Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

We've have said more farewells than Cher, the Who and the Eagles combined

However, I like Claire's analysis of the LD-as-policy material, which she put out as separate comments, which I'll connect here.

Now that I've gotten a shout-out, I feel the need to clarify the argument I didn't quite make in my last comment. I agree that the nichification of LD is a concern, but I'm going to set that aside at first, since that's not what I was whining about.

The claim "LD is turning into policy" is substantiated in various ways, among them references to "speed, various forms of argumentation, disclosure, etc." I personally don't care about speed, or theory (except when it's rhetorical nonsense), at least not philosophically. I am concerned about the effects disclosure has on the nature of the activity in terms of what skills are learned, and specifically what skills are necessary to win a round. You said, referencing the use of evidence in rounds:

"you reach a point where the only way anyone can evaluate what you’ve said is to read the case when no one is speaking (which is why some policy rounds take forever, because they’re decided by judges after the round is over, when they finally get a chance to find out what everyone was arguing). There is a direct result of all of this, which is the creation of a cadre of judges who are capable of handling it."

Another result is that winning a round becomes more and more about advance preparation, and less and less about the ability to understand, dissect, respond to, and construct value-based arguments on the fly. I'm about to overgeneralize wildly about an activity I know very little about. The fact that policy rounds are often decided after the round by reading cases that were picked, blocked, prepped, and carded in advance (and that the skill of the round, I suppose, is in selecting and expressing the pieces of your prep work that are useful) obviates much of what I loved about LD rounds (…10 years ago). The round isn't won *in the round*, it's won after the round, which means it's really won in the library ahead of time.

Of course, advance prep and evidence are integral in LD, and I concede that the arguments made on either side in any given LD round don't vary much on a given topic. But there's a difference between adapting responses you commonly make to an opponent's particular argumentative setup, even if you're familiar with it, and spitting out blocks by rote because you knew exactly what was coming. My primary claim is that I think there's a line somewhere between Policy and LD where the nature of the skills needed to win changes with the amount of advance preparation needed in order to be competitive. *waves hands to emphasize somewhat fuzzy and difficult-substantiate conclusion*

Disclosure specifically encourages massive advance preparation. I will elide the argumentative details supporting this claim because it's obvious. I'm sure such a round is interesting and valuable for many people; I think it would bore me to tears. I loved the challenge of understanding and dissecting an argument on the fly.

(On a similar note, using evidence to support statements of fact is Good. I'm not all like "OMG EVIDENCE LIKE POLICY??!!!" I just don't want the increasing use of evidence to change the nature of an LD resolution, argument, or round, which are, fundamentally, supposed to be questions of value, to be a little cliche about it.)

That was my main argument. Since I was never one to leave well enough alone:

In my view, such a shift exacerbates structural unfairness in the activity. Yes, some schools will always have more money, more coaches, more access to resources and evidence and research, etc etc. But since disclosure makes winning be more and more exclusively about advance prep, it's more exclusively about who has the bigger tubs, which means the kids without the tubs are even more disadvantaged than before. Policy had the K to deal with this exact problem - if you didn't have a huge program to help you prep, you just *couldn't win,* so you had to do something *completely different*. I like to pretend that the solitary kid from a small program can still win an LD round against someone from Apple Valley, but this gets harder and harder if the opposition can literally practice the 1AR at higher and higher speeds (and thus higher and higher argument density) ahead of time, thanks to disclosure and a coaching staff with the time to block out. I sort of think this is what Palmer was saying in the long-ass blog post he wrote on the subject, or at least that was the take-away message I got, or at least I think it was, since it's been ages since he wrote it.

I (Menick) will add that I've always valued policy because of its research and use of evidence, which are among its main benefits to students. The benefits of LD, as CLG says, tend to be somewhere else.

And now I, too, will be somewhere else. Follow the idiocy on Twitter, #DiDeAd.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I don’t agree with this, from TD’s comment: i do not think that the best solution is to have all the money + power types play one game and everyone else play a game that is qualitatively different (and deficient in some serious regards). in fact, i would say that i am strongly against this…at the end of the day, are we seriously happy with a system that takes real world inequalities and brutally plays them out with the end result of emotional trauma for the weak and a renewed sense of entitlement and power for the strong. I don’t think it’s a matter that the moneyed schools are getting something that the non-moneyed schools aren’t getting, aside from the obvious bigger pile of money. No one has yet demonstrated, anywhere, that $ircuit debate is better than local debate, in any context. No one has demonstrated that it’s more educational (the prioritized value), better as debate (the essentialist value) or even more fun (and given the amount of time spent on airplanes, you’ve got to wonder about that one). I stick by it’s just being different. Would I prefer to have all the money in the world for my team? Sure. But I have to point out that some of the most traveling teams out there are not funded by rich school boards, but by teams’ sweat equity of fund-raising, either on their own or working their alums. That’s not privilege in my book. But even if it were, it wouldn’t matter because, as I say, I can’t make a value assessment on that non-$ircuit is “deficient.” If it is, then let’s fix it. But that’s a different subject.

One issue that has floated close to the surface in all these discussions is the idea of LD as Policy manqué. Or, as John Updike once put it, manqué see, manqué do. Claire’s comment sort of brought this home to me (at the end of this post), although she only briefly alludes to it. Others have been more direct, pointing ot that our reliance on “evidence” is making us more policy-like, as does speed, various sorts of argumentation, disclosure, etc. (I put evidence in quotes because, in the real world, evidence is the presentation of fact, or what is presumed as fact, albeit often subject to interpretation, whereas in debate, evidence is often just some schmoe’s opinion on something, a point made more eloquently than you could have made it, alluded to to enhance your position by the magic of contagion rather than by the support of true warrant, i.e., the facts to back it up. But, alas, that is as true of policy as it is of LD.) I have long seen, and it has long been commented on, that often what is happening in LD that people are particularly getting their knickers in a twist over, is some sort of bastardized or bad policy. Do LDers want to be policy debaters when they grow up, in other words? Policy people like to think so but then again, how many philosophical arguments have we developed that they’ve co-opted? It’s a two-way street.

There is no question that all activities can look at other activities and borrow from them in aid of improvement. Policy debate, coming first chronologically, spent years integrating classical ideas of rhetoric and argument into the activity, ideas that LD originally either pooh-poohed or was unaware of. Lately one trend in LD is to argue alone more classical lines, labeling arguments (at least on the back end, if not in the rounds) with the technical understanding and demands of classical rhetoric. This is all to the good. What we did intuitively in the 90s we now do confidently, putting a name on it with the aid of thousands of years of rhetorical study behind us. Much of so-called theory is nothing more than dispensing of rhetorical nonsense with rhetorical orthodoxy. (Of course, much of so-called theory is also just more rhetorical nonsense, which I guess we have to meet with more rhetorical orthodoxy. So it goes.) The use of evidence on the other hand, is problematic, because it is so entangled in the chickeny egg of the resolutions: which comes first, the resolution that requires factual evidence or a normative of evidence use that demands factual resolutions? Which is why I sort of like no-nukes, because although one must dangle plenty of facts in front of one’s judge, one ultimately must fall back on a philosophical rationale of right and wrong that no fact can warrant. Anyhow, the issue of speed is also one of LD not necessarily imitating policy, but finding (independently?) that if you have a resolution that requires evidence, the more evidence the better (maybe), and the faster you go, the more evidence you can enter into the record, until you reach a point where the only way anyone can evaluate what you’ve said is to read the case when no one is speaking (which is why some policy rounds take forever, because they’re decided by judges after the round is over, when they finally get a chance to find out what everyone was arguing). There is a direct result of all of this, which is the creation of a cadre of judges who are capable of handling it. No one can handle intense speed without practice; I used to be pretty good at it, and now I suck because I don’t judge enough. I still judge as well or as poorly as I always did, but then I did it quicker. In a round conducted at moderate speed, I’m fine, but to many that makes me a bad judge because their cases require entering more material onto the floor than I’m capable of handling. As we create this cadre of judges capable of handling speed, with, presumably, the understanding of rhetoric at a high level, we do exactly what policy did, which is to limit the market of who can judge, which has the effect eventually of limiting the numbers of people who can debate. Policy is fairly moribund in the northeast these days as far as invitationals is concerned, with the handful of schools with policy teams mostly forced to find these varsity opportunities outside of the region. When I offered policy at Bump I was always stymied by my inability to provide judging beyond what the teams brought, and most of them couldn’t bring enough, hence the cycle of diminishing participation.

So the question is not, is LD becoming more like policy, and will disclosure intensify this process, because that seems to be pretty much a given, at least at the $ircuit level. The bigger question is whether the policification of LD will eventually turn it into a similar niche event on the extracurricular level. (In states where debate is taught and policy is a norm, it hasn’t gone away or gotten out of control, but it stays where it is, for the most part.) My thing is, I like the moving around that we get from debate, the going away for a weekend, the mixing with other schools on a very intimate level, and the growth opportunities that offers to students, opportunities that I strongly believe are educational. Compare this to speech around here, which is entirely one-day events except at the colleges, and hence much more insular, with some friendships of course but mostly teams sticking to themselves for no other reason than the nature of the event: you’re there, you compete, you go home, compared to you’re there FOREVER, you compete, you eat, you sleep, etc.

I have no answers to any of that. All I can suggest is that, when you’re thinking of topics to send to NFL for consideration, or when you’re voting on the topics of the year, if you want to move LD from evidence-based case constructions, then act accordingly. That is entirely where the action is on deciding the future of LD. All this other stuff, a little bit. The resolutions? The main event. Everything else stems from that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Disclosure final summary (or at least I'll bet the VCA hopes it's final)

I’ll say this. We are definitely in an era of multiple LD universes. Not merely the multiplicity of newbies and veterans, but the multiplicity of interpretations of what, exactly, the activity actually is, much less what it ought to be. True, like everything else, it has been changing since the day it was born, so this is nothing new. It wasn’t all that long ago that the Legion of Doom was predicting the end of life on the planet as we know it, thanks entirely to the existence of debate camps and their facilitators, who made Lucifer look like SpongeBob Squarepants. Not long ago we argued about MJP. Now we’re discussing disclosure. Who knows what it will be tomorrow? But one thing becomes clear. There are different perceptions of different events, and different people doing different things, and it is good to remind ourselves of this once in a while.

What different events, different people, different things? Well, first of all, we need to remember that the national circuit, or as I always refer to it for essentialist reasons, the $ircuit, is a small part of the activity. Most LDers do not participate in many tournaments with TOC bids, while tournaments with TOC bids are attended by many of the same students who travel freely around the country to attend them, especially as the bid gets more generous. The bid-getters at octos tournaments tend to be about the same 24 people in a given year, mixed around a bit, over and over. The field at Greenhill = the field at Bronx = the field at Glenbrooks, etc., with some seasoning to taste. It costs money to habituate the national circuit, so the teams that go are well funded one way or the other. And that funding is probably dependent on results. If the Millard Fillmore HS LD team wants to travel around the country to all the octos tournaments, they’d better do damned well at those tournaments, or the funding will go to the Millard Fillmore HS tiddly-winks team. So the Millards hire some aggressive young assistant coaches, etc., etc. It doesn’t matter if the money is official or not. If the money is coming from the parents’ pockets, the parents will stop paying if they believe that it’s for nothing, that little Janie or Johnny is as likely to do well at these tournaments as, well, SpongeBob Squarepants. What has happened as a result of breathing this mix of results-based, high-priced, travel-intensive (when do some of these kids ever go to school?) atmosphere, the octos tournaments, and some of the quarters, have become a unique universe. The stakes are high. People are heavily invested in succeeding. And the nature of the players is such that certain things can be expected: the participation of large, solidly talented squads, very small coach-to-team ratio, high coach participation, prioritization of competitive success over general forensics benefits (although those benefits are still there). Considerations like MJP, as we’ve discussed, makes a lot of sense in this universe. Disclosure may or may not make sense, but I would venture that we are only talking about it in this particular universe, at least now; unless some absolute benefits are proven that are applicable to all the other universes of debate, which certainly was not true of MJP, I can’t see it become the norm no matter what. Hell, as AT says, it’s not even the norm at the octos tournaments in policy, where in fact it is the norm in the activity at much lower levels. Go figure.

I would venture a guess that there are about 150 to 200 at most people living in this $ircuit universe, if for no other reason than that most high schools can’t afford it, in this or any economy. How many high school activities require traveling around the country every couple of weeks, and missing almost as much school as you attend? So it’s a small universe to begin with, and one I don’t think is replicated anywhere else in high school curricula.

So maybe there’s thousands of other LDers in the country. Sure, they know about TOC and would love to qualify, but their chances are slim because their opportunities to attend bid tournaments are few. So it goes. So are these debaters lesser debaters, or are they debating some different way? The answers are, not intrinsically, and not necessarily. But they are debating in a different universe, and breathing a different atmosphere. It is a universe comprising mostly local participants, including local judges. They are not debating in front of someone who just taught theory at VBI, in other words. There’s probably less speed involved. There may not be as much time and effort spent by the debaters (missing all that school and doing all that debate work, intensive training with virtually private coaches), so their sword will have a less sharp edge, even if there’s no intelligence difference between our local debater and our TOC debater. You don’t have to be a TOC debater to be smart; there’s a whole other bunch of factors involved.

Even in my region in the northeast, which has plenty of debaters, and a number of TOC types, there’s a vast difference from one contest to the next. Mostly we have events judged heavily by the alums of the host school, with fields comprising sophomores up to seniors, where everybody pretty much started debating one another back as noobs, and their common shared values are as much SpongeBob Squarepants as the PICs in the nuclear neg. We also have the NYC Invitational, which while in our region is far from regional and is wall-to-wall $ircuiteers. And we have maybe a dozen or so MHL/CFL events for the new debaters who couldn’t find a banana at a United Fruit convention. [You know I’m writing a serious article when I provide my own metaphors!]

The thing we need to remember is what we’re talking about for whom, and what we’re asking of whom, and what we’re bringing to the different universes. For our newbies, we brought the Modest Novice, to train them better, with a beautifully clean and philosophical civil disobedience topic. For our regional invitationals, we provide community rankings that are meaningful in their region. For $ircuit folk, we render unto them the things that are $ircuitous. All of these are different, and they all co-exist fine, for the most part. The goal of high school forensics—all of it—is the education of students in certain ways of thinking and speaking and writing and researching and communicating. Most of the time, we are very much working to achieve that goal.

There is something else that we need to remember, however. If you are going to move from one of these universes to another, you are going to have to live off the atmosphere of that universe. You are going to have to play by the rules of the polity. If you go to octos tournaments, well, suck it up, Sailors, or whoever, because they are going to be filled with big, powerful teams with war rooms pumping out evidence like Sarah Palin pumping out incoherent gobbledygook on her Twitter account. You may be a small team. That is tough. You’re in a big team world. Adapt. Adjust. Deal with it. Find your way to succeed despite it. Whatever. It is that world. It is what it is. Don’t like it? Don’t go.

The same holds true at the regional tournaments. Oh, you just went to Greenhill, Bronx, Apple Valley and Glenbrooks, and now you’re here at the SpongeBob Squarepants Invitational in the town of Resume Speed somewhere in upstate New York a couple of miles north of Montreal? Well, don’t whine in your $ircuitous way about the crappy local judging and how everyone here is a rube from the burbs and why am I wasting my time here anyhow, I belong at bid tournaments, I’m too good for this! Yeah, right. I’ve got two words for you: Bronx Science. Cruz has set a standard for his team of participation at all events, up and down the line, that could be the standard for everyone. Your team is too good to attend such-and-such a tournament? Screw you! If you were all that good, you’d be making it a better tournament, but your belief in your own goodness pretty much guarantees that, well, good you ain’t.

We need to honor all of us. We don’t need to agree with, love or act like all of us, but we have a big pool of players, and I don’t know anyone on my side of it that isn’t trying to do their best for the education of as many students as possible. So they’re hard-edged competitors? Well, they’re in hard-edged competitive situations. They don’t understand the latest hot-college-coach-generated arguments? Well, their school just laid off ten percent of their teachers, and this isn’t exactly a high income neighborhood we’re talking about. I’ve always personally believed, and I’ve pointed this out here, that I am proudest of what I have done for my least talented students. If a student is a natural debater, I’m mostly a travel agent. But for students with a little curiosity and a need to develop some thinking/reading/speaking/researching/writing skills, I have something to offer that is the reason I do this in the first place.

I have loved this discussion of disclosure, which, as I say, is a $ircuit issue. I’ve learned a lot, and expect to learn more in the forge of the Bronx experiment. But it is an isolated issue, and it doesn’t directly relate to most of my debate year. Indirectly, however, it may have some effects. I’m curious too to learn what those effects might be. What is the point of this posting? Well, just to remind people of the parochial nature of what we’ve been saying, for one thing, and to remind people that, as I said above, the rules of the house are the rules of the house, and if you don’t like them, don’t visit the house. If you don’t like what the $ircuit is up to, don’t bother with it. Plenty of people thrive in LD without giving two peeps to the $ircuit and $ircuit tournaments, and it doesn’t bother them in the least. Nor should it. On the other hand, I love discussion! I love hearing people’s opinions expressed intelligently, and I thank everyone who has done so here over the last couple of weeks. This has been some of the most fun I have had on the blog in a while.

But for now, well, I’m going to Disney World.

I can't even follow me anymore

Ryan R says:

Maybe I'm not understanding your math, but 6 cases per side means that worst case scenario (with your two debaters on opposite sides in round 7) you'd only have to disclose 8 of your 12 cases in prelims. Depending on whether one or both of them break, and depending on how flips work out, your remaining 4 should be able to run all-new cases at least through octas, possibly though finals. Seems pretty equitable to me, at least by the standard you set in your post.

I'll leave aside my quibbles about the diminishing strategic returns for new cases, but think of it this way: pre-disclosure, BigTeamsVille had to write 10 (or whatever) cases in order to be able to run a new case every round, and post-disclosure they have to write 60. Isn't that a comparative advantage to Hen Hud?

But if we're disclosing, then the math doesn't matter. If we're not disclosing, or we're disclosing everything, my 2 people have to absorb 60 cases and their 10 people and multiple coaches have to absorb 6. In the fifteen minutes before the round. Where perhaps none of those cases will be run. It's the 6 cases per person, multiplied by the number of people. Advantage BigTeamsVille.

But I'm more interested in the whole Alice in Wonderland situation of disclosure meaning you never have to disclose.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More, because BT makes an excellent point

B Taylor comments, and I'll reply:

So, be careful what you wish for. While disclosure rules of Bronx (and I guess the others) only require disclosure of what you have run, Bietz' article "The Case for Public Case Disclosure", Rostrum, May 2010 seems to read in favor of disclosing all in advance.

Advance disclosure will certainly eliminate the constructive speech prep-out. But as noted the small team inherits a new problem even more daunting, the task of "prep-up". Your two varsity LD sailors will now be facing prep for 60 H-W cases, a load of 30 each to share. While the H-W team’s prep load for Hud is about one case per person, sharing the prep. And note, whether the large teams choose to do this or not is not important -- the possibility they can, or might, will compel the competitive small team to work that much harder.

If disclosure is intended to help the small competitive team, then, as the coach of a small competitive team I’ll say stop helping us! This is not the help we need.

Apologies for the naivety and if this has been discussed before, but how about reinstating a tournament culture that declares the prep-out unethical? The debate community, prominent coaches and tournament organizers, can declare that the prep-out is unfair, and specifically sharing of flows for the purpose of gaining a competitive advantage (as opposed to educational) is unfair. This would need to be top-down, from coaches to their students, implementing a step-change in the customary activity at tournaments.

In industry we often use the 80-20 rule. You can't fix everything, but if you take care of the big things you've made a significant improvement. This would apply here -- there is no way to stop the informal disclosure that happens by word of mouth when students talk between rounds. But if you eliminate the sharing of detailed flows and curb the expectation that getting a prep-out advantage is OK, you'll go a long way to minimizing the disadvantage facing the little guy today.


Et moi:

First of all, my irony may not have been apparent. I frankly do not think that most teams want to give up any advantage whatsoever, and I do not expect anyone to accept my challenge.

More importantly, back in the Good Old Days, what you describe is absolutely the world we lived in. On the old ld-l listserver, there was a long discussion of the ethics of judges/coaches—and teammates—sharing flows. In those days, I was a strong proponent of not giving my teams flows that I had observed. This was, in fact, the norm. In a fifteen years, we have come to this.

I think the point of disclosure is to cover the fact that big, powerful teams have an advantage (an undeniable fact, regardless of its source) and to attempt to lessen that advantage. I certainly don't think the proponents, whom I consider friends, are in this mendaciously. Nonetheless, my feeling is that at this point the arguments in favor of disclosure fail on their own alleged merits. The discussion of what LD is, or has become, is a bigger and, perhaps, more interesting, albeit less controllable discussion, insofar as I don't know what we can do about it. The disclosure people are taking the step because they firmly believe it is a good thing for all, no question in my mind about that. My point with the original posting earlier was that, from everything I've seen, it's much ado about very little.

Case disclosure - A challenge

Maybe I'm missing something, but I’m starting to believe that the fatal flaw of disclosure is enough to prove that the process, as it exists, absolutely works in favor of big programs and to the detriment of small programs.

Stick with me on this.

I have two—count ’em, 2—varsity LD debaters. That’s the whole shooting match. The entire varsity squad. Not two at a tournament, but two in total. There is no bench strength, as they say. And, as the VCA knows, I do not provide cases, positions, blocks, evidence, etc.

My guess is that Bronx Science, Greenhill and Harvard-Westlake have, say, a minimum of 10 varsity LD debaters each comprising their squads (I’m being parsimonious in my estimate) and at least 2 coaches each providing to some extent positions, blocks and evidence, if not whole cases.

Go back and read, which remains unanswered. The point there was that, despite all the claims of the benefits of disclosure, under the present rules of engagement it is a simple matter that a debater can attend a tournament that requires disclosure and never once disclose what he or she is going to run for the entire tournament.

I would suggest that all the so-called benefits of disclosure are negated by the rules of engagement, insofar as disclosure doesn’t necessarily happen, or at most it only happens that the small programs disclose by mathematical default while the big programs do not.

Let’s look at the realities. My 2 guys go to Bronx, with disclosure mandated. They have, between them, the ability to create, we will say for argument’s sake, 3 good new cases each on each side. (The numbers don’t matter here, as they will scale regardless of their accuracy.) They can, therefore, scrape together 6 cases for the tournament.

Greenhill and H-W, also attending the tournament, even if we assume similar capabilities (which isn’t true, because of coaching differences), can also create 3 good new cases each for each side, numbering a total of 60 cases.

The discrepancy here is obvious. If a team is not required to actually run a disclosed case, if a team can in good conscience pull out a totally new case for each round, then the bigger school’s advantage is manifest. All the disclosure in the world is pointless because they’ve only disclosed what they’ve run, not what they’re going to run in a given round. For that matter, even if they did run what they’ve disclosed, they can have disclosed 60 cases, whereas my guys will have disclosed 6, and at the tournament, with their full contingent of entries (not the 10 but, say, 5) plus position-providing coaches, their advantage after my guy’s cases are disclosed is overwhelming. They have the personnel to use the disclosure; my guys will be swamped. Worse, as often as not, my guys will be prepping against a case that isn’t going to be run!

So, first, no one is really disclosing. Second, big teams even if they do disclose, can be disclosing so much as to render the disclosure counterproductive.

I mentioned Bronx, Greenhill and H-W because the former two mandate disclosure at their tournaments, and the coach of the latter has been one of its strongest proponents. But all the benefits they have claimed seem strangely chimerical to me, other than the wiki providing a body of research, a different issue altogether. All the arguments I’ve seen on the benefits of disclosure are only gained when disclosure is real. So I would ask this of these large programs in favor of disclosure. Are they willing to disclose exactly what cases they will be running at a tournament prior to the tournament? All of them, if more than one? And are they clearly willing to note which they’ll be running when, if needs be? In other words, are they really willing to disclose, in advance, so that if one of my 2 guys hits them, my guys can benefit from disclosure, that my guys can read the cases in advance and get a little prep? Are they willing to reevaluate the rules of engagement so that we really have disclosure, and not just some hurdles that are disclosure in name only that may ultimately benefit only large teams?

If they are not willing to actually disclose, then they must explain to the community what the benefits of disclosure are, when there is, in fact, no disclosure.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Packing up all my cares and woes

I read that Toy Story Mania is shut down unexpectedly. This is unfortunate, as it is one of the big E-tix attractions at Hollywood Studios, and one for the whole DiDeAd group, as compared to, say, Expedition Everest, which is only for we heartier folk. It might come back up—the rumor is that they were fixing a fence or something—so maybe all is not lost. Oh well.

The weather reports are pure summer Florida, with varying probabilities but not guarantees of t-storms every day, and 90-degree temperatures. Quelle shockeur, as they don’t say in France. There is a tropical disturbance kicking up out in the Atlantic, but at the moment it looks like it will stay there. You know, the reason I usually go in the Spring is to avoid stuff like this. Damned debate interferes with my vacation schedule big time! The retiring Tarnish Jutmoll has the right idea, if you ask me!

Speaking of retiring, CP is off this week without an electrical socket, catching tuna off the porch of his Maine cabin or something, leaving Catholic Charlie and me to plug up any holes that spring in I have been enjoying my superpowers, I must admit, but I can’t fix things worth a damn. I can help folks set up leagues and tournaments, wreaking enormous havoc in the process, but when the error messages start to fly in whatever gobbledygook language the thing is programmed in, you can include me out. I used to program in Basic on the Apple back when this was the thing to do, but that was back in the 80s. The 80s? They had computers back then? Hell, yes. I had an Apple II+. With the full 48K memory. Didn’t get me a hard drive until I got my IIGS, though…

Anyhow, we’ve got the house-sitter lined up to care for the poor cats, and we’ve started pulling together appropriate apparel for the journey. I can’t wait to break out my Hawaiian shirt that I think I have never worn, that is absolutely perfect for the occasion. I’ll make sure O’C gets a picture of it.

Meanwhile, on the home front, it turns out that Speecho-Americans are as deaf to my pleas for their pieces as debaters are to my pleas for their cases. Do I need a better mouthwash? A stronger deodorant? More hair? Aaargghh!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


This is a site worth looking at if you travel a lot, and need to find the best flights. It's new and still a little creaky, but it's also genius. Check it out:

Friday, August 20, 2010

#DiDeAd countdown

So what, sez you, is up with the former Disney Debate Adventure, subsequently the former #DDA, and finally the live and kicking #DiDeAd?

It is now seven days until liftoff. The hotels and flights are booked, arrangements have been made to get to the airport (by those of us who need such arrangements), and we’ve begun getting the final stuff from our travel agent, the wonderfully helpful Jan, who actually gets all of my jokes. At the chez we’re trying to decide whether to go with carry-on or dump-on, knowing that the Disney Magical Express (aka the bus) will pick up the luggage in Orlando and plop it into our rooms for us, but on the other hand, no one is traveling with much more than a couple of tee shirts and some unmentionables. I’ve got more gear (camera stuff, iPad, phone, chargers, etc.) than anything else, and that’s all carry-on by default.

As for the schedule, that’s been polished until it glistens and gleams. Using the Unofficial Guide touring plans (with the updates to cover the couple of specifics when we’re there, like the lights out at “it’s a small world”), we know how to do the parks efficiently, and my guess is that there will be plenty of time for moseying and personal quests as well as hitting all the attractions. Of course, some we don’t have to hit, because we don’t have any little kids. I’ll go into some specifics over the next few days to fill in the time before we go.

The real issue has been the mix of cultures embarking on the journey. Or, to put it another way, O’C is nuts, and I’m not, although he has a different spin on this particular point. We created a listserver for the participants early on, and at the beginning it was all things like which park when and what restaurants everyone preferred, the sort of things normal people might discuss, the sort of things I usually decide for the family (with Kt to advise and consent) and subsequently dictate. But lately we’ve gotten into the meta nature of fanny packs, the advisability of wearing scratch-and-sniff hats with ears, and theremin-playing cats. Needless to say, I am against all three of these. I’m especially against the idea that we’d get our names sewn onto the scratch-and-sniff hats. If I did have to wear a scratch-and-sniff hat with ears, I assure you I’d put someone else’s name on it to confuse the media. I don’t think it will happen, thank God, but if it does, I’ll be the guy in the hat that says “Bietz.” What I’m looking for is a hat I can wear every day, after we come home, so ears and scratch-and-sniff are out. A chapeau for the day job, so to speak. No one at the DJ wears scratch-and-sniff hats with ears, I assure you. No one even comes close. What we haven’t discussed lately is the whole Cinderella’s autograph type thing, which I guess O’C will go off and do during the personal quest times, knowing that the rest of us do not share his belief in her divinity. If he could ride Star Tours with Cinderella while wearing a Mickey Ears hat and clutching his plush Darth Vader, I think he’d be in O’C nirvana. Since it is, this being a magical place, possible that it might happen, as I mentioned before, I’m bringing my camera. And of course, we’ll be tweeting the whole thing while we’re there with the #DiDeAd tag. We’ve already started, actually.

Anyhow, seven days until Bon Voyage. If you’re not tired of this yet, you will be soon enough. You’ll be longing for more discussion of case disclosure!

Case disclosure privacy

Further thoughts from CP, worth cross-posting. I'm hoping to set up a TVFT right after the Disney trip to have at some of these questions and, better yet, conclude a few things.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Viva la difference!

I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, it’s a doozy. Yesterday was my doozy day. But the good news is that I recover from my bouts of doozitis within 24 hours, returning to my usual, tottering at death’s door self, so here I am.

Apparently among the few things I was able to do yesterday in my delirium was add articles to the Feed (thank you, iPad). Which brought up that point about my not particularly supporting the things I put up. If you’ve been following the Feed, you would have seen good arguments in favor of SCOTUS putting a gun in each of our pockets, for instance, which I think is about as far from what the framers would do today as [enter your own metaphor here, preferably humorous, for some really unlikely occurrence; I’m still recuperating]. Some principles are timeless, like freedom of speech. Some principles are not timeless, like slaves are equal to three fifths of free persons for legislative purposes. Although I guess one could make the argument that, if we don’t want everybody carrying heat, we could put together an amendment to overturn #4. Sigh. Sometimes law is so…law-ish. It manages to evade common sense on all fronts. Anyhow, the article that got me posting this apologia was about gay marriage, where the argument was that it evaded the role of gender, and that gender is meaningful in the raising of children. The thing is, gender is a very interesting subject, and one that has scientifically been redefined in my lifetime. Historically there was always a belief or set of beliefs that men are different from women beyond obvious physicality. Feminism in its earliest stages was a rebellion against these beliefs, stating that women were entitled to the same treatment as men because they were no different from men. Aside from not being a guy, in other words, women were exactly the same. Their minds were the same, and any differences from men were from enculturation. This is a pretty strong argument for feminism, and was embraced, as I say, by early feminists. It was certainly the rallying thought of the 60s and 70s, and it was certainly what I believed. The problem is, it turns out not to be true. There is strong science that men and women are, indeed, different, and their minds work differently. This is not some sort of evidence that women can’t do math or something idiotic like that, but simply that our minds don’t work the same way. The problem with contemporary feminism then becomes not to believe in gender equality because of the lack of differences between the genders, but regardless of them. After all, they are not hierarchal, I’m better than you differences. They’re just differences. It is a lot more complicated to accept someone as an equal who is different than someone who is the same. The article I cited made an argument that the raising of children requires the balance of the differences of gender. You can read the article yourself if you want, and you might detect the central flaw in the argument, or not, but it is certainly well argued. The thing is, all of the articles in the Feed are, at least, thought-provoking. Some of them are very resolution specific (or potentially resolution specific, like the postings on net neutrality vis-à-vis the Google-Verizon proposal), some of them are philosophical, some of them are just bloody interesting pieces on items of current interest. If you scan no other articles on the net to keep your mind sharp as a debater, you could do worse… But don’t confuse them with my own opinions. My opinions are what I say here, not there. Those are just the fodder that my opinions feed on.

Meanwhile, I did crawl out from under yesterday late in the day to meet with the Sailor Speechies, who will be under my care for a while. My IE background is a little spotty, but, let’s see, I’ve been a book editor and book cutter for a bazillion years, and I sort of know a little bit about literature and drama and the like, so that should help. I’m not up on the latest trends, of course—do they have piece disclosure in Duo?—but I can pick that up. We are looking for someone who does know what to do; if you’re interested, give me a poke. In the interim I’ll be both hither and thither, for a while. I mean, I did have all this spare time I didn’t know what to do with…

And I have to admit that I’m disappointed that O’C doesn’t wish to embrace Princess Sarah. Then again, maybe he sees her more as a Disney Villain, a Maleficent for the new millennium. I could live with that. Come to think of it, I’ve heard rumors of a live action Cinderella coming down the pike from the Disney folks. They might want to take this casting tip. It is, so come full circle, a doozy.

Best piece of Sept-Oct evidence EVAR!!!

“Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet.” -- Sarah Palin, CBS interview with Katie Couric, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Regarding the Feed

Having just posted a long piece against gay marriage, I felt I needed to point out that the Feed is not intended to reflect my own personal opinions, but to provide articles of interest to debaters regardless of their positions on the subjects. I freely quote from the right and the left, the pro and the con. I have no interest in promulgating my own opinions.

Except, of course, about former Governors of Alaska, about whom I refuse to give an inch. There is no official post that I think the most famous of them would do a good job in, except, perhaps, Disney princess, but somehow I can't see O'C standing in line for Princess Sarah's autograph.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Carry me back to old Virginny

Tonight I have my first meeting for the returning Sailors. Chez moi, of course, out back on the porch, watching the sun set over the Pacific (I’ve got a really great view from my backyard). I gather the Panivore is not allowed out at night anymore, something about her diurnal anti-vampire activities, but at least the People’s Champion will show up, and, I hope, a couple of this year’s sophomores. My guess is that I am now totally free of juniors. Bah! Who needs ‘em? They just mess up the litter box and drink all the whiskey when I’m not looking. We’re better off not having to carry their dead weights on our backs!

Did I mention that this year recruitment is really a crucial issue? If we don’t beef up the team a sizeable amount, I’m going to start coaching the Hen Hud tiddlywinks team, where the real action is. (I understand that the Tournament of Tiddlywinks Champions puts the debate TOC to shame. For the record, Hen Hud is still a quarters bid for the TOTC.)

Sept/Oct is interesting enough, of course, but oh, that vanilla wording. It requires so much setting of ground for debate. I remember well discussions of use versus possession and intent and whatnot. On the other hand, it is a subject of much depth. Iran wants nukes, NK may want nukes (it may just want extortion money), some countries allegedly have nukes, some countries admittedly have nukes… All have different reasons for wanting them or not wanting them, and the US is the only country that’s ever used them. Having them makes you a player. Not having them makes you want them, if you happen to be surrounded by players. Lightning round questions: why does no one in South America have them? What is “ought” in realpolitik? Is there “ought” in realpolitik? Can countries not prioritize political reality when it means their very existence? Do nukes threaten global existence? Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. As I say, tonight we begin bloviating on the back porch.

I’m pretty sure that Bump is ready on paper, including now the piece of it. It has apparently passed muster with O’C, possibly because he is the only person mentioned by name in the invitation, aside that is from the eponymous Malcolm A. Bump and the elusive Virginia. Maybe someday we’ll call it the Jon Cruz Invitational. He seems to enjoy it more than I do. But no one likes their own tournament. The amount of work is just crazy, regardless of how well you do it. I mean, you can have a perfectly dreadful tournament and still do just as much work as the guy down the road whose tournament is heaven on wheels. Oh, well. At least I don’t worry about snow anymore. Although I would like a Bump where it doesn’t rain all weekend. We’re getting to be like Woodstock without the music.

Oh. One last thing. I heard yesterday from Jules. No details on how he or the Nostrumite have been spending their hiatus, but he claims that they’ve begun working on the next episodes of their continuing drama, and he told me to start polishing up the old microphone for September. Sounds good to me. (But then again, I don’t have to listen to it.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bump bumped, etc.

I’ve been trying to fill up the weekends with various entertainments as the summer draws to a close, being that, in not too many weeks, my weekends will be exclusively filled up with the entertainment of debate. This last was a pretty nice weekend weather-wise; it would have been a shame to waste it.

I did carve out a little time to set up this year’s Bump, though. Updated the invitation, which is mostly just deciding which jokes can stay and which ones have to go, and throwing in a few new ones for the regulars who come every year so that they won’t stop showing up because invitation isn’t funny anymore. I figured out the trophy order and got that ready for my trophy guy. I had already set things up for, but I’ll certainly be going over it with the proverbial f.t.c. before it goes live in October.

Although I’ve seen no official notification of it (the TOC website is half this year and half last year), I gather that Bump is now a semis qualifier in LD, down from quarters. The thing is, we really don’t have much of a national draw, as we used to in the old December slot, and therefore don’t really fit into the parameters of the quarters qualifier anymore, or at least that’s the official line. From my perspective, tabbing various tournaments at various levels, I sort of have to agree that, for whatever reason, we are not at that quarters level. I mean, witness Yale, with its national draw and almost 50% larger field. On pure math alone, we’re not there. To be honest, I’ve been expecting this change for a long time, and was neither surprised by it nor upset by it. At best we’re on the cusp, and our claim at a semis bid is pretty unshakeable given the quality of the enterprise, but I’d be hard-pressed to defend quarters. I feel bad for the hit that the region takes by losing these bids, which as far as I know have not gone elsewhere locally. Granted Bronx will have a newly coined octos bid, but it is not the equivalent of our lost bids, as that is far and away a national tournament with virtually no regional aspects, aside from the fact that it’s in the region. To call it a northeast tournament would be to call Emory a southern tournament. In other words, I’m not storming through the halls shouting, “Curse you, Jon Cruz!” (At least, not because of this.) Anyhow, I don’t think it will effect the tournament much, and we’ll probably have our same numbers, and maybe a little more with the addition of the novice PF event. To paraphrase Richard Sodikow, I don’t run my tournament as an entry for somebody else’s tournament. That is a good rule to live by, both as a tournament director and as a tournament goer. You are at the tournament you are at. That is the only one that matters.

And needless to say, I won’t be asking for case disclosure. This year.

Meanwhile, of course, the September/October topic has hit the streets. Oh, well. I have nothing against it, considering that it’s among the most important international issues that we face, although the wording is a little coarse (and there will be those seventeen really clever yabbos who run Arkansas vs Wyoming). I sympathize with those regions who don’t have the Modest Novice, who can now skip virtually all elementary LD and go straight to one very specific issue. ModNov is the best thing we ever did, period, but I’ll try to do my best not to break my arm patting myself on the back. Life is what you make it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Some more from AT

Professor Timmons has recently posted some direct answers in a couple of comments, but this long one should go in the main body. (That is the problem of the discussion in this format, but on the other hand, I get to moderate it the way I like it, so at least there's one person getting some satisfaction out of it...)


Case lists, legality and more: A second try

I must admit three things as I take a second swipe at the issues of case lists and privacy as it addresses Chris Palmer’s concerns.

First – Chris Palmer is a gifted writer and super bright. Reading anything he writes makes that readily apparent. Bringing Chris and Jim Menick into the discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) of case lists in debate offers an important perspective. While they might disagree with your arguments, they do so in a manner that embodies respect and intelligence that certainly raises the bar in the typical discussion on this issue. Thank you for bringing your collective voices into this conversation.

Second – My initial response which focused on the legality of case lists was a response not just to Chris, but others who that made this argument as well. I will address the potential risks inherent in case lists from a perspective on long term impact to the student and programs based on the content of the material submitted.

Third – Chris Palmer is an IT person who also does debate. He speaks from a position of knowledge that most debate coaches (myself included) can’t. In fairness, his argument about the long-term impact of case lists has a ton of merit. It is an issue we should discuss. We, as a community, should work to educate our kids about what they place on the Internet.

I am convinced that despite some inherent risks, disclosure and case list are on balance better than a culture of secrecy. The bottom line is this: if what the students we coach run arguments are SO offensive that a future employer, or the voting public, might inquire about it OR that will justify a school board cutting a program, perhaps (independent of case lists) we need to be discussing what our kids are arguing. I would love to hear (even via backchannel) schools that had political support that were canceled because of an argument a student ran. I would guess that even if an example or two were provided, I could counter with more of where funding was increased due to proving the “across the curriculum “ benefits of arguments that are being made.

Chris argues it is “not about can, but ought.” I think is about both. Others have argued directly that since disclosure “violates privacy” and that case are “educational records,” the argument of whether a tournament director CAN require students to disclose were an issue if a claim of a constitutional, or violation of states’ rights was an issue. In our litigious society, we as educators must engage in due diligence to make sure our actions are BOTH in line with the law AND if they are educationally sound. I have heard no real response to the legal perspective I outline. (In fact, all seem to agree that no claims of a right to privacy have merit.)

Again, while we do need to look at what our students place online, in reading part of Chris’s post the undertone is that things are being said of such a radical nature in high school debate rounds that justify comparison to a world of being an Islamic sympathizer (my words) or a Communist. A resurgence of McCarthyism, perhaps…?

It has been argued that information “has caused collateral damage” and that “some have had to deal with the issue before.” I am not sure of those situations or their frequency. I can say, based on personal experience, that many of my former students and colleagues have had positive questions asked about their debate experience AND about arguments/positions based on being Googled. Those conversations have all been positive. The impact is not being ignored to the potentiality of information being used, either tomorrow, or in the next decade, based on a case list. Rather, three quick thoughts come to mind. First, I haven’t seen in happen in fifteen years of case lists in policy debate. Perhaps with new technology and increased frequency it could happen but I am just saying.,, Second, Facebook posts or posts of old have MORE of a risk than the posting of a case outline. Third, the “impact” is outweighed by the benefits of a case list in my opinion.

I know this about contemporary Lincoln-Douglas debate. I can point to three National Championships whose results were impacted by bad/doctored/out of context evidence. I am sure many major invitational tournaments results as well. Other abuses seem to exist as well in an attempt to win. Many reasons exist as to why. But we all know it’s true. Case lists are just one effort to confront these abuses.

I would hate to have us “hunker down” in even more of a culture of secrecy due to an “inherent risk of change means stick with the status quo argument.”

President Obama, and President Bush for that matter, were elected after admitting using illegal drugs but a high school debater has his future ruined for arguing is “capitalism is bad” in a switch side debate tournament? This makes little sense to me.

Chris has a very compelling argument. I would suggest that the impact is huge but the link is small. Also uniqueness (Facebook, other social networking sites, blogging and the like) overwhelms the link.

Education is what we need regarding what and how we submit information online, not secrecy.

Respectfully submitted.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

It is time to start our engines

I’m sort of happy to be gearing up again for a new season. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t do institutes or anything else even remotely connected to forensics during the summer, aside from endlessly blogging about it—which for me doesn’t count—so after a couple of months I really start to miss it. For all practical purposes I was done before CatNats this year, since I couldn’t attend with my couple of entries due to a previous engagement, and as usual I didn’t spend a week at NatNats since I don’t have a week at my disposal to even consider doing such a thing. (The DJ, which pays the bills, would not appreciate my gallivanting off to whatever godforsaken wilderness NatNats happens to be at when I should be bearing down on today’s most popular fiction back at the office. Not that I think everywhere in the country aside from New York is a godforsaken wilderness. Just some of it. I have fond memories of the Pacific Northwest and the rugged but beautiful Southwest, for example, not to mention a hankering for the broad expanses of Texas and the big shoulders of Chicago, but none of these memories or hankerings have anything to do with forensics.) So I haven’t been in the same room with a debater—aside from looking askance at the Panivore discussing some theory case or other before she shipped off to the aforementioned albeit parenthetical godforsaken wilderness of NatNats—since the first robins of spring were appearing on my doorstep. And I’m ready for it now. As soon as I clean up all the robin poop from my doorstep, that is.

So we’ll meet next week, a couple of lone, lorn Sailors who are available, to discuss the new topic. I love seeing people again at the end of summer, seeing what they’ve been up to, finding out what they learned (if anything) at institutes, etc. My two poor captains have a lot on their shoulders this year, needing as we do to replenish our supply of debaters big time, otherwise the team will fit on the head of a pin. I mean, I like running tab rooms and everything, but I also like the marginal coaching that I do. I’d like to be able to continue doing it.

Then, of course, before we get into too full a swing, there’s the Disney Debate Adventure. Although this will have little if any debate, it sure has debate people. I’ve noted this before, but there’s a small group of us who see each other at tournaments all the time, and enjoy one another’s company but don’t get much time to socialize, and this will give us a chance to do nothing but socialize. Provided we don’t murder one another, it ought to be a real hoot. When it comes to Disney, I may be a bigger nerd than O’C, who holds serious credentials in pretty much every other nerdity in which I partake. I mean, I like Star Wars a lot, but I haven’t proposed marriage to it. And I have found it surprisingly easy to continue to resist watching Howard the Duck. But when it comes to the Carousel of Progress, I think we’re in serious cahoots.

After that, we ease into the life with something small and manageable, the Pup. There is the Babycakes RR, which I’d like to drop in on, but it’s starting on what is for me a DJ workday, followed the next day by my aged mother’s birthday. (Yes, I am not so old that my mother being alive is somehow newsworthy. I just look that way.) I went to the Babycakes last year for the first time, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I also enjoyed those actual Babycakes babycakes which, if I remember correctly, were allegedly off-limits to coaches, but since the Panivore took one look at them and pronounced them “too interesting” and thus not part of her diet plan, I did not feel the least bit guilty grabbing one of them for her.

So, over the next few weeks, a little preplanning with the team, a little WDW, then it’s orientation of new plebes and immediately thereafter the Pup.

Life is good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#didead, chore list, and the capital of Cleveland is?

As I think I’ve said, I’ve started tweeting about the Disney Debate Adventure on my @jimmenick account. I had started with #dda, but that seems to be pretty busy with other junk, so I’ll put our junk at #didead. No doubt O’C will be tweeting up a storm as well, and probably Kt too. It will probably be fun to follow it, although with any luck it will be more fun to actually be there. We’ll see. O’C is worried that we’ll spend the whole time arguing about disclosure. Allow me to disclose here that the first person on the trip to utter the words “case disclosure” will be chained to a boat at “it’s a small world” and forced to ride it from park opening to park close, without earplugs, for five days straight. Although some people might suggest that a single ride, without the chains, is more than enough.

With all the discussion about disclosure here, as I’ve pointed out, I’ve been distracted from all the other stuff going on, which as we near September, starts gaining momentum. I mean, I’m already registered for three tournaments, there have been other wrinkles about old Big Jake, not to mention the Babycakes RR and so forth and so on. I only managed to get halfway through my various resolution analyses, and I’d like to finish them up. My website needs its annual refurb. I need to grab the NYSDCA website by the tail and look it straight in the eye, but so far I’ve only gotten as far as getting O’C to send me a password. I need to get Bump updated for this year, and explain why I am not particularly perturbed or surprised at its lower TOC qual designation. I need to get the usual suspects organized for the MHL workshop. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And of course, as more develops on disclosure (I know for instance that O’C has some comments as yet unposted), I’ll pass them along too and, perhaps, comment on them further.

But for now, let me just point out that I have purchased a little portable wifi device, for those magical moments at tournaments where being online would be so nice, but it just isn’t happening. I got it from VirginMobile, same place I got my clunky but oh-so-cheap phone. (I won’t get an iPhone because I refuse to pay the monthly fees, and I doubt if the mythical move to Verizon will change my mind much on that.) I have spent exactly one hour today, an hour which I will never see again, setting this #*&^$%@ up. One hour! What you do is, turn it on, log on, enter the numbers in front of you, give ‘em your credit card, and start surfing. Yeah, right. But I finally did get it working, so please, if you need something from tab in the future, forget about it. I’ll be reading my spam, trying to figure out how to get money to all these poor unfortunates who apparently read this blog which is how they know about me and my exceptionally generous nature. That, and answering trivia questions on

Some important responses from A Timmons, pulled from the comments

First, on the rationale behind the initial privacy of cases:

Jim Menick makes an excellent point regarding “why not post it all if disclosure is good even if the argument hasn’t been run”. This is an interesting query and makes sense. Actually, I have little problem with this idea if the premise was to be followed by all. My concern is that it wouldn’t. For close to a decade we have discussed an “open source” paradigm in policy debate. That movement has gained no traction. The true reason why the current model exists is based on the idea that there is a balance between education and competition. Without question the core of what we do should be grounded in education. That said, debate at invitational events is about wins and losses (accomplished using a backdrop of those wins being achieved in an ethical manner). Teams (large or small) if they have an argument or case based on the work they do or the strategic nature of a case/argument/responses to an opponent’s case, should be able to be used one time to reward work and creativity. Unless the resources we use are static (everyone reads the same evidence set) I do think the “post it all” model would privilege well resourced teams. If we have concerns about “lone wolfs” ability to compete letting them roll in to an event with a creative idea is one way to equalize the playing field in that debate. This does NOT mean that just because a debater is from a under resourced team they should be able to avoid peer review in a competitive zero sum activity. To use a sports analogy (albeit not a perfect one), if the University of Northern Iowa or Butler shows up at the “big dance/NCAA tournament” and are playing a Kansas or a Duke, the players and coaches should NOT be able to say, “you can’t scout our games because we are smaller schools and you have more coaches, resources and McDonald’s All Americans than we do”. I finish with a quick trivia question that is obvious. Who won those games???

Hard work should be rewarded. If we aren’t going to have a static evidence set. the current model seems to best balance education and competition.

Second, on the contagion via octos bid:

Many have argued that octo - final bid tournament are unique in the way they “spur others to action”/model what those events do. While it pains people to hear it, I will appeal to what has happened in policy debate unique to case lists in the last 10 years or so to show that this phenomena has not been the case. For the last 8 to 10 years we have had a policy case list at the Greenhill tournament. St. Marks has had a similar list for about the same period of time. During this time frame, Berkeley, Emory, The Glenbrooks, Harvard, MBA nor last year Blake (which was a first time octos bid event) were all octos qualifiers in policy debate. None required submission to a case list as an expectation of entry. My point is that historically, conjecture about other events “getting on the bus” because another event does it seems to be empirically denied. Providing why the Lincoln Douglas octos bid events would do so is less than clear to me. It might be argued that certain personalities make a change more likely. Again I say, “Empirically denied”. Melissa Wade, Dallas Perkins and Sherry Hall, Tara Tate, Ted Belch and Billy Tate all have influence on the policy community. They didn’t require a case list (primarily because most contribute that attend these events anyway). It seems like those making the modeling arguments need some proof that Apple Valley, VBT and the other octos events will model Greenhill and Bronx.

My thought is that they will not for myriad reasons. Those arguing the precedent of modeling should (perhaps ought is more appropriate) have a higher “burden of proof” to prove their case given the history in that “other activity”.

Both of which answers are direct and, especially in the latter case, a bit of a relief. One of the big things that's missing for me is the experience with disclosure, which is too bad because it's been around quite a while. As we LDers learn what Policians already know, we may end up a lot happier than when our imaginations run wild. Which again is why I thoroughly endorse Cruz doing this at Bronx, with an eye on his postgame survey. Texas, for me, is far away. (Hell, Texas for half the people in Texas is far away.) But the Bronx is right down the road, and I'll be there all weekend, not to mention I see O'C every time I turn around anyhow. My truest hope is that we are indeed benefiting small teams, both for the theory of it and because I run one, and not making anything worse. Aaron's experience helps me accept that this is true.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Case disclosure Part 9 - Conclusion?

An interesting link from Christian Chessman (who, VCA members might remember, was so helpful in figuring out the Modest Novice topic) on open review:

For those who missed it, CP continues his discussion of privacy here: Of course, what he’s saying does limit much (most?) of the appeal of disclosure to me. Since I seem to be arriving at a position that, truth to tell, disclosure at tournaments is more apparent than real, the idea of a knowledge database is all that is left. The points CP makes (supported by Deal) can, I guess, be fixed by a closed management of the list, but that does sound pretty unlikely.

Someone answered my query, and pointed out that in policy negs are also posted. Whatever. I would have imagined that neg strategy would have depended on the aff rather that standing alone, unless it’s some cockamamie K or something. Which reminds me, I do agree with I-forget-who who ranted a tad on the idea that someone would run an anti-disclosure theory argument. Jeesh. If you want to argue against disclosure, do it here. At the point where you’ve agreed to enter the tournament requiring disclosure, you have forfeited the right to win a case by arguing against it, rather than arguing the resolution. Not that I judge much, but if I get dragged in, and that’s what you’re running, well, at least if you talk pretty you might get decent speaks…

I think I’m sort of coming to the end of my string on this whole discussion. At this point I think we can mostly only rake over the coals without getting any further. But there are some big unanswered questions.
* Is the public wiki inherently problematic? I’m thinking here about what CP discusses, plus the issue that was raised the wiki might create a style of debate that is undesirable, which we haven’t gone into much because it’s hard to say, but it is a possibility.
* Does disclosure solve the problem it claims to solve? Since the rules of engagement are elastic enough that for all practical purposes a team can break a couple of new cases over the length of a tournament and avoid the wiki almost altogether, meaning that the big teams with their networks at that tournament maintain their advantage, have we really gotten anything out of this?
We can answer the second question by monitoring the practice. And we’ll be doing that at Bronx. We can only answer the first question by further serious discussion, perhaps face-to-face. I wonder if a forum can be established for this at one of the popular events over the season? We'll certainly be discussing it on TVFT when we start up again this year. And if folks do post more here, I'll make sure to feature it and, if it makes sense, comment on it.

There are smaller questions as well that are food for thought. Given the nature of wikis and wifi, have we created a big tournament phenomenon for no better reason than that only big tournaments can do it (if they even can)? And should big tournaments be making trend-setting decisions with no accountability (aside from the theoretical lack of entries at future tournaments, and something tells me that Greenhill and Bronx are not exactly empty this year)? Should we be making decisions about LD based on decisions about Policy (hearkening back to some points Sophie made that I never elaborated upon but are worth noting, that the two are not the same and disclosure does not have the same effect, not to mention the other aspects of LD as pseudo-Policy)?

At the bottom, I like the idea of disclosure if disclosure is real. I don’t like sneak attacks, especially since they’re usually linked with sneaky cases. I like the publicizing of the body of the content of a resolution for the entire community, and see this as a valuable resource, but acknowledging the reservations noted by CP. But I wonder if we’re really doing anything more than adding a new level of tournament maintenance to our lives without a lot of real benefit.

We’ll begin to see soon enough.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Case disclosure Part 8

Let me first get one thing straight, just in my own head (and not relevant to the post that follows). In policy, I’m assuming people only disclose their affs, being that the neg strategy is directly dependent on the aff, whereas in LD, people disclose affs and negs. If I’m wrong on this, I hope someone will correct me.


In my last full post, I brought up some questions that I think need to be answered.* Since Matt thought I was thinking backwards, let’s start backwards and look at his response: “The reason one should have to disclose their case after it is run is because breaking a case puts it in the public domain. A wiki just makes it accessible to all even if not every team has the resources to be present when that case is broken. The whole point of disclosure is make what is already technically ‘public information’ more accessible to those for whom information is harder to come by. Also, as far as I am concerned, until a case is broken, it is just not finished. Both in my coaching and debate experiences I have been in situations where cases were edited up until the start of a round. Having to disclose positions before they are even run makes little sense to me in light of this.”

First of all, I’m aware that people are going by the premise that once a case is run it is in the public domain, and the wiki theoretically makes the public truly public. That doesn’t answer the point I was making, that for all practical purposes, a debater can run cases at a tournament that are never in the wiki, which exists for the direct purpose of people seeing what that person is running. Here’s the logic: I go to the tournament with a new case. It isn’t on the wiki. I run it. In round 2 I debate the other side, and run that. I now get a short break and I post the first case, but the schematics are up and no one has a chance to do anything with what I posted, and then prior to round 4 I do likewise with my other case, with the same results, and so far I have gone through 4 rounds and no one has had my cases disclosed to them. If I’m really a conniver I could pull out new cases for rounds 5 and 6, but that’s extreme. However, I will pull out new cases for elims, and pull the same business again, keeping my cases from public display till the last minute. This is not some bizarre scenario, because already people bring a couple of cases to a tournament, or else rewrite their cases between rounds to update them as a result of experience in prior rounds or new evidence gained. My point here is that the actual disclosure of what one is running can be quite minimal even without a lot of finagling, and virtually zero if one is a real finagler (and believe me, there are plenty of finaglers out there, big teams and small).

Let me repeat this: “I mean, simply enough, if disclosure is so all-fired good, why don’t I have to do it? For all the debaters going to Greenhill, under these rules of engagement, there can be an absolutely empty wiki. Not one single person has to disclose a case [in advance]. Not one single person will have run a case, and even if I’m missing something and they did run a case somewhere, they can post that case and not run it. All the rules of engagement are about publicizing cases that you have run. None of them are about publicizing cases that you are going to run. If you ask me, that is a fatal flaw. It makes little sense to me, and it opens the door to shenanigans not unlike the chicanery of the person running surprise nonsense. If disclosure is good because it allows everyone to prep, because it creates a body of information about resolutions, because it levels the playing field at tournaments, at the point where disclosure happens only AFTER THE FACT, it is useless. And worse, it allows for abuses.”

To clarify, it is not the distinction between public and private that doesn’t make sense to me, it is the rules of engagement distinguishing between the two, given how much lip service is given to the value of the latter in all the pro-disclosure discussion.

This was my main question: “Why is it okay not to disclose if you haven’t run a case yet, but then you have to disclose it after you’ve run it?” What was the warrant that it was good to run a case no one knew about? I understand how the warrant “expires” by the case entering the p.d., but it would seem that everything about the rules of disclosure engagement value privacy until a case is run. So we have one set of rules for privacy, and another set of rules for the public domain, and we can easily twist those rules if we are so inclined to maintain quite a bit of secrecy. Matt’s argument that he may not be finished with his cases until he goes into a round may be true, but I’m guessing that he went to the Harvard tournament with, oh, a general idea of what he’d be running… And even if not, one can set rules that the cases have to be posted by Thursday for Friday’s tournament, and that one has to run disclosed cases. God knows tournament directors set rules for a million other things.

So that’s my question. At the point where we’re only mandating disclosure after the fact, there’s an inherent contradiction, that a case is valuable as a private entity at some points, but that as soon as possible, we want to discount that value. Which is it?

And what also remains unanswered from that post are the questions about whether this is only a big tournament practice, being that live wifi is far from the rule at most high schools. No one has addressed whether disclosure is so good that it ought to be ubiquitous (as compared to our analysis of judge selection, which we did see different systems working best in different contexts).

I think Max’s responses to the original post are in line with my thinking. I do want to emphasize that my goal here is to get the answers, not to indict the system in any way. It is what it is, and I don’t know whether it should or shouldn’t be changed, having never gone through it. And I remain a believer that the experiment at Bronx is a good way to study it. But I will suggest that, if what I’m saying here is the way it is, people who are adamantly against disclosure should start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel because, no matter how you slice it, it ain’t much disclosure at all…

* Tom Deal looks at some of what I wrote in my post, and Matt Dunay's reply in the comments to He makes some good and different points than I do.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

List legality and a couple of other addenda

The post from Aaron on any legal issues, and the responses, are worth reading in detail, if you're thinking about the legality business. (This was never one of mine, to be honest; in fact, I was the one wanting the wiki to go on in perpetuity, if it were to go on at all.)

One point that can be easily resolved is discussed in the responses, namely that this whole business is a big-school push, over the bodies of the madly protesting poor little schools. In the postgame survey, all Cruz has to do is ask each school, overall, two questions: are they a big school or a small school, and do they feel that this system helped or hurt them. It certainly is curious that, if this whole thing were in aid of helping small schools, small school students seem curiously opposed, at least the ones that have posted, while no one from a big school has been anything but enthusiastic. I will point out, again, that as a coach of a small team, I remain agnostic, and appreciate the opportunity to study it at the Bronx. My agnosticism does not stop me from questioning it, however, and I think that, when this discussion plays down, we'll all have a good sense of what to look at in the postgame.

Fun stuff.

I'll answer Dunay's reply to my last post in a day or two. If anyone else wants to give it a shot (either he missed my point or I didn't make it particularly well), have at it.

Another side issue that arises is the right of tournament directors to do whatever they want with their tournaments. This is absolutely true, but must be considered in the Spiderman context: with great power comes great responsibility. A very small number of people run octo-bid tournaments, which exercise an very big sway over the activity. So does TOC. How these tournaments are run has a great influence on the activity, up and down the line. While their directors are perfectly within their rights to do whatever they please, the effects are felt far beyond their own tournaments. Relying on some Hegelian claim of synthesis and claiming the corrective that people won't attend something as important to many debaters as an octos tournament over principle is fairly unlikely. They'll suck it up. This failure to boycott the tournament arises because of a CBA deciding that accepting the unloved aspect of the tournament is outweighed by the chance to get a bid, or breathe that air, despite the unloved aspect. At the point where enough octos people are promoting the unloved aspect, it becomes common law, but please don't make the mistake that it has also become loved.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Timmons on privacy

Once again, I'm putting a response from one of the main proponents of disclosure in the main body of the blog. As always, feel free to comment.


To all that have written so far I am impressed with the tone, the
reflective thoughts, and the care all are taking in addressing the
issue of disclosure/case lists in Lincoln - Douglas debate. The
discussion is needed, and this blog has produced some of the best
discussion on this issue. Thank you!

I will address one issue in this post. My response will center on the
issue of the privacy concerns/violations that could potentially be
raised as a result of a mandatory case list at an invitational debate
tournament. In full disclosure (pun clearly intended), I don't have a
law degree (or to quote Jay Z, "I ain't passed the bar but I know a
little bit"), but I do have a few thoughts on this issue. My thoughts
are based on my personal understanding of the "reasonable expectation
of privacy" as it relates to invitational debate tournaments based on
my research before deciding to implement a case list last year at the
Greenhill Fall Classic, in addition to consulting with people who DO
have a legal degree and background in the area of constitutional law,
educational law and privacy law (and the inherent intersections of
those areas).

Simply put, the privacy argument has no merit as it relates to
mandatory case lists at invitational tournaments from a legal
perspective (in my humble opinion).

Initially, the first question is, does a student have a reasonable
expectation of privacy if they agree to attend a debate tournament
that requires them to disclose materials once that material is used in
a debate? I steadfastly believe the answer is a resounding no. Two
things are important. First, the student would have to prove that
cases are "educational records" based on the statutory definition of
the phrase AND that maintenance of those records is a violation of
either a constitutional violation of privacy and/or a violation of a
states legitimate expectation of privacy AND the potential impact to
disclosure justifies a rejection of the case list requirement by a
host of an invitational event on constitutional grounds. I think that
burden is impossible to meet. For most schools, the Family Educational
Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) indicates that schools "may release
records (this even grants that cases are education records which is
quite the assumption) without consent, to school officials with
legitimate educational interests, specified officials for audit or
evaluation for purposes or organizations conducting certain studies
for or on behalf of the school". Based on the educational defenses of
case lists, they seem to meet the criteria out lined in statutory law.
Secondly, the idea that cases are required to be disclosed AFTER they
are read in public by the student seems to cut against "expectations
of privacy." The ideas have already been aired in public, and BY
CHOICE (as a result of attending that event, and agreeing to the
stipulations of the host), no right to privacy in the area of case
lists could be claimed. The idea that anyone can watch debates make
them public it seems. I will point out that if the individuals that
DO feel (and that interpretation is upheld by a legal challenge) that
the sharing of "educational records" in the context of disclosing
cases, are violations of privacy, we are in a world of hurt as a
community. Oral critiques, decisions being announced in the room with
an audience (a winner and a loser being announced after the students
engaged in academic competitions where their work is evaluated in
public, clearly violate this standard). So would results on any web
page (or printed packets for that matter). Tournaments also currently
ask for phone numbers, addresses and, if a tournament accepts personal
checks, checks with account numbers. Given new laws on identity theft
they would all seem to be much more a privacy concern that case lists.
These seem more closely worthy of evaluation/critique than kids who
agree to attend an event (which is invitational in nature).

Tournaments where case lists are required are not mandatory for any
debater to attend. Chris Palmer argues that "And as long as some kids
out there are graded in debate classes, we can't say with confidence
that they have a choice about attending any given tournament." My
retort is that as long as tournament hosts explain the expectation in
advance, parents can discuss with their child's coaches their
philosophy/concerns and reasonable accommodation could be made for
that student to attend other events. Chris also argues that "Besides,
giving them the choice to attend doesn't excuse putting a burden on
those attending if the burden proves harmful; especially if the
practice proliferates at bid tournaments". Proving harm seems to put
some burden on those defending (or questioning) potential privacy
violations that case lists are, in fact, violations of any "reasonable
expectation of privacy". Before spending more time on that portion of
the argument, perhaps more analysis or reference to HOW case lists
violate privacy would be in order. If a school/tournament host claims
that case lists serve "legitimate educational interests", which is
easy to defend for obvious reasons, the student has no leg to stand

Let's just stay those who feel that case lists are a violation of
privacy are correct and the initial argumentative burden has been met.
The question at that point is does the student (and as a result the
parent by allowing then to attend the tournament in question), waive
any "right to privacy" (either implicitly or explicitly), as a
condition to participate in an invitational tournament. I think the
answer is a definitive yes. Just like we agree to searches at airports
as a condition of flying or walking through a metal detector for a
debate tournament in a "tough" neighborhood, agreeing to attend a
tournament with a case list waives any so called expectation of
privacy one might have.

The bottom line is that no one has a RIGHT to attend any tournament.
Any host gets to set reasonable expectations for their guests.

Again, I am not an attorney but a lifetime debate coach dedicated to
serving both my personal students, and the broader community. I would
respectfully submit that those that feel that case lists are a
violation of privacy need more of a warrant on the "why" to that
claim. Maybe it just "feels wrong" because it is new in the Lincoln -
Douglas community. As with weighing any competing claims, the impact
to "feeling wrong" is outweighed by the benefits to case lists from my
survey of their impact based on over 15 years of them operating in the
policy world. Many see that analogy as not relevant. I see it as
important to serve as a reference point to learn from as case lists
are tested in Lincoln - Douglas.

I have chosen NOT to address the side issue of if case lists create
obstacles for students once they leave the debate world in a lengthy
manner other than saying this, if President Obama can admit to taking
illicit drugs as a youth and still win the election, a high school kid
arguing "capitalism bad" will be ok in twenty years! As a final tongue
in cheek parting shot, perhaps kids watching what they put on their
Face book pages and /or vbd posts of old might be more of a concern to
them down the road than the "cap bad k". My experience is that many of
my former debaters have been googled by employers and asked about
their debate career. It led to great discussions, even about silly/out
there arguments they ran during their time in debate. In all cases I
have heard about, those conversations were all positive.

Case lists are no panacea for all that ails Lincoln - Douglas debate.
To say they should be rejected on "privacy grounds" doesn't seem like
the right voter to extend in the final rebuttal based on all
information I am able to surmise.

Again, thanks to all for a great civil dialogue on the issue. I look
forward to reading more.

Aaron Timmons

Case disclosure Part 7

A couple of takes from the Big Bronx invitation:

1. The community norm that has developed (and seems to be working) in Team Debate (Policy Debate) is that no one should have to disclose a position that they haven’t run yet. We feel this norm is applicable to Lincoln-Douglas Debate as well. We are not asking you to disclose information BEFORE you run it. Specifically, if this is your first event of the year you do not have to disclose your positions until you run them. For example, if you run a case round one, only then does it become public information.


The community norm in policy is to put things online within a round or so of it being run. If you run a new position in elimination rounds, you should post it immediately after the decision. Bronx Science will provide a wireless connection and for those with laptops, and so submission directly to the wiki should be easy.

Okay, if I were running a rebuttal here, I would start thinking about the purposes of disclosure, as they’ve been presented by those in favor of the process. They’re educational, they’re leveling, they’re good for everyone. As for me, I’ve always looked askance at people who run wacky cases, who get wins out of shock and awe rather than debating. I’ve seen it many times, when someone runs a totally ridiculous, unexpected and, for that matter, unpredictable position, and wins because their opponent was at a loss for a meaningful response. We can indict the opponent for not finding the magic bullet in the vast amount of available prep time (approximately two minutes), but I tend to indict the person who ran the case entirely because the person thought they would win by the element of surprise combined with the case’s extremism/nuttiness. That’s not debate; that’s chicanery. If one is able to secure a position that is unanswerable because the position is so crazy that no one could have conceivably prepared for it, it isn’t much of a win. Members of the VCA have heard me rail about this before.

One can run normal positions, however, and still like the idea of “secrecy” for a perfectly good reason, as Paras explains. “I strongly feel that it hurts me more than it helps because I don't have the ‘secrecy’ of my positions anymore… I think part of the beauty of debate is having to respond to a case you don’t know much about beforehand. Yah, it might make rounds less substantive and not as great as rounds in a world with disclosure, but I believe that’s because debaters are still learning how to think. What’s the educational benefit of making responses that your coaches helped think out for you? School isn’t conducive to learning how to think on your feet, and in that aspect debate ought to be unique. That’s why, quite frankly, a lot of debaters suck at responding to cases they don’t have blocks to. I know that I’ve grown tremendously in this regard, but am still not a great critical thinker. But I know that because I had to think critically about rounds and feel like crap for not being able to come up with good answers, I got better at thinking. In those few minutes I grew a lot as a thinker. That wouldn’t have happened if Cameron had written out responses for me, which he could have easily done.”

This is a good argument in favor of not disclosing. I think that for the argument to prevail, a lot of people have to be responding by rote, and I don’t know if that’s true or not. I would ask this of the policy folk. I mean, has policy become less educational because it no longer requires as much thinking on one’s feet? I really don’t know. This points to the core of what debate ought to be about as an educational activity. I don’t know how we can answer it.

But there’s no question that disclosure does not point in that direction. Disclosure has certain goals, as I said. So why in the name of all that is holy are the rules of engagement set up so that, at the very least, one can go to a tournament and, to begin with, not disclose? That is, all the discussion of this, both here and when we chatted about it on TVFT, assumed that a case did not have to be disclosed until it was made public by being run in a round.


I mean, simply enough, if disclosure is so all-fired good, why don’t I have to do it? For all the debaters going to Greenhill, under these rules of engagement, there can be an absolutely empty wiki. Not one single person has to disclose a case. Not one single person will have run a case, and even if I’m missing something and they did run a case somewhere, they can post that case and not run it. All the rules of engagement are about publicizing cases that you have run. None of them are about publicizing cases that you are going to run.

If you ask me, that is a fatal flaw. It makes little sense to me, and it opens the door to shenanigans not unlike the chicanery of the person running surprise nonsense. If disclosure is good because it allows everyone to prep, because it creates a body of information about resolutions, because it levels the playing field at tournaments, at the point where disclosure happens only AFTER THE FACT, it is useless. And worse, it allows for abuses.

Some comments pulled from earlier: “Apparently some debaters post fake cases on the wiki to distract from the ones they will be running.” “Big schools have the resources to write so many positions that they break new cases every round. What is the likelihood that a lone wolf debater can write enough cases to combat the case disclosure?” “They disclosed EVERYTHING-- including cases run in practice rounds at camp.” Cruz says: “Also, at most tournaments, in my experience, most large teams do NOT run lots and lots of cases. Instead, they spend time putting a lot of work and research into a few (even two) solid positions.” Perhaps. But at the point where any one person does this, big school or small school notwithstanding, it is a gaming of the system that the system is in no way capable of stopping.

But I think it’s deeper than that. Either disclosure is good all the time, or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then why is it good some of the time? Why is it okay not to disclose if you haven’t run a case yet, but then you have to disclose it after you’ve run it? The idea that it is now “public” isn’t a warrant, it’s just an observation, and not a particularly persuasive one, since it’s only public to the people who heard it, which may just be your judge and your opponent. I can see the link here to size—if your opponent or judge represents a big school, it is indeed “public,” at least to them—but again, that’s pretty weak.

And even if people don’t seriously game the system, I think we can reasonably expect that a case might be new at a new tournament, so the posted case won’t be run. And plenty of people break a new case in elims for whatever reasons, and they are perfectly able to do this, according to the disclosure rules of engagement. The debaters who are against disclosure, at the very least, can easily elude a lot of oversight by doing those two things. Not to mention that the whole idea of a case becoming public and people having to post ASAP sounds pretty dicey to me. Wireless goes down, and disclosure is over. If disclosure is good, no one has yet made any argument that it’s only good at big tournaments at schools that all have wireless internet. All the arguments so far have indicated nothing that wouldn’t make disclosure good at small, local tournaments. There’s plenty of schools I go to I can’t even get my phone to work, much less connect to the internet.

You see where I’m going with this. First, we have set up a system that is inherently contradictive. Second, that system allows a small amount of gaming that is not at all unethical (running a new case this tournament from last tournament, that is), meaning that in the presets and your first elim round, you get to break a new case. Now maybe you can distil it down to the whole prep-out issue, that when this happens, no one has prepped out, but where is all of Bietz’s evidentiary ethical considerations then? Or my fears about silly surprise cases? Third, unless we have reliable wireless and force kids to access it immediately after a round, the system fails. Fourth, even if none of this is right and all of it can be disputed successfully, we can only have disclosure at tournaments that have all the electronic tools available to everyone, and yet there’s no reason why all the harms of non-disclosure are not applicable to small tournaments (and, perhaps, might be more applicable).

Telling us that policy has solved this by accepting it does not answer it. Frankly, it would seem to have the same harms for them, although perhaps mitigated by the nature of the activity (an issue that still needs to be discussed).

I’m not being obstreperous here, I’m being curious. Maybe I’m missing something really obvious. And I can see that the harms I’m talking about are removed from the harms of non-disclosure vis-à-vis big and small schools. But there’s an intrinsic logical flaw in the whole thing that eludes me, and in the worst case scenario, has students prepping for cases that are not run. That is, this is the posted case, but oh, look, I’ve got a new case, so sorry, Charlie. This strikes me as an absolutely bad thing. I’d like to know why it isn’t.

Of course, if people were to agree with me, simply mandating that people post the cases they are going to run would solve it.