Extemp Files update

I finally updated the Extemp Files and the Unfiled Articles folders!

I did skim the unfiled articles from over the summer (May-July) and pulled a lot from there to file, in no small part because of the North Korea PF topic. I still need to skim the August folder, and file more of the September articles I’ve pulled (though I’m current through Friday on North Korea articles). Much of what I’ve pulled and filed had to do with the summer’s big events – terrorist attacks, elections in Great Britain and France, problems in the Middle East, North Korea, health care, and the US withdrawal from the Paris accords on climate change. Lots of China and Russia articles have been filed, too.

More to come. Tons more to file.


Topics! – PF Sep/Oct ’17, LD Sep/Oct ’17, CX ’17-’18

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 September/October Topic

Resolved: In the United States, national service ought to be compulsory.

Compulsory National Service was the 1968-69 CX topic – I remember it as the worst CX topic I had as a competitor. At the time the Selective Service System was in full swing, and many felt that everyone should have to serve their country.

Note that this wording has nothing to do with military service – civilian service is definitely an option. Since the resolution comes under LD (proposition of value), the policy issues that made the question miserable (to me) as a CX topic can be avoided. More on this one later.

Note: there is a Novice LD topic that may be used in some areas – Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified. This is the annual fall novice topic – it’s been used the previous two years, if memory serves me. Check your local tournament invitations to see which topic they’re using. (I’ve had teams show up having prepared for the wrong topic – it’s not a positive experience.)

Public Forum Debate – 2017 September/October Topic Area: Korean Peninsula

Resolved: Deployment of anti-missile systems is in South Korea’s best interest.

I’ve just updated the Extemp Files so there are a ton of articles available on this one.

In terms of the larger question (what to do about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs) think of a Venn diagram made up of circles representing the countries involved – North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Japan, and even Russia. The resolution is a very specific subset of the larger question – what defensive actions should South Korea take. After South Korea’s recent government change, there was an initial rejection of the THAAD anti-missile system deployment. Events are overtaking that position – the files contain articles that now involve South Korea wanting not only its own missiles, but also its own nukes as well. It’ll be interesting to see where the real world stands when we actually start debating this resolution (October for my state).

Policy Debate – 2017-2018 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

Repost from this past spring, when the topic was announced:

This will be the third time I’ve coached on this topic. When education reform came around during the 1972-73 season, the first ‘computers in education’ cases (when computers still involved mainframes and punch-card programming) appeared – so, how has that turned out?

One thing that was clear the last time we did this was that the only real way to improve educational outcomes was by what happens in the classroom – something that isn’t specific to school type (public/private/charter/whatever). The double ‘and/or’ construction of the resolution leads to a number of possible combinations. Identifying a specific problem will be important on this one – too nebulous, and solvency evaporates. Note also that funding-only cases usually lack inherency – you’re just expanding existing programs – though arguing that everything is fine except for funding might work. The Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles have Education subfolders worth mining. Few education problems are new, so older issues/articles are likely to still be valid (since we haven’t really done anything particularly successful to solve the problems).

A comment I made to an area CXer at Nationals, before she headed off to camp on this topic: What about an infrastructure case? With many schools in bad physical shape (poor facilities, and outdated materials), would improving facilities work as an Aff case?

Extemp Files

The Unfiled Articles folder was updated a few days ago. While I’ve been able to keep up with pulling articles, the filing is woefully behind. The truth is that few use the pre-September articles once the season begins; I at least want to make what I have available, however unorganized. It’s still a quick way to scan for relevant material when compared to finding the same information on your own. The whole idea is to shorten your time on research so you can spend more time developing the arguments and positions you’ll be using.

There is a gap of about a week after Nations where I haven’t pulled anything; everything else is current.

I’ll be at the NDSA/CHSAA speech coaches national conference in Denver, from Thursday evening (8-24) to mid-day Sunday (8-27). If I hear anything interesting, I’ll pass it along.

Today’s question

Nationals is over, debate camps are working on actual (CX – Education topic) or potential (LD & PF) topics, and I’m trying to get caught up with pulling post-Nationals articles (still have the last week of June to cover, though I am current for July). So, slow around here for a brief period.


…there are still questions worth pondering. The Washington Post had one this morning, already worded the way we like it:

Resolved: Barack Obama is better at Twitter than Donald Trump

Extemp Files, pre-Nationals

OK, I admit it. Trump has defeated me.

While I’ve been able to keep up with pulling articles, filing them has taken a huge hit. Part of it is real world demands, but most of it is the sheer volume of news that Trump generates – I’m guessing a 50-100% jump in the number of articles I pull over what it was before the election hit stride last year. I’m about to hit 50 years in high school forensics, and I’ve never seen anything like this. (The political scientist in me says it’s not a good thing, regardless of your political persuasion.)

There’s no way I’m going to get all of the articles filed in time, so I’ve created a new folder – Unfiled Articles – for the backlog. Keep in mind that I pull articles for other projects besides this one (mostly for a teacher resource blog – my old librarian habits die hard), so there will be a number of articles not related to Forensics. The articles in the folder are current through what I’ve pulled on June 10th, and I’ll update it this week before leaving for Nationals on Saturday.

[I updated the folder late Friday, so it has everything I’ve pulled through June 16th.]

As the Dropfile accout owner, things look a little different for me than for people connecting to it via my links. That said, within the folders for individual months you should be able to click on the ‘Modified’ column at the top of the file list to sort them by date. NYT articles are usually all in caps; WP articles are lower case after the first word.

I don’t know how many people are following this for Nationals prep right now – certainly fewer than those who use this during the school year. As I file articles I’ll update the Unfiled Articles so that they don’t show up in both places.

The Extemp Files were updated this morning, too. I haven’t had a chance to file new articles there since late May, and that was hardly complete. I’ll update the Government and LD-Values folders later today.



Poetry as Protest and Sanctuary: Jane Hirschfield’s Magnificent Poem Against the Silencing of Science and the Assault on Nature

If you like poetry (and literature in general), then you need to know about Maria Popova’s BrainPickings site/project. The link above is from her weekly (every Sunday morning) newsletter – “interestingness digest” in her words. I originally found out about it from an article about William Gibson (father of cyberpunk), in which he recommended it. Enjoy!

(Note the additional poetry-related links in the last paragraph of her post.)

While not current (I’m working on that), there are a number of new and interesting articles in the Poetry folder since I last posted a link to it last October.

Extemp Files update

Just after our state tournament (mid-March), reality reared its ugly head. While I was able to keep current with pulling articles, getting them filed was a different matter.

I’ve just run an update of the Extemp Files. If the file copy count is correct, there are 1000+ new articles for the last month; total count is 36,000+, going back to the beginning of 2016. I’ve concentrated on pulling the articles for the Extemp Files folder; the LD-Values and Government files have not been updated. I’m working on getting caught up, but it’ll take a while (which is why I went for the most important ones first).

Extemp Files instructions repost: The link takes you to a Dropbox folder; if a pop-over window saying something about setting up an account or logging in comes up, just close it.

The files are serious overkill – over 34,000 articles right now. There should be a way to copy or download individual articles when you find the ones you want in your files – try right-clicking the specific PDF file/article and selecting the ‘save link as’ option.

The four-digit numbers at the beginning of most of the file names (and the names of the sub-folders) are simply mm/yy codes so that you can tell how recent the article is at a glance.

Please don’t download the whole thing; it trips up my Dropbox limits and bad things happen that shut down access for others. If you need a full copy, let me know (see the About link for an email address) and I’ll make arrangements to get you a copy or share the folder (so that you get the updates as soon as I post them). Students who want to share the folder will need to have an OK from their coach – I don’t want to step on the toes of any coaches who prefer other methods of team research. (Several coaches already share the folder, if you’re a coach and are interested.) Specific topic subfolders can be shared as well.