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madmadmurrell

2009-10 NFHS Topic Selection Meeting, Live From Austin!

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The only problem that will face affirmatives this time with a space topic is shuttle gap. In 2011 the shuttle goes away (after it completes one final mission to take a Japanese component to the ISS) - then, the US will have no vehicle for human missions until 2015 or 16..that means that any CP that does the plan with Russia handling the mission vehicle is a solid NEG win. The only cases the Aff can run, until Constelation comes on line, are sattelite launch cases and deep space probe cases, stuff like this - asteroid mining is over until we actually have a vehicle that can take humans out there...It is a flaw in the topic..but Space is still a great topic.

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The scenarios are okay. Not great... just okay. But the plan areas are so boring. At least my plans on other topics are entertaining. Its fun trying to explain how prostitutes are needed to boost military readiness. Not as much fun trying to explain why we need to cap campaign financing.

 

 

As for FF... any chance you want to try contacting Shuman to agree to play? I think the game just wont be as much fun without him....

 

Boring hell. It will give me even more reason to rewatch my West Wing DVDs. And I bet I could find some good narratives there!

 

As for Shuman, I think he posted here in July. I'll venture an email. But it's your fault if he comes back to cross-x! ;)

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he doesnt have to come back to cross-x. just FF

the game isnt the same without him.

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Is there even that many plans that could be made to support universal health care? What if our next President does it?

 

I personally find the health care resolution really upsetting because it gives an extreme amount of ground to the neg. I mean the neg is always prepared for the aff and there are barely any differences.

 

Am I wrong? I could be pretty dumb...

 

The last time we debated health care the topic wording was pretty narrow and there were only a handful of topical Affs; on the other hand, the Affs had some of the more compelling evidence out so that served to balance out Neg's "ground" advantage. I had really young teams that year and NO one went to camp, so we started the year with zero files. We concentrated on good case-side solvency debate on Neg and then on Aff ran non-topical Affs that didn't link to any of the big Neg positions...then worked like crazy on T responses. It actually worked out pretty well for us, considering our experience level.

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Let me first say that I haven't read the literature; I'm only operating off of what others have said about the literature.

 

QFA.

 

I'm willing to be educated and listen with an open ear. If there's more stuff out there, by all means, tell me about it. I'm not opposed to it as a topic at all.

 

Again, QFA.

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I'm not debating in college next year, but i would KILL for the poverty topic. Space sounds cool, but i'm not a fan of the wording of the topic, I think its too big.

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My immediate reaction upon reading the slate of topics for 2009-2010 is how similar they look to the topics from the early 90's. Very similar wordings, very similar topics - the correlation was eerie:

 

 

Resolved: The United States federal government should significantly increase its exploration and/or its development of space beyond Earth's mesosphere.

 

Resolved: The United States federal government should establish a universal health care system in the United States.

 

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially decrease its restriction of immigration to the United States.

 

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase social services for persons living in poverty in the United States.

 

.

 

(1994-1995) Resolved: That the United States government should substantially strengthen regulation of immigration to the United States.

 

(1993-1994) Resolved: That the federal government should guarantee comprehensive national health insurance to all United States citizens.

 

(1991-1992) Resolved: That the federal government should significantly increase social services to homeless individuals in the United States.

 

(1990-1991) Resolved: That the United States government should significantly increase space exploration beyond the Earth's mesosphere.

 

 

Other than the Ill-Fated "Trade and/or Aid policy" topic from 92-93, they have covered every topic, and only election reform was not debated back then. Now, I don't think that this is a bad thing. Certainly, only a small percentage of current coaches were coaching back then, and very few current debaters were even born, so all of these topics would be "new" to almost everyone. And, I don't think that it is even a good idea to always try and find something "new" to debate each year. A different method might be to look back at what has "worked" in the past. Which topics provided the best debates and were the favorites of the people who debated and coached them. With that in mind, I'd like to give some comments about how those past topics worked out, and how the current ones might learn from those.

 

Space - The original space topic had "beyond the Earth's mesosphere" added at the beginning of the summer to avoid teams advocating "self reflection". Which turned out to be unnecessary - most teams liked debating outer space impacts anyway. Far and Away the most popular case (like 60-70 percent of aff teams - the most I've ever seen on a topic) was Asteroid Tracking. 10,000 bucks, two dedicated telescopes in AZ, and the public already thought we were doing it. No real reason not to do it. A big issue was if it was topical to explore the earth from space, to explore space from the earth, or whether you had to goto space to explore space. A VERY aff biased topic, but there weren't really yet any kritiks, Agenda politics disads were still un-developed, and most judges didn't accept PICs. So, yeah - Aff biased. A good topicality violation that year was exploration vs development - the new topic would probably be better if it only allowed development and not exploration. Also, adding the term "its" does a good job to limit outlandish cases. But with space, part of the point is to allow outlandish cases.

 

Social Services - the mechanism (social services) is probably more important to determining ground than the target group (homeless vs those in poverty) - I would expect that many of the same cases would be topical. States / Spending or States/Politics was a nearly universal negative strategy. Kritiks will obviously give a lot more weight to some of the case arguments that we made back then but which were ignored. PICs out of specific groups, like Amish or Christian Scientists, began to gain traction. The most popular case was Clean Needle Exchange/AIDs education. Neg biased topic - hard to beat states on this issue. No one that I recall who debated/coached on this topic had anything positive to say about it.

 

Universal Health Care System -the wording here is pretty different, but I would expect that most of the cases would be similar. The political situation was even very similar - this was the year Clinton was pushing a form of Managed Care, so the issue changed weekly. This is BY FAR the narrowest of topics, because while there are a lot of issues related to health care, Very Few of them are discussed as Universal Systems. We had 4 cases run that year - Managed Competition, Single Payer, Rationing, and Free Market Solutions. There was variety among those cases, but by and large, most teams ran some version of those four. Those four compete with each other within the literature as competitive policy options, with actual comparative solvency and net benefit cards (cards would Actually say "Doing Managed Comp and SPS at the same time would not solve as well as SPS alone.") The depth of case debates was Unprecedented. Again, Kritiks and PICs were still pretty new then, so this topic would look different. Opinions were pretty extreme about this topic. There are quite a few of us who think that this was the best worded/debated topic that we ever had. The New one looks to replicate the best aspects of the old one.

 

Immigration - while the topics are worded in opposite directions (strengthen regulation vs decrease restriction) in fact that year most teams decreased restrictions and said that this was a way to strengthen the system. Because increasing restriction, while it has adherents in the real world for political reasons, is pretty indefensible in debate rounds. At least the specific restrictions that we tend to focus on. There are some restrictions (Marielitos, unaccompanied minors, HIV positive immigrants, LGBT immigrants) that really can't be defended. IDK how many of those still exist, but they were really hard cases to debate on that topic, except that you could run Topicality. On this topic, they would be near impossible to beat. Even hard to K, given that restrictive laws would be decreased. If you want this topic, you have to prepare for Not debating about immigration or restriction or anything brought up in the 1AC - you will debate Congress vs Courts vs Executive 100% of the time. And if the HIV ban still exists in any form, I would think that that would be the most popular case.

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As someone who debated the healthcare and immigration topics... Tim's characterization is pretty accurate as far as I recall.

 

The only difference is that no one in my area ran any of the cases Tim mentions on immigration. And I ran a case on H1 visa allotment. I thought it was pretty fun.

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Immigration - while the topics are worded in opposite directions (strengthen regulation vs decrease restriction) in fact that year most teams decreased restrictions and said that this was a way to strengthen the system. Because increasing restriction, while it has adherents in the real world for political reasons, is pretty indefensible in debate rounds. At least the specific restrictions that we tend to focus on. There are some restrictions (Marielitos, unaccompanied minors, HIV positive immigrants, LGBT immigrants) that really can't be defended. IDK how many of those still exist, but they were really hard cases to debate on that topic, except that you could run Topicality. On this topic, they would be near impossible to beat. Even hard to K, given that restrictive laws would be decreased. If you want this topic, you have to prepare for Not debating about immigration or restriction or anything brought up in the 1AC - you will debate Congress vs Courts vs Executive 100% of the time. And if the HIV ban still exists in any form, I would think that that would be the most popular case.

 

Several of these cases were run on the Civil Liberties topic in 2005-2006, so nobody who was on that topic will still be debating. I think that a lot of the cases you identify don't have much recent literature on them, or the laws that affect them have been modified over the past 15 years. The unaccompanied minors thing, for example, was changed around quite a bit when they folded the INS into ICE (plus some paranoid guys wrote a lot about it after 9/11 so there are specific links to a couple of disadvantages). On a lot of the other cases you mention, there's just not been much of anything written about them since the early 90s, which kind of makes them unattractive (or at least did back in 2006, I don't know if anything's changed since then). I only saw an HIV exclusion case once, although I did get my ass kicked by it.

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I concur with much of what Tim said, especially on the immigration topic. Ugh....I'm still getting junk mail from anti-immigration groups we contacted regarding materials on that one.....the anti-immigration crowd is in bed with some decidedly unsavory groups.

 

SS for the homeless wasn't my favorite topic ever, though it was far from the worst ever. I remember some decidedly creative cases (like more free toilets in public parks) making for some funny rounds. And I remember taking a whole group of my novice debaters to the public library for research...since it was 104 degrees in Tulsa that day, many of our truly homeless were also in the library to get out of the heat. One particularly clueless library assistant literally yelled across the reading area to one of my debaters: "Young man...are you the one who wanted the books about how all the homeless people have AIDS?"

 

Space: as I've warned in here earlier, this won't be anywhere NEAR as broad & expansive as people seem to think it will be. Time frames on most DAs will overwhelm the case scenarios.

 

Health Care: Yes it was narrow; Tim has it right with his count of 4 topical Affs. But he's also right that the level of case-side debate was amazing. I'd vote for it in a heartbeat.

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Several of these cases were run on the Civil Liberties topic in 2005-2006, so nobody who was on that topic will still be debating. I think that a lot of the cases you identify don't have much recent literature on them, or the laws that affect them have been modified over the past 15 years. The unaccompanied minors thing, for example, was changed around quite a bit when they folded the INS into ICE (plus some paranoid guys wrote a lot about it after 9/11 so there are specific links to a couple of disadvantages). On a lot of the other cases you mention, there's just not been much of anything written about them since the early 90s, which kind of makes them unattractive (or at least did back in 2006, I don't know if anything's changed since then). I only saw an HIV exclusion case once, although I did get my ass kicked by it.

 

I'm going to disagree on the recency of immigration literature. Post-9/11 lit deals with tons of immigration issues. The bib on the topic paper barely begins to scratch the surface. Though some specific case areas from the 94-95 topic may not have legs, there's as many or more areas that make up for it. People can vote against immigration all they want, but don't vote against for lack of recent lit. It's out there.

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The Straw Vote for 2010-11

 

Remember a couple of things. First, this list is generated by submissions in the room and is typically an afterthought to the meeting. Second, every person in the room gets as many votes as possible, and it's only to see whether or not there's interest in a topic. Third, the votes aren't binding in any way. Fourth, NFHS tries to get the top four or five areas written, but authors can write about virtually anything they want. Fifth, the topic is mandated to be an international topic, so keep that in mind when you're looking at generic, non-international areas. Sixth, it's obvious that some submissions have no direction and no legs (for example, someone submitted the two word topic area "human rights" with no direction, geographical limiters, or really anything of help to a potential author).

 

And the biggest caveat: If you want to write a paper, DO NOT just pick a topic and write. You need to first, figure out how you're getting to Niagra Falls next August, and second, understand that if you speak for a topic and then don't write a paper, your topic won't be represented at all. The last couple of years, there have been a number of GOOD topics that were spoken for and then didn't get written about, which is simply terrible. You really can't do anything until you contact the person in charge of the list and the entire process, which is Kent Summers at NFHS. You can find his email address on the NFHS website.

 

The Results (an asterisk denotes that the topic has been spoken for, and there were about 40 people in the room):

 

1. China (including human rights) - 32*

2. U.S. Military Overseas Deployment - 28*

3. Latin America - 27

4. Russia - 27*

5. China (economic relations) - 26* (being collapsed with human rights)

6. Syria/Iran/Basically The College Topic - 26

7. Free Trade in the Americas - 25

8. India - 25

9. EU - 24

10. Central Asia - 23

11. Human Trafficking - 22*

12. International Food Policy - 22

13. World Hunger - 22

14. Southeast Asia - 22*

15. South America - 20

16. Cuba - 18*

17. US/UN Refugee Policy - 16

18. Human Rights - 13

19. Global War on Terror - 9

20. Drug Trafficking - 9

21. Global Warming - 7

22. Afghanistan - 7

23. Japan - 5

24. International Economics - 5

25. Genocide - 4

26. United Nations Reform - 4

27. Iraq - 2

28. Iran - 1

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I'm going to disagree on the recency of immigration literature. Post-9/11 lit deals with tons of immigration issues. The bib on the topic paper barely begins to scratch the surface. Though some specific case areas from the 94-95 topic may not have legs, there's as many or more areas that make up for it. People can vote against immigration all they want, but don't vote against for lack of recent lit. It's out there.

 

Sorry, I didn't mean to be unclear. There's a lot of great recent literature. I was speaking specifically to the supposedly "unbeatable" casese from 94-95, that I'm not sure have very recent lit (AIDS exclusion, etc).

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Sorry, I didn't mean to be unclear. There's a lot of great recent literature. I was speaking specifically to the supposedly "unbeatable" casese from 94-95, that I'm not sure have very recent lit (AIDS exclusion, etc).

 

No worries. I agree with you. In writing the paper, it was clear that the bulk of "unbeatable" literature would be geared more towards political and religious refugees. It's not impossible to find, but even stuff like FGM literature is much more obscure now than in 94-95.

 

I agree with Tim on a lot of levels; I believe the judging community now is going to be very unreceptive to "close the borders" type arguments, but there is A LOT more of that lit post-9/11 from both the right and the left which gives the neg more options. But ultimately, it's hard to see a better neg strategy to some of the asylum literature than Congress/XO/Courts.

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Why did Iran only get one vote? I can't think of a more dynamic and relevant topic. H.

 

After the Iran/Syria topic came up, someone said "That's the outgoing college topic," and then nobody voted for Iran when it came up.

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