"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Keep Your Hands Off My Light Bulbs, Ceiling Fans, and Twinkies

Martha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) has finally spoken out for all of us who love our soft 100w incandescent light bulbs and resent anyone telling us to use those pale, colorless, cold, and unappealing LED versions. Sitting in a living room lit with them is like being in a black-and-white movie.  In the movie Pleasantville two teenagers from the present are transported back in time and live in a 50s sitcom:

Finally color starts to appear as they manipulate the past.  Ahhhh….the incandescent lights have been turned on!

As Vikas Bajaj quotes in the New York Times (7.28.13):
“First, they came for our health care, then they took away our light bulbs, and raided our nation’s most iconic guitar company — now they are coming after our ceiling fans. Nothing is safe from the Obama administration’s excessive regulatory tentacles.”
A number of precocious observers, having heard that this unwarranted intrusion by government on individual freedoms might be coming, stockpiled a closetful of old-fashioned light bulbs.  After all, light bulbs and fans are far easier for Congress to deal with than Syria or the national debt.  For Democratic proponents of the LED bulb it is a win-wind situation.  By banning traditional light bulbs and promoting an energy-saving version, they can be seen to be both environmentally friendly and pandering to business, for the same bulb companies stand to make billions from the deal.

But the Tea Party and the likes of Congresswoman Blackburn have stepped to the fore.  Enough of this unwarranted and untoward assault on individual liberty, the marketplace, and consumer capitalism, she hollered in the halls of the House, and her voice held sway. The House passed a law that said to then-President Obama, “Keep your hands off of our bulbs!”.

The possibility of banning ceiling fans hit home almost more than the light bulbs.  The sound of a whirring ceiling fan in the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, the teak window blinds canted to deflect the bright sunlight off the water and let in the tropical breeze, the padding of the bare feet of liveried servants in the creaky wooden corridor, the clink of a silver tea service, and the warm light of afternoon are all part of warm and vivid memories. It is the sound of a ceiling fan which brings back all of that colonial elegance, the era of teak and mahogany, polished brass, and impeccable service. 

Bajaj ceiling fans, cranked on high, thudding like helicopter blades, were the only salvation in the un-air conditioned hotels of the Deccan in the late 60s.  The temperature in Nagpur reached 120F during the day, and the stone and brick walls of the hotels kept in the heat at night.  Only the blast of the ceiling fan offered some respite. The air was no cooler, but the powerful wind that flapped everything in the room not battened down at least moved the hot, still air.

Every government office in India during the summer was filled with the roar of ceiling fans.  Babus moved paperweights around like pieces in speed chess, pulling one dog-eared document from a pile, slamming the colored glass weight down before the papers could fly.  The noise from the fans in these cavernous Delhi offices was so loud that I caught only snatches of conversation.  The First Secretary, his cheek bulging with pan, red betel juice dripping from the corners of his mouth spoke as loud as he could without losing his chaw, but that was never enough.  The noise was greater than the old DC-3s yawing down the runway on the flight to Aurangabad.

Most modern homes today have at least one ceiling fan, usually in the kitchen.  Yet, not a time goes by when turning on that kitchen fan does not remind me of romantic days in the Grand Hotel of Calcutta, and the thump and thud of ceiling fans which were part of my early life.

In the most outlandish display of government arrogance, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC has gone right to the heart of America and tried to ban soft drinks, buttered popcorn, Mars Bars, and Twinkies. 

Not content to turn the clock back a few years, he wants to return to the days of Hester Prynne.

Most Americans resent government meddling, but tolerate it; OK with traffic lights and stop-and-frisk.  Yet for each there is a line in the sand - for many an absolute refusal to have living rooms and cupboards invaded.

Enough is enough.


  1. Nice post and illustrations...

    Regarding light bulbs,
    the ban (phase out..) does not make sense anyway whether to save energy for society or other reasons: freedomlightbulb.org
    14 referenced reasons

    Re the developing world, also notice Philips and Osram partnership with UN to switch bulbs worldwide,
    it's a little like banning generic penicillin for expensive patented complex varieties, see point 13 among the reasons...

  2. Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of information about light bulbs, with the evolution of technology, new bulbs and lamp has developed, now a days electrode less bulbs are coming which are durable, long lasting and maintenance free

  3. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post. hamptonbayceilingfans.co


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