Many thousands of years ago, when I was in fifth grade, my insane fundamentalist teacher said something I have never forgotten—What business does the government have to tell us how to set our clocks? If people want to get up an hour earlier, they should just do it. (Or words to that effect.) And then a good many years later, in high school, we had a reading in one of our books where some nineteenth-century writer was complaining about the government adopting railroad time. If we don’t watch out, he warned, we’ll be getting up, dining, and going to bed on railroad time, instead of God’s own time as regulated by the sun.
Well that guy, whoever he was, turned out to be a sort of prophet, since the time zones we live by were a direct outgrowth of the railroads’ need for some sort of conformity. It’s one thing for every little town and hamlet to have its own time when the Pony Express represents the last word in speed, but as things speed up conformity is in order. And arguments about whose time, exactly, should prevail, are going to have to be settled ultimately by some sort of civil authority. It’s a natural government function, really.
Personally I don’t think that time zones go far enough. I’d opt for some sort of greater uniformity. If it were up to me, the whole world would be on Universal Time, and here on the Pacific Coast of North America we'd be getting up around 15:00 and sacking out around 6:00 on the day following. If the whole world were on one time we could simply dump the inconvenience of time table conversions and the like. I’d develop that theme a bit, except that I’ve noticed that people generally change the subject and edge away when I bring the concept up. The world isn’t ready, maybe.
On the other hand, one of the few things I do agree with my fifth grade teacher on is this business of messing with the clocks. It does seem a bit much that every few months some government bureaucrat is telling me to change my clock an hour ahead, or an hour back, or something. What about splitting the difference? Maybe next October we could just turn the clock a half-hour back and leave it there. It’s just a thought. Always assuming, of course, that that Universal Time thing is out of the question.
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