You Call This Progress? Well, Do You?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Last night brought yet another reminder that I am ancient. I never record TV shows, but Marian does occasionally, and she uses an old VCR to do it. The old VCR broke a couple of days ago, so she went to Target to get a new one.

But it turns out this is impossible. VCRs no longer have tuners in them, so they only work if they’re plugged into a cable box—which we don’t have upstairs because Marian only watches basic cable stuff and doesn’t need one. This was all news to me since I’ve never paid any attention to TV-recording technology, but a quick check of the web confirmed that VCRs have been mostly tunerless since at least 2007. Personal DVRs don’t appear to be an option either.

So apparently our only choice is to get a cable box upstairs. It might as well be a DVR box, since it doesn’t seem to cost any more—though I’m not really sure, since the primary goal of the Cox Cable web designers seems to be making it impossible to figure out how their services actually work or how much they cost.

In any case, my best forensic guess is that an extra box costs $8.50 per month. So now we’re going to be forced to pay $100 per year to do something we’ve been doing for free for decades. I suppose it will be slightly more convenient, but not by much since Marian doesn’t actually tape all that many shows. Isn’t progress wonderful?

There’s no need for this post to be merely a personal whine, though. Feel free to turn it into a general whine in comments. What do you hate about your cable company? Or about entertainment tech in general? Have at it.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

payment methods

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate