Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daylight Shifting Time

Have you ever wondered what we're supposed to be "saving" during the annual, Springtime assault on our chronometers? My skepticism about DST has its roots in my Hoosier heritage. The State of Indiana resisted the imposition of the time change for generations, in part because it confused the livestock. I'm surprised PETA hasn't taken up the banner. Indiana has since given in, joining the Eastern Time Zone, confirming all Sally's suspicions as to my origins.

Daylight Saving Time (not, "Savings" by the way) first came onto the scene in New Zealand in 1895, when an entomologist named George Vernon Hudson wrote a paper proposing the change so he'd have more hours of sunlight to collect bugs on summer afternoons after he got home from his day job. The idea didn't take hold in the northern hemisphere at that time, probably because Hudson proposed that the change take effect at the beginning of summer in New Zealand, in October, which though true, mightily confused the livestock in Indiana.

Englishman William Willett independently took up the cause in 1905 when on a morning horseback ride he noticed that many Londoners slept throughout a significant portion of the summer daylight hours. He probably had just left home after yelling at his lazy kids to get out of bed, and noticed that everyone else, save himself, was still abed as well. I imagine Willett riding about on his horse like a latter day Paul Revere, yelling "Daylight's a-Wastin'!" This cry was later taken up by my father-in-law, but that's a story for another day.

Like the "Clear Skies Initiative", "Healthy Forests Initiative", and "No Child Left Behind Act" of the Bush administration, the phrase "Daylight Saving Time" is an intentionally deceptive misnomer. We aren't saving anything. The real basis for DST is shifting the hours of daylight, so that there are less morning hours for our children to sleep away after a difficult night watching anime on-line, and more hours of afternoon and evening daylight for adult pursuits such as golf (William Willett's favorite diversion), or bug collecting.

So be sure and move the hands of the clock forward at or around 2:00 a.m. overnight. That is, if you can find any clocks that have hands. And then tell the kids to turn off the TV, computer, video game console, Wii, and lights in the den, and get to bed for goodness sake! These actions will actually save energy, in contrast to all studies of the results of DST. Tell the kids to get to bed, but don't yell. We don't want to disturb the livestock.

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