Tag Archives: Summer

The New Year Sucks Part One: An Arbitrary Date

Most of our calendars and time measurements are based off obvious natural phenomenon: the time it takes the Earth to rotate once is called a day while the month is roughly based off the moons orbital period (29.5 days). There are also some random time periods like the week having 7 days for some reason (from the “seven planets” apparently), there being 12 months, and a day having 24 hours, but the year is one of the obvious ones. The year is just the time it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun and serves as a pretty good value for a “long timescale”. The year also corresponds nicely to the Earth rotating about 365 times which makes perfect sense that the year has 365 days in it. Even if things do get silly by realizing you need to have orbited the sun 21 times before you can drink ethanol, and some movies require you to orbit the sun 17 times before you can see them, I don’t really see a better way to measure this arbitrary period of time outside of the Earth zipping once around the sun.

I suppose my gripe with the year is the random time where we choose to consider it “starting”: the New Year. Obviously the Earth’s orbit requires you to specify something as the start so we all can be on the same page with regards to dates and calendars and shit, but January 1st seems really damn arbitrary. Consider the fact that the Earth’s orbit already offers a few “special” points that would make better sense for the “start” of a new orbit, and hence a new year.

And we’re already familiar with them. We all know that the days are longer in the summer and shorter in the winter (confirming my northern hemisphere bias) and this is due to the Earth’s axial tilt. Since the time of day varies by season these orbital points would make perfect sense to consider as the  “start” of the a new year. There is a point where the Earth is most tilted towards the sun and we call this the summer solstice: the first day of summer. This is the longest day of the year for us northern hemisphere folks. There is an opposite point on the shortest day of the year called the winter solstice that serves as the first day of winter. From this point on the daytime length becomes longer. And in between these two days are the two equinoxes where day and night are of equal length: these serve as the first day of autumn and spring.

Earth's Orbit
I made a picture.

It would make sense to plop the new year on one of these important orbital locations and adds a sort of whimsical touch onto what a year really is. I really like the idea of starting the year on the winter solstice as it does seem like a new beginning with the days getting longer. The winter solstice is also around December 20th or 21st and would only make the official start of the year a week and a half earlier from the current which isn’t a big deal.

What adds another layer of frustration to this is the fact that our calendar was started by the Romans who were very aware of equinoxes and solstices. Hell, the Greeks before them knew that the Earth was round and loved science and math. Being the Romans and basically making the calendar, why not plop the new year on one of those dates? They didn’t and you can read about the detail by Googling it if you want.

year
From here. This is a chart of how long the days are at whatever latitude you live at. This chart also shows where the equinoxes and solstices occur and how they correspond to day length. And as you can see, January 1st is nothing special at all.

Obviously we will never “move” New Years. We are set in stone with our lame ass calendar. In our modern synchronized world it would be impossibly complex to move the start of the new year to another day even if it is close and “makes more sense”. It would involve a massive amount of adjusting and coordinating and would lead to quite a few headaches with regards to birthdays and anniversaries. Like I realize this is something that will never actually occur but it’d be nice having the new year on some remarkable point in the Earth’s orbit. January first doesn’t mean shit in the Earth’s orbit; it’s just some random ass point chosen to be the beginning of the year. This makes such an “important” date seem rather boring and unimportant. This helps play into another gripe I have with New Years: people are fucking stupid about it.

Spring Ahead is Awesome, Fall Behind Sucks

You better make sure you set your damn clocks back otherwise you’re going to have a pretty screwy Sunday ahead of you. The one nice thing about Daylight Savings Time (DST from here on out so I don’t have to type it over and over) is that it occurs on a Sunday; if that shit went down on a weekday at least 35% of the workforce would show up early/late to work depending on which direction the clocks are moving. Anyways, it’s that time of year again to set the clocks ahead which means you’re going to get one hour less sleep than you usually get. Have fun with that, I’ll be sleeping in anyways. We all know the drill by now: set the clocks ahead in the spring and back an hour in the fall. (Spring ahead and fall behind if you forget which way the clocks are moving) Thanks to this, we get an extra hour of daylight in the evening (by losing an hour in the morning), and in the winter there is no daylight whatsoever and everyone is massively depressed, pale, and sickly. Winter sucks enough so why make it suck even more?

A key point I want to make is that we are on DST in the summer; DST begins when we set the clocks ahead in the spring and ends in the autumn when me move them back. So while I’m complaining about DST Sucking, I’m really complaining about changing the damn clocks year after year and the fact that DST has to end; I actually like being an hour ahead and you should too unless you’re a damn vampire. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just set the clocks ahead an hour and just leave it? That sounds like a fantastic idea because DST is Awesome and changing the clocks back in the fall Sucks. At the very least, it’d be lazy and hassle-free.

A Quick History Lesson

Everything Sucks isn’t supposed to be a history class, and if you really want to learn more about DST I’m sure you can figure out how to do a proper internet search. This site is all about complaining and whining. But I’ll give a quick, very brief rundown of why we have DST in the first place. Something about Benjamin Franklin and the French a long time ago. Then the Germans apparently started it during World War One in an attempt to save coal or something. The allies then copied the Germans because of some reason or whatever. Maybe they were upset because the Germans were saving so much coal? I don’t know. But after the war, DST sort of disappeared. Then, when the Germans decided to start another World War (oh, those Germans…), DST was resurrected for (probably) the same reasons that it was during WWI. Once again, after the war, DST was killed and banished for good and we never have to worry about it.

Lol no. Gotcha.

The US enacted DST nationwide in 1966 for whatever-the-fuck reason. Apparently the railroads didn’t like a bunch of local areas having whatever time they felt like–and that makes sense–so some national standard was needed. Currently the only states that don’t play along with DST are Arizona and Hawaii. Arizona is hot and if the daylight is longer people run their air conditioners longer and waste energy. Okay, and Hawaii is close to the equator so they really don’t know about these “shorter winter days” that us continental Americans are aware of. Curiously, Alaska hates DST because of the opposite reason: they’re close to the North Pole. In the summer it’s daylight a lot and in the winter the sun doesn’t exist, so moving the clocks an hour ahead/back is pointless. But apparently they still officially use DST? *shrug*

DST is Awesome, Non-DST Sucks

There are some supposed benefits to DST: lower energy usage, lower traffic accidents, reduced violent crimes, and even improvements in health thanks to people being outside longer. Even though these sound good, in many cases the effects are pretty damn small and/or debateable. Energy usage, for example, is a pretty complicated matter and just because the day is longer you can’t assume that power usage will be lower (like the example from Arizona earlier). But who cares? You don’t need hard data to back up the fact that the longer days are nicer, just think about it. In the summer you have all the time in the world to do whatever the hell you want outside: shopping, bike riding, sports, hiking, yard work, car rides, picnics, and many other things. I remember as a kid playing outside seemingly forever in the summer with the extended DST hours. It was amazing. Sure you lose an hour in the morning, but who the hell cares? I might not be a morning person, and I don’t see who the hell can actually be a morning person, so I might be a little biased. But those never ending summer days at the expense of an hour later of sunrise? Sounds like a good tradeoff to me.

And don’t even get me started on winter. The sun sets so damn early it’s insane. Like I said, winter sucks enough already with being cold and with the shorter days, so why would we want to set the clocks back and have sunset even earlier? Fuck that. We need that extra hour of daylight in the winter so we all don’t succumb to seasonal affective disorder and kill ourselves in depression. Our bodies’ vitamin D supply requires that extra hour of light! Some people like to point out that the poor school kids would be getting up and out of the house in the dark but that’s no reason to hate on DST; the school days start at a ridiculously early time and should be moved later anyways (maybe a future blog post?). Farmers also like their standard, non-DST time because they can get up and moving naturally with the sun. But so what? We’re not an agrarian society anymore so they can start work an hour later. Sorry farmers, no hard feelings….

So DST sucks. Well, DST itself doesn’t suck because that’s the reason we can actually do shit in the summer evenings thanks to the endless daylight. DST sucks because it ends in the fall and we have to change the damn clocks back an hour. Even though you “get an extra hour of sleep,” who cares? It’s then going to be dark and the sun will set around 4 or 5 p.m., people working that 9-5 shift won’t see the sun after work, and everyone is depressed and lacking vitamin D. These time changes also jack with people’s schedules and we all need a week or so to properly adjust to the new daylight times. And, once again, at the very least it’s a chore and is something else sort of pointless to worry about: “Oh! I gotta remember to set my clocks tonight! Hurrdurr!” DST sucks, but only because we have to end it in the fall. Let’s be lazy and just leave the damn clocks ahead an hour and roll with it.