Sunday, 29 March 2009

An American suggested waking the French by firing cannons at sunrise!!

Dear Mr Postman .. are you sure this is going to be about Daylight Saving?! Being woken up by cannons seems a little unnecessary! You do titillate us with your descriptions ...

Benjamin Franklin when he was American envoy to France published in 1784 anonymously what he thought was a positive letter! - suggesting that the French could make a few adjustments to their life .. like tax shutters, ration candle supply, and wake the public up by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise!

Franklin, remember, was the author of the proverb "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise". In those days late 18th Century Europe did not keep accurate schedules and standardised times were unknown and not considered. The invention of the steam engine and railways in the next fifty years brought about the need for a more accurate railway timetable.

William Willett, an English builder and great sportsman, in 1905 realised that Londoners were sleeping through part of the summer day, and as he disliked cutting his golf round short at dusk, proposed that clocks were advanced during the summer months.

Willett continued, until his death in 1915, to lobby for Daylight Saving Time (DST) to be accepted .. however in 1916, Germany, to save coal in winter, was the first to adopt his proposal, followed soon after by England, other countries, Russia and ultimately the United states in 1918.

The practice is still controversial and continues to vex governments. Adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports and other activities, but causes problems for farming, entertainment and other occuaptions tied to the sun. Additionally the clock adjustments may be automatic - but can cause problems with travel schedules, meetings etc ..

Most of the northern hemisphere (ie those in high latitudes) still uses DST, but other areas have either stopped using the practice, or in fact never used it -see link. The United States have had DST or repealed it with a degree of regularity ...

That was the simple bit!! I'd wondered why Summertime wasn't correlated across the world .. it appears that in 2005 legislation was passed in the United States (to be effective in 2007) under the auspices of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 whereby the dates changed .. meaning this year the UK and the States were out of synch for three weeks.

Worse though are the difficulties this causes computer programmers to deal with these changing times, apart from the rest of the world trading or working with areas of the States. Also it's not applicable throughout the States. There are other adjustments in the rest of the world .. no wonder humans were born with brains! - we need them to keep up with these human devised time keeping quirks .. I'm just pleased I have a few clocks to adjust!!

Well Mr Postman - that letter opened a can of worms I wasn't expecting to read about .. but it's interesting as there are always so many other aspects that need to be taken into account ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters


Unknown said...

Topical post especially after 'earth hour' recently...why can't we just have the Northern lights anyway? ;-)

Congrats by the way - you've won a flower smeller badge in recognition of your blog and your contributions to helping others smell the flowers!

The post is half way down the homepage and congrats again,

Jim & all at GO@ Smell the flowers

Peter Baca said...


Very enlightening post concerning Day Light Savings time! Apparently, Ben Franklin was stirring up the pot on the other side of the pond.

Thanks for your entertaining post!

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jim ..thanks for my flower smeller badge - delighted to collect it .. will do later tonight.

Your comment worked this time - thanks for coming back ..

The Northern Lights are fantastic .. I've put a Fire Rainbow poster up in my Ma's room .. it's magic ..

Thanks for visiting my blog .. hope to see you here again ..
All the best - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. I know it's amazing how people got around even 225 years ago .. - I like your analogy of stirring the pot ..

Thanks again .. Daylight Saving was somewhat more complicated than I realised!! Still at least I learnt something ..

Thanks for commenting - Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Unknown said...

Cool idea with the poster in your Ma's room...

sending the healing vibes over from Doo-bye!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jim .. thanks for your thoughts - we have Victoria Falls and the Namib Desert on the ceiling over her bed .. and I'm about to swap the Namib for Godrevy Lighthouse in St Ives Bay when we get from the hospital.

I think my next post might be lighthouses ..

Thanks for your comment - much appreciated & we'll accept the healing vibes from Doo-bye!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Unknown said...

Hi Hillary, Interesting article. Thank you for your sharing me history of DST. Japan once tried to adopt DST and stopped it, since people suffered from longer working hours than regular time. Workers did not go home when outside was still bright. But, it does make sense for high altitude countries.

Thanks, again.
Shaw Funami
Fill the Missing Link

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shaw -thanks for coming by. Yes I gather Japan tried Daylight Saving .. but I was interested in the high altitude countries.

Thank you and your Japanese additions are interesting ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Believe Achieve - Hugo and Roxanne said...

Hi Hilary,

Had no idea DST was so controversial, but now I can see why. :-)
"Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise". Hmmmm....seems lately I've been going to bed later and later. But a wise one shouldn't end their day until all the work is done right? Just my thoughts. :-)

Thank you for another great post.

Many Blessings....
Roxanne ~ Believe Achieve

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Roxanne .. thanks for visiting again - we have so much interesting history and the way it develops never ceases to amaze me.

You are right a wise one shouldn't end their day til their work is done! I've taken the comment on board!!

Thanks for coming back

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters