Friday, November 02, 2007

Congress Finally Accomplishes Something Useful

Since I moan and complain so much on this blog about misguided or absent social policy, it is only fair to point out when Congress actually accomplishes something worthwhile. Sure, they consistently abdicate their constitutional responsibilities and stubbornly continue to fund a God-forsaken occupation, but I can now happily report they have finally made a positive contribution to American life: establishment of a reasonable weekend on which to end daylight savings time. Yea for Congress!

For any family that participates in Halloween, this is huge. Daylight savings time has traditionally ended the last weekend in October, just before Halloween. This means that not only are children an hour more tired than usual on Halloween night, but it is also an hour colder and darker during trick-or-treating. So, in order for the kids to stay warm enough (due to the extra dark and cold) to avoid frostbite, they must cover up their beloved costumes with big wool coats or parkas, which invariably ends with them crying and stamping their feet (due to the extra fatigue). Sometimes a parent (say, me, for instance) will give in and let them go outside without a coat, which ends with them crying and stamping their feet (because they are cold and tired, see above).

This year, by order of Congress, daylight savings time has been moved to the first weekend in November, which is now after Halloween. Plus, they had the foresight to do nothing about global warming, which means it is much warmer on Halloween than it used to be, so the costume/parka issue did not even come up this year (in Champaign, anyway). Parents have less cold, dark and exhaustion to deal with, and can now spend all of their time and attention on bringing their children down from their sugar highs before bed, which is what Halloween should be about.

Speaking of which, the last two years on Halloween we’ve hosted some families and individuals from outside the US (Ireland, Kenya, China, and Tanzania). To a person, they all thought Halloween was at least very weird, and at most, that something is very wrong with Americans. I’ve had a hard time explaining the custom: Well, see, we let kids dress up as dead people or princesses, and then they go to the houses of strangers and beg for candy, and if a house doesn’t have any, they are in danger of being “tricked”, by which we mean various unlawful misdemeanors, and then we have some apple cider, after which all the children melt down, each in their own way. Also, the children will be generally misbehaved for the next month while the Halloween candy works its way through their systems.

When explained this way, I have a hard time justifying it myself, except to use the misdirection trick of “it’s just tradition.” Some cultures throw virgins into volcanoes, and we do Halloween. So, it’s not so bad, really.

4 comments:

Fingtree said...

Regarding Congress; unfortunately nothing useful can get passed due to a slim margin of majority the Dems hold for now. When the Republicans had their larger majority, they passed everything, without veto, that they slid through. Our money flowed like water and wine. Now that the Republican majority is behind us, American's short term memories can conveniently forget facts and now blame whoever is on the chopping block today.
As for the Holloween explanation;
It is quite a telling scenario of our country. If we as a people are dumb enough to elect a bamboozeling buffon like George W. Bush for 2 terms, harbor the likes of the KKK, watch the WWF wrestling and think it's real, listen to Rush Limbaugh and believe he's something more than a gimmick, have groups of our people follow these religious nuts like the Westboro, Kansas Anti-Gay Church, Waco, TX. and David Koresh, Jim Jones and his Koolaide, it goes on and on. I can only imagine what foreign exchange people think, because I am shock and awed by American behavior myself! We are a gullible and vulnerable people as a whole, arrogantly ignorant and self-righteous. Throwing virgins in a volcano is no different than not aiding our poor and needy citizens that some choose to ignore, at the same time considering themselves Christians with oversized patriotic hearts.

Dan S said...

Yes, but Democrats don't have to continue funding the war, nor do they have to confirm attorney generals who support waterboarding. Many democrats are doing the right thing, but not enough of them yet...

Magpie said...

The irony with the new daylight saving time is that I use less energy now that we're back on standard time. Ontario decided to match time (so that businesses could talk to each other across the border) while forgetting that we're too far North to be able to get any advantage from the extension.

Oh, and we need winter clothes for Hallowe'en anyhow.

Dan S said...

I would guess Ontario will eventually have the climate that Illinois now has. Another reason to like Canada...