Administrative time alongside personal time

While Angela Merkel (1954) deals with Brexit, Jean-Claude Juncker (1954) has other serious issues on his mind, for example the choice of time zones and Winter and Summer time. I myself (1954) tended to look at Brexit and mathematics education but Dutch comedy talkhost Arjen Lubach (1979) last evening had a hilarious sketch on J.-C.’s proposal: so let me spend some time on it myself.

The clue is to distinguish:

  • administrative time (rules and regulations)
  • personal time (your health).

For administrative time, it is best to use the Swatch “internet time”, proposed in 1998 (wikipedia), and used in various math exercises to help students understand quantities and their conversions. For the 24 hours around the whole globe there are an uniform 1000 beats. Here is a converter. For appointments and opening hours, say of City Hall in Amsterdam or New York, it suffices to specify the beats, and the locals can convert to whatever time they wish.

For personal time, you want the noon sun to be in the zenith. Thus Zwolle might have 12 o’clock at some five minutes before the 12 o’clock in Amsterdam, if these localities might choose to do so.

The time zones in use now, like Central European Time (CET) and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) are compromises from a period when we did not have the facilities for instant conversion. They turn the notion of personal time into an administrative time that holds for everyone, since they are stuck into the psychological frame that all clock hands must show the same time.

I hadn’t realised before that this Swatch “internet time” is actually the same as the “decimal time” proposed in the French Revolution, with 10 hours of each 100 minutes. Apart from the other errors of this revolution (I am not trying to judge upon history itself now), their design had two errors: apparantly using the same terms “hour” and “minute”, creating confusion, and not properly distinguishing administrative and personal time. To prevent this confusion, we can say that a day has 1000 beats = 10 steins of 10 albs of 10 beats each, with thanks to Albert Einstein and his thinking on time. One alb would be 10 beats or 14.4 minutes or about a quarter of an hour, as you can check that a day has 24 x 60 = 1440 minutes.

Decimal clock of the French Revolution (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Obviously, there can be confusions. Someone in Amsterdam can be so locked in the Amsterdam bubble and make appointments only in Amsterdam-time, and leave it to others to convert to beats (in order to be on time), but such hassles would likely be better than the current health issues (that I wasn’t really much aware of).

Such health issues are now obscured and it would be better to have them into the open. For example, if a truck driver in Amsterdam has to get up very early to meet an appointment in Berlin, then the current time rules suggest that the truck driver has to rise at a normal time, but in fact there is a mismatch with the personal time. Thus, having a clear distinction between administrative time in beats (to meet the appointment) and the personal time (for health) then it is easier to monitor health issues and develop regulations on irregular working hours.

Some internet time enthousiasts might have suggested that that the clock with the 12 hours would be redundant, but now it appears that it would remain useful for personal time. Some ancient clock enthousiasts might suggest to use the dial with the 12 hours also for internet time, giving Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), already widely in use, so that the difference between administrative and personal time is only a negative or positive offset, and so that physics can keep using the second to measure the speed of light. However, the latter apparently is not understood by J.-C. and his advisors on time. The use of the 12 hours dial apparently invites the confusion of administrative beats and personal hours, so that it seems better to adopt the Swatch beats for administrative purposes.

Thus J.-C. better retracts his proposal. Perhaps some experimentation on the dual use of administrative beats and personal hours might be advisable before making this official. In the mean time (however measured), I would favour that Holland switches to GMT, even though this creates an administrative hour distance to Germany and brings us closer to the UK with its confusion on Brexit.

Arjen Lubach and the time zones, season 9 no 7 (Screenshot)


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