Have you noticed how packaged goods are getting smaller, but prices are going up? I think it has something to do with climate change. Well, everything else seems to be caused by climate change. Even the amount of daylight has decreased in the last two weeks by almost 15 minutes! Have there been any concomitant decreases in the cost of summer activities?

Someone will take away another hour of our daylight in the fall. They say they're giving us more night, but that just means we get less day. They say they're saving it up for something, but I never seem to get any daylight back.

It turns out that this whole time-of-day thing is a giant shell game. It all started with the 24-hour day. Scientists know good and well that there aren't 24 hours in a day. In fact, scientists are the ones who clocked a day at being 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds long.

But someone decided to round up and tell us all that we have 24 hours in a day. Who is getting that extra four minutes? Maybe you think this isn't a very big deal, but over the course of a year, four minutes a day adds up to almost a full 24 hours. Have your taxes gone down by 1/365th?

However it's counted, most of us could use an extra 24 hours in a year. And if you add that amount up over . . . well, a lot of years, it turns out to be almost five years. I want a refund. Stealing everyone's time sure ought to be worth a class-action lawsuit or something! Maybe someone could advertise on television, so people could call a phone number if they have been harmed by the theft of their time.

I can't seem to find out whose fault all this is. I think it's like everything else. It gets confusing and everyone blames everyone else. Then by the time we figure out who lied, the liar is already dead and gone. By then there doesn't seem to be much interest anymore.

I am tempted to rage against this injustice and demand that someone be punished. However, the rational, scientific side of my brain assures me that no one will care. At least, I think it was my rational brain. It might have been my wife, since I often get the two mixed up. She also points out that four minutes of lost time in a day isn't a lot compared to the time I've wasted playing the guitar. Of course, that's a completely different thing, because I could have spent those four minutes playing the guitar.

This time-saving game just seems unfair. In the last five years, I have written, produced and self-published seven music CDs and 12 non-fiction books. If I had those five, stolen years back, I could maybe have found a publisher for all these and made some money. But the rational, scientific side of my brain says "probably not."

If you're worried about losing four minutes a day, you might also think about the other ways scientists are stealing our time: such as television, cellphones, internet, and video games. All these have been brought to us courtesy of our friendly, diabolical scientific community. There are other things to do with our time, you know, than watch screens.

Anyway, now I'm onto their little scam. So, to hoist them on their own petard, I am writing a computer program that will set my clocks so that I stay awake later by four minutes every night. It will be additive, so I will be going to sleep later every night until I'll be going to sleep in the daytime. But within the year, I will at least have my day back. Unfortunately, my rational and scientific mind, as well as my wife, think this is a stupid idea.

Gary McCallister, gmccallister@bresnan.net, is a professor emeritus of biological sciences at Colorado Mesa University.

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