Chicago Open thanks and discussions

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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by MicroEStudent » Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:38 pm

Gypsy punk wrote:And Nathaniel Kane from RIT.
Mostly correct. Microelectronic engineering is a subset of EE. I wouldn't be qualified to do signal processing or anything like that. Also, watch out quizbowl, our team may end up having three microelectronic or electrical engineers next year!

Back on topic, for the questions related to semiconductors (the only ones I'd feel qualified to speak about at this level) seemed to be free of errors which is a nice change from my usual gripes, so good job to Jerry et al. on that.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Magister Ludi » Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:29 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
As I lay with my head in your lap camerado, The Unvanquished, The Pit, The Time of Your Life
All My Sons, Dutchman, The House of the Seven Gables, WH Gass
Billy Bathgate, The Comedian as the Letter C, The Changing Light at Sandover, WD Howells
Pale Fire, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Barn Burning, At Melville's Tomb, Delmore Schwartz
Heartbreak House, The Way of All Flesh, Jerusalem, L'Allegro, The Quiet American
DG Rosetti, Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, The Sea and the Mirror, Romola, The Whitsun Weddings
Kipling, The Man of Mode, Darley, The Spire, To Autumn
On Murder, considered as one of the Fine Arts, going to the moon, Leopardi, Atta Troll
Apollinaire, The Maids, Mary Renault, WG Sebald, Provencal/Occitan, Vinteuil's Sonata
Bread and Wine, Carlo Goldoni, Thebaid, The Family of Pascual Duarte, John Gardner
Alfonse Daudet, The Sandman, The man before the law, Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Snow, The Poor Christ of Bomba, Elizabeth Costello
Diary of a Madman, Arrow of God, Mahmoud Darwish, R. K. Narayan, The Ark Sakura
Quincas Borba, The Chalk Circle, Wang Wei, A Manual for Manuel
Peter Carey, Paradiso, The Shipyard, Martha Quest

Looking at the set of those tossup choices, maybe people can tell me what parts they think are not in "the core." For myself, I would nominate the now-much-discussed The Shipyard, Mary Renault, Darwish, The Ark Sakura, Paradiso, The Poor Christ of Bomba, perhaps Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, and I'm not sure what else. I mean, all of these tossup choices (a majority of which were submitted, by the way, and not written by me) are from or about some pretty important core authors. We've got Faulkner, Proust, Keats, Cortazar, Auden, Durell, Golding, de Quincey, Joyce, Stevens, Lessing, Salinger, Kafka, Blake. I don't see how anyone could reasonably claim that the majority of the writers represented in this tournament are not part of whatever "core" you might like to imagine there being. I don't want to put words into anyone's mouth, but it seems to me that people are getting hung up on a few balls-out hard questions and ignoring the fact that there's a shitton of stuff on major, important authors in this tournament. And the stuff that isn't from authors that a lot of people have likely read was selected because it's the most representative or well known work of that author.

Were the questions difficult? For sure. But they were also questions that you could get and they certainly weren't skirting the periphery of stuff people actually read. If it seems like I'm being defensive about it, well, I am, because I think the accusations of "hollowness" against this tournament are not founded on any specific facts but rather on a general sense of frustration. If you think "this is too hard," then I guess I'm sympathetic to that, but suggesting that I'm somehow leaving out major parts of the canon in favor of pet expansion topics is not particularly fair.
I didn't play this tournament, but I read it this past week and found some of the things Jerry is defending in this thread to be very silly. Jerry's claim that there is no way to judge subjectively the importance of books (or subjects in any academic discipline) is relativistic posturing. No, there is obviously no universally acknowledged canon of literature or any subject, but there are many valid, academic proposed canons. Lots of critics have proposed canons, Harvard and many other universities give their English grad students lists of the couple hundred books they must read for their general exam. I'm not saying any one of these canons is universal, but taking into account it becomes pretty obvious to figure out which writers are objectively more important than others.

I think Jerry seems to be confused with the difference between a core canon and an outer canon. The core canon consists of writers who are unquestionably important such as Tolstoy, Hemingway, Keats etc, but the outer canon still consists of writers who are considered very important by a general consensus such as John Cheever or James Merrill. Objectively, Merril or Cheever are more important than whoever is quizbowl's current favorite Caribbean author. These people in the outer canon are still likely to taught in a good number of classes, discussed in magazines or panels, and read by the general public, in a way that Onetti is not. I shot a quick email to three of my literature professors to ask if any of them have ever heard of Onetti and all three responded that they had never heard of him. Not to say these three guys represent an academic consensus but I think it's revealing.

I strongly agree with what the two Andrews were saying above. Basically, I would prefer to see most of literature answers taken from the core canon and outer canon and not from the middle of fucking nowhere. I don't mind a few weird answers, but when a large percentage of the tossup answers are selected because they're interesting or amusing to the head editor rather than because they're important I think it hurts the tournament. I understand it can be difficult for people unfamiliar with the literature canon to know what is or is not important, but those writers should err on the side of safety and write on obviously important subjects. Along the same line of reasoning Faulkner, Golding, and Lessing (on a lucky day) are in the canon but The Unvanquished, The Spire, and Martha Quest aren't really part of the canon so asking about those kinds of works ruins the whole point.

I actually enjoyed reading this tournament and thought there were lots of fun and interesting questions, but I am unsettled by Jerry's stringent defense of its tossup selection. I don't have a problem with Jerry deciding to write a tournament that fits his ideal vision of hard quizbowl, but it seems odd to yell at people for criticizing the tournament's difficulty or answer selection. Jerry's first priority was editing a tournament that he thought would be interesting and novel and not editing a tournament that would receive the highest community praise. I could understand if he yelled at people who said the tournament was uninteresting, but its weird to yell at them for saying the tournament is too difficult when his vision for the tournament was to push the boundaries of the canon. I don't want to criticize Jerry too much because the tournament had great clues and well written questions, but I hope that he takes into consideration some of the criticisms people have made against the answer selection for CO while editing ACF Nats.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by millionwaves » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:09 pm

It will perhaps be some consolation to those in quizbowl who are seeking their graduate degrees in Hispanic Literature that if you were doing so at Harvard, you'd have to read The Shipyard.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Aug 01, 2010 6:22 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:I didn't play this tournament, but I read it this past week and found some of the things Jerry is defending in this thread to be very silly. Jerry's claim that there is no way to judge subjectively the importance of books (or subjects in any academic discipline) is relativistic posturing.
Let me just say that while I totally respect your right to disagree with me on any matter, quizbowl or otherwise, I find it rather offensive to be accused of posturing of any kind, let alone relativistic posturing. That's one of those shorthands that is used to discredit people instead of engage them in a constructive dialogue; I think you're better than than, Ted.

I hold firmly to my statement that beyond some core elements, very few things are of overriding importance. The reason they are better or worse known within quizbowl rarely has anything to do with such metrics. There isn't any way of comparing the importance of Don de Lillo and Alphonse Daudet, not least because they are elements of different literary traditions. Arguments based on intrinsic importance are more often than not, in my view, masks for one's own personal preferences. I'm not convinced that a tertiary novel by Waugh, for example, is better than the primary work of some other, less well-known author or deserves to come up more.
No, there is obviously no universally acknowledged canon of literature or any subject, but there are many valid, academic proposed canons. Lots of critics have proposed canons, Harvard and many other universities give their English grad students lists of the couple hundred books they must read for their general exam. I'm not saying any one of these canons is universal, but taking into account it becomes pretty obvious to figure out which writers are objectively more important than others.
Read the things you quoted carefully; what I am saying is that, contrary to assertions made earlier in the discussion, this tournament did indeed include a whole lot of stuff that is canonical, by any plausible definition of "canon." It also included some things that weren't. My argument is that accusations of "hollowness" against this set are just a mistake, and I can rebut those accusations by reference to what actually came up in the tournament.

Also, I find it rather implausible that we're going to sit down and figure out which authors we should and shouldn't write about by going through critics' canons. Not that I have anything against someone actually doing that, but the suggestion that this is how we should write questions is not particularly practical. And what if it turns out James Woods loves The Shipyard?
I think Jerry seems to be confused with the difference between a core canon and an outer canon.
I'm not confused about any such thing!
The core canon consists of writers who are unquestionably important such as Tolstoy, Hemingway, Keats etc, but the outer canon still consists of writers who are considered very important by a general consensus such as John Cheever or James Merrill. Objectively, Merril or Cheever are more important than whoever is quizbowl's current favorite Caribbean author.
Whoa there chief! That's a pretty bold assertion that requires some fairly persuasive evidence. I'm not ready to accept Merrill's overriding importance on your say-so alone. There might well be Caribbean authors who are more important than Merrill.
These people in the outer canon are still likely to taught in a good number of classes, discussed in magazines or panels, and read by the general public, in a way that Onetti is not. I shot a quick email to three of my literature professors to ask if any of them have ever heard of Onetti and all three responded that they had never heard of him. Not to say these three guys represent an academic consensus but I think it's revealing.
I don't believe that literature professors are necessarily the best group to sample. As Trygve already pointed out, Onetti is on the graduate reading list in the Hispanic Literature program at Harvard, so I'm guessing your professors are likely to not know much about him, if anything at all, because their focus is on some other writers.
I strongly agree with what the two Andrews were saying above. Basically, I would prefer to see most of literature answers taken from the core canon and outer canon and not from the middle of fucking nowhere. I don't mind a few weird answers, but when a large percentage of the tossup answers are selected because they're interesting or amusing to the head editor rather than because they're important I think it hurts the tournament. I understand it can be difficult for people unfamiliar with the literature canon to know what is or is not important, but those writers should err on the side of safety and write on obviously important subjects. Along the same line of reasoning Faulkner, Golding, and Lessing (on a lucky day) are in the canon but The Unvanquished, The Spire, and Martha Quest aren't really part of the canon so asking about those kinds of works ruins the whole point.
These assertions are completely unfounded. Why is Lord of the Flies part of the canon and The Spire is not? Because you read the former in high school but not the latter? I see no basis for making this distinction at all. Nevermind that I didn't write the tossups on either Martha Quest or The Unvanquished. Anyway, I don't accept your argument here at all and I see no grounds to make such a judgment.

Here's what I don't get: on the one hand some people are complaining (rightly, I think) that too many trendy authors come up all the time. On the other hand, people are saying, "why aren't you testing the core canon?" When I point out that I did, in fact, do so to a large extent, it becomes "well, you wrote about more minor works!" It's a constantly moving target that I would be shocked if any editor could hit. Very few things in this tournament came "from the middle of fucking nowhere." Of course there were a few such questions, but most of the topics were sampled from a fairly canonical set of options.

The tournament you guys want happened in February, and it was called ACF Regionals. If you want more tossups on the same three Thomas Hardy novels, go there. That'll test your deep knowledge of what you think is the "core canon." At this point I can only conclude that our notions of importance are clearly so radically divergent that I could never possibly satisfy yours without sacrificing my idea of what I think a tournament like CO ought to be.
I actually enjoyed reading this tournament and thought there were lots of fun and interesting questions, but I am unsettled by Jerry's stringent defense of its tossup selection. I don't have a problem with Jerry deciding to write a tournament that fits his ideal vision of hard quizbowl, but it seems odd to yell at people for criticizing the tournament's difficulty or answer selection.
I find it incredible to have what I have engaged in in this thread to be described as "yelling," especially as "yelling at people for criticizing the tournament's difficulty." I haven't done anything of the sort anywhere in my posts.
Jerry's first priority was editing a tournament that he thought would be interesting and novel and not editing a tournament that would receive the highest community praise. I could understand if he yelled at people who said the tournament was uninteresting, but its weird to yell at them for saying the tournament is too difficult when his vision for the tournament was to push the boundaries of the canon. I don't want to criticize Jerry too much because the tournament had great clues and well written questions, but I hope that he takes into consideration some of the criticisms people have made against the answer selection for CO while editing ACF Nats.
Man, where were you people when tossups on "Micromegas," and The Road to Mecca were coming up? Oh hey, no one said anything about that. You know, there was a moment in the last match when we were playing Harvard and I answered a tossup on Vicente Guerrero. I turned to Subash and said, "Vicente Guerrero, really?" To which Subash just shrugged and said, "Hey, it's the ACF Nationals playoffs." My response to the above is basically, "Hey, it's ACF Nationals." While there will likely be fewer truly experimental questions, I don't believe ACF Nationals is a tournament to see who knows more about the same things that come up at regular difficulty events. Not only do I not believe that, but I'm pretty sure that no ACF Nationals editor has ever produced a tournament that looks like that; it's always been difficult and full of novel content, so don't be surprised if this year, ACF Nationals is difficult (like it always is) and full of novel content (like it always is).
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by cornfused » Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:18 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Ray, thanks for making this point. I think this is actually quite similar to the fact that, for quizbowl, Soviet literature begins and ends with Bulgakov. Now, Bulgakov is great and all, but there are a lot of other writers of the time who are no less worthy of mention; in particular, I find it weird that The Twelve Chairs, which is likely to be the most popular Soviet novel of the 20th century, is something that's considered on the borders of the canon. Anyway, it's good to have someone who has the additional knowledge put forth other candidates.
On this topic: Erofeev, Petrushevskaya, and Pelevin would be great additions.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Magister Ludi » Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:46 pm

Jerry I think you and I may have irreconcilably different opinions about the existence of a literary canon, but I would suggest you take a step back and actually think about what I wrote. I specifically mentioned several times that I don't believe in one universal canon. I made sure to stress that line of reasoning because I had a feeling you were going to try to pidgeonhole my argument in this way. If you look over some of the different canons proposed by critics, assigned reading lists for grad schools, list of books/authors that are most often discussed in panels, blogs, festivals it is completely possible to form a good sense of the general literary canon. I am not saying that I think every question writer needs to have intimate knowledge of the literary canon, but frankly if you are going to edit literature for CO you absolutely must have some sense of the literary canon. I am not saying that every critic or list needs to agree on every figure, but if I see Cheever and Merrill on every list and don't see Onetti on any general list of the greatest 20th century writers than I feel pretty secure in claiming Onetti is less important than either of those figures.

I disagree with your statement, "that beyond some core elements, very few things are of overriding importance." This idea proposes a false dichotomy between the super important things and everything else. I was suggesting that it is better to take a more gradual approach to looking at literary importance. So lets take a look at how you would compare Merrill and Onetti. If you made a quick list of the major 20th century American poets valuing you're first tier would have Eliot, Stevens, Frost, Bishop, Plath on the first tier. But on the second tier Merrill would be right on that list along with Ashbery, Crane, Berryman and a few others. If you made a list of tiers of Latin American fiction writers I can't imagine Onetti being anywhere near the second tier. I think that you feel like I'm just making this shit up off the top of my head, but in reality I'm trying to list these as accurately as I can remember based on how influential a poet's style is, how many classes are taught about a writer, how often one sees people reading an author's work. There is no one formula for determining importance

Jerry when I talk about relativistic posturing, I mean responses like this: "Whoa there chief! That's a pretty bold assertion that requires some fairly persuasive evidence. I'm not ready to accept Merrill's overriding importance on your say-so alone. There might well be Caribbean authors who are more important than Merrill." First of all if you read James Merrill this is far from a bold statement. But that aside, basically when someone questions the importance of some figure you respond by claiming how it is near impossible to accurately determine what is more important because those judgments are relative. Even if someone presented a list of several literary critics who claimed Merrill is more important than Onetti you would probably just say they were biased because they aren't experts in Latin American Literature. If I make a statement of fact you say that I'm hiding behind the mask of persona preferences, when in reality I think is ovverrated Merrill because I think his style makes his poetry much too difficult. These are the types of responses that lead me to use the word posturing. I respect your opinions Jerry but I think you should reexamine some of the things you are saying about this issue.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:18 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:Jerry I think you and I may have irreconcilably different opinions about the existence of a literary canon, but I would suggest you take a step back and actually think about what I wrote. I specifically mentioned several times that I don't believe in one universal canon. I made sure to stress that line of reasoning because I had a feeling you were going to try to pidgeonhole my argument in this way. If you look over some of the different canons proposed by critics, assigned reading lists for grad schools, list of books/authors that are most often discussed in panels, blogs, festivals it is completely possible to form a good sense of the general literary canon. I am not saying that I think every question writer needs to have intimate knowledge of the literary canon, but frankly if you are going to edit literature for CO you absolutely must have some sense of the literary canon. I am not saying that every critic or list needs to agree on every figure, but if I see Cheever and Merrill on every list and don't see Onetti on any general list of the greatest 20th century writers than I feel pretty secure in claiming Onetti is less important than either of those figures.
First of all, such a criterion would inevitably be biased by the fact that most (if not outright all) of the critics you might be reading are Anglophones. Nothing wrong with Anglophones, but there's a whole world of literature out there beyond the English language, something I'm sure I don't have to tell you. For example, writer of note and critic Mario Vargas Llosa (surely we can agree that Vargas Llosa is "canon") believes that Onetti is "uno de los grandes escritores de la lengua española", which sounds like pretty high critical praise to me. It's pretty crazy to say that I don't have a sense of the literary canon and certainly not something that anyone could extract from the actual things that came up at this tournament. Your condescension to me is unwarranted.
I disagree with your statement, "that beyond some core elements, very few things are of overriding importance." This idea proposes a false dichotomy between the super important things and everything else.
That's not what a false dichotomy is.
I was suggesting that it is better to take a more gradual approach to looking at literary importance. So lets take a look at how you would compare Merrill and Onetti. If you made a quick list of the major 20th century American poets valuing you're first tier would have Eliot, Stevens, Frost, Bishop, Plath on the first tier. But on the second tier Merrill would be right on that list along with Ashbery, Crane, Berryman and a few others.
I'm still with you.
If you made a list of tiers of Latin American fiction writers I can't imagine Onetti being anywhere near the second tier. I think that you feel like I'm just making this shit up off the top of my head, but in reality I'm trying to list these as accurately as I can remember based on how influential a poet's style is, how many classes are taught about a writer, how often one sees people reading an author's work. There is no one formula for determining importance
This is patently false. I don't know how to say this in any other way than that you do not know whereof you speak. Vargas Llosa thinks Onetti is the fucking bees' knees. Do you know more about Latin American literature than Vargas Llosa?
Jerry when I talk about relativistic posturing, I mean responses like this: "Whoa there chief! That's a pretty bold assertion that requires some fairly persuasive evidence. I'm not ready to accept Merrill's overriding importance on your say-so alone. There might well be Caribbean authors who are more important than Merrill." First of all if you read James Merrill this is far from a bold statement.
I did read Merrill. I found him and his so-called masterpiece to be a tedious and unreadable bore. But this thread is not about my lack of love for James Merrill. What I'm saying is that it's perfectly possible (even plausible!) that some Caribbean author might well be better, more important, whatever. There's a great deal of room for disagreement on such matters and I'm not here to resolve that disagreement; I'm just telling you that it's not resolvable in the simple way that you claim.
But that aside, basically when someone questions the importance of some figure you respond by claiming how it is near impossible to accurately determine what is more important because those judgments are relative.
I said that for many things, this is indeed the case. Judgments of quality are, in fact, relative to a great extent (perhaps even entirely relative). What is this, 1955, where such an assertion is revolutionary?
Even if someone presented a list of several literary critics who claimed Merrill is more important than Onetti you would probably just say they were biased because they aren't experts in Latin American Literature.
...yes? I might care more about what an expert in some field might say than someone who is not. I fail to see how this proves your point.

Let me just pause here for a second and say how utterly irrelevant all this is to this tournament. Even if it were the (dubiously argued, thus far) case that Merrill is more important than Onetti, it wouldn't matter for quizbowl purposes because they still occupy different sub-distribution parts. Unless, I guess, one believes that non-Anglophone and non-European literature is never as important as the former two and thus we can just jettison those questions to make room for ones we think are more important. I don't subscribe to this position.
If I make a statement of fact you say that I'm hiding behind the mask of persona preferences, when in reality I think is ovverrated Merrill because I think his style makes his poetry much too difficult. These are the types of responses that lead me to use the word posturing. I respect your opinions Jerry but I think you should reexamine some of the things you are saying about this issue.
Ok, so now we've gone from accusations of "posturing" to hints that I'm too stupid to understand Merrill. I don't think I need to respond to that; it would just look like I'm bragging or something. All I'll say is this: you haven't proven your point in here by a long shot. I have no idea on the basis of what authority you've decided that your personal interest should rule over what sorts of things should come up in quizbowl or whence your claims of objective quality derive their power. All the evidence I've seen so far is flatly in contradiction to your assertions. I daresay that I'm not the one who is doing the posturing in this discussion.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:27 pm

Seeing as how this is getting pretty out of hand, I want to reinforce the original point that Ted quoted of me, which is my contention that this tournament sampled a pretty good distribution of notable and important authors (and other stuff too) while having some pretty out-there stuff. Even if a few tossups could be proven to have been on things of no importance whatsoever, it would still not be the case that this tournament failed to hit a whole bunch of important stuff. I understand that some people (even some people who didn't play the tournament) are pretty incensed about a few questions here and there, and I'm afraid that this is causing them (and everyone else) to miss the forest for one or two trees.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Magister Ludi » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:32 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
The tournament you guys want happened in February, and it was called ACF Regionals. If you want more tossups on the same three Thomas Hardy novels, go there. That'll test your deep knowledge of what you think is the "core canon." At this point I can only conclude that our notions of importance are clearly so radically divergent that I could never possibly satisfy yours without sacrificing my idea of what I think a tournament like CO ought to be.
This statement is troubling. I never said I wanted to play an uninteresting tournament. Andrew Hart was one hundred percent right when he said, "These events are just as much about testing (and finding new ways to test) knowledge of the core topics as they are about introducing new topics altogether." I think you partially followed this pattern somewhat with interesting tossups on Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, the Vinteuil's sonata, and the episode from The Trial. However, I don't think you followed this trend strongly enough. And frankly I think it is perfectly all right to have a question on Count Vronsky or Dorothea Brooke at CO and not feel the pressure to write the most innovative tossup. So it is bizarre to me that you think I'm trying to make you "sacrifice" your vision of CO when in reality I wish you had followed tweaked certain trends and had slightly more stringent acceptance rates the tournament would have been fine. Myself and other people talking about the same issues aren't calling for a complete overhaul of higher level tournaments, but hoping that perhaps people submitting questions and editors would have a stronger commitment to writing questions on core material.

When I criticize the answer choices I look at things such as the World literature and see the striking lack of the truly major authors such as Borges, Garcia-Marquez, Soyinka, Kawabata, Mishima or Rushdie. This problem is even worse in European literature where it seems like other than the Proust and Kafka tossups there were no tossups on core people. I thought the American literature was the strongest portion of the set. I don't think this tournament is bad, but I think it shows what happens when the editor doesn't value the significance of the subjects being asked enough.

Let me explain why I felt the need to argue so vigorously with you about the existence of the literature canon. I feel like if you need to write a world literature tossup as a replacement question for next year's ACF Nats and you don't have any tossups on Borges, Garcia-Marquez, Soyinka, Kawabata in the tournament already you are probably more likely to write a question on Lu Xun or Onetti rather than a question on a Borges story because you think everything has the same level of importance anyway. I do a lot of criticizing on this board, but I thought this year's ACF Nats was about the best tournament in recent memory at balancing important, real world literary topics with quizbowl literature topics with a few outliers such as Micromegas or that Lope de Vega play. But it seemed like that tournament had a real commitment to having important questions in every game while that commitment in this tournament seemed very haphazard. If someone submitted a tossup on a core subject that was good you would keep it, but if not you would be just as happy to have a round full of tossups on oddities, while in the ACF set it seemed like there was a conscious effort to make sure there were important topics in every round.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:47 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:truly major authors such as Borges, Garcia-Marquez, Soyinka, Kawabata, Mishima or Rushdie
Just out of curiosity, how did you select these names as the most egregious of the missing authors? Are you suggesting they are more or less important to include than, say, Pamuk, Achebe, Lessing, Wang Wei, Darwish, and Abe?
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Magister Ludi » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:48 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Magister Ludi wrote:
Ok, so now we've gone from accusations of "posturing" to hints that I'm too stupid to understand Merrill. I don't think I need to respond to that; it would just look like I'm bragging or something. All I'll say is this: you haven't proven your point in here by a long shot. I have no idea on the basis of what authority you've decided that your personal interest should rule over what sorts of things should come up in quizbowl or whence your claims of objective quality derive their power. All the evidence I've seen so far is flatly in contradiction to your assertions. I daresay that I'm not the one who is doing the posturing in this discussion.
I don't really want to have this argument over the internet anymore, but I just wanted to say I wasn't claiming you were too stupid to understand Merrill but saying I myself personally don't like Merrill and wouldnt rate Merrill on the second tier of American poets if I were making a personal list.

That being said this sentence is incredibly offensive "I have no idea on the basis of what authority you've decided that your personal interest should rule over what sorts of things." I'm was trying to do exactly the opposite of this claim. I'm pointing to objective standards Jerry such as: 1) what notable critics have formed as the general consensus of different parts of the literary canon, 2) what books are assigned in classes, 3) How influential a writer has been on other writer's style and career (for example Merrill is cited by most contemporary poets as one the major influences on their styles) 4) what books are being read, discussed, and written about in magazines, blogs, festivals, readings etc. I think with a number of objective resources it is perfectly viable to construct a fluid definition of a literary canon or to make an educated guess at literary importance. How do those things have anything to do with my personal interests? If it did then I would definitely not be arguing for more questions on Merrill of all poets.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:03 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:This statement is troubling. I never said I wanted to play an uninteresting tournament. Andrew Hart was one hundred percent right when he said, "These events are just as much about testing (and finding new ways to test) knowledge of the core topics as they are about introducing new topics altogether." I think you partially followed this pattern somewhat with interesting tossups on Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, the Vinteuil's sonata, and the episode from The Trial.
I didn't even write two of those three tossups!
However, I don't think you followed this trend strongly enough. And frankly I think it is perfectly all right to have a question on Count Vronsky or Dorothea Brooke at CO and not feel the pressure to write the most innovative tossup. So it is bizarre to me that you think I'm trying to make you "sacrifice" your vision of CO when in reality I wish you had followed tweaked certain trends and had slightly more stringent acceptance rates the tournament would have been fine. Myself and other people talking about the same issues aren't calling for a complete overhaul of higher level tournaments, but hoping that perhaps people submitting questions and editors would have a stronger commitment to writing questions on core material.
You want a different tournament. That's all there is to it. You want a tournament that asks about different things, and that's fine, but that's not what this tournament was. I don't know what else to tell you.

Actually, I do know what else to tell you. Look at the section I posted: I wrote 82 tossups for this tournament, heavily edited at least 20 more, and probably wrote roughly the same amount of bonuses. Are you seriously saying that I should have rewritten all of these questions to fit your requirements? Please tell me that's not what you're saying because that's really goddamn crazy. I'm a human being, for fuck's sakes. I know I was CO editor, but on top of that I was also writing a thesis, relocating to a new city, and starting a new job. And I (and my co-editors) still managed to deliver what I think was a pretty solid tournament, with almost no clunkers or terrible questions. Sorry if I've shown insufficient dedication to the cause because I let otherwise good tossups through that were not on things lovely in the eyes of Ted.
When I criticize the answer choices I look at things such as the World literature and see the striking lack of the truly major authors such as Borges, Garcia-Marquez, Soyinka, Kawabata, Mishima or Rushdie.
There was a Soyinka bonus, although I didn't post the bonus answers since that takes too long. Anyway, I'm not bothered that there were no questions on these guys. There will be questions on them in other tournaments. A single tournament can only include so many questions and there is no obligation to include any specific author in it.
This problem is even worse in European literature where it seems like other than the Proust and Kafka tossups there were no tossups on core people.
This is just nuts. I can only think that you haven't even read the post you yourself quoted. Again, here's the European literature selection:

Leopardi, Atta Troll, Apollinaire, The Maids, Mary Renault, WG Sebald, Provencal/Occitan, Vinteuil's Sonata, Bread and Wine, Carlo Goldoni, Thebaid, The Family of Pascual Duarte, Alfonse Daudet, The Sandman, The man before the law

Sorry if you think Leopardi, Heine, Apollinair, Genet, Sebald, Goldoni, and Cela are not "core." The other selections in this set may not be as core as you like but they're not just some obscure scribbler I dug up to frustrate you.
I thought the American literature was the strongest portion of the set. I don't think this tournament is bad, but I think it shows what happens when the editor doesn't value the significance of the subjects being asked enough.
Again, this is crazy. You continually mistake my disagreement with you for a disagreement about what's important and how we can know that with the idea that I don't believe in importance at all. I guess I might have brought that on myself with my rather glib statement, but I've explained what I mean by this more than enough times. I don't value the significance of the subjects being asked? Well, ok then, fuck my efforts to find interesting and important authors that haven't gotten as much exposure in the past. I invested a whole bunch of effort into finding exactly such writers and works; sorry that's not to your liking.
Let me explain why I felt the need to argue so vigorously with you about the existence of the literature canon. I feel like if you need to write a world literature tossup as a replacement question for next year's ACF Nats and you don't have any tossups on Borges, Garcia-Marquez, Soyinka, Kawabata in the tournament already you are probably more likely to write a question on Lu Xun or Onetti rather than a question on a Borges story because you think everything has the same level of importance anyway.
Well, I'm not now likely to write questions on any of those things. But so what? I'm under no obligation to write questions on topics that meet with your approval. Personally I think a question on someone new is more interesting than the 150th tossup on another story from Ficciones, so yeah, I might very well make that call. And then again I might decide something completely different.
I do a lot of criticizing on this board, but I thought this year's ACF Nats was about the best tournament in recent memory at balancing important, real world literary topics with quizbowl literature topics with a few outliers such as Micromegas or that Lope de Vega play. But it seemed like that tournament had a real commitment to having important questions in every game while that commitment in this tournament seemed very haphazard. If someone submitted a tossup on a core subject that was good you would keep it, but if not you would be just as happy to have a round full of tossups on oddities, while in the ACF set it seemed like there was a conscious effort to make sure there were important topics in every round.
I understand the difference between something like Chicago Open and ACF Nationals, thanks. I'm not going to telegraph my decision-making for public consumption, but I will tell you that whatever I choose to do, it won't be because I'm looking for the Ted Gioia seal of approval.
Last edited by grapesmoker on Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:06 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:That being said this sentence is incredibly offensive "I have no idea on the basis of what authority you've decided that your personal interest should rule over what sorts of things." I'm was trying to do exactly the opposite of this claim. I'm pointing to objective standards Jerry such as: 1) what notable critics have formed as the general consensus of different parts of the literary canon, 2) what books are assigned in classes, 3) How influential a writer has been on other writer's style and career (for example Merrill is cited by most contemporary poets as one the major influences on their styles) 4) what books are being read, discussed, and written about in magazines, blogs, festivals, readings etc. I think with a number of objective resources it is perfectly viable to construct a fluid definition of a literary canon or to make an educated guess at literary importance. How do those things have anything to do with my personal interests? If it did then I would definitely not be arguing for more questions on Merrill of all poets.
Well, then, I've misread your sentence and I apologize. But that doesn't change very much; the criteria you are offering are so vacuous that I am sure I could find how almost any author of any note whatsoever satisfies them. My point about Anglophone vs. non-Anglophone critics stands.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Magister Ludi » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:39 pm

These angry over-the-top posts are examples of what I called "yelling" at people who criticize the tournament earlier. Some younger players who made valid critiques of the tournament might get intimidated by angry posts and decide to retract their opinions and not participate in the discussion anymore, but I'm not afraid of a little vitriol.

I phrased my critique poorly, I think you didn't have a strong enough commitment to "core" material, you obviously have care a lot about important things. I thought overall the tournament was fine, but we are discussing an individual aspect of the tournament and that individual aspect seems to be the only real weakness I think you have as a writer. When I mean core writers in the European tradition I mean Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Balzac, Flaubert, Ibsen, Chekov, Brecht, Thomas Mann, Rilke, Herman Hesse, Goethe not Cela, Apollinaire, or Genet. Once again this further strengthens my feeling that you aren't committed to asking tossups about the real core writers if you feel like that niche is filled with tossups on Atta Troll and Bread and Wine.

Frankly I'm trying to offer helpful criticism. You claim that you don't care about my stamp of approval but you obviously do care about community approval or you wouldn't be so reactionary in your defense of this tournament. Literally responding to every criticism suggets that you really do care about how the tournament is perceived by the community. I'm not saying there is any one or two writers that must appear, but it seems like there are a number of players who would like to see more of these really core works/writers come up as tossups. God knows, I'm not telling you how to edit ACF Nats or any other tournament, but simply elaborating on a sentiment other people have expressed in this thread as well that a few ore questions on core material would elevate a very good tournament to a great tournament.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:53 pm

Hm, this discussion seems to have gotten contentious and unproductive since I last weighed in. Nonetheless, I'll jump back in.

I think that some of this discussion has gotten a bit confused. It might be helpful to take a deep breath and make a pretty basic distinction between "value judgments" and "quizbowl judgments." Saying something like "Onetti is a major world author, of equal importance with [whoever]" is a value judgment (about his aesthetic merits, or influence on other writers, or whatever). That should be differentiated from saying something like "I thought it would be cool to introduce some new topics to the game, so I wrote a tossup on one of Onetti's novels, even though I knew that he basically never comes up in quizbowl." That's a quizbowl judgment.

Without wanting to pile on Jerry, I think it's safe to say that the quizbowl judgment "I'm going to write a tossup on a work by X, even though I know that X himself will be virtually unknown to most players in the field" is a bad call. (It's not worth going on and on about, though -- at the very worst, it's a minor surrender to self-indulgence on the part of a harried editor.) In fact, I would say that this is an objectively bad call according to the standards of good quizbowl that everyone who would bother reading this discussion subscribes to.

It's possible that Ted is saying something like this: "When putting a tournament together, its editors have to make a whole host of quizbowl judgments about what answers are askable, what clues should be put where, and so forth. On the whole, when making such judgments it's a good idea if those editors always try to keep playability in mind. And one of the best ways of trying to make a tournament playable is to ask a lot of questions on topics that can be safely described as in the 'core' of canonical knowledge, as it's just more probable that people will be cognizant of major works and writers than that they'll happen to be acquainted with the non-familiar writers you happen to be fond of yourself."

If that's the argument, then I strongly agree with it. I'm less comfortable with aspects of the argument which seem to be about value judgments rather than quizbowl judgments, e.g. when we talk about the "true merits" of James Merrill vis-a-vis whoever. I don't see how this discussion gets us anywhere. For what it's worth, I think that Merrill is absolutely one of the four or five most important American poets of the last 50 years (along with Ashbery, Ammons, and Bishop). However, I have no idea whether he is more or less a world-historical figure than, say, Derek Walcott. We can chat about which authors we think are underrated or overrated all day long, but in the end personal opinions like "The professors I've studied with think Merrill is important" or "Donald Justice is the most underrated American poet of the last few decades" don't help anyone produce tournaments.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:16 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:These angry over-the-top posts are examples of what I called "yelling" at people who criticize the tournament earlier. Some younger players who made valid critiques of the tournament might get intimidated by angry posts and decide to retract their opinions and not participate in the discussion anymore, but I'm not afraid of a little vitriol.
Anyone is welcome to critique whatever they want. I don't think I've ever suggested that someone saying "this set was too hard," is not a legitimate criticism. This set was pretty hard (though not, I think, as hard as 2008).
I phrased my critique poorly, I think you didn't have a strong enough commitment to "core" material, you obviously have care a lot about important things. I thought overall the tournament was fine, but we are discussing an individual aspect of the tournament and that individual aspect seems to be the only real weakness I think you have as a writer. When I mean core writers in the European tradition I mean Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Balzac, Flaubert, Ibsen, Chekov, Brecht, Thomas Mann, Rilke, Herman Hesse, Goethe not Cela, Apollinaire, or Genet. Once again this further strengthens my feeling that you aren't committed to asking tossups about the real core writers if you feel like that niche is filled with tossups on Atta Troll and Bread and Wine.
I don't understand this talk about "commitment." Or, really, why I should be committed to this. I'm not saying those things aren't important. Just that they aren't the only things there are. Yes, Balzac and Flaubert are important (and there was actually a Balzac bonus); so is Lawrence Durell. The fact remains that when you have a limited amount of space and you have to fill it with questions, you make choices. I chose one way, and you might choose another. That doesn't make your or my choice wrong.
Frankly I'm trying to offer helpful criticism. You claim that you don't care about my stamp of approval but you obviously do care about community approval or you wouldn't be so reactionary in your defense of this tournament. Literally responding to every criticism suggets that you really do care about how the tournament is perceived by the community. I'm not saying there is any one or two writers that must appear, but it seems like there are a number of players who would like to see more of these really core works/writers come up as tossups. God knows, I'm not telling you how to edit ACF Nats or any other tournament, but simply elaborating on a sentiment other people have expressed in this thread as well that a few ore questions on core material would elevate a very good tournament to a great tournament.
There are a few players who have expressed dissatisfaction on your specific grounds, although in private conversation at least one person has told me he has changed his mind. Of course I care about what people think of this tournament! I put in a ridiculous amount of effort so it would be kind of ridiculous for me not to be invested in this. But in the final analysis, if you don't like the fact that this set covered some things and not other things, there's not a whole lot I can do about this. What I'm resisting is not evaluations of difficulty but arguments like "this set didn't cover enough important topics," (I think it did) or "this set covered different topics from what I/other critics/whoever think is truly important" (which may well be true but also relatively vacuous). If we differ on this, we differ and that's the end of the story. I think it's good for quizbowl to have a diversity of writers who have different priorities, and my priorities are likely to be different from Ted's or Andrew's or anyone else's. When those players go on to edit tournaments, perhaps CO or ACF Nationals in future years, I hope they put their own view of what should be covered into practice.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:24 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I think that some of this discussion has gotten a bit confused. It might be helpful to take a deep breath and make a pretty basic distinction between "value judgments" and "quizbowl judgments." Saying something like "Onetti is a major world author, of equal importance with [whoever]" is a value judgment (about his aesthetic merits, or influence on other writers, or whatever). That should be differentiated from saying something like "I thought it would be cool to introduce some new topics to the game, so I wrote a tossup on one of Onetti's novels, even though I knew that he basically never comes up in quizbowl." That's a quizbowl judgment.
Yes, I would agree that this is a necessary distinction.
Without wanting to pile on Jerry, I think it's safe to say that the quizbowl judgment "I'm going to write a tossup on a work by X, even though I know that X himself will be virtually unknown to most players in the field" is a bad call. (It's not worth going on and on about, though -- at the very worst, it's a minor surrender to self-indulgence on the part of a harried editor.) In fact, I would say that this is an objectively bad call according to the standards of good quizbowl that everyone who would bother reading this discussion subscribes to.
I'm willing to believe that this is not the greatest quizbowl-related decision I've ever made. I don't think it's anything that anyone else hasn't done before, or even necessarily the most egregious example, but if we're evaluating how the question played out, then yes, it was probably a bad call. I'm wary of this line of reasoning, however, because I don't think that any tossup that goes dead represents a bad call, or that any attempt to introduce a new topic that ends that way is also a bad call. This specific instance was probably not the best decision (or at least, it probably ought to have been moved out of the finals packets).
It's possible that Ted is saying something like this: "When putting a tournament together, its editors have to make a whole host of quizbowl judgments about what answers are askable, what clues should be put where, and so forth. On the whole, when making such judgments it's a good idea if those editors always try to keep playability in mind. And one of the best ways of trying to make a tournament playable is to ask a lot of questions on topics that can be safely described as in the 'core' of canonical knowledge, as it's just more probable that people will be cognizant of major works and writers than that they'll happen to be acquainted with the non-familiar writers you happen to be fond of yourself."

If that's the argument, then I strongly agree with it. I'm less comfortable with aspects of the argument which seem to be about value judgments rather than quizbowl judgments, e.g. when we talk about the "true merits" of James Merrill vis-a-vis whoever. I don't see how this discussion gets us anywhere. For what it's worth, I think that Merrill is absolutely one of the four or five most important American poets of the last 50 years (along with Ashbery, Ammons, and Bishop). However, I have no idea whether he is more or less a world-historical figure than, say, Derek Walcott. We can chat about which authors we think are underrated or overrated all day long, but in the end personal opinions like "The professors I've studied with think Merrill is important" or "Donald Justice is the most underrated American poet of the last few decades" don't help anyone produce tournaments.
But maybe it does help someone produce tournaments. I mean, I don't know that much about Donald Justice; maybe we ought to know more about him. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have good quizbowl judgments in mind when we write, but I also don't think that quizbowl playability is the be-all and end-all of quizbowl writing. I think that sometimes it's good to shock people a bit, and I think CO is a good place to do that. At least, that was my conception of CO.

edit: it kind occurs to me that it's eerily appropriate for James Merrill to be part of this discussion. Until ACF Nationals 2009, I had no idea who James Merrill was (he came up at Nats due to a tossup Zeke wrote, I believe). So here we have someone that we (regardless of our aesthetic feelings about Merrill) all pretty much agree is important, and yet quizbowl knew dick about him. That seems like something was miscalibrated in our importance-meters, and it took a question that I'm not sure anyone at the tournament actually answered to bring that fact to our attention. Now James Merrill can be ACF Fall material in two years*.

*: do not do this
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by MLafer » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:11 am

I don't know if this issue came up in any protests but either "wind of change" or "winds of change" should be acceptable for Macmillan's speech.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:18 am

MLafer wrote:I don't know if this issue came up in any protests but either "wind of change" or "winds of change" should be acceptable for Macmillan's speech.
You're right. Sorry if this was a problem for anyone; I didn't hear any protests on this matter so I assume no one was actually negged this way, but I definitely should have left off the "s" in the answer highlighting.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:49 am

Birdofredum Sawin wrote: We can chat about which authors we think are underrated or overrated all day long, but in the end personal opinions like "The professors I've studied with think Merrill is important" or "Donald Justice is the most underrated American poet of the last few decades" don't help anyone produce tournaments.
grapesmoker wrote: But maybe it does help someone produce tournaments. I mean, I don't know that much about Donald Justice; maybe we ought to know more about him. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have good quizbowl judgments in mind when we write, but I also don't think that quizbowl playability is the be-all and end-all of quizbowl writing. I think that sometimes it's good to shock people a bit, and I think CO is a good place to do that. At least, that was my conception of CO.
Let me be clearer on why these personal value judgments don't help. Let's say that I think that Donald Justice is truly one of the most important American poets of the last 50 years, and that (e.g.) his "Sestina on Six Words by Weldon Kees" is one of the great poems of the 20th century. Now, what do I do with those value judgments? I'm not going to write a tossup on that poem, even at CO, because I know nobody will get it. I'm not going to write a tossup on Justice, because I know he doesn't come up in the game and I have no good reason to believe that many other people "latently" know about him. (Maybe a ton of people do know of him, and they just haven't had a chance to demonstrate their knowledge hitherto because he has unaccountably failed to come up; but I have no reason to assume that to be the case.) So what will I do? I'll write a tossup on "sestinas" that uses one of Justice's excellent ones as a lead-in clue, or maybe I'll make him the hard third part to a CO bonus. Good quizbowl judgment precludes me from doing anything else to implement my value judgment about Justice's importance (in the world of American poetry).

Now, what if I thought that Donald Justice was a terrible formalist reactionary, whose work is much less interesting than that of real innovators like Ron Silliman or Lyn Hejinian? I wasn't going to write a tossup on Justice anyway, because my quizbowl judgment told me that was a bad idea. But neither am I going to write a tossup on Silliman, for the same reason. So what, pragmatically, can I do with this (completely different) value judgment about what is canonically important in American poetry? Well, maybe I write a different third part for my CO-level American poets bonus, trying to break Silliman rather than Justice into the game. Or maybe I write the very same "sestinas" tossup as in the previous example, even though I deplore Justice, because the mere fact that I know enough about him to have a serious (negative) opinion of his work indicates that he is, in fact, an important (even if baleful) figure.

My point here is that completely different value judgments (about what is "excellent" or "important" or whatever) lead to basically the same results in practice, so long as your good quizbowl judgment is dictating the way in which you write questions. If I were editing the lit for CO in 2011, and someone with diametrically opposed literary values from me were editing it in 2012, the tournament should look largely the same, so long as we both allow our sound quizbowl judgment to prevail over our idiosyncratic personal opinions. Maybe a couple of the "personal predilection" third bonus parts I write in 2011 catch on, and maybe a few of the comparable third parts my imaginary antithesis writes catches on. In that case, CO 2015 will be inflected by both of our personal tastes (though we can't know in advance which of the answers we try to work into the game will be picked up on by other people, and which will be neglected). But that's the whole story, again assuming that me and anti-me have each exercised good quizbowl judgment and haven't written a bunch of unanswerable tossups on our favorite unknown-to-quizbowl authors.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Magister Ludi » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:46 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:

My point here is that completely different value judgments (about what is "excellent" or "important" or whatever) lead to basically the same results in practice, so long as your good quizbowl judgment is dictating the way in which you write questions. If I were editing the lit for CO in 2011, and someone with diametrically opposed literary values from me were editing it in 2012, the tournament should look largely the same, so long as we both allow our sound quizbowl judgment to prevail over our idiosyncratic personal opinions. Maybe a couple of the "personal predilection" third bonus parts I write in 2011 catch on, and maybe a few of the comparable third parts my imaginary antithesis writes catches on. In that case, CO 2015 will be inflected by both of our personal tastes (though we can't know in advance which of the answers we try to work into the game will be picked up on by other people, and which will be neglected). But that's the whole story, again assuming that me and anti-me have each exercised good quizbowl judgment and haven't written a bunch of unanswerable tossups on our favorite unknown-to-quizbowl authors.
I agree strongly with this statement. But I think the connecting thread that should make the literature in all of these different tournaments look similar is the core canon of genuinely important answers and that core canon will exist regardless of an editor's personal preferences.

However, I think Andrew's term "value judgment" and the example of a potential Donald Justice tossup is a bit misleading. There is a difference between an editor's personal "value judgment" and his "importance judgment." For example, I personally don't care for Sylvia Plath, but if I received a usable tossup on her I would include the tossup regardless of my own "value judgment." Just like if I received a tossup on James Wright or Donald Justice I wouldn't include it even though I personally think their poetry is great. I think it is perfectly valid to make a judgment based on something's importance within the larger scheme of literature and its visibility in quizbowl that has nothing to do with personal taste or making a value judgment. Basically I think that if Andrew and I had completely different literary tastes but we were asked to each outline the canon of 20th century American poetry I think we would come up with pretty similar lists. N.B. that I didn't say we were outlining our personal visions of what the poetry canon should be, but outlining what it is. I think when picking answers you need to pay attention to both quizbowl and real world criterion and if sometimes you want to err a little on one side and introduce something new that you think is important to the quizbowl canon or write on some weird quizbowl writer that no one reads that is acceptable.

I think this issue is where Jerry and I disagree because he thinks anytime I might claim some writer is important I am making a "value judgment" that is essentially unprovable, but this is why I wanted to stress the core canon before. Because those subjects in the core canon are the ones that everyone can agree is important regardless of personal value judgments.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:18 am

I really enjoyed pretty much every category in this tournament, and appreciate what the editors did with reaching in peripherally-canonical directions. However, I feel like on occasion this tendency to reach outside the canon lead to some strange and kind of stupid directions. I don't think things like clock reactions, barcoding (?), the War of the Breton Succession, and that automated proof method that Trevor had never heard of are worth coming up, at least as tossups. Also, some of the music seemed to reach harder than other parts of the set, but that could just be a product of my lack of knowledge of the subject. I'm willing to bet not many teams would be able to convert a tossup on Chabrier, for example.

As a global critique, I'm not sure if the science was disproportionately harder than the rest of the set, but I remember the science in 2008 and 2009 being easier than in this incarnation. Making the bio and the chem as hard as it was makes the packets functionally 18/18 in many important games (including the final, where I'm to understand an ill-advised tossup on vault organelles went dead), and the tossups that were going dead were on relatively unimportant things, not difficult things that only Selene, Gautam, and I have all heard of. According to my reckoning, both Selene and I would have to have been on the same team in order for a single team to get every bio tossup in this tournament by the end (she got barcoding, I'd have gotten vault) - and that's just a ridiculous standard to hold any team up to. There's no point in creating extra dead tossups for teams just so that you can write a tossup on vault - test that knowledge by putting it in the third part of a bonus if you have to.

In addition to making many of the tossups too hard or on stupid crap, we got to listen to quizbowl's 1000th tossups on Wilson's disease. You know what's not that prevalent? Wilson's disease. Stop writing about it just because it was on an episode of House. If you want to go all medical with a tossup, there are are plenty of liver conditions that are worth writing about over that one. And of all the apoptosis pathway proteins, you have to ask about PUMA? There are at least 3 members of the Bcl-2 family alone that are better known than that one. I'm also curious about how that tossup on water played out in other rooms, but in ours it went straight to the clue about it boiling at 100C because I misheard the Grignard reagents clue.

A minor critique I have is the tendency that some of these questions had to induce negging with a related answer. Centrioles for centrosomes, Taft equation for Hammett equation, and most notably, "Arrangements in Gray and Black" for just "Arrangements" were some examples. That last example easily changed the course of the tournament, and in my opinion at least warranted some kind of "anti-prompt" because Trevor clearly demonstrated his knowledge by buzzing in with the correct answer at that particular clue.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:25 am

The clock reactions tossup was used as submitted because there were bigger fish to fry with the set. I agree that they're not themselves exactly an exciting active area of research, and given the time I would have preferred to replace it.

I think the water tossup probably lacked some buzzable middle clues; I'd like to hear more about it, though.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Gautam » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:51 am

I realized that I never responded in this thread, so here goes.

The tournament, overall, was all right. I think my team had good coverage of a variety of topics, and it helped that a lot of our niche interests (Swami Vivekananda!) showed up.

Had I posted a few days ago, I would've say it was a little too hard, but we were recently playing the CO 2008 set, and I don't think the convertability of this set was significantly different than Ryan's set. Matt Keller does like the kind of science I like, so maybe that was what made the difference. I would probably have enjoyed the tournament more if every packet was similar in difficulty to Packet 1, but I had a good time playing the remainder of packets.

I enjoyed the tossup on The Card Sharps (great way to bring in the George de la Tour painting!) and the tossup on the Ghaznavids was great, too. I hope people take this as a signal to write more tossups on Mahmud of Ghazni or the Ghorids. Really, any history from the Indian subcontinent is fine with me.

At the "molecular sieves" clue in the water tossup, I guessed that it was going to be some small molecule like water or methanol (especially since the 3-4 Angstrom length clue had been given... I can't think of what other compounds that would fit the "we don't want these in ethers and they're really tiny" description) and I just waited until the Grignard clue to buzz.

I was disappointed the Chagas disease TU, since it seemed like major negbait for African Sleeping Sickness off the leadin. I did end up negging, though it didn't matter overall.

Also, Eric, the answer line for the Centrosomes tossup was my fault; I did not remember how I'd written the question (it's been 3 months already,) and I thought that my original wording of the tossup may have avoided the neg, but that's clearly not the case.

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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:05 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:I don't think things like clock reactions, barcoding (?), the War of the Breton Succession, and that automated proof method that Trevor had never heard of are worth coming up, at least as tossups.
If you are referring to my tossup on Interactive Proofs, I agree that the tossup was really really hard. That being said, it's not an automated proof method, and it is one of the most important concepts in theoretical computer science. Hell, the PCP theorem which is an outgrowth of research into them is widely regarded as one of the most important breakthroughs in CS in the last 20 years. I suggest people read this comic http://www.msri.org/ext/larryg/pages/05.htm if they wish to learn more.

On another less important note, we spent two class periods in my systems bio class talking about the reactions described in that clock reaction tossup but the phrase "clock reaction" never came up. I guess that's because it was biology class and "clock reactions" is more chemistry lingo.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:19 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:I really enjoyed pretty much every category in this tournament, and appreciate what the editors did with reaching in peripherally-canonical directions. However, I feel like on occasion this tendency to reach outside the canon lead to some strange and kind of stupid directions. I don't think things like clock reactions, barcoding (?), the War of the Breton Succession, and that automated proof method that Trevor had never heard of are worth coming up, at least as tossups. Also, some of the music seemed to reach harder than other parts of the set, but that could just be a product of my lack of knowledge of the subject. I'm willing to bet not many teams would be able to convert a tossup on Chabrier, for example.
As noted CS person Will Butler pointed out, interactive proofs are pretty important. I spent a long time thinking about that question and whether I should keep it or not. In the end, two things swayed me. One, it was written by Will, who generally knows what he's talking about, and two, I spent a good deal of time looking it up in cryptography textbooks and came to believe that this was something worth asking about. In the end I changed some of the wording around but kept the overall question.

The tossup on the War of the Breton Succession was submitted but heavily rewritten.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by TheKingInYellow » Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:47 pm

I don't know if anyone really cares about question inaccuracies or whatnot, but in the Alexius Comnenus question, the first clue about the Pechenegs is pretty vague, considering Byzantines fought Pechenegs for hundreds of years; saying this ruler "defeated the Pechenegs" isn't really helpful. Also, Robert Guiscard didn't give up his territorial gains to assist Henry IV-- he returned to Italy, leaving his army, to confront Henry IV

Sorry if this isn't what we're looking for, it seems rather nit-picky.
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