DST is the simplest approximation of natural time

Salt Lake City - sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk times for the whole year in a graph
DST adjusted annual daylight periods for Salt Lake City. Note how the average dawn time (blue) stays closer to 7 AM due to DST shifting.


Our bodies internal clock synchronizes with sunrise; Daylight Savings Time averages out mechanical 24 hour clock time with the seasonal sunrise shift. 
Our time zones and common time are a political decision based on how we want to run our society, not some mandate of nature. Changing our common time from DST on a state by state basis causes confusion and should only be a coordinated effort.

What is time?

This is not a philosophical discussion, but a good place to start in the debate about changing the way America keeps time. Prior to computers, watches and railroads, time came from the sun. Humans, like most animals, are adapted to use day light for taking care of our physical needs; our bodies start to produce melatonin and wind down as day light fades to night. Historically man has counted hours since dawn and found that precision adequate to our needs.

The modern world relies upon high precision 24 hour clocks, enabling synchronization of technology and great economic benefits. We've defined time zones along political boundaries based on the average local noon in fixed time zone areas like the Rockies, continental Europe and China. We expect businesses to keep posted hours and employers expect us to show up at the same nominal clock time every morning. But our bodies internal clocks are chemically based on daylight, and our bodies know the clock's time is not the same as nature's.

Pretending that clocks are a natural state of timekeeping as others in this debate have suggested is absurd. Our bodies chemically follow the natural, historical time keeping method that starts at dawn. Through a simple, universally understood, twice annual, 1 hour clock shift, DST pushes our nominal clock time closer to natural dawn time during summer months. The spring sun has been waking me up naturally around 7 AM MDT for the last couple weeks leading up to DST. As detailed below, DST constrains daily Utah nominal dawn times in a 2 hour window, rather than 3 hours of variation. The circadian rhythm that DST naysayers frequently cite is mostly controlled by ambient light, to the point that night shift workers and people who sleep in high light levels have ~50% higher breast cancer rates, and likely many other health issues http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002207/
Unlike the cancer risks from night time light exposure, DST grogginess from the time change can be completely alleviated by simply moving your alarm forward or back 15 minutes a day over the week before the time change. 

If you're still convinced unchanging, politically averaged, mechanical clock time is best for America, the simplest, and most logical way for a state like Utah, where I live, to abandon DST is to join our Standard Time only southern neighbor, Arizona. But, Arizona's latitude makes Daylight Savings less valuable. At our respective population centers, Phoenix summer sun rise and set times go from 5:19 to 19:41, 14:22 hours of daylight. Salt Lake MST sun rise and set times go from 4:56 to 20:02, 15:06 hours of daylight. Abandoning DST means your kids will be getting up at 5 AM since our summer sun rises 23 minutes earlier than Phoenix. Good luck sleeping in.

SummerRiseSetHours of light
MDT SLC05:5621:0215:06
MST SLC04:5620:02

earlier dawn00:23longer day00:44

WinterRiseSetHours of light

later dawn00:20shorter day00:42
SLC MST annual dawn window


Some have suggested we could remove the annoyance of semiannual clock changes by permanently moving to year round +1 hour DST. But come winter, this would likely increase accidents from dark commutes on icy roads with sun rise near 9 AM. This is compounded by the fact that the coldest temperatures usually come right before dawn. Phoenix rarely needs to clear roads; their 7:28 -17:25 winter day yields 10 hours of light, while Salt Lake's 7:48-17:03 cuts us down to 9:15 hours. Much of the Wasatch front has an even later sunrise as our tall mountains push our horizon higher, making icy roads more treacherous later into the morning. 

Now that we've discussed several facts about how we measure and perceive time, we're left with a political decision about how we want to define our common time. State services and economic activity, especially snow removal, benefit from more morning light in the winter, while the economy benefits from standardized business hours that take advantage of seasonal change. Any change to DST should be taken in consideration of neighboring states to minimize time confusion and resulting economic losses. Abandoning the rest of America on DST and joining Arizona has more costs and less benefit for central and northern states than Arizona. Like many harmless, existing political boundaries and decisions, America's current use of DST is best left unchanged.

DST helps align our digital clock reality with natural, seasonal light fluctuations and is the simplest solution that accounts for our economic needs and health.


The Stock Market is for Suckers

 While a few posts are forthcoming about our broken economy, this Canadian article talks about Facebook avoiding the pain of Going public and Financial activist, Mark Cuban's claim that, "the Stock Market is for Suckers."

Not even sure where to begin on the issues this poses for our economy, so it will be a list for now:
  • Only the rich are allowed to fund "the Next Big Thing"
  • Sarbanes-Oxley makes it too painful to be a publicly traded common stock issuing company
  • Private companies are trading on shadow markets to avoid public company requirements
    • or private US companies are closed to US investors to avoid going public
  • Hyper short holding horizons push managers to juice returns and reported growth rates at all costs
    • 80% of CEO's would cut Research & Development to goose returns.

Here's a free market solution to short term market vultures: Contractual holding periods with leaving penalties, just like most mutual funds. If the purpose of the market is to raise capital for building long term growth companies, then we can let companies determine whether they're in it for the long haul, and provide investment opportunities that reflect that view.

Three months is a common mutual fund hold time. Make dividends contingent on renewing the stock contract, just like a CD. Sure, this won't make as much money in churn fees for Wall Street, but it can let companies fulfill their vision and benefit society.


TSA Holiday Travel Excitement

November 1st brought a wave of illegal new TSA policies and a lot overdue attention to the agency. The new procedures for secondary screening (up to 20% of passengers) include a combination of full body X-ray scanning and/or full body pat downs which now includes squeezing and twisting of private parts. This is a lengthy, evolving run down of the personal and political implications so at least read the last paragraph before traveling with kids this holiday season.

The following article explains why these new security measures won't work to make us any safer for airline travel, and how lobbyists (former senators, aides, and the prior DHS chief, Michael Chertoff) are profiting from the collective pain of American travelers. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Naked-scanners-Lobbyists-join-the-war-on-terror-1540901-107548388.html

This sort of physical contact is justly considered sexual assault and can be painful. There are numerous reports that show TSA agents lack the character to treat innocent civilians with respect and dignity. Despite promises not to store X-ray pictures, the machines are required to support storage and transmission, so of course agencies have been reported saving them. A pilot has filed a complaint against screeners for telling an X-ray viewer, "heads up, got a cutie for you." http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147497-tso-saying-heads-up-got-cutie-you.html . Another suit is presently pending for a woman who was inadvertently disrobed by a TSA agent, after which agents near her joked about the incident and an agent who arrived later said he would watch the tape: http://homelandsecuritynewswire.com/tsa-agent-pulls-womans-blouse-down-exposing-breasts . Even a TSA agent is currently charged with assaulting one of his co-workers after the "victim" made disparaging remarks about what the scanner revealed about the assailants body.

The amoral TSA policies ask for special attention towards pregnant women, even though public exposure is common, adding emotional pain to physically painful touching that can be dangerous for the baby: http://lewrockwell.com/orig3/monahan1.html
While TSA agents sometimes bother to offer a private room if one is available, their track record doesn't inspire confidence that you will be safe in their custody. It appears that the pat down procedures have been made painful, embarrassing and public to coerce fliers to submit to X-ray screening.

We did a case study in my embedded systems electrical engineering class regarding radiating devices with dangerous software and hardware glitches. This complaint from several UCSF Biomedical professors points out the radiation dangers of a burst of body surface tuned X-rays are considerably more dangerous than the Defense contractors raking in millions of your tax dollars claim. These dangers are especially applicable to: seniors, children and people who may reproduce. http://www.npr.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.pdf

Cancer survivors and people with medical equipment are also at special risk of embarrassment and radiation : http://thepoliticalcarnival.net/2010/11/20/tsa-pat-down-leaves-bladder-cancer-survivor-covered-in-urine/  http://gizmodo.com/5692198/a-tsa-success-story The money trail behind the X-ray machines is even clearer when taking into account that the Pentagon has concluded after years of wasting money that bomb sniffing dogs have an 80% success rate compared to the 50% success rate of the most advanced sniffing machines: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/19-billion-later-pentagon-best-bomb-detector-is-a-dog/  http://www.stltoday.com/news/state-and-regional/missouri/article_95ba9221-c2e5-505e-9225-034c9cdb8b84.html

While none of these efforts pass muster under the 4th amendment (Like your 5th amendment right to remain silent, a calm repeated statement of "I don't consent to searches" should eventually turn away any officer without probable cause or a warrant), TSA bureaucrats have implemented these measures despite passage of a bill restricting them by the US House of Representatives (who don't have to go through screenings). http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2027  was folded into  http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2200

One individual justly warned a TSA officer that he would press criminal sexual assault charges if he touched his privates and is being sued by the TSA for $11,000 for failure to complete screening ( http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html ). Remember that all the protections of our freedoms under the bill of rights don't exist if we fail to push back against illegal encroachments by government agents (This sort of touching of innocent adults and children goes against common morality). http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-oped-1114-chapman-20101114,0,3696372.column

Terrorism is not about hurting people; it's about making them scared enough to change their lives and societies. http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/01/airport_securit_12.html

Some bureaucrats appear to be conditioning the public to unconstitutional surveillance and searches. The logic behind TSA's methods are also quite suspect. The TSA alternately claims X-ray pictures are too blurry to be  revealing, while also saying they are accurate enough to help catch the next underwear bomber (an international arrival unchecked by TSA who probably exploited Dutch airport workers to avoid security screening and document control).

This is confirmed by absurd events like the response when a traveler stripped his clothing off to avoid a pat down. The TSA refused to process his clothing, saying he needed to put it back on so they could perform a pat down! He was arrested for failure to complete the security screening and for recording his actions, then paraded through several terminals in his underwear and handcuffs. http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/tsa-airport-screeners-gone-wild-san-diego-again . Apparently they've written policies to protect themselves from citizen video journalism, one of the only ways to fight police abuse, and a right protected under the first amendment.

Part of the problem here is that we are treating everyone like a terrorist. Psychological experiments have shown that people given authority and suspicion will often abuse the people they watch. 'The TSA "is not a flier-centered system. It's a terrorist-centered system and the travelers get caught in it," said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University who has tracked the agency's effectiveness since it's creation.' http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101121/ap_on_re_us/us_airport_security_backlash.

As a nation of Natural Rights, Morals and Laws, it is inexcusable that bureaucrats can instantly produce "policy" and randomly dispose of the protections guaranteed for 220 years by the Bill of Rights. Call your representatives and Senators and ask them to rein in the TSA now. I'd recommend asking them to co-sponsor and fast track the HR6416 Traveler Dignity Act before Christmas http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h6416/text . Tell them you will avoid air travel until sanity is restored to the process, and that restoring balance to our laws is necessary for the US to succeed in a changing global economy. Congress could even send a message to all bureaucratic usurpers by firing the heads of the TSA and DHS for violating their oath of office to the constitution, while leaving them open for suits from people injured by these policies.

Even if you entirely disagree with my complaints about these issues, at least consider the following clip from a Tennessee news program. Secondary screening can be very traumatic for children. This spot ends with the advice that you can ask a ticket desk whether your child has been randomly selected for secondary screening, and request that the child be "deselected" from that distinction. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TCHSGvNwRY Another kid here in Salt Lake: http://hotair.com/archives/2010/11/21/tsa-makes-little-boy-remove-shirt-during-pat-down/