Reader Mail

Light Bulb Jokes

How many congressmen does it take? Admiring Lawrence Henry. Hitchens the Christian-named. Plus much much more.

12.26.07

Send to Kindle

LIGHT SPECTRUM
Re: Sam Kazman's Somewhere, Mr. Edison Gently Weeps:

How many Congressmen does to take to change a light bulb?
-- Pat Callum
Roswell, Georgia

What do the American voters need to do to bring about a White House and Congress that is bright enough to understand that most American citizens are functional adults? The new energy bill was signed into law; this means the unctuous, unnecessary and unsafe legislation had to be approved by the majority of both houses and signed by the president, which is to say a pox from both our houses. Where were the so called guardians of liberty, The Republicans, when this law was passed? Oh, yes, they were holding hands and singing "Kumbija" with the Loony Left, the Democrats. The energy bill is another demonstration of how far the Nanny State is willing to go to oversee our safety. It is time we see the light and usher out the the overreaching politicians of both parties. It is time for a change; a time to throw out the inefficient dim bulbs. It is time for the power of the people to electrify the current conductors of politics. It is time we the people to transform government from one of static (or rather statist) interference into one that allows maximum freedom of its citizenry. If we do not take action, all we can do is hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. But history suggests that the very light for which we are waiting is, in all actuality, a freight train of debt and over-regulation that is soon to overrun us all.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

Mr. Kazman's article should have been titled "Somewhere, Mr. Madison Gently Weeps."

The author of our Constitution is rolling in his grave; Article I mentions nothing about Congressional powers to regulate consumer products. The commerce clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) only allows regulation of commerce among the several States. The definition of commerce is the movement of goods, not the goods themselves. Where is the authority?

This would be an excellent cause for CEI or the Landmark Legal Foundation to take up in the courts. I'm sure Mark Levin is of the same school of though as I regarding the recently passed and signed Energy Bill. There are so many unconstitutional provisions in the legislation so as to make it the poster child for the phrase "like shooting ducks in a barrel."

The light bulb issue is but one of many such provisions. This target-rich environment also includes the higher CAFE standards, ethanol mandates, and home appliance standards.

Again, I ask, where is the authority?
-- Owen H. Carneal, Jr.
Yorktown, Virginia

We finally know how many politicians it takes to change a light bulb -- and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that every one of them is invested in companies which will profit from this exercise in rank stupidity. But this is precisely what Americans can expect when the pseudo-science of man-made global warming collides with symbolism-over-substance do-goodism. Add increased government power over individual choice to the mix and such "enlightened" thinking becomes irresistible.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

My experience with the compact fluorescents is that while they cost a lot more, they do not last any longer than a conventional bulb. I tried using them a while back but gave it up because all but one of them has given up the ghost after a few months. This may have something to do with my electric company, which is subject to periodic outages and fluctuations for no apparent reason. My one consolation is that at my age, I will probably be dead by the time the new regulations kick in. Until then, I am sticking with incandescents.
-- David Boucher

You mention that CFLs take a while to reach full brightness, but they may not light at all if they are too cold to start with. And what is the point of a porch light that you can't turn on when it is cold out?

While not everyone thinks it will save the world, CFLs can save money, and many people like me are using more CFLs where they make sense. Obviously the market has been responding with better and cheaper CFLs. But regulation often makes things worse. I recently had to replace several ceiling fans in my home, and was extremely annoyed to find that the lights no longer use the standard bulb socket, but rather a non-standard E17 size. I have since learned that the mandate for the smaller sockets for ceiling fans came from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to "save energy." However, since CFLs are not available in this size, the actual impact is that I am forced to use higher cost, higher energy use incandescents.

Idiot bureaucrats.
-- Grant Johnson
Americus, Georgia

The only fixture I use one of those swirly fluorescent bulbs in is in a large glass bulb ceiling light -- I got tired of changing it as often as the other bulbs blew out. The fluorescent one lasts longer. For everything else, regular bulbs are better.

Once again the government has done something to me "for my own good." My toilets haven't worked right since the end of the high-powered flush.. Now, I've got to stock up on Edison-base bulbs before they're no more.

Why don't conservatives change some of this nonsense when they're in?
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

I yield to no man my right to complain about dumb government laws, but Sam Kazman should really do some research before he dumps on CFLs. About the only thing correct in his article concerning light bulbs is that they do contain a minute amount of mercury and they take a small amount of time to produce their maximum light.

They are available in various shapes to fit various fixtures. More will come in the future.They are available in various light tones... cool white to warm yellow. They are available to be used with dimmer switches. Tell him to use that "just available" thing called "Google."
-- Jim Lewis

Sam Kazman's piece contains a number of inaccurate statements about compact fluorescent light bulbs. I'm not saying that I believe their use should be mandatory; if the economic advantages exist, then those advantages will lead to their voluntary adoption. I do wish, however, to confirm some of the assertions and to correct others with respect to the technical characteristics of CFLs.

CFLs do indeed contain a small amount of mercury.

CFLs do indeed take an interval of time between 30 seconds to three minutes to reach full brightness. However, the difference in brightness between the initial level and the final level is quite small; certainly not enough to account for Mr. Kazman's description of the difference in lighting levels. It is likely that Mr. Kazman's initial conclusion, that the bulb was defective, was correct; any major difference in initial light level and final light level indicates a defective bulb.

Most CFLs are physically larger than typical incandescent bulbs. This size difference has decreased markedly in recent years, and it is to be expected that the difference will be entirely eliminated in the near future. At present, Mr. Kazman is correct in stating that they cannot be used with many fixtures; unlike Mr. Kazman, I am confident that our free enterprise system is up to the challenge of producing bulbs that satisfy our requirements.

There is absolutely no issue with CFLs and timers. That's simply incorrect.

There are newer varieties of CFLs that operate properly with dimmers. They are, however, more expensive than ordinary CFLs (which are of course already more expensive than incandescent bulbs). The price differential will decrease over time, and that will lead to CFL adoption in these environments.

CFLs are now available in the same range of illumination as incandescent bulbs. GE, for example, has four varieties, GE Edison, Reveal, Crystal Clear, and Soft White.

The representation of the energy savings of the CFLs are overstated by a substantial amount. To accurately compare the technologies, you must use bulbs that produce the same amount of light. While it is claimed that a 26 Watt CFL produces the same amount of light as a 100 Watt incandescent, this is not true. The light output of a 26 Watt bulb is similar to the light output of a 75 Watt incandescent bulb. So, while the claimed energy savings of 75 percent is not correct, there is a genuine savings of about 66 percent.

Coupled with the far longer life of CFLs, the economic case for their use is unassailable. While I do not support regulations prohibiting the use of incandescent bulbs, I do believe that for most uses, CFLs are significantly more economical.

For those who use the so called "three-way" bulbs, where the bulb is capable of three different light intensities, the CFL version is far superior. The three-way bulb is actually a half-baked scheme for saving electricity. The problem with this scheme is that one of the three elements invariably burns out within a few days; the low intensity element cannot tolerate the heat generated by the two higher intensity elements. (There are no energy savings resulting from the use of a three-way bulb; universally, the bulbs are used on the highest intensity, and at that setting they use more electricity than a conventional bulb.) The CFL three way does not suffer from these problems. All three intensities have the same durability, and use at the highest intensity does not use more electricity than a CFL capable of only the highest intensity. The existence of three-way CFLs is another indication that it is easy to produce bulbs that interoperate with dimmers and other lighting controls.
-- Seth Kurtzberg

The Nanny state bandwagon pulls away and gathers speed. I may not be "representative" of the average American but I have had more than enough of our government doing things to me allegedly "for our own good." I don't ever vote Democratic but I am ever more close to "throw them all out." How sad.
-- Roger Ross

AMONG FRIENDS AND ADMIRERS
Re: Lawrence Henry's A Sentimental God:

I sincerely hope you will be singing carols again with your friends next Christmas, Mr. Henry. You are an irreplaceable inspiration to all of us regulars out here who love TAS.

God bless you.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Merry Christmas and God bless you, sir. You'll sing Christmas carols in heaven.
-- Deborah Durkee
Marietta, Georgia

I'm sorry to hear that Mr. Henry has been sick these last few months. His fear of walking "on my trembling legs" to a Christmas party down the street, or his sorrow that it would be his last Christmas, evoked a wonderful pathos, if wonderful is the right word to use.

I've recently learned that I also suffer from a sickness. While it's not life-threatening (I hope), it robs me of the sense of invulnerability that our forty-something generation likes to cling to. I think in my case the affliction wasn't sent by the Lord to show how great my faith is, but really how rather small it is. But weak though it might be, I still have faith.

Christopher Hitchens has no faith at all, sadly. I haven't read his god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, partly because of the typo, and partly because he once called Ronald Reagan a "lizard," but also because, as Mr. Lott pointed out, Hitchens apparently failed to show up for the debate he had with Doug Wilson.

If memory serves, Wilson's main point was that Hitchens had plenty of moral evaluations of religion in his book, but that his case against religion collapses if he cannot provide objective grounds for moral evaluation per se. Hitchens failed to do this in any convincing way, so why should I think the book would be any better?

Despite the errors in the book, catalogued by theologians and scholars, god is not Great turned out to be a bestseller. Mr. Lott wonders why, and thinks the main purchasers of the book are people who are "uncomfortable around public displays of religiosity." I'm not sure if this really explains it, though. I'm a Christian and I'm usually uncomfortable around public displays of religiosity -- it would have been called "enthusiasm" in an earlier day.

Maybe the success of the book has more to do with Hitchens' refreshing lack of political correctness, his entertaining if brutal rhetoric, and his writing ability. At least that seems more likely than any dry "leave me alone" libertarianism.

Strangely, Mr. Lott's review made me want to go out and read the book. But the lizard comment about our former Magnificent President left me angry with Hitchens. I just haven't found the heart to forgive him yet -- or fork over a large sum of money for his book. Maybe the Christmas season will work its magic, and I'll repent of thinking in my heart that Mr. Hitchens is a toad. It is not a charitable sentiment, I know, and I'm sorry for it, I really am. It's just a failing in me that I think of him as a toad.

Thanks to Mr. Henry and Mr. Lott for some good holiday reading, and joshing aside, please have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
-- C. V. Crisler
Gilbert, Arizona

When Lawrence Henry writes, I find myself brought to tears, even if it is early in the morning and the day is yet ahead. What I find in his writing is the faith of a man sorely tested, yet found faithful. What I read between the lines is gratitude, thankfulness, and a heart that is calm for whatever God will send.

Christopher Hitchens, like other atheists and agnostics, will never have that peace. In denying God they live with man's reason only, which never can compare with God's. I cannot think of a sadder existence, the absence of faith. The knowing of a Great and Mighty and Glorious God, whose face, brighter than the sun, created me to love Him, to love His Son, and to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Lawrence Henry's heart lies down each night on Holy Ground, resting in a Holy God, who loves him greatly and who will hold him, whatever. And those of us who pray for a kidney transplant for his Christmas, well, we know God hears our prayers and our faith will sustain.

I say this prayer each time my son leaves for war, and I am seasoned at this, since he has gone some six times. I pray Grace and Protection and that God Hold Him Close, in all that he does. And that is enough. And I have that great peace, that my son, like Mr. Henry, knows that precious son, Jesus, and am confident that should I never see him again on this earth's shores, I will see him in Heaven.

And that is faith. Mr. Hitchens can call it what he wants, and so can those who bought his books. My heart weeps for them this morning, but the tears are far different than those I shed when I read Mr. Henry's works.

We wait with assurance. We wait for the Christ Child this Christmas. And those who seek Him, will find Him, deep in their hearts. We will see Him and our hearts will be full.
-- Bev Gunn
From a mother, whose pilot son and his newborn daughter, Liberty, are home for Christmas!

BURNING IN HELL
Re: Jeremy Lott's Bad Faith Bestseller:

You should be ashamed having a converted Catholic review Christopher Hitchens's book. Mr. Lott is clearly afraid of there being no after-life or a God to look over him and his family. Hitchens book may have errors, but it is interesting and makes some excellent points. Clearly your magazine places no priority on well-balanced and maybe even objective reviews. Good luck in the after-life. Of course, if you are not Catholic, Baptist, Muslim or a member of a bunch of other religions, you will be in Hell or just turned to dust and ash like me.
-- Ed Parker
Spokane, Washington

I love Hitchens, but his writing as an atheist is always of a much different and lower quality. He might be entitled to assume first that this opinion is due to me taking offense with atheism, but that is not the case. As Hoffer said, it is the gentle cynic who is the atheist, not the fellow beating the pulpit of atheism.

I have seen much in Hitchens to lead me to believe he is a man with great quarrels with God. As one fellow pointed out, Gods greatest compliment comes in the form of complaint.

I don't understand the Universe. What little I do understand I don't necessarily like, yet that is not a reflection on the Universe, but of me. Hitchens finds it impossible to believe he is not the Universe. My four year old daughter had that quality, and it was endearing, but she grew out of it of course.

Hitchens' ego hasn't even permitted him to once apologize for his Marxist past. He regards it as a right of passage. Thanks.

Vanity, like poison, should be taken in small doses. But Hitchens will remain Hitchens, and I'll benefit from his better work. It's a big world with many choices.
-- James Wilson

Thank you so much for writing this! Finally, someone has pointed out that Mr. Hitchens doth protest too much.
-- Chris Burn

Ironic, isn't it, that Hitchens' parents named him "Christ Bearer"?
-- Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

PROPS FOR OBAMA
Re: David Weigel's Guess Who's Coming to Des Moines?:

It is interesting that the Democrats are asking if Obama is electable because he is black. Because for many years the Republicans have opined that Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice would be excellent at the top of the presidential ticket (if we could only get them to run). Although Bill Clinton made the ridiculous claim of being the first "Black President," George W. Bush is the man that made the face of America black as well as white to the rest of the world. In the demanding position of Secretary of State both have performed a difficult job with class, grace, and honor. Should Obama be elected to the high office, I expect no less from him, as evidenced by his campaign thus far. While I might prefer the oval office to remain in Republican hands, I find the honesty, candor, and wit to be a refreshing change from the usual Democratic bile and deception.
-- Bob Dible
Rexford, Kansas

Eyes that see not, ears that hear not. I'm afraid that the sad state of affairs of the once great Democrat party is on display every day. And unfortunately for many in the African American community, they are blinded by their own partisanship. Just look how any African American that dares leave the left wing, dependency plantation and strike out on their own and succeed, are treated. Do the names Justice Thomas, Secretary of State Rice, former Secretary of State Powel, just to name a few ring a bell? And look how they have been maligned in a blatantly racist way, by the left!

While I am not a fan of Senator Obama's politics, I respect him greatly because he, like our current president, at least has the courage of his convictions. And he has a positive, upbeat air about him. I don't feel like I am watching an airport windsock blowing in the wind whenever I see him speak.

The biggest question is, when will the African American community wake up and smell the coffee?
-- J. Lawrence

PR MALPRACTICE
Re: Tod Tamberg's letter (under "Other Cheek, Not Turned") in Reader Mail's Mahony Hits Back:

So Cardinal Mahony's "Director of Media Relations" writes two letters to the Spectator, the first saying that George Neumayr has a long history of attacking the Cardinal, and the second saying that, upon further review, no one has actually ever heard of Neumayr, or, for that matter, the Spectator itself. One can only marvel at the level of arrogance and pomposity of those that apparently believe that this is a proper method of fostering media relations.
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

Mr. Tamberg is to be congratulated for his scrupulous defense of high journalistic standards when it comes to the spreading of disinformation about his boss, the Cardinal of Los Angeles. It is truly a shame that neither he nor his boss take the same degree of interest in the basic integrity of local Church leadership.

The very first listed item yielded by my web search of Mr. Tamberg's name was a letter that he wrote in May 2005 to a leader of the Rainbow Sash Movement, which begins "Just a note to say that, as in the past, members of the Rainbow Sash Movement who come to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels this Sunday will be most welcome to attend any of our Masses."

RSM's mission statement reads as follows: "The Rainbow Sash Movement is an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender Catholics, with their families and friends, who are publicly calling the Catholic Church to conversion of heart around issues of human sexuality."

In other words, the curious Cardinal Mahony and his willing minion, Tod Tamberg, would open their arms (if I may) to an organization whose raison d'etre is the overthrowing of Church doctrine in precisely that area, homosexuality, in which much havoc was wreaked over many years in the lives of many young Catholics by clerics acting out their homosexuality! (And before you start spinning that tired old pedophilia lie, Mr. Tamberg, please read the exhaustive John Jay study into this tragic mess.)

Sure, Mr. Tamburg, go ahead and correct Mr. Neumayr's telling of the facts, but let's not forget that pink elephant in the living room, which is Roger Mahony's willful, monumental role in the enablement of homosexual predators in his ranks to do grave and lasting emotional and spiritual damage to many young members of his flock, and his continued refusal today to uphold Church orthodoxy, whether out of cowardice, or because he doesn't himself subscribe to it. That is the real story here.
-- Francis M. Hannon, Jr.
Melrose, Massachusetts

NO EASY ANSWERS
Re: Arnold Ahlert's letter (under "Don't Blame America First") in Reader Mail's Paint it Black:

I appreciate Mr. Ahlert's criticism of my expressed opinion but am curious as to where our disagreement lies. I am not an ardent supporter of "unionized education," nor did I opine, favorably or unfavorably about it. I cited a number of important influences in the mainstream cultural flow of the country and tied them to the deterioration of education in the public school system. If Mr. Ahlert finds my analysis faulty, I would expect him to parse those influences cited and denly their effect on the educational process in our schools. Indeed, there is a great deal wrong with the National Education Association, and its local affiliates, but at the same I'm not sure what we teachers would have done if the NEA had never been formed. Throughout the first 10 years of my career I worked two and three jobs to keep a roof over the head of my family and to buy food for them to eat. I have a house thanks to the NEA credit union, and will be able to retire without starving to death thanks to those strikes and "demands" to which Mr. Ahlert refers.

In summation, it is cavalier to tie the deterioration of an entire society, a crumbling of virtually all standards and practices to one cause, and then proceed to demonize that cause as the sole producer of armageddon. I will accept my share of guilt, but there is plenty of guilt to spread around.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

MORE MEATLOAF
Re: Karl F. Auerbach's letter (under "Delicate Appetites") in Reader Mail's Paint It Black:

Regarding Mr. Auerbach's letter commenting on scrapple. When I was quite young, I asked what scrapple was made of. I was told that I didn't really want to know. I already liked it at the time. Later, as an early
teenager, I was told that scrapple was everything about the pig that could not be sold any other way. There were even some rumors about sweepings off the slaughter house floor. At an age when I should know better, I still resist knowing the whole truth about this fine food, although in this age of intense government inspection, I doubt that it contains all that it used to contain. However, as a sammich on toast with catsup, it is still quite a treat.

Now about meatloaf. As a youngster, we had many a supper with meat loaf as the main entry. I was taught that it was NOT just hamburger made into a loaf. It was a combination of beef, pork, and veal. Bread crumbs were then added to make it go farther, and an egg or two was mixed in to hold it all together. As with scrapple, I have always enjoyed it in a sammich with catsup the next day.

I used to think that chicken must be very expensive, quite a delicacy. I figured that because we almost always had country fried chicken for Sunday dinner. We always had plenty of biscuits and gravy with it. I used to think that that must be what the rich folks had most all the time.

We didn't have casseroles, except for tuna casseroles. I don't know if it is a Southern thing or what, but we had pot pies. I won't get into it, except to say that my Maryland grandmother and my Illinois grandmother made them differently.

There was a downside to our meals back then. Even on the hottest summer days, I had to come to the table with a shirt on. If I had even thought about having a hat on at the table, it would have been h**l to pay. Oh, and I could not be excused from the table until everyone had finished eating and was ready to adjourn to the next room. And I was expected to engage in polite conversation with the rest of the family, and to pass the food plates around, and to say "please" and "thank you."
-- Ken Shreve

SECULARIST, HEAL THYSELF
Re: Shawn Macomber's 'Tis the Season to Be Guilty:

I don't see a lot of the secular humanist getting a gag reflex over the government spending for stuff we neither need, want or can afford. The full value of being right about something is often lost when applying the insight to limited portions of our existence. Let us pray that hypocrisy can be turned into a teachable moment so that the beam that is in our own eyes will get the same attention as the speck in the eyes of others.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article