Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Bright Idea

Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas), most recently in the news for apologizing to BP, is mounting a stiff defense of the traditional incandescent light bulb, which is under attack by government regulators who want to replace it with what he derisively calls "the little squiggly ones." This description is an ad hominem attack against compact fluorescent bulbs. Ad hominem attacks are those in which some aspect of a person (or, in this case, light bulb) is impugned that is irrelevant to the argument in question, such as, for instance, if I said Mr. Barton's ideas were stupid because he is a big pink squinting blob of useless protoplasm. The fact that he is a big pink squinting blob of useless protoplasm has nothing to do with why his ideas are stupid.

Rep. Barton says he found regular light bulbs at Walmart for under two bucks a four-pack, whereas it set him back nearly ten bucks for a single CFL bulb. "If you're mainstream America," he said, "that's not a very good deal." He said this because, as a Republican of means, he does all his shopping at Walmart, and also he wants to fight for the little guys, inasmuch as all their jobs got sent to China. By Walmart. Rep. Barton would like market forces to determine the choices of mainstream America.

I would too. I'd like them to be the kind of market forces in which you had to pay what things really cost. If we cut down the forest primeval for toilet paper, the cost of restoring the atmosphere and the water quality to its previous condition should be factored in each roll. Our food should include the cost of restoring the dead zones in the ocean caused by fertilizer run-off. Coal should include the price of putting the mountaintop back. Unfortunately, the capitalism Rep. Barton is so fond of is what used to be known as "pillaging." We go in and haul out all the fish 'til there ain't no more, and then we move on and tell the fishermen to go shop at Walmart. We haul out the coal, and the copper, and the trees, 'til there ain't no more, and then we move on and fight for the rights of whichever miners and loggers are surviving to buy cheap light bulbs at Walmart. A very few people make a bunch of money under this system, and those are the people whose rights Mr. Barton is most interested in. Don't look for them in Walmart.

If the cost of an incandescent light bulb, which is an inefficient user of energy, also included the cost of bringing out planet back from our wasteful and destructive ways, you can bet the squiggly bulbs would hold their own in the market just fine, and maybe a lot of unoccupied American rooms would not be lit up all the time. That's a fact.

Rep. Barton and his pal Rep. Boehner (R-Ohio), global-warming deniers both, do not care much about facts, or the whiny concerns of the mother planet, which, after all, has been here their entire lives. They're figuring that once the scientists they keep insulting get over their snit, they can find us a new planet to trash. Climate science is threatening their wrinkly bottom lines, so they're combating the science with lies. I have given up believing that the truth will sway any of these pirates, but it only recently occurred to me that you can't fight lies with the truth. You need more lies.

So please help me get the news out, people. Word on the street is that a paste made out of the ground-up testicles of Representatives Barton and Boehner will increase sexual potency. It's not true, of course. There's no use for them at all.

50 comments:

  1. I think you should reconsider this attack, as the protoplasm community is insulted at being compared to Mr. Barton.

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  2. I hardly know what to say to climate change deniers. Humor is probably the best method to expose their ludicrous comments. But I REALLY like the idea of Barton and Boehner's private parts being used for something other than procreation.

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  3. Barton's ad bulbinem attack is of a piece with his endorsement of Mall-Wart, which shows that he has as much respect for (or understanding of) economics as for ecology. If sticker price is the only thing that matters, why not export all the manufacturing jobs from the US to the Third World? Of course, that would drive unemployment to levels which would make the re-election hopes of Republicans like Barton as dim as a cheap busted light bulb. He'd be collaborating in his own extinction.

    Even if a paste made from Republican yarbles did enhance sexual potency, the taste would be so awful it wouldn't be worth it.

    And Barton is a big pink squinting blob of useless protoplasm. I'm not saying that to attack his ideas. It's just an observation.

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  4. Elizabeth BrewsterDecember 1, 2010 at 6:46 AM

    I’m glad you had the balls to write this. It’s a teste-ment to the Republicans junk. An ode to the in-scrotable , and it taint no small thing. There are a lot of nuts out there who think they are the family jewels, but really are just a bunch of sad sacks. Bollocks!

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  5. The so-called problem with incandescent light-bulbs is their inefficiency--too much heat created for the amount of light available to the user. However, when you're running your heater through the fall, winter, and spring, the heat from the bulb is not working against you at all! Plus, far fewer nasty chemicals involved in the process of manufacturing and fewer to be disposed of, as well.
    Too bad the government thinks we're too stupid to figure out which bulbs we should be using in our own climates.
    Oh wait, I guess we are.

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  6. I have no interest in Mr Barton, but I have to say the low-energy lightbulbs I've tried so far have been total rubbish. They don't reach their full brightness for several minutes, which is no good at all if you're just popping into a room to fetch something. Maybe I've been buying the wrong bulbs, but right now I've reluctantly gone back to the old high-energy type.

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  7. I have the same complaint about the low-energy lightbulbs. I'm all for efficiency and stuff, and I'm quite willing to pay more for it, but when I turn on my porch light to take the dog out on a chilly night, those low-energy things are about as potent as a jar full of lightning bugs. Therefore, I'm inclined to turn them on at dusk and leave them burning so they are up to full lumens when I need them---and that's not solving the problem, is it?

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  8. Once again, you light up my life, girlfriend! I love a good rant about the Phallus-ies of Irrelevant Evidence! Elaine

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  9. I use incandescents in a couple places where I frequently want instant light. But for lighting whole rooms -- for lights that stay on for hours at a time -- I use the squigglies. It's just a matter of using the right tool for the right job. Using incandescents for general lighting is like using a power washer to do the dishes. It'll work, all right, but it's kinda stupid.

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  10. You are too funny.

    As an aside I was amused last week when I bought a cheapo desk lamp and paid more for the long-life bulb than i did for the lamp.

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  11. For lighting, maybe not heating, I submit that the squigglies are cheaper. But you have to figure how many times longer they last; and, if you want more light, you need more wattage. To equal 100 watts of the old-style bulbie guys, try 23 watts instead of the ones the size of your little finger. Mr. Barton, when did you last shop for light bulbs? (Let's see: when did CFLs first come out? A couple of decades ago they might have been $10 tied up in a Christmas box at Nieman Marcus.)
    I hope Mr. B. is not on the Appropriations Committee or any other committe that might require a little math or economics.
    Rosemary

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  12. 'People who know the price of everything and the value of nothing ought to be in cans' - Descent

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  13. We ran around putting the squigglies in everywhere so we could get our good doobie badges. I had to take the one out by my bed because it hummed at a high pitched frequency so loudly that it was rearranging my brain cells when I read in bed at night. The other thing is that they have mercury in them so how the heck do we recycle them? The normal recycling pick-up won't take them. *sigh* In the words of the immortal Kermit, it isn't easy being green.

    Now, if you could only get that Republican cojone paste to neutralise the mercury, ejaculations of joy would be heard in the land.

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  14. We have a new problem with the squigglies here in Washington DC. Seems that the well-intentioned people who use them haven't learned squat about "color temperature". In other words, you can use a warmer squiggly in many places and no one will know the difference. But lately, I think that there must be a shortage of 'warm temp' ones, and a surplus of 'cool temp' ones. This means that people are changing their burnt-out warm color bulbs and replacing them with "daylight spectrum" (i.e. cool temp) bulbs. The effect is to turn an otherwise invitingly-lit front porch into something that looks like the walk-up window at an all-night gas station.
    Now, why is it that only homosexuals are able to discern the three different "color temperatures" of commonly-available squigglies? Must we mount an education campaign at our own expense, to inform the rest of the world that: (1) cool color temp is for things like gas stations and public toilets; (2) medium-temp color is for more respectable commercial applications, and; (3) warm-temp color squigglies are the only type that should be used in residential settings, inside or out.
    As much as I find the blue glare of cool-temp squigglies to be offensive, perhaps I should be more patient with the general public's slow grasp of such nuances.
    After all, it took us 15 years to teach people the difference between "pink" and "mauve" and "dusty rose".....
    Harruumph.

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  15. I sure hope some day soon you can do something about our military uniforms, too, Ed.

    "Ejaculations of joy..." are we done yet? I think not.

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  16. I’m a first-time visitor to Murrmurr. Great writing. Thanks for the example of right-wing thinking. I replaced all the light bulbs in my apartment with fluorescent light bulbs about three years ago. I am 68 years old and don’t like climbing up to change them! So far they are all still burning, whereas regular bulbs would have been replaced numerous times. They are in the shape of regular bulbs, not squiggly. They don’t hum or give off heat. They have cut my electric bill about $20 a month. So, what these twits don’t factor in is that you save money in the long run and don’t have the inconvenience of replaceing bulbs every couple of months. There could be “spillover costs,” though. The fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and should be shipped to a special location rather than thrown in the trash. So far, I have been unable to locate just where to ship them – if they ever go out. The packages said mine should last about 10 years. Factor that, Mr. Barton. BJ

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  17. Everybody welcome B.J. Whoot whoot! I can tell you're over sixty because you can spell fluorescent and you didn't even need to look it up. I hope the mercury doesn't poison us while the bulbs are burning. I tip over enough already.

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  18. I am new to your blog too Murr, thanks to Tim hosting this last edition of I and the Bird. I love your writing and seem to be on the same wavelength as you politically and environmentally (how scary is that)?

    Why is it that so many of our politicians are believed by so many Americans? Are these the same Americans that actually believe Glenn Beck? That actually faithfully watch Faux News, which isn't really news at all, but a Republican political action committee, not so well disguised?

    And the climate change deniers? Don't get me started.

    I think we should just grind all their nuts up and sell them as organic compost.

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  19. In the city I worked for in environmental compliance and pollution prevention, we judged fluorescents on balance much better environmentally than incandescents. We already sent out the water quality plant's tubes for recycling, then got hardware stores to collect used fluorescent tubes and collected them, too, in the drive-in recycling area. Our budget paid for administrative and recycling costs. Breaking the glass is where the mercury problem comes in, so they're too fragile for street-side collection; but they have less and less mercury, especially certain models you can buy, and that can be recovered. So the trick is to look for low-mercury lights and work toward a recycling program if you don't already have one. (Or save them, as I did medicines here, until there is a program.) In the Portland area you can take tubes and CFLs to the hazardous waste centers or to neighborhood hazardous waste events. Check "hazardous waste" in your county. Sorry this isn't funny. Rosemary

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  20. I guess Mr Barton isn't the brightest bulb in the ceiling.

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  21. Guys like him give Republicans a bag name. It used to be that when they sounded off, I figured they were their own worst enemies because who would believe idiots like that? But I've grown older and wiser and now I know that there are a lot of people who trust idiots like that. So, what Larry said.

    You are submitting these pieces, aren't you? You really should be.

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  22. Uh...that should have been 'bad' name. I had to come back and rectify that or you might have been sitting there for ages, wondering what clever but obscure innuendo I was making.

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  23. Very nice site as well as funny comments.;)

    Perhaps we should bring back the nut vender's as it might put a scare into repukes every where.

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  24. I actually tackled this topic with a friend of mine a couple of years ago. I can tell you as someone who has rep'd for GE Lighting that overall, you WILL save more on CFLs. In fact if you contact GE Lighting at 800-435-4448 if the bulb goes out within the 5-7 years you are given, they will send you a coupon for a free replacement nad they are REALLY cool about doing that.

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  25. Thanks for shining a light on this topic. It was very illuminating.

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  26. Mary W
    I don't know, calling him a republican bagman seemed appropriate.

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  27. There's a phallusy in these puns somewhere.

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  28. All I can say is SSSSMOKINNNNN'!
    Outstanding political commentary with your inimitable sense of humor that makes it all the more hard-hitting. By the way, I've got a squiggly one burning in my desklamp right here beside me. On top of the savings, they're also safer if you happen to live in a cabin like I do because they don't get burning hot like incandescent bulbs do. Don't these bullet-headed, right-of-Genghis-Khan-reactionary-crap-for-brains-useless/useful-idiots ever think about anything that's not their own short-term business interests and those of their buddies? Don't bother, I already know the answer.

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  29. Why does "I've got a squiggly one burning in my desklamp" sound so dirty?

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  30. "Word on the street is that a paste made out of the ground-up testicles of Representatives Barton and Boehner will increase sexual potency."

    OK then, it's settled. Save the tigers, and send the two aforementioned a$$holes to China where their, uh, parts can be put to use.

    Very good description of our predicament. A small gang of robber barons and pillagers are trying to pretend their oligarchy is "capitalism." And the worst part is, voters keep falling for it.

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  31. I think you are making me smarter, and so are your readers. I had no idea there were three colours of squigglies and I have been perplexed for more than a year now by the fact my front porch seems so cold and uninviting. I am now on a mission to find warm squigglies (snort snort).

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  32. Fantastic!

    I suppose I should no longer be amazed at their ability to ridicule what they don't understand, but I am. Willful ignorance seems to be a badge of honor for these folks. The gold standard, for me, remains Palin's ridicule of "fruit fly research in Paris, France." (She kids you not.) I guess it matters nothing to her that fruit flies have been and continue to be a major research tool; and I'm guessing that the research institute in Paris was the Pasteur Institute.

    In their world, if they don't get it...it doesn't matter.

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  33. Worse, they think WE'RE the stupid ones.

    Mischief, this is a mighty smart bunch. I'm just training them up so I can take a few weeks off and let my commenters have at it. Good luck with your warm squiggly emission. Er, mission.

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  34. But how do you really feel, Murr? Don't keep us in the dark.

    ReplyDelete
  35. A friend directed me to your blog. She knows that I've been complaining that my head is going to explode ever since I first heard the name "Sarah Palin" and "candidate" in the same sentence. I feel so much better now and my head is throbbing a lot less. Your are much better therapy than the Tylenol overdoses that I've been taking for the last couple of years. Oh and thank you for the wonderful example that clearly explained the meaning of ad hominem attack.

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  36. Hop aboard, Sheria! I heard something blow up last night--I hope it wasn't your head.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Elizabeth, you too are super funny! I think that other Brewster has you in training.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Oh, Rosemary. You wouldn't believe what-all we have in our jeans. Genes.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Oh, Rosemary. You wouldn't believe what-all we have in our jeans. Genes.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hop aboard, Sheria! I heard something blow up last night--I hope it wasn't your head.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I’m a first-time visitor to Murrmurr. Great writing. Thanks for the example of right-wing thinking. I replaced all the light bulbs in my apartment with fluorescent light bulbs about three years ago. I am 68 years old and don’t like climbing up to change them! So far they are all still burning, whereas regular bulbs would have been replaced numerous times. They are in the shape of regular bulbs, not squiggly. They don’t hum or give off heat. They have cut my electric bill about $20 a month. So, what these twits don’t factor in is that you save money in the long run and don’t have the inconvenience of replaceing bulbs every couple of months. There could be “spillover costs,” though. The fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and should be shipped to a special location rather than thrown in the trash. So far, I have been unable to locate just where to ship them – if they ever go out. The packages said mine should last about 10 years. Factor that, Mr. Barton. BJ

    ReplyDelete
  42. We have a new problem with the squigglies here in Washington DC. Seems that the well-intentioned people who use them haven't learned squat about "color temperature". In other words, you can use a warmer squiggly in many places and no one will know the difference. But lately, I think that there must be a shortage of 'warm temp' ones, and a surplus of 'cool temp' ones. This means that people are changing their burnt-out warm color bulbs and replacing them with "daylight spectrum" (i.e. cool temp) bulbs. The effect is to turn an otherwise invitingly-lit front porch into something that looks like the walk-up window at an all-night gas station.
    Now, why is it that only homosexuals are able to discern the three different "color temperatures" of commonly-available squigglies? Must we mount an education campaign at our own expense, to inform the rest of the world that: (1) cool color temp is for things like gas stations and public toilets; (2) medium-temp color is for more respectable commercial applications, and; (3) warm-temp color squigglies are the only type that should be used in residential settings, inside or out.
    As much as I find the blue glare of cool-temp squigglies to be offensive, perhaps I should be more patient with the general public's slow grasp of such nuances.
    After all, it took us 15 years to teach people the difference between "pink" and "mauve" and "dusty rose".....
    Harruumph.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I use incandescents in a couple places where I frequently want instant light. But for lighting whole rooms -- for lights that stay on for hours at a time -- I use the squigglies. It's just a matter of using the right tool for the right job. Using incandescents for general lighting is like using a power washer to do the dishes. It'll work, all right, but it's kinda stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I have the same complaint about the low-energy lightbulbs. I'm all for efficiency and stuff, and I'm quite willing to pay more for it, but when I turn on my porch light to take the dog out on a chilly night, those low-energy things are about as potent as a jar full of lightning bugs. Therefore, I'm inclined to turn them on at dusk and leave them burning so they are up to full lumens when I need them---and that's not solving the problem, is it?

    ReplyDelete
  45. Barton's ad bulbinem attack is of a piece with his endorsement of Mall-Wart, which shows that he has as much respect for (or understanding of) economics as for ecology. If sticker price is the only thing that matters, why not export all the manufacturing jobs from the US to the Third World? Of course, that would drive unemployment to levels which would make the re-election hopes of Republicans like Barton as dim as a cheap busted light bulb. He'd be collaborating in his own extinction.

    Even if a paste made from Republican yarbles did enhance sexual potency, the taste would be so awful it wouldn't be worth it.

    And Barton is a big pink squinting blob of useless protoplasm. I'm not saying that to attack his ideas. It's just an observation.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I hardly know what to say to climate change deniers. Humor is probably the best method to expose their ludicrous comments. But I REALLY like the idea of Barton and Boehner's private parts being used for something other than procreation.

    ReplyDelete