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Dim Idea (The environmentalist's war on your bathroom and how you light your home)
National Review ^ | 10/04/2010 | Rob Long

Posted on 10/04/2010 7:23:12 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Arriving late one night into Tokyo, I checked into my hotel room to discover the world’s most complicated toilet.

There were hoses and nozzles where hoses and nozzles probably shouldn’t be, and along the side there was an alarming set of button and switches, which made the entire contraption look like a neat freak’s electric chair.

But, you know, when in Rome, right?

It’s difficult to convey, in a magazine dedicated to the higher pursuits of political philosophy and national renewal, just how fantastic the Japanese toilet was. It’s impossible, especially, within the civilized parameters set by the editors and their assistants, to describe what a revelation it was — after a few eye-popping mishaps with the electric controls and one of the smaller nozzles — to discover that there were still things to perfect about an act we’ve all come to take for granted, still improvements to be made on the entire system, and that the Japanese had done it.

On the other hand, it uses an awful lot of water, at least the way I adjusted the settings. In addition to the water in the toilet itself, there’s the additional water for all of those clever nozzles — you can set the pressure for each of them, but I learned the hard way that it’s best not to be a hero.

By the end of my trip to Japan, I had already located an American dealer. It’s an expensive unit, but I like to think I’m worth it. Also, it took me the entire week to make it through the user’s manual, and once I’ve put in that kind of time on a gadget, I like to get my money’s worth.

So, my beloved Japanese toilet now finds itself ensconced in my bathroom — look, this is going to get personal, okay? — near my shower, which sports a sunflower-sized showerhead, which rains buckets and buckets of soothing water onto the bather, the entire room lit by hot-burning incandescent bulbs with 100 watts apiece of wake-up brightness.

My bathroom, in other words — which to me represents the pinnacle of easy livin’, the perfect intersection of raw technological innovation and empathetic human understanding — is an environmentalist’s nightmare. My dazzling and profuse showerhead, which turns a morning ritual into a moment of Zen, and my complex, computer-chipped, nozzled toilet, and the bright bulbs that give it all a clarity and visual snap — all of them are in the crosshairs of the eco-police. All of them are doomed.

The light bulbs are the first to go. The last major incandescent-light-bulb factory in America, in Winchester, Va., is closing. When you remember that light bulbs are also the symbol of great ideas, sudden inspiration, entrepreneurial Aha! moments, the fact that the country of Thomas Edison no longer produces light bulbs is a sad metaphor. Maybe we no longer produce light-bulb moments, either. A compact-fluorescent bulb flickering to life above the head of a cartoon character doesn’t feel the same.

By 2014, according to an absurd and indefensible act of Congress — and this one passed in 2007, so it’s not Obama’s fault for once — the kind of light bulbs that we all prefer — you know, the bright ones, the ones that actually illuminate rooms and objects — will be essentially banned and replaced by those awful Dairy Queen–looking things, the compact-fluorescent bulbs that bathe the world in a gauzy, dirty, yellow haze. It’s sick-room lighting, state-mental-hospital illumination — the kind of lights they used in East Germany to keep everyone sad and downcast.

The compact fluorescents are harder to manufacture — something about all of those twisty tubes — and if something is hard to make, it ends up getting made in China, which is where all of our light bulbs will come from by 2014.

And that’s how the Chinese will win, of course. We’ll all be squinting into the sick gray light while they sneak in and take everything.

The only time I ever really lost my temper in a business setting — and there’s no point in working in Hollywood if you don’t throw a huge tantrum every now and then; exploders and fit-pitchers are not only tolerated out here, they’re positively celebrated — was when the studio decided to install those awful light bulbs in some kind of ludicrous “green” initiative.

Working late became impossible — you couldn’t actually see the script you were supposed to be rewriting. The minute the sun went down, it was as if we were working in an emergency zone, with flickering generator lamps lighting our job site.

I sent a polite memo to the studio facilities crew asking for the incandescents to be reinstalled. They sent a polite memo in reply denying that request — “The studio is committed to creating a green workplace” — and suggested that I just needed to let my “eyes adjust.”

I’d like to say that I handled this in a firm and civilized way, but I didn’t. I went nuts. I marched over to the studio president’s office and demanded that he spend the next evening in my office in the cold yellow haze and try to read a script printed in a twelve-point font. I yelled and threatened and shouted and screamed, which people do in Hollywood all the time for more money or a bigger trailer or a helicopter taxi, but rarely for better light bulbs.

In the end, they gave me back my light. But I knew the days of the incandescent were numbered. Workplaces all over America are going to get darker and even more depressing.

And now they’re coming into my bathroom.

The Department of Energy regulates showerheads. Some of them, apparently, are too wasteful. My sunflower-sized rainmaker is on the list to be banned, as are the kinds that squirt water in all directions (those seem nice) and the kind that emit a steamy fog. In other words, if it somehow leavens the act of bathing, raising it up from dull routine to a tiny glimpse of the spa lifestyle, well, the DoE is against it.

Manufacturers of such showerheads are being fined — this spring, the federal government fined four such companies a total of about $150,000, just for making a showerhead that people want — and stern warnings are being sent out on Department of Energy letterhead.

To an environmental bureaucrat, the world looks better when it’s dingier. Bright lights are too festive. Powerful showerheads are too luxurious. To maintain the proper downcast attitude, they want to make sure we’re all a little less comfortable.

It’s all about less with them. As far as the environmental movement is concerned, we’re running out of everything — polar icecaps, sea turtles, crude oil — and the trick is to cut our appetites down to size, to stop wanting to stand under a gushing showerhead in a bright morning bathroom and think, I can handle what’s coming at me today.

It’s not about showerheads and wattage. It’s about optimism. Either you think a more prosperous world is a good thing — that prosperity and ingenuity can solve most of our pressing problems — or you don’t. Either you think that being able to afford an expensive showerhead is a component of a complicated web of incentives designed to inspire the next Thomas Edison to invent something useful — like, say, a battery-powered car or a brighter energy-saving light bulb — or you think that we’re done, we’ve invented everything already and we need to divvy up a shrinking pie. For the Left, there are no light-bulb moments in the future.

In the Battle of the Bathroom, the environmental bureaucrats have the optimistic hedonists on the run. They’ve taken our bulbs and our rain-showers, so it’s just a matter of time before they focus their regulatory powers on my toilet, with its delightfully surprising — but water-wasteful — nozzles and jets. This, perhaps, is where we need to take our (seated) stand. This is the line they must not cross. When they come to me with their regulations and federal guidelines, I will take a page from the National Rifle Association and say, “From my cold, dead . . .”

Well, you get the idea.

— Rob Long is a contributing editor of National Review and a contributor to Ricochet.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bathroom; environmentalism

1 posted on 10/04/2010 7:23:16 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

“Either you think a more prosperous world is a good thing — that prosperity and ingenuity can solve most of our pressing problems — or you don’t.”


2 posted on 10/04/2010 7:38:15 AM PDT by CitizenUSA
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To: SeekAndFind

Good stuff. I’ve heard about these EPA assaults on dealers. I recently had a rep from Kohler in my home to help me re-vamp all of my bathroom and kitchen gadgetry, and he mentioned that Kohler was up against a wall with some of their products. Three of them in particular were exactly the same as those I chose to upgrade my shower, and there’s apparently an extensive lead time on the components since they’re so popular right now. He told me, however, to select another set from their “Green” catalog, and I adamantly refused.

His response, “It’s all going green. You might be forced to change these $XXX faucets through future legislation.”

I asked him to leave and called Kohler to complain.


3 posted on 10/04/2010 7:38:45 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Interesting. Thanks for posting. What are they going to do about the huge bathroom whirlpool/spa tubs people have? Surely those use much more water and energy than a nice shower head with decent water pressure. When we stay at hotels that have those low-pressure showerheads, I have no doubt that it takes me three times as long to rinse my hair. I doubt they are saving any water.


4 posted on 10/04/2010 7:39:34 AM PDT by NEMDF
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To: SeekAndFind

The funny part is that the left tries to think of themselves as on the side of freedom...


5 posted on 10/04/2010 7:43:33 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a (de)humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he's working for.)
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To: SeekAndFind
The funniest part of this - the “experts” would lead you to believe that fluorescent lights ALWAYS save energy -

horse manure!

Put one in a room that gets turned on and off eight or nine times a day - like a bathroom in a typical family home - and there will be a net loss in energy efficiency.

Fluorescents work great in rooms that will have the lights on most of the day (family rooms for an example). But they are not a be all, end all, savings.

6 posted on 10/04/2010 7:52:08 AM PDT by I cannot think of a name
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To: MrB

“The funny part is that the left tries to think of themselves as on the side of freedom...”

Yea right, were free to be there Serfs.


7 posted on 10/04/2010 7:53:31 AM PDT by desertfreedom765
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To: SeekAndFind
...replaced by those awful Dairy Queen–looking things, the compact-fluorescent bulbs that bathe the world in a gauzy, dirty, yellow haze. It’s sick-room lighting, state-mental-hospital illumination — the kind of lights they used in East Germany to keep everyone sad and downcast.

While I agree with the point of his article, that we should not be forced to buy something, he is being over dramatic in describing CFLs, yes some are dingy and yellow, but you need to pick ones with the correct colour temperature, we have voulnatarily replaced all the lights at home with CFLs not for any 'green' reasons, but because we prefer the light. However that is because we picked the one that provided light in the 6500K colour temperature range (often labled 'daylight' bulbs) the light is brighter and whiter than with incandescents. So it really comes down to the type of CFL you get and not the actual CFL technology.

Of course the added benefits of less heat output and less electricity usage are a bonus, especially in my computer room that has 3 computers and associated hardware running at any one time :)
8 posted on 10/04/2010 7:53:59 AM PDT by battousai (Conservatives are racist? YES, I hate stupid white liberals.)
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To: desertfreedom765

dat da troof!

Every leftist, from the president down to the hemp stinkinest dreadlocked junior college student,

thinks he will be the one holding the whip instead of living under its lash.


9 posted on 10/04/2010 7:55:38 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a (de)humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he's working for.)
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To: SeekAndFind
H. L. Mencken said he'd trade the Parthenon for an American bathroom.

He meant it as a dig at American's who were in thrall to European Kultur (as he put it).

10 posted on 10/04/2010 7:56:03 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The naked casuistry of the high priests of Warmism would make a Jesuit blush.)
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To: NEMDF
We have an ancient (22 year old) portable 2-person whirlpool in our bathroom, which we remodeled from a small bedroom, 22 years ago. It is 150 gallons and self-contained. It still works fine, although we have replaced everything once and have done some JB Weld and silicon fusion tape repairs in a couple places on the pipes/fittings. It is nearly obsolete, but many small businesses retrofit these old spas.

It saves us water. We are on a well and septic system. We take Navy showers, except in the dead of winter. Good pressure from one of those variable mode shower heads. The tub is heated to 108F 2x a day in winter and once a day in summer. Takes about 1 1/2-2 hours each time and saves money over leaving on all the time, which usually means it runs one hour out of every 4 plus it will run the heater every few hours for awhile to keep the temp up. Only I use it in summer. We add water about once a week or so, whenever it gets a gallon or so down by evaporation. It gets drained, cleaned, filter changed and refilled about once every 3 months or so and stays clear and sparkling in between. We use a polymer clarifier and an oxygen shock. Chemicals run about $60/year. We also clean and reuse the filters and probably buy one at $45/each, every year. I think I have 3 that are still efficient on hand at the moment.

When replacement time comes, if I can't find another small tub for a decent price (they run about $4k), we have decided we can likely replace the works for under $2k in today's prices. The acrylic tub and the insulating foam are still in good shape. I think they are good for 40 years or so.

I have looked at the drain and fill tubs with an in-line heater and I think they use way more water and energy than ours.

11 posted on 10/04/2010 8:05:43 AM PDT by reformedliberal
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t know where this guy found his “yellow” bulbs, but my wife just put in a bunch of crappy white ones that I absolutely hate. They’re white and sterile. It’s like being in an operating room!


12 posted on 10/04/2010 8:06:44 AM PDT by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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To: MrB

RE: The funny part is that the left tries to think of themselves as on the side of freedom...


The law that makes incandescent bulbs illegal by a certain date has not been challenged in court by anyone. At least not yet.

I wonder how it will stand the test of constitutionality...


13 posted on 10/04/2010 8:07:15 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
Two comments:

1) It is easy to drill or bore out the flow restrictor on shower heads.

2) Don't worry about the CFL's. You will not have to endure them for 5,000 hours, or whatever they claim! Each one contains five millgrams of mercury, and won't be made here! They are all made in China, where they dump the manufacturing waste into the river. Due to "Quality Fade" as cheaper and cheaper components are switched into the product, in a few batches, the products will fail in fewer hours than an incandescent bulb.

Then of course, you have to call the EPA, the DEQE, and the Marines to come and remove the "hazardous material". There is probably a "Special Tax" hiding in this, as well.

Be patient. LEDs are on the way.

Or burn tires for light.

14 posted on 10/04/2010 8:07:39 AM PDT by Gorzaloon ("Mother...My Couric itches.")
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To: SeekAndFind

If I worked it right I should have just enough bulbs ferreted away to last me. If I didn’t time it right I’ll probably be so old I won’t be able to notice the difference anyway...;-)


15 posted on 10/04/2010 8:09:58 AM PDT by rockrr (Everything is different now)
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To: SeekAndFind

When I challenged a libinlaw about the restrictions on light bulbs and the amount of water we can use to flush our toilets,

she declared that I “didn’t care about the world [I] would leave to my children”.

See, leftists don’t think about ANY issue beyond the point where they feel morally superior and where they justify their false assumption that they are “good people”.


16 posted on 10/04/2010 8:15:00 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a (de)humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he's working for.)
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To: NEMDF
When we stay at hotels that have those low-pressure showerheads, I have no doubt that it takes me three times as long to rinse my hair. I doubt they are saving any water.

Don't worry, the good comrades will cut your hair off. Problem solved.

17 posted on 10/04/2010 8:25:40 AM PDT by IYAS9YAS (Liberalism can be summed up thusly: someone craps their pants and we all have to wear diapers)
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To: I cannot think of a name

This should be in the Republican agenda. To repeal the incandescent light bulb ban.


18 posted on 10/04/2010 8:29:22 AM PDT by stevio (Freedom!)
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To: IYAS9YAS

RE: Don’t worry, the good comrades will cut your hair off


Would you believe, Osama Bin Ladin is also concerned with Global Warming...

How soon before your hair becomes your head?


19 posted on 10/04/2010 8:31:20 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
In the Battle of the Bathroom, the environmental bureaucrats have the optimistic hedonists on the run. They’ve taken our bulbs and our rain-showers, so it’s just a matter of time before they focus their regulatory powers on my toilet, with its delightfully surprising — but water-wasteful — nozzles and jets. This, perhaps, is where we need to take our (seated) stand. This is the line they must not cross. When they come to me with their regulations and federal guidelines, I will take a page from the National Rifle Association and say, “From my cold, dead . . .”

Where's Al Bundy when we need him?

20 posted on 10/04/2010 8:31:25 AM PDT by GreenHornet
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To: MrB

My home is a combination of Fluoroscent and Incandescent lighting (I’d say 75% incandescent and 25% Fluorescent).

I don’t intend to leave this place for the next 7 to 8 years and 2014 will be upon us soon.

Has anybody done and estimation on HOW MUCH IT WILL COST to the average family to replace ALL Incandescent lighting with CFL lighting ?

Also, how are the Feds going to ensure total compliance? Are they going to hire people who will go from house to house and then start fining those who don’t comply ?

What if you are on a budget and don’t have the money to rewire your house ?

HAS ANYBODY ACTUALLY EVEN ASKED THESE QUESTIONS ?

Do you realize that most of you are going to be considered law breakers in 4 years?

This stupid law was passed in 2007 ( Bush was president then ).... HOW COULD HE EVEN SIGN THIS INTO LAW ?


21 posted on 10/04/2010 10:32:26 AM PDT by WebFocus
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To: Gorzaloon

RE: Be patient. LEDs are on the way.


Putting LEDs aside, I have a more practical question regarding how the ban-the-incandescent law is going to affect my pocket come 2014.

My home is a combination of Fluoroscent and Incandescent lighting (I’d say 75% incandescent and 25% Fluorescent).

I don’t intend to leave this place for the next 7 to 8 years and 2014 will be upon us soon.

Has anybody done and estimation on HOW MUCH IT WILL COST to the average family to replace ALL Incandescent lighting with CFL lighting ?

Also, how are the Feds going to ensure total compliance? Are they going to hire people who will go from house to house and then start fining those who don’t comply ?

What if you are on a budget and don’t have the money to rewire your house ?

HAS ANYBODY ACTUALLY EVEN ASKED THESE QUESTIONS ?

Do you realize that most of you are going to be considered law breakers in 4 years?

This stupid law was passed in 2007 ( Bush was president then ).... HOW COULD HE EVEN SIGN THIS INTO LAW ?


22 posted on 10/04/2010 10:34:25 AM PDT by WebFocus
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To: rarestia

BTW, I take exception to this sentence in the above article :

“By 2014, according to an absurd and indefensible act of Congress — and this one passed in 2007, so it’s not Obama’s fault for once “

Why do we always heap praise or blame on a President ALONE when some law gets passed or rejected?

Obama was Senator in 2007. HOW DID HE VOTE ON THIS ISSUE?
If he voted YEA, then he CANNOT ESCAPE BLAME.

Of course, the more important question is this — WHY DID BUSH NOT VETO THIS STUPID AND IDIOTIC BILL WHICH WILL WILL ALL BUT GUARANTEE THAT THE FEDS WILL INTRUDE IN OUR LIVES?


23 posted on 10/04/2010 10:41:06 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Well, he signed ethanol subsidy bills too. There’s also the Patriot Act, which is a bit unConstitutional in some sections.

We’d have to go back 80 - 100 years to get back to where most FReepers would consider an acceptable Constitutional Republic.


24 posted on 10/04/2010 10:43:42 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: WebFocus
Also, how are the Feds going to ensure total compliance? Are they going to hire people who will go from house to house and then start fining those who don’t comply ?

They will have just shut them off at the supply side. Eventually all the incandescents will have burned out, and the oceans will lower, the Whales will sing gloriously, and Ubumbu the Magnificent (PBUH) will ascend to Heaven. There will be rainbows and unicorns, the Dodo will return, etc.

25 posted on 10/04/2010 11:12:11 AM PDT by Gorzaloon ("Mother...My Couric itches.")
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To: WebFocus

>This stupid law was passed in 2007 ( Bush was president then ).... HOW COULD HE EVEN SIGN THIS INTO LAW ?<

Did the Democrat majority of that period send him a bill that was packed with so much stuff it slipped by, or did he know he was signing this into law? If the latter is the case, surely he didn’t think this through and didn’t know how much mercury the bulbs contain.


26 posted on 10/04/2010 11:13:44 AM PDT by Darnright (There can never be a complete confidence in a power which is excessive. - Tacitus)
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To: WebFocus
Also, how are the Feds going to ensure total compliance? Are they going to hire people who will go from house to house and then start fining those who don’t comply ?

You'll need an inspection and a permit in order to sell a house. Yes, they WILL "hire" people to inspect your house, but, not only will you pay to bring it up to "code", you'll pay for the inspection and re-inspection in order to be able to sell it.

27 posted on 10/04/2010 11:25:33 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a (de)humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he's working for.)
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To: WebFocus

“Has anybody done and estimation on HOW MUCH IT WILL COST to the average family to replace ALL Incandescent lighting with CFL lighting ?”

Right now I can go to any number of “dollar” stores in the big city and buy CFLs for $1 apiece. Count how many incandescents you have to replace and that is how dollars you will spend. In two years I have yet to lose one CFL.


28 posted on 10/04/2010 1:38:52 PM PDT by TexasRepublic (Socialism is the gospel of envy and the religion of thieves)
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To: MrB

If you sell a home in MA to a family with kids, you have to provide an certificate affidavit stating there is no lead paint in the house. Think it’s already in force or pending.

For older homes, potentially an issue.


29 posted on 10/04/2010 1:49:14 PM PDT by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes!Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -Ummrika is almost SmokFrei!)
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To: swarthyguy

Yep, KS as well on the “lead paint disclosure”.


30 posted on 10/04/2010 1:53:48 PM PDT by MrB (The difference between a (de)humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he's working for.)
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To: MrB

The costs could become rather prohibitive in some cases.

Old houses, architectural flourishes layered in paint coats over decades......plastic seals when the removal process takes place.....workers in hazmat gear......Wow!

At least no one’s talking about the glue behind old wallpape!


31 posted on 10/04/2010 2:07:58 PM PDT by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes!Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -Ummrika is almost SmokFrei!)
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