Tuesday, August 22, 2017

In which we wonder if they bring the taro root into the rounds with them

Tournaments seem to be opening registration and appearing on tabroom faster these days than firings in the Trump White House. The northeast doesn’t start school usually until after Labor Day, although I know that that’s not quite true this year as districts manipulate their way around the Jewish holidays. Meanwhile, I think there are some schools where students are already in the seats, chewing on their pencils and thinking Christmas can’t come soon enough. And one way or another, their coaches are working on their tournaments. 

It’s not hard to get a tournament started, if it’s simply a repeat of a past tournament. Most people just replicate the past, which is not a good thing. If you can’t find a way to make this year’s tournament even better than last year’s tournament, you’re not doing your job as Tournament Director. And don’t give me any malarkey about tradition, or as you probably prefer it—you spalpeen—Tradition. You know damned well you have no compunctions about changing things if it suits your fancy. Calling everything that isn’t to your fancy Tradition is simply giving in to your own mental bureaucracy. Running tournaments is hard. Some people, but not all, do it well, but all, refreshed in the moments when it’s over and all the pain and agony is forgotten, think they do it well. They don’t. You know the tournaments you like and don’t like. The ones that cater to you, the guest and customer, are the best ones. The ones that cater to themselves? They may be on your list because that’s where the bids are, and God knows that nothing is more protective of the bids they’ve gotten somewhere than the TOC committees. Or the bids they think they can get if only all the tournaments they can walk to are given Octos bids, while all the tournaments everywhere else are in regions that already have too many bids and should be a Finals bid at best.


By the way, POI now seems to be a thing. Oh joy, oh rapture. We need even more rooms! There needs to be a limit. When a new activity comes in, an old activity should have to walk the plank. You want POI? Get rid of LD!

Well, not really…


Monday, August 21, 2017

In which we get back to business

The hell with it.

I mean, it’s August 21. If I were still coaching, I’d already have met a couple of times with my team to go over the first resolutions of the season. Summer is over, forensics-wise. It’s time to get back to business.

One sure sign of the season to come is upon us is the home page of tabroom. There are already dozens of open registrations. Of course, I’ve already written about deadlines for the toolkit, and I’m a bit unsure that coaches who aren’t in school yet know who they’re sending to a tournament in November (doesn’t anyone read my great advice?), but there’s worse offenses for a tournament director than premature e-registration.

Yes, I just typed that.

My own season begins the first weekend after Labor Day at Byram Hills. I think this is their third year kicking off the season, and it’s worked pretty well. They have varsity divisions in LD and PF, and I think it’s seen by a lot of people the same way it’s billed, as a warm-up for Yale the following week. They’re not breaking down the doors to get in, but the divisions end up reasonably sized, with enough work on the tabbing end to warrant the expenditure of energy. That it’s a not very long drive from the chez doesn’t hurt.

The other event I’ve been giving thought to is Rather Large Bronx. Registration has been open for a week or so, and the numbers for the debate events are similarly rather large. I’m not the one who handles the WL here; that’s done by the TDs, but I do provide counsel on suspicious entries. We spent a lot of time a few weeks ago setting things up, mostly with Kaz and I pointing out what we think is important for a tournament in 2017.

Other events I know I’ll be working so far are Princeton and Scarsdale, and I would imagine the NYCFL events unless for reasons unknown they boot me out of the organization. Probably I'll be doing the other first-half-of-the-season usual-suspect tournaments as well: I’ve put them on my calendar.

In any case, the hell with it. The season has begun. The DJ will get done one way or the other. Meanwhile, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Or in the stirring words of Jean Shepherd. Excelsior, you meatball.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In which we discover a new app for tabbing

This is pretty interesting. It turns out that Google Vestigial has just announced a new all-in-one app for tabbing debate tournaments called, in an explosion of creativity, Mobile Tab App, or MTA. Actually, it sounds pretty good.

·      All registration is done directly by students via their Snapchat accounts. Prospective attendees will be removed from the waitlist based solely on the creativity of their photo filters. Rabbit ears are almost guaranteed to keep you home for the weekend.

·      Judges are automatically ranked for MJP using data analysis provided by Google. All of a judge’s emails, texts, Amazon shopping record, Facebook likes and sites browsed over a ten year period will be evaluated and compared to each debater’s emails, texts, Amazon shopping record, Facebook likes and sites browsed over a ten year period. Instagram photos of last night’s dinner and sites with naughty bits will not be factored into the calculus.

·      The tab room staff, when they are ready to pair a round, will simply press a START button. Failure to press this button in an appropriate fashion will cause the entire tournament to storm the tab room and demand satisfaction.

·      Teams and judges will be notified about their rounds via text, with Google map instructions on how to get to their rooms, plus numbers to call when the room is locked, one of the debaters is vomiting too much to proceed, or either side, or neither side, or the judge, doesn’t show up.

·      Fines for missed rounds will be immediately levied via Google Play or the Apple Store, and may or may not be rescinded, but just try to argue with the Apple Store if you have a complaint. Just try.

·      The app will provide instruction for newbie judges (those whose first names are Mr. or Mrs.) via Bluetooth and undetectable hearing appliances. The app will listen to what the debaters are saying, and translate it from Debate Gobbledygook into something vaguely resembling English (or whatever language the newbie judge happens to understand, in the likely event that English is not familiar to them). In the Advanced Mode, the app will analyze what’s being said and provide counsel on who should win and how many speaker points to apply. In the Super Advanced Mode, the app will play Justin Bieber songs directly into the ears of the judge and not even pretend to be paying attention.

·      The app will analyze all evidence as it is presented in the round. In cases of misrepresentation, clipping, fudging, and downright mendacity, the losing horn from The Price is Right will play at top volume. Muting this sound is not an option. Alternately, a judge can choose any sound bite from a Trump news conference as the preferred bullshit alarm.

·      The app can be set to flow the entire round, up to a limit of 117 meaningless blips per speech.

·      A special version of the app is available solely for the Galaxy Note 7 phone, which will be issued to judges who tend to give critiques longer than the actual rounds. These phones will be locked in the judges’ pants pockets. The longer the judge rambles on, the hotter the phone gets. The management takes no responsibility for damage done to the judges private parts, if any. (If any damage, that is, not if any private parts.)

·      Observers of the round who harass the judges will find that their wifi has suddenly become dicky, and it will remain so until said harassers are halfway back to wherever they came from.

·      The app is hot-linked to OpenTable so that tab room staff doesn’t have to leave its home program anymore as they plan lunch/dinner/elevenses/tiffin/carousing/etc.

·      For debaters, there is a function for rating the tournament’s debate ziti as detestable, despicable, or, the highest ranking, marginally digestible.

·      A Luddite alert will sound if for some reason a judge in a round is not using the app. This raises the question, How does it know? Users who think that it begs the question, How does it know, have no idea what the phrase “begs the question” means.

·      The app will automatically notify the TOC whenever debaters in the round ought to get a bid. If the debaters are so-so but look plaintive enough, the notification will be for a silver bid. If the debater is a middle-schooler, the app will automatically enroll them in the TOC as soon as a payment is by the obnoxious parents of the debater of a $200 finder’s fee.

·      The app automatically records points with the NFL. Unfortunately, the NSDA won’t ever hear about it.

·      There’s a prime number generator. Apparently this was created solely for Chris Palmer, who will otherwise have nothing to do with all the free time this app will generate for him.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

In which, at the end, we marvel

For the record, I’ve been swamped at the DJ, and it is summer and everything, so I have my excuses for not posting. So, we’ll catch up a bit.

I updated the Toolkit judge-conflict material, and also posted some commentary on the Toolkit FB page, if you’re interested. Conflicts went through a brief moment of controversy, but I think that’s been settled now.

I saw in one of my feeds that the Fall topics were released, so I sashayed over to the NSDA site. LD is arguing compulsory conscription, with vague enough wording that it’s not just about being cannon fodder (or IED fodder nowadays). As always, I have no idea how it will debate, but it’s certainly a valid subject area for LD. What personal responsibility does one have to society? Interesting question.

On the PF side, voters overwhelmingly approved the topic about South Korea deploying antimissile systems as being in their best interests. Okay. Who wants to go con on that one? An aggressive border state that questions its sovereignty is actively testing missiles against SK. Why would they want to protect themselves? Given the audience judging these rounds, what arguments against self-defense are going to work? Good luck Charlie. Bring your one-sided coin, is my advice. Still, overwhelming support in the voting, as I said. Was the alternative that bad?

Nevertheless, it’s the BBQ topic that makes you believe that some day even Donald Trump could be President: Resolved: Humans are fundamentally different from other animals. Could there possibly be a meaningful debate on this topic? In my experience, the only thing that separates humans from other animals is their ability to ask themselves stupid Big Questions. My big question: How much are people paying for this one?