Re: [LEAPSECS] The opportunity of leap seconds

From: John Cowan <cowan_at_CCIL.ORG>
Date: Sat, 7 Jan 2006 13:37:12 -0500

Rob Seaman scripsit:

> Unless we *completely* change our notion of Canoli, Canoli is tightly
> constrained to follow Eclair simply by the fact that today and
> tomorrow and the million days that follow are all required to be dark
> at night and light in the day.

I think you are getting carried away by your own rhetoric here. It will
be dark at night and light in the daytime even if we smash every clock
on Earth (not a bad idea, I think sometimes). What you surely mean
is that it should be locally dark when local clocks say 0000 and thereabouts,
and consequently light when they say 1200 and thereabouts. There is
much room for adjustment around the midpoints, however.

> Whether we choose to bleed off the
> daily accumulating milliseconds one second or 3600 at a time, bleed
> them we must...and even people who loathe the very notion of leap
> seconds admit this.

NO, I DON'T ADMIT THAT. On the contrary, I deny it, flatly, roundly,
and absolutely.

> (The craven ITU proposal is obligated to pay lip
> service to leap hours, though what they really are saying is "let's
> close our eyes and wish it away".) Time to move on.

The leap-hour proposal can be read as either (a) a serious proposal to
inject an hour into UTC at some future date, or (b) a cynical proposal to
abandon leap seconds and not replace them.

I think (a) is just as foolish as leap seconds, if not more so. As for
(b), it may be the best political approximation to what I really want,
which is (c): abandon leap seconds altogether.

"But then, soon enough, it won't be dark at 0000!" Yes it will, just
not in the skies over Greenwich. Practical difficulties can be overcome
by making secular changes to the offsets between LCT and UTC, just as is
done today when such problems arise. (In the next two years, the U.S.,
to name just one country, will make two secular changes to its LCT offsets.)

The computerniks of the world already know how to handle such things,
so future migrations will not be a problem.

And people who want, for their legitimate purposes, to have access to UT1
will have to get it some other way.

It was impossible to inveigle           John Cowan <>
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 
Into offering the slightest apology
For his Phenomenology.                      --W. H. Auden, from "People" (1953)
Received on Sat Jan 07 2006 - 10:37:27 PST

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