[LEAPSECS] The relation between calendars and leap seconds.

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Wed Nov 12 11:06:03 EST 2008

Poul-Henning Kamp wrote:

> Living in a country that legally still uses 'mean solar time on the

> 15the eastern longitude' I find this very hard to belive.


> We have not even come close to eradicating usage of GMT as an

> alias for UTC.

Thanks for emphasizing this point.

> I think it is safe to say, that adding a new timescale will not

> result in its widespread adoption.

Again, we're jumping vast numbers of steps forward to presuming a
solution - even the form of a solution - before capturing use cases
and deriving requirements. In fact, even before successfully
notifying most stakeholders (and no, I don't mean everybody on the
planet) that a change to the status quo is being considered.

However, surely the point of coupling TI with the zoneinfo notion -
just for the sake of argument - is to simply start distributing TI
instead of UTC. Then UTC - a flavor of Universal Time, an alias for
Greenwich Mean Time (which as you say is far from "eradicated") -
remains available for those who need it.

The adoption of TI would be massive and immediate.

UTC would remain behind like the Cheshire Cat's smile.

There would be confusion, just as there is confusion now between UTC
and GMT. However, unlike the ITU proposal, the confusion between UTC
and GMT would not start to quadratically diverge. Over time there
would be time to educate stakeholders about the new distinctions.

Perhaps we could all stop thinking that this is a zero-sum game.

> I live in a world where the exact position of the sun in the sky is

> a lot less important, than what technically inept people have written

> on legally binding papers.

The question is whether the position is stationary (versus a secular
drift), not whether it is exact.

"Legally binding" ultimately has to bow to "physical reality".
Breaking a human law results in various civil and criminal penalties
(or often, does not). Physical law needs no penalties.

> Best practice system engineering is a very bad method for tackling

> legal problems.

Many legal situations depend on systems architecture of one sort or
another. (The law itself is a system, too, of course.) Asserting
that law makers are flawed humans has no bearing on whether the
underlying architecture should be properly built. What's the
alternative? Throw darts?

The levees failed in New Orleans creating massive legal issues.
Should the levees be rebuilt by lawyers or by engineers?


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