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    Re: WSJ If GPS Failed
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2017 Nov 28, 08:30 -0800

    Regarding the item found on the WSJ website: If GPS Failed, We'd Be More Than Lost, you wrote,
    "This is an article that should have went to press in 2009.  Where have you been WSJ."

    What a load of junk. This isn't a news article at all! It's in the "opinion / commentary" section. This wasn't written by policy journalists or science/technology journalists or security journalists. It wasn't written by WSJ journalists at all. It's an advocacy piece, and the authors are lobbyists. You can look up the profile info for the lead author of the item on his linkedin page. He has no resume to speak of. He's a kid, a recent graduate student who claims some interests in various tech buzzwords and calls himself a "budding systems engineer". His current employment consists of three whole months at a libertarian lobbying organization in Washington, DC. As for the second author, he is listed as senior fellow at the American Council on Science and Health. This is classic Washington-code for a paid lobbyist. The ACSH describe themselves on their Wikipedia page as an "education" organization but they are, in fact, a group that is paid by its clients to advance a variety of tech causes. They actively promote themselves as a technology lobbying organization to their industry clients. Read more here. The authors of this lobbying piece apparently have zero expertise in LORAN specifically and zero expertise in navigation methodology generally.

    As for the content of the piece (ignoring the authors' low competence and viewing it just as a text), it's eight fluffy paragraphs covering topics you could find in the cheapest acccount of risks to GPS. It could have been written years ago. For example, we read in the article: "A truck driver in New Jersey used an illegal but easily acquired GPS jammer to prevent his boss from tracking him. As he drove past Newark Liberty International Airport, his jammer blocked air-traffic control signals." How many times are we going to read this same old anecdote from over five years ago, accompanied by the usual misleading exaggeration that they "blocked" ATC?! Yes, GPS jammers are widely available, and "oh gosh golly, look at all the terrible things they have done!" .... uh, no, apparently not. They're illegal, easily-detected, and the harm they do is minor. The impact of GPS jammers is so trivial and insignificant that alarmist lobbyists can only come up with this tired old tale from Newark Airport. Even GPS spoofing is so far not a significant threat (though probably "coming soon to pirate-infested waters near you").

    We also read about the well-known Starfish Prime nuclear test conducted in 1962 (which was newsworthy science fifty-five years ago when it was conducted). Alarmists love to talk about this nuclear test and then use the word "devastating" (as done in this lobbyist commentary). At least the authors here get the detail correct that the EMP from this test knocked out a few hundred antiquated streetlights in Hawaii ...and did little else. The claim that this proves that satellites are at risk while a ground-based system would be safe is ignorant nonsense. And of course the lobbyists mention the "Carrington Event" because that's, like, some scary thing with a name (in other words a buzzword --the primary area of expertise of the kid listed as the lead author). But scientists talk about it so it must be super-duper important, right? Right??

    My blunt summary: if you have read this little pseudo-article and said to yourself, "Right on! That's some real reporting!" then you have been suckered. You have been conned by paid Washington lobbyists. At least you can take comfort in knowing that these con artists are well-paid professionals, and the fish they're trying to reel in are members of the US Congress. You've been hauled in as bycatch right along with our nation's finest flounder, sole, and halibut.

    Frank Reed
    Clockwork Mapping / ReedNavigation.com
    Conanicut Island USA

       
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