Ohhhh you thought the musings were over did you? You thought the most popular website about policy debate on the internet (fact check: true) had closed its doors?
No no no, just lying in wait until you let your guard down. Until you open yourself up to be barraged by opinions you didn’t ask for, but can’t look away from.
I only write posts when a critical mass of words comes to me without it being forced. Like I have to write the words down so they stop occupying space in my head and I can move on to other things.
If there are two things that get my brain a-churning it is the end of the regular season and when opinions about topics begin to circulate.
I have never reported something wrong on this site (fact check: true). That is because a rigorous amount (a third and fourth order amount) of research goes into what I post about (fact check: true). Unfortunately, my intern has moved to Taiwan and the minutia of your zoom alliance debates may have escaped me. However, what I think is true is surely both better and more accurate than what is actually true so that is what will rule the day on this blog.
1. Alliances Topic is the Worst
Oh, how many ways can we slice this? The premise of affirmative ground, that alliances security dilemma adversaries into war and entrapment, is stupid. It is a worse imitator of the military presence topic in every way.
The promise was the negative would not be overly burdened because of core DA’s. Everything links to assurance they said!
Then the topic comes, and it is so many words. Too many damn words for anyone to understand.
Left in a haze by the complexity of the resolution affirmative teams decide to play it safe early and merely mumble about Russia and China war while reading NATO and Japan affirmatives. Painfully boring, but all in all harmless.
However, then things take a grim turn. Affirmatives decide to just start doing whatever they want (although in the case of NATO enlargement, a demon possessed the aff writers of three different squads at the same time in the preseason -- apparently they don’t have holy water in Minnesota, Kansas or Michigan and they all showed up to the Season Opener acting normally but under evil influence). Affirmatives no longer care about “solvency evidence.”
Then the T debates swept the land. So. Many. T. Debates. I have never seen so many T debates between first round applicant teams. What a terrible bore.
“Sorry Aff, we are gonna need to stuff you back into the 3 Affs trash can so we can read allied prolif with no resistance.”
The fact that teams accused other teams of not understanding what causus foederis was and they did it with straight faces is the stuff of nightmares.
Advantage ground was narrow, solvency cards weren’t real, affirmatives pooped nonsense in all directions starting in October and instead of applying “their topic DA themes” or cutting a damn card negative teams went for topicality en masse. Ass. Zero.
I don’t blame teams (except for the ones that proposed and then voted for alliances) on playing the hand they were dealt, particularly in COVID times. There is always the ability to demonstrate excellence at debate regardless of the topic fundamentals. We will talk about some of that now. The point here is: if you like this alliances topic you are deranged.
2. “Gonna start in 10 seconds if no one says anything”
Boooo. This sucks. This is negative innovation. Then people copied it. Yuck. Did we need “everyone good” “can I get a confirmation” “anyone not ready” “ok I am gonna start in 10 seconds or so say something”?
What is the most common impact to tech failure? Silence. What is the worst way to check for tech failure? To posit that silence means things are going correctly.
3. Stimmy Tix
I will admit I thought the patented Kansas 1NR on politics was just a meme for years there. Then the Dartmouth RR happens and stimmy tix is pulling huge W’s! I am enchanted (not with that winners win impact though – at least, not for more than a round, that sucks, but I understand why you are doing it Kansas). I jump on the agenda DA bandwagon for the first time since Iran sanctions on war powers I think. What a treat.
The murmurs are that stimmy tix is no good going into NU 2. Not an all timer for sure, but a solid B- to B. I don’t think any of the affirmative cards I read were particularly slayers.
Knowledge about debating the agenda DA has never been lower. I was really hoping Kansas would win the finals to silence the haters, but alas. Who knows what could happen in two months, but I would watch out for agenda ending my career if I was a senior. It’s not necessarily a huge risk, but a real one.
4. Who Read the Most Affirmatives
I got Dartmouth with 6 – South Ossetia, Senshu Boei, Peens, Critical Peens, Nonviolence, NATO withdrawal.
Emory has 7 – NATO Withdrawal, NATO Cyber, NATO burden sharing, Transform NATO, Hungary Conditions, NATO-China, Kurils
NU has 7 – Turkey, Hybrid, EDCA, Okinawa, Senkaku, Bloody Nose, China
Michigan takes it with 9 – NATO Space, NATO energy security, NATO Arctic, NATO Enlargement, Japan Consent/Bloody Nose, Extra-Peninsular Obligations, Pacific Entrapment, NATO BMD, Baltics.
Pacific entrapment was technically Peens so they read all four countries too. Although I would prefer a real Peens affirmative. Dartmouth and and NU need South Korea. Emory needs South Korea and Peens.
Sorry if there is someone out there who read 10 affs and I didn’t look at your wiki.
5. K Teams and Impact Defense
Don’t get it. Not that useful. Read more K’s. Read funny CP’s. Read T.
Policy teams: try harder to get K teams in trouble in terms of consistency between their K and the run of mill case defense they read. Certainly not all case D has tension with K’s but I am not sure the level of precision at the moment!
6. Non-FW Options
It seems to me that a lot of debates are being decided on things that are not framework (unless you are Michigan – then you just front aggressively and go for T anyway. Not knocking it tho).
I am not sure what it means. I am leaning towards K teams are messing up somewhere. If the solution is to change 1AC’s and their descriptions or improve 2AC/1AR materials, we will have to see.
7. Parity at the top
I believe Dartmouth and Michigan are 3-3 against one another.
Emory is 0-5 against Dartmouth. Lost in the narrative of Dartmouth winning the first four tournaments/RR’s of the year is that Emory took 2nd place at three of those tournaments (Season Opener eliminated by Dartmouth in octafinals).
Emory is 3-0 against Michigan. Northwestern is 4-0 vs Michigan, but 1-4 vs Dartmouth. The only team to beat Dartmouth more than once is Michigan.
Kansas MR is lurking as well with wins against these other 4 teams (the only team that can claim such an accomplishment I believe).
So there is an interesting chess match going on. Lots of different styles and strengths I would say. People should take good minutes on how they strategize for each other for the NDT to report back to the people’s blog.
8. Remember when?
Neg reads DA. Aff reads no link, no internal link, affirmative solves that impact. It used to be you had to write an affirmative that got to every impact in debate so you could do something like this. Then even new affirmatives had to get to a shit ton of impacts to be considered done done.
Now people read affirmatives with one advantage! You are not fooling anyone by putting it on three pages Georgetown (two topics in a row too, people know your scam).
9. The Tags are out of Control
It’s mostly Dartmouth’s fault:
--Entrapment is a process not an event
--Rational deterrence theory overlooks psycho-symbolic drivers of state behavior. Actuarial risk tolerance makes nuclear war inevitable.
--Assurances feed Halcion to the German Sonderweg
But others have become unhinged as well:
--Both sides care deeply about the islands even though they lack actual value. They’ve become the proverbial tube of toothpaste---a tangible symbol of all other problems in the relationship---and there is no putting it back in the bottle.
--Sub-conventional deterrence failure risks non-linear, wormhole escalation, going nuclear
--Vote neg to keep Manchin happy – he’s malleable (I like stimmy too, but this one seems a bit dramatic)
Who knows how many other deranged tags I missed.
10. Undetermined Musings
I thought of a list of questions, but I am too lazy to figure out the answers. So, I need my faithful readers’ help. Yes, I know you will do this for me even when I have not given you a post in months. The world has to know.
A. Who has the most same policy 2NRs?
B. Who has the most distinct policy 2NRs?
C. Amongst first round applicant teams did the affirmative or negative win more T debates (in policy debates)?
D. Who had the best 1NC when someone broke a new affirmative against them (this may be the only question I stiil truly care about)?
E. Corollary---did someone read a new affirmative where the negative had a specific strategy ready to go?
F. What was the most coherent NATO affirmative? Similarly, what was the best Article V key argument?
H. If you are a policy team what K team would you least like to go negative against? (Does the math back it up?)
I. If you are a K team what policy team would you least like to go affirmative against? (does the math back it up?)
J. Who broke the most affirmatives, K team edition (the wiki isn’t as helpful for this one as it was for policy teams)
K. What K team had the most diverse spread of arguments when negative? (ditto)
I will accept real researched answers or whatever people’s gut tells them. On this blog there is obviously no distinction.
I am Lincoln, head coach at UK . This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.