Question-specific discussion

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Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:37 am

Discuss questions specifics here.
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Re: Question-specific discission

Post by JamesIV » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:34 pm

Some thoughts:

I do not claim to be an expert in the eschatology of Islam, but the Mahdi bonus should have had "Twelfth Imam" as an acceptable answer. As I understood it, the Twelfth Imam is the Mahdi, at least according to Shi'a Islam, which was the branch specifically mentioned by the question.

The tossup on aubades seemed poorly-constructed: Kevin buzzed in with "songs in Shakespeare plays" after the first line, which, though we were negged, was technically correct. He did so because, to his mind, no tossup on poems that are literally "dawn songs" would begin with a quote about "arise." *Also worth noting, having read the tossup through now, Cloten serenades Imogen, not Cymbeline.

The bonus part in which Bruce is transported back to Renaissance Germany was self-contradictory. He was supposed to be working for the Habsburgs, but living in Prussia and reading "Habsburg gossip" from Berlin? The Habsburgs ruled from Vienna, the Hohenzollerns from Berlin, the former being Holy Roman Emperors and the later Kings of Prussia.
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Re: Question-specific discission

Post by Auroni » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:47 pm

JamesIV wrote: The tossup on aubades seemed poorly-constructed: Kevin buzzed in with "songs in Shakespeare plays" after the first line, which, though we were negged, was technically correct. He did so because, to his mind, no tossup on poems that are literally "dawn songs" would begin with a quote about "arise." *Also worth noting, having read the tossup through now, Cloten serenades Imogen, not Cymbeline.
The clue in question reads "One nine-line poem of this sort exhorts “My lady sweet, arise: Arise, arise” and begins “Hark, Hark! The lark at heaven’s gate sings.” Cloten speaks that poem of this kind after summoning several musicians to play underneath Cymbeline’s window."

I'll stand by my decision not to prompt on song when the question wants "one... poem of this sort," since a song is not a poetic format. Lots of songs use poetic formats, of course. I do apologize for the misleading wording suggesting that Cloten is serenading Cymbeline, when the reality is closer to "play underneath Imogen's window in Cymbeline's house." Sorry about that.

By the way, if anyone has any other comments about the lit, the music, or the mythology, then I'd love to hear them.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by csheep » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:51 pm

Can I see the question on Herbert von Karajan?
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Auroni » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:25 pm

11. The critic Norman Lebrecht alleged that after a mediocre recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, this person dismissed
the idea of a second take, saying “we have to pose for the cover photographs.” Walter Legge initiated the second phase of
this conductor’s career by naming this person the principal conductor of his newly created Philharmonia. This person’s
career began at Ulm by conducting The Marriage of Figaro. This person was fond of conducting scorelessly with eyes
closed, and was awarded a post for life after the death of bitter rival (*) Wilhelm Furtwangler. This person conducted
recordings of four cycles of the Beethoven symphonies and a version of Also Sprach Zarathustra that was used in 2001: A Space
Odyssey. Although this person was the best-selling conductor of his lifetime, he was tainted by his membership in the Nazi Party.
For 10 points, name this Austrian conductor, the longtime director of the Berlin Philharmonic.
ANSWER: Herbert von Karajan
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:46 pm

PACKET 1:

-Echolocation starts with a wall of unbuzzable clues (I'm not sure the neuroscience of echolocation is something studied at any level of a biology curriculum), and then drops something about chiropterans. Matt Weiner and I raced on that clue.
-Magin buzzed with "the epilogue from Death of a Salesman"; I'm pretty sure if I were reading, I'd have accepted it. This was a long trend during the day, of not providing enough alternate answerlines for some of your more creative ideas. Esp with a more inexperienced moderating staff, its very important that these things are provided.
-Thiols was very well written, every clue is important.
-A biography tossup on Muybridge? Is that more passable than a tossup on Muybridge based on works?
-I'll reserve judgement for whether a tossup on the Berry phase is a good idea (I think its borderline, but I'd certainly do it), but this tossup illustrates a somewhat recurrent problem in this set; this tossup was a hailstorm of eponyms that didn't really reward any kind of real knowledge of the subject until later. I'm reading through the section of Griffiths right now about the Berry phase, and there's some really interesting, rewarding stuff in here (Foucault's pendulum and so on), but instead of hearing about it everything in the tossup before the powermark would probably be unfamiliar to someone who took a QM course (the clue right after power was recognizable).
-Other people can comment on this more, but isn't the Meditation from Thais the only real excerpt from an opera that's ever played as an orchestral piece? More than one person in the room figured that out.
-The tossup on "dictatorships" was very disappointing. The leadin, about Giorgio Agamben's "State of Exception", is completely useless even if you've read snippets of Giorgio Agamben (which Ted and I had, him more than me). He has works titled after Auschwitz, the state of exception, his whole concept of Homo Sacer, etc, etc, but the only way I could figure out what you wanted is if I knew that Carl Schmidt's Dictatorship was the basis of some of his ideas - and even if I remembered that fact, it would be next to impossible to figure that out from that clue.
-Lysozyme was fine.
-The bonus part on Wanderers was incredibly obfuscated; I'm not sure how I'd write it, but it seemed unnecessarily vague in an attempt to make it difficult.
-COSY! hell yeah.
-The econ bonus again illustrates something about this tournament - the econ in this tournament was even more eponym bowl. Saajid has taken several more econ classes than I have and think I beat him to most of the econ in this tournament; unless Marshall or Gautam contradicts me, I'm inclined to think that Frank Ramsey's not entirely appropriate as a bonus part here.
-Heteroduplexes is a fine answer; when people talk about them they usually just say "duplex" in my experience, but that's not a huge deal.

PACKET 2:
-Polyprotic acids - this is very strangely written. There's been this wonderful glut of tossups on that answerline repeatedly. For instructional purposes, let's compare them:
Presumably Susan in ACF Nationals Editors Packet 2010 wrote: Guven and colleagues pioneered the attachment of these molecules to copolymeric hydrogels to control swelling rate. The surface chemistry of activated carbon was formerly modeled as this type of chemical, though newer methods use a simpler two-parameter approach. In aqueous suspensions, metal particles behave like this type of chemical. Though tyrosine and glutamate are not this type of compound, thirteen of the most common amino acids are. K-sub-a-2 is typically the lowest dissociation constant for this type of acid, examples of which include carbonic acid and sulfuric acid, and titrations for these acids typically show two equivalence points. For 10 points, name this type of acid that can generate two moles of hydronium ion per mole of acid dissociated.
ANSWER: diprotic acids
Illinois packet in Minnesota Open 2010 wrote: 17. Mathias Ullmann, not of condensation fame, developed the decoupled sites representation to calculate characteristic constants for sites on these chemicals when they are considered as non-interacting quasisites. Borkovec and Koper used the Ising model to develop a parameterization to calculate certain microscopic constants associated with these chemicals; those microscopic constants describe the individual equilibria of all species in these chemicals. The difference between the macroscopic forms of those constants for these chemicals must be large for calculating those constants via the (*) Henderson-Hasselbalch equation. These chemicals have several equivalence points on a titration curve since they are able to donate multiple hydrogens in solution. For 10 points, identify these substances exemplified by phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid.
ANSWER: polyprotic acids [prompt on acids; accept polybasic acids]
this tournament wrote: One of these compounds has been used by Li et al. as an catholyte with Li2SO4 in dual electrolyte Li-air cells with high
stability. These compounds are only weakly modeled by the Stewart formulation in clinical physiology. The composition of
these compounds at equilibrium is predicted by the Bjerrum plot. An enzyme that contains a zinc atom at its active site
converts carbon (*) dioxide into one of these compounds, and that compound modulates the binding of oxygen in the
bloodstream in the Bohr effect. The applicability of the Henderson-Hasselbach equation to these compounds is dependent on the
difference between their consecutive pKa values. Titration curves for these curves have multiple equivalence points. For 10
points, name these compounds, like H2SO4, in which each molecule gives up multiple hydronium ions when dissociated.
ANSWER: polyprotic acids [or polybasic compounds, or diprotic acids; prompt on acids]
The first one is the best written of the lot; the fact that amino acids have multiple humps on the titration curve is worth knowing, and the clue after that is knowable. The second one's fine, you can figure out what's going on with multiple equilibria and so on, and the clue about multiple equivalence points is something you should know.

The third one doesn't really measure up. The leadin is a throwaway clue about a paper and the next two clues are eponyms with very little context or notability (although we're all ready for that tossup on Bjerrum now). After that, you start talking about carbonic anhydrase and the blood's buffering system; I know that carbonic anhydrase produces, but unlike the other tossups on this answerline there's absolutely no way for me to divine what you want. I could have buzzed with "buffer" and have been correct, for instance, but instead Saajid and I just stared at each other not knowing what the hell was going on. It's really important to make sure that your clues unambiguously refer to the answer, and that the answer is organic to someone who has knowledge of the subject.

-The tossup on Zanzibar lead in with "One merchant from this place acquired his nickname either from the sound his guns made or from his nervous twitch." As UMD A has repeatedly taught me, this clue refers to Tippu Tip, some douchebag who took over part of the Congo Free State in the late 1800s. So I buzzed in and said something Congo-related, and depending on your interpretation of the word "from" that's a perfectly reasonable answer. It may be worth saying "born here" or "its not the Congo, but..."
-Montmartre was very figure-out-able.
-The Blake art bonus was really hard.

PACKET 3:
-What's the middle part in this bonus on Philo of Alexandria?
-Crystal Field Splitting Energy should be acceptable for Crystal Field Stabilization Energy
-The tossup on the achievement gap was a good idea, but there was a huge game of chicken during the whole tossup because multiple people recognized the court case about desegregation.
-The line about the Parc Guell should be rewritten to avoid negs for "parks"
-Sri Lankan Civil War was an awesome idea even though I screwed it up
-Bifurcation was really inspired; that was straight out of an ODE's class I took.
-This bonus on forest fires was a wonderful game of trying to read the mind of the question reader. By which I mean this was incredibly stupid.

More later.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:18 pm

-The tossup on "dictatorships" was very disappointing. The leadin, about Giorgio Agamben's "State of Exception", is completely useless even if you've read snippets of Giorgio Agamben (which Ted and I had, him more than me). He has works titled after Auschwitz, the state of exception, his whole concept of Homo Sacer, etc, etc, but the only way I could figure out what you wanted is if I knew that Carl Schmidt's Dictatorship was the basis of some of his ideas - and even if I remembered that fact, it would be next to impossible to figure that out from that clue.
Is your criticism really that the entire tossup was "very disappointing" because the lead-in didn't overlap with the admittedly cursory knowledge that two people have of Giorgio Agamben? Sorry, but just because you have read "snippets" of someone doesn't mean that every mention of them in quizbowl must coincide with something that you can buzz on personally. (By the way, the text of the Agamben piece I referenced is online and mentions Schmitt's "Dictatorship" dozens and dozens of times, which I think anyone who had read it would have known.)

I find these lists and lists of things that people like and didn't like from tournaments to be exhausting and mostly pointless. Sure, tell us how to write better tossups on polyprotic acids; that's helpful. Tell us if you think something was a good idea, because that's good to know. But saying "Ask about Giorgio Agamben in a way that I like!" or "I don't think that Frank Ramsey is important!" or "you didn't tell me the Wanderers were in Russia, so I didn't get that part!" is not helpful to anyone. I'm sorry if you didn't know that Agamben's "State of Exception" was influenced by Schmitt's "Dictatorship," or if you don't like Frank Ramsey, or if you didn't know that the Wanderers set up the travelling art exhibitions and were followed by the World of Art movement. Those questions were written to test that knowledge, and unless there's some good reason that questions shouldn't be written to test that knowledge, I don't see any point in complaining about it.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:26 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:PACKET 1:

-Echolocation starts with a wall of unbuzzable clues (I'm not sure the neuroscience of echolocation is something studied at any level of a biology curriculum), and then drops something about chiropterans. Matt Weiner and I raced on that clue.
The neurobio class I took as an undergrad discussed how it is believed bat brains do the processing necessary for echolocation. This tossup also mentions melon organs which I have encountered in "the real world" and also come up in quizbowl from time to time.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:32 pm

The Toad to Wigan Pier wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:PACKET 1:

-Echolocation starts with a wall of unbuzzable clues (I'm not sure the neuroscience of echolocation is something studied at any level of a biology curriculum), and then drops something about chiropterans. Matt Weiner and I raced on that clue.
The neurobio class I took as an undergrad discussed how it is believed bat brains do the processing necessary for echolocation. This tossup also mentions melon organs which I have encountered in "the real world" and also come up in quizbowl from time to time.
Damn, guess I was shafted by the neurobiology class I took.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:00 pm

theMoMA wrote:Is your criticism really that the entire tossup was "very disappointing" because the lead-in didn't overlap with the admittedly cursory knowledge that two people have of Giorgio Agamben? Sorry, but just because you have read "snippets" of someone doesn't mean that every mention of them in quizbowl must coincide with something that you can buzz on personally. (By the way, the text of the Agamben piece I referenced is online and mentions Schmitt's "Dictatorship" dozens and dozens of times, which I think anyone who had read it would have known.)
I guess I should stop being modest. I've read State of Exception and parts of Homo Sacer, and in no instance did I immediately walk away with the ironclad idea that "State of Exception" = "dictatorship". Agamben spends way more time in that book talking about how governments have perpetually been using things like martial law and suspension of rights to exercise biopower, and spends forever talking about how the War on Terror is just another state of exception and Camp X-ray sucks and the Holocaust is awful and blah blah blah. He also cites way more people than just Carl Schmidt. In order to get this question from that clue, I would not only have to remember the year in which Carl Schmidt published "Dictatorship" (which is not even the only Carl Schmidt work he cites!), I would have to figure out exactly which word you wanted out of the several he uses to characterize the State of Exception. I don't think this is particularly fair nor does it demonstrate good question writing; instead, I have the idea you thought of the word "dictatorship" as an answerline first and then tried to find clues that fit it.
theMoMA wrote:"Ask about Giorgio Agamben in a way that I like!"
More like a way that makes sense.
theMoMA wrote:"I don't think that Frank Ramsey is important!"
Then tell me why he is! The econ you wrote for this tournament in no way demonstrates to me that you're writing about things that test real knowledge of economics (a fill-in-the-eponym tossup on Debru? Really?). I even said that if Marshall or Gautam want to contradict me and say that Frank Ramsey is the greatest thing to happen to economics since the invention of paper money, I'm willing to listen. I'm simply giving you my impressions of the set, both from my personal feelings and what my teammates and people around me have said.
theMoMA wrote:you didn't tell me the Wanderers were in Russia, so I didn't get that part!" is not helpful to anyone.
That's not what I said, and I never said that you have to mention the word "Russia" in a bonus part about the Wanderers. I said that I thought that the bonus part was unnecessarily vague; I've even seen that Nikolai Ge version of the last supper that you use in the leadin, but I didn't think your description of it was very helpful. If you want to defend your use of those particular clues in that question, fine, you can do that. If for some reason the "World of Art" movement is simultaneously important enough and well-known enough to be clue enough for a bonus part on the Wanderers, I'm willing to listen. I just want the discussion to happen.
theMoMA wrote:I'm sorry if you didn't know that Agamben's "State of Exception" was influenced by Schmitt's "Dictatorship," or if you don't like Frank Ramsey, or if you didn't know that the Wanderers set up the travelling art exhibitions and were followed by the World of Art movement. Those questions were written to test that knowledge, and unless there's some good reason that questions shouldn't be written to test that knowledge, I don't see any point in complaining about it.
So did you expect to come into this thread to receive endless praise for all of your questions? I think you'll be disappointed.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:27 pm

Just wanted to chime in and say I'm glad I wasn't the only one confused by the Agamben leadin.

Also, I appreciated the bonus on fecal transplants.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Auroni » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:39 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:PACKET 1:

-Magin buzzed with "the epilogue from Death of a Salesman"; I'm pretty sure if I were reading, I'd have accepted it. This was a long trend during the day, of not providing enough alternate answerlines for some of your more creative ideas. Esp with a more inexperienced moderating staff, its very important that these things are provided.
This one is my fault. Initially, the pronoun used for most of the tossup was "this event," and as such, I hadn't thought that this could be a potential answer. However, upon putting on the final touches, Andrew changed it to "this scene." Had I known about that (or had I been informed of any protests regarding that), I'd definitely have taken it.

2. One character imagines that this scene will bring the arrival of “oldtimers with strange license plates—from Maine,
Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire!” One attendee in this scene angrily states that “I’m not licked that easily. I’m
staying right in this city, and I’m gonna beat this racket!” In this scene, which ends with the sound of a barely audible
flute that also opens the play it is a part of, a woman stifles her coming tears and reveals that she “made the last payment
on the (*) house today...And there’ll be nobody home.” A speech that imagines the central character of this scene “riding on a
smile and a Shoeshine” repeats “nobody dast blame this man.” The transition to this scene involves a single cello string pulsing,
muting the crash of a speeding car. It occurs in a section titled “Requiem” as the last scene in its play. For 10 points, name this
scene that centers on an event attended by Linda, Happy, and Biff, who remember and mourn a suicidal salesman.
ANSWER: Willy’s funeral [or Loman’s funeral or the funeral in Death of a Salesman; accept “Requiem” before mentioned;
prompt on funeral or equivalents throughout]
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:46 pm

Here's all the econ: Frank Ramsey bonus, firms, things that James Tobin did bonus, utility, saving (submitted), Debreu (submitted), income effect/Engel curve/compensated bonus (submitted)

I don't see any kind of discernible "eponym bowl" trend going on here, unless you define that term differently than I do.

The problem with your massive lists of things is that you give no substance to the vast majority of your criticisms. All any writer can do is come up with answers and clues that are hopefully interesting and useful. If what I thought were good answers and clues weren't interesting and useful to you, I'm genuinely sorry about that, because the main reason I write tournaments is to produce questions that are fun to play. That said, there's a big difference between "things I didn't like" and "things that were legitimately problematic." If you can go through and point out actual problems, preferably with some kind of didactic point that can help writers going forward, that's great. That's what discussion should be. On the other hand, I don't see much point to a list of things that slightly miffed you with very little substance to the criticism. Can I really take away anything else from that than "something that I thought was interesting and important you did not"? It's not that I don't want criticism, it's just that I find the kind of criticism you're offering to have little value beyond telling us whether you liked or didn't like a particular question.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:51 pm

On the narrow question of whether Frank Ramsey is askable, I'm going to come down on the side of "yes." Ramsey taxation is probably the leading non-Keynesian story of fiscal policy you'll find in the literature, and despite not thinking it's that great a story, I lectured on it last Wednesday because it does have some insight about fiscal policy over the business cycle. It's also correct, though lesser known, that Ramsey originated the Neoclassical Growth Model (known in some places as Ramsey-Cass-Koopmans). I don't really know whether the bonus in question asked about him in the optimal way, however.

More to write later.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:54 pm

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:PACKET 1:

-Magin buzzed with "the epilogue from Death of a Salesman"; I'm pretty sure if I were reading, I'd have accepted it. This was a long trend during the day, of not providing enough alternate answerlines for some of your more creative ideas. Esp with a more inexperienced moderating staff, its very important that these things are provided.
This one is my fault. Initially, the pronoun used for most of the tossup was "this event," and as such, I hadn't thought that this could be a potential answer. However, upon putting on the final touches, Andrew changed it to "this scene." Had I known about that (or had I been informed of any protests regarding that), I'd definitely have taken it.

2. One character imagines that this scene will bring the arrival of “oldtimers with strange license plates—from Maine,
Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire!” One attendee in this scene angrily states that “I’m not licked that easily. I’m
staying right in this city, and I’m gonna beat this racket!” In this scene, which ends with the sound of a barely audible
flute that also opens the play it is a part of, a woman stifles her coming tears and reveals that she “made the last payment
on the (*) house today...And there’ll be nobody home.” A speech that imagines the central character of this scene “riding on a
smile and a Shoeshine” repeats “nobody dast blame this man.” The transition to this scene involves a single cello string pulsing,
muting the crash of a speeding car. It occurs in a section titled “Requiem” as the last scene in its play. For 10 points, name this
scene that centers on an event attended by Linda, Happy, and Biff, who remember and mourn a suicidal salesman.
ANSWER: Willy’s funeral [or Loman’s funeral or the funeral in Death of a Salesman; accept “Requiem” before mentioned;
prompt on funeral or equivalents throughout]
Yeah, as Auroni indicates, I'm partly to blame here too. I thought it was clearer to refer to the funeral as an "event" throughout, but didn't realize that the scene was also the epilogue of the play, so that should have been in there.

I generally tried really hard to add as many alternate answer lines and prompts as I thought possible (and to be as lenient with them as possible), but I was still unsatisfied when reading through the set at very foreseeable answers that we managed to leave off. It just goes to show that putting yourself in the shoes of the players and trying to anticipate as many answers as possible (and then writing into the answer line what to do in the case those answers are given) is extremely important.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Auroni » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:13 pm

By the way, before I forget, I would like to profusely thank the esteemed John Lawrence for looking through every classical music tossup in the set and pointing out inaccurate or bad clues. I think that the music would be awful without his help and I hope that the number of usual complaints about misleading or wrong clues is way less this time around because I sought his help.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by csheep » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:36 pm

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:11. The critic Norman Lebrecht alleged that after a mediocre recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, this person dismissed
the idea of a second take, saying “we have to pose for the cover photographs.” Walter Legge initiated the second phase of
this conductor’s career by naming this person the principal conductor of his newly created Philharmonia. This person’s
career began at Ulm by conducting The Marriage of Figaro. This person was fond of conducting scorelessly with eyes
closed, and was awarded a post for life after the death of bitter rival (*) Wilhelm Furtwangler. This person conducted
recordings of four cycles of the Beethoven symphonies and a version of Also Sprach Zarathustra that was used in 2001: A Space
Odyssey. Although this person was the best-selling conductor of his lifetime, he was tainted by his membership in the Nazi Party.
For 10 points, name this Austrian conductor, the longtime director of the Berlin Philharmonic.
ANSWER: Herbert von Karajan
I admit I'm not a long-time quiz bowl player or anything, and I might have a very skewed idea of what people know/don't know, but am I wrong in thinking that a lot of people either buzzed during the first line or waited to the last 1-2, with very little in-between? I feel like there are people who either 1. Don't know who Karajan is, 2. Can get it on the last couple of lines, and 3. People who know a little bit of Karajan, enough to first-line this clue.

Edit: I guess a less convoluted way of saying that is I think the first clue was too easy/subsequent clues too hard/vague/generic (scoreless with eyes closed? first conducted Marriage of Figaro? I refuse to believe those two clues helped anyone).

Another complaint I have is what I perceived to a whole bunch of useless clues for Romeo and Juliet Overture; I really don't think any of the descriptions of what notes were played were helpful at all. "Slow dirge" was way too generic, and the only thing substantive was "street fight." Then it became super transparent after the description of music was replaced by information about the background/story of piece. Can I see the question? Maybe I'm just crazy/maybe there are people who do find these types of clues helpful.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Notably Not Pierre » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:52 pm

I think this tournament featured a number of questions which, put politely, demonstrated that the editors had no sympathy for the people playing the questions. Sloppy grammar and confusing wording often made it impossible to tell what was going on in questions. Instead of digging up a laundry list of questions that were confusing, I picked just one example that seemed egregious enough to discuss in detail. I'm sorry that this post is long, but I think it's worth explaining how the tossup played out rather than just saying "the tossup on ____ sucked."

If you have a few minutes, please play along: Just read these two lines to yourself out loud at the pace you would read if you were moderating for a high level quizbowl match.
One participant in this affair ran into a servant of Aurelia while waiting for Abra. One participant later targeted a person who had accused him of wrongdoing in this affair with a law that punished anyone who gave water or fire to a person who had executed Romans without a trial.
Now, without looking back, what is the relationship of the law described above to the affair that was mentioned?

Here's some quick background about the second clue:

The law described above is one of the Leges Clodiae passed in 58 BC. Publius Clodius Pulcher passed the law to force the exile of Cicero by holding him accountable for his handling of the Catilinarian Conspiracy during Cicero's 63 BC consulship. The feud between Clodius and Cicero also including many court cases, including two legal defenses given by Cicero, Pro Caelio (56 BC) and Pro Milone (52 BC). Cicero's defense Pro Caelio includes the accusation that the prosecutor Clodius' incestuous involvement with his own sister had caused him to be jealous of the defendant Caelius (who was also having an affair with Clodius' sister). In the latter case, Cicero defended Milo from the charge of murdering Clodius by suggesting that Clodius and his mob had attacked Milo first.

In light of the above summaries, is it clear which of these three events is the answer to the tossup?

It's not the "Cataline Affair" or the "Catilinarian Conspiracy," like I initially thought. The tossup says the following: "One participant later targeted a person who had accused him of wrongdoing in this affair with a law that ..." instead of "One participant was later targeted a by person who had accused him of wrongdoing in this affair with a law that ...".

It's also not the "Trial of Caelius" or the "Trial of Milo," because of the critical word "later." Those trials happened after the Leges Clodiae were passed, not before.

In fact, the correct answer to this tossup is "the Bona Dea Scandal" which is a 62 BC event in which Clodius crashed a secretive all-female rite at Caesar's house in order to try to seduce Caesar's wife (allegedly). Cicero prosecuted Clodius for this indiscretion, so this event exactly fulfills all the conditions set out in the tossup. Unfortunately the subject of the second clue, the Lex Clodia has nothing in particular to do with the answer to the tossup, the Bona Dea Scandal. It's certainly not more germane than any other episode in the decades-long feud between Cicero and Clodius.

Of course, even if this second clue had been actually ambiguous, rather than simply being ambiguous de facto, it wouldn't matter because of the first clue which tells us "One participant in this affair ran into a servant of Aurelia while waiting for Abra." Thanks to Aurelia and Abra, whoever they are, it doesn't really matter how poorly constructed the second clue is because the throwaway leadin is uniquely identifying.

Sometimes you work really hard at finding a way to make your wording of a clue perfectly uniquely identifying, and the clue seems totally clear when you reread it to yourself a few times. That doesn't mean real people who have already listened to hours of questions are going to be able to parse all those nuances in real-time, especially when the moderator skips or mangles a word.

Next time, have some sympathy for the people that actually have to play your questions. Choose clues that cause people to actually think of the answer instead of iterating through a bunch of things that almost fit.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by setht » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:44 am

I don't have anything to add to Matt's analysis of the clue content of the Bona Dea Scandal tossup, but I think that answer line probably should have a wider range of acceptable answers. I buzzed in and said something like "that thing where Clodius got in trouble for pretending to be a Vestal Virgin during a festival." I know that Things Have Names, but sometimes they kind of don't--for instance, if you read the relevant passage in Plutarch, he's certainly not going to talk about the Bona Dea Scandal by that name.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tossup on never-nudism.

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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:47 am

setht wrote:I don't have anything to add to Matt's analysis of the clue content of the Bona Dea Scandal tossup, but I think that answer line probably should have a wider range of acceptable answers. I buzzed in and said something like "that thing where Clodius got in trouble for pretending to be a Vestal Virgin during a festival." I know that Things Have Names, but sometimes they kind of don't--for instance, if you read the relevant passage in Plutarch, he's certainly not going to talk about the Bona Dea Scandal by that name.
Yes, that was a big oversight on my part, and I apologize for that and for the suboptimal wording of the second sentence.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:48 am

Regarding the never nudism tossup, I certainly like the "idea" of it but I I wasn't sure how I felt about the question. Arrested Development has a strong cult following, so it's hard to toss up aspects of it to distinguish knowledge while still being accessible, and it also seemed to lead off with one of the more notable episodic depictions of it. It's an entertaining idea for a question though.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:40 am

Could someone post the anthropology answer lines in this tournament? I had some concerns about the choice of answer lines. EDIT: Got it.
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Then tell me why he is! The econ you wrote for this tournament in no way demonstrates to me that you're writing about things that test real knowledge of economics (a fill-in-the-eponym tossup on Debru? Really?).
Sorry about the Debreu question. I wrote that one, and I have no real knowledge of economics or how to write economics questions. For what it's worth, it seems that the Chicago A team (including Marshall) seemed to enjoy that one.
(scoreless with eyes closed? first conducted Marriage of Figaro? I refuse to believe those two clues helped anyone).
I think Aaron said something to the effect that the "scoreless with eyes closed" thing isn't even unique. Overall, I think the music was significantly better than most tournaments I have played.
Other people can comment on this more, but isn't the Meditation from Thais the only real excerpt from an opera that's ever played as an orchestral piece? More than one person in the room figured that out.
I see what you're trying to say, but in the most technical sense it's not true. Besides overtures, intermezzi (like the Meditation) are frequently played as stand-alone orchestral pieces. The intermezzo to Cavalleria Rusticana is really popular, and I'm a huge fan of the intermezzo from Barber's Vanessa. Music from operatic ballets can also be played separately, and depending on how much you're willing to stretch the definition of "orchestral," you can also include arias that are sometimes played as stand-alone pieces. I can see why you'd be concerned that this question was fraudable, since that's pretty much what I did.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by gaurav.kandlikar » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:50 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: PACKET 1:
-Echolocation starts with a wall of unbuzzable clues (I'm not sure the neuroscience of echolocation is something studied at any level of a biology curriculum), and then drops something about chiropterans. Matt Weiner and I raced on that clue.

-The bonus part on Wanderers was incredibly obfuscated; I'm not sure how I'd write it, but it seemed unnecessarily vague in an attempt to make it difficult.

-Heteroduplexes is a fine answer; when people talk about them they usually just say "duplex" in my experience, but that's not a huge deal.

PACKET 2:
-Polyprotic acids - this is very strangely written. There's been this wonderful glut of tossups on that answerline repeatedly. For instructional purposes, let's compare them: [insert comparison]

PACKET 3:
-Bifurcation was really inspired; that was straight out of an ODE's class I took.
Thanks, Eric. I'll try to respond to these a little bit.
-I guess I can't really speak to the relevance of echolocation in neuro classes, but I've certainly read/heard a lot about everything in that question from an evolution perspective (I've covered it in classes, Dawkins spent pretty much an entire chapter on it in The Blind Watchmaker, etc). Based on Will's comment, it sounds like this stuff is discussed in neuro classes too, which is great.

-The Wanderers bonus was tweaked from what I had originally written it as (I had originally written it on Barge Haulers/Repin/Ge, which I now realize has rapidly become super boring). I wrote the description of Ge's Last Supper the way I did because that's just what I saw when I looked at it on the Internet ("oh cool, this one shows Judas walking away"). Sorry if this wasn't the impression people generally get.

-Sorry about the heteroduplexes and CFSE answerlines. As I've learned (and you very well know), my answer lines were not as thorough as they should have been on many occasions. Sorry to all that were frustrated by this. I'll learn from this and try to do a better job of it in any future tournament.

-Yeah, I'm not proud of that polyprotic acids question. For better or for worse, I don't really tend to keep track of question archives much, but if I had known that this answer line is also getting boring, I would have probably avoided it altogether. Regardless, I got this as a submission and tried to fix it up. Looks like I did a poor job of it.
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: It's really important to make sure that your clues unambiguously refer to the answer, and that the answer is organic to someone who has knowledge of the subject
I obviously tried always to meet the first criterion in all of my questions, but I'll admit to not having consistently and consciously thought too much about the second one (there were times when I did think about it, and things didn't play out as I had anticipated: I thought that the "microsatellites" question would fit that second criterion, but I guess it didn't...). I appreciate the importance of it and will think about more it in the future.

-Glad to hear that the tossup on bifurcations was all right. I wrote it after spending a lot of time thinking about bifurcations in mathematical ecology, so it's good to hear that real math people care about it too.

edit: While I'm at it, I'll also thank Andrew, Auroni and Cody for their work on this. Thanks especially to Cody for agreeing to write and edit several "other science" questions and for commenting on a few of my questions.

edit 2:
PISTOL SHOOTING FOR LADIES wrote:Also, I appreciated the bonus on fecal transplants.
Glad to hear it.
Last edited by gaurav.kandlikar on Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:55 am

The achievement gap tossup was a good idea that probably could have been a little more specific. The second clue (about the Swann [busing] plan making this less prevalent is pretty general, and could apply to a number of related concepts about segregation/integration. As a context clue, it's very good, as a concrete "I'm going to buzz with achievement gap" question, maybe not so much. Looking at it on paper, I now see that the first clue is a good one, referring to the push to close said gap, but in the heat of the tossup, it's hard to quite know what to say.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:14 am

anthro (5): Turner, Trobriand/Dobu/Fortune, Captain Cook, Anasazi, Primitive Culture
mixed/other (10): [...] garbology/Potlatch/Cozumel, [...] Piltdown Man [...]
I'll talk about anthropology here. I've include those mixed/other SS bonuses that I consider to be at least partially within the purview of anthropology. (By the way, wasn't there a question on Malinowski and The Sexual Life of Savages? Or maybe that was just a clue in a mixed academic question - I don't remember.)

Now, some of these ideas were fine. Piltdown Man is important, and I don't remember the question well, but it is a good answer line choice. Same with garbology/Potlatch/Cozumel.

On the other hand, I'm baffled by some of the questions marked as anthropology. I didn't hear the Captain Cook question (it seems like a sketchy idea, but I'll take a look later), and the Anasazi question was fine, if I remember correctly. On the other hand, I do think that the process of asking about ever more obscure dead anthropologists is getting kind of annoying now. I'm an anthropology major, I've read my share of ethnographies, and I've read anthropological theory, and I have never once read anything by Victor Turner, seen him cited, or even heard his name before.

Now I realize that "I've never heard of this guy and so he must not be important" is never the best argument, but I'm not sure how strong an argument I could make about someone I did not know existed before this weekend. I think Primitive Culture is more defensible, but again, I don't know of a single anthropologist who reads Tylor or really cares much what he thinks. The only people I know who know who Reo Fortune is are quiz bowlers who happen to know he was married to Margaret Mead or remember this year's CO team names. I have no idea why anyone would ever ask a question about him, and to me that part approached the level of quiz bowl meta.

I'm fine with asking about old anthropological theory in moderation, even though very few anthropologists actually read much of the stuff, if only because it tends to be more accessible and easy to write for many people who are not anthropology students, and it's part of the history of the field. My problem isn't with these kinds of questions individually, but as an aggregate. I would appreciate seeing a few questions that correspond more strongly to what anthropology students actually study, of which I think at least the first two parts of garbology/potlatch/Cozumel did better than most questions in this tournament.

The anthropology in this set was far from the worst thing in the world, but I do hope people take notice that asking primarily about long dead anthropologists whose work is rarely read is not a good way to reward knowledge of anthropology. If possible, I would advise a shift toward questions on concepts, in which early clues could feasibly mention the work of some important anthropologists who are still alive, or at least very influential, today.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:26 am

gaurav.kandlikar wrote:Stuff about the microsatellites tossup
I guess I should have commented on this first, but I thought that was a really good question that just needed a little better-conceived answerline.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:29 am

I learned (very briefly) about Victor Turner in my Intro to Anthro class, fwiw. I'm not sure I really get this critique about asking about "dead" anthropologists (it's a young discipline! some of the people you're talking about did their work in the latter half of the 20th century!). Granted, I've taken one class on the subject, but we covered a lot about the historical approaches and concepts in anthropology, including these "dead" people.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:57 am

SirT wrote:I'm not sure I really get this critique about asking about "dead" anthropologists (it's a young discipline! some of the people you're talking about did their work in the latter half of the 20th century!).
Referring less to Turner (who Wikipedia says died in 1983) than to Tylor and Fortune there. More what I meant was "people anthropologists rarely read."
Granted, I've taken one class on the subject, but we covered a lot about the historical approaches and concepts in anthropology, including these "dead" people.
Most introductory sociocultural anthropology classes will cover historical approaches, as they should. But I think that almost never extends pre-Boas/Malinowski, and mention of specific people is not often emphasized. (My own intro college class discussed Geertz, Marvin Harris, and Levi-Strauss in some depth and mentioned several others in passing, but that was it.)

In advanced classes, most people don't read any of these people any more unless it pertains specifically to the class. You probably won't read much of Geertz's actual research and writing unless you study the Islamic world or Java (or take a class on ethnographic methods); similarly, you probably won't read the Rosaldos unless you take an in-depth linguistic anthropology class. If you ask grad students in anthropology, there's a very strong chance that most of them will not have read a book by Ruth Benedict unless they study Japan or some of the other cultures/regions Benedict discusses. Even then, you're more likely to read books that cite Benedict than The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.

In any case, if you're asking an entire tossup on Primitive Cultures, it's unlikely that anyone will buzz on early clues from having heard of Tylor a few times in their intro anthropology class. The existence of these questions presumes that there are people who can buzz on early clues (presumably those who have read the book), of which there probably aren't many among anthropologists.

Like I said earlier, I don't have a problem with the fact that these questions exist. My problem is with how much of the proportion of anthropology questions these types of things tend to take up. And more importantly, just liked people critiqued the economics distribution for being "eponym bowl" (which I'm not sure is true), most of the anthropology questions here asked about people, books, or particular cultures, while what is really important is concepts. Given the variation between what different universities teach regarding specific cultures and anthropologists (as illustrated by you and me), this seems like a more fair way to do anthropology in quiz bowl. I would definitely not mind a question on "rites of passage" that mentions Turner's work on liminality, which the Internet tells me is something he did.

I admit that I haven't been the best at practicing what I preach (see the economics tossup on Debreu), but this something that I will keep in mind for the future, and I hope other do, too.
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Re: Question-specific discission

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:36 pm

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
JamesIV wrote: The tossup on aubades seemed poorly-constructed: Kevin buzzed in with "songs in Shakespeare plays" after the first line, which, though we were negged, was technically correct. He did so because, to his mind, no tossup on poems that are literally "dawn songs" would begin with a quote about "arise." *Also worth noting, having read the tossup through now, Cloten serenades Imogen, not Cymbeline.
The clue in question reads "One nine-line poem of this sort exhorts “My lady sweet, arise: Arise, arise” and begins “Hark, Hark! The lark at heaven’s gate sings.” Cloten speaks that poem of this kind after summoning several musicians to play underneath Cymbeline’s window."

I'll stand by my decision not to prompt on song when the question wants "one... poem of this sort," since a song is not a poetic format. Lots of songs use poetic formats, of course. I do apologize for the misleading wording suggesting that Cloten is serenading Cymbeline, when the reality is closer to "play underneath Imogen's window in Cymbeline's house." Sorry about that.

By the way, if anyone has any other comments about the lit, the music, or the mythology, then I'd love to hear them.
"Of this sort" in no way suggests that the tossup requires a form (I assume you mean "poetic form" and not "poetic format", since the latter is not a thing), and an aubade is no more or less a form than a song is. It is simply a song intended for a particular time of day (dawn) and entails no necessary formal constraints. It is indeed a terrible idea to start a tossup on aubades with a line that reads "My lady sweet, arise: Arise, arise". That is, in fact, the message of any traditional aubade. This is the equivalent of starting a tossup on love songs with something like "I adore you because you are beautiful" or a tossup on elegies with something like "I weep that you are dead".
csheep wrote:
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:11. The critic Norman Lebrecht alleged that after a mediocre recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, this person dismissed
the idea of a second take, saying “we have to pose for the cover photographs.” Walter Legge initiated the second phase of
this conductor’s career by naming this person the principal conductor of his newly created Philharmonia. This person’s
career began at Ulm by conducting The Marriage of Figaro. This person was fond of conducting scorelessly with eyes
closed, and was awarded a post for life after the death of bitter rival (*) Wilhelm Furtwangler. This person conducted
recordings of four cycles of the Beethoven symphonies and a version of Also Sprach Zarathustra that was used in 2001: A Space
Odyssey. Although this person was the best-selling conductor of his lifetime, he was tainted by his membership in the Nazi Party.
For 10 points, name this Austrian conductor, the longtime director of the Berlin Philharmonic.
ANSWER: Herbert von Karajan
I admit I'm not a long-time quiz bowl player or anything, and I might have a very skewed idea of what people know/don't know, but am I wrong in thinking that a lot of people either buzzed during the first line or waited to the last 1-2, with very little in-between? I feel like there are people who either 1. Don't know who Karajan is, 2. Can get it on the last couple of lines, and 3. People who know a little bit of Karajan, enough to first-line this clue.

Edit: I guess a less convoluted way of saying that is I think the first clue was too easy/subsequent clues too hard/vague/generic (scoreless with eyes closed? first conducted Marriage of Figaro? I refuse to believe those two clues helped anyone).

Another complaint I have is what I perceived to a whole bunch of useless clues for Romeo and Juliet Overture; I really don't think any of the descriptions of what notes were played were helpful at all. "Slow dirge" was way too generic, and the only thing substantive was "street fight." Then it became super transparent after the description of music was replaced by information about the background/story of piece. Can I see the question? Maybe I'm just crazy/maybe there are people who do find these types of clues helpful.
I was a huge Karajan buff when I was younger (according to my iTunes, I have 1272 tracks conducted by him in my library; I also passed a reading comprehension exam for placing out of German in spite of the fact that I cannot read German, because the excerpt we were given to translate was a biography of Karajan), so I was interested and pleased by the fact that Auroni chose to write a tossup on him, and offered plenty of suggestions for the rewriting of the original version. With the exception of the Marriage of Figaro clue being not very helpful, the rest of this tossup is certainly pyramidally organized and made up of good buzzable clues for anyone who knows about Karajan's career.
The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote: I think Aaron said something to the effect that the "scoreless with eyes closed" thing isn't even unique. Overall, I think the music was significantly better than most tournaments I have played.
The fact that Karajan conducted scorelessly with his eyes closed is often cited as one of his distinctive trademarks. (One that many people criticize as part of his dehumanizing and dictatorial approach, since it removes any human contact between conductor and musician.) If Aaron is aware of other conductors who were known for this, I'm happy to learn who they are.
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Re: Question-specific discission

Post by csheep » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:49 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
JamesIV wrote:
The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote: I think Aaron said something to the effect that the "scoreless with eyes closed" thing isn't even unique. Overall, I think the music was significantly better than most tournaments I have played.
The fact that Karajan conducted scorelessly with his eyes closed is often cited as one of his distinctive trademarks. (One that many people criticize as part of his dehumanizing and dictatorial approach, since it removes any human contact between conductor and musician.) If Aaron is aware of other conductors who were known for this, I'm happy to learn who they are.
I wouldn't go as far as to call it a "trademark." It's certainly something Karajan did often, but it's by no means unique to him. Many conductors will conduct scoreless, or with eyes closed, or both, with varying degrees of frequency. Yes, it's something Karajan can be said to be "known" for, but for the purposes of an unique identifier (which clues should strive to be, no?), it's not very helpful.

Bernstein would close his eyes for periods during a performance, and he often conducted without a score; I've seen quite a few conductors do it today - Rattle, Masur, Dudamel, etc. etc. I would even go as far to say that you can probably find a few performances by every conductor, if not scores, that fit this description. In fact, the only thing "scoreless with eyes closed" does is tell me it's -not- Mravinsky.

This is a very minor grievance, so it's by no means an attack on the quality of writing. I also enjoy questions about conductors/performers, which I think is something that should be encouraged and explored more in music writing.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by kdroge » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:26 am

I think that some of the answerlines at this tournament could have used a wider range of acceptable answers. I managed to come up with Willy Loman's Funeral after getting prompted on "the last scene of death of a salesman," but it seems like that should be acceptable. In the tossup on cooperatives, it seems really harsh to not at least prompt on credit unions or similar answers; I get that the lead-in doesn't apply, but that's what the description applies to in the middle parts of the tossup. Also, on the tossup on utility, what the first few clues are really talking about is expected utility, which, even if it's okay to assume that that's the same thing as utility, still means that answers like expected value should be acceptable or at least promptable.

For what it's worth, I don't think that the tossup on Debreu was terrible or anything, but I think that it could have used a way to point to which namesake of the Arrow-Debreu model you wanted, especially since so much of the tossup was about that. Even something like the second namesake or the alphabetically last namesake would have been super helpful (or just toss up the model itself, even).

It seemed like there were quite a few U.S. history tossup answerlines on relatively minor people that used a lot of biographical clues (Luce, Schurz, Slater, to name a few). Was there a reason to toss up these people rather than write a bonus part about them? I'm curious as to whether people actually have any level of knowledge about them other than the one or two things that they're known for.

These are pretty minor points, though, and overall, I liked this tournament, and I thought that it did a good job of asking about interesting / important things.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:36 am

kdroge wrote:For what it's worth, I don't think that the tossup on Debreu was terrible or anything, but I think that it could have used a way to point to which namesake of the Arrow-Debreu model you wanted, especially since so much of the tossup was about that. Even something like the second namesake or the alphabetically last namesake would have been super helpful (or just toss up the model itself, even).
With regard to the part of this question on the Arrow-Debreu model, it did mention "with an American, this man did X," which should be helpful if you know Debreu was not American (or if you could use the previous clue on Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu as a hint). This wasn't a perfect solution, but was admittedly better than the strategy I used in the submitted question of saying "with Kenneth Arrow, this man did X" - in retrospect, that would have been an obvious cliff.
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Re: Question-specific discission

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:54 am

csheep wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
JamesIV wrote:
The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote: I think Aaron said something to the effect that the "scoreless with eyes closed" thing isn't even unique. Overall, I think the music was significantly better than most tournaments I have played.
The fact that Karajan conducted scorelessly with his eyes closed is often cited as one of his distinctive trademarks. (One that many people criticize as part of his dehumanizing and dictatorial approach, since it removes any human contact between conductor and musician.) If Aaron is aware of other conductors who were known for this, I'm happy to learn who they are.
I wouldn't go as far as to call it a "trademark." It's certainly something Karajan did often, but it's by no means unique to him. Many conductors will conduct scoreless, or with eyes closed, or both, with varying degrees of frequency. Yes, it's something Karajan can be said to be "known" for, but for the purposes of an unique identifier (which clues should strive to be, no?), it's not very helpful.

Bernstein would close his eyes for periods during a performance, and he often conducted without a score; I've seen quite a few conductors do it today - Rattle, Masur, Dudamel, etc. etc. I would even go as far to say that you can probably find a few performances by every conductor, if not scores, that fit this description. In fact, the only thing "scoreless with eyes closed" does is tell me it's -not- Mravinsky.

This is a very minor grievance, so it's by no means an attack on the quality of writing. I also enjoy questions about conductors/performers, which I think is something that should be encouraged and explored more in music writing.
I don't want this to turn into a large argument, because this is one clue and (as you say) a "minor grievance", but I'm sorry, I'm going to have to play the "I know much more about this subject than you do" card. You are wrong. It absolutely was one of his trademarks, remarked upon especially when his career started in Nazi Germany (there was an incident related to this during a performance of Die Meistersinger that caused him to lose favor with Hitler) and throughout the rest of his career. (Please google Karajan and eyes closed if you do not believe me. Now do this for any other conductor and compare the results.) And yes, thank you, I'm very much not ignorant of conducting practice (historical or modern): I know that many conductors conduct scorelessly nowadays, and some of them close their eyes during certain passages (mainly for theatrical effect). But go on youtube, and pick almost any clip of Herbert von Karajan in performance, and you'll find that his eyes are closed for almost the entire clip (or actually for the entire clip). Now for any of the conductors you have mentioned try to find comparable performances that suggest that they do this. I'd be surprised if you can even find an individual performance for any of them where their eyes are closed for more than a small stretch of the movement. No one else makes a general practice of it, and for good reason: if you never make eye contact with any of your musicians, you come across as a dehumanizing egomaniac. Also, eye contact is a really valuable resource for conducting, and it's strange to disallow yourself that communicative tool. (Bernstein would be a particularly poor guess for this tossup, because he on a couple of occasions for humorous effect stopped waving his hands and just used his eyes to conduct, to show off that skill.) The fact that you do not seem to find this remarkable or distinctive is no commentary on its uniqueness or the way in which it was/is regarded.

However, there is a point to be made: if a clue is unique/good from an outside-world perspective, but everyone refuses to buzz on it, then in quizbowl reality, it was not a helpful clue for the field. I agree with largely privileging quizbowl reality over real-world reality to make questions play better. But, for something like this which has not been tossed up before, there is no known quizbowl reality, so one can use only outside-world reality. Auroni could certainly have chosen other clues than the ones he did, because Karajan did enough famous things, but the ones he chose are very good from a real-world perspective. If your criticism addressed why you think particular types of clue are unhelpful or something like that, then this might be helpful for future. Instead you are singling out a fact that you did not seem to know / refused to buzz on and asserting things about it based on your personal knowledge, in spite of video and documentary evidence to the contrary, which is not very helpful.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Ike » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:22 am

I thought the Lempel-Ziv compression algorithms tossup was an ill-conceived idea. None of the people who actually study computer science at our site picked it up. More annoyingly, it's one of those things that all of us had only heard of through quizbowl.

CS is one of those topics where we prefer tossups on basic things. CS isn't like physics in which you can write tossups on the geometric phase and expect people to convert it - this is largely because you can expect a physics major to have read through all of Griffith's book on quantum physics. Outside of data structures, automata theory, systems architecture, compilers and some very basic things in sub-fields, people's knowledge of the topic falls-off extremely fast.

tl'dr: It would be much appreciated if you can fill the 1/0 CS with a well-written tossup on something like stacks.

PS - Hilariously, whoever edited the philosophy deserves some CS related praise. Their sole clue on the Davis-Putnam algorithm generated more buzzable clues on CS than the entirety of CS did at the Minnesota site!
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Ike » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:24 am

The fact that Karajan conducted scorelessly with his eyes closed is often cited as one of his distinctive trademarks. (One that many people criticize as part of his dehumanizing and dictatorial approach, since it removes any human contact between conductor and musician.) If Aaron is aware of other conductors who were known for this, I'm happy to learn who they are.
I'm sure Aaron will post when he feels like it, but I just want to say I hope the clue isn't "no score + eyes closed" because that seems a bit redundant. If however that is true, I feel a little bit more disambiguation is in order, as I, and I think Aaron, just took this to mean something to the extent of "he closed his eyes while conducting."
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:12 pm

Ike wrote:I thought the Lempel-Ziv compression algorithms tossup was an ill-conceived idea. None of the people who actually study computer science at our site picked it up. More annoyingly, it's one of those things that all of us had only heard of through quizbowl.

CS is one of those topics where we prefer tossups on basic things. CS isn't like physics in which you can write tossups on the geometric phase and expect people to convert it - this is largely because you can expect a physics major to have read through all of Griffith's book on quantum physics. Outside of data structures, automata theory, systems architecture, compilers and some very basic things in sub-fields, people's knowledge of the topic falls-off extremely fast.
I must disagree on several points. There is nothing wrong with LZ in the abstract--its variants are the most important universal [lossless] source coding/compression algorithms, ever (I really cannot overstate this). It is very possible to encounter LZ77/78 & LZW in classes. In fact, we [rather bizarrely, really] went over Huffman coding & LZ in my Communications class (of all places!) this morning. I'm also told Rob Carson, Sam Spaulding, and if I'm not mistaken, Will Butler, have done things with LZ[W] in classes. Moreover, it's actually known outside of CS because of 7-zip and the patent controversy over the GIF format. Just because many people have only heard of it through quizbowl doesn't mean it isn't really important.

That said, if no CS people picked it up (though I'm told Rob negged it), there may very well be a problem here (I'm of the mind that the problem is that it was simply too hard for this level [though I'm not sure it's any less appropriate than at, say, CO] rather than having anything to do with only knowing of it through quizbowl). However, I don't know see why we have to artificially restrict our answer space, at this level, when there are topics out there that people know and are extremely important.

Edit: Of course, my first paragraph presupposes the existence of this universal standard of "we must only ask things people learn about in classes," which doesn't really, and shouldn't, exist.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:34 pm

SirT wrote:I'm also told Rob Carson, Sam Spaulding, and if I'm not mistaken, Will Butler, have done things with LZ[W] in classes.
As disappointed as I was that this was not on the Burrows-Wheeler Transform, this was a fine thing to ask about. I have in fact studied LZ in class, but even if I hadn't it would still be fine. I'm getting tired of people claiming that just because they hadn't studied it in class, it should never be asked about. Outside of one day of class in 11th grade AP Bio, I've never studied human anatomy in a class and am incredibly ignorant about the subject for a biology grad student. Yet for some reason I don't take to the message boards to complain every time human bio comes up at a tournament. Perhaps it's because within a given field of study there are more important reasonable things that could make for an okay quizbowl question than one person could ever learn merely from their classes. Perhaps it's because I think people should be interested enough in their area of study to actually go learn things for themselves. Maybe it's because I think that it's okay at hard tournaments to ask about hard things provided those things are legitimately important(like LZ) and that part of the distribution overall isn't completely composed of really hard things.I guess I can sympathize with Ike's plight here since this was the only(?) CS question in the set and it might not have been as aggravating to some if this was one of several CS questions with the rest being more "core."
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:46 pm

While there were definitely some interesting ideas and inventive answer lines in here, there were also many ill-conceived ones and, much more surprisingly, instances of bad writing that reminded me of Pennbowl. I'll repeat now what I said then: it isn't sufficient to decide on an answer line, assemble a bunch of clues, arrange them pyramidally, and move on without thinking over what alternative answers your clues might be pointing to. That leads to immensely frustrating negs based on deep knowledge of early clues. Two notable instances that affected us were the Achievement Gap and Maecenas.

Here's the lead-in to the Achievement Gap question:
“Closing” this phenomenon subtitles the volume Unfinished Business, edited by Pedro Noguera and Jean Wing. It became
less prevalent from the late 1960s until about 1988, partly because of plans such as the one at issue in Swann v. Charlotte-
Mecklenburg.
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg was a Supreme Court case about school "busing" to integrate segregated systems, which is what Sam negged with. Of course, the case made busing more prevalent rather than less prevalent, but think about a knowledgeable player hearing a clue that mentions Swann v. Charlotte Mecklenburg. Does that player think "that case approved school busing, which was aimed at closing the Achievement Gap, so this question must be about the Achievement Gap?" I don't think so. Including the clue only makes sense if you already know that the answer to the question is "the Achievement Gap." And as with the Bona Dea question, there's a uniquely-identifying throw-away clue there at the beginning, but come on.

The question on Maecenas begins
Cassius Dio relates a story in which this person, restrained by a crowd and unable to get to the emperor, flung a tablet
that read “Pray rise at last, executioner!” onto the emperor’s lap, thus saving many people from being condemned. This
first Roman to install a warm swimming pool was also the first to devise shorthand writing....
According to wikipedia, Cassius Dio says this about Maecenas, but...

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

causing another unfortunate neg.

Finally, the bonus part asking for "error" reads
[10] The least-mean-square algorithm is a scheme for producing the lowest value for the mean squared form of this quantity, the
difference between the expected output and the actual output.
ANSWER: error
After a team that included a stats major and an econ Ph.D. student debated for a few seconds whether to the question was looking for "error" or "residual," we went with residual. Indeed, the phrase referenced in the first sentence is "mean squared error," but "the difference between the expected output and the actual output" fails to distinguish between the two concepts. If you're going to demand "error" and reject a match-deciding protest over "residual," you pretty much better have some version of the following sentence in your question: "this concept can be distinguished from its empirical counterpart, the residual." Because while least squares algorithms are meant to minimize errors, they do so by minimizing residuals, which under the assumptions of the algorithms constitute an estimate of the error.
Hilariously, whoever edited the philosophy deserves some CS related praise. Their sole clue on the Davis-Putnam algorithm generated more buzzable clues on CS than the entirety of CS did at the Minnesota site!
I'll take credit for this since I wrote the question and led in with that clue. Sorry to you philosophy people who played with Ike or Matt and didn't get to hear the edifying sequence of Putnam philosophy clues that followed....
With regard to the part of this question on the Arrow-Debreu model, it did mention "with an American, this man did X," which should be helpful if you know Debreu was not American
Debreu was, in fact, American. He famously (at least among resentful French economists) abjured French citizenship.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Ike » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:15 pm

That said, if no CS people picked it up (though I'm told Rob negged it), there may very well be a problem here (I'm of the mind that the problem is that it was simply too hard for this level [though I'm not sure it's any less appropriate than at, say, CO] rather than having anything to do with only knowing of it through quizbowl). However, I don't know see why we have to artificially restrict our answer space, at this level, when there are topics out there that people know and are extremely important.
I don't really think it's a good idea to ask about all of these things because there are many, many, topics that I feel this could be true of. This would go for topics such as: motion planning, computer security, computer graphics, compiler construction, distributed systems, embedded systems, bioinformatics, machine learning and many other things. For example, the idea of "fault tolerance" is central to three of the six topics I've named, and it sure is one of the most important topics in systems theory, but I would never go around writing a tossup on it, mostly because I can't expect people with a decent knowledge of CS to answer it. There are so many things in the field of CS that it would be absurd to expect anyone to have even a conceptual understanding of the underlying principles used in each field.

CS isn't really like physics. If you're studying relativity in depth, you probably better know the basics of E and M in order to understand it. There is no need to learn about distributed systems if you want to understand motion planning.

Cody and Will - here's my main problem with you two okaying the tossup. I'm raising concerns that most, maybe all, of the CS people at our site cannot answer this particular tossup. And both of you are telling me "this tossup is perfectly fine, I've covered it in class. It's important" I can see myself using that same criteria to defend tossups on things that you would find unsavory, despite their real world importance.

Lastly, I want to just step back for a second and realize that this is currently a 3-person squabble. I tried to write all of my CS tossups for Peaceful Resolution that were on things that people can get by the end if they had only a passing familiarity with CS. I tried to write most of my clues from Sipser and the CLRS textbook so that anyone who wanted to get better at CS but only had a passing familiarity with it - like my teammates or noted quizbowl great Matt Bollinger or really anyone, could "easily" pick up a standard textbook get some real knowledge and even power the tossup. I think this is the approach we should be worried about following and not just one that makes "people who've studied real world CS" happy.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:16 pm

I have no dog in this Lempel-Ziv fight, but I will note that Mike Bentley converted the tossup in the late middle clues.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:31 pm

So suppose I accept your argument, why would it only apply to CS and not say to the entire distribution? This tournament is full of tossups on things that one could conceivable major in the corresponding subject, yet never have academical studied nor need to know about in order to understand the majority of that field.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:41 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:Finally, the bonus part asking for "error" reads
[10] The least-mean-square algorithm is a scheme for producing the lowest value for the mean squared form of this quantity, the difference between the expected output and the actual output.
ANSWER: error
After a team that included a stats major and an econ Ph.D. student debated for a few seconds whether to the question was looking for "error" or "residual," we went with residual. Indeed, the phrase referenced in the first sentence is "mean squared error," but "the difference between the expected output and the actual output" fails to distinguish between the two concepts. If you're going to demand "error" and reject a match-deciding protest over "residual," you pretty much better have some version of the following sentence in your question: "this concept can be distinguished from its empirical counterpart, the residual." Because while least squares algorithms are meant to minimize errors, they do so by minimizing residuals, which under the assumptions of the algorithms constitute an estimate of the error.
The LMS algorithm (mentioned in the lead-in) is not the same thing as the LS method; this seems to have created a bit of confusion, at the very least, for your team, and I'm sorry for that. As you note, there is no "mean squared residual." I don't see how the second phrase applies to residual, but this could be because I come from a probability/DSP background, rather than statistics. The second phrase is from a definition of the LMS algorithm that I thought would be more useful than "desired output;" perhaps "true output" would have been better still.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:53 pm

On a completely different note, I wasn't very happy with the answer line choice of John Toland a.k.a. "the guy who's not Anthony Collins," and I'm curious to know if anyone converted it. That said, I had no problem with the philosophy as a whole.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:56 pm

SirT wrote:The LMS algorithm (mentioned in the lead-in) is not the same thing as the LS method; this seems to have created a bit of confusion, at the very least, for your team, and I'm sorry for that. As you note, there is no "mean squared residual." I don't see how the second phrase applies to residual, but this could be because I come from a probability/DSP background, rather than statistics. The second phrase is from a definition of the LMS algorithm that I thought would be more useful than "desired output;" perhaps "true output" would have been better still.
This is pretty much a statement of the problem I'm talking about: already having an answer in mind, it appears to you all the clues point directly to it. Why did you reject the protest if you admit the question is confusing between two extremely closely related concepts? "True output" doesn't do any better, because the sample could be thought of as the "true output," and "actual output" would appear to be a data object, not a model object, no?
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:08 pm

Ike wrote:For example, the idea of "fault tolerance" is central to three of the six topics I've named, and it sure is one of the most important topics in systems theory, but I would never go around writing a tossup on it, mostly because I can't expect people with a decent knowledge of CS to answer it. There are so many things in the field of CS that it would be absurd to expect anyone to have even a conceptual understanding of the underlying principles used in each field.

Cody and Will - here's my main problem with you two okaying the tossup. I'm raising concerns that most, maybe all, of the CS people at our site cannot answer this particular tossup. And both of you are telling me "this tossup is perfectly fine, I've covered it in class. It's important" I can see myself using that same criteria to defend tossups on things that you would find unsavory, despite their real world importance.
My contention is precisely the opposite though: CS people do learn about very important things like LZ in classes, and I do expect people with a decent knowledge of CS to answer it (at least at this level). Would I fill the entire CS distribution for a tournament with tossups as hard as LZ? No. [Well, I guess I did, but I definitely would not in the abstract, and had I known it would be the only CS TU, I might have revised my answer (although if I'd known it would be the only CS question, I would have written more CS)]

However, I hold much the same views as Will and I don't consider what people learn in classes to be the most important criteria (as I mention in my post). I asked myself whether enough people would buzz in acceptably early on the tossup (most likely, yes) and whether it would be well-converted at the end (most likely, yes). Whether or not something is important or covered in classes is just a part of the consideration for the above two things. In fact, at something like MO or CO, I don't really have that much problem with something really important being tossed up even if it is likely to go dead among some of the people who study the subject. A whole tournament of them is a big problem, but a couple here and there is NBD to me (as long as there are other, more possible questions in the category).

(FWIW, I wrote steepest descent / error / Gauss-Newton as CS, though I can see why people might not take that view)
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:16 pm

There is no clue that uniquely applies to "residual," and the rest of the bonus sufficiently differentiates the two.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:18 pm

SirT wrote:
(FWIW, I wrote steepest descent / error / Gauss-Newton as CS, though I can see why people might not take that view)
To be fair to you, I came somewhat close to 30ing this bonus because of the class I took on CS applications in economics. Had I done so, instead of zeroing it, I would have been inordinately pleased with myself and with the question. Instead, having zeroed it (and having that decide a match that was in many other respects infuriating) I'm probably more aggrieved than this question deserves.
There is no clue that uniquely applies to "residual," and the rest of the bonus sufficiently differentiates the two.
The latter claim is simply not true, as this discussion indicates.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by marnold » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:37 pm

I thought this tournament was solid and enjoyable. My main criticism was something like the empathy point. My example was also going to be the achievement gap question. I buzzed at "Swann" and realized there was something more complicated than just "busing" going on, so I think I answered something like "school integration through the use of busing." It's going to be really hard for players to let that clue go by without buzzing with some variety of the answer "busing." Another example was the very next question on stairs where Aidan was annoyed that it said something like "one of these was notably designed by Some Dude" where he buzzed and said "parks" and the question continued "in his famous park X." I don't know the merits of that and he can obviously criticize that question himself, but it seems like the same sort of thing where a player is definitely going to go in on a clue.

Also, I'll note I liked the law in this set. My desultory performance in the law bowl was mainly because I thought your questions immediately narrowed things down to two or three possible answers and it was a game of chicken to see who would take a stab in those areas first. These were better.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:28 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:The latter claim is simply not true, as this discussion indicates.
The first phrase contains two distinct clues that both apply only to error; I'm not quite sure what you mean here.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:41 pm

SirT wrote:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:The latter claim is simply not true, as this discussion indicates.
The first phrase contains two distinct clues that both apply only to error; I'm not quite sure what you mean here.
NO IT DOESN'T. The Least Mean Squares algorithm, whatever that is, can only possibly operate with residuals, because that's the only thing a program could have. I'm not a computer scientist and even I understand that. The reason that minimizing residuals is something an algorithm would be interested in doing is that they are estimates of errors. However, I see now that the first sentence of the wikipedia article on "least mean squares filter" is a statement of this bonus part, so I guess you have that.
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