Search This Blog

Friday, December 1, 2017

What I Wish I'd Known in High School Speech and Debate

I'm ending my three-year hiatus from using this blog. I missed this.

Let me catch you guys up. I know this is going to sound pretty braggadocious, but I want you to know I come from a place of experience and (somewhat?) know what I'm talking about.

After graduating high school as the head student coach and team captain I went on to form my own speech and debate team with a few of my friends. Due to college and one of us getting engaged and jobs and things we couldn't keep up the project, but I was so proud of the work we did and the individual mentoring model we developed.

I took a year off from competing because the university I was at didn't have a team. However, this year I transferred and am already co-captain of my collegiate team and a member of Pi Kappa Delta (collegiate debate honors society). I also discovered IPDA and Model UN. Holla.

I saw a massive shift in my performance and my experience in high school and college. Its true college is very different than high school - it was more than that. I had a year of alumni coaching, judging tournaments, and mulling over what I could have done better.

Now I'm winning trophies and hitting finals and semi-finals: first, second, and third place. I'm not just barely squeaking by into breaking either. Things I only did once in high school.

I admit in high school I wasn't a fantastic debater. Although I qualified for nationals all of my high school years, I always broke very low. I was, to be bluntly honest, one of the worst good debaters. Or a really good bad debater. This isn't mean to put down anyone who didn't do as well as I did - but I wish I had done better. I wish I had known what I do now.

Pride Will Destroy You

I say after I bragged of all of my achievements.

Really though, I spent so much time being angry and proud. Blaming the judges, blaming my competitors, blaming even my own teammates. I worked as hard as I could - but I also refused to acknowledge for a long time there's more than one way to debate. You can probably tell if you've read my old blog posts that I had a hard time accepting other practices or opinions.

I thought there was a "right way" to debate and if you didn't do it my way you were silly or unethical. No matter how many rounds I lost because of it, I was stubborn. And I resented people who were stubbornly attached to their own way of debating - so I was hypocritical. I tended to be resentful and bitter. That was what soured a lot of my debate experiences and ended up causing some drama in my upperclassman years when clashed with other people with similar attitudes.

Tournaments Aren't Social Events

Kicking off your shoes, taking off your jacket, messy eating and loud chatting and talking crap about people is generally a bad idea.

Appearance is Important.

I cringe so hard when I look at my old debate photos. My hair was frizzy and oily and unstyled and probably looked worse due than it did normally due to tournament frazzlement. I didn't figure out how makeup worked until I was an upperclassman. And when I didn't, I didn't wear hardly anything or know what was flattering.

I agree rounds should be won on words and not looks, but if you look like a hobo in a suit or dead then it's hard to look past that. And on very little sleep and no makeup, you look dead. I don't know how guys do it.

The advice I wish I would have gotten: wear the same amount of makeup you would on a stage or close to it. Instagram type stuff. Even guys should consider blush and foundation honestly. Use your dark lipsticks and your highlight. Despite what every overly conservative mom told me growing up it will not make you look like "a prostitute". Cover up your undereye circles. Buy makeup that stays on all day and doesn't smear. If you can handle stilettos, rock those stilettos.

Be that weirdo that carries a mini sewing kit and know a few basic stitches including how to fix a button back on. If you don't have the time to straighten or curl your hair for an hour in the morning, ladies, cut it all off. I did. Use that extra hour of sleep.

Don't have a club lint roller. Everyone has a personal lint roller. Guys are stuck ironing their clothes, but girls if you can find any business apparel that doesn't require it do that. That gives you yet another hour of sleep.

I know I'm acting like I know everything and contradicting my first piece of advice, but please please learn from my mistakes. I never once used an iron all five years of high school competition. I competed with yogurt on my pants and hair on my jacket and bags under my eyes.

Allow me to illustrate.

From left to right, we have me as a freshman, sophomore, and finally as a senior.

And then here we have three photos from tournaments this semester.

Although my hair is still a little gross in the first pic, the cool part I want to point out is that the only piece of clothing in these pics that I've ever needed to iron is the jacket in the first. Plus the fact that I figured out how to make clothes fit and whatnot.


Prep By Yourself

This sort of falls under tournaments not being social events. Every timed you prep in a group in Parli, NPDA, or IPDA or anything else you end up writing down what everyone else is saying instead of thinking of why it makes sense or doesn't. People who aren't following are getting carried through and people who are generating the ideas don't have time to develop them. People feel mad and not listened to. Or you're laughing, being sarcastic, and not being as focused.

Prep by yourself. Take a deep breath. Write out the best case you can, and develop it in the way that makes sense to you. Then if you have time use your last few minutes of prep to swap cases with someone and point out the biggest holes and be prepared to face those arguments.

 A well-developed argument that you understand and can explain thoroughly, no matter how weak, is always better than a "good" complex argument you don't understand and isn't even yours - or a stream of excessive statistics.

You Never Have To Argue Something You Don't Believe Yourself

No matter the resolution or the speech prompt -there is always a way to interpret it or expand it to be honest with what you say.

 Drama is Completely Pointless

I'm more concerned with getting back to my in-between-rounds coffee and a friendly game of hangman that getting worked up about who was rude to me in a round. I've had more rude things said to me in this semester alone than all five years of high school Meh.

I don't even know what the rivalries are. Does our school have rivals? Are there people who don't like me? I genuinely have no idea. 

In General, Let Things Roll Off Your Back

Be chill. Angry opponent? You are chill. Didn't break? Chill. Did break? Grateful but chill. Won? Humble but chill. Lost? Going to seriously step up my game - once I get home. For now, admit your mistakes and chill.

If you get panicked in the middle of a speech or debate round because you can feel your points or your favor with the judge slipping out from under you the only thing that's going to fix that is a calm head, a soothing voice, and some diplomatic maneuvering. 

Before I had no chill and now chill is all I have left. College is hard.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Why Voting Issues Are Important: Plus Ten and a Half of my Best Ones For You To Steal

Debate is complicated. Maybe it doesn't seem that way to you if you've been doing it for a long time. The crazy guys on YouTube who do ten by ten Rubix spheres probably don't think that normal Rubix cubes are complicated. I do.

To a first-time community judge, debate seems like a ten-by-ten Rubix sphere and you have thirteen minutes (in LD anyway) to break it down for them.
You need to make it clear why they should vote for you, and make them feel confident and informed about their decision. That's what voting issues, or "Voters/VIs" (outside-round or alumni judge round slang) are for. They are three main points you make in your final speech that sum up the round into the biggest and most weighted arguments (or what you want the judges to think the biggest and most weighted arguments are) and are quite literally The Three Biggest Reasons You Should Vote For Me.
The magic number is three. Always use three. If you can't think of a third one, use one of the few I have below. Number five is best for a filler voter. It's also incredibly persuasive. If you're wondering why three, it's because people are scientifically proven to be more attracted to things in threes and remember things better in threes, it's enough without being too much debate-wise, and gives you exactly one minute per voter in the 2AR in LD - essentially doing the time management for you. However, there's no technical rule and no one will condemn you (except me - just kidding) for using two or four.

Voting Issues are something I'm really proud about. I can pretty much bomb everything else, but my voting issues are normally on fleek. I've won ballots based on voting issues from Alumni, parents, and community judges. I'll admit, I have areas I need to work on as much as anybody else (I have occasionally horrible time management - causing dropped arguments, a tendency to be redundant, and some really weird and long awkward filler statements. The really weird awkward fillers is a post coming soon) and I've only reached voting issue semi-awesomeness over this past year. However, since its one of my most consistent areas of praise ballot-wise, I've decided to look over my old ballots are share some of my most successful voters with you, along with my stand-by favorites that work for any round. (#ShamelessBragging moment, the first time I ever went 5-1 all of my ballots praised my voting issues, even the round I lost)

Remember, the purpose of voting issues it to make the judge feel smart by being easy to understand, speedy because rebuttals are short, and as impactful as possible.

The Tags for each voting issue are the actual tags you should use in a round. These don't HAVE to be VIs, you can use them as argument tags earlier, too.

1. Real-World Application
In a world as philosophy and theory-based as LD, things get muddled fast. I use this voting issue frequently. Just point out to your judge that in the real world your opponent's case would help much. This works if your opponents case in definitionally based, philosophy based, a Kritik, a balance, or just generally not very grounded. If they do the whole this-is-not-TP-we-are-debating-what-should-be thing, simply say that the reason why debate is to learn how to make decisions in the real world and LD is deciding the values we base those decision on. (Sub-point one: Why We Debate) Yes, ideally that should be happening. However, we don't live in a perfect world (sub-point tag two: No Utopia) and in order to get to that ideal this is what we should value. It appeals to the judge's sense of common sense. In fancy terms, this is Pragmatism Is Superior to Idealism and you can use that tag instead if you have a fancy Philosophy major or six-years-of-LD Alumni judge who you want to knock the socks off.

2. Why We Debate
This is something my Parli coach taught me, and sometimes it needs its own voting issue. Before you even start debate you should know why we debate. We debate for educational purposes, we debate to have fun, we debate to learn how to make decisions, we debate to inform. If your opponent is violating or hindering that, call them out.

3. Limitation (or Necessity or Protection) Does Not Equal Superiority
There's a lot of argumentation that goes into this. Basically, a lot of cases under a lot of resolutions in a lot of leagues run on the assumption that because Value A limits or is necessary for or protects Value B that Value A is more valuable. Let me ask you something, when you cut a diamond and shine it up, are the tools you use more valuable than the diamond? No. Air is necessary for humans to live. So is Air more valuable than Human Life? No. If you you keep your diamond in a safe, is the safe that protects your safe more valuable than the diamond itself? Nope. I've learned this line of argumentation from my friend Jamie, and its clever because, again, the judge connects to the common sense of it all.

4. People Can Be Terrible
Confession, I've only used this once. However, it is my most memorable voter tag. I remember writing it and prep time thinking it sounded like a perfectly normal tag. When I used it at the podium? I realized how not-normal it sounded and I got an unintentionally chuckle from the audience. It worked, though. My opponent was arguing that all humans have a conscience and ultimately people will choose to do the right thing. Analysis: people, entire nations, do absolutely terrible things and have done so since the beginning of time which fit their conscience because its based on religion or worldview or just human tendency to be selfish. Applications: Ancient Human Sacrifice, Nazis, modern day North Korea. Impact: My value of human rights was more important than community moral standards. Not only was it a good, organized argument ...more bragging, yes I'm a jerk...based on 4-Point refutation (IRAI - Identify, Refute, Analyze, Impact) but it highlights something else.
Interesting, short, unique voters can catch the judge's attention and stick with them as they're filling out their ballot. Just make sure they're backed up with a good, serious argument.

5. All Burdens Fulfilled (and Value Achieved)
You can add the part in parentheses if you aren't using number six. This is telling the judge: Hey, I know you're wondering who to vote for. My job, in order to earn your ballot, is to achieve this thing. I've done this, as is evident by this and that. My opponent, on the other hand, hasn't upheld their end because of this and that. Therefore, I respectfully request your ballot.

6. Both Values Achieved
You can only do this if you actually have achieved both values. Example: "Judge, my case shows how if we stand against the resolution than not only can we best achieve Human Life, but I've also proven in my last speech (or earlier in your NR, for LD) how Security is actually better achieved by standing against the resolution. Voting for the resolution actually harms Security because tag x, tag y, tag z and voting Negative today achieves it through tag a, tag b, tag c." This impresses the judge, because if the vote for you, they get their cake and can eat it, too. There isn't any choice to make but vote for you, because you've literally achieved everything.

7a. Fun With Grammar
My friend Grady Lynn came up with this in LD finals and got a good laugh. He is the Sass-Master, and this tag caught everyone's attention. Which was a good thing, because the whole round ended up hinging on a technical definition-y thing and the audience wasn't having as much fun. The actual argument was concerning grammar specifics of the resolution, as you've probably guessed. The tag helped make a slightly dull argument more enticing. Anytime I have to attack my opponent's grammatical take on the res, because some people get squirrel-y, I use this tag. I don't think Grady knows, but I don't think he'd mind. I actually named-dropped him in a Parli round once.
"My partner and I have a friend named Grady Lynn. We're going to do what he calls 'Fun With Grammar'. So that's what you can tag this argument."
The judge didn't know who he was, he was first-time community and Grady wasn't competing, but he still chuckled and we got a few knocks from the audience (who all knew Grady).

7b. The Dreaded Definition Debate
I came up with this one. It's basically "Fun With Grammar", but concerning definition debates instead of grammatical ones.
I came up with this one round where I was debating my Parli partner in LD. We seem to hit each other at least every other tournament.
"Judge, you can tag this last Voting Issue as The Dreaded Definition Debate. Yes, I know. I hate to be that person. I really do..."
Bella (my partner/opponent) started laughing back at the table because I sounded genuinely apologetic about this. Which I was. I hate definition debates.
"...see, most debaters dislike debating about definitions. However, right now its incredibly necessary to look at what the resolution really means because (insert Real-World Application arguments here). So ('so' is my filler word) you can see, if we accept my opponents definition, we really aren't looking at the whole resolution and it limits our ability to decide what would happen certain situations."

8. Dropped Arguments
My favorite Alumni judging philosophy I've received was this,
"I don't like spreading, I don't like speed-reading, and dropped arguments is the easiest way to lose a round. Go."
It was to the point and told us exactly what we needed to do.
If you drop arguments its a round-altering thing. If your opponent drops a few major arguments, or even one or two entire contentions, its a big deal. Parent judges may or may notice it if you don't point it out, and Alumni judges will notice but only vote on it depending on their personal beliefs on whether or not you have to bring it up to have impact, but community judges most likely won't even notice. POINT IT OUT. 
It's such a big deal, that if you make it a VI, you've automatically brought it to your judge's attention. Now they know its there, its obvious, and your opponent can't wiggle out.
In LD, as the Neg you have only one opportunity to do this. As the Aff wait to nail 'em in the 2AR so they can't come back. Still carry the arguments that were dropped through the 1AR, and mention there was no response, but if you hammer it in too hard in the 1AR your opponent will probably just claim in the NR that their arguments cross-apply to those contentions, too, making your claim null and void while not violating the "no new arguments in rebuttals" rule.
In Parli it's harder because most of the debate is constructives and dropped arguments can be amended in the immediately following speech, so wait until the last two speeches to make it a point. Also, dropped arguments aren't as crucial in Parli because of the adaptability and veering tendencies of Parli rounds, and since all of the speeches except the last two are a whole seven minutes, nothing ever gets dropped.

9. (Value Here) Is Paramount
This is another good filler voter, and reminds the judge you won the most crucial piece of value debate - the value. 

10. (The Tag of your most important argument)
Is the whole debate hinging on that one argument? That should immediately be a VI.
Is that argument basically the same as one of your contentions? Give it the same tag. Make sure to point it out, too, that the contention still stands and has remained important through the whole round. Re-emphasize its important, add an extra application if you have thirty seconds. This also draws the judge's eye back to your constructive on the flow, reminding you them of all the argumentation and applications under that contention that you won't have time to mention here. You've condensed a two-minute argument to a fourty five second one.

One last note: if you have an extra three seconds in prep re-order your voters in logical order. So scribble them down as you think them up and add your sub-points, but maybe things will flow better if I say Human Rights are Paramount before Valuing Stability Harms Human Rights. After all, don't you want the judge to know why somethings important before you explain why it shouldn't be harmed? Just erase the numbers next to them and re-order. The more chronologically logical your voters are, the stronger they become.

Monday, April 27, 2015

I Got To Debate Potential LD Res #3: A Stoa 2015-16 Vote Update

I know, I promised a post on the Wildcards and OI/Storytelling Issue. That is on hold for now, although it will come to be soon. For now, something spectacular happened at the Corpus Christi Coastal Clash a few days ago and I must write about it.

The Parli res's were all the potential res's for the 2015-16 year, plus a few extras ('This House believes the odds are ever in Israel's favor' and 'This House would regulate the Academy Awards' were some other favs). I was able to debate the potential resolution I was most curious about:

Resolved: The use of economic sanctions to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals is moral. 

So how did that work out?

Things that happened like I expected:

  • It was incredibly similar to the US international mitigation resolution from the 2013-14 season. So much so that we ran almost exactly the same case as the one I ran that year. I'm just glad I remembered it so well. For the sake of informed voting, I'm actually going to put that here, even though that means if this resolution passes you'll have a very loose version of my Aff case for next year. 
    • RezA: Value Res 
    • RezA2: Moral, not Ethical
    • V - Safety of US Citizens
      • Vl  - Constitutional Vow (yes, my partner and I both agreed this sounds girly. But it was better than 'Constitutional Promise' and we wrote this in fifteen minutes, kay?)
    • Defs:
      • Economic Sanctions - Trade barriers, restrictions on financial transactions
      • Moral - Right action, morally righteous 
    • C1. Moral Responsibility to US Citizens
      • Constitution
      • Ronald Reagan Quote 
    • C2. US Citizens in Danger
      • Soviet Union
      • Communism
      • Cuba [Was Going to Nuke Us. (the actual tag was just 'Cuba')]
      • ISIS/Middle East Oil Sanctions
    • C3. Best Alternative
      • No military 
      • Minimum US Harm
      • Effective
    • If you were here for 2013-14 (Resolved: The United States has a moral obligation to mitigate international conflicts) then you just recognized some major arguments that you may have even ran. The debate ended up hinging on whether or not governments can have morals and the negative impact on the people of the countries being sanctioned. Eliminate the word 'sanctioned' and replace it with 'invaded for the sake of mitigation' and you have the 2013-14 season. Personally, I absolutely loved that season. It was the bomb. In my 2.5 year, it was very easy to grasp for my mind that was still trying to wrap itself around LD. True, it often turned into an example war and was TP-ish. However, I enjoyed the wide range of historical examples available. Not everyone was running the same applications (except the Rwandan Genocide). The values could be taken a step farther, too, if you wiggled outside the box. Three questions remain. First, is this a broad enough resolution to give us a healthy debate for a large portion of the debate season? Second, for those who competed in 2013-24, is this too similar to the mitigation resolution? Thirdly, do we want to have a very similar debate resolution to what we've had in the past? 
  • The phrase ' to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals' was absolutely, completely ignored. We debated as if the resolution simply said 'The use of economic sanctions... (by the US)... is moral'. Why did I expect this? Because I was Prime Minister and that's exactly where I steered the debate.  Because once you acknowledge that phrase you open a whole new can of worms. It's what makes it much less Aff-slanted than one would originally think. Thankfully, the Opposition did not catch my purposeful omission. What if the U.S's foreign policy goals are totally selfish? What if they play favorites in the international community and start WWIII? What if in doing so it severely harms US citizens? Even if not, what if the US's policy goals give our citizens, or the environment, or a small group of wealthy Europeans, minimal benefits at the great cost of the starvation of people in a small, third-world country? Is that moral, even if our government's first priority is to it's citizens? A poor man has a moral obligation to feed his family before his neighbor, but if the man is ridiculously wealthy and the neighbor is poor, what then? But wait, doesn't even the poor man have a secondary obligation to his neighbor? Wait, when did I start talking about obligations??? Oh, no, watch out! Here comes the swimming pool analogy, and the goldfish analogy, and the Rwandan Genocide application, ahhhhhh! Just kidding. Mostly. In all seriousness, what makes this debate interesting and more broad is that phrase. It what's going to really spread out and deepen the battle ground. So your answer to the first question, I believe, is yes. Just don't let the Aff pull a fast one. This also makes the answer to the second question , regrettably, also 'yes'.
  • Cuba was mentioned. A lot. 
Things that did not happen as I expected:

  • The economic impact that this would have on the US economy was not heavily stressed. It wasn't really mentioned until the Opp Block and wasn't a major argument. This is because most of the US's sanctions are on countries that we barely rely on. Can you imagine if we put an embargo on China, though? The US's economy would be destroyed. This was brought up in the round. This could make this res even more fun, if your opponent lets you play around with the hypothetical.
  • The moral vs. ethical debate wasn't touched on. This is some serious kritik ground for the Neg.
  • It was argued by the Opp that this was a fact resolution. I have to admit, this threw me for a loop. After all, wasn't this a proposed LD topic? The judge didn't know that, however, and our Opponents took a really neat angle on it. It was something I hadn't considered before. A lot of complaints that this resolution is too TP-esq have been going around, but have we ever stopped to consider this may indeed be too Fact-esq? This was a common oppositional argument to the 2012-13 res (Resolved: Privacy is undervalued). Although I also really enjoyed that res, many agree it was a fact resolution disguised as a value resolution. Amongst the people I know, it was probably one of the least fondly remembered. I liked it because of its strong fact-value dual nature (it was true or false based on what you valued). This resolution seems to be quite similar.
  • Because of this, common arguments of significance, 41%/59%, the resolution being a general statement, were all left out of the debate. Either it was true or it wasn't. These were heavily relied upon arguments during the mitigation season, and this may be what sets resolution #3 apart.
Overall, I still remain undecided and much more intrigued. That debate introduced me to new pros and cons for res #3. I hope this helps inform you as you consider your 2015-16 Stoa LD Vote. I'll have that Wildcard post out soon. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thoughts on the Stoa 2015-16 Value Resolutions

I think I almost spazzed out of pure happiness when I found out the resolutions are out. Again, we're being asked to vote for two. This implies the dual resolution will return, or it will at least be voted upon.

1. Resolved: In art, form ought to be valued over content. 

This is a very simplistic resolution. Explaining the basis of your case should be made easy.

No previous bias. Unless your judge is a Art major, chances the judge won't have a preconceived opinion sitting in the back of their mind. You are working on your own merit, against your opponent and no one else, and the judge's opinions are a blank whiteboard for you to help fill. *fist pump*

Something new. The Stoa value resolution committee is right when they say we've been debating individualism vs. collectivism for quite awhile now. Not only is there an natural human bias towards individualism (self-preservation is instinctive) but the values have remained the same. How many rounds have I watched in the past four years where the values were some form of Individual Human Rights vs. General Welfare? Too many. I love seeing weird values, I love debating them, but with these past few res's I haven't been able to confidently use them.

Broad case abilities. Are we talking about paintings and sculptures? Music and poetry? Books and movies? How about public speaking and debating itself? Is presentation more important than logic? What about speech topic over the way it's delivered? What IS art exactly? Can I use graffiti as an example? What about drawing a mustache on my brother while he's asleep? (Shhh…that's MY illustration if this res goes through. Don't steal it :p)

We are going to get sick of talking about art. This is true for any resolution. But for many people in the homeschool forensics community, art isn't at the top of our favorite conversation topics. Speech and debaters are notorious lovers of government and politics. Some people are going to get mad if this passes. This is where I differ. I love art. I'm putting this in cons, though, because I'm going to get sick of other people complaining. Shoot, I got sick of the TPers complaining that one season where all they got to talk about was fish and marine resources.

Not very value centric. Sooo much of this is going to be debated pre-value. People will be flinging RezA's at each other like monkeys have coconut fights. I like a nice RA to clarify, but I don't want the whole debate to hinge on it.

Definition wars will abound. I swear, every debater will at one point try to use the phrase, "What IS art?" with a goofy face, trying to be funny in their intro, only to be sucked into a debate about it. For some, definition debates are fun. I, personally, sit on the fence. As a newer debater I resented them because I could never win them. It seemed like a crazy definition was a built-in failsafe. Now I know better, and can have a lot more fun playing with definitions. But its not as fun for the judge to watch.

Two more notes:
There's a lot of Neg room here. (Neg room, leg room, get it?) Beware the Kritiks, the Balances, the Essentials, the everything else. A res about art is just begging for a Kritik. For some, this is a pro. For others, this is a con. It depends on how you like to debate.

This can be very philosophy based, if you let it be. We're going to see some very grounded pragmatic cases and some more idealistic cases. We're wandering out of our comfort zones of government and law. This means, if we want to tie something like art to something more concerned with the wellbeing of humans, we're going to do some digging. This can be absolute terrible fun and leaves rooms for argument over value links, which is one of my favorite things to argue. ( Example, art content = creator's intent = self expression = freedom of expression = self-actualization. Valuing form = narrow minded ness = constricting human expression. There's six different links you can work with there.) It can also mean a very complicated rounds based on intangible concepts that don't have much real-world application (read: judge impact). Logically fallacy textbooks will be dusted off. Again, for some this is a  pro and some this is a con.

2. Resolved: In formal education liberal arts ought to be valued above practical skills. 

"If Victor Hugo was correct in positing that the opening of a school was the closing of a prison, then the nature and content of formal education is a subject worth debating.".
New areas for value clash will replace the exhausted values of Liberty and Justice. For example, aesthetics, epistemology, and philology offer fresh new areas of study and ground to debate. Philosophers that will be important will include familiars like Plato, Aristotle, and Mill. For additional core reading debaters will benefit by reading the British empiricists: Berkeley, Locke, and Hume; scholastic philosophers, notably Thomas Aquinas; and the pragmatists: James and Dewey. This resolution will offer breadth and depth of argumentation.
The above quote is from the stoausa voting page. It points out three major pluses -

1.We get to research philosophy *huge fist pump* anyone who's heard my hour long lectures knows my favorite part of LD is talking philosophers.

2.New value clash, new values, new ground. This is going to be classic LDV, value-centric. People are going to breaking out their criterions and logical fallacy knowledge again. A breathe of fresh air.

3.Lots of depth, strong connections, grounded philosophy, and application to real human issues, which is something we don't get with the first resolution option. This means a huge judge impact.

Also, I just really had to quote this since Victor Hugo is my favorite author of all time.

This would be the absolute ideal resolution. I'm not even kidding. Except for one thing. The judge impact I mentioned before? It's also a con of sorts.

All parents judges, educators, and coaches will be walking into the room with a gigantic pre-decided bias towards or against one side. This is a big issue in the homeschool world right now. I wish judge bias didn't exist. I wish people were perfect. But they aren't, and only the most creative debaters will get away with pleasing a judge with an opinion on the opposing side. This is the sole reason I voted against the immigration resolution last year. People will be running Balanced Negs not because that's what they believe in, but because its the only way to win.

3. Resolved: Developing countries ought to prioritize economic growth over environmental protection. 


More human issues. Poverty, the sovereignty of a nation, impact on future generations, the morality of abusing the environment. Therefore, there is again a good judge impact.

Little to no judge bias.


Extremely Aff-sided. What the Aff will boil this down to is basically human welfare vs. environmental welfare. Once that is achieved, there is no more debate. If the phrase "developing countries" wasn't there, the debate might be more even-sided. That way we could talk about both well-developed countries and the newer, struggling ones.

Very application heavy. Debaters might get so distracted trying to out-apply their opponent that the round turns into an Individual Policy debate. This resolution reminds me of the international mitigation one we had a few years ago. Except the question of morality that serves as the LDV backbone is concerned not with humans and humans but humans and plants/animals.

4. Resolved: The use of economic sanctions to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals is moral. 


Debaters will get to address lots of logical issues such as whether the ends justify the means, causing people to suffer in order to suffocate an immoral government, whether choosing the lesser of two evils is a moral concept (sanctions > direction military action). Negs may even choose to echo our previous international mitigation res with the question, "is US involvement even necessary?"

Personally, economic sanctions is one of my favorite topics. If I'm being forced to talk politics, lets talk sanctions. I will also get to recycle my Human Rights case for Affirmative, which I realize is a con because most people hate using the same values over and over. But Human Rights is another one of my favorite topics, and there's a lots of room there.

There will be a strong, classic LDV, value clash. Debaters will really get to explore what it means to hold Peace over Economic Welfare, or Human Rights over Safety.

Because of the policy element and straightforward concepts, the resolution will be easier to grasp for first year LDers.

Little or no judge bias.


We will have to depend on the logical issues and value clash to outweigh what will definitely be a application-heavy debate. When I said before debaters will get to "know what it means" to defend their value, I mean they will watch those decisions play out clearly on a wide field of examples. Which means we'll have to do a lot, even a near TP-level, of research. Unless you can find a good overarching value/logic theory that knocks all of that out and leaves us on a purely philosophical playing field. Which is exactly what I'll be doing, if this passes.

 It feels like a narrower version of the mitigation resolution. And just the fact that its a value resolution that contains the word "policy" scares me.

Also, what happens when the logical issues are clear away and the beaten path is being trod? We're either going to get creative or get bored. Choose your poison carefully.

Basic tried-and-true values are going to be used, and seasoned LDers aren't going to be challenged with new concepts.

Other notes:

This is the most "traditional" of all the resolutions. If change is daunting for you, this is probably the best resolution. One of the two government-focus, it is the only U.S. - focused. Some may think this is a pro, but I see it as a con. Either way, its something to keep in mind.

 If this resolution passes, we are going to have to get creative. We are going to have to step out of the box and look at things from a philosophical standpoint.

In conclusion,

For my part, I know I will be voting for the first resolution, and definitely not for the third. In essence, the second resolution is superior to all of them but becomes externally flawed once you take into account the current prejudice in the homeschool community.  That leaves the fourth, and as though it is not ideal, I'd rather debate sanctions than environmental issues. Whether I'll be voting for the second or forth as my second resolution remains to be seen. I'll be talking to some of my friends and fellow debaters and getting some more perspective.

I hoped this gave you guys some ideas and can help you weigh your own decision based on what you want to debate and how you want to debate it.

Next, I plan to write a post on the Wildcard options/OI change. Stay tuned ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We Go Together Like Ramalamalamakadingadadingadong

A.k.a my Last Tournament of the Year Post

The Corpus Christi Curtain Call is officially the last tournament of the year before NITOC. Thankfully, I have one more year before I graduate, so its not my last tournament ever. For some it is. And one year from now, I'll be graduating, too.

I've been thinking a lot about that lately. That for everybody there's going to come a time we have to move on from something we've fallen in love with. I think I can handle that. Its the idea of being separated from my friends that kills me.

The title of this post is a tribute to everybody's favorite Grease song that nobody can properly remember the lyrics to. It also accurately describes my friends and I.

I have friends in Texas, California, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Colorado, and everywhere else because of speech and debate. But, especially, I have my best friends of all, which happen to be my club members.

We've worked together, competed with and against each other, gone to prom together, traveled across the US together, cried and laughed together, and pulled stupid pranks in a Sonic parking lot together.

If you came to this post looking for enlightenment or advice, wrong post. Because I'm completely at a loss.

However, if there's one thing I know, we go together like the lyrics of We Go Together. Speech and debate brings great people together, and once you take that away, we stay together. Because that's what friends do.

See you guys at Nationals!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Interesting Ballot Comments

These are all real comments I or fellow club members have received on ballots:

Note: I love all judges, community, parent, and alumni. We appreciate the time and thoughts they give us. Some of these are just kind of funny.

"Great job! You were horrible!"
Also known as the self-contradictory ballot that makes you wonder if ballot check forced the judge to say something positive about your speech. My favorite was, "Your characterization was weak and not very believable. Drama was questionable and overdone." with the only other comment on the ballot being, "outstanding!" in peculiarly different handwriting next to Characterization. Um...what?

"I didn't know what I was doing so I voted on who spoke slower."
Not even who was clearer, more organized, or just a better speaker in general (although I've gotten those ballots, too). Who. spoke. slower. And in case you were wondering, no, it was not in their Judging Philosophy.

"You agreed to your opponent's value. And since you proved you could achieve both your value and their's much better than they could through your side of the resolution, you proved their value was highest. Since they won the Value Debate, and this is LD Value Debate, they win."
All the LDer's go *quadruple super facepalm*

"Your opponent was more assertive. I'm voting for them."
First off, they were downright rude. Second, they were wrong. Gr. Gr. Gr.

"You were a bit unmemorized and didn't seem to have it all together.  You stumbled over your words a bit. I loved it! It made you seem very authentic, like we were having a conversation!"
This judge gave me first place. She wasn't completely off her rocker, because I got a second and another first from the other judges. But I found this comment quite funny.

"Don't memorize your speech. It makes you seem unauthentic and robotic. Instead, have a general idea of what you're going to say under three main points and then wing it."
Wing it. This wasn't my ballot, it was a friend's. But you can imagine their confusion when they received this ballot in a platform. Lol.

"You hit the time at exactly six minutes. Be careful. You didn't go overtime, but I was really scared you were going to."

"You should paint your fingernails red to match the part of your speech where there's, 'blood on your hands'."
Actually some legit DI advice.

"You look great!!!"
Next to 'appearance' from a male judge. I'm not the only one who thinks this a bit creepy, right?

"Don't forget your hose."
I was wearing hose.

"You two would make a cute couple."
Thanks for shipping, judge, but I don't really want to date my debate opponent.

"Don't use a road map. This is Mars Hill, not Persuasive."
But...but...but my training! (I wasn't the only one to receive this kind of ballot, either.)

"You both should be lawyers."
This one's actually a really nice compliment, if you think about it.

"You should blink more often."
This was given to a friend of mine. I never noticed their blinking habits until then.

"You remind me of a TV preacher, in a good way."


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Skirt or Pantsuit? The Great Female Debater Question

Pantsuit VS. Skirt





Are you ready for one of the biggest decisions of your speech and debate career? Mostly joking. There are a lot of Pros and Cons to each side, and a lot of it has to due with your personality. I'll list all the major information here. At the end you should be ready to go (shopping).


  1. Pants are excellent for interpers. Bending down and crouching a skirt is near impossible. You have to be constantly conscious of which way your knees are aimed. Especially if you are doing an active interp, with lots of crazy blocking and moving. Its gives you more room, flexibility, and comfort. Which brings me to point two:
  2. Pants are comfy. They may look stiff, but they're really like wearing pajama pants. No joke. 
  3. Pants often have pockets, added bonus.
  4. No nylons are necessary, unless you're a real stickler for the rules. In that case, footsie or knee-highs are all you will need. 
  5. They match nearly any shoes.
  1. Skirts make you seem confident and precise. Pants are scientifically proven to appear less professional. A fact backed-up by my debate coach.
  2. Skirts are more feminine.
  3. Skirts rarely have to be re-hemmed for shoes. Pants often have to be hemmed differently for flats or heels
  4. Skirts are less "blah" and leave more room for personal style. (Color, length, pockets or peplum?)
  5. Skirts significantly reduce the chances of VPL (visible panty line).
    There you have it! Narrow down which points are important to you and goooo shopping!