Monday, July 31, 2006

Dear Aino

Aino Fashion Sense:
Aino loves to wear
floral print blouses
made by child labour
camps in Asia.

Dear Aino,

We haven't heard from you since the forum in Estonia. Is everything okay? Where have you been all this time?

Looking for Aino

Dear Looking,

Why don't you go home and look for your personality? Then you can join BBC News, Johnny Ace. Was I where, you ask? I busy making soup and being dead. But I eat soup -- now I'm A-Okay, bucko! Soup cure everything, even stupid questions. Hope you cross-ex better than you write letter to Aino. Okay, you go jump off balcony now -- be fast! You cannot jump slow, I know. Now worry, if you fall and make ouchy mess, bear will eat you like good times on vacation. Excuse me, bimbo, busy lady woman Aino need to step on baby rabbit now.

Dear Aino,

Do you think viewing porn can make you blind?


Hey monkey, maybe you change your name to loser, no? Every time Aino read your question, she die a little inside. Of course, porn make you blind, can’t you see, Aino wear thick glasses. But still, Aino love porn. Aino addicted to porn and handguns. Aino love porn so much, Aino puts lots of butter and salt on her porn. Porn give good vitamins, but be careful, never stick porn in your eye, then you need glasses. Here Aino advice: change your name to Benjamin Franklin, then maybe somebody like you. Oh no, it’s time for Aino to polish her spoons – later, playa hater.

Dear Aino,

Have you noticed the beautiful landscape in the mountains? It is truly marvelous. After the rain today, I noticed a rainbow, and it was just divine.

Appreciating Nature

Dear Pathetic,

Thank you for saying nothing, Sing Song Time! “Ding Dong, the witch is dead! Bookcase go BOOM on your head.” Listen, Dr. of Dumbass, Aino no like rainbows. When Aino see rainbows, she chokes, because Aino allergic to rainbows. Recess is over – time for school. Learn your facts, backwards boy. Logic is everybody’s friend, but yours. Bows of rain no go in hair, so they no bows. Plus, when rain elbow come, there no rain, so, in factuality, they just curvy colours in wet sky. If Aino want see curvy colours, she take LSD. Aino no wait for rain. Aino old. Aino see curvy colours when she want see colours. You can’t tell Aino what to do! Keep it up and down go your pants – got it? You think you’re better than me? Aino eat dirt! What you eat? Spaghetti? Go back to planet loser lips and flush face down bowl de toilet. I almost forgot: must tell doctor to punch your face. Maybe then, you no waste Aino time. Ooops, Aino lost her teeth. Now Aino must go spit on happy dogs, bye bye!

Day 10: Bait and Kitsch

Debaters spend most of the year pretending to be responsible, rational individuals, but for one night a year at the IDEA Youth Forum, they can show their true colors. On Kitsch Night, debaters, coaches, and trainers swap clothes, makeup tips, and even personalities in a quest for the perfect "kitschy" outfit: something outrageous, mismatched, and unexpected. Everyone has their own tales of Kitsch Night...but here's a few snapshots of mine:

Noel struts his stuff in a stunning outfit Posted by Picasa

The "Multi-purpose Room" shows its true versatility while transformed into a trendy disco Posted by Picasa

A thirsty Jeanne prepares to bite an Emo teenager while Buffy the Vampire Slayer saves the day...should I be concerned that the vampire on the left is my roommate? Posted by Picasa

Veronica helps the lovely Margo remove makeup after a hard day running from the Paparazzi (a.k.a. the organizers) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 30, 2006


As you all know, during the medieval night festivities, there was a grand contest to win the hand of a fair maiden, the beautiful Romanian Princess Catalina. While many valiant knights from all over the world took up the tasks, it was the legendary South African hero, Popo Mfubu who won the great honour.

Mfubu was humble in victory, greeting Princess Catalina in a gentlemanly manner. However, not too long after medieval night was over, scandal has broke out. Princess Catalina is PREGNANT!

When informed of the news, the brave knight, for the first time in his life, was in a state of terrible fright, muttering, “All I did was touch her shoulder.” Well Popo, a touch is all it takes nowadays.

Will Prince Popo pop the marriage question? That’s not certain. For now, all he’s been popping is his eyes. Bewildered, Popo was heard saying, “Oh my goodness, my mom’s gonna smack my bottom for this!” Fortunately, the distraught Popo is being comforted by his mixed team.

Things are working out much better for Princess Catalina. Just this morning, Catalina gave birth to a healthy, three ounce baby teddy bear. The cheerful mother smiled, “This is truly a blessing. My husband Popo and I are very happy.”

Prince Popo interrupted, “Husband! I just touched your shoulder, lightly brushed it really – accidently.”

Well Popo, that’s all it takes in Romania.

“But I thought it was just a game?” pleaded Popo.

Popo, there are no games in Romania.

But there are baby names. During the baby shower (an all girl party for mother and child), Princess Catalina named the lucky baby, PoCa, after Popo and Catalina. “PoCa, like the dance, but spelled differently,” giggled Catalina to a room full of her jealous girlfriends, which included Barbie and a poster of Hermione from Harry Potter.

Despite Popo’s shock, reluctance, dismay, facial ticks, and panic attacks, it looks as though the regal Princess will carry the new family through all of this. True to her royal elegance, Princess Catalina is a beacon of calm and strength. Catalina promises, “In a few days, when he is strong enough, our baby PoCa will be released into the wild.”

The last they were seen together, the stunning Princess Catalina was explaining traditional Romanian ways to the handsome knight, Prince Popo. Appropriately, things seemed to end happily ever after, when the royal couple finally embraced in a friendly hug.

This just in: Catalina is expecting three more children, PoCalina, CoPo, and Copa Cabana.

Korean Debater Stung by Bee, Rushes to Hospital!

Fresh off of Korea’s Karl Popper victory, proud Korean debater Albert decided to celebrate his nation’s victory by skipping through the fields of wild flowers, berries, and horse dung. “I was so happy, I couldn’t control myself,” said Albert, “Before I knew it, I was nude, running through the meadow, singing Korean national songs.” Albert’s celebratory singing soon caught the attention of a bee, which stung Albert in the neck. “I’m allergic to all types of bugs, but especially to Romanian bees, because they are really fat. They are like Japanese Sumo bees.”

Albert was rushed to a nearby hospital. Ten hours later, Albert reached the hospital, to find that it was closed for a Kitsch party. Fortunately, a skilled janitor opened the door and poured some poisonous bleach into Albert’s wound, and began the surgery.

When Albert awoke, he was back in his room at Hotel Belvedere. “At first, I felt normal, but when I stood up, I noticed a sharp object sticking out of my bummy.” Upon inspection, Albert noticed that he had grown a giant bee stinger. “I tripped over myself, but with a few jumps, soon, I was flying above the entire forum.”

Ever since being bitten, Albert is highly attracted to flowers, spending hours licking them, instead of preparing for the water topic. “I have no time for preparation,” said an upset Albert, “I have honey to make.” Upon saying this, Albert squatted and then jumped back up, revealing a jar of all natural, non-pasteurized, honey.

“Want to try some?” asked Albert.

Upon trying some, I gasped, “What’s in this?”

Albert smiled, “Just my honey, and so it’ll keep well on the shelves, some hydrogenated oil.”

I collapsed to the floor, as volunteers contacted the hospital.

Buy fresh Albert Honey for only 9.99!

Uniting Diverse Topics for a Modest Solution By Jonathan Not Too Swift

People are 80% water. That’s a lot of water ladies and gentlemen, just sitting there, going to waste! I, no I mean we, my team and I, propose a two-part plan. For the first part, I pledge that every old person, everyone over 25, be turned into water, so future generations, the young people, will not be abused by global warming or pollution any longer. What good are you if you are over 23 and filled with water that a poor, starving, thirsty, limping, dehydrated child with one eye desperately needs? Folks, I ask of you, I beg of you, please give your water to the children. I have a plan, dear, honored, wonderful, lovely judges. The CRC is creating a machine, the Miracle Maker, which will squish the water out of everyone over 21 years old. Some may say this is inhumane, but let’s be honest folks, look at old people, they’re already covered in wrinkles. Just some applied pressure, and we can squeeze the last bit of water out of them and put it to good use. Pensioners will become raisins soon enough; we might as well help the natural process, so future generations of children will have lots of fresh water for great summer activities, like making ice, filling up the pool, water fights, and having wet t-shirt contests. For the second part of the plan, once the children are well hydrated, they will be moist and juicy, which makes for good eating – mmmm, mmmm, Kentucky Fried Children. It’s finger licking good – literally.

How to Play Scopa

Though we don't have any Italian cards here, the game of Scopa is becoming increasingly popular at this year's Forum.

For those who would like to learn to play ... click here.

Back in the Hotel Bathroom By Edgar Allan Pour

Even though we have full-sized bodies, hotel bathrooms notoriously provide us with tiny packages of shampoo and miniscule boxes of soap. At first, I’m usually quite excited to have my own tiny packages of hygienic cleaning supplies. In fact, when I begin showering, I eagerly tremble to try out my new soap and shampoo. The little soap box looks at me, asking me to use it. It stares at me, and stares at me. My heart pounds louder and louder. I cannot resist, I must tear open the package. “Look how small,” it is, I convince my reflection in the mirror, “this bar of soap is soooo cute.” With the tiny bar of soap in my hand, I feel like a monstrous giant. Puffing out my chest, I loudly roar, tearing open the package of shampoo, squirting it into my . . . ooops, most of it hits the shower doors instead. The other problem is that I don’t know what to do with the empty shampoo package. I try to place it on the shower tray, but the crumpled package falls right through. As the water pours over me, and I stare at the transparent doors, I wonder why they make shower doors like windows. It’s not like the toilet is a beautiful view. And who wants someone to look in, when they’re scrubbing down there? All the fun quickly dissolves, just like the soap, which midway through the shower pops out of my hand to land into the pool of bubbles below. The water refuses to go easily down the drain – perhaps the drain is too tiny as well. In any case, I soon find myself banging my head against the shower door as I search for the soap in the water below. It’s good that the soap is the exact colour as the shower floor. It’s not so bad, because I can wipe my head against the shower doors, soaking up the last bit of shampoo that landed there earlier. By this time, however, the shampoo has begun dripping into my eyes, so I must resort to locating the submerged soap with my toes. When I think I’ve found it, I slip. Fearing a tragic fall, I grab onto the showerhead cord, which wraps around my neck, choking me. Tied up, I stare down at the tiny bar of soap, which lies only inches away. I try to grab the tiny mangled soap cluster with my eyelashes, but the soap slips away, laughing at me, slowly twirling down the drain, “Weeee!” The room turns an ominous absinthe colour, shrieking violins play, and Alfred Hitchcock’s bulbous profile appears. Gasping, I ask him to help me, but instead, he just mutters something witty in his cute British accent, and walks away. Worst of all, the water is still needlessly running – bye, bye mother earth.

Day 9: Electives Begin!

After a day of hard work on the water topic yesterday, debaters took a break from Karl Popper Debate with some electives in the evening. Participants signed up for one of four workshops: "British Parliamentary Debate," "How to Get a Scholarship to Debate in the United States," "Impromptu Speaking," or "Effective Delivery."

Kajar explains the basics of British Parliamentary Debate

Trainers and coaches debate the resolution: "This house would bring back Vlad the Impaler"

Debaters view clips of American Policy debate and learned about how to land a debate scholarship at a university in the United States

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Homework! Fun Fun!

Having trouble figuring out the Tragedy of the Commons article? Here are some handy dandy study questions posted by request!

1. What does Hardin mean when he says that there are problems which have "no technical solution"? What are some of these problems?

2. Why does Hardin bring up the game of tic-tack-toe?

3. What does Hardin say he will attempt to prove in his essay?

4. What does Hardin mean when he says we need to "exorcise the spirit of Adam Smith"? ("exorcise" means to drive out, as in a demon).

5. Why does Hardin call his theory the "tragedy of the commons"?

6. Why, in Hardin's theory, would a herdsman continue to graze the land even though it would be bad for the commons?

7. Explain what Hardin means when he says "freedom in a commons brings ruin to all." How might this analysis be used to formulate a negative argument for our debate resolution?

8. Explain what Hardin means when he says that the "oceans of the world continue to suffer from the survival of the philosophy of the commons." Can you think of specific examples?

9. List several options Hardin suggests for avoiding the "tragedy of the commons" in the US National Parks. Can any of these be used as potential negative counterproposals to affirmative plans? How?

10. What does Hardin mean when he calls pollution a tragedy of the commons in reverse? What does he mean when he says that pollution can be solved through coercion?

11. What does Hardin mean when he says that "the morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed"? Why does Hardin include this key insight? How might this idea be used to critique rights-based affirmative cases?

12. How does Hardin critique the welfare state as it concerns the human population? How does he end up delivering a "painful" critique of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How might this critique be employed in a debate round?

13. What does Hardin mean when he says that "conscience is self-eliminating"? In other words, what is the problem with appealing to people's conscience to "constrain their actions for the greater good"?

14. What are the two messages a man receives, according to Hardin, when society appeals to his conscience?

15. Explain the following: "What is the meaning of the word conscience? When we use the word responsibility in the absence of substantial sanctions are we not trying to browbeat a free man in a commons into acting against his own interest?"

16. What does the author mean with his bank robber analogy? What point about conscience and responsibility is he trying to prove?

17. What does Hardin mean by "coercion"? Why is it better than an appeal to conscience?

18. Hardin says "An alternative to the commons need not be perfectly just to be preferable." What does he mean? What are some of the potentially unjust, yet preferable, alternatives to the commons?

19. Brainstorm three separate negative arguments (independent of one another) based on "The Tragedy of the Commons."

20. What kind of a definition of "common property" would a negative need to use in order to win a debate on a "Tragedy of the Commons" critique?

21. List 5 Affirmative cases which would link to a Hardin-based negative case.

The Lonely Little Water Jug, By the Brothers Very Grimm

Once upon a time, there was a jug, who had two plastic step sisters. One made all the drinkers bubble, while the other was smooth and refreshing. “Oh, why aren’t I like my beautiful sisters?” asked the jug. They are tall and skinny, but I’m round and heavy. They are easy to lift and come in different colours like blue, and they have fancy labels made of colourful paper. But I’m difficult to lift, and I’m nothing but a plain, clear, water jug. Nobody drinks from me.

Well, this continued for years, until Tuesday, when suddenly, all the empty plastic bottles had no where to biodegrade. “What’s biodegrade?” asked the jug.

“It takes thousands and thousands and thousands of years for plastic to dissolve into the earth,” said the trash bin, who could only count up to a thousand. “Amongst other things, like gas and boy band music, the earth is being poisoned by plastic.”

At that moment, the water jug looked at the earth, whose water was quickly drying up. “Help me,” said mother earth, “I only have a little bit of water left.”

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer jumped in, “I can save you, I will carry your water in my antlers!”

“That won’t work,” said Snow White, “We must collect the water with our hands and put it into this here jug.”

The last bit of the earth’s water dripped into the jug.

“Now go,” said Queen Latifah, “Go and water those plants, so you will evaporate into the air, condense into the clouds, and fall back down as rain.”

“Or precipitate,” said the water jug, “That’s the earth’s natural water, or hydrologic, cycle. Evaporation, Transpiration, Condensation, and Percipitation!”

“Yes it is, smarty pants,” said Shrek. “Although I love dirty swamps and even dirtier princesses, I too need clean water to live. That’s magical water you got there. It will clean and replenish the earth once and for all.”

“If I do this,” said the little water jug, “will mother earth live?”

“What, can’t you hear?” said Shrek, “I said it’s magical, but you must hurry.”

“I think I can, I think I can,” said the jug, wobbling over to some dying plants. How can I pour myself out, it thought? But then, the jug remembered that it was in a fairy tale, where anything could happen, if you believe. So, the jug believed in herself. “I’m proud to be me,” she said, clicking her ruby red slippers. Then, up she went, tilting, tilting, tilting, she was about to pour onto the flowers . . .

. . . but then, someone snatched her handle and poured her into two bottles. The smelly man blew his nose into one bottle, sealed it, and labeled it no bubbles. Then, the man farted and farted and FARRRR-Rat-a-tat-tat-RRRTED! into the other bottle, quickly sealing it, and then, labeling it bubbles. “There we are,” he laughed, “I can make some sweet money off of this!”

At lunch time, eager diners quickly snatched up the plastic bottles. “Smooth and refreshing,” said one, while the other took a sip and said, “Mine tastes like fart.”

Moral: Exploit the earth while you can make a buck, so you can buy a Porsche.

More country night mayhem...

Here's a few more photos of the country exhibition night sent to me by readers. Want to see your photos up here? Email them to me at!

"Lithuanian Toughness"

"The US Delegation"

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Day 8: Building a Team

Friday morning began with the announcement of the new mixed teams to be used in the final tournament of the Forum. Each team consists of three debaters and one coach, all drawn from different countries. The new mixed teams got to know each other and the rest of their new labs with ice breakers in the morning, and the first topic discussion on the issue of water scarcity. Over the next few days, teams will work hard to decide on and research cases for the upcoming tournament.

The days finished with the Medieval Party, which combined a traditional party with a teambuilding activity for the new lab groups. Each lab competed in 10 different heroic challenges to win the hand of Princess Catalina.

A few highlights below...

Members of lab teams try their hand at archery Posted by Picasa

Here a lab attempts to rescue a magical potion from the center of an enchanted lake without stepping into it. Posted by Picasa

Cheron and Hernan enter the banquet hall as members of the medieval court Posted by Picasa

Labs competed in 10 different challenges to win the Princess of the Medieval Court Posted by Picasa

This Day in Romanian History

In 70 BC, the slave Spartacus led a revolt against the Roman army. Is Spartacus Romanian? Quite possibly. Three out of four doctors think so. But, there is no need to dwell on definitions or statistics, so let’s move on. Some say the greatest Spartacus moment involved several defeats over the Roman legions, thus inspiring movements to empower the social underclass and ethnically segregated. In actuality, Spartacus’s greatest legacy is giving us women who take their clothes off. Spartacus inspires a film version starring American Kirk Douglas and a television film with Croatian Goran Višnjić. Kirk Douglas is famous for being the father of Michael Douglas, who starred in Basic Instinct, with co-star Sharon Stone and Sharon Stone’s body – congratulations! And Goran is in a music video with the beautiful, gyrating hips of Madonna. None of this would have been possible without the great sacrifices made by history’s most famous Romanian, -- all hail Spartacus! Let us now observe a minute of silence . . . and pictures of Sharon Stone and Madonna.

Romania Decides to NOT Join the EU

The Reason: Many EU nations are developing anti-smoking laws, but several Romanians refuse to give up their cigarettes, claiming, “When you are surrounded by wolves, thieves, and debaters, you get nervous – you have to smoke.”

Smoky Mountains: Our mountain air is ionized, which means that the ions in our cigarettes fill the air.

Health Problems?: In Romania, our only health problem is bears. Bears are afraid of fire, so it is a necessity to walk around with a stick in your mouth that is on fire. In the past, we used to impale and burn visitors on giant stakes, but that wasn’t good for the tourist industry. So, in actual fact, the new method of smoking is much more humane. Plus, you can make clouds come out of your mouth, just like the sky!

Why Water?

Even though training sessions for the mixed team tournament is well under way, many participants are wondering why they must debate a topic on the world’s fresh water supply? Certainly, there are many other, much tastier beverages that are in scant supply. Because of this, and due to the forum’s respect for democracy and voting, Al Gore’s next film and the IDEA Youth Forum Romania new mixed team’s topic is: "We gotta protect the world’s fresh beer supply, man." Research is to begin immediately.

The Latest Youth Forum Game

This is a great game that anyone can play, but it requires keen powers of observation and a strong stomach. Gather all of your roommates. The more, the merrier. The game is called “Guess whose hair is on the soap?” Whoever guesses the quickest, gets to vomit first!

Please Respect Romanian Culture

Romania has a long and luxurious history, having been inhabited since 2000 BC, by rocks and mountains. Since 513 BC, some people settled here to throw rocks at or “thrash” one another. Because of their “thrashing,” they became known as Thracians to the ancient Greeks. Historically, the Romanians worshipped Dionysus, the god of wine and hard partying. The Greeks liked this aspect of Romanian culture so much that they decided to join the partying and worship Dionysus as well. As guests, we must politely remember: when in Romania, do as the Romanians. In order to respect the culture of Romania, it is extremely important that each debater thrash one another with wine bottles, partying well into the night, doing the dance of Dionysus. Romaniacs, Come one, Come all: at 21:00 tonight in the front lobby, there is a mad orgy, followed by a brief snack (of pig ears in jello), and then, the customary invasion of Brasov. Bring your spears!

All Together Now ...

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Country Night Photos

Wednesday night was Country Exhibition night at this year's Youth Forum, an event that many debaters look forward to all year. Participating countries bring local foods for visitors to sample and wear traditional costumes to show off their cultural heritage. See below for some of my favorite photos of country night. Send me your photos at and I will add them to the blog!
Mongolians display some cultural flair

Israel flies its flag over a table of popular giveaways

The Korean delegation sports traditional dress

New Yorkers show their true colors.

Traditional Romanian Folk Song – Brought to You by Channel 23, Etno, and Translated by Dalbir

Look around, look around, La-La-La-La Looook around,
To the field of gree, gree, ee, ee, eee,
Look around to the field of green.

Where have all the fla-la-la, all the fla-la-la,
where have all the flowers gone?

Hey, they’ve jumped onto my shirt!

Medieval Night FIGHT:Slovakia versus Korea

Tonight is the much anticipated medieval night, when finalists Slovakia can finally have its revenge against the winning Korean team. In honour of Romanian tradition, the two teams will have a re-match, in a medieval battle. Each team is allowed to use traditional medieval weapons, such as leeches, uncleanliness, and infectious disease. The first team to get scurvy wins

Shop, Till They Drop

A female Romanian volunteer
carries up wood that will be carved
into a trophy stand by Prof. Robert Trapp
As indicated in the first post, we all know what it’s like to travel up a mountain – a small price to pay for a view atop the world. But, imagine if you had to make such a trip several times. Did you observe that Romanian volunteers are repeatedly, and willingly, trekking up and down these mountains? Did you notice that they climb back up with heavy bags loaded on their backs?
You see, for the first time in forum history, you can be spoiled like royalty. Volunteers here are willing to not only take your money down to get exchanged, but are also willing to do your shopping for you!

Here, a volunteer eagerly gives blood,
before he runs off to calculate a visiting
coach's tax return.

When I asked a few volunteers how they have the energy to do this, they simply collapsed to the floor, gasping for water. At this point, doctors arrived, not to help the tired volunteers, but to take their blood. On the side, volunteers must donate their blood to trainers whose livers have been overworked during the country exhibition or “alcohol tasting” night.
Yesterday, while debaters enjoyed a trip to the city, a volunteer was seen giving his much beloved kidney to a needy coach. Thank you slave donkeys, I mean volunteers.

Romania, Land of Wild Flowers

Geographically, Romania is one of the most beautiful nations in the history of the entire universe, since the beginning of time. For instance, only steps outside your hotel, you can witness the numerous varieties of local wild flowers, known officially as the purple flowers, the white flowers, the yellow flowers, the tiny blue flowers, and the abundant green flowers, also known as uncut grass.

Lucky Debaters!

Isn’t it odd that for a topic concerning the world’s fresh water supply, that we have such an abundant choice of water on the tables, either from a jug, or from bottles, bubbles or no bubbles. If there is not a water problem before this camp, certainly, when it is done, the world will run out of water. While the rest of the world searches for fresh water, debaters can easily pick up a wide variety of tasty water choices. It must really suck to be thirsty, I mean, a non-debater.

So Many Trips, So Little Time

There are three upcoming trips offered to debaters. Deciding on only one can be quite difficult, so let’s break down the various resolutions. The first one is a hike into the wilderness, also known as the “Do you value your life?” trip. Interestingly, this trip is free, because you will need to save your money for the medical bills. The next one is a trip to Dracula’s castle, which is a trip that promises to give you immortality, in exchange, of course, for a bite to the neck and your soul. Immortality comes at a cost though; hence, this is the most expensive trip. The third one is a trip to a fancy castle, famous because it is decorated with silver and gold. This is the trip if you need some extra money. Be sure to take a spoon with you and scrape off some of the silver and gold. Then, you will be able to pay for a trip to Dracula’s castle, after which, because you’d become a vampire, you will be able to travel through the wilderness frightening bears.

Today in Cultural Miscommunication

While walking down the street, a Romanian lady approached me and said, “Hello, take my berry for lay?” For a moment, this happily married man and father was shocked. Fortunately, she was selling berries and “lay” or leu is the name of Romanian currency. However, if you are ever in North America, please do not approach anyone with such a question, unless you are in Las Vegas and would like to unite the world through perversity.

When the Stars are Out

Every night, under the beautiful starry sky, a bear has been visiting the hotel dumpster, trying to fatten itself up as much as possible and, as easily as possible, before winter. However, it turns out that the bear is actually a cleverly deployed distraction. While forum participants stare out at the bear, a suspicious stranger goes to work, sneaking into rooms. So, be careful! The dangerous culprit is an out of work American actor who has moved to Romania; his name is Count Dracula. Since he overacts in every one of his films, and despite being an inspiration for Jim Carrey’s new School of Over-actors, Dracula has not found much quality work in recent years, being turned down for a role as Hamlet in the seven hundredth BBC film production.
Dracula as Hamlet, Prince of Denmark/Darkness.
If you see this unemployed thespian, don't run away.
All he wants is love and to be loved. Please note:
Youth Forum Romania is not liable in the likely event
that you contract Hepatits-C from Dracula.

As a result, Dracula has been reduced to bothering forum participants, urging them to sit patiently, while he performs a monologue about the undead or laughs hideously, while peaking through his cape. Joining Dracula, ever since his Blade series has ended, Wesley Snipes has also been spotted in Romania, hoping to make a buddy cop comedy with Dracula and, everybody’s favorite, Tom Hanks. Romania is famous for being an excellent cinematic location, for such films as Cold Mountain and American Pie Goes to Romania. Now, Romania can proudly say Hollywood stars are here to stay!

Call for Pictures!

Calling all Forum photographers. Comment on this message with the URL of your online photo albums so that everyone can see them. As they come in, we'll add them to the main blog page as well!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Contest: Identify the Countries

Natasha from Uzbekistan wants to know how many countries are represented in this picture. The winner gets a special and potentially valuable prize.

WARNING! Beware of the Bears

Midnight Snack: A bear peruses the
trash cans next to the Forum site.

Are you happy? Are you a debater in Romania? Do you value life, especially your own? Did you know that the Romanian mountain forests are full of vicious debater-eating bears? Are you still happy?

Currently, I am wetting my pants, but that’s a personal medical condition. As for the bears, in all honesty, I am frightened, especially when I discovered the origins of this town’s name. Predeal comes from the Latin, for “Pray” and “deal,” when Greek historian Herodotus observed: “Pray for your sweet lives, a great deal of bears roam these woods!”

Although he is long dead, Herodotus is very wise, for who wants to be eaten by a bear? Not me, that’s for sure – I’m vegetarian. That would just be too ironic of a fate.

Rather than being eaten, it is best to take the necessary precautions around bears. Stick to the trails, walk in groups, and don’t go frolicking into the trees. Bears don’t like noise, but that shouldn’t be a problem whenever two or three debaters get together. While you walk the trail, just debate something. Here is a topic: Let it be resolved, the bears will eat you.

Like trainers, bears are attracted to free food, so don’t walk into the woods carrying food. Also, it’s not a good idea to throw food in the woods either, because the trainers will chase after it, and bears don’t like that.

If you happen to see a bear, it is best to remain still and speak in monotone. Don’t make any sudden movements. In other words, act like a judge. While the bear is deciding to attack you, just tell the bear about the Convention for the Rights of the Child. The bear should understand how wrong it is to eat a teenager and then proceed to devour your coach.

What do you do if a bear attacks you? Well, according to the experts, first you have to determine what type of bear it is. During your eight minutes of prep time, determine whether you are facing a grizzly bear or a black bear. If it is a grizzly bear, you should play dead, but understand that even a gentle swipe by a bear’s paw can kill a human being. If it is a black bear, you should fight it, but understand that even a gentle swipe by a bear’s paw can kill a human being. In conclusion, according to my research, even a gentle swipe by a bear’s paw can kill a human being. Thank you experts for your guidance of our safety.

The locals call bears “Aaaah!” If you hear anyone saying that, run. While all this talk about bears surrounding you may be frightening, there is something positive. If you must miss a lab or debate, there is no better excuse than being eaten by a bear.

Bear Safety Links:

posted by Dalbir

Day 6: And the Winner Is...Korea!

In a 4-3 decision, Korea defeated Slovakia in the final round of the IDEA Karl Popper Debate World Championship.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And the Final Teams Are...

Korea 6 (Albert Hong, Tae Hyun Ahn, Seo Hee Im)
Slovakia (Matej Cibik, Lubomir Svacina, Vratko Strmen)

In a spellbinding semi-final round, Korea 6 (with a 4-3 decision against the Czech Republic), made Youth Forum history by becoming the first team from Asia to become finalists. Tomorrow, in Brasov, they will be trying to take that a step further and take the KPD World Championship Trophy for a first ever journey to Korea. However, it won't be easy! Slovakia (with a 5-2 decision against Croatia) will be trying to claim its second Championship title since their win in Slovakia Youth Forum 2002. The final certainly promises to be a tense and excellent debate.

On a sidenote, neither team will be prepping too much, given the annual country expo that is planned for tonight. Aside from the kitsch party, the country expo may just be the most anticipated social event of the Forum. International food, drinks, music, and debaters singing national songs, is there a better way to relax after the World Championships? I know this blogger is excited to see what the new attending countries have brought to share. I hear the Netherlands has brought samples of what makes them a most popular tourist destination . . . I was talking about clogs of course. What were you thinking about?


Korea 6 vs. Czech Republic
Slovakia vs. Croatia

Quarterfinals Underway

The quarterfinal round is about to begin in the 2006 Karl Popper Debate World Championship. The rounds are as follows:

Bulgaria vs. Czech Republic
Korea 6 vs Korea 4
Romania ARDOR vs. Slovakia
Croatia vs. Korea 3

Top 25 Teams in the World Championship Tournament

Below are the rank order of the top 25 teams in this year's World Championship tournament.

Top 25 Ranked Teams

#TeamWinsBallotsH/LPointsOpp Wins
1Romania ARDOR411814.00977.009
2Korea 6410803.00959.009
3Bosnia 1410777.00931.009
4Romania ARES 1310802.00961.008
5Korea 3310764.00914.007
6Romania ARES 239797.00956.008
7Korea 439788.98943.986
11Czech Republic38795.00952.008
12US NY38778.00933.008
15Korea 528801.00961.008
16Korea 127776.00930.009
17Lithuania 127766.00918.0011
22Israel 126748.00899.008
23Kazakhstan 126722.00867.007
25Lithuania 225791.00948.0010

Observations of the Forum

Question: Where are you when you see a group of construction workers staring at a hole in the road, slowly sucking on their cigarettes, while a horse cart passes a busload of debaters? That’s right! Welcome to Romania!

Many were excited to have their airplanes finally land in Romania. Too bad you didn’t know that the bus ride up the mountain is longer than most airplane trips. Speaking of speed, visitors must have been especially excited to notice that road construction here is as quick as in any country. Road construction truly is an international language. It’s a very slow language, filled with lots of bodily scratching, but it is a language nonetheless.

What was longer and more embarrassing than the plane trip and the bus ride? Trying to open up my door. You have to slide the card in the right direction and at the right speed for it too work correctly. Don’t get too distracted by the flashing green light, like I did. I would swipe my card and then giggle at the wonderful green light. “Look, look, green means go!” I would say, clapping my hands.

It looks like a door knob, it smells like a door knob, and it tastes like a door knob, but you cannot turn it. No matter how hard you try, the door knob refuses to turn either right or left. Instead, bathroom door knobs in Romania prefer to be slapped on the top of their door knob heads. Cultural differences truly are what make us unique.

By the way, did you know that before the start of the camp, trainers were debating what is more confusing here, the water topic, or how to use the cutlery on the tables?

For those of you who have just arrived and are especially tired, no worries. Labs have already begun today, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on your sleep.

Many of you may not be able to sleep, after experiencing the most difficult and nervous part of the camp: carrying your bowl of soup. If you can survive this lunch time test of skill and coordination, then you can survive anything at the camp.

This is a great place for exercise. You can run around your hotel room, balancing your laptop in your hands, as you try to get the wireless signal. I noticed three people on their balconies yesterday, holding their laptops in one hand and hanging on for dear life with the other. For those interested in illegal gambling, bets are already being placed as to when the computer system will crash. For those interested in prophecies, bets are being taken for when the electricity will go out, a plague of locusts will swarm the building, and Armageddon will be upon us. I say Tuesday. In other words, the first day of the Karl Popper World Championships – good luck!

Dalbir S. Sehmby

Pairings Announced

The following teams will debate each other in the octafinal round:

Bosnia 1 vs. Bulgaria
Korea 1 vs. Romania ARDOR
Korea 3 vs. USA-New York
Korea 4 vs. Belarus
Korea 5 vs. Korea 6
Romania Ares 1 vs. Croatia
Romania Ares 2 vs. Czech Republic
Serbia vs. Slovakia

Day 5: 16 Teams Advance to Elimination Rounds

The teams advancing to the octafinals round were announced a few moments ago. In order to clear to elimination rounds, teams needed at least 2 wins, 7 ballots, and 776 adjusted speaker points.

Teams Advancing:

Bosnia I
Czech Republic
Korea I
Korea III
Korea IV
Korea V
Korea VI
Romania ARDOR
Romania Ares 1
Romania Ares 2
USA-New York

Day 4: The Games Begin

Ioana Cionea, Director of the 2006 Karl Popper World Championship announces the beginning of the tournament, Wednesday morning in the restaurant of the Belvedere Hotel. All teams will compete in 4 preliminary rounds after which elimination rounds will begin with octafinals.

This year's tournament has adopted slightly different judging and tabulation policies than those used at forums in the past. You can review the additions here.

Debates will occur on the resolution: A policy should be adopted to promote global compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which also served as the topic for the Mixed Teams Tournament at last year's Youth Forum in Macedonia. Background information about the topic can be found on the Forum website here.

Check this blog over the next few days for up to the minute information on tournament news and results.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Day 3: Mayor of Predeal Welcomes YF06

The opening ceremonies of Youth Forum 2006 began with remarks from Mihail Vestea (pictured right), Mayor of the Forum's host town in Predeal, Romania. Mayor Vestea welcomed all the participants and highlighted the importance of discussing the allocation of water resources, a governing challenge that he himself has experienced.

The opening assembly was hosted by Catalina Secreteanu (pictured left), who introduced the organizers of the Forum and representatives of IDEA. A representative of the local police force also addressed the group, warning participants to exercise caution in their surroundings, where bears have been sighted after dark. Most importantly, the 31 participating countries were officially welcomed to the Forum. Special notice was given to Burma, which is participating for the very first time!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Day 2: The Arrivals

Today the Forum moved into high gear with the arrival of the majority of the debaters and coaches. Participants were greeted at the door by a team of volunteers who registered them and gave out packets of materials. As always, debaters wasted no time in getting to know each other.

At left, debaters, coaches, and trainers share a profound cultural bonding experience: a game of Lunch Money, the card game in which you accost other children on the playground. This should get everyone warmed up to discuss the rights of the child in tomorrow's lab sessions!

Forum Schedule Change

A small change has just been made to the schedule of the Mixed Teams Tournament: The quarterfinals round will no longer be a limited preparation debate. Instead, rounds 3 and 4 of the Mixed Teams Tournament will be held in the limited preparation style. The change was designed to allow all participants in the Youth Forum to experience a limited preparation debate as both an affirmative and a negative team.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Day 1 in Predeal

After about 18 hours in transit, Jeanne and I finally arrived in Romania last night along with the last of the trainers and staff. While debaters and coaches won't be arriving until this monday, Youth Forum 2006 has officially begun! Here's a glimpse at what's going on right now in Predeal:

Paricipants in YF06 will enjoy this beautiful view of the Carpathian mountains. Our location high in the mountains makes for a terrific view but the drive is not for the faint of heart, as Slovenian trainer Simon can attest :)

Trainers Jeanne and Fran pose in front of the entrance to Hotel Belvedere. So far it seems that the organizers have made a terrific choice. The food is good and rooms sport balconies and tv sets. Those of you interested in spending time in town should be prepared to get some good exercise. Those seeking an even greater challenge can join Jeanne's alpine runners club.

Right now trainers are attending meetings to prepare for the lab sessions they will teach during the Championship as well as the Mixed Teams Tournament. If you think debaters are argumentative, you should see the professionals!

This is the lobby of Hotel Belvedere, where debaters will lounge and enjoy free wireless internet access. It's so empty now without you! Wishing a safe trip to all those traveling to Romania over the next few days. And to those of you just reading about it, check this blog often for live updates from what promises to be one of the best youth forums yet!