Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was the inventor of many things that we still use and enjoy to this day: bifocals, the lightning rod, the odometer and, of course, America.
But he is also credited with “inventing” daylight saving time, a biannual pain in the ass in which our smartphones either change time an hour forward or an hour backward, depending on the season. (As Seth Meyers put it on “Weekend Update” on “SNL” over the weekend: “This Sunday is daylight savings time so don’t forget the clock on your oven will be wrong for six months,” since we don’t actually physically change clocks anymore these days. [Technology and topical humor!])
Spring daylight saving time is particularly annoying since we “lose” an hour of sleep, which is the equivalent to flying from Texas to New York and is not really that big of a deal, but we act like it is.
Franklin, however, never actually meant that we should actually turn our clocks back in the fall and forward in the spring.
According to research done by the geeks over at Geek.com, Franklin — who was living in Paris at the time — brought up the idea of daylight saving time in a letter to a friend who happened to be the editor of Journal de Paris. The letter, which satirically suggested that something could be done to better light one’s home, was subsequently published in the Journal on April 26, 1784.
Back then — and even now — those lazy French bastards were very nonchalant about what time they woke up to go to work. Franklin wrote that one morning he was abruptly woken by a noise at 6 a.m., but that if that hadn’t happened he would have slept through six more hours of daylight.
To combat this, Franklin satirically wrote up an analysis of how much people could get accomplished if they used more daylight and less candles. He also wrote up a series of punishments and requirements so that people would wake their asses up.
According to Geek.com, Franklin wrote that there should be a tax on people who had shutters on their windows to keep the sun out, church bells — or even a cannon — should go off every day at sunrise, and in order to conserve one’s energy for the day, guards would monitor the streets and forbid any carriages from driving after sunset — with the exception of doctors and midwives.
Franklin, that silly fellow, is up in Founding Father heaven laughing his ass off that we took his suggestion of “saving daylight” seriously.