Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Persistence of Daylight Saving Time

It's not enough that here in the Northeast we've just experienced two snow bomb cyclones in the space of a week and that thousands of people are still without power and that a third Nor'easter is possible by Tuesday. 

As the meteorologists explain it, once this kind of weather pattern sets up, there is just no stopping it. 

And since policy-makers can't ever seem to escape their own pattern of not fixing what they and their forebears have already broken and adding to human misery in a million creative ways, we're still saddled with the atrocity known as Daylight Saving Time. This is the hellish week when we have to get used to losing an hour of sleep on top of shoveling the wet, heavy coronary-inducing snow. This is the hellish week when our policy-makers all scratch their heads and wonder whether it isn't finally time to end the torment and do away with this ludicrous time change altogether. So many more heart attacks and traffic accidents and workplace mishaps happen during this transitional week. Somebody who is not them should really do something about it!


Salvador Dali's "Persistence of Memory"

At least they could be honest and change the cheerful "spring forward" bullshit reminders with the smiley-face tulips and daffodils into a Skull and Crossbones logo to better relate what this really is: Nighttime Stealing Time.

That will never do, of course. Because calling something 'saving' is SOP to make you feel resigned to being abused without your permission. (see, for example, the Republicans' proposed "health savings accounts" to replace Medicare and Medicaid.)

  The Turn of the Screw Clock is tantamount to mandated sleep deprivation in our already sleep-deprived society. Since sleep deprivation has been deemed torture by the Geneva Convention, it can't be hyperbolic to also define Daylight Saving Time as torture. Studies show that even occasional or "minor" sleep deprivation has a cumulative effect, permanently altering brain chemistry and damaging health. You cannot catch up on lost sleep. For some, that one mandated lost hour could be the difference between life and death.

Sleep deprivation has been blamed for the Chernobyl meltdown, the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger disaster. Many of the recent train crashes have been blamed on undiagnosed sleep apnea, which causes sufferers to wake up hundreds of times during the night without even realizing it.

Factor in our chronic lack of sleep with the exhaustion pinnacle that is Nighttime Stealing Week, and you've got a recipe for a whole bunch of tragedies.

 The irony is that the whole time-altering scam started out as a joke by none other than Ben Franklin. He facetiously suggested that colonists could save money on candles if they advanced their clocks ahead by an hour in the warmer months. And the rest, like most of ironic American history, is history. The Gothamist has 21 more reasons why the Great Time Robbery sucks, as if you needed any more.

Meanwhile, if you're feeling tired and cranky after being forced to set your clocks ahead, try not to smash stuff as some chipper TV news-mannequin urges you to just put on your happy face and dress yourself in sunshine and indulge in that horrible, neoliberal-sounding Power Nap after your Power Lunch. Try some blood pressure-reducing Ohhhhhmms between the Yawwwwwns.  There might still be a foot of grimy gray snow on the ground where you live, but try to visualize all those hopped-up horny Easter Bunnies "springing ahead" wherever you look.

 Don't be a downer. Take an upper. If you're not into drugs, just raise up the curtains and greet the glorious dawn! It's empowering. Which is pretty stupid, since DST actually means it's still dark outside at 6 a.m. Dawn is dawning a whole hour later now. So, scratch that. Stay up a whole hour later instead, and watch the romantic sunset.  Your body clock may be screaming in protest, but those diurnal rhythms are just so yesterday. We live in an artificially lit, techno-connected 24/7/365 brave new world of higher worker productivity and stagnating wages. Get used to it, proles, because there's always another poor slob waiting to take your place, willing to get by on less sleep just for the chance to survive another delightful 24 hours.

 So let's keep a lousy idea that was lousy when they dreamed it up in those mythical, simpler, agrarian times for no other reason that it exhausts us. Sleep, as a universal, equal opportunity, no-cost phenomenon, is profitable only for the sleepers. The global economy is not making any money while you're snoozing, folks! The world cannot be made safe from terror with a country full of lazy snorers strung out in their hammocks of dependency. And in a hyper-capitalistic world that commodifies everything from drinking water to health care, if it's not profitable, then we must get rid of it. The plutocracy's answer is not more sleep for better health, but less sleep for us translating into more money for them.

And what better place to study how to efficiently reduce sleep than the Eternal War Complex? From ABC News:
By devising superhuman ways of staying awake for up to seven straight days and nights, military officials hope to lend U.S. soldiers a strategic edge in future conflicts.
 "Eliminating the need for sleep during an operation … will create a fundamental change in war fighting and force employment," says a recent statement by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
To strive toward creating the no-sleep soldier, DARPA has funded a multi-tiered program from tinkering with a soldier's brain using magnetic resonance to analyzing the neural circuits of birds that stay awake for days during migration. The hope is to stump the body's need for sleep — at least temporarily.
 "This program is really out of the box," says John Carney, director of DARPA's Continuous Assisted Performance program. "We want to look at capabilities in nature and leverage it so we can apply it in ways that no one thought possible."
 Don't look for our millionaire congress critters to pass a bill abolishing Daylight Saving Time any time soon. We are so divided in this country that nobody can agree on who is even to blame for it. It seems that farmers have gotten a bad rap for it all these years, when they actually were among its most vociferous opponents back in the day. And Ben Franklin's input seems to have been a myth as well, just like the mythical level playing fields and ladders of opportunity.
 Sleep itself is the enemy of neoliberalism and cancerous profits.

 As Jonathan Crary lays out in "24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep",
 the Free Market never sleeps, and nor should we be allowed to. Every moment that we slumber is a moment that we don't supply our labor, a moment that we're not connected to a device, a moment that we aren't purchasing and consuming goods or health insurance or "content" in the marketplace of things and ideas. Restful sleep is a literal and physical slap in the face to capitalism, and the Market refuses to tolerate it. So up and at 'em.

I'm exhausted just thinking about this hellishness. I think I'll go take a power nap. I'll dream about a million tired people giving a group middle finger to the predators of the free market. I'll dream that a mass uprising will scare the living daylights out of all of them and they'll writhe in defeat, and return to us all those stolen hours and stolen lives and destroyed livelihoods.

Dreaming and breathing may be limited, but they are still free, despite the best efforts of the Free Market. On second thought...been to an Oxygen Bar or shopped oxygen product lately?


Anna Radicalova said...

The Montana State legislature voted last year on the issue of doing away with that stupid hoax, but it lost. The winning argument was that school sports needed DST so that teams had more time to play in the evening, or something along that line. Never mind that most of the schools have outdoor lights on their playing fields now (because priorities), and schools are not in session for the 3 months of summer but the rest of us still have to go through this game. Whatever did we do in the olden days?

I have some suggestions. Let's start viral memes referring to Standard Time as 'War Time' and DST as Democratic Surrender Time. Start a propaganda campaign to demand War Time endlessly, just like our wars. It sounds so patriotic and it actually was implemented once. Support it or you're a treasonous Commie tool!

As an alternative, start a viral meme about DST hurting our military readiness, national security, and the police's ability to keep the peace *cough*.

If all else fails, claim Putin is using bots online to secretly promote DST to defeat democracy and prevent Hillary's comeback in 2020. (It's Russiagate part 2 and makes no more sense than Russiagate part 1 did.)

Marcus A. A. said...

Aloha all:

I live in Hawaii, and thankfully we do not play the " spring forward,fall back game," Another example of Hawaiian time.I know all the fake news about whom is to blame, however if truth be known the group that keeps enabling this insanity are the golf nuts. More day light, equals earlier starting times, more play time. And now you know, "and miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep."