Starting with Setting

My procedural novel generator (see also part one, part two, and part three) has now been augmented with some rudimentary support for settings, both time and place. An example follows:

Here is a tale from the world of Samoa. Samoa is mostly populated by Italians.

I, Giusa Rosi, am a thirty-nine-year-old woman. I have black hair. I have green eyes. I stand 146 centimetres tall. I am somewhat reluctant to accept new ideas. I am easily disturbed or irritated.

Baffaele Bianchiccino is a fifteen-year-old boy. He has black hair. He has green eyes. He stands 184 centimetres tall. He is very open to new ideas and experiences.

I do not know Baffaele Bianchiccino very well. I scorn Baffaele Bianchiccino. I do not trust Baffaele Bianchiccino.

One thousand three hundred sixty-four seconds ago, I walked to Lita.

Seven hundred fifty-four seconds ago, I met Baffaele Bianchiccino. Then, Baffaele Bianchiccino and I walked to Rovo.

Ten seconds ago, Baffaele Bianchiccino kicked me. I kicked Baffaele Bianchiccino.

Clearly, I have been focusing more on the story itself rather than the writing style (no serious author would mark up each line with the exact number of seconds ago the event took place).


These Clocks are Still Broken

Tomorrow, some of my clocks will be wrong. But that will not be their fault. They will keep time correctly. That’s what a clock should do. A clock keeps time.

But for some reason, society demands we use the clocks that do their job wrong—the clocks that insist after 1:59 comes 1:00, contrary to the basic laws of arithmetic.

Clocks are not a political tool. Clocks should not be used to nudge our sleep and wake times. If we fail to use daylight to its maximum extent, then what should be changed are our work and school hours, not our clocks.

In a few hours, we change to standard time again. This time, let’s keep it that way.

(Please see last year’s post, This Clock is Broken, for a more pragmatic argument against Daylight Saving Time.)

This Clock is Broken

Daylight Saving Time was invented a hundred years ago. It worked a hundred years ago. But is this still the case?

In our modern, computerized world, designing systems around arbitrary clock jumps is a huge drain on innovation and productivity. In 2007, the US Government changed the dates that DST started and ended on, breaking uncountable pieces of software and wasting thousands of person-hours tracking down resulting bugs.

It’s clear that computers hate Daylight Savings Time. But what about for humans? Is there a tangible benefit for us?

The common arguments for Daylight Saving Time don’t stand up to rigorous scientific studies. It turns out that DST does not save energy in today’s world. Electricity consumption is now tied more to temperature than sunlight, and the original argument that evening sunlight will lower incandescent bulb use is now irrelevant.

China, India, and Russia, three of the largest countries in the world by economic size or population, have all tried and abandoned Daylight Saving Time, because it simply does not make sense. The proposal has caused so much harm to farmers that the province of Saskatchewan no longer observes Daylight Saving Time.

Contrary to its name, Daylight Saving Time does not have anything to do with saving daylight. A clock that abruptly changes by one hour twice a year does not actually alter sunrise and sunset. The natural length of the day (obviously) remains unchanged no matter what we do to our clocks.

The idea behind Daylight Saving Time is to modify human schedules to better use the daylight. It attempts this by throwing the clock off from its natural course. But this is the wrong use of a clock. The purpose of a clock is to record time. DST is breaking a useful tool that works to solve a “problem” that many don’t agree is even a problem.

Instead of fiddling with our clocks, why don’t we change our schedules? Why don’t we change working hours or school hours, so we directly fix the problem of human activities not being in sync with sunlight?

In a few hours, we change to Standard Time again. Let’s stay here this time around.

Wow, has the time passed!

Today, 16 July 2014, I turn 17 years old.

Seventeen years ago I was brought into the world. It didn’t feel like seventeen whole years. One more year and I’m legally an adult. I don’t feel like an adult. Maybe there’s a magical switch that will be turned exactly one year from now.

I have one more year as a kid, so I have a few things that should get done during the next year. Knowing myself, approximately 99.7% of this list will be postponed to a later time. But it never hurts to try.