Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Daylight Saving Time

This morning, my circadian rhythms awoke me to pitch black.  A few days ago there would have been the early strands of daylight, but thanks to the government, this is no longer true.  As of Sunday we have daylight saving time (DST) again.  Even an owl knows when to get up and go to bed with nature.

Birds, mammals, insects and even some flowers operate on the concept that when the sun comes up it is time to get up.  That is unless you are a nocturnal creature like an owl which decides it is time to go to bed.  Unfortunately we humans have "advanced" to a higher state where we wake up to clocks and run on time unrelated to the sun.  The tyrannical invention of the alarm clock was bad enough, but daylight saving time complicates this further by playing tag with the sun twice a year.

By now, most of us have learned that satire and humor in writing needs to be identified or someone is likely to take it seriously - for instance, the federal government.  It turns out that is how Benjamin Franklin got the blame for daylight saving time.  He was joking!

"Can't you take a joke?"
As described at, Franklin was 78 and cooped up in his room in Paris when he was awakened by noise at 6AM.  He started thinking, a chronic condition for Franklin, and ended up writing a humorous letter to friends, one of whom was the editor of the Journal de Paris.  They published it without a smiley face and the rest is history.

Franklin calculated the amount of money that could be saved by getting up at daylight and going to bed at dark.  He even suggested punishments and taxes for those using too many candles or going out late.  Even today, news articles give his tongue-in-cheek suggestion serious credit for the idea.

Originally designed to save Americans cost of electricity, DST has ended up costing us big time.  A recent news report suggests that the US lost $433,982,548 because of switching to daylight saving time on Sunday.  I suggest that we get back to nature and just get up when the sun comes up.

An interesting discussion on how computers and modern technology has replaced natural time cycles is at  To quote a bit of it:

"While our technologies may be evolving as fast as we can imagine new ones, we humans and our culture evolved over millennia and are slower to adapt. The body is based on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different clocks, syncing to everything from the sun and moon to levels of violence and available water. We can't simply declare noon to be midnight and expect our body to conform to the new scheme as if it were a Google Calendar resetting to a new time zone. Neither can we force our businesses to conform to an always-on ethos when the people we work with and for are still obeying a more deeply embedded temporal scheme." 

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