I’m not gonna lie — prior to the start of the #TFC13 finals, I had bones to pick with both finalists. With @texasinafrica, I have not forgotten her quixotic, Santorum-like surge during last year’s final duel with @will_mccants, taking votes from judges that I had counted on. Would I have won otherwise? Probably not, but any international relations scholar will tell you that past reputation has the potential to affect future expectations. Plus, she was supposed to meet me for coffee a month or so ago and, like, totally blew me off so she could continue to attend her conference. It’s like she likes political science or something. Even before this contest began, she called upon her followers to stalk me. That old Klingon proverb about revenge being a dish best served cold seemed apt as I mulled over how to cast my vote.
On the other hand, @smsaideman hasn’t been taking advantage of the grudge. No, instead, I have had to hear over and over and over again via Twitter about my obligations to him regarding Theories of International Politics and Zombies. Indeed, in his blog post about this finals contest, he noted, “Dan has gotten semi-rich off of his Zombie book, which I blurbed and also assigned to my Intro to IR class back when I was at McG.” Let’s throw modesty into the wind here – of course you assigned it, Steve, it’s a f**king awesome book!! Don’t say it like you’re doing me a favor! Plus there was that whole linking-to-a-picture-of-Buzz-Bissinger-in-python-briefs-business on Twitter a few days ago. What Is Seen Cannot Be Unseen, I’m afraid.
The point is, before the finals, both of these political scientists had good and truly cheesed me off. Which, admittedly, doesn’t have much to do with the actual #TFC13 contest. But I thought I’d bring it up to demonstrate no bias going in, and plus I’ve been told it’s good to get stuff like that off of one’s chest. And, hey, you know what, I DO feel better. Thanks, Caitlin!!
As for the actual contest: Laura showed her game early, getting her first tweets in just after the stroke of midnight. By the time I awoke this AM, she was hard at work, tweeting up a storm of judge-complimenting and primo Saideman smackdown. Most important, there was some fascinating stuff about Africa, including this tweet about the media hiring fake Somali pirates for on-camera interviews.
Saideman… not so much. Instead, in a display of nearly Ned Stark-like stolidness, he blogged his entire strategy. Seriously, who does that against a lady that can dispassionately analyze the DRC in one hand and proffer cupcakes in the other? Laura Seay makes Cersei Lannister look like Hodor, for goodness’ sake!
As the day unfolded, Saideman was able to rally, live-tweeting an International Studies Association panel and finally engaging Laura’s relentless attack. But Laura was up to the task and her countersnark and tweeting were extremely informative.
Now I do sympathize with Steve’s plight — I was at ISA during last year’s Twitter Fight Club finals. It’s not easy to be erudite about world politics and still twitterfight… which was why by the end of the day I wasn’t sounding erudite at all at the conference and instead furiously tweeted about McCants being an Al Qaeda clone. It wasn’t enough to win, but I went down fighting, and let’s see Will try to get a codeword clearance now. These are the sacrifices one must be willing to make to become champion. In the Game of Twitter Fight Club, you tweet or you die. And whenever a finalist complains that it’s hard, I must reflect on the late great Jimmy Dugan’s maxim:
All hail the Queen. I must vote for Laura.
@JimmySky: TFC13 Eastern Semi-Finalist
First off, massive thanks to @caidid for being the driving force behind making Twitter Fight Club 2013 happen this year. Without her tireless motivation and chronic insomnia there is no way that any of this would have happened. Incidentally, you should go check out her newest endeavor, drawnward.com, which is a very smart, eclectic approach to IR and NatSec issues, much like Caitlin herself.
I’m also honored to have been asked to participate in judging with the likes of @BlakeHounshell, @DanDrezner and the Patron Saint of Counter-Terrorism and #TFC12 Champion, @Will_McCants. As the Wichita State Shockers of this year’s Twitter Fight Club Final Four, I assure you that I recognize how lucky I was to make it as far as I did.
So, on to the actual competition…
Both competitors came out today swinging, but Laura Seay brought the thunder, not to mention the Marines, straight outta the gate.
PROTIP: If your strategy is to emphasize your “feminine side” & your beard, you may want to revisit your strategy. @smsaideman was further hampered by the fact that he was attending ISA all day today and was forced to try and condense all of that knowledge into 140-character chunks, with varying degrees of success.
Granted, this could all be an effort to lull @smsaideman into a false sense of security so @brettfriedman could call for fire on ISA, but it was a nice gesture nonetheless.
It really was close, but in the end I have to go with @TexasinAfrica for #TFC13 Champion.
@will_mccants: TFC12 Champion
I’ll spare you my agony about choosing between two of my favorite tweeters. Here’s the criteria Qadi McCants used to judge the worthiness of our two final gladiators:
Pander Bear: Last week, Steve (@smsaideman) preemptively pandered by picking me up at the Ottawa airport (even after my flight was delayed an hour) and feeding me a gourmet meal of poutine and pork porridge (believe it or not, there are high-end versions of both). Today, Laura (@texasinafrica) sent me a massive box of Georgetown Cupcakes, which were a big hit with my coworkers and my kids. Steve may have been pandering but I’m convinced he would still have been an excellent host if there were no #TFC. Laura’s pander was pure, sweet sycophancy taken to whole new level. Point to Laura.
Completes Me: You know those times when you come up with the bestest, funniest tweet ever, you send your hilarious tweet out into the universe, and no one responds? Heartbreaking. The agony lingers for hours as you check and recheck your feed. “What went wrong? That hotdog and pigeon joke was GENIUS.” Well, Steve and Laura won’t leave you hanging. If Steve is online, he’s responding, looking for a way to give your sad joke an assist. He’s the Oop to your Alley. And Laura? Laura will give your little quip a “favorite” star. That gold star discretely says, everyone else thought your joke was crap but I got it buddy (or at least I don’t want you to feel like a jackass). For this category, it’s a toss-up.
As Nice in Person as They Are on Twitter: I’ve only met Steve in person and he is the nicest. I hear from @charlie_simpson that Laura is a gem but I have yet to see her sparkles with my own eyes. Point to Steve.
Home State Pride: Steve has mentioned a few times that he’s from Pennsylvania. Laura’s twitter handle lets you know where she’s from every time she tweets. Point to Laura (especially since my Texan father would disown me if I messed with the Lone Star State).
Pop Culture IR: A few of my friends and Steve Walt hate using pop culture to explain IR theory. I love it and Steve feeds me a steady diet of the superhero/Hogwarts/Lanister goodness. I’m sure Laura would do more of this sort of writing if she didn’t care about people dying in Africa. Depressing. Point to Steve.
Difficulty of Pronouncing Their Last Name: Although Laura’s last name is only four letters, it’s almost as hard to pronounce as Zack Beauchamp’s. I’ve heard a friend of hers pronounce it Shay. I’ve heard a guy on the radio say Say. (I asked Laura—it’s SEE.) Steve’s is even tougher. Just look at that thing: Saideman. What do you do with all those vowels? Sayd Man? Side Man? Say De Man? And which syllable do I stress? Penult? Antepenult? Mess. Point to Steve.
Regional Specialty: Steve and Laura are both political scientists, so they tweet about all sorts of nifty power dynamics the world over. I’m so envious of the breadth of their knowledge that I have to constantly remind myself how important it is to know one geographical area really well. Steve knows a lot about some dangerous places but only Laura has taken the time to truly learn how messed up one corner of the world can be. Point to Laura.
Lady Power: I’m PC enough to find Laura’s appeals to lady power persuasive (or perhaps I’m terrified of being called out as a sexist oaf for being insensitive to such things). But Steve has a daughter and as a dad to two little ladies myself, I’d hate for Steve’s daughter to see her dad lose on account of gender alone. If Laura is going to win, it should be because she’s a fantastic tweeter and a gnarly gladiator. Toss-up (because really, a vote for one or the other based on gender is just going to get me in trouble).
Fighting Skillz: Both Steve and Laura have been no-holds-barred throughout the entire tournament. I’ve seen some seriously mean tweets from both of them and, in the context of this competition, I approve. What makes it better is that during normal work hours, both are as polite as can be. This is what you want in your champion folks: someone kind who can turn on the nasty when duty calls. And I know whereof I speak. I barely beat Steve last year and Laura mounted a last minute insurgency in an attempt to steal my title. I am still nursing a grudge against Laura, so….Point to Steve.
Tally: Steve 4, Laura 3. Steve gets my vote but a sincere salute to Laura for a well-fought tournament.
A special note of gratitude to Caitlin for organizing everything again for this year’s superb tournament. You rock.
Both finalists were relentless, creative, informative, dirty in the fight, gracious outside it. Both take their work seriously, but don’t take themselves too seriously. Through six rounds of competition, both have brought great spark to the competition, but in the final reckoning it seems @texasinafrica’s was the Team of Destiny. It was a worthy fight, but @smsaideman said it himself during the Final Four:
In the end, perhaps it was inevitable that @texasinafrica would reign this year. In addition to the cupcakes @will_mccants showed on his ballot, she managed to get a dozen to @dandrezner too. At ISA. With Stars of David on them.
And after all, this is the woman who received two judges’ votes in the 2012 Finalwhich she wasn’t even in.
Congratulations, @texasinafrica, on your well-deserved victory!
The results for the bracket pool are in as well, and the winner – beating out his next closest opponent by one point! – is @MarkfromArk! @MarkfromArk, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a mailing address to which we can send your prize. Thanks for taking part, all!
Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, they have fought their way here to the castle beyond the Goblin Cit–wait no, different epic quest. Let’s try that again:
Through twitterfights untold and snarkings unnumbered, they have fought their way here to the championship round of TwitterFightClub. Whose will will be strongest, and whose kingdom most great?
Our two finalists are prolific, erudite, and constantly engaged, but more than anything else, these two who have outlasted all the competition this year have proven to be the most relentless contestants, hitting from all angles, never letting up, peppering opponents with shots, proxies, photoshoppings, and devastating attacks, leaving them nowhere to run, popping up at every turn.
Our finalists will be judged today by a panel of four judges: two men who know what it is to be in their shoes, last year’s finalists @dandrezner and champion @will_mccants; and the foes they have most recently vanquished, TFC 2013 semi-finalists @JimmySky and @blakehounshell (for isn’t it one mark of a great twitterfighter that he/she can retain the respect of his/her opponents, even while beating them?)
These four will decide 50% of our finalists’ fates. You will decide the rest:
Polls close at midnight EDT. After that, you have no power over this competition.
Today’s matchups were both lopsided in activity. @texasinafrica continued the full-court-press strategy she has employed to great success throughout the tournament, while her opponent @blakehounshell engaged only lightly.
On the other side, @smsaideman kept up a near relentless dance, while @JimmySky was occupied during much of the day:
He made a late play for the judges’ favor, but was it enough? Here’s how the races broke down.
**@texasinafrica: 84%, three of four judges’ votes
@blakehounshell: 16%, one of four judges’ votes
With three of four judges and her most-dominant-yet showing in the public voting, the favorite moves on to Wednesday’s final.
@JimmySky: 37%, two of four judges’ votes **@smsaideman: 63%, two of four judges’ votes
@JimmySky’s late surge was enough to split the judges, but @smsaideman takes the day with a strong edge in the voting.
Tune in tomorrow for the epic final battle of TFC13! And now to the judges’ ballots.
Thanks to @caidid for taking the lead on this and pulling it all together. When I was invited to judge, I thought I was the subject of an April Fools’ Day prank. But to my chagrin, it was a genuine request. Lucky you, competitors. Like judges of the past, I decided to vote by relying almost entirely on pandering, responsiveness, and snark. There may have been a magic 8-ball involved.
We already know these four have the smarts, but who had tenacity to fight to the end TODAY?
@texasinafrica vs. @blakehounshell
@texasinafrica has been a force to be reckoned with since day one, and today was no different. She came out of gate pandering, and heavily so, with #FollowMonday’s, and submitting a gracious request to the judges:
She brought the pain. She was relentless. Most importantly, she said she would paint my bedroom. While I’m aware that’s not likely to happen, she does possess mad painting and decorating skills, seen here:
I’ve been following @blakehounsell for some time, and he is consistent in his ability to keep the tweets coming, like an Olive Garden waitress with breadsticks. While he provided continuous content and actively engaged with others in the twittersphere, he seemed largely absent from the fight itself. Other than delving out a handful of retaliatory punches when aroused, it was pretty quiet.
The clear winner today was @texasinafrica
@JimmySky vs. @smsaideman
I’ve been a long time follower and fan of @JimmySky. NOTE: His kid was declared persona non grata at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Please take a moment and check out the full story in his twitter feed. Point for @JimmySky. His priorities were with the family later in the day, so his engagement with TFC was limited-which is both understood and admirable. Come nightfall, he made a gallant attempt to make up for valuable lost fighting time, and succeeded.
Bonus: He was the only contestant to note my preferability of cider to bourbon, albeit disapprovingly.
Inexcusable, but noted. RT @guinpherson: For bribing purposes, I prefer hard cider to bourbon. I know, I know. #TFC13
Overall, he followed through with the zingers and excelled in the responsiveness category.
Both performed well, but today, I have to give the win to @smsaideman.
After my inglorious defeat in the Sweet 16, I’m back to render judgment upon those who remain. The good book says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Well, been there, done that, and so this morning I set about putting on my Judgy McJudgerson impression and having at it.
That said, OH MY GOD THIS IS DIFFICULT. I was a judge last year, and I have to say that it was nowhere near as hard as making picks in the Final Four is turning out to be. So, I’m just going to break out the trust d20 and hope for the — wait, @caidid is telling me I can’t just trust fate on this one. Damn.
1. @texasinafrica vs. 1. @blakehounshell
A clash of the titans, the pugilistic, no-holds-barred slugfest we’ve all seen marching inexorably up the bracket. And it turned out to be…less than competitive.
On the one hand, I greatly enjoy @blakehounshell’s normal body of work, as day in and day out he has one of the best foreign policy Twitter feeds out there, as evidenced by his presence among the Final Four. And the guy was kind enough to edit my ForeignPolicy.com piece on the crazy that is Jim DeMint into something that was mostly readable. Plus, the use of his adorable son as a prop isn’t ever discouraged.
On that same hand, there’s the fact that @texasinafrica was the one that knocked me out of the running in the first place, with her amazingly well-timed Photoshops and all. Which left me feeling like this when @caidid first asked me to judge this round:
But while @blakehounshell is tough, @texasinafrica has the moves necessary to run up the score against him. She was everywhere today — again. It’s no secret that this is why she was the overall no. 1 seed, and it shone through yet again today. Not only was she being her normal overly informative self, tweeting news and very strong opinions about Africa, but she took every chance she could get to remind the audience to vote for her over @blakehounshell and pester him for his beliefs. She went in deep, too. Whoever she has running oppo for her deserves a place at the table in 2016.
And when it comes to pandering, man did @texasinafrica take the cake. I’m not saying her promise of aFounding Farmers gift card totally swung me, but it certainly didn’t hurt. And @blakehounshell’s less that convincing plea towards the end, along with his refusal to acknowledge the request for some sweet, sweet Foreign Policy funding for the TFC13 wrap-up happy hour, wasn’t super impressive.
So in the end, I’m going to have to give this one to @texasinafrica, to help send her to the Championship. Here’s hoping @blakehounshell ever solicits words from me ever again.
5. @smsaideman vs. 11. @JimmySky
This one was much, much more difficult than the seeding would have you believe. Both of these two gave it their all, so I’m just going to start writing in the hopes that by the time I’ve finished I’ve picked a winner and I’ve stopped feeling like this:
As a fan of Michigan State basketball and the Big Ten, I can totally appreciate the beauty that is grinding down an opponent with suffocating defense. And that’s precisely what @smsaideman did today, ensuring that nothing got by him, that no opportunity to pander wasn’t grabbed, and no second chance for points wasn’t taken. His near endless supply of memes was definitely eye-catching and hilarious.
His flooding the zone only drew more attention to @JimmySky’s distinct lack of tweeting throughout most of the day. There were no attempts at TKOs like we saw during his fight with @SlaughterAM. What cuts @JimmySky did manage to get were definitely razor-sharp, though, which added to his points.
What really recovered @JimmySky, though, was his — as always — amazing stories about his kids, Kid A and Creep. Those definitely had to draw him plenty of votes from the masses, and I love hearing about them. In fact, one of my goals in life is to meet those kids before they get too old to be precocious.
And @JimmySky’s pandering was definitely more targeted, pulling out the comic book lore and all that jazz, which I love. But @smsaideman was no slouch either, going the flattery route, which is never unappreciated.
In the end, though, I’m going to surprise myself and say that this isn’t TwitterKidsClub. it’s Twitter Fight Club. And throughout the day, @smsaideman was the tougher fighter, earning him my vote. At least @JimmySky will learn from this, and invite me to Founding Farmers next time…
Opening homage aping semi-obscure historical political document]
[Self-congratulatory remarks couched as praise for contest]
[Self-indulgent, slightly-too-long flight of prose]
And now to the results [note to self, don’t forget to fill in the top].
@JimmySky vs. @smsaideman @texasinafrica vs. @blakehounshell
In each of these two contests, the following conditions applied:
1) Each pitted one of my core follows (column A) against someone I hadn’t been following before (column B).
2) Each pitted someone who already followed me (A) against someone who didn’t follow me until today (B).
3) Each pitted a non-panderer (A) against a panderer (B). I am not so much a fan of pandering.
4) Each pitted someone who had previously been notably nice to me (A) against someone I barely knew prior to today (B).
But let’s see how it plays out.
@JimmySky and @smsaideman put on an entertaining battle, no doubt. @JimmySky led with a strong slate of tweets about his kids, but it was OK, because a) he always does that and b) the stories are always funny. @smsaideman countered with some funny nerd memes, plus he carried over some previous goodwill due to @will_mccants’ recent praise of his hospitality. @smsaideman tried pandering. As I mentioned, I don’t care for pandering, but if you’re going to do it, GO LARGE. Complimenting the lustre of my beard is not going large; plugging my research paper from last week would have at least shown some attention to detail. Finally, @JimmySky is a cool twitter handle, whereas I can’t figure out how to pronounce @smsaideman. For all these reasons, I have to give the edge to @JimmySky, in addition to his falling in Column A.
Over in the @blakehounshell vs. @texasinafrica match, the former started out with a commanding position in Column A, enhanced by the fact that his feed is not dissimilar to mine, and oh, did I mention, he’s kind of my boss over at Foreign Policy? @texasinafrica put on an impressive display of opposition research that had some impact, but in the process inadvertently alerted me to the fact Blake is from Pittsburgh, where I lived for more than a decade and which I remember fondly, so, you know, unintended consequences. On the pandering front, @texasinafrica did GO LARGE, offering to send “anything you want” via parcel post, but here’s the thing: I really didn’t believe that she was serious about that, and by the time I opened my parcel, it would be too late because I would already have cast my vote. Well fought, but @blakehounshell takes it.
I do not follow any of the four contestants; I find the volume too heavy for my own timeline, which I use to aggregate information in lieu of cable news & Google Reader. The content of all four contestants, however, is stellar, and is a permanent fixture of at least one of my many twitter lists. It also helps that none of these four say exceptionally asinine things about drones, nor do any of them think is Africa is a country, which is a mark in the plus column regardless of the winner(s). I looked at all four competitors’ tweets from 1 MAR to today, and considered both feeds in terms of the criteria frequently cited in the Twitter Fight Club posts.
@smsaideman — Stephen, being an alumni of The Building and a contemporary of at least four of my former skippers, would ordinarily be my preferred choice seeing as he is also my go-to source on encapsulating civil-military relations, which he predicates on experience — a rare commodity in this to- swamp.
@JimmySky — a diamond in rough, @jimmysky is perhaps the only personality on Twitter sans @maxwalsh92 and @jasonfritz1 who can match my encyclopedic knowledge of the litany of uniform patterns simultaneously in use by the US military present-day (14 by last count). He also imparts priceless Star Wars trivia to his adorable kids which, as a nerd, is to be commended.
@texasinafrica — Laura had the common decency to offer me rum unsoiled by the hands of Dominicans, an inferior and decidedly primitive island people relegated by the clearly superior Puerto Rican super-race to sharing a hunk of hardened lava with the Haitians. Ordinarily, this alone would secure a win. But she also studies, teaches and visits Africa — which, curiously enough, is not a country but a rather large continent located to the east of Jalalabad.
@blakehounshell — Blake knows we’re tired of reading about drones but comes up with increasingly creative ruses to get us to click, which is commendable for its ruthlessness.
Logic & Reasoning:
@smsaideman — Stephen is methodical, sane and not prone to giving credence to nonsense. He knows NATO and doesn’t subscribe to ridiculous conspiracy theories involving our dilapidated CIA, drones, the Department of Homeland Security or all three.
@JimmySky — He also is methodical and sane and has instilled in his children the (rightful!) fear of Death Stars, which are superior to drones in virtually every respect (they’re also energy efficient).
@texasinafrica — Laura knows where Mali is which, living here amongst the Georgetown students, is a Herculean feat indeed.
@blakehounshell — Blake has the dubious honor of not only presiding over a Foreign Policy web presence replete with listicle after infuriating listicle, but an equally infuriating login screen that prevents me from enjoying things I want to read, which usually consists of @joshrogin’s incredible scoops and @azelin and @tweetsintheME taking men and women twice (meh, thrice) their age to task.
Responsiveness to followers:
In the interest of actual objectivity, I am unable to gauge responsiveness properly, seeing as all four finalists are included in one or more of my Twitter lists but I don’t actually follow them. Fair is fair, unless its permissible to cheat (which is often) — but we’re not doing that here.
Humor, snark and facility with quips (I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 10 here on out)
@smsaideman — 9 out of 10.
@JimmySky — 7 out of 10.
@texasinafrica – 5 out of 10
@blakehounshell – 7 out of 10
Charisma & overall awesomeness:
@smsaideman — 9 out of 10.
@JimmySky — 7 out of 10.
@texasinafrica – 5 out of 10
@blakehounshell – 7 out of 10
Overall, I vote for @jimmysky and @texasinafrica. It was tough — but fair.
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…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:
.@ElSnarkistani I lived in tx for 6 years (guns up), married English major/lit agent/aspiring novelist 2/2
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.
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:
So glad @richganske is a #TFC13 judge again – he might be MVP of judging w/ his feats of strength.
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:
@daveedgr I voted @jasonfritz1. Why? Despite being FP subscriber, I get annoying subscription pop up every time I check website.
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.
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.
Can @lesley_warner continue her Cinderella story to make the Elite Eight as a 15 seed? Can our remaining three 1 seeds stay in the competition? Let’s see how the Sweet 16 shook out!
NW1) @texasinafrica: 58%, four of five judges
NW5) @hayesbrown: 42%, one of five judges
Both competitors gave it their all, but @hayesbrown could not overcome the TFC juggernaut that is @texasinafrica, who took four of five judges and the popular vote.
NW11) @InkSptsGulliver: 58%, zero of five judges NW15) @lesley_warner: 42%, five of five judges
The judges all go for @lesley_warner, giving her yet another upset, keeping the Cinderella story alive, and setting up the all-woman, all-Africa Northwest region final for which so many have been clamoring.
SW1) @blakehounshell: 72%, four of five judges
SW5) @speechboy71: 28%, one of five judges
The other western 1 seed gets an easy victory in this quiet match with wins in both the popular and the judges’ vote.
SW11) @JasonFritz1: 53%, five of five judges
SW10) @lrozen: 47%, zero of five judges
The second judges’ sweep in the west favors @JasonFritz1 over @lrozen, who has stayed uninvolved in the competition.
NE1) @intelwire: 46%, two of five judges NE4) @SlaughterAM: 54%, three of five judges
In one of the day’s closer matches, @SlaughterAM’s slight edge in both voting categories puts her in the Elite Eight
NE11) @JimmySky: 38%, five of five judges
NE2) @attackerman: 62%, zero of five judges
@attackerman’s larger following gives him the popular vote, but @JimmySky’s more active participation in the competition impresses the judges.
SE9) @drjjoyner: 40%, 1.5 of five judges SE5) @smsaideman: 60%, 3.5 of five judges
In one of two eastern contests so tough to call that a judge had to split his vote, @smsaideman edges out @drjjoyner to return to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row.
SE3) @azelin: 48%, 3.5 of five judges
SE2) @joshuafoust: 52%, 1.5 of five judges
@joshuafoust’s travel schedule ended up hurting him with the judges, and it’s their vote that puts @azelin through to the next round.
The Elite Eight
In the Elite Eight, there is one panel of five judges looking at all four contests. The panel’s judgment will count for 50% of the vote, with each judge representing 10% of the overall total. The other 50% is based on the popular vote via the public polls below, so make sure to cast your votes! Judges and voters alike are encouraged to look at metrics such as: knowledge base; quality of argumentation; innovative thinking; humor, snark, facility with quips, and charisma; and responsiveness to followers. The judging panel for today is as follows:
Your vote can be the difference in a race, so make sure to vote for your favorites!
And now to the Sweet 16 judges’ ballots!
First, a big thanks to @caidid for inviting me to judge this round despite being totally dissed as a possible contestant. You gave my @starbucks Internet hobo-ness meaning today. Not that I would want to join a fight club that would have me as a contestant. But when you have no other life except job hunting…
But I digress. On to the judging:
(1) @texasinafrica vs (5) @hayesbrown
Both @texasinafrica and @hayesbrown came out swinging early this morning with @texasinafrica landing the most punishing blows despite her blatant attempt at coffee bribery of the judge. She had my vote early on with the “@hayesbrown stands with dictators” tweet:
(Ya gotta love babies in bow ties). Both showed a masterful command of the subject matter (twitterfighting). What swayed my vote, however, was a desire to see @texasinafrica challenge @lesley_warner in an all Africa shootout.
(11) @inkspotsgulliver vs (15) @lesley_warner
Every year during March Madness an underdog emerges from the pack to take down a favorite and make it to the final four. TwitterFightClub is no different. This year’s underdog, so far seems to be @lesley_warner. While not a follower until this competition, I have been very impressed with the content of her tweets and her expert knowledge of her African subject matter. She uses big academic words like “methodology” and “crazypants.” Plus the sheer volume of her tweets was impressive.
@inkspotsgulliver seemed to already be looking forward to his next match. He seemed to avoid directly challenging @lesley_warner and there was a noticeable absence of trash talking. But with 3,271 followers to @lesley_warner’s 1,086, he will be hard to beat in the popular vote. But I really want to see an estrogen-stoked African academic matchup in the next round so the winner is:
(1) @blakehounshell vs (5) @speechboy71
Another potentially outstanding, twitter trash-talking match-up between these two TwitterFightClub veterans failed to materialize. What happened guys? Did I miss all the good tweets while out doing my “Honey-do’s?” But then upon review of the timeline I saw that @speechboy71 didn’t even show up. No tweets for 8 hours, other than a few “vote for me” tweets. C’mon, you didn’t take a lunch break? You don’t own an i-Phone?
@blakehoushell wasn’t much better. He tweeted at about the rate of one tweet per hour. I guess he was too busy today rejecting all of my Foreign Policy submissions because I ask for money, but with 56, 000 followers, how can @speechboy71 win?
I’ll TELL you how. By sweeping the judges votes, that’s how. Even though @speechboy71’s lib-tard political tweets are mostly diametrically opposed to my own conservative views, his National Security tweets are pretty much right on. I really enjoy his feed (he keeps me honest to my core principles.) His body of work is informative and entertaining, even if you don’t agree with him. And, as he says in this tweet:
What is it about these contestants with 21,000 + followers who don’t feel the need to do at least one shout-out tweet to TwitterFightClub? I’ve been a long-time follower of @lrozen, but unlike @amslaughter, she hasn’t even acknowledged today’s fight.
@jaosnfritz1, on the other hand, has at least made the effort by engaging some of the other contestants. So with nothing more to really go on, other than this tweet
Pesach—festival of freedom. Freedom from slavery and fear—freedom from bread, noodles, beer, and, depending on your minchag, a variety of assorted grains and starches as well. For me, Pesach yuntuf also meant a self-imposed freedom from having to tweet anything, and sweet Moses was it ever awesome. Gonna get a little confessional here, but the pressure to tweet something interesting or insightful is just so enormous and such an omnipresent and deeply ingrained aspect of my life and self-image at this point, that it’s hard to conceive of even the existence of a frame of mind in which said pressure just up and ceases to exist. What a joy to discover how artificial and disposable this mentality actually is. “’Good night!’ says guy on Segway to homeless man on I St.,” I wanted to tweet while witnessing this exact scene after work today — but I didn’t, and it was liberating. “Hang onto your ego,” the Beach Boys may have cautioned. Sometimes, it’s better just to let that sucker go.
This was the philosophy that @lrozen apparently brought to Twitter Fight Club today. Yeah I get it—you’re covering the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. Bully for you. I’m under strict orders not to consider non-Twitter-related factors in my decision-making process, and the Iran nuclear crisis and any professional obligations thereunto are certainly not Twitter-related. She chose Almaty over TFC. Only defensible if you don’t care whether you make it to the Elite 8 or not.
But even if she had cared, @JasonFritz1 put in a very strong day. I direct you to this masterpiece, but it’s this one that really won it for me:
Should be an interesting finish to this Gelfand/Carlsen match. Gelfand w/ weak pawns, Carlsen down a bishop. http://t.co/ZRkpkivjDT
This guy spends work hours watching high-level chess matches unfold over the internet. Not even TFC can contain his appetite for the balletic treacheries of simulated war. Rock and fuckin’ roll.
@TexasInAfrica vs. @HayesBrown
For me, this matchup calls to mind a classic exchange from the end of a classic “Simpsons” episode, reproduced here thanks to the tzadikim over at The Simpsons Archive:
Ron [Ed. Note: Howard]: [emotionally] And it grows, to a powerful, emotional climax when the father has to choose which one of his children will live … and which one … will die.
Executive: Pass. [Ron lets out a sigh] What else you got?
Ron: Well, well, there is this one thing. It’s about a killer robot driving instructor that travels back in time for some reason.
Executive: I’m listening.
Ron: Okay, okay, well, you see … this robot [Ed. Note: driving instructor?], he’s got a heartbreaking decision to make about whether his best friend lives … or dies.
Ron: His best friend’s a talking pie!
Executive: Sold! Howard, you’ve done it again! [he hands Ron two large bags of money; Ron holds them up and smiles, as the closing line from the "Happy Days" theme plays]
I have met both @TexasinAfrica and @HayesBrown. Neither of them is a talking pie—let’s put that ugly rumor to rest. But they are two of my favorite tweeters—not quite up to like, Jose Canseco of Joyce Carol Oates-level God status, but close. Consider this paragraph my “there’s really no way to choose between them without badly fucking up”-type caveat.
So here goes. Prof. InAfrica’s strategy was mostly built around exploiting a gobstopping own-goal from earlier in the day: namely, Hayes’s boasting of his once having stood behind some sort of marble or possibly fake-marble dais adorned with the U.N. logo. Many a tyrant has struck an identical pose, albeit with a slightly different color wall as a backdrop (is that the ECOSOC chamber, Hayes?). No matter. Hayes has a wide smile in the photo, as he huffs in deep breaths of pure UN Hell sulfur. Little did he realize he was walking into a series of TFC burns that could be felt even within the thick, vaguely crenellated walls of the Watergate.
Hayes’ retort was a daring gambit: one of those awesomely bad Photoshop jobs so brazen and self-conscious in its awfulness that you just have to respect it. I certainly did. In the end, Hayes only gave ever so slightly less than he got. A valiant effort, but I’m handing my vote to @tTxasinAfrica, who capped the day with a persuasive and full-borne defense of the UN’s new intervention force in the DRC—a rather controversial view, in some circles.
@InkSptsGulliver vs. @Lesley_Warner
@InkSptsGulliver had the tweet of the day.
Krugman's closing line re: Polish govt is an insulting, idiotic joke based on fake "history." http://t.co/sz8Dl9lrFU
Too bad this isn’t Write One Great Tweet and then Slag the Great City of Cincinnati Club, or Gulliver would have won this running away. Instead, InkSpts has revealed himself to be someone who’s never destroyed multiple Skyline cheese coneys, capped with diabetic quantities of black cherry chocolate chip ice cream from Greaters—or worse, he’s done this without savoring or even appreciating the experience. For shame.
@Lesley_Warner just tweeted up a storm today. She is an exhausting follow, and I say that as someone who prides himself in his ability to exhaust his followers. Look at that feed—there’s stuff about CAR and South Sudan and DRC, snippets of analysis, stuff that’s like, useful. And though snark is pretty rare—some would say admirably rare—on her feed, she proved more than capable of going into full metal TFC mode the other day against Stephanie Carvin. Far as I’m concerned, she is the Dunk City of this contest.
@blakehounshell vs. @speechboy1
Wait, what? These guys are in TFC? If you say so. Didn’t really see much from either of these folks today. But at least Hounshell didn’t tweet at his kid, as if his weeks-old infant is even capable of operating a computer, opening a Twitter account, knowing what Twitter is, writing in English or for that matter any other language, eating solid food etc. Babies can’t do any of those things. You’re fooling no one.
Also, congratulations! He is adorable.
First, I want to thank @caidid for so much work into running TFC. It’s a fun time, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without someone working herself to the point where appointing me as judge for a second time seemed like a good idea.
@texasinafrica v. @hayesbrown
Tough decision. One focuses on Africa, which I have been reliably informed by AFRICOM is a poor and violent place. The other focuses on the UN, which appears a poor and, much to @texasinafrica’s apparent chagrin, nonviolent place. Despite this nonthreatening background, @hayesbrown put up a valiant fight against the twitterfighting juggernaut that is @texasinafrica (and, like most people, came away the better for it). This match was tight until @HayesBrown to make common cause with his foe. Sorry, Hayes, the LOTFC (Laws of Twitter Fight Club, as helpfully abbreviated by @JimmySky*), clearly indicate that when your opponent stakes out a position on an issue, you must take the other side or outinform them.** I’m afraid in this case, seeing as how the issue was deep in the heart of Africa, your only option would have been to side with M23. Opportunity missed, match awarded to @texasinafrica.
Oh, and also because Texas.
* the pedant in me feels compelled to point out that, though LOTFC is correct DoD usage, Europeans and NGOs refer to it as ITFCL
@InkSptsGulliver v. @lesley_warner
These are both great feeds and you should follow them both. @InkSptsGulliver, the savvy veteran of many a twitterfight, came out with his usual bag of tricks, but the newcomer parried them well. She then went on a tear, talking up CAR, South Sudan, and other African topics with aplomb. @InkSptsGulliver, meanwhile, contented himself with gnawing on an article declaring the era of landpower over. Now, in general, I find chewing over poorly-written or poorly-considered articles to be uninformative, if sometimes entertaining. @InkSptsGulliver’s “genius,” however, is an ability to take terrible articles and actually produce new information and something worth consideration while savaging them (and due respect today to his counterparties @wjrue, @forbesmm, and @JasonFritz1).
Still, by volume of tweets and variety of topics, I have to give this round to ongoing twinsurgent @lesley_warner. I will doubtless come to regret this next week when @InkSptsGulliver gets another chance to wreak physical violence upon me.
@blakehounshell v. @speechboy71
And now we reach the “new father” portion of the bracket (ably supplemented, of course, by @JasonFritz1). As much as it hurts to vote against either of the cute babies, I have to go by a simple rule: if you’re looking forward to twitterfighting, you actually have to twitterfight. One retweet after 10 AM doesn’t get the job done. Round to @blakehounshell.
@JasonFritz1 v. @lrozen
Like a good wine, @lrozen’s feed has a strong informative substance, with just enough opinion to give it a crisp bite (yes, I like informative wines, deal with it). @JasonFritz1, on the other hand, ranges over many topics with many different people, taking sometimes surprising, but always thoughtful, positions. To give you an idea, let’s look at this morning where, in the course of half an hour, he went from tweeting about Peeps to writing On Twitter War. @lrozen had nothing on that today, so match to @JasonFritz1.
This first matchup was the toughest one for me. @texasinafrica covers a country – Africa – that is both relevant and underserved these days, while @hayesbrown’s feed is always entertaining (he’s very deserving of this year’s 5 seed, after almost knocking off #tfc12 runner-up @dandrezner in a 16 vs 1 first round matchup last year). These two were also the only participants to acknowledge the competition in tweets directed at me, an all-powerful Judge In This Round Of The Competition! Unfortunately, as they’re pitted against each other (rather than any of the six ingrates below), that’s kind of a wash here. So, it comes down to choosing between the young, idealistic professional, or the Morehouse professor who has an informative twitter feed, but who voted to send me packing in the Final Four of last years’s Twitter Fight Club, after I beat her (with a little help from the man they call Jayne) in the Elite Eight. Hmmmmmmmm. That’s a tough one, but frankly, while @hayesbrown made a serious improvement from a 16 seed and a (close) first-round exit in 2012, and while I’m expecting even better things from him next year, @texasinafrica deserves to advance here. Also frankly, if I still lived in Atlanta, I’d cash in her promised bribe of babysitting in return for this vote (sadly, as it stands I have to cast it with no promise of reward). All the same, @texasinafrica is my winner.
One quarter of this quadrant is made up of Ink Spotters. I don’t know what they did to deserve this, but that just happened. This is also one of two remarkable match-ups between competitors who were seeded 10th or lower, which is part of why Twitter Fight Club is so great – newcomers and variable-volume tweeters alike can knock off their better-known, more prolific opponents simply by putting out quality content (and offering quality bribes) on the day of the competition. That having been said, let’s get back to it! Let me see…doctrine and nomenclature, or Africa news and analysis? Though I wasn’t familiar with @lesley_warner prior to this competition, she impressed me right off the bat with her Swift display of knowledge and unwillingness to back down in the face of promised (though ambiguous) “slaughter.” She also focuses on an area that, as I said in Round 1, is sadly underserved and in desperate need of smart attention, while Gulliver pontificates on a subject I can already learn about from a cartoon — a clear point in Lesley’s favor. Gulliver brought a pretty good game to the Twitterwebs today overall, but shot himself in the foot (from this humble judge’s perspective) when he loudly announced his ignorance of Air Force Special Operations Weathermen’s long existence. The Air Force SOF world already gets too little love, so this was too much to take (even if @warfarecenter’s reply that a Suunto watch could do about the same thing as a SOWT was, sadly, pretty spot on). Thus, the vote (and a follow!) goes to @lesley_warner.
In my late teens and early 20s, I used to watch WCW and the then-WWF. Yes, it was a soap opera (still is), and yes it’s hokey but that’s neither here nor there; I bring it up only because, in the wrasslin’ business, this matchup is what would be called a “squash match.” @BlakeHounshell is a force on Twitter, with a feed that, while primarily retweets, is chock-full of information. Given his position, his followership, and how prolific Blake is, it would have taken a monster effort by @speechboy71 just to make this a competition. Unfortunately, he wasn’t up to that task, offering a coupleweak pleas for votes before going silent, probably the victim of a quick choke slam or tombstone pile driver. Winner: @blakehounshell.
This matchup featured the second of the two Ink Spotters in this quadrant of the Sweet 16, again in a competition between two low seeds who underdogged their way (I think I might use that new term regularly) into the third round of this battle royale of tweepers. Everybody knows that Ink Spots posts can get a little long-winded (to say the least), so Twitter can be a great place to hear from folks like @JasonFritz1 in more manageable doses. After all, Twitter is nothing if not a medium that requires brevity–oh. I actually didn’t know stringing together that many 140-character posts into what is basically a single (really, really long) thought was possible. @lrozen, on the other hand, took the opposite tack: she tweeted almost none today, and mentioned #tfc13 precisely zero times. Bad Laura! @JasonFritz1 gets the win here.
I guess some of the competitors in my bracket didn’t understand my directive for them to submit their own ballots—thus saving me the work of writing out my judgements and allowing me to proceed with an additional, objective, metric. Approximately half of them did send in their own ballots for their TFC matchup, but I will not reveal which ones since the competitors graciously submitted them as though they were written by me. I’ve also edited the submitted ballots as is my prerogative as judge. Deal with it. Please consider any fawning that is present in any ballot to be the work of the competitor and not the judge.
NW1 @texasinafrica vs. NW5 @hayesbrown
My metrics for this matchup were simple: level of snark, devastation of blows, and information provided. In the first category, @HayesBrown managed to edge past @texasinafrica’s well-honed Southern reserve, taking on items outside of his wheelhouse, showing a much more eclectic national security feed. That wheelhouse, though, got him in trouble with the second category.
It’s hard to contest that @texasinafrica’s hitting @HayesBrown on his ties to dictators at the UN was both crushing and hilarious. The poorly done Photoshopping of @texasinafrica as a Congolese warlord just couldn’t compare.
In the end, though, what won it out for me was the level of informative tweets he put out. By acting as more of a one-stop-shop that @texasinafrica’s still impressive Africa-based feed, @HayesBrown won out in the end, advancing to the next round
P.S. It’s a damn good thing @HayesBrown changed his mind about the safety of eating mosquito-laden ice cream since last year. That would’ve sunk him.
NW11 @inksptsgulliver vs. NW15 @lesley_warner
It took awhile for @lesley_warner to realize that the judge’s call for competitor submitted ballots was a real thing, but given her opponent’s outright rejection of penning his own ballot she was not disadvantaged by this. Moreover her anodyne tweets, which did not impugn the intelligence of every red blooded American who loves the NCAA basketball tournament; as well as the lack of tweets perseverating over minor points of semantic hair splitting buried deep within unreadable tomes of doctrine allow the judge to look upon her areas of expertise even more positively.
SW1 @blakehounshell vs. SW5 @speechboy71
Both of these competitors began planning for my judgeship well in advance, producing a steady stream of adorable child photos for the past few months in order to inculcate good will should one of their future TFC judges end up being a pediatrician. How were they to know that this foresight, which would have seen them to an easy triumph over any other competitor be stymied by the fact that they were matched with an opponent who had adopted the exact same strategy? However only one of these two competitors has created an (adorable) twitter feed for, and ostensibly by, his offspring; this advantage was augmented by the recent flurry of first birthday tweets from said child. Subcontracting is an honored part of TFC and thus @blakehounshell must be deemed the winner.
SW11 @jasonfritz1 vs. SW10 @lrozen
@lrozen is one of DC’s best foreign policy journalists with an informative twitter feed. But she has completely ignored Twitter Fight Club, causing us to wonder how she made it this far into the tournament in the first place. Twitter Fight Club is a thing and she has other things to do. As opponent @JasonFritz1 said on twitter, @lrozen’s means and objects may be twitter, but they are not an extension of twitter by other means. They are not Twitter Fight Club. @JasonFritz1 wins due to his awesome, if incomprehensible, translations of CvC. Were his CvC comments to make sense it would ruin his twitter feed’s atmosphere of clever confusion, something he has carefully cultivated over the past few years with an unceasing stream of cricket commentary and classical music commentary as though penned by James Joyce on mushrooms.
Everybody loves a winner, and Intelwire had a great day. He got a job, had an outstanding performance in both the interactive and solo twitter categories, and perhaps most importantly reminded me of his longstanding grudge against Glenn Greenwald. To her credit, SlaughterAM poured it on towards the end, but the margin was insurmountable.
Jimmy sky just wanted it more, in the sense that he made some effort to win. Affecting disinterest is awesome and all, but at some point subjecting one’s self to the grim, savage requirement of noting the existence of a competition should count.
SE9) @drjjoyner SE5) @smsaideman
A hard fought, brutally difficult match to decide. Both competitors pandered effectively, retweeting my hopelessly unfunny quips about the upcoming Independence Day sequels. In the end, however, smsaideman kept a tighter focus on the need to shamelessly flatter the pretensions of the judges.
Foust picked the wrong week to quit twitter. You wanna go to Russia (or wherever, it was hard to tell) go; just don’t expect to win #tfc13 while you’re gone.
Shout-out to @Caidid for #TFC13, how’d she know I excel at judging people? My approach is essentially skilled-based — what can these people do for me? I don’t know how else one would evaluate – valor in tweeting?
And the match-ups –
Always a fan of @Intelwire for his sheer volume of (mostly interesting) material and wide-ranging topics. But @SlaughterAM brings impact. I mean, what chick doesn’t want to have it all (even if it’s not all at the same time)?
A gourmet cook talking Asia policy? At the same time? @joshuafoust might just be the perfect man. But props to @azelin for his recent work on online radicalization, really some good stuff. And he’s a Chi-town boy, we obviously share a love of Cubs & hot dogs. Secretly hoping this lands me an outing to Windy City Red Hots.
@JimmySky feels like the underdog and (despite being AF) seems like a nice person. Despite my deep admiration of geekdom, @Attackerman hasn’t yet invited me to sample pastries on the set of Up (and ogle #NerdCrush @chrislhayes). So underdog @JimmySky it is. Plus, I might need some data visualized someday.
Sorry @drjjoyner, as a rule, I subtract points for including an advanced degree in an e-mail address, twitter handle, really anywhere but a business card. Plus, I think a vote for @smsaideman gives me a certain international flair (well, Canadian flair, does that count?)
Hello I am a judge. I have spent the last few days relaxing in San Francisco, away from my unreasonably-large computer named after the anti-hero from Berserk, so as was the case last year the pyrotechnics will be light.
Before I don the robe, I must fully disclose.
I have followed each of the contestants in this bracket for at least a year. Five have followed me before today.
Two I have met personally. One has written a book about domestic terrorism I purchased and recommended to lots of people. One shares a good personal friend with me. At least two have quoted me in their blogs. One I’ve discussed at length following her explosive discussion of the state of modern feminism in the workplace. One sent my girlfriend an autographed copy of On War and another refuses to bribe me with food, which is bullshit.
I’m not telling you who any of those people are. Fuck disclosure.
Spencer Ackerman vs. James Gerrond
As a fiscally liberal, socially conservative individual, my valuation of Jimmy Sky is quite simple. He is employed by the government but neither as a soldier nor a sexy firefighter, which classifies him as a bureaucrat. I therefore approve of his contribution to society, and whatever he tweets is completely irrelevant as long as it is on government time.
I had the pleasure of either voting for or against Spencer last year. I don’t remember which. It’s irrelevant today, as my investigative journalism has led me to some explosive reporting I feel compelled to put forth with my judgment:
ACKERMAN SUBTWEETS SEX-WORKERS Spencer Ackerman, or John Spencer the actor from West Wing and also a prostitution reference? We’re just asking questions.
All of the following individuals are current and/or former sex-workers – a shameful profession of which I am loudly in favor of continued prohibition – and writers of various frequencies. A potent combination our Ackerman apparently cannot resist.
Bubbles, the stripper:
It's Friday afternoon. I know you aren't working. Go vote for THE GREATEST STRIP CLUB SONG OF ALL TIME: http://t.co/oHmChMEazq
In light of Gerrond’s excellent waste of taxpayer dollars and Ackerman’s reprehensible moral inconsistency, this ruling goes to Jimmy.
Berger vs. Slaughter:
Let me first say that the Twitter-fighting between these two got into some kind of weird Rocky Road mix of shockingly dirty and alarmingly polite. Each is a quality tweeter with a consistently active and interactive presence. I find it hard to even pretend to dislike either of them, which I find sufficiently obnoxious to wish I could vote against both of them. In the end, this twisting vortex of qualitative polarity yields a vote, and Ms. Slaughter can have all of it.
…RIGHT?! High-five o/\o
Dr. Joyner vs. (Dr.?) Stephen Saideman
Both Joyner and Saideman are constant presences in my Twitter, and I am irritated to admit that as with everyone else in this bracket are regularly discussing things that interest me. If I wanted to model my content on some sort of diverse-but-definable vertical in order to shape my personal brand and gain lots of followers through one weird trick, I would start with them. This was a difficult decision for me, but based on quality of snark I come down on the side of the Aussie-Canadian or whatever the hell he is. Doctor? Still has a beard, as far as I know. Saideman.
Aaron Zelin vs. Joshua Foust
It is not my policy to comment on whether or not an individual has or has not refused to bribe me with food, but one of these individuals either has or has not, and the other just has not. I’m not saying which has not, and which has or has not, and one should not infer from the constant references to and/or pictures of exquisite food in one of these individual’s Twitter streams that they are the ones who did or did not refuse to bribe me, which may or may not have happened at a past, present, or future date, heretofore, and forthwith.
I am not saying that the one who specifically did not refuse to bribe me with food is Aaron Zelin, but I am going to move on to discussing him now. Aaron Zelin is best known for the blog Jihad Watch, which he writes under the pseudonym Robert Spencer, a Ziggy Stardust like alternate identity, except where Ziggy was a space rocker from the future, Spencer is a crazy asshole Islamophobe. However, I’m not going to hold this against Mr. Zelin as it is his Twitter presence which is on trial here, not his weird little paranoid blog. From his Twitter feed he is constantly linking to posts on something called Jihadology, which I may or may not have beaten a superior over the head with at one time, allegedly literally, by printing out the entire thing and rolling it up and actually smacking him on his dumb face.
This is the sort of robust fantasy life which keeps people like me off the front page of the New York Times, though The Duffel Blog may have already run with it.
Jihadology is a good site. Whoever runs it deserves kudos. On Twitter, however, Foust fights with literally everyone and I feel compelled to once again vote in his favor. If he wins, literal or figurative blood may or may not be expected quid pro quo.
I was excited about the prospect of judging today’s matches when Caitlin sent me an email last night, but compared to Tuesday’s matches, today’s were lackluster. Pandering was far too scarce.
I really like @SlaughterAM, but this one isn’t close. @intelwire’s feed is a one stop shop for all sorts of news on terrorism and he is willing to engage with anyone. His acceptance of an associate fellowship at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation is a touchdown celebration. Congrats, J.M.!!
I know we aren’t supposed to incorporate things outside of twitter, but I’m afraid of what Creep will do to me if he finds out I didn’t vote for his dad. He breaks piñatas with his fists and carries nunchuks to the White House Easter Egg Roll.
@smsaideman is a worthy opponent, but this one goes to @drjjoyner because he reminded me about this.
SE3) @azelin SE2) @joshuafoust
This matchup had the potential to be really, really good. But @joshuafoust was stuck on a plane home from Moscow all day, probably in economy where the drinks aren’t free. So @azelin was left to toil alone. He sent the lone #FF today, which automatically earns him a .5 point. But @joshuafoust has such a tremendous body of work that makes up for today’s absence earning him a .5 point too.
I’ll keep this simple. As I indicated during my own round, I judge TwitterFightClub on a metric that may sound quaint: actual fighting. I judged each round on the basis of how well the fighters competed in their direct skirmishes with each other and, if relevant, proxies, nothing more.
But I quickly realized that, given how disparate the fighting styles and incentives were, I couldn’t judge the fights quite like I used to judge policy debate rounds. So instead, I developed a context-sensitive means of evaluating each fight: historical analogs. Seeing as this a competition for foreign policy folk, I tried to figure out what historical conflict best described the specific contours of each fight (admittedly, this was impressionistic), and then judged each one accordingly. Here’s what came out:
Don’t let the seeding fool you: this was an asymmetric fight, but @slaughterAM was the great power. As @intelwire pointed out, @slaughterAM has roughly 58,000 more followers than he does, an overwhelming advantage in the popular vote not dissimilar to the one possessed by a state with far greater military capabilities in a war. To win, she needs to leverage her superior conventional assets (full disclosure: I can’t know the voting numbers, so it’s impossible to tell if she did that) while at the same time refusing to be drawn into a quagmire on terrain more favorable to the insurgent (direct, judgeable exchanges) wherein she could be ground down by attrition.
Any number of historical asymmetric conflicts could be used here, but since @intelwire brought up @slaughterAM’s support for the Iraq War, let’s roll with that. @Intelwire, like Saddam, expertly baited his stronger opponent but, unlike her real-life counterpart, @slaughterAM refused to take the bait, resisting conventional offensives (except for the occasional sortie) in favor of a containment regime of positivity and compliments. This even resulted in @intelwire, also like Saddam, pushing it too far and alienating the world (this judge) through overly-aggressive and misplaced offensives.
So @slaughterAM practiced what she preached about “humility and learning” with respect to Iraq. The win goes to @slaughterAM.
This was another asymmetric conflict, but one with virtually no direct engagement, so it’s hard to make it into a conventional conflict. The best analog I could think of would be a case where there was a significantly stronger and weaker side where tensions still existed, but weren’t even remotely likely to escalate into outright war. Contemporary Russian-Estonian relations fit the bill (if you don’t believe me about the history of conflict, read up.)
So how to judge victory? Well, Like Estonia, @jimmysky embedded himself in a broader international arrangement, though instead of NATO, it was the LOFTFC (Laws of Twitter Fight Club). Also like Estonia, @jimmysky wasn’t above the employment of private military corporations. @attackerman, much like Russia, simply declared his intent to compete and then did nothing much to help him gain strategic advantage over his opponent. The smaller state finds a way, against the odds, to gain a measure of security. @jimmysky wins.
This one’s pretty simple. Like the tribes that would eventually unite under the Visigoth banner, @azelin periodically built up a base of support over the course of the competition with a declaration of intent to win and several entreaties to third parties, while @joshuafoust, like Rome, was distracted and overstretched (something called “real life” taking up the bulk of his attention). @joshuafoust, much like Rome, alienated potential bases of support by refusing to provide them with desired goods. @azelin wins.
Our final battle was an odd affair. Though there was an unending, nearly impossible to sort out stream of offensives and counteroffensives, and real blood was occasionally drawn, the entire endeavor was suffused with a sense of honor and mutual respect that reminded me nothing more of conflict between rival nobles in Medieval Europe. The conflict between nobles (NOT civilians or non-noble combatants, though) was regulated by a set of shifting, amorphous chivalric values that required fair treatment in the same way that the sparring between @smsaideman and @drjoyner was, while combative, oftentimes quite good natured.
Much as noble medieval warfare generally didn’t much affect the basic structure of the European international system, this conflict did not have a clear, decisive winner. This is a tie.
It’s a punishing schedule for competitors as yesterday’s victors launch straight into today’s Sweet 16 contest. We’ll start here with yesterday’s results, followed by today’s polls, then finally the judges’ ballots for yesterday.
Results: Round Two, Northeast and Southeast
**(1) @intelwire: 67%, 2.5 of five judges
(8) @BFriedmanDC: 33%, 2.5 of five judges
An even split in the judging doesn’t matter to @intelwire who takes the day on the strength of the popular vote.
(5) @chrisalbon: 51%, 1.5 of five judges **(4) @SlaughterAM: 49%, 3.5 of five judges
@chrisalbon’s slender lead in the popular vote is not enough to upend @SlaughterAM, who advances to the Sweet 16 thanks to the judges.
**(11) @JimmySky: 64%, 2.5 of five judges
(3) @astridhka: 36%, 2.5 of five judges
Another judges’ split, another decision for the popular vote, and @JimmySky is moving on.
(10) @elsnarkistani: 36%, 2.5 of five judges **(2) @attackerman: 64%, 2.5 of five judges
The third of three even splits in the judges’ ballots is decided by the popular vote for @attackerman.
(1) @adamserwer: 55%, two of five judges’ votes **(9) @drjjoyner: 45%, three of five judges’ votes
@drjjoyner edges one out over @adamserwer by taking three of five judges’ votes.
**(5) @smsaideman: 51%, five of five judges’ votes
(4) @gregorydjohnsen: 49%, zero of five judges’ votes
An extremely close race in the popular polls, @smsaideman cruises to victory with a sweep of the judges.
(6) @naheedmustafa: 40% (39.73%), three of five judges’ votes **(3) @azelin: 60% (60.26%), two of five judges’ votes
The closest race in TFC history, we had to go to hundredths of a percent in the popular voting to determine the winner. One vote was the difference that put @azelin over the top.
(7) @johnsonr: 41%, one of five judges’ votes **(2) @joshuafoust: 59%, four of five judges’ votes
@joshuafoust takes the popular vote and the judges’ vote to take an easy victory.
In the Sweet 16, there are five judges for each side of the brackets, East and West. The panel’s judgment will count for 50% of the vote, with each judge representing 10% of the overall total. The other 50% is based on the popular vote via the public polls below, so make sure to cast your votes! The judging panels for today are as follows:
Their votes account for half of each contestant’s score. Your votes make up the other half:
Now for your Round Two Judges’ Ballots!
First and foremost, a big thank you to @caidid for putting this together. It’s an insane amount of logistical work and prep that creates a venue for such awesome twitter battles.
Onto the battles!
@ElSnarkistani made an early attempt to cut out @attackerman’s legs, but like the Yankee fan he is, @attackerman embraced his role as Goliath and quickly dismissed the pleas of his opponent. @ElSnarkistani responded by subtweeting the shit out of @attackerman. Ackerman is never an easy draw in TFC, but I’m awarding Gary the win for the range of interesting articles he offered his followers throughout the day.
After a deafening silence to begin the day by both @SlaughterAM and @chrisalbon, they both came roaring out of the gate. @SlaughterAM gets dinged for retweeting so many people talking about how great her article is. But I’m an attention whore and do the same thing, so I’ll let it slide. Albon’s early lead is buried by a slow, methodical landslide from Slaughter.
@BFriedmanDC walked into his matchup with a tough @intelwire knowing he had to play to his strengths and not let @intelwire dictate the tempo of the game. Brandon stayed in his lane and reinforced his reputation as one of the best on twitter when it comes to veterans and military personnel issues. But Berger wins the match with a heavy flood of good articles and retweets. Berger shows he’s not afraid of his opponent, retweeting him twice.
@astridhka effectively works the Africa offense, with a brief aside to shit talk Boston (as a Laker fan, this plays well with me). Much like the Princeton offense, it’s a highly effective, but difficult to translate to a larger stage. @jimmysky counters with a good high-low game: SHOT: Lording over both his current and former opponents in a good display of braggadocio. CHASER: Several pictures of his adorable kids, Kid A and Creep. Jimmy nears flies off the rails when distracted by a fake congressman and several Chris Hayes-related puns, but good veteran play keeps it together and he holds on for the W.
In the long tradition of Drunk History and Drunk Kitchen, I present to you Drunk TFC Judging. (I don’t know, dudes, Science Club’s white wine is strong.)
(1) @intelwire vs. (8) @BFriedmanDC
Look, this isn’t a Twitter Expert Club or a Twitter Rational Argument Club, this is Twitter Fight Club. And @BFriedmanDC is fighting someone on Twitter just about every day. Today? Fighting on Twitter. Yesterday? Fighting on Twitter. Tomorrow? He will be fighting on Twitter. Every day, @BFriedmanDC comes to Twitter ready to do battle with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and that he does.
Hands down, @BFriedmanDC takes this round. Butterbeer is on him.
(4) @SlaughterAM vs. (5) @chrisalbon
The least Twitter fight-y of all the Northeast division fights. What’s a tipsy judge to do? As fellow judge @zoonpolitikon notes, @chrisalbon is the only one to have Tweeted about Twitter Fight Club and so, as one of the arbitrary rules I have made up about Twitter Fight Club is that one must talk about Twitter Fight Club, this round goes to @chrisalbon.
In @chrisalbon vs. @CONFLCTMRCOFFEE, though, we all know who the true winner is.
(3) @astridhka vs. (11) @JimmySky
So on the one hand we have someone who has served their country in harsh environments and to this day strives to make the world a better place by educating the people of Twitter about esoteric information. And on the other hand we have @JimmySky. He was in the Air Force.
Look, @JimmySky is a great guy with kids who are probably smarter than us (yes, maybe even smarter than @stcolumbia). He owes me a beer, though. @astridhka is an Africanist who we all want to see go up against @texasinafrica. I know what the people want. I know that I want beer. @astridhka wins this one. Unless it turns out she was in the Coast Guard.
(2) @attackerman vs. (10) @ElSnarkistani
@ElSnarkistani came out fighting early with the brownnosing Tweets and the effusive retweets. He even managed to be in a branch of the military that wasn’t the Air Force. @attackerman was, like, working on stuff? Like reporting? Come on, man, this is Twitter Fight Club. Deadlines can wait.
This one is close. Chris Hayes jokes or F-35 videos? Wait, those were both @attackerman. I love a good CERP reference, @ElSnarkistani, but by a hair @attackerman gets the KO this round with LockMart’s terrible PR video.
I apologize to everyone for everything. Good night.
“Twitter Fight Club is like the greatest covert war taking place in history today: the struggle for Eastern Europe.” – Stratfor founder and chairman George Friedman
Many Twitter fighters have questioned the reasoning and criteria for judging, and many judges have developed ever more rigorous methodologies to weigh our Twitter fighters against each other.
My match-ups fought even less this time and I am disappoint. Again, as a judge, I want my day of hyper-vigilance over the blows in my Twitter feed to be worth it.
Let us go to the source of the struggle. What are they fighting for?
Winner: @attackerman, because a pre-pandering Taliban panda simply has a permanent hold over the population, despite the best efforts of Western invaders. @elsnarkistani, this was a tough call. Everyone should follow you. I hope you will still follow me. I will give you the last tweet.
Finally, a bit more advice to those aspiring to attain my vote. Jon Roberts was a horrible criminal who smuggled cocaine for the Medellin cartel in Miami during the 1980s. Don’t do anything he did. But he said, “If you have a problem, choose the most evil way to solve it, and do the evil as forcefully as you can. That’s how you come out on top.” I encourage you to do this for TFC.
This was tough.
Before the competition started, I imagined myself with a cocktail in my hand on the private yacht of one of the contestants, spending all the bribes I got. Then I would have given my vote to the highest bidder. It turned out it is much more work. Here is me trying to come to a conclusion:
First pairing: (1) @intelwire vs (8) @BFriedmanDC
@intelwire made me forget how unhappy I was about google discontinuing google reader. I will just keep following him and keep my steady stream of news (luckily he seems to use feedly). However, @BFriedmanDC was able to keep this pace. A difficult call but I give my vote to @BFriedmanDC by a slim margin because I appreciated the emphasis on comments over simple retweets. This is how he won:
Second face-off: (5) @chrisalbon vs. (4) @SlaughterAM
So I was getting ready for a clash but this is what @chrisalbon did:
So my vote goes to @SlaughterAM. Both could have done more. In the end the fight was won by presence.
The third fight was between (11) @JimmySky and (3) @astridhka
@JimmySky made a smart move and tried to distract the judges with pictures of children in superhero costumes. But as you can see in the picture the distraction did not last long:
@astridhka offered us some serious Africa tweeting instead. So it all came down to very entertaining snark (@JimmySky) versus some serious substance (@astridhka). With two heavy hearts I give my vote to @astridhka.
Fourth and final fight: (10) @elsnarkistani vs (2) @attackerman
This was as expected: Full of snark, shameless self-promotion, pandering, bribes, heavy blows and merciless tweeting. In other words, the fight of the day.
I think this image summarizes the spectacle well:
Although I was not sure who had the upper hand at which point, for me in the end it was the underdog @elsnarkistani who carried the day (also thank to a very impressive responsiveness) and therefore got my vote.
The fifth judge’s ballot was not received in time, but would not have changed any outcomes.
My personal metrics are as follows:
Candidate vs. Candidate disses
Pandering to me on Iranian food, cute animals on the Internet, or the superiority of Los Angeles sports teams.
Quality of tweets.
1 and 3 are completely subjective. 2 concerns some things that are important to me: the kabobs I now frequently consume as exam comfort food, cute animals on the Internet (who doesn’t like them), and proper recognition of the awesomeness of my home town.
Neither competed against each other for the prize. Score: 0
Neither pandered to me about Iranian food, cute animals, or Los Angeles. Score: 0
I enjoyed Joyner’s discussion of a wider range of issues, from cyberwar to veteran’s services. Serwer’s feed, while scintillating, did not demonstrate the same range. Joyner 1, Serwer 0.
Both contestants have a solid body of work on Twitter covering a wide range of national security issues. So this came down to pandering and twitterfighting skills. I gave both a .5 rating for tie. Johnsen .5, Saideman .5
Saideman is strong in twitterfighting. As I previously noted, Saideman’s maple-themed tweets have the demonic power of a million giant inflatable beevers. When Saideman gets worked up, it looks like the Winter Olympics out there. Yet Johnsen impressively parried many of his barbs with oppo research twitpics, so I will have to give this one to him. Johnsen 1.5, Saideman .5.
Saideman pandered to me with cute animal pictures and videos (a baby polar cub), and LA-themed RTs. Johnsen, however, subtweeted that I was the Twitter equivalent of a corrupt Jordanian flaunting wasta. Bad movie, Johnsen! This one went to Saideman. Johnsen 1.5, Saideman 1.5
So how did I decide? Well, Saideman spoke frequently of his generosity to political science and IR grad students. As a 1-st year PhD student in IR, I appreciate that. Johnsen 1.5, Saideman, 2.5.
Mustafa and Zelin both went hard. But Zelin’s raw aggression, complete with cyberwar put-downs, gave him an edge in the twitterfighting category. Mustafa 0, Zelin 1
Neither Mustafa nor Zelin engaged in any pandering, and both RT’d Johnsen’s subtweet at me. So no point for either. Mustafa 0, Zelin 1.
Zelin delivered top-notch goods on Middle East and North Africa. Mustafa had some goods but also tweeted a bit about overly earnest people on her train. So point to Zelin. Mustafa 0, Zelin 2.
Perhaps out of her strong sense of ethics, Johnson did not engage in pandering. Likewise Foust, knowing not to do things for free (and with no guarantee he would come out on top of the combined judge/popular vote if he pandered.) refrained from pandering. So Foust 0, Johnson 0.
Johnson and Foust did not engage in much fighting. However, Johnson made a solid case for her own candidacy and beat back critics, so I will give her 0.5. Foust, 0, Johnson 0.5.
Substance: Johnson discussed many important subjects. However, Foust also did this while engaging many twitter personalities large and small on substantive discussion of the issues. Johnson 0.5, Foust 1.
(1)@adamserwer vs. (9)@drjjoyner
The top of the bracket features a truly brutal match-up between a pair of Twitter Titans (Twitans?) that I happen to also like on a personal level (to the extent one can develop such sentimental connections without ever having met in the flesh world). My first thought when looking at this contest was, “How the hell is @drjjoyner only a #9 seed?” Granted, he’s not overly combative or snarky, but his almost grating reliance on common sense and decency should have been enough to catapult him into #3 seed territory.
That said, this is TwitterFightClub and I’m not sure @drjjoyner put up enough of a fight to upend a #1 seed (where wwas the pointing and laughing, the touting of gaffes, the compromising photos, the bribes, the beards?)…That, and @adamserwer’s liveblogging of the Prop 8 arguments was nicely done.
Alas, @drjjoyner’s sense of honor cost him the match (that, and the fact that he was wrongly seeded).
(5) @smsaideman vs. (4) @gregorydjohnsen
This match featured much of the TFC spice that the (1)-(9) contest lacked – dueling beards, working the refs (praise for Don Mattingly and the Yankees from a Mets fan no less), the brandishing of arms (was that a spear?), a bucket of qat, the donning of embarrassing costumes…really, the spirit of TwitterFightClub combat.
In fact, I was so impressed with the showing from both participants that I’ve agonized (read: spent more than 1 minute) over my decision.
In the end, despite @gregorydjohnsen ridiculous k-nowledge of all things Yemen (and embarrassing ultimate frisbee/bandana expose), I’m casting my vote for @smsaideman under the rationale that one of them has to be declared the winner…
(6) @naheedmustafa vs. (3) @azelin
This match certainly had promise – at least initially. @naheedmustafa jumped out early with a preemptive strike of judge shmoozing, and a shocking expose of @azelin’s use of French (hard to vote for a surrender monkey talkin guy). But then at some point in the middle the thing went soft..Twitter Kindness Club? Oy. Luckily, the intensity pushed past “soft slap fight” toward the tail end of the contest…
Although I’m loathe to endorse two Canadians in a row, socialism wins by a tea-cup…
(7) @johnsonr vs. (2) @joshuafoust
The (2) – (7) contest closely resembled the (1) – (9) in its lack of fireworks. And, as with the (1) – (9), the lack of big strikes favors the higher seed. Simply not enough done on the part of @johnsonr to overcome @joshuafoust’s #2 seed, and his shameless pimping of the pug for sympathy votes. Effective nevertheless.
(1) @adamserwer vs (9) @drjjoyner
While @adamserwer is a prolific tweeter with 4x @drjjoyner’s followers, it all seems to be related to his day job and there was no acknowledgment that he was even participating in TFC13 nor any actual contact made on his part towards his opponent. That might be acceptable in the first round but not in the second. Penalties awarded.
In addition to the fact that @drjjoyner bothered to follow me, he had no qualms about retweeting @AbuMuqawamaPMC ‘s back-handed but amusing advocacy for him:
@smsaideman pointed out his use of pop culture in lecturing IR (http://t.co/Mib9iS5ztv) although I noted that he had not bothered to fully research the pop culture reference to realise it was a complex multipolar scenario. Given said pop culture reference was the rather superb Game of Thrones, the penalties & points awarded evened out.
@gregorydjohnsen appeared to have compiled a dirt file that included sporting photos of his opponent which were quickly used in an effective ambush, points awarded.
Having earlier posted bearded photos, @gregorydjohnsen had a change of heart on pandering & compared the judges to an unfavourable experience in Jordan. I would’ve given him serious points for guts in taking on the judges had he bothered to address my challenges and hints. But he didn’t.
@gregorydjohnsen As I said earlier, snarkiness, good tweets/links & putting the fight in #TFC13 rates higher than pandering. Even if @ me!
@gregorydjohnsen also seemed to take a +4hr break without bothering to field a child/dog/work /warfare excuse for his absence. These two events might not seem much but it was just enough for me to reverse my earlier judging sentiments. That said, his reengagement may be in time to gain him the popular vote (since its predominantly after the judges cut-off).
Advantage (in spite of his admitting liking our truly awful capital city Canberra): @smsaideman
(6) @naheedmustafa vs(3) @azelin
This battle got off to a nauseating start with both competitors seemingly set upon engaging in “Twitter Kindness Club 2013 #TKC13”. Thankfully this soon ended although the quality of the fighting didn’t improve much.
@naheedmustafa doesn’t follow my feed but did pander to how “chill” I must be and offered me tea. @azelin countered with an early #FF to the judges.
@azelin took on the judges asking why we didn’t like arguments over peanut butter and pickles, Austria & strategic airpower, thereby missing the point that the lack of blood spilt, not topic was the source of our disappointment. Points for guts and judge interaction, minor deduction for not henceforth initiating a less shallow fight.
I nearly gave it to @azelin outright for being referred to as the Prince of all things Jihad (and having a generally better feed).
But also desperately wanted to see @naheedmustafa make good on her threat to make @AbuMuqawamaPMC rue the day he endorsed her opponent. It was a moment of real feistiness!
Advantage (but is going to need to up game to survive @AbuMuqawamaPMC, let alone her opponents in the next round): @NaheedMustafa
(7) @johnsonr vs (2) @joshuafoust
This was always going to be a tough one for me, I’ve been a committed follower of @joshuafoust for some time but as he himself said, “blind loyalty is dumb” and @johnsonr distinguished herself in #TFC13 Round 1 as an intelligent and highly amusing competitor with cute dobermanns and possessing serious gumption.
I noted that @AbuMuqawamaPMC weighing into the battle between these two brought it to an all new (truly horrible) TFC low: https://twitter.com/AbuMuqawamaPMC/status/316606980208873472
@joshuafoust strength is not just in the breadth of his feed but the commentary he inserts into his tweets & his quick response to most tweets in his direction. @johnsonr engaged quickly with anyone who tweeted her and amassed an impressive collection of advocates, some of whom even lobbied me directly.
I would’ve awarded this one to @joshuafoust based on the high quality of his tweeting & his quick ending of any dog sympathy advantage being directed towards @johnsonr but given my minor penalty to @gregorydjohnsen for taking an unexplained break, I couldn’t let near on 7hrs of unexplained silence and non-participation go unanswered.
I came into the SE bracket much less familiar with the competitors than in my last judging round, so I tried to largely judge each contestant on their output between 10am and 10pm Tuesday. As a judge with a straight IR/African Studies field of knowledge, I perhaps find different topics/discussions appealing than some of the NatSec folks. I tend to favor a lot of aggressive pandering to TFC judges, though quality of content can certainly overcome the massive flaw of having a life/feed that don’t revolve around TFC.
(1) @adamserwer (9) @drjjoyner
@adamserwer began the day at a disadvantage in terms of TFC tweeting because he was doing real work at the SCOTUS. While this didn’t allow him to interact with TFC, he provided a solid summary of the conversations happening at the court, which is a real-world service to his followers. @drjjoyner similarly didn’t engage much with TFC. I agree with the below tweet in my ultimate judging, though I deeply enjoyed @adamserwer’s SCOTUS snark.
@smsaideman came in strong from the word go, pandering aggressively to the judges and making sure I, as an Africanist, knew about his @texasinafrica endorsement. He even made an infographic about the matchup! As a recovered grad student, I did enjoy him framing the fight as “what not do to” as a grad student (i.e., be an historian – truth). His output was also truly impressive – at certain points, he sent a tweet a minute. @gregorydjohnsen was a bit clearer on when his TFC round would take place, and did a fair amount of directly countering his competitor’s attacks with proof of his work (links to video, etc). He also apparently can take down a LOT of qat. @gregorydjohnsen compared judges expecting banter/bribes to wasta, and focused largely on proving his competitiveness by his prodigious output, while @smsaideman proved to be one of the most impressive sycophants I’ve seen in #TFC13. In the end, it’s a matter of style, and I like my TFC fought dirty.
(6) @naheedmustafa (3) @azelin
Both contestants started out the day adorably complimenting one another and half-heartedly tearing one another down, plus kitten pictures! Each got in a direct interaction with the judges early, which always earns points in my book. @naheedmustafa was very thorough in her judge interaction/bribing efforts, willing to say anything to get an endorsement, while @azelin was less blatant with flattery but quite responsive and followed his judges – always a smart move. I can’t do it. Ok, fine, @azelin by the tiniest of noses, mainly because a RT in his feed made me cry. Is that fair? Probably not. I have a headache.
(7) @johnsonr (2) @joshuafoust
Of the entire SE bracket, @joshuafoust was somehow the only person I came into TFC following. His facial hair is also immaculate. johnsonr admitted early on that she would be busy on Tuesday (partly with a sick dog, and I cannot in good conscience vote someone down when their dog is sick). Neither had huge engagement with TFC, but by midday I learned @joshuafoust ALSO has a recently-sick dog, so that voting standard fell apart. My friend @aurallyfit focuses on Russia/Central Asia and lobbied hard for @joshuafoust because, and I quote, “he’s right about Russia, and Russia is important, just like Africa.” Naturally, that solid argument combined with my previous awareness of @joshuafoust’s not-insubstantial output and his ability to keep up with TFC while in Moscow made him today’s winner.
Getting vanquished in the first round of #TFC13 apparently doesn’t put you out of the fold, as I’m back from the dead to judge round two. To be honest, there was a time I tweeted nearly exclusively about security and IR subjects, but a change in career path has significantly altered my production and consumption of such material. As such, I was surprised to even be included in the first round, but enjoyed judging the second round more as it allowed me delve into some of my interests that have gone neglected as of late.
I swung both ways throughout the day on this match up. First thing I noticed was that Adam’s volume was significantly lower (not always a bad thing, but Adam generally tweets good things regardless of volume), but then I noticed he had tweeted he was without tech in the Supreme Court for today’s Prop 8 oral arguments. Possibly sacrificing #TFC13 to witness history got him mad respect points. Then, James decided to make a race of it by tweeting about policy implications of military retiree health care, a pet subject of mine. But then James tweeted this:
@BFriedmanDC That's hugely helpful. DVA needs a huge influx of staff capacity to deal with this new wave of vets, though.
Which, as an employ of the agency to which he refers, I know to be wholly inaccurate. People shouldn’t be experts on everything. But tweeting an assumption as if it were settled fact is problematic. There was also this Tweet:
Watch out for @abumuqawama! RT @johnsonr: Just passed a house w a confederate flag flying out front and a plastic deer in the yard. #pwoc
And as a fellow Southerner, I sympathize with Ex on this smear that I like to refer to as “Clampettization”.
But then James tweeted his concern when I tweeted about heading to the ER for an illness. Pandering, sure, but isn’t that what #TFC13 is about?
Finally, I remembered that Adam can always be counted on for a light and I often forget my cigarette lighter.
Adam had some great analysis on the SCOTUS hearing, and James was wrong on two issues I care deeply about (granted, those two were in a sea of highly informative Tweets).
Stephen took the early lead by pandering to my love of war stories from my 2007 Afghanistan deployment and NBA basketball. Gregory made it competitive, though, with tweets on Flannery O’Conner, secession (again, I’m a diasporic Southerner) and fascinating stuff about Yemen. On the other hand, he has a really weak beard whereas Stephen’s beard is somewhat glorious (I expect Stephen to quote that compliment as a blurb on his next book).
My vote goes to @smsaideman.
Naheed starts with the significant handicapped of having her bio indicate that she is in Canada. I spent time in Canada once. It’s not something I want to re-experience. If Tim Horton’s white hot chocolate and crullers weren’t a thing (the TH trailer at Kandahar Airfield is a bit of a theater Shrangri-La) I’d have nothing good to say about the place. However, she did call me one of “the smartest people on twitter”. The fact that the other “smartest people on twitter” were also judges on her match up, I’m assuming, was pure coincidence.
Aaron, on the other hand proved himself to be an exceptionally apt panderer, and based on his cartoon avatar has quite the beard. For this match up, however, beard possession has to be thrown out as a criterion.
Beards and country of residence aside, this race was probably a draw for me. Therefore, I’m going to make what is probably a controversial activist vote.
Naheed raised the undervalued concern of women’s issues in IR, and we desperately need more women voices in the IR sphere. Definitely consider this a message that addressing women’s issues earns you points in #TFC13. My vote is for Naheed to keep this subject matter relevant in the next round.
Rebecca gets a head start for being a specialist on uniformed issues, a subject dear to my heart. But not by much as I’ve long been an admirer of Josh’s work.
Josh also spent most of the day on some smart analysis on the subject of RussoAmeriEuro Atlanticism. Really interesting stuff on some incentives (or lack of) that I hadn’t previously thought about in depth.
I really wanted to support Rebecca. I like her subject matter, I have a soft spot for the underdog and she definitely brought the “love of the game” factor with a plethora of #TFC13 hashtagged tweets. But she spent most of the day on the road to do great things and care for her dogs. If I had my druthers, I’d call for a mulligan for Rebecca so she could face this tough opponent on a day when she could more actively participate. Unfortunately, there are no second acts in #TFC13 (except as a judge), and thus my vote is for Foust.
The western half of the bracket gave us a lively start to Round Two. Let’s see if the East can measure up!
In the second round, there are five judges for each ‘region.’ The panel’s judgment will count for 50% of the vote, with each judge representing 10% of the overall total. The other 50% is based on the popular vote via the public polls below, so make sure to cast your votes! The judging panels for today are as follows:
**(1) @texasinafrica: 67%, five of five judges
(8) @drfarls: 33%, zero of five judges
@texasinafrica shows no signs of slowing down as she cruises to an easy victory in round two.
**(5) @hayesbrown: 66%, 2.5 of five judges
(4) @zackbeauchamp: 34%, 2.5 of five judges
The panel of five judges managed to split evenly on this one, but the popular vote wins it for @hayesbrown.
**(11) @InkSptsGulliver: 42%, three of five judges
(3) @tweetsintheme: 58%, two of five judges
In a close race, @InkSptsGulliver just manages to squeak by popular poll-winner @tweetsintheme by taking three of the five judges’ votes.
(7) @stephaniecarvin: 55%, one of five judges **(15) @lesley_warner: 45%, four of five judges
@stephaniecarvin gets the edge in the popular vote, but four of five judges go for @lesley_warner to give her the win and keep the 15 seed’s Cinderella story alive.
**(1) @blakehounshell: 64%, three of five judges
(8) @max_fisher: 36%, two of five judges
The one seed remains strong enough to take out the competition.
**(5) @speechboy71: 50%, four of five judges
(4) @emptywheel: 50%, one of five judges
With a perfect 50/50 split in the popular vote, @speechboy71 takes this one on the strength of the judges’ decision.
**(11) @JasonFritz1: 51%, three of five judges
(14) @khanserai: 49%, two of five judges
@khanserai pulled out all the stops, but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome @JasonFritz1.
**(10) @lrozen: 43%, four of five judges
(2) @abuaardvark: 57%, one of five judges
@abuaardvark’s slight edge in the popular vote isn’t enough to make up for his silence on Twitter this week, as four of five judges give the match to @lrozen.
And here are your judges’ ballots:
For my objective criterion, I went entirely with the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Few competitors took this to heart, which is fine. The pyramid stands alone.
Texas is the Chipotle of American States. Sure, it’s better than average, but the gulf between how good evangelists claim it to be and how good it actually is is vast. Normally this would weigh my vote, but both contestants were able to speak to the finer points of New Mexico, so I can stow that hatchet away for another day.
Farls openly challenges convention, supporting Pirates, opposing Texas, and blood sports as COIN. Seay combines good memory with her pandering, was covering the country of Africa long before you were correcting me for calling it a country, and she also throws her considerable klout behind #HireMonday. Speaking as a millenial who spent too much time in the trenches of the great recession, this last point is invaluable. It also happens well outside of #TFC tournaments, and while it’s been pandery during this contest, it’s origins are altruistic. In the way that seeding a vast network of young and indebted national security thinkers is altruistic. It was a close call, but #HireMonday sealed this. Seay by an inch.
This was a brutal fight, that opened with an ugly showdown about zombies, BlogTarkin, fiction, and metaphor that left no contestant looking anything like pretty. After that followed a long race to the left, where the messy reality of dictators existing was thrown against America’s most perfect and inconvenient ideals. They also humored me by debating League of Nations vs League of Extraordinary Gentleman, though there was some confusion about the rules. There was bribery and impassioned speech, as the house of Progress shook to its very foundation. This was a Magneto-vs-Xavier duel, and where Beauchamp mustered a long ideological defense, Brown picked it apart in progress with reaction .gif after reaction .gif. If .gif fighting is wrong, Millenials will never be right. Brown has my vote.
(11) @InkSptsGulliver (3) @TweetsInTheME
Great additions to any feed lacking in realtalk (Clausewitzian and North African, respectively), but the contest today complete fell apart when Gulliver went full Greenwald. You never go full Greenwald. Lebovich takes it.
(7) @StephanieCarvin (15) @Lesley_Warner
Both are formidable and talented scholars that you should be following. But Lesley Warner showed up, fought all day, and did so on Carvin’s turf, with artful cupcakes thrown like punches. Warner, no contest.
@TexasinAfrica. Aside from the fact she uses a gas barbecue in Texas, it’s hard to find fault in @TexasinAfrica. With all due respect to her opponent, keeping up with @TexasinAfrica is a full-time job that would challenge any of us. Hands down, this one goes to the number one seed in the bracket.
@HayesBrown. They say that some of us have a bias toward others who look like them. @HayesBrown could be a cartoon character in The Further Adventures of Doctrine Man!! Oh, and he’s a bombastic Twittermaniac, which doesn’t hurt. @ZackBeauchamp was close on his heels every minute of the matchup, but a last-ditch, GIF-encrusted rendition of Spamalot proved to be the difference in the end. Well played, @HayesBrown. Well played.
@InkSptsGulliver. The matchup between Gulliver and @TweetsintheME was about as close as it get in Twitter Fight Club. Both are relevant, communicate in sharp, concise bursts of 140-character genius, and hit hard on issues that matter the most. The difference is the ‘snark’ level, where — in the upset of the bracket — Gulliver edges his worthy opponent by a nose… or a character or two in Twitter-ese.
@StephanieCarvin. Mmm… cupcakes. @Lesley_Warner is going to be a force to be reckoned with one day soon, but her opponent has opened up a substantial lead in the Twitterverse, combining a penchant for the world of international relations with a certain snakorific ability to strike with panache and punch. Did I mention cupcakes?
Laura really brought her A-game today and maintained an even amount of legitimate news/worthy tweets and competitive fight. I’m not partial because she’s female or a Texan, although both don’t hurt, but because she’s ridiculously smart, specializing in a really important field. #AfricaPivot, FTW.
(5) @hayesbrown (4) @zackbeauchamp
I legitimately cannot decide. I think it was a very equal match-up with some great sh*t talking, and, er, *interesting* gifs. Both pandered well so I’m pulling a Switzerland.
Reading his tweets is like that time I read “Ghost Wars”: A LOT of acronyms and history that requires me spending 20 minutes reading 10K characters to figure out everything he mentioned in one damn tweet of 140. That alone warrants recognition. Also, who doesn’t love CvC? Probably terrorists, but that’s why he doing us all a patriotic service.
Aside from @stephaniecarvin actually conceding (that helped my decision), I have to give Lesley my vote since she literally out-tweeted her opponent. Tweeted her into submission. And Stephanie has some serious credentials, like two books, so isn’t that enough? I’m Robin Hood-ing my vote and giving it to the contestant that can use this on their resume in case that PhD doesn’t pan out.
As a grateful 1st-round knockout, I’m thrilled to be judging. Thanks to @caidid for putting this together and letting me participate.
(1) @texasinafrica vs. (8) @drfarls
@texasinafrica is a true pro at Twitter Fight Club. Truly a natural, with just the right balance of professionalism and pandering. She just knows how this works. In terms of professional content, @texasinafrica had an unfair advantage. It was a busyday in the CAR, and a very good day to finally (and, yes I know, very belatedly) start following her.
@drfarls had some good moments and some missed opportunities. He went on HuffPo Live and then didn’t use it to take TFC cross-platform. Or at least he said he didn’t. I don’t know – like everyone else, I don’t actually watch HuffPo Live. @texasinafrica’s “he likes pirates” line of attack definitely backfired, as I harbor somewhat secret (2.5 beers, so really not a secret at all) desire to give up on my chosen career path and become a privateer. It is my understanding that he has the more impressive beard. And as @texasinafrica was getting a bit lazy, he went and did this. Damn, that’s serious (and seriously adorable) devotion to TFC.
It had the makings of a Cinderella story come-from-behind upset, and then he started livetweeting. I cannot abide livetweeting. The day belongs to @texasinafrica.
(5) @hayesbrown vs. (4) @zackbeauchamp
Full disclosure: I like Hayes and hadn’t gotten around to following @zackbeauchamp until today. When I had questions about the United Nations (for an article about Batman, obviously), I went to Hayes. Hayes is a good man, and I came into this one biased.
And I was disappointed.
Hayes: What happened to you, man? By your own admission, you were having an off day. Boy howdy, were you ever. You come in and start trying to take down @zackbeauchamp for writing about zombies as an extended metaphor for society? It’s like I don’t even know you anymore. And then you managed to be both elitist (“he doesn’t pronounce his French name properly, harrumph” (apparently MS Word autocorrects to harrumph with two r’s; now you know)), and anti-intellectual (he uses too many big words and “bloviates”? Hayes, it’s Twitter! It doesn’t get more self-indulgent than this! You even tweeted a picture of your lunch! It’s all bloviating!). Hayes, you didn’t even use a particularly good “Haters gonna hate” meme. You were ready to surrender to the cephalopods!
You almost redeemed yourself this afternoon with an excellent round of gif-sparring, and I do love a good etymology, but it just didn’t do it in the end. (This picture from @darth sums it up pretty well.) You had the content, so did @zackbeauchamp, but you disappointed. I’m sorry, Hayes. I’m so sorry. I’m voting for @zackbeauchamp. Here’s hoping you have a better day next year. You can still borrow my copy of Justice League International if you want.
(11) @InkSptsGulliver vs. (3) @tweetsintheme
This had the potential to be a good match, and got off to a decent start with some beard-fighting. And that’s more or less where it ended. InkSpts might have had one of the best jokes of the day, but as much as I like a good curmudgeon, sometimes I feel he strays into the hypercritical-for-the-sake-of-being-hypercritical territory. I’m conflicted on this one and have to draw on their larger opus – there just wasn’t much of a showing today – and say @tweetsintheme usually is more insightful. In today’s fight, though, we all lost.
(7) @stephaniecarvin vs. (15) @lesley_warner
Once again, fortune favored the Africa expert – in that there was a coup, so go ahead and feel guilty, @lesley_warner, because you might’ve won my vote because of the overthrow of a government. I enjoy @stephaniecarvin’s tweets. They’re informative, wide-ranging, and reliably fun – for example, this (oh, Canada, you’re so charming). But @lesley_warner was bringing it with the substance today, and also cleverly turned @stephaniecarvin’s cupcake obsession on her. @lesley_warner nearly lost me by periodically and without context tweeting “Bazinga,” which is an unfunny line from the least funny show on TV, but for the most part she was fun and engaging, whereas @stephaniecarvin went for the jugular. For Christ’s sake, this is TFC, not the American Political Science Review – and that was just a straight up brag, not even trying for a humblebrag – and then moving on to using killing baby seals for wi-fi? I’m no electrical engineer, but that…I just…now I’m sad.
True story: Stephanie Carvin once walked past my desk in real life. It was about two years ago and she stopped by to meet my then-boss. They chatted for about 10 minutes. I think there were cupcakes. If there were, I didn’t receive any.
Hey, @lesley_warner, this one goes to you for being a solid follow and for keeping it civil.
And that’s it. This ballot is already late (sorry, Caitlin!) so I’m not proofreading and will regret this later. If you have any problems with my methods, too bad.
If Twitter Fight Club was the World Cup, the Northwest region would be the group of death. My feed was a bloodbath before I even finished my first coffee. All eight contenders took the “fight” in Twitter Fight Club very seriously and spent the day throwing rhetorical haymakers. Each of the contenders brought their A-game today (even @inksptsgulliver who hasn’t been on Twitter much of late). It was a real treat watching my feed today and each of these matches was extremely close.
My metric is a secret, much like Nate Silver’s algorithms. I plugged everyone into a program I wrote but can’t share and what follows is the result. Just trust me, it’s legit.
I wish none of them had to face each other and could continue in the tournament. But, this is the Thunderdome, not some new-age children’s sports league where everyone gets a trophy. Losing builds character.
This was the Harvard-Yale match-up of the day. Two super smart PhDs getting after it, no holds barred. On the one hand, @drfarls is an avowed navalist and supporter of my beloved Corps. Combined with the fact that @texasinafrica doesn’t acknowledge white queso as the supreme form of melted cheese, and @drfarls has the strong advantage here. But, my vote goes to @texasinafrica—her irrational hatred of white queso notwithstanding—for a couple of reasons. One, she stated her unequivocal support for sleeves up, and two, I was given an order to vote for her by my twitter squad leader @brettfriedman and I followed it.
These two middleweights sparred without interruption all day. The stamina of these two young guns was impressive. @hayesbrown scored major points by conducting an insider cyber attack, tweeting out an endorsement for himself under his opponent’s handle. Such bold, daring action will go down in TFC lore. But, @zackbeauchamp is a fellow alumnus of the LSE and his feed is my go-to feed when I start longing IR410 and need a dose of political theory. Sorry, @hayesbrown.
The heavyweights, battle of the beards. At one point, @inksptsgulliver was fighting a two-front war against @tweetsintheme and his proxy, the recently vanquished @daveedgr. In my judgment, @inksptsgulliver fought both his opponents to a draw, and since he was fighting two people, he gets my vote. @tweetsintheme’s consolation prize is acceptance to Columbia University’s PhD program so I think he’ll be okay. Congrats, Andrew
I didn’t start following @lesley_warner until I saw that I would be judging her. She was highly impressive. She even used cupcakes (!!) against her opponent. And she put a DoD press release in my feed announcing the Marine’s lieutenant general officer assignments. Combined with @stephaniecarvin’s concession at the end of the night, @lesley_warner moves into the Sweet Sixteen, a Cinderella story.
@Blakehounshell vs. @Max_Fisher
It’s tough to beat Foreign Policy’s managing editor. As a first-seed pick, @BlakeHounshell certainly talks the talk and snarks the snark of Twitter Fight Club. But don’t underestimate dark horse candidate @Max_Fisher, who ekes out Hounshell in Klout 73-72.
It’s a close call when Time Magazine has named both as one of their top 140 Twitter feeds to follow. But @Max_Fisher didn’t sue me after Twitter Fight Club 2011, in which I appeared naked in a locker room with him in an Oscar-winning Xtranormal video, all while flinging insults towards his mother. Not getting sued is worth something in my book.
@JasonFritz1 vs. @Khanserai
TFC newcomer Khanserai is putting up quite a fight this round against TFC veteran @JasonFritz1. TFC criteria doesn’t specifically mention evaluations based on beards, but, as we all know, perennial TFC finalists have been heavy on the facial hair.
With that said, @Khanserai has made an impressive beard showing against former US Cavalry officer @JasonFritz1, who mistakenly referred to the US Army’s anti-beard regulation as AR 370-1. So, fewer cool points there.
@JasonFritz1 definitely has the edge in military science and operational art, while @Khanserai has foreign affairs down pat.
But in the final analysis, every father needs to be able to look his daughter’s suitors in the eye and threaten them with something. Kids today won’t remember what that whole Iraq War thing was all about. But mention that you were a Twitter Fight Club champion, and I guarantee your daughter will be home by 2200 hours.
@SpeechBoy71 vs. @EmptyWheel
With a Klout score of 71, Marcy Wheeler, or @EmptyWheel, as she’s known on Twitter, is a force to be reckoned with. She’s responsive, and as articulate as 140 characters will allow her.
But then we have Michael Cohen, a former speechwriter for a US Ambassador and a senator. It takes a sad, pathetic troglodyte to write speeches (I know, I’m living proof). But, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. But with his penchant for ghost-writing, who’s to say he’s not the genius behind @drunkenpredator, or Taliban leader Mullah Omar at @AskTheTaliban? In fact, it’s entirely possible @SpeechBoy71 has Tweet-writers of his own.
Winner: @SpeechBoy71’s speechwriter
@AbuAardvark vs. @LRozen
This was a tough one, as I’ve been fans of both for years.
Marc Lynch, or “Abu Aardvark” to the world, is one of Twitter’s best experts on the Middle East. And his account is replete with the necessary snark, to boot.
Laura Rozen, on the other hand, has had a wildly successful career at several outlets, where she’s currently a contributor to Al-Monitor, one of the most influential news sites on the Middle East.
They’re both talented and knowledgeable; and though Abu Aardvark’s expertise is more specified, Laura’s background gives her a broader knowledge base is more broad. Still, Abu Aardvark has the necessary snark to put him over the top. Laura Rozen? Well, she’s become a respectable journalist
Alas, the Hebraic celebration of the pascal lamb, or something, limited today’s Twitter Fight Club adjudicating; I found myself down to the proverbial wire, streaming TFC contestant feeds for missed bribes, discreet baby photos, and Instagrammed versions of the Passover meal. Prior to the Thrilling 34′s kickoff, I specified the terms of my support: babies, Passover jokes, tweets in poetic form (haikus, rap couplets, excerpted sonnets), and food porn. By this criteria, which is the best criteria, y’all better recognize, the Southwestern field lacked substance, style, and panache. The field’s poor performance notwithstanding, let’s take a qualitative, process-traced peak at each matchup.
(1) @blakehounshell vs. (8) max_fisher
Let’s be real: this matchup was a non-event. I mean that colloquially, as well as epistemologically: it’s difficult to know, at a very fundamental level, whether Blake Hounshell, that wizard of the baby photo, and Max Fisher, a bearded ninja of aggregated foreign policy analysis, actually acknowledge TFC’s existence. This is all well and good, as they’re much too successful for our lowly potshots, but their epistemic emptiness leaves the committed TFC spectator with a deep, pervasive sense of melancholy. As far as TFC is concerned, Blake and Max’s exchanges read like a Samuel Beckett play, if Samuel Beckett had written a Dan Harmon Community episode:
All in all, though, I suspect Blake’s @DavidYHounshell’s “parody” account, a transparent attempt to subtweet a TFC victory, takes the cake. One day, Blake will be unseated, but this will not be that day. Victor: @blakehounshell.
(5) @speechboy71 vs. (4) emptywheel
In contrast to the top-seed context, @speechboy71, the pugilistic Michael Cohen, vs. @emptywheel, Marcy Wheeler’s intrepid avatar, is a bit harder to judge. Ultimately, any qualitative analysis carries a normative bias, and value-based judgments are, to a certain extent, inevitable. If you read my feed, I’m transparently a Yankee, both in sports affiliation (1998 was my first season-of-interest) and in my perspectives towards the sub-Mason-Dixon. As far as I can tell, @emptywheel was tweeting from eastern Kentucky, where I never hope to visit.
Meanwhile, she tossed barbs at @speechboy71 for enjoying a New York birthday dinner, the menu of which included a halibut dish with truffles, Yukon gold potatoes, and leeks. I spent the past week enjoying a filet mignon of horse from Montreal’s Joe Beef, so color me unimpressed by @emptywheel’s vitriolic screed. Victor, on culinary grounds: @speechboy71.
(11) @JasonFritz1 vs. (14) @khanserai
Another toughie, which included more baby photos than the last two, but focused too much on @khanserai’s allegedly fabricated facial hair. I appreciated @JasonFritz1′s variety, which managed to swing between the varied poles of Twitter Awesome. “Oh, a NYRB thought-piece on religious secularism? LET ME TOSS IT AT @KHANSERAI LIKE A SUPER SMASH BROS. CAPSULE.” No big deal, as they say. If the Southwestern round, in general, lacked reflections of Twitter’s artistic capabilities, @JasonFritz1′s tweets were the closest thing to it: there’s something inherently majestic about an Army vet who, after tweeting a baby photo, drops “hirsute” like it’s everybody’s business. Also, @JasonFritz1′s “bowties are cool” moment. Despite @khanserai’s indispensable commentary on countering violent extremism, the victor is clear: @JasonFritz1.
While I do appreciate that Blake brought Waffle Day to my attention, he brought it to my attention on the day I am should be tossing all leavened products from my house. Fail. And the side of his head is sorta blurry in his avatar; clean it up, hippie.
Max, on the other hand, made me less afraid of North Korea AND has a serious beard. Also Blake admitted to being a stupid head, and to his TFC opponent no less:
Clearly, Blake is not ready for TFC primetime. Also he beat me in TFC12. It’s been a year in the making, but VENGEANCE IS FINALLY MINE! Ish.
Blergh I don’t know. There’s a cute kid and a bulldog, and there’s a lady saying blowjob on the teevee, and somebody was promising bourbon and now it’s 9:37p and I have no bribebourbon (bribourbon?) so I’m giving this one to the bulldog. I like bulldogs. Also, @speechboy71 follows me and neither @emptywheel or her sidekick do, so I’m pretty sure that bourbon isn’t forthcoming, and there’s nothing I like less than unfulfilled promises of bourbon.
(11) jasonfritz1 (14) khanserai
This was the only match worth watching today. This was delightful, almost on par with the truly epic last round of #TFC11, except nobody promised me a pony and a gun this time.
Okay. Judging. I guess that’s what I’m here for. Let’s get down to brass tacks here and talk about what matters in Twitterfightclub: facial hair. It’s like this is the only pair in this entire division that gets it. Behold!
This is an unsolvable matrix of beardy greatness. Except for that top right corner, which, let me repeat:
But the bottom right makes up for it. But JFritz’s concrete beard had me laughing inappropriately loudly every time I looked at it. So conflicted! Even Jason’s baby doesn’t know who to pick:
But y’know, @khanserai really pulled all out the stops today and throughout #TFC13, and I gotta respect that. There were more than a few low blows, and some serious dedication to picking fights with otherwise-placid opponents. And isn’t that what twitterfighting is all about? The rest of the field could take some tips from this lady. But let’s all stick with concrete beards in the future, shall we? Much obliged.
Ugh, I can’t. @abuaardvark didn’t even show up today. It’s like he’s on vacation or something.
Yes. Yes, I am jealous, and also I found @lrozen’s tweets today rather useful. So point to Rozen. I guess. Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.
(and but seriously, can we just have a JFritz/HKhan rematch next round? kthx.)
(1) @blakehounshell vs. (8) @max_fisher
A slow start from these two heavyweights. The only acknowledgement that TFC13 was even going on was a couple of half-hearted replies to the endorsement of @blakehounshell by Twitterfighting mercenary @AbuMuqawamaPMC. But it was @Max Fisher who struck first (sort of): while largely ignoring the competition, he did come on strong with a not-so-humblebrag about his own influence:
Unbeatable combo. This round goes to @blakehounshell.
(5) @speechboy71 vs. (4) @emptywheel
At least there was some head-to-head twitterfighting in this matchup in which the competitors actually acknowledged both each other and the existence of the tournament. That fact alone was almost enough to make me ignore the otherwise mild nature of the slap-fight between these two … but then it turned out that they were fighting over who hated the Yankees more, which is like arguing over who hates going to the dentist more: sure, everyone agrees with you, but it’s justzzzzzzzzzzzzz … And then the “fight” drifted into who was a True Detroit Lions fan andzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz …
In the end, this one was something of a toss-up. In fact, I was going to come up with some silly and arbitrary factor like making a joke about how @speechboy71’s Twitter handle sounds like a high school junior’s Hotmail address from 1997. Luckily, @emptywheel saved me from having to do that (and you from having to read it) by teaming up with @bmaz in the late afternoon to engage in some flagrantly overt bribery. I’m not above admitting that I can be bought, and at least she made an effort. Easy winner: @emptywheel.
(11) @JasonFritz1 vs. (14) @khanserai
Despite claiming the handicap of having to attend an all-day conference during Round 2 (or DID she??), @khanserai started off very strong, throwing down the gauntlet by reprising her successful Round 1 tactic of providing TFC13 voters with a convenient Top Ten list of reasons to vote for her. Shameless self-promotion and pandering? Check and check. Better still was @khanserai’s judo-like flipping of @JasonFritz1’s strengths–going so far as to use his own newborn daughter against him. That is ice cold.
Eking out a Round 1 victory by the sheer weight of popular votes from his 20,000+ followers, @abuaardvark was a complete no-show for Round 2. And sorry, I don’t want to hear lame-ass excuses like “I’m on vacation in Italy” or “I don’t have internet access.” Tough luck, dude. Gotta play to win. Not that there was much direct engagement activity from @lrozen either, but at least she tweeted something. Solidifying this judge’s vote, @lrozen tweeted and translated a couple news items in Russian–and I’m a sucker for foreign languages, so there you have it.
@blakehounsell—His tweets are a good of FP mag and non FP mag, and seems to always tweets stories that are in depth and fun to read.
@speechboy71—I made my decision primarily on charisma. I just like the pictures of the baby with bulldogs, mixed in with insightful tweets.
@JasonFritz1— I find myself relying on him for insights about civ-mil relations and how they work in the US. Also I’m a closet CvC minutiae fan.
@lrozen– Her tweets are always a mix of insight, policy granularity, and she is always receptive to up and comers.
Welcome to round two of TFC13! After a wild and crowded start, we are settling in to the heart of the tournament this week. The second round will play out today and tomorrow, and by Friday, we will have our Final Four!
In the second round, there are five judges for each ‘region.’ The panel’s judgment will count for 50% of the vote, with each judge representing 10% of the overall total. The other 50% is based on the popular vote via the public polls below, so make sure to cast your votes! The judging panels for today are as follows:
Today’s matches include a Washington Post/Foreign Policy showdown between @max_fisher and @blakehounshell, a killer matchup of Think Progress young guns @zackbeauchamp and @hayesbrown, and upstart 15 seed @lesley_warner’s second shot at an upset. The judges will be deciding half of the scores; you’ll be deciding the rest! Vote now!