Back on Eastern Standard Time. God’s time. (Or, you know, at least what I got used to growing up.)
Today’s Behind Closed Doors had a note about Daylight Saving Time. I had three “almost dead” references rattling around in my head:
#Monty Python’s The Holy Grail
The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.
[a man puts a body on the cart]
Large Man with Dead Body: Here’s one.
The Dead Collector: That’ll be ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.
The Dead Collector: What?
Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There’s your ninepence.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.
The Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.
Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not.
The Dead Collector: He isn’t.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m getting better.
Large Man with Dead Body: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.
The Dead Collector: Well, I can’t take him like that. It’s against regulations.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I don’t want to go on the cart.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, don’t be such a baby.
The Dead Collector: I can’t take him.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I feel fine.
Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, do me a favor.
The Dead Collector: I can’t.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.
The Dead Collector: I promised I’d be at the Robinsons’. They’ve lost nine today.
Large Man with Dead Body: Well, when’s your next round?
The Dead Collector: Thursday.
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I think I’ll go for a walk.
Large Man with Dead Body: You’re not fooling anyone, you know. Isn’t there anything you could do?
The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I feel happy. I feel happy.
[the Dead Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the Body with his a whack of his club]
Large Man with Dead Body: Ah, thank you very much.
The Dead Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Large Man with Dead Body: Right.
#The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: He probably owes you money huh? I’ll ask him.
Inigo Montoya: He’s dead. He can’t talk.
Miracle Max: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.
Inigo Montoya: What’s that?
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.
Anyway, the Behind Closed Doors Note:
Eastern vs. Central
Just about the last thing many legislators feel like revisiting is the debate over what time it is in Indiana. The 2005 fight that narrowly shifted Indiana to daylight saving time still has lawmakers exhausted.
But some residents think the state should reopen the debate — not to repeal daylight saving time, but to move Indiana from the Eastern to the Central time zone.
The Hoosiers for Central Time Coalition is contacting legislators and school superintendents around the state, urging them to support a switch to Central time for the safety of students.
And don’t take my discussion of “mostly dead” as being dismissive of the possibility that the time issue may result in further changes. I thought the daylight saving time issue was dead most of my life — but the pro-DST faction kept bringing it up over and over again until they finally got legislation passed by dint of the thinnest of margins and the reneged vote of Troy “I’ll Never Vote For It” Woodruff. (I went with the Frankenstein allusion on that one.) It’s not like there has ever been anything like a mandate on the time subject in this state. We’ve seen before that a motivated group can get legislation passed even where the issue seems settled and the rest of the state has learned to live with the situation.
The post is entitled “Time to Give It Up Already.” Honestly, I intended to let it rest, but I just can’t help myself when DST proponents are telling me to shut up. Probably a character flaw on my part, but whatever.
Cox responds to Thomas with these bullet points:
1. Maybe DST is an economic boon (or maybe not — it’s not clear whether Cox thinks it actually was or wasn’t or whether he agrees that the whole jobs thing was just a good marketing pretext); in any case, we just can’t tell because the economic situation is so bad even the power of DST couldn’t overcome it.
2. Don’t blame Gov. Daniels – 47 other states adopted it too!
3. Not having DST is “REALLY STUPID” (sic – allcaps).
My response at his blog:
Really, itâ€™s time to give it up? But it wasnâ€™t time to give it up for the decades in which DST proponents were defeated? Awfully convenient, donâ€™t you think? (â€Ah yes,â€ comes the obvious response, â€œbecause DST proponents were right and its opponents were wrong.â€) Still, fair is fair and equal time and all that.
DST canâ€™t overcome the horrible economic situation, Iâ€™ll concede. But is there any actual evidence that the job situation is better than it would have been because of DST? It was sold as a jobs bill, but I get the sense that was just convenient marketing and DST proponents usually advance it only half-heartedly anymore.
Really, for most Hoosiers, this boils down to personal preference: â€œI like later evenings better than I like earlier mornings.â€ But, plenty of folks would trade those 10 oâ€™clock sunsets in mid-summer for 7 oâ€™clock sunrises just about now.
As for synchronizing with the rest of the world, business and everyone else manages to coordinate things with Japan and Arizona and an array of different time zones. It just wasnâ€™t that complicated when Indianaâ€™s time remained as constant as the north star.
Ultimately, I concede, Indiana probably wonâ€™t change back. Maybe the U.S. will go off DST since it is actually less energy efficient than Standard Time. Or, maybe the U.S. will finish off the remaining 4 months of â€œStandard Timeâ€ and put us on year round DST. And, weâ€™ll live. These 8 oâ€™clock sunrises and periods of groggy adjustment are annoying but not life threatening. In the meantime, I donâ€™t suppose many of us DST opponents will refrain from a bit of sleep-deprived grousing just because DST proponents suggest, â€œWe finally won after decades of trying, now could everyone please shut up?â€
I really had intended to limit my Daylight Saving Time ranting to the one bit of grumbling from yesterday. But Oseye T. Boyd’s “Hoosiers fear change and that’s why they hate DST” article in the Muncie Star Press was pretty annoying.
DST is symptomatic of Indiana’s aversion to change, Indiana University professor of history and author James Madison said. Madison wrote, “The Indiana Way,” which chronicles Indiana history.
The same attitude can be found in laws that prohibit selling alcohol on Sundays, the fight over prayer at the Indiana Statehouse and the latest battle to rid Indiana of township government, which was first proposed in the 1930s by then Gov. Paul McNutt.
Nothing in the article about how Daylight Saving Time doesn’t actually save any energy or how it hasn’t seemed to make a damn bit of difference in terms of jobs for Hoosiers or how Indiana’s longitude makes adopting daylight time more problematic and year round standard time a pretty good fit.
I get that synchronization with other states has advantages and that some people’s schedules are better suited to later nights than to earlier mornings. But let’s not pretend that Hoosier resistance to Daylight Saving Time is solely, or even primarily, rooted in some irrational fear of change.
The most objectionable part of Daylight Saving Time is coming this weekend. We’ll shift our clocks an hour, leading to darker mornings. It was starting to get light at a reasonable time in the morning, and now we’ll have to wait until about 7:40 for it to start to get light out.
So, let’s recap – DST doesn’t actually save any energy and it has done jack for our economy. What was the point of the exercise again?
The Evansville Courier Press had an editorial a couple of days ago in which they were kind enough to mention this site as drawing their attention to the New York Times op/ed by Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant about Daylight Saving Time. (And this wasn’t the first time they’ve extended such a courtesy, apparently.)
It would have been easy enough for the editorial writers to simply comment on the op/ed without mentioning this site. It’s not as if I’m the only reader of the New York Times. So, the mention was awfully considerate, and I just wanted to extend my gratitude.
Incidentally, the editorial expressed little interest in monkeying with Daylight Saving Time further, even if observing DST actually used a bit more energy, because of fatigue associated with fighting over the issue. I’m too tired to argue with them at the moment.
I won’t hold my breath, but it would be quite a thing if Indiana’s switch to Daylight Time led to the elimination of Daylight Time nationwide. Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant, writing a column in the New York Times cite their study in Indiana for the proposition that Daylight Time should be abandoned.
Indiana’s switchover provided a unique opportunity to study the energy use effects of Daylight Time versus Standard Time:
We found that daylight time caused a 1 percent overall increase in residential electricity use, though the effect varied from month to month. The greatest increase occurred in late summer and early fall, when electricity use rose by 2 percent to 4 percent.
Daylight time costs Indiana households an average of $3.29 a year in higher electricity bills, or about $9 million for the whole state. We also calculated the health and other social costs of increased pollution emissions at $1.7 million to $5.5 million per year.
Essentially, the decreased use of lights during Daylight Time was more than offset by the use of air conditioners late into the evening. The column concludes by suggesting that eliminating daylight time would be consistent with President Obama’s goals of conserving resources, saving money, promoting energy security, and reducing climate change.
Today we’re off of Daylight ‘Saving’ Time and back on “Standard” time. The names are complete misnomers in that no daylight is saved, in fact the most recent study shows we use more energy on daylight time than on standard time. And, of course, “standard” is kind of silly since it’s the time we’re on for only about 4 months per year.
Anyway, just a friendly reminder to set your clocks back an hour; grumble if your kids get up based on the earth’s relationship to the sun rather than the numbers on the clock; and, I suppose, consider casting a vote against Gov. Daniels if you find the process annoying and/or unnecessary.
There is a scene in Orson Scott Card’s Xenocide where an angry man stokes up the mob. At some point, the mob gets uglier than the man intended, and he unsuccessfully tries to calm it down. Then, the mob goes off and does something pretty awful, and the man feels bad. The lesson was that he wasn’t using the mob, the mob was using him.
McCain’s campaign reminds me of that story. His crowds have been getting uglier after such things as Palin repeatedly saying, “He’s not like us” about Obama, and that he “pals around with terrorists;” along with associated ads.
Josh Marshall suggests that there is no real contrition in McCain, just a realization that the attempts at Obama character assassination aren’t playing well.
The Lafayette Journal & Courier wants the debate over time zones to stop.
Prior to , most of Indiana remained on Eastern Standard Time all year, which meant that from November through March, most of Indiana was on the same time as New York City. From April through October, most Hoosiers’ watches were in sync with Chicago.
Legally, the entire state was on the same time as Chicago for seven months of the year. There were a handful of counties around Louisville and Cincinnati that observed Eastern Daylight Time, but they did so illegally.
The counties in the state chose which time zone — Eastern or Central — to be in.
This is a disingenuous description of how the process worked. First, Gov. Daniels campaigned on the premise that Indiana would be united on Central Daylight Time. Then the issue of time zones was ignored or misrepresented as DST was rammed through the legislature only to pass DST by one vote on the 4th or 5th try with that vote being a betrayal of ex-Representative Troy Woodruff’s promise to his constituents. Then the Governor didn’t submit to the Department of Transportation as required the materials necessary to allow the Department to put Indiana on one time zone. Then, he punted the thing to an ad hoc county-by-county decision making process that stacked the deck by giving counties away from the time line almost no incentive to change because they lacked information on what counties between them and the time line would do.
You can make the case that leaving a flawed system in place is preferable to the costs of changing it around. But, then, you could have made that case before Daniels started monkeying with our clocks. What you can’t do with any credibility is make the case that our current time system, particularly the time zone half of the debate, was the result of a full and fair debate on what ought to be done.