Friday, April 22, 2005

Congress legislates the sunrise -- and the livestock are upset

Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan is pushing an amendment to the energy bill that would extend the period of Daylight Saving Time. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Upton said extending daylight time ''makes sense especially with skyrocketing energy costs'' even though farmers for years have not been happy about daylight time as it now exists. They complain the later daylight in the morning adversely affects livestock.

Um, I'm not sure I get it. Do the cows have wristwatches?

I remember as a boy arguing with an old uncle about the merits of the idea. My uncle kept saying it was wrong to change what "by the sun" should be the correct time. To me, time of day was an abstract concept, decreed by someone in Greenwich or at the US Naval Observatory or somewhere. To my uncle, high noon was high noon.

Benjamin Franklin proposed daylight saving in a remarkable essay in 1784. (Good grief, what didn't he think of? Note his sleeping habits as detailed in the essay.) Here's a 1907 essay by William Willett expounding on the virtues of the concept.

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