The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

November 3, 2012

It’s time once again to mess with time

ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published Oct. 26, 2003.

“Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present, all time is unredeemable.” — T.S. Eliot

All right, now let me get this straight.

It’s fall forward and spring back. Or is it fall down and spring up? Maybe it’s fall over something and spring to your feet.

Whatever. It’s that time of year when we tinker with the forces of the universe and alter time, if only by an hour.

This morning, at exactly 2 a.m., you were supposed to have turned your clocks back one hour.

If you didn’t, you’re late. Or you’re early. I’m so confused.

Daylight saving time, like eyeglasses and the show “Fear Factor” (why else would he have dangled that key from that kite in the lightning storm?), was the brainchild of Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin first proposed the idea of daylight saving time in an essay written in 1784 titled “An Economical Project.”

William Willett, a builder in London, took it a step further when he wrote a pamphlet, “Waste of Daylight,” in 1907 that proposed turning clocks forward 20 minutes on each of the first four Sundays in April, then turning them back on four Sundays in September.

Great Britain enacted what it calls Summer Time in 1916, but it was not generally accepted until 1925.

The United States formally adopted the concept of daylight saving time in 1918. It was repealed in 1919, over the veto of President Woodrow Wilson, since so many people got up earlier and went to bed earlier than we do today. That was before “The Tonight Show,” I guess.

Daylight saving time was reinstated in 1942, and ended in 1945. From 1945 to 1966, there was no federal law on daylight saving time, meaning states and cities could kind of make up their own rules.

Even today, not all states accept daylight saving time. Arizona and Hawaii eschew daylight saving time completely, while Indiana kind of makes things up as it goes along. In the summer, when it is noon Eastern Standard Time in Indianapolis, it’s also noon in Evansville, but Central Daylight Time.

Then if you want to really get confused, consider the status of daylight saving time in other countries.

In Iraq, for instance, daylight saving time starts April 1 and ends Oct. 1. In Russia, it begins the last Sunday in March and ends the last Sunday in October. In Iran, it begins the first day of Farvardin (God bless you) and ends the first day of Mehr.

Japan doesn’t have daylight saving time, but it’s already something like three weeks from now in Japan, so they’re already screwed up.

In the southern hemisphere, of course, the world is not only upside down, but so is the calendar. Brazil begins daylight saving time the first Sunday in November and ends it the third Sunday in February. In Chile, it begins the second Saturday of October and ends the second Saturday of March.

In Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula, the home of Palmer Station, uses Chile’s time zone, while the rest of the continent does not. Rothera, a British base, doesn’t use daylight saving time. U.S. bases, including both McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, use New Zealand’s time zone and daylight saving dates. And the penguins could care less.

So could the chickens, which is one objection to using daylight saving time in the first place. Chickens, it seems, have a hard time adjusting to daylight saving time.

“The chickens do not adapt to the changed clock until several weeks have gone by so the first week of April and the last week of October are very frustrating to us,” said Canadian chicken farmer Marty Notenbomer.

Get over it, Marty. Chickens don’t adjust to anything, they’re chickens. They expect us to adjust to them. So who’s smarter?

In 1947, a daylight saving time opponent named Robertson Davies wrote, “As an admirer of moonlight, I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the daylight saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves.”

Be that as it may, it should now be one hour earlier than it was Saturday at this time, which is ... oh, darn, I think my watch has stopped.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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