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When you have multiple blogs on Tumblr, it’s a little too easy to post to the wrong one. The post that I originally put here has been moved to my Trimet e-Ticket Beta blog.
State Liquor Laws and Recorded Bigfoot Sightings
Moose love a restitution picnic.
When the developers pounce on me and try to prove me wrong about something
None of the developers I’ve ever worked with are cute and cuddly. Rather the opposite in fact.
During the twice-yearly debate about Daylight Time, somebody always argues that setting the clock forward disconnects us from “real” time — time as indicated by the Sun. The obvious response is that most people are already disconnected. They’re a significant distance from the reference meridian for their time zone. For example, I live at 122° longitude, 2 degrees west of the reference longitude for the Pacific Time Zone. Only 8 minutes off, but it’s pretty common for people to live much further from the reference meridian. Time zones are drawn to minimize social and economic hassle, so being a full hour behind or ahead of your reference meridian is not rare.
Which is why time zones were met with much the same kind of opposition when they were introduced in the late 19th century. I’ve been reading Keeping Watch: A History of American Time, by Michael O’Malley, which spends a full chapter on this debate.
And the argument goes even further back. Before time zones, people used local mean time. This is a convention that allows noon to occur at 24-hour intervals even though the traditional definition of noon (the Sun’s high point on a given day) describes an event that does not occur at equal intervals. If you take all the different solar noons and average them out, you end up with a “mean” noon. This simplifies clock making, since it’s hard to make a clock that speeds up and slows down to make clock time match “apparent time”.
Not impossible, in 1826, Yale University had a clock tower with a special mechanism to make it keep apparent time.This was accepted by the New Haven community as “true time” until a more ordinary clock was installed in the town hall. The new clock rarely agreed with the Yale clock, running up to 15 minutes behind or ahead, depending on the season. This led to a spirited debate over the definition of time, with vociferous letters to the Connecticut Journal accusing the new clock of “lying” — overlooking the small fact that people had been relying on clocks that kept mean time for centuries.