Semi-annual madness

Are you finding that your PC, or some other electronic device in your home, is behind by one hour today? If so, thank the U.S. government’s Energy Policy Act of 2005 which helpfully changed the dates which have traditionally marked the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time. Instead of “falling back” last night on the last Sunday in October as they have done for years, the date was pushed up a week to next Sunday, November 4th. However many electronic devices, oblivious to the pronouncements of politicians, dutifully made the change last night anyway as they had been pre-programmed to do.

If you’re running a computer with Windows XP which does not have Service Pack 2 installed (or certain other operating systems for PC and Mac), you can apply the patch found here to fix the dates.

You may know that the idea of saving daylight first sprang from the nimble mind of Benjamin Franklin some 200 years ago when he suggested that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to take advantage of the morning sunlight. Then in 1905, the prominent British outdoorsman William Willett was said to have had “an epiphany” while on an early-morning horseback ride, and proposed the idea of changing the clocks twice a year. The practice was first adopted in wartime Germany in 1916 to keep energy costs low, but has been controversial ever since, with a long history of unintended consequences. When the government tinkered with the dates in 2005 things only became more confusing, and there is little evidence that there has been any significant energy savings which the Policy Act was designed to achieve. Proponents of DST claim it reduces energy use by 1 percent every day it’s in effect, while skeptics contend this is not true and say the extra sunlight spurs more errands and trips to visit friends and family.

I personally think the whole idea is absurd; the hassles far outweigh any benefits, and I propose that DST should be renamed “Daylight Stupid Time”. Maybe I’ll move to Arizona.

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