No long introduction for this one. Saying things candidly and in public still makes me laugh and boy oh boy is this post going to be candid.
1. Spectrum of Nukes AFFs
A handful of mechanisms exist to restrict first use authority. They are not all the same. They are not all NFU. You can’t read NFU good cards if your plan is not NFU. Thank you for coming to this Ted talk that should be appropriate for 4th graders, not necessary for college people.
2. Restrictions now cards are bad
That Donnelley card sucks, says nothing. It does not implicate war powers. Broader inter-branch conflict arguments are obviously heading into rocky waters with a Democratic House. But saying “things are happening now/checks on Trump” doesn’t necessarily implicate the office of the President or foreign policy in a super negative way like NEG cards describe.
AFFs should have real cards about this or stop wasting their time.
3. Day 1 schedule sucked.
Too much downtime. What did you actually do during round 2 prep that went on for what felt like 2 hours? Never been a lunch before 11AM person but reasonable people can disagree. Do enjoy 40-45 mins pre-round. It takes too much time to move and get everyone settled before the real stuff begins. Day 2 schedule seemed more reasonable (minus the part about gathering outside in 30 degree weather at 10PM).
4. 2:15 decision time always
It is REALLY good. I like the extra hour it gives. I like how it could force debaters to manage their time more carefully with post round docs and silly breaks. I like knowing things faster. I think a lot of judges in the status quo get done somewhere between 2:15 and 2:30. Not a lot are deciding in the 2:00 to 2:15 range. So feeling like you go to decision time with 2:15 is weird when you never decide under 2:30, I get that. But I don’t think that necessarily means you are being rushed.
If debaters tighten up and judges do a little more focusing in the round and break the habit of endlessly going back and forth when the decision arrow has been pointing to one team since 5 minutes after the 2AR ended, I think debate will be better for it.
I think this was pretty successful for the first go. Thank you to everyone who participated and was diligent about adding this to their routine. Hopefully, debaters had to type fewer emails and fewer people came up to them pre-round. Hopefully, coaches had to do less walking around pre-round to get on threads. Hopefully, squads had access to some information they didn’t normally have.
If you want to join all you have to do is make sure your wiki is up-to-date then email me.
Folks who are already in, please ensure your wiki is up to date! That resource should not suffer.
I will say one thing that was suboptimal. Participating teams always sent out stuff when they were AFF, but it was more dicey when they were NEG. NEG teams should feel fine asking 1A’s to put whomever on the email chain. Do it more! Be bold! You already have to give them your email! I want all the docs not just most of the docs.
News flash to teams that don’t really use the wiki, asked if this was the PRL, said this was surveillance, or said they only like sending cards to people in the debate… if someone wants to beat you, they are going to get your docs. You can create transaction costs which is annoying, but ultimately that strategy will not stop people from getting your docs.
The only thing that strategy accomplishes is reducing your access to the same amount of information as people in debatedocs. I get a lot of threads. I know a lot about people’s arguments. I did not go seeking out a single thread that was not in debatedocs. That could be you too for the low, low cost of not being a coward and being more transparent with your arguments.
6. Say more not less
When you are AFF and someone is breaking a new-ish argument against you and your answers are not that hot, do you think you should say more or say less on those pages? Most people say less when the obvious answer is to say more. Spam whatever you gotta do. Different impact defense args, impact uq, add-ons that don’t really have to do with anything but crowd the page, way more analytics, etc.
7. Path dependency is a problem
Somewhat related, when you are NEG and read a new argument you do not have to go for it. If you put something in the 1NC you should be confident going for it. You should be even more confident if the 2AC makes 4 answers or fewer. Does that lead to weird blocks where you are talking about striking aliens and fusion power or consulting NATO and war powers? Yes, it does. Is it easier to win with that block if the AFF takes the advice above and spams all over your new thing and functionally drops positions? Yes.
8. Ayush, CP’s and New AFFs
Let’s fucking talk about this. Harvard CM has had a new AFF read on them 4 times. Kentucky Rule of 2 AFF, Cal conflict of interest AFF, Indiana psychological evaluation AFF and Kansas South Korea tariffs AFF.
The last one being a trade AFF where they just go for the cap K every time (despite having a team that reads a trade AFF, weird.), in the other 3 1NC’s there was a total of 11 CP’s (4, 2, 5). How many of these CP’s made it into the block? TEN OF THEM. He kicked one CP in the block against Indiana and that was it. How many cards were there total for these CP’s? I think 4 or something.
Harvard is 4-0 against new AFFs this year by my count. Not my Plutonic ideal of beating a new AFF, but pretty funny nonetheless.
9. Who gets to go to the Dartmouth RR?
I think there are three obvious includes: Kentucky BT, Harvard CM and Georgia AR. I think the most satisfying way of picking RR participants is to generate the most competitive field possible. That means you don’t want a team that is going to go 1-5 or 0-6. They have to demonstrate some ability to beat teams that are going to be included.
Elim depth is a coward’s metric. Winning elims is harder than winning prelims. Convincing more people you are right is harder than convincing one person. However, the caliber of the competition still matters more. Particularly for deciding a RR field. I don’t think this idea is too far out of the mainstream because if you look to recent first round voting over the last 3 to 4 topics it seems head to head wins is a more important metric than “deep runs” at tournaments.
That leads to another tier of team: Oklahoma JS, Berkeley FG and Emory GS. These teams have wins against the three listed above.
Who is the last team (assuming Dartmouth does not invite themselves?). I see four contenders (because OU PW and UGA RS can’t be considered): Iowa GL, NU JW, UNLV HS, Wake EW. Caring less about elimination depth reveals UNLV and Wake’s head to head competition to be a bit worse than Iowa and NU’s.
Northwestern has beaten Wake, OU JS, Emory GS, UNLV HS and Berkeley this year. Iowa GL has beaten NU (twice), UGA RS, UNLV (twice), OU PW and Wake.
So that is a pretty tough call. Iowa with two head to head wins. Northwestern punching above their weight better with wins against teams I think are clear includes. Tough choice! Glad I do not have to make it.
A note for people who might get upset about whatever they get upset about. One, people think this stuff already, I am just saying it out loud. What are the best metrics to determine RR fields? Not an unreasonable public discussion. Two, all these teams are good. Trying to determine the precise top 7 is very tricky. Obviously all the teams I mentioned above are top 10 caliber teams that would have a reasonable shot at winning a given debate against the other ones mentioned. There are no slights here. Finally, the sample size is always smaller than folks want it to be. Makes the decisions tough.
10. The First Semester AFF Power Rankings
I have it at 39ish AFFs with plans read in the 1st semester. Things I thought about while looking over the whole board:
Does the best AFF in a non-nukes area compare to the worst nukes AFF? I do believe some trade AFFs clear that bar.
Should deference AFFs just be better than trade AFFs because it is harder to write a deference NEG? I think so but some deference AFFs are just not there card wise.
The market has to count for something. How many people read it? Has it survived sophisticated strategies? Does it win a lot?
Does it pass the ESR test?
Tier 1--Top Shelf Prime AFFs
I think these are the best AFFs. NSA’s had a very good semester, good job Georgia. Losing an impact turn debate at Wake vs Harvard isn’t too surprising. With an AFF like that which can survive the T challenge the most likely thing to lose to is something you grant the link to. Should that really even happen because of infinite prep? No, but it does.
Iran is great fun although I don’t know if UNLV appreciates what it has. It’s so good, cut more cards about it. Don’t lose to ESR and politics. That makes us both look bad.
NFU, good AFF 8 years ago. Still good AFF. Lots of advantages, lots of link turns, good CP answers. Good clean fun.
Tier 2--Ham Sandwiches of AFFs
Rule of 2
North Korea and China are adv’s not AFFs. NFU for K reasons is just worse than NFU because you link to stuff, you restrain what advantages you can read and it is not worth the K args you can make in the 2AC.
Operational NFU is an extra topical over correction to a not that threatening set of negative arguments. ICBM bad lit is ok, but not hot enough to deviate.
Is there another trade AFF better than a nukes AFF?
I think, maybe. GMU’s business about national security exceptions and the WTO is probably the best version of the general Congress trade AFF I have seen.
Authorize first use in declaration of wars and court NFU are tough sells. I don’t think the existing versions are very strong. Both are too generally about nukes and NFU and not tailored enough from top to bottom.
Are they worse than trade or deference AFFs? I don’t think so, but it is a closer call.
One nukes AFF that is worse than trade is psychological evaluation. I am not trading T and the ableism K to read the white supremacists storm the nuke silos advantage. NO THANKS.
Trade AFF’s ranked
Iran then a big gap. Then GMU national security business emerges from a scrum of Congress tariff AFFs. Then everyone else’s Congress tariff AFF stuff. Then Cal’s TPA business. Then OFAC. Then sanction NK. Then sanction SCS. Then that court non-del thing UGA read. Then if another trade AFF exists no thank you.
You have to win a debate or get launched into the sun: do you read trade or deference
Phew, this is a tough question (obviously bracketing Iran sanctions). There are many issues with the way deference has been written to date.
One, the impacts are too easy to CP out of with ESR and Congress. Like that FAA thing about flight sharing? Not so much with the court key warrants.
Two, deference teams think their shit is magic. Like ok deference teams I get it. You’re edgy. You’re nerds. You love law reviews. You think you are so clever. But you can’t just come up with a legal abstraction then cut a bunch of cards that sounds like the same general concept and call it an AFF. You are a deference AFF, you aren’t God. You can’t solve with “legal standards” or “regulatory certainty” and just plug and chug whatever you want.
Three, answers to court DA’s suck which is weird because court DA’s suck (unless they are about national security/foreign affairs).
So NO I would not risk getting shot into the sun with deference AFFs to date. Have fun melting suckers.
I guess this Emory Curtis-Wright thing is the best one? Maybe?
Somebody had to do it (no, they actually didn’t, but debate is predictable this way). At the end of the day the marketplace of ideas has to tell you something about surveillance and treaty AFFs. They don’t punch above their weight, they are not read very often, they don’t win a lot. Maybe sometime, but not in the first semester.
If only someone had told me about all the ways to "borrow" research materials earlier. I hope this post helps high schoolers, small schools, colleges without fancy libraries etc. I barely even use UK library resources anymore because one of these methods usually works.
1. Library Genesis Project (http://libgen.io/)
Or can be found at: http://gen.lib.rus.ec/
This is a very strong database for "borrowing" books
2. Sci-Hub ( http://sci-hub.tw/ )
This is for articles. The best way to search it is with the DOI number. So for instances this article: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10736700.2018.1430552?src=recsys&journalCode=rnpr20
You can see the following below the title:
Just pop the numbers "10.1080/10736700.2018.1430552" into sci-hub and see what happens.
Spoiler: it lets you "borrow" the article for free instantaneously
3. BookSC (http://booksc.org/)
Little bit worse than Sci-Hub, but same basic premise.
4. Ebook Farm ( https://ebook.farm/)
This is one of the biggest collections of books to "borrow" from, but it isn't free. You have to feed it bitcoins or amazon gift cards to download books, but it is dirt cheap and will have most of what you want. The average book will be between $0.20 and $1.00
sometimes the formats for all of these are weird which you can fix here - https://www.online-convert.com/
or if it's secured go here - https://smallpdf.com/unlock-pdf
5. .acsm files or any encrpyted PDF.
When you borrow from a library (not to be confused with "borrowing") the download format is some sort of encrypted business. If you want a file you can save and store you need this https://epubee.com/epub-drm-removal-program.htm to make a permanent PDF.
Sometimes the decrypted file will not have highlight-able text in it. You need to OCR it. The gold standard is this: https://www.abbyy.com/en-us/finereader/. A worse version is this: https://www.onlineocr.net/
Happy "borrowing." If there is a method I missed let me know.
One of my goals at the moment is to be placed on email chains without having to ask to be put on them. Unfortunately, this desire alone has not been enough to result in a flood of email chains. I appreciate the folks who are sharing threads with me (and all the folks who put me on threads when I had to ask). This project is designed to lower the transaction costs of project #GetLincolnAlltheDocs (thanks to the handful of people who suggested it).
There is now a google group called email@example.com. The purpose of this email is to make it easier to setup email threads before debates. Instead of the same group of people asking the same group of debaters for threads and having to type in double digit emails you can now capture all that with one email entry. This model has proven successful at round robins.
Another benefit of a system like this is how it helps smaller schools. With smaller staffs it is harder to go around to a bunch of debates and get on the threads. Big schools with multiple coaches will get on the threads anyway. Or they will just contact me since everyone assumes I have all that shit anyway (which isn't wrong).
One casualty with the round robin experience has been updating the wiki. That might not be unique to the google group way of organizing round robin docs (people just generally focus on the round robin and post stuff later if they do instead of the normal post round you see at tournaments where judges give decisions at the time). I am hoping to avoid this problem with the implementation of this google group.
How to Join?
1. Email me the emails you want me to add to the group.
2. There are two conditions for me adding those emails to the group:
A. If you are a debater you have to participate by adding firstname.lastname@example.org to your future email threads. If you are a coach, you have to ensure your debaters use the group.
B. You use the wiki. Use the wiki means there is an entry after each one of your debates and you have included evidence from ALL your speeches in those entries (not just the 1AC or 1NC). It does not matter if it is full text or cites either is fine.
Debaters who want to join are only responsible for their own wiki, not teammates. Coaches are responsible for all their teams.
Why am I being a wiki fascist? One, sorry you hate using the wiki or making your teams use it. But good wiki practice is more important than streamlining email threads. Two, the first mover advantage here is huge. Are you going to go start your own google group? Then we have like six different google groups instead of entering like ten different emails? You won't. You're scared. Just use the wiki, use this google group and like it.
How to Subject Email Threads
There is no great way to ensure this, but it is STRONGLY encouraged to use a uniform naming system for later searches.
Tournament Name-Round Number-AFF Team vs NEG Team
Example: Shirley-Round 2-Northwestern CE vs Georgetown KL
How do I turn off getting real-time copies of everything?
Go to your own google groups page - there should be a drop-down menu regarding email options on the right. You can set it to "no email" or "digest email". No means none. Digest means you get them all at the end of the day.
I've turned off the emails, but now how do I get to the docs?
Change the email settings + create email filters to help prevent inbox flooding if you do not like that.
Feel free to reach out with any questions.