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 am Lincoln, retired debate coach . This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.