Re: [LEAPSECS] PT Barnum was right

From: Rob Seaman <>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2006 14:03:45 -0700

On Jul 6, 2006, at 12:46 PM, Brian Garrett wrote:

> I was told that the station delays their broadcast in order to
> enable on-the-spot editing of objectionable material.

Surely the requirement is to permit review of *potentially*
objectionable material. A time signal is no such thing and need not
be delayed. Proper system design would interpose time signals (and
perhaps other safe content such as weather reports or what have you)
after the delay line. Am also skeptical that most stations employ a
24 hour censor to monitor and bleep all content before it reaches the
air. (And who would want such a horrific job?)

> it's in networks' best interests to do this even if it means
> setting your watch to their time signal means being 9 seconds late.

That's just one use case, of course. Folks who set their watches
using well synchronized time signals, or who consult their cellphones
or NTP driven laptops, will be ahead of this particular radio
station. Nine seconds is meaningless for many purposes, but a 9s
"simulcast" delay would be intolerable, for instance. Usage issues
might also be revealed when switching between stations.

My thought when we reach one of these topics is to marvel at the
chutzpah of proposing a "solution" like leap hours without investing
the slightest effort in characterizing potential issues. Timekeeping
can't simultaneously be the deeply important issue we all must think
it is (or else would not be reading this :-) and also be worthy of
such abject neglect.

> "The 'time' as most of us know it is simply inexpensive crumbs from
> the tables of the few rich "gourmet" consumers of time and
> frequency information."

Astronomers have traditionally been not only among the most demanding
gourmets, but have also employed some of the greatest temporal
chefs. This is indeed a pretty good analogy, although the word
"inexpensive" is out of place. The point is that a crumb from the
table of a gourmet is still a gourmet crumb. A parvenu of time can
also aspire to become a gourmet should the need or interest arise. I
believe this describes the world we currently inhabit.

> we're being served chronological junk food and most folks couldn't
> care less.

This is a different analogy. It isn't a question of "most folks", it
is a question of for "most purposes". Even gourmets sometimes
appreciate a simple meal. And on the other hand, the temporal hoi
polloi are dependent more-and-more on chronological caviar through
the offices of various technological agents. Cellphones don't only
report high quality timing information, they and their networks
require this to operate.

But your analogy is quite apt for the world that would follow the
adoption of the Absurd Leap Hour Proposal. All time signals would
then become junk food. All gourmets would find themselves in the
position of dumpster divers.

Received on Thu Jul 06 2006 - 14:09:55 PDT

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