I do! Seriously, I scarcely recognize the Ottawa Citizen since they revamped it about a month ago.

For starters... don't most people want to see front-page news on the front page? Or at least in the first few pages? There doesn't seem to be any international news at all in that first section any more - instead, the first section is "politics and the public service", generally at the national level. OK, so I know this is a government town - but have we become that insular?

Then there are the bizarre names for the sections. "Context"? "You"? I guess we live in an age when everything starts with either i or u - iPods, iPads, iMacs, youtube... unless of course it's e- as in e-mail, e-books and e-zines!

They've also fired dear Abby and mucked about with the comics and puzzles pages. No more Sally Forth, Rose is Rose, Classic Peanuts or For Better or Worse (though to be fair, those last two were all reruns anyway). No more Dilbert or Doonesbury. I do quite like having Bizarro, Rhymes with Orange and The Other Coast but would cheerfully dispense with Hagar the Horrible, Family Circus and Hi & Lois. Maybe they could bring back a few golden oldies like Cathy or Calvin & Hobbes? Even Mary Worth and Brenda Starr were good for a few campy laughs!

Then there are the puzzles. No more Canadian Cyberquotes - I used to do those every day without fail. In fact there's very little Canadian content of any kind - it's much more generic. They even tried to get rid of the North of 49 crossword on Saturdays but brought it back after some protests from readers. Even so, it's in much smaller type now, further alienating the paper-paper's main demographic fan base! When they got rid of the Sunday paper, I guess I knew in my heart of hearts that they wouldn't keep giving us double puzzles on Saturdays forever but some of these changes really seem to defy reason.

To be fair, I haven't explored some of the new e-features (there's that awful prefix again) like 6PM updates pushed to your iPad (mainly because I don't have an iPad).
I don't think I'm exactly e-illiterate but I do object to being expected to constantly multitask and skim the surface and not being allowed to go into anything in any depth
any more. Seems to me a good portion of the younger generations have the attention span of a flea.

Is ADD/ADHD the new normal?
Ever since I can remember (maybe even since the paper began), the Ottawa Citizen has put the slogan "Fair Play and Daylight" at the top of its Editorial page. But I've never been sure quite what it meant.

Fair play is certainly important, in the newspaper business as in any other. You don't want to be guilty of libel or promoting hatred; and if you're going to credibly express one point of view, presumably you have to at least have considered some opposing viewpoints before rejecting them for one reason or another. What about daylight? I suppose one function of journalism is to bring to light important issues that some stakeholders would like to shut in a dark closet; another might be to shed additional light on issues of which many of us may be only dimly aware.

Which brings me to the broader issue of daylight, quite apart from the Citizen's slogan. And specifically, Daylight Saving Time. I haven't really researched the matter much, but my understanding is that DST was first introduced during wartime, when street signs were all taken down to confuse the enemy and blackout regulations were in effect after dark. And I believe that during at least part of World War II, Double Daylight Time was introduced to further hoard and make the most of those scarce and precious daytime hours. But is this kind of semiannual time-switching still relevant today?

When I was little, we basically had six months of Standard Time followed by six months of Daylight Time. We changed the clocks on the last Saturday of April and the last Saturday of October. A couple of decades later, it was decided that we should switch to daylight time on the FIRST Saturday in April, but keep the same date for switching back to standard time. So in effect, it was daylight time that was now "standard", since we were on it for nearly seven months of the year. When the U.S. decided to move up daylight time to March, and so-called Standard Time into November, we meekly tagged along. So now, we "spring" ahead before spring has arrived even OFFICIALLY(i.e. at the vernal equinox), let alone actually (which around here is usually several weeks later)! We have a mere four months or so of "standard" time followed by eight months of daylight time.

Strangely, it seems that during these decades, people have been steadily shifting towards doing things earlier in the day, so that the whole point of daylight savings has been thwarted. People start and finish their work-days earlier than they used to. Instead of 9-to-5 or 10-to-6, it's 8-to-4 or 7-to-3. Kids typically used to begin their school day at 9 AM; now many of them start at 8:00 or even earlier. So on bleak March mornings after the clocks have changed, young children and teens are staggering bleary-eyed out of bed and off to school when it's still dark outside!

There is ample evidence out there that constantly shifting back and forth, as well as being forced to be up and about in the dark, has a detrimental effect on our circadian rhythms, our eating and sleeping patterns, our mood, and so forth, and makes us all more accident-prone as a result. So why don't we all follow Saskatchewan's example and call a halt to this madness?

This evening at 8:30 PM EDT, we (along with other participating cities in other time zones) are being encouraged to turn off the lights and play board games by candlelight to observe "Earth Hour". While I sometimes yearn myself for a simpler, more unplugged way of life, I'm sceptical that observing Earth Hour is going to do much of anything to conserve energy or save the planet. I mean, if you really want to save energy, why not just go to bed at 8:30 tonight?

Oh wait, I remember - it's because then we'll be wanting to get up too earlly tomorrow, when it's still dark out!



October 2017



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