mm272: What the devil time is it anyway?

MUDGE’S Musings

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

[MUDGE is not especially a popular music fan in the conventional definition, but there are things that stick. Brass and woodwinds stick. And, after all, Chicago is home.]

In more and more parts of the world, time, specifically time zones, have become a political football.

The history of time zones has mostly to do with that engine of the industrial revolution, railroads.

Our Wikipedia link says that most major countries had adopted the classic system by 1929, but there are some exceptions, most notably India, which uses a half-hour deviation.

Turns out that it’s never been that cut and dried. There are even some areas with quarter-hour deviations. And some areas, Wikipedia reports, where three nations meet, encompassing three different time zones.

Lately, though, it’s really getting weird.

Caught this over breakfast the other day, in The Economist, the best magazine (about and) on the planet.


Stop all the clocks

Jan 24th 2008 | BUENOS AIRES | From The Economist print edition

On Patagonian time

NO FARTHER from the equator than are Los Angeles or Beirut, Buenos Aires is hardly known as a land of midnight sun. But at 10pm in the southern hemisphere summer, it is still not dark in Argentina’s capital. For this eerie illumination, porteños can thank Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the country’s new president. She decreed that the clocks should go forward by an hour on December 30th for eleven weeks in a desperate attempt to allay energy shortages.

Its geographical position suggests that most of Argentina should be four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. But it has been only three hours behind for most of the period since 1969, when a military government made summer time last the whole year. Now it is just two hours behind, until mid-March.

I suppose it’s a reasonably lightweight way of exercising national sovereignty: local time in Freedonia is exactly what I say it is!

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Argentina | Stop all the clocks |

Time has always been important to yr (justifiably) humble svt. Even as a kid, my mother tells me that she knew that, if I was supposed to be home by 6 o’clock, there I’d be.

I married a lovely person who feels exactly the same way – we’re never purposefully late, and it tears us up if we’re even a few minutes tardy.

I own more than 10 (very inexpensive) watches. And yes, each one tells a slightly different time.

A few posts ago I introduced one of my most useful links, to In my role as global web conferencing facilitator and instructor, I really need to know what the local time will be for the meeting or class I will conduct. If you click this link, and select the applet version, you’ll see the 25 cities I’ve chosen for my Personal World Clock.

But I’m not obsessed. Really.

However, it does make me upset when politicians play fast and loose with their local time, for no other reason than asserting their power to do so.

Ms Fernández is not alone in fiddling with time. Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s populist president with whom she is friendly, decreed last month that his country’s clocks should go back by half an hour permanently. The change, aimed at ensuring children go to school in daylight, “affects even the biological functioning of the body,” said Mr Chávez. Maybe, but the result is that Caracas is now two and a half hours behind Mendoza, which is further west. It’s enough to make the condors drop out of the sky in confusion.

Wow, I Wish I Could Write Like That! And, wow, I wish these self-important presidents would stick to playing with their currency and nationalized oil producers, and leave time alone.

And, before I leave off, might as well share another clip with you, if you’d care to indulge.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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