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What's so funny about GPS

A reader rants: The Global Positioning System is just designed to be sure that I won't miss the next pop-up ad. I'm about ready to shut the whole thing off.


What's so funny about GPS

In response to the April 16 Perspectives column by John Dickinson, "So close, yet so far":

Sorry, but who needs the infrastructure to do what Dickinson wrote about?

I can read a map, so I can pick my own route. And if I'm going from New York to D.C., and I'm on the New Jersey Turnpike, the restaurant choice is limited. The last thing I need is some navigation computer sponsored by Chili's (or some other chain restaurant that serves exactly the same food as every other place) telling me where to eat. And I'll figure my own tip--what if the service is awful?

I am old enough to remember that nuclear power would be "too cheap to meter" (those pesky infrastructure costs). I also recall how getting rid of Ma Bell would reduce my telecommunications cost. But with cell phones, Internet service providers, broadband (if you can get it, and I can't get it in Springfield, Va., except via satellite dish), cable TV (not digital) and the rest, I spend thousands of dollars a year. And it's all designed to be sure that I won't miss the next pop-up ad. I'm about ready to shut the whole thing off.

Traffic? Listen to the radio in the car. But you already know that between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., and again between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., it's impossible.

Weather? Forgive me, but if you need an up-to-the-minute warning that you're getting snow in western Pennsylvania in the winter, you need more help than I (or any machine) can give you.

A coffee machine that has coffee waiting for me at home? You mean a dangerous electrical appliance should be on when no one is home? Are you a firebug? Oh, I forgot, the automatic alarm/sprinkler system will take care of that. Beautiful: Fire followed by flood and then the fire department. And no one at home to take responsibility but the infrastructure.

Calling the kids automatically? If I wanted that I would have stayed home. I thought the idea was to get away. No, but the infrastructure won't let me. God forbid if I can't get a pop-up ad.

The problem is that all of this will not work without jeopardizing reasonable cost or privacy. For this scheme to work, every computer will have to know everything about me. I don't want that. I don't want the government knowing that; I don't want some corporation (that I have NO control over) knowing that either.

Philip E. Aronson
Springfield, Va.



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