Daylight Saving Time – The Sleep Dilemma – (Ebook excerpt repost)

Turn Back the Clock2March 8, 2009

Daylight Saving Time – The Sleep Dilemma

 

Blame American Benjamin Franklin for germinating the idea, back in the late 1700s, that has become the annual torment of trying to get out of bed an hour earlier between March and November – the annual discomfort commonly referred to as “Daylight Saving Time” or DST (or incorrectly, Daylight Savings Time).

Save daylight time?

One grating message that weather forecasters and others foist on us unbelievers is that DST gives us an extra hour of daylight. That man has done what God cannot do is truly a miracle since to add an extra hour of daylight is to go beyond the current parameters of nature. In fact we experience greater hours of sunlight as a result of the rotational relationship between the Sun and the Earth, more precisely because the tilt of the Earth as it moves around the Sun results in greater exposure to the Sun at certain times over the course of a 12-month period. Living in the Northern Hemisphere means we experience increasing hours of sunlight as the year progresses from March through to June; thereafter the hours of sunlight begin once again to diminish. For those who live in the Southern Hemisphere the same occurrence can be observed from September to December. Such is the phenomenon.

 Turn Back the Clock2

Yet, there are those who would like to play at adding an extra hour of daylight; or just as absurdly, daylight saving.

There are a few things in this reality that can never be saved, no matter how we word it. One is time; you can use less of it or more of it, but time cannot be saved. The other is energy of any kind, and that includes light.

Perhaps a better term would be ‘annual time shifting’. Although by any name it is still an uncomfortable adjustment, not the least for people who struggle with sleep disorders, or those of us who are not ‘morning people’. While early birds and night owls generally adjust to the shift in waking time, it can take weeks for those who are not morning people to adjust. In the meantime, they are sleep deprived and function less well.

Further, the rate of heart attacks actually increases in the first few weeks following the movement of the clock one hour ahead. Driving while sleep deprived is also a problem. While parents worry about sending their children off to school in the dim light of dawn. A sensible farmer would ignore all this silliness since the sudden change in schedule would have an unsettling effect on their animals.

People living in parts of Northern Ontario – Pickle Lake, New Osnaburgh, and Atikokan for example – do not go through this annual adjustment. They are located in the Central Time Zone and are already one hour ahead, but the point is they do not have to struggle with the annual change. It’s the same in Northern Quebec and Saskatchewan where DST is not observed.

The rest of us now spend close to eight months – from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November – in this shifted time period when we have the maximum amount of sun exposure this region gets. So if the reason for the shift is to have more awake time during the sunniest part of the day, why not just maintain the time year round?

Historically it was the business sector that advocated for this annual change. Well, as the saying goes, what’s good for business is bad for people and vise versa.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com.

The powerful effect of Black people’s hair

PamGreer

By PAT WATSON

‘Nasty.’ That is a remark commonly heard in my culture to characterize mostly children, mostly girl children when they react to the pain they feel from having their hair tugged from the root – otherwise known as having it combed. 

The whole process is carried out daily across the planet as a grooming practice to be presentable to the public. The very person who should be an empathetic supporter for the child often performs the pain-inducing process. 

Instead, that may be the first person to label the child as ‘nasty’ for not wanting to be tortured daily by having her hair pulled. It may even be that person went through the same abuse at an earlier age.

The obsession with hair as it presents on the heads of Black people, especially Black women and girls, is pathetic and deplorable.

The obsession has given rise to any number of industries. All manner of hair ‘care’ products are making millions (billions?) of dollars to placate the shame that has been internalized about a genetic normality. 

Have there been as many books and heartfelt documentaries about any other hair type?

When we finally assign the term ‘good hair’ to the history books, it will be a massive victory.  

It seemed as if that had been happening during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s in the United States, which then spread across the African Diaspora. Remember the Afro? Remember all those Blaxploitation movies that featured actors like Pam Greer sporting a supersized Afro?

The good news is that the current young generation of Black folks is, as it were, finding their roots. Out on the streets of Toronto, it is beautiful to see this. The creativity is also beautiful. 

This is not about being against styling that includes straightening the hair, for instance. Every person should feel free to groom his or her own hair according to personal self-expression. 

It is instead about a forced expectation about what the hair of Black people is supposed to look like. It is about how Black people internalize these notions such that they despise their own God-given being. 

It is also about how people who are not Black feel they have the right to tell Black people how to be in their appearance in order to make those people feel safe and comfortable.

Another person’s discomfort with the appearance of the natural hair of a Black person should be understood as a personal problem specific to that individual; an issue to work through with a spiritual leader or psychological counselor.

The same goes for those who decide that another person’s sensitivity to pain should be characterized as ‘nasty’. Who gets to decide how any person experiences pain in the body besides the person feeling the pain?

The larger point is this: There is a strong tendency to cast our internal discomfort onto others around us. This would be similar to taking your bag of garbage and dumping it at your neighbour’s front door. We all know that kind of behavior is socially unacceptable. Yet, it is often the way with personal prejudice or emotional discomfort. 

Ironically, projecting these aggravations onto other persons gives them an appearance of power over our feelings. Disliking what someone else chooses to do with his or her external appearance may be a matter of personal taste, but it’s not okay to decide for that person how he or she should be. 

If the discomfort moves to wanting an entire segment of society to conform one’s preference, that should be seen as the call to do the internal work to recover from a misguided belief system.   

Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. This opinion column is in the September 27, 2018 issue of Share Newspaper – http://www.sharenews.com

Twitter @patprose

Police trained as if for warfare killing increasing number of persons who are mentally ill, Black, and Indigenous

By Pat Watson

Posted April 5, 2018

CBC’s The Current did a segment on the how police killings of people – in particular people with mental illness and Black and Indigenous people – have increased. The statistics were collected beginning in 2000. The Current audio includes a segment on how Hamilton Ontario police are doing a better job of not hastily shooting people in distress because of a special new program designed to better respond to persons in mental distress. Yet, just 2 days ago, according to another CBC report a 19-year-old who had called the police for help was shot and killed by police in his own neighbourhood. (That’s the second link.)
The concerning information in the Current audio is the explanation of how police train. They work from the premise that whoever they encounter is dangerous and hostile. And, according to this report, they are presented with computer-generated scenarios that create that kind of stressful, life-threatening situation to prepare them for their response to the public.
The question that no one seems to have asked in this Current report is regarding the actual perception police have of the world such that they are trained to see everyone as a dangerous threat to their life.
Furthermore, because certain segments of society have become accustomed to the police as a threat, they reflexively become hostile when police make themselves present.
So which is it? Is it the person in crisis who is a threat or do the police present as a threat to the person in crisis?
The police show up and are already trained to assume life-threatening danger. This model is so damaging. Actually, deadly. Police are being trained in such a way that they are ready to shoot first, and to do so within seconds of presenting themselves at the scene of an incident. The killing of Andrew Loku is a prime example. And, let’s not forget that a new officer in training accompanied the one who took Loku’s life.
The presence of men and women who are being trained for warfare against civilians actually inflame crises because of the way they go into a situation. This is an unholy mess.
How many more people are going to be shot and killed reflexively because of the way police are trained before the public reaches the tipping point of rejecting this type of “public safety” practice?
Here are the links:

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/as-police-involved-deaths-climb-in-canada-mother-of-man-shot-by-police-says-little-has-changed-1.4605396

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/hamilton-children-witness-shooting-1.4607433

http://www.cbc.ca/news/investigates/what-an-examination-of-every-canadian-police-involved-fatality-since-2000-tells-us-1.4602916

New construction offers hope for affordable housing

By PAT WATSON

In August 2017, the Toronto Real Estate Board pegged the average overall price of a house in Toronto at $732, 292 and in September, the average rose to $775,546. And, there are houses, well mansions, in the downtown to mid-town area of Toronto that are listed in the multi-million-dollar range. They do not fall under the affordable housing heading.

In the face of those realities, the cry continues from the low- and middle-income segment of the population for adequate, affordable shelter. Many still aspire to the great Canadian dream of home ownership. Never mind the annual property tax, water fees, utility payments, property maintenance, homeowners’ insurance and whatever other costs come with having one’s name on the deed.

Home ownership comes with status and, more fundamentally, is considered a solid form of investment security. The message hasn’t taken hold yet that the dream is nearly impossible for a new generation coming into adulthood. The expectation is still there.

The low interest rate that the Bank of Canada held on to for close to a decade along with a surge in arrivals to this city resulted in a rush on real estate transactions that help keep the economy solvent during hard times, but at the same time resulted in ridiculously inflated prices.

Periodically, the opportunity is offered up to allow a few to be blessed with owning the dream. Along those lines, condominium units and townhouses offer better possibilities for home ownership among lower- and middle-income families. Of course, depending on willingness to purchase in the farther reaches of the city and suburban areas.

A recent planned groundbreaking is what brought the affordable shelter issue into focus. Under the Build Toronto plan, construction is going forward for 68 townhouses of one- to three-bedroom units in the Rogers Rd. and Bicknell neighbourhood with the special feature that it is aimed at middle-income earners. The units start at $300,000 and the project is being constructed on lands that had been within the Toronto Transit Commission portfolio.

Move-in is set for October next year, in time for Mayor John Tory and Councillor Frank di Giorgio, representative of Ward 12 York South Weston where the construction is being built, to highlight it going into next year’s municipal election campaigning.

An interesting feature of the purchase plan, which is part of Build Toronto, is people who earn an income below the median – that would be below $78,000 in Toronto – can receive a second mortgage from Trillium Housing that would be repayable at the time of resale. This offers hope for those who can show – whether below the media or not – that they have a stable income.

Adding to possibilities, the province is also freeing up land within the city in the West Don Lands area and at Yonge and College for residential construction for mixed income households. For those who need affordable shelter right now, that massive open space along Yonge St. cannot be completed fast enough.

So, there is room for hope on the horizon for affordable housing for some people in Toronto. The real concern is the slow pace at which these properties come into being. The Build Toronto Loop project has been at least three years in coming. Furthermore, these are projects aimed at home ownership. There are 170,000 other households that cannot afford to purchase a property. Those people just wish to be able to find a place to rent and still be able to afford a reasonably healthy lifestyle.

A note on a tipping point…

As names are revealed in the news of serial abusers, can we begin to hope that the centuries-old norm of using sexual harassment and sexual assault to exert power over women and girls is about to undergo a significant shift?

Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter @patprose.

This opinion column ran on page 6 in the November 16, 2017 issue of Share newspaper. http://www.share news.com

 

 

Allow backyard chickens in Toronto

 

By PAT WATSON

My grandmother in Jamaica had a chicken coop in the backyard. Decades on, I still remember the rich taste of the eggs that came from those chickens. In fact, my grandmother’s place in Kingston had a rich, growing food supply. Food bearing trees included breadfruit, avocado, grapefruit, limes, ackee, and mangoes. Space will not permit the whole range. There were all kinds of beans and edible plants and roots as well.

Immigrants to Toronto brought with them some of the same edible gardening culture as practiced in the old country. Summer into fall is the best time for sharing, neighbour-to-neighbour, the abundance that grows quickly. There is just such pleasure in the rich flavour and higher nutritional value of homegrown cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and potatoes for instance.

I mention this because there is a debate going on in Toronto about allowing raising of chickens in backyards.

Many activities that would be healthy and community building are forbidden in this city where hyper-caution is a reflexive response to so much that is just commonsense. Therefore, in typical Toronto Council fashion, a pilot project will be launched. How much do you suppose the environmental assessment study will cost?

There is hardly the need to run a pilot project for a home-based activity that is millennia old. But, if councillors want to create a few positions for backyard health inspectors, then okay.

But, recall the pilot project that was run a few years ago on ‘ethnic’ food carts, which was micro-managed into failure. If City Council starts insisting that coops and other related equipment be bought only from council mandated suppliers, then flags should start going up.

If this goes forward though, anticipate that the city will likely require permits that will cost a fee.

Aside from political meddling, one concern about raising chickens in backyards in Toronto has to do with land ownership. The scramble to purchase residential real estate and the forbidding price tags attached to houses with land space would mean the possibility for eating fresh, free-range eggs then becomes a class issue.

Imagine that a longtime cultural practice among peasant people could move up the social status ladder and sit next to other markers like owning a Labrador retriever or being able to afford a third or fourth child.

Already, the talk on Council regarding the pilot project is selection of wards where homes have enough backyard space. Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore would be included since Justin Di Ciano, councilor for that ward, brought forward the motion for the pilot project.

The vote on this pilot project would have taken place by now, but was delayed when the last council meeting before the summer break ended early upon news of the death of Councillor Pam McConnell. Now, the vote won’t take place until this fall, with the pilot project not coming until next spring.

In the meantime, backyard chicken lawbreakers would be well to organize to ensure they have strong advocacy to support backyard freedom.

Let City Hall know all about the benefits of raising chickens and how much they fit into the home gardening ecology. They control bugs in the garden and chicken waste is very good fertilizer enriching the soil for food plants in the home garden. Furthermore, hens are not noisy. And, the closer we are to nature the more respectful we are of it.

With the growing threat of global warming, which is a consequence of human disconnection from our natural environment, that respect is urgently needed.

Annual basic income pilot project about to take off

Annual basic income pilot project about to take off

By PAT WATSON

Four thousand households in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay are about take part in what has been termed a pilot project to learn the effects of receiving an annual basic income.

This experiment set to run for three years has been decades in the making, with retired Conservative senator Hugh Segal having been a driving force.

The $75-million fund will give provide single persons just under $17,000 per year, equivalent to 75 per cent of an annual low-income measure of about $22,650, while couples would receive about $24,000. A feature of the plan would be to take back 50 per cent of any earned income. People with a low income, and that includes disability payments, are the priority applicants for the pilot program.

The fact that the Ontario government is even going ahead with this experiment means a level of recognition of the failure of the poverty paradigm. It actually costs more money to maintain a segment of society below the low-income median, with all the various fields that are funded to ostensibly assist those living in poverty. Note that some occupations help people who are in poverty. It does not help them out of poverty. Helping agencies are chronically underfunding so that they are never fully effective enough in their mandate. Furthermore, professionals in the social service field are chronically overworked, bogged down by whatever policy limitations exist within the agencies that employ them and endless – some would say needless – paperwork.

A recent series of reports in the Toronto Star for example detail what happened in the process of finding an apartment for one man who had been living on the streets for a number of years. The main point was the agency tasked with this is understaffed and therefore cannot be as efficient and thorough in supporting clients to a better transition away from living on the streets or spending winter nights in bug and disease infested temporary shelters.

The client eventually moved back to the streets because the $950 per month basement apartment was substandard. That is a failure of service.

The range of reasons that find people ending up within the low-income sector is varied. One in particular being felt by a broad group is the changing nature of the job market. The increasing demand for skills that service the robotics and Internet revolution has caught many entering the labour force unprepared. Without hard skills, the low-wage service industry is then the job option most widely available.

The other trend toward limited-term, project-specific employment has given rise to a population of workers newly termed the precariat, in reference to the precariousness of job stability. Precariats participate in the gig economy – as in a gig here and a gig there. This is not a foundation for a stable life.

People who cannot find a decent income are less likely to live independently. Already in Toronto, 56.5 per cent of young people in Toronto still live with their parents. People still dependent on their parents in one way or another are not about to get married and start families. That may sound nice for those who believe in limiting population, but with an aging population and not enough caregivers available, the picture begins to look different. Furthermore, these demographics are growing.

Let’s hope therefore, this pilot project shows great results. When a similar experiment was done in the farming town of Dauphin, Manitoba from 1974-79, there were significant positive outcomes including an increase in school attendance, improved quality of family life, decrease in domestic violence and markers of improved health and wellness.

The time has come for a new income distribution paradigm. Universal basic income may be an answer if it is configured for optimal benefit. My main fear has to do with what typically results when the bureaucracy takes priority.

A note on the March for Science…

The problem is not with scientific discovery; it is with formulation and interpretation. Remembering the history of scientific experimentation using Black bodies, we must be very circumspect.

Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter @patprose.