Friday, September 30, 2011

Pups 11, Part 4

Yale in the past has been something of a general reunion, with lots of conviviality and the like. This year, with everybody cast to the winds for all three days, there wasn't quite as much. So it goes.

Kaz visited us on Friday, since policy didn't start till the next day. She has a new PC, and spent most of her time not getting it to run TRPC. There's a system file that isn't in the default setup, and all I had was the XP version, and the minimal internet we had barred her from downloading it from the internet. Sigh. We did get the Pup printer to work, however, with my extra computer. I wonder whatever happened to that printer.

Speaking of printers, we used my Brudda to copy. Never again. There's so much copying, it gets so hot, it doesn't want to work normally anymore. Next year, somebody else's printer dedicated to copying.

JV was at my hotel, and we met after the festivities both nights for a late meal, so at least we had that. O'C was roaming around from venue to venue; he says he was putting out fires and chaperoning, but all I saw was his lugging around this sushi he had bought at lunch, and as the hours progressed and the heat and humidity rose, that sushi wasn't looking any too pretty. I really hope he didn't eat it. Forensics wouldn't be the same without him.

I never saw La Coin at all, although she texted me that the rumor was that UPenn wasn't happening. "They say" were at it again. UPenn will be happening no doubt better than ever this year (and it's the one left that CP will be at). I can't wait to meet They someday. I want to ask them where they get this stuff.

In fact, I saw the most people all weekend at the award ceremony, at which I arrived late because I was finishing up LD and then loading my car. By the time I got there the place was packed to the Puppish gills, so I just grabbed a GatorAde from an obliging concessionaire and sat on the fence (a place I hardly ever park) and chatted with one or the other of my fellow wizards. No big changes in the region this year. Abdul is in at Byram, but everyone knew that. Brother John is now district chair in NYC. He has my sympathies. O'C has a whole bunch of new assistants he's calling the Brain Trust (he says his team vetoed the Think Tank, possibly because they didn't like the competitive connotation of tanking); as with all O'C assistants, I wait a year before trying to remember their names. At my age, short-term info like that just takes up space, and I like to wait until they're Dunayed before giving any real mind to them.

And, of course, CP wasn't there at all. It turns out he got sick, and he claims that since he probably was going to get sick in any case, it was better than he didn't run things. And yes, things ran well without him, but we missed him. I mean, no one can replace Chris Parker Palmer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pups 11: Part Three, The Usual Suspects

As always, representatives of the League of Usual Suspects visited us in the tabroom. The us in the tabroom included Abdul B, who got to see all of this first-hand, when he wasn’t jotting down notes on the music so that he could rush home and sample everything. (I let him take over the speakers on Sunday, and we switched roles. I want to hear more of that last stuff he was playing that sounded like Zeppelin…)


There was the person who got told they won by the judge but showed a loss on the results. They lost.

There was the ballot that no matter how we read it, we couldn’t figure it out. The judge wasn’t all that sure either.

There was the person who missed the round, and claimed that a lot of other people must have missed it too, and therefore they should all get byes. But they didn’t miss it in droves, and the byes were not forthcoming. The general rule is, there’s the next round right after the last round. Keep an eye on things; this is not the job of the tab room to make sure you get to your round. Yes, it would be nice if there were clearer advertisements for this, but with no cell, no wireless, and no copier, paying attention is the name of the game.

The late judges were always late. It’s always the same people. They have never shaken their butts, and they’re not going to start any time soon.

The judges who complained that they weren’t being used were heard from. They were being used, of course. With that many judges, there was about half a tournament off for most people. At other tournaments, these are the same folks who complain they’re judging too much. You can’t win.

We do have systems for seeing that the judge burdens are taken up fairly. At some tournaments I go through in advance and take people out of rounds at random (i.e., judge 1, no rd 1, judge 2, no rd 2, etc, going up and down the line, keeping the coverage equal with a little more in the presets and first break, where you need more highly ranked judges); you can do that when you have a real surfeit of judge talent. We also look occasionally to see if any extra judges have gotten way fewer rounds than everyone else, but like hurricanes in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, this hardly ever happens; TRPC is good about this.

This is the perception, though: Why do people think we’re actively doing something in tab either for or against them? The computer spits out the assignments, we check ‘em and print ‘em, and that’s it. In the case of MJP we look to see that the assignments are fair. If they’re not (say, a 1-2 or a 2-2 when everyone else has a 1-1), we take the first available 1-1 off the top of the stack and replace (and the stack isn’t alphabetical, so it’s not like you should change your name to Zeus if you want to judge less). The whole point of tabbing is neutrality. Much of what we’ve done lately with transparency and MJP and the like is make us even more neutral. It’s not as if we’re doing nothing in there other than listening to music and making wry remarks about our colleagues on the other side of the door (which we are doing, but that’s beside the point); we’re also spending hour upon hour entering data, and more importantly, not intervening any more than we hope the judges are intervening. We don’t want to leave any footprints on the tournament. We want fairness and accuracy. I’m pretty confident about the former, and ever hopeful of improving the latter, which is why we post results.

We are not out to get you. Really. We don’t even know who you are, when we’re tabbing. And that’s the God-honest truth.

Bronx Funnies

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pups 11: Part Two, On Location

The high school where we ran the LD prelims was roughly as big as the Pentagon, with the usual confusing room numbering that most high schools inflict on their visitors. When I arrived the only Pups around were concessionaires, but they tried to connect me with a tab room, and then more official Pups came around, and they did connect me with a tab room, but it was, sticking with the Pentagon analogy, over in the White House, so we found another tab room nearer to the table. We got thrown out of this room the next morning by the school that was having some sort of breakfast session, which was too bad, because this room had some wireless and some cell phone service and the other room’s wireless service laughed at you maniacally while the cell service only worked if you climbed up on a desk and stuck your head out the window. Also typical for high schools, but rough on a tournament. On the other hand, the building itself was solid and perfectly nice, with an agreeable principal who popped in now and then to see that we weren’t feeding the equipment to the homeless or whatever. Unfortunately, the room list that we had and the rooms that we had never were the same; lots of Pups did lots of running around trying to solve that, the end result being that, as rooms came and went like spirits in a Neil Gaiman novel, they just shunted the participants into the nearest space that would suffice. You could just put “Any Old Room” down as the venue half the time. That did slow things down a bit. Judges not picking up their ballots also slowed things down a bit. There weren’t too many of these, but even one in MJP means a whole lotta juggling and, occasionally, a diminution of the ranking of adjudicator. Nothing worse than trading in a 1 for a 3, I’d say. But that’s usually what happens when the judge doesn’t show. Blame the judge, not tab.

Speaking of which, there’s others you can blame. One or two schools notoriously rank everybody bass-ackwards. Your 1 is their 4, in other words. You end up meeting, if you’re lucky, at a 2, but more likely at a 3. So here’s a word to anyone who thinks they’re beating the system with clever pairings: you’re not. At a big tournament like Yale, 99% of the elim rounds got A+ judges. Literally the only ones who didn’t were the people who ranked “creatively.” If you don’t like ranking, then don’t do it. It won’t hurt you (you’ll get other people’s highly ranked judges, and more often than not agree with the choice). But at the point where you see the lists of good debaters from the last few years, and you start by ranking them at the bottom, your rounds just aren’t going to be that well adjudicated from anyone’s point of view. If you think you didn’t get your best choices for judges at Yale, again, don’t blame tab. It’s entirely your fault.

I mean what I’m saying here, about 99% of the prelims having been adjudicated by mutual 1s. I would press the button, close my eyes, and bingo: 1s all the way up and down the line. Occasionally a 2-2 would pop up, easily fixed to a 1-1. And those 3-3s would be there, unfixable. I think there was a single flight of the 6 where one team (one of these bubbleheads) got a 1-2 ranking. The rest was a walk in the park, at least until break, or when a judge pooped out on us.

Don't poop out on us. We know who you are. We will get our revenge!

Bronx Funnies

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pups 11: Part One, The Early Years

So, sez you, how was Yale?

Not bad, sez I.

Of course, it started during a monsoon. I’m beginning to associate Pups with meteorological Armageddon. Pupageddon? As always, the Clarion was on top of its game. I love dealing with a hotel that knows how to run a hotel; it’s amazing how rare that is. I had sent them a rooming list, and they had rooms for everybody on it. So, so nice.

I only had the People’s Champion and 3 sailors, and given the new location for LD, they were mostly with me, except as noted elsewhere. (Bear with me on this. It may take a day or two.) We drove to the campus and for a little while there was less than torrential downpour, and we had lunch and then went off in our own directions. The pups were still setting up when I got there. I like roaming in and standing there with a cup of coffee until they realize, wait a minute, it’s Menick. The pups running things this year were new to me, and I to them, but of course we had had many communications prior to the event. Registration was in LC, in a comfy little auditorium, and while they set up, I massaged the data. I wasn’t sure yet how to handle LD (one computer or two), so I set up the divisions separately. I was also unsure how many judges would port over from VLD to JVLD. Here’s the thing about that. There were a lot of judges in the VLD field who were perfectly fine but only in the middle of the rankings. I know these folks well, and would rank them As in JV in a second. So once I knew that I could, I pulled out a handful of varsity judges and seconded them to JV. For them, it was not necessarily great news, because in VLD they would have gotten easier rounds (the way downs and the way ups) and in JVLD they got nothing but bubble rounds where every decision counts. Those who complain about MJP’s effect on VLD should keep in mind its effect on other divisions.

I put myself into the line for registration first, just as a test case, and had some stuff for them to test (the bastids tried to overcharge me!) and it went well. Mike V was the registration grownup, a necessary position. Early on I realized that some people didn’t know where LD was (the info had changed many times) and I made sure that the table reminded folks. This ultimately didn’t matter too much because one school from the borough closest to Westchester got so caught in the bad weather that I spent three hours of the two hours I was on campus patting O’C on the virtual shoulder and telling him it was all right and not to worry. Of course, I would have dropped his team’s collective rump in a heartbeat if there were anything in it for me, but that’s just the nice kind of guy I am. In their favor, they had the Panivore on board (and I think the bus actually had a sign, Panivore On Board), and while I didn’t care about BSers, I wanted the P to judge until her brains fell out because, again, that’s just the nice kind of guy I am.

Anyhow, at 3:30 or so I packed up myself and the Sailors and we headed off to the high school.

To be continued…

Bronx Funnies

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ave atque vale!

So yesterday CP sent a message out to the forensics community, via the agency of an email blast to the attendees of Yale, explaining why he wasn’t running things behind the scene anymore for the Pups. I have talked here before about Chris’s contribution to the community overall. In addition to creating, which would have been enough, somehow he got involved in working with a bunch of Ivies on their tournaments. Longtime members of the VCA know well how I felt about colleges back in the day; I don’t know if I every used the phrase bloodsucking leeches, but I saw again and again how colleges were raiding the high school community, running tournaments against local schools on established weekends, using their name value to offer amateur hour events that were often embarrassing, and generally taking the money and running. Worse, many of them seemed to get TOC bids (which still bothers me: yeah, a bid should go to where the bid people are, but just because we’ve established a precedent doesn’t make it right—call me the Clarence Thomas of forensics). (Actually, please don’t call me the Clarence Thomas of forensics.) We’ve had that discussion before (and quite actively on TVFT).

Anyhow, then along came CP. I have no idea how he got started doing this, but the next thing you knew, he brought professional management to the Ivies. Their tab rooms knew what they were doing. Their organizers gained a sense of stability impossible to otherwise attain as students come and go. They learned to work with the community rather than solely for their own ends. It was an incredible transformation, and he deserves the credit for it.

Now he’s taking a less active role in these tournaments, because they do take an incredible amount of work, and there are just so many hours even in his day. Plus he believes, and I think rightly, that they are ready to go on their own. So I take this opportunity to thank him once again. Without Palmer, the landscape of high school forensics would be radically different, and nowhere near as good.

(Then again, if the Pups goes to hell in a hand basket this year, we now know who to blame, that *&^%$# CP!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Counting down

You’re out there spending your weekend however you spend your weekend, and you realize, this is it, see you again in April. This is an exaggeration (there’s a weekend off in October thanks to the Jewish holidays), but it’s mostly true.

The party’s over. Time to get down to business.

All the decks have been cleared Pup-wise. Now it’s just a matter of folks entering their judge prefs starting tomorrow. Tonight I’ll take a last look at the hireds and make sure they’re all where they’re supposed to be. Then I’ve got to haul out my equipment and make sure everything’s in working order, specifically the Brother printer and my old PC. I expect no problems, but one never knows. Then we pack it up and haul it up to New Haven, and let the games begin.

I’ve been happy with the lack of sad-soap stories and pleas for special treatment. I’m pretty much inured to both, but CP had promised them a-plenty. I mean, at this point I’ve told people no more hireds about as often as Obama has given in to the Republicans, so we’re covered on that. I would imagine some fall-out over putting VLD judges in JV rounds, but if you’re not particularly preferred, do you really want to sit around for three days? And on the opposite side, if you’re a good judge, shouldn’t you share your expertise with younger students? In my experience, the really good judges, be they former debaters or coaches, never gripe at judging younger students. They recognize it as an opportunity to both do some educating and, honestly, relax a tad. But, of course, I’m talking about the mensches here. The unmenschables are something else altogether. Maybe I’ll give them CP’s phone number.

I did spend some time sorting out geography. The new venue Saturday is quite close to the hotel, rendering trips to the campus sort of irrelevant. My goal has been to find a dinner solution near the hotel. So far, not so good. Oh, well. Tournaments are all about the food, aren’t they? (Unless you’re panivorous, in which case, who knows what tournaments are all about?)

Bronx Funnies

Friday, September 16, 2011

Together Again!

VLD and JVLD will be together at the Pups. This is a load off the proverbial mind. It'll be at a new location halfway between my hotel and the campus, which has its benefits. I thought I'd point out the change of venue, and the melding, right away, for any who might have read how it was otherwise and were acting accordingly.

It ain't over till it's over.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slugs: The Other White Meat

The joy of my life these days is wondering where O'C will check in next. Last night it was Gristedes supermarket. I was thrilled to hear it. Made my evening. Really.

I guess I'll turn off Foursquare notifications today.

We had the inaugural meeting last night, and have acquired a handful of prospective LDers. They didn't jump out the window while we were discussing animal rights, so I guess they'll mostly be back. It was hotter than Hades at the school, but we got through all the formalities. Let's see how many show up next week for the regular meeting, and how long it takes them to figure out how to sign up for tournaments.

Tonight I'll lay out all the MHL workshop stuff and get it out to people. That's mostly just rebroadcasting last year's agenda, but people need to know it's coming.

I find the animal rights topic interesting. I do maintain that it behooves the affirmative to come up with a definition of animal rights that includes having them for breakfast. This may not be essential, but being able to defend a version of animal rights that limits those rights (as all rights must be limited) makes sense to me. The idea that the affirmative must, in CX, claim to be a vegetarian, as a Sailor claimed last night, just strikes me as soooo novice. An animal has the right to certain treatment, but in the old circle of life, that treatment might include being served with mashed potatoes. Keep in mind that the topic says justice, not morality. Giving an animal its due, in other words. What are animals due? What do they deserve? What are their entitlements? That seems simple enough to me for an aff to dig in. On the other side, even walking in off the streets one immediately hinges on to the words requires and recognition for neg positions. Negative need not assert that animals have no rights, although neg can certainly assert different rights from the aff if that seems desirable. The thing is, those rights aren't persuasive enough when compared to human issues to require recognition.

All of which seems true to me. That is, there's real possibilities for real arguments on both sides. No doubt few if any people will argue that way for long, but hope springs eternal...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September Song

I’ve finally accomplished something useful: I’ve outscored O’C in Foursquare. No doubt this is temporary, since he checks in every time he thinks about eating sushi, but I will now retire victorious, leaving him the field. I did not pay all that money for an iPhone to dedicate it to checking in to the local beaneries. I don’t care about where most people are, unless I’m looking for them. Then again, if all the people I’m avoiding would start checking in, I’d know where not to go. For that, I’d be getting my money’s worth out of the iPhone.

Remarkably enough, the biggest event at the Pups, going by teams and not people (because otherwise it would be PF), is Congress. (Although thanks to what’s been going on in Washington lately, I gather the NFL wants people to call it by its more meaningful name, Nyahh Nyahh Nyahh Debate.) Where have all these legislators come from, and why are they convening on New Haven? Maybe it has ever been thus and this is the first time I noticed it, but I find it curious.

Tomorrow I’ll get the registration set up for the MHL workshop. This is where we offer a free day of instruction to anyone who wants it. It’ll be at Bronx again, on 10/2. It’s unfortunate to have to have it on a Sunday, but every other day was a Jewish holiday. The calendar this fall is brutal, either with dueling tournaments or dueling religions. The last weekend of October, for instance, has more tournaments than O’C has Foursquare check-ins. I will be in my usual devoir, tabbing the CFL, while everyone else will be everywhere else. So it goes. Although it’s not as if I want the place to myself. Still, a one-dayer has the virtue of one’s own bed, and I can’t argue with that. In fact, I get three one-dayers in a row, right before Bump, although I do sleep in my own bed for that one too, only not very well. Which reminds me that I also need to alert the Sailors., Retd., of the proceedings.

Ah, September. Nothing much happening, but everything in the pot ready to simmer. Enjoy it while you can.

Bronx Funnies

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Pup Thickens

Flies are in the Puppish ointment, but that is to be expected. They lost the building we had last year for LD, so they’ve had to juggle some things. The biggest problem is attempting to share judges; JV and V will be in two different venues. This means we can’t be as generous with judge hires as we might have been otherwise. A bunch of folks who are still waiting for hires are going to be a little bummed, but so it goes. They can’t sell judges they don’t have, and quite honestly, they’ve got a good bunch, so no one can complain. I doubt if that will stop them, though. Our other problem is splitting up the tab staff. With Vaughan in Speecho-American land, other arrangements must be made. Oh, well.

At least the Sailor registration is intact. One thing about a small team is that you don’t have to move an entire army (or in our case, an entire navy). Three cars worth, altogether. Compared to some folks who have, maybe, 77 entries, including teams and excluding judges; they might as well hire a battleship for the weekend. The grass is always greener. I’m sure these battleship folks wish they had three cars worth, while I would love to have all that raw material to play with.

It occurred to me at some point yesterday that Bump registration will open in a couple of weeks. Jeesh. We had to postpone tonight’s inaugural until tomorrow; tonight is school open house. Why do I never check the calendar?

Bronx Funnies

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Well-Oiled Machine

The NYCFL moderators met this Saturday at Iona. It used to be that this was some sort of grand reunion at the beginning of the year, but in the age of Facebook and Twitter and the DiDeAd (we have our own listserver), I feel that we’ve barely been away. Kathy S and I talked a lot about the Sailors on our way down and back, and that was productive, but at the actual meeting, it was mostly, let’s do it again. I recall back in the day when this meeting would run on and on, but after a while you run out of things to discuss. There were a few new faces, but most of us are growing mold, and, well, there you are: a well-oiled machine. When it was over, JV and Kaz headed down to the VassaRR, which was at Collegiate. No doubt the Collegiate Alumni were meeting up in Poughkeepsie. If anyone doubted that the RR was at Collegiate, both O’C and CP kept checking in on Foursquare, presumably for no other reason than to annoy me. I had no choice but to retaliate. I am going to be the Mayor of the Taconic State Parkway in 3 days!

We’re still organizing who’s running what at the Pups. A few folks haven’t been heard from yet. And meanwhile we’re beginning to set up the Tiggers, with some defections here and there. That’s very early days, though. Pups, on the other hand, are breathing down the proverbial neck, and as far as I can tell, reality is just beginning to settle in and people are beginning to realize that they’re not going to be able to hire 50 judges and they’re paring down their entries. We could still use more LD judges, just to make things that much more swell. O’C is on the case, says he.

Tomorrow night is the inaugural Sailors meeting. I heard from the admiralty that there was whining about the pamphlet, because it had pictures of people who were no longer at the school. So, I wonder, we put on pix of people still at the school, for what? The pamphlet goes to people before they show up, to convince them to enlist. Does it matter which pictures of people they don’t know are on the page? It’s not like the pix are so old that everyone has a mullet or something. Speaking of which, if you Google Hen Hud for images (I was looking for the official Half Moon for O’C for the Bump medals), pretty much the first image you get is The People’s Champion. He obviously made his mark on the place.

Bronx Funnies

Friday, September 09, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

As the VCA knows, I have a Day Job. I don’t name it because then it gets swept by software trawlers and posted back to them, not that it matters all that much, but in my mind, the DJ and the Night Job should remain separate. I am loath to spend time on the latter when I should be working on the former, although often enough the former impinges on the latter. So it goes. It pays the bills, so it gets its due.

One of the things I’ve wanted to do for a long time on the DJ is get my products up on our website. I spent a lot of time demonstrating that I could provide regular content, and at the beginning of the summer we started putting it on the site. The trip from testing to live, which is still incomplete, has been fairly rocky. I haven’t changed what I’ve been doing, but our web design is done by outsiders, and I’ve been at the bottom of the list of their things to do, even though, frankly, I think what I’m doing is more interesting than anything else they’ve got. In essence, it’s a link blog, a batch of good content on books and entertainment, and the goal is to populate the marketing parts of the page with complementary business. I put together a system so that my staff can help feed me promising articles, plus I’ve been building up my own resources. My middle name is now RSS. The thing is, if you look at, say, 500 web pages a day, a hundred of them just repeat one another, another hundred are duller than dish water, the next hundred are about the Kardashians, another hundred are too hifalutin, and the last 95 cuss too much. Which means I get 5 good articles a day, with any luck. Often I get fewer, very occasionally more.

Starting with those good articles, I write about them, adding my own perspective, which is the only thing that makes them unique. As time goes on, I find myself adding more and more, but that’s probably not a bad thing, because it’s value added and therefore better content on its own. Additionally, I do birthday tributes when the spirit (and the birthday boy/girl) moves me enough. And I’ve got some ideas for other things, which I’ll do when we get to the fully live slash operational mode. (We’re half alive now. Like the Kardashians.)

The end result of this is over on the right, The Books and Entertainment Blog. I think that most folks will find it enjoyable, if you’re at all interested in books, movies, music, TV or theater. It tends to be more classic than contemporary, but there’s plenty of new enough stuff. It doesn’t talk down to people; I’ve long ago learned that everybody is smarter than you think, except for a couple of them, list provided on request. To really enjoy it (and it’s meant to be enjoyable, an editorial product on its own), you should put it into your own RSS feed or follow it on Twitter (@RD_Books_Ent). We haven’t done anything to promote it on Twitter; I just put it there because it picks up the entries automatically and ports them easily elsewhere, like the widget you see here.

The down side to this is that I have for all intents and purposes abandoned the Coachean Feed. It is, in a word, a victim of the number of hours in the day. I don’t know how many people will care about that; if I do see something worth passing along, I’ll just note it in the main body of CL.

How did you spend your summer vacation?

Bronx Funnies

Thursday, September 08, 2011

How To Stay on the Waitlist

There comes a time in the life of every tournament where everybody starts asking for favors. Usually this means taking them off the waitlist. CP’s philosophy about this (and he can correct me if I’m misrepresenting him) was that the more you bothered him, the less likely he was to grant your requests. The thing is, getting off the waitlist really isn’t a popularity contest. At a big event like the Pups, there are schools that may not get teams in at all. Obviously they must be serviced first, in the order in which they arrived. Short of performing some special service for the tournament (exclusive of showing up), there is no other warranted claim to spots.

At a big tournament, this is fairly easy to maintain. It’s a tougher attitude to stick to at a small tournament, where the temptation is to let in as many people as will fit. This means that big programs get big allotments of slots, which means that your brackets start falling apart and your judge pool is all butter pecan (or whatever other flavor the big program comes in). The smaller tournament may make its money, but it risks ruining its tournament. Obviously, with about 100 or so VLDers at Bump, I can keep things relatively balanced. It’s harder for me in, say, VPF, which has maybe a field of around 30 or so. I could probably get 10 more teams in if I removed the school limit, but instead of a nice balanced (albeit small) event, I would have a skewed not much bigger event. And more money in the Sailor coffers. And fewer people thinking VPF at Bump is worth attending. Running a tournament requires both a long and short term perspective. Luckily for me, I’ve run so many Bumps that I don’t have to give it much thought anymore, even though I do tinker with things all the time. And with the Pups and their big field, I have worked with them long enough to know that maintaining the integrity of the tournament is their priority.

Two more weeks and we kick into gear. Those of you heading to Texas will be kicking in that much sooner. 2011-12 already. Happy New Year!

Bronx Funnies

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Nipping at the Pups

When you have a lot of people attending a tournament, there’s a lot of hoo-ha. For the Pups, aside from my own entries, which include some waitlisted Speecho-Americans, all I’m really interested in is the LD side of things. At this point, it is all waitlist management. There is a practical, objective limit to the size of the fields (the number of rooms does not infinitely expand to meet the field), and there’s obvious reasons to limit the size of any one school’s entry (two or three big debate schools could take up the whole thing, given the opportunity). The goal of the Pups is diversity, and an inclination to draw from more than just the region. So one pulls schools in from far away if one can, although mostly one goes down the waitlist in the order of FIFO. If one were to play favorites, it would be fairly obvious, I think, and would not be to the benefit of the tournament. Similarly, one could presumably play non-favorites (“I never did like you, hence I’ll punish your students”) but I’m sure that would also be fairly obvious. If a school does have a bad history, though, and choices must be made, well… If your judges notoriously don’t show up, for instance, don’t be expecting any extra favors. Anyhow, at the moment it’s looking to me that maybe all the schools on the VLD waitlist will get slots, just because every day there’s a little movement as people drop. Whether anyone will get more than the allotted 4 slots is something else. JVLD seems more steady. The tournament is a mere two weekends away. We should be down to business after the end of this weekend, I would imagine. Plans will be in the works, and unless someone comes down with a severe case of the Creeping Crud, they’ll be there.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I sent out the recruitment marching orders to everyone yesterday. Play nice together and bring in as many sheep as possible, essentially. Despite all our knowledge that recruiting can be done, somehow, for the Sailors it remains pretty much of a genetic crapshoot. People in the district know about forensics, and somehow a few of them sign up for the team. No matter how aggressive or passive we are, same results. Maybe if I taught at the school it might be different, but who knows? In any case, the fingers are crossed. Give me 5 novices with staying power. Is that asking too much?

O’C’s latest check-in on Foursquare is that he got a haircut. How can Bronx Funnies possibly compete with the reality?

Bronx Funnies

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Excelsior, You Meathead!

All right. This is how it is. One more Foursquare notice that O’C is standing on some subway platform somewhere and I’m cutting up his iPhone and serving it to him with wasabi, soy sauce and chopsticks dipped in motor oil. Jeesh!

Saturday I put in the order for the Bump trophies. They’ve moved the shop, and I drove awhile in the wilderness until I found it, and I thought that maybe this was some sort of sign, but no, there it was, finally. Meanwhile, O’C (if he lives) will be acquiring some medals for me, although he’s probably forgotten all about it in his Foursquare mania. Where’s the check-in at the trophy shop getting Bump medals, one might ask. He did come up for dinner last Friday along with Kt, and we did our best not to talk about 1) debate and 2) Disney for the entire evening. It wasn’t easy.

Mostly I’m thinking about other things than Bump at the moment. I met with the Sailors for the first time last night and tried to convince them that attending tournaments was sort of part and parcel of the debate experience. What do I know? We kicked a few animals around for a while. My feeling is that you need to prove that animals have rights, then that it is justice to give recognition to those rights. That is, start at the beginning. As for the neg, I’m not quite sure where one might jump on, that animals have no rights or that justice doesn’t warrant recognition of those rights or what. Here’s what I think. An aff needs a case that proves animal rights inclusive of (and independent of) carnivorous humanity; aff needs to prove that it’s okay to have a burger, in other words. That would indicate a case with a solid footing, even though, as I tried to explain to the Sailors, I would never actually run anything about vegetarianism (probably on either side). How they’ll take what I was saying remains to be seen. A lot depends on where their research takes them.

Meanwhile, there’s the Pups coming up, there’s Montiwegia, there’s the MHL workshop, and then there’s Jake. Mostly I’m concentrating on Pups at the moment—cleaning up judge requests while O’C acquires some more judges, monitoring the LD waitlists, that sort of thing. We just began organizing for the workshop. Once the season begins, it begins with a vengeance.

Bronx Funnies

Monday, September 05, 2011


"There are few careers available to pigs that don't involve being eaten." -- Roger Ebert