Tuesday, May 24, 2011

That $50 LED light bulb? Total non-story. Here's why.

In the past week or so, Twitter, or at least the group of people I follow there, has been abuzz about a story about an LED-based lamp (as I've stated before, those in the lighting industry do not call them "light bulbs") that produces an equivalent output to a 100-watt incandescent.  The 100-watt incandescent lamp, as most people now, has been targeted for extinction by our friends in the federal government because, as with most things, they think they know what is best for you.  So, one would think an LED lamp capable of the same output is a good thing.

The buzz, though, is not about the abilities of such a lamp.  No, the buzz is that such a lamp will cost $50.

To that point I say:  so what?

Now, I'm not going to debate whether Congress should be sticking its nose into what lighting sources we buy (other than to say they shouldn't) because at this writing, it's a done deal.  If a future Congress repeals EISA (or if somehow the court system manages to shift its leanings and overturn it), we can talk about incandescent lamps.  (And yes, I know that some states are skirting EISA by saying that incandescent lamps can be sold if they are produced in that state.)

No, I'm simply going to say that people freaking out about the $50 cost of a 100-watt equivalent LED lamp need only look at history to see that this will not be an issue for very long.

I remember, two or three years ago, seeing the very first LED lamps with a medium screw base (that is, those designed to replace the incandescent lamps we use mostly these days).  It produced a fairly good light, but not a lot of it.  And it, back then, cost $50.  That cost has dropped dramatically since then as LED lamp technology has improved, and as the industry has gotten more efficient, and, yes, as people bought them.  Someone is going to buy a $50 LED lamp and be darn proud of it, I assure you.  (I can also assure you that, owing to finances, I will not be that someone.)

Don't believe me?  Perhaps you don't remember seeing the first flat-panel LCD HDTV models back in, say, 2001 or so.  They certainly didn't have nearly the number of bells and whistles that today's versions do.  (3D in television?  240-Hz technology?  Not even close.)  And some of the largest models sold for over $10,000 back then.  And people bought them.  (And then we were all forced into HDTVs in the same way as we are being forced out of incandescents.  But I digress.)

Perhaps being on the cutting edge of new technologies is a status symbol for some people.  I don't know.  But I do know that there are always buyers for these technologies.  It's a good thing that there are those buyers, too, because they are the ones who drive the costs down, so that a couple or so years later, you and I can buy those same items for a lot less.

Another consideration, of course, is that now that the 100-watt equivalence barrier has been breached, there will be many others rushing their own copycat products to market.  This, too, helps the price to come down, though I would urge caution, as some LED products are not made using quality materials, and it will be obvious once you turn the light on.  The color from these cheaper lamps will not be consistent, and the light produced will not be attractive.  Buyer beware.

But, really, the main point is that for about 99% or so of you, a $50 LED lamp price is nothing to worry about, because you will never pay it.  When these lamps go mainstream, the price will have fallen 80-90%, similarly to the eventually-to-be-obsolete fluorescent spiral lamps that most people hate.  And given that your electricity rate (if your utility is anything like mine) will have gone up quite a bit, saving over half the wattage for every light in the house, not to mention the much longer life LED lamps have, will make this product worth it sometime soon.

(In the meantime, go ahead and stockpile the incandescents while you still can.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Want to know why we homeschool?

One reason we homeschool is because we don't want our children to be indoctrinated by others' political agendas (usually at the expense of unimportant things like, you know, actual learning).

Case in point:  an ethnic studies text presently in use by the Tucson (Arizona) Unified School District, which, one mother was told, is presently used in multiple classes, including third grade.  This mother read excerpts from this text in a school board meeting earlier this week, as shown below.  Note:  objectionable language warning.  Also note the absurdity of the school board member's comment at 2:53.

(Hat tip:  The Blaze.  A partial transcript of the excerpts may be found at The New American.)

Monday, May 09, 2011

A few questions for President Obama's Austin visit

Everyone who has paid attention to the news the past few days knows that President Obama will visit Austin tomorrow (that's Tuesday, for those reading this after midnight, or much, much later, for those reading after the fact).  Here are a few relevant (or not so much) questions for this occasion.

To evening rush-hour commuters:  Got an alternate commute?  The rolling roadblock will be blocking all traffic wherever the president is going.  That includes a trip right in the middle of the 5:00 hour from the airport to the ACL Live theater on 2nd Street, and then a later trip to some undisclosed location west of Lake Austin before returning to the airport.  (Just a reminder:  thanks to geography and really poor planning, there is absolutely no direct route from 2nd Street to west of Lake Austin.  Hey--maybe the motorcade will be going right through your neighborhood!)  Perhaps you might consider leaving early or staying really late.

From the governor, and others who are like-minded on this, to the Obama administration:  Where is the disaster declaration for the areas affected by wildfire?  Are you really so petty as to deny Texas any help because people from Texas have bad-mouthed the Obama policies, as was insinuated by an anonymous Democrat legislator?  Because if you are doing that for that reason, then you truly are as thin-skinned as has been said pretty much every day on Twitter and elsewhere.

(To the person at McClatchy who entitled the article linked in the last paragraph "Grumpy Republicans await Obama in visit to Texas":  did you ever state that the Democrats who hated George W. Bush as much as, or more than, some on my side hate President Obama were "grumpy"?  Didn't think so.)

For those, such as Republic of Austin's Chris Apollo Lynn, who appear to think that those opposed to President Obama's policies are just "grouchy Republicans", "illiterate white hicks", etc.:  Really?  I'd invite you to get to know some of those people (like, say, myself), but you appear to have your mind made up, based on your warning to avoid areas where there might be protesters "[i]f you don't want to get teabagged".

To those, such as Mr. Lynn, who still use the phrase "teabagged":  it was a worn-out phrase two years ago.  Sorry, I guess that's not a question.

And, to the best of my knowledge, the only real question President Obama will be asking on this quick trip:  Cash, check or credit card?  Enjoy yourselves, donors.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Rejoicing in someone's death?

When I first heard on Sunday night that Osama bin Laden had been killed, I really didn't have much reaction to it.  Whether I was too tired to think at that point is a fairly valid question, but nevertheless, I did not have feel the jubilation that so many others did.

From looking around the net in the past couple of days, one could see that reactions have run the gamut from hoping that bin Laden is roasting in hell to praising the troops (as Sarah Palin did Monday in a speech previously scheduled to praise them anyway) to, unfortunately, using his death to make really lousy political points (as Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) also did Monday).

As for my personal reaction:  when I first got online Monday morning, the first thoughts I had were to blip some appropriately themed music (For the uninitiated, Blip.fm is a service for sharing music; I have my Blip account tied to my Twitter account.  That way, everyone can see that I have very diverse and strange tastes in music.) such as Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue", or even "Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead", but I stopped myself.

And I stopped because I had to ask myself this question:  should I be celebrating anyone's death?  Yes, the death of Osama bin Laden is definitely a relief, a closure, as it were, for so many people affected by the events of September 11, 2001.  And it is probably a good thing.  But was it the best possible solution?  As a Christian, I say no.  At least three of my Facebook friends posted some reference to the following:

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
   when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the LORD will see and disapprove

   and turn his wrath away from them.
(Proverbs 24:17-18, from the New International Version (2011), courtesy BibleGateway.com)

Another friend posted that she "should have wished Bin Laden would get right with God and that his soul would be saved".  That's an awfully hard thing for me, at least, to think about someone who obviously took great joy in watching so many people die through the events of September 11.

So I've been doing some soul-searching to determine if my response to this week's news has been what it should be for me as a Christian.  I started by reading a column from Joshua Graves written just before bin Laden's death; in this column, Mr. Graves reminds Christians about Jesus's call to love our enemies, up to and including those who would kill us. 

Then I read another column from Ryan Messmore entitled "Rejoicing in Justice Done".  Mr. Messmore was describing how he talked with his 8-year-old son about bin Laden's death:

I was able to remind him that acting out of vengeance or hatred is wrong, but that we are called to seek justice. The cheering in our home is not gloating over someone’s death. Rather, it is celebrating the fact that a terrorist’s murderous acts have been judged wrong, and he won’t be committing them again.

(Personally, I don't know if absolutely none of the cheering could be considered to be gloating over bin Laden's death, but since I don't want to get any more political in this post than I have already done, I'll drop it for now.)

But I think this section from Pastor Dan Scott's blog best reflects how I feel about everything:

Perhaps we believe his death brings some sort of closure to a decade that has been extraordinarily bloody and disruptive. Perhaps we think that justice has been done, since the architect of the 9/11 infamy has now paid the ultimate price. Perhaps we feel that a national shame has been erased.

I feel all those things.

As a Christian however, I cannot rejoice in any one’s death, however wicked. Even if I believe, as I do, that some offenses are so unspeakably evil that it becomes the responsibility of human government to end the life of the one who perpetrates them; the scripture forbids me to rejoice or gloat that such an action was necessary.

I'm happy that justice is done.  I'm relieved that there is finally some sort of closure.  I'm proud of our military for its continued service to our country. 

But I'm sorry that there are so many people who turn their backs on God's call to love each other, and that there are so many lives wasted, as bin Laden's was, because of his own hatred.

As Peter wrote:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

(2 Peter 3:9, from the New American Standard Bible, courtesy BibleGateway.com)

God wants us all to be saved, and, I'm sure, is not rejoicing in the death of Osama bin Laden.

And I don't care if people say I'm not a true American, or a true conservative, or a true whatever, just because I am not dancing in the streets about Osama bin Laden's death.  Because I'm called to be something more than that.  And that's what I am aiming to become.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Prince Charles called a hypocrite

While I'm sure everyone celebrates with Prince Charles on the recent wedding of his son, there are still many things with which some people, myself included, take exception, with regard to his lifestyle.  This blog, in fact, has made reference to at least one of these things before.  I was surprised, though, to find that I had never made reference to the fact that Prince Charles jets all over the world to tell people that the environment is in trouble.  It seemed a little hypocritical to me, but I guess I never mentioned it on here.  (I'm pretty sure I've tweeted about it, for those of you who tweet.)

Well, in the meantime, someone else has brought the environmental hypocrisy of Prince Charles to light.  As Guy Adams of The Independent put it:

Phelim McAleer, an Irish-born film-maker, who lives in Los Angeles, specialises in short polemics poking fun at bossy celebrities who preach green living while travelling in private jets and limousines (previous targets include James Cameron and Robert Redford). Now he’s turning his artistic howitzers upon the heir to our throne.

(See, this is why Guy Adams writes for The Independent, while I just write a seventh-rate blog; I would never think to use phrases like "artistic howitzers".)

The video appears, in its entirety, well, right here.

And I didn't have to jet around the world to tell you about it.