Each December as nights grow long, people of the Jewish faith celebrate an ancient miracle of efficiency. In our oil-soaked, electrified age it is difficult to understand what it meant for the Maccabees to enjoy eight days of light from one day’s supply of oil.
After an early Persian usage of kerosene lighting, people relied on vegetable and animal fats for indoor lighting. For several hundred years whale oil was the best indoor lighting fuel, but when the world neared "peak whale oil," whalers who'd previously prospered in local waters now toiled dangerous waters of the high arctic and southern ocean. Moby Dick's narrator warns:
“For God’s sake, be economical with your lamps and candles. Not a gallon you burn, but at least one drop of man’s blood was spilled for it.”
We've finally come to a time when each of those eye-watering blue LED "holiday lights" can distract Christians from the context of Christmas for six months on the equivalent of one day's supply of menorah oil. Here is the history of this... uh... progress in efficient lighting.
"There are some good people in it, but the orchestra as a whole is equivalent to a gang bent on destruction." -- John Cage, composer