Yihui Xie

Timezones, and Worse, Daylight Saving Time

Yihui Xie / 2018-03-26

Does it really matter if the sun reaches its zenith everywhere on the globe around 12pm? I don’t think so. Compared with the endless and huge trouble caused by timezones, the benefit of the sun reaching its zenith at 12pm is just nothing. Australians don’t change the months (otherwise it would lead to “month-zones”) to make sure the summer always starts in June. Why do different areas of the world have to change their time to match the position of the sun? I’d be totally fine if the noon is at 3am in my place. Wouldn’t that be so much nicer if when we say a time, it is the same time across the globe? No more calculating “local” times or adjusting clocks. I wish Martin Maechler’s dream could come true someday.

One nice thing about the time in China is that the whole country shares the same time, from the very east to the very west, even though it means that 8am is still completely dark in the west.

In the US, there are four timezones (I’m aware of two more, Alaska and Hawaii), which is enough trouble, as in most other countries. There is an even worse thing: the daylight saving time (which was one of the cultural shocks I had when I first came here).

If I were able to vote, I’d vote for a president who promises to cancel DST, or better, timezones and the Fahrenheit scale, or even better, non-UTF8 character encodings! How much time have we wasted on those worthless inconsistencies?