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Author Topic: Why Have An Extra Class?  (Read 131749 times)
K9AIM
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Posts: 933




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« Reply #210 on: October 17, 2010, 11:40:25 AM »

Morse Code isn't just part of ham radio's past. It's a big part of the present and future of Amateur Radio as well. Listen to the low ends of the HF bands, read the various contest results, look at the sales of CW rigs, keys, keyers, etc., and it's clear that Morse Code isn't just "the past".

Roger that, I have bought about 10 keys and keyers this past year trying to find the one straight key and keyer best suited for me (and within my budget).  The great thing is if I get one I decide is not my cup of tea, it is very easy to turn around and sell it.  In addition to the free classified sections here and at qrz.com, the eBay Ham Radio > Keys section is a *very* active place.   And, on the subject of morse code on the ham bands these days, last night, it took me quite a while to work thru the big pile-up on 40 meter CW to exchange reports with PJ7E.  The old Omni C that is my one and only xcvr is pure joy to operate!

But despite the fact that morse code has a strong place in ham radio's present & future, its historic significance is nothing to sneeze at.  Morse Code played a key role in the evolution of radio in general (pun intended).  And, while it's not exactly Morse code, these PC's we all use happen to be 'on/off' code lovers themselves ;-)   

73 de K9AIM SKCC #6586
« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 11:43:13 AM by Robert Johnston » Logged
K6LHA
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Posts: 349




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« Reply #211 on: October 17, 2010, 01:59:33 PM »

Since you favor a retention of the Extra class licence with zero extra frequency allocations, what point would having the the Extra class license serve?  Why not just call it General class?
A valid question.  What I proposed - but do not exactly "favor" - is a COMPROMISE between existing class licensing and what might be in the future.  Compromises are not ideal solutions, far from it, but they are a middle ground between diametrically-opposed opinions.

The old Amateur Extra class had two major conditions for applicants: (1). Passing a 20 WPM International Morse Code test; (2). Passing a larger written test, then of 50 questions.  Both test elements had to be passed to be considered for an Amateur Extra class amateur license grant.

Memorandum Report and Order 99-412, released in December 1999, put a maximum code test rate of 5 WPM (equivalent) as part of the latest "restructuring" of USA amateur radio.  That went into effect in
mid-2000 as stated in the Federal Register.  Memorandum Report and Order 06-178, released in December 2006, eliminated all Interntational Morse Code testing for any USA amateur radio license applicant. That went into effect on 23 February 2007 as stated in the Federal Register.  Those two R&Os removed half of the "extra" part of USA Amateur Extra class applications.  There was nothing to take its place; the written test was not expanded in size to compensate for that loss in testing.

My compromise would be to expand the written test to a minimum of double the size of present-day questions, from 50 to at least 100 (personal preferrence to 200), keeping the present pass percentage.  In further detail, I would have that apply to all new Amateur Extra applicants.  I would prefer to have that also apply to existing Amateur Extras up for renewal, but that is an argument that is best suited for an NPRM on the subject.  An NPRM would be the logical course for changing the number of test element questions for Amateur Extra.  In my viewpoint, the logical course is also as a substitute for the eliminated code test (of 3 1/2 years ago) and the reduced code test rate (of 10 1/2 years ago).

Giving up the exclusive "entitlement" frequency sub-sub-bands on HF is a different argument.  It is based on a more common democratic-principled allocation of available frequencies enjoyed by many other countries.  As of today, 17 October 2010, USA Amateur Extras make up 17.6 percent of all "active" (within their 10-year license term) and 17.2 percent of all Amateur Extra class grants (within a 12-year term).  Any claim of "entitlement" on the basis of a high-rate code test last taken a decade ago for exclusive frequency use today is specious.

In the USA an amateur radio license is NOT an exclusively-operator condition.  By law, it encompasses BOTH operational and technical proficiency, the latter sufficient to meet the out-of-band RF emissions as proscribed by law.  By increasing the size of the Amateur Extra written test element, there would be some compensation for the eliminated morse code test element.  In effect, it would restore some of the "extra" cognizance of the Amateur Extra class license grantee.  If nothing else, it would provide some federal basis for their individual egos, a fuel for their Id, so that they can claim "greatness" in a hobby activity.

Compromises are never "ideal solutions."  There is no such thing as an "ideal solution."  But ompromises MUST be done or NOTHING gets done.  The entire technological world is CHANGING.  We must learn to change with it or stagnate.
 
Quote
Imo, if there is going to be an Extra class, CW proficiency should be tested and required. It is good for amateurs to know there hobby's past, as well as past practices in radio -- since that is what the present technology grew out of. Actually their should be CW *and* morse code literacy questions on
the written exams for all license classes.
Your personal opinion is noted, but it is only that.  NPRM 98-143 ("restructuring") was open for a twice-extended period of slightly more than a year and garnered many replies and replies-to-comments.  It resulted in MR&O 99-412 that put the maximum code test rate at 5 WPM.  NPRM 05-235 ("code test elimination") had a ten-month period of replies and replies-to-comments.  It resulted in MR&O 06-178 which did eliminate ALL code testing for any USA amateur radio license.  In addition, the IARU did the lobbying of their respective administrations to rewrite ITU-R special radio regulation S25 such to make it optional for each adminstration to enforce a code test or eliminated as it saw fit...even though opposed by the ARRL up to WRC-03 in mid-2003.  The ARRL was forced to accept the decision of the ITU-R, mainly because the ARRL has NO voting power in any World Radio Conference.

In essence, you have made no valid claim for your personal opinion insofar as changing any USA federal law.  All you can claim is wanting to keep the status quo.  The arguments on code testing have been made and that is over.  It is illogical to assume that a minority group of licensees (17%)
should have exclusive entitlement just because they once met federal regulations of a long time ago under political considerations of that long-ago time.  While that set of statements will not mollify your personal ego, you must consider that law is not set up to satisfy individuals, but rather ALL citizens, be they licensed or unlicensed in any particular radio activity.

As to getting amateurs of today informed about "how their hobby began," there are enough texts available to teach that intellectually.  We cannot operate damped-wave RF generators ("Spark") because their use is prohibited.  We could try operating receivers of the simplest kind, substituting the "best" semiconductor diodes in place of the old "coherer" but I doubt the sensitivity would be useful; it would have no BFO since early-radio telegraphy had such broad noise generation from "Spark" that it wasn't needed.  Cheesy  One could go back to technology of radio of 1912 (when the first USA radio regulating agency was created) but I doubt that such would garner much interest to those of us who had seen/heard/used the progression of technology from ultra-simple of long-ago to the moderately-complex of today.  It is not uncommon to have respondents want to "freeze" all regulations and operations to the time when they first became acquainted with 'radio.'  That way is psychological security, an ease of anxiety of having to learn anything new, a re-inforcement of bragging rights of how THEY did it "back in the day."  That's rather personally arrogant in my opinion.  It also hasn't a single shred of legal precedent.  Laws of TODAY are based on the NEEDS of TODAY, for ALL citizens, not some minority special-interest group.

73, Len K6LHA
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N2EY
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« Reply #212 on: October 17, 2010, 03:40:26 PM »

One more reason for the Extra is its popularity.

Consider these numbers, which are the number of FCC-licensed individuals whose licenses were current on the dates listed:

As of May 14, 2000:

Novice - 49,329 (7.3%)
Technician - 205,394 (30.4%)
Technician Plus - 128,860 (19.1%)
General - 112,677 (16.7%)
Advanced - 99,782 (14.8%)
Extra - 78,750 (11.7%)

Total Tech/TechPlus - 334,254 (49.5%)

Total all classes - 674,792


As of February 22, 2007:

Novice - 22,896 (3.5%)
Technician - 293,508 (44.8%)
Technician Plus - 30,818 (4.7%)
General - 130,138 (19.9%)
Advanced - 69,050 (10.5%)
Extra - 108,270 (16.5%)

Total Tech/TechPlus - 324,326 (49.5%)

Total all classes - 654,680

As of October 16, 2010:

Novice: 15,993 (2.3%)
Technician 341,564 (49.2%)
Technician Plus 0 (0.0%)
General 155,094 (22.3%) (new all-time high)
Advanced 59,661 (8.6%)
Extra 122,290 (17.6%) (new all-time high)

Total 694,602 (new all-time high)

The Novice and Advanced licenses are disappearing by attrition, because the FCC stopped issuing new ones on April 15, 2000. The Technician Plus is gone because not only did the FCC stop issuing new ones but, when a Tech Plus renewed or applied for a vanity call, the license was reclassified as a Technician.

So when considering the Technician class, one should combine the Tech and Tech Plus numbers, because since April 2000 they were essentially the same license class, and since Feb 23 2007 the privileges were exactly the same.

Looking at the changes in the Technician, General and Extra numbers over the past 10 years, with those rules in mind, we see the following:

1) All three license classes increased in number.

2) The combined Tech/Tech Plus numbers grew by 7,310 from April 2000 to October 2010. The number of Generals grew by 43,417 over the same period.

But the number of Extras grew by 43,540!

3) The percentage of hams with General and Extra licenses has changed dramatically too. Extra has grown from 11.7% to 17.6% - an increase of 5.9% of the total. General increased from 16.7% to 22.3%, an increase of 5.6% of the total.

But when you look at the combined Tech/Tech Plus percentage, it has actually *declined* over the past ten years, from 49.5% to 49.2%.

IOW, in terms of numerical and percentage growth, the Extra tops them all. That's a reason to continue it.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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K6LHA
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Posts: 349




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« Reply #213 on: October 18, 2010, 03:08:48 PM »

One more reason for the Extra is its popularity.
POPULARITY?!?    Cheesy    ROTFLMAO!

The "comparison" from 14 May 2000 to 16 October 2010 is invalid considering the legal effect of FCC 99-412 over those dates, namely the maximum code test rate of 5 WPM and the fact that NO NEW Novice, Technician Plus, or Advanced class licenses would be granted. Additionally, FCC 06-178 eliminated the code test for ANY USA amateur radio license class over 3 1/2 years ago.

Frequency allocations per class remained essentially as they were prior to 14 May 2000...all of those benefiting the Amateur Extra prior and up to present-day. Those who wished to change classes which formerly required a code test rate in excess of 5 WPM were premitted to do so without any additional code test.  Out of that grew the defamatory expression of "Extra Lite" against those who tested for Extra with only the written test elements.

Quote
The Technician Plus is gone because not only did the FCC stop issuing new ones but, when a Tech Plus renewed or applied for a vanity call, the license was reclassified as a Technician.
Technician Plus licensees are NOT yet "gone" since the FCC still carried Technician Plus class as of 18 October 2010 in its daily database ending on midnight (Eastern) of 17 October 2010.  Those are all in their 2-year grace period but they ONCE were as "active" as anyone else.   

Quote
So when considering the Technician class, one should combine the Tech and Tech Plus numbers, because since April 2000 they were essentially the same license class, and since Feb 23 2007 the privileges were exactly the same.
The FCC has issued no such "should" imperative. Technician Plus class is still carried in the ULS.

Quote
Looking at the changes in the Technician, General and Extra numbers over the past 10 years, with those rules in mind, we see the following:
The population of the USA has also increased in the past decade.  As to only amateur radio service, the maximum number of all licensees peaked on 2 July 2003 with 737,938 total.  As of Midnight on 17 October 2010 the total is 3,704 less than that peak.

Just by numbers alone, there is LESS "popularity" in USA amateur radio today.  Numbers alone is a disingenuous criterion for such "popularity."

Quote
But the number of Extras grew by 43,540!
You did not go back far enough to spotlight your own license class of Amateur Extra.  As of November 1988 the FCC database had 47,937 Extra class licensees or 10% of a total of 480,101.

Source of 1988 licensee numbers is from a Compuserve message from Richard Hoffbeck, N0LOX, to Fritz Anderson, NT9T, on 30 Dec 1990.  That tabulation does not include the Technician class created in 1991 nor the renaming (later) of the Technician Plus class.  The average age from
Hoffbeck's tabulation is 51 (all classes).

Quote
But when you look at the combined Tech/Tech Plus percentage, it has actually *declined* over the past ten years, from 49.5% to 49.2%.
Invalid "look" since it it quite easy NOW, as well as a decade ago to change license classes in USA amateur radio.  For example, as reported by www.hamdata.com in the period of 18 Oct 2010 to 18 Oct 2009, there were 14,248 license class changes plus 8,066 callsign changes.  In addition
there were 29,522 new license grants but 22,276 were no longer licensed.

Www.hamdata.com did not exist prior to 2003.  My own records are consistent from 18 Oct 2010 to 18 Oct 2007 and the total of class changes were 85,442 over a 4-year period.  In that same period there were 114,088 new license grants but 100,763 were no longer licensed.  Such values should be enough to skew individual class number changes for two or three dates over a decade of time, to make them invalid for comparison of "popularity."

I have NO INDICATION of the NO-CODE-TEST Technician class license ever STOPPING ITS GROWTH since it was created in 1991.  As of 18 October 2007 the NO-CODE-TEST Technician class totals were 307,978 (43.2% of all 712,507) compared to 18 October 2010 of 354,325 (49.1% of all 722,880).  That is a delta of 46,946 increase.  Over the same time period Extra was 114,955 (16.1%) in 2007 versus 124,451 (17.2%) in 2010, a delta of 9,496 increase.  I can not envision that Extra had any valid "increase" over and above Technician in that time. 

Quote
IOW, in terms of numerical and percentage growth, the Extra tops them all. That's a reason to continue it.
That is more mumbo-jumbo word-twisting. FCC regulations are NOT made around "popularity."  The existing Amateur Extra (once just 'Extra') was created POLITICALLY. It might, maybe had a reason technically a half-century ago but that was way open for discussion.  When the code test was capped at 5 WPM and then eliminated altogether, the Amateur Extra LOST its chance to be "different" from lesser classes. Those who "upgrade" today simply take advantage of the ease of passing upper
written tests to achieve an Extra class to take advantage of maximum operating privileges still in regulations for the last decade-plus.

K6LHA
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AB2T
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« Reply #214 on: October 19, 2010, 05:58:55 AM »

Thus the code test became a sort of Great Equalizer. The elementary school child and the Ph.D.EE would often start at the same level. And sometimes they would not end at the same level.

That's what bothered some folks so much.

The same sort of thing is still going on. Have *any* testing that isn't trivial and you'll find somebody who rails against it and wants it eliminated.

I know I'm supposed to stay out of this discussion ... whatever ...

It took me 15 years to become fluent in a dead language.  When I started my doctoral studies (what the heck, why not mention it considering that this is a pissing contest) I was told that I had to get up to speed in another dead language.  In other words, cram 15 years of proficiency into four years.  Most of the other students have had at least a decade of study in this language.

Let's see ... I've already failed two examinations.  I struggle every single day to read passages that my peers breeze through.  I still sit down every day and plod through the texts.  I know I will triumph.  Every moment is one step closer to proficiency.  When I earn this proficiency I will have earned a prize much greater than the certificate dropped in my mailbox.  Where would I be if I told my department that I didn't need to study languages anymore "since everything's in translation and the students over at Whatsamatta U. don't have to fulfill this requirement."  I'd be given my hat and shown the door. 

Piddling crap like a stupid five minute morse code test means absolutely nothing in life.  Children, not adults, think in terms of entitlement.

73, Jordan   
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N2EY
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« Reply #215 on: October 19, 2010, 04:18:24 PM »

I know I'm supposed to stay out of this discussion ... whatever ...

Why are you supposed to stay out of it? Seems to me you have something to contribute even if I don't agree with all of what you say.

It took me 15 years to become fluent in a dead language.  When I started my doctoral studies (what the heck, why not mention it considering that this is a pissing contest) I was told that I had to get up to speed in another dead language.  In other words, cram 15 years of proficiency into four years.  Most of the other students have had at least a decade of study in this language.

But Morse Code isn't a dead language; you can hear hams using it *on the air* all over the world.

And the license exams in the USA have never required anything approaching fluency. Or even proficiency.

I mean, even the old 20 wpm test only required 1 solid minute out of 5, or getting 7 of 10 questions right.

Piddling crap like a stupid five minute morse code test means absolutely nothing in life.

I dunno about that. For me, it was part of getting a license that opened up a whole new world for me. Others let it be a barrier for them - for decades, in some cases.

Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about, though.

Children, not adults, think in terms of entitlement.

Well said!

73 de Jim, N2EY

btw - which dead languages?

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AB2T
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« Reply #216 on: October 20, 2010, 11:49:44 AM »

But Morse Code isn't a dead language; you can hear hams using it *on the air* all over the world.

And the license exams in the USA have never required anything approaching fluency. Or even proficiency.

I mean, even the old 20 wpm test only required 1 solid minute out of 5, or getting 7 of 10 questions right.

I got precisely seven out of ten on my 20 wpm quiz.  I could not head copy 20 at the time, and I can't handwrite anything faster than 10 wpm (poor fine motor control).  But somehow I passed the test fair and square.  Nowadays I can copy 20 wpm onto a page but I would need a "mill" (i.e. a laptop).

Anyway, CW is a language.  The international version has a special alphabet (twenty six Roman characters + punctuation + five procedural characters) and a special vocabulary that transcends spoken or literary language.  The code license exams don't test anything but the first part of a "standard" contact that one would learn as a Novice.  So, in that respect, fluency is not taught (i.e. the comprehension tri- and polysyllabic words.)   

Piddling crap like a stupid five minute morse code test means absolutely nothing in life.

I dunno about that. For me, it was part of getting a license that opened up a whole new world for me. Others let it be a barrier for them - for decades, in some cases.

Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about, though.

Okay, that was a little harsh.  What I meant to say is this: you and I have passed exams that are much more intensive and significant than the code exams.  Here I refer to school and professional exams.  I agree that the code exams opened a new world of leisure and interest to me (that is, CW operation).  Yet, I would never be asked to drop out of school or lose professional accreditation and esteem for not passing the 20 wpm or any ham exam. 

Those, however, who let the old exams become a barrier were often afraid to fail.  Paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: It is not important that you've failed, but whether you are satisfied with your failure.  How many people lost a whole ham "career" because they couldn't be satisfied with failure?  I was lucky in that I passed the 20 wpm and didn't have to sit the 13 wpm, but I would have sat in that plastic chair for as long as it would take to earn that Extra.  Glad I never have to listen to that cheap tinny speaker, though. 

btw - which dead languages?

Latin and ancient Greek.  It's the Greek that needs desperate help. 

73, Jordan
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N2EY
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« Reply #217 on: October 20, 2010, 03:08:08 PM »

I got precisely seven out of ten on my 20 wpm quiz.  I could not head copy 20 at the time, and I can't handwrite anything faster than 10 wpm (poor fine motor control).  But somehow I passed the test fair and square.  Nowadays I can copy 20 wpm onto a page but I would need a "mill" (i.e. a laptop).

Use of a typewriter has always been permitted - if the person being tested supplied it. (btw, "mill" in the strictest sense refers only to a typewriter...)

You may recall my story of how the FCC examiner couldn't read my "Palmer Method" script at 13 wpm, so I went home and taught myself to block-print Signal Corps style at 30 wpm. Went back and passed on the second go.

Anyway, CW is a language.  The international version has a special alphabet (twenty six Roman characters + punctuation + five procedural characters) and a special vocabulary that transcends spoken or literary language.  The code license exams don't test anything but the first part of a "standard" contact that one would learn as a Novice.  So, in that respect, fluency is not taught (i.e. the comprehension tri- and polysyllabic words.) 

Exactly. Plain language English text, that's all. Similar to learning to recognize 41 words in a foreign language - except that the words would always be spoken the same except for speed.

Now, you wanna talk about fluency....how about being able to carry on a complete conversation at 30+ wpm without writing anything down? How about being able to copy a long message (couple of hundred words) with 100% copy using pencil and paper?

What I meant to say is this: you and I have passed exams that are much more intensive and significant than the code exams.  Here I refer to school and professional exams.  I agree that the code exams opened a new world of leisure and interest to me (that is, CW operation).  Yet, I would never be asked to drop out of school or lose professional accreditation and esteem for not passing the 20 wpm or any ham exam.

Nor would you get multiple chances at the test, or near-complete freedom as to when you took it. Nor a wide variety of free and near-free ways of learning and practicing it.
 
Those, however, who let the old exams become a barrier were often afraid to fail.  Paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: It is not important that you've failed, but whether you are satisfied with your failure.  How many people lost a whole ham "career" because they couldn't be satisfied with failure?.

No, they lost out because they wouldn't even take the *risk* of failing. The person who tries and fails has at least tried.

But your point is still valid: Some were afraid to even try because they *might* fail.

There are/were also some who thought the requirements were beneath their dignity. Just the name of the Novice license stopped at least one I know of. The idea of having to learn something nontrivial from scratch just to get an amateur radio license stopped some too.

btw - which dead languages?


Latin and ancient Greek.  It's the Greek that needs desperate help. 

I had 2 years of Latin in high school; to this day I think the time would have been better spent learning other things, like typing. (In those days, students above a certain academic level at my schools were not allowed to take typing as a course. We were expected to learn it on our own if we wanted the skill).

Latin was a requirement that had to be met, so we met it.

At least it wasn't like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIAdHEwiAy8

Greek is more involved for a whole bunch of reasons, such as using a somewhat-different alphabet. I can "read" modern Greek in that I can look at the letters and tell you approximately how the words are pronounced. Translating it is another thing entirely.

---

Here's a thought-experiment for you:

Imagine a world where Morse Code and American Sign Language were taught to all students in the schools as a "life skill". Could be part of Language Arts, starting in elementary school.

Imagine a world where almost everyone you met understood ASL and Morse Code at some level, so you could converse in a variety of ways.

Wouldn't that be great?

73 de Jim, N2EY
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AB2T
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« Reply #218 on: October 21, 2010, 04:56:38 AM »

Now, you wanna talk about fluency....how about being able to carry on a complete conversation at 30+ wpm without writing anything down? How about being able to copy a long message (couple of hundred words) with 100% copy using pencil and paper?

I'm without a station, so practice is difficult.  I can do 20 wpm head copy well enough, but I keep working at 30 wpm standard English text (not CW language or contest).  I also work on sending so that when I get back on the air I'll be comprehensible.  I also bought a better pair of paddles that should be easier on the hands.  A good portion of ham radio training takes place off the air.  I'd hope that the Olympic shot-put competitors practice before the big event.  If not, I'll sit somewhere in the stadium that's away from the trajectory of the weight.     

I had 2 years of Latin in high school; to this day I think the time would have been better spent learning other things, like typing. (In those days, students above a certain academic level at my schools were not allowed to take typing as a course. We were expected to learn it on our own if we wanted the skill).

Latin was a requirement that had to be met, so we met it.

I had to take a year of single-variable calculus in high school despite my best efforts.  I've forgotten all of it and still have to use a simple calculator for many things.  So, some courses are useful for some and not for others.  I remember reading that you are an EE, so advanced math is as important for you as Latin is for me.

At least it wasn't like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIAdHEwiAy8

That segment of Life of Brian (one of my favorite movies as well, and also a great way to teach late antiquity and early Christianity to undergraduates) highlights the once heavy emphasis on Latin and Greek in the British grammar school curriculum.  This is no longer the case.  However, I bet more than one older English person sympathized with Brian's poor Latin.

Here's an example from Ingmar Bergman that reminds me of my high school Latin classes:

http://tinyurl.com/2g3nvgu (if you have IE8 or greater, use the 'transcript' function for the subtitles)

My high school Latin teacher wasn't sadistic but rather an elderly and somewhat senile priest.  But the setting is familiar, down to the all-boys'-school and the business attire. 

Greek is more involved for a whole bunch of reasons, such as using a somewhat-different alphabet. I can "read" modern Greek in that I can look at the letters and tell you approximately how the words are pronounced. Translating it is another thing entirely.

Until 1975 or so Greece was a diglossic (actually triglossic) society: state business and newspapers were in katharevousa, or the "high" dialect, similar to the New Testament Greek; most people spoke demotic, which is the organic vernacular; and pure New Testament Greek (koine) was heard at Mass.  Now only the demotic "Modern Greek" is used in everyday life (God is still addressed in the ancient language).  I can read katharevousa fairly well because it is relatively close to the New Testament.  But I have no clue with Modern Greek.  It is almost a completely different language from Plato and Paul.     

Here's a thought-experiment for you:

Imagine a world where Morse Code and American Sign Language were taught to all students in the schools as a "life skill". Could be part of Language Arts, starting in elementary school.

Imagine a world where almost everyone you met understood ASL and Morse Code at some level, so you could converse in a variety of ways.

Wouldn't that be great?

I think it would.  I have a close compsci friend who thought it would be great to program cellphones with morse code for touch text messaging.  I could never get him to be a ham -- he labored under the myth that "ham radio was expensive" even though his undergraduate EE school had a Kenwood hybrid station right in the building.  He is a very intelligent person who could have gotten through all the exams as a teen.  Anyway, his idea would be a great way to mainstream code into society.  This invention would also quell those who complain that "morse code is useless today" or other excuse.     

It doesn't take much to teach a child new languages.  A class could easily add ASL to to the curriculum.  However, the American educational system prefers general education rather than specific training.  In Germany, for example, anywhere from 10% to 25% of the student population is selected at around age 12 for a classical academic education (gymnasia), while others are trained for clerical, managerial, retail, and manual occupations.  The exclusion of ASL (or any additional language education) for a relative few would create political entanglements that I suspect many school boards would rather avoid.  Nevertheless, I think that ASL is a wonderful idea within the context of private education or well-funded and receptive public districts.

73, Jordan
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K6LHA
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« Reply #219 on: October 21, 2010, 11:16:06 AM »

Here's a fantastic THOUGHT EXPERIMENT for everyone:

Suppose someone started a topic with a question and everyone else actually REPLIED ON-TOPIC?!?

Like, without overhauling the entire academic community or parroting the myth that International Morse Code is a "language" instead of what it really is, an atonal on-off-keying representation of the characters in the ENGLISH LANGUAGE?

I guess that is just too revolutionary for this group of gurus...     Grin

73, Len K6LHA
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K7KBN
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« Reply #220 on: October 21, 2010, 01:26:51 PM »

Here's a fantastic THOUGHT EXPERIMENT for everyone:

Suppose someone started a topic with a question and everyone else actually REPLIED ON-TOPIC?!?

Like, without overhauling the entire academic community or parroting the myth that International Morse Code is a "language" instead of what it really is, an atonal on-off-keying representation of the characters in the ENGLISH LANGUAGE?

I guess that is just too revolutionary for this group of gurus...     Grin

73, Len K6LHA


...and Cyrillic characters in the RUSSIAN LANGUAGE, kana characters in the JAPANESE LANGUAGE, diacritically diverse characters in the GERMAN, FRENCH, SPANISH, SCANDANAVIAN AND ICELANDIC LANGUAGES, and many more.  Widen your mind a little, Lennie.  Or is that too counterrevolutionary for your group of one?
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Pat K7KBN
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« Reply #221 on: October 21, 2010, 06:39:42 PM »

Now, you wanna talk about fluency....how about being able to carry on a complete conversation at 30+ wpm without writing anything down? How about being able to copy a long message (couple of hundred words) with 100% copy using pencil and paper?

I'm without a station, so practice is difficult.  I can do 20 wpm head copy well enough, but I keep working at 30 wpm standard English text (not CW language or contest).  I also work on sending so that when I get back on the air I'll be comprehensible.  I also bought a better pair of paddles that should be easier on the hands.  A good portion of ham radio training takes place off the air.  I'd hope that the Olympic shot-put competitors practice before the big event.  If not, I'll sit somewhere in the stadium that's away from the trajectory of the weight. 

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

I was trying to emphasize the point that even the old 20-wpm-in-front-of-FCC-examiner test wasn't "proficiency" or "fluency" compared to what a lot of hams have learned to do - and do every day.

As for being without a station, a Morse Code station is about the simplest and least expensive way to get on the air. But see below about "expensive".


I had to take a year of single-variable calculus in high school despite my best efforts.  I've forgotten all of it and still have to use a simple calculator for many things.  So, some courses are useful for some and not for others.  I remember reading that you are an EE, so advanced math is as important for you as Latin is for me.

Of course. But there's more to it: Math is also about logic, about learning to follow rules and come up with exact and correct answers. Math is not about opinions; it doesn't matter how many people think 2 plus 2 equals 5.


That segment of Life of Brian (one of my favorite movies as well, and also a great way to teach late antiquity and early Christianity to undergraduates) highlights the once heavy emphasis on Latin and Greek in the British grammar school curriculum.  This is no longer the case.  However, I bet more than one older English person sympathized with Brian's poor Latin.

My high-school Latin experience was about the same; I understood that scene perfectly.

When "Life of Brian" came out, I and several of my highschool friends went to see it. We all related to that scene.

Another favorite was the exchange in "Holy Grail" where the peasant argues politics with King Arthur, and demolishes all possible arguments for a monarchy. Particularly one granted by "a farcical aquatic ceremony".

"Who made you king? I didn't vote for you!"


My high school Latin teacher wasn't sadistic but rather an elderly and somewhat senile priest.  But the setting is familiar, down to the all-boys'-school and the business attire. 

I went to a similar high school. Same attire, same sort of thing, but the teacher was neither senile nor sadistic. Just strict. And from the Netherlands. Fluent in English, Latin, Greek (classic), French, German and a couple of other languages. For all I know he even knew Morse Code; he'd survived the Nazi occupation during WW2 and had been involved in some rather underground doings. 

Here's a thought-experiment for you:

Imagine a world where Morse Code and American Sign Language were taught to all students in the schools as a "life skill". Could be part of Language Arts, starting in elementary school.

Imagine a world where almost everyone you met understood ASL and Morse Code at some level, so you could converse in a variety of ways.

Wouldn't that be great?

I think it would.  I have a close compsci friend who thought it would be great to program cellphones with morse code for touch text messaging.  I could never get him to be a ham -- he labored under the myth that "ham radio was expensive" even though his undergraduate EE school had a Kenwood hybrid station right in the building.  He is a very intelligent person who could have gotten through all the exams as a teen.  Anyway, his idea would be a great way to mainstream code into society.  This invention would also quell those who complain that "morse code is useless today" or other excuse. 

There are several Morse-related apps. A whole new generation is discovering the usefulness of a human-machine interface that doesn't require you to look at the machine.

One really neat application of Morse in everyday life is to have your cellphone ringtones spell out the caller in Morse. That way you know who is calling by the ring.   

About your friend's idea that ham radio is "expensive" - in a way, it is very expensive.

Nowadays ham radio *equipment* is less expensive than ever, when you consider what you get for your money and adjust for inflation. For example, for <$2000 you can get a mid-range MF/HF/6 transceiver with ATU and filters, coax, mike, key, power supply, antenna, etc. All brand new and ready-made.

$2000 in today's money equates to about $250-300 when I started out as a ham, and back then $250-300 bought a new midrange receiver - maybe. (Drake 2B with 2BQ).

What's expensive about ham radio today is the house to put it in.


It doesn't take much to teach a child new languages.  A class could easily add ASL to to the curriculum.  However, the American educational system prefers general education rather than specific training.  In Germany, for example, anywhere from 10% to 25% of the student population is selected at around age 12 for a classical academic education (gymnasia), while others are trained for clerical, managerial, retail, and manual occupations.  The exclusion of ASL (or any additional language education) for a relative few would create political entanglements that I suspect many school boards would rather avoid.  Nevertheless, I think that ASL is a wonderful idea within the context of private education or well-funded and receptive public districts.

Couple of points:

- There is no such thing as "the American educational system", at least outside of general guidelines and unfunded mandates. What we have are thousands of educational systems that vary from world-class excellent to simply awful, depending on the situation. A big part of the problem is money, of course; good education doesn't come cheap. Some communities are much more willing (and able) to invest in the future than others. Even the best schools struggle to meet all the mandates and requirements.

- American culture in general often suffers from the "NIH problem" (Not Invented Here). You see it in health care, transit, energy policy, trade policy, and of course education. Heaven forbid the USA should learn from other countries' successes!

- There is considerable research and experience which shows that babies are able to learn basic sign even before speech. They can then sign what they want (food, diaper change, etc.) instead of just wailing. Still in its early stages, but imagine...

73 de Jim, N2EY
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« Reply #222 on: October 22, 2010, 08:51:37 AM »

Of course. But there's more to it: Math is also about logic, about learning to follow rules and come up with exact and correct answers. Math is not about opinions; it doesn't matter how many people think 2 plus 2 equals 5.

I agree so far as the hard sciences teach logical thinking and an understanding of the natural world through the properties of numbers (i.e. through the intersection of physics, chemistry, and mathematics).  Humanities education, and the humanistic argument, are important as well.  A term paper in history, for example, ideally should not demonstrate opinion but the ability to formulate a thesis and argument well.  It's not that much different than scientific inquiry.  A math problem or physics problem involves both the answer and the proof.  A person who writes a calculus test without proving his or her answers would receive a very poor score on a test.  Likewise, a humanities student with interesting opinions but a weak thesis and argument would likewise do poorly.  Part of the difficulty in higher humanities education today derives from the secondary school emphasis on creativity.  Creativity and imagination are great engines for progress and discovery.  These phenomena must be harnessed by the scientific method, the mathematical proof, and the cogent argument.   

There is no such thing as "the American educational system", at least outside of general guidelines and unfunded mandates. What we have are thousands of educational systems that vary from world-class excellent to simply awful, depending on the situation. A big part of the problem is money, of course; good education doesn't come cheap. Some communities are much more willing (and able) to invest in the future than others. Even the best schools struggle to meet all the mandates and requirements.

This is quite true.  Recent efforts at national secondary curricula (such as the Advanced Placement) have not benefited most students.  There is also the legacy of Jim Crow and de facto segregation well after the Civil Rights Act.  The end of official discrimination has not ended implicit discrimination.  Then again, in Germany very few immigrants sit for the Abitur (national university entrance exam.)  The large "guest worker" Turkish population in Germany faces strong educational discrimination within a system that favors Germans and more specifically affluent Germans.  The decentralization of the American secondary curriculum is a distraction from the socio-economic and ethnic factors that gird this debate. 

While "poor" districts have difficulty meeting basic educational needs, wealthy districts often struggle with tort.  The school district for my American address contains a healthy portion of affluent families.  Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase "helicopter parents".  Many parents today micromanage their children's education to the point of harassing high school and university administration for benefits for their children.  This Connecticut school district has faced a number of tort cases on issues ranging from special education access and the accommodation of a student with a peanut product allergy.  Wealthy districts might have the hypothetical means to provide strong educational benefits to students.  Sometimes wealth is a millstone around the necks of administrators.  The superintendent of the Connecticut district demands a very high salary for a district superintendent.  However, he receives this salary for his ability to manage the often difficult entanglements in his district.   

There is considerable research and experience which shows that babies are able to learn basic sign even before speech. They can then sign what they want (food, diaper change, etc.) instead of just wailing. Still in its early stages, but imagine...

Yes, very young children are quite receptive to language.  It's important, however, to take a measured approach to the introduction of languages.  A few years ago the "Baby Einstein" videotapes and CD's were all the rage.  Mothers would even place the headphones over a gestating child.  I suspect that it is counterproductive to introduce language to a child under the pretext that language acquisition will make a child smarter.  All of us are composites of intellectual strengths and weaknesses.  Rather, language acquisition for very young children should be approached as a gift of communication rather than planning for the SATs.

73, Jordan
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« Reply #223 on: October 22, 2010, 12:54:54 PM »

...and Cyrillic characters in the RUSSIAN LANGUAGE, kana characters in the JAPANESE LANGUAGE, diacritically diverse characters in the GERMAN, FRENCH, SPANISH, SCANDANAVIAN AND ICELANDIC LANGUAGES, and many more. 
Now, now...let's not get all riled up about this pseudo-intellectual bloggism going on about languages, not to mention the usual Bile, Resentment, Anger and RANTING about the ending of all code testing for USA amateur radio licenses on 23 Feb 10 that simmers just below boiling point
with so many amateur long-timers.

If you had ever looked at the USA amateur radio regulations after 1974, you might have noticed that it was specifically stated in LAW for USA radio amateurs that it was INTERNATIONAL MORSE CODE.  The referenced document in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., in 1995 was an old CCITT document-
regulation, later updated by the FCC to be the same document under the ITU-T (International Telecommunications Union) format.  Same subject and was for international communications, NOT specifically for amateur radio, in fact not even referencing amateur radio per se.

I have both the CCITT and ITU documents. Both specifically define the English Language characters. Repeat, ENGLISH. It was NOT any Russian Cyrillic, NOT[ Japanese Kanji or Katakana, NOT any other language but English. The original implied reason for
the document was to standardize civil international telegraphy exchanges.

Yes, "morse code" has many different variatnts/dialects/redefinitions that spread throughout the world since the first Morse-Vail Telegram line opened up between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD, in 1844. Let's stop and think: 1844 was 166 years ago. 'Radio' would not be publicly demonstrated as a communications medium until 1896, 52 years later. 'Radio' is only 114 years old and, in the beginning, so technologically primitive that the only practical means of communicating was to turn the transmitter on and off. "Morse code" was good enough for that purpose since it just turned a
landline electrical current on and off.

It is totally illogical (if not ridiculous) to assume that 'morse code' or, more properly, OOK CW is 'perfectly readable' to anyone using a language other than English. For amateur radio use, the international STANDARD adopted was the original CCITT international standard for telegraphy
exchanges. 'Dialects' of OOK CW languages, notably the symbolic-reqpresentations such as Arabic or Asian variations do not have anything in common with alphabetic languages. The only way to facilitate international telegram exchanges was to standardize on ONE language. Long ago, before my time and yours, that language was English.

A problem that native-English speakers have is that they think "everyone" has the cognitive ability in English, especially the arrogant amateur old-timers. USA and UK radio amateurs have it easy with "morse code" since they are (almost always) native-English speakers. INTERNATIONAL MORSE CODE characters are specifically defined as being based on the ENGLISH language.     

Quote
Widen your mind a little, Lennie.  Or is that too counterrevolutionary for your group of one?
I am tempted to reply in-kind but then have to realize that you began as a USN professional in radio and spent 32 years in that military branch. I would surmise that you are confusing your military professionalism with USA AMATEUR radio regulations. 'Radio' is not synonymous with "morse code." The first 'radio' communications began with "morse code" simply because it was a technologically-primitive, but established for 52 years, means of conveying communications across long distances.

I began as a US Army professional in HF radio in early February 1953. I don't confuse my military experience with my amateur radio experience except to note that the technology is the SAME due o the laws of physics, not by man-made laws of use. While still in the military, I operated on VHF nd UHF and microwaves up to 1.8 GHz. Not a single radio circuit on any of 36 high-power HF ransmitters at "my" radio station used any OOK CW modes for any radio circuit. Since 1948, not just 1953.
=============================
In the beginning of this topic Why Have An Amateur Extra?, KD8HMO asked that question on 21 ugust 2010. Since then the "answers" went beyond the topic by quite a bit. Finally, they approached the Blog Orbit and settled into some New Topic far removed from offending the angry old-timers who have had their Extras so long they think they are "experts" on everything in the world.  Grin

I would suggest that folks in here consider the MISCELLANEOUS Forum for subjects that don't all under the old-timers' "do it our way or not at all!" ranting. <shrug>

73, Len K6LHA
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« Reply #224 on: October 22, 2010, 05:13:18 PM »


I agree so far as the hard sciences teach logical thinking and an understanding of the natural world through the properties of numbers (i.e. through the intersection of physics, chemistry, and mathematics).  Humanities education, and the humanistic argument, are important as well.  A term paper in history, for example, ideally should not demonstrate opinion but the ability to formulate a thesis and argument well.  It's not that much different than scientific inquiry.  A math problem or physics problem involves both the answer and the proof.  A person who writes a calculus test without proving his or her answers would receive a very poor score on a test.  Likewise, a humanities student with interesting opinions but a weak thesis and argument would likewise do poorly.

I agree that both the hard sciences and the humanities are important. IMHO the most important thing is to balance the two.

But the point about opinions vs. logic is best illustrated by an example.

Consider a physics/math problem where you are told that a train is at rest at a certain point on a long straight track. It then accelerates according to a given formula for a certain amount of time, then goes at a steady speed, then decelerates, accelerates, reverses direction, etc., according to information given in the problem.

You are asked to calculate the final position of the train relative to its starting position using the given data, which includes the fact that relativistic effects do not enter into it.

Such a problem can be calculated several ways, but has one and only one correct answer.

Now consider a history question in which you are asked to explain in an essay why the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Such an essay would discuss all sorts of factors, such as:

- the USA cutting off sales of oil and other strategic materials to Japan earlier in 1941
- the expansionist mindset of the Japanese leadership at the time
- the apparent victories of the Axis powers in Europe, and the perceived distraction of US and UK attention there
- the Japanese belief that the USA was unready and unwilling to fight, particularly if a decisive battle were lost early on

and many more.

There is no single correct answer to such a question. The way to answer it is to display an understanding of the various factors and to discuss how they influenced the decision to attack.

And if asked what was the most important single factor, the answer is really one of opinion. Of course one can present a well-founded and well-presented opinion, or an opinion that isn't, but in the end it's an opinion.

See the difference?

There is no such thing as "the American educational system", at least outside of general guidelines and unfunded mandates. What we have are thousands of educational systems that vary from world-class excellent to simply awful, depending on the situation. A big part of the problem is money, of course; good education doesn't come cheap. Some communities are much more willing (and able) to invest in the future than others. Even the best schools struggle to meet all the mandates and requirements.

This is quite true.  Recent efforts at national secondary curricula (such as the Advanced Placement) have not benefited most students.  There is also the legacy of Jim Crow and de facto segregation well after the Civil Rights Act.  The end of official discrimination has not ended implicit discrimination.

What de facto segregation exists today in US education? If someone lives in a particular school district, they have a right to a free, appropriate public education from that district, regardless of their ethnicity, "race", gender, etc. They also have the choice of private schools.

Of course the quality of education varies enormously from school district to school district. One common solution is to move to a good school district - if you can afford to. That's a question of economics, not segregation.

Then again, in Germany very few immigrants sit for the Abitur (national university entrance exam.)  The large "guest worker" Turkish population in Germany faces strong educational discrimination within a system that favors Germans and more specifically affluent Germans.  The decentralization of the American secondary curriculum is a distraction from the socio-economic and ethnic factors that gird this debate.  

I disagree in part. It's not just the secondary curriculum; all levels are important.

IMHO the biggest factor is what the communities value. See below for more on that.

While "poor" districts have difficulty meeting basic educational needs, wealthy districts often struggle with tort.  The school district for my American address contains a healthy portion of affluent families.  Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase "helicopter parents".  Many parents today micromanage their children's education to the point of harassing high school and university administration for benefits for their children.  This Connecticut school district has faced a number of tort cases on issues ranging from special education access and the accommodation of a student with a peanut product allergy.  Wealthy districts might have the hypothetical means to provide strong educational benefits to students.  Sometimes wealth is a millstone around the necks of administrators.  The superintendent of the Connecticut district demands a very high salary for a district superintendent.  However, he receives this salary for his ability to manage the often difficult entanglements in his district.  

I agree there are extreme cases of helicoptering. But I think they are the exception.

btw, I have some experience in this whole area. Doesn't make me an expert, just a person who has dealt with many of these issues.

What I see in many cases is the parents being advocates for their children's rights. In the old days, the public schools could simply ignore the needs of children with special needs, particularly if those needs involved significant costs. Those days are gone - which is a good thing, but it raises the price.

At the same time, the schools are mandated to provide the "least restrictive" appropriate educational environment - which means the least services. No district has infinite resources, too.

For example, what should be done for the kid with the peanut allergy? It's a life-threatening condition, but manageable if the kid is simply kept away from peanuts. Should s/he be denied a public education because of it?

Or consider the kids with special educational needs - should they be denied an appropriate education if their parents are not rich enough to send them to special private schools?

(Look up a woman named Temple Grandin for an example of the difference an appropriate education can make).

There is considerable research and experience which shows that babies are able to learn basic sign even before speech. They can then sign what they want (food, diaper change, etc.) instead of just wailing. Still in its early stages, but imagine...

Yes, very young children are quite receptive to language.  It's important, however, to take a measured approach to the introduction of languages.  A few years ago the "Baby Einstein" videotapes and CD's were all the rage.  Mothers would even place the headphones over a gestating child.  I suspect that it is counterproductive to introduce language to a child under the pretext that language acquisition will make a child smarter.  All of us are composites of intellectual strengths and weaknesses.  Rather, language acquisition for very young children should be approached as a gift of communication rather than planning for the SATs.

It's a question of balance. And of distinguishing real science from fads & fashions. Which isn't easy.

For example, one of the biggest factors influencing children is what they see their parents doing. If the parental units are always watching TV, the kids will think that's normal, even before they have the language to express it. And they will probably imitate the behavior. If they see the parental units reading, they'll think *that's* normal - and probably imitate the behavior.

If they are read to often, they will get even more benefits.

I have known children who essentially taught themselves to read because they wanted to read to their parents...

About the social factors:

One of the problems many districts face is lack of funding even though they are in areas perceived as "wealthy". The community sometimes refuses to adequately fund the schools, for a variety of reasons. The result is often that people who value education for their kids move away, people who don't move in, and the disparity escalates.

Another problem is districts getting bogged down in things like teaching "creationism", which drains resources but doesn't educate anyone. (Listen to Chris Smithers' song "Origin of Species" for a fresh view on the issue).

There are districts where there is almost unlimited funding for certain sports but other aspects of education are neglected.

There are districts where the parents expect the schools to work miracles with no support at home. And districts where the parents expect almost nothing from the schools.

There are districts where the enormous operating expense of old buildings consumes the few available resources.

Some folks point to the parochial and private schools and point out how they manage to educate kids for less money than the public schools. What they ignore is the fact that those schools can simply not admit any student they choose not to admit.

How do we fix all those factors?

73 de Jim, N2EY
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