Time mushes on

Submitted by Steven. on December 21, 2010

--D.S. Black

Imagine the power invested in the Directorate of Time. These temporal bureaucrats have the ability to dispense precious seconds usually in the amount of a leap second to compensate for the Earth’s rotation, which surprise surprise does not always conform to our best laid plans.

For though we may live in a world in which the standard unit of time is pegged to the speed by which the Earth turns on its axis (24 hours), there are many forces at play to vary the result: gravity, strange weathers both inside (molten rock) and outside (oceans sloshing) the Earth throws a chaotic fudge factor into the equation.

On June 30, 1994, the atomic clocks used by our time-keepers were instructed to pause one golden gratis second to allow them to catch up to the absolute time implied by that irregular rotation.

It is interesting to note that despite the fever pitch of"progress" that has followed the Industrial Revolution, the Earth has in fact slowed down in recent centuries. Whether this lag is through worker disaffection or global warming, it does pose a number of interesting questions. It is similarly remarkable that the Directorate of Time, without any consultation from those affected, uses its infallible ex cathedra power to dole out extra ticks of the tock with hardly a ripple of interest or attention from even those who are most pressed for time.

Consider 30 June 1994. With just one second added to that day, multiplied by the 5 billion human beings alive at this time, a total of 158 years of subjective experience were gained by the species on that last day of June. What were we able to accomplish collectively in that time? In case you hadn’t heard, not a whole heck of a lot.

Many were asleep, and were able to squeeze in a few extra winks at their respective dreams and nightmares, if they troubled to adjust their clocks.

Those on the West Coast who work normal 9-5 jobs found themselves at 4:59:59 Pacific Daylight Time saddled with an extra second of unpaid work time. Out of a population of 30 million, one might conservatively estimate 6 million or more people in California were hustled without their knowledge for a fleeting second of their lives. It was not the first time, and would certainly not be the last.

If one computes the number of work hours this sly insertion of a leap second totaled, say it were all concentrated on the back of one poor schmo, it comes to approximately 70 days (1666 hours)or nearly 42 forty-hour work weeks of free time given to employers in the state. Sounds like a jackpot bonus year off all of our backs.

Look, it’s all in the fine print of the Directorate of Time’s Contract on America. To question or to argue with it is stupid, and a waste of precious time.