Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

March 10, 2007

Daylight Saving Time: Tip for Windows 98 Users

As those of you in North America know, the "new" Daylight Saving Time dates (second Sunday in March forward, first Sunday in November back) are likely to cause much confusion for your PC. For newer versions of Windows, one can apparently download a patch to fix the problem; not so for Windows 98. In its continued push to alienate customers by abandoning all tech support for earlier platforms, Microsoft has once again left Windows 98 users to their own devices.

Happily, we're a resourceful lot. (We have to be.) So: if you're running Windows 98, here's your solution. Double-click on the time display (usually at the bottom right of your screen). The Date & Time tab of the Date/Time Properties window should come up. First, in the "time" portion of the tab (right under the clock), click and drag over the numeral representing the hour. Now click on the up arrow key to advance the hour by one. Presto! You have manually reset your clock to Daylight Time. That's Step 1.

For Step 2, click on the Time Zone tab. At the bottom is a box with a check mark that says, "automatically adjust for daylight saving time changes." Click on the check mark to make it disappear. Now click Apply, then OK. Step 2 disables your computer's proclivity to "spring forward" and "fall back" on what are now the wrong dates. So, come the first Sunday in April, your computer will not try to set its clock yet another hour ahead.

Computer hassles aside, I'm a fan of the new Daylight Saving Time. As a slow starter, I prefer the bulk of my daylight in the evening. I don't give a hoot how light it is or isn't at six a.m., because I'm asleep. That said, I'd argue we ought to take it a step further: if we're now on DST nearly eight months of the year, why bother with standard time at all?

I'll use my own time zone as an example. I live in the Eastern Time Zone (GMT -5:00). If we were to dispense with Eastern Time entirely and permanently migrate to Atlantic (Standard) Time, we'd get all the daylight we wanted year-round and never again have to fiddle with our clocks. Similarly, Central could migrate to Eastern, Mountain to Central, Pacific to Mountain, Alaskan to Pacific, and so on.

I'd write to my congressman because ultimately, that's where these decisions are made ... but I don't have one.

March 01, 2007

Where Science Doesn't Belong

As Toronto’s lovely (ahem) winter weather swerves from the appalling to the truly abysmal, I’ve managed to carve out some blogging time.

After 28 years, Princeton University's ESP lab (official title: Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory) is set to close. CBC Radio's "The Current" profiled the institute's director, who argued—if rather limply and dispassionately—that psychic phenomena are an entirely valid subject for scientific study. Of course, he didn't dare use that term, couching the P-word in a cloak of academic gobbledegook.

In the pursuit of fairness, a second expert was then summoned to give the opposing viewpoint equal time. Esteemed Scientist #2 summarily dismissed any and all metaphysical research as "voodoo science." At that point, I turned the radio off in frustration.

Why? Both these distinguished experts were completely off the mark. Probing the paranormal via the scientific method is like using performance art to learn how the stock market works. It’s doable, I suppose, but the thoughtless application of an inappropriate paradigm guarantees bizarre, if not useless, results.

Science likes to assume it’s the supreme (or only) mode of investigative inquiry. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that when it sticks to its rightful domain, science produces useful, beneficial outcomes, such as the polio vaccine. (Or not: see Bomb, hydrogen.) However: when science, its empiricist chest all puffed out, pokes its nose into matters of the spirit, its efforts are at best amusing and at worst an insult to the human thirst for knowledge.