George Oppen: Specific Question Discussion

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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cody »

theMoMA wrote:I'd offer that it's preferable to write on the regime or country itself, using clues about women or social history, instead of using answer lines like "Nazi women."
Writing on a more specific answerline makes it easier to avoid your clues outing your answerline. You offered this advice for the Roman women tossup, but you couldn't have written that on the Roman Empire -- the tossup worked because it used many Latin terms that people learn in class. The tossup would've had to be written much more vaguely (so as to be useless). Specific answers are often fine, as in that case, because (a) players are required to have actual knowledge of the clues and (b) players do have actual knowledge of the clues and can thus buzz in an appropriate distribution.
Matthew Jackson wrote:It's also not necessary to underline _women_ in your answer line every time you draw on women's history for a question. For example, my tossup on the American Civil War for 2013 NASAT (which mentioned Drew Gilpin Faust), and the 2015 Regionals tossups on the Byzantine empire, South Africa, and the Ottoman harem all drew extensively on historical study of women in those times/places, without blaring "oh hey, I was on Evan Adams' side of that one thread in 2011" in such a blatant and frankly no-longer-necessary way. That battle has long since been won. Now it's time to look forward to more future questions which include the history of women and other non-men naturally as a part of what it means to write on a decent cross-section of human history at large. There are ways to do so in clues, bonus parts, etc. that are actually, well, creative, rather than repeating the process of "boot up computer | choose country | underline _women_ | pat self on back for inclusiveness".
This is the second time you've brought this up. It's quite frankly an unnecessary attack, and certainly blatantly false, on the thought process that went into writing this question. I've had false accusations of "villainy" thrown at me for some of the topics I've chosen to write on, and they're more than a little upsetting when your actual goal is to write good questions. Your point stands, but you didn't need to come off as a dick to make it.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by theMoMA »

Cody wrote:Writing on a more specific answerline makes it easier to avoid your clues outing your answerline. You offered this advice for the Roman women tossup, but you couldn't have written that on the Roman Empire -- the tossup worked because it used many Latin terms that people learn in class. The tossup would've had to be written much more vaguely (so as to be useless).
Some tossup answers are intractable, but the response to that surely can't be "write a confusing question in which many of the clues also apply just as well to other answers." I offered that (1) questions on categories need to be about the categories themselves, as opposed to simply listing things that fall within those (and also other) categories. If something like "Roman women" (or simply "women" from clues about Rome) can be accomplished within this framework, more power to the writer. I've also offered that (2) people can pick less-restrictive, less-specific answer lines, such as "Nazi regime" or "Germany," in certain contexts (although I'm careful to say that transparency is a major consideration if you go that route).

If you can't get enough material for a good, clue-dense tossup under either of those frameworks, I think you've identified a great bonus theme, and should refocus your efforts accordingly. As I said at the beginning of this post, not everything works as a tossup, but your response simply can't be to lob ill-conceived tossups at the players, then blame them for their confusion or inability to read your mind to figure out which overlapping thing you want.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Cody wrote:
Matthew Jackson wrote:It's also not necessary to underline _women_ in your answer line every time you draw on women's history for a question. For example, my tossup on the American Civil War for 2013 NASAT (which mentioned Drew Gilpin Faust), and the 2015 Regionals tossups on the Byzantine empire, South Africa, and the Ottoman harem all drew extensively on historical study of women in those times/places, without blaring "oh hey, I was on Evan Adams' side of that one thread in 2011" in such a blatant and frankly no-longer-necessary way. That battle has long since been won. Now it's time to look forward to more future questions which include the history of women and other non-men naturally as a part of what it means to write on a decent cross-section of human history at large. There are ways to do so in clues, bonus parts, etc. that are actually, well, creative, rather than repeating the process of "boot up computer | choose country | underline _women_ | pat self on back for inclusiveness".
This is the second time you've brought this up. It's quite frankly an unnecessary attack, and certainly blatantly false, on the thought process that went into writing this question. I've had false accusations of "villainy" thrown at me for some of the topics I've chosen to write on, and they're more than a little upsetting when your actual goal is to write good questions. Your point stands, but you didn't need to come off as a dick to make it.
Neither of us can read Auroni's mind or ascribe truth values to claims about it given the information we currently have. What I do know is that there were no questions with the answer line "[country] _women_" before August 2011, and that several deliberate attempts to write them began immediately thereafter, continuing to this day, entirely by writers who are pretty closely keyed in to discussion on these boards. If I am being uncharitable to Auroni's motives in writing this question here, and he lets me know as such, I will gladly apologize and retract this part of my claim. The rest of what I said certainly stands to reason without it.

I will say even before then: while I certainly intended the tone of these remarks to be "humorous hyperbole" (a pretty common mode of engagement on these forums) rather than "defamatory personal attack," I can certainly admit that this remark was over the line between those two things and be more careful going forward if that's how the actual moderators of this board saw it. I, too, do not wish to be a "villain".
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:32 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

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Mewto55555 wrote:I'm curious what other people think about common-link letter functions. I've always found them to be pretty annoying, primarily because they aren't always standardized (for example, I've always written Heaviside with an H, many other people seem to use different letters -- obviously this isn't neg-bait here since you say non-Roman letter) and focuses on an extremely trivial aspect of the math; I don't know much about the early functions mentioned in the question, but the fact that theta is used to denote the Heaviside function sometimes seems incredibly unimportant relative to other facts about the Heaviside function, for example.
While it's certainly not negbait, it's a bit frustrating to not produce a buzz on something you know about because of notational differences. Certainly I'm not some sort of PDE wizard, but my undergrad textbook refers to this function as H(x) - and of course I know that the integral of the delta function is the Heaviside step function. So it seems to me that the main reason I couldn't score at that point is a professor's choice of textbook/notation, which is rather frustrating. It also seems rather pointless for me to, at any time since I learned about that particular function, go look up alternative notations for the function because quizbowl. That's not really rewarding learning - not to mention that it seems pretty insane to spend hours upon hours looking up alternate notations for things that you already know how to use just in case you missed some notation that could come up in a tossup sometime.
Cheynem wrote:The next clue is about the group JM, the League of German Girls, which is the girls wing of the Hitler Youth, so at this point Matt Jackson's neg of HItler Youth would be okay.
I'm just pointing out that Dargan, who is pretty well-informed on European history, produced an identical neg.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Auroni »

ProfessorIanDuncan wrote:Maybe this is just bias because I knew the answer, but didn't the C. Kirchner question seem relatively easy? I'm pretty sure that the lead-in was the same clue as a clue in the middle of an SCT tossup on Argentina and that seemed a bit off.
Cayman islands hedge fund NML Capital punished this leader's country for defaulting on its debt by impounding one of its ships in Tema, Ghana. An investigative journalism show followed a paper trail left by this current leader in the "Route of the K-Money" scandal. The printing house Ciccone received contracts from this leader's bass guitar-playing former vice president Amado Boudou. During a state visit to China, this leader unwisely tweeted asking if Chinese people wanted "lice and petloleum." This leader completely ignored a large-scale protest known as 18A, and was hospitalized in October 2013 after a head injury caused blood to seep into her brain. This president lost the support of labor leader (*) Hugo Moyano during her reelection campaign. Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was mysteriously found dead after accusing her of covering up Iran's role with Hezbollah of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. In 2007, this member of the Justicialist Party succeeded her husband Nestor. For 10 points, name this current president of Argentina.
ANSWER: Cristina Fernandez de _Kirchner_ [or Cristina Elisabet Fernandez de _Kirchner_]

I've never seen that clue used before so I felt comfortable using it as the leadin.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Gonzagapuma1 »

Auroni wrote:
ProfessorIanDuncan wrote:Maybe this is just bias because I knew the answer, but didn't the C. Kirchner question seem relatively easy? I'm pretty sure that the lead-in was the same clue as a clue in the middle of an SCT tossup on Argentina and that seemed a bit off.
Cayman islands hedge fund NML Capital punished this leader's country for defaulting on its debt by impounding one of its ships in Tema, Ghana. An investigative journalism show followed a paper trail left by this current leader in the "Route of the K-Money" scandal. The printing house Ciccone received contracts from this leader's bass guitar-playing former vice president Amado Boudou. During a state visit to China, this leader unwisely tweeted asking if Chinese people wanted "lice and petloleum." This leader completely ignored a large-scale protest known as 18A, and was hospitalized in October 2013 after a head injury caused blood to seep into her brain. This president lost the support of labor leader (*) Hugo Moyano during her reelection campaign. Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was mysteriously found dead after accusing her of covering up Iran's role with Hezbollah of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. In 2007, this member of the Justicialist Party succeeded her husband Nestor. For 10 points, name this current president of Argentina.
ANSWER: Cristina Fernandez de _Kirchner_ [or Cristina Elisabet Fernandez de _Kirchner_]

I've never seen that clue used before so I felt comfortable using it as the leadin.
It was the leadin for the Argentina tossup at ICT 2014. Combined with the confusing/poor way the question was written, it did not go over well in our room. I'll harken back to what Jordan and a few others said and just say that, while the set was okay overall, it was incredibly frustrating to play games that were decided on questions that very few people knew anything about, essentially making them speedchecks (Blindness, Habbakuk), or on things that were just bad ideas (Dog With A Blog being the chief one here).
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Previous usage, or lack thereof, isn't really a good barometer of difficulty for current events clues.

The Nazi women tossup was vague for about half the clues, and answerlines other than [country] _women_ would have been better. I still buzzed pretty confidently from remembering the flak battery stuff, though. To me, it's not significantly worse than many questions with more "standard" answerlines that also used vague clues; whether it's lingering hostility from that thread, or just ressentiment towards Evan Adams, I think it's being unfairly singled out.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Emperor Pupienus »

Would you mind posting the Empress Elizabeth and Valens tossups?
I personally found their early clues suspect.

The lead in for the Elizabeth tossup was that she was the person who's death constituted the 2nd Miracle of the House of Brandenburg. As far as I can tell, the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg is quite famous as a clue for Frederick the Great, and in fact I had only learned about the one in which Elizabeth died. As a result, I was a bit confused by the lead in, and waited to buzz. The fact that it is the 2nd instance does not seem very important, and indeed merely confused me, thought that may be more the fault of my lack of knowledge, but regardless it seemed like a pretty easy (albeit confusing for me) lead in. Anyone who had looked up the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg in the process of studying things about Frederick the Great could've fairly easily first lined that.

For the Valens tossup, meanwhile, the second clue was just the famous aspects about the Battle of Adrianople: the most famous clue for Valens. Although you did not give the name of the battle you gave basically the defining features of that battle, namely that he besieged a wagon circle before being overwhelmed by cavalry returning to the battlefield. I think that clue definitely should not be the second clue, and perhaps should be put before the give away when you presumably mentioned Adrianople by name. Although buzzing on that clue in the second line may have been a bit risky (I'm sure there are other battles involving wagon trains, and in fact I was slightly concerned after buzzing in that I was wrong because it seemed too easy), it definitely seemed like too easy for the second clue.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

As I suspected, "the Plumbers" worked for the Committee to Re-elect the President, aka CREEP. Therefore my buzz with CREEP ought to have been at least prompted if not accepted. I assume instructions for "CREEP" were just not included in the answer line and that Zeke didn't single me out for a nefarious negging.

As for whether the Nazi women tossup is being singled out thanks to long-festering ressentiment at Evan Adams, I assure you that isn't the case. I literally didn't know about that thread until months after it happened, and had I been involved I would have lamented that the attempt to be innovative and include social history in quizbowl had failed in the event and applauded the sentiment. I believe I said as much in the thread specifically on social history in quizbowl in the summer of 2012 (?)
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

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jasonzhou wrote:The lead in for the Elizabeth tossup was that she was the person who's death constituted the 2nd Miracle of the House of Brandenburg. As far as I can tell, the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg is quite famous as a clue for Frederick the Great, and in fact I had only learned about the one in which Elizabeth died. As a result, I was a bit confused by the lead in, and waited to buzz. The fact that it is the 2nd instance does not seem very important, and indeed merely confused me, thought that may be more the fault of my lack of knowledge, but regardless it seemed like a pretty easy (albeit confusing for me) lead in. Anyone who had looked up the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg in the process of studying things about Frederick the Great could've fairly easily first lined that.
I was also confused by this clue. Not knowing that there were 2 miracles and using quizbowl meta knowledge that the clue was relatively notable I assumed it was talking about some other instance.

I'll note that I did like some of the more creative answer lines in this set such as the Franco-Prussian War literature tossup and the sculpture tossup on writers. These were good ways to explore canonical stuff from different angles.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

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Tees-Exe Line wrote:As I suspected, "the Plumbers" worked for the Committee to Re-elect the President, aka CREEP. Therefore my buzz with CREEP ought to have been at least prompted if not accepted. I assume instructions for "CREEP" were just not included in the answer line and that Zeke didn't single me out for a nefarious negging.
Man, I made the exact same neg and it decided our game, but I didn't know if it was worth protesting.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Mewto55555 »

Ukonvasara wrote:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:As I suspected, "the Plumbers" worked for the Committee to Re-elect the President, aka CREEP. Therefore my buzz with CREEP ought to have been at least prompted if not accepted. I assume instructions for "CREEP" were just not included in the answer line and that Zeke didn't single me out for a nefarious negging.
Man, I made the exact same neg and it decided our game, but I didn't know if it was worth protesting.
It seems history repeated itself as farce, farce, and farce, since we lost our game when Chris made the same neg as well! We protested and it got passed along to Auroni and denied, for a reason I didn't exactly comprehend.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

The Plumbers were established directly by the Nixon White House and took direction from John Ehrlichman, who was not a member of CREEP.

It seems that the Wikipedia page on the White House Plumbers asserts directly that they worked for CREEP; in typical Wikipedia fashion, this is
1) sourced to an article which makes no such claim and in fact does not mention CREEP at all and
2) not true, which you can verify if you do some cursory research in more reliable sources on Google Books, etc.

While the Plumbers and CREEP had at least one member in common and obviously pursued the same ends, it's incredibly dubious to say that an organization established as the public face of fundraising efforts is in any sense identical to or interchangeable with an organization specifically established to perform secret illegal activities which could not be openly done in Nixon's name -- especially when all the clues in the question were about those illegal activities.

In quizbowl, you have to buzz in and say the correct answer to get points. You can't just say anything that is related to the topic of the question and then demand it be accepted, prompted, or replaced ("pulling a Michigan"). You also can't base a protest on what Wikipedia says, since anyone can, and frequently does, and in this case did, put false information into Wikipedia. You should not do either when trying to do so betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the topic -- of course the front organization tasked with handling the legal, above-board aspects of the Nixon campaign was not the one that performed burglaries and plotted assassinations of political opponents! (While Liddy's role in both groups and actions he performed on his own accord can blur the lines with regard to Watergate specifically, it's really much more clear when talking about the clues used in the beginning of the tossup.)
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

Oh, good, I just fucked up then. Comforting, in a way!
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

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Yeah, that was my reasoning in making the ruling. The two groups shared some personnel, but one was not a subset of the other.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

Matt Weiner wrote:While the Plumbers and CREEP had at least one member in common and obviously pursued the same ends, it's incredibly dubious to say that an organization established as the public face of fundraising efforts is in any sense identical to or interchangeable with an organization specifically established to perform secret illegal activities which could not be openly done in Nixon's name -- especially when all the clues in the question were about those illegal activities.
The phrase "follow the money," what Deep Throat famously said to Bob Woodward, refers to the many payments that CREEP made to E. Howard Hunt and the other plumbers to finance the cover-up of the crimes the question referred to. The copious links between CREEP and the plumbers are what made Watergate a presidency-killing scandal, in fact, because they tied Nixon directly to the crimes. Thus, your post in defense of the given answer line is literally exactly the same as Richard Nixon's criminal defense.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

There are obvious links between CREEP and the plumbers, but that is sort of besides the point. The clues in the tossup refer specifically to the plumbers, to wit:
The tossup mentions a "liaison to this group"--there isn't really a liaison to CREEP.
The tossup mentions the "leader of this group"--that would be John Mitchell for CREEP, who did not do the things in the tossup.
The tossup mentions the "nickname" of the plumbers and its origin, which does not apply to CREEP.
The tossup mentions why the plumbers were founded, which is not the same as CREEP's founding.

I'm trying to think of an equivalent, like...I dunno, COINTELPRO and the Chicago PD, which had identical goals and overlapped on projects, but it's easily possible to write a tossup distinguishing between the two, and I think Auroni did that with plumbers. To put it another way, the fact that CREEP was paying the plumbers is significant, highly so, but it's a. not mentioned in the tossup and b. to me not really deserving of a prompt (certainly not worth accepting). Like by this logic, any tossup on any Nixon Cabinet member could be answered with "Richard Nixon."
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

CREEP covered up, and paid for the defense of those charged in, Watergate. It did not conduct the operation of the actual activities discussed in the tossup. The fact that covering up a crime makes one liable for the crime in the eyes of the law or of people judging the Nixon Presidency is irrelevant to the quizbowl principle here. I would suggest as a good rule of thumb for the future that if you have to re-litigate the entirety of a large American political scandal in order to make your protest tenable, then your protest should not and will not succeed.

Again: You have to say the actual answer. There is an implicit assumption in the last four or five years of people complaining about protests that saying something that is "sort of" right or "related to" the right answer creates a fuzzy logic scenario where you are somewhere between wrong and right, and entitled to some sort of in-between remedy like a protest or a replacement question. I'm here to tell you that this is not the case. There are right answers and there are wrong ones, and the fact that CREEP is related to the Plumbers, or could have been arguably a promptable answer if different clues were used in the question than it actually used, doesn't make you "sort of right" or entitled to a new question or a prompt; it's exactly as wrong as buzzing in with "the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood" at the same place, and you get nothing.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

I'll repeat: the whole point of Watergate was that CREEP and the plumbers were, in practice, the same organization. Rick Perlstein's Nixonland recounts several instances in which Gordon Liddy outlined his plans to John Mitchell, both while he was Attorney General (in many ways, even more outrageous) and after he stepped down to head CREEP. It was in that post that he threatened Carl Bernstein by saying "Katie Graham's gonna get her tits in a wringer if that's published" or similar, regarding an article about the slush fund out of which he paid the plumbers.

I'd like to see the question. What I buzzed on was Lewis Fielding's name, and I specifically chose to say CREEP, expecting to be prompted, thanks to the rules promulgated last year. As I understand them, they make the correct play to buzz with the most general possible answer.

A word of advice: don't imply that I get all my history from Wikipedia. It only makes you look silly.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

As a prank, this group hired limousines to take black diplomats to a political event that they hadn't been invited to. A liaison to this group took a sloop out to Chesapeake Bay and was found several days later with a bullet in his brain. The leader of this group came up with a plan to photograph officials on a house boat in Baltimore in compromising positions with prostitutes as part of his Operation Gemstone. This group's nickname traces to a Thanksgiving dinner remark by the grandmother of its member David Young. A member of this group was unable to carry out his planned excursion to Arthur Bremer's apartment to (*) plant materials. This group ransacked the office of Lewis J. Fielding, a psychiatrist based in Los Angeles. This group was founded in response to Daniel Ellsberg's publication of the Pentagon Papers, and it is best-known for authorizing five men to break into the DNC headquarters. For 10 points, name this White House Special Investigations Unit headed by G. Gordon Liddy, who got their nickname because their job was to stop classified information leaks.
The Fielding clue specifically says "this group ransacked." Yeah, I know morally and perhaps even legally speaking, CREEP is effectively doing this through the plumbers, but it's not literally so. I could potentially see a prompt for CREEP, but it's pretty sticky because not every clue really fits and again it takes down a wormhole of "things that are legally and morally true but not really what the question wants."

It certainly is clear that CREEP was paying and supporting the plumbers, but it does not seem to match the clues. The CIA/Marines paid the Contras, but I wouldn't prompt on a tossup on the latter if someone said CIA. This seems to be an issue in which "history" and "quizbowl" are going to be inherently at odds--there are many real-life historical connections and intersections that, as long as clues are not specifically negbait or wrong, cannot be accounted for in a tossup, I think.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

Cheynem wrote:This seems to be an issue in which "history" and "quizbowl" are going to be inherently at odds--there are many real-life historical connections and intersections that, as long as clues are not specifically negbait or wrong, cannot be accounted for in a tossup, I think.
Ah, so the reality of history is just too complex for poor little quizbowl to wrap its hivemind around? Guess we better stick to bedtime stories then!
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

While it is hard to argue with such a pithy bon mot, I think my point is fairly clear:

When tossups say "This world leader's country signed the Doofus Act," on a historical level, we might say, well the country of Doofusland's president is Marshall Steinbaum, but he only gets his power because of the oil barons in his country, so really the oil barons or American investments are what "leads" the country. However, on a quizbowl level, this is a rabbit hole that would only lead to chaos; it's pretty clear what such a tossup means, and I think the tossup above is pretty clear about distinguishing between CREEP and the plumbers.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Sam »

ANSWER: _Plumbers_ [prompt on "Unmoved Mover"]
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cody »

In order to be deserving of a prompt, the answer must apply to all the clues. This is a very simple quizbowl principle that anyone, even Marshall Steinbaum, ought to be able to understand.

Did CREEP, as a prank, hire limousines to take black diplomats to a political event that they hadn't been invited to?
Did a liaison to CREEP take a sloop out to [the] Chesapeake Bay, being found several days later with a bullet in his brain?
Did a leader of CREEP came up with a plan to photograph officials on a house boat in Baltimore in compromising positions with prostitutes as part of Operation Gemstone?
Did CREEP's nickname trace to a Thanksgiving dinner remark by the grandmother of its member David Young?
Was a member of CREEP unable to carry out his planned excursion to Arthur Bremer's apartment to plant materials?
Did CREEP ransack the office of Lewis J. Fielding, a psychiatrist based in Los Angeles?
Was CREEP founded in response to Daniel Ellsberg's publication of the Pentagon Papers?
Is CREEP best-known for authorizing five men to break into the DNC headquarters?
Was CREEP a White House Special Investigations Unit headed by G. Gordon Liddy?
Did CREEP get their nickname because their job was to stop classified information leaks?

The answer to these questions is "no". It is certainly not true of the clue you, Marshall, buzzed on, nor the previous clues. If you want to deliberately misunderstand the concept of a prompt -- nay, even the concept of a quizbowl question, go right ahead. But no one is obliged to buy into your idiocy, so kindly leave this thread to meritorious discussion.

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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

Cody wrote:so kindly leave this thread to meritorious discussion.
Stop telling me not to discuss quizbowl on a quizbowl forum.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cody »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Cody wrote:so kindly leave this thread to meritorious discussion.
Stop telling me not to discuss quizbowl on a quizbowl forum.
If only you were discussing quizbowl rather than some alternate universe game that doesn't exist, perhaps this would be a valid point. Maybe you're looking for http://buizqowl.com/forums.

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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by mgysac15 »

Can I see the bonus on the large Chinese characters? I remember being somewhat confused by one of the wordings in that bonus and want to see if it was just my error.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Auroni »

mgysac15 wrote:Can I see the bonus on the large Chinese characters? I remember being somewhat confused by one of the wordings in that bonus and want to see if it was just my error.
Gladly:

The lyrics to the "Fire God Symphony" were scribbled on one of these objects, another of which added "democracy" to the list of Four Modernizations. For 10 points each:
[10] Name these objects common in China, upon which political messages are written in very large handwriting.
ANSWER: big-character posters [or big-character reports; or dazibao; or ta-tzu-pao; prompt on posters]
[10] The masses suffering under the Communist yoke appropriated the usage of big-character posters to air their grievances during the Democracy Wall movement, which took place in this Chinese city, also home to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
ANSWER: Beijing [or Peking]
[10] This document by Mao Zedong, published in 1966 in People's Daily and humorously subtitled "My Big-Character Poster," targeted Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, and other attendees of the 11th Plenary Session who tried to slow the momentum of the Cultural Revolution.
ANSWER: Bombard the Headquarters -- My Big Character Poster [or Pao da si ling bu -- wo di zhang dai zi bao]
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Auroni »

jasonzhou wrote:Would you mind posting the Empress Elizabeth and Valens tossups?
I personally found their early clues suspect.

The lead in for the Elizabeth tossup was that she was the person who's death constituted the 2nd Miracle of the House of Brandenburg. As far as I can tell, the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg is quite famous as a clue for Frederick the Great, and in fact I had only learned about the one in which Elizabeth died. As a result, I was a bit confused by the lead in, and waited to buzz. The fact that it is the 2nd instance does not seem very important, and indeed merely confused me, thought that may be more the fault of my lack of knowledge, but regardless it seemed like a pretty easy (albeit confusing for me) lead in. Anyone who had looked up the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg in the process of studying things about Frederick the Great could've fairly easily first lined that.

For the Valens tossup, meanwhile, the second clue was just the famous aspects about the Battle of Adrianople: the most famous clue for Valens. Although you did not give the name of the battle you gave basically the defining features of that battle, namely that he besieged a wagon circle before being overwhelmed by cavalry returning to the battlefield. I think that clue definitely should not be the second clue, and perhaps should be put before the give away when you presumably mentioned Adrianople by name. Although buzzing on that clue in the second line may have been a bit risky (I'm sure there are other battles involving wagon trains, and in fact I was slightly concerned after buzzing in that I was wrong because it seemed too easy), it definitely seemed like too easy for the second clue.
Whoops, missed these two.

This ruler came to power in a coup organized by French physician/soldier of fortune Jean Armand de Lestocq. The so-called second "Miracle of the House of Brandenburg" was the sudden death of this ruler after a series of untreated dizzy spells. This monarch's grand chancellor Alexei Bestuzhev nearly acquired Finland in the Treaty of Abo. During this monarch's reign, Ivan Shuvalov established the Imperial Academy of Arts and Mikhail Lomonosov founded Moscow State University. This ruler ordered the flogging with birch rods of (*) her erstwhile nemesis Natalia Lopukhina, but did not execute her, because she had taken a vow never to sign a death warrant. Most of the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War' was fought during the reign of this childless empress, who arranged for her idiot nephew Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, later Peter III, to marry his second cousin Sophia Augusta Frederica, later Catherine the Great. For 10 points, name this empress of Russia from 1741 to 1761.
ANSWER: Empress Elizabeth [or Elizaveta Petrovna; or Yelisavet]

This man commissioned his secretary Eutropius to write a history of Rome since the city's founding titled Breviarium ab Urbe condita. He may have died when the farmhouse he took refuge in was set on fire, after a battle in which his infantry managed to reach a circle of wagons before the enemy cavalry hit. This emperor was unable to deal with a massive revolt throughout the Middle East led by the Arab queen Mavia. This man elevated to the position of emperor when his brother, while yelling at the Quadi, (*) burst a blood vessel in his skull and died. This man's troops had already crossed the Cilician gates into Syria, when he learned that his capital was under the control of the usurper Procopius. Water was supplied to the city of Constantinople by an aqueduct named for this emperor, who had teamed up against his eventual killer against the Thervingian leader Athanaric. This emperor was killed by troops led by Fritigern, who commanded a coalition of Goths at a 378 CE battle in modern-day Turkey. For 10 points, name this brother of Valentinian, the loser at the Battle of Adrianople.
ANSWER: Valens

I think that if you know the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg, or the Battle of Adrianople, so well that you can buzz on those two clues, then you deserve fifteen points.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Oh, Auroni, the plumbers tossup was basically spoiled in the IRC, so you might want to move that out.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Yeah, looking at that, I'd say "circle of wagons" is easier than probably everything up to "Thervingi" -- relatively few people study late antiquity with that much depth, and I suspect more people picked up "wagon circle = Adrianople" than read Ammianus Marcellinus or whatever to learn the other things. Oh well. It happens.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by rylltraka »

Agreed. I'd argue (not that I'm a Valens expert) that the only really buzzable clues before the second description of Hadrianople were "Eutropius", "circle of wagons" (where I buzzed), and then maybe the stuff with Athanaric, I guess. Some of the other details seem vaguely familiar. That said, late Roman/Late Antique is one of those areas where writing questions is rough because the paucity of coverage makes it nearly impossible to gather a good picture of what the community knows and doesn't know.

Also, this may be now pointless, but this TU has some grammar issues.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

For what it's worth, I thought those clue drops in the Valens and Elizabeth tossups were too early, but I sat on Valens until the entire question was read because I wasn't 100% on which emperor it was and didn't want to neg in a close game.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Emperor Pupienus »

Auroni wrote: I think that if you know the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg, or the Battle of Adrianople, so well that you can buzz on those two clues, then you deserve fifteen points.
I will admit that I would not have known the Valens clue until Thervingian or maybe even Fritigern. I feel like it is much easier to have a the basic knowledge of what happened at the battle of Adrianople than the other stuff mentioned in the question.
Meanwhile, for Elizabeth, the next clue I knew after Brandenburg was the Imperial Academy, which is what I buzzed on, but then I would not have gotten it until War of Austrian Succession. The house of brandenburg clue really seemed much easier than many of the later clues.

Of course I am happy about getting the points, but I don't think the pyramidality in these clues is very well ordered.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

It's hard to judge pyramidality; I mean, one person's knowledge is another person's uncertainty (which is probably the point of the game).

Your criticism seems a little weird to me. You recognized the Miracle of Brandenburg clue, then the Imperial Academy one, then the War of Austrian Succession. The Imperial Academy clue is only one sentence after Brandenburg, so if you were buzzing there anyway, it's not like there was a significant gap. Then there's only two clues between that one and the War of Austrian Succession, so again, it's not like you have one clue that is very famous, then hordes of obscure, non famous things; it just seems like there's a bit of stuff that you know interspersed with stuff you don't, which is probably how most tossups are.

For the record, I was aware of the second Miracle of the House of Brandenburg as well. I was unaware there was a first.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Emperor Pupienus »

Cheynem wrote:It's hard to judge pyramidality; I mean, one person's knowledge is another person's uncertainty (which is probably the point of the game).

Your criticism seems a little weird to me. You recognized the Miracle of Brandenburg clue, then the Imperial Academy one, then the War of Austrian Succession. The Imperial Academy clue is only one sentence after Brandenburg, so if you were buzzing there anyway, it's not like there was a significant gap. Then there's only two clues between that one and the War of Austrian Succession, so again, it's not like you have one clue that is very famous, then hordes of obscure, non famous things; it just seems like there's a bit of stuff that you know interspersed with stuff you don't, which is probably how most tossups are.

For the record, I was aware of the second Miracle of the House of Brandenburg as well. I was unaware there was a first.
Yeah you're right. It does depend kind of just on what clues you know. I guess I will retract my previous statement and just reiterate that the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg and description of what the Battle of Adrianople too famous to be that early to me, but of course that is also kind of based on my opinion.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

You're probably actually right about the clue ordering there, although it's hard to tell, which is really ultimately the point of writing pyramidal questions--it is hard to tell. To quote Melville Fuller, one man's lyric is another man's vulgarity--one man's easily remembered clue is another's totally obscure, something that's certainly happened to me as I write, edit, and play questions.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by vinteuil »

I think part of why people think the Miracle of Brandenburg clue is too early is because people are likely (ok, full disclosure: this is how I learned that clue) to learn that while learning about Catherine the Great, which is, I think, more likely than people learning about Elizabeth's reign in any detail. I suppose this is a tie-in to the point about Adrianople—people, I think, are going to learn about that before they learn about the rest of Valens's reign, although I could be totally wrong about that.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Frankly, I prefer when tossups with harder answerlines cut to the chase relatively quickly in terms of clues, as long as they're pyramidal, and I think this is generally fine because not a ton of people are necessarily going to know the clues. I think ACF Nationals 2014 did a pretty good job of this.
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