Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daylight Saving(s) Time

'Tis that time of year again, dear readers.  Not since the passage of the Warm America's Feet Act of 1897* have we had such a wonderful opportunity to spend so much time and money doing something so very stupid and pointless.

Yes, it's Daylight Saving Time***, and it makes me proud**** to be an American.

Sure, other countries have noticed that it doesn't matter what number we assign to a given hour of the day, and that the rotation of the Earth does not, in fact, respond to legislation, but here in America we don't let little things like facts and knowledge get in the way of utter raving lunacy.

Let's start with the name.  "Daylight Saving Time" suggests that time is like a commodity; that you can stuff an hour or two of pure, unadulterated Time under your mattress every month, and then take it all out and use it later to spend 34 hours working on that blog post about Daylight Saving Time you want to put up before tomorrow.  Unfortunately, time doesn't actually work like that.*****  When you get up an hour earlier, it just means that you're sleeping an hour less.  It definitively does not mean that you're somehow magically manufacturing a new hour out of pixie dust and sunbeams.

Sure, there have long been claims that there are substantial energy savings due to pretending that screwing with our circadian rhythms twice a year is a good thing.  These claims are precisely as reliable as the claim that wearing a five-gallon paint bucket on your head will allow you to safely cross the Santa Monica Freeway on a tricycle.******  Seriously, it's been studied, and no, the energy savings don't actually exist.  However, it is nice to send the kids off to school in the dark, isn't it?

So why is it that we bother with DST every year?  The answer is simple: sporting goods manufacturers.  It's known that when there are "more" daylight hours, Americans tend to buy more golf clubs, soccer shoes, and whatever those baskety things people use to play jai alai are called.  So it only makes sense that the people who manufacture and sell that stuff were tirelessly working behind the scenes to get Congress to impose it on us almost 100 years ago, and continue to lobby even today to keep us from noticing that it's the kind of thing that we would find hilariously stupid... if it were other countries doing it instead of us.

It's not that implausible... if we've learned anything as a nation over the last few years, it's that Congress will pass absolutely anything into law, no matter how daft or unpopular, if it means somebody writes them a check.

Yeah, okay.  You're probably thinking this isn't a very good conspiracy theory.  Where's the Illuminati connection?  How do Elvis sightings figure into this?  Well, sure, you have a point there; this theory manages to be both highly improbable and kind of dull.  In fact, the only saving grace of this particular conspiracy theory is that it happens to be absolutely true.  Here's a quote for you, straight from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association's own website:
The sporting goods industry was behind the initial daylight savings movement back in 1918 as a way to encourage participation in outdoor activities and enhance consumer spending on sports equipment. The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association applauds Congressional efforts to extend daylight savings further, believing that in addition to preserving energy resources, it will also encourage activity, increase fitness levels, promote active lifestyles and result in additional consumption of sporting goods.
See?  See?  And maybe now when I explain how the Freemasons are responsible for the recent dearth of Loch Ness Monster sightings, you all won't laugh at me any more.

So why do we let the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association screw with our sleep patterns twice a year?  I mean, we don't keep calling up Tom Cove (the president of the SGMA) at two in the morning to stop him getting a good night's sleep...

... hmmm.

* The Warm America's Feet Act mandated the removal of the top two feet of every "Blanket, Quilt, Comforter, Duvet, or other Sleeping Cloth", in order to lengthen said blanket by sewing the newly cut-off portion to its bottom.  This was obviously a huge success, and made everyone** very happy.

** Specifically the sewing needle manufacturers, who were so very concerned about Americans suffering from too-short blankets that they spent a great deal of money lobbying for the bill's passage.  (This is what they call "foreshadowing", by the way.)

*** It's officially called "Daylight Saving Time" but I defy you to go out on the street and find someone who doesn't call it "Daylight Savings Time".  If you do find such a person, marry him.  Or stab him, depending on your feelings about over-precise pedantry.

**** Smell that in the air?  That's the heady aroma of sarcasm!

***** Except in Greenland and Nova Scotia, oddly.

****** Really, though, which one is more plausible?  I know I'd hit the brakes if I saw a bucket-headed tricycle rider entering my lane.  Getting me to save energy by waking me up before dawn, on the other hand? I'll run the blender and the microwave 24/7, just to spite anyone who wants to force me to get up an hour earlier.


  1. DST is like ski boots. They feel great when you take them off.

  2. Sorry, TAF, I like DST.

    Yeah, the changeover is a bitch, but it gives me an extra hour of daylight after work and an extra hour before Sol sticks his pointy rays of sunshine through the window of my east-facing bedroom in the morning.

  3. testing comments here.

    i don't mind dst myself.

  4. I'm with you on this, ATF. DST bites. But I love when DST ends -- if only we could just have the ending every six months, without ever having the beginning ...
    Yes. I know there's a fatal flaw in there somewhere. But I'm so sleep deprived from DST starting that I can't find it.