[LEAPSECS] Schedule for success

Nero Imhard nimh at pipe.nl
Tue Dec 30 12:14:06 EST 2008

On 2008-12-30, at 09:57, Poul-Henning Kamp wrote:

> In message <774B1BAC-3AA2-454E-A141-7FA77D31488B at pipe.nl>, Nero

> Imhard writes:


>> "Although we hear

>> protests, we don't see any objection we deem valid" doesn't quite cut

>> it, does it?


> That's how the ITU works.

Is the ITU sacred in some way? Do these three letters imply that
common sense is suddenly irrelevant?

>> I still don't get why you are insisting that UTC could be changed.


> It was changed in 1958 and 1972, I see nothing preventing it from

> being changed in 2008, -9, -10 or any other year.

Like the redefinition of the meter that you mention, these were not
such fundamental changes as the one now proposed.

>> switching to something like TI [...]


> We have millions of documents which mandate, directly or indirectly,

> the usage of UTC. Starting with legislation about local timezones

> over POSIX to international treaties about transport, communication

> and power-generation.

And if I understand you well, you are saying that it is reasonable to
second-guess the motivation behind all these documents (and those we
haven't thought of) and conclude that it is safe to change a
fundamental property of UTC.

> Taking leap seconds out of UTC has a clear implementation plan, it

> is one document that needs changed and ratified in a UN forum and

> we are done with the problem.

Keeping civil time in line with mean solar time is the key issue that
brought forth various schemes of rubber seconds, leap seconds, etc.
These mechanisms testify that closely following UT has always been the
very goal of UTC. Redefinitions of UTC that refine or reform the
mechnism for following UT may be reasonable. Abandoning the
relationship completely just isn't.

> Changing all the other documents and teaching people about proper

> choice of timescales is a proven path to failure.

Making a proper and deliberate choice will be quite impossible once
the idea is accepted that time scales can be fundamentally altered in

> UTC is a definition for the advancement of international

> communications

> not one of the 10 commandments.

If "the advancement of international communications" were the only
goal and use of UTC, I would have no objection at all. Let the ITU
have a ball with it! But that's just not realistically the case. UTC
always seemed, and has been used, like something from a standards body.


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