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mld last won the day on November 15 2013

mld had the most liked content!

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About mld

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    No, I am not Wallace Stevens. Thanks for playing, though.
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  1. Participation has been dropping for decades. There are a number of reasons for this, but very few that have an obvious solution. 1) It's expensive to travel the national circuit and attend the best camps. This means those with less money (for the most part, I'm interested in trends, not exceptions to the rule) seldom see the kind of competition that makes them better. 2) Wealthier people get better educations, meaning the reading comprehension and thinking skills needed to read (and understand) critical literature (or even high quality policy literature, for that matter) is more likely to occur in private schools and public schools with the sorts of homogeneous populations that allow for more accelerated instruction. If you've only been exposed to the best instruction, you have no idea how much some people struggle with even basic literacy, much less the sort of literacy needed to read Foucault or Deleuze. 3) The activity is so time-consuming that it prices out many lower income students who don't have the luxury of not having to hold down a part-time job. Less available time translates into less commitment. 4) The activity has become more and more specialized. It's not enough to have a fairly solid grasp of the topic and keep up with current events (as it used to be). Now one also has to have a grasp of a vast critical literature and be prepared for dozens of very specific politics scenarios that change from week to week. Asking for this level of commitment, reading, and intelligence is a hard sell to high school students. 5) This specialization has made hiring and retaining qualified coaches difficult in many areas. Similarly, unless one is lucky enough to debate near a college program, it's hard to find qualified judges. Both of these obviously impact the quality of debates. 6) There are more alternatives now. PF and Congress don't require nearly as much of a commitment, and even though the lines between policy and LD are blurring (and have been blurring for at least a decade), the round is still half as long, and the topics change often enough to prevent over-specialization. 7) The technical demands of flowing, speaking (including speaking at speed), and understanding how arguments interact is daunting. To ask high school students to engage in an activity in which they are probably going to suck for a year or two is, again, a hard sell-- especially since novice divisions are being phased out in many areas because of declining participation. In short, the activity (at the highest levels) has become more and more elite. How one could put that genie back in the bottle-- assuming it would even be a good idea to do so (and I, for one, do not think that it is)-- is anybody's guess.
  2. This was an interesting exchange, even if it might not have direct application to the position you are running, so I thought I'd post the link for those who are interested... http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/15/pussy-riot-nadezhda-tolokonnikova-slavoj-zizek
  3. To clarify, Eichmann claimed to be following orders, but, as you point out, as a moral salve it doesn't hold quite hold water, and to be fair, Arendt doesn't buy it either. Whether she exaggerated the degree to which Eichmann saw himself as just another bureaucrat doing his duty (as opposed to being motivated by religious and racial hatred as some of her critics have contended), I still believe her essential point to be correct insofar as Eichmann clearly took pride not so much in the killings themselves, but in the administrative and technical problems that he had solved in making them possible. At the very least, it's an object lesson in how easy it is to be co-opted into a morally questionable system without necessarily being virulently supportive of the ends of the system itself. If you're interested in the mechanics of the Holocaust, the standard reference is Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews. Even in its abridged version, the amount of detail Hilberg documents in codifying the scope, dimension, and method of the genocide is astonishing.
  4. This is certainly one of the takeaway ideas of Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, though she would have disagreed with the main thesis, as the "banality of evil" seems to stem precisely from our lack of emotional engagement with our fellows. e.g., Eichmann's protestation that he was just following orders in the best and most efficient manner he could devise. One of the myths she is so anxious to puncture is that the Nazis were a bunch of psychopaths, somehow fundamentally different than you and me, though this idea's opposite (that there's an inner Nazi inside all of us) is rejected as well. Nonetheless, our own complicity in both the evil that befalls us and the evil that is perpetrated in our names is an idea that reoccurs throughout-- to the point that you become increasingly frustrated with human selfishness, greed, and willful moral blindness. I'm not suggesting, however, that Arendt would be helpful in cutting the Kritik, though I wish more people would read the book (as I would the works of Primo Levi), since what is so often taught in high schools and universities is the cartoon version of history where the moral of the story is always neat and tidy-- all the better to not really engage how such a thing was not only possible, but practically encouraged by our own failings as individuals and societies.
  5. Let me preface this by stating that I find the entire idea suspect. The word for "suffering" in the Pali canon is duḥkha, a term much closer to "unease" or "anguish" in its most literal sense. Duḥkha is categorized into pain (self-explanatory), change (the fact that all pleasure is transitory, creating uncertainty and unease even within the experience of pleasure), and conditions (that pleasure and pain are intimately bound together). You group emptiness with anxiety and depression, but emptiness is the opposite of both, since anxiety and depression stem from attachment. Emptiness implies a cessation (Pali: nirodha) of desire, which is obviously the goal (at least in Theravada traditions), as the key to cessation of duḥkha is the non-occurrence of that which engenders duḥkha (taṇhÄ, or “desireâ€). If you mean, instead, “A sad feeling one gets when you don’t get what you want, feeling the lack of the thing you desire,†then use a term that is more precise. “Desire†in the Pali Canon is taṇhÄ, a word that literally means “thirst,†as one thirsts after pleasure. It is the root of duḥkha because it can never be finally satisfied. One can, after all, long for non-existence as much as long for existence. All beliefs, desires, and feelings stem from taṇhÄ, but in a world in constant flux (Pali: anicca), one can never hold onto the things one craves. Cessation of desire means losing the urge to hold onto things. The second part of your formulation, to “embrace suffering as we embrace the world around us as something we are all interconnected with†is wrong to the core, as one should be renouncing attachment, not embracing it, removing oneself from the cycle of rebirth (samsara) rather than accepting it (much less embracing it). Even in the Mahayana tradition, where the emphasis is not upon the personal realization of nirvÄṇa /nibbana, the great compassion one feels is not for the world as it is, but for the beings that inhabit it-- moving all to understand the truth (dhárma /dhamma), moving all to find enlightenment. You also imply that truth and value concepts are subjectively experienced, and therefore how we experience them depends upon how we view them. This is inaccurate. While the Buddha sees these ideas as relatively experienced (at least in the Sutta Nipata), they are still part of the causal pattern of the world (as the world consists not only of physical objects but volitions and desires). If one can pacify dispositions, however, along with the attainment of freedom (nirvÄṇa /nibbana), one can understand truth and falsehood as they really are. Truth, in other words, is experienced relatively only because we are limited by our own attachments. Dharma/dhamma, on the other hand, is eternal. You need to drop all mention of souls, over or otherwise, as Buddhism denies the existence of souls altogether. An oversoul is a concept much more in alignment with Jaina or Hindu beliefs. Ä€tman (Pali: Atta) is sometimes translated as “soul,†and perhaps that’s what you mean, though it really means “self†or “ego.†Most Buddhist traditions stress non-Ätman, certainly, but you equating it’s renunciation to achieving a collective and undifferentiated Ätman is simply erroneous, unless what you meant to say is that we are all united by our own potential to achieve Buddhahood (usually called "Buddha nature" in English)-- a positive theorization of Ätman (equated with true self) in some Mahayana traditions (especially Zen). Even then, however, awakening to one’s “true self†means a rejection of one’s “ego self.†A unity of Buddha nature/the world (a key concept in Zen-- a doctrine derived, in part, from the Lotus SÅ«tra), does not imply, in other words, a unity of identity (as identity is itself a manifestation of desire). Are you trying to make policy implications? Wouldn’t it make more sense to re-conceptualize the role of the ballot as an intellectual/individual advocacy on the part of the judge, abandoning altogether the fiction of policy making? It would certainly be more consistent with Buddhist ideas.
  6. It's probably a Spanos K, or at least that's what we used to call it at TX in the mid-1990s.
  7. mld

    Object Fiat

    I do not believe that one has to identify an actual policy making entity in order to see CPs as an opportunity cost to plan. Simply viewing the judge as the USFG (i.e., the actor in the resolution) limits the scope of CPs to predictable limits, keeps the idea of a forced choice, while eliminating the fiction of role-playing Congress, the executive, or the courts. It limits the debate, in other words, to the question of, "What should the USFG do about this problem?" which is obviously what the resolution demands. I don't want to hijack the thread to offer a theoretical defense of opportunity costs vs. best policy option (I'm too busy right now to actually debate it, anyway), but I believe an opportunity cost model to be a much more real world way of deciding issues (while admitting that no model is going to be a perfect fit). If (in number 2) you're talking about rounds that argue for a change in the role of the ballot into something other than a consideration of a counterfactual alternative to the status quo, then obviously traditional justifications for CPs would have to be altered to fit the circumstances of the round. I'm having a hard time envisioning a round, however, where negs are articulating the kinds of things you're talking about in (2) as a CP (as opposed to a critical argument-- a Kritik or performance). If this is not what you meant, I'm just not following your argument here.
  8. mld

    Object Fiat

    If the aff advantages are based in improvement in the Latin American economy, then an object fiated CP would be problematic for the aff. If the aff advantages are, on the other hand, a result of engagement, then the CP would not be competitive (as the aff would always maintain a comparative advantage, since a country can't engage with itself). The first solution, then, would seem to be to run an aff that is not approximately topical, i.e., one that does not treat the word "engagement" as synonymous with "investment" (or some related term). The real solution, I would argue, is to adopt an opportunity cost theoretical paradigm for evaluating CPs instead of a comparison of best policy options. At the very least, there should be (as a theoretical test) some notion of choice between two options (or else it isn't competitive), and there is no policy making entity who controls the domestic policies of multiple countries. The neg will disguise the lack of competition by running a disad as a net benefit, but I believe affs should be attacking such CPs on a theoretical level as well (just like they should with all CPs using international fiat, state government CPs, or consult CPs).
  9. Neg definitely has an advantage in LD. The times are set up in such a way that it incentivizes negs to spread affs out of the round. Even with the widespread acceptance of an offense/defense decision making paradigm, I'm not so sure this is the case in policy debate. The aff still has absolute control over the amount of work they put into their 2AC/1AR blocks, and a lot more of the round is (or should be) predictable. If you're halfway decent, for example, I don't see much excuse for losing to the same argument twice on the aff. If you're debating policy in more traditional areas, there's a marked side bias for the aff, but I'm not sure about the numbers of debaters in more traditional circuits (slower, less likely to see critical arguments, strong belief in presumption) versus more progressive circuits.
  10. While I agree that it does keep the flow neater, I would point out that there are sometimes very strategic reasons for breaking the 2AC order. It is irritating for the 1AR to sift through two flows (overview and proper) and, assuming that the overview actually includes new links or offense, it increases the chances that something important will be missed. You typically try to intentionally junk up the flow like this when 1) you don't really have good links, and you're trying to paper over this uncomfortable fact with lots of ink on the flow (note how I date myself with choice of metaphors), 2) you're facing an opponent that, all things being equal, is better than you, and you're hoping to balance out the disparity in skills by being shady, hoping for a small concession or the mishandling of sand-bagged offense, or 3) the 2A is solid, but the 1A is weak, and you're trying to spread him/her out of the round by tempting the 1AR into a line-by-line on both flows. In doing this, what typically happens is the 1AR sticks to the 2AC order and makes cross-applications or ignores the overview altogether. This gives the 2N some lee-way to claim important things were dropped, even if they weren't. Note I'm not advocating this as a day-to-day strategy or even suggesting it is successful most of the time, nor am I disputing that intentionally messing up the flow tends to alienate the judge (I should know).
  11. Speed. It was about ten years ago when I started hearing LDers speaking as quickly as a fast, competitive policy round. At first it was only a few travelling the national circuit, then all of sudden everyone was spreading (or trying to spread). Policy arguments. Ten years ago if you had talked about CPs, topicality, disads, or uniqueness to 85% of LDers, you would have gotten a puzzled stare. Also, in early LD the value was more important than the criterion; the shift to impacts stemming from the standard had already been made, but the value was still very important. This is much less true today. Critical arguments. Ten years ago you were more likely to hear LDers talk about Aristotle and Locke than Zizek or Foucault. This trend was already underway ten years ago, but it has certainly accelerated. Theory. LD has always been under-theorized, and it was about a decade ago that people started to wake up to this and exploit it. Miscellaneous burdens started appearing all over the flow. Theory arguments began to have standards for evaluation. The breakdown in the traditional value/value criterion structure. Rolling without both of these, both clearly labeled, would have translated into a loss on many circuits ten years ago. Decline of big picture debaters. Ten years ago pretty speakers who did a lot of grouping were still competitive at the highest levels of the activity. The shift was starting, however, to line-by-line debaters who could actually flow the round (LD flows used to be notoriously bad). One less minute of prep. This is huge, especially for preparing the 1AR. More straightforward case design. Even without cross-ex, you knew exactly where the offense was in the constructives. It was clearly labeled, and debaters typically had one clear path to victory. Offense is much more likely to disguised today, providing more flexibility in the rebuttal speeches. Today's debaters are more likely to write cases where they have two or three ways they can possibly win the round.
  12. I love case debate; I really do, but I wonder whether encouraging more of it just sets high school debaters up for failure. Given the prevalence of people willing to vote on what they perceive to be a 1% chance of solvency (despite the fact that nobody, barring idiots of course, uses this decision making model in real life), I worry this sets up people for disappointment. As much as I would love to see a resurgence of people making actual inherency claims (status quo solves some percentage of harms, not plan is being done now), alternative causality arguments, and solvency take outs, I can almost hear the chorus of objectors intoning, "Where's the offense?" and opting out of the intellectual effort of honestly evaluating risk in the debate round. It's not that things were uniformly better in "the good old days" (defined here as the shift from specific strategies to generic strategies that seemed to reach a tipping point in the mid-to-late-1990s), but there was much more of a willingness to evaluate the degree to which mitigation of risk made endorsing a particular idea untenable (whether we're talking about an affirmative advantage or the internal links in a disad). Superior debaters can win bucking the prevailing trends, of course, but superior debaters can win with any strategy (because they are superior, not necessarily because their arguments are).
  13. This seems like a bit of a caricature of Buddhism to me. It's a cod-Theravada position, the kind of New Age, hippy drippy Buddhism popularized in the West before anybody really took the time to take a close look at how the religion is actually practiced in its place of origin. The alternative is to meditate, but the fact that you're advocating meditating to save the world completely misunderstands the First Noble Truth, viz. that life is dukkha (suffering); in other words the advocacy is make life better by doing X, but the idea that you can make life better in the first place entrenches dukkha, as it increases attachment, when the goal should be to let go. Badiner (whose quals are a bit suspect in the first place) seems to mostly get this (though claiming that the goal of samÄdhi, what he is calling "awareness", is to increase happiness makes me wonder), but the position wants to weigh the alternative like an impact (if we don't do this = bad stuff will happen); it's taking him out of context and a contradiction of the Third Noble Truth (which teaches that we should be letting go, not trying to preserve or save). As written, I believe the position turns itself. I'm also curious how eager teams will be to defend concepts like samsara and karma, which are assumed by any coherent Buddhist practice, or why anyone would be in a hurry to advocate positions in a round that can only be justified by faith, not reason (unless one's reasoning is circular). Maybe I'm just a grouchy old man, but this idea seems a little suspect from the start.
  14. It's a statistics blog. Silver uses a lot of indicators (with polling data comprising the majority) to create mathematic probabilities. Sam Wang is doing something similar at the Princeton Election Consortium (and has even better odds for Obama to win according to his model): http://election.princeton.edu/.
  15. Performance Debate Good Or Bad? Bad debating is bad. Good debating is good. There's really no other generalization one can make beyond this.
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