Thursday, December 31, 2009

Episode 10 - The Decade in Review

Despite the unlikelihood of the three French hens finding anything to talk about that happened anytime in the last ten years, we did manage to come up with something. The episode is here, for those of you too lazy to get it automatically from iTunes.

No tech tips this week, though. And no predictions, since we're looking at the past, which is, I guess, postdictions.

A happy and prosperous new year to all!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Replacement for episode 9

Our vast audience (the one guy who listened to it) told us that Episode 9 was out of sync. So, here's a corrected version, without any bumper music (you can search for and download your own theremin tunes, if you're so inclined). Sorry for the poor tech work on our part, but, well, screw you. New Episode 9.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Episode 9 - TOC

The All-American Theremin Marching Band presents their unique analysis of the TOC and the Advisory Committee. They are all past or present members. The episode is here. Of course, it would make much more sense if you subscribed to the podcast on iTunes like a normal person, you yabbo!

The tech discussion this week centers on Cruz's favorite musical instrument. ("Look, Ma, no hands!" — No, wait a minute, it's nothing but hands. "Look, Ma, no touching!") Also, the coach of the Bronx High School of Babycakes announces that he is convinced that email is here to stay. Courageous call on his part.

Our prediction is for pure MJP ecstasy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Episode 8 - Economic sanctions

The three cheese plate specialists are back with discussion, mostly, on Jan-Feb's LD topic. The episode is here (but wouldn't you prefer to subscribe to iTunes and get it automatically?). We also venture further into the numbers game at tournaments, as in, how many people = how many rounds?

Our tech tip this week is Skype. Not a groundbreaker, but maybe there's uses you're unfamiliar with. And we predict, well, predictions, which is our favorite thing to predict, especially when they're in the future and haven't happened yet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Episode 7 - Potpourri

Just think. Now you know how to spell potpourri. (And so do I.)

The Three Major Food Groups attack such questions as, should all 5-2s break, and should brackets/results be posted during the tournament. Get it here, or go sign up to get them all from iTunes.

Our tech discussion this week is a Google lovefest. Feel the warmth! Touch the magic! Cringe at the unwarranted bashing of Yahoo!

Predictions are mostly about Glenbrooks, I think, but since I'm not going to Chicago this weekend, I couldn't join in. But I will add here that I predict that I will not be in Chicago this weekend, if that counts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Episode 6 - Theory in LD

Menick, Cruz and Bietz, those three mild and lazy guys, talk about theory in debate. Oy. Menick actually gets so excited you can even occasionally hear him speaking above a whisper! The episode is here.

Our tech talk is about the Magic Mouse. (This is almost the correct link, but it's much funnier.)

And our predictions are.... Oh. I forget. Well, they were great, as you'll find out when you hear them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


We promised to post information about SPAR. Voila, from IDEA.

Spontaneous Argumentation (SPAR)

SPAR debating has been popularized by John Meany of the Claremont Colleges, but has found its way into a number of college classrooms at top American universities. SPAR debating consists of two debaters drawing a topic for debate out of a hat and then, with a few minutes of preparation, engaging in a quick debate on the subject.

SPAR debating is an enjoyable, exciting, and confidence-building activity. It is an excellent way to reduce speaker anxiety and ensure that students feel at home in your classroom. Because the debate is quick and the audience gets to participate, it is usually a big hit with students. SPAR debates are also excellent tools to get students to practice speaking skills (organization, word choice, metaphors, and logic).

The creativity and excitement of your students limit SPAR debates, so they sometimes fall flat. The debates do not include any research and they can occasionally become more humorous than educational. If you expose students to your expectations and help to guide them, these limitations can be minimized.

In order to use the SPAR debate format, you will need to make a list of topics that you are sure anyone could debate about without any preparation. Seemingly simple topics like crushed ice is better than ice cubes have been very successful. The topics can vary dramatically, and fit well with any classroom subject. You need to brainstorm a number of topics that seem appropriate for your students and the subject that you are teaching.

Affirmative speaker - 1 minute
Negative speaker asks questions of the first affirmative speaker - 1 minute
Negative speaker - 1 minute
Affirmative speaker asks questions of the first negative speaker - 1 minute
Audience questions and comments - 5 minutes

There is no reason that you cannot adapt the format to fit your needs. If you would like to eliminate the audience questions or the questions that the debaters ask of each other, feel free. You should be able to time the debates so that your whole class will fit into the time period you have available. You may wish to frame the SPAR debates with a discussion of what you expect in terms of your students' speaking style. Remind them that they are not held responsible for the contents of their argument, but they should be organized, give previews of their major arguments, and have solid arguments.

Setting up a SPAR debate is easy. Either write the format for the debate on the board or, once you are in the classroom, ask for a pair of volunteers to debate. Have the volunteers come up and draw a topic out of the hat. We sometimes allow them each to draw a topic and then pick the topic that they want to debate. If you do this, be sure to account for the adjusted number of topics when you are preparing. Send the students out of the class for a few minutes to prepare. Immediately repeat the process with another two students, so that there are two sets of students who are preparing at the same time. When you call in the first set of debaters, send out another pair so that the students are staggered and there is never a need to wait for debaters to get ready. After each student you should provide a little bit of commentary about their performance and connect the debate to the larger classroom issues.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Clips on cases at Meadows

I've gone through VBD and pulled out what I could find:


Specific Diseases/vaccines (HPV, Pneumococcal Vaccines, H1N1, H5N1, etc.)
Specific population groups (Mainly health care workers, children, elderly)
Soft Paternalism
Generic Compulsion Good


Consult Counterplans (WHO is all I have seen)
Religious Exemptions
Hysteria/False Panic
Generic Vaccination Bad
Tax Incentives/Exemptions Counterplans
Amish People Counterplan


Soft Paternalism v language K + speaking for others K

Cites from Meadows: link

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The search for appropriate music

I was looking for something perfect for the podcast, and found this.

Episode 5 - Nov-Dec (immunization) in depth

Bietz has returned triumphant from Meadows, and regales his partners-in-pod with tales of case positions on both sides. Grab the episode here.

Our tech tip of the week, via Chris Palmer, is Fluid. It's a Mac program, but then again, who has a PC nowadays anyhow?

Friday, October 30, 2009

More on judge assignment

I just realized that comments were being posted (I thought I was getting them sent to my email, but obviously I wasn't). And I love the phrase strikes and dice.

As an habitue of one of those smoke-filled tabrooms, I can say a couple of things. First, protesting that we don't favor our own teams would sound disingenuous, but in reality, we deliberately make sure that there are representatives from more than one school, to prevent that from happening. Of course, anyone who has sat with me in tab knows that my personal motto is, "Make this damned thing end," so the only manipulation I'd be doing, if I could, is closing out the tournament in, if possible, doubles. But seriously, I have often heard accusations made against certain people manipulating tab; as far as I know, none of those people are any longer active in debate, and no one has accused any of my cronies tab team colleagues of anything like that, so at least the northeast is clean.

Secondly, the issue of putting the better judges into the tougher rounds is not really just us making it up. Obviously we can use prior knowledge: we certainly know who all the coaches are, but by default we will highly rank coaches we don't know personally on the basis of the simple idea that, if they're a coach, they know what they're doing until they prove otherwise. (And make no mistake, many coaches quickly and categorically do prove otherwise, but that is up to them, not us.) We also use the experience of each tournament's previous rankings. I keep a spreadsheet of every tournament that I've done with community rankings of every judge in the pools. Community rankings from tournament to tournament tend to remain stable, and I'm able to consult this list when I have no knowledge of my own. Just as a point of information, we've started adding to this list the names of parent judges we have trained ourselves at MHLs, so we know who we can trust at the newer level.

So, realistically, a good tab room ought to be making reasonable and honorable assignments when they are simply not going at random. But this does not subtract from the appeal of strikes and dice. We talked in the podcast about trying it at Ridge, but instead we're going to test MJP (since it's new to me from an operational standpoint, and I'd like to try a little baptism of fire). Maybe we should try S&D at Lakeland, which should be humongous. The big question is, what is the number of strikes that makes sense for a field of, say, 100?

Episode 4 — Defining the divisions: novices, jv and varsity

In episode four, Les Trois Critiquers discuss who should debate at what level, when. Get it here.

On the tech side, we discuss how we're using Twitter, successfully and otherwise. For the record, we are @jimmenick and @debatetab (for official tournament business), @bietz and @joncruz1138.

And Bietz predicted something, but it's been a couple of days now since we recorded (I had a high time trying to get this one up) so I can't remember for the life of me what it was.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Episode 3 - Judge preferences and rankings

This week the Tres Meatballeros discuss Mutual Judge Preference, Community Rankings, strikes, random selection of judges, and other tabbing issues. Get it here.

Our tech selection for the week is Dropbox. And our prediction for the near future is that there will be a short gap between Jon Cruz worrying about this year's Big Bronx tournament and starting to worry about next year's tournament, but the smart money is against us.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Episode 2 — Mandatory immunization

Get it here. Menick, Bietz and Babycakes Cruz discuss, first, the Nov-Dec resolution. (My confusion on measles wasn't all that confused. The general vaccine is for both measles and so-called German measles. But is is German measles that is the contagion that causes birth defects, while measles contagion just leads to measles. One ought to be able to come up with the odd oodle of evidence on this, given the WHO statistics on measles deaths. Africa has the least amount of vaccination and, apparently, the highest death rate.) This week both Mike and Jon have new microphones, marking a giant leap forward for mankind.

The "This American Life" episode is here.

The tech spotlight this week is on iDebate. Predictions cover the Kaiser tournament in Monticello, New York, and baseball, whatever that is.

Feel free to comment, and especially to suggest future subjects for discussion. I would also imagine that soon we would be able to add guests, provided they have Garageband or Audacity and some decent sort of microphone beyond the built-in, which picks up more ambient noise than you can shake a shtick at.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Episode 1 — Case Disclosure

Our first episode concentrates on case disclosure, stemming from recent events at Greenhill. There is surprising consensus among our panelists, Coaches Menick, Bietz and Cruz. Download it here, or subscribe to The View from Tab on iTunes.

Also we cover instapaper, our tech tip of the week, and a peek at upcoming events.

Feel free to comment on the proceedings.

(We'll perk up this blog as time goes by. At the moment, we're concentrating on sounding good. Or at least better...)