Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paisans, pastas, Passchendaele, pas de deux, p-p-p-p....

My guess is that I will have 3 solid newbies by April. The betting window is open, if you want a piece of this action. After last night’s browbeating, we increased the number of official members by 0. Zero. Nil. Ixnay on the embersmay. My forehead is scarred from beating it against the wall.

Speaking of Sailors, LPW, by hook or by crook, has managed to swing his way into Big Jake, thanks to regrooving on Stealth’s part vis-à-vis the PSATs (short for pissants, I think—what do I know, I mean, this is only my night job). I keep waiting for pissant (cf puissant, which my spellcheck would have me prefer, which hardly means the same thing) awareness to strike the others of my juniors, but so far, they are blissfully preferring Big Jake to Little Pissants. Whatever.

Somehow I worked myself into temporary hysteria this morning over the strike list for the Pups, until I realized that I was looking at my own version of an old list and that my mind was going, no doubt as a result of some mad cow encounters in Paris back in the early 90s. (Nicole and Brianne, Sailors emeritus presently in the City of Light, will, I hope, stick to les poissons—not to be confused with pissants or puissance, although now the spellchecker wants me to type poisons—Jeesh!)

This has to be the most jumbled bunch of writing I’ve done in a while. Obviously I am just too excited over the forthcoming podcast with MB and O’C. A waiting world is atwitter.

Speaking of Twitter, this morning I tweeted the first DebateTab message regarding the Pups, just to see. Worked fine—my phone rang about a minute later. I promise to keep these to a minimum, but they are sort of fun. Sample conversation:
Tweet: Go here.
New tweet: No, wait, go there.
Newer tweet: Some people go both ways, where are you?
Etc., etc., etc.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

X*4?, Born to Compute, Hotel Bump (featuring towels!)

I have been accused by CP of tabbing ineptitude. The nerve of this guy! I was tabbing before he was born. I was tabbing by index cards before they invented personal computers. Before they invented index cards, I was there tabbing when all we had was rocks. You’d move the rocks around in the brackets…very good for upper body tone. Anyhow, just because I can’t do the math on the number of judges required for double flights does not mean I can’t run out for Diet Cokes and disappear for three hours when it’s time to enter the ballots. Jeesh! This guy is incredible.

Of course, the Pups is merely a distraction from this year’s lack of official novices. One has signed up, and that’s it. Others pretend to be a part of the team, but they are invisible to me until they’re on the listserver. Maybe they really did quit. We’ll find out tonight at the meeting. If it’s this hard getting them to send me an email, I’ll bet getting them to fill out the medical and permission slips will be a true deal-breaker. Those who opine on how today’s students are so much more technological than today’s adults need to come by and meet a few students of my acquaintance. Jeesh yet again. Maybe it’s because I appointed the wrong novice coordinators. I would have thought the PC and the Panivore would be perfect. Little did I know…

Bump is moving along, meanwhile. We’ve actually got a cheap rate on a hotel! It’s a little further than the usual in Peekskill, but it’s hard to argue with a nice place that’s $79 a room. And the food and the judges’ lounge are both launched. As usual Dave will take care of the candy tables; he has an uncanny ability to find cheap soda no one wants to buy, although as he says, it really is cheap. He was not an economics major in college, methinks. Speaking of judges, a number of former Sailors are returning to the roost, so there will be some souls for sale, and a nice post-tournament dinner. Rumor has it that there’s a new Indian restaurant in the neighborhood. Time for a research trip! I have nothing against India House but they close awfully early. Most restaurants in Sailorville close awfully early, for that matter. Makes one jealous of those city folks.

And tomorrow night we’ll be recording the first TVFT V2.0. We live in exciting times, don’t we?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Electronics Weekend

For those of us who think that reading the manual is for chumps, there are certain programs that make one’s head hurt. Garageband is one of those programs. You can’t just go in and make things happen, or at least not any things worth happening. The so-called manual I have only tells you how to take instrument lessons (?), but that at least inspired me to hook up my piano (I’ve got a Yamaha Clavinova) and download the drivers and whatnot. I proceeded to play a fairly simple line and then sat on the comfy chair subbing in different sounds until I got something that wasn’t totally embarrassing. I then sent it to MB and O’C. We now call this “The Theme from TVFT.” You’ll hear it when Episode One: Clone Coaches is posted. Meanwhile, I gotta get a better manual.

Having time on my hands this weekend (for the last time, as noted previously, until Thanksgiving), I then was inspired to install Roller Coaster Tycoon on Vegas Elvis (which, by the way, now has that as its official name, which I do not intend to change again). I remember all the happy hours spent building coasters and paths and cleaning up vomit and whatnot back in the day, and wanted to revisit that simpler time of my life. Went into Fusion, which had an update, which I installed, then I tested TRPC, which still works (whew!), then I noticed I hadn’t installed the update a couple of weeks ago because I was afraid that it wouldn’t work and I didn’t want to go to Yale with an Elvisian brick, a thought that obvious no longer bothered me (screw you, Pups!), then I installed RCT, which ran ass backwards for about 15 minutes until I finally gave up and uninstalled it, followed by half an hour of trying to get the right display settings back. Again, something tells me that a dabble in the (unfortunately non-existent) manual might have helped, but time is short. I’d rather spend it cursing the darkness than lighting candles. When I started out in the personal computer game, they packed manuals into the box like nobody’s business. Nowadays, the box is smaller than the computer they put into it. Elegant, but intellectually unsatisfying. Oh, well.

A note, by the way, on computer/video games. I love them. I buy them. I install them. I never play them because I don’t have the time. I’m a born sucker.

I did pop into an Apple store over the weekend, on the hunt for an improved backpack for Vegas Elvis, but instead ended up with a more compact speaker set for tab room use, one that fully connects to the Touch (which has a different connector than previous iPods, meaning that it will play but not charge on my other speakers, which is kind of moot given that I usually play the MegaPod anyhow and not the Touch, but logic is not informing any of this discussion, obviously). Drop by at Yale and I’ll play you the new Los Lobos Disney album, which combines two of my favorite things (really). They do an especially kick-ass Ugly Bug Ball… The smaller speakers mean that my new Hardware Engineer won’t break her back lugging it around, as she might have previously. You see, I look out for my students. I keep them fit and healthy so that they can carry all my stuff week in and week out. Not for me the faint of heart, the weak of limb. I make ‘em tough and I keep ‘em tough. It’s a Sailor tradition.

I did bid a fond farewell to the Babycakes portion of our program over the weekend. I will no doubt refer to Babycakes henceforth on a regular basis, but not to the exclusion of all else. If they had been Acme Baked Goods or Vassar Pastries, of course, you wouldn’t have heard a peep out of me. But at the point where they became Babycakes, well, who could resist? Not me, not by a long shot. That’s just the way I roll…

(“That’s just the way I roll?” I don’t write sentences like that. Who am I, and what have I done with Menick?)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Breaking news: Menick declares end to Babycakes jokes

(Montrose, NY) Debate coach, blogger and all-round nice guy Jim Menick announced tonight that he is declaring an end to his idiotic string of Babycakes jokes. "It's not that some of them weren't funny," the grumpy old timer explained, "especially the hidden Kanye West reference, but there comes a time when you just have to move on." Menick claimed that the threat of lawsuits from Jon Cruz, Stuyvesant High School, Barack Obama, and Cruz's mother had nothing to do with this decision. "I was making Matt Thomas happy," Menick stated. "That was what it was all about in the first place." It is unclear whether Matt Thomas will join the crowd and threaten a lawsuit of his own.

On hearing that the jokes were ending, Jon Cruz removed the Sherman tank he had driven up onto Menick's front lawn. Persons close to the scene report that Menick is recovering peacefully from his wounds by watching his newly acquired DVD of Howard the Duck Part IV: The Confit Wars.

( In a related story coming out of Orlando, Florida, Walt Disney World has reported that they are replacing all their hidden Mickeys with hidden Kanyes. It is unclear whether Menick will be able to claim any royalties on this idea, but God knows he'll try.)

Obama announces escalation on the war on Babycakes

(Washington, DC) President Barack Obama, taking time off from screwing up health care and turning the US into a communist soviet satellite, announced today that he is escalating the war on Babycakes started by his predecessor, George W. ("Waterboard") Bush. "The threat of Babycakes is the number one problem facing our nation today," Obama stated. "That and, maybe, the addition of Ellen deGeneres to the panel of American Idol."

The Department of Homeland Security immediately raised the Babycakes alert level from penuche to chocolate. Citizens were warned that the hording of tart fillings would be considered a federal offense.

"The idea that Babycakes could invade American borders is what scares me more than anything," claimed noted Stuyvesant High School debate coach Jon Cruz. "It was bad enough when all I had to worry about was my mother invading my Facebook page. And now this!"

Cruz's mother was unavailable for comment.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Breaking news!!!

The debate coach formerly known as Cruz has officially changed his name to Jonathan Babycakes.

"It always felt strange when kids called me Mr. Cruz," the newly minted Mr. Babycakes explained. "It made me feel so...old. But being known as Mr. Babycakes is just like being eternally young. It's put the spring back into my step, the gas into my tank, the meringue into my—"he winked at this point—"babycake."

Response to the news varied throughout the debate community. The Board of Locksmiths at Emory is uncertain whether the key given to Mr. Cruz last year also applies to Mr. Babycakes, while Jim Menick of Hendrick Hudson is faced with the daunting task of renaming the annual Jon Cruz Award Given Every Year to Jon Cruz for No Apparent Reason. "I'm thinking of calling it the Smurfette," Menick reported. "I mean, who knows? Mr. Babycakes might change his name yet again before settling on something for the duration."

Officials at Bronx Hiya Howyadoin Science were unavailable for comment.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The View from Tab Version 2.0?

Last night Bietz and O’C and I played around with the technology at hand prefatory to creating a podcast. This was my first experience with Skype, which is as easy as babycakes pie. As Bietz had promised, it’s just like IMing. Click on a name and the next thing you know, you’re chatting away. You can also see the person if they have video, so for a while MB and I got to see each other’s smiling phiz, but when we added O’C, three phizzes seemed to be one too many, or else O’C’s phiz was specifically banned from the interwebs. Whatever.

To do this right you need a couple of things. Most importantly, you need a good microphone. MB and I both already have such things, since we’ve both podcasted before, but O’C has to run out to the delicatessen and pick one up ASAP because any alternative provides too much extra white noise. Then, you need headphones, which everybody has a million of, but it is preferable that you look like a total nerd to get it right. MB and I had no trouble with that, and although we never did get to see O’C, the idea that he might look like a total nerd…? Not hard to imagine, nosirreebob, not hard at all.

The next thing you need is some way to capture the audio. Now there are programs that will do that, at various levels of complexity and cost, but we’re going to try a suggestion MB picked up using GarageBand (a Mac gimme, if you’re a PC person and have no idea what that is). You each record your own track and then you sync them in post production; simple enough if the sync is right. I recorded my own track last night for a while and it was clear as the proverbial bell. The assumption is that this gives us the best audio short of truly professional equipment.

We’re going to record Episode 1 next week. I’ll put it out over iTunes via The View from Tab, since I’ve already got that RSS feed, and I’ve created a similarly named blog where people can comment on the content, and we can post show notes, if any. MB has also acquired the URL, if we really get into this. To be honest, I can’t imagine that we won’t get into it, aside from time constraints. We’ve got the techie inclination and the debate ability to talk about everything, and the debate world always seems to have something going on worth talking about. Show #1 will address openness, specifically case lists, as our main topic, plus we’ll start introducing a couple of what might become regular features.

Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to this.

(When I opened GarageBand—for the first time, despite my years of Little Elvis—I realized what a goldmine this little sucker is. You can make your own music. Duh! Time to write “The Theme from The View from Tab.” Violins. Sousaphones. Spoons. Whoop-de-damn-doo! Then there’s “The March of the Cruzians” and “The Mike Bietz Polka.” Forget podcasting. Music, music, music!)

Breaking news: Bronx School of High Science Announces Miss (and/or Mister) Babycakes Pageant

(Bronx, NY) Jon Cruz, Director of Identity Politics at the Bronx School of High Science, announced today the first annual Miss (and/or Mister) Babycakes Pageant to be held at the school in lieu of his usual New York City Invitational Debate Tournament. “Debate is getting really old,” Mr. Cruz said, “while recognizing the relativistic nature of beauty, especially if it involves piercing, tats, or gender confusion, is where the 21st Century is truly headed.”

Anyone of any age and gender is welcome to enter the pageant. “We don’t care if Miss (and/or Mister) Babycakes is male or female or some mixture of both, or for that matter, neither,” Cruz said. “We search for the inner person, if we can find him, or her, or both, or neither. And age also doesn’t matter. For too long American culture has been fixated on youth. It’s time to start expanding the fixation to include old farts and living fossils.”

The pageant will be judged by a panel of celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Obama, Woody Allen, Paula Abdul (tentative), Whoopi Goldberg, Taylor Swift Beyonce, Bono, and Pope Benedict XVI. Hosting the ceremony will be Muammar el-Qaddafi, provided someone can correctly spell his name and find his tent.

“This will be a beauty pageant for the rest of us,” Cruz summed up. “What is beauty, after all? Immanuel Kant was the last German to seriously believe that there was any objective aesthetic, aside from Albert Einstein, who was, after all, pretty ugly and needed a haircut. For that matter, Immanuel Kant usually needed a haircut as well, and wasn’t any great shakes in the looks department. Anyhow, we intend to breathe new life into both beauty and the Bronx, both of which could use it.”

The pageant will be broadcast on the Food Network in between Rachael Ray reruns.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm sending my precious offspring away for the weekend with—you?

Parent’s night is always fun. There’s so much to cover, and you don’t want to daunt them, but by the same token, you want them to understand that, if their kids fall in love with debate, they won’t be seeing them again until the second grandchild is born. Tough business.

One problem of meeting parents and planning for Bump simultaneously is the possibility that a parent who has volunteered for something will have a kid who drops out in a week or two. I don’t think we set ourselves up for that possibility this year, though. My handful of novices this year look pretty likely to me for at least the short term, although only one of them has signed up for the team listserver, the official act of enlistment. I fault my new novice coordinators for this. The People’s Champion and the Panivore? Feh. One of them needs a haircut and the other needs a square meal. What was I thinking?

(Seriously, one of the CatNats ballots from May, when Zack’s hair was about 5 months shorter, complained that he needed a haircut and hence lost the round. Gotta love CatNats. I usually set the bar at no white shoes before Memorial Day, but then again, I’m a more experienced judge.)

Anyhow, I managed to confuse the new parents no end and got enough traction on the more experienced ones to get the parental side of Bump sewn up. And the thing is, September is, somehow, almost over, and the season still doesn’t feel as if it’s started, the VassaRR not withstanding. I need to sit in front of a computer seeing which C judge is on a bubble. Until then, I’m just not doing my job.

Tonight Bietz and O’C and I will play around with Skype and GarageBand and see what we come up with. Probably nothing for publication, but a sense that either we can or we can’t. I’ll keep you posted.

Breaking news! Big Bronx Announces: No Babycakes.

Extending his classic bait-and-switch from the VassaRR of offering Babycakes to everyone and only giving them to his special buddies, Director of Forensics J O'Cruz of the Highly Bronxed School of Science ("Number One in NYC Bowling Since 1947!") has announced that Babycakes, which have never been offered at the New York City Invitational, will not be offered again in 2009. "We understand that this is disappointing news for a handful of people who think that we exist merely to feed their fat faces," O'C explained, "but that's just the way it is." To cover the cost of not supplying Babycakes, registration fees have been increased across the board by 10%. "We were also not going to offer pasty bagels and cold coffee, but not offering them would have added another 10% to the fees, which we felt was unwarranted." At the mention of the word "unwarranted," Professor O'Cruz's entire team demanded that he point to the bright line and that he use their standard for weighing, but since there were no Babycakes to weigh in the first place, he took the low point win and headed off into the sunset.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Any site that tells J G to shut up can't be all bad. (Sorry. Private joke. Damned good one, though.)

Interesting meeting last night. Some Sailors I had thought long gone were short back. We lost General Will to the Mormons, but added a likely replacement. And we worked out of a different room, for no apparent reason.

Nothing is as comfortably predictable as change.

As usual at the beginning of the year, I break the meetings down into newbies first then everybody second including the newbies. I don’t like to separate the newbies completely because then they miss the sense of community that comes from being part of the whole group however dysfunctional it might be, but nonetheless, the most elementary discussion of natural rights in the first half of the evening is a far cry from my novice coordinators telling me that my weighing theorem is faulty during the second half of the evening. When the varsity arrived we went over some things I learned from the RR (the inherent weakness of the affirmative, the need to weigh arguments that are actually related to the weighing mechanism, the need to bring your own Babycakes), and some general business, like why it probably pays to sign up for a tournament a little sooner than two months after the signup has closed. If any of the novices come back, it will be a miracle.

I pestered CP a bit about the Pups yesterday, but he assures me that everything is keachy peen and stop annoying him. I can’t help it. Tournament in two weeks? First one in ages? One’s mind does turn to it on occasion.

I requested coaching materials from folks for the NYSFL website, and gotten some good stuff. If you have any good stuff, send it along and I’ll add it. We’re creating a “care package” of stuff for new coaches. The more we have, the better.

I made my first foray over to yesterday. Things are pretty lively over there, let me tell you, some heavy duty discussions of what coaches can and should do. I guess O’C was wise to revive this old site. I still find it ungainly, not being a forum kind of person, but I guess I’ll get into it. But I won’t be arguing about what coaches can and should do. I’ve always felt that coaches should concentrate on Babycakes and let the students figure out the rest of it for themselves. I’m way too busy sorting crappy prizes to get drawn into actually educating anybody. I know my place in this activity.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Podcasts, parentcasts and kinderkuchen

So I downloaded Skype last night (I always wait for the lawsuit before looking into new software). Bietz found a way to use GarageBand for the editing of multiple tracks, which boils down to each person doing their own and someone editing them together. Whatever. Unfortunately I won’t be around for the next couple of nights, but maybe we can test this on Thursday then record something next week.

Otherwise I spent a lot of time last night coordinating for the upcoming parent meeting this Wednesday. I used to do a meeting for new parents and then a Bump meeting, but the Bump parents told me they needed it done all at once, and who am I to argue? When you think about it, Bump is the number one thing the parents do, and they do it together, so it should take priority. My schlepping their kids all over creation weekend after weekend, while of some note, is rather passive for the parents. All they have to do is worry that we haven’t gone off a cliff or something. When one remembers back to the day when we did this without cell phones… The line for the one phone at Cringing Latino? Unbelievable.

The biggest drama at the RR over the weekend, which I didn’t report yesterday, was the Case of the Missing Babycake. If you’ve never been to the RR you don’t know how much Cruz publicizes all the amenities (well, if you know O’C, maybe you do know). Chief among these is the participation of Babycakes, the name of which alone is enough to turn the average stomach. If you look at the series of photos of the RR over the years, which is officially known as “Photo of O’C (and others)” you will see the growing girth that can only be attributed to said BCs. Last year, when the awards were given out, a special award went to the BC chef. (If you’ve never gotten a trophy for anything, my advice is to stand next to O’C for half an hour. I promise you you’ll get something you can put on your mantel.) So to put it mildly, one looked to the arrival of the armored truck from Babycakes with nothing less than the same enthusiasm with which one might greet Howard the Duck Part 2, The Quack is Back.

So, the last round of the day ended, and we all marched over to the dinner, stomachs growling, a chorus of “Babycakes, Babycakes,” on our lips like mutinying sailors chanting the captain’s name right before they flog him. And lo and behold, as that Haze woman might say, there’s the Babycakes lady (disappointingly not clutching her trophy from last year, however) with a Babycake for everyone…who debated.

Everyone who debated?

The order was screwed up. No BCs for the coaches/judges.

At this point, O’C got the chef’s home address so that he could go over there personally and take back the trophy. Meanwhile, the Panivore, studying the assembled pastries, decided that they were “too interesting,” meaning that she wasn’t going to eat hers, surprise, surprise. So, ever one to rise to the occasion, I ate if for her. A lemon tart that is, O’C tells me, the eponymous Babycake.

Whoa! That was one good tart (a statement heard often on the Vassar campus).

Anyhow, rather than give up her trophy, the chef returned Sunday morning with another box of pastries, sans tarts. I had no difficulty introducing myself to a chocolate decadence during the round in which they argued mostly about the footnotes. Whatever. You’ve got footnotes, I’ve got a Babycake. I’m happier than you’ll ever be.

Next year, by the way, O’C promises not only Babycakes for all, but even a bottle of water that the students can pass around between rounds. It just keeps getting better and better.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vassar football wins stunning defeat over Alabama, shocking Crimson fans worldwide

So I spent the weekend up in Poughkeepsie at the Vassar Round Robin, which is, of course, for yeasty debaters. Or at least that’s how I always think of them. O’C calls them rising debaters. Same thing.

It’s a nice campus, and it was nice weather (except the building we were in yesterday was freezing), but God knows where all the students were. I mean, with that late summer thing going on, a Sunday afternoon on campus ought to be a collective last gasp, but when I took a walk around the place, it was deserted. Maybe they were all watching rounds.

I was in this as a judge, and judge I did. As always, since I judge infrequently, I’m a little behind on speed, but that was only an issue in one round, where the debaters, asking for preferences and being told speed would be an issue, ignored me completely. Very odd. I mean, no one ever lost the ballot of someone capable of great speed by slowing down, but no one ever won the ballot of someone not capable of great speed by speeding up. I can see if it’s a panel of 3, and you figure you’re going for the 2, but in a panel of 2? Oh, well. You make your own choices, and you take the consequences. As for me, there were only two split decisions over the weekend, one where there was no way to decide anything, as both judges agreed, so a split decision made sense, and one where we just didn’t agree, which happens plenty of times. Almost all the debaters I saw were quality, although, as younger students, lacking a little final polish. At some point the round is about picking up the ballot, which is done on one or two voting issues. Tying those voters to your weighing/criterion? Better still. More of that kind of thing would be in order. Still, these people will all be dynamite by the end of the season. They’re close now.

One thing that seemed clear was that the Sept-Oct topic floats in this vacuum that is hard to escape. That is, it is such a narrow topic that it’s hard to relate it to much of anything aside from itself, which is limiting for the LD mind. True values like justice and morality and the like don’t necessarily apply, and the value of education, while logical, isn’t really a value. The goal of education is acquisition of knowledge, regardless of how you do that acquiring, and the goal of knowledge is truth, a basic philosophical nugget, but one is hardly going to value truth in the round (I hope). So, people were forced to come up with something else. Democracy is popular, and probably the default going forward, but there were a few other reasonable constructs, including economics. At least $ allows you something to weigh on, but it’s hard to imagine both cases linking back to it, so, well, there you are. I stick by my original prediction that the topic is okay, but that rounds will start sounding all alike before long. I do imagine that affs will be forced into some sort of advocacy if they really want to win, because without something specific, they’re just saying no, which is, as members of the VCA know, the weakest sort of refutation. And with this topic, aff is forced to refute, if you will, in the 1AC; the “not” wording, which normally forces dueling advocacies and limits critiques, acts more like a straightjacket with this topic. Oh, well. I always say that when rounds start sounding all alike, it’s the best debaters that win because the cases are just the starting point. There’s no surprises, just skill. In other words, have at it, ladies and gentlemen.

JV and Kaz and O’C and I kept remarking that the coming weekend is the last one we will have before we kick into high gear. All of us plan on one variation or another of relaxing and having fun. Not that we don’t have fun at tournaments, but relaxing? Not really. I did get JV hooked up to broadcast via @DebateTab, so he too can send annoying messages at the Pubs and elsewhere. Plenty of Pupists have signed up, and presumably most will by tournament time. I hope I can come up with enough tweets to warrant all of this. If not, maybe I’ll just retweet @aplusk. At least that way they won’t accuse me of not trying.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Department of clarification

Sometimes my references are unclear. Jello as in hard to pin down, not fat. If I were referring to a gentleman's girth, I would call him PuddingMan.

The distinction seems clear to me.

(This message reflects the opinions of the writer and is intended as entertainment only, and does not reflect the official views of Kraft Foods, Inc., or any of its subsidiaries.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Listen up!

What we need more of is debate podcasts. Given that debate podcasts are being produced at a rate of roughly zero per day, rain or shine, week in and week out, more is a rather easy number to envision.

I am, of course, a big podcast fan. For that matter, I’m a big fan of talk, period. I like music, and listen to plenty of it, but there are times when I prefer talk, and there is certain talk that I actually seek out and make time for.

Let’s start with audiobooks. I am a rabid fan of audiobooks, but I am extremely selective. The reason I like them is, primarily, because they can be very entertaining. So I am unlikely to listen to, say, Plato’s Republic if I can get a copy of The Magicians (which I just finished listening to, btw, and really enjoyed). There’s a combination of plot and writing and performance all mixed up together. I have a half-hour commute in each direction, so it takes me maybe 2-3 weeks to listen to a complete book that way. That works pretty well. While my favorite audiobooks tend to be on the adventure side (e.g. SF, fantasy, that sort of thing), some of the best I’ve heard have been anything but. In Cold Blood, for instance, has to rank as one of the all-time best on all counts. So a good book per se will work, if the performance is also there. Still, I do gravitate toward lighter material. In any case, I see little difference between reading a book and listening to a book in many respects. Good writing = good use of language, and good use of language ought to be able to engage me through the ears even more than through the eyes. Granted, though, there are hermeneutic differences, but they are beside the point when you just want to have some fun. Anyhow, I listen to maybe one audiobook a month, in my car, commuting. That’s one batch of talk.

Podcasts are different from books in obvious ways. Mostly podcasts are an extension of radio programming (and in many cases are simply time-shifted radio programming), but usually more narrow in scope. I listen to a handful religiously, including Wait Wait (general), This Week in Tech (tech, obviously), and WDWRadio (the Mouse). I collect and occasionally listen to This American Life and Lake Wobegon. I’ve got BMI’s show music program (a limited series I’m halfway through), and a couple of others like that. They are all good for morning exercise and while cooking. Video podcasts like DiggNation are good for the occasional train or bus ride.

Come to think of it, I also listen to the news on NPR. That’s about the only live radio I listen to, though. I do it in the morning while I’m reading the newspaper. Mental stereo, I guess. I’m also eating breakfast at the same time, but there is no news printed on a bran flake.

I have, of course, done some audios via the View from Tab link. And I did a bunch of Nostrums until I just ran out of steam on them (they’re still there if you’re interested, which you might be, given how much other debate fiction is out there to listen to). Early on I bought a pretty good microphone, so the quality is not terrible. For a while Bietz was podcasting, but he seemed to lose steam. I liked listening to him and his guests talking about the latest topics, and I miss it.

Anyhow, all of this is prelude to my thought that I want to get back into podcasting again, maybe with a little more vigor and regularity. I’m thinking that if I were to get Skype and the software for recording conversations, I could talk to people about this and that and then edit it and run it up the old flagpole. I’m working on getting O’C as a starter on this, but pinning down JelloMan isn’t easy. But I think he and I could do a good job together, talking about debate stuff. So, I’ll keep at him. Maybe I'll talk to him more about it this weekend at his RR (which, according to his emails, has no starting time). Whatever.

I’ll keep you posted.

Tweeting the Vassar RR

I'll be covering my own view of things on Twitter @jimmenick. Feel free to follow along.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No noobs is bad noobs, among other sad items

Well, we didn’t get much turnout last night. Or to be honest, we got our usual turnout, but most of them went over to the dark side the Speecho-American group. Not that those particular Sailors couldn’t use an infusion of fresh blood, but so could we. My guess is that we ended up with one stalwart, two likelies, plus the guy who went to MHLW who couldn’t get a ride last night. This other kid, General Will, looked like he’d slither off into oblivion at the first opportunity. Sigh. I read about people getting a hundred novices showing up at their first meeting, and I want to take up a hobby like basket-weaving or something. Maybe I’ll ask O’C for a job. Personal Assistant to the Director of Forensics at Bronxonian Scientology. I can wipe his brow, stuff like that. Something useful, you know?

Upcoming this week is the Vassar RR, where both the People’s Champion and the Panivore (my new novice coordinators) will get to exercise their brains, and I should be able to pick up a thing or two on Sept-Oct. If I can get some time I’ll also get all of this year’s Bump stuff up on line. I’ve got it drafted out, but I need to proof it and then format it for html. Simple enough but time consuming.

People are starting to come to me to slip them off the Pups waitlist, but that’s not really my bailiwick. CP is running the trains, as he has the overview of all the divisions. They’re totally filled up in LD, plus there’s another tournament’s worth of waiters between JV and Varsity. Closing isn’t for a while, but I doubt if things will change much. Anyhow, if you were thinking of slipping me a finif or something to make it happen, I’ll take your money but I won’t be doing anything. That’s life, eh?

Finif? That goes back about 80 years or so; I like to keep up with these things. I mean, I didn’t even know who Kanye West was until whatever awards were given out wherever, although the name was vaguely familiar. If these people weren’t idiots, they’d never make it onto my radar, to tell you the truth. I don’t even bother keeping track of idiotic politicians; there’s just too many of them. I save that brain space for 60s TV trivia and the like.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's all sing like the birdies do. Tweet. Tweet tweet. Tweet tweet.

If you’ve quivered in fear over the announcement that Yale (and, by extension, every tournament I tab henceforth) will be on Twitter, I understand your pain. But it’s not as bad as it sounds.

First of all, if you’re already on Twitter, all you’ve got to do is follow @DebateTab and you’re 99% there. Then just turn the phone notification on during the tournament (set to stun) and turn it off when the results are posted. End of story. (Or almost the end. We've also got @speechtab and @congresstab in CP's grubby little hands. He also managed to sneak the more generic @tabroom away from me when I wasn't looking, the weasel, but given that he already has a website called, I guess it's best in the long run. Still, it was pretty a weaselly move: I gotta admit, I was proud of him!)

Of course, if you’re not already a Twitterer, you’ve got to become one. I posted the instructions at, not that it’s particularly difficult. I mean, if Ashton Kutcher can do it…

The nature of the tweets at a given tournament will depend on the tournament itself. At Yale, where on Friday night people are all over the map, announcing that the ballots are printed or the skems posted makes sense. In other words, put down that slice of pizza and get to your round, you yabbo! We can also page judges, if necessary, and you can contact us easily in return. At contained sites, like Yale on Saturday, it will be more general. Skems ready, schedule changes (I trust we’ll make things earlier than the printed sked), round results posted, that sort of thing. Less urgency, in other words. But still, a way for tab to communicate to the hundreds of people they’re sending hither and yon. That can’t be a bad thing, and Twitter allows us to do it efficiently. When all is said and done, it is nothing more than group IMs. Hardly earth-shattering. But when we’re all over the place, like most colleges and the occasional high school, I think it will prove useful. We’ll know soon enough.

Meanwhile, I’ll no doubt continue to tweet on my normal account, @jimmenick. If you need news reports of which students have just been arrested at the tournament for running illegal counterplans or general updates on the state of my grumpiness, you can follow that. I don’t tweet a lot, but enough to keep my hand in. I’ve also got a team Twitter account for herding Sailors when necessary. So, I guess you can say I’ve bought into this, and it would be true, for the time being, until something better comes along to do the job.

What can I say? Tweet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Vatican endorses ModNov (sort of)

The other thing that happened last Saturday (MHLW being the original other) was the meeting of the NYCFL. We held this at Scientific Bronx School of High Dudgeon as well, because so many of us needed to be at both.

NYCFL is a straightforward organization that is run extremely well by Catholic Charlie, who is one of those people who is good at running things. A lot of forensics is run by people who are not of that persuasion, but with the City Cats, this is not the case. Catholic Charlie has an agenda, keeps us focused, runs pleasant tournaments and is generally amiable. What more could you ask?

A couple of things of note were discussed at the meeting. For our purposes, the agreement was reached to continue four-round tournaments, but notably with lunch breaks, so that the Policians wouldn’t be passing out from starvation in the middle of the afternoon. We did allow that some other problem on the ground might throw us off (e.g., some sort of unforeseen delay kicking us in the butt in the middle of an event), and we will use our noggins to decide as we progress in a given contest if there are any issues. Makes sense to me. Also, we’re waiting to hear where the 10/31 contest will be. Kaz will be up at Manchester Under the Sea and Sabrina will be in a mosh pit somewhere, so we won’t have policy after all. But we will have everything else with a debate flavor to it.

We also discussed ModNov, of course, officially instituting it for the league. It will also be used in the Manhattan Debate League. The train has left the station, ladies and gentlemen. This is sooooo good.

We had invited the coaches at the MHLW to visit the NYCFL meeting. Some of them were there for the first time, and I hope they will officially join us at our events. You can’t have too many debate tournaments, and with MHL, CFL and general invitationals spanning all the levels of competition, the northeast at the moment is jam-packed with contests in the best way possible. Something for everybody! Yes!

It’s nice when things are working well. It really is. What is best about all of this is the open communication. When I started doing this activity, it was hard to find things out. The internet was young, and so was I. (Well, all right, the internet was young. I was already older than God.) Now, not only do we have online registrations and email and Twitter and listservers and whatnot, but we actually use them! I feel that there has never been a stronger sense of community among the coaches than there is now. Not that we all love each other and want to have each other’s babies, but we talk together and plan together and disagree with civility, which is the way it should be. Maybe we are finally learning to practice what we so obviously preach.

I have a feeling this is going to be a most fun season!

(And I’m sorry for this outburst of joy and rapture, and promise to return to biliousness and general disagreeability tomorrow.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

We have ignition. We have liftoff. Yahoo!

Wow. Or, if you’re reading this upside down, Mom.

We held the first (and far from last) MHL Workshop on Saturday. This stemmed from discussion on the NDCA listserver about costs and whatnot, and I foolishly jumped in and said, okay, we’ll throw a free one-day institute in the Fall for younger students. Sure. Why not? How hard can it be?

Last spring we quickly laid down a broad outline of modules. Then Kaz and JV and O’C and I sat down one hot summer night at the chez and polished it up. Then O’C went off to get instructors. As the VCA knows, I was a little wary of how long it was taking him to do this, but the man ultimately came through with some spectacular folks who did an amazing job for no other reason than that they’re good people. Cruz will shortly list them over on VBD (which I will call for once by its correct name, so that you know what I’m talking about and you go check it out). He’ll also post some pictures (of course).

We had attendees of every persuasion despite the earliness of the event. (We’ll do it later next year.) There were new coaches, parents, novices, JV, Pfffters, Policians, whatever. The hallways between modules were abuzz with people on their cell phones (and in real life communication) talking about the topics and whatnot. Engagement was full-on. Imagine what that would have been like a couple of weeks later!

I participated in the new coaches’ discussion, answering questions and helping folks out with stuff, and then I did second chair on PF case-writing with CP. He’s got a solid scholarly approach to content, so I took the position of filling up the blank sheet of paper, the one where I tell people I’m an editor so I know about writing. (I don’t tell them I’m a blogger because then they wouldn’t believe the claim that I know about writing.) What I enjoyed most, though, was the last session, brainstorming ModNov with these absolutely raw newbies. Sacre bleu (as no one in France has ever said, other than in the comic book “Scrooge McDuck on the Riviera”)! This was late in the day, and these people wouldn’t shut up! We covered all sorts of stuff at a very broad level, like right and wrong and rights in general and civil rights and what-have-you, and it was exciting. I can’t wait to do it with some Sailors. There is now no doubt in my mind that ModNov was a good idea, and that this was a good topic to choose. School tests, while relevant to students, doesn’t connect to anything. Civil disobedience, on the other hand, connects to everything (especially when half your class is African-American or Indian).

So I’ll start playing with next year’s calendar and get this where it belongs. I’ve already talked to O’C about where he’ll place the Vassar RR.

I can’t wait for September 2010!

Friday, September 11, 2009

MHLW Eve, and the stockings are all hung on the chimney with care

We’ve broken a hundred with the MHLW. In the bowling sense, as compared to the golf sense. Given that some schools (obscure ones like Bronx Science, that I’ve never heard of) haven’t entered their data yet, I think we’ve done pretty well, especially given the time of year.


And I just heard from O’C that we got the building! Wait a minute. We just got the building? Whatever.

CP and I are sharing a PF module. The only problem is, the module’s content is unintelligible to us, given that it’s written in debate jargon. First thing we’re teaching: no debate jargon! Jargon, as you probably know, is nothing other than the attempt to make the simple complicated for purposes of initiation. If you call a black-and-blue spot on someone’s body an ecchymosis, that proves you’re a doctor, but it’s still the same bruise. Being able to use a tribe’s language/jargon is presumed to entitle you to membership in that tribe. If you’ve been a student of CT and pomo, and maybe even structuralism, then you know what I’m talking about. For that matter, if you’re a member of the VCA at all you know what I’m talking about. Hell, I put a glossary over there on the right for a reason, you yabbo! Anyhow, if you’re trying to win the ballot of a PF parent judge, I wouldn’t advise you to cross-apply the Zisek evidence off the permute of the cap-bad argument on econ-ecol. You know?

Tomorrow is also the NYCFL meeting. This is where all the Catholics come together and pray that we’ll make it through another year. It’s worked so far in the past. There usually aren’t many issues worth reporting, aside from who runs which Speecho-American event on what weekend, being that there’s only a couple of debate events under Vatican control. But if anything does come up, I’ll let you know.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When I'm not playing Tiger Woods 10 on the Wii...

The numbers for the MHL Workshop have perked up a bit, and this definitely looks worthy on its own merits. And it is worthier still as a dipping of the oar into the water for the future. We didn’t have much choice about timing this year, and of course we added it to the schedule late in the season, but next year things will be different. The big thing is to wait a bit till novices are on board, obviously. After that, we’ll see what flies and what doesn’t in the actual doing of it. O’C has assembled a strong team to do the instructing, and the only thing I need to do is figure out with CP what the hell our shared PF module is all about. Other than that, it’s coaches with O’C and brainstorming ModNov with novices. Simple enough, I think. I’m looking forward to it.

On the NYSFL front, there is, as you know, a discussion database now, and we kicked around some ideas about qualifications. The thing is, if a tournament simply ranks people by number, the qual system is fine, I guess, but when there’s break rounds, it falls down. How do you determine 11th place in a tournament that breaks to doubles? If the 11th seed drops in doubles, then is that person still 11th? Et cetera, et cetera. Some different ideas were proposed; I hope action is taken in that area. Other than that, we talked in our summer meeting about redesigning the website, and I volunteered to work on that, so that will be my next bit of business. We did agree that we would pile on a sort of Care Package of material for new coaches, which I have plenty of and I’m sure others have as well. Anyhow, that will be my next thing, when I get a few spare minutes.

And oh, yeah, I sent in my LD topic ballot yesterday. That is so complicated. I think it's the way it is because everyone loves preferential balloting so much; organizing those piles at a district tournament were always the high point. I watch the Wunn and Only do it in his sleep when I was the World's Worst District Chair (a title I still hold, albeit emeritus).

While you’re reading this, SuperSquirrel is recruiting novices with all her heart and soul. One thing that I did ask her to make clear was that one need not be a freshman to sign up, which is a common misconception. Of course, I’d prefer to catch elvers rather than eels, but an old fish is better than no fish. And, of course, I’ll have to clean up my act here for a few weeks as they come on board, young or old. Not that that many Sailors ever actually tie up here, but if some newbies do by accident, I’d hate to scare them away just by blogging about them.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Hello. This is Bubba. How can I help?" (Spoken in Indian accent, of course.)

Knowing CP is like having your own private help desk, with the one difference that he’s in the USA and he knows what he’s talking about. Two differences, he’s in the USA and he knows what he’s talking about and he’s always one step ahead of me. Three differences, but then again, you probably already know all your Monty Python, so I’ll stop now.

As for the non-seen drive connected to Little Elvis, that’s because it’s formatted for Windows. I should have figured that out. Windows can’t see Mac drives without a lot of sturm und drang, or at least they couldn’t once upon a time, whereas the Mac can see anything. So, either reformat or set up a special connection. I think I’ll just copy out the important data and reformat; easier in the long run. It is an old, mostly pointless (and small) drive, after all, that should be dying soon. Then he pointed me to a working beta of Cyberduck, so I can now upload obscenely large files to my site host again; all I need are some obscenely large files. I also have an old version of a program I actually paid for, Captain FTP, but for some reason I prefer Cyberduck. Go figure. How much FTPing do I do in a given life cycle, after all? On top of all of that, I updated Flash and installed Rosetta, and Bigger Elvis seems to be none the worse for wear, although I didn’t test too much last night because I was playing around with the Windows drive thing.

Oh, yeah. I helped someone buy a 15-incher yesterday. Last day of the school discount. I still prefer 13 inches, but that’s just me. CP suggests that Bigger Elvis is a bad name. But Old Fat Elvis seems wrong. Vegas Elvis? Burning Love Elvis? “Hunka hunka burnin’ love.” Hunka Elvis? Hunky Elvis? Honky Elvis?

This is getting us nowhere. Hunka hunka burnin’ love. In my younger days, at a previous DJ, I edited an Elvis book, and we actually threw an Elvis Expo (he died between the planning and the event, as it turned out). We had, on display, the Burnin’ Love jumpsuit, complete with sweating mannequin. Rather remarkable, and quite the attraction. While I was helping unload a truck prior to the expo because the truck unloaders were nowhere around, some person who had been trying to sell me a book of color-your-own mandalas happened to walk by and sympathized with me over my demotion from editor to truck unloader. I accepted her sympathy, the alternative being that I’d probably have had to publish her collection of color-your-own mandalas.

I’ve got a million stories about the old days. Ask me some time.

More germane to the business of debate, CP has laid claim to the control of the signups for the Pups. The thing is, via, one sets a field limit, and then there’s a waitlist. Control of the waitlist, if a tournament is hotly desired, is rather fun. At something like the Pups, control assures that no one school gets a bazillion slots when another school gets none. And people who need to get plane tickets get to know they’ll have slots. Anyhow, with Chris doing that, I don’t have to think about it, and that’s a good thing. I feel that, as far as the Sailors are concerned, my entry is set and the motel is set and the transportation is set, and there you are, except I will read the invitation again one more time to insure I’ve got everything under control. I think we’re back on Friday registering at LC, the building in the middle of the campus that’s central to everything, rather than some backwater over in the corner as we were last year, running debate tab out of a closet somewhere. I usually insist on a men’s room at the very least! LC is nice because we get comfy chairs and JV can run over and yell at everybody without having to exert himself too much. The perfect way to kick off the season.

And as the most organized person I know, watching O’C corral the instructors for the MHLW has been, oh, shall we say, painful. He’s lined up quite a crew (eat your heart out, Camp WTFaMucka), but it’s by the skin of his teeth. On the positive side, he keeps sending me apologetic emails claiming that he owes me for this. He does. Makes me feel like Don Corleone, you know? Some day I will ask of him a favor…

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Having played dramatically subpar golf, I hang my head in shame and think coachean thoughts

If nothing else, Snow Leopard definitely starts up and shuts down faster that Snowless Leopard. That’s something, anyhow. Apparently I need Rosetta for some printer stuff, which the interwebs tell me won’t screw me up or anything, so I’ll do that tonight. And as I knew Cyberduck is dormant. I heard that Flash was an old outdated version with security flaws (Apple ain't big on publicizing that one), so I updated that. Fusion PC emulation still runs, although when I tested it I was told there’s an update, which I’ve downloaded but not installed. One thing at a time… More to come as I learn it.

I did use some time over the weekend to update Bump. Here’s the overview: mostly, it’s the same. But, I’m eliminating late-change fines. I just can’t get my mind around them, especially in this economic environment. The fees are set, then you pay ‘em, that should be enough, except for one thing. I’m charging $25 a missed judging round, including those yabbos who tell me in advance that they won’t be there for all the rounds. Since I have to buy more judging to cover those rounds, that’s money out of my pocket. No teams with fines outstanding by the final prelim round will be allowed to break (or collect ballots and awards). Suitably draconic? We’ll see.

Otherwise, as I say, mostly the same. I’ve eliminated speed check-in because the physical plant just doesn’t support it unless I were doing it myself, and I can’t guarantee that I will. I’ll try, but I won’t advertise it. And I’ve updated the fields on, although only with the blunt instrumentation of early draftiness. With luck, this will be a done deal by the end of this coming weekend. And I’ll try a podcast of opening remarks again; with luck my site host won’t be hacked again like it was last year.

Surprisingly enough, I’ve already got a novice signed up for the team listserver. SS and the P were apparently successful last week at the recruitment event, and is already in for the duration. Well, not really Gung Ho, of course, but he might as well be, although in this day and age that does sound mildly vulgar. Anyhow, he might even come down to the Bronchial workshop. We’ll see. School starts for real tomorrow, first meeting next week. Let’s hope we get the proverbial boatload. They’ll all jump ship soon enough, but at least I like to start big.

Speaking of the workshop, a note to O’C: #&^%@$%#@&)*#, you *&#^@%$#$!!! As for everyone else, we’ve got good numbers in most events so far, mostly just failing with novice policy. I did send out a reminder to sign up or cut bait, so that might help. I’d hate to lose a division that would have people in it, but I will cut in advance anything that is undersubscribed. But as I say, most of it looks good. It’s amazing what people will take if you give it away for free.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Preparing to play subpar golf, I meditate on OS issues, O'C entropy, shared drives and applied mathematics

I'm hanging around waiting to drive out to golf.

Bigger Elvis is sitting next to me, installing Snow Leopard, which takes forever, of course. I bit the bullet, in other words. But I checked drivers, and I should be okay with printers, and as far as other software, I don't have much, and the thing still has that new-car smell, so I figured, how bad could it be? I'll find out tonight, I guess. Anyhow, I've been religiously backing up, so if there is some dire problem, I'll be set.

This Saturday is the MHL Workshop, provided O'C ever tells me who the instructors are. He claims that places like Camp WTFaMucka don't assign modules until a couple of days after it starts, which may be true but which does not warm the cockles of my particular heart. On the other hand, what does warm the cockles is that now every activity except for novice policy is reasonably large, and there's still more to come. Novice pol may suffer for it being so early in the year; if numbers stay down, we'll can it, but we've still got a few days to find out. If you haven't signed up yet, you might want to do so now.

Oh. Bigger E just booted, although the disk never stopped chugging. Whatever.

Speaking of tech, the People's Champion told me in response to my recent plaintive plea about shared drives that I could set the drives to be read, but it doesn't work like that on Little E, at least. You either set it for sharing drives, or not. No specifying which drives. This is beginning to become interesting (albeit ultimately unimportant). I may do more research, especially since the alternative is biting my nails to the stubs over O'C and the workshop.

Still installing, despite reboot. Time remaining, 33 minutes. I'm leaving in about ten minutes, as soon as I make a sandwich.

Enjoy the weekend (it's been gorgeous here in the NE). Oh, speaking of which, one thing. Although the pieces on WTF are interesting, and may indeed reflect trends, it is more by coincidence than mathematics. Having worked in statistics at the DJ, I can pretty safely say that the samples are way too small for any decent analysis of the TOC beyond the anecdotal. Fun, in other words, but be wary of taking it to the bank. Remember, you've heard this from 100% of the coaches surveyed by this website.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Can anyone answer this?

I have Little Elvis set up to share files with Bigger Elvis. When I do the connecting on BE, I can see Little E and its two firewire drives, but I can't see the other drive (3 partitions) hooked up via USB.

Am I missing something here? Is it the partitions? The USB? Some natural limit to sharing?

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Good grief. Yesterday was post number 1200. Yaketty yaketty yak...

Anyhow, I’m finally getting a few things off my to-do list. Last night I put together and edited my series on PF, and saved it out as a PDF over there on the right-hand column under the Greatest Hits heading. I also added it to the Sailor website. Feel free to grab it for yourself, and use it as either the bible or as the quintessential guide on how not to PF. Your call. At least I’m done with it for now.

I don’t seem to have any Sailors on the immediate PF waters in October. I can’t say I’m wildly enthusiastic about the topic. It’s virtually identical to an old LD rez aside from the UN part of it. What torpedoed it in LD was that people would run “sustainable development,” thus totally ignoring the conflict. Sustainability is a compromise between the two sides, not a choice between the two sides. My blood boiled for two months straight, if I recall correctly. The PF wording shouldn’t have that same result, but the UN aspect sort of throws me. I guess an agent of action is required, but given the lack of authority in that particular agent, I suspect a lot of smoke and mirrors will be employed in people’s cases. But, as I say, it probably won’t affect me at all, so I won’t bother about it herein.

We had a most intimate chez last night with the Panivore and SuperSquirrel. SS has returned from Camp WTFaMucka with a list of case positions on Sept-Oct that makes one wonder if people out there have ever heard of the concept of inherent contradiction. I love when one side runs the other side’s position and doesn’t even know it. Needless to say there’s plenty of mutton-headed approaches to the topic (both independent of and stemming from Camp WTFaMucka), but buried among them are a couple of obvious ones, and I have a feeling that people seriously seeking bids will quickly dispense with the silly stuff and get down to the real business of the pros and cons of testing. I certainly hope so. What are the pros? Well, I hate to tell you, but separating the elite from the riffraff, one popular case position, isn’t really one of them. But tests that objectively measure knowledge seem to be useful when there’s a need to do that measuring. Against it one could say that the objectivity is impossible, which is cute and current (if you think CT from the 80s is current, but LD does usually run about a generation behind state-of-the-art academics) but maybe not necessarily true. Can you create an algebra exam devoid of social context? Frankly, how can you not? I mean, the day X+Y=3 is biased against [fill in identity] is the day X+Y actually <> 3. Oh, well. Anyhow, there’s better arguments in the purer areas of pedagogy, in the goals of knowledge and teaching and education, and there will be a few lost souls in LD land who will attempt debating at that level. I salute them.

Long weekend coming up, so you probably won’t hear from me for a few days, unless I don’t get the instructor suggestions from O’C real soon now. In which case you’ll see me on the Eleven O’Clock News being dragged away from his bleeding, battered body. Although, of course, I’ll claim innocence. “His mother did it,” I’ll say, pointing to her Facebook messages. I’ll be back on the streets by midnight.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Boots and amusements (or maybe, amuse boots, like in the fancy restaurants?)

Last night I created a boot disk on an SD card, which is mostly just a stupid Mac trick. It took forever, though, probably because the SD card isn’t particularly fast. Now, when Bigger Elvis slips into a coma, I’ll be able to resuscitate it with this tiny little boot disk. Whoop-dee-doo. I was going to wait for Snow Leopard to create it, but that didn’t seem necessary, and to be honest, I’m going to hold up installing SL for a while, even though I should have it from Amazon any minute now. I’ve heard that a lot of apps aren’t Snow-ready yet, like Cyberduck, which I use for FTP, and which I would not want to be without because you know that the minute I can’t use it I’ll have a file the size of Cleveland that I won’t be able to upload. Isn’t that always the case?

I’ve now fully signed up for Monticello, unless some other Sailors get the urge all of a sudden. I haven’t shut down the signup database. Good old NoShow will be judging for us; first time in a while, but it turns out he’s back in the area. I love putting his name on the schematics, because there’s always some yoyo who thinks that we’ve predetermined that their judge isn’t going to show up. I am amused by the simplest things.

Speaking of being amused, if you didn’t see this via Boing Boing, check ‘em out: Disney Marvel mashup art. Some of them are pretty funny.

Tonight we’ll chez up on Sept-Oct, as I’ve said. Then the Sailors recruit tomorrow at some special deal for incoming noobs, then I think we’ll skip next week (first week of school, most returning students are just starting on their summer reading assignments, and I’d hate to get in the way), which means we have the noob meeting the week after that. I love that frisson of newness. What will this year’s harvest reap? We’ll see. And I’ll be posting an updated MHLW schedule, with instructor names, the minute, the absolute minute, O’C has the names to put into it. (Can you hear my impatient foot tap tap tapping?)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Spidermouse, etc

Fires ravage California? Whatever.

Universal health care torpedoes Obama presidency? Whatever.

O’C’s mother signs up for Facebook? Whatever.

Disney buys Marvel? All hell breaks loose.

The most intelligent thing I read on this was that Disney was buying into a vast franchise for boys of varying princess through Miley ages. They’ve already got girls sewn up from birth to the point where they hear something on the radio that’s actually good, but boys have been elusive aside from the occasional odd pirate. Now they’ve got hypothetical pirates up the wazoo. Economics aside, that sounds pretty savvy to me. And no, IOA won’t be packing up and moving down the road. Universal apparently owns those ride rights in Florida (and their freedom from direct competition) for eternity or thereabouts. Theoretically, I think, however, they could put a Spiderman ride (#1 dark ride in the universe, no contest) in, say, Disneyland Tokyo.

Why do I care? Well, popular culture is pretty important, and Disney is pretty important because it owns so much of it. This is aside from any fanboy aspects of the thing, although I am a minor fanboy, no question. Major fanboys go to Disneyland every week or WDW every couple of months. I go every few years, so I don’t even register on the scale. There is a vast literature on Disney cultural studies. If you’re interested in getting into cult studies, Disney, since you already basically know so much about it, is a great place to start.

Meanwhile, I spent last night finishing my updated cur material on justice, some of which I published here not too long ago. I added in a little Nozick, some utility and a soupcon of the Almighty, just to round it off, but that about does it. The thing is, I come on Rawls from a soc con point of view, so my justice material, which seques from soc con, has that relation to what has gone before. And, as I’ve said in the Feed recently, I am a bleeding heart liberal, so being personally rather Rawlsian simply follows naturally. So for me justice is a way to bring soc con into the present day as well as an issue in and of itself.

O’C is beavering away at shoring up instructors for MHLW; we should be able to publish the list in a day or two. We’re getting there. And some Sailors are recruiting this week at a freshman orientation session (school starts after Labor Day). Tomorrow night we’ll chez up some more on Sept-Oct. I’m working on getting a judge for Monticello. I’m annoying CP with bugs in the new as often as I can. I’m slowly plodding my way through my vacation photos in iPhoto. I’m mastering the art of crème brulee. I’m finishing up The Magicians (audio) but still plodding along in Perdido Street Station (manual). I’m planning my Labor Day 2010 vacation (more on that to come) but still meditating on my May 2010 vacation, and diddling about Christmas break 2009, and wondering what exactly I’ll be doing this Saturday in the city (Saint Gaudens?), so I am thinking ahead albeit in reverse order (cf Nabokov’s Ada on memory). In other words, everything is about normal here at Coachean HQ. How’s by you?