Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Fall Back

Its that time of year again, when Congress decrees that you shift your clock back an hour to save miniscule amounts of energy. The fine folks of Arizona and Indiana have noticed that Congress doesn’t really have the power to regulate time, and don’t like playing along.

But if you think about it, time is an essential part of measurement. The official definition of a meter is “length of the path traveled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second.” Congress actually does have the power (Article 1, section 8) to establish standards of weights and measures. So, given that time is an essential part of how things are measured, and that measurements need to be in alignment with other parts of the solar system, it is actually proper for Congress to muck with the clocks occasionally. They should remember that the computer systems that track time may not be as clever as they would like to be, and be careful.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed an extra hour of sleep, and dreamt of a world in which Congress stopped to ask if time is a proper subject of regulation.

3 comments on "Fall Back"

  • DM says:

    Unfortunately, I have a three your old who doesn’t recognize the authority of congress to regulate clocks and instead opts for a more absolute measure of time.

  • beri says:

    Actually it was not Congress but the railroads who decided to regulate time across the country in order to rationalize their timetables. It turned out to be a useful idea, taht everyone in a given geographic locale, had the same time on their clocks. Imagine what would happen if different towns decided to set their own clocks. What time would children go to school, what time would people go to work, what time would the library close? What if you lived in one town and worked in another with different time zones?
    Wanting to be different for the sake of being different (I don’t like daylight savings time, so we wont’ have it) is a sign of people who need a job or children or a hobby to keep them out of trouble. There are lots of very important issues before our country and this ain’t one of them. (Indiana’s kind of odd anyway. It used to have the largest KKK organization in the country, outside of the south).

  • izar says:

    And let’s not forget the usual Indiana legislation gem:
    “It happened in Indiana. Although the attempt to legislate pi was ultimately unsuccessful, it did come pretty close. In 1897 Representative T.I. Record of Posen county introduced House Bill #246 in the Indiana House of Representatives. The bill, based on the work of a physician and amateur mathematician named Edward J. Goodwin (Edwin in some accounts), suggests not one but three numbers for pi, among them 3.2, as we shall see. The punishment for unbelievers I have not been able to learn, but I place no credence in the rumor that you had to spend the rest of your natural life in Indiana.”
    So, trust a bunch of empowered individuals to mess with things they have absolutely no knowledge about “just because they can”, “in our own best interests”…
    Synchronized clocks is, of course, a wonderful idea. Hurray for the iron-horse barons for instituting it. But…why does my life has to be artificially separated one hour more from my friends in other countries? Now they will be falling asleep just as I get home and am good and ready for a good old chat. Fiendishly inconvenient.

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