It is the worst of times.
Some years ago, the FCC Aristocracy, as ruled by the Monarch of Advertising, mandated digital, high-definition television as the new Reality Show, and we proletariat couch potatoes were told it's better than the old analog TV.
But has it proved to be better?
Who needs to see a highly-defined, blathering actor telling me to ask my doctor if Lipitor will help unclog my arteries?
Of what value is it to me to see more clearly who thinks he can dance or who America idolizes this month?
Are David Letterman's crude jokes rendered sharper by the improved spatial resolution of his gapped teeth?
And why would Judge Judy (not to mention her "contestants") want to embarrass herself further, in bold, mega-pixilated, fake courtroom drama?
Why do I care which washed-up, digitally-titillated celebrity will get booted off the island first?
And now, thanks to crisp, clear, cable channeling, I can tolerate even less the minutes of thinly-disguised commercials promoting public television's benefactors ahead of the NewsHour.
TV used to fly through the air like all the other waves of light reflected from flowers, people, mountains and everything else that we used to love to watch before we had cathode-ray tubes and light-emitting diodes. Those rooftop waves jogged up electrons in our antennae and were amplified and aligned and rasterized for our viewing pleasure, appearing with weekly regularity, categorized into perhaps six channels.
No VCR. No TiVo. No DVD recording. No Wi-Fi streaming on-demand. No way. If we missed the show, we sat and chatted with our family or read a book with perfect analog acuity.
Now, hundreds of channels of advertising outlets are crammed into a cable, purportedly to free up part of the broadcast spectrum for public safety communications.
This begs the question: How much of that new 911 emergency broadcast bandwidth usage results from the increase in cardio infarctions directly resulting from us sitting on the coach watching more digital TV instead of exercising? Perhaps that's a good premise for an ironic reality TV sitcom.
In the sharp-contrast, true-reality natural world, our analog eyes have remarkable resolving power. Perhaps we should use them to look at the night sky, a hummingbird, a good book, and see the world as it is from our personal perspectives and not as others would have us do with their images scanned across a boob tube, propped up by their desire to have us buy more crap.
I dusted off a volume of Charles Dickens from my leather-bound collection of classics purchased years ago. Those bound pages retain their clear, crisp analog detail. No page has any digitized pixels, but only the ultimate in continuous, ink-lined perfect resolution, describing characters long ago bound together in an analog world, fomenting revolution against bureaucratic bullies.
I sit and read the sharply printed words words enhanced only by my analog glasses to improve the resolution of my aging eyes.
And when I need to know the hour, I'll do as Dickens' characters did look at my good old reliable analog watch because, well, it's the best of times.
David B. Woodside is a part-time writer and a full-time analog observer. He lives in Salt Lake City and may be reached at http://www.TheWiseacreGuides.com