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the last year of confusion

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Pioneering computer scientist, Alan Kay, once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

I have to disagree. I’ve found the best way to predict the future is to control it. And the easiest way to control the future is to be in charge of time. In my case that means establishing the calendar and setting the clocks.

If you find that assertion too presumptuous, please consider annus confusionis ultimus, the last year of confusion. In that fateful year of 46BC, Julius Caesar returned from war to discover Rome, which relied on a lunar-oriented calendar, had lost track of time. Resulting in a year that crazily stretched 445 days.

Things were way out of whack, and thank great Caesar’s ghost that the following year the soon-to-be-backstabbed emperor instituted his Julian calendar of 365 days with a leap day every four years.

Problem solved.

Until, over many centuries, the Roman miscalculation of the solar year by an extra eleven minutes led to another disruptive temporal drift. Prompting Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to decree the use of the Gregorian calendar wherein every hundredth year is not a leap year--except if the year is a multiple of four hundred.

Problem resolved.

Until the nuclear age. Since 1972, on average, a leap second has been added every twenty-one months to Coordinated Universal Time in order to accommodate the difference between imprecise Mean Solar Time and precise International Atomic Time. Better living through quantum timing.

Problem re-resolved.

Until, well, me. Through decades of working my way up through the byzantine International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Saint-Cloud, France, then securing a position as one of the eighteen members of the International Committee of Weights and Measures, I’ve finally amassed the clout to govern the next General Conference on Weights and Measures which meets every four years to make, pardonne-moi, very weighty decisions.

And there is no weightier decision than who controls the future. You see, a few years ago, the General Conference on Weights and Measures voted to scrap the leap second in 2035 because of complaints from Big Tech as well as governmental organizations citing increasing anomalies and failures in computer systems due to the addition of leap seconds.

From sparking hyperactivity in CPU high-resolution-timers to creating a negative value in code which assumes time moves forward consistently, many digitally dependent systems can get rocked by even a minuscule timing issue.

One can certainly understand the concerns, the inconveniences, the disruptions, the mayhem. Thus one can certainly appreciate the opportunity. At least I can. If adding a single second every few years gives Big Tech and world governments the cyber jitters, then imagine what might happen when a closet technophobe like me controls the clocks. Just imagine.

As the infamous story goes, in 1779, Ned Ludd, an English weaver, smashed up labor-saving knitting frames in a mill and became the namesake for decades of protest and unrest against mechanization that cost workers their livelihoods. As a neo-Luddite, I intend to rebalance the scales of power by cutting Big Tech and oppressive regimes down to size, unexpected nano-second by unexpected nano-second.

It’s been nearly 2100 years since annus confusionis ultimus and high time we slow down and get back in sync with our planet. At the upcoming meeting of the General Conference on Weights and Measures the countdown to a new age of clarity and parity will begin.

Put it on your calendar.

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