Stop Messing With My Clock You Imbeciles

By Shamus Posted Sunday Nov 4, 2018

Filed under: Rants 109 comments

It’s that time of the year again when we mess with the clocks and sleep schedules on behalf of the idiots who don’t know the difference between a schedule and a clock. I complain about this every year, although I’m having trouble keeping this rant fresh as the years drag on. Sooner or later I’m going to have to stop bitching about this, which is basically equivalent to admitting defeat.

Here’s a video from Tom Scott talking about what a nightmare it is to deal with time zones in software:

Link (YouTube)

The important thing to note is that the job is actually pretty easy until you have to deal with the madness that results from the ever-shifting rules and spotty observation of DST.

Check out the Wikipedia page on DST and note how every time someone sensibly tries to stop this madness there’s a group of ninnies who cook up some irrational moral panic to justify the status quo. Let’s talk about some of the landmark moments in this planet-wide campaign of chaos and annoyance…

The Year-round Experiment

In 1974 the US tried switching to DST year-round. However, the dingbats had an unbeatable counter-argument: “Think of the children!” Apparently they didn’t like that kids had to go to school in the dark. As someone who attended school in the 80s:

  1. That happened anyway. I still spent a good bit of the year waiting for the bus in the dark.
  2. Is this actually more dangerous? Did anyone bother collecting any data? No? Okay then.
  3. This is an insane way to handle this problem. Assuming we can’t handle the extreme danger of having our children stand under streetlights for a few minutes in the morning, the obvious solution is to reschedule school.

“Hey man, let’s go stargazing tonight at 7pm.”

“That won’t work. The sun is still up at 7.”

“Okay. Let’s turn our watches back an hour. That way when we meet at 7 the sun will be down.”

“You’re so clever!”

Different school districts begin at different times anyway so it’s not like there’s some rule that forces school to start at a particular time. Just have school start whenever it makes sense for your area.


In Alaska they do not need DST. Their latitude is so high that they basically have round-the clock daylight in summer. But they observe it anyway. They tried to get rid of it, but someone worried that this would put them five hours out from Eastern time and that might make coordination of travel and phone conversations more difficult.

This person has evidently never tried to coordinate anything with people from another time zone. The problem isn’t how far apart you are, it’s how many different sets of rules there are for DST observance. Having someone else change THEIR clocks is annoying enough, but if I’m also changing MY clocks and we’re doing so at different times, then that’s more than double the chaos. Check out this CGP Grey video at the 3:50 mark to see what makes this such a nightmare.

Link (YouTube)

As someone who’s worked with a lot of remote teams spread around the world, this has been a source of confusion and annoyance for most of my adult life. In a group of three or more people, there will ALWAYS be at least one person who gets out of phase and doesn’t show up when they’re supposed to. When someone tells you “Let’s meet at 6pm my time next week” you can’t just ask what time zone they’re in and leave it at that. You need to know which country and you also need to know if that country observes DST and when that observation period begins and ends.



California recently began messing with some legislation that would cause them to adopt year-round DST, thereby ending the twice-yearly clock-changing. It’s apparently on the ballot this year. The timing of this is pretty good. Voting this year falls just two days after the clock change, which means the annoyance will still be fresh in everyone’s mind when they go to vote.

Then again, this is the part of the year when we roll the clocks back. Maybe voters won’t think, “Yes! Let’s end this dumb system.” Maybe they’ll think, “Hey, that extra hour of sleep was nice. Maybe we should keep this.” I don’t know.

If California decides to do away with the time changes, then that might give other states enough motivation to try the same.

I realize that regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, this issue probably ranks pretty low on your priority list. Which is why I feel safe talking about it. While the policy wonks are debating the merits of the “Putting Kittens into Blenders Act” versus the “Protecting Cherub-Faced Children From Raptors Initiative” it’s nice that we can come together and agree that this one issue isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Other Notes

Earlier in the year I came across a video talking about the supposed “heart attacks and accidents” statistics. There was a study that showed that, yes, if you look at the Monday after the switch there is an increase in those sorts of things. However, if you look at the rest of the week the numbers go down. What you end up with is that the week has overall the same number of deaths, but those deaths are just front-loaded in the week. The people who had heart attacks after the time switch were going to drop dead either way, it’s just that the change sped the process up a little.

I’d planned to share that video here, but I’ve since lost the link and I can’t remember what the title was or who made it. Please share the link if you’ve got it.

EDIT: It has been found! Does daylight savings kill people?

Link (YouTube)

Note that most people oppose the time switch because it “increases heart attacks and car accidents”. Other people support or oppose it based on energy savings that are hopelessly minuscule either way. For the record, I don’t oppose the clock changes on the basis of energy savings or personal safety. I oppose it because it’s fucking annoying.


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109 thoughts on “Stop Messing With My Clock You Imbeciles

  1. Christopher Wolf says:

    To clarify, since I live in California, its just a proposition that allows the legislature to change us to DST year round, assuming the federal government approves it. So even if it passes there are no guarantees that things would change here.

    1. Agammamon says:

      I always thought that was hilarious. The DoT has the ‘authority’ to control your clocks. As if the DoT’s SWAT teams will break down doors to change the clocks if the state ‘illegally’ makes a DST change.

      1. guy says:

        Well, time zones were created to simplify train schedules(used to be each town picked their own offset) so DST is an interstate commerce thing, so yeah technically that could happen. But actually they’d just take away California’s highway funding or something.

    2. Jeff says:

      I will add when the legislature decides to end it, it will either be year round DST or simply Pacific Standard Time. Going to standard time will not require federal government approval.

      For some reason, it was marketed to the voters as “year round DST” as if that made things better.

      Personally I hope for year round standard time because California geographically lies in the middle of one of the 24 time wedges of the globe and doing perma-DST would put us in the wrong wedge.

    3. SSC says:

      Yeah. It seems to be a mostly bureaucratic step that’s necessary because the specific way in which DST was enacted in California made it illegal for the legislature to enact any changes on their own, thus requiring a citizen initiative whenever any changes to DST needed to be made (I vaguely remember the Federal government changing the dates of DST a decade or so ago, and the legislature had to put a measure on the ballot seeking citizen approval, since they were unable to switch to the new system on their own). This measure will simply return power to make changes to the legislature, it won’t actually make any changes to DST.

      However, that hasn’t stopped the opposition from drumming up the “think of the children! And the farmers!” arguments about ending DST.

  2. Socks says:

    Please share the link if you’ve got it.

    Matt Parker
    His math videos are excellent.

    Daylight savings is an abomination.

    1. Shamus says:

      YES! That’s the one. Thanks so much.

  3. Grey Rook says:

    I remember spending quite a lot of time waiting for the bus in the dark back when I went to school, and it certainly never hurt me any. Now, getting up at five in the morning every day, that hurt, but the darkness didn’t. I also can’t disagree with your statement that the time switch is confusing and annoying.

    Also, this might be a bit off topic, but… Shamus, do you take requests for games to look into?

    1. Shamus says:

      “Shamus, do you take requests for games to look into?”

      Sure. I mean, it would be pointless to say no. People do it all the time and “Oh boy I was hoping you’d write about this one” is a big part of the appeal around here.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Alright. Then please, PLEASE take a look at Steamworld Heist.

      2. Echo Tango says:

        Rimworld exited early access in October! :D

      3. Grey Rook says:

        I see. Do you think you could check out CrossCode? It’s on both Steam and GoG, and Steam has a free demo available. Do you think you could try it out when you have a few hours free?

      4. Lars says:

        Yakuza Zero might tickle your fancy. It’s heavy on story and characters in the main quest with some good scenes and some worthy of a goldun riter award. Plus awkward/ funny side quests an mini games. It’s finally available on Steam for ca. 20$.

        And Outcast: Second Contact in comparison with the Original.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I live in Saskatchewan, which has a fairly large part of the year of either “too many damn daylight hours”, or “not nearly enough damn daylight hours”. We don’t change our clocks, and we function just fine. I shake my head every time I hear about people putting up with this nonsense. Modern society basically doesn’t do anything outdoors anyways, and we’ve got headlights on our cars for driving at night – I don’t even want to know what percentage of GDP / other measures of money this wastes, in lost productivity from people missing meetings.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        I definitely wouldn’t say that daylight doesn’t matter but Shamus’ example of the stargazing thing nicely says it all for me. A lot of people have (semi-)flexible working hours anyway where I am, so rather than move the time around and create confusion, everyone could just move their appointments around.
        For all I could care, we could just all be on universal time and adjust working hours, bed- and lunchtime etc. to whatever is comfortable wherever you live.

        Maybe adjusting the clock was semi-sensible when everyone started working at 8:00 and finished at 16:30 (or somesuch), but these days every workplace and every school sets their own schedule anyway.

  4. Gresman says:

    First of I think you thought of this video by Matt Parker:

    Secondly I am so happy that the EU is at least thinking of getting rid of the time switching. It always messes with my daily cycle for at least a week and I am really knackered.

    Where I live the usual justification is that it has always been that way. Because the younger generation does not know anything else and the older generation does not remember or is dead.

    I am totally with you that it gets strange and annoying once you do stuff over timezones. If I want to watch something happening in the US I have to check the correct time difference – usually -6 to -9 except in the cases where clocks have not been changed yet or are already changed. That was the case for the last two weeks. Just planning a maintenance window for your servers gets annoying.

    I hope that if the EU gets rid of this it might catch on. But first there need to be decisions on when and if we want DST or ST.
    Let us all hope that reason prevails.

    1. rabs says:

      According to Wikipedia, it was considered by the EU Parliament since 2015.
      First approbation was voted in September, and if everything goes well, the plan is for each country to chose their timezone next spring.

      Here UTC meridian goes through the country, but for now we set our clocks at UTC+1 or +2.
      It doesn’t seem a lot of people consider switching to UTC, but it would be great.

      1. Droid says:

        Here UTC meridian goes through the country, but for now we set our clocks at UTC+1 or +2.

        Uhh, Spain?

        1. Agammamon says:

          Yes. Not just Spain of course.

        2. rabs says:

          France, but it would be even easier for Spain as UTC goes through it’s eastern side.

          We would have to adapt our schedules a bit if we want to maximize sunlight.
          When we go to Germany (currently same TZ), it feels weird that everything open and close so early. It’s the opposite with Spain, they tend to live more in the evening. So there are already such differences between countries.

          Though for what I’ve seen, most french would like to switch to permanent UTC+2 because they don’t want to change their “late” schedule, then maximize sunlight in the evening.
          Would be nicer to use UTC, easy international TZ conversion.

          1. Zak McKracken says:

            Using UTC+2 when you’ve got the Greenwich meridian going through the country seems like a completely silly idea (unless you really want to be in the same timezone as some eastern neighbour). If you go with UTC, the sun is highest at noon, and midnight is mid-night. You still get the same amount of light and night per 24h. All that has to happen is you need to work out at which time (on the clock) to go to bed and when to wake up, but you’ll have to do that anyway. Generally, I’d assume that it makes sense in warmer places to make more use of the late daylight/early darkness phase because it’s not as hot as during mid-day. But then early morning is still coolest, so getting up early but also having a Siesta might be useful — but all of those considerations are entirely independent of what you decide to call a certain point in time.

  5. Tizzy says:

    Flew from the US for Europe last week. The flights had to be moved to take off an hour later, because Europe had switched to DST an hour before the US did. So you’re rescheduling some international flights while domestic flights stay put, for a week. This is insanity.

    1. Gresman says:


      That seems unusually strange. Even for Europe standards. Europe switched to DST two weeks ago as stated.
      Last week there was a strike at the airport in Brussels.

      I will go and check for the flights to the US from Europe.
      I checked there were no missing flights in the last 7 days from either London or Paris.

    2. Decius says:

      ICAO rules throw timezones out the window- all times given to or by the flight crew are UTC.

      The original ‘time zone’ system was created by the railroad to ease railroad scheduling and avoid having too many trains using the same section of track at the same time; before then, each town set their clock to local noon, and it was nontrivial to ensure that no two trains (each using local time at their station of departure to schedule) conflicted.

      Maybe soon enough people will care more about having the same time as each other than about having 1200 be daytime, and we’ll standardize a way of scheduling thing (like phone calls) to happen simultaneously.

      1. Blake says:

        “Maybe soon enough people will care more about having the same time as each other than about having 1200 be daytime, and we’ll standardize a way of scheduling thing (like phone calls) to happen simultaneously.”

        Where I live in Australia, if everyone adopted UTC time (and got rid of DST) then our work time would go from 9am-5pm, to 11pm-3pm (I think). Would certainly confuse people for a while, but even then I think that’d be worth it in the long term?
        At the very least getting rid of Daylight Savings Time would help, I have quite the hatred of DST.

        1. Viktor says:

          I’d bet that having businesses open when the day rolls over would break a lot of systems. Probably fixable, since gas stations etc do it, but that would be a non-trivial amount of work for every yoga studio and auto parts store that has to schedule employees and track daily revenue.

  6. Carlos García says:

    Heh, the schedule thing, while used by the against removing time change, is actually more a thing for those who are for. At least the arguments I see in my Spanish Twitter timeline the big support for leaving DST all year is for some “then the work and school schedule will fit better for working people” and the opposers pointing that’s not a problem with the time system but the schedule and you won’t change anything by changing the time slot (in Spain there is also the side wanting to go back to have the same timezone as UK instead of Central Europe). Yes, the “people go to work” (it’s not just the children) at night argument among the opposed to remove time changes, but it’s not as heavy part of it as you make it sound to be over your country. Also, when I was little and went to school it had always dawned when I woke up. The sun might’ve been still kind of low, but it was fully above the horizon.

    The point I don’t really get from those who want to stay as things are is they take the dawn line in summer that goes through Spain to Finland through Germany and then the winter when it’s the dusk line that goes that way. Why not the dusk in summer and the dawn in winder? Or the dawn on each or the dusk on each? What makes that combination be the important one?

  7. ShivanHunter says:

    Everyone should just use UNIX timestamps for scheduling dates. Don’t say “I’ll see you at 5:00”, say “I’ll see you at 1541350820”. Perfectly clear and unambiguous. ?

    1. King Marth says:

      I have never attempted to schedule a cross-time-zone meeting with anything other than UTC. Know your own offset, use a standard. A shared Google calendar also does all this for you if you can’t bother to add human-readable numbers.

      The HAM radio folks have known about this for a long time. C’mon, internet.

      1. Blake says:

        I know I’m at UTC+10, except for when daylight savings hits, then I have to figure out what half of the year I’m in and remember if it goes to +9 or +11 (having just checked, I’m currently at +11).
        Then (because I don’t do it often) I have to remember that I have to invert that (-11) to get to current UTC time, then I have to figure out what timezone other people have listed for something (PST? What’s that?), then I forget where I was up to and just go to and get the computer to figure it out for me.

        1. Zak McKracken says:

          I was just going to suggest to simply set your phone to show UTC in addition to your local time, but then I tried to do that on mine and found that while it can show me different time zones, they’re all tied to some place on earth, and I can’t just type in “UTC” …

          So, for the benefit of everyone else, here’s a list of places that use GMT (which is equal to UTC) all year round:

    2. Cubic says:

      Until 2038, that is.

  8. Raglan says:

    I actually find that it syncs with my body clock pretty well. As the days get longer i wake earlier and earlier cause of all the extra light and as the days get shorter i become more lethargic in the mornings

    That said its still pretty pointless. Here in the uk we always get the argument that it affects the Scottish farmers who have less day light as they are further north, to which my question of, its the same amount of day light but just a different time on the clock has never been adequately answered

    Its one of those pointless things we do just beacuse, like not letting pubs open after 11 because it increases drinking (everyone downs the same amount, just does it quicker)

    At this point its almost become cultural

    1. Agammamon says:

      And nobody ever points out that those Scottish farmers are practical people and get up early enough to be ready to work by the time its light – no matter what the clock says. They simply adjust their schedule. Its insane that people would think that someone kind of dependent on sunlight would need to have the government tell them to adjust their clock to maximize their use of that resource.

      Doubly insane when you realize its not like this happens in one quantum twice a year. Its a gradual process over several months. Waiting for that single one-hour jump just means you’d be unnecessarily causing yourself suffering – getting up too early for part of it and then getting up too late for the other part with only a few days in there where its just right.

      1. Thomas says:

        Cows don’t stop needing milking because the clocks change. Its odd how farmers keep being used as a reason.

    2. Blake says:

      “I actually find that it syncs with my body clock pretty well. As the days get longer i wake earlier and earlier cause of all the extra light and as the days get shorter i become more lethargic in the mornings”

      For me it means there’s never quite enough sunlight in the morning. Right as it gets to the point where I’m waking up naturally from the sunlight to be ready for work, DST hits and I’m back to having my alarm go off in the dark.
      Without DST I’d get a full half a year of waking up nicely instead of a few scattered weeks just before DST and around the summer solstice.

  9. Paul Spooner says:

    Agreed. Down with DST! None of the “advantages” are worth the hassle.

  10. Al__S says:

    We have this over and over in the UK. One of the maddest arguments, and it comes from the National Farmers Union, is that farmers in Scotland need the change.

    Which is weird, given I’ve known cattle and sheep farmers in Scotland, and they seem to have little idea of what the time is at any given point. Bear in mind that all of Scotland is north of Edmonton in Alberta. Hell, the entirety of Great Britain is significantly north of the entire contiguous 48 states of the USA. Midwinter days are short.

    Of course, then there’s the argument as to whether we should therefore use GMT (the “correct” time zone, where the sun is highest at least on a single line in the east of the country at midday) or BST (UTC+1).

    Spain of course has baggage associated with the descion to move to Central European Time/Central European Summer Time (CET/CEST, UTC+1/UTC+2)- it was a political move to align with Berlin in the 1930s. Oddly their neighbours in Iberia, Portugal, who also embraced Fascism (without even as much civil war to try to stop it) stuck with GMT. Switching away from CET would be a further symbolic break with their mid twentieth century history.

    1. Sarfa says:

      Speaking as someone who lives in rural Scotland the argument I hear more often is the children going to school in the dark one. Busses to school, especially in rural areas, is fairly uncommon in Scotland. Roads that have no pavements and no street lights however are fairly common in rural Scotland. And the roads without lights and pavements tend to be the lesser used ones, and due to the terrain those roads are often fairly twisty affairs- so they’re fairly low visibility for drivers and pedestrians at the best of times. So the concern is children walking to school on roads with no pavements and no street lights that twist and turn in the dark. Changing the clocks does make the difference between children doing those sorts of walks in daylight and doing it in the dark.

      1. Sounds to me like a permanent fix would be to change Scotland’s timezone instead.

        1. Sarfa says:

          Perhaps. But which timezone? If we kept to BST (British Summer Time) during the winter then (on some days) we’d have it getting dark outside as early as three o clock in the afternoon. Or to put it another way do you want kids to walk to school on roads with no pavements and no lights, or do you want them to walk home from school on roads with no pavements and no lights?

          1. Matthew Downie says:

            We want schools to open at whatever time it makes sense for the local schools to be open, and to stop messing with clocks.

            1. Sarfa says:

              So you’d suggest changing the time the school opens for five months every year? Would you do that across all of industry? Or would schools be out of sync with how the rest of the world operates?

              If the latter, that would cause a fair amount of hassle- probably more so- for families with children as they adjust their schedules for everything being out of sync (and the knock on concerns of due to how these times work at some points of the year parents will have less time to spend with their children- good luck getting a politician elected on that ticket!). If the former, what you’ve done there is essentially put the schedule on daylight savings time without changing the clock. Which means everyone has to remember it’s all different times for five months of the year.

              Your proposal is to stop messing with clocks in favour of messing with schedules. I’m not sure that actually is less hassle than messing with clocks in order to avoid messing with schedules. Especially now as most digital clocks (such as the ones on phones) do the clock changing bit automatically.

              If the proposal is to shorten school hours for bits of the year in rural Scotland that would likely not have to happen in other parts of the country (such as the cities where the issues I’ve pointed out don’t happen). This would mean rural areas would get less school hours in the year, which would likely cause an attainment gap between rural and urban areas of the country. That wouldn’t be great.

              I don’t think for a second that DST is the best idea in the world. But if you’re going to scrap it these sorts of questions do have to be answered.

              1. Matt Downie says:

                I think messing with the schedules of the 5% of the population who need it is better than messing with the clocks of 100% of the population.

                (Alternatively, we could all go on to traditional Japanese time. In this, there are 12 hours of daylight every day, and 12 hours of nighttime. To account for seasons, the length of the hour changes slightly every day. This means an eight-hour work day is longer in summer and shorter in winter. This requires very elaborate clocks.)

                1. Sarfa says:

                  “I think messing with the schedules of the 5% of the population who need it is better than messing with the clocks of 100% of the population.”

                  Problem is a lot of government policies mess with this 5% of the population like this, because when you don’t live in this sort of area it’s easy to dismiss their concerns. Also, it’s a lot more than 5% in most countries. As a general principle though, this is just bad- if anything minority groups need protection to avoid them seriously losing out due to being governed by people who don’t care about their concerns because they are only a minority.

                  But lets look at the scale of the inconvenience here. Moving the clocks back is a small hassle on two days, especially as most of our devices do this automatically anyway. Mass changing of the schedule for a large section of the population (less than half, yes, but a damn sight more than 5%) for five months of the year would be massive for those area. And as said, those areas are often eating huge inconveniences for the benefit of urban population centres- making them eat another huge one to avoid tiny inconvenience for poor city folk who are too lazy to wind their clock back a little bit… that’s not going to be good for social cohesion.

                  But then you get hometowns like mine. Rural yes, but also next to a big city. Our public transport mainly takes people from where they sleep (in rural towns) to the city where they work and spend most of their day. So, those folk would still have all the problems DST is designed to solve, because they would be on urban schedules in rural communities. A lot of rural jobs would have this problem as well. Meanwhile, the children in these places go to school more locally. Your idea would fall into the trap I mentioned above of knocking families schedules out of sync which would be pretty horrible for them. When you have people whose lives are partially in rural areas and partially in urban areas shifting the schedules of just rural areas is going to massively increase their stress levels.

                  As I said, you need to have solutions for these problems, not harebrained ideas you’ve clearly not thought about the detail of that would in practise solve nothing.

                  1. One issue with changing the clocks is the cost. It’s like half a billion USD in he US I think.
                    A small percentage of that could probably be used instead to improve lighting and transport and sidewalks if “think of the children” is an issue.

                    The global costs of changing the time twice a year is probably mind boggling.

                    1. Sarfa says:

                      You’d have to implement this lighting and pavements first, otherwise it would be very unsafe. When those facts change I would change my mind (as I said elsewhere, I’m not a big fan of DST), but it’s not just money you would need, it’s time. Which means this is really a conversation for 2038 rather than 2018, because that’s a lot of new infrastructure you’re needing to build. you’re essentially rebuilding a bunch of roads from scratch. But yeah, do all that and I’d agree.

                      As I’ve said elsewhere though, DST is something that only makes sense for some countries and I’m not sure the savings involved in abolishing it in just those countries actually would be greater than the costs of this massive infrastructure program for huge sections of rural areas.

                2. Zak McKracken says:

                  Ohhh, I like this! Sounds almost like a parody, but it is actually systematically cleaner than having 2:30 happen twice on one day per year, and not at all on another … like, what about night shift workers who need to do something between 2:00 and 3:00 at night? How do they even schedule their stuff?

          2. Echo Tango says:

            Give the children blinking lights, like people put on their bikes.

            1. Sarfa says:

              The point of those lights is to make it obvious that the thing the light is attached to is a bike. What a bike should be doing on a rural road with no pavements is what it should be doing on any road- it should be on the right side of the road for the direction of traffic it is (for most of the world this is the right, but for the UK it’s the left) and be in the middle of the lane.

              What a pedestrian should be doing on a rural road with no pavements is walk on the same side of the road as oncoming traffic. That is, (in the uk) while cars should drive on the left hand side of the road pedestrians should walk on the right. This is so that you’re walking on a road with no pavements and a vehicle is on the same side of the road as you, it isn’t behind you.

              Your idea would make children walking to school look like cyclists who are in completely the wrong place. When drivers can’t tell whether the blinking light in front of them is a cyclist on the wrong side of the road or a child on the right side of the road, they will no longer have the information they need to respond correctly. These roads are also often quite narrow, which means cars passing each other is a trickier buisness than in most situations. When you have two cars trying to pass each other and there is also a- well it might be a pedestrian or it might be a bike (and both drivers have different ideas as to which of these it is)… That will cause accidents at worse and frustration and hassle at best.

              Also, who would pay for this? Are you going to place an additional cost (light and batteries) on families in rural communities (who aren’t always the richest people in the world)? Is central government going to cover those costs? Are you going to means test families to see if they need these blinking lights to confuse drivers?

              The problem with DST is that unless you live in the sort of area it was designed for it makes no sense and so you simply can’t conceive of why anyone would do it and what problems it solves. But so far every idea I’ve heard is very much along the lines of “it would be slightly more convenient for me to not have to fiddle with 10% of my devices with times on them twice a year, so it’s worth causing chaos in rural areas that don’t get much daylight time in the winter.” If you’re in a country that doesn’t have those sorts of rural areas, then yes, you’re country shouldn’t be doing DST. Many don’t. But if you are in a country that does have the sorts of rural communities DST solves problems for, then you need to have alternative solutions for those problems that are workable. Otherwise, abolishing DST would just give us problems.

              1. Echo Tango says:

                Daylight savings doesn’t solve any problems though – the adjustment of when humans do their activities is what solves it. If you’re in an area that needs to adjust when adults go to work, or when children walk to school because of the hours of daylight, just change the schedule. Instead of affecting just the people who need those schedules changed, daylight savings incurs the confusion for *everyone* in that location – that’s a strict increase in the amount of hassle and confusion. Keep it localized to the people who need to be involved.

                1. Sarfa says:

                  As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, that would be a terrible idea because while it wouldn’t impact the majority, it would be a much greater hassle for the minority affected, as it might knock them out of sync not just with places nearby but with family members who work in areas not effected. And this would be a collossal hassle for those effected compared to what happens now.

                  Also, if you’d been paying attention to what’s been said in this thread you’ll see problems in rural areas that DST does solve. Such as the “walking to school in the dark on rural roads with no pavements and no street lights” one. DST is what makes this activity occur in sunlight in the winter.

            2. Zak McKracken says:

              We used to have reflectors on our school bags, and one or two of these.
              very easy to spot, easy to identify you as a school child.

              I did walk on some roads without sidewalks, had to cross some roads (albeit with little traffic), in the dark.

              …also, please don’t use blinking lights on your bike, at least not exclusively. They make you easy to spot but very hard to tell if, how fast and in which direction you’re moving. I much prefer a single, reasonably strong light on each side (white in front, red in the back), plus the standard complement of reflectors (yellow ones on the pedals, and two in the wheels, one white one in front, and a large red one in the back).

              That’s the standard I’m used to growing up in Germany. And while that’s just my personal experience/reference, and I think that blinking lights on top of that don’t hurt, a certain uniformity is also very helpful in identifying cyclists. What I’m seeing in the UK these days is a creative mishmash of some blindinlgy-bright blinking lights, aimed at car drivers’ eyes (not good), some christmas trees’ worth of blinking and non-blinking things, plus high-viz jacket and reflectors on every surface (more than needed but fine), even some of those projectors that attempt to put put a barely-visible bike symbol on the dark road surface, one meter in front of the bike (completely useless) — and of course some with no lights, no reflectors, black clothes and a black hipster bike with no brakes… (Dude’s, I’m really trying to make space for cyclists but you’re not making it easy…)

              1. Sarfa says:

                Those reflectors go on your backpack. Which means that when the pedestrian is walking on the right side of the road the cars on the same side of the road as them (that is, oncoming traffic) would be facing the wrong side of the child to see the reflector.

                You also have the issue that some children (especially ones of high school age- which in the UK is 12 to 18. I’m thinking it’s the 13 year olds that would be worse for this) are going to refuse to wear those things- even if they’re not cute teddy bear designs. Which means in order for this to be a solution to this problem, it would need to be enforceable.

                1. Echo Tango says:

                  High-school is old enough to understand the tradeoff between wearing something that looks a bit weird, and ending up in the hospital or morgue.

                  1. Sarfa says:

                    And yet how many high schoolers really do that calculation correctly? After all right now if you’re wandering around outside you should be wearing high visibility clothing- and yet so many teenagers instead wear black. Yes, you can generally trust 17+ to be a bit more sensible than that, but 12 and 13 year olds? Unlikely.

                  2. Richard says:

                    I don’t think you’ve met many teenagers!

                    The teenage brain is weird and genuinely doesn’t work the same as the child or adult brain.

                    There have been a lot of studies showing that teenagers (technically adolescents) will take huge, pointless risks when visible by their peer group.
                    So most teens absolutely will refuse to wear them, or throw them over the school wall etc.

                    And oddly, they’re as ‘sensible’ as adults when alone. So if you ask a lone teen if they’d wear it, they’ll probably say yes.
                    Put them in group and ask them to wear it… and nope!

  11. Zaxares says:

    I used to live in Queensland, Australia, and every few years the government will try to get DST implemented. And every single time the vast majority of the state votes “F*CK NO!!!!” :P The most recent attempt tried to implement DST for the southern half of the state (because of our closer business ties to the southern Australian states that do follow it), but it was ultimately scrapped because the government didn’t want a situation where different parts of the state followed DST or not.

  12. Lino says:

    I’m so glad that here in the EU we’re having talks of ending this madness! We recently had an online government poll in my country on whether we want to stop DST, and if we did which time we would prefer to have permanently – wintertime or summertime (as far as I know all EU members had one). It’s kind of infuriating that that most people chose summertime, because they don’t understand what that means (and that it’s actually the more unnatural one), but either way, I’m still glad that we’re on the way of abolishing this collective idiocy!

    1. Droid says:

      It’s not natural either way. No one, especially not nature, requires the zenith of the sun to correspond somewhat closely to 12 o’clock. It’s just deviating from an arbitrary norm.

      1. Astronomers once used Astronomical Days

        Where midnight UTC is the middle of the astronomical day (when the stars are in the middle). Not they just follow UTC or possibly TAI (International Atomic Time), can’t recall.

        1. Philadelphus says:

          UTC is what I used at my previous job with a professional observatory.

          Actually that worked out pretty well since that was in Hawaii so the UTC day rolled over at 2 in the afternoon, so most of the time all your night’s observations were in one UTC day. (The software got a bit grumpy and unpredictable if we observed over the rollover.)

  13. guy says:

    My preferred way of handling getting around international scheduling issues is to just schedule things in UTC.

  14. Redrock says:

    Russia got rid of switching back in 2011. I had a mate who was extremely pissed about it because he didn’t get to see the sun anymore. Me, I don’t really care. Although, to be fair, I don’t think the “think of the children” argument is about rapists and murderers hiding in the dark, but rather about children not getting to see the sun. On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence that the switching would really mess with children’s moods, appetite, you name it. So the tradeoff isn’t worth it, I think. But, like I said, I don’t really have a strong opinion either way. Mostly because I either work from home or don’t drop by the office earlier than 1 p.m.. Which is why I also don’t think I’m really entitled to an opinion on that matter.

    1. Agammamon says:

      That would really depend on how short your days were and how long the school day was, wouldn’t it? And whether or not your schools lock kids in windowless buildings all day and don’t let them out.

      If you’re going to school in the dark then that means you’re probably starting school right at sunrise – 6-7 hours of school and then a couple hours of sunlight afterwards – when they’re awake enough to enjoy them. Plus sunlight all day while they’re at school, including recess/lunch/etc.

  15. Basil Petrovka says:

    We should just get rid of timezones altogether. UTC for everyone!

    1. I’d actually be for that. I need to coordinate stuff with others globally and I always use UTC (along with CET or EST), that way they can always confer with UTC in case I mess up the timezone conversions.

      If the world followed UTC it would be least weird for England and the other lands around it. Some places would end up with 00:00 being in the middle of the day.

      I guess the only benefit of a timezone is that if you move permanently around the world you still “get up” at the same time in the morning.

      Though in my case I get up and go to bad at all hours of the day since I don’t have a regular job.

      Then there are those with nightshifts that go out at work late in the evening and come home when other people get up. The world never truly sleeps any more.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Why would it be least weird for England and the surrounding timezones? Because their midnight is around 00:00? Wouldn’t it be more natural for countries where sunrise would fall around 00:00? They could say “oh, it’s 04:00, so it’s been 4 hours since sunrise.”

        Just my 0.02£.

        1. “Why would it be least weird for England and the surrounding timezones? Because their midnight is around 00:00?”

          Because British time in the winter is the same as GMT (which is now UTC) so they’d “only” loose summertime, all other timezones would have to shift anywhere from +1 or -1 to +12 and -12 hours.

          I do like the idea of hours since sunrise though. The Greenwitch mean time and day line (on the other side of the world) are holdovers from when a clock had 2 times 12 hours. I wonder if that originated from the sun being only visible “half the time” of the day. There is also the tidbit about how the world was supposedly born on a Sunday at midday 12 o’clock. But I think that is inaccurate as the Bob rested on Sunday which was his day off, so that doesn’t match, what worked would work through the night from Saturday to Sunday. Sounds to me like Bob clocked in at midday Sunday to sneak some overtime on his sheet instead.

          1. Richard says:

            Depending on who you ask, Bob started on either Saturday or Sunday, did a six day working week and took Friday or Saturday off.

            Treating Sunday specially came about because Bob’s kid had a really bad Friday, but felt much better on Sunday morning.

  16. Drathnoxis says:

    I like DST, but only the fall back part. I think we should change it so we move our clocks back both in the Fall AND the Spring. This would be the perfect solution, I feel.

    1. eaglewingz says:

      What a great idea!

      Why hasn’t anyone come up with it before?

    2. lurkey says:

      Same. I am always sleepy in Summer Time unless on vacation. With DST, at least I have my 5 months of lucidity. :(

  17. Soylent Dave says:

    Living in the North of England, the switch back to GMT makes the difference between my driving to and from work in the dark, and just driving home in the dark.

    Given that I typically have a commute which is less than an hour, that’s certainly got safety implications. It’s also got “easier commute” implications, which I like.

    For comparison:

    Rough daylight hours Nov – Jan

    BST 0800-0920 – 1650 -1730
    GMT 0700-0820 – 1550 -1630

    Daylight hours at Winter Solstice:

    BST 0922 – 1651
    GMT 0822 – 1551

    (notice that also means that schoolkids are either heading to school in the dark and leaving in daylight throughout Winter under BST, or heading to school in daylight and for a few weeks leaving in the dark)

    There’s certainly an argument against time zones at lower (and higher) latitudes, but several Western countries are precisely in the zone most impacted.

  18. eaglewingz says:

    Florida is awaiting Congressional approval to implement the bill passed this March that makes DST permanent, known as “The Sunshine Protection Act”.

    See? We’re protecting the sunshine!

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Anyone who doesn’t support the SPA hates sunshine!

    2. Gautsu says:

      Was just about to say this

  19. Milo Christiansen says:

    You want to know something crazy? Here in Michigan there is quite a lot of push to get rid of DST, but one of the arguments politicians keep using to keep it is “think of the farmers”. Only one problem: The biggest lobby to get rid of it is made up of farmers.

    For most people it is just a minor annoyance when they need to change their clocks, but for dairy farmers it is a time when they lose money due to shifting the cow milking schedule (as you may guess, the cows don’t like it).

    1. Decius says:

      Why do they change the cow milking schedule instead of changing the times on the cow milkers’ schedules?

      1. I’ll make a wild guess that that he milk trucks show up at time X, because the milk truck needs to be at place Y when the time is at time Z, which in turn needs the milk to start producing A at time B because shoppers expect foodstuff C to be available when the store opens at time D.

        Also, delaying milking a cow for an hour can cause pain to some cows (try to imagine holding your bladder for an hour, or ask a breastfeeding/milkproducing woman how it feels to go 1 hour too long when the breasts are full with milk).

        Even if it does not cause pain a hour difference would confuse the cows, they are used to be milked at a certain time, they are used to go out and eat grass when it’s this or that dark/light, sure the light changes over the year but this is gradual, changing the clock is a larger jump in light levels, the cows has a internal sense of time just like humans do, I doubt a depressed or confused cow produces quality milk the first week, their sleep patterns get fucked up.

  20. Syal says:

    Yearly reminder that in response to everybody hating Daylight Savings Time, Congress decided to fucking lengthen it, to the point where Standard Time is only 1/3 of the year, and to a timeslot where it’s usually two days before the general election.

  21. Frank says:

    I live in CA and I voted (by mail) to allow permanent daylight savings time. I encourage any of you living in CA to vote for it as well. I just changed 9 clocks today! It’s a pain to do this twice a year. The worst part is that people often forget to change the clocks in their cars. For some car models, this is difficult to figure out. I take Uber to/from work each day, and I’ll probably spend the next few weeks constantly thinking I’m late for work because the drivers haven’t changed their clocks back.

  22. Dreadjaws says:

    I oppose it because it’s fucking annoying.

    Pretty much. Every time I complained about this stuff someone would come up with a ridiculous excuse for why it had to be done rather than, you know, re-scheduling stuff an hour earlier/later instead of forcing everyone to change their clocks.

    We stopped doing this in my country a few years ago and not only we haven’t exploded, but there’s now two less yearly annoyances to deal with. Granted, I still have the problem that some of my devices decide to automatically change the clock. Even though I set them all to stop doing that some of them decide to just reset those settings just to annoying me into manually change the clock back. This is, thankfully, becoming less of a problem as years pass by, as I believe some updates make sure the clock doesn’t have to change based on zone.

  23. Gaius Maximus says:

    My preference would be to go to year-round DST, but I’d rather stick with what we have now than go to year-round standard. I never get up before 8:30, so late sunrises in winter don’t bother me, and having sunrise at 4:30 in summer would be a total waste, definitely not worth sacrificing the 7:30-8:30 hour in the evening. Plus it’s just nice that there’s one small aspect of our society that’s set up to favor night owls instead of morning people.

  24. NPC says:

    I’ll never understand why people try to co-ordinate with obscure and shifting local timezones when UTC exists. Why say “my time” when you can give the universal time?

    But more importantly I am disappointed there is no mention of poor Oskaar in a conversation about DST

    1. Shamus says:

      My clocks and phone all show me my local time. To express things in UTC, I have to convert my time to UTC. Then the other person has to convert from UTC to local time.

      What happens is that I look up UTC and see I’m -4 hours. Then I think to myself, “Okay, to attend this noon meeting in two weeks I’ll need to be there at 8am”. What I overlook is that there’s a time-shift between now and the meeting, and when the day comes around I’ll actually be UTC -5. I wrote on my calendar that I need to be there at 8am, but I really need to show up at 7am.

      You’re correct that converting to UTC is the correct way to handle things, but it’s still easy to make mistakes. There’s always one person who isn’t used to these sorts of meetings, or who subtracts an hour to the meeting time when they should add one.

      And thus there’s always one person who shows up too late and thus time is wasted.

      1. Code a program (or find a “smart” calendar) that tells you how many days and hours are left. This means it must be fully aware of timezones and DST though (barring any political changes in the DST dates in the meantime).
        If it says “Meeting in 6 hours”, then the meeting will be in six hours regardless.

        BTW! If you right click the time/date in the tray in the Windows taskbar and choose “Adjust time/date” (Win 10) then choose “add clocks for different timezones”. For example I got UTC and Toronto time, that way I see local time in the tray but if I hover the time/clock in the tray I see UTC and Toronto time as well).
        Win 7 has a similar multi clock thing too.

  25. The EU held a vote on getting rid of the daylight savings clock changing

    This text is interesting

    It should also be noted that the availability of daylight varies according to EU Member States’ geographical location. Northern EU Member States have a relatively large seasonal change in available daylight in the course of the year, characterised by dark winters with little daylight and bright summers with short nights. For the Southernmost EU Member States the day and night distribution of daylight scarcely alters during the year

    The result of the vote was 80% of the people wanted to get rid of the clock changing.

    I also love these quote from commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker

    We carried out a survey, millions responded and believe that in future, summer time should be year-round, and that’s what will happen,

    if you ask the citizens, then you have to do what the citizens say

    Note that member states will be free to choose witch “time” they’ll be at, this could mean that some nations in the EU might “shift” timezones as part of the process.

    While Norway (where I am) is not a EU member state, it is part of a European Economic Area deal. It is very likely Norway will follow suit, as may other EEA nations (Iceland and Switzerland I believe, although I can’t recall if they observe DST at all).
    If California follow suit then this will have a rolling effect on both major continents.

  26. Kyte says:

    Here in Chile we had a year with permanent summer time for the sake of energy savings and security. The next year it was reinstated. According to official sources, while the energy savings and reduction in evening crime were indeed evidenced, there was an increased rate of student absence/tardiness, so they picked a compromise where DST is still observed but with a longer summer time period than winter time.

    So it’s not like DST is entirely BS, there’s at least evidence of its impact on society.

  27. braincraft says:

    I should point out that babies are rarely attacked by raptors, and so a major government program to raise raptor awareness for infants is a waste of taxpayer money. Contrariwise, kitten smoothies are delicious and benefit everyone (except for kittens), at the expense of nothing but low-cost and totally renewable kitten stocks.

    1. Droid says:

      OMG, I cannot believe I am reading this! I will have you know that every raptor alive today kills at least 1000 babies per year!

      And 80% of kittens are from non-renewable sources!

      1. tmtvl says:

        I have never heard of a bird of prey killing any baby, I think you need to double-check your sources. Also kittens are mammals and by definition are renewable resources.

        1. eaglewingz says:

          Fraudulent Reportage !!

  28. Dev Null says:

    I’ve always been a bit boggled by how big a deal this is for some people. Either way.

    I lived and worked in Arizona – which doesn’t do DST – while working constantly remotely with people in the rest of the states and in Australia – which does DST, but the other direction (or six months out, depending on how you look at it…) For the last 20 years, the answer has been a pretty simple “type ‘time in Sydney’ into google”. And that was before smartphones, which will happily show you the time in your 3 or 4 most likely spots constantly on the background.

    Yes, DST would have been handy for me, because I rode my bike to work and would have preferred not to ride home in the dark. I bought a light.

    1. guy says:

      It becomes incredibly terribly annoying when you are simultaneously coordinating people across three continents and they shift in different directions on different schedules.

  29. Mephane says:

    In the EU, we had an official survey whether to keep the switch or not, and if not which time to adopt as the year-round one, that’s not a referendum and not binding, legally or otherwise, but a good indication of what people think about and can influence further policy-making.

    It came out in favour of ending the switching, and keeping DST permanently. While I strongly prefer to adopt non-DST, “winter time”, CET, UTC+0100 etc. as the permanent time zone here, permanent-DST is still far, far better than switching. So here’s hoping next year we will stop it.

  30. Kestrellius says:

    Came here today specifically hoping you were going to complain about daylight savings again. Was not disappointed.

    I’m not terribly fussed about it…but I don’t see any real benefit to the time change, and I see a lot of downsides, so — I think I’m throwing in with the anti-daylight-savers.

  31. Lino says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The EU just decided to keep DST, because 3 member states (Greece, Portugal, and the UK) said they wanted to keep it.

    I guess sometimes we just can’t have nice things….

    1. I can’t find any news on this using Google.

      The EU commission suggested 1 April 2019, but Austria suggested 2021 instead as they (and others felt more time was needed to deal with the change, or rather the end of changing) and the airline industry said they’d like 18 months to prepare before the permanent end of DST.
      Kinda silly if you ask me, if April 2019 is too early push it to October 2019 and throw money at it. Waiting until 2021 is going to cost billions each year due to the clock changes anyway. The sooner the changes stop the more taxpayer money is saved.

      By the looks of it the end of clock changes will happen for nation states, but the EU will leave it to each nation state to decide if they want to align with DST or Normal time as the permanent choice (effectively this would be equivalent to a timezone shift).

      The transport ministers are meeting on 3 December, these are probably the ones that are the most impacted by any changes to DST (trains/planes/trucks/boats/public transport/etc).

  32. Philadelphus says:

    The nice thing about living in Hawaii (ok, one of the many MANY nice things) is that there’s no DST there. Not once in the eight years I lived did I find myself thinking “Boy, I sure miss having to upend my schedule and check any clocks not attached to the Internet twice a year!” I definitely didn’t miss still having to remember when it happened in practice to avoid calling people back home on the mainland at the wrong time.

    (And now last year I moved to Australia, where not only do I have to deal with DST again, but it happens at different dates than the US, so now if I want to call family back home I’ve got four days and three different timezone offsets to remember at different parts of the year. Madness.)

  33. Rack says:

    Daylight savings does kill people, just in traffic accidents not heart attacks. The narrative of

    “Daylight savings kills people, more people die in traffic accidents as a result of it.”

    “That’s nonsense, over time death by heart attacks are static.”

    is really weird. It’s this flagrant abuse of statistics you see all over the place and it drives me nuts.

  34. Darren says:

    I call bullshit on that study. How would you have a lethal increase in overall stress when you gain an hour of sleep (many, perhaps most, people do not get enough sleep, so any extra is good) and modern clocks are so digitized that you actually have to change very few of them. Very few people will be waking up on Monday to see their clocks reading an hour ahead and think they’re running late (why are they up anyway if they didn’t change any of their clocks?).

  35. Taellosse says:

    I concur wholeheartedly that DST is dumb and irritating. As a parent of young children, I cannot even look upon that “extra hour” in the autumn with grace anymore – my kids’ body clocks don’t care what numbers are on the dial in the morning, they wake up when they wake up, and that’s usually around 6:30-7am. So for the next week or so after Fall Back, they wake up at 5:30-6am, instead (and wake us up as well, of course), and are cranky by the end of the day because they’re short on sleep. They gradually adjust over several days, but it’s a completely unnecessary irritant.

    Personally, while I think the overall effect of ending DST in terms of energy savings or better health are negligible, I think the net reduction in global stress would be of cumulative benefit. If we ended DST everywhere today, maybe 50 years from now a war will have been prevented.

  36. Adeon says:

    The thing that really irritates me about the “think of the children argument” is that school really shouldn’t be starting that early anyway. From what I’ve read kids, and especially teenagers, tend to benefit from sleeping longer and getting a later start. So abolishing DST and starting schools later would actually be a much better option anyway.

  37. Joe says:

    Here in Western Australia, the state government tried DST one year, with a vote afterwards. It was voted down. We’d rather be 3 hours behind the east in summer, thanks. A few years later, they gave it a 3 year trial. It was voted down again. Furthermore, they were voted out of power at the earliest opportunity. Pretty definitive, I think.

    Perhaps the assorted American state governments should put it to a vote?

  38. Tom says:

    You know, with everyone and their dog now carrying a ludicrously powerful, gps-equipped, speech-recognising computer around with them 24/7, we could, if we wanted, just switch everything to solar time, or siderial time. Or – and stay with me, here – we could display both that AND GMT on the same clock program at the same time. You could, with care, construct coaxial or parallel dials that would make it effortless to convert between local and GMT at a glance. If the local clock output time in a nice simple format that included either offset or latitudinal position (heck, or even just the name of the town, state or country you were in), people coordinating with each other in different locations could theoretically just say to their phone “Tell Dave we’ll meet 5PM Spokane” and the phone would automatically check where you were (and maybe even contact Dave’s phone and see where he was standing, with appropriate permissions!) and convert that into the time he’d need to aim for on his own clock, adjusted for where he was and where you were both going.

    People have suggested it in prior eras, but before the ubiquity of GPS or local time signals it just wasn’t practical to make a watch that could do it. (Though there IS a precedent where it did work. In the 19th century, when Britain ran on railways, most people still set their clocks and watches by the local sundial. This meant local time could vary by significant numbers of minutes from station to station. To avoid chaos and the risk of people constantly complaining, erroneously, that the train had arrived late or left early, stations had two big clocks side-by-side, one displaying local time, the other a standard “Railway Time” that the trains actually ran to. It being the print age, I believe a whole publishing industry sprung up selling books of tables to convert between railway time and different town stations to plan journeys.) Now, I think, the time of the solar watch may have come, at least from the standpoint of technical feasibility.

    But we don’t do that, and probably never will, because the law is set up only to be capable of crude boolean operations in response to continua, and too many people evidently can’t handle the notion of using two timescales at once, EVEN WITH A SUPERCOMPUTER ON THEIR WRIST, so we’re stuck with the stupid one-hour jerk twice a year.


  39. unit3000-21 says:

    I used to be surprised twice a year by the time switch, because my brain somehow calssifies it as worthless information, and I don’t keep up with the news – it was really annoying. Fortunately in my current workplace one of the co-workers starts complaining about it a few weeks in advance, and now I’m always prepared. It is still pointless though.

  40. Misamoto says:

    It would be a fun experiment, if impossible to organize, to just do away with time zones at all. Let’s all live UTC – so what if I’ll have to get up at 4am like that? Or that in some country sunrise will be at 5pm? A lot of headache will just go away with international communication and programming.

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