Note: Those of you who have not been to FedEx Field on Sunday may not understand the title.

I had my VCR player die. I paid $10 for someone to look at it and see if they could fix it. Dumb idea. Apparently the VHS player has been dodo'd without anyone telling me about it. Oh, sure, you can still grab DVD/VHS combos, even combos that allow you to burn VHS to DVD, but the channel tuning VCRs that allow you to tape a channel you're not watching seem to be gone from the big box brick & mortars.

Welp, that $10 was wasted because I picked up a decent (so far) VCR for $13 from the local pawn shop (with a 30 day warranty, no less), but I finally think I figured out why new ones have died off. It's the government mandated inclusion of a ATSC tuner in all such new devices. If you don't hablo espanol, that means I am... THE NINO. I mean, that means every new VHS player would have to include a high definition TV tuner. Expensive. Thanks, US government.

That said, and I'll wax more drivel about it later, I think I'm starting to be down with the whole HDTV movement up until a point. I had occasion to mess with one recently, and the over-the-air signals were pretty danged impressive, even with rabbit ears. If you got the station, it was crystal clear. Nice.

Who loses? Well, duh, it's the poorest of the poor. Used TVs go for $15 at the thrift store, sometimes less, but soon they'll be able to get absolutely nada from the air. How many of those folk will know, much less be able to navigate, the US Govt's program to get them ATSC tuners [for free]? Cable users, I assume, will be able to continue getting analog signals past the drop-dead HD date for over the air broadcasts, which is idiotic. Again, the poorest lose... or the people who spend what little they do have wisely lose. Pay for cable? You're in. Save $10-50 a month, you're jumping through hoops to watch so much as educational TV.

I love that this all falls under something called the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Gotta love them politicians. I'd call a good portion of it the, "Goodbye Free TV as You Know It Act".

Anyhow, isn't there a middle way? Couldn't VHF be kept in the same spectrum, and just the UHF wasteland be auctioned off with a little more of what's going to be used for HD broadcast sold as well? There's plenty of room for a HD signal in the overscan portion of analog; there's really no convincing reason to throw the legacy out with the bath.

Anyhow, it's maddening. Without so much as a vote or a heads' up from Congress, out it goes.

Guess we'll all be buying new VCRs.