Friday, August 30, 2013

Another magazine... [Link added correctly]

Another attempt to collect all the good stuff I see and pass it around, in other words.

I call it The Other Stuff. The inaugural issue has an interview with Carl Barks, Raymond Chandler v. Alfred Hitchcock, "Hey Jude" live, a supercut of "Your Song," an analysis of majoring in English, a great set of idiotic Batman/Superman comics from the Golden Age, and so much more.... Watching Barks giggle about the Beagle Boys is probably worth the price of admission (if there were an admission price).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Time to sing "The September Song" (the Lou Reed rendition)

CP has reported back on Theory of Justice: the Musical! Fans of Rawls and/or musical theater should check it out.

Otherwise, the last I heard from him he was stranded on a sidetrack in Doncaster (which is not far from Wath upon Dearne, if you need help placing it). Ah, travel… We’re going to get together at the Vassaregiate RR (his coinage) to go over the new system after Catholic Charlie’s meeting. In person is the best way to handle things.

Meanwhile the whole playing out of the Syria business is PF 101 for Sept-Oct. Simply change the word “chemical” to “nuclear” and absent attacking one’s own citizens, you’ve pretty much got it. The thing is, the debate mind’s grand thinking of links of major impact seems to melt away in reality of the UK getting antsy, the US going all MYOB, Putin looking resigned, etc. I like cases where it goes action X leads to Y leads to Z leads to: IMPACT (you know, like nuclear annihilation, always popular among the high school cognoscenti), not cases where it goes, Thinking about maybe taking action X leads to thinking about maybe taking action Y leads to not thinking about action after all, etc. Or maybe that summarizes the cases the Pfffters should present, the reality of the bumpy road to doing nothing: we shouldn’t do it because of inertia. Obama needs congressional approval before acting, for instance, from a congress that couldn’t get its act together to issue a hall pass much less an agreement to launch a military attack on a state that is not attacking us, or even threatening to attack us (unless we attack them—yeah, right)? Ah, politics.

The upcoming Labor Day weekend is the beginning of the end of the non-debate season. As I said, there’s the NYCFL and Vassaregiate RR, then a weekend off, then Yale, then a weekend off, then Thanksgiving. On your mark, get set…

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

And the calendar just keeps on coming

Monticello registration went live today. I sent out a message to the MHL folk, who are pretty much the audience for the event, urging them to show up and underlining that it was Academy. Then I signed up myself, one LDer and one Pfffft team. As I’ve been saying, the season is kicking in.

The Pfffters came over to the chez last night, and we talked about Sept-Oct. We all pretty much agree that the whole unilateral aspect really bites the tail of this one, and that if it wasn’t for that, it would be fine. You can watch the international debate over Syria unfold if you want to see how to place your links on either side for proliferation prevention. US/UK does this, UN does that, Russia and China do this, yadda yadda yadda. Add your own impacts, and there you are. Of course, it’s the impacts that matter. The impact of unilateral action? Oh…

The Vassar tournament also opened registration today. The Vassar Classic, they’re calling it. Web 11’s relevant definition is “a traditional event.” It’s never happened before, and nonetheless, it’s traditional. Makes you want to look up “O’C” in the dictionary too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in for supporting the event, but as I think I explained here last year (before it was Sandy-ed), it has to find its meaning on the calendar. That’s one of the things we’re doing with Monti, defining it as Academy to cement its appeal as a tournament for younger students who aren’t likely to thrive at Bronxilla, with the bonus of educational modules. Some of us will show up at any tournament, simply because it otherwise wouldn’t be a weekend. But most teams aren't so crazy. O’C and the People’s Champion, etc., have their work cut out for them establishing a new one. I hope they can do it, of course. I mean, they’ve got me tabbing. How bad can it be?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More rumblings of the new season

So CP goes to Edinburgh, and suddenly he thinks he invented it or something, when in fact, everyone else was there first. This is what happens when you let the whippersnappers off the farm too soon. It’s not going to be easy getting him back into harness again when he returns. If he returns. (He claimed that he discovered the musical of Theory of Justice, which loyal members of the VCA know I was posting about back when CP was still in short pants. I’ve got to get these people off my lawn!)

Another sign of the new season: The NYCFL moderators’ meeting is set. I wonder if Catholic Charlie looked at my schedule first to find out when it was. And so yet another whippersnapper is discovered taking up space on my lawn.

The Pups did send out the first Get Your Judges Organized message, which will at least start people thinking about things. The problem is that around here school starts on September 9, which this year is roughly around Christmas Eve. If people don’t start getting their acts together now, it’s going to be way late before they know it. I think there’s a tendency on the part of a lot of people to assume that college tournaments have unlimited judges available, which as far as I can tell is never the case. O’C is the only one with an infinite bag o’ judges to pull from for HumongoBrongo (and even then, no two teams seem to be able to pref any of them identically). Oy.

I’ve begun putting Bump together. I found the leftover trophies from last year, and the old trophy order, for a start. And I’ve pulled out my notes from 2012, which I would have otherwise forgotten. There will be some serious changes, and a complete lack of tolerance for missed judging rounds. Schools that annoyed me throughout last season with their endless shenanigans will not be allowed in until every slot is taken by the good debate citizens, if then. And I will not be allowing any hurricanes to disrupt the season, as happened last year, so I won’t lose all of New Jersey in the bargain. One big issue is getting back a bunch of rooms we lost in the grammar school, but even so, I’m pretty sure that I’ll pass on Novice PF. I hate to do it, and let’s face it, PF is more profitable than LD, but I can fill up that entire building with LDers, or I can cut things too tight in both divisions. I prefer the former.

Dark Side of the Moon meets Tom Stoppard - Act Fast!

Hear it here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

When you're a Utilitarian, you're a Utilitarian all the way, from your first pleasure calculus till your last dying day of the common good

CP is texting me his opinions of A Theory of Justice: The Musical from Edinburgh. As a rule he is no musical fan, but I guess Dancing Kants can turn anyone into a Broadway baby. Or maybe not. I’m looking forward to being locked up with him for three days at El Bronxo Grande with my iPod set to stun. Let’s see. Where to start? Annie Part 2? If that doesn’t send him screaming down Jerome Avenue, nothing will.

Meanwhile, I think I need to start from scratch on another tournament in his tabroom tabbing software. I have a sense of what’s what now, so I’m curious to put it together. As he rightly states, I need to get out of the TRPC mental mode, insofar as this doesn’t replicate that, but it’s a different way of achieving the same ends. That’s always a problem with new software replacing old software, that you want it to do the same things the same way, but if that were the case, then there wouldn’t be any benefits to the new software. I’ll keep plugging away at it.

If any more evidence for the season getting started was needed, I got the notice today about the New York Forensic League finals, up in some town I’ve never heard of this coming April. That’s the one we send our Speecho-Americans to, that they work toward qualifying for all season. Maybe they’ll send me a postcard. In any case, I need to pay our dues. I’ll do that real soon now. I’ve also got to pay the NDCA. And pare down our hotel rooms at Yale, now that our numbers are set. Ah, yes. Back into the swing of things.

I asked the Pups to send out a blast to get people off the schneid on entering their judges. Granted the thing is a month away, and there’s still a lot of hemming and hawing, but if not now, when? I can’t really sell out any hireds yet, because we don’t know where we stand overall. (Plus we need more hireds; if you’re interested, get in touch.) And then there’s the whole juggling of V and JV. I can see already that there are souls in each that ought to be in the other, but I don’t want to do that yet until I see how we add up. It does have to be done by pref time, though, of course. We’ve got a few weeks, then.

Monticello should open later this week. When it does, I’ll do a blast pushing it and Academy. Fingers crossed. I’ve already made my motel reservation at what we like to think of as the good hotel in town, i.e., the Best Western. Yee-ha!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Writin' Friday (including reviews of 2 books)

First of all, Debate Etc is updated with a really interesting analysis of Jared Diamond, sexism in comics, the end of Malthus, and others. I still think that dipping into this every week or two is a good idea. I’m pretty careful about what I post (although, a disclaimer: I don’t necessarily agree with all of it).

Secondly, of course, if you haven’t bought The House on Summer Street, have you at least listened to the free audio sample?

And finally, this week’s recommendations.

Members of the VCA might remember my brief encounter a while ago with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I read this for a variety of reasons, chief among them being a search for a good book to recommend to students just generally interested in the subject of feminism. I figured it was recent, and certainly written for the general public, so it might be an easy one to wrap the adolescent mind around. Sandberg’s underlying thesis (although I don’t recall how specifically she pinned it as such) is the willingness of people to accept societal roles, even as victims, and how by doing so they perpetuate those roles. That is (and I learned this elsewhere), one of the problems feminism faces is women who willingly (?!) subscribe to the ills of an anti-feminist culture. Sandberg offers advice to break out of that role. The problem is that she is as much a role model for young feminist women as Mozart is a role model for young pianists: that is, she’s too special to really represent (and perhaps even understand) the norm. To call Sandberg unique puts it mildly. She’s too talented and smart by half, which means that ultimately there’s a remoteness to her advice, unless you too are at the top of your class at the top university, and the best at your work at the toughest jobs in the country, you’re probably not there with her. I’ve seen some reviewers knock her because she had enough money for good childcare, hence she was able to succeed. It’s not about that. She’s the smartest person in the room in every room she’s even been in. Because of that, it’s hard to relate to her experiences and advice. And, well, she’s no theorist or philosopher. So while I would absolutely recommend the book to any young woman setting out into the career world, I would only recommend it as a career-guiding book because its practical advice is well worth heeding, and not a book to help one understand feminism.

When I was opining about this originally, CLG recommended that I look at the new translation of The Second Sex, which I did. And I was blown away. This is the book people interested in feminism need to read and understand. It explains the philosophy and sociology of women and culture in terms that make sense to our analytical minds, and on top of that, even though it’s canonical and originally written in 1949, it is almost completely applicable and understandable today. The world has changed a lot, but let’s face it, a lot of that change has been cosmetic, and if the change had been truly deep, there would have been no need for a book like Sandberg’s over 60 years later. De Beauvoir covers soooo much material, starting with the unique otherness of woman in the philosophical sense (compared, if you will, to the other perceived Others) and going on from there. And it's easily readable; I gather the previous translation was a slog. I would suggest that some of the literary analyses can be skimmed (unless they’re actually of intrinsic interest to you), but the rest of it is core material. Instrumental though it may have been in launching the modern feminist movement, it is not only of dry historical interest. Anyone truly interested in women’s rights needs to start here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A late start

There are people around the country who have already gone back to school. Our first day of classes is September 9. Have I ever mentioned that the northeast marches to a different drummer?

The good news is that, even with the late start, which of course means a comparable late start for debate, I don’t think it will affect the newbies much. They’ll have well over a month before the first-timers’ event, and a few weeks before the workshop, so there’s no reason for them not to be on track in a reasonable fashion. This isn’t true every year. October and November this year have about 30 weekends between them, and everything fits beautifully (unlike January, where nothing fits). It all works out one way or the other, but I do like novices to have a suitable enough amount of time before they embark on the Sea of Forensicality. If the first year is a combination of learning the basics and getting confidence, the more time you have to build these both up before you actually step in front of a judge, the better off you are, assuming that your opponent is in the same boat.

The same boat? Every year I have to explain, yet again, how a novice is someone in their first year of debate. Web 11 says “beginner”—or a nun newly entered into the convent, but forensics isn’t a convent and none of my novices are ever nuns, so why is the question asked every year, multiple times, without fail? The same thing will happen when we run the First-Timers’ event. We will be asked how we define first time, and as always, I will say, well, the meaning is very hidden, and what it really means is that they’re debating for the first time. Well, bust my britches, will be the reply to that one. Who knew?

This is why I did not pursue a career dealing with the public.

If you’re wondering about the new tabbing software, CP is now on vacation, jaunting about in various places where they natively speak a sort of English but you can’t understand a word they’re saying, plus London, which is like New York in that you never hear a word of English spoken except in restaurants, and then only heavily accented. (I know there are such things as English restaurants in England, where the Queen's English is spoken, but having eaten in one once a few decades ago, I learned early on to avoid them.) In other words, CP is in no position to sit around programming his little fingers off. What I want to explore next is some practice PF and, most important of all, LD with MJP. I could create some test data myself, but it would take a lot of time of mindless data entry, whereas CP can just clone existing data or have the program generate test data (which is what I’ve been working on so far). So, there won’t be much news on that front for a while. There’s no way I’m using it at the Pups, in any case, if you’re wondering. I might have mentioned that I’m thinking of a test with Kaz at Monticello. It’s not so much seeing if it works as being comfortable with how it works. One does not want the teeming millions breathing down the neck while one struggles with unfamiliar software, even if the software is perfectly good. We’ll get there, eventually. But not just yet, St. Augustine.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Way of the Sailor

Typical statement from a Sailor: “You have a blog?” I told them that I write about them all the time, and eyes widened, but then I admitted that I didn’t invade their privacy and wasn’t nasty about them (or any more nasty than I am to anyone else), and they seemed to lose interest. Why do I do this again? I couldn’t even get insatiable reader Meh interested in reading Summer Street once I told her she’d have to cough up three whole bucks.

It’s going to be a long year.

Anyhow, we met last night, and talked about The Eternal Mug’s Game (i.e., recruiting), Model UN (yeah, right, considering how many people we get to debate, including the team members), and, eventually, the topics. Started with LD, and talked a lot about how activist blocs in the US direct the political dialogue, and how different it would be if the only people who voted weren’t the nutjobs on either side of an issue. For that matter, look at the 2012 presidential election, which was only really run in a handful of states that were in play. Of course, I still think referenda are a better cynosure for getting a sense of what the rez means, even if it’s not necessarily relevant to actual cases. It helps you get your mind around it when you focus on issue-related voting rather than election of officials.

As for PF, we talked the Con.
  • Assume a subconscious judge distaste for preemptive warfare and unilateral action.
  • Start with the object of the proposed action—prevent nuclear proliferation—the disadvantages of which are so severe as to warrant action in the first place.
  • Cover the list of just war imperatives, but focus on the two important ones, competent authority and last resort, as the others are relatively easy to accept.
  • Don’t propose attacking Iran; just use the Iranian situation as one that could possibly evolve into one warranting the action.
Of course, that was all what I said, and I don’t even know I would do it if I were to start writing a case, but it sounds reasonable to me. Next week we’ll look at the Pro, and presumably I’ll come up with something similarly pleasing to me and no one else there, and they’ll go on to do whatever they were already planning on doing, but that is, of course, the Way of the Sailor.

The Way of the Sailor...

Meanwhile, more than just thinking about rezzes and catching up with the Hendronauts, the new season means starting to pay attention to as people put up more tournaments, as well as monitoring the tournaments I’m attending and/or running. Until I started working on beating up the software (which, btw, Kaz and JV are happy to relegate to me), I hadn’t thought about it at all. Gotta get back into the old habits, in other words.

From one of my favorite albums ever

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nuke em!!!

We begin meeting tonight to discuss Sept-Oct. If that doesn’t mean the new season is here, I don’t know what does.

The LD topic is perfectly fine. As I think a little more about it, my initial reaction, that it’s perfect for Sept-Oct, is not changed. The thing is, it forces you to talk about democracy. What are our roles as citizens? If we don’t vote, are we not fulfilling our roles? Are we obligated to act as citizens, or is it perfectly acceptable simply to react? That the rez doesn’t specifically say voting for individuals may bring up some thoughts on referenda, as in California, which is a totally different business than voting for an individual. Meat on these bones? Absolutely. And best of all, no one really goes into the round with a predisposition to favor either side. It’s wide open. I like that a lot.

The PF topic, unfortunately, falls into the area that it seems most of the PF rezzes fall into, where there is a strong enough predisposition to believe one of the sides that anyone on the other side has no choice but to, first, box the intuitive supposition to take it out of play, and then fire up from there, a time consuming and annoying business. The thing is, you’re not going to find a lot of support for unilateral presumptive attacks in the general body of literature on war and politics. That sort of thing is just not done by the good guys (unless, maybe, you’re Dick Cheney, but then again, we’re talking the good guys). The average PF judge, even if unconsciously, carries the mental baggage of Iraq, not to mention that the idea of the rez just sounds wrong, while the average philosopher carries the conscious knowledge of just war: right authority, right intention, reasonable hope, proportionality and last resort. I guess that pro has to first navigate this obstacle course of theory before actually making a case of reality. Then again, what I think works against the con is that, while we may all accept these on face, there’s no absolute underlying warrant for them. That is, if we perceive enough danger in Iran’s nuclear aspirations, screw everything else and stop them—that would take the day for the pro. Con can’t just rely on theory, in other words (and I’m using theory in the traditional sense of the word, not in the snarky debate sense), and has to demonstrate why doing it would be a bad idea for practical reasons. (All right. Util, if you must.) A resolution that said something like, US should act to eliminate Iran’s nuclear program (the underlying core of the rez, right?) removes all the jus ad bellum stuff and leaves us with should we or shouldn’t we, and pick your approach. Maybe debaters will just do that anyhow. I don’t know. In any case, it’s not horrible by any means, but it’s flawed as written. But I guess the PF universe is used to that by now.

Having just watched Zero Dark Thirty and done a bunch of reading on it (there’s a good article I clipped for Debate Etc), I think the debate on torture is analogous. The thing is, nobody’s admittedly in favor of torture, but if it does yield results… We live in the real world, not a philosophical construct of the real world. We can use philosophical constructs to guide what we do, but in political actions, we mostly look to results. That’s why policy debate exists in the first place (or at least it used to), to evaluate what happens if, not if what happens is objectively right or wrong. LD exists (or, again, at least it used to), to evaluate the right and wrong aspects. PF seems to tend more toward policy than LD in this, if one simply goes by the resolutions.

Regardless of my complaints, I think arguing the PF topic will be fine. It’s not tragically flawed, just a little loosey goosey. It certainly beat the alternative on bean-counting weapons systems, which was nothing but “The Most Facts Wins.” Fortunately, the NFL citizenry seemed to recognize it as such.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tales of Great Golf/Debate Adventure

Even as the day dawned, most of the northeast was already at a fever pitch. It was the day of the ErsatzDeAd, the epic contest that would mark the one year countdown to DisAd14, while also acting as a sop in lieu of the much missed DisAd13. How could such a day be celebrated? What could conceivably bear the weight of all that history and expectation and the unspoken longings of an entire generation plus a couple of other generations, with people coming from far and wide except for the ones who didn’t come or really only had to roll out of bed to get there?

Miniature golf, of course.

It was beautiful weather Saturday. The golf course is right next to Stuyvesant, and I walked down from GCT, savoring it all. Of course, the next time I walk the High Line I’m bringing a whip: even strolling I can’t move as slowly as some of these people. And as much as I like the idea of the HL, it is becoming such a tourist attraction that it’s almost better to avoid it. After getting off and doing the remaining distance on the walk by the Hudson, I was much happier.

Kaz was already there when I arrived, and JV was there a minute later, as was Kate. The daughter and I were the only ones appropriately attired in Disney regalia. What is wrong with these people? And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to see JV in a Mickey ears hat? Whatever. As time passed, soon a text arrived from O’C saying that he was running a little late. Shockingly enough, when this was announced to the crowd, none of us were surprised. O’C running a little late? And he practically lives on the fourteenth hole? C’est la vie.

He arrived eventually. I must say, he at least got into the spirit of the thing, with his tam o’shanter and plus fours. I think arriving in Liberace’s limousine was a bit much, and no one else needed a caddy, but, well, style is as style does, and one just goes with the flow.

The course was pretty decent. Not a lot of windmills or dancing hippos or other elaborate obstacles, but there were holes you had to get the ball into, and that was good enough. We began with a reorientation session, trying to explain to O’C how to hold the club so that he had at least a marginal chance of looking like he knew what he was doing. This turned out to be a game of diminishing returns. He would do what you told him to do, sort of, and then his concentration would drift off… He doesn’t have the cold, steely determination of a professional golfer, in other words. The fact that he spent the entire game on his iPhone texting, tweeting, snapchatting, vining, instagramming, emailing, checking in and buffing his toenails, I would offer that he is unlikely to evidence any steely determination, period, except where it comes to social networking (and keeping his nails buffed). The fact that while we were playing miniature golf, freebooters might be descending on Japonica to oust him from the mayoralty must have also played heavily on his mind.

The game itself was the paradigm of excitement. I got off to a slow start myself, still in the midst of my golf sabbatical as I am, and after nine holes, JV and Kate were tied for first, with me two strokes back, and Kaz a couple of strokes back from that. O’C’s score by this time was mostly asterisks, and it went down from there. On the back nine, while the two leaders fought it out, I made my move, as the sports journalists like to say, with two holes-in-one, but the water hole stole my thunder, and in the end, I managed only a second place finish. JV was the big winner, by one stroke. At this point he announced that he had done his best not to be too competitive, although his going off and doing a two-hour victory dance sort of undermined his alleged complacency. As for me, I shrugged off my defeat, knowing that I am now 1 and 2 in two outings, and that a rematch in Orlando at the DisAd14 will be my chance to set things aright.

After the excitement died down, we went off into the city to celebrate, or drown our sorrows, depending on who you were and how you did. There were occasional discussions of items forensical, but not so’s you’d notice. In a nutshell, a splendid time was had by all. Things bode well for DisAd14!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Writin' Friday

Oh, it’s that day of the week again.

Debate Etc. is updated and freshly skinned. Articles on Feminist Perspectives on Rape, J.S. Mill on having some people’s votes count more than others, torture vis-à-vis Zero Dark Thirty, Pinker’s controversial article on Scientism, and, as we like to say, so much more.

When you’re done with that, you should read The House on Summer Street. I mean, it’s a nice weekend, and what else are you going to read on the beach? You don’t need a Kindle to read it, of course. The Kindle software runs on iPads, PCs, toasters, washing machines and electric toothbrushes, and, again, so much more. The book is cheap. What’s stopping you?

Meanwhile, my handlers have told me that I can obliquely refer to a new project that I have begun, that is in fact something of an old project. At the rate I’m going, it should be finished by Christmas, which will mean for many people another holiday ruined, but I can’t be responsible for everything bad in your life.

Non-Menick recommendation of the week: Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton. Epic space opera, if that's your cup of tea.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Let the games begin. Again.

The new season is upon us.

First, let us go back to June of 2012, where a handsome young gruesome old coach wrote of the possible selections:

Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory.

Voting is compulsory in Australia, for example, and much of South America. The rez broaches the basic areas of civic responsibility, social contract, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Plus, it’s only 8 words. In other words, absolutely perfect, especially for Sept-Oct or NatNats.

Rating: 10 (5 for Jan-Feb).

I am, in other words, a happy camper. I especially like this for working with my sophomore LDer, as I think it’s the perfect way to get back into the groove for the season, anchored in such basic LD material.

Second, get this:

In addition, at its spring meeting, the Board of Directors voted unaminously to designate a resolution for NOVICE Lincoln-Douglas Debate to be used in the first two months of a novice season—Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.
The Board considered this approach after studying the positive benefits from states that have already adopted this practice. Establishing a resolution for the first two months of the novice season enables the League to create educational materials that can be updated and improved year-to-year, and allow educators to have a consistent topic geared toward novices that will enhance and streamline their novice LD curriculum, particularly after the first year of implementation.

[Insert your favorite internet meme here to assess my reaction to this. By the way, our educational materials already exist and are free to all. Just sayin'.]

Third, there’s PF:

Resolved: Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation.

Well, it’s certainly better than the alternative, which was nothing but your dubious pile of facts versus my pile of dubious facts. On the down side, though, there is an awfully large predisposition to assume that the con is inherently correct, since international law, the philosophy of war, and whatever it is that we call personal morality all start with that presumption. But as I’ve already told my Sailors, everybody saying something is wrong only means that everyone says that it is wrong. It’s a livable resolution, and not so much of a gimme on a given side as, say, going to college is better than not going to college. I would have preferred that we allow considered non-unilateral force, at least. Oh, well. It’s only a month and a half before the next rez is released.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Continued playing with the tabroom software is leading to, first, a better understanding how it works, and second, confidence that it, indeed, does work. It now seems to pair admirably, it does breaks fine, plus, since it’s part of already, the postings are built in. There’s still plenty of issues to resolve, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we go live at Monticello.

I noticed all sorts of activity yesterday in the Sailors’ Dropbox PF folder. Apparently they’re assuming that the NFL membership will pick the good choice for Sept-Oct, and are acting accordingly. While this may be precipitous on their part, I have to agree that the bad choice is pretty boring. (If you’re not sure which is which, please think of joining up with the Chess Club and leave the heavy lifting to the grownups.) Anyhow, we’ll find out tomorrow.

The Pups connected me to their hired judge list. Don’t you want to be hired by them? Warm bodies wanted!

365 days to #DisAd14. My oh my. Meanwhile, I’ve still got a couple of extra vacation days to take this year. I’ve already booked all my debate days, so I need to find something else to occupy my time. Maybe I’ll write some tabbing software, give CP a run for his money.

Meanwhile, do you have any idea how much time has passed without an update message from O'C about the Notorious B.I.G. Bronx? How long can this paradise last?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Not quite leaving on a jet plane yet

Zeroing in on the DisAd14. I’ve tinkered a bit with the countdown, so it now points to 11:00 a.m. of the arrival date. Just about exactly a year from now. As I write this, there’s 366 plus days: just around the corner, in other words. I’ve gotten a couple of attendees on the official app that controls your dining and FP+ reservations and whatnot. I’ll put off packing for a little while, though.

RJT sent over the raw Kaiser invite, and I Academy-ized it and set it up on Registration will open on 8/28. I’ll be sending out notices then to all and sundry to sign up for this sucker. You want a tournament for your younger kids where they’ll have a chance and they’ll learn something, this is it.

I may or may not run the new software for some of it. I’ve set it up for it, but a lot depends on how polished it is by then, and more to the point, how well I know it if I have to do goofy stuff that’s a little off the books (deep bracket breaking, for instance, in small fields). At smaller tournaments, goofy stuff is rife. Big tournaments pair pretty easily because there’s enough data to go around, so something like Pups or Jake is time consuming because there’s a lot of ballots to enter, but other than that, there’s not much to go haywire, especially nowadays when I’ve gotten quite a few MJP tournaments under my belt. Granted that TRPC doesn’t find a judge for everyone (the flighting throws it off), but it’s pretty close, and my system for doing the rest is fast and efficient. And if there’s enough judges to sink a battleship, like at Jake, you don’t really want for 1-1s, and maybe a couple of 2-2s between the offlanders in the later rounds.

And, of course, there’s the issue of connectivity. needs an internet connection on the backend, and works at its best when there’s internet for everyone. That’s been one of my worries since day one, that internet access isn’t as global as we would like it to be, even in tab rooms. This is a problem that will eventually be solved by the world in general, but until that point…

Anyhow, I continue to test away. They’ve made some changes today, and when I get a chance tonight I’ll dive back in and do some more pairings and hacking around. The only way you learn new software is to use it until you don’t have to think about it anymore. I don’t have to think about TRPC anymore, which is why I don’t mind using it, but it has an awful lot of limitations. Something with a lot of unlimitations would be really nice to replace it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Glimmers of the new season

I’ve spent a lot of time lately beating up the new tabroom software. A lot of it is just learning where the pulleys and levers are located, other parts are finding things I wish worked some other way. The software is still WIP, so some things don’t work as they should, but it’s getting there. I’ve been sending a stream of emails to CP in the process, but now he’s off to Ireland and its various neighbors, first to tab and then to vacate, so there will be a hiatus on the testing for a while. Too bad, because it’s kept me busy as we wait on the brink for the season to kick in. Resolutions are released Thursday. It’s about time.

We’re going to open the MHL/NYSCDA/NYCUDL (Everybody Wants to Get Into the Act) Workshop this week, also on Thursday. Of course, nobody really knows who’s coming or going at this early point, but it does get people into the groove of thinking about it. Plus it will allow me to send an update message on the MHL in general, and the various openings for hosting and the like. January is sooooo weird this coming season, with Newark on what I guess you can call the Christmas Vacation penumbral weekend, and everything going kind of weird from there. The problem is, as I think I mentioned, the Superduper Bowl, which is at the Meadowlands this year, those swamps just over in Jersey a little down from Manhattan. That’s probably going to be one cold football game, it being February and all. Oh, well. I’ll watch it from the comfort of home, as I always do. And I’ll curse the NFL (the football one) for coopting one of our weekends. Then again, we’ll probably throw an MHL into there just this once, so there is some silver lining this particular black cloud.

Not much else going on in the debate world, just a lot of pacing the floor. O’C claims that he’s ordered his Notorious B.I.G. Bronx trophies; I thought O’C was living with the trophy guy, so I was sort of surprised that this was a special occasion. Seeing this reminded me that I’ll shortly have to do likewise for Bump. I usually do it around Labor Day or maybe the week before. Gets it out of the way. And as you can see according to the countdown, we’re at the point where, if all had gone according to plan, we’d be doing DisAd13. Oh, well. I’m already meditating over DisAd14. It’s never too early.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Writing Friday

I usually don't post on Fridays, but I've got some stuff to tout, and who am I to blow against the wind?

This being a beautiful weekend according to the forecasts, shouldn't you be reading The House on Summer Street on the beach? That's what I'd be doing if, 1) I ever went to the beach, and 2) I hadn't written it in the first place.

Also, take a look at Debate Etc. New articles on gay rights, civil republicanism, David Hume and capitalism, to mention just a few. Plus I've left the older articles, if you haven't read them yet. And of course, when the rezzes are announced, there will be relevant articles about them.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Adventures in the First World

So I’m lying awake at 3:30 a.m. thinking about issues with the new tabbing software, among other things, when I hear a woman’s voice coming from somewhere in the house. Given that the only woman in the house that I’m aware of is accounted for to my immediate right, this is mildly disturbing. I hear nothing else. Must be my imagination. After it all, it is 3:30 in the morning and my mind has been spinning thinking about judge preferences. Of course I’m hearing voices.

Some time passes. I hear it again. Definitely a woman’s voice, somewhere in the house. The cat jumps up and heads out to investigate. Then another woman’s voice, on my immediate right, says that my computer must be talking or something, and tells me to go do something about it.

Now let’s face it. Computers don’t start talking all of a sudden. Nor do iPads or iPhones (at least not those without Siri). But I dutifully walk around the house, checking all the various pieces of hardware. No culprit is found.

This is starting to get scary. This is why I don’t have a gun in the house, because by now I’d be loading a cartridge into the chamber and getting ready to put some lead into our home invader. At which point, I’m now in the kitchen, and my Jawbone speaker on the shelf says to me very loudly, “Please recharge your battery.”

If I had been armed, I would have shot it.

I connected it to the charger and went back to bed. The cat was huddled under the dining room table, still trying to figure who else was in the house. I went back to lying awake thinking about judge preferences.

Moral of the story: First, don’t shoot, it’s only me. Second, we are now at the dawn of the age when our appliances feel no compunctions about waking us up in the middle of the night to tell us to feed them. I prefer the good old days, when our appliances were more humane, and waited until waking hours to tell us to feed them.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The best way to keep your phone charged is not to use your phone?

My iPhone was driving me crazy. The battery just wasn’t lasting unless I turned everything off, but what’s the point of a smartphone without location services and GPS? I finally gave up and bought a Mophie case with an external battery; to demonstrate how much I needed it, I couldn’t get the Apple Store app to work correctly so that I could just point at it and walk out with it, because location services were turned off for that app. Jeesh. If that’s the way things are, I might as well go back to a Touch. Anyhow, I charged the Mophie up last night and now I’m putting it through its paces to see how long it takes to drain. It does weigh more than a naked phone, needless to say, but not so much that it’s terribly bothersome. Whether I’ll use it all the time or just occasionally remains to be seen. Either way, I feel better having technology that I can use at its limit, rather than limiting how I use my technology. As I said, if it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do, what’s the point?

[24 hours later]

Used it all day, including a couple of hours of Bluetooth, all preferred location services set on stun, etc., etc. All in all, a typical day. This morning, when I checked, I was finally off the Mophie backup and into the iPhone battery (whieh said 98%). In other words, the Mophie can get me through anything I throw at it, which juice to spare. Excellent. I probably won't use it on a normal working day, because the extra weight is, well, extra weight, but weekends and debate trips? Moph it is!

Meanwhile, JV, Kaz and I are beginning to explore the tabroom tabbing software (which I have to admit sounds redundant). We got off with a misfire Monday, stupidly looking for the application in all the wrong places, but CP, who is too busy planning his trip to London to reclaim the family duchy* to bother with the likes of us, found a minute to set us straight. And so, we're off. I'll report on progress as I see it. If you're wondering why we're doing this at all, given that we have a system that theoretically works already, well, first of all, TRPC is short for this world at the level of Basic being able to run on modern Windows systems. And as we move to MJP pretty much everywhere, CP claims that the new system works much better than what we're doing now, which is at an average tournament of about 100, TRPC finds judges for 75% of them and we have to manually do the rest. As he says, a computer can juggle numbers better than we can, provided the computer is set up right. Add to this the intriguing bells and whistles of online balloting and it's a gimme. So while we are, like all users, fearful of change, we are nonetheless gung-ho about the benefits of the change.

Oh, yeah. I was reading The Second Sex but got interrupted by the new Bertie and Jeeves pastiche. I'll bet that happens to de Beauvoir fans all the time. I'll get back to her as soon as Jeeves gets Bertie out of all that trouble he inevitably gets into. (More importantly, CLG was right: TSS is the book to recommend as a starting point for feminism.)

*CP's family duchy is actually in France, I think, but let's face it. France, England, they're all Europe, right? What difference does it make?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Debate Etc.

As I promised last week, a little something new.

I’ve been seeing articles on the interwebs that I've wanted to pass along since the creation of articles. Most recently, I’ve mostly used the Coachean Feed posts here to get the job done, but that’s just the latest in a long line of attempts, some more successful than others.

Now I’ve got a different venue, but from my point of view, no more complicated than any of the others (and in some way a little easier). Flipbook, which if I’m not mistaken started as an iPad app, now allows you to create your own magazines (or, more specifically, your own flipbook), which you can pass along on the interwebs to anyone, regardless of whether they’re users of the app. And you don’t need an iPad to do it.

In a burst of amazing inspiration, I’ve called it Debate Etc. because it’s articles that have relevancy for the debate community. They’re presented without comment from me, but the format is intrinsically attractive enough to pull you in if you’re interested in the subject. I’ll be adding to it whenever I see something worth adding, but I’ll put out reminders once a week, as if it were a regular magazine. Once the resolutions are released, there will be relevant articles about them as well. Otherwise, the general themes will be basic issues of justice and law, feminism, race, rights—all that good stuff, from various sources.

Give it a try. And if you find nothing of interest this time, come back again in a week. It only takes a second to flip through it, and you might find it rewarding. And, of course, pass it around. The link is

Friday, August 02, 2013

Summer Street

So, a little update on the book.

This is how it is described on Amazon: A lot of things are happening all at once to Benjamin North. He’s starting middle school in a few weeks, his father has just remarried, which means that Ben now has a brand new stepmother (his dentist, of all people) and stepbrother (an annoying, nonstop eating machine), and on top of everything else, they’re all moving together into a new house that, to put it mildly, needs a little work. And if that weren’t enough, Ben discovers that the house seems to be haunted, a claim that no one else in his family believes.

But Ben finds an ally in his ghostly encounters. A mysterious girl in white whose name is Rose knows an awful lot about the dark history of this spooky old place. She will help Ben discover the deep secrets behind the spirits that roam these halls at night, and she promises to stand beside Ben when he finally faces the frightening truth of what is really going on in the house on Summer Street.

It's hard to write jacket copy like this. You want to tell the story without giving anything away. Whew.

The story is told from Ben’s point of view, which was rather fun to create. There’s something about a first person narrative, when you’re trying to create a particular character with a particular way of looking at things. When the character is a kid, that adds to the complications. Most of my editing and rewriting as I worked was eliminating anything that didn’t fit into being Ben, things that were too adult. That’s a hard business, because kids are way smarter than adults like to give them credit for, while at the same time, they are kids. You can judge for yourself how successful I was at that.

You can get a copy from Amazon. For a taste, there is an audio sample that I’ve read, if you’re just curious.

Thursday, August 01, 2013


Well, I managed to get on the waitlist for Big Bronx, but that was because last night at midnight I was asleep. Obviously no one else in the debate community was. O’C says this timing is to generate Lucas-type midnight-opening debate season excitement. Which makes me wonder if he’s seen the last few Lucas films, where the excitement ended, if I’m not mistaken, about three minutes after the opening credits.

Meanwhile, I’d forgotten that the event cap for LD is 200. Who the hell wants to tab a division with 200 people? And MJP?


Meanwhile I’m looking to get a room list for the Pups to start massaging that wait list. I managed to get on their w/l too, and I thought that it was all waitlist but maybe not. Doesn’t matter. It will sort itself out. We’ve got a month and a half, after all. Pups LD is at the building closest to the hotel, which is perfectly fine, but it means that I don’t pass through the campus for anything, like Starbucks, which does slow the morning down a tad. Oh, well. It gives the odd traveling Pup a worthy chore.

Oh, yeah. It turns out we’ve got two Sailor Speecho-American alums in local colleges. There’s a certain frabjousness to that…

Anyhow, I’ve been complaining for months how I miss debate, and all of a sudden I’m knee deep in it again.

Let the games begin.