- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 8, 2009

Today is the start of Daylight Saving Time. If that’s news to you, then it’s later than you think.

I hate the start of Daylight Saving. Setting my clock ahead an hour makes me feel like I’m being robbed of something precious — an hour’s worth of sleep. It makes me an hour older before I’m ready to accept the idea.

The idea behind Daylight Saving is that people will use less energy because they’ll turn their lights on an hour later in the evenings. What I find is that I turn my lights on an hour earlier in the mornings to avoid stumbling around in the dark.

But that’s just me. I’m sure the government knows what it’s doing.

•••


I saw a story the other day about how some state governments are thinking about doing away with executions in order to save money.

Death penalty cases take longer to try, require more lawyers and generate more appeals — factors that can cost states millions of dollars for each case over several years.

So Maryland, Montana and New Mexico are said to be close to banning executions. And Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and New Hampshire are considering similar legislation.

Then I overheard this conversation in a Maryland penitentiary (mostly in my head):

Death-row inmate: “So I guess this is it, huh? You’re going to execute me.”

Corrections official: “Oh, no. We don’t do that anymore.”

Death-row inmate: “No? Why? Too much opposition based on moral principle?”

Corrections official: “Nope.”

Death-row inmate: “Fear about the possibility of executing an innocent convict?”

Corrections official: “Nah.”

Death-row inmate: “Concerns about the societal effects of retributive justice?”

Corrections official: “Huh? No, nothing like that. It’s just that killing somebody costs a lot of money. You know, all the legal stuff and whatnot. Frankly, we’re amazed you could afford to do it.”

Death-row inmate: “Well, I did take out a federal loan. And I saved a bit on my own.”

Corrections official: “Thought it had to be something like that. If we could get some of that bailout money, you’d be toast.”

Death-row inmate: “Whew! That’s a relief! So what you gonna do instead?”

Corrections official: “Well, basically, we’re gonna house you, feed you, clothe you and give you free health care. That oughta teach you a lesson.”

Death-row inmate: “I feel smarter already.”

•••


Famous quotations, appended for our times:

• Neither a borrower nor a lender be, unless you do it with taxpayer money.

• These are the times that try men’s souls — and put a hurtin’ on their underwear.

• Nothing is certain but death and taxes; however, bailouts are nothing to sneeze at.

• The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And salmonella.

• He that goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing. True dat, boo.

•••


Did you see that report about the two big-time money managers who were charged with running a $550 million fraud scheme for 10 years by using client investments as their personal piggy bank?

Federal prosecutors said Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh used their clients’ money to buy racehorses, mansions and mohair teddy bears. They even once owned the New York Islanders hockey team.

Mohair teddy bears?! These guys skim more than $500 million from client investments, and they buy mohair teddy bears?! What did they call themselves — the Winnie the Pooh Gang?

If the charges are true, it’s amazing they got away with the fraud for so long. I mean, a surplus of mohair teddy bears is a sure sign of money badly spent. They teach you that in investigative school: follow the teddy bear trail.

If there’s one good thing emerging from this economic downturn, it’s that we’re finding out who’s been scamming our cash for all these years. I would have blamed it on late-night infomercials.

•••


I’m lucky that my wife is such a good sport because, with my sophomoric sense of humor, I’d be hospitalized if I were married to someone with a shorter fuse.

Last Monday morning, we were at home watching the reports about the heavy snowfall and all the traffic accidents on the major roadways, when I announced that I would be going to work. She looked concerned.

“Well, be sure to call me when you get there,” she said.

“I will.”

I walked downstairs to my home office and phoned her. “I’m at work now.”

“You said you were leaving for work,” she said.

“No, I said I’m going to work,” I said. “Isn’t life with me fun?”

“Oh, it’s an adjective,” she said.

•••


Scientists have proposed placing a 100,000-square-mile “sun shade” in orbit above the earth to combat global warming. Really.

University of Arizona astronomer Roger Angel devised the $350 trillion project (that’s trillion, with a “T”) and says it could be launched in 20 years. It calls for trillions of tiny mirrors to be blasted into orbit to deflect the sun’s rays.

Angel says he already has secured money from NASA for a pilot project.

You know, I thought all the fuss about global warming was over manmade “contributions” to greenhouse gases, not heat from the sun. I have some concerns about blocking sunlight. Just look at my lawn.

I mean, once we get the mirrors up there, will we be able to “turn them off” when the temperature falls? Or will we have to launch a giant hammer to smash them? That would be, like, 700 trillion years of bad luck.

You can reach Carleton Bryant at 202-636-3218 and cbryant@washingtontimes.com.

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