Thursday, July 28, 2016

In which we talk devices

I have suffered from technolust many times over the years, and talked about it occasionally here. One reaches a point where one just wants a new toy to play with, and everything that plugs into something else (or, even better, connects to Bluetooth) starts looking attractive.

It’s been a rough summer.

The underlying problem a lot of us face—and this is hardly the worst problem in the world, I realize that, but I don’t think people look to me to solve the woes of the world, even though they know I could if the world would just let me  (I've got a good brain)—is that everything already works fine. My MacBook is seven years old. Yes, it’s pokey to start up, but I’ve updated it to the latest OS and it does everything it's supposed to do. I could replace it with a sleeker, zippier Air, but the cost benefit analysis doesn’t really work in favor of the switch. A thousand bucks or so to save five minutes on startup and a couple of ounces in the backpack? It just doesn’t add up. Come to think of it, I have startup problems at home with my Mini, and I guess I could just switch everything to one machine to rule them all, but I can find the five minutes in my busy day to wait until everything is loaded, at which point speed is not a factor. Speed in computing probably hasn’t been a factor since the turn of the millennium. I mean, if you click a button and something happens right away, how much more righter awayer can it get?

Still, the technolust doesn’t go away, so as a personal compromise I picked up a Chromebook. Light and small and quite fast, and an admission that I hardly to anything nowadays that isn’t browser-based, most especially running tournaments with tabroom. It was dirt cheap during Amazon’s Prime Day sale, and I could resist. It works fine, although I haven’t put it through serious paces yet, but then again, what are serious paces? I know that printing with it requires jumping through all sorts of hoops, but I can just choose not to print with it. Half of the tournaments we do are already e-ballots, and more will come. And there’s always a clunker around hooked up to an old laser printer if the need arises.

I was also lusting after an iPad mini. This is sort of inexplicable, but again I satisfied it by picking up a Samsung tablet for about a quarter of the money, which I use mostly for reading books, which is my primary use for the small form. After all, I read books as a part of my living. I could have gotten a Kindle, but this does more, like controlling Spotify on the various Bluetooth speakers scattered around the chez. And reading email. It’s a good little machine, much more satisfying than the Kindle Fire that I bought last year, which barely holds a charge for more than a couple of days, which is unacceptable in this day and age. At least it was cheap, and now it’s totally dedicated as a music control device.

And yes, Alexa is in the house. With a Dot on the side. These are most fun for showing off, but having it in the kitchen to play my podcasts while I cook, and to time things, and keep a shopping list and impress the in-laws? Why not?

So, yes, I’ve thrown away a bit of money over the summer, but if I had upgraded to that MacBook I would have thrown away a lot more. Then again, it’s not how many devices you have, but how you use them that matters. 

Now, tell me: isn’t reading about all of this and muttering to yourself that I have more money than I should and that I should be reading Peter Singer and giving it all to the starving children on the moon way more entertaining than contemplating the 2016 election?

We here at Coachean Life aim to please.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In which we do not exactly love a potential PF topic

I scouted around a bit to discover why the Natfolk are releasing the topics early this year, but came up with nothing. Not a big deal, really, and frankly, with a local tournament for us the weekend of 9/9, which is not unusual country-wide, I would imagine that, for most people, the earlier the better.

While scouting about, I uncovered the potential topics for PF for Sept-Oct, which is now a two-month spread:

OPTION 1 – Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.

OPTION 2 - Resolved: United States public K-12 schools should be allowed to regulate students' off-campus electronic speech.

If you are planning on voting for option two, I would love to know why. With little or no thought on my part, I find it hard to imagine great arguments for why you ought to delegate one hundred percent of your first amendment rights to your public school. Obviously plenty of damage can be done by bad speech, and bad speech, especially on the internet, is a problem. But this is a possible solution? The bind moggles. Option 1, on the other hand, is an old LD classic with plenty of meat on its bones even for the more evidentiary PF diet.

I have to wonder, although it’s probably beside the point in rounds, how the pro would enable the regulation. Maybe all the teachers should friend their students on Facebook, and then trawl for trolls? Or maybe just lie in wait: be a bastard in the classroom and see if anybody responds “This schmuck is a bastard” on line. Or maybe use Snapchat. That gives the school administration a good ten seconds to track down miscreants. Ought to be plenty of time.

Whatever. It doesn't make sense because it's silly, not because you can't come up with a reasonable plan to affect it. Schools have enough trouble (legal, philosophical and practical) regulating behavior in schools. At the point where they also regulate behavior out of the schools, well, I'm glad I won't have to argue about it. Or listen to anyone else doing so. 



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In which we wonder about the timing

I always thought that they released the September rezzes on 8/15 because that was close to when a lot of schools started (although not in the northeast). This year they’re releasing a week earlier. Theoretically this gives camps that are still in session a pretty good head start on things. I don’t know if this is good or bad. In the olden days, the stuff people brought back from camps was almost immediately discarded in the face of reality, but I think camps are more tactically capable these days. Whatever. No skin off my nose, one way or the other. I’m curious why they’re releasing early, though. I’ll have to go seek out an answer.

Preparations are beginning to bubble for Rather Large Bronx. Kirby and Robert are in the mix once again, and I think most of the usual suspects will be back in tab. I know Sheryl will be there, and of course JV and Catholic Charlie and the NY folks will do their bit on the speech side. The Bronxwegians have been talking about some schedule adjustments, including possibly single-flighting the thing, since they have enough rooms. Real rooms, not “Left Corner Stall on the 3rd Floor Faculty Men’s Room” rooms. We’ve tabbed plenty of single-flighters over the years, but always with another wrinkle, like Scarsdale’s V/Nov split, or endless other divisions at Newark. Sounds like a bit of a lark, to tell you the truth, except that the days are pretty long, since they’ll be alternating LD and PF in the same rooms. Plenty of time to pair rounds, in other words, but an endless slog at the same time. Whatever. Keeping Bronx as a top tournament has been important to the region, and it’s happened. Everything else now is just polishing the silverware. At least partial judging obligations will go away. As Apple Valley puts it, single flighting already means that you have half an obligation, compared to double flighting, even if you judge every round. But we’ll make sure there are plenty of rounds off, even for the highly preffed. I mean, judges don’t go to tournaments to judge. Heaven forbid! There’s doughnuts there. And bagels. And debate ziti. Can’t turn your back on all that just to go watch some kids yabbering at one another. Jeesh.

Monday, July 25, 2016

In which we return

Enough of this. Back to business.

Needless to say, things are crazy at the DJ, for various reasons, hence my shutting down for a while (aside from the fact that it's off season). It’s not so much that I’m averse to doing a lot of work, but a lot of the work I do doesn’t expand well. If I’m working on a book, it sucks out a lot of my mental juice, and there’s only so much mental juice there for the sucking. It’s like digging ditches. You can dig as many ditches as you can until your body gives out. By the same token, I can edit as many pages as I can until my mind gives out. I could presumably keep editing after the juices are gone, but it would be crappy editing. Plus there’s all sorts of other things going on, extra tasks that I like to do, but which require their own juices. So, if you see me on the streets looking fairly juiceless, you’ll know why.

The debate world, of course, is my antidote to all of this. The work is so different that it energizes me. It’s nice to be back into it again, as we pass the summer midpoint. A lot of my colleagues do debate in the summer, teaching to the young and the restless at various camps, so they never really get to enjoy a serious hiatus. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the hiatus; when I had a team, it was nice to have a break from the steady need to keep on top of things. But when August would roll around (and I hate to tell you this, but it’s rolling in again any minute), I’d start getting antsy. We’d always start working on the new rez when it was released in the middle of the month. For me now, it’s more working on the new tournaments. The first one, Byram, opens on August first. And there we are.

There will be change this year, as there is change every year. For me, the earliest change is my not doing Yale. I have to admit, that used to suck up my August, managing the waitlists and such. The parting of the ways was not particularly acrimonious, although I would imagine that people will come up with various explanations, given that I was doing it for what seemed like ages. Did they dump me because of my decrepitude? Did I storm out in a huff over some horrible slight? What exactly happened?

The story, simply enough, is that I do have certain requirements for working a highly profitable tournament. I do not ask to be paid (nor, for that matter, have I ever accepted money for anything I’ve done in debate that I can recall; e.g., I donated back my stipend from the Hud back in the day). However, I do ask that a tournament provide a certain level of hospitality for the tab team of which I am a part. Yale did not agree. It is their tournament, and that is their decision, and I am fine with it and I wished them well. From the looks of things they’ve found great people to take over in LD, and more power to all of them. The idea that I will henceforth have September free for vacations and the like, while everyone else is back to school, is extremely attractive. Everybody wins in the end.

After that, things seem to be normal as far as I’m concerned, but for all I know everyone in forensics is trying to figure out ways to get rid of me because of my aforementioned decrepitude, and I just haven’t heard about it yet. Except for Penn, which I’ve already been working with (and which is a long story in itself). We’ll see.

Other changes? They mostly remain to be seen. But it wouldn’t be a new season without them.