04 November 2007


Well, it's that time of year again. And since I have a blog this year, I get to share with you, the innocent reader, my loathing of the biannual tradition that is Daylight Savings Time (DST). There are so many things to despise here, I hardly know where to begin my rant.

Should I start by pointing out that a great number of people in the U.S. believe that we are actually "saving" daylight, thus magically increasing or decreasing the amount of daylight simply by adjusting our clocks? Ah, the power of the clock dial. If we truly had this much power with our clocks, none of us would ever be late to work again: "What? I'm not late; I set my clock back 10 minutes, so I'm actually early. Didn't you get my e-mail? I sent it to you later this afternoon."

Or perhaps I should start by pointing out that hardly a soul knows the exact origin of DST. Everyone from Ben Franklin (wrong) to farmers (wrong) to retailers (wrong) and so on has been attributed with giving us the "gift" of DST. (For the truth, see the Wiki entry on DST, or Michael Downing's book.)

There is no evidence that suggests DST is good for anything. It certainly has been proven to be bad for certain things, like international travel. It is unnatural. It has been blamed for an increase in traffic accidents. Computers, or, more likely, the humans programming them, are notoriously bad at keeping track of it. Case in point: Watching game 4 of World Series last weekend, I noticed that the scoreboard clock at Coors Field had already "fallen back."

Of course, studying its benefits is even more ridiculous than the concept itself. We're like a bunch of lab rats. Make the humans go from 24 to 23 hours every Spring and measure the effects. Gosh, it could lead to more traffic deaths. Let's do it anyway.

For a good portion of my life, I studied and worked in Indiana. Indiana used to be one of three states that did not observe DST, which suited me just fine, as you might imagine. I used to get a chuckle from out-of-state people who made a big deal about not understanding what time it was in Indiana. Like we were the backwards ones because we didn't observe the protocols for clock-changing that had been mandated by the government for reasons no one truly understands. But, alas, Indiana managed to take a big step backwards a couple years ago when, instead of leading the charge to abolish the practice of DST in the other 47 states, they conformed, jumped on the bandwagon, and joined the eastern time zone for good. Makes me sad, but I can't complain because I don't live there anymore.

I could go on about this for quite some time as I have given it entirely too much thought. (But, what the heck? I've got an "extra" hour today, right?) What it all comes down to for me is the measuring stick I often use when trying to ascertain the relative idiocy of a certain action. I call it, "What Would a Visiting Interstellar Traveler Say?"

Interstellar Traveler: What are you doing?
Savant: Setting the clocks in my house back one hour.
IST: Why?
Savant: Because it's Daylight Savings Time.
IST: That is silly. You cannot save daylight.
Savant: We do it twice a year.
IST: That is ridiculous.
Savant: So's electing anyone named Bush or Clinton to the White House, but we
keep doing that, too.
IST: That explains a little, but not enough. Humans are not intelligent. We will now annihilate the Earth.
Savant: Cool. Hey, nice tentacles, by the way. Would you mind getting that clock
in the den for me?

We don't need DST. If we want "more" daylight, we need to get out of bed earlier. Newsflash: Time is arbitrary. If the perceived amount of daylight (i.e., how much we see because we're awake) is really that important to us, I propose we split the difference between winter and summer, adjust the clocks ahead a half hour come next spring, abolish DST once and for all, and never have to deal with this clock-changing business ever again. (If I just lost you, then there should be a new law that takes away your legal right to own a clock.)

Of course, we do need something to remind us to change the batteries in our smoke detectors. After all, what better way to remind someone to change the battery in something that could save their life than to have them fiddle with all the clocks before they go to bed?

Resistance is futile.


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