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tv   Michael Downing Spring Forward  CSPAN  November 4, 2017 10:00am-11:01am EDT

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lawrence talks about what prior generations thought war was going to look like in the future versus reality. 38 hours of nonfiction books, television for serious readers. >> tomorrow morning at 2:00 a.m. is the end of daylight savings time which means that most americans will turn their clock back one hour. up next michael downing discusses the history of daylight savings time.
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>> his new book "spring forward the annual madness of daylight savings time" gives us a detailed look at something we all participate in although we have little understanding about why we spring forward and fall back each year. almost 100 years ago congress and lawmakers in every state first debated, ridiculed and the passionately embraced the possibility of saving an hour of daylight. no one can say for sure why we are required by law to change our clocks twice a year. the first to post this scheme? the most authoritative sources suggest that it was a pittsburgh industrialist, woodrow wilson. a man on a horse in london. a manhattan socialite, benjamin franklin, one of dashboard in on his makers of anxious chinese and japanese water clocks. "spring forward" is a portrait of public policy in the 20th century, a perennial cauldron of
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unsubstantiated science profiteering piety and mr. renacci shifting timezone boundaries. it is a true delight social comedy with congress in the leading role. surrounded by a supporting cast of opportunistic ministers, movie moguls, stockbrokers, sports fanatics and railroad executives. michael downing is the author of four novels including breakfast with scott, and most recently shoes outside the door, , histoy of the scandal that rocked the san francisco zen center. he teaches creative writing at tufts university. please join me in welcoming michael downing to the odyssey bookshop. [applause] >> thank you, joan. thank you all for turning up. i just do want to start by saying it's red feel at home in the world and i'm so grateful to the odyssey and of the intimate of bookstores across america the
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mac writers and readers feel at home, so thank you, joan. this book will give begin what i had my finger in the fate of my clock and i looked at my someone thought what are you doing? and i thought i have no idea. i knew one thing about daylight saving time and that was simple. we do it for the farmers. then i thought how am i assisting american agriculture by turning back and forward the hands of my clock every year? i asked some friends. they thought we did it for the farmers. a few of them told me that it was a government scheme. that's what we did it, the federal government. ten minutes of research taught me what it would teach you. the farmers with a group most vociferously opposed to say right dating in history of the country. they hated from the start bigotry to farmers use morning light. let's say they had three hours to get their eggs, milk and produce to the city markets. they needed the sunlight to do that. you turn the clock ahead by an
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outcome now they have two hours to do the same amount of work. how did i end up with the myth that farmers wanted daylight saving? what was the truth? those of the questions that drove the book. it's an old story, the problem of trying to control daylight. we all know that the amount of daylight changes almost every day. and every culture has tried to deal with this bad, but the modern story of daylight saving why would begin out and we can delve into the deep dark pages of history later if we want, a modern story begins in london with a man on a horse in 1907. william will was writing to london at sunrise and he notices everyone as the curtains drawn. it occurs to them this is a fantastic waste of a natural resource. he thought it you took that out at sunlight and give it to people in the afternoon instead of blocking it out, they would use it and spend it outside.
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importantly he was an architect but the story very poorly a golfer. it's the modern story of golf, in some ways, daylight saving. no kidding. so will it proposes as a member of parliament all law to say daylight and is immediately left out of apartment. people think this is a most preposterous and stupid idea they've ever heard. within ten ten years britain it war and there looking around the waist to save energy. his idea becomes popular. there is no evidence whatsoever that daylight saving was it anyone anything. but the british decide they are going to try it so in 1916 after almost ten ten years of public debate and ridiculed, the british parliament enacts a law for the following spring. and as luck would have it the germans perform a sneak attack. they passed daily saying that any legislation and beat the
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british to the punch at their own game. one newspaper in germany says we know the british have been debating it for a decade but as usual they are unable to get a decision. it's the war that brings daylight saving to america but is not the first time we heard about it. the real story of daylight saving in america begins with the chamber of commerce. big department stores which were the principal economic force in america in the 1910-1930 desperately want daylight saving time. here's why. people are working regular hours. hours. they stop shopping during the day. department stores they get if you those people extralight in the after work hours their windows will be lit up. they will block by people go in and shop. daylight savings have never been authoritatively proved to save anyone any significant amount of energy. but it is proved itself to be the most significant useful spending plan in american
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history. it is part of what accounts for its tremendous popularity. however, people really didn't like fiddling with her clocks. in world war i, , america michin daylight saving law. wilson caspi wanted any pushes congress to do it. it is so fantastically controversial and unpopular that as the war ends the first in congress acts on before passes the treat of her second before deceiving the ending world war i is a repeal of daylight saving. they just can't stand it. that should been the end of the story. that's when america went off daylight saving 1919 we had it for two years. there was only one stake in every state legislator appeal their own lives will end only new york state is, by 1919 as a daylight saving saving law and everybody who supports daylight saving knows it will not stand. so in 1919 in a really
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remarkable moment in a a store that really is untold, new york city passes a city ordinance, and it says we're going to move our clocks despite what the rest of the country is doing. and i just want to read you a little bit from "spring forward" to pick up the history there, then we can talk about whatever we want. >> the big apple had taken a shine to daylight saving. if this had not happened residents of north america would've been permanently spared the annual skin winding ritual. daylight savings had been flatly rejected by the congress and every statehouse. in 1919 canada rescinded its a daylight sable effect mexico resisted the idea from the start. by 1920 the federal state provincial and county governments throughout north america had disavowed and discontinued the practice of daylight saving. and yet year after year
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americans are told as they were told by the new republic as recently as 1989, the history of daylight saving is a textbook example of our tolerance of meddling by government in what is none of its business. more than a few people were meddling with time in new york but they did the work for the government. there was an award for what you're doing a begin with the letter a but it was not apple. the word on the street in new york was arbitrage. when the clocks for spring had in 1970 the board of managers of the nuke stock exchange urged the passage of the daylight saving law explaining to the "new york times" that it would lead to increased opportunity, or arbitrage. in fact, with that daylight saving the commodity stock and bond trader on wall street could expect no opportunity for arbitrage at all. arbitrage is buying and selling securities on one market for immediate resale in another market added advantageous price. that is, easy money.
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trading in the london stock exchange in the daily at 3 p.m. trading on the new york stock exchange begin at 9 a.m. the established opening hour for most banks. standard time had established a five hour time difference between london and new york but when it was 90 and in new york it was 2 p.m. in london. this preserve one hour of trading for arbitrage. then london spring ahead by an hour. so when the new york stock exchange opened it was 9 p.m., but 3 p.m. in london and london was closed. daylight saving save new york's most precious hour. money makes men bold. 25 march 1920 the stock exchange is in boston, philadelphia announced their intention to conform to the new daylight hours in new york. on the same day cleveland's traders became daylight savors it with her clocks and cleveland stock exchange were the only
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timepieces in the city to move one hour ahead. before night fell on chicago which was in the central time zone and normally one hour behind new york, the board of governors of exchange voted to fix the arts of trading from 6 a.m. until such time as a daylight saving time was adopted. one week later all the banks in chicago opted to open early rather than delay two hours behind the big apple as they said business under this condition is impossible. in june 1920 chicago city council passed a daylight saving coordinates. that automatically chicago's clocks up and turned back to central standard time sam cartmell was convicted of murdering another resident and sentenced to die on 15 april 1921. his they generate a lot of newspaper copy before after his execution. is balloting members have convinced him to go on a hunger strike in prison and he reportedly lost more than 50 pounds. not as a matter of principle but as a matter of bragging pick his
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former associates figured san would not die if you saying. no kidding. they could claim his limp body from the gallows and resuscitate him. instead on the big day sam fainted. ernest hemingway exaggerate for chapter in our time in which sam soros himself as the noose was lowered around his neck. but in the big apple the moral of the story was reported by the "new york times" pick on wednesday morning 13 of april sam woke up with a question. when am i going to be hanged? he asked the assistant jailer who is named -- friday morning at 8:00 your central, standard or chicago time, said sam? chicago time, it's in chicago you're going to be hanged. yes, said sam. but i was sentenced before the time was changed.
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this rearrangement to price the one hour of life. that will not mean anything after i'm dead but will mean a lot on friday morning. jail jail officials changed anye to 9:00 chicago time. there were some new yorkers who grew apples and what the hard-working farmers wanted in 1920 was released. travel and good for complicated by the time difference with communities in neighboring states. so there were lobbying for legislation and all been for that state law. they estimated the confusion at increased farmers cause by ten n to 20% answers limited the productivity. something under the last statewide daylight saving londoy country and not improve the mood of new york farmers. they predicted near the supply would dry up by mid august. the price of eggs would drive -- rise to three dollars a dozen shopping just shy of calling for
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a plague on manhattan the farmers ask the government nuke state faces a food damaging which the farmer will look after himself first element and let y people wait. it was the great 1921. the fate of a statewide law was obvious to everyone in albany. unless the heavens opened up and sent for the messenger to inform lawmakers that kind of switch sides in the debate, the last statewide daylight saving law was doomed. enter royal as copeland, new york city health commissioner. he came bearing typhus smallpox him bubonic plague and as he said 133,000 babies. 133,000 babies he said more in new york last year. you put those little shavers showed his shoulder and they would reach 22 miles. were they born a fifth avenue and riverside drive? there were not. over 100,000 of these babies were born in tenements of near. you multiply that by tenures and you have 1 million.
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the help of the children and the mothers and all of the boys and girls of new york city depends upon having the sunlight and fresh air they can get so they can be taken out of his miserable tenements where you live without light or ventilation. he went on. i wouldn't want to take the responsibility of walking up to the great white throne someday and being asked, did you do anything which resulted in infant deaths in new york? coat copeland speech was a genue barnburner. in the light of his righteous passion, anyone could see that daylight saving was on the side of the angels. doctor copeland was rewarded with a seat in the u.s. senate. the farmers were not moved. they had babies of their own they said and he could barely feed them. the sentiment in new york repeal the new york state daylight saving law so in 1921 1921 alth standing between new york city and darkness was a local ordinance. but new york was not alone.
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in the spring of 1921 the "washington post" reported daylight saving would be ineffective and most of the large cities and a show center in the northern section of the eastern time zone. in the majority of the larger cities of northeastern section of the central time zone, but as far as reports were obtainable will not be put into effect in the southern or western states. some americans called this progress. others called it the disintegration of standard time. everyone was calling on the federal government to intercede. the lesson of the whole business declared the north american review obviously is that congress should exercise its constitutional power and perform its constitutional duty of prescribing uniform time measurements and reckonings for the whole country. but this would not happen for 45 years. the worldwide organizing principle of time zones and a little meaning a standard time all but lost in america. at the annual meeting of the
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governing committee of the new york stock exchange, members resolved to open and close the exchange to the absolutely nonstandard standard of new york city time. this sort of talk put new jersey and then an enviable position the "new york times" acknowledged. the new jersey state senate and rejected daylight saving go. this left thousands in a a bady tangled state of affairs where it will be possible for a commuter living 45 minutes from new york city to reach his home 15 minutes before he started. by the summer of 1921 virtually all cities and industrial towns in the garden state had passed local ordinances. hartford followed suit the most of the roast -- the rest of connecticut did that. in april 19 to 1 one elected members of the connecticut assembly were deposited in hartford one hour before the appointed opening of the legislative session because the timetable of the local train had been altered to conform to new york city time. as a result lawmakers from
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across the state had an hour to kill on the benches in the park so they discuss measures of punishment for hartford. in may they proposed a $25 fine for officials who countenance daylight saving. two years later they upped the ante and pass passed a new lawh stipulated that a public display of a a timepiece running on otr than standard time, including the average citizens wristwatch, shall be illegal. violators faced fines up to $100 or ten days in prison or both. lawmakers in new hampshire were so impressed with connecticut fine that they soon crafted a bill prohibiting daylight saving anywhere in the state and violators faced $500 fine. new hampshire enjoyed a geographic and economic situation almost as an enviable as new jersey. the entire agreement grant it s basically a whistle stop on the boston and maine railroad. after that railroad advise its timetables to comply with new york and boston passenger and freight trains blew through new
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hampshire and our soon than anticipated and it didn't stop to pay a fine. boston had not merely followed new york's lead. in 1921 boston railroaded through the massachusetts legislature of nearly statewide daylight saving law in the nation. it lasted ten years as the only statewide daylight saving law. it was this law that they state farm is blamed for millions in annual losses and their complete became the basis for the state appeal which made it to the u.s. supreme court. for several years the national range have been angling for this fight. at its convention in 1923 they had elected masters from ten northeastern states to agitate against existing daylight loss. in 1926 the case made it to the u.s. supreme court. the court ruled against the grange. dismissing the proposition that massachusetts farmers were owed compensation. the court articulate the principles that put daylight saving well within the purview of any state.
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the supreme court's majority opinion was delivered by the justice oliver wendell holmes, a native of boston. by the spring of 1928 more than 25 million americans from 16 states were observing daylight saving. most of the participate in cities had adopted a five-month schedule but there were no into the variations. rutland vermont wade waiting te last sunday in may. auburn maine invented a three-month from mid-june to mid-september. nobody knew what time was anywhere else. indiana famous fort schismatic approach to daylight savings launched it's an different history in 1920 in indianapolis. the city council passed a daylight saving ordinance. the mayor next to the city council override his veto. thanks the most retail stores up through the time change. the public schools ignored it. roughly half the cities manufacturing plants went on to daylight saving. detroit had been recalibrating its clocks for so long and in such inventive ways that no one
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in the country really near what time it was in those famous ford automobile factories. the motor city gradually transform itself from a central time zone city into an eastern time zone city observing daylight saving, a two hour clock change, which accounts for detroit's fantastically late summer sunsets. the summer sun doesn't set in detroit until almost 10:00. the usual chaos of standard and daylight saving time again prevails in america complainant north american review in the sum of 1928 and will probably occur every year until congress summons up the gumption to perform its constitutional duty and putting into the foolishness. the united states congress twice passed and repealed a national daylight saving act by 1948. state legislatures annually entertained both new daylight saving legislation and new or stricter fines and prohibitions against it. major league baseball was pitted against the moviemakers in hollywood. the supreme court had ruled
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decisively that fueled the controversy rather than calling it. that one unaccountable power has consumed a lot of energy. it is becoming burning political, religious and financial issue. and as any wildfire will, it took its toll. by 1965 after the debate had roiled for more than 50 years, word came from the u.s. naval laboratory, the most imminent and strategically significant center for the calibration of time in the country that the dissension over daylight saving have made the world's greatest economic and military superpower the world's worst timekeeper. all this and richard nixon waiting in the wings. [laughing] that's the beginning of the insane story that i i really hd no idea existed. my favorite part about the confusion is how it is managed to invert not only every idea i received as a child and carried
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forward as an adult, but has confused almost every politician and businessperson who was touched it. people of switch site on the debate more than any of the debate i have ever seen. so if anyone has a question or a place of confusion when we could begin, i'd be happy to -- >> i had a recent experience of, i was, on easter sunday, , eastr weekend i was visiting an island in spain. i happened to have an accident where i fractured my foot, and the next day i had to go to a larger island on a boat. already my daughter and i were very confused. our spanish was very, very rusty. we couldn't keep track of what time the rest want to supposed to open or the sea esters were on or off or what brand of tourist was there because we heard the restaurants change whether they were italian tours or french. we were not quite used to the
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euro, and so we finally got it together to get to the ferry on time. we found out that the ferry had left an hour earlier because, in spain, they began daylight saving time a week earlier. >> right. >> than in this country. so i was aware the following week would be daylight savings wasn't aware of that. just a little story. >> uniformity was supposed to be the goal. it's why the congress current idea that it should give us two more months of daylight saving is so preposterous in terms of what we'll do to worldwide tom keatinge purchase we also has an element that is lovely. one of the early precip objectives of daylight saving came from preachers and clerics and particularly fundamentalist preachers who considered it a way of taking us office sometime which they called gods time and put us on clock time. we have been taken off the sun by the railroads when we got times of the two is a attachment to standard time as gods time. it didn't help the very first
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sunday we spring it in the scourge was on easter sunday. a lot of people were late for church making their preachers hopping mad. a very good-natured priest in st. petersburg, florida, however said it's funny that they are late in the spring but when we fall backwards and hour no one is ever early to church. [laughing] >> can you explain the fact that when you are down under, i was born in australia, they went to daylight saving time. however, when we were coming in on october 31, now we're coming into standard time. they are going, keeping the same time as we are, you know, but there daylight, their time is getting longer, you see? so how do you explain, how can
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we consolidate this discrepancy? >> it's a big problem of having two hemispheres, a north and a south. it does throw off a lot of things. they of course invert their date so they spring forward when we fall back and fall back when we spring forward. there are parts of australia like arizona in this country which resist, cleveland has been a big resistant. it was an idea, took a long time to spread through europe. the british love to from the start. the british have so little son that any chance they might get a few minutes seem like good social policy to them. but they confused, oesterle was resistant in the way canada was back and forth for a while with daylight saving. the odd thing is of the countries that embraced it very wholeheartedly early on tend to be the one to the conference us into the worst confusions. one of the really amazing stories about daylight saving begins in 1930 in the soviet
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union. joseph stalin, as part of his brutal iq plan, is trying to control not just the clock for the calendars. he reasons the counter a couple of times so it won't have '70s because he does will workers to have two days off. he tries a five-day week which is no weekends. that didn't quite work so we tried a six-day week. that didn't work either. what he did do was in 1930 he made all of russia spring forward in april we meet anyone turn the clocks ahead. unfortunately, in october he forgot to tell them to fall back. i'm not making this up. 61 years every clock in the soviet union was off because of the confusion over daylight saving time. it has confounded the world. it's also a lovely idea of what we think of as the precision of the 20th century, in the punishing precision of clock time. this constantly defeats and undermines. it really does force us to look
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and think, clock time, it's a venue you can put your finger through and realize that you can lose or gain an hour. it's hard to value time the way you did before you knew that. >> when we go to australia, during one of these confusing times, because it takes to longer -- two hours long to go the other time come is a right? >> that's exactly right. >> no wonder i i get tired. >> it makes people more tired thinking about it then the exhaustion itself. >> why was wilson so intent on getting daylight saving time? >> that's great. there were a couple of reasons. wilson was a fanatic golfer. genuinely fanatic. he used to spend hours in the back of the white house that he had his golf balls painted black in which is a good golf in the snow. i don't want to say was on the
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golf but golf played a big part in this story. wilson also was a big fan, a big supporter of and supported by the chambers of commerce. so he wanted daylight saving on behalf of the chamber of commerce, might he couldn't get the country to accept it. it was under the guise of patriotism that daylight saving what got it during world war i. that's what wilson wanted it. the same thing happens in world war ii. we don't have a national love it roosevelt wanted badly and the chamber of commerce had no greater friend in the white house ben franklin roosevelt. this may be a familiar story, every stride the cup seemed completely lunatic and unbelievable and do to me when writing this book. here's one of them. roosevelt sold of the chamber of commerce that he changed the day of thanksgiving. a little surprising? he moved thanksgiving back a week to make it in step of the thursday in november, the third so that the chamber, all the
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department stores would have an extra week of christmas shopping. it was explicit. that wasn't hidden plan. he told the country that. it treated so much confusion, as much as daylight saving, that there were towns tales of whice for subverting thanksgiving of which date for three years running. it was a fantastic failure as a retail policy. so that's a much roosevelt favored the chambers of commerce. he couldn't get the country to accept daylight saving and we desperately wanted it so when world war ii comes, and we get the bombing of pearl harbor he ceases the opportunity but even at that point on the cusp of war he can't call it daylight saving time. it's so concurrently unpopular. he calls it wartime. he puts the country on wartime. they stay on it for three years, and as soon as world war ii is over, congress does not again move on the declaration of end of war with japan but instead
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votes to repeal daylight savings time. it's that unpopular. that's really the wilson story, fits in with the department stores. >> why do so many people think the farmers had something to do with it? >> it's just a great question. there are couple of answers. why is anyone who got mixed up in the daylight saving debate, and no one got mixed up more probably than the farmers, ended up in the popular imagination on the opposite side of where the begin. there really is just the confusion over daylight saving, people send don't even know when you spring forward the lose or gain an hour? most of us can't, , i can't keep it in my head. there's a simple confusion with time but there's another more pertinent reason. particularly massachusetts, abe lincoln, , you're not be surprid was one of the earliest and most important proponents of daylight saving. he was so keen on having the
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country about daylight saving beaty road a pamphlet in 1917 which became the basis for the united states adopting it in congress. he was that powerful. department stores without powerful. finally, minus 52 reasons which she elucidated for why the country, 50 tusa, so great, should adopt daylight saving time, among them were things like it will be good for farmers to get the crops to market faster because they will have time for of the work. he had at least seven of the reasons i became very public were effectively telling us how important this was for agriculture in the country. that's really where the confusion begins. he also said would seem kind of romantic and nice if you're not a farmer that there would be more due on the crops that would make the more it. for people like to buy the apples when they're all do we. [laughing] i'm not making it up. this was genuine news to farmers
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who bagged favor, , turns out yu can't harvest cereal and grain when it has do on it. one year courtship sundresses to talk in the next seven you now got an hour extra to wait for the said two cup and dryer crops. crops. it was a disaster for farmers lincoln pilot in this pamphlet starts a truly worldwide ray of dogma daylight saving which is the opposite of what is true. and the whole debate becomes a series of mistakes, misspoken things and deliberate misrepresentations. it's an amazing public debate. >> going up in the '50s i was told, , because it walked to school that it was about us, though we wouldn't have to walk in the dark spirit that you wouldn't have to walk in the dark. i just love this. what a country.
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it's so great. the schoolchildren issue first emerges in world war ii because we're on all your life daylight saving for their years so it's a first time with daylight saving in the winter months. here's what that means in a place like michigan. normally with standard time the sun doesn't rise in southern michigan nevermind northern michigan until 8:30 or 8:15 or 8:30. you push that clock and you have 9:15 sunrays. you put put children on the street, they are in pitch blackness. so in fact, the problem was daylight saving force children onto dark streets, but we got it backwards come right? we thought they were doing for the other recent this comes up again in the between 1974 when richard nixon in one of his many remarkable political maneuvers decides he's going to use daylight saving just in the opec oil embargo. there are a couple things about
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this. nixon was one of the most outspoken critics and dissenters of daylight saving in the history of the country. he becomes the first peacetime president to impose it on the country. that's typical of this story avidly has to switch sides at least two or three times to be found in the debate. richard nixon puts people daylight saving in january, and the country goes nuts. many of you probably remember either walking to school when it was dark or the pictures the flashed across the country. there began to be within two or three days of being put on that, there were a few school bus accidents, and a couple of schoolchildren are killed. that was enough for the country to reject all your daylight saving. his plan went right down the tubes. it's notable that 40,000-60,000 americans die every year in vehicular accidents. we were talking something between two and 20 additional deaths. not clearly attributable to
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daylight saving but the residual displeasure with daylight saving was so profound that the country went off it. and nixon lost the battle. it has a history around the world of not being allowed, and partly because it's often imposts on populations. the united states didn't have daylight saving law after world war ii, right? we go to japan and we post daylight saving on japan. the japanese have never adopted daylight saving. they have the kyoto protocol, called for daylight saving the of course it was signed in japan. they know they are eventually going to have to do it. the hatred that exists from world war ii and the imposition of daylight saving time by the americans is what would hold japan's port for daylight saving to the state. south korea, we put them on daylight saving. it became a kind of whimsical punishment, a very peculiar thing to do to a culture to impose a new time on it.
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it has very unpleasant president. hitler did something which i did know about until you start to read this history. he impose in every country he when he do something liked to call it part-time. he changed the clock of -- hitler time. it was a way of humility the locals and thing you can you control your own clocks. this is an ongoing use of time which is a small part of the story but a passing one for me. china, a country which is a geographically the same east to west boundaries in terms of distance as the united states. china has one time zone. it ignores its time zones. everybody lives on beijing time. so the sun and far east or west in china rise of about 12:30 at 1:00 in the afternoon. every day of the year. a lot of citizens have the kind of unpleasant experience of clock time, and how it is been
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used against them. that is always figured in the daylight story where there's a sense even though the congress did its level best to get out of this debate, it wanted nothing to do with daylight saving time. the congress in southern england. you go onto the web, there are thousands of websites about this being a federal conspiracy against the states. they congress was begging, baking not to be in control of america's clocks. it's the last thing they wanted to do. >> any other -- mr. anecdote of fortune. i can proceed you all evening. the level of this confusion was really, it hit its peak in the 60 and a did it for a couple of reasons. the phenomenon that a red levit about witches the independent city began to adopt daylight saving time and the states don't get with all these independent
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seats with different daylight saving policies which are inventing their start stop dates. so the town extra might or might not be on daylight saving it if it is on daylight saving it's is unlikely is using the same start date. by 1965, there are 130 cities in the country with populations over 100,000. 130. 71 are using daylight saving. 59 or not. like iowa estate which resisted daylight saving capsules not one of the most important daylight saving states, had 23 different start and stop times for daylight saving, just iowa. what airlines american airlines reports that every day, every day was getting 4000 calls from customers trying to figure out what time it was in the city of their destination. it had started to cost the country billions of dollars just to rewrite timetables every few weeks. there's a famous, very famous bus trip from steubenville ohio
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35 miles. you went to changes in those 35 miles. that's 1965 that this is when we are at war allegedly the cold war is on. we have these precision instruments on split-second timing. literally when the state department has two cents since six people at alaska to go meet about a crisis happening near the russian border, they are all two hours late. they had no idea what time zone alaskans on or if they were observing daylight saving or not. it was became a comedy of errors. its accumulation. they catch you can catch with itself because there's no one in charge. in fact, they had put the congress to put the interstate commerce commission in charge. and by the way, among the dicta the receipt for very specific. they were to arbitrate time in this country at the convenience of commerce. time zones are not political
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boundaries. they are commercial boundaries. our railroad divvied up the world to make sense of its roots. and then another fact, maybe you all, i never knew it, i thought our time zones were fixed. our time was our time. time zones in this country have been changed more than 50 times. they just keep moving the boundaries. at the detroit got to be an east coast city. it just up and moved itself from the central zone to the eastern zone. there's a point where chicago is so envious of what detroit is tension, think about it, makes itself in eastern city and put itself on daylight saving time. it's clocks are running ahead of washington, d.c. at that point because washington, d.c. had no daylight saving time. and nobody is in control and the interstate commerce commission which was supposedly controlling this, finally in 1960, literally writes a letter to congressman and say we give up.
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we can't do this beware of no idea what we're doing anymore. they're so many petitions, and here's the catch, it's really fascinating. states like georgia which were deeply resistant to daylight saving time, both on the religious grounds and also just that states' rights issue became a big deal, georgia moves itself it's at a divided state the bet central and eastern time zones. georgia moves its itself -- georgia moves itself entirely into the eastern time zone. the states keep moving every single petition to move a time zone boundary is always a petition to move into an easterly time zone. so every state that was resisting daylight saving is begging the icc to give them daylight saving. under a different name. >> how stable is a a situation? >> it's fantastically unstable. i so wish i i could say it were stable. tremendously so.
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indian is a perfect example. indian has two time zones. it's a divided state. notably that was not always so. indiana got its boundary mixed up when detroit jumped ship and went to the eastern time zone pulling half of michigan with it. the boundary started to move. indiana has two time zones, central and eastern. i almost can't believe i understand this would i get a wrong i won't be the least bit surprised that i feel so confuse myself but here's the deal. some counties in the central time zone sprang forward and some don't. some counties in eastern signs of spring forward asymptotic indian has essentially for time zones. they could easily petitions and cells into a single zone. there's every reason to believe that time zones in the next ten or 15 years i would say are going to be collapsed from four to three. it's causing too much confusion in the country. i think that will change. there is no question but that the amount of daylight saving we
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have is going to change. many of you probably know, i don't know why i say that, as if anyone is as obsessed with this topic as i am -- [laughing] it's a preposterous thing. i apologize for indicting you in the way i just did. i happen to be obsessed with daylight saving end of the congress especially considering a two-month extension. this will not surprise me. it is being proposed on the basis of energy-saving. there have been studies and debates in congress for 100 years. you will hear repeatedly that it saves 10,000 barrels about a day. that's what you will be told. here's all i know. that comes from a statistic that was done at the fantastically failed experiment by richard nixon by the department of transportation. what the congressman are proposing to say is that the study reads literally, it might save something like 10,000 barrels of oil.
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it likely will also increase the use of heating oil and gasoline. the one thing we know daylight saving does is push people outdoors. when you push americans outdoors they get into their cars. the petroleum industry has known this since 1930. they've been tremendous supporters of daylight saving. in 1986 we had six months of daylight saving. there was a push on to expand that we eventually expand it to the system with now which is seven months. one month extra of daylight saving. to the barbecue industry, $159 a year. to the golf industry, 200-$400 billion a year. that's why we will have more daylight saving. the only losers in that year, i'll tell you, there was a push on to extend daylight saving not just back as they did into the beginning of april, but they wanted to go to the first sunday in november if this became a
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really hotly debated issue in the house, and it's hard to penetrate the congressional hearings. one thing i've to decide if yoe never read them, they're the greatest comic document of the last 100. it's fantastic what gets said before the congress. i don't mean that really true don't mean it disrespectfully of congress. people will come into public forum and say absolutely anything hoping for the best. so they came with a daylight saving proposal. it was a tremendously orchestrated lobbying effort and there was this desperate push on to get an extra week of the end of it. finally it was really a couple of southern senators who just got so fed up that they said you can't have that week. you can have the of the month but you can't have that week and that was basically why it went down that way. here's who wanted it. the candy manufacturers. that week includes trick-or-treat. this only comes out because what happens is when the senate leads to consider this week, they come back the next and all the little
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pumpkins filled with candy on their chairs. i'm not making this stuff up. [laughing] >> can we go back to australia? >> absolutely. >> we were there for 12 weeks and what fascinated me was when you go from south wales to southwesterly there's a half hour difference. if you want to find out where you're going and when you have to get there, try half hour. and especially if you're on the murray river where, of course, there you are, you have the boundary between these two states, , and you have a half hr difference. >> that sort of solution is a desperate solution we know, but it's from people can't agree which time zone to be in. that's considered a compromise. india has half hour time zone. as does newfoundland above us. newfoundland is half hour ahead of us. they are famous in canada because newfoundlanders as a result have used some years, 30
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minutes of daylight saving, some years 90, some years 120. they just make it up. so they sometimes have sunsets on st. john's bay as late as 10:30 p.m. apparently because they like it. but these have our differences that's a solution they came up several times. paris one year put itself fashioned put itself on half-hour delay. professors loved it. the doctors and the lawyers. so the doctors brought up the study with a claim if daylight saving really called the nervous disorders. they went through a thicket of how many fewer suicides happened during daylight saving time. almost anyone tried to point out to the most suicides actually occurred at night. so waiting an hour, most people are going to kill himself had another hour and they would hold off for the hour of darkness. but every debate has that
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quality of almost having a logic into a look at it again. it's almost sensible. it's like the savings on oil. you think it should save a little bit. and then as congressman had begged people explain, so it's dark until 9:00, don't you turn on your lights were you wouldn't have before? the other person looks stunned at the other side of the michael and thinks, no, no. a big home heating oil and the consciences again, but when we did it in 1974 the school so we didn't have son to be the buildings we had to had more ht to those buildings to get them want up for the children. no, no, it's a big electricity saver. you can see that every time you press that, part of the problem is repeatedly, and it's sort of touching because, i mean come on the other people are as confused as i was. i thought i was alone. i thought i was a most stupid person in america. you still read constantly, this
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week i've been reading it all over america the idea of it we have more daylight we use less electricity. well, that would be lovely if we could get more daylight. but we can't invent more daylight. we have a fixed number of hours of sun everyday people really get caught up with the notion of will give ourselves an extra hour. it's sort of on the house. and spend it as you please, you know? it's compelling because it's a romantic idea that we can somehow lengthen our day, but it's a problem. i was saying earlier every cultures dealt with it. the romans got itself deeply attached to the idea of even day and night. they love this idea of perfect symmetry. it's what they did is they changed the link of the hour. so i summer came, the roman hour grew to be 75 minutes long. the japanese, when they made the first clocks, i made these
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incredible, clocks and water clocks. the chinese made water clocks. the japanese were great at december clocks the the adjusted every single day so sunrise would always occur at 6 a.m. sensible. it's, they are all forms of the daylight saving. promoting people to get out of bed when you want them to get out of bed, to finish the day in an orderly way according to clock that anyone could rely on. but these ideas, i should not bring any of this up without saying the name benjamin franklin who, as with almost everything and history, benjamin franklin almost invented daylight saving time. he really did. he was in paris famously in 1784 and use out very late at night, and use walking home so late that the sun began to rise. he made the observation that all of paris as the windows close and their shades pulled. so he wrote a letter to the journal of paris saying this is a fantastic waste.
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he suggested that the pages of the city should far off cannons to wake up all their lazy citizens. [laughing] didn't actually go over so well so we didn't get it. everyone thinks of franklin because you so funny and such a charming writer as a joke on his idea. it turns out in the autobiography 30 years earlier in london, frankly as young men notices exact name phenomena. and said it's a fantastic waste of candle wax. we are using 10% more than we need to. so the whole controversy of the fuel debate, if we can make him the inventor of the we can make him of the inventor of the controversy because he didn't propose as a fuel saver in london. it's just that the world wasn't on clock time yet so there was no way to organize daylight saving at 6:00. so unnatural to adjust. >> are the time zone supposed to be like 24 part of the
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circumference of the earth, and that more or less noon is supposed to be when the sun is highest? and if that was exact, would we still have this controversy? i guess we would have worse. >> it's like, is there a way that it becomes like a steady-state? >> it's so greater asking this question. there's a tremendous figure in history, like most canadians, is unknown to americans. his name is sandford fleming and use just a great, a genuine polymet, an engineer and a statesman and just an incredibly elegant writer. he invented time zones. he got the idea. he divided the world into 24 segments. it's an amazing elegant think t. because the world is almost spherical and because we have almost 24 oh state it almost works. he did a brilliant thing which
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is he didn't fix the boundaries east and west of each time zone. if you imagine a map and say let's see george is one time zone boundary and kansas is the other. i got it wrong but let's say that's the central time zone. those can move. what sticks is the central line, the meridian. that way people move in and out this way does affect the time zone time. which is an incredibly elegant solution. the problem is when they fix those time zones they put the meridian through what within population centers. so philadelphia is almost the center of the eastern time zone. times change and people move. >> that was meridian avenue. >> exactly. that's exactly right. so as populations move that's were true noon happen to us at the meridian. as you move in your time zones for the west for east you are off sometime. sometimes as much as never yet sunrise avenue, it happens at
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11:00 in the morning. then you add daylight saving to that and you've got double trouble, right? there is no way to address that except you remake the time zones entirely. i think the big mistake, what happened with sanford wilson, this fact was new to me, 1883 the railroads in north america simply put time zones into effect. no assistance from the federal government. it's completely a commercial maneuver. until 1990 there's no times of legislation in this country. the railroads without powerful. the same moment sanford wilson provided us with what would've been a fantastically elegant idea invented something which he called, i like the name of it, cosmopolitan time. who doesn't want to be on cosmopolitan time? it was simple. it was the idea of using the 24 hour clock so we wouldn't use a 12 hour clock which causes no end of confusion around the world. and keeping everybody, let me do
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it simple. recognizing that there's only one day on the face of the earth. presently here's what happens. if it's monday in japan, it's not monday for the next 24 hours in japan and in san francisco, right? we have 55 hours of three different days on the globe according to our clocks. sanford flew said this is the craziest notion. we should all recognize there's only one day on the face of the earth and have 24 hour clock. his what it means. when it's 10:00 in the morning in beijing, it's 10:00 and london. it's 10:00 and st. petersburg and tokyo. it's 10:00 ever because it's 10:00 on the earth. then we would have a different relationship to a 10:00 means depending on where you live. the different amount of light. i am not exaggerating, people flipped out. this was if this he said and what has to live standing on their hands. people said this is insane, you can't make people do the that's
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what we don't have a 12 hour clock and 1883 the world couldn't tolerate it. every government in the world operates on the clock. of the military in the world operates on the clock. almost every business now resident in that presence operates on the clock. it is the obvious since the solution to it is only citizens are not trusted without clock. they tell us we can't handle it. maybe they are right. >> you mean the 24 hour clock. all the rest of the world uses it except for this country. >> the problem with us not using it and several other countries refusing is we can't have true universal time where we all say it's 10:00 at the same moment. it's like our resistance to the metric system. it's quite like that. most people, we learn it for ten minutes in school and once we get over our fear of centimeters, it makes sense. but we have a kind of come we hold to our 12 inches.
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that's a good idea. [inaudible] >> i'm not touching the metric system. i'm hoping i'm going to be able to retreat into the land of real fiction, not this fiction and escape american history for a while. it was really unlikely book for me to write, i should say that. it just never occurred to me that i will write a book about daylight saving time. [inaudible] >> you just say that everywhere you go. [laughing] these predictions, writer to use get in the way of them. i'm not going to deny that. you are very kind. >> michael, , i want to thank yu so much for coming and keep writing these books. i know it wasn't something you thought you would write, but it's so fascinating. i think we could go on all night. i want to thank you very much
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and think everyone else for coming. [applause] and if you'd like you could go to the desk or stay at the have copies of "spring forward" here, and think you all for coming. [inaudible conversations] >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. this weekend we are at to state capitals live at the texas book festival in austin, and look force at the wisconsin book festival in madison. on november 15 it's the national book awards in new york city. later in the month we will be live at the 34th annual miami book fair on november 18 and 19th featuring senator al franken, best-selling biographer
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walter isakson, nbc news katy tur and meet other authors. for more information about upcoming book fairs and festivals and watch previous festival coverage, click on the book fairs tab on our website .. national book award kevin young and many others. now, first up it's a look at some of the lesser known stories of world war ii. live coverage of the texas book festival on book tv. [inaudible conversations]


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