A note on Daylight Saving Time

posted at 10:39 am on March 14, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

I remembered that it was Daylight Savings Time today … but our servers didn’t.  This happens twice a year, literally like clockwork.  Our technical staff will work on this, but for a good part of the day, our times will be an hour off.

Does DST serve any purpose these days?  Americans are more or less split on the question, with a plurality believing that the program isn’t worth the semiannual hassle it creates:

Daylight Saving Time begins early tomorrow morning, but, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, 47% of Americans don’t think the time change is worth the hassle. Forty percent (40%) disagree, and 13% more aren’t sure.

These figures are unchanged from our survey last October, when Daylight Saving Time for 2009 ended.

The internals on this Rasmussen poll are rather entertaining. That 40% in support is exactly the same among Republicans, Democrats, and independents. White voters and black voters are nearly identical in reaction, 42/45 and 41/43 respectively. We’ve achieved unity! The only age demo that shows support over opposition is the 50-64 age group at 47/46. Younger voters have the most forceful reaction, with approval only garnering 26% against 55% disapproval.

I’d say it’s an anachronistic attempt to manipulate time for an issue (darkness) that technological development has already defeated. Since it’s a big government program, instead of assessing it rationally, we just keep expanding it. However, I’m willing to stipulate that I may just be grouchy from having lost an hour of sleep, too.

Update: You learn something new every day. It’s Daylight Saving Time, not Savings, which a couple of commenters point out below. I’ve adjusted the headline accordingly.


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We didn’t observe it in Indiana until recently. People here STILL get very worked up over this!

I don’t care much one way or the other. Geographically, we should be on Central time anyway.

darwin-t on March 14, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Look at all the energy they’d save if they made the time change during rush hour.

Cybergeezer on March 14, 2010 at 3:27 PM

We need “normal” time during the winter so kids aren’t at the bus stop in the dark; but I love having time to enjoy the outdoors after work in the summer. So mark me down as a strong “FOR”.

RegularJoe on March 14, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Out here in the desert southwest, DST (where it’s observed; Arizona doesn’t) is unquestionably responsible for greater electricity use. People end up using their air conditioning more intensively later in the day, because the sun is up later as compared to the humans’ living clock.

If the sun went down earlier, the last couple of people’s typical waking hours would be cooler. But, especially in the “gut” of summer after the June solstice, and before mid-September, the afternoon heat lingers well after 8:00 PM. There’s a good 30-day period when it’s still light after 9:00 PM, if you’re on DST, and west-facing walls feel hot to the touch even at 10:00 or 10:30.

Back that up by an hour in the day and we’d save a LOT of electricity. Running the a/c with the thermostat set lower for an extra hour uses up considerably more of it than having lights turned on. People are going to do the latter anyway, since much of what we do inside requires as much artificial light in twilight as it does when it’s pitch-dark outside.

Have I mentioned I hate DST?

J.E. Dyer on March 14, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Congress changed the start and end dates for DST back in 2007. This cost businesses millions of dollars and resulted in a lot of long nights by programmers / system administrators watching over various production systems. If you have a time-sensitive device built before 2007 or an unpatched operating system, it’s time may be set wrong four times a year. Thanks a heap Congress.

ajackson on March 14, 2010 at 4:02 PM

I love living in AZ, where we don’t participate.

MNExpatriate on March 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM

J.E. Dyer on March 14, 2010 at 3:41 PM

So people don’t need AC when they’re asleep, but turn it on when they wake up?

disa on March 14, 2010 at 4:32 PM

I love living in AZ, where we don’t participate.

MNExpatriate on March 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Me, too, but that means we never know for sure what time it is at Mom’s place in FL or sister’s place in Oregon, because they change when we don’t.

jgapinoy on March 14, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Daylight Saving Time? Time to impeach bama!!!

jgdp on March 14, 2010 at 5:12 PM

DST… hate it… always have…

Khun Joe on March 14, 2010 at 5:24 PM

No DST in Hawaii but, now my phone starts ringing at 3 instead of 4.

TheSitRep on March 14, 2010 at 11:18 AM

I always loved the Hawaiian concept of time. Back when we lived there in the 1960s, the TV stations would sign on when they felt like it.

And who can argue with the Hawaiian-Kine Work Schedule?

8 AM……Supposed to start work

8:14……We come dragging in

9-10 AM……COFFEE BREAK

10:30-11 AM……We talk story

12 Noon……Kau Kau! Time for eat

1 to 3 PM……Rest up from lunch

3-4 PM……COFFEE BREAK

4-4:30 PM……”shoot da bull” on da phone

5 PM……PAU HANA! Time for quit work.

Works for me.

Del Dolemonte on March 14, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Hey, Ed, the newest WordPress should be automated in the Settings>General tab.

William Teach on March 14, 2010 at 6:01 PM

DST is stupid. It’s just like cutting the end off a piece of rope and tying it to the other end, just to get a longer piece of rope.

Thousands of people die every year because their inner clocks are out of sync with the new time, and the number of accidents rise drastically for a week or two.

But, as you said, it’s a government program and as we all know: “Government Uber Alles.”

rmgraha on March 14, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Here in New Hampshire on the top of Mt. Washington, the folks at the Mt. Washington Observatory use EST year-round. They call it “mountain time” as opposed to “valley time”. Apparently the logic is that they pretty much use Zulu Time for everything, primarily their weather instruments, so it’s the way to go.

Del Dolemonte on March 14, 2010 at 6:19 PM

I think Congress, at this point in time, is dumb enough to be convinced to make DST change during rush hour, since it would save an enormous amount of energy. But, make the change back in the wee hours, say about last call at the local bar.

Cybergeezer on March 14, 2010 at 6:28 PM

DST is an idea so stupid that it would take the government to come up with the idea. It served its purpose way back when but it’s a useless anachronism nowadays.

Mojave Mark on March 14, 2010 at 7:04 PM

DST is indeed useful, mostly because our society insists on not observing the natural rhythms of the day. We just refuse to treat the day symmetrically; if we heeded the rhythms of nature we’d be equally willing to be awake at 5 AM as at 7 PM. We’d be equally willing to entertain visitors at 6 AM as at 6 PM. The natural symmetry point of the day is noon — but we don’t heed it.

Instead, we stubbornly insist on pushing our activity into the darkness hours, and without DST, we’d waste more daylight hours sleeping. Moving the symmetry point to 1 PM adjusts a bit for societal norms.

If everyone were a morning person, we wouldn’t have any use for DST. But since a typical person would rather sleep 11-6 instead of 8:30-3:30 or even 10-5, DST enables us to make better use of the day.

Chuckles3 on March 14, 2010 at 7:09 PM

DST is a prime example of the arrogant imbecility of Congress. Congresspersons honestly believe, with all of their pompous self-importance, that they can pass a law mandating that there be an extra hour of daylight each day.

grgeil on March 14, 2010 at 8:45 PM

Way back when I was a kid, I was told by one old man that the whole reason for DST was to have an extra hour in the evening for fishing.

I have yet to hear a better reason.

didymus on March 14, 2010 at 8:57 PM

It’s a waste of time and money. Not only is it a waste, but Congress just a few years ago MOVED the date that the time changes 3 weeks in Spring and 1 week in Fall, for no useful purpose. I guess they have nothing better to do. Older computers do not have a fix for this.

bluesman on March 14, 2010 at 11:36 AM

I finally bought a new alarm clock that automatically adjusted the clock for me in the spring and the fall. Great idea, great purchase, I was very happy.

Then Congress changed the dates. Now it’s wrong for 3 weeks in the spring and 3 weeks in the fall, unless I fix it, then fix it again when it tries to adjust the time 3 weeks later.

didymus on March 14, 2010 at 9:03 PM

Yes, in Arizona there is no change back and forth. Unless, of course you travel through the Navajo Nation which does observe DST. Found that out the hard way! Talk about confusing!

My 4 kids think that as long as it’s light out, they should be out playing. Nevermind that it’s a school night and there’s much to tend to indoors…

outwestdownsouth on March 14, 2010 at 9:04 PM

And who can argue with the Hawaiian-Kine Work Schedule?

Eh, sound good to me, brudda. I like da kine.

(for the haoli’s, “kine” is pidgeon for “kind”, and “da kine” sort of translates to “that kind”, although it has a wider and more flexible usage.)

bofh on March 14, 2010 at 9:11 PM

And we had to shut down systems (mainframes and such) to change clocks. Very expensive and disruptive stuff.

liberty0 on March 14, 2010 at 11:40 AM

That used to amaze me, since that particular problem was solved on Unixish platforms from its beginning. Set the system clock according to GMT and leave it there, and use the time zone setting every time you display the local time. So networked servers in different time zones are still set to the same time, even though the people using it are seeing the local time they’re used to.

It always seemed strange that the far more expensive mainframes required special jobs or even shutting down just to make that adjustment.

I know the AS400 finally adopted the Unix approach about 4 years ago. We used to have special jobs that would have to be scheduled to run twice a year at 2 in the morning, but now no one even has to pay attention. As long as you have the time zone environment variable set correctly…

didymus on March 14, 2010 at 9:16 PM

I would prefer that we keep DST all year around. This way, it is still light when we go home from work at 5PM. I’m sorry, but the kids at the bus stop in the dark argument doesn’t cut it with me.

Old Fritz on March 14, 2010 at 9:25 PM

the whole reason for DST was to have an extra hour in the evening for fishing.

I have yet to hear a better reason.

didymus on March 14, 2010 at 8:57 PM

That right there is reason enough!!

RegularJoe on March 14, 2010 at 11:08 PM

Bars in TX “close” at 2:00, with last call at 1:45 and all drinks gone and cleared by 2:00. Don’t know if still true, but when I was in the biz 25 yrs ago, the literal enforcement of these rules made us go through all the motions when falling back, then open up again at the new 1:01 and do it all again.

Empiricist on March 14, 2010 at 11:19 PM

Dumbest idea ever, and made much worse last year when it was extended from March to November instead of April to October. We are in far West Texas & my kid goes to school in the dark if she has any early “before the bell” activities at school.
Again, just another horrible idea perpetuated by the most out of touch people in our Country, the United States Congress.

Susanboo on March 15, 2010 at 12:58 AM

If’n I was a workin’ in the fields, tryin’ t’ plow n sich, it might come in handy. I believe that we are past that now.

Here in Alaska it’s nothin’ but a pain in the ass. During the winter here in Wasilla we get to where there’s around 4 hours of daylight, and then in summer, no darkness for months.
It just doesn’t help us a damned bit. The only reason we participate is…uh…well I’ll be damned. I can’t think of one reason why…

Army Brat on March 15, 2010 at 12:59 AM

I recall walkin’ to school in the dark, dodging Moose along the way…recess in the light and the stars were back out for the walk home. Ahh…Alaska!

Army Brat on March 15, 2010 at 1:02 AM

Well, until they adjust the time the kids have to get to school, it’s kinda nice. Plus, so nice to have it light later for the summer bbq’s. I suppose it could be done differently. For me, I’d have the Daylight Saving Time all the time. Little darker in the winter mornings. So be it.

Pablo Snooze on March 15, 2010 at 1:05 AM

Actually no it doesn’t. They ran an analysis here in Indiana after the state adopted DST. Energy use and costs went UP. Why? Because more people are home while the sun is up during the summer so AC use went up as well.

Skywise on March 14, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I live in Oregon. We don’t have hot humid summers.

MB4 on March 15, 2010 at 1:31 AM

Not young, still against–for most of my life. The whole thing is idiotic and useless.

You want more time at the end of the day? Wake up earlier! yeesh…

there’s not much that can’t be shifted by an hour or three…

urbancenturion on March 15, 2010 at 4:24 AM

You know you can run any of a number of clients on whatever OS you’re running to adjust your clocks. Look for an NTP (network time protocol) client and have it get regular updates from the US Naval Observatory, for example.

MJBrutus on March 15, 2010 at 7:23 AM

I hate screwing around with the time; it serves no purpose

Willie on March 15, 2010 at 7:50 AM

When I got up Sunday morning (unbeknown to me) my husband had already set all the clocks forward…I actually thought for a little while that I had overslept! :-)

DanaSmiles on March 15, 2010 at 8:38 AM

Leave it. I can golf after work during the summer.

:)

DavidM on March 15, 2010 at 8:44 AM

It’s Daylight Saving Time not Daylight Savings Time.

Wellstoned on March 15, 2010 at 9:07 AM

As an old Indian once said…”Only the government could think you could cut the bottom off a blanket, sew it to the top and make the blanket bigger.” :)

DanaSmiles on March 15, 2010 at 10:07 AM

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