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Lileks: What time is it? Rank your choices

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS
  • Star Tribune
  • November 2, 2013 - 4:05 PM

Time again for the semiannual fulminations against daylight saving time, made by people who hate long summer nights and want everyone inside at 8 p.m. reading the Good Book by candle.

The critics will point out that no daylight is actually saved, and the government’s promise to give you 1.5 hours of daylight after you turn 65 is not backed up by any national reserves of stored daylight.

One crazy idea in the Quartz website said that the East Coast should go back an hour, the Midwest should do nothing, and the Pacific coast advance an hour, so we’ll have two time zones, period. I mean, that’s ...

Hey, that’s not a bad idea. We would keep long summers. No more calculating Mountain time, which sounds like it should be measured in geological-era terms. What’s the time in Boulder? Well, they’re on Mountain time, so they’re 400 million years behind. Go ahead and call, they should still be up.

I’ll admit it has its annoyances, if you’re a bit … obsessive. By the time you set the last clock in the kitchen the others have already ticked ahead a minute, and you live in that irritating state of imprecision, where the microwave says it’s 10:17 and the stove says it’s 10:18. It’s like a time zone line right down the middle of the kitchen. IT’S LIKE TRYING TO COOK IN TWO STATES.

Then there’s the clock with hands, which never gets it right, but they’re just there to suggest the general vicinity of the correct time. In short, time is always defined loosely in your house. So instead of doing away with daylight savings, how about this: Ranked Choice Time.

Under RCT, you set most of your clocks to the actual time, then set another batch to the time you’d like it to be if it wasn’t really 11 p.m., and a third batch reflecting your tertiary temporal preferences. This way, if there’s not enough consensus in the house that it’s bedtime because it’s a school night, the second time zone would be taken into consideration.

The hours are containers into which we pour the day — arbitrary measurements. What does “7 p.m.” really mean?

Unless you had a restaurant reservation at 7, of course, and you’re there on time and no table’s free. Then it means you want to talk to the manager. Now.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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