Southland Tales and the Compact Fluorescent Lie

When I first watched Southland Tales on a seven inch screen late one night in bed… in Mexico, I knew I had to watch it again. On a 32″ screen I was able to appreciate more details of this oft maligned, sprawling film. Upon a third viewing, I still love it. It’s flawed… hundreds of negative reviews hit that, but at the expense of missing its poignancy and beauty. It’s a film in the truest sense of the word. If you think you “got it” from one viewing, you’re wrong. If you similarly dismissed it, your loss.

Do you watch “The Wire”? Avon Barksdale… he plays a supporting role in Southland Tales. Nutty. That’s just one of the interesting talent choices made by the casting department. The cast is ripe with seasoned comedic actors in non-comedic roles. They all do a great job. But this isn’t a movie review. I just  wanted to tell you to see it if you’re into disutopian science fiction and aren’t afraid of a complex story.

CF Bulbs

The real reason for this post is to expose the farce of compact fluorescent light bulbs. This one’s a little too long term for the Mythbusters so I’ll have to fill in. I’ve been using CF bulbs for years. Every light in my house that can be CF is a CF. They’re supposed to last several years, but they never do. I’ve bought half a dozen different brands, from GE to brands you’ve never heard of. They all fail. It doesn’t matter if they’re open to the air or enclosed in a fixture. Inside or outdoors. CF bulbs die after about a year or so of infrequent use.

Usually, their death is a stinky, caustic affair. The electronic balast dies a toxic premature death. The forensic evidence (apart from the odor) is melted plastic where the CF tube meets the bulb base.

So I pay anywhere from two to ten times as much for a bulb that usually supplies inferior light and lasts just as long as an incandescent bulb. What’s worse, CF bulbs use far more poluting chemicals. All this to save about 80% on my electric bill. Well, I did the math. It doesn’t save me anything. My wallet is lighter and the environment isn’t any safer. In fact, my big ugly environmental footprint is even bigger with CF bulbs.

Unless the batch of CF bulbs I bought today actually lasts more than two ‘years, I’m done with them. Fool me for ten years, shame on you. Fool me for a dozen…

To be fair, my home voltage is  about 125 volts. As high as that is, it’s not abnormal. If that’s why CF bulbs fail, (and I’ll look into it,) then at least I know. I just wish they’d say as much on the packaging next to the warning label saying, “warning: use of this product might cause a loss of darkness.” Don’t laugh. We’re only one lawsuit away from that waste of ink.

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