Tuesday, August 19, 2008
"We shall aim for the three P's!" one student in the Leadership Course at the SYDHR Youth Forum said with resolve. As part of the Leadership Course, students are to design their own Constitutions. Many of groups created flags to go with their national birds and national anthems--one of which was "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi. What to do? They said it had been decided democratically.
The SYDHR Youth Forum began on Saturday, August 16th and will continue until this Saturday, August 23rd at Hotel Termal in Mataruska Banja, Serbia. 72 students from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia are attending the Forum, which began with three days of classes in human rights, leadership, and debate and will end with a two-day mixed teams tournament.
Tomorrow is excursion day, and we will visit two monasteries somewhat near Mataruska Banja.
Good students. Good staff. Good place. Good debate.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
A Smolyan Herald investigative reporter has discovered that astronomers at the Smolyan Observatory apparently spend a large portion of their work day observing other observatories on this planet. Despite having a highly trained and professional staff and the largest telescope in Southeast Europe, head astronomer Dr. Georgi Petrov stated in an interview yesterday that there exist many other, more impressive observatories that “we just had to check out.”
Popular choices for Dr. Petrov and his staff are the Gran Telescopio Caranrias in Spain, the VLT Interferometer in Cerro Paranal, Chile and Bolshoi Teleskop Azimutalnyi in Russia, which Petrov describes as “totally sweet.”
The Smolyan Telescope is capable of observing light from stars 5.5 billion light years away and routinely discovers 100 asteroids per year. Nonetheless, observing other observatories remains the staff pastime. Dr. Petrov, who has managed the telescope since its opening in 1981, said “watching other observatories make astonishing and important discoveries is extremely rewarding for us. In fact, our observatory holds the record for discovering more discoveries made by other observatories than any other observatory.”
Although generally harmless, the habit of observing other observatories has occasionally caused controversy with telescope lovers the world over. One particularly troublesome brouhaha came about when Dr. Petrov and his crew found that the staff at the Bolshoi Teleskop Asimutalnyi tried to use the observatory’s ultra powerful lenses and mirrors to play Nintendo Wii games projected on the surface of the moon. After Petrov went public about the Bolshoi incident, a firestorm of debate engulfed observers across the world over the ethics of observatories publicly criticizing one another.
“To be fair,” said Petrov in his own defense, “These other observatories are located several lightminutes away from ours. For all we know, by the time the light reaches our telescope, these other observatories could already have been destroyed by an exploding star or decrease in government funding. Petrov was then forced to cut the interview short, stating that he had to “go watch two Russian astronomers make out.”
Those of you who have never lost consciousness during a debate, only to awake upon Stojnev's back en route to the infirmary, may be unfamiliar with Dr. Stojnev. The man is both IDEA's resident technology coordinator and unlicensed doctor. He is the first person staffers look to when the shit hits the fan, literally and figuratively, and has saved the lives of countless debaters. Last Friday, he saved a girl from a seizure just by looking her sternly in the eyes.
On Monday, he performed surgery on a debater with his left hand while tabbing the Karl Popper tournament on his laptop with his right. During the 2006 Youth Forum in Romania, a girl was attacked by a bear. Stojnev came to her rescue, wrestling the bear to the ground, reasoning with it, befriending it, and riding it to the hospital as he held the girl in his arms, simultaneously giving her an emergency transfusion of his own blood.
But our guardian angel is no longer here to save us. On Tuesday, Stojnev departed for his homeland of Macedonia to remove Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's gall bladder and "maybe sleep for an hour." Since his departure, cases of Smolyan Viper Flu have increased by 6,000%. Said one hospitalized student, "I don't know how I got sick so quickly! All I did was drink four Red Bulls, some beer, and no water. It's a good thing I didn't sleep at all, otherwise I might not have known I was sick until it was too late." The Director of the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), Julie Louise Gerberding, noted that with Stojnev’s departure from Smolyan, “there is a high probability of a hybrid outbreak of the Bubonic Plague and Whooping Cough.” Regardless, at the current dropout rate, the mixed teams tournament is expected to consist of only one round, judged by a group of local squirrels.
British Parliamentary Debate features 4 teams all competing against each other under 1 motion. A motion is released, depending on the country, 15-30 minutes before the debate. The motion for the demonstration debate last night was “This house would ban political parties defined by religious ideology.”
Although seemingly confusing at first, the 4 team format is actually quite systematic and accessible. The four teams are called Opening Government, Closing Government, Opening Opposition and Closing Opposition. Each team consists of 2 people and each speaker gives a 7 minute constructive speech with Points of Information permissible in all 8 speeches.
The Opening Government defines the scope of the motion, defines terms and proposes a case in support of the motion. Generally, but not always, BP motions are quite open, meaning that the Opening Government has the responsibility to set up a good debate for all.
The Opening Opposition usually agrees with the way that the Opening Government has set up the debate and proposes its own case in opposition to the Government stance. The first 2 teams in a BP debate are generally referred to as the “opening house.”
The Closing Government team should both support the Opening Government team and also put forth a “case extension.” The extension should be unique material that defends the motion and the Opening Government case. For example, if the Opening Government takes a practical or policy viewpoint on the motion, the Closing Government may look at different policy implications or take a theoretical stance or defend the motion in any other way they see it. The second speaker from this team should summarize the debate, particularly from the Closing Government perspective.
The Closing Opposition should, much like its government counterpart, should provide unique material in the form of an extension while also remaining consistent with the Opening Government team’s logic. The last speaker should summarize the round from a Closing Opposition perspective.IDEA will be sponsoring several BP events this upcoming academic year in the US, Korea and Botswana. Keep checking the IDEA website at www.idebate.org to learn more.