The first day of voting is in the books, the bracket pool is closed, and TwitterFightClub 2012 is now in full swing!
Day Two Match-ups
The expert judging panel for Day Two of the first round consists of:
As a reminder, the panel’s judgment will count for 50% of the vote, with each judge representing one-fifth of that total. So don’t forget to vote: in a close match, the popular vote may overrule a split judging panel, as happened in one of our Day One matches (outlined below). Judges and voters alike are encouraged to look at metrics such as: knowledge base; quality of argumentation; innovative thinking; humor, snark, facility with quips, and charisma; and responsiveness to followers. Contestants’ full bodies of work on Twitter are fair game, but any work outside of Twitter should not be considered, and once again everyone is encouraged to make their decisions in their own way.
Today’s expert panel is tasked with judging – and you with voting on – the eight contests in the lower right ‘region’ of the TFC brackets, where @dandrezner is the one seed. Polls are open until midnight EDT, and results will be up in the morning. Get out the vote!
Day One Results
Of the five expert judges in this bracket, two failed to hand their ballots in before the midnight E.S.T. deadline. Thus, both @EricMartin24 and @paulmcleary count as abstentions for the first round. In one of the day’s great Epic Fails, @EricMartin24 even tried to extort bribes from the competitors prior to failing to hand in his ballot. Hopefully none of them took him up on his offer. Let this be a lesson for all judges in the future: be prompt with your ballots, or forsake the opportunity for future bribes.
Fortunately, TwitterFightClub already had a contingency in place for indolent, or outright traitorous, judges. When they fail to submit their ballots in a timely fashion, half of their vote goes to each contestant. This 50/50 split thus gives more power to the audience relative to the expert judges. With two judges M.I.A., this means that each contestant automatically receives 20% of the judges’ vote from the abstentions. Thus, a 3-0 decision from the judges who managed to hand in their ballots means that the contestant wins 80% of the judges’ vote; a 2-1 means that the contestant wins 60% of the judges’ vote. Now, let’s see how the matches broke down:
(1) @abuaardvark vs. (16) @charlie_simpson
Judges: 2-1 for @abuaardvark (@abuaardvark wins 60% of judges’ vote)
@abuaardvark: 129 (62%)
@charlie_simpson: 78 (38%)
Despite asking the audience to vote against him, @abuaardvark wins a close match against 16 seed @charlie_simpson, and sells numerous copies of his book in the process. His Jedi mind trick worked. Just ask @HerbCarmen, who managed to see through it.
(8) @drjjoyner vs. (9) @shephardm
Judges: 2-1 for @drjjoyner (@drjjoyner wins 60% of judges’ vote)
@drjjoyner: 108 (55%)
@shephardm: 87 (45%)
She pulled out all stops, and even earned a celebrity endorsement, but @shephardm falls short in her match with the popular tweeter @drjjoyner.
(5) @jstrevino vs. (12) @stcolumbia
Judges: 3-0 for @stcolumbia (80% of judges’ vote)
@jstrevino: 42 (22%)
@stcolumbia: 148 (78%)
Sometimes Jedi mind tricks do not work. @jstrevino asks the audience to vote against him, and it did. Overwhelmingly. Match to @stcolumbia.
(4) @allthingsct vs. (13) @securityscholar
Judges: 2-1 for @securityscholar (60% of judges’ vote)
@allthingsct: 104 (63%)
@securityscholar: 60 (37%)
A #TFC12 classic, and a preeminent example of how failure to hand in expert ballots strengthens the popular vote. The expert judges count for half the score, as does the popular vote. The two expert ballots that @securityscholar won counted for 60% of that half, while @allthingsct won 63% of the other half. The popular vote thus trumps the expert vote in favor of @securityscholar. @allthingsct advances to the second round in a match that went right down to the wire.
(6) @mattduss vs. (11) @naheedmustafa
Judges: 2-1 for @naheedmustafa (60% of judges’ vote)
@mattduss: 86 (48%)
@naheedmustafa: 95 (52%)
A great match, featuring some witty repartee between the two contestants and even a bit of knowledge. @naheedmustafa wins both the expert and popular vote in a very close decision.
(3) @adamserwer vs. (14) @joshmull
Judges: 3-0 for @adamserwer (80% of judges’ vote)
@adamserwer: 151 (83%)
@joshmull: 30 (17%)
It’s not clear that @joshmull even realized there was a competition afoot. @adamserwer wins in a landslide.
(7) @Goldberg3000 vs. (10) @stephaniecarvin
Judges: 3-0 for @stephaniecarvin (80% of judges’ vote)
@Goldberg3000: 44 (24%)
@stephaniecarvin: 140 (76%)
A handy upset for @stephaniecarvin, who advances to the second round.
(2) @joshuafoust vs. (15) @trdeghett
Judges: 2-1 for @joshuafoust (60% of judges’ vote)
@joshuafoust: 147 (78%)
@trdeghett: 41 (22%)
A strong showing for @trdeghett, but the pugilistic @joshuafoust advances to the second round.
Read on for the judges’ full comments.
@abuaardvark v @charlie_simpson. Tough matchup for the criminally underseeded @charlie_simpson, but this goes to @abuaardvark, whose feed combines all things Middle East and the Arab Spring, academia, and the occasional dash of pop culture. Plus, he’s a Duke fan, and I did warn about rooting against my Blue Devils.
@drjjoyner v @shephardm. I’m giving this to @shephardm by a hair, but this was not an easy choice. No one said being a #tfc12 judge was a gimme, folks.
@jstrevino v @stcolumbia. @stcolumbia, because every tournament needs a good 5-12 upset. I also called VCU over Wichita State. Then again, I had Duke over Mizzou in the Final Four. Tears.
@allthingsct v @securityscholar. Ah! The pain of choosing between two amazing Aussie natsec twitter mavens! @allthingsct for consistent original analysis, @securityscholar for follower interactivity and linkiness. @allthingsct wins this one by an EVEN THINNER HAIR.
@mattduss v @naheedmustafa. @naheedmustafa’s sense of humor and deep knowledge base take it away for me here. But props to both twit-tesants for their trash talk today.
@adamserwer v @joshmull. The battle of the libruls! @adamserwer, for his breadth of topics and consistency of participation in the twitterverse.
@goldberg3000 v @stephaniecarvin. I have to go with @stephaniecarvin because she maintains a high level of focus and quality in her feed, despite considerably less visibility that her esteemed opponent.
@joshuafoust v @trdeghett. Hard match for @trdeghett, but of @joshuafoust’s approximately 70,000 tweets (likely 72,000 by the end of #tfc12), I would estimate roughly 65,000 are related to twitter fights with knowing or unknowing opponents. The other 5,000 are about puppy Milo or cooking dates with @cchristinefair. @joshuafoust, conditioned on imminent delivery of deliciousness to the judge.
Hi all. Remember me? I’m the one who pretended to objectively judge a contest between @ggreenwald and @abumuqawama last year. I came down on the side of @abumuqawama, as I was always going to, but it was a good pretend-show, yes? This year I was not chosen as a combative yet again, but I was brought in ostensibly to bring the Photoshops, and the funny. I regret to inform you, dear reader, that due to circumstances I can provide neither. There is simply No Time for Photoshops, and this year’s tournament calls for serious judgments.
Among the pieces of guidance given to me by the steering committee was something along the lines of “be nice.” This will be disregarded. Let’s move on to the first contest.
@abuaardvark is an obvious choice for TFC competition. He writes at Foreign Policy, teaches a thing somewhere, wrote a book, and even has a Twitter account. This Twitter account is what’s material here, and it is to this I will turn my focus.
I want to talk about Mark Lynch’s goddamned avatar.
It is likely Mr. Lynch is not a technophile. Shall I compare him to @aelkus? Mr. Elkus sports one of the worst avatars on Twitter. It’s this white block with fuzzy grey lines which I’m sure mean something if you are browsing Twitter by some kind of Lawnmower Man virtual reality brain-Twitter-immersion setup, but for us unaugmented humans it’s just some fuzzy grey lines in a 48×48 square. Mr. Elkus, who used to sport an avatar from an IP (Ghost in the Shell) which, two decades ago, was answering existential questions about singularity most of us hadn’t thought to ask, could probably write a 10,000-word essay on the meaning of the word “avatar” in the modern world. The subtleties of avatar selection should not be lost on him.
I do not have these expectations of @abuuardvark. I am not asking him to quote chapter and verse from the Holy Bible of Sur William Gibson. I simply want to know if Mr. Lynch understands that Twitter avatars are supposed to be $*@!ing SQUARE. This is not installing a water-cooled LGA 2011 six-core processor on your new PCI-e 3.0 motherboard with a RAID-5 setup and color-modulating fan lights silently throbbing the iconic theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This is BASIC GODDAMNED GEOMETRY. SQUARES ARE 1:1. TWITTER AVATARS ARE SQUARES, MARK.
I don’t want to give @charlie_simpson short shrift here. She is a major presence in my Twitter feed, being outspoken and highly involved with, though not a member of, my followship. I know things about her, like the fact that she likes booze. We can get along. And the Jayhawks…I’m not much of an NCAA guy in general so this is a neutral point. Also she is a huge USMC partisan. I don’t care about the actual facts of this matter, my perception is all that is important on this point, and my perception is that she loves Marines WAY TOO MUCH. This I cannot abide. It is also worth noting that she faux-curses a lot and is an honest-to-God subject matter expert on a lot of the stuff she talks about, therefore if you aren’t following her you should be. However…
VERDICT: @abuaardvark takes this round, despite his wonton ignorance with regard to avatar proportions, for one reason: I spent millions (billions, now?) of Iranian Rial on his new book, which is now on an airplane somewhere like so many explosive panties. Ruling against him would basically be betting against my own investment, and rather than recuse myself (as though!) I will rule in my own interests: Mark “Oblong” Lynch.
///// @drjjoyner vs. @shephardm /////
I’m going to be as objective as possible here. The fact is that DR. J JOYNER has been following me on Twitter for many moons, and in a shameless act of shameless pandering I shamelessly accepted, Ms. Shephard has only since the beginning of this contest sent me a follow request despite the fact that I’ve been following her for weeks and weeks, bought her book, loaned it to someone, and heard it was good. Truthfully, these two are pretty well matched. Both have large followships with whom they actively engage. Both are insightful in their respective realms. I can honestly say that once I eliminated the fact that DR. J JOYNER and I have had numerous exchanges – and note I choose to be objective here – it was a difficult choice…
VERDICT: The man with the poofy hair and straight-front avatar photos (please have a professional take one and tilt your chin) gets my vote this round for two reasons: one, that he is aware of and has seen Cannibal! The Musical; secondly, he has over thirty-seven thousand tweets and I have never once been tempted to unfollow him. If you know what an impossible crank I am, this is a true compliment.
///// @jstrevino vs. @stcolumbia /////
This is an interesting matchup. Both of these individuals’ entire raison de’tre is shooting down other folk’s ideas (what? It’s true.) which they are both fairly good at. Trevino has been nice to some of my friends and advocates for Austin, which is the one city in the entirety of the Large State of Texas justifying its large existence. Trombly is a popular little guy among the core of my own followship, who are my followship for a reason (read: overwhelming superiority). There are, however, two factors which make this judgment easy.
VERDICT: Trombly takes this round. FOR Trombly: Red Team Wizard needs food badly. I figure advancing to the Theoretically Better Thirty-Two is worth at least one, if not two cheeseburgers. AGAINST Trevino: he did today advocate for his own quick execution. Contra The Mikado I will not first cut off mine own head. My duty compels me to cut off 10% of Trevino’s, and so I do.
///// @allthingsct vs. @securityscholar /////
First. WHAT? I am a judge, not a person-who-makes-difficult-objective-choices-guy.
Leah Farrall is an Australian counter-terrorism expert and former professional analyst whose writing I have repeatedly forwarded to friends and colleagues. She adds great insight into the conversations in her lane on a regular basis. Actually knowing who she is and being familiar with her theories makes me cooler, as a person.
Natalie Sambhi is an Australian freelance researcher who may, in the next few years, be among the first women officers to serve in Australia’s infantry. She has multiple interesting blogs. The subjects on which she posts are also ones she tweets about it, and she does so with vigor.
Who’s more interesting? Both, in their respective lanes, are very interesting to read. Arguably Farrall has finer-pointed insight in her lane than Sambhi does, though I am far less acquainted with the material Sambhi tends to discuss than that covered by Farrall. On the other hand, Sambhi is a little more entertaining – not to be discounted in any medium, let alone Twitter. Both have frustrating names to spell.
VERDICT: Leah Farrall…absolutely refuses to follow me. I DON’T EVEN CARE WHY. So I give this round to Natalie Sambhi.
///// @mattduss vs. @naheedmustafa /////
You may be immediately curious if either of these people follow me on Twitter, given that this is obviously the most important metric in my rulings. They do not. Who has the better excuse? I met Matt Duss at a tweet-up once. Was it…was it Science Club? I think so. What, does that have some sort of significance? Anyway, when I met him I said “Ah! Matt Duss of Photoshop Matt Duss fame” as, at that time, I really wasn’t familiar with his work. We didn’t talk much. Strangely, he did not immediately rush to his Tweetbox to make me his life-buddy. Naheed Mustafa, on the other hand, tweets at pretty much my entire followship. So anyway this is a wash on the narcissism front. You may all stand relieved.
VERDICT: Ms. Mustafa is a prolific tweeter who is never dull. Mr. Duss is a slightly less prolific tweeter who is seldom dull. I give this round to Naheed, by virtue of adverb strength.
///// @adamserwer vs. @joshmull /////
Battle of the Lefty/Communist/Socialist/Fascist/Dadaist journos. I’m going to skip the intros and get straight to the –
VERDICT: Josh Mull is no doubt a prolific tweeter who punches above his weight. I have personally had numerous interesting discussions with him over the tweets and while it is not uncommon for us to disagree, he is very genuine and engaged. However, I have to give this round to Adam Serwer. Not because he shares a birthday with James Gerond Skyler Sky Jimmy John’s, or whatever his name is (and Chuck Norris). Not because he works for Mother Jones, who care about uteri at a similar level to myself. No, Serwer takes this round because his avatar is undeniable. I think of that avatar in tears and I can’t bring myself to say a bad thing about it. Good game, Mr. Serwer.
///// @Goldberg3000 vs. @stephaniecarvin /////
Stephanie Carvin had the prescience (or insider tip??) to follow me right before judges were announced. Good move, Ms. Carvin, but it will not sway me this day.
…look, flattery is the only currency in which I trade, okay? Let’s keep moving.
VERDICT: Each of these is a strong seed, like the Lord of the Vale. Each has a strong presence on Twitter. One has ten times the followers, the other has multiple times the tweets. One is named after a brand of bass guitars. And she, today, is my selection.
It’s difficult to go against your own follows list. Goldberg is a prolific writer for a major publication and an active tweeter, but Ms. Carvin is just more fun to follow. I was going to work in a joke about my vote being the result of being a semi-self-hating semi-Jew? But as I said at the top of the post, NO JOKES. Only serious analysis.
///// @joshuafoust vs. @trdeghett /////
F-DIA-A Joshua Foust is a Central Asia analyst who once had a general officer yell at him via article that he was too saving that village by blowing it up. Have you guys seen The Abyss? It’s just like that one scene. If you haven’t…guys do you know how many friggin’ movies James Cameron has made? It’s a fair number.
“Afghanistan! You’ve never given up on anything in your life now BREATHE!”
That is pretty much us right now. I digress.
Well, let me say something on the point of Central Asia. Mr. Foust is not the only guy on Twitter with a vested interest. I, myself, have spent many severals of hours studying the subject – I would define it as Central Asia studies with a focus on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Western China, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency, General War, Development, and Gender Studies – for which I’ve accrued significantly less recognition.
My diligence is unquestionable. I have gone above-and-beyond in reading…just…a lot of blog posts about it. Easily in the tens? I have books on my shelf. On a nearly daily basis I open the Central Asia folder in Google Reader and scan the post titles from Registan. The body of my work incontrovertibly exists, and yet I have never been invited to dinner with the ambassador from Pakistan. Not even once.
Foust has been. And what does he do?
He wears this:
Here is my experience with Mr. Foust’s competitor, Torie Rose DeGhett. “Oh, I’m supposed to judge this person. I have no idea who they are!” Then I see that she works for Current Intelligence, which is a plus. Then I perused her feed, and it’s quite good. “I should be following this person,” I said (implied: you should be following this person). Twitter being the marvel of technology it is, told me I already was. Probably not for the first time. This is amended now. Ms. DeGhett, from what I have seen, has a very solid stream for anyone interested in national security issues…and if you aren’t I really cannot comprehend why you are here.
VERDICT: …please don’t tell him, but I’m selecting Foust here. I am hoping he will be so upset by my mockery of his fashion choices he will be simply unable to finish reading my ruling. On the other hand, the next time I am in his neighborhood he should definitely invite me over for dinner. Something something duck fat sauce something. I don’t know. So tell him later.
All right. I only trade in flattery and duck fat.
1. @abuaardvark vs. 16. @charlie_simpson.
Marc Lynch was trying to trick us into voting for him by telling us to vote against him.
@abuaardvark launched an information operations campaign against the Twitter Fight Club judges. Despite his pre-game attempt at reverse psychology to trick us into voting for him, the nod in this matchup goes to @charlie_simpson. Yes, Charlie, the #16 seed, gets my vote with one hand tied behind her back (she was “otherwise occupied” most of the day and unable to tweet). As a @CNASdc alum, this may get me in trouble. I recall that @CNASdc has no institutional positions even in Twitter Fight Club, so I hope Marc lets me slide. Especially if I buy his book. Wow, that IO stuff works!
My choice: @charlie_simpson
8. @drjjoyner vs. 9. @shephardm.
Michelle Shephard went all Celebrity Apprentice on Twitter Fight Club.
@shephardm got off to a strong start today by invoking the Four Lions Trailer in reference to Al-Shabaab. @drjjoyner discussed actual national security topics while @shephardm accused her supporters of calling her a fathead, which was seen as offensive to many of us who actually have fat heads. Realizing her mistake, she went all Celebrity Apprentice and called on @morgfair (yeah that’s the ticket) for an endorsement. Meanwhile, @drjjoyner, despite using an academic credential in his username, put in a full workday and brought us good stuff to read.
My choice: @drjjoyner
5. @jstrevino vs. 12. @stcolumbia
This was no popularity contest. Dan Trombly has skills.
In this matchup, the seeding should have been switched. @stcolumbia takes this one hands down and it is no upset. Dan Trombly discussed political realism, Ethiopia & Eritrea, Russian troops and Syria, China, and drone strikes all before lunch was over. That’s the norm for Dan and why I feel he should have been at least a 5th seed going into this contest. @jstrevino threw in the towel before it began, deciding he’d rather lose to @stcolumbia than to someone else later. Both did what they do each day. It’s an easy call that has nothing to do with popularity.
My choice: @stcolumbia
4. @allthingsct vs. 13 @securityscholar
The X-ray Vision Cat protects, even while Australia sleeps.
It is criminal to put two Aussies up against each other in the first round, but it happened. It also happened on the day @allthingsct was packing to leave Egypt for her grandmother’s 91st birthday. Some things are more important than Twitter Fight Club. @SecurityScholar didn’t tweet much throughout the day because—get this—she was on the other side of the planet sleeping. When she awoke (tomorrow???), she immediately came out of the gate with several good tweets. The tiebreaker me was that before she hit the rack last night (or tonight???) she brought us the X-ray vision cat. @SecurityScholar gets the nod.
My choice: @SecurityScholar
6. @mattduss vs. 11 @naheedmustafa
While Naheed Mustafa offered us candy, Matt Duss offered us X-Boxes.
Too good-natured to be considered “Old School Twitterfighting,” this matchup was more like the TwitterFightClub we remember from a year ago. @mattduss and @NaheedMustafa traded barbs and accusations all day. Matt even managed to talk national security a few times. So, in a low scoring contest with plenty of entertainment, @mattduss gets the call. @mattduss wants to give out X-boxes. Swing by H Street to get yours.
My choice: @mattduss
3. @adamserwer vs. 14. @joshmull
Adam tweeted a lot. Josh didn’t.
My choice: @adamserwer
7. @goldberg3000 vs. 10 @stephaniecarvin
Please Stephanie Carvin, explain distributive justice again?
@stephaniecarvin tweeted about distributive justice, cupcakes, and fat mice while @goldberg3000 was consumed in dealing with a serious current topic. But what set @stephaniecarvin apart today was that while she was discussing Iran, North Korea, and Peter Singer’s ability to challenge assumptions, she initiated a professional development discussion about CVs and conference papers. Sure, it’s the academic world, but mentorship matters. Even if it’s via Twitter.
My choice: @stephaniecarvin
2. @joshuafoust vs. 15 @trdeghett
Welcome, Torie Rose DeGhett.
I’ll be honest: while I know @joshuafoust in real life, I had never heard of @trdeghett before the bracket was released. This matchup was a surprise and was by far the closest of the day. As of 8pm, I was still undecided. Both competitors were tweeting great content. But in this matchup, I think @trdeghett, who even tweeted about music from Tunisia, had the right “edge,” right frames, and right content to earn my vote. She may have also wanted it more than @joshuafoust. As an aside, @trdeghett has a great Pinterest site called Operation Enduring Freedom Vision Board. If someone ever organizes an “Oktober Pinterfest” competition, Torie would be the hands down favorite.
My choice: @trdeghett
We are tabulating the points earned by those entered in the bracket pool throughout the round and will post the first update at the end of the week.