Sunday, 27 March 2022

Why Do We Change the Clocks?

 On the 27th of March this year we put our clocks forward one hour for British Summer Time (BST).

    We don't question this, we just do it. But I started to wonder: why do we do it? Is there an advantage to getting up an hour earlier and having a longer light evening?

    I know we are told it is because you can do more stuff in the evening. But you haven't lengthened the day, there are still the same amounts of daylight available whether it runs from 6 am to 8 pm, or 5 am to 7 pm.

    Our ancestors didn't change their clocks - they didn't have any clocks to start with. They got up when it was light and went to bed when it was dark. So what o'clock you called it wouldn't make any difference.

    So it is pretty obvious that putting the clocks forward in Spring and back again in Autumn must be a fairly recent thing. Oh and incidentally, why do we have the clocks forward longer than back? As we put the clocks forward in March, logically they should go back in September, but no! we have to wait until the last Sunday in October!

    Personally I love the longer nights. I can't wait for the clocks to go back in October, because that means the magical nights are back, and Samhain is upon us!

    So I had a look on the internet and what I found really surprised me.

    It was in 1916, only just over 100 years ago, that Germany changed their clocks during the first World War, in order 'to save energy'. Europe and the UK followed this within weeks. WHY!?

    This means that until 1916 Britain ran continually on Greenwich Mean Time, and obviously had no problems doing so.

    Actually changing the time by an hour only gives an 'advantage' for a very brief time and only in certain latitudes. Go further North and in Summer the sun never sets (this is very much the case in Scotland - not that much further North) where the Simmer Dim gives twilight nights during the Summer. And go towards the Equator and there is very little difference between day lengths in Summer and Winter, so no point in changing the clocks.

    I remember when I was at school we stuck to BST for a couple of years as an experiment, but the Government found that there was little if any advantage to this. 

    Also these days we often live 24 hour lives, so BST really is irrelevant.

    Personally I blame Ben Franklin.

    In 1784 Benjamin Franklin was staying in Paris and was fed up with the way the Parisians took ages to get going in the morning. So he wrote a joke to a friend about changing the clocks to try and get the Parisians up a bit earlier, and suggested this should be enforced by ringing church bells and setting off cannons in the streets.

    Saddly it seemed someone took his suggestion seriously!

Friday, 4 March 2022

Witches and Gamers

 There are two subjects which always make me prick up my ears when they crop up in the media and they are Witches and Witchcraft and computer gaming and gamers.

    And the main reason is because both subjects are dear to my heart, and both seem to be treated like pariahs. Very often the casual references to 'Witches' seems to be as a pejorative term, usually of a woman - 'Oh, she's a right witch!' which seems to be both a humorous and acceptable comment.

    Let me tell you here and now, this is not acceptable, and would not be seen as such if you were to substitute the word 'witch' for any other religion or race.

    You cannot make these remarks casually these days without being seen as prejudiced in your outlook - but apparently the memo about this also being the case for Witches, hasn't got passed around yet.

    And so to computer games and gamers. This is another subject where casual prejudice still seems to be the norm, and yet the vast majority of people in the UK use a mobile phone - yes, this is a form of computer - and use computers in their work and at school, college and university.

    They will happily spend hours playing with a mobile phone, or at their desk doing work, or homework. Yet the time you spend computer gaming is somehow seen as 'wasted' time.

    When we were stuffing envelopes for our latest mail shot we had the radio on and a woman was be-moaning the fact that her teenage son preferred to play computer games, than go outside and ride his bike etc. She then said that he was restricted to 90mins computer gaming at the weekend - and she wondered why the kid didn't want to give up any of his precious gaming minutes to do something else?!

    How many minutes is Eastenders on the TV during the week? How many minutes do people 'waste' watching news reports when surely once a day is more than enough?

    When I told Graham about the remarks, he said 'It might be a generational thing.' Implying that the parents didn't understand computer games as the youngsters did.

    I gave him a look.

    I will soon be 65 (on the 17th of March if anyone is interested ) and Graham is older, and we both regularly play computer games.

    In fact we have been playing computer games for years. At first on the old Sinclair Spectrums, with games that came on audio tapes and took upwards of 15 minutes to donwnload.

    Our son, a civil engineer, plays computer games with his mates.

    Our daughter-in-law, a business woman, plays computer games with her mates.

    They also do lots of other things, as do me and Graham, but computer gaming is something we all do for relaxation, for fun and to keep up with mates who we may or may not see at other times.

    The computer gaming industry is one of the largest industries in the world. It is bigger than the film/movie industry.

    It generates more revenue for the UK than any other industry including tourism.

    In fact Dundee is the biggest computer gaming area in the world. Bigger than silicon valley in the USA. There they produce some of the top computer games in the world and companies there are full of bright, intelligent people playing, devising, creating, making and selling computer games.

    It has been found that playing computer games keeps your reflexes sharp. Working out puzzles keeps your brain active and learning anything new including computer games, will also stimulate your brain to keep making new connections.

    And also many computer games include a social aspect. People are encouraged to work co-operatively, to work through special areas in groups, or to join communities where they can find others to talk to and play with.

    Graham and I work from home, and like many other home workers a whole week can pass when we see nobody. 

    But we can go online at any time of the day or night and play World of Warcraft and there is always somebody there to talk to.

    I would suggest for anyone who is feeling isolated or lonely, or who wants to visit worlds of the imagination and have their own imagination stimulated - get a computer, get online and go gaming!

    Lok'tar ogar! As we say.