General discussion

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General discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

should proceed in this thread.

Great thanks to Dallas Simons and Sam Peterson, who were my co-equal editors on this set; especially great thanks to Stephen Liu and Hannah Kirsch, for writing tons of questions that the rest of us couldn't (Hannah wrote something like 3/2 across all the packets, and Stephen was probably close to that), to much-beloved alumnus Kyle Haddad-Fonda, who wrote the geography, and to some freshmen on the team who stepped up when things got tight. I'm pretty happy with how the set went, honestly: we have a really weird field (being 1/3 nationally competitive teams and 1/2 teams playing their first pyramidal tournament of the season, if not their individual careers) and we tried to accommodate both parts in different ways.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Kyle »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:much-beloved
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Re: General discussion

Post by nadph »

Benji told me this set included a tossup on The Playboy of the Western World, as well as a bonus whose middle part was Woodward-Hoffmann rules. Were these a case of overshooting target difficulty?

Additionally, I'd appreciate it if someone could email me the set, nadesai dot bcp at gmail dot com.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Duncan Idaho »

nadph wrote:Additionally, I'd appreciate it if someone could email me the set,
ben dot cole dot 19 at gmail dot com
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Re: General discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

nadph wrote:Benji told me this set included a tossup on The Playboy of the Western World, as well as a bonus whose middle part was Woodward-Hoffmann rules. Were these a case of overshooting target difficulty?
The latter was in the finals and was intended to be challenging; the former was probably too hard.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Auroni »

This was by far the hardest high school tournament that I have moderated for. Not only that, but this high school set failed the hardest at accommodating newer, unskilled, and middling high school teams out of any in the past year or two that I can remember. The stats reflect this -- a large chunk, if not an outright majority of the teams at all sites that played this set found it too hard.

By too hard, I don't just mean answer lines like The Playboy of the Western World and magnetic monopoles, I mean bonuses without outright easy parts, such the bonus on Popper/scientific/Plato, bonuses that made teams name Chester Himes for a 30, bonuses on poets were you just didn't feel like giving Plath's best known title in the easy part, and various things where you were very stingy with awarding points to teams that knew basic things about basic high school topics. I mean tossups on fair game like Martin Heidegger which are written like ACF Regionals+ tossups on Martin Heidegger. At this point, I don't think I'll mirror HFT again, and I think I'll urge TDs in regions where the majority of the teams are not the top 20 high school teams in the country to not mirror this set again.

You can do two things to remedy this state of affairs: You can bill HFT as a set for high school all-stars, which it clearly was, and issue a stern warning against inexperienced teams coming. Since that doesn't do well for you financially, you can also understand that good high school teams will do well on any set that you will produce and just consciously write easy questions. However, I can say with 99% confidence that you just don't want to write the kinds of easy questions that writing a high school tournament for a wide audience entails, and I have to ask you to consider the former.

I'm unhappy because I felt like I was personally lied to about the reasonableness in difficulty in this set, and consequently several newer teams that attended my tournament might not come to our tournaments or play quizbowl again.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:This was by far the hardest high school tournament that I have moderated for.
This was harder than last year's set?

That Plato bonus part definitely should have been made into the easy part of that bonus; I'm not sure why it wasn't. It will be at future mirrors--er, the one future mirror.

I'm not sure why you thought the Heidegger tossup was so hard. Was it that the middle clues were harder? That's probably fair; what would you suggest to be changed? I don't think the leadin was; in fact, it reminded me of the leadin from HSNCT; I definitely don't think the tossup was overall Regionals+.
This philosopher considered the role of humanity in enframing the truth and considered the “supreme danger” and “saving power” of edifices like hydroelectric power plants in his work The Question Concerning Technology. This philosopher claimed that the title object established a struggle between that which is ready-to-hand and that which is unintelligible to what is ready-to-hand, or between “World” and “Earth,” in The Origin of the Work of Art. His best known work suggests its first title subject must be understood by progressive cycles through a “hermeneutic circle” and posits a being he calls Dasein. For 10 points, name this author of Being and Time.
ANSWER: Martin Heidegger
For the most part, I think I agree with the specific examples you pulled out, and I think I can see that type of question elsewhere in the set, but I don't think the proportion of outliers was especially unusual for a high school set.

I'm skeptical, though, that I billed this tournament inaccurately. I billed it as easier than last year and somewhat more difficult than regular difficulty, though not as difficult as nationals, and I think we did all right with that target, even given the aforementioned issues. I think that stuff like Himes should not show up in such a tournament, but I'm less sure that the American literature as a whole, for example, missed that mark. Among the American literature tossup answers, I'd only really be surprised to see DeLillo at a high school tournament, and the finals were designed to be somewhat harder than the other rounds--something I told the mirror hosts about multiple times. And there are multiple teams--I haven't collected that much data yet, so I can't say "most"--that got the same or better ppb on this set than they did on e.g. IS-96. There were outliers, sure--there usually are in housewrites, just because individuals tend towards vanity more than organizations, maybe?--but I think the set on average wasn't as bad as you're claiming.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Auroni »

This "high school" set was absolutely harder than the revised version from last year. When I have the time, I'll point out every bonus that I thought didn't have an easy part and every tossup that I thought was too nitpicky with clues.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Cheynem »

We can argue about difficulty until the cows come home, but we should also go to the videotape and look at the stats, which are pretty grungy in a lot of areas. Had teams not specifically from HFT's immediate field not attended the main site, numbers would have been even more depressed.

I haven't read enough of this set to really pick it apart (what I've seen is okay), but it looks like it was hard. Easier than last year, I guess, but last year was really hard too. The announcement about "barely harder than a regular difficulty tournament" was probably not what this tournament ended up being.
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Re: General discussion

Post by naturalistic phallacy »

This philosopher considered the role of humanity in enframing the truth and considered the “supreme danger” and “saving power” of edifices like hydroelectric power plants in his work The Question Concerning Technology. This philosopher claimed that the title object established a struggle between that which is ready-to-hand and that which is unintelligible to what is ready-to-hand, or between “World” and “Earth,” in The Origin of the Work of Art. His best known work suggests its first title subject must be understood by progressive cycles through a “hermeneutic circle” and posits a being he calls Dasein. For 10 points, name this author of Being and Time.
ANSWER: Martin Heidegger
Uh, that's really fucking hard for high school.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

tetragrammatology wrote: Uh, that's really fucking hard for high school.
I certainly believe you. But: because of the middle clues? I'd like more information.
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Re: General discussion

Post by naturalistic phallacy »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
tetragrammatology wrote: Uh, that's really fucking hard for high school.
I certainly believe you. But: because of the middle clues? I'd like more information.
Perhaps because it really has no middle clues? Discussing two essays of Heidegger in detail and then having a throwaway sentence about his most famous work (that high schoolers rarely encounter outside of quizbowl) seems like a poor idea to me.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
tetragrammatology wrote: Uh, that's really fucking hard for high school.
I certainly believe you. But: because of the middle clues? I'd like more information.
Yes, because you've only devoted one line to his most famous work. To be fair, it's not like most high schoolers are reading Being and Time either, since, among other things, I'm given to understand it's unbelievably dense, but it's still his most famous work, and contains his even-more-famous most famous ideas. Give some more clues about dasein, talk about the "turn" in his philosophy, something.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Auroni »

Mention that he was a Nazi (too biographical for your tastes? well high schoolers know it) near the end.
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Re: General discussion

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every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:Mention that he was a Nazi (too biographical for your tastes? well high schoolers know it) near the end.
Heidegger being a Nazi is actually pretty significant - it made a lot of people turn away from his thought, especially since he was a douchebag about it and refused to believe he did anything wrong.
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Re: General discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

I'm not sure high schoolers know that Heidegger is a Nazi, if only because I'm not sure many high schoolers know Heidegger at all. That question, at least, seems to have a fairly hard answer regardless of the clues. I'm sympathetic to the difficulties of filling up 16 packets with philosophy, but I dunno, maybe replace it with a tossup on "Nazism" or something.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Yeah, I think that's reasonable overall. I'll make those changes (or closely related ones) before the next version of the set ships.

As to the latter point--I don't know if a philosophy tossup on Nazism is very viable; I agree that Heidegger (like most non-Nietzsche Germans) appears in high school sets mostly as a negative consequence of trying for 1/1 philosophy, which is a challenge that is not always worth it, but I don't think Nazism is the final solution.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Auroni »

Cernel Joson wrote:I'm not sure high schoolers know that Heidegger is a Nazi, if only because I'm not sure many high schoolers know Heidegger at all.
If HFT were really written as a "regular difficulty +" set, then merely having a tossup on Heidegger is fairly defensible; however it ought to be a Heidegger tossup that doesn't withhold any clues people might know. If anyone who does just a speck more of knowing Heidegger than binary matching Being and Time and dasein to him, they probably know that he's a Nazi.
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Re: General discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Yeah, I think that's reasonable overall. I'll make those changes (or closely related ones) before the next version of the set ships.

As to the latter point--I don't know if a philosophy tossup on Nazism is very viable; I agree that Heidegger (like most non-Nietzsche Germans) appears in high school sets mostly as a negative consequence of trying for 1/1 philosophy, which is a challenge that is not always worth it, but I don't think Nazism is the final solution.
I'm just tossing out a possible idea (clues from Arendt and Heidegger or something--this tossup has not been thoroughly contemplated). I kinda disagree that Heidegger is going to be converted very well in high school sets, though, and I just wanted to give a potential change instead of just lecturing.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Dante (Bichette) »

Yeah, as a pretty terrible philo player, I know only Being and Time and the fact that he was a Nazi.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote: You can do two things to remedy this state of affairs: You can bill HFT as a set for high school all-stars, which it clearly was, and issue a stern warning against inexperienced teams coming. Since that doesn't do well for you financially, you can also understand that good high school teams will do well on any set that you will produce and just consciously write easy questions. However, I can say with 99% confidence that you just don't want to write the kinds of easy questions that writing a high school tournament for a wide audience entails, and I have to ask you to consider the former.
I wrote only three questions for this year's HFT, only one of which appears to have made it into the set, but as a former member of the Harvard team I'd like to speak on this subject. (Also I did play about half of HFT at a joint Maryland/Penn/Georgetown practice with Chris Ray, Eric Mukherjee, Dominic Machado, and a few others)

I don't see why a tournament should either be easy or exclude novice teams. I think there can be a tournament that allows elite teams to gauge their strength and relative performance early in the season, while also creating a learning experience for novice teams. It has never been official Harvard policy for HFT to serve this role, but notable [now ex-]Harvard College Bowl people like Ted Gioia and I have voiced this vision in the past.

The French Conscription Act of 1789 is famous for its declaration of "every citizen a solider"; I say, "every high schooler an HFT player"

I think by now, teams know that HFT will be kind of hard. It has that reputation. The HS section of HSQB abounds with jokes about the high difficulty of HFT, and I'm sure that if you wiretapped all the HS players in the world you'd hear even more of that. And yet people keep coming. Either Andy is fooling a fresh set of hundreds of people every year, or teams are OK with this.

I'm not saying that this year's HFT was of ideal difficulty, it probably (again) trended too difficult. And Andy Watkins will probably condemn large portions of this post. But I think that a somewhat harder HS tournament for a broad audience might not be so bad of an idea.
Last edited by Skepticism and Animal Feed on Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Auroni »

Morraine Man wrote:
every time i refresh i have a new name wrote: You can do two things to remedy this state of affairs: You can bill HFT as a set for high school all-stars, which it clearly was, and issue a stern warning against inexperienced teams coming. Since that doesn't do well for you financially, you can also understand that good high school teams will do well on any set that you will produce and just consciously write easy questions. However, I can say with 99% confidence that you just don't want to write the kinds of easy questions that writing a high school tournament for a wide audience entails, and I have to ask you to consider the former.
I don't see why a tournament should either be easy or exclude novice teams. I think there can be a tournament that allows elite teams to gauge their strength and relative performance early in the season, while also creating a learning experience for novice teams. It has never been official Harvard policy for HFT to serve this role, but notable [now ex-]Harvard College Bowl people like Ted Gioia and I have voiced this vision in the past.
The issue here was that this HFT seemed like it didn't even attempt to satisfy the second clause. I'm not arguing against your ideal vision of HFT, but I'm arguing that the end result is far divorced from this vision.
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Re: General discussion

Post by AlphaQuizBowler »

It seems like all of the clues for this question:
HFT Round 4 wrote:12. The lower legs of a trapeze artist wearing green shoes hang in the upper-left of this painting, below which a woman wearing golden gloves props her face on her hands. The figures in the upper right are either a poorly implemented reflection in a mirror or, more likely, a recollection of a past interaction that led the central figure to assume a dull and empty expression. Two bottles of Bass Pale Ale suggest that the title establishment might have a predominantly British clientele. For 10 points, name this last major painting by Manet, depicting a woman tending bar at a nightclub.
ANSWER: A Bar at the Folies-Bergère
can be found in the beginning of the Wikipedia page. Was this just coincidental?
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Re: General discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:It seems like all of the clues for this question:
HFT Round 4 wrote:12. The lower legs of a trapeze artist wearing green shoes hang in the upper-left of this painting, below which a woman wearing golden gloves props her face on her hands. The figures in the upper right are either a poorly implemented reflection in a mirror or, more likely, a recollection of a past interaction that led the central figure to assume a dull and empty expression. Two bottles of Bass Pale Ale suggest that the title establishment might have a predominantly British clientele. For 10 points, name this last major painting by Manet, depicting a woman tending bar at a nightclub.
ANSWER: A Bar at the Folies-Bergère
can be found in the beginning of the Wikipedia page. Was this just coincidental?
That Wikipedia page describes pretty much everything in the painting, and everything in that question is both an notable thing about the work and a reasonably common quizbowl clue. I don't think it necessarily means much.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

IIRC, my process for writing that question was to write down things I saw, and then find sources that told me what the things were (because maybe I'm an idiot but I only see two identically-labeled bottles... or maybe Internet images just aren't in good enough resolution for me to make out the labels?). I wouldn't be especially surprised if I confirmed one detail or another using Wikipedia, but I don't think Wikipedia had any kind of unusual influence on the tossup.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Susan »

I'm not sure if the writing on the labels is legible even in person, but the red triangle is (and was at the time of the painting) the logo of Bass Pale Ale.
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Re: General discussion

Post by nadph »

In my opinion, some of the problems with this set (which, nevertheless, is quite good) derive not just from it being too hard but from its highly uneven difficulty. While tossups like the aforementioned one on Heidegger (and the one on utilitarianism, IMO; I could not recognize a single one of the clues pre-FTP, but this may be my ignorance speaking), there seemed also to be a few tossups that rewarded "fake" knowledge and lateraling, or were mildly antipyramidal. As I have had only enough time to read the first round tossups, these are my comments on whatever questions from that set that struck me. If I get the time, I might write some more.

Daniel - there seems to be somewhat of a dropoff in difficulty between the somewhat vague sentence about Daniel's visions and the writing on Belshazzar's wall. The apocryphal sections in Daniel (Susanna, Bel, that prayer that Mesach/Shadrach/Abednego sing in the furnace) are somewhat interesting and well-known, so a clue about some of that could possibly be inserted after the first sentence.

X chromosome - I liked this, although it might have been on the easy side for an HFT.

Utilitarianism - Did people get this before the giveaway? As someone who doesn't know a lot of philosophy, I had never heard of any of the authors mentioned in the tossup before the giveaway. Perhaps this is an attempt to reward "real" philosophy knowledge (if such a thing exists beyond a certain point at the high school level). A quick packet search on Derek Parfit, who appears around the middle or late-middle of the tossup, shows him and his "repugnant conclusion" as appearing in the second line of a tossup on utilitarianism at Penn Bowl XIX and as a (I believe) hard bonus part at MO 2008 (the bonus goes Parfit/utilitarianism [with Mill]/Treatise of Human Nature [with Hume named]). Correct me if I'm missing something glaring or am being a complete imbecile here.

Henry the Navigator - The Aviz dynasty is a Portuguese thing, and the previous sentence establishes this man did something with exploration. Since this is HFT, I might not buzz (let's hear a tossup on an Alfonso!), but this seems open to fraud, if only to someone who doesn't know about history.

Determinants - This answer line is due for some new and unique clues (I liked what the tossup at PACE, I think, did with it); Wronskian and Hessian are quickly becoming overused, and could be legitimately buzzed on with "matrices" if the player was zoning out.

Berlioz - Is Harold in Italy less notable than Benevenuto Cellini? (This is an honest question; I always thought the former was more notable, but my music knowledge is hilariously fake.)

Rembrandt - I really think Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer should be moved down; that work has definitely come up at the high school level before. If anything, this would be a time for a Rembrandt tossup that puts all the titles at the end (and emphasizes descriptions of works)

Charge - Is I = dQ/dt really more obscure than I give it credit for? Nevertheless, I like the tossup as a whole.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Nikhil, you're wrong about the "fraud" complaints in high school. Most high schoolers have no idea who the Aviz are. Most high schoolers have no idea what Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer is. Almost no high schoolers have the slightest clue what Wronskian or Hessian matrices are. The idea that a clue becomes easier because it has come up in the past is absurd and is exactly the mentality that has made high school quizbowl too hard lately.

Also, Benvenuto Cellini is very important, I could go either way on it being easier or harder than Harold in Italy.

You are right about the tossups you single out as way too hard. You just are completely wrong in your approach to judging what is too easy.
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Re: General discussion

Post by nadph »

Yeah, what I meant to say was that this set was incredibly skewed towards top teams, who would be both more likely (by virtue of greater experience) to get the tossups that are too damn hard, and (by virtue of playing more and perhaps having a possibly more well-defined canon sense) being able to "fraud" the tossups that are "fraudable." Both of these things are things that, while not completely avoidable, could definitely be minimized.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Yeah, definitely, glad to hear that's what you meant. You're absolutely right that that should be cut down in high school quizbowl.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Cheynem »

This tournament was very hard. One thing I noticed in bonus parts was that an "attempt" to give an easy part, like with the Fugard one that went Master Harold and the Boys/Fugard/Island, with the last noting there is a Robert Louis Stevenson "Treasure" one of these. Not only are these parties annoyingly stupid, they also frequently confuse people, resulting in a botched easy part. I myself botched the "easy" part in the Benjamin bonus by failing to get "translation," even though I have extensively studied Benjamin (which I would assume no high schooler seriously does). Having bonuses completely on, say, William Saroyan or the Frankfurt School (things on which no one would bat an eye to see ACF Regs or above bonuses on), also struck me as a poor idea. Again, using some common link Balzac clue for Saroyan's "The Human Comedy" does not make it okay, in my opinion.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Among these, I only wrote "translation"; I did feel at that point in the ss like I was pretty strained to find another bonus, so no surprise that it wasn't at par. But what about that easy part was confusing? I don't particularly plan on writing any more easy parts on translation, but I thought it was comprehensible.
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Re: General discussion

Post by AlphaQuizBowler »

Getting that bonus after the 18th tossup in the final game at Central Gwinnett was not fun. We missed translation with "literary analysis?" If you want it to be the easy part, then you have to make it more clear, because right now you're relying on people inferring "translation" from the fact that those authors didn't write in English.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Ah, rereading it, I see the trouble.
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Re: General discussion

Post by jonah »

I thought this set was great, other than a few excessively difficult questions. One nitpick:
Round 4 wrote:8. Poems called piyyuttim are incorporated into services during this observance, and the Fast of Gedaliah occurs the day after this holiday. One practice during this observance involves emptying one's pockets by flowing water and is known as “Tashlikh” and apples and bread are commonly dipped in honey on this observance. This day, which cannot fall on the first, fourth, or sixth day of the week, features the blowing of the shofar, and people greet each other with the phrase “L'Shana Tova” on this holiday. This holiday is celebrated ten days before Yom Kippur on the first of Tishrei. For 10 points, identify this holiday, the Jewish new year.
ANSWER: Rosh Hashanah
Piyutim are just liturgical poems and aren't as a group associated with any particular holiday (though most of them are individually)—for example, Ma'oz Tsur is a piyut for Chanukkah, and Adon Olam and Yigdal are piyutim recited every day.

Also, Rosh HaShanah is celebrated nine days before Yom Kippur: Rosh is the first day of Tishrei and Yom is the tenth, which is probably where the confusion originated, but that's a nine-day difference.

Finally, I would've prompted on or maybe even accepted "Jewish new year", but I don't feel strongly about that.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Black-throated Antshrike »

Umm I know im a bit late to the party but why was magnetic monopoles considered to hard? I got it fairly early. It seemed sort of obvious because it was a particle that hasn't been discovered and has a field. I can think of very few examples in the hs cannon that would fit that.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Kouign Amann »

Andrew Jackson's Compatriot wrote:Umm I know im a bit late to the party but why was magnetic monopoles considered to easy? I got it fairly early. It seemed sort of obvious because it was a particle that hasn't been discovered and has a field. I can think of very few examples in the hs cannon that would fit that.
I assume you mean "too hard," not "too easy." No one in this thread claimed monopoles were easy. The problem is that 90% of high schoolers wouldn't know a magnetic monopole if it suddenly appeared to them and started screaming "I'm a magnetic monopole!" It's just not a convertible answer line for most people, and dead tossups are the enemy. Kudos to you for getting it, but just because you know something does not mean that it is easy.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Black-throated Antshrike »

Prof.Whoopie wrote:
Andrew Jackson's Compatriot wrote:Umm I know im a bit late to the party but why was magnetic monopoles considered to easy? I got it fairly early. It seemed sort of obvious because it was a particle that hasn't been discovered and has a field. I can think of very few examples in the hs cannon that would fit that.
I assume you mean "too hard," not "too easy." No one in this thread claimed monopoles were easy. The problem is that 90% of high schoolers wouldn't know a magnetic monopole if it suddenly appeared to them and started screaming "I'm a magnetic monopole!" It's just not a convertible answer line for most people, and dead tossups are the enemy. Kudos to you for getting it, but just because you know something does not mean that it is easy.
Yeah I edited my post. I feel that magnetic monopoles is a viable tossup to be asked at a harder tournament. We knew going in that the science would probably be on the harder end but its still getable. We've heard it before at regular strength tournaments and that's what this was marketed to be. Granted it might be on the harder end but I still feel it is gettable to most hs teams.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

You don't know what most high school teams know then. You're on a decent teams at a school with good academics. I can tell you with 99% certainty that, in my experience of reading or playing in hundreds of high school games, questions about magnetic monopoles would go dead among something like 95 or more percent of the teams I've seen.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

Can I get a copy of the set please?

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Re: General discussion

Post by DrCongo »

Could I please have a digital copy as well? Also, was the Solon mirror the last HFT mirror?

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Re: General discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

There's a singles tournament in Missouri in May or so that's using it, I think.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

DrCongo wrote:Could I please have a digital copy as well? Also, was the Solon mirror the last HFT mirror?

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I looked through the tournament announcements forum, and found this:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10815

So apparently it won't be cleared until May 22.
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