JS Mill discussion

Old college threads.
Locked
User avatar
Birdofredum Sawin
Rikku
Posts: 400
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2004 11:25 pm
Location: Mountain View

JS Mill discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

I don't know whether anyone has been dying to make any comments about the Mill set, but it's now fair game for criticism. Feel free to dissect your least-favorite tossups, complain about the lack of geography, bewail the answer selection, or say anything you please.

Andrew
User avatar
Skepticism and Animal Feed
Auron
Posts: 3205
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 11:47 pm
Location: Arlington, VA

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

As a dog person, I found myself feeling discriminated against by this particular set of questions.
User avatar
ValenciaQBowl
Auron
Posts: 2442
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Orlando, Florida

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Well, let's see--I praised the question on Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore" in another thread, but I noted a minor error in it, if my memory serves, the pointing out of which will just make Matt Weiner find me even more creepy: the sex act that the girl who stands in as Kafka's symbolic (and maybe real?) sister performs on him involves digital manipulation, not oral.

How's that for critique?

Good lead-in to the "Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" question, with the description of its preceding a story in a collection which is obviously "Chickamauga," allowing someone who teaches said stories to figure out what the question is looking for. Still, not to resurrect an old argument, I find the current vogue for writing all literature toss-ups without titles (at least before the 3rd-4th line tiring. I'm talking about this type: "The author of this 1911 novella also wrote a villanelle in which he suggested that a peasant's breath 'olfacted like a regurgitated turnip.'" (etc.) It's not a bad way to write questions, and let me foreground that for a tournament of this type and difficulty I understand the rationale behind it, but the preponderance of said style does become dizzying at times; some of the less-experienced players at our tournament had a hard time following the pronoun in those, too.

Minor quibbles, though. Oh, and I plan to go out and try to find a video of this "rape rack" for insane rhesus monkeys created by one Harry Harlow. And I thought psychology was dull!
User avatar
Chris Frankel
Rikku
Posts: 369
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2003 12:52 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Chris Frankel »

I liked the tournament a lot and had a good time playing, so keep that in mind when considering my criticisms. History in particular was very well done.

I have to say the answer selection for the music tossups was my chief complaint. I know I've had this exchange with Andrew before in an ACF nats discussion thread, but I really wish there had been more than one tossup that wasn't either "name the composer" or common links (Messiah being the only one, I'm not counting Alceste or Gioconda since they were operas). Rachmaninoff's piano concertos and Bruckner's symphonies were interesting choices, as was The Seasons, and all offered some deep clues, but I really would like to see more music tossups with extensive musical clues. I like being able to recognize Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia from hearing about the sustained E harmonic that opens it or the Pathetique Symphony by hearing about the unusual 5/4 waltz it contains, to use two stock clues. Of course they're more tedious to write, and have evoked some criticism in past discussion threads, but I think they reward listening/playing/studying knowledge as well as or better than the minor opus title memorization that seemed to characterize most of the leadins (I don't necessarily dislike that, but I think the former should be used more often for tossup leadins, with the latter coming into play in bonuses).

Other minor pet peeves: having two "cats" tossups and a bonus on cat breeds seemed overly cutesy (even if they did let us rack up valuable points thanks to Alice), and I found the "name the common figures that appear in some paintings" (skeletons, muses) rather confusing. I did like the Judgment of Paris paintings tossup though, and think that in general with visual art, common links can work better than with music, but again should be the exception and not the rule.
Last edited by Chris Frankel on Mon May 29, 2006 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."
Kilby
Lulu
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:13 pm
Location: Chattanooga, TN Area

Post by Kilby »

I was disappointed in the complete lack of computer science questions. I know that this category is usually relegated to the fringe of the distribution since most people don't take anything past a computer literacy course in college, but I was hoping that since this was a masters tournament that there would be questions on more detailed items from the field (or at least something with difficulty on par with the "parsing" toss-up at ACF Regionals).
User avatar
setht
Auron
Posts: 1189
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 2:41 pm
Location: Columbus, Ohio

Post by setht »

Kilby wrote:I was disappointed in the complete lack of computer science questions. I know that this category is usually relegated to the fringe of the distribution since most people don't take anything past a computer literacy course in college, but I was hoping that since this was a masters tournament that there would be questions on more detailed items from the field (or at least something with difficulty on par with the "parsing" toss-up at ACF Regionals).
I wrote 1/1 computer science for the set: a "greedy algorithms" tossup and a "lambda calculus/Church/halting problem" bonus. Perhaps you didn't hear them, or they sucked and you've repressed the memories. I think most people don't take a computer literacy course in college; feel free to start a new thread if you want to discuss this further.

While I'm at it, I will also note for Bruce's benefit that there was a dog question in the set--the "black dogs in myth" bonus.

-Seth
Kilby
Lulu
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:13 pm
Location: Chattanooga, TN Area

Post by Kilby »

setht wrote:
Kilby wrote:I was disappointed in the complete lack of computer science questions. I know that this category is usually relegated to the fringe of the distribution since most people don't take anything past a computer literacy course in college, but I was hoping that since this was a masters tournament that there would be questions on more detailed items from the field (or at least something with difficulty on par with the "parsing" toss-up at ACF Regionals).
I wrote 1/1 computer science for the set: a "greedy algorithms" tossup and a "lambda calculus/Church/halting problem" bonus. Perhaps you didn't hear them, or they sucked and you've repressed the memories. I think most people don't take a computer literacy course in college; feel free to start a new thread if you want to discuss this further.

While I'm at it, I will also note for Bruce's benefit that there was a dog question in the set--the "black dogs in myth" bonus.

-Seth
The bonus you speak of was in one of the packets that was not played at the mirror. I really don't remember the greedy algorithm toss-up. I'm assuming it wasn't due to suckage, but rather it being in one of those unplayed packets or that the Florida heat knocked me unconscious for that question (no offense to the Valencia folks who did all they could to keep players cool with their unlimited supply of cold beverages).
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by grapesmoker »

I thought the tournament was overall of very high quality. I can't think of anything off the top of my head that was wrong with the questions. I disagree a little with Matt's assertion, made in the announcement thread, that this should be the level of Nationals; I thought this tournament was a little too easy for a national event.

One comment which I have is mostly a stylistic issue, but it involves the way that many of the literature questions in this event seemed to be written. In particular, many of the literature questions were on specific authors and covered a wide range of their work, beginning (obviously) with the most obscure. I personally tend to favor questions on major works rather than the authors of those works; this is a selfish preference, since I have a much higher chance of being familiar with a major work of even a minor author than with all the minor works of even a major author.

But this is really a minor point and in truth did not actually detract from a very enjoyable tournament in any way. Also, thanks to Eric for putting together MATTE, which was also a lot of fun.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
MCDoug
Rikku
Posts: 363
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2003 9:56 am
Location: Gainesville, FL

Post by MCDoug »

As I've said in another thread already, I really enjoyed the questions. Someone might want to take a picture of this, but I agree with Matt about the difficulty level. The questions were long enough so that all of you smart people would get them early, and they were on topics that most novice players should know or at least have heard before, so they could still get them.
That being said, there were quite a few comments going around at the mirror about the prevelance of anal sex in a few of the rounds. I'm not saying it doesn't have a place in the quizbowl cannon, but does it need to come up in multiple questions/rounds? Also, and maybe this was just because these ones stuck out in my mind, but were there a lot of references to appendices and prefaces in the lit tossups? I thought the math tossups and bonuses were great--bounded, ideals, simple, Zorn's Lemma, etc.--all highly enjoyable. Lastly, dogs are better than cats, so there should be more dog questions than cat questions (but maybe this would be better discussed in another thread).
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by grapesmoker »

Had you played a MATTE mirror, you would have had a whole sodomy-themed round.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1232
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Yeah, I'm really sorry my theme packet couldn't enhance your anal discomfort, as it were.

Anyway, as for difficulty - outside of some outliers like Henry Rider Haggard, the tossup selection was really super easy, barely regionals level I'd say. The bonuses were on a much harder level I think. It seems to me that this is the exact difficulty level you get when you try your hardest to make a tourney simultaneously very accessible to all players and very agreeable to elite players. I'm not saying that's a good or a bad thing - for me it's not an optimal difficulty level, but it is the one that's most feasible if you want your tourney to be "accessible". The idea being that very few tossups go dead, and most teams can squeeze 10 out of every bonus. The trade-off is that writing these types of tossups forces you to be creative - so that the answers are not super-canonical and yet are still giveawayable - so you end up with theme tossups, etc. (bats and dogs). Sometimes when you do write on things that are super-canonical, you do it in very circuitous ways so as not to use stock clues etc. and you end up with questions like "the father of the wife of the best friend of this mythological figure blah blah blah." Again, these are not good or bad things, just what happens - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

In conclusion, this was certainly a very well written tournament; maybe I'll comment in more detail as I leaf through some packets. But, I don't necessarily agree that it's the optimal difficulty level of open tourneys, and certainly not of a nationals event.
Locked