[LEAPSECS] How you know you're having an effect (was Re: ...)

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Thu Dec 30 19:20:00 EST 2010

On Dec 30, 2010, at 2:55 PM, Finkleman, Dave wrote:

> He has communicated with OSD and my employer castigating my campaign for consensus that considers the consequences.

Great alliteration!

> His communication is all emotion and no substance.

Then it should be straightforward to refute.

> He conjectures great damage to national security and inevitable disaster if the leap second is retained.

You (I take it) disagree with this conjecture. I also happen to disagree with it. That said, this individual (I've elided his name) is allowed to hold such an opinion. A sane decision-making process would focus on the facts, not on conjecture from any party. For example:

FACT: civil timekeeping is ultimately tied to the synodic day (i.e., "mean solar time")

There is some engineering flexibility in the word "ultimately". The ITU proposal on the other hand is as floppy as overcooked spaghetti.

> He includes Wayne Hanson, Wayne White, and Ron Beard in his thrust to kill difference of opinion.

Not too surprising. This strategy would only work, of course, if these individuals are themselves blind to the facts of the matter.

> He claims that only a "countable few" disagree with the recommendation.

Others have refuted this claim. On this list the numbers of yeas and nays are not more than - say - one order of magnitude different. Which is ahead is not of great import since this is not ultimately an opinion poll. (Of those aware of the issue, I would not presume that "Boo! Leap seconds..." is ahead.)

> He cites Steve Allen, John Seago, and Ken Seidelmann among the countable few.

Hey! What about me?!? :-)

Acknowledging someone with the gravitas of Seidelmann, in particular, as holding an opposing opinion to oneself is not a particular strong bargaining strategy.

> I hesitate to accuse *** of slander, but draw your own conclusions. What course of action would the group recommend? Abandon the crusade to save myself?

Of course not! It's when they start throwing bricks at your head that you know you're doing something right :-)

Keep up the good fight! That said, make sure your boss is aware of your activities. (You might want to avoid the word "crusade" during the conversation :-) If this is not an activity related to your day job you may need to restrict your participation to after hours, etc.

This group most definitely doesn't hold a unified opinion on any of the issues. (Lack of consensus is a strong argument to postpone any action.) I've always presumed that some of the proponents of the inane ITU proposal were lurkers on the mailing list - and that others are blissfully ignorant and spectacularly incurious of anything outside their own narrow bailiwick.


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