Isaac Chao ParadigmLast changed 4/9 8:24A CDT
Coach at Heights High School (TX)
Set up the email chain before the round starts, especially if you're B flight, and add me: email@example.com
I debated LD for Timothy Christian School in New Jersey for four years. I graduated from Rice University, am currently a teacher at Heights, and predominately coach policy: my program competes through the Houston Urban Debate League and the Texas Forensic Association so I judge regularly. My ideas on debate are heavily influenced by Kris Wright via the Texas Debate Collective Teacher's Institute and I am largely in agreement with his philosophy. Most of the sections below are relevant for both policy and LD; see the very bottom for the policy-specific section.
- LARP: 1
- T/Theory: 3
- Phil: 2*
- One-off Kritik: 3*
- Tricks: Just strike me and we'll spare everyone some pain and suffering
*Ratings vary as function of what you're reading and whether I'm familiar with it. Feel free to ask me before round about a specific author.
- I will try to be tab and dislike intervening so please weigh arguments and compare evidence. It is in your advantage to write my ballot for me by explaining why you win which layers and why those layers come first.
- I default to a competing worlds paradigm.
- Tech > Truth
- I'm colorblind so speech docs that are highlighted in blue/gray can be difficult for me to read; yellow would be ideal because it's easiest for me to see. Don't read a shell on your opponent if they don't though - it's not that serious.
- I would prefer that weighing be done as often and as early as possible, especially in LD because there're so few speeches - as a rule of thumb you should weigh as soon as you have access to both impacts. For instance, disadvantages should be weighed against advantages in the 1NC (saying "turns case" in the tag with no explanation of why doesn't cut it) and the offense of a counterinterp to T should be weighed in the 1AR (or 2AC in policy).
- Prep time ends when the flash drive leaves your computer or, if you're using an email chain, once you've finished compiling the document. I won't count emailing against you but please don't steal prep.
- Signpost please, including listing the flows in the 1NC (ex. T, K, Case); I prefer debaters to be explicit about where to flow things and I appreciate pen time. If you're giving a speech and I'm looking around the different sheets of paper instead of writing, I'm likely trying to find the argument and will probably miss something.
- Not fond of embedded clash; I feel like it's often a recipe for judge intervention. I'll flow overviews but in my experience it's often just a wasted sheet of paper and I would much rather you do the substantive line-by-line work. Overviews that are extensions/explanations of a position are fine though, and probably preferable compared to line-by-line extensions (especially in the time-crunched 1AR).
- I presume aff in LD: neg side bias exists so in the absence of offense from either side the aff did the better debating. It is unlikely, however, that I will try to justify a ballot in this way. While I believe that terminal defense exists, I generally err towards voting on risk of offense rather than presumption in the absence of presumption arguments made by debaters.
Framework (as distinct from T-FW):
- Paradigmatically, I believe that impacts are relevant insofar as they implicate to a framework, preferably one which is syllogistically warranted. My typical decision calculus, then, goes through the steps of a. determining which layer is the highest/most significant, b. identifying the framework through which offense is funneled through on that layer, and c. adjudicating the pieces of legitimate offense to that framework.
- You should assume if you're reading a philosophically dense position that I do not have a deep familiarity with your topic literature; as such, you should probably moderate your speed and over-explain rather than under. Especially if your framework is complex or obscure, a brief summary of how it functions (i.e. how it sifts between legitimate and illegitimate offense) would be helpful.
- Read them if you'd like; I've read almost none of the literature, however, so explain well. I especially appreciate kritikal debates which are heavy on case-specific link analysis paired with a comprehensive explanation of the alternative. Good K debates typically include quotes from lines in your opponent's evidence/advocacy with an explanation of why those are additional links.
- If your alternative is just a string of buzz words, I probably won't think it makes sense and will be receptive to responses from your opponent arguing the same.
- Perms are tests of competition, not shifts of advocacy.
- Never understood why perms are illegitimate in a methods debate so if you defend a counter method it should probably be competitive.
- I would prefer that the affirmative is at least tangentially related to the resolution. In my experience, most topics have space for critical, topical arguments and this is what I'd prefer to hear if you're a critical debater, although I won't hack against non-T AFFs. I am persuaded by the value of topical switch-side debate, however, so if non-T AFFs are your thing I am probably not the best judge for you.
- I am increasingly convinced that Role of the Ballot arguments (or oppression frameworks) are just self-serving impact-justified frameworks that don't adequately fulfill the central function of differentiating between legitimate and illegitimate offense. Most of the time when I see these frameworks they just end up as impact filters under util. Although I am more than willing to assume that all ethical frameworks ought to condemn oppression and dehumanization, the question most of these frameworks don't answer is the strength of the link of those arguments back to the standard.
- Given that I predominately coach policy, I am probably most comfortable adjudicating these debates, but this is your space so you should make the arguments that you want to make in the style that you prefer.
- You should have updated uniqueness cards and the more specific the counterplan and the links on the disad the happier I'll be.
- If you want to kick out of a conditional advocacy you need to tell me.
- I think impact turns (dedev, cap good/bad, heg good/bad, wipeout, etc.) are underutilized and can make for interesting strategies.
- Speed is generally fine. I'd place my threshold for speed at an 9 out of 10 where a 10 is the fastest debater on the circuit, although that varies depending on the type of argument being read.
- Slow down for and enunciate short analytics, taglines, and card authors; it would be especially helpful if you say "and" or "next" as you switch from one card to the next. I am not a particularly good flower so take that into account if you're reading a lot of analytical arguments. If you're reading at top-speed through a dump of blippy uncarded arguments I'll almost certainly miss some. I won't backflow for you, so spread through blips without pausing as you move to different flows at your own risk.
- My flowing limitations are a contributing factor to why I'm probably not a great judge for you if tricks are your A-strat. If you're reading tricks one of three things is likely to happen: I'll miss it, I won't understand it, or I'll think it's stupid, so read at your own risk. Additionally, I won't hold your opponent to a higher standard than I hold myself to, so if I didn't understand the implication of an argument (especially a blippy/shady one) in a prior speech, I'll give them leeway on answering it in a later one.
- I won't vote on anything that's not on my flow. I also won't vote on any arguments that I can't explain back to you in the oral.
- I'll yell "clear" or "slow" once but that means I already missed something. Honestly though, it's not uncommon for me to be so preoccupied with trying to keep up that I forget to call clear or slow.
- I default to competing interpretations. I'll evaluate shells via reasonability if you ask me to but I'd prefer an explicit brightline for determining what constitutes a reasonable vs. unreasonable practice rather than drawing upon my intuitions for debate. If you just ask me to intuitively evaluate the shell without an explanation of what that constitutes, my aversion to intervention will likely lead me to gut check to competing interpretations.
- I default to no RVIs (and that you need to win a counterinterp to win with an RVI).
- I am not willing to assume that a won shell justifying that your opponent is unfair or uneducational is sufficient to warrant voting against them. If you're reading theory you should be articulating an explicit implication to the shell, contextualized to the abuse story. Absent an impact/ballot story on theory I default to rejecting theory as floating offense and voting off of another layer. If your opponent reads a theory shell without an impact and you tell me I shouldn't do that work for them or allow them to fix that mistake in a later speech, I'll be sympathetic.
- Because I am not a particularly good flower, theory rounds in my experience are challenging to follow because of the quantity of blippy analytical arguments. Please slow down for these debates and clearly label the shell - the interp especially - and number the arguments to hedge against the possibility that I miss something.
- I would not recommend reading disclosure theory in front of me because while I will (grudgingly) vote on it, it will not be difficult to convince me to reject it. I believe that universal compulsory disclosure disproportionately disadvantages under-resourced debaters.
- "If you read theory against someone who is obviously a novice or a traditional debater who doesn't know how to answer it, I will not evaluate it under competing interps."
- I will not evaluate the debate after any speech that is not the 2AR.
- At circuit tournaments, I generally won't give below a 27; lower means I think you did something offensive. A 28.5 or above means I think you're good enough to clear. If it's a local and the round makes me want to go home though I'll probably go below 27.
- I won't disclose speaks so don't bother asking.
- I give out approximately one 30 a season, so it's probably not going to be you. If you're looking for a speaks fairy, pref someone else.
- If you have speech impediment, please feel free to tell me. I debated with a lisp and am very sympathetic to debaters who have challenges with clarity.
- As a teacher and coach, I am committed to the value of debate as an educational activity. Please don't be rude, particularly if you're clearly better than your opponent. I won't hack against you if you go 5-off against someone you're substantively better than, but I don't have any objections to tanking your speaks if you intentionally exclude your opponent in this way. As a former competitor from a school with very limited competitive infrastructure, most of what I know about debate I had to learn myself absent formal instruction. This makes me very sympathetic to debaters from small schools or under-resourced programs who might not be familiar with the technical jargon of the activity but who, nevertheless, make good arguments. It behooves you, if you've had access to more privileged instruction, to debate in a way that keeps the round accessible for everyone.
If Judging Policy:
- Please keep in mind that although I coach policy now, the entirety of my competitive experience and the bulk of my training, judging and thinking about debate has been funneled through the lens of LD.
- Prep time ends when the flash drive leaves your computer or, if you're using an email chain, once you've finished compiling the document. I won't count attaching and emailing as prep time, but please don't steal prep.
- I presume neg in policy because in the absence of offense in either direction, I am compelled by the Change DA to the plan. However, presumption flips if the 2NR goes for a counter-advocacy that is a greater change from the status quo than the aff.
- I frequently see teams read half a T-shell in the 1NC (unwarranted standards/voters/implication/paradigm issues, or missing those pieces altogether) and then blow it up in the block. I think that if you read a disad in the 1NC it should probably contain the core parts (uniqueness/link/impact), even if you read additional evidence in the block, and I hold T to the same standard. Otherwise, I'm receptive to efficient 2AC responses along the lines of "that's not a complete argument; lack of warranted standards means there's no offense to the interp and you should reject the shell" and will allow new responses in the 1AR in response to developments in the block.
- Smart, analytical arguments (particularly as no-links on a kritik or an improbable impact chain) are heavily underutilized in policy. My ideal 1NCs/2ACs incorporate analytics as a component of a layered response strategy. I see too many policy debaters who are just card bots, including reading cards that don't actually contain warrants and reading additional cards in a later speech instead of going for preexisting evidence (which might actually require some evidence-comparison...).
- I will not judge kick unless the negative wins an argument for why I should, and it will not be difficult for the affirmative to convince me otherwise.
- Politics disads are generally stupid/unrealistic, but you do you.