Over at the Washington Monthly, Kevin Drum wonders, among other things, whether there are any brands of compact fluorescent light bulbs that work with dimmer switches.
Having recently replaced a dimmer switch after doing a little research on the internets (let's not talk about the part where I made all the lights in half the house suddenly turn off, resulting in a call to the electrician), I can confirm that the answer is that no fluorescent bulb will work with a dimmer. The way a dimmer switch works is by turning the light on and off very rapidly, hundreds of times a second. The on-off is invisible to the human eye, which just sees the smaller net amount of light coming through.
As everyone knows, fluorescent lights take a moment to turn on once the switch is pulled. Since a dimmer switch will be turning the light off hundreds of times a second, the light won't ever get that running start it needs to turn on.
Incidentally, this is also why a light on a dimmer often emits a slight buzzing sound. The rapid delivery and cutting off of the juice makes the filament in the incandescent bulb vibrate, which creates the buzzing.
Since I discovered how dimmer switches work, I've been dying to tell somebody and show how clever I am. Thanks for the opportunity!