Higgins Time

Tales of batshit political supervillainy like this are why I still subscribe to the tz mailing list.

diff --git a/asia b/asia
index 7166380..5e27d85 100644
--- a/asia
+++ b/asia
@@ -2939,15 +2939,34 @@ Link Asia/Qatar Asia/Bahrain
 # Saudi Arabia
-# From Paul Eggert (2014-07-15):
+# From Paul Eggert (2018-08-29):
 # Time in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Arabian peninsula was not
-# standardized until relatively recently; we don't know when, and possibly it
+# standardized until 1968 or so; we don't know exactly when, and possibly it
 # has never been made official. Richard P Hunt, in "Islam city yielding to modern times", New York Times (1961-04-09), p 20, wrote that only airlines observed standard time, and that people in Jeddah mostly observed quasi-solar time, doing so by setting their watches at sunrise to 6 o'clock (or to 12 o'clock for "Arab" time).

+# Timekeeping differed depending on who you were and which part of Saudi Arabia you were in. In 1969, Elias Antar wrote that although a common practice had been to set one's watch to 12:00 (i.e., midnight) at sunset - which meant that the time on one side of a mountain could differ greatly from the time on the other side - many foreigners set their watches to 6pm instead, while airlines instead used UTC +03 (except in Dhahran, where they used UTC +04), Aramco used UTC +03 with DST, and the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Company used Aramco time in eastern Saudi Arabia and airline time in western. (The American Military Aid Advisory Group used plain UTC.) Antar writes, "A man named Higgins, so the story goes, used to run a local power station. One day, the whole thing became too much for Higgins and he assembled his staff and laid down the law. 'I've had enough of this,' he shrieked. 'It is now 12 o'clock Higgins Time, and from now on this station is going to run on Higgins Time.' And so, until last year, it did." See: Antar E. Dinner at When? Saudi Aramco World, 1969 March/April. 2-3.
+# newspapers.com says a similar story about Higgins was published in the Port Angeles (WA) Evening News, 1965-03-10, page 5, but I lack access to the text.

 # The TZ database cannot represent quasi-solar time; airline time is the best we can do. The 1946 foreign air news digest of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board (OCLC 42299995) reported that the "... Arabian Government, inaugurated
@@ -2957,7 +2976,8 @@ Link Asia/Qatar Asia/Bahrain
 # Shanks & Pottenger also state that until 1968-05-01 Saudi Arabia had two time zones; the other zone, at UT +04, was in the far eastern part of
-# the country. Ignore this, as it's before our 1970 cutoff.
+# the country. Presumably this is documenting airline time. Ignore this, as it's before our 1970 cutoff.
 # Zone  NAME            GMTOFF  RULES   FORMAT  [UNTIL]
 Zone    Asia/Riyadh     3:06:52 -       LMT     1947 Mar 14

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12 Responses:

  1. Mark Hughes says:

    I'm more familiar with Magnum Time (youtube search wouldn't find me another scene with Higgins being fussy about his watch)

  2. Steve Allen says:

    At the 2015 ITU-R World Radiocommunication Conference it was 6 Arabic-speaking nations which prevented leap seconds from being abolished after their contribution pointed out that 15 years worth of contributed documents had neither justified nor explained the consequences of such a change.

  3. rc says:

    I heard somewhere around the early 70's, part of Vietnam ran on Walken Time. But the method of timekeeping was apparently rather uncomfortable, and some died of dysentery as a result.

    • Unter Vasse says:

      Yes, unfortunately I think I recognize this pop culture reference. I wish I did not, but I do. What is there to be done about it now? Only a lifetime of regret, it seems.

  4. Tara Li says:

    It appears Tom Scott's rant for Computerphile (see YouTube) on Time Zones (and the one on Internationalization) just scratches the surface!

  5. thielges says:

    I’ve got a copy of Kendal & Dent’s Time Chart of the World which predates time zones. Back then every longitude was its own TZ. I’ll try to reference an image of the chart here which has a matrix of clock faces used to describe local time relative to GMT. The chart is fantastically London centric with several fine grained TZs in London alone, each a few seconds apart from each other. The whole of the USA is represented by times in just 4 cities.

    • grafted says:

      c. 1886 - neat. ☛ To read distinctly, place under a Magnifying Glass. ☚

      *"The word Fast indicates that the local time is Fast of Greenwich Time. The word Slow that it is Slow of Greenwich Time. and how much Fast or Slow is clearly shewn by the dials."*

      • thielges says:

        Thanks. That’s essentially the same document I’ve got sitting on my desk with slightly different text in the margins. One of these days I will figure out how to properly embed a (img src=...) tag into this blog.

        Amazing “New Yorker” perspective with England and Wales occupying half the chart and only about 20% dedicated to the rest of the world.

        • grafted says:

          You pretty much had it - there was some smart quote mess on the end of the URL that invalidated it (%E2%80%9D).

          The British Library one is decidedly bigger, ergo easier to read, hence linking to that.

  6. Kaleberg says:

    My favorite was Grand Central Station Time in 1949:

    "In 1949, Grand Central Terminal Station in New York City, used by more passengers than any other railroad station in the country, adopted two sets of summer time. The New York Central adhered to eastern standard time. The New Haven changed to daylight saving time. While trains departed on their regular schedules, they were apparently an hour apart. To accommodate travelers, all clocks were furnished with an extra hour-hand. "

    That's from the 1950 World Almanac. I should either say something profound about quantum time or suggest that someone write a WatchOS app to handle this kind of thing properly.

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