A site of endless curiosity

Technology, History, and Commentary on Amateur Radio

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Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought.
– Albert Szent-Gyorgi

The most eclectic Amateur Radio site on the Internet

…One of the essays, by Susan J. Douglas, looks at the excitement set off by Marconi’s introduction of radio – the “wireless telegraph” – to the American public in 1899.

“Wireless held a special place in the American imagination precisely because it married idealism and adventure with science,” she writes.

Popular Science Monthly observed: “The nerves of the whole world are, so to speak, being bound together, so that a touch in one country is transmitted instantly to a far-distant one.” Implicit in this organic metaphor was the belief that a world so physically connected would become a spiritual whole with common interests and goals….

The rise of wireless also set off a popular movement to democratize media, as hundreds of thousands of “amateur operators” took to the airwaves. It was the original blogosphere. “On every night after dinner,” wrote Francis Collins in the 1912 book Wireless Man, “the entire country becomes a vast whispering gallery.”

Listen to Amateur Radio in real-time, now, this very moment, on-line here

Burn a feed to this site (RSS) –
(What the heck is RSS?  Watch this and find out in 3 min. 45 sec.)

Written by frrl

September 3, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s Worth Doing?

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I abandoned this site 3 years ago.

Recently, I checked the e-mail associated with this blog and found hundreds of comments needing approval.  So, people are still reading this site. About 1 million hits since I started this blog.

I re-read some of the articles I wrote.  It’s hard to recognize them.  I wonder what it means if you read things you wrote in the past and hardly recognize your own writing.

YouTube Celebs and Forrest Gump

When I look at the channels of YouTube celebrities that I used to follow, I wonder how long they can do the same thing – over and over again.  At what point do you say to yourself, “I need to do something else”.  And, what is that something else?

I am reminded of a scene from the movie Forrest Gump.  Forrest just decides to run and run; and run some more.  His running makes him into a celebrity.  He runs for three years across the United States and many people follow him on his runs.   Then, just as mysteriously as Forrest started running, he stops running.

What is the magic thing that happens when Forrest says, “I’m pretty tired.  I think I’m going home now”.

Knowing when to move on…

Many people do things far beyond when they make sense.  These folks get caught in a cycle of endless repetition, perhaps in a state of mindlessness.  It’s a comfortable repetition and maybe this is the trap – comfort, being safe and comfortable in what you do.

Other than comfort, maybe it’s momentum.  Some YouTube celebs might get caught up in this, and far worse, be dragged across the media topic landscape by what their followers find interesting.  “Subscribers” are the pied pipers; content providers are the hapless rats and children.

Worse than that, some people do things that aren’t worth doing.  Sheldon Cooper from the sitcom Big Bang Theory knows that.

So, what’s worth doing?  How do you know?
When do you stop?  What’s next?
How do you measure your progress for time invested?

Written by frrl

December 3, 2016 at 9:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

What are this? What are all of this?

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There are lots of interesting things in the world.  For some people they represent an amazing number of possibilities. For other people, they remain disengaged and never see the potential and possibility of things.

Some people in their 50’s don’t have a computer or don’t have a smart phone. I know better than to ask them why.  And I know better than to encourage them to get either or both.

People now in their 50’s were in their 20’s or 30’s when computers became readily available in the consumer market in the 1980’s. If they didn’t see the potential of it then, and henceforth for the following 30 or so years, then they will not see the potential of it now. It would be a disservice to try to convince them otherwise.

The world divides itself in this way.  Those who see, and those who do not see;  those who see the potential of things and those who don’t.  Those who have curiosity and those where curiosity is seriously muted.  Intervention should not be allowed to try to change those who do not have sight into those that do.  That is the way of the World.

So, I thought about all this when I came across this YouTube video from Jenna Marbles… “What are this?”

So watch this video and wonder how people divide themselves similar to Jenna’s two dogs – Kermit and Marbles

  1. Those who see all the things, objects, and ideas in the world yet comprehend little or none of it.
  2. Those who, as Jenna describes the behavior of her other dog, Just bark or want food”.
  3. And those who do see the potential of things, make video’s and wonder why people (or dogs) must differentiate themselves into these groups in the first place

After you watch, read a related article – Vintage Steve Jobs: Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal
and Releasing Innovation by Breaking Paradigms: seeing what no one else can see

Written by frrl

October 20, 2013 at 5:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chromecast – Barbarians at the gate

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If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last five minutes (in Internet time), you probably know about Google’s Chromecast.

Chromecast is a $35 HDMI dongle that hangs off the back of your TV set.  It allows you to stream YouTube, Netflix, and just about anything you can view in your Chrome browser to your TV.  This is nothing new.  A modern TV with wireless can do the same thing.

I am not going to review the Chromecast – there are already hundreds or thousands of those.

But I am going to tell you what I thought about when I hooked mine up.


A television is an end device.  By this I mean that a traditional television set has been a specialized device that only certain content can appear on.  In the old days, about five or so years ago, you had to be someone special to get content to a television.  You had to be a “Network” (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc) or a cable provider delivering content such as AMC, CNN, CNBC, and so on.  To have content on a television, you had to have millions of dollars.  Development of television programs was done by professionals and it cost millions of dollars to produce and distribute.

The same was true with books.  In the old days, before self-publishing and easy global distribution on if you picked up a book you kinda knew that someone (the author(s)) probably spent a year of so researching and writing the content.    There was a tacit assumption of professionalism.  We had corporate entities called “publishers” that filtered the good from the bad.

What about radio?  The physical end device called a “radio” was like a television end device.  To be heard on a traditional radio station meant that you had hundreds of thousands of dollars and the value of the content was somehow commensurate with the cost of the broadcast capability.

Assembly of the Hordes

Anyone can offer an e-book on Amazon and get global distribution.  And anyone can put a video on YouTube and get global distribution.  If you listen to “radio” as Internet streams you know that anyone can be a broadcast radio station with global distribution.  The cost of the global distribution of content is approaching $0.

What has changed, is that there is no longer a vetting process for what we have traditionally understood as books, radio, and television – and lets add journalism to this as well.  The Wall Street Journal web site can appear in a tab in your browser next to any blogger on the Internet.


So when I hooked up the Chromecast to my television I knew that the Barbarians were at the gate.  My television end device is no longer a gatekeeper on the quality of content (with all respect to Newton Minow) and now a video of “a cat flushing a toilet” can appear on the same device as AMC’s Mad Men.

The Take

It may be an odd thing to say, but I think it’s true.  The traditional role of radio, television, and books was to serve as a coherent guideposts for the culture.  In a certain sense, before all this new media, we (the society and the culture) were “all on the same page”.  We all watched, listened to, and read the same limited variety of content on the television end device, the radio end device, and books and newspapers guarded by publishers distributed on paper.

But now, these “filters of coherency” have been breached by modern technology.  Content from everyone and everywhere washes over us like a tsunami on all devices.

With no gatekeepers there will be a chaos.  And in chaos, people wander aimlessly.

At $35, Chromecast has breached the walls of my television set.  The last bastion of protection is your own mind and decision-making.  There will be no “cats flushing a toilet’ on my television anytime soon.  Hope I can say the same about you when you hookup Chromecast to your TV.

Read More…

FCC Chairman Newton Minow 50 years later: a vaster wasteland


Written by frrl

September 29, 2013 at 5:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Draw my Life

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At this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not.

We wait. We are bored. No, don’t protest, we are bored to death, there’s no denying it. Good. A diversion comes along and what do we do? We let it go to waste. Come, let’s get to work! In an instant all will vanish and we’ll be alone once more, in the midst of nothingness!

– Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

We have gone from the industrial age to the information age and now we’re in the connection age.  Clearly, some people find their identity, passion and their salvation as YouTube celebrities.

I wonder what could be said of the 10 million connected subscribers to Jenna’s YouTube channel.  No doubt, they themselves are Waiting for Godot.

Written by frrl

July 18, 2013 at 5:30 am

Is the ARRL ready for the Second Century? Part I

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Next year, the ARRL will mark the 100th anniversary of its founding with a year long celebration including a Centennial National Convention in Hartford, where it all began.  We are proud of what has been accomplished in the first century of the ARRL’s existence.  What’s in store for the second?
— QST June 2013; ARRL CEO David Summer (K1ZZ)

QST magazine is the official publication of the ARRL.  The ARRL’s mission is: “To promote and advance the art, science and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.”

QST has a column, written by CEO David Summer (K1ZZ), called “It seems to Us”

The subject of the June 2013 QST “It Seems to Us” was titled: Building For Our Second Century.

In 2014 the ARRL will be 100 years old.

In the article, CEO Summer recounts some of the history of the ARRL from its beginning including ARRL’s evolving  role as the principle advocate for Amateur Radio to government.

Summer goes on to say that there are tens of thousands of people “…whose lives and careers have been enriched beyond measure” and that we need to recognize “a great debt to those who came before us, who did the difficult and sometimes thankless work of building and sustaining a national association to promote and advance the art, science, and enjoyment of Amateur Radio”

The ARRL Second Century Campaign

The rest of the article is about the ARRL Second Century Campaign.  The vision statement of the ARRL SCC  includes “securing significant financial resources to fund the ARRL’s commitment to its future objectives”.

The article ends by stating the fundraising goal of $10 million by December 31, 2014 and with this statement

None of us can know the specific challenges our association will face in the future or the opportunities that may arise for the ARRL to make Amateur Radio even more valuable as a community and national resource.  But we know this: Our predecessors made great sacrifices so we can enjoy te benefits of Amateur Radio.  We owe the same opportunities to the generations of radio amateurs that will follow us”.

Everyone who reads the QST article will pick out certain aspects based on their background, experience, and interests.

There are very few books written on the history of Amateur Radio and the ARRL.  In a sense, the history of Amateur Radio is the history of the ARRL.  An older book on the history of Amateur Radio and the ARRL ( I should just assume these are coextensive) is: Fifty Years of ARRL  published by the ARRL.  This book covers the beginnings of the ARRL to about 1950.

A more recent book is: The World of Ham Radio: 1901-1950 by Richard A Bartlett

Both these books cover the first fifty years of the ARRL.  But it is interesting to note that Bartlett’s book was published in 2007.

The missing 50 years of the ARRL (1950 – present)

The casual reader may ask the question, if Bartlett’s book was written in 2007 why did he stop writing about Amateur Radio and the ARRL as if some sort of catastrophe had occurred and both the ARRL and Amateur Radio are of little interest beyond1950?  Did Amateur Radio and the ARRL disappear in the 1950’s?

Bartlett has an answer

Why end this book as of the year 1950?  It is because the story of ham radio’s development essentially takes place in the first fifty years of the twentieth century.  Having been created, accepted, regulated, and achieved permanent status by 1950, the story after that becomes one primarily of repetition.  The one great exception is in the area of technology, and save for minimal descriptions necessary to the story, that has not been our concern.

The last page of the last chapter of Richard Bartlett’s book ends with this:

Time passes on, and the old guard gives way to the newcomers.  In November 1948 death came to Kenneth Bryant Warner, who for nearly thirty years was secretary and general manager of the ARRL.  “It was Maxim who conceived our League, it as Warner  who breathed into it life and energy and vitality, whose balanced judgement and clear vision ensured its growth and success,” reads his obituary. “With his passing we suffer the loss of a great leader, an untiring servant in the cause of amateur radio.”  p. 230 The World of Ham Radio 1901-1950

That’s the end of the story for Bartlett.  In 1950’s and beyond, the ARRL and Amateur Radio entered a state of repetition with no forward progress of the ARRL or Amateur Radio worthy of mention in any following chapters.

Poised for the Second Century?

Posted on the ARRL website regarding CEO David Summers K1ZZ findings (emphasis mine)

Mr. Sumner reported on his research into “state of the art” strategic planning by large membership associations. Perhaps because of the negative impact of the financial upheavals of 2008 and the revolution in electronic publishing, at this time there appears to be no consensus among associations as to the value of strategic planning or the best way for associations to go about it. The ARRL Board last updated the organization’s strategic plan in 2009 and normally would conduct an in-depth review three to five years later. The committee discussed the perceived shortcomings of past strategic planning efforts along with possible improvements. Without taking a formal decision the committee concluded that while strategic planning remains important to the ARRL, planning for a successful Centennial celebration in 2014 is the current priority. A fresh approach to strategic planning should be taken immediately afterward.

The Take (non-Profits)

… We are proud of what has been accomplished in the first century of the ARRL’s existence.  What’s in store for the second?  — ARRL CEO David Summer

Many of us get calls all the time asking for a monetary donation to a worthy cause.  Generally, I ask them what they are going to do with the money.  In most cases, the person doing the solicitation does not know much of anything about how the money will be invested or used by the organization.  These folks are generally just doing the solicitation and are not ready to answer this question.  Understood and accepted.

So the next step, if you want to find out how your money will be invested or used by the organization, is to go to the organization’s web site and check out their strategic plan, programs and initiatives, and the track record of results they have achieved to date.  Some organizations do this better than others.  Many organizations use the Balanced Scorecard along with all the details to show how all the parts of the organization fits together (strategy, operating model, alignment, metrics, measures, etc.)  to deliver its goals in service of the mission.

No matter what model of strategic planning you use, or how you show the tangible benefits, the existence of these assets gives potential donors (monetary, or time as a volunteer) some confidence that the money (or their time commitment)  will in fact be used effectively to further the mission of the organization to the stakeholders.

Creating a sense of confidence for donors

The (historical) absence of these assets is not helping the ARRL Second Century Campaign.  The history of ARRL’s strategic planning effort has been troubled for years.  Further adding questions about the  Second Century Campaign is the statement made by CEO David Summer K1ZZ on the ARRL web site quoted above.  And most recently in the June 2013 QST article (emphasis mine)

None of us can know the specific challenges our association will face in the future or the opportunities that may arise for the ARRL to make Amateur Radio even more valuable as a community and national resource.

This statement strikes me as profound

Is this to say that we “throw up our hands”, not have a plan, and live day-by-day just because we can not know, with (technical) certainty, what the future will hold? It is exactly this situation of imperfect information and an uncertain future where CEO’s and executive leadership can shine.  It is exactly this situation where CEO’s can differentiate themselves by being able to navigate these uncharted waters to identify opportunities which the organization can exploit to move it forward.

Some CEO’s see the same event either as threat or opportunity.  In the 1990’s, Jeff Bezos of saw the potential of the internet for selling books that no traditional bookseller could see – it was the beginning of the demise of the traditional bookseller.  In 1979 Steve Jobs saw at Xerox PARC the potential of a graphical user interface for personal computers that no Xerox executive could see.  David Sarnoff saw the potential for wireless “one-to-many broadcasting” and built the RCA corporation.  In this same vein, what in the current environment does the ARRL see as its opportunity?

Restoring confidence in the ARRL and Amateur Radio’s future

The ARRL could help its cause in its Second Century Campaign by having “in hand” a plan when asking for monetary donation.  Or better, to have a story to tell  to potential donors about what the ARRL has accomplished since “The First Fifty years” up to the present.  What is the compelling vision of the future for the ARRL and Amateur Radio – who the ARRL is and why they matter in the current context where always-on wireless global connectivity is available to nearly everyone on the planet.  What is the strength of ARRL executive management team and what is the record of their accomplishments?  What executive “bench strength” has the ARRL accumulated over the years?  Treat the ARRL Century Campaign as a VC (Venture Capital) due diligence test and you will probably know all the questions a major donor would ask.

Messaging – Perception is Reality

The combination of Richard A Bartlett’s sentiments quoted above about “50 years of ARRL repetition with no forward progress worthy of mention”, CEO David Summer’s statement that “there appears to be no consensus among associations as to the value of strategic planning or the best way for associations to go about it” and his most recent statementNone of us can know the specific challenges… or the opportunities that may arise” does not give one confidence that the ARRL knows its destiny or that our donation will be used effectively.”

In essence, the messaging and perception might be: we don’t see the value of having a forward-looking plan; don’t know how to create one – we are waiting on a consensus from others to tell us how to do that; and we are not sure of the challenges or opportunities that face our organization today or in the future.  Will this motivate any potential donor to open their wallet and give a large donation?  “Repetition of yesterday”  is the easy way out of this conundrum – but it won’t inspire anyone.

The role of the CEO and executive leadership

There are opportunities and challenge every day!  The role of the CEO and executive leadership is to diagnose the situation and trends – to “see around corners”.  It’s an exercise in CEO and executive leadership analysis, choices, and direction setting followed by execution – allocating resources, aligning people to measurable goals and outcomes, and holding them accountable.  The formula is pretty simple.  The devil is in the details and discipline of execution.  The ability to navigate and accomplish all of this, and to be transparent to stakeholders all along the way,  is a differentiator among CEO’s in any industry.  Even if an organization has a strategic plan, the majority fail in execution.

There is an old saying, “If you want to know the future, create it”.  We can learn this from anyone who taken advantage of disruption and changed an industry.  In a sense, uncertainty, disruption, imperfect knowledge is just what some CEO’s need to redefine and reposition their organization to lead in the future.  One only needs to look to Steve Jobs who, in 1996, snatched Apple out of near bankruptcy to make it the most valuable company in America in 2012.  In the process Apple redefined the personal computer industry, the music industry, and what we understand as a telephone.

Why can’t this apply to the ARRL?  Is it time for the ARRL to stop the “50 years of tiresome repetition” that inspire only a rare few of the up and coming generations?  Isn’t it time for the ARRL to re/position itself for the Second Century?

ARRL CEO David Summer titled his article “Building the Second Century“.  He thinks of this in terms of the primacy of a donor action of a financial contribution.  Where is the concomitant organizational action – long overdue?  Building denotes concept, design, architecture, and construction.  Show us the blueprint for the ARRL Cathedral of the Second Century.  And only then, will major donors fund your enterprise.

Read more

The work of one such organizational architect

American Radio Relay League – The Future Mission
December 12, 2003 by Richard Kiefer, K0DK

Amateur Radio: Projecting an image of ham radio to 7 million people in 22 minutes

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The Opportunity

Episode 17 of Last Man Standing (wikipedia) depicted the use of Amateur Radio.  The ARRL gave the Amateur Radio community early notice that Amateur Radio would be depicted in a major prime time sitcom.  Many amateur radio folks were looking forward to watching this episode.

The episode aired in March, 2013.  For many hams, it was not what they expected.  One could ask, what sort of image did the script writers project of Amateur Radio and what do seven million people now think of Amateur Radio?  One could also ask, what is the power of the ARRL in influencing the public messaging and image of Amateur Radio?  The ARRL spends some portion of its budget on PR.  Did episode 17 of Last Man Standing enhance or detract from that messaging, “brand building”, and PR by the ARRL?

Impressions from the Amateur Radio community

You can look to the ARRL forums for some discussions.  Three months after airing, there are only 4 comments on the official ARRL forum.  Only three of those comments contained any real content and analysis.

Here they are:  (

“ABC Comedy Last Man Standing Episode 17”  It was disappointing in how Ham Radio was depicted.  This looked more like “CB Radio” and advertising for the equipment and the illegal Linear Amplifier shown. The average TV fan would assume that anyone could use these expensive radios to chat without having to type to their friends! According to the show, some of the writers/producers are Ham Operators and they know the requirements to become licensed. Being a 40+ year ARRL Life member, 20 WPM Extra Class licensed Ham, makes me wonder about the shows story line and how far they are going with it. Lastly, while Ham Operators enjoy the hobby, they also volunteer their services in disasters and various community events. KB3SM: a proud Old Ham…


Dear OM,

Our main page had a news story back on March 4th that announced the airing of this show. The spokesman of this show, who is an active Radio Amateur, warned us about the way Amateur radio was presented. From our news story, Mr. Amodeo says,:

“As a ham, I am very excited to be able to have an episode that presents our hobby in an upbeat and positive way,” Amodeo told the ARRL. “As a television producer, I am pleased to present a very funny episode for our more than 7 million viewers. This episode will feature more ham gear than seen in mainstream movies such as Frequency, Contact and Super 8 — all great films that had Amateur Radio in them. It’s worth noting that although hams will enjoy the episode, it was written with our 7 million non-ham viewers in mind. Please be prepared for some inconsistencies related to Amateur Radio, but enjoy the show nevertheless.”

I don’t watch this show, since I’m too busy to watch television, so I can’t comment on it. Wish we could come up with a show of our own, but we don’t have the resources.


Bob Allison


As a retired geezer, I did watch the show. It was a 30-minute sitcom, what do you expect? Answer: not much when it comes to “important content” regarding amateur radio — or anything else.

I noticed the “illegal” use of the radio by an unlicensed and unsupervised person, of course. It was irresponsible to say the least for a ham to leave his rig “live” in a house full of teenagers.

But I marveled at how the writers could weave radio and international QSOs into the plot in a very quick and (to the uninformed) believable way. I bet there are a lot of young people who now have a different impression of ham radio as an alternative to mindless texting, Facebooking, etc. It was artfully done, I’d say.

Not that I’m likely to watch again. I’m the wrong demographic!

If we had a “show of our own”, I’m sure it would not get 7 million viewers.

73 Martin AA6E
ARRL Technical Advisor
ARRL Test Engineer

Storyline and writers depiction of Amateur Radio

We can look a little deeper into what was depicted in this episode.

Amateur Radio was a sub-plot in the episode titled “The Fight”.  The daughter, Mandy was getting poor grades in high school.  So, the parents decided that the reason for this was that she was spending too much time using her computer and smart phone.  To remedy the situation the parents decide to take away Mandy’s computer and phone until she pulls up her grades.

Of course, Mandy recites the mantra of her generation when her parents take away her devices, “This is how people of my generation communicate and exchange ideas”.  Without her devices, Mandy is having withdrawal symptoms.

Mandy wanders into the basement trying to find out where her parents hid her devices.  On the shelf she comes across an old typewriter.  She mistakes the typewriter for a laptop with a missing monitor.

Across the room is her fathers Amateur Radio station.  It’s fired up and running.  So, she walks over to it, sits down, picks up the microphone and stats talking.

All the comments above made by Hams is dead on.  What she did was illegal – you need a license to use a ham radio or be “third party traffic” with a licensed amateur radio operation present at the radio.  Leaving a ham radio on and unattended  like that was irresponsible.  And finally, no one just walks up to a radio with a linear amplifier and just starts talking without doing some technical fiddling.

“Who Are You People?”

When Mandy starts talking on the Amateur Radio, other Hams come back to her.  She asks, “Who are you people?”  One ham responds that they are amateur radio operators and that people all over the world can hear what you say.  In response, Mandy says, “Oh, it’s like twitter but more advanced since you don’t have to type”

Mandy tries to use what she knows about Twitter on Ham Radio.  So, after talking, she “hash tags” her last sentence and gives permission to “Re-Ham” (Re-Tweet) what she just said.  The ham folks reply with “LOL Mandy.  Did I get that right?

The writers have set up the dialog to get a laugh out of the generation gap between Mandy (a millennial) and the amateur radio operators (Baby Boomer generation and older).  Both generations try to talk to each other across the generation gap by trying to use idioms and phrases they think the other generation would understand.  Mandy tries to adapt her generations terms and concepts (hash tags, re/tweet) to the language of hams (“Re/Ham that’).

The personal stories of World War II

Mandy is trying to do a paper for school on World War II.  A couple of Ham’s respond.

Mandy tells the hams she is working on a paper for school on World War II.  She gets two responses.  The first ham (Walter) says he was on Omaha beach (D-day invasion).  Mandy misunderstands this as Walter trying to tell her about his vacation.  The second ham, a woman says, “I remember the war like it was yesterday.  Better than yesterday since I’m in early stages of dementia.”

Again, the script writers play on the generation gap between Mandy and the amateur radio operators go get a laugh.  Anyone of age who was present in World War II to have personal stories to tell is now in their late 70’s or 80’s.  The writers throw in the comment by the Ham that she is suffering from “early dementia” for good measure – it got a laugh.

Mandy does her paper and her parents compliment her on the all the personal stories of World War II she has cited.  She got those stories from the ham radio operators who she talked to.  They were there in World War II.

The Take

This episode of Last Man Standing was seen by an estimated 7 million people.  What impression did the mainstream masses come away with of Amateur Radio?  That Amateur Radio is a legacy technology with a bunch of old people?  Perhaps.

The 2009 ARRL has set this strategic goal

The ARRL will have a membership in 2020 with 60% of the members being under the age of 40.

I have not seen them report on this progress.  But engaging young people is essential to their continued existence given that the average age for hams is late 50’s and into the early 60’s and 70’s.  Young people are heavily under represented in the Amateur Radio community.

Is this a crazy idea?

While watching episode 17 of Last Man Standing on the internet I got treated to a whole bunch of commercials.

I saw ads for Google, Verizon, Internet Explorer, Land Rover, Nokia, and Bank of America.

I was treated to an interactive ad for Nokia smart phone video stabilization.

There were two ads for cat food and one ad for a carpet company (Luna).

What I did not see was an ad for the ARRL, or for any amateur radio equipment.  Was there no company or organization associated with Amateur Radio for which it would make sense to squeeze a 15 second spot for Amateur Radio between the two cat food commercials or the carpet commercial for this episode where Amateur Radio played a role?

Of course, any ham will tell you, that it’s crazy to advertise amateur radio to the mainstream.  The key is to ask them why.  Further, given the episodes depiction of Amateur Radio an ad would be embarrassing to whatever company or organization placed it.

The lasting impression to  7 million people

Those 7 million people who watched the episode of Last Man Standing now know the term “Amateur Radio”.  They saw some nice (expensive) equipment.  They got a few laughs at Amateur Radio’s expense built on the generation gap between Mandy and the Hams.  Now they will go on with their life and forget about amateur radio or know it as some sort of quirky legacy technology ( in the same scene where they saw a typewriter) before the advent of always-on global communications available to nearly everyone on the planet.

For Amateur Radio to survive it’s about influence and impact.  But I think that the portrayal of Amateur Radio on Last Man Standing to the mainstream masses has now relegated Amateur Radio only to a technical curiosity easily forgotten.

As a ham, I am very excited to be able to have an episode that presents our hobby in an upbeat and positive way,” Amodeo told the ARRL…  It’s worth noting that although hams will enjoy the episode, it was written with our 7 million non-ham viewers in mind. Please be prepared for some inconsistencies related to Amateur Radio, but enjoy the show nevertheless.

How many chances does the ARRL get to reach 7 million non-hams in the Last Man Standing demographic with a 22 minute story at no cost to them?  This high stakes portrayal of Amateur Radio to the mainstream also gives us some insight into the ARRL’s influence (influence to a team of creative sitcom script writers?) and ability to mange the public image of Amateur Radio.

Written by frrl

June 3, 2013 at 2:33 am

“Ding Jinhao was here” What does it all mean?

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The vandal carved ‘Ding Jinhao was here’ in Chinese in the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple.Hong Kong (CNN) —

Parents of a 15-year-old Chinese tourist have apologized after the teenager defaced a stone sculpture in an ancient Egyptian temple with graffiti.The act drew ire in both Egypt and China — generating a massive online backlash amongst China’s unforgiving netizens.The vandal carved ‘Ding Jinhao was here’ in Chinese in the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple.

This morning, I heard a few people talking about this story.  Not so much about the facts of the incident, but what it means.

This event has a connection to a recent vblog on YouTube.  I posted a link to the vblog “The Aspirational Snobbery of Youth” and made a few comments here.

Celebrity and notoriety without love of the work or career

I listened to the vblog a few times, this is what I get out of it.

It’s not that vblog author Delboy  is complaining about the aspiration of youth (or anyone else , for that matter) as much as he is making the point that some people want to get it (money, status) without really working for it.  Delboy cites money as what drives people to take the short cut to fame – not love of the work or career.   For other people, it’s not so much money as it is status and notoriety. They want it… and they want  to get it doing as little work as possible.

On the backs of others accomplishments

So, 15-year-old Ding Jinhao decided to write his name on the wall of the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple in Egypt.  The Luxor Temple in Egypt is a major tourist attraction in Egypt.  I had the good fortune of visiting that temple in the past.

So, the intent seems to be, that by placing his name on the Luxor temple those visiting the temple will see the name “Ding Jinhao”.  No one would come to see Ding Jinhao.  But they would come to see the Luxor Temple.  And, the logic must be, by placing his name on the wall, Ding Jinhao will somehow get recognition / status / notoriety that would otherwise not be available to him.  It’s status or recognition by proxy.

Someone else (a whole cadre of other people) did the work of conceptualizing, designing, architecting, funding, and building the Luxor Temple.  Ding Jinhao did none of this. He took the easy route.  Put your name on (or over, deface) the work of others.

So, back to Delboy’s vblog.  As he says, some people want celebrity without paying their dues and doing the hard work.  Some cooks want to be called “Chef” – without training and without apprenticeship. Some people want to have the celebrity of a singer – but they can’t sing.  Some people imagine themselves as a train engineer driving a train – but really, all they are cut our for is to be a stoker.

People just are not satisfied with who they are.  In itself, being not satisfied with the status quo of who you are (now) is called “ambition”.  And that’s good – if you do the work to gain the competency and skills to deserve the notoriety of title or position.  It’s not good if you get your notoriety by taking short cuts – like taking the title without the competency or track record of success.  Or, simply by defacing the work of others – layering your name on the achievements of others or by hiding or destroying the work of your predecessors (see story of Amenhotep II below)

How it works in small organizations

You can see this same thing going on in small organizations.  If there is a diminished focus on results then anyone can take on any job title.  Notoriety and celebrity without the results.  In some, “once great organizations”, if the stakeholders are not vigilant in who they allow to become “celebrities” in the organization without results then it’s equivalent to allowing  the organization to be defaced.

The Take

So, if Ding Jinhao wanted celebrity and notoriety – he got it.  In the organizational context, those that “run them into the ground” because they have the title and not the talent to deliver results, then they will get the same sort of notoriety and celebrity that Ding Jinhao has now.  And history will certainly remember them.

Read More

The Aspirational Snobbery of Youth

Of Telegraphs, Telephones, Radios, and Organizational Momentum

Read about defacing the Temple of Isis in Philae here.

If your accomplishments are not that strong, destroy the work of those that came before you… (
Amenhotep II, the son of Thutmose III, who became a co-regent toward the end of his father’s reign, is suspected by some as being the defacer during the end of the reign of a very old pharaoh. He would have had a motive because his position in the royal lineage was not so strong as to assure his elevation to pharaoh. He is documented, further, as having usurped many of Hatshepsut’s accomplishments during his own reign. His reign is marked with attempts to break the royal lineage as well, not recording the names of his queens and eliminating the powerful titles and official roles of royal women such as, God’s Wife of Amun.

Written by frrl

June 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm

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