TERRE HAUTE — The future is something which everyone reaches at a rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
— C.S. Lewis
And so today we begin a uniquely human period, one we made up to “save” the daylight segment of a concept we also made up to foster the delusion that the span between our birth and death can be ordered.
We’re talking time. Or rather, the fiction of time.
Animals, you may have noticed, do not wear wrist watches. Birds do not keep clocks in their nests or caves. Fish and insects possess no hour glass or sundial. To trees, flowers and weeds, it is never noon, half-past 7 or too late.
And to no living thing on Earth, other than Homo Sapiens, do the notions of standard and daylight saving time exist. Only people spring forward and fall back, not to mention rejigger the closing hours of a bar.
How are you feeling today, by the way? As if it were an hour earlier than your clocks and watch tell you it is? As if it were the same time today as it was this time yesterday?
Or did you forget to turn, punch and twist your various time pieces forward 60 minutes because the federal government and the state of Indiana say that is what you must do on March 14, 2010? Do you now feel stupid because you showed up at church at the usual hour, but everyone else was coming out of the building?
Clocks slay time … time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
— William Faulkner
Not surprising with a uniquely human fiction, we have invested much energy and almost infinite tinkering in time. From ancient eras until now, “time” is whatever a given authority says it is. Never mind the position of the sun or our place under it. If we want to — and apparently humans want to very much — we can add and subtract time, bend it, turn it upside down, freeze it, make it disappear or increase its size.
For example: On the date we in the United States spring forward — lately, the second Sunday in March — the “day” is 23 hours long. In the autumn, when we fall back — lately, the first Sunday in November — the “day” is 25 hours long.
Unless, of course, we live in most of Arizona or Hawaii, where springing and falling are left to plants and leaves, and clocks and watches stay where they are.
From 1986 to 2006, when most of Indiana was like Arizona and Hawaii, most of the United States sprang forward the first Sunday of April and fell back the last Sunday of October. Our friends in Europe don’t spring until the last Sunday of March, and they fall the last Sunday of October.
Despite the fact that actual spring — the season — does not end until the solstice on June 21, most Europeans also refer to the hours they keep from March through October as “Summer Time.”
As for multi-millions in Asia and Africa, they are like Arizona and Hawaii; most choose not to save daylight.
Day, n. A period of 24 hours, mostly misspent.
— Ambrose Bierce
Given that time is as old as the first human who made it up, daylight saving time, as we know it, is a brand new phenomenon.
According to historians, the current concept was dreamed up near the turn of the 20th century by men in two separate corners of the world within a few years of one another. One guy, an entomologist in New Zealand, wanted to spend more time in nice weather looking for bugs. The other guy, a home builder in England, wanted to spend more time in nice weather playing golf.
The United States adopted daylight saving time in 1918 and also established official time zones. The time zones stayed, but DST was repealed the following year. For the next half-century, Americans sometimes saved time and sometimes didn’t, or some states did and others didn’t. Then, in 1966, Congress got serious.
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 was passed. Using 15-degree increments along longitudinal lines (more human-made measurements ignored by all flora and fauna), the U.S. Department of Transportation identified eight time zones from the tip of the easternmost United States to the South Pacific U.S. territory of Samoa. (A ninth zone was added 10 years ago to cover Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.)
A 15-degree increment was selected because the Earth rotates about 15 degrees per hour. This never would have worked in ancient Rome, where one of the official “hours” in summer lasted 75 minutes, while the same “hour” in winter lasted only 44 minutes.
Part of the Uniform Time Act of 1966 also mandated that DST springing and DST falling had to be done by an entire state or not at all. That mandate was amended five years later.
The clock talked loud. I threw it away, it scared me what it talked.
— Tillie Olsen
In 2006, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels persuaded the legislature to adopt daylight saving time for every Hoosier, thus dragging the state into the U.S. majority. Many people predicted the bold move would fail. Part of their objection was the accompanying placement of almost all of Indiana in the Eastern time zone.
Folks who care about where the sun is positioned — folks like scientists — pointed out that the center of the natural Central time zone is 90 degrees longitude, which is near Peoria, Ill. The eastern-most border of that zone is Columbus, Ohio, which means all of Indiana belongs, sun-wise, in the Central time zone.
The objections were loud but futile. Time zones and time savings exist primarily for “the convenience of commerce,” as the U.S. Department of Transportation puts it. Commerce won, as it nearly always does.
After a few years and a few bumps, Hoosiers have settled into the spring-forward/fall-back dance. Some people still hate eating dinner when the sun is blasting through their windows, but many more seem to like stretching the light of day toward the 10 o’clock news.
Meanwhile, animals, birds, insects, fish, trees and plants go on about their eternal business, unknowing and uncaring of time saved, spent, wasted, used well or stopped.
Lost yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.
— Horace Mann
Stephanie Salter can be reached at (812) 231-4229 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE — The future is something which everyone reaches at a rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
Editorial: Racing with momentum
The news from the NCAA on Wednesday was very, very good. Terre Haute’s LaVern Gibson Championship Course will host the 2014 and 2016 national cross country championships and the 2017 Great Lakes Regional, one of the feeder regionals for the national championship foot races.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 13, 2013
Let voters speak on marriage ban
High praise for those who help
RONN MOTT: Christmas 2013
Sitting on the front porch in my favorite chair, I began to count the buds and flowers on the Christmas cactus that is on the porch all year. The legend is it will bloom for Christmas and true to the legend this cactus has bloomed consistently around the Christmas season. I counted 40 buds and flowers and I stopped when I reached 40 with more left on the plant. I guess without hesitation that means Christmas is for sure about to arrive.
Editorial: Intriguing option for ISU towers
It’s appropriate that Indiana State University’s Recycling Center on North Ninth Street sits in the shadow of two hulking, well-used, 15-story towers that, if things develop as they might, could themselves be recycled rather than imploded.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 12, 2013
Noteworthy in the news: Another landmark for Pat Rady
A few weeks ago, Pat Rady embarked on his 50th year as a head basketball coach. Last weekend, he punctuated his landmark season at Cloverdale High School in Putnam County with the 724th victory of his stellar career, a mark that makes him the second winningest coach — and tops among active coaches — in Indiana basketball. It’s a remarkable achievement, and he appears to be going strong.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 11, 2013
RONN MOTT: Seeds from the same tree
Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in India before the turn of the 20th Century, went to England to study law and decided to settle in South Africa, and he did for 20 years. His work in South Africa was involved in the right of his Indian neighbors to have equal access to civil rights. He also worked for the indigenous people as well. When the people of India became restive during the early days of World War I, Gandhi came home.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 10, 2013
• Proud of diploma from McLean HS
• Sports could use drone’s eye view
• Another great downtown fest
• ISU’s silence is disappointing
MS. TAKES: Important date passes by without much notice
Recently we were asked to share our memories of the Kennedy assassination. Folks were interviewed for television or radio, or were asked to recall exactly what they were doing when they got word that our president had been murdered.
GUEST EDITORIAL: Lack of vaccinations puts children, community at risk
U.S. vaccination programs appear to have become a victim of their own success. Because many parents have never experienced the effects of childhood diseases such as mumps or measles — let alone polio — they don’t always appreciate the health risks the diseases pose and the continuing need for vaccinations.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 9, 2013
Remove politics from education
Bill Walton, Larry Bird visit Eugene V. Debs Museum
There’s an essay-type question that shows up on history exams, college applications, “Saturday Night Live” skits and quite possibly requests for platinum credit cards.
FLASHPOINT: Dealing with hunger requires less rhetoric, more action
In November, millions of families in Indiana and across the nation saw their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits cut through a planned phase-out of a temporary increase in funding that originally took place during the 2009 recession.
READER FORUM: Dec. 8, 2013
• Diving in to pool project
• A timely review of food basics
• Name-calling shows sad state of our politics
• Republicans their own worst enemy
• Full attack on common sense
EDITORIAL: Refusing to accept injustice, Mandela made world a better place
Injustice seldom ceases easily. Humans rationalize entrenched systems of persecution. Oppressed people or ideas get painted as a danger to the peaceful social order — the status quo. Cast in that image, inequality appears acceptable, even necessary, to the masses.
GUEST EDITORIAL: Congress now free from the threat of too much work
The headline on the Congress-watching newspaper Politico said it all: “Done.”
RONN MOTT: A friend celebrates his 90th
I went to Charlie Fox’s 90th birthday party Sunday last. He was standing greeting people as they came in the door. I never saw him sit down even one time. He looked more like a man celebrating his 60th rather than his 90th.
Editorial: Bring on the ‘Miracle’
For five miraculous years, Terre Haute’s Christmas festival on a Friday night in early December has grown and prospered.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 6, 2013
RONN MOTT: Cigars
Leaving Baesler’s Market the other day, making my round of errands, I started to re-light my cigar. It was left over from the day before and I did not place it in the humidor. It had gotten too dry, so I threw it into my garbage sack asking myself the question, “Why do I do this?” Well, I do it because I enjoy it.
TRIBUNE-STAR EDITORIAL: Changing attitudes demand GOP action
From all indications, the Republican Party’s legislative leadership will punt away in its next session the opportunity to make a good decision on behalf of all Hoosiers about placing a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 5, 2013
• Anarchy is in the ‘tea’ leaves
Editorial: Help us spread holiday cheer
The kind and generous people of the Wabash Valley are called upon often to help those less fortunate. We are proud to live an area where that call never goes unanswered.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 4, 2013
RONN MOTT: Cats, Inc.
I suppose we should give her a cake and a candle, but she would be happier with a handful of “treats” you can find wherever you shop for groceries. I’m talking about the two-year anniversary of the first cat we adopted. If we had known there were going to be more, her name probably would have been different. She was Orange Crush, a small, bedraggled, starving, Golden Tabby female that wandered into our yard a little after Thanksgiving. She had been badly maltreated.
MS. TAKES: Plenty of downsides to tree with candlelight
I had been spinning my wheels over Thanksgiving preparations the other day, so my Best Friend took me out for breakfast — a little luxury I never tire of. Our friend, Bill, stopped by our table to offer holiday felicitations and the conversation turned, as it often does this time of year, to Christmas.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 3, 2013
• Prestige chosen over practicality
• Tea partiers love country, freedom
• Same old clowns
LIZ CIANCONE: Plenty of downsides to tree with candlelight
I had been spinning my wheels over Thanksgiving preparations the other day, so my Best Friend took me out for breakfast — a little luxury I never tire of.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 3, 2013
Prestige chosen over practicality
Tea partiers love country, freedom
Same old clowns
- More Opinion Headlines
- Editorial: Racing with momentum