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Wasting Prep Time: Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things

Most pictures of North Korea’s revered leader Kim Jong-Il show him looking at things.  Whether it be on a tour of the country’s military outposts, economic facilities, or during a meeting with top diplomats of other nations, Kim Jong-Il is always looking at something.

A fun website has taken the time to assemble pictures of Kim Jong-Il.  Called “Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things“, the site shows viewers photos of, well, Kim Jim Jong-Il looking at things!  So check it out to kill some down time.

What is a Speech Team?

Do you tire of being asked what you do on your high school speech team? Does it irritate you that people confuse speech events with debate? If so, you’ll love this video clip.

AGD: Stephen Colbert Lampoons Cover of The Economist

Pop pundit Stephen Colbert came to the rescue of The Economist on Wednesday night after the New York Times criticized the periodical’s use of Photoshop in creating a photo illustration for the magazine’s cover. Editors at The Economist argue that it’s not a big deal. After all, Colbert asserts: “The Economist is always dumbing down their content for their idiot readers.” Extempers would totally agree die from the suggestive irony. Full video is the segment can be found below.

Stumbled across something on the interwebs worthy of an AGD post? Send an email to and maybe we’ll share it on the site.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Economist Photoshops Obama’s Picture
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

AGD: The Toilet Paper

Keeping up on the latest news is an extemper’s greatest challenge.

Being witty and having the right, catchy factoid or story to add to your AGD, transitions, and conclusions is a whole other matter.

On both matters, I have something that could be of use.  My wife just introduced me to The Toilet Paper.

The creators explain their story about how this nifty, daily email service began:

After some personal introspection, we realized the only part of our workday that we looked forward to was our alone time in the can.  We would search diligently to find an article worthy of our focus during these prized personal moments.  Sadly, most of what we found wasn’t worth the time it took to print out.  We knew there had to be a better way.

Enter…The Toilet Paper.

We don’t lose sleep over taking ourselves too seriously, but we work hard to provide you with provocative, intelligent and reliably good content; stuff fit for the thinking man in everyone.

Be it be ripped from the headlines or the current buzz in pop-culture, we take one interesting news topic each day and put our spin on it. You’ll get the basics boiled down into quickly digestible bits including quotes, facts and cool stats and numbers on the subject.

One e-mail a day.  Whether you laugh, learn something or nod in appreciation, The Toilet Paper will be there for you when you need it most.

You can register for The Toilet Paper on their website, or follow their updates on Twitter.

AGD: Dems May Want to Call in This Guy to Get to a Vote on Healthcare Reform

A lot of talk has been made about Republican efforts to stall a vote on healthcare reform by calling for a full reading of amendments.  As competitive speakers, you know all about word economy and speed of delivery.  Even by debate standards, that kind of word count translates into a lot of time.

Perhaps Democrats should call in this guy:

I say it’s even odds this guy is a former debater.

It’s a busy weekend in the Senate.  MSNBC offers a full timeline for this weekend, leading to a presumed 1 a.m. Monday morning vote.

While you’re online, check out Infinite Prep’s take on who might be a good pick to read the bill.

AGD: The Story of Stuff Presents “The Story of Cap and Trade”

With a lot of attention focused on Copenhangen this week, the eco-activists/cartoonists at The Story of Stuff present their view on the issue of emissions trading.

What does the video get right? Where do they gloss or misrepresent information? Is a video like this an easy way for the public to digest such a complex issue as cap and trade?

AGD: Look Who’s Tweeting… (Hint: It’s Not Congress!)



by Corey Alderdice

We’ve written about how Extemp Central is using Twitter to digest news sources, media outlets, think tanks, organizations, and more.

Even though it seems Twitter’s exponential growth is slowing, there are over 18 million active users of the Tweet Machine.  Even as Twitter finds itself integrated into the daily tech cycle for countless individuals, it seems as though there is one group who is slow on the uptake: Congress.  Over half of the members of the US House and Senate have yet to use the microblogging platform to stay in touch with their constituents.

Slate analyzes several of reasons why members of Congress haven’t bought into the hype:

A more fundamental problem is that, so far at least, members of Congress just aren’t that good at it. A report released by the Congressional Research Service in September found that nearly half of congressional tweets simply link to press releases or news articles. (The report doesn’t distinguish between the two, but an informal survey of congressional feeds suggests the former are more common.) The next most common type of tweet describes an official congressional action, like a roll call vote or a trip abroad. “Personal” tweets and those related to business in their district—the two types of messages most likely to interest constituents—were the least common types.

While you’re prepping for the weekend, take a moment to follow Extemp Central on Twitter.

To learn more about the members of Congress on Twitter, visit @tweetcongress/senate and @tweetcongress/congress.

AGD: A Little (Alternate) History on the Decade

Almost only counts in horseshoes, etc.

Almost only counts in horseshoes, etc.

by Corey Alderdice

I love alternate history stories.

Take Superman: Red Son for example.  Instead of becoming a hero for truth, justice, and the American Way, the Man of Steel represents the ideals of Stalin and the Soviet Empire.

Sliders, The Twilight Zone, and a host of other TV shows and movies have documented novel “what if?” scenarios in which changes both grand and small affect the world we know today.  Heck, even J. J. Abrahm’s 2009 Star Trek reboot was an elaborate exercise in alternative history.  What was particularly interesting about the film, and so many of these stories, is that while it breaks away to create something new, there are numerous instances where authors go out of their way to mirror the actual timeline.

Newsweek and Facebook, as part of their Decade in Rewind series, has a interesting look at what the last several years might have looked like if Al Gore had been elected President in 2000.   The oral history touches on the people, places, and events that were immutable in the last decade, though often spins said events in a new direction.  After a bitterly divisive election and a few missteps, Gore uses the bulk of his political clout and budget surplus to move forward with his environmental efforts.

May 2003: In excess of 670 miles of wetland are restored along the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf Coast. To announce the successful completion of the initiative, the president holds a ceremony on the deck of a solar-powered casino boat in the Biloxi harbor, standing before a banner that reads “Mission Accomplished.” It is roundly ridiculed.

“He plants some grass in the mud and prances around in front of a banner? Gimme a break. This isn’t leadership it’s toilet training.”

—Bill O’Reilly, The O’Reilly Factor, May 27, 2003.

“Dear Mr. President, we elected a nerd. Please stop being a dork.”

—MoveOn.Org billboard, San Francisco.

The story plays out in a very interesting way.  At what point does it deviate from expectations?  What points are completely implausible?  What would you have liked to see?  Would Al Gore have been the ultimate Nerd President?  Was the author borrowing heavily from a series of West Wing scripts?

We’d like your thoughts on David Rakoff’s piece of speculative fiction.

Update: Newsweek continues the fiction today with a less sunny recap of the Gore years.

AGD: The Nation’s Most (In)Famous Party Crashers

Facebook worthy? You bet.

Facebook worthy? You bet.

by Corey Alderdice

Washington (and the rest of the nation) hasn’t been this abuzz about a dynamic duo of social climbers showing up uninvited since Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan slipped into the wedding of the Treasury Secretary’s daughter in the 2005 film Wedding Crashers.

Though the story of Michaele and Tareq Salahi is really more faux-news than anything, it did land smack dab in the middle of what was a slow news cycle thanks to, well, Thanksgiving.   In the event that you see a question this weekend at GMU’s Patriot Games, Bradley University’s Armstrong Invitational,or anywhere else around the country, Slate has a great piece outling the long history of social climbing.

To that notable group of societies we can now add 21st-century Washington, D.C. Like 18th-century Russia, it is a world of neophytes, a society whose members have only recently “made it” into an elite magic circle and who don’t necessarily know the other members all that well. Like 19th-century New York, it is also a world where appearances matter. You get invited to the party—whether the White House Hanukkah party or the state dinner—not just because of who you are but because of what you represent, which costume you wear, which ethnic group you come from.

After all, when you can choose between Wedding Crashers or 18th century Russia, be the speaker who stands out in the round.

AGD: Enjoy Thanksgiving with Some Political Turkeys

Warning: These Turkeys are NOT for Consumption

Warning: These Turkeys are NOT for Consumption

by Corey Alderdice

Your friends at Extemp Central want to take this moment to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.  It’s one of the few weekends during the fall semester where we get a break.  Enjoy it…as well as some turkey (or tofu-rkey, if that’s how you roll).

Also, we also want to say how grateful we are for our great readership.  November has been an outstanding month at Extemp Central.   The reception to our expanded offerings has been tremendous!  You seem to dig the expanded questions, news quizzes, topic briefs, AGD, tournament coverage, The EX Files and more.   We’re thankful for that!

In the end, this website is for you!  We’re proud to have the resources to offer help to coaches and competitors around the country.   If you think this month has been great, we’re looking to finish the year strong while pulling out the stops for 2010.  It’s going to be a fun ride, and we hope to have you along for it.

While you’re taking a break from the holiday festivities, take a moment to check out The Huffington Post‘s photo album of Politicians Who Look Like Turkeys.

One more thing: check back on the site tomorrow for ways to save with SpeechGeek‘s Black (Book) Friday Special!