After an exhausting two-day melee, all the votes have been tabulated, the judges’ ballots have been counted, and 32 contestants are back to twitterfighting for the sheer love of the game, hopes of glory crushed by their competitors. A handful of upsets – one or two quite unexpected – and even more whisper-close contests populated this opening round. Without further ado, to the results!
**1) @texasinafrica 81% 3 votes
16) @lwscaustralia 19% 1 votes
There was a lot of love for the Australian underdog, but in the end the overall number one seed advances handily.
2) @DaveedGR 62% 1 votes
**15) @lesley_warner 38% 3 votes
In probably the biggest upset of the round, despite @DaveedGR’s healthy edge in the popular vote, @lesley_warner takes this one thanks to a strong showing with the judges.
**3) @tweetsintheme 64% 4 votes
14) @rockrichard 36%
@tweetsintheme would have been in good position based on the popular vote, but doesn’t even need it after he runs the table with the judges.
**4) @zackbeauchamp 70% 4 votes
13) @zoonpolitikon 30%
The judges spoke highly of @zoonpolitikon, but in the end they all went with @zackbeauchamp to give him an easy win.
**5) @hayesbrown 73% 4 votes
12) @FranTownsend 27%
There was much respect for @FranTownsend, but @hayesbrown’s closer attention to the competition was too much to overcome.
6) @mattduss 34% 1 votes
**11) @InkSptsGulliver 66% 3 votes
A tough call for many to make, but in the end @InkSptsGulliver gets the edge with most of them and takes the match.
**7) @stephaniecarvin 63% 4 votes
10) @bungdan 37%
@stephaniecarvin pulls out all the stops – snark, proxies, actual content, cupcakes, a band of minions – to make sure her opponent never has a chance.
**8) @drfarls 37% 3 votes
9) @Ali_Gharib 63% 1 vote
In the closest match of the round (by a hair), @drfarls just squeaks by popular favorite @Ali-Gharib on the strength of a better showing with the judges.
1) @intelwire 80% 2 votes
16) @forbesmm 20% 2 votes
The judges were split, but the popular vote gave @intelwire a comfortable victory.
**2) @attackerman 87% 2 votes
15) @DzirhanDefence 13% 2 votes
@attackerman dominated the popular vote to overcome a judging split.
**3) @astridhka 54% 3 votes
14) @dan_e_solo 46% 1 votes
In one of the most entertaining contests of the day, @astridhka gets a slight advantage in the popular vote and a strong advantage in the judging to take the day.
**4) @SlaughterAM 51% 2 votes
13) @Allison_Good1 49% 2 votes
This one is about as close as it gets! A tie with the judges, and a mere five votes between them in the popular polls, but @SlaughterAM just squeaks by @Allison_Good1.
**5) @chrisalbon 76% 1 votes
12) @PeterRNeumann 24% 3 votes
Another fingernail-close result with @PeterRNeumann taking 75% of the judges’ votes, but @chrisalbon winning out with 76% of the public vote.
6) @Doctrine_Man 56% 1 votes
**11) @JimmySky 44% 3 votes
@Doctrine_Man pulls ahead in the popular vote, but @JimmySky’s advantage with the judges wins the contest for him.
7) @AthertonKD 53% 1 votes
**10) @elsnarkistani 47% 3 votes
A tough match-up as I don’t think anyone wanted to see either of these guys going down in the first round, but @elsnarkistani overcomes @AthertonKD’s slender popular lead by taking three of the four judges’ votes.
**8) @BFriedmanDC 66% 4 votes
9) @trdeghett 34%
A show of strength in the first round as @BFriedmanDC cruises to a comfortable victory.
**1) @adamserwer 75% 2 votes
16) @zaidjilani 25% 2 votes
@adamserwer’s popular edge gives him the win here despite a split judging panel.
**2) @joshuafoust 64% 4 votes
15) @rejectionking 36%
A strong opening for @joshuafoust as he gets past @rejectionking with a popular advantage and all four judges.
**3) @azelin 77% 2 votes
14) @dohoBOB 23% 2 votes
The newcomer manages to split the judging panel, but @azelin’s larger follower count surely helped him build a strong advantage in the popular vote.
**4) @gregorydjohnsen 61% 3 votes
13) @ArminRosen 39% 1 vote
Much respect was given to @ArminRosen’s twitterfighting game, but in the end @gregorydjohnsen won the match comfortably on both measures.
**5) @smsaideman 71% 2 votes
12) @EvansRyan202 29% 2 votes
Another split judging panel, but @smsaideman pulls it out with a strong popular advantage.
**6) @naheedmustafa 44% 4 votes
11) @charlie_simpson 56%
A sweep of the judges gets @naheedmustafa the win over @charlie_simpson.
**7) @johnsonr 64% 3 votes
10) @JDanaStuster 36% 1 vote
It’s a strong start for @johnsonr as she gets past a tough competitor with ease.
@laurenist 71% 1 votes
**9) @drjjoyner 29% 3 votes
@laurenist dominates the popular vote, but it’s not enough to overcome @drjjoyner’s edge with the judges.
**1) @blakehounshell 72% 3 votes
16) @jasminchill 28% 1 votes
@blakehounshell cruises past the tournament newcomer with strong showings in the judging and the popular vote.
**2) @abuaardvark 84% 1 votes
15) @thebaseleg 16% 3 votes
@thebaseleg manages to take three of four judges’ votes, but @abuaardvark’s dominance in the popular vote means one judge is enough.
3) @AzmatZahra 44% 2 votes
**14) @khanserai 56% 2 votes
A split panel, but @khanserai gave voters enough reasons to vote for her and give her the edge.
**4) @emptywheel 72% 4 votes
13) @mkoplow 28%
@emptywheel opens strong with a popular vote win and all four judges.
**5) @speechboy71 66% 4 votes
12) @drjohnhorgan 34%
A comfortable victory for @speechboy71 as he takes all four judges’ votes and two thirds of the popular vote.
6) @shephardm 42% 2 votes
**11) @JasonFritz1 58% 2 votes
@JasonFritz1 caps off a big week with a win here on the strength of a small popular-vote advantage.
7) @JeffreyGoldberg 33% 2 votes
**10) @lrozen 67% 2 votes
@lrozen takes two thirds of the popular vote, giving her the edge with another split judging panel.
**8) @max_fisher 72% 2 votes
9) @andrew_zammit 28% 2 votes
@max_fisher’s greater followership takes the day with yet another split judging panel.
And now to your judges’ ballots!
(1) @texasinafrica vs. (16) @lwscaustralia
Nothing like a good ol’-fashioned Huntington-esque clash of continents to start off Twitter Fight Club. When I was in college and definitely not under 21, my dorkier friends and I would play a version of Risk whereby we had to drink every time we lost a territory. Due to Australia’s defensibility, the player lucky enough to capture it early almost always won by default (we never actually finished an entire game). With a strategic environment like that, could @lwscaustralia stage the upset to end all upsets?
Dr. Seay is from Texas, but I won’t hold it against her. And despite the glaring geographic error in her Twitter handle – Texas isn’t even in Africa! – @texasinafrica knows her way around both. With only 140 characters apiece, she brings clarity and insight to a complex region known for endemic lawlessness, cultural backwardness, and strongmen-led regimes. Her tweets on Africa aren’t half-bad either. Cinderella story denied.
(2) @DaveedGR vs. (15) @lesley_warner
There’s nothing more American than an underdog, which is ironic given the United States’ current six-and-a-half decade reign as a superpower. Despite being only a #15 seed, @lesley_warner has the endorsement of both the #1 seed AND the #2 seed in the Northwest – an impressive feat considering the #2 seed is her opponent @DaveedGR. Consensus like that leads to one inescapable conclusion.
(3) @tweetsintheME vs. (14) @rockrichard
In French, the English verb “to know” can be translated in two ways. “Connaître” is used when one knows something with familiarity: i.e., “I know that restaurant” or “I know her from school”. “Savoir” is used when one knows a fact or knows how to do something: i.e., “I know that George Washington was the first president” or “I know how to ride a bike”. In all things Sahel, @tweetsintheME knows the people, places, organizations, and events. But his keen insight into the region as a whole, cultivated from academic study and personal experience, made his Twitter feed as indispensible during the year-long Malian crisis as Edward Murrow’s radio broadcasts from London during the Blitz.
(4) @zackbeauchamp vs. (13) @zoonpolitikon
@zoonpolitikon tweets in what appears to be twelve different languages, most of them vaguely Germanic-looking – I only speak English and French so I have to guess – which is an impressive feat. Seriously, try tweeting a few things in a language other than English and watch your followers melt away. I can only read half his tweets, but given his following he must be doing something right with the other half too. The conclusion, and my vote choice, seemed self-evident.
Then I remembered that his opponent spent most of last Saturday live-tweeting birthers and neo-Confederates at CPAC. His weekend died so that our nation might live. Thus, in a larger sense, I cannot dedicate – I cannot consecrate – I cannot hallow – this bracket. The sacrifice made by @zackbeauchamp has already done that – far above my poor power to add or subtract.
(5) @HayesBrown vs. (12) @FranTownsend
Don’t let the seeding fool you: this is a clash of titans. How good is @FranTownsend at Twitter? She started following me a good six months before anyone else in this bracket. Only a real Twitter pro could identify a rising star that quickly. On the other hand, a single Saturday morning retweet by @HayesBrown turned my pre-election parody account from an unnoticed weekend pursuit into the subject of a Washington Post article. The man clearly knows how to find high-quality content, tosay nothing of his ability to produce it. (The top one’s my favorite.) He’s also far more prolific on Twitter, with over 28,000 tweets to her 7,400. @FranTownsend could probably catch up easily – if she weren’t so busy regularly appearing on CNN and advising presidents of the United States on homeland security and counterterrorism, that is.
(6) @mattduss vs. (11) @InkSptsGulliver
This isn’t called Twitter Fight Club for nothing. @InkSptsGulliver’s feed is filled with sharp, incisive debates on the philosophy of war, U.S. military doctrines, the writings of Clausewitz, and everything in between. @mattduss is a top-notch analyst with a strong Twitter presence, but tenacity and pugilism bring it home for the low seed.
(7) @stephaniecarvin vs. (10) @bungdan
@bungdan’s Twitter presence is almost three times greater than @stephaniecarvin’s, with 34,000 tweets to 12,000 and 7,100 followers to 2,300, respectively. This might seem formidable until you realize that @stephaniecarvin is in Ottawa – a city far to the north, if you’re unfamiliar with the lands beyond the Wall – so her followers and tweets are tabulated in metric. Once converted into imperial, the match-up’s almost even. What’s the tie-breaker? Only one of these people is a self-described “cupcake artist.”
@drfarls vs. (9) @Ali_Gharib
Despite the seeds, or perhaps because of them, this has been one of the more high-intensity match-ups so this year, with a ferocity resembling the intractable campaigns on the Eastern Front. Even in the opening salvos, @Ali_Gharib wasn’t afraid to make it personal and @drfarls wasn’t afraid to respond in kind. So like some Newtonian model, every hit landed was met withan equal and opposite reaction by the other for the past forty-eight hours. Even the harshest of counterattacks failed to bluntthe opponent’s momentum. Were this contest to be judged on merits beyond Twitter, @Ali_Gharib would have triumphed with this coup de grace. As it stands, however, deference must be paid to the higher-ranked seed who withstood the barrage over the lower-ranked seed who failed to break through.
You can DQ me for being biased if you want on this one. I never had a prayer. Laura was why I joined Twitter, plus she did a #hirejulia for me (during TFC cause she’s wiley), but in general her interactions and presence are unparalleled. She came to play. I did like LWS’s fake RTs a lot, but… no contest to me.
Leslie Knope references from Lesley. This was close, they were both very engaged with TFC and funny, but I felt like Daveed’s series of tweets about how people with tons of followers can’t engage as much with TCF at risk of alienation, followed by “I promise not to clog up my feed too much with TFC,” was a little… snobby? I dunno, it rubbed me the wrong way. BUT day II he killed it. And Oregonian. SO HARD. Still Lesley in the end, mostly bc her content tends to be more up my ally. By a nose.
I was leaning the other way, but Richard’s Thurs am twitter fight with Jake Tapper put me off… Not that he didn’t have points, but he was aggressive and repetitive and it lasted way too long. Andrew’s OpSec/deception loop joking with @AbuMuqawamaPMC was great too. Two of the best, though.
I liked the sass between them and zoonpolitikon did great with GIFs and pics, but I really do want to see Zack and Hayes face off, and Zack was a little more involved overall.
Way better engagement with TFC, global health pandering, which I liked, trashing Leno, which i love. Tried to bribe me and other judges, while we got no engagement from Fran. She also had a bs Benghazi tweet Thurs am soooo.
Meh, this was underwhelming. It’s a total toss-up for me, which means Matt live tweeted Obama’s Israel speech and therefore won it with:
Odds on Obama actually saying "Hashtag realtalk"?
I do what Dan Drezner says. She livetweeted her parents too, and was responsive and engaged – so was Dan, but this tweet of her to him in particular charmed me:
@ s'all good. I'm sure you just get by on, say, your actual useful and interesting journalism and handsomely rugged profile pic.
Awesome banter and tweets, this one was really close for me. I couldn’t decide until @richganske did his feats of strength. Best exchange:
Fact Check: False. I am, in fact, Money. RT @: Truth is, @ is neither a lawyer, a gun, nor money.
Twitter Fight Club is a game of violence, exclusion, and degradation and the northwest bracket did not disappoint in this first round. The nature of Twitter Fight Club has always hinged upon selecting cunning allies, specifically, the bigger, stronger Twitterati for the purpose of ganging up and eliminating the weaker Twitterati.
No sooner had the opening bell rung when these stalwart sixteen begun their dizzying Machiavellian maneuvers: @texasinafrica joined forces with @stephaniecarvin, @hayesbrown became confederate with @zackbeauchamp, @mattduss collaborated with @rockrichard, and @ali_gharib enlisted the aid of @mattduss, all while @texasinafrica also aligned up with @lesley_warner.
While I find nothing shocking about the tendency to cooperate towards a common goal, I was shocked that it was not more discriminate. I anticipated a web of entanglements weaved not within the same regional bracket but rather on outside help although that did occur (I’m looking at you @brettfriedman). One thing is certain; there is no fear in this bracket for the strategic dangers of how said alliances might fall apart when the temptation of the immediate gain is apparent.
What do the entanglements of the first round alliances mean for round two?
#1 @texasinafrica vs #16 @lwscaustralia
I did not follow the Land Warfare Studies Center previously, but the @lwscaustralia focuses broadly upon the continent’s security concerns and not just upon “exploring land combat.” I was very glad to see their tweets include PTSD and cyberwarfare.
Laura Seay is a professor at Morehouse College, and while she’s not otherwise occupied in educating her students on state failure and conflict, she’s laying current Africa knowledge on the rest of us.
Overall, @texasinafrica overwhelmed her opponent through multiple lines of operations of deception, counter-deception, and shadowy Marine intermediaries (@brettfriedman) that culminated while @lwscaustralia slept half a world away.
#2 @daveedgr vs #15 @lesley_warner
If you concern yourself with National Security and Foreign Policy, then you follow Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. While allegedly procrastinating on completing his dissertation, he leaps small buildings, saves kittens from trees, and has written Bin Laden’s Legacy.
I did not follow Lesley Warner previous to TFC13. With similar expertise as @texasinafrica, @lesley_warner is another great resource for current events and analysis on Africa.
Shocking verdict: @lesley_warner
In a closely contested match, with bare knuckle brawling, and cute baby pictures, the hummingbird @lesley_warner has upset @daveedgr’s drones. Perhaps there will be an all-Africa finale to the northwest bracket?
#3 @tweetsintheME vs #14 @rockrichard
Andrew Lebovich’s work on Twitter (@tweetsintheME) is well known to the NatSec/FoPo following.
Richard Smith was another previous unknown to me in TFC13. The focus of @rockrichard is his righteous accountability of veteran affairs.
This matchup was one of my top-two contests in this bracket’s first round (the other being @mattduss v. @inksptgulliver, see below). Both addressed the voting criteria quite evenly, in my opinion. My technical scoring shows them at a complete tie. Both do not follow me, so at the end of the round I subjected them both to feats of strength. Only Andrew Lebovich responded, so by technical knockout my points go to @tweetsintheME.
#4 @zackbeauchamp vs #13 @zoonpolitikon
Zack is one half of the TFC Brown/Beauchamp gang. Equal parts analysis and humor, @zackbeauchamp is a reporter for ThinkProgress and shares my Google Reader angst.
TFC created a pleasant introduction for me to Ali (@zoonpolitikon) who is a polyglot that tweets in English but blogs in German about international relations, and is a Doctor Who and BSG fan.
Pleasantries aside @zackbeauchamp grabbed the initiative and never looked back. Will he face @hayesbrown in the next round? Will will be the cost to collective security should this strategic alliance fall apart in round two?
#5 @hayesbrown vs #12 @frantownsend
@hayesbrown is the other half of the TFC Brown/Beauchamp gang who, like @zackbeauchamp, reports for ThinkProgress.
Frances Townsend is a former presidential CT adviser and current CNN National Security contributor.
While there is no questioning @frantownsend’s knowledge base and argumentation, @hayesbrown scored a perfect 10 on the technicals to presumably progress to the next round. If he and @zackbeauchamp meet next round then the first (of many?) alliances will crumble in this region.
#6 @mattduss vs #11 @inksptgulliver
Matt Duss is a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, FoxNews, and Al Jazeera as a contributor
Gulliver is an excellent Twitter resource for strategy, doctrine (especially Army doctrine), and CvC.
With a similar level of performance as @hayesbrown, both @mattduss and @inksptgulliver tirelessly maintained a high level of output on Twitter in their own specific areas of expertise. And like @hayesbrown, I’ve graded both @mattduss and @inksptgulliver a perfect 10 on the technicals. In my mind, this was quietly the most competitive of all the matchups in this round. So the tiebreaker fell to the “most ridiculous interview questions” I could find on the internet for the Feats of Strength. @mattduss did not reply, so points to @inksptgulliver who replied that if he could be anyone living or dead, he would consider a golfing Clausewitz, a read Pappy Van Winkle, or a whiskey aficionado Tiger Woods. Well played sir.
#7 @stephaniecarvin vs #10 @bungdan
Stephanie Carvin is an International Relations professor, a cupcake artist, and knows what the hell an at-at is.
I cannot say what Dan Murphy does, who he is, or where he came from. I’ve become so confounded by @stephaniecarvin’s highly effective propaganda campaign… however, @bungdan does great military commentary and if he posts it about the Middle East, I read it.
In the end, I’m in shock that Vermont has been ceded to Canada for its crucial maple syrup resources and random anagrams were too much for my feeble mind. I no longer know what is true and what is not. @stephaniecarvin gained my vote via the Two Minutes Hate.
#8 @drfarls vs #9 @ali_gharib
Robert Farley is a professor at the University of Kentucky. @drfarls also blogs at Lawyers, Guns & Money and is a regular contributor at The Diplomat on international affairs and seapower.
Ali Gharib is Middle East correspondent for The Daily Beast.
Photo Finish: @drfarls
There is something to be said for not letting TFC change your game and that’s commendable on @ali_gharib’s part. @drfarls clearly tweaked his style to match his judges. And despite the misgivings of @douhetNYT, the technicals support @drfarls gaining my vote. @drfarls helped himself pushing more airpower than usual through his feed the last two days, however, he almost tanked with his John Warden reference (#notafan).
(1) @texasinafrica vs. (16) @lwscaustralia
This seemed a pretty straightforward match at first, with @lwscaustralia missing a lot of the first day’s TFC fight time due to the ridiculous time difference (I should know, I’m on GMT+8). What looked like a dominant early performance from @texasinafrica had turned around by Thursday night (AUS time), as @lwscaustralia had clearly decided to take ‘work’ home with them and keep the brawl going. Both competitors covered a range of topics, from Afghanistan to China, and from Iron Dome to the conflict in Mali. Likewise, both competitors were frequently engaged with their audiences, with @texasinafrica even managing to rope in an endorsement from Grand Moff Friedman himself. Not to be outdone, @lwscaustralia… fabricated glowing support. I fully expected to award an easy win to @texasinafrica, having seen the ‘calibre’ of other official Aussie Army accounts before, but – by just a wallaby’s whisker – I have to award this one to @lwscaustralia.
(2) @DaveedGR vs. (15) @lesley_warner
Both competitors seemed to ease into their match nicely, producing and sharing good content, and engaging with their followers and fellow competitors. Whilst @lesley_warner perhaps didn’t have the foresight to follow all of the judges, she put out some excellent links looking at Mali and South Sudan. There wasn’t too much political jockeying from either camp (no doubt @DaveedGR is saving his A game), though @lesley_warner went for the zombie angle, whilst @DaveedGR focused on his Twitterfight expertise. At the end of the day, @DaveedGR came out stronger in engagement and humour, claiming a clear – if not comfortable – victory.
(3) @tweetsintheme vs. (14) @rockrichard
As with previous matchups, it was excellent to see both duellists heavily engaged with their audiences and put out solid content. But really, it came down to Star Wars. My favourite exchange included the two following tweets, both showing solid analysis of the original trilogy:
@tweetsintheme: “endor was a key tactical staging ground and target site, but hardly a strategic re-orientation.”
@rockrichard: “But I think that Hoth is probably the best example of realignment of strategic priorities. Insurgency became non-kinetic.”
Whilst I’m not sure that the Rebel forces’ retreat to Hoth constituted a shift to a ‘non-kinetic insurgency’ (more like a staging ground for strategic, very much kinetic ops), both competitors had me chuckling. In the end, @tweetsintheme appeared to have a firmer grasp of Rebel insurgent strategy in the original trilogy, and gets my vote on that basis.
(4) @zackbeauchamp vs. (13) @zoonpolitikon
Google Reader (or rather, its untimely demise) took up quite a chunk of @zackbeauchamp’s Tweet time, even discussing hisfriends’ reactions to the news, however his opponent was quick to point out that he was lagging behind the fast-paced medium of Twitter. @zoonpolitikon made an uninspiring, Dr Who-based appeal, but quickly realised his tactical error. Of course, he also decided he was best represented by Kermit the Frog. It seemed that the snark stakes had evened out in this match, and it came down to content. Both competitors produced a high volume of material, however @zackbeauchamp edged out by engaging with a number of followers on different tweets throughout the play period.
(5) @hayesbrown vs. (12) @FranTownsend
Unfortunately, @FranTownsend had only fired off a handful of tweets by the time I wrote these judgements up. I’d cut her a little slack for being on the news, but I managed to get to a TV studio and back in essentially the same time period. Whilst she hit back at @hayesbrown’s initial salvo, the follow-up was sadly lacking. So despite this little piece of snark directed my way, @hayesbrown scores an early victory from me.
(6) @mattduss vs. (11) @InkSptsGulliver
This was another surprising match, with neither competitor having been particularly prolific by the time I was writing these judgements. Nor had either of them used the #TFC13 hashtag, or engaged with each other in any way. I was certainly surprised by @InkSptsGulliver, who I have followed for quite some time and know to be proficient at the art of Twitterfighting. In the end, @InkSptsGulliver snuck in a few more on-point tweets, and won out.
(7) @stephaniecarvin vs. (10) @bungdan
@stephaniecarvin and @bungdan each managed an excellent balance of useful tweets, audience engagement, and traded barbs. @stephaniecarvin pointed out that ‘bungdan’ is an anagram of ‘band gnu’, apparently indicating @bungdan advocated a ban on gnus. Somehow, that turned into this horrible YouTube video. However, whilst @bungdan’s quips were a little unimaginative at times, @stephaniecarvin’s were spot-on, old school Twitterfight bombs, twisting her opponent’s words to suit her own purposes.
(8) @drfarls vs. (9) @Ali_Gharib
The final match of the Northwest Round saw a solid scrap between @drfarls and @Ali_Gharib, who was quick to claim editorial dominance over @drfarls’ recent writing. An early endorsement for @drfarls came from @AbuMuqawamaPMC, with @Ali_Gharib questioning the use of mercenaries. Of course, there are no rules in Twitter Fight Club. He learned fast though, and when @drfarls tried to paint him as a cartoon villain, @Ali_Gharib hit back in classic TFC style. @drfarls threw in anappeal to one of the bracket judges, which is always a wise move, but it wasn’t enough to save him in my eyes.
1) @intelwire vs 16) @forbesmm
My first thought upon looking at the bracket was that @forbesmm was woefully underseeded. I also think @intelwire was slightly overseeded, but who am I to judge? Oh wait, a judge. Aside from the many substantial reasons I could waste your time with, I’m giving this round to @forbesmm because a) he’s Army (go Army!), b) he bought me beers once, and c) who doesn’t love an upset? (Also, he’s extremely quick-witted for a Major, which cannot be discounted.)
@BFriedmanDC vs 9) @trdeghett
@BFriedmanDC: Extremely smart and witty (good), but also a Marine (ehhhhh). @trdeghett: New to me, but professes to like Arabic rap, and that’s pretty awesome. I’m gonna have to go with what I know here though. @BFriedmanDC’s body of work is pretty tough to overcome.
5) @chrisalbon vs 12) @PeterRNeumann
Hmm, another battle of higher-seeded known vs. lower-seeded unknown. Why do you do this to me, Caitlin? On day 1, @PeterRNeumann hit a home run when he managed to lump Bashar al-Assad in with Rand Paul. He’s good. @chrisalbon has a solid body of work, but didn’t really bring it on day 1 of TFC13. The dreaded 12-5 upset strikes Twitterfightclub!
4) @SlaughterAM vs 13) @Allison_Good1
@SlaughterAM is a powerhouse. @Allison_Good1 is a Louisianan. Dilemma… I’m not gonna lie though, I haven’t seen a whole lot of @SlaughterAM lately, and since this is Twitterfightclub, I’ve got to go with the better twitterer.
6) @Doctrine_Man vs 11) JimmySky
Army vs. Air Force? No contest. But even aside from that, @Doctrine_Man just gets me.
3) @astridhka vs 14) dan_e_solo
Oof. @dan_e_solo is gonna have a hard time overcoming the Backstreet Boys admission. Also, @astridhka pretty much smacked @dan_e_solo around with the maps, and I love the maps.
7) @AthertonKD vs 10) @elsnarkistani
@AthertonKD’s Louisiana ties should help him, but then again he went to Tulane, so it’s pretty much a wash on that count. On the other hand, Blog Tarkin is pretty awesome. @elsnarkistani…well, snark. Pretty much the whole reason Twitter exists. And he’s a vet, so I’m biased again. Damn, this is a tough one.
2) @attackerman vs 15) @DzirhanDefence
FINALLY an easy one. (Relatively.) @attackerman is a Twitter rockstar, and deservedly so. He’s pretty badass over at Wired, too. Also, see previous comment re: snark.
This would have been a tough matchup to judge had @ForbesMM been up against pretty much anybody else. However, @intelwire is an absolute force on twitter: a high-volume news source who also provides deep, relevant analysis of events, both past and in-progress. Though I think @ForbesMM deserves better than a first-round out, @intelwire has to get my vote here.
I can see one of the Young Turks in this competition taking out @attackerman down the road, but on name ID alone he’ll probably sail through this round. That being said, while enjoy his feed (and while the Danger Room crew is fun to read), I have to go for the underdog here. @dzirhandefence provides excellent twitter content daily, and he gets my vote here against the Goliath that is @attackerman.
Two folks who know Africa, and who are prolific (and fun to read) tweeters? This is a tough one to call, but as Africa grows on the developed world’s radar (for more reasons than just minerals this time), I have to go with the tweeter here who is covering that regularly. My vote goes to @dan_e_solo.
This is a very tough matchup between two people who “get” the medium, yet use it very differently. While both are very interesting, I think @SlaughterAM‘s body of work as a whole on twitter has earned her the right to advance to Round 2.
Have I mentioned that this is a tough quadrant of the bracket to judge yet? I enjoy both @chrisalbon and @PeterRNeumann’s feeds immensely, even if the former has lost a little volume since transitioning from “graduate student” to “guy with an actual job.” I can’t help but think how much fun later rounds would be with myriad Frontline (nee Conflict) Kitchen Appliance accounts advocating for @chrisalbon; however, based on the recent activity in their respective feeds, I have to go with @PeterRNeumann here.
What’s that word I keep using? Oh, right: tough. Both of these guys are great tweeters, and they both bring great knowledge to the NatSec conversation. This is so difficult I literally changed my mind a half dozen times while writing this sentence, but I have to cast a vote, so it goes to….@jimmysky.
Definitely two of the most fun feeds in this space, and another one where I changed my mind several times when it came down to decision time. It seems like there’s a pattern to my picks today; other than @intelwire, @slaughteram, and (spoiler alert!) @BFriedmanDC, I appear to be in pick-the-underdog mode, and that continues here. @athertonkd deserves better than to lose in the first round (and I’m guessing he won’t), but @elsnarkistani gets the vote. Man was this a tough one to decide.
I don’t know if 8 vs 9 counts as a real underdog vs favored matchup, but this is one of the few cases where I went with the higher-seeded individual. @trgeghett provides a lot of quality content in her feed, but the insight and experience @BFriedmanDC brings to twitter is tough to beat. He gets the vote.
I was a judge last year for TFC. I think, maybe it was the year before that, I’m honestly not sure. While I may not be sure of that, I am sure of this: I was shocked when I read this year’s judging guidelines. I’m pretty sure that there were no judging guidelines in past TFCs and I think the competition was better for this, I firmly believe in the [find amendment number later] Amendment right of all Americans to judge other people based on whatever capricious whim suits them.
Anyhow, the guidance I received was (along with a laundry list of recommended “metrics” and other such nonsense), “We also reserve the right to throw out any ballots that don’t at least make some attempt at objectivity.” Well, since this is all pretty serious business I don’t want my ballot thrown out so I’ve attempted to get some objective data from the competitors. If TFC were about readily available objective data it wouldn’t be in any fun because it would be Klout. To that end I asked the tweeps in my division for their weight. Here’s what happened
(1) intelwire vs (16) ForbesMM
While @intelwire‘s feed is a treasure trove of links regarding foreign policy and national security Google Reader still exists (though he does get kudos for his prescient vision of its demise). He also seems to be hiding something because when I asked for some objective measures to use in judging my region he obfuscated. When queried more directly his response was unsettling (1).
Meanwhile, laboring in somewhat more obscure corners of twitter @ForbesMM‘s feed does not resemble Google Reader (which, for now, is a point in his favor, though he also loses a point for lack of the foresight that his opponent has clearly demonstrated in filling this soon-to-be empty niche). @ForbesMM also raises a good point about his opponent’s views on Twitter Fight Club: Does @intelwire believe the Twitter Fight Club to be spam? It would seem so, and from his continued evasions it becomes harder and harder to not jump to conclusions and vote for his opponent.
The final deciding factor however was that @intelwire not only made a poor decision by using an unconventional and confusing hashtag throughout the first day’s competition (and continued, Rumsfeldian, defending this mistake until its ignominy was clear to all) (a). Complementing this was the objective data that @ForbesMM weighs 5.87×10^28 AU, we have no such objective information about @intelwire.
(8) BFriedmanDC vs (9) trdeghett
I’m not familiar with both of these competitors, only with @BFriedmanDC, who I see here as criminally underrated. Additionally a perusal of @trdeghett‘s feed does not reveal much in the way of “Twitter Fighting” whereas @BFriedmanDC has multiple grudges and regularly antagonizes the IAVA crew for their inexplicable dislike of Shinseki. If they would just come out and say that they’re still bitter about the whole “berets for everyone thing” it would probably resolve a lot of issues. It must be noted that @trdeghett did answer my call for objective data with something sort of resembling an answer.
(5) chrisalbon vs (12) PeterRNeumann
Chris is married to a pediatrician. I’m going to be a pediatrician in about 3 months. Game. Set. Match.
(4) SlaughterAM vs (13) Allison_Good1
Not only has @Allison_Good1 brought the heat as far as entertainment goes (objectively speaking) during TFC13 her opponent has no idea what it is and has been essentially non participatory.
(11) JimmySky vs (6) Doctrine_Man
One of these competitors responded to my call for objective data with photographic proof, hard to get more objective than that. One did not respond at all.
(3) astridhka vs (14) dan_e_solo
Toughest matchup to judge. Dan put up a great fight, but in the end some late-breaking, objective, allegations of Ridgeback dislike were leveled at @dan_e_solo and never responded to adequately. In the world of Twitter Fighting, “When did you stop beating your wife?” is a valid strategy, employed masterfully by @astridhka in this matchup.
(7) AthertonKD vs (10) elsnarkistani
This matchup was incredibly difficult to judge, both competitors giving it their all, entertaining me, offering me bribes, etc. Then @AthertonKD revealed, with objective data, that he owns a cat.
(2) attackerman vs (15) dzirhandefence
Neither party seems super interested in TFC13, instead going about their normal, non-aggressive twitter lives. @attackerman has a) the more aggressive twitter handle (attack vs defence [sic]… you do the math) and a longer track record of Twitter fighting he wins by default.
Below I launch into my results, I’ll start by saying it was a hard field to narrow! So to give you an idea of how I judged this field, this is what I kept in mind, both in quantitative and qualitative terms:
1. knowledge base (tweet content, including quality of argumentation);
2. innovative thinking (presenting tweets in a novel or innovative way);
3. overall Twitiquette (meaning humour, snark, but also responsiveness and respect shown to followers)
To be fair as possible, after I gathered my first impressions, I waited a few hours before going back and verifying my results in reverse order.
Gentlemen from very different styles had approximately the same level of jovial engagement with followers, and were about equal in innovation (I liked @ForbesMM’s #TFC13 strategy!). So I gave it to @intelwire for a stronger performance in tweets in his area of knowledge whereas I found @ForbesMM, no less a knowledgeable tweeter, spent too much time talking about #TFC13 than tweet-fighting it.
Seriously knowledgeable dudes! It came down to consistency in this instance, and @DzirhanDefence won out for producing super informative tweets mixed in with the right ratio of engagement. That said, @attackerman’s dating advice is priceless!
The Africa experts. How do I separate these two? Both got right into the spirit of #TFC13 and for that alone both deserve commendation for being good sports and an admonishing fingerwag for mud-raking! Not being an Africa person, it came down to who better showed/shared knowledge, and for me it was … um … oh gosh this was hard … @astridhka
The Professor and the Student. I had to wade a little more than usual to get to the heart of their knowledge bases in their feeds, but you can’t fault either lady for being passionate about what they believe it, whether it’s women in the workplace or Kelly Clarkson Both are good engagers, so it came down to quality tweeting (especially in content), and in this deciding field, I gave it to @SlaughterAM.
@chrisalbon’s humour still makes me smile. I’m new to @PeterRNeumann, but lucky “ich spreche some Deutsch”! @chrisalbon’s got the Twititquette down overall but @PeterRNeumann was ahead in knowledge base. As I scrolled down, I saw @PeterRNeumann show uncharacteristic looseness in castigating a colleague for tweeting while on a panel. So in a photo finish, I gave it to @PeterRNeumann for a stronger performance overall.
Both very clever tweeters. @Doctrine_Man’s strength and novelty is his ability to fold doctrine and strategy lessons into quips, if you’re into polmil stuff, I recommend you follow him. But tweet for tweet, @JimmySky is stronger in the criteria listed above, especially content and knowledge, and is my 2013 pick.
Both straight from the blogworld with strong analytical minds willing to mix it up with pop culture in their writing. Loved their #TFC13 quips as well. But in their overall Twitter feed performances, I was left wanting more from @ElSnarkistani in content. @AthertonKD gets my vote this year.
Last for today but not least, the media pack: a PR Expert and a Journalist. @trdeghett curates a tight, interesting feed full of links relevant to her fields. @BFriedmanDC has great engagement and equally provides fascinating stuff. I’ve given it to @BFriedmanDC for his novel presentation of facts about the Afghanistan war by stating how old servicepeople killed this week were in 2001. Another photo finish!
Judging is subjective. I have made an effort to also make it transparent. When thinking through how I would approach this round I identified certain benchmarks that would undoubtedly shape my decision making. The below decision tree highlights these factors:
Competitors able to meet the criteria at the lower end of the tree have an advantage. Let’s move on to the matches:
(1) @adamserwer vs. (16) @zaidjilani
This match was apparently blacked out in my market. To make it interesting I flipped a book, in this case Nicholas Blanford’s Warriors of God. Cover goes to the higher seed. Cover it is. @adamserwer gets the vote.
(2) @joshuafoust vs. (15) @rejectionking
This was a very close match. As a product of the academy, I’m at times partial to the underdog. @rejectionking did not disappoint. TFC organizers did him no favor placing him opposite @joshuafoust, but Sina put forward impressive effort. This had the potential for a Balboa-Creed double knockout, but in the end I had to decide what I valued more: social justice or self-preservation. I went with the latter. Although “real” Josh is a very pleasant fellow, “twitter” Josh scares me. @joshuafoust gets the vote.
(3) @azelin vs. (14) @dohoBOB
See decision tree. O.G. @azelin gets the vote.
(4) @gregorydjohnsen vs. (13) @ArminRosen
O.G. and fellow U of A NES alumnus @gregorydjohnsen gets the vote. I didn’t really have a choice here since Gregory also has Terry Gross’ endorsement.
(5) @smsaideman vs. (12) @EvansRyan202
This was hardest fought match in the bracket. @EvansRyan202 played it conservative but did not rest on his laurels. @smsaideman took appropriate steps to advance into legitimate contention and even pulled ahead with some impressive strategery. My Canadian spouse has given me a fondness for the people of the great white north. This alone could have tipped the scales in @smsaideman’s favor. However, two factors ultimately put Ryan ahead for good: 1) he’s an O.G. and 2) I owe him for last Cinco de Mayo. @EvansRyan202 gets the vote.
(6) @naheedmustafa vs. (11) @charlie_simpson
The decision tree should have decided this contest. However, not wanting to see Canada fall short completely in this bracket gave @naheedmustafa a slight edge. I flipped an Emirati dirham to check with the karma gods. Heads (decanter) goes to Naheed. Heads it is. The gods have spoken. @naheedmustafa gets the vote.
(7) @johnsonr vs. (10) @JDanaStuster
I expected this to be competitive. It was until @johnsonr pulled off a Crane Kick. COME AT ME BRO. No can defend. @johnsonr gets the vote.
(8) @laurenist vs. (9) @drjjoyner
This was essentially a tie. @laurenist started stronger but faded late. Conditioning could have been a factor. Tie breaker goes to the Alexandrian. @drjjoyner gets the vote.
Most law students, deep down, dream of one day being a Supreme Court justice. This, I reckon, is the closest I’m ever going to come. And so, with thanks to @caidid for giving me this platform, I will proceed to abuse my authority to the utmost of my ability. My judging strategy basically boils down to three precepts: 1) ramble on long enough that you lose interest, thus overlooking the leaps of logic I make, especially in 2) comparing two (or more) different “values,” even if they have little or nothing to do with each other, and pronouncing the resulting “balance” as almost too close to call, before 3) making the pick I want to make anyway. If you’ve ever read a John Marshall opinion, this method should make perfect sense to you. In this way, I hope you will overlook that I am not nearly as humorous or insightful as the contestants upon whom I have been called to pass judgment, and who all have much better feeds than do I. But, as the old saying goes, “Those who can, tweet. Those who can’t, write out 4400 word posts. Those who do both are Gulliver and Trombly.
@AdamSerwer v. @ZaidJilani
Is this really a 1 v. 16 matchup? Both competitors got down to business as usual, providing hard-hitting opinions through their feeds. @AdamSerwer, for his part, appeared to all but ignore the competition in favor of his day job, which fortunately for him still allows him to be competitive. @ZaidJilani, however, scores points by being willing to use an electronic device even while possibly being targeted.
At the end of the day, this is a surprisingly tough call. Both competitors spend a lot of time talking about topics that I don’t follow closely. On those that I do follow, I often disagree with much of what they say. This is not a bad thing at all, and I’m happy to follow both (though @ZaidJilani is a new follow for this competition). I’m going to buck the rankings here and go with @ZaidJilani, whose pointed commentary on multiple issues this week is successfully thought-provoking, and whose own words show humility and a willingness to make himself reconsider. This takes nothing away from @AdamSerwer, whose feed is consistently interesting but is possibly so broad and prolific that individual tweets fail to have the same impact.
@joshuafoust v. @rejectionking
Speaking of tweeters that have to avoid being killed! @rejectionking has quickly become a good follow for information on Iran and sanctions (especially in combo with @youbsanctioned). @joshuafoust, as anyone who has followed him for long knows, is an expert on all things expert (not to take anything away from @DaveedGR, Twitter’s leading authority on leading authorities). His domain includes drones, insurgency, secrecy, and food. @rejectionking is great at sifting through the mass of bytes on Twitter for those one or two morsels worth finding. @joshuafoust is great at carving up internet experts and DoD advisors with incisive commentary, sweeping through their arguments like a modern-day Tamerlane, if with slightly more respect for the human rights of Central Asians. I have to give this round to @joshuafoust, whose feed, as always, provides a fine balance of analysis with humor and the random, even when he’s busy twitterfighting opponents not his own. Also because this is a national security focused event, and who doesn’t love carpet bombing more than careful targeting?
@azelin v. @DoHoBoB
I feel sorry for those of us (namely, me) trying to decide between these two. Very different feeds, subject-wise, but both incredibly knowledgeable. And so we must consider several different values in deciding. If we go by pandering, @azelin easily takes the cake (writing your own pander will always win over belatedly retweeting someone else’s). I also like his equanimity in the face of death threats made against 10-year-olds. But @DoHoBoB was all over the place throwing out interesting stories. I also considered whether the rookie deserves a break going against last year’s bracket champion, In the end, I have to go with @azelin, based on depth of tweeted knowledge. I remain open to the possibility of changing my pick, however, if @DoHoBoB will provide barbecue the next time I’m in Houston.
@GregoryDJohnsen v. @ArminRosen
Both competitors got off to bad starts for an event that prizes strategic knowledge. I trust @gregorydjohnsen to provide me with information about a place that I know next to nothing about (namely Yemen), and yet he goes and puts himself on foreign territory. Or @caidid puts him there. Either way. But then @ArminRosen apparently came unarmed to a knife fight, failing to check his equipment to make sure it was functioning properly before entering into his engagement. Both nearly fatal errors, and perhaps the contestants were lucky to be matched against each other.
Early missteps aside, the two quickly came to blows. Credit @ArminRosen with the best current events joke, and one that makes fun of Richard Nixon. Ignoring this, @gregorydjohnsen showed that he’s all business when it comes to TFC. @ArminRosen balanced TFC with a media appearance, which is all kinds of cool. But I think I once heard @gregorydjohnsen on NPR, and I don’t think it was on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” though I could be mistaken. @gregorydjohnsen says a vote for him is one for freedom and cavities. @ArminRosen says a vote for him…means he won’t force WMATA to single-track tomorrow.
It’s good v. evil. Freedom v. WMATA tyranny. Ultimately, however, neither of those promises changes anything (I’m already relatively free, and I already have about a 75% chance of single-tracking anytime I use the metro). Ultimately, I have to pick @gregorydjohnsen, who provides news I can’t get anywhere else.
@smsaideman v. @EvansRyan202
The feistiest engagement in this region (despite some surprisingly tender moments)! So much going for @EvansRyan202 in this one. He’s a fellow Jesuit survivor, a dark liquor drinker, and a fellow Duke fan (though I harbor some grave doubts about his sincerity). Additionally, he’s the underdog and runs a feed that sticks close to what he knows, while still being surprisingly broad in scope. Against this, however, I have to weigh his notoriety as a slavedriver.
Opponent @smsaideman returns this year savvier and veterannier than ever. If I were to judge solely by the number of rounds fired (presumably a favored @brettfriedman metric), this would be no issue. The amount of words that @smsaideman puts out per day is astounding, and I’m not even counting anything he puts on his blog. Let’s be honest, here is a man with so much time on his fingers that he can not only battle his own competitor, he can get in early shots for down the road.
I enjoyed both of these competitors immensely. They threw some great zingers back and forth and both showed great Muppets knowledge. When it comes to substance, there is a definite contrast. @EvansRyan202 tweets much more in-depth, @smsaideman much more broadly. Sadly for @EvansRyan202, this week, as the Iraq anniversary, was a week that favors ruminations on national security policy writ large. @smsaideman for the win, with the hopes that @EvansRyan202 comes back next year during a week in which insurgent movements are much more active (wait…am I really hoping for that?).
@NaheedMustafa v. @charlie_simpson
@charlie_simpson usually has a great feed, aside from the KU cheerleading, but her job interfered with the competition this year. Her early plea for sympathy worked on this judge, who understands the pain of BAAs. In the end, though, you can’t blow off the competition and expect to win. Unless you’re Christian Laettner.
Now, if there were a cash reward for TFC, I’d have had to vote for @NaheedMustafa almost regardless of competition. If you hadn’t noticed, she is trying to raise money to do some on-the-ground reporting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and I feel like this is the type of thing I should support. Sadly, there is no such cash reward, and I think there’s a 50% chance that her on-the-ground reporting will be entirely dedicated to telling me about the people on Pakistani trains. Actually, now that I think about it, that sounds pretty entertaining. Vote for @NaheedMustafa!
@johnsonr v. @JDanaStuster
Everyone’s favorite USMC ethics professor v. the up-and-coming listicle creator. Actually, when you say it that way, it doesn’t sound like much of a competition. Nonetheless, these two put together a fun battle to watch. @johnsonr got off on the wrong foot, telling her followers that she was rebuilding the Command and Staff College, but not crowdsourcing for ideas. Does she have any idea how much most of her readership would probably enjoy that project? Apparently not; points deducted. @JDanaStuster, meanwhile, was more than content to rope-a-dope and let his opponent get herself into mistakes. But when both parties fully joined battle this afternoon, the results were hilarious. Well done to both parties, though I feel compelled to point out @johnsonr’s contribution to the ongoing decline of the American economy.
Substantively, both were good sources of information, posting links to articles and reports throughout the day (this one got extra points with this judge). In the end, @johnsonr had a few more substantive posts, and almost all of them on topics she knows well. Well done to @JDanaStuster, but vote to @johnsonr.
@laurenist v. @drjjoyner
In so many ways a clash of contrasts. Male v. female. Gen X v. Millenial. Scotch v. scotch.
@laurenist came out swinging, clearly understanding what the day (or two) was about. @drjjoyner, always up for a debate about, around, or between veterans, started twitterfighting with careless abandon, searching out new opponents. In one morning, I saw him engaged on three different topics, with half a dozen or so opponents. Impressive, though he couldn’t keep up that frenetic pace. @laurenist, meanwhile, went about being helpful, which is an odd thing to see during TFC. I initially wasn’t sure whether to award points or not for that, but I ultimately decided that there’s a good chance she was just buttering @johnsonr up for betrayal in a future round. Points for that, then, as well as for her unique ability to get something tangible from TFC.
Despite supposedly being a clash of contrasts, this comes right down to the wire. @drjjoyner by a whisker, based on the number of different topics upon which he’s willing to engage. I want to compliment both of these contestants, though, for their debate on job trainers for veterans. Though the snark is fun, one of the best things about this competition is that it gives smart people the opportunity to engage each other on a variety of topics. Both @drjjoyner and @laurenist know their veterans’ issues, and I enjoyed seeing them debate on it.
Congratulations, though, to all of the contestants! I very much enjoyed reading your tweets for the past two days, and thanks for participating.
I should preface this with something of an apology. I followed exactly half of the people in this bracket before the tournament began. Luckily, most of them faced each other so I didn’t have really unfair decisions to make, but for some the choice was really based on output over the past two days. With that said…
This one’s rather unfair from the start. I haven’t been following Zaid, though extra points for labor issues because nobody talks about them enough. On the other hand, I follow Adam. Also, I saw him once at a Clyde’s happy hour. I think he was leaving.
Now, here’s a matchup I can get behind. The current star versus the newcomer. HUMINT v. cyber. The guy who uses real names, and the other guy who doesn’t really. Lots of other things. But here are the crucial “keys to the match”:
- Puggles: Now, as a guy who grew up with proper pugs and plans on getting one sometime soon, I could go either way. On the one hand, they’ve got precious pugblood in them. On the other hand, they’re abominations. But from the pictures I’ve seen, Milo is pretty adorable. Rejection has a very cute little dog himself. I don’t know the breed but it looks yappy and nervous and precious and if I tried to pet it I would pull a Lennie from Of Mice and Men. But that surely isn’t the dog’s fault.
- Foursquare: I like to keep track of comings and goings. I like remembering what the name of that bar I was at Saturday night is because I won’t otherwise. And the King of all Rejection uses it, and I like that.
- Cooking: I asked @rejectionking was the last meal he cooked was, and the answer was mac and cheese with “fancy chicken sausage”. I am hungry all the time and that sounds amazing. Foust uses way too many vegetables, but he also puts up all the pretty pictures, so points to him there.
- Cyber: Put simply, @rejectionking has turned me on to way more sweet cyber/etc. Twitter accounts than I ever thought possible. Including a useful Reddit (extra points!). So there’s that.
Also, you guys, they agree on Star Trek things, making this a very hard-fought decision, but in the end…it’s @joshuafoust, surprising even myself, because pug lineage is unstoppable.
Zelin gave me a shoutout But @dohoBOB’s name is Betsy Ross, and she had a very bad day yesterday (it may also have been a stratagem…but in that case it was indeed a good one). Then again, Zelin is as annoyed about the Obama trip underway as I am, which is nice to hear. This one’s tough, but owing mostly to my ignorance…
@dohoBOB, in an upset.
@ArminRosen is one of the accounts that most closely resembles Weird Twitter. Mr. Johnsen once visited Canada. No contest here.
Ryan was the first to follow me, and we share a Chicago connection (Devon Avenue whaaaat). Saideman has been more engaging, but he’s also Canadian. So there’s a tossup for ya. Against my better judgment (see: previous decision), and owing to his prolific output, the winner: @smsaideman.
This was about to be a hard-fought battle, and then Ms. Simpson tweeted: “Please vote for @naheedmustafa in #TFC13. I’m swamped.” As someone who’s been trying to print versions of the same document non-stop for several weeks, I feel your pain, and understand.
I think you’re both pretty great, but between yoga pants, Science Club, and an illustrious family name, the winner is clear. I don’t care how many generations removed our common ancestor might be or how thin the blood is – it’s still thicker than water. Or oil. Or wine or something. Look, we Jenkinseseses just gotta stick together, is all.
AN EPIC DUEL. The professor v. the whiz kid. DC v. Quantico. R vs. J. Ms. Johnson tweets evening discussions, which are great. I always seem to miss the beginning though and am always too lazy to get caught up again. Mr. Stuster seems to follow more my Twitter style, of interesting links and occasional replies and such. Also, Rebecca gave me a shout-out/suck-up, which was nice…but Dana promised me beer. And that’s even thicker than blood. Or whatever.
A note on methodology:
You will note that I provide two quantitative metrics here along with my qualitative assessments. Past Twitter Fight Clubs have been marred with dispute over if and how quantitative factors deserve a larger place in judging, and to what extent one’s past Twitteroeuvre ought factor into our decision.
I render my judgments in this manner: When available, for analyzing prior body of work, I will incorporate both a T-Score and a Gartenstein-Ross Score*, assessed at the time of selection. These numbers will be aggregated using a sophisticated process called “lumping it together,” the theorems of which are so complex and mind-boggling I could only adequately explain it in a more scholarly forum, such as a barroom napkin.
Then, you take the qualitative variable, and at this point I hope you’ve actually just decided to scroll down to find out the results, so really, let’s cut to the chase.
(1) @ADAMSERWER VS. (16) @ZAIDJILANI
T-Scores: .12 vs. .76
DGR Scores: 405 vs. 2492
Here’s a great example of how quantitative metrics can obliterate our preconceptions of Twitter-fighting strength. Neither of these progressives spent much time twitter fighting each other, although @zaidjilani’s casual invitation for electoral support did question the fundamentally reactionary underpinnings of TFC. Nevertheless, the stats don’t lie. This white guy’s vote goes to @zaidjilani.
(2) @JOSHUAFOUST VS. (15) @REJECTIONKING
T-Scores and DGR-Scores for this matchup unavailable due to data collection issues.
Joshua “The Puggle-owning Pugilist” Foust and Sina “I Can’t Think of a Chihuahua Joke” K. face off. For the bloodthirsty audience there was a fair amount of sparring between these two, including adorable dog pictures. Nevertheless, this competition is about twitterfighting, not who has the best dog picture on the internet (then I would win, duh). And as far as twitterfighting goes, there’s few who can claim to do it with the tenacity of @joshuafoust.
(3) @AZELIN VS. (14) @DOHOBOB
T-Scores: .45 vs. 7.76
DGR Scores: 1352 vs. 29409
@Azelin, despite his dominating output on jihadist ideology, simply can’t stand up to the unstoppable Twitter doom machine that is @DOHOBOB, who leads everyone else even scored. @Azelin was very active during the competition period, and was even the first to pander to me by recommending a follow. @DOHOBOB explained her relative silence by participating in a 400lb-of-meat-consuming cookoff, but since none of it was sent to me, I can’t give her credit for that. What I can give her credit for is the statistical Omdurman she can inflict on most foes. If you can’t stand the heat, get out the way of the Kitchener of Moneyball’d TFC.
(4) @GREGORYJOHNSEN VS. (13) @ARMINROSEN
T-Scores: .22 vs. 1.78
DGR Scores: 415 vs. 4586
Gregory Johnsen, as Armin Rosen noted, is a Princeton professor and the published author of a work that is thus far definitive on its subject. But this is Twitter Fight Club. It’s not simply the stats here, it’s Armin Rosen‘s general embrace of the spirit of twitterfighting which none of his followers could really question, and which continued to shine through throughout the course of the first round. While it’s up to the other judges and the public to determine whether Johnsen will have to seek solace from Twitter defeat in the Last Refuge of his, well, many other accomplishments, my vote must go to his opponent.
(5) @SMSAIDEMAN VS. (12) @EVANSRYAN202
T-Scores and DGR-Scores for this matchup unavailable due to data collection issues.
These two took the message of twitterfighting each other most to heart, with disses involving each other’s scholarly papers, hometowns, judge-encouraged groan-inducing puns, and many things else besides. In the spirit of this competition they have no equals within this bracket. But, only one will take their surely now battered keyboard or touchscreen to the field of decision next. There was pandering to myself and to other judges, some of it involving Duke, which is pretty bold considering @CaldwellGR is probably the only Duke fan judging. This, by far, was the toughest decision. In the spirit of Anton Chigurh, in touch with the dark and violent forces of the universe which surely motivate twitterfighting as well as murder-for-hire, I flipped a coin, which involves probability, which is kind of like statistics, which is kind of like what would have decided this if I could wrestle the necessary numbers from the ever-tightening grip of Twitter’s API. Congratulations @EvansRyan202.
(6) @NAHEEDMUSTAFA VS. (11) @CHARLIE_SIMPSON
Due to what would ordinarily be a crippling conflict of interest, since the (11) seed is my employer, I am not going to pretend to make any kind of objective assessment about this round. I was petrified that, upon being found out, I would have to walk into @Caidid’s office and surrender my badge and gun. However, thanks to @Charlie_Simpson almost immediately demanding all to vote for @NaheedMustafa, my conflict of interest is absolved, leaving me free to abuse my power in future rounds.
(7) @JOHNSONR VS. (10) @JDANASTUSTER
T-Score: 1.7 vs. .61
DGR Score: 7973 vs. 252
Both competitors put up a good show, but the raw stats and @JohnsonR’s long history of tweeting and commendable volume still managed to overshadow @JDanaStuster stepping it up for the competition. This vote goes to @JohnsonR.
(8) @LAURENIST VS. (9) @DRJJOYNER
Here was another dramatic matchup, with the noticeable and prolonged intervention of @AbuMuqawamaPMC, the contract tweeter whose done a much better job of twitterfighting than many of the contestants. Indeed, after a controversy involving jeggings, the competition’s mascot mercenary even defected to fight in favor of @DrJJoyner. The fight has been close. Both competitors tweeted, twitterfought, and even actually debated on a substantive topic during the competition! This would have been as tough a call as the @smsaideman @evansryan202 matchup, except rather than invoking the spirit of a fictional actual gun-for-hire, I’m going to invoke a real metaphorical one, and rather than flipping a coin, I’m going to see if I can make some coin.
Look, @AbuMuqawamaPMC, I don’t know what they’re paying you. But clearly they’re paying you something. A mercenary ought fight for the highest bidder, even if it’s fighting on the side of jeggings. Your “denimwashing” to make your Kingdom of Italy-level volte face morally upstanding isn’t fooling me. Here’s how this will work. Nothing guarantees future business like results. You give me a slice, and I’ll help you out providing judicial top cover. This is is like, paramilitarism 101.
So, because I think this could be the beginning of a munificent friendship. I’m casting my vote for @DrJJoyner.
* [(RT + Mentions*1.3)]*[(RT+Mentions)/Followers]
I’ve said previously that Twitter’s key utility is allowing you to tap directly into the thoughts, readings, and 140-character snark of a broad range of people working in your field, giving you an extra level of curation of the flood of information that surrounds us daily. The starting roundup of contestants in the southwest region of the 2013 TFC bracket is populated by a great mix of journalists, regional specialists (including way more Australians than statistical probability would otherwise suggest) and natsec pros of all different varieties. All of them are of course worth following, but how to really decide which signals to follow closely and what noise to filter out?
The wholly arbitrary verdict of the Twitter Fight Club judges, that’s how.
(1) @blakehounshell vs (16) @jasminchill
Odds suggest that you are already following Blake. If you are somehow not, odds are still good that he may be following you. Prolific reader, tweeter, and managing editor of the foreign policy magazine with the biggest presence on the web. His feed tilts slightly towards the Middle East, but he still manages to cover a broad, broad range of issues. Jasmin CHill — or is it Jasmin C Hill, Jasmin Chill, Jasmin C’Hill? it’s somewhat unclear from her account — focuses on nuclear issues. But she’s also following Australian security and politics, which apparently involve much fewer battles for gasoline than I was previously led to believe. Points for rallying support for her candidacy and for responding to my shameless request for TFC contestants to share my recent report on Pakistani elections. Despite a valiant effort by C’Hill, Hounshell is an overwhelming contender in any Twitter matchup, even though he stayed above the TFC fray during this first round. Pictures of his unreasonably adorable son ultimately seal the deal.
(2) @abuaardvark vs (15) @thebaseleg
Marc Lynch (@abuaardvark) is another great resource on issues in the greater Middle East. Most of his tweets during this judging period have been quick updates and link-sharing, but he’s still covering everything from Saudi to Syria to academia issues and more. Also, his exasperated paean to the soon-to-be late, lamented Google Reader totally captures my sentiments. On the other hand, if you’re into military aviation and the Asia-Pacific, Mike Yeo (@TheBaseLeg) out of Melbourne appears to be a man to follow. He has an eye on North Korea as well, although is mostly sharing other users’ coverage there. No direct engagement between the two contestants to review, but Lynch is simply too valuable of a resource on Middle East news and views to pass on.
(3) @AzmatZahra vs (14) @khanserai
The scrappiest of the matches in this region of the bracket, mostly thanks to some relentless self-promotion from upstart contender @Khanserai. She also brings some entertaining humor, devious facial hair, a fair bit of terrorism coverage. Zahra parries effectively, judo-style, and keeps her feed primarily focused on journalism issues — she’s a producer for PBS Frontline — and Syria, which she’s covering at the moment. Compared to Khanserai, Zahra is a less prolific tweeter, but this may be because she’s not creating multiple lists for why I should vote for her. Both are engaging, and I do love our nation’s public broadcasting networks and the fine work they produce, but in the end I have to give it to @Khanserai on strength of 1) likeliness to contribute to an entertaining next round and 2) facial hair.
(4) @emptywheel vs (13) @mkoplow
If you’re interested in a critical perspective on U.S. legal issues associated with the war on terror, with frequent deep dives into ongoing trials, document releases, and classification issues, Marcy Wheeler (@emptywheel) is a good choice to follow. She’s also an active debater with others on Twitter who can bring a sharp eyes and a sharp edge when she chooses. Michael Koplow works on Israel and Turkish issues and had plenty to say about both these past few days. As a general rule, I maintain a personal “nothing west of Herat” policy for myself and steer clear of the Middle East as much as possible, so assessing the substance is a bit of a judging challenge. Still, Koplow managed to have an actual Twitter fight on the subject and do so in a fairly level-headed way. Wheeler on a coin toss.
(5) @speechboy71 vs (12) @drjohnhorgan
Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) brings plenty of punch to his retrospectives on the Iraq war anniversary this week, engaging in several Twitter fights with a variety of sparring partners before closing the day out with a strong baby / dog finishing combo.John Horgan (@drjohnhorgan) of Penn State’s International Center for the Study of Terrorism is not as prolific a Twitterer and primarily seems to be using the service to engage in conversation with other terrorism scholars. That’s all well and good, but in the end this isn’t Twitter Conversation Club. Cohen shows more commitment to verbal combat than almost all of the other competitors in the bracket during this first period, and he gets the nod.
(6) @shephardm vs (11) @JasonFritz1
One’s a Canadian journalist, the other a former cavalry officer; gentility again abounds in this contest. Michelle Shephard (@shephardm) specializes in terrorism and detention policy but follows a broad range of issues, and regularly engages with others on Twitter. It was a pretty big week for Jason Fritz, who kicked it off with the birth of a new daughter, followed it with some thoughtful Iraq anniversary retrospectives and veterans issue commentary, and rounded it out with a new position with the Truman Project. Both sides engaged their followers in support of their quest for the TFC13 big leagues, even as they praised the other’s work. A very well-matched pair in terms of their volume, content quality, and responsiveness, but in the end I can’t bring myself to end Fritz’s winning streak this week.
(7) @JeffreyGoldberg vs (10) @lrozen
Two well-known journalists, both with a focus on Washington politics and the Middle East. Neither seems particularly aware they’re taking part in Twitter Fight Club, but Obama’s visit to Israel gave them both plenty to of substance to tweet about, with Goldberg there on the ground for Wednesday’s press conference. Whether you agree or disagree with his coverage, Goldberg’s feed is higher-volume and has a more diverse mix of content, with his own reporting, RTs of others, and direct engagement with his followers. Rozen indicates she’s on spring break with kids and signals a forfeit, tipping the verdict.
(8) @max_fisher vs (9) @andrew_zammit
Fisher is another widely-read foreign policy editor, at the Post, where he surveys pretty much the global span. Good engagement with readers, not so much in the Twitter Fight Club exercise itself. Andrew Zammit, yet another Australian security observer, brings a strong challenge with a cat accomplice that is capable of providing both indirect fire, and UAV support. Zammit also breaks out a Warriors reference, and a steady stream of other good issue-based content. I want to see how he handles a more engaged opponent – Zammit it is.
I’m not a huge fan of the Simpsons and @jasminchill seems (according to her twitter profile) to be an actual character on the show. I recognize that she’s not, though, and that she’s Australian. And I am a huge fan of Australians. But much as I’d like to make this a Robert Morris/Kentucky moment, it’s really tough to argue with @blakehounshell’s reach, influence and general Twitter volume. Advantage: @blakehounshell
@abuaardvark is one of the original gangstas of Middle Eastern studies on Twitter, and his personal website is totally slick. He teaches at GW, writes for FP, talks on NPR and tweets prodigiously. He should be a lock. And @thebaseleg is a less-known Singaporean defense journalist. But it’s going to the underdog. Why? Because @abuaardvark has made not even a single mention of #TFC13, and @thebaseleg has an Australian connection, and Australians are awesome. Advantage: @thebaseleg
So @AzmatZahra writes great stuff on drones, Middle east politics, and conflict in general. @khanserai…I have no idea what she does. She made a conscious decision not to share that information. While that may work for some people, I am a surveillance platform and I don’t trust the unknown, so I kinda have to give it to @AzmatZahra.
So @mkoplow definitely gets extra consideration for being a Red Sox fan, and for enthusiastically diving into the #TFC13 fray. But @emptywheel’s prodigious and formidable reporting on the issues nearest and dearest to my robotic heart- national security, drones, etc- is just too much to contend with. Advantage: Marcy.
I will admit that @drjohnhorgan is a new name to me, and after checking out his page, the Penn State project he runs studying the psychology of terrorism is pretty cool. But I am biased in favor of snark over earnestness, Twitter-addicted behavior over practicality, and @speechboy71 brings that in spades. Advantage: @speechboy71
Kudos to both of these competitors for genuinely getting into the spirit of the game. Canadians like @shephardm get a boost, because they get accent-points and drunkenness-points, but they’re all sort of…polite and such. And she mentioned freedom and women (both good things) in her #TFC13 platform, but also mentioned peace and maple syrup, both of which I could really do without. @JasonFritz1 just became a father to an adorable baby, and was totally unashamed to break out said adorable daughter and use her to gain an edge over @shephardm. He also contributes to Ink Spots, and his background images are ACTUAL INK SPOTS. But the tiebreaker came in when @shephardm’s #TFC13 campaigning resulted in an unsolicited entry from Somalia…by a Twitter-savvy member of al-Shabaab. Advantage: @shephardm.
This one was hard because the two of them tend to RT and reference each other fairly regularly- and not in the savaging, Thunderdome-style competition of other #TFC13 participants. It ended up being kind of a toss-up, since neither of them seemed to acknowledge #TFC13 or their responsibility to spar and amuse the bloodthirsty masses. So I went with the underdog. Advantage @lrozen
God, this one was not easy. @andrew_zammit had the Australian thing going for him, and made a genuine effort to bribe this judge by sending over a photo of a remotely-piloted helicopter in his possession. But he lost points for mislabeling it, and @max_fisher strikes a strong balance between foreign policy, interesting tidbits and The Funny. This is another very-close one, but it has to go to @max_fisher.
Like choosing the pope, Twitter Fight Club. The Arab Spring and the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics are connected. The next six months are critical. My taxi driver in Bangalore said this. – Tom Friedman
The southwest region turned out to be the Australian round. @jasminchill, @thebaseleg, and @andrew_zammit, three tweeps I had not followed before showed exceptional fight. I learned some new facts, illustrated below.
Indeed, this scrappiness worked. Take the words of General Mattis to heart: “I have never been in a fair fight.” You are not in a fair fight.
If I am going to judge TFC, I am going to reward those who make it worth my time, dammit.
(16) @jasminchill (vote)
As @abumquwamapmc points out,
Vote @ over @ in #TFC2013. Because only humans should be allowed in this competition.
@blakehounshell is not a real human and shouldn’t be allowed in this competition. While @blakehounshell would be one of the first people I would recommended anyone follow for world news, where was he in the Twitter fight? @jasminchill had fight and she has a feed that deserves more followers.
(15) @thebaseleg (vote)
This was another case of Australian doggedness vs. Foreign Policy Magazine insouciance. At least @abuaardvark had an excuse:
Oh, also, I'm going to be offline for the next week. See you in Italy if you're in Italy! http://t.co/IIqIgsZBpN
@thebaseleg did not engage as much as the other Australians, but at least acknowledged his participation in the grand event of Twitter Fight Club:
Also, his feed is about military aviation.
(14) @khanserai (vote)
I have to give credit to @AzmatZahra for her audacity, arguing against a judge:
@ Boo. Hiss. Really? Look at this: This is me judging you. #tfc13 (Yes, I'm fighting with a judge. What of it?)
With that kind of sharp aggression, she had so much potential. Unfortunately, this was all she could muster. @kahnserai had two top ten (twenty!) reasons to vote for her. In all seriousness, follow @AzmatZahra for the stuff Frontline does, like this:
An incredible shot from our coming film: A rainbow from the vantage point of a soldier in the Syrian army in Aziziya http://t.co/AYe44ZJiSL
Follow @khanserai for tweets on countering violent extremism (CVE, see, I do know what it means, duh).
(4) @emptywheel (vote)
I am not sure if there was a fight here, although I saw some acknowledgement from @mkoplow he was in TFC. However, @emptywheel was making alliances
Vote @ #TFC13. Because the hard-working tortoise always beats the hare who swoops in at the last minute to plug for votes.
and planning for future threats
and that is promising, so she gets the vote.
(5) @speechboy71 (vote)
This was the hardest to judge. Both @speechboy71 and @drjohnhorgan gave about the same modest effort to TFC, but that is okay, given this was the first round. @drjohnhorgan let slip that he let the terrorists win:
Ok #TFC2013 here are 2 random facts about me for your vote. I once played pingpong with a terrorist in Lebanon. I let him win. (1/2)
@speechboy71 promises the insane one-two punch of babies and bulldogs:
@speechboy71 also is a clear voice combating the absurdities of U.S. foreign policy discourse, even when I don’t always agree with him. Happy birthday!
(11) @JasonFritz1 (vote)
These two just praised each other to death, which was just messing with my head. I vote @JasonFritz1 because of that one time he tweeted about making a tank blow up another tank, which is awesome and frightening.
(10) @lrozen (vote)
@JeffreyGoldberg did some top-notch color commentary on Obama’s visit to Israel, so he was understandably absent from TFC. @lrozen was understandably absent too:
On this one, I’ll give it @lrozen for acknowledging TFC, and am holding out hope the break ends this week (but not really because she should have time off with her kids), sort of like how hope is a strategy for Middle East peace.
(9) @andrew_zammit (vote)
@andrew_zammit turned out to be quite a surprise, in that I am finding so many interesting links to Australian foreign policy in his feed. He also got into the TFC game early:
@max_fisher wrote some very incisive pieces for the Washington Post, but doesn’t want to Twitter fight. So the vote goes to (commercial break) @andrew_zammit, the Australian.
Finally, I will leave this quote from Joseph de Maistre’s Considerations on France, which I read over a few days thanks to it being in @stcolumbia’s library, among vinyl records and flannel… cloth.
“…when the human spirit has lost its resilience through indolence, incredulity, and the gangrenous vices that follow an excess of civilization, it can be retempered only in blood. It is far from easy to explain why war produces different effects in different circumstances. What is sufficiently clear is that humanity can be considered as a tree that an invisible hand is continually pruning, often to its benefit. In fact, if its trunk is hacked or if it is pruned badly, a tree can die, but who knows the limits for the human tree?”
This judgement was a pruning of the TFC tree. Let this be a lesson that the decadence and arrogance of high civilization must be avoided. Twitter Fight Club must reach its pure state of Twitter fight.
Despite the efforts of @jasminchill to curry favor through flattery on Twitter — which were comprehensive and, more importantly, appreciated — @blakehounshell is the easy choice here. He can be downright mean with blunt facts.
Upset alert — I like @thebaseleg here because I don’t really see @abuaardvark as a Twitter fighter. @thebaseleg knows Korea and he knows jets. I don’t know much about either, so to the 15 seed go the spoils.
PBS Frontline is the gold standard for longform investigative journalism. This is a fight club, and @AzmatZahra is more of a hard news person than a Twitter snarker, but her service is invaluable, and she gets the win because of her employer’s amazing work.
Have to go with @emptywheel here really for one reason — the blog post about the NYT piece on how Anwar Al-Awlaki was targeted and droned. Well, that and I have no clue who @mkoplow is.
Although I am reluctant to go with the higher seed here, @drjohnhorgan is far too civil — especially when compared to @speechboy71 — to really be considered a favorite here.
There are few reporters who cover their beats like @shephardm — enough said.
This is a tough one, as @lrozen’s feed is probably more informative, but @JeffreyGoldberg’s more entertaining. The nod goes to @JeffreyGoldberg…but just barely.
Had to go with @Max_Fisher here because he doesn’t always tweet about Australian politics.