Given that history was made on UChicago’s campus last week, I thought that it would behoove me to comment on what hundreds of us witnessed in person, and what the rest of the world viewed on a livestream.
I am, of course, referring to the 68th Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate (disclaimer: I have never heard the word “Hamantash” in my life, but instead of using the [correct] word, Hamantashen, I will be consistent with the event, out of deference to its historic nature).
Since I was toiling extensively before, during, and after the event, I didn’t have the honor of witnessing the entire debate, but I did see most of it, and to the chagrin of just about everyone, live-tweeted it.
Since this was my first debate ever, I had no idea what to expect, so for the few people alive who didn’t witness it, I will briefly summarize the format.
In true UChicago fashion, instead of it being an actual debate, it took the form of several professors giving a lecture about their area of expertise, and tying into that lecture exactly why the Latke or the Hamantash (both are proper nouns, of course) is superior, as well as why the other is a satanic creation.
As we were told from the onset, this debate amounted to nothing short of a debate about the meaning of life itself, because the gematriyah (if this term means nothing to you, you probably didn’t have a Jewish education) of both Latke and Hamatash (eventually) equals 18, which of course, symbolizes life.
One of the first debaters was (as I recall), a philosophy professor (or something similar to that), and his argument revolved around (not surprisingly) the Socratic Method, reinforcing the importance of paying attention in Sosc class.
When the particle physicist took the stage, I was completely lost, but that’s okay, because when he was introduced, he was told his profession is one of abject loneliness, so that made me feel slightly better.
It was fascinating to learn that, in the context of the normal life of a particle physicist, Latkes and Hamatashen have a tendency to take over the note-taking process.
I also learned the critical lesson that protons in fact contain Microhamatashen, a fact that surely would have helped me out in physics back in the day.
The next professor asked the critical question of whether this debate as a whole is even applicable under Common Core standards, then argued that regardless, Euclid appears to have supported the Hamatash, as his writings clearly state.
Critically, UChicago’s US News and World Report ranking was brought into this argument (don’t know what it is? Look it up. We’re proud).
The debate all but ended when Austan Goolsbee took the stage. Since just about everyone at UChicago is an Econ major (or thinks they have what it takes to be an Econ major), it was fitting that he was, by far, the best.
He referenced Reagan early on, which is always a good idea.
He then mocked how even Google thinks that UChicago is the University of Illinois at Chicago.
This usage of Google was strategic, because he pointed out the plethora of ways Google proves the superiority of Team Latke, based on how popular the search is in Google, then contrasting that with the utter lack of searches of all things Hamantashen (including that no one has ever, in the history of the world, Googled “I love prunes”).
As if that wasn’t enough, he conclusively proved that Hamatash fans caused the financial crisis.
To make matters even worse, they also support terrorism.
As soon as he said “if you vote for Hamantashen the terrorists have won,” he could have just dropped the mic, because this debate was over…except that it wasn’t.
Unfortunately for the two professors after Goolsbee, they had to follow the star of the show and their arguments were mostly lost on the audience. This also appears to have been the longest debate in the history of debates, so people left.
After it was over, the question was left to the audience, who voted overwhelmingly for Latkes, by a count of 203-100.
The viewers who remained were treated to some lukewarm latkes (of which I had eight) and unusual hamantashen (of which I attempted to have one).
This is a classic UChicago way of ending the debate, because what was argued amounted to the idealized Latke and Hamantash, but the real world sometimes spoils even the best theories out there.
The real question of the night (that everyone at UChicago will understand) was: that’s all great in practice, but how does it taste in theory?
Final Note: I rarely (if ever) embed as many tweets in an article as I did here, but since my coverage was so stellar (if I say so myself) that even UChicago retweeted one of them, I figured it would be acceptable to share them for the few people alive who didn’t see them the first time. On that note, thanks to @UChicagoHillel for retweeting basically everything I posted.
Now that all of this has been said, who won? We all know the media isn’t biased, so I’ll let you be the judge of that (hint: it was Team Latke).
Now, as if all of that wasn’t enough, here is the video of the entire debate, just in time for the holidays!