Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Raise your hands if you love Daylight Savings Time! Anybody? Anyone at all? It’s no wonder. Every year (although it’s been unusually quiet this year) there are people who want to end DST once and for all. It’s been the butt of jokes, and the focus of studies that have proven, time and again, that it’s horrible for us mentally, physiologically, as well as negatively affecting our driving. It’s literally worse than my love life. And that’s pretty bad.
As I understand it, DST was the brainchild of Benjamin Franklin. Yes, the same Benjamin Franklin that organized the world’s first fire brigade, invented flexible electricity insulation (leading to the invention of the lightening rod), and inventor of a fireplace insert to collect heat that would have otherwise gone straight up the chimney. But let’s be real here. It’s also the same man who suggested the symbol for America be the turkey instead of the bald eagle. Yes, the beast so dumb that it will drown three feet from shelter when it’s raining if not guided indoors. The Land of the Turkeys. Maybe he was drunk when he suggested the turkey and DST. I honestly can’t imagine any sober man saying, hey, let’s screw around with time and eat a bald eagle.
The idea of DST is we move the clocks forward (as we did a little over a week ago) in the spring because the sun comes up earlier. That way, kids are still safer going to school because it’ll still be light, but they’ll enjoy an extra hour of light after school. Then, in the fall as the sun comes up later, we go back to normal time, so they are still going to school in the light. This will also let farmers start earlier and work later because for some reason they couldn’t just set their alarms earlier. I never understood that one. And there’s a bit about the environment where people will have to use their air conditioning less as it’ll be cooler when they get up, but the reality is that most people don’t really pay much attention to that.
The reality is that shifting our circadian rhythm twice a year is extremely bad for our bodies and minds. It’s like giving ourselves jet lag twice a year even though we work so hard we cannot afford to go anywhere. It makes it harder to focus (especially in the spring) giving rise to more car accidents, and no energy is saved. It’s just bad.
We really have a few options. We can change DST, which is just dumb. The last person to “modify” DST was George W Bush who increased DST by four weeks, so it now starts in March whereas previously it started in April. This from the same president that tanked the global economy and invaded Afghanistan. Good job, junior.
Another option is just to get rid of it. Just stop moving our clocks ahead in the spring. Anybody who still wants to get up earlier could still do so by setting their alarm ahead. Then they can enjoy the morning sun, give themselves a nice leisurely morning before having to head into work and not bother the rest of us who only want some damned sleep. Wouldn’t that be great?
But no. As of the writing of this blog (about a week ago by the time it posts), the Senate has passed a bill to make DST permanent. That’s right, we would never turn the clocks back. What’s more, the vote was unanimous.
Now, let’s think this out. By making DST permanent, in the winter, our kids will be going to school in what will feel to them to be the dead of night. Pitch black dark. Great idea. What’s more, the global time zones will be off by an hour. The beautiful logic of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) will be thrown off by the chaotic colonies, the same country that feels the need to split the Asian Continent, so the Americas are in the middle of the world map. Oh, good, what a great choice. Good luck, teachers, explaining to school children why there is suddenly a two hour jump in the time zones, and one that’s twice as wide as all of the others. I guess time zones has just leaped out of elementary school and into a calculus topic.
Alright, alright, alright FINE. I’ll admit that making DST permanent is at least better than continuing the charade. Since it’s Congress, I guess we can’t really expect the brain trust to do the best thing. We’re lucky they’re doing anything at all. You know, a “congress” is, by definition, a gathering specifically for the purpose of sex. I guess that’s why every time Congress acts we’re all screwed.