Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obama wins the Kenyan vote!

You’ve got to love CatNats. “Resolved: That the United States government has a moral obligation to afford the same constitutional rights to all people on United States soil.” What they’re trying to say is that constitutional rights protections should (or should not) apply equally to citizens and non-citizens, but they’re so afraid of people going off-rez that they’ve provided a bizarro “all people on United States soil” concept to replace non-citizens that, well, just makes you love the English language. Realistically, though, it’s not the world’s worst topic, I don’t think, although personally I find it pretty one-sided.

A while ago we had a similar topic, and often debaters took this as license to argue that the right to vote should somehow be granted to non-citizens. This was, and remains, ridiculous. Simply enough, no polity exists of people who are not members of the polity, by definition. Only judges who left their brains at the door of the room could be convinced otherwise, but, of course, there were such judges. (I tended to use this as a litmus test of tabula rasa, myself. If your slate was wiped that clean, you were just too dumb for the room.)

If you don’t buy that (hmmm, that’s some clean slate there, pal), let’s look at that wording in the rez: “the same constitutional rights.” Now let’s look at the right to vote in the Constitution.

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof.” “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.”

Maybe I’m missing something here, but every single iteration of the right to vote requires that a person be a citizen (although more loosely in the Senate requirement, where one must be one of the “people thereof” that state, which is tantamount to the same thing). That is, the power of the vote goes to citizens much like the power of being Commander-in-Chief goes to the President. One can’t simply claim this power willy nilly. I can’t say that since the Constitution grants someone the right of being CIC, everyone should have that right. To wit, you would have to amend the constitution to apply the right to vote to non-citizens, which means that clearly that right is not a "constitutional right" at the moment, which is what the rez is talking about.

However, the word “citizen” does not appear at all in the Bill of Rights. Duh.

The legitimate arguing of this resolution will be about whether the enumerated rights in the Constitution, i.e., the Bill of Rights, ought to be applied to all. (And, yeah, it’s on our soil, so the US can’t grant rights to people in Ulan Bator. Duh again.) There are plenty of people who feel that the answer is no. Non-citizen immigrants, suspected terrorists and felons are all among those whose rights are moot. Unfortunately, they’re a disparate bunch, and it’s hard to unify them in an argument. The illegal working at WalMart should be a different case than Osama bin-Laden who should be a different case than some drug dealer who was just released from prison. Normally I would look for the unifying factor to find debate material, but aside from their all being on the questionable side of rights allowances, there really isn’t one. So, good luck with that. Still, however, one or the other of these will allow for the best debates. I haven’t thought it through myself to know which ones, but illegals seem intuitively the ones worth arguing about on both sides of the rez.

We’ll see. I’m meeting with the Sailors Tuesday. I’ll be interested to hear their take on this, since two of them are heading to the CatNats Conflagration.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

People you never want to hear from again

Boy: you guys are a tough audience. All right. Let's move away from debate. The object of this one is to determine which person you want to never hear from again the most. In other words, you vote for the person you like least in each pairing, the one you most want to disappear from the face of the earth.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The year in debate - a mini-bracket

The top half seems a lot tougher than the bottom half, but what do I know? Granted it's a little Northeast-centric, but that's only to annoy Bietz.

The "rude" tag seems especially appropriate for this one.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bracket for a Sunday morning

When you're tired of the Times crossword puzzle (which shouldn't take longer than half an hour on an off day), try this bracket on websites.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This had to be pretty obvious

Dickens over Wells because real literature trumps science fiction. King over Paterson because he writes his own books.

And in Dickens vs. King? Duh.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Complexity rules

Curiously enough, everyone advances for roughly the same reason: complexity.

Wells over Doyle for defining sf vs defining one aspect of a genre.

Dickens over Austen for writing about the whole world vs one small aspect of the world.

King over Connelly for writing all kinds of books vs writing crime fiction.

Patterson over Sparks for variety vs love stories (and, to boot, no Miley Cyrus films).

BTW, it has been suggested by the Panivore that there be an N1 bracket. Why should I do this? The vast Nostrumian Nation should be assembling that one. It would give her something to do on her way to "Grease." No, wait. Grease was last weekend. This weekend it's Greece. I always get those two confused.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Last night I looked at NatNats registration. This is more fun.

Doyle advances over Poe because he created a character that is as alive today as ever. Poe had more ideas, but ultimately Sherlock is eternal.

Wells over Verne for a better sf imagination. Time travel, space travel, deep earth travel, etc., versus trains and boats around the world and a submarine, all practical enough in their day.

Austen over Eliot for the sense of humor.

Dickens over Thackeray for depth of canon. Thackeray is good, but, ultimately, Dickens is better. That's just the way it is.

King over Steele for having further pervaded all aspects of American culture, and personal variety.

Connelly over Crais for purity.

Sparks over Roberts for (wait for it) sincerity.

Patterson over Brown for having more than one or two ideas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Needless to say...

...I am incredibly involved in March Madness.

Yeah. Right.

On the other hand, I do always like brackets. It's been a while. This one is sort of interesting: something I came up with in the DJ. It's not as easy as it looks.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thank God they don't do Declamation!

Last weekend was our District tournament, where I got to do my annual visit to the world of the Speecho-Americans. It was actually quite enjoyable.

First up was a USX round, on foreign policy. Straightforward enough. A couple of folks bunched at the top, how will US do in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Texastan and whatnot. People either knew what they were talking about or they didn’t. Then it was FX, an African section. Oy. “Will things in X get even worse?” was the topic 6 times in a row. The answer was always yes, because the government is corrupt, the government is getting more corrupt, and no one outside of the country cares. That’s three areas of analysis, with the extemp two-step for each one, plus the summary. Tough to do well, actually, because you would have to have actual insight and evidence about this vague continent that we, as Americans, like to pretend doesn’t exist. I applaud those who did well (since they were double-entered, as often as not it was the same ones who did well in USX). I remain a fan of extemp, although when it comes to ultimately separating out the top performers I don’t necessarily trust myself. It’s a long time between Number 1 and Number 6 if those two are the ones battling it out. Maybe CP can explain how to judge this to me.

Saturday, since Sailors were all over the LD map, I was seconded to OO finals. Normally this would have had me slashing my wrists, but it was pretty good. I was happy to see that my first choice won at the end of the day. My criteria for judging were a combination of performance and content, which for some reason seemed an easier call than whatever criteria I was using for Extemp. Go figure. I guess there should also be a phogna bologna criterion: the more you sound like the sort of person who makes me want to go slash my wrists rather than listen to you (the down side of OO), the lower I rank you. If your sincerity act isn’t working, in other words, you’re screwed.

After that it was on to Duo finals. Saw one guy who blew me away with a partner who was pretty good; no one else came close to this guy. But that didn’t necessarily add up to a winning pairing (although, in the event, I ultimately felt that it did). Let me tell you, LD judging by comparison to speech judging is about as much fun as having a hundred Hottentots banging on your head with frying pans during a hurricane. LDers have so lost the art of speaking as anything other than shoveling in a lot of evidence that I am, momentarily, brought back to the good old days of bemoaning that loss. I hadn’t thought about it for a while, to tell you the truth. (Shades of the Legion of Doom!) And I don’t think that LD loses value as it reaches Policy speed any more than I think Policy lacks value because of its speed, but of course, that value has almost nothing to do with public speaking aside from the act of literally doing it (having the courage to stand up and speak, that is).

The day wrapped up with a round of PF. It was an unclear debate, with lots of hassling over one piece of evidence, and in some ways an example of experienced debating versus intuitive debating. Experience knows enough to cover everything while intuition points you to that one thing that you think you’re obviously winning. The flaw in that intuitive approach is that putting all your eggs in one basket is a cliché indicating potential problems for a reason. Unless your basket is made of cement or something. Anyhow, Mother Ruff and I split on this one, and she demonstrated what I consider the bottom line requirement for any judge: she stuck to her decision and felt that she was right, period. Not that I thought she was wrong. It was a round that could have been evaluated either way, which is too bad when it comes to sending people to Kansas City. (Or really good, depending on your position about sending people to Kansas City.)

At the end of the day, speaking of KC, we will be sending the Panivore. She says she can’t wait to sample all the different kinds of barbecue, not to mention the—Wait a minute! That’s not the Panivore. Wait till she tastes what they call bagels in the Midwest. I’ve got a feeling she’s not going to want to go to Kansas anymore.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I the Jury

I am mildly disappointed at not having to go to NYC for jury duty. On the positive side, I don’t have to go down to NYC for jury duty, but on the negative side, I sort of enjoyed my previous jury stints. For a couple of weeks way back in the 70s I did two weeks of Manhattan civil court. This was back in the day when you went there and hung out. For two weeks a bunch of us played cards every day; I was never once called even to interview. At one point one of our group led us to his favorite Chinese restaurant and we had a great lunch. It turned out even greater when the guy turned out to be the owner! There is such a thing as a free lunch after all.

Those two weeks, by the way, made me an expert on civil law.

Then I spent a month or two on grand jury duty in White Plains. We’d show up a couple of days a week and, yes, as a result I became an expert on grand juries. The range of cases was large, but there was nothing really horrible: no murders or deaths, but there was one serious beating. Lots of DUIs. A little general mayhem, including the guy who was running down the street naked when he was arrested, and his explanation was that he had lost his clothes in a craps game. He was one of the high points of the experience, because he testified on his own behalf (against counsel). A word of advice: don’t do what your lawyer tells you not to do. And also, don’t bet your clothes on a roll of the dice.

I figured that this time out I would become an expert on criminal law. I also figured I would put what I have learned about nullification into practice, but alas, neither was to be. I do feel that I have served, however. Going by a Kantian interpretation of intention, coupled with the finagling I did at the DJ to make myself available to this great country of ours, plus the two telephone calls to a different area code, this looks pretty convincing to me. I should, by my lights, be off for the next four years.

I’m sure criminals, both state and federal, are in complete agreement with this interpretation.

Friday, March 19, 2010

We weigh in on the controversy

You may have been following the hoo-ha over Pffft topics. Jonathan P came out with a long piece about it, and the Wunn and Only replied on the part of the NFL. The issue is whether NFL "sold" topics, and whether this is wrong.

I don't know. I mean, given some of the crappy topics over the years (the discussion of better ways of choosing topics has been ongoing, including on TVFT), I probably would pay to make them better, but I don't think that's the issue. If the topic is, say, "How much better is Pepsi than Coke?" then we are probably in trouble, but if it's some vague newsy thing anyhow, I'm fairly agnostic. The NFL obviously needs to support itself beyond the dues I pay for nothing other than possible admission into a tournament I cannot attend. I realize that. Non-profits are not morally bound to be unprofitable, but merely to support their cause. Nobody I know complains about President Ersatz Lincoln goofing around at NatNats year after year. (If it were the Gieco gecko, though, things might be different.)

Anyhow, I'll just speak for myself. I, personally, could use an extra $150,000. Therefore, I will publicly announce that, if you're willing to give me money, I will write blog entries on whatever subject you want. I'll have Jules and the Mite write the subject into Nostrum. I'll talk about it with the other wieners on TVFT. For an extra $150,000, I'll advocate a position recommended by you. So, let's say you're Texas. For $150,000, I'll write up a piece on whether Thomas Jefferson should be considered a founder of the USA. For another $150,000, I'll write up a piece called "Thomas Who?" and point out what a %#*&@ bastid he was and explain why lips that speak his name should be ripped from their faces.

So now you know why I do all this. I'm only in it for the money.

If only there were some money in it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

5ive: isn't that pronounced five-ive? Weird.

Jackie, Tito and Jermaine have now officially added Marlon, but we still need the occasional Michael. (Translation: CP is now sort of the fourth TVFT panelist, whenever he isn’t doing DJ stuff, but we’re still happy to take on other people now and again.) Having a fourth person allows us to have someone take a day off for whatever reason but still the show will go on, although whether this is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. CP is certainly on our side of the forensics fence, running as many tournaments as he does, plus he brings us a Speecho-American perspective we are otherwise lacking. It should work out well. On the down side, CP was our only certified listener, which means that now, for all we know, no one at all is listening. [Sigh.] (And yes, I had to look up the names of the Jackson 5. Give me a break, please. If I knew the names of the Jackson 5, I would have retire to Tibet to live on a mountaintop and get all this crap out of my head. I’m bad enough as it is! The Jackson 5? Feh!)

Scarsdale HS has finally reopened, for those who are keeping score. JV is happy about it, of course, since the alternative was to hold Districts in his apartment. I’m not looking forward to it myself, mainly because the whether is so gorgeous that who wants to be cooped up judging an Extemp round when they could be outside just being warm and sunned on? I’ve got to figure out some way to play on Sunday. I’ve got to check if the golf courses are open! For that matter, just sitting on the porch relaxing in the warmth, reading a book, occasionally being bitten by Tik (pronounced teek)—there’s worse ways to spend an ordinary Sunday.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scarsdale Relief Fund: Contribute Now!

Scarsdale HS is the site of our District tournament this Friday. It’s also the site of the only totally shut-down school district in the region, thanks to the storms over the last weekend. Rather than taking their buses to school, district students have been seen on the decks of their family yachts, sailing down Main Street and sipping champagne cocktails wondering when the world will return to normal. “This sort of weather behavior is simply not acceptable,” one irate parent was quoted on the news last night. “We are not poor people in the third world. We will not stand for it!” You can’t help but sympathize with them. I’m running a clothes drive if you want to help out. Send me your old tidy whites or whatever, and I’ll bring ‘em with me Friday to clothe the unfortunate wet Scarswegians. It’s the least we can do.

Other than that, things are pretty steady as they go. Managed to put out a double dose of Nostrum this week. Thank goodness Jules and the Mite work ahead. I felt the doubling sort of made up for the lack of narrative last week. For some reason, I heard from O’C who seems to think that somehow the character of Halefoil Cumcut is based on him. This is ridiculous. Jules and the Mite insist that, while Nostrum is based on a true story, none of it is based on any of O’C’s true story, but if it were, he would more likely be mysterious samurai sword murderer than anyone else. And he’d be serving a life sentence in prison for it. “O’C Behind Bars” — It’s the Prison Movie You’ve Always Dreamed Of. In Disney 3D! Special Guest Star: Cinderella. (You know, Jules and the Mite should take note of that. I hate to do their work for them, but inspiration is inspiration, eh?)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Feel the ooze!

I wish there was all sorts of juicy stuff to report from the Bobcat at Byram Hills, but I went, I tabbed, I left, and there you are. I played with a website for the WDW trip during the down time (and drove O’C crazy by doing so), but that was the extent of the extracurriculars. Oh, yeah, there was also another Storm of a Lifetime, but that was mostly down-county, and while I gather that Scarswegia is now under twenty feet of water, I was able to drive home unassailed, picking up lamb chops at the local market and enjoying them back at the chez in a timely manner. Then I watched an episode of ST:TNG and collapsed into bed to await the coming of DST. How exciting, eh?

I manged to get postponed off jury duty till next week through no efforts of my own, which means I’ll be able to do a fairly full stint at Districts, oh joy, oh rapture. That means judging 2 LD rounds, 2 PF rounds, 1 extemp round and one random round of God knows what, which will wind up the month of March handily enough. After that, a couple of weeks off in this hiatus before the hiatus, followed by Lakeland and the Chetan-a-Go-Go. Then it’s the real hiatus.

I can feel the excitement just pouring out of me. And out of you too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Escaping steam

So last night we did TVFT with CP, and I think it went swimmingly. When you throw the four of us together, you’ve got an awful lot of tournament direction in one place. The material is probably interesting enough on its own merits; for those who run or are contemplating running tournaments, it’s probably even valuable.

Send money directly to my house, if you agree. I’ll split it with the other guys. Really.

I am feeling that sense of the steam slipping out of me, as far as the season is concerned. For a lot of the year I start up early or midday on Fridays, going through till late Saturday if not further, and now I look ahead at, well, not much of anything other than a long stretch of uninterrupted (aside from jury duty) DJ. I’ll be going after work tomorrow to Byram Hills, which doesn’t start till 5:00. Since I have no entries (for a variety of reasons, ranging from SATs to plebe ennui) I have no reason to be there for registration. I’ll have all the data ready, O’C can process late changes, and we can get Round 1 out on the dot of 5. No big deal. Next week is Districts, which, jury duty notwithstanding, I wouldn’t be there on Friday anyhow, and Saturday is a short day, and there you are. After that, aside from Lakeland next month and the one-day Chetan-a-Go-Go RR, it’s over. If you were me, you’d feel the steam slipping out of you, too. I will note that I’m going over to the golf shop on Sunday to get my clubs regripped, so I’m not totally without entertainment for the off hours…

Still, there are debate things to do. The recruitment pamphlet. Nostrum narration (I should be back next week). More TVFTs probably until at least May, although I would imagine we’ll go on hiatus for the summer, especially since the other two goobers will be instituting. There’s the WDW debate trip, which I’ll bore you to tears over (real big crocodile tears if you’re one of the people who decided not to join us). Plus I have a vacation to England coming up, although I tend not to talk too much about stuff like that, although I’ll probably take a lot of nice pix with my new SLR and I’ll post them somewhere.

And then, all of a sudden, it will be September again. Anyone know the signup deadline for Yale?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This is how the year ends

I think we’re done for the year meeting-wise, aside from prepping for CatNats after the rez comes out. It’s hard to scare up much of a Sailor quorum these days, and other than Lakeland coming up, and Districts, the season is about done. Not with a bang but with a whimper…

Next on the agenda is organizing the CatNatting Sailors—SuperSquirrel and the Panivore—both of whom are traveling en mere, as the Frenchies might say if that were actually a French idiom. Since I can’t go, they’re keeping it all in the family. I’ve got my own family thing that weekend, although I will admit that I’m not unhappy about it. Nebraska? Been there, done that. I mean, I’ve driven through it a couple of times, and I haven’t missed it in the intervening years. What did SBO call it on his blog? “Fly-over forensicians,” despite the fact that there’s probably more forensics per capita there than in the northeast. Whatever. (And I do thank SBO for taking over the Nostrum chores this week. Now if I could get him to take over the TVFT chores, I’d be in hog heaven.)

Last night only the captains showed up at the Chez to chew the fat, which is precisely what we did, with little form or substance. I’m putting together a pamphlet for recruiting, and we talked about that a bit. Then the PC told me about some episode in N1 where Starbuck (at which point I interrupted, “Who the hell is Starbuck?”) and the Don play miniature golf at a philosophy-themed course, which sounded pretty entertaining to me, since I’m both a fan of golf and of philosophy, which I feel are already inherently combined. Then we gossiped about all the Sailors who hadn’t shown up, and the Panivore complained that she was going to have to miss a couple of post-season tournaments because she has to take care of her pets (which are very large and you can sit on), and at some point Pip the Wondercat (who is a bit larger than usual these days, but I wouldn’t try to sit on him if I were you) came downstairs to visit, an unusual occurrence at chezzes, and they marveled at a cat who doesn’t bite you as soon as look at you the way Tik (pronounced teek) does. See what I mean about meetings reaching there whimpering endlife?

TVFT later tonight, Alice tomorrow night, Bobcat with O’C the night after that. Ain’t life grand?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

This post has more labels than content. Modernism forever!

TVFT fans rejoice! CP is joining us this week (he says). We’re still on the tournament-running kick, and since he runs a lot of the biggest, he’s the perfect victim guest. I gather he’s a little disappointed that we don’t do video, though. I guess he’s never seen Cruz, Bietz or me in person.

In another piece of interesting podcastian news, I was given this week off by Jules and the Mite so that a special guest star could do the job. I gather they’re coming out with episode 6½, not only not narrated by me but not written by them. Whatever. One never knows with these guys… I think I’ll use the time to go see “Alice.” Historically most Burton films look better than they are, but with Wonderland, there may not be anything wrong with that.

This weekend is Byram Hills’s Bobcat tournament. It will be a nice reasonably sized event with both LD and Policy. O’C and I are doing the former, which means a lot of catching up from not having done the postponed Lakeland event: that soundtrack to all of Epcot (4 disks!) is burning a whole in my travel bag. Speaking of soundtracks, the one song guaranteed to send Sailors out of the windows of my car is the Main Street Electrical Parade music, “Baroque Hoedown.” Eardrums have been deliberately pierced, just to avoid it. These Sailors have no taste in music whatsoever.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Why I don't write Nostrum: I don't have to!

There’s the Panivore, and now there’s the Little Ruffian (a Speecho-American). Who knew that he too was panivorous. I had talked to him in the past, and he intimated that by comparison to his famous sibling, he would eat anything that wasn’t nailed down. So after CFL Grands Saturday, we all went together to a team dinner at India House, our usual haunt.

Let me put this in the simplest terms: the details of the Little Ruffian’s omnivore nature had been greatly exaggerated.

I had already decided what the Paniovore would be up to. A mango lassi and a poori would tide her over well enough, and she was willing to go for it. As we were looking at the menu, the LR explained that he had never been to an Indian restaurant before. Or, it would appear, any restaurant. So what do you like to eat, we asked, still believing that by comparison to the P’s bread and milk shake, he would be tucking into a virtual Babette’s feast by way of Mumbai.

Pizza, he answered.

No meats. No vegetables. No fruits. No dairy. For some reason Dave, the Speecho-Coacho, believed that he could convince the LR to have some sort of beef dish, but 1) the LR doesn’t eat beef, and 2) this was an Indian restaurant. (Remind me to get Dave’s recipe for his famous Passover ham.) It turns out that the LR will eat a potato or an onion, provided the moon is in Pisces, so I ordered him a potato-and-onion-filled dosa, which is about as bland as you can order at India House without the manager coming over and asking you to leave. Meanwhile other Sailors were ordering the usual dishes (plus a fantastic Indian calamari dish—excellent!).

When the dosa arrived—it’s a foot-long crepe stuffed with, well, potatoes and onions—the Panivore started picking uninvited at the edges (the crepe part uncontaminated with either potatoes or onions) while the Little Ruffian just stared at it for a while. Finally, he produced a knife and fork (thus settling a few side bets about whether he had ever handled either of them before) and cut off a smidge. And I mean a smidge. After an hour he put that smidge on his fork. This was followed by a team reading of War and Peace in its entirety, in the original Russian, by the end of which time the forkful of dosa was poised outside the LR’s far-from-open mouth. Finally, the maw was ajar, the fork was thrust into the mouth, and the food was taken in.

There was a pause throughout the restaurant. Conversations stopped not only at all the surrounding tables but also at the bar and in the kitchen, plus outside where the dishwashers were catching up on their hookah smoking.

No expression showed on the Little Ruffian’s face. He didn’t…hate it. But, well, he didn’t like it either. After a moment, he shook his head.

“Geronimo!” one of the Sailors yelled, and within seconds each had taken a portion of the dosa, leaving nothing in front of the LR but an empty plate garnished only with one soggy bay leaf he had warily pulled out of the thing before taking his one bite.

And then the poori arrived, followed by both plain and garlic nan. With that, brother and sister had found their nourishment, and I’ve never seen so much wheat disappear so quickly, or at least not since Stalin’s final Five Year Plan, but that’s another thing altogether. Every time the waitress walked by we put in an order for more nan. I understand they had to quickly hire an extra team of chefs just to keep up.

So, we asked at some point during the evening, are your parents like this? No, was the reply; they’ll eat anything. Which is why, whenever the young ‘uns are on the forensics trail, the parents are—you guessed it—out to eat. Apparently as soon as the kids are out the door, Mom and Pop head out to any restaurant they can find. Their middle name is Zagat. They’ll eat anything from sheep’s brains to worm butts.

I’m not quite sure where we should schedule our next team dinner. The Panivore sibs pronounced themselves well sated by all the available breadstuffs. And the rest of us enjoyed the usual menu of curries and whatnot, including that great squid. So maybe we’ll go back to India House again. The entertainment value alone was worth the price of admission. Next time we’ll see if the Little Ruffian will eat rice. Probably not, but one never knows. Then again, Indian rice has peas in it. The LR did look at the rice at one point and ask what those little green things were.

On the bright side, when these two go to college, imagine all the money their parents will save by not having to purchase the meal plan!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Yes, we always do talk about you when you're not there. What did you expect?

A nice Catholic dinner last night. We gossiped about everyone, including you. A fine time was had by all.

We’ve definitely settled into the three-judge mode for tomorrow at Grands. So hard. Judges splitting flights and going from room to room, judging the same people on different sides, everything on cards, with the computer doing little more than nodding its approval. Yucch! We usually don’t finish up till the cows go home. And I hear it’s going to be a nice day. The good news that I’ll be back in the city Sunday, for lunch with Kate and whatnot. It’ll cover a multitude of sins.

And the Lakeland-MHL Mashup is mostly sorted out. Stefan posted his info and I posted ours. This whole VLD Challenge Format looks like fun, I must admit. The point is to end the season with a bang. Since for me the NY States remains unsatisfactory, this is our chance to do something valedictory for the season. Additionally, it’s close to home, it’s tabbing with O’C, and it’s totally goofy, so it’s worth the effort. I hope we get a good turnout of friends who feel likewise.

Speaking of valediction, the Sailors really haven’t done anything slam-bang to end the season in as long as I can remember. I’m starting to cook something up in my mind. We’ll see how it works out.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Manhattan Lodestone closes. Thousands of students sent out to the street to sell pencils.

We TVFTed last night. I thought CP might join us, but he was apparently too busy making money at his day job (and also trying to convince Jules that the authors of Nostrum couldn’t possibly have been lost in the snowstorm in which they were lost because the snowstorm didn’t exist—this is over at the Nostrum Nation blog—which is sort of like Richard Dawkins lecturing at the Vatican, but that’s another thing altogether) so it was just the usual suspects. But it was interesting. We attacked tournament management, and in 45 minutes barely got started. Rather than do a 3NR-type 20-hour podcast (wink, wink, but I listen to those guys myself on their less esoterically polician issues, and you probably should too, just to keep up) we decided to break it up into parts. In other words, more to come. At least this time we actually recorded it, and it was worth it, as compared to last week when we didn’t record it, which was better still because it sucked eggs. This one also includes naughty bits, although my swearing and O’C saying “Bleep bleep” after the fact isn’t really what I would call effective airwaves management.

Bleep bleep indeed!

Speaking of Nostrum, one of the things about being an old mentor to the lads is that I get to find out what’s going to happen before anyone else. (The Panivore thinks there’s something odd about this, but as a general rule, the actors in a play know get to know what’s in a play at a point before the audience finds out.) I was able to share a few tidbits with O’C, not enough to give anything away but enough to keep him on the edge of his seat. He seriously thinks that he’ll be spoofed in the series at some point. Hmmm. I do know that the list of characters on the Nostrum Nation site keeps growing, and that O’C is tracking it obsessively for clues (the fact that Manhattan Lodestone’s ultimate “e” had inadvertently not been bold-faced sent him into conniptions; I had ask Jules to fix it or face losing O’C to the darker more padded reaches of Bellevue). ’Tis a strange and glorious world we live in.

Catholic dinner tonight, poker tomorrow, Grands on Saturday. Great entertainment all around, if you ask me.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Department of Clarification

For about the millionth time…

Last night we chezzed it up in Sailorville, and the subject of Nostrum arose. The usual belief that Jules and the Nostrumite are not the authors of this series was yet again refuted by yours truly. I mean, Jules has a blog, and a life, and whatever, that has nothing to do with me. I am the speaker of the words; that does not automatically make me their creator. Think about it. Let’s say that last night you watched “24” on TV. Do you really think that Kiefer Sutherland made up all his own lines? Jeesh.

By the same token, do you really believe that there’s a Jack Bauer? For some reason, people believe that in Nostrum there’s some sort of one-to-one ratio of fictional people to real people, as in, Seth B. Obomash is really [fill in the blank] or Amnea Nutmilk is really [fitb] or Hamlet P. Buglaroni or whoever is [ditto]. It’s not so much that people believe everything they read, but that they read everything so literally. What are we teaching our children in the schools these days? What part of “It’s fiction” don’t people understand? If it were just a chronicling of real life, Jules and the Mite would have labeled it nonfiction and, although maybe they would have changed the names to protect the innocent (i.e, themselves, from libel suits), they would have indicated that what was at hand was unabashed truth. Nostrum, on the other hand, like all fiction, is abashed truth. Its roman a clef leanings are minimal. In other words, there is really no mafia don nicknamed “The Whale,” and the character of Hans Castorp is a direct name steal from The Magic Mountain (by Thomas Mann, not by Six Flags) and is not directing a movie starring young Buglaroni. My favorite leap is when people claim that categorically such-and-such was based on so-and-so doing you-know-what, when in fact the Nostrum story was written five years before the real life event. Not only do people not understand the concept of fiction, they’re also a little fuzzy on the concept of timelines. Mes etoiles! at Hautboy LeMonde (who does not exist and is not based on something that hasn’t happened yet) might say.

In other words, Nostrum, while “based on a true story,” as it is sometimes noted, is a work of fiction. And it is written by Jules O’Shaughnessy (a bookstore clerk and pretender to the throne of Moravia) and the Nostrumite (a teacher and debate coach at Tennessee Williams HS).

(By the way, please do not infer from this that The View from Tab is also fiction, written by Jules and the Mite, and that O’C, Bietz and I are just reading our parts. There are no such people as O’C and Bietz, and even if there were, Jules and the Mite wouldn’t have bothered to invent them.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

I do not like DI, you ham!
I do not like emoting spam.

I do not like it, NFL:
I say that it can go to hell.

And Declamation is the pits.
It gives me pains, it gives me fits.

I do not like it, CFL:
I say that it can go to hell.

PF is cool, except the flip,
And focuses, with all that lip.

Why can’t they all be calm and nice
Instead of being nasty mice?

I do like Pol, but not the speeds.
I cannot flow when my brain bleeds.

OOers make me cry and moan.
They whine and mope, grovel and groan.

I do not like them, not at all:
Not when they’re short, not when they’re tall.

I do not like them, NFL:
I say that they can go to hell.

I do not like the Duo pairs
With blue serge suits and spiky hair.

They sing when they do not perform—
In hell they would be nice and warm.

And then, of course, there is extemp
With mostly made-up evidemp.

“Time” Magazine, March Eleven?
Don’t expect extemp in heaven.

The Congress folk make phony laws
That give the average person pause—

“Mr. Speaker! Mr. Speaker!”
Squeaking worse than Muppet Beeker.

Finally there’s Lincoln-Douglas
To educate and entertain us.

But speed and cards, K and theory,
Make LD like CX, Dearie,

Only blander (and much shorter):
It should go to hell, it oughta.

I do not like Speech and Debate.
I do not like them, no, I hate!

I do not like them on a bus,
I do not like their angst and fuss.

I wish they’d join the football team
And keep their mouths shut—that’s my dream!

Monday, March 01, 2010

The season continues, beaten down but not bowed

So now we settle down into sorting things out.

O’C and Stefan had a long correspondence about the combining of Lakeland and the MHL Grand Championships, most of which sort of flew by me. Mostly Lakeland will be Lakeland, with some MHL froufrou. It’s going to be fun to have a summary two-day event to mark the end of the season, even though from Stefan’s point of view, a summary two-day event to mark the end of February would have been more desirable. I know what it’s like to cancel a tournament. At least he did so for the storm of the century. Canceling a tournament and then having a couple of cumulus clouds over the horizon be the only sign of weather is very, very depressing. I remember the year I canceled Bump, on a Thursday. That Friday I woke up to over a foot of snow in my driveway. I couldn’t even make it to my car. I fell into a snowdrift and had to be rescued by the local sanitation department. I was overjoyed. I’m sure Stefan felt likewise, although as far as I know, he didn’t have to be rescued by anyone.

This weekend is CFL Grands, which around here is very tough. Six LD slots for about twelve excellent LDers. It’s quite a bloodbath. If there’s over twenty entries, which looks likely, JV and I need to assign 3 judges per panel. Very tough. I, for one, am praying for a field of 19. Please join me in that prayer. Last year, with only 2 judges per panel, we single-flighted and finished even before the Declaimers. It was like waking up to a foot of snow after you’ve canceled your tournament!

Speaking of the CFL, this week the officers get together to celebrate the end of the season with a nice farewell dinner. Farewell, 2009-10! Or at least farewell to the Catholics of 2009-10! Since I can’t do Omaha, this really will be my last Catholic weekend for a while. Any Sailors who qualify realize that they will be CatNatting without me. None of them seem too upset by the prospect. They’re so eager to go to Omaha at any cost that they’ll do anything, even abandon me in a snowdrift until the sanitation department comes along and rescues me. No offense to Omaha, by the way. If Omaha didn’t exist, I would be among the first to invent it. May you ever rule the waves!

After that, there’s Byram Hills, then my probably abridged attendance at Districts thanks to jury nullification duty. So, stuff keeps happening, at least up through the send-off at Lakeland. Life goes on, in other words, while preparing for the Great American Disney Hoo-Ha. I mean, it is all about the Disney Hoo-Ha. Everything else is just…debate.