Know your current events

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Know your current events

Post by Matt Weiner »

Some observations and conclusions to chew on:

Current events is a category in every form of high school quizbowl; at least, if that is taken to mean NAQT, PACE, and HSAPQ. If it's excluded from a few locally written invitationals, than those invitationals are doing a disservice to participating teams by failing to prepare them for the 15 or so widely played sets per year, included all of the national championships, produced by the three aforementioned groups.

In the past, some NAQT current events questions have been on trashy, stupid, or geography-in-disguise things; this is, largely, no longer the case.

Most of the people who object to current events per se appear to have made absolutely no effort to learn even the front-page news stories of the past year and reveal their own ignorance by calling major world leaders "trivial."

People who perform a bare minimum of effort, such as reading the newspaper every day and glancing at an Internet politics forum or two to see what the wonks are talking about, tend to get nearly every single current events question, and can use that to make up for their other deficiencies at NAQT format.

Well-written current events questions test obviously important knowledge about the state of the world.

You should probably go learn current events.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Cheynem »

I completely agree with this statement. I thought HSNCT this year did a fine job at asking about (for the most part) very important leaders, policies, and events happening in the world today.
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Post by Captain Sinico »

Hear, hear.

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Re: Know your current events

Post by pblessman »

Agreed. I recommend reading The Economist. This will get you informed on worldwide current events of significance (and can provide some balance if your main source of information is the NYT or another left-leaning source).
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

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Re: Know your current events

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

I endorse this product and/or statement.

On that note, I would be rather happy to see current events appear in college tournaments sometimes. Maybe as an occasional history question in the Bruce Arthur "Modern World" vein?
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Cheynem »

Current events should be allowed in the Your Choice part of the distribution. When editing MUT, I used this philosophy.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

Cheynem wrote:Current events should be allowed in the Your Choice part of the distribution. When editing MUT, I used this philosophy.
A lot of the problem is that if something appears in "Your Choice," it will almost certainly remain unwritten in favor of a trash question.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Auroni »

truest thing said on the boards in a while
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Cheynem »

The Atom Strikes! wrote: A lot of the problem is that if something appears in "Your Choice," it will almost certainly remain unwritten in favor of a trash question.
This is true. I am a fan of tournaments which can set their own distributions to allow for a "Your Choice" that specifically forbids trash submissions. I also encourage editors who like current events to step up to the plate and make sure these questions appear in either history or Your Choice.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

Matt Weiner wrote:Some observations and conclusions to chew on:

Current events is a category in every form of high school quizbowl; at least, if that is taken to mean NAQT, PACE, and HSAPQ. If it's excluded from a few locally written invitationals, than those invitationals are doing a disservice to participating teams by failing to prepare them for the 15 or so widely played sets per year, included all of the national championships, produced by the three aforementioned groups.

In the past, some NAQT current events questions have been on trashy, stupid, or geography-in-disguise things; this is, largely, no longer the case.

Most of the people who object to current events per se appear to have made absolutely no effort to learn even the front-page news stories of the past year and reveal their own ignorance by calling major world leaders "trivial."

People who perform a bare minimum of effort, such as reading the newspaper every day and glancing at an Internet politics forum or two to see what the wonks are talking about, tend to get nearly every single current events question, and can use that to make up for their other deficiencies at NAQT format.

Well-written current events questions test obviously important knowledge about the state of the world.

You should probably go learn current events.


I agree with everything in this post.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

I definitely agree that an intelligent world citizen should know current world affairs, and that no one should complain that quizbowl tests this knowledge. However, I find it disingenuous to claim that it's "a category in every form of high school quizbowl" without acknowledging the enormous differences in how it's represented. In NAQT, knowing your current events can net you two tossups every round; at PACE, you'll hear a current events tossup once every three rounds. It's natural for teams to experience a little culture shock at HSNCT after they've barely heard or prepared for any current events questions the rest of the year. Now, I'm not supporting people who call current events "trash", or advocating a reduction in NAQT's current events distribution. Actually, I'm arguing that HSAPQ, PACE, and housewrites should allot a greater distribution to current events, which is frankly an afterthought outside of NAQT. This might be accomplished by reducing the trash or geography distributions: for example, if trash were eliminated from the NSC, we'd hear one current events question every round, which everyone should be happy with. Although Matt is correct in vindicating NAQT in this matter, the "mACF" events in quizbowl have yet to learn from NAQT's example.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Unicolored Jay »

The set I edited had a 1/1 Current Events distribution. From those who saw it, I'd like to know if that 1/1 was written on good things or not. Also, the HSNCT did a pretty good job with the subject, and I have nothing to complain about. And yeah, aside from our set, current events is rather rare in housewrites and college tournaments.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by PennySalem »

What's a good website for daily current events?
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Charbroil »

PennySalem wrote:What's a good website for daily current events?
Any major news site?
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Matt Weiner »

Charbroil wrote:
PennySalem wrote:What's a good website for daily current events?
Any major news site?
Thanks for your flippant response to someone asking how to get better!

news.bbc.co.uk for global perspective
news.google.com for changing stories throughout the day
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Re: Know your current events

Post by PennySalem »

Matt Weiner wrote: news.bbc.co.uk for global perspective
news.google.com for changing stories throughout the day
Thanks a bunch! Is the second source any good for US current events?
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Charbroil »

Matt Weiner wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
PennySalem wrote:What's a good website for daily current events?
Any major news site?
Thanks for your flippant response to someone asking how to get better!

news.bbc.co.uk for global perspective
news.google.com for changing stories throughout the day
Not really? I genuinely think any major news site (CNN, MSNBC, BBC, FOX, etc.) is more or less interchangeable to learn about major news items, especially for Quiz Bowl where a paper's editorial policies, etc. don't matter, so I didn't really feel obligated to push my own personal favorite news source. My apologies if my comment was taken as unhelpful.

Anyway, to keep from making this entirely a meta-post, either Google or Yahoo news are good for changing stories, and I've always really enjoyed the Christian Science Monitor for its analysis. Also, Wikipedia is an interesting news source because you can readily find information related to a news item. Finally, Yahoo's homepage is also nice for the sliding marquee, which I've found features both interesting real news and popular culture news.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

PennySalem wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote: news.bbc.co.uk for global perspective
news.google.com for changing stories throughout the day
Thanks a bunch! Is the second source any good for US current events?
I like nytimes.com personally.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Charbroil »

PennySalem wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote: news.bbc.co.uk for global perspective
news.google.com for changing stories throughout the day
Thanks a bunch! Is the second source any good for US current events?
I've found Yahoo News to be better because it automatically subdivides into various topics (World/US/Local) on the Yahoo homepage, but since you can select what you want to look at Google News as well, I wouldn't say it's a bad source.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

PennySalem wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote: news.bbc.co.uk for global perspective
news.google.com for changing stories throughout the day
Thanks a bunch! Is the second source any good for US current events?
It's okay, but it aggregates a lot of stories that aren't really enduring; there are two "Storm cancels Obama's Memorial Day speech" and "Hiker missing 3 days is found hurt in Maine park" for every "GOP's California Conundrum." Really, blogs like fivethirtyeight and Daily Kos are good for most of the political side of US current events, which is a big part of the NAQT distro for US current events.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
PennySalem wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote: news.bbc.co.uk for global perspective
news.google.com for changing stories throughout the day
Thanks a bunch! Is the second source any good for US current events?
It's okay, but it aggregates a lot of stories that aren't really enduring; there are two "Storm cancels Obama's Memorial Day speech" and "Hiker missing 3 days is found hurt in Maine park" for every "GOP's California Conundrum." Really, blogs like fivethirtyeight and Daily Kos are good for most of the political side of US current events, which is a big part of the NAQT distro for US current events.
Fivethirtyeight is starting to add in more world political coverage as well. Other sites (each with their own biases so beware) that provide fairly broad coverage are Politico, Huffington Post, and Drudge Report.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by cchiego »

Glad to see that Matt posted this. CE is really important, not that hard to study for (although it does require a different kind of studying), and should definitely be more represented in sets.

I think one of the problems with writers trying to provide CE questions is that they are often time-sensitive- you can't write them too far in advance for a tournament, so you need to time writing them carefully based on recent news and update them if circumstances change, possibly as soon as a few days before the tournament! That said, if anyone needs current events questions written for a tournament, I am usually available to contribute 5/5 or so per week of notice and will probably be contributing a lot more to NAQT's sets next year.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/

All this site does is find news and commentary on that day's political events and post links to them. And unlike Nate Silver or Matt Drudge it does not have a political bias towards one side.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by jrbarry »

ACE is offering a course in Current Events at all three camps this summer for the first time. One of the focuses of that class will be to describe ways players can easily keep up with current events as then quiz bowl year progresses.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by ryandillon »

jrbarry wrote:ACE is offering a course in Current Events at all three camps this summer for the first time. One of the focuses of that class will be to describe ways players can easily keep up with current events as then quiz bowl year progresses.
I was just going to send you guys a message about that. Awesome. I think that you guys offering that class will be able to serve as a good starting point for a lot of players (like myself) who can't tell you the names of anybody in the cabinet right now.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by nobthehobbit »

ryandillon wrote:
jrbarry wrote:ACE is offering a course in Current Events at all three camps this summer for the first time. One of the focuses of that class will be to describe ways players can easily keep up with current events as then quiz bowl year progresses.
I was just going to send you guys a message about that. Awesome. I think that you guys offering that class will be able to serve as a good starting point for a lot of players (like myself) who can't tell you the names of anybody in the cabinet right now.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by grashid »

Matt Weiner wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
PennySalem wrote:What's a good website for daily current events?
Any major news site?
Thanks for your flippant response to someone asking how to get better!

news.bbc.co.uk for global perspective
news.google.com for changing stories throughout the day
"Any major news site?" has to be the most appropriate answer imaginable for this, flippant or not.

Adding to the discussion, I like to read the nytimes.com. If you aren't too modern for me (warning, sarcasm), I would also suggest picking up the Newsweek or Times, which has a weekly short recaps of world events besides the articles.
I would highly recommend podcasts. A lot of the news organizations put their nightly broadcasts on Itunes, as does Economist and NPR. My favorite is "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.." It's a current events radio trivia show, and its pretty funny, albeit very biased. Hope that helps.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by DongDonger »

I have BBC World and nytimes on RSS feed, so I regularly see new headlines. Also, Google News is my homepage. So far that seems to have been enough for me to catch up on current events, but not nearly enough to get them in quizbowl.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Auroni »

Find a big forum with a large Off Topic or Politics section. Not only will you be informed of the goings-on of the world, there will be people posting interesting/entertaining/stupid things relating to those topics
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Brian Ulrich »

Foreignpolicy.com can send their "Morning Brief" to your e-mail every morning. Here's what you get: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/Morning_Brief I, personally, find this the best way to stay in touch with a broad view of world events.

Also, since my motive for lobbying for NAQT's CE editing job a few years ago was to promote it as a serious category, this thread makes me remarkably content.

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Re: Know your current events

Post by Camelopardalis »

Matt Weiner wrote:Current events is a category in every form of high school quizbowl
Just out of curiosity, why is current events less represented in university quizbowl? CE is still part of the ACF and NAQT distributions, but I think in practice it's much rarer than in high school.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Important Bird Area »

That's because there are many more packet-submission events for colleges than for high schools (and packet-submission current events is a bad idea).
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Lightinfa »

Morraine Man wrote:http://www.realclearpolitics.com/

All this site does is find news and commentary on that day's political events and post links to them. And unlike Nate Silver or Matt Drudge it does not have a political bias towards one side.
This is the most helpful link posted in this thread. Reading this site (RCP) and the Economist seemed to be enough to power a lot of CE tossups at HSNCT.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Kyle »

bt_green_warbler wrote:That's because there are many more packet-submission events for colleges than for high schools (and packet-submission current events is a bad idea).
With the NSC over, I assume I can share this story. Chris asked me to write 3/3 world current events. As of May 5, I had finished 2/3 and had planned to write my last tossup on Nigeria. I found a few websites, put together a few clues, got my lead-in just right, and then googled Umaru Yar'Adua. He died. He died while I was writing my tossup. I killed him by googling him. I had to scrap my half-written tossup because you can't write a tossup a month before a tournament on a situation that's very uncertain and has the potential to change rapidly.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Stained Diviner »

That sort of stuff happens with current events questions. For the first Scobol Solo, I wrote a question on Tom Daschle that I thought would be kind of difficult. Two weeks before the tournament, his office got hit by an anthrax attack, so then his name was in the news every day. So it goes.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by DumbJaques »

I am a huge proponent of well-written current events questions and I believe the NSC should have more of them than it did this past year, and that they should come up more in college quiz bowl. The issue with current events (and honestly, geography too) is that people keep writing crappy questions in those categories. The solution isn't to get rid of or reduce the distribution for those questions, it's for for people to not suck so much. It's hard to write a good current events question and it's easy to write a crappy one. I don't think that it's at all as hard to write a good geography question, but it's even easier in that category to just ride the almanac train to suck city.

I actually really wish we'd see more academic current events in college tournaments, and I don't at all agree that it's inherently a bad idea. There are plenty of people in quizbowl who can write interesting current events questions, and tons of people who are going to send bad questions no matter what. I think the problem is simply that we haven't placed on emphasis on writing good questions in this category - we've phased it out of the distribution (as Henry correctly notes, people will choose academic current events over trash or their own choice academic like 5% of the time max) such that the people who can write good CE questions are now functionally encouraged to use that slot for something else. Additionally, we've made no attempt to emphasize good CE writing the way we have with some other things - I don't see any difference between getting people to stop writing terrible CE or geography questions and eliminating the prevalence of science biography, which we've obviously done.

Admitted counterpoint: Apparently this year's current events distribution murdered Umar Yar'Adua.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by nobthehobbit »

DumbJaques wrote:I am a huge proponent of well-written current events questions and I believe the NSC should have more of them than it did this past year, and that they should come up more in college quiz bowl. The issue with current events (and honestly, geography too) is that people keep writing crappy questions in those categories. The solution isn't to get rid of or reduce the distribution for those questions, it's for for people to not suck so much. It's hard to write a good current events question and it's easy to write a crappy one. I don't think that it's at all as hard to write a good geography question, but it's even easier in that category to just ride the almanac train to suck city.

I actually really wish we'd see more academic current events in college tournaments, and I don't at all agree that it's inherently a bad idea. There are plenty of people in quizbowl who can write interesting current events questions, and tons of people who are going to send bad questions no matter what. I think the problem is simply that we haven't placed on emphasis on writing good questions in this category - we've phased it out of the distribution (as Henry correctly notes, people will choose academic current events over trash or their own choice academic like 5% of the time max) such that the people who can write good CE questions are now functionally encouraged to use that slot for something else. Additionally, we've made no attempt to emphasize good CE writing the way we have with some other things - I don't see any difference between getting people to stop writing terrible CE or geography questions and eliminating the prevalence of science biography, which we've obviously done.

Admitted counterpoint: Apparently this year's current events distribution murdered Umar Yar'Adua.
Editors could excise trash in favour of current events a few days before the tournament (particularly for packet-sub ones), thus reducing trash and, provided said editors are good CE writers, giving examples of good CE questions.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

Kyle wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:That's because there are many more packet-submission events for colleges than for high schools (and packet-submission current events is a bad idea).
With the NSC over, I assume I can share this story. Chris asked me to write 3/3 world current events. As of May 5, I had finished 2/3 and had planned to write my last tossup on Nigeria. I found a few websites, put together a few clues, got my lead-in just right, and then googled Umaru Yar'Adua. He died. He died while I was writing my tossup. I killed him by googling him. I had to scrap my half-written tossup because you can't write a tossup a month before a tournament on a situation that's very uncertain and has the potential to change rapidly.
Can you write a tossup on Kim Jong Il?
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Re: Know your current events

Post by AKKOLADE »

I just wanted to jump into this discussion to point out that I agree that CE is a pretty neat category, that might even benefit from a slight increase in distribution.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Important Bird Area »

DumbJaques wrote:I actually really wish we'd see more academic current events in college tournaments, and I don't at all agree that it's inherently a bad idea.
My comment above was limited to packet-submission events. (I've seen the combination of mandatory current events plus the well known tendency of last-minute packet submission generate a gigantic pile of repeats on "whatever happened to be in the New York Times in the 48 hours before the last packet deadline." That's unpleasant no matter the quality of the individual questions.)
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Re: Know your current events

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:I actually really wish we'd see more academic current events in college tournaments, and I don't at all agree that it's inherently a bad idea.
My comment above was limited to packet-submission events. (I've seen the combination of mandatory current events plus the well known tendency of last-minute packet submission generate a gigantic pile of repeats on "whatever happened to be in the New York Times in the 48 hours before the last packet deadline." That's unpleasant no matter the quality of the individual questions.)
My sole(?) experience editing a packet-sub tournament that required current events resulted in maybe five different teams submitting either tossups or bonuses on Nicolas Sarkozy.
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Re: Know your current events

Post by nobthehobbit »

Ukonvasara wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:I actually really wish we'd see more academic current events in college tournaments, and I don't at all agree that it's inherently a bad idea.
My comment above was limited to packet-submission events. (I've seen the combination of mandatory current events plus the well known tendency of last-minute packet submission generate a gigantic pile of repeats on "whatever happened to be in the New York Times in the 48 hours before the last packet deadline." That's unpleasant no matter the quality of the individual questions.)
My sole(?) experience editing a packet-sub tournament that required current events resulted in maybe five different teams submitting either tossups or bonuses on Nicolas Sarkozy.
Yeah, I would say, let teams submit what they will in that category into which CE is lumped, then have the editors add in CE and take out some/all of the vanity trash that gets in that same category. (Goodness knows I'm guilty of putting my vanity trash there.) Don't explicitly require CE in submissions; that's just asking for what Rob said. (If there is one thing I do want to see more of that could be written by submitters in that category, it's cross-disciplinary bonuses.)
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