Sunday, October 26, 2008

Daylight Saving Time: A Modest Proposal

This post is mostly for Americans, who have a Congress to tell them how to set their clocks.

Remember the old-fashioned Daylight Saving Time?

Remember when Congress decided to improve it, back in August of 2005?

First, Some Links

Daylight Saving Time's Undervalued Bonus

It's that time of year again. For the benefit of those who can't afford airline tickets, Congress has provided America with Daylight Saving Time: thus bringing jet lag to the masses, twice a year.

I've read that having our sleeping schedules yanked around twice a year saves energy. That could be.

Daylight Saving Time: It Could Be Worse

In March, 2007, I realized that America's national leaders had failed to grasp the full potential of legislated time changes. Daylight Saving Time could be only the start of a wonderfully intricate time table, if Congress had but the imagination.

Here's what I proposed, about a year and a half ago:

Inspired by the sort of thinking that gave us daylight saving time, and now new-and-improved DST, here are three more ways that changing the clock (and, while we're at it, the calendar) could change our quality of life.
  • Set clocks back 12 hours during August
    • Keeping people quiet during the day could save enormous amounts of energy that would otherwise be wasted on air conditioning in stores and offices
  • Set clocks back ten hours and forty minutes at noon on April 15
    • This 10:40 time shift would
      • Remind those who wait until the last minute to file tax returns of the date
      • Give them more than a full business-day's-worth of additional time to get their forms in
    • Ten hours and forty minutes is a large time shift, so clocks should be set forward one hour and twenty minutes at 2:00 a.m.
      • For eight days
        • April 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15
      • To minimize psychological stress
    • Although this stress-relieving measure might not save significant amounts of energy, the psychological effects could make a significant difference in quality of life
  • Finally, replace the evening of December 31 with Substance Abuse and Drug Interaction Study Time
    • Instead of over-indulging during New Year's Eve parties, citizens would be encouraged to learn about
      • Substance abuse
      • Dangers of mixing prescription drugs and alcohol
    • This should
      • Reduce deaths in drunk-driving accidents
      • Alleviate the need for expensive security measures in places like New York's Times Square
      • Promote sober, healthy lifestyles among the general public
Considering the sort of daft rules Congress could be foisting on us, maybe being jerked back and forth by an hour isn't so bad.

As we say in Minnesota, it could be worse.

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