Thursday, March 14, 2013 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Daylight Savings Time

Dr. Drang:

If, by the way, you think the solution is to stay on DST throughout the year, I can only tell you that we tried that back in the 70s and it didn’t turn out well. Sunrise here in Chicago was after 8:00 am, which put school children out on the street at bus stops before dawn in the dead of winter. It was the same on the East Coast. Nobody liked that.

People complain about the complications DST causes in scheduling, especially in our connected world where international phone calls have to be arranged between people in countries whose time changes occur at different points in the calendar. This is a real problem, but only because our vaunted technology has let us down.

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Scheduling problems aren't the only software problems caused by DST. There's also the fact that one hour happens twice every year, and another hour doesn't happen at all, causing all kinds of problems. Hardware malfunctions because stuff doesn't run, or runs twice. It's easy to see that this could be a huge problem for hospitals or banks.

Also, two related points:

- Throughout the year, we're awake for much longer than there is light.
- Studies show that kids do better when school starts later than it does now.

It's hard for me to see how we couldn't find a solution with a single schedule throughout the year that doesn't improve upon our current system in almost every way.

@Lukas That may well be true. Although, personally, I don’t recall seeing many problems from DST.

"It's hard for me to see how we couldn't find a solution with a single schedule throughout the year that doesn't improve upon our current system in almost every way."

It was tried in the 1970's. All DST, all year long.

Not a bad solution, IMHO, but kids were waiting for schoolbuses in the dark during the winter, a couple got hit by cars, and the solution was EOL'd.

(And the 'start school later' sensible solution has the problem of parents needing to leave for work before the kids go to school.)

"There's also the fact that one hour happens twice every year"

Ah. But I fondly remember the glory of that day when I lived in a state with a mandatory 2am bar shut-down, and that one day was like a party holiday because the bars stayed open during that repeated hour.

Plus, you get to do minor experiments with backwards time-travel during that hour, which will come in handy as prep if you ever get your hands on a real time-machine.

"and another hour doesn't happen at all"

Which the real secret here. That one missing hour is when most of the asteroids would normally hit earth, and by clever scheduling, civilization-ending disasters are thus completely avoided. Who knew that minor clock-tinkering could save humanity?

"I don’t recall seeing many problems from DST."

I've seen DST problems result in (slightly) wrong bank account balances, which are quickly and silently fixed.

Actually, thinking about stuff I've personally seen go wrong because of DST reminds me of another DST problem: public transport schedules are hell during the double-hour. Fortunately, it's not often that I'm travelling at that particular time.

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