Monday, June 29, 2009

Georgetown Debate Seminar Practice Round Nine


1ac: I don’t know what “the pickle” means. Is this a private joke?

If you're going to roll singularity, make sure that you are well insulated. I mean, I think the possibility of impact turns (and size of the impact) demand a more total 1AC commitment. The ideal structure should be inevitability warrant – warrant diversity depth of at least three – link, link – then 2-3 distinctions between different methods of transition. Democratic participation becomes a transition distinction instead of a discrete advantage. It’s potentially crucial that the US wins the race before rogue states, and it might be important that a public instead of corporate entity programs the top-level goals of the AI – a top level corporate goal might quickly destroy the biosphere.

Also, massive inevitable technological development makes solving poverty an extinction-level priority.I assure you that, in the context of this aff, you MUST read this card:

That’s not REALLY what this aff needs, though, as interesting a tangent as it might be.

This aff needs to be structured around tight defense of the mechanism through signal advantages. “Federal key” is a concern – “Linkup key” is potentially a bigger concern. I’m going to continue tweaking this and reporting on it on the Google group throughout the summer. I heard there’s an Africa modeling advantage being turned out at Michigan – that might be one solution.

“Other stuff” is not a good contention label.

1NC: Clarity! This speech is a testament to the value of some practice speaking before rounds. Clarity problems in the first three minutes, steady upward progress from the 5 minute mark on. Very clear second half.

Good argument diversity. T, for instance, achieves a really positive time tradeoff.


Great CX.

Ben, I think you need to have a mental roadmap. You seem to get bogged down in tangents. Make it a goal to have about 4-5 arguments going into the C-X, with a clear endpoint for each one.

Don’t say “that’s fine” before moving on. It’s not fine! Their argument is bad. Don’t be passive-aggressive. Be aggressive-aggressive by making your closing arg (“so you don’t have an actual link”) – and seamlessly eliding it with the next question.


Fantastic speech! Great allocation and pacing. I guess my major criticism is really just substantive, not stylistic. You need better a/t this counterplan.

I also think you read too many cards on this “eligibility criteria” counterinterp. They’re gonna just perm it – it’s not mutually exclusive. A card saying that it’s really predictable doesn’t do much for you – if the round changes such that it becomes really relevant, the 1AR can read the card.

2NC: Good job on the shadow coverage of the T violation. It’s ideal shadow coverage, because you’re making a strong argument – you just correctly diagnose that you don’t need much vertical depth here. While you made the right decision in the 2NR, T was actually not unwinnable after 2 minutes of block coverage.

Great job on politics; feels like we’ve been here before.

CX: Hmmm, chippy.

1NR: Some déjà vu here as well. I’ll mute my previous criticism, though – I understand why you’re going for the defensive counterplan (you clearly cut all the evidence and mastered the subject) and a more diverse 2NC means that the 2NR can avoid hell. I’ll still maintain that an industry specific DA takes this 1NR from excellent to standalone devastating, but that’s a research question.

1AR: Great micro. I don’t have any efficiency suggestions per se, as micro efficiency improvements would make you very difficult to flow. You’ve also made big strides in clarity.

However, you do end up top heavy and underallocating on politics. I think you have to kick some advantages to get the 30-45 you need. You don’t read 5 disads to extend each one in the block– the same principle should apply to diverse advantage menus.

I really do understand every argument as it’s being made – intellectually as well as verbally. That deserves high praise (because I am deaf and stupid! Hahaha jk, sort of)

If you can’t kick down, you have to find time elsewhere, and I think all the options present real dangers. Really, you might be in a bad place because of argument problems – absent better federal key warrants/mechanism defense, you’re going to have consistent problems covering because you can’t take the CP lightly. I’m loath to recommend options such as “go for theory” or “dare them to go for T” – but if you really can’t cover this block, that’s a better macrostrategy than undercovering 2NC politics bombs.

2NR: Great job. I really clearly understand some overarching themes that organize risk analysis. Instead of picking at the speech, I want to underline its difference from the previous speeches. It maintains technical excellence while finding 3-4 places to paragraph a bit more on the explanation, and I think that’s just crucial. Some block diversity allows the 2NR the luxury of more communicative moments.

2AR: I think this is a really good speech. I think you need to spend more time on the states CP. As there’s no offense on politics, you have concentrate on securing your offense first. When you do get there with a minute left, you must maximize efficiency instead of falling back into a few bad old habits (second person +flow talk – you extend our argument…) This could be a pretty crucial nexus point for the debate.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Georgetown Debate Seminar Practice Round Eight

1a: Secret Agent 2a: Jesslyn Mitchell 1N: McKenzie 2N: Madhu

I’ll take this one backwards. I thought this was great for an early round, and I think that some of the technical issues are easy to fix. You’re working hard on impact comparison and evidence comparison and big picture issues, and that’s conceptually tougher, so filling in some technical aspects should be a relatively easy fix!


I normally think that rebuttals should be fast. I think this is an exception. Some technical problems in the 2NR mean that you should be brisk, but go relatively slow and emphasize simple arguments.

It’s uncomplicated. They dropped the case. The disad doesn’t solve the case. It’s 100% risk, which is rare in debate. Aff should be the only route to survivability. If you vote neg, everything will perish in nuclear hellfire.

In such a situation, it seems that you could lose only if: you failed on the risk comparison debate, bigtime, or if the judge fails to comprehend your fairly simple picture of the round. So compare risk thoroughly and explicitly, and safeguard against any chance of confusion.

Treating this as a bigger round with more arguments just makes it seem like a more complicated judging calculus than it really is.

Also, I don't think you ever really say that you outweigh. It’s worthwhile to have distinct risk comparisons for each unanswered advantage here – they can last about a minute, be conversational, and still leave you plenty of time to cover the DA.

Your internal link turn evidence is comparative, which bears mention.


Don’t be bummed! You are doing tons of things right. The things you are doing wrong are much easier to teach than your natural intellectual prowess, so be of good cheer.

Kick out of disad by conceding specific defensive answers. Even if you’re fairly sure there’s no offense, select the best link and impact defense just in case you missed something; the time difference for the failsafe is negligible.

Good risk comparison, but you never want to be in this place in a 2NR. You are comparing to an absolute risk of case. That rarely works. You have to defend a counterplan or some impact defense or some world where the status quo is not teetering on the brink of extinction.

Almost every 2NR seeks to neutralize the case in some way. Simply outweighing it can work, but I think it’s a relatively low percentage.

"More evidence" is rarely, by itself, a winning evidence comparison. Should 3 bad cards ever beat 1 good one? Probably not. Numerically superior evidence might prove a consensus or, if you’re really unsure of a judges’ evaluative criteria, might hedge your bets. That’s generally implicit, though, and you should articulate different comparisons.

1AR: good job! Great use of embedded clash, for the most part. You clearly warrant without excessive signposting, while being easy to follow and flow.

Don't self-deprecate by whatever-ing certain arguments. You should never downplay one of your arguments or scratch it or shrug it off. I’ve never really understood the dynamic that drives this process, but I know that it’s a virulent anti-win virus.
You have extra time. You should never have extra time. Read more cards. You said you didn’t have more cards. Solution – cut more cards. It’s CTBT – you should be reading 4-5 additional pieces of evidence minimum.

1NR: Good job, and clean focus. Two major pieces of advice:

1. You have a great effort to compare impacts; you’re way ahead of the curve. Don’t totally fall back, though, on “nuke war causes your impact.” I mean, you are correct. A nuclear war would likely trigger most smaller impact, causing bad health and loss of biodiversity and probably an antidemocratic ethos. I think you need to make that claim quickly – almost self-evident claims don’t need a lot of explanation or repetition – and move onto some arguments about why your INTERNAL LINKS cause their impact, instead of banking on your terminal impact triggering theirs. For example, CTBT might trigger enough international goodwill to uniquely solve their human rights leadership advantage; it’s probably far more important to our sort power than some restrictions on immigrant health care. Since both teams generally access some terminal global war impact, it’s important to do some comparison. Yup, nuke war definitely ends everything, everyone agrees…now what?

2. Practice flowing. You rely on their stacks of evidence. Good shortcut, but a dangerous one – you can’t trust your opponents to order it correctly.


1. Offense, offense, offense. You should be spending at least 5:30 on your major offensive argument. You spend too much time on case defense, which you abandon in the 2NR. You need a reason that the aff is BAD, not just “not quite so good.” Winning your offense, then comparing it, is more important than direct refutation. Of course, some refutation is necessary – the @NR goes too far in the other direction. I’d spend 2:30 on some of your best case arguments in this speech. Choose fewer case argument to extend to make sure only your best ones consume your time.

2. Read the 1NR comment on “make turns case args other than ‘nuke war causes your impact’”.

3. Read the Hardy paperless manual which I sent to you all. I know it seems weird, but it seems to work, and your new coach has a fantastic sense of the real mechanics of debates; he’ll walk you through this.


CX: Ask more offensive questions. In other words, MAKE ARGUMENTS.

For each "act" of the cross-x, there should be a point. You should be able to grade each 30-second segment as Win, Draw or Lose – and if the aff spends that time just clarifying their args, you’re losing the cross-x.

Jess, try to maximize your speech time - I would take this whole speech and run with it when your opponent is being tentative. This is ideal, because everyone is somewhat relieved and you win. I don’t believe in talking over your cross-examiner – I just think she’ll let you keep going if you’re polite but firm about it.

2AC: Pretty good.

You just read evidence on the case – and you read a lot of new cards. These are defensive arguments – I think you should be able to a. apply, b. compare, then c. move on. If you can’t, your 1AC is built wrong because that’s a large part of what it’s there for. Save the bulk of your card reading for answering their offense and diversifying advantages, not reinforcing your original claims.

Straight internal link turn inflation. Productivity growth is the only way to achieve non-inflationary growth.

1NC: Very good speaking – it’s coming along nicely! Don’t put the case defense on top, though. I’d put the offcase observations first.

1AC: Well spoken. Apply my substantive 1AC comments from other ballots!

Georgetown Debate Seminar Practice Round Six

1a: Thibeau 2a: Day vs. 1N: Arjun 2N: N00BSLAYER WAXMAN

1ac: Very clear and fast. I think you could improve your articulation slightly by bearing down harder on consonants in the text of the evidence. I don’t see this as a huge deal, though, as the cards are certainly clear enough and the tags are crystal.

I refuse to “put away my alternate causation” because you told me to. I think that formulation’s a little trite; I’m waiting for the team to construct an entire 1AC out of these statements, starting with PUT AWAY YOUR PLAN VAGUENESS ARG BECAUSE THIS IS A PLAN

Develop more internal links to economy. I think that some teams might run inflation, so I think you should have a more NUANCED and UNIQUE internal link chain. (You should also straight internal link turn econ Das.) If, for example, the 1AC developed a productivity story, as identified this as a necessary condition for reversing the recession, you might be better insulated from internal link turns/econ Das. MORE importantly, a unique story

(eg we may rebound,
But current growth will be inflationary which is a disaster,
only productivity gains enable middle path non-inflationary growth that skips a business cycle and dodges a double dip – (running a google news search on [productivity inflation] will just spit cards,
broadband penetration key to productivity revolution,
double dip = depression)

helps create solvency deficits to generic advantage counterplans. The key to “new” isn’t always a brand new plan concept – it’s often just multiple routes for advantage variation. “Sort of new” often beats “really new” because it encourages teams to rely on old strategies. This is particularly true in the high dissemination pressure cooker of a championship tournament.

You need to refer to this card as something other than the S&M evidence; that sounds very odd.

1NC: Articulation is quite good. Either these drills are accomplishing something, or y’all were just some clear talkers coming in.

I’d say something about T. I’m unconvinced this aff is a social service. If nothing else, I think you could easily generate a time tradeoff; they can’t blow off this question. Rein 72 (3 step process) might be your best violation.

I wish that this K were more specific; there's just fantastic evidence that either issues a socialist critique or critiques the information economy overall. It's fine at a camp, but if this is really going to be a big deal aff, you need to roll out something better at Long Beach.

If we don’t roll this out by the end of camp, hit me up and I will find some great sources on this question.

1NC CX: I think this is great CX for the negative up until about 1:00. I guess it’s a tale of two cross-exes (although cross-ex two isn’t bad – it’s just not as good.) Potentially devastating relationship between arguments = tactically, rhetorically, and intellectually solid. You lose momentum when you start making moves toward link turning cap. C’mon, you can’t link turn cap. No one thinks this will really be in the 2AR. The aff might be “socialist” in some weak sense, but they’ve already set up to portray your market intervention as palliative, mixed-economy tokenism.

2AC: Good arguments and card knowledge. You need some efficiency, though. Easiest example is the cross-application of cross-ex arguments. Love that it happened, think it’s great, but you say in three sentences what the cross-x has set you up to say in two max.

I said roll the singularity in the post-round, but I’m rethinking that. There is the block, and 13 minutes of Singularity Bad offense (a real plausibility) could get ugly fast. I guess you have to save that for a slightly desperate play unless you roll it out in the 1AC, so you can set up a strong inevitability story.
You’re really confident on this spending DA. You’re either right or foolhardy, but the progress of the round vindicates your decision. Issue expertise is the ultimate efficiency, I suppose.

I think you should consider rolling out broadband -> universal p2p networking, then p2p models are the next evolutionary step past capitalism. Clean internal link turn with a number of net benefits: avoids transition wars, articulates an actual material path out of capitalism, doesn’t trigger a counterrevolution because it piggybacks on existent economic structures:

2NC: Well debated. You sound great in the explanation, and your case-K interactions are good.

I’d look to shore up two specific places: Role of the Ballot. How do you want this debate to function? I mean, I understand the alternative, but I’m not sure how you want it to frame the debate. Am I determining my ethical orientation to capitalism? Is the ballot a judgment on the affs place in the cultural superstructure, which need to be detached from simple representation? I don’t need an “alternative” in the sense of a “counterplan with some Latinate phrasing” – but I want to know what’s supposed to be up with my ballot when I cast it. I want that somewhat more specifically delineated than, you know, rejection or intellectual endorsement.

I think you’d have a more strategic K argument if you could absorb large components of the aff. A tight carded focus on the possibility for “digital democracy” in a capitalist frame would be a fantastic point for structuring your whole argument. I mean, seriously – when class has predetermined our relationship to what’s apparently the most vital mechanism for democratic participation, is it really plausible to presume that one welfare program will overwhelm it? Won’t that just become a powerful argument against net neutrality, so that the elites can more easily distinguish their access from “welfare broadband?”

That slightly tighter democracy focus – and an examination of how imperialism redeploys the concept and term “democracy” – would allow you to do one of two things – either:
a. make this a PIA/PIK/whatever – a K that just does a lot of the plan but Ks a representation.
b. leverage their democracy args to bolster your framework position. Put simply, try to box the 1AC into an argument that democracy’s the nexus point of the debate through a reverse pit of doom.

Make more explicit arguments about method. (Almost) any block on the (cap) K must necessarily include a segment where you paragraph and/or read evidence that capitalism prefigures and predetermines their truth claims (ie, those advantages are lies; we should distrust their evidence because the filter of ideology leads them to grossly misinterpret historical data.). This is especially true in an impact turn debate – methodology is a built-in issue-specific ev comparison filter.

CX: The question is not why revolutions occur - the question is why they don't. When teams start complaining about the plausibility of the transition, flip the terms of the debate. Capitalism’s an inherently screwed up system in which a tiny fraction of the global population commands most of the planet’s resources. Some alternative to capitalism isn’t simply possible, but logically inevitable. We don’t have to defend a roadmap to post-capitalism – it’s your burden to prove that this economic structure’s sustainable. The transition’s a given, so the only relevant variable is our relationship to it.

1AR: Good focus and choices.

You need to deal with the question of method a little differently. You sort of treat method as an impact instead of a filter. You should put out some reasons to prefer your method of truthseeking. Empirical evidence, falsifiability and, perhaps most importantly, specific data-driven internal links to short-term extinction impact should be aggressively advanced as the way to resolve this debate.

2NR: Great speech – I think you clearly answer a number of questions, but some remain murky. In this 2NR, it should be all about the transition. The 1AR focuses on three primary questions:
1. This transition – is it even possible?
2. If so, how does that alt concretely have much of anything at all to do with it?
3. That whole short term extinction thing on the case, that’s still pretty important, right?

The ideal 2NR has to come to grips with these questions. By “come to grips” I mean one of two possibilities: either 1. Answer the questions or 2. Criticize them. If you win uniqueness – if capitalism’s really due to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions, I think you can proceed to answer one – “yeah, it’s more than possible, it’s gonna happen one way or the other” and perhaps dodge two “inevitable transition should change our approach to a conscious transition – we don’t have to lay out a blueprint for seizing power, but a politics that enables us to consciously change our orientation before everything goes to shit.

You correctly run to the inevitability debate, by the way. I just think you need to tease out the implications of that substantive nexus point for the function of my ballot and a/t alt solvency griping.

Method needs to be clearer. Lies! Their ev is all lies! False consciousness! Running dogs! OK, I’m being hyperbolic, but there’s an arg for hyperbole because it’s so crucial to my round resolution. Role of the ballot also needs some clarity, as discussed above. I think 2NRs should resolve that really clearly, because the block and 1NC probably didn’t DEFINITIVELY clarify the position, so you have to reorient. Far too many high school debaters fall prey to the idea that obscurity throughout the whole round is just tactical brilliance. I don’t think you do, but think those two questions out and rehearse the answers before you roll into a neg cap bad round.

2AR: Great speech.


Start strong. Your second argument is strong, but you basically open with a promise to make fun of Zizek later. A juicy prospect, but the argument would have been better.

"Literally game over" - this is meaningless unless you’re actually calling on me to stop the timer and yell “TKO!” Which I wouldn’t do.


You deal with inevitability very well.

How do you want the aff to function? If you win framework, what does it get you? Do I disallow the alternative, or consider it irrelevant? Perform the cost-benefit analysis on the hypothetical enactment of the plan, and thus disregard the non-unique effects on ideology in order to avert large risks of short term extinction? Yeah, probably something like that. I’ve just seen too many affs blow it on the K by winning framework but failing to impact their arguments, and losing to “turns case.”

Good job, all! Elim quality debate.

Georgetown Debate Seminar Practice Round Seven


This was a fantastic round, really, with a level of depth and sophistication on the technical details of broadband policy that I’d find impressive in December – and it’s July. Each speaker should be proud of the effort and scholarship that went into this debate. I have some technical comments and some substantive ones, working backwards from the 2AR and going through the rebuttals:

2AR: You need to project confidence or you’ll be consistently frustrated by middle-weak panels. You’re intellectually impressive, but a less experienced critic might have received the impression that you’re losing during the 2AR. Debate is partially an exercise in projecting a persona, and I think that’s haunting you more than any specific technical or substantive deficiency. For real - this is a +/1 1 win/tournament question.

Specific ways to correct this:
a. Volume. Be louder. We’ve been over this before.
b. You overuse “even if” formulas. I think it’s useful and good to employ this sort of reasoning, of course, but you need to avoid the appearance that your 2AR is a desperation halfcourt heave. You say, at one point, that “even though their evidence may seem better and more predictive…” Ugh. Sounds desperate – rephrase.
c. Don’t tell the judge that s/he *could* evaluate an issue a given way. Judges are passive creatures – tell us what to do in strongly worded imperatives.
d. You ask your partner “is that OK?” at one point. Don’t do that.

Substantively, you do need to bear down harder on this double solvency question. The relative benefits of the perm will probably determine this debate if they fall behind on politics uniqueness, so you should be drawing out the individual warrants for double solvency and explaining the actual function of the perm. This merits 30 seconds, and potentially more, given its status as a potential nexus point.

2NR: In both of the Thibeau 2NRs I’ve seen, you were technically excellent, and demonstrate a rare command of both debate-technical and substantive details, as well as strategic vision re: case-disad relationships. You’ve been hampered by the evidence set, though. This takes one primary form: you have a single point of offense (politics) in both the block and the 2NR. This lack of diversity ends up making your 2NRs really big. You never drop, and always engage excellent clash. Still, you have very uniform emphasis as a result. You can’t afford to identify a nexus point or slow down slightly on crucial arguments because your strategy makes most every argument crucial.

Fix the 2NR by fixing the 1NC. Y’all need an internal net benefit to your counterplan that makes it a stand-alone win strategy. It’s worth developing this in this instance because of the early memetic penetration of this aff.

I'm impressed with all the weighing arguments, but felt that you should have devleoiped a reason that health care solves their intenral link chain. IT certainly might, by delineating more disposable income, for instance, that allows free market broadband purchases. It would be easy to get some cards on this, and it would be incredibly high yield.

We speculated on this briefly in the round. It sounds like the counterplan will probably pass costs off onto municipalities, which might trade off with municipal wi-fi; that’s promising as a DA to the CP, despite uniqueness problems. I am SURE there is some way that we can incorporate the reactions of the telcos or cable providers to construct a net neutrality disad. (That’s just such a huge debate; there must be a link.) I think we need to devote some more thought, though, to better specific disads or internal net benefits to make this 1nc more dangerous and this 2NR less diffuse.

1AR: Great speech - impressive efficiency, and generation of new arguments. Great efficiency on the theory debate as well. You invest heavily in a geographic distinction between urban and rural broadband access – is this carded? It should be.

I’d consider carding this further with rural-specific internal links to the aff, and impacting it as a distinct add-on somewhere in this debate. The CO2 add-on – or other telecommuting good addons – would probably be a wise choice.

Consider a refinement of your embedded clash system. Instead of labeling your argument sections as “link” or “impact”, you could label them according to YOUR argument – “telcos love the plan” or “health care isn’t crucial to the economy.” I’d experiment with this for a 1AR or two to see if it helps you.

1NR: excellent. Your mastery of details leads me to believe that you’ve read a good deal on this subject, and I’m either impressed with your research or your ability to fake it – probably your research.

My major criticism revolves around strategy, not tactics - the 1NC position forces you to violate the cardinal rule of standalone relevance - could the speech win without the 1NC? It can’t, and I think that’s a shame. This is an evidence failure. You simply need more offense – either on the case or on a distinct net benefit. You could collapse to a smaller fraction of 1NC case defense arguments and potentially go for T? I don’t like that stylistically – I want you to exploit your knowledge of the intricacies of this debate, but I think that the kluge move might have more tactical utility.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Georgetown Debate Seminar Practice Round Three

Aff: 1a Kirshon/ 2a Bernick v. 1n Kejriwal/ 2n Thibeau

1ac: Good clarity. Try to breathe at punctuation marks. This isn’t mandatory, but it will make your speech much smoother. Interrupting sentences with gasping breaths distracts from the text of your speech.

CX of 1AC:

Question one doesn't seem like the strongest start. It's an inherency question; that isn’t really a pressure point unless you have incredibly specific politics links. As it stands, this inherency argument probably compromises politics uniqueness, so it’s unlikely to make it into the 2NR.

Start off with your strongest argument, such as a genuinely glaring internal link hole that’s difficult to paper over, or a source credibility argument that makes them look bad.

This reverse causation question IS a serious pressure point for the 1AC. They don’t repeal reporting requirements, which probably compromises solvency severely. Start off with this line, and keep your foot on his neck for a question or two.

You conclude lines of questioning by saying “fair enough.” This sounds reasonable and gentlemanly, which I appreciate, but it vitiates the impact of a particular line of questioning. I do prefer CX-ers who restate their argument (“So you actually can’t solve your aff because you don’t affect reporting requirements”) and move on. It may manipulate the format, and some amy see it as too aggressive, but I’d at least like to know what you THOUGHT you got out of a particular line of questiong.



If you are just LOUDER you would likely gain 1-2 speaker points over the course of prelims.

Your arg: “low volume makes me faster.” A few responses.

1. Comprehension outweighs. “Fast” means “maximizing arguments that the judge writes down” not “maximizing the arguments that I speak.”
2. Empirically disproven. The fastest debaters are quite loud, in my experience.

This violation needs to be compressed. I wrote it too long.

I don't know if your health care link is good enough to safely make partial inherency arguments. Won't this just non-unique your disad? I’m sure you have answers, but they can also distinguish their aff from the status quo even more easily. This is not worth the trouble.

“No internal link = voter” isn't worth your breath. I often have a low threshold for voting on theory compared to some, but I can’t imagine voting on this even if dropped.

I think generally you need to consolidate anayltic defense into categories of risk reduction. 2-3 good, longer analytics instead of 7-8 threshold presses.

You need more disads to this aff. Limited 1NC offense makes the 2NR difficult, to say the least.

2AC: Apply inherency args to uniqueness.

FASTER! FASTER! FASTER! ENERGY! ENERGY! ENERGY! You are clear. You can read fast. I have seen it happen. No barrier stops you from being one of the fastest debaters in the nation; some behavior mod is all it should take.

Where is this racism stuff going? Are you working your way toward a moral imperative? I generally think that “moral” arguments are best couched in terms of role of the ballot. It’s difficult for me to accept that I should extinguish the species to take a stand; it’s easy for me to accept that I should modify the function of my ballot to express solidarity with anti-racist sentiments.

More carded offense on politics! Trust me, I love analytic politics defense more than most, but
a. I’m not every judge
b. even I need a card for some of this stuff. Extrapolating winners win from their evidence is clever, but dicey.

More add-ons! You should have several “signal” addons prepared vs. states counterplans. This is almost mandatory. Negs prepare counterplans against the advantages you do run, not the advantages you might run, making 2AC adjustments a crucial component of many aff ballots.

Arnav – you need to have a game plan. Cross-xing the 2AC is, admittedly, the lamest cross-x, identify a few things you might get out of this.

2NC: Very good – great articulation, speed, and a superb effort to engage in early and aggressive risk comparison.

The politics coverage needs more vertical depth, though. I think you should be reading more evidence. Not a huge adjustment, but 6 instead of 5:30 would have been better.

It’s useless to give people access to a health care that’s completely broken. Overall system functioning trumps universal access for all their internal links – that means you uniquely turn all the advantages. You do say something along these lines, but I see this as a potential round winner that merits another sentence (maybe even two?) of explanation.

Pretty sketchy on intrinsicness, akshually; this is a vulnerable point. More on this in the 2NR explanation.

1AR: You took prep – that’s good.

I wish you had made some theory cross-applications. Their defenses of both 50 state fiat and conditionality probably justify the intrinsicness arguments that you invested in heavily. Get in the habit of partial concessions that generate new arguments very quickly, based on U ev they read & theory especially.

Good job at generating new-ish politics arguments. You need more cards here, though.

While I’m not a huge aesthetic fan of going for every advantage, I understand and agree with your tactics in this situation.

2NR: This 2NR is great on the micro-level. I also think you probably go for the right thing. A lack of diverse 1NC offense comes back to haunt you, though – this ends up being bigger than it should be.

Two major risks hurt you. First, if your defensive evidence isn’t excellent, you might be faced with a number of extinction level risk. You articulate some ways that the aff can’t sovle your impact, but unless you solve their impact, you might face a valid case for try-or-die in the 2AR. (Even if you turn the case, the status quo still leads inexorably toward extinction if they win a huge risk of their advantage uniqueness claim.)
Secondly, you're really banking on me bailing you out on intrinsicness. I feel that this is sort of a Dwayne Wade approach – wade into traffic and wait for a whistle to bail you out. Sometimes, you can count on a whistle – if you’re neg and running a single reasonable counterplan, you’re unlikely to get whistled on condo bad in a good debate. Don’t count on the refs here, though – I’m less likely to dismiss intrinsicness than many. In general, intrinsicness is a little dangerous for the neg, because the aff is just defending “logic” or a decision-making model, instead of crying like a hurt child.

2AR: Good argument choice on politics. You really locked down on two potentially winning arguments. I kind of wish you had been able to put up a fight on uniqueness as well

Reference evidence for your claim that “xenophobia is the crucial/ONLY internal link to racism.” I can imagine a card that substantiates such an argument, but you leave this entirely to my imagination

They have a rhetorical K, but they’ve never made a role of the ballot argument. I’m not sure why the rhetoric of your advantage should influence my ballot. They don’t link this argument to the plan. Although the 2AR is a little late for this, I think it’s a quick shot, given how obvious this problem seems.

I always have difficulty filtering a “moral obligation” claim against an extinction impact. I find it difficult to accept extinguishing humanity for the sake of a principle. I almost universally prefer that teams cast their moral obligation arguments as role of the ballot argument. I mentioned this above.

Discuss terminal UNIQUENESS on their internal links. Failure to treat immigrants breaks the health care system in ways that they can’t compensate for. You make the clever argument that swine flu proves that the system works now, but it might not be able to work for immigrants. However, you refer to this very briefly at least.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Georgetown Debate Practice Round: Mindy/Daimyr vs. Katzoff/Herman


Aff: Mindy/Daimyr vs. Neg: Katzoff/Herman

1ac: good clarity. When I listen carefully, I can distinguish every word, which is my basic litmus test.

1AC CX: 1. Ask short questions with a minimum of introduction. Your elaborate prefaces don’t help you.

2. Argue don't ask. You want to score points in the C-X, not achieve clarification. You work your way toward an argument, but it's a little slow and tentative.

3. Remember, when explaining part of the immigrant's symbolic status, you need to refer to their status as OUTSIDERS. Our treatment of immigrants really determine our stand toward the Other.

1nc: This T violation, while clearly the product of a razor sharp mind, demands careful highlighting if it’s to be at all strategic. This runs over a minute.

You should be faster. Aim to up your rate of delivery by at least 25 words a minute using the spreeder.

Your voice wavers on the last word, in a way that denotes a lack of confidence. Debaters must project the impression that they expect to win. If you don’t feel naturally confident, you should probably fake it. It’s a function of vocal technique; if you waver, trail off, or using rising intonation to make sentences into question, you essentially say that you don’t expect to win. That rapidly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Don't transition between cards with "and". Transitions ideally employ very short pauses, instead of "uh" or "um."

CX: I'm not totally sure what you're driving at. If you're aiming to debate the theoretical problems with the state CP, I'd engage the unprecedented nature of this action. Also, the CP involves simultaneous and uniform state action, but it doesn't mandate cooperation.

Also, you should likely ask about the status of the CP.

2ac: Use immigration to K T - I've seen you do this before, and you should always do some of your best moves. Immigration issues are uniquely conducive to Kritiks of topicality, because attempts to carefully circumscribe the language to prevent unlimited meaning are a pretty tight analogy to English-only xenophobia.

Good indicts on their case evidence – try to place these indicts in the context of a comparison. In other words, don’t just say their ev is bad; quickly cite better ev as well.

Efficiency: you are eloquent. In many places, though, you should reserve some of this eloquence for the 2AR. Case is a good example – the quick application of evidence here could save you a lot of time. It’s unlikely they’ll go for their case defense, and, if they do, I think you have the ability to do a lot of extrapolating in the 2AR.

2NC: Don’t say “scratch that” if you feel that your argument is inadequate. It creates a lot of confusion. Save the phrase “scratch that” for strategically problematic arguments. If you read politics links the wrong way, you want to scratch them.

Good job on T. Try to make the impacts more specific. A general “limit” argument isn’t that compelling; you should instead delineate what would actually happen in this instance. You’d be forced to debate health care, which is an enormous topic in and of itself.

You should start the disad by explaining why it outweighs the case.

You gravitate away from the line by line in favor of just reading cards. It's best for you to stick to the line by line, and reference their arguments more carefully.


1nr: As a block, y’all take too much. The real tradeoff here comes in impact comparison. I think the 2NC emphasis on case defense isn't that good.

Don’t apologize! Debate means never having to say you’re sorry. This fits in with my earlier comments about confidence. You are debating well – you just need to communicate that you believe you’re debating well.

This stylistic modification alone will produce 1-3 expected wins per tournament.


Well done.

T’s their best offense, by far. The 2NR clearly wants to go for this issue. When you can predict their best 2NR, react by dumping time and arguments from other flows there. Look for theoretical cross-applications – issues that might either interact with T or provide you with an additional out.

A cardinal rule of debate:

YOU MUST CHOOSE. Debate is, in large part, about choice. The 2NR has issue choice – the 2AR has argument choice. Exercise this choice! In this instance, this means that you should spend all five minutes going for T and locking it down, instead of wasting two minutes on a substantive debate that you certainly cannot win.

You’re doing a good job on T, too. You just needed more time for impact comparison and explanation. Many judges’ high subjective thresholds on T really demand a five minute investment.



You need to take what the neg gives you though. In other words, don’t just look at where the clash is. See what arguments they’re conceding – any major concessions should be a centerpiece of the 2AR.

Examples: He doesn’t cover states theory, which potentially relates to T.

Also, he's dropping CTBT turns.

Ideally, this speech should dispense with the substantive debate in a minute or two, then make some cross-apps, then put T on the bottom for ~3:30 of coverage.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Georgetown Debate Practice Round: Kirshon/Bernick Aff v. Thomas/Mittal Neg

1a: Kirshon
2a: Bernick

1n: Thomas
2n: Mittal

1ac: Great clarity and spacing. I can understand every word, which is the litmus test for clarity.

Substantively, I’d consider axing this disease advantage entirely. It doesn’t get you very far strategically – the internal link probably can’t survive a cross-ex, whereas you open yourself up to tactically nasty “intersection” critiques of disease and immigration (we can represent immigration and can represent disease, but the two sets of fears together is a politically volatile combination.

That’s especially true given the dubious quality of the immigration impact. Put simply, the juice is just not worth the squeeze.

Bearden – not my favorite impact for economy.

I’d consider reading qualifications in the 1ac. While this is a controversial proposition, I feel that the process can at least get mileage for the affirmative. I’ll be posting some of my own thoughts on that discussion shortly.

1AC CX: EFFICIENCY! EFFICIENCY! EFFICIENCY! These questions last a really long time and involve multiple subordinate clauses. The 1A should respond to this meandering first question with “what?”

There’s a factual dispute over whether the states can deficit spend. While there’s some variation, they generally can’t.

1NC: Your clarity is good, although some overenunciation drills certainly wouldn’t hurt. I think your transitions between inssues follow the correct template – [short pause – name of new issue – short pause].

You bounce up and down in a strange way. You put your head down – literally – into evidence, creating the impression that you’re about to literally dive into your laptop. While that would be a cool Matrix-y trick if you could actually pull it off, it really only serves to muffle your voice. Work on maintaining some physical distance from your blocks.

You need more net benefits to the states CP, like a spending disad. A diverse 1NC should have at least 3 viable win strats, and I don’t think that [status quo+DA] seems viable in this case.

2AC: Good. Faster. Really. You have a great 2AC, but it’s at about 2/3 or the necessary speed. We’ll work on this outside lab, using some electronic tools. I could have some additional advice, but I want to keep a focus on what we can improve.

2AC C-X: Weird quiz bowl effect here. You start off with this weird question about number of pieces of pizza, or like a train leaving the station at 60 mph or something. In general, I think you can skip the clever analogies in C-X – they’re less illustrative than you think. Just ask your questiona s clearly as possible.

2NC: You allocate a bunch of time to disease defense. I don’t see how this fits into a winning 2NR. You’re dropping three out of four advantages, and they all have extinction level impacts. You’re thus compelled to go for the counterplan. There’s nothing about the disease advantage that’s uniquely insulated from states solvency; health care sector collapse is likely more relevant in a states 2NR. While you’re decent on this advantage on a micro level, I question your macro vision here.

They don’t have a lot of defense on T. I don’t see a great offensive reason to prefer their interpretation. I don’t think that you make enough explicit reference to this, though. It’s mentioned, but it deserves more “airplay” – their lack of offense bears mention in the overview, and potentially on some other places in the debate as well.

Permute this broad interpretation! Social services should be distinguished from BOTH highway spending AND primary care.

2NC CX: Efficiency. Time allocation. You make about 3 arguments in this C-x> Look at JPs cross-x of Nick again; he makes about 6 arguments, which seems ideal, by controlling the pacing and knowing precisely what he wants to extract before moving on.

1NR: Narrow your focus. This 1NR should be all CTBT all the time – you initially declare that you’re going for immigration. You don’t get to it. There are turns on it. This is problematic. It seems, upon further postround discussion, that these turns might just refer back to the case impacts. At a minimum, however, this is a huge perceptual gaffe.

Your overview needs to be clearer. Don’t read overviews, including impact comparison overviews, as if they are cards. It defeats the purpose. You need to look up from the laptop periodically, and also use slight pauses between different components of the overview to effectively chunk information.

1AR: 1. Avoid stand up 1ARs, especially when you aren’t pressed for prep. I understand that you want to create an immediate impression of studliness. Really, though, that extra time checking, thinking, and looking for relationships between arguments is ultimately far more valuable than a minor style point.
2. I’d make an argument for putting T at the bottom. You aren’t particularly top heavy, and the block led me to believe that the 2NR really wants to go for T. It’s their best argument. Putting it at the bottom lets you dump the most time there, and also skews 2NR prep.
3. Kick disease. Come on. These 20 seconds are better spent on T. If it’s case v. disad, you’re going to win, and, as I mentioned previously, disease isn’t especially insulated from states. You’re being reactive here.
4. Try to relate seemingly distinct theory debates to your advantage. If states limits the topic, then there’s no impact to T, setting up a potentially useful 2AR cross-app. The 2AR actually does this, but it’s too new because you didn’t set him in the 1AR.

2NR: You are good on your issue. You need some more rhetorical power, though. Specifically, you open with “um um” and close with “so…yeah.” Starting and finishing strong is crucial to conveying confidence.

I also want a limits endpoint – a concrete impact. Why will their interpretation make the topic terrible? What is the bogeyman or reductio ad absurdum? Compelling last rebuttals on T or theory ground their abstractions in concrete examples of how terrible their opponents’ interpretation will make debate.

I think you need to impact extra-T better because you’re on the wrong side of the link debate. Your definition establishes that there are some medical social services; some portion of the aff would affect these, presumably, even if you severed the non-topical portions.

2AR: I think you’re a bit too talky and a bit slow. I’m often loath to give this advice, because I think your 2AR is GOOD and I also understand that the round’s pretty narrow in scope. I agree with your basic instinct to sit on a few arguments and paragraph; I just think you need to tighten up the pacing just a touch.

Does this ""no med soc services"" come from the 1AR? Either way, you should refer to the 1AR at more points in order to avoid the appearance of newness." A few explicit references or quotes allow you to justify some ambitious extrapolations. Most judges have trouble tracking down new 2AR responses, but T 2ARs – which often extrapolate 5 minutes of analysis from 45 seconds of 1AR extension – are often held to a higher standard.

Deeper discussion of Extra-T. This seems like a really easy way out.

Excellent early debate! Keep up the good work, all.