Thursday, February 28, 2013

And don't get me started on the idiotic assumption that everyone under the age of 20 is an innate computer genius

Am I the only person in the world who has trouble getting Dropbox docs to sync? I mean, I have them here, I don’t have them there. I look up the problem online, and while there’s answers to obvious usage issues, e.g., wrong user info, there’s not even a hint that, if you have everything set up correctly, you won’t be able to see the file you were working on this morning at the DJ in the folder where you left it when you’re looking for it at the Chez.


This one drove me crazy for days. And it was multiple files from different apps. And they were definitely being saved in Dropbox.

The solution? Threaten its life with a railway share. I started syncing files to my Amazon cloud drive instead of using Dropbox, and suddenly Dropbox got that message that, if it didn’t behave, it was going to suffer. It was going to be abandoned and left for dead. In response, it started showing all the files again.

This is not the first time this approach has solved a computer problem. It is, as far as I’m concerned, step two when step one (turn it off and turn it back on again) doesn’t work. Computer stuff doesn’t mind getting a little shirty every once in a while, but those are the times when you’ve got to show it who’s the boss. That is, you’ve occasionally got to put your applications in their place. When you do, they quiet down and go back about their business. I’m not quite sure what the technical processes behind all of this are, but I assure you, this is exactly how it works.

Go figure.

I’ve been thinking about systems and computers in general lately, for reasons unrelated to forensics, but that’s not going to stop me. The business of systems and computers has changed dramatically over the years. It used to be assumed that the users knew nothing and that you had to train them in everything, including where to sit. Over the years, as computers more and more became a part of the average person’s life, the assumption was that people marginally knew what they were doing, and you didn’t have to train them quite so much anymore. Hence the elimination of manuals, for instance, and the assumption that everyone in the office knows every button to press in Office. At the same time, the IT person’s belief that, at bottom, users are pretty much dumber than a box of rocks and really don’t know what they are doing, has endured, remaining the sort of thing the IT folks would all laugh about when they hung out at bars together getting drunk and telling stupid-user stories. In the end, the IT best practices nowadays are, in a word, not so best. The arrogance that the user is, at heart, ignorant, means that, for instance, all corporate software upgrades except the ones that can’t be hidden are, indeed, hidden. The users won’t even notice it, is the assumption. Systems that used to be beaten up in beta, tested to within an inch of their lives, in a universe when you had to tear it out of the programmer’s hands when it was 99% perfect because they wanted to spend the next year ironing out the 1%, have been replaced with launches that are maybe 50% there, and we’ll handle the problems via the help desk half a globe away. One of the standard launch issues, because users are not factored into usage analysis anymore, is that the system only works for the IT folks who happen to have special rights over the system. The average user can’t get the thing to even turn on, and the IT folks laugh at the stupid users, but the problem is that to turn the thing on, you need to be an admin and the admins were too stupid to set turn off their admin rights when they were testing it, if they even bothered to test it. This is what users complain about when they hang out in bars together telling stupid-IT stories.

Of course, this is only relevant in DJ-type situations, but don’t forget, I live in a DJ-type universe. The bottom line is, software (and hardware) is for users, not programmers, not systems analysts (both of which I’ve been, to some extent or another). Really good designers give users what they need, not necessarily what they want, and then they make sure that those users see the benefits of having their needs satisfied and can, in fact, satisfy those needs. Any program that is not clear to the intended user is simply not clear by definition, even if it’s perfectly clear to the designer. If I make you a car that you can’t drive, I might want to blame you for your thick-headedness but, at the same time, I’m not bloodly likely to sell you that car. Who loses in the end?

We return you now to our regularly scheduled program.

Coachean Feed: Rape culture, modernists, mental health politics, crappy YA books and prison populations

More links of interest to the debate community.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Sailors meet the Avant Garde

I thought it might be a good idea to notch up the level of discourse at last night’s meeting, so I put together a short take on Critical Theory. Curiously enough, after an hour and a half of rather serious discussion, we never actually got as far as CT. Interesting.

The VCA knows my feelings about all of this. I’m a little dubious about the real value of debating this complicated material, as it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to any meaningful conclusions even though its inherent goal is action. To me, it’s just that a debate round is never really a conduit to action. Using a debate round to attain political results is roughly the same as using a meat loaf to tune a piano. It’s just the wrong tool for the job.

Still, the material has its fascination. I wouldn’t have written Caveman if that weren’t the case. The initial material we teach debaters is the ethical constructs of the 18th century, and how they’ve played out since. They are easy concepts to understand, at least at their base level, if you happen to be a young high school student. Consequentialism vs. deontology, utilitarian calculus (from Mill to Singer), justice, the dialectic—solid bones to build a framework for understanding the practical aspects of philosophy. The modernist concepts, however, are not so easy to understand. If we’re looking to discover, say, racism in a text, the idea that we look to the text for what it doesn’t say requires, first, an innate understanding of text qua text, and then asks that we make a satori-like jump into the non-visible subtext. This requires that we first cover a lot of background, other than just saying that it’s so, if someone is really going to understand it.

We never got to any of this, but we’ll go back and continue next week. We got seriously hung up on issues of racism and sexism in their own lives, without even getting into serious issues of racism and sexism. Meh expressed well the disempowerment that girls feel, however subconsciously, of attending debate tournaments that are 60/40 male female. That is such a good starting point for understanding power as an idea, which is absolutely required if you want to understand empowerment and Foucault and, eventually, biopower (the particular subject that I wanted to teach that got me started down this path in the first place). (Speaking of which, I went online and found a bunch of so-called biopower evidence, and it was the biggest pile of unintelligible nonsense I’ve ever seen. As I say, debating this stuff in rounds is, at best, superficial.)

This is, of course, the fun part of the job. If I can get them to do some of this reading and thinking during the off-season, I’ll have been successful.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


We did the MHL Blowout last Saturday. This has become one of my favorite tournaments of the year.

We held it at Polly Prep, Girl Detective, a remarkably old and gorgeous school in the furthest reaches of Brooklyn near the Verrazano Bridge. Some of the classrooms have fireplaces, there was a PRB tapestry of unclear provenance hanging in the dining hall, and the wireless worked better than most colleges. You get what you pay for, I guess. We had a great turnout; the Newark schools were there, which fills up the old policy slots pretty quickly, and there were enough people in even the little JV PF and LD divisions to make a go of it. And, of course, novices aplenty.

The thing about the Blowout is superpowers. Before every round, O’C pulls a card out of a hat and announces what exact havoc is going to be wreaked for every team. Sometimes you get to scratch an opponent’s argument, sometimes you get no prep, sometimes you have to extemp your case, sometimes you have to debate a new topic altogether. It’s all in fun, but it does have the effect of making folks think a little differently about what they’re doing. The results tend to be a little less than absolutely meaningful, and we only get three rounds in, but everyone seems to enjoy it.

At the end, we have awards, of course, but these too are a little different. We like to acknowledge all the novices who have stayed with us through the year, even though some of them might never have won any awards of any sort. So, we give medals to every novice. The thing is, the teams get to name the awards, so we get the most likely to do this, that or the other thing, something special for that kid that only that team really knows about, which is, of course, a strong team-building exercise in itself. It takes a while to go through them all, but attention is held throughout, so it must be working. We also had awards for the tournament per se, but since O’C had run out of medals, he supplied spare Star Wars action figures, which he apparently never runs out of. They were from the prequels, so no one had the slightest idea who they were, but they did the job. When all was said and done, there was one left over, Rex from Star Tours; I took that one. Hey, I like Rex! Because of the lack of enough trophies to go around, we also printed up IOUs, which were given to the Bronx folks. These were pictures of Jar Jar Binks. ‘Nuff said.

And so, the MHL is put to bed for another year.

Monday, February 25, 2013

"September Song," readjusted for February and forensics

I’m really starting to believe that the season is ending. Barring anything unforeseen, one more tournament and I’m done. It’s been an eventful season. The big tournaments were unfailingly bizarre in the behavior of way too many people who should know better. School after school demonstrated bad debate citizenship, flouting rules, ignoring responsibilities, setting examples for their students not of the values of forensics but the values of obduracy and self-interest and gaming the system. At the same time, the universities themselves handled themselves with unflinching professionalism, one after the other. Yale, Princeton, Columbia, UPenn—the students running each of these did themselves proud. They all learned how to maintain their events, working with one or the other of our traveling tab staff as advisers but making the tournaments their own, as they should. The traveling tab staff changes over time; CP essentially started the commitment to organizing the university tournaments and working with them in depth, and now others of us, one here, another one there, carry on with the established frameworks. A decade ago, these college tournaments were a crapshoot. Now they’re part of the backbone of the region (and beyond). Not bad.

The high school tournaments were not quite as marked by nonsense. This may be because the players all know each other and work together more often, and shenanigans not only have more impact, they have more resonance. They’ll come back and bite you on the butt more readily. What really hurt us this year was the weather. Sandy, for all intents and purposes, took a month-long bite out of the calendar, cancelling Vassar, seriously diminishing Bump, and taking some programs offline for many weeks. Then Scarsdale managed to conjure up a major blizzard. Oh, yeah, it was also unseasonably warm for Lexington, so at least there was some positive side to all of this. In any case, the season took a hit, and harms were felt.

On the local circuit, things were more business as usual. The new registration rules have pretty much sunk in, and our first rounds are no longer what we used to call attendance-taking. I had a personal hit when Kate had her accident and I had to pull out of the Regis CFL, but others carried on admirably (although, for some reason, when I’m not around no one ever has 4 rounds—just sayin’). From the looks of things, debate is absolutely thriving around here. The NYC UDL gained national attention for both its hard work and Erik Fogel’s unprecedented use of exclamation points, the Jersey schools packed ‘em in at this weekend’s MHL with its policy novices, we’re starting to see more life in the previously underattended novice PF fields, and we continue to have LDers up the wazoo. We’re looking good for the future.

So we can look back at a pretty good year in all the respects that we could control. I’m not writing this as some sort of valediction; I don’t shut up regardless of whether anything is happening in the debate universe. I’m just thinking about the long strange year it’s been as the days start to get longer and everyone’s fancy turns to something else. With luck, you were able to survive the weather events unscathed yourself, or at least without many scars, and you were also not among the people given black marks on my ever-growing hit list. If you’re going to finals of any sort, I hope you have a good time. Or, as we say in the tab room, “Okay, time for Sporcle.”

Friday, February 22, 2013

Them's the rules!

Some random thoughts.

First of all, the rules are the rules. No one has to like the rules, and one can petition for rules changes, and propose alternate rules, and one can even blog about them and wear people down until one or the other side finally gives in, but the one thing one can’t do is disobey the rules in midgame. Because you don’t like the rules doesn’t mean you don’t have to obey them. We teach this to our LD novices with the civil disobedience topic. Laws, even when horribly oppressive, are still the laws. In CD situations, disobedient acts are committed with the firm knowledge of retribution. One of the chief reasons for disobedience, aside from moral dictates, is to publicly suffer for those acts to draw attention to the unjustice of the broken laws. But the rules of debate are not the equivalent of the rules of law in society. Debate is a competition, and a better analogy is sports. Imagine a manager does not like the infield fly rule; does this mean that he should encourage his infielders to drop every easy catch? Well, no, because the rule exists, and the umpire is going to make the call whether you like it or not.

[In aid of full disclosure, I had no idea what the infield fly rule was until I looked it up two minutes ago.]

Debate is a competition. People forget that. The problem is that, despite it's being a competition, its aims are not particularly those usually associated with competitive events. That is, we are not necessarily teaching sportsmanship and all the norms that go with it, of “good” winning and losing, of doing your best, of being a team player, etc. Not that these are not inherent in debate, but they are not the driving cause. We’re more interested in the educational values, as a general rule. The skills acquired in debate can be life skills, unlike the skills acquired on, say, the bowling team, which may be fun skills but which are unlikely to come up later in one's career (unless one has a really unusual career, I guess). As an aside, the lack of support for forensics and its life skills education in many schools always surprises when compared to the support for sports and its more evanescent skills. In any case, despite the fact that the skills of debate have a core foundation in improving one’s general education in a meaningful way, the means of developing those skills are through competition, mostly in preparation but more noticeably at actual events. Which is where the rules come in.

Competitions have rules because these allow everyone to know what is expected by one and all, be they coaches, competitors, judges or spectators. The very nature of forensics forces some rules to be, at best, hazy, and there’s nothing terribly wrong with that, provided that we all have an understanding that a certain portion of our framework is fungible. But most things at a tournament are not fungible. Schools have judging obligations that must be met because, otherwise, tournaments simply cannot be run. “You won’t miss my one little old judge” is the Tragedy of Commons waiting to happen. If half the field spends countless hours scoping out MJP and ranking accordingly, personal dislike of MJP doesn’t allow us to negate all that energy so that you can sub in a “perfectly good judge.” If you don’t show up within a reasonable amount of time (and more often than not, we’re too reasonable about this), you forfeit. If your judge could find the room and your opponent could find the room, you have no excuse forty-five minutes later when you show up. If you don’t think a decision is correct, you cannot browbeat the judge until a different decision is made. You can’t take evidence that says one thing and pretend it says something else. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

As I’ve said recently, I want to push for ombudsmen at big tournaments, for issues that always seem to arise for which there is no precedent, or perhaps no time by folks otherwise engaged. But I also wish we had a few more players in the game who simply realize that it is a game with rules that must be followed. Sometimes I think that we are mostly just a whiny bunch of children (and I’m not talking about the students here) who simply can’t accept that everything doesn’t always go their way. I realize that the majority of forensicians are good citizens, but in tab rooms week after week I tend to most encounter the whiny complainers who want to evade the rules when it is to their benefit. And this year, more than ever, it's been one damned thing after the other.

My job in tab is just to pair rounds with the most neutral precision possible. I’m better at neutrality than precision, but then again, nobody’s perfect, and when I make a mistake I’m happy to learn of it and fix it pronto. What I’m not good at is explaining to you that them’s the rules, now go shut up and abide by them.

Grow up. Please.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I’ve been sort of buried in the imponderables of tech for a couple of days. I was raised in the era when, if something went wrong, you hauled out the manual, figured out what was what, and then you fixed it. We were all pioneers back then. Our Apple IIs and IBM ATs were silicon Conestoga wagons that we drove into the unknown, and woe be he who didn’t know a C colon backslash from the proverbial hole in the ground. Nowadays, especially in the Apple universe, the pioneer is the old geezer rocking on the porch, gently dreaming of the past with little idea how the present is getting on. So when something goes kablooey, the frustration level is way higher than those olden days. Then, we knew we could fix it. Now, we just hit buttons at random until something happens and everything settles down again. It’s not half as much fun as it used to be.

As I wrote a little while ago, my battery was running down too quickly in my iPhone, and Marc correctly explained about the IOS bug, so I marginally fixed it. Then, when the IOS update came along that really fixed it, I jumped.

Don’t ask. Took all night to sort that one out. Everything back to normal now, and my battery life is better than ever, but I’ve got the scars that go along with it.

As the phone was dancing across its particular minefield, needless to say, it took the computer along with it. Lots of banging head against wall until that got sorted out. The only thing that I seemed to be able to do was go into the Windows 7 shell, where everything was working fine. When Windows 7 becomes your safe zone, you know you’re in trouble. Again, the worst is over, but more scars were incurred.

And what about Javascript, you ask. Don’t ask. I was trying to buy tickets to the local Shakespeare festival, and well nigh selected seats on every computer within a twenty mile radius before I finally gave up trying and lucked into an alternate approach that yielded, sigh, the same tickets I was trying to select manually. Javascript is dangerous enough, but try to upgrade it on a locked DJ machine. I already run half a dozen applications out of Documents rather than Applications to bypass the bureaucracy (they hate when you do that, but the alternative, not having the application, is not acceptable). But some things have to run out of Applications. Again, back to the modern locked world of the Apple or I guess any proprietary universe. Do it their way, or just don’t do it.

I wish someone would get on my lawn. I’d go hang out with them and pretend that I’m young again.

Meanwhile, PJ pointed in a comment to a decent starting solution to my PF issue. I’ll address that formally shortly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Trouble. Right here in Bromance City.

The DJ has filed for Chapter 11 protection again. Been there, done that, and I'm optimistic that the outcome will be beneficial to the company, and also beneficial to this writer.

Meanwhile, there was much discussion about evidence in PF down in the City of Bromance. (Bromance is Brotherly Love, isn’t it?) Those of us sitting in the tab room, with about 8000 years accumulated debate experience, all think about the same way, that evidence needs to be presented a certain way that is verifiable and accurate. That is, the evidence has to say what you claim that it says in its original context, and you need to be able to present it in that context. I remember back to the very first time I ever called for a piece of evidence in an LD round, when a debater made a claim that I found well nigh ridiculous. She handed me her case, with the quote she had read in it. Nothing else, just the words I had already heard. I can remember my sigh to this day.

One of the nice things about the rise of evidence in LD is the concurrent rise of meaningful presentation of that evidence. People can pull cards that show the whole article, or at least the whole paragraph, from which the quote is redacted, as often as not as something both separate from their case and within their case. If you’re going to quote Joe Blow, we need to know what Mr. Blow said in its entirety, so that when we hear your quote from that paragraph, it is, while edited, still representative of Mr. Blow’s claim. In other words, saying that Mr. Blow says, “China will never attack ... the United States” would not be a representative take of Mr. Blow’s original statement, “China will never attack Bolivia unless the United States closes all the beaneries in Des Moines.” Not only does your evidence need to be honest, it needs to presented in such a way that we can evaluate its honesty.

In LD and Policy, we handle evidentiary issues in-round. Any rules that exist expect that to happen, and the judge is empowered to act accordingly. If evidence is to be impugned, by the opposition or by the judge, it will be done before the ballot is written and anyone leaves the room. When it comes to PF, there are no particular rules about evidence as such; as with most of forensics, there aren’t actually many rules at all, as such. But in most forensics activities, ad hoc and what we can refer to as stare decisis rules exist that provide parameters for adjudication. In LD and Policy we call for the evidence, evaluate it and make a determination. But PF, judged as it is so often by, at best, occasional judges—in fact, because the very existence and survival of PF depends on lay judges—we have a judging pool with no training in the fine points, and certainly no lore and community experience to draw upon. If evidence is challenged, or should be challenged, the average PF judges are suddenly out of their depth. 99.9% of the time we want them exactly at the depth where they are. In this .1% situation, we don’t know what to do.

We don’t empower tournament directors or tab rooms to handle these situations, and I don’t know whether or not we should. You hadda be there, you know? But if situations do arise, how should they be handled?

There is no answer to this, and that was how it was answered in Bromanceville. None of us speak for the mainstream of the PF community, or are particularly connected to it. But as long as we prefer lay judges in the rounds, we won’t have a built-in mechanism for solving claims regarding disputed evidence. What the PF community needs to do is hitch up its pants and roll up its sleeves and put its nose to the grindstone and its back to the wheel and grab the bull by the tail and look it straight in the eye and figure out a solution to this problem. It’s not the world’s biggest problem, but even as the most occasional of problems, when it does arise at the moment it is incapable of being satisfactorily resolved. And the debate community should not have an area of dispute for which there is no resolution. Lack of a solution won’t lead to more abuses—most teams are doing their best to be honest and forthright and the lack of oversight will never turn them all into evidence-manufacturing demons—but it won’t solve abuses, advertent or inadvertent, that do arise. And they’ll arise again and again, exactly as before, unsolved yet again. The other debate activities have, in their history, evolved, one way or another, as a result of community action and pressure and desires. The PF community needs to declare itself and proceed accordingly.

As a newcomer to PF, I’m very fond of this activity. I like its leanness, its reliance on both oratory and evidence, and its demand for lay audiences, which keeps it as the immediately accessible debate format. But universal expectations need to be outlined. Rules need to be presented. Coaches need to get together and figure out best practices. Every last second doesn’t need to be accounted for in a round—far from it—but the powers that be need to find unity among themselves (which, in my experience, they are far from having, much unlike LD where the community, even when we disagree, is fairly close and pretty good at evaluating problems and working toward solutions), and then solve its problems so that when these problems do arise, there are reasonable solutions at hand. I don’t think that’s all that much to ask.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rick Astley has a lot of Pixar films to distribute

But he's never going to give you Up.

I spent some time today preparing my tax information for our accountant. On his form, he asked for both my date of birth and my date of death. This is why I don’t like preparing my tax information: I can never find all of the required data.

While you were at Harvard (and for all I know, while you’re still there), I was with a bunch of Speecho-American Sailors down at UPenn. Since there was no school on Friday, we got in early, with a little time for me to roam the streets before a team dinner. It was one of those nights: warmer than normal, with no snow on the ground, and people acting a little pixelated over the serendipity of an unusual Friday evening. Emblematic of it all was the copy center with the guy behind the desk playing the cello. It was a cello-playing kind of night. And Philadelphia is nothing if not an interesting collection of buildings, from the corny to the profound, especially all lit up at night. This being the last I breathed fresh air until this morning, I’m happy to say I made the most of it.

The team dinner was peachy, as such events always are. Aside from the one S-A who apparently exists on French fries (obviously a graduate of Paris’s famed Cordon Bleu de Panivoria), people seemed happy to wolf down whatever was in front of them. Some of these folks were new to me, and vice versa. I was happy to see a couple of hearty freshmen giving double-entry a try, it being a hotel-tournament team requirement. They got their heads handed to them, predictably enough, but it’s best to get this out of the way when you’re young, rather than storing up the angst when you might otherwise have a chance of success, and then finding yourself too strung out to use your skills.

The tournament went swimmingly, at least for LD. I managed to switch a couple of ballots in the last round among people who all broke regardless of how I screwed up, and I was alerted early on that I had screwed up, and got out a correct pairing without breaking a sweat, although I gather the folks who were potentially screwed, even just a little bit, were indeed sweating it out. The connection from TRPC to tabroom was well-oiled, no doubt because CP was there and it didn’t want to behave badly in front of Daddy. When he turns his back, that’s when all hell breaks loose. Speaking of which, although he and I had disagreed about the number of rankings we should use, in the event, using 5 rather than my preferred 4 worked out fine. I would submit that we probably had a few lower mutualities than otherwise, but CP would argue that, well, they were in fact more mutual. There is a tendency, until all schools wake up and smell the coffee, if they ever do, for most rankers to rank roughly the same way, so for most teams it’s not terribly hard to find decent 1s or 2s. In other words, when not everyone ranks, tabbing is pretty manageable. Of course, my now famous rant is that when only some schools rank, they get to call the shots on the direction the activity takes as a whole. And, of course, those non-ranking schools are the first ones to moan and groan about the direction LD is taking. You only have yourselves to blame, folks. I run a lot of tournaments, and help set the tone for many others. You won’t get some miraculous chance in the future to turn back the clock to LD c. 1998, any more than Policy can debate like it’s 1966, when each team had its very own shoebox filled with index cards. Oh, well. I’m doing what I can. Oh, look at the time. I’m going to be late for my fortune-telling date with Cassandra tonight…

Saturday, February 16, 2013

More articles we [did not] [had to] finish reading

These headlines are all real, directly copied from our RSS feed without editing.

First, the did-nots.

  • London mayor praises horse meat
  • How Much Does Darth Vader Weigh?
  • Musician Chubby Checker sues HP and Palm over penis-measurement app
  • Screaming Goats
  • Chester Arthur's New York Apartment turned into an Indian Grocery Store

On the other hand, articles that had to read:
  • Cops Chase Doughnut Truck
  • Babymetal: The cutest lil’ teenage J-Pop death metal group in Japan!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

And then, of course, there's le Jake Royale

This week cannot get any stranger. Trust me on that.

In other news (??? — yeah, that’s right, the strangeness, as it turns out, is not blogfodder, or blogf, as the Brits would refer to it; sorry about that) (as in bumf, you know?) (don’t you ever get out of the house?) I’ve been watching my iPhone 4 charge dribble down to nothing recently at speeds beyond comprehension. A little of that goes a long way, or, more to the point, a little of that doesn’t go a very long way at all. For a while I thought it might be my use of Bluetooth in my car listening to audiobooks (for some reason the phone isn’t linking via USB but every other device is), but I think actually it was due to too many notifications and location services. Did I recently update? I must have. Every update seems to want to make everyone a party to everything I’m doing yet again, but since I am not of the O’Cean persuasion, I do not need to tweet, toot, message, FB and 4Square every moment of my existence, nor do I wish to know when someone else does. When I finally realized the situation I turned everything off; we’ll see if that worked.

I also read that YDKJ had updated on the iPad to a multi-person game, which called for an immediate download. YDKJ ranks in the pantheon of trivia games, and there were many fond hours spent playing it back in the day. Sporcle has its moments, but Jack was just the nuts. An upgrade of either Windows or my Mac at some dark point in the past made my old disks unplayable; I remember clearly the day I had to tell this to the Emperor of Hamiltonia. His look of terminal sadness is etched in my mind. Anyhow, I haven’t played the new game yet. The weekend approaches.

Speaking of games on the iPad, or for that matter on the iPhone, I have to admit that I’ve been much less of a player than I would have expected. I download games, including games I have to pay for, and as often as not it takes me months to get around to playing them, and then I’m disappointed, and that’s that. Of course, they don’t cost much, but still… I go back to a small handful over and over—poker, sudoku, kenken, W.e.l.d.e.r. and maybe a couple of others—but they’re all casual and fast, the sort of thing you do while you’re waiting for your takeout Chinese lunch. For that matter, I don’t take advantage of that many other apps either. 10 or 20 at most. Enormous app stores are a great way to sell devices, but when push comes to shove, how many apps does anyone use? I’ve tried to convince people of this at the DJ, but a lot of content providers are dazzled by the enormous success of a handful of apps, and think that that’s where the action is. I don’t think so, at least not in my business. I can’t imagine Angry Books any time soon. Not that I haven't thrown a few books across the room now and then myself. Shades of Becky Sharp!

Meanwhile, tomorrow we haul off to Philadelphia. As W.C. Fields says in My Little Chickadee, “I’d like to see Paris before I die. Philadelphia would do.” Then again, why don’t we have a tournament in Paris? If it had an octos bid, everybody would go, damn the expense. That’s the what the $ircuit is all about. Hell, I’d go, for that matter. UPenn has cheesesteaks for lunch. UParis would have baguettes with brie. We could go on the weekend the nouveau Beaujolais is released; they drink that stuff for breakfast when it first comes out. Actually, I think that’s the Bump weekend. I'd switch in a minute. We could call it La Tourni Bosse! Avec les prix merdiques! Et la ronde “Oui Virginie!” Et la coupe des fruits voyages! We could host it at the Sorbonne. With trophies shaped like little Eiffel Towers. Moules frites for lunch. Debate ziti for dinner (because that's all anyone ever expects at a tournament), but whereas O'C calls it "Tastes of the Mediterranean," we would call it "La cuisine de la Méditerranée." Which would you rather have?

You know, I could really get into this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shockingly, when offered the nickname "Fluffy," the so-far un-nicknamed Jake categorically refused. And in other news...

There have been some remarkable events at the DJ that are of no concern here, other than that they have been remarkable. I know that this implies that I ought to provide some remarks about them, but for the most part, what happens at the DJ stays at the DJ. This blog isn’t about any of that. Still, those events have their effects on this writer. Like most people, I have a variety of personae, presenting the appropriate ones at the appropriate times in the appropriate places. But the different faces we prepare to meet the faces that we meet have their impact on us. (Hmmm. I haven’t thought of Eliot in ages.) The events in each of our worlds run over the borders into the other worlds. I do spend a full work week at work, at a job that has nothing to do with forensics. And there are times when I’m sitting there listening to something or other, and I really want to point out that there’s no warrant to this argument, or no impact, and I keep my mouth shut. Still…

We chezzed it up last night, and at some point, I forget exactly why, I had to make the comment that this was the sort of stuff I would not otherwise have a chance in my life to hear. The concerns of high school students are, as a rule, unlike the concerns of my Boomer peers, and our conversations are radically different. I enjoy that I get to have both types. That may be a key factor in my continuing in the activity. It exposes me to things I would not otherwise be exposed to.

Anyhow… we did manage to discuss some debate stuff, in between all the nonsense. One of the problems we encounter, because of the minute size of the team, is managing the business of debating PF. What I mean by that is, for instance, what does one do in prep time? How does one work with a partner? All that sort of thing. These are interesting discussions, and I can bring some experience to bear on this, plus research and whatnot, but in many ways, it is the individual pairing’s business to sort this out. That’s not so hard to do once you realize that it is an issue to sort out. If you get lost in the debate, you get taken up in the mechanics and don’t think about them, good or bad. But when you step aside and analyze the mechanics, you start seeing what you should and shouldn’t do a little more clearly. That’s what we we’ve been doing a little bit lately. Of course, getting in there and debating one’s little heart out doesn’t hurt either. My debaters don’t debate enough. I mean, they debate enough to keep their hands in, but not enough to climb the ladder. I think they know that now, and I think they know how to make the climb. Then again, sophomore year is a killer in debate no matter how you slice it (hence my pushing of Academy). Things should settle a bit next season.

Although there is a prediction of some smallish snow tonight, the weekend forecast remains clear. Good. I don’t think I really need another weekend on my own.


Today's guilty pleasure, if you've got an hour or so you need to fill:

None better

She's one of my favorite singers (the others being Louis, Fred and Frank, in no particular order). This just happened to pop up today, via Open Culture.

Curiously enough, this popped up while the Zombies were singing the exact same song, but not quite the exact same way. I continue to beaver away on my British Invasion station on Pandora.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


UPenn is coming up this weekend. So far the weather forecast looks good. Still, I’m bringing a shovel, just in case.

The week began with a few last minute drops from the Sailors. No, you can’t go to a university tournament and stay overnight with just one piece. That’s a team rule, not because they’re expected to win multiple divisions, but the university experience is not for the feint of heart. They’ve got to put some work in. One Dec speech, however masterfully presented, is not enough. But they’re novices. They’ll learn. And of course I lost my debaters somewhere back there, because when you’ve only got a couple of teams, they’re easy to lose. At one point, I had even thought we would be needing a big bus. So much for that.

Still, we have a solid entry of Speecho-Americans. And I’ll be where I can do the most harm, in the backroom tabbing LD. I’ve already begun arguing with CP about the number of rankings, 4 vs 5. With a smaller pool, I prefer the former, for more mutuality. He’s agnostic about actual numbers and wants more choice, with a mathematician’s view of percentages being percentages. His lower 1s are, in his mind, actually 2s in the 4-tiered arrangement, and he feels that isn’t right. But do we end up with less mutuality because the numbers are too small to find matches? Maybe not. In any case, I’ll do what I’m being paid (?) to do, since he’s the tournament director and gets to make the call. And I won’t say a word. Except to blog about it. And, if things go wrong, to whine about it during the entire tournament. And maybe tweet a couple of times or thirty. But otherwise I’ll keep it to myself.

We also have the odd Speecho-American going to Harvard. And boy, is he odd! (Just kidding. Jeesh.) I can’t believe how expensive that is. $50 administration fee? For what? I’m the one who wore his fingers to the bone entering him into JOT. What exactly was administered? Oh, well, complaining about the cost of Harvard is a mug’s game, because people will go even if they get stopped at the door and turned upside down to shake out every last penny. That’s why we picked this weekend for UPenn, back in the day. Which seems to be working out well, overall. A very nice field in PF, which they’ve pushed hard and gotten a solid TOC bid out of, for one thing. And growing numbers everywhere else, it seems. Let’s face it. We run efficiently, it’s a nice layout with a good launching area, and it’s over on Sunday. That’s a good deal. And no administrative fees. The entire entry costs exactly the same as the single kid at Harvard. Makes you wonder…

Monday, February 11, 2013


There were a lot of unexpected days off this weekend. Friday I didn’t go into the DJ, but I did put in a full day’s work reading for them. It’s amazing how not sitting in front of my computer leads to so much more work getting done, especially when I didn’t have to leave early for Scarsdale. And then there was all of Saturday, and then all of Sunday. A whole weekend off? During the season? What is this thing, anyhow?

I used the time to address my website. I began by looking at the construction tools provided by the host, but gave up on that after a while. The thing is, they offer a lot of templates, and I didn’t like any of them. Granted, the way my site is designed now is about as generic as you can get, but the lack of a design fashion statement is a fashion statement in and of itself. Wedding myself to some template that, when all is said and done, is just making do, ultimately did not appeal. I decided to just clean up what I had.

That said, I went at it. I did not finish, but I got most of it done. I broke it down primarily into forensics, writing and audio, which further breakdowns within each category. The more I got into it, the more crossovers I found, that is, writing noted only on the podcast page, debate writing that wasn’t noted anywhere, all sorts of loose ends that needed tightening. As I went along, I realized that probably a lot of the debate stuff is outdated, but addressing that is a different business, something more for the open hours of summer to come. I was also rather impressed with how much of it there is. I have been the busy little beaver, I’ll say that about me.

I’ll update everything after I’ve had a chance to test all the new links. It won’t be a revolutionary difference, but it will make slightly more sense and highlight a few things that need to be highlighted that were previously being ignored or forgotten. I figure another week or two, what with one thing or another also making demands on my time. Whenever it is, you’ll be the first to know.

More articles we [did not] [had to] finish reading

These headlines are all real, directly copied from our RSS feed without editing.

First, the did-nots.

  • Obsessive nose picking is called rhinotillexomania.
  • It's time for another Knit & Crochet Night!
  • How To Give Birth To A Rabbit
  • Christian Post Blogger Who Wrote About 'Leaving Homosexuality' Found Cruising for Dudes on Grindr
  • Love in Amish Country

On the other hand, articles that had to read:
  • Presidents Become Monsters in Action Figure Line
  • Women May Now Legally Wear Pants in Paris
  • French Philosopher Jean Baudrillard Reads His Poetry, Backed By All-Star Arts Band (1996)
  • ‘Atlas Shrugged’ jewelry: Show your sweetie you care (about yourself) this Valentine’s Day
  • Modern Churches That Look Like Chickens
  • Squids That Can Fly 100 Feet through the Air

Thursday, February 07, 2013


There’s something about a lost tournament. JV cancelled Scarsdale this morning. Given that this was the last high school invitational of my year, plus one of my favorite events because of the Varsity judging Novices aspect, plus most of my friends are there to hang out with, it’s a real loss.

It’s not the first cancelled tournament ever, of course; not even the first one this year. We lost the inaugural Vassar event (although no doubt O’C was going to refer to it as Vassar XIII or something because they did have something back in the past) and we lost a quarter of the Bump tournament attendees, both thanks to Sandy. We lost a lot of meeting time as well. As far as I’m concerned, this is the worst year ever to have been a novice Sailor, and maybe a novice anything.

In the past, Bump has been cancelled, as have Lakeland and Byram Hills. Lexington has been seriously battered and kicked but always managed to pull through. Harvard has stranded people in Boston (which is like hell only with a funnier accent) for upwards of a week thanks to blizzard conditions. Princeton and Columbia have run during apocalyptic weather events costing them most of their entrants. Schools like Monticello, in the upper reaches of the state, get grounded as often as not when their buses can’t take them to tournaments that are otherwise under way. And more than a few tournaments have shut down early to accommodate a mass exodus in deteriorating conditions. One year everyone got stranded at Bump for a second unexpected night; everybody housed twice, but then again, they were all snowed in anyhow, so what else were they going to do?

If you’re simply attending events, these disruptions are, well, disruptions. But if you’re running an event, it’s a real shock to the system. Setting up a tournament takes a couple of months of serious commitment. You’re organizing parents and judges and runners and registrants and meals and housing and buses and trophies and snacks and concessions and tab rooms seemingly nonstop. Maybe a given tournament doesn’t have all of those aspects, but most have most of them. You worry about everything. Will people sign up? Will you get a good hired pool? Will you get the food order right? Will you get the rooms in the buildings? Will registrants start harassing you from day one (plenty do)? Will there be a building emergency (one Bump was postponed due to a water main break right before round one, that stopped the toilets from flowing, while one event at the Bronx was marked by toilets overflowing—you can’t win with toilets)? Will there be illness or an accident? Will there be damage in the grammar school? Will there be theft, with students or judges (yes, judges) riffling through the teachers’ desk? The white boards, the student projects. The greenhouse effect of too many adolescents together for too long. Fender benders in the parking lot.

When something happens, one handles it the best one can. But when nothing happens, as in, no tournament at all, the adrenaline you’ve been storing up, the series of problems you’ve already solved, the angst you’ve been churning… It all just floats off into the ether. You wake up that morning and look around and, damn, there better be fifty feet of snow on the ground! And then you have this couple of days when you were expecting to be at your most engaged, managing everything that can be managed, and you’re sitting around eating a bowl of Cheerios and realizing that there really isn’t anything worth watching on Netflix Instant, or at least nothing to take your mind off that fact that about now you should be getting round 3 out.


Been there, done that. My condolences to JV and the Scarswegians (it’s not just the coach who gets all geared up for these things; teams that run tournaments engage every bit as much of themselves into pulling it off with an aplomb that proves they deserve to have had it in the first place; some, including historically the Scarswegians, manage to pull it off). They all have no particular place to go this weekend.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Menick Upgrade

The time has come to update the old website again. At Sailorville last night I discovered that there was no link to Lingo, or anything at all about writing, which is ridiculous, given that, occasionally, I write stuff. When I pointed the plebes to Nostrum it was a moment of pure WTF, and then the next thing one knew, my voice was coming out over Meh’s iPhone introducing the series. Eyes opened wide. Do you realize I narrated about 70 or so of series one, about half of what Jules and the Mite wrote overall, and all of series two? When the hell did I find the time for that, considering that back then I actually had teams that went to debates every week?

On top of this, the daughter thinks my schedule, which I adapted for the DisAd, simply reeks of Geocities. I thought I was as clever as a monkey when I grabbed the CSS for the whole site and ported everything over last time, except for the schedule, which has a certain Mayan calendar classic appeal that I’m not sure I want to mess with. The HHHS schedule, for many people in the region other than the HHHS team—which fears death by knowledge if they were ever actually to consult it to find out what’s happening—is the event bible and also a source of innocent amusement. I even just buried an Easter egg for— Na’ah. We’ll let him find it for himself.

Nevertheless, when I put together the NYSDCA site using Squarespace, I have to admit I was rather charmed by the simplicity of the interface and the simple elegance of the resulting pages. My own web host has a set of tools similar to those, and I’ve looked at it briefly recently and thought, why not? It’s a job of work porting everything over, but then again, the present organization isn’t all that spectacular. There’s nothing on the face of the earth that can’t be improved every now and again.

As for the writing thing, I do have some new material I want to push out, and it’s mostly been laziness on my part that’s kept it off the boards. And I have a whole waft of stuff I want to write mostly worked out, and it would be nice to have a forum for it. I mean, when you add all this stuff of, it’s not inconsequential. Why not make the most of it?

I will wait until the season officially ends for the Hudonauts, though, probably about a month from now. No point in taking the site down for upgrade when there’s even the slightest chance that one of my oblivious tars might wake up some morning and feel the need to read the Hillary Duff. It could happen, you know?

All right. It can’t happen. But I can dream, can’t I?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Oh no, not you again!

Things seem so quiet all of a sudden.

Upcoming this week is Scarsdale, and it turns out I’ll be bereft of Sailors because an ex-Tar who moved to Utah is coming back for a special return engagement. Or something like that. All I know is that people signed up, and then they unsigned up, or signed down, or whatever, and all of a sudden it was me on my lonesome. Not that it matters. I’ll have fun with the usual suspects in tab, it’s not a particularly long trip, and there’s the special bonus of watching JV attempt to be nice to people all weekend. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

Tonight we’ll discuss Obamacare, which is the March PF topic, pulled no doubt from the barrel labeled, “We’ve Run Out of Ideas So Let’s Do That One Again.” I mean, I have nothing against it as a topic, but it is getting a little old. I mean, we didn’t vote for the guy who promised to repeal it, and SCOTUS has spoken (although I did some reading today and Roberts was nothing if not clever about it), so what’s the point? It’s been in the press so much that they had to add another rider to the law to provide health care for those who were sick and tired of hearing about health care. Not to mention its use in debate rounds. I feel as if I spend my entire life writing Obamacare arguments pro and con on the board and turning to my right winger and asking her what the other side thinks. Been there, done that, in other words. Oh, well. Going there, doing that again, I guess.

This will be the last topic of the year, unless some miracle occurs and my sophomores qualify for CatNats. Not that it can’t happen, but their record suggests that it is on the wrong side of unlikely. PF has been strengthening in these parts lately, with some new programs plus more dedication from old programs. You could almost walk into qualifying in the olden days. Not so anymore. The region has gotten tough. And that’s a good thing.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Towards solutions to problems

I forget the context of this, but I do remember discussing it most favorably on TVFT. It was the idea of having an ombudsman at tournaments, especially the big tournaments. (The concept would be more problematic at smallish events.) This season is not the first where there have been imbroglios, but it has been setting records for unusual and complicated situations. As I’ve said, the tab room is not responsible for solving problems in a tournament; that is the tournament director’s role. As a matter of fact, the problem could indeed be the tab room, but how many people are going to complain to me about me? Not to mention that most sane individuals realize that tab rooms, because they’re usually knee deep doing the job they are supposed to do, are usually way too busy to address any issue other than which judge has even the remotest mutuality between these two notoriously idiosyncratic rankers. It’s not a good idea to attempt to break into the chaos of putting out the next round with concerns other than putting out the next round. Of course, tournament directors may be hard to find when a problem arises (at my tournament, I can be at either of two buildings, or on the road to pick someone or something up, for example), or may tend to support whatever decision was made if for no other reason than that it was a made decision. An ombudsman, on the other hand, someone who does not represent the host school and who is not tabbing the tournament, might be a better person to whom to address concerns that may arise. That ombudsman would be empowered to solve those concerns to the best of her abilities.

What might these concerns be? Well, a hearty perennial is bad judge behavior. This may seem low on the scale of serious issues, but given that a tournament’s stated goal is to conduct competitive rounds, bad judging—or more to the point intemperate/prejudiced/ill-behaved judging—is hard to justify, and accusations of it are not infrequent. At big tournaments, there are plenty of people who, frankly, no one knows from Adam, so it’s not as if, say, Scarsdale has a judge who does something questionable and I can go to JV and tell him and he can go and hit the judge over the head with a frying pan. The situation can be much more touchy. There is the issue of if, in fact, the judge has committed any fault. I don’t know of any tournament that wants bad judges or bad judge behavior, but by the same token, tournaments have no mechanism to detect or solve those issues.

I have heard people go to a tournament director with a valid albeit difficult complaint, and I have seen the tournament director put them on hold and then disappear without solving it. A harm left unaddressed can fester and blossom—and will do so, way beyond the measure of the original situation.

I have had people come to me with examples of debater behavior bordering on, if not crossing into, actionable assault. I have done my best to address this, but at the expense of putting rounds on hold while so doing. In other words, I’ve been tabbing and I’ve been sympathetic and done my best, but realistically, I was probably not the person to come to in the first place.

I have heard two sides to the same story of who was where and who wasn’t, and when they were and when they weren’t there, and what happened or what didn’t happen.

I have heard accusations of students threatening violence with weapons, too late to do anything about it.

I have heard accusations of students threatening to disseminate (probably untrue) personal information to cause direct harm to the character of others. In the case I'm referring to (many, many years ago), we were able to take appropriate action, but I'm sure there are similar situations today with no action being taken.

I have heard of incidents of racism and sexism.

I have personally been told to take the proverbial long walk off a short pier when I was disagreed with, and there was no one to mitigate.

I have occasionally been vilified for taking actions I have not taken, and seen others in that same situation. The rumor mill works more hours than the truth. I do not work in any closed tab rooms (except for CFL, by rule). While I don’t particularly want everyone in the building looking over my shoulder every time I press a button, I am perfectly willing to have anyone who wants to watch the sausage-making come in and do so.

So can an ombudsman solve all of these issues? I doubt it. As far as rumors trumping the truth are concerned, it will ever be thus. (See Liberty Valence: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”) But at least the truth will have had its opportunity. If there are two distinct sides to an argument, and it is an issue that needs to be determined, whoever doesn’t get the ombudsman’s favor probably won’t be all that happy. But they might be happier than not getting their way without an ombudsman. As for the issues of danger or threat or potential legality, an ombudsman might in fact help solve. Attention can be brought to issues in the proper forum, and perhaps actions can be taken. Otherwise people will remain fearful or unhappy and maybe just give up.

As I say, the ombudsman must be independent of the particular tournament. I would also suggest female, as the issues that are of gender bias will get a better hearing (and a more likely request for a hearing in the first place). The person should not spend the tournament in the tab room, but should be readily locatable. It should be an adult with as much experience in debate as possible to assure the most detachment from the specific issues and the most knowledge of how tournaments work. The ombudsman’s name should be posted on the tournament website as soon as it is known, because I’ve even had issues arise about registrations before anyone has even shown up.

I can’t make any tournament I don’t run do this. Which means that, if I’m only tabbing an event, I can suggest it, but that’s about it. Tournament directors can do it on their own, or debaters can urge them to do so, or their teams can urge them.

We do not live in a perfect world, but frankly, the debate world is one of the better worlds I’ve seen. Most people who inhabit it do so with the best intentions, supporting debate’s underlying suppositions of free speech and activism and equality and freedom. But there are jokers in the pack, both young and old. Maybe this can minimize the effect of the jokers, or better still, turn them around or, if must needs be, eliminate them.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

I also learned that the Jersey Devils are a hockey team. They are a hockey team, right?

As always, Newark was an experience.

It started with the round robin. I set it up for them my usual way. I have a matrix that shows who debates whom when, and on what side. I entered all that into TRPC, and then just entered the judges one round at a time. Given that Newark judges are often, shall we say, evanescent, I have found that it is best to count their noses when they’re actually in the room. Unfortunately, when it came time to do those assignments, the way I did it, in the manual window, occasionally switched sides for the debaters. So by round 4, a couple of people had the sneaking suspicion that there was only one side to the argument, being that they had never gotten a chance to debate on the other side of it. Dunay, who saw this as proof that the world was about to end, pointed it out and it was easy to fix since there were still three rounds left and, obviously, there was a balance of those who were imbalanced. What was harder to figure out for me was why it had happened, since I was so careful in the setup to begin with. Well, I finally figured it out and it all ended fine. I have to admit that even I was beginning to suspect that the world was about to end, having tabbed plenty of RRs in the past exactly the same way without this problem. Live and learn, as they say. This is especially true in debate.

Alston had maybe about a million judges for the weekend, and he kept cracking the whip telling me to use these people he had paid a fortune to import. I was eventually moving them all over the place: a few discovered for the first time that there was such a thing as PF; I’m not quite sure what they made of it. We had another TRPC issue, where Bronx’s NPF judges who were reckoned by the dozens simply didn’t import from the text file generated by tabroom. I sent it all to CP, but when I looked at the import file, there they were, looking very Bronxish. A couple even had bowties. Go figure. Or more to the point, maybe CP can figure. As far as I could tell, it wasn't a tabroom issue. It took a couple of go-rounds before O’C realized that his judges were starting to annoy him into the ground because they weren’t judging, and that something might be amiss. Easy enough to fix, but this one’s a poser, I say.

It was one of those tournaments where you never seem to stop, because I was running 4 divisions. Finish one and there’s the next one. I kept porting everything over to tabroom, and that worked well until elims, where I just got worn out trying to keep up with it. I recruited O’C to assist; Randy M was set up to help, but he had his hands full just managing all the rounds. This was a pretty big event, and he had about a thousand Newark kids to oversee, including those who were judging novice LD for extra credit, which is always a feature of the tournament. I like that, myself. Instead of debating mostly in front of varsity debaters, who are my least favorite pool because they all think you should be like them and think like them and perceive of both the resolution and debate in general like them, you get adjudicators who simply will listen to how well you address the resolution. If you can’t pick up any of those rounds, you might want to think twice about improving your debate skills.

As always, there were a couple of issues. One of them, that the team was really good and shouldn’t have lost, therefore the judge was wrong and we should double-bye it, was arguably the most fatuous. Still, it’s not my issue, or more to the point, not tab’s issue. This is important for people to understand, although few do. Tab’s job at a tournament is to schedule rounds and enter results. Good tabbing mandates that the scheduling and entering is neutral. We never look at who’s hitting whom or who’s judging whom unless we happen to glance at a printed schematic. The system needs to be a hundred percent blind to the individuals. Similarly, we don’t evaluate the ballots and the judges: they’re not my judges. I have nothing to do with them. One of the reasons I like MJP or even community rankings is that I don’t even want to make a general evaluation that any particular one is an A or B or C. Who am I to make that judgment? I don’t like complete and total randomness, though, and I will rank a few people who I know are experienced as the stronger judges in the pool simply to prevent bubble rounds from being adjudicated by (according to my lights) demonstrable bubbleheads. Anyhow, almost every issue that comes to the tabroom is, in fact, not a tabroom issue but rather a tournament management issue. Complaining about a judge? Complain to the tournament director. Want to go home? Ask the tournament director, because the TD is the one who expected you to meet your entire obligation. Tab is a little gray army of mindless functionaries, if they’re doing a good job. Ubiquity (like mine) is not a sign of being in charge. It’s just a sign that I am relatively sought after as a mindless functionary. The only tournament where I make what might be called substantive decisions is the one where I am the tournament director, Bump. As for the colleges, I help one or two with more than just tab, but I let them make the important decisions. It’s their name on the door, not mine. When issues arise, those of us in tab are happy to advise, but frankly, there are times when we don’t agree. You want to run a tournament, then run it. We’ll all help, but in the end, it’s your baby. You’ve got to make the hard calls.

In the end, I think Newark went quite well. We pushed out the rounds bada boom bada boom bada boom, and I don’t think we screwed anything up to badly. I made sure that Jonathan and Randy understood that in my estimation, and this is one thing I’m pretty good at judging, the Newark team did an excellent job of their number one priority, making the rounds happen (which is all I ever really care about in tab). Good, dedicated people. But then again, you know that I’ve always loved Newark. It’s got some nuttiness (what tournament doesn’t?), but it’s a good nuttiness. There’s also a microwave in the tabroom, which is worth ten points extra credit every time. (I have to admit, though, that Randy was pretty parsimonious doling out the printer paper. What did he think I was doing with it? Surreptitiously shipping it off to the NYCUDL when he wasn’t looking?)