Google news alerts condemn the ITU

From: Steve Allen <sla_at_UCOLICK.ORG>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 10:35:45 -0800

Dr. Matsakis has revealed something much more deep about the ITU
and leap seconds than he realized.

On Fri 2005-11-11T02:55:22 -0500, hath writ:
> There is a nifty google feature that will scour the internet for news
> articles on any subject, and send you weeky, daily, or immediate
> notifications.
> Browse on
> Beware- If you ask for 'leap second' you will get more than you want!
> Ask for "leap second", and you will get emails like what is below.

As I mentioned, I've been scanning for news in other languages.
Until yesterday I was a bit mystified to find that searches on
the Spanish term "segundo intercalar" produced nothing. Then a hint from
a Spanish weblog prompted me to try something different.

See what you get if you try this link today

However, if you try the following link today you get much more
It is evident that the Spanish language press picked up the press release from
Nothnagel at U Bonn.

It is also evident that when they translated the press release from German to
Spanish they had no idea what the canonical name of a leap second was.
They used the words "segundo adicional" instead of "segundo intercalar".

The text of ITU-R TF.460-6 is available from the ITU in three languages:
English, French, and Spanish. The Spanish text plainly indicates that the
name for a leap second is "segungo intercalar", plural "segundos intercalares".

But nobody knows this.
Because for practical purposes ITU-R TF.460-6 is a secret.

Everyone in the world is supposed to implement it in their operational
and legal systems, but it is not openly available for them to see it.

If there is blame to be had for improper implementation and use of
leap seconds it is pretty clear where that blame lies.
The same analysis probably applies to the reason why POSIX had "double
leap seconds" in its specification for a decade.

I agree with Andreas Bauch of the German PTB when he was quoted
recently in Die Welt
but the blame for the ignorance which has contributed to sloppy software
does not belong on the programmers.

Last week the WP7A reported that they lacked consensus.
I know I am not alone in thinking that one of the first things that
WP7A needs to do is to publish ITU-R TF.460 with no access restriction.

Steve Allen                 <>                WGS-84 (GPS)
UCO/Lick Observatory        Natural Sciences II, Room 165    Lat  +36.99858
University of California    Voice: +1 831 459 3046           Lng -122.06014
Santa Cruz, CA 95064     Hgt +250 m
Received on Thu Nov 17 2005 - 10:36:24 PST

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