ACF Regs discussion

Old college threads.
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Post by grapesmoker » Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:08 pm

Regarding the science/humanities difference: I remember taking upper-level courses at Berkeley where we read "The Awakening" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Not books that are wildly outside the canon. I also took a history class where many of the things that came up in this tournament appeared: Metternich, Louis Napoleon, Fashoda, etc. My thinking is that in upper level history/literature classes, you study things more in depth, but you don't necessarily learn new facts about these things.

As for Mike Wehrman's assertion that military history is little studied in college courses, this has not proved true in my (albeit limited) experience. All the history I ever took (all upper-divison courses) had a healthy dollop of military history, in addition to lengthy discussions of various treaties and political figures. All those things are very historical. They also have the various advantage in quizbowl that they have proper names. Social history, while obviously important, doesn't have convenient labels that you can attach to everything and that everyone agrees on, and that makes it difficult from a practical standpoint to write questions on it.
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Post by vandyhawk » Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:30 pm

I wanted to wait to comment until I'd read through the other rounds we didn't get to play on Saturday, which I've now done. As general comments, I thought the tossups were outstanding - very clue dense without dragging on too long, and mostly at the right difficulty level. Bonuses were mostly good, but a little uneven in difficulty at times. I know that's probably the hardest thing to work out in creating a large set, but even though our depth was hurt by not having our strongest #3 and #4 players, there were definitely some swings. Overall, still probably the best set since I've known any better.

For specifics, I thought the bio was good - plenty of variety in appropriate answers, though I thought that neurofibromatosis was a bit tough for a tossup (the fact that I heard Jason read the giveaway as "MF" probably didn't help, but still - is it that important?). Also, I don't like when bonuses about an organ or system, etc. ask for anatomical terms like ampulla of vater that one would really only come across in med school. Can't we ask something more functional that more people would be likely to have studied?

I agree with a lot of the chem comments already made. I don't mind too much that most of the tossups were orgo reactions, given that's what people submitted. It can be hard to come up with good non-orgo tossups, though it would've been nice to have some more variety, and not SN2 followed next round for us by SN1. Agreed again that Cope elimination was too hard for a tossup, and maybe the one on Corey too, though it's quite possible he's more well-known than I'm aware of.

It's harder for me to comment on physics since my knowledge there is not nearly as deep. I think I probably answered about as much as I would normally expect. Plenty of math this time, which sucked since our math guy wasn't there, but I assume it was fine since we were able to get some of it.

I'm glad I looked at the rest of the set, b/c a lot of the more typical answers I expect to come up in social science were buried in the packets we didn't see or in the last couple bonuses of rounds we did play. Definitely needed more psych to balance it out, and I was also sitting there on the Problem of Social Cost problem knowing it was talking about Coase but having no idea what the article was called.

I really enjoyed the fine arts, though maybe a bit much opera? I like opera, but it seemed a little too prevalent (I could be wrong on my recollection though). The only complaint I remember having was a bonus on Tannhauser requiring you to name 2 characters from it, which is kind of a tedious task; maybe a song title or link to another work instead of the second character name? We didn't play on the Debussy question, but I'm guessing Paul would've answered quite quickly.

I did notice a bit much Greco/Roman content in humanities areas. One problematic history question that hasn't been discussed yet (i think) is the Louis XIII tossup from an editors round. We didn't play on it, but as I was reading through, I'm pretty sure his mother and wife are switched, unless I misread it or something. Maybe no one noticed b/c the teams who would have had already answered by the point of the mistake?

Thanks again to all the editors for their hard work.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:44 pm

grapesmoker wrote: As for Mike Wehrman's assertion that military history is little studied in college courses, this has not proved true in my (albeit limited) experience. All the history I ever took (all upper-divison courses) had a healthy dollop of military history, in addition to lengthy discussions of various treaties and political figures. All those things are very historical. They also have the various advantage in quizbowl that they have proper names. Social history, while obviously important, doesn't have convenient labels that you can attach to everything and that everyone agrees on, and that makes it difficult from a practical standpoint to write questions on it.
Moreover, its false to assume that military history will show up only in a history course. It shows up as essential background information/settings for all sorts of art, literature, and music, for instance. And it also comes up a lot in Political Science, especially the study of International Relations. If you want to formulate theories about how states fight wars and interact with each other, you're going to need to know the empirical data as to how they have done so in the past.

The History department here in Chicago is extremely social-based; you can take a class on 19th century American history where you will not hear the words "Andrew Jackson" or "Mexican-American War" even once (and I have), but that doesn't mean you'll escape military history.
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Post by MLafer » Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:14 pm

One problematic history question that hasn't been discussed yet (i think) is the Louis XIII tossup from an editors round. We didn't play on it, but as I was reading through, I'm pretty sure his mother and wife are switched, unless I misread it or something. Maybe no one noticed b/c the teams who would have had already answered by the point of the mistake?
You are absolutely right. Apologies for anyone who negged because of this.

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Post by MikeWormdog » Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:37 pm

All those things are very historical. They also have the various advantage in quizbowl that they have proper names. Social history, while obviously important, doesn't have convenient labels that you can attach to everything and that everyone agrees on, and that makes it difficult from a practical standpoint to write questions on it.
Jerry's right here, which is pretty much what I said. Most of the stuff that comes up in quizbowl is stuff that is covered in an AP European history class in HS or general surveys in college. Or, the AP model is applied to areas not under its scope. This is particularly true in medieval history, where kings and nation-states are overemphasized, to the detriment of church history, for example (just as easily asked about, with people, places, and names), perhaps because it doesn't seem as arbitrarily "historical"-- often, it could fit into several distributional categories.

There are no general science surveys, at least not in the extent that history surveys are general and available to those without pre-requisites. Therefore, science (or at least "real" science knowledge) is generally acquired differently.

Yes, many military events were important in history, but very few upper level couses are devoted to it. Yes, many happenings, pieces of art, literary works, are put into a context of events such as the Mexican War or Congress of Vienna. This only furthers the point that historical stuff can be acquired at a basic level in a number of ways. I don't recall one course where I learned about something happening, "just as Coulomb was finalizing his law."

We've come a long way in this regard: for example, US Civil War battles based on troop movements, advances, retreats, and charges (something definitely not covered in most college Civil War classes) used to come up quite a lot. Now they are pretty rare. The last tournament included a lot of thinkers whose approaches are influential in many historians' work, past and present. Clifford Geertz, bonus parts on gemeinschaft and gesellschaft, to name two that spring to mind. Stuff on historians often comes up as well, in the way stuff on social scientific thinkers comes up. All good things.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:30 pm

Overall, unsurprisingly given the editors and the format, the set was very solid. Bonuses were a tad bit variable in difficulty - a handful of them were run-of-the-mill 30s for experienced teams with a player or two who knew a given subject. Others were probable 10s unless something unexpected happened. But, no big deal. As for skewness in distrib, as has been mentioned, you get burned either way you go with this - use the answers you're given or get blamed for not doing so. Along with minor information repetition, it's a quite minor issue. I didn't find there to be too many organic chem reactions, especially since almost all were off the beaten course (except for Friedel-Crafts). I share the sentiments expressed on the SN1/SN2 debacle and I wonder about the cyclization question and whether it was all that uniquely identifying.


Having said that, here a handful of characterizations of arguments in this post that I find silly...


"I've taken 900 classes on that tossup subject and my grandmother invented it - how dare you beat me to it!"

This argument is particularly indigenous to science majors who are loathe to the suggestion that non-science players (i.e. those who have not logged at least a quarter of their life in a laboratory) might be able to steal questions off of "clues they've remembered." Of course, education and experience are likely to help you a lot...but, when it fails to, it doesn't automatically mean the question is flawed or lacking in "realness"


"Oh, you want the name of that thing? You mean, you actually want what it's called...Wouldn't you be much more pleased if I offered you a discourse on its social and intellectual relevance?"

No, I'd be bored...and, you'd be prompted because it wouldn't be what was listed as a possible answer...and, you'd protest 19 questions a game and lose them all on the grounds that the writers had different conceptions of social value than you. Things have names. The goal is not to buzz in when you've discovered the subject matter that a tossup deals with - "I see, this question is about a concept very important in economics!" Well, that's assumed when the question starts talking about economics, the goal is to remember what that damned thing is called. "The Problem of Social Cost" is quite famous and much more creative than writing yet another tossup on Coase so that people won't have to be burdened with remembering titles..."We don't have to know dates, do we?" The Ampulla of Vater is fantastic simply because it's called the Ampulla of Vater - if you don't see that, there's no way I can explain it. Things given definite and distinct names, especially named after people, are just hospitable to writing questions on...and, a lot more fun than coming up with vague convoluted answers.


Closely related to the above: "Universities have grown weary of facts. They think that military battles are just ritual pe/nis-measuring contests, and would rather focus on case studies of poor farmer peasants and the amount of food that they produce, which is approximately half of what is necessary to keep them alive"

Once again, for the love of the Ampulla of Vater, could someone devise a better standard for measuring the value of answers than whether they "come up" in "advanced undergraduate courses." How about "does it come up in books?" You know, big books, like encyclopedias. Knowledge of history in qb should not reduce itself to a bunch of mini undergrad examinations. Battles are a major way that big changes happen in history...observable changes, in geography/politics/society - usually changes that can be named. If you don't like things with names, see above. We can quite easily assign reasonable subjective values to things like battles instead of turning to the old standby of "hey, my class didn't talk about that" in these discussions.


Lastly, I'm still confused at where the intersection of Guns and Roses/Dylan/Waters/CCR and Lost/Buffy happens...what's the connection here, stuff that level-headed suburban white people are familiar with? (As opposed to a much more common demographic of trash - hip hop et. al).

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Post by grapesmoker » Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:55 pm

Ryan Westbrook wrote:"I've taken 900 classes on that tossup subject and my grandmother invented it - how dare you beat me to it!"

This argument is particularly indigenous to science majors who are loathe to the suggestion that non-science players (i.e. those who have not logged at least a quarter of their life in a laboratory) might be able to steal questions off of "clues they've remembered." Of course, education and experience are likely to help you a lot...but, when it fails to, it doesn't automatically mean the question is flawed or lacking in "realness"
I just want to point out that I don't think anyone has complained about this yet. The science questions were solid; there wasn't a single instance I can remember where I patiently waited for a clue I recognized (instead of negging... sigh) and was still beaten to a physics tossup. That's as it should be. Not that I deserve to get physics questions but that, having spent a lot of time studying it, my knowledge of the subject is somewhat better than that of someone who was studying, say, history. And the questions should (and did) reflect that.
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Post by vandyhawk » Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:12 pm

Ryan, don't forget that The OC was the answer to part of a bonus too... Anyway, I was just curious whether anyone remembers "The Problem of Social Cost" coming up as an answer rather than a clue before. I've become accustomed to answering Coase's theorem rather than the title, so I'm wondering if this counts as "canon expansion" or if we're just bitching about some trivial point and need to move on and/or do this kind of thing more often. Also, just to clarify, I wasn't using ampulla of Vater as another example of "what's the actual name of that thing" like for Coase's article, but rather that it's not a structure/name encountered enough to be worth asking about. Perhaps some disagree, but I just don't see the value there.

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yup

Post by salamanca » Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:09 am

wrote "The Problem of Social Cost" because I read it in the past month for my property class-- always knew from qb that it was Coase's most influential paper and wanted to write a question on it, sorry if it misled some of you all but I stand by the decision-- there are two main works by Coase worth knowing and this is one... kinda fun to read too.

Anyways it seems like folks had fun at the tourney which is a good thing. Hope to see many of you for chicago open.

peace,

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Post by Susan » Fri Feb 10, 2006 12:44 pm

I was just curious about this, since it came up in one of our matches at Regionals: what is the minimally acceptable title for Bruegel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus?

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Post by QuizBowlRonin » Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:17 pm

myamphigory wrote:I was just curious about this, since it came up in one of our matches at Regionals: what is the minimally acceptable title for Bruegel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus?
If I remember correctly, the whole thing (this came up in my room).
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Post by wwellington » Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:09 pm

You definitely needed the whole thing (came up for us too).

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Post by vandyhawk » Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:11 pm

I wrote that one, and I've only ever seen it listed with that full title, so that's what I underlined when I submitted, and whoever edited arts (I'm guessing Chris) didn't see fit to change it. Are you suggesting that "Landscape with the" is unnecessary? I've never seen it shortened, but I suppose it's quite possible some sources may show it that way.

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Post by Susan » Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:14 pm

I've seen it once or twice with "Fall of Icarus" as the acceptable title. I was curious as to whether this was generally accepted.

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Post by Romero » Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:29 pm

I did not edit art, however the issue of appropriate art titles has come up before and to my knowledge has never been agreed upon. I recall one instance where a teammate saw "Sunday Afternoon..." at the Art Institute one afternoon and then was negged the next day when she gave the title under which it was displayed as an answer.

Unlike novels or poems which are published with titles, many art works are not. Instead they are given titles by museums or critics or by the artist later. I am confident that my co-editor relied about quiz bowl "tradition" for that answer; "Landscape with Fall of Icarus" is the most popular quizbowl title of that work.

It is my opinion that for art we should be more accepting of clear knowledge buzzes, particularly in the case of translations. Perhaps we should condense requirements to the absolutely necessary components (Fall of Icarus in this case). But then would Icarus' Fall or The descent of Icarus be acceptable? How far do we go?

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Post by yoda4554 » Fri Feb 10, 2006 3:11 pm

Well, as far as W.H. Auden is concerned, Icarus alone is just fine as unique identification. I'm fairly sure I've seen just The Fall of Icaurs in other quasi-academic contexts. That neg happened in my room as well...

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Post by MikeWormdog » Fri Feb 10, 2006 7:06 pm

As far as I know, The Fall of Icarus is at least as common as Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. The idea that "Landscape" has to be included is dumb...I think the words "Landscape with" come from (or at least became popular because of) the title of a poem about the Brueghel painting by William Carlos Williams, which emphasized the general uncaring attitude towards Icarus in the painting by both Brueghel and the farmers in the foreground--Williams's title was an extension of that mood. If the question were about the WCW poem, then you'd need the whole thing (though I would prompt).

Even without that background, I think "Landscape with" is about as necessary as saying "The Adventures of" on a question about Tom Sawyer

I think partial titles should at least be promptable, especially for lengthy titles and works of art, where there can be many names for the same work (which in many cases, as Chris pointed out, was often left untitled by the artist.) As for Chris's question...I think "Icarus's Fall" might be promptable, but I wouldn't take "Descent"... hopefully no-one would say that.

Another one that comes to mind (and one that came up over the weekend) was Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa/St. Teresa in Ecstasy. I said both titles to be safe but have no idea what the "right quizbowl answer" was in that case.[/i]

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