthcare in the United States? Will it save money or cost money? Watch and decide. More...

FEED: Free policy/poverty lectures

From Stefan Bauschard: We have added seven free lectures on the poverty topic and related skills from the Emory National Debate Institute to Planet Debate. More...

FEED: CP on NatNats

This is probably the only tournament around that Palmer (and his software) doesn't run. And he had to go to Birmingham to make it happen.

I’m a total outsider; both the League itself and the local hosts don’t really know me, and so I didn’t have any inside scoops or stories. It’s the one time all year I get to see a tournament from the outside, as most people do. And as such, I have to say, the hospitality, setup, logistics, and everything else were all wonderfully and beautifully done. More...

FEED: Democracy and free speech

This article links freedom of speech with democracy. Good deep background.

Democracy is a power struggle. The participants in this struggle have to be able to express themselves, to present themselves to the electorate, to create a distinct profile for themselves, and to make the electorate familiar with their political program. That’s one reason why democracy needs freedom of expression. More...

FEED: Dire consequences of gay marriage

This pie chart pretty much pins it down.

FEED: Restrictions on corporate free speech

There are times/places where free speech could be curtailed. One must measure the conflicting claims.

PAP: Should people be allowed to enjoy an unlimited right to free speech at work, and be able to ask courts to undo measures (such as sacking or disciplinary measures) which their employer has taken against them as a result of their speech? Or do corporations and government agencies have a right to take measures against employees engaging in certain types of speech, a right which therefore trumps the right to speech? And is there a difference between the rights of corporations and the rights of (certain) government agencies? More...

FEED: Women in Iran

I repost the Feminist Philosophers blog quite often. This is a short take on women in the Iran struggle.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PETA flies

I've cited Fendrich on art at length in the past. Her thoughts are interesting beyond her main area, however. And I often star articles on vegetarianism for reasons that I can't quite explain. It just seems to be, somehow, a rights issue.

LF: In the last couple of years, however, PETA seemed to have let up even on spraying coats and turned instead to publishing gruesome images of animal suffering caused by humans in order to get us to enact animal-protection laws. They seemed to have become almost mainstream, like the Humane Society.

As of today, however, PETA has gone back to their bonkers origins. More...

Child marriages

The P.A.P. blog is one of my favorites. Often they just post facts, and you can draw your own conclusions. Very smart of them. Often it's just a map, like this one, which is scary and enlightening.

PAP: Percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married or in union before the age of 18 (period 1987 to 2006): More...

Judge spreadsheet

This looks interesting.

georgiaforensics has debuted its brand new project – the project connects high school alum to current High School coaches. More...

Why Iran Matters

Andrew Sullivan runs a great blog, which I follow religiously. Even though he and I are usually on different sides of the political spectrum, I tend to either agree with him or at least understand his logic when I don't on most issues. He's been following Iran a lot all week (as have, of course, most people). This article really sums up why very well.

AS: Among the more moving emails I've received these past few days have been from Iranians asking why on earth I seem to care so passionately about what's happening right now. The premise - that somehow Iranians' fight for freedom is a parochial issue that the rest of us should not be concerned with - is heart-breaking. But here's my answer: this is the central event in modern history right now. More...

Menick announces Menick Debate Camp

It will be called Jiminy's Longueur. This is NOT a play on Victory Briefs. Oh, wait. Of course it is.

VJ posted his analysis of next year's topics on WTF. Normally I don't cross-post over there, for the obvious reason that most people read it anyhow and don't need me to point it out to them. But in light of my new Feed approach, you might see a little more of this in the future. Anyhow:

VJ says, re the "Resolved: it is just for highly indebted poor countries to repudiate their debt" rez:
First, it’s a very interesting, literature-rich subject area that’s not often discussed. There is an international relations dimension, a economic justice dimension, and varying philosophical considerations. Second, it’s a big topic, so it is not likely to get stale. Third, it is a great opportunity for debaters to really focus on framework debates over “It is just” since so many topics tend to invite that discussion. Debaters can talk about traditional social contract notions of justice; can explore justice between countries; can discuss the conditions for a “just” contract—what makes a contract enforceable or not; and more importantly, resolve competing frameworks for justice. More...

To be honest, I don't see it. I may have blown it off at first blush, and I don't hate it or anything, but I don't see it as all that LDish. More PF, if you ask me. You've got poor countries someone gives aid to. Do they have to pay it back? It's really hard for me to see underlying philosophical ideas lurking anywhere there. Countries usually give out of a combination of self-interest and charitable urges. At what point is it in anyone's interest, or more to the point, certifiably just, that these "highly indebted poor countries" pay back the money? That's really not what goes on. There is, on the other hand, a big issue nowadays of the value of aid per se, the connection to democracy, etc., but those are not tied to the justice of repayment. By me, this is certainly arguable, I guess, but realistically, while it may be just or may not be, it's just not what it's all about. The idea that this might be the TOC topic, and hence, the topic the rules for most of the second half of the year, does not appeal to me. By VBI teaching it, one assumes that a lot of people will push for it just because they've got a leg up. I hope not. And I hope the Pffft topic people are paying attention, so that they can use it when the statute of limitations elapses in LD.

By the way, there's an explanation of the police accessing your home computer rez in the comments to VJ's piece. At least it explains it, saying that the question is meant to revolve around whether there is any privacy right at all to computer stuff. Problem is, it's still not a good resolution. My apologies to the committee members who voted for it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In the immortal words of Dorothy Parker:

What fresh hell is this?

Well, the thing is, I’ve been giving an awful lot of thought to a particular idea lately, both for debate and for the DJ. It’s an idea premised on a number of assumptions, which I think are pretty true. Boiled down to the essence, my belief is that the internet is a very big place and that it is difficult to get what you need from it. If you feel that you know everything there is to know about the internet, and that you are getting all the information you need from it, you can stop reading now.

Good. That got rid of the total idiots. Nobody left but us honest folks.

There is much to be said for the long tail, an idea (and a book) that I heartily endorse. There are some amazing benefits to be gained in many places from the collaboration of users. On the other hand, there are still benefits to be gained in many places from curators/editors. As educators, we have to become, to some extent, internet curators if we wish to remain relevant (and effective). I could go on at great length about this, but something tells me most people wouldn’t disagree with it.

For the last few months I have been providing the Feed, a raw collection of articles of interest to LD and, occasionally, PF debaters. Some of the articles have been topic-related, some of them have been debate-related, some of them have been just general articles on rights and philosophy. I set myself up in the position of curator/editor of this material not only because I felt that there was a need for it but also because, well, I’m good at that sort of thing. I’ve been an editor since the Polk administration. I’m good at separating wheat from chaff; not perfect, just good.

The problem is, while I know the Feed has a few dedicated followers, it doesn’t have many. I think of it as one of the great resources that no one uses. People aren’t ignoring it out of lack of interest—debaters are, as a group, people with voracious appetites for this sort of information—but rather out of lack of familiarity with the concept of RSS and, I think, the lack of personal warmth in the resulting page if one just goes to the raw feed as a webpage on its own. I don’t blame them, at least on the latter. As for the former, I think of RSS as sliced bread and mother’s milk, but then again, some techies are already forswearing it as the lost wave of the past. Whatever. The point is, the data itself, the articles that I’ve been finding, are worthwhile. I want more people to see them. There’s just too much good stuff getting lost, good stuff that people would really like, if only I could get it to them.

So, I’ve decided to incorporate the Feed into this blog. I will continue to create the Feed (it’s the way I keep track of the articles that I like), but I will also cross-apply them here (ah, debate talk). Not just the raw article, though, because that wouldn’t be much different from the Feed as it already is. No, I will add commentary. Not a lot, but enough to give you a reason to want to read the article. What you’ll get is my commentary, a taste of the article, and then a link to the whole article in its original form. (If I had the skills, I’d simply create a webpage that does exactly what I want; I’m bending an off-the-shelf blog a bit into something it isn’t, but it’s close enough.)

I will, of course, still bloviate here as I always have. Once a day or so I will report on the life and times as usual. Those articles are always posted at 7:30 p.m. during the week. Feed-type articles, on the other hand, will arrive when they arrive. I’m trying this out during the summer because there will no doubt be a bit of fit and start as I figure out the best way to handle it, and off-season is the time to play with new strategy and tactics.

If you’re already a Feed follower, as I say, it will still be there, but you may start seeing double and decide to just follow here. I will probably figure out a way to coordinate this with Twitter as well, but one thing at a time, okay?

This will all start on Monday. In the meanwhile, enjoy these last few quiet hours while you can. The world is marching on whether any of us like it or not.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009-10 rezzes

It’s time for the annual discussion of next season’s LD resolutions. Here at Coachean HQ we have, in recent years, noticed a trend for, at least on first glance, pretty good topics, and even WTF is, so far, applauding this new batch. Let's take a look.

Resolved: Governments have an obligation to pursue and disclose the truth regarding suspected crimes by previous administrations.
This one is a little too specific for my taste, and I doubt if people will care that much about it when it comes time to vote. But maybe they well will. It’s a little ungainly in its wording, and unfortunately goes beyond simply the US, but at the very least it would allow in preparation discussions of the limits of executive power, which is a good subject. Can’t see it working too well in rounds, though, and I doubt if it will get voted in.
Resolved: Public health concerns warrant government violation of pharmaceutical patents.
An old classic in new wording. The way this is phrased it can be applied to all manner of situations. First blush reaction: I’ll vote in favor of it.
Resolved: In the United States, the principle of jury nullification is a just check on government.
Another chestnut. I love discussing the limits of the law. I’ll vote for this. I also like the clean, terse phrasing.
Resolved: It is just for highly indebted poor countries to repudiate their debt.
I know where they’re going with this one, but they haven’t gotten there yet. And I’m intrinsically wary of arguing economics. There has been a lot of data (I’ve put much of it into the Feed) about this subject, one way or the other, but I don’t think it would float in rounds. Reminds me of the old joke: “You owe me ten dollars. Because I’m a gentleman, I’ll reduce it by half.” “And because I’m also a gentleman,” the debtor responds, “I’ll reduce it by the other half.”
Resolved: Economic sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.
Note the old negative in the affirmative trick. But a classic with lots of potential, I think. But the VCA knows I’m a sucker for anything having to do with sovereignty.
Resolved: A just government ought to guarantee adequate housing for all of its citizens.
Well, no, it shouldn’t. And why don’t we just write NEG WIN on all the ballots in advance and get it over with?
Resolved: Public health concerns justify compulsory immunization.
Oh. I actually suggested this to JV (although the committee may have already been thinking about it), based on some wonderful material I had heard on a “This American Life” program. Don’t think bogus (yes, bogus) claims on autism; go plain. Measles. The effects of getting the measles from the vaccine vs getting the measles from an epidemic. Think parental rights. Obviously I like this one.
Resolved: Records of an individual’s home Internet use ought to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure by the government.
For this one we’ll have to ask Rich Edwards to print out ballots with the affirmative already marked as the winner. There is no such thing as negative presumption, but with a topic like this one, I'd go so far as to suggest there’s no such thing as a negative position. I'd be hard-pressed to support people grabbing computers without probable cause, not to mention warrants, any more than I'd be hard-pressed to support police stopping, oh, African-Americans in expensive automobiles, without probable cause and/or warrants. Me, I like my 4th amendment to hold as tight as possible, and don't think we need to renegotiate it.
Resolved: States ought not possess nuclear weapons.
Classic. Betcha it’s Finals. And betcha some yabbo defines states to include Rhode Island. (With luck, Duby will judge the round and post his reaction on Facebook.)
Resolved: Compulsory inclusion of non-felons’ DNA in any government database is unjust.
Now that’s an interesting subject. A little broad, but definitely possible.

So, again, a list with a couple of non-starters, but overall, pretty solid. Good work, folks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another night shot to hell

Life stops when you get a new computer. This is why you need to do it at some point in your life where stopping it won’t matter much. Off-season, during the week, at night, in space, where no one can hear you scream…

Loading some things is easy. You’ve got the disk around, you stick it in, and there you are. With Apple, networking was easy too, and I barely batted an eye before I was sharing printers and disk drives like the proverbial house afire. Other things aren’t so easy. First of all, you’ve got to remember them in the first place (e.g., the FTP software), and then you’ve got to remember where you’ve put them, and what your stored passwords are, yadda yadda yadda. I mean, I have records of all my passwords (none of which, if you must know, are obscure Star Wars references), but one accrues logins and pws over time like barnacles on the ship of computing, and you can find them easily enough, but scraping them requires a certain brute force (I have no idea how that metaphor applies). And of course there’s software to download, like good old Tweetie. (All right, make that good new Tweetie.) Then there’s all the photos I’ve been meaning to put on Flickr. Etc., etc., etc. This is the straightforward stuff that nevertheless is a big time suck. And, by the way, you can’t plug two computers into the same socket at the same time: who knew?

Then there’s the less straightforward stuff, to wit, the virtualization software. I thought I’d give VirtualBox a go, being that it’s Open Source and all, but it ultimately defeated me. There is just too much work doing things like getting the USB ports to work and the like, not to mention a warning from Batterman that he couldn’t get printers to work, which might hinder one a tad at the various tournaments one is running, which is, of course, the only reason I’m doing this whole PC on the Mac thing in the first place, to get TRPC on there. Before I even got to the point of dumping VirtualBox I had to go through an incredible song and dance with Windows. First there was the XP disk for the Vista computer; if you opted for XP instead of Vista, the tag on the computer was still for Vista even though they loaded XP on there, which meant phoning home (i.e., registering the perfectly legal software) was a no go. Then I tried some various versions of Windows 98, perfectly acceptable for old time TRPC use. The damned thing hung after an hour of upload strife. Finally I found my own old XP that I was actually able to register with the Redmond mother ship, at which point all the VirtualBox problems became manifest. CP had suggested VMware Fusion, which, for $39 on Amazon, was an immediate no-brainer. I logged in (Amazon not knowing who I was on the new computer didn’t slow me for a second), threw in a copy of Nigel Warburton’s Very Short Introduction to Free Speech (the beauty or burden of having a shopping list) and called it a night. After playing a tad of Civ 4, that is. Damn, but that Civ is still the best game ever.

When all was said and done I went up and read a little Anathem. You would have done the same.

BTW, I’m still open to names for the new little sucker. No obscure Star Wars references, though, please. I just can’t take them, at this point.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My bouche was definitely amused

Been going crazy with one thing or the other, including great misadventures loading Windows on [insert clever name for new Mac here]. Everything tends to go off the rails when you get a new computer, what with having to get it up to speed with data and apps and whatnot; what I really need is a day off for me and the little fellow to spend some quality time. Too bad I work for a living. Fills up the day and sort of tires you out by night as well.

I know. Your heart goes out to me.

I never did get to discuss the high point of last week, which was “My Dinner with O’C (action figures sold separately).” The thing is, I talk about him a bit at the chez, and I thought it might not be a bad idea if my wife got to meet him and put a face to the name. The good news was that the O’C clan apparently is big on bidding on charity offerings (rumor has it that they’re richer than the Madoffs), and one of the prizes they’ve amassed over the millennia was a free dinner for two at this upscale restaurant on the West Side, Teleplan, which sounds like the payment system for cable TV, but, well, isn’t. It was quite the place. Everything was way more than a cut above, and a lot better than O’C and I usually eat (think random tab room; think “if you really expect me to eat that Jiffy Sub, I am going to have to kill you”). House-smoked trout, carbonara with what looked like a raw pheasant egg, pork every-which-way, crème brulee (of course). The wine steward kept coming by (there were course pairings) with these remarkably poetic descriptions of fruits and vegetables that each wine had suspicions of, and since I wasn’t driving home, I can report that I actually forgot at one point where O’C had gone to college, which is like forgetting whether he has an award ceremony at his tournament. And my wife got to hear him admit that he actually didn’t like a Lucas production (“Clone Wars”) which did not at all gibe with the prepress on the guy. He kept apologizing when, once or twice, we went off on debate conversation tangents. As if the mother of our daughter is not used to people occasionally wandering off on debate conversation tangents. Anyhow, the whole thing was a lot of fun, and apparently one of O’C’s relatives has tickets to meet Bette Midler in Las Vegas this October. He’s taking all of us (including you!). Start packing now.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New computer for me, potential crappy prize for you

So here it is, my new MacBook Pro, 13-inch persuasion. I went into Best Buy first for a last look at netbooks, which would have saved me a fortune, but in the end, I couldn’t embrace any of them. One or two of them have reasonably usable keyboards (most don’t), and I’m sure they’d be serviceable enough for email and TRPC, but after that, plenty of nothin’. I’ve already got an underpowered PC in the house, and I can continue to use that for tournaments. While I was there, I saw that BB also sells Macs. The salesman was giving some poor schlub a pitch that was, as far as I could tell, completely bogus (especially since he was selling him a discontinued model). Not that I would think of buying much of anything from a Best Buy, but even less now. I almost picked up the new Tiger Woods Wii golf game with nifty new controller while I was there, but I didn’t want to give them any of my money. So it goes.

So I moseyed over to the Apple store in the same mall and did my best not to buy anything. It was clear to me early on that my original sense that 13 inches was right was going to prove out. I mean, I have a 17-inch screen in the office, which is great for page-setting and other day job functions, but it weighs the proverbial ton when I lug it home for whatever reason. I played with the 15-incher for a while, and compared it, and I just didn’t like it as much. Money was not an issue (once you’re buying computers and spending money like crazy, it’s like Las Vegas where it’s all chips and entirely meaningless). Feel and convenience were everything. I didn’t even worry about Apple’s notorious 1.0 issues, given that this was just a line extension and not a totally new product. Plus, I got the educational discount and a free Touch (and hence a happy daughter) and a discount on iWorks, and although I asked the salesman to talk me out of it, he was not accommodating, and I walked out with all of this in a tiny plastic bag across my shoulders. Damn, but these Apple people have their packaging down to an art. They are the masters of the bright, shiny object.

The process of setting up a computer isn’t what it used to be. Keep in mind that my first computer was an Apple II+ in, I think, 1981. Used to be you had to at the very least put in a disk or something, if not actually master the thing’s inner assembly language. Now you plug the thing in, turn the thing on, connect to the network, and you’re in business. I share everything from Little Elvis, which has now become my fileserver slash jukebox. Remote disk storage, remote printing (I tried a printer plugged directly into an Airport but just keeping it plugged into Little E was easier and allowed multiple choices), remote iTunes library, remote sitting around doing whatever it is I do. Of course, there was some startup business. I had to load iWorks (that took a good two minutes). I had to get Tweetie set up, and Firefox, although, huzzah! Safari finally works for me again. I started looking at Sun’s VirtualBox, which is an Open Source system for running other OSs (like Windows, for TRPC). I didn’t download it, because I’ve got to find my Windows software disk, which is around here somewhere. And I’m still on the fence about if I really want to sully up the new machine with such an old kludge as Windows XP. We’ll see.

The biggest and, I guess, only problem is the new computer’s lack of a name. Little Elvis came about in answer to La Coin’s similar machine, which she called Emma, which was way too literary for me, unless she was just referring to her machine as Emma because she liked the name or something, which, if it’s true, I don’t want to know about it. The name Little Elvis does not really evolve into any new name I can think of. “Less Little Elvis” or “Bigger Elvis” just doesn’t have that ring to it. So, if someone can come up with something, there will be a crappy prize in it for you. Let me know.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Video fans worldwide rejoice, etc.

So for reasons that elude me completely, I decided I desperately needed a Flip. I just opened the box. I bought an older model that takes regular batteries; I don’t know why, but the idea of built-in batteries didn’t sit right with me (says the guy staring longingly at the MacBook Pro). My plan is not, I promise, to start doing this blog as a video. I don’t know what my plan is, to tell you the truth, beyond playing with a new toy. We’ll see.

I’m thinking that I should turn on AIM for one hour a day. Like the hour I’ll be at home and receiving visitors. Otherwise just leave your card in the silver tray. Speaking of AIM, I noticed that O’C appears, IMs, then wanders off. Just like real life.

We’re hoping to set up a meeting to resolve issues over the NYS tournament. In-person is probably the best way to do things. Maybe the last weekend of June. If one operates from the assumption that we all want to do what is best for our debaters, we might indeed solve most of our differences. Fingers crossed.

I’ve heard back from MB South about the coaches discussion site, and MB West promises to respond during the down time at NatNats. Given that NatNats has more down time than a goose factory, I should be hearing from him quite soon. [Aren’t you glad you didn’t have to put in your own metaphor there for a change. I’m feeling frisky today.] I’ve got a feeling that nothing but good is going to come out of this. (Parenthetically, I’ve passed my proposal along to CP, whose input can only make it better. His first reaction was to let in the speech coaches. MB West’s reaction to that was NSFW, but as CP says, a coach is a coach is a coach, or at least he said something like that, it was in AIM, which I’m obviously still attempting to get the hang of.) I did sort of promise not to argue all the issues here, but to stick with arguing them directly with 2MB, which is hard, but I’ll do my best.

We’re in the season of coach moves, and good news around here is that the Edgemont program, which Ben Wittwer has been leading strongly, will pass into the hands of former Lakelander Matt Mallia when Ben moves on to law school. And Brian Manuel, a familiar polician face, will be assisting a bit at that very Lakeland venue. Waiting to hear what happens up in the land of the Albino Bagel, et (a few) alia. One always bites one’s nails worrying that a program might go orphaned, but then again there’s glimmers of new life in places like Harrison, where He Who Fills in Every Inch of the Ballot is putting together a new team. We’ve got a new deal where any new team gets a free ride for the year in the MHL. Not bad. Thinking of putting together a new team of your own? Heh, heh, kiddo, the first one is free…

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tournaments galore!

Busy days here at the O.K. Corral. I thought debate was supposed to let up after the season was over.

Of course, nothing much has to do with debaters per se, although I have a couple of big projects I need to address, to wit, updating my Pfffft materials and working on a theory project. (Stop snorting at that last item. Theory in debate is meaningful; often it is unarticulated, and/or intuitive. There’s nothing wrong in pinning some of it down. What I’m against is arguing dueling “theories” within a round, i.e., setting the rules of the game during the game. That’s a different business altogether.) I mention these things here because, by noting them, I attach to myself some accountability for achieving them. I don’t do everything I say I’m going to do, but I do a lot of it, which I think is pretty good, considering.

By the way, O’C has an AIM screen name that, he says, is an obscure Star Wars reference. I was shocked, shocked to hear it.

Anyhow, the non-debaters-per-se business that is absorbing the time is mostly backend stuff on upcoming tournaments. The Quaker Oatfest seems to be leading the charge. They have put together an invite, which is about to go live. It’s Kaz and I running debate tab (a fine team, if I do say so myself), good schedule, community judge ranking (which I love), an eager and competent staff of Quakers—this one is seems to be well on target, under CP’s usual collegiate oversight. There’s been the sad issue of the competing tournaments on the weekend pre-Oatfest, and not much to be done about it. There’s been the setting up of the MHL venues (I just put a school in and then taken it out for the December event, the weekend I’m down with the Tiggers). What remains are the culmination events at the end of the season, to wit, TNC and whatever happens vis-a-vis NYSFL. Coming up with what could be called an agreeable solution to these may not be easy, but an agreeable solution is what everyone wants. We’ll see if that’s where we end up. I certainly hope so.

And I have to wrestle CP to the ground on Twitter, so to speak. I’ve got @tabroom, which is, in my opinion, pure gold. Apparently he’s got all sorts of pyrite subsets like @tiggertabroom and @bullpupstabroom and @lumberjacksexchangetabroom (okay, that last one used to be real, and yes, there’s a trick in it), but if you ask me, one ring to rule them all makes more sense. The thing is, for all his techiness, CP is not twittery. Not that Twitter is necessarily technical, but it has complexities that I’m beginning to think I understand (a sure sign that I’m about to get lost completely). Maybe I’ll use that newfangled instant messaging stuff to hash it out with him, goldarn it! I mean, I’ve learned how to tell IM people I’m not around even when I am, so I’m definitely a true master of the medium already. Maybe I should actually start using it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

O RLLY? LOL, BFF. C U L8R. (Translation: "Ou est la bibliotheque?")

I want you to be (almost) the first to know. I now have an AIM account.

Oh joy. Oh rapture.

Given how many different variations of my name I had to go through to get it, I suspect that I’ve had this account, or something very much like it, in the past. After all, I was a loyal AOLian for many years, back when it was cool (yes, once upon a time AOL was cool, but you’re probably not old enough to remember that) through when it bought Time Warner and went mainstream and all the techies deserted through when it was so uncool that it was supremely cool until that magic moment when it finally allowed the average working stiff to stop paying without having to hire a Wall Street legal team, which is when I bailed out, so I've missed out on the present day when Time Warner is finally able to consider leaving its rotting, maggoty carcass by the side of the superhighway. And I do remember distinctly my abortive use of IM back in the day, when I kept getting so annoyed by this one person in particular that I (metaphorically) threw it out the window and (metaphorically) never looked back.

Now I’ve got it again, primarily because two people in one week cursed me for not having it, a personal record (for being cursed for not having IM capability, not for being cursed per se, in which the number two doesn’t even get honorable mention). I may have been softened up a bit by Twitter, which is simply IM on steroids. I don’t know. But there are some issues that require more conversation than not, especially trying to iron out with 2MB the coaches online project. So far I’ve been instantly chatting away to MB (California branch), but that’s about it. I tried to connect to O’C, but he’s too busy texting me on my phone. (That doesn’t sound right.) Which brings up the issue, when I’ve been reading the documentation, that I can use AIM on my phone to text people. I mean, I can text people without using AIM… Whatever.

Anyhow, you can reach me at menickdebate, until which time as I get tired of being reached and block you. Or vice versa.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Everybody wins?

CP in his latest blog entry writes about coaches who will do anything to take tin, a phenomenon that I have always marveled at. While I can understand O’C’s belief that trophies are useful in convincing administrations to keep the money coming, there is definitely something else afoot among some people that transcends the tin and goes straight to the heart of winning something. I’ve have often talked about the small group of college students who are still trying to win TOC when they should be dating other college students; I am not fond of these children, but at least I understand them. Growing up is a little scary, so the idea that you might be wary of it is, at least, recognizable. But there are (chronological) adults out there with a similar mentality, and they really can’t cash in on the excuse of maintaining a semi-reasonable hold on immaturity.

I wonder if some of this stems from the “self-esteem” boom of the 70s. This was the period when we began to believe that competition was bad and that effort alone was good, and that all effort should be rewarded equally. That’s a tough area, because we do want to educate children to believe that effort, even if it doesn’t win a prize, can be fulfilling. But the solution—to give everyone a prize—was bogus, and deflated the value of prizes, and of competition. There’s nothing wrong with competition per se, but there can be plenty wrong with competition at the expense of virtue. Competition has value, and that value lies in the competing, not only in winning. But that’s a tough lesson to teach, so we came to the conclusion that we shouldn’t have to teach it. This is not far removed from the parents who do not raise their children as parents but as extended friends, incapable of discipline. Children need friends and parents; parents who abdicate their role as the adults in the operation are not doing their kids a service. And teachers who abdicate their role as the adults in the operation are similarly not doing their students a service.

The value of forensics is best seen not in the student who wins all of his or her events, but in the student who learns and grows by simply participating in events. I’ve said this before. It’s no great achievement for a coach to take a natural and have that natural win. It is a great achievement for a coach to take an unnatural and have that unnatural learn some stuff that would have otherwise been unavailable. And that has absolutely nothing to do with trophies. I love to see the Sailors succeed competitively, but that’s not my goal, although it’s a nice plus when it happens. My goal is to develop marginally more ethical people who are capable of having a point of view and expressing it clearly (a very rare skill, believe me, especially if there’s a sense of ethics underlying it). This is a good thing to bring into society. Students who have won a lot of trophies is a relatively neutral thing to bring into society.

If you’re a coach, and you don’t see it that way, or you act in such a fashion that I can’t tell you see it that way, then I just don’t understand you.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Comings and goings

I’ve got all these things that I need to do, and summer, with its suggestion that one need do nothing, keeps pulling me away.

Got to concentrate. Got to concentrate.

I sent out a proposal for a coaches’ website to 2MB, which is Maggie in one direction and Bietz in the other. It is hugely convenient that they share initials. If everyone shared initials, the world would be an easier place to get around in, although we would often not know to whom we are referring. Anyhow, that’s one notch on the old to-do gunstock. Plenty more need to be added.

For those who aren’t aware, good old JP has moved out to Californy, leaving his previous gig (and a job opening) at The Home of the Albino Bagel. Nice country up there if you like that New England sort of thing. And the school has been a big supporter of forensics since forever, back when Tim Averill was (more) around. It is always problematic when a coach moves on, especially when, unlike with Manchester-Essex, one suspects that the only reason a program existed in the first place was the existence of that coach. In our lonely little northeast, where forensics is extracurricular, continuity can be difficult. Anyhow, best wishes to Jonathan, and good luck to M-E in finding a new coach.

No doubt there will be other personnel adjustments by next season. There usually are. I do understand, however, that there is no truth to the rumor that O’C is transferring to Starfleet Academy, although not for lack of desire on his part. He did just note on his Facebook page, however, that he’s downloading the complete soundtrack of Ms. Pac-Man or somesuch. More grist for the tabroom music mill, I guess. Please join me in avoiding the complete soundtrack of Ms. Pac-Man or somesuch, for as long as possible.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Loyal members of the VCA are well aware that, in fact, not only don't I not like everybody, which was implied in yesterday's post, but that there are some people whom I would mightily enjoy seeing going down for the third time in a vat of motor oil. The slogan for this blog is not a mere accident.

I apologize to those people I do not like for suggesting otherwise. And I promise to continue treating you with all due reprehension in the future. Yesterday I was simply carried away on a cloud of bonhomie.

It will not happen again.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Raison d'etre

CP wrote a most lugubrious post on commitment to debate, and I’d have commented on it directly if his blog allowed comments, but his basic mantra is, if you have an opinion on something he says, keep it to yourself.


It does, perhaps, behoove those of us who do this for no discernible reason to, on occasion, attempt to explain ourselves. If that explanation causes us to stop doing it, however, then that could be a problem. That’s not really Chris’s case, though. He does a hell of a lot through tabroom.com and the organization of the college venues, and if you ask me, that’s more than enough behind-the-scenes work for any one person, and he intends to keep doing that. He is more bemoanful of the other responsibilities that seem to accrue to people like him who are willing to take on responsibilities. This is a fact of life, that some people tend to do more stuff than other people, and the people who do more stuff end up doing even more stuff, until sooner or later they can’t do any more. In situations like Chris’s or mine, where there is a Day Job to be considered, one has to set limits. I encourage that he set limits where 1) he is concentrating on the important non-forensic elements of his life to the proper extent, and 2) that he stick with some forensic elements of his life, also to a proper extent, because he has been one of the great motivators of good in the activity. And I guess 3) that he leave enough time beyond important and meaningful and businesslike to have some fun, some R&R outside of all of it. I’m a firm believer in getting down and getting into things. I’m also a firm believer in getting up and getting out of things once in a while. Batteries need recharging, and lives need vast inputs from as many stimuli as possible. It’s great when your main activities provide that stimuli, but it’s always good to go beyond the expected and the everyday. That’s what life is all about.

Anyhow, if someone wonders about my own commitment, i.e., why the hell someone who is not a professional educator devotes as much time and effort to this, well, it works for me. Debate is, for me, the unexpected stimuli in a life that, quite honestly, already had plenty of stimuli in it. I started doing it simply to support my daughter, but I stuck with it because I was, at the time, interested in community service, and this happened to be there. It’s a good personal fit for me, drawing on skills I already had from my experience as an editor. And I firmly believe that the skills that debaters get, which are virtually unavailable anywhere else in their official education, are among the most important they will acquire at this point in their lives. I find satisfaction in helping them acquire those skills. It’s as simple as that.

I don’t think I’d be so active in the community as a whole, however, if we didn’t have, as CP points out, an awfully good group of eggs running things in the region. Our traveling tab room comprises people I really like, without exception. I look forward to hanging out with everyone when I can, because they’re good and interesting people. If we didn’t have our excellent, congenial group of coaches in the region, I’d probably be a lot quieter and just work with the students. I’m lucky. I like the students and I like the adults. That’s rare for me. I usually don’t like much of anybody. And now I get to like all sorts of people. I guess it’s because, as I say, debate is a good fit for me. I did, admittedly, debate a little in high school (and pretty successfully, until I started working after school). I guess I have a debater’s brain, as do most of the rest of us. So I feel at home with this bunch, young and old.

If I wasn’t doing this? Beats me. I wouldn’t be golfing more, I’ll tell you that, or goofing around more. I’d have found something productive, because I like productivity. More novels, maybe? Literature’s loss is debate’s gain? Anyhow, I have said that I’ll cut back a little bit this year, because I do need to keep a couple of those non-debate, non-business weekends open to keep from going crazy. But other than that, I’m in for the duration. I mean, if I were to leave, I wouldn’t be able to torture O’C anymore. That, alone, is worth all effort.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Early release of NYC Invitational sked

We here at Coachean HQ have gotten an early copy of the Big Jake schedule for ’09, and we’re happy to share it. Keep in mind that it is still tentative; don’t use it to organize your airplane ticket purchases.

October 16 (Friday)
1:00-3:00 Registration
3:30 Opening Assembly
3:45 Award Ceremony for Past Performance -- featuring awards not presented in ‘08 that have been moldering ever since in the basement
4:00 Round 1 (all divisions)
6:00 Random Draw Award Ceremony – Achievement awards for all those advancing from Round 1
6:30 Dinner in cafeteria (featuring foods of all nations not presently suffering from a famine)
7:00 Dinner Award Ceremony – Achievements in both eating and cooking will be honored
8:00 Round 2 (all divisions)
10:00 Housing in auditorium

October 17 (Saturday)
7:30 Housing Award Ceremony (A) – Achievement in sleeping, showering and brushing of teeth (for those who traveled more than one hour to their housing)
8:00 Housing Award Ceremony (B) – Achievement in sleeping, showering and brushing of teeth (for those who traveled less than one hour to their housing)
8:30 Round 3 Flight A
9:15 Award Ceremony – Achievement in Round 3 Flight A
9:30 Round 3 Flight B
10:15 Award Ceremony – Achievement in Round 3 Flight B
10:30 Coffee break (featuring coffees of all nations that grow coffee humanely, if any)
11:00 Round 4
1:00 Lunch in cafeteria (featuring foods of all nations where the “Star Wars” films have grossed over a billion dollars)
1:30 Award Ceremony – Honoring those who put their napkins in their laps during the eating of lunch
2:00 Round 5
5:00 Non-Award Assembly – The auditorium is there, let’s all go into it for a few minutes and pretend something is happening. Anyone caught playing the piano at this assembly will be shot.
5:30 Early Bird Dinner in cafeteria (featuring foods of all nations that serve cheap evening meals to senior citizens when the rest of the world is still finishing off lunch)
6:00 Award Ceremony – Honoring those who respect Senior Citizens, unless the senior citizens are judging, in which case they throw parker house rolls at them
7:00 Bronx Achievement Award Ceremony – honoring those who have shown up at Big Jake more than just a couple of times, and whose registration checks haven’t bounced
8:00 Some Round (we’ve lost track)
10:00 Housing in the auditorium. Watch your step. There’s going to be a lot of awards scattered around and you don’t want to trip over any of them.

October 18 (Sunday)
8:00 Round 7 or so
10:00 Award Ceremony to honor anyone who actually shows up at this award ceremony
10:30 Announcement of advancing debaters
10:45 Award Ceremony for advancing debaters
11:00 Announcement of non-advancing debaters
11:15 Award Ceremony for non-advancing debaters
11:30 Service Award Ceremony
for custodial staff, food vendors, Big Jake Parents’ Association, Big Jake Alumni Association, Big Jake Former Felons Association, etc
12:00 Elimination Rounds begin. (Please note: in the interest of moving things along quickly, awards for the elimination rounds will be given in the rounds. It’s not that we don’t like awards ceremonies, but we do not wish to go overboard.)