NASAT Discussion

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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NASAT Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:14 pm

Hey everyone,
NASAT 2012 is over and the set is clear, so I'd like to open up discussion of the questions in this thread.

First off, congratulations to Team California for clearing the field to win the tournament. Hopefully someday NASAT will have a true final, but as things stand their championship is well-earned.

Secondly, I'd like to thank all those who helped make the set happen. Tommy Casalaspi edited literature and wrote basically all the film questions*; Miriam Nussbaum edited auditory fine arts; Carsten Gehring edited history; Matt Weiner edited social science, geography, philosophy, current events and religion; Eric Mukherjee, Aaron Cohen, and Cody Voight edited science; and I head-edited the tournament on top of subject-editing visual arts and mythology.

*As people may have noticed, this tournament had a total of 5/5 film in line with Tommy's proposals earlier this year. I think Tommy wrote well-constructed questions on accessible topics, and I hope people enjoyed those.

I'd also like to single out certain writers who went above and beyond the call of duty on this set. Matt Jackson, despite being a freelancer, contributed 39 questions and helped with proofreading, playtesting, and editing. Among full members, Tommy Casalaspi and Auroni Gupta both wrote 59 questions; Daniel Hothem wrote 79; and Mike Cheyne wrote a staggering 108, including the majority of the Americana in the tournament. If they had not pulled far more than their weight, this tournament would not have happened.

As far as head-editing went, I spent some of my time fixing a few really egregious problems that slipped through the cracks, but spent most of it evening bonuses out across categories. Some bonuses definitely ended up harder than others just because of time constraints, and there was more than one occasion when I looked at a question and winced, wishing that I had edited it a lot more. I think I succeeded, though, in making sure most bonuses had a very easy easy part, a middle part that was gettable if you knew things in the category but missable if you didn't, and a hard hard part that remained gettable to people with deep knowledge in the subject area. The bonuses ended up slightly easier than the tossups, I think, but as a result they were more fair and balanced; not perfect by any means, but not schizophrenic either. If there was one category people think ended up much harder than the others, or some advice on how I could reduce on bonus variability, I'd be glad to hear it.

Finally, it's time for some theory. As head editor, I tried to make this tournament a fun and interesting competition after the more stressful past few weeks. HSNCT and NSC have to crown a champion out of dozens of teams who have collectively prepared for what's going to come up; they also have to provide a suitable competition for teams on the lower end of the spectrum, one in which not too many tossups go dead. As a result, those tournaments tend to have lots of very deep questions on the "core" canon, which is appropriate for their goal. The NASAT field, on the other hand, consists of conglomerates of knowledgeable people who have often never played together and don't really know what to expect, but can handle themselves very well on harder questions. It's therefore become a much more laid-back and unpredictable event, and the set has had a somewhat more whimsical feel. We could write a bunch of questions on interesting stuff that we felt like writing without worrying that they would be too hard for the field, or insufficiently "core" for a season-culminating tournament, or what have you. I certainly wrote plenty of questions on basic things (Count of Monte Cristo, Ludwig van Beethoven, Alexandria, for instance), but also wrote tossups on things you'd see basically nowhere else (if my tossup on Thomas Stamford Raffles offended anyone, I extend my apologies, but it amused me.) In general, I was happy with how this turned out. I saw good buzzes on my tossups on Buddhas in sculpture, Alexander's invasion of India, Roman baths, and plenty of other questions that I couldn't have written for any other high school set. From what I saw, people seemed to be having fun, and I hope that's accurate.

General comments on set difficulty, philosophy, or quality are welcome.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:31 pm

I wrote a number of questions for this (including, amusingly, at least two questions that have been kicking around for years in some sort of HSAPQ purgatory--finally, "Winter Dreams" has been judged appropriate for nationals).

I kinda agree with Matt in that I was trying to think of interesting/amusing/compelling topics for my categories and less about the "core canon" ideas. I really tried to think of answer lines that I had been wanting to write on for a while but perhaps refrained from for various reasons. My favorites in this vein included: the embargo against Cuba, African colonization, the Russian Provisional Government, attempting to assassinate John Paul II, the Lindbergh kidnapping, the death of Princess Diana, Vietnam War era photography, Jackie Robinson, TV shows, and cockfights. Of course, your mileage may vary.

For bonuses, I tried to hit the same vein (I particularly liked the headlines one I wrote), but for literature, I tried to do deeper or more "conceptual " (i.e., an action) parts from famous works. While sometimes it's appropriate, I'm not always the biggest fan of "Name this harder work" hard parts in lit bonus parts, so I tried shaking it up in a lot of the lit bonuses I wrote by asking for like how certain characters died or major plot points (i.e., Biff discovering his dad is having an affair in Death of a Salesman). Hopefully this worked.

I had a lot of fun writing my questions for this and I hope people had fun playing them. I though the set was of very good quality minus the occasional clunker and too variable bonuses.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by ryanrosenberg » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:23 am

Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:As people may have noticed, this tournament had a total of 5/5 film in line with Tommy's proposals earlier this year. I think Tommy wrote well-constructed questions on accessible topics, and I hope people enjoyed those.
I liked the film in this tournament a lot, especially the tossups on The Godfather and Chinatown. I think the film fit in well with Matt's stated goal of having this be a tournament that asked about things you might not see at other tournaments during the year, but still being accessible and interesting.
Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:Mike Cheyne wrote a staggering 108, including the majority of the Americana in the tournament.
This basically made the tournament for me (not that the rest of the questions weren't also very good).
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by mtimmons » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:19 am

Even though Minnesota finished near the bottom, I've definitely enjoyed this tournament a lot. The competition was obviously fantastic. The vast majority of tossups were gettable even for teams like Minnesota and the easy bonus parts were so easy that we only missed a handful throughout the tournament. I would even go as far as to suggest that the easy parts could be made significantly harder without harming the experience of any team. This is mainly because unlike other nationals there are no weak teams. For example, Minnesota which finished second to last and had the worst bonus conversion would still be pretty strong compared to the field of HSNCT. I very much liked the increased emphasis on math as compared to other ACF-style tournaments although there seemed to be less math bonuses than tossups. I'm not sure if tossups that seemed like blended math/physics to me were counted as math or if didn't hear them for some reason though. Although this is common at many ACF-style tournaments I felt like this tournament could have used more current events than whatever fraction of questions per packet that it gets under the current distribution. I generally enjoyed the wackier questions although in a number of cases it was hard to figure out what the question wanted. The Stalin-Tito falling out [I'm not 100% sure it was exactly this but it was something like this] question being the worst offender in this regard.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:31 pm

mtimmons wrote:I would even go as far as to suggest that the easy parts could be made significantly harder without harming the experience of any team. This is mainly because unlike other nationals there are no weak teams.
Without going full Chrz on you, I'm going to disagree with this. If HSAPQ's goal is to expand this tournament to more than ~15 teams, then a significant number of those teams are going to be weaker than this year's Minnesota team. I'm thinking of, for instance, the teams from New Hampshire and Oklahoma that attended the first instance of NASAT - they weren't weak teams by any measure, but the state of their circuit made it more difficult for them to compete on standard NASAT fare. Keeping the tossups and easy bonus parts at their current difficulty so that these teams can have meaningful games (not 90-70) is paramount to expanding the NASAT. I think the editors (particularly the science guys) did a good job of filtering out anything that didn't have a real easy part.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:48 pm

My opinion is that NASAT does not need to become more difficult at any point in the near future.

I will also reiterate, though, that once we get beyond the 25 or so states that could theoretically put up a competitive all-star team right now, there will be something besides the possibility of winning the tournament that attracts anyone further. Panasonic got 46 teams once. It cost around $6000 all told to play Panasonic, you got two games, the questions were extremely difficult, and the logistics of organizing a team were even more challenging than they are for NASAT. Clearly, if a tournament with absolutely no appeal to good quizbowl and an insanely high cost of participation could attract 46 teams, a tournament that costs a lot less and has a built-in base of quizbowl people who want to go can do the same or better. That is what we are trying to accomplish. The ultimate goal is a tournament that is as uncompromising a good quizbowl experience as NASAT is right now, that additionally has the bells and whistles of Panasonic in order to expand its appeal.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:04 pm

Yeah, I would agree with difficulty--truth be told, I would say this year's NASAT field was great. Even a team like Indiana that didn't win a game would probably mop the floor with states with weaker circuits (no offense to these hypothetical states). With a field like that, the easy parts won't differentiate much from teams, but they're not supposed to.

I would love to see NASAT eventually reach a Panasonic type level of bells and whistles. Some things that I think would be great to have:

-an All-Star Game, perhaps with the PACE like charity component, or perhaps with some "statewide" prize or something (like the winning states in the All-Star Game get donations to state causes, etc.)

-a banquet or dinner, with perhaps some awards being handed out.

-some sort of social event perhaps involving more whimsical questions or activities (state team written guerrilla packets!) . When I played Panasonic, everyone was taken to the Disney World mock Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? attraction to play a few rounds of that, which was reasonably entertaining.

-a big photo of all the participants

-
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:34 pm

Speaking of entry fees and sponsored tournaments like the Panasonic, is it possible that sponsorship could lower the entry fees? I mean, the second History Bowl got sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the History Channel, but it looks like that all went toward prizes and the middle school tournament getting aired on TV, with the team entry fee going up from $325 to $450. This might be a little off topic, since I don't think the other nationals are actually seeking sponsorship (correct me if I'm wrong), but it seems like finding a way to lower costs would help enlarge the field.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:37 pm

Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant wrote:Speaking of entry fees and sponsored tournaments like the Panasonic, is it possible that sponsorship could lower the entry fees? I mean, the second History Bowl got sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the History Channel, but it looks like that all went toward prizes and the middle school tournament getting aired on TV, with the team entry fee going up from $325 to $450. This might be a little off topic, since I don't think the other nationals are actually seeking sponsorship (correct me if I'm wrong), but it seems like finding a way to lower costs would help enlarge the field.
We have been talking to potential sponsors all year, though there is nothing definite to report yet. This effort will continue, and as soon as there is something certain to talk about I will make sure everyone on the board knows.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by ryanrosenberg » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:38 pm

Cheynem wrote:Yeah, I would agree with difficulty--truth be told, I would say this year's NASAT field was great. Even a team like Indiana that didn't win a game would probably mop the floor with states with weaker circuits (no offense to these hypothetical states). With a field like that, the easy parts won't differentiate much from teams, but they're not supposed to.

I would love to see NASAT eventually reach a Panasonic type level of bells and whistles. Some things that I think would be great to have:

-an All-Star Game, perhaps with the PACE like charity component, or perhaps with some "statewide" prize or something (like the winning states in the All-Star Game get donations to state causes, etc.)

-a banquet or dinner, with perhaps some awards being handed out.

-some sort of social event perhaps involving more whimsical questions or activities (state team written guerrilla packets!) . When I played Panasonic, everyone was taken to the Disney World mock Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? attraction to play a few rounds of that, which was reasonably entertaining.

-a big photo of all the participants
I like these ideas, and I think that they could fit in nicely with NASAT's current format. I heard some complaints this weekend that the tournament ran almost too quickly--i.e. coming back for two or three rounds on Sunday seemed almost pointless. If NASAT were to go to a one-day main event a la ICT, then Sunday and perhaps Friday night could be used for these proposed bells and whistles.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:54 pm

cvdwightw wrote:Without going full Chrz on you
Hm, i guess that's a thing, sure.

The previous NASAT sets i've seen, by the way, are amazing practice material... albeit, quite hard for everyone on my team minus one or two, but they've been awesome so far and i'm excited to see this set too.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Great Bustard » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:27 pm

Among all-subject quizbowl tournaments, this was my favorite set to listen to all year (thanks largely to the more daring answer lines), and it seemed like the difficulty of the set was basically perfect for the teams in attendance. A question though: It was great to see the 5 film questions (though Chinatown went way too long in my room, and Marlene Dietrich wasn't answered at all). I'm glad to see more modern films creeping in - I think characterizing all recent films as trash is way overblown. To bring up a thread, though, from about a year ago, when will NASAT/HSAPQ/ACF start including more film (esp. recent films) music, and television into their sets? It seems like there's all sorts of culturally significant stuff like the Beatles, All in the Family, There Will Be Blood, etc. which is underrepresented because it is usually thought of as trash (even though one of course can take all sorts of college courses on this stuff). I think one problem is the lack of a recognized canon here, though that can in principle be overcome (since of course the canon expands each year), but a bigger question is do other people think that a reevaluation of the distribution on more popular cultural history is due? Just throwing this out again to see people's thoughts.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:35 pm

Well, you can take college courses in almost anything, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's appropriate for quizbowl (lest anyone accuse me of snobbery, I'm writing a thesis on sitcoms, so I appreciate television questions as much as anyone). I'd like to see more modern film and I think we made some steps in the right direction by seeing some questions on films post 1960 that were not foreign, such as The Godfather and Chinatown. There was also a history question on Jackie Robinson and a social science tossup on "television." I'm sure we'll try to come up with other questions on important, significant, and accessible aspects of popular culture.

One thing that I was pleased with was that the Robinson question (attempted) to reward a knowledge of sports history as opposed to just banal memorization of statistics and trivia. Similarly, all of the film questions (I didn't write any of them) featured interesting and important clues that would be rewarded from a close viewing as opposed to just IMDB trivia browsing (the bonus that asked for Ali: Fear Eats the Soul may have been going too far, however).
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:50 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:To bring up a thread, though, from about a year ago, when will NASAT/HSAPQ/ACF start including more film (esp. recent films) music, and television into their sets?
I got curious about this during the Eastwood thing, and looked to see what NAQT's film distro is like. ICT had 5/6, HSNCT 7/6, and IS sets 4/3. Looks like all of it, regardless of significance (including Clint Eastwood lol), is filed under pop culture. In other words, those distributions include both trash and arty stuff.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:34 pm

NAQT does not distinguish between "art" films and "trash" films.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Remember-the-Alamo-Remember-Goliad » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:54 pm

I'm sure there must be a posting somewhere about subject distribution in the packets for NASAT, but I just don't recall where to find it.

In particular, I was interested if there were any questions on geography-related topics in NASAT packets.

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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:48 pm

There was much to love in this set, like the films mentioned earlier, even if a bonus entirely on Cronenberg is IMO too much of a 0-30 proposition. The tossup on the Tito-Stalin split I think was way too vague and hard to parse, even with the Informbiro clue early on. I particularly loved the tossups on the Day of the Dead, prophecy, the AIDS epidemic, and television in social science. I liked this set's sense of experimentation and testing of canonical boundaries, though some bonuses were particularly on the hard side (twinning).
Last edited by i never see pigeons in wheeling on Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:49 pm

List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:Can someone post the Roman baths tossup mentioned by Matt in the first post? I'm not sure I recall having heard this tossup, and I have a particular interest in it having toured Bath last year.
It was in our game against you; Nikhil and I both did our best Apoxyomenos impressions right after it.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:58 pm

One room in these locations was topped by a bronze shield that could be elevated and lowered with chains. 130 curse tablets were discovered at one of these places dedicated to the goddess Sulis. In these locations, citizens made use of the sharp strigil in a practice depicted in the <i>Apoxyomenos</i> sculpture. They made use of hypocaust technology and contained an outdoor <i>palaestra</i> used for exercise. Famous examples of these structures were built by Diocletian and Caracalla. They contained the <i>apodyterium</i>, but their most frequently-used rooms were the <i>frigidarium</i>, <i>tepidarium</i>, and <i>caldarium</i>. For 10 points, name these public structures, also known as <i>thermae</i>, where Romans cleaned themselves.
ANSWER: Roman _baths_ [or _balnea_e; accept _thermae_ before read]
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:03 am

Oh right. The second clue was from the baths in Britain, but for some reason it flew over my head. The curse tablets said things like "I suspect X of having stolen my beloved cloak. If X does not return it tomorrow, may Sulis cause eternal impotence upon him."
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:12 am

Anyway, I think a tournament like this is a golden opportunity for media outreach and sponsorship, as teams will be more likely to come if they can claim to represent their state and appear in a newspaper (not to mention having their costs paid), while newspapers themselves are more likely to sponsor/discuss teams that represent an entire state. If there's anything that bad national tournaments have historically done better than good national tournaments, it's getting media outlets to pay attention to them in some capacity. I suspect tournament attendance will greatly increase without diluting the quality of the competition.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Kyle » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:59 am

List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:Oh right. The second clue was from the baths in Britain, but for some reason it flew over my head. The curse tablets said things like "I suspect X of having stolen my beloved cloak. If X does not return it tomorrow, may Sulis cause eternal impotence upon him."
Sulis as in Aquae Sulis, the Roman name for Bath.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:09 pm

Kyle wrote:
List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:Oh right. The second clue was from the baths in Britain, but for some reason it flew over my head. The curse tablets said things like "I suspect X of having stolen my beloved cloak. If X does not return it tomorrow, may Sulis cause eternal impotence upon him."
Sulis as in Aquae Sulis, the Roman name for Bath.
But they also invented a goddess named Sulis who was syncretized with Minerva (at least I think).
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by Kyle » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:15 pm

List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:
Kyle wrote:
List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:Oh right. The second clue was from the baths in Britain, but for some reason it flew over my head. The curse tablets said things like "I suspect X of having stolen my beloved cloak. If X does not return it tomorrow, may Sulis cause eternal impotence upon him."
Sulis as in Aquae Sulis, the Roman name for Bath.
But they also invented a goddess named Sulis who was syncretized with Minerva (at least I think).
Yes, absolutely -- that's the etymology of the name Aquae Sulis. I just suspect you are in the minority for associating Sulis primarily with the goddess rather than with the place name.
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Re: NASAT Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:00 pm

Hey,

I just wanted to say that I'm preparing to move, so the "thank you notes" I like to send after a tournament is over are going to be a bit delayed.
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