Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Twitter Fight Club Finale: the Quickening

Written on the plane to SFO from DC (what else would I do with six hours of my time)

There can be only one.  But will it be me?  I changed planes at Dulles Airport, and did not learn whether I won or lost my semi-final match.  I think I won for the simple reason that my adversary had a terrific day in real life—an Easter event at the White House and then kind of special dinner.  Yet he might have outpolled me or had gotten heaps of support from the judges with his tale of his kids at the White House (apparently, Defcon was changed from 4 to 2 thanks to the aggressive nature of Creep’s Easter Egg rolling) plus dining with one of the judges.  UPDATE: I won!  Woot!

I would like to have won as I learned from Dan Drezner’s post this morning that there is much glory and perhaps even a cool gift for coming in second.  Also, 2nd means that next year I get to be a judge and not a contestant.  Which means I can get work done next spring and revel in the schadenfreude. 

Have I given up?  Nay, but I am aware of the challenges facing me if I am, indeed, in the finale.  First, whichever combatant won the other semi-final is going to be mighty tough. TexasinAfrica has been the overwhelming favorite, not just in Vegas* but in the hearts and minds of those following the event (she is the COIN-master). 

*Her pre-tourney odds started at 5-1 as she was a top seed and showed tremendous prowess last year.  The updated odds were 2-1 as of Sunday.  I am guessing that if she won her seminal, the odds would now be 1-2. 

She combines expertise in all things Africa (apparently the hip place to be these days) with an enthusiasm that is just a wee bit over the top.  Plus she punches and counter-punches quickly and with much snark.  Also, she has 50% of the population cheering for her to beat this male-dominated field.  This year’s TFC had many more women in it, and several went quite far.  But previous finals have been sausage fests. 

Blakehounsell is the editor of Foreignpolicy.com, and thus commands much respect.  Well not for the damned listicles or pop-ups but for developing the best IR web outlet south of the Wall (CIC commands the North).  Many members of the twitterati publish at FP.com or aspire to do so. 

(As I type this, Life of Pi is showing on the screens in the plane—no choice on United.  I have not seen it before and only half paying attention, but is this movie really just Joe Vs. the Volcano with the tiger playing the Meg Ryan part?   Ok, new scene on the screen—make that Joe vs. LSD)

Either one would be an incredibly challenging foe.  While I have faced many mighty folks to get this far, I have been lucky.  I missed one high seed because he was flying and could not present his jaundiced view of IR and of his own food.  I ducked another who really is much closer to having it all than most folks.  If I won yesterday, it was in part due to the absence of the competitor (although I also prepared much and fought hard anyway). Still, this is my second deep run in #tfc13 in my two years in this competition, so it ain't all luck.

Making it yet more challenging are the circumstances facing me tomorrow: a conference in the US.  The conference means that I have limited time to devote to this effort.  I will be participating in one panel, attending a second (which I can live-tweet to an extent)* and having meetings all day long and then dinner with some of the defeated combatants (Speechboy and Dr.Farls) and some other folks.  So, I will certainly not be able to keep up the volume of tweets or be responsive.
*  The panel I will be attending stars some of the most dynamic and interesting people studying conflict: Erica Chenoweth, Will Moore, and Christian Davenport.  [Each has a newish blog (well, Erica has co-organized the relatively new mega-blog Political Violence @ a Glance that includes the other two plus me)].  So, they may provide much live-tweetable material.  Plus I know them, so they probably would not mind too much letting me make fun of them for the sake of #tfc13. 

The more difficult hurdle is this: as a resident of Canada, my cell phone roams when in the US.  The roaming rates are utterly brutal, far worse than for the American phones wandering through Canada.  Turns out the lack of competition impacts price—who would have thunk it?  What this means it that I will only be able to tweet in the presence of wifi.  The Hilton will have wifi but the lunch and dinner destinations most likely will not. 

Again, I have not given up.  I have some ideas about how to attack texasinafrica as her previous adversaries missed some vulnerabilities I have identified.  I am not sure how to attack blake since others have already attacked the weaknesses I have observed.  I will not able to generate and deploy as many memes like I did yesterday:

My schedule in SF gives me some time this afternoon and evening and tomorrow morning to prepare and maybe even schedule some tweets (after I figure it out).  All I got thus far is this:

I need to do better as victory tastes great.

So, if I won the semi-finals, follow me on Wednesday at @smsaideman and #tfc13 and vote for me at twitterfightclub.gunpowerandlead.com

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