Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Gautam » Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:53 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:On top of this, there were multiple rounds in which there was no physics or biology question. The distribution calls for 1/1 on each of these subjects, and this shouldn't be happening either.
I am looking at the answer matrix right now, and to me it appears that every packet had tossups which were classified in the physics category.

The following are the tossup answers:

Code: Select all

Type II superconductors	Langmuir Waves	Noether's Symmetry Theorem	Liouville's Theorem	Thomas	Axions	Wigner-Eckhart	Josephson Junction	Aharonov-Bohm	Casimir effect	Fokker-Planck	dispersion	Einstein field equations	Pockels Effect	Thevenin's Theorem	albedo
The powers were incredibly stingy in this set, for one.
I spoke with Eric about this, but I certainly agree that the questions I wrote/edited later on in the editing process were somewhat stingy in power.
-The substance P tossup was literally all over the map. There are several counterexamples to Dale's principle, and as far as I can tell the one involving substance P isn't remotely important. Furthermore its a tossup on substance P, which may be important from an independent standpoint but really hasn't come up often enough to be a tossup in itself.
Upon looking this up further, I surely agree.
-Slater's rules and the Woodward-Feiser rules were very strange things to toss up. The latter is actually used, as Andy has informed us, but the former as far as I can tell isn't actually important. I've actually taken some physical chemistry, I say as I puff up my chest, so I can say that with some certainty.
There were literally two submitted tossups on Slaters rules, which made me think that these are more important in the canon and in real life. As for the Woodward Feiser rules, I felt like those are usually covered in classes like Organic Chem II (though probably not to a very great depth) from textbook searches. That prompted me to write a tossup on it and cut the submitted tossup on tritium.
-The TOR pathway is quite possibly the hardest tossup I have ever seen, nor is it really that big a deal. I wouldn't even toss it up in something like the Experiment - the fact that there was applause after this tossup should tell you how hard it is. It just so happens that its come up in some research.
Yeah, I guess that was the last big attempt to introduce signaling pathways into QB.
-The Edman degradation question should have had a more complete description of the Bergmann degradation, because the way you have it phrased isn't useful in the least.
That certainly could have been done. The only thing I really lament about the editing process for this incarnation of CO was that I didn't spend an adequate amount of time after all the questions were written/edited to review question content. Such small things would've definitely been caught by me.
-Who's going to get a bonus part on Hoescht staining besides someone studying to be a pathologist? Or a bonus part on the MOPAC software? I managed to pull them, but Jesus that's just way too hard!
Accepted. Again, I should have looked over these bonuses again. I apologize.
And as previously mentioned, there were several rounds without a biology tossup, which made it all the worst for our team.
This fault is entirely mine. I am looking at the answer matrix, and the following tossups were categorized as bio:

Code: Select all

angiotensins	Target of Rapamycin	spermatogenesis	substance p	catecholamines	MHC Class I	Telomerase	glycogen	rhodopsin	villi	myesthenia gravis		Topoisomerase	Rubisco	myelin
I think there were two packets without biology tossups: Team Lafer and Mont Pelerin Soc. The only reason why this happened was that I forgot to inform Wesley that we only needed 4 science tossups for most packets (1 bio, 1 chem, 1 phys, 1 other), and I only realized that some packets had way too many science tossups as I was placing questions into packets. I decided to cut tossups which I thought were not that great (a tossup on "endosymbiosis" and a tossup on "cAMP") and unfortunately, both ended up being bio tossups.
First, a minor factual error. The third part of the nodulation factors/nitrogen fixation bonus said something along the lines of "This element is found at the active site of nitrogenase" and wanted molybdenum. I'd like to point out that there are different isoforms of nitrogenase that use other elements at their active sites, most notably vanadium. I've worked with nitrogenase in the lab and, though I should have known molybdenum, I went with vanadium and was wrong.
Sorry about that... I'll certainly keep that in mind.
Second, and more egregiously, I believe it was the Ray/Lafer/Tabachnick/Jose packet whose 1/1 biology was a tossup on Edman degradation and a bonus on the Sanger dideoxy method/"shotgun" sequencing/pyrosequencing. Perhaps both were categorized under (bio)chemistry; in either case, I felt it quite unbalanced to have 1/1 biological methods of sequencing stuff in any one packet.
Certainly true, and something I never realized while editing. I ended up categorizing the edman degradation as chem, so that would have contributed to the confusion in my head.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by cdcarter » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:13 am

gkandlikar wrote:
The powers were incredibly stingy in this set, for one.
I spoke with Eric about this, but I certainly agree that the questions I wrote/edited later on in the editing process were somewhat stingy in power.
Is this actually an issue? If powers are stingy throughout (I'll admit I don't know if they were consistently so, I haven't seen any of the set except finals 2) then this shouldn't be an issue at all, especially since powers weren't even advertised.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:18 am

Yeah, I mean, there were some buzzes that didn't get powers that I thought probably should have, but there were no buzzes I ever heard that got a power that didn't deserve it this weekend, so I don't think anything was done too poorly with them. They were consistent.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:34 am

Harper v. Canada (Attorney General) wrote:there were no buzzes I ever heard that got a power that didn't deserve it this weekend
Did you read the Diocletian tossup? (But, yes, the rest were fine.)
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by castrioti » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:44 am

It appears that my attempts to produce a quality set of physics questions has ended in disaster once again. I chose to help Eric and Gautam out because it seemed that no one better wanted to. I believed I could do it based on Seth's and Jerry's suggestions from a year ago and and an improved database. There may be some major differences in the way I see difficulty and the way physicists see difficulty. Learning more physics will only help somewhat; I do not have the frame of mind necessary for standardization. Therefore, in the future, I will not attempt to edit any further physics questions, but will bow out to those who have degrees in the subject for reasons I will explain later. But first, a few answers to above allegations:

First, I take exception to the suggestions of Jerry and others that these questions were written directly from Wikipedia. I have used Wikipedia before to confirm medium/easy associations of answers with clues (along the lines that "if it is listed here, and documented, then it could conceivably be known"), not as sources of clues themselves, and certainly not without finding other sources which confirm the associations. Anyway, when I am checking clues, my chief perogative is to determine that they are correct, not whether or not they come from one particular source. As we see, this can fail with or without Wikipedia; what is needed is a primer on what is actually studied. I was not a physics major, so I do not have access to the full range of standard textbooks/classes someone might use/take (which turns out not to be so "standard" after all--Many universities use similar textbooks, but not all use the same ones, and class notes are often skewed to professors' interests). If you do not have this primer, you do what you can. Sometimes you fail (you will fail quite often if people demand a source in only a few specific texts which they see as "the only proper source"). I try my best to find a standard for this--I began by checking the catalogue for courses one might take at Berkeley to start out covering in my questions what should be covered in quiz bowl, with research clues from various encyclopedias, dictionaries, university physics program websites, textbooks, class notes, Harvard/Cambridge abstracts, JSTOR, or arXiv.

Second, for those who still insist I am trying to force ridiculous amounts of earth science down peoples' throats, your fundamental attribution error stemming from events from 8 years ago is noted. I am not now, nor have I ever been in favor of wildly expanding ESS distributions, only bringing ESS to the standard demanded of other questions (which, based upon people's answer selection and submissions, has dramatically improved over the past 10 years). I do not find 6/6 for the ENTIRE TOURNAMENT excessive, especially when all of the other sciences have greater distributions. If I were trying to write a vanity tournament, the ESS would all be geology--It was varied over geology, oceanography and atmospheric science. If randomization of packets resulted in more earth science than math/computer science or astronomy in the inital 20/20, that is a separate issue--I had nothing to do with randomization.

On to the questions:

I regret letting Eotvos and Thomas pass due to the problems inherent with this type of tossup, which Jerry points out, and which can end up surfacing no matter whose science you choose to write about. Physicists have the best idea which clues should go where in these. You can attempt to arrange the clues by numbers of Google hits, but it looks like this is really a hit-miss way to approach it. I let these in as "other science" but I had my reservations, which is why I tended to re-write "people science" that was submitted as something significant contributed by the scientist being asked for. For these I apologize. There are also other Thomases, which is why I' required his first name. Perhaps this was overzealous.

Dispersion - You point out that KK imaginary and non-imaginary parts refer to electric permittivity. They do, but the implications of this clue were implications for dispersion related effects. In retro, I see how this could confuse someone. However, there are dispersions of effects and in optics, it is not only a quality of materials, but it is quantitatively measured (or it would not be a distinctive quantity for materials identifications if it weren't). This question dealt with multiple types of dispersions. I suppose I should have picked ONE and stuck with it.

Sachs-Wolfe - The point of the SZ clue and other clues like it were to convey the information "these other phenomena can add to or subtract from" the shift caused by this effect. I am still not sure why this was confusing. I am not just dropping names, but also information that goes along with it. People shouldn't buzz just because they hear "SZ effect" or "giant" for Stark for that matter - listen to the context, not just the names being said. Isn't that the point?

Noether - I do not see in my notes that I required a prompt for this. I stated that Noether should be accepted, and Noether's 1st should be accepted. I have nothing in the answer line about symmetry. Is this moderator error?

Tridecavalent Iron for Seyfert Galaxies -- Obscure perhaps, but it was verified by several spectral studies. This clue sounded familiar, but I did not remember using it myself for anything in the past. As for Doppler Broadening, it is a classification issue in the question, not just "something that occurs here" among many other places. Again, the context is key.

Langmuir Waves -- OK, up to this point you (Jerry) have been reeming me up one side and down the other for allowing parallel "people clues." Now are you going to demand that I use one in the giveaway? Again, I don't see why it is necessary to say that something from science is named for someone at all if the concept is important enough. Stuff in science gets named for people. That's how it happens. If we say, OK, no more references to peoples' names at all, even if they're attached to something important, the canon will be narrowed to a point that a full distribution without overlap will not be possible. I get that we don't like science biography or parallel people clues. But what Jerry and others are suggesting seems like melodramatic overkill of the point we're trying to make.

turbulence - Is the quark-gluon plasma rightly called a "phenomenon?" If I am going to pick an easy answer and write a hard question anyway, clues of this nature will be necessary. I figured it would be a new interesting approach to an old topic, and it certainly wasn't my intention to hose anyone.

Ewald/Poisson/vdL-B - The first two have come up before, vdL-B hasn't. I wrote the 3rd part because the original three answers didn't seem hard enough to compete with others in the packet. It has become abundantly clear that my sense of what is easy is not what actual physicists sense is easy. I do not appear capable of making this kind of judgment with my current knowledge and databases. This goes for the other bonuses Jerry mentions. If you are exceptional in one science, that doesn't make you competent enough in another. Therefore, physicists should take over, or at least should oversee what is going into packets in future tournaments.

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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Geringer » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:12 am

This probably really isn't my place to comment on, so I'll keep it short.

I read two or three rounds and scorekept for the rest, and one thing really stuck out:

It really looked like the writers of the various packets didn't even re-read and self-edit their own tossups. Maybe it just happened to be prevalent in the rounds I read, but it just seemed unprofessional. From what I've understood so far, the CO is like the Holy Grail of college tournaments and would demand the respect to at least spend some time on your work.

Sorry if what I'm saying pisses anyone off...
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by MLafer » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:40 am

Again I'm disturbed by this tendency to defer to so-called experts when determining what is and isn't askable in quiz bowl. Do we really want to say "Charlie Dees and Hannah Kirsch haven't heard of this, so it shouldn't come up"? Compare this to Jerry's post -- he doesn't say "I am a physicist! I have never heard of this therefore it should not come up!" but cites a specific textbook on the topic and notes that two of the three terms used were not even in the textbook and a third was a small footnote. It is clear to me from his argument that this bonus was too hard. Simply bowing to the whims of a few undergraduate students whenever something they aren't familiar with comes up is nonsense and puts artificial constraints on the canon that may not reflect the significance of things in the real world.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:01 am

I think we tend to defer to Charlie and Hannah (and Aaron, too) because they're excellent insights into that real world. If you were objecting to deferring to talented pure quizbowler x, who holds the record for most leadin buzzes on music tossups per tournament, then yeah, that would be a problem. But I trust Charlie and Hannah and Aaron as conduits for the real-world relevancy of various pieces, and my trust isn't limited to those three; they're just the most proven.

EDIT: Also, they're hardly a monolith. Dees was initially upset over that Argentinian dude and said he shouldn't come up; in contrast, Hannah was happy he did and various others said that he was a reasonable, if hard, choice (perhaps in isolation; I think no one is too happy about the huge predominance of twentieth-century stuff). I don't think Dees is still much griping about that one and I don't think that, if he were, we'd automatically defer to that griping.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:31 am

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I think we tend to defer to Charlie and Hannah (and Aaron, too) because they're excellent insights into that real world. If you were objecting to deferring to talented pure quizbowler x, who holds the record for most leadin buzzes on music tossups per tournament, then yeah, that would be a problem. But I trust Charlie and Hannah and Aaron as conduits for the real-world relevancy of various pieces, and my trust isn't limited to those three; they're just the most proven.

EDIT: Also, they're hardly a monolith. Dees was initially upset over that Argentinian dude and said he shouldn't come up; in contrast, Hannah was happy he did and various others said that he was a reasonable, if hard, choice (perhaps in isolation; I think no one is too happy about the huge predominance of twentieth-century stuff). I don't think Dees is still much griping about that one and I don't think that, if he were, we'd automatically defer to that griping.
By Argentinian dude, you mean Ginastera? Ginastera is awesome and should totally be coming up at a hard tournament like this.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:46 am

Verhoeven's Giant Tree Rat wrote:By Argentinian dude, you mean Ginastera? Ginastera is awesome and should totally be coming up at a hard tournament like this.
But Matt Lafer observes that, unlike Charlie and Hannah, you're not a Trusted Undergraduate (tm). How may we process this advice my cpu is broken
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by wd4gdz » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:53 am

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Verhoeven's Giant Tree Rat wrote:By Argentinian dude, you mean Ginastera? Ginastera is awesome and should totally be coming up at a hard tournament like this.
But Matt Lafer observes that, unlike Charlie and Hannah, you're not a Trusted Undergraduate (tm). How may we process this advice my cpu is broken
We'll have to wait until Charlie says if he has seen one of his works performed, duh.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:58 am

I hadn't heard of Ginastera before this weekend, but that doesn't say much; my knowledge of the "real" classical world is not absolute. Unlike Jerry and physics I can't point you to a textbook, because the classical music canon is not as well-delineated as the sciences, especially when it comes to late 20th century composers. On the other hand, I'll say that the Ives/Schuman/Harris bonus is really, really pushing it. And yes, I think part of the reason why Ginastera seemed hard is because this tournament was overloaded with modern music.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:20 am

The Gold Gringo wrote:I hadn't heard of Ginastera before this weekend, but that doesn't say much; my knowledge of the "real" classical world is not absolute. Unlike Jerry and physics I can't point you to a textbook, because the classical music canon is not as well-delineated as the sciences, especially when it comes to late 20th century composers.


Ya, nobody knows everything (I'll freely admit to being ignorant of most 18th century music, for instance). Music is a lot more like literature in that regard, even if the technical vocab has caused some people (including me) to make analogies with science questions.
On the other hand, I'll say that the Ives/Schuman/Harris bonus is really, really pushing it.
The prospect that Eric Kwartler and I are the only two quizbowlers who appreciate the impact that Schuman and Harris had on the American musical world is a sad one indeed. Any chance I could see that question?
And yes, I think part of the reason why Ginastera seemed hard is because this tournament was overloaded with modern music.
No argument there.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by MLafer » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:42 am

I also missed this earlier in the thread...
I made negs on the Clock symphony and the Concord Sonata because of this - in the Clock symphony, it says that there is a double fugue in the finale then a line later names JP Salomon. Salomon gave the Jupiter Symphony its name, and the Jupiter symphony has an extremely famous double fugue right at the end of its finale.
Here is the section of the tossup in question:
while the fourth movement contains an extremely difficult double fugue section with a violin [part] written specifically for a string section led by Johann Peter Salomon.
Now aside from my prolixity I don't see the problem here. There are not two non-uniquely identifying clues here as you claim. Simply because I mention Salomon's name does not mean this clue applies to the Jupiter Symphony. It seems like you reflex buzzed on a certain clue without considering what the clue actually said. Even if I did consider myself in the wrong, I really don't see what I could have done, in the course of writing this question, to prevent this from happening. I am not a classical music person by any means. Am I supposed to google each pair of clues in the question to make sure they don't apply to a different work? It's time consuming enough writing questions up to today's standards as it is.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:03 pm

MLafer wrote:Again I'm disturbed by this tendency to defer to so-called experts when determining what is and isn't askable in quiz bowl. Do we really want to say "Charlie Dees and Hannah Kirsch haven't heard of this, so it shouldn't come up"? Compare this to Jerry's post -- he doesn't say "I am a physicist! I have never heard of this therefore it should not come up!" but cites a specific textbook on the topic and notes that two of the three terms used were not even in the textbook and a third was a small footnote. It is clear to me from his argument that this bonus was too hard. Simply bowing to the whims of a few undergraduate students whenever something they aren't familiar with comes up is nonsense and puts artificial constraints on the canon that may not reflect the significance of things in the real world.
I just wanted to say that I completely agree with Lafer here. (This actually dovetails with some stuff I want to say in the "music experts" thread, if I find the time.) I'm also disturbed by what I, with Lafer, perceive as a tendency in this community to defer to a couple of self-anointed "experts" in various fields, as if their expertise were self-evident just because they ascribe it to themselves. Moreover, even if some of them actually do possess "expertise" in a given field of study, it doesn't automatically follow that their pronouncements about how that field should be reflected in quizbowl ought to be taken as authoritative.

For instance, I don't think there's much to be gained by canvassing a couple of undergraduates about whether they think someone like Ginastera "should" or "shouldn't" come up in quizbowl. (Personally, speaking as someone who has performed works of Ginastera in public recitals -- how's THAT for self-anointed expertise! -- I thought that question pretty much blew, as it didn't describe any works that I, as someone with fairly extensive knowledge of the subject, could recognize, and then abruptly ended with "name this Argentinian composer." But I digress.) There are very few people in quizbowl who are so thoroughly conversant with both (a) an actual field of study and (b) the way that field of study has been reflected in the game that their ukases about what "can" or "cannot" be asked, especially at a tournament like CO, ought to be taken seriously.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by MLafer » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:20 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I think we tend to defer to Charlie and Hannah (and Aaron, too) because they're excellent insights into that real world. If you were objecting to deferring to talented pure quizbowler x, who holds the record for most leadin buzzes on music tossups per tournament, then yeah, that would be a problem. But I trust Charlie and Hannah and Aaron as conduits for the real-world relevancy of various pieces, and my trust isn't limited to those three; they're just the most proven.

EDIT: Also, they're hardly a monolith. Dees was initially upset over that Argentinian dude and said he shouldn't come up; in contrast, Hannah was happy he did and various others said that he was a reasonable, if hard, choice (perhaps in isolation; I think no one is too happy about the huge predominance of twentieth-century stuff). I don't think Dees is still much griping about that one and I don't think that, if he were, we'd automatically defer to that griping.
Andy, this is all very reasonable, but I think your 2nd paragraph exemplifies the problem that I'm having...what if say Hannah didn't know about this message board, and Charlie posts his anti-Ginastera post. Then maybe a third person posts a 2nd anti-Ginastera post. It now becomes "common knowledge" that Ginastera is apparently not an appropriate answer for quiz bowl. Now Hannah doesn't get to answer any Ginastera questions just because she was not able to lend her voice to the discussion.
It's fine with me if you don't write any Henry Cowell tossups because two people you trust told you he wasn't important, but it seems eminently unfair to me to allow a cabal of a few people influencing the most prolific writers on the circuit (who all read this board) on what can and cannot be written on.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:24 pm

castrioti wrote:Langmuir Waves -- OK, up to this point you (Jerry) have been reeming me up one side and down the other for allowing parallel "people clues." Now are you going to demand that I use one in the giveaway? Again, I don't see why it is necessary to say that something from science is named for someone at all if the concept is important enough. Stuff in science gets named for people. That's how it happens. If we say, OK, no more references to peoples' names at all, even if they're attached to something important, the canon will be narrowed to a point that a full distribution without overlap will not be possible. I get that we don't like science biography or parallel people clues. But what Jerry and others are suggesting seems like melodramatic overkill of the point we're trying to make.
Here's the thing about this; these are usually just called "plasma waves" or "plasma oscillations." If you're going to demand Langmuir, you probably ought tip that that's what you want.

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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:25 pm

MLafer wrote:Andy, this is all very reasonable, but I think your 2nd paragraph exemplifies the problem that I'm having...what if say Hannah didn't know about this message board, and Charlie posts his anti-Ginastera post. Then maybe a third person posts a 2nd anti-Ginastera post. It now becomes "common knowledge" that Ginastera is apparently not an appropriate answer for quiz bowl. Now Hannah doesn't get to answer any Ginastera questions just because she was not able to lend her voice to the discussion.
It's fine with me if you don't write any Henry Cowell tossups because two people you trust told you he wasn't important, but it seems eminently unfair to me to allow a cabal of a few people influencing the most prolific writers on the circuit (who all read this board) on what can and cannot be written on.
Well, yeah; that's certainly true. I think in order to prevent the above problem, we don't simply ask Charlie and Hannah and then close the topic. Do we weigh their opinion above mine, which would be little better than a coin toss? Sure, and we ought to. But people of various levels of expertise weigh in, and we gauge how much we should weight their opinions based on self-reported credentials--or, if we have a better option, the best approximation we have of their actual credentials.

I'll concede that if we just let them reign supreme, that would be stupid; I suppose I reacted as I did because it doesn't seem like we're very close to doing so.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:48 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Verhoeven's Giant Tree Rat wrote:By Argentinian dude, you mean Ginastera? Ginastera is awesome and should totally be coming up at a hard tournament like this.
But Matt Lafer observes that, unlike Charlie and Hannah, you're not a Trusted Undergraduate (tm). How may we process this advice my cpu is broken
And I never will be!
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:12 pm

castrioti wrote:It appears that my attempts to produce a quality set of physics questions has ended in disaster once again. I chose to help Eric and Gautam out because it seemed that no one better wanted to. I believed I could do it based on Seth's and Jerry's suggestions from a year ago and and an improved database. There may be some major differences in the way I see difficulty and the way physicists see difficulty. Learning more physics will only help somewhat; I do not have the frame of mind necessary for standardization. Therefore, in the future, I will not attempt to edit any further physics questions, but will bow out to those who have degrees in the subject for reasons I will explain later. But first, a few answers to above allegations:
I don't understand what "standardization" has to do with it. I spent a lot of time pointing to very specific problems with the questions I saw and explaining why those are problematic. It's not a question of "seeing difficulty" differently from me and Seth, it's a question of looking at your sources and deciding whether a clue is useful or not, or whether it's true or not.
First, I take exception to the suggestions of Jerry and others that these questions were written directly from Wikipedia.
Well, as I said, I found at least one "giveaway" clue that was linked to directly from the Wiki page for that answer, and a lot more things that looked like the information was pulled from the Wiki. If you didn't do this, then that's fine, but...
I have used Wikipedia before to confirm medium/easy associations of answers with clues (along the lines that "if it is listed here, and documented, then it could conceivably be known")
This is a terrible idea! Why are you doing this? The quality of Wikipedia's science entries nonwithstanding, even if we assume that everything on there is true, you can't just take Wikipedia to be representative of what people know. We don't read Wiki pages on the Pockels effect, we actually go to class and do research; as a one time scientist, you can't possibly not know this. So whatever the Wiki claims is associated with thing X has actually no relevance to whether or not anyone will answer that question.
Anyway, when I am checking clues, my chief perogative is to determine that they are correct, not whether or not they come from one particular source. As we see, this can fail with or without Wikipedia; what is needed is a primer on what is actually studied. I was not a physics major, so I do not have access to the full range of standard textbooks/classes someone might use/take (which turns out not to be so "standard" after all--Many universities use similar textbooks, but not all use the same ones, and class notes are often skewed to professors' interests).
So, for example, you can use MIT's OpenCourseware website, where there's lots of stuff available for free. Does some of it skew to a given professor's interest? Surely. But there's a great deal of standard coverage among science classes and there really are certain textbooks that are just canonical in many classes. Even when different textbooks are used the material is usually the same; you're going to learn the same things in the first semester of QM at any decent institution. As for checking sources, yeah, you need some kind of authoritative source, like a textbook. For most people I would tell them to go to their university library and check one out but I don't know if that's an option for you.
If you do not have this primer, you do what you can. Sometimes you fail (you will fail quite often if people demand a source in only a few specific texts which they see as "the only proper source"). I try my best to find a standard for this--I began by checking the catalogue for courses one might take at Berkeley to start out covering in my questions what should be covered in quiz bowl, with research clues from various encyclopedias, dictionaries, university physics program websites, textbooks, class notes, Harvard/Cambridge abstracts, JSTOR, or arXiv.
I'm not claiming at all that only a few textbooks are a proper source. I am telling you, for example in reference to a bonus on Ewald summation, that this is footnoted in one of the most popular graduate texts in solid state physics. So there I am sitting there like a moron going "This is what you do to find the Madelung constant, what the hell is it called?" and I don't understand why that couldn't be a question on the Madelung constat, or why, if you were absolutely determined to have Ewald be an answer, you couldn't give a clue about a much more famous thing he did which is the method of constructing the first Brillouin zone. This is the kind of thing you would be doing if you had a grasp on difficulty.
Second, for those who still insist I am trying to force ridiculous amounts of earth science down peoples' throats, your fundamental attribution error stemming from events from 8 years ago is noted. I am not now, nor have I ever been in favor of wildly expanding ESS distributions, only bringing ESS to the standard demanded of other questions (which, based upon people's answer selection and submissions, has dramatically improved over the past 10 years). I do not find 6/6 for the ENTIRE TOURNAMENT excessive, especially when all of the other sciences have greater distributions. If I were trying to write a vanity tournament, the ESS would all be geology--It was varied over geology, oceanography and atmospheric science. If randomization of packets resulted in more earth science than math/computer science or astronomy in the inital 20/20, that is a separate issue--I had nothing to do with randomization.
All right, I'll take your word for it. I was extrapolating from who was editing and what I saw as an excess of earth science relative to other categories, especially CS. It looks like I was wrong about that.
I regret letting Eotvos and Thomas pass due to the problems inherent with this type of tossup, which Jerry points out, and which can end up surfacing no matter whose science you choose to write about. Physicists have the best idea which clues should go where in these. You can attempt to arrange the clues by numbers of Google hits, but it looks like this is really a hit-miss way to approach it. I let these in as "other science" but I had my reservations, which is why I tended to re-write "people science" that was submitted as something significant contributed by the scientist being asked for. For these I apologize. There are also other Thomases, which is why I' required his first name. Perhaps this was overzealous.
No, see, that's not right. There's nothing wrong with a tossup that is basically stuff named after a scientist. I've written plenty of these questions and they're fine. For example, I recently wrote a tossup on David Hilbert from such clues (for VETO). But the difference is that there's lots of stuff relating to Hilbert that a) people encounter when they take classes in math and physics and b) can be arranged in a tossup in a pyramidal fashion. That's why Hilbert is a good tossup answer and Eotvos and Thomas are not; neither condition is satisfied for them.

As for the bit about "other Thomases," you've contrived to miss my point. Your first clue literally refers to a dude who is not Llewellyn Thomas (could not be him, even) and yet your answer line demands that people give his first name. But even if it weren't so, it would still be ridiculous to demand his first name because who is going to know that (well, I did, but still)? If the question were on the general I mentioned before, George Thomas, no one would demand a prompt; that would be crazy and irrelevant. If the answer is Douglas Adams the author, we don't prompt to distinguish him from John Adams the president (or even Richard Adams the author, for that matter). Not to mention that I literally do not know of another Thomas in physics who is particularly famous, and most people don't even know this Thomas!
Dispersion - You point out that KK imaginary and non-imaginary parts refer to electric permittivity. They do, but the implications of this clue were implications for dispersion related effects.
What a horrible rationalization; I'm not a mind reader, I have no idea what you're implying! If you're telling me that "The Kramers-Kronig relations link the real and imaginary parts of this thing" then I am going to buzz and say "permittivity," because that is the thing that matches the clue. I think it's pretty weird that I need to explain this, but that's how quizbowl works. It doesn't work by me guessing what you're trying to say. There are all kinds of ways to say what you wanted to say without confusing people (talking about the attenuation constant, for example) but the way you did say it was not right.
In retro, I see how this could confuse someone. However, there are dispersions of effects and in optics, it is not only a quality of materials, but it is quantitatively measured (or it would not be a distinctive quantity for materials identifications if it weren't). This question dealt with multiple types of dispersions. I suppose I should have picked ONE and stuck with it.
I get that dispersion is quantitatively measured; my point was about the usefulness of the clues you used. For example, as I pointed out before, you threw in a bit about the CEDM in there, which doesn't really link the listener to dispersion in any way. Maybe there is a link after all, but certainly not in the way you phrased it, and I'm not about to hear that and just guess something that happens in materials.
Sachs-Wolfe - The point of the SZ clue and other clues like it were to convey the information "these other phenomena can add to or subtract from" the shift caused by this effect. I am still not sure why this was confusing. I am not just dropping names, but also information that goes along with it. People shouldn't buzz just because they hear "SZ effect" or "giant" for Stark for that matter - listen to the context, not just the names being said. Isn't that the point?
Answering that in reverse. Your Pockels effect question began "Two bulk mechanisms for the quantum-confined version of this effect," at which point I made the eminently justified buzz of "Stark" because it has bulk mechanisms and a quantum confined version. Oops, fuck my knowledge. Was it so hard to put a "It's not the Stark effect, but..." at the beginning? Because that would have given context, which the question didn't have before.

As for the SZ/ISW distinction: as I said before, I've just spent 3 weeks studying this stuff. I'm taking an exam on it tomorrow. SZ and ISW are totally different; one comes from scattering, the other from gravitational interactions. Furthermore they are active in different parts of the spectrum: SZ operates at high multipole moments and ISW is most significant at low multipoles. I realize this sounds like gibberish to most people and doesn't really affect anything particularly, but it's just an example of sloppiness. To say that these are competing effects is to indicate that you didn't really look at what they are (again, something even Wikipedia will tell you). They may be "competing" in some trivial sense, but that statement is meaningless to people who understand what's being discussed.
Noether - I do not see in my notes that I required a prompt for this. I stated that Noether should be accepted, and Noether's 1st should be accepted. I have nothing in the answer line about symmetry. Is this moderator error?
I guess that's something that remained unchanged from the original submission. It should have been taken out.
Tridecavalent Iron for Seyfert Galaxies -- Obscure perhaps, but it was verified by several spectral studies. This clue sounded familiar, but I did not remember using it myself for anything in the past. As for Doppler Broadening, it is a classification issue in the question, not just "something that occurs here" among many other places. Again, the context is key.
Search for "tridecavalent iron" on google and you will be pointed to your own question from 2005 ACF Regionals. My research indicates that what it seems we're talking about is the K-alpha line in iron, whose position and width is indicative of the ionization state of the iron. I have no idea whether that evaluates to tridecavalent iron for Seyferts, though it might, since their K-alpha lines are stronger; in any case, that's a very confusing clue in my view. Reading an encyclopedia article suggests to me that Doppler effects are used in classifying all types of AGNs as well. I'm not going to argue that AGN is equivalent to Seyferts, but I do want to point out that, once again, the wording of your question is awfully confusing and at least partially ambiguous with respect to the answer being sought.
Langmuir Waves -- OK, up to this point you (Jerry) have been reeming me up one side and down the other for allowing parallel "people clues."
No! I never said that! What I said was that several of your questions were misguided in their choice of people to write about because the clues available for them are by and large useless to scientists.
Now are you going to demand that I use one in the giveaway? Again, I don't see why it is necessary to say that something from science is named for someone at all if the concept is important enough. Stuff in science gets named for people. That's how it happens. If we say, OK, no more references to peoples' names at all, even if they're attached to something important, the canon will be narrowed to a point that a full distribution without overlap will not be possible. I get that we don't like science biography or parallel people clues. But what Jerry and others are suggesting seems like melodramatic overkill of the point we're trying to make.
We're not saying that at all! No one is saying that. What I'm saying is that a) plasma physics is a legitimately hard topic that only a few people in quizbowl even have the slightest background in, b) Langmuir waves are a rather difficult and technical subtopic of that already difficult topic, and c) Langmuir has a few other important things named after him. The least you can do in such an instance is to try and jog people's memory a little bit; that's what I'd have done if I'd written a tossup on Langmuir waves. I'm not saying that this excuses my failure to pull the answer, but your giveaway was genuinely confusing to me (I remember studying Langmuir waves and I don't remember anyone ever telling me that they were the fastest matter waves). Not only that, but in my class, they were just called "plasma oscillations" and I'm not sure if Langmuir's name was attached to them more than once. So again, if I were writing this question, knowing what I know I would give people at least a hint that this was named after an important plasma guy and not expect them to just pull that information.
turbulence - Is the quark-gluon plasma rightly called a "phenomenon?" If I am going to pick an easy answer and write a hard question anyway, clues of this nature will be necessary. I figured it would be a new interesting approach to an old topic, and it certainly wasn't my intention to hose anyone.
I don't see why the quark-gluon plasma is not a phenomenon. More importantly, I don't see why you chose a single paper on Arxiv as your clue source; it's a virtual guarantee that not only have people not read the paper (usually a safe assumption) but they have also not even heard of this approach. I study early universe physics, I've been to conferences on early universe physics, I've read many papers on early universe physics, and I've never heard anyone talk about primordial turbulence. Not only that, but your very source seems to imply (I have skimmed the article twice now) that the turbulence in question is being studied in a quark-gluon plasma, which is believed to appear exactly on the timescale given by your leadin.
Ewald/Poisson/vdL-B - The first two have come up before, vdL-B hasn't. I wrote the 3rd part because the original three answers didn't seem hard enough to compete with others in the packet.
I feel like a broken record: that's crazy! Not hard enough? What are you talking about? Did any team get more than 10 points on this bonus? Raise your hands if you did, please. For the record, I don't remember the Ewald summation being an answer in any recent (i.e. within the last 3 years) tournament; the most it could have ever been was a clue for Madelung constant, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Regardless, those parts are ass-hard. The third part has only not ever been an answer, I don't ever remember it as a clue and I also don't remember ever encountering this nomenclature in years of QM and solid state classes.
It has become abundantly clear that my sense of what is easy is not what actual physicists sense is easy. I do not appear capable of making this kind of judgment with my current knowledge and databases. This goes for the other bonuses Jerry mentions. If you are exceptional in one science, that doesn't make you competent enough in another. Therefore, physicists should take over, or at least should oversee what is going into packets in future tournaments.
Well, your sense of easy can't just be "this is mentioned in a packet somewhere therefore everyone knows it" because that's not how people know things. It needs to be modulated by some sense of what's important in the field, hopefully gleaned from textbooks. I realize this is a challenge for people who are not scientists, but there's a lot you can do to mitigate these problems just by doing some research. I know when I've had to write chemistry and bio questions in the past, I would do my best to consult textbooks and other reputable sources and actually try and understand what's going on so that I wasn't just writing nonsense.

I make mistakes; we all make mistakes. I don't think people should be burned at the stake for an honest simple mistake and I've never advocated for such a thing. What I do think is that when you sit down to write questions, you are responsible for gauging their difficulty and evaluating clues for their usefulness and uniquely identifying aspect. The questions in this set didn't look like they were produced via such a method; they looked like they were slapped together without any particular regard for those standards. I'm not accusing you, Wesley, of laziness so much as I think you just did a sloppy job that you thought would be good enough and it turned out not to be. It is also not my intention to make you stop editing questions, even physics questions, altogether. Rather, I want this thread to be a learning experience (via, unfortunately, mostly negative examples) for people who may have to write or edit physics and other science without specialist knowledge. The key points that I am trying to get across is that specificity matters, uniqueness matters, correct sourcing matters. That's true for all questions, but science presents a special problem, and I just want people to learn from this and move forward writing good science questions even if they're not on the most inventive topics ever.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:25 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Second, for those who still insist I am trying to force ridiculous amounts of earth science down peoples' throats, your fundamental attribution error stemming from events from 8 years ago is noted. I am not now, nor have I ever been in favor of wildly expanding ESS distributions, only bringing ESS to the standard demanded of other questions (which, based upon people's answer selection and submissions, has dramatically improved over the past 10 years). I do not find 6/6 for the ENTIRE TOURNAMENT excessive, especially when all of the other sciences have greater distributions. If I were trying to write a vanity tournament, the ESS would all be geology--It was varied over geology, oceanography and atmospheric science. If randomization of packets resulted in more earth science than math/computer science or astronomy in the inital 20/20, that is a separate issue--I had nothing to do with randomization.
All right, I'll take your word for it. I was extrapolating from who was editing and what I saw as an excess of earth science relative to other categories, especially CS. It looks like I was wrong about that.
I don't often see 6/6 ES in a tournament of what seems like sixteen packets (14 drr, 2 finals). That's three-eighths of the other science; I think the only "other science" ordinarily given that kind of dominant place is math. I will grant that it's not like you made other science 90% earth science, but you did increase it a lot. Moreover, I'd posit that earth science simply can't withstand the sort of answers you chose, since relatively few of us study earth science (many more study math; probably as many study astro and CS). If the earth science were being converted at similar rates to other other science (or other science categories, like bio and chem), then it'd have been less weird a feeling; as it was, it felt like a big fuck you, probably because I came into this tournament hoping to convert more than half of the science and maybe two or three non-science tossups.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:28 pm

Since I was reading the round where the Noether's Theorem thing did come up, it did require Noether's First Theorem (or Noether's Symmetry Theorem). This was probably just a honest mistake with an overzealous answer line that slipped through editing.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:32 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
MLafer wrote:Andy, this is all very reasonable, but I think your 2nd paragraph exemplifies the problem that I'm having...what if say Hannah didn't know about this message board, and Charlie posts his anti-Ginastera post. Then maybe a third person posts a 2nd anti-Ginastera post. It now becomes "common knowledge" that Ginastera is apparently not an appropriate answer for quiz bowl. Now Hannah doesn't get to answer any Ginastera questions just because she was not able to lend her voice to the discussion.
It's fine with me if you don't write any Henry Cowell tossups because two people you trust told you he wasn't important, but it seems eminently unfair to me to allow a cabal of a few people influencing the most prolific writers on the circuit (who all read this board) on what can and cannot be written on.
Well, yeah; that's certainly true. I think in order to prevent the above problem, we don't simply ask Charlie and Hannah and then close the topic. Do we weigh their opinion above mine, which would be little better than a coin toss? Sure, and we ought to. But people of various levels of expertise weigh in, and we gauge how much we should weight their opinions based on self-reported credentials--or, if we have a better option, the best approximation we have of their actual credentials.

I'll concede that if we just let them reign supreme, that would be stupid; I suppose I reacted as I did because it doesn't seem like we're very close to doing so.
I mean, I certainly hope you wouldn't just let us reign supreme, and really I don't think there's any danger of anyone doing so. For one thing, players like Andrew Yaphe and Jerry and Matt are much more dominant... I liked seeing Ginastera come up but thought the question could have been done better, for instance, but plenty of people disagree with me and say it's a fine question; I'm wrong a lot.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:45 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I'm also disturbed by what I, with Lafer, perceive as a tendency in this community to defer to a couple of self-anointed "experts" in various fields, as if their expertise were self-evident just because they ascribe it to themselves. Moreover, even if some of them actually do possess "expertise" in a given field of study, it doesn't automatically follow that their pronouncements about how that field should be reflected in quizbowl ought to be taken as authoritative.
I certainly don't claim to be music expert, let alone an expert on the theory of difficulty in quizbowl, and I don't think Hannah and Charlie do either. We're just three players among many who, because we know some stuff about music and get much of our points from music questions, are interested in weighing in on the discussion.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:58 pm

HKirsch wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
MLafer wrote:Andy, this is all very reasonable, but I think your 2nd paragraph exemplifies the problem that I'm having...what if say Hannah didn't know about this message board, and Charlie posts his anti-Ginastera post. Then maybe a third person posts a 2nd anti-Ginastera post. It now becomes "common knowledge" that Ginastera is apparently not an appropriate answer for quiz bowl. Now Hannah doesn't get to answer any Ginastera questions just because she was not able to lend her voice to the discussion.
It's fine with me if you don't write any Henry Cowell tossups because two people you trust told you he wasn't important, but it seems eminently unfair to me to allow a cabal of a few people influencing the most prolific writers on the circuit (who all read this board) on what can and cannot be written on.
Well, yeah; that's certainly true. I think in order to prevent the above problem, we don't simply ask Charlie and Hannah and then close the topic. Do we weigh their opinion above mine, which would be little better than a coin toss? Sure, and we ought to. But people of various levels of expertise weigh in, and we gauge how much we should weight their opinions based on self-reported credentials--or, if we have a better option, the best approximation we have of their actual credentials.

I'll concede that if we just let them reign supreme, that would be stupid; I suppose I reacted as I did because it doesn't seem like we're very close to doing so.
I mean, I certainly hope you wouldn't just let us reign supreme, and really I don't think there's any danger of anyone doing so. For one thing, players like Andrew Yaphe and Jerry and Matt are much more dominant... I liked seeing Ginastera come up but thought the question could have been done better, for instance, but plenty of people disagree with me and say it's a fine question; I'm wrong a lot.
I have no idea if it was actually a good question, I was just defending the answer choice. In fact, if you and Andrew both think it could have been written better, then... well, it probably could've been written better. Any chance someone can post the Ginastera TU?

I think the authority of "music players" such as Charlie or Aaron or you (or maybe even myself, if people actually trust me at all with these kinds of things) is a lot more important and useful when it comes to talking about the kinds of clues that are buzzable, and other such technical matters of question-writing. When it comes to importance, canonicity, or popularity (which are very often three entirely different things), I think such advice can be useful but should not be taken blindly. Luckily, it seems like there's a lot more consensus on what makes a good question than there is on whether we should be asking about, say, Schuman or Sussmayr. Ergo, even if someone were giving these subjective canon pronouncements more weight than they deserve, there are enough competing voices that in time I'm optimistic the end result will fairly incorporate all areas, which is the point of a balanced distribution anyway.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:42 pm

It will come as a surprise to no one that I don't particularly care what extra-canon stuff "music players" think is really important and should come up more (at least not when I'm writing my questions). All this discussion about whether people have too much influence on the canon seems somewhat misguided. When you write questions, you should consider how your question will play for the field, whether it will do the job it's supposed to do (that is, accurately discriminate knowledge levels for a normal event, or just be wonky if it's Experiment or whatever), and if it meets the definition of good quizbowl. I'd like to highlight the "play for the field" part of that metric, because it's important to remember that even if all the good music players paraded around here extolling the virtues of Ginastera tossups, that would still represent like 6 hypothetical teams (at most) and if you're not considering how that tossup plays for the other 95% of players, then surprise, you're doing it wrong.

Honestly, a lot of us have more of an influence on the canon than is really ideal, and until everyone steps back and reminds themselves that you're writing for a broad audience and not just the people who were in IRC last night and who all happened to know about Vortigern (oh man so easy!), we're going to keep having these problems.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:48 pm

DumbJaques wrote:I'd like to highlight the "play for the field" part of that metric, because it's important to remember that even if all the good music players paraded around here extolling the virtues of Ginastera tossups, that would still represent like 6 hypothetical teams (at most) and if you're not considering how that tossup plays for the other 95% of players, then surprise, you're doing it wrong.
For what it's worth, our resident Trusted Undergraduates seem to be pretty good at dividing playability from real-world importance, and we sort of seem to call on them when we want to know, after the fact, if something we thought was a little hard was at least still real-world important. And I don't think anyone takes that vote of importance (and if you do: don't!) that more questions need to be written on that dude or piece Real Soon, but rather that that dude or piece is a good direction in which baby steps might be taken.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by vandyhawk » Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:37 pm

A few thoughts as I procrastinate my dissertation-writing. I thought that Ginastera was pretty firmly in the canon, albeit as a reasonably difficult answer. I know that the Nashville Symphony performed a work of his last year, and a quick glance through next season's schedule shows another one of his on the schedule (Estancia), so I'll add some empirical evidence to him being accessible in the "real classical music world" and not being outrageously hard - pushing it as a tossup, perhaps, but not like Henry Cowell. I don't know much about William Schuman other than that Paul Gauthier is a fan, but the dude seems to have his music played pretty often.

I think Eric covered the bio/chem stuff pretty well (and I haven't seen the set), but seriously, TOR pathway is just crazy. I know that the bio tossup on C-reactive protein I wrote for last year's final went dead, but honestly that seems like a fluke. CRP has like 28,000 hits on PubMed, and I'm pretty sure I've read laymens-term articles on it linked from CNN, MSN, etc. TOR is just...really really hard. If you want to introduce signaling pathways, how about something more universal that one could come across in lots of different areas like MAPK (with about 20,000 Pubmed hits to TOR's 1500)? Also, in the med school physiology course I took, they spent < 5 mins on substance P, so that sounds pretty tough to come up with enough clues for as a tossup. I'll be curious to see that one eventually.

Jerry, I think I actually would have been able to answer Ewald summation, but I'm guessing that's b/c I had a glut of crystallography bonuses to go through for ICT in the spring and read up on Ewald, not b/c of something more legitimate.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Susan » Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:14 pm

vandyhawk wrote: I think Eric covered the bio/chem stuff pretty well (and I haven't seen the set), but seriously, TOR pathway is just crazy. I know that the bio tossup on C-reactive protein I wrote for last year's final went dead, but honestly that seems like a fluke. CRP has like 28,000 hits on PubMed, and I'm pretty sure I've read laymens-term articles on it linked from CNN, MSN, etc. TOR is just...really really hard. If you want to introduce signaling pathways, how about something more universal that one could come across in lots of different areas like MAPK (with about 20,000 Pubmed hits to TOR's 1500)? Also, in the med school physiology course I took, they spent < 5 mins on substance P, so that sounds pretty tough to come up with enough clues for as a tossup. I'll be curious to see that one eventually.
I basically agree with what Matt's saying here (except, I think, about the tossupability of C-reactive protein), but I have a few things to add, or ask:
-Where are you getting 1500 hits for TOR on PubMed? When I search for mTOR (because just "TOR" gets me a lot of unrelated stuff) I come up with about 4000.
-To my eye, mTOR, C-reactive protein, and substance P are all reasonable for the hard part of a bonus at a hard tournament; I don't think any of them are tossup-worthy. The only one I covered in class at all was mTOR; given how signaling-heavy my undergrad and grad courseloads were, I certainly don't think that makes it any more well-known than the other two.
-I would be very wary of using numbers of PubMed hits to make any claims about the famousness, or relative famousness, of answers; I think you have to put a big old asterisk by that 28,000 for CRP, because a decent fraction of those hits seem to be drug studies that monitored levels of a bunch of proteins, including CRP. Many of those are pretty low-impact papers and their importance to the study of CRP in particular is not great. Similarly, one of the proteins I worked on, RecA, has a rather overinflated number of pubmed hits because it's frequently used in bacterial molecular phylogenies (I'd guess that around 80% of the new "RecA" papers that are coming out these days are actually "whoa this bacillus is slightly different than that other bacillus" papers). If you really want some sort of PubMed-based numerical comparison, it might be more worthwhile to compare numbers of reviews published in English (which is a crude method of weeding out some of the lowest-impact reviews) rather than total numbers of papers (if you're curious, that's 743 for mTOR, 1784 for C-reactive protein, and 1505 for substance P), or conceivably by comparing hits on a PubMed bookshelf search (39 for mTor, 198 for C-reactive protein, and 132 for substance P). However, whether an answer is covered in a very standard text like Albert's, or whether it shows up in loads of class notes, is far more useful.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by setht » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:29 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I just also wanted to add that, pending a response from Seth, who probably should get the right of first refusal on this, I'll throw my hat into the ring for head editing next year's Chicago Open. I've played enough of them and would greatly enjoy editing one, and next summer looks like a good time for me to commit to such a project. If my editing offer is accepted, I'll be assembling a team for various specialist fields early in the spring.
The way editors have been picked for the last couple years has been that I go through all the old editors (pretty much in chronological order), asking if they want to do the next CO; when that doesn't generate any takers (as it hasn't for the last 3 years), I've opened things up to newcomers. Assuming no one else wants to take over the editor selection and room reservation business, I'd like to stick with that editor-selection process. Jerry, if you give me some advance warning before you actually want to get moving on anything CO-related, I'll go through the previous editors and give them right of refusal.

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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:35 pm

setht wrote:The way editors have been picked for the last couple years has been that I go through all the old editors (pretty much in chronological order), asking if they want to do the next CO; when that doesn't generate any takers (as it hasn't for the last 3 years), I've opened things up to newcomers. Assuming no one else wants to take over the editor selection and room reservation business, I'd like to stick with that editor-selection process. Jerry, if you give me some advance warning before you actually want to get moving on anything CO-related, I'll go through the previous editors and give them right of refusal.
I won't be ready to do anything until the spring, obviously, but it would be nice to be able to plan my writing for that semester at least a month or two in advance. If you want to let me know sometime before the end of the year I would appreciate it.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:40 pm

You will notice that I avoided discussing the Ginastera thing here, but did tell Tommy that I thought the question was poorly written independent of the answer choice. The reason why I was aggravated over that answer in the tournament, I realized, was simply that I was extremely frustrated for basically the sole reason that there already was an extremely skewed-to-modern distribution, which I think I've empirically proven upthread. As I said, using the example of Lutoslawski instead, if there was one question on a figure like that, or like Ginastera, per tournament, I wouldn't care, but there were lots of questions on them here, which was why all of them ended up frustrating me in concert with each other. Independently though, I still stand by my assertion with Cowell being far too hard, as a bunch of other people here seem to agree, considering I spent over 5 years studying composition and piano, taken a college class on music history have read dozens of music books, and gone to countless concerts, including a bunch that had modern music, and still only encountered him as a footnote to things by or about John Cage. Unless there's a critical mass of things about Cowell that I just happened to miss entirely during this process that are really important, I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's extremely hard.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by vandyhawk » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:52 pm

myamphigory wrote: I basically agree with what Matt's saying here (except, I think, about the tossupability of C-reactive protein), but I have a few things to add, or ask:
-Where are you getting 1500 hits for TOR on PubMed? When I search for mTOR (because just "TOR" gets me a lot of unrelated stuff) I come up with about 4000.
I did some kind of limiting "and" search for TOR, but don't remember exactly what.
myamphigory wrote:-To my eye, mTOR, C-reactive protein, and substance P are all reasonable for the hard part of a bonus at a hard tournament; I don't think any of them are tossup-worthy. The only one I covered in class at all was mTOR; given how signaling-heavy my undergrad and grad courseloads were, I certainly don't think that makes it any more well-known than the other two.
I'll agree with that. Ryan's instructions to me last year were to make the finals questions Gaddis/experimental level - I would certainly not have a tossup on CRP at anything below the difficulty level of "crazy." Maybe CRP is too purely medical for it to have been converted? I can't say exactly where I've come across it, but have many times before, so who knows.
myamphigory wrote:
-I would be very wary of using numbers of PubMed hits to make any claims about the famousness, or relative famousness, of answers; I think you have to put a big old asterisk by that 28,000 for CRP, because a decent fraction of those hits seem to be drug studies that monitored levels of a bunch of proteins, including CRP. Many of those are pretty low-impact papers and their importance to the study of CRP in particular is not great. Similarly, one of the proteins I worked on, RecA, has a rather overinflated number of pubmed hits because it's frequently used in bacterial molecular phylogenies (I'd guess that around 80% of the new "RecA" papers that are coming out these days are actually "whoa this bacillus is slightly different than that other bacillus" papers). If you really want some sort of PubMed-based numerical comparison, it might be more worthwhile to compare numbers of reviews published in English (which is a crude method of weeding out some of the lowest-impact reviews) rather than total numbers of papers (if you're curious, that's 743 for mTOR, 1784 for C-reactive protein, and 1505 for substance P), or conceivably by comparing hits on a PubMed bookshelf search (39 for mTor, 198 for C-reactive protein, and 132 for substance P). However, whether an answer is covered in a very standard text like Albert's, or whether it shows up in loads of class notes, is far more useful.
While I agree, esp. with the last sentence, if you don't have easy access to textbooks and the like, looking at Pubmed / Web of Science can at least give you some idea of how much people study something. To be a significant difference, the number of results would prob have to be like an order of magnitude though. And of course if the number is, say, 8, you are probably not choosing your topics well.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:13 pm

Eh, Mukherjee and Selene were sure to play in the finals..."crazy" on bio difficulty was clearly the way to go.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:16 pm

Well, Selene wasn't in the finals, but whatever.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:20 pm

Harper v. Canada (Attorney General) wrote:Well, Selene wasn't in the finals, but whatever.
Last year, I think he means.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by setht » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:39 pm

I don't have a copy of the questions, or any of the notes I took during the tournament, so all of what I'm about to say could wind up being incorrect.

In addition to the large amount of modern music questions that other people have mentioned already, I had the impression that there was a good deal more music + opera than there was painting + sculpture + architecture. I don't know if that's because that's what people wrote, or if people wrote visual art questions that didn't wind up in the set.

I agree with various people that the science felt weaker than the rest of the set. Jerry has already mentioned that one of the recurrent problems was questions that used misleading terms or descriptions; I think some examples of these issues can be seen in the Banach-Tarski tossup and the Alfven waves/Poynting flux/Lorentz force bonus.

I could be completely misremembering this, but from what I recall, the Banach-Tarski tossup wound up describing it as a theorem that contradicts the axiom of choice. I guess it's not wrong to call it a theorem, but I (and I think most people) generally think of it as a "paradox" and I would have been less confused at the end if that word had been used (or even just calling it a "statement" or "result" instead of a theorem--I was sitting there trying to think of a good theorem, and nothing came to mind). More importantly, I don't think the Banach-Tarski paradox/theorem contradicts the axiom of choice--it just illustrates that accepting the axiom of choice leads to some non-intuitive results.

The Alfven/Poynting/Lorentz bonus has 3 answers that are easy enough (I think) that if the juiciest physics clues were used in each part, the bonus would be too easy for CO. The bonus actually wound up with such confusing descriptions of each part that Mike Sorice and I only pulled 10 points on it--and we only managed that because I decided that Quentin Roper seems like he'd be a big fan of Alfven. I don't remember what the rest of the Alfven waves prompt said, but I've taken a graduate course on plasmas and Alfven waves show up a bit in my research, and I couldn't recognize Alfven waves from the physics clues--I don't think the prompt even said "waves," so I'm not sure we were even clear on what kind of answer we should be giving. My recollection is that the Poynting prompt just said "this is the flux that appears in the solar wind," which seems like it doesn't rule out answers of "energy flux," "momentum flux," "matter flux," or pretty much any other kind of flux--something about "electromagnetic energy flux" or the EM linear momentum density or the Maxwell stress tensor or radiation pressure (or even Poynting-Robertson drag, if talking clearly about stuff related to the Poynting vector seemed too easy) would have made that part much clearer. Finally, the Lorentz force prompt claimed that it shows up when the magnetic field lines curve. I assume this comes from the MHD decomposition of the Lorentz force into magnetic pressure and tension terms. It's true that the magnetic tension force appears when field lines curve, but magnetic pressure can appear in straight-line field geometries, which means that there can be a Lorentz force without field curvature, so I'm pretty sure the prompt was wrong as written. In addition, most people don't learn about the Lorentz force in terms of the magnetic pressure/tension decomposition, since that's generally only covered in MHD--most people learn about the Lorentz force that acts on a charged particle moving perpendicular to a magnetic field. If that simpler version of the Lorentz force was deemed to easy for the bonus part, I think the prompt should have made clear that it was talking about a force that splits into pressure- and tension-like terms in MHD.

These weren't the only science questions that did not make clear what they were asking for. Suggestions I would make include: go ahead and include stuff like "namesake waves" and "doubly-eponymous paradox" in bonus prompts and tossup giveaways. On top of that, don't use confusing/misleading terms earlier in tossups--if no one thinks of something as a lemma or a theorem, don't call it one. Finally, go ahead and throw in clues that will help people latch onto people's names or common terms if it seems like a question could use some extra help with convertability--if someone winds up answering a Langmuir waves tossup because they know about the Langmuir probe (or circulation or isotherm) that seems fine to me. In fact, it seems better than having a Langmuir waves tossup go dead in a room where someone knows about the Langmuir probe/circulation/isotherm.

Before I move off the science comments, I wanted to note a pet peeve: tossups on specific types of AGNs pretty much always seem like a bad idea to me. I suppose the radio-quiet/radio-loud categorizations might be distinct in a physically-interesting way, but trying to decide whether a tossup is on blazars in general or OVVs or BL Lac objects in particular, or Seyferts (type I or II?) vs. quasars seems lame to me. 30+ years ago it might have made sense to write questions on various AGN types as completely distinct objects, but the fact is that astronomers these days generally agree that these are all pretty much the same type of system but viewed at different angles (modulo some differences in intrinsic luminosity that don't signal any significantly different physics). I suppose the different types of systems were historically important, but I really think these questions are doomed to sucking hard: if you want to write a tossup on a specific type of AGN and make sure you distinguish from all other types of AGN, you pretty much have to go with the kinds of clues in the table here. I think a tossup that goes "they have narrow-line emission, no broad-line emission, some UV excess and show variability" *buzz* "Seyfert II" "Fifteeeeeeen" is horrible, and writing on Seyfert IIs but not Seyfert Is or quasars feels akin to writing on "the Sun, but only when I look at it with my left eye squinted and my head tilted 45 degrees to the right."
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Strongside » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:01 pm

I submitted that Alfven Waves bonus. I normally don't write science questions, and being a non-scientist, the science questions I write normally aren't great.

Here is the original bonus.

This man has laws named for him along with Blodgett and Hinshelwood. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this American Scientist who also has a namesake isotherm, wave, probe, and circulation.
ANSWER: Irving Langmuir
[10] This Swedish dude won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1970 and is known for his waves. He also has a speed, radius, and theorem, and is one of Quentin Roper’s favorite physicists.
ANSWER: Hannes Olof Gösta Alfven
[10] Alfven ways deal with these exrtremely dense stars. They were discussed by Robert Duncan and Christopher Thompson.
ANSWER: Magnetar(s) [Prompt on Neutron Stars]

The tossups on Langmuir Waves and Magnetars were probably a significant reason as to why the answers were changed.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:14 pm

Strongside wrote:This man has laws named for him along with Blodgett and Hinshelwood. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this American Scientist who also has a namesake isotherm, wave, probe, and circulation.
ANSWER: Irving Langmuir
[10] This Swedish dude won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1970 and is known for his waves. He also has a speed, radius, and theorem, and is one of Quentin Roper’s favorite physicists.
ANSWER: Hannes Olof Gösta Alfven
[10] Alfven ways deal with these exrtremely dense stars. They were discussed by Robert Duncan and Christopher Thompson.
ANSWER: Magnetar(s) [Prompt on Neutron Stars]
Could I suggest not writing bonuses like these? First of all, you might actually describe what those laws he names are, since context would at least educate people as to why they are important. Also, things like "this guy is known for waves" are really unhelpful, even when you know that Langmuir and Alfven are known for waves. It's much better to either explain what Alfven waves are or what his theorem is than it is to just list the kinds of things he names and telling us something about Quentin Roper. The third part actually needs a description of magnetars and not just the names of two notable magnetar theorists, something I guarantee even most physics people won't know even if they do know what magnetars are. Every one of these parts needs more material to flesh it out and explain what the answer is and why it's important, otherwise the bonus becomes association bowl.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:02 pm

Captain Sinico wrote: wd4gdz wrote:[Henry Cowell]'s someone that good music players have likely encountered independently of quizbowl.


The problem with this assertion is the large number of good music players telling you they haven't encountered him in any meaningful way (add my name to that list if you consider me good.)
You can add my name to that list too if you consider me good. Of course, I don't play the piano, so that doesn't say much.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by suds1000 » Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:18 am

vandyhawk wrote:
myamphigory wrote: I basically agree with what Matt's saying here (except, I think, about the tossupability of C-reactive protein), but I have a few things to add, or ask:
-Where are you getting 1500 hits for TOR on PubMed? When I search for mTOR (because just "TOR" gets me a lot of unrelated stuff) I come up with about 4000.
I did some kind of limiting "and" search for TOR, but don't remember exactly what.
myamphigory wrote:-To my eye, mTOR, C-reactive protein, and substance P are all reasonable for the hard part of a bonus at a hard tournament; I don't think any of them are tossup-worthy. The only one I covered in class at all was mTOR; given how signaling-heavy my undergrad and grad courseloads were, I certainly don't think that makes it any more well-known than the other two.
I'll agree with that. Ryan's instructions to me last year were to make the finals questions Gaddis/experimental level - I would certainly not have a tossup on CRP at anything below the difficulty level of "crazy." Maybe CRP is too purely medical for it to have been converted? I can't say exactly where I've come across it, but have many times before, so who knows.
It's likely that CRP is probably too medical/clinical to be used in quizbowl -- but even in the hospital/clinic, it's rarely if ever ordered because it almost never sways you in one direction or the other in terms of making a diagnosis. I worked with one guy who ordered hs (high-sensitivity)-CRP occasionally to assess cardiovascular risk, but that was about it.

I disagree with the detractors about Substance P, though...I learned about it for the first time in undergrad, and think it's tossup-worthy because of the role that it plays in nociception (and it has some significance even to non-biologists, as levels of it are affected by capsaicin in chili peppers). It's also really important clinically because aprepitant, a substance P antagonist, is often administered as an antiemetic for cancer patients in the postoperative setting and post-chemo. While its mechanisms may not be as well-elucidated as other neurotransmitters like serotonin or GABA, it's something that biology people should know about, and definitely isn't in any way too hard for a tournament like CO.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:52 pm

When are all of the packets from these tournaments going to be on the archives?
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by cdcarter » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:22 am

I have CO Lit and will be posting it once I get back into Minneapolis, and I am waiting on a final version of CO from Eric.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by wd4gdz » Wed Aug 26, 2009 3:10 pm

cdcarter wrote:I have CO Lit and will be posting it once I get back into Minneapolis, and I am waiting on a final version of CO from Eric.
I guess you're still waiting for a final version from Eric?
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Sargon » Sun Aug 30, 2009 2:35 pm

I think Ginastera is pretty famous, certainly on par with Villa-Lobos. Before reading this thread I would have used him as a medium part of a bonus or as a tossup answer without a second thought.

Harris, Schuman, and Cowell are not tossupable, but each individually would not be bad as the hard part of a bonus. I am huge fan of Schuman and a pretty big fan of Harris, but I have the impression they are not that well known. Harris was very famous during his lifetime but his work has since fallen into obscurity (like Paul Creston, who sank to such obscurity that he should never be an answer at any level of quizbowl). I'm not sure if Schuman was ever all that famous, but he got a paragraph the introduction to classical music I had back in high school. I have heard of Cowell outside of a prepared piano context, but I would not expect people who were not 20th century American Music buffs to have heard about him.

Penderecki's 7th Symphony is actually a pretty useful clue; there is a widely distributed Naxos recording of it out, so if you have ever browsed the Naxos section at a decent CD store you will at least have seen the title. It is also a very good piece of music.

Charlie's suggestion of confining 20th century music to 1/5-1/6 of the tournament seems hard to justify. A very sizeable portion, probably at least half, of the orchestral canon in most concert halls is Late Romantic or later. There may be about as many top tier composers in each era, but when you drop to second tier composers (like Nielsen or Vaughan Williams) there are way more well known and frequently performed 20th century composers than ones from earlier periods. Earlier music should not be completely neglected, but I think one would be hard pressed to find a dozen baroque composers more well known than Nielsen, or for that matter Ginastera. Even in my hobby horse of Renaissance music, I would think more than maybe a dozen composers from the period being tossuped regularly would be excessive at even the highest level.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:38 pm

Sargon wrote: Charlie's suggestion of confining 20th century music to 1/5-1/6 of the tournament seems hard to justify. A very sizeable portion, probably at least half, of the orchestral canon in most concert halls is Late Romantic or later.
I have to disagree with you here.

I think your use of "orchestral canon" is misleading. It may be that the majority of pieces/composers that you see on a given orchestra's program this season are 20th Century; a lot of orchestras have a dedication to newer music. But the majority of pieces/composers that will consistently appear on orchestral programs, in city after city, year after year-- the real "orchestral canon"-- will be mostly Common Practice period.
Sargon wrote: There may be about as many top tier composers in each era, but when you drop to second tier composers (like Nielsen or Vaughan Williams) there are way more well known and frequently performed 20th century composers than ones from earlier periods. Earlier music should not be completely neglected, but I think one would be hard pressed to find a dozen baroque composers more well known than Nielsen, or for that matter Ginastera. Even in my hobby horse of Renaissance music, I would think more than maybe a dozen composers from the period being tossuped regularly would be excessive at even the highest level.
This reasoning seems to suppose that most of the tossups should ask about composers rather than pieces. It's possible that if we picked a chunk of time in the 20th century like 1950-1960 there might be more tossupable composers active during that period than in the period 1850-1860 (though I'm not sure that this is true), but there are definitely not more composers and pieces combined that we can tossup from 1950-1960 than from 1850-1860. Yeah we can't ask about the Nielsen of the Baroque era, because he's been forgotten. But I could write a tossup about a different work of Mozart for every tournament in the year, while Contemporary Classical music has no equivalent that can provide such a wealth of possible answers. You might find more Elliot Carter pieces than Mendelssohn pieces on some orchestra's program for the year, but how many of those can I tossup? Only a few 20th century composers like Stravinsky, Sibelius, Mahler, and Prokofiev really provide a large range of tossupable pieces, and they skew towards the first half of the century, and are vastly outnumbered by the composers in the 19th century alone who provide ranges of answers equally large, if not larger.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:19 pm

I interrupt Season 10 of "Endless Discussion of Music Questions That Is Just Going to Lead to People Getting Fed Up and Writing 1/1 Departed Soundtrack for Fine Arts" to ask if someone can just send me the packets if they aren't going to be posted imminently, since we'd really like them for practice.
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:27 pm

DumbJaques wrote:I interrupt Season 10 of "Endless Discussion of Music Questions That Is Just Going to Lead to People Getting Fed Up and Writing 1/1 Departed Soundtrack for Fine Arts" to ask if someone can just send me the packets if they aren't going to be posted imminently, since we'd really like them for practice.
Done.
Rob Carson
University of Minnesota '11, MCTC '??
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Writer and Editor, NAQT

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millionwaves
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by millionwaves » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:40 pm

Hey, everyone, they've been sent to Chris Carter, so they should be up on collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com soon.
Trygve Meade
Illinois, ACF

Above the Star-Apple Kingdom

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millionwaves
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Re: Chicago Open 2009 Discussion

Post by millionwaves » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:48 pm

Trygve Meade
Illinois, ACF

Above the Star-Apple Kingdom

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