Thursday, November 29, 2012

Debate: Ready to Tigger 'em up

I love dealing with CP. Somehow with him it’s always my fault when I screw something up. I prefer to blame everyone else. Given that there’s only one of me and quite a few of everybody else, the likelihood that one of them is at fault versus me being at fault are about seven billion to one. Those are good odds. What can’t CP accept them?

I think Princeton is ready to roll, in any case. We threw in the strikes for PF late. I had thought about these off and on, but more off more often and hence they fell through the cracks. PF strikes are a slippery product. There’s a certain sanctity of any damned fool can judge it, versus the problem that some damned fools always drop you and I’d rather have some other damned fool judge me if it's all the same to you. It’s curious to look at PF from the other side, as in, newcomer parents who I try to toss in there from the Sailors. Everyone seems to want to spend the next three or four years observing. I mean, once, okay, but after that, you’re in. Watch one, do one, teach one. Watch fifty, do one, attend child’s graduation isn’t really how it’s done. This despite how much we insist that PF is intended for their lay adjudicating ears. I’m seeing the same thing with our Speecho-American parents. How many times do you have to observe Dec before you feel competent enough to judge it? (That, of course, is a trick question. Just watching one round of Dec will turn the most profoundly competent adult into a simmering bowl of hyena sweat incapable of ever rustling up another cogent thought.)

At this point the tournament is about to pounce from the gate. Tonight I’ll look at the data and start setting things up in TRPC. Judge prefs close at 9, so everything is ready at that point, aside from the usual memo from You Know Who asking for more time. Or, maybe you don’t know who, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m still getting people asking about the waitlist, which is sort of moot at this point. I overbooked a little as it is, with the aid of a couple of extra rooms that turned up unexpectedly that I hope are still there once the festivities begin. Also, of course, there is the integrity of the tournament. Some schools could fill up an entire division all by themselves, but that does nothing for everyone else. We’ve got the right numbers for the debate divisions, we’ve had them for a while, and we’re going to keep them. I wouldn’t give my own mother another LDer, but then again, she would know better than to ask.

We did move registration time up a bit on the speech side. I’m wrangling the debate side of things, and JV is wrangling the speech side, and he reminded me that when he figures he’ll be done as soon as registration is closed, the next thing that happens is that tabroom crashes and it turns out that all the numbers are not divisible by any reasonable number for assignments and the judges are all taking the day off to work on their macramé projects. He wants to get out at a reasonable time, as do we debate tabbers, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t. Needless to say, he runs with full autonomy on his side. I really know nothing about tabbing speech.

Then again, CP would claim that I also really don’t know much about tabbing debate. That’s where we disagree. It’s those other seven billion people who don't know much about tabbing debate. Next to them, I'm Mr. Tab incarnate.

Music: The greatest players of the guitar and ukulele?

There's something magical about people really making music...

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These headlines are all real, directly copied from our RSS feed without editing. When we say we didn't read them, we mean it. They didn't exactly pull us in, for some reason...

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Debate: Running things, sort of

In a way it’s rather odd helping out at the Tigger tournament. Obviously I run the tournament at my own high school, which for me means getting as many other people aside from myself to do the work as is humanly possible. Come to think of it, getting out of doing work has been my modus operandi for as long as I can remember. In the DJ it meant inventing all sorts of technical systems that got everybody else out of doing a lot of work too, one of those high tides lifting all boats sort of things. I’m pretty good at systems overall, and I was able back in the day to apply that talent not only to classic bureaucratic bloat but to some burgeoning technologies; putting the two together got everything exactly the way I liked it, and still like it. It reminds me of The Doubleday Cookbook. When I was working at that particular publisher in my youth, they were putting together this classic magnum opus, one of those enormous how-to-cook-everything books. For reasons I don’t quite recall, I was assigned to do the index, something I had never done before or since. I took to it with a vengeance. The end result, lo these many years later, is that whenever I look something up in the index of The Doubleday Cookbook, I always find what I am looking for at the very first try, exactly where I intuitively expect to find it. If you can’t organize the world the way you like it, then at least try to organize the index.

Anyhow, the real point is that I enjoy running things. My daughter calls this going into God mode. I’m good at delegating what can be delegated, and doing myself what can’t be delegated, and knowing the difference. Of course, I really don’t run the Tiggers or the Gem of Harlem so much as guide them along where needed, as needed. It’s different for every school. The Tigs are terrifically well organized (perhaps as a result of their years with CP, but then again, when I got into the Gem, they were terrifically not well organized after the same number of years with CP, so go figure) and all you have to do is point them in the right direction. We put O’C as their guardian on trophies and judge acquisition, for instance. Having O’C as your guide to awards is like having Lance Armstrong as your guide to biking: he does it on steroids. But universities need university trophies, and O'C got the Tigs over the hump of their Dollar Store awards into the real thing. I mean, let’s face it. While a university tournament may offer good competition, most people go because it’s that particular university. There’s an underlying reason why so many Ivies do high school events with people breaking down the doors to get in. They don’t even really need the allure of bids: people just want to walk those hallowed paths and imagine themselves being here in a few years as actual Tiggers (or whatever) themselves. I think it was Bietz’s proposal that all universities automatically get semis bids, somewhat based on this premise.

So we point the students at a school in the right direction, and do some of the stuff ourselves. For me, it’s always running the registration, which I love doing. I love pulling people off the waitlists (it always makes you look like some great hero), matching up judge hires, rapping recalcitrant knuckles as needed, wondering if this year yet against XY HS’s coach will blow off her judging obligations (which is why her school was taken off the waitlist so late) and if YX HS’s parents will pull out all their losers on Saturday night despite the hundreds of dollars of fines imposed on them last year. Have I ever mentioned I have a pretty good memory for tournament shenanigans? Combine that with the number of registrations I run, it’s not a good idea for your school to join in the shenaniganning, if you know what I mean. In any case, running a big registration means picking at tabroom every couple of hours, especially as we get close to finalizing fees. I get a kick out of that. Other people no doubt would find it torture of the worst order.

What will be interesting this time out is using tabroom again for notifications. I have to admit that I have no confidence in my understanding of this from the users point of view, which means that a) I haven’t read the directions in tabroom and b) when people ask me questions I’ll have to make something up. It worked pretty well at Bronx, insofar as notifying people that something was happening, but it didn’t necessarily notify them of the correct thing that was happening. CP, happily unraveling a parli tournament at the Pups that weekend, occasionally texted responses to my cries of help to the tune of, “Oh, that’s not good,” and, “Um, I should look at the data.” I’m not sure where he is this weekend, but I can imagine getting texts from some random gin mill on the south side of Boston telling me that “Oh, that doesn’t sound good.” We’ll see.

The point of all of this is that I do like working other people’s tournaments. Sometimes it’s just sitting in tab keeping the machine humming and pulling out the sausages. Other times it’s getting out front and pushing the random animal parts into the sausage-making machine in the first place. The Tiggers is a Random Animal Parts tournament for me. Which, as I say, I really enjoy.

(I hope that the linguistic abuses in this post don'tt mean I’ll have to turn in my Metaphor License any time soon.)

Dumb ways to die

The catchiest tune I heard all day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Debate: More on Academy

I've cross-posted this to the Northeast-Forensics group on Google. Please respond there, if you're so inclined.

It would seem that there are a couple of immediate responses to Academy Debate.

First, there’s a misperception that it offers some change of the present debate activities. It was suggested that it would be a new debate activity altogether, or should somehow work as a preventative against certain practices that some coaches find displeasing. This is not the intention. Academy, as it relates to actual debating, should be seen an no different than the connotation of novice or varsity or junior varsity as they relate to their particular brand of debate. Academy is rigidly defined as aimed at sophomores and juniors and excluding seniors; it can also be judged by seniors (and, of course, the usual college judges and coaches). In other words, we limit who can do it, and expand who can judge it, but we do not attempt to interfere with the content, nor make claims for any new content of debate. As I’ve said, in that regard it is something like an expanded junior varsity division. Why not just call it JV? Well, around here JV has a very specific connotation. Aside from Yale, the first tournament of the year for most participants, it only exists in local events, where it comprises mostly sophomores and upwards looking freshman, and is primarily a division that provides randomly paired rounds and access to state finals at the end of the year. In other words, there are no “real” tournaments aside from Yale that offer it, and there it’s only in LD. For the most part, aside from the local occasional one-day events (which I value highly, don’t get me wrong), debaters in LD and Policy are either novices or varsity, and for the most part they’re all varsity in PF. So on the one hand, the idea of Academy Debate is predicated on finding meaningful rounds for intermediate debaters, who both get their heads handed to them at varsity events (a little learning from losing goes a long way) and often learn to dislike the activity (at least LD) because the commitment at the highest levels is so intense, and they’re always facing competition at those highest levels (until they’re bracketed down into the bottom).

So on the one hand, there’s the benefits to a specific group of debaters of a division dedicated to them. Secondly, there’s the benefits to tournaments. Academy is not intended to be some new structure for some new tournaments. Speaking frankly, there are some tournaments that are in trouble, or will be in trouble, and Academy might be the help they’re looking for.

We need to look at the tournament situation in the region. The season begins at Yale, and then for all practical purposes there are no weekends off, aside from holidays, until April. This is not an exaggeration. Some of these are big invitationals, some are local one-dayers, but they take up the entire calendar. Every now and then some program comes along and wants to hold a tournament, and we always tell them the same thing: Fine, but there’s nowhere to put it.

So our calendar is full, and what happens is, the season begins to take shape as a result of what tournaments are when, and teams adjust accordingly. It seems that there’s about one big TOC-qual tournament every month, and there’s a lot of jockeying around them. They anchor a team’s calendar at the varsity end. Then there’s the regular one-dayers, in NY being the MHL and the NYCFL. There’s also about one of these a month, and they anchor the team’s calendar at the other, younger end. And then there’s the tournaments with no bids, and maybe no plans at trying to get bids. The bid-seeking varsity debaters aren’t very interested in these, for the most part, not only because of the lack of bids but because the competition won’t be at their level. Monticello is the perfect example of this, in all its divisions. It comes between Yale and Big Bronx, and used to have bids, but lost them over the years because it really is a regional tournament that doesn’t go out and buy a lot of circuit judges or anything like that. I find it a very welcoming venue, with great amenities for judges and coaches, plus it offers housing to the students. It’s also big enough to hold the winter Olympics in there (and, in Monticello, it is always winter). But after it lost its bids, programs seemed to lose interest in it. What programs didn’t do, I would imagine, was lose interest in developing their sophomores and juniors, many of whom might not debate at the bracketing tournaments of Yale and Bronx because of entry limits. But since Monti had no lure for the top varsity, but divisions that were called varsity (or open) that had to be judged by paid adjudicators, it became much less attractive. It was one thing to get some rounds for lightly seasoned debaters when you also had the chance to pick up a bid, and another thing altogether to get some rounds for lightly seasoned debaters between the expensive Yale and Bronx events, at the same cost.

Over the last couple of years attendance has declined steadily at Monticello, and the tournament runs the risk of disappearing, yet it is a venue that has proven it can hold a tournament of great size successfully (no easy feat year after year). If it were to disappear, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that someone else would grab the weekend, but the same issues would ensue, regardless of who grabbed it under what aegis. The bracketing tournaments determine that this one will always be what it is (unless Yale and Bronx somehow lose their bids). So we are faced with the situation of lightly seasoned debaters losing an opportunity for rounds on this weekend (and there are a couple of other weekends like this throughout the year, but let’s stick to one example for now). We can let the weekend expire, or we can try to revitalize it.

The other half of Academy Debate, and the reason for its name, is that tournaments offering this division will also offer training/workshops/lectures/brainstorms—whatever makes sense to provide not just much-needed rounds to a particularly underserved audience, but also desirable educational enhancement. Not every team has the coaching resources to do a lot of this, even if they’re piloted by strong educators. But if we find an open slot or two at a given tournament, and allow students at that tournament to brainstorm the next topic, or hear a lecture on social contract, or whatever, it becomes an even more desirable event to add to a team’s calendar. We not only get tournaments on the calendar specifically geared to the most experienced and the least experienced, but also for those in the middle.

It may be a lagniappe of having seniors judge that certain seniors with strong credentials might also participate in training. Rising varsity might especially appreciate a half hour discussion of, say, theory, from a bidded-up LDer known for running theory. Or a crack PF team who explain how they, personally, prep for a topic. There are plenty of opportunities like this, that would appeal both to the seniors showing off their skills and to their potential audiences.

Obviously the nature of the academic events offered at an AD tournament would vary according to the personnel at the tournament. And some tournaments might offer in only one division, because their other divisions are TOC level. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. And most tournaments wouldn't offer it all, because they're serving a different audience.

The plan is to test this idea at the Byram Hills tournament in January. The situation there is a tournament right after the break, the week before Big Lex, conflicting on the national level with the Sunvitational. This is a young tournament that has never drawn a strong varsity field, and it never will. But the intermediate students who will get crushed next week at Big Lex might really benefit if Byram were an Academy Debate tournament, with rounds at their level and enhancements for their long-term careers. And that’s what we’re going to try to do.

Coachean Feed: public speaking, standardized tests, sexism on campus, compulsory voting, software patents

More links of interest to the debate community.

  • Fear of public speaking is as common as can be. Having once painfully suffered from it myself, I am a true believer that the best cure is to do it, hence the best way to beat nerves as a debater is to debate more. That's also some of the advice in The neuroscience of stage fright — and how to cope with it. Plus there's other interesting stuff about the problem.
  • Why It’s Time to Get Rid of Standardized Tests Hurry up, please, it's time. Except, in one form or another, I've been hearing this all my life. Since I used to be one of those people who, as they said, tested well, and since I knew there was no particular reason for that (brilliant I was, but not all that brilliant), I believe the underlying truth of this. Changing it? Something else altogether. Where's the PF topic on it?
  • Sexism on campus? No way, right? Wrong. Is Student Life Becoming More Sexist?
  • Our war on drugs is an abject failure. Why doesn't this surprise me?
  • On compulsory voting. It could be a topic this year, or some year.
  • And then there's software patents:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Debate: How I spent my Thanksgiving vacation

Back to the DJ today after a full week off. It’s amazing how quickly one forgets how to sit around doing mostly nothing.

After Wee Sma’ Lex, we celebrated an early Thanksgiving at the daughter’s, as on the day itself she was off to London to visit the husband. (They’ll be skying back and forth until March when he lands here for the duration.) One of the guests was a relative, the grandson of my father’s Uncle Dom. I have no idea precisely how any of us are related to him aside from being some level of cousin at some level of removal. The funny thing is, he looked just like a Menick. It was like talking to one of my father’s brothers, except he’s half my age. Kate discovered him at her new job. You never know who’s going to turn up! He was full of family lore, including the source of the name which was Germanized in order for the Italians to get what was in our area a German-controlled liquor license. I recommend that every holiday have a surprise relative show up. Makes for interesting conversation.

On the entertainment front, saw Skyfall and Michael Feinstein (separately), and a superior exhibit of the circus in NY at the Barnard Graduate Center on the west side. Read about futurism in architecture. Ate out fewer times than I had expected. Paid little or no attention to blogging. Did some online Christmas shopping but went into no stores. Had another Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving day, this time at the chez. Watched five minutes of the annual Macy's Lip Synching Parade. Actually walked by the balloons being blown up on the previous Wednesday around the Museum of Natural History. They were working on Buzz LY and Spongebob SP when we were there, and the streets were lined with barriers in preparation for the big…preparation. Watching the parade get made up is about as popular as watching the parade happen, and you don’t have to suffer through people you don’t know pretending to sing.

Sorted out Princeton rooms. Complained a few times to CP about things for which he was not responsible. Cleaned up all my mother’s financial papers from the floor of the chez and stacked them in the basement. Discovered the NY Times site with the extra puzzles (including SET). Took a few naps. Chopped a bunch of wood. Started discussing Academy Debate on the northeast forensics listserver. Began preparing questions for the annual Christmas Bean Trivia session with the Sailors.

And, oh yeah, while I was typing this, got distracted and cleared off the last major bloc of Tigger entries.

We're where we should be the Monday after TG.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Debate: Gearing back up

I probably should think about getting back to business. I took the whole week off, and it was sort of full and empty, depending upon the time and the day. I seem to be way off my normal schedule lately, for a variety of reasons, like Sandy and Bump and General Malaise and whatnot. But that can’t go on forever. It’s not as if I haven’t been doing what I have to do, but I haven’t been spending much time on the extras. There are enough hours in the day, if one bothers to use them.

A whole weekend ago we went up to Wee Sma’ Lex. This is always fun for me and for the Sailors. First of all, it’s a breeze after Bump, and one wants a breeze if at all possible. Second, it’s a chance to take my young ‘uns away for their first housing in some cases. Plus it’s a tournament lite, with four rounds, so they get experience without having their heads handed to them. It worked out well, for the most part. My two debuters won some rounds, which is way better than debuting and sinking like the proverbial stone. On the down side, we were expecting an Italian feast and ended up in a Thai restaurant, which was fine, but the Italian food in a Thai restaurant can’t hold a candle to the Italian food in an Italian restaurant. (You’ll just have to trust me on that.) CP tells me that they shut down the Italian place after last year’s Lex RR. Feh! You leave Lexington alone for two minutes and they start shuttering the landmarks. On the positive side, I think it would take Armageddon to shut down Rein’s Deli in Hartford, so we had that on the way home. At times we’ve gone in attempting to set the record for individual consumption of matzo ball soup, but this time we just ate like normal (non-adolescent) people, except for Pickles who, when eating a pickle, managed to acquire a nickname. ‘Nuff said. On another down side, the bus driver was of the persuasion: “You go up here and turn right and then left,” and she would respond, “Turn left and then right.” After a while you wanted to rely on the curvature of the earth to get her there eventually when she headed off 180 degrees somewhere else. On another up side, we got out of Lexington earlier than ever before, and home earlier than ever before. All in all, it was delightful.

At one point CP sat me down and explained that in my parochial fashion I had introduced Academy Debate to New York and New Jersey, but had left out Massachusetts. Duh. So, I created a Northeast regional debate coach listserver. It’s called Northeast Forensics on Google groups if you want to join; it’s open to one and all. I used the Wee Sma’ registration to acquire the names of relevant Massachusetts people. I figure any minute now I’ll put the Academy outline up there for discussion. The thing is, if it’s a good idea, it will appeal to debate teams there too. Curiously, someone responded here that AD should be used as a tool to control the content of debate, i.e., less $ircuity, but that’s not it’s goal at all. It’s there simply to provide of level of debate for younger students who are almost intrinsically non-circuit, i.e., slower and less theoretical and more likely to debate the resolution head-on. While I personally have no love of LD at circuit events these days, if for no other reason than that I simply can’t follow it, I’m not out to sabotage it or create an alternative. I mean, debate will go where it goes, and there are things people can do (and I think that MJP is one of those things) to keep it where you like it, but generally not liking it doesn’t make it bad. It just makes it something you don’t like. There’s a lot of forensic activities out there: no one is forcing anyone to concentrate on LD if they don’t want to.

And I’ve spent a lot of time working on Princeton. We’ve got more rooms this year, which is nice, and I divvied those up according to some internal logic that I couldn’t possibly remember five minutes after I created the files. Something to do with geography and brain power, probably, based on the idea that VLD judges and debaters could probably go the furthest afield while PF judges (maybe more inexperienced and parental) and novice LDers were more likely to get lost before they even walked out the door. I also kept the old eye on the waitlist, which has whittled down nicely. My guess is that there will be a few left standing in VLD, but the rest look fine. C’est la guerre. If you want to debate nowadays at major tournaments, don’t wait three weeks to sign up. It shouldn’t just go to the first-day types, but at some point a little sense of urgency on the part of coaches can’t hurt. The tournament opened 10/15. I’m waiting for someone to use Sandy (10/29) as an excuse. And I have a pretty good idea who it will be, too.

Somewhere in there, we also opened registration for Columbia. There were some glitches during the first hour or so, which CP claims he was valiantly fixing, although I claim he was invaliantly screwing things up in the first place. Speaking of which, I want to use the warm room features of tabroom at Princeton, so I’ve been bugging him to give me a refresher on how to work it. I think it’s looking good. We’ll see.

And that’s that.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Riding off into the weekend: Premies

There are those among us who, when they think of classic Coney Island rides, think of parachute jumps or wonder wheels or cyclones. But these pale in comparison to my personal favorite: the incubators! With live babies! State of the art natal care for the prematurely arrived!


I actually am a connoisseur of classic Luna Park and Dreamland. And one of the biggest attractions back in the day? The title of the piece says it all: Babies in incubators were once an attraction at Coney Island

If only there was a way to add something like this to #DisAd13.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Academy Debate

I have proposed this to the NYSDCA and gotten a good response, and we plan to try to inaugurate the idea at Byram Hills in January. Slightly edited, here is my original memo:

We need a division of debate that recognizes that while every student can benefit from forensics, not every student wishes to make it their life’s work. Additionally, we need to provide a better link from beginner to varsity, regardless of a student’s commitment to the activity. And finally, we need to insure that all our regional tournaments provide the community with appropriate levels of competition and engagement, so that our rich competitive calendar continues to thrive.

I offer the solution tentatively titled Academy Debate.

Academy Debate is, primarily, a level of competition that can be applied to any division of policy, LD or PF. Academy Debate is primarily intended for sophomores and juniors, and is open to anyone except seniors and students past their third year of debate (i.e., juniors who debated in middle school now in their fourth year would not be eligible to participate at the Academy Debate level).

Additionally, Academy Debate can be judged by seniors in their fourth year of debate. In fact, seniors in their fourth year are urged to judge, and will be considered not only judges but instructors, especially at tournaments that embrace the full Academy Debate designation.

We have a number of students at the senior level who have a lot to give to the community beyond their ability to adjudicate rounds less expensively than college students (although one reason for creating the Academy level is to remove the need to hire judges for local tournaments). This proposal intends to use those other skills of our upperclassmen. The idea is that if a tournament wishes to adopt an Academy Debate structure, the regional community will work with the tournament to develop a program beyond the rounds that will be interwoven into the tournament. Beyond-­the-­Rounds activities will include lectures and brainstorms on new resolutions, demo rounds by TOC-­level seniors with commentary, stop rounds (coaches judging a round can break in at any time with advice and questions), background lectures by coaches and student instructors (e.g., a unit on sovereignty or due process or whatever). The hope is to slot maybe two or three of these special events into a tournament, during down time and even in lieu of a round.

Our belief is that this will invigorate tournaments that do not have TOC bids by making them appealing to younger students, who can come and actually learn something, and to older students, who can come and, quite frankly, show off their skills.

Any tournaments in the region could find material that would be of great interest in the Academy Debate model, depending on the time of year. There are always new resolutions to explore and new techniques to learn. For instance, look at January in the northeast. On Martin Luther King weekend we have Big Lex, a triple-­threat TOC-­level tournament with heavy competition in each division. Additionally, for most LDers this is the first TOC-­level shot at the Jan-­Feb resolution that will also be the TOC resolution and, probably, the NYSDCA resolution. In our present system:
• Seniors and TOC hopefuls are working hard on their cases, and have little interest in “prepping for Lex” at a tournament with competition not at their own level.
• Younger students are preparing to have their heads handed to them at Lexington, starting for some what might be the inglorious end of their careers because they are not interested in continuing with high stakes TOC level competition.
• Nobody knows what other schools are going to be running, and everybody finds out during the competition. And if you happen to be running something totally illogical that sounded really good back home, well, it’s too late now.
These apply fairly equally across the divisions, but of course with different ramifications. January in PF, for instance, is rich with competitive opportunities, but again, is it best to dive into a TOC bid tournament with a new case filled with untested ideas?

Well, what if there were an Academy Debate tournament the week before Big Lex?
• Seniors who are working hard on their cases would not have to present a finished case, but as judges they could hear what other folks are running andmaybe get some ideas therefrom.
• Seniors who have been working hard will get a chance to lecture and brainstorm their ideas
• A coach or two might do a half hour unit on background for both the PF and LD divisions
• A “lab” might do a training session on CX for all divisions

You get the picture. To pull this off requires commitment from everyone. There is a fear that some tournaments, primarily those without TOC bids, are not getting the attendance they deserve. (The likelihood that any new tournament will somehow work its way up to attaining bids is, honestly, about nil, given the politics of TOC.) At the same time, there is a big issue that we want younger students to remain in the activity if at all possible without becoming dispirited. Additionally, the removal of the need to provide hired judges seriously reduces the cost of debate in the region. And for large programs, there becomes a logical way to split the squad between events.

And that, in a rather large nutshell, is Academy Debate.

More articles we didn't finish reading

These headlines are all real, directly copied from our RSS feed without editing. When we say we didn't read them, we mean it. They didn't exactly pull us in, for some reason...

  • Man ordered not to throw horseshit at Prince Charles
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  • Kristen Stewart on 'New Moon': 'I wish I was better'
  • Watch Live: The First ‘Friskies’ Awards for Internet Cat Videos
  • Mick Jagger goes to the beach in astro-pervert hot pants, 1973
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Amputation

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Debate: The next tournaments

So, we move onward.

This weekend is Wee Sma’ Lex for the Sailors. We started going there when we stopped sending an oodle-load to Glenbrooks. Not that I didn’t like Glenbrooks; it was and presumably still is a great tournament with a very high QOL schedule. I stopped going when I was starting to realize that I was flying somewhere almost every weekend, and I preferred to stay a little closer to home. If Sailors wanted to go, I was all for it, but it was no longer the team event of the weekend. Wee Sma’ provided instead a first-time housing opportunity for novices, and a chance for younger students to get some meaningful rounds in. I was, and am, all for that.

We’re up to our ears in Princeton. The events are all packed, and nobody has dropped out yet, but I’ve scanned the list and as far as I can tell, the furthest flung are in, if they need to fly or whatever. Now we’re assembling judges and prepping to sell them to the assembled multitudes. As always, O’C is in charge of that, and, shockingly, in charge of trophies as well. It was he who kicked the Tiggers in the pants a while back and got them to upgrade from Dollar Store generics to the real thing. The point is, trophies mean something, especially with college tournaments peopled by hordes of Speecho-Americans. If the colleges don’t deliver, they look sort of punk. And considering how expensive college tournaments are because of transportation and hotels and everything, that’s not the right look.

Columbia is just getting geared up. They always have issues with getting their rooms, which always happens late, but last year they pulled off a great tournament, after pulling off less than great ones, and I see no reason why they can’t repeat. What might be different this year is angling in some policy; we’re working on a bizarre solution to the problem of wanting it but having no place to put it. We’ll see how that works out.

And finally, on a different note entirely, there’s the Byram Hills tournament. For this one, I’ve been pushing for the introduction of Academy Debate, and we’re good to go as far as the school is concerned. Now we have to focus in on what the bells and whistles will be. Academy Debate could be a big deal in the future for some of our local tournaments, making events directed primarily at younger varsity students a lot more valuable. I’ll talk about that more in depth shortly, as we come to some conclusions.

Anyhow, we had our first Sailors meeting in a while last night. Apparently there was a better Sailors meeting somewhere else, because two out of three of the novices came late and left early. I wanted to discuss how to argue, but never got past the basics, so how any of this applies to a debate round will remain a mystery to them, I guess. We also talked about December PF. I like it because it forces people to learn a lot about something they may know literally zip on. Even our Zip, taking economics as a class, couldn’t make heads nor tails out of it. I consider that a good thing. If you don’t learn anything from studying a resolution, what’s the point?

I still haven’t organized the Bump follow-up, like getting the checks to the office and whatever. I’ll do that before we leave on Friday. And, as we say, another one will officially bite the dust. I didn’t get any calls from the schools, so apparently nothing horrifying was left behind in our wake, except a couple of bottled imps crappy prizes. So it goes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Debate: Mini-Tales of Great Debate Adventure (Bump 2012 Edition)

Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see.

First of all, of course, there’s the annoying stuff, like the school that always insists on leaving before fulfilling their judging obligation. Same school every time, same look of wonder in their beady little eyes when we tell them they can’t do it, same reluctance on my part to let them into future tournaments where I’ve got any control because who needs the aggro?

And then there’s also that one school that didn’t show up at all. They also didn’t show up at Monticello. They are on the waitlist for the Tiggers, and I’m running the waitlist. I mean, what are the odds of that working out in their favor? The problem with getting yourself on my bad side is my ubiquity. I may be right or I may be wrong, but regardless, I'm the one pushing the buttons. Sacrificing the occasional goat to me can’t hurt.

I did start the novice events with a pretty negative complaint about what their predecessors had done in the past to cost me a whole wing of the building. Not these people, but their schools, and this could be the last time, yadda yadda yadda. I warned that I would be patrolling the halls to look in on them, which turned out to be remarkably easy as each door has a big window, or I could walk on the path outside and look in from there, so I didn’t have to disrupt anyone. Everyone seemed to be behaving. The only thing negative I heard was one idiot judging with his earbuds in, but I looked at his ballots and they were fine, so presumably he was just too dumb to take them out and was actually listening to the debaters and not his favorite G-pop groups.

A couple of new programs have survived so far, having debuted at the First Timers’, and are doing quite well. This is very nice to see. It’s hard enough just to keep body and soul together when you’re starting out, but to actually take some trophies? That’s an achievement. Usually by now the programs that peeped out at the first dawn have burrowed back in for another time. This is good.

O’C, as has been stated numerous times, only was able to stay for half the tournament because his associate, the G Man, was getting married. I like to thank my tabbers with a nice bottle of wine for their efforts. For O’C, it was a nice half-bottle of wine. There was also no Cruz Award this year, but I did find a menopause video for him to carry him over to next year.

As I said yesterday, I’ll eliminate the award ceremonies for the Varsity next year, but I’ll still keep one for the novices. I’ll do it down at the grammar school, which has a right-sized auditorium. The thing about novices is that the jokes either work really well with them (the word “orgasm” had them falling in the aisles) or else they look at me like I’m speaking Ardhamagadhi. They also liked my shout-out for Mitt Romney, probably because it’s the last time they’ll ever hear anyone do so. See ya, Mitt.

The Sailor runners seemed to be doing a good job; whenever I saw one, they were working. There were a couple I told to watch some rounds who apparently felt that this was the equivalent of snorkeling in quicksand, but I don’t necessarily chalk that up as my loss.

I am happy to report that we were awash with retirees. We threw all of them into LD at one point when we eked out a single-flighted round (there’s still blood on the library floor), but the ones who wanted Pffft mostly got it. We had a great alum dinner on Friday, when I wasn’t too exhausted to appreciate it, at India House, of course. We had some leftovers that we gave to Michelle to give to her male roommates at the funeral home, who will, apparently, eat anything (and live anywhere). Much discussion of living at a funeral home ensued, but for me, having had friends in grammar school and high school both who did exactly that, it wasn’t much of an issue. I’ve also had some neighbors who I would have preferred that they were dead—much quieter that way—but for some folks, this was pretty odd. Not so odd though that Olivieri, who was going to stay with me, opted for the House of the Dead instead, because of access to an iron. I mean, it’s not that I don’t have an iron in my house, but not at that time of night. Maybe it’s another sign of aging on my part: I just can’t feature ironing after bedtime.

The next day the daughter came up and we picked out a Christmas tree and ate Greek food and saw Wreck-it Ralph. And Bump was over for another year.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Debate: Bump 2012

All happy tournaments are alike. Each unhappy tournament is unhappy in its own way.

Every year something doesn’t work out with Bump as I had planned, and the next year I think I’ve solved that problem and a new problem comes in to replace it. Overall, however, despite rain, sleep, snow, hail, dark of night and O’C wandering off permanently halfway through the tournament, things went off pretty well. Mostly.

For reasons I can’t fathom, we got off to a way late start in the varsity divisions, and that’s without MJP. Next year I’ll just do pairings in advance, and that way the tabbers can just make necessary corrections, if any. Given that everyone texts in changes before arrival, and there aren’t all that many, this should get us started more close to schedule.

Next, Rd 3A on Friday night, RD 3B on Sat morning. 5 rounds total, with a runoff, merging the runoff into the second flight of the octos (which is what JV and CP did this time; it’s a little complicated, but easy enough to pull off if you get TRPC to close its eyes for a minute). It will require a bit of a break to set up with MJP, but that time will have been made up elsewhere.

Next, no Novice PF. When we get the numbers back up from the schools that couldn’t make it, there will be no way to host a meaningful division of PF in the grammar school, plus Novice LD. I hate to lose it, but it was a noble experiment, and it’s not that it failed, but there’s just not enough space.

Only one award ceremony, for the novices, because they’re over and they're young and they aren’t going anywhere and it’s really hard to do awards in the bloody cafeteria and nobody really cares anyhow except for O’C. Team awards in rounds, speakers posted and available in the tab room for varsity. That’ll keep things moving and fill a much needed gap in award ceremonies. The froufrou of the traveling awards will be handled...somehow.

Way more limited housing next time, to schools that reciprocate or come from out of state. I just don’t have the team size to support all the requests otherwise.

Tales of great debate adventure, if any, Bump edition, next time.

Religion: God is in the details, Satan is in the toaster

Via Nerdcore.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Debate: Gone fishin'

We lost Vassar (invitational and MHL) and almost lost Bump. Let's hope that the rest of the season is less...stormy.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Debate: Bump Lives!

So I sent out what I trust is the final Bump email, and the tournament is on, and it will take place in Sailorville. Needless to say, having moved to early November to avoid the bad weather of December, I am now planning on moving next year to early August, where the chance of snow in the region is only about 50-50. I mean, hurricanes and lightning weren’t bad enough, we then had to have a nor’easter? There are still people in my area who don’t have power. The worst situation is those who got it back and then lost it again. I was amazed when I woke up this morning to less than complete desolation. I didn’t know it was possible.

Tonight I’ll do all the Bump paperwork, porting the tournament over to TRPC and printing up the invoices and whatnot. As it turns out, we have lost a wing of the grammar school, primarily due to last year’s vandalism. To say that this pisses me off understates it. As long as I’ve been doing Bump there have been students whose behavior is unacceptable. My response has always been to rid myself of those students, which is one reason why we don’t have policy anymore. Now it looks like we’ll lose Novice PF next year, not because I want to rid myself of Novice Pfffters, but because if we have our full contingent of schools back, we will fill up the grammar school (or what’s available to us) with Novice LD only. Too bad, but I can’t do anything about it. If coaches do not train their students in the art of proper behavior, this is the result. If there’s more damage this year, it will be the end of novice completely. So be it.

I do wonder about scheduling overall, though. I remember back to when I used to do 5 rounds. Then there was some sort of buzz that to maintain a quarters bid, you had to do 6 rounds, so I did. Then, of course, we lost the quarters bid (with virtually no changes in the nature of the tournament), so I’m seriously wondering if I need to bring the 6th round back next year. I’m more inclined to do 5 and a run-off, to tell you the truth. That way, we could eliminate the Yes-Virginia Round at 7:30 and start at a more civilized 8:00 on Saturday, and still end at roughly the same time. We’ll see. This is seriously on the table.

One of the big losses this year will be the announcement of the Jon Cruz Award, Given Annually to Jon Cruz For No Apparent Reason. This year’s winner (Jon Cruz) won’t be there for the award ceremony—

OH MY GOD! Please reread that sentence. Jon Cruz won’t be there for the award ceremony? Mother of Mercy, is this the end of debate as we know it? As you probably know, O’C is attending the G-Man’s wedding ceremony. As I’ve made perfectly clear, the next time Gazzola gets married, let him do it during Big Bronx! Jeesh! Not only is he taking away half my tab staff in the grammar school, he’s also taking away my parent in charge of feeding the assembled multitudes, because G-Man is Zip’s black sheep second cousin thrice removed or something, the relative from the crazy side of the family. Anyhow, the thing is that O’C is only tabbing half the tournament. I have adjusted for this accordingly, as will be made known shortly, beyond just eliminating the JC Award. There are consequences for actions!

Quote of the day: Nabokov on editors

"I have also come across a few pompous avuncular brutes who would attempt to ‘make suggestions’ which I countered with a thunderous ‘stet!’”

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Debate: Say it isn't so!

So the question becomes, what do the gods have against Bump? There was early dismissal today, and therefore no meeting (which had already been postponed from yesterday, and which of course was cancelled last week). No final planning for Bump. No impressing on the Speecho-Americans the importance of the event. No going over the topics with the debaters. No nothing. At least the forecast for the weekend is clear and a little warmer. Assuming there’s no surprise earthquakes (and, given that we don’t use Italian forecasters, any local earthquakes wouldn’t be a surprise), we should be okay.


There are still people just down the street from me without electricity. I’m wondering if we’ll lose ours again. I was only beginning to appreciate heat and light. I don’t want to live without it again.

Aside from the Bump issues, I really miss early-season meetings. Starting friction being strong, you need to jam in a whole lot of stuff into the novitiate mind as quickly as possible. I’ve got plebes who haven’t even debated yet, much less learned what an argument is, or a turn, or what to do during prep time, or how to cross examine. So much information to impart, so little time to do it. Of course, much of this is written up, but does the average student ever read any of it? Unlikely. Superstars do, and potential superstars, but the average student just sort of looks at you funny when you suggest that they read something. I expect that, and see it as part of my job to overcome it, but I can’t do that if I’m not there at the meetings. And meanwhile my stockpile of crappy prizes is growing exponentially, what with the small team and the aborted meetings and no one to give them to. I’m going to have to get another closet! At least I got some of the Sailors to sign up for future debates. Impressing on them that, if they don’t debate much in December, they might as well join the knitting club, is another thing that’s hard to do long-distance.

This is turning out to be a very frustrating week. We may have Bump patched up, but the damage to the team as a whole is something else altogether. And this holds not just for me but everyone else in the reason struggling with lost days and lost rounds.


More articles we didn't finish reading

These headlines are all real, directly copied from our RSS feed without editing. When we say we didn't read them, we mean it. They didn't exactly pull us in, for some reason...

  • George Lucas says he plans ‘little personal films’ in future
  • Cold sore-themed cupcakes
  • Britney Spears in talks to pen a novel based on her adventures
  • In Defense of Stink
  • Fungus as a Building Material
  • Jimi Hendrix Clothing Line Coming to Bloomingdale's

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Debate: The "Oy!" of Tournaments

Oy, indeed.

Sandy has desolated northeast forensics. Granted, that’s small potatoes when juxtaposed against the physical desolation, but that doesn’t make it any less real.

I’m always amazed as I try to chivvy up the Sailors to sign up for tournaments how quickly the season passes, especially for Plebes. There’s a first-timers’ event in October, then there’s one thing after the other, not that everyone goes to all of them, and then, suddenly, it’s President’s Week and aside from a few finals, it’s over. That’s about 4 months of debate, or maybe a dozen realistic debate possibilities. Miss one because you have your grandmother’s bat mitzvah coming up, well, life goes on; miss one because it disappears off the calendar, and what with your grandmother’s bat mitzvah and SATs and PSATs and SITZBATHs and whatever, and the next thing you know, it’s Spring and a young debater’s fancy turns to— Well, we won’t go there.

November in the northeast is fairly quiet. There has been an MHL event forever at Monticello, moved this year to Vassar. And there was Vassar, an attempt to plant another tournament on the calendar on a relatively available weekend. People need as many rounds as they can get, and varsity especially, aside from those on the $ircuit, don’t have much around here that month, so Vassar fits in nicely. Sandy, however, thought otherwise. The Vassar Powers That Be quickly put it into turnaround. It couldn’t have happened, they knew it, and so they said Wait’ll Next Year. And so we will.

I was out of electricity for a full week, and plenty of people in my area are still out. New Jersey schools aren’t back yet, but at least New York seems to be in business for the most part. (Lakeland district is supposed to come back online tomorrow, last I heard.) Even last week, listening to the predictions, I knew that Bump was in jeopardy. There was no way we could get housing, for one thing. We had less than half of it lined up at the beginning of the week (of course, there were still two weeks to go, so no one was terribly concerned), and now most of the housers had no electricity, no email, no phones, no nothing. Housing is an attractive part of northeast debate, because, obviously, it saves money on tournaments; losing housing makes tournaments a lot less desirable. But obviously, housing had to go. That was the first casualty.

So the question next was, would we even have the high school available? For some reason the power on that side of town was steadier than the other side of town, so that looked okay, although good friends elsewhere came forward and offered alternate venues just in case. We were ready to move the tournament to another school as of yesterday, but that proved unnecessary. It wouldn’t have made it any easier or harder for the Bump registrants, it would have just made it different, although it would have been problematic for me trying to provide food and whatnot.

Still, no matter what was done, there was no way to run the tournament on the normal schedule. So we compressed things a little by eliminating the third round on Friday night and starting later on Saturday morning. This will allow people to bus back and forth at reasonable times, or if they’re coming from Manhattan, they can catch the local train to the station about ten minutes’ walk away. That’s not terrible. The only catch is that we go from 6 rounds to 5, but c’est la guerre. Once upon a time almost all tournaments were 5 rounds. We got into this 6 round thing because of TOCs theoretically requiring a 6th round if you had a quarters bid. Why am I letting TOC run my life, especially when obviously TOC doesn’t give a crap about me (witness my pared-to-finals PF bid this year, following the paring to semis in LD a few years ago)? But that’s a question for another time.

Having everyone leave early Friday night means we don’t have to feed them, and I dropped the school fee which pretty much translated to the cost of Friday dinner. Can’t charge people for what you’re not giving them, right? It will be weird getting out early on Friday (normally I’m the last one out of the building, and of course the first one back the next morning, and I’m running on fumes by around lunch time). This means will have the alum dinner Friday night, when I’m actually not too tired to enjoy it. There’s a silver lining for you!

After all the drops and changes, we’re still filling up both buildings. I let schools bring larger contingents, but not crazily so, which means on paper the tournament will actually still look pretty good. But here’s the thing. The tournament is happening because a lot of people showed their support throughout: coaches, the school admin, the team families. Nothing happens in debate because somebody tries to do something. Things happen because the community wants to do something. That’s why I love that debate is part of my life.

Here’s hoping that our friends who were even harder hit get back on their feet soon.

Monday, November 05, 2012

More articles we didn't finish reading

These headlines are all real, directly copied from our RSS feed without editing. When we say we didn't read them, we mean it. They didn't exactly pull us in, for some reason...

  • Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Princess Dresses at Disney World
  • Rod Stewart Was Never a Gravedigger
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  • The Late Movies: Watch 6 Full Episodes of The Smurfs
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  • Can Sex Help Sell Coffins?

Magic via Ted

I'm not exactly up to speed on blogging, obviously. But I've been catching things here and there, and I'll just pass them along.

Debate: Bump update (not exactly a blog post, but electricity is tight around here)

I am waiting for final confirmation, but as far as I am aware, unless there is yet another storm, in which case I am quitting debate and taking up 43-Man Squamish, we will hold the Bump Tournament at Hen Hud. We have lost a few schools, of course, but we’re still filling the place up. We’ve stretched the per-school limits a bit, but not terribly much. It looks to still be a strong tournament.

Registration still closes tonight at 9:00 and fees are set. However, you will be able to make adjustments to your entry online through Wednesday night, provided I’ve clicked all the right buttons. If this is problematic for you, please let me know.

Again, the new schedule is as follows:
Registration 2:30 – 3:00 Friday afternoon. Do not arrive at the school before that time, please.
Two rounds of debate, ending around 7:00. There is no dinner or housing on Friday night, and registration fees have been reduced accordingly.
Saturday, round 3 starts at 9:00. We will hold a total of 5 prelim rounds in the Varsity divisions breaking to octos (given the present numbers) and as many general rounds as we can in the Novice divisions. Lunch is served on Saturday.

For those coming up from Grand Central, it’s a 10-15 minute walk from the Cortlandt station. On Friday there is the 1:50 arriving at 2:41, and on Saturday there is the 7:50 arriving at 8:40. (Please double-check on the day of, and keep in mind that any other station other than Cortlandt is going to cause you an immense amount of grief.) These will work fine, and allow your debaters a much needed stretching of their forensic little legs. There are also cabs available for those who require them.

There are no further judges for hire, so please do not ask because they will not suddenly be falling out of the trees because, alas, there are no more trees in our area.

Because the number of schools is smaller than usual, we have abandoned MJP. Also, there may be fluidity between the pools of LD and PF (when the tab rooms know that a judge can handle both). If on Friday the tab room feels that they can offer strikes in VLD, they will proceed accordingly.

We thank everybody who has stuck with us through all of this. Just so you know, next year we’re planning to be struck by an asteroid; we’d hate to have to hold a boring old regular tournament for a change.

General Motors at the '64 Fair

Ah, yes. This was the future I was expecting. This ride famously demonstrated the machinery that could turn a rain forest into a paved road in seconds flat. It also makes you think that, if a hurricane hits, you still won't be out of power a week later.

[Via]... And he's right about the hats.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Riding off into the weekend

With all the talk about Disney buying Star Wars, one of the inevitable questions is if Disney will somewhere build a Star Wars land of some sort in one of the parks. Germaine to that is this article about Star Wars ride concepts. Most interesting is the design and layout of the roller coaster. I mean, this was really thought out, and I absolutely would be willing to run straight to it at rope drop.

Lots of other discussion, jokes, cartoons, whatever have been thrown around the blogosphere. Mostly people are sanguine, or at least most people who are Disney and/or Star Wars types to begin with. We've already seen the synergy for years in Star Tours and Captain EO and, for that matter, the Indiana Jones properties. Disney knows how to work this stuff. There are people off the reservation who complain that Star Wars is dead, which only points out that they've lost interest themselves. My favorite response was one that I hope is true, that unlike Lucas, Disney won't keep mucking about with the movies that already exist, and for that matter, might eventually issue them on video the way they were originally released. That would be really nice, since little Lucas did after the fact was an improvement; even if there were improvements, eliminating a movie from view in its original form, especially movies as culturally influential as these, is just bad thinking.

So in the immortal words of Obi-Wan Kenobi: "Live long and prosper Open the pod door Hal May the Mouse be with you."

Debate: Bump update

The following is what I have sent to the registered schools. Since all of it is true, and it seems complete, I have nothing to add here.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. They’re even predicting another storm!

We do not wish to cancel the Bump tournament, but the hit from Sandy, which is ongoing in our area, makes it impossible to conduct business as usual. Part of the problem is the inability to predict what the situation will be like next week. One thing that is for certain is that the power outages in our area have brought our attempts to secure housing to a standstill: we simply can’t reach people. Further, given the disruptions being undergone, it is unlikely that people will be able to commit even by next weekend. So, desperate measure number one: housing is cancelled for the tournament.

Most of the teams signed up for the tournament come from a reasonable distance either from New York City or the Hudson Valley. To enable those teams to commute to the tournament on both days, the schedule is changed thus, in desperate measure number two:
Tournament registration Friday at 2:30 to 3:00, followed by 2 preset rounds. Estimate finishing time Friday, 7:00. No dinner will be served. Since we will thus not be spending that money, the school fee of $25 will be waived.
Round 3 on Saturday morning starting at 9:00 am. (Obviously, no requests for flight B will be entertained, because we can’t put everyone in that flight, which is where everyone will want to go.) Lunch will be provided. There will be 5 rounds of both VPF and VLD, breaking at most to octos. This should assure us of our TOC bids. NPF and NLD will have as many rounds as they can fit in.

Desperate measure number three: there is a possibility that we will move the tournament to a different venue, TBA Monday. This could be another high school closer to NYC. When I know, you’ll know.

For folks with or seeking motel reservations, at the moment the area is chaos, with the powerless in situ. This should clear up by next weekend, for the most part. If you decide to motel your team, use the motels on the route 129 strip between White Plains and Tarrytown, as they will be in close enough access to whatever venue we use. PLEASE NOTE: If there is no change of venue and we are forced to rely on Hen Hud, there is a chance that it still might not be accessible, so don’t secure unrefundable reservations.

We expect that following this message there will be drops aplenty. Desperate measure number four is that we will almost certainly clear much of the waitlist for entries covered by judging. (Well, I guess that’s not all that desperate.) More will be known as I know it. If you are going to be one of the dropping schools, please do so sooner rather than later. We have no choice but to stick to the Monday night closing no matter what happens, and you will be held accountable for fees accrued.

All of that said, we are doing our best to make a good tournament happen, and I would imagine that we will change things again as we know more about who’s coming and where they’re coming to. There is even still a chance that it might not happen. I will keep you posted. On the bright side, the tournament is guaranteed to generate more [TAB] emails than all previous Big Bronxes combined, so Jon Cruz: eat your heart out!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Flight Safety in New Zealand

Debate: Another two bite the dust

There is real agony in canceling a debate tournament. So much aggravation goes into making it happen, in corralling judges and lining up concessions, in making the event attractive enough that people will sign up, sometimes in setting up housing and meals. Even a little one-dayer like an MHL has its angst, although that doesn’t compare with an invitational.

So falls the first (well, O’C is probably calling it the 7th or something, or more likely the VIIth) Vassar tournament. It’s tough enough to have carved out this weekend and got everything set up both on campus and at a nearby school for the MHL, and then to have to stop. I feel for everyone involved, especially Alex and the People’s Champion, the students doing all the work. But, they had no choice. And there’s always next year. Both the invitational and the MHL are Sandy casualties.

The thing is, NYC is pretty much out of commission this week, as are most of the other schools in the region. Everything is simply shut down. Making arrangements for buses is hard enough when you have roads, much less when you’re wondering if you can even make it. Mass transportation remains spotty. On my drive to the DJ I see occasional lights, but at least half of my county seems to be in the dark, and I have yet to venture onto any of the less traveled roads. At least I can come in and charge up and catch up on the world a little bit, but at home we have candles and a stove and hot water, but that’s it, yet that’s more than a lot of people. There is still a question if things everywhere will be back to normal by next week. I’ve already got the willies thinking about Bump, and have adjusted the registration cutoff accordingly. I’m betting that it will happen, but I’m not betting a lot. I just don’t know. It’s as simple as that. The school play would have been this weekend, so we might be sharing the venue—the mind quakes. I just talked to the trophy guy and told him to soldier on. Worst case scenario, we’re ready real early next year.

On the other end of this, I had my young ‘uns ready to debate Saturday, one of them for the first time. Since they’re middle schoolers, they can’t participate everywhere, so missing an outing is painful. Obviously we didn’t meet this week, so that’s also a bummer.