Trash in National Tournaments... Again

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Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by kayli »

I think trash is a terrible, terrible thing in any non-novice level tournament... much less in a nationals tournament. I think it would be highly beneficial to eliminate trash altogether in high levels of competition. However, there are many counterarguments against this elimination, and I want to address them.

1. Trash is useful to coddle new players and teams.
Rebuttal: This shouldn't be the case at a nationals level where the people competing have competed for some time or are quite serious about competing. These people are certainly not new to the game.

2. 1/1 Trash cannot affect a game's outcome more so than 1/1 of any other category.
Rebuttal: This is true. Trash cannot affect a game's outcome more so than questions in any other category. However, trash does affect the outcome of a game. One question can cause a potential 45 point swing (3 bonuses, 1 tossup, and 1 neg for the other team) in any game. However, the difference between trash questions and academic questions is that trash question reward non-academic knowledge. Quizbowl is an academic game. It would only be right to reward academic knowledge and not take non-academic knowledge into account.

3. Trash can be academic.
Rebuttal: I concede this point. Some things we consider "trash" are academic. Things like classic movies and music do venture into the land of the academic. There's a solution to this though. Most of these things would fit into the fine arts category. So, instead of having a 1/1 trash category, there should be an additional .5 to the fine arts distribution and an additional .5 to some other category. Alternatively, there should be an addition 1/1 to the fine arts distribution creating a "Big Four."


There are a whole bunch of arguments for trash in high levels of competition that I left out so feel free to post some.

Overall, I think trash questions are bad for any academic competitions. We often rail against NAC for having terrible, terrible, terrible questions about house appliances. But, how much more academic is a pyramidal question about Shawn Bradley than a question on the sewing machine? After all, the sewing machine had longer, richer history and has more contemporary and historical significance than Shawn Bradley ever will (no offense Shawn Bradley and his relatives).
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Cheynem »

I wholeheartedly support ACF Nationals getting rid of trash. As for ICT, I actually agree with Matt Keller in the other thread that the different nature of the distribution adds a different sort of flavor to ICT that I have no inherent problem with, as long as they made the questions better. I think this comes down to inherently different philosophies of how to view these tournaments. I would be okay with ICT having a reduced trash distribution, with a little more going to like Kay's ambiguous definition of fine arts.

I'm also okay with various tournaments finding more interesting ways of using its trash distribution like a Your Choice or an Etc. or a Cross Distro thing, which may use some trash clues or bonus parts. No offense to whoever wrote the trash for HI, but for the most part, I think the tournament would have been better without trash as it's hard at upper level tournaments sometimes to get an internal consistency without making the trash super difficult.

I see no problem whatsoever with trash appearing in other tournaments though. A well-written pyramidal trash question rewards intellectual curiosity, which is a good thing and goes beyond just "coddling the newbies." I am okay with a packet rewarding this sort of knowledge at certain levels of the game.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by quizbowllee »

I concur with eliminating trash, especially from NAQT. There is nothing more frustrating* than being in a heated match and hear the moderator say "this man was taken Xth in the XXXX draft and played for XXXX" or some such crap. Even when I have players who KNOW the answers, it's frustrating to hear Trash questions decide a match.





*I concede there is one thing just as frustrating: Hearing the moderator say "Pencil and Paper ready..."
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Golran »

How would you rebutt the argument that TRASH knowledge is legitimate knowledge, and therefore if TRASH questions are written in good, pyramidal form with a well-defined canon/kept in current culture/possible water-cooler conversation topics, they deserve to be rewarded. I guess it's up to the organization running/writing the tournament to determine the importance of TRASH and adjust their distribution accordingly.

Also, why should we change the game (essentially what you're doing by including TRASH in qualifying tournaments but not national tournaments) for a tournament that you must qualify for?
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Cheynem »

Just FYI, it's "trash" not "TRASH." TRASH is an organization.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:
3. Trash can be academic.
Rebuttal: I concede this point. Some things we consider "trash" are academic. Things like classic movies and music do venture into the land of the academic. There's a solution to this though. Most of these things would fit into the fine arts category. So, instead of having a 1/1 trash category, there should be an additional .5 to the fine arts distribution and an additional .5 to some other category. Alternatively, there should be an addition 1/1 to the fine arts distribution creating a "Big Four."
I tend to agree with this sentiment here. I think we should combine Fine Arts and Pop Culture into one Culture category that would essentially create a "Big Four." I think the Pop Culture included here should be written from more of an academic standpoint than it has in the past though. Sometimes it seems as if question writers essentially use their belief that Pop Culture is unacademic as an excuse to write bad questions on it, and that needs to be curtailed.

The Fine Arts distro in high school NAQT needs to go up as well.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by kayli »

Golran wrote:How would you rebutt the argument that TRASH knowledge is legitimate knowledge, and therefore if TRASH questions are written in good, pyramidal form with a well-defined canon/kept in current culture/possible water-cooler conversation topics, they deserve to be rewarded. I guess it's up to the organization running/writing the tournament to determine the importance of TRASH and adjust their distribution accordingly.

Also, why should we change the game (essentially what you're doing by including TRASH in qualifying tournaments but not national tournaments) for a tournament that you must qualify for?
Trash knowledge is legitimate knowledge. However, I argue that that knowledge does not need to be rewarded in the context of an academic national championship.

Also, even though trash is in the qualifying tournaments, it does not need to be in nationals level tournaments. It is okay for there to be trash at lower levels but not at higher levels. When you get to higher levels, there should be a different standard for competition at that level. To draw a sports analogy (God of quizbowl help me), it's analogous to the fact that the NFL has a larger ball and wider hash marks than NCAA football.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by jonah »

Golran wrote:Also, why should we change the game (essentially what you're doing by including TRASH in qualifying tournaments but not national tournaments) for a tournament that you must qualify for?
Well, NAQT already does this by having different distributions for IS sets and HSNCT. I don't know the details of the differences between those distros, other than that computation is absent in HSNCT, but the difference exists, showing that NAQT isn't totally averse to doing what you're objecting to. (And I don't think it's ideal either, but I do think it's better than having computation, and eliminating trash from ICT but keeping it in SCT would be better than having trash in both.)
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:Also, even though trash is in the qualifying tournaments, it does not need to be in nationals level tournaments. It is okay for there to be trash at lower levels but not at higher levels. When you get to higher levels, there should be a different standard for competition at that level. To draw a sports analogy (God of quizbowl help me), it's analogous to the fact that the NFL has a larger ball and wider hash marks than NCAA football.
The legitimacy of sports analogies in general aside, that doesn't really hold here because NCAA football isn't directly a criterion for participation in the NFL. What Ian is talking about here is like if the Super Bowl used a different ball than the NFL regular season*.

*I don't know anything about football, so for all I know that is actually the case.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by kayli »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:Also, even though trash is in the qualifying tournaments, it does not need to be in nationals level tournaments. It is okay for there to be trash at lower levels but not at higher levels. When you get to higher levels, there should be a different standard for competition at that level. To draw a sports analogy (God of quizbowl help me), it's analogous to the fact that the NFL has a larger ball and wider hash marks than NCAA football.
The legitimacy of sports analogies in general aside, that doesn't really hold here because NCAA football isn't directly a criterion for participation in the NFL. What Ian is talking about here is like if the Super Bowl used a different ball than the NFL regular season*.

*I don't know anything about football, so for all I know that is actually the case.[/quote]

Fair enough. That was a terrible analogy.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that small changes in the distribution are okay when you move up difficulty levels so long as they are there in order to provide a more challenging, balanced academic experience. Eliminating trash questions accomplishes this. However, if you were to suddenly change 4/4 science to 2/2 science and 4/4 RMP, that wouldn't be acceptable because it does not accomplish that goal.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Cheynem wrote:A well-written pyramidal trash question rewards intellectual curiosity, which is a good thing and goes beyond just "coddling the newbies." I am okay with a packet rewarding this sort of knowledge at certain levels of the game.
I can write the 100% perfect tossup on "Gin and Juice." It will receive 100% "having heard 'Gin and Juice' " and 0% "intellectual curiosity" unless there is something requiring intellectual curiosity about listening to that song.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Cheynem »

Let me expand a bit on what I meant about intellectual curiosity:

I was thinking of the Jeff Geringer post in another thread when he, and I'm putting words in his mouth here, said "I never saw Lou Piniella play live! How am I supposed to know stuff about his playing career?" Obviously, I'm pretty sure anyone who powered that question at ICT never saw Lou Piniella play live. But intellectual curiosity about Lou Piniella caused me to learn more about his life and career. Similarly, if I had to rely upon answering questions on movies and TV shows I've actually seen, I wouldn't do very well.

In regards to the hypothetical "Gin and Juice" tossup, maybe you're not rewarding a lot of intellectual curiosity in stretching one's limits, but you are rewarding the ability to retain, process, and memorize facts and information. This sounds stupid, but for some people, this is the perfect jumpstart to what quizbowl is all about: nothing more than retaining and processing facts and information. Of course, you could argue that has no point for national tournaments, and I see your point.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Stained Diviner »

Some of these arguments seem to go against the main point. If you are for putting Trash topics in Fine Arts or for combining Trash and Fine Arts to make a Big Four, then you are not in favor of getting rid of Trash--you are basically in favor of the status quo, though possibly eliminating a subset of Trash questions, which is fine if you like the status quo.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by kayli »

Westwon wrote:Some of these arguments seem to go against the main point. If you are for putting Trash topics in Fine Arts or for combining Trash and Fine Arts to make a Big Four, then you are not in favor of getting rid of Trash--you are basically in favor of the status quo, though possibly eliminating a subset of Trash questions, which is fine if you like the status quo.
I want to get rid of non-academic trash. I think there are exceptions to the "trash is not academic" rule (classic movies, academic contemporary music, etc) which is why they should be placed in a subset of the fine arts distribution.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:
Westwon wrote:Some of these arguments seem to go against the main point. If you are for putting Trash topics in Fine Arts or for combining Trash and Fine Arts to make a Big Four, then you are not in favor of getting rid of Trash--you are basically in favor of the status quo, though possibly eliminating a subset of Trash questions, which is fine if you like the status quo.
I want to get rid of non-academic trash. I think there are exceptions to the "trash is not academic" rule (classic movies, academic contemporary music, etc) which is why they should be placed in a subset of the fine arts distribution.
As cool as having academically relevant trash would be, where do you draw the line? Clearly, Robert Johnson is academic (I'd actually be in favor of him being an Other Arts answer), but is someone like Bruce Springsteen? Casablanca is academic, but is Goodfellas? I think we'd just end up arguing even more over what is and isn't academic enough.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by AKKOLADE »

The best reasoning of an academic/trash split in subjects like music and film is how "accessible" a subject is. If it's real easy to access, like the Godfather (as you can just watch that on AMC at pretty much any time), it should go into trash; if it takes effort to access, like Fellini's films, then it should go under art.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by kayli »

Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:
Westwon wrote:Some of these arguments seem to go against the main point. If you are for putting Trash topics in Fine Arts or for combining Trash and Fine Arts to make a Big Four, then you are not in favor of getting rid of Trash--you are basically in favor of the status quo, though possibly eliminating a subset of Trash questions, which is fine if you like the status quo.
I want to get rid of non-academic trash. I think there are exceptions to the "trash is not academic" rule (classic movies, academic contemporary music, etc) which is why they should be placed in a subset of the fine arts distribution.
As cool as having academically relevant trash would be, where do you draw the line? Clearly, Robert Johnson is academic (I'd actually be in favor of him being an Other Arts answer), but is someone like Bruce Springsteen? Casablanca is academic, but is Goodfellas? I think we'd just end up arguing even more over what is and isn't academic enough.
I guess it'd be in the judgment of the editor of the set. I'd say though that, if you have doubt about using someone in that distribution, then you probably shouldn't write a question on that person. This problem exists in a lot of other quizbowl categories, and eventually we'd figure this stuff out I guess.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask »

The Granny wrote:The best reasoning of an academic/trash split in subjects like music and film is how "accessible" a subject is. If it's real easy to access, like the Godfather (as you can just watch that on AMC at pretty much any time), it should go into trash; if it takes effort to access, like Fellini's films, then it should go under art.
Ugh, this is a horrible, terrible, no good metric that basically boils down to "in certain subjects only, academic = obscure". If there must be a split (which I am dubious of- I prefer to think of academic/trash as a continuum), then I believe it must be along artistic importance and/or (to the limited extent that we can measure things which are newish) enduring cultural relevance.

FWIW, I do believe that The Godfather ought to be 100% kosher in an academic tournament; it passes both tests with flying colors.
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Cheynem wrote:A well-written pyramidal trash question rewards intellectual curiosity, which is a good thing and goes beyond just "coddling the newbies." I am okay with a packet rewarding this sort of knowledge at certain levels of the game.
I can write the 100% perfect tossup on "Gin and Juice." It will receive 100% "having heard 'Gin and Juice' " and 0% "intellectual curiosity" unless there is something requiring intellectual curiosity about listening to that song.
Would you say the same thing about a tossup on, say, Johnny Cash? I'll bet that a lot of people know things about him not just because they've heard (or even like) his stuff, but because they are intellectually curious about the development of American music.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Cheynem wrote:I was thinking of the Jeff Geringer post in another thread when he, and I'm putting words in his mouth here, said "I never saw Lou Piniella play live! How am I supposed to know stuff about his playing career?" Obviously, I'm pretty sure anyone who powered that question at ICT never saw Lou Piniella play live. But intellectual curiosity about Lou Piniella caused me to learn more about his life and career. Similarly, if I had to rely upon answering questions on movies and TV shows I've actually seen, I wouldn't do very well.
The only way that is intellectual curiosity is that it involves your head. It's certainly not academic curiosity, which is what I'd like quizbowl to reward. If that by definition precludes trash, well, maybe that's intentional.
In regards to the hypothetical "Gin and Juice" tossup, maybe you're not rewarding a lot of intellectual curiosity in stretching one's limits, but you are rewarding the ability to retain, process, and memorize facts and information. This sounds stupid, but for some people, this is the perfect jumpstart to what quizbowl is all about: nothing more than retaining and processing facts and information. Of course, you could argue that has no point for national tournaments, and I see your point.
Yeah, that's mostly it. We're not about jumpstarting here.
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:
The Granny wrote:The best reasoning of an academic/trash split in subjects like music and film is how "accessible" a subject is. If it's real easy to access, like the Godfather (as you can just watch that on AMC at pretty much any time), it should go into trash; if it takes effort to access, like Fellini's films, then it should go under art.
Ugh, this is a horrible, terrible, no good metric that basically boils down to "in certain subjects only, academic = obscure". If there must be a split (which I am dubious of- I prefer to think of academic/trash as a continuum), then I believe it must be along artistic importance and/or (to the limited extent that we can measure things which are newish) enduring cultural relevance.
Okay, that's fair, but then...
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I can write the 100% perfect tossup on "Gin and Juice." It will receive 100% "having heard 'Gin and Juice' " and 0% "intellectual curiosity" unless there is something requiring intellectual curiosity about listening to that song.
Would you say the same thing about a tossup on, say, Johnny Cash? I'll bet that a lot of people know things about him not just because they've heard (or even like) his stuff, but because they are intellectually curious about the development of American music.
you rely on just that metric, suggesting that Johnny Cash questions might reward intellectual curiosity precisely because there's a more elevated, so to speak, route to his music (i.e. it fits within a larger academic context that is prevalent enough that sufficiently many people might get to his music through that curiosity rather than or in addition to listening to it).
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Coelacanth »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: Trash knowledge is legitimate knowledge. However, I argue that that knowledge does not need to be rewarded in the context of an academic national championship.
We can (and do) have this discussion over and over again, but I think this really comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Some people, like you, think that the A in NAQT stands for Academic and that all the questions should rigorously adhere to that fact.

Other people, like me, think that there's room in the marketplace for a diversity of formats, and that people should have the opportunity to experience both the strict academic nature of an ACF as well as a more broadly-based distribution like that of NAQT.

Both of these positions are internally logically consistent. I certainly have no quarrel with your right to express your opinion, but I also think that neither of these positions can be objectively proved to be somehow "correct".

Look, if enough people don't like NAQT's distribution, eventually they will stop playing it and NAQT will be forced to either adapt to the wishes of their customer base or go out of business entirely. CBI was faced with this choice and chose the latter option. (Perhaps it would be more accurate to say they failed to implement the former option)

People have choices. Don't like NAQT's distribution? Then don't play NAQT. Want NAQT to change their distribution? Send them your feedback directly. They do listen.

Again, I'm not trying to tell anyone how to think or what to post on the boards. It just seems like there is a thread like this after every major tournament, and I wonder if that's the most productive use of everyone's time.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Cheynem »

Yeah, Andy has it--this comes down to a split between what sort of knowledge we think should be rewarded at quizbowl. I am okay with ICT rewarding a degree of non inherently academic knowledge (I'm also okay with the NAQT flair of rewarding knowledge of literature that isn't academic, geography that isn't academic, and personalities that aren't all academic), although I'm not wedded to it and I can see why it might bother some people. But I think this is just different personal philosophies--I do not think good quizbowl needs to only reward academic knowledge and I'm happy that different permutations of it appear throughout the landscape (although I'm comfortable wtih certain tournaments, including ACF Nats and various opens, from doing so).
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by jonah »

Coelacanth wrote:Some people...think that the A in NAQT stands for Academic
Including (admitted non-people) NAQT's website and even their very logo, so I'm not sure what your point here is. Are you suggesting that it doesn't? Or are you just suggesting that companies needn't reflect the values seemingly put forth in their names?
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Important Bird Area »

For the record, the A does stand for Academic, but we don't believe that that carries with it an implicit requirement that our questions should be free of pop culture/sports.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by kayli »

Yes, there can be a diversity of formats, but that shouldn't extend to Nationals-level competition where the goal should be rewarding intellectual curiosity while determining which team is the best team at quizbowl.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by grapesmoker »

I wonder whose intellectual curiosity is being rewarded by tossups on Shawn Bradley and Papa John's. Riddle me that, Batman!

Look, the majority of the stuff that comes up in trash questions, including those of NAQT, has nothing to do with any sort of intellectual curiosity whatsoever. It's just a mishmash of random crap that happens to be either someone's wheelhouse or was on TV recently or what have you. Very rarely is it anything even remotely approximating lasting cultural value. I don't understand what is being rewarded with these questions other than being a person who... likes to be entertained? Listens to music? Watches TV and sporting events? In short, pretty much just goes about their life? I don't know, I do all these things but I don't think that at a national academic tournament my niche interests ought to be rewarded with points.

To me, there's no obvious rationale for having these questions in a tournament that, like ICT, is ostensibly designed to find the best academic teams in the country. The only rationale anyone has put forth has basically amounted to, "well, some people kind of like it and I don't find it objectionable." But I haven't heard anyone actually overcome this particular objection, which I think is the strongest one.

As for "not attending ICT," let's be real here. ICT is still a major national tournament and as long as it remains such, people are going to come. I guess one could opt out of ICT competition on principle, but I don't see that happening; even I wouldn't not come to ICT unless I thought the academic editors were going to be incompetent.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Monk »

If all trash questions were to disappear overnight, I would not miss them.

However, I also do not have a problem with the use of trash questions since, as I see it, today's trash could be tomorrow's fine art or literature. Sure, I would be hard-pressed to find a modern example of something I think will be academic in the future, but it could happen. Knowledge of trash is equivalent to some knowledge of the modern culture in which current events and modern artists and authors operate.

Also, sometimes it can be hard to call the difference. I really like the satirical fantasies of British author Terry Pratchett (as a matter of fact, they have gotten me more than one tossup). I would call his works trash; I have even heard a trash tossup on his book Interesting Times. Recently, the Queen knighted him for his services to Literature. That might not make him academic to me, but it could be a legitimate argument for making him academic. Similarly, a book like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is taught academically in many schools. I think I would categorize it as trash regardless, but it should be possible to ask some sort of question on it, at least in high school quizbowl.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by grapesmoker »

I yield to no one in my man-crush on Douglas Adams. However, the notion that THHGTTG is serious literature is almost as absurd as anything that happens in those books.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

grapesmoker wrote:I yield to no one in my man-crush on Douglas Adams.
Oh no now we are dragging Evan's dad into this.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by grapesmoker »

Frater Taciturnus wrote:Please leave Evan's dad out of this.

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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Camelopardalis »

Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:
Westwon wrote:Some of these arguments seem to go against the main point. If you are for putting Trash topics in Fine Arts or for combining Trash and Fine Arts to make a Big Four, then you are not in favor of getting rid of Trash--you are basically in favor of the status quo, though possibly eliminating a subset of Trash questions, which is fine if you like the status quo.
I want to get rid of non-academic trash. I think there are exceptions to the "trash is not academic" rule (classic movies, academic contemporary music, etc) which is why they should be placed in a subset of the fine arts distribution.
As cool as having academically relevant trash would be, where do you draw the line? Clearly, Robert Johnson is academic (I'd actually be in favor of him being an Other Arts answer), but is someone like Bruce Springsteen? Casablanca is academic, but is Goodfellas? I think we'd just end up arguing even more over what is and isn't academic enough.
Yeah, but isn't either solution - 0/0 trash or some amount of stuff that straddles the line - still better than the current situation? As much I'd like to see a tossup on From Here to Eternity or whatever, I'd still take 0/0 trash over questions on college basketball and curly fries any day.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Coelacanth »

jonah wrote:
Coelacanth wrote:Some people...think that the A in NAQT stands for Academic
Including (admitted non-people) NAQT's website and even their very logo, so I'm not sure what your point here is. Are you suggesting that it doesn't? Or are you just suggesting that companies needn't reflect the values seemingly put forth in their names?
I don't have statistics readily available on how much of AT&T's current business is telegraphs, or how many of GEICO's customers are government employees, or how often Southwest Airlines flies to the east coast, or... you get the point. It's just a name.

The point of my original statement (which your quote chopped in half) is that some adhere to a strict literal interpretation of the A in NAQT and others (including NAQT themselves, per Jeff's post) do not. Everyone's entitled to his or her opinion about this. Not everyone will agree. That's fine.

I don't have a dog in this fight; my days as an active college player are long since past. (Although reading at ICT reminded me that trash questions have many fewer unpronounceable words than biochem questions or all those Hungarian things that kept coming up...) You may well have some compelling arguments about why your vision of what ICT should be is the "best" one; I might agree with some of your points. But directing your arguments toward me and the others who read this board can effect change only to the extent that Jeff and others at NAQT read it here; why not provide them your feedback directly? As I said, they do listen.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Cheynem »

Would you be okay with like "borderline" trash appearing at ICT, Jerry--like some of Andrew's film tossups or tossups on author-no one studies anymore James Jones?
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by grapesmoker »

Cheynem wrote:Would you be okay with like "borderline" trash appearing at ICT, Jerry--like some of Andrew's film tossups or tossups on author-no one studies anymore James Jones?
I don't like to get distracted by discussions of "borderline trash" because I find them largely irrelevant to the topic; they're just not what I'm talking about. For what it's worth, I thought the movie tossups at ICT were pretty good so I wouldn't really have any problems with that. Some movies are works of art and some movies are just fluff, and I guess we can argue for a long time what's what but if I had any doubt about the artistic merit of a given work, I'd just leave it out. Likewise with literature; James Jones would probably be fine, I guess, though I don't know much about him. Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are pretty entertaining but that's about it.

The problem with talking about the borderline stuff is that inevitably everyone comes crawling out of the woodwork with special please for why their particular favorite whatever deserves to be included. I would prefer to do an end-run around that argument by simply excluding anything dubious. For the borderline answer choices, you can take them on a case by case basis, but most of what we're talking about isn't even remotely borderline.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Cheynem »

That's pretty fair--I suppose you can make an argument for the intellectual or academic validity of anything...not good arguments, mind you.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by grapesmoker »

Cheynem wrote:That's pretty fair--I suppose you can make an argument for the intellectual or academic validity of anything...not good arguments, mind you.
I think people are mistaking having some sort of serious intellectual content with an attitude of approval, which I think is a mistake. Of course, almost anything can be a topic of intellectual inquiry. But the way in which trash questions get written right now couldn't have less to do with that. Like, round 10 has a tossup on Wolfgang Puck. Maybe there's some alternate universe in which Wolfgang Puck is something more than a dude who makes delicious food, but that whole question was basically, "This guy is a chef. He's still a chef. He's a chef from Austria." Whatever knowledge is being rewarded there has nothing to do with any intellectual interest that may or may not be associated with Wolfgang Puck's cooking; it's just celebrity filler.

Let me give another example. I like basketball, so I watch the NBA a fair amount. I also like to read about basketball, so I read blogs that people write about it. Blogs like Hardwood Paroxysm and Free Darko. I also like soccer and so I like to read about that; my favorite soccer blog is The Run of Play, which contains some of the best writing I have ever read anywhere about any sport. Are those intellectual pursuits? Maybe. I would never go so far as to suggest that Free Darko and the Run of Play ought to be answers at an academic tournament, if only because the resulting explosion of Mike Sorice's head would surely kill us all. Maybe someday The Run of Play will be viewed the way that A.J. Liebling or Ring Lardner are viewed today and then a future generation of players can reconsider their inclusion, but for now, I think those things, interesting as they are, are best left out. And keep in mind, this is actually interesting, mostly intelligent writing (the Free Darko guys have appeared in McSweeney's, for example), not reams of statistics about players most people have managed to forget or pizza companies.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by jdeliverer »

Not that it makes any difference for the inclusion of trash, but I think, at least for NAQT, James Jones is definitely in the Lit distribution.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by centralhs »

I think that there is a clear and easily definable distinction to be made between sports or pop culture of a "classic" nature and out-and-out "trash". Questions that fall into the first category focus on subjects that have stood the test of time and are now considered classics in their field -- examples would be questions about The Godfather or Alfred Hitchcock or Andre Agassi or the Beatles or Nirvana. In my opinion, questions about these subjects are tolerable at an academic tournament. Examples that fall into the other category include Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga or Puppy Bowl (an actual question at the 2007 HSNCT, which a player on my team powered after about 4 words!) I don't think that this sort of ephemeral knowledge (here today, not worth remembering tomorrow) has any place at an academic tournament, especially at Nationals. If people are still talking about Miley Cyrus in 20 years (God forbid!), we can move her into the classic category.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Auroni »

centralhs wrote:If people are still talking about Miley Cyrus in 20 years (God forbid!), we can move her into the classic category.
This is not a test of time issue, and this statement serves to illustrate it. Plenty of cultural artifacts from 20 or 30 years ago, even if people still appreciate them now, are plenty trashy. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an example of something that I can think of that will probably never be an academic answer choice, unless the way people study movies that parody bad sci-fi movies changes dramatically.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by centralhs »

I was just joking. Clearly I don't think that Miley Cyrus is ever going to be worthy of "classic" status. Thus, my use of the phrase "God forbid!" I think that for any pop culture to be worthy of inclusion at an academically-oriented Nationals, it must both stand the test of time and be of acknowledged high quality.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by AKKOLADE »

New Kids on the Block was popular in 1990. If they ever get into the academic canon, something's gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Ditto Lipps Inc., The Archies or Brian Hyland.

Edit: Beaten, but there's no way I'm removing a reference to Lipps Inc.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Joshua Rutsky »

I'm not sure if I agree with myself or not on this issue (I'm of two minds, and one is in a small jar watching over my shoulder...), but as I read this post, I'm also thinking about it in terms of the college admissions process my seniors have just gone through the wringer over, and the incredible level of selectivity that makes the top tier of colleges nearly impossible to reach, even for the best students, without some serious connections or strings.

I know it might be far-fetched, but a part of me, the part of me that actually cares about my students and their lives and futures and happiness and completeness as human beings, thinks that having an average of one trash question every 2 rounds or so isn't the worst thing that can happen. So much of what we do with our elite students (and let's face it, most of the people who are having these arguments are among the elite of the elite) is now purely goal-oriented--get the resume right, max out the GPA, make sure you have the right extra-curriculars, do the volunteer work, find a cure for cancer on the weekend in your garage--and I fear that the result is that students make it to their senior years burnt out and overworked, thinking it is perfectly normal to spend seven hours a night on homework and only three sleeping, and generally killing themselves and giving up everything that makes academics worthwhile just to get shot down by the Ivy they've dreamed of attending since they were old enough for their parents to tell them to dream about it.

I love quiz bowl. I love what it stands for, I love the ethics behind it, and I love the way that it rewards people who have a genuine love for finding the connections that underlie what appear to be entirely separate disciplines. I love it just as much when a kid who knows everything about physics and the plot of The Charterhouse of Parma can also quote one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic strips or powers a question about something on the Disney Channel. It reminds me that s/he still has room for a little bit of fun in their life, and that we, as a competitive sport, haven't entirely quit on the idea of fun being ok. Tom Baker once said, "What's the point in growing up if you can't be childish now and then?"

If trash were to be removed from nationals, I wouldn't be devastated. Still, maybe trash is an important reminder that we still value whimsy, too. Whimsy is cool.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Having gone to a school where almost everyone I knew sold their souls to college admissions, doing all sorts of ridiculous, expensive things to get into the school of their choice, I certainly sympathize with efforts to keep high schoolers human in the face of unreasonable pressure.

That said, I don't know if national tournaments, specifically, are the place for those efforts. Kids should relax and enjoy themselves, and it's imperative that quizbowl coaches--just like any adult role model--make sure that their students don't hurt themselves. But those efforts, I think, don't have to be part of this competition.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:Yes, there can be a diversity of formats, but that shouldn't extend to Nationals-level competition where the goal should be rewarding intellectual curiosity while determining which team is the best team at quizbowl.
I have to agree. There's enough different about the NAQT format to distinguish it from ACF, even without all the geo/CE/trash that seems to permeate it every year. The clock, the powers, the shorter questions, and the speed all make for a different feel, and I'm completely fine with that assuming the questions are up to code.

With respect to the whole issue of humanity, anyone who knows me knows that I have all kind of ideas about admissions and the soulless existence that elite students have to go through; however, that's neither here nor there. I think the level of congeniality that one achieves at top levels of ANY competitive academic activity, including quizbowl, means that students get to have that baseline level of humanity that keeps them sane - in other words, you just don't need trash to save people's humanity. I know that being in quizbowl kept me sane throughout my undergraduate career, just from being able to talk to people about my interests and whatever else. I think I got more sanity out of listening to Ted talk about a Wallace Stevens poem, Jerry talk about the last Saul Kripke work he just read, or Chris Ray explaining the League of Blood to me than I did answering a tossup on The Mighty Thor at ICT this year. I agree that its thrilling to buzz on trash questions here and there, but you can have that at any circuit event. We can leave national tournaments out of that equation, because they're fundamentally serving a different purpose.
Last edited by Sima Guang Hater on Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by ryandillon »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:
2. 1/1 Trash cannot affect a game's outcome more so than 1/1 of any other category.
Rebuttal: This is true. Trash cannot affect a game's outcome more so than questions in any other category. However, trash does affect the outcome of a game. One question can cause a potential 45 point swing (3 bonuses, 1 tossup, and 1 neg for the other team) in any game. However, the difference between trash questions and academic questions is that trash question reward non-academic knowledge. Quizbowl is an academic game. It would only be right to reward academic knowledge and not take non-academic knowledge into account.
.
Trash shouldn't be excessive, but it has carved a niche out for itself in NAQT and some housewrites (and to a lesser extent HSAPQ sets). I'm no advocate of it, although I do enjoy a good Ke$ha qusetion here or there, but if a kid's favorite singer/actor/team/player or whatever happens to come up, he's going to get it in the same fashion as if his favorite book, opera, painting, or his science fair project came up. So if by chance one of those things a kid is going to own comes up, you have to take it, whether it's trash or one of the "Big Four". If a kid powers Hamlet on the third word you would be upset, but you wouldn't propose to get rid of the question because you would look ridiculous. Just because trash doesn't sit well with a good amount of quizbowlers doesn't mean you can propose to get rid of it. Also, you shouldn't worry about trash being the deciding factor in a match. If a team wins with the trash then the losing team should have made it up somewhere else because while they were studying pages the winning team was busy listening to the Jonas Brothers or something.

Basically what I'm trying to say is none of us really care for trash, but if you can't grin and bear it, HSNCT is not the national tournament for you. NAQT has always had trash and I believe it won't stop in the near future.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

ryandillon wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:
2. 1/1 Trash cannot affect a game's outcome more so than 1/1 of any other category.
Rebuttal: This is true. Trash cannot affect a game's outcome more so than questions in any other category. However, trash does affect the outcome of a game. One question can cause a potential 45 point swing (3 bonuses, 1 tossup, and 1 neg for the other team) in any game. However, the difference between trash questions and academic questions is that trash question reward non-academic knowledge. Quizbowl is an academic game. It would only be right to reward academic knowledge and not take non-academic knowledge into account.
.
Trash shouldn't be excessive, but it has carved a niche out for itself in NAQT and some housewrites (and to a lesser extent HSAPQ sets). I'm no advocate of it, although I do enjoy a good Ke$ha qusetion here or there, but if a kid's favorite singer/actor/team/player or whatever happens to come up, he's going to get it in the same fashion as if his favorite book, opera, painting, or his science fair project came up. So if by chance one of those things a kid is going to own comes up, you have to take it, whether it's trash or one of the "Big Four". If a kid powers Hamlet on the third word you would be upset, but you wouldn't propose to get rid of the question because you would look ridiculous. Just because trash doesn't sit well with a good amount of quizbowlers doesn't mean you can propose to get rid of it. Also, you shouldn't worry about trash being the deciding factor in a match. If a team wins with the trash then the losing team should have made it up somewhere else because while they were studying pages the winning team was busy listening to the Jonas Brothers or something.

Basically what I'm trying to say is none of us really care for trash, but if you can't grin and bear it, HSNCT is not the national tournament for you. NAQT has always had trash and I believe it won't stop in the near future.
When everyone else is making arguments about what ought to be, arguments about what is seem mighty incongruous! Your argument appears to be:
1. Tournaments have trash. I do not advocate it, but I enjoy it.
2. Quizbowlers convert trash questions because of knowledge of trash, much like how they convert academic questions.*
3. You have to accept that a player has converted a trash question.
4. The fact that players can power literature questions is not an argument against literature questions.
5. Trash has an immutable place in the distribution; we can't get rid of it just because we don't like it**
6. Those who lose matches because they don't convert the trash should have known more things as a result of having more time to study because they had to devote less time to watching B movies
7. No one likes trash (more than the "good amount" from earlier), but HSNCT should not reflect its customers' wishes, and everyone should just go to other tournaments exclusively instead of trying to fix this problem.

* source of that knowledge, and its value, being different: unaddressed
** other reasons to get rid of it: unaddressed
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by grapesmoker »

ryandillon wrote:If a kid powers Hamlet on the third word you would be upset
Why would anyone playing quizbowl be upset over someone's superlative knowledge of one of the most significant works in the Western canon?
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by jdeliverer »

Yeah, I don't think anyone is arguing that we should remove trash because some people have pet subjects that they will know really well - that goes against everything that pyramidal quiz bowl is about. It's entirely about the subject, and whether or not it is academic.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by ryandillon »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
ryandillon wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:
2. 1/1 Trash cannot affect a game's outcome more so than 1/1 of any other category.
Rebuttal: This is true. Trash cannot affect a game's outcome more so than questions in any other category. However, trash does affect the outcome of a game. One question can cause a potential 45 point swing (3 bonuses, 1 tossup, and 1 neg for the other team) in any game. However, the difference between trash questions and academic questions is that trash question reward non-academic knowledge. Quizbowl is an academic game. It would only be right to reward academic knowledge and not take non-academic knowledge into account.
.
Trash shouldn't be excessive, but it has carved a niche out for itself in NAQT and some housewrites (and to a lesser extent HSAPQ sets). I'm no advocate of it, although I do enjoy a good Ke$ha qusetion here or there, but if a kid's favorite singer/actor/team/player or whatever happens to come up, he's going to get it in the same fashion as if his favorite book, opera, painting, or his science fair project came up. So if by chance one of those things a kid is going to own comes up, you have to take it, whether it's trash or one of the "Big Four". If a kid powers Hamlet on the third word you would be upset, but you wouldn't propose to get rid of the question because you would look ridiculous. Just because trash doesn't sit well with a good amount of quizbowlers doesn't mean you can propose to get rid of it. Also, you shouldn't worry about trash being the deciding factor in a match. If a team wins with the trash then the losing team should have made it up somewhere else because while they were studying pages the winning team was busy listening to the Jonas Brothers or something.

Basically what I'm trying to say is none of us really care for trash, but if you can't grin and bear it, HSNCT is not the national tournament for you. NAQT has always had trash and I believe it won't stop in the near future.
When everyone else is making arguments about what ought to be, arguments about what is seem mighty incongruous! Your argument appears to be:
1. Tournaments have trash. I do not advocate it, but I enjoy it.
2. Quizbowlers convert trash questions because of knowledge of trash, much like how they convert academic questions.*
3. You have to accept that a player has converted a trash question.
4. The fact that players can power literature questions is not an argument against literature questions.
5. Trash has an immutable place in the distribution; we can't get rid of it just because we don't like it**
6. Those who lose matches because they don't convert the trash should have known more things as a result of having more time to study because they had to devote less time to watching B movies
7. No one likes trash (more than the "good amount" from earlier), but HSNCT should not reflect its customers' wishes, and everyone should just go to other tournaments exclusively instead of trying to fix this problem.

* source of that knowledge, and its value, being different: unaddressed
** other reasons to get rid of it: unaddressed
Look, all I'm saying is if somebody can actually get rid of trash then go do it. It just seems a little bit time-consuming to always have people posting about it.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by AKKOLADE »

I doubt the strategy of "find something I dislike, mention my displeasure with it once and then give up if nothing changes" is a very successful one.
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by Monk »

grapesmoker wrote: pretty entertaining but that's about it.
That sums up my opinion of transcendentalism. All of transcendentalism.

It occurs to me that any set-in-stone standard for what is academic would either be too inclusive (This Nobel laureate said something about graphic novels! They're in!) or could lead to violent purges of the canon.

Rutsky, as I prepare to go to U of I, I'm learning now that quizbowl is actually sort of worthless for college admissions - they see it as the unintellectual memorization it often is, and there are no quizbowl scholarships. Anyone who is really driven to get into a top college is playing the wrong game.

Edit: spelling
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Re: Trash in National Tournaments... Again

Post by grapesmoker »

Monk wrote:That sums up my opinion of transcendentalism. All of transcendentalism.
Well, there are plenty of things in the academic canon that I find dull or uninteresting. We're not seriously going to argue about whether transcendentalism is significant enough for inclusion in the canon, are we?
It occurs to me that any set-in-stone standard for what is academic would either be too inclusive (This Nobel laureate said something about graphic novels! They're in!) or could lead to violent purges of the canon.
I don't see why you would adopt such a standard. Again, we're not talking about borderline cases here (was Wilkie Collins Victorian trash? Down with tossups on The Moonstone!) but rather about things like TV shows, sports teams, etc. which are pretty much just entertainment products. Nothing wrong with entertainment products; some of my best friends watch Top Chef, but that doesn't mean Top Chef belongs anywhere near an academic tournament.
Rutsky, as I prepare to go to U of I, I'm learning now that quizbowl is actually sort of worthless for college admissions - they see it as the unintellectual memorization it often is, and there are no quizbowl scholarships. Anyone who is really driven to get into a top college is playing the wrong fame.
I think winning a national title probably counts for something, but not much more than that. College administrators don't really know about quizbowl, so it's not surprising that they don't take it too seriously. For my money, quizbowl is by far and away more intellectually stimulating than debate, which basically boils down to tricking your opponents into making mistakes rather than making good arguments, but adcoms aren't going to know that.
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