Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Living On Venezeula Time; or Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?

Time itself is being altered in the South American country of Venezeula, or as it's president, Hugo Chavez has renamed the nation, Bolivarian Republic of Venezeula. Or it will be altered, probably in January, since a plan to re-set the clocks there by half an hour this past Monday was a bust.

Even Chavez had seemed unprepared. When he first made the announcement, he told Venezuelans to move their clocks forward, when really the measure requires them to be turned back.

In delaying the shift, Chavez said on Sunday that Venezuela still had to complete the necessary bureaucratic steps with international organizations.

Chavez has dismissed criticism that moving the time only a half hour was quirky, questioning why the world had to follow a scheme of hourly divisions that he said was dictated by the imperial United States."

Other nations have also decided on their own to alter time settings, which I suppose is simply a minor deal in most minds. Although I thought the hourly division of time was a world-wide norm, and learned it is not, as Tibet is on a 15-minute time difference from GMT.

But GMT - Greenwich Mean Time - is really not the standard time-keeper it used to be. Since 1961, the standard is really based on UTC, which stands for Coordinated Universal Time, and which some debate occured as to whether we should call it UTC, CUT, or TUC, which is French for Temps Universel Coordone. At least, that is the history of our changing time according to WikiPedia, which may have a Liberal bias according to ConservaPedia.

And even the creation of GMT was a formalization of time made in 1884 since the vast majority of navigation maps used Greenwich as the Prime Meridian in 1884. UTC is based on atomic time standards and the apparent rotation of the planet.

Which means that time, really, is whatever we decide it is, depending on the beliefs and/or needs of earthly inhabitants at any particular moment. Which means I am never ever going to accept blame again about not being on time, as I can claim atomic alterations in leap seconds. At least, I think I can claim that. Or perhaps I can claim an adherence to GMT is not as accurate as UTC, or as they write on that nefarious WikiPedia:

Noon Greenwich Mean Time is not necessarily the moment when the Sun crosses the Greenwich meridian (and reaches its highest point in the sky in Greenwich) because of Earth's uneven speed in its elliptic orbit and its axial tilt. This event may be up to 16 minutes away from noon GMT (this discrepancy is known as the equation of time). The fictitious mean sun is the annual average of this nonuniform motion of the true Sun, necessitating the inclusion of mean in Greenwich Mean Time.

Historically the term GMT has been used with two different conventions for numbering hours. The old astronomical convention (before 1925) was to refer to noon as zero hours, whereas the civil convention during the same period was to refer to midnight as zero hours. The latter is modern astronomical and civil convention. The more specific terms UT and UTC do not share this ambiguity, always referring to midnight as zero hours."

The headache which I induced by trying to puzzle out just what time it might be at any particular point has lasted, though I am reluctant to say it, for some time.

Some say time is a dimension all unto itself outside the observable three dimensions (thanks, Einstein), and some say time is simply an imaginary construct.. And isn't The Fifth Dimension a band from the Sixties???

And all of the above brought another thought to my admittedly confused mind: If humans scattered across the earth cannot agree to what time is might be, will we ever agree on anything at all?

And if somehow a planet-wide single acceptance of what time truly is takes place, will all other debatable topics be rendered into uniform acceptance too? Judging by human history, I say no. We seem prone to debate on any topic imaginable. More likely, all my ponderings are mere indicators that I scored poorly in math and geometry classes and scored better in philosophy classes.

And now my headache is worse and I should just go be quiet for a time.

Or should I say if you have read this far, I am sorry I took up your time??


  1. I hope this doesn't exacerbate the headache.

  2. Steve -

    it's like you tased me bro! Ow ow ow ow ow ow OW!!

    seriously, thanks for the link!!