osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Last Night's Annual Nerdpocalypse

Last night was the annual Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) Chairman's Dinner, aka ‪#‎telecomprom‬. For those unfamiliar with this ritual, it is somewhat similar to the White House Press Corp dinner. The telecom bar gathers (1600 in attendance last night) and the Chairman of the FCC makes a self-deprecating speech that also mocks the audience of assembled lawyers and lobbyists.

Like most folks in my profession, I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Telecomprom. I genuinely like a bunch of the people, and also appreciate the need to mingle and engage in the social back and forth that creates community and facilitates getting stuff done. OTOH, it's very crowded and loud.

Chairman Wheeler did a pretty good job. More importantly, they gave Former Acting Chair Now Back To Commissioner Mingon Clyburn a chance to have an "acting" Chairman's Dinner Speech. The FCBA President announced "and now, the Chairman of the FCC." [Pause] "Perhaps he didn't hear. And now, the Chairman of the FCC" and up walks Clyburn. :"I know you all bought your tickets when I was still Acting" explained Clyburn, and then went on to make one or two jokes before yielding the floor to Chairman Wheeler.

You can tell what are the hot issues by the jokes. Wheeler began by saying we had some good wine, but it was limited, so AT&T and Verizon tables would be limited to one bottle each, but Sprint and T-Mobile could get as many as they wanted "But for God's sake, please actually buy something!" This is a spectrum joke for those unfamiliar with our world.

Most of the jokes were about Wheeler himself on expected and safe topics. His age, his background as a lobbyist, his interest in the Civil War (he's actually written a respected book on the subject "Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails," about how Lincoln used the telegraph to revolutionize control of the military and manipulate the press). Example: "As a former lobbyist, let me advise you how to lobby the Chairman. Don't wait for him to pull out pictures of his grandchildren, ask him. For those of you smart enough to applaud, here is a picture of my grandson []" (Slideshow of pictures of grandchildren was a running joke during his speech). "I am probably the only FCC Chairman to have lobbied his own staff. That's why I hired them. They never gave me what i asked for." [Picture of Wheeler at table surrounded by sleeping staff] "Here I am at the first staff meeting, explaining how we can learn key things for Net Neutrality from the Battle of Antietam."

Annoyingly, I managed to do something nasty to my back. I suspect its because I was carrying my backpack the whole time rather than checking it in the coatroom (a notorious chokepoint. You can spend half an hour after the dinner trying to get your stuff).

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