The New Yorker:
A clock does two things. It acts as a timer, marking how much time has gone by and indicating how much is left, and it gives you your position—that is, where, or when, you are at this very moment in the sea of minutes and hours. “What primarily the clock does,” Heidegger wrote, is “to determine the specific fixing of the now.” Twice a year, though, it doesn’t, as you are now groggily aware. At exactly 2:01 A.M. on the second Sunday in March, “now” becomes one hour later, ushering in daylight-saving time and ushering out an hour of sleep. And, at 2:01 A.M. on the first Sunday in November, the clock is turned back an hour; in an instant, “now” becomes “then,” and we live sixty minutes all over again.
Both transitions wreak havoc. Scientists have found that, on the Monday after daylight saving starts, heart attacks and traffic accidents are more numerous, judges dole out harsher sentences, and employees are more likely to “cyberloaf” on the Internet. After daylight saving ends, making sunset earlier, street crimes are more common, as are traffic accidents involving wildlife, because that’s the peak migration time for deer and elk. Researchers in Australia have calculated that extending daylight saving there throughout the year would reduce the number of koalas killed by motorists by some eight per cent. It’s not even clear that daylight-saving time saves energy, as it was originally meant to do; the electricity that is no longer used to power businesses in the evening is offset by a rise in air-conditioning and lighting demands at home.
Now needs fixing, now. The activism Web site Change.org is awash in petitions for doing so in the U.S., either by extending daylight-saving time as the Australians recommend, ending it outright, or moving the time shift to the middle of the following Monday. (This would shorten the workday in the spring but lengthen it in November.) At the state level, there are currently two dozen D.S.T. bills pending. Legislators in New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island, for instance, have suggested permanently moving those states from Eastern Standard Time to Atlantic Standard Time, placing them an hour ahead of New York and in synch with Nova Scotia and Labrador. (The New Hampshire bill stipulates that, if passed, it would go into effect only if Massachusetts followed suit.) “It used to be a weird, niche, oddball issue, but it’s become much more of a public-policy issue,” Scott Yates, a D.S.T. activist, told me recently. “Part of that is because I’ve been pushing it.”
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