The Permbulation

On September 12, I’m launching a web site called This site is intended to be a forum for analysis, opinion, and research from both the academic communication community and the ranks of competitive debate coaches. We have a group of regular bloggers from the communication world that I’m really proud to be working with — Shawn Powers from Georgia State University, Gordon Stables from USC, Cate Palczewski from the University of Northern Iowa, David Cisneros from Northeastern University, and Kristy Maddux from the University of Maryland.

ESU Speech and Debate Competition Handbook

The English Speaking Union which organizes the Public Speaking Competition for Schools and Schools Mace in England as well as the British Finals has released its new Handbook.

Whilst the information is designed for a specific format, the information included is a good starting point for those new to debating.

Speech and Debate Competition Handbook for Schools

Announcement after the break:

Tabbing Software

Here’s a quick overview of the most popular currently available debate tabbing software.

  • Human Tab
  • Tabbie
  • Tabulator
  • TRPC
  • PlusTab 2
  • Zorro
  • Joy of Tournaments
  • General Tabbing Resources


To use paper or Not to use paper?

“The Paper Debate”

By Robbie Brown
from New York Times, Education Life , April 18, 2010, pp ED24

Before each tournament, Sam Crichton, a senior on the Wake Forest debate team, meticulously stocks a half-dozen Rubbermaid tubs with computer printouts. Each sheet of paper — perhaps 5,000 total — summarizes the argument in, say, a presidential speech or op-ed piece. These “cards” have been sorted into manila files, grouped into brown accordion folders, stacked into the tubs and labeled by argument type: affirmatives, disadvantages, counterplans, critiques, case arguments/negatives, backfiles.

There are 50 tubs for the entire Wake Forest team — a traveling library of debate research. With the aid of all those pages of argumentation, debaters can summon up well-reasoned, highly specific points about nuclear disarmament, this year’s topic for college policy debaters. What if an affirmative team contends that nuclear armament has hurt Africa? What if a negative team cites Heidegger to bolster its response?

“There’s a strange comfort in reading off a sheet of paper,” Mr. Crichton says. “Having all of this paper may seem like a form of chaos, but to me it actually seems more organized.”


Why the US shouldn’t pressure China on currency issues

US China Currency US-Chinese relations have been rocky at best and outright hostile at times. The Chinese got pissed of at the US’s decision to sell military arms to Taiwan and then at Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama. Then there was the row over censorship in the wake of Google’s pull out. The latest spat has been over China’s supposedly undervalued currency. To be fair, there is an almost unanimous international consensus that the RMB is undervalued. This however is irrelevant. Regardless of this, the US should not be trying to pressure China for a RMB rise.

First, those who are calling for the move are hardly reliable. Sure, they have their share of Nobel economists and awards. But muddled amongst their claims were that China and Hong Kong were both currency manipulators. C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think-tank in United States said in a Congress hearing that

“Several neighboring Asian countries of considerable economic significance — Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan — maintain currency undervaluations of roughly the same magnitude in order to avoid losing competitive position to China.”

True, Hong Kong has a peg to the USD since 1983, and the government has had to control the currency to maintain that peg, but maintaining a peg is hardly currency manipulation. And if a peg is to be maintained, its rather difficult to manipulate a pegged currency! The total irony of it all is that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner paid a visit to Donald Tsang and other prominent financial people during his stopover in Hong Kong just this week. The HKD-USD peg has been around for almost 30 years, as long as Bergsten has been out of the government and out of touch with reality. John Tsang, Financial Secretary of Hong Kong put it quite nicely :

“This is a sign of rising protectionism and this kind of absurd voice will continue to be heard. Hong Kong’s peg to the U.S. dollar has been in effect for over two decades, how could we have manipulated our currency in that period?”

Even if we assume their claims are correct, what’s the real problem? Is the US-China trade imbalance a result of currency manipulation or a more fundamental issue with the US economy? Understandably, the currency plays a part, but the underlying problem is not the RMB but the lost of competitiveness of US products. Made in US just isn’t that cool or in demand anymore. US goods are expensive in comparison to almost all countries, that’s the underlying problem. Changing the RMB value won’t change the price of US products. Until something is done, the trade imbalance will still occur.

There really is no better indicator of the US’s lack of competitiveness than the fact that a trade imbalance would occur even if the RMB raised its value. Many Chinese goods would still be cheaper than US goods. Even if they aren’t US goods won’t be the cheapest because Indonesia, South east Asia, India, Brazil and other countries will still be cheaper than Made in US. In fact, Saudi Arabia’s multilateral merchandise surplus of $212bn in 2008 dwarfs China’s $175bn surplus. Has the US cried about Saudi Arabia? No. It wants the oil. Would RMB revaluation do anything to the Saudi Arabian surplus? No. What does Bergsten want to do then? Ban all foreign goods?


WSDC 2010 – Reporting

This is part of the WSDC 2010 series as I recount and report on the World School Debating Championship 2010 from Doha, Qatar as a debater, blogger and Hong Kong national team member.

With the final WSDC 2010 draw having been announced, it is now very much simply a wait for the day to dawn.
Whilst I have no idea how well Doha is connected, especially at the various schools we will be debating at, the Marriott hotel should have sufficient WiFi or internet coverage. As such, I will be hoping, bar any major problems or need for sleep, to be able to update daily with the latest news from WSDC 2010 in Doha Qatar.

You can follow this blog through our RSS feed or email subscription on the right sidebar. You can also follow me on twitter at paullaucm.

Other Sources

Alternatively, you can consider these services for more information :

  • #WSDC @Twitter a hash tag I started a while back
  • wsdcdoha2010
  • Claire Ryan on Twitter
  • Schools Debate Blog
  • Global Debate
  • asnider on Twitter
  • Colm Flynn
  • See you in Doha!

    Team Qatar

    Team Qatar‘ to be released at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Doha. The film charts the Qatari WSDC 2008 Team through their training. Here’s the trailer and the brief from the film festival organizers.