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A book to read

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Cross-X by Joe Miller

Publisher Farrar Straus Giroux, 2006

 

DDR told me about this book and I finally got it and have a good start in it. I am only about half through, but it is super-interesting and obviously offers lessons for all of us. Briefly, it is written by a journalist (who has no debate background before this ventrue) who follows the Kansas City Central High School debate team to tournaments, sits in on practices, etc. He then writes this story about them. They are a national circuit team primarily. Anyway, it is really a good book and I encourage you to find it, read it, and maybe discuss it. Headed back to read some more of it now.

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Don't waste your money. Joe Miller is not a good person and this book only tells the story of KCC, which if you don't know by now, you live in a hole.

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John, you're a moron. Cross-X is a pretty good look at the debate community. the fact that it is told from the perspective of KCC is a pretty good thing, because it provides a different perspective on what debate is and can be. have you read it? if you haven't, its safe to say that you should shut up.

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Well I'm only speaking from my two-week experience with him this summer at camp. Joe Miller was a lab leader of the exclusively non-traditional lab at UMKC. Rachel will vouch for everything hereonafter. Joe does not bother to hear anyone else's side of anything; the fact Rachel and I enjoy traditional debate arguements makes us racist, rich white kids, whose money buys us debate skills. This (being obviously not true) combined with the fact that this man has a closed-minded view of anyone who doesn't debate non-traditionally, have shaped my opinion on him as previously stated. So please don't call me a moron.

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Well I'm only speaking from my two-week experience with him this summer at camp. Joe Miller was a lab leader of the exclusively non-traditional lab at UMKC. Rachel will vouch for everything hereonafter. Joe does not bother to hear anyone else's side of anything; the fact Rachel and I enjoy traditional debate arguements makes us racist, rich white kids, whose money buys us debate skills. This (being obviously not true) combined with the fact that this man has a closed-minded view of anyone who doesn't debate non-traditionally, have shaped my opinion on him as previously stated. So please don't call me a moron.

having interacted with him for the last 4 or so years, that is not the impression that I have of Joe. I don't agree with him on everything either, but I think that from two charged weeks of debate camp, your perception of him may have been magnified by the situation. for instance, the book is not exactly a polemic against traditional debate or for 'nontraditional debate,' discussion of that subject is pretty restrained. you are entitled to your opinion of him as a person, but telling other people to ignore his book, without having read it yourself, does, in fact, make you a moron. sorry.

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Well then I appologize. I simply thought that the way he acted and expressed his opinions in the same manner for the entirety of two weeks was enough to fabricate an appropropriate opion of his views. That being said, I made the assumption that his views would be translated into his writings. Having not read his book (and having no intentions to), however, the previous statement may have been moronic and I appologize. I still maintain, though, that I am not a moron otherwise (most of the time). To say that I am otherwise seems quite ad hom-ish to me.

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So I live in a hole. . .I think there are others in this hole with me who have not heard the story. I am almost finished with it now and I still say that it is worth reading (ane then making comments).

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grr all those rich, white, male schools... that's how they're so good at debate, it's all those assistant coaches

 

The irony is that my partner's a girl and we have no assistant coaches, and don't travel the national circuit.

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I think KCC using rap during their debates only perpetuates stereotypes.

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Stop thinking in racist terms then.

 

Whoever left this neg rep, would you mind explaining what you mean? What is so racist about the statement that I made above?

 

I think it's pretty easy to agree with what John said earlier. If you're not with them, you're against them. Does that phrase ring a bell with anyone?

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u guys r all dumbasses. jus bcause the school is predominantly white and rich doesnt mean all the debaters are white, rich and have billions of assistant coach. Like me, im not white, im not rich, and our school only has one coach...but yes i do hate those rich white boys.

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u guys r all dumbasses. jus bcause the school is predominantly white and rich doesnt mean all the debaters are white, rich and have billions of assistant coach. Like me, im not white, im not rich, and our school only has one coach...but yes i do hate those rich white boys.

 

sneaky little spic

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he said he's a racist.

 

And in response to the person who loves internet jargon, I'm not rich, white, and have no coaches, yet still do well. That's the point. I don't understand why me saying that makes me a dumbass.

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Do I agree with the KCC 'movement'? No. Do I agree that the debate community is pretty much a bunch of masculinized caucasians out to make the event more exclusive to make it 'cooler'? Yes. Honestly, running faster on a football team is just common sense, and you don't really need an instructor to learn it. But speed debate and the stylistic approaches it's taken in the sake of it being 'funner' costs some kids thousands of dollars to achieve. Some kids, like myself, rarely have opportunities like that. My debate coaches until this year were lab leaders that I fundraised to get teaching from for two weeks every summer. I can agree that if I didn't work my ass off raising money and working to go to debate camp, I would never have caught on with the stylistic approach that so many people embrace in the event.

 

After reading Cross-x by Joe Miller, I felt his book was less about "You're racist if you <3 policymakers", but more of "Listen - things are fucked up - at least notice that." It seemed that Joe Miller's book about policy debate was much in the same fashion as Tim O'Brien's analysis in The Things They Carried. You get the sense of the message, but it's given in a legitimate perspective of somebody who's been there.

 

Having never met Joe Miller, I can't speak of his character, but I can say that his book, at the least, was enlightening as to how KCC views the debate world and why they think debate is in the state it's in.

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I read the book and it is worth reading. However, I feel like what UDL schools running the project are attempting to achieve and what they are actually achieving are extremely different. While I agree with the general movement, the way in which it is presented and the attitude that it is presented with merely achieves a sense of resentment. At best, kids go home after project rounds and find better ways to beat it, not ways in which they can further the movement.

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I read the book and it is worth reading. However, I feel like what UDL schools running the project are attempting to achieve and what they are actually achieving are extremely different. While I agree with the general movement, the way in which it is presented and the attitude that it is presented with merely achieves a sense of resentment. At best, kids go home after project rounds and find better ways to beat it, not ways in which they can further the movement.

 

I agree. Although I have yet to finish the book, I think the book probably acheives more in the way of opening people's eyes than the actual movement itself does.

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I think that the notion that you have to spend a shit ton of money on a debate camp to be good at national circuit-style debate is a bunch of crap. Anyone can sit down at home or at practice and do speed drills, research, read books, etc. If any of you remeber Allen Jones, he's a testiment to that. The kid never went to camp and still broke at almost every tournament he was at. Being good can be achieved through going to camp and having a lot of coaches, yes, but those aren't necessities. Going to debate camp to get better at debate is comperable to going to football camp to get better at football. Regardless, no high school activity is completely egalitiarian. It's usually the rich kids who start for the football team at big schools, cheerleading is hella expensive, and drama kids get better by spending money on camps/workshops too. Welcome to American society in general.

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this is a double post but whatever i just thought of something.

 

why is this whole going to camp argument even relevant? the entire KCC team was at camp this year, the same one we were at.

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i was really hoping i wouldn't have to dig back into this...but so it goes.

john, it's pretty clear that you don't have the full perspective on what Joe Miller is talking about when he writes about the national circuit. Allen Jones not going to camp and breaking at Millard North is far different than going to the Glenbrooks and MBA like where Miller followed Central. Through no fault of your own, you haven't really experienced what it was that Central was trying to break into. There is no chance that Allen could have consistently beaten teams like Greenhill, MBA, either of the Glenbrooks, schools, even Valley or CR Wash one state over without a good deal more work. And even if you were capable of coming up with a person who succeeded at the highest levels of debate without camp, that person would be a pretty major exception. And, they would either need a ridiculously rich school or be quite rich themselves to travel to the tournaments that would be necessary to improve their debate skills to the point of being competitive. You know how expensive it would have been to make it to Dowling, know then that it is one of the smaller, cheaper tournaments that qualify as "national circuit"--even then, in truth, it is more regional than it is national.

 

Regarding Central and camp, my response might be that a.) Central gets opportunities that others schools don't in terms of UDL money and fundraising, and b.) the camp you're talking about is UMKC. not that it's a bad camp or experience, but it's not DDI, etc. Camps that attract top natl circuit debaters generally run upwards of $3000 for 3-4 weeks.

 

Miller's work is not really a criticism of Kearney or any other school on the Nebraska circuit at the moment. (Perhaps in the past it might have applied to places like Creighton Prep, Westside, Millard West--it doesn't now) Actually, it's not even a criticism of individual debaters or squads like MBA/Greenhill/the Glenbrooks--it's a criticism of the system, and "the project" an attempt to correct it. His criticism is more of people who defend debate as excluding alternative forms of debate which may increase participation. Now, I have not had the conversations with Joe that you have, and in that respect I may be giving him more credit than is due, but this is what the argument is actually about. I am not really a huge advocate of alternative forms of debate myself, although I am quite sympathetic to these observations regarding the state of debate.

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i hate to be a shitface, but i'm gonna read the book before i say anything else, because this has become increasingly intriguing to me. i guess that i thought the whole point of his criticism was the elitist aspect of national circuit-style debating, because thats all i've experienced of him, via his lecture with a former louisville debater at camp, and those lectures most definately pointed in that direction. but yeah im gonna borrow this book and read it now.

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first thing: Cross-X is in fact more a narrative than an argumentative book, so you won't encounter much of a specifically developed argument until near the end--and even then a lot of the argument is implied. You'll find that a lot of the book isn't really about the debate circuit at all, it's about class and race in the education system.

 

second thing: it is partly his argument that national-circuit style debate is exclusive or elitist--and to an extent that is obvious--it's not accessible to the public, and requires no small amount of initiation to even compete at a varsity level. But the biggest criticisms he has simply don't apply to most teams in Nebraska, whether he knows that or made that distinction to you. There aren't the coaching disparities, the camp emphases, etc.

 

At the end of the day, I know a lot of people who don't think a lot of Joe as a person, though I have no such problem. But his argument is pretty much dead-on--a few years of perspective on the event have made that clear to me. I don't necessarily think that "alternative" forms of debate are the answer, but his observations about debate are very much worth reading.

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So what about Marcus Leach and Brandon Dial? They went to KCC and got several TOC bids, placed 13th (I think) at NFL. Guess what type of debate they did.... speed and spread. Leach loves politics and still runs them when he debates for UMKC. OH, and guess what camps some kids from KCC get to go to for free... Miami Ohio and northwestern, not to mention the 10 or so kids they send each year to UMKC. KCC and schools like KCC are not excluded against any more than other schools, and even at that, they can win without pissing people off and making a fake change. Every school has the cards stacked against them when they enter the nat. circuit, whether it's my school (which the closest I will ever get to the nat circuit is Jenks) or KCC everybody has to work their ass off to be good. Why should KCC or Lincoln or any other highschool that runs performance style arguments get a competitive advantage just because their school is "poor". They shouldn't. Every school has to work hard to establish itself in the nat circuit. Case in point, SME. They were unknown on the nat circuit five years ago, and now people don't want to hit them. They busted their asses to establish themselves. Schools like GBN or GBS or New Trier or Bellarmine... they have established themselves, and shouldn't be punished for it.

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