[LEAPSECS] the big artillery

Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Thu Nov 6 14:09:40 EST 2014

On Nov 6, 2014, at 11:24 AM, Dennis Ferguson <dennis.c.ferguson at gmail.com> wrote:

>> On Nov 6, 2014, at 11:19, Clive D.W. Feather <clive at davros.org> wrote:
>> Tony Finch said:
>>>> "minutes" and "seconds" are fractions of 60 and have been so since
>>>> babylonian times for minutes and since 13-mumble for seconds.
>>> The etymology is actually helpful in this case rather than misleading as
>>> etymologies so often are.
>>> "minute" is short for "pars minuta prima", the first small part
>>> "second" is short for "pars minuta secunda", the second small part
>> And I've seen "third" and "fourth", with the obvious meaning, used in old
>> documents.
>> But etymology doesn't override present meanings.
> It isn't really a question of what present meanings are, but of whether they are
> a good idea or not.  If the hectosecond were redefined to sometimes be 99 or 101
> seconds, with a table lookup required to find out which kind you were in, I wouldn't
> think that was a good idea even if it did fix a problem someone was having.
> In some ways the UTC minute redefinition is even worse than that.  A 6 year old
> might not know how many seconds are in a hectosecond but would often be
> expected to know there are 60 seconds in a minute.  Redefining this to be otherwise
> seems bound to cause cognitive dissonance in many grown up former 6 year olds.

As smart as computers are, they are less smart and less flexible than 6 year olds.

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