Geography and Current Events (2014 PADAWAN)

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Geography and Current Events (2014 PADAWAN)

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

(alternatively, this thread can be titled "An Attempt at Atonement for Modern World")

Hey everyone,

I was responsible for writing all of the geography and current events for this tournament – not the largest categories, but ones that generate a decent amount of philosophical discussion nonetheless, moreso than much larger categories like history and science. I didn’t try anything revolutionary, but I tried to apply the principles recognized by the quizbowl community as good practices in each of these categories. In addition, I deliberately picked easy and accessible answers (no Tajik politics or North Siberian geography) for all of my tossups, since this would be one of the first regular-difficulty tournaments many players would play.

For geography, I took almost a “mixed academic” approach, starting with easy and well-known tossup answers and attempting to integrate knowledge of places and place names with what people actually might know those places from everyday experience in real life, as opposed to deliberate studying of the names of mountain ranges and bodies of water. The geography questions were:

Bangladesh
Coney Island
Kalahari
Tokyo
Spain

Andes/Aymara/Tiwanaku
Half Dome/Yosemite/Vernal fall
Amu Darya/Iran/salt
Ore/Slovakia/Transylvania
U.S. military bases/Somalia/Xeer

For current events, or “Modern World” as my questions are probably better categorized as, I similarly deliberately picked very easy tossup answers (none of which were people, I might add) and attempted to clue the questions from events and institutions important to understanding how the modern world works, with the admitted exception of the toilet paper bonus part. The Modern World questions were:

Silicon Valley
housing
Palestinians
EU
South Africa

Rust Belt/Chrysler/Fukuyama
Marijuana/Hickenlooper/Ogden memo
Vocational ed./Germany/Mittelstand
Princelings/Bo Xilai/red
Toilet paper/Chavez/Ecuador

I’d really appreciate feedback on specific questions and on my approach to these topics as a whole. Did I skew too easy or too hard? Would people have appreciated more difficult topic choices?
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Gonzagapuma1 »

I definitely don't think you skewed too easy. I thought most of the stuff was good (South Africa stands out in particular), but a few were just bad. That Coney Island tossup was awful. It basically said that this is a place in New York with an amusement park after the first 1.5 sentences. Also, that American Air Force bases part. It is silly to prompt on "air force bases"; just air force bases should obviously be accepted.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

This is the question I submitted for the military bases bonus. It says to straight up accept army, naval, and air bases; let me check if it got edited to say otherwise:
Will's PADAWAN Geo/CE wrote:A large one of these facilities is located at Andrews in Prince George’s County, Maryland. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this type of facility, of which Camp Lemonnier is the only example in Africa. KAIA is a major one of these facilities located in Kabul.
ANSWER: U.S. military bases [accept equivalents, like U.S. army bases or U.S. naval bases or U.S. air bases; prompt for country on just “military base” etc.]
[10] Drones based at Camp Lemonnier often conduct strikes in this pirate-ravaged country, where government initiatives and foreign support have succeeded in pushing back al-Shabaab.
ANSWER: Somalia
[10] This customary law system native to Somalia and the Horn of Africa allows for a relatively functional judicial system despite the largely anarchic state throughout the country.
ANSWER: Xeer [pronounced KHER]
This is the Coney Island tossup:
Will's PADAWAN Geo/CE wrote:A wooden attraction called the Thunderbolt that operated in this place from 1925 to 1982 was demolished in 2000 and is slated to be replaced by a steel one. Sea Gate lies directly west of this place. The D, F, N, and Q lines all meet at the Stillwell Avenue station in this place, where the United States’ oldest aquarium was moved in 1957. “I Am Waiting” and (*) “Junkman’s Obbligato” are two poems from a poetry collection named for this place by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This place was originally named for the diversity of rabbits found in it. Requiem for a Dream is set in this place, where Nathan’s Famous hot dogs originated. For 10 points, name this so-called “island” in New York City known for its amusement parks.
ANSWER: Coney Island [prompt on “New York” or “New York City” or “Brooklyn”]
It doesn't explicitly say New York anywhere until the last line, though I suppose someone who knew subway geography could figure that out. But if they knew subway geography and could determine that, then I don't mind you getting the question. It might be advisable to use a different leadin or clue order though - I'll think about that.

What other questions did you think were bad?
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox »

But the thing is, you don't have to know subway geography really at all to know that. I haven't been to NYC in over a decade and barely recall it but what other major city is going to have a major amusement park and THAT many routes? It all seems quite fraudable in power.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Gonzagapuma1 »

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:This is the question I submitted for the military bases bonus. It says to straight up accept army, naval, and air bases; let me check if it got edited to say otherwise:
Will's PADAWAN Geo/CE wrote:A large one of these facilities is located at Andrews in Prince George’s County, Maryland. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this type of facility, of which Camp Lemonnier is the only example in Africa. KAIA is a major one of these facilities located in Kabul.
ANSWER: U.S. military bases [accept equivalents, like U.S. army bases or U.S. naval bases or U.S. air bases; prompt for country on just “military base” etc.]
[10] Drones based at Camp Lemonnier often conduct strikes in this pirate-ravaged country, where government initiatives and foreign support have succeeded in pushing back al-Shabaab.
ANSWER: Somalia
[10] This customary law system native to Somalia and the Horn of Africa allows for a relatively functional judicial system despite the largely anarchic state throughout the country.
ANSWER: Xeer [pronounced KHER]
This is the Coney Island tossup:
Will's PADAWAN Geo/CE wrote:A wooden attraction called the Thunderbolt that operated in this place from 1925 to 1982 was demolished in 2000 and is slated to be replaced by a steel one. Sea Gate lies directly west of this place. The D, F, N, and Q lines all meet at the Stillwell Avenue station in this place, where the United States’ oldest aquarium was moved in 1957. “I Am Waiting” and (*) “Junkman’s Obbligato” are two poems from a poetry collection named for this place by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This place was originally named for the diversity of rabbits found in it. Requiem for a Dream is set in this place, where Nathan’s Famous hot dogs originated. For 10 points, name this so-called “island” in New York City known for its amusement parks.
ANSWER: Coney Island [prompt on “New York” or “New York City” or “Brooklyn”]
It doesn't explicitly say New York anywhere until the last line, though I suppose someone who knew subway geography could figure that out. But if they knew subway geography and could determine that, then I don't mind you getting the question. It might be advisable to use a different leadin or clue order though - I'll think about that.

What other questions did you think were bad?
I think the "Maryland" was removed and then the answerline was changed. Not to harp on this too much because, again, most of these questions were good, but the most famous thing about Coney Island is that it has an amusement park on it. It's not really about knowing subway geography, it's that the most famous subway is in NYC, so the combination of those two things was the problem. Also, the Ogden Memo part seemed not only impossible, but also a bit of meta as that is ex-GDS player Jon Ogden's dad (you probably just didn't know that Ogden had a qb connection).
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I see your arguments and I'll rewrite the first few clues of that question -- it shouldn't be too difficult for me to do so.

I knew the Ogden memo would be hard, but it's an important document about drug policy and something that people with real-world knowledge on the issue mentioned to me in conversations about the drug war. A lot of people care about the War on Drugs, so I figured it wouldn't be too rough to ask for some specific policy/document knowledge.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Cody »

Here is the military bases bonus as it appeared in the packet. The only change is "accept" to "or" which I did for the entire set.

A large one of these facilities is located at Andrews in Prince George's County, Maryland. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this type of facility, of which Camp Lemonnier is the only example in Africa. KAIA is a major one of these facilities located in Kabul.
ANSWER: U.S. military bases [or equivalents, like U.S. army bases or U.S. naval bases or U.S. air bases; prompt for country on just "military base" etc.]
[10] Drones based at Camp Lemonnier often conduct strikes in this pirate-ravaged country, where government initiatives and foreign support have succeeded in pushing back al-Shabaab.
ANSWER: Somalia
[10] This customary law system native to Somalia and the Horn of Africa allows for a relatively functional judicial system despite the largely anarchic state throughout the country.
ANSWER: Xeer [pronounced KHER]
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by 1992 in spaceflight »

I think the "housing" tossup and the tossup on the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development both clue the current Secretary of HUD, which is probably something that should be changed.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Corry »

I really liked most of these questions, because I would've powered most of these questions (obviously the perfect standard).

Like Jacob mentioned, the clue on Julian Castro is repeated in both the "housing" tossup and the "Secretary of Housing" tossup. That should probably be fixed. Also, I personally found the Castro clue in the "Housing" tossup to be rather confusingly worded:
A former mayor of San Antonio succeeded a man nominated to head the OMB as the head of a government department that regulates this good.
That's like four separate sentence clauses in one sentence, which would be really tough to parse in normal gameplay. I think it would've been a lot more clear if you had just said:
A former mayor of San Antonio now heads the government department that regulates this good.
I'm pretty sure more people know about Castro's time as the mayor of San Antonio, rather than whoever heads the OMB these days, so I think that the OMB clue just adds an unnecessary clause that makes the sentence harder to immediately understand.

Also, the very early mention of Cox's Bazaar in the Bangladesh tossup seemed a bit easy, but maybe I'm just too used to Geography Monstrosity here.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I can fix the Castro bit; I meant to do that but I've been focused on other things this week.

I did remember playing that geography monstrosity tossup, but that answerline was worth 20 points throughout the tossup, I think, so it seemed eminently reasonable to use as the first clue to me.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Corry »

By the way, do you know what the "Hawaiian Islands" tossup was classified as, if not geography? Because it was really really hard.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Cody »

Corry wrote:By the way, do you know what the "Hawaiian Islands" tossup was classified as, if not geography? Because it was really really hard.
Earth Science.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Corry »

Cody wrote:
Corry wrote:By the way, do you know what the "Hawaiian Islands" tossup was classified as, if not geography? Because it was really really hard.
Earth Science.
Well, I guess that makes sense. I knew about Kure and the Darwin Point from a geography perspective, in which it's super super obscure, but I'm willing to believe that maybe that stuff is easier from an earth science perspective.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by alexdz »

I wrote that Hawaiian Islands tossup. Sorry for throwing some really obscure stuff out there. I was sort of experimenting with the idea of writing Earth science questions about particular places, and trying to differentiate that from simple geography meant not throwing out too many linguistically/culturally "fraudable" names of places too early. Things like the Darwin Point clue allowed me to do that, but it probably caused the difficulty to be a little high.

In general, I'd be interested to know what people thought of the idea of writing on the Earth science of places. I wrote a similar question about Ireland, but not sure if it ended up in the final set or not (I have yet to see it).
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by mriggle »

alexdz wrote:I wrote that Hawaiian Islands tossup. Sorry for throwing some really obscure stuff out there. I was sort of experimenting with the idea of writing Earth science questions about particular places, and trying to differentiate that from simple geography meant not throwing out too many linguistically/culturally "fraudable" names of places too early. Things like the Darwin Point clue allowed me to do that, but it probably caused the difficulty to be a little high.

In general, I'd be interested to know what people thought of the idea of writing on the Earth science of places. I wrote a similar question about Ireland, but not sure if it ended up in the final set or not (I have yet to see it).
Speaking only for myself, I enjoyed the Hawaii tossup, though I agree that the early clues may have been a bit on the difficult side. I think perhaps a problem for me was that mentally I was treating the question like geography because that's what it sounded like, and so I was casting about for placement of Kure/Darwin Point, which didn't really get me anywhere. That's less an issue with the clues themselves per se, and more just that my thought process didn't figure out what was going on until later in the question.

As someone who's generally proficient in geography/Earth science, I think I'd endorse writing Earth science questions on specific places to add some variety, though I'm not sure how difficult it would be in practice for writers to make sure things aren't too gettable or too obscure. I don't remember a tossup on Ireland from yesterday's OSU mirror so I can't comment on that.

Could someone please post the text of the Hawaii tossup?
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by The Dance of Sorrow »

This could be regional bias speaking a bit here, but I was under the impression that Cabrini-Green was incredibly famous and did not belong in the leadin, or even in power, to the tossup on housing.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I am often fairly culturally ignorant, but I had literally never heard of it until a friend at UChicago sent me a bunch of articles on housing and rent in Chicago. I imagine this question did not play particularly well at the Chicago site, but replacing questions for a single site only seems rather ill-advised to me.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

It's the second most famous public housing project, ever. I was pretty surprised it was a lead-in as well.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Cody »

alexdz wrote:In general, I'd be interested to know what people thought of the idea of writing on the Earth science of places. I wrote a similar question about Ireland, but not sure if it ended up in the final set or not (I have yet to see it).
I was hoping this would be merged to Phys/Other Sci before responding, but:

I would not encourage people to do this; in fact, I would very much discourage them. There are very few people in quizbowl I would trust to execute a location tossup, in Earth Science, well. It involves choosing a good answer (Hawai'i is one, Ireland is not -- I've not seen the Ireland q. because it isn't in the set, so the rest is wrt Hawai'i). It involves choosing a set of clues that give a good buzz distribution (Hawai'i didn't meet this standard at all). It involves choosing clues people are more likely to know through Earth Science than geography (Hawai'i only partially met this and some of the potentially good clues were phrased unhelpfully -- for example, the Kure clue -- such that any use they might've served in Earth Science was neutered).

A good tossup on a location in Earth Science is hard to do and I don't recommend that people try it unless you 100% know what you're doing. There's plenty of underexplored topics in Earth Science that are much easier to write.

The tossup:
Geologically speaking, Kure \i{(rhymes with brewery)} is the oldest part of this region, dating back to about 30 million years ago. A dike of igneous rock fills an eroded cavity to create this region's Pinnacle Peak. This region is also home to the hypersaline Lake Laysan. Its northwestern-most island lies very near the Darwin Point, where ocean water temperatures perfectly balance upward coral growth with subsidence of land. J. Tuzo Wilson proposed the process that formed this (*)} archipelago as well as the series of guyots and seamounts stretching from it to the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, known as the Emperor Seamounts. The hotspot that created this island chain has sloweed down. For 10 points, name this volcanic archipelago home to Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.
A: \bu{Hawai'i}an islands [or \bu{Honolulu County}, Hawai'i until "archipelago" is read; or \bu{Northwestern Hawai'ian Islands} until "Mauna Loa" is read]
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by coldstonesteveaustin »

Coming from the West Coast, I, too, believed that Cabrini-Green was way too early, but because I couldn't figure out that housing was considered a good, I was beaten to a buzzer race on the "this good caused the financial crisis" clue.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by coldstonesteveaustin »

Also, was the Savannah tossup in geography? Because Eli Whitney is not a very good lead-in.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I listed all of the tossups that were written as "geography" or "current events" questions above. The Savannah question was American History.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by coldstonesteveaustin »

Could I see the Amu Darya bonus? I want to see the middle part, because I heard something about a namesake region, so I was thinking Persia has a common etymology with Fars/Pars, which I gave as my answer.

The Rust Belt bonus having Fukuyama as a third part and the later bonus on The End of History and the Last Man was a little bit weird, mostly because Fukuyama is guessable if you know that he wrote about teleological stuff.

The Silicon Valley tossup was confusing because it was mentioning a bunch of tech related things like Andreessen Horowitz and the whole "don't recruit people from other companies" thing, but the use of the word "location" threw me off. Perhaps "region" is a better descriptor?
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

The Amu Darya bonus as I submitted it (I'm too lazy to comb through the PDFs and copy the text):
This river was frequently called Jayhoun in reference to one of the rivers of Eden, and was at other times called Gozan. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this river, whose ultimate source is thought by some to be an ice cave in the Wakhan corridor. This river was regarded by historiographers as the southern border of Turan.
ANSWER: Amu Darya [accept Oxus]
[10] Geographers and poets alike opposed Turan with this region. This region lends its name to the modern country formerly known as Persia.
ANSWER: [Greater] Iran [or variants: Eran, etc.]
[10] This resource lends its name to the Dasht-e-Kavir, the large desert in the middle of the Iranian plateau. A number of odd mummies have been uncovered at Chehrabad, a facility where this resource is extracted.
ANSWER: salt
Salt was intended as the medium part, though I think it leaned a bit easy.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

While I thought the princelings part was fine apart from the rather bizarre easy part, I was kind of confused why I had to say "Xilai" instead of just Bo. Bo Xilai is much more notable than any other Bo, and I see requiring to differentiate him from his father kind of like requiring to differentiate between the guy who ran for president in 2008 and John S. McCain, Jr.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

He's more notable than any Bo, but the fact that he has a very common Chinese surname and is from a very important political family made me feel that the full name should be required. As for Fukuyama being guessable, there's an awful lot of people who have written about the impact of globalization on industry in the United States and the inevitable changes in socioeconomic fabric that result from that.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by The Stately Rhododendron »

Could I see the rest of your South Africa question, Will? I liked the lead-in a lot, as I've never heard floor-crossing mentioned in a tossup before, even though it was a relatively big deal in South African politics.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Matt Weiner »

Mr. Joyboy wrote:Could I see the rest of your South Africa question, Will? I liked the lead-in a lot, as I've never heard floor-crossing mentioned in a tossup before, even though it was a relatively big deal in South African politics.
This was actually a really bad clue that didn't understand that "crossing the floor" is the ordinary term for changing parties in any Westminster parliament.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by The Stately Rhododendron »

Matt Weiner wrote:
Mr. Joyboy wrote:Could I see the rest of your South Africa question, Will? I liked the lead-in a lot, as I've never heard floor-crossing mentioned in a tossup before, even though it was a relatively big deal in South African politics.
This was actually a really bad clue that didn't understand that "crossing the floor" is the ordinary term for changing parties in any Westminster parliament.
The clue is specific to South Africa, as far as I know. Since South Africa elects its members of the National Assembly through closed list PR (you vote for a party, not a candidate), originally if a member of parliament changed parties, they lost their seat (the party membership granted them their seat). This was changed in 2003 by the 10th amendment to make it so one could change parties at certain "windows" as long as at least 10% of your party did it as well. This meant that members of small parties with <10 seats could move around at will, while members of larger parties could not. This lead to a lot of chaos and accusations of ANC bribery, and the eventual repeal of the 10th amendment. "Floor-crossing" therefore has a meaning unique to South Africa.
The clue described floor-crossing as being made illegal. I can't think of any other country that has done this in the manner described in the clue.
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Matt Weiner
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by Matt Weiner »

Right, but the clue was:
Until 2009, politicians in this country could use “floor crossing” to switch parties, a practice used by a mayor who blew the whistle on the Strategic Defense Acquisition here.
The quotes make it clear that we're supposed to get something out of this term itself, which is impossible since it's a very common term that exists in multiple countries, rather than focusing on the circumstances of it being made illegal. Other than maybe putting together that the word "until" has some special significance, there isn't anything in the question about what you posted or why it is important.

Also, the term "Strategic Defense Acquisition" is needlessly confusing. If you use Commonwealth spelling (Defence), there is a Wikipedia reference to it as a synonym for the "South African arms deal" of the late 1990s. It still doesn't appear to be used by more than a single-digit number of actual books or news articles about the topic. The "mayor" referred to is presumably Patricia de Lille, who is currently the mayor of Cape Town, but exposed the arms deal while serving in the South African Parliament, as should have been obvious from the reference to floor-crossing, which can only take place there.

So, both the mistaken belief that the term "floor-crossing" itself rather than the fact of its being made illegal was significant, and this unhelpfully secondary term for the "South African arms deal," were, unsurprisingly, things that could have made it into the question from relying on Wikipedia articles:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floor_cro ... th_Africa)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_Arms_Deal

This shows one of the big problems with writing questions out of Wikipedia -- nothing in either of those articles is incorrect, as far as I know, but their failure to provide adequate context and Wikipedia's well-known insistence on assigning names to things of its own accord has led to a question that at best fails to communicate why the facts contained within are worth knowing, and arguably misleads players entirely as to what is being discussed. This combines with imprecise writing (not explaining that the person mentioned simply as "a mayor" was not a mayor when she did the thing referenced in the question, relying solely on the use of "until" as the first word of the tossup to provide context) to further throw the player for a loop. I can't imagine why a more common phrase like "this country's controversial late 1990s arms deal" or the name of the non-quizbowl-famous Patricia de Lille had to be obscured, other than to make sure the leadin was less of an outright copy-and-paste of the leadin to the tossup on South Africa in packet 1 of Modern World than it already is.
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Re: Geography and Current Events

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I cross-referenced the article I read with a brief scan of news media sources - I don't have them in my history since I wrote the question on a different computer a while ago, and I can't remember what the article was. I ran the question by non-quizbowl people who follow world politics closely and they said that what I described was accurate. Therefore, I don't really see any wrong with it, since people who knew what was going on were able to get 15 points - as well they should. Certainly, I could have provided a bit more context, and in retrospect that would have improved the question, but it seems like there was functionally nothing wrong the question here.

The question:
Until 2009, politicians in this country could use “floor crossing” to switch parties, a practice used by a mayor who blew the whistle on the Strategic Defense Acquisition here. This country’s Economic Freedom Fighters party is disproportionately supported by its politically apathetic “born free” generation. The founder of The Elders is from this country, where a strike by Lonmin workers resulted in the death of 34 (*) miners during the Marikana massacre. Indians and Chinese have been oddly favored by a program of “Economic Empowerment” in this country, where Helle Thoring-Schmidt and Barack Obama were criticized for taking a selfie at a funeral for a leader who escaped from Robben Island. For 10 points, name this country home to Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.
ANSWER: Republic of South Africa
EDIT: I actually didn't cross-reference the Modern World question on South Africa (which I didn't write anyways) at all when writing this tossup, but I can see why it may have seemed that way.

EDIT 2: I can further see why the first sentence may be misplacing emphasis on what is important. I'll keep that in mind next time. Thanks for the feedback.
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