Oh, No! It’s the Gummint!

So, the lightbulb. That thing with the spiral metal base that you struggle to use, if you’re joke-Polish. This humble source of mirth, as well as shining example of a great idea, and/or the fruit of Edison’s dogged efforts, is now a political hot potato of sorts. Which is great, given that a lightbulb is, roughly, the size of a hot potato, and if powered by a glowing, molten tungsten filament, nearly the right temperature, as well.

Where we all went wrong was when compact fluorescent lightbulbs raised their dastardly heads into the fray. These bulbs are all wicked, y’see, on account of “¦ uh, they cost more? And they’re not all warm and fuzzy like white-hot tungsten, I guess? And they hate puppies and apple pie and freedom?

Or, maybe, it’s just that the government made the mistake of sticking its giant Uncle Sam nose into our lightbulb aisle at the Wallymart, and now every nutjob in arm’s reach is clamoring to stockpile a couple of cases of incandescent bulbs so they can, y’know, enjoy the shining light of freedom.

Side question: Now that our president is black, does mentioning the size of Uncle Sam’s nose become a racial slur? Hmm.

[pullquote]Bright is good. Bright is shiny. Bright shows you where the dogs piddled on the floor last night”¦[/pullquote]

Anyhow, thing is, I’ve long been an adherent of the marvels that are CFLs. I don’t just tolerate the squiggly little buggers “” I love ’em. And I do so for several reasons.

First, the damn things don’t burn out after a month of use in our erratic and (apparently) poorly regulated electrical supply. I’ve never had bulbs burn out like they burn out in Baton Rouge “” and while I’m no expert, I can’t help but wonder if Entergy employs a team of monkeys to jiggle the transformers at various electrical substations to ensure it delivers electrons at anything but 120 hertz, to ensure that whatever I plug in is doomed to a far briefer existence than it might otherwise enjoy.

Second, the damn things don’t seem inclined to set fire to whatever you put near them. There’s a reason your Easy-Bake Oven needs a light bulb. Them suckers is hot, yo.

And third: While a bad CFL is anemic like milquetoast, a good CFL throws down with the mad lumens. That means it’s bright. Brighter than any comparable incandescent bulb of a safe wattage could hope to be.

Bright is good. Bright is shiny. Bright shows you where the dogs piddled on the floor last night so you don’t step in the puddle on your way to cook the boy his obligatory breakfast waffle.

I had a house full of CFLs back when having a house full of CFLs was a real accomplishment. I bought ’em mail order, a case at a time, from some weird internet retailer specializing in lightbulbs of every flavor. I still get their sales emails.

I didn’t have ’em because I wanted to go green or save the Earth or sing “Kumbaya” while smelling of patchouli. I had ’em because they made the damn house bright enough that you could read anywhere you wanted to (fond of books, I am) and you didn’t have to go around replacing the burned-out ones every other weekend.

They were awesome, so much better than the sad little underpowered CFLs that were the only thing you could buy at retail for the first few years CFLs were in existence. Those were underpowered bulbs that turned most consumers off to the whole process immediately. I don’t blame them: A 7-watt CFL isn’t a lightbulb “” it’s a vaguely glowing placeholder in want of replacement.

So when, years later, the gummint finally got around to regulating and mandating and generally throwing its weight around, I didn’t figure anyone would care. I mean, sure, Edison was one smart cookie. And his bulb was cool. But CFLs kicked its arse all up and down the field. It’d be like if someone came along with a working hovercar or a working autopilot for your car. Why would anyone stage a protest demanding we stick with our old Edsels?

But I forgot something: There are folks out there who, if ordered by the gummint to enjoy masturbation, would proceed to angrily masturbate in an entirely pleasure-devoid manner. So my beloved glowing pigtails, for all their wondrous efficiency and brightness, were now a political target, attacked and disparaged by self-styled patriots who figure the best way to prove you love your country is to get all pissed off any time your country tries to give you advice.

I guess it’s kinda like old-fashioned marriage. Yeah, I love you, baby, but keep yer yap shut.

And, somehow, it always seems to involve the same dudes, doesn’t it? Weird, I know.

Me, the last time I really hated it when the gummint stuck its nose into my business was when it banned my sweet, sweet Freon. I’d been using the lovely and deliciously cold cans of Freon to nurse along the air conditioning in my ’78 Chevy Malibu. The Jed Sled, y’see, wasn’t quite old enough to be a classic but plenty old enough to have a few mechanical quirks all her own. And without that Freon, my summer days gradually got warmer and warmer while riding in my beloved car, til finally, she quit going in reverse, and I quit fighting the good fight.

But I don’t recall thinking the gummint was trying to take away my Freon because it was, y’know, some kinda tyranny. It seemed, like most gummints, to be trying to do something that needed doing. Something that would, in an aggregate sense, make our nation better off.

So maybe that’s not so bad. And maybe she doesn’t need to keep her yap shut, after all.

What do I know? I’m so unpatriotic I love CFLs. Probably hate baseball, too, don’t I?

About Jared Kendall

Jared Kendall
A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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