November 15, 2006

Policy Debate: Printing Evidence

As great as it is that we got a huge load of free evidence, there's a bit of a down side to the digital format...
Anyone know a cheap way to print it all? Is there a chance the team will pay for that, since the rest is all free?

November 14, 2006

Policy Debate: Critique of the Supreme Court?

I was wandering the Wilson library looking for a few books on libertarian political philosophy when I came across this book, by pure accident, titled Supreme Court and Political Freedom by a guy named Krislov. Intrigued, I picked it off the shelf and read the introduction. There are a few things to note: a.) He once taught here b.) The book seems to be critical of the Supreme Court.

Could this be cut into a sweet Supreme Court K? It would specifically link into every topical case for the policy topic! I'm not sure if its even viable, but certainly worthing suggesting. I'll find some time to browse through the book and see.

In the meantime, any thoughts on feasability?

November 13, 2006

How to Run: Kritiks

Here are my notes from the K lecture. I'll add detail and examples when I have more time.
Critiques are called kritiks from the German because it looks cool and lets us call them K's, which doesn't get confused with other things.

Kritiks do not have uniqueness. This means that it is very hard to blame the Gov for the entire impact of the kritik. The main ways around this are to use the alternative strategically, to turn case solvency, and to try to place the implications of the kritik on a level separate from the impacts of the case.

There are language kritiks and framework kritiks. Language kritiks say that the language you use in round is a reason to vote you down. Framework kritiks say that the assumptions your plan is framed in are a reason to vote you down.
Common language K's are: gendered language (mankind), racist language (ethnic slurs), violent language (we're killing them on the topicality debate), vulgar language (swearing).
Common framework critiques are: capitalism, statism, non-violence (you condone violence), nuclearism (complacency in nuclear weapons), imperialism, colonialism, feminism (here it's usually more that your plan does something sexist or works through the patriarchy), enthnopacentrism (you're-ethnic-centric), anthropocentrism (human-centric, mostly on environmental stuff), _________ism.

A kritik has three parts:
Link, where it is explained what you said or what assumptions you made that the kritik critiques.

impacts or implications, where it's explained why those words or assumptions are bad.

alternative, where it's explained how to avoid the impacts, ideally in a way that means voting against the plan. An alternative is an opposition advocacy other than the status quo (like a counter-plan). It works well to run a counter plan and a kritik- the counterplan functions as the kritik's alternative, and the kritik functions as a net-benefit to the counterplan (as long as the CP doesn't link to the K). Other ways to make an alternative are to re-phrase the plan to not link to the kritik (for example, by fixing the gendered language), or by posing your alternative as just "reject the plan" (this means you have to win the impact comparison straight-up). If you research a particular kritik, you may find good alternatives in the kritik's literature base.

The government can also run kritiks. They can run framework kritiks as a response to a counter-plan, and can run language kritiks if the opposition says something really offensive. This is one time where a new argument is potentially justified in the last speech- if something really offensive is said during the opposition block. Remember, however, if the comment is offensive to you personally, you can make a "point of personal privilege" during his/her speech instead.

Weblog Log: Welcome!

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Case Construction: Redistribute School District Property Taxes in Minnesota

I started working on a case to redistribute school-district property taxes to be proportional to the students in each district, but the numbers I found give the same total district money/student in Eagan, Minneapolis, and Edina (~$16,000/student). Clearly, things like special ed costs and ELL must be higher in Minneapolis, but it makes the case a lot weaker than I thought it would be. What am I missing?

Does anyone know why there is such a disparity between the quality of education in different districts in Minnesota? What kind of case statment would fix it?

November 7, 2006

Weblog Log: Quickposting

You can go here to "quick post"- it'll set you right up with a new post form. No access to other settings, though; if you want to edit a post or play with the site you have to use the other link.

Continue reading "Quickposting" »

How to Run: Topicality - Answering T in the MG

Mostly from Dave W's Lectures on T.
"Topicality is a game of competing interpretations"

Here we're putting together answers to the LO T block from the last post.

1. We meet their interpretation. You should always try to present ways that your case is topical even under their interpretation of the resolution. If you're running a case that is an easy target on topicality, you should prep out some ways that you meet Opp interpretations you can anticipate.

We meet their interpretation because:
1- By making Chinese immigrants happy we make the country of China happy.
2- China would prefer there to be more Chinese culture in the world and we increase the spread of Chinese culture, making China happy.

(notice that both these answers are effects topical. That's because it's hard to find real we meets for this example. An Opp team should call them out on their FX T answers in the MO.)

Counter-Interpretation. This is kind of the central idea of your T response. Very rarely can you win a serious T violation on just a we meet (although you sometimes can if the opp just ran T as a throw-away time-suck). A counter-Interpretation looks just like an Opp interpretation in format, but hopefully you meet your own interpretation of the resolution. Your counter-interpretation does have to compete with the Opp interpretation- in this case the Opp defined "China"- You have to define "China" in some competing way. It would probably compete to define the entire phrase "China happy," but you could not just define "happy": the Opp complaint isn't that you don't make anything happy, it's that you don't make China happy.

Our counter-interpretation is that the phrase "China happy" in the resolution is the name of a thing to be made, and that a topical case is a case that specifies who will make China happy, and what China happy will be.

Counter-Standards. If topicality is a game of competing interpretations, standards are how we judge which interpretation is better. You can't really argue an interpretation itself (only if it's good or bad), and no-voters are generally lies [Shanti's oppinion]. The only ways to win T on Gov are to win that you meet their interpretation- which they picked because you don't meet it, or win that your interpretation is better: the standards debate.

You can use all of the same standards and same type of explanation that the Opp can (see the previous post) to prove your interpretation is good. You should also make specific analysis as to why their interpretation is bad, and (best of all) why your interpretation is better. They're predictable? We're more predictable. They set good limits? Well we divide ground fairly, which is more important because as long as both sides have even pools of arguments to draw from, the limits of the pools won't make the round more or less even. You can compare most standards against each other, and make either more important.

-Our first standard is predictability. They claimed to have a predictable interpretation, but looking at this resolution immediately makes you think, "how can we do something fun with this?" They should have expected that the only reason we would interperate "China" as the country was if we couldn't think of anything remotely interesting.
-That's why our second standard is fun. Resolutions phrased to allow cases like ours aren't common, and we are obligated by this one to have some fun with it. This round is more fun because of our interpretation.
-Our third standard is tradition- that a tradition has been established of giving Chinese things in America grammatically incorrect names. We advocate that this isn't out of ignorance of grammer, but to establish an atmosphere.
-Finally, our interpretation does not explode ground. Any topical case must specify what thing named "China happy" (small h) will be made. This leaves the opposition the "counterplan: capitalize the H" counter plan, as well as any other rename counterplans. While making anything called "China happy" is a topical case, only things that should be named "China happy" have a chance to win- this sets perfectly fair ground.

See the Extended Entry for no-voters and reverse voting issues.

Continue reading "Topicality - Answering T in the MG" »

Theory: Effects Topicality and Extra Topicality

Mostly from Dave W's lectures on Topicality (Resolutionality).

Extra-Topicality A plan is extra-topical if part of the plan (a "plank") fits under the resolution, but part (the non-topical plank) is non-topical. The non-topical planks of the plan are abusive. In your violation, explain which parts of the plan don't meet your interpretation, and that the plan (as a whole) is extra-topical. In your voters, explain why specifically why extra-T is a voter: it skews the opposition's time by making them debate things outside the resolution, it's abusive because it allows the Gov to claim impacts larger than the scope of the resolution (and therefore the opp), it allows the Gov to act as a moving target by adding to and subtracting from the resolution. As a worst-case scenario, you should be able to win that the judge should ignore any impacts that rely on the non-topical planks of plan.

Effectually Topicality: A plan is effects T if the plan's text itself does not fall under the resolution, but an effect of the plan does what the resolution says.

Res: THW increase taxes. Plan: reduce government spending. This stimulates the economy, and increases wealth, so everyone will pay more in the end.

FX T requires solvency to bridge the plan to the resolution. The example here doesn't do anything to raise taxes, and taxes don't rise unless they can prove that the plan will cause taxes revenues to increase. This is mixing burdens, by bringing solvency into the topicality debate. FX T is bad because it mixes burdens, because T is a gateway issue (and shouldn't involve substantive debate). Like extra-topicality, you should explain why a plan is effects T in the violation, and why that's a voting issue with your voters.

How to Run: Topicality - LO

Mostly from Dave W's T lectures- here's what you should put in a LO Topicality(or "Resolutionality") block.

This will be the example throughout the post:

Resolution: This house would make China happy
Plan: "this house" is a immigrant family, and it will found a restaurant named "China happy."

In the LO:

Our first independent point is that we believe the government case is non-topical.

»Interpretation: Define or explain your interpretation of the resolution- specifically the part the Gov doesn't meet.

Our interpretation is that "China" refers to the country called "China."

»Violation: Explain why the government doesn't meet your interpretation of the resolution. (If the plan is extra topical or effects topical, you can explain why they are extra or effects T here; more on these in a post here.)

The government violates the resolution because they do nothing to make the country China happy.

»Standards or "reasons to prefer:" These are reasons why your interpretation is good, and why the judge should prefer it over the interpretation that the Gov will presumably raise. Standards mainly concern limits- the idea that the field of legitimate debate is limited by the resolution, and ground- the idea that the field of debatable points is divided between the gov and the opp. A case that is not topical steps outside the limits of the resolution, and it takes ground that the Opp is supposed to get to run counter-cases, disadvantages, etc. You can explain why ground or limits are important by using other standards, like predictability (unpredictable cases make Opp prep useless), brightline (interpretation must provide a clear line between topical and non-topical, competitive equity or fairness (often that taking ground that should be the opposition's makes the resolution unfair), or any other reason you can think of why your interpretation is better.
It's especially helpful if you can give specific examples of how the Gov's lack of topicality hurt your ability to debate. Tell the judge about the countercase, DA, etc. you preped to run, but can't because the Gov case is non-topical.

You should prefer our interpretation because:
-it is far more predictible, it's what you immediately thought when you heard the resolution.
-our interpretation is more gramatically correct, as happy is uncapitalized in the resolution, and should be capitalized in the name of a restaurant.
-the government's interpretation explodes the ground of the debate- if you could name anything "China happy" and have anyone make it, you could run anything. "China happy" could be the name of a government fund to feed starving children.

»Voters: You should give the judge reasons why he or she should vote Opp on topicality. Some common reasons are:
-Education- we learn less from non-topical rounds
-Jurisdiction- the judge is empowered to vote only for topical cases, other cases are outside his or her jurisdiction and most be voted down.
-Fairness- the Gov team has made it unfairly difficult for Opp to win the round by being non-topical, and that's not a fair way to win.
-A priori- topicality is a government burden, and they must prove it to win the round. (Better: The judge is here to vote that the resolution is true or false; even if the government team proves a non-topical case is a good idea, it still does not prove the resolution and the judge should vote opp)
-other voters you can think of- keep in mind the ideas of "abuse"- that the Gov team has put an unfair burden on you, and "potential abuse"- that non-topicality can put too much burden on the Opp. A common claim is that a judge should vote on topicality to discourage Govs from running potentially abusive arguments.

Topicality is a voter for fairness because the government's choice to run a non-topical plan has prevented us from useful preperation, making the debate fundementally unfair. Topicality is also a voter for jurisdiction because you are here to vote on the resolution- and no resolutional case was presented.

November 1, 2006

Weblog Log: Site Launched.

Here is a blog for the UMPDS. We already have a blog. Why another?

The postings at are posted by the E-Board to keep us up to date on team events and to manage the class. To keep it orderly, only a few people can post announcements there. This blog is here to encourage debate-related discussion outside of the classroom. So far, anyone who gets the Week in Review sent to his or her x.500 email address is listed as an author of this blog, and can post here.

There are categories for case construction, debate technique, and counterplan, disadvantage, and theory strategy, as well as for events announcement and actually posted substantive debates. In class, our lectures are mostly one-way, and practice is mostly a time to learn by doing. This is intended to be a place to ask questions about something that came up in your last debate, get early feedback on an argument you've been thinking about, or to collaborate with other UMPDS members on a new case.

You should be able to post by going here.