Sunday, 31 December 2017

all times are local or dateline: anywhere on earth

As we are preparing for the countdown that marks the changing of the year, it always makes me keenly aware of time-zones and the procession of midnights across the globe, living in Germany and with family and friends in the States and how are festivities start much earlier and our sometimes unenviable jump on the cycle of things with the hegemon of time.
Six or seven hours’ difference is a relatively small one, especially considering how a transatlantic flight can negate that lag depending on one’s direction of travel and shifting up toward the international dateline one arrives at zone, International Dateline West, where the displacement is greatest and a few islands with no permanent human presence are the last to carry over into the new year. Because there are no people on this remote archipelago in the Pacific half way between Hawaii and Australia, Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) does not determine its clocks and calendars but for nautical and navigation purposes, it is twelve hours behind. Both of the named places, Baker and Howland Islands (the latter known for being one of the refuelling stations that Amelia Earhart never made it to on her ambitious round-the-world flight) are United States Outlying Territories acquired under the Guano Islands Act and presently comprise one of the world’s largest wildlife reserves. Another naming convention for this place outside of time is the calendar conceit of Anywhere on Earth (AoE), which for archival and chronicling purposes not tied to a location a period has considered to have expired once any and every place. 31 December is considered a closed matter with its associated deadlines past once it’s midnight on Howland Island, and the convention was established not so long ago by the international Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for balloting purposes, realising that that they could not privilege the local time and business hours of one member over any other voter.