[CQ-Contest] The Skimmer Rule Challenge

Michael Keane K1MK k1mk at alum.mit.edu
Wed Jun 18 23:39:25 EDT 2008

At 01:32 AM 6/18/2008, Mark Beckwith wrote:
>I can't answer for whether the writer of the rule used the correct elements
>of style.

If we do not presume competence on the part of the writer as to how 
the rules were constructed and do not rely upon standard usage when 
reading the rules, then the rules have no objective meaning.

All we have to work with are the words of the rules. We cannot treat 
the rules as if they were written by Lewis Carrol's Humpty Dumpty 
("When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- 
neither more nor less.").

>Since Skimmer is similar to the other things in the list:

Skimmer is similar in some ways to the items listed; Skimmer is 
dissimilar in other ways to the items listed. The words of the rules 
are silent on whether it is the similarities or the differences that 
are relevant and significant.

>use of etcetera in this case supports the interpretation that Skimmer could
>be included in the list of things that are not permitted without being

Reading et cetera as "a number of other things or persons 
unspecified" is overly expansive reading for etc. as it quickly leads 
one to absurd results.

Yes, Skimmer could be included without being specified. However, by 
that line of argument, unicorns, peanut butter sandwiches and 
solid-state finals could all be included because they are left 
unspecified as well. By induction, any and all things would not be 
permitted as they are not specified.

In the absence of some explicit indication in the rules in the form 
of words such as "includes" or "for example," we are left with only 
the strict interpretation that etc. is an insignificant, tacked-on 
ending and items not included in the list are not covered by the prohibition.

Not necessarily that is what the rules should say, just that is what 
the rules, as they are currently written, do say.

>and that the author of the rule may have intended to include
>theretofore uninvented technologies.
>I would love to hear from the author of the rule.  It would bring a key
>element to this discussion.

Indeed. one can find anomalies in the rules that might lead one to 
question the author's competence in constructing rules (e.g. note 
that the parenthetical list of prohibitions in 2.1.1 is different 
from the list in 2.2.1; can SO(A) stations legally use the Internet 
for DX spotting?)

Until we have a biding interpretation provided by the author or his 
successor to alter  them, the rules are what they are.

Mike K1MK

Michael Keane K1MK
k1mk at alum.mit.edu

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