’Tis the Season

As New Year’s Day 2014 approaches, American consumers are beginning to notice that ordinary 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs are fast disappearing from store shelves.

That’s because December 31, 2013 is the final day on which such bulbs may be legally manufactured in the United States. Manufacturers have already distributed the last of their stocks, and the remaining supplies are being rapidly depleted.

Congress, in its infinite wisdom, gave us plenty of warning on this one. The law was passed in 2007, providing those of us who were paying attention plenty of time to stock up on those evil electricity-guzzling incandescent light bulbs. I’ve been in the habit of picking up a pack or two of the sixty-watt variety every time I visit Dollar General. I’ve filled the top shelf of our pantry with enough of them to make Al Gore breathe a gout of fire in our direction if he ever finds out.

A couple of weeks ago Dollar General ran out of the sixties, but still had a few forty-watts on the shelf. I picked up the last two packs of sixty-watts at Food Lion yesterday. There weren’t any left in the other grocery store in the little town nearest to us.

My plan is to have enough to wait out the indefinite period before Congress is compelled to repeal their asinine law. It’s likely that many Americans aren’t even aware of what has been done to them, and won’t discover their predicament until they go to buy light bulbs sometime in the next few weeks. The average American is already pretty sore at the government for various other indignities and atrocities that have been imposed on him in the past few years, and the absence of light bulbs may well be the final straw. I hope.

The two types of alternative bulbs that are at least tolerable cost from four times as much (halogen) to fifty times as much (LED). But what the government really wants you to do is buy those curly Al Gore specials, the compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

CFLs have several disadvantages over the alternatives. They give off an ugly color of light, providing your living room with the look of a sales aisle in Walmart. They tend to burn out quickly if you turn your lights on and off more frequently than the government recommends. And they contain mercury, which means that when you tip over a lamp in the living room, you’ve got a nasty surprise lurking in the nap of your carpet, even after you’ve cleaned up all the broken glass. You can’t tell it’s there, but your rug rat’s little nervous system sure can!

But, hey, what’s a little mercury poisoning when you’re saving the planet?

I have my own personal reasons for disliking fluorescent lights, in addition to the problems described above. My eye condition (macular degeneration) has made me sensitive to flickering lights, and fluorescent bulbs definitely flicker. Incandescent bulbs give off a constant glow, because their light is produced by the heating of a filament, which continues to glow even while the alternating current is switching directions. CFLs, however, flick on and off with the alternation of the current. The effect is subliminal — it occurs at a rate faster than your eye can process directly — but it is real, and it becomes perceptible when multiple fluorescent bulbs are on simultaneously. The interference patterns among the different light sources are enough to cause a noticeable shimmer. I didn’t pay any attention to the effect until my eyes went bad, after which I started noticing that a trip to the supermarket became agonizing after just a few minutes under those multiple fluorescents.

So no CFLs for me! I’ll buy those expensive bulbs rather than subject myself to that sort of punishment in my own home. But we’ll see how long that shelf full of good ol’ sixty-watt incandescent bulbs lasts…

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When I went through the checkout line at Food Lion yesterday afternoon (two packs of sixties, two packs of forties), the sales girl wished me a “Merry Christmas”. I noticed it because you don’t hear that very much anymore, especially in the larger towns and cities. But we live in the back of beyond — actually, we live even farther out than that; we have to drive eighteen miles just to get to Beyond — and people out here haven’t entirely abandoned the old ways. Most retailers and government departments have sent out the word for their employees to substitute the vile “Happy Holidays” instead, to avoid offending any atheists, Buddhists, or Wiccans who happen wander by. But their directives haven’t trickled in to the outback. Even the lady in our post office sometimes forgets herself and uses the C-word.

Whenever I hear the “Holidays” substitute, I respond by wishing the other person a merry Christmas. More often than not she will smile and return the greeting, as if pleased to be reminded of the proximity of Christmas.

In a lot of places that checkout clerk could have lost her job for daring to mention the birthday of Jesus Christ. But not out here.

The past is a foreign country. We do things differently here.

Right Side News has a useful report about the end of the incandescent light bulb.

23 thoughts on “’Tis the Season

  1. Pingback: Things Are Not What They Seem | Gates of Vienna

  2. ” Whenever I hear the “Holidays” substitute, I respond by wishing the other person a merry Christmas.”
    I do exactly the same in loudly to make sure that those surrounding me hear that.
    Only in countries with useless, spineless, timid, coward politicians, you see Christmas replaced by Holidays. Can you guess who those countries are?

  3. I was just in Target, and, knowing they are p.c. wished the checkout girl Merry Christmas after she had (just) said something generic like “have a nice afternoon” to which she responded, ‘you too’. But they won’t be the first out of the box with the Merry Christmas.

    Amazing, considering it is Christmas that drives the ‘holiday season’ for these retailers.

    On the incandescent light bulb story. I stocked my Mom with a couple of cases of them several years ago. The fluorescent tube bulbs, of which I used a considerable amount of, started escalating in price about an year and a half ago. So I had to make a conversion to hi-pressure sodium lights for outdoor use, which consume a lot more power.

    Thanks a LOT, George W. Bush, for signing (yet) another piece of worthless at best, counterproductive at worst, legislation. Like ethanol mandates and the department of homeland security (sounds like something out of the Third Reich. But don’t even get me started. 🙂

  4. I have never been worried about Christmas, Diwali or any religious holiday, each to his/her own. It seems that only two social groups get upset; the politically ‘leftist’ subset of Atheists, and the Muslims, both of which groups have got ‘world domination’ agendas.

    It is a great pity when we have to pander to their infantile tantrums…..

    • It’s a great [gluteal myalgia] when the CEO of Mark’s n Spark’s panders to check out girls at the supermarket too…

    • What happened was the evil evolution of the Political Class. Not just the politicians themselves, but their extensive staffs and hangers-on, the lobbyists (probably more powerful in the aggregate than the pols themselves), the analysts & jornolists and ‘reporters’ who tell you why these folks are important. Not to mention the growth of bureaucracy itself.

      You could do away with the politicians and the bureaucracy would continue to function. Think of a headless chicken, running hither and yon, perhaps spraying the random spritz of chicken blood as it lurched about. As long as there was some mechanism that continued to fund these bureaucracies, you’d never notice the head was missing.

      Personal choice?? That was always a dream…unless you can make things for yourself. And I haven’t a clue as to how to make a light bulb. Or how to generate the electricity that powers it. I could probably make a lamp if the lamp parts manufacturers had any reason to stay in business once ObamaCareless goes into full death ray mode. Its raison d’etre is not health insurance for all. That’s just the cover for their real purpose: the death of small businesses and private enterprise. That in turn will cause the obliteration of the middle class. The disappearance of middle class wealth won’t actually register anywhere. No way to measure what doesn’t exist.

      There was a time when they sold kits for making your own stereo, car, ham radio, musical instrument, etc. That was when the Sears catalogue was the real dream book. You could even order your own pre-fab house or barn or garage.

      Now desperately overcrowded and overpriced urban areas like NYC are touting ‘apartments’ for Lilliputians, an innovation the Japanese pioneered. A living space containing everything you need, measured in inches:


      That link has pictures.

      Meanwhile, psychiatrists are not predicting good outcomes for those forced to live in these matchboxes because “NYC is the price of doing business”, or at least it is the price they feel forced to pay in order to be in the City…

      …makes you wonder what happens in one of these places when the grid goes down and their govt approved light bulbs crash, spilling mercury into the nooks and crannies of their whole living space.

      The Baron is an optimist: he thinks the govt will back down from this Nazi-like enforcement of a brainless law. Me, I think they’ll become more invasive and eventually start checking your domicile for signs of “incandescent use”…

      …western ingenuity being what it is, there will surely be a black market on incandescent bulbs designed to look like the p.c. versions. And those fake one will still be cheaper than the 25.00 LED versions.

      I remind you of the continuing robbery of copper from every imaginable source. That’s what will happen with incandescent bulbs. They’ll become a hot item…

  5. I’m going straight to LED lighting. Those CFLs suck. They are nothing more than a stopgap.
    Just as LCDs have taken over in the computer screen market, LEDS will take over in the lighting area.

  6. I’ve had a lot of incandescent bulbs stored for a few years now, and I’ve been going through them slowly because I tend to use light sparingly in the evening. The enviros complain that so much of the energy used by incandescent bulbs goes into producing heat, but the times I need artificial light are times when, as a rule, a little bit of heat is welcome, and not at all wasted.

  7. There was an interesting thread a while ago at Matt Stone’s 180 degree health blog, on LED and red spectrum lights for all purpose healing, including macular degeneration. I wanted to read more about it before I recommended it here, but meanwhile, Matt has taken the blog offline. However, here is a link that sums up the relevant info.


    There is quite a lot of similar info on the net, and it doesn’t look like a hoax or wishful thinking. Merry Christmas.

    • L.I. —

      Thank you for this useful information! I think it might be wise to invest in an LED bulb that I can put in the lamp here near my computer.

      LEDs don’t bother my eyes, they’re just expensive. But not only are fluorescents visually unpleasant, I think they may actually be harmful to the eyes. Or maybe that’s just my prejudice showing.

  8. This is a perfect example of the State getting in bed with big business to turn the clock back on scientific progress. Contrary to the official line, incandescent bulbs are cheap, and last for a very long time. At least when they are manufactured to that effect, as opposed to their lifespan being artificially limited.

    Here is the proof :


    How do you like that ? A real 100 W Edison bulb, built to last 20 000 hours, for only 2 $ ? And made in America, to boot ? That is 20 times as much as the lifespan of regular, old-fashioned, outlawed incandescents, and 2 to 4 times as much as CFLs !

    They are available in clear or frosted versions, from 25 W to 200 W, whereas normal incandescents peaked out at 100 W.

    Americans should consider themselves lucky to be able to buy such lamps — even if they have to go through mail order. Of course, those are 110 V, so they would be useless for European customers — if it were possible to get them shipped overseas, which it isn’t.

    The only equivalent I have found for Europe is here :


    They are so-called “rough service lamps” (i.e., they are supposed to resist vibrations and shocks to a higher degree for industrial environments), and therefore are not covered by the current ban.

    However, those are much closer to the standard lifespan of old-fashioned incandescents, which was (officially) 1 000 hours. A 100 W, 1 500 hours model costs £ 1.80, or £2.47 for 3 000 hours. Also available in 150 W, 200 W or even 300 W.

    Let me point two other upcoming eco-fascist bans for European readers.

    First of all, halogens in the shape of incandescents, which are currently the only acceptable replacement, will also be banned in 2016. Nobody I know of is aware of that, because the media keep mum on the subject. Presumably Brussels does not want you to learn all the bad news at the same time, lest the populace revolts, so the screw gets turned by increments.

    But the thing has been decided. It’s official, and you can find it if you dig deep enough into the EU websites.

    Also, Brussels has decided that your living-room was too clean, so they will ban vacuum-cleaners above a certain wattage in a few years’ time (check the date, it’s official). You know, just because. Obviously, energy consumption is driven by housewives vacuuming dust too vigorously. Factories, office buildings, public transport and politicians pontificating in TV studios count for nothing.

    Not only one needs to stock up on lamps, it will be necessary to buy an extra vacuum-cleaner or two (depending on your age) if you want to keep on living like a civilised human being, before you depart this communist hell the State seems intent on inflicting upon us.

    Just when the USSR collapses and technology has never been more advanced, the powers that be are trying to recreate the misery of living under communism. Let citizens live in dark, greenish and dirty surroundings, so they will know who is the boss.

  9. The halogen filament bulbs are still available and aren’t banned. I bought some recently at a lighting store when we got a new dining room light fixture. The clerk said they won’t be banned because they meet the laws efficiency requirements. They are a little more expensive but they produce more light for less consumed wattage. Also work great with our dimmer. The clerk said they are constructed like a filament bulb except the filament is contained in a glass bubble filled with halogen (from the outside they look identical). They are supposed to last a lot longer than filament bulbs too. You might see if you can find some. I won’t ever use CFLs. Rather pay $40/bulb for LEDs than use those toxic bulbs.

    • Every halogen bulb I have ever owned blew out in a very short time. I found them to be very sensitive and just jostling the fixture caused them to blow. I wish you better luck.

  10. Noticed at the hardware store that the CFL selection is dwindling to nothing. I think in the future, Mercury testing will be part of the home sale process (along with lead and radon). I had installed a CFL on the porch a couple of years ago. Thing literally blew up after a couple of months, presumably scattering mercury all over the front porch. You’d have to be nuts to use them indoors.

  11. I’m not religious, but the PC nonsense culture war on traditions really [causes me to become full of wrath]. Just like the other religious fanatics, they’re not content until you believe it, too.

    The Lowes near me still has incandescent lights from 15-150W. Have a nice moving box filled with them that I’ve been stocking up since they passed that EU fascist [odiferous material] legislation. If you (like me) suffer from migraine headaches with light sensitivity, regular low wattage Edison vintage bulbs are your friend. The newer CFL’s dont work well with thyristor type dimmers as the switched supplies in them don’t work with the harmonics and lower voltage. Also had more than one CFL burst into flames in my recessed ceiling fixtures. Many of the chinesium ones dont have good temperature compensation for the switching transistors, and they literally will catch fire when they go into thermal runaway. I hate those damn things.

  12. Wow, where do y’all live? While I abominate the color of CFLs as much as anyone, and deplore the statist tyranny that’s foisting them on us, here in the Land Of Hydro Power I’ve never had any issues with CFLs other than, every once in a while, one seems to die before its rated lifespan. (Use them in the carport, utility room–certainly nowhere people actually *live*.) Shattering? Never. Burst into flames? Sorry, not even a little bit of “magic smoke”, not even once.

    Am I missing something, or is the Pacific Northwest just on a higher plane somehow? 😉

    • In one instance it happened to me because I have unvented recessed ceiling fixtures. CFLs work fine in standard fixtures so long as there is airflow, which is critical for the switched power supplies. They basically convert the mains to rectified DC and then an oscillator circuit drives a transformer to generate the HV to run the lamp itself. (http://www.para.org.ph/membersarticles/CFL/) Kinda neat actually :). …But they dont like being overheated. Manufacturers do what they can to help compensate the transistors to prevent thermal runaway, but its not fool proof. I recall turning the lights off one day and having one not “turn off”, and had a rather un-fluorescent yellow color. Turned out the base of the CFL had overheated and was acutally alight! Luckily the fire was contained in the fixture and didn’t spread to the ceiling and was easily put out. Lesson learned… those get standard 40W bulbs.

  13. Did a job for a man the other day. I noticed his wife was a Muslima, probably Malay. When we finished business he wish me “Have a happy . . . festive season”. Oh dear, he’s a convert – not allowed to wish the kaffirs a Merry Christmas.

    Well Merry Christmas to all on here!

    And thank you two very much for making all this possible for us.

  14. I’m also stocking up on incandescents- they’ve gone from chains in the UK, but many independents still have them. Looked at the Lampspecs link, but theirs are all screwcap; most British fittings are bayonet type.

    Got an Ikea halogen spot three years ago, with a spare bulb; haven’t needed it yet!

  15. LED’s cost less to operate in the long run than `good old’ filament bulbs. They draw about 10% as much electricity, and while they cost way more up front, they last for many years. I’ve yet to have an LED burn out in my home, and some are 5 years old.

    CF bulbs don’t cost as much up front, and they’re tolerably economical when used for settings where the light will be on, rather than on and off and on and off, but if you don’t like the light they give, I’d say just go straight to LED, watching for sales. You don’t want to pay full retail and sales do come along.

  16. Virtually NO self-ballasted, or “screw-in” compact fluorescent lamps have been made in a manner that causes the flicker noticeable in older fluorescent systems. The energy going into these lamps at 60Hz (or CPS for those of us over 50) is changed to several tens of thousands of Hz (CPS) before it reaches the lamp. That flicker you see in some regular fluorescent systems is due to their not yet being retrofitted to electronic ballasts.

    Either you have some extremely old screw-in CFLs, or have not seen the ones that have been around for at least the past six or seven years.

    I make my living in the lighting energy conservation field and am aware of the objections. They have been dealt with for the most part. I will also state in closing that I despise most screw-in CFLs because most of them are junk.

    When buying CFLs, choose the ones marked “2700 deg K” or “27K” for light-bulb colored light and 3000K for the look of halogen. Me? I run 3500K lamps because I prefer the whiter light. It is not “hospital harsh” like the 5000K or 6400K lamps some have bought in error. Avoid those unless you like them.

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