Meat Bag Confronts Screen, More at 11

“Don’t sit so close! You’ll ruin your eyes!”

My worrisome mother often shouted from across the room, frustrated by her child’s growing infatuation with the images pouring out of our living-room tube TV.

Television was reviled on one side of our family. My grandparents only let me watch baseball and McGee & Me, a Christian home video series. Viewed as the source of all our misgivings, TV subverts a good Christian life. A sinful teacher. A device with unchecked access to my newly forming neural connections.

But I will forever defend the television, for its many faults, it still welcomes groups to sit together and focus attention. If not on each other, then at least on an agreed point. A movie, show, or nothing in particular. We focused together.

That’s not as viable with our pocket screens.

Our smartphones are highly personal and personalized; downright magical, you might say. But looking over someone’s shoulder as they scroll through their feed is met with a bristling self-consciousness.

I think this is a problem.

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There’s a Reason Cable Companies Suck

After two years of paying for a weak, intermittent signal, I’d found myself at a stalemate with Time Warner Cable/Spectrum.

It turns out that when a signal is weak, there’s not much that a cable company is required do about it. And believe it or not, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work.

My research rabbit hole revealed the decades of legislative trickery by America’s most hated companies. You see, cable providers suffer from a right-time, right-place conundrum as the monolithic gatekeepers to American high-speed Internet access.

A Fledgling Novelty

Described as “a fledgling novelty for a handful of households,” cable television debuted in 1948 as the redheaded stepchild to broadcast. Useful only in rural or mountain communities where small pockets of humanity lived far from the range of urban broadcast signals.

Quite simply, no one cared about cable. This paradoxically became its biggest strength.

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