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Sunday, March 09, 2008

TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME

I can’t believe we just did it again. It was stupid when we did it the first time and now that we’re doing it a month earlier than we used to it isn’t getting any smarter. I’m talking about the obsessive-compulsive bureaucrats who champion the so-called Daylight Saving Time – and there is no “s” at the end of “Saving” because it’s modifying time, not daylight – I told you these clock watchers were obsessive compulsives – but that dropped “s” should also give you a hint that this whole thing is one great fraud being perpetrated on each and every one of us and especially me. Today, on March 9th at 2am we were all supposed to spring our clocks forward one hour because we’re all supposed to be happier getting up in the dark again. Do you feel happier being robbed of an hour of sleep? I sure don’t. Do you feel like springing anywhere anytime soon? I sure don’t. And the fact that the theft has occurred on a Sunday is, on this wintery March morning, damn cold comfort!
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Experts assure me we’re going to save 10,000 barrels of oil a day, reduce crime and spend more time out of doors with our families in the evenings. Of course your computer, your blackberry, your smart cell, PDA and/or pager will probably start displaying some rare Lapland dialect after you try to instruct it that it is now operating in a time zone somewhere east of Labrador…but why are we doing this again?! Every half baked scheme now claims to save energy: electric cars, smaller toilets, Susan B. Anthony dollars and tiny little airline seats. Anytime some political hack wants to sell the public on paying more for getting less they call it energy conservation or energy saving or just “green”. But I wonder about all that extra oil we will burn every morning to light our darkened bedrooms, not to mention run our TVs, hair dryers, water heaters and all those headlights. We used to say that people who rose early got up with the cows. Well, the cows aren’t getting up any earlier. Why the hell are we?
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As everybody keeps pointing out, it was Ben Franklin who first purposed Daylight Saving in his essay “An Economical Project”, (but in French, of course) in which he suggested that if authorities were to “…Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, …it is probable he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening." It’s an interesting idea from the eighteenth century’s second most famous reprobate, just behind the Marque de Sade. Clearly Ben was just joking but evidently Congressman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who wrote the amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that is changing our clocks now, missed the punch line. So the same Congress that wouldn’t raise the minimum wage for 10 years found the time to steal an hour of my sleep every March. In the next election I’m voting for Ben Franklin.
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All Ben was trying to do was save a little candle wax, about 64 million pounds annually in 1781 Paris, was Ben’s estimate. But I repeat, Ben was just kidding. Ben was a huge kidder. And, look how much candle wax we are saving by having invented electricity. Didn’t Ben see that one coming? And speaking of electricity, according to the New Jersey Public Service Enterprise Group, Daylight Saving has “no impact” on energy demands in their service area. And the government of Kazakhstan has already dropped the whole idea of “saving daylight”.
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Listen, according to the University of California Energy Institute daylight saving doesn’t actually save energy, it just moves it around. And a recent study of electric bills in Indiana found that the time shifters are actually costing each Hoosier almost $3.00 a year MORE, about $8.6 million a year in total, plus somewhere between $1.6 and $5.3 million in pollution costs for generating all that extra electricity. And if that is what it costs us Hoosiers, think what it costing the people who actually count in America; New Yorkers. A little more energy conservation such as this and we might as well just start burning oil.
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And another problem with this annual adjustment to our sense of reality is that our computers can’t adjust without being told to: stupid computers. .Unless you are willing to buy new software or are still paying for updates you will need a “patch”, which is computer speak for “please hand your credit card to Mr. Gates”. In programmer vernacular this is referred to as “a retirement package”. To quote from Ken Fisher’s article for ARS, on the subject; “So while the US government pats itself on the back for at least looking busy, know that the main goal – energy conservation – has not been met….Isn’t arbitrary, mostly meaningless change, great?” Hell, no, it isn’t.
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Still, I’m not objecting to getting up early. If we need more daylight then let’s move the clocks forward and be done with it. Listen, if the majority of the population decides that at noon tomorrow we should pretend that it is now 10:45am, I’d go along with that. But for heaven’s sake please stop moving the clocks back and forth as if we were keeping time with Mexican jumping beans. Why are we doing this to ourselves? Pick a damn time and leave it alone!
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1 comment:

  1. You failed to mention that any energy conservation attributed to DST was recently disproven by a study done by researchers at UC Santa Barbara of, coincidentally enough, the effect of changing the clock in Indiana. Similar results were obtained in research done not long ago on the effect of DST in Australia, and as far back as the early 1970s over the impact of a short-lived, year-long DST policy imposed by the Nixon Administration. I believe the same holds true for a study of DST back in the 1960s, after the Johnson White House reinstituted a yearly change in time.

    Beyond that, DST is idiotic to an even greater degree because of society's already hectic, schedule-packed pace. It makes little sense to force people to go to sleep one hour ealier than usual, to wake up one hour earlier than usual when, as things stand, they're not exactly leading a leisurely, indolent lifestyle. And then to foist upon them the domino effect that has on activities and events occuring between those two moments of each day.

    Therefore, people have one hour less to prepare for a meeting, one hour less to get to a job, one hour less to attend a luncheon, one hour less to finish a chore, one hour less to write a paper, etc, etc.

    I always sense -- and dislike the feeling that -- the clock is chasing me during the, originally, 6 months of DST (1966-1985), then the 7 months of DST (1986 to 2006), and now the absurd 8 months of DST (post-2007).

    So thanks to all the nitwits in the US Congress for meddling with our clocks and making a sleep-deprived, hectic nation even more sleep deprived and hectic!!!

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