The Sweet 16 judges had a devil of a time. Three different judges issued split decisions on a contest this round. In the end, the one seeds took the West – one easily, one by the smallest fraction – and the lower seeds ruled the East. The winners of today’s contests will face off here in the Final Four on Monday!
**1)@texasinafrica: 80%, four of five judges’ votes
15) @lesley_warner: 20%, one of five judges’ votes
The top seed continues to look like a favorite, taking 80% from both the judges and the public and dispatching her worthy opponent, this year’s Cinderella story @lesley_warner.
**1) @BlakeHounshell: 66%, 1.75 of five judges’ votes
11) @JasonFritz1: 34%, 3.25 of five judges’ votes
@stephaniecarvin’s split vote almost gives the contest to @JasonFritz1, but @BlakeHounshell’s edge in the popular vote carries him through.
4) @SlaughterAM: 54%, two of five judges’ votes
**11) @JimmySky: 46%, three of five judges’ votes
This was a close and hotly contested race, but @JimmySky’s edge with the judges is enough to overcome @SlaughterAM’s better showing in the popular vote.
**5) @smsaideman: 42%, three of five judges’ votes
3) @azelin: 58%, two of five judges’ votes
Two judges called it a tie, and one outsourced the vote to her students, that’s how tight this race was. In the end, @azelin has the popular edge, but @stephaniecarvin’s students give it to @smsaideman by a nose.
First off, I would like to thank @caidid and #TFC13 for inviting me to be a judge for the Elite Eight; it is an honor. Some of the final eight I knew of and/or followed coming into this job, others I did not, or did not as much. So, basically, my goal was to reset and judge everybody on what they did today, in this round to attack, defend and engage. This is, after all, Twitter Fight Club; the first rule is, well, you gotta fight to win. Other rules are rather discretionary I’m afraid. Frankly, all participants were, and are, extremely worthy of being here, and all did a great job. It has been a blast, thank you.
(1) @TEXASINAFRICA – Got off to a fast and strong early start, taking advantage of opponent she characterized as “sleeping in”. The posting of the Toto video was a definite low point. got in some good licks like the allegation @Lesley_Warner was killing the snow on Kilimanjaro (as a former climber this hits home). Also apparently likes poutine, one of the most ridiculous dishes I ever loved.
(15) @LESLEY_WARNER – took a bit to get going, but then started firing away with style. And you have to love the Florida Gulf Coast University like underdog awesomeness of a #15 seed battling a #1 seed. Scored for accusing her opponent for the eating of her young and wanting to drone Africa. the offer of a “Dire Wolf” was very tempting, but I already have a furry beast.
This first bracket was hard, and a yeoman’s effort was made by @Lesley_Warner. Both displayed superb content in their areas of specialization, Africa, today, both in and out of #TFC13. Extremely difficult call, but @Lesley_Warner did not deny the allegation that she hated cows, and I am about to enjoy a steak. My vote goes to @TexasInAfrica by a whisker.
(1) @BLAKEHOUNSHELL – Slow to get going, something about alienating his followers or the like, but got rolling mid afternoon and scored with this tweet of the cost of the NK airshow the US put on recently. However, when @dianawueger vouched that @jasonfritz1 could intimidate NK even cheaper, that took a little bite off the credit.
(11) @JASONFRITZ1 – I didn’t know Jason previously, but give the man credit, he came out firing direct shots at FP and listicles. Incredibly strong work. Seriously, listicles are a freaking plague on humanity, and getting into FP is frustratingly annoying. Also, Jason understandably was diverted by duties with his children.
Another tough matchup, frankly Jason may have pulled the upset here had he not been diverted; prior to that he was ahead on points on my scorecard. But, this is a battle and it has to be waged over the longer term. While @BlakeHounshell did not engage directly as much as many others in the Elite Eight, his overall Twitter content for the day pushed him over the top. Advantage Hounshell.
(4) @SLAUGHTERAM – Had the charismatic grace to admit JimmySky’s early blow, and was aided and abetted greatly by this gif posted in her favor by @HayesBrown. Brutal. Also gets some modern dad love for complimenting @JasonFritz1 for duties with his kids (I had dad duties today too).
This was maybe the hardest to grade of all the brackets, was kind of hoping for more broadsides from both. Ms. Slaughter is to be commended for her sophisticated elegance in battle. But a fight is a fight. And the best shot fired in an attempt to slaughter @JimmySky was fired not by a direct combatant, but by @HayesBrown. @JimmySky scored his own early and decisive blow with the fists of have it all fury. For the upset win, @JimmySky
(5) @SMSAIDEMAN – Gets valuable points for self professed plight of being an American in Canuckistan. Also apparently has strong Star Wars skilz. Not to mention the awesome beard. Significant points for the boating picture, which I can unfortunately no longer find.
(3) @AZELIN – Got off to a great start by complimenting my Twitter background picture and professing support of the Arizona Wildcats over the dreaded Big 10.2 OSU Buckeyes. That’s way huge. And hung tough by continuing to wage war from the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
These were the two hardest working men in Twitter Fight Show Business today. Hats off to both. Frankly it was a draw at the end, no way to pick a winner on the merits. Judging is hard I tell ya. But a winner must be picked, and the early compliment of the skyline on my Twitter page and basketball fandom wins the day, barely, for @AZelin.
A huge thank you to @caidid for putting this whole thing together. I first was a part of this last year, and barely got to participate either as a judge or as a Tweeter, so missed out on much of it. This year, having figured out how to unclog the hollow tubes of the interwebs, I’ve completely enjoyed myself, both as a participant and now as a judge. I find that I end up “meeting” at least a few new people through this thing every year, and there are some genuine heavy hitters in the IR/NatSec community wandering around.
Now for the judging.
I made it clear that my 5 keys to Twitter Fight Club as a judge are these:
1. It’s a fight. The moral high ground is where one puts one’s artillery.
2. Pandering is expected. I pointed out some key facts: Texas resident, rescued greyhounds, Iraq vet, English teacher.
3. Twitter can be a wonderfully uplifting intellectual platform. This, however is Twitterfight. So I expect the complete opposite.
4. Engage your opponent. See #1. Now is not the time to remain above the fray.
5. Points for cross-referencing pop culture and your chosen twitter topics.
This was about as tough as I expected, so…tough.
Northwest Final: @TexasInAfrica vs. @Lesley_Warner
This was the toughest one of the bunch, no doubt. First of all, both super sharp in the same field…Africa. Which, as it turns out, is made up of a lot of other countries. Which makes it a continent, which completely explains my frustration in trying to find an African flag. Or any kind of African language course.
Both got off to a decent start in the pandering department:
But @texasinafrica quickly pulled ahead:
I probably do, given where I work. So that put @texasinafrica in the lead early.
But the fight? The fight was…fairly epic. This was by far my favorite exchange:
Oh, absolute bravo all around. Somewhere Jonathan Swift is looking up from his bowl of Chef Boyardee (now with real boys!) and applauding.
Points had to go to both for a @laurenist instigated Toto showdown, because, well, it’s Toto.
But…given the Texas connect, and the effort put into judge pandering, I give this one to @TexasInAfrica. By the narrowest of margins.
Southwest Final: @Blake_Hounsell vs. @JasonFritz1
In short: @JasonFritz1 made it clear that the bar was open if any of us as judges were in his neighborhood. @Blake_Hounsell suggested that people follow us as judges. Well, folks: guess who doesn’t follow this particular judge? @Blake_Hounsell. Probably too busy finding the next great op-ed for Foreign Policy comparing the French intervention in Mali to Flight of the Phoenix to be bothered.
Neither really engaged the other at all in any kind of slapfest, so I’m having to default to the fact that @JasonFritz1 is a fellow veteran. He’s also a cricket fan, which I’ve tried to understand and enjoy, but have found it to be only slightly less entertaining than playing “guess which country Max Boot wants to send troops to now” as a drinking game.
Northeast Final: @SlaughterAM vs. @JimmySky
There seemed to be a general consensus that Mr. Sky was getting his Air Force-y self significantly pwned by Not-So-Sergeant Slaughter.
Although based on their Twitter interactions, that wasn’t readily obvious. Neither indulged much in pandering, and overall their fight was a non-starter. They’re both genuinely nice people on Twitter, but @JimmySky edged my vote slightly with this tweet:
Their “fight” was really a nod to niceness, which is great, normally. Civility is a lost art. But judging this was like refereeing competitive napping. I was hoping for more, I really was. You two stay classy, though.
Southeast Final: @azelin vs. @smsaideman
Apparently I wasn’t following @azelin on Twitter, something I’ve recently remedied, but even with that, this was another slightly disappointing round. Not through lack of an effort by @smsaideman:
That, is an articulate, well-put pander tweet, kids.
And as far as understanding that it’s Twitter Fight Club, and therefore, one must have one’s priorities in order:
And his usual wry humor about living in America’s hat:
At one point @azelin did try to counter:
But overall the exchanges between the two were limited, and not quite what I was hoping for. Not quite the two-way nap referenced earlier, but sub-par. However, the Canuck pulled more than his weight here.
It’s that wonderful time of the year again when twitverse is flooded by inane repartee between twitter fight club contestants and their supporters. Thank you @caidid for organizing #TFC13. As I was following 7 of the 8 before TFC even started, my criteria for judging was simple & openly declared at the beginning of the day:
This was a hotly anticipated match-up. Both are Africa experts, women, snarky & interested in winning. Sadly, both are facial baldies.
It started early with @texasinafrica’s pandering to the judges. @lesley_warne took her time in coming on the stage and even longer before she followed me. But we won’t hold that against her because of the beautiful sparring that ensued.
This perfectly illustrates how the contest transpired between the two:
As much as I wanted to support the underdog in this race (I really really really did) I felt quite neglected by @lesley_warner who did not engage with me, pander or even mention beards. Instead she worked hard on raising her experty-ness & sparring with @texasinafrica. 1 out of 3? Come on Lesley, you gotta listen next time! Despite being from Texas (I did not hold it against her as it was not part of my judging criteria), the pandering, snark, beard acknowledgement & overall tweet flood showed Laura’s commitment to victory.
With a heavy heart I give this round to @texasinafrica.
What’s the first rule of Twitter Fight Club? You must talk about Twitter Fight Club.
What did @blakehounsell do? Tweet maybe 3 times in the whole day about TFC. He pandered to the judges with a #FF but that was about it. His profile pic was too fuzzy to tell if he has facial hair or not & there was no snark. With +56k followers maybe he felt embarrassed to fight for himself? And yet @slaughteram with even more followers (+65k) proved that giving up dignity and gravitas for #TFC13 is worth it.
I am disappointed @blakehounsell
Now @jasonfritz1 is proving to be quite a #TFC13 fighter. I lost to him in Round 2 but don’t hold it against him for the simple reason that it was during Round 2 that Jason discovered his inner meanie and the true meaning of TFC fighting. The gloves have been off ever since and he has become quite the skilled sub-tweeter. The whole day was spent throwing barbs at @blakehounsell’s employer & job. And let’s not forget, he actually follows me.
Despite the fact that his face is follically challenged, I wholeheartedly give this round to @JasonFritz1
At the beginning of the day I had assumed I would end up voting for the underdog in this match-up but @slaughterAM changed my mind (even though she doesn’t follow me). She has +65k followers & yet she still shamelessly played #TFC13. She engaged some of the judges, mocked her opponent, tried to play the sympathy-for-the-aged card and gave up dignity & gravitas- all in all, very classy. But the tweet that did it for me was when she turned @jimmysky’s awesome snark attempt against him.
I am still laughing thinking about the tweet. I’m sorry @JimmySky, much as I enjoy Kid A and Creep stories, your fingers handed this round to the Prof.
Round goes to @slaughterAM
This was the hardest round to judge. What a fight. @azelin started with pandering early on with a #FF. @smsaideman followed with references to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He brought his towel! They moved on to beards. Both showed their “real” furriness- @azelin with his non-henna-enhanced lushness & @smsaideman with his salt-and-pepper experience. @smsaideman attacked @azelin but a careless tweet made me warn them both.
@azelin shamelessly tried to take advantage of the situation and but @smsaideman recovered completely with his dissing of Huntington. You have to love a prof who is willing to call out crap theories. And then there was the hufflepuff residual categories video.
And it continued, on and on and on. They blocked, they parried, they shamelessly self-promoted. They continued to the wee hours of the night. They ended respectfully. And left me completely undecided. Two such spectacular players, how can I possibly choose one over the other?
I select them BOTH. Let the popular vote decide this round.
First, if you have not gone out of your way to thank @caidid for pulling this monumental Twitter Fight Club together – then you’re doing it wrong. By the time you’re reading this – its Friday people, so make sure you give her a shout. @caidid, if I ever make it out to Boston, or you to Kansas City (or Doha in the interim), thanks again I’m buying.
Second, I’m not sure what @caidid is thinking but, for some reason she invited me back to judge again. It’s better to be lucky than good, so I’ll take what I can get. Thanks to the fighters @texasinafrica, @lesley_warner, @blakehounshell, @jasonfritz1, @slaughteram, @jimmysky, @smsaideman, and @azelin for putting up a great effort.
In a better effort for TFC transparency, I took it as a given that the Elite Eight were all extremely knowledgeable and possessed of sufficient intellectual curiosity to be considered innovative in their own right. Therefore, I counted it equal amongst the competitors and discounted them both. Instead, I judged the field on their responsiveness (to me, but mostly towards their followers and competition), their fighting (not necessarily just snark, substance counts), and the quality of their arguments, in order.
Third, judging again has allowed me to bring back my favorite part of Twitter Fight Club: Feats of Strength. Only @juliaaberman really cares for it (in addition to me), or said so, but the fighters were good sports about it. Plus it got me a TFC judge MVP nod:
— Julia Berman (@juliaaberman) March 28, 2013
Enough drivel, now what you really want to know – my judgment:
In my book, having predicted this eventual clash of titans in round one, this was the main event. If the pivot was to the Pacific, someone forgot to tell #TFC13, and more specifically these two fantastic tweeps. As is customary for @texasinafrica in TFC, the condottiero crept forth once more from the shadows, with K-Bar in one hand and MGRS chart in the other, and with good effect.
They equally fought with élan and flair, but love it or hate it, I have to boil this down to the Feats of Strength. The rules were fairly unrestrictive, if I do say so myself, but only Lesley truly fought with substance and that was the better of the two. Shocking as it may be for some, and at risk of my Texan citizenship may be revoked for doing so; my vote is with @lesley_warner who also garnered a perfect score for her efforts.
Both are exceptional Tweeters day-to-day. One has a tremendous following on Twitter. One engaged with the followership throughout the competition to a level that greatly exceeded the other. One merely went about business as rather usual.
My vote for @jasonfritz1 here is not to be considered as a consolation for what I would otherwise call very poor TFC participation by @blakehounshell. Rather, @jasonfritz1 stayed responsive to his followership, fought without response for the majority of the time (again, not just limited to snark, although he was relentless in that), and even provided more than a merely participatory argument.
The sad part is that @blakehounshell will likely when the popular vote, but he underperformed his competition in every category today.
These are both Tweeps that I have immensely enjoyed following since first joining Twitter. In fact, @slaughteram was one of the reasons I joined Twitter (it was a @slaughteram RT of a cross-post from a friend who works for the State). Unfortunately, @slaughteram seemed fairly preoccupied today (and her lack response to my Feats of Strength entreats were akin to this). I thought @jimmysky decisively earned my vote today with his performance in his answer to my Feats of Strength question regarding acceptance of sequestration as the new “peace dividend” (he demurred). @jimmysky could possibly be this TFC’s dark horse champion, you’ve heard it here folks… there’s no way to know our future foe scenarios.
By far the most responsive of the Elite Eight, the participation of these gentlemen in the Feats of Strength was beyond commendable. Where I found a few of the arguments @smsaideman somewhat lacking, the fight (a tempo of relentless interesting analysis, news, and commentary) was exceptional. @smsaideman is truly how one should fight in TFC. I found the arguments of @azelin to be impeccable (if not exhaustive, as even @smsaideman admitted), but perhaps his fighting was a bit genteel for my taste.
Ultimately, this match up was my favorite of the two rounds I was asked to judge in TFC! Unfortunately, both performed so well, their respective and alternative weaknesses and strengths as perfect counterpart to one another. I feel remiss to both in calling this match a draw, but it is clear to me that either will perform exceptionally in the next round – so I pass my points to the popular vote for the decision of the people. Good luck to you both!
1. @texasinafrica vs @lesley_warner
It’s that time of year, when Easter is here, spring is (slowly!) springing and it’s time things to start things afresh and anew….
Except I am not that kind of person. Cinderella story? @lesley_warner, this Ugly Step-Sister deems you the pumpkin in this fight. And it’s two minutes past midnight.
2. @blakehounshell vs @JasonFritz1
Blake is a lynchpin of the IR/IP/NatSec Twitter community. And quite frankly, if you are not reading FP YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. Needless to say, I am a fan. I have found a lot of great people to follow out of his re-tweets and he has a great mix of his own comments, and the views of others.
Blake didn’t pander too much today, which in my view is good. I’d have liked to see a bit more of a witty banter, but the Obama-esque Houndshell cool only let him go so far.
However, there is this:
— Brent Scales (@Boiler40) March 28, 2013
I don’t know Jason very well. I have been following him for sometime but I would be lying to you if I really said I knew what he was all about. But he has the impressive @dianawueger endorsement. And with just under 1700 followers (compared to Blake’s 56K+) he is the true underdog in the fight.
But what I really liked about Jason is that despite making the Elite Eight he was willing to put Twitter Fight Club aside to be with and play with his Dirt Magnets (aka children) after picking them up from school.
@bmaz Sorry, still with the dirt magnets. Guess I’ll pass on closing arguments then.
— Jason Fritz (@JasonFritz1) March 29, 2013
Priorities people. Priorities.
In the end, both of these gentlemen are fathers, solid tweeters and are great to follow. For me this was definitely the hardest match to judge. I am going with .75 to @blakehounshell on the basis that his twitter content is excellent, FP mag/blogs are a huge benefit to international politics/foreign policy discourse and I think he genuinely makes our virtual NatSec world a better place.
However – .25 to the man who chose to play with his kids over twisticuffs. And for dong a good job in the face of being outnumbered.
@SlaughterAM vs @JimmySky
This was possibly one of the most enjoyable twitter match-ups of the tournament. A David and Goliath story, to be sure, but it also produced moments like this:
I teach using several of Anne-Marie’s writings in the class I was assigned. So where you are tempted to make a “Can’t have it all” joke, I’m formulating witty remarks about the disaggregated state and information networks.
But what I love about AMS is that she just seems ridiculously full of passion for what she does. If I was the former Director of Policy Planning for the State Department, I would not be following me. But she follows and interacts and engages and cares and it’s AWESOME.
@JimmySky is a great follow. Chatty, interesting and also the underdog with 2.5K followers to Slaughter’s 65K. He also suffered setbacks when he lost the endorsement of several #tfc13 staples, including @AbuMuqawamaPMC @HayesBrown and @joshuafoust. Harsh, man.
In the end Jimmy put up a good fight and he twisticuffed with honour. There is no shame in his defeat. But in my view, Anne-Marie Slaughter’s enforcement network saw her diffuse power and effectively reach out and
@azelin vs @smsaideman
There is probably no way I can objectively judge this match. Steve Saideman is my adopted family in Ottawa. This week he sponsored a dinner where I, @will_mccants and others ate most of the meat in Ottawa.
I think I met @azelin in DC at a bar once.
So, as you can see – there is no way I am objective in this case. So I left it to the “minions” (aka: my Masters students: @NikeshT1 @simon_fol @CrystalStd @mlydan @ElyseArmstrong_ and more) to vote on who could provide the best video on globalization and its’ impact on social policy.
@azelin sent this:
— Aaron Y. Zelin (@azelin) March 28, 2013
What. The. Crap.
Where as @smsaideman sent this:
— Stephen Saideman (@smsaideman) March 28, 2013
Winner: @smsaideman won the vote by 3 vs 2.