ACF Nationals discussion

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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:11 pm

Emperor Pupienus wrote:It seemed to me that there was an abundance of econ in the SS distribution, particularly in the tossups. I'm curious if this was actually the case, and if so, if this was a conscious editorial decision. There are certainly good reasons to weight econ higher than most of the other SS topics, so this is more curiosity than criticism.
Because we split out "soft thought" from "hard social science," I tried to keep a majority of the social science questions on data- or research-driven social science, rather than cultural criticism or theory devised from the lofty perch of an armchair. Because anthropology and especially sociology tend to be a little more theoretical, some of those questions are a little blurry, but that was the general idea. I wanted to keep econ, anthro/socio, and psychology/psychiatry emphasized in the distribution, while also having questions on political science/IR theory, linguistics, and social science methodology. Generally speaking, I tried to connect a lot of these questions to contemporary events or contemporary scholarship.

(Also, many thanks to Jonathan Magin and Matt Bollinger for writing several very good social science questions for the submitted packets in the last week before the tournament, which allowed me to continue editing instead of shifting back into writing mode.)

Here's the breakdown:

Econ (6/4): Hotelling, the commons, families, real business cycles, production function, Homo economicus, cap and trade bonus, r > g bonus, shoeleather costs bonus, Vickry bonus
Psychology/psychiatry (1/6): Stroop effect, Beck's cognitive triad bonus, Donald Hebb bonus, Google/Cordelia Fine bonus, framing/Tversky bonus, removing homosexuality from DSM bonus, Thene/A-not-b bonus
Anthro/socio (5/7): mushrooms, whiteness, masculinity, Mary Douglas, time, Social Construction of Reality bonus, fieldwork bonus, When Work Disappears bonus, Pareto/elites bonus, Ray Birdwhistell bonus, Birmingham/Hebdige bonus, Theda Skocpal bonus
Methodology (2/2): variables, surveys, meta analysis bonus, Jacob Cohen bonus
Linguistics (2/1): morphology, Lakoff, Aarne-Thompson bonus
Political science/IR (3/1): Supreme Court, diplomacy, Kenneth Waltz, Bradley effect bonus
Miscellaneous (2/0): for-profit colleges (econ-flavored political science/government), managers (management theory)

There was quite a bit of econ, and too few psych tossups, but I think this looks about right. There were also quite a few social science odds and ends in the "soft thought" and "other academic" categories, which tended to shade toward psychology and anthro/socio.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:21 pm

Æthelred the Unready Steady Cook wrote:The most noticeable thing from my perspective is that there were very few tossups which people thought were bad or bonuses which were bad ideas or poorly executed, which felt to me like the positive impact of play-testing a lot of material which helped to purge some of the things which don't have many sets of eyes on them.
This reminds me that I'm very thankful for the time and effort that several playtesters took in looking over my questions. Matt Jackson, Matt Bollinger, Tejas Raje, Mike Cheyne, Jonathan Magin, Naveed Chowdhury, Will Alston, Zach Foster, Richard Yu, Ophir Lifschitz, and anyone else I'm forgetting: you were all super helpful. My only regret with playtesting was running out of time to get the last few history questions looked at, which would've certainly caught the "Nihil novi" issue, for instance.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Fucitol » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:50 pm

Now that I can access the "color" question from Editors one, I can confirm my suspicion that the first two clues are nearly unbuzzable and if you do buzz on them you are either a) the Eric Weisstein's world of astronomy page that the clue was taken from or b) about to neg with "Infrared" because infrared excess is a reified thing whereas color excess appears to be defined in a small number of webpages.

I was overall very happy with the astro in this set since it seemed to completely avoid space geography and instead focus on currently relevant astronomical theories (that GRB tossup was basically the current state of the field of GRB research as I read in a review paper a couple of years ago and that was awesome). Even the Solar system astronomy (planetary rings/rings of Saturn), a topic which is usually done incredibly lazily and devolves into named-feature bowl, was focused on the physical theories of formation including the lin-shu theory which is notably (but not quizbowl-notably) used to model ring systems.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Iamteehee » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:28 pm

The astronomy tossups felt a little on the easy side for me (color magnitude diagrams are quite well known and are a super big deal, afterglow is quite well known and comes up far later on most other GRB tossups etc.). Other than that, the astronomy questions seemed really well written and relevant to me as well.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by gimmedatguudsuccrose » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:30 pm

theMoMA wrote:
Econ (6/4): Hotelling, the commons, families, real business cycles, production function, Homo economicus, cap and trade bonus, r > g bonus, shoeleather costs bonus, Vickry bonus
I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the economics in this set, particularly the questions on Hotelling, Production Functions, "The Core," Good Will, and the bonus on Vickry. All of these questions rewarded knowledge from high-level economics courses without resorting to questions on more "boring" answerlines such as "M1" or "GDP."
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:30 pm

Fucitol wrote:Now that I can access the "color" question from Editors one, I can confirm my suspicion that the first two clues are nearly unbuzzable and if you do buzz on them you are either a) the Eric Weisstein's world of astronomy page that the clue was taken from or b) about to neg with "Infrared" because infrared excess is a reified thing whereas color excess appears to be defined in a small number of webpages.
What are you talking about? I got those clues straight out of 'Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology' by Peter Schneider (Springer):
Peter Schneider wrote:From these spectroscopic results, it was found that the class of EROs contains rather different kinds of sources. To understand this point we will first consider the possible explanations for a galaxy with such a red spectral distribution. As a first option, the object may be an old elliptical galaxy with the 4000-Å break being redshifted to the red side of the R-band filter, i.e., typically an elliptical galaxy at z >= 1.0. For these galaxies to be sufficiently red to satisfy the selection criterion for EROs, they need to already contain an old stellar population by this redshift, which implies a very high redshift for the star formation in these objects; it is estimated from population synthesis models that their formation redshift must be zform >= 2.5.
ibid wrote:The color excess describes the change of the color index (X−Y), measured in two filters X and Y that define the corresponding spectral windows by their transmission curves.]
Look, I'm sorry if people found those clues confusing, but it's very irritating when people automatically assume that editors got their clues from the first webpage that turns up in a google search. It's unfortunate that infrared excess is also apparently a reified thing, but for the love of God, if science writers can't rely on reputable textbooks as sources for clues outside their specialties, then we might as well boot the whole subject from quizbowl. And I was fortunate enough to have access to Springer-Verlag through work. Imagine how much harder it is for writers without a research library (i.e. most editors for ACF Nationals) to get their hands on the gospel! On a lighter note, I'm glad you enjoyed the GRB tossup and the other astro.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Fucitol » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:59 pm

Lagotto Romagnolo wrote:
Fucitol wrote:Now that I can access the "color" question from Editors one, I can confirm my suspicion that the first two clues are nearly unbuzzable and if you do buzz on them you are either a) the Eric Weisstein's world of astronomy page that the clue was taken from or b) about to neg with "Infrared" because infrared excess is a reified thing whereas color excess appears to be defined in a small number of webpages.
What are you talking about? I got those clues straight out of 'Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology' by Peter Schneider (Springer):
Peter Schneider wrote:From these spectroscopic results, it was found that the class of EROs contains rather different kinds of sources. To understand this point we will first consider the possible explanations for a galaxy with such a red spectral distribution. As a first option, the object may be an old elliptical galaxy with the 4000-Å break being redshifted to the red side of the R-band filter, i.e., typically an elliptical galaxy at z >= 1.0. For these galaxies to be sufficiently red to satisfy the selection criterion for EROs, they need to already contain an old stellar population by this redshift, which implies a very high redshift for the star formation in these objects; it is estimated from population synthesis models that their formation redshift must be zform >= 2.5.
ibid wrote:The color excess describes the change of the color index (X−Y), measured in two filters X and Y that define the corresponding spectral windows by their transmission curves.]
Look, I'm sorry if people found those clues confusing, but it's very irritating when people automatically assume that editors got their clues from the first webpage that turns up in a google search. It's unfortunate that infrared excess is also apparently a reified thing, but for the love of God, if science writers can't rely on reputable textbooks as sources for clues outside their specialties, then we might as well boot the whole subject from quizbowl. And I was fortunate enough to have access to Springer-Verlag through work. Imagine how much harder it is for writers without a research library (i.e. most editors for ACF Nationals) to get their hands on the gospel! On a lighter note, I'm glad you enjoyed the GRB tossup and the other astro.
Yeah, so I'll admit I was a bit flippant in my comment that it was taken from some specific common reference, but at the same time, given the high quality of the rest of the astro it was a bit surprising to me that this relatively ambiguous clue would have slipped through. As an actual astronomer my first instinct about "excess" is the IR excess related to star formation but I don't know how or why a non-astronomer editor would find this information.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by a bird » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:30 pm

Lagotto Romagnolo wrote: Physics was, by far, the hardest category for me to write. When I signed on to edit this tournament, I told Andrew H. that I would place question craftsmanship first and excitement second if at all, especially in this category. I knew I didn’t have the depth of knowledge to be especially innovative. Quizbowl could probably use a thread on “how many fresh answerlines does a tournament need” or “how many hard tossups does a packet need” or “how many hard tossups does a category need?” The thread can wait, but I bet that for physics the answer to the last of those questions is “not a lot.” So I wrote most of the physics tossups were on very canonical, easier answerlines. About one quarter of the tossups were on quantities. In keeping with my post in the announcement thread, there were only two tossups on physicists, and for those I tried to incorporate science history (Airy’s missed opportunity to discover Neptune, Josef Stefan’s work on ice sheets) and applications rather than just listing eponymous things or anecdotes about Nobel prizes. To my knowledge, none of the tossup answers repeated with last year’s. It certainly wasn’t the most exciting physics ever written, but I think my choice to keep things simple was ultimately the right one. In fact, I have proof, because I broke my own rule and tried to get fancy and challenging with that tossup on the Poincare recurrence theorem which just didn’t play well. More to the point, I find that physics just doesn’t lend itself to as wide a range of answerlines as many other categories, because everything is so interconnected. That tossup on the Darcy friction factor started out as a tossup on the Darcy-Weisbach equation, but it didn’t go well in playtesting and even if it did, that equation is really just an application of Bernoulli’s equation which is in turn just a statement of conservation of energy. The Newtonian, Lagrangian, and Hamiltonian forms of classical mechanics are all just different expressions of the same underlying principle. Consider how much of physics as a whole is derived from a few key principles. Symmetry and conservation. Equilibrium, oscillation, and radiation. Taylor expansion. Time’s arrow. Wave-particle duality. The constant speed of light. You get the idea.
First, thanks for your hard work on the physics in the set! I think it turned out quite well and touched on many important and interesting topics. I think your philosophy on "new" or "unusual" answer lines was probably for the best. While I agree with with your point about physics being highly interconnected with many subfields using the same concepts and techniques, I think there are still many subdistribution choices left to the editor.

Here are some topics many questions in the physics distribution touch on:
  • core theories (classical mech, quantum mech, electrodynamics)
  • more complicated theories (e.g. particle physics, condensed matter, plasma physics)
  • experimental techniques (historical experiments and modern research)
  • applications (e.g. fluid mech, engineering topics)
Did you have a particular philosophy for which aspects of the subdistribution to emphasize? I have some thoughts, but I'm more curious to hear about your editorial vision.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:46 pm

Cody wrote:
Sima Guang Hater wrote:You may consider adding something about spherical symmetry to the Birkhoff's theorem clue in that tossup on flatness, because as it stands that clue is ambiguous or outright wrong.
It is not outright wrong, and you know it.
The Question wrote:Birkhoff’s theorem states that the vacuum solution of the Einstein field equations must be static and have this property (e.g. flatness) in the asymptotic limit.
Birkhoff's theorem wrote:In general relativity, Birkhoff's theorem states that any spherically symmetric solution of the vacuum field equations must be static and asymptotically flat.
Birkhoff's thereom emphatically doesn't say that ANY vacuum solutions to the EFE are static and flat, it ONLY necessitates that spherically symmetric vacuum solutions are static and flat. Therefore, that clue is incorrect.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:28 pm

No.

You do not have to explain the entire context of every scientific theorem in order to have a clue that isn't "outright wrong". The mere fact that Birkhoff's theorem only applies to spherically symmetric vacuum solutions means it need NOT be specified for the clue to be correct. (And indeed, this exact issue of context came up in VCUO '11 with respect to Helmholtz's theorem, and this bugs me now as much as that did then.) The question doesn't say "all vacuum solutions", it says "the".

This is completely separate from the issue of ambiguity, or issues of player confusion. But it's needlessly cruel to attempt to discredit the entire question because you were negged.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:57 pm

Yes, the Birkhoff's theorem clue was my bad and I'll add 'spherically symmetric' to that line.

EDIT: Also, Dennis actually wrote that tossup on the "Core" for the math category. Perhaps it's closer to econ, but many math departments do offer courses on game theory so I thought it was fine where it stood.

EDIT 2: Graham, I'll respond to your post with my thoughts on the physics subdistro this weekend, once I catch up on sleep and sort out my thoughts
Last edited by Lagotto Romagnolo on Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:45 pm

Cody wrote:You do not have to explain the entire context of every scientific theorem in order to have a clue that isn't "outright wrong".
Yes, you don't have to list the entire context of every single theorem or result - I don't have to say "Assuming the laws of physics don't change over time", "Assuming the Peano axioms", "if God wills it" (for you occasionalists out there), etc. Scientific truths are subjunctive. This isn't really an issue. However, you should state enough of the theorem that your statement is correct.
Cody wrote:The mere fact that Birkhoff's theorem only applies to spherically symmetric vacuum solutions means it need NOT be specified for the clue to be correct.
This is the opposite of true, especially given the way the question is phrased. It says "the vacuum solutions" of the EFE, which implies ALL vacuum solutions of the EFE. Not "the ones that Birkhoff's theorem applies to", but just "the vacuum solutions".
Cody wrote:(And indeed, this exact issue of context came up in VCUO '11 with respect to Helmholtz's theorem, and this bugs me now as much as that did then.)
Like spherically symmetric vacuum solutions to the EFE, your wrongness is static - you were wrong then, and you're wrong now. You could have phrased that question as "without external forces" if you wanted to be coy about it without sacrificing accuracy.
Cody wrote:This is completely separate from the issue of ambiguity, or issues of player confusion. But it's needlessly cruel to attempt to discredit the entire question because you were negged.
Aaron is one of the last people on Earth I would want to be cruel to, so I hope I don't come off that way. He clearly worked very hard on the physics and astro in this set, and it was overall excellent. However, there was a small mistake in this question, and that happens to the best of us. I don't see why you feel the need to get so confrontational with me about it.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cody » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:01 am

I'd've supported a post about that was simply about ambiguity or confusion ("a small mistake"), but I am being confrontational about it because you rarely get pushback when you post a cliche Mukherjee criticism of a science question (here, that would be "I was negged/didn't get it, so the question is outright wrong").

I won't bother bogging this thread down with essay-length retreads of the same argument, but suffice it to say that I consider you completely wrong on both points and that a player can reasonably be required & expected to know the context of the Birkhoff's theorem (or Helmholtz's theorem) in order to answer the question. Whether or not it makes for the best clue, creates ambiguity, or creates confusion is an entirely separate issue. But not stating every part of a theorem (even important ones) doesn't prima facie make the clue "outright wrong", and here it does not. (Though it does warm my cockles to see you arguing about the perfectly fine, not ambiguous, not confusing Helmholtz clue.)

(Unrelated to the above, I do feel that the previous clues intuitively do not make sense for spherical symmetry, but I don't know enough to state that confidently, so I will simply put it here as a sidebar.)
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:38 pm

Cody wrote:I'd've supported a post about that was simply about ambiguity or confusion ("a small mistake"), but I am being confrontational about it because you rarely get pushback when you post a cliche Mukherjee criticism of a science question (here, that would be "I was negged/didn't get it, so the question is outright wrong").
I'm glad (bemused?) you somehow think you're The Hero Quizbowl Science Discussion Needs, but you're still completely wrong, both about this question and about my criticism style (the apex of which is probably this, and there are other examples of me pointing out errors or other suboptimalities too, whose correctness is independent of whether I got the question or not). I've even made similar mistakes too and admitted to them (like Aaron's graciously done in this thread).

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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cody » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:28 pm

In the spirit of Alex's post and a more productive discussion, here is my problem with claiming a clue was outright wrong: it's one of the most serious charges you can level at a quizbowl question because it means that the question was fundamentally unfair at the time it was played, and the only redress was to throw the question out.

In this instance, "Birkhoff's theorem states that the vacuum solution of the EFE must be" establishes the reference frame for the rest of the clue, which is thus about the properties of the vacuum solutions in the context of Birkhoff's theorem. To claim that the clue is outright wrong because it doesn't specify "spherical symmetry" somewhere requires an uncharitable and - in my opinion - unreasonable reading. Indeed, such a reading is one that is not supported by what happened in the game, where it was clear that both teams knew exactly in what context "the vacuum solutions" was meant, as you answered with a property of vacuum solutions in the context of Birkhoff's theorem.

I agree that the clue can be interpreted ambiguously and would be a better question if "spherical symmetry" had been said, or if "in the asymptotic limit" had been placed before "this property". I agree that it's a good idea to state theorems as precisely as possible for the player. (And I've never stated anything to the contrary.) I don't believe that not doing so makes the clue "outright wrong", in this case or many others. And because claiming a clue is "outright wrong" is such a serious charge, it should be supported by stronger evidence than what's provided here.
Last edited by Cody on Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:48 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by heterodyne » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:32 pm

Cody wrote: In this instance, "according to Birkhoff's theorem" establishes the reference frame for the rest of the clue, which is thus about the properties of the vacuum solutions in the context of Birkhoff's theorem. To claim that the clue is outright wrong because it doesn't specify "spherical symmetry" somewhere requires an uncharitable and - in my opinion - unreasonable reading. Indeed, such a reading is one that is not supported by what happened in the game, where it was clear that both teams knew exactly what the question meant, and you answered with a property of vacuum solutions according to Birkhoff's theorem.
This seems incorrect. For one, "spherically symmetric" isn't a property of vacuum solutions according to Birkhoff's theorem, it's a feature that Birkhoff's theorem tells us entails other features. This is anecdotal, but I'm skeptical that "both teams knew exactly what the question meant" as the physics player I was sitting next to made the same neg at the same time.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cody » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:48 pm

heterodyne wrote:This seems incorrect. For one, "spherically symmetric" isn't a property of vacuum solutions according to Birkhoff's theorem, it's a feature that Birkhoff's theorem tells us entails other features. This is anecdotal, but I'm skeptical that "both teams knew exactly what the question meant" as the physics player I was sitting next to made the same neg at the same time.
This was both an imprecise statement on my part and a misremembering of the exact question text (sorry, mobile). I have edited my post. My point is that it was clear to players the clue was about vacuum solutions in the context of Birkhoff's theorem, else it would be impossible to neg with spherically symmetric. Your understanding is mostly correct (it's a property of the vacuum solutions that requires other properties), but that only makes the original text less ambiguous in what it's asking for, and thus more correct?

*edit: sorry; you're probably wondering why it's ambiguous. you can equally state Birkhoff's as a uniqueness theorem for the Schwarzschild metric, in which case the vacuum solution has those 3 properties. I can see a reasonable train of thought arriving at spherical symmetry is what I'm saying.
Last edited by Cody on Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:38 pm

I really liked the bio answerlines in this set! Basically my only complaint is the Haldane tossup, which was solidly science history (and included several non-bio history clues at that). I personally feel that books written for laypeople should NOT appear in science questions, and especially not *multiple* books. And biographical anecdotes on top of that? As a bio player, I'm going to hear the first line and think "math -- Sam will get that, I can pay less attention", hear the second line and be thoroughly confused (but then think it's math history), and then *maybe* tune back in on the insects clue. At no point did this question even remotely appear to be bio. I'm also doubtful that the Briggs-Haldane and hybridization clues are better-known than "Oparin-Haldane", considering it's the pre-FTP clue for abiogenesis in multiple high school sets, so it's pretty baffling that the question continues for three more sentences afterward (not that the aforementioned clues are particularly difficult, either!).
Editor's 4 wrote: This man introduced the technique of linearizing quadratic transformations applicable to baric algebras. This man discussed how he and H. W. Davies ate tremendous amounts of baking soda to attempt to make themselves too alkaline in an essay about being his own test subject titled On Being One’s Own Rabbit. This scientist observed that insects do not need bloodstreams due to their size, while larger organisms need more complex oxygen transport mechanisms, in On Being the Right Size. Shortly after Alexander Oparin did, this scientist proposed that the basic biomolecules on primitive Earth formed a “soup” that produced the first life. This man predicted that if only one sex of a hybrid is sterile, it is more likely the heterogametic sex. This scientist’s father discovered an effect similar to the Bohr effect in which hemoglobin’s affinity for carbon dioxide decreases when oxygenated. For 10 points, what geneticist and evolutionary scientist developed a steady-state approximation of enzyme kinetics with G. E. Briggs?
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Here Comes Rusev Day » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:02 pm

I read at Nationals both days for 4th bracket teams. What this tournament did so well, as Andrew spoke to me Saturday night, was to not give layups for easy parts of bonuses but rather you had to work for those easy parts and felt really good after getting them! It looks like only two teams got below 10 PPB and I imagine both teams weren’t at full strength anyways. Well done editors!
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:04 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote:I personally feel that books written for laypeople should NOT appear in science questions, and especially not *multiple* books.
Why not?
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:28 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote:I really liked the bio answerlines in this set! Basically my only complaint is the Haldane tossup, which was solidly science history (and included several non-bio history clues at that). I personally feel that books written for laypeople should NOT appear in science questions, and especially not *multiple* books. And biographical anecdotes on top of that? As a bio player, I'm going to hear the first line and think "math -- Sam will get that, I can pay less attention", hear the second line and be thoroughly confused (but then think it's math history), and then *maybe* tune back in on the insects clue. At no point did this question even remotely appear to be bio. I'm also doubtful that the Briggs-Haldane and hybridization clues are better-known than "Oparin-Haldane", considering it's the pre-FTP clue for abiogenesis in multiple high school sets, so it's pretty baffling that the question continues for three more sentences afterward (not that the aforementioned clues are particularly difficult, either!).
Editor's 4 wrote: This man introduced the technique of linearizing quadratic transformations applicable to baric algebras. This man discussed how he and H. W. Davies ate tremendous amounts of baking soda to attempt to make themselves too alkaline in an essay about being his own test subject titled On Being One’s Own Rabbit. This scientist observed that insects do not need bloodstreams due to their size, while larger organisms need more complex oxygen transport mechanisms, in On Being the Right Size. Shortly after Alexander Oparin did, this scientist proposed that the basic biomolecules on primitive Earth formed a “soup” that produced the first life. This man predicted that if only one sex of a hybrid is sterile, it is more likely the heterogametic sex. This scientist’s father discovered an effect similar to the Bohr effect in which hemoglobin’s affinity for carbon dioxide decreases when oxygenated. For 10 points, what geneticist and evolutionary scientist developed a steady-state approximation of enzyme kinetics with G. E. Briggs?
Hey, I'm sorry if that particular question didn't float your boat. With respect to the whole Oparin thing being on the easier side that's my bad (I suppose I need to study more high school sets these days) but the earlier stuff seems perfectly reasonable to me? I don't think Haldane transforms are illegitimate although maybe it was asking a lot for someone to figure out baric algebras are a type of genetic algebra, and the next clue was actually him writing about something that he published but I figured the way I spun it would be more amusing for the player (and possibly helpful if people knew about his dad also liking to experiment on himself?).

I suppose how it feels more like history it wouldn't be unreasonable to fit this in other sci/ac but I figured there was enough that I comfortably consider to as bio that I could justify this being there versus perhaps whatever the equivalent tu on Neil deGrasse Tyson or whatever would be (since Haldane actually did worthwhile things?). On a similar note that would analogously make something like the writings of Oliver Sacks illegitimate clue material?

I am pleased that you found the bio answerlines enjoyable though (hopefully the questions were too)
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by bradleykirksey » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:54 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote:Basically my only complaint is the Haldane tossup," ... "I personally feel that books written for laypeople should NOT appear in science questions, and especially not *multiple* books
Do you mind if I ask if 1) This is just for Nats difficulty, and not across the board? Or is this something that should be universal? And 2) Is this just for science or for all parts of the distribution?

Not a big deal, it's just a unique idea and I'm curious.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by theMoMA » Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:17 pm

Here Comes Rusev Day wrote:I read at Nationals both days for 4th bracket teams. What this tournament did so well, as Andrew spoke to me Saturday night, was to not give layups for easy parts of bonuses but rather you had to work for those easy parts and felt really good after getting them! It looks like only two teams got below 10 PPB and I imagine both teams weren’t at full strength anyways. Well done editors!
Thanks, Zach. Perhaps I'll write up some fuller thoughts on editing for high-difficulty tournaments at some point, but one thing I really tried to emphasize for this event was making even the easy parts of bonuses engaging while still, well, easy. I've slowly come around to the idea that this is important. Earlier in my career, for instance, I edited an easy part for one of the various Minnesota Opens that asked players to name Jesus Christ from the clue that he was a "carpenter and water-walking enthusiast." This now strikes me as uncharitable to teams not converting the majority of middle parts, because it basically turns lots of bonuses into, as Seth Teitler put it, touching your butt for ten points, then facing an insurmountable wall to get any more.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:43 am

Amizda Calyx wrote:"Oparin-Haldane", considering it's the pre-FTP clue for abiogenesis in multiple high school sets
A brief note from the high school world to state that I don't think this is true and that writers should stop doing that if it is true. I found one case of it being pre-FTP for Miller-Urey in James Blair Bowl, and I consider that placement to be a mistake within an overall reasonable question. I also found an HSAPQ packet from 2008 where it was just after the halfway point but several clues before FTP.

I may be wrong about whether or not it is true because I can't search most sets from this year, since they have not yet been posted, but I'm pretty sure I'm right about whether or not it should be true.

I have no opinion as to whether its use was appropriate at ACF Nationals, and it wouldn't matter if I did.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:11 am

Deviant Insider wrote:
Amizda Calyx wrote:"Oparin-Haldane", considering it's the pre-FTP clue for abiogenesis in multiple high school sets
A brief note from the high school world to state that I don't think this is true and that writers should stop doing that if it is true. I found one case of it being pre-FTP for Miller-Urey in James Blair Bowl, and I consider that placement to be a mistake within an overall reasonable question. I also found an HSAPQ packet from 2008 where it was just after the halfway point but several clues before FTP.

I may be wrong about whether or not it is true because I can't search most sets from this year, since they have not yet been posted, but I'm pretty sure I'm right about whether or not it should be true.

I have no opinion as to whether its use was appropriate at ACF Nationals, and it wouldn't matter if I did.
A search on QuizDB gives usage of Oparin/Haldane:
- halfway through a TU on abiogenesis in 2014 BELLOCO
- a mention of Oparin halfway through a TU on Haldane (!) at 2014 VCU O
- halfway through a TU on Miller-Urey in 2012 IFT
- and a couple others of similar difficulty

...so although this could be a pre-FTP clue in HS sets, I do think that would be a marked indicator of how quickly the difficulty curve would have climbed.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:41 am

I was similarly surprised to see Oparin-Haldane showing up in so many high school sets when I started editing VHSL, but then I TAed gen bio at Rutgers and they went over it so I guess it's a legitimate thing that is taught now. I don't like the clue either, though. I would also suggest people use aseemsdb to look for sets rather than quizbowldb.


I'm mostly of the opinion that biographical and layperson-directed clues target very different areas of knowledge than hard science clues. You don't need a scientific background at all to remember anecdotes or simple experimental outcomes (my parents have read Richard Dawkins and Stephen J. Gould and Oliver Sacks, but probably couldn't answer a tossup on neurons even at the high school level...), whereas clues on bub or HGPRT specifically reward people who can comprehend how those clues relate to the pronoun. It comes off as wildly inconsistent to essentially equate whatever the second line of the alternative splicing tossup was with a humorous essay, even if the proportion of people buzzing on either clue is identical. Should a molecular bio PhD student be losing out on second-line Nats bio tossups to the 13-year-old version of herself who just read A Short History of Nearly Everything but doesn't yet know what carboxyhemoglobin is*? I recognize that such a situation probably actually comes up more frequently in myth/history/literature, so perhaps science has just kept itself too inaccessible for too long and should throw a bone to non-scientist leisure readers more regularly. I would hate for this to happen, but maybe I'm in the minority of STEM players in that regard.

*I'm pretty sure there is a portion of ASHoNE that discusses a toddler JBS Haldane "peevishly" clarifying whether something was oxy- or carboxyhemoglobin.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:05 pm

In general, I thought this tournament hit its marks very well. In particular, I want to praise the fact that there were not that many dead tossups in our games, and on top of that the tossups that did go dead were largely on reasonable answerlines that we probably should have known anyway. Especially at this level between two really good teams, dead tossups really are the enemy of fun and it's nice that this set avoided that.

I also want to praise some of the more creative answerlines in categories that I care about. I don't know too much about whale falls so I can't evaluate the technical merits of that tossup, but it's definitely a really good question on an underasked, important thing. The NF-kappa-B tossup was similarly something that doesn't come up enough and should (in fact the last tossup I can remember on it is one I wrote for Gaddis 10 years ago, someone correct me if I'm wrong). In particular, I thought this set in general did a great job of including ecology/ev-bio clues in ways that people care about; in addition to whale falls, I'm particularly thinking of the leadin to that fantastic VDJ recombination tossup about how jawless vertebrates don't have it.

There are, however, a few general trends that I feel should be pointed out.

First, there seemed to be a lot of unforgiving answerlines relative to past years. The examples that come to mind are kykaon (the substance in the leadin seems to just be called a potion in many translations, the substance in the Ascalaphus story is just listed as "barley-water" in my translation at home), the tossup on the scene from Our Town which Jaimie described the scene and didn't get points, the tossup on diplomacy that didn't take descriptions, and the tossup on the frontispiece of Leviathan (which is often published as the cover of Leviathan).

Particularly in the chemistry, there seemed to be a lot of very punishing middle and hard parts (persistent carbenes, the third part of that IR spec bonus) and unusually difficult tossups (did anyone get metal-organic frameworks? Or the radical formation tossup before the bond dissociation energy clue? Or FTICR before the end?). I'm wondering if other people thought the same.

Scattered specific things:
-I thought that tossup on INC and Theosophy was very much out of left field, partly because the theosophy clues were much easier than the INC clues so you were in a perpetual state of deadlock while waiting for the other thread to finish.
-I wonder if the clue about octrees is unique to collision detection? From my cursory reading it seems like octrees are used in a lot of applications to partition space before doing whatever it is you set yourself to do (disclaimer: I almost negged with N-body simulations at that clue for this reason).
-I agree with Joelle that the tossup on Haldane was suboptimal, because of the biography clue about him drinking alkaline solutions (which im pretty sure was published as part of an essay collection and not as an actual scientific paper). I would rather it have focused on his actual work (which 80% of the tossup did). Also, it would have been good to fan out the clues about the Briggs-Haldane approximation, his papers on the modern synthesis, etc, with actual scientific clues rather than listing the Haldane effect and Haldane's rule successively as biography-bowl-type clues.
Last edited by Sima Guang Hater on Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Guile Island » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:15 pm

Sima Guang Hater wrote: -I wonder if the clue about octrees is unique to collision detection? From my cursory reading it seems like octrees are used in a lot of applications to partition space before doing whatever it is you set yourself to do (disclaimer: I almost negged with N-body simulations at that clue for this reason).
This issue came up in playtesting and Aaron and I both said we should cut the clue, but I guess it got lost in the list of things to do. Glad this didn't screw you out of points!
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by ryanrosenberg » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:25 pm

Sima Guang Hater wrote:the tossup on the scene from Our Town which Jaimie described the scene and didn't get points, the tossup on diplomacy that didn't take descriptions
I'm not sure how Jaimie described the scene, but the tossup was marked "Description acceptable" and had a fairly extensive answerline. It probably should have included a prompt for descriptions of "the graveyard scene from Our Town" since there's not a clear delineation between the graveyard and Emily's birthday, but answers mentioning the graveyard scene were ruled promptable after a protest.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:50 pm

I forgot to say this earlier. I thought the social science in this set was really excellent and incorporated lots of things that social scientists actually do/care about, particularly methods (that surveys question, the Supreme court question, and the bonus part on Cohen's kappa stuck out to me as good examples). I hope other sets do that.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:59 pm

Sima Guang Hater wrote:First, there seemed to be a lot of unforgiving answerlines relative to past years. The examples that come to mind are[...] the tossup on the frontispiece of Leviathan (which is often published as the cover of Leviathan).
It's funny that you post this, because something that involves you happened at ICT that almost convinced me to make the exact opposite post last week!

It is my strong opinion that in quizbowl, unless there is some kind of clear direction about how to account for leeway in a description, it is the responsibility of moderators to follow the answerline exactly as it exists on the page, and players should then lodge protests in response. I played an MUT mirror in 2009 at Illinois, and I noticed that an incredibly well-established circuit figure and ACF member was taking quite a lot of liberties in accepting answers that he made clear weren't what was on the page, which I thought was strange, and then have paid closer attention to this phenomenon ever since. It is my experience that a certain subset of extremely talented players with a great deal of editing experience and who have been on national contending teams are far more willing to be lenient on answerlines than they should be, and that this leads to teams being incorrectly awarded points.

At ICT, Auroni moderated two games for Columbia that were decided on protests. These protests involved him accepting only the answer on the page. We protested the first one, Auroni faithfully transmitted our case to the editors, and they resolved the protest in our favor, deciding that our answer should have been listed at the point where we buzzed, proving the system works. The second protest, lodged by an opponent, involved them trying to answer a computer science tossup about a concept which happens to have a generic sounding name taken from elsewhere. Their answer used a synonymous word that was not on the answerline, Auroni rejected it, and they lodged a protest. We didn't really know anything about the topic, so when we left the room, we asked you, Eric, whether you would have accepted the other team's answer, and you immediately said yes. We also found out that in a different game, another team gave the same "wrong" answer and a moderator with some CS training who has edited endless sets and won ICT accepted it. Fast forward to NAQT resolving the protest by rejecting their answer, for the obvious reason that even though this concept has a descriptive name, that name is actually a term of art and is the only way to refer to this problem. There is no literature anywhere that refers to this concept by any other name. If our moderator had accepted what NAQT demonstrated is the wrong answer, we would have probably lost that match because we don't know enough to know that they were actually wrong and speak up about it. Auroni, by adhering strictly to the given answerlines, and the directors, by diligently resolving protests, allowed matches to be more fairly determined than when the moderators took answerlines into their own hands.

I believe if you had accepted that alternate computer science answer, you would have unfairly awarded a team points out of a general sense of feeling like they 'got close enough', and I believe that if the moderators had accepted "cover of Leviathan" for an engraved image that was explicitly published as a frontispiece, and which all the literature about it as a work of art refers to as a frontispiece, they would have made the exact same error.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:25 pm

Man this is that kind of thread, huh.

I dont' really want to litigate that CS tossup (I know which one you're talking about, and I'm pretty sure I know the moderator you're talking about) - I was offering my opinion on why I'd take that answer. I actually have read papers about that problem as well and never saw it as a term of art/specific term (as I've heard actual mathematicians not refer to it by its reified name). In any case, I think you're right that we should follow what's on the page.

That being said, in this case I don't think what's on the page is terribly empathetic. That image has been used as the cover of Leviathan in multiple editions, and at the time books weren't really published with covers so the frontispiece served as the cover.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:31 pm

The tossup is on a work of art by Abraham Bosse which was an etching, and the end product of the etching was to create frontispieces. As you say yourself, the etching couldn't have appeared on a book cover at the time. I think the fact that some publishers choose to reprint facsimiles of that etching on modern book covers in no way changes that the question was about a specific work of art that served a different purpose - I don't think "the cover to La Mer" would be an acceptable answerline for The Great Wave of Kanagawa for the same reason.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:01 pm

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:I think the fact that some publishers choose to reprint facsimiles of that etching on modern book covers in no way changes that the question was about a specific work of art that served a different purpose - I don't think "the cover to La Mer" would be an acceptable answerline for The Great Wave of Kanagawa for the same reason.
Except The Great Wave at Kanagawa wasn't created to accompany La Mer; I agree with you I wouldn't take that answer just like I wouldn't take "The Cover of JL Gaddis' Landscape of History" for Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, because those images weren't created to accompany those works. However, this is a piece of art that doesn't have its own title and was specifically created to accompany Leviathan and now accompanies that book as its cover - this seems like an altogether different case to me.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:10 pm

Extremely dull Classics post below:
Sima Guang Hater wrote:

First, there seemed to be a lot of unforgiving answerlines relative to past years. The examples that come to mind are kykaon (the substance in the leadin seems to just be called a potion in many translations, the substance in the Ascalaphus story is just listed as "barley-water" in my translation at home)
I have checked the original texts for all the references to kykeon:
Aristophanes, Peace, l.712: οὐκ εἴ γε κυκεῶν᾽ ἐπιπίοις βληχωνίαν. "No, not if you swallow a kykeon of pennyroyal afterwards"
Ovid Metamorphoses 5.449-50
prodit anus divamque videt, lymphamque roganti
dulce dedit, tosta quod texerat ante polenta.

"an old woman came by and saw the goddess, and having heard her plea for water, gave her a sweet drink, which she had recently brewed of parched barley-meal"
or
Antoninus Liberalis ( :mad: ) καὶ διδοῖ ποτὸν ὕδωρ ἐμβαλοῦσα γλήχωνα καὶ ἄλφιτον εἰς αὐτό "She gave her a drink of water with pennyroyal and barley groats"
I don't have a commentary on the Ovid, and the only modern commentary on Antoninus suggests this drink can fairly be called a kykeon.

Now there's an error here on the next clue - Circe's production of it is in Odyssey book 10, while it is made by Hecamede, Nestor's slave, in Book 11 of the Iliad. (the latter τοῖσι δὲ τεῦχε κυκειῶ ἐϋπλόκαμος Ἑκαμήδη "And for them fair-tressed Hecamede mixed a kykeon", the former, when Circe makes it, the verb is used, and then when Hermes warns Odysseus a few lines later, it is described as follows (10.290) τεύξει τοι κυκεῶ, βαλέει δ᾽ ἐν φάρμακα σίτῳ. "She will mix you a kykeon, and cast drugs into the food"

Homeric Hymn to Demeter: ἣ δὲ κυκεῶ τεύξασα θεᾷ πόρεν, ὡς ἐκέλευε: "And [Metaneira] mixed the kykeon and gave it to the goddess, as she ordered"

Basically, all these clues seem reasonable, most of them using the actual word, and at least one of those that doesn't is accepted as being such by the scholarship. Blame your translations :grin:


Edit.
While I'm here talking about Classics, this clue in the Syracuse question "Another ruler of this city apparently drank himself to death after hearing that The Ransom of Hector had won the Lanaean festival." contains an error taken from Wikipedia, which I have now corrected to the correct Lenaea
Last edited by The Abydos Helicopter on Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by vinteuil » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:48 pm

Can I agree with both Charlie and Eric?

I think that people should know how books are put together, and that the symbolic frontispiece was very much a real thing for early modern printed texts.

On the other hand, I think it's so obvious that somebody answering "cover of Leviathan" is familiar with the precise artwork in question that we should be able to give them points. Still, I don't think that we should accept what really is a wrong answer.

Normally, I would say that the solution should have been to write on a slightly different answerline; unfortunately, here we end up with transparency issues ("this text" and "this author" both). Does anybody have a suggestion for an alternate answerline (likely necessitating some rewording) that would have avoided the problem? (I gotta know for when I write the inevitable BHSAT 2098 tossup on the frontispiece to The New Science.)
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cheynem » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:51 pm

Would a prompt be out of the question? I agree that frontispiece is a needed word.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:54 pm

vinteuil wrote:Can I agree with both Charlie and Eric?

I think that people should know how books are put together, and that the symbolic frontispiece was very much a real thing for early modern printed texts.

On the other hand, I think it's so obvious that somebody answering "cover of Leviathan" is familiar with the precise artwork in question that we should be able to give them points. Still, I don't think that we should accept what really is a wrong answer.

Normally, I would say that the solution should have been to write on a slightly different answerline; unfortunately, here we end up with transparency issues ("this text" and "this author" both). Does anybody have a suggestion for an alternate answerline (likely necessitating some rewording) that would have avoided the problem? (I gotta know for when I write the inevitable BHSAT 2098 tossup on the frontispiece to The New Science.)
I think just saying "An engraving created for this text" or "An image accompanying this text" could plausibly avoid transparency. From the players' perspective it could be on any number of illustrations, like Dore's engravings for the Divine Comedy.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:17 pm

I just want to make sure we're all talking about the same tossup, which was written for a finals packet at a collegiate national championship, and was used in a game to determine who would get to walk away with a trophy, and was about a topic accessible enough that probably all 8 players in the match have seen it, yet had a slight, factually precise wrinkle in it that made it require a little bit more knowledge than was immediately apparent (in keeping with the extremely rigorous nature of the match being played), but which still ultimately proved answerable, right? I don't see the problem here.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:44 am

In my earlier post in this thread, I accidentally spoiled some questions from the unread editors' packets that are being saved for next year. Perhaps it's hubris to think many people actually read my post, but in theory the milk has been spilt. So, here are the text of the questions, which are not available on the archive.
2018 ACF Nationals wrote:7. A collection that takes both its title and structure from one of these events begins with the poem “spooky berries,” which states, “Edgar Allan Poe / has written a very eerie poem this month.” Makeup-inspired sections like “Powder” and “Gloss” comprise that book by Sam Riviere titled for an event of this kind involving Kim Kardashian. In a poem praising an event of this kind, a tree is engraved with the words “Worship me: I am Helen’s tree.” That poem, which imitates Stesichorus, is Theocritus’s 18th Idyll. Edmund Spenser’s experience of an event of this kind led him to pen a poem addressed to “Ye learned sisters which have oftentimes / Been to me aiding.” That poem contains the refrain “The woods shall to me answer and my Echo ring,” and was published alongside Amoretti. Catullus 64 exemplifies a genre of Ancient poetry that celebrates these events and often includes the exclamation “Hymen! O Hymenee!” For 10 points, name these events that are the subject of the epithalamium, a genre that celebrates recent brides.
ANSWER: marriages [or weddings; or nuptials accept epithalamium early]
2018 ACF Nationals wrote:11. A man believed to be this god in human form squeezed into a crack in the ground to protect himself from the fires at the Burned-Off Hill. To avenge his father, that mortal aspect of this god climbed the mountain in which his father was buried and rained arrows on his evil brothers, after which he made their skulls into drinking cups. Beliefs about this god’s human incarnations are examined by David Carrasco in a book about the “Irony of Empire.” This god was identified with a man whose name meant “One Reed” and who brought the art of silversmithing and a ban on human sacrifice to the city of Tollan. Myths that this god burned himself on a seaside pyre, or that he sailed away on a raft of snakes, may suggest that he was expected to return from the east. Ce Acatl, or Topiltzin, was identified with this god, who according to sources like Toribio de Benavente Motolinía was believed to have a beard and white skin. For 10 points, name this god who various Spanish historians alleged was confused by the Aztecs for Hernán Cortés.
ANSWER: Quetzalcoatl [prompt on “Ce Acatl” or “Topiltzin”]
2018 ACF Nationals wrote:14. Ricaut Bonomel, who wrote a poem stating that this figure “acts with all his power / And spurs on Melicadefer,” is one of many crusader-era sources that suggest his name is a corruption of “Mohammed.” For 10 points each:
[10] Name this god who the Knights Templar were accused of worshipping, although their forced confessions failed to agree on whether he was a cat or a head. He represents arcane perfection in Aleister Crowley’s occult philosophy.
ANSWER: Baphomet [accept Bafometz]
[10] A notable depiction of Baphomet shows him having a human body but the head of one of these animals, with a torch between his horns. In Classical mythology, fauns and satyrs were hybrids with the features of these animals.
ANSWER: goats
[10] The famous “Goat of Mendes” image comes from a book on magic by this Frenchman, who adopted a Hebrew transliteration of his birth name. He was a major influence on later occultists like Helena Blavatsky and A. E. Waite.
ANSWER: Éliphas Lévi Zahed [or Alphonse Louis Constant]
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling » Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:29 am

gyre and gimble wrote:In my earlier post in this thread, I accidentally spoiled some questions from the unread editors' packets that are being saved for next year. Perhaps it's hubris to think many people actually read my post, but in theory the milk has been spilt. So, here are the text of the questions, which are not available on the archive.
I have spoiled
the questions
that were in
the unread editors’ packet

and which
we were probably
saving
for next year

Forgive me
They are spilt milk
So unusable
And so unarchived

Sorry, couldn’t resist. But I really like that Quetzalcoatl tossup as reflecting the actual historical implications of myth. Historical aspects of myth are always good to include.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by theMoMA » Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:10 pm

I will be releasing at least the questions that have for sure been spoiled in a standalone document (or perhaps added to an updated tiebreakers document). Depending on how unwieldy managing various exposures to questions turns out to be, I may just release the two reserve editors packets meant for pre-finals tiebreakers.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cheynem » Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:26 pm

I think you should probably just release them now--if they were playtested or if the doc containing them was accessible to playtesters or contributors, you have a lot of people who A. could conceivably unintentionally talk about them or B. perhaps wanted to play Nats 2019 but not 2018. Of course, if these were never available to anyone but the editors, I suppose that's another story.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by ryanrosenberg » Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:32 pm

Cheynem wrote:I think you should probably just release them now--if they were playtested or if the doc containing them was accessible to playtesters or contributors, you have a lot of people who A. could conceivably unintentionally talk about them or B. perhaps wanted to play Nats 2019 but not 2018. Of course, if these were never available to anyone but the editors, I suppose that's another story.
I agree with this; unless there's a publicly-available list of who has seen the questions, it seems wise to release the packets.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by aseem.keyal » Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:16 pm

A little late to the discussion, but I think the first half of the tiebreaker packet (WUSTL) had three very hard answer lines in a row (capillary electrophoresis, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Shennong). With three way ties being broken using two half packets, it seems like the answer lines could've been shuffled around a bit better. This is a very minor nitpick though, as the set was consistently well written and interesting across the board.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:45 pm

bradleykirksey wrote:
Amizda Calyx wrote:Basically my only complaint is the Haldane tossup," ... "I personally feel that books written for laypeople should NOT appear in science questions, and especially not *multiple* books
Do you mind if I ask if 1) This is just for Nats difficulty, and not across the board? Or is this something that should be universal? And 2) Is this just for science or for all parts of the distribution?

Not a big deal, it's just a unique idea and I'm curious.
I do believe that this restriction could be applied at all levels of play. There are so many exciting and important topics in science that, in almost all cases, there wouldn't be any problem with abandoning biographical clues.

Personally, I think it comes down to the same reason we don't include clues like "in Age of Empires 2 this leader..." or "in The Tudors, this event..." or whatever. It rewards passive acquisition of knowledge and disadvantages people who are actively trying to *understand* a concept and its larger context. It's perfectly fine for people to get science questions based on learning a clue from a non-academic, passive source. But in my opinion when you explicitly (or even implicitly) reference those sources it cheapens the most satisfying part of quizbowl (at least for me), which is getting good buzzes based on information you put a lot of effort into learning. I don't know if this is true of all science players, but there is a huge disparity in how proud I feel powering a tossup on Dawkins from knowing he wrote The Extended Phenotype and powering a question on the retina from a clue on the morphogenetic furrow* after having spent an exhausting amount of time understanding every concept referenced in one of the five papers we were tested on in the first-year PhD qualifying exam battery.

*I actually negged this question, with "wings", because the paper I read discussed Schip1 mutant clones in both the retina and the wing, and I mixed up the context in which morphogenetic furrow had been mentioned. This neg has plagued me for two years.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Cheynem » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:24 pm

Maybe this is different in a science context, but most of my history buzzes have come from what I would call "layman's history" (i.e., biographies or books that you might buy at what used to be Barnes and Nobles, not necessarily U Press type books). I think those are a step above Age of Empires 2 clues, and I also understand that there isn't really a "layman's science" in the same way.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:25 pm

For what it's worth, I think there's a place for a bit of pop science, if it's not overwhelming, and certainly for science history. I appreciate the bits of science history scattered through this tournament, as in the tossup on Airy and others. I didn't find the Haldane question objectionable, although I did find it kind of dull. I do feel strange that, anecdotally, within the biology sub-distribution, these sorts of questions seem more common in ecology / evolution (not necessarily in this tournament), because it is true that these questions may reward a different kind of knowledge than pure science questions. (In support of that last point, consider that Jason beat James Lasker on the Airy question, and close to the end.) It feels sometimes (again, not necessarily in this tournament) that people default to historical clues when they don't take a field seriously as a science that undergoes real progress, or when they don't care to learn much more about it. I would prefer that more tournaments explicitly account for science history in their distributions -- not stuffing it all in "other science," which is already given short shrift -- and make sure that these science history questions roughly match the proportions of disciplines in the science distribution as a whole.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by jmarvin_ » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:40 pm

I would like to sing the praises of this tournament's editors; though I did not play it, this was probably the coolest quizbowl set I saw played in my entire undergraduate career, with the most impressive balance of cool-ness, real-ness, and gettability that I've encountered, at least with respect to the subjects I feel I am involved with enough to judge. I would like to shout out especially the authors and editors for the questions on: "liminality," "religious experience," Wilfrid Sellars (Brandom clue notwithstanding), "mushrooms," "time," gnosticism, Rach 3, Montanism, the Shahnameh, sola fide, John Berger, the weak theology bonus, the liberation theology bonus, the Jesus Prayer, the bonus on Gadamer and hermeneutics, the Eriugena/Neoplatonism bonus, the Althusser/Ranciere bonus, the Ccru bonus, the 'daily bread' bonus, the always already/internet/time and narrative bonus, and all of Dylan's wonderful jazz ideas.

I think the (relevant) above questions exemplify the level of creativity and depth still left to be explored in the R/M/P/Thought sphere of the distribution, being at once things that people who actually study theory, religion, and philosophy in an engaged context actually encounter and think about and things that can be attainably and enjoyably played as quizbowl. As Sam Bailey noted above, part of this was due to the fact that the set seemed to consciously work within the milieu of "contemporary" intellectual culture, using clues from the kind of places and works that people involved with other academics and enthusiasts will encounter from living an interested life. As I read through this set, I found in every packet a few clues that were things that I had recently discussed with friends, faculty, and other students entirely in non-quizbowl contexts. It felt really fresh, and not often like it was just trying to come up with obscure ways to ask for dusty old canonical material, while also avoiding the pitfall of being so full of rarities that tossups become crapshoots or heavily favor breadth-over-depth players.

With a similar intent to what the editors seemed to have, I contributed the tossup on "ritual," the tossup on "religion," and the bonus on Song of Songs; some of my other contributions were incorporated into or re-imagined as the weak theology bonus, the Jesus Prayer tossup, and the Thomas Aquinas / JPII bonus. In every* case where my contributions were modified, their final form was immensely better than my submission, beating my own idea toward executing the spirit of said idea: the Jesus Prayer tossup blew my "Orthodox Monasteries" submission out of the water while using some of the same material, and better tested real knowledge of Orthodox spirituality; likewise the weak theology bonus dared push the canon Caputo-ward through focusing the bonus on him rather than relegating his work to the hard part as my submission did. I was very impressed by this editing job—I mean that as much about my own submissions as I do with respect to the whole set—and I really have to commend the editors for it. Here's hoping ACF Nationals 2019 will continue these trends.

* Okay, removing my oh-so-prescient "handshakes in quizbowl" giveaway from the ritual tossup was a disappointment, but every OTHER change was an improvement.
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Re: ACF Nationals discussion

Post by theMoMA » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:38 pm

John, I appreciate the kind words on the various areas of the distribution that I was in charge of, and I'm sure that Aaron and Jordan also appreciate the thoughts about the philosophy and music.

(As a minor aside, the tossup on the Jesus Prayer was actually my own, and I happened to write it without remembering that you'd mentioned some of the same clues in the monasteries tossup; I ended up using your tossup as well in one of the extra packets, although I did trim the repeated material and slightly tweak the answer to be on "Greece." John has already mentioned to me that he plans to play Nationals next year, so I'll release any of his submissions for sure, and given various attitudes expressed in this thread, I will likely just put the whole documents out there, perhaps after reading them on IRC or something like that.)

My general strategy for the religion was to focus as much as I could on what I thought people people would know from practice or study. For that reason, I tried to avoid "minor religion bowl" except in a few isolated instances when I thought that the material was of historical significance. I also tried to, broadly speaking, focus on practice, history, doctrine, and scholarship in roughly equal measure. This included several questions framed around religious spaces; for instance, there were tossups on Greece (about the history of Orthodox monasteries), Sikhism (from clues entirely about gurdwaras), and Salt Lake City (mostly about the Temple).

I was very happy to get John's submissions, because they helped direct my attention to some very interesting scholarly work that I'm almost certain I would never have encountered otherwise. I tend to be one of the more activist editors in terms of shaping questions to conform to my notion of what would make an interesting question, and I'm sure that lots of these submissions would have been usable without my interventions, but I'm glad to hear that John was pleased with how they turned out.

Religion strikes me as an area of the distribution that is sometimes very stale, but can easily be livened with the inclusion of interesting clues drawn from scholarship, practice, and geography. Simply put, you don't need to write the next boring tossup on an Abrahamic holiday, a minor prophet, or a haphazardly chosen book of the Bible; every religion has lots of very interesting possible question topics, and even questions on tried-and-true subjects like, say, Muslim holidays or the Song of Songs can be approached in a different way.
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