I know, lets fix an obvious software issue by redefining reality …

A little preface. In the late 1800’s, Indiana had some legislation to consider. It boiled down to the “squaring of a circle” which effectively put a value on pi (??) that was not correct. Go read the history, its actually a little sad.

The point of this is that reason eventually won out, and

The Indianapolis Journal had Senator Hubbell saying that “the Senate might as well try to legislate water to run up hill as to establish mathematical truth by law.” The Journal noted that

…no one who spoke against it intimated that there was anything wrong with the theories it advances. All of the senators who spoke on the bill admitted that they were ignorant of the merits of the proposition. It was simply regarded as not being a subject for legislation (Edington, p. 210).

So what is it that has put a proverbial bee in my proverbial bonnet?

A software group wants to effectively change the definition of UTC (a time standard) so as not to cause software to break, rather than, I dunno, fixing the software?

Current time on the planet is determined in a number of ways. A year isn’t defined as a fixed number of seconds, its when the earth returns to the same position in orbit as it was last year. There are roughly 31.5 million seconds in a year. The earth-sun system isn’t an isolated system, and some of this orbital kinetic energy is being transfered to other systems, or being lost to tidal forces and heating within the planet, ocean sloshing, atmospheric resistance … You get the idea. The system isn’t closed.

So, every now and then, to keep us with an approximately correct year, the geophysical union and others whom are the custodians of these bits of reality inject another second, a leap second, into the year.

I don’t really care that Oracle cluster server crashes when you do this. This is a software bug in Oracle’s system. Not a fundamental problem with the universe, and not one, certainly that should be patched by ignoring the physical universe around us.

This proposal, to eschew leap seconds in general, and allow UTC to deviate from UT in general, deserves only continuous heaping derision, not serious consideration.

You can’t patch the physics of the earth-sun system. You can patch the software. Lets do the latter, folks. Leave the precise determination of what a year means to the people whose job it is to measure and determine this.

Or soon we may be using ??=4, because, you know, that floating point math and transcendental numbers … they are just too hard for computers to do right. (read this part with the appropriate sarcastic inflections)

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