I didn't judge or watch any of the debates that took place. I have less to muse about than usual. RR's are funny because there is so much of the tournament you don't have to directly care about on that weekend given the pairings. But here is the story from my point of view.
New Affs went 4-2. Pretty good, but not a blowout. Three treaties, two trade and a deference. If you were sitting on an INF Aff the cat is out of the bag. One T 2NR went Aff. Dartmouth read what one would consider a big treaty Aff. We read "arms control treaties." Emory read just INF. The trade and deference Affs were small. Prep accordingly! With these small ass Affs + the logic of operational changes + the logic behind the sanctions good Affs it is going to be the wild wild west the rest of the semester.
Politics DA's suck. No 2NR was an agenda DA. 2020 lost. Court politics went 1-1. Yuck. I am curious to see how Neg teams will innovate given the above trend and how unreliable politics is.
Old Affs are still pretty good going 3-1 on the weekend.
Oklahoma had a 1NC that had a Calum, Lundberg and Ben Meiches card in it. That was pretty funny.
It snowed like a foot It sucked. Hopefully NU avoids such a fate.
Dartmouth hosts a good event, very enjoyable.
1. Regional Debate is Fun for Rivalries
One of the many virtues of regional debate is that the fields are smaller. That means the odds of debating a team of similar caliber to you in the prelims and elims greatly increases. National tournaments are not a reliable way to get head to heads against any particular team. It helps that regional tournaments are usually inter-district affairs so you have that rivalry angle as well. I think debates are a bit more fun when the teams have some familiarity and try to throw team specific curveballs at one another.
2. Pre Round Prep
Few things here. One, the prep for every debate should be the same. Two, there should not be an hour of prep before round 1 and 5. Push back start times and let people sleep. Three, regional tournaments should do thirty minutes of prep before a debate.
3. How Many Rounds Should Regional Tournaments Be?
One school of thought when looking at tournaments is a "bang for your buck" school. They take how much a tournament costs, divide it by how many rounds they get and the smaller the number the better.
That's not an unreasonable way of going about things, but there are other virtues that could be maximized. One is making debate feel like less of slog. In that spirit I propose regionals be 6 rounds and break to octas unless they exceed 44 teams. This could let you do a pretty chill 3-3-4 schedule which is pretty nice.
The reason 3-3-4 is because it creates chill days for everyone and a normal length day just for those two teams who make it to finals. Schedules should always be slanted this way where benefits are spread to everyone in the prelims and elim days are longer for the teams that make the finals. It's fine, one of them will get a trophy at the end.
Alternatively, you can do a 6 round schedule that maximizes people's ability to not miss class. Tournaments that start on Saturday avoid Friday classes (since we are talking regional tournament and the participants will mostly be driving). Then you could do 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 where most elims are over on Sunday (if you only break to octas) and people can go home if needed.
I am just saying, I went to MBA and they did 3-3-4 and it was pretty deece.
4. Open Source, Let's Be Real
First, we all knew who got to what first. MSU read Scarry 14 at GSU. Northwestern said this NDAA solvency deficit thing first even including the weird do you read or not read the bill part of the block. So like we know where shit comes from.
Second, people take other people's shit. That's fine. That's how it is supposed to go. If we collectively decide that the best answer to ESR is NFU operational changes + NDAA solvency deficit + NOT reading the text of the bill out loud so be it.
HOWEVER, can we PLEASE stop fronting with the citations. I see two ways out of this dilemma. One, we can all format cards the same so things more seamlessly go in each other's files and it doesn't create eye sores. Or two, just copy and paste the card and own up to you didn't get it first.
I would also accept having to say thank you after you read the tag of a card you copy and pasted. That would be pretty funny too.
5. Spicing Up Debate
Another fun part of regional debate is it is less of a death march and people float ideas a lot more. One topic of conversation was making debate more fun by making one change to it.
Example that is pretty realistic---elim debates settled by challenges. Emporia State still does this I think. I haven't heard much first hand feedback but the idea sounds awesome.
You get all 32 seeds in a room and the top seed gets to call out who they want to debate. Then you do that a bunch. And just keep doing that every elim.
My idea---there is a quota on how often you can read an argument. So you can read ESR but only in two thirds of your NEG debates or w/e. It would be great
a. variety is the spice of life
b. if you take someone's trade Aff and your opponents take someone's trade Neg due to open source that is fine, but like you have to read other shit eventually. If open source arrives at "solutions" to best versions of things then people should be forced to branch out.
c. AT---I am a small school, you suck for proposing an idea that is more work. I don't have a good answer really. There is really no redistribution to make the game equitable for small schools now and this is a symmetrical rule so how bad could it be in practice? idk.
6. Longest CP on Record
MSU read one that was 298 words. That seemed pretty long to me. There were no repetitive phrases either. Word efficiency was trying to be maximized. Not sure what the longest one on record is. Let me know before Buntin goes on some rant about CP's back in his day were like 750 words and had 12 DA's to go with them and something about peaches too.
I didn't participate in Arms Sales vs. Nukes. People made the obvious observation the wording on the nukes topic was broad and presumed that was always a bad thing. My experience with nukes topics is its literature base is so good it's fine if everyone has to research every side of everything. Debaters will be better for it and the lit supports it. Just felt like that should be said out loud.
The objection that college is doing nukes stuff now is harder to answer, but more a personal preference thing than a damning critique. To each their own. Not really here nor there since nukes lost, but I didn't see that strong a case for arms sales in its own right.
Given the experience on education and immigration (and topics in general probably, but the last two years really stand out in my mind) there are going to be some serious knee jerk reactions to a topic like this.
Answers to your burning questions:
1. Should you read framing pages?----NO
2. Will there be NEG arguments?----Yes, defense industrial base, fill in, interoperability, relations, condition CP's. That's a fine base.
Did you know there are a lot of cards about who is in charge of this shit between State, Defense and Commerce? Did you know that will produce ground for both sides? You didn't?? Did you come up with an opinion on a subject you don't know anything about anyway??? You did!? Great!!
3. But like is this good NEG ground?----The last two topics have demonstrated that people don't know reasonable arguments if it bit them on the ass so I can't really say. Look at your 1NC's from the last two years. If you are three T violations, an agent CP and three politics DA kid. . .burn your tub, start over and actually go where the cards take you. The issue hasn't been the topics, it has been you.
4. What about the AFF though?----Will always find a way. They'll read some link uniqueness, everyone will think all DA's are dead and people will go for the K or something.
Once we get past the point where some folks read T violations (always referenced by the author name of the random card, never by the word defined) that tries to get people to be multiple countries at once, the Neg loses that gambit and we settle in for like 3-6 countries that have intrinsic US advantages everything will be fine.
So don't worry folks, focus on still figuring out immigration (the parole CP I think has turned some people's brains into pudding) and just leave your preconceived notions that are informed from the last two topics behind you when you get to this one.
1. Debaters handing judges their computer to type in emails.
Yuck. No thanks. Not really a time saver. Don't know where your computer has been. Most judges have this information in their philosophies now. Just copy and paste it.
2. Pausing the debate for marked cards.
A few things are going on. One, people are reasonable at declaring marks, but don't actually mark anything in the speech. That is bad. Two, other team always says "can we get the marks?" no matter what. Never impacts cross-x, seldom comes up speeches.
I feel like this is a classic debate copycat thing like asking "Is anyone not ready?" Debaters don't care about the marks, but hey I have legitimate grounds to say it so why not?
The remedy is that the prep timer should keep running for the team that marked cards. They should do it in the speech so all they have to do is save and resend instead of this thing where all the marks happen when the clock is not running. Ultimately it is the fault of the team with the marks, but the opponents demanding marks and it never mattering is annoying.
3. Three advantages in the 1AC is optimal
One plus framing is terrible (more on that later). Three stems is harder for the NEG to deal with than two even if two advantages may end up with more terminal impacts from time to time. I don't have a very comprehensive reason for this, but think it is right.
4. Critical Affs with terminal impacts
No good. Policies being ableist is a good enough reason to reject them. You don't need to solve broader ableism or say Islamophobia justifies genocide. These structures are bad. Eliminating a policy that is an example of those bad structures doesn't get rid of the structures. None of these Affs institutes a mechanism that could cause broad structural change. But it is ok because these impacts claims are unnecessary! The policy is bad enough in its own right.
5. Open Source is Good
The MBA tournament does a tournament wide Dropbox that collects and shares all the documents at the tournament. This is a cool feature that is obviously difficult to achieve at larger tournaments with less minions running around.
It is very hard to emphasize enough how different high school debate could be with better wiki practices. A baseline would be having people get closer to having entries for each of their debates. High school falls woefully short of this standard.
The next thing is that people only post 1AC and 1NC's. This combined with people posting only cites leads to very shallow understanding before tournaments and debates. I have never found the pro-cites argument that compelling because you are free to look up people's open source card and googling article titles doesn't reall teach you that much about doing searches. Reading articles and figuring out what words people use does which open source facilitates.
Let's breakdown this cites only thing more and why it is not as good as open source:
a. Forcing other people to look up the original is none of your business, it is their problem if they are depriving themselves the debate training associated with going through the motions.
b. Round reports solve figuring out rounds at a glance. Or you could do open source and cites.
c. People stealing cards is outweighed by other consideratons. Why post cites at all? Transparency is a thing, just a question of degree. Open source improves equity because the schools that benefit disproportionately are the ones with less resources, AND this is actually a mechanism by which people are incentivized to stay on the bleeding edge because arguments depreciate faster so you have to do more work to have an advantage.
But what posting cites does do, especially in high school, is create a transaction cost that prevents people from engaging with evidence at all and being ignorant of the depth of a given a position. The result is people take everything at face value and only focus on the tags of arguments. This is obviously a terrible result.
So people should stop being scared and do open source. It will make debate so much better.
6. Framing pages are still bad
Over the last two years many high school squads have decided to read 1AC's that contain framing pages. I do not think I have seen one of these be the most strategic way to deploy a given Aff over that time. Let's go through it.
One claim forwarded on these pages is util bad. This is always quickly abandoned when forwarded. I wouldn't say this argument is super popular, but everytime it comes up it is jettisoned very fast.
A second kind of claim is about probability. This generally is supported by evidence relating to cognitive biases and decision making. One main issue with this style of argument is that while DA's might link more the Aff probably links sufficiently. Imperfect information, an uncertain future and policymaking always make for a problematiccombination. These cards are usually broad enough to indict the fallibility of decision making in general, not just "DA logic."
A second issue is that these considerations usually beg the question of the DA proper. The link to the DA might be pretty intrinsic, or r the subsequent debating might make the DA risk high. In either case this bias argument is too conditional to put in a 1AC.
The third issue is it tradesoff with a better class of argument. The big idea behind a claim like this revolves around threat exaggeration. But the main issue with threat construction and immigration policy is not the conjunctive fallacy. It is other stuff. But no on reads cards about the media, or people profiting off alarmism or ideology. They just read this damn conjunctive fallacy stuff and it always sucks.
A third claim is no war or something. This has always been a not great argument, but I can't believe people claim this after 2016. Don't know if you are aware but Trump is president and has released like a million policy documents about why great power competition with Russia and China is a big deal. Also, surprisingly, the NEG can read not war impacts as a DA impact. Also when your Aff impacts at best tens of thousands of people the Neg doesn't have to necessarily get to a war that involves Russia, China and the US nuking each other to outweigh. 175k people died in Iraq since 2003.
Affs should be doing two things mainly:
1. Describe a logic of policy making that informs/shapes/led to the policy you are getting rid of and say we need new frames of understanding. Neolib, security, racism. . .whatever. Say justificatons matter. Say this logic leads to threat exaggeration in x, y, z, way. That means the DA is suspect for hopefully more empirical reasons + CP's are worse because their justifications are all wrong ( but not omg you have a net benefit ergo you link to our nonexistent 1AC K).
Example---lots of law reviews write this kind of stuff with respect to equal protection cases---can’t justify originally racist policies by retroactively making up justifications. This can sort of be deployed as an AFF intrinsicness argument. For instance if an AFF gets rid of a racist inadmissibility standard, and the NEG says doing that would increase the population, this type of claim could support a re-raise that says, yes you are right, but if you are a policymaker trying to limit the population, inadmissibility standards are a very silly way to do that when you can set numerical caps, so population control cannot be an argument for retaining this particular restriction.
2. Establish some sort of framework that reduces the salience of politics and backlash arguments. This is obviously the most useful if you picked your Aff to minimize DA ground in the first place.
Doing these two things would make the entire 1AC relevant across many pieces of paper and it would make the Neg reckon with 8 minutes of arguments instead of 3.
7. MBA=Best Trophies in the Game
A lot of the tournaments I have been too have really strong trophies. I like St. Marks and the Texas plaques. I like the Glenbrooks and their big classy trophies (but this may just start at semifinals, I can't remember). But the bells are just too good. They look great and they make noise. They are fun and classy. They draw eyes on a trophy shelf/case better than others. The cannons for octafinals are also really strong. Tournaments don't usually hook up that level of elim.
I am Lincoln, head coach at UK and coach with Montgomery Bell Academy. This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.