I HATE TIMEZONES

There's my manifesto, summed up in three words. I hate 'em. Timezones allow us to easily tell whether or not someone is having lunch, regardless of where they are (just ask them what time it is), at the cost that we have to know where in the world someone is and do some unintuitive math to figure out what time an event will occur if someone elsewhere in the world talks about it.

Even just in the US, we have four timezones to worry about. I have to do mental math every time a TV show tells me what time it'll be on, unless I'm watching a local network which gives times in my local timezone.

We don't have "season zones", where the reported season is based on your latitude (and is completely reversed when you cross the equator), despite the fact that the season name tells you nothing about the actual weather (summer in the Yukon is quite different from summer in Mexico!). It's easier to have a single consistent date and season that the whole world shares for bookkeeping purposes (March 8th is the same date everywhere), and then do the mental conversion based on the latitude when you need to know what the weather is somewhere.

Similarly, we could have a single consistent notion of time across the world for bookkeeping purposes, and then do the conversion to a notion of "local time" in the rare cases when you actually need to care what the local time is in some place.

I don't particularly care how we denote the global time. It probably makes the most sense to just use UTC all the time, which means that, no matter where in the world you are, the current time would be 22:52. I really like using beats (otherwise known as Swatch Internet Time), which represent time in millidays, but there's a killer issue with them - their 0-point is at midnight UTC+1, while the only reasonable measure of days flips over at midnight UTC+0, or @960 in beats. Using millidays with a different reference point would be too close and would cause confusion, so nuts to that. Instead, just for fun, I'm going to express the time in Base 60 minutes since midnight UTC. This lets me give the current time in only two characters, and trivially maps back to real time (the first digit is the hour, the second is the minutes). Using this system, the current time is Ns. Fun!

What About Dates?

I have a problem with dates, too - the Gregorian calendar is fucked up. We use a 7-day week, but none of our months (except, sometimes, February) are a whole number of weeks. Neither is the year, for that matter. The months are seemingly-random lengths, too - we have 7 31day months, 4 30day months, and 1 month which is 28 or 29 days, depending on the year, with all these lengths sprinkled arbitrarily across the year. We have to use a children's rhyme to remember the month lengths.

In general, I support Tantek Çelik's New Calendar, which is a very small alteration to the current calendar. It makes every month 30 days, composed of 6 5-day weeks. There are 5 intercaly days (6 on leap years) inserted after every second month. The dates in NewCalendar are no more than 4 days off of the current calendar, but the whole thing just makes *so* much more sense.

For the purposes of my home page, though, I'm instead using a slightly different system that's more compact - I'm representing the date as the number of days since the epoch, written in Tantek's New Base 60.

Thus, the final datetime can be represented in 7 characters - 3 alphanums for the day, an @ separator, and 3 numbers for the time. Short, sweet, and simple, if a bit hard to read.

Are You Serious?

Serious about our date and time systems being fucked up? Yes. Serious about the possibility of changing the systems that the whole world uses? No, I don't think we'll get to change our dating or timekeeping systems without a serious historic discontinuity.

Still, though, a guy can dream, right?