| It’s probably the most sophisticated electronic system I’ve ever owned. OK, that may be an exageration, but I exagerate only for emphasis. What I'm trying to say is I have this fine electronic unit that an official act of Congress has made a tad more primitive. In other words, because of Congress my communication system is a lot less useful.
But even though Congress, in its infinate wisdom, with a single vote - eviscerated one of my gizmo's most attractive functions, the once sophisticated piece of equipment remains within arms reach, on the shelf beside my desk because I still can’t bring myself to get rid of it.
I’m referring to my Panasonic multi-feature audio-video system that when purchased a few years or maybe it was a few decades ago was the state of the art.
Yes, I hear you joking: "What ‘state’ was that, John, North Dakota?" As far as what ‘art,’ we’re talking, it’s could be ‘con art,’ but you know what I’m trying to say, here. As they say Down East, my Panasonic compact electronic multi-purpose appliance was and is still slicker than a smelt.
This single Panasonic device of mine has AM, FM & WB radio reception; recording and playback for audio cassettes and a small 3 x 3 inch TV screen that has both UHF and VHF reception capability. I should say it HAD reception capability until Congress - with one fateful vote - made analog broadcasts illegal, thereby making analog receivers, like mine, useless. Oh, and for good measure my Panasonic can operate on either a plug-in or D battery power source.
At first I thought I should calm down and accept what Congress has done to my private property. I thought, maybe I'm just getting old and bringing an old fogey’s perspective to today's hip, digital new-age programming and the brave new world portrayed these days on television by today's very modern producers. Their vision is so new and so hip and un-geezer-like that it needs a whole new technology and so things like analog broadcasting - that has served us well for over sixty years - must be swept aside to make way for the new-age electronics.
But Congress couldn't be satisfied with just sweeping the old aside they had to make the old - analog - illegal so it would stay swept aside.
And don't send me emails. I guess they had to do it that way. I'm as familiar as anyone with the Federal Communications Act of 1996, which as we all know replaced the Federal Communications Act of 1934. Everyone knows that!
It would be OK if the new-age programming, now available digitally, had kept improving year-by-year but it hasn’t. If anything a lot of programs have gotten dumber than ever, and programming continues getting worse each season. It's not worth the money we're expected to cough up to receive it.
Like I said, I thought I was the only one who thought this way, who wasn't going to be herded into buy a new HD-TV until I was ready for it.
But the other day my wife and I were at a mid-summer party and somehow the topic got around to HD television and digital versus analog.
I couldn't believe it. Many of the people there - in the 35-54 demographic - had issues with the new technology and had also delayed getting their congressionally mandated digital television systems in place.
"We'll wait until fall to do anything," said one woman. "There are too many other things to do and too many good books to read," she added. "I'm sure we'll get something eventually but we're in no hurry."
It was good to hear that I was not alone. It was encouraging to hear that others were resisting the stampede to digital systems.
Having said all that, I never thought I’d say the following so soon after June 12, 2009 the day all analog broadcasting finally ended in our area but I’m thinking of starting a subversive, grass-roots, non-digital movement. Our slogan won't be as stirring as Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty, or give me death. I'm thinking of marching until the simple slogan: "Bring back analog!"
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is email@example.com.