Sun n Fun Discussion

Old college threads.
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Sun n Fun Discussion

Post by wd4gdz »

In my opinion, most of the packets were good enough. However, there was 1-2 that kinda sucked. I'm hesitant to blame Ahmad for anything, since I was told only two packets were received before Monday. Yikes.

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Wait nrrrrrr. Im fucking retarded.
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Post by Gonzagapuma1 »

Wait. I would say that about 2/3 of the packets had 8-10 completely unanswerable questions and some of the questions you could actually get were terrible. For example, the battle of chancellorsville was a horrible tossup. Some questions were good but the bonuses also had wildly different difficulties although that may have just been that some bonuses were just completely impossible while others you could 10.

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Post by Matt Weiner »

I'm all for greater integration and people challenging themselves, but perhaps I can politely suggest that high school students are not the best gauge of what's impossible in a tournament advertised as a summer open? Just a thought from someone who has not yet seen the packets.

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Post by wd4gdz »

We played ten rounds. I did the math, and seven out of the ten rounds had an average of 15-17 tossups answer per round, which I think is reasonable. Furthermore, the rounds written by UF and FSU were not played, although I'm fairly certain that those rounds would have been in the 15-17 range as well.

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Post by Gonzagapuma1 »

Matt Weiner wrote:I'm all for greater integration and people challenging themselves, but perhaps I can politely suggest that high school students are not the best gauge of what's impossible in a tournament advertised as a summer open? Just a thought from someone who has not yet seen the packets.
I completely agree wth you. I'm not a good gauge but when the two, very good finals teams got 4 tossups out of 10 on a half-packet I personally think that the apcket was to hard.

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Post by Mike Bentley »

Matt Weiner wrote:I'm all for greater integration and people challenging themselves, but perhaps I can politely suggest that high school students are not the best gauge of what's impossible in a tournament advertised as a summer open? Just a thought from someone who has not yet seen the packets.
Coming from someone who has seen more of the college circuit, I'd have to agree that the packets were harder than advertised. I think "8-10 tossups going dead" per packet is an exageration, but it seemed that in most of the packets that there were several really out there tossups that probably didn't belong in a set aimed at this level.

The bigger problem was the difficulty of the bonuses. There was far too much fluctuation amongst the bonuses in the weaker packets, with some being easy 20s or 30s and others having no discernable easy part.

Also, by my count there was exactly 0/1 computer science (and a computer engineering bonus) in this tournament. And that bonus was one I wrote... Yeah...

But I do recognize that packets were sent in late, which is always a problem and results in not as refined tournaments. And there were also some very good packets in this tournament. It's just a shame that not all of them were at that level.
Last edited by Mike Bentley on Sun Jul 01, 2007 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by DumbJaques »

These questions were absolutely horrible. I understand due to all of our collective slacking, the editor was in a bit of a bind, but that doesn't change the fact that the questions were really, really bad. I'm going to try to be constructive with this, so here it goes:

Difficulty:

This tournament advertised itself as "Fall to Regionals." The difficulty was all over the fucking place round to round, but the one thing it didn't hit was that (with the exception of 2-3 packets). Our 2 half games for the final series were somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-20 and 70-25. I think the major problem with difficulty can mostly be attributed to. . .

Answer Selection:
This is the primary reason the set was horrible. It seemed to me as if, other than Jerry (whose packet was on the hard side, but not guilty of this), people were completely oblivious as to what you should have tossups on (and, more disturbingly, what you can have bonuses on) versus things that are absurd to ask about. Bonuses actually reminded me of the joke bonus Ahmad put in the original post to demonstrate formating. In fact, I would welcome tossups on the Behistun Inscription and the Stadion rather than the questions we heard. Matt, Dan is right. It isn't about him being a high schooler. 7+ tossups per round, on average, were unanswerable. Not because they were hard, but because they were on shit that just should not be an answer, ever. The stuff that was legit was either poorly written, transparent, or in one glaring case clearly missing the giveaway line. In terms of stuff being too hard, I think a good example is the tossup on the hairy ball theorem at acf nationals. There was a tossup on the Poincare-Hopf equation or whatever that is somehow related to deriving the hairy ball theorem at this tournament. I believe P-H was a lead-in or middle clue in the acf nationals tossup. While I do believe that crosses the line for acf fall - regional difficulty, questions that were too difficulty but on stuff that could reasonably be expected to be a bonus part at acf nationals or something weren't even the problem.

At many times, I felt as if I had stumbled into a Canadian hybrid tournament with slightly less Canadiana. Tossups would go dead between decent enough teams in stretches of fours and fives. It wasn't just the "wow, that's hard as balls" factor, it was the fact that the answer selection was absolutely absurd. Maybe someone with packets in front of them will post the more ridiculous ones, but right now I do recall a tiebreaker that was thankfully not read on "Richard McBeef," Cho Sueng Hui's second best known dramatic work. I know that's a tiebreaker, but having that as a tiebreaker is hilarious in and of itself because it's got to have about a 1% conversion rate. Basically, this tournament consisted of a few transparent tossups, a few tossups that were just way too hard in terms of answer selection and sometimes clues, and many tossups on absolutely ridiculous things. Bonuses also featured many ridiculous things, but their primary problem was how much they varied (given that most teams would pull down a very limited number of tossups, which bonuses you got really ended up being the difference maker). Bonuses seemed to be either easy 30s, ridiculous 10s, the occasionally "haha, enjoy your 20 points, you dicks," and the aforementioned ridiculous answer selection ("Name the technical term for the memory process that occurs when you can't remember the answer to a tossup. ANSWER: Forgetting").

I was informed that the UMD packet seemed somewhat edited and made harder and more craptacular, but if people actually think it's ok to submit tossups on Richard McBeef, then blaming Ahmad is pretty misguided (his packets seemed solid enough, too). Where the christ in the distribution does Richard McBeef go, anyway? If someone put it in literature, they should be castrated.

In conclusion, the problems with this tournament were many and numerous, and will be made apparent to anyone who reads the packets (or hears the answer selection). Most people seemed to be completely unsure about difficulty level, with Jerry submitting what I assume was, originally, an appropriate regionals level packet and others sending in what looked like a (miserably failed) attempt at writing nationals questions. Consistency in any form (except the 5 or 6 answers that were going dead everywhere) was nowhere to be found in this question set, and immediately after playing on it, I poured a substantial amount of bleach into my ear in an attempt to purge it from my memory.

EDIT: Haha, I got the packets, here are some of my favorite tossup answers!
-Helene Cixous
-Cindy Sherman
-The Empire of Elam (no Broncos kicker giveaway, even!)
-Michiko Kakatuni
-Heike Onnes
-Constantine Cavafy
-Rexism
-Metallocene
-Richard Serra
-Theater of the Opressed



Oh, did I mention those were all from the same packet? No? Sorry, must be the bleach. All these went dead in my room, and if more than 2 of them were converted in any one room I'll be very surprised.

Also, these were fun (from various packets):
-Satyajit Ray
-Ziegler-Natta Catalysts (Oh Jerry, how you spoil us)
-Beethoven's Opus 61
-KTS, Casey Martin's congenital defect
-Gamelan, an Indonesian instrument
-The Jomon Period
-Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Whitman
-Cerberus Capital Management co. (guess what the giveaway was lolz)
-Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke
-Plum Island
-Towards a New Architecture
-Rheology
-Aristaeus
-A tossup whose answer was "the Ghetto" and had the giveaway of ftp name this place whose code can be seen in movies like boys in the hood." No, it wasn't a music "names the same" question, it was a sociology question.
-The looking-glass self
-Tawaret, the Egyptian hippo god
-The Vinegar Tasters (what?)
-Gini Coefficient
-An Acetylcholine tossup whose clues and giveaway were so poor that nobody in the finals was able to get it despite it being on ACETYLCHOLINE
-Imines
-John Vanbrugh
-Quantum harmonic oscillators
-Thomas Schelling
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Last edited by DumbJaques on Sun Jul 01, 2007 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by kactigger »

I think the tournament, logistically at least, went very well, and Ahmad did a very good job running the tournament at USF.
I find the complaints about the difficulty of the tournament strange- the difficulty struck me as being perfectly reasonable, and I thought the majority of the questions were well-written and pyramidal. Admittedly, I did not hear the Richard McBeef question, and a couple of the packets were sketchy, but overall I think the questions weren't as bad as is being made out here. The packets Ahmad contributed were very good, and the packet Jerry submitted- the tossups were well-written, but it had the most difficult bonuses of the tournament. The bonus difficulty was uneven, but I don't really remember any easy 30's, though it wasn't so difficult to get 10 or 20 most of the time.
In the rounds among the top 3 teams at USF 16, 19, 16, and 16 tossups were answered, and that seems fairly reasonable. This is the first I've played in 2 years, but I was very shocked by the responses from the Maryland players- that's not at all the reactions we had.

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Post by wd4gdz »

Most of the ones you listed sucked, but here are ones I disagree with:

Ziegler-Natta is completely gettable. In a 2006 ACF Fall packet by Sorice, it was in a bonus along with polymerization and copolymers.

Gamelan? piece of cake

Plum Island = stupid tossup, but filled with stupid clues you could get it on

Acetylcholine: this one had a billion good clues in it, so sorry you're not a science player and couldn't get it with some stupid giveaway

Imines, a functional group, standard ochem2 material

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Post by DumbJaques »

but I don't really remember any easy 30's
Dude, how you can claim that the tossups were almost entirely answerable and that there weren't any easy 30s is beyond me. You are free to compare the list I just edited into my previous post with these few examples:


6. Answer the following about supply side economics, FTPE:
[10] Used to illustrate the concept of taxable income elasticity, this curve, central to the practice of supply side economics, is a plot of tax rate versus government tax revenue.
ANSWER: Laffer curve
[10]Deriving from a similarly named marketing phenomenon concerning the falling cost of new technology or fashion items over time, this term emphasizes the “what’s good for big business is good for the individual,â€
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Post by magin »

After seeing the list of supposedly ridiculous answers posted by Chris, I'd like to say that
-Helene Cixous
-Cindy Sherman
-Michiko Kakatuni
-Heike Onnes
-Constantine Cavafy
-Satyajit Ray
-Ziegler-Natta Catalysts
-Beethoven's Opus 61
-Gamelan, an Indonesian instrument
-The Jomon Period
-Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Whitman
-Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke
-Towards a New Architecture
-Aristaeus
-A tossup whose answer was "the Ghetto" and had the giveaway of ftp name this place whose code can be seen in movies like boys in the hood." No, it wasn't a music "names the same" question, it was a sociology question.
-The Vinegar Tasters
-Gini Coefficient
-John Vanbrugh
-Quantum harmonic oscillators
-Thomas Schelling

all seem like reasonable things to ask about at a summer tournament for college players. Yeah, some of these answers are harder than ACF Regionals difficulty, but they mostly seem like they came from the existing answerspace rather than from nowhere. I also haven't seen the packets, but if these are the most difficult questions the tournament doesn't seem like it was super-difficult.

Just to clarify, many of the above answers wouldn't be accessible tossups, but would certainly be fine middle/hard parts of bonuses, which is why I thought they were reasonable.
Last edited by magin on Sun Jul 01, 2007 10:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by BuzzerZen »

I think the only way anyone would know The Vinegar Tasters would be if you had read The Tao of Pooh (which I had, but botched the name of the thing). From that one fantastic round, our room converted only Constantine Cavafy, on the givaway.
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Post by vandyhawk »

DumbJaques wrote: -Ziegler-Natta Catalysts (Oh Jerry, how you spoil us)
-Gini Coefficient
-Imines
-Quantum harmonic oscillators
These answers seem fairly reasonable - perhaps a bit on the hard side, but not too out of line. Some others, like Gamelan, have no business being a tossup but could work as a hard part of a bonus, and some seem like they shouldn't even be anywhere in a packet. Did people really submit tossups on these things? I'm assuming Ahmad faced the same problems all first-time editors do, like grossly underestimating how much time editing takes and how bad most submissions are. Not that that should really be a valid excuse, but it certainly is understandable.

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Post by DumbJaques »

Acetylcholine: this one had a billion good clues in it, so sorry you're not a science player and couldn't get it with some stupid giveaway
Aside from the fact that you're making an assumption about me personally (an incorrect one in this specific context since I'm a decent enough bio player and know enough to get a good giveaway on most tossupable neurotransmitters), nobody in the room got this one during the finals. Also, it did not have a "billion good clues in it," it had some decent first and second clues and 3 lines of obtuse meandering, and ended with it noting that it's found in ganglia. To point out how much of a douche comment that was, I also know enough about Acetylcholine to improvise a final two lines of a tossup on the spot, and none of those clues got mentioned in there.
Ziegler-Natta is completely gettable. In a 2006 ACF Fall packet by Sorice, it was in a bonus along with polymerization and copolymers.
I don't really roll like that, so I have no idea whether it's too hard or not. I won't try to make a logical argument that it isn't, but many things that are third parts in ACF Fall are still not appropriate tossup answers at a fall-regional tournament. I don't think your argument for its legitimacy holds much water, regardless of whether it's askable in this context or not.
Plum Island = stupid tossup, but filled with stupid clues you could get it on
Uh, yeah, I got that one off of the "doctor from Clue" thing. In case you didn't read my post, I was pointing out terrible ANSWER SELECTION. Tossing in a "shares its name with this random pop culture/history/lit thing that has balls to do with the actual thing" doesn't make an answer selection better, and is usually a pretty decent marker that it's problematic.

Imines, a functional group, standard ochem2 material
Again, whatever, I don't know anything about functional groups, but I've heard lots of them come up in quizbowl and seen lots of them answered correctly at various points by various players. I will go ahead and submit that, of the functional groups that make a good tossup answer at this level, Imines should be pretty far down the list. As for your reasoning, Prime Minister Lin Xexu will be covered extensively in an Asian history class that spends more than 2 minutes on the Opium Wars. He doesn't make a good tossup.
Just to clarify, many of the above answers wouldn't be accessible tossups, but would certainly be fine middle/hard parts of bonuses, which is why I thought they were reasonable.
Well, yeah, but they were tossups. And for some of them, it isn't necessarily about how hard they are (although most of them are hard/obscure/random), but that you could find a closely related thing and construct a much better tossup (see: Hairy Ball, which is hard enough anyway). In any event, this was only one fraction of the problems with the questions (albeit a pretty significant one).
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Post by kactigger »

Dude, how you can claim that the tossups were almost entirely answerable and that there weren't any easy 30s is beyond me. You are free to compare the list I just edited into my previous post with these few examples:
We didn't hear any of those bonuses. We played ten rounds, so there were several that went unheard, and it may be that had we heard every round, I'd think differently. But in the 10 rounds we heard, I don't remember any easy 30's.
-Satyajit Ray
-Ziegler-Natta Catalysts (Oh Jerry, how you spoil us)
-Beethoven's Opus 61
-KTS, Casey Martin's congenital defect
-Gamelan, an Indonesian instrument
-The Jomon Period
-Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Whitman
-Cerberus Capital Management co. (guess what the giveaway was lolz)
-Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke
-Plum Island
-Towards a New Architecture
-Rheology
-Aristaeus
-A tossup whose answer was "the Ghetto" and had the giveaway of ftp name this place whose code can be seen in movies like boys in the hood." No, it wasn't a music "names the same" question, it was a sociology question.
-The looking-glass self
-Tawaret, the Egyptian hippo god
-The Vinegar Tasters (what?)
-Gini Coefficient
-An Acetylcholine tossup whose clues and giveaway were so poor that nobody in the finals was able to get it despite it being on ACETYLCHOLINE
-Imines
-John Vanbrugh
-Quantum harmonic oscillators
-Thomas Schelling
As far as I can tell, a minimum of 18 of these were answered by either my team or our opponent. Overall these are fairly difficult, certainly, but not absurdly so, and I've heard of all of them at some point, and clearly remember tossups on the non-science ones. The Towards a New Architecture question was particularly well-written and conceived.

Haha, I got the packets, here are some of my favorite tossup answers!
-Helene Cixous
-Cindy Sherman
-The Empire of Elam (no Broncos kicker giveaway, even!)
-Michiko Kakatuni
-Heike Onnes
-Constantine Cavafy
-Rexism
-Metallocene
-Richard Serra
-Theater of the Opressed
The Theatre of the Oppressed was the only one to go unanswered when we played this pack. Kakatuni, Kammerlingh Onnes (a neglected quizbowl topic, and I say this not just because I used to have an office in the building in Leiden where he did his experiments) Cavafy, and Rexism were all answered particularly early. They may be difficult, but they didn't go dead among a group of experienced players.

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Post by wd4gdz »

6. It must be administered intra-ocularly to induce mydriasis because otherwise a corneal esterase metabolizes it before it can diffuse into the eye. The enzyme that usually breaks down this compound can be irreversibly inactivated by organophosphates or carbamates, but myasthenia gravis can be treated by temporarily delaying its degradation. It binds to two types of receptors, one ionotropic and stimulated by nicotine, the other metabotropic and stimulated by muscarine. The nicotinic receptors are usually peripheral and can be found at neuromuscular junctions, while the muscarinic ones tend to be related to the parasympathetic nervous system. FTP, name this neurotransmitter broken down by its namesake esterase, usually formed by an acetyltransferase acting on its constituents and found in all autonomic ganglia.
ANSWER: acetylcholine

This tossup is about a neurotransmitter and it has the word acetyltransferase in it. I wonder what it could be?

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Post by Jeremy Gibbs Lemma »

vanbrugh is definitely reasonable since I know about him and I am not good at this.

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Post by DumbJaques »

This tossup is about a neurotransmitter and it has the word acetyltransferase in it. I wonder what it could be?
Aside from dodging all the rest of that post where I challenged your nonsensical justification for your arguments, I attribute that particular effect to people not really believing that an acetylcholine tossup would leave out all of best-known facts and functions of acetylcholine and just say "acetyltransferase" in it. Also, that giveaway still blows, still omits all chief acetylcholine facts, and is all the more poorly constructed because it says "acetyltransferase" and leaves a player used to good questions reluctant to buzz because good questions don't say the answer in the giveaway.
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Post by wd4gdz »

What exactly are these supposed great clues for acetylcholine that were left out?

In my opinion, Ziegler-Natta was not the hard part of the bonus. It was the middle part. Generally, middle parts of bonuses make good tossups, when applicable, like right here.

I brought up Plum Island because I thought that went under the category "All these went dead in my room, and if more than 2 of them were converted in any one room I'll be very surprised. " My bad.

Bring on the Prime Minister Lin Xexu!!! If a person/event is studied a lot in class, and isn't something like "peasants of 16th century Russia," why is it not a good tossup answer?

Furthermore, what made the A.E. Housman bonus part so easy? I suck, I know, but was it "The Invention of Love" mention or the poem mention?

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Post by Mr. Kwalter »

Kentb426 wrote:vanbrugh is definitely reasonable since I know about him and I am not good at this.
As has been done repeatedly before, I will here caution against this reasoning, as having a limited knowledge base does not mean all things in said knowledge base are easy. Just about every experienced writer on here learned that the hard way.

In my opinion, John Vanbrugh, however awesome he may have been, is not an acceptable tossup answer at anything lower than ACF Nationals. While he's no Helene Cixous, a tossup on him at this tournament is completely ridiculous.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter »

kactigger wrote:
Dude, how you can claim that the tossups were almost entirely answerable and that there weren't any easy 30s is beyond me. You are free to compare the list I just edited into my previous post with these few examples:
We didn't hear any of those bonuses. We played ten rounds, so there were several that went unheard, and it may be that had we heard every round, I'd think differently. But in the 10 rounds we heard, I don't remember any easy 30's.
-Satyajit Ray
-Ziegler-Natta Catalysts (Oh Jerry, how you spoil us)
-Beethoven's Opus 61
-KTS, Casey Martin's congenital defect
-Gamelan, an Indonesian instrument
-The Jomon Period
-Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Whitman
-Cerberus Capital Management co. (guess what the giveaway was lolz)
-Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke
-Plum Island
-Towards a New Architecture
-Rheology
-Aristaeus
-A tossup whose answer was "the Ghetto" and had the giveaway of ftp name this place whose code can be seen in movies like boys in the hood." No, it wasn't a music "names the same" question, it was a sociology question.
-The looking-glass self
-Tawaret, the Egyptian hippo god
-The Vinegar Tasters (what?)
-Gini Coefficient
-An Acetylcholine tossup whose clues and giveaway were so poor that nobody in the finals was able to get it despite it being on ACETYLCHOLINE
-Imines
-John Vanbrugh
-Quantum harmonic oscillators
-Thomas Schelling
As far as I can tell, a minimum of 18 of these were answered by either my team or our opponent. Overall these are fairly difficult, certainly, but not absurdly so, and I've heard of all of them at some point, and clearly remember tossups on the non-science ones. The Towards a New Architecture question was particularly well-written and conceived.

Haha, I got the packets, here are some of my favorite tossup answers!
-Helene Cixous
-Cindy Sherman
-The Empire of Elam (no Broncos kicker giveaway, even!)
-Michiko Kakatuni
-Heike Onnes
-Constantine Cavafy
-Rexism
-Metallocene
-Richard Serra
-Theater of the Opressed
The Theatre of the Oppressed was the only one to go unanswered when we played this pack. Kakatuni, Kammerlingh Onnes (a neglected quizbowl topic, and I say this not just because I used to have an office in the building in Leiden where he did his experiments) Cavafy, and Rexism were all answered particularly early. They may be difficult, but they didn't go dead among a group of experienced players.
What?

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Post by kactigger »

In my opinion, John Vanbrugh, however awesome he may have been, is not an acceptable tossup answer at anything lower than ACF Nationals. While he's no Helene Cixous, a tossup on him at this tournament is completely ridiculous.
That may be true, but Aaron Kashtan still got it very early- after a couple of clues, and 2 players on my team would have gotten it later, though still before the giveaway.

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Post by Jeremy Gibbs Lemma »

If you have taken a class on Baroque art or possibly even Restoration comedies if there is such a class.... then it would work, I guess.

I learned about him in Baroque Art which is a 300-level class at my school. Blenheim was one of the examples we used in comparison to Versailles. But I am assuming now that this isn't taught in many classes or something if you don't consider it tossup material. It is just something I took away from that class without even studying too much.

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

[quote="DumbJaques]
-Michiko Kakatuni
-Beethoven's Opus 61
-Gamelan, an Indonesian instrument
[/quote]
I know I haven't seen these particular tossups, but I can explain why all 3 of them are answerable (or if not, should be).

Michiko Kakutani is truly one of the most well known literary critics of the modern age. Not quite as much as Harold Bloom, but she has still has influenced modern lit. She is also notable for having possibly the most vitriolic pen of any respected critic, and she was (in a much less important vein, and certainly not something that will warrant a quizbowl tossup) featured prominently in Sex and the City. Like I said, that's not a reason to make a tossup about her, but everything else (including her Pulitzer, etc.) does, IMO.

Beethoven's Opus 61 is his Violin Concerto in D Major. It is a tremendous musical accomplishment that is one of the most important violin concertos ever (it was really influential on basically every other violin concerto written afterwards, including Mendelssohn's). In a related vein, for any true violinist mastering Beethoven's concerto is almost always a major milestone in their career.

Gamelans. That's gettable. It is also important. It is an Indonesian (esp Balinese) music that is based around the Gamelan gong systems. Debussy was very influenced by seeing a gamelan performance in Paris, and he is considered to have emulated the style, especially in his use of the whole tone scale. According to wikipedia, other composers influenced by gamelans are Bartok, Poulenc, Britten, and Messaien (huh, those all sound like big names), along with countless contemporary composers, including Phillip Glass and Steve Reich (if you don't know Steve Reich, go out and buy the absolutely badass "Different Trains" recorded by the Kronos Quartet. He's a big name with musicians, not so much otherwise). I knew what gamelan was when I was like 6. It's important in the musical culture.

I don't know enough about the rest to comment, and I haven't seen the questions. But I'll throw out what I can say.
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Post by Sima Guang Hater »

wd4gdz wrote: This tossup is about a neurotransmitter and it has the word acetyltransferase in it. I wonder what it could be?
Serotonin.

This question has some chesnuts in it (Jerry beat me to a buzz on it on "Myasthenia Gravis" at practice, and the nicotinic and muscarinic receptors are pretty well known), and I'm pretty sure the most well-known fact about it is that its released at the neuromuscular junction. Other than that, that question is really poorly written. It has esterase in the first line, and that's repeated over and over, and the middle two clues are just repeats of each other; the clue density is almost zero. But that's not the point.

Seeing as I fancy myself as an amateur biologist, my view will be a little skewed. I'm curious - Chris, what do you consider "well-known" things about Acetylcholine? I'm trying to find out what kinds of things non-scientists would buzz in on.

-Satyajit Ray
-Ziegler-Natta Catalysts (Oh Jerry, how you spoil us)
-Beethoven's Opus 61
-KTS, Casey Martin's congenital defect
-Gamelan, an Indonesian instrument
-The Jomon Period
-Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Whitman
-Cerberus Capital Management co. (guess what the giveaway was lolz)
-Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke
-Plum Island
-Towards a New Architecture
-Rheology
-Aristaeus
-A tossup whose answer was "the Ghetto" and had the giveaway of ftp name this place whose code can be seen in movies like boys in the hood." No, it wasn't a music "names the same" question, it was a sociology question.
-The looking-glass self
-Tawaret, the Egyptian hippo god
-The Vinegar Tasters (what?)
-Gini Coefficient
-An Acetylcholine tossup whose clues and giveaway were so poor that nobody in the finals was able to get it despite it being on ACETYLCHOLINE
-Imines
-John Vanbrugh
-Quantum harmonic oscillators
-Thomas Schelling
[\quote]

Wow, just wow. Noted obscure Rilke work "Archaic Torso of Apollo"? Are you fucking kidding me? And what's a Gamelan? And I agree with Chris, a tossup on Imines is definitely harder than regionals level, considering they exist mainly as intermediates. And I've never heard of KTS before looking it up just now. I'd barely get half of the answers here (not that that's a very good standard), and I'd only get Ray because I'm the token Indian on the team.

A lot of these tossup answers could have been converted into much more gettable ones just by using the answer as a clue ("Architecture" to "Le Corbusier" for example). The only ones that are reasonable are Quantum Harmonic Oscillators, Pioneers, and maybe Jomon for this level, in my humble opinion.

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Post by grapesmoker »

While I'm refraining from commenting on other things because I'm trying to avoid reading the set to preserve it for practice play, I just want to note a couple things. Ziegler-Natta catalysts are, as far as I can tell, well-enough known by people with some chemistry knowledge. Gini coefficient is also something that has come up many times in many different packets. Quantum harmonic oscillators are one of the canonical systems studied in first-semester quantum. That doesn't make any of those things trivially easy, but they are sufficiently well known to be tossup answers.

Some of this other stuff is pretty wack though. I'll maybe say something about that later.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Gonzagapuma1 wrote: I completely agree wth you. I'm not a good gauge but when the two, very good finals teams got 4 tossups out of 10 on a half-packet I personally think that the apcket was to hard.
After seeing some of the packets I have to say your original post was on the money. This set is a prime example of people just writing on whatever they feel like without giving any thought to either canonicity or outright difficulty for the people playing the questions.

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Post by Sima Guang Hater »

wd4gdz wrote:In my opinion, Ziegler-Natta was not the hard part of the bonus. It was the middle part. Generally, middle parts of bonuses make good tossups, when applicable, like right here.
That's probably true, but Ziegler-Natta catalysts come up a lot in quizbowl. Its not something that one would learn in a basic chemistry class; I only knew about them because a teammate beat me to it at some point.
wd4gdz wrote:Bring on the Prime Minister Lin Xexu!!! If a person/event is studied a lot in class, and isn't something like "peasants of 16th century Russia," why is it not a good tossup answer?
Because its not something that comes up enough in a quizbowl context to warrant a tossup on it without introducing it at the thirty part of a bonus first. And Lin Xexu isn't famous for much else other than the Opium wars. To give another example, we spent about two weeks on the Sylow theorems in abstract algebra, and they would have probably gone dead at this tournament too (though they've probably come up before).
wd4gdz wrote:Furthermore, what made the A.E. Housman bonus part so easy? I suck, I know, but was it "The Invention of Love" mention or the poem mention?
"When I was one and twenty" is a really common giveaway for "A Shropshire Lad".

More comments after I hear the questions in practice.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter »

charlieDfromNKC wrote:Michiko Kakutani is truly one of the most well known literary critics of the modern age. Not quite as much as Harold Bloom, but she has still has influenced modern lit. She is also notable for having possibly the most vitriolic pen of any respected critic, and she was (in a much less important vein, and certainly not something that will warrant a quizbowl tossup) featured prominently in Sex and the City. Like I said, that's not a reason to make a tossup about her, but everything else (including her Pulitzer, etc.) does, IMO.
I can conceive of no academic tournament for which Michiko Kakutani would be an appropriate tossup answer.

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Post by SnookerUSF »

My initial reaction and comments:
vandyhawk wrote: These answers seem fairly reasonable - perhaps a bit on the hard side, but not too out of line. Some others, like Gamelan, have no business being a tossup but could work as a hard part of a bonus, and some seem like they shouldn't even be anywhere in a packet. Did people really submit tossups on these things? I'm assuming Ahmad faced the same problems all first-time editors do, like grossly underestimating how much time editing takes and how bad most submissions are. Not that that should really be a valid excuse, but it certainly is understandable.
You are right, Matt, not an excuse at all. It seems that the one aspect you pay the least attention to is the one aspect that is the most vexing. I thought as an editor that the major concerns would be pyramidality, transparency, clue-density and grammar. It seems answer-space and difficulty were the Achilles heel of these packets. I think I failed to reign in some of the more uncommon answers, and for that all I can do is make the next set more even. Nevertheless, I intentionally left some answers in that some have commented are too difficult as an attempt, wrong-minded as it may turn out to be, to change, modify, expand the canon.

Some of those answers that have come up in the discussion include:
Helene Cixous (her along with Kristeva and Irigaray are much more relevant to Current philosophical trends in literary criticsms, critical theory, feminist thought, and I would argue philosophy in general than some British empiricists of the Enlightenment of which NAQT seems to be particularly fond)
Cindy Sherman (If I am to be crucified on the untitled films stills of cindy sherman than so be it)
Cavafy (really? Is that legitimately too hard to ask as a tossup)
Satyajit Ray (one of the most critically reviewed directors in Asia outside of Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke)) The Apu Trilogy is amazing.
Towards a New Architecture (This is famous, end of story, other than Palladio's Four Books on Architecture I can't think of something that comes close to this architectural manifesto, I am so glad someone wrote a tossup on this)
Ziegler-Natta(In the few years I have played this game I must have lost at least 100 points on not knowing this answer)

You know I really wanted to take out the Gamelan tossup, but I actually received two Gamelan questions, one as the tossup and one as a bonus part. I thought well, if two different teams decided to write on this, who am I to say that it shouldn't be included.

The one packet in which all of those most egregious answers occurred, was received late. I should have been much more strict, but it was from a teammate of mine, and I did not want to burst his bubble. I definitely deserve a beating for that one.
DumbJacques wrote: ...which bonuses you got really ended up being the difference maker. Bonuses seemed to be either easy 30s, ridiculous 10s, the occasionally "haha, enjoy your 20 points, you dicks,"
What bonuses you get are usually the difference maker, no? Unless you dominate on tossups. Second, 30's, 10's, 20's are the only point configurations allowed, look if one or two parts aren't answerable by a team then it doesn't matter how hard that part was (usually) it was too hard to answer. Perhaps you are suggesting that the parts that were in fact answerable were answerable by anybody on the team and not a specialist in the area the bonus is querying is that what is meant by "ridiculous," and that the one part or so that was not answerable constitutes "enjoying 20 points" by the aforementioned dicks.

The acetylcholine tossup was not my best work. I didn't think it was great, but I didn't think it was that bad either. This is my bad, but I am learning.

To conclude (for now) DumbJacques basic assessment is not without merit, perhaps the overwrought nature of his prose and the acerbic tone may come off as a bit much, but I appreciate the time and passion. The tournament was more difficult than I had imagined, and I wish I had had more time to even out some of the more odd packets.
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Post by Sima Guang Hater »

Kit Cloudkicker wrote:
charlieDfromNKC wrote:Michiko Kakutani is truly one of the most well known literary critics of the modern age. Not quite as much as Harold Bloom, but she has still has influenced modern lit. She is also notable for having possibly the most vitriolic pen of any respected critic, and she was (in a much less important vein, and certainly not something that will warrant a quizbowl tossup) featured prominently in Sex and the City. Like I said, that's not a reason to make a tossup about her, but everything else (including her Pulitzer, etc.) does, IMO.
I can conceive of no academic tournament for which Michiko Kakutani would be an appropriate tossup answer.
Is it sad that the only way I've heard of her is because of her mathematician brother?

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

The first time I heard of her was an NPR thing fawning over her. Granted, i don't always agree with her criticisms (I almost never do, actually) but I still don't think she's utterly ridiculous to ask about, either, considering her effect on authors that are frequently asked about (and deserve to be).
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Post by cvdwightw »

All right, I fess up, I wrote the question on the Ghetto. This was not a good idea.

FWIW, the "forgetting" "tossup" was actually supposed to be the gimme 10 points on a bonus whose other two answers were "interference" and "retrieval failure", which I would consider an appropriate 3-tiered bonus for somewhere between Fall and Regionals. Having not seen the final packet, I don't know how it turned out.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Thomas Schelling was a tossup answer at Chicago Open last year. Nobody complained. He's also not uncommon in bonuses throughout the year.
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Post by Gonzagapuma1 »

cvdwightw wrote: FWIW, the "forgetting" "tossup" was actually supposed to be the gimme 10 points on a bonus whose other two answers were "interference" and "retrieval failure", which I would consider an appropriate 3-tiered bonus for somewhere between Fall and Regionals. Having not seen the final packet, I don't know how it turned out.
The forgetting part was still the easy part of the bonus. That just seemed way to easy/retarded.(at least for me)

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Post by theMoMA »

Is Richard McBeef really that ungettable? Seems like a fine tossup for the trash distribution (assuming there was one). I'd like to see the question text.

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Post by wd4gdz »

The events of this work are set one month after the death of Sue's husband, who was tragically killed in a freak boating accident. During a heated argument in the living room, Sue's son, John, likens the title character to a Catholic priest, accusing him of both pedophilia and murder. That argument is partially resolved when the title character urges Sue to join him for doggy style sex, though conflict resumes when Sue absurdly brandishes a chainsaw and her son pushes a half-eaten cereal bar down Dick's throat. Written for a Virginia Tech English class, FTP, identify this disturbing one-act play by Cho Seung-Hui.
Answer: "Richard McBeef"

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Post by theMoMA »

wd4gdz wrote:The events of this work are set one month after the death of Sue's husband, who was tragically killed in a freak boating accident. During a heated argument in the living room, Sue's son, John, likens the title character to a Catholic priest, accusing him of both pedophilia and murder. That argument is partially resolved when the title character urges Sue to join him for doggy style sex, though conflict resumes when Sue absurdly brandishes a chainsaw and her son pushes a half-eaten cereal bar down Dick's throat. Written for a Virginia Tech English class, FTP, identify this disturbing one-act play by Cho Seung-Hui.
Answer: "Richard McBeef"
Man, I probably would have buzzed on the boating accident. That play is hilarious.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Having seen some of the questions and read through this thread, there is one salient feature that disturbs me. It's not that people are writing questions probably too difficult for advertised difficulty - after all, I'm as much a fan as anyone of consciously writing hard stuff and nibbling at the corners of askability. It's that - what becomes evident from seeing what people have posted and seeing some tossups here - is that lots of people have a pretty shaky ability to tell the difference between types of questions.

The answers listed here can perhaps be separated roughly into three categories: 1. canonical (things you would not be that surprised to see tossups on - maybe not at this tourney, per se, but at certain appropriate tournaments - perfectly reasonable and answerable topics), 2. hard (things that may be off the expected path but that are still reasonable and askable and defensible), 3. silly (things that are off the wall and likely written by people who have no clue how hard they are and are just blindly selecting answers they've either never heard of or some silly thing they studied in class at some point).

I think what's important is that people try to acquire enough information to be able to agree a decent amount of time (not always) on which answers fit where (and based on factors like how many times it has come up before, etc.). Personally, I'd say answers like Ziegler-Natta, Gini coefficient, gamelan, and John Vanbrugh (who I've seen at least two tossups on) fit into category one. Then, there are answers like Taweret and Cavafy and Serra which are in category 2. Then, there are those like Helene Cixous and The Vinegar Tasters which I'd say go into category 3.

At least when people can kind of agree where certain answers fit, they can know what kind of tourney is being written. There can be a more absolute reference frame - then this won't devolve into one person saying "That's not hard!...I've heard of it, and I got it on the first clue so there!" and another saying "hey, I really like chemistry and I've never heard of that, so it's super hard!"

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Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Not that it proves much, but the the Cixous toss-up came up in a match between my team (me and Amy Harvey, a recent graduate with an English degree from UF) and Zach and Aaron Kashtan (who's a PhD candidate in lit), and there was a three-way buzzer race (Aaron won) as soon as the question mentioned Kristeva and Irigary; since the pronoun had told us it was a woman, well, Cixous is the third part of that triad of big-time, feminist, post-structuralist thinkers of France. Granted, this is hardly canonical quizbowl stuff, but it's hardly a "silly" question topic.

The question's perception in this thread points up again the gaps between what is often commonly part of a college subject's curriculum and what's canonical in our game. A lit major is, I believe, much more likely to be familiar with those three thinkers than the plot outline of a play by Middleton or Farquhar, as the former could come up in the context of any period study of literature, while the latter would only be taught in a class specific to Elizabethan or Jacobean drama, which not everyone will take.

Regardless, I agree the set was too hard for what it was advertised to be. That didn't bother me personally, as I enjoyed the hard questions. But it wasn't much fun for my Valencia guys or some of the other undergrads who played in Tampa. And for my personal taste, there was way too much sociology. One positive from this set is that if you want to know the entire QB sociological theory/works/thinkers canon, you can pluck the questions on those from here and be ready for the 07-08 season!

Having said all that, I had a fine time and enjoyed seeing my QB homies. Much thanks to Ahmad for his hard work in putting everything together. I wish I'd had time to write a packet for the tournament (though mine would've probably been considered too easy and would've thus added to the fluctuations in difficulty).

PS--the hardest packet statistically at USF was the Whitman HS team packet. Bonus conversion was mostly under 10 on that one tournament wide. I fear that younger players might be trying hard to be hardcore all the time, rather than trying to match questions to TD expectations. But I should note that, though the answer field, especially in the bonuses, was very hard, their toss-ups were well written and pyramidal.

PPS--I know squat about science, but Billy and Ahmad have convinced me. I'm gathering fraud knowledge on this Ziegler-Natta thing so I won't get fooled again!

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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Based on what people have said here, I'd be willing to accept Cixous as a perfectly defensible hard tossup answer. I was just going off not having seen her or Irigary mentioned before (that I can remember), as opposed to Kristeva. When you're trying to write harder topics, I think there has to be room for both expansion from things that have come up before and a question that says "I know this hasn't come up, but it's important enough and interesting enough that it should, so here." Of course, I'm talking about creating hard answers here and you can argue about whether or not they were appropriate at this specific tourney (likely not), but that's a separate matter.

What scares me though is when people are unable to classify difficulty levels with any proficiency, and this often comes from lack of experience and not having seen enough packets, etc. That can, of course, lead to utter chaos where the questions are ridiculous no matter how good the players are.

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Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Ryan wrote:
What scares me though is when people are unable to classify difficulty levels with any proficiency, and this often comes from lack of experience and not having seen enough packets, etc. That can, of course, lead to utter chaos where the questions are ridiculous no matter how good the players are.
In this, Mr. Westbrook, we are in complete agreement. To strike a few more blows to this dying horse, the Cixous question would've been better used in a couple weeks with the Chicago audience, and also it should not have started out telling us we were looking for a modern, female, post-structuralist and then mentioning the only other two most have heard of. If the question had focused more on ideas in her work early on, I may not have been able to get it till the end.

Outside of Chicago and ACF Nats and like-level events, we need more focus on finding interesting ways to open questions on canonical stuff rather than finding harder subjects as answers. No new news there.

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Post by Aaron Kashtan »

I thoroughly enjoyed S&F, although this is the first summer tournament I've played, so maybe I'm not qualified to judge. Clearly a couple of the packets were too hard (the Whitman HS packet and the other Aaron's packet) but I felt that these were more the exception than the rule.
-Helene Cixous
-Cindy Sherman
-The Empire of Elam (no Broncos kicker giveaway, even!)
-Michiko Kakatuni
-Heike Onnes
-Constantine Cavafy
-Rexism
-Metallocene
-Richard Serra
-Theater of the Opressed

Oh, did I mention those were all from the same packet? No? Sorry, must be the bleach. All these went dead in my room, and if more than 2 of them were converted in any one room I'll be very surprised.
As others have mentioned, a bunch of these were converted in my room, and Kakutani and Cixous even came down to buzzer races. I think Cixous is clearly a reasonable answer selection, given her importance as a feminist philosopher/theorist. On the Kakutani clue, Amy buzzed in immediately on the "Sex and the City" clue, but I knew that clue too and I would probably have buzzed a second or two later.

Some of the other answers mentioned (Rexism, Theater of the Oppressed, metallocene) were clearly too hard, but this packet wasn't representative of the difficulty of the tournament as a whole.
Also, these were fun (from various packets):
-Satyajit Ray
-Ziegler-Natta Catalysts (Oh Jerry, how you spoil us)
-Beethoven's Opus 61
-KTS, Casey Martin's congenital defect
-Gamelan, an Indonesian instrument
-The Jomon Period
-Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Whitman
-Cerberus Capital Management co. (guess what the giveaway was lolz)
-Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke
-Plum Island
-Towards a New Architecture
-Rheology
-Aristaeus
-A tossup whose answer was "the Ghetto" and had the giveaway of ftp name this place whose code can be seen in movies like boys in the hood." No, it wasn't a music "names the same" question, it was a sociology question.
-The looking-glass self
-Tawaret, the Egyptian hippo god
-The Vinegar Tasters (what?)
-Gini Coefficient
-An Acetylcholine tossup whose clues and giveaway were so poor that nobody in the finals was able to get it despite it being on ACETYLCHOLINE
-Imines
-John Vanbrugh
-Quantum harmonic oscillators
-Thomas Schelling
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Satyajit Ray is the most famous director from India. He is a totally reasonable answer. Gamelan is also very famous. I answered John Vanbrugh pretty fast (who else was both a notable architect and a Western playwright?), and I also got Jomon and Vers une architecture. Both of these were things I learned as an undergrad, actually.

Some of these other questions were kind of dumb -- I did not like "the ghetto," and I remember someone commenting that he'd never heard of "rheology" even though it was in his field. Zach got "Plum Island" on the giveaway because it mentioned the professor from Clue. But whatever.

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Post by STPickrell »

I feel dumb. I have heard of maybe 20% of the stuff that is getting complained about.

(Come on, someone's got to admit it.)

Also, was there any chance of some sites having played on the beta packets like Penn Bowl was played on two years ago?

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Post by Mike Bentley »

StPickrell wrote:I feel dumb. I have heard of maybe 20% of the stuff that is getting complained about.

(Come on, someone's got to admit it.)

Also, was there any chance of some sites having played on the beta packets like Penn Bowl was played on two years ago?
As far as I know there was only one mirror (ours) and I used the questions I got from Ahmad at 1 AM before the tournament started. Unless he sent the wrong set, which I don't think was the case, I think we were playing on the same questions.
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Post by SnookerUSF »

The only difference between the two sets are the UF and FSU packets were not played at Sun n Fun but I believe were played at the Mirror. I also changed two obvious repeats and a couple of minor formatting issues.
However the two packets receiving the most flack were exactly the same.
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Post by grapesmoker »

Before I write anything else, I just wanted to defend the Whitman packet against accusations of outrageous difficulty. While there were a couple of instances of ill-advised question choices in that packet, most of it was fine. Also, that was still one of the better packets from this set; I think they did a very good job.
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Post by The Logic of Scientific Disco »

I would argue that, while difficult, metallocene is not completely out there. The most famous example, ferrocene, is way important and is covered in any intro inorganic chem course. I think (real) inorganic chem shows up too little in quiz bowl, so I'm happy to see metallocene and Ziegler-Natta both having come up here.

Hopefully someday we will see a "FTPE name the point groups of these molecules" bonus. Just kidding.

EDIT: I can't spell.

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Post by grapesmoker »

Ok, having read through more of these packets, the major problem suffered by most of the tossups I've seen so far is that they're so goddamn long! I'm a fan of the long tossup myself, but most of these questions lacked the actual substance that makes listening to long tossups interesting. If I'm sitting through 11(!) lines, I need to hear something that will catch my attention; unfortunately, much of the text in these questions was taken up by useless verbiage consisting of stylistic descriptions and generalizations that don't help anyone answer the questions. There were other obvious problems, like bad clue placement, but this particular thing annoyed me most of all. Please, please avoid any kind of verbiage in your question that does not impart information to the listeners.

The other thing that irked me about this set was the complete lack of grammatical structure throughout. Look guys, semicolons are not commas, and you need periods to separate your sentences when they stretch across 5 lines. When you don't pay attention to the way your sentences are structured, it turns both reading questions and listening to them into an impossible chore, as everyone in the room struggles to understand just what is being said.

As for the answer choices, I think Chris is overstating the ridiculousness of some and understating the ridiculousness of others. Helene Cixous may be big in the world of English lit (I have no idea if this is the case), but I can't see her being more important in philosophy than Hume, as was mentioned in passing earlier. Michiko Kakutani, I have no idea why she is tossup worthy. Heike Kammerlingh-Onnes is known for one thing and one thing only, and I can't imagine any kind of pyramidal tossup on him. But on the other hand, Ziegler-Natta, Gamelan, Ray, Gini coefficient, Vanbrugh, imines, and QHO seem like ok topics to write on, even if not always done particularly well. There were certainly plenty of other bad answer choices, including some mentioned by Chris. I think that the biggest problem is people just choosing to write on this or that because they came across it somewhere without bothering to figure out whether whatever they're writing about has a chance of being answered.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
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