Sunday, June 05, 2005

Springing into the 20th century

As I've mentioned (with regret) before, I live in Indiana, one of only three states that do not currently observe Daylight Saving Time. (The others are Arizona and Hawaii.) Well, that small club is about ready to get one state smaller, because our noble legislators recently voted, after many long years of debate, to adopt Daylight Saving Time in our fair state. Finally, Indiana joins the 20th century!

Why Indiana took so long to adopt DST is a bit of a mystery. Some claim it was the farm lobby that held it back; the farmers thought that changing time twice a year would confuse their cows. (Apparently the cows in Indiana are dumber than the cows in 47 other states, if that's possible.) Personally, I think it was a simple political matter. You see, Indiana is a time zone border state; those counties in the eastern part of the state (particularly those near Cincinnati) wanted to be in the Eastern time zone, while those counties in the western part of the state (particularly those near Chicago) wanted to be in the Central time zone. By not switching to DST, both areas could be pacified for half the year. Kind of a wimpy way out of a festering conflict, but still.

Anyway, business interests finally got their way (surprised it took them so long; is it any wonder why the Indiana economy is faltering?), and next year we'll be like just about everyone else in the country and reset our clocks for DST. The next big debate, however, is for what time zone we should settle on -- Eastern or Central? Aside from the Cincinnati/Chicago partisans, there are those who cling to the mistaken notion that Indiana is a big East Coast city and should be on the same time as New York; others say we're a Midwestern city, pretty darned near Chicago, and should thus be in the Central time zone. I'm of the latter persuasion, personally. Just looking at a map confirms that Indiana is pretty darned distant from the Atlantic ocean, and in reality is kind of a southern suburb of the Windy City. Besides, if we're on Central time, we're only two hours off from the West Coast, and California is who we do more business with these days, anyway. So I say switch to Central time and get it over with.

That said, I do have a few questions about this Daylight Saving Time business -- chief of which is the issue of why we want to save time in the first place. I mean, the summer months are when we have the longest days anyway; why do we want to make them even longer? During June and July the sun doesn't set till nine or so, with DST darkness won't come until close to ten at night. Why do we need this much daylight? I'm kind of a night prowler myself, and I just don't see the need.

It seems to me that if we wanted to make any days longer, it would be during the winter months. Hey, if dusk comes around five in the winter, wouldn't it be great to get an extra hour of daylight then? If we really need Daylight Saving Time, it's during the short winter months, not during the long summer ones.

Still, I'll accept the logical inconsistencies of the whole Daylight Saving Time thing for the convenience of actually being able to figure out what time we're on in relation to other parts of the country -- and having that stay the same the whole year 'round. It's about time Indiana got the right time -- even if it's decades after everybody else.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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