Question-specific discussion

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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:53 pm

I do have to congratulate you on writing a question that caused confusion among knowledgeable people and then rejecting their protest of the negging of an arguably correct answer using legalistic contortions of the meaning of the clues based on prior knowledge of the answer. That's really what we go for in quizbowl.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:55 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.
I think something got mixed up here--I intended to communicate (initially to Auroni, I think?) that I'd done some relatively basic stuff with compression (Huffman coding, stuff like that) in classes and had a passing knowledge of the LZW algorithm because I'd read about the Compuserve/Unisys GIF controversy. I think the larger problem with the question, at least as it played out for Matt Hayes and I, is that we were both baffled by its continued use of the pronoun phrase "this scheme" instead of something more direct and clear like "this algorithm".
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:19 pm

Apropos of nothing: Regarding Karajan, I don't study classical music but I do watch a bit of performances on Youtube, and I recognized the "closed his eyes while conducting clue." This didn't help me to buzz because I don't remember names and I hilariously was conflating Zubin Mehta with Karajan, but I remember watching a very good Radetzky March performance and the conductor was clearly closing his eyes and basically looking hilariously dismissive the entire time.

I mentioned this earlier I think, but the achievement gap tossup either needed a less specific answerline or a more specific clue (for the early ones). The first clue is a good one, but the Swann one is too general. Yes, Swann, I guess was meant to lower the achievement gap, but you could say it lowered or was meant to lower a lot of things: white flight, segregation in schools, etc. I'd be shocked if someone buzzed on that clue and immediately went to achievement gap unless they correctly parsed the meaning of the first clue. I don't necessarily have a problem with people getting negged for "busing" (which I tried to do) because the wording ruled it out (yeah, I guess it will certainly incite negs, but is it any different than like vigorously negging with Peter the Great on "This man lost the battle of Poltava"?), I just think it needed to be more specific for the actual answerline.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:22 pm

Yeah, I didn't think that people would buzz with "park" since I thought that the pronouns ("structure," coupled with the fact that the clue about Inigo Jones in the previous sentence was pretty clearly about something indoors) ruled it out definitively, but since that appears to be empirically untrue, I'm sorry for that error in judgment.

As for the achievement gap, I should have worded that question much more carefully, and I apologize for not doing so.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:27 pm

marnold wrote: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.
Thanks. The law bowl questions were designed to be short and to the point, partly because I assumed that no one wanted to hear eight lines about the UCC or whatever, but mainly because I was lazy and didn't want to write more than what I wrote. The law that I wrote for this tournament (tax code, arbitration bonus, water law bonus to an extent, co-ops to an extent, and scattered parts and clues elsewhere in the social science, philosophy, and American history) was supposed to be more outsider-friendly and general-interest in nature. Hopefully people enjoyed it and it wasn't excessive or too difficult.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:56 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote: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.
After doing much further reading, I believe you are correct in saying that the LMS alg. minimizes the residual. However, the bonus does not say 'The LMS alg. minimizes this quantity.' It says it 'minimizes the mean squared form of this quantity.' The LMS alg. minimizes the mean squared error and the MSE is, of course, itself a thing (I, personally, count this as two clues ruling out residuals). When I ruled on your protest, I had trouble finding any references to the LMS alg. and residual, and one I did actually drew a very clear distinction between the 'residual' signal and the 'error' signal; the latter is what was used to calculate the MSE. (Residual does not seem to be an oft-used term in DSP despite its apparently applicability) I'm open to the possibility of being wrong, and perhaps I should have had the bonus replaced, but I still think I made the correct call in ruling your answer incorrect.

I'm not sure if you are insinuating that I took this information from Wikipedia, but I did not (though the article it does appear to be, quite surprisingly, very readable).
Tees-Exe Line wrote:I do have to congratulate you on writing a question that caused confusion among knowledgeable people and then rejecting their protest of the negging of an arguably correct answer using legalistic contortions of the meaning of the clues based on prior knowledge of the answer. That's really what we go for in quizbowl.
I really am quite sorry the bonus confused you (the opposite of my intent), but I don't think I am making any assumptions based on prior knowledge of the answer.
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Re: Question-specific discission

Post by csheep » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:18 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:

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.
No one's disputing that Karajan conducted scoreless with his eyes closed, so there's no point fixating on that. The point in contention is whether that's an "uniquely identifiable" clue. Yes, Karajan often conducts with his eyes closed, and yes, he is "known" for it; this doesn't mean other conductors don't also do it, which makes it a poor choice of clue in my opinion. It's akin to saying "he is known for slow tempi" for, say, Celibidache. Yes, he is known for it, but it's still a bad clue because he is not the only one who does something like that.
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.
This is exactly the point I'm trying to convey, but I guess it wasn't apparent enough. Clues where, yes, it applies to the person in question, who might be known for it, but may also apply to others to some extent are useless.

Also, I buzzed on the first line of this question, so your personal jab is moot. This is not a "I'm mad I didn't get this question" thing.
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Re: Question-specific discission

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:56 am

csheep wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:

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.
No one's disputing that Karajan conducted scoreless with his eyes closed, so there's no point fixating on that. The point in contention is whether that's an "uniquely identifiable" clue. Yes, Karajan often conducts with his eyes closed, and yes, he is "known" for it; this doesn't mean other conductors don't also do it, which makes it a poor choice of clue in my opinion. It's akin to saying "he is known for slow tempi" for, say, Celibidache. Yes, he is known for it, but it's still a bad clue because he is not the only one who does something like that.
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.
This is exactly the point I'm trying to convey, but I guess it wasn't apparent enough. Clues where, yes, it applies to the person in question, who might be known for it, but may also apply to others to some extent are useless.

Also, I buzzed on the first line of this question, so your personal jab is moot. This is not a "I'm mad I didn't get this question" thing.
And you in turn have have apparently missed the point of my response. All of that was devoted not to the simple assertion that "Karajan conducted scorelessly with his eyes closed", but rather that he did and no one else did as a matter of habit. There are many other conductors who use slow tempi besides Celibidache, who would be reasonable buzzes, which is why that is a bad clue. (Although, any good tossup on Celibidache would nonetheless be obligated to try to address this fact in some way, because it's the most known thing about him.) I asked you who else you think is a reasonable buzz for "scorelessly with eyes closed" (i.e. someone who is known for it) and have suggested that you would have a hard time finding evidence (in the form of quotes or clips) to support this clue applying to anyone else, whereas I can just type in Karajan on google or youtube and get masses of evidence. You have not been able to name anyone who one could buzz with there. (The conductors you mentioned: Rattle, Masur, and Dudamel are not in any way known for this and conduct mostly with their eyes open, as does everyone else besides Karajan, which is my point!) My "personal jab", as you are calling it, is my annoyance that your argument strategy is just asserting that this is a clue for other people too, and offering no reasonable alternatives to support this claim.

All performers of older generations have trademarks, things that they did that were a distinctive part of their identity. Almost none of these trademarks remain 100% unique to them, because though no one else (except an outright copycat) would take another's trademark as their own, many people adapt it as an occasional or minor feature of their own performance. (E.g. many trumpeters occasionally puff their cheeks besides Dizzy Gillespie, but we still use it as clue for him, because he is the only major musician known for it.) Questions on performers nonetheless almost always include these clues, because they are usually one of the most famous / recognizable things about the performer in question. (As this clue is for Karajan.)

Your position seems to involve an unwillingness to allow this kind of thing to be a clue. My position allows this in cases where one can say "assuming this is a clue, it could only reasonably be a clue for one person". You have not offered convincing arguments for why this logic does not apply to this clue. My position is more reflected in the reality of how quizbowl questions are written than yours. If you are advocating that we should change reality and abandon these clues that work by this logic, I oppose you, because: they are often the only way to mention some of the most famous attributes of particular performers; I have buzzed on things like this and have seen others do so, and therefore empirically believe them to be generally effective and helpful; even in cases where people recognize that it applies to a particular person but refuse to buzz there because they are paranoid and worry that there are other reasonable answers and that they will be negged, it nonetheless puts the right answer in their head and allows them to buzz with more confidence on later clues.
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Re: Question-specific discission

Post by csheep » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:19 am

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
csheep wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:

All performers of older generations have trademarks, things that they did that were a distinctive part of their identity. Almost none of these trademarks remain 100% unique to them, because though no one else (except an outright copycat) would take another's trademark as their own, many people adapt it as an occasional or minor feature of their own performance. (E.g. many trumpeters occasionally puff their cheeks besides Dizzy Gillespie, but we still use it as clue for him, because he is the only major musician known for it.) Questions on performers nonetheless almost always include these clues, because they are usually one of the most famous / recognizable things about the performer in question. (As this clue is for Karajan.)

Your position seems to involve an unwillingness to allow this kind of thing to be a clue. My position allows this in cases where one can say "assuming this is a clue, it could only reasonably be a clue for one person". You have not offered convincing arguments for why this logic does not apply to this clue. My position is more reflected in the reality of how quizbowl questions are written than yours. If you are advocating that we should change reality and abandon these clues that work by this logic, I oppose you, because: they are often the only way to mention some of the most famous attributes of particular performers; I have buzzed on things like this and have seen others do so, and therefore empirically believe them to be generally effective and helpful; even in cases where people recognize that it applies to a particular person but refuse to buzz there because they are paranoid and worry that there are other reasonable answers and that they will be negged, it nonetheless puts the right answer in their head and allows them to buzz with more confidence on later clues.
Fair enough, I'm convinced.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by armitage » Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:47 pm

Maybe this has been mentioned by now, but the tossup on the Long Parliament should include a prompt on "Rump Parliament" since its leadin refers to events that followed the Rump Parliament (the formation of Barebone's Parliament).

I really enjoyed the world history in this set, and I also particularly liked the tossup on South Korean pop culture. Thanks, whoever felt inspired to write that.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by setht » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:13 pm

Before I forget, I feel I should apologize for my tossup on mass and magnetic flux. I thought I was being empathic by asking for two answers and giving clues for both quantities rather than writing directly on the mass-to-flux ratio (which is important, I swear), but I believe the question went very dead in several (possibly every) room at the UMN site and I suspect it didn't fare well back East. I probably should have asked for one of mass or magnetic flux, and used some early clues about the other one.

Conversely, I wanted to praise the El Nino/Southern Oscillation/ENSO tossup: my recollection is that it gave some clues pertaining to SO, then some for EN, and it accepted any of those answers (at least, my answer of ENSO was accepted). This seems like an answer line that benefits from not splitting things up and then trying to get players to say just El Nino but not SO or ENSO. Good job, someone (Cody?).

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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:14 pm

setht wrote:I thought I was being empathic by asking for two answers and giving clues for both quantities rather than writing directly on the mass-to-flux ratio (which is important, I swear), but I believe the question went very dead in several (possibly every) room at the UMN site and I suspect it didn't fare well back East. I probably should have asked for one of mass or magnetic flux, and used some early clues about the other one.
I got it, I thought it was interesting but very strange to my untrained ear. Maybe it was more organic to someone who actually knows astrophysics?
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:50 am

I guess posts about a specific question aren't typically so helpful, but I want to complain about the jets tossup. As I said after that Identifying Particles TU at CO, I like that people are writing tossups on things that particle physicists do, and jets are really, really important. That being said, I feel like this tossup was a cool idea that could have been executed successfully that, frankly, wasn't at all.

Looking at the question, the pre-FTP clues are pretty equally split between things that apply to other things, and things that noone (besides maybe, like, jet phenomenologists), care about. The Snowmass clue basically tells you that it's something related to particle physics, since Snowmass is a recurring meeting to set broad outlines for hep research in the US. The PT/eta/phi clue can basically apply to anything - I guess you're talking about plots like this (http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/breakin ... om-the-lhc), but there's no reason why you couldn't do that for leptons, or MET or something if you wanted to, and I've done so. The way the clue is phrased just makes it worse, because you (or I, at least) hear "you plot these things' PT, eta, and phi" and get extremely confused. The pileup clue is probably the worst since it applies to literally everything having to do with a particle accelerator. Pileup is just when you have one collision before the decay products from the previous one have left the detector, and underlying event is just the mess of particles you get from your collision. Thus, detectors and analysis software are designed to help deal with those, and there are dozens of correct answers about that clue. Looking it up, it looks like the dark towers thing is important. I've never heard of it, although I can accept that other people may use it. Next: "You use calorimeters to detect these!" Seeing as any detector will have two calorimeters, one for jets (the hadronic or hcal) and one for leptons and photons (the electromagnetic cal), this is useless. Finally we get to cones right before the giveaway.

I'm trying not to fall into the "things I know should be asked about" but come on, there are so many things that particle physicists do with jets all the time that aren't mentioned here. Kt and anti-kt algorithms? Clustering in general? What jets are used for? There's some really cool physics about how the strong force works on bare quarks that could be discussed here, instead a line and a half is spent on dark towers and calorimeters. Even a tossup using entirely phenomenology clues about how jets show up in detectors could work, but this didn't. It has too many vague clues, and too many clues that don't point to a specific answer. At various points in the tossup, you could perfectly reasonably buzz with "particle accelerators," "detectors," "decay products from a particle collision," or even "primary vertex."

While this is definitely an important subject that deserves to be asked on, it deserves a better tossup than this on it.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:50 am

I feel like maybe you aren't considering some of these clues as a whole, Joe. I can't really respond very well to this as I don't have much way of looking things up right now [long story about terrible internet at parent's house], and I wrote the question far too long ago to remember the original things I found at all.

The Snowmass accord is a set of several points (I believe 5-7) that define what a jet is. I am fairly certain it was the only thing referred to as that when I researched it.
I think I phrased the lego plot clue correctly to avoid precisely what you are talking about and to avoid it applying to everything detected by a calorimeter.
I believe the calorimeter clue I used is unique because of the scintillator bit (I was aware of there being an hcal and ecal, so I tried to be more specific). Not sure, though.
From a cursory google search, it appears you're right about pileup & underlying event. There's no excuse for not catching this; sorry.
Sorry for any other clues that were ambiguous; it doesn't appear I did enough research on the individual clues of this question.

I did come across kt/anti-kt & clustering, but couldn't think of a good way to really include clues about jet identification algs, as I thought it would be rather transparent. I think I also removed some thing after the CO TU happened, but I'm not 100% sure. I don't see how you could buzz with "particle accelerators" or "detectors," though, even on the first clue.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by marnold » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:48 pm

For what it's worth, noted physicist Rafael Krichevsky who works on jets at CERN was happier about that tossup than I think I've ever seen him.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:11 pm

marnold wrote:For what it's worth, noted physicist Rafael Krichevsky who works on jets at CERN was happier about that tossup than I think I've ever seen him.
Dude he's a physicist?! So many stealth physicists in QB.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:47 pm

SirT wrote:The Snowmass accord is a set of several points (I believe 5-7) that define what a jet is. I am fairly certain it was the only thing referred to as that when I researched it.
I guess you're talking about this (http://lss.fnal.gov/archive/1990/conf/Conf-90-249-E.pdf), in which case it's technically probably fine.
I think I phrased the lego plot clue correctly to avoid precisely what you are talking about and to avoid it applying to everything detected by a calorimeter.
Looking at the whole sentence, yes, although since the "common way to visualize them" isn't until after the bulk of the clue has already been read, just hearing the first part of it can cause confusion.
I believe the calorimeter clue I used is unique because of the scintillator bit (I was aware of there being an hcal and ecal, so I tried to be more specific). Not sure, though.
Yeah, I wasn't certain of this, but it appears that CMS, at least, uses scintillators in their ecal: http://cms.web.cern.ch/news/electromagnetic-calorimeter
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by mhayes » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:45 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
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.
I think something got mixed up here--I intended to communicate (initially to Auroni, I think?) that I'd done some relatively basic stuff with compression (Huffman coding, stuff like that) in classes and had a passing knowledge of the LZW algorithm because I'd read about the Compuserve/Unisys GIF controversy. I think the larger problem with the question, at least as it played out for Matt Hayes and I, is that we were both baffled by its continued use of the pronoun phrase "this scheme" instead of something more direct and clear like "this algorithm".
I'm late to the discussion, but this is the gist of my issue with that tossup. I have no problem with tossing up LZW, but I thought the question was unnecessarily opaque in its clues.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:17 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
marnold wrote:For what it's worth, noted physicist Rafael Krichevsky who works on jets at CERN was happier about that tossup than I think I've ever seen him.
Dude he's a physicist!?
Eric, how could you be unaware of one of the main reasons why he's so much better at quizbowl than Marnold?
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Demonic Leftovers » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:17 pm

I also appreciated the law in this tournament for the most part. With the exception of the Achievement Gap question and the punishment question (which used a "retributive" clue I thought better fit with justice) they were good. I especially enjoyed the efforts to include areas like tax or employment discrimination. The use of McDonnell-Douglas v. Green in the Green TU was a good example of asking about something extremely important from law without making the question impossible for someone who hasn't taken Employment Discrimination.

I'm going to disagree with Kurtis' opinion on the TU's on Luce and Schurz. I don't think they are accurately described as minor figures. They are both very important figures. While I wouldn't ask about them at ACF Fall, I think they are excellent TU answer choices at this level. Some of the biographical clues about them were also very good in my opinion. The clue about Schurz's wife founding the first kindergarten in America is a good example, as it helps signify that the figure came from Germany, and Schurz is notable for being a significant German immigrant from that era. These were two of my favorite questions at the tournament, and I hope to see more like them in the future.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:25 pm

Oh, I missed Kurtis' comment, but yeah, I liked the Luce and Schurz tossups. The Luce tossup seemed actually a nice way of getting at two frankly rather disparate figures despite their marriage (Henry and Clare Boothe), so I enjoyed that. Schurz surprised me as I thought he was too hard for any level, but the question seemed fine.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Auroni » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:17 am

I wrote (and then Andrew rewrote about half of) the Luce question. I'm glad that it was enjoyed.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Sam » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:34 pm

I don't know enough about the Luces or Schurz to comment on question quality, but I think Kurtis's comment and the complaints about the achievement gap and punishment questions point towards a more general issue. In choosing answer lines, the primary focus should be on the game play aspect, rather than how well that particular word or phrase maps to importance in the real world. The achievement gap is undeniably important in actual world, and the clues all seemed to have been pretty important facts, but it wasn't something people were able to deduce when hearing it in the setting of a match.

On the other side, the Luces do sound like important historical figures but I suspect most people who got that question had not read a biography of Henry or Clara Luce. Instead, they had learned about them in connection with other events or people, and the answer line is to a great extent a proxy not for the "Henry Luce and Clara Booth Luce" but "early 20th century American history."

EDIT: I should clarify that I don't see the way the Luce question works as a problem; I'm using it as an example of an answer line that someone might not study in the real world as a separate unit but could still have learned. "Punishment" is often studied as a separate unit, but didn't play out well in the game mechanics and thus was unable to reward even people who had done so.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:41 am

John's comments about Karajan seem fair enough. I think my brain just took a wrong turn at that clue, and in retrospect I should have given the right answer there. With all the conductors out there, its probably not unique, but it is his trademark, and who else would it be? E.g. Most of the videos I've seen of Carlo Maria Giulini show him conducting with his eyes closed and with no score as well, but he would open them occasionally.
Sam wrote:In choosing answer lines, the primary focus should be on the game play aspect, rather than how well that particular word or phrase maps to importance in the real world.
Seconded. I personally wasn't a huge fan of this tournament, but not because of the writing; I just thought there happened to be a lot of answerlines on things I don't like. But I won't press my personal interests further.

edited for grammar
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Gautam » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:03 am

Besides the 6/6 I contributed for the Carson et al packet, I wrote the TU on the Dirichlet distribution. If you have things to say about it, email me or write here.

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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:33 pm

The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote:
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.
I was reading through this thread, and I wanted to comment on this post because I think it represents a couple common misconceptions about social science and how quizbowl should reward academic expertise (i.e. "real knowledge"). "Social Science" is a loosely defined category that not only tests what individual disciplines study, but covers a wide range of cross-disciplinary thinking. There are many important thinkers (like Freud) who are no longer studied seriously in their original discipline but are read widely in other departments. Before making categorical about a figure, like "I'ver never heard of Victor Turner, and I've taken an introductory anthropology class!", it's generally a good idea to take a step back and consider if there is another academic context in which someone might be important. Using the Victor Turner example, I've been assigned a Victor Turner essay in multiple classes because liminality is a legitimately important idea for numerous academic disciplines. (In fact, I would argue that he is to be one of the very few anthropologists whose influence has expanded beyond anthropology.) As an English major I could complain that questions on "The Tale of Heike", Slavic national epics, or secondary Senegalese authors don't reflect what I study in literature classes. But while those books are not studied in English departments for their literary merit, they are crucial to other departments like Latin American Studies, Eastern-European Studies, or African Studies.

It's become a trend for people to stake out some small area of expertise and complain when every tournament inevitably fails to reward their real knowledge. In particular, I’ve seen many variations of the assertion, “[there are too many questions] about people, books, or particular cultures, while what is really important is concepts.” Obviously, I have nothing against well-written tossups on social science topics (like intelligence in psychology), but I want to fight this popular assumption that believes all tossups on thinkers or books are fake and advocates for questions on what social scientists really study. English majors don’t study plot summaries and memorize lines of poetry, but we acquire this type of knowledge as an ancillary consequence of studying a writer. Topics like “free, indirect discourse” or “the perception of pain in Hardy’s novels” don’t make for good tossup answers. Similarly, the wrong way to reward real knowledge is to write tossups on ethnographic methods or contemporary anthropological theory. Questions on particular cultures that draw clues from ethnographies someone might read in a class on ethnographic methods or, God forbid, “dead anthropologists” that cite theories someone might read about in a class on ethnicity succeed in rewarding real knowledge. The fact that garbology is the only anthropology question in the tournament that receives your unqualified approval is all the proof I need that contemporary anthropological theory would not translate well into tossup answers.

Good quizbowl editors find a balance between playability and real-world importance. If anything, I think this tournament veered too far into the “real” side, picking topics like “punishment” and “achievement gap” for their abstract importance rather than how they lend themselves to good questions--by which I mean unambiguous tossups with middle clues people actually have a chance of knowing.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:42 pm

I heartily agree. I would also just like to say that I think the "back to the classroom" push is getting a bit overblown in quizbowl. At least in my opinion, quizbowl should reward knowledge, acquired in or out of the classroom.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Wed Dec 12, 2012 4:53 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:I was reading through this thread, and I wanted to comment on this post because I think it represents a couple common misconceptions about social science and how quizbowl should reward academic expertise (i.e. "real knowledge"). "Social Science" is a loosely defined category that not only tests what individual disciplines study, but covers a wide range of cross-disciplinary thinking. There are many important thinkers (like Freud) who are no longer studied seriously in their original discipline but are read widely in other departments. Before making categorical about a figure, like "I'ver never heard of Victor Turner, and I've taken an introductory anthropology class!", it's generally a good idea to take a step back and consider if there is another academic context in which someone might be important. Using the Victor Turner example, I've been assigned a Victor Turner essay in multiple classes because liminality is a legitimately important idea for numerous academic disciplines. (In fact, I would argue that he is to be one of the very few anthropologists whose influence has expanded beyond anthropology.) As an English major I could complain that questions on "The Tale of Heike", Slavic national epics, or secondary Senegalese authors don't reflect what I study in literature classes. But while those books are not studied in English departments for their literary merit, they are crucial to other departments like Latin American Studies, Eastern-European Studies, or African Studies.

It's become a trend for people to stake out some small area of expertise and complain when every tournament inevitably fails to reward their real knowledge. In particular, I’ve seen many variations of the assertion, “[there are too many questions] about people, books, or particular cultures, while what is really important is concepts.” Obviously, I have nothing against well-written tossups on social science topics (like intelligence in psychology), but I want to fight this popular assumption that believes all tossups on thinkers or books are fake and advocates for questions on what social scientists really study. English majors don’t study plot summaries and memorize lines of poetry, but we acquire this type of knowledge as an ancillary consequence of studying a writer. Topics like “free, indirect discourse” or “the perception of pain in Hardy’s novels” don’t make for good tossup answers. Similarly, the wrong way to reward real knowledge is to write tossups on ethnographic methods or contemporary anthropological theory. Questions on particular cultures that draw clues from ethnographies someone might read in a class on ethnographic methods or, God forbid, “dead anthropologists” that cite theories someone might read about in a class on ethnicity succeed in rewarding real knowledge. The fact that garbology is the only anthropology question in the tournament that receives your unqualified approval is all the proof I need that contemporary anthropological theory would not translate well into tossup answers.

Good quizbowl editors find a balance between playability and real-world importance. If anything, I think this tournament veered too far into the “real” side, picking topics like “punishment” and “achievement gap” for their abstract importance rather than how they lend themselves to good questions--by which I mean unambiguous tossups with middle clues people actually have a chance of knowing.
I think I should probably explain why I wrote that initial post (although by no means would I still defend all of it). In anthropological work, foundational works and people are not especially important to the way that people do things now. It's possible to get a bachelor's and then a PhD in anthropology (even cultural anthropology) without having read more than a few pages of Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, or Franz Boas, let alone Tylor or Morgan - and many of my acquaintances who are anthropology grad students haven't. On the other hand, every anthropology student has to learn about the incest taboo or matrilineality.

I don't mean this to imply that people should write tossups on matrilineality and not Margaret Mead, especially since a tossup on matrilineality would be a disaster for multiple reasons (and also since people don't necessarily go in a lot of depth studying those concepts, either). But I do think it's rather important that anthropologists often use draw ideas from their conceptual toolboxes without thinking too hard about where those ideas come from, and that whatever that says about the discipline of anthropology, it's something that ought to be considered when talking about academic expertise in anthropology. And I get what you're saying about cross-disciplinary influence and agree that that's a valid thing that should be considered (and that I may be ignorant about), I think that explanation can only take you so far. People will learn about Margaret Mead (or, I guess, Victor Turner) outside of anthropology classes, but you reach the end of that line pretty quickly.

Many of your criticisms are fair enough, and I'll admit that I was wrong, or too quick to condemn, in some instances (for example, underestimating the influence of Victor Turner); I regret using the term "dead anthropologists," since my point wasn't that people shouldn't ask questions about dead anthropologists.* I also understand your concerns about playability, which is something that I'm trying to experiment with now. (I do think that a lot of more conceptual questions would probably best be framed as bonuses.) But again, my main concern was not that people ask questions about Lewis Henry Morgan or Alfred Kroeber or whatnot, since those are real things that are important in the development of anthroplogy, but that it's relatively uncommon for people to make their anthropology questions relevant to what people who study anthropology actually do. I don't think doing that has to involve writing questions on things that aren't going to be converted. You could probably write a question on Ruth Benedict, whom many quiz bowlers know of, that refers to modern critiques of her ideas (like the whole "culture and personality" thing), or write a social science tossup on Islam that leads in with contemporary anthropological work on Islam.

*Though I should point out there are living anthropologists whose work is fairly widely read, even outside their specialization.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:34 am

Magister Ludi wrote:I was reading through this thread, and I wanted to comment on this post because I think it represents a couple common misconceptions about social science and how quizbowl should reward academic expertise (i.e. "real knowledge"). "Social Science" is a loosely defined category that not only tests what individual disciplines study, but covers a wide range of cross-disciplinary thinking. There are many important thinkers (like Freud) who are no longer studied seriously in their original discipline but are read widely in other departments.

[...]

Good quizbowl editors find a balance between playability and real-world importance. If anything, I think this tournament veered too far into the “real” side, picking topics like “punishment” and “achievement gap” for their abstract importance rather than how they lend themselves to good questions--by which I mean unambiguous tossups with middle clues people actually have a chance of knowing.
Following up from Shan's particular comments about Anthropology, I think the sentiment expressed here is quite dangerous. A bigger problem than poorly-written tossups on important ideas is a stultified canon that bears no relation to what actually goes on in academic fields. I would say Anthropology is exhibit A for that, with the same Important authors of widely-discredited or questionable works coming up over and over, seemingly representing a field that hasn't changed since the sixties. I know that is inaccurate, and I for one am curious about what actual anthropologists do because the questions they address are intrinsically interesting. That it's hard to write questions on it is a challenge for good editors, not a justification for abandoning the effort entirely.

I've said this before in other tournament discussions, but we wouldn't tolerate stagnant, outdated questions in the natural or physical science distributions, and there's no reason we should in social science either. If the stock SS clues you memorized in high school aren't getting you points anymore, time to learn some more social science! And if Freud is really important in literary criticism but not in psychology, ask about him and his influence in literature questions, not psychology ones. I think we're in agreement that it's unfortunate most literature points are to be had from memorizing plot summaries; perhaps the implication is to favor some innovation in the literature question writing industry as well.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:44 pm

I tried, and in some places failed, to include an appropriate balance between "people/works that ushered in important social-scientific concepts" and "important social-scientific concepts themselves." It's fair to say that things like the achievement gap and perhaps "punishment" failed to rise to the standard of playability required for a tossup. (Though I really don't know what the fuss is about with the "punishment" tossup, other than that there are other, related concepts that are close cousins but don't quite match the clues, which I guess can be problematic. I did, however, try to make sure that all of the clues very specifically applied only to "punishment." Maybe it's just one of those things that doesn't lend itself well to a tossup, no matter how carefully (or perhaps not carefully, in this case) done.)

That said, quizbowl shouldn't say that concepts are important, but those who formulated them aren't, simply because that's the attitude that people in certain fields have adopted. Quizbowl cares about achievements and attribution that plenty of people in their respective disciplines don't. Obviously, we have to try to balance real-word importance against quizbowl name obsession, but I don't think it's fair to say that "we should care about matrilinear societies, but not Lewis Henry Morgan, because he's outdated/not talked about by real anthropologists." At the end of the day, Morgan was an important early thinker about matrilinearity, and to me that has some abstract importance, regardless of whether your anthro professor is name-dropping Morgan left and right during lecture.

There has to be a balance. For example, I've seen plenty of smart science-oriented folks with little quizbowl experience balk at answering basic science questions because the relation that we call the "Gibbs-Duhem equation" is just something that they do without attaching a name to it. One way around this is to ask about the relation itself in some way (i.e. ask about various state variables and things like "chemical potential"), which is often a really good idea. But at some level, things do have names (and creators) and quizbowl is partly about knowing those names. As much as we try to make quizbowl reflective of some kind of pure academic standard, we're still tied to the structure of nomenclature for most of what we do. Stripping quizbowl of names entirely would be, in my opinion, a massive overreaction to the problem of balancing names against academic reality.

I also agree with Marshall that, too often, social science is filled with stuffy questions on people that are actually out of date, for the apparent purpose of rewarding people for the social-science clues they learned in high school. I don't think that all tossups on David Ricardo (or Victor Turner, or whoever) should go away, but I think people should do a better job rewarding knowledge of the concepts that modern scholars care about (in the way that modern scholars care about them). History and book titles are important and can make for good clues on occasion, but I'd much rather see deep, concept-driven descriptions permeate these tossups. That's what I tried to do with the tossups on social scientists at MO, and I hope it was reasonably successful.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:48 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Magister Ludi wrote:I was reading through this thread, and I wanted to comment on this post because I think it represents a couple common misconceptions about social science and how quizbowl should reward academic expertise (i.e. "real knowledge"). "Social Science" is a loosely defined category that not only tests what individual disciplines study, but covers a wide range of cross-disciplinary thinking. There are many important thinkers (like Freud) who are no longer studied seriously in their original discipline but are read widely in other departments.

[...]

Good quizbowl editors find a balance between playability and real-world importance. If anything, I think this tournament veered too far into the “real” side, picking topics like “punishment” and “achievement gap” for their abstract importance rather than how they lend themselves to good questions--by which I mean unambiguous tossups with middle clues people actually have a chance of knowing.
Following up from Shan's particular comments about Anthropology, I think the sentiment expressed here is quite dangerous. A bigger problem than poorly-written tossups on important ideas is a stultified canon that bears no relation to what actually goes on in academic fields. I would say Anthropology is exhibit A for that, with the same Important authors of widely-discredited or questionable works coming up over and over, seemingly representing a field that hasn't changed since the sixties. I know that is inaccurate, and I for one am curious about what actual anthropologists do because the questions they address are intrinsically interesting. That it's hard to write questions on it is a challenge for good editors, not a justification for abandoning the effort entirely.

I've said this before in other tournament discussions, but we wouldn't tolerate stagnant, outdated questions in the natural or physical science distributions, and there's no reason we should in social science either. If the stock SS clues you memorized in high school aren't getting you points anymore, time to learn some more social science! And if Freud is really important in literary criticism but not in psychology, ask about him and his influence in literature questions, not psychology ones. I think we're in agreement that it's unfortunate most literature points are to be had from memorizing plot summaries; perhaps the implication is to favor some innovation in the literature question writing industry as well.
Sorry to revive this thread again, but this post is too terrible not to respond to. This post reproduces all the worst features of bad critiques from self-appointed experts. An even-handed discussion about trying to find a better balance between real-world significance and quizbowl playability is distorted into a crazed campaign to remove all real academic topics from the SS distribution. For good measure, the obligatory ad-hominem attack, attempting to discredit the opposing position as motivated by self-interest, makes an appearance, though this example is based on the particularly amusing logic that I want to restrict the canon to such mainstays of high school quizbowl as Victor Turner.

This type of criticism takes the perfect execution of the question for granted, and proceeds from there. All topics are assumed to lend themselves equally well to tossups, and, even more dubiously, assumes that all writers will consistently execute every type of tossup with equal skill. In fact, discussion about the process of writing a question becomes a moot point, a reactionary diversion from the truly important issues. All discussion about question writing is reduced to abstract arguments about picking the right topics.

The problem with this post is how it distorts the proper role an “expert” in a subject should play in discussion. In Marshall’s model, an expert exists to assess how well each tournament reflected their discipline as a self-appointed arbiter who pronounces what topics are legitimate (Frank Ramsey is ok) and what are not (but Freud is out, except for literature questions). A more productive role for experts to play in discussion is providing concrete examples of how specific questions could be improved. For example, I might critique the “aubade” tossup saying that I think common link tossups on poetic forms with highly formalized structures (like villanelles or sonnets) play better than tossups on looser forms (like elegies or odes) because poems with looser forms can often be classified in numerous ways. If there a tossup on a poetic form with a clue quoting “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, it would be reasonable for someone to buzz with “ode” or “ekphrasis.” I’m giving concrete feedback based on my experience about what types of clues and answer-lines are helpful and which ones can be confusing.

For experts to keep their post-tournament critiques helpful, they need to make sure they always discuss real-world, academic importance within the context of quizbowl playability. I strongly endorse the type of posting Andrew exhibits above, which balances both the demands of real-world knowledge and playability. Earlier in my career I might of freaked out since there always seems to be a tossup on a fucking Philip Freneau poem at MO, but this kind of complaining is unhelpful and, more importantly, unlikely to produce any change. Now, I have learned to look forward to next year’s MO tossup on "Father Bombo’s Pilgrimage to Mecca." It helps no one write better to read a rant about what canonical figures you find personally unimportant. It would be more constructive if you said: (1) when writing a tossup on a psychologist it’s unhelpful to mention X type of clue, but very helpful to include Y type of clue; (2) when writing a tossup on a book it’s better to search X database to see which chapters are cited most often rather than picking a section at random; (3) when writing on an old anthropologist it’s unhelpful to use clues from X branch of his work and it’s better to focus on the methodological side of his work.

[Edit: Fixed glaring grammatical errors and random half-finished sentences.]
Last edited by Magister Ludi on Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:43 pm

Ah, the old favorite rhetorical device in which one party to a dispute assumes the voice of a third party to cast the other disputant in a falsely impartial and unflattering light. I think I may have heard of someone else who used that deeply annoying tactic.
This man took a mere 500,000 words to lay out his Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer, which was itself a response to this man’s Responsio ad Lutherum. The earlier work includes the line “throw back into your paternity's shitty mouth, truly the shit-pool of all shit, all the muck and shit which your damnable rottenness has vomited up.” For 10 points each:
[10] First, name this extremely prolific polemicist of the counter-Reformation, who burned six suspected Lutherans at the stake as Lord Chancellor but was himself executed following an uncharacteristic but legally advisable silence on the Act of Succession.
ANSWER: Sir Thomas More
[10] The Thomas More of quizbowl is undoubtedly this culturally Catholic author of countless interminable condemnations of everyone other than himself for assorted offenses, including the “artificial common link” and ranking this man below Dallas Simons.
ANSWER: Ted Gioia
[10] Thomas More addressed a scathing 1518 letter to this institution, sounding much like Ted when he wrote that his opponents “think Greek is a joke for the simple reason that they don't know what good literature is.” Ted Gioia suffered a humiliating defeat at this institution in January 2012.
ANSWER: Oxford University
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:36 pm

Well it looks like this thread has inexplicably flared up again, but for what it's worth I largely agree with Andrew Hart's latest post.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:47 am

Magister Ludi wrote:Earlier in my career I might of freaked out since there always seems to be a tossup on a fucking Philip Freneau poem MO, but this kind of complaining is unhelpful and, more importantly, unlikely to produce any change. Now, I have learned to look forward to next year’s MO tossup on "Father Bombo’s Pilgrimage to Mecca."
While I can sympathize with you here (especially when it comes to new goddamn Henry James works we ask about for some reason), I'll step in for a second to argue that "The Wild Honeysuckle" is a pretty significant work of early American poetry that is pretty widely anthologized, and not at all like Father Bombo's Pilgrimage to Mecca, which is a novelty thing which exists only for our amusement (and should never be tossed up, unless it's by Ryan Westbrook and we're in the hypothetical circa-2006.5 Chicago Open finals packets)
Auroni Gupta
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theMoMA
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:26 am

As a further aside, considering that the American lit distribution hasn't been in control of the same person for consecutive MO iterations for quite some time, I think this Freneau trend is just haphazard coincidence. I, for one, have no particular affinity (or lack thereof) for Freneau's work.
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