[LEAPSECS] What's the point?

Poul-Henning Kamp phk at phk.freebsd.dk
Tue Feb 8 11:29:17 EST 2011

In message <C039F0B1-9AE6-4454-9587-CCD1A8642286 at noao.edu>, Rob Seaman writes:

>Poul-Henning Kamp wrote:

>> The ITU proposal does not in fact talk about civil time at all,

>>it talks only about the timescale civil time is defined relative

>>to: UTC.

>Civil timekeeping is a worldwide system.

No it is not.

UTC is a "worldwide coorporation" or "worldwide coordination" if you

There is no international entity which can mandate what civil time
must be in any particular country, and therefore there is no other
system than what emerges through voluntary coordination and

And the cooperation only happens to the extent people want to, there
are no penalties for deciding on stupid timekeeping in your own

Nobody can prevent your government or my government from defining
local time as UTC + Xh 31 minutes + 41.5 seconds.

UTC is not civil time anywhere, unless the local government decided
that the offset between civil time and UTC should be zero, and
these governments are as free as all other governments to change
their mind and the constant, or even to make it a variable if
they wish.


Poul-Henning Kamp | UNIX since Zilog Zeus 3.20
phk at FreeBSD.ORG | TCP/IP since RFC 956
FreeBSD committer | BSD since 4.3-tahoe
Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

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