Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hour Wars (fusée horaire)

Time was, if an Anglo-American sought a safe unflustering topic to discuss in the drawing room, topic of choice was the weather.    But now, in the midst of global climate change and its strenuous deniers, so bland and traditional a greeting as “Hot enough for you?” is liable to provoke a fistfight.

Alright -- Into the lumber-room of forbidden subjects it goes, lying anyhow among the jumble of race, class, religion, economics, sex, and all the other no-nos.   So, what remains as a sufficiently anodyne conversation opener?

How about, “What time is it?” ? -- Well, so far  that sally leads to no bloodshed on the Yankee side of the Atlantic:  But do not try it in Spain.  That nation is now heatedly debating bringing its time-zone into line with geographical reality.   Sounds straightforward enough.    But -- How did it ever get out of sync in the first place?  Turns out it was nakedly political;  you can hear the strange tale here:

In summary:  The dictator Franco, back in his heyday, changed his country’s highterto realistic and conformable timezone  to be one hour later -- so as to share the timezone of the fascist dictatorships, Germany and Italy, to the east!   And to this day, no-one has undone it.

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