Learning To Love Big Brother


Writing in the overly-cheery, "just do as I say and all should be well" style of Dolores Umbridge explaining a new regulation from the Ministry of Magic, Brendan Koerner tries to persuade me to stop worrying and embrace "compact fluorescent light bulbs." (Not that I have any choice in the matter.) Why would you want to stick with "inefficient incandescent technology that has barely changed since the invention of the tungsten filament nearly a century ago," he wonders, when you can enjoy the hip and refreshing taste of New Coke - sorry, I mean, the chilly pulse of energy-efficient fluorescence? (It's the official light bulb of Tomorrowland, kids - and the Pruitt-Igoe housing project!)

You might be a little concerned about what to do when a CFL bulb breaks, but not to worry: "Just follow the EPA's easy cleanup guidelines." (Who doesn't want a lightbulb that comes with government-issued "cleanup guidelines"?) True, those guidelines suggest that you flee the room at first, and then use rubber gloves and two sealed plastics bags to clean up the broken bulb, but the good news is that "even a broken CFL bulb won't leak too much toxic metal." And while you might have trouble throwing the broken bulb away, since putting it in the trash is probably, er, illegal, there's hope on the horizon: "Look for several major retailers to set up recycling drop-off boxes this year, in order to goose their CFL sales." (Jonah Goldberg, call your office ... )

Oh, and "use common sense and don't place CFLs where they can be damaged by young children." You know, like in your living room.

Then there's the kicker:

The last, desperate swipe at CFLs ... is that their light is cold and dreadful. Perhaps this was true in years past, but the Lantern just doesn't see it anymore: In a recent test, Popular Mechanics rated CFL light as far superior to that produced by incandescent bulbs. Don't believe the hype? You've got nothing to lose by trying a single CFL bulb (one that's received EnergyStar certification) and seeing for yourself. And then, once you've become a convert, please spread the word.

Also, we have some stress tests you might be interested in ...

For the record, I've seen several of the new CFL bulbs in action, and I'm not a convert. And come 2009, you'll see in my local hardware store, frantically stockpiling incandescent bulbs against the long, dark, environmentally-efficient night to come.

Photo by Flickr user Tiago Daniel used under a Creative Commons license.