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Daylight saving? Bah, humbug!

2005.04.03 — Business | Satire | by BB Rodriguez

Time

That which keeps on slippin' into the future. [source]

Today is Vernal Daylight Saving Time Day, that day that most of the country—much of the world, in fact—pretends to be accomplishing something by moving its clocks forward one hour. What is the point of this? Why not just get up an hour earlier if it matters to your job?

Here's the basic problem: the only reason for daylight saving time is to save energy.* Businesses use somewhat more energy when it is dark, of course. There are much better ways to save energy that don't screw up everyone's sleep patterns.

* I know there are arguments that DST saves lives (because people drive in the dark less) and lowers crime (because people are home before dark more). It's all crap. If these things outweighed our desire to enjoy the nighttime, we would do them without government intervention. The real reason some people like it is because they are Puritanical busybody morning people who think that sleeping past dawn is a sin.

More important, we didn't get where we are by accident. There is a reason office work starts at 8 or 9 AM instead of 6 or 7 AM, like factory work. Duh. It's personal choice. People like the nighttime as much as they they like the daytime. Offices don't benefit much from daylight. As we speak I sit in an office, well away from the nearest windows, which are, by the way, covered with nearly-closed mini-blinds, a very common situation in my experience. Why should the government stick its nose into the matter?

Daylight saving time was invented by... the same people who invented world war.

Daylight saving time was invented by the early-20th-century German government, the same people who invented world war. Kaiser Wilhelm's lackeys decided that a great way to save energy in the summer months was to get up an hour earlier, thereby not missing as much of that precious early-morning sunlight and saving on electricity for an extra hour in the evening. Great—but in good German fashion they decided to implement this stroke of genius across the board, thruout the country, regardless of need and without voluntary participation, by mandating a change of time on all clocks.

For only half the year.

Daylight saving time was invented by... the same people who invented world war.

Why only half the year? Why not just make it permanent and have the extra hour all year? Well, it wouldn't actually matter in the winter, since you get up in the dark and go to bed in the dark, but at least the extra hour of darkness would be moved to morning instead of evening. Then the sun would set in the winter around 6 o'clock instead of 5 o'clock. Isn't that better? Everybody's awake at 5 or 6, while a portion of the population sleeps thru the early morning, especially on the weekends.

Congress is considering extending DST! However, this will not solve the problem.

In America, the Uniform Time Act implemented daylight saving time across the country, except where states exempt themselves. This is admirable, because local time and daylight saving time observances (and when it started and ended) were pretty haphazard in 1966. Now it's "spring forward" the first Sunday in April; "fall back" the last Sunday in October for all of us— well, not all of us....

I live in Indiana, where we have steadfastly resisted the fool's gold of daylight saving time (along with Arizona and Hawaii), but where the matter comes up in the state legislature every freakin' year. My answer is always the same: why should we change to get into lockstep with the east coast year-round? What does it matter that we match New York for half the year and Chicago the other half? Big deal. If we have a problem with time, let's all agree to dump daylight saving time altogether as an antiquated half-measure. Besides, conference call invitations and television schedules have to specify the time zone anyway.

I discovered, one cold October morn, that I owned thirteen freaking clocks.

I never really thought that much about daylight saving time until I moved to a state where it was observed. That was when I discovered, one cold October morn, that I owned thirteen freaking clocks. I had watches, wall clocks, clock-radios, clocks in my computers, my car, and my kitchen appliances, even in stupid little electronic devices I hardly used but which were worthless without the correct time.... They were everywhere! And did any of them account for daylight saving time? Like a great, ironic slap in the face, I realized that only Microsoft Windows did.

Thus began my eternal burning hatred of digital clocks.

Thus began my eternal burning hatred of digital clocks.

I had always prided myself on being able to set the clocks on my VCR and other electronics. No wonder other people let their VCRs flash 12:00 forever, I suddenly realized. They didn't want to have to reset the damned things twice a year (along with every time the power went out).

Digital clocks are the most wretched and accursed invention in the history of mankind, and that includes nuclear weapons and Circus Peanuts.

Digital clocks are the most wretched and accursed invention in the history of mankind, and that includes nuclear weapons and Circus Peanuts. First, they're all maddeningly different, requiring you to learn how each one operates from scratch. And second, they're all maddeningly the same, in that they all suck at exactly how the operate.

I won't go into details. I'm saving it for a book. Or, perhaps, a feature-length film.

Let me just leave it by officially proposing any of the following genuine solutions to the failed experiment of daylight saving time:

  1. We dump daylight saving time altogether as a nation and encourage others to do so, with foreign aid incentives if necessary.

    We dump daylight saving time altogether as a nation and encourage others to do so, with foreign aid incentives if necessary.
  2. We move our clocks an hour forward permanently and forget about ever changing them again.
  3. We keep daylight saving time but criminalize the manufacture, distribution, and sale of digital clocks that don't automatically account for it or that are badly designed in general, using the same sentencing guidelines as those used for powdered cocaine.

I want to make it clear that I don't advocate option 3 unless we can't agree to option 1 or option 2. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind criminalizing badly designed digital clocks regardless. Engineers the world over have had it coming to them a long time.

Update

Now I have discovered an insidious evil related to digital clocks that affects only those of us who live in places that don't observe DST. Certain digital video recorders don't recognize that DST is optional and continue to record television shows at the same time even tho, for us, the television schedule shifts one hour every six months. The system's clock is set automatically from the service provider, so I can't just change it. No, every timer has to be reprogrammed individually.

  • It's not handled automatically.
  • There is no simple "shift all timers forward/back one hour" feature.
  • Even changing the time on an individual timer is so difficult that it's easier to delete them all, find the programs in the schedule, and recreate them!

 

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