yay texas scheduling

round one doesn't start tommorow until 6:30.

I love how texas finds ways to make a 4 round and then quarters tournament stretch into saturday at midnight.

every weekend.

In the eternal words of ian cero


Ok, I'll admit it

I realized something this weekend: LD debaters are really good at talking fast. Talking fast and being very very clear. This is sort of hard to quantify, but I think that in terms of "information per unit of time," the average high level LD debater kicks the stuffing out of the average high level policy debater.

Admit it, folks. We've been beat at our own game. You should be ashamed.

I've been working on a little theory here. It's still in it's infancy, but it goes a little something like this:

how to get fast and win rounds:
1. get very clear: Over enunciate every syllable, hit every consonant and stretch out the vowels a little
2. get dynamic: People are easier to understand when they use dynamics. Vary the volume, pitch, length of pauses. Better yet, use your dynamics to emphasize the important bits of what you are reading
3. get rhythm: this one is a little hard to quantify, but the best debaters have a natural rhythm while making arguments. You need to find your inner metronome
4. get fast: once you've got all that, then you can turn up the tempo knobs. But try to force the fast before you've got all the other stuff down and you just make yourself hard to hear (and by consequence actually convey less information per unit of time)

LD debaters seem to have this down. Policy debaters less so.

Terrible Terrible Arguments

So one of the realities of debate is that many terrible arguments get to see the light of day. some even end up winning rounds. At risk of being a voice in the wilderness, I'm going to go ahead and out a few common ones so maybe someone will read my list and take one of these off their blocks:

This week's theme is topicality, the place from which many terrible arguments emerge:

-Our interpretation is good, because it increases education. Education about our plan.
-You read some arguments in the 1NC, so clearly you weren't abused on Topicality.
-If we are "reasonably topical," you shouldn't vote on topicality. Oh, by the way. We are reasonably topical. Seriously.
-Topicality is a voter because of tradition
-Topicality is a voter because it's an 'a priori' issue
-Our interpretation is better because it gives the negative all sorts of link ground!
-Extra topicality is good because it gives the negative all sorts of link ground!
-Our case is predictable! I mean, there's ton of literature about it! Hell, we found enough literature to make a 1AC! Quit whining!
-Topicality is a voter because the judge is like a senator and the resolution is like the constitution and the judge can't think that something is a good idea if it's out of his jurisdiction

So yeah, if you are a debater and you are reading this and your T blocks are nearby, please take out your sharpie and violently exclude all of these arguments from the rhetorical space of debate.

And oh man am I glad that the word "establish" isn't in this year's policy resolution. Someone upstairs at the framers meeting likes me.

That's when rock and roll dreams come true

Hey, remember that time that I said that someone ought to make a wiki that explains a bunch of debate jargon? Well it seems as though Michigan State has beat me to the punch.

I'm excited to get 'mah edit on.

back to tay has

just looked at the schedule for this weekend.

Guess what time round 4 stats Saturday morning? 11AM. Boy howdy am I glad that our schedule gets hosed so kids can double enter in speech and debate.

Every. stinking. weekend.

Oh well, at least it'll give me a chance to hang out with my dad Saturday morning. And it'll give me a big pain in the ass finding someone to cover my job for my Saturday night. give and take.

Debate Camps are a scam

I know that there are a bunch of sites that sell debate evidence. Frankly, I think it's a little silly (and probably against the law), and I personally wouldn't ever make the decision to sell evidence, but it's a free country.

But selling camp evidence? I know that this has been going on for a while, but that's just ugly. Kids are pretty much required to go to debate camps to be successful in this day and age of debate. So they pay thousands of dollars to a college for the privilege. That college then takes their work, sells it for profit, and doesn't give the students back a dime. I mean I know you (hopefully) get more out of debate camp then a chance to cut cards, but that sucks.

End child exploitation. Boycott camp evidence.

Luckily, it looks like the fine folk at the NDCA are making this practice obsolete.

Holy Crap

Joy of Tournaments costs a buttload of money.

For those averse to link clicking. Just using their tabulation software for a single tournament costs $250.

Having them run the tournament website costs even more.

I mean don't get me wrong. The folks at Joy do a good job from what I can tell, their service is clearly worth something, and nobody's forcing tournament directors to pay that.

but sheesh, I bet Greenhill gave them over 500 bucks. I'm surprised nobody has tried to undercut them.

Put that in my "good ideas" folder.

Mutual Judge Paininthebutt

I'll admit it, I'm not a fan of Mutual Judge Preference.

Everyone else seems to loooove MJP. It's a standard for any circuity tournament, and I hear all the time at tournaments about how nice it is. But man is it a pain in the ass. I'm pretty new at this coaching thing, but oh let me count the crap we have to put up with for MJP.

-Going through the list of judges, most of which we don't know
-Trying to find philosophies for judges online, many of which aren't there despite the perennial requirement for judges to post their philosophy
-Trying to discern something useful out of judge philosophies in the first place. What does it mean to "default to a policy maker?" is someone who "likes to see the evolution of debate" going to be ok with a performance aff?
-Calling around to ask about judges that we don't know anything about, wasting more time.
-Figuring out when the pref sheet needs to be done by, and who to turn it in to. At registration? The day before at 9AM? it's just one more thing to keep track of.

Also, in addition to being irritating, I really think that it's bad for debate. The idea of MJP is to make sure that each round has a judge that both teams equally prefer. But what if you are new to debate and know absolutely nobody? Who do you prefer? Or what if you have 10 As that you can come up with but need to mark at least 20? The whole system seems to assume that everyone has reliable, useful information about every judge.

That ain't true. And since it's the established, big programs that have more information, it's the established, big programs that get the real benefit of MJP.

I also think there's an argument to be made about how MJP eliminates the need for judge adaptation. Now, let me qualify that statement. There are a lot of really crappy policies that are justified by touting the benefits of "judge adaptation," so let me say that it's not like being required to adapt more is always a good thing. I think that lay judges are bad in varsity divisions. I also think that debaters should be able to avoid judges that have a specific agenda to eliminate from debate the style of arguments that they prefer. But there's an amount of education that comes from, say, having to slow down a bit to debate for a judge who's been out of the game for a while, or having to carry a few disads along with your representations kritik.

It's a balance. I think that strikes do a decent job of preserving that balance. I also think that MJP tips it a bit too far in the "I don't have to adapt" direction. It also tips the balance in that direction specifically for the big programs, and I think that's bad.

A little language kritik

Debate is a silly thing. This activity is ostensibly designed around logic and reason, but we have so many names for things that are relics of tradition and habit.

I'm pretty big on names for things. I really love a good name - something that is witty, maybe helps in understanding some concept. I think everyone does. But when something has a bad name, a name that obscures meaning or is just plain silly, most people tend to ignore it. I mean sure, we don't have racist names for disads anymore, but with all the talk about how to make debate a more accessible place to the outside world, why is there no discussion about making our jargon a little more user-friendly?

Let me get to some examples:

"Intrinsicness perm"
- this one is a straight up relic. It comes (as I understand) from an era in which disadvantages needed to be "intrinsic" to plan. If the affirmative could think up something else that a policy maker could do to avoid the disadvantage - an "intrinsicness answer" - the disad would not be considered a reason to reject the plan. If plan causes a drop in business confidence but is otherwise a good idea, well then we'll do plan and then do something about the business confidence. Frankly, I have no idea how a negative team ever won a round in that world.

Anyway, the kernel of this concept - an addition of something else to plan - carried over into the world of counterplan theory, and the name has stuck around today. This sucks. If someone asks me what an intrinsicness perm is, I can simply explain what it is - a perm that includes some action neither in plan nor counterplan - but then that person has to manually connect the word "intrinsicness" (which isn't even a word) to that concept to be able to use it in a round. Really nasty. Why don't we just call them "addition perms" or "add-on perms" or "rider perms" or "staple perms" or something?

"Double Bind" - This one is just silly. The idea is that you set up a system of arguments that puts your opponents between the ol' rock and a hard place - the more they link-out of one argument the more they link into the other. Running a topicality violation on the word "public" along with a marxist kritik of the public/private dichotomy, for instance. This is generally a pretty good strategic move, so it deserves a good name. A hell of a lot better name than "double bind." There's nothing "double" about it. It's just a bind! They are in a bind between one argument or another. The word "double" is there just to make it sound harder to get out of. You'd be just as well off calling it a "XXTREME Bind" or something. silly.

I'll probably have a bunch more as time goes on and I get reminded of them, that's why I'm using a label just for silly debate words.

Really I think it'd be awesome if we made something like the Jargon File for debate. Like a wiki or something that a non-debater could read and understand this silly thing we call debate.

One more thing on the to do list :)


This is my new blog. I plan on ranting about debate-related stuff.