BARGE General Discussion

Old college threads.

BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:00 pm

Hey guys,

Here's the discussion thread. My initial thoughts:

-I'm pretty satisfied with the set. My number one regret is that the last packet or two that came in weren't up to the quality of the rest of the set. There's only so much you can do when packets come in < 24 hours before the tournament, but so it goes - it's on the editor to anticipate that, and I should have done a better job. There were also one or two boneheaded fuckups (one bonus had an answerline clusterfuck that has since been resolved, Penn's packet had a missing tossup I failed to catch early Saturday morning), so apologies for those.

I thought this tournament hit my intended difficulty point pretty closely, though it may have ended up a bit harder than I intended. Really though, I'm not sure I would have WANTED it to be easier, seeing how it played Saturday among the top teams. If we start making these regular-season open events too easy, then there's just going to be yet another backlash that leads to more hard-as-ballsBowl.

I really believe that this tournament was every bit as difficult as a non-summer open tournament needs to be. Ultimately though, I'm less interested in that aspect than I am in what people though about the tossup answer line approach. Specifically, I tried to create a tournament where you could expect to see tossups on things like Robert Venturi or Jaruzelski - just not very often. This approach is actually pretty similar to how a lot of the (well-received) subject tournaments have done things, and I absolutely believe it's the only one we can make open tournaments appealing to a wider audience. I sadly didn't get to see a big range of teams attending the Maryland site, something that's heavily attributable to the fact that many schools were still on break, but which is doubtlessly also influenced by people being accustomed to overly difficult opens. Maryland B was able to post a solid 13.54 ppb and most of the top teams were approaching or exceeding the 20-point mark, so that seems in line with what I was shooting for. But since I already know what I think about difficulty, I'd like to hear how you guys thought it played.

There are doubtless other things I'll have to say, but I'll turn it over to the group now.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:23 pm

Oh, and about science: Although Eric advised me periodically and was a big help, I did a decent amount of the science work on this set myself. Ultimately I'm just not very useful on mathy physics and even mathier math, and don't think I'll be attempting to handle those things again. Honestly I just had to let some of those questions stand, and there were a few problematic ones. The bio, almost all of the chem, and some physics/the non-mathish Other Science I was able to give the full treatment.

Most interestingly, I really came away with a new appreciation for how frustrating it must be at times for science people to play quizbowl. In the course of editing the science, I for the first time in my editing career consulted the packet archives to get an idea of clue placement. What I found, if I may assume the tone of ominous news story voiceover narrator, was horrifying.

There are a lot of questions - and I mean final-product questions, at tournaments that were well-received and praised - that are just. . . wrong! Usually it takes the form of a misunderstanding of how what a term essentially means - I saw a lot of submissions that were just presenting the answer in a way it doesn't really exist. I can't imagine how frustrating this would be to hear were I a science player. At times this can reach the point where it would basically be like hearing a music tossup on "soprano" that begins by describing various soprano roles and then slips into clues like "another one of these individuals killed Big Pussy Bonpensiero for talking to the Feds." Except you'd be even less likely to understand what had just happened, because when that happens in science questions the people who know things are the only ones who will find it confusing. Seriously, I can't stress this enough - writing this kind of stuff is the worst kind of inverted pyramid, because knowing fewer things is such an advantage over the people who are being thoroughly confused by the questions.

Also, people should stop using orgo clues that apply to 2+ things, as this apparently happens quite regularly. Unlike the above point, this is not a problem that actually requires you to learn about shit to figure out if you're screwing it up (which is why this set may well have ended up with those kinds of questions, that I just couldn't detect). If you're reading about a reaction in a source, and it says "uses an aryl halide combined with a ketone (or aldehyde) to yield a carboxylic acid," then it shouldn't be hard to figure out that you can't just write a tossup on one of them and use a clue like "the Bumblefuckinger Reaction uses these with halides to yield carboxylic acids." I figured this out approximately three minutes into editing my first orgo submission, and while I'm sure there are many other pitfalls when trying to write really good orgo that I failed to even notice, there's just no excuse for not being able to catch this stuff. You don't even have to know things about science; I still don't really know what a ketone is, but I know how quizbowl works, and you can't have clues that refer to multiple answers.

Swinging back around to my own hilarious science shortcomings, I'd also like to defend a few tossup choices. I heard some people joking that tossups on things like "eruptions" and "olfaction" and "rashes" were the (perhaps accurately anticipated) Chris Ray fake science. While I'm sure this tournament was filled with underperforming physics and math/CS, I will really defend those questions. The clues were very real, and required knowing things. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that my "eruptions" tossups was way more geared around rewarding real knowledge than most of the tossups on "lithosphere" or "Moho" that will often even misunderstand what those things mean. I for one look forward to discovering the assuredly many physics/math questions in this tournament where I greatly misunderstood what something means, so hopefully the authors of those kinds of tossups will too.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Cody » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:27 pm

I greatly enjoyed this tournament, but it had some problems. As you mention, obviously the packet being late didn't help, but that Penn packet was really not very good.

I don't remember anything specific, but I definitely got the impression that [the science] bonuses tended to be all over the place in terms of difficulty. Not surprisingly, I thought the biology in this tournament was your best work and particularly enjoyed it. I somehow don't really remember too much else of the tournament, so I guess other people will have to comment on things like physics.

As an addendum, it's actually quite interesting that you should mention how science questions can misunderstand basic things and how people use clues that apply to two things when you yourself did those exact same things. Despite what it sounds like, that criticism isn't at all intended to be harsh; I think it just goes to show how easy it is to make those mistakes even when you are [rather acutely] aware of them. (For reference, I am respectively referring to the tossup on volcanic eruptions that inexplicably included a clue about limnic eruptions and the tossup on neutron stars that included a clue about the Urca process)

Edit: Separating some comments so they don't look like they are referring to the wrong thing.
Last edited by Cody on Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby The Superfluous Man » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:41 pm

The Penn packet was largely written by myself; I apologize for questions that fell below the quality of the rest of the set (e.g. that Jews question was originally an attempt at social history with the answer line of "Spanish Jews". Alas, Pedro the Cruel packing his court with Jews is evidently more well-known than I thought). As the day went on, I realized that many of the questions I had submitted were repeats, and Chris deserves credit for fixing the packet on such a tight schedule. Due to my late arrival, I didn't actually hear that packet, so I'd be interested to hear any other comments on it.

I enjoyed this tournament. I think Chris accomplished what he set out to do: bridge the gap between regular and masters tournaments.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:09 pm

As an addendum, it's actually quite interesting that you should mention how science questions can misunderstand basic things and how people use clues that apply to two things when you yourself did those exact same things. Despite what it sounds like, that criticism isn't at all intended to be harsh; I think it just goes to show how easy it is to make those mistakes even when you are [rather acutely] aware of them. (For reference, I am respectively referring to the tossup on volcanic eruptions that inexplicably included a clue about limnic eruptions and the tossup on neutron stars that included a clue about the Urca process)


Yeah, I actually noted above that I considered it pretty likely I did this myself in areas I'm less familiar with, and indeed I simply didn't investigate the Urca clue (a submission) as carefully as I should have. My point was more for when you're WRITING a tossup - if you go out and choose the clue, write it into the questions, etc., I think it's a lot harder to overlook something like that. Or, at least, it ought to be.

I've highlighted the pertinent part of the eruptions questions:

In the 1970s, analysis of unique SOFAR spikes suggested a large number of previously undetected instances of this kind of phenomenon. Products of these events can be analyzed by using TAS diagrams or examining hydration rinds, and marine instances are associated with hyaloclastite. Materials often become tuffaceous as a result of these phenomena, the subject of the Dense (*) Rock Equivalent metric. Mofettes result from periodic degassing following these phenomena, while maar formation characterizes phreatic ones that interact with the water table. Mass asphyxiation results from a distinct event known as their “limnic” type, and they can trigger destructive lahars as a result of tephra-rich pyroclastic flow. Pumice, basalt, and obsidian from from the major material associated with these events; that material is often in the form of 'A'a or Pahoehoe. For 10 points, identify these geological events in which bodies like Mount St. Helens eject molten rock through the Earth's surface.
ANSWER: Volcanic Eruptions [accept reasonable equivalents including anything mentioning Volcanoes, etc.]


I do actually know that these are entirely different processes, hence the phrasing of "a distinct event known as their 'limnic' type;" what the clue was trying to communicate is more that the term is also used to refer to this distinct thing, but it obviously wasn't as clear about expressing that as it should have been. I'm not sure why I was reluctant to use the clearer phrasing "this term is also used to refer to. . ." and minimize confusion - perhaps I fell into the trap of being overly paranoid about "fraud," a dynamic I think is responsible for a lot of Bad Questions from Good Writers.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:47 pm

Der Rosenbergkavalier wrote:The Penn packet was largely written by myself; I apologize for questions that fell below the quality of the rest of the set (e.g. that Jews question was originally an attempt at social history with the answer line of "Spanish Jews". Alas, Pedro the Cruel packing his court with Jews is evidently more well-known than I thought).


That's not THAT well-known; I think the issue is more that at this point, whenever you hear that a quizbowl question is asking for some persecuted minority, the first answer you should consider is "Jews."

I thought the set was generally enjoyable. There were sporadic clunkers--that _Aztec Human Sacrifice_ tossup being not so hot--and I didn't really get a coherent impression of the philosophy of the tournament. Every packet seemed to have its own idea of what the set was supposed to be; the Minnesota packet seemed to think this was ACF Nationals, whereas the Harvard packet was closer to the stated goal of the set. However, these problems seemed to result from the editor not having enough time to do everything on his own. Although this did result in some sloppiness, most tossups were well-written and enjoyable, and besides that calculus bonus in the editor's packet, I actually thought (the humanities) bonuses were pretty even. Most packets had a good range of difficulty in the answerlines, so that you couldn't rule anything out for being "too easy" or "too hard," which should be the ideal. Overall, I thought it was pretty good.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:18 pm

Cernel Joson wrote:I thought the set was generally enjoyable. There were sporadic clunkers--that _Aztec Human Sacrifice_ tossup being not so hot--and I didn't really get a coherent impression of the philosophy of the tournament. Every packet seemed to have its own idea of what the set was supposed to be; the Minnesota packet seemed to think this was ACF Nationals, whereas the Harvard packet was closer to the stated goal of the set. However, these problems seemed to result from the editor not having enough time to do everything on his own. Although this did result in some sloppiness, most tossups were well-written and enjoyable, and besides that calculus bonus in the editor's packet, I actually thought (the humanities) bonuses were pretty even. Most packets had a good range of difficulty in the answerlines, so that you couldn't rule anything out for being "too easy" or "too hard," which should be the ideal. Overall, I thought it was pretty good.


Yeah, whether or not I executed this concept perfectly (the Minnesota packet certainly felt harder to me as well, even if the round report doesn't indicate a huge disparity), my goal was to demonstrate that it was viable. I'm not sure I agree that Minnesota's packet approximated ACF Nationals, certainly not in that tournament's 2011 incarnation, but I think it raises an interesting question. If you took that level of difficulty (say, the hardest 1-3 packets of this tournament), how would people say that should relate to what Nationals should look like? My personal view is that Nats should be a measurable tick harder, but not much more than that - mainly, I think this tournament's middle parts and some hard parts would have been inadequate for doing the job Nats need to do. Based on seeing it in action, do you think that answerline philosophy is tenable/desirable for Nationals? Editing the tournament didn't at all suggest to me otherwise, though I have some further thoughts on how I'd do things differently in the future that I might share later.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby pray for elves » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:38 pm

I came to this tournament under the impression that it was going to be regular difficulty or thereabouts. It was definitely harder than that; I'd probably put it considerably closer to (or roughly equal to, in years not edited by Jerry) Nats than to Regionals. My chief complaint about the content would be that the label of an "easy open tournament" with "regular+" difficulty was not an accurate description.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:53 pm

DumbJaques wrote:
Cernel Joson wrote:I thought the set was generally enjoyable. There were sporadic clunkers--that _Aztec Human Sacrifice_ tossup being not so hot--and I didn't really get a coherent impression of the philosophy of the tournament. Every packet seemed to have its own idea of what the set was supposed to be; the Minnesota packet seemed to think this was ACF Nationals, whereas the Harvard packet was closer to the stated goal of the set. However, these problems seemed to result from the editor not having enough time to do everything on his own. Although this did result in some sloppiness, most tossups were well-written and enjoyable, and besides that calculus bonus in the editor's packet, I actually thought (the humanities) bonuses were pretty even. Most packets had a good range of difficulty in the answerlines, so that you couldn't rule anything out for being "too easy" or "too hard," which should be the ideal. Overall, I thought it was pretty good.


Yeah, whether or not I executed this concept perfectly (the Minnesota packet certainly felt harder to me as well, even if the round report doesn't indicate a huge disparity), my goal was to demonstrate that it was viable. I'm not sure I agree that Minnesota's packet approximated ACF Nationals, certainly not in that tournament's 2011 incarnation, but I think it raises an interesting question. If you took that level of difficulty (say, the hardest 1-3 packets of this tournament), how would people say that should relate to what Nationals should look like? My personal view is that Nats should be a measurable tick harder, but not much more than that - mainly, I think this tournament's middle parts and some hard parts would have been inadequate for doing the job Nats need to do. Based on seeing it in action, do you think that answerline philosophy is tenable/desirable for Nationals? Editing the tournament didn't at all suggest to me otherwise, though I have some further thoughts on how I'd do things differently in the future that I might share later.


Yeah, for clarity, I meant a kind of "ideal nationals" rather than what that tournament has been in the past. I'd definitely like to see a tournament more like this one, if a little bit tougher for Nationals.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Auroni » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:41 am

The Bizet version of L'arlesienne is certainly more famous than the Francesco Cilea version unless there's some sort of real knowledge thing that I missed the memo on.

EDIT: never mind, I can't read, carry on
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:53 am

Hilarius Bookbinder wrote:I came to this tournament under the impression that it was going to be regular difficulty or thereabouts. It was definitely harder than that; I'd probably put it considerably closer to (or roughly equal to, in years not edited by Jerry) Nats than to Regionals. My chief complaint about the content would be that the label of an "easy open tournament" with "regular+" difficulty was not an accurate description.


I mean, I'm not sure why you thought that. I was pretty clear that the purpose of this tournament was to bridge the gap between regular events like Thunder or Regionals and what the last few years of MO/IO have looked like. It ended up shading more toward the harder end of that range than I expected, and I do think the ideal such event could probably reel it back a bit, but open tournaments SHOULD be harder than regular difficulty. And nowhere in that announcement does it say that this will be "regular+" (a term I don't particularly care to use since at this point it's lost all meaning) or an "easy open tournament." It says it's going to be a tournament that's accessible even to people who aren't tapped into the latest in quizbowl trends as it has become necessary to be in order to really get anything out of playing events like IO or MO. I'm not sure how saying the difficulty of BARGE will "obviously be tougher" than Penn Bowl or TIT equates to marketing it as "regular season or thereabouts."

I also seriously challenge the claim that this tournament was "roughly equal" to non-2011 Nationals. At our site, Maryland's B team averaged 13.54 ppb. In the past 3 nationals alone (and that's just what I checked) prior to 2011, there were multiple teams in the top bracket that failed to meet that mark. Compare to that identical lineup's performance at MAGNI just a few months ago, and they only had a ~3.5 dropoff in ppb. There's no way that the difference between MAGNI and Nationals 2008/2009/2010 is just 3.5 ppb for Maryland B. This holds true for top bracket teams, as well. An identical UVA squad posted just 1.3 ppb higher at MAGNI than they did at BARGE. Multiple college teams playing their normal lineups at this event put up 20.00+ ppb. Has anyone EVER put up higher than 20.00 ppb at ACF Nationals? Certainly not in the last 8 years.

I really don't think that assessment is close to accurate, and I take such strong issue with it precisely because I don't want this tournament being written off as "the same as Nats/MO/etc." - if that happens, then nobody will see the need to write events like this at all. Did it need to have the difficulty throttled back a bit further? It's entirely possible, and I would love it if the next open tournament tried to do that to test the theory out (looking at you, Peaceful Resolution! Right guys? Right?). But this was markedly different than, say, last year's MO, and every single stat across every level of team bears that out.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Sam » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:18 pm

At this point, I don't see a massive overhaul of Peaceful Resolution to bring it in line with the goal of BARGE, but I think it's definitely a worthwhile goal. From the discussion of ACF Nationals last year the consensus seemed to be not that any individual question was too hard for that tournament, but the aggregate effect was one of overwhelming difficulty. A harder version of BARGE would, I think, avoid this problem.
In general, questions of difficulty always seem to end up very much embedded in the game of quiz bowl and less so in books or classes or any other non-quiz bowl ways of learning, and so it's kind of liberating to have a tournament where whether something was "too hard" or "too easy" is a secondary issue.

This is kind of a pedantic point, but as it's being mirrored next week it probably doesn't hurt to say that the bonus on algebraic structures in the Richard Borty packet is not entirely correct in its description of groups. Groups are indeed closed under a single operation, but also possess an identity element and every element has an inverse. Without those last two conditions, the question describes a more general structure.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby something similarly dumb » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:22 pm

I'm glad to see Maryland B continues to be used as a measuring stick for tournament difficulty. We'll continue to do our best to be the exact middle between good and bad.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Sam » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:23 pm

Visa requirements for Romanian citizens wrote:I'm glad to see Maryland B continues to be used as a measuring stick for tournament difficulty. We'll continue to do our best to be the exact middle between good and bad.

Keep up the good work! But, you know, not too good.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:09 pm

This is kind of a pedantic point, but as it's being mirrored next week it probably doesn't hurt to say that the bonus on algebraic structures in the Richard Borty packet is not entirely correct in its description of groups. Groups are indeed closed under a single operation, but also possess an identity element and every element has an inverse. Without those last two conditions, the question describes a more general structure.


Hey, I don't consider this strictly pedantic at all, as there are upcoming mirrors - I'll make sure it's changed. Thanks!
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:12 pm

I thought it was a decent set overall. The bonuses seemed a bit up and down, but generally ok. I didn't mind the occasional question on something like Jaruzelski, and the science didn't strike me as "fake" in any sense. I thought there were a few questions that dropped some really famous stuff very early, so that was suboptimal; I'd have to look at the set for specifics.

One minor point, on pronouns: please don't call a quantity a "description." This was the case in an otherwise good tossup on pressure, where I went "oh, you're describing Fermi pressure, and 'Fermi' is a descriptor here, so I will say 'Fermi.'" The text of your question should refer to the answer as unambiguously as possible.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:03 pm

Looking at a packet I just opened, Camazotz + Illinois, two tossups jumped out at me as problematic: Howells and Calderon. Both of them are very easy to figure out, in my view. The Howells one is basically "this guy was a 19th century American critic who loved 19th century American literature," which I think is sort of like the bare minimum you might know about Howells other than lists of titles. The Calderon question mentions Tirso de Molina early on, so you're already thinking there's a good chance this is one of the Golden Age playwrights anyway (and then there are Spanish names in power). I don't think either of these questions are really terrible, just very easy to gamble on and win.

Also, speaking of confusing formulations, from the same packet as the aforementioned "pressure" tossup: "For a single line of alternating cations and anions, the potential energy can be calculated using an infinite series. The constants are pulled out, and the series sums to 2 times the natural log of 2, a value given this name, because its value is dependent on structural configuration." The purported answer here is "Madelung constant," which I think is right in one sense, but it's certainly not called that "because its value is dependent on structural configuration." I don't know what that "because" is doing there; it's called that because it's named after Madelung. Yeah, its value depends on structural configuration, but this totally confused me. Please, please don't use the word "because" as some kind of linkage; that word has a meaning and people are going to pay attention to that meaning (I was going to say "Madelung" then took that clause into account and said "form factor." Oops).

edit: more of the same on the Lawrence v. Texas question dropping Romer v. Evans very early on. Romer is one of the most famous gay rights cases of recent times, so it's simple logic after that.

edit 2: the term "salva veritate" is widespread in philosophical literature. I only mention this because it doesn't particularly serve to identify Quine in any real sense (though the question is otherwise good). I don't think it does any harm, but again, watch out for extraneous information that might mislead people.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Habitat_Against_Humanity » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:56 am

Could the St. Catharine tossup be posted? I'm sure the initial clues were correct, but I think I remember hearing the phrase "little flower," which applies to St. Therese of Lisieux. The crazy and probably now-deceased nun who taught me this in first grade might be proud of me for remembering that.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:53 pm

9. The principal biography of one saint with this name was written by Raymond of Capua. Another saint with this name had a vision of the Virgin Mary crushing a snake underfoot as she stood atop a globe, which inspired her to create the Miraculous Medal. The first saint with this name won a series of debates with scholars of Emperor Maxentius, converting them in the process. That figure was then (*) beheaded after an attempt to execute her on a breaking wheel caused the wheel to shatter. In addition to one surnamed Laboure, this name is held by a saint who convinced Pope Gregory XI to move the papacy back to Rome, and along with St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Italy. For 10 points, give this name shared by several saints, including one from Alexandria and one from Siena.
ANSWER: St. Catherine


Don't see it, but let me know if there's a problem.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Habitat_Against_Humanity » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:23 pm

DumbJaques wrote:
9. The principal biography of one saint with this name was written by Raymond of Capua. Another saint with this name had a vision of the Virgin Mary crushing a snake underfoot as she stood atop a globe, which inspired her to create the Miraculous Medal. The first saint with this name won a series of debates with scholars of Emperor Maxentius, converting them in the process. That figure was then (*) beheaded after an attempt to execute her on a breaking wheel caused the wheel to shatter. In addition to one surnamed Laboure, this name is held by a saint who convinced Pope Gregory XI to move the papacy back to Rome, and along with St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Italy. For 10 points, give this name shared by several saints, including one from Alexandria and one from Siena.
ANSWER: St. Catherine


Don't see it, but let me know if there's a problem.



Ahh. So here's the problem: I'm conflating a couple of saints in my head. The statue of the "little flower" St. Theresa in my church back home is both holding flowers and standing on a snake, so I think I misheard the clue about the snake as referencing the saint herself and not the vision she had. Nevermind, carry on.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby List of Fighting Spirit characters » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:36 am

14. The narrator of this work extolls the “via media,” a middle way of living, shortly before overhearing two arguments: One between a group of beggars that Father Clause will presumably arbitrate, the other between a band of gypsies. In one scene from this work, a milkmaid named Maudlin sings Marlowe’s “Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” after which her mother sings Raleigh’s “Nymph’s Reply.” A poet known for translating (*) Montaigne's Essays into English, Charles Cotton, contributed to this work, whose second edition introduced the central figure Auceps, a falconer. Constructed as a dialogue featuring the hunter Venator and the narrator Piscator, who offers advice on snagging roach, dace, and pike. For 10 points, identify this 17th-century tract on fishing written by Isaak Walton.
ANSWER: The Compleat Angler

My teammate Sameer answered this question on the first line off the "via media" clue with the answer Apologia Pro Vita Sua, and it ended up making a difference in the game, although the protest was not eventually borne out in our favor because more of the line was read before he actually buzzed. I'm not saying that the protest should've been accepted, but I would urge more caution when it comes to verifying the uniqueness of generic-sounding lead-ins like this one.

Generally, I would like to compliment Chris on editing what I thought was a very good set, although the difficulty discrepancies between packets made pinning the difficult level a hard task.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:45 am

I enjoyed this tournament--I didn't mind the swings in tossups as much as I kind of did in the bonuses. With a few rare exceptions, it seemed like easy parts were pretty well defined, but there were a lot of bonuses in which the medium part was something that would probably be a hard part at regular tournaments, while there were also bonuses in which the middle part was a straightforward regular middle part. One example of a "too hard" bonus that jumps out at me is one in which the Newburgh Conspiracy is apparently intended to be the middle part.

I also began overdosing on Chris Ray whimsy by the time the tournament ended. I'm certainly guilty of this myself, but it seemed like way too many bonuses prattled on, offering jokingly whimsical commentaries for multiple lines in addition to clues. While I don't mind a few of these, it got a bit tiresome and I think this is kind of frustrating for weak circuit teams.

The only tossup that I truly hated was "covert affairs," in which the specific answerline seemed very confusing to me.

Quick query:

-I was under the impression that just saying "Calderon" for Calderon de la Barca was acceptable. I said this upon buzzing in and then after a bit of a pause said the full name because apparently Calderon was not outlined.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Auroni » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:18 am

I liked this set's difficulty and I think it would do teams a huge favor if ACF Nats difficulty weren't too different from this. Now to get very specific for a minute: The fact that King John is pejoratively called "Softsword" seems to be too incredibly well-known to be the first clue of a tossup on him at this difficulty level.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Unicolored Jay » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:48 am

Cheynem wrote:
-I was under the impression that just saying "Calderon" for Calderon de la Barca was acceptable. I said this upon buzzing in and then after a bit of a pause said the full name because apparently Calderon was not outlined.

Yeah, Calderon isn't underlined for whatever reason.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:25 am

List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:14. The narrator of this work extolls the “via media,” a middle way of living, shortly before overhearing two arguments: One between a group of beggars that Father Clause will presumably arbitrate, the other between a band of gypsies. In one scene from this work, a milkmaid named Maudlin sings Marlowe’s “Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” after which her mother sings Raleigh’s “Nymph’s Reply.” A poet known for translating (*) Montaigne's Essays into English, Charles Cotton, contributed to this work, whose second edition introduced the central figure Auceps, a falconer. Constructed as a dialogue featuring the hunter Venator and the narrator Piscator, who offers advice on snagging roach, dace, and pike. For 10 points, identify this 17th-century tract on fishing written by Isaak Walton.
ANSWER: The Compleat Angler

My teammate Sameer answered this question on the first line off the "via media" clue with the answer Apologia Pro Vita Sua, and it ended up making a difference in the game, although the protest was not eventually borne out in our favor because more of the line was read before he actually buzzed. I'm not saying that the protest should've been accepted, but I would urge more caution when it comes to verifying the uniqueness of generic-sounding lead-ins like this one.



I really don't see where you're coming from here. . . I think you might instead want to consider urging more caution to Sameer when it comes to reflexively buzzing in on potentially generic-sounding lead-ins like that one. I'm hesitant to take a trip inside someone else's head, but "narrator" would be an utterly bizarre term to use in reference to Apologia Pro Vita Sua and it really strikes me as someone buzzing more reflexively ("that's a term I associate with Newman, time to buzz" etc.). I certainly wouldn't grant that protest no matter when in the question someone buzzed, assuming the protest was "that's something Newman says in Apologia."

If that clue really is so "generic" that it's problematic as a leadin in the vein of, say, "this man defeated William Jennings Bryan in one election," then a buzz there is just reckless. But I don't at all agree with your characterization of the clue, though - it seems like you're complaining that it was both too generic to help someone but also so specifically identifiable with this one other thing so as to be neg-bait. Whether or not those two things could ever be true of the same clue, I really don't think either one is here. Look, maybe someone's only exposure to the term "Via Media" was as a phrase on Newman's Wikipedia page, but that term was being used way before him (and way before Walton, for that matter). It's not like there's anything approaching a one-to-one correspondence between that dude and that term, and certainly not given the way the question presents it. Conversely, the term "Via Media" isn't so ubiquitous that it's akin to saying "this work claims that hard work is good" or anything close to that. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the thrust of your argument, though.

I enjoyed this tournament--I didn't mind the swings in tossups as much as I kind of did in the bonuses. With a few rare exceptions, it seemed like easy parts were pretty well defined, but there were a lot of bonuses in which the medium part was something that would probably be a hard part at regular tournaments, while there were also bonuses in which the middle part was a straightforward regular middle part. One example of a "too hard" bonus that jumps out at me is one in which the Newburgh Conspiracy is apparently intended to be the middle part.


I think that was in the last-minute Penn packet, but yeah, in general that's a big self-criticism I'd have of this tournament as well. I do think that there's some wiggle room for middle parts to vary in difficulty, but to use Ted's term from a certain thread about common links, it has to be more "organic." What I mean here is that when you're writing a tournament at this level - where some topics will be things more remote from the regular canon than others - I think it does more harm than good to bend over backward to to place every middle part in the same canonical reference frame. A middle part for a harder topic might be "harder" than a middle part for a more well-traversed bonus subject in the sense that it's less likely to have been a middle part before, but that doesn't always mean it's automatically easier. Unfortunately in some cases I just left it a bit too loose with that balance to begin with, though based on what I saw among the top teams at the Maryland site the middle part discrepancies weren't playing a huge factor in game outcomes.

I also began overdosing on Chris Ray whimsy by the time the tournament ended. I'm certainly guilty of this myself, but it seemed like way too many bonuses prattled on, offering jokingly whimsical commentaries for multiple lines in addition to clues. While I don't mind a few of these, it got a bit tiresome and I think this is kind of frustrating for weak circuit teams.


Yeah, I need to stop writing 3-line bonus parts so god damned much. I'm not sure why I can't stop doing it, and I don't even think much of it was trademarked whimsy, as plenty of droning bonuses were just straightforward and/or in categories I can't even make jokes in. This is just a stylistic thing I need to buckle down and change going forward, and I'd encourage newer writers to be vigilant about my presumably insidious influence on their own stuff as well.

The only tossup that I truly hated was "covert affairs," in which the specific answerline seemed very confusing to me.


I knew this was going to be an answerline many people were ignorant of, but in fact the tossup was on a very rigidly-defined thing that many people just don't actually know is rigidly-defined. Case in point here, as the tossup was not on inexplicably not-unwatchable USA series "Covert Affairs" but rather on "Covert Action," a term that within intelligence and even broader government/American history has a specific definition most people just don't ascribe to it. Here's the question:

1. This kind of action was the namesake of a “Quarterly” publication put out by commie turncoat Philip Agee that sparked the passage of the IIPA in 1982. The Hughes-Ryan Amendment mandates an official “Finding” report be submitted to a group dubbed the “Gang of Eight,” which includes the ranking members of HPSCI and SSCI, whenever funds are appropriated for this kind of action. The Council of 40 lost oversight of these when the (*) Church Committee's findings led Ford to issue an Executive Order that also prohibited their scope from including assassinations. The Directorate of Operations was supplanted by the National Clandestine Service as the organization responsible for, for 10 points, what kind of action, reserved by U.S. law for the Central Intelligence Agency, which occur without the overt knowledge of the government or public?
ANSWER: Covert Action/Operation [this is a specific term, but accept synonyms like “Secret,” or “Clandestine” before mentioned; accept “Special Action;” your are encouraged to prompt generously on things like “espionage,” “CIA operations,” “spying,” “intelligence operations,” etc. but the answer must establish that these things are secret]


"Covert" actually has a specific and quite important definition in terms of the intelligence community, and all these clues refer very exclusively to this one thing. There's only one practice that's subject to the (unique) process described in the second sentence, and all those other clues are just as specific. Like I said, I knew this answerline was going to be a bit tough to pull because it's certainly never been a tossup before and in general this is a term most people assume is non-specific, so I included an extensive and generous alternate answer/prompt outline. I guess I'd like to hear the specific objections before deciding if I think I pulled it off or not.


Yeah, Calderon isn't underlined for whatever reason.


Yeah, that's a mistake, Calderon is his last name and in my opinion there's no reason not to take either one/both as sources refer to him casually using all three names. Just something I overlooked changing, sorry about that.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:59 am

I think the basic idea of "covert action" is okay, the Church Committee is super important. I can certainly be convinced that the key point that all of the actions are "secret" or "clandestine" is a worthy tossup idea, but at least in the few rooms I saw/heard about, people just buzzed with things like "CIA assassinations/CIA surveillance" at a certain point and couldn't quite figure out what to say after being prompted. Again, if the concept of "covert" is key, then sure, but it was hard for me to realize that what was the tossup was specifically looking for.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Magister Ludi » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:48 pm

Cheynem wrote: I also began overdosing on Chris Ray whimsy by the time the tournament ended. I'm certainly guilty of this myself, but it seemed like way too many bonuses prattled on, offering jokingly whimsical commentaries for multiple lines in addition to clues. While I don't mind a few of these, it got a bit tiresome and I think this is kind of frustrating for weak circuit teams.


I agree with this sentiment that was also voiced by Matt Jackson. While I enjoy some humor in questions, I felt it lengthened the set unnecessarily and sometimes confused the grammar of the sentence. There was at least one bonus when we were playing Jerry when the pronoun denoting the answer was lost in the elaborate set-up for the joke and he missed the bonus part. Also, I think the best way to shorten tournaments to make them more palatable for younger teams is shortening 3-4 line bonus prompts.

Overall, I think Chris did an admirable job editing the set and I found this set significantly more accessible than MO, but I think this set highlighted two things that need to happen for editors to pull off the figurative "quest for the holy grail" of editing an accessible Regionals-plus open tournament. First of all, I think the editors need to write many editors packets at the desired difficulty. Secondly, experienced teams submitting packets need to respect the stated goals of the tournament and write difficulty appropriate packets (especially bonuses). Theres only so much Chris can do in limited editing time, which leads an editor to keep in a few too many hard questions because they're well-written.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Unicolored Jay » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:55 pm

I noticed that Francois Couperin was mentioned 3 times in 3 different packets in this set (bonuses in the Ohio State and Richard Borty packets, and in a tossup on Lully in the Chicago A packet). While I didn't see any blatant repeats of works and such, is this a problem?
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Cody » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:01 pm

Alliance in the Alps wrote:I noticed that Francois Couperin was mentioned 3 times in 3 different packets in this set (bonuses in the Ohio State and Richard Borty packets, and in a tossup on Lully in the Chicago A packet). While I didn't see any blatant repeats of works and such, is this a problem?
As long as there are no repeated clues (that would allow a team to get the bonus part), this is not a problem.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:38 pm

Yeah, the tiebreakers also occasionally had overlaps with specific subjects (there was a tiebreaker on von Mises when there was already a tossup on the Vienna School), but again, I can't remember if any clues were used.

One thing I would have liked to have seen was more packets. Obviously I can't harangue Chris into writing more editor's packets, but 13 packets for a packet submission tournament was kind of odd, and ended up with my site being unable to do a full round robin and only giving each team 8 guaranteed matches, which is acceptable but not overly satisfying. I agree with Ted that a few more editor's packets would have been nice and also helped to configure the difficulty more. In terms of submitting stuff to the tournament, my teammates (who wrote the majority of our packet) had a hard time figuring out what the difficulty was for this packet and I think submitted things on a lot of different difficulty levels.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Matthew Jackson » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:48 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:
Cheynem wrote: I also began overdosing on Chris Ray whimsy by the time the tournament ended. I'm certainly guilty of this myself, but it seemed like way too many bonuses prattled on, offering jokingly whimsical commentaries for multiple lines in addition to clues. While I don't mind a few of these, it got a bit tiresome and I think this is kind of frustrating for weak circuit teams.


I agree with this sentiment that was also voiced by Matt Jackson.


To clarify since my name's been dropped, I said that I appreciated the relatively small amount of whimsy as compared to past Chris Ray tournaments, and noted that the problem with bonus length occurred anyway. So, not exactly the same sentiment.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby gyre and gimble » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:51 pm

To clarify my post in the other thread, I was referring to the Paris Opera and Psyche tossups, which started with clues about Chagall's ceiling and ants helping somebody clean up grain. Another one I'll bring up is naming the protagonist of the Wild Ass's Skin as the second clue in the Balzac tossup.

I was thrilled to hear a tossup on Tyrfing for the first time, so thanks to whoever wrote that.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Auroni » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:55 pm

I was thrilled to hear a tossup on Tyrfing for the first time, so thanks to whoever wrote that.


That was mine -- I was surprised that it was kept since it was a quick question I eked out when hurrying to finish the packet and I definitely thought it was too hard after writing it.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:11 pm

Cheynem wrote:Yeah, the tiebreakers also occasionally had overlaps with specific subjects (there was a tiebreaker on von Mises when there was already a tossup on the Vienna School), but again, I can't remember if any clues were used.



Yeah, the tiebreakers had absolutely no guarantee of non-repeating - it wasn't like clues were the same, but (for instance) one packet had a tiebreaker on "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" even though another packet had a tossup on Whitman that didn't mention that poem at all. This is sort of a calculated choice. When setting up tiebreaker tossups, I see there as being three options:
-Use the three best tossups available to ensure quality and fairness (even though this probably involves some topic overlap, though not repeating information etc.). This is what I generally do.
-Use three tossups that don't overlap, almost certainly at the expense of quality because you're choosing a worse tossup over a better one due to subject material.
-Use just one tossup, which means that you can generally find a question that's both non-overlapping and reasonably good. This, in my opinion, is less desirable because it reduces the game to sudden death and tests only one random extra category. Also there's a huge practical issue, because using one question means it has to be very easy (or you're almost assured to end up bogged down with finding extra questions, etc.), and that in and of itself is going to place similar constraints on quality and overlap.

Of course, this whole business only applies to packet sub tournaments - when you're house-writing a set, its incumbent on you to plan out tiebreakers and there's no reason you should have to contend with the overlap issue.

Cheynem wrote: One thing I would have liked to have seen was more packets. Obviously I can't harangue Chris into writing more editor's packets, but 13 packets for a packet submission tournament was kind of odd, and ended up with my site being unable to do a full round robin and only giving each team 8 guaranteed matches, which is acceptable but not overly satisfying. I agree with Ted that a few more editor's packets would have been nice and also helped to configure the difficulty more. In terms of submitting stuff to the tournament, my teammates (who wrote the majority of our packet) had a hard time figuring out what the difficulty was for this packet and I think submitted things on a lot of different difficulty levels.


I actually had 3 editors packets that ended up getting cannibalized as a result of submissions. There are a few packets that were really quite minimally by the "authors" and were basically an editors round. I mean, I'm not going to bitch about people sending in questions late or in poor shape or whatever, because, well, welcome to quizbowl. It's a reality of being an editor and surely my next tournament will feature even more prep writing.

For whatever reason though, I just didn't get as much in submissions as I was (reasonably, based on a decent amount of past experience) expecting. Part of this was just quantity - this tournament had some late-arranged mirrors that ended up not being packet sub, so I really only drew on two sites (plus a half packet from Yale, and Auroni's generous freelance packet). That's just a simple planning/diligence issue, and while I've got to the point of minimum competency with that stuff it's certainly never going to be my strength. I'll probably be bringing on someone to help manage all the non-editing aspects of my next tournament - a sort of "executive assistant" or whatever. Since most tournaments involve more than one editor, I'd highly suggest other writers consider assigning someone who isn't swamped with the main editing work to serve in this capacity, as minor things like that both eat into editing time and end up hampered themselves by diverted attention.

There was, however, also a bit of a quality issue with some packets, and I think it's becoming a bit of an increasing issue in quizbowl. Granted, I have higher expectations for teams with multiple good writers, but honestly I spent the same amount of time on packets with some of the most collective experience as I did on many of the packets with the least. One of the better packets I got was actually from Northwestern, who had nowhere approaching the writing experience of most of the teams attending this set. Minnesota B, despite having perhaps even less experience, was also a pleasant surprise.

Look, I know it's stressful writing submissions. I've certainly sent in my fair share of packets where I've just left in some less-experienced teammates' contributions that were clearly not in ideal shape. But I've never phoned it in on questions I wrote personally, and I just know some of that was going on from some of the best writers in this field. This led to situations like an inexperienced writer having to change a question written by a very accomplished editor because it was so horrifically unacceptable that he couldn't even stomach submitting it. When you do things like that, tournament quality is going to suffer, and this is a couple of events now where I'm seeing it more from those who should and do know better rather than from the less-experienced squads, who by and large seem to be putting forth a (tremendously appreciated) good effort. I'd be interested to hear some other perspectives on that, though, because it's the kind of thing where we're all inherently limited by our own experiences.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:28 pm

Blanford's Fringe-fingered Lizard wrote:
I was thrilled to hear a tossup on Tyrfing for the first time, so thanks to whoever wrote that.


That was mine -- I was surprised that it was kept since it was a quick question I eked out when hurrying to finish the packet and I definitely thought it was too hard after writing it.



Yeah, I think it probably was, but this was one of the last things I put into the set and I was kind of desperate. I think both Auroni and I would probably have replaced it/modified it into a Tyr question or something if we'd had more time. I'm also not sure why that tossup would end up being "thrilling" or anything. Doing some quick work on it, it struck me as a challenging subject for a tossup because you basically have to convey it's a sword and there are Norse-sounding things going on, which really narrows down the answer choice. Also everything about it is more or a less a variant of "this sword is cursed" even if you somehow got around that first issue.

gyre and gimble wrote:To clarify my post in the other thread, I was referring to the Paris Opera and Psyche tossups, which started with clues about Chagall's ceiling and ants helping somebody clean up grain. Another one I'll bring up is naming the protagonist of the Wild Ass's Skin as the second clue in the Balzac tossup.


(Note: I'm assuming this is referring to the comment about buzzerraces). Yeah, I really didn't know much at all about Psyche and I've never read The Golden Ass. It seemed like a less-central episode in that story to me, and that's basically the only major source for the Psyche myth as far as I can tell. My bad. As an interesting aside, I think you could probably argue that, due to this fact, any tossup on "Psyche" is at minimum just as much of a lit question as it is myth.

I actually considered that tossup on the Paris Opera House to be less-obvious than previous iterations, but I still found it pretty underwhelming and obviously it played at least as poorly as I expected it to. I think we need to give that answer a bit of a rest - if you looked at regular and beyond sets for the past couple years, that answer line has probably gotten more tossup play than things related to Rodin. We've beat it into the ground by now, to the point where the dude who made those random gold figurines on the roof is becoming popularly known. Hopefully this post will help the Paris Opera House undergo some quizbowl heat-death for a while.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Magister Ludi » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:06 pm

DumbJaques wrote: I actually considered that tossup on the Paris Opera House to be less-obvious than previous iterations, but I still found it pretty underwhelming and obviously it played at least as poorly as I expected it to. I think we need to give that answer a bit of a rest - if you looked at regular and beyond sets for the past couple years, that answer line has probably gotten more tossup play than things related to Rodin. We've beat it into the ground by now, to the point where the dude who made those random gold figurines on the roof is becoming popularly known. Hopefully this post will help the Paris Opera House undergo some quizbowl heat-death for a while.


I think this comment highlights an important larger trend that should be addressed. One major problem that affects many tournaments today is the fact that people just write on what they've heard come up as tossup answers in previous tournaments, which has a pernicious effect of rewarding canon awareness rather than real knowledge. When you think about it there are numerous famous cultural sites that have lots of important artistic works located/associated with them, but writers tend to gravitate towards asking the same answer lines that have appeared in previous tournaments. Just off the top of my head, sites like Lincoln center, the Pompidou Center, and the Louvre seem to have plenty of usable art clues. It's bizarre to me how writers will fixate on some random site as an answer line, and forget the thing that made the answer line initially successful was the writer's originality.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Excelsior (smack) » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:55 pm

There are a few minor things about this tournament that were bothersome.
  • For example, the upsilon meson bonus part - a real physicist is welcome to correct me, but to me this seems like a more or less random selection from the particle zoo. In general, writing about things from the particle zoo strikes me as a bad idea. Consultation of Wikipedia's summary table of mesons will reveal that there are many more mesons than anybody gives a rat's ass about. I think this might have been better as a part on, say, "bottomonium" or something.
  • I don't like the wording of the limnic clue in the volcanoes tossup (which I otherwise very much liked, by the way). Saying "...a distinct event known as their 'limnic' type" implies to me that the answerline is some reified class of geological events which both "volcanic" and "limnic" are members of. This isn't true, as far as I know - "eruption" by itself does not seem to be a technical term, and carries no real meaning besides the colloquial "stuff rising to the surface and exploding". I think it might be better reworded as "Mass asphyxiation results from a distinct event that shares the same name and is described by the term 'limnic'" or something similar that does not imply that volcanic and limnic are both types of something.
  • I don't really like the idea of asking about "delta-epsilon" proofs, because "delta" and "epsilon" are just the names of the variables that happen to be used in most descriptions of that proof strategy. If that choice of variable names is literally 100% universal, I guess it's fine, but...
  • Phobos might be literally the least interesting object in the solar system.
  • All wind instruments require an embouchure of some sort, not just brass ones.
  • That "Peter Principle" clue in the labor tossup was downright strange.
  • Some years ago, I recall Jerry jokingly suggesting that people write questions on science textbooks (I believe in response to a lousy NAQT question on Principles of Geology or something). I am very much less than pleased to see that this tournament has put this into practice with the bonus part on "Design Patterns".

I was initially not a fan of the science as a whole, but upon reflection, I think this was just because I didn't know enough things. Aside from what I mentioned, this tournament's science was just fine.

Those aside, I particularly enjoyed the tossups on transatlantic cable, plague, skin, exception handling and rashes.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:52 pm

[quote-"Excelsior (smack)"]I don't like the wording of the limnic clue in the volcanoes tossup (which I otherwise very much liked, by the way). Saying "...a distinct event known as their 'limnic' type" implies to me that the answerline is some reified class of geological events which both "volcanic" and "limnic" are members of. This isn't true, as far as I know - "eruption" by itself does not seem to be a technical term, and carries no real meaning besides the colloquial "stuff rising to the surface and exploding". I think it might be better reworded as "Mass asphyxiation results from a distinct event that shares the same name and is described by the term 'limnic'" or something similar that does not imply that volcanic and limnic are both types of something.[/quote]

Honestly, that sounds a bit like word salad to me. Does the way the tossup's phrased really prevent anyone from buzzing in with the answer? The term universally used is "limnic eruption," that clue described limnic eruptions and then said "distinct event known as their 'limnic' type." I'd rather people incorrectly assume I'm ignorant about geology than be confused trying to parse through the words of a question. Also it kind of seems like you're defeating your own argument there. . . if "eruption" isn't a reified class of geological event and carries no meaning beyond the colloquial definition, then it's really just a descriptive word for various types events, right? So really, that would make its connection to "volcanic eruptions" and "limnic eruptions" equal, and there'd be even less of a problem including both in the tossup. I guess this could be an issue of different sets of knowledge (I'd definitely find your wording way more confusing, and you evidently felt the same way about mine).

Phobos might be literally the least interesting object in the solar system.


Not to those weird Germans who keep jacking the high-res camera on the MRO, apparently! Seriously though, I probably wouldn't have chosen to toss Phobos up myself (as I had to work pretty hard to find decent opening clues to add to that question), but unless you're making a wider critique of how people choose science tossup answers I'm not seeing the point of this comment.

Some years ago, I recall Jerry jokingly suggesting that people write questions on science textbooks (I believe in response to a lousy NAQT question on Principles of Geology or something). I am very much less than pleased to see that this tournament has put this into practice with the bonus part on "Design Patterns".


This was also submitted, but I believe I included it as the "other academic" bonus in that packet. I guess my response would be. . . what's the problem? It seemed enough like a landmark work in the field, but really I have no defense for that specific answer because I don't know much at all about CS. What I'm questioning, rather, is what seems like the implication that any answer like that is just not acceptable. I guess you're saying that we should never test knowledge that kind of stuff because it doesn't give "real science players" enough of an advantage? Well, I think that's silly even as a hard and fast rule for the science distribution, but you're assuredly at the mercy of the Friends of Humanities when you're outside the 4/4.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:57 pm

I greatly enjoyed the tossup on the transatlantic cable and wish to know how it was classified. I assume it was history or other, but perhaps it was other science, in which I think some modicum of science history is perfectly acceptable and should come up more often.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:06 pm

As the author of the Paris Opera house question, I can assure you that the reason I wrote it was not because I heard it at so many tournaments. I guess I've been away long enough that it's come up a bunch of times and is now much better known than I thought it would be? I'll cop to that.

Wasn't going to mention the Tyrfing tossup, but since it's been mentioned by others: I think this is a terrible question, I really do, or rather, a terrible answer line. Look, if you actually read the Eddas, especially the Poetic Edda, you'll find that nearly every damn thing has a name. That's just how the skalds rolled back in the day. Not every one of those things really needs to be asked about, or is really of such overwhelming importance. As far as I can tell from looking through my copy of the Poetic Edda which I keep right beside me for just such occasions, Tyrfing the object isn't even mentioned by name (a guy named Tyrfing is mentioned in passing in the Song of Hyndla). I googled the online version of the Prose Edda and it's not in there either, so... I really have no idea where this came from or why anyone thought this would be a good idea for a tossup.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:06 pm

Oh yeah, that Phobos question. Come on.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Inkana7 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:25 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Wasn't going to mention the Tyrfing tossup, but since it's been mentioned by others: I think this is a terrible question, I really do, or rather, a terrible answer line. Look, if you actually read the Eddas, especially the Poetic Edda, you'll find that nearly every damn thing has a name. That's just how the skalds rolled back in the day. Not every one of those things really needs to be asked about, or is really of such overwhelming importance. As far as I can tell from looking through my copy of the Poetic Edda which I keep right beside me for just such occasions, Tyrfing the object isn't even mentioned by name (a guy named Tyrfing is mentioned in passing in the Song of Hyndla). I googled the online version of the Prose Edda and it's not in there either, so... I really have no idea where this came from or why anyone thought this would be a good idea for a tossup.


Yeah I echo what Jerry says here. I know it's hard to find original Norse things to toss up since we have so few sources (unless we start digging into the Marvel Comics Thor canon, which we totally should in order to beef up those common-link myth tossups on "Frogs"), but just about everything has a name in Norse mythology, and we should not toss up most of these things just because they do. There are still ways to write interesting Norse tossups without resorting to this, such as THUNDER II's tossup on the Funeral of Baldur or, I think it was last years ACF Nats? that tossed up the Aesir-Vanir War.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Unicolored Jay » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:31 pm

Excelsior (smack) wrote:[list][*]For example, the upsilon meson bonus part - a real physicist is welcome to correct me, but to me this seems like a more or less random selection from the particle zoo. In general, writing about things from the particle zoo strikes me as a bad idea. Consultation of Wikipedia's summary table of mesons will reveal that there are many more mesons than anybody gives a rat's ass about. I think this might have been better as a part on, say, "bottomonium" or something.

I wrote this mostly due to my lack of any deep physics knowledge and needed something to fill the packet in time. (Nobody on my team knows physics.) I'm more surprised that the bonus made it into the set at all than that it's a dumb thing to write about.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:31 pm

Inkana7 wrote: I think it was last years ACF Nats? that tossed up the Aesir-Vanir War.


It was.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Ukonvasara » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:40 pm

Excelsior (smack) wrote:Phobos might be literally the least interesting object in the solar system.

I don't really agree with you there (it's not even the least interesting moon of Mars, for one), though I obviously know what you're getting at and would like to mention that I originally submitted that question as a tossup on "moons of Mars" or "Phobos and Deimos" to prevent the sort of hair-pulling agh-which -one-is-this-why-would-you-do-that reaction that tossups on one of them tend to elicit. I was somewhat disappointed that it was changed this way, especially when it provoked almost exactly that response in the room I read it in.

Excelsior (smack) wrote:Some years ago, I recall Jerry jokingly suggesting that people write questions on science textbooks (I believe in response to a lousy NAQT question on Principles of Geology or something). I am very much less than pleased to see that this tournament has put this into practice with the bonus part on "Design Patterns".

Indeed, questions on textbooks can generally be classified as "bad ideas", though this question, which is as much on the term "design patterns" as it is on the book itself in that it gives you all the clues you'd be getting for the former and tells you that they have the same name, is probably not the best place to resurrect that particular crusade. (incidentally, Chris's changing of the other parts from the original submission was probably for the best, though I was sad to see the bonus part on "go to statement considered harmful" go)

grapesmoker wrote:[Tyrfing?!]

Yeah, this question was pretty wacky. It actually comes from the Hervarar saga and isn't in and of itself entirely unheard-of, though it's way too hard for this tournament. This tossup produced the always-delightful feeling of mounting disbelief that this could possibly be a tossup on what it's on, followed by a sort of disappointed buzz when the weight of evidence became too much. I don't mean to criticize Auroni or Chris too much here--they know that it was too hard, and I know that late-hour "eh, I have to {write this, have a tossup} on something" feeling all too well.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:48 pm

I said "finger of Tyr" for "Tyrfing" and then when asked to repeat it decided I didn't really feel like it and didn't (the game was out of reach by this point). At the risk of asking a really dumb question, is that acceptable? (I've asked this to various quizbowlers and gotten different answers, so I was curious)
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:02 pm

I don't really agree with you there (it's not even the least interesting moon of Mars, for one), though I obviously know what you're getting at and would like to mention that I originally submitted that question as a tossup on "moons of Mars" or "Phobos and Deimos" to prevent the sort of hair-pulling agh-which -one-is-this-why-would-you-do-that reaction that tossups on one of them tend to elicit. I was somewhat disappointed that it was changed this way, especially when it provoked almost exactly that response in the room I read it in.


I think this is an interesting example of how two good, experienced editors can really have two different takes on a situation. I'm like 99% sure (though correct me if I'm wrong) that all the clues in the original submission were on Phobos, presumably because (as you said) there's fuck all you could say about Deimos. I changed it in the hopes that it would be less opaque to people with knowledge in a way I considered kind of needless and potentially confusing. The reasoning here was pretty much that, well, nobody cares about Deimos whatsoever and there's no way you could ever even get a decent tossup out of it. I still think that's a relatively basic layer of knowledge about Phobos and Deimos, but obviously there's at least one case of empirical evidence that it gives people trouble. Hearing Rob's argument I'd probably be inclined to just keep the original form, though I'm not sure it makes THAT much difference - if you don't know that none of those clues could really reasonably apply to Deimos, it doesn't seem like a great crime that you're not powering the astro question.

Cheynem wrote:I said "finger of Tyr" for "Tyrfing" and then when asked to repeat it decided I didn't really feel like it and didn't (the game was out of reach by this point). At the risk of asking a really dumb question, is that acceptable? (I've asked this to various quizbowlers and gotten different answers, so I was curious)


the 'Tyrfing' answerline wrote:ANSWER: Tyrfing [or finger of Tyr; accept word forms; prompt on partial answer]


Was listed as an answer, which I'm pretty sure was in Auroni's original submission since I didn't do a great deal with this question. Honestly I could kind of tell then that it was a bad idea for a tossup and now it just seems way worse (I kind of vaguely recall wondering where this story even came from, in line with Jerry's criticism). I'm entirely willing, and even eager, to join the choruses suggesting that we not toss this up again.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Ukonvasara » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:08 pm

Cheynem wrote:I said "finger of Tyr" for "Tyrfing" and then when asked to repeat it decided I didn't really feel like it and didn't (the game was out of reach by this point). At the risk of asking a really dumb question, is that acceptable? (I've asked this to various quizbowlers and gotten different answers, so I was curious)

Cursory research suggests that it is derived directly from "finger of Tyr", so I'd probably be inclined to accept it.

ETA: Heh, well in that case, I'd definitely accept it. As far as difficulty goes, it's probably notable enough to pop up every once in a while as a bonus part or clue or something, but tossing it up again in most situations would be rather ill-advised.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby Excelsior (smack) » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:17 pm

I guess this could be an issue of different sets of knowledge (I'd definitely find your wording way more confusing, and you evidently felt the same way about mine).

I suppose. It wasn't a huge issue in any case, just a minor niggle.

Indeed, questions on textbooks can generally be classified as "bad ideas", though this question, which is as much on the term "design patterns" as it is on the book itself in that it gives you all the clues you'd be getting for the former and tells you that they have the same name, is probably not the best place to resurrect that particular crusade. (incidentally, Chris's changing of the other parts from the original submission was probably for the best, though I was sad to see the bonus part on "go to statement considered harmful" go)

Huh. It seems that "design patterns" are more of a thing than I previously thought. I retract my complaint, as it was clearly unfounded.
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Re: BARGE General Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:26 pm

Design patterns are totally A Thing, especially amongst Java people.
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