Yeah, @mary nailed it. My argument (reproduced below in case you missed it) is about why to make the clocks spring ahead in the spring. The reason to make them fall back again in the fall is so that sunrise doesn’t end up way too late in the morning (for us here in Portland it would be close to 9am at winter solstice if we did permanent DST).
I also heard lots of objections along the lines of lost productivity and increased traffic accidents caused by the time change. Those arguments could persuade me! But they’re not necessarily dispositive. Like I say below, having more time for evening activities in the summer is a big deal! And shifting all the existing schedules and meeting times is not remotely tenable.
(The point was further driven home for me today when I briefly considered proposing to friends/colleagues that if people preferred, we could move a regularly scheduled thing an hour earlier to keep it at the same body time. I then immediately realized that was more trouble than it was worth and of course it should just remain at its scheduled clock time. So if anyone still has the idea that we don’t need to change the clocks in order to save that daylight, I’m pretty confident you’re wrong! Whether it’s worth it to save that daylight is another question.)
Mainly I’m delighted by how sane the debate has gotten, with everyone acknowledging the various tradeoffs. My impression in the past was that people mostly treated DST as something profoundly idiotic that had literally no conceivable justification! Maybe my (counter-)ranting about this every year finally worked?
Here was the daily beemail in question:
I’m doing an early Madhack Monday today because I have something timely. Timely, get it? (Well, for Europeans it’s a week out of date.) Ok, here it is:
As any computer programmer can attest, off-by-one errors can be dang confusing. At least I’m personally bad enough at mental arithmetic that it’s easy to confuse myself about whether I’ll get tired or wake up an hour earlier or later after the clocks change for daylight savings time.
I think the right concept handle for this is body time. The clocks fell back last night which means that, relative to the clocks, body time is an hour ahead. If you usually go to sleep at 11pm then at 10pm clock time, it will be 11pm body time. So that’s when you’ll get sleepy. Same thing in the morning. You wake up at your normal body time and clock time is an hour earlier than that.
Body time is +1 hour after falling back in the fall and -1 hour after springing head in the spring.
Easy peasy. And especially helpful if you have children if you want to be like “ok, time for bed, it’s 9pm body time” at 8pm tonight!
And now PART II, in which I alienate all of you by expressing a highly unpopular (in my nerd circles) opinion…
Daylight Savings Time (yes I say “savings”; sue me; but that isn’t the unpopular part) is a brilliant (mad)hack solving an otherwise utterly intractable coordination problem. Standard business hours are 9-5 and even if you’re self-employed you probably are, for example, on an ultimate frisbee team or somesuch that can’t start at 5pm because of all the nine-to-fivers on the team. There’s a whole web of interdependent schedules and there is just no way to induce a critical mass of people to shift their activities earlier in the day so as not to waste so much daylight by sleeping in hours past dawn.
UNLESS you resort to the outrageous hack of just literally changing the clocks.
Sure, it makes life a living hell for computer programmers, and the original rationale of saving energy on lighting surely doesn’t apply. But more daylight in the evening is a big deal. And the idea that people could just choose on their own to wake up earlier when the days start getting longer is all wrong. I mean, yes, you can personally do that, but it does you no good unless everyone else (like the rest of your ultimate frisbee team) does it too. And your frisbee team can’t do it unless all the businesses do it and the businesses can’t do it unless the trains and buses do it and every other sport and club and social group and… Like I said: massive, intractable coordination problem.
I think it’s kind of awesome that we were able to solve the problem at all.
“Ok, fine, permanent daylight savings time then!” says everyone I know. I don’t think I would mind that but it does mean starting the day in pitch darkness in the middle of winter. I think ideally I’d love to see a system of referring to times that was relative to sunrise. This is a can of worms though. Or a can full of cans of worms, one of which is how much nerds despise the concept of timezones.