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    Re: Turning Off the GPS
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2006 Apr 5, 09:18 -0700

    Andrew Corl wrote:
    > In an interesting to note the dependence on GPS, during the invasion of Iraq
    > a company commander apparently did not program or know how to use his
    > military GPS unit.  So his company wandered into a village filled with what
    > ever the civilian militia and government terrorists Saddam had created.
    > They ended up in a gun battle, several of his men and women got killed and
    > several more got taken prisoner.  Now I am not saying that as a military
    > commander you should whip out your sextant and take a sun sight to try to
    > figure out where he is, but thank God the U.S. Marines still teach basic
    > land navigation with a map and a compass.
    This is blaming a failure to know how to use a technology on the
    technology!  If one took a wrong turn with a truck and got ambushed,
    would one blame the truck?
    It's not a matter of either-or, it's a matter of using the most
    appropriate technique.  I sure as hell wouldn't be plotting L/Lo off my
    GPS in the middle of a city.  On the other hand, it's pretty hard to
    navigate with a map and compass in the middle of a featureless desert.
    Let's not forget that during the first Iraq war there was a shortage (in
    the US, at least) of GPS receivers because soldiers in Iraq were begging
    their fathers and mothers to buy a GPS and send it to them (the US
    military, as is so often the case, had only a few receivers because they
    were being built to military specifications).
    I've owned a boat for 30+ years.  I've used one form or another of
    electronic navigation on it for 20+, so I thought I was pretty familiar
    with techniques for electronic navigation.  The US Power Squadrons
    recently updated their coastal navigation courses to presume that people
    carry GPS receivers on their boats and not sextants.  I took these
    courses and learned a LOT.  (Fastest way to plot your location on a
    chart?  Forget L/Lo -- put the center of the compass rose in as a
    waypoint and ask for bearing and distance from the waypoint!).  So, just
    like navigating with a sextant, *good* navigation with a GPS takes
    learning and practice.
    That, to me, is a central problem with GPS (or, more correctly, GPS
    usage).  One had to *learn* traditional navigation, whether coastal or
    offshore.  GPS gives one the misimpression that one can simply turn on
    the power switch and not have to learn how to use the box.   Not too
    much different than owning a sail boat vs a power boat.  Sail boats have
    a learning curve.  Power boats can give the impression that one is
    simply dealing with a waterborne version of the family car.  I have on
    more than one occasion been asked for a compass course to get to a
    harbor a dozen or more miles distant by a power-boater who was
    navigating with a road map(!) and had gotten lost!  (BTW, I'm not trying
    to start a rag- vs stink-boat war, just to point out that's it easier
    for an inexperienced person to get into trouble with a powerboat.)
    Lu Abel

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