Sesame Street for trolls

The offices of FMdxing Incorporated are pleased to present this take on the ‘evils’ of social networking. Take it away Chaser lads…

This post may self-destruct a considerable time before Tony Abbott ‘stops the boats’ & Julia Gillard starts wearing sneakers.

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Getting away with it all, that’s the living – contemporary education

The two last months alone show ‘collaborative cheating’ & ‘contract essay’ services are booming. At Harvard, 125 students (almost half the political science class) cheated. At Deakin, 10 students (10% of the class) were suspected of dirty play after an investigation by the Business & Law faculty.

On the Harvard cheating investigation, the Last Psychiatrist offers a unique perspective almost blaming the students as ‘victims’:

…Everyone in that class cheated: if they didn’t copy off of each other, they copied off of the professor, with no internalization of the “knowledge” because that was never the point of the class. If you want to try and tell me how those are any different, I’ll be at the bar… You force 125 people to collaborate on the real final exam question: “What does the professor want?” Apparently, what he wants is an easy way to grade, and you all got caught accommodating him.

Australians love to blame the educators, especially public school teachers, the kids again are the victims… apparently.

The commentators on that blog made such astute observations that this post will focus on those broader issues. Hell, that’s exactly the purpose of blogging: to promote discussion.

Do we reflect on exactly how we educate ourselves or are we focussed on simply getting through the university or training course to maximize our CV?

Here’s some food for thought inspired by that blog! Some questions that maybe we are all too busy to ask ourselves!

Can original thought have value or is it merely risk taking?

Whose determination of what constitutes critical thinking is valid? Who determines precisely which forms of research are valid?

Is critiquing high quality sources a form of risk taking?

Is there ever a right answer in an essay or argument? Is balance warranted?

Does grading simplicity promote a form of learning that is inherently flawed?

How should performance be measured in our training & work?

What should we obtain from our courses? An education or a passing grade? Is the former an impossible ideal?

Why should interpreting sources as ‘authoritative’ be a valued skill?

Is validating those who are more educated or experienced than yourself necessary to progress in society?

Do modern university candidates (students) have a delusion of superior intelligence? Or are the academics the narcissists?

Are all universities just degree factories? Is education underpinning capitalism rather than furthering society?

Is cheating an effective form of time management or laziness?

‘Getting away with it all, that’s the living’? Should the best cheats prosper? And finally… should the most successful plagiarists consider a career in competitive cycling?


Disclosure: the author has qualifications from two of the institutions included in this piece.

Marking the Markers courtesy of University of Queensland Law Society. The mag is a satire ‘produced quarterly by a group of highly-attractive UQ law students with a flair for inane drollery’.

Must dash, I’m meeting the Last Psychiatrist at the bar!

Failure & Success

This entry is only being penned because the weather is so terrible. Usually only one entry a week is undertaken, and that is difficult enough with computer obstacles at every turn! This entry will be quick, dirty, trivial but reading it increases body temperature. Ummm… I think…

This blogger failed once again to install Ubuntu 12 alongside Windows XP Professional tonight. A brand new 160 gigabyte hard drive was overkill but it made no difference. Ubuntu installs, all the files are copied but after 20 minutes of installation, a media I/O error comes up every time. After three failed attempts there is no more time to spend on this at the moment. Computers? Bastards.

But with frustration there comes joy… sometimes. This week saw a bargain offer placed on a RDS-EON (Radio Data System Enhanced Other Networks) tuner. Two days later there is a very basic, yet functional tuner for less than $38 delivered by courier.

This is a three gang, single bandwidth tuner designed for the Americas and Asia with LW, MW & FM bands. The German version of the same model has five gangs, more sophisticated filter circuitry & two antenna inputs. Being equipped with only two sets of 150 kHz filters means a ‘narrow filter mod’ or a filter adder board (which is on hand as it happens) is essential to ensure that 100 kHz signals such as 99.3/99.4/99.5 can be heard without being covered in Splutter Rap.

Although the tuner has only three gangs there is a MOS FET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) in the circuit according to the manual. The strong signal performance is above average. It is made in China, being a 2009 model but the guts are well-built and disassembly is a breeze. Every other tuner under ownership is made in Japan so expectations were not high.

RDS Clock & Data outputs are clearly marked on the board. This means with less than a handful of components this tuner can be connected to RDS Spy via USB or serial connection for supreme RDS performance.

In defence of Alan Jones

By Sarah Joseph, Monash University

So, Sydney shock-jock Alan Jones has disgraced himself with his appallingly tasteless and hurtful comment, recorded at a recent Sydney University Liberal club dinner, that the late John Gillard “died of shame” over his daughter Julia. He compounded the ignominy with his bizarre 45 minute “apology” on Sunday. His comments have led to an explosion of justified schadenfreude by the many people who lament his shtick, a tiresome combination of hate, misogyny and misinformation. Politicians, media figures, and thousands and thousands of “ordinary folk” on social media have expressed outrage at his comments. Numerous ALP figures have finally decided that they will no longer indulge him with appearances on his show.

A prominent manifestation of this outrage is an online petition, calling for Radio 2GB to sack Alan Jones, which has attracted over 100,000 signatures. It and similar campaigns have convinced many companies to remove their sponsorship from Jones’ program. Of course, the advocates of these campaigns have every right to run them: they, like Jones, have a right of free speech. But while I am no fan of Jones’ nasty oeuvre, I am not sure that these campaigns are positive developments for discourse in Australia.

2GB radio broadcaster Alan Jones is cornered by the press in Sydney last week. Channel Nine

Let us put these campaigns into perspective. 100,000 + signatures does not equal Jones’ reported audience. And it takes a lot more effort to listen to his show than it does to sign an online petition or like a facebook page. Sure, many sponsors have pulled advertising. But they may have simply moved them to 2GB’s other shows, which include the equally charming Ray Hadley. Some sponsors have announced they are “suspending” advertising, perhaps signalling a return to the fray once the controversy dies down. Finally, Jones is an equity holder at 2GB, so the chances of it sacking him are minimal to nil.

But what if the campaign succeeds? Are we really getting to a stage where a default reaction to an outrageous comment is that “something must be done”, in particular a person should be shut down and taken off the air? Are the campaigners really saying that Alan Jones’ show, which they do not listen to, simply should not exist?

What about the wishes of Alan Jones’ listeners and their tastes? Wouldn’t a better strategy be to use his outrageous comments to convince his listeners that they should stop listening? Would it not be better to try to diminish their number with the power of argument, rather than to seek to deprive them of “their” guy because “we” don’t like his message? What if “they” did the same thing? One can’t be sure that one will always be on the “socially acceptable” side of the barricades in the likely free speech battles that Jones’ removal might prompt.

Jones’ power is over-exaggerated. He has a large audience, but it covers a relatively narrow demographic. It would be a more ignominious fate for Jones to continue his slide in the ratings into ludicrous irrelevance, shouting into the void, rather than to be made a martyr by being “hounded” off the air while his ratings remain high. Let him self-destruct, like Glenn Beck in the US.

‘I still believe Alan is very good at hypocrisy’. 2SM radio broadcaster John Laws is interviewed by Leigh Sales. (Transcript of this classic inteview at: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3602376.htm) ABC

And while one can bemoan the lack of diversity in Australia’s newspaper market, the same is not true of radio. Melbourne in particular has thriving community radio stations. Alan Jones’ ilk clearly doesn’t impress Melbournians, with shock-jock stable MTR dying a ratings death earlier this year. For whatever reason, some Sydneysiders are impressed with that stuff. The removal of Jones due to campaigns by his ideological opponents wouldn’t, I expect, reduce that apparent appetite for shock jocks. And the digital revolution means that the scarcity of the broadcast spectrum is no longer an issue: Jones’ use of airwaves doesn’t crowd out a more worthy participant.

One is of course free to boycott Jones’ remaining advertisers, though I am doubtful that a large percentage of those who have signed the petition will do so. The campaign against the sponsors does however raise interesting issues, as noted obliquely by Todd Sampson on the Gruen Transfer on Wednesday night. Do we want to entrench the idea that private companies are the guardians of what is and what is not allowable speech? I wrote about this in a previous post in regard to social media companies. And certainly, MacQuarie Radio is a private company that owns 2GB and has the power to sack Jones, just as Fairfax Media’s 3AW has recently sacked Derryn Hinch. But do we want that power extended to companies like Freedom Furniture and Hyundai, who have both dropped the Jones program and who can be expected to have zero expertise in the “acceptable speech” arena?

Maybe this concern is naïve. Advertisers already exercise enormous power over broadcast speech. The Jones campaigns may be a positive development in at least injecting an overlay of citizen input, particularly via social media, into the exercise of that power. However, corporate advertising power over speech, in my view, is something that should be discouraged. Rather than encouraging and therefore legitimising the practice, social media is probably better used to call out corporations when they use their advertising power to censor.

Sarah Joseph does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

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Common sense disclaimer: The blog owner wishes to advise that neither The Conversation nor the author Dr Sarah Joseph necessarily endorse the original content of fmDXing.wordpress.com.

Read about it: Ray Dee Oh!

Reading cleanses the soul. Whilst the researching on the internet is predominantly efficient – and abundantly free – for many the activity does not pose any competition for dusting off a great book.

Here are three invaluable books for those interested in long distance FM radio reception.

ARRL HANDBOOK

Easy to understand explanation of propagation, interference and antennas. Published annually. Every enthusiast’s website rips this off to varying degrees!

First published in 2013 by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

$50 new
$38 new for last year’s edition
From $6 for secondhand editions

PIRATE RADIO STATIONS

This was discovered in the three level school library in the 1990s. If any author ‘lit the spark’, it was Andrew R. Yoder. A solid first publication by a student journalist, it is gripping reading. It shows the political impact of broadcasting which can ignite passionate announcers and activists across the world. Proves the hobby is anything but dull!

First published in 1990 by TAB Books.

In 2001, Andrew wrote an updated book called Pirate Radio Stations: Tuning into underground broadcasts in the air & online.

$13 new
From $1 for secondhand copies

 LONG DISTANCE TV RECEPTION FOR THE ENTHUSIAST

This is the legendary Roger Bunney Television Handbook. Because it is quite dated and hard to obtain, this author does not own a copy of this. Nonetheless, plenty of fellow enthusiasts have emailed scanned extracts of this publication. The principles of VHF television reception are generally applicable to FM.

First published in 1981 by Bernard Barbini Publishing.

For those readers who don’t care much for radio reception but are more listeners, you have not been forgotten. The recommendation is…

JONESTOWN: The power and myth of Alan Jones.
A controversial insight into the Sydney radio scene and its enigmatic, almost omnipresent commercial broadcaster Alan Jones. Penned in 2006 by award winning investigative journalist Chris Masters. No need for an image here, just switch on the news this week.

Prices are in US denomination & exclude airmail carriage. The figures presented are indicative. Every effort was made to provide accurate information at the time of publication.