Smartphones are almost ubiquitous today and have replaced the traditional stopwatches as timekeeping devices for many debaters around the world.
Most smartphones have a stopwatch built in, but Chuan-Zheng Lee of New Zealand wrote Debatekeeper, a very useful app for Android phones which makes timing debates easier and more convenient for judges, timekeepers and speakers.
The program currently includes the British Parliamentary format as well as several other parliamentary debating formats. One great feature about Debatekeeper is its extensibility. It is trivially easy to use additional debate formats by writing a short and simple XML file and putting it on your phone.
With a view to the upcoming German-Language Debating Championship (2013-05-30 to 2013-06-02 in Munich), I wrote a file to use the Open Parliamentary format in Debatekeeper. Open Parliamentary Debate is an indigenous German format based on BP and invented by debaters of Streitkultur Tübingen. Its most notable features include two teams with three speakers each and three “Nonaligned Speakers” who get to speak for 3.5 minutes before the Whip speakers and may chose to represent either the Government or Opposition side.
You can now download the Debatekeeper OPD file. I also wrote a file with all human-readable text in German. Installation on your phone is easy (the following description was copied from Chuan-Zheng’s site):
You should create a directory called debatekeeper on (the root directory of) your phone, and place the XML file in there. It must have the file extension .xml. If you give your file the same name as one of the built-in styles, then your custom file will override the built-in style. Otherwise, Debatekeeper will just add it to the list.
For more information on OPD, please see Streitkultur Tübingen’s OPD service page (in German). A brief overview of the format is available as a two-page PDF file (in German).
Many leftist individuals and groups like to use the acronym ACAB as a slogan. It stands for “All Cops Are Bastards” and, obviously, expresses disdain for the police. Similarly, purported pacifists and anti-militarists use the slogan “Soldiers Are Murderers” (which appears to be more common in German-speaking countries).
Both slogans are strong, generalized statements. As such, they label an entire group of people and, by their internal logic, do not allow for any exceptions. This is the basic reason why these and similar slogans are not just factually wrong, but actually advance goals counter to those of the people most commonly using the slogans.
I recently heard the following:
Antizionism after Auschwitz is, necessarily, antisemitism.
It got me thinking about a question which, I believe, influences many discussions on the Shoa (Holocaust), on the establishment and status of the state of Israel and on antisemitism:
Is (or was) the Shoa a historically unique occurrence? Continue reading
When thinking about a recent spat on my Twitter timeline (involving protests against traffic tickets perceived as unfair), a train of thought I have had many times already surfaced again:
My music collection is probably larger than the average person’s, but pales in comparison to the vast archives of some of my friends. In late 2011, I noticed that it also hardly grows. I buy maybe four to eight CDs and four or five vinyl records (usually Drum & Bass twelve-inch singles) per year. I can’t remember the last time I downloaded music via file sharing, and I bought my first digital record only a few weeks ago.
By hardly expanding my collection, I seldom listened to something new. That gap was filled mostly by radio (especially Ö1′s and FM4′s late night programming) but ever since I have been working full-time, that is out of the question all too often.
That is why came up with the following New Year’s Resolution:
Did you know that over 5000 European Jews had to flee Europe over the Alps in 1947, two years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust?
The Windbachtal valley offers beautiful green and stone-grey vistas.
I did not, until 4 years ago. That’s when I first went on the Alpine Peace Crossing, an Alpine hike commemorating the flight of these Jews and dedicated to all refugees worldwide.
My father, brother and I participated again this year, along with about 170 others the weekend of 30 June. Continue reading
When I cook, I tend to rely on recipes and I am not very adept at making up recipes from scratch. Maybe this is because I don’t have enough experience yet, but I think it is more due to my idea of what cooking is: Science. Continue reading
I’d like to share two recent, related experiences:
- I was walking home from work today through Vienna’s Stadtpark and passed some tourists who took pictures of each other. They pointed their DSLRs at each other, almost directly facing the setting sun in the west, and I doubt their photos turned out as more than an underexposed mess.
- A friend recently asked me what camera they should buy to “shoot beautiful photos”.
Yellow Flowers in Stadtpark, where I pass through on my way to work. (Shot with my digital compact.)
Under any law, any given action is either permitted or prohibited. Under a liberal set of laws, anything is permitted unless it is expressly prohibited. Under a prohibitive set of laws, anything is prohibited unless expressly allowed.
In Western Liberal Democracies (a term we use in debating to denote a more or less coherent group of countries where classically liberal and democratic values are largely observed), the general idea has been to maintain liberal societies, where the state may only prohibit some specific actions which society deems harmful or dangerous.
I don’t think we live in such a society any more (if we ever have). More specifically, it does not seem that people think this way. Instead, when I hear people complain about something, they ask “Why is this permitted?”, “Why does the state allow this?” or “I can’t believe this is allowed!” Such statements express a sentiment that everything is prohibited unless allowed (and, even worse: allowed specifically only be the state, an authority we did not create ourselves). Where does this sentiment come from?
Why I blog:
There is not enough debate in our world. We have plenty of quarreling, name-calling and talking past the point; however, most public discussions are no more than each participant positing their views as unshakable truth. Little if any convincing is ever attempted. I seriously believe this is a big problem in public discourse. Yes, we should argue, fight and battle with words—because you might be wrong, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk! I want to argue, persuade and convince. I expect others to do the same, which eventually leads to meaningful debate as we start to understand why we want to convince each other. From there, it is a small step to actually understand an opponents’ position and maybe not accept, but at least appreciate it.
What I blog:
Lots of things pass through my head every day, and this blog aims to document those that keep me pondering for more than an hour or so. Specifically, I want to focus on issues of law and economics, debating and public discourse, liberty and individualism, state action and policy as well as daily politics. You should still find plenty of distraction when I blog about photography and food.
Occasionally I might blog in German, especially on topics mostly relevant only to Austria. I apologize in advance.
Who I am:
I was born in 1986, grew up mostly in Austria and have lived in Vienna since 2005. There, I studied law and now work as an associate in the competition law practice of a large regional law firm. I am a passionate debater with Debattierklub Wien and have participated in and organized many tournaments worldwide. I love to shoot photos, cook and climb mountains.