December 18th, 2006

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No More Morse

The FCC adopted an order today designed to make it easier to become an amature radio relay operator (or "Ham Radio" as it is sometimes known). I don't think the Order is released yet (a fairly common practice), but you can read the press release here:

The change highlighted and perhaps of the most general interest is the elimination of the Morse Code exam. An interesting statement about the ubiquity of radio communication and how it has changed. Morse Code dates from a time when, essentially, long distance communication could take place only in a series of 0s and 1s interpretable by the human brain. A break through then, a hinderance to licensing today. Sic transit gloria mundae.
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On a very special episode of Death Star Reborn: The AT&T/BellSouth Merger

Commissioner McDowell teaches FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and his fellow Commissioners a valuable holiday lesson in ethics, good will toward men, good faith negotiation, and what happens when you put Robert McDowell in a very nasty ethics position.

I swear to God, for us telecom poliocy geeks, this combines the drama of Ugly Betty with your favorite anime, but without the cleavage. (Hey! Indecency standards!)

McDowell announces he will abide by his ethics agreement and refuse to participate in mattersin which Comptel is a major party until one year has passed since he left Comptel on May 31, 2006. So if this stuff is still hanging around in June, he'll play. But if the god folks at AT&T/BS would like to see their merger approved sooner, they need to start making some concessions.

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Intriguing follow up

Awhile ago I posted that the changes in family structure in new, ahistoric patterns will produce new issues for children that we cannot predict. This is neither good or bad, but something we should accept as inevitable. The specific focus of my comments was children of same-sex couples. Politically, supporters of gay marriage feel compelled to maintain that there is NO DIFFERENCE between a loving same sex family and a loving hetero family from a child development perspective. By contrast, those that argue that children reared in such an environemnt will face a different set of issues usually argue that any changes must be BAD, and therefore we must stop this ASSAULT on family values.

Canute can't hold back the tide. But Canute also understood he would get wet when the tide came in.

In any event, I found an intriguing follow up in Sunday's Washington Post. This article written by a woman conceived by artificial insemination details her personal issues -- and she ain't happy.

Unhappy children who lament that they did not ask to be born are hardly a new phenomena. But the author makes a very good point -- she is the first in a new generation of children conceived in a wholly new process, and the blithe assumptions by all the availabe consenting adults to her conception are not necessarily born out by reality.

Whether she is really the voice of a new generation is open to debate. One data point is hardly a trend. Nor, more importantly, is it clear what to do about it. The technology exists and people want to encourage donation. Retroactively changing the rules hardly seems fair. Nor is it necessarily wrong to want to facilitate choice among adults.

But I would say the first step is t actually be open to the idea that maybe, just maybe, wholly new ideas of family and child rearing are social experiments and we should study their outcomes with care. Rather than insist that all MUST be well because we desire to facilitate a particular pateern, we would do better to say "hey, reality marches on. Let's see what happens and address it honestly."