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Opinion

What the Devil won't tell you

Arizona faces temporal choice as Daylight Saving Time sees permanent high noon

Time marches on: Random crankiness about Soros, Sinema & Rubio

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ahisgett/Flickr

So I ate a burger, fell asleep, woke up and suddenly the U.S. Senate is messing with the very nature of time itself.

Please stop doing that.

Seems Sen. Marco Rubio, the senior Florida Man in the U.S. Senate, has been pushing this idea for more than a year. He’s got numerous concerns, including scientific inquiries discussing public health and findings that depression goes up during the winter, when Daylight Saving Time isn't in effect.

Really? There are so many places to go, here.

Rubio is citing the same type of medical research his party rejects when it comes to a virus on its way to killing 1 million Americans. That’s just fake news and liberal claptrap, when it comes to things that are proven to save lives. Other medical experts say that it would be healthier to lose DST and stick with good ol' regular standard time, because it better aligns with our circadian rhythms. More light later in the evening isn't necessarily healthier.

Also, the last people who should be messing with the fabric of space-time, redrawing maps and attempting to change the contours of the globe, are the people who have made a regularly scheduled suicide pact with the debt ceiling.

And since when does Marco Rubio get what he wants? Is this why Sen. Kyrsten Sinema won’t kill the filibuster? To retain the comity among the upper chamber so they can decide about how we all set our clocks? 

That may be. Sinema was presiding over the Senate at the time and was overheard saying "Ooh, I love it" and punctuated the measure's passage with a "Yes!"

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Are you blankety-blanking me? I'm going to need a DNA sample and an edelweiss from the top of the Alps in order to vote, and that's fine with her. Asking people to keep "spring forward, fall back" straight is her bridge too far?

Oh God, it's up to our Leg

There's another issue that Sinema was too giddy to appreciate but should have been on top of from the git-go.

Arizona's law on the matter — why we don't change to DST along with everybody else, and then fall back again later — is that in our state we have enshrined an unchanging offset from what used to be called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT — what's now called UTC, for Universal Time Coordinated). Basically, we peg our clocks in Tucson according to the standard time in London:

ARS 1-242:

A. The standard time in Arizona shall be the solar time of the one hundred fifth meridian west of Greenwich, commonly known as standard mountain time.

B. This section shall not be construed to affect the standard time established by United States law governing the movements of common carriers engaged in interstate commerce or the time for performance of an act by an officer or department of the United States, as established by a statute, lawful order, rule or regulation of the United States or an agency thereof.

C. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary by the United States government relating to adoption of daylight saving time by all of the states, the state of Arizona elects to reject such time and elects to continue in force the terms of subsection A, relating to standard time in Arizona.

D. The rejection of daylight saving time as provided for in this section may be changed by future legislative action.

In redefining what "standard time" means across the country, this bill in Congress recognizes that opt-out, and will allow us (and Hawaii) to continue to do so. But we'll have to make a choice in the matter. Rather, our Legislature will. Do we want to be in the Mountain Time Zone, along with our neighbors New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, and bump our clocks ahead by an hour, permanently? Or do we want to be in that time zone, but not change our clocks, and de facto be in the Pacific Time Zone, with our clocks the same as they are in Los Angeles (as they are right now)?

For 99 percent of lawmaking bodies in the world, this wouldn't be a big deal. Arizona doesn't need more late-afternoon sunlight beating down in July.

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Under the move cheered by Sinema, rather than the sun setting at 7:34 p.m. on July 4, it would set at 8:34 p.m. Twilight would last until 10:13 p.m. that day. And the sun would peak at 1:28 p.m.

I've always assumed the people who said "don't change our clocks" in Arizona had a good reason for doing it. So I think we should keep on not doing that, for whatever those reasons might be. Including how we anticipate the sun going down, and thermometers easing up, on those blazing July and August days.

But this Legislature? Arizona's Legislature? 

Watch: They will refuse to keep our clocks the same, and basically move time zones, because they won't want to be a part of "The Left Coast" and its "Woke Standard Time."

I won't put it past our Old West-fetishizing transplants from Michigan and Iowa who are now lawmakers in Phoenix to include a typo that puts high noon somewhere around 28 o'clock. 

God help us on Nov. 5, 2023, when the law would take effect.

Since Sinema couldn't be bothered, maybe someone in the Arizona delegation to the House of Representatives could insert a bit of language that goes "for the purposes of subsection whatever, Arizona needs to change absolutely nothing to stay as it is, and will never be in the same time zone as San Francisco even if the clocks read the same."

Otherwise we are, as ever, at the mercy of 90 people whom I don't trust to write the text of a "STOP" sign.

It could have been worse. Had Congress done what the Beltway media reported and made “daylight saving time permanent,” then Arizona would have existed in a legal timeless void forever trying to peg its clocks to hours and minutes that no longer exist. 

Arizona can't, by law, be a part of Daylight Saving Time and that's all we would have had, if CNN's coverage had been the actual story. 

The House still has to pass this measure — which the other chamber OKed just a day after senators lost an hour of sleep in the annual "spring ahead" — and there might be the votes to do it. President Joe Biden will sign anything bipartisan, so it's a good bet that we will see the last of the befuddling "Arizona Time."

Rewarding bad behavior

Little Marco can sometimes be a reasonable human being before flipping right back into a Trump zombie.

For four months, Rubio held up President Joe Bidens’ nominated ambassador to China because Rubio disagreed with his foreign policy. The party that disagrees with Rubio just won an election, so he can sit down until the Republicans steal the next one fair and square.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell would never have allowed a Democrat to pass something like this with unanimous consent — especially not one facing a tough re-election. 

Do Democrats think they get points from the public by playing nice? No. The public just assumes Republicans must be reasonable and Democrats too extreme if the floor leaders treat them accordingly.

Chuck Schumer controls the Senate floor agenda and he's being wet linguini again. “Gosh, golly. Let’s just get along! Will pass your bill Sen. Rubio as you come at us with a meat axe." 

I’m not saying Democrats and Republicans should refuse to work together but if Democrats are the mommy party, it’s time for Ma to start laying down what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

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You don’t get to seek and destroy democracy in America while supporting a virus that's causing a megadeath pandemic and then seem reasonable in my book.

I should point out that Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is a co-sponsor. I usually like him but he's earning the name "Sheldon" this week. Nobody is afraid of a Sheldon from Rhode Island.

Merits shmerits 

The merits of the bill? I suppose if you live in the northeast and are a night person, this change makes sense.

People could do more stuff in the afternoon and into the evening during the winter, rather than having the sun set before Rush Hour.

There’s a downside to never falling back, especially for northerners. It sucks waking up when it’s dark out. It sucks2 waking up in the dark when it’s cold.

The feds tried something similar in 1974 and it went over like 18 and a half minutes of an erased tape.

I remember walking to Brooks Hill Elementary School at 43.09 degrees north latitude and it was pitch black. The kids were all walking to school with "Hot Dot" reflective stickers and basically Krylon-ed in pastels. No one could see us.

I still remember how pissed our parents were that their kids were walking to school in the dark. 

Today, spotting kids toddling off to school won’t be a problem. No one lets their kids walk to school, lest they face the wrath of a society certain that any child outside unsupervised will fall victim a sex predator in 4.3 seconds. That's another column.

But, speaking of serious issues, I remember being a kid in the Eastern Time Zone realizing that other kids in other places got to watch an extra hour of TV shows every night. That was effed up.

One thing to remember is that no legislation passed by Congress or signed by the president will change the amount of solar radiation striking the Earth, or the length of the day (yes, that's true, Congresswoman Greene of Georgia).

No matter how deeply lawmakers believe they have the power to alter the fabric of time itself, the bill Rubio has been pushing doesn’t make the day longer. All it does is change when on the clock we experience it.

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So I guess it depends on how you view light and dark.

Good night

In a weird way, I see moving the clock forward an hour as oddly pro-night person. As a card-carrying night person, I can appreciate that. 

My kind can now sleep later and still be up with the sun, which has a strange moral imperative attached to it. It’s been said “nothing good happens after midnight,” to which I say “everything happens after midnight.” People just sleep through different parts of it.

The canonical hours have imparted on our collective conscience the notion of nocturnal witchery. See, there's a blank spot in the prayer schedule between the “Midnight Hours” and the “Matins,” held at daybreak.

Daybreak may be extended an hour if S. 623 becomes law. Huuuuuuuuhhh! Wait! Area code "623" is an Arizona area code and Arizona can exempt itself from Rubio's bill ... wwwoooowwww ... Alex Jones is right. George Soros is behind everything. I knew the big hand and little hand were false flags.

Seriously random

Yes, there's an upside and a rationale for it. The sun sets later. Had the Congress killed Daylight Savings Time in the 1980s, my friends and I could have finished some epic snow football games. Those contests got short-circuited when the sun set an hour and half before the evening news started. 

I just don’t remember it being an atrocity.

So I'm back and forth on it.

Someone pointed out to me that this means somehow the whole country will temporally leap permanently forward on the planet and some of the mid-Atlantic will just vanish. The East Coast will now be four hours from London, while it's always been five. It also means we are now an hour closer to Moscow. So Putin’s right. We are coming for him — in one dimension, at least.

I do think Congress could have found a better way to mark "Sunshine Week," as it pertains to open government. Hot mics are as good as we're going to get I guess.

The Sunshine Bill (as they are calling it), does make me ponder ever so briefly about the book I thought would be fun to write about the other history of time. How humanity has evolved from saying "look, it's a half-shadow past the stick" to "you were 15 seconds late Zooming in from Oslo."

This whole coordinated time zone concept is really new in human history. Time zones were standardized as the railroads grew in the late 1800s. Before that, it was all “we’ll get there when we get there” and time was a relative local concept. Noon was when the sun was highest in the sky.

I mean, Afghanistan’s time zone is set to :30. And we didn’t think that country would be a bit ornery? Never fight a war with a people who won't standardize their time to the top of the hour.

Metallica sang it: “Time marches on,” no matter how we set our clocks or our Legislature.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years, and as a communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.


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