2016 MUT: Specific question discussion

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2016 MUT: Specific question discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:49 am

Want to discuss a specific question? This is the place to do it.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:28 am

Lots of questions had issues (and lots of questions were great, too - I'll post about them later) but there are two that need immediate fixing (which I brought up with Shan, but figured I'd still post here):

The lead-in to the Delacroix tossup is completely non-uniquely identifying because Raphael's painting of the same scene also happens to be a mural and also shows a rearing horse and two angels with whips. It may just be better to swap the Delacroix and Raphael tossups in the set and put a qualifier saying "Like Raphael" in the leadin, but in any cause it's worth checking whether other artists painted versions of the same scene.

The tossup on "variance" has a lead-in that's complete negbait for a person who knows what the Gauss-Markov theorem is to say "bias" before "least unbiased estimator" is read. I think the best way to fix this would be to re-ordered it, so it says "least unbiased estimator" earlier and "Gauss-Markov theorem" later so people don't make that mistake.

A lot of questions had content repeats. I think Hecatoncheires came up twice in the tournament - I can't remember the other examples off the top of my head but others may be able to bring examples up.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:43 am

A lot of questions had content repeats. I think Hecatoncheires came up twice in the tournament - I can't remember the other examples off the top of my head but others may be able to bring examples up.
When you say that there were content repeats, do you mean that clues repeated in such a way where one question would enable you to get a subsequent question based on the information mentioned, or just that something like "Hecatoncheires" was mentioned at one point and then came up later in the tournament? Obviously, I'd like to fix anything like the former, but I don't necessarily find the latter very troubling, depending on the context.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:57 am

You're right to draw a distinction - for example, Mao came up twice but in a way that was completely non-problematic, and the Russia questions were also non-issues. Also, upon a second packet search my memory seems to be fooling me because the Hecatoncheires only come up once - I must have played a question on them in practice the day before. Sorry about that! Anyways, I do remember discussing some specific examples while tired the other day, and I'll try to dig them up.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:03 pm

Cool. Obviously, if you do remember anything that came up in a way that presented a repeat issue (i.e. some substantive piece of information was mentioned previously and was later asked about, or vice versa, in a way that either allowed a player to answer based on information that already came up, or the repeated information was something so distinctive that it just felt odd), please do let us know. (This goes for anyone, not just Will!) When there are several writers all pitching in questions, it's often hard to police things like that, especially across categories.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:27 pm

Will: I can't speak to the Delacroix issue, and you certainly might have a point on that one. I did talk with Sam about the Gauss-Markov clue, and neither of us seems that inclined to change it. "Bias" doesn't seem to be a correct answer -- there are other unbiased linear estimators (at least in theory). What the Gauss-Markov theorem states is not the OLS has the least bias among linear estimators, but that out of unbiased linear estimators, it is the "best" (i.e. has the least variance). You probably realized this in retrospect, Will, so I'm just posting it for the benefit of others.

The question of whether the clue is "negbait" is trickier, and we would want to know if more people made the same neg before deciding on that. Of course, the adjustment you suggest isn't hard to make, but it would perhaps set a bad precedent for tournament writers allow themselves to be subjected to whims of individual players like that.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:34 pm

Sam & Shan's explanation is correct (naturally). I do not believe the clue is negbait for "bias"; the question text (even before "linear unbiased estimator" is read) is a fairly standard summary of the Gauss-Markov theorem. I'm all for adjusting questions based on empirical data, but I would not change this question in the absence of an overwhelming amount of negs -- if someone does not fully remember the Gauss-Markov theorem and negs, that is the player's fault.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:37 pm

Delacroix is my fault--I think it originally had more closely specifying language that got cut as I trimmed length. I'll make sure it's made unique.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:28 pm

Muriel Axon wrote:The question of whether the clue is "negbait" is trickier, and we would want to know if more people made the same neg before deciding on that. Of course, the adjustment you suggest isn't hard to make, but it would perhaps set a bad precedent for tournament writers allow themselves to be subjected to whims of individual players like that.
I would have done the same thing Will did were I playing. The issue isn't misremembering what Gauss-Markov says, the issue is that at any given time you only have a part of that sentence. Your question starts "The Gauss-Markov theorem states that OLS estimators have the lowest value of this quantity", so at game speed you have "Gauss-Markov" and "lowest value", and if you know that the Gauss-Markov theorem concerns unbiased estimators, this is a reasonable buzz to make (especially if you hear an extra "that" in there). I'm not saying this alone is a reason to edit it (you could be a stickler), but I think some empathy is in order.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:38 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
Muriel Axon wrote:The question of whether the clue is "negbait" is trickier, and we would want to know if more people made the same neg before deciding on that. Of course, the adjustment you suggest isn't hard to make, but it would perhaps set a bad precedent for tournament writers allow themselves to be subjected to whims of individual players like that.
I would have done the same thing Will did were I playing. The issue isn't misremembering what Gauss-Markov says, the issue is that at any given time you only have a part of that sentence. Your question starts "The Gauss-Markov theorem states that OLS estimators have the lowest value of this quantity", so at game speed you have "Gauss-Markov" and "lowest value", and if you know that the Gauss-Markov theorem concerns unbiased estimators, this is a reasonable buzz to make (especially if you hear an extra "that" in there). I'm not saying this alone is a reason to edit it (you could be a stickler), but I think some empathy is in order.
I dispute that "bias" is a reasonable buzz to make after "lowest value" has been read. By any plain reading of the Gauss-Markov theorem, that partial phrase is not true for bias; such a buzz rests on the player having a severe misunderstanding of the Gauss-Markov theorem. If the player has "Gauss-Markov" and "lowest value" and knows that the Gauss-Markov theorem concerns unbiased estimators, the player has incomplete knowledge and doesn't deserve points (which is not to say they deserve a neg). That players have buzzed in that situation (and might do so in the future) doesn't make such a buzz "reasonable".

Contra empathy, I would argue that the clue, as-written, is the better way to distinguish knowledge. If a player truly knows the Gauss-Markov theorem, they can get points before "least unbiased estimator" is read; people with a more passing familiarity have to wait until "least unbiased estimator" is read.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that partial phrases—even deep in a question—can be confusing, sometimes leading a player astray with the possibility of multiple correct answers (given no knowledge of previous clues). I do not think this is one of those cases.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Chaac and Ayyy » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:47 pm

Could I see the tossup about stomata, please?
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:11 pm

I wrote:The HIC (H-I-C) gene down•regulates the development of these structures in carbon-rich environments. Regulation of these structures in response to water potential can be iso•hydric or an•iso•hydric. The Ball-Berry-Leuning model couples carbon assimilation rates to the conductance of these structures, which can be measured with por•o•meters. Export of protons causes cells surrounding these structures to take up potassium ions from subsidiary cells. These structures are inactive during the day in (*) CAM plants. Root-released abscisic acid decreases the turgor of the guard cells surrounding these structures, causing them to close. Through these structures, which are primarily on the leaf underside, water is lost to transpiration and carbon dioxide is taken in. For 10 points, name these pores that control gas exchange through leaf surfaces.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Inifinite Jest » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:20 pm

The "Lost Tribes of Israel settling in America" tossup is a godawful idea for a tossup. But like at the very least you need to drastically expand the number of things accepted in the answerline, my teammate Finn buzzed really early and gave the completely right answer of the "Nephites being from America" and was negged.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:25 pm

I agree the answerline should have been expanded; other than that, I don't know what makes it inherently godawful.

If it mattered, that answer would certainly have been accepted on protest.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:31 pm

Inifinite Jest wrote:The "Lost Tribes of Israel settling in America" tossup is a godawful idea for a tossup. But like at the very least you need to drastically expand the number of things accepted in the answerline, my teammate Finn buzzed really early and gave the completely right answer of the "Nephites being from America" and was negged.
I'm entirely amenable to making sure that answerline is sufficiently expansive, but if the answer given was indeed something like "Nephites being from America", that's not really right; the whole point is that they weren't from America, at least initially.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:33 pm

I interpreted the given answer as something like saying "the Pilgrims from Massachusetts," i.e. identifying the important thing is saying the Nephites came to America.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:36 pm

True, I suppose that is a little harsh at game speed. Definitely at least worth a prompt, and I have to imagine a protest on those lines would've been resolved favorably. I'll add more to the answerline.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Inifinite Jest » Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:02 pm

Cheynem wrote:I interpreted the given answer as something like saying "the Pilgrims from Massachusetts," i.e. identifying the important thing is saying the Nephites came to America.
Yeah, I could see where a moderator might misinterpret this answer.
Cheynem wrote:I don't know what makes it inherently godawful.
Calling it "godawful" was a bit hyperbolic. I'm not really a fan "description acceptable" tossups, but it's definitely a thing worth writing a tossup on.
Auks Ran Ova wrote:I have to imagine a protest on those lines would've been resolved favorably.
One would imagine... :mad: :mad:
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Make sure your seatbelt is fastened » Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:27 pm

I was a big fan of the set's creative art answerlines, which seem mostly attributable to Andrew Hart - it was exciting not to hear a single tossup on a painter or a specific work until Round 5. In particular, I enjoyed the questions about the prodigal son, New Mexico, and pools.

I'm pretty sure that camels do not have nucleated red blood cells, contrary to what the tossup on camels claims.

I noticed more bonus variability in literature than in other categories: for instance, there were bonuses like Oates / Monroe / Foer, Rocinante / Cervantes / Dapple, and Babel / Gorky / jews next to bonuses with hard parts like My Struggle and Tsvetaeva.

Bonus #6 in Packet 9 on Alexander Nevsky was identically repeated as Bonus #3 in Packet 12.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:52 pm

Make sure your seatbelt is fastened wrote:I'm pretty sure that camels do not have nucleated red blood cells, contrary to what the tossup on camels claims.
I was lied to!

(I'll fix this.)
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Kasper Kaijanen » Sun Mar 27, 2016 9:03 pm

Inifinite Jest wrote:The "Lost Tribes of Israel settling in America" tossup is a godawful idea for a tossup. But like at the very least you need to drastically expand the number of things accepted in the answerline, my teammate Finn buzzed really early and gave the completely right answer of the "Nephites being from America" and was negged.
Caleb's misremembering this a little bit, the answer I gave was "the historicity of the Book of Mormon," and after prompting I think I said something about it actually happening in America, but I never specifically mentioned the Nephites or Native Americans. My main beef with the tossup is that I don't know that the clue I buzzed on, the limited geography model, is uniquely identifying for an answerline this specific. As I understand it, the model refers to the work as a whole, not just the whole Nephites/Indians thing.
Itamar wrote:I was a big fan of the set's creative art answerlines, which seem mostly attributable to Andrew Hart - it was exciting not to hear a single tossup on a painter or a specific work until Round 5. In particular, I enjoyed the questions about the prodigal son, New Mexico, and pools.

I'm pretty sure that camels do not have nucleated red blood cells, contrary to what the tossup on camels claims.

I noticed more bonus variability in literature than in other categories: for instance, there were bonuses like Oates / Monroe / Foer, Rocinante / Cervantes / Dapple, and Babel / Gorky / jews next to bonuses with hard parts like My Struggle and Tsvetaeva.

Bonus #6 in Packet 9 on Alexander Nevsky was identically repeated as Bonus #3 in Packet 12.
I agree with the things Itamar said
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Sam » Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:59 pm

Sic Semper Fidelis wrote: Caleb's misremembering this a little bit, the answer I gave was "the historicity of the Book of Mormon," and after prompting I think I said something about it actually happening in America, but I never specifically mentioned the Nephites or Native Americans. My main beef with the tossup is that I don't know that the clue I buzzed on, the limited geography model, is uniquely identifying for an answerline this specific. As I understand it, the model refers to the work as a whole, not just the whole Nephites/Indians thing.
That's a fair point. One thing that may be helpful would be to flesh out the first two clues a little more to make it clear it's not a Mormon-specific idea. Menasseh was a rabbi writing in the mid-17th century and Wise and Leeser were both Jewish, writing about the implication of the stones for American Jews. Maybe including the year of Menasseh's writing would give enough context.

EDIT: In any case, expanding the answer line is good.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:55 pm

Make sure your seatbelt is fastened wrote:I was a big fan of the set's creative art answerlines, which seem mostly attributable to Andrew Hart - it was exciting not to hear a single tossup on a painter or a specific work until Round 5. In particular, I enjoyed the questions about the prodigal son, New Mexico, and pools.
I'm glad that you found those questions entertaining. I tried to take a more thematic approach in the humanities in which I wrote substantial amounts of questions. Some of the resulting answers were, in fact, questions on particular people. (I wrote a tossup on James Baldwin mainly using clues from his essays on race, for instance.) Others were on specific aspects of a person's work, such as the tossup on "Burma" whose clues were entirely from the corpus of George Orwell, or the tossup on "pools" that you mentioned (which was, save for a clue about Matisse, entirely about David Hockney). I found myself gravitating away from tossups on works themselves in favor of these more thematic (or thematic-author/artist) ideas, but I tried to include a mix, even if the resulting balance may have been a bit different than what you'd see at a typical event.
I noticed more bonus variability in literature than in other categories: for instance, there were bonuses like Oates / Monroe / Foer, Rocinante / Cervantes / Dapple, and Babel / Gorky / jews next to bonuses with hard parts like My Struggle and Tsvetaeva.
I agree with Itamar's point that some of the hard parts were easier than others. I don't think any of them were egregiously out of the range of askability, but I think there were two different kinds. Something like "Dapple" from Don Quixote exemplifies the first type, which is a difficult-but-canonical thing that you can know simply by drilling down very deep into the topics that low-level quizbowl asks about. The other type--something like Knausgard or Tsvetaeva--is something that a player would have to branch out beyond mastery of the typical lower-level fare to have encountered.

In my vision of MUT, both of these things are askable. Part of the charm of this tournament is that it occupies the territory between a typical low-level tournament and the typical regular-difficulty one, which allows us to configure some of the questions to ask about more expansive subject matter. Functionally speaking, this might create some difficulty skew between hard parts, but I think that with that bit of skew comes a lot of the flavor of the tournament.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by armitage » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:05 pm

I was mistakenly given points for saying "hospital" on the "children's hospital" tossup instead of being prompted; I don't think I would have pulled the answer if I had been prompted (it seems like this happened to others). I think the wording should be adjusted so people don't reflexively buzz on WCW without knowing that he specifically interned at what seems to be a rather obscure children's hospital.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:03 pm

armitage wrote:I was mistakenly given points for saying "hospital" on the "children's hospital" tossup instead of being prompted; I don't think I would have pulled the answer if I had been prompted (it seems like this happened to others). I think the wording should be adjusted so people don't reflexively buzz on WCW without knowing that he specifically interned at what seems to be a rather obscure children's hospital.
I tried to clarify that it was looking for a specialized type of institution; Williams was a pediatrician, so I don't think the clue is premised on knowing the specific hospital, but rather, on knowing what kind of doctor Williams was. That said, I do think that the word "specialized" could be added before "institutions" in the particular sentence to make it clearer that "hospital" is probably going to be inadequate. ("Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's high school, Power Memorial Academy, is located on the former site of one of these specialized institutions in New York City where William Carlos Williams trained before working at a more general institution in Passaic, New Jersey.")
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by gettysburg11 » Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:05 pm

theMoMA wrote:Cool. Obviously, if you do remember anything that came up in a way that presented a repeat issue (i.e. some substantive piece of information was mentioned previously and was later asked about, or vice versa, in a way that either allowed a player to answer based on information that already came up, or the repeated information was something so distinctive that it just felt odd), please do let us know. (This goes for anyone, not just Will!) When there are several writers all pitching in questions, it's often hard to police things like that, especially across categories.
I can't say this with 100% certainty, but I'm pretty sure that bonuses on Tenochtitlan and Mexico City both used similar clues.

Also, I know this is a random thing, but I couldn't express enough how excited I was about the opening of that tossup on Whistler's Mother. I go through Ashland regularly on the way to visit my grandmother and see that statue all the time as we come in on Route 61, so I just figured I'd let you know that that question made me very happy. :grin:

Will go back through my notes and see if there's anything else worth noting. Thanks for the set!
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by setophaga » Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:25 pm

Hi all, enjoyed the set a lot.
Is there a chance I could see the Russia music question again? I might be mistaken, but I felt the clue about the Mannheim Rocket opening Prokofiev 1 could have been a little better worded (e.g. "A symphony from this country states its first theme in D major, then C major, after opening with a figure reminiscent of a Mannheim Rocket.") It came off to me as negbait to people who know that a Mannheim Rocket was used in the Classical period to followers of the Mannheim School in Germany and Austria, especially since Prokofiev was using the technique outside of his usual and mature style.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:33 pm

setophaga wrote:It came off to me as a neg-draw to people who know that a Mannheim Rocket was used in the Classical period to followers of the Mannheim School in Germany and Austria, especially since Prokofiev was using the technique outside of his usual and mature style.
"Mannheim rocket" just means an ascending pattern of broken chords, to my understanding, so I don't see why you can't say that the opening of the "Classical" symphony is a Mannheim rocket outright. I think part of the point of Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony is that it uses classical-era forms like that. It's not negbait because it's not asking where the Mannheim rocket is from or even implying that, even if the words "Mannheim Rocket" come first.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by setophaga » Mon Apr 04, 2016 12:20 am

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
setophaga wrote:It came off to me as a neg-draw to people who know that a Mannheim Rocket was used in the Classical period to followers of the Mannheim School in Germany and Austria, especially since Prokofiev was using the technique outside of his usual and mature style.
"Mannheim rocket" just means an ascending pattern of broken chords, to my understanding, so I don't see why you can't say that the opening of the "Classical" symphony is a Mannheim rocket outright. I think part of the point of Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony is that it uses classical-era forms like that. It's not negbait because it's not asking where the Mannheim rocket is from or even implying that, even if the words "Mannheim Rocket" come first.
I looked on Quinterest and it looks like that clue was used previously a Minnesota fine arts tournament, which also has a precedent in the 2009 NSC. In my opinion, it's still not strictly an MR, but I don't want to debate minutia or music theory on this forum.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Apr 04, 2016 12:23 pm

It seems like this has resolved itself, but I largely agree with Will's reasoning. The fact that even the Classical period use of the Mannheim rocket was split among multiple countries (present-day Germany, Austria, etc.) shows that you can't really name a country off of "Mannheim rocket" alone. But perhaps there is some value to flipping the order of clues in that sentence, as you suggest. I will consider it.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Silverman » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:42 pm

Could I see the tossup on integrating over time? Our opponents negged with "integration" fairly early and couldn't figure out the time part; I don't remember the exact wording but I'd like to make sure the first clue was uniquely identifying.

The "jet fuel can't melt steel beams" bonus was wonderful, so kudos to whomever wrote that.

I was surprised at the length of the power marks on a couple questions; the only one I can remember is that "mixed strategies" was in power for the Nash tossup. Overall this was an excellent set, though, and very enjoyable to play. Thanks so much to all the writers, and to VCU for running our mirror very efficiently.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Saltasassi » Sun May 01, 2016 3:39 pm

I'm not qualified to comment on most things, but in the effort to voice more of our positive reactions to questions sets, I just wanted to say how excited I was about the lead-in to the Beethoven 5 tossup. I've had to read Hoffmann's review in both of the music history classes I've taken this year, and it's one of the most significant pieces of writing about Romantic music from the time. I didn't expect to hear it get mentioned, but it was great to have it come up.

I thought that the cluing for a lot of the music was well done. For example, the opening to the Sibelius bonus from packet 2 was a very on-point and, dare I say, evocative description of those particular passages of the Second Symphony. The description of the opening of Schubert's Death and the Maiden was similarly well-executed. Thanks to Shan and whoever else was involved in producing the music!

I had a fun time playing this set overall and really appreciate the work that all of the contributors put into writing it.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun May 01, 2016 3:58 pm

African Shoebill wrote:...I just wanted to say how excited I was about the lead-in to the Beethoven 5 tossup. I've had to read Hoffmann's review in both of the music history classes I've taken this year, and it's one of the most significant pieces of writing about Romantic music from the time. I didn't expect to hear it get mentioned, but it was great to have it come up.
I 100% agree with this comment (I ran into the Hoffman review in a music lecture series I listened to).
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Red Panda Cub » Sun May 01, 2016 4:46 pm

Make sure your seatbelt is fastened wrote:I noticed more bonus variability in literature than in other categories: for instance, there were bonuses like Oates / Monroe / Foer, Rocinante / Cervantes / Dapple, and Babel / Gorky / jews next to bonuses with hard parts like My Struggle and Tsvetaeva.
I think I kind of agree with this, though I don't think it was really that noticeable, but is My Struggle really a good example here? Knausgaard, alongside Ferrante, are the two most spoken/written about contemporary authors in the world and have been for, like, at least three years? It seems pretty hard for me to believe someone has looked at the book review section of any major newspaper, whether or not it has a particularly literary bent, without having seen him mentioned. These sorts of people coming up at this level seems, to me, totally fair and a really good thing.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Too Late » Sun May 01, 2016 5:48 pm

Can I see the question on integration with respect to time?
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Ben Salter » Sun May 01, 2016 5:59 pm

Silverman wrote:Could I see the tossup on integrating over time? Our opponents negged with "integration" fairly early and couldn't figure out the time part; I don't remember the exact wording but I'd like to make sure the first clue was uniquely identifying.
I and at least one other person ended up doing the same thing at our site and were negged for it. If I recall correctly, the clue was something like "Applying this function to the Dirac delta function yields the unit step function". Whilst the Dirac delta can be used to model a unit impulse, in which case a time variable would be used, this isn't the case in general; the Dirac delta is a more general concept in mathematics. Indeed, I personally have never seen it with a time variable - all of my textbooks just use x as a generic variable. I assume the previous clue applied specifically to "time integral", but requiring "time" after the Dirac clue is misleading at best.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun May 01, 2016 6:13 pm

Ben Salter wrote:
Silverman wrote:Could I see the tossup on integrating over time? Our opponents negged with "integration" fairly early and couldn't figure out the time part; I don't remember the exact wording but I'd like to make sure the first clue was uniquely identifying.
I and at least one other person ended up doing the same thing at our site and were negged for it. If I recall correctly, the clue was something like "Applying this function to the Dirac delta function yields the unit step function". Whilst the Dirac delta can be used to model a unit impulse, in which case a time variable would be used, this isn't the case in general; the Dirac delta is a more general concept in mathematics. Indeed, I personally have never seen it with a time variable - all of my textbooks just use x as a generic variable. I assume the previous clue applied specifically to "time integral", but requiring "time" after the Dirac clue is misleading at best.
Yeah, I had the same issue when I played that tossup - I ended up just guessing "time" because I figured that might be what the further prompts were going for. I don't really know math much in depth, so I wasn't sure if that was just a gap in my knowledge.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by gimmedatguudsuccrose » Mon May 02, 2016 3:28 am

African Shoebill wrote:I'm not qualified to comment on most things, but in the effort to voice more of our positive reactions to questions sets, I just wanted to say how excited I was about the lead-in to the Beethoven 5 tossup. I've had to read Hoffmann's review in both of the music history classes I've taken this year, and it's one of the most significant pieces of writing about Romantic music from the time. I didn't expect to hear it get mentioned, but it was great to have it come up.

I thought that the cluing for a lot of the music was well done. For example, the opening to the Sibelius bonus from packet 2 was a very on-point and, dare I say, evocative description of those particular passages of the Second Symphony. The description of the opening of Schubert's Death and the Maiden was similarly well-executed. Thanks to Shan and whoever else was involved in producing the music!

I had a fun time playing this set overall and really appreciate the work that all of the contributors put into writing it.
I wholeheartedly agree that this tournament's auditor arts was fantastic. One of my favorite questions in the set was the non-jazz piano tossup with the 'danger music' leadin. Also, this tournament had an abundance of fantastic and interesting bonuses a la Ike's post, possibly the most entertaining of which was the Bill Clinton literature bonus.



As mentioned above, there was a good deal of variability in tossup difficulty. On one hand, you have the Velazquez tossup cluing the Surrender of Breda far too early, while on the other you had tossups on New Mexico, Swimming Pools, and Prophets which appeared to be a world away in difficulty.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon May 02, 2016 11:03 am

Jennie/Kai: Thanks for the feedback on the auditory arts! I'm glad to know someone got some mileage out of those clues.
Packet 4 wrote:5. Computing the expected value of this operation, when it defines a stochastic process, can be done by solving a partial differential equation, as in the Feynman-Kac formula for Brownian motion. When applied to the Dirac delta function, this operation yields the unit step function. This operation applied to the difference between kinetic and potential energy yields a functional that any system “minimizes” when it follows a path. The voltage in a capacitor is equal to the reciprocal of capacitance (*) times this operation applied to the current, plus the voltage at time zero. When this operation is applied to the Lagrangian, it gives the action; for momentum, it gives the force; for power, it gives the energy. This operation can be used to find the displacement by finding the area under a curve on a graph of velocity versus this operation's namesake variable. For 10 points, name this operation that is performed on a function with respect to “d t”.
ANSWER: _time integral_ [or _integral_ with respect to _time_; prompt on “integral”]
I haven't thought about this material in four years, so I can't really comment.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Unicolored Jay » Mon May 02, 2016 11:25 am

Time integral tossup: So at the mirror I ran back in April, I actually had a game-deciding protest on this question about the exact same issue people are bringing up (that integrating the Dirac delta function isn't specific to any particular variable). I remember talking briefly about it to Rob, then resolving the protest in the protesting team's favor, so I'm kinda disappointed this wasn't fixed since then.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Mon May 02, 2016 2:00 pm

Unicolored Jay wrote:Time integral tossup: So at the mirror I ran back in April, I actually had a game-deciding protest on this question about the exact same issue people are bringing up (that integrating the Dirac delta function isn't specific to any particular variable). I remember talking briefly about it to Rob, then resolving the protest in the protesting team's favor, so I'm kinda disappointed this wasn't fixed since then.
I'll parrot the various people saying this was an issue in game.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon May 02, 2016 5:15 pm

19. Damage will occur if this process takes place above or below the optimal rate, according to the “two-factor hypothesis” of Peter Mazur. The ability of certain animals to withstand this process was studied by P. F. Scholander and Art DeVries, whose research led to the discovery of a small alpha-helical Type I protein found in sculpins. Proteins that confer resistance to this process may function because their threonine side chains can form hydrogen bonds. Christopher Polge devised a way to utilize this process in cattle breeding. Converting glycogen to blood glucose and foregoing (*) urination for several months to preserve built-up urea in their bodies allows wood frogs to survive this process, which plants withstand after undergoing a process called “hardening”. AFPs are proteins that confer resistance to, for 10 points, what process that Listeria bacteria can survive, which enables Listeria to contaminate ice cream?
ANSWER: freezing [accept answers mentioning frozen or below-zero or turning to ice] <Hart>
I found this question frustrating for a number of reasons. While it is a well-intentioned creative idea, the vast majority of these clues are far too hard for the audience of this tournament. I suspect all but one or two teams will have no idea what is going on until the words "ice cream" are read. (Listeria can contaminate a bunch of food items, like fruits and cheeses) Secondly, this question excludes key clues about cryoglobulins and protein freeze-thaw cycles that people might have a chance of knowing. Lastly, "Proteins that confer resistance to this process may function because their threonine side chains can form hydrogen bonds" is an extremely useless clue, because that's what threonine residues do in any protein that has them! Just from a quick google search of "threonine hydrogen bonds" I get a result from a paper about glycophorin A, a blood group determinant, which would make "transplant tolerance" an acceptable answer from that sentence alone.

The takeaway from this should be that when writers are struck by creative impulses in certain categories, it is always a good idea to run those ideas by specialists in those categories, regardless of the writer's prior experience. This is a key step to take so that unhelpful and misleading clues can be caught, and to minimize the risk of absent crucial middle to easy clues. I do this whenever I write ecology or evolutionary biology questions, or music tossups incorporating score clues, for instance.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon May 02, 2016 6:08 pm

I don't want to mount a comprehensive defense of that question (although I guess I did), but I will note that, when I read it to Wisconsin, it drew a solid buzz on "wood frogs" (which is something that I knew prior to writing this question and suspected others did as well).

I also think that the criticism of the threonine clue is misplaced; the best guess as to how AFPs work is that the hydrogen bonds interfere with the formation of ice crystals. Obviously, as you pointed out, threonine does form hydrogen bonds, but knowing that this is the mechanism by which AFPs are theorized to work was the conceit of this clue. In other words, it seems to me that saying "threonine always does that" doesn't diminish the clue, because it's saying that because threonine has that property, it confers resistance to freezing. It's not specific enough as written, as you point out, but I think that was a function of copy editing removing a "those" on the beginning of that sentence, or simply my failure to include it there in the first place, as intended.

I also don't really understand your complaint about the Listeria clue. Yes, Listeria can contaminate many types of food, but the clue is only about its ability to survive freezing temperatures, which is fairly unique among bacteria (and is in the news because of the Blue Bunny litigation, although perhaps this is too Popular Science-y to the purist's sensibility).

I did receive input from Shan on this question, and I believe Cody looked it over as well. I didn't include those other clues simply because I wasn't aware of them, or discarded them in favor of writing on what I thought was interesting, but I don't think this was a particularly glaring omission, given that the question was already the appropriate length, and didn't seem to need yet more clues about proteins. The second half of the question has to do with more applied science/natural processes, in any event, and I don't think it's a fatal decision to decide to talk about one class of proteins that are involved in freezing rather than another.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon May 02, 2016 6:25 pm

With the qualifier that I know nothing about this clue, I assume that Auroni's comment on the threonine clue is that if you don't know the preceding clue, you don't know which of the functions of threonine's H-bonding ability the question is looking for.

(I would also have buzzed on the wood frogs clue, for whatever that's worth.)
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon May 02, 2016 6:38 pm

That's correct, Shan; I guess my point is that I fail to see how this is different than any other clue that would give you a piece of information about a particular thing, then elaborate on how a particular characteristic of that thing causes the preceding piece of information to be true. (To invent a fake music clue, something like "one piece by this composer opens with some kind of musical technique, which this composer was able to accomplish because some new instrument that could play a sliding dickety-doo-dah note was just invented" seems to be analogous.)
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon May 02, 2016 6:49 pm

theMoMA wrote:I don't want to mount a comprehensive defense of that question (although I guess I did), but I will note that, when I read it to Wisconsin, it drew a solid buzz on "wood frogs" (which is something that I knew prior to writing this question and suspected others did as well).
Yes, this is the exception I was making when I said that the vast majority of clues were too hard.
I also think that the criticism of the threonine clue is misplaced; the best guess as to how AFPs work is that the hydrogen bonds interfere with the formation of ice crystals. Obviously, as you pointed out, threonine does form hydrogen bonds, but knowing that this is the mechanism by which AFPs are theorized to work was the conceit of this clue. In other words, it seems to me that saying "threonine always does that" doesn't diminish the clue, because it's saying that because threonine has that property, it confers resistance to freezing. It's not specific enough as written, as you point out, but I think that was a function of copy editing removing a "those" on the beginning of that sentence, or simply my failure to include it there in the first place, as intended.
My criticism was though that threonine participation in hydrogen bond formation is not limited to anti-freeze proteins, so a knowledgeable player can buzz in on that clue with any inhibitory function possessed by hydrogen bond forming- threonine-containing proteins (such as "transplant tolerance," as previously described), while being correct. Even if you did qualify the clue with "those," I think you're at best left with a dead clue that does not guide knowledgeable people to the answer, because the mechanism being described is extremely common across a wide variety of proteins and does not narrow down the answer unless you know about this specific model (which might be true of maybe one person in the entire field, as it seems extremely difficult). And even if you did, then you probably buzzed on the previous clue.
I also don't really understand your complaint about the Listeria clue. Yes, Listeria can contaminate many types of food, but the clue is only about its ability to survive freezing temperatures, which is fairly unique among bacteria (and is in the news because of the Blue Bunny litigation, although perhaps this is too Popular Science-y to the purist's sensibility).
My complaint with this clue is that it is too difficult to be virtually the last, non-"find your ass" type clue, because it concerns a mode of Listeria contamination that's not even one of the most common.
I did receive input from Shan on this question, and I believe Cody looked it over as well. I didn't include those other clues simply because I wasn't aware of them, or discarded them in favor of writing on what I thought was interesting, but I don't think this was a particularly glaring omission, given that the question was already the appropriate length, and didn't seem to need yet more clues about proteins. The second half of the question has to do with more applied science/natural processes, in any event, and I don't think it's a fatal decision to decide to talk about one class of proteins that are involved in freezing rather than another.
Even if you wanted to avoid clues about more proteins, there are some applied science details you could have used near the end [sperm and egg banks, cryopreservation]. I'm not sure how Shan or Cody could have looked over the question and not noticed its enormous difficulty apart from, like, one pre-FTP clue.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon May 02, 2016 7:01 pm

To be clear, there is a clue about cryopreservation/sperm banks (in cattle breeding) in the question.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Wed May 04, 2016 8:37 pm

Can I see the full Spiegelmann and Kunta Kinte tossups?
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by Make sure your seatbelt is fastened » Thu May 05, 2016 4:25 am

Perhaps people who know more about NMR (Billy? Andrew?) can correct me, but the aqua regia tossup included a rather dubious clue: "This substance, which is preferred over chromic acid to clean NMR tubes..."

From my limited experience, acetone is generally the go-to "substance" used in cleaning NMR tubes; I'm not quite sure where this clue came from.
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Re: Specific question discussion

Post by George Corfield » Thu May 05, 2016 1:21 pm

A few quibbles around some of the biology which occured to me whilst I was reading at the UK site:

The second clue in the Adipose Tissue tossup read, "The resident macrophages of this tissue may release pro-inflammatory cytokines like IL-6 and TNF-alpha". They may do, but so do the tissue resident macrophages of any other tissue; those two cytokines and IL-1 are probably the biggest players in the acute phase response of inflammation. At best this clue adds nothing and at worst could prompt an answer of another tissue which would have been equally correct.

I don't know if I'm misjudging the difficulty, but hypercapnia in the first line of a CO2 tossup seemed out of place. Ditto with respiratory acidosis in the second line. Asking for a compound which acidifies the blood and is determined by your ventilation is surely too early to be in power?

The vagina tossup read: "J. Marion Sims developed the duck-beak-shaped speculum to investigate this structure. This structure, which terminates at the cervix...". The speculum can be used to examine the vagina, but I'd wager its far more often used to visualise/examine/investigate the cervix. The following clue I suppose could also apply to the uterus, but maybe that's being a little picky.

One other thing which wasn't so much of a factual inaccuracy but perhaps might need altering was the following sentence from the Venetian School tossup: "This school of painting, which emphasized color and eschewed elongated forms...". I tried my best to enunciate "eschewed" so that it wasn't misheard as skewed, but it didn't prevent the looks of confusion from both teams and the inevitable neg with Mannerism. I guess they should have known better than to think that would be a second line in a Mannerism tossup, but perhaps using another word might prevent similar confusion at a later date.
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