VCU Open Discussion

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VCU Open Discussion

Post by vcuEvan »

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

Congrats to the winners of the tournaments and thanks to everyone who came.

There are a bunch of people who need to be commended for their work on this tournament. Thanks Michigan and some of my VCU teammates for writing a large chunk of the questions UCSD claimed they would write but never got around to. Thanks Cody Voight, Matt Weiner, Libo Zeng, Bryan Berend, Michael Hausinger, and especially Surya Sabhapathy for fixing or replacing some of the truly atrocious questions UCSD submitted that Auroni claimed he would edit but never got around to. Thanks Alex Grandstaff, George Berry, Sarah Angelo, Surya, Cody, Matt and whoever else helped with proofreading. (Including Auroni for getting to three of the five packets he swore he'd proofread). And thanks Mike Bentley, for writing a chunk of the questions UCSD never got around to writing.

EDIT: I forget to thank Chris Chiego for some proofreading, Neil Gurram for writing some math questions, and all the skilled moderators at the VCU site for helping us finish relatively early despite starting at 12:40 ish on Saturday.
Last edited by vcuEvan on Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

I enjoyed both tournaments, although I thought the Sunday event was more fun, largely because I felt like it was more "even," across the board, if that means anything. The one thing I didn't enjoy was the physics and "other" science questions in both tournaments; I felt like they were really quite poor and basically rewarded either adventurous guessing or name association. Other than that, both tournaments were a good time and thanks to VCU for putting on this fun weekend.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

I had a lot of fun playing on Saturday and a lot of fun reading both days (Charles and I alternated playing and staffing on Saturday afternoon, though the stats don't reflect that). It felt like the Saturday set was the more polished set in terms of readability, while the Sunday set was the more polished set in terms of having a consistent vision about what the set was supposed to be. There were a number of glaring factual errors in the Sunday set and a few tossups here and there that went a few lines without giving any pronouns; I hope those issues are corrected for future use.

I especially liked the way that the Saturday tournament focused more on internal, rather than external, "trickle-down effect"/"canon expansion" in the tossups. It didn't always work, but asking for "this harder thing associated with this other commonly-asked thing" as opposed to "this way-out-there-thing that comes up at nationals" provided a lot of interesting tossups. I did feel like there were a lot of weird common-link questions that had good solid clues but no real indication of what was going on (e.g. the China and USSR tossup, which I felt pretty much just alternated between describing one country or the other).
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

I thought these tournaments were entertaining and interesting. I agree with Dwight that Saturday's was more polished in terms of construction and editing, while Sunday's had a clearer identity (although there were a few oddball outliers). The science on Sunday prompted a lot of hemming and hawing from people who actually know science. I didn't care for the power mark placement on Sunday, as I felt like they were long, but not always consistent in the depth of knowledge being rewarded. Again, I'd have to see the set. While I appreciated the love for current events both days, this resulted in a few clunker tossups (mostly on Sunday).

Saturday had some pretty cool ideas--I liked the tossups on JFK's inaugural and Gary Hart, as I always enjoy attempts to plumb later 20th century politics. It was also nice to see tossups on social scientists I read that didn't turn into "title bowl" but rewarded decent knowledge of their theories (Hoftsadter, Bourdieu).

Now that Saturday is clear, I will reveal a few of the questions which prompted my giveaways discussion thread, such as the aforementioned USSR/China one (the giveaway I guess seems fine in retrospect, but this could have had a clearer delineation of the two countries) and Robinson Jeffers, which seemingly refrained from noting a few things I felt most famous about him (unless I just misheard).
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I felt that the Sunday tournament was much better than the Saturday tournament, and several people I talked to at VCU agreed. Perhaps this is because the difficulty on Sunday was a bit more reasonable.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

I'm a little confused by that statement. Sunday was certainly easier than Saturday, but Saturday seemed perfectly fine to me in terms of announced difficulty and for being a summer open tournament.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Auroni »

I'm going to accept responsibility for everything that Evan has said about myself and my teammates regarding this tournament. I was not proactive enough in editing my teammates' sub-par questions, I did not perform my job as an editor of this set satisfactorily at all, and I was not able to proofread all of the packets that I said I would proofread. Only the last of these three is understandable given my position, since I was traveling at the time. I will apologize for all of these, and will say that I have no good excuse for not even attempting to fix the physics, or for monitoring my teammates' writing as they were actually writing right next to me, not afterwards. I performed my tasks for this tournament exceptionally poorly, and I let my co-writers down time after time by breaking promises to do certain chunks of the set that I could actually have taken care of with a bit of proper time management.

With all of that said, I did write a fair amount of questions for this set. From the answer doc (as I don't actually have the packets in front of me), I wrote the tossups on Owen Meany, Robinson Jeffers, Jennie Gerhardt, The Razor's Edge, The Ballad of Peckham Rye, Imogen, White Teeth, The Redcrosse Knight, Wislawa Szymborska, The Confessions of Zeno, The Fall, The Hunger Artist, Imre Kertesz, Martial, Poor Folk, The Dog in the Manger, Chretein de Troyes, Holderlin, Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandpa, Oscar and Lucinda, The Grandissimes, Burnt Norton, John Brown's Body, Roger Casement, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Utnapishtim, Perpetual Peace, I and Thou, The Concept of Mind, Oakeshott,, Korea, Fable for Critics, The Temple, Thomas Carlyle, and Dance to the Music of Time. I wrote a similar number of bonuses. This isn't to show off what I've done for this set, but merely to ask people how these questions went, since many were written on topics I had no comfort and familiarity with.

In line with Evan's opening post, VCU and Michigan are the clubs that you want to thank for the production of both sets this weekend.
Last edited by Auroni on Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:The Hunger Artist
Nope.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Ringil »

grapesmoker wrote:I enjoyed both tournaments, although I thought the Sunday event was more fun, largely because I felt like it was more "even," across the board, if that means anything. The one thing I didn't enjoy was the physics and "other" science questions in both tournaments; I felt like they were really quite poor and basically rewarded either adventurous guessing or name association. Other than that, both tournaments were a good time and thanks to VCU for putting on this fun weekend.
I wrote the majority of the physics for this tournament, and I'm sorry they weren't too good. I'd like any specific critique that you have so that I can improve in the future. I'm glad you enjoyed the rest of the tournament though.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Ringil wrote:I wrote the majority of the physics for this tournament, and I'm sorry they weren't too good. I'd like any specific critique that you have so that I can improve in the future. I'm glad you enjoyed the rest of the tournament though.
I'll try to have some informative feedback by tomorrow.

edit: here's just one example of a question that's just really confusing to hear:
1.This phenomenon can be treated as a matter field, which leads to the Isaacson tensor. Inspirals can form from this phenomenon and binary stars show this strongly. One failed attempt to detect this phenomenon was the Weber bar, which was a solid bar of metal, though that has been improved into the MiniGRAIL. It has been indirectly detected in the decreasing orbital period of the Hulse-Taylor binary pulsar. One experiment uses 3 satellites to create an equilateral triangle with sides of 5 million kilometers long. In addition to LISA, another attempt features an interferometer arm of 3,002 kilometers in the LIGO experiment. For 10 points, name this phenomenon that is energy released from objects with mass.
ANSWER: gravity waves [accept gravitational waves]
First, a few minor things: if you are using the singular "phenomenon," then your answer should really follow that pronoun. Also, gravitational radiation is an equivalent answer and should be acceptable. More importantly, this question is just really confusing. I had to google the Isaacson tensor to find out what it was, but it turns out it's just the wave's stress energy tensor in a particular approximation. It would be helpful here to actually explain what's going on in the "matter field" treatment, since that term is pretty opaque. The second sentence just doesn't make sense. Inspirals can form from gravity waves? I think the causation is backwards here: inspiraling systems generate gravitational radiation. Saying "binary stars show this strongly," also doesn't make a whole lot of sense as a categorical statement about binaries. The Weber bar clue should go towards the end, if anything, as that's a relatively well-known attempt to detect GW; if people don't know that, they're not likely to know anything about MiniGRAIL, whatever that is.

I'm just going over the basic facts here, but basically, the way this question is worded is all kinds of confusing (for the record I buzzed pretty early, so not that confusing to someone who kind of understand what you're getting at). Most of the problem with this question is that it doesn't really explain what's going on and the sentence constructions are really awkward. Even if all the facts are pretty much there, it sure would help to be precise about what you are saying.

One mistake I think a lot of people make in writing science questions in particular is thinking they need like 6 or 7 major clues for it. I think this is, in general, not correct. You are much more likely to reward someone for knowing science by following a pattern of "describe, describe, name." That is, describe one clue, then describe another, then name the first, etc. You only really need 3 or 4 distinct clues this way, because someone who knows what's going on will understand the technical stuff, and then you can drop the names for people who don't.
Last edited by grapesmoker on Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Cody »

I'd like to reiterate Evan's thanks to Neil Gurram for pitching in and helping write some math last minute for us (as well as Bryand Berend for helping finish it off); they are really responsible for us having a math distribution. Thanks also to Libo for putting in a lot of work and writing nearly all the Physics when the rest of us didn't, as well as editing it, and, of course, Surya who also put in a ton of work editing all the Biology.

Also, like Libo, I would like critique of my [Saturday] science questions (though I realize the packets are not released yet); I wrote most of the math/misc science bonuses, as well as a few biology tossups and biology/physics bonuses--the answers are reproduced below:

Code: Select all

Harmonic Oscillator
Poiseulle's Law/non-Newtonian fluids/shear-thinning
spontaneous symmetry breaking/W & Z bosons/cosmic topological defect
superparamagnetism/Neel/ferromagnetism
steady-state/CMBR/COBE
Thevenin's theorem/nodal analysis/current
Mollusca
diatoms
bacteriophages
Malaria [the edited version didn't make its way into the packets, so I was told of the problems with this already]
crabs/Crustacea/zoea
LHON/mtDNA/founder's effect
Cubozoa/Cnidaria/polyp and medusa
keystone species/sea otters/ecosystem engineers
uric acid/nephron/protonephridium
spectrin/actin/ankyrin
Ackermann fxn
Sturm-Liouville/BVP/PDE
Mandelbrot/fractals/Julia set
Mersenne primes/Wieferich primes/Euler-Mascheroni constant
Cauchy sequence/compact/BW Theorem
Newton's method/Chebyshev/Bertrand's postulate
Huffman coding
ENSO
luminosity/globular clusters/smc
databases/normalization/normal forms
watt/newcomen/savery
string-matching/Boyer-Moore/greedy
Hutton/Uniformatarianism/Playfair
rate of reaction/steady state approximation/Thiele modulus

Heavily edited:
AGN
Edit #1: Forgot one of the Extra TUs
Edit #2: I can be contacted at [email protected]/remove.edu if you don't wish to post on the forums
Last edited by Cody on Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:28 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

I wasn't a fan of that Ackerman function question. It was basically "this function used a lot in computer science," so I buzzed because hey, I know such a thing exists.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Ringil »

grapesmoker wrote: First, a few minor things: if you are using the singular "phenomenon," then your answer should really follow that pronoun. Also, gravitational radiation is an equivalent answer and should be acceptable. More importantly, this question is just really confusing. I had to google the Isaacson tensor to find out what it was, but it turns out it's just the wave's stress energy tensor in a particular approximation. It would be helpful here to actually explain what's going on in the "matter field" treatment, since that term is pretty opaque. The second sentence just doesn't make sense. Inspirals can form from gravity waves? I think the causation is backwards here: inspiraling systems generate gravitational radiation. Saying "binary stars show this strongly," also doesn't make a whole lot of sense as a categorical statement about binaries. The Weber bar clue should go towards the end, if anything, as that's a relatively well-known attempt to detect GW; if people don't know that, they're not likely to know anything about MiniGRAIL, whatever that is.

I'm just going over the basic facts here, but basically, the way this question is worded is all kinds of confusing (for the record I buzzed pretty early, so not that confusing to someone who kind of understand what you're getting at). Most of the problem with this question is that it doesn't really explain what's going on and the sentence constructions are really awkward. Even if all the facts are pretty much there, it sure would help to be precise about what you are saying.

One mistake I think a lot of people make in writing science questions in particular is thinking they need like 6 or 7 major clues for it. I think this is, in general, not correct. You are much more likely to reward someone for knowing science by following a pattern of "describe, describe, name." That is, describe one clue, then describe another, then name the first, etc. You only really need 3 or 4 distinct clues this way, because someone who knows what's going on will understand the technical stuff, and then you can drop the names for people who don't.
I learned in class that Inspirals form because of the existence of gravitational waves, but I guess the way you state it makes sense too. As for the rest of the comments, I'll try to keep them in mind the next time I write.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Ringil wrote:I learned in class that Inspirals form because of the existence of gravitational waves, but I guess the way you state it makes sense too. As for the rest of the comments, I'll try to keep them in mind the next time I write.
I don't want to turn this whole thread into an elucidation of an abstruse technical point. I think more than anything this is a confusion of language: binary inspiral is something that happens because two objects form a gravitationally bound system. As the inspiral occurs, the system radiates away energy in the form of gravitational waves, or so it is believed. Now, do inspirals form because of the existence of gravitational waves? Yes, in some sense, since gravity period is required, and thus gravitational waves will be generated. But it's a weird formulation to say that. I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about it that way, and I'm guessing if you asked your professor about how the mechanism works, he would explain it in much the same way I've explained it.

I'm not trying to pick on you, but I think it's important to understand that even if the facts are technically correct, if you word something in an odd way, people will be confused. A lot of the problems that I saw in the questions resulted from unorthodox formulations or just a failure to disambiguate between several possible answers. There were at least two tossups in the Sunday set where, after the first clue, multiple answers were possible and correct. If you want to fix those mistakes, email me and I'll tell you which ones.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by master15625 »

ATTENTION NEIL GURRAM

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

--the mgmt
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by master15625 »

master15625 wrote:ATTENTION NEIL GURRAM

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

DO NOT USE SPECIFICS IN DISCUSSING SUNDAY'S TOURNAMENT

--the mgmt
Terribly sorry for that. Thanks for catching it early.

For Saturday, the questions I did were

eigenvalues,
nine-point circle,
Bessel Functions, and
kernel/rank/Frobenius

Any critique would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat »

I would appreciate feedback on the following questions from Saturday:
Tossups:
Science: FAD(H2), Langmuir, cycloid, enol(ate), micelle, Schiff Base, Eddington, ribozyme, silicon, nitric acid, extraction, CO2, von Neumann
Music: Ginastera, Balakirev
Lit: Terra Nostra, Nausea

Bonuses:
Science: zeta potential/coagulation/emulsion, helicase/primosome/rho, catalytic cracking/Burton/coke, tosyl/EAS/sulfonamide,
Music: Miroirs/Rhapsodie Espagnole/Ravel, La Peri/Dukas/Symphony in C, Agnus Dei/Magnificat/Kyrie
Lit: The Things They Carried/Cosimo/Jose Arcadio
Religion: Pure Land/Nichiren/Soka Gakkai
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

master15625 wrote:Bessel Functions
One formula used to compute these involves integrating a complex integral; that formula is also known as Sommerfeld’s Formula. Bourget’s hypothesis states that no two members of this class have non-trivial common roots. The Rayleigh function is a summation that uses the zeros of these objects. They form an orthogonal set of solutions to the differential equations of the same name. The Jacobi-Anger Expansion is used to represent plane waves by expanding these using trigonometric exponentials. The Hankel functions are complex linear combinations of two types of these functions, one type being the Neumann function. These entities are named for the mathematician that first calculated a star’s parallax. For ten points, name these functions that may be of the second or first kind, which are useful in cylindrical harmonics and are denoted J sub nu of x.
ANSWER: Bessel functions
The first bolded part of this question is highly ambiguous and misleading. A whole host of answers could match that description, including, off the top of my head, Laplace transforms. If you're going to say that they can be computed using Sommerfeld's formula, just come out and say it unless you can describe the formula in a compact way. The second bolded part also applies to a great number of things (like various orthogonal polynomials, for example); that clue isn't doing any useful work there.

This question also features some uses of what I call "weasel terms," such as "involves," and "useful in." Why mince words? Bessel functions are solutions to the radial part of the Laplace equation in cylindrical coordinates. That's a true and unconfusing statement, whereas saying that they are "useful in" cylindrical harmonics kind of gets the point across but not really and not that well. It's always better to just say what you mean.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Here's another question I had some issues with:
This substance can be produced in a so-called “cloverleaf trap”. Introducing a revolving magnetic field to this substance can generate phenomena called vortices. Fischer and Schutzhold created a model of cosmic inflation using this substance. Grimm and Jin produced this substance using molecules of lithium. A one-dimensional variant of it is named for Tonks and Girardeau. Examples of materials able to produce this substance, whose state is governed by the Gross-Pitaevskii equation, include magnons, helium-4, and other particles with integer spin. For 10 points, identify this substance first synthesized in rubidium-87, an exotic state of matter named for a German and an Indian guy.
ANSWER: Bose Einstein Condensate
The bolded part is, again, somewhat ambiguous. It's not at all obvious to me that this uniquely identifies BECs in any meaningful sense; although I did track down this information and verify it, the way it's phrased here doesn't help very much. The rest of this question is more or less a jumble of various names in no particular order of difficulty, and with intermediate clues that make it trivial to figure out what's going on even if the names mean nothing to you. Finally, this question exhibits the same bizarre linguistic inversion that the gravitational waves tossup did; magnons and helium-4 do not "produce" BECs. People produce BECs from those things. This doesn't matter much for the factual content but it reads entirely backwards. Also, Einstein wasn't German, he was Swiss. (edit: born in Germany then moved to Switzerland, nevermind then)

This brings me to a larger point that I want to make about answer selection in science questions. Harkening back to the canon discussion in the CO thread, I want to make the not-all-that-radical assertion: BECs are, in many ways, "fringe canon." The number of times BEC questions come up in quizbowl is downright ridiculous considering how hard it is to write those questions. Why hard? Well, because if at any point you hear that what's being asked for is a "substance" that's difficult to produce in a lab, you should just buzz and say BEC. It's always going to be right. 95% of the time, these questions are transparent in the purest sense of that term. What's more, the amount of non-name-dropped information that anyone in quizbowl has about BECs is actually very, very small. So questions like this just end up being strings of names that people memorize to buzz on and don't convey very much useful information to anyone.

The BEC is like the Kenzaburo Oe of science. Important, but not so important that it should come up all the time, and definitely not so important that we need to continue mining deeper and deeper clues so we can write more tossups on it. It's definitely a key experimental technique and a very neat thing, but there are lots of other neat things too. For some reason we are fixated on writing questions about these things to the extent that a BEC question appeared at PACE NSC. Who at the high school level knows anything worth knowing about BECs? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say no one; maybe one or two really precocious high schoolers who are aces at science or something.

Especially at the lower levels of difficulty like ACF Fall through Regionals, I really wish people would focus more on basic concepts that someone might learn about in physics classes rather than exotic things about which people have relatively little real knowledge. Like in literature, there's just a certain amount of inertia that translates to people just writing the same 5 questions over and over again, and it should really stop.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Agnus Dei/Magnificat/Kyrie
I have a critique on this question, and fortunately it has nothing to do with musical minutiae. As I recall, the question claimed that Kyries are the first movement of all masses, and it specifically named requiems as a type of mass that has a Kyrie as the first movement. The reality is that, in what is referred to as the "mass ordinary," the Kyrie is the first section that is written, because a Kyrie is one of the hymns in a mass that is always used. However, masses also have something called the "mass proper" which is the bunch of hymns that change from day to day depending on what feast day or holiday it is. Some masses (more old ones) will specifically set both sections, and when factoring the mass proper, usually an opening hymn called the Introit is used. Requiems are odd, because they lack strict mass ordinary because they do not have a Gloria or a Credo section, and the Agnus Dei's text is modified. However, a true requiem mass will always begin with the Introit, which is the hymn "Requiem aeternam," and usually the Kyrie section will be the second movement, although occasionally it is combined into the first movement. Because the first thing I heard was that the question wanted the first movement of a requiem, I stopped paying attention to the rest and said Introit, and was incredibly frustrated by being counted wrong there. Anyway, I do enjoy that you tried to ask more about sections of the mass, because those are a really huge part of classical music that probably doesn't come up enough.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat »

Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:
Agnus Dei/Magnificat/Kyrie
However, a true requiem mass will always begin with the Introit, which is the hymn "Requiem aeternam," and usually the Kyrie section will be the second movement, although occasionally it is combined into the first movement. Because the first thing I heard was that the question wanted the first movement of a requiem, I stopped paying attention to the rest and said Introit, and was incredibly frustrated by being counted wrong there.
Sorry about that. I must have misread something somewhere. Thanks for all the information about how masses work.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Science: FAD(H2), Langmuir, cycloid, enol(ate), micelle, Schiff Base, Eddington, ribozyme, silicon, nitric acid, extraction, CO2, von Neumann
The FAD tossup went dead in a room with me and Will Butler in it; this is probably because it was missing some very key facts about FAD. For example, the fact that it nets you 6 hydrogens in the electron transport chain and its the other major electron carrier besides NAD. Even mentioning that it stands for flavin adenine dinucleotide would be fine.

The Eddington tossup didn't really have much scientifically useful information about him in the beginning. The thing about him trying to count the number of protons in the universe is kind of a wikipedia-only clue that's never really covered in a physics class.

The tossup on Schiff bases also was kind of a poor idea. Anytime in that question before "imine" was mentioned, imine should have been an acceptable answer. Beyond that, there's nothing wrong with ending the question saying "a substituted imine named for a German chemist" or something like that.

The rest of these questions were good. I esp liked the leadin to the CO2 tossup mentioning how green chemists like to use supercritical CO2 as a solvent, which I am to understand is a big deal.
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Science: zeta potential/coagulation/emulsion, helicase/primosome/rho, catalytic cracking/Burton/coke, tosyl/EAS/sulfonamide,
Seems fine to me. I esp like the helicase/primosome/rho bonus
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat »

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: The tossup on Schiff bases also was kind of a poor idea. Anytime in that question before "imine" was mentioned, imine should have been an acceptable answer. Beyond that, there's nothing wrong with ending the question saying "a substituted imine named for a German chemist" or something like that.
I'm not sure why imine wasn't acceptable in the final version of that question, since it is in the version I have saved on my computer. I guess I forgot to update it on QEMS at some point in the editing. My apologies.

On the FAD tossup, I guess I should have mentioned that it's not NAD. My biochem class really stressed that it goes to complex II in the electron transport chain, so I thought that clue was easier than it apparently is. I'll make an effort in the future to make giveaways easier.

Thanks!
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat »

VCU Saturday Packets have been sent to George for posting.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

I'm not sure why people seemed to dislike the Saturday set, but I thought it did a whole lot of things right in a way that not a lot of recent harder tournaments have done. Ok, granted, there were issues with the science, but I think it's worth considering the rest of the tournament in isolation from that. I thought the vast majority of that other 80% of questions were very well written. More importantly, they did a great job of mixing appropriately difficult answers with tossups on answers from all parts of the difficulty spectrum. I don't agree with some of the CO criticism, but whether or not there's a place for tournaments that kick your ass up and down the street (superteam or no), I don't think we need to be doing that at every tournament (or, really, more than one tournament a year). This tournament got the job done on the appropriately ranking good teams on difficult material front, and still managed to represent a broader spectrum of the canon than most hard events have done over the past few years.

Perhaps most importantly of all from a "what should we take away from this tournament" perspective, it was my impression that pretty much every tossup on Saturday was of an eminently tolerable length. We're all a bit too indulgent about this, and it's led to most post-regionals difficulty events featuring 10-12+ line tossups as the rule rather than exception. I don't think this tournament suffered in any way from its refreshingly disciplined use of a length cap, and I think it's something we all (myself so very much included) could stand to incorporate into our writing. Regardless of other concerns about the tournament (mediocre science, some occasionally brutalizing bonuses, etc.), I think Evan should be recognized for doing such a good job with this. Frankly, if we could all move even a little bit more in that direction, I think it would make these events a lot more appetizing for a wider audience - surely this tournament has helped to demonstrate that you don't absolutely need lines 10 through 12 to have that tossup still do every bit of its job.

Oh, yeah, I also really violently disliked the geography at this tournament, and from what I recall that was true for both Saturday and Sunday. I noticed a distinctly hilarious drop in mean bonus conversion when geography bonuses came up, found it to be very much a return to the purely topographical features bonanza that I've suggested causes people to stigmatize geography, and observed that most people were pretty generally bummed out by it. I'm willing to admit this is a knee-jerk reaction because I haven't yet looked through the set, but I'm pretty confident that geography conversion on bonuses at least was markedly low even at the Sunday event, which was supposed to be just north of PACE difficulty or whatever. I mean, we were 10ing the shit out of almost every geography bonus at a supposedly college-lite event, and it was just very disheartening.

EDIT: Changed vitally important typo
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by kdroge »

I'm looking at the answer sheet for the geography questions for Sunday, and they don't look to me to be that challenging. Out of eight bonuses, only two of them stand out to me as being 10s for most teams while the other six seem to have two fairly accessible parts (granted, aside from the two I wrote the others may have obscure clues for easy answers, but this seems unlikely). I do agree that about half of those bonuses were challenging thirties. The tossup answer lines all seem to be gettable, too, though again it's hard to say without having the exact questions in front of me.

The geo from Saturday does look pretty hard, though I'm not sure that it was that much harder compared to the rest of the tournament, and aside from one or two of the bonuses, they looked like they had at least one easy part.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

DumbJaques wrote:I'm not sure why people seemed to dislike the Saturday set,
I don't think it's that people disliked the Saturday set. I thought that, on balance, it seemed to have more variance than the Sunday set did. That's just a gut feeling and not really a condemnation of the set at all; I thought both sets were just fine, but preferred the Sunday one.
I don't agree with some of the CO criticism, but whether or not there's a place for tournaments that kick your ass up and down the street (superteam or no), I don't think we need to be doing that at any tournament (or, really, more than one tournament a year).
I'm not sure I understand this. Whether or not there's a place for such tournaments we shouldn't be having such tournaments? Maybe there's something I'm missing here. Regardless, VCU Open had a completely different goal from CO and is, in fact, a rather different tournament to begin with.
tossup length
I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that tossups at ACF Nationals will be capped at 8 lines.
geography
A lot of those geography things really emphasized all kinds of rocks and stuff. I know Chris has mentioned that he likes those kinds of questions; to me they're just so much white noise and I don't really know why they're interesting. Still, I don't think it was that different from most geography at most tournaments overall.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cchiego »

grapesmoker wrote: A lot of those geography things really emphasized all kinds of rocks and stuff. I know Chris has mentioned that he likes those kinds of questions; to me they're just so much white noise and I don't really know why they're interesting. Still, I don't think it was that different from most geography at most tournaments overall.
I freely admit that I'm trying to integrate geology (and history) better into geography so that geography isn't just a list of names of places, but rather some of the underlying geological features and processes that created those places. That, to me, makes geography questions much more interesting and reward people who actually know something about how current geographical features are created rather than those who go through a list of wikipedia's most-populous cities/longest rivers by country/state. Sure it may require players having to crack open a few historical geography books if they want to buzz in earlier on geography questions, but to me that's a good thing and a welcome change from the previous standards.
DumbJaques wrote: Oh, yeah, I also really violently disliked the geography at this tournament, and from what I recall that was true for both Saturday and Sunday. I noticed a distinctly hilarious drop in mean bonus conversion when geography bonuses came up, found it to be very much a return to the purely topographical features bonanza that I've suggested causes people to stigmatize geography, and observed that most people were pretty generally bummed out by it. I'm willing to admit this is a knee-jerk reaction because I haven't yet looked through the set, but I'm pretty confident that geography conversion on bonuses at least was markedly low even at the Sunday event, which was supposed to be just north of PACE difficulty or whatever. I mean, we were 10ing the shit out of almost every geography bonus at a supposedly college-lite event, and it was just very disheartening.
All the Saturday geography TUs had legitimate giveaways; they should not have gone dead in a room full of competent collegiate players who had at least a passing interest in geography.

For 2-3 bonus parts on Saturday, I did venture into canon expansion (Tuocami, Crowley's Ridge, and probably the Lake Superior part too). For the rest, it was all important features, some of which probably don't come up as often as they should in quizbowl, but are nevertheless quite important in their own right. All of the bonuses should get at least 10d. If you have specific questions that you felt were impossible, please point them out to me. In a few cases, I do see how I could have included more clues to make it easier on some middle parts, but otherwise I don't see major problems.

Though we can't measure it well, I'd be quite interested in seeing if the geography was actually "harder" than the rest of the set, or rather that it was just harder/different than what people were used to for geography.

I didn't write as much of the Sunday geography, but most of the ones I didn't write were even easier to get. Since I don't know if that set's cleared for discussion, email me and we can discuss specifics if you'd like.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

I'm not sure I understand this. Whether or not there's a place for such tournaments we shouldn't be having such tournaments? Maybe there's something I'm missing here. Regardless, VCU Open had a completely different goal from CO and is, in fact, a rather different tournament to begin with.
Yeah, I fucked up a key word right there - what I meant to type was "every tournament," not "any tournament." I think it makes sense once that's corrected. I entirely agree with your sentiment - CO was and should be the hardest tournament of the year. What I'm more referring to is other hard events like MO (and to some degree, Nationals) - I think most of those in recent years have been noticeably harder (at least in terms of tossups) than this VCU Open was. Hopefully this tournament showed that you can occupy a different point on the spectrum and just be every bit as difficult a tournament as those kind of events warrant.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

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All the Saturday geography TUs had legitimate giveaways; they should not have gone dead in a room full of competent collegiate players who had at least a passing interest in geography.
Well, most of my specific criticisms were of geography bonuses and I don't think I ever cited the tossups for going dead - I don't think they did, by and large. But that's not the only measure of a tossup - you want to create a spectrum of buzzes across all the rooms playing the tournament. If a lot of these questions are only going off of giveaways, doesn't that create exactly the kind of situation you were complaining about in the other thread?
For 2-3 bonus parts on Saturday, I did venture into canon expansion (Tuocami, Crowley's Ridge, and probably the Lake Superior part too). For the rest, it was all important features, some of which probably don't come up as often as they should in quizbowl, but are nevertheless quite important in their own right. All of the bonuses should get at least 10d. If you have specific questions that you felt were impossible, please point them out to me. In a few cases, I do see how I could have included more clues to make it easier on some middle parts, but otherwise I don't see major problems.
I have no idea what Tuocami is and am hoping you have misspelled it here because it shows up in no google searches. No matter what it's really called, I'm pretty sure both that and Crowley's Ridge are egregiously hard and unlikely to result in any kind of meaningful conversion. I sort of find your espoused support for making geography questions more interesting somewhat incompatible for asking for things like "this rock formation along the mississippi," which seems to me the very epitome of uninteresting topography bowl. I get that such things are interesting to you and others personally, but I'm not clear how you could logically distinguish a question like that with the kind of "random rivers" or whatever you decry asking about in the very same post. Also, stuff that doesn't really ever come up in quizbowl is not ideal material for middle parts.
Though we can't measure it well, I'd be quite interested in seeing if the geography was actually "harder" than the rest of the set, or rather that it was just harder/different than what people were used to for geography.
In the rooms I was in geography bonuses were always met with groans and most often with 10s, and my scoresheets back that up; that's about measurable as I'm able to get it. I guess I'll try briefly to point out some flaws I see in the first geography tossup in the set:
1.The Wild Azalea trail is the longest trail in this state, which unusually only has direct jurisdiction over 3 miles of offshore continental shelf instead of the 9 miles of other states. Its extreme northwest contains part of the oil-producing Caddo Lake as well as the town of Plain Dealing. Several unusually high, grassy hills in the south of this state, including Jefferson, Cote Blanche, and Avery Island, are formed by salt domes and this state also shares half of Sabine Pass with its western neighbor. Other major lakes in this state include Salvador, Calcaseu, and Maurepas while this state also contains the remnants of the Chandaleur Islands and the mouth of the Atchafalaya River. For 10 points, identify this state which includes university cities like Monroe and Lafayette, as well as a city on Lake Ponchitrain.
ANSWER: Louisiana
Aside from perhaps Caddo (which might be a little early) and Sabine (which definitely is), this question looks pretty much like it's mostly listing random topographical features. The one really cool clue I see here is the offshore shelf jurisdiction - to me, that kind of stuff is ideal for geography clues (distinctive, something that's actually likely to be relevant in a number of different areas, etc.). The main issue I have with the other clues is that their relevancy doesn't seem to extend beyond "have you been to/randomly encountered these places in Louisiana." Maybe it does, but the question doesn't really indicate it. The sentence I bolded seems ludicrously harder than "Sabine" and really a quite close approximation of the "going through rivers" thing.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cchiego »

I fail to see how this question conforms to what you noted above as your main complaints.
DumbJaques wrote:1.The Wild Azalea trail is the longest trail in this state, which unusually only has direct jurisdiction over 3 miles of offshore continental shelf instead of the 9 miles of other states. Its extreme northwest contains part of the oil-producing Caddo Lake as well as the town of Plain Dealing. Several unusually high, grassy hills in the south of this state, including Jefferson, Cote Blanche, and Avery Island, are formed by salt domes and this state also shares half of Sabine Pass with its western neighbor. Other major lakes in this state include Salvador, Calcaseu, and Maurepas while this state also contains the remnants of the Chandaleur Islands and the mouth of the Atchafalaya River. For 10 points, identify this state which includes university cities like Monroe and Lafayette, as well as a city on Lake Ponchitrain.
ANSWER: Louisiana
The lead-in with the Wild Azalea trail should 1. help people locate the general region we're talking about (where do wild azaleas bloom?) and 2. reward someone who has ridiculous knowledge of long National Recreation Trails.

If you know that the Caddo tribe was based around the LA/AR/OK area and lent its name to many places in that region, then bully for you. That's legit, real knowledge, and if you can buzz there, I'm happy with that. The fact there's a town of Plain Dealing (which produced several notable LA political figures) is also at the very least interesting.

The salt domes are super-unique to Louisiana, act as another clue to emphasize the oil-bearing part of the region, and their unique soil at Avery Island provides the basis for the flavor of the rather famous product of Tabasco Sauce.

Sabine Pass is very important as it's on the border with TX and is a main area of petroleum processing and was also a noted Civil War battle.

The Atchafalaya River is incredibly important, being the other main outlet of the Mississippi River, and also (if a former quizbowl question from earlier this year I think has it correct) the largest wetlands in the entire United States. I'll admit the other lake names are wikipedia-ish clues, but I figured I should at least include them near the end. The Chandeleur Islands, on the other hand, have been featured in everything from Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" to recent TV coverage of the oil spill thanks to their increased erosion over the years.

So what was wrong with the question again? It has a number of interesting, relevant clues that seem to clearly differentiate between various levels of knowledge. It avoids naming tons of rivers, lakes, towns, etc. in a row and rewards people who have in-depth knowledge of these features in an appropriate manner. It's the exact kind of geography question I hope proliferates in quizbowl.
DumbJaques wrote:I'm pretty sure both that and Crowley's Ridge are egregiously hard and unlikely to result in any kind of meaningful conversion.
I'd justify the Crowley's Ridge being included only because it's a fairly large and unusual geographic feature that's readily noticeable if you encounter it (i.e. drive through it on I-55 or I-40) and shows up on every topographic map of the Untied States. I fully admit it's a canon expansion, but again would point out that canon expansion takes place in every subject too. It was also the 3rd bonus part for that question, since the 2nd-largest city in Argentina (Cordoba) is not that hard.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Kyle »

Swank diet wrote:So what was wrong with the question again? It has a number of interesting, relevant clues that seem to clearly differentiate between various levels of knowledge. It avoids naming tons of rivers, lakes, towns, etc. in a row and rewards people who have in-depth knowledge of these features in an appropriate manner. It's the exact kind of geography question I hope proliferates in quizbowl.
No, it lists a number of topographic features that one might argue (as you just did) have some interest and some importance. But if you don't work the interesting bits into the question, then it's just a list of places I have never heard of that eventually becomes a list of places I have heard of. It's exactly the kind of geography question that I hope we can move beyond.

You're like the guy who writes a tossup on "straits" with text consisting of "Examples of these include the Hecate, Davis, Foveaux, Johor, Menai, La Perouse, Sunda, Hormuz, Taiwan, Messina, and, FTP, Gibraltar" who then defends his tossup by pointing out that the Menai Strait is interesting because of a particular bridge, the Strait of Hormuz is interesting because of something having to do with oil and pirates, and there are disputed islands in the Taiwan Strait, etc., etc. Those are indeed some interesting straits, but the tossup is still just a list of places.

Also, unless the Chandaleur Islands are easier than I think, you don't really have any middle clues until two words before the FTP, with the exception of Sabine, which is out of place, meaning that anybody who doesn't know a lot about Louisiana who misses the Sabine clue actually has to sit there and listen to all of these places.
Last edited by Kyle on Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

So what was wrong with the question again? It has a number of interesting, relevant clues that seem to clearly differentiate between various levels of knowledge. It avoids naming tons of rivers, lakes, towns, etc. in a row and rewards people who have in-depth knowledge of these features in an appropriate manner. It's the exact kind of geography question I hope proliferates in quizbowl.
I don't agree at all that it does those things, though. If that were true, you'd expect to see this question go at a wide range of points across all rooms, depending on the knowledge levels of the teams involved. As the question stands now, I'm thinking it's Sabine or giveaway, and I'd be shocked if there were other results to any significant degree. Naming tons of rivers, lakes, towns, etc. in a row seems to me to be exactly what this question does, with the exception of the cool clue about the offshore stuff.

I think the main problem here is that your definitions of interesting and relevant are spot on - for you. I think you're making a bit of a leap when you assume that those definitions hold for quizbowl as a whole. I mean, I'm marginally entertained by the whole Tabasco sauce being made from Avery Island dirt thing, but you notably did not include that information in the question. Simply name-dropping Avery Island is just that - one more name in a wikipedia-style list of features. It's clear that you didn't come at the question from that angle and in fact appear to have carefully selected the clues for reasons you felt were valid. The issue is for a place as relatively insignificant as Avery Island, you really have to talk about those things for the clues to retain any of that meaning. Even if someone knew that Tabasco thing, the odds that they'd remember Avery Island specifically as the name of the place are not great, and the odds that they'd go in on that clue ("that's got to be a common name and the question didn't really say anything about it, who knows if it's the same Avery Island") are even worse.

I think you're standing on even less sturdy ground with some of these other points:
The lead-in with the Wild Azalea trail should 1. help people locate the general region we're talking about (where do wild azaleas bloom?)
I haven't anything approaching a complete mental map of the geographic boundaries within which wild azaleas bloom and find it just a little bizarre that you seem to. This reasoning assumes people have some kind of botanical hyperawareness they can activate on the fly as they're hearing the clues. At best people are going to think "hey, I've seen azaleas where I'm from;" I've got like 20 azalea bushes in my yard and this didn't help me at all, mostly because I was under the impression that azaleas bloomed all over the place.
and 2. reward someone who has ridiculous knowledge of long National Recreation Trails.
For the purposes of a quizbowl question, you can be almost positive that nobody possesses such knowledge. There are probably lots of Wild Azalea trails anyway, so on the off chance you'd even heard of this one, you'd also have to know that it was the longest and such a distinction was unique to Louisiana. Negatory.
If you know that the Caddo tribe was based around the LA/AR/OK area and lent its name to many places in that region, then bully for you. That's legit, real knowledge, and if you can buzz there, I'm happy with that.
Yes, it certainly is, and if people actually did buzz there then the clue would be fine. I doubt they did, partially because the stuff about the tribe isn't there and you only name drop the lake. It seems by your own admission that the clue at best narrows it down to three choices even if people did possess such a deep knowledge of the Caddo tribe that they could parse the clue as such a reference rather than just a blip on the quick succession of named places. I'd also be willing to bet that the clue is infinitely more likely to spark buzzes from people who watch True Blood than from southern Indian tribe enthusiasts.
The fact there's a town of Plain Dealing (which produced several notable LA political figures) is also at the very least interesting.
Is it? I have no idea if it is, because this question mentions nothing about those politicians. I'm also confused by your use of "at the very least" here - beyond perhaps being incidentally ironic if they liked to take bribes or some shit (and who doesn't), I'm not sure what else could be significant about literally dropping the town's name with no other information.



I could buy the significance of the salt ridges if it was better elucidated in the question and used to replace some of these less meaningful clues. I reiterate that Sabine is very out of place and most likely to induce buzzes based on knowledge of Sabine river, which is much better known than the pass (hell, I didn't even know there was a pass of any particular note) and also exists along the LA-TX border. So really, any significance it had as a clue referencing cool civil war history stuff (which was never really there to begin with, again because you didn't put those things in the question) is sort of inconsequential as people will be buzzing with the exact kind of wikipedia-topography knowledge we're all trying to eliminate from geography questions. That's exactly what happened when we buzzerraced on the clue in my room.
The Atchafalaya River is incredibly important, being the other main outlet of the Mississippi River, and also (if a former quizbowl question from earlier this year I think has it correct) the largest wetlands in the entire United States. I'll admit the other lake names are wikipedia-ish clues, but I figured I should at least include them near the end. The Chandeleur Islands, on the other hand, have been featured in everything from Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" to recent TV coverage of the oil spill thanks to their increased erosion over the years.
Do you believe in just dropping lots of random wikipedia names in a question or not? I certainly don't, and I'm not sure I could ever be convinced that doing so would be compatible with good question writing. I think you're very much mistaken about this entire sentence of clues, because it's way harder than "Sabine" and is not nearly as well-known as you think it is. Something being mentioned in passing in An Inconvenient Truth does not make it notable, and it surely doesn't make it right before "FTP" notable.

Again, I get that you're coming at these clues differently than people who just cobble place names together, but I think your interest and depth of knowledge - particularly from a physical geography perspective - is so considerable that you're not appreciating the effect the clues actually have on 95% of people hearing them. I consider myself a marginally solid geography player and I definitely am a partisan for its reform and inclusion in college quizbowl, but to me (and I think to others), these clues feel nearly identical to the lazily-researched geography questions that we both hate. It took an annotated post from you to even indicate that you really did put a lot of time and consideration into these choices, so I hope you'll consider the implications of the fact that by simply hearing the clues alone as you wrote them, we'd never know that stuff.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

Swank Diet wrote:The fact there's a town of Plain Dealing (which produced several notable LA political figures) is also at the very least interesting.
So, notwithstanding Wikipedia's notorious fallibility, I decided to go check out Plain Dealing's Wikipedia page, and suffice it to say that the list of "Notable people" from Plain Dealing has a total of ten people, none of which I've ever heard of, among whom include a "farmer and used car dealer" and a former mayor who owned a department store "which burned in 1999, causing the loss of valuable papers and irreplaceable items" and whose sister was "a home economics teacher at Minden High School." Maybe some of those people are actually important but I don't know them because I don't pay that much attention to Louisiana state politics; I don't know. Oh, also, according to the town's official website there are 1089 people living in Plain Dealing. So essentially we have a town of 1000 people with no historical significance and, as far as I can tell, marginal regional significance. This is the epitome of a Wikiclue.
DumbJaques wrote:Again, I get that you're coming at these clues differently than people who just cobble place names together, but I think your interest and depth of knowledge - particularly from a physical geography perspective - is so considerable that you're not appreciating the effect the clues actually have on 95% of people hearing them.
I think that this is the most salient point to make in this whole discussion, and it doesn't just apply to geography. If you need to explain why something is important in order to convince someone that it's important, then you should probably put that explanation in the question. For instance, I just rewrote your question for you using, well, pretty much clues that you've given me in the explanation thread:
Rewrite wrote:This state unusually only has direct jurisdiction over 3 miles of offshore continental shelf instead of the 9 miles of other states. Salt domes in the south of this state form unusually high, grassy hills such as Avery Island, whose unique soil is responsible for the flavor of a certain sauce produced in this state. During the Civil War, a Union invasion from this state into its western neighbor was stopped at the Sabine Pass. The largest wetlands in the United States can be found at the mouth of the Atchafalaya River in this state, and its Chandaleur Islands have been threatened by erosion and, currently, the BP oil spill. For 10 points, identify this state in which Tabasco Sauce is produced, which includes university cities like Monroe and Lafayette, as well as a city on Lake Ponchartrain.
See how this is different? Maybe this is still too weird for a VCU Open question (Sabine is probably still too early, Atchafalaya lends itself to linguistic fraud, it's a really terrible description of the Chandaleur Islands, etc.) but it's no longer a list of random geographical or topographical features - it gives an explanation of why we ought to know each of these things.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

DumbJaques wrote:I have no idea what Tuocami is and am hoping you have misspelled it here because it shows up in no google searches.
I would also be interested in hearing what this is. Google did turn up a message-board thread in Slovak, but the top hits were examples of paralingua, which is less than reassuring.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

bt_green_warbler wrote:I would also be interested in hearing what this is. Google did turn up a message-board thread in Slovak, but the top hits were examples of paralingua, which is less than reassuring.
The Voynich Manuscript is actually ACF Nationals 1556.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

grapesmoker wrote:ACF Nationals 1556.
Removed current events from the distribution after Cardinal Pole demanded that every writer who submitted a tossup about him be sent to Smithfield?
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

DumbJaques wrote:I have no idea what Tuocami is and am hoping you have misspelled it here because it shows up in no google searches.
A thorough search of the packets suggests that this might be the Tuamotu Islands, an answer that shows up in Round 12.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cchiego »

cvdwightw wrote: DumbJaques wrote:I have no idea what Tuocami is and am hoping you have misspelled it here because it shows up in no google searches.

A thorough search of the packets suggests that this might be the Tuamotu Islands, an answer that shows up in Round 12.
Yeah it was Tuamotu. Probably too ambitious of a hard part and I should've gone with my original inclination of Marquesas.

Thanks for the feedback on the rest, I'll definitely make sure to put all the interesting parts/anecdotes/etc. within the geography questions themselves in the future.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

Man, the following statement actually appears as the second paragraph (in bold!) on the www.tuamotu-islands.com tourism website:
The Islands are not a common destination for travelers due to their remoteness and lack of a developed tourism industry.

Also, this:
When tourists and travelers due journey to these islands, they usually come to dive, to slow down the pace of their lives, or are associated with one of the local businesses.
I wonder what that last part means?
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Bananaquit »

Are salt domes actually unique to Louisiana? I was pretty sure High Island, near Galveston, was a salt dome (although Texas was obviously not the answer to that question). Also, I happened to know about both the Atchafalaya Swamp and the Chandeleur Islands through birds, as the former was one of the places suggested as containing Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, and the latter has large bird colonies (including a few Sooty Terns, which formerly bred in the U.S. only at the Dry Tortugas!). Admittedly, this is an unusual source for real knowledge, but I've found a lot of my geography knowledge comes from knowing things about birds and ecosystems and things, and I wouldn't mind more geography clues in a biological vein.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

Image
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

The United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve is stored in salt domes and is partially in Texas and partially in Louisiana, and it is in salt domes, so they aren't unique to Louisiana.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by cchiego »

Yep, the cool thing about salt domes is that they're often around places where there's plenty of gas and oil- early exploration of the Middle East oil reserves for example relied a great deal on finding salt domes and then looking for oil around there. It's not a perfect match, but it's a good place to start.

What's unusual about the salt domes of the Gulf Coast is that some are very noticeable because they resist erosion better than other surrounding areas and are 50-60 feet above the rest of the terrain around them, plus their soil is much different than the rest of the standard bayou-ish areas. So while a salt dome on the coast isn't uniquely identifying to Louisiana, it should key a player in to the few possible options.

This is again what I'd like more geology (or ecology!) clues to be able to do for geography questions- reward players who know where certain kinds of geological features occur, even if they don't know the exact name. I.e. if you hear something about a "volcano field" or basalt flow in a given location, there are only so many volcano fields/basalt flows in the world and the type of eruption would narrow it down even further. Soil-ish clues would also be helpful in that vein, but would probably put too many people to sleep. These features would also all make good earth science questions by themselves instead of the absurdly overused "sea-floor spreading" or semi-made-up stuff like "badlands."

In general I guess the mantra is "explain, don't just mention" for more clues in quizbowl questions, which not only help players learn new things but reward in-depth knowledge rather than memorization. I hope that can be done in other areas besides geography too though.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Our tournament is over so you can discuss the Sunday tournament now.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by ryandillon »

When will the Sunday set be posted?
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

Sunday's packets should be available now at

http://collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com/archive/VCUSunday

add a .zip to get the zip file

Feel free to discuss specifics now that the Washington mirror is over
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

6. On an atomic scale, this property may be explained by either of two models in which it is mediated by phonons: the dislocation model, and one proposed by Tomlinson. It may be measured by an atomic force microscope or a tribometer. Blah blah blah
ANSWER: friction
May I suggest that tossups on scientific concepts that reduce to word puzzles not be written? Or, if you must absolutely do so, that these clues go in the very end of the question?

Also:
11. Pisano periods are concerned with repetitions in these entities, while the Gellin-Cesaro identity relates five members of this set. The divisibility of entities in this set by a prime p are related to the Legendre symbol of p over 5. According to Zeckendorf’s Theorem, every positive integer can be written as a sum of one or more distinct terms in this set. Yuri Matiyasevich used these entities to show that Hilbert’s Tenth Problem was unsolvable, and its generating function is the reciprocal of (*) 1-x-x squared. Explicit formulas for the members of this series include Binet’s Formula, while the number of ways to tile a 2 by n board with 1 by 2 dominoes helps explain its most famous characteristic. For 10 points, name these entities which satisfy the recurrence F sub n equals F sub n-1+F sub n-2, in which the ratio of consecutive terms is equal to the golden ratio and begins 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.
ANSWER: Fibonacci numbers or Fibonacci sequence
I bold the part where I buzzed with "Diophantine equations" and was negged. I don't dispute the accuracy of the previous clues as applying to only Fibonacci numbers, but the bolded part is at least as true of Diophantine equations as it is of the Fibonacci numbers. I'm just going to point out that when you use a formulation like "Joe Blow used these things to show X" you'd better be sure that's uniquely identifying information; typically, "used" is a sufficiently vague term that it could and does often apply to multiple things.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

I also want to point out a question that I particularly liked:
10. When curves with this quantity held constant are plotted for a van der Waals fluid, curves with this quantity below its critical value contain both a local maximum and minimum, related to a vapor-liquid transition. The excess Gibbs energy is divided by this variable when it is related to the natural log of the activity coefficient. This variable is found in the denominator of the compressibility factor, which forms one side of the virial equation of state. The rate of (*) heat transfer is proportional to the gradient in this quantity according to Fourier’s Law. For 10 points, name this variable whose increase exponentially raises the reaction rate as shown by the Arrhenius equation and which is related to pressure and volume by the ideal gas law.
ANSWER: temperature
This is a very good question that covers a lot of meaningful material that someone who has taken thermodynamics would know, including things like the virial expansion and Fourier's law. We should have more questions like this.
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Re: VCU Open Discussion

Post by theMoMA »

Also, Pisano is one of Fibonacci's real names. I buzzed on that clue (with no knowledge other than what Fibonacci's name is) after hearing a couple more words to make sure what I was saying made sense.
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