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Kids today is a segment where blah blah blah lets do this.
1. Start speaking English. Seriously. I largely blame coaches/lab leaders for this. There are not enough people yelling clear or requiring their students be clear. Yes kids today don’t flow because they just look at the speech document- but guess why they do that? Because no one can understand what the other team is saying. I am starting to agree with all the people who hate fast debate because fast debate is starting to suck. And even when I say “clear” people totally ignore it. Here is what it means when a judge says “clear”:
I cannot understand what you are saying, therefore I cannot count any of the arguments you are making. Without arguments you will probably lose.
What kids hear:
“1% slower please”
“Can you enunciate for like 5 seconds and then go back to mumbling?”
A judge saying clear needs to be responded to by slowing down, putting more effort into articulation, and by closely monitoring them with your EYES to see if they are getting things. Computer flowing kind of makes this harder. Back in the day when a judge couldn’t understand you they would put their pen down and just sit there. Now when a judge can’t understand you they open up facebook and say “LOL romney went for a K cause he was vague and didn’t explain things”. So it often looks like they are paying attention when they are not. I know this because when judging on panels I see other people do it. I know this because if after I have said clear (3 or more times) and you have made no effort to be clear I am playing starcraft. Here is how an interesting post round went
” you dropped X”
“No I didnt, I said 25 things to that”
” Was that after I said clear 3 times”
“I didnt flow any of that because I couldn’t understand you, that’s why I said clear… 3 times”
“Well… why didn’t you say it again”
One thing related to this, dont construct a speaking stand that results in your face being hidden behind the computer screen so you can’t see the judge and they can’t see you. Lower it. Or turn it slightlighty sideways. It is really stupid if you think “i can only read if my computer is in this exact position or in this font or blah blah”. I’m sorry, but that’s not how reading works. There is no medical or psychological condition that makes it so you can only read with the computer blocking your vision of the judge. You may need to play with the page layout or font size but you can get it so you can read without having the computer 3 inches from your face. How do I know this? Because when you aren’t speaking you are sitting down using your computer and THE SCREEN ISN’T 3 INCHES FROM YOUR FACE.
Now lets talk about coaches for a second. If kids are showing up at tournaments totally unintelligible than you are not doing your job. Its fine and dandy to talk about how kids should be clearer, but you see them speak frequently, If you aren’t correcting their bad habits who will? Now, I can already see the spam in my inbox upset about this. Yes, I know kids can be difficult. I had a student recently who day 1 the second he opened his mouth I said “don’t scream”. Every subsequent practice speech he gave I said “don’t scream”. Kept on screaming. Is that my fault? YES. It is my job to somehow convey not screaming. In this case I totally failed. Despite a not insubstantial amount of effort being put into it he is still a screamer. I have to accept some responsibility for that. Similarly, all you coaches out there who have students not speaking English have to admit some of the following
-I have not been hard enough on my students about being clear because I feel uncomfortable criticizing them
-I understand that my kids get a selective strategic advantage from being unclear and I’m ok with that
-I hate fast debate and want to tear it down from the inside
In closing, I am not talking about a little unclear. I am not talking about reading tags slow and cards fast. I am talking about fundamentally a complete lack of English
2. Need to think “how can i lose” instead of “omg I’m so gonna win”. This mainly relates to theory. I have seen about 10 debate so far this year where team A was just crushing on substance and the only chance they had to lose was on theory, but instead of spending a lot of time on theory they blew it off and spent needless time on substance bragging/being repetitive. When you are “ahead” immediately turn your thoughts to “if I was the other team, how would I snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?”. This isn’t just about theory but that is the prime example. Others include
-when the neg has no good disad links reading a generic add on like hegemony they can turn
-when the CP clearly solves 100% of case doing something stupid like kicking it to go for a bad disad the other team undercovered that wasn’t a net benefit
-going for T on “principle”
Debate strategic decisions need to be made “big picture”- you can’t just get in a bubble and focus on what you are ahead on. The other team is still going to try to win so you need to think about HOW they are going to do that and then stop them. So even if you think the 1AR on condo was crappy and only 25 seconds, if that is the only place you can lose spend 2 minutes there.
3. Highlighting. You need to highlight enough of a card to actually make an argument. 1 good card >X bad ones if X is ANY NUMBER EVER. If the neg goes for “cap is the root cause of war” reading 1 good card on this at some point in the debate is a necessity. If you can’t fit it all in the 2AC, read more of it in the 1AR. You need to be reading the warrants. 3 cards highlighted so scantily that there is no warrant doesn’t help anymore than 1 such card, but the time you spent on the other 2 could be spent reading the warrants from the first. If a card is less than 50 words, and its an important issue, you have a problem. Sure that “obama spending PC on X” card is pretty short, that is a statement of fact not a warranted argument. Cards that are actually making an argument need explanation, and explanation means length. Kids today have access to more evidence than they could ever need. A huge part of being successful as a debater now is managing it all. It sucks to go through 30 files to find the best 1 card, but thats what you have to do. Once you do it, its done. You never have to do it again. Maybe on your team you can divide such labor saving yourself time, but someone has to do it. The real tragedy is AFTER you have done all that work BLOWING it by highlighting down the best card to the point where it says nothing. .
You can get more free dropbox space for your sick spark backfile pdfs by competing in the great space race- https://www.dropbox.com/spacerace.
Hopefully a debate school will be able to unseat Singapore and claim the title
After judging and scouting at a few tournaments this year I would like to address a set of common mistakes people have been making that relate both to strategy conception and preparation.
1. Stimulus bad- this is a good argument assuming the aff is a stimulus. Evidence about a “stimulus” is talking about things like Obama’s 700 billion package, not building a single road. A stimulus is generally where people decide “we need to spend a ton of money…. we will figure out on what at a later date”. They allocate the funds, and then people lower down the government food chain make important decisions about what projects get funded and how much etc. This is where arguments like “data cooking” come in- this argument assumes someone is tasked to select between competing projects and will be influenced by manufactured statistics into picking the wrong one. When the aff does something specific , spends little money etc these arguments fundamentally don’t link. Similarly, links like “crowd out” are linear to a point, but the impact has a threshold. When the aff is smaller than multiple recent government spending projects it is extremely difficult to prove your linear link crosses any meaningful impact threshold due to the plan.
2. The more generic your strategy, the more you have to prepare. If you want to win on the cap K, you need blocks. This is because everyone knows about it, and thus has a 2AC ready. If you aren’t ready to beat the litany of stock 2AC arguments like no root cause, economic interdependence solves war etc. you should not be reading the cap K. You should be reading something more obscure that doesn’t give your opponents a huge prep advantage. Most teams have prepped on a scale of 1-10 about a 7 or 8 in terms of how ready they are for cap. Teams who do well on the cap K have prepared to beat that by being at a 9 or 10. This requires them to have compiled all camp files, found the best cards, highlighted everything, written 2NC and 2NR blocks etc. You can steamroll most teams with that level of prep on any argument, but for common arguments it is a necessity because you are not likely to catch an aff team unprepared.
3. Cross X is a time to ask questions, not make arguments. Every cross-x I have seen this year goes something like this
“lets talk about your X card, doesn’t it say the opposite?”
“Well I think it does”
Good for you. Unfortunately I’m not flowing this and since your partner is playing tetris they aren’t making this argument in a speech. Someone out there is giving CX lectures and telling people “read the other teams evidence in CX”. This is generally a bad idea unless you have some kind of strategic purpose in mind. IE you are reading strategy X, so you read parts of evidence in CX that relate to that strategy. Instead what we have is a generation of students who pick random sentence fragments from random 1AC cards and read them outloud as if they have sprung a trap and auto won the debate because the other said something that divorced from context means the aff should lose. If you are reading a piece of evidence in CX please
1. Make sure it relates to arguments in the debate
2. Make it an issue in a speech
Something I drilled into my lab over and over and over again this summer is don’t ask opinion questions. An opinion question is a question that doesn’t have a clear cut and dry factual answer. “dont you think” “wouldnt it be the case” etc. The other team will never give you the answer you want to these kind of questions because every single one of them boils down to “don’t you agree you should lose the debate”.
Lets take an example I saw recently. The aff read an economy advantage. The neg is trying to get at the argument that economic decline causing war is empirically denied. Here is how they went about it
neg “How come we aren’t having a war right now if our economy has collapsed?”
aff “our economy hasn’t collapsed”
neg “Well I disagree”
neg ” how come the housing collapse didnt cause a war”
aff “well our advantage says only the collapse of free trade can cause a recession big enough to cause war”
neg “well hasn’t trade collapsed like 50 times”
neg “well i think it has…”
And scene. Nothing was accomplished here. They were trying to make an argument and vaguely wording that argument as a question, not getting the answer they wanted, and just spinning their wheels in the process. Here is a better way to go about it. What you are trying to do is prove that empirically the economy has passed the same threshold the aff is saying it will pass, without causing a war.
So you could ask an initial question like:
“Do you have a piece of evidence that indicates how far the economy must fall before we see war”
This is factual- yes or no. In reality the answer is always no, because no one writes that card. But the aff will likely hem and haw for a bit and make up some nonsense. Now you have a few options
1. If they give an answer like “two quarters of neg gdp” or something STOP. Now make the argument in a speech, here are a list of recessions that meet their threshold that didn’t cause a war. Don’t ask in CX “why didnt june 1965 cause a war” -you are making an argument and giving them free speech time to answer it. What do you hope to accomplish with this ” assume the best case scenario where the aff is KOed and can’t answer… you still have to bring it up in a speech.
2. If the aff totally stonewalls, make it a point in the speech “they can’t explain”- dont ask 5 follow up questions that let them waste the rest of your cx time.
3. They can give a ludicrous answer you think is wrong- move on. This isn’t the time to make arguments. You have to in a speech point out how ludicrous it is.
If you ask follow up questions, make them follow the sequential path of cause and effect. So you asked about the threshold, now ask “how long from crossing threshold till war”. Aff has to say something, which feeds your empirically denied argument or makes their impact long term.
check it out, hopefully this article doesnt collapse my computer
The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions.
Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. If the government shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive up the cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. The most dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism, but from legions of faceless bureaucrats who claw their way up layered corporate and governmental machines. They serve any system that meets their pathetic quota of needs.
These systems managers believe nothing. They have no loyalty. They are rootless. They do not think beyond their tiny, insignificant roles. They are blind and deaf. They are, at least regarding the great ideas and patterns of human civilization and history, utterly illiterate. And we churn them out of universities. Lawyers. Technocrats. Business majors. Financial managers. IT specialists. Consultants. Petroleum engineers. “Positive psychologists.” Communications majors. Cadets. Sales representatives. Computer programmers. Men and women who know no history, know no ideas. They live and think in an intellectual vacuum, a world of stultifying minutia. They are T.S. Eliot’s “the hollow men,” “the stuffed men.” “Shape without form, shade without colour,” the poet wrote. “Paralysed force, gesture without motion.”
It was the careerists who made possible the genocides, from the extermination of Native Americans to the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust to Stalin’s liquidations. They were the ones who kept the trains running. They filled out the forms and presided over the property confiscations. They rationed the food while children starved. They manufactured the guns. They ran the prisons. They enforced travel bans, confiscated passports, seized bank accounts and carried out segregation. They enforced the law. They did their jobs.
We are in the process of recovering from a hack. The site may be unreliable until the restoration is finished.
Its pretty simple, you just have to import some pics/video from your phone. Up to 4.5 gigs of additional free space
They are about to debate going to space in case you aren’t watching
Andrew Sullivans comment from the dish
8.56 pm. I’m sorry but space policy puts me in an instant coma. But they all sounded fine. I can’t imagine anything they are now saying will have any impact in even the tiniest way on anything in the actual world. The best answer was Santorum’s.
I recieved the following email from a reader on a subject I feel strongly about so I wanted to post the answer here.
At a debate at the Glenbrooks a team got angry with me for having several, maybe 6 or so, cards in the 2AC speech document that I didn’t read, and to be fair it was at least 1 per block. The way I usually organize blocks is with debate synergy headers, and I just transfer the whole block over to the speech doc. Do you think this is a problem/if it is, what do you think is a good solution?
Another similar problem is that teams will like, answer an add on that was in a 2AC speech doc that I didn’t get to… is this something that needs to be addressed in CX/after 2AC should I tell them/just explain that in the 1AR. Seems a bit awkward when teams spend a minute of reading asteroids defense against a non-existent add on.”
Answer to 1- The other team should flow. Period. They should know what you read, this isn’t an issue just with paperless debate. When debating on paper people would bring up more than they got to or just read 1 card of a page with multiple cards etc. It’s the other teams responsibility to pay attention. Usually when I say something like this someone will say “but the other team could add a million things to the speech doc to confuse us/waste our time”. True, but someone debating off paper could bring a million extra sheets up to confuse you as well. They dont because it makes finding what they DO want to read harder. And if you have a good flow you can sift through things pretty quickly. If it’s really a problem start of CX by saying “mark what you read” and get a new speech doc. This should take under a minute. Judges have a problem with this when debaters want time like this to not come from cx/prep but instead to be “free” time, and rightly so. This should come from the team who didn’t give the speeches prep since they are the ones who need clarification. “But now they are wasting our prep…” Flow. You can win 99% of your debates by preparing in advance and flowing well WITHOUT ever reading the other teams evidence so quit complaining.
As for part 2 I think there are really 2 answers. From a strict “fairness” perspective I don’t think you are under any obligation to assist the other team when they make a mistake. Again, flow. But there is also the “don’t be a douche” standard, and from that perspective you saying “didn’t read that” would certainly help your debate karma. So chosing between the 2 is a personal choice, and I would probably decide based on the other team- if they were bad at debate or nice I would tell them. If it was a competitive round and they were jerks I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.