Global Positioning


State Representative David Perryman

According to translations of Plato’s Republic, the proverb, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention,” may well be ascribed to the philosopher.  Plato observed that under normal conditions, a problem will pre-exist a solution.  For instance, why would a person need a ladder if they did not need to perform a task that was too high to reach from the ground?  His reasoning makes perfect sense.  Fortunately, Plato never saw all of the “solutions looking for problems” proposed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

However, there is at least one perpetually recurring problem that through the ages has threatened the very fabric of the institution of marriage. Since time immemorial, wives have suggested to their husbands that driving directions can easily be obtained by stopping to ask and for those same eons, husbands have resisted and avoided compliance.

As generations of my ancestors migrated first to the U.S. and later into Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and ultimately Oklahoma, I cannot imagine the number of times that it was suggested that a stop be made to ask directions.  It is even likely that during August 1901 en route to El Reno for the land lottery opening the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache that great-grandmother Ethel suggested more than once to great-grandfather Ed that it would be a good idea to stop for directions.

Therefore, in 1978, true to Plato’s adage, the United States federal government undertook the task of launching its first satellite global positioning satellite.  Ultimately in 1994, our government completed the full constellation of twenty-four satellites (4 in each of 6 orbits).  The system was designed to allow authorized Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to communicate with no fewer than 6 and no more than 12 from any location on the face of the earth.

On May 1, 2000, when President Clinton authorized the American public to have access to the same accurate positioning satellite signal provided to the United States military, men everywhere rejoiced over their renewed independence.  Never again would they be compelled to stop for directions.  Within a short time, voice technology allowed the GPS devices to speak directions.

Imagine the disdain of chauvinistic drivers who plugged their new devices into cigarette lighters in their cars only to have a FEMALE voice telling him to “turn left in 200 yards.” If that was not enough to make him jerk the equipment out of the car, the same FEMALE voice told him “as soon as possible please make a legal u-turn” when he missed a maneuver that she clearly had instructed him to perform.

With tongue in cheek, it has been reported that there are male drivers who were physically, mentally and emotionally unable to operate certain GPS devices until the audio was switched from a female voice to a male voice.

Today, we rely upon satellites orbiting the earth twice in less than 24 hours at speeds of roughly 7,000 miles per hour and transmitting a signal of 50 watts or less from 12,000 miles above the surface of the earth to tell us where we are geographically, but sadly do not make the time or have the desire to engage in the political process to determine where we should be on critical issues.

If we listen at all, we listen to propaganda from the left OR the right and search for “news” that is designed to simply reinforce our collective fears and prejudices. In 1937 during a period of social unrest in the United States and the ascendancy of the Nazi regime and Axis powers abroad, a U.S. based organization named the Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA) was formed.  In an attempt to educate the public to identify propagandistic material, the IPA identified a set of methods called “the seven common propaganda devices.” We will talk about them more in coming weeks, but name calling (or the use of abusive or insulting language) directed toward an individual or a group is the most blatant form of propaganda.  Unfortunately, it is also the most commonly used in today’s polarized society.

It is clear that most people want to pursue the Common Good.  Those of us who do must be on guard for those who do not.  Daily we hear about physical bullies in our schools and our workplaces and in our homes.  We realize the need to protect humanity from physical bullies and domestic abuse.  Now we must address those who manipulate through verbal abuse and coercion.  Our society is a critical juncture.  Where do you stand?  You do not need a GPS to stand for the good.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at or 405-557-7401.