Days of Change

Day 1265 – Failed Technology

April 22, 2012

A bulb burned out in my kitchen today. I was in the other room and I noticed a strong flicker. As I went to turn the switch off, I caught the acrid smoke. This is a pretty familiar pattern. It’s a CFL bulb. They’re just as good as the old filament tubes, except that they tend to cook the base when they’re mounted upside-down and they’re filled with toxic mercury. Maybe I can get one of those $60 bulbs next. Happy Earth Day.

One of the reasons that Republicans consider environmentalism a secular religion is because of the blind faith involved. When they tell you the alternative is just as good as the real thing, they believe it. When the alternative under-performs or fails outright, it’s because you are hoping for failure. Now I was an early adopter of CFL bulbs. I liked the relative energy savings. I’ve learned a few things over the years. My first “5 year” bulb lasted 11 months. No one uses a light three hours per day. My average usage can go 8-12 hours per day. These screw bulbs do not work well hanging upside-down, are not indicated for a light on a dimmer and are useless in an outdoor fixture where the temperature falls below freezing.

Then there’s the Chevy Volt. The next time someone says Republicans hate the environment and that’s why they hate the Volt, ask them why the Volt uses the gasoline engine in the drive train when it’s supposed to be a series hybrid. If they do anything but stare blankly, move on to ask why we need to pay $40,000 for a parallel hybrid when the Prius is $25,000 and a battery retrofit is another $10K. I’m a technophile, so I know which technology sucks. I also know why it sucks and it usually has to do with the government.

Think about technology now and how the government would have killed it. In the 80s, millions of people were using computers and maybe thousands had a real use for them. Those old boxes used a lot of juice, too. What if the government put the same caps and taxes on computing that they want to put on driving? Imagine if Intel had to design the boards to use low power to avoid taxes. Modern computers would have been delayed by years. Laptops would be expensive because of the energy “vampire” power bricks they use or the fact they have their own screens instead of plugging into the rabbit ears. Why have a portable phone with toxic rechargeable batteries when there are plentiful pay phones?

People mocked George H. W. Bush when he talked about bar code scanners. Now, we have a president who thinks that ATM machines are taking jobs away from tellers who would otherwise stand on street corners in bad neighborhoods to hand out cash. The administration throws money at donors for research but complains about tax breaks for oil exploration. At least the oil exploration will yield energy, damned if anything will come out of Solyndra.

The left keeps telling everyone that they have to use less energy, then demands we use every method that seems to waste MORE energy. Frankly, if they just told the innovators to do it and shut the hell up, we’d be done by now. But then they’d have nothing to complain about. The whole thing stinks about as much as my old light bulb.

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