[LEAPSECS] Skepticism

Jonathan E. Hardis jhardis at tcs.wap.org
Thu Dec 30 19:06:14 EST 2010

On Dec 30, 2010, at 4:55 PM, Finkleman, Dave wrote:

> [Bob Nelson] has communicated with OSD and my employer castigating

> my campaign for

> consensus that considers the consequences. His communication is all

> emotion and no substance. He conjectures great damage to national

> security and inevitable disaster if the leap second is retained. He

> includes Wayne Hanson, Wayne White, and Ron Beard in his thrust to

> kill

> difference of opinion. He claims that only a "countable few"

> disagree

> with the recommendation. He cites Steve Allen, John Seago, and Ken

> Seidelmann among the countable few. I hesitate to accuse Bob of

> slander, but draw your own conclusions. What course of action would

> the group recommend? Abandon the crusade to save myself?

I am left to presume that the antecedent to this -- and I observe that
all you have provided has been your interpretation of communications
-- was the following boast:

> On Dec 18, 2010, at 12:49 PM, Finkleman, Dave wrote:


>> ... I have almost convinced the USAF to issue a position statement

>> to OSD and the State Department pleading that UTC not change from

>> the current paradigm.

In your "almost successful" effort to convince the USAF, were you
writing as Dave Finkleman, concerned citizen, or as Dave Finkleman,
Senior Scientist of the Center for Space Standards and Innovation? If
the latter, it is you who are leveraging the weight of your employer
(and as a result, some point-of-contact at the Air Force) for what I
suspect is mostly a personal view. It would be perfectly reasonable
for those who don't share your view to want the opportunity to brief
your employer as to the bigger picture. Undoubtedly you understand
that standards are a consensus process, and if the CSSI is going to
weigh in on this, prior presentation of alternate points of view are

In the large, it is amazing to me that the "countable few" on this
mailing list still don't get it. One would think that at least you
guys would acknowledge that when the many experts that have been
involved with ITU-R Study Group 7 reached their conclusion it wasn't
done hastily, foolishly, or in isolation.

To repeat myself, the punch line is this: NO ONE is advocating a
perpetual drift apart between atomic time and "universal" time
(sundial time). The holy war that I read about on this board is based
on an imaginary premise. The only question is whether there is enough
justification to keep DUT1 at 0.9 seconds or less to warrant an
awkward and despised systems of leap seconds (that are erratic,
unpredictable, non-uniformly spaced, and by-and-large unimplemented in
the contemporary digital infrastructure). If, as many believe, 0.9
seconds is "over toleranced" (in this age of time zones, sundials lost
out long ago as an engineering requirement), then we can safely stop
declaring leap seconds for awhile. It would take hundreds of years
for atomic time and sundial time to diverge by more than a few minutes
-- and that's plenty of time to reengineer a more permanent and
appropriate solution. LATER one can have ANOTHER discussion about
perhaps adopting leap-second schemes with regular and predictable
insertions (like we do with days in leap years), or "leap minutes,"
or ... whatever. There is much less urgency to reach consensus on the
next phase before deciding -- simply -- whether the current system of
leap seconds is doing more harm or good.

- Jonathan

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