07 March 2011


DST. This morning I experienced the annual shock of realizing that the imposition of Daylight Savings Time is upon us -- in the U.S., clocks must be set forward one hour (Spring forward, Fall back) on Saturday night or Sunday morning. According to Wikipedia, "Adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but causes problems for farming, evening entertainment and other occupations tied to the sun ... DST has mixed effects on health. Clock shifts disrupt sleep and reduce its efficiency. Effects on seasonal adaptation to the circadian rhythm can be severe and last for weeks."

Hoped-for positive effects on crime and on electricity savings are minimal to non-existent. In my book, Daylight Savings Time is an unnecessary and burdensome artifice. The world got along just fine for millenia without it. Using the simple device of time zones allows us to standardize how we structure our days and nights. Of U.S. states, only Arizona and Hawaii have the good sense to refrain from participating in DST. How unfortunate that the rest of us follow blandly along like sheep, just so Wall Street can generate more profit. The thought of DST lasting from March 13 to November 6, leaving a mere four months of "natural" time, is just ridiculous.

MOBY DUCK. In a recent post, I described the peregrinations of thousands plastic ducks accidentally cast overboard from a container ship transiting the Pacific Ocean in 1992. The ducks proved to be a serendipitous source of data on ocean currents and gyres, and the implications for the effect of climate change. Donovan Hohn has just published a book on the event, whimsically titled Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them. Elizabeth Royte's NYTimes book review summarizes the grand accidental experiment, along with Hohn's discoveries of the more toxic side of oceanic pollution, and his thoughts, fears, and epiphanies. If you don't care to spring for the entire book, the review alone is worth the time to read.

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