It's bright (clear 40W bulb) and you wouldn't want to look directly at it, but I like the retro look to it. Of course, you can use any lightbulb in it and be greener using a CFL.
Step 1: Parts and Tools
The parts list is pretty short, and under $10 new. You can likely scrounge all of the parts.
1. Porcelain Lampholder - these are made to attach to a ceiling box, so you can't stand it directly on your desk.
2. Electrical cord - I bought a 6' extension cord and cut off the outlet end.
3. Inline rotary switch - this gets added to the extension cord.
4. Lightbulb - your choice.
5. 4" square of 3/4" wood (I used MDF, but anything will work).
6. Paint (for the wood base).
7. Feet for the base (I used vinyl bumpers that I had extra from another project).
8. A couple screws to attach the lampholder to the base.
3. Drill with 1/4" bit (or a size that the cord can fit through).
4. Router (or get creative with the drill).