Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, July 22, 2005

Self-Deception

From AP: Lawmakers from the House and Senate agreed Thursday to include a provision - part of a larger energy bill - that would start daylight-saving time three weeks earlier, the second Sunday in March, and end it a week later, the first Sunday of November

As it stands, there is a week in April and October each year that is terribly inconvenient for travelers because we are on daylight savings time, but Europe and most of the rest of the northern hemisphere is not. Now this adds a whole extra month. The travel industry, and every industry that has to coordinate across continents, is extremely upset, for good reason.

I'm annoyed for another reason. I don't like daylight savings time. I advocate changing work schedules in the summer for sure, but there is no reason to do so, but pretend we're not! To quote the movie Lawrence of Arabia, "A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it." Changing our clocks but pretending that we haven't is a form of self-deception that, I believe, promotes dishonesty generally. There's a connection between lying about what time it is and the little signs at Costco that say they are checking your receipt "to ensure you are not overcharged and received all the items you paid for" rather than "to see if you are stealing." Or the little voice that says your phonecall to Comcast is being recorded "to ensure quality service" rather than "to see if our agents are making personal calls." Or the doublespeak we hear all the time, from "downsizing" (taking away people's livelihood) to every "convenience fee" charged by your bank. I grew up in Arizona where we did not participate in the daylight savings silliness, and it was fine. We had enough daylight, by the way. It would be a good beginning of a return of honesty to public life to abolish the daylight savings system and just say that starting around April 1 each year, we should all get to work and leave an hour earlier. It also would increase environmental awareness. Where people suffer under daylight savings time, they become estranged from nature. Time changes suddenly and the sun arrives or disappears by fiat. I remember the days gradually getting later, 2-3 minutes longer each day, from December through June. Then back again. There was a rhythm to life. The sun was always highest at noon. You could use a sundial. Those who labor under daylight savings time don't realize how it subtly, but decisively, disconnects them from living IN the world to living, well, around or in spite of it.

Then we could also choose to participate or not, instead of mandatorily being jetlagged in April, even if you like the cooler weather after the sun has gone down. Worse, in some parts of the country, daylight savings is a positive hazard. Traffic studies show that driving in twilight is the most dangerous time. In many places, DST puts the rush hour at twilight for almost twice as long. In the north, it means driving in the dark or twilight in the morning towards the end and beginning of the period, when that would never happen.

It's also just getting loony. Under the new plan, "standard" time will exist for just over 4 months, and "daylight" time for nearly 8. Shall we just start saying "short winter time" instead? Maybe it's time just permanently advance our clocks by an hour. The Russians do that. But then advance yet another hour for 6 months of the year. That's the next step.

Next rant: the metric system and other evils...

11 comments:

Dr. Strangelove said...

I agree with your remarks deeply. I believe the culture of deception we must endure daily is destroying our values of honesty and openness. And I think Americans are starving for the truth so badly that they'll believe anyone who speaks with enough conviction.

Remember when Nader was trying to get on the ballot in Michigan in 2004, and the Republicans mobilized to help him? When a reporter asked the chair of the Michigan GOP why they were doing so, he answered smugly that they just believed that voters should have more choices. I couldn't believe it--I wondered what the man could possibly gain by telling a lie that everyone knew was a lie?

And then it hit me: it's because as a society we are choking on falseness. It's gotten so bad that we are now shocked if someone dares to speak plainly. Remember at the second debate when Kerry said that Bush was "intellectually disingenuous." and "Orwellian", and later Bush said Kerry was "just not credible." But neither dared to call the either a "liar" openly--though we knew that's what they meant--because somehow it was bad to be openly critical (but good to try to sneak the criticism in.)

It's part of the whole conservative culture that fosters "passive-agressive" behavior. You try to sneak in little digs at someone in such a way as to retain "plausible deniability" if your victim should directly confront you about what you are doing. In fact, you can even act insulted!

Conservative culture rewards you for supressing your emotions and your honesty. How many times have you heard someone say "I'm not mad" when they clearly are? How many times have you heard a someone passive-aggressively provoke someone else into actually expressing anger, and then watched as that person who honestly confronted the provocateur is the one society blames for causing a scene? Because in conservative-land, it's OK to say really nasty things so long as you do it in a really nice voice.

I remember a friend of a friend relating a story wherein she was being harrassed by a man in a supermarket. This woman proudly said that she "didn't get mad" (yeah, right!) and instead she said with a blissful fake smile, "God Bless You!" She continued to offer him her insincere blessing as she got into her car and drove off. She was actually proud of this. She had turned a blessing into a passive-aggressive weapon, lying before herself and her God--and she was proud of it. Is nothing sacred to these people?

U2's dark song "Running to Stand Still" describes the suffocating effect of this culture beautifuly: "You got to cry without weeping, Talk without speaking, Scream without raising your voice..."

The culture of deception is a spiritual poison that conservative evangelicals are force-feeding America. And we're choking on it.

[Incidentally, I support Daylight Savings Time and the Metric system, but somehow those don't quite provoke the passion...]

Anonymous said...

Jesus' admonition to "turn the other cheek" is widely misunderstood. It comes in the same passage where he urges that if a soldier makes you carry his pack for a mile, do so for another mile also. The reason for this latter bit of advice, in historical context, seems to be that Roman soldiers were allowed to make ordinary people work for them, but only so much. A Roman soldier could only ask you to carry his goods for a mile. So carry them for two miles and get him in trouble, was the suggestion. Also, surprise the bully, which might jar him out of bad behavior. Similarly, turning the other cheek an act of defiance and courage - not a request to be further victimized. The bully wants anger, and is surprised. A common thread to these statements also is a desire to treat the bully as a human being with a range of possible emotional and intellectual responses, not just a Bad Person. These statements are then followed by the command to love your enemies, with an added jab: (to paraphrase) if you love your friends and family only, why is that to your credit? - even bad people do that.

Worth thinking about when people think it interesting or ironic that people who act badly, even horribly, are often nice to their his kids.

The fact that Gandhi urged similar ideas from a different cultural background is, in my opinion, further evidence that this is a correct reading. Sure, this is only one interpretation, but I suggest it hangs more closely with the rest of the gospels than the interpretation that would have Jesus urging us to take abuse. Certainly, a Christian should not think that it is spiritually valuable to seethe inside but give a fake smile.

Of course, the religious right gets this wrong because they are interested in the simpleminded literalism of a half-educated Southern Baptist with a Victorian mindset.

The gospels are, humorously enough, replete with questions by puzzled disciples, "what does that mean?" and subsequent comments that they still did not get it. They don't get away with their first-blush understanding, and they repeatedly admit when they are confused. A good thought for the reader of any text, but particularly ones said to be of spiritual worth.
 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Geez, you're a cranky old man.

But I don't like the new change either. 

// posted by Bell Curve

Anonymous said...

Hey, I think we should have TWO hours of daylight saving time! Wouldn't that be even better? And we should have it year round! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Gee, guys, why not tell us what is really bugging you two. It can't really be DTS. Please, release! Come into union with the true reasons for your anger. (Wink, Wink)

As for DLS, I think there are many finer examples of lying and getting disconnected from nature (such as indoor plumbing, central air conditioning, SUVs, antibacterial soap, etc) than DLS.

Marx might say it was yet another way to suppress the worker, forcing him to work more, like hens in an industrial egg farm. It's the violence inherent in the system. (Smile.)

DLS stinks. But you guys are totally missing the point about what the real lie is. The real lie is that DLS saves energy. That was simply a way to avoid the really hard measures that we have to take in order to rationalize energy policy. If you really want to conserve energy, pass CAFE standards, encourage developers to install solar panels (there are tons of office buildings with exposed roofs that could host solar panels and possibly sell the excess energy to the local power companies!) and go back to public owned and operated utility companies rather than this privatization crap. Some things are public goods that are too vital for the markets to operate. Oh, and quit letting secret meetings with Texas oil men determine energy policy. Let's attack the right thing, here guys.
 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

Speaking of public utilities, did you guys all notice that during the California power shortage (manufactured by Enron and friends), the only city that wasn't hit by rolling black outs was Los Angeles because they still had a public power company (DWP). In fact, LA was actually SELLING power to the rest of the state during the crisis.

This fall, my new home town is going to be voting on buying the private electricity utility and having the city run it. The private utility is passing out leaflets about how the sky will fall if we do it. I'm going to tell everyone here about what happened in California. Oh, and this summer, my university gets told to shut off the AC after 1pm (i.e. when the temp is actually going up over 100), to "save energy." Bull! We're doing it because the private utility under provides power by keeping power stations off line and not building new stations despite significant recent population/economic growth in our area.

Oh, and US West, I think you are right. This rant about DLS is masking some deeper neurosis in these guys. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Of course, I really am steamed about Daylight Savings Time (no matter what USWest says). And on this economically-minded blog, nobody cares a whit about the alienation from nature imposed by screwing with the clocks. Pity.

USWest is absolutely right that it is criminal to sell this as an energy conservation measure, and thereby avoid taking real action. Has anyone done the math as to what sort of energy would be saved by 4 weeks more of daylight time?

Check with these bold people  on the human cost of daylight savings time.*

To quote:
[A] study of traffic accidents throughout Canada in 1991 and 1992 by Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia before, during, and immediately after the so-called "spring forward" when DST begins in April. Alarmingly, he found an eight percent jump in traffic accidents on the Monday after clocks are moved ahead. He attributes the jump to the lost hour of sleep. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Coren explained, "These data show that small changes in the amount of sleep that people get can have major consequences in everyday activities." He undertook the study as a follow up to research showing that even an hour's change can disrupt sleep patterns and "persist for up to five days after each time shift." Other observers attribute the huge spike in accidents on the first Monday of DST to the sudden change in the amount of light during driving times. Regardless of the reason, there is no denying that changing our clocks has a significant cost in human lives."

*Of course, these people have an equally insane proposal to shift the USA to two time zones (basically, make mountain time same as pacific, and eastern same as central, so that in the plains there is a 2-hour border). Goes to show you that I'm not the biggest crank in the bunch.

My creed: Abolish Daylight Time: Just Leave Work Early! 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

AHA! LTG is worried about his entfremdung from his species being! No wonder he's so upset!

But I'm sure your personal zeitgeist will improve in about two weeks! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Hey, Hawaii does not have DST either. So I can work out my Entfremdung in style. 

// posted by LTG

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