Thursday, June 09, 2011

Some Light On Rand Paul

Apart from the Nicene "light from light" formula, we never used to spend much time thinking about light. Thanks to aging eyes, this has begun to change. Our little rectory is lit with a patchwork of incandescent, CF, LED and halogen, each depending upon its particular use. (Also sunlight, especially in the kitchen and lamentably not near our desk).

Of course, we have long known that incandescent bulbs are on their way out. Our last parish had virtually eliminated them before we arrived. When you are as reflexively cheap as a typical church council, the longevity of the compact fluorescents is very attractive. When some of your sockets are sixty feet in the air, reachable only by a brave man on a shaky ladder, that appeal is greatly amplified.

What we did not know is that the battle to save tungsten-filament incandescent bulbs is a minor part of the Tea Party platform. Apparently, new government efficiency rules, when they take effect, will make the cheap and cheery, but fragile and short-lived Edison bulb a thing of the past. And you know how the Tea Party feels about gummint rules.

So, according to an article by Andrew Rice in the Times Magazine, a former RPI prof named Howard Brandston
... has become the Paul Revere of the movement to save the light bulb, giving speeches to industry conferences and a Tea Party rally in front of the White House.
Ah. This will be useful for Sarah Palin, who is still working on her list of things that Paul Revere ket the redcoats from taking away. Brandston, for his part, has begun to stockpile lightbulbs, to use on his upstate farm. We gather that he will give up his tungsten filament only when they pry it from his cold, dead fingers.

Far more disturbing, however, is the use made of the lightbulb controversy by GOP princeling Rand Paul. When Florida senator Jeff Bingaman convened a senate hearing, on the new rules,
[t]wo Republicans, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jim Risch of Idaho, used the occasion to denounce free-market infringement. Paul pressed Kathleen Hogan, a D.O.E. official, to say whether she was pro-choice before going off into a long disquisition on liberty.
“I find it really appalling and hypocritical . . . that you favor a woman’s right to an abortion but you don’t favor a woman or a man’s right to choose what kind of light bulb,” Paul said. “I really find it troubling, this busybody nature.”
Wait. First you made a public official share her views on something as delicate and personal as abortion at a conference on lightbulbs, and then you complain about busybodies?! Are you nuts?

For the sake of driving up our clickthroughs, not to mention a foolish consistency, we will pause here to mention that our mother once dated libertarian icon Ron Paul. This makes Republican busybody Rand our almost-coulda-been brother. Yet if it comes right down to a fight in the schoolyard, we don't see ourselves sticking up for him. Quite the reverse. Guy looks in a girl's bookbag like that, he has it coming.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I'm all for saving energy, etc. so we have the new bulbs in more than half of our lights. However we've had bad luck with them in several of the sockets, and I haven't found the kind that work is some of the lamps, such as those with a rheostat.

By bad luck, I mean that they have been very short lived. They don't seem to stand up to any jarring, so the two lights on the way down to the basement are attached to the "ceiling" of the stairway, hence under the "floor" of the stairs going up. We've had the same problem with lights on the ceiling of the basement.

So I can't help but wonder what would happen with ceiling lights in an apartment building.

So what would we do if incandescent are banned? Those new bulbs are plenty expensive, too expensive to replace after just a couple of months, not to mention the chemicals inside of them.

Father Anonymous said...

I've had some of the same problems, although not recently. Apparently there are significant variations in quality between manufacturers -- both in longevity and in the kind of light they emit. (The first ones I bought definitely leaned on the arctic-blue end of the spectrum).

The solution, for me at least, has been pricey. These days, I just but the most expensive bulbs I can find, from big companies, especially Phillips. So far, this has worked. The high-end CFs really do last a lot longer, and suck a lot less juice. The tone of the ones in my living and bedroom ceiling fixtures right now is comparable to incandescents. Not sure I'd use them for reading, though.

But it's an expensive way to go, and -- as with any fluorescent bulbs -- there is the tricky question of what's inside, and how to dispose of them safely. I'm open to suggestions. That's why the improvements the article talks about are so important.

Still, however hard the policy questions regarding lightbulbs may be, I think that for a politician to start his "investigation" into the matter by asking for private opinions on an unrelated by emotional subject is creepy.