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Amateur Radio Is Dying - Instant Gratification = Dumbing Down ?




 
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Author Topic: Amateur Radio Is Dying - Instant Gratification = Dumbing Down ?  (Read 20029 times)
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W1UJR
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« on: October 18, 2006, 12:35:31 PM »

Long Read - But Oh So Worth it (esp. last paragraph)
Aside from the radio reference, this is an apt  commentary about society in general.

-Bruce


I grew up with a fairly good idea of the value of money. It didn’t grow on trees—that much I knew, or if it did, certainly not on my parents’ trees. I had an allowance for which I performed many chores: cutting the lawn, watering the yard, cleaning my room, washing dishes, and sometimes ironing my own shirts and pants. Working was not foreign to me. Having a paper route, doing other peoples’ yards, and selling Christmas cards door-to-door earned me money to buy records, a bicycle, a basketball, and a Heath Kit radio. For the most part, if I wanted it, I had to earn it. And earn it I did.

The work ethic instilled in me by my parents helped to develop a healthy perspective of things financial, things earned. I wasn’t the type to try to shake their tree, hoping that maybe a dollar or two did linger in the branches. In the case of my basketball, I saw it in a catalog, ordered the Christmas cards I would have to sell to earn it, waited for the cards to arrive, sold the cards door-to-door in my neighborhood, sent the money back to the company, and awaited the arrival of my hard-earned prize. That involved 100% my participation. An invaluable part of the process of earning anything is the anticipation of attaining one’s goal. I didn’t think of the ball, snap my fingers, and instantaneously have it in my hands. The anticipation in every step of the way, consciously living each moment of purpose, made the basketball’s eventual arrival all the more meaningful.

The only time I can remember really complaining about not having something was in my junior year of high school. I was carless, with no prospect in sight. The cost of such was beyond my teenage capabilities, and I was inconsolable because most of my friends had cars. By then I had a job working in a music store every day after school and on weekends, and had already saved for and purchased a new set of drums, but in no way could I possibly earn enough for a car. Finally, after hearing just so much of my moaning and complaining, my father showed me the title to a 1962 English Ford Anglia. I remember being completely confused because our family used to own just such a vehicle when I was younger. My father explained that what I held in my hand was the title to my first car. He was the Head of the Albuquerque High School Vocational Department and had arranged for the auto shop, as a class project, to rebuild an old car from the ground up, and when it was in running order my folks were going to present it to me as a gift. I was floored, speechless. I didn’t know what to say. My father had spilled the beans only to finally shut me up. It was perhaps one of the most profound experiences of humility in my life. After all the crabbing I had done I felt about two feet tall.

Years later I was at my friend Stan’s graphic design studio when a woman and her four-year-old child came in with a job. While the woman was talking to Stan about the specifications of the project, her son kept nagging her for a treat. She repeatedly told him that he would get one when they got back to the car. He became more belligerent as time went on, to the point where he was jumping, trampoline-style, on Stan’s black leather couch screaming at the top of his lungs, “I want a treat, I want a treat!” His overtures were so deafening that work in the entire suite of offices came to a standstill. The poor woman had to finally apologize and leave with her little tornado screaming all the way to the car. Poorer still was Stan, who eventually emerged from his office ashen-faced, eyes bulging, and catatonic. When he was finally able to speak he instructed his staff to lock the door and turn off the lights if they ever saw her return.

The woman obviously had never taught her child the virtue of patience. The boy was a classic case of one who expects and demands instant gratification. He was used to having his every wish immediately granted. It was evident who wore the pants in that family. There could not possibly have been any regard on the parents’ part for instilling in the child a very crucial building block of character development, and unfortunately it remains absent in too much of today’s generation.

In raising my son, who is now in his twenties, I do not recall ever seeing an example of any of his friends having had to work for something, much less develop a savings plan toward the purchase of a desired item. The parents usually bought the child the toy, the video game, or the movie-on-tape. In most cases it was purchased either the day of the request or the next. Those children were not made to be financially responsible for any part of the purchase, and, as a result, the true value of the item lost all significance. If something is so easily attained, then how can it be of any value? Some kids of today want a free ride: they’re reluctant to apply for college student loans because they don’t want to be saddled with debt upon graduation. (My generation did it, and we survived somehow.) They expect their parents to foot the entire bill. How valuable will their education truly be to them in the long run?

Some toy stores now issue scan guns to little shoppers who can walk through the aisles and “point ’n’ shoot” each item they wish to add to their birthday or Christmas list. Aunts, uncles, and grandparents around the country can consult the “registry” and then buy something the child wants without duplication. A mother who was interviewed about this new feature was thrilled that finally her son would not be disappointed at Christmas either by getting something he didn’t want or by not getting the toys he did want. Where has the element of surprise gone? When our children know ahead of time what they will receive, why bother to wrap the gifts? And how dare we risk disappointing them by not giving them everything they ask for!

We can’t really blame our kids entirely for this sad state of affairs. They are merely emulating their elders with their “I want it now” attitude, possessing the same false sense of need. Credit cards, mail-order catalogs, telemarketing, home shopping channels, and on-line services have fueled the sense of immediacy by which it is possible to order something at five-o’clock in the evening and have it on one’s doorstep by breakfast the next morning. I did just that in the purchase of a new scanner. From the time I placed the order to my first full-color scan, the earth had barely completed two-thirds of a turn. It seemed as close to immediate materialization as it could be. I want it—POOF!—I have it. Because we can obtain something so quickly we feel that we also need that something—whatever it is. Effort of any kind has been removed. We no longer have to wrestle with our conscience whether or not we should purchase a product because the credit card in our pocket—which only postpones the inevitable—and the overnight delivery services make it too easy to justify our amassing material things, items that the process, by its very nature, persuades us we need.

I heard of a father trying to convince his little son that he couldn’t afford a certain toy. The boy asked to see his father’s wallet. Upon seeing no cash the boy suggested writing a check. The father said that even though there was some money in the bank, there wasn’t enough for the toy and the bills he had to pay. The boy then told him to use the ATM because he always saw Mommy get all the cash she needed from that machine. Aside from the ridiculous situation of allowing the little one to even question his father’s “No” and submit to an examination of the wallet (another case of who’s really wearing the pants in the family), there had been no education whatsoever in the basics of money. That father is forever doomed to financial servitude to the son. I can just imagine Junior’s future lawyers demanding to see Senior’s tax forms to determine ability to pay for whatever Junior wants. Similarly, in a letter to Ann Landers, a young man complained that as he had reached the age of eighteen, his father’s child-support payments had terminated, as per divorce decree. Financing his college education was very tough on his poor mother, and he felt that Congress should pass a law dictating that fathers continue to pay until their children graduate from college. Ann Landers asked if the boy had ever heard of getting a job.

In spite of their wonderful availability of instant cash, ATM’s are actually the devil in disguise. They provide us with the means to satisfy our immediate cravings without stopping to consider the ramifications of such an expenditure. No longer do we take pause to consider if we can really afford to buy X, Y, and Z. We also no longer plan a purchase by putting aside fifty dollars per month until next September, a buffer that could also allow us to change our minds over time and realize that maybe X, Y, and Z were not that important after all. If we can’t control our own styles of spending, we shouldn’t be surprised when our children think of ATM’s and credit cards as the answer.

Gone are the days of earning the build-your-own Heath Kit radio. Not only will an aunt, uncle, or grandparent buy the item for the child, it will already be assembled and painted. No muss, no fuss. If it breaks, so what? There are always plenty more where it came from. And if not, one can always jump up and down on someone’s black leather couch and scream, “I want it, I want it!”.


- Stuart Vail

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John Holotko
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2006, 02:28:38 PM »

Interesting, welk written,  and very much to the point .
 
When we, both as a collective society and as individuals become too "addicted"to instantanerous gratification and having  things "made easy" with little or no effort  we  wind up loosing out on the most wonderful kind of self fullfillment and gratification of all. That which comes through learning,  work, time and effort.  Indeed there is a lot of potential out there these days but not  enough inducement.
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N2IZE<br /><br />Because infinity comes in different sizes.
Steve - WB3HUZ
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2006, 02:58:40 PM »

There are other reasons amateur radio is dying. Some of comes from within the hobby.. Interesting take on this angle here.

What's Wrong With Ham Radio? It's Brain Dead!!

Ham radio is brain dead. How did that happen ? Well, it's a long story, but I'll see if I can explain it to you. Amateur radio operators today can be basically subdivided into two groups - Clueless Newbies and Brain Dead Old Farts. Well three groups really, there's the Died In The Wool Pee In A Bucket Under The Desk Contest Fraternity, but we'll save them for another discussion, because thankfully they only show up on major contest weekends. So let's take a look at our two basic groups.

get this rest at

http://kh2d.net/opinions/article.cfm?id=4
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WA1GFZ
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2006, 03:40:16 PM »

Gee, My kids must freaks in today's world.
Maybe I should go home and tell them I'm sorry
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John Holotko
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2006, 05:45:38 PM »

There are other reasons amateur radio is dying. Some of comes from within the hobby.. Interesting take on this angle here.

What's Wrong With Ham Radio? It's Brain Dead!!

Ham radio is brain dead. How did that happen ? Well, it's a long story, but I'll see if I can explain it to you. Amateur radio operators today can be basically subdivided into two groups - Clueless Newbies and Brain Dead Old Farts. Well three groups really, there's the Died In The Wool Pee In A Bucket Under The Desk Contest Fraternity, but we'll save them for another discussion, because thankfully they only show up on major contest weekends. So let's take a look at our two basic groups.

get this rest at

http://kh2d.net/opinions/article.cfm?id=4

Well, that certainly doesn't sound too optimistic now, does it ?  Grin Cry Grin Cheesy
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N2IZE<br /><br />Because infinity comes in different sizes.
Steve - WB3HUZ
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2006, 05:50:11 PM »

It's a bit over the top and simplistic, I think mainly to accentuate his points. But I've seen the divide he speaks of in action. Think about it, what youngster in their right mind would want to interact with a bunch of grouchy old men that have nothing but disdain or indifference for newbies?
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wa2zdy
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2006, 06:08:27 PM »

Jim hits the nail on the head more often than not.
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kf6pqt
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2006, 06:26:43 PM »

My 1998-to-present perception:

I think the disconnect comes from the "assumption" that the ham radio hobby in the USA is full of knowledgeable people who share the same fascination with radio, and enjoy playing with said radio equipment.

Ok, well, its more like a delusion... one I'm still barely able to delude myself with. More like, theres a very narrow niche within the ham radio hobby where that assumption is correct.

The reality of the situation is that the majority of people involved with ham radio in this country are some of the most socially screwed up, misanthropic, myopic, and just plain rotten people.

(Ok, if you're reading this and getting really pissed off... its a good sign you need counseling!)

Before the days of the little man being able to talk big smack over the internet, it was done over ham radio.

Sorry to sound so negative, but I've had some really sh)))Y experiences with "fellow hams." I'd prefer not to go into specifics, but I will say one incident resulted in my dropping the hobby entirely for almost 5 years.

It is my PROFOUND fascination with most things radio, a lot of patience, and at times a lot of effort and determination to "pan the gold from the sewage choked river" that keeps me involved with this hobby. (though I must add that this forum rocks, and I just subscribed to ER yesterday, btw!)

I think the best ad agency in the world would have a heck of a time trying to market such a flawed and damaged item. One has to really love it to put up with the crap that comes with it. So really, there is no good way to "sell" it. The people who are interested in it will find it, and thats the best that can be hoped for. (And why I am grateful we have our own congressional lobbying group, and grateful those representing it appear to be upright-walking humanoids, dorky as they may be!)

Oh, yeah, then there's that "extreme nerd factor" to be dealt with...  Cheesy ... just kidding.

-Jason kf6pqt
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kf6pqt
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2006, 06:47:37 PM »

Sorry for the misnomer/misunderstanding...  But still, better the league "represent" us than some of the "hams" I was referring to.

-J
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kf6pqt
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2006, 06:59:35 PM »

Quote
The best thing for us would be for the League to die a quick death,

Well, if QST gets any worse, it wont be long! Wink
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WA5VGO
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2006, 08:12:44 PM »


Since the ARRL is chartered as a nonprofit organization, it is expressly prohibited from lobbying Congress.
Quote

I don't think this is correct. The NRA is a non-profit organization and one of the biggest lobbying groups in America.

73,
Darrell, WA5VGO
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Carl WA1KPD
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2006, 08:59:15 PM »

[Since the ARRL is chartered as a nonprofit organization, it is expressly prohibited from lobbying Congress. T

Hey Phil not completely true....

"Charitable, religious or educational organizations which are exempt from federal
income taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. §
501(c)(3)), which have the privilege of receiving contributions from private parties
that are tax-deductible for the contributor, may not engage in lobbying activities
which constitute a “substantial part” of their activities if they wish to preserve this
preferred tax-exempt status...The activities covered under the limitations on lobbying by charitable
organizations generally encompass direct or indirect “grass roots” lobbying, but
exempt nonpartisan analysis, study or research; advice or assistance given at the
request of a governmental body; “self-defense” communications before governmental
bodies; contacts with the organization’s bona fide members;
and contacts unrelated
to affecting legislation.

Otherwise organizations such as:

National Rifle Association, Sierra Club, Ameraican Medical Assiciation  and the good old ARRL would not exist.
How to do this? Have annual dues that provide a magazine and support other efforts

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Carl

"Okay, gang are you ready to play radio? Are you ready to shuffle off the mortal coil of mediocrity? I am if you are." Shepherd
Steve - WB3HUZ
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2006, 09:27:43 PM »

Come Carl! How can we continue this ARRL Hate Fest when you post stuff like that! Tongue  We know the ARRL is pure evil. They've never done anything right in their entire history. Pure evil.

Have a nice day.
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John Holotko
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2006, 09:36:12 PM »

It's a bit over the top and simplistic, I think mainly to accentuate his points. But I've seen the divide he speaks of in action. Think about it, what youngster in their right mind would want to interact with a bunch of grouchy old men that have nothing but disdain or indifference for newbies?

Bingo !! That's exactly how I see it. I often hear many older hams complaining that " kids nowdays ain't interested in ham radio", Meanwhile there are a lot of bright and eager young minds out there.  I often wonder how many of them are completely  put off whence they encounter the grouchy set that  predominates the HF spectrum.
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WA1GFZ
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2006, 09:37:43 PM »

Steve,
back in the early 60s when KW AM signals covered 75 there were a number of older guys who didn't care for us wipper snappers hanging on their band. We learned to strap.
Then came the slop buckets

no kids no lids no space....
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John Holotko
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2006, 09:38:45 PM »

Years later I was at my friend Stan’s graphic design studio when a woman and her four-year-old child came in with a job. While the woman was talking to Stan about the specifications of the project, her son kept nagging her for a treat. She repeatedly told him that he would get one when they got back to the car. He became more belligerent as time went on, to the point where he was jumping, trampoline-style, on Stan’s black leather couch screaming at the top of his lungs, “I want a treat, I want a treat!” His overtures were so deafening that work in the entire suite of offices came to a standstill. The poor woman had to finally apologize and leave with her little tornado screaming all the way to the car.

That kid desperately needs to have the Board of Education applied liberally to the Seat of Wisdom. Of course, the liberal bleeding hearts would probably call the Division of Youth and Family Services if this took place in New Jersey or some other busybody state agency if this happened in a different state.

Yep, us bleeding heart liberals always think that kids should act  unruly and make absurd demands of people.
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N2IZE<br /><br />Because infinity comes in different sizes.
Steve - WB3HUZ
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2006, 09:43:58 PM »

Quote
Yep, us bleeding heart liberals always think that kids should act  unruly and make absurd demands of people.

Truer words have never been spoken.
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John Holotko
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« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2006, 09:45:23 PM »

Sorry for the misnomer/misunderstanding...  But still, better the league "represent" us than some of the "hams" I was referring to.

With some of the crap oozing out of Newington in recent times (e.g., the "bandwidth" petition and their ingenious idea of putting wideband digital services on 6 meters), who needs enemies? The best thing for us would be for the League to die a quick death, with the W1AW site giving way to a strip mall or condo complex. Now...if only we can convince the FCC to scrap the easily compromised Volunteer Examiner system and go back to administering amateur radio exams at their field offices, so that CB'ers and yahoos can no longer get their licenses out of Cracker Jack boxes...

Actually I have no problem with CB'ers getting their licenses.        I know several CB'ers that got their tickets and made excellent hams, including some who became AM'ers.  I don't like everything the ARRL  does and sometimes  I question their usefulness. But then again,  if we scrapped the VE program and went back to FCC administered exams and if we did scrap the ARRL I have a feeling that we'd all  be scrapping our equipment in short order. Either that or using it as fancy and rather oversized paperweights and boat  anchors (in the literal sense).
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N2IZE<br /><br />Because infinity comes in different sizes.
Steve - WB3HUZ
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« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2006, 09:48:52 PM »

Quote
Steve,
back in the early 60s when KW AM signals covered 75 there were a number of older guys who didn't care for us wipper snappers hanging on their band. We learned to strap.
Then came the slop buckets

no kids no lids no space....

Yea, there probably were always grumpy old farts and newbie haters. But ham radio have never been older and more grumpy than it is right now. Remember when 3885 kHz used to be inhabited by the New England Teen Net? When was the last time you heard a net where all the participants were even under the age of 30, let alone teenaged?
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WV Hoopie
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2006, 10:40:12 PM »


Since the ARRL is chartered as a nonprofit organization, it is expressly prohibited from lobbying Congress.
Quote

I don't think this is correct. The NRA is a non-profit organization and one of the biggest lobbying groups in America.

73,
Darrell, WA5VGO

Darrell,

Dig a little deeper on the NRA: You might find the NRA doesn't lobby, it's Political Action Committe the NRA-ILA does, all's legal. That's how the game is played in DC.

73's
wd8kdg
Craig
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WA3VJB
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« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2006, 05:33:12 AM »

Quote
Think about it, what youngster in their right mind would want to interact with a bunch of grouchy old men that have nothing but disdain or indifference for newbies?

You might be right that the demographics show even more old men (and maybe more grouchy). But it's always been out there.

Gad, what a reminder of how the first ham radio club I was ever exposed to was clearly set up to gratify the old white guys who had retired and apparently missed bossing people around. SO the younger fellows, and kids like me, were their targets.  Instead of administering a club such that newcomers might feel included, there was this very clear dues-paying, serve-your-time environment that shunted everyone who hadn't been there since dust was invented.

The regime gave the distinct impression they wanted no outside proposals, nor original thought.


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w3jn
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2006, 09:04:52 AM »

^^ Indeed.  I remember 20 years ago when our college radio club decided to attend a meeting of the local ham club.  We were shunned by the group of bitter OMs and one nasty OF even demanded to see my license. 

It was unfortunate that their 2M CB repeater was on our campus and, subsequent to this meeting, some idiot in our club left a scanner going during thanksgiving weekend with their repeater frequency programmed into one channel and another channel programmed to their repeater input +10.8 MHz.  Apparently the LO from the scanner kept keying their repeater, and we were all very sorry that they spent the whole Thanksgiving weekend vainly trying to track down the kerchunker with their Doppler DF equipment  Sad

I posted this experience elsewhere and received a nice email from the current club president who said that all the bitter OFs have either crapped out or were encouraged to leave the club.  That club is apparently full of enthusiastic guys, both young and old, and according to him has achieved a new life.  Good on these guys for recognizing the problem and dealing with it.
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« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2006, 11:41:08 AM »

There has been much attention given to the fact that many "seasoned hams" have become very grumpy and cynical and are not very good ambassadors to youth who might be attracted to the hobby.  This may be true to some extent, but it certainly is not the case with everyone who fits into the category of the "older generation".  It should not be a label that is placed on all older hams.

Certainly, many of us who are collectively called "old buzzards" have become rather jaded and disappointed since the "dumbing down" or removal of many of the "screens" and requirements for an amateur radio license.  It certainly is viewed as somewhat of an insult to those of us who previously put forth the effort to study, practice and acquire the needed knowledge and skills to pass the test(s), and now observe the greatly watered-down requirements.  This is not elitism.  It is a pride in accomplishment and dedication to the attainment of recognition of a certain basic skill level. 

CW may be considered by many to be an antiquated and useless mode in this computer age, but it has represented a basic skill, commitment, and dedication of those who desired an amateur radio license.  It served as a screen to filter out those who had no such dedication and commitment.  I for one, think it was a mistake to reduce and, perhaps soon eliminate, the CW requirement.  The theory tests may or may not represent what is needed to have some basic ability required to build and operate an amateur radio station.  But, it seems that just about anyone can pass a multiple choice test after enough tries at it.

The point is, that myself, and I'm sure many of my fellow seasoned contemporaries, really want to see younger people get into the hobby and carry on the torch.  I, for one am greatly encouraged when I hear youngsters at the local middle school radio club operating on the air and enjoying ham radio.  I look for ways to help newbies get started and I get involved in activities that get the message out.  For instance, I took a vintage AM station out to Field Day this year to demonstrate our niche of the hobby.  It was very well received and the younger hams thought is was really cool.

One of the great strengths of amateur radio is the tremendous diversity of interests that it represents.  We need to capitalize on that and embrace that wide range of hobbies within the hobby to attract new hams.

Yeah, sometimes I am grouchy, but I really enjoy ham radio and I want to see it continue for the future generations.  Hopefully, in some small measure, I can contribute to that outcome.

73,  Jack, W9GT
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73, Jack, W9GT
Steve - WB3HUZ
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2006, 12:20:36 PM »

Jack:

I understand where you are coming from. The point is, the newbies of today can't help that the test is easier (if it even is easier, since I've seen no legitimate data or proof) than the one you took. They passed the test that was put before them. They are here. Why not welcome them with open arms, engage them and use your years of experience to fill in the gaps in their knowledge? After all, the older buzzards previous to your generation could have said the same about you. The tests in those days included drawing schematics and oral questions from the FCC examiner (no easy multiple guess).

The Morris Code isn't and never was a screen or filter. We've had malcontents and troublemakers in amateur radio since day one. Further, the knowledge of Morris Code contributes absolutely zero to the knowledge of radio. A person can learn code, be an expert at it, send and receive 100 WPM, and not know one thing about radio. Thousands of telegraphers working for Western Union proved that. Knowing Morris Code back when it was the only viable (or nearly so) means of communicating (let's say from the teens through the ealry 30's, maybe WWII, if you want to stretch it), made sense. Since this time, knowing the Morris Code made absolutely no sense in the context of radio. It most certianly made no sense to have it as the ONLY skill based portion of the amateur radio license testing.

So, I say to you and all the other old buzzards, it's time to move on from the Morris Code complaints. It's over, it's gone and it's not coming back. What we do about it is what will make a difference.

P.S. Yea, I learned the code to get my license. Check QRZ, you'll see I'm an Advanced. But I don't begrudge those who didn't have to learn it, or learn to the speed level I did. I know several guys who know as much or more than me about radio, and never learned more than 5 WPM. They would know just as much about radio if the learned zero WPM.
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« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2006, 01:39:28 PM »

Hey "HUZ" man............I'm not the enemy!!

Hmmmm......Well in the first place it is Morse not Morris Code!  More accurately, it is International Morse Code that is utilized on the radio.  As for it being useless, my question to you Sir is what would you do to communicate in an emergency if your mike was broken, you had no other means to modulate your transmitter other than turning the carrier on and off?  My guess is, you might be trying to remember that "useless" way of communicating.

Yes, I had to draw schematics for my license test(s)!

No, it is not accurate to say that I would take it out on those new licensees who didn't have the same test...They are, afterall, really not themselves at fault.  I am however, somewhat resentful over the fact that we have collectively lowered our standards without any support for the values that got us to this point.  Voila!....as previously stated,  instant gratification and no thought about the consequences.

Hey...whatever happens, happens.  I may be only a faint voice in the wilderness when it comes to dealing with the current challenges and threats to our existence, but at least I'm not just complaining.  Peace!!!

73,  Jack, W9GT
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73, Jack, W9GT
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