MUT 2009 Discussion

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MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Gautam » Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:31 pm

The 2009 Minnesota Undergraduate Tournament set should be open for discussion. The packets will be sent to Chris Carter soon, so expect them on the archive shortly.

We ended up producing 14 packets for this set. We received about 5 packets worth of submissions (1 each from Illinois, Maryland, and the Andy Watkins-Hannah Kirsch duo, and half packets from EPHS, Carleton, Missouri, and Iowa) and we wrote the rest of the tournament.

I thought the writing/editing process for this tournament was much smoother than for the 2008 incarnation. Andrew Hart, Rob Carson, Mike Cheyne, Bernadette Spencer, Brendan Byrne, Joe Hansen, Lauren Johnson, and I all contributed questions. A lot of us started working on it in early January, but about 60% of the writing/editing was done in the last week of February and first week of March. We dedicated about 3-4 practice sessions to finishing the writing/editing job, and I personally enjoyed those sessions most. We'd also like to thank Mike Sorice for editing a good chunk of the Illinois packet and saving us a lot of time. If there is anyone else I am missing, I sincerely apologize for the omission.

We tried to maintain a strict 6 line cap for all the prelim packets, but didn't particularly care about running into the 7th or 8th lines for the finals packets. I know some of the bonus prompts did end up being somewhat long; however, I feel like a lot of the bonuses were much more clue dense than usual, so the slightly-longer-than-average prompts were beneficial in my opinion.

We were attempting to get together after the tournament was run at Minnesota and fix the errors we caught while reading, but all of us had mid-terms that week and we never got around to fixing up those errors. We will try to be more prompt with fixing errors like that in the future.

If you want feedback for the questions you submitted, let us know in this thread or via email. We can be reached at kand0028 at umn dot edu (Gautam), limozeen@gmail.com (Andrew), or cars0090 at umn dot edu (Rob).

Thank you.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Gautam » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:01 pm

Actually, EPHS wrote a full packet for MUT. My mistake.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:56 pm

I wrote at least the following tossups, probably more that I can't remember (I don't have the set):

American History: Robert Taft, Plessy v. Ferguson, George Pickett, Battle of Saratoga, Secretary of Defense, Spiro Agnew, Election of 1912, Treaty of Ghent, John C. Calhoun
Euro/World History: Kellogg-Briand Pact, Francisco Franco, Boer War, Nuremberg Trials, Claudius, Yuan Dynasty, Ivan the Terrible, George III, Pinochet, Lech Walesa, Ramses the Great
Literature: Rappacini's Daughter, A Streetcar Named Desire, Sinclair Lewis, "Jesters," Allen Ginsberg, Hedda Gabler, Abraham Lincoln (using lit clues)
Social Science: Abraham Maslow, Freedom of the Press, Theory of the Leisure Class
Art: Andrew Wyeth
Other Art: Citizen Kane, Scott Joplin
Religion: Ahab
Trash: "M" (the Bond character), Peyton Manning, Tina Fey

If anyone has any specific comments or questions about these tossups, let me know.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Kevin » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:02 am

I didn't play this, but I moderated at the ULL mirror. I noticed what seemed like a lot of typos and minor mistakes, but that may have been just because I'm used to playing at tournaments, not reading. It probably also had something to do with the fact that the ULL mirror was one of the first, so I assume some of the minor things may have been fixed later. Overall I thought it was pretty good and hit the target difficulty pretty well--the answer choices were very reasonable, but I still felt like most of the early clues were challenging enough to differentiate good teams. I felt like our bonus conversion numbers were about where they should have been (13+), as compared to something like EFT where it was utterly dismal (less than 9 PPB, which is odd as I feel like the team I played on at EFT would have beaten the team we sent to the ULL mirror of MUT, and considering both tournaments were, I presume, aiming for a similar difficulty level).

Since it's been so long, this is mostly going off reading the packets in front of me right now than recalling the tournament. Specific comments:

Hank Aaron--the part about two fans running onto the field is, I think, less obscure than his records for all-star games and total bases, although probably more obscure than his record for career RBI, but I realize splitting up the stats would have led to a more wordy question. Nevertheless, I don't think two fans running onto the field should have been part of the power.
birds--the Romulus and Remus clue seems like a huge "wolf" hose.
Riemann--isn't "zeta function" more well known than "integration method summing the areas of very small rectangles"?
Orioles' closers--one of those common link toss-ups where it can be very difficult to figure out exactly how specific the answer has to be, and in which it's very easy to buzz with a less-specific answer. I suppose that the phrase "to hold this position" makes things slightly easier, but it's still tough to follow.
Australia--while I applaud the fact that a cricket reference was used in the very first clue, I think it'd be more fair to say that Perth in the western part of Australia than the southern part, given that it's located in Western Australia (the "WA" in WACA) and not South Australia.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by jonah » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:10 am

Kevin wrote:Riemann--isn't "zeta function" more well known than "integration method summing the areas of very small rectangles"?
I would say not. Both are very well-known, but you can't get through any calculus course without knowing the integration method, while the zeta function doesn't come up until analysis or number theory or such. As far as previous clues, both have been giveaways. The only questions I could find with both clues was tossup 9 from the 2006 Fall packet by Drake A, MIT B, and Georgia Tech B, in which zeta immediately preceded the integration giveaway; and a 2008 EFT tossup with the same.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:11 am

Kevin wrote:birds--the Romulus and Remus clue seems like a huge "wolf" hose.
Go learn more myths.
Kevin wrote:Riemann--isn't "zeta function" more well known than "integration method summing the areas of very small rectangles"?
As a noted non-math person, I would say no. I learned Riemann sums in Calc AB in high school. I only know Riemann-zeta due to practicing alongside people who know stuff about it. EDIT: what Jonah said.

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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:16 am

The Romulus and Remus thing was rather unfortunate; I should've put the name "Picus" first to avoid confusion.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:21 am

Kevin wrote:birds--the Romulus and Remus clue seems like a huge "wolf" hose.
Hahaha, every room at our mirror negged on this. I am pretty ashamed to be one of those people, because even as I buzzed in, the more reasonable part of me was saying that no one in their right mind would put that as a leadin for wolf. It was even worse that I would have gotten it off the second clue (Siegfried).

I like powering and 30ing questions on my favorite composers (Rimsky-Korsakov, Pictures at an Exhibition, etc). I'd also been wondering if I'd ever hear a question on the opera my username references.

fsb, still cringing at the wolf/bird blunder
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by tiwonge » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:41 am

I wanted to double-check the question before saying something, but they haven't been posted yet. I thought I heard a bonus question that said that Luke had a Sermon on the Mount. (The first part of the bonus identified the Sermon of the Mount being in both Matthew and Luke. The second part said Luke had a Sermon on the Plain.) While much of the material in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount is paralleled in Luke's Sermon on the Plain, Luke doesn't actually contain a Sermon on the Mount.

Am I mis-remembering the question, in error, or is the question wrong?
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:45 am

Overall the set seemed very good. Really the only bad thing I can say was the proofreading was particularly attrocious, with each packet having on average probably 10 grammar mistakes. But whatever, that didn't really affect the teams playing the tournament.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:18 am

tiwonge wrote:I wanted to double-check the question before saying something, but they haven't been posted yet. I thought I heard a bonus question that said that Luke had a Sermon on the Mount. (The first part of the bonus identified the Sermon of the Mount being in both Matthew and Luke. The second part said Luke had a Sermon on the Plain.) While much of the material in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount is paralleled in Luke's Sermon on the Plain, Luke doesn't actually contain a Sermon on the Mount.

Am I mis-remembering the question, in error, or is the question wrong?
Hey, you are right here. The first part of the bonus claims it's in both; that should have been removed in editing, but sadly, neither Mike nor I caught it, even though the third part claims that it's the Sermon on the Plain in Luke.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:22 am

Yeah, my bad on that one. I wrote a good chunk of the Bible for this set, but I think that one was a submission that was subjected to a little bit of editing because I don't remember looking at it that closely--mea culpa.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:29 am

Cheynem wrote:Yeah, my bad on that one. I wrote a good chunk of the Bible for this set, but I think that one was a submission that was subjected to a little bit of editing because I don't remember looking at it that closely--mea culpa.
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Even though apparently I can't either....
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:34 am

Both Linna and I had a wonderful time at this tournament. The questions were very well-written; my one complaint is that the Cornu spiral is probably harder than the Ekman spiral.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:59 pm

I wish I could remember more specifics about this tournament, other than the fact that I very much enjoyed playing it... There was this question, however, on a piece of lab equipment that mentioned Buchner, upon which Andy negged with "flask" for "funnel." Or it may have been the other way around, because my memory is horrible. In any case, that was not the best clue, since as I recall it was pretty early in the question and Buchner appends his name to both types of equipment.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:27 pm

Yeah, both Linna and I (in different rooms) negged with funnel for flask. I suppose Buchner flasks exist, but I automatically think funnel since it's so much more commonly used. (I was just confused by the Dean-Stark clue; I don't really think it uses two of anything: to your rbf, you add a fractionating column that has a side-arm to a buret kind of thing with a water-jacketed condenser on top, and you put a rbf below the buret. I guess if you count your original rbf, then a Dean-Stark setup does in fact have two flasks, but that sounds sort of nonsensical.)

In any event, I don't know if I like a common link on a kind of laboratory glassware. The Dean-Stark tossup at MO I support because it's nontrivial and supposed to be hard to convert; the flask tossup I don't because it's trivial (if it gets to the giveaway, then it really becomes "pick a noun that sounds like it might contain liquid," and that's far from chemistry).
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Tower Monarch » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:36 pm

HKirsch wrote:I wish I could remember more specifics about this tournament, other than the fact that I very much enjoyed playing it... There was this question, however, on a piece of lab equipment that mentioned Buchner, upon which Andy negged with "flask" for "funnel." Or it may have been the other way around, because my memory is horrible. In any case, that was not the best clue, since as I recall it was pretty early in the question and Buchner appends his name to both types of equipment.
Will Butler had the same answer with a similar explanation. Is this the final version of the question?
MUT (Minnesota 2) wrote:A typical Dean-Stark apparatus contains two of these entities, one connected to a fractioning column and the other below a tap on a burette. One of these entities is sometimes named for Kitasato, and contains an arm that can be attached to an aspirator. In addition to that type named for Buchner, a version of these entities can have gas introduced into them via a side-arm, in the type named for Schlenk. The Florence type has a round bottom, and the version with vacuum-enclosing walls is named for Dewar. For 10 points, name these common pieces of laboratory glassware, exemplified by the Erlenmeyer type.
I remember Will saying he has often used a Dean-Stark apparatus and buzzed on the Buchner clue to say funnel.

Anyway, I very much enjoyed the both playing and reading this tournament (despite how crazy sick I was during the former). To me, that parenthetical comment explains how good this set really was.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Sir Thopas » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:39 pm

dtaylor4 wrote:
Kevin wrote:birds--the Romulus and Remus clue seems like a huge "wolf" hose.
Go learn more myths.
Hey, you're wrong, that was a hose. The question writer has already admitted to such.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:20 pm

Yeah, while reading, I had a player make the same neg. It seems an especially egregious somewhat-hose at a novice level tournament when players' myth knowledge is not expected to be as deep as at regular level difficulty tournaments. This isn't meant as a slam on the question, but just to point out another reason why so many people may have negged this or regarded it as a hose.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:44 pm

Yeah, in our game agianst the house team at Illinois somebody there made the same buzz and I agreed they should have the points for being hosed.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Lapego1 » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:44 pm

If the "flask" question was written as above, then it seems people are just reflex buzzing off "Buchner". The wording describing the Buchner flask is kind of weird, but if you read "arm" as "side arm" like I did, you would see this does not pertain to a Buchner funnel (yeah unless you maybe call the neck at the bottom of a funnel an "arm"). Not saying it was a great clue or for that matter a great answer choice, but the first two clues do rule out funnel.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:55 pm

Lapego1 wrote:If the "flask" question was written as above, then it seems people are just reflex buzzing off "Buchner". The wording describing the Buchner flask is kind of weird, but if you read "arm" as "side arm" like I did, you would see this does not pertain to a Buchner funnel (yeah unless you maybe call the neck at the bottom of a funnel an "arm"). Not saying it was a great clue or for that matter a great answer choice, but the first two clues do rule out funnel.
Like, I assumed that "that one named for Buchner" couldn't be the same as "one sometimes named for Kitasato" and that I had misheard something. I think the fact that this stuff gets unclear is perhaps an argument against writing tossups on kinds of pieces of glass and sticking to more rigorous material.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by evilmonkey » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:09 am

I enjoyed this tournament quite a bit. However, some notes I had jotted down:

Arrow's Theorem - At some point in this question I got confused and thought they were asking for a condition of the theorem, leading to me negging with Pareto. This could just be me overthinking the question, though.

Donner Party - I'm pretty sure I just lateralled this one. I can't find the packets, but I don't know if there is a good way to avoid transparency on this - a group famous for travelling west?

Anthropology - This tossup was a pretty horrible. Dees negged on it, and my teammate and I were very confused about what it was trying to say. I also believe that at some point, it was referred to as a "school".

California - A work in this polity? Was so vague that we all kind of just stared until Charlie finally took the chance with California. If you're going to write a common-link lit-in-a-polity question, define that polity.

Thanks for a great tournament, Minnesota
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:12 am

evilmonkey wrote:California - A work in this polity? Was so vague that we all kind of just stared until Charlie finally took the chance with California. If you're going to write a common-link lit-in-a-polity question, define that polity.
Yeah, there is absolutely no reason not to say "state" here. This turned a great tossup--I took a class in high school that spent substantial time on California poetry--into a pretty bad one.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:09 pm

everyday847 wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:California - A work in this polity? Was so vague that we all kind of just stared until Charlie finally took the chance with California. If you're going to write a common-link lit-in-a-polity question, define that polity.
Yeah, there is absolutely no reason not to say "state" here. This turned a great tossup--I took a class in high school that spent substantial time on California poetry--into a pretty bad one.
16. Czeslaw Milosz has written a poem titled “Against” a poet from this polity, who dedicated “A Threnody” to his sister and wrote “Rock and Hawk” and “Shine, Perishing Republic!” Another poet from this polity wrote a poem that claims “I pledge allegiance to the soil” that contains lines such as “One ecosystem, in diversity, under the sun, with joyful interpenetration for all.” In addition to this polity’s Robinson Jeffers and Turtle Island author Gary Snyder, a poem set in this polity imagines Garcia Lorca by the watermelons and Walt Whitman eyeing the grocery boys. For 10 points, name this state, a “Supermarket” in which names a poem by Allen Ginsberg.
ANSWER: California [prompt on United States; prompt on America]
It would have been a transparent tossup if it had said state. How many states do you know with a tossupable poetic tradition? Also, what were you thinking of buzzing with...the United States? If so, you would have been prompted. Unless you really thought there were going to be a tossup on the poetry of Los Angeles or Orange County or something along those lines, I don't see how this wording is confusing.
6. One member of this group was a feeble Belgian-born farmer named Mr. Hardkoop who was turned away by the Kesebergs and allegedly sat on a log with his head in his hands. One of the financial backers of this group was Patrick Breen, and one leader of this group was James Reed. Their problems began when Lansford W. Hastings convinced them to take his namesake “cutoff,” and a contingent of them known as the “Forlorn Hope” attempted to snowshoe to Sutter’s Fort. For 10 points, name this group that got stuck in the Sierra Nevadas on their way to California and resorted to cannibalism in their namesake pass.
ANSWER: the Donner Party/Group/whatever
I don't think this tossup exposes that it's a group traveling anywhere until the "take his namesake 'cutoff'" phrase.
3. One critique of this discipline notes that its early practitioners denied “coevalness” to the object it studies. Matti Bunzel and Johannes Fabian’s Time and the Other is subtitled after “How [this discipline] makes its object.” Jacques Derrida critiqued this discipline by claiming that it implies a center, and does not allow “play” in the essay “Structure, Sign, and Play.” One text in this discipline makes use of the term “bricolage” to describe the process of creating mythologies, and that author founded the “structural” version of this discipline in such works as The Raw and the Cooked. For 10 points, name this discipline practiced by Claude Levi-Strauss.
ANSWER: anthropology
First off, the question does not refer to anthropology as a "school." Second, the poststructuralist critique of anthropology is one of the most important movements in literary criticism and social science right now. I don't understand what's confusing about this, other than perhaps being confused that such a basic concept is being tossed up. And yeah, this is a novice tournament, so that's going to happen.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:20 pm

I suppose I don't know enough about state's poetic traditions to say for sure that California's is the only one you can write about. I also somehow didn't notice that the answer line accepts a prompt. It's fine, then, I guess.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by yoda4554 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:31 pm

There are definitely lots of famous poets who are closely identified with being from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, to name three off the top of my head; and I'm speaking as a Yankee, so I'm sure a bunch of other people will be able to rattle off a bunch of poets strongly associated with states in their regions. When you add that you're including poems about states (there are certainly a number of famous poems about Florida, for example), I think this turns into another example of questions being overly coy about what's being asked about out of a misplaced fear of transparency.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:41 pm

yoda4554 wrote:There are definitely lots of famous poets who are closely identified with being from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, to name three off the top of my head; and I'm speaking as a Yankee, so I'm sure a bunch of other people will be able to rattle off a bunch of poets strongly associated with states in their regions. When you add that you're including poems about states (there are certainly a number of famous poems about Florida, for example), I think this turns into another example of questions being overly coy about what's being asked about out of a misplaced fear of transparency.
Yes, but I don't think any of those states have a strong association with the conservation movement like many of the California poets do. Since Jeffers and Snyder are the guys I wanted to ask about, I think this was the best way to go about doing that. The only problem I see is that people who know the Snyder and Jeffers titles and lines might know they're from the U.S. but not know that they're from California, but I think in that case they simply don't have the amount of knowledge required to answer the question correctly.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:39 pm

I see where Andrew is coming from, and had I heard such a tossup, I'd be fraud buzzing as soon as I realized it's a state that produces poets who like to write about nature. However, that realization would come only upon hearing those lines, and somebody who had knowledge of those poets would still beat me. As I see it, there are three potential considerations an editor must way in making this decision: cost of transparency, worthiness of getting the information into the question, and possibility of screwing someone with knowledge. I think we can accept it's a good way to work in some harder poets into a novice tournament and that's a worthwhile thing to do unless the other two costs outweigh it (which I don't think they do, in this case). So, it becomes a matter of the quality cost endured by making it slightly transparent vs. the quality of cost of making it obtuse, which can at best lead to people with knowledge of those poems not buzzing or at worst, getting negged for knowing more than the other team. I think in this situation (and really, most situations), if this is your dilemma, it is best to sacrifice a bit of transparency to make sure you're not obfuscating the answer in a problematic way. While those poets are excellent clue choices in that being from California is an integral part of their identity, it is not absolutely necessary to know that Robinson Jeffers is from California to still have knowledge of some of the mentioned poems (say, to have read them). If you're going to go with "polity," I'd say you need to accept "America" before you clarify what you want, because that construct theoretically punishes someone who has read Jeffers but doesn't know he's from California, and has no particular reason to think the question wants a state. Contrast this negative result with someone frauding the question a bit early - this person presumably knows enough to realize that there ARE eco-poets, so they probably know that Jeffers is the most famous one, and they aren't beating anyone who's actually read the poem, so that's not much of a negative. As the tossup is now, you could even run into a situation where someone who knows it's Jeffers, knows he's Californian, but has no idea what polity the question wants just doesn't buzz out of confusion (empirical evidence suggests that this occurred in multiple games), which could lead to someone on the other team just reflex buzzing off of the name of Jeffers or Snyder, which creates the same kind of fraud-trumping-knowledge result the original ambiguity sought to avoid. In summation, I think it's best to just be clear - the cost of transparency in saying exactly what the question wants is usually pretty low if the rest of the tossup is good (which, if you're Andrew or any of the other MUT editors, it obviously is), and the prevalence of people not buzzing out of ambiguity is actually pretty high.

Also, I don't understand why people think the anthropology tossup is bad - all of those clues are important and I think it unambiguously points to anthroplogy - certainly if you understand the question is talking about structural anthropology you should realize what it wants, and such an answer would presumably be accepted anyway. The only critique I would offer is that the majority of those clues are unlikely to draw buzzes from upwards of 75% of teams at an undergraduate tournament, simply because exposure to poststructuralism, which seems like the first clue non-specialist have a shot at, is relatively rare among those players. The answer is easy and the clues pyramidal, but I'd be surprised if that tossup approached the normal standard distribution for when people were getting MUT tossups. Still, that's anything but a big deal and I reiterate my puzzlement with why the tossup upset people.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by evilmonkey » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:45 pm

theMoMA wrote:
everyday847 wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:California - A work in this polity? Was so vague that we all kind of just stared until Charlie finally took the chance with California. If you're going to write a common-link lit-in-a-polity question, define that polity.
Yeah, there is absolutely no reason not to say "state" here. This turned a great tossup--I took a class in high school that spent substantial time on California poetry--into a pretty bad one.
16. Czeslaw Milosz has written a poem titled “Against” a poet from this polity, who dedicated “A Threnody” to his sister and wrote “Rock and Hawk” and “Shine, Perishing Republic!” Another poet from this polity wrote a poem that claims “I pledge allegiance to the soil” that contains lines such as “One ecosystem, in diversity, under the sun, with joyful interpenetration for all.” In addition to this polity’s Robinson Jeffers and Turtle Island author Gary Snyder, a poem set in this polity imagines Garcia Lorca by the watermelons and Walt Whitman eyeing the grocery boys. For 10 points, name this state, a “Supermarket” in which names a poem by Allen Ginsberg.
ANSWER: California [prompt on United States; prompt on America]
It would have been a transparent tossup if it had said state. How many states do you know with a tossupable poetic tradition? Also, what were you thinking of buzzing with...the United States? If so, you would have been prompted. Unless you really thought there were going to be a tossup on the poetry of Los Angeles or Orange County or something along those lines, I don't see how this wording is confusing.
But thats were the trouble lies - most tossups of this kind are looking for a country, so a player would logically be thinking at the country level. From all the clues, United States would be correct, and thus someone could recognize an American, not have any clue that they were all Californian, and buzz with USA. The only reason I didn't do that was because I figured that the words "I pledge allegiance" would never be that early. (Which is the reason I stared at the question, unlike Charlie)
6. One member of this group was a feeble Belgian-born farmer named Mr. Hardkoop who was turned away by the Kesebergs and allegedly sat on a log with his head in his hands. One of the financial backers of this group was Patrick Breen, and one leader of this group was James Reed. Their problems began when Lansford W. Hastings convinced them to take his namesake “cutoff,” and a contingent of them known as the “Forlorn Hope” attempted to snowshoe to Sutter’s Fort. For 10 points, name this group that got stuck in the Sierra Nevadas on their way to California and resorted to cannibalism in their namesake pass.
ANSWER: the Donner Party/Group/whatever
I don't think this tossup exposes that it's a group traveling anywhere until the "take his namesake 'cutoff'" phrase.
I suppose thats later than I imagined it was - although at that point you're still only halfway through the question, and you've got an American non-native group traveling somewhere that had problems along the way. I can't think of another group that fits those descriptions. I'm not saying I could write it better - perhaps it just isn't the greatest idea for a tossup at this level.
3. One critique of this discipline notes that its early practitioners denied “coevalness” to the object it studies. Matti Bunzel and Johannes Fabian’s Time and the Other is subtitled after “How [this discipline] makes its object.” Jacques Derrida critiqued this discipline by claiming that it implies a center, and does not allow “play” in the essay “Structure, Sign, and Play.” One text in this discipline makes use of the term “bricolage” to describe the process of creating mythologies, and that author founded the “structural” version of this discipline in such works as The Raw and the Cooked. For 10 points, name this discipline practiced by Claude Levi-Strauss.
ANSWER: anthropology
First off, the question does not refer to anthropology as a "school." Second, the poststructuralist critique of anthropology is one of the most important movements in literary criticism and social science right now. I don't understand what's confusing about this, other than perhaps being confused that such a basic concept is being tossed up. And yeah, this is a novice tournament, so that's going to happen.
Then I just misheard during the tournament (which is entirely possible, and would lead to my confusion). I was in error in calling this horrible - this in fact does look like a fine question.

If I am interpreting your last statement correctly, I take issue with it. A collegiate.quizbowl.com packet search shows only five times that this has happened - Sociology twice (Wahoo War 98, EFT I), Anthropology (MUT 09), Philosophy (MUT 08), history (ACF Nats 06) (I'm discarding the 2007 ACF Nats "science" question, since it was a trash question). So out of the 3 times it has happened at a novice tournament in the past 10 years, 2 have been written by you - evidence that, in general, this doesn't happen.

If your claim was merely that you believe that questions on subdistributions should appear at novice tournaments, then I'm sorry that I misinterpreted you, and you can ignore the previous paragraph.

Again, I'd like to reiterate that I thought this was a great tournament.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:59 pm

Look, Andrew, this idea that you can pick an answer line, write a tossup that is overly vague and does absolutely nothing to make it unique from another answer (in this case, California vs. the USA, and let's face the facts, there is absolutely NOTHING that makes that tossup unique from the USA), and then insist on prompting when someone gives the right answer keeps being wrongheaded, and keeps being something you do when writing, and keeps being something lots of other people would like you to stop. Please stop.
Also, this is part of why I have a problem with people using the word polity so much, it's such a vague term that it can apply to lots of different things, and thus be used to make questions that would otherwise be unique (if you had just said "this state") vague and poorly written.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:01 pm

Not to rush anything, but I would really like to see this set.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:16 pm

Generally, I feel that the acceptable degree of the transparency/opacity line should be moved further toward opacity the closer you get to nationals and further toward transparency the closer you get to novice. Let's face it, we consider a lot of stuff "transparent" because we have the knowledge of "oh, there's only one possible answer choice it could be based on these context clues, even though I know nothing about the answer from the clues outside of their context." I conjecture (based on no evidence, so you are welcome to refute me) that many of the mid-level and below teams at novice tournaments will not yet have honed these skills, so what we might consider transparent they might just consider another clue.

I'm in agreement with Chris that once we decide that a certain topic is worth tossing up for its "learning" value, we then have to make tradeoffs between transparency and opacity; for open and Nationals tournaments, the transparency problem becomes quite high, as people with real knowledge are likely to get screwed out of points due to buzzer races and whatnot; for novice tournaments, I find the "five lines of things that don't sound remotely like anything I've heard of" issue to be far more of a problem than rewarding a player for combining knowledge with an intuitive jump.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:37 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Look, Andrew, this idea that you can pick an answer line, write a tossup that is overly vague and does absolutely nothing to make it unique from another answer (in this case, California vs. the USA, and let's face the facts, there is absolutely NOTHING that makes that tossup unique from the USA), and then insist on prompting when someone gives the right answer keeps being wrongheaded, and keeps being something you do when writing, and keeps being something lots of other people would like you to stop. Please stop.
Also, this is part of why I have a problem with people using the word polity so much, it's such a vague term that it can apply to lots of different things, and thus be used to make questions that would otherwise be unique (if you had just said "this state") vague and poorly written.
If you don't know that Robinson Jeffers and Gary Snyder are from California, well, that is actually important non-trivial information about those two poets, and you shouldn't get the tossup.

There are dozens of questions in every set for which this "problem" holds (cf. the ICT tossup on "nanotubes;" at least I understand that you need to prompt on the next most general answer), and it will probably be something that I "keep doing" because there's no way to avoid it, especially at lower levels. A lot of tossups have an aspect of determining the level of specificity that is required. A class of things is usually nested inside another, bigger subclass of things, and down the chain. I'm not going to stop writing tossups on "Kings of Hawaii" or "T-cells" or whatever because someone might buzz with "Kings" or "immune cells" and then not know the necessary information to get the tossup when prompted.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:51 pm

theMoMA wrote:I'm not going to stop writing tossups on "Kings of Hawaii" or "T-cells" or whatever because someone might buzz with "Kings" or "immune cells" and then not know the necessary information to get the tossup when prompted.
Difference here is that it's quite easy to write tossups on T-cells that can't be on immune cells: talk about characteristics shared by all T-cells so you avoid using "some of these" which allows immune cells, cells, whatever. Even "Kings of Hawaii" can be done differently, since you can say "all of these figures wore a funny hat" and since German kings didn't wear funny hats, only Kings of Hawaii works. The difficulty lies in the fact that the principal clues you use apply to people who are just as much from the USA as from California; clues that keep this from getting sticky discuss all of them at once so you can say "all of them."
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:54 pm

Is there any reason that California tossup didn't just say "state" right away? After all, California is hardly the only state that produced poets, and expecting a Czeslaw Milosz poem to disambiguate that in the first clue is unreasonable even at a relatively high-difficulty tournament. The word "polity" there is unnecessarily opaque and coy and should have not been used; other than that, it's a fine question.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:02 pm

There are dozens of questions in every set for which this "problem" holds (cf. the ICT tossup on "nanotubes;" at least I understand that you need to prompt on the next most general answer), and it will probably be something that I "keep doing" because there's no way to avoid it, especially at lower levels. A lot of tossups have an aspect of determining the level of specificity that is required. A class of things is usually nested inside another, bigger subclass of things, and down the chain. I'm not going to stop writing tossups on "Kings of Hawaii" or "T-cells" or whatever because someone might buzz with "Kings" or "immune cells" and then not know the necessary information to get the tossup when prompted.
Well, the two previous posters articulated their arguments in a very poor way (which seemed predicated on some absurd belief that you're the only one who writes common link questions), but I think the points I made in my post are still valid. I don't think you can argue that the clues in the California tossup are valid only as they relate to the poetry of California - really, A Supermarket in California doesn't have much to do with California intrinsically except that it's set there. Those authors and their work are valid in a whole host of ways - the tossup is simply identifying one academically legitimate and pertinent aspect of of their work as a way to combine them into a tossup that's much more gettable than a question on any one of their works. But that doesn't mean that (well, I guess I'm arguing here that it certainly shouldn't mean) that the question author gets to decide that only that one aspect of knowledge about that poet deserves points - that's certainly a different standard than we usually apply (we shouldn't have entire tossups that never mention titles, or that only list main characters).

You're certainly right that the Californian identity is non-trivial to those poets (I'd go further and say it's integral to understanding them in even the most basically holistic sense), but if you don't accept a reasonably correct alternative like "America" you simply invalidate the knowledge of those poems (perhaps some reasonably extensive readings of said poems) that does not extend to knowing where Robinson Jeffers or Gary Snyder come from. Invalidating knowledge, to me, is the worst question-writing sin one can commit and is way worse than transparency. I think Charlie (and definitely Bryce) are off base when they seem to imply that this is some kind of egregious attempt to fuck people out of points, because it's a mild case of what I'm talking about at most and clearly done with the right intentions, but that doesn't mean that the question didn't suffer because of the choice.

Andrew has a point that you need to draw the line in order to achieve practical utility in common link questions, and you can't just go around accepting things like "Kings" for people who held a single, specific title (although I'd hold you should still prompt*), but I think a question-by-question evaluation would indicate that there's an awful lot of difference between the California question and something like that. Basically, unless you're ready to declare that no knowledge gained without that one specific fact is valid (a pretty strong claim, I'd argue only really applicable in situations like knowing that something is a sestina rather than buzzing in and saying "THOSE ARE POEMS!!!!"), then you have to accept that more general answer and move onto the next level - in this case, the next level would be something like "Earth," which does not meet the basic requirement because that in no way suggests specific knowledge, so that's where it would end.

As for things like immune cells, I think that's a different issue as I'd have trouble imagining that you could understand in a basic sense what a T-cell is without knowing that it's a T-cell rather than just part of the immune system, but again it's an issue of question text, etc.

EDIT:
Is there any reason that California tossup didn't just say "state" right away? After all, California is hardly the only state that produced poets, and expecting a Czeslaw Milosz poem to disambiguate that in the first clue is unreasonable even at a relatively high-difficulty tournament. The word "polity" there is unnecessarily opaque and coy and should have not been used; other than that, it's a fine question.
To be clear, I also agree this would have been the better route (see the transparency vs. opacity argument in my first post); this posts assumes the text as is.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by evilmonkey » Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:27 pm

DumbJaques wrote:I think Charlie (and definitely Bryce) are off base when they seem to imply that this is some kind of egregious attempt to fuck people out of points, because it's a mild case of what I'm talking about at most and clearly done with the right intentions, but that doesn't mean that the question didn't suffer because of the choice.
Upon rereading my original post, I realize that my tone was far more aggressive than I intended it to be. I certainly didn't mean to imply malice on Andrew's part. I hope that what I intended to say (Jerry has said better) isn't obscured by this fact.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:44 pm

everyday847 wrote:since German kings didn't wear funny hats, only Kings of Hawaii works.
Your are wrong.

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In all seriousness, though, there is a certain amount of common sense in buzzing on a common link. Like Chris said, you're probably not going to buzz on a common link of some kind of poem and say "poem" rather than "villanelle." Likewise, certain assumptions can be made in the case of a literature question in which the type of polity is not explicitly stated: Even at a novice tournament, they're probably not tossing up "United States."
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:16 pm

Chris, this idea that you can write a tossup on something rather specific (California) but not actually write it in a way that makes it at all unique from something a little broader but still something that's a very reasonable answer line (The US) and then when people buzz in with that more broad answer, have them be prompted even though they should just have been given the 10 points, is something it has become quite clear Andrew Hart believes is acceptable, I guess justifying it through the slippery slope argument about Kings vs. Kings of Hawai'i or whatever. This is something I would like to see change - there is no reason to apply that logic about drawing the line to this answer space. I don't like questions written this way (and I don't like this dismissal of how we should all know it's California intrinsically just because Robinson Jeffers is mentioned, because last I checked he was from America too and I certainly got this tossup somewhere in the middle without having to rely on someone else freeing it up through a neg, by figuring out that using the word polity was a poor attempt to hide that it wanted a state). Mike Sorice commented immediately after that he expected that tossup to draw negs for America in lots of rooms, and I agree. This philosophy of expecting prompts to save people from a poorly phrased tossup is not a good one, and instead we should just do everything we can to put all our cards on the table with regard to saying what the answer line should be about, or else not write the question.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:19 pm

HKirsch wrote:Even at a novice tournament, they're probably not tossing up "United States."
Someone has clearly never seen the CBI distributional requirements that mandate 2/0 per tournament on "the United States" and/or "English."
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:25 pm

Hey, I just wanted to drop in and say I think all the questions listed in this thread are fine and that people need to stop making pronouncements like "all common link tossups ever are terrible" and then trying to nitpick questions that have no problems just to support their flimsy premise. Purging questions like this from novice tournaments will eliminate a chief way that such tournaments ask questions that are interesting without being overly hard. I think we would be doing a major disservice to the easy-tournament audience to take such a priori dogmas as "don't ever write common link tossups" as gospel, especially when the people complaining about "what if people buzzed in with The United States!" did in fact buzz in with "California" because anyone playing quizbowl can understand what is and isn't going to be the answer there. Asking questions that show people that quizbowl can be interesting and fun, without abandoning the need for people to actually answer things, is what makes MUT one of the best low-level tournaments out there. It shouldn't be destroyed just because some people are on a needless crusade against common-link questions.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:37 pm

Asking questions that show people that quizbowl can be interesting and fun, without abandoning the need for people to actually answer things, is what makes MUT one of the best low-level tournaments out there. It shouldn't be destroyed just because some people are on a needless crusade against common-link questions.
Where is anyone saying anything like this? I also think these questions are good, but I happen to think that that common link tossups have yet to reach a platonic ideal, and I was floating my own ideas on how to move in that direction. I'm unclear as to why that somehow leads you to jump to "let's destroy MUT" or "crusade against common-link" - if anything, I'm hoping that this discussion produces more, better common links, although I can't speak for anyone else.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:48 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Hey, I just wanted to drop in and say I think all the questions listed in this thread are fine and that people need to stop making pronouncements like "all common link tossups ever are terrible" and then trying to nitpick questions that have no problems just to support their flimsy premise. Purging questions like this from novice tournaments will eliminate a chief way that such tournaments ask questions that are interesting without being overly hard. I think we would be doing a major disservice to the easy-tournament audience to take such a priori dogmas as "don't ever write common link tossups" as gospel, especially when the people complaining about "what if people buzzed in with The United States!" did in fact buzz in with "California" because anyone playing quizbowl can understand what is and isn't going to be the answer there. Asking questions that show people that quizbowl can be interesting and fun, without abandoning the need for people to actually answer things, is what makes MUT one of the best low-level tournaments out there. It shouldn't be destroyed just because some people are on a needless crusade against common-link questions.
Even though I wouldn't have buzzed with the US there, that question is legitimately confusing. Furthermore, it's confusing in an easily fixable way that takes nothing away from the interesting aspect of the question. I'm suggesting that in the future people do just that to avoid possible confusion, even if they think that people ought to know that or not buzz with a plausible alternative answer. The less ambiguity in the answer line, the better.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by cdcarter » Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:44 pm

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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:38 pm

Charlie, there is already an analogue to your scenario written into the rules of quizbowl. If someone knows a lot about Mao Zedong, but thinks his family name is "Zedong" because they don't know how Chinese naming works, they will be negged. At some point, you have to have the requisite knowledge to answer the tossup correctly, even if you do have some other knowledge that might lead you to buzz.
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by SnookerUSF » Fri May 01, 2009 1:28 am

theMoMA wrote: Second, the poststructuralist critique of anthropology is one of the most important movements in literary criticism and social science right now.
Testify, brother!

Second, I enjoyed this set immensely. As far the fractious polity vs. state controversy is concerned-I was admittedly thrown off, so reflexively and pre-theoretically, "state" would have been my preference. Upon further reflection, I do not think any egregious error was committed though I would suggest that the kind of reasoning that prompted the use of polity over state is predicated on the assumption that there exists a fairly wide-ranging lateralizing ability on the "undergraduate level," and if this is so, then so be it, polities for all my people.

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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Fri May 01, 2009 2:27 pm

It also seems that the majority of bonuses with a smart-ass lead-in were written by me (my favorite is the one about FDR opponents "who found the taste of alphabet soup unpalatable") so apologies to folks who wanted real clues instead of snarking.
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Formerly U of Minnesota

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AlphaQuizBowler
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Wed May 06, 2009 5:30 pm

Just something about the Eden Prairie packet-
Isn't the fact that Zoroastrians consider fire holy a pretty well-known fact? I think having a lead-in about a flame in their temples is a bit easy.
William
Alpharetta High School '11
Harvard '15

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Sima Guang Hater
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Re: MUT 2009 Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed May 06, 2009 5:32 pm

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:Just something about the Eden Prairie packet-
Isn't the fact that Zoroastrians consider fire holy a pretty well-known fact? I think having a lead-in about a flame in their temples is a bit easy.
Everybody thinks fire's holy.
Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD
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Brown University, 2009
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