[time-nuts] FW: Bulletin C number 30

Mike S mikes at flatsurface.com
Mon Jul 4 18:01:30 EDT 2005

At 05:16 PM 7/4/2005, M. Warner Losh wrote...
>Leap days are predictable.  Leap seconds aren't.  Everyone deals with
>leap days because they have been around for thousands of years.  Leap
>seconds haven't and are random.  That's a fundamental difference.

Which I didn't deny and in fact pointed out. (Although the current system of leap years has been around less than 500 years, not thousands.)

You would apparently delay the issue for someone in the future to deal with, at which point they would curse you, just as we in the late 1990's cursed those who thought 2 digit years were sufficient. There were significant numbers of systems that were fortunate that the year 2000 followed a meta-meta-exception to the "4 year" leap year rules, and therefore did things "correctly," despite doing so for the wrong reason.

Civil time (i.e. the time most people actually use) is more valuable in every sense than any/all analytical timekeeping. There is a very real need to keep civil time in proper order. Those who keep analytical time chose to base their measure on civil time. It therefore behooves them to adapt and not demand that the tail wag the dog.

At some point, civil necessity demands that the "randomness" be addressed, whether the systems are allowed to slip 1 second, 1 minute or 1 hour (I note you DID NOT answer the very real question of how large that slip should be allowed to be). Eliminating leap seconds does absolutely nothing to resolve the real issue, it only postpones the need to deal with it. I submit it's better to do it now, correctly, than simply postpone the issue for someone else to deal with. Having once created systems which can handle leap seconds at arbitrary times (not even limited to twice yearly as is current convention), the problem is resolved, "forever." 

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