In just three weeks and one day, our beloved 100-watt incandescent bulbs will join cocaine, shoulder-fired missiles, and heroin as illegal to sell in the USA. Aside from the lighting, what’s wrong with this picture? Why must our choice of light bulbs be constricted by the federal government? What’s next? Our choice of clothes, furniture or — here’s an idea for the Department of Education — the books adults may legally read? Will it come down to a two-way choice, between Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope? Where will government intervention in our personal decisions end? Mandated “green” coffins and “environmentally friendly” tombstones?
Each of us has our own way of coping with the wretchedness of the oncoming days of mercury-lit, or halogen-glaring horror. For example, I described mine here and PJM’s Claudia Rosett described hers here.
It pains me acutely — like an attack of appendicitis — to write this paragraph, but an excellent article on the choices of light bulbs legally available both before and after December 31 appeared in one of the least reliable and my own least favorite newspaper in the United States. Yes, The New York Times, here. One reason the article was so good was that it steered clear of politics, not even mentioning that it was none other than President George W. Bush who signed this egregious legislation into law. The existence of this welcome lacuna was doubtless because the article appeared in the Thursday “Home” section. Had it been an editorial or what they call at the Times a “news story” (known elsewhere as an editorial) in the main news section, the entire focus would have been on Bush.
And now, as the days dwindle down to a precious few, we incandescent light bulb-lovers have been accorded our own song. Yes, a melody with soulful lyrics, and a candle-lit video to express our roiling, complex mix of feelings, ranging from outrage to horror to sorrow. It’s a heady fusion of emotions, with all who’re concerned about this impending disaster living in a state of incandescent fury and palpitating dread, as we descend on Home Depots and Lowes stores, as well as neighborhood hardware stores, swooping up cartfuls of these precious, soon-to-be-forever-banned 100-watt incandescent bulbs, along with dimmable incandescent floodlights.
When friends come for dinner, we turn down the dimmers, and magically, everyone appears gently younger than they actually are. “You look marvelous,” they say, and, of course, everyone does look marvelous when illuminated by 20 watts when the 65-watt incandescent flood lights are dimmed. For that matter, everyone also looks great in the dark. But we do have to see our food, and so some illumination is helpful.
Soon, we’ll all be gathering under New Bulbs, illuminating every imaginable detail of our lives, not to mention our food and ourselves. We’ll look back with nostalgic tristesse at the many books we read by 100-watt incandescents, and remember our friends’ beloved faces kindly lit with a little help from our dimmers. It may come as quite a shock to see what they really look like.
As we collectively prepare for the grim realities ahead, we can hum along to this lilting song, brought to us by the folks at the Club For Growth. I know — who knew or even imagined they purveyed heart-rending ballads, as well as hard economic data? But they do.
To watch this farewell song to man’s greatest invention for reading — indeed for living in all its many splendors — between sunset and sunrise, click here. Hear it and weep. Or read a good book by one of your remaining 100-watt incandescents and dream of the glory days soon to be snuffed out by legislative fiat in one of the dumbest acts of Congress since Congress first convened.
May there be a moment of silence at the Thomas A. Edison Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike on December 31 at midnight, in honor of the great inventor of the incandescent light bulb.