Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We're back and we're mad!

So, sez you, what up wit’ all dis stuff?

I don’t like to publicize too much when my house is empty, filled with treasures that people like you can come in and purloin. I mean, I’ve seen you eyeing the Menick silver with evil intent. It would be imprudent for me to start broadcasting, Hey, come on over, the Menick silver is yours for the taking. So, I keep my travels to myself, for the most part, except for debate trips, during which the chez is under firm control by family members and cats left behind fully armed and dangerous.

Anyhow, last week we were in Toronto, which is a very nice city that I recommend to those who find themselves looking for a very nice city populated with Canadians. Good eats, good entertainments, all that good stuff that makes a city worth visiting. And then #(*&$% Irene reared her ugly head, and we said to ourselves, Selves, we might want to head on home early. We had planned a Sunday flight. Yeah, right. So, how about Saturday on Amtrak? No problem. We booked it, bought a pile of magazines, charged up the electronics, and then, on rising at the c of d on Saturday, lo and behold, an email from Amtrakia telling us that the train is canceled. Check over on Delta, and of course, the Sunday flight was canceled, but they’ve rebooked us for Monday on the same flight early in the day. Okay, another couple of days in Toronto. Until Delta canceled us again and moved us to late in the day Tuesday. Fortunately the hotel we were staying at was sympathetic, so it’s not as if we suffered physically, although mentally, who needs it? Anyhow, we did finally ship home last night and found the chez mostly intact and Tik (pronounced teek) in one piece, although there was some basement flooding and the MHL printer may be hors de combat. The cable was out, so no surfing or whatnot there, but some people don’t have any power at all so I shouldn’t complain.

Anyhow, all of this threw me back a lot, so for the rest of the week, I’m afraid I’ll be maintaining bloggian and Bronxian funny silence. But we’ll get ‘em next week, sport. Count on it.

By the way, no matter how much I looked in Toronto, I could not find a t-shirt that read: "Canada — America's Hat." I think they're missing a real good opportunity there.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Out for the count

Irene has not been good to us. No harm, but no internet. Will resume some day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Off for a week

We're going off line for a week. Entertain yourself for a while. There is a new TVFT if you get desperate, but nobody's ever that desperate...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Don't clean your glasses. It's me, not you.

I'm not quite sure why I disparage Speecho-Americans' response rate to messages from on high. (Note: On high = me.) Debaters aren't much better. I'm trying to assemble a quorum for a little chez on the new topic, but the responses range from nil to spam to no to demurrals from people I didn't even know were on the team. Obviously, when Menick cracks the whip, the whip gets cracked. Nothing else happens, though. You'd think I'd know better by now.

We're shooting for the season opener of TVFT tomorrow night. I forget who cracked the whip on this one. Bietz, I think. He's obviously rarin' to go on the new topic. I hope he doesn't propose the sushi affirmative.

For reasons too complicated (or too inane) to explain, I've redone the blog template. Most of it's still here, it just looks a little different. Bear with me as I punch it up a bit. I mean, before, everything looked so... 2010...

Bronx Funnies

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some animals are more equal than others

So the new topic is out. I like the subject area, but I'll a little wary of the phrasing.

First of all, normally we look at justice as fairly resolving conflicting claims. Now even if I grant that animals might have legitimate claims, I can't cover this in a blanket statement, and I wonder how much we'll end up arguing about what we're arguing about rather than simply arguing it.

Animals might have a legitimate claim on not suffering needlessly. I mean, it's wrong on all counts to torture cats, for instance, because it inflicts unwarranted pain. Do mosquitoes have a similarly legitimate claim? Maybe. The pain we inflict on mosquitoes is warranted by the pain they inflict on us. Maybe we can warrant safe passage to any living creature that provides safe passage to us. Quid pro quo in the animal world. That's relatively easy, a reciprocal live-and-let-live approach.

Where we would mostly want to suggest that animals have some rights is where their legitimate concerns outweigh ours. Or maybe more to the point, animal rights would mean that if their legitimate concerns outweigh ours, they should be granted. There's a difference. Areas like medical testing, for instance, theoretically posits the rights of animals versus the rights of humans. Should humans have a prior claim? Since it's humans that are doing the claiming, that seems a little unfair. What greater right does a human have to live than, say, a gorilla? I ask this not rhetorically, because if you can't answer it, you can't argue this resolution. I wouldn't go about blinding rabbits so that Madame will smell sweeter, but to go about killing non-humans so that humans can live? Different question.

Animal rights wouldn't necessarily preclude human omnivorousness, would it? An animal might have the right to be treated humanely (note the root of that word) but still get eaten with cherry sauce. The distinction, again, is meaningful for those debating this topic.

Still, I have trouble drawing a line from the word justice to the concept of animal rights because animal is a big, complicated mental construct. It's hard to weigh. Me versus you is a couple of schmegeggies with conflicting claims, and probably we can do a cost-benefit analysis of our dispute and come to terms on that basis. It's way hard to CBA you versus a donkey. (Me versus a donkey, on the other hand, is a no-brainer.) I like a cleaner field for discussions of justice, myself.

This will be fun to talk about, though. It is a good subject. I worry that bad debaters will make a hash out of it, getting so lost in definitions and meaningless distinctions that heads will burst, but bad debaters do that no matter what the topic. For the rest of us, it's a topic with some meat vegetables on its bones stalks.

Bronx Funnies

Friday, August 12, 2011

Enjoy it!

This is the last weekend of the year. That is, the last weekend before there's a new resolution. All of a sudden, LDers across the country will start researching like crazy, which 90% of the time means going through old cases and finding stuff that marginally applies to the new rez and then throwing it into fifth gear and driving like crazy. Some people will look back at all that money they spent on camp and wonder how come they never covered this topic, while others will laugh Satanically and do the happy dance thinking that the cases they wrote at camp will somehow have value in the real world other than in that first random round against the novice with the case written in crayon on the back of a McDonalds Happy Meal box.

So, enjoy the weekend. I'm having folks over tomorrow, so I'll be cooking up a storm and then watching these people devour it all like pigs at the trough. All that work. I could have ordered a mega-bucket of KFC and spent all that time watching Howard the Duck. But not me. I'd rather work than watch Howard the Duck. Hell, who wouldn't? Other than him, I mean.

It's been a nice summer. Time to move on, though. And I admit it. I'm happy to see it. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Bronx Funnies

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pups and cats

I have pretty much abandoned the Coachean Feed, at least for a while. This is because I’m working on a feed for the DJ, and since they pay me for that one, it takes priority. I’m scanning about a thousand pages a day (and finding about five good ones), and that has sucked up all of my internet time. So it goes. I like the CF, both in concept and execution, even though I don’t think many others ever paid it much attention. I had always hoped that it might become some sort of group effort, but no one has ever sallied forth and volunteered, so there you are. Of course, at the moment the DJ blog that I’m trying to feed is totally kerplewie (don’t ask), so there you are there, too.

You’re a lot of places today.

I’m finalizing the team entry for the Pups, meanwhile. CP has cleared off the first rash of waitlisters, but DI seems to be popular beyond its years and I’ve still got a few there that I’ll hope get pushed. Worst case scenario, I can switch a few names on my end, bowing to seniority. I mean, you can’t let your newbies have slots that should go to your seasoned vets, eh?

Of course, I can talk freely here about the Sailor Speecho-Americans because none of them know this blog exists, with the probable exception of Panivore Junior. Getting them signed up for tournaments is always entertaining. Herding cats? I’ve had cats, and they come when you call them and fetch and, in some cases, do pretty good term papers on Proust. Try to get a Speecho-American to come or fetch. Can’t be done. I’d rather a team of cats any day.

Montwegian registration is also open, and I’ve entered the odd name. I always enjoy registering for my hotel room up there in God’s country. Trying to get a room for one night is like trying to herd Speecho-Americans. They just can’t understand why anyone would stay just one night. I mean, it’s Monticello. It’s like Hen Hudville when it comes to tourism. My guess is that they’re simply surprised that anyone wants to stay at all, rather than that someone can absorb all the many local attractions in so short a visit. I think O’C is taking that weekend off to go leaf peeping with the assembled O’Cruzian clan. Maybe they’ll end up in Monticello by choice. No doubt staying two or three days. I always recommend the local Chinese restaurant, mostly because the one time I went there the special of the day was corned beef and cabbage. Make that four or five days…

Bronx Funnies

Monday, August 08, 2011

Lost weekend

Somehow this weekend went to hell in a hand basket. It was supposed to start with Friday in the city and dinner with Kt and O'C, and that didn't happen, and then Saturday I had to clean out the basement—oh joy, oh rapture—and then Sunday we canceled golf because of rain that didn't happen (although it was 135% humidity out there, so maybe that wasn't such a bad idea after all) which meant I got to update the Bump invite just about completely. I repeat: Oh joy, oh rapture.

I passed the invite along to O'C for his input. He had done the same to me with the Bronx invite, but by the time I got around to reading it (about five minutes after he asked me about it) he had already posted it. The man has the patience of a saint, so to speak. PJ has commented on the Yes Virginia round, and I appreciate his concerns, but the benefits of half an hour aren't that many, really, on a trip of four hours. If everyone is out by 5 they're home by 9, which is the goal, unless you're winning the damned thing, in which case you'll be happy to stay until we throw you out. O'C, of course, thinks eliminating the Yes Virginia round is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but he's a saint, and there you are.

Ryan Miller sent me a note that they are doing their York County August workshop, "August 18-21, with Sept/Oct case workup and modules on ballot theory & kritiks, economic reasoning, and the meaning of justice." Ryan is if you're interested. When he tells you the meaning of justice, please email it to me. I've been waiting to hear...

It turns out that you can play iPad Scrabble with Facebook friends. I like that, except that O'C is wiping the floor with me. As soon as he uses a word that I've heard of, I'll have him, though. He credits his non-English-speaking students with his great success at the game. [Sigh...]

Bronx Funnies

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Bumpidian scheduling

The other big question this year for Bump is scheduling. Since we have access to the building all day Saturday, when should we start?

I have thought of possibly offering housing to the furthest schools on Friday and then starting at the crack of dawn on Saturday, but the c.o.d. realistically wouldn’t be all that dawnish, given the couple of hours it takes for unhoused folks to travel from what I would consider the unnether regions on Saturday morning. And given that we also have all day Sunday, in a manner of speaking, it would be more hassle than the reward would warrant. So, a later start on Saturday. I’m figuring four rounds.

8:00 PM
5:00 PM
2:30 PM
12:00 PM
Registration 11-12.

That’s Saturday, working backwards from housing at 10:00 PM.

Then Sunday, there’s two rounds (this is VLD only, of course, from this point on). I’m still contemplating the concept of these last two, rds 5 and 6, being bracketed at rd 5, i.e., lagging round 6. This is not to gain any time, but as we’ve discussed earlier, to even the burden of the aff/neg split in the last two rounds. If the presumption is that in any well-matched good-debater round, the neg has an advantage, then intuitively it makes sense that the same pool of well-matched good debaters debate one another on both sides at the end in the fight for the top spots. I know that some folks have pooh-poohed this because of the taint of bad tabbing that goes with lag pairing, but I’m keeping my options open.

In any case, we should get to breaks by 1:00. If I keep the Yes Virginia 7:30 round, which I might to ameliorate travel home for long distancers, make that 12:30. Lag it and it’s 12:00, but let’s stick to worst case because we could have a bunch of folks heading to 8:00 mass next door (requiring flight B placing in round 5). Breaks start at 1:00. 3:30 Octs if we have to flight doubles, 5:00 quarters, 6:00 semis. Not terrible, but even with the whole two days, it wouldn’t look promising for a potential final because it is, after all, Sunday night.

Sunday dinner at India House at 8:00. That’s not bad.

If anyone has comments about any of this, I’d appreciate them. None of it is etched in the proverbial stone.

Bronx Funnies

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

MJP at Bump

For reasons that are not quite clear to me, when I was cleaning out my mother’s apartment I found a bar of soap labeled Bate’s Motel. Is there something going on with the Aged P that I’m not aware of?

Anyhow, the second big change at Bump will be MJP. Again, this is something we’ve discussed at length on TVFT one way or the other. It’s pretty much the norm at $ircuit tournaments, but if you’ll remember, the very first time I ran it was at Ridge a couple of years ago as an experiment. It worked fine with what I would call a normal pool of judges, meaning that the best judges (best as defined by the field of debaters) seemed to be where they belonged when they belonged there. Granted we could do that same in tab by just paying attention, but this puts power into the hands of the people, so to speak. Community rankings, which I’ve done for a few years, come close, but MJP is closer. I realize that there remain some coaches who are not in favor of it, but if a team doesn’t rank, they’ll just get somebody else’s high ranker, meaning that the judge in question will be one considered strong by at least one of the debaters. To presume that this means a bias against the other debater pushes things a bit. And anyhow, those non-rankers are the ones who always say you should be able to pick up any judge, so, well, pick up this one. I’m also recommending MJP for everyone else, including Monticello; I’ve just set it up for RJT on tabroom.

I’m writing a little bit of the invitation every day or two, when I get a chance. I’ll have to trophy up before the end of the summer, but I am thinking of getting some medals, no doubt enlisting O’C in aid of that. You know how Scrooge McDuck has a big pool of money he likes to dive into? O’C has a big pool of medals and trophies for his swimming enjoyment. What can I say?

I’ve got people signed up for Yale and Bronx, and I have to say, getting the Speecho-American Sailors organized was no easy task. Lots of begging them to tell me what activities they’re in, begging them to sign up for activities actually being offered, etc. They’re less than conversant with the team schedule, which always amazes me given that every other team around here knows about it by heart. Must be something Speecho-American about it. They just don’t think like debaters. That may not be a bad thing, mind you. I’m simply pointing it out.

Speaking of schedules, the plan is to publish BFs at 1:30 and blog posts at 7:30, until I run out of ideas for one or the other. Tally-ho!

Bronx Funnies

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Novice Bumping

I started working on the Bump invitation yesterday. The first big change is that there will be no break rounds in the two novice divisions.

Holy Elimination, Batman!

Here’s the thing, and we discussed this at length on TVFT. Bump is the first invitational any novice attends around here. It takes place the second weekend of November, and the likelihood is that all the novices have had, at most, 10 rounds, and more likely, 3 or 6 rounds at most under their young belts. They come to Bump and want to partake in all that Invitational Goodness, but the real point of the tournament ought to be to give them experience. With elims, about two thirds of the field get 5 rounds and then, what? They watch novice rounds? That’s not totally valueless, but still. As Kt said to me this weekend, at her first Invitational, NFA (which was on the Bump weekend, although once upon a time I used to say that Bump was on the NFA weekend), she made it to the break rounds, hit one of the top seeds and was out. Not much gained.

I’m not quite sure how many rounds we can get in, so I’ve left that vague on the invite, but I would imagine that if the LD field is, say, 80, we should be able to get 8 or 9 reasonable rounds in the allotted time. Trophies will go to the top 10 or so, medals to the next whatever, I haven’t quite decided yet, but it would be on a simple scale of wins/speaks, and not much different from the hardware of elims; in other words, we won’t be saving any money here. My guess is that before we get to the end rounds the placements will have mostly been determined, but I can see no great argument for not giving the most rounds to the most people when they’re just starting out.

Anyhow, that is a big change, probably the biggest for the tournament. Since O’C will be running the novice tab again, it will keep him from wandering off too much, so the benefits just keep on coming.

Bronx Funnies

Monday, August 01, 2011


It is now August. The party is over.

I was away last week, which is why Bronx Funnies went offline for a couple of days. I had my iPad, on which I create the strips, but I haven’t figured out how to port them over from there directly to Blogger. I could post them to Facebook, but to that I say Bah! They belong on CL, if for no other reason than that they cover me when I’m too busy to blog. Can’t complain about that!

The biggest news is that we’ve postponed Bump a day. The Friday on which we would normally start is Veterans’ Day this year, and I hadn’t given it much thought, but last week I heard from the school and they explained that they felt that the school should remain closed—completely—to honor veterans, which is the whole point of its being closed in the first place. I can’t say I disagree with that. Too often we think of holidays not as celebrations or remembrances of those being honored, but simply as a day off. I mean, Presidents’ Day is usually an ad featuring George Washington saying, “I cannot tell a lie: Our prices are insane!” I sort of believe that GW is a little more important than for use as a shill. Or good old Abe, or any other president. Except maybe Nixon. (“Shop with us, because we are not a crook!”) Anyhow, veterans aren’t just these really old guys in wheelchairs that served in War of 1812 and they roll them out once a year. Veterans are, nowadays, former Sailors who became soldiers, young folks serving really far away in really tough situations, or even folks serving close to home but doing service to their country rather than service to themselves. Veterans are also folks my age, lots of whom got a bum deal from fighting a difficult and unpopular war. And people my parents’ age: I was going through my father’s papers as I was settling my mother this spring, and among them were all his old army stuff. He was over in New Guinea during WWII.

Postpone Bump a day to honor these people? Proud to do it.

There will be Bumpian changes, though, because of the date change and because of some other things that we’ve been talking about over the last year. I’ll give them their due in separate posts. Meanwhile I will begin updating the invitation so that it will be ready by the beginning the local school year. And by the time this is posted I will have registered folks for Yale and Jake. If that doesn’t mean the party is over, I don’t know what does.

(Wow. TPO. Now that brings me back...)