Status of the ARRL Confidientiality Requirements and the Richard Norton N6AA Censure Issue

I went to Hamvention, and lobbied every ARRL director I met regarding the issue of the confidentiality rules and the Richard Norton N6AA Censure. Including at their donor reception. See this if you’re not up-to-speed on the issue.

It’s clear they have the message that the members are upset. There has been some feedback from Rick Roderick in print that is less than welcoming of dissent. I made a point in speaking with directors that they are a representative organization and must deal with opposition well. I also repeated my belief that this started with bad legal counsel, and that dealing with counsel that might not be the best is one of the most difficult jobs for any director who isn’t a lawyer.

Several directors told me that ARRL had obtained a bylaws template from the National Council of Non-Profits (or a similar organization) and would be submitting that language for member review before voting on it. It’s apparently different from the language, perhaps intended for a for-profit board, that they have partially suspended now. This new language is not yet published.

Rick Roderick (president) and two directors, in the ARRL booth, said that the Ethics and Elections committee would not prevent Richard Norton N6AA from running for director again because he had been censured. I had thought that the censure had the purpose of keeping him from running again, but perhaps they recognize the member sentiment.

However, ARRL directors and officers are not presently considering apologizing to Director Norton, who I believe suffered public defamation at their hands in what seems like ill-considered over-reaction. Nor does it seem the members will get any apology. What I heard from directors is that they consider the matter of Norton’s censure over and done with.

So, Dick Norton brings this whole matter to our attention, it sounds like it will be fixed due to your concern, but Norton suffers for having done it. Norton, of course, has been really nice about it. In his speech at the ARRL forum this year at the International DX Convention in Visalia, he treated everyone else as he would be treated, neither naming names nor speaking ill of others.

A white-paper on governance changes proposes that ARRL indemnify directors and officers against certain kinds of lawsuits. I agree with this. Having gone through a 3 Million Dollar lawsuit regarding my role in Open Source, I see the need and suggest that you approve of this.

The white paper also proposes a trivial addition to the name of ARRL in the bylaws, adding “ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio”. This is because the by-laws date from the early 1900’s and are written for the purpose of ARRL as a message-relaying organization similar to NTS, rather than ARRL’s later role as a representative organization of Radio Amateurs.

So, IMO, those of us who have made noise have been heard and the entire organization will be better off for it. Let’s keep watching the issue and talking with ARRL directors and staff.

Bruce Perens K6BP

2019 Could Be A Boring Year For Space Enthusiasts

SpaceX only has about 19 launches on its manifest in 2019, significantly fewer than in 2018, as most satellite concerns will have recently replaced their satellites in orbit. This was forecast, as there was a lack of new satellite orders for manufacturing in 2015, and build-to-launch is a 2-year cycle.

During 2019, SpaceX will not be ready to launch their own Starlink network, and will probably not be ready to do test launches of the first or second stages of their new, larger rocket. There will probably be some test flights of Dragon 2.

Gee, maybe the satellite market is as inelastic as some people forecast, at least until prices fall even more.

In 2019 we might start to see Blue Origin’s New Glenn, and Stratolaunch might fly. ULA might fly a new version of the same old expendable rocket. ULA’s “Smart Reuse” – a scheme to eject and recover the engines while expending the rest of the rocket – is years away if it ever happens, and seems unambitious.  SpaceX is already at the point of a rocket that can re-fly 10 times without significant refurbishment, while Smart Reuse would have ULA rebuild the rocket for each launch.

Ariane’s CEO whines about SpaceX’s low costs and proposes nothing new. The Chinese and Russians are still far from reuse. India makes baby steps into a space program.

Hoping for some exciting news for 2019.

It’s Impossible To Explain Safety Rules to Some People

If you are an RV enthusiast and handle technical questions, every once in a while you’ll get someone who just can’t understand that basic safety rules should apply to him. Let’s take a simple one, like “don’t put your generator right outside of your RV window, because you’ll die of carbon monoxide poisoning.” These are actual answers from a user of an online RV user group. After these, I asked this person not to take anyone I knew camping with him.

“I don’t believe I have ever run the generator much over an hour at any one time and never while sleeping.”

“I can’t imagine trying to sleep with the racket of the A/C on a hot summer night in Oregon’s central valley!”

“The reason I am short cording the generator to charger at the front and to the 30 amp plug at the rear is the removal of the long shore power cord which I never use. Gives me storage and saves weight.”

“I also like to run silent and deep during the quiet hours. That’s how I avoid the voodoo chickens hanging from the doorknob in the morning.”

Also see How an Amateur Electrician Can Easily Create Lethal Hot-Skin on an RV. I’ve met the same sort of guy while discussing that one.

What if Elon Musk Wanted To Create A Short Squeeze on Tesla Stock?

Tesla is the most shorted stock on the market, with short positions covering more than 30% of the total stock available for trading. Tesla stock has been kited to a high price by its previous short squeezes. When the commitments on short positions came due, the holders had to buy Tesla stock at the prevailing price to fulfil their obligations. They had no choice. There weren’t lots of Tesla shares available to cover the short positions, and thus the price of the stock was driven up.

What if Elon Musk was out to further kite the value of Tesla on a short squeeze, at the expense of all of the Tesla-doubters? He might act exactly as he has been: he’d divert attention from good news, and act like a flake. He’d be confident in doing this, nobody could prove it was deliberate manipulation of the stock without reading his mind. Eventually, those short positions would come due, and there would be no stock to cover them, and Tesla shares would go astronomical.

Short positions like this are called “widow makers”. They can wipe out investors. Elon Musk made his fortune, and continues to, by taking risky actions that other people wouldn’t dare. He obviously has an ego, and pauperizing the shorts would fit that.