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Author Topic: Topic Ballot  (Read 23270 times)
stables
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« on: June 04, 2012, 09:52:26 AM »

1.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase financial incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power.

2.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase financial incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, wind power.

3.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase grants, direct loans, loan guarantees, and/or tax incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power.

4.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase grants, direct loans, loan guarantees, and/or tax incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, wind power.

5.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially increase energy production in the United States via one or more of the following: a substantial reduction of statutory and/or regulatory restrictions on the production of crude oil, natural gas, and/or nuclear power; a substantial increase in grants, direct loans, loan guarantees, and/or tax incentives for electric power generation from coal, natural gas, nuclear power and/or renewable energy sources.

6.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially increase energy production in the United States via one or more of the following: a substantial reduction of statutory and/or regulatory restrictions on the production of crude oil, natural gas, and/or nuclear power; a substantial increase in financial incentives for electric power generation from coal, natural gas, nuclear power, and/or renewable energy sources.
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
Malgor
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 11:05:02 AM »

haha very funny.  but srsly guise, where is the real ballot?
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Ermo
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 11:34:42 AM »

haha very funny.  but srsly guise, where is the real ballot?

I think Jarman usually takes a few days to send out the "real" ballot. At that point, it should be on the  CEDA website.
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Malgor
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2012, 12:23:20 PM »

thanks ermo.....
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psadow
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2012, 07:24:43 PM »

I see that placing commas was on the agenda for today but the final ballot still reflects improper comma usage in 4 of the 6 choices:

1.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase financial incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power.

Specifically, the comma usage here is totally off. An easy test is to take the whole phrase offset by the commas and move it elsewhere in the sentence. In this case that would either make the sentence meaningless or dramatically alter the intended meaning. Both commas in that segment should be eliminated. The fact that there was a comma between a preposition and a noun phrase should've set off some kind of alarm bells. See #13 here for the justification: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02/.

2.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase financial incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, wind power.

3.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase grants, direct loans, loan guarantees, and/or tax incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power.

Lists within lists within lists. The comma following on and preceding the first and/or and between for and energy should be omitted, as that breaks up two verb phrases which is still a violation of proper comma usage even if the lists within that clause also call for commas.

4.   Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase grants, direct loans, loan guarantees, and/or tax incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, wind power.

Same problem.

---

That makes 4/6 choices grammatically incorrect.

Yes, these are minor blips compared to the bigger substantive debatey questions of the choice, but it would do debate as an activity a disservice to leave glaring grammatical errors uncorrected in such an important sentence for the activity.
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Adam Symonds
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2012, 08:01:10 PM »

I concur with Sadowski. Commas are incorrectly placed.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 03:04:50 PM by Adam Symonds » Logged
Adam Symonds
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2012, 10:20:32 PM »

These are not intervening words and phrases, none of the examples of the intervening words and phrases link you sent are analogous, the page you linked is about maintaining correct verb tense while using intervening words and phrases, and even the discussion of offset phrases makes it clear they are talking about clauses, which is, again, not the case in any of these resolutions.
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psadow
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2012, 11:53:02 PM »

The purdue page #13 is, in fact, describing exactly the sitch we've got goin on in these rezs. If you notice it suggests that commas are unacceptable between two verbs or verb phrases, which describes both "substantially reduce restrictions on," and "and/or substantially increase financial incentives for". They are not simply phrases floating around in a sentence, they are parts of the verb phrase.

As such, the commas do nothing more than add unnecessary pauses to an otherwise sound sentence. They certainly do not 'add clarity'. It seems perfectly clear, commas or no, that the resolutions are asking the question of whether the usfg should or should not take one or more defined actions regarding energy policy. If anything, they make the resolutions less clear by introducing unnecessary pauses that force the reader to spend more time decoding the sentence, since commas cue the reader for a situation completely different to the one which actually takes place.

Is there some other benefit to keeping the commas? Try saying the resolution out loud with pauses where the commas are, it'll start sounding weird when you get to the "for, energy" because in natural speech you also would not insert a pause between those two words.

The example you modified also has a completely different meaning than the other sentence, suggesting that this is a flawed analogy - your example means that the music teacher is married (and so is the football coach) which is completely different from suggesting that they are married to one another, as the base sentence does. If you eliminate the commas from your example, as you suggest would be acceptable, it would actually make the sentence ungrammatical again because the subject would be plural and the verb would no longer agree.

However, in the case of the resolution the commas do not modify the meaning in any way shape or form - whether they are placed in the sentence or not it still means the usfg should take one or the other or both of these described actions related to energy.

A more accurate analogy, using the same base sentence: "The music teacher from your high school and the football coach from mine are married with, and/or devoted to, one another." This is awkward for the same reasons and also quite clearly demonstrates that rule 13 applies, because it is not a noun phrase in question, but a verb phrase. Within those four resolutions, the noun phrases are "the usfg" and the remainder of the sentence starting at "energy production" onward. Any comma usage to offset parts of the noun phrase in the predicate (the object of the verb phrase) would be perfectly valid and would match up with the example you provide.

edit:
Page 2, Rule 2, commas after prepositions are wrong:
http://www.iupui.edu/~uwc/pdf/comma%20usage%20a%20few.pdf
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 12:05:27 AM by psadow » Logged
antonucci23
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« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2012, 07:47:02 AM »

Phil,

Your concerns may have merit.  They bear further investigation.

I admit partial responsibility.  I cursorily vetted the commas during the Sunday session after investigating a distinct word placement question that seemed more impactful.  I was inattentive.  As the G. Gordon Liddy of Commagate '12, I may have brought great shame upon us all.

Before we proceed, allow me to suggest two steps.  

First, it would be helpful if you enumerated your grammatical concerns in a set of bullet-points.  I enjoy a rhetorical sneer as much as the next joyless scold, but you may accidentally elide some of your separate concerns in the process.  For example, your concern over post-prepositional placement wasn't as clear as it might have been in your first post.

Secondly, I would recommend that you suggest an alternative to your criticism.  What would be the grammatically correct version of the resolution?  I suspect you'd prefer the simple removal of the commas.  Under the circumstances, though, we should strive for pellucid clarity.  Write out a resolution free of punctuation errors.

Your concerns over adherence to punctuation rules seem relevant.  Your concerns over awkwardness seem less relevant.  The resolution is more analogous to a contract than a poem.  Distinguishing rules of punctuation from personal stylistic preferences will probably expedite the resolution of your concerns.

Thank you for your attentive efforts.  The debate community's collective vetting is one of the strengths of the topic-crafting process.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 08:00:46 AM by antonucci23 » Logged
kevin kuswa
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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2012, 08:04:20 AM »

i did some comma vetting as well and think they are correctly placed.  i read the links and the posts about this and still think we needed to separate the and/or phrase because we want to make sure that RESTRICTIONS ON links up to ENERGY PRODUCTION if the aff/reader decides to omit the and/or clause.  This means the "and/or" is not exactly the same as the prepositional phrases discussed in the purdue guidelines, not to mention the unique circumstances of a resolution.

Consequently, we want to make sure that affs that decide not to act through incentives do not need to defend the word "for" in an awkward attempt to make sense of production.

Here's the rez again--if you want to read it without the incentives option, you have to make sure you are clear on what words are not being included.  This should read like this:

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power.

WITHOUT THE COMMAS, IT COULD READ LIKE THIS (which would be incorrect because it omits financial incentives instead of the lareger phrase):

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on and substantially increase energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power.

In other words, we needed to make clear that the wording associated with the "and/or" was VERY CLEAR--and to do that, we use commas.  The choice is to reduce restrictions OR increase incentives OR both.  The choice does not allow someone to mix and match the reduce restrictions with an increase in energy--the increase has to be connected to incentives.

Read it one more time, put some nice pauses after the commas, remind yourself that we are trying to write THREE possible sentences within the resolution through the use of the "and/or", and you'll probably agree with the way it is now.

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase financial incentives for, energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power.

Antonucci has a good post on this--we could be wrong, but the current reasoning has some merit and seems to outweigh at this point.  Could we still be terribly wrong?  Sure, but you should give it another look and see.  

Kevin
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 08:06:19 AM by kevin kuswa » Logged
kevin kuswa
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2012, 08:27:08 AM »

just contacted a colleague on the commas questions and have another comment:

we are still right with our usage because the "and/or" has to be seen as a different animal than simply "and" or "or."

i find myself in the odd position of defending the "and/or" in the context of the commas we are using precisely because the "and/or" does not make sense in traditional usage.

In other words, if we had a topic that spelled out the three options implied by the "and/or", we would not want to use the commas...

1. a) the person should go to the store and buy fish to cook.
1. b) the person should go to the store and buy fish and buy meat with herbs to cook.
1. c) the person should go to the store and buy meat with herbs to cook.

BUT, with an and/or, the sentence could use commas for clarity:

1. the person should go to the store and buy fish, and/or meat with herbs, to cook.

Yes, in this example, the commas might not be necessary, but in the resolution the phrasing is complicated enough to warrant the commas for clarity.

I hope this helps--it may not.  In my mind, "and/or" in a resolution slightly changes normal usage and calls for clarity first.

Kevin


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Malgor
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2012, 11:12:17 AM »

i think that in the middle of one of the commas the committee accidentally deleted the section of the resolutions that have the mainstream renewables affs. can y'all go ahead and correct that?
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antonucci23
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2012, 11:38:40 AM »

After some research, I'll advance a few propositions.

1. I don't see this particular dispute as having any influence on the outcome of actual debates.  For most, this statement is sufficient reason to tune out completely.

2. Phil's cited rules are not always rules.  They're suggestions from style guides.  The "rule" about placing a comma after a preposition is clearly a case in point.  That's not a rule; there are exceptions.  The use of the comma is often not subject to the same sort of absolutes that might govern other grammatical disputes.

3. I do not have the expertise to answer the very narrow question of whether "and/or" creates an exception to otherwise generally accepted style guidelines.  I thought that this usage adhered to the more general rule that *paired* commas can set off word groups that might interrupt the flow of the sentence, which is why my initial instinct was with Kevin's reading.

I'm going to consult several professional writers and English professors on this question.  I'll post here if they say anything illuminating.
 
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psadow
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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2012, 04:26:34 PM »

A concise list of the grammatical concerns:

-Both commas as a whole are wrong because they offset an essential/restrictive clause

Even though and/or can mean either one or the other or both, if you read the sentence without the and/or clause it has completely different meaning - that part of the sentence cannot be safely omitted even if one of the options suggests a choice between two alternatives.

Each comma individually is wrong for two separate reasons:

-The first, preceding and/or, divides up a verb phrase


Eliminating the second comma from the sentence clearly demonstrates that that comma is incorrect:
Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on, and/or substantially increase financial incentives for energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power.

This situation is similar to any of the following examples:
Incorrect: The team walked, and/or ran five miles
Incorrect: The group wasn't paying attention to, and/or didn't care about the game. [this example is particularly relevant because it demonstrates that even in cases where prepositions are included to agree with different verbs in the construction, a comma should not be used to break up the verb phrases]

-The second, following for, breaks up a preposition from its related noun phrase/noun phrase, creating an incomplete prepositional phrase

The function of a preposition is to connect the verb to its object; the words 'for' or 'on' can never be final in any clause or sentence. One would never write, "I looked for." That does not answer the question of for what the subject is looking. If you bracket out the clause within the parenthesis "and/or substantially increase financial incentives for" it suffers from the same problem - a failure to identify for what the financial incentives should be increased. Strictly speaking, the sentence as written does not actually specify for what one should increase financial incentives.

While bracketing out the second part of the verb construction does make it clearer to what 'on' is referring, at the same time it makes it less clear to what 'for' refers.

--

The alternatives:

The simplest, as you say, would be to remove the commas entirely. This would be satisfactory to make the sentence grammatical. Constructions like "the children looked for and(/or) played on the swing set" are fairly common - given that each verb has a separate preposition and each preposition must also connect to a noun to form a complete noun phrase, there are only 3 valid ways to read the sentence if the and is an and/or:

The children looked for the swing set.
The children played on the swing set.
The children (both) looked for the swing set and (also) played on the swing set.

The best option I could come up with that goes beyond simply removing the commas is as follows:

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on energy production in the United States - of coal, crude oil, natural gas, and/or nuclear power - and/or should substantially increase financial incentives for energy production in the United States - of coal, crude oil, natural gas, and/or nuclear power.

There is no simple solution, as far as I can tell. It is quite a tricky issue.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 04:30:00 PM by psadow » Logged
ScottyP
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2012, 05:17:52 PM »

Regardless of grammar fine points, these resolutions are ludicrous. A substantial x via one of 7 substantial y's? What the hell does a substantial reduction on restrictions mean?

If you don't see that the process has nuked the fridge at this point I don't know what to tell you. High school has produced 2 better worded energy topics in the last 15 years than college.
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