To shill a mockingbird

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Would you like to understand how the “new” Harper Lee novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” came to be billed as a long-lost, blockbuster sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird” — one of the definitive books of the American 20th century — when, by all the known facts, it’s an uneven first draft of the famous novel that was never considered for publication?

Would you like to get a glimpse into how clever marketing and cryptic pronouncements have managed to produce an instant bestseller, months before anyone has read it?

If so, click on this Washington Post story.

The death of cable TV, finally!

I saw this and thought, “cable TV is dead.”

For many TV viewers, the only reason to keep paying for expensive cable subscriptions is to watch sports. And for that, they invariably need ESPN, the powerful network that has exclusive rights to many of the country’s most popular football and basketball games.

Now, that linchpin is being removed. For the first time ever, sports fans will be able to watch ESPN’s programming streamed online to their tablets, laptops, smartphones and TVs—all without paying a cable or satellite bill.

Everyone I talk to hates the cable company. And whenever I ask why they don’t dump it, the answer is ESPN.

We’ve been without cable TV since 2003, and really haven’t missed a thing. If I want to watch a big game that isn’t on a network live, I visit a relative. Otherwise, I just go to the ESPN 3 Web site and catch the replay for nothing.

For network shows, all you need is a digital antenna. If you have had cable for years, you don’t know that the broadcast quality you get with a $30 digital antenna is amazing. In D.C., I get 40 channels, and about 10 of them are foreign language, many with subtitles. Of course digital TV has limits based on where you live.  Do we really need 15 religious channels in Louisville?

For other entertainment, spend $100 for an annual subscription to Amazon Prime. Thousands of movies and TV shows. And while you’re at it, get a Fire TV stick. All of the Prime content is there, and you can add apps for more free entertainment. I found an app that lets me watch a train moving through Norway from a motorman’s perspective (Honestly, when I lIved in Europe it was one of my favorite channels.)

Hook your computer to your HD TV, and you can watch what you normally watch on your tiny computer monitor.

I’ve thought this through for a long time. One more advantage of not having cable: I never have to accidentally land on Fox News. When that happened at other places I’ve been I felt like someone just opened the door to their house and let a vagrant come in and take a dump on the floor.

I’ve measured the cost of all this. A monthly cable bill is about $100. I’m spending about $150 a year, plus a monthly Internet fee that is nowhere near what cable TV (with the fixin’s like the premium movie channels and premium sports packages) costs.

Save some money folks. Oh, and if you want ESPN, that will cost $240 a year, but you’ll get a few other channels.