Chicago Open Discussion

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Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:55 pm

Now that I have a few spare minutes, let me say a few words on this year's tournament, and open the forum for any discussion folks would like to have.

On the whole, I'm fairly pleased with the final product of the 17 main packets. Personally, I'm not quite sure how I finished this tournament, but it seems to have happened. I used literally every available hour of the last 3 weeks or so (except about 6 hours on average per night of sleep), and somehow it turned out to be enough to finish at 3 AM on tournament day. Before thanking my coeditors, I'd like to thank Spike Shooter energy drinks, which I heartily recommend to any drowsy future qb editor faced with miles to go before they sleep. They definitely give you a few hours of blood pumping where regular energy drinks would not. I'm not completely heartbroken about the finals packets not being heard, as they were a little more slapdash than I'd like - I would've preferred the time to construct them with a bit more forethought. I'll probably nurse the Finals packets and not release them for now; perhaps I can read them at some event like MO. Anyways, here's a feel for what editors of this set did...

Aaron Rosenberg wrote and edited all classical music, with nary a finger laid on that landmine by myself, because any generalist in qb today would have to be a lunatic to even try to edit classical music for a top-tier event. SteveJon Guth was responsible for all of the written and edited science - see previous comment...I wouldn't touch science today with a ten-foot Claymore.

Ted Gioia wrote most of the editor's literature questions - the non-submissions. He also edited most of the philosophy and social science, and submitted a handful of original soc sci and philosophy to the event. I think Ted's style and answer choices were a very nice addition to this event. Mike Bentley did a whole lot of stuff in general, including: handling almost all of the logistics of the event (which was a tremendous aid), editing much of the history and art submissions, and providing a large reserve of questions of his own in various subjects - many more than were actually used in the tournament. I hope that, at some event blind to the editors of this event, Mike is able to use most of the questions he wrote that did not make it into the set. No doubt to Mike's annoyance, I made a number of very dictatorial editing decisions...basically keeping what suits my interests, skimming past what doesn't, and changing everything in between. I pretty much shred every question with a fine toothed comb, for good or for bad.

By the way, I don't know if packet awards were given at the event...were they? I've named the best packet to be Rob Carson's team, which I think was easily the best I received. So, they win a $50 discount (which can be redeemed in some way, I'm sure). I decided to give the$25 dollar discount for packet to the Grames team, as it was submitted early and showed very good effort. Hopefully, I'll find a way to arrange the awards at future events, etc....rather than sending out money or whatever.

In general, the packets I received were okay, though I think I preferred the bunch I got last year. If there's one thing I'd like to see good teams do, it's make sure to tapir down your questions - give real middle clues, and then slowly nudge people to the answer when you start getting down to that 6th line, 7th, 8th line...there were way too many times where there wasn't enough effort toward the end of questions to help the player along, to give real middle clues - and then to progressively give the player a little bit more and little bit more, to nudge a good player towards the answer line. There were also too many instances where people clearly didn't try to give an easy or middle part to the bonus - when you're a good player and you write a bonus with three extremely hard answers, you're just basically telling me that you're not trying to make it a fair bonus. I see that every now and then.

But, again...all in all, I wasn't disappointed with the quality of the packets, and I do always have a lot of fun editing this event. This may be the only submission event that I realistically have the means to edit given my daily schedule, and I hope that people enjoyed playing the event as much as I generally enjoyed putting it together.
Last edited by No Rules Westbrook on Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by The Abyss » Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:00 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote:If there's one thing I'd like to see good teams do, it's make sure to tapir down your questions
TAPIR DOWN! TAPIR DOWN!

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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:53 pm

I would like to thank all of the editors for their hard work and for Dave Madden for providing a lot of buzzers/food.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Gautam » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:07 am

I had a fun time at CO 2012. Many thanks to the editors, staffers, and other awesome people who made the tournament happen. Lots of cool and interesting things were asked about at this tournament - it's time to expand those intellectual horizons and read up!

Congratulations to Mukherjee et al for their well-deserved win. They were playing like a well-oiled machine. Many kudos for those who made it out to CO the first time, as well. And lastly, many thanks to Sorice, Jeff, and Andrew for playing with me this weekend - it was good fun. :smile:

There were one or two questions on the far left hand side of the difficulty bell curve, though I can't remember any specifically. I don't remember bageling too many bonuses, though there were some pretty hard 20s. Overall, I'm inclined to say that most of the questions were of reasonable difficulty.

I submitted the TUs on Boron, Bellows, plasmons, and FISH (which was actually written by Gaurav) in addition to bonuses on renormalization/universality classes, options, FLT, polymer statistical mechanics, and enzyme kinetics (also written by Gaurav.) If you have any comments on those, feel free to drop me a line - gkandlikar@gmail.com
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:47 am

First of all, I want to congratulate the TDs for finishing the tournament before 10:00 PM. The tournament would have run until 10:30 or so if there had been a final, but Jerry, Magin, Will and I decided to sacrifice ourselves and lose to Mik Larsen in the penultimate round to avoid that. You can thank us later. :)

Still, so early an end time for a full round robin CO is an impressive feat, and I hope that future TDs study 2012 Chicago Open and apply its lessons.

As for the questions, I think there were quality control issues and that the set was not as polished as previous Westbrook CO's. I suspect this is not unrelated to the fact that Westbrook only accepted the editorship after nobody else stepped forward. Presumably the reason Ryan had not come forward initially was that he knew he might not have enough time or energy to produce the kind of set we expect from him.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:34 am

When the set gets posted, I'll have a little more specifics, but the science was really unfortunate in this edition of CO. Too many questions were really poorly phrased, to the point of being confusing. It's good to have someone knowledgeable working on the science, but it takes more than just knowing what's correct and what's not to write a good question. You actually have to be, you know, a good writer.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:51 am

grapesmoker wrote:When the set gets posted, I'll have a little more specifics, but the science was really unfortunate in this edition of CO. Too many questions were really poorly phrased, to the point of being confusing. It's good to have someone knowledgeable working on the science, but it takes more than just knowing what's correct and what's not to write a good question. You actually have to be, you know, a good writer.
I would unfortunately have to agree, and I've seen SteveJon write far superior science to this set. I'm willing to believe that he had a bit of an off day.

More when the set is posted.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:43 pm

In response to Bruce, I'll say that there's no question in my mind that this set wasn't as polished as the two previous Chicago Opens that I've done. I was forced to do some prioritizing that I wasn't forced to do on the previous sets, and didn't have the time to nurse a lot of the questions as much as I'd like.

To build on Jerry's advice, if I could implore writers to do one other thing, it's this: read through your questions once. Like, seriously, read them once as if you were a moderator - is everything grammatically correct? are there confusing words and phrases? are there torturous run-on non-sequiturs? All of this would seem self-explanitory, but I can't believe people actually did this with some of the submitted questions.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:13 am

I thought that this tournament was, if not exemplary of a Westbrook event, at least solidly in that tradition. It's obvious that an above-average amount of care went into making this set playable, balanced, and interesting. Some of the answer choices weren't ones I would have made personally, but I respect Ryan's willingness to work with what the packet authors give him, and his ability to come up with new answers that challenge the players without bringing them to their knees. I suppose I can't speak expertly on the science, but I thought that the science bonuses tested for hard things without becoming unreasonable, which is difficult to do at this level, and I enjoyed the few tossups I was able to get.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:18 am

One thing I did notice, and I think is somewhat unfortunate and indicative of writing trends, is that the visual arts skewed very, very heavily to film. There were a few tossups on cities in architecture, but it seemed like tossups on architects, sculptors, and their works didn't appear very often (if at all). There is nothing wrong with writing lots of good film tossups, and I thought that the ones in this set were good, but I wouldn't want to see other visual arts become the exclusive bastion of film at the expense of the other important disciplines.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:30 am

I agree there were probably too many film questions, but I thought they were all pretty good and for the most part on pretty interesting, underutilized answerlines.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:40 am

theMoMA wrote:One thing I did notice, and I think is somewhat unfortunate and indicative of writing trends, is that the visual arts skewed very, very heavily to film. There were a few tossups on cities in architecture, but it seemed like tossups on architects, sculptors, and their works didn't appear very often (if at all). There is nothing wrong with writing lots of good film tossups, and I thought that the ones in this set were good, but I wouldn't want to see other visual arts become the exclusive bastion of film at the expense of the other important disciplines.
I mentioned this to Ryan, but his response was essentially, "Chicago Open should have a lot of film".
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:58 am

theMoMA wrote:I thought that the science bonuses tested for hard things without becoming unreasonable
I disagree. At least in the fields that I'm familiar with, many of the science bonuses had these weird balls-out hard parts that I'd never heard of. I'm particularly baffled by the "Bell's spaceships" question, which, as Wikipedia notes "is very rarely mentioned in textbooks, but appears occasionally in special relativity notes on the internet." Apparently multiple classes incorporating special relativity spread across 10 years of physics education isn't sufficient to answer something culled from someone's Internet notes.

Also, I can provide multiple citations demonstrating that "compressibility" in the stat mech sense is almost never referred to as the "compressibility factor."
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:49 pm

That's strange; I said "Z," was prompted, then said "compressibility" and got the points.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:56 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I disagree. At least in the fields that I'm familiar with, many of the science bonuses had these weird balls-out hard parts that I'd never heard of. I'm particularly baffled by the "Bell's spaceships" question,
That bonus was originally Minkowski Space/Rindler Coordinates/ Time-like interval. I'm not sure why it was changed; I pulled all of the parts from a textbook.
Also, I can provide multiple citations demonstrating that "compressibility" in the stat mech sense is almost never referred to as the "compressibility factor."
The only reason I got this was that I was screwed out of a bonus part at Regs 2012 for saying compressibility instead of compressibility factor.

Still waiting for the set to get posted.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by touchpack » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:13 pm

So I was the writer of the compressibility factor tossup, and here are my thoughts:

I forgot to add "accept Z" to the answerline, so it appears SteveJon added "prompt Z"

I wrote the tossup from Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics 7th ed by Smith, Van Ness, and Abbott. They exclusively use the term "isothermal compressibility" to refer to this quantity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressibility

and "compressibility factor" to refer to this quantity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressibility_factor

I have only taken 2 chem E classes so far that mention the compressibility factor, but in both of them, it is exclusively referred to as such--no one ever calls it just "compressibility," and I did not anticipate more than maybe 1 or 2 people in the field saying it. Thus, I judged that an answer of just "compressibility" uniquely refers to a different answer (the thing wikipedia refers to as beta and my textbook as kappa), based off of my personal experience in classes that mention and use both quantities extensively. If other people think this was inappropriate, I apologize.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:41 pm

It's a term that means different things in different contexts, sure. The point is that "factor" is not actually a useful discriminator (what is the isothermal compressibility if not itself a "factor"?) and, at least in physics, not even a term of art. It's a bit like prompting on "Adams" to distinguish between John Adams, U.S. President, and Richard Adams, author. I think this is a good example of a situation where you don't need to be super-demanding in your answer line.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by touchpack » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:08 pm

I was under the impression that the word "factor" was used only for dimensionless numbers that produce some sort of multiplicative correction due to some effect (in this case, due to the fact that gasses have a non-zero compressibility, PV = nRT changes to PV = ZnRT). At least, the compressibility, acentric, and Poynting factors all fit this description. But I see your overarching point.

edit: although, now that I think about it a little bit more, the fugacity and activity coefficients also fit that definition of a "factor," but are not called as such.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Rothlover » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:29 pm

Any chance we can get the set without the finals packets posted at least or more specific question discussion etc?

I really enjoyed the tournament, frankly. Special thanks to Dallas, Brendan and Sam for having my sub 8 ppg self. There were lots of questions whose answer line I enjoyed seeing at this level, even if they sometimes could've used a couple more substantive clues (I recall the Bernard Lewis tu for instance not mentioning a couple of his more famous works, as someone who has read a bunch of Lewis.) Often, powers seemed to me to be parsimonious, but either the stats don't bear that out or it was just a really excellent field with lots of people who knew at least a couple things super well. I really liked the "Black Like Me" tu, and the Bellows tu, among the few dozen I could think of.


Specifically, I wrote the following that made it into the first 20 of our packet for critique/thoughts (I know there was a big upset on the packet, so I'd hope no one felt my questions played a significant part.) Tus on Duccio, Paddy Chayefsky, Watts tower/s, Revolt of the Angels and the Danish Mohammed cartoon controversy (I was very lenient on the answer line for this as submitted). Bonuses on Soviet film (I know Sheptko was a hard "hard", but it struck me as noteworthy and I wanted to mention Ikarie XB-1 in some context), the Don Quixote/pre-novel bonus framed around crypto-Judaism with the Mendele part, the protest singers bonus (Malvina Reynolds was the idea for the original hard part without mentioning "Weeds" and the Dylan part had slightly harder clues initially. I also wrote a W. G. Sebald bonus, one on anti-fungals, and one on Chassids/Lubavitch that I don't know if they made it into the packet or not.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:55 pm

Yeah, sorry...I just forwarded the non-finals set to Will for posting.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:00 pm

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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Rothlover » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:14 pm

Just looking at my q's. The correct Chayefsky work, "The Latent Heterosexual" was changed in editing to "The Latent Homosexual." I hope this didn't screw anyone.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:32 pm

Me and my homosexual editing agenda.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:43 pm

Yeah, my Princess Casamassima tossup (admittedly not my greatest tossup to begin with, though; sorry) got edited in a way that makes some of the later clues confusing/wrong. Amanda Pynsent isn't raised by a dressmaker and she isn't the protagonist who must assassinate a duke; she is the dressmaker who raises the protagonist (Hyacinth) who must assassinate a duke. Hopefully, this didn't cause any problems.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:21 pm

Although I liked last year's set much better (except for the music, which I thought was really well done this year), I still enjoyed this year's set quite a bit, so many thanks to Ryan, Mike, Aaron, Ted, and SteveJon. I may have comments once I have a chance to read through the set, but the only real standout bad tossup that I remembered was this one (basically, how not to write a painting tossup):
A scandalous pencil study by this artist entitled Desiderium shows a woman grasping the testicles of an erect penis. He was compared to Gustave Moreau by Robin Ironside, who rebuilt his reputation in the 1940s. He painted a “harmony in blue” with his Viridis of Milan, while eight women all wear green dresses and form a circle in his canvas Green Summer. He resigned from the Old Water-Colour Society due to the scandalous nudity in his Phyllis and Demophoon, and showed a row of women in white walking down a title structure in his The Golden Stairs. A Greek artist named Maria Zambaco served as the model for the the sorceress in his Wine of Circe. A certain African king looks up at a plainly dressed woman in his 1884 painting showing king Cophetua and the beggar maid. FTP, name this Pre-Raphaelite artist who painted The Beguilling of Merlin, and was related to Rudyard Kipling.
ANSWER: Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet
This is just a series of titles with short, mostly unhelpful/unbuzzable bits of descriptions stuck in between. Then the most famous painting has its title dropped at the end with no description whatsoever. And then (bizzarely), the giveaway is that he's related to Kipling. Unless someone knows who Maria Zambaco is or knows the Ironside clue, all this is going to test is whether players have memorized Burne-Jones titles.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:38 pm

Oftentimes, I try to reduce unnecessary clutter and confusing wording in tossups...by rephrasing awkward sentence constructions as simpler ones, by using words and phrases that I think are easier to read (I hate "titular" and will almost always replace it with "title", I hate "identify" and will almost always replace it with "name", I hate technically correct grammatical constructions which are hard to read and prefer to just write like the spoken word a lot of times, etc.)

If I managed to change the meaning of that Princess Cass tossup in doing that, I certainly apologize. Not to be a cynic on that - but this game plays way too fast, I think, for people to even notice that sort of stuff. Noone's going to second guess a buzz with Princess Cass because of that kind of confusion - but obviously, it's preferrable to get those things right.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:49 pm

So I dislike Ezra/Nehemiah questions, but I wrote a question for CO on "rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem." This was an attempt at getting at the central difference between the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that I sometimes questions on the two books tend to downplay: Ezra leads the people back from Jerusalem and guides the building of the new temple; Nehemiah arrives a few years later and leads the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. The stories are pretty similar (not helped by Ezra appearing in Nehemiah), but they do have a different core--it's like confusing Henry Ford popularizing the automobile with the creation of the Interstate Highway. However, I have no idea if this tossup was 1. not transparent or 2. didn't produce lots of negs on "rebuilding the temple." (In the room I saw, Mike Sorice had a fine, confident early buzz on it)
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by cornfused » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:00 pm

Cheynem wrote:2. didn't produce lots of negs on "rebuilding the temple."
This happened in my room (I don't remember whose buzz it was - a bit of research says it was Kurtis/Marshall/Ike/Doug) but it didn't seem to be the question's fault.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by eliza.grames » Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:46 pm

Cheynem wrote:2. didn't produce lots of negs on "rebuilding the temple."
Melanie negged it with "rebuilding the temple", seemed confused that she had been negged, realized what happened, and explained to me that the stories were really similar and she had mixed them up.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Excelsior (smack) » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:33 pm

Saajid negged that with "rebuilding the temple" too, I think.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:36 pm

Science time.

PACKET 1:
Arginine - I really don't like these two sentences
CANADIAN packet wrote:This chemical is the substrate of a family of synthases that require electron flow between NADPH, FAD, FNM, BH-four, heme, and finally O-two. A competing enzyme containing manganese cleaves a one-carbon molecule from this chemical in the final step of a cycle that begins by joining carbamoyl phosphate to ornithine.
for a few reasons

1. The first sentence is obviously talking about NO synthase, but in a game setting its impossible to follow the construction of that sentence. I almost negged with NO at that point. I feel like in general, if you have to use a phrase referring to a second unnamed plausible answer ("family of synthases") about an answer that's not actually in the name of that clue (they're not arginine synthases), you're going to confuse people.
2. In no meaningful sense does arginase "compete" with NO synthase; it would have been better to say "An enzyme named for the fact that it breaks down this compound" and maybe throw in a clue about inhibitors (NOHA, NPA, etc).
3. You still have the problem that the clue is about the urea cycle; it was at this point, being thoroughly clue-whiplashed, that I buzzed in with urea because I couldn't figure out what was going on. I'm not saying its a bad clue, I'm saying try to make it a little easier to understand.

Path integral - I thought this was really good; my one complaint is that three years ago I complained about the Caldiera-Leggett model being an absolutely useless clue. I almost negged with "harmonic oscillators", because said model is a bath of harmonic oscillators used to model dissipation and was thus a plausible answer at that point

Wavelets/Piecewise/L2 seemed hard at the time, but in retrospect L2's not as hard as I thought it was. Piecewise seemed like a difficult easy part, though.

PACKET 2:
UV Light - great idea for a question, but that first clue was hella misleading; langerhans cells will migrate out of the skin and deplete their surface markers in response to other carcinogens (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1977164/) and I'm pretty sure some immune responses. I loved the rest of this question though.

Moons of Uranus - stop doing this. I don't think minor solar system geography is anyone's friend anymore. If Seth Teitler or James Lasker want to disagree with me I'm happy to listen.

Racemic mixtures - This was a fine idea that kind of fell flat. The clues were a series of citations, none of whom are presumably famous outside of their respective very small fields. Spending more time talking about chiral derivitization agents or enantioselective syntheses might have netted you more.

PACKET 3:
Hamiltonian - heavy on eponyms, light on useful stuff at the beginning. I don't think the Eckhart-Watson hamiltonian is taught in quantum chemistry, certainly not in any QC class I've taken.

Trees - ???????????????????


PACKET 4:
Plasmons - I loved this tossup

Boron - those 3-center-2-electron bonds are super famous

Particle ID - is this actually a named, codified thing? From the very beginning I just wanted to buzz in with "...using a particle collider? Analyzing the results of a particle collision?" etc?

FISH - great idea, but I've never heard of BrdU incorporation measured by FISH (its usually done by flow cytometry). I found that confusing.

Is directed percolation important?

I'm sad that my favorite mechanism, the ping-pong mechanism, was too late in the packet for us to hear it. Also, I've heard of Scatchard plots, but have never heard it called Scatchard analysis.

PACKET 5:

Calculus of variations - really good idea. Not sure about those leadins, someone else could comment on them.

Skull - there needs to be more questions like this, that are answerable both early and late. Battle's sign (blood pooling behind your ear after a skull fracture) is really memorable. And disgusting.

I'll bet 10$ I'd have beaten Jerry to this Ising model tossup.

PACKET 6:
Scattering - really liked this tossup, but I can't comment on the earlier clues about bessel functions. I hope they were good.

Big O - this was not good. I wanted to neg with runtime the whole time, and I'm sure other people did too. Rob and Trevor certainly have more experience with this, but I've had to use the Master theorem once or twice and it was kind of frustrating to not be able to figure out what it wanted.

PACKET 7:
atoll - there sure were a lot of these kind of strange earth science tossups in this set. I'm told this is Paul Marchsteiner's doing. Stop it Paul!

Occipital lobe - alright this was really annoying, and I'll tell you why. The two-streams hypothesis is about the visual output splitting into a dorsal stream and a ventral stream after passing from the eyes to the occipital lobe. I realize the question was trying to get at the fact that it splits at the occipital lobe, but the way you have it phrased ("the output of this structure") makes it seem like any part of the visual pathway up to the occipital lobe is acceptable.

Is there any reason to say "certain gene" instead of HOTHEAD in this arabidopsis bonus?

PACKET 8:
Glyoxylate - seems weird to toss up the chemical instead of the cycle itself

Plankton - kind of stupid

PACKET 11:
Refrigerator - this was also really stupid.

PACKET 12:
quasicrystals - thought this was a good idea, might have been worth mentioning Daniel Schechtman at some point in there.

PACKET 13:

Necrosis - this has a kind of classic leadin problem in this set, randomly dropping so-and-so et al discovered that this thing might work this way. That's just filler and not really helping anyone.

N2O - fine question, not sure of its importance or notability in a non-laughing-gas and non-car sense.

PACKET 14:

Xenopus - this question was mostly fine. My one problem with it is that Sperry's experiments are usually just taught as having been done in frogs; unlike all of the other stuff done in Xenopus, its not particularly notable what species of frog Sperry used.

Splines - really enjoyed this tossup

PACKET 15:

Brood reduction - spare us

PACKET 16:

The natural selection tossup was pretty inspired; I'd have just taken selection for most of it, though, as most of those clues early clues (McD-K, the synonymous substitutions thing) apply as long as some kind of selection is happening (including things like antibiotic resistance).

PACKET 17: Best packet ever would play again. I had no idea who thought administering substance P to people with neurocystericosis was a good idea.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by mhayes » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:45 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Big O - this was not good. I wanted to neg with runtime the whole time, and I'm sure other people did too. Rob and Trevor certainly have more experience with this, but I've had to use the Master theorem once or twice and it was kind of frustrating to not be able to figure out what it wanted.
This tossup gave the impression that it wanted something calculable, but Big-O is simply a notation. In that sense, it was very unclear what the question was looking for.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Windows ME » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:19 pm

3. You still have the problem that the clue is about the urea cycle; it was at this point, being thoroughly clue-whiplashed, that I buzzed in with urea because I couldn't figure out what was going on. I'm not saying its a bad clue, I'm saying try to make it a little easier to understand.
I would have negged this tossup with urea as well. It was downright awful.
Skull - there needs to be more questions like this, that are answerable both early and late. Battle's sign (blood pooling behind your ear after a skull fracture) is really memorable. And disgusting.
Just curious if you (Eric) have learned about Puppe's Rule in your studies (it seems obscure), because I am quite sure I would have negged this question at "vomer" with "nose" -_- [and yes, I agree with the Battle's sign comment :)]


After going through the CO packets on my own, I don't think the science was nearly as bad as people are making it out to be. (I think this is similar to when HI 2010 was critiqued on the forums - but I suppose I am not the most qualified person to talk about these things)

There were some really good ideas for answer lines, and the tournament also introduced me to some interesting topics. So kudos (although yes there were about 6-7 science tossups in this set that were flat out bad ideas I do agree)
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:34 pm

fourplustwo wrote:Just curious if you (Eric) have learned about Puppe's Rule in your studies (it seems obscure), because I am quite sure I would have negged this question at "vomer" with "nose" -_- [and yes, I agree with the Battle's sign comment :)]
I don't know what Puppe's rule is, and I completely forgot what the vomer was while reading this question. I only learned about LeFort's fractures because I've done my surgery rotation; Penn doesn't actually have an ortho class, so any bone stuff that I get is from anatomy, which I hardly remember. Is it different in Canada?
After going through the CO packets on my own, I don't think the science was nearly as bad as people are making it out to be. (I think this is similar to when HI 2010 was critiqued on the forums - but I suppose I am not the most qualified person to talk about these things)

There were some really good ideas for answer lines, and the tournament also introduced me to some interesting topics. So kudos (although yes there were about 6-7 science tossups in this set that were flat out bad ideas I do agree)
I think the overarching thing was that there were some bad ideas that kind of soured the pot, and there were some systemic issues with clue selection (over-reliance on citations, eponyms, and kind of convoluted phrasing) that are worth talking about.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:29 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Moons of Uranus - stop doing this. I don't think minor solar system geography is anyone's friend anymore. If Seth Teitler or James Lasker want to disagree with me I'm happy to listen.
Yeah, Ashvin negged this with Moons of Jupiter at the same time I was about to neg with Moons of Saturn, and we both felt it was sub-optimal. I like astronomy questions, but I feel like they're frequently on constellations (almost always just listing things that happen to be in the same place), stars (could be cool, but unless it's a particularly important star hard to write), or things like this.
Particle ID - is this actually a named, codified thing? From the very beginning I just wanted to buzz in with "...using a particle collider? Analyzing the results of a particle collision?" etc?
So, first of all, I was really happy to hear a question that actually rewarded knowledge of how physicists do physics. That being said, I'm not sure that this was the best tossup. I buzzed on the small distance from the collision point with something along the lines of "Um, that's describing b tagging, which you use when you're reconstructing the jets in your detector to detect and analyze the particles in it" and it was accepted. Looking at the rest of the question, the second sentence doesn't make sense to me - separation power typically refers to just generally how well one variable differentiates between different types of events, and you typically want to focus your analysis on variables with a higher separation power so you can get rid of more of your background without losing your signal, the type of events that you're looking for. I honestly don't understand the meaning of the sentence about leptons and photons. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I applaud the writer for writing a question on something thousands of physicists do every day and I'd love to see more questions on this kind of topic, some of the clues in this one were vague and didn't make it clear what it was looking for.
Big O - this was not good. I wanted to neg with runtime the whole time, and I'm sure other people did too. Rob and Trevor certainly have more experience with this, but I've had to use the Master theorem once or twice and it was kind of frustrating to not be able to figure out what it wanted.
Yeah, this might have been my least favorite tossup in the tournament, and just about everyone I've talked to also disliked it. It was confusing about what it wanted; I'd guess that the writer knew that saying what it was too soon would narrow the answer space to one thing, and compensating by being really coy just made it unclear.
Refrigerator - this was also really stupid.
This was probably my second least favorite tossup, and I can't think of any words to describe it other than bizarre and stupid. This had, like, one clue in it from physics.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:43 pm

I wrote the tossup on "particle identification" solely from this source, which seemed reputable to me. I don't really know anything about the subject, so I just attempted to an accurate transcription of things that I thought sounded specific and important from the paper. If I screwed up, I'm sure it was because I didn't know enough to make an accurate determination of what is actually important, or I didn't know how to reproduce it accurately in the tossup text.

I also fiddled around with the answer line a lot. Unfortunately, it's hard to be parsimonious with the answer by writing on "particles," or something like that, since that brings in the possibility of category error more than the current line does. I did experiment with a few changes like that. Initially, I was thinking about writing on the Higgs boson simply from particle detection clues, but I didn't think that people would know enough to warrant that tossup. I'm not sure if the tossup as written was better or worse than that idea; at least, with that answer line, it would have been easier to figure out exactly what the question wanted. In the end, I'm not sure it was a good tossup (mainly for the reason that I think it was hard to figure out what the answer line was), but I did my best to write on something that seemed important and to write the answer line leniently to try to ensure that people with knowledge were rewarded.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:54 pm

Since people seem to be in complaint mode, I'm going to complain that two of the economics questions in this set were essentially consciously written as jokes ("A Theory of Intersteller Trade" and Cheyne's bonus), one with the express purpose of annoying me. I suppose that's supposed to inoculate the question against my critique, but come on. This would not be remotely tolerated in any other distribution and kind of makes a hash of the usual complaining about questions that are intended to be bad.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:59 pm

I did not write the bonus as a joke, I wrote the lead-in as a joke (the parts were "dismal science"/something easy/Robinson Crusoe economy). It's probably not a very good economics bonus, but I wasn't writing it as an economics bonus per se, but a social science/thought bonus. If the bonus was bad for some reason, I'll accept the criticism of it, but it wasn't written as a joke, it wasn't written to wind you up (aside from the lead-in), and it wasn't intentionally written to be bad or even necessarily be part of the economics distro.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:23 pm

Yeah, having to say that economics has been called the "dismal" science and that a particular case of a one-person economy with production is known as "Robinson Crusoe" is pretty much high-school level economics. "Stone Age Economics" probably wouldn't be asked about in high school, but it's also an objectively terrible book with a bizarre premise that the conspiracy of the neolithic has been self-interestedly obscuring all the evidence that people in the paleolithic were actually better off, in order to sustain our ideological tyranny. And then there's "A Theory of Intersteller Trade," which Krugman actually delivered in the humor session of this year's AEA meeting. So yeah, I'd say these questions treat economics as a joke, in the very same tournament that features 1/1 made up bedtime stories per round.

EDIT: Also, neither finance nor accounting is the same as economics, and neither is a social science. You shouldn't get economics points in quizbowl for knowing about stock options.
Last edited by Tees-Exe Line on Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:30 pm

The problem with the bonus then is that it was too easy, apparently (I didn't write the Stone Age Economics part if I remember right). I'll accept that flaw, I just wanted to point out that I did not intentionally write a bad or joke bonus.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by mhayes » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:44 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote: And then there's "A Theory of Intersteller Trade," which Krugman actually delivered in the humor session of this year's AEA meeting. So yeah, I'd say these questions treat economics as a joke
For what it's worth, that tossup was written by an economics major.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:04 pm

fourplustwo wrote:Just curious if you (Eric) have learned about Puppe's Rule in your studies (it seems obscure), because I am quite sure I would have negged this question at "vomer" with "nose" -_- [and yes, I agree with the Battle's sign comment :)]
Yeah, I made this exact neg.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:20 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:"Stone Age Economics" probably wouldn't be asked about in high school, but it's also an objectively terrible book with a bizarre premise that the conspiracy of the neolithic has been self-interestedly obscuring all the evidence that people in the paleolithic were actually better off, in order to sustain our ideological tyranny.
I haven't heard or read this particular question, so I can't pass judgment on the question. But I wonder what criterion for "social science" makes "Stone Age Economics" not askable in that category. Putting aside your personal views of the book, it was a significant book by one of the most famous anthropologists ever and it deals with topics that are clearly social science.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:50 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:Yeah, having to say that economics has been called the "dismal" science and that a particular case of a one-person economy with production is known as "Robinson Crusoe" is pretty much high-school level economics. "Stone Age Economics" probably wouldn't be asked about in high school, but it's also an objectively terrible book with a bizarre premise that the conspiracy of the neolithic has been self-interestedly obscuring all the evidence that people in the paleolithic were actually better off, in order to sustain our ideological tyranny. And then there's "A Theory of Intersteller Trade," which Krugman actually delivered in the humor session of this year's AEA meeting. So yeah, I'd say these questions treat economics as a joke, in the very same tournament that features 1/1 made up bedtime stories per round.

EDIT: Also, neither finance nor accounting is the same as economics, and neither is a social science. You shouldn't get economics points in quizbowl for knowing about stock options.
I thought that with the exception of the stupid "A Theory of Interstellar Trade" tossup the economics questions were good, even if they focused more on economists rather than economics.

While it's true that finance isn't the same thing as economics, financial markets are studied by economists, and so I think a question on finance could legitimately qualify as social science. The crucial thing is to ask about things in finance that are of importance to the economic analysis of financial markets. The analogy I'd draw would be between asking about finance as economics and asking about auctions as economics. You shouldn't ask about Sotheby's, but asking about optimal bidding strategies or even auction styles would be fine. To someone well-versed in financial economics, the options bonus would be a pretty easy 30, and all of the things in it (with maybe the exception of "covered call") would be in a textbook on financial economics. Without a doubt, if each part of the bonus included a clue something along the lines of "so-and-so modeled these by doing such-and-such" the question would qualify as social science, but I don't really see what kind of substantial difference is created by not having such clues if most people are just going to get the question based on a description of the instrument or strategy anyway.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Gautam » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:38 am

I submitted the options bonus as "finance" question under the 1/1 whatever category - didn't consider it an Econ bonus. It thought of writing it more from an Econ perspective (risk/risk-aversion, or interest rates) but settled for what you saw in the packet

While we're talking about econ:
* I hate most questions on economists since they delve too much into the individual works and use quotes which are not memorable. In that light, I disliked the TU on Akerlof. But liked the TU on Hyman Minsky; it contained healthy doses of descriptions of his major contributions without quoting random stuff.

* The Acemoglu bonus/Pareto/Zipf bonus was awesome.

* The bonus part on endogeneity could have been a little clearer:
[10] If a variable in a model correlates with the error term, then it is said to have this property. It can be caused by omitted variables and measurement errors, among other things.
ANSWER: endogeneity [accept word forms]
***It is not quite clear what the "it" is referring to in the second half - the variable or the model?
***I was somewhat confused with what the question wanted - when the question said "omitted variable" and the nebulous "measurement error" I figured it was going for "bias." Probably could have used a clue on how you can overcome endogeneity and stuck it in the bonus leadin.

* Not a big fan of the "Hamada equation" bonus part in the life cycle hypothesis question. Spent a lot of time building up to the clues and kind of failed to describe what it is used for.

* Not a big fan of the second part of the foreign aid bonus - I guess we're picking a random economist for this part, I'd have preferred a part on Bill Easterly or Jeffrey Sachs (or even some of the famous books written by them - they're fairly widely read)

* The Myrdal/Hayek bonus had an interesting third part.

* Edit: yeah that theory of interstellar trade thing was pretty bad. Okay as a clue, maybe a bonus part; not otherwise.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by saintanthony » Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:34 am

Quizbowlers forgive me for I have sinned. I wrote the Interstellar Trade tossup. My original tossup idea was for just a general Krugman tossup using clues from some of his lesser known works but I thought that tossup sounded way too transparent for any player that could suss out trade, a reference to America and the last forty years. And I agree with Gautam: I'm not a fan of quote and title tossups for economists. Thinking back to my economic history class from freshman year I could only recall the titles of three, perhaps four papers that don't involve serfdom, lemons or Coase and thought that with its memorable subject matter and frequent mentions by Krugman critics, apologists and detractors, Trade was fair game.

I promise in advance to never write a tossup on the Larry Summers third-world toxic waste memo.

In fact, I will take responsibility for all of the problem tossups in my group's packet. If you hated something about the final packet it was probably my fault.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Pilgrim » Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:56 am

mhayes wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Big O - this was not good. I wanted to neg with runtime the whole time, and I'm sure other people did too. Rob and Trevor certainly have more experience with this, but I've had to use the Master theorem once or twice and it was kind of frustrating to not be able to figure out what it wanted.
This tossup gave the impression that it wanted something calculable, but Big-O is simply a notation. In that sense, it was very unclear what the question was looking for.
I buzzed on the first clue with "algorithm runtime" and was negged. From what I understand, Ike did the same thing, was prompted, and managed to read the question writer's mind and answer correctly. In addition to what Matt says about why this tossup was a bad idea, note that the first clue in the tossup that actually directly points to Big O notation is "upper bound" after FTP. Every clue previous to that is also true of Big Theta, which it hilariously instructs not to accept (and is really more correct, since Akra-Bazzi and the Master Theorem give tight bounds).
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:38 am

Long-tailed Sabrewing wrote:I submitted the options bonus as "finance" question under the 1/1 whatever category - didn't consider it an Econ bonus. It thought of writing it more from an Econ perspective (risk/risk-aversion, or interest rates) but settled for what you saw in the packet

While we're talking about econ:
* I hate most questions on economists since they delve too much into the individual works and use quotes which are not memorable. In that light, I disliked the TU on Akerlof. But liked the TU on Hyman Minsky; it contained healthy doses of descriptions of his major contributions without quoting random stuff.

* The Acemoglu bonus/Pareto/Zipf bonus was awesome.

* The bonus part on endogeneity could have been a little clearer:
[10] If a variable in a model correlates with the error term, then it is said to have this property. It can be caused by omitted variables and measurement errors, among other things.
ANSWER: endogeneity [accept word forms]
***It is not quite clear what the "it" is referring to in the second half - the variable or the model?
***I was somewhat confused with what the question wanted - when the question said "omitted variable" and the nebulous "measurement error" I figured it was going for "bias." Probably could have used a clue on how you can overcome endogeneity and stuck it in the bonus leadin.

* Not a big fan of the "Hamada equation" bonus part in the life cycle hypothesis question. Spent a lot of time building up to the clues and kind of failed to describe what it is used for.

* Not a big fan of the second part of the foreign aid bonus - I guess we're picking a random economist for this part, I'd have preferred a part on Bill Easterly or Jeffrey Sachs (or even some of the famous books written by them - they're fairly widely read)

* The Myrdal/Hayek bonus had an interesting third part.

* Edit: yeah that theory of interstellar trade thing was pretty bad. Okay as a clue, maybe a bonus part; not otherwise.
I pretty much endorse all of this, except submitting finance (and accounting) questions since I bet they take up economics slots and are, in essence, a cop-out. I suppose if you're going to write about "finance economics," that is a widely-studied subfield that I personally find boring and, in the immortal words of that human toxic waste dump Larry Summers, we might as well ask about "ketchup economics." And if Marshall Sahlins' idiotic book is the best that anthropology can do, that's a sad commentary. I too once picked up that thing because I thought "the economics of the Stone Age. What could be more interesting?" and instead was treated to his hallucinated conspiracy theories. I personally don't believe that anthropology is a crock of shit, so I suggest people learn more about it (including me), instead of sticking to that crap.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:01 am

I'd say that concepts from finance (how options work, methods of valuation, etc.) as well as concepts from how corporations work (M&A stuff, etc.) are among the most important things from real life that do not currently come up all that much.

I'm willing to accept the viewpoint that this isn't technically social science, but a lot of things that technically aren't social science are currently in the SS distribution because of a lack of better place to put them (most notably, law). Perhaps in the future, these things can be incorporated into a substantive 1/1 "Other Academic/Your Choice" distribution, along the lines of my thread about Your Choice a few years ago, but right now SS is the junk taxon of quizbowl.
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Muriel Axon
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:03 am

And if Marshall Sahlins' idiotic book is the best that anthropology can do, that's a sad commentary. I too once picked up that thing because I thought "the economics of the Stone Age. What could be more interesting?" and instead was treated to his hallucinated conspiracy theories. I personally don't believe that anthropology is a crock of shit, so I suggest people learn more about it (including me), instead of sticking to that crap.
Hey man, I agree, but every field has its confoundingly popular crazies. If it makes you feel better, I've heard his name exactly once in all of my anthropology classes put together.
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