Archive - Jan 28, 2009

Single-Digit Conversion

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Memo to the unconverted: STOP SLOWING PROGRESS.

It looks like analog television is going to get a stay of euthanasia. The guy carving the tombstone with "VHF" and "UHF" on it will have a few more months to get it just right. Why? Because you're not ready.

The rest of us are ready. The rest of us got cable or bought new TVs or hooked up our converter boxes. We checked with our relatives and friends and made sure they got their converter boxes hooked up. But you're not ready. And the government, generally reticent to help you if you're trying to eat peanut butter without dying or have sex without making a baby, is going to extraordinary measures to make sure you don't miss Howie Do It.

Well, guess what. This is one of those rare instances when the traditional conservative bullshit about bootstraps, self-reliance, and personal responsibility is dead-on. I'm a libertarian when it comes to shit that don't matter, and TV is shit that don't matter. I know that, ostensibly, broadcast television is an important piece of communications infrastructure where many Americans get vitally important information, but we all know what everyone really uses it for, and that? That shit don't matter.

Digital transition isn't a third-grade field trip. If the bus leaves before everyone's on board, they'll survive. More importantly, if we wait for the entire class, the bus will rust before it moves an inch. Television stations have been scheduling and planning around this for months, and all of that is fucked because Jed still hasn't ordered his coupon.

And yes, I know there isn't enough money to fulfill all the orders for coupons. And that is a problem. But the same bill that would delay transition for four months could have just thrown another ten million dollars worth of coupons out there. Then, the moderately-late bloomers would get the coupons they ordered during their "oh shit" moment in January and the transition could go ahead as normal while they figured out how to hook them up.

But there is, and always will be, a certain percentage of the population who will not know about digital transition until they wake up one morning wondering where the teevee went to. We cannot help them. Most of them voted for Sarah Palin. I'm 80% sure one of them IS Sarah Palin. And when Sarah realizes she can't watch those women on the View engage in sexist Sarah-Palin-bashing anymore, she can put in for her coupon and head over to Wal-Mart like everyone else did.

Imagine what other technological advancements we'd have missed out on if we'd followed this scheme? Would we have the automobile if the government kept pushing back the building of roads until enough horse owners bought "wheel adapters" for their horses' legs? Where would the nuclear missile industry be if all of our regular bombs had to have tiny boxes full of uranium tied to them with coaxial cable? The Internet as we know it would never have gotten off the ground if the United States Postal Service had required each customer to tape a porn VHS tape, a copy of Microsoft Office, and an ad for designer replica watches to every letter they sent.

Fuck the slow, the stupid, and the Luddites. Get more coupons to the people that need them, and let the home-shopping and Steve Harvey show reruns that populate UHF go dark on schedule. We'll go on ahead, and y'all can catch up once you've figured out how to watch Desperate Housewives again.