Rich White People Problems – The Leap Second

Elimination of the leap second could totally screw up Marty McFly's chances of getting back to 1985. How dare they even consider such a thing.

Apparently there is discussion afoot of eliminating the “leap second”.  That’s an extra second added to the clock once every year or two to accommodate the Earth’s bit of wobble.  The next one is due June 30th.  I will be throwing a leap second party at my house where I will invite guests in for exactly one second.  I won’t even need to clean the house because they won’t have time to notice the dust bunnies.

Some people want to eliminate the leap second because it means they have to shut their systems down for the length of a heartbeat.  In the words of Albert Einstein, “Aww, poor baby.”  Ok, maybe Einstein didn’t coin that phrase.  But he probably said it at some point.  Prove me wrong.

The reason for having the leap second is that it keeps the atomic clocks in line with the daily solar cycle.  Without it, noon  could occur while the sun is nowhere in sight… a thousand years from now.  Basically each century would get thrown out of wack by about 90 seconds.

Alright look… You people whining about shutting down your system for 1 freakin’ second once a year or so… Deal with it.  Your business won’t go bankrupt because you’re not plunging money from our pockets in that extra second.  And if we need to get rid of the leap second, let’s get rid of some other stuff that happens once a year, with far reaching effects, that I don’t like.  We can start with Tax Day, Black Friday sales, and new Lady Gaga videos.

On the flip side… Science is worried about the thousand year solar time shift that would happen.  As if sometime in the next thousand years we won’t come up with a better way to deal with the leap second.  The science community sure doesn’t have a lot of faith in themselves, do they?  How about a compromise?

Two ways to deal with that.  Plan A: Get rid of the leap second and put our an annual statement that nobody has figured out a better way to do it yet.  Sort of a “we’ll get to it next year” type thing.  Sometime in the next thousand years, someone will figure it out.  And the annual notice acts as a little reminder.  A scientific honey-do list.

Or Plan B: we stick with the leap second for the next 5 years while a few teams dig in and try to do it better, so the whiny business people don’t have to shut down for a second.  If we haven’t figured it out after 5 years, back to plan A.

Either way, don’t we have bigger issues to worry about?  I’m pretty sure there’s no guy looking at his post-cancer health bills totaling in the tens of thousands and thinking, “Boy that leap second sure is making life hard.”  As many different issues as were being raised during the Occupy demonstrations, I’ll bet nobody even mentioned the leap second.

My point is, if you have a strong opinion on either side of the leap second issue… just shut up already.

Phil Johnson

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