Sunday, April 24, 2011

Survey Says...

Remember that old TV show called Family Feud when it was good? Yeah, me neither.

The hottest trend in reporting these days is the presentation of data in the form of big colorful graphs. Whether it’s showing how many people with size 8 shoes think the president is doing a wonderful job versus the number of left-handed albinos who think he isn’t, the infograph is a staple of modern journalism. This data is from the murky world of statistics, a branch of mathematics only slightly less confusing than new car warranty exceptions. Surveys and statistics have two really important attributes going for them that make them a lazy reporter/blogger/whatever’s dream: 1) 67.9% of all statistics are made up on the spot, and 2) big colorful pictures means you don’t have to write as many words.

Being one to never look a Trojan horse in the mouth, the staff of the Fi-Ni Report is hopping on the infographic bandwagon. Just like our favorite magazine publisher in Connecticut, we’re going to start filling up blank space with pretty pictures that may or may not accurately reflect the habits and attitudes of the amateur radio community. Make of them what you will.



Friday, April 1, 2011

The A-R-Double-L

Amateur radio is an activity governed by rules and regulations more than almost any other non-commercial activity. Firstly, amateurs are bound by the rules for amateur radio operation established by their governments regarding frequency, power and other limits of their operation. Those who pursue the art of DXing are bound by the rules of the various DX programs in which they participate. Contesters are bound by the rules of the contests in which they operate.

Where ever there are rules, there are inevitably rule breakers, intentional or not. Some are blatant, others, not so much. For every rule there is an interpretation of what the rule actually means. In the case of award programs and contests in particular, there is even room to argue that rules are wrong.

Opinions on these matters, like certain body parts, are universally widespread among the populace. This has lead to a sub-genre of activity in the amateur radio world defending or attacking various rules and interpretations. To date, this activity has been haphazard and un-organized. Amateurs, however, love clubs and organizations. Except for those who hate clubs and organizations - another argument for another day. But for those who feel a need for organization and recognition, we are proud to announce the founding of the Armchair Radio Lawyers League (A-R-Double-L).

The A-R-Double-L is predicated on the assumption that everyone has watched enough episodes of Law and Order to be a self-educated lawyer and can apply that astute thinking to interpreting the rules of the DXCC program or the 10-minute rule for CQWW and can argue their opinion persuasively without resorting to childhood epithets involving bodily parts. Hence, it is not expected to attract a large crowd of 75m ragchewers.

A new list-serv dedicated to A-R-Double-L arguments will be created. As needed, special list-servs may be created for individual topics such as “Should Scarborough Reef be considered ‘land’?” and “What actually constitutes ‘assistance’ during a contest?”. The hope is that these will remove some of the dreck from CQ-Contest*.

The Armchair Radio Lawyer League will be administered by the law firm of Howe, Dewey, Cheatham and Wynn.

* The Armchair Radio Lawyer League has no affiliation with the CQ-Contest website, the CQ-Contest list-serv or Major League Baseball.