Tuesday, November 01, 2011

tuesdays not in turkmenistan: daylight savings

As I am not in Turkmenistan, this seems like an opportune time for this non-Turkmen story. Also, since it's my blog, I can pretty much do whatever I want. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has decided to cancel the end of daylight saving time in Russia which was supposed to take place this past Sunday in Russia. While you may have read about this today or possibly yesterday, thanks to work, I received news of this bit of awesomeness last week since those precious conference calls are oh so important to dial into on time.

What makes this cancellation interesting is that Medvedev has not cancelled daylight saving time, but that his action actually extends DST to be year round. What some people may not realize since standard DST in the U.S. occupies almost 8 months out of the year is that the summer months (plus several more) are actually the shifted months. Standard time is what happens from November to March, while the nearly 8 months in the middle of the year are actually what we have finagled into changing for various reasons. Thus, in essence, Medvedev has permanently shifted Russian time zones by an hour.

This reveals how arbitrarily that time can be treated. This is perhaps why many military actions, especially those that are internationally coordinated, reference Zulu time to avoid confusion. And while this is not a launching point for a discussion of relativity and faster than light neutrinos (which are most likely the byproduct of an improper setup delay), it is a launching point for a trip through memory lane. Specifically, to high school freshman year English class, World Literature and the illustrious One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich which is what I immediately thought of when I first saw the work e-mail announcing this change. For some reason, one of the few details of that novel that has stayed with me for the past 15 years is this exchange between our protagonist Ivan Denisovich and another prisoner:
“Since then it’s been decreed that the sun is highest at one o’clock.”
“Who decreed that?”
“The Soviet government.”

The quote makes it seem so suitable for Russia to cancel the end of day light saving time. Of course, nine different time zones currently span Russia so it's not exactly a one size fits all kind of place. Officially, the change, or lack thereof, was made to help the people of Russia who apparently see a spike in the number of heart attacks and suicides when the clocks are changed. However, without proper preparation, many electronic devices that either cannot be updated or did not receive a software patch in time fell back an hour like they had been designed. One must wonder how many people ended up an hour late for something the next day and how many heart attacks that caused.


bathtub reglazing manhattan said...

Its a nice step.Day light saving phenomenon is followed all over the world.It really inspires a feeling of sense of responsibility and helps in uninterrupted supply of electricity to industry.

commercial roofers nj said...

I didn't get the idea of day light saving being related to heart attack cases.Daylight is something which should be encouraged as it is beneficial for economy.It also encourages public to make maximum use of daylight.A step worthy of appreciation.