My word: Time warp trouble

That so-called ‘atomic clocks’ are keeping more accurate time than the rotation of Earth, necessitating a ‘leap second,’ worries me a lot less than Iran’s atomic plans and ticking time bomb.

Planet Earth (photo credit: REUTERS)
Planet Earth
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I don’t want to add to your worries: I know you are already bothered by everything from the weather to global jihad, increasing anti-Semitism, and the prosaic but challenging juggling act that your modern life requires. But this won’t take a moment of your time; and you’ll get a second of that back in a few months anyway.
According to an article by Denis Vitchevsky in Yediot Aharonot’s economic supplement Mamon on January 25, the world will be given a “leap second” between June 30 and July 1, to keep us all in sync.
Doomsayers who were not put off by their failed predictions that Y2K, known locally as Bug 2000, would bring about the collapse of the world as computers failed to make the transition from one millennium to the next were at it again this week. They foresaw chaos, at least in cyberspace, as computerized systems everywhere struggled to turn 23:59:59 on June 30 to June 30, 23:59:60 before letting us graduate to 00:00:00, July 1.
There is plenty of material available on the Web, while it’s still functioning, explaining the details for the layman.
I won’t waste your time going over it now. Apparently it’s all a question of physics.
The explanation that Earth is slowing down made my head spin, but I wasn’t surprised to discover elsewhere that it’s nonetheless sped up since the 1970s. After all: When was the last time you looked at a child and thought, “He’s growing up so slowly”? And how many people in the past 40 years have thought that the gap between one birthday and the next has grown longer and longer? I seriously doubt that the pessimists’ predictions of havoc will prove true. This will be the 26th leap second to be added since the system was initiated in 1972, although the 2012 addition was not without computer glitches leading to flight delays among other things. (How ironic is it that a flight might be held up because of the addition of time?) I do have some questions: I wonder what percentage of the world will squander the extra second updating Facebook and Twitter about it. When Facebook and Instagram collapsed earlier this week, how many people had the urge to post about it on the missing social media platforms? I guess most of the 1.39 billion Facebook users around the global village know where their missing time went, from one leap second to the next.
It seems strange that scientists can figure out the loss of a single second and how to retrieve it, yet a Malaysian airliner carrying 227 passengers could simply disappear mid-flight last year and its fate remains a mystery.
The fact that what is known as “atomic clocks” are keeping more accurate time than the rotation of Earth, the source of the time difference, worries me a lot less than Iran’s atomic plans and ticking time bomb.
The brouhaha over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s invitation to address Congress on the subject, two weeks before Israel goes to the polls, grabbed headlines for a good few days until ousted by the escalation of hostilities and the Hezbollah attack that resulted in the deaths of two IDF soldiers and a UNIFIL peacekeeper in the North on January 28. I concur with the conclusion of Yediot journalist Ben-Dror Yemini on the Netanyahu visit: “It’s not entirely clear that the timing was because of the elections, as it has been hinted here and there. It is entirely clear that the criticism itself was because of the elections.”
The same could probably be said of the events concerning the January 18 air strike attributed to the IAF on a target on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, in which Jihad Mughniyeh, son of former Hezbollah chief Imad Mughniyeh, was killed along with several others, including six Iranians, one of them a general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Muhammad Allahdadi.
The world, at whatever rate it’s turning, is certainly a peculiar place at the moment. The climatic swings are dramatic – friends in New York found themselves under the same snow-bound curfew this week that Jerusalemites endured earlier this month, although in both instances the amounts and disruption were far less than predicted.
Some friends in Australia have been complaining of unbearable heat; others of the heavy rainfall.
In his State of the Nation Address on January 20, President Barack Obama said, to warm applause: “The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.”
Obama is right: It is a concern and it needs to be tackled.
It has to be on the president’s to-do list, but that, as we all know, is no guarantee of success.
Obama and other leaders around the globe seem to have a problem keeping priorities straight in an ever-changing world. That’s why the absence of the US president from the show of support in Paris following the terror attacks there at the beginning of the month was so glaring. It was equally jarring to see the US leader, Secretary of State John Kerry and CIA Director John Brennan drop everything to journey to Riyadh for the funeral of King Abdullah and a meeting with his successor, King Salman. The 79-yearold new monarch, who is suffering from senile dementia according to some reports, is not likely to be the great modernizer Obama hopes for, especially given that four people were beheaded within the first week of his reign.
Yes, the Saudis are essential in the fight against Islamic State and al-Qaida, but it should never be forgotten where those movements were born and from what ideology.
The links between the Sunni jihadist movements can be seen, unless you’ve closed your eyes, in the way that Islamic State demanded the release of Iraqi-born al-Qaida failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi in return for the captured Jordanian pilot.
In November 2005, the newly married Rishawi and her husband, Ali al-Shamari, targeted a wedding party at a hotel in Amman as part of a triple attack which took the lives of 60 victims. Her husband was killed but she failed to detonate her explosive vest. I hope she’s spent the last 10 years as a widow contemplating whether her husband really was met by 72 celestial virgins in jihadi heaven while she was jailed in Jordan.
Rishawi is not a household name, but don’t rule it out. It might be a matter of time. This week I received a reminder by email that: “The Palestinian liberation icon Leila Khaled will be in South Africa between the 6th and 16th of February 2015 as a guest of human rights organisation, BDS South Africa. Leila Khaled has been to South Africa in the past, previously she was officially hosted by the South African Government and Nelson Mandela at his home.
Not unexpectedly, the Israeli lobby, including the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) have attacked Leila Khaled’s upcoming visit.”
If you can accept Leila Khaled as a human rights icon, you might not even realize the world has a problem.
Hijacker Khaled was reportedly the inspiration for Leela, Doctor Who’s savage-yet-sexy sidekick in 1975.
Talk about a time warp. Khaled and her natural successors like Rishawi and the brutally oppressive Islamic State all-female al-Khansa brigade police squad are about as warped as they get.
I’m prepared to cope with 61 seconds in any given minute.
It’s where the world stands in time and space that I find hard to fathom.
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