[LEAPSECS] princes

Steve Allen sla at ucolick.org
Wed Oct 29 01:46:08 EDT 2008

On slashdot last month the discussion about the USNO poll on leap
seconds in broadcast time signals degenerated into one largely about
daylight time. On contributor pointed out something notable: Civil
Time has always been the purview of princes. That poster did not
mention Machiavelli, but I think that's very much the point.

A year or so back Hugo Chavez simply announced that Venezuela's
timezone would shift by half an hour starting the next week.
A couple of years back some folks in the US Capitol proclaimed that we
would save energy if we changed to and from daylight time on different
dates, and since Sunday my VCR is off by an hour.
In 1999 the parliaments of the Australian states decided that
their daylight dates would shift because of the Olympics.
In 2006 all of Indiana started using daylight time because
the governor said so.
In 1974 and 1975 I stood awaiting my school bus in the dark
because congress decided that would save energy.
In 1970 the CCIR decided that an agency headquartered in Paris would
get to tell us all when to stop our clocks for a second.
It goes back to 1901, when the whole world started to tell what time
it was based on Simon Newcomb, which was about the time he himself was
recanting what he said in 1884 while the French delegates were
realizing that the POTUS and USDoS had called a conference that would
railroad the world to choose Greenwich.

Some of the princes are politically that, others are scientifically
so, but really civil time under the dictate of princes goes back much
farther than that. A coworker pointed out that the clock in his
upstairs bathroom was always 5 minutes fast, but when he reset it to
match the rest of the world both of the women in the house objected.

Every one of us knows that in order for things to remain civil, it's
imperative to listen to whoever has the authority to say "It's time
for bed," and "It's time to get up." That's civil time.

Steve Allen <sla at ucolick.org> WGS-84 (GPS)
UCO/Lick Observatory Natural Sciences II, Room 165 Lat +36.99855
University of California Voice: +1 831 459 3046 Lng -122.06015
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 http://www.ucolick.org/~sla/ Hgt +250 m

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