Apr 282004

As of this moment, God of the Machine is being read in twenty-five time zones. Hello Madagascar! (In what Guinness has certified as a new world record, it is being misunderstood in twenty-four of them.) We celebrated our 1,500,000th unique visitor and 10,000,000th page view, and that’s just this afternoon. (How do I know this? I counted, every one of them.) I’d love to write more, but my wine column’s due for The Spectator, Car and Driver is simply insisting that I take this damn Lamborghini out for a test drive, my agent needs to discuss the movie rights to my New York Review of Books piece on Proust’s influence on Balanchine, I’m already running late for my date with Uma Thurman, and Gisele Bundchen’s holding on the other line. Gisele so hates to be kept waiting.

(Update: Terry Teachout comments, generously. And points out that I owe him a link. So there you go. Rick Coencas thinks I missed something.)

  11 Responses to “Administrivia”

  1. I assume another disgusting bug got squashed.
    [insert mental picture]
    Current mood: Aha!
    Current music: Soviet hit of the 30’s "Enthusiasts’March"
    We’re born
    to transform the dreams into reality…
    Intellect gave us
    arms of steel
    And flaming motor in place of a heart…

  2. Hang on, twenty-five? I’ve just checked, and this map says there’s only twenty-four, just like the hours in the day. Or are you being read in one of those weird Pacific half-hour ones? (And was no one reading you in Dublin or London before Morocco? How odd.)

  3. I can’t get your map to come up, but it sounds like there’s a mistake on it. Sort of. The reason there are 25 time zones is that Russia for whatever reason decided years ago to go along with the existing time zones but to advance all of them an hour. That means that the easternmost time zone in Russiawhere the Chukchi peninsulas isis the twenty-fifth time zone. If the Russians had agreed to conform to the world’s standard, then there’d be only 24 time zones. This time zone also includes Tonga, in the south Pacific. Back during the Cold War, we Americans used to like to say that the day began in Tonga, which was an hour ahead of the time zone it would logically be in, but now that we’ve found new countries to be scared of, it’s okay to acknowledge that the world’s day begins in eastern Siberia, too.

    Of course, if you count those peculiar time zones that are off by half or quarter hours, there would be over thirty time zones. If they wanna be difficult, let ’em. But I’m not going to go out of my way to count anomalies.

  4. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a month, Aaron. If I may go further, let me add that my copy of An Aaron Haspel Reader has just arrived and boy, should you be proud.

  5. What? No link? God will smite you!

  6. So best, so true. Someone had to do it – so glad it was you. But I missed your weekly update on the price of Friday’s Wall Street Journal. Still holding steady with the donut market I hope. Or is it now tracking other pastries instead?

  7. That’s what I get for not keeping up with the blogs on the sidebar, I guess.

  8. "If the Russians had agreed to conform to the world’s standard, then there’d be only 24 time zones."

    But what about the half hour time zones (such as India) and different implementations of daylight savings time? I was unable to find a definitive time zone count, but this page claims that "If you look in your …/jre/lib/zi directory in your Java 1.4 install, you’ll see all the timezones. There are over 100 of the "America/Something" type alone, and close to 400 in total."

  9. I don’t know why you would count Chukchi as a time zone, but not a time zone inhabited by a billion people (the 30-minutes-off Indian zone). But I’m just a moron who can’t post a link right, so what do I know.

    Here’s my second attempt to post the link I quoted. Not that it’s very interesting; I agree that local peculiarities of daylight savings time probably don’t count as time zones.

    I lived in Indiana when I went to college, and didn’t mind the lack of daylight savings one bit. The northwest corner is on Central time the whole year round, to stay in sync with Chicago. (So is the southwest corner, though I’m not sure what their motivation is.) The rest of the state is in Central time in the summer, Eastern time in the winter — except that some counties in the southeast are "unofficially" on Eastern Daylight time, whatever that means.

  10. I gave those a mention, Floyd. I even alluded to Nepal’s fifteen-minute-off time zone. I tacked my last paragraph on as a way of saying I didn’t feel like counting those.

    The "America-something" time zones aren’t really time zones. For example, most of Indiana doesn’t recognize Daylight Savings Time. Most of the state, then, is on Central Standard year ’round, which is the same as Eastern Daylight. All of Indiana (except for a part in the southeastern corner, I think,) remains on Central Time of some sortpart is on Central Daylight half the year. The border of where the time change happens moves twice a year in that state. Weird, huh?

    Arizona keeps it simple: the whole state is on Mountain Standard year ’round. That’s the same as Pacific Daylight, so their time changes, too.

    I wouldn’t mind reading about more such anomalies, though. But your link doesn’t work and it’s late so I don’t feel like looking for it. I’m going to bed, instead. I’ve got a lot of bike riding to do tomorrow.

  11. I guess I like to recognize the Chukchi/Tonga time zone because even though it’s that odd 25th hour that tacks itself onto an otherwise logical set of 24, it still follows a reasonable procession, one hour after another, one zone to another. These splintered time zones make complicated something that is in theory so simple. Maybe it’s my issue; that I want something reliable in my life for a change. Area codes subdivide so much, it’s almost impossible to keep up. If I can’t rely on time zones, what is there?

    I have friends who live just west of Chicago. They have to deal with Indiana’s time zone oddities sometimes, since they have relatives in the middle of the state whom they visit periodically, and sometimes they have to adjust for an hour, and sometimes not. They don’t mind this, but they do tell me that they wish people wouldn’t refer to Daylight Time as "Standard Time." For example, my clock says 8:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time, but six months from now, after we set our clocks back, it’ll be Eastern Standard Time. For me, an East Coaster, it doesn’t make much difference, I guess, but for those near such problem states like Indiana or Arizona, it is relevant.

    The U.S. used to base the time on whatever it was in Washington, DC. There were hash marks laid out in either direction from Washington, with each mark representing one minute. Your number of marks to the east or the west of Washington determined what time it was, so moving from town to town meant moving from time to time, usuallythough just with miniscule differences. I don’t know how other countries did it; I imagine it was something similar to this. If so, that would mean that there were a helluva lot more time zones back then than there are now, so I guess I should be grateful, despite all these peculiar temporal oddities.

    Tomorrow I’m leaving to Cleveland for a couple of days, where it’s still the same time it is here, but sunset is later in the day. I prefer that.

    Thanks for the link, Floyd. I know of the major time anomalies, but the minor ones are news to me. That "seasonal time zone" in New Zealand is interesting. I’ll have to find out more.

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