The abomination that is Daylight Savings Time

The way we'd determine the time in a perfect world.

The way we’d determine the time in a perfect world.

I can’t let this week go by without mentioning the abomination which has yet again been visited upon us:

This morning I had to get up even earlier, which means it was even blacker outside. I actually seriously considered skipping my morning workout, which would have meant the rest of the day would be a mad scramble to try to get in my 10,000-15,000 steps. I hate starting the day behind.

And it’s all so unnecessary, as well as unnatural.

I hate, positively hate, going through the whole day with all timekeeping devices telling me it’s an hour later than it really is, and everybody expecting me to go by that lie.

Oh, and for those of you who think the hours of the day are an artificial construct anyway — you’re right up to a point, but one thing about the concept is (or used to be) grounded in the natural, physical world: Noon should be the midpoint of the day, the moment when the sun is at its zenith.

Here’s the way things should be: The person in charge at the U.S. Naval Observatory should step out onto a terrace — preferably one made to look like a quarterdeck in the Age of Sail — with a group of midshipmen. They should all shoot the sun with their sextants, and tell the boss when the sun is at its peak. He (or she) will then say, “Make it noon,” and someone will press a button that instantly resets every mobile phone, tablet, laptop or other device that keeps time and is synced to official time in the country.

We would then live in a saner, more grounded world. And I would cherish that.

That’s my dream, anyway.

Somewhat closer to the real world, there are reform moves afoot in the Legislature. When I first read of his proposal to do away with this annual change, I resolved to write a post saying, “Harvey Peeler is my hero!” But then I saw that as far as Harvey is concerned, we could have DST all year — it’s just the changing that bothers him.

That, of course, would be worse than what we have now — there would be no normal, sane months under that scheme. How the senator can equate the two is beyond me…

20 thoughts on “The abomination that is Daylight Savings Time

  1. Bart

    One of the problems is that not all states observe DST. Florida is considering legislation to keep the state on DST year round. That is all we need. Recall when flying to Puerto Rico during DST and PR not being on it. Really messed with my time for a couple of days. Almost missed a flight the first time there. Didn’t set my watch back and thought I had enough time to catch my flight.

    I agree with Holly’s description!

  2. Norm Ivey

    Lighten up, Francis. 😉

    My work day has started at about 6:30 for the last 28 years. I much prefer going to work in the dark. There’s absolutely nothing useful I can do before work, so why do I need daylight? I’d much rather have it in the evening when I can enjoy it.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I enjoy the evening after the sun goes down. That’s the time for reading, maybe watching a movie, or adding to my family tree (up to 6,180 people and counting).

      The evening, the relaxing time that I enjoy, doesn’t start until the sun’s gone. I hate going to bed so soon after that happens. Hate it.

      You know why? Because I hate being rushed. I hate it in the morning, and all through the day. I’ve hated it my whole life — something that was probably made worse by all those years of deadline tyranny.

      I should at least be free of it in the evening. When the sun goes down, I want to look at a clock and see I have plenty of evening left…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I might be like you, Norm, if afternoon newspapers hadn’t died. When I was right out of college, I went to work on the copy desk at a p.m. paper. Before long, I was pulling duty as the slot man (which meant being THE guy in charge of the production process) most days, which meant starting work at 5:30 a.m. (The first edition had to be gone to press right after 11, so papers would be in downtown boxes by the time people went to lunch.)

        But as I recall, what with getting off in the middle of the afternoon, I had plenty of day left WITHOUT DST. But I was too tired to enjoy it much. Working on a p.m. is a mad, concentrated rush…

      2. Bryan Caskey

        Those of us who like to toss the baseball around with our kids after getting home from work appreciate the extra sunlight. Baseball is not to be played under artificial lights, if possible.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              Or if you prefer another classical reference, from Field of Dreams:

              Shoeless Joe: What’s with the lights?
              Ray: Oh, all the stadiums have them now. Even Wrigley Field.
              Shoeless Joe: Makes it harder to see the ball.
              Ray: Yeah, well, the owners found that more people can attend night games.
              Shoeless Joe: [Shakes his head] Owners.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          See, that’s why mine is a lonely quest.

          People get shamed into supporting this abomination.

          It’s always, “Oh, you don’t like playing catch with your kids?”

          Or, “Oh, you don’t like mowing the lawn, or doing any of that other stuff your wife keeps trying to get you to do?”

          For the record, I love playing catch with kids and grandkids, although I don’t need time for a double-header in order to do that to my and the child’s satisfaction.

          And I refuse to answer the second question, in light of the 5th Amendment…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I’m a newspaperman. I don’t do it often, but it can be done, providing you’ve got the right stuff. :)

                  Early in my career, in 1978, I was at the Democrats’ rare mid-term convention in Memphis. It wasn’t producing a lot of news (which may be why I don’t hear of either party having mid-term conventions any more), and I was relaxing at mid-day with a couple of colleagues, including Les Seago of the AP. Les was a salty old newsman, and I didn’t want to be a wimp in front of him, so I kept up with him while he had a couple of brews.

                  As I started my second, I said I hoped no actual news happened, which caused Les to pronounce, “If you can’t write the best story of your life after a few beers, you’re not a real newspaperman!”

                  As it happened, right after that I dropped by a workshop on healthcare. The panel, by the way, had some baby-faced guy named Bill Clinton on it. After Ted Kennedy got up and gave a rip-snorter of a speech on the subject, I decided to file a story on it.

                  My paper led the front page with it, which in those days was a rare distinction for me. So I felt quite proud, having proved I was a real newspaperman by the Seago standard.

                  By the way, that turned out to be the pivotal moment of the convention. That was when Kennedy started his insurrection against Carter, which eventually led to the famous Carter quote, “I’ll whip his ass!

              1. Bryan Caskey

                Nice. I would have gotten your quote reference. I would think that advertising people would be up on movie quotes.

                Twisted Spur is cool. My law office had a party there back during the holidays.

  3. Burl Burlingame

    I believe I say this every year. Scrap all time zones completely. Put the whole world on Zulu or GMT and a 24-hour clock. “Noon” is the time the sun is at its zenith, a flexible time like “sunset” or “sunrise.”

  4. Mark Stewart

    I think you should just feel blessed you don’t live in the northern half of the Northern Hemisphere. SC gets far more sunlight through the winter months and, clearly, dusk at 10 pm in June would really set you back on your heels.

    I say DST all year round. We don’t use sextants and we don’t have noon whistles or bells anymore. But we do live in a global, interlocked world – just not one that needs to be artificially bound to England’s GMT. In fact, with smart phones now we could, other than broadcast network live TV, even further divide America’s four primary time zones. As it is now the likelihood that noon is locally true as noon is pretty small all year round. Anywhere you are in the world.


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