URLs du Jour


  • Do these people have any self-awareness whatsoever? Titania McGrath tweets:

    That's from … Microsoft. (More ludicrous commentary and examples here.) The company that still hasn't figured out how to make accurate progress meters, or display consistent information on when Windows last checked for system update availability in the "Settings" window.

    (And apparently the guy on your left, Nic Fillingham, talked about his beard in his intro, but left his silly culturally-appropriated haircut unremarked.)

  • A too-modest reform. Scott Lincicome hashtags his idea: #EndDST. (Originally published last week.)

    In the coming days, tens of millions of Americans and their children will participate in a silly, unhealthy annual ritual rooted in mysticism and superstition. And they’ll also celebrate Halloween.

    The silly ritual to which I’m referring, of course, is our semiannual tradition of changing the clocks to accommodate daylight saving time (DST)—an onerous state time mandate detrimental to public health and safety, manipulated by corporatists, supported by a handful of childless insomniac socialites, and based on so-called “science” debunked decades ago. Indeed, even the name “daylight saving time” is a lie: The ritual merely shifts time; it doesn’t save anything—except, perhaps, a few jobs on K Street and in the Florida leisure industry.

    And so, my friends, it’s time I provided a full-throated explanation of why DST should be eliminated, before it’s too late.

    Summary: it doesn't save energy (as it originally promised to do); it makes us sicker and less safe; it messes up family life and the economy. (And Scott provides some interesting maps showing how "unreasonable" all the timeshifting can be.)

  • Another too-modest reform… … advocated by another small-thinking politician: Rubio Pushes for Year-Round Daylight Saving Time

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) is pushing for year-round Daylight Saving Time, saying twice-a-year clock changes are "stupid."

    "We're about to once again do this annual craziness of changing the clock, falling back, springing forward. We need to stop doing it. There is no justification for it. Let's go to permanent Daylight Saving Time," Rubio said in a video message Wednesday. "The overwhelming majority of members of Congress approve and support it. Let's get it done. Let's get it passed so that we never have to do this stupid change again."

    Rubio in March introduced the bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act, which would make Daylight Saving Time permanent, and the House and Senate versions of the bill are in committee. The bill is based on a 2018 Florida law that mandates year-round Daylight Saving Time. Eighteen other states have enacted similar measures. The state laws, however, cannot go into effect without an act of Congress—the 1966 Uniform Time Act prohibits states from observing permanent Daylight Saving Time, which begins in most states in March and ends in November.

    This article claims the opposite of what Lincicome alleges above: that DST "saves energy, decreases traffic accidents, and reduces crime".

  • But surely those enlightened, sophisticated Europeans have this figured out, right? Nope. Instead (via Slashdot): Debate over daylight saving time drags on in Europe

    This week could have been the first time that Europe did not have to observe the seasonal time change since it came into law across the region nearly two decades ago.

    Daylight saving time, the practice of setting clocks an hour ahead for the summer and an hour back for winter, has long been justified as a way of saving energy. During World War I, the United Kingdom and Germany implemented the clock change in hopes of conserving coal. The measure was abolished in most countries after the war ended, but it returned in the 1980s during the global oil crisis.

    Today, explanations for daylight saving time often focus on farmers and children needing sunlight in the early morning hours while working or going to school. Since 2002, the European Union has ordered all member states to adjust their clocks on the last Sunday in March and October. Iceland, however, is exempt.

    Click through for a description of the mess. It's probably making them cranky, although probably not cranky enough to start yet another world war. I hope.

    Any reasonably detached observer would, I hope, realize that politicians can't be trusted with the power to dictate how our clocks should be set. They should stop doing that. Let people figure out their own optimal schedules for sleep, work, etc. Stop government fiddling with time zones and 25/23-hour days. We should have a separation of time and state.

    If that happy event occurred, there would (eventually) be clock conventions widely (and voluntarily) shared across large areas. People would still gripe, but that's OK.

    I'd advocate planet-wide UTC to minimize confusion, but I'm a geek. Even non-geeks might find it nice to have a New Year's celebration simultaneously around the world. (Pay no attention to the fact that would occur well before my normal bedtime.)

    OK, that's enough DST-ranting…

  • In case you missed it. Eric Boehm reports the bad (albeit probably inevitable) news: Congress Finally Passed Biden's Inefficient, Deficit-Hiking Infrastructure Bill.

    Start right at the top of the $1.2 trillion package. The CBO projects that the bill will add about $256 billion to the federal budget deficit over 10 years. Actually, that number is likely to be closer to $400 billion because the infrastructure package includes a number of dubious offsets, particularly in how it proposes to reallocate unused funds appropriated in various COVID-19 emergency spending bills.

    The bill is also larded up with provisions that will make infrastructure projects more costly for taxpayers. That matters, of course, because if you inflate the cost of building a bridge and you have a fixed amount of money to spend on new bridges, you'll get fewer bridges.

    For example, the bill's "Buy American" provision is nothing more than performative patriotism and a handout to politically powerful unions. By mandating that materials used in road, bridge, and rail projects come primarily from the United States, Congress will effectively hike prices and engage in arbitrary protectionism. Just ask the currently hobbled Washington, D.C., metro system how well those laws work.

    These are not the people you want to control your clocks! (Sorry, did I say I was done ranting about DST? I guess I lied.)