Monthly Archives: August 2009

Early Tournament Success

If you are a 2A going into the first tournaments of this year you have a pretty good idea what you need to prepare for: cap k, coercion k, pov k, politics, states cp, agents, a few T arguments. Compared to last years topic where there were 20 different oil disads, 20 more natural gas disads, and a million other topic specific arguments this list is pretty manageable. Not having a 2ac ready for these is basically inexcusable. Most negs will not have put in enough time to come up with totally new args from camp to the start of the year. Others will have trouble coming up with new arguments thinking if they weren’t turned out at a camp then they can’t be important. It’s certainly possible to win on the neg with just this list of things, but since the majority of aff prep time will be organized around preparing for this argument set you improve your odds by working outside of it.  So this post will be about neg prep for the beginning of the year, and a follow up will deal with the aff.

1. If you plan on relying on the stock neg args listed above, you need a “trick”. Something to catch the other team unprepared and or neutralize the prep they have put in ahead of time to get ready for them. Some examples of this could be

-impact turning advantages states don’t solve for- many aff answers to states fall into stock categories like “international perception”. If you prepare a 2 minute impact turn block to 5 or 6 of these that you can read in the last 2 minutes of the 1NR not only will you catch the aff by surprise, but you will have an independent net benefit to the CP that the aff can’t make defense against (since it was their arg).

-tricky link/uniqueness arguments to supplement politics- affs are going to have spent a lot of time coming up with case specific link turns you probably won’t have answers to. So you need to have generic link/uniqueness shields to insulate yourself from them, or come up with new scenarios the aff isn’t ready for. These things seem obvious in the abstract, and people reading are probably thinking “oh, brilliant, new politics scenario, like I didn’t think of that already”. Yet you rarely see any of these arguments run.

etc.

So what are some new arguments/strategies you could come up with? Well first, you should have specific strategies against the big affs- immigration, internet etc. So your new negs should anticipate what kind of cases you would need them for- i.e. what kind of affs will you be unprepared for.  For the most part these affs will be

-smaller- a huge aff would have been discovered already

-target a specific group- there are not frequently small affs that apply to everyone- the aff will try and pick something small that has a fed key warrant so things like prisons, military bases etc

-have some kind of uniqueness trick- for immigration the fact that immigration reform is being debated complicates the uniqueness for a lot of disads. Similarly any kind of targeted healthcare aff can use the overall debate about HC reform to non unique a lot of negative arguments. The advantage to these smaller trickier affs is beating disad links down to almost nothing so that a relatively (in debate terms) minor advantage can outweigh them.

Your first line of defense against these kind of affs is T.

1. Subsets- though a lot of judges will say they hate these kind of arguments (usually based around a definition of substantially or the classic “in means throughout”) the number of rounds won by T subsets is staggering. It wins so much because it has a lot of truth behind it- it is really hard to be neg vs a million small affs. Now obviously when you debate it you will want to be more nuanced than this in your explanation, but a good subsets violation will take you maybe an hour to fully block out and will serve you well. Related but separate- T args about substantial increases are similarly mocked but often successful against truly small cases. These arguments work because there are only a small number of things the aff can say, so if you block them out you can out tech the other team easily. The aff can basically say

-large affs aren’t viable- they lose to pics, are extra topical, don’t have federal key warrants etc

-small affs arent that bad- lit checks, they are good for education to learn about XYZ group (this is the argument most frequently deployed by small K affs),

-your definition is bad/out of context

Those are the main aff args. Against them you have to leverage

-neg ground/limits- too many cases means you can’t prepare, they are too small which creates uniqueness problems for everything, encourages case of the week lame affs that aren’t good for education etc.

2. The second kind of T arg, and one you should prepare for anyway, is the T double bind. What I mean by this is take any word in the resolution and prepare 2 T arguments about it that are the exact opposite of each other. So for example, you could say “social services” are face to face interactions with a social worker, and then have your other one be social services are infrastructure development. That way the aff will always have to violate one of them. The process of writing this kind of double bind is good because you have to think through each argument in depth and prepare all the arguments for both sides. While this may take you a few hours, it will guarantee that in the debate you are more knowledgeable about the issues than the other side and ready to pummel them.

Next, against these kind of small aff’s Kritiks are usually pretty money. The reasons for this are kind of two fold

1. The aff often stretches credulity in constructing their advantage claims- this lends a hand to the neg on any reps K that questions the truth value of the affs claims/indicts the idea that policy makers use false representations in order to justify policies.

2. The alt debate is easier- vs a huge heg aff it is really difficult most times to explain how your alt would do anything to remedy the advantage- mainly because your alt is going to be like hands across America which doesn’t help us kill terrorists. These smaller affs, however, are usually about a certain group getting jacked- well your K nonsense alternative certainly wouldn’t agree with people getting jacked like that- so naturally you can say your alternative does something about this issue.

3- to a lesser extent- the sort of “turns the case” args are better. The classic example of this is affs that do something to help Natives and then claim a colonialism advantage- generally they do something that makes intuitive sense- however the K cards indicting this process are always super good because every one who ever did something colonialist justified it in the garb of doing something intuitive to help the oppressed group.

If you don’t want to read a K, you will often need to employ a uniqueness counterplan to help out your disads. At camp a few people were employing the “ban social services” cp. This is basically the hatchet when you need a scalpel approach. Affs- you should invest 30 minutes to cut a few disads to this style of counterplans- a few quick cards on different social service projects that are good ideas. So how should you run a uniqueness counterplan intelligently? Well there are basically 2 ways to do it

1. The precedent CP- this cp does something that prevents future social service expenditures- so if the aff arg is “SS coming in future” the precedent cp is a good way to stop them- examples may be line item veto or some kind of court action (which directly establishes precedent)

2. The Rollback cp- this is what you use when the aff has a specific program that passed in history- so the aff gives hc to natives and says “this other bill that also gave a different kind of native HC passed a year ago” or something like that. The rollback cp just repeals the specific things the aff is talking about to try and cushion your link U a little bit.

The biggest problem with the “ban all ss” cp is the permutation. So lets look at an example

neg DA- the f99 T-rex will get funded now, buying inhalers for prisoners with asthma will trade off

aff- non unique and no link- the plan costs 5 dollars, we just gave 20 dollars to foodstamp programs

neg- CP- repeal all social services

Aff- permute – do the plan and repeal all other social services- all other SS cost 9 billion dollars, the permutation results in 5 dollars being spent on SS- this is way less than is being spent in the sq- even though more is being spent in a world of the perm than a world of the CP alone, the amount of money spent in the perm is insufficient to trigger the link because the sq spends 9 billion and the link isn’t triggerednow

ASPEC/Agents

An oldie but a goody. If you spent a weekend preparing ASPEC and some agent counterplans really well it would not be time wasted. A lot of these affs will be pretty good vs states but have virtually zero agent defenses- issues that are discussed as important areas of federal action are rarely defended as X federal agent must do it specifically. In a minimalist sense all you need is courts and congress, that way no matter what the aff agent is you will be ready with a CP (and if the aff says “all 3” just cp to do 2 and read a DA to 1). When prepping agents you need to get some bases covered

-solvency blocks

-perm answers- this includes “perm links to 1NC DA”, new DA’s to the perm, and new net benefits that only doing the CP alone solves

-theory

Thats about it. But remember, you don’t need a million of each of these things- you need a few done well. Its better to have a well blocked out with good evidence 30 page hollow hope DA than a giant courts bad file  because you only need to win a reasonable risk of the DA and win the CP solves the case.
Second, employ some critical thinking. I judged about a dozen agent debates this summer where the aff went for “courts don’t solve social change” style arguments without having a single advantage that was predicated on social change. So think about what are the internal links to specific aff advantages and prepare more defense for the ones that might have an agent specific solvency argument.

This is getting a bit long, so in closing here are some arguments that you can look into producing.

-“Middle man” counterplans- these have become more popular in college recently and were big towards the end of the SSA topic. Basically give the stuff to someone, and have them give it to people in poverty. Potential middle men are like NGO’s, religious organizations, the states etc. Net benefits are usually politics and then some arg about why the middle man improves solvency or sometimes an independent net benefit about improving the cred of the middle man. These CP’s often require you to prepare a T argument that says the rez requires the aff to give the SS directly to people in poverty.

-condition counterplans- a few of these got turned out by Umich and I’m sure a million more will get written during the year. They obviously have the benefit of solving the whole case. If you write a good set of generic blocks it will be easy to prepare several things that you can condition on and keep the aff guessing.

-PICS- about time someone dusted off the classics like exclude native americans, shun states who hang the confederate flag etc. But in addition to that there are a lot more relevant topic pics- particularly if the aff is broad or goes to more than 100% of the poverty line. Politics is an easy net benefit to these, as are spending da’s and tradeoff.

Paperless Video Challenge

I got a few emails about paperless this morning and a lot of people have a million basic questions about it. What I plan to do is to create a few short videos (using either camtasia or camstudio you can record whats on your screen) showing the basic processes of paperless templates etc.

However, there are a lot of you who are probably more knowledgeable than I am. So here is the deal:

-create an instructional video for paperless debate- it should be you walking through steps of how to use certain features, while showing them and describing how they work using the software mentioned above

-clips should be 5-10 minutes to keep size down and to maintain focus- so no like 3 hour titanic vids please

-make your video, then upload it to a place like youtube or like blp.tv or whatever you kids are using these days

-in the comments section for this post put the link to your video

Videos will be judged on

-informational value- are instructions clear/easy to understand

-production value- can we see what is going on in your video

The top 3 videos will get a prize. Cash value of 1st prize will be approx 50$ US.

All other contributors will get an autographed  and individually numbered picture of Roy Levkovitz!!*

The contest will run until the end of Labor day weekend.

*Picture is optional, not available in Tennessee.

Some Thoughts on Paperless part 1

Here are a bunch of random thoughts I have had about paperless, comments/suggestions etc. from others who are going to make the jump this summer appreciated.

First, some changes I think would be useful for file production for paperless teams after playing around with it this summer

1. Fonts etc.- I was devastated at my job interview when my soon to be boss blasted my beloved Arial narrow. Apparently lots of studies have been done about fonts and reading comprehension/retention and sans serif fonts score poorly. However, there apparently is also a debate about the best fonts for reading on paper vs on a computer screen. Originally I picked AN because of economy- it takes up a tiny amount of space compared to behemoths like TNR and Garishamond. I adjusted the margins, didn’t put unnecessary spaces or indentations etc in my template in order to save space, not to make it the most reader friendly. But now that space/printing cost isn’t a concern I need to rethink a lot of these conventions. What makes things most readable off of laptop screens (usually small, lower resolution) in a debate round is a lot different from what is most readable on the page. Doing a demo debate this summer I realized that the “reading” view in MS word didn’t fit a “real world” page into its virtual page because of the restrictions of my screen etc. which made it much more annoying to use then had the page fit(the “show print page” feature resulted in an awkward font size). This view also made it more difficult to mark cards then traditional “normal” or word 07 “web” view.  I usually highlight electronically in a dark color because they show up better in when printed in black and white, but that made it more difficult to read on a computer then things highlighted in yellow for me. Conclusions

-Georgia may be the best font for paperless debate

-Spaces between tags/cites/cards may make it easier to orient things quickly ( though I am still against this, this is what some kids told me but I haven’t tried it yet). Similarly indenting card text may help

-It’s less important to fit a card on 1 page but more important to make sure if it is broken up over multiple pages that the jump occurs at a logical break- i.e. not mid sentence

2. File organization

Some traditional file organization concepts I think are a hindrance in paperless. “no one card blocks” is something most kids learn at camp- obviously this is a paper saving technique. With paperless I think it is more important to subdivide things as much as possible even if that results in 1 card blocks.  The way I organized the permits aff last year was like this

AT: Energy Prices

AT: Energy Prices- Volatility link

AT: Energy Prices- Permit Speculation link

and so on. So there was some general cards about energy prices, then responses to the specific links so that a specific answer to the negs card could be read. I think the way I would do it now would be to get even more in depth with more sub divisions like

AT: Energy Prices- Volatility Link- Generic

AT: Energy Prices- Volatility Link-Permits reduce volatility-oil prices

AT: Energy Prices- Volatility Link-Permits reduce volatility- predictability

AT: Energy Prices- Volatility Link-Volatility doesn’t affect overall prices

AT: Energy Prices- Volatility Link-Backstops cushion volatility

Now obviously you could still have a “energy prices” 2AC, and a “volatility 2ac” that were pre selected cards. But more organization gives you the option to get more specific if the round calls for it.

Now related to this, I experimented a bit with what would be the best way to organize files. To look at it in the extremes you could have

1. A big permits aff all in one file- this is what I turned out last year, the idea being kids would go through and “sort it out” how they wanted it.

2. A lot of smaller files for particular arguments, so a 20 page “AT: States CP” file, and then a 20 page “AT: Federalism disad” file etc.

Here are the arguments I see for each side. First, big file

-less word docs to open- seems trivial but definitely something to consider- when I did the demo by the 1AR i had like 20 docs open and flipping between them became cumbersome. Also, the time it takes to find and open an additional word doc is not inconsequential. Say it only takes 3 seconds (it takes more), if you do that 100 times a tournament that’s 5 minutes of prep. So having one big aff file with most of your stuff can make things smoother

-easier to update- one thing about paperless is that you can’t just file away updates, when something changes you need to update the file and then redistribute it to everyone. So if you have 1 big aff file and you cut a new card for each of 20 positions, you just update one file. If you have those things in 20 files everyone on the team needs to replace those 20 files with the new one. Things like dropbox make this easier but still can be a pain for the person who needs to alter all the drop box files.

I think these 2 points overwhelmingly convince me large files are superior. Just think about impact defense. If you have a file for each impact for a given tournament you will need to do so much re-arranging just for uniqueness updates that it will become cumbersome. 1 huge 2k page impact defense file may be a pain to put together at first, but will pay dividends later.

One other thing, in big files I think using acronyms is a useful way to organize, so for example if you are going to have a section answering states CP’s, I would make a header for that section that is like ATSCP- that way you can ctrl f that really quickly and get to it. Using whole words sometimes means you will have to stop several times throughout the file in other places where those words occur before getting to the part you want.

The small file

-cumbersome- you can ctrl f inside a big file, but still finding the particular card you need in a 500+ page file is a pain. I think the benefits outweigh this DA but it is still worth noting.

-Real world- breaking it down into smaller files more closely mimics what people do in the real world now and as such I think people are much more comfortable with it as an approach. Huge files just seem unwieldy/not user friendly.

I can’t really see any other args for the smaller file size and would be interested in hearing what other people think about it.

Next, frontlines. The reason we have front lines now is to save time putting stuff together. They said nuclear terrorism, grab the nuclear terror FL and go. So when we prepare a frontline we try and make a list of our best args against nuclear terrorism, rank them in order and we are done. So the list may look like

1. Technical barriers= no nuke terror

2. No motive- don’t want mass casualties

3. Impossible to smuggle into the country

Now what happens usually is the aff has read some evidence that answers or subsumes some of these arguments (if their advantage is written well). So what I think should happen with paperless is that instead of making a frontline that is a mix of your args, each arg should have its own frontline. So, “technical barriers” would have its own block like

1NC Technical barriers

A. Technical barriers prevent nuclear terrorism

So you read A if the aff ev says nothing about technical barriers. But let’s say the aff read a card that is like “Russian scientists will assist terrorists”. Well usually the neg just reads A anyway cause it’s in their frontline. Then maybe (probably not) in the block they will read an answer to the aff arg proving there are no barriers. I think the frontline should follow (A) with sort of a escalating level of cards that answer common aff args, so it would be like

B. Technical barriers include bomb making and fissile material acquisition

So ok, the aff said russian scientists would help them build it. Instead of reading a card “it’s hard to build a bomb” move on to B and read a better more detailed card about technical barriers. So instead of organizing by “quality” of evidence, organize by complexity of argument- so if the aff read a short stupid adv with no warrants, respond with a shorter less warranted card. if they read a longer more detailed adv, get rid of your short crappy cards and read an in depth one. “good ” and “bad” are I think less useful as categories because you should never have “bad”evidence anymore. So much is out there freely available that there are no excuses.  Usually debates develop poorly because teams read blocks and don’t engage the other sides warrants. So paperless to me seems like a good time to try and push for a paradigm shift here. The reasons we have used the traditional frontline structure are to save time and paper, going paperless eliminates these factors.

This is similar for 2AC blocks. Every time a student at camp or during the year sends me a 2AC block with numbers I immediately try and dissuade them from having this sort of formulaic approach. Debaters should start preparing blocks that are more modular. So to answer the states CP you shouldn’t have 1 block, you should have many argument modules that you can pick from based on the evidence/arguments read by the other side. The benefits to this are

-better /more responsive 2AC

-harder to scout/prepare to debate you

-argument flexibility

etc.

Since you are constructing a 2AC block in every debate in the same manner as you used to construct them before tournaments you can also just save them so if you debate the same team/strategy again you have it all ready.

3. Tech

I’m not sold on the paperless template that uses the speech.doc being better then ctrl c+ctrlv, and in fact in my experience its much slower/more cumbersome. Now granted, I have award winning cut and paste skills- but even for the less word hot key nimble of you out there I just don’t see how this process is less time consuming. Here is what I did when I debated paperless:

1. As off case args were read, I made a header for each one on a new sheet

2. After making header, i alt+tab back to aff file, found cards, ctrl c, alt tab, looked for header, ctrl v

After doing this, I had very little need to move things around within the new document. This seemed much simpler than the speech.doc route to me anyway. I guess the big adv of speech.doc is if you are sending things from a million docs and have way to many word docs open for easy alt tabing. But I also flowed on the computer and had a timer on the computer so being an alt tab ninja was a requirement from the get go.

Also, this paperless debate thing seems to me to make a mouse with extra programmable buttons a necessity. Esp with speech.doc where there are a million macros, more buttons makes the process a lot easier to do quickly.

Another random note, the way laptops seem to be moving is toward widescreen displays. It seems to me that we should change our files from “portrait” to “landscape” to avoid losing a lot of screen real estate/fit more on one page/make it easier to read things- particularly with long cards.

Mistake Free Debating

Having come back from debate camp and judged approximately 25 or so debates in the last 4 or so weeks I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to HS debate.  I’ve always had the motto and constantly tell my kids before their debates to debate “mistake free.”  While this request often falls on deaf ears and usually sounds so logical as to be ignored I think it’s something that’s worth thinking about.

Mistake free debating is not synonymous with debating well or good debating.  While mistake free debating is a necessary condition for good debating, mistake free debating is not sufficient to be good debating.  Mistake free debating as it sounds is the absence of easily correctable and often times costly errors that contribute to losing a debate.  Whereas good debating is not only avoiding making such mistakes but also involves taking it a step further in out debating, out arguing and out skilling your opponent.  In HS a majority of debates are won and lost not due to one team out debating the other team but due to one team capitalizing on the costly mistakes their opponents have made.  I would say that if you were not a “great” debater or even a “really good debater” but debated as mistake free as you could, you’d likely win 10-20 more debates over the course of a season which seems pretty significant.

So what is mistake free debating?  I’ll make a list of some of the more common errors I see debate in and debate out that cost teams rounds

1.)    Dropped arguments- this drives me nuts.  This is probably one of the biggest contributors to losses that it deserves subsections.  I’ll just rant here.  Flowing is the most fundamental aspect of this activity.  If one cannot respond to their opponents arguments how do they expect to win?  I see flowing errors and lack of flowing skills at all levels.  This is an easy one to practice, have one person read cards, you flow, keep good spacing in your flows, leave room for overviews, circle/star/highlight/box/ whatever key args like theory args, voting issues etc.   If you don’t understand an argument do the same box/circle thing,  don’t just let it sit there on the line by line.  Other things that fall within the purview of dropped args is missing add ons, etc.

2.)    Kicking out of disads and cps properly- You all are horrible at kicking stuff.  Take a second and think of the args you can concede, and think about its interrelation to other flow args.  Does econ decline inevitable on inflation mess with your politics da’s impact?  Does extending N/U sound like a good idea when there are link turns too?

3.)    Reading the wrong card / block / whatever.  2ac’s do this constantly on t blocks, negatives do this on case args and U and Impacts for the disad.   It takes a little more attention but c’mon now.  Read the right block for goodness sake.  Step 1 right blocks, step 2 read correct blocks.

While this list is just preliminary and by no means comprehensive you can see how all of these things add up to costly losses and easy wins for your opponents.  Avoid making these errors and your record will improve drastically even if you’re not making better arguments, cutting more cards or doing the other things that help make you a good or great debater.

Norms Regarding Disclosure: Citations or Full Text?

There is an interesting discussion occurring on the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association Forum (the successor to the long-running and incomparable MN Debate Web) about the debate community’s norms regarding disclosure of citations. Dan Kauppi, the debate coach at Eden Prairie High School, proposes that the existing norm in favor of disclosure of citations be replaced with a norm in favor of disclosure of the full text of evidence.

Here’s an open question for the community: Why is it a convention that teams should be obligated to give cites to their opponents after a round, but not the full text of the cards?

If we believe in open exchanges of evidence that has already been used in the interests of improving the quality of future debates, why do we force each other’s squads to go through the time waste and hassle of finding the original source materials when it’s just as easy to copy and paste the card in its entirety as it is to send someone “Smith, ‘Article Name,’ 76 Journal of Expensive Access 274, 1993?” To the extent that disclosure of evidence previously used is beneficial (increases equity, allows for more in depth debate and preparation and research), those advantages are much better accessed by just handing over the evidence.

While some might not be persuaded by the “it takes too much time to look up” argument, figuring that part of the value of the debate is in learning research skills (regardless of how tedious that may be), I think another more serious issue is one of resource access. Lending privileges at university libraries, access to journals, Westlaw, and/or Lexis are all extraordinarily expensive and out of reach for most squads.

I’m not so concerned with cites that just have a webpage attached, but in my experience a lot of teams purposely cite to difficult sources (and I’ve seen camp lectures this year where the instructors tell students to choose sources that are hard to look up). A norm which includes cite disclosure but doesn’t require card disclosure really makes research unnecessarily difficult when you have expensive database access, and impossible when you don’t.

A very easy solution to implement would just be the purchase of a simple sheetfed scanner to be used after the round for whatever relevant evidence the debaters want for later examination. In addition to solving all the problems I mentioned above, it would save the requesting team the time and delay of waiting for opponents to fulfill requests for cites, and save those getting the requests the hassle of fulfilling them.

The responses to Kauppi’s initial post have been varied but mostly against the proposed change in norms. Do you have an opinion either way regarding this issue? Should teams be willing to share the full text of evidence they have read in debates instead of just a citation? Please take a look at the MDTA thread and share your thoughts.

Some more Poverty Topic Books

I got this hoping it would be a sick positive peace book, on that front it was severely lacking. However, it does have AMAZING aff on the military tradeoff disad- including specific answers to just about every weapons platform. If you want to run the DA on the neg, tracking down the people it quotes before attacking could be worthwhile.
2.

Freedom from Poverty As a Human Right: Who Owes What to the Very Poor?

Some pretty good aff K answers or fodder for critical affs about obligation/capitalism etc.

3.

Postmodern Welfare: Reconstructing an Emancipatory Project

`This is an original and challenging book about the prospects for welfare in the context of a postmodern global economy. In a searching analysis, Peter Leonard raises key questions about the ways in which the Left might respond to this context through a reflexive politics of resistance. In so doing, he charts a careful course towards reconstructing an emancipatory project for welfare, a course which rejects both the sceptical pessimism of much postmodernist thought and the utopian optimism which characterised much traditional Left politics. The book deserves to be read widely and to be actively debated by all those committed to the development of human welfare in progressive directions’ – John Harris, University of Warwick

Yea- as above- pretty good aff and maybe some good neg pov k business- seems to be featured in the DDI pov K/biopower file.

4.

Transforming Social Work Practice: Postmodern Critical Perspectives

I checked this out after like the 9 millionth T gotta be social workers debate I judged. Some pretty interesting aff for the K if your case deals in any way with social workers.

Evidence and Intellectual Honesty

I have recently decided that some evidence read in debates, while not being “unethical” as in cut out of context, cut in middle of paragraph, or totally fabricated, is still intellectually dishonest to read. I have certainly cut many cards that do the things I am about to list in the past, but I will from now on be discouraging my teams from reading them.

1. Hypotheticals- these are cards where an author says something like “collapse of the economy could have many ramifications, such as these 5 in particular”. They then go on to list from 1-5 in order of terribleness the things that could happen as a result of economic collapse. Usually when a debater reads this article they cut no 1 (the least bad) as impact defense, then cut no 5 (the worst) as an impact and move one.  Sometimes the author will also assign probabilities to things (with the worst case scenario often having the lowest probability), but even if they don’t I don’t think it is “honest” to cut a piece of evidence like this and tag it as if the author is making a causal claim- economic collapse –> worst case scenario.  I think people do this because they don’t think its as bad as cutting a straw person card, something along the lines of “while the author doesn’t think this is the MOST likely outcome, it is still a likely outcome, and since they don’t proceed to argue against this later (as they would with a straw person) it is acceptable to cut as a card.” The reason I think this is unacceptable is that while the other team could respond with the card that says “this is unlikely” it is obviously impossible to have these cards ahead of time for every possible impact. The only way teams get them is when an impact card rises to a level of sufficient popularity that it is well known and people look into it. These sort of “surprise” strategies (like terrible 1 round affs) I am conflicted about – I don’t really take the extreme Roy Levkovitz position that they are awful for the activity, but I am certainly moving in that direction.

2. Misrepresenting internal links- The example of this that sticks out most in my mind from this summer is the broadband aff’s answers to the states cp. The plan would be like “provide poor people broadband” and the neg would say “the states can do that”. The aff would then respond with a slew of cards about why the federal government was the best at doing XYZ, none of which were the plan. Instead XYZ would be things related to the advantage, like “the USFG best responds to bioterror” or “only the USFG can can coordinate something that isn’t the plan” etc. I have a few thoughts about this

-I feel this is less bad then the example above becuase here the negative could definitely read the affs card ( and in most cases the un-underlined parts of it) and figure out that the aff is pulling a fast one. However, this does require the neg to know a little bit about what the aff does, and to be pretty smart. I don’t think those are “unreasonable” requirements, and in a college elim I would have no qualms voting against the neg for not being able to do that. But in a HS debate between a couple of sophomores who are new to the activity, trying to balance debate with academics and a sport etc and just aren’t that used to picking things apart logically, I think this is a lot bigger problem when the aff does it.

-The states CP is ridiculous- I acknowledge this sometimes requires the aff to push the boundaries when researching answers. The pressures created by absurd counterplans often force the aff to do absurd things. I guess I am starting to feel like the remedy should just be calling out shenanigans and not re-raising with shenanigans of your own. Another good example of this is like spark/wipeout- nuclear war good and extinction good- killer arguments. In order to respond to them , however, most affs get pushed into reading ridiculous crap instead of just saying “this is stupid,these authors are clinically insane” and moving on. I don’t know if its the cult of offense defense or if its that there are so many weirdos in debate for which arguments like these push their buttons in the right way because they are exciting and out there, but it would certainly be difficult to explain to someone in the administration or outside of debate why these things have a place in the activity that is allegedly founded on reasonable arguments. I know I know I’m starting to sound like one of those old fogies in the judges lounge complaining about modern debate, but I think that modern debate is obviously better than older crappier debate and this kind of crap makes it harder to intellectually defend.

-Interpretation- I realize there is no objective authority on whether or not there is an internal link and if there was one it would probably not be me. There is clearly not a black and white dividing line here. I don’t really know how to establish a standard or guideline that would make sense so this may be a useless rant. I do know that whether the states or fg provide you with the cables for broadband does not determine who responds to a bioterror attack.

3. Cards that do not actually say extinction – when I was in highschool there was not this fixation with extinction that there is now. Winning your impact was nuke war was generally good enough. I think this is around the same time the “timeframe probability magnitude” mantra got started up (although this may have been prominent in college and the HS national circuit before I had any exposure to it). Somehow this magnitude thing just pushed us over the edge into absurdity. Mead in 92, Kzhad 95, etc etc do not make extinction claims. Thats not a bad thing- certainly a global nuclear exchange is still going to ruin the average persons day. But the proliferation of things like Alexander 03 and other cards that say like “destroy civilization” or “damage the systems that sustain life” (which also, for the record, do not say x causes extinction) have put pressure on people to trump up already weak impact claims into extinction. Lets get a few things straight

-there are few, if any, things that would actually kill every single person on the planet

-comparing an impact that kills everyone vs one that kills all but 2 is an exercise in futility and extremely stupid. This may be an exaggeration but it is close to what happens in many debates.

-it is much more important to focus on the probability of your impact than on the absurd magnitude unless the other side is not making any defensive arguments against it.

-the “disad” turns the case is different than “war” turns the case- what i mean is this: if you read the cap and trade good politics disad and the aff has an economy scenario, it is a good idea to say “cap and trade is key to the economy”, that turns the case. This is good because if you lose your original impact or have it mitigated you can have another backup impact argument to go with it. Saying “war hurts the economy” is useless- it presupposes you have already won 100% of your war impact- if that is true you are probably going to win anyway because nuclear war is bad. So the first argument has utility- as a backup plan. The 2nd argument is borderline useless. The second argument has come to prominence I think from when then the 2 teams are arguing totally disparate impacts, like say the aff says disease and the neg says war. If the aff says “war doesn’t cause extinction/escalate”- then it is useful to say “war causes disease”- that is a good argument to make. However, when the aff reads X internal link to Y random war scenario, saying “war causes Y” is stupid, because the impact to Y is war. So you have effectively said “War is bad, because the impact is war”.

Live From The University of Michigan Summer Institute Tournament

2009 University of Michigan Camp Tournament Results

Double-Octafinals:
01. 7WKS Ana/Helen (aff) d. 32. 7WKJ Nikhil/Tej [3-0 Phillips, S. Tietjen, J. Goren, S.]
02. 7WKJ Maggie/Mustafa (aff) d. 31. 7WKJ Ben/James [2-1 Tallungan, C. *Zimmer, A. Allan, E.]
03. 7WKS Brad/Lewis (aff) d. 30. 7WKJ Max/Nadeem [3-0 Watts, N. Layton, A. Sam, K.]
04. 7WKS Matthew/Max (aff) d. 29. 7WKJ Jonathan/Tatsuro [3-0 Clark, J. Elkind, D. Goldberg, A.]
05. 7WKJ Daniel/Ellis (aff) d. 28. 7WKS Grace/Trusha [2-1 Ho, I. *Levkovitz, R. Overbeek, D.]
27. 7WKS Brett/Tracey (neg) d. 06. 7WKS Kevin/Misael [2-1 *Cholera, K. Beyer, T. Holmgren]
07. 7WKS Katie/Megan (neg) d. 26. 7WKJ Ann/Sam [2-1 Whitmore, W. Gjerpen, K. *Moore, J.]
25. 7WKJ Drew/Will (neg) d. 08. 7WKJ Kush/Nikhil [3-0 Harrigan, C. Gliniecki, T. Chlistunoff, M.]
24. 7WKJ Cara/Kaitlyn (neg) d. 09. 7WKJ Alex/Mitchell [2-1 *Sathian, A. Molinaro, M. Batterman]
10. 7WKJ Matt/Ricardo (aff) d. 23. 7WKJ Julia/Stephanie [2-1 Polin, J. *Inamullah, O. Knoedler, T.]
11. 7WKJ Robert/Zach (neg) d. 22. 7WKS David/Kurt [3-0 Neal, T. Kirsch, S. Peterson, S.]
12. 7WKJ Michael/Pablo (neg) d. 21. 7WKJ Jonathan/Lee [2-1 Lai, D. *Lawson, J. Wunderlich]
20. 7WKS Jack/John (aff) d. 13. 7WKJ Ish/Sanj [3-0 Keenan, D. Mehling, B. Deming, K.]
14. 7WKS Akum/Carl (neg) d. 19. 7WKS Flora/Nadia [2-1 Murray, A. Jegadeesh *Sienkiewicz, M.]
18. 7WKJ Ayush/Julia (neg) d. 17. 7WKS Alyssa/Richard [2-1 Hoe, J. *Nierman, R. Brooks, H.]
16. 7WKS Jaret/Nick (neg) d. 15. 7WKS Tim/Zach [3-0 Swenson, M. Ryan, C. Eyzaguirre, G.]

Octafinals:
01. 7WKS Ana/Helen (aff) d. 16. 7WKS Jaret/Nick [2-1 Tallungan, C. *Mehling, B. Moore, J.]
02. 7WKJ Maggie/Mustafa (neg) d. 18. 7WKJ Ayush/Julia [2-1 Phillips, S. Gjerpen, K. *Lawson, J.]
03. 7WKS Brad/Lewis (neg) d. 14. 7WKS Akum/Carl [2-1 Neal, T. *Gliniecki, T. Wunderlich]
04. 7WKS Matthew/Max (neg) d. 20. 7WKS Jack/John [3-0 Brooks, H. Beyer, T. Eyzaguirre, G.]
05. 7WKJ Daniel/Ellis (neg) d. 12. 7WKJ Michael/Pablo [3-0 Gupta, A. Harrigan, C. Inamullah, O.]
27. 7WKS Brett/Tracey (aff) d. 11. 7WKJ Robert/Zach [2-1 Keenan, D. *Layton, A. Knoedler, T.]
10. 7WKJ Matt/Ricardo (neg) d. 07. 7WKS Katie/Megan [3-0 Watts, N. Deming, K. Kirsch, S.]
24. 7WKJ Cara/Kaitlyn (aff) d. 25. 7WKJ Drew/Will [3-0 Swenson, M. Murray, A. Elkind, D.]

Quarterfinals:
01. 7WKS Ana/Helen (neg) d. 24. 7WKJ Cara/Kaitlyn [3-0 Levkovitz, R. Polin, J. Cronin, P.]
02. 7WKJ Maggie/Mustafa (neg) d. 10. 7WKJ Matt/Ricardo [3-0 Batterman Cholera, K. Tallungan, C.]
03. 7WKS Brad/Lewis (aff) d. 27. 7WKS Brett/Tracey [3-0 Whitmore, W. Clark, J. Keenan, D.]
05. 7WKJ Daniel/Ellis (neg) d. 04. 7WKS Matthew/Max [3-0 Phillips, S. Liu, M. Wunderlich]

Semifinals:
05. 7WKJ Daniel/Ellis (aff) d. 01. 7WKS Ana/Helen [3-0 Batterman Whitmore, W. Levkovitz, R.]
02. 7WKJ Maggie/Mustafa (neg) d. 03. 7WKS Brad/Lewis [3-0 Peterson, S. Cholera, K. Clark, J.]

Finals:
02. 7WKJ Maggie/Mustafa (neg) d. 05. 7WKJ Daniel/Ellis [2-1 *Lai, D. Batterman Liu, M.]

Classic Breakout Quarterfinals:
01. CLP Jane/Willis d. 08. BT Chloe/He
07. CW Isaac/Kendall d. 02. CLP Joe/Shannon
03. AP Finn/Matt d. 06. AP Ben/Patrick
05. CLP Shyam/Valaria d. 04. CLP Chloe/Sam

Classic Breakout Semifinals:
05. CLP Shyam/Valaria d. 01. CLP Jane/Willis
07. CW Isaac/Kendall d. 03. AP Finn/Matt

Classic Breakout Finals:
05. CLP Shyam/Valaria d. 07. CW Isaac/Kendall [2-1 Jegadeesh, *Keenan, Wunderlich]

Top Individual Speakers:
01. Matthew Pesce – Woodward
02. Misael Gonzalez – Whitney Young
03. Daniel Taylor – Westminster
04. Magan Cambre – Chattahoochee
05. Ana Dimitrijevic – Carrollton Sacred Heart
06. Ayush Dayal – Westminster
07. Ellis Allen – Westminster
08. Robert Baldwin – Kinkaid
09. Maggie Davis – Chattahoochee
10. Alex Pappas – Glenbrook North

Bill Batterman Birthday

Please Wish Bill a happy birthday.

Without Bill’s hard work this site would literally not exist, he is definitely one of the biggest debate dorks I know (a good thing) and he constantly contributes to the activity.

Happy Birthday Bill

Roy