Sunday, March 13, 2011

Time Travel for Poor People

Today marks the first day of Daylight Savings Time, the happiest half of the year. As I didn't know very much about Daylight Savings Time other than that I think it's awesome, I took it upon myself to fall into the Wikipedia trap and learn a little something.

First of all, the real name of it is Daylight Saving Time. Because the inventors were not hicks who add a superfluous "s" to everything. Anyways, moving on.

George Vernon Hudson
DST's original proponent was an amateur entomologist named George Vernon Hudson, who hailed from New Zealand, one of the upside-down lands. Hudson realized that shifting the clock one hour forward would give him more time to collect bugs, and also to maintain the complex series of straps and pulleys that all denizens of the upside-down lands must use in order to keep them tied to the Earth's surface. The idea was then stolen by Englishman William Willett, who allowed it to take over his entire life. Like an old man incensed by a proposed skate park, he wrote letters to the paper promoting "British Summer-Tyme," published proto-zines on the topic, and wore a large clock around his neck set an hour early, always proclaiming "yeaaaahhh, chaaap!" He did not live to see his dream become reality, dying of influenza because he pawned his coat to buy a thousand "Spring Forward!" promotional 1" pins for members of Parliament.

Many people think that DST is an energy saver, which is one of the reasons it's practiced so widely. But in fact, there is almost no real energy savings, and some energy losses, since people tend to drive more when the sun is out. Seasonal depression is lessened, but skin cancer rates rise. Retailers like DST because people spend more, but it is hated by bars and farmers, the former because people don't like sitting in dank bars spending money when the sun is out, the latter because corn knows that it's really an hour later and stubbornly slows its growth in protest. DST has been shown to reduce crime. Even murderers would rather enjoy the sun's rays than sit in some dark basement going all Dexter on someone. Basically, the statistics are mixed and can be skewed either way depending on your objective, like all statistics.

As a fan of daylight who can't easily get up before nine a.m. without assistance, I love DST. Yeah, I'm pretty jet-lagged for a week after it goes into effect (though it's worse in the fall), but it's a small price to pay for being able to romp outside for an extra hour longer for the next six (and now eight, thanks, Obama!) months. If it were up to me, we would have year-round DST, at least until the funding comes through to build a giant replica of the sun to shine 24/7/365, angering farmers everywhere.

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