Monday, February 19, 2007

Thanks for Another Month of Gloom - Part the First

Rant time. And I sense a two-post rant in the offing.

Last night I downloaded a few updates for my computer, one of which was a patch to ensure that the early switch to daylight saving time on March 11 won't bugger up my time-sensitive data. While watching the download progress bar nudge over millimeter by millimeter over the course of an hour, I had plenty of time to stew over this, the most favourite of my pet peeves.

Long-time readers will recall a post made about 10 months ago where I asserted that Daylight Saving Time was perhaps a capitalist plot. I am now certain of this.

The US Congress passed this legislation two years ago, justifying this chronometrical tinkering by asserting that it will decrease energy consumption. "People go to sleep in the evening" is the logical train of thought, "and by having more sunlight in the evening people will have less hours with the lights on in their houses".

Methinks this translates into "more hours to go out shopping at night".

Never mind that the savings at night, if any, will be largely offset by increased consumption in the morning. People don't go shopping before going to work in the early AM, so the retailers of America won't lose out on any sales.

I did a Google News Search on this issue, and found 576 articles in the past three days suggesting, without being too alarmist, that firmware clocks may not be all that easy to reset. A mini Y2K might be in the works, some say. So this exercise in manipulating time is not without risk. So why do it in the first place?

I checked an on-line ephemeris for Minneapolis (since DST will begin AFTER the vernal equinox now, and the further north you go, the shorter the days), and on March 10 the sun will rise at 6:35 AM and set at 6:12 PM. Add a half hour on either side for civil sunrise (taking into account twilight) and we can see that it will get light in the Twin Cities around 6:00 AM and dark around 6:45 PM. This sounds reasonable - lots of light for having breakfast and getting the kids ready for school in the morning and putting away the supper dishes in the evening before having to switch on the track lighting.

The next day, after DST is invoked, it will be bright around 7:00 AM and dark at 7:45 PM. Unlike the day before people will be fumbling for the light switch upon arising and I predict electrical consumption will actually go up. For shit's sake, if the US government wanted to effect a real change in electrical consumption they'd phase out incandescent bulbs over the next 3 years, but I guess that would be construed as unwarranted government interference in business.

The justified interference is when the government extends the daily shopping cycle by an extra hour. The captains and crew of the mercantile fleet must be kept happy.

Here's another thought: if we concentrated our efforts on renewable energy sources - hydro, solar, wind and the like - we wouldn't have to worry about large spikes and brown-outs so much. Energy can be stored by innovative means, such as the Dutch plan to cool the country's large refrigeration units by one degree at midnight when demand is low, and basically let it creep back to normal without running the compressors in morning when demand is higher.

Has anyone done some investigative journalism into who the lobby was behind this legislative move in Congress? I guess the press south of the 49th is too concerned with Britany's alopecia fetish.

Tomorrow, how the "arse-lickers of Satan" in Ottawa followed suit and have conspired to keep me in the dark even longer.


Blogger Fuff said...

I wish BST would be all year round here too, plus another hour in the summer. There's a proposal for it going through the 'motions' at the present here. Fingers crossed and all that.
Really looking forward to that Ottawa post ;)

8:09 PM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Eleventh of March? Are you sure? Are you certain? Sooo soooooon????? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I hate that!!!!
*running everywhere screaming*

11:04 AM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Fuff: The end result is you would move one time zone closer to us? And two in the summer?

merlinprincess: Yep. It was decided by Ottawa and the provinces basically without debate. Or much publicity, because this usually astute news bear hadn't heard of it until last week!

12:59 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

An hour all year I think - so four instead of five difference as we all go forward one in March.

7:32 AM  

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