Tired of the biannual clock-setting jiggery-pokery? Good news: There's a bill before Congress to lock us into daylight saving time.

It's called the "Sunshine Protection Act." Ridiculous name, but it sounds good. What sort of a monster opposes the protection of sunshine? I suppose you want eternal night blanketing the nation like an ocean of tar? What about the children? They need vitamin D. Why do you hate children?

This is an ancient debate. Daylight saving time goes back to the Romans, you know. It was Emperor Nero who decreed himself more powerful than the sun and proved it by resetting the sundials twice a year. The servants had to turn the heavy stone objects in the Forum; many died when they toppled over. The origin of the term "spring forward, fall back" comes from the slaves who were attempting to get out of the way.

DST fell out of favor in the reign of Ignoblus, who was Emperor for two weeks in 427 CE (also known as "the Year of 32 Emperors). He forgot to reset the sundials, slept in and was stabbed in his bed by Visigoths who got up earlier, had a nice breakfast, and had no excuse for missing church.

In the modern era, we've had DST since 1918. Your opinion on the matter depends on whether you're the grim, flinty sort who wakes at 5 a.m. and sits at the kitchen table drumming your fingers, scowling at the window, waiting for the sun to come up, or you like the sweet, ineffable joy of a summer night, which repays our time in the cold jail of winter with the intoxicating expanse of a long summer's eve.

Did I slant that description enough to indicate my preference? Possibly.

One of the advantages of the Photon Defense Act act would be to eliminate the term "daylight saving." Good. It never made sense, anyway. What do they do with the saved daylight? If it were deposited in an interest-bearing account, we would have hundreds of thousands of hours of daylight saved up by now, ready to spend when we really need it. Except there would be a run on the bank in January, and some George Bailey "It's a Wonderful Life" type would have to calm down everyone.

"Your daylight isn't here in the Building and Gloam, it's in his house. And his! It's the night light in old Pop Wither's place! It's the fridge bulb in the Widder Abnernathy kitchen!"

At least the modern experience with DST is easier now. When I was growing up, there were three clocks in the house, not including the living room clock. (That was for company, so we didn't look at it.) Changing the clocks was easy — you whirred the knob on the back ahead. Precision was not important, except on the ubiquitous wood-grained plastic clock-radio with numbers that clicked over like railroad station arrival-and-departure boards. It took a bit more finesse. Now? The internet sets my doorbell timestamp.

We may lament losing an hour, but it's a statement of faith in the future. Time is always running through our fingers like the sand of an hourglass, and it's nice to think that the expenditure of a Sunday morning hour will be repaid down the road. We will get that hour back.

People always say, "There's an hour of my life I'll never get back" after they watch a bad TV show. Well, if you watch it today, you will get it back in the fall.

james.lileks@startribune.com