The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'time'
Spain is looking at changing its time zone. While its longitude is close to Britain's, Spain shares with the rest of western and central Europe the condition of being one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. This state of affairs originated during World War 2, when the dictator Franco unilaterally changed Spain's timezone to match that of Germany, in solidarity with the Nazi regime; what the iron fist of fascism put in place, inertia kept in place, leading to a national case of jetlag:
"Because of a great historical error, in Spain we eat at 2pm, and we don't have dinner until 9pm, but according to the position of the sun, we eat at the same time as the rest of Europe: 1pm and 8pm," explained Professor Nuria Chinchilla, director of the International Centre for Work and Family at the IESE Business School. "We are living with 71 years of jet-lag, and it's unsustainable.
Another thing that needs to change is late-night prime-time TV, said Buqueras. "In England, the largest TV audience is at 7 or 8pm, but in Spain, it's 10pm. Because at 8pm in Spain, barely 50% of the population is at home, and you have to wait until 10pm to find that number of people at home, thus guaranteeing the viewing figures needed for prime time. Sometimes football matches don't kick off until 11pm!" he said.
All of this means people go to bed far later than they should and get less sleep than they need. Studies suggest Spaniards sleep an hour less than the rest of Europe, which means more accidents at work, less efficiency, and more children missing school. Additionally they work longer hours than their German and British counterparts, but are much less efficient.Any change to Spain's time zone is likely to also result in an end (or at least a great reduction) to the traditional siesta, the midday break for a long lunch and a nap.
With the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan having begun, some Islamic scholars are pushing to replace Greenwich Mean Time with a new standard based on Mecca time, at least in the Islamic world. The scholars assure us that the choice of Mecca as a global meridian has a sound scientific basis:
According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric known around the Muslim world for his popular television show "Sharia and Life", Mecca has a greater claim to being the prime meridian because it is "in perfect alignment with the magnetic north."
This claim that the holy city is a "zero magnetism zone" has won support from some Arab scientists like Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed of the Egyptian National Research Centre who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca.Not surprisingly, these "scientific" claims have not met with universal acceptance. In any case, magnetism or not, it'll be interesting to see whether Mecca Time makes inroads into replacing GMT in the Islamic world. I imagine it'll have an easier time of gaining acceptance than other proposed time standards (such as, say, Swatch's so-called "Internet Time", a weird form of metric time proposed in the 1990s and not actually connected to any internet standards), given that the conversion is merely a matter of adding a few hours.
(via Boing Boing)
The writer L.P. Hartley once stated that the past is a foreign country where they do things differently. Today's Cat And Girl revises this, arguing that, in the age of globalisation, instantaneous communication and accelerating change, our past is more foreign to our present selves than actual foreign countries are.
Venezuela's increasingly autocratic socialist president Hugo Chavez's latest act has been to change Venezuela's time zone by half an hour. The announcement was made suddenly, and takes effect on Sunday. Chavez says that the shift will improve the "metabolism" of Venezuela's workers and allow children to go to school in sunlight. There may be geopolitical symbolism in the act, though: the majority of the Capitalist-Imperialist world's time zones are in one hour increments from Greenwich, whereas time zones breaking away from the Greenwich-imperialist tyranny include ideologically sound holdouts against the Washington consensus, such as Iran, Afghanistan and Burma. (And, oddly enough, South Australia.)
It has not been recorded whether Chavez intends to rename the months, seasons or ages of man. Rumours that Ken Livingstone is planning to shift London's time zone by half an hour in solidarity have not been confirmed.
John C. Dvorak takes a break from speculating about Apple and Microsoft to look at how strange our world would look to someone from the 1920s:
Let me begin with the one new commonplace practice that has less to do with technology than with legislation. And that's the crowd of people huddled in a group outside a building smoking cigarettes. This would have to be a weird sight for people from 1920. We don't think much about it, but it is indeed a weird sight.
Perhaps the weirdest societal change has to do with digital cameras and the practice of framing shots in the preview window by holding the camera out in front of yourself. Even ten years ago, nobody would have predicted that most people would now take pictures this way. Give people a pro digital SLR camera and they will still hold the thing in front of them at arm's length.(Are there digital SLRs that display a preview of the scene on the LCD screen in real time? My Canon EOS doesn't do that. I thought the whole point of an SLR is to require the photographer to look through the viewfinder, thus reinforcing their perception that they're a Real Photographer following a weighty and time-honoured tradition and standing on the shoulders of giants like Ansel Adams, rather than a mere amateur playing ignorantly around with a shiny, instantly-gratifying toy.)
Would anyone even 20 years ago have predicted that on every business card you will now find a standardized e-mail address? It's now deemed weird if you do not have an e-mail address on the card and have to write it on.All these things and others he mentions (mobile phones/BlackBerries, chatrooms, and so on) would seem utterly alien to someone from the 1920s (though I wonder whether any futurists or science-fiction writers from those times have predicted anything that comes close to the mark). When you think about it, some of them would seem quite odd to someone who had been asleep for a quarter of a century. One thinks of the 1980s, for example, as the recent past (after all, they had Madonna and Michael Jackson) rather than the Past proper, that foreign country (as L.P. Hartley put it) where they do things differently. Though someone who just woke up from having been in a coma since 1981 would find themselves in a different world: lacking a lot of little things they took for granted (like being able to smoke in offices, or on aeroplanes) and having a bunch of new, alien innovations (the internet and mobile phones, and the profound changes in social and cultural dynamics they have brought about, would be the big ones). To our 1981 exile, our mundane technology would seem slightly science-fictional: from our tiny, feature-packed DVD recorders and MP3 players (does anyone remember how huge early video recorders were?) to communications devices like something out of Star Trek, 2006 would look like scifi, only without the silver lamé jumpsuits and flying cars and other stylistic conventions that say "this is the (space-)future".
The iPods people listen to would seem familiar enough to our visitor, like a more advanced Walkman; what they'd make of the mainstream pop music of today, infused with influences from everything from hip-hop (a fringe scene in 1981, well below the radar) to dance-music genres driven by recent technology, is another matter. If the iPod in question was playing one of the various retro-styled acts popular today, from Gang Of Four/XTC-quoting new-wave-indie-art-rock bands to the last Madonna album, they may find it slightly familiar, though all the more unsettling in the subtle differences that betray it as of 2006, and made for a 2006 audience.
What if someone from 1991 arrived in 2006, with no awareness of the last 15 years? The shock would be somewhat lesser (though, in some ways, perhaps greater; the current age of homeland security and perpetual war against sinister shadows could be more of a rude awakening from the post-Berlin-Wall optimism of the 1990s than from the age of Mutual Assured Destruction). Email addresses on business cards would still seem a bit odd, though if our visitor was an academic or scientist, they would be familiar with them, and one could just about imagine the current state of the world leading to 2006, with its web-based commerce and pocket-sized, ubiquitous mobile phones. Though digital cameras could still seem strange.
In other words, the immediate past is a different neighbourhood; they do things slightly differently there. Go far enough and people start speaking a different language, though if you do so a day at a time, you won't notice the changes.
I wonder how strange 2016, or 2031, would seem to someone from now.
The BBC News magazine looks at the question of when spring actually starts:
"You would not regard the first three weeks of June as spring, yet historically summer does not start until 21 June," says a spokesman for the Met Office. "Equally, the bulk of people now regard 1 March as the first day of spring."
Historically spring starts on the day of the vernal equinox, which usually occurs on the night of 20/21 March.
After all, summer is commonly decreed to start on 21 June - the Summer Solstice - yet the following day is known as MID-summer's day.I've always thought that spring would run, in the northern hemisphere, from the start of March to the end of May, regardless of what the actual weather was like. Though perhaps that has to do with having grown up in Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere, where there are fewer ancient date-keeping traditions and things are somewhat simplified (for example, the Australian financial year starts on the first of July, and the Australian school/university year runs from the end of January to the end of November, give or take a few weeks, while in the northern hemisphere, the financial year starts/ends in early April (which, apparently, comes from ancient Roman tax laws or something), and the school year starts in September (as per the Field Mice song and the gripes about AOL dumping its naïve users on an unsuspecting Usenet). Similarly, the seasons are held to align evenly with 3-month boundaries, even though the start of a season usually feels more like the preceding season. I wonder how long ago this 3-month system replaced the traditional definitions of the seasons.
The Indian Ocean earthquake may not only have killed a lot of people and wiped out entire towns, it may have also permanently taken a fraction of a second off each day, by accelerating the Earth's rotation.
Meanwhile, some experts say it's only a matter of time before a landslide in the Canary Islands causes a mega-tsunami in the Atlantic, with unimaginably devastating effects; places like Ireland and south-west England will get off lightly, with only waves similar to those that battered Sri Lanka and Thailand; meanwhile, the east coast of the US will be wiped out with 20-50-metre waves obliterating cities including New York and Washington DC, and the Caribbean and northeastern Brazil would suffer similar devastation. And since it would be impossible to evacuate the entire eastern seaboard in a few hours and impractical to do so preventively for an indefinite period, nobody wants to hear about an early-warning system:
No national leader wants to evacuate the entire coast for an indefinite period of time, causing an economic and refugee crisis on the scale of a world war, for what might be a false alarm. But nobody wants to ignore a warning, and perhaps be responsible for tens of millions of deaths. From a political standpoint, it's better not to have the warning at all.
Mind you, that's only one opinion; some dude on Slashdot said that the depth profile of the Atlantic would cause such tsunamis to dissipate more rapidly, so perhaps things will turn out OK.
Anyway, back to the spin-acceleration thing; this means that there'll be, theoretically, even less time in a day to do things. I, for one, wouldn't mind if someone devised a way of slowing Earth's rotation down, giving its inhabitants a 25- or 26-hour period to go about their day in; those of us with longer-than-24-hour biological clocks, who otherwise tend to retire and rise later each day, would be grateful.
Scotland may soon have its own time zone. Which isn't just some kind of token sop to the nationalists to stop them from demanding secession, but comes from people in England wanting to move to continental time to get lighter evenings, a move blocked by Scottish MPs who don't want their mornings to get any darker. If the move does happen, of course, it means that Greenwich Mean Time will never again be equal to UTC.
Frequently Asked Questions about Calendars, which has a lot of information about how the Christian, Hebrew, Islamic, French Revolutionary, Mayan and Chinese calendars work. (via gimbo)
To commemorate the September 11 attacks and impress the might of America on all those who may seek to challenge it, a US radio talk show host has proposed moving the Prime Meridian to New York, and redrawing maps and calendars.
"I recommend that the Prime Meridian be moved to New York. Let's put it right down the middle of Ground Zero so all our enemies will know where our time begins. Instead of a polite English voice announcing the hour, we will use voices of the survivors of the terrorist attack. And every year, on the precise anniversary of the attack, we will stop time for a few minutes to honor the dead and force the whole world to mourn with us, whether they like it or not.
Which reads rather like Jonathan Swift combined with Ed Anger. (via bOING bOING)