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    A Philosophical Sidebar
    From: Robert Eno
    Date: 2011 Jun 25, 17:07 -0400

    I just bought a new marine GPS. A Garmin 78. I had to. My old 72, which is
    still perfectly servicable, unfortunately cannot accept external power
    anymore -- because of some glitch in it's electronics -- which is a must for
    marine navigation. Save purchasing a bushel basket of batteries, I decided
    to bite the bullet and purchase a new GPS. $400 bucks later and one is on
    its way to me.
    
    Normally when I spend this kind of money, which rather hurts in the short
    term, I take solace in the notion that the money is well spent and that if I
    look after the item which I just purchased, I will be able to pass it on to
    my sons.
    
    Well this notion is simply wrong where electronics are concerned. Chances
    are, in 5 years' time, that GPS unit will be not only obsolete but not even
    supported by the Garmin company. It will probably fizzle out and die. Such
    is the nature of electronic gadgetry.
    
    Not so with sextants. I will be able to pass on my C.Plath to my sons and
    they to their sons. With a little basic care, this instrument will last for
    several lifetimes and still be useful for its intended purpose. About the
    only thing that might break on it will be the mirrors which will likely
    always be replaceable.
    
    I am not mentioning this in a valiant, though hopeless attempt to stem the
    tide of electronic navigation in favour of the sextant. The fact is, GPS is
    a very safe and reliable means for continuous, day to day navigation. It
    gives you real-time data in an instant, is convenient and as I said before,
    reliable. OK if it goes down, the prudent mariner will still have other
    means of navigation at his diposal but every man jack out there, regardless
    of his skill level, uses GPS.
    
    So what is the point of this little monologue?? I lament the loss of the
    days where when one spent good money on an instrument, be it a navigation
    instrument or some other contrivance, one could take comfort in the fact
    that said instrument would last several lifetimes and it was money well
    spent. In our disposable, cheap trinket, ever changing society, this is
    simply no longer true and especially so when so many of our contrivances are
    electronic.? A sign of the times and of the future.
    
    Robert
    
    
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